12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.
— 1 Cor. 12:12 NLT
According to the latest polls and surveys, the percentage of people attending church on a regular basis is still declining year after year. “So, what has that got to do with me?”, you ask. Well, let’s continue Paul’s comparison of the body of Christ to the human body. Let’s say that in the church you attend, the thumbs don’t show up when they should. Let’s further say that we have a lot of things that need to be picked up and moved to a different spot in the building. Not having thumbs makes this job a lot more difficult, if not impossible. Let’s say that we plan a Wednesday night visitation program, but the feet don’t show up, going door to door is still possible but much more difficult. The head of the church wants to do an outreach program but the arms don’t show up. How can we reach out without our arms? The head of the church wants to start an elderly care program but the heart is missing. Because the heart is missing, no one cares enough to help each other or anyone else. A human body can’t survive without a heart beat and neither can the body of Christ. Are we willing to take the chance that we are not each a part of the heart?
9 But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” — Jude 1:9a NLT
When satan comes around to tempt us or to harass us in any way, we must be very careful of the words we use in resisting his efforts. We have the authority to “resist the devil” James 4:7 NKJV but only the Lord can rebuke the devil Zechariah 3:1,2 NKJV . If we say to satan that we:rebuke: him, he knows we don’t have that authority, so it doesn’t bother him. Just ask the sons of Sceva Acts19:16 =NKJV . So, how do we resist without rebuking? We do what Paul told us to do in Ephesians 6, we put on the whole armor of God and we take up the only weapon that can defeat satan “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”. That is what Jesus did when He was tempted by satan in the wilderness. Is there a better example to follow than Jesus our Savior and Lord? We know there isn’t.
12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.
— 1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT
No matter whether we are new Christians or have served God most of our lives, we still have faults and weaknesses. Not one of us has a corner on the depths of the meaning of the Holy Scriptures. We need to always have a teachable spirit and attitude. When pride leads us to the point that we think we can’t be tempted, watch out, we are about to fall. When we think “oh, I would never get to that point”, be very careful that you are so proud of your discernment. The evil one knows our weaknesses and exploits them with amazing dexterity and cleverness. The sly old fox is always lurking around us waiting for that moment of weakness when he can shoot an arrow through the chink in our Spiritual armor. One of his favorite tactics is compromise. A little of this, just this time, won’t hurt and anyway, who’s going to know? The devil is very adept at showing us beautiful things that turn out to be nothing but illusions. “It’s just a little lie, it’s just a little sin” is a big lie that he wants us to believe.
Be very careful, it is “the little foxes that spoil the vines” – Song of Solomon 2:15
10 And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. — 1 Cor. 10:10 NLT
As Christians, we don’t live lifestyles of continual sinning but since none of us are perfect, we still sin. We commit sins of omission when we fail to move or speak when the Holy Spirit tells us to go or to speak to someone about Jesus. We commit sins of omission when we don’t help those around us when we have the resources available to help them. We also commit sins of commission when we fear, worry or grumble. If God had written more than ten commandments, the next three might well have been “thou shalt not fear”, “thou shalt not worry” and “thou shalt not grumble”. While they are not official commandments, when we read verses that contain words such as “have I not told you”or “God said” or “Jesus said” that should make them official enough for us to obey them. The grumbling that the Israelites did that caused God to destroy them was their continual complaining about God’s provisions for them and the leaders He had chosen for them. Well, yeah, we say, but worrying, fearing and grumbling are just natural things. While that is true, therein lies the issue that God has with us when we do it. He has given us access to the resurrection power that enables us to live above the natural. When we refuse to access that power and live the abundant life, are we not refusing the gift God gave us at the cross?
19 I have not spoken in secret,
In a dark place of the earth;
I did not say to the seed of Jacob,
‘Seek Me in vain’;
I, the Lord, speak righteousness,
I declare things that are right. — Psalm 45:19 NKJV
Have you ever had one of those conversations or listened to a speech or a sermon and felt like something was missing? You know, the ones where we trust the person speaking and believe that what he/she said is the truth but it still felt like we were missing something. Sometimes the things that are not said can be as important and truthful as the things that are said. In this verse when we put it in context we see that God is reassuring the Jews that if they seek Him, it will not be in vain. He is using the negative to confirm that the times they found Him was when they sought Him with all of their hearts. Before and after this, He used the positive. Over and over, we are told of the blessings of seeking God with all of our hearts both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. We can be assured that if we seek Him diligently, believing that we will find Him, there are blessings and rewards for doing so.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him,for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. —
Hebrews 11:9 NKJV
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
— Phil. 2:5 NLT
What was the attitude of Jesus while he was here clothed in human form? He came first as a servant, giving up all of His glory. He came to earth just as an ambassador to a foreign country. He had access to all of the power and the angels of heaven yet He limited Himself to live as a mere human. He never used His powers to advance Himself as humans see advancement. The instances we read about of Jesus using His powers are actions that advanced the Kingdom of God here on earth. He could have called on legions of angels to protect Him at any time yet He chose to suffer and die for our sins. He ate with sinners. He showed mercy to the poor and to the needy. He could have allowed Himself to be crowned king by His followers. Instead, He chose to live a life serving others. He was a giver and He gave up everything to die on a cross for our sins. He gave His lifetime and His life for us. How much of our time are we willing to give up for Him? We are all familiar with the saying “time is money”, perhaps we should consider tithing our time as well as our money.
5 I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word. — Psalm 130:5
Psalm 130 NLT
Our hope as Christians is that when we leave this world we will be with Jesus for eternity. This hope is not only built on the Word of God, it is guaranteed by the death and resurrection of His gift to us, His Son. We receive assurances that this hope is true in our own life experiences. As a child, my Mom told me “Son, you are going to have problems in life because you don’t take other people’s word for things, you have to experience them all yourself”. That prophecy came true, much to her regret in a lot of cases. And looking back on my life much to my regret in a lot of cases. But looking back also gives me confidence that my hope is built on Jesus and His Word because of the many times He has rescued me and brought me safe this far.
12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” — 1 Samuel 7:12
My life is strewn with Ebenezer stones and the remembrance of those times assures me that God’s word is true and that He is faithful all the time. What a great hope we have because our salvation is based on His word and His faithfulness.
12 It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. — 1 Cor. 5:12
A few generations ago, when someone in the church membership was known to be living a lifestyle of sin and that fact was affirmed by two or three witnesses, that person was first warned and counseled by the leaders of the church. If he/she refused to change their ways, they were brought before the congregation for disciplining. When they were found guilty and refused to repent, they were asked to leave the church. It is not only scriptural for us to do that but it is our responsibility to do it. First, we must make sure that there is no yeast in ourselves and then we can judge those of the household of faith. It is not our responsibility or business to judge non-Christians, that is God’s business and He will take care of it in His own time. A church body with sin in it is a weak body and it will not attract unbelievers to Christ. In fact, outsiders will turn away from that body because of the hypocrisy. We, as church bodies, don’t do this much anymore. I believe that is one of the biggest reasons for the decline in church memberships and that fewer people attend church. Let us be sure that we are not living a lifestyle of sin ourselves and then make sure that any yeast or leaven is removed from the church body. No one wants to be around a body that is going through the process of putrefaction. We need to clean it up and shine for our Lord and Savior, that light will attract others to Christ.
73 You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands.
— PSALM 119:73
This verse is a prayer that I need to pray every day. When I find myself getting irritated, I need to pray this verse so that I do not hurt others with unkind words. When I find myself judging others, I need to pray this verse. When I find myself criticizing, I need to pray this verse. When I see someone in need and I don’t take the time to help them, I need to pray this verse. When I feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit to speak to someone about Jesus and I refuse to do it, I need to pray this verse. When I spend money for things that I don’t need, I need to pray this verse. When God says “no’ or “wait” and I run ahead of Him, I need to pray this verse. Most of all, I need to pray this verse when I think that Jesus has done something or allowed something to happen in my life that is not for my benefit. Because that thought violates the highest command to “love the Lord your God with all of your heart”. You get the idea, I need to pray this verse a lot. Hopefully, the rest of you are better at allowing the Holy Spirit to control your thoughts and words than I am, if not, then just join in and pray this with me, “Now give me the sense to follow your commands”.
7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.
— 1 Cor. 3:7 NLT
Paul compares our salvation to a seed that is planted. When a seed is planted in dry ground, it must be watered regularly and continually. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, He plants a seed of His love in our heart. For that love to grow, it needs to be watered by the washing of the Word on a regular basis. The soil needs to be exposed to the sun so it will be warm enough for the seed to germinate. The seed that is planted in us must be exposed to the Son for it to germinate. If we spend time in the Word, God the Holy Spirit will cause that love to grow. Our hearts will become more tender toward God and our fellow human beings. How fast this change takes place depends on how much time we spend taking in the food and the water of the Word. If God is the one who makes the seed sprout and grow, then doesn’t it make sense that the seed has to be exposed to God on a regular basis. We do that by spending time alone with God. While the names of the people that we allow to plant and water the seed are not important, their words and messages are very important. Be sure the seed is good (only the name of Jesus) and that the water does not contain impurities that will hurt the young plant.