Forgive…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

II Corinthians 2:17

For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you.  For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained?  And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all.  For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.  Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you.  For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough,  so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.  So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.  For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything.  Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ,  so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.  But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.   For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,  to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?  For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

Forgive – To grant pardon; to give up claim on account of; to cease to feel resentment against; to cancel an indebtedness

Can we forgive even if the offender is not sorry, has not repented?  Did Christ go to the cross even though abandoned by those closest to him?  Forgiving not only benefits the one who wronged, but also the one forgiving.  It releases all from the situation which caused the offense.  Our ability to forgive, which follows Christ’s example, is the fragrance that rises to God.  It is what separates us from the rest of mankind who calls for revenge.  Let’s be a fragrance to God and all who cross our paths.

it is God who establishes …

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

II Corinthians 1:12-24

For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand—  just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.  Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace.   I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea.   Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time?  As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No.  For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes.  For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.   And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us,  and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.  But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth.   Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

Our faith is built on an unwavering pretext.  It is not founded on mankind’s ideas, philosophies or conjectures.  It is founded on Christ Jesus; on him crucified for our sins, raised again to new life and living with the Father now.  It is founded on his model, our redemption, our certain future with him.  It is founded on truth that has been tested, found true.  It is built on a sureness that resonates within us, our spirit connecting with his Spirit.  Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer is power…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

II Corinthians 1:11

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.   If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.  Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.  For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.  You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Our prayers are effective.  They include praise, worship and raising the needs of others before the Lord.  Our sufferings have purpose as well.  They remind us each time that our God is able to deliver and enable us to be of comfort to others who suffer, pointing them to the one who comforts us all.  What happens to us is mere circumstance, much like the resistance in weight training that we use to exercise and build our muscular strength.  The Balm of Gilead, a salve that soothes is Christ and he is our comfort.  This can be shared with others who suffer. We receive encouragement when we encourage others. Let us spread the comfort of the sweet cream of Christ over those around us who suffer.  Let us take it for ourselves when we suffer and know its comfort.  Spread prayer over our land so it may be healed of the evil that has invaded like an insidious infection.  Spread prayer before the infection gets into the blood stream and vital organs and kills the living organism of our nation.  Spread prayer to give comfort to the oppressed, neglected and abused.  Spread prayer and know its power.  Spread prayer and see its power.

“…You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. …”

“…Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, …”

Who do we follow…?

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

I Corinthians 16:15-24

 Now I urge you, brothers—you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints— be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer.   I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence,   for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people.  The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.  All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.  I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand.   If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!   The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.  My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

We are not told to be subject or show submission to just anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ.  In this we are to be judges of the character and fruit of the Spirit demonstrated by others.  Not to disrespect but to know whether they truly  are of God.  Those who

“devote themselves to the service of the saints…” 

Paul states to be subject to such as these and to every fellow laborer and worker.  Do they speak in love and kindness?  Are they found faithful to the work of the Lord; to the building of the kingdom?  “Be subject to such as these…”

Treat one another with love, encourage one another to good  works, build one another up, no tearing down and dividing.  Name the name of Jesus Christ only.  Keep our focus on Him in all we do and say and we will be seen as peaceful and faithful.  Christ will be lifted up and will draw all men to him.  Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let all that you do be done in love….

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

I Corinthians 16:1-14

 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.  If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.  I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia,   and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go.  For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost,   for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.  When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am.  So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers.  Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity.   Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.

A glimpse into the affairs of the early church along with words of instruction on how to function can be applied today…be watchful…stand firm…act like men…be strong…act in and by love.  Watchful, for there is much about us in the media, schools, shops and entertainment that would distract us from simply sharing Christ and would gain a toehold in our lives that can turn into  stronghold for the enemy of our souls to sow seeds of despair and anxiety.  Stand firm requires knowledge of Scripture and a good foundation for our relationship with God.  Then the winds of change that would try to destroy our faith will be ineffective for we know what is the will of God, we have been in the Word.  Act like men (and women) implies maturity and maturity in Christ does not engage in strife and divisions.  Be strong tells us we are not weak but strong in the Lord.  The joy of the Lord is our strength no matter what the circumstances are our ‘big picture’ vision allows us to keep all things in perspective.  Finally there is love; love drives all our actions and reactions.  Christ is our prime example and a constant reminder to let love rule for God is love   Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is more than this life…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

I Corinthians 15:50-58

 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.   For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Good to keep at the forefront of our daily walk through life, in all we do, is the last statement.  Know that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.  Also encouraging is the knowledge that death for the believer no longer has a sting, no longer has the last word.  This passage is meant to encourage and inform.  We are passing through this life…it isn’t an end-all, be-all.  We are able to fully enjoy this trip and all it brings, rejoicing in the love of our God through Christ Jesus.  Take on the day in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let the spirit grow…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

I Corinthians 15:35-49

  But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”   You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.   And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.   But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.   For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.  There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.   There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.   So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.   It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.   It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.   Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.   But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.   The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.   As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.   Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.   I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.   Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,   in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.   For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.   When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”   “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”   The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.   But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.   Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

We learn from the seed that is sown.  We have been sown as seed in the natural to fill the earth and with our acceptance of the sacrifice and message of Christ we are sown as spiritual seed to fill heaven.  What a picture!  Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“…  But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.  …”

So it can be said that we are natural beings having a spiritual experience or when after accepting Christ we are spiritual beings having a natural experience.  By this verse the natural comes first, then the spiritual.  We are physical beings first and are reborn as spiritual beings.  A transformation begins to take place at rebirth and the physical diminishes and the spiritual grows.  If not, we need to consider our stunted growth.  Are we receiving the nourishing Word of God as regularly as we receive our daily ration of natural food?  If we are stunted in growth we have ourselves to blame.  Do not starve the spiritual self.  Sit at the table of God and be fed.  Be immersed in the Word of God, be fed by the Holy Spirit, drink of His spiritual waters and experience the spiritual growth that follows.  There is time in every day for our natural meals and there is time for our spiritual meals.  Weed out the junk food…both physical and spiritual that would eat up our time.  Let the Spirit rise within us each day more and more.

Life for eternity…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

I Corinthians 15:12-34

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

There is a promise and a premise.  Eternal life is ours.  Death is also ours.  But for those who truly believe Christ conquered death and sin, death is only temporary for the physical, however, there is a spiritual death for those who do not believe.  The believer does not share in death as final.  There is eternal life as promised and activated by Christ.  The promise is eternal life with God, not separated from God which is the final death.  The premise is this is truth because Christ conquered death for all who believe.  The physical death does not continue into spiritual death for the believer.  The believer begins life with acceptance of Christ and it never ends.

By His grace…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

I Corinthians 15:1-11

 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.  Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

And this is true for all believers; what we do is done by the Spirit at work in us.  Who we are in Christ is only possible through Him.  We can take credit for none of it only that we are willing servants for Him.  The focus is clear.  Christ gives the ability to live life abundantly each day.  He gives the grace and ability to do His will and His work.  We become one with Him and His arms can reach, touch, His words can save and His power can deliver.  Touch someone today for Him.  Love on someone today for Him.

Order…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

I Corinthians 14:26-40

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret.  But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?  If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.

Order allows the Holy Spirit to move and flow among us.  There are no hindrances or obstacles and the minds and hearts are open to receive.  Our spirit connects with His Spirit and we acknowledge and accept or reject.  This principle of order can be applied to any situation.  God is the God of order, not confusion.  And this will allow us to judge whether the manifestations among us be of God or man.

“…What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.…”

When we meet do we have something to contribute that will build up those with us?  Are we faithful in giving as well as receiving?  Do we realized that when we come together not only do we benefit from the worship in our spirit and from the teaching in our knowledge but also that we are needed to provide the same for others in the group.  We each can focus on how we can benefit the group as well as looking forward to taking something away from the gathering.  Let us purpose before the next gathering to be ready to give to others in encouragement and love.