Read 1 Corinthians 5
Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 5 is addressing an unrepentant sexual immorality inside the church. Paul says in verses 1 and 2 – “… A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?”
In today’s “you do you” culture this type of behavior is celebrated at the loss of society’s moral compass. It is imperative that we understand Paul’s teaching for what it is. Our unrepentance should be met with proper expulsion from fellowship with other believers, or in other words – from church.
Jesus himself directs us on how to conduct proper church discipline in Matthew chapter 18. Discipline in the context of church exists for the unrepentant heart, but the goal is complete restoration.
Glory to God for the one who repents, turns, and walks in the way of the Lord.
Read Galatians 2
When I was in youth group many years ago, we would sing this repetitive single verse song. I don’t remember all of it, but I remember part. It went like this:
“It’s by grace, I have been saved. Through faith, not of myself. It’s a gift, from Almighty God, it’s by grace I’ve been saved.”
The song had a catchy melody and became a great way for us to receive an understanding of the concept of justification by faith. And the words of the song come straight from Paul’s writing in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Paul’s words are used almost verbatim.
Paul’s declaration of justification by faith is also found in Galatians 2:20. He says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” We see this again in Romans 6, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with.”
Paul encourages us to die with Christ and allow Him to live in and through us. Our old self has passed away, and we have been raised to walk in new life with Christ. He puts an emphasis on our faith in Jesus being the only thing that saves us. This is justification by faith—we are declared righteous in the sight of God only because of Jesus.
Receive this gift today.
Read Acts 13
In Acts chapter 13 we read about the working of the Holy Spirit in the “setting apart” of Saul and Barnabas.
Being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they traveled to preach the word of God. The account in Acts provides insight to their journey including stops along the way and excerpts from the messages they spoke.
Chapter 13 ends with Paul and Barnabas speaking to both Jews and Gentiles explaining the Lord had made the Jews “a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”
We too are called, set apart to share the good news of the Gospel.
Matthew 28:19 tells us to “go” and make disciples and gives us the assurance the Lord is with us along the journey. The same Holy Spirit that called Saul and Barnabas is the same Holy Spirit that works today in our lives, calling us to be lights for all the world.
Read Acts 3
“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.”
“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
I can’t help but wonder what was going through the lame beggar’s mind as he asks them for money and Peter looks straight at him and says, “Look at us.”
Peter’s words express the seriousness of what he was about to say. Peter didn’t have money. He didn’t have silver or gold to give the lame man. But he had something better. He offered healing in the name of Jesus Christ. And in Jesus’ name, Peter healed the beggar and the beggar leapt for joy and praised God.
What Peter gave wasn’t anything monetary, yet it was better. How often do we pass or miss opportunities to give to others because we are conditioned to think that giving can only be monetarily? Though money is great to give, it’s not the greatest thing we have to give to others in need.
If the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we have the opportunities to give the gift of Jesus—in every situation.
Read Luke 17.
When I read through Luke 17, humility is the word that comes to mind.
Humility—being humble is a concept many struggle with. At the root of this struggle is control. We like to be the ones in control.
But our desire to be the one in charge is evidence of pride—the original sin. Pride is the opposite of humility, often what leads to our sin.
Yes, we all sin. But, if we’re walking in humility, realizing God is the one is control, we will sin less. We will see where He’s working and join Him.
In Luke 17, Jesus is talking with the disciples about the danger of sin. He suggests they should “watch themselves” in order to overcome the temptation that comes with sin and not cause others to sin.
On His way to Jerusalem, Jesus continues teaching. Ten lepers call out, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us.” He tells them to go show themselves to the priests and they are healed as they went. Yet only one returned to give thanks to the Lord—the Samaritan. The original audience of this text would have taken note of this as Samaritans were despised. Tension was thick between the Jewish peoples and the Samaritans.
The humility displayed by the Samaritan is noteworthy as he received not only the physical healing, but the spiritual blessings from the Lord.
In Luke 17: 21 Jesus says that the “Kingdom of God is within you.” This means God has placed His kingdom inside of us. This should promote humility not only because it is an attribute of God, but because the all-powerful, all-knowing God is in sinners like us. He knows us, and yet loves us enough to dwell inside of us. That’s forever humbling.
Read Luke 7
Luke chapter 7 is ripe, filled will lessons we can learn from Jesus. We see Him as healer, as someone who brings the dead back to life, and as one who forgives. Though the miracles He performs in Chapter 7 can teach us many things about Jesus, I’d like us to focus on the forgiveness Jesus offers.
There are essentially two reasons forgiveness occurs or should occur in our life. One, when we have wronged, and two, when we have been wronged. Complete forgiveness is often difficult for us to give, and many times, it’s hard to receive. But we see forgiveness in Jesus.
At the end of Luke 7, Jesus asks Simon a question. He says, “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon answers just like we would. The one who was forgiven the most would love more. Right? Jesus confirms that Simon has judged correctly. In this analogy from Jesus, we are the debtors.
We owe a debt we cannot repay. And that debt was so heavy God sent His son, our savior, to pay that debt for us. We have much to be happy about! Jesus has paid our debt in full. Would you reach out in faith today and receive this forgiveness?
Read Revelation 2 & 3
Revelation is a book that we often shy away from. For most, the idea of a movie style apocalypse or something worse, prompts some level of anxiety.
I remember watching televangelists many years ago who spent the majority of their TV ministry preaching about the events that were coming our way. As far as I could tell, I was sure to see the “end times” in my lifetime and it was terrifying.
I’m thankful for growth! This no longer terrifies me. Now, I look through a different lens when reading about end times or the revealing of God’s plan—revelation.
In Revelation chapters 2 and 3, we read of Jesus’ words to seven churches regarding their deeds or works. He’s essentially letting them each know that He knows everything about them and what they have or haven’t done.
Focusing on their deeds here seems a little contradictory to what we read in Ephesians 2: 8-9 which says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast.” Is it contradictory to what Jesus says in Revelation 2 and 3?
Not at all.
Jesus is connecting the beliefs of these churches with their actions or works. Their works are indicators of their belief. If we are a church, or body of believers who claim to believe in Jesus, our desire to be like Him will be put into action. Believing is more than something we say or think, it’s also something we do. Our faith is a verb.
Yes, we are saved by the grace of God, but it doesn’t end there.
Let’s put our faith in action to show the world the one who has saved us.
Read 1 Timothy 4-6
1 Timothy chapters 4-6 allow for the possibility of several different directions for teaching. Including, a warning regarding the teachings of “later times”, direction regarding the care of widows, false teachers and the love of money, but, I want to point out one particular spot in chapter 6 that can help us overcome many of the obstacles we face today.
Paul is writing to Timothy a final charge and says this in chapter 6 verse 11-12 “ But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses”
Paul is advising Timothy as a young man of God to run from all of these things but he goes a step further by suggesting a “how”… How do we flee from all of these things? How do we pursue righteousness godliness, faith, love, etc…? We must “Take Hold” of the eternal life that we are given through Christ. The phrase take hold means to grasp, grip, or seize it. We must hang on tight to the gift that God has given us through Christ in order to stand firm against the arrows from our enemy.
Read Philippians 3 & 4
“I see all the people, wasting all their time. Building up their riches, for a life that’s fine. But Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing You, Lord. Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing You, Lord.”
The song, “Nothing Compares,” was written in 2001 by Third Day. The words seem simple enough at first glance, but proclaim deep, life-changing truths. The impact of the words should prompt us to look at our reflection in the mirror and ask if we can say the same thing. Does nothing compare to the greatness of knowing our Lord? That’s the way it should be…
Philippians 3 and 4 tells us there is no reason for us to have confidence in our flesh. Paul expounds on this idea more when he says, “whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” He goes on to say, “What is more, I consider EVERYTHING a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ…”
Paul is saying that everything that he used to chase, all the earthly things, or treasures, is garbage compared to knowing the Lord. That’s a bold statement.
My hope for us today is that we can look at our lives and say the same—nothing compares to the greatness of knowing you, Lord.
Read Colossians 3 & 4
When I was learning to drive, my dad would remind me to keep my eyes on the road. He was guiding me to stay focused. Dad knew shifting my focus either to the right or left would cause me to veer off the path and endanger my life and potentially the lives of others. Though annoyed by his instructions, they weren’t given because he was trying to be mean. Dad’s intentions were based in his desire to keep me safe because he loves me.
Paul’s teachings in Colossians 3 and 4 parallel my dad’s instructions on staying focused. Even though Paul is providing guidance on how to live the faith life nearly two thousand years ago, it’s still relevant today. We are told to put to death our earthly nature, including sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, etc. Today, these things run rampant. If we are not careful, we can easily veer from the path and be pulled into the things Paul is warning us about.
So how do we combat these things? How do we keep focus, stay on the path, or “keep our eyes on the road”?
The answer is simple. It may not be easy, but it’s simple. Paul tells us to set our minds on things above, not earthly things. In other words, focus on Christ and what He has done.