1 Corinthians

Did Paul Really Tell us Not to Grieve?

pexels-photo-734479.jpeg

In 1 Corinthians 15:55 Paul says “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” and in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 he writes, “so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” Please hear this beloved, it’s so very important. Paul is not saying, do not grieve. The Christian community has taken this passage and twisted it many, many times to do something ridiculously wrong, and imply that we're not supposed to grieve. 

When I was pastoring in Delaware, there was a sweet young woman who was thirty-four years old with four babies. She was in the ICU and was dying, and did die. We held a round the clock vigil for that young lady, and people were there with her praying the whole two weeks she was there. I showed up one day just in time to see one of our dear ladies come out of that ICU with tears streaming down her cheeks, and the next lady ready to go in stuck her finger in that woman’s face and said, “Stop crying! That doesn't manifest victory.” If ever I wanted to slap somebody in Jesus' name! You know what, maybe it didn't manifest victory, but it manifested compassion, which is, in my understanding of the New Testament, what Jesus Christ is all about!

We grieve. Paul said in Romans 12:15 through the spirit, “Weep with those who weep.” Jesus himself wept at the death of Lazarus. And this is so important, it doesn't say He cried a few tears, it says He wept. Weeping is full-fledged, heartfelt crying. That's an important distinction. If Jesus felt the freedom to openly grieve the loss of a loved one, even though it's temporary, we should feel the same freedom. 

What Paul is speaking to us in these verses, is that he wants us to grieve with hope, to grieve with confidence that ours is never a permanent goodbye. I challenge every one of you, because until the Lord returns there will be death in your family and friends, when you're at that graveside, don't say goodbye, say until we meet again. Until we meet again.

----------------------------
Each week, Pastor Frank sends several short, encouraging videos to his circle of friends.
Interested in joining? Signing up is easy:
Get on the list here.

A Heart's That Good

turkey-71885_960_720.jpg

I want to tell you one of my favorite stories.

A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning, while eating breakfast, the young woman noted that their neighbor’s laundry, which was hung out to dry, was not very clean and added that the poor woman must not know how to wash clothes properly. Her husband looked on but remained silent.

Every time her neighbor would hang out her clothes to dry, the young woman would make the same comment that her neighbor’s laundry was not very clean and that the poor woman must not know how to wash clothes properly.

One morning, however, the young woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, “Look at those clean clothes next door! Someone must have taught her how to wash clothes. I wonder who got to her?” The husband responded, “Actually, I got up early this morning and washed our windows.”

Unfortunately, this is all too often a very common experience. We as human beings spend so much time thinking negatively about our neighbor, that we fail to see the negative in our own lives. This is something we should especially avoid when thinking of our Christian brethren.

In the first letter to the Thessalonians Paul, who had to leave Thessalonica because of persecution, wrote to them that he wanted to get back to them but was unable to do so. It would have been very easy for the Thessalonians to listen to the negative voice of the enemy and think that Paul did not value them, or did not have the time for them, or perhaps that he was too busy for them.

Timothy, who had been sent to Thessalonica when Paul could not go there, returned with the news that the Thessalonians ALWAYS had good remembrances of them. They knew that Paul had a new heart and a good heart, (Ezekiel 36:25-26) and so they chose to believe that Paul had the best in mind for them always.

If only we would choose to believe the best about other people. How much needless conflict might we be able to avoid if we chose to believe that the heart of a believer is always good, instead of giving in to negative imaginations? Remember, Paul said in 1 Corinthians that love believes and hopes all things!

----------------------------
Each week, Pastor Frank sends several short, encouraging videos to his circle of friends.
Interested in joining? Signing up is easy:
Get on the list here.

This is No Time for Wimpy Christians

rock.jpg

Christianity is anything but an ethereal float through this world. It is a battle, that we must actively contend in. I am not so sure that we shouldn't call it "conflictianity".

In I Corinthians 16, there is a very concise but powerful call put forth by the Apostle Paul. "Be alert"... The phrase occurs some 22x in the New Testament. It means to be aware (of the danger), to be on guard (taking every thought captive), to watch (for he lurks around every corner.)

We are the light of the world which instantly puts us into a struggle with him who is the prince of the darkness. He travels the world like a ravening and roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He is the tempter, laying snares that can trap us, sowing lies in the hopes of leading us to make choices that will have devastating consequences.

I love the glory of our new identity in Christ, that we no longer sinners, but saints. We must realize though, that ours is a multi-faceted identity. Father's Word also says that we are soldiers and that because we are in an epic battle. Embrace who you are and whose you are, and fight this good fight of faith with the courage that the Lion of Judah places inside us with His presence. This is no time for wimpy Christians.

I raised my kids on a mantra, I share it now with you...

TRUST GOD AND KICK BUTT!

----------------------------
Enjoy this blog post?

If so, you'll probably really like Frank's monthly emails.
Get on the list here.

Remember Where Home Is

God put us in a beautiful playground. By all means, enjoy the playground. But a playground is not a home

God put us in a beautiful playground. By all means, enjoy the playground. But a playground is not a home

Found this AMAZING thought when I was teaching through I Corinthians 7.

What a special passage. Paul there says that our time is short. The word actually means "compressed".

Paul then goes on to what could almost be a tirade:

If you are married, live as if you are not married.
If you are joyful, live as if you are not joyful.
If you are sorrowful, live as if you are not sorrowful.

What?

The point is pretty clear. Whatever we are experiencing on this planet we are only going to experience for a very short time.

Do not let this present experience dominate your life - whether it is good or bad.

I put it this way to the saints at Grace Life:

God put us in a beautiful playground. By all means, enjoy the playground. But a playground is not a home. Every night a little kid, though he plays on the playground goes home.
Home is a place where there is peace, security, love, and acceptance. Home is where kids belong! That is what awaits us and that is what should govern all that we do during this "shortened time".

We are going home.
In the meantime, play hard!

In the meantime, work hard!
In the meantime, love hard
!
In the meantime, recognize and rejoice that your sorrow is going to end soon.
But NEVER, NEVER get too attached to anything here... This is not home!

----------------------------
Enjoy this blog post?

If so, you'll probably really like Frank's monthly emails.
Get on the list here.

Two Kinds Of Knowledge?

This is the knowledge of God that likewise has one purpose --- others.

This is the knowledge of God that likewise has one purpose --- others.

I Corinthians 8 Paul made it clear that there are two kinds of knowledge of God. There is knowledge of God and there is the true knowledge of God.

The difference?

Knowledge of God puffs up, makes one arrogant, divisive and critical. This is a knowledge of God that has only one purpose --- the exaltation of myself.

The true knowledge of God is that which makes one loving. This is the knowledge of God that likewise has one purpose --- others.

Oh, that the true knowledge of God would be known and expressed.  Jesus said it was this that would turn the world upside down --- LOVE.

-----------------
Enjoy this blog post?
If so, you'll probably really like Frank's monthly emails.
Get on the list here.

Never Going To Leave You

Jesus says, if that is what you are going to do, I am going to be right there with you the whole time.

Jesus says, if that is what you are going to do, I am going to be right there with you the whole time.

One of the most common fears I hear voiced is that "this time I have really done it!" The dear one making that statement has made a choice, a really bad choice and entered into such poor behavior that they are sure God is going to abandon them, and deservedly turn His back on them.

In I Corinthians 6, Paul addresses such a poor choice with a response that has scandalized the religious world for centuries.  If ever there was an occasion where God would, dare we say "must" reject His sinning child, it would be this one! BUT HE DOES NOT DO SO!

What did they do? They had sex with a prostitute. Now, finally, we are going to see it said! Right? Surely for this sin, God is going to separate Himself from the sinning one, at the very least for the time that this sin is occurring. Right? Jesus is going to say, "If that is what you are going to do, I will wait for you outside. Right? NO! DEAD WRONG!

Jesus says, if that is what you are going to do, I am going to be right there with you the whole time. When you unite yourself to that prostitute, you are going to be uniting Me to that prostitute.

Oh my friend, Jesus said He is never, NEVER going to leave you or forsake you. NEVER!

A friend of mine says it this way, "When you backslide,
He is going to backslide with you."

When you became His child, nothing can ever separate you from the love of Christ! NOTHING!

Now, grow up in this love, rest in this love, embrace this love, affirm how secure and significant you are in Him. You have not, nor can you ever separate yourself from His love.

And by the way, as you learn of this love, I believe you will find that your pursuits of other counterfeit life and love, will dissipate and you will not be making those poor choices, because they really do not satisfy the desperate need of your soul to find life and love, for you will have found it in Him!

Clay Pots Full Of Greatness!

There are no earthly heroes, my friend, there are only clay pots that the  Hero of all Heroes  expresses Himself through.

There are no earthly heroes, my friend, there are only clay pots that the Hero of all Heroes expresses Himself through.

I Corinthians 1:29 says, "no man should boast before God." Two verses later Paul writes "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord." One says it negatively, the other positively. I think Paul did that purposely so we would hear it. Later, he will write that we have no adequacy in ourselves, but that our adequacy comes from God.

We must guard against the adoration of man. It is true that men are able to say great things and do great things in the kingdom of God, but we must never forget that they are able to do those things because of the "greatness" of the Person that dwells in and through them.

There are no earthly heroes, my friend, there are only clay pots that the Hero of all Heroes expresses Himself through.

Forever Creating...

God is a creator!   That is Who He is.

God is a creator! That is Who He is.

In I Cor 13 we are told that faith, hope, and love endure even when we are in heaven. One might be tempted to ask, why we will need hope in heaven when we will have arrived into the perfect state. The key lies in the definition of hope.

Hope is the confident expectation of MORE TO COME!

The glory of heaven is that there will always be more to embrace and experience because God is infinite and eternal. Please hear me, heaven is not going to be the eternal church service in the sky! That would be boring! We must take care to not see heaven through the eyes of the earthly realm but through the nature and character of God.

God is a creator! That is Who He is.

What would make us think that a created universe could ever exhaust His creative ability? In other words, my personal conviction is that He is going to be eternally creating new and wondrous things. Further, since He created us to share His love with us and express His love through us, and since in His Word He created us to reign with Him in glory, and since He made us in His image, that means we are “little creators.” I believe that He is going to include us in His infinitely creative work for all eternity!

I would liken it to a kaleidoscope. Have you ever looked into a kaleidoscope? When you do, you see this panoramic expression of multi-colored and multi-faceted shapes and you marvel at what you see. But there is more. All it takes is a slight rotation of the kaleidoscope and the shapes and colors change. Every time you turn the kaleidoscope, this phenomenon occurs and you can literally stare for hours and hours and herald "ooh" and "ah" as you observe this glorious creative display. That is what heaven will be like for us as we live in hope, the confident expectation of more, which will be delivered to us by our infinitely Glorious Creator and Father!

WOW!

Love Keeps No Lists

But what happens when we keep lists?  Those lists minister tremendous emotional power to our lives and they are not healthy emotional powers

But what happens when we keep lists? Those lists minister tremendous emotional power to our lives and they are not healthy emotional powers

I Cor. 13:5 - "Love thinks no evil" KJV

The word is "logizomai" = an accounting term

It would be used in the keeping of a perfect record for financial purposes (very necessary for us in terms of the IRS, but very damaging for a walk with God).

Let's be honest, it hurts when someone hurts us. And we don't want to get hurt again because after all, it hurts!

But what happens when we keep lists? Those lists minister tremendous emotional power to our lives and they are not healthy emotional powers! Hurt! Anger! Fear! Which in turn lead to anxiety and bitterness.

These "emotions" trigger us to build walls around ourselves in order to protect us from others. We say things like, "I will never let anyone get close to me again. I will never give my heart away again!"

Case in point:

Proverbs 18
"It is easier to win a fortified city than it is to win a wounded brother."

Put simply, the walls we build work. They keep people out!

Let's put this verse into history. Alexander the Great decided to conquer a greatly walled city named Tyre and it took 10 years to build it. And what did the Proverb say? It is easier to win the city of Tyre, than it is to win a wounded brother.

THE WALLS WE BUILD TO PROTECT OURSELVES WORK! They keep people out.

The verse has a final phrase though:
"and his contentions are like bars"

Did you see it?

When we build our walls to protect ourselves, our walls, our fortresses that we build to keep people out, morphs into a prison. This prison locks us in, and this beautiful creation that God made, CANNOT GET OUT OF THIS PRISON OF HIS OWN MAKING! Why would we want to do that to ourselves? Why would we want to put ourselves in prison?

Love keeps no lists.

If we keep a list and refuse to forgive, not only are we most likely going to fail in loving the one who hurt us, but we will also fail to be loving ourselves.

Our Created Design To Love

"By   this   the world will know that we are His disciples, in that  we love one another. "

"By this the world will know that we are His disciples, in that we love one another."

The word "REPETITION" is to a teacher, what the word "LOCATION" is to a realtor. The real estate mantra is "Location! Location! Location!" The teaching mantra is "Repetition! Repetition! Repetition!"

Well, in I Cor 13:3, Paul repeated three times that without love we are nothing.
HE MADE THIS PERSONAL!

Note, he did not say that what we do is nothing. We can do some pretty incredible things but without love, even though we do great things, we personally remain "nothings..."

Why, that is a hard pill to swallow? Reminds me of old Nicodemus in John 3.... "you mean I must go back to the womb, you mean that everything I did counts for nothing?"

The answer lies in the created design. If we buy a drill but it doesn't drill, it is useless as a drill, EVEN THOUGH we can use it as a screwdriver, a hammer, or as a decoration. The fact remains it is useless according to its design.

Now, we can understand we were designed to be the image bearers of God.

That we were designed to experience and express the love of God.
THAT IS OUR SUPREME PURPOSE for our existence.

But even though we might preach a great sermon, speak in tongues, prophecy, give away all we have, or offer our lives in martyrdom.... if we do those things without loving people, we are failing to fulfill the purpose for which we were created!

At that point, WE ARE NOTHING! WE ARE NOTHING! WE ARE NOTHING!

"By this the world will know that we are His disciples, in that we love one another."

We All Have A Part To Play

So this is cool...

In I Cor 12, it tells us that God gave different gifts to different believers,

all in varying degree and function. Hmmmmm....

There is no one like us that can offer what we offer as an individually gifted believer to the rest of the body of Christ.

There is no one like us that can offer what we offer as an individually gifted believer to the rest of the body of Christ.

God gifted us uniquely as individual believers. There is no one like us that can offer what we offer as an individually gifted believer to the rest of the body of Christ. Therefore, the body of Christ needs me and I need the body of Christ. God established a diversity, that necessitates an interdependence among us, that forces a unity that protects us from uniformity! WOW!

Can I illustrate?

It is like the individual believer is gifted to play a musical instrument. We play like no one else can play. We make beautiful music that no one else can make. Aren't we special? Yes, we are.

But when we assemble together, and each as individuals bring our beautiful instruments, and together we all play our beautiful music together.... it is even more beautiful because it is also POWERFUL! We, the church, when we function like God intended us to function, are like a huge symphony....

That is the word in fact, that Paul used in this passage - sumpheron - that is what we are when we function with others, for others, to the glory of God. And the world hears our beautiful music and for the first time, sees the invisible God through His physical church.

Oh the glory that God intended for His church....  Play your part. Play it beautifully. Play it for others. This is what the Christ Life is all about!