1st and 2nd Corinthians; God Hugged me Today!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].  1 Corinthians 10:31

I am continuing my journey through the New Testament, but my reading is way ahead of my blogging. I guess to get somewhat caught up, I can just summarize 1st and 2nd Corinthians. Paul talks about a lot of struggles. “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; [In] journeyings often, [in] perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils by [mine own] countrymen, [in] perils by the heathen, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” 2 Corinthians 11:25-27 After all this Paul still calls all his problems, “light affliction.”  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

Sometimes, for the sake of the gospel we go through trials. Sometimes the enemies of the cross persecute us for preaching the gospel. Satan would want us to feel alone, like we are the only ones who have ever  “ endured such contradiction of sinners.” But we are not alone! Jesus also endured the same. “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:3.

Paul tells us plainly in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that the trials we go through are common to man. We are not alone. He also tells us, Jesus will bring us out of every one of those trials and temptations.

God has richly blessed me, but my life is not without trials. Last night, after a full day of Bible studies, and then church board meeting, I went out to Ballast Point Park, on Bayshore drive to talk with God. Life has been good. I told God just how good life has been. I told Him how much I appreciate all the wonderful things He has done and is doing in my life, and for those I love. As I sat on the pier, overlooking the city lights, I prayed for all the people of Tampa, that they would have the hope that is in Jesus. I then confided to God, that while all is going well, I still know there are those who oppose the cross of Christ and try to cause problems, and prohibit the gospel to reach the hearts of others.  I told God of people I want to reach with the gospel, but their so called friends are keeping them away. I also told God there are people who do not like what I do, and would like to see me stopped. I thanked God for supporting my ministry. I thanked Him for all the opportunities He has given me to share His love, and for the hundreds of people who loyally support my ministry with offerings, prayers, work effort, and encouragement. I promised God that I would keep spreading the gospel just as long as He continued to give me victory over the enemies of the cross.

This morning I walked into the Community Service Center at church, like I always do every Tuesday morning, where I meet with and encourage those who are down and out, and invite them to our church activities. Today, as soon as I came in the door, an elderly lady volunteer walked up to me. Without me saying a word, she gave me a big tight squeezed hug and told me to keep spreading the gospel and that God was not going to let anybody get in my way! I have never spoken a word to this lady about any of my trials or personal life, but she looked me right in the eye as though she knew everything, and told me she knew what I was up against, and that Satan was against me but that he would be overcome and that Jesus would be victorious. I stood amazed. Her words seemed to be in direct response to my prayer just hours before. I considered her words to be from God. Then I realized, if the words came from God, then so did the hug!   God hugged me today!

1 Corinthians 1-3; God is too big for any one Camp

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.  1 Corinthians 1:12-17

I guess it is human nature to get caught up in some camp, some camp of thought in the church. Paul realized that God is too big for our man made camps. There are liberal camps, conservative camps, different theological camps in the church, but fact is God does not fit in any one camp. Fact is, we all balance each other out. Now I am not saying that there are no errors out there that we need to be aware of and avoid. There are. But in this passage Paul is discouraging people from following their favorite preacher and just joining a man made camp.

I have my favorite authors, but I do not read just one author. I do not follow just one pastor as my mentor. That would be a cult. When one person does the thinking for the whole group there is certain danger ahead. I love it when people I have been studying with come to church and hear different people preach and Sabbath School teachers teach. I want them to hear what others have to say. I want them to get different views and then use their own brain to form their own opinion. I do not want to do their thinking for them. Be very afraid of the so called gospel worker who claims he is right and everyone else is wrong. Be very afraid of the so called gospel worker who tries to “protect” you from corruption, and tells you to only listen to him. Use your brain and let the Holy Spirit and God’s Word lead you into all truth and not  man.

For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I [am] of Apollos; are ye not carnal?  
 Who then is Paul, and who [is] Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?  
 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 
So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.  1 Corinthians 3:4-7