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Archive for November, 2010

Censure of the Yeast

Grace and Peace,

Today we are going over 1 Corinthians 5.

Here is a link to it on Biblegateway.com

My wife and I used to live in Tallahassee, Fl.  The main thing I remember about being there was that it was almost always hot and sticky and for about 2-4 weeks at the turn of the year, it got cold.  Well, it got cold for the south, it had highs in the 40’s but then it would bounce back up.  What my wife always brings up, is how there were giant cockroaches, with no real winter, they just grew and grew and grew…

When we were there, we went to a church called Crossbridge Christian Church.  They were located in the south eastern part of the city and we lived in the eastern side.  We would follow one of the main roads, Capital Circle NE, down to the church and we would pass a billboard for the church.  It was big, hence billboard.  It said:

Crossbridge Christian Church

No Perfect People Allowed

We all get the intention of such a sign.  It is saying to the people who don’t go to church that they would fit right in because none of us are perfect and we are all working to better ourselves.  I’m sure it also had some people saying that they can’t attend because they are perfect!

A sign like this is vague in a good way.  It gives the idea that people aren’t perfect but it doesn’t start spouting off sins in the church.

In this chapter (Paul didn’t write chapters but people later inserted them to be able to follow it more clearly) Paul starts off by talking about sin in the church.  Not just struggles that people are having but sin that people think are ok.  They think it is so accepted, that they are boasting about it. In v1-2 Paul writes:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud!

Upon first reading this, I thought that this problem was reported to Paul as someone who is troubled saying ‘this guy is sleeping with his stepmother, how can we confront him and show him that is wrong?’  But v2 gives the real meaning.

They are proud that they have a member of their church that is sleeping with their stepmother!

This is like a much more perverse billboard:

Corinthian Christian Church

Here, Christians Sleep With Their Step-Parents

(sorry to anyone who is actually in a church in Corinth)

Besides being creepy, this doesn’t give the idea that people are working towards bettering themselves.  The church at Corinth was happy to say that they are full of sin.

As Christians, we are supposed to be examples of Christ to the people around us.

Philippians 3:17 “Join with others in following my example

1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 “You became imitators of us and the Lord… You became a model to all believers

1 Timothy 1:16 “I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”

1 Peter 5:2-3 “Be… eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

Paul’s message to them in the second part of v2 is this:

Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?

Paul is saying that if someone is claiming to be a Christian, but they aren’t following Jesus, then you should remove them from your fellowship and hopefully the censure will knock some sense into them and will put an end to their acceptance of sin in their life.

Whoa.

Do you know someone in your life who is a Christian and is accepting of sin?

Is that person you?

What I am taking from this is the seriousness of sin.  That sin in my life, can destroy someone else’s life.  Like yeast, where a little bit can affect the whole batch, a little sin from one person, can affect a whole community of believers.

-Zack

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Power and Turkey

Grace and Peace,

Today we are going over 1 Corinthians 4.

Here is a link to it on Biblegateway.com

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving Day.  I know I had a good day with some family and a huge meal.  I went and spent the day with relatives at a family party.  We brought a pie and in return had a huge feast! There was a 24lbs turkey, stuffing, multiple types of cranberry sauce (the canned is my favorite), salads, potatoes, sweet potatoes, other things too, we probably had vegetables but not on my plate.  This was also the second Thanksgiving Day gathering I went to.  I was at one the weekend before with a group of friends.  There, all the food was provided, we were asked to bring canned goods for the food pantry.  We brought a big can of Bush’s Baked Beans and a big can of sweet potatoes in light syrup.

Today when I was reading 1 Corinthians 4, a verse that stuck out to me was v20:

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

I didn’t really know what to make of this “but of power“.  The chapter didn’t seem to explain it, or at least I didn’t understand it, so I started to look into it.

Now that verse is in the NIV from 1984. So I checked the new 2010 version and it says the same thing.  I looked it up in a total of 17 different translations and the only one that was significantly different was the New Living Translation (NLT).  it said:

For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.

Now that is quite different and easier to understand but when there are 16 other translations that don’t read like that, I have to give pause to thinking that that is the correct, or best understanding.

In reading about this passage in a number of places, including the biblegateway.com commentaries, I have gathered the idea that “but of power” is talking about how the message of God has changed the person’s life who is speaking.  Paul is writing to people who believe they know everything and do not want to listen to further instruction.  These people are talking like they know everything but their lives are not changed, the power of God is not seen in them.

It might be easy to put on a show for people and lead them to think that things are good, but when in reality, there are struggles and pitfalls.  Paul said earlier in this chapter in v 5:

“He (Jesus) will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”

What we read and learn should be applied to our lives.  If we just superficially cover up problems, they will be revealed.  Paul gives us examples of overcoming troubles. He says that when the Apostles are cursed, they bless.  When they are persecuted, they endure it.  When they are slandered, they answer kindly.

I feel like I am working towards this and I hope you are too.  Then I look at things like Thanksgiving, a day where we are supposed to be thankful for what we have and it has turned into one of the more selfish days of the year.  I am thankful to God and I show it by eating constantly with way too much food left over, watching TV, napping, and even though I am still full from a 1pm dinner, have a sandwich again around 8pm.

What I am taking from this is to see how the power of God has changed my life.  Do I reply to curses with prayers of blessing on that person or do I get angry and gripe about it with people later?

I hope that we are like the final seeds in Jesus’ parable of the sower in Luke 8:15:

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

 

-Zack

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Grace and Peace,

Today we are reading 1 Corinthians 3

Here is a link to it on biblegateway.com

Jack of some trades, master of none.

I know that isn’t quite how the saying goes, but for me that is probably more accurate.  I can do some “skilled” labor things, maybe a lot depending on who you talk with.

I took a class on electrical work during high school and in 2007, after moving to Tallahassee, I worked for an electrician for a little bit.  At one point I cut out clogged piping and soldered good stuff back in.  I have changed out faucets and the inner workings of toilets.  I’ve even nailed some 2×4’s together to make a little shed.

This year I have also tested my green thumb.  We planted competition size pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, lettuce, green peppers, cauliflower, and something else but I can’t remember what it was…  Our harvest consisted of 2 green tomatoes, 1 unripened squash, and 1 little green pepper.

In chapter 3, I see Paul talking about the development of a Christian.  He is telling them how he isn’t the one doing everything.  He has played his part in first teaching about Jesus (he continues to play a part by sending these letters), and someone else is continuing his work.  Paul describes this in 2 ways, one as a garden and one as a builder.

In v6 Paul says “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

Paul did what he could do, and Apollos did what he could do, but only God can give growth.

In v10 Paul says “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.

Again, Paul is stressing that he has only done the first part.  He has started people off in Christ and others are there to help them grow and develop into mature Christians.

It is the job of others to continue to build on what Paul has laid down.

This chapter continues to confront the division in the church.  By people following Paul or Apollos, they are focusing on the wrong thing.  Instead of focusing on Jesus, people are looking to worldly wisdom for answers.

Think about this, who do you quote more through your daily life, Jesus, or the people who write about Jesus?

What I am taking from this chapter is a focus to look pass the person who is teaching and see the message the bible has and what God is wanting to explain to me.

-Zack

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Imprecatory?

Grace and Peace,

Today we are going over 1 Corinthians 2

Here is a link to it on biblegateway.com (link to NIV ©1984)

Have you ever been a part of a conversation and part way through, you start to get lost.  People might start using words bigger and more complex then you know or could say.  Maybe it’s not big but it has different meaning to people around you so they can follow what is happening but you are confused.

This happens to me more than I care to share but normally I can figure out the meaning just from the context of the word.  This usually works out well, but sometime it falls apart… especially if someone then asks, you know what _________ means right?

I was talking with someone a couple months ago and we were talking about the ministry and they brought up Imprecatory Psalms.  Maybe it was the blank look on my face but I didn’t have any context to try to figure this one out.  So when he said “do you know what imprecatory psalms are?” I had to say no.  Turns out, they are the psalms that call down curses on the psalmists enemies.

In 1 Corinthians 2:1, Paul, who is a pretty smart fellow and probably knows some complex speech, says this:

“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.”

Paul is saying that it isn’t through a good speech or well thought out sermon that wins people over to Christ, but instead it is the Divine.

Paul tells us that he only spoke of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  Paul presented to them the Gospel message.

Jesus was the Son of God who came to take away the sins of the world and by believing in Jesus, you are brought into a right relationship with God.

That’s a pretty simple message.

It’s often the simple message that can strike to the heart of someone.

Paul could have spoken about substitutionary atonement though Christ and justification and sanctification and… other fications… but he wanted to make it simple, because it is simple.

This should bring great comfort to us as we strive to make a difference in our world.  We should be studying and learning the Word of God but it is great to know that it is the simple things that can make a difference.

What I am working on in my life with this passage is being more confident in street witnessing on campus.  I always feel like I don’t know everything (because I don’t) and I will get tripped up in my evangelism.  It’s a comfort that Paul, even though he knew a bunch, decided that it was best to only preach that Jesus was the Son of God who died for you and me so we could know God and be with Him for eternity.

-Zack

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Praise Night

Grace and Peace,

Today we are starting to go though 1 Corinthians

Here is a link to 1 Corinthians 1 at biblegateway.com

(As I was reading today, I noticed another “error” in the NIV translation that they have.  Upon looking further into it, it appears not to be an error but instead they are using the new version of the NIV called NIV.  Here is a link to a video talking about the new NIV with more links with text to read.)

I visited a non-denominational church in Indianapolis once and next to this church was a big open grassy area.  It looked like someone had taken the time to make sure it was just the right rich shade of green.  On the other side of this lush yard was another church, a Baptist Church.  As I was talking with Pastor Sean, who had set up a place for me to stay that night, I asked him if his church and the other one ever held joint events on this big open area between the two.

He said no…

He said that there has been efforts in the past to do something, but it doesn’t work out.

In his letter to the Corinthians, one of the first things that Paul instructs them about is unity in the body of Christ.

It’s amazing to me that after what is close to 2,000 years, we are not that different from the churches that Paul set up.  Churches today mostly (only a Sith deal in absolutes) have the same goal.  That goal is to spread the good news of Jesus.  That even while we were sinners, God sent His Son Jesus to die for our transgressions.  That through our belief in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross, we are brought back into relationship with God, with Jesus as our Savior.

Now the trouble isn’t that churches don’t believe that, the trouble is this:

some think the best and only true translation is the King James version,

some think that you should only use wine during communion,

some don’t think women should teach while others may have a female minister,

and the list goes on.  I’m sure you could think of more

I think something great happened on the SUNY Albany campus this November.  Five christian campus groups came together to put on a Praise Night.  Instead of being separated from each other on our own separate nights, we came together for praise and worship of our God.  I think this night gave a glimpse of what heaven will be like.  Christians from different places all over the world together for one purpose, to praise and give glory to God. It was awe inspiring.

But back in Paul’s day, things were different.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:12:

“One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

At this point in time, there was no written bible for people to be reading.  People who heard Paul talk, followed his teachings.  People who heard Apollos talk, followed his teachings.  People who heard Cephas (Peter) talk, followed his teachings.  People who heard Christ talk, followed His teachings.

Now though, we all have access to the written Word of God.

There shouldn’t be division because teachings can be compared back to the bible.  Of course I say there shouldn’t be but there are.  Divisions are tough and they are something I am also working to overcome in my life but with things like the Praise Night, I see more clearly how we are all working towards the same goal.

My hope for me, you and the church as a whole is that same desire of Paul’s in v10

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

What I am taking away from this is that as we move to impact the campus, that we work in conjunction with the other groups to increase the opportunities for students to connect with God in a life changing relationship.

-Zack

Praise Night

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1 Corinthians

On Monday we will start the next series on 1 Corinthians

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Gold

Grace and Peace,

(To those of you who wonder why I open with Grace and Peace, it is because I want to remind you what is yours through Jesus.  It is also how 16 of the 27 books of the New Testament open up, and I like it)

Today we are going thought James Chapter 5

Here is a link to it on biblegateway.com

Earlier this month was my 2 year anniversary of my marriage with my beautiful wife.  On Nov. 1st, 2008, we exchanged rings of gold after saying I do.  We bought these rings a couple months in advance from a jewelery store and had them sized and bought a guarantee that they can be sized, fixed, and cleaned at any time for free.  My ring is just what I wanted it to be, it’s a plain gold wedding band.  Nothing fancy, no engravings, just a gold ring.

One thing I know about gold is that it doesn’t rust.  You can leave it in air and it doesn’t change.  You can put it in water and it doesn’t change, and I looked this up and a website said you could put it in acids and it doesn’t change.

Gold is a pretty stable substance.

When I read James chapter 5, verse 3 stood out to me:

Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.

Here I have this ring which the value of could support a family of 4 somewhere else in the world for over 1 month. And that is just one thing, a simple ring.  When I added up what I paid for everything I wear, it totals about the same for what a family of 4 spends to survive for 6 months.

What I am wearing now, could have been money spent to support a family for 6 months.

That’s a long time.

James tells us that the people who store up, will lose everything.

He says that gold will become corroded.

This precious metal, gold, that under normal circumstances will not corrode, will not break down, will become a thing that stands as a witness against you.  It will “eat your flesh like fire.”

I have seen “security” in the wealth of the world.  I have seen it gone in a matter of seconds.  I spent a year in New Orleans taking peoples security and throwing it to the side of the road waiting for a skid-steer to come by and smash it all down and pile it into a truck.  I have used a sledge hammer to break the legs off of a $135,000 Steinway Grand Piano and that same sledge hammer to remove a microwave from above someone’s stove.   Wealth in this world is fleeting.

We might not be prone to floods, but recently a tornado passed through the area.

So what are you doing with your wealth?

Are you helping people?

Are you storing it up?

I pray that if you are a student, it is your goal that after you graduate, that you use your wealth not to indulge in the world but to change the world

I heard someone talk about a conversation they had with their child who was in college.  He ask what their goal in life was.  The child said to make lots of money. The fathers response:

Anyone can make money, make a difference.

I hope you use your money to make a difference in the lives of the people of this world and change their lives for all eternity.

-Zack

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