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

Luke 15; Three Illustrations of Grace

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In Luke 15 Jesus gives us three parables to illustrate the Father’s love and forbearance. The first parable about the lost sheep shows us how God searches for the lost sheep. You never find a lost sheep looking for the shepherd, but rather the Shepherd looking for the sheep. I love the part about how He searches until He finds it. He does not give up. His Word does not return unto Him void.

In the second parable, of the lost coin, we find how God searches for something that is lost in the church or in the house. No doubt we can be lost in the church as well as without. We need to be with the Shepherd at all times to keep from being lost. When we keep our eyes on other people or even ourselves, we then take our eyes off the Shepherd and become lost. In Psalms 23, David says, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Shepherd is another word for pastor. David is declaring God as His pastor and no man. We should not worship pastors or elders or Bible workers. We need to worship and keep our eyes on Jesus so we do not get lost in the church. Thank God He can find us in the church. Let’s not be like ancient Israel and demand a man reign over us. Let’s let God reign over us.

The last parable  illustrates both a man lost outside the church and a man lost inside the church. Let’s take a good look at this one.

15:11     And he said, A certain man had two sons: 

 15:12    And the younger of them said to [his] father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth [to me]. And he divided unto them [his] living. 

 15:13    And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 

That is so like us! To tell God to give us His blessings but we are going to go live life our own way without Him, but we still want all His gifts. Doesn’t work that way! How many people today tell God I am going to live my own way but I still want you to keep blessing me? Do we even do this corporately sometimes?

 15:14    And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 

 15:15    And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 

 15:16    And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 

 15:17    And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 

 15:18    I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 

 15:19    And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 

 15:20    And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 

I love this part! While He was still a great way off, His Father ran to Him. In the dark ages, Pope Gregory made a German emperor stand out in the freezing cold with no shoes, for three days before he would hear and forgive him. What a misrepresentation of our heavenly Father who runs to us while we are still a great ways off! Notice, this is the only time we see God run in the Bible. How quick our heavenly Father is to forgive! (Check out this beautiful song about the only time God ran in the Bible.)

 15:21    And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 

 15:22    But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put [it] on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on [his] feet: 

Fact is he was not worthy to be called his son before he left. What child earns the right to be a son or daughter? Doesn’t it just go with the territory? It is not because of our works that we are the children of God but because of His love.

15:23     And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it]; and let us eat, and be merry: 

 15:24    For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 

 15:25    Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. 

 15:26    And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 

 15:27    And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 

 15:28    And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. 

Here we have a son who is angry because God is merciful! His refusal to accept the gracefulness of His father leads him to leave the house, or shall I say church?

 15:29    And he answering said to [his] father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 

 15:30    But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 

That must have hurt the Father’s feelings. All this time the Father thought the son had been working in His house because He was his son and loved him. Turns out he was only working so he could be rewarded. Now that does not sound like us at all does it?

 15:31    And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 

All that Father had was already his, not because he had been working all these years, but because the Father loved him and called him His son. The son who never left did not earn the goodness of the Father anymore than the son who left. It’s not about works. It is about love.

 15:32    It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. 

Jesus does not tell us how the story ends. Maybe because we decide for ourselves how it ends.

Matthew 20-23; My Thoughts

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa bay area.

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death  and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” Matthew 20:17-20

Here Jesus clearly tells His disciples that even though He will be put to death, He will rise the third day. This was to comfort them when He died, so that they would not despair. However, when that terrible night came, and He was crucified, His disciples gave up in despair, instead of remembering the promise. Does this happen to us as well? Jesus has warned us that bad things will happen to us as well but that He will always be with us to see us through and make us come out victorious. Let’s not be like the disciples and forget Jesus’  promises just because things get a little dark.

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”  Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”  Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:29-34

After reading this, I paused and asked what the message was here for me. I then prayed that God would give me spiritual eye sight. I may be spiritually blind and not even know it. At least these two men in the story knew they were blind. Jesus tells me in Revelation 3:17, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”  If Jesus says that I am blind then I must be blind! But I can ask Him for eyesight and I know He will have compassion and give it to me.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:34-40

Several years ago, I was reading Mervyn Maxwell’s book “God Cares” on Revelation. I read about the 144,000 being sealed with the character of God. At this same time, I had a friend who was in a major spiritual crisis, and dealing with issues from their childhood that they had no control over. In my tiny little mind I was trying to comprehend how my friend would have a chance to have their character sealed before the second coming, after all they have been through. I guess I was like the people Jesus was talking to in Matthew 22:29 when He said, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” The scriptures make it clear that God has the power to seal the weakest of humans with His character. Not realizing this, I picked up the phone and called Myervyn Maxwell. Even though I was total stranger, he gladly received my call. I told him my friend’s situation and how I wondered how they would ever have a chance if God is sealing His people right now. I loved his response and have never forgotten it. He told me that Jesus requires us to love Him with all of our mind, and whatever state my friend’s mind is in, all God asks, is that he love Him with all that is left of his mind after all he has been through. That sounds reasonable. Our God is very reasonable.

Matthew 23 is filled with warnings against hypocrites. Often we think of our adversary as the hypocrite and ourselves as being sincere. However, just this morning I ran across a quote of Facebook by C.S. Lewis: “‎”Humans are very seldom either totally sincere or totally hypocritical. Their moods change, their motives are mixed, and they are often themselves quite mistaken as to what their motives are.” I think we all need to remember this when dealing with others.

Matthew 1; Blogging Through the New Testament

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

This is my first blog on my current adventure through the New Testament.  I begin of course with Matthew chapter one.  As you notice, this chapter begins with a lot of begats. Sounds boring. Why do we need all of this repetition? Believe it or not, there is actually a point to the repeating of this lineage. Each generation had its weaknesses. These weaknesses were passed down from generation to generation on to Jesus. However, while Jesus shared the weaknesses of His ancestors He did not participate in their sins. Ellen White explains in her classic The Desire of Ages, p. 49; “It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life.”  Abraham lied to the Pharaoh of Egypt in regard to his relationship with Sarai. Isaac, Abraham’s son, did the same thing. Then Jacob, Isaac’s son lies to Isaac when he steals the birthright. Then Jacob’s uncle Laben, turns around and deceives Jacob. Generation after generation of liars! However, while this heredity was passed down to Jesus He did not give in to the temptation to lie and lived a perfect life, thus making it possible for us to overcome our heredity.

 

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [our] profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:14-16

 

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 10:13

 

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, [be] glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen.  Jude 1:24-25

 

Later in chapter one, we read of Joseph planning to quietly divorce Mary, since she is already with child, even though they have not been together yet. Here is a great lesson for us. Jacob is not going to gossip or publicly hurt Mary’s reputation. Didn’t Jesus also try to protect the reputation of sinners? He wrote in the sand, letting sinners see their own mistakes without having them publicly pointed out to them. He told parables so people could see themselves without having their sins published abroad. Of course Mary had not been cheating on Joseph as he thought. Here is another lesson. If Joseph could be wrong about Mary, even with the overwhelming evidence, could we also be wrong when we judge others?

 

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.