Posts Tagged ‘First Epistle to the Corinthians’

(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– Even so, the tongue is a little member – and boasts great things.  Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindles. – James 3:5

– And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown – but we an incorruptible one. – 1 Corinthians 9:25

Just as the tiny rudder of a great big ship can be used to control its movements, steering its direction along certain courses (James 3:4) – so can our tongues steer the path of these days God has given each of us.  Depending on what we say – or don’t. The commentary which comes out of our mouths can steer conversations into contention, confusion, or contentment.  The direction of our day follows.

Death and life are in the power of our tongues – and those who love it will eat the fruit thereof (Proverbs 18:21).  Words from our mouths can be hurtful and wounding – helpful and healing (Proverbs 12:18). Our tongues can touch off wildfires – the flames of which can be tough to tame (James 3:6).  Wars of words often ensue.  We’re warned not to do this as believers (2 Timothy 2:16).

What comes into us from the outside can’t defile us. But just like our bodies, our hearts and minds are vessels.  They can only hold so much in before something spills out.  What then flows forth from our lips can quickly defile us.  Wrong words from our tongues seal the deal of defiling our whole bodies (Matthew 15:11,18-20).  The damage is done once words are out (James 3:6).

It’s hard to hold our tongue back sometimes – but it’s much harder to take our words back once spoken. Even when we say we’re sorry – sorrow has been sown.  We could have reopened a wound in another person’s heart – scarred by a previous hurtful word spoken years ago by someone else.  It takes asking God to set a watch before our mouths at times – to keep the door of our lips closed (Psalm 141:3).

This is where temperance comes in as Christians. Just as a ship’s captain gently steers the course of any vessel with a rudder, so does a shepherd gently steer the course of any flock with a staff.  We have been born again of the Spirit as Christians (John 3:5).  We were once astray – but have now been returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (1 Peter 2:25).  All control now belongs to Christ.

Jesus now dwells in our hearts by faith through the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16-17).  So we start producing the spiritual fruit God requires – to show the results of our mutual abidance in each other (John 15:1-5).  One such desired fruit is temperance (Galatians 5:22-23).  Temperance is the practice of always controlling our actions and feelings – regardless of situation or circumstance.

It’s moderation and self-restraint in behavior and expressions.  So we don’t always act or speak on assumptions; jumping to conclusions (Joshua 22:1-34).  So we don’t always give people a piece of our mind with our mouth.  We’ve been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).  So ours are no longer conformed to the world – but transformed to be like Christ’s (Romans 12:2).  To give us peace of mind.

Still, we are flesh.  Even with the Holy Spirit in us – the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.  They are contrary – one to the other (Galatians 5:17) – so we don’t always do or say the things we would (Romans 7:19-20).  In order to learn mastery – to be temperate in all things (second lead verse), we have to be taught so by the Master.  It’s essential to taming our tongues.

Everything we speak, starts as a thought.  These thoughts travel from our brains to our tongues.  For example, emotions often emerge from our mouths in word – when we’ve thought about things like love or hate long enough.  Once we start talking, people may want to stay with us – or walk away forever, depending on our words.  Once a person leaves because of them – it’s hard to get them back

As our minds are transformed daily by God’s truth, we should begin talking much more about the Word (Philippians 3:20) – and much less about the world. However, even speaking the truth requires some temperance.  Jesus didn’t always talk and teach. Christ also spent time praying and reflecting. When the Son of man did speak, it was always relevant to the situation.

The words which leave our lips about the Lord can go a long way to drawing the lost closer to the Cross – or driving them away (Romans 10:14, Ephesians 5:6).  Yes, whatever we say requires a tongue of temperance – whether it’s truth or not.  Remember, God always knows our words before we say them (Psalm 139:4) – and we will be judged for every idle word we ever spoke (Matthew 12:36).

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(KJV and NKJV Scripture)

– Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ‘s gospel; and a door was opened unto me of the Lord. – 2 Corinthians 2:12

– “I (Jesus) am the door: By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” – John 10:9

All of us probably love to hear words such as “If God closes one door, He’ll open another one.”  However, there are all kinds of doors in life – both physical and spiritual.  Which of the latter ones are being opened or closed shut, and when – takes prayer and great discernment.  So is who’s opening them, and why – or life can end up feeling like a revolving door.

When Paul tarried at Ephesus until Pentecost, he realized God had opened a great and effectual door to preach the gospel there.  He was also fully aware there were many adversaries waiting on the other side who didn’t want him to (1 Corinthians 16:8-9). His main adversary then, is the same as ours today – Satan (1 Peter 5:8).

Sin lies at every door (Genesis 4:7) – including the figurative one over our mouths (Psalm 141:3).  A door we may perceive to be leading to more truth and our Father – could just be a trap door to more lies.  Set by the father of them – Satan (John 8:44), to catch us at will in his snare of sin once again (2 Timothy 2:26).

Following God requires faith and prayer – which have their own doors.  When Paul and Barnabas gathered the church together in Antioch – they told of how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 14:26-27).  When we pray, we are to go into a closet, and shut the door.  What He sees in secret will be rewarded openly (Matthew 6:6).

Still, wherever we go to spread the gospel, there will be opposition standing in every doorway.  The devil doesn’t want us to get to a place he can never get back to – heaven.  We have overcome the wicked one as believers – if we abide with God steadfast until the end; as He does with us (John 15:1-5, Hebrews 3:14, Hebrews 13:5, John 2:14).

There is a final door we’re all heading for called death.  It’s the forever snare of Satan (Proverbs 14:27).  All issues from death belong to God (Psalm 68:20) – and He holds the keys to it and hell (Revelation 1:18).  However, Satan still has power over ours.  This is why Christ died at the Cross – to defeat death in principle (Hebrews 2:9-15).

However, it will be the last enemy to be defeated (1 Corinthians 15:26).  This won’t happen until God sends His Son back with His grace and salvation (1 Peter 1:13, Revelation 12:10).  Until then, standing in the doorway between the devil and eternal damnation, and forever deliverance – is our Savior Jesus (second lead verse).

There really is a stairway to heaven in a spiritual sense.  We can spend our whole lives as Christians climbing up the wrong steps (John 10:1).  We’ve been given the key to heaven with the Holy Ghost – but can still find heaven’s door has no keyhole upon our death.  We have to stay humble and obedient unto it like Jesus (Philippians 2:8, Colossians 3:5-6).

It doesn’t matter how high we climb – perhaps on the proverbial ladder to success in life – if we find the door to eternal deliverance upon our death, locked. We can knock all we want with no answer.  Or, we may hear God say from the other side “Depart, for I never knew you (Matthew 7:23).”  The only stairs left are the ones leading down to damnation’s door.

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– For what man knows the things of a man – save the spirit which is in him?  Even so, the things of God knows no man – but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world – but the Spirit which is of God – that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God.  Which things we also speak – not in the wisdom that man’s wisdom teaches – but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. – 1 Corinthians 2:11-13

– Never try to understand something from the outside. – Brad Melzer

Our Father in heaven is never the author of any confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).  Especially in the lives of believers – for we have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost to be taught the things of Him.  By Him – and not man (lead verses).  It is impossible for Him to lie to us (Hebrews 6:18, 1 John 2:27). God is the Rock – His work is perfect – for all His ways are judgment.  A Father of truth is He – without any iniquity (Deuteronomy 32:4).  Still, Scripture can seem confusing, contradictory, imperfect, and even untruthful at times – even among long-time believers.

This is very understandable if a person is still lost and unbelieving.  For they have not yet received the gift of the Holy Ghost – when Christ comes to dwell in their inner man by faith (Ephesians 3:16-17).  The gospel is still hidden to them – and the preaching of the Cross is foolishness – for they are still presently perishing (2 Corinthians 4:3-4, 1 Corinthians 1:18). They remain natural men and woman trying to understand God and His Word from the outside-in – as if it’s a history book about Him – and not His story about us (1 Corinthians 2:14, 2 Timothy 3:16, lead quote).

It’s even understandable when new believers – or those trying to build their faith and trust on an unstable foundation – get confused with Scripture.  For they are still unlearned – and wrestle with Scripture to their destruction (2 Peter 3:17).  Being able to compare spiritual things with the spiritual takes time – but it’s a sign of healthy and steady spiritual growth.  With the Holy Ghost inside us – He begins to guide us into all truth with no lie (John 16:13, 1 John 2:27).  This is given freely to us by Him – if His words abide in us – and we in Him; at all times (John 15:1-7, lead verses).

Christ once told a parable – about a parable – to illustrate all this.  Jesus was with the 12 disciples whom God had chosen – and some others whom He had not.  The Son of man said unto them “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God – but to them that are without – all these things are done in parables.  That seeing they may see – and not perceive; and hearing they may hear – and not understand. Lest at any time they should be converted – and their sins should be forgiven them.  Do you not know this parable? How then will you know all parables (Mark 4:10-13)?”

The only thing that makes anyone a Christian is receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost – for many reasons.  We are none of God’s without it (Romans 8:9), we cannot say Christ is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3); and our Father has no power to quicken (make alive) our mortal bodies and raise us up to salvation when Christ returns (Romans 8:11, Revelation 12:10).  It is the Spirit inside us that makes us alive – our flesh profits nothing (John 6:63).  Otherwise, we may be going to church, Bible studies, etc., – and still be on the outside looking in (1 Corinthians 2:14, 2 Timothy 3:7).

As Christians, we have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).  We are to learn God’s Son the way He wants us to from the inside-out – and the only One inside our hearts is Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16-17, Ephesians 4:20-32).  We now learn how God’s Spirit speaks and teaches within us – so we can do likewise to others – with His wisdom and not our own.  Again, it takes time through continual repentance as our inner man is continually transformed, regenerated, and renewed from above (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Titus 3:5).

Slowly and steadily, we should learn from Him how to compare spiritual things with the spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:13).  Not to trivialize it – but it really is like connecting spiritual dots.  So one verse/passage gets connected to another – and another – and so on.  For the mystery which has been hid from ages – and from generations – is now made manifest to His saints (Colossians 1:26).  Some dots get connected quickly – others take years.  Some never do – and that’s for good reason (Ecclesiastes 7:16, Isaiah 55:8-9, Romans 11:33, 1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

A clearer, pieced together, spiritual picture should being to emerge to us – so we can then share it with others; especially the lost.  No longer cherry-picking singular verses/passages from Scripture that may sound great to ourselves when posted on Facebook (for example) – but meaning nothing to unbelievers when shared – except to add to their confusion as to what Christianity is all about.  So perhaps they may start to think “This is making more sense to me now” instead of “This still makes no sense.”  So God might finally convict their hearts of sin with His sorrow – and give them the gift of the Spirit for repentance unto salvation (2 Corinthians 7:8-10).

So any believer presenting Scripture through writings can slowly start to do so in a less sporadic or spotty fashion than they may have at one time.  So any Christian speaking Scripture in public can be more specific each time they do so – and perhaps less sputtering than they may have once sounded.  A more “jointed” spiritual picture is created in our hearts and minds.  So any of us knows how to answer every man – understanding both what we say and affirm (2 Timothy 2:15, 1 Timothy 1:7).  So Christianity doesn’t sound like a whole bunch of jangling noise (1 Timothy 1:6) – for that likely pushes people further away from the Cross – than drawing them closer.

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– Now to him that works is the reward, not reckoned of grace, but of debt. – Romans 4:4

– Every one loves gifts, and follows after rewards. – Isaiah 1:23

The world tells us if we want something bad enough in this life, we must work hard for it. Otherwise, we don’t really deserve things like awards, gifts, promotions, raises, and recognition – to name a few. Those who are dedicated and put their proverbial noses to the grindstone can often get mad and frustrated over time when they don’t get those things they believe they’ve earned.

Especially when they see the ones who seem to be lazy and slacking off – walk off with what they wanted. This leads to bean-counting and keeping score – and we start comparing and measuring our work efforts with others (2 Corinthians 10:12). Some then set out to work harder – some just give up with a “what does it matter?” approach.

This attitude does not belong in the mind of Christians. It strongly indicates a works-based approach – not a servant-based approach – in doing anything for God. It also implies an intentionally personal – and privately profitable mindset in being a believer. Sadly, some were like this back in Biblical times – and there will be some like this in modern times (Job 34:9, Job 35:3, Malachi 3:14, Titus 1:11, 1 Peter 5:2).

As Christians, we are to set our eyes on things above – where neither moth or rust corrupts. This is where our treasure is – and where our hearts should be as well (Matthew 6:19-21, Colossians 3:2). Otherwise, we’re telling God we’re seeking something better down below (Hebrews 11:13-16).

All the work we do for the Lord is our reward – not a means to get one in this world. We have a debt to repay to our Father for what He did for us on the Cross (lead verse above). Yes, faith without works is dead (James 2:20). Remember, though – we will be saved by grace through faith – not by works, lest should any of us boast (Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 Peter 1:9-13).

Our faith and belief without works still counts as righteousness before God (Romans 4:3,5). When we do labor for God – we must be careful to maintain good works – not works to get goods (Titus 3:8). If our works are unfruitful, deceitful, worldly, and wrong – and wrought with envy and strife – confusion and evil works will enter in (James 3:16, 1 Corinthians 14:33).

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. – Hebrews 4:9

Boredom and restlessness go hand-in-hand walking down the highways of our lives. Each one by themselves can “hand” itself over to the other. Both are nothing but losing interest in someone or something. We just ‘know” there is something better around the next corner – or just over the next hill – but we’re never quite sure what it is. However, we can be far too willing at times to risk relationships – to see if we can go find out.

Many people can spend their whole lives like this. They drift restlessly from one new person or thing to another – but never seem to find the internal and permanent rest they so long for. Whatever it is remains ever elusive – always just out of reach – and they never enter into God’s rest.

Are we more at rest in our relationship with God – or more restless as believers? Is there something we see immediately in the world that promises better things for our own gain –  than just promises of them in the Word intended to benefit everyone (Ecclesiastes 5:9)?  Are we getting bored and losing interest – willing to risk our relationship with Him to go find out?  Remember, it can seem evil to serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).

This can be evidenced when we’re not getting the goods of this world we thought we might when we became believers.  The subtlety of Satan is really good at making us think we should be serving ourselves for serving the Lord – otherwise, why are doing it (Romans 4:4, 2 Corinthians 4:4)?  When this happens, we can begin to claim blessings God never intended for us.  When our focus remains on the world as Christians – we can easily grow restless with the Word (Philippians 3:19, 1 John 2:15).

Hebrews 4:1-10 gives us God’s promise of rest. Some do not enter because His Word is not mixed in with faith – others because there still remains some unbelief. The truest way to enter into His rest is to cease from our own works – just like He did after creating this world. It may sound contradictory – but we have to labor to enter in. However, whatever work we do in the world – we do heartily unto Him – and not towards other men (Colossians 3:23).

This may mean we have to leave earthly careers – to find out what our true calling and labor is for Him according to our proper gift (1 Corinthians 7:7). Not in every case, but this may be what it takes for some of us – through listening to and obeying the Spirit – to finally find out the “rest” that remains.  For then we might be able to finally enter His rest completely – now and for eternity (2 Thessalonians 1:7).

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– So likewise you, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, “We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” – Luke 17:10

Most of us like some sort of attention every now or then – public or private – and some more frequently than others. We like to be recognized for our efforts in any of life’s endeavors. When somebody notices us, thanks us – and accompanies it with some sort of award or reward – it makes any expenditure of time, money, or labor – seem somehow more worthwhile.

Otherwise, why did we really do anything in the first place? This can happen in education, parenting, careers – and so on. However, any type of anticipatory or expectant mindset among us as Christians is very worldly. It creates a “de-servant” approach to being a believer – rather than steady servitude that gives God all the glory in anything we do for Him (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Our Christian lives cannot be contingent on a “What have you done for me lately” mindset with God. Sacrificing His only Son on that Cross over 2,000 years ago had better be enough for all of us – at all times. Anything we do is out of gratitude for this – never out of an attitude God had still better do more things for us – to make our efforts as believers more worthwhile. We are unprofitable servants on earth (Luke 17:7-10). Whatever we do in His name below heaven is our reward – not a method and means to get one (Romans 4:4).

We have a debt to Him we can never repay (Romans 4:4). Our thanks and just reward will come in heaven – after we’ve done all He’s commanded us to do down here (Matthew 6:20, Luke 12:33, 1 Corinthians 9:16-27, 1 Peter 1:4). If that’s not good enough – we are telling God we are seeking something other than the eternal city that awaits us (Hebrews 11:13-16).  The only thanks which will really matter is when our heavenly Father smiles and says to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant – enter into the joy of the Lord (Matthew 25:23).

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