Stand Steadfast and Immovable

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O
 Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 NKJV

We must all be changed. How many times have we discussed that there is an abundance of grace in every transformation and change in the Bible – changing things seems to be the action and power of Grace. It changed a guiltless man on a cross into a sacrificial lamb, furthermore transforming him then from death to life! So this same HOLY power can dwell in us as we dwell in Him and are also made new by this same grace.

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you and give us wisdom. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is from the book of First Corinthians, chapters 15 through 16 (embedded below the image below for your convenience). Hold up… wait a minute. If you have been reading these for a while, you know the pattern and did you skip the prayer, the one right there above this paragraph? Please go back and pray it.  It is there for a reason – and I do not change it much for a reason.

Ok – now that we are all prayed up, let’s dig in. Life and death are not easy concepts. If I am to break it down into simplicity, I may seem cold and insensitive, but with great thought – they are not opposites and never actually break down to something easy.

Last night I was trying to quote Psalm 139, just because I haven’t in a while… and combined with the discussions on Roe vs Wade and I am preparing to go to a funeral today for someone I used to care deeply for…. I might be more raw in emotions while looking at some of the ugly truths in the word.

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.” Psalm 139:13-18 NKJV

As we see, for God we existed, and His process of creating each individual person began a LONG time before conception in the womb, before our parents did what they did, and long before Roe v Wade put a random timeline on when life is viable.
Back in the garden we see humanity was created to fellowship with God and manage this world. With some demonic help, we screwed that up pretty quick and everything from that point on was designed by God to restore the ability to have a relationship with each one of us – and help us be and fulfill our fullness of who we were created to be. Because each and every one of us is special and uniquely created for such a time as this and in the exact way in which He created you.

We are created. Even though the date is before conception, there is a date in which we start. In our limited understanding we use our birth as the date in which we measure ourselves, but God knew us before then.

Death is NOT the end of us. There is NO Biblical evidence that death is the opposite of life and birth. The Bible describes the death of a believer as being present with Christ:
“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8 NKJV

And the Bible describes death of a sinner as “Weeping and gnashing of teeth” as well as:
“A fiery furnace” Matthew 13:42, 22:13, 8:12
“Outer darkness” Matthew 25:30
“Bound hand and foot” Matthew 22:13
“Lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” Rev 21:8
“Unquenchable fire” Mark 9:44
And many more. None of which is an end… but it would seem people are aware and very much alive in this hell – at least in the sense that there is consciousness, awareness, ability to speak, cry and gnash teeth. There is the ability to feel pain and thirst.

So we are all sinners, this is why we MUST repent and get humble daily. This is why we MUST grow in our relationship with God, who washes us clean – transforming us in grace with the blood of Christ – washed as white as snow. Now I know there are doctrinal parameters put in place by man, for example some say ‘once saved always saved’. While I see verses that seemingly argue that point. And I do not intend to get off into a theological debate. Paul says we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).  I will say: this whole thing is NOT about us being saved from hell. That is NOT the point. It is good to thank God our names are in the lambs book of life. But the point is that we have a heart after God’s. The point is that we have a real relationship with God. The point is communion and fellowship with our creator. Yes, there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun…. But GLORY TO GOD – THERE IS A RELATIONSHIP TO BUILD!

Death’s sting is sin. (our opening passage, above) This is because sin leads to the death that is damnation and not the death that leads to being present with Christ.

SO I will be heading to the funeral for my old friend soon. Many Christian are surprised I am going. Let me explain.  I once dated this man who passed, years ago when I was not following Jesus.  When he and I broke up, we stayed friendly because we had many mutual friends. As we grew older he grew ill, and more ill and more ill. He turned to the “dark arts” for healing and I offered him another option (having straightened out my life by this point).  But then he explained he was a priest or something in some coven or something… all way to evil for me. Neither God nor satan want me there in understanding nor person. My friend, was very demonic towards the end, obviously possessed and tormented by those monsters. He literally fell apart – death certificate says “Unknown causes”. He was such a mess they didn’t even try to place blame on covid! It was sad and painful to watch a man, who I knew was deep down sensitive and kind and hurting and just needed love – the love of Christ – and watch himself destruct, reject God, and watch evil spirit literally rip him apart. Hell, literally began here on earth for him. And although I want for him to finally have a release and freedom from the torment and pain – I know the word of the Lord, and my friend most likely is being burned and tormented more.

STOP! Stop yourself. Do not do that! I know what you are about to say, every Christian has said this to me: ‘well you do not know if he cried out to God in those last minutes.’  First I find very little comfort in an irrational hope and the condescending message – as if I wasn’t tempted to rationalize out another way. Second, let’s stop avoiding the painful truth that many, many, many people go to hell! God tries to save us but narrow is the path to heaven and few find it. It happens. It’s ugly, raw and painful. But it is honest. And we must be honest, because it is in the truth that there is LOVE and life and God and Goodness. Even in a painful truth like hell. There is Life in that truth, because if we see and know and understand – how much more effective are we in our relationship with God and in our mission to GO tell others.

So circling back – why are Christians telling me not to attend his funeral? Because I am saved I am now better than my unsaved friends? I do not hang out with them anymore, mostly by their wishes. But where is my love and compassion, and consideration of their feelings, if I do not attend.  Why is my “saved” status a thing that should prevent me from participating in a grieving ritual of my culture? I too have lost a friend. Yes, sin complicated it and knowledge of death has complicated it even more! I am not going out to eat after. I am not going to socialize. I am going to go and offer my condolences and sit silent – raising a prayer in that darkness for the rest of them, then leave. Hopefully they will see Christ in me and some of them will be drawn to the Lord and Hopefully I can get out before any demons start manifesting! lol

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Sin had strength in the criminal, atonement laws – but Jesus completed it by being the sacrificial lamb – and sin is now weak. (I once struggled with addiction – sin did NOT feel weak. But that feeling was a lie from the devil!!! Sin is weak and already overcome!)

Paul’s conclusion is to thank God! Thank you God! Thank you Jesus! Thank you Holy Spirit! Thank you for the VICTORY through Christ – through His work on the cross! Thank you for giving me grace and saving me! Thank you for bringing me into a relationship! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

It is because we understand (this is why we made sure to pray for understanding today) – It is because we are thankful – it is because of the Cross and resurrection of Christ:
     That we can THEREFORE BE STEADFAST, IMMOVABLE and ALWAYS ABOUNDING in the WORK OF THE LORD!!

If this does not make you more stubborn for Christ – then go to the relationship section, read that then go back to the top and don’t skip the prayer and start again.

Be bold. Stand firm. Stand under His wing, in confidence of Him whom we believe!

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: This month we have another powerful verse – this one will give you peace that passes understanding as the world around us spins out of control we know our sovereign God still has a plan! We may not be able to comprehend, but hang in there His way is better!!   

Isaiah 55:8

NIV – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.”
NLT – “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”
ESV – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”
KJV – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”
NKJV – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.”
NAS – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.”
AMP – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: 1 Corinthians 15-16 NKJV

The Risen Christ, Faith’s Reality

15 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by [a]Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have [b]fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The Risen Christ, Our Hope

12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have [c]fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

The Last Enemy Destroyed

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have [d]fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

Effects of Denying the Resurrection

29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? 30 And why do we stand in [e]jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

A Glorious Body

35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.

39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind [f]of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.

40 There are also [g]celestial bodies and [h]terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made[i] of dust; the second Man is [j]the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the [k]man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we[l] shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

Our Final Victory

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a [m]mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55 “O[n] Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Collection for the Saints

16 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.

Personal Plans

Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits.

But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

10 And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11 Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren.

12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.

Final Exhortations

13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.

15 I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints— 16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.

17 I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.

Greetings and a Solemn Farewell

19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 20 All the brethren greet you.

Greet one another with a holy kiss.

21 The salutation with my own hand—Paul’s.

22 If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be [o]accursed. O[p] Lord, come!

23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Corinthians 15:5 Peter
  2. 1 Corinthians 15:6 Died
  3. 1 Corinthians 15:18 Died
  4. 1 Corinthians 15:20 Died
  5. 1 Corinthians 15:30 danger
  6. 1 Corinthians 15:39 NU, M omit of flesh
  7. 1 Corinthians 15:40 heavenly
  8. 1 Corinthians 15:40 earthly
  9. 1 Corinthians 15:47 earthy
  10. 1 Corinthians 15:47 NU omits the Lord
  11. 1 Corinthians 15:48 earthy
  12. 1 Corinthians 15:49 M let us also bear
  13. 1 Corinthians 15:51 hidden truth
  14. 1 Corinthians 15:55 NU O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?
  15. 1 Corinthians 16:22 Gr. anathema
  16. 1 Corinthians 16:22 Aram. Marana tha; possibly Maran atha, Our Lord has come

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