Life in the Body of Christ

The Gospel According to Paul: As a part of His body, we share Christ’s life and Light. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 05.15.2018” on Spreaker.

“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Unifying Factor

In one of the Apostle Paul’s exhortations to the church at Corinth, he explained unity of the body of Christ. An apparent schism between many of the believers warranted an explanation of each of their roles.

Paul noted how terrible it would be in the natural world if an eye thought that it was not important because it was not a hand. If the eye were the hand, what would do the seeing? He spoke also, of how terrible it would be if that same eye thought that the hand was insignificant. With this clearly outlined, he continued by discussing many of the spiritual gifts the Holy Ghost had imparted to the several members of the body as He saw fit, with each being essential. While the body has many members, it is unified by one overarching and controlling power, which is Christ.

Follow His Lead

It occurred to me while contemplating the resurrection of Jesus, that His literal physical body was once in subjection to earthly limitations; not the least of which was death. When He completed His mission of being our example, He became sin and was obedient to the death of the cross. He died the second death once for all. On the third day, just as He had prophesied, He arose with victory and power in His hands.

The blessing of Jesus’ resurrection, as it relates to His body the church, is that if He is raised, His church is raised with Him. Romans chapter six outlines that when Jesus died, we died in Him, and when He rose raised, we shared in His resurrection. Since His literal physical body is risen and not dead, His church should have the same experience being resurrected from the bonds of sin.

Experience Life and Light Now

Do you feel entombed, and in need of a call from heaven saying, “Child of God, come forth; your Father calls thee”? The word of the Lord to you is that you do not have to be locked in the tomb of sin and shame. No longer do you need to experience the darkness of spiritual death.

Since Christ is raised, you too can be delivered from the pit of sin and death. “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11).

“Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” (Romans 6:9-13).

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




When Tempted, Stand on This Promise

The Gospel According to Paul: God is faithful, and provides a way to escape temptation.       Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, May 14, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 05.14.2018” on Spreaker.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Stopped Short

The children of Israel were a chosen people who were entrusted with the charge of being God’s witnesses to the then known world. Their obedience and intimacy with God have been recorded forever, in the Bible, for us to follow their example. There are many victories recorded from which we might learn, but there are also defeats, that are equally instructive. The people had a habit of worshiping other things in place of God, lusting after evil. As a result, many of them were overthrown in the wilderness, on their way to the Promised Land.

Many times we read of such unfaithfulness, and probably have asked how in the world those people could have been so wicked. After all, did not God constantly demonstrate His power on their behalf with visible signs and wonders?

The Bible echoes, with a resounding warning, against such pride. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). This text is trying to teach us distrust of self. At the same time, it encourages us by saying we do not have to fall into the same sinful patterns. Why? He is faithful!

Tempered Temptation

The Lord has promised to filter the devil’s temptation through His loving care. Always remember that the victories that Jesus accomplished while living on the earth are available today for our deliverance. If temptations come our way, we can be assured that there is a back door ajar to aid in our escape.

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

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




You’ve Seen Nothing Yet

“The Gospel According to Paul: Our greatest hopes and dreams are yet to be seen. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, May 13, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 05.13.2018” on Spreaker.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

What a Wonderful World

There are many beautiful spectacles in the world. In nature, cascading waterfalls, towering trees, and fragrant flowers inspire awe in those who can appreciate such things. We have built sprawling estates with many rooms, and space to house many families comfortably. Some use gold and marble as flooring and covering for fixtures situated all over their properties. Residences such as these captivate the eye and the imagination.

God’s reward for His faithful, however, eclipses everything on this earth, whether natural or fabricated  There is no language that can encapsulate the splendor of all that the Lord has been preparing at least since time began. Many inspired writers who attempted to describe the revelations they received could not find adequate words to capture what they saw. The imagination staggers as it tries to conjure up just a glimpse of God’s reward.

Promise of More to Come

It is a blessing to know that the Lord loves us so much that He is preparing a place for us with Him. In spite of the obstacles that sin has put in the way of our relationship with Him, He has overcome them for those who simply surrender to His will. Let the promise of Jesus encourage you.

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). We look forward to that day with great anticipation. If we remain faithful to the end, we will live forever with Jesus.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




Believers Beware

The Gospel According to Paul: Share Truth, Not Discord. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, May 7, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 05.07.2018” on Spreaker.

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17–18).

Discordant Tone

Beware! Be aware of all who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but are actually savage wolves. Beware! Be aware of those who look like lambs, but speak like dragons. Beware! Be aware of those who claim to be in the faith that look like genuine wheat, but demonstrate the mentality of weeds. Beware.

I love how Paul was a straightforward character. He did not mince words when it came to all matters related to God’s church. In today’s theme text, Paul made himself abundantly clear that there would be people creeping in among us who, like the wily serpent in Eden, would spread seeds of doubt, discord, and strife within the ranks of true believers.

There are those who lurk in the pews who have a form of godliness, say some of the right words, sing some of the right tunes, associate with some of the right people, but are actually snakes who thrive on confusion. From these, stay away!

Look for the Spirit of Unity

Confusion is antithetical to God’s truth. Our Father, and the Creator of us all, has a sure word of truth to share with all who are willing to listen and heed the message. God’s message to all who will receive it creates the environment for unity of faith. It causes all to love one another, have mutual respect, embrace God’s truths without reservation, and lead others to do the same, in preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, if there be any among your ranks who do not encourage faithfulness, but stirs up strife, especially concerning what God has or has not said, beware! “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:16–17). Our God is not the Author of confusion.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




No Shoes on Tuesdays

The Gospel According to Paul: Patience with People. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, May 6, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 05.06.2018” on Spreaker.

“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:1–4).

Diversity of Believers

Real talk: Sometimes our brothers and sisters in the faith are weak. By weak I don’t mean faulty and prone to commit sin, although we all are. This time, I mean weak in understanding. Sometimes God’s people subject themselves to unnecessary guidelines we’ve picked up along the way and then wonder why others are not adhering to them. I would give you a list, but that would fly in the face of what our Scripture focus is teaching us today.

Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that some of our brothers and sisters believe it’s sinful to wear shoes on Tuesday. I know that seems ridiculous; but then so do some of the things we really struggle with. Work with me here. What should the “stronger” believer do in that case?

Should the stronger believer chastise the weaker one for that faulty line of reasoning if that person just chooses to maintain a no shoes wearing practice for Tuesdays? What if that person doesn’t really pester others with that faulty thinking?

What to Do With the “Weak”

The problem Paul was addressing was multifaceted. Among the many facets was the basic human relationship element that said strong believers need to take time and be patient with our brothers and sisters who hold onto certain paradigms that don’t necessarily lead to sin or death (especially). Whether a person does or doesn’t wear shoes on Tuesday means absolutely nothing, on the surface level. What if the so-called strong believer tried to enforce a mindset adjustment on the weak believer? What if the strong believer deliberately paraded his or herself in front of the weak believer on Tuesdays, while wearing shoes, just to make a point? What if the strong believer pressured the weak believer to at least try on the shoes that day, and the weak believer violated his or her conscience, albeit misguided? Are you getting the picture here?

Jesus did not unnecessarily (I said unnecessarily) jolt people into truth or new life paradigms. Some people need more tender guidance than others. Some need to overcome strange customs and superstitions. Our duty is to bear long with those who are just getting their spiritual feet under them and humanely teach, share, pray with, and guide them. In due season, they will unlearn the seemingly senseless customs they have been carrying for a long time.

Patience Please

The message of Christ is that we should encourage hope in all situations. We must encourage faithfulness and holiness. We must reflect God’s love and patience if we claim to be His ambassadors. We must bear one another’s burdens and learn from the errors of those who did not get this valuable aspect of the gospel.

We now know what not to do. We must not bruise the consciences of those who have not reached our stage of development as yet. We must not forget that these dear ones are also the apple of God’s eye and we must help them the same way God helps us everyday. God’s truth is loving, kind, patient, and practical.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




Surrender Your Complacency

The Gospel According to Paul: Keep Surrendering in Faith and Be Transformed. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Thursday, May 3, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 05.03.2018” on Spreaker.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1–2).

Surrender Your Best To Him

God has done so much for us, in giving us His Son as our substitute. His gift means we will not need to die for our sins. It is reasonable, therefore, that we should present ourselves to God. It’s the least we can do to surrender our best for His service.

For some reason, we lay back when we achieve a certain level of success or blessings; it’s called, “resting on your laurels.” Complacency is the killer of progress and momentum. It causes us to deceive ourselves into believing that if we take a break from whatever got us into the positive position, we can pick up where we left off. Not only is this untrue in the secular world, but it is also untrue, and more so, in the spiritual world.

Faith in Full Force

If you wish to be spiritually successful and have a thriving relationship with God, retain the zeal of your first love with God, and the habits that drove you closest to Him in the first place. You entered your relationship with Him through faith. Continually submit yourself to God through the same brand of faith until Jesus returns.

Never underestimate truehearted commitment to God. We are to be diligent in presenting our bodies to God. Any trend that we cling to that impairs our judgment or health must be completely abandoned. God does not accept lame sacrifices.

In our day, a lame sacrifice is when we neglect to follow God’s laws of nature and health yet proclaim full surrender to God. A lame sacrifice is what we are when we feed our bodies with unhealthful foods and drinks. We are lame sacrifices when we do not do all we can to preserve health according to all God has revealed in Scripture.

Transformational Power

Our merciful God has given all to us, even to the point of giving us His dear Son to save us from our sins. When we continually surrender all to Him, we can expect transformational power. We can expect not to be squeezed into the world’s mold. And as we experience this transformational power, we become examples of God’s ability to make us holy, just, and good. We become examples of His power to make us all that is well-pleasing and perfect, according to His will.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




Listening

The Gospel According to Paul: Faith Comes by Listening to the Word of God. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 05.02.2018” on Spreaker.

“…faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

The Voices in Your Head

To what are you listening? Are you listening to the voices of naysayers who don’t have your best interest at heart? Do you immerse yourself in the news which seems to find pleasure in sensationalizing tragedy? Are you listening to your doubts and fears? Are you listening to reflections of unresolved emotional pain?

With all of the many voices vying for our attention, it is difficult to pull away and listen for the voice of the Creator at times. While the whirlwind of wars, political infighting, economic ups and downs, swirl about us, it takes extreme discipline a fortitude to draw aside to give a keen ear to what God has to say. While others are typing away with their thumbs in social media, speaking away with the many podcasts, and publishing away, the many books that may not be as edifying as we had hoped, our God has something to say. Are you willing to listen?

Faith Comes by Hearing

The keys to all of the world’s woes are in the Word of God. Faith comes through hearing the God’s Word. The ancient Jewish mindset, which I am adopting was that hearing and doing were synonymous. This is why some would literally stop up their ears when they were unwilling to do what was being said.

Let me ask you again: “To what are you listening?” If you find that you are in need of encouragement, guidance, wisdom, comfort, peace, and instruction in righteousness, hear and do God’s Word. Establish a pattern of asking God to write His Words into your lifestyle and habits. Ask Him to teach you truth, make you more loving and kind, and to surrender your all to Him. If you do this consistently, be on the lookout for power you may have never experienced before in your life. Give thanks that God is still willing to speak life into you so you can be saved.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




Simple Salvation

The Gospel According to Paul: Un-complicate Your Idea of Salvation. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 05.01.2018” on Spreaker.

“…The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:8–13).

Simple Qualifications

Sometimes we make the gospel of Christ really complicated. We complicate love. We complicate grace. We complicate mercy. We complicate law-keeping. We complicate forgiveness. We complicate cleansing from all unrighteousness. It is so unnecessary. God’s Word, and His great and precious promises are for us and our children if we will simply have faith in God to believe He will do what He says He will do!

When Paul was addressing his readers in Romans 10, he was doing his best to un-complicate the matter of salvation. Some of his brothers who were born Israelites still tried to qualify themselves for heaven even after Messiah had come. Some of them still attempted to establish righteousness upon their own standards, and tried to accomplish them in their own strength. That’s at least two problems, in case you missed it.

His Failsafe

God’s claim upon all humanity is that we must keep the law perfectly or face the consequences of failing. So, if you wish to attempt this feat in your own strength, you will bear the consequences. However, those who keep faith in Christ, and surrender their all to Him, receive the power to do all God commands, and if they make a mistake along the way, they have the advocacy of Christ for the forgiveness of sins and cleansing from all unrighteousness.

The truth is that God’s truth is near to us in His Word. We don’t need to fly to some new realm to discover salvation’s secret code. We don’t need to commission a deep sea expedition to find treasures of a buried city to find the secret. And we don’t have to be born Israelites. If we are going to be saved, we will be saved on the same basis: by the power of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.

Consider Yourself Empowered

If we believe this with all our hearts and agree with God on this, we absolutely will be saved. Saved people, by virtue of the Holy Spirit’s power that resides in them will invariably do God’s will. Why? Where the Spirit abides, He provides strength to accomplish that which human effort will always fail to accomplish. What is impossible with human effort is more than possible with God.

Don’t complicate salvation. It’s free. It’s empowering. Those who receive it by faith become responsible citizens of the kingdom, while we sojourn in this world.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




Supernaturally Committed to You

The Gospel According to Paul: God Gave His All for You, and Nothing Can Separate You From Him. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, April 30, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 04.30.2018” on Spreaker.

 

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35–39).

A Word of Encouragement

I have great news for you today! God loves you. He absolutely adores you. God gave His all because He cannot stomach the idea of living eternally without you. This is why He created you; to be with Him forever.

Quite frankly, it does not always feel like God loves us. It’s not that God stops showing us His love; He doesn’t. It’s that the trials of life get in our way. They cloud our vision and disrupt our connection to God at times. Paul wanted to make the point clear, that there is nothing that can make Him love you any less. In the context of Romans 8, He rescued you from eternal death.

You are now walking in the power of His Holy Spirit, free from condemnation and you are receiving the blessing of Jesus’ victory and example of holiness. Today you are benefitting from the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of your prayers so the Father can answer them for His glory and your benefit. You have already begun to realize that the temporary trials of this life cannot be compared to the eternal blessings that come after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. You are already experiencing the power to mortify the evil deeds you used to enjoy when you were trapped by sin. Now, you need a little encouragement.

He Put It All On the Line For You

Can the trials you will suffer for Christ’s sake separate you from God’s love? No! Can those who hate and persecute you separate you from His love? No! Can the fact that God’s people are not immune to death separate you from His love? No! Can evil spirits, principalities and powers on earth or in the supernatural realm–though you cannot see them– separate you from God’s love? No!

Why can’t anything separate you from His love, my friends? There’s one reason we are bound to His love when He rescues us from sin—He laid it all on the line, changing heaven and earth forever by giving His Son for us. Since He gave all, to show His love for us, He cannot be anymore committed to that love. He gave His best for you. Will you continue to give your best for Him?

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?




Here’s Why You Can Pray Big Prayers

The Gospel According to Paul: God Has Already Given You His Best.  Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, April 29, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 04.29.2018” on Spreaker.

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:32–34).

He Substituted Himself for Us

Some of us have meager faith. We may pray tiny prayers. Some of us don’t realize how big God is and just hope we can get through the day, rather than asking God for the fullness of His Spirit, all of the blessings He has stored up for us, and to enlarge our influence to draw tens, hundreds, thousands, and millions into a love relationship with God.

In our theme passage, Paul underscores the bigness of God’s love and willingness to give us all according to His riches in glory. He said that God gave us all of heaven in one Gift, Jesus Christ. Do you get the value of this Gift? Jesus, equal with the Father and unified with Him consented to be our Substitute and Surety of salvation. He died horrible death while in the flesh so we could live eternally when He returns. This is major! The One who never sinned and who created all that is visible, invisible; whether they be powers, thrones, kingdoms, or any other thing in the universe; He limited Himself to a human body and met the challenges of human needs. God loved the world so much that He gave us Jesus Christ so we could be saved. Wonderful!

His Depth of Sacrifice Leaves Nothing on the Table

For 33 and a half years the Father and Son did not share in the glory they had together before the world was created. Jesus had to rely on a power outside His human capacity, and divine prerogatives, so we could be saved.

If God loves us so much that He gave all of this, and more to us, why do some us us worry about our light bills? If God gave the infinite gift of love, which is treasured in the Person of Jesus Christ, why do some of us think it’s too hard from Him to comfort, heal, secure, deliver, cheer, empower, or unconfuse us? Why do we allow work pressures, unemployment woes, health problems, relationship breaches, and world political strife to cripple us? If God be for us, who can be against us? If God gave the biggest Gift possible already, what are these tiny little human needs to Him?

Permission to Believe Great Things

I want you to ask God to teach you to appreciate the vastness of the gift of Jesus Christ so your prayers and thanks will get broader, stronger, larger, deeper, and align with His power. Let God impress you with His greatness and increase your faith. Allow Him to increase your appreciation for Jesus’ death, victory, and mediation for you. Ask Him to increase your expectations of Him, as you pray in the spirit of Jesus’ perfection until He returns. Your great big God has already given you the best He has to offer, do not fear to ask Him to give you whatever is for His glory and your good. Go with God on your side and pray mountain moving prayers, by faith.

I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, are you?