Oct 23

Be There

Most of us have that one friend, who no matter what is going on in their life, they are there for us. They encourage us when we are down. They calm us down when we are on the edge. The give us a kick in the pants when we mope. That friend is truly valuable. While we all want and need that friend, let me ask this question, are you that friend to someone? The apostle Paul knew what it was like to suffer. Ever since he gave his life to Christ, suffering was a part of his life. Yet, we read over and over how he had joy despite his circumstances. Maybe you are wondering, how that is possible, especially given what is going on in your life? Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 7:5-6, “For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.”

I love Paul’s openness and the raw emotion he is conveying here. Let’s be honest, life is hard. Not to play the victim, but if you are a child of God and living like it, life in this fallen world is even more difficult. Somedays it is easier to want to throw your hands up. You feel beat down, discouraged, and doubt whether or not you can take another step. But then your Titus comes along. They sit down with you, they listen to you, if need be they cry with you, or whatever else is necessary. But the point it, they are there. Paul was facing persecution and trials left and right. They were leading to fears and an internal struggle. Let me just pause here for a moment and say this, we are almost always our own worst enemy! Don’t miss what Paul is saying. He is saying that physically, mentally, and emotionally he was exhausted. Can you or have you ever been able to identify with this? I know I can. When that happens, what is our first instinct? Our first instinct is to pull away, to protect ourselves. After all, it feels like it is us versus the world. This is exactly the lie that Satan wants us to believe. Satan wants to isolate us, intimidate us, and separate us from biblical community. We play right into it, because our first instinct is to protect ourselves. But don’t miss this, when we pull away, we don’t allow God to send our Titus. When we resist our Titus, we are resisting God. God is showing us grace when he sends someone to be there with us and for us. When we pull away and isolate ourselves, we are actually running away from what God is giving us as a means to remind us of His love for us and His presence with us. Paul says it is God who comforts the downcast. How does God do it? Paul said that God did it by sending Titus to Paul.

Life is hard! Life can feel lonely at times. When we feel like Paul is feeling in the text, we need a Titus. Titus is proof of God’s love, presence, and His grace towards His children. But please don’t miss this part, we need to remember that sometimes other people are feeling like Paul is feeling here, and God wants to use us as a Titus for them. It doesn’t mean that you have all the answers. It doesn’t mean you have to fix everything. In fact, we need to admit that we ourselves are weak, and unable to fix things for others. By admitting this, it allows us to point people to the One who can truly help them, Jesus. The goal of being a Titus for someone is just being there. Allowing God to work through you, by simply being present with them. So, be humble enough to admit when you feeling like Paul is feeling in the text. Don’t act like you have it all together. But also, ask the Lord how you can be a Titus for someone or some people around you.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Oct 22

Be Different

One of the most basic human emotions is the desire to fit in somewhere. We want someone to value us, to think we are special. This really hits its peak in the teenage years. It is what leads many teens to become chameleons. They want to change themselves until they find the acceptance they are looking for. It is also part of the reason that some teens give in to peer pressure concerning sex, drugs, or drinking. I wish I could say that it ends when we are no longer teenagers, but we all know that isn’t the case. Inside of us is a desire to put our best foot forward, and to carefully craft an image for ourselves with people. Among the many problems with this type of thinking is this, God created you unique. If you are a child of God, you are called to be different, to stand out. Paul shows us this in 2 Corinthians 6:16-17, “And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate’ says the Lord. ‘Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.'”

The apostle Paul mashes up several Old Testament quotes in these two verses. He does it to show that God’s expectation of Israel in the Old Testament, is the same expectation that God has for His church in the New Testament. God’s people are called and commanded to be separate, to be different from the world around us. The more we try to fit in, the less we look like God, and the weaker our message becomes to the world. There are two extremes that Christians tend to fall into. The first is what some would consider a “Bible-thumper.” You probably have met one before. They go around and use the Bible as a club to beat people over the head with. This has never won anyone to Christ. The second extreme is the one who wants to fit in with the world in order to win the world. Again, no one has ever come to faith in Jesus after being around someone who acts just like they do. Many times, when people see a Christian talking and living like them, it is a turn off. One thing that saddens me is how many non-believers know more about how Christians should live and behave than Christians themselves. We are called and commanded to pursue a life of holiness. That means we are to pursue Jesus. He is the epitome of holiness. Romans 8:29 tells us that God has predestined His children to become like Jesus. Therefore, this is a work that God does in us and through us. However, in order for the Spirit to do His work, we must yield our will to Him. We must voluntarily surrender to the Holy Spirit so that He can work in our heart to change our life. Therefore, the question I want to ask here is this, are you surrendering to the Holy Spirit so He can work in your heart and change your life? How can I pray for you? How can I help you pursue holiness? If we want to see God move in our families, churches, communities, country, and the world; it is going to take the people of God living like the Son of God for the glory of God. Will we?

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Oct 21

Don’t Lose Heart

Have you ever felt like you just can’t go on at times in life? I think that we all go through seasons of struggle in which we wonder, what is the purpose of all of this? In some ways, it is similar to what a marathon runner goes through. There comes a point in the race in which they are physically and mentally tired. They hit that proverbial wall. In that moment, they have a decision to make, will I push through or will I quit? They have trained their body in the weeks and months leading up to the event. Therefore, it is not a question of whether or not they can physically complete the marathon. It is a question of mental toughness and resolve. As many pastors have said, the Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. There always comes that time or those times in which we must remind ourselves of who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He has promised to do for His children. The apostle Paul understood the mental strain that comes at times of being a disciple of Jesus. He suffered more than anyone other than Jesus. Yet, we see him not only run his race, but complete it well. How could he do that? 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Paul was able to get up day after day, and be faithful because as he said, he was renewed day by day. How can you and I do this?

  1. Focus on Jesus. Paul ends 2 Corinthians 4 by talking about the hope that was in him. His hope was not in what he could see, but rather what he saw by faith. He knew that Jesus was with him, and that everything he experienced in life had a bigger purpose than he could understand in that moment. This is why the writer of Hebrews encourages us to “look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
  2. Take it day by day. I have always laughed at the sports world for one thing. One the official injury reports, they have a category that is listed as “day-to-day.” That cracks me up, because we are all day to day. Notice what Paul says, “the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Paul wasn’t focusing on and living for the end of the week, or next month, or next year. He was taking each day as it came. This has to be our mentality. Jesus said in Matthew 6 that we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will take care of itself and we have enough to deal with today. So often we focus on what might happen tomorrow. There are two issues with this. First, most of the time the things that we worry might happen, never end up happening. Second, we don’t even know if we are going to have a tomorrow. Focus on what is right in front of you.
  3. Trust that God will renew you. Paul said that his body was wearing out. Yet, inside he was full of energy and strength. How is this possible? It is possible because Paul was relying on the Holy Spirit each day. Every day, God renewed His strength in Paul and every day God gave Paul sufficient grace for what he would face that day. If you wake up tomorrow morning, you can trust that God will give you sufficient grace and strength for the day.
  4. Know the end so you can enjoy the journey. Paul knew that one day his life was going to come to an end. He felt like that day was getting closer. However, he knew that he had trusted in Jesus to save him; therefore, Paul didn’t have to worry about when the end would come. Yes, Paul’s body was beaten and worn out. Yet, inside he was young, energetic, and vibrant because he knew that one day he would lay down his body, and his soul would go to Jesus. Every day brought him that much closer to his faith becoming sight. This is how he could continue on through the trials of life.

What is your hope? How do you cope with the difficulties and stresses of life? You can try it in your own strength, and you will eventually realize just how weak you are. Or you can trust in the Lord with all your heart, depend on Him, and receive grace and strength that is sufficient for each day. You might be feeling like all the pain and suffering doesn’t have a purpose, but it does. You may feel like you aren’t making a difference, but God through you is making a difference. Don’t give up, don’t slow down, and don’t lose heart. Just a little bit further, and you will see the One who loved you enough to die in your place. Where He is, you will be also. Let that encourage you and put a little pep in your step today.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Oct 20

Comforted To Comfort

One theme that has bee noticeable throughout this year-long series is how we go through things, not just for ourselves, but also for others. This theme is going to be evident again today in Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “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 tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” There are a few lessons that I believe we can see and apply here.

The first lesson is that God is the source of our comfort. Paul is writing about his persecutions for the Gospel. I have argued many times that 2 Corinthians is Paul’s most personal letter. Paul says in the opening chapter that things were so bad, he actually thought he was going to die during these times. Yet, we also see Paul writing in a very hopeful tone. Even though he is suffering, he is still joyful. He knows it is God who is in control of all things, including whether he lives or dies. Paul knew he was going to be ok. Only knowing that your life is hidden in Christ can give you this kind of encouragement in the face of adversity. Paul didn’t look to his circumstances for hope; he looked to God. Whatever Paul needed, he knew it would come from God and be supplied by God. The other lesson here is that God doesn’t waste our experiences. There is always a bigger purpose behind them. This wasn’t just about Paul, this was about the Corinthians, and probably many others Christians in other regions. Paul knew that to live a Christian life meant persecution would come. Therefore, he was trying to not only comfort the Corinthians, but also prepare them. Paul had been comforted so that he could comfort others who were suffering. The same is true for you and I. Whatever we are going through in life, it is about us, but it isn’t just about us. God has a bigger plan behind it. This is where trusting that God is sovereign helps. When we know that God is in control, it allows us to relax a little more, because we can trust Him. We may not know what God is up to, or why something is happening, but we know Him. We know that He is good, loving, gracious, and merciful. Therefore, we can trust the character of God when we don’t see the hand of God.

As you go through the rest of this week, I want to challenge you to see the bigger picture. How can God use what you are going through, either good or bad, to point others to Him? How is God comforting you today? How can you use that to comfort others? In God’s plan, He never wastes our pain. Therefore, let’s not waste the lessons He is trying to teach us.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Oct 19

Make Sure They Know

Have you ever heard the saying, “birds of a feather flock together”? Sorry to a special church member, as I know she has heard it many times 🙂 That saying is reminding us that we are the company that we keep. Or, we become like the company we keep. The apostle Paul gets at this in 1 Corinthians 15:33 when he writes, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.'” The apostle Paul is writing in 1 Corinthians 15 to try and correct some faulty theology. Some in Corinth didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. Paul uses this chapter to show that Christianity rises and falls on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then we have no hope in this life or the life to come. As soon as he tries to correct this wrong thinking, he then gives a scathing rebuke to the Corinthian believers in the next verse. 1 Corinthians 15:34 says, “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.”

I believe this is a very timely message for the church in America today. Paul is saying that the church in Corinth has been spending so much time in prideful division, that they have neglected their calling from God. Instead of sharing the message of the Gospel, and teaching proper theology, they were busy jockeying for position of power and influence. Put a little more bluntly, the Corinthian believers were fussing and fighting while the people of the city around them died and went to hell. Can the same be said for the church in America today? Sadly, I believe in many ways it can be. The nation knows the church’s politics, they know what we are against, but do they know what we are for? Do they know the life-saving, life-transforming message of the Gospel? Are they hearing it from us, or are we spending all of our time consumed with building our own little kingdoms, that we are neglecting the true kingdom work? Here is a sobering thought, we could “win” the election, but still never affect someone’s eternity. The church needs to be involved in the governing of the land, but it must be secondary to the work of the true King, and His kingdom. The hope of people isn’t a donkey or an elephant, it is the “lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

I want to appeal to my brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s not become so focused on earthly affairs, that we forget why God has left the church on earth. We must love God and love others so much that we are known as Gospel sharing people. Our love for God and others must be evident to those around us, if we want to earn the right to speak into their lives with the truth of the Gospel. We live in a skeptical society, partly of our own making. But I still believe in the power of God to save sinners. I believe in it, because Jesus has done it for me, and many others I know. We can’t save anyone, but we can share with them who can save them, and how He will save them. We just have to love God and love others enough to open our mouths and share the truth. Will we commit ourselves to this? For the lost’s sake, I sure hope so.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Oct 16

A Better Way

Have you ever noticed that most infomercials these days make the same claim, “a new and improved” whatever. Or it is something that will revolutionize a common chore or task. For all the inventions, especially those designed to save us time, I have to wonder just how effective they truly are. But that is another post for another time. Today, I want us to see that there is a better way of living our life. It is something that I would argue is largely missing from the public square. The apostle Paul has spent the first 12 chapters trying to correct problems within the church. Every one of the church’s problems stemmed from their own pridefulness. Then, Paul ends 1 Corinthians 12 this way, “But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31).

What was Paul’s better way? That verse launches us into 1 Corinthians 13, better known as the “love chapter.” Paul says that without love he has nothing of value to say, there is nothing of value he can do, and he himself will have no value if he isn’t motivated by love. Then in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Paul describes what genuine love looks like. It can be summed up in one person, Jesus Christ. I would encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 today, and then ask yourself this question, does my life and my communication with others show those traits? It’s easy for us to talk about the political discourse, mainstream media, and various radical groups, and blame them for all the problems in our nation. However, we all play a part in it by how we discuss things amongst ourselves either personally or through social media. While there are some great aspects to social media, especially when it comes to getting the Gospel and the teachings of the Bible out; we must also admit that there is a very dark side to social media. Besides the obvious that people have lost the ability to spell properly due to text code, we are rapidly losing the ability to have genuine civil discourse. Social media has allowed the very worst, most prideful parts of us as humans to come out. We can sit behind a screen, unseen, and unaccountable and type out whatever we want. This frees us from feeling anything for those who are reading our words. It causes us to not see the genuine hurt that we cause with our careless words. If we want to see things calm down, and our nation come off the brink of meltdown, we are going to have to get out from behind our computers and get into our communities and start talking with one another. We are going to have to start believing the best about one another instead of the worst. We are going to have to repent of our pride, and ask God for His grace so that we will live in humility. When I love God the way I am supposed to, then there is no room for pridefulness in my life, because I will see Him for who He is while also seeing myself as I truly am. This will allow humility to rise in my life, and an attitude of gratitude for what He has done for me and what He is doing in me. This is what the world desperately needs right now.

On these lines, I want to appeal specifically to my brothers and sisters in Christ. I know we are in the final home stretch of yet another heated election season. I know we as a nation have many problems that need to be addressed. I know that we know the only true hope for our nation is the Lord Jesus Christ. However, I also know that we, at times myself included, are not going about this the right way. We are not being loving. Therefore, I want to appeal to us all to show the world this more excellent way. Let’s sacrifice our pride on the altar, and be clothed with humility. Instead of trying to win every argument, let’s try to influence every person towards Jesus. Instead of having to get the last word, let’s be the first to hear. After all, God did give us two ears and one mouth for a reason. Let’s respond with genuine compassion instead of coarse remarks, especially with those that we disagree with. We will never win them over to our side by vilifying them. This world needs Jesus, and it is the church’s responsibility to show and share Him with them. So, let’s spend how much ever time we have left in this life doing that, and know that God will be pleased.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Oct 15

You Can’t Have It Both Ways

For many years, Burger King has had the slogan, “Have it your way.” If there has ever been a better description of how most of society thinks and believes, I haven’t found it. We live in a day and age in which the only absolute according to most people is there are no absolutes. We live in a time in which you the only way you are wrong is if you proclaim there is only one way to be saved. Here is the most troubling part, much of this attitude has invaded the church as well. This isn’t anything new. In fact, it is something that Paul addressed with the Corinthian church. 1 Corinthians 10:21 says, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.” Paul is saying that Burger King is wrong, you can’t have it your way.

One thing that the church needs to do is to stand up for the Word of God. This doesn’t mean that we have to defend God. God doesn’t need us to defend Him, nor do we have to try and explain everything that God’s Word says to those who question it. As a Christian, our responsibility is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourself. We are to teach and stand on the Word of God. A lot of times, Christians feel like they need to apologize for what the Bible says. Are we forgetting what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”? The Holy Spirit is the teacher of the Word of God, and unless He is living inside of us, the message of the cross will be offensive. We don’t have to defend God, and we don’t have to defend what the Bible teaches. God will do both of those things. However, it is our responsibility to live out the teachings of the Bible. After all, Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). I have used this quote many times, but it has always been one that stuck with me. It is found at the beginning of a song done by a Christian group that no longer exists. The quote is this, “The greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, but deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” This is in part what Paul is getting at in our text in 1 Corinthians 10. We can’t profess our love for Jesus one day while living like the world the next. Our whole life was purchased by Jesus’ blood on that cross, and nothing less than our whole commitment to Him will do. Are there some areas in your life that you are compromising in right now? If so, acknowledge them. Don’t pretend that they don’t exist. But cry out in confession, and in repentance ask the Lord for help with fleeing those temptations so that you can live for Him. He has given you the Holy Spirit to help with this. You just have to ask, and then surrender to His will. Let’s no longer live like we can have it our way, instead let’s strive to live the Lord’s way for the Lord’s glory.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Oct 14

Same Message, Different Methods

The world has changed, and the world is changing. The one constant in life seems to be change. For those of us who are planners and organizers, that can sometimes be frustrating. However, there are things that have remained constant in never changing. God, His Word, and the Gospel have never changed and they never will. However, how we get the Bible and the Gospel out have changed. This isn’t new, even the apostle Paul speaks of it in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”

Paul talked about other ways that he had adapted in the previous verses. His point was that his methods of sharing the Gospel changed depending on where he was, but the message itself never changed. This is something that I think we can all identify with. Speaking solely from my experience, about seven months ago, I had to learn a whole lot of new things if I was going to be intentional about getting the Gospel message out. When the order came to shut things down at the end of March, our church, like many other churches, were forced to adapt. We could have fussed and moaned about it, and missed opportunities to share the Gospel, or we could adapt. I’m very thankful that our leadership and our church embraced some adaptations. It has allowed us to continue to get the timeless message of the Gospel out. While I can’t share every story here, I can tell you that in these last seven months, God has continued to show His faithfulness. We are connecting with people that we otherwise would never have connected with. We are seeing people not only hear the Gospel, but embrace it in their life, and surrender to the Lord Jesus. Has it taken more work to be able to do all the things that we have done? Absolutely it has. Is it worth it? You betcha! When I get to read and share with people about all that God is doing through this, it reminds me that God has always had a plan, and He is always working His plan out. None of this took God by surprise. How can you be a part of getting the timeless Gospel out in a changing culture?

  1. Share Bible verses. One of the best ways you can influence people is by utilizing the platform you already have, social media. It doesn’t matter if you have thousands of followers or just a few. You can share Bible verses each day, and as you do, ask God to allow those who need to hear the message to come across it. One of the simplest ways to do this is to download the Bible app by YouVersion. It is free! They have a verse of the day each day. You can go and link your social media accounts to it, and then share the verse of the day each day.
  2. Share your pastor’s sermon or devotionals. One thing that we as pastors have done a lot more of is write and record. We try to put it up on the church’s social media page, but you can allow God’s word to have an even greater impact by sharing it on your timeline as well. It’s not to boost the ego of your pastor. After all, if he has an ego by how far the message God gives him is going, he shouldn’t be in the pulpit until he repents of his pride. It’s not about us, it is about Jesus. You never know when God will use something written by you or your pastor to really speak to someone, and open their heart up to the Gospel.
  3. Be faithful in church attendance. I know this probably seems a weird one, but the Bible does command us to gather together in Hebrews 10:24-25. Be intentional about showing up, participating in worship, and invite friends to join you. Sometimes you won’t be able to go, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still attend. Most churches are utilizing Facebook Live or YouTube or some other streaming platform. If you can’t be there physically, be there digitally. Again, invite your friends to watch with you, whether you are going to be there or you are watching online yourself. There is one gentleman who gets to be “at” church with his mom every week now, even though they live three hours apart. She is there in the building, and he is watching online every week. Then, they talk about it. This is a simple way to open up the door for conversations with people.
  4. Share what God lays on your heart. The Holy Spirit doesn’t just speak to your pastor, He speaks to you if you are His child. He does so every time you open the Bible. Does something strike you or speak to you? Then share it on social media, with co-workers, family, friends, or whoever. The blessing of God speaking to you isn’t meant to stay with you. It is for you, and for others as well.

The way we do church has changed, and it is likely to change again at some point. However, the message and mission of the church hasn’t. We are to make disciples of all nations. How can God use you to reach others for His glory? Pray about it, then be obedient, and watch what God does. Times, seasons, and circumstances will change, but God never will and neither will the Gospel. Let’s focus on that, and spreading that message.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Oct 13

Just Because You Can…

I’m sure you can finish this sentence, just because you can……doesn’t mean that you should. That statement is applicable in a lot of situations in life. Have you ever considered why that statement is so applicable? I would say the greatest reason it is applicable is because we as humans lack self-control. We clearly see that in toddlers and children, but unfortunately, as adults we don’t always out grow it ourselves. This is on display in the church in Corinth. This is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

Through Christ, we are not under the Law. He is the fulfillment of the Law (Mt. 5:17). However, we must be very careful not to use our freedom to do whatever we want. Christ didn’t die so that we could live however we want to live. He died so that we could have life, and that we would live for Him. Some of the Corinthians had money, and so they could afford to do whatever they wanted. As you will read later in the book of 1 Corinthians, they were using their money, not to help their fellow brothers and sisters, but for their own gain. It was all about making their life easier. It was creating a “us vs. them” mentality in the church, and that is never a good thing. We must also understand, that when we start to do something, it may initially bring us happiness, but if we aren’t careful it can become a habit that is destructive. Is it ok to eat a Krispy Kreme doughnut, or whatever brand you like? Absolutely it is. However, it is not good to eat a half dozen or a dozen in the course of a day or two. Lay’s potato chips created the slogan exploiting our lack of self-control. Their slogan, “Bet you can’t eat just one.” Paul knew our lack of self-control, which is why he says that he would not “be brought under the power of any.” Not only can we have self-control issues, but if we aren’t careful we can use our freedom in Christ to put a stumbling block in front of our brothers and sisters. Is it biblically permissible to eat a bacon cheeseburger? Yes it is, because God has given all food to us to enjoy as a gift from Him. However, if you were to invite a brother or sister in Christ over to your house, and you knew they were a vegetarian, would you make bacon cheeseburgers for that meal? Of course not! Why? Because you don’t want to offend your brother or sister in Christ. You recognize that each of you have a relationship with Jesus, and that is more important than eating what you want. It is a way to show others-centeredness. How can we live this verse out?

The place that we must start is with prayer. We must pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help us grow in self-control. We pray, because self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). We need to recognize our own weaknesses. The other way that we apply 1 Corinthians 6:12 is to focus on loving God and loving others. Paul writes in other places that we are to hold our brothers and sisters in higher regards than we hold ourselves. We are to think of them more than we think of ourselves (see Phil. 2:2-4). Another way to think of self-control is dying to our self, which Jesus said is necessary if we are going to be one of His disciples (Luke 9:23). Praying for and using self-control and being others focused are practical ways that we can live the Gospel out in front of a watching world.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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Oct 12

It’s All A Gift

Have you ever been given something, got to use it so long that you thought it was yours only to have someone remind you that it was given to you? I think we are all prone to forget after a while where some things we have came from. It’s like some pastors with quotes. We have used them so often that we actually think we came up with them. The reality is that none of us own anything. Our clothes, jobs, money, family, and even our own life doesn’t belong to us. They are all gifts given to us from a loving, generous God. As a pastor has said, “We do not become stewards, we are stewards, either good ones or bad ones.” In 1 Corinthians 4, the apostle Paul is continuing to deal with the problem of division in the church. Therefore, he reminds them of the truth that everything we are and everything we have comes from God. He writes in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

Paul is trying to drive home the point that it is God who created them, and gave them gifts to serve Him. It is God who made each of them different, and gifted them differently. Being different and having different gifts should have helped them have greater unity in the church. However, because of their pridefulness, and their desire to be the most important in the church, their diversity divided them. Therefore, Paul keeps circling back to this understanding that God is the One who created each of them, and gifted them. None of what they have is become of themselves, it is all a gift from Him.

When you and I remember that God is the true owner of everything, including our lives, it can free us up in many ways. First, remembering that everything I have is from God should cause me to praise God for His grace and the gifts He gives me. Second, it should cause me to celebrate God’s work, not only in me but also in other brothers and sisters. As a family, we are not trying to compete with one another. Instead, we should be cheering on one another and cooperating with one another to use what God has given us for His glory, and the good of the church. Next, we should allow our diversity to strengthen us and help us maintain the unity given to us by Jesus. When I see each person in the church as a co-image bearer in Christ, and as a gifted servant of God; it will change how I view them. Now instead of having to be the best at everything, I can focus on where God has gifted me, while cheering you on to use the gift(s) that God has given you. I can learn to see how each piece fits in the puzzle to form a complete, beautiful picture of God’s church. Finally, remembering that God is the giver of gifts allows me to have a right view of myself. I am convinced that the root of every sin is pride. After all, it is the sin that caused Satan to fall from heaven. Pride is what Satan tempted Adam and Eve with in the Garden, and pride how been the downfall of man ever since. However, when I realize that I do not possess all the gifts necessary to strengthen and build the church, I begin to see my dependency on God and others. I don’t have to be all things in the church. Instead of trying to make my weak skills a little stronger, I can pray that God will supply someone who is strong in areas that I am weak. Then, we empower each other to use our gifts for the glory of God and the good of the church. When I see myself as a piece of the puzzle, and not the puzzle itself, it allows me to value those around me. When we see value in each other, affirm each other’s gifts, and empower people to use their gifts; it gives a powerful witness to the community around us. It shows the power of the Gospel, because it become apparent that even though we are different in many ways, God is powerful enough to unite us in Him. I would argue that a divided world needs to see a united church. How can you help your church maintain its unity, and bear a Gospel witness to the watching world?

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

Posted in Through The Bible in 2020 | Leave a comment