Introduction

Hi there. Thanks for reading. I have a story to tell. It is the story of me, and my relationship with my best friend, who is awesome. It includes my hopes for my loved ones, family and friends.

I have knowledge and lessons to share. I have Biblical wisdom and practical applications. I have learned many of life’s big lessons flat on my face and maybe I can help you avoid them.

God is: Elohim (Isa.40:1), El Shaddai (Prov. 3:27), Jehovah-Jireh (Gen. 22:14), my redeemer (Isa. 41:14), my way, my truth, my life (John 14:6), and my beginning and my end (Rev. 22:13). The bible says it, I believe it – its good enough for me.

If you read these posts and want to develop your own relationship with God through Christ Jesus, it is easy to do. He wants to have a relationship with you. At the end of this post is a prayer, you can pray.

“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 who you said 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 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.
Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. Please reveal yourself and your ways to me and in my life.
In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

I pray you find a good church near you and let them help you grow after you decide to follow Him. I hope you are blessed. Thank you for reading. Have a wonderful day.

WEEKEND READING – 5-21-22

Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. Psalm 51:1-13 NKJV

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.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“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

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. 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 our sound mind. 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 the Book of Psalms chapters 47-51 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).

Praise to God, the Ruler of the Earth

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

47 Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
For the Lord Most High is awesome;
He is a great King over all the earth.
He will subdue the peoples under us,
And the nations under our feet.
He will choose our inheritance for us,
The excellence of Jacob whom He loves. Selah

God has gone up with a shout,
The Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding.

God reigns over the nations;
God sits on His holy throne.
The princes of the people have gathered together,
The people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
He is greatly exalted.

The Glory of God in Zion

A Song. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

48 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised
In the city of our God,
In His holy mountain.
Beautiful in [a]elevation,
The joy of the whole earth,
Is Mount Zion on the sides of the north,
The city of the great King.
God is in her palaces;
He is known as her refuge.

For behold, the kings assembled,
They passed by together.
They saw it, and so they marveled;
They were troubled, they hastened away.
Fear took hold of them there,
And pain, as of a woman in birth pangs,
As when You break the ships of Tarshish
With an east wind.

As we have heard,
So we have seen
In the city of the Lord of hosts,
In the city of our God:
God will establish it forever. Selah

We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness,
In the midst of Your temple.
10 According to Your name, O God,
So is Your praise to the ends of the earth;
Your right hand is full of righteousness.
11 Let Mount Zion rejoice,
Let the daughters of Judah be glad,
Because of Your judgments.

12 Walk about Zion,
And go all around her.
Count her towers;
13 Mark well her bulwarks;
Consider her palaces;
That you may tell it to the generation following.
14 For this is God,
Our God forever and ever;
He will be our guide
[b]Even to death.

The Confidence of the Foolish

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

49 Hear this, all peoples;
Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
Both low and high,
Rich and poor together.
My mouth shall speak wisdom,
And the meditation of my heart shall give understanding.
I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will disclose my [c]dark saying on the harp.

Why should I fear in the days of evil,
When the iniquity at my heels surrounds me?
Those who trust in their wealth
And boast in the multitude of their riches,
None of them can by any means redeem his brother,
Nor give to God a ransom for him—
For the redemption of their souls is costly,
And it shall cease forever—
That he should continue to live eternally,
And not [d]see the Pit.

10 For he sees wise men die;
Likewise the fool and the senseless person perish,
And leave their wealth to others.
11 [e]Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever,
Their dwelling places to all generations;
They call their lands after their own names.
12 Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not [f]remain;
He is like the beasts that perish.

13 This is the way of those who are foolish,
And of their posterity who approve their sayings. Selah
14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave;
Death shall feed on them;
The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning;
And their beauty shall be consumed in [g]the grave, far from their dwelling.
15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of [h]the grave,
For He shall receive me. Selah

16 Do not be afraid when one becomes rich,
When the glory of his house is increased;
17 For when he dies he shall carry nothing away;
His glory shall not descend after him.
18 Though while he lives he blesses himself
(For men will praise you when you do well for yourself),
19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers;
They shall never see light.[i]
20 A man who is in honor, yet does not understand,
Is like the beasts that perish.

God the Righteous Judge

A Psalm of Asaph.

50 The Mighty One, God the Lord,
Has spoken and called the earth
From the rising of the sun to its going down.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God will shine forth.
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent;
A fire shall devour before Him,
And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him.

He shall call to the heavens from above,
And to the earth, that He may judge His people:
“Gather My saints together to Me,
Those who have [j]made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.”
Let the heavens declare His righteousness,
For God Himself is Judge. Selah

“Hear, O My people, and I will speak,
O Israel, and I will testify against you;
am God, your God!
I will not [k]rebuke you for your sacrifices
Or your burnt offerings,
Which are continually before Me.
I will not take a bull from your house,
Nor goats out of your folds.
10 For every beast of the forest is Mine,
And the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the mountains,
And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.

12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you;
For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.
13 Will I eat the flesh of bulls,
Or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God thanksgiving,
And pay your vows to the Most High.
15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

16 But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to declare My statutes,
Or take My covenant in your mouth,
17 Seeing you hate instruction
And cast My words behind you?
18 When you saw a thief, you consented[l] with him,
And have been a partaker with adulterers.
19 You give your mouth to evil,
And your tongue frames deceit.
20 You sit and speak against your brother;
You slander your own mother’s son.
21 These things you have done, and I kept silent;
You thought that I was altogether like you;
But I will rebuke you,
And set them in order before your eyes.

22 “Now consider this, you who forget God,
Lest I tear you in pieces,
And there be none to deliver:
23 Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright
I will show the salvation of God.”

A Prayer of Repentance

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

51 Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just [m]when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 48:2 height
  2. Psalm 48:14 So with MT, Syr.; LXX, Vg. Forever
  3. Psalm 49:4 riddle
  4. Psalm 49:9 experience corruption
  5. Psalm 49:11 LXX, Syr., Tg., Vg. Their graves shall be their houses forever
  6. Psalm 49:12 So with MT, Tg.; LXX, Syr., Vg. understand (cf. v. 20)
  7. Psalm 49:14 Or Sheol
  8. Psalm 49:15 Or Sheol
  9. Psalm 49:19 The light of life
  10. Psalm 50:5 Lit. cut
  11. Psalm 50:8 reprove
  12. Psalm 50:18 LXX, Syr., Tg., Vg. ran
  13. Psalm 51:4 LXX, Tg., Vg. in Your words

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

John 20:31- “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

Being Humble Stewards – 5-20-22

You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you!” 1 Corinthians 4:8 NKJV

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.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“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

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. 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 our sound mind. 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 the Book of First Corinthians chapter 4 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Stewards of the Mysteries of God

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human [a]court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the [b]counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.

Fools for Christ’s Sake

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be [c]puffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who [d]makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle [e]to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we [f]entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.

Paul’s Paternal Care

14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.

18 Now some are [g]puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

Footnotes

  1. 1 Corinthians 4:3 Lit. day
  2. 1 Corinthians 4:5 motives
  3. 1 Corinthians 4:6 arrogant
  4. 1 Corinthians 4:7 distinguishes you
  5. 1 Corinthians 4:9 Lit. theater
  6. 1 Corinthians 4:13 exhort, encourage
  7. 1 Corinthians 4:18 arrogant

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

John 20:31- “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

This is a transitional chapter – Paul begins to wrap up the his answers to the division and problems while continuing to build on the other things happening that could lead to it or are a result of it (which is implied – maybe he is just speaking of other things because he wants to).

He starts this chapter off with saying we should steward the mysteries of God and a mini lesson on stewardship.  Stewardship is a word we do not use often anymore except maybe when talking about tithing and Bible verses that use it.  The lack of use and understanding of this word is actually huge!
My son’s generation, for example, do not like when you say: MY child, or MY husband, or MY wife, etc. Because we are not slaves and not possessions to be owned. If they understood stewardship they would understand that ALL children are a gift from God to us, they are ours – not to treat poorly, but to love. We then dedicate those children back to God and we become their stewards. In a godly marriage we take the covenant oath to give ourselves to the other person – or your father gives you away. Then if truly godly – you both give the marriage to God and become stewards of it. As a good Steward, I can say it is mine because it is mine to steward. And yes – God does believe we are possession, but not in a mean slave master way, but in a tender fatherly way. Is there nothing godly, that the enemy doesn’t try to corrupt?

To steward means it’s your job to manage and care for another person’s property, as an agent, overseer, custodian, caretaker – and in old English it usually described a servant who was loyal who cared for another’s property as if it was their own.
Now that we have a better understanding of the term…

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”

Are you a good steward of the mysteries of God (aka the gospel message)? Are you faithful enough to be a steward? Paul doesn’t ask the questions, but leaves this concept out there for us to ask ourselves these questions on the heels of his lengthy discussion of God’s wisdom vs man’s wisdom in relationship to division. We must not forget yesterday’s reading or it all becomes disjointed and out of context.

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.”

Even with reading it all together Paul sometimes seems to jump around and contradict himself. Last letter we read he wanted us to judge evil from good and flee from evil (yes, over simplified). And now we cannot judge?! What is he really saying? Because – YES as Christians we do need to judge right and wrong to avoid getting involved in the wrong.
The key words in this passage are “human court”.  Recalling that we are speaking of division and wisdom – Paul is speaking of taking Christian’s dirty laundry out before the world to be judged. The Bible says we will judge angels one day – and we want to subject ourselves to ungodly man for a corrupted justice?! You see if Christianity worked the way it is supposed to we are wiser in God.  It is better to concede for the good of the unity in the body than to prideful defend your innocence (even if you are innocent, especially if you are innocent)! Your praise will come from God.

You see those who are wise in the Lord will pray that in the Lord’s time, He Himself will shine a light down and expose hidden things of darkness and reveal the hearts.  Make sure your own heart is repentant and humbled though, because God’s judgement fall first on the righteous then on the unrighteous.

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may bepuffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

“Have figuratively transferred to myself…” Here is where Paul states what is obvious to the church of Corinth and helps us understand – He substituted his own name and Apollos’s name instead of the names of the people involved in the situation.

But in this section, Paul addresses the thing accompanying this division – Puffed up, prideful, and “I’m better than you” attitude. I speak against pride almost daily, as humility is the key to entering the Lord’s presence. But really what makes any of us any different – we all bleed red, if cut – we are the same. We may have received a deeper understanding than other, but we should not judge them for not knowing. Instead we should teach them and bring them up to speed. It is not about who gets to heaven with the most crowns – it is about who doesn’t get to heaven and why. Was it because we did not tell them? Was it because we judged them and caused offense? Was it because we made them feel they will never reach the depth they hunger for? Did we even inspire and nurture hunger for God and more of God?

Paul then tries to give the members of the church a different perspective.

You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you!”

This goes for everyone in the church body – you and me included! God put us, as long as we are humbly serving Him in a position of full. I say this from a position of lack in the world’s eyes – but I have used this time of being sick and not making money to press in and grow deeper, fulfilling my commitment to this ministry, and to my relationship with Jesus first and I am full in spirit and truth! I am already rich!!! I have reigned as a king, in the authority of the Name of Jesus and the power He has given me and flowed through me. We often forget we are the head and not the tail – we are above only and not beneath! We forget we are seated in heavenly places – written in present tense. If we could only remember our position, humbly so we do not fall – how much more effect we would be then sitting around complaining about being poor and sick! I may be sick, but I shared Jesus with someone this week. I may have covid and the enemy thought I would not see anyone face to face and yet – sitting 7 or so feet apart, I was able to share Jesus while sitting on my porch! The enemy meant for this to be a distraction and a terrible time and God has shown me all the blessing in it and given me opportunity to give as well as seed to give.

Here is another perspective – there are those out there trying to share Jesus in modern China. Where many cities are in lock down. Where many are forced into quarantine camps – a modern version of a concentration camp as far as we can tell from the outside. Or for perspective, there are women missionaries in Muslim countries! Or for perspective, there are missionaries in the center of many war zones. Or for perspective:

For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.

I suppose without persecution humans sometimes create their own drama, and in their own insecurities and desire for acceptance and admiration they do the same. Stirring up strife and division – forgetting to keep our eyes on Jesus and NOT to look away.  Why does God love us so much?!
Thankfully God using a letter to correct the church instead of letting a bunch of Pharisees beat and throw the whole lot in jail, like they did to Paul and Silas.
Although it wouldn’t be long until Rome tore down the temple and used the spoils to build the colosseum and then round up the first century believers and parade them through to be killed for public entertainment. I hope this church got its act together in time.

14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.”

Remember Paul arrived in Corinth and started gathering together all the believers – he formed the church there. In Corinth, he stayed longer than he stayed at most places. The Roman governor did not care about what the Jews or Christians were doing – so he did not support the Jews who wished to run Paul out of town. Without support everyone gave up on trying to get rid of Paul – so Paul formed a church and taught them well. The church in Corinth had some of the best and strongest teachings of all the churches – yet they still had problems.
If you are a teacher and you do your best and there are still problems in the church… it isn’t you. It’s the people. (Remember God gives the increase – wait on Him.) And…

18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?”

…And you can use this tactic with your congregation. It is ok to stand up and call sin, sin and call out the problems in the church. It is ok to come with a rod like a disappointed father. But wake them up and warn them – let them choose which way you will come.

I assume all of you are perfect and ideal reader – you read, you look up to make sure I am not off base, you discern the spirit of the message, You listen for the voice of the Lord in it all, and the Lord guides you. And you are perfectly obedient to everything He says and requests. I am so much luckier than a pastor of a church! So I do not come to you with a rod.
But I have touched on a few thing that make me good and frustrated and I pull out my rod to show the world I have one! But y’all are sweet and perfect!

Well, no more perfect than me and I am a mess! But Glory to God – He still loves us! And as long as we remain humble steward of God’s mysteries, God will help us get to where He wants us, physical, financially, in health and in spirit. Even if God has to send a rod to correct us occasionally.

Join us this weekend for some wisdom reading from Psalms – keep in mind that God’s wisdom is NOT our wisdom and try to understand God’s ways while reading. And I’ll be back on Monday with a discussion of First Corinthians chapter 5, if the Lord wishes.
Have a blessed weekend!  

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

Unity in the Temple – 5-19-22

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16 NKJV

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.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“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

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. 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 our sound mind. 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 the Book of First Corinthians chapter 3 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Sectarianism Is Carnal

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and [a]behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

Watering, Working, Warning

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone [b]defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

Avoid Worldly Wisdom

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Corinthians 3:3 Lit. walking according to man
  2. 1 Corinthians 3:17 destroys

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

John 20:31 “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

Paul stays on point for a while in this letter, giving us multiple examples and ways to think about the answer to their problems, i.e. sectarianism. You would think that there would be NO WAY Christianity would ever divide into different denominations, especial after today where Paul calls it carnal and childish. But here we are in 2022 looking around at more denominations than I can count.  Where did they go wrong? Did they skip the book of First Corinthians? Did they think since they did not personally know Paul or Apollos or follow either, they were right?

What a divided mess we now have to clean up. A job that seems impossible.

And what does carnal mean? I used a search engine and got this combinations: needs and activities pertaining to the flesh, pertaining to the physical, especially sexual.

Now this whole section of First Corinthians, about division can also apply to clicks and groups of people that separate and divide the body of believers. You know the ones who follow one person in the church or another. The last church I attended, the leader of the music ministry was a pastor and a man, but the woman who sang lead was amazingly talented. The body became divided as she released a worship album – some followed her like groupies and some stayed loyal to him. While the two of them refused to divide and are still in conflict with the members. What a mess we people make – NONE of them are focused on God. The music ministry tries it’s hardest to focus on God, but are constantly distracted by this nonsense.
Anyway, this section can apply and you will see lots of applications and ways it applies – but be care how you apply it, because it is really for when people follow other people instead of God and not for other types of divisions like offenses. (Although, sometimes offenses can manifest themselves as this.)

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?”

The church I currently attend split almost 20 years ago – families I grew up with are spread among many churches in the area. Some stayed, some followed the preacher (he left and started a new church) and the rest scattered to other churches. Lots of pain and hurt feelings and petty behavior came out in that – everyone was hurt. I do not believe anyone was untouched emotionally.
They were all babies. A community of fat babies who do not what to surrender to God the area of division. And other areas.  
I grew up, led and taught by these carnal believers. I thought they were old and wise. When I wandered off and returned, God tore down my foundation as it was corrupted by their flesh. The God rebuilt me. There isn’t division in my current church – but my community and the believers in this community are still divided.  That tells me, as Paul says here – we are all still carnal babies. Truth hurts – my community is in rough shape. As I speak with people from all the different churches, they all say they are all grown up and the others are still babies…. Maybe not in those words, but each with words similar. Oh Lord how will you unity my community. Am I carnal – I hope not! Are they all – I am sure there are a few who may have grown up. They wonder why there are few signs and wonders, few new converts, little transformation instead of huge transformation even though one of the pastors preached on transformation for moths. Transformation is grace – Grace changes everything it touches… yet they hardly let it touch them.

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”

Yeah, it doesn’t matter what is preached – God is the one who grows the seeds inside people. This is an important principle for you and me to know. When we step out and share Jesus with someone we are either planting or watering (same job and we do not know which) but we cannot save these people, we can tell them, led them, but we can’t make them change, or accept Jesus. Only God can increase – only God brings growth.

So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.”

In case you missed it – God does the work. Our jobs are just to sow and water.

Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”

Just to sow and water – well, it is an honorable task in which we will be rewarded. I can show you a bunch of passages that says we will be rewarded on earth as well as in heaven if we just sow and water.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Verse 9 is fun we are to be God’s sowers and builders – but we also are the field in which others sowed and watered and we are the building where others built.
Now when I came back to God it was through a Pastor in New Jersey, on the internet – shared on Facebook. (This is why I do encourage sharing preachings, teachings and other things that include the salvation message – it might save someone. Also our Facebook as the salvation message first thing on the page when you are on your mobile devise. Sharing the gospel / salvation message doesn’t mean you have to speak, you can share it literally by sharing someone else’s voice. And that is considered a good work in God’s eyes. I would have never accepted Christ from that friend, who shared Pastor Tom. But I did accept it from Pastor Tom.) And I had a long history of sowers and waterers and builders before him. He just happened to be there the moment I was ready. I give him the credit and followed his church until I started going to church with my friends. But I do not say I am of Pastor Tom. I thanked him for his obedience to God, as well as thanking my friend who shared him. But many build, watered, sowed and prayed for me to get to that point.  I still keep in touch and join his prayer group daily. But I am of God – not of Pastor Tom.

12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
The day will declare it. Paul often refers to the judgment day of God for each of us – when we come before the Bema Seat. We cannot get into heaven by our works. But once we get into heaven our works will be judged. If your works are like straw weak, dry and hollow – they will burn up as God’s judgment is like a fire. If your works are solid and pure – like gold and silver, then when you were tried on earth you passed the test and your works will pass through the judgment unharmed.
If your works are burnt up – you will feel it and count it as a loss. I don’t know what that means other than you will know you missed it. But it doesn’t affect your entry to heaven. That is a gift.
What this is NOT saying is that once you are saved, you are always saved and it doesn’t matter if you obey and follow and renounce sin. As we just saw in Romans, sin will separate you and bring down judgement. You see we are judge to get into heaven, once in heaven your works are judged.
We saw in Romans, that continuing in sin and disobedience slides you away from God without you even knowing it and you may stand before God and say, but I tried and he will say depart from me you evil doer; I do not know you! (Matt 7:23)

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

This gets real. Or at least it should. Do you understand you are the temple? Do you understand that symbolism and the reverence and holiness and purity and what a huge mind blowing idea this is?? We are talking to the Corinthians, in Corinth, surrounded by temples. They understood temples and what they represented. In our modern churches, we no longer get dressed up for church. We no longer enter the sanctuary and bow and remain in humbled silence. I am not saying we should return to it, especially in a world so divided. The fellowship and love is so vital. With so much social distancing and economic struggles some people only see other people on Sunday and at church. This is a new time.  But let us not fail to tell our children and grandchildren of the reverence and humility that belongs in the holies of holies within the temple. And let us not fail to teach them to adorn and care for it and anoint it with oils and make it a worship unto God.
When we go meet new people we dress all up for them, to make a good impression. When we go on a date we dress all up for them and want to look our best. When we realize the most powerful being in all the world is able to live inside us – how much better should we care for his habitation?
So say it out loud – declare it ten times loudly, loud enough to get through the dirt in your ears, and loud enough to stir your heart. Loud enough to make the enemy take notice – I AM THE TEMPLE OF GOD! I AM THE TEMPLE OF GOD! I AM THE TEMPLE OF GOD! I AM THE TEMPLE OF GOD!

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”

I love how wisdom is one of our goals for this year and God is just shaking it down. Get the wisdom in the breaking down of man’s wisdom!!

21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

Are you believing for something big today? “All are yours”! Say “All”! All – everything. Even the thing you are believing for. Even the things you are hoping for. ALL! All is yours and you are Christ’s!
Get more excited about this, that you belong to Christ, the savior! Praise the Lord Oh my soul! This is much better than all being mine! Hallelujah!  
And even better than that – Christ is God’s. Who or what can be against us. Who or what can withhold from us, and woe to him to tries to touch the Lord’s temple without HIS permission!
Just praise the Lord and thank Him for this divine set up – for him having us through Christ – for the authority from Him. And that in this we are all equal – all who believe and obey his voice.  

What is actionable so we can get this word inside of us and act on it? Have you ever felt or are you divided from the whole Body of Christ because of a loyalty to a denomination? I was literally taught by my mother that we were Assembly of God and we could not go outside of that. I spent a year going to a Baptist high school. I looked at my peers like they had something wrong – and that was the best my childish brain could understand. I have repented for that – even thought I did not know I was wrong, I was still wrong and had to repent. Today I am friends with many Baptists, as well as nondenominational and others. We can disagree about some of the trickier passages – but do we have the same spirit? Are we part of the same body? Are we part of the Kingdom? If you find yourself in here, repent and ask for forgiveness. Get kingdom minded.
Second is – if you have not been treating your body as the temple it is, then you must repent! You must ask for forgiveness and grace and help to treat the body the way God intended you to. May some goals, with Gods guidance and rely on his help along the way while you build new habits of true self care, because it is temple care.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

Waiting for More of God to be Revealed to us – 5-18-22

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV

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.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“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

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. 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 our sound mind. 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 the Book of First Corinthians chapter 2 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Christ Crucified

2 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the [a]testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of [b]human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Spiritual Wisdom

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God [c]ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the [d]Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Corinthians 2:1 NU mystery
  2. 1 Corinthians 2:4 NU omits human
  3. 1 Corinthians 2:7 predetermined
  4. 1 Corinthians 2:13 NU omits Holy

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

John 20:31- “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.”

Let’s start back in the book of Acts, wherein chapter 18 (verses 1-18) records Paul first visits Corinth.
After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth” Acts 18:1 NKJV
He arrived “After these things”. That is the key phase – Let’s summarize, since we already studied the book of Acts. The second missionary journey was interrupted by God when God changed their plans and sent them over to Philippi. Paul’s journey up to that point was a lot of ministering in places he already set up churches, but he still had a few close calls where he ran for his life. Once in Philippi – after ministering, he and Silas were beaten and thrown into jail and had a hymn-sing. Paul used His Roman citizenship to help gain protection for the church there and get him safe leave.
Then Thessalonica, the official captured Jason, for hosting them. Paul fled by night as part of the terms of Jason’s release.
In Berea, the Thessalonian Jews followed them and Pail alone was kicked out of town, leaving Silas and Timothy to finish the work.
Paul fled to Athens – and tried to preach in the ways of the philosophers of the day. The ministry was a flop and later Paul says, admits it was a bad idea to change his preaching (we will circle back to that).
So exhausted, beat up, worn out, alone, fleeing for his life – He arrives in Corinth, not as a powerful man of God marching into the synagogue to preach, but instead just a believer, looking for work and to lay low until his team arrives.
As verse 3 above states: “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.”

I love how real Paul is about how difficult it was and how weak and vulnerable he was. Paul learned first-hand, when he is weak, God is strong. He learned the wisdom of God (yesterday’s study) out ranks his own wisdom when he tried preaching wisdom in Athens and it flopped. Circling back to when Paul admits it was a bad idea to preach to the crowds wishes – yesterday Paul said he just preaches Christ. And today he continues with saying he lived it as a sermon and an example.
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Paul is reminding them of how they met and how it was. And even though the wisdom of the Greeks in Athens in infiltrating their pagan city and they are surrounded by these evil influences, they should remember their roots in a pure, humble message – soaked in the wisdom of God. They may be tempted to follow men who speak well, and aren’t we all, BUT we should seek the pure, humble example of the power of God in God’s wisdom.

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

Again, the hidden wisdom, which Paul also calls the great mystery, is how God planned human’s salvation through Jesus’s death on the cross and resurrection.
And lie we touched on yesterday and bears repeating – wisdom is not bad, and it is not bad to seek wisdom. We have committed ourselves to reading the wisdom book over the weekends this year to increase in godly wisdom – this is good and God will be glorified in it. What is bad is the world’s wisdom.
What is this world’s wisdom? In our modern world, it is harder to identify than it was in Paul’s world. But Paul did not have the terms we have today to describe what Paul was saying.  Let me explain: Paul spoke of philosophy. They called it wisdom back in Paul’s days. You and I were taught that they stood around Athens and other Greek cities (like Corinth) spewing philosophical wisdom. Man ran to every new idea, because none of the old ideas satisfied – they tickled the ears at first – but did not have the lasting, life changing effects they hoped for. The Kind that comes from simple things that do not make sense until you let God reveal it to you.  
We do not have this as blatant – we do have false teachers on every corner of our internet – which is similar. We also have “wisdom” presented as: being woke, nihilism, capitalism, socialism, democracy – even Democrat, Republican, or libertarians can fall into this. There are racism, supremacy, and all the other isms in the Buffalo, NY killers manifesto (not the media’s version, but the actual manifesto where he renounced Christ and Christianity and said he was not a republican or conservative and that he was fully motivated by hate. Where replacement theory is not the watered down version some Fox News correspondent tried to use to explain protecting our boarders, which was a terrible analogy. But he was motivated by the original definition of replacement theory where they blame Jews for putting blacks in the different areas of the world to out breed and therefor overcome the Europeans – which he identifies as, and he does not identify as American or having any pride in the USA.) Actually, that is a great, although extreme example of man’s wisdom verses Gods – because Gods wisdom would not kill innocent people while shopping for food.
The BIGGEST ism which threatens the minds of people today is Humanism – something that has become so accepted by the church, it is hard to identify.

Paul doesn’t focus on the world’s wisdom – because in Corinth, they all knew what he was talking about. Instead Paul talks about Gods wisdom. When we started, I told you we would have the opportunity to get to know God better in this book. Well pay attention, because Paul is describing God.  Starting here with a it is written, sword swing into the spirit:

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Last year, when I lost my job, there were so many supernatural things that accompanied it, to assure me it was God who removed that job and God who was course correcting to get me onto this path. I was fired on a Friday. Sunday night, I was woke up with this verse running over and over in my head. I woke up and wrote it down and went back to sleep. But it kept playing in my head on repeat, so I woke up and read this whole chapter – Not my wisdom, but God’s wisdom. I can look back and clearly see that God was telling me I was entering a season where it wasn’t going to make sense to me or to others. God’s way, not my way.
And even having this confidence I still struggled to come to terms with it. And I wish He would reveal where we are going and what I need to learn, so this season will end. But I am actually learning to become comfortable in His hands. I no longer look at the things I “lost” as lost – but instead as given to God – I did tell him He could have it all. I now look for opportunity to give more. I am learning my existence is for nothing, if I am not sharing Christ.

During the late night lunar eclipse, even though I am still sick with mild covid symptoms, my porch was the perfect viewing spot. So a friend, brought over her nephew who is just a couple years younger than my son. And we social distanced. And something about seeing the amazing handiwork of God makes people ask questions about God. I found myself teaching Christ to this sweet boy, who is bound up in drugs and drinking with a terrible life. He goes to his aunts to crash and come down from a high and tries to get right – but leaves again for the drugs. Anyway – I gave him the salvation plan and he rejected it. Very sweet about rejecting it – but it was definitely a rejection. He did not need to spare my feelings.
It is our Job to tell them. That is it. From there, once they hear it:

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man accept the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

You see, Gods revelation is how we can to accept this crazy message and believe in a man who lived, died and lived again 2000 years ago – whom we have not seen in the flesh (at least most of us haven’t). So, in that perspective, we can understand that all things pertaining to wisdom – God will reveal His council through the Holy Spirit – the same way he drew us to Him.
So God may not say to me in an audible voice – “This is what this crazy season in your life means..” but he will direct me and keep me on course and lead me through it. Maybe this was why I felt God’s leading so strongly to seek wisdom this year and to read the wisdom books over the weekends. You want to know the deep things of God? Just ask and let God lead you where it doesn’t make sense.

13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

Are you filled with the Holy Spirt? Baptized in the Spirit? With a prayer language? If not – it is time. You can’t go deep without Him revealing the deep things. You can’t be guided in Godly wisdom, without the Holy Spirit. It is a spirit thing – we must be filled with the spirit and we must be walking in the spirit – and you can’t walk in Him, if He ain’t filled up within you! Pray and ask him to fill you.

If you are filled – maybe it is time to pray for and seek a fresh filling – for fire, shut up in your bones. Pray for a refreshing. Pray to be set on fire with an unquenchable fire. Pray for an anointed fire!

Just spends some time praying today with the Holy Spirit, because God has revealed to us his thought process and now we need the Holy Spirit to reveal His thoughts to us – He will also reveal the areas of our lives that do not make sense, telling us if it is of him of not, and leading us where we need to go.

Today God wants to show you something that eyes have not seen nor ears heard – but you may not understand it for months or even years. Listen anyway. Or maybe today He is revealing what something from your past means. Listen. Spend time with Him today and receive all that He has for you.

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Cor. 2:9 NKJV

It is written! Where was it written?

“For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” Isaiah 64:4 NKJV

Wait on the Lord in prayer today. You may have to work or do things, but in your head keep a prayerful attitude and keep touching base with God. Wait on Him because it is written – we will get the revelation and the blessing. If you read this at night, pray to wait on him tonight as you sleep and stay prayerful until tomorrow – However you do it, commit at least one day to the Lord and to staying prayerful.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

Give Glory to the Lord – 5-17-22

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NKJV

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.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“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

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. 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 our sound mind. 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 the Book of First Corinthians chapter 1 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Greeting

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are [a]sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Gifts at Corinth

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all [b]utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed [c]in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sectarianism Is Sin

10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all [d]speak the same thing, and that there be no [e]divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are [f]contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

Christ the Power and Wisdom of God

18 For the [g]message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the [h]disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a [i]stumbling block and to the [j]Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Glory Only in the Lord

26 For [k]you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many [l]noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the [m]base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Footnotes

  1. 1 Corinthians 1:2 set apart
  2. 1 Corinthians 1:5 speech
  3. 1 Corinthians 1:6 Or among
  4. 1 Corinthians 1:10 Have a uniform testimony
  5. 1 Corinthians 1:10 schisms or dissensions
  6. 1 Corinthians 1:11 quarrels
  7. 1 Corinthians 1:18 Lit. word
  8. 1 Corinthians 1:20 debater
  9. 1 Corinthians 1:23 Gr. skandalon, offense
  10. 1 Corinthians 1:23 NU Gentiles
  11. 1 Corinthians 1:26 consider
  12. 1 Corinthians 1:26 well-born
  13. 1 Corinthians 1:28 insignificant or lowly

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

John 20:31- “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Welcome to our study of First Corinthians. This is a powerful book revealing who God is and instructing us in how to draw closer to God.
I assume at this point we all know who Paul is, as we have discussed him at length during our reading of Acts and Romans. We will discuss more, I am sure, as we progress in the book. Paul was a missionary, an apostle, a scholar of Hebrews Scriptures, a Jew, a believer and follower of Jesus, and so much more.
He founded the Church in Corinth, to whom he is writing this letter, during his second missionary journey. If you recall, the second journey was rough, he spent most of it fleeing for his life, then we separated from his team, had a failed missions visit to Athens and was mocked – so he arrived in Corinth, depleted and humble. He began to work instead of ministering. But he did gather together all the believers and had fellowship. As much as he taught them, they ministered to him and built him back up. Paul also spent the longest period there (in the years somewhere around 49-51).

Corinth was an evil, morally bankrupt and corrupt city. Although typical of the day, Corinth was part of a region where there were still Greek Temples as well as Roman temples and more Gods than you can count and most of them required some sort of sexual worship. The Lord has preserved enough texts and scrolls and archeological finds from the time, so that we could have understanding – as this book is one of the few books that REALLY does require some historical background to understand. This particular city was like the Las Vegas and or New York City of 1990 (before it they tried to clean them up and make them family friendly) of its time, so sins was a bit more plentiful and open there. So you can begin to understand that outside of the doors of their church it was almost as bad as Sodom and Gomorrah, less violent. So to be a Jew and or a believer there would really make you stand out.

Paul was in Ephesus, another city overridden with temples of false gods and moral depravity, in the estimated years of 53 to 54, when he wrote that first letter to the church in Corinth, not too long after leaving them.  You see Chloe’s people, or someone from her household, came after Paul to tell him that when he left there were suddenly contentions and divisions within the church. Much like all of Paul’s letters, we do not have the list of questions / problems he was answering. So we must be careful – the right answer to the wrong question will get us in trouble. After answering their question the later part of the book is new lessons and things Paul wants to say to them.

Paul loves the church at Corinth and begins with showing his love and reminding them they are doing a few things right, before he tells them they are doing a few things wrong.

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

He reminds them they were called into this and Jesus loves them, as well. He didn’t need to be long and flattering. Just to the point. Then he gets right into addressing the purpose of this letter.

10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
Contrary to popular opinion the Bible does NOT tell us not to judge, aka discern and test the spirit behind it. But Paul does seem to repeat the concept that we must not be critical and judgmental of each other, instead be in unity. We are to judge of they are speaking Biblical truth (chapter and verse), but not judgmental of the fact that they may not know the Bible as well. It is not about knowledge but it is about relationship with Jesus (who is the word).  This should be fairly straight forward, yet we learn the first century church was a little petty – and I am sure if we are honest we all have a dose of petty within us. And hopefully that dose of petty is dead with the rest of our flesh. But flesh seems to be quite alive in Corinth.
Mind you, when I am working on a message or one of these posts – I often share thoughts from it and concepts with people around me. As the word is fresh in my heart and the revelation hasn’t faded. So I am quite sure (although completely speculation) that the church at Corinth was taught the same principles we learned in the book of Romans (as it was written there). So they should know the idea of dying to the flesh.

11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.”

So here is the complaint – people apparently calling themselves Lutherans and following Luther. They are saying they were raised Catholic, so they are Catholic. Or started to going to a Methodist church so they are Methodist. 
Apparently, from numerous sources I have learned that they were not even saying “Paul”, “Apollos”, or “Cephas” – to not embarrass the people whose names they were using Paul changed it to the names of himself and people in his team. Which works to exaggerate the situation and make it more obvious how the situation reads. Just like me using the names of denomination in the place, does.
It was not the fault of the people preaching, it was the fault of the people following!
Early churches met in homes – and the Corinthian church was large and frequently met in multiple houses because of the size. So some speculate that they were dividing into these homes instead of cycling through and maintaining themselves as one unit. If true or not – this same matter can be seen in groups and clicks in the modern church – people who will not fellowship outside of their little circles. The beginnings of division.
I remember growing up there was one large family with 3 generations and lots of children in each generation. I recall a lady speaking to my mom, or another woman in the church in front of me saying that group of families are such a snobby click – always having birthday parties and cookouts and not inviting anyone else. And that adult looked at the woman and said – they are all one family. Let me introduce you formally to them, because they will definitely invite you to something. Do not tolerate even the perception of division. As Paul write:

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.”

Basically Paul is saying it is NOT about man but about God! They took their eyes off of the one in whose name they heard the word. Denominations are actually an abomination and have divided the church and have suppressed teachings.  If there was no such thing as denominations everyone would have heard all of the Bible. And do not tell me denominations and different churches do not suppress teachings. I once met a couple who were professing born again Christians but were never taught about the rapture. I always assume Christians have a basic understanding of the word of God. If this pandemic has done anything – it shut so many churches that people looked online for church and were exposed to so much more and are now mingling with others who have better understanding. Not to mention people coming into the kingdom for the first time. It might be time to explain more and assume it’s the first time everyone is hearing it.

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

The cross, aka the work of the cross which is our plan of salvation, is foolish to a world who doesn’t want to be saved and doesn’t believe they need salvation. We must first know we need saving before we can even accept it and it is hard for people to admit they are wrong, let alone humble themselves.
“But, I did my best.” Will not grant you access into heaven.

20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”

This year we are seeking Godly Wisdom and are reading the wisdom texts every weekend. It almost seems Paul is saying it is wrong to do. But not at all. We are to seek GODLY wisdom – not the wisdom of man. Seek godly council from man, not council from man. It is man’s council – man who trust in himself over God. It is the difference between, getting the word in your head and getting it in your heart. Which is why I often remind you all to think about what we read during the day and get it inside you!

22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

For the Jews seek a sign – Jesus told the Pharisees that even though they were seeking a sign, He would not give one to them – ironically He was one; fulfilling the prophecy and performing miracles all around them. What sign did they seek?  This is not saying that once we believe we shouldn’t seek for signs and wonders to come through us.  Because we definitely should seek that. BUT it is greater to seek our own and other’s salvations!

What verses 22 through 24 is saying is that some people come to church for one thing and others come for another. I have a friend who hates listening to preachers who are very charismatic.  He calls them cheer leaders. I have another who only wants a charismatic preacher. So when I share (online) with him or her I am selective who I share what with.  It is human nature to like different things – and we all have different learning styles. Paul is acknowledging it. BUT Paul says he (and those other leaders involved in this complaint) preach the unadulterated word. He is saying he is preaching to make God happy, not to make his audience happy. Not everyone in the church like or learns the same way and they are all one body, not divided – and are ok no matter what the style is as long as it is the truth unadulterated.

25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

You see it doesn’t matter what you want or how you want to hear it – God is in control and being preached. And if God does signs, cool. If God doesn’t do signs, cool. If God provides wisdom and insight, cool. And if not – we are cool with that as well – because even at God’s smallest, He is still bigger than we can imagine, and in control and working His plan. So we are to get on board even if we do not see signs or understand it. The signs and wonders are not for us anyway. They are to Glorify God, and therefore tools He uses to gain glory in situations, drawing men to Him. Same for wisdom – it is to glorify God as Solomon glorified God in His wisdom.

26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

We are called – we hear that call somehow, some way, and we are drawn to the Lord. We answer the call learning He wants a relationship with us. Then we begin to get to know him through reading the Bible and praying (but mostly by reading). And then we learn we have a job to do: to go tell others about Jesus. And then we learn we are created with a purpose too – that purpose is to glorify the Lord. And that can really sum up the chapter – stop being divided by fulfilling what you are made to do which is to glorify the Lord.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

Concluding the Book of Romans – 5-16-22

“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith— to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” Romans 16:25-27 NKJV

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.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“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

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. 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 our sound mind. 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 the Book of Romans chapter 16 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Sister Phoebe Commended

16 I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.

Greeting Roman Saints

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house.

Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of [a]Achaia to Christ. Greet Mary, who labored much for us. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my [b]countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.

12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.

16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. [c]The churches of Christ greet you.

Avoid Divisive Persons

17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord [d]Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and [e]simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Greetings from Paul’s Friends

21 Timothy, my fellow worker, and Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my countrymen, greet you.

22 I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord.

23 Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, and Quartus, a brother. 24 The[f] grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Benediction

25 [g]Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith— 27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

Footnotes

  1. Romans 16:5 NU Asia
  2. Romans 16:11 Or relative
  3. Romans 16:16 NU All the churches
  4. Romans 16:18 NU, M omit Jesus
  5. Romans 16:19 innocent
  6. Romans 16:24 NU omits v. 24.
  7. Romans 16:25 M puts Rom. 16:25–27 after Rom. 14:23.

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

John 20:31- “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

Today is the last day for those still doing the Romans 1 challenge and those curious:  It is a challenge to work with God to root out any unrighteousness and then part 2 is to practice good habit with intention. If you challenge yourself and God to find an area to work on, you’ll find it. This has been powerful:

PRAYER FOR FORGIVENESS:
Dear God, I am sorry for being filled with all/any unrighteousness, and/or sexual immorality, and/or wickedness, and/or covetousness, and/or maliciousness, and/or envy, murder, and strife, and/or deceit and evil-mindedness, and/or being a whisperers and  backbiters, and/or haters of God, and/or violent, and/or proud and boasting, and/or inventors of evil things, and/or disobedient to parents, and/or undiscerning, and/or untrustworthy, and/or unloving, and/or unforgiving, and/or unmerciful, and/or for practicing such things are deserving of death. Please forgive me even though I knew better and I understand the righteous judgment of You, God. Please wash me with the Blood of Jesus. Cleanse me and help me turn from my evil ways – convict me strongly when I do wrong that I may notice and stop. And send a fresh filling of your anointing to break the yokes of bondage and help me destroy the roots with a mindful effort and focus on you. Please reignite the fire in my belly that I may burn for you in boldness. In the name of Jesus we pray ~amen

HEALTHY ROOTS CHALLENGE: this challenge is to heal and strengthen our roots
One – Give God ALL the Glory
Two – Dedicated time for thanksgiving, and be thankful for all things!
Three – Guard our hearts and mind, rebuking and stopping sinful or not godly thoughts, not letting our minds wander and be prayerful and intentional in thinking.
Four – And finally, let us be humble. Humble enough to say I do not know it all and God has something new to reveal to me in this book and in this day.
(Please review the blog post from 4/25/22 for further explanation as to why we are doing this daily and for the scriptural reference instructing us to make these things a practice in our lives. Until they flow from us naturally, we can intentionally and with all of our hearts, scheduled them into our lives and watch them heal and reroute our unhealthy roots that gave sinful/evil fruits.)

As we are wrapping this up – Make today count!

Now, let us look at chapter sixteen, the final chapter of Romans. It is the least quoted chapter as well.

Remember when I said this wasn’t a church Paul founded and yet he was personally very interested in their well-being? Today we learn why – Paul had met many of them previous.

I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.”

Phoebe – she causes quite the controversy. The Greek Word for servant in verse 1 is the same Greek word we get Deacon from. So literally Paul says she is a Deacon.
If she held a position of authority in the church, and was a business woman (which verse 2 implies), then she rocks our modern conception of what the first century church looked like. Just do a quick internet search on her and find hundreds of debates about the role of women in the church. Many of those debates cross reference 1 Corinthians, which seemingly contradicts this as Paul reprimands women who have stepped out of place.  Since we are reading 1 Corinthians next we will get into this more then.
But the 1st century world may have looked different than what we think of in the Bible. We often find a disconnect when studying “ancient Rome” and studying our Bibles.

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house.

For example Priscilla and Aquila, a wife and husband team. We saw this famous couple in Acts 18. They risked their lives helping Paul. Priscilla, risking her life, on a missionary journey – no submissive wife who wasn’t strong and capable on her own would be permitted to do the things she did. She spoke about Jesus so much that she is often considered to be the first woman teacher / preacher and obviously missionary.
Rome in many ways was more like us than we like to think. Our morals have slowly declined to near the depth of the grievous sins of that time. But women also held jobs, ran households, hosted churches, and more. Actually there was quiet a feminist movement going on and some sociologist suggest that Christianity helped birth the feminist movement, because Christians treated all men and women, slave and free as equal under God.  
Treating women as equal under God and women holding positions of authority and managing businesses as well as homes is not new to the first century – just look at the proverbs 31 women.

“Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.”

When Paul says to greet these people he doesn’t mean he is instructing the church to greet them. He is sending a personal hello to these people.

Greet Mary, who labored much for us.”

And another women who was a hard worker and helped the ministry. I honestly think if we worried less about the position of women and more about being servants and getting the job done, we would be better off.

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. 
Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.
12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.
16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you.”

Greetings to many more men and women.

17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.”

Paul is super loving and kind, but there are some absolutes he requires in order to protect the work of the Lord (the Lord is in the people business, so that means protecting people – even you and me. Avoiding those who are offensive and divisive seems to divide more, but it doesn’t, it protects us. This is not a command that the church shuns them, it is a command that each of us individually do. It is not a command that we go around telling everyone that so-n-so is causing division, because then we are causing division. Our command is to shut up and avoid them.
We are not to add to the word of God, but I will add to this that we should also pray for their restoration. I add under the passages about praying for one another and praying for your enemy and praying for others (way too many verses to quote or give reference).

18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.”

Yep, Paul just called the liars and of their father, the devil, who is the father of lies (John 8:44). But remember, these people took their eyes off Jesus and onto their fleshly wants (go back to die to self, people) and then they were open to the deception of the enemy, and in that deception they deceive other. May the Lord open their eyes and their understanding so they are restored!

Going back to the reason Paul wrote – to avoid further division and prevent it by getting people to clean out their own sins – by the end of the letter, he knows not everyone took it serious. I hope all of you did, but I am sure some of you didn’t. I have even noticed some of you who like my post regularly have dropped off. (My assumption is that you “like” the posts as a way of checking in and saying “Hi, I was here.”) And I appreciate seeing you all and I pray for you individually since you have made yourself known. I also pray for those who have dropped off and do not read any more. Division and offenses happen. And now that we have ended the book – those who are not on board, well, we should avoid them. Let God do a work. And pray for them.

19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.”
Wise in what is good. This speaks to stewardship and obedience in the word and prayer.
Simple concerning evil. – well then. I often get spoken to about speaking about evil. And I know I should speak equally about good (and I do speak more about God then about evil). But I have simplified it and we all should. If it is good, it is God. If it is bad it is evil – cast it out. We no longer have time for the games. Do not tell me because you prayed once and it didn’t happen immediately that it won’t happen now. We live in a crazy time and God is moving. You want a healing, pray for it. You want your family saved, pray for it. Pray like they are going door to door and assimilating you like the Borg for Star Trek, and they are next door. Because that is the plan of the enemy – He is going door to door assimilating everyone. Your life and your families’ lives depend on fervency and commitment to standing on the words of God.
It is time to pull our scripture passages and hang them on your wall and not the nice pretty ones that everyone has – It is time we pull the raw promises for our situations up and pray them daily!

20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.”

Y’all know the attack on me, I have told you, so God gets the glory when Jesus overcomes in my life.  I have to say I have never been under an attack so great and with such a length of time without reprieve. But I do not think I am alone.  I think many of you an others are with me. We charged into battle obediently and it’s a different kind of battle like we have never seen before. The word is our sword, quote it and use it – turn on the audio and let it fill our houses, our heads and our hearts. And stand on this verse! God will flood us with peace and crush satan under our feet.
Crazy side note: I work with leather in my business, and I got in some snake skin. I carefully (not to damage the product) placed it under my feet – just to show the enemy what it looks like. In my picture, he is not only under my feet, but skinned and tanned – then cut up to make jewelry with names that come from Biblical principles and empower women to fight the good fight of faith. It is so encouraging when we can stomp around! Beside crushing satan – everywhere our feet touch, God will give us. So go stomping right into the enemies camps!

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”
We will need extra grace, than you Paul for praying for it for us. Let’s pray for each other as well!

21 Timothy, my fellow worker, and Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my countrymen, greet you. 22 I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord. 23 Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, and Quartus, a brother. 24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
So here the whole crew – entire ministry team – steps in and says, “tell them I said hi!” And we get a better picture of what it looked like as Paul wrote this letter.  He did not sit alone in his room praying over every word and figuring out what to say. Paul approached letter the same way he approached ministering when he entered a town. Which is similar to how Jesus did it, we just don’t think of Jesus as a team either. Whenever Paul or Jesus ministered so did their teams. Their teams did not do crowd control as we saw Jesus get pressed by the crowds a few times and once even lost in the crowds and slipped away. Paul was practically killed by many crowds – his team was much worse at crowd control! But they were not there controlling the crowds, but ministering and speaking with them as well.

Scrolls were costly, and so was pen and ink. If you made a mistake, it was huge. So many people, including Paul would hire a writer and dictate the letter, as part of the service the letter writer would take lots of notes and then write it, bring it back to the author for approval. Paul used one of those services here. He and his crew worked through their thoughts and worked, and reworked them into this formal structure and Tertius wrote it on the scroll which was sent. It was common for the writer to acknowledge who the author was at the beginning, and then at the end sign off that they wrote it. This action was actually the birth of the public office of Notary Publics. Their signature bear witness to the authorship and the words in the letter.

25Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith— 27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.”

Verses 25-27 is called a doxology, which is like a song of praise. I break out into praise occasionally when writing this so I can understand the compulsion to worship. Paul starts with to Him who is able. I really should dig through the New Testament and count up the number of time Paul says: Him who Is able, He who is able, He is able, etc.
I know my God is able, but I don’t address him that way enough – and when I do, it no longer matter if He is going to or not – He is able, and therefore I surrender to Him! With ever bill I have, I say He is able, but if he doesn’t I will still serve him. He has promised and is able – and that is enough to shake this planet. It is enough to rock the heavens and hallelujah, it is enough to make us break out into a doxology! lol

Now let’s talk about the revelation of the great mystery. I know what the mystery is; at least the one Paul was referring to. I believe there is some prophecy to this since it swells up out of his spirit, but I cannot guess what great mysteries God has yet to reveal.
But Paul is referring to the Gospel being for the gentiles and Christ’s death and blood covering them. The Jews always new other nations would bow, and there would be unity – but NOT adopted brotherhood. Maybe as proselytes, but not as empowered and called servants of the most high! That is the mystery. As a scholar Paul was astonished by how all the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in the gospel being for ALL mankind.   

You and I may miss the big mind explosion – but that is because Paul already explained it to the world and you and I have already heard that Jesus loves us. And if you didn’t know – Jesus loves you!

Please plan to join us for the Books of 1st then 2nd Corinthians, starting tomorrow!

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

WEEKEND READING – 5-15-22

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah”
Psalm 46 NKJV

Recently I met with a beautiful woman of God and she prayed this Psalm over me. What a beautiful practice to pray the psalms over people! But it reminded me to remind you to personalize when needed and to pray it over yourself – we do not need to wait for someone else to pray for us.

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.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“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

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. 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 our sound mind. 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 the Book of Psalms chapters 42-46 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). The book of Psalms is broken out into 5 books, today we begin the second book: BOOK TWO (Psalms 42–72).

Yearning for God in the Midst of Distresses

To the Chief Musician. A [a]Contemplation of the sons of Korah.

42 As the deer [b]pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and [c]appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
“Where is your God?”

When I remember these things,
I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude;
I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.

Why are you [d]cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
[e]For the help of His countenance.

[f]O my God, my soul is cast down within me;
Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan,
And from the heights of Hermon,
From [g]the Hill Mizar.
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a [h]breaking of my bones,
My enemies [i]reproach me,
While they say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The [j]help of my countenance and my God.

Prayer to God in Time of Trouble

43 Vindicate me, O God,
And plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
For You are the God of my strength;
Why do You cast me off?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your [k]tabernacle.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The [l]help of my countenance and my God.

Redemption Remembered in Present Dishonor

To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation[m] of the sons of Korah.

44 We have heard with our ears, O God,
Our fathers have told us,
The deeds You did in their days,
In days of old:
You drove out the [n]nations with Your hand,
But them You planted;
You afflicted the peoples, and cast them out.
For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword,
Nor did their own arm save them;
But it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance,
Because You favored them.

You are my King, [o]O God;
[p]Command victories for Jacob.
Through You we will push down our enemies;
Through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us.
For I will not trust in my bow,
Nor shall my sword save me.
But You have saved us from our enemies,
And have put to shame those who hated us.
In God we boast all day long,
And praise Your name forever. Selah

But You have cast us off and put us to shame,
And You do not go out with our armies.
10 You make us turn back from the enemy,
And those who hate us have taken [q]spoil for themselves.
11 You have given us up like sheep intended for food,
And have scattered us among the nations.
12 You sell Your people for next to nothing,
And are not enriched by selling them.

13 You make us a reproach to our neighbors,
A scorn and a derision to those all around us.
14 You make us a byword among the nations,
A shaking of the head among the peoples.
15 My dishonor is continually before me,
And the shame of my face has covered me,
16 Because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles,
Because of the enemy and the avenger.

17 All this has come upon us;
But we have not forgotten You,
Nor have we dealt falsely with Your covenant.
18 Our heart has not turned back,
Nor have our steps departed from Your way;
19 But You have severely broken us in the place of jackals,
And covered us with the shadow of death.

20 If we had forgotten the name of our God,
Or stretched[r] out our hands to a foreign god,
21 Would not God search this out?
For He knows the secrets of the heart.
22 Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

23 Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord?
Arise! Do not cast us off forever.
24 Why do You hide Your face,
And forget our affliction and our oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the [s]dust;
Our body clings to the ground.
26 Arise for our help,
And redeem us for Your mercies’ sake.

The Glories of the Messiah and His Bride

To the Chief Musician. Set to [t]“The Lilies.” A [u]Contemplation of the sons of Korah. A Song of Love.

45 My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a [v]ready writer.

You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.
[w]Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One,
With Your glory and Your majesty.
And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness;
And Your right hand shall teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies;
The peoples fall under You.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia,
Out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad.
Kings’ daughters are among Your honorable women;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.

10 Listen, O daughter,
Consider and incline your ear;
Forget your own people also, and your father’s house;
11 So the King will greatly desire your beauty;
Because He is your Lord, worship Him.
12 And the daughter of Tyre will come with a gift;
The rich among the people will seek your favor.

13 The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace;
Her clothing is woven with gold.
14 She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors;
The virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You.
15 With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought;
They shall enter the King’s palace.

16 Instead of Your fathers shall be Your sons,
Whom You shall make princes in all the earth.
17 I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations;
Therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever.

God the Refuge of His People and Conqueror of the Nations

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A Song for Alamoth.

46 God is our refuge and strength,
A[x] very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the [y]midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the [z]tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be [aa]moved;
God shall help her, just [ab]at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 42:1 Heb. Maschil
  2. Psalm 42:1 Lit. longs for
  3. Psalm 42:2 So with MT, Vg.; some Heb. mss., LXX, Syr., Tg. I see the face of God
  4. Psalm 42:5 Lit. bowed down
  5. Psalm 42:5 So with MT, Tg.; a few Heb. mss., LXX, Syr., Vg. The help of my countenance, my God
  6. Psalm 42:6 So with MT, Tg.; a few Heb. mss., LXX, Syr., Vg. put my God at the end of v. 5
  7. Psalm 42:6 Or Mount
  8. Psalm 42:10 Lit. shattering
  9. Psalm 42:10 revile
  10. Psalm 42:11 Lit. salvation
  11. Psalm 43:3 dwelling places
  12. Psalm 43:5 Lit. salvation
  13. Psalm 44:1 Heb. Maschil
  14. Psalm 44:2 Gentiles, heathen
  15. Psalm 44:4 So with MT, Tg.; LXX, Vg. and my God
  16. Psalm 44:4 So with MT, Tg.; LXX, Syr., Vg. Who commands
  17. Psalm 44:10 plunder
  18. Psalm 44:20 Worshiped
  19. Psalm 44:25 Ground, in humiliation
  20. Psalm 45:1 Heb. Shoshannim
  21. Psalm 45:1 Heb. Maschil
  22. Psalm 45:1 skillful
  23. Psalm 45:3 Belt on
  24. Psalm 46:1 An abundantly available help
  25. Psalm 46:2 Lit. heart
  26. Psalm 46:4 dwelling places
  27. Psalm 46:5 shaken
  28. Psalm 46:5 Lit. at the turning of the morning

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

John 20:31 “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

WEEKEND READING – 5-14-22

I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth— Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:1-3 NKJV

Can I interrupt our weekend reading to slip in a praise report? Here it is – you can jump over it if you’d like.
My business (not this) has been struggling – and I labor and toil and ask for prayers and with all the big name preachers declaring this the year of the double, well I am just finishing up the quarter of the year when I opened the business, and have last year’s data to compare, and it… isn’t double. It is less than last year’s number. It’s frustrating not to be able to praise report that it was double. But this praise report is a bit more profound than tangible sales.
It was a lesson deep within me, which I knew and taught, but God had to teach me anyway because my heart didn’t practice it.

“Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.” Psalm 127:1

You see, I needed More of God in the business, like I let him in this blog. Let me explain. In 2020, God impressed upon me to write my studies down online instead of in my notebooks. I have always written down my bible studies much like a sermon or a lesson – so I thought it was weird, what if someone found it and read it. And God asked me to surrender my Bible studying to him. The first year I had about 75 views a month – averages out to be just over 2 people looking per day (but I wasn’t posting on weekends). The second year, God was really putting it on my heart to do a read through the Bible in a year – I said to God, that is a lot of time added to what I am already doing and I am not sure I can. Well, God meant I was to do that on the blog and I ended up posting every day and by the end of the year we averaged 242 views a month – just about triple growth! We are talking double plus exceedingly abundantly beyond all I could have imagined! (yah, today I am looking over some stats and this seals up in my heart the lesson.) And this is our 3rd year and we are already on par to hit the double in views from last year as we study the New Testament line by line and on weekends enjoy the wisdom books. God is growing this little blog. Not me. Look at my business – I obviously do not know how to build viewers, customers, or followers.

Every time I hear that verse about building the house I will say, God gave me that for my business – but I never surrendered it to him to build. I asked for him to provide sales – but sales alone are not how a business grows. And now we get to the even better part. God is growing my business just as he is growing this blog. I had almost 400 followers on Facebook when I started the business, I lost 200 of them when I switched my business page from art in general to my business focused. Now I have 590 followers. Growth of 790 in a year’s time without buying followers and doing all the smarmy weird things people do to look bigger than they are. But I also now have 10 social media platforms for the business with a total of 1251 followers with a reach higher than I can calculate. I started with a new website and it was the only way to purchase – well, no one is honestly that comfortable buying from a new website. I now have 3 online storefronts were you can buy my products. 
I stress and worry about sale but I have been without a job for over a year and my business can’t give me a pay check yet – but I have been able to pay every bill and I have more food, and better food than I had before (since a lady from my church brings it to me).  I got hung up and distracted by sales – I forgot how much God has blessed me with. This is why I tell us all the time to keep our eyes on God and do not look away. I am sorry I looked, and didn’t even realize it. Please forgive me. I have already repented to God – but since you follow this blog and I am a type of leader then, I need to also make it right with you all.
And if you do forgive me – Celebrate with me and give glory to God!! He is building the house (just not the corner I was looking at)!!! He is building this blog and building the business! Hallelujah!

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.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“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

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. 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 our sound mind. 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 the Book of Psalms chapters 36-41 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).

Man’s Wickedness and God’s Perfections

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord.

36 An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked:
There is no fear of God before his eyes.
For he flatters himself in his own eyes,
When he finds out his iniquity and when he hates.
The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;
He has ceased to be wise and to do good.
He devises wickedness on his bed;
He sets himself in a way that is not good;
He does not [a]abhor evil.

Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the [b]great mountains;
Your judgments are a great deep;
O Lord, You preserve man and beast.

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.

10 Oh, continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You,
And Your righteousness to the upright in heart.
11 Let not the foot of pride come against me,
And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 There the workers of iniquity have fallen;
They have been cast down and are not able to rise.

The Heritage of the Righteous and the Calamity of the Wicked

A Psalm of David.

37 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit[c] your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.

For evildoers shall be [d]cut off;
But those who wait on the Lord,
They shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.
11 But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

12 The wicked plots against the just,
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
13 The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees that his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn the sword
And have bent their bow,
To cast down the poor and needy,
To slay those who are of upright conduct.
15 Their sword shall enter their own heart,
And their bows shall be broken.

16 A little that a righteous man has
Is better than the riches of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
But the Lord upholds the righteous.

18 The Lord knows the days of the upright,
And their inheritance shall be forever.
19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,
And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
20 But the wicked shall perish;
And the enemies of the Lord,
Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
Into smoke they shall vanish away.

21 The wicked borrows and does not repay,
But the righteous shows mercy and gives.
22 For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth,
But those cursed by Him shall be [e]cut off.

23 The steps of a good man are [f]ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.
26 He is [g]ever merciful, and lends;
And his descendants are blessed.

27 Depart from evil, and do good;
And dwell forevermore.
28 For the Lord loves justice,
And does not forsake His saints;
They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
And dwell in it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom,
And his tongue talks of justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
None of his steps shall [h]slide.

32 The wicked watches the righteous,
And seeks to slay him.
33 The Lord will not leave him in his hand,
Nor condemn him when he is judged.

34 Wait on the Lord,
And keep His way,
And He shall exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
35 I have seen the wicked in great power,
And spreading himself like a native green tree.
36 Yet [i]he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright;
For the future of that man is peace.
38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together;
The future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
He is their strength in the time of trouble.
40 And the Lord shall help them and deliver them;
He shall deliver them from the wicked,
And save them,
Because they trust in Him.

Prayer in Time of Chastening

A Psalm of David. To bring to remembrance.

38 O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!
For Your arrows pierce me deeply,
And Your hand presses me down.

There is no soundness in my flesh
Because of Your anger,
Nor any health in my bones
Because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
My wounds are foul and festering
Because of my foolishness.

I am [j]troubled, I am bowed down greatly;
I go mourning all the day long.
For my loins are full of inflammation,
And there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am feeble and severely broken;
I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.

Lord, all my desire is before You;
And my sighing is not hidden from You.
10 My heart pants, my strength fails me;
As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.

11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague,
And my relatives stand afar off.
12 Those also who seek my life lay snares for me;
Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction,
And plan deception all the day long.

13 But I, like a deaf man, do not hear;
And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth.
14 Thus I am like a man who does not hear,
And in whose mouth is no response.

15 For [k]in You, O Lord, I hope;
You will [l]hear, O Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me,
Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.”

17 For I am ready to fall,
And my sorrow is continually before me.
18 For I will declare my iniquity;
I will be in [m]anguish over my sin.
19 But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong;
And those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied.
20 Those also who render evil for good,
They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good.

21 Do not forsake me, O Lord;
O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation!

Prayer for Wisdom and Forgiveness

To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

39 I said, “I will guard my ways,
Lest I sin with my tongue;
I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle,
While the wicked are before me.”
I was mute with silence,
I held my peace even from good;
And my sorrow was stirred up.
My heart was hot within me;
While I was [n]musing, the fire burned.
Then I spoke with my tongue:

“Lord, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
Surely they [o]busy themselves in vain;
He heaps up riches,
And does not know who will gather them.

“And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in You.
Deliver me from all my transgressions;
Do not make me the reproach of the foolish.
I was mute, I did not open my mouth,
Because it was You who did it.
10 Remove Your plague from me;
I am consumed by the blow of Your hand.
11 When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity,
You make his beauty melt away like a moth;
Surely every man is vapor. Selah

12 “Hear my prayer, O Lord,
And give ear to my cry;
Do not be silent at my tears;
For I am a stranger with You,
A sojourner, as all my fathers were.
13 Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength,
Before I go away and am no more.”

Faith Persevering in Trial

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

40 I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.

Blessed is that man who makes the Lord his trust,
And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in order;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered.

Sacrifice and offering You did not desire;
My ears You have opened.
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.”

I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness
In the great assembly;
Indeed, I do not restrain my lips,
O Lord, You Yourself know.
10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth
From the great assembly.

11 Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord;
Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.
12 For innumerable evils have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up;
They are more than the hairs of my head;
Therefore my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
O Lord, make haste to help me!
14 Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion
Who seek to destroy my [p]life;
Let them be driven backward and brought to dishonor
Who wish me evil.
15 Let them be confounded because of their shame,
Who say to me, “Aha, aha!”

16 Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
Let such as love Your salvation say continually,
“The Lord be magnified!”
17 But I am poor and needy;
Yet the Lord thinks upon me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God.

The Blessing and Suffering of the Godly

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

41 Blessed is he who considers the [q]poor;
The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.
The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive,
And he will be blessed on the earth;
You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.
The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness;
You will [r]sustain him on his sickbed.

I said, “Lord, be merciful to me;
Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”
My enemies speak evil of me:
“When will he die, and his name perish?”
And if he comes to see me, he speaks [s]lies;
His heart gathers iniquity to itself;
When he goes out, he tells it.

All who hate me whisper together against me;
Against me they [t]devise my hurt.
“An[u] evil disease,” they say, “clings to him.
And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.”
Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has [v]lifted up his heel against me.

10 But You, O Lord, be merciful to me, and raise me up,
That I may repay them.
11 By this I know that You are well pleased with me,
Because my enemy does not triumph over me.
12 As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,
And set me before Your face forever.

13 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel
From everlasting to everlasting!
Amen and Amen.

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 36:4 reject, loathe
  2. Psalm 36:6 Lit. mountains of God
  3. Psalm 37:5 Lit. Roll off onto
  4. Psalm 37:9 destroyed
  5. Psalm 37:22 destroyed
  6. Psalm 37:23 established
  7. Psalm 37:26 Lit. all the day
  8. Psalm 37:31 slip
  9. Psalm 37:36 So with MT, LXX, Tg.; Syr., Vg. I passed by
  10. Psalm 38:6 Lit. bent down
  11. Psalm 38:15 I wait for You, O Lord
  12. Psalm 38:15 answer
  13. Psalm 38:18 anxiety
  14. Psalm 39:3 meditating
  15. Psalm 39:6 make an uproar for nothing
  16. Psalm 40:14 Lit. soul
  17. Psalm 41:1 helpless or powerless
  18. Psalm 41:3 restore
  19. Psalm 41:6 empty words
  20. Psalm 41:7 plot
  21. Psalm 41:8 Lit. A thing of Belial
  22. Psalm 41:9 Acted as a traitor

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

John 20:31- “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

Supporting Each Other – 5-13-22

“Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God,” Romans 15:14-15 NKJV

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.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“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

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. 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 our sound mind. 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 the Book of Romans chapter 15 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Bearing Others’ Burdens

15 We then who are strong ought to bear with the [a]scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to [b]edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the [c]patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Glorify God Together

Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received [d]us, to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a [e]servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:

“For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles,
And sing to Your name.”

10 And again he says:

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!”

11 And again:

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!”

12 And again, Isaiah says:

“There shall be a root of Jesse;
And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles,
In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

From Jerusalem to Illyricum

14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish [f]one another. 15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering [g]of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God. 18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient— 19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 20 And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation, 21 but as it is written:

“To whom He was not announced, they shall see;
And those who have not heard shall understand.”

Plan to Visit Rome

22 For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you. 23 But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you, 24 whenever I journey to Spain, [h]I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while. 25 But now I am going to Jerusalem to [i]minister to the saints. 26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. 27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. 28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain. 29 But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing [j]of the gospel of Christ.

30 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be delivered from those in Judea who [k]do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you. 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Footnotes

  1. Romans 15:1 weaknesses
  2. Romans 15:2 building up
  3. Romans 15:4 perseverance
  4. Romans 15:7 NU, M you
  5. Romans 15:8 minister
  6. Romans 15:14 M others
  7. Romans 15:16 Consisting of
  8. Romans 15:24 NU omits I shall come to you and joins Spain with the next sentence.
  9. Romans 15:25 serve
  10. Romans 15:29 NU omits of the gospel
  11. Romans 15:31 are disobedient

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

John 20:31 “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

For those still doing the Romans 1 challenge and those curious:  It is a challenge to work with God to root out any unrighteousness and then part 2 is to practice good habit with intention. I have shared some of the dust that came to the surface in my life through this – doing a spring cleaning. No matter what stage or how long you have been serving God – if you challenge yourself and God to find an area to work on, you’ll find it. This has been powerful:

PRAYER FOR FORGIVENESS:
Dear God, I am sorry for being filled with all/any unrighteousness, and/or sexual immorality, and/or wickedness, and/or covetousness, and/or maliciousness, and/or envy, murder, and strife, and/or deceit and evil-mindedness, and/or being a whisperers and  backbiters, and/or haters of God, and/or violent, and/or proud and boasting, and/or inventors of evil things, and/or disobedient to parents, and/or undiscerning, and/or untrustworthy, and/or unloving, and/or unforgiving, and/or unmerciful, and/or for practicing such things are deserving of death. Please forgive me even though I knew better and I understand the righteous judgment of You, God. Please wash me with the Blood of Jesus. Cleanse me and help me turn from my evil ways – convict me strongly when I do wrong that I may notice and stop. And send a fresh filling of your anointing to break the yokes of bondage and help me destroy the roots with a mindful effort and focus on you. Please reignite the fire in my belly that I may burn for you in boldness. In the name of Jesus we pray ~amen

HEALTHY ROOTS CHALLENGE: this challenge is to heal and strengthen our roots
One – Give God ALL the Glory
Two – Dedicated time for thanksgiving, and be thankful for all things!
Three – Guard our hearts and mind, rebuking and stopping sinful or not godly thoughts, not letting our minds wander and be prayerful and intentional in thinking.
Four – And finally, let us be humble. Humble enough to say I do not know it all and God has something new to reveal to me in this book and in this day.
(Please review the blog post from 4/25/22 for further explanation as to why we are doing this daily and for the scriptural reference instructing us to make these things a practice in our lives. Until they flow from us naturally, we can intentionally and with all of our hearts, scheduled them into our lives and watch them heal and reroute our unhealthy roots that gave sinful/evil fruits.)

As we are wrapping this up – I might actually miss this powerful time with the Lord. Although it was humbling, it was also faith building and transformative. But it is not like we are walking away from God and we can always come back to these exercises.  I am eager to get into first and second Corinthians and see what other new things the Lord has for us. I feel renewed in my mind and ready for the next season!

Now, let us look at chapter fifteen where Paul begins his conclusion. Let’s review again one of the main reason’s Paul wrote – to prevent divisions when these people had very real differences in customs and lives as well as new believers and ones who have dug in deep.
A look at the sleepy modern church of pre-2020 we might not see much similarity. But when looking at today, where people have woke up and are seeking God we have churches with multiple levels of believers with multiple cultures and there are many divisions. Vax vs unvax. Mask vs unmasked. Open vs. closed. Racial issues, woke and holiness issues, unborn baby issues. Not to mention denominational separations.  Oh AND there are wheat and tares together and God is shaking and separating the wheat and tares. While God separates, we must try to be unified and stop the fleshly divisions (without getting in God’s way for his wheat and tares division).

We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I heard a preacher recently describe the shaking of the Lord as we are all standing on a bunch of platforms, a handful or so of us on each one. God shakes them all violently. Some fall off. Others fall, but catch the edge and hang on. Some almost fall. Many fall to their knees to get a lower center of gravity to be able to stay. While still other stand firm, immovable. God may be shaking out the tares off – but we all have an opportunity to hang on to someone and help them stand and stay on the platform. Like we started in chapter one, it will require repentance from the unrepentant once God shakes them down and humbles them. We can all hold hands and draw strength and faith from the ones who are immovable. Together we will not lose anyone from our platform. That is what Paul is talking about – let those stronger in faith encourage, edify, and strengthen the weaker ones.  We do not lose strength by sharing it. But if I glorify God alone it is but one glory – if we join together – God’s glory is multiplied through us!

Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:“For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name.”
10 And again he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!”
11 And again: “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!”
12 And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”

Paul learned his Hebrew Scriptures form texts translated into the Greek. So when we go to look it up it is difficult to know exactly which verse he was referring to and the quote is not the same as if you go to your Old Testament and look. So to the best of my ability, we can cross reference:
Verse 9 with 2 Sam 22:50, Psalm 18:49 – and structurally this is the 3rd reference to this concept within the book, the others being Rom 3:29 and Rom 11:30.
Verse 10 with Deuteronomy 32:43 and Isaiah 66:10. Many assume it’s the Isaiah verse because verse 12 says Isaiah, but it is more likely the verse in Deuteronomy according to scholars familiar with the version of the Hebrew texts Paul learned from. (I am not familiar enough to make a judgement call.)
Verse 11 with Psalm 117:1.
And verse 12 with Isaiah 11:10. Matthew 12:21 and 1 John 3:3 also refer back to this passage in Isaiah. And Isaiah began the prophecy but it seems to come full circle and is completed in Revelations 5:5 and Revelations 22:16.
All of that presented so you can slip down into a rabbit hole and search out more truths if you want to but in relation to our study here and our application of it, I think we get the point.

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

I really like the wording Paul uses for his prayers for others. This is a simple one sentence prayer that is POWERFUL! I often incorporate scriptures into my prayers, as many of you know who have been reading a while. Someone please pray this for me. I am praying it over everyone who ever ready this post. You all get an extra blessing of Joy and Peace in Believing as I pray in the name of Jesus! I pray you ABOUND! In hope and Faith!!! By the power of the Holy Spirit! Yes, Lord send your power into these people! Let them do great exploits in your name! In the name of Jesus I pray ~ amen

14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. 15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God. 18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient— 19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 20 And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation, 21 but as it is written: “To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand.”

Here is a spiritual principle – Paul is not announcing to the people in Rome (to whom he is writing) by whose authority He writes and speaks. Paul is writing to the spirit world and those who do not know who he is who may later read this. You see, this letter has been scrutinized and studied by theologians and regular people just reading their Bible, as well as atheist and satanist for centuries. The battle that rages in the spirit every time we open this book is immense. But one of the ways we overcome is by the word of our testimony, and Paul inserts it as his authority for this book, and the words of the Lord through him for all of time. We also overcome by the blood of Jesus, which Paul was washed with and even explains in this very book, and overcome by loving not our life even to death – and death to the flesh is what we did in this book. Paul leaves sections like this in every letter, however in this letter it is a bit longer. But Paul had more time to write this book and it is the longest of his letters.

22 For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you. 23 But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you, 24 whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while. 25 But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. 26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. 27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. 28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain. 29 But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.”

Paul pours out his heart and wishes – it is a beautiful intent. But let’s talk about reality. Paul wrote this book in Corinth on his 3rd missionary journey. When we studied Acts we saw Paul was in a great hurry, compelled by the spirit, to get back to Jerusalem. This passage gives us a vague idea of why – he was delivering an offering to the poor of the church in Jerusalem.
Paul planned to head to Spain next and introduce the gospel and thought he could stop by Rome on the way and visit. Paul never made it to Spain. What is also interesting is many of Paul’s letters are to those churches he helped found and establish. He was a missionary and church planter. But Paul did not establish a church in Rome – it was formed by traveling believers who sought out their own in foreign places and they began the church and they knew of Paul and had sent and asked for him to visit because they were struggling with a few thing. And to the best of our understanding that was why Paul wrote the letter to the Romans.

30 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you. 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”

Has anyone asked for prayer and you say sure. And they give you a specific prayer request and you pray a vague prayer? We have no proof – but it certainly looks like the Romans gave up a vague prayer for Paul, not understanding the depth of the spiritual battle at hand in his life. Paul asked to be delivered from the unbelieving in Judea. Instead Paul was delivered TO them and into the hands of the Romans and from there in bondage as a prisoner on his way to Rome, where he finally got to meet these people from this church. Sometimes we do not know better how to pray than the one asking, and sometimes a quick vague prayer is not enough.

Being people who study the word and desire to draw closer to God – we are praying people. We do not need any special anointing to be effective in prayer. Talk to God about it and ask for His move is really the gist of it. Besides, God loves when we talk (as long as we listen too) and have conversations with Him!  That is kind of the point of it all – a relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ the son in the Holy Spirit. And when we don’t know what to pray we can pay in the spirit.

Let’s pray for each other – you all do not know each other, but many of you have reached out to me and connected on social media and we have gotten to know each other better. So I know many of you have a heart for prayer. So let’s pray for one another today. In the comments, please leave a prayer request and come back and check for people’s requests so you can pray over them. I know historically only a handful of you “like” and seldom comment – But we all need some prayer, so let’s pray for one another.

My prayer request is for healing. I have caught covid again. The last time was really bad and I lost all my hair and gained a ton of weight because of interactions between covid stuff and an autoimmune disease. So Pray for complete healing of the autoimmune disease and covid along with everything else hidden that we do not know about. I want complete healing! I do not want to do this again. I know the enemy doesn’t want me alive – but Jesus doesn’t want me yet either! So let me be healthy to complete my work for the Lord! Amen?! I know, big ask – but I have big faith and when we add to it your big faith in agreement I shall be healed!
How can we pray for you?

We’ll come back Monday with some praise reports! Meanwhile, enjoy the weekend and the weekend reading from Psalms. Bask in it for some wisdom. And Monday we will finish up the Book of Romans! If you enjoyed this study, feel free to invite your friends and loved ones to join us Tuesday as we begin discussing 1st and 2nd Corinthians (two more powerful books, sure to help us understand our Father and love – we are sure to grow)!

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

Freedom from Offending and Faith – 5-12-22

“Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.” Romans 14:22 NKJV

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.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“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

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. 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 our sound mind. 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 the Book of Romans chapter 14 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

The Law of Liberty

14 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; [a]and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died [b]and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of [c]Christ. 11 For it is written:

As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another [d]anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

The Law of Love

14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in [e]these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.

19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may [f]edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with [g]offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles [h]or is offended or is made weak. 22 [i]Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is [j]sin.

Footnotes

  1. Romans 14:6 NU omits the rest of this sentence.
  2. Romans 14:9 NU omits and rose
  3. Romans 14:10 NU God
  4. Romans 14:13 any longer
  5. Romans 14:18 NU this thing
  6. Romans 14:19 build up
  7. Romans 14:20 A feeling of giving offense
  8. Romans 14:21 NU omits the rest of v. 21.
  9. Romans 14:22 NU The faith which you have—have
  10. Romans 14:23 M puts Rom. 16:25–27 here.

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

John 20:31- “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

For those still doing the Romans 1 challenge and those curious:  It is a challenge to work with God to root out any unrighteousness and then part 2 is to practice good habit with intention. I have shared some of the dust that came to the surface in my life through this – doing a spring cleaning. No matter what stage or how long you have been serving God – if you challenge yourself and God to find an area to work on, you’ll find it. This has been powerful:

PRAYER FOR FORGIVENESS:
Dear God, I am sorry for being filled with all/any unrighteousness, and/or sexual immorality, and/or wickedness, and/or covetousness, and/or maliciousness, and/or envy, murder, and strife, and/or deceit and evil-mindedness, and/or being a whisperers and  backbiters, and/or haters of God, and/or violent, and/or proud and boasting, and/or inventors of evil things, and/or disobedient to parents, and/or undiscerning, and/or untrustworthy, and/or unloving, and/or unforgiving, and/or unmerciful, and/or for practicing such things are deserving of death. Please forgive me even though I knew better and I understand the righteous judgment of You, God. Please wash me with the Blood of Jesus. Cleanse me and help me turn from my evil ways – convict me strongly when I do wrong that I may notice and stop. And send a fresh filling of your anointing to break the yokes of bondage and help me destroy the roots with a mindful effort and focus on you. Please reignite the fire in my belly that I may burn for you in boldness. In the name of Jesus we pray ~amen

HEALTHY ROOTS CHALLENGE: this challenge is to heal and strengthen our roots
One – Give God ALL the Glory
Two – Dedicated time for thanksgiving, and be thankful for all things!
Three – Guard our hearts and mind, rebuking and stopping sinful or not godly thoughts, not letting our minds wander and be prayerful and intentional in thinking.
Four – And finally, let us be humble. Humble enough to say I do not know it all and God has something new to reveal to me in this book and in this day.
(Please review the blog post from 4/25/22 for further explanation as to why we are doing this daily and for the scriptural reference instructing us to make these things a practice in our lives. Until they flow from us naturally, we can intentionally and with all of our hearts, scheduled them into our lives and watch them heal and reroute our unhealthy roots that gave sinful/evil fruits.)

This has been a powerful time with the Lord – humbling, yes, but faith building and transformative. As we shed our flesh and move forward in Spirit. God is making ways and going the things he is famous for!
He did not forsake us, He is letting us grow hungry and seek Him out. I really hope you are taking all of this to heart and studying this with fervency, meditation and prayer. Let this book get inside you and change you! It is changing me – this is the third time doing a study like this on the book and not referring back to my notes or the previous studies; and WOW this book is powerful all on its own!

Now, let us look at chapter fourteen and first understanding the current affairs in Rome and with these Jewish believers in Rome, who Paul is writing to (remembering he is also writing to the gentiles, but seems to address the Jews more).

The only problem I have with Paul’s writings is that in every letter he is addressing problems in those specific churches and he gives the answer – but never tells us what the question or problem was. Although you and I spent most of this book with introspection and self-examination – Paul was not believed to be writing to them because they were excessively sinful. Although neither are you and I and we have still managed to dig up something to work on in ourselves before God. The problem is believed to be one that plagued the 1st century church. The Jews were still Jews and now believers and they were in the Land Covenant with God and that covenant’s binding stipulations were that Jew were to be separate, observe the Sabbath and had dietary guidelines and purity laws to keep them pure and separated. These rules stayed in effect as it was written they would observe them for ALL time.  But we have pig eating pagan’s now believing. And church wasn’t a building and a stage and a sanctuary as we have today – church was people gathered together eating and a discussion and sometimes a reading from the Torah or other scrolls they were able to get and reading letters from the Apostles and sometimes guest traveling evangelist would come and everyone wanted to hear them and not discuss. The point is food was central – and the Jews and Gentiles had different rules – and conflicts arose and people got critical and judgmental. It was not just Rome – it was everywhere. 
So as you see today’s reading is about food – But it is NOT about food. It I about the principle and food is the example – which was very relatable to every first century believer.  I suppose with modern food allergies, it is also relatable for our church’s potluck or hotdish dinners and fellowship Sundays.

However in the structure of the letter and the overall theme and work of cleaning out these hidden sins that we many have complacently accepted. This chapter introduces the next step in the process, although I might argue it is not as much an introduction as an unveiling of something already here and at work – Liberty!

So let us start with that.

Yesterday, the discussion of obligation and freedom really became real to me and I meditated on it all day long. I was able to say to myself I am obligated to this (fill in blank), because it is godly and God’s will and I am not obligated to that (fill in blank) because it is not godly and not God’s ill according to what we have read about God’s will. And it might be something that wasn’t a “hits home” moment for you – it was liberating and freeing to not step back into falsely owing myself to anyone other than My Father.
However EVERY TIME I study Romans I go through certain stages and at this point find freedom and liberty from something. We start out with the fear of God and understanding of the coming Wrath. We move to a stark realization of how unclean we are and we repent. We learn the deep spiritual process at work that permits us to have access to forgiveness and help to not continue in sin. We struggle through complete surrender and death to our sinful ways. We wake up ready to conquer the world, but learn we have more lessons and press in deeper. We learn the will of God for our lives and then, as it all aligns, as the sins really disappear and the repentance transforms, as we get in step with our Father’s will – FREEDOM! Liberty!

So quickly Paul says: PROTECT THAT FREEDOM! That is right! Do not let the enemy or a person or a situation or a thing come and rob you of the JOY and PEACE that came with the LIBERTY! And definitely do not let anything rob you of that freedom.

Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”

MOSTLY do not be a brother or sister in the Lord and rob someone of their liberty – even if to you it doesn’t look like liberty. Some of us are weak. Some of us are strong. I have meet believers who never heard of the rapture or any end time prophecy and have attended church their whole lives. I have met many who never knew they didn’t know the whole Bible. That is partly why I am doing a line by line through the New Testament this year. But when you are hungry for God and ready for Him to talk to you through His word – every time you read and study you learn something new and are changed.
So here we are 2000 years later and we are still a mixed bag of weak and strong, knowledgeable and lacking knowledge, and still have a mixed bag of perspectives on how to fast, how to pray, and what to eat (for either spiritual or fitness/wellness reasons).

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

So – God gives us liberty and freedom in Christ Jesus! Let’s stop looking at this person or that person and start looking at Jesus. Forget what this person is doing or that person is doing – we are free to have our own relationship. AND in that – we need to do whatever we are doing as if we are doing it as our offering to God, like He is our Boss and asked us to get the job done, and like our very soul depended on it (it doesn’t, but we must quicken ourselves to live as if the Kingdom of God is at hand, which it is). It may not be our own soul that is lost if we do not live unto the Lord – we may have a last minute repentance or slide in on the skin of our teeth. However, someone watching us my not make it at all because of our example. Freedom always has a heavy price.

For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.”

This is pretty direct. Repent if you have judged your brother or sister and get back into God’s will. It is obviously trading the liberty and freedom we are striving for in Christ for the bondage of unrighteousness and a circle back to the beginning of this book. So stand fast therefore in the freedom of Christ!

12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”

And this section was not just about us judging and being critical, but it is also about us causing others to stumble. Just don’t do it.

Now we get really into the food thing. Did you know Paul kept the Jewish food laws even though in this next verse he says he is convinced nothing is unclean. You see, Paul was still a Pharisee. Remember back to when we studied Acts and he returned to Jerusalem for the last time and went through the full ritual for purifying himself for others to see, but said I have kept myself pure. Because it is neither clean nor unclean, you’d think he’d enjoy some bacon with his eggs. But he did not. He understood something deep and did something that seemed ignorant, yet it was much deeper. He was not going to be a stumbling block for the nonbelieving Jews. He lived as an example that believing in Christ IS believing in the Messiah. That Christianity builds on Judaism and doesn’t replace it and throw away all the works and customs that God himself established since the beginning of time.

14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.”

Many modern Christian gentrify the Bible. Gentrify literally and currently mean to take a poor area and improve it – but that is an over simplification. In Roman times they would conquer an area and then assimilate it and use the phrase “to make it civil”. It is actually taking one culture and overlaying it upon something else causing the something to lose the details nuances and separation of their culture.  
When many modern churches read, apply and preach the Bible they remove “Israelites” and replace with “the church”. But those things did not happen to the church, they happened to the Jews not the Gentiles. Oh and gentrification and gentile come from the same root word and the term gentrification originally started with the 2nd century church removing Jewish traditions and replacing with Christian and the birth of the Holy Roman Empire. Which literally ‘Civilized’ Christianity.
In our modern world, besides removing God’s chosen people and purpose, we gentrify the church with “woke” pastors taking verses out of context and applying them to current popular topics. But let’s not go there or we might find me jumping around spitting hellfire and yelling “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand!” (Those of you who have been reading for a while are probably laughing at that – I get very passionate about keeping the word pure and I am all about a life of repentance.)
So, yes I am saying these offenses and man-made solutions are a slippery slope into false teachings and false prophet – which the Bible tells us to run away from. Obviously, the church, did not heed to Paul’s warnings here. You and I have history books along with our Bibles so maybe we can stop some of our brethren from sliding down that slope.

19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.”

It is NOT about eating or unclean food – it IS pursuing things which make peace and unity, which build up others, which speak life, and which are Christ-like. (And all this talk about food is making me hungry!)

22a Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God.”
Do. You. Have. Faith? What a deep profound question. You and I are on this self-reflection journey and are starting to feel this freedom and we are learning, not everyone else is at the same point, so let’s not offend those who aren’t here yet – and we are feeling pretty good about our growth. We have been talking with God and feeling close to Him as well. And Paul hits us with this question – do we have faith. Well, I thought so; so why is he asking?
It is normal to get to this point in the process and start to doubt, start to wonder, free from a few things, so we are comfortable that we did a work and doubt that we must continue. It seems like such a small thing here do you have faith? But it is much bigger – He is showing us a spiritual principle as he finishes this verse and starts the next:
22bHappy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.”
Does not condemn himself – important to note, as we keep our eyes watchful for enemy attacks, that we sometimes do his job for him and self-destruct. We judge criticize and condemn ourselves. Paul already explained the whole process very well, Jesus’s blood washes away the spots and stains of our sins and we die and deny the draw to do them again and we resist the devil and he will flee and we just say no when temptation arises – but, we sometimes doubt…
Doubt causes us to condemn ourselves and put us back in bondage to something we let go of. SO sometimes we must just pick ourselves up by the boot straps and say the word says it, I believe it, and that settles it. And pray “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”

23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”
Wow. Whatever is NOT faith is SIN. Eek! I have been living by faith, and getting beat around and sometimes wonder where is my help coming from? Where is my provision? When will this oppressive withholding end? And I wonder how much doubt slips in with each of those questions. Even if I am not doubting, if it sounds like doubt to others, so other perceive I am doubting, does it count? Am I in sin?

We were so far along with shedding sins – now we face the sin of doubt. That one is huge. Who hasn’t ever doubted?! And how do you overcome doubt? Well, this is simple, not necessarily easy. Faith comes by hear the word of God – so turn off the music for a little bit and turn on an audio Bible and bask in it.

You know what I do to rebuild my faith when I am at wits end and doubt is trying to break in? I remember who God is. You see, I know in whom I believe and He is able. He is willing. He has poured grace out on me and He will complete the work He started. He will keep His promises.

If you have a need and are looking for a promise, make sure you pull one out of the Bible in context. Then stand on it. Be as immovable as that verse has been. If it is in context there is no need for doubt. If you do not know if it is in context ask your pastor or someone who knows the Bible better than you. But you have to find your own verse, we cannot find it for you.

And at the end of the day – say to yourself: It is written, I believe it, and that settles it.

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Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!