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"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." --- Psalm 119:105

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I CORINTHIANS

True Ministry
I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. (I Corinthians 1:10)

True ministry is always a team effort. No one person CAN do it all. No one person SHOULD  do it all. Paul's gift was preaching, and that's what he did. And he did it well. But others did ministry also. Christian ministry should be a team effort. All preachers and Christian educators and evangelists and priests and prophets and lay Christians are needed to help carry out God's work. Every Christian should have a covenant with God to help spread the gospel of the saving power of Jesus Christ. We must use our own special gifts to do what God has enabled us to do. We should make a contribution and carry out our duties wholeheartedly.

It is not just the pastor who is responsible for true ministry. The pastor of a church is the shepherd. The pastor is responsible for overseeing what goes on in the church, but the pastor is not the only one who is responsible for making sure the Kingdom of God is established here on earth. Here is something to consider . . . Shepherds don't beget sheep. Sheep beget other sheep. Therefore, every Christian must do what must be done to make sure there are sheep for the shepherd to care for. "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest" (Matthew 9:37-38).
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Lucky or Blessed?
Now it is God who makes us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit (1 Corinthians 1:21-22)

We hear the term "Good Luck" quite a bit.   People say, "Good luck" to someone who is about to take a test, go on an interview, go to court, go to the doctor, or when applying for a loan. People say, "Good Luck" on a number of other occasions. The questions might have come to your mind, "Is it all right for Christians to tell each other "Good Luck"?   Is it all right for Christians to invest their hope in chance and luck?

Luck is a non-Christian concept that is defined as "a force that brings good or bad." On the other hand, a blessing is always good. When one has thoroughly prepared for something, luck shouldn't be an issue. Those who trust strongly in luck are looking for a good excuse to avoid preparation. They leave it entirely up to chance. Luck means meeting with unforeseen success and prosperity. Luck suggests being rewarded not by something we have done but by happenstance.

When something is important to us, we shouldn't leave it up to chance. Instead, we should prepare for a sure thing. We should accept God's blessings rather than depending on luck.

We, as Christians, have something better than luck. When we trust God with all our heart, what happens is not by chance but by God's spirit working within us for our own good. We are a blessed people with many unforeseen blessings awaiting us according to God's promises rather than to random chances.   Instead of believing in luck for yourself or wishing others "Good luck," why not whisper a sentence prayer? (Example: "May God be with you.")

Since we are a blessed people of God, what's luck got to do with it? Remember luck is based on chances (good or bad). Blessings are always the good things God has promised! Trust your heart and soul to God and not to random chances.

Are you lucky or blessed?
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No One Can Boast
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:27)

Is there any rational thing about Christianity? You wouldn't think so if you try to reason  things out. You will become totally confused if you try to use your mind to weigh the evidence and see everything from a logical point of view. For example, the paradoxes of Christianity say: to die is to live; humble yourself to be exalted and give in order to receive.

Paul concludes that no amount of reasoning or human knowledge can replace or bypass Christ's work on the cross. God made sure this would not happen to prevent the wise, scholars and the intellectually gifted people from boasting. God's plan of salvation is accessible to the uneducated, ordinary people and children because it is not based on wisdom and knowledge. Therefore, no one can boast of his own intellect.

"Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'" (1 Corinthians 1:31).
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Too Many Possibilities
Your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:5)

Sometimes our prayers aren't answered because we have too many possibilities. Sometimes God waits until we have exhausted all possibilities so our attention will be on Him and Him alone.
 
God's ways are perfect. Often He will hold off answering our prayers until we know with absolute certainty that it is God who is making things happen and not someone else. God holds back until our hope in everything else is dead. God will not act as long as we have a "Plan B" or an "ace in the hole." So trade them in for God and God alone.
 
When you pray and get no immediate answer, it may mean you are depending on too many possibilities. Eliminate the possibilities; depend only on God and get answers to your prayers.

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The Best Is Yet To Come
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

We are overly excited when we get a raise or a promotion on our job. We are thrilled when our new relationship with someone deepens. And we are joyous when we have money in the bank and our kids are not acting up. These things are worth celebrating and being thankful for. But we cannot imagine all God has in store for us both in this life and for all eternity. He will create a new heaven and a new earth and will we spend eternity with Him (Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1).

Knowing the future that awaits us should give us hope and courage to press on in this life enjoying the many blessings we receive; yet looking forward to better things. We can endure hardships because we know the best is yet to come. We have mighty things to anticipate because this world is not all there is. The best is yet to come.
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When the "I am" Meets the "I AM"
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God  (1 Corinthians 2:11)

Deep within the recesses of every person's soul is a special hole which cannot be filled by anything but God. Nothing, absolutely nothing can satisfy the yearning within that soul. The reason cigarettes, alcohol, drugs or immoral living cannot fill that hole is because God created man with that private sanctum where only He can dwell. For lack of a better illustration, that hole is in the shape of God, and ONLY God is a perfect fit. The "I am" was created by the "I AM" with this special feature. Only the "I AM" can dwell in the innermost part of our heart where our spirit can meet the Spirit of God. If God is not allowed there, then the hole remains forever empty, and we are forever unsatisfied. We are forever yearning and craving and having uncontrollable urges. 

In a person's heart are thoughts, conceptions, schemes, designs, purposes, and intentions, but these can never be known by another person, angels or devils. Only God can know all these things; our secrets and our own private hidden mysteries. No matter how well we think we know someone or how much we want others to know us, there is a secret compartment within us that only God has privy to. Just as the tabernacle had a room called the Holy of Holies where only the priests could enter, our temple has a Holy of Holies where only God can enter. The beauty of this is that when God goes behind the veil of our heart, not only do we benefit tremendously, but everyone we are associated with will benefit as well because we become more loving, more giving, and more forgiving.

It is only when we allow God to freely enter our inner sanctum that we can embrace all that God has for us. It is such a powerful experience when the "I am" meets the "I AM."
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The Natural Man (or Woman)
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Paul says the natural man has two problems. First, he cannot accept the things of the Spirit because he considers them foolishness. Secondly and far worse, the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit.

Unbelievers cannot understand God, and they cannot grasp the concept that God's Spirit lives in the believer. Therefore, when Christians sacrifice all to follow Christ, unbelievers think it is foolishness. They simply do not understand. We cannot expect a deaf man to understand fine music or a blind person to appreciate an elegant painting; therefore, we cannot expect a non-believer to accept God's promises.

The natural man's Jesus will not last. A building is easily destroyed if its foundation isn't solid or if it is built with inferior materials. Our Christian lives must be built on Christ, otherwise, we face destruction.

Salvation is not based on our work. Salvation is based on our belief of Jesus' redemptive work on the cross.

The natural man cannot understand any of this because these things are foolish to him.

Spiritual or Soulish?
But the natural [soulish] man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things. (1 Corinthians 2:14-15)

One critical area of a Christian is that he sometimes gets spiritual things mixed up with soulish things. What, then, is the difference between that which is "spiritual" and that which is "soulish"?

Both of these words come from similar Greek words. However, they are not the same. The spiritual deals with the supernatural things of God; whereas soulish deals with the natural things of the world. Soulish concepts are carnal, sensual and of the flesh. What is soulish is the exact opposite of what is spiritual; and the two are in constant conflict.

The spiritual man is at home in the things of God and responds appropriately to them. On the other hand, the soulish man cannot understand the things of God, but by his reaction distorts, debases or dismisses them.

If your thoughts, words and deeds are based on the word of God, then you are operating in the spiritual realm. If your thoughts, words, and deeds are dominated by the things of the world, then you are operating in the soulish realm.

The word of God is the only instrument sharp enough to divide the spirit and the soul. (Hebrews 4:12) Use the word of God to keep the soulish realm separated from the spiritual realm so that you can discern what is true, just, pure, honest, lovely and of a good report. (Philippians 4:8)



 Readiness For A Breakthrough
I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
(1 Corinthians 3:2)

If you want to see a church go wild with enthusiasm, let the pastor mention the word "breakthrough" in his or her sermon. Everybody is looking for a "breakthrough." Everybody wants a "breakthrough." However, everyone is not ready for a breakthrough nor does everybody need a breakthrough all the time. If you have just had a breakthrough one Sunday and the next Sunday the preacher mentions the word "breakthrough" and you are still leaping over pews, something is wrong. What's wrong?

The word "breakthrough" is often misunderstood and should not be a catchall word for resolving all problems. Sometimes when people say they need a breakthrough, what they really need is a better understanding of God and God's way of doing things. A breakthrough is an act of breaking through an obstruction. God is not obstructing Himself from us. God is ever present.

Another thing to consider is that there is perfect timing for a breakthrough. A caterpillar must go through a metamorphosis before it can emerge into a beautiful butterfly. An embryo must go through a nine-month gestation period to become a healthy baby. No mother in her right mind wants her baby delivered after only three or four months. A cake must bake a reasonable amount of time before it is done enough to eat unless you are willing to eat the batter.

It is detrimental for some things to be rushed. A rushed breakthrough is no substitute for the process of a blessing. The next time you hear the word "breakthrough," before leaping to your feet think to yourself, "God is perfecting me for my breakthrough, and I trust Him to make me ready for it and to let me know when I am ready."
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Why Christians Sin
You are still worldly. Are you not acting like mere men? (I Corinthians 3:3)

Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian. Some people are Christians because they have professed Jesus Christ as their Savior. However, they have not made Him the Lord of their lives. They are not committed to reading and obeying God's word. They don't communicate with Him on a daily basis. Therefore, when tempted by sin, they have not exercised enough in the spiritual disciplines to keep from sinning.

According to the above scripture, Paul says many Christians are still worldly and act like mere man. They profess to be Christians but consciously sin, and there is no evident of a change in their lives. They give way to pleasures of the flesh rather than to the spirit of God.

It is true that all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but sin should not be a dominant force in the life of a Christian. Why, then do Christians consciously sin? There is always a battle going on between the flesh and the spirit. Those who are not firmly anchored in God easily give way to the flesh. In other words, the flesh is weak. Also, Christians willingly sin because they have either never known their true identity in Christ or they have forgotten that they are children of God (Romans 8:16). Some Christians sin because they have lost sight of what God has done for them (2 Peter 1:9). Christians choose to sin because they don't believe there will be severe consequences. Finally, some Christians sin because they have lost their focus on the future. They say, "What's the use of doing what is right on earth if I have to wait to get to heaven to be fully compensated?" These Christians who fail to keep eternity in mind tend to sin in the here and now.

These are some of the reasons Christians willingly sin. However, there is a way of escape for our past sins. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

In the meantime Jesus said, "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11).
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The Hats We Wear
So, what is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. (1 Corinthians 3:5)

Hats serve many purposes. A hat not only keeps a person's head warm, but a hat is also a distinctive head covering worn as a symbol of office or position or role. If you are like me, it is not unusual to wear from ten to twelve different hats during the day to indicate the roles we assume.

The average person wears the hat of a spouse, parent, grandparent, child, employee, employer, preacher, parishioner, teacher, student, tenant, landlord, mentor, driver, passenger, client, patient, professional, trainer, counselor, cook, and the list goes on.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing many hats. However, problems do arise when we try to wear too many hats at the same time. We need to know when to change hats. A fireman wouldn't wear his hat to a baseball game, and a baseball player wouldn't wear his hat to church. WRONG EXAMPLE because some do. Let's start again. A construction worker, a taxi driver, and a policeman should wear hats representing their roles only while on the job. We need to know that when we change hats, our roles also change. You might be a teacher, but when you take a class, you are no longer the teacher but the student. You might be a preacher, but when someone else is preaching, you are a parishioner for the time being. You might be the boss of your company, but you are just another passenger on an airplane. Therefore, you must submit to the one who is wearing the pilot's hat.

My fifth grade teacher taught me a way to understand the different meanings of a particular homonym. I have been waiting all these years to use it. So here it is. TWO hats are TOO many TO wear at the same time.

We are in a particular role of authority known by the hat we wear. We must submit to others in authority when our head is bare and someone else is wearing the hat.
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Free From the Opinions of Others
It matters very little to me what you think of me. (1 Corinthians 4:3 TM)

Last night I was told about a rude remark someone made about me. It saddened me for several reasons. #1 I have never done anything to harm this person; I've tried only to help. #2 This person professes to be a mighty man of God. #3 This man's reasoning was distorted and all wrong! Nevertheless, but the Lord...

This morning's devotional was just for me. Here it is in its entirety from The Word for Today, Thursday, June 23, 2005, page 16. I usually write my own messages, but this morning's devotional should be shared. Perhaps it will help others as it has helped me.
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While we  respect the opinions of others, we should never be ruled by them. If you let it, criticism will steal your individuality, rob you of your creativity, and stop you from fulfilling your destiny. That's too much power to give anybody. Insecure people will always criticize you, especially if your choices differ from theirs. That's because they're uncomfortable with things that don't conform to their way of thinking. Secure people can handle being the only one doing something. They can allow others the liberty to be different and to make their own choices. That's because they themselves are secure in who God has called them to be.

Listen: [He] made himself of no reputation (Philippians 2:7). Jesus obviously wasn't too concerned about what others thought of Him. He had a goal...to do the Father's will... no more and no less. And He knew that to do it He had to be free from the opinions of others. So do you! The greatest tragedy that could happen to you would be to grow old and realize that somewhere along the way you lost yourself and never succeeded at being the person God called you to be. And that's a distinct possibility if you allow the opinions of others to rule your life. Paul says, "It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion. I don't even rank myself...The Master makes that judgment." (1 Corinthians 4:3-5 TM) Today ask God to set you free from the opinions of others.
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I will not allow others to steal my individuality, rob me of my creativity, or stop me from fulfilling my destiny. I affirm like Jesus and Paul, "It matters very little to me what others think of me."
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Tried By Fire
If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)

Is your life built on a solid foundation? Is your work for God "wood, hay, or straw" that will burn up in fire?  A building or a Christian is only as solid as its foundation.  The foundation of our lives is Jesus Christ. He is our base. He is our reason for being. Everything we are and everything we do must fit into the pattern provided by His example. 

A building or Christian might look good on the outside, but what about the foundation? A building whose foundation is made with inferior materials will collapse; so will a Christian. If you are merely spinning your wheels and calling it work for the kingdom, allow your works to be tried by fire. If you were to throw your works into a fire, would they survive? Good works will survive the fire; unfaithful or inferior work will be burned in the fire. All possessions will be lost. The builder or Christian will be saved but only as one escaping through flames in a burning building.
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Spiritual Sluggishness
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. (1 Corinthians 4:20)

For a few weeks my car had been noticeably sluggish. When I turned on my air conditioner on extremely hot days, it seemed like my car was barely moving.  In fact, it felt like I was pedalling a bicycle instead of driving a car. That's how bad it was.

I mentioned it to my sister, Mary, who is wise in many areas. Her immediate response was, "You're using that cheap gas!" She was right. I was saving a few pennies per gallon on gas, but my car was slow to respond. As soon as I used up all that "cheap gas" and filled my car with a more reliable brand, I poured a bottle of STP in the gas tank and now my car is good to go. My car has so much power that I feel like I could drive from Richmond, VA to New York in comfort while using my air conditioner.

My car was indeed sluggish. Some of you might know what I mean. There is also a spiritual sluggishness that is just as bad as the sluggishness of my car. Some of you might know what I mean. If your car is sluggish, change what you put in it. If your spirit is sluggish, change what you put in it.

For a sluggish car, change your gas and use STP. For a sluggish spirit, change the way you serve God and use STP.  Study God's word. Talk to God. Praise God. When you do these things, your spirit will not be sluggish at all. You will have power to move ahead much faster.
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How It Is Said
I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. (1 Corinthians 6:2)

People say the same things in different ways. When encouraging someone to do something at the appointed time, the world says, "Strike while the iron is hot." The surfer says, " . . . while the waves are high." The pilot says, " . . . while the sky is clear." The fisherman says, " . . . while the fish are biting." The investor says, " . . . while the stocks are high." The realtor says, " . . . while the interest rates are lower." The bargain hunter says, " . . . while the sales are going on."

The appointed time to make Jesus your Lord and Savior is now. Now is the acceptable time to serve God. Jesus said it best when He said, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work." (John 9:4)

 Accept Jesus Christ now . . . while you can.
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Permissible But Not Profitable
Everything is permissible for me-- but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me-- but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

What does Paul mean when he says, "Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial"? Remember when reading the Bible, you must read it in context. Also, you must understand the audience to whom the original statement was made and the reason the statement was made. It is then and ONLY then can you apply it to your own life.

First of all the CONTEXT: Paul was teaching about sexual immorality when he made that statement. Secondly, Paul was responding to a popular catch-all expression that the Corinthians used to defend their immoral practices. They were saying that because of God's grace, they had the freedom to do whatever they wanted to do. Paul made the above statement to caution the Corinthian Christians not to use God's grace as a loophole to sin.

Is everything permissible? Not in the absolute sense! Everything is permissible when it comes to moral indifference. Everything is permission when it does not really matter to God one way or the other. For instance, eating pork is not a sin, but it is not profitable if it offends someone. In other words, is it HELPFUL in any way?

Secondly, some things might be permissible, but they might be enslaving. Coffee, liquor, alcohol and tobacco are lawful, but they keep the user in bondage. It is permissible and not a sin to have coffee every morning, but to say, "I can't function until I have my first cup of coffee" is enslaving.

Thirdly, a thing might be temporarily beneficial to the believer but not always profitable. It might be profitable for a new convert to attend a new members class at his or her church, but after a while that person is expected to begin putting some of that information to use. The new members class was indeed permissible and profitable once, but eventually it will no longer be profitable for that person to learn the information over and over and never use it.

The next time you quote the scripture or hear someone quote it, remember Paul's points:
  1. Everything is permissible when it helps, but not profitable when it hinders.
  2. Everything is permissible but not profitable when it enslaves.
  3. Everything is permissible but not profitable when it goes unused in the kingdom of God.
  4. ONE POINT IS MISSING.
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You Have to Find Your Own Rhythm
But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. (1 Corinthians 7:17)

A rhythm is a movement or action characterized by a regularly recurring element. It is a defined pattern that is in sync with particular beats. A rhythm is a natural flow at the right time with the right space, repetition and accentuation.

What does the world say in reference to rhythm? The world tells us that we don't have to keep to the same beat or the same pace. The world says, "March to the beat of a different drummer."

What does the Bible say in reference to rhythm? The Bible tells us that we should have the same goal, the same focus and the same drummer. While we are different, metaphorically we should hear the same song and move to the same beat of the same drummer. However, each of us will have to find our own rhythm while still being in sync. Not only are we to be in sync with everyone else, but we should also be in sync with all of creation.

God is the drummer of this world. However, God has given us freewill to find our own rhythm. Then He expects us to walk according to our own calling. Even though God has made each of us different with different rhythms, we can still fit in well with His plan when we find our own rhythm.

If you have not found your own rhythm, don't you think it's time to do so? The music of God's heart is always there. We just have to listen to hear it!

1 Corinthians 6:12 (See John 17:4)
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Personalized Problems
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

No doubt you have heard of personal problems, but have you ever heard of personalized problems? Anything that is personalized is marked or labelled for a particular individual. God has equipped each person to handle personalized problems. That's why everybody's problems are not the same.

You probably have wondered why you have certain problems while your friend or neighbor does the same things you do; yet they don't encounter the problems you do. Siblings have personalized problems even though they grew up in the same house with the same upbringing. Personalized problems are those that fit our personality. They are the ones God allows us to encounter because we have been designed with the necessary tools to handle them. Job's problems were personalized because he could handle them. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus all had personalized problems because God created within them what it took to handle their problems mainly because they became part of the solution. Would you trade any of your problems for any of theirs?

A story is told of a man who complained about his problems. So God wrapped his problems in a box and put the box in a big warehouse filled with other people's problems. The man was told to go to the warehouse and choose any box. He saw big boxes, little boxes, boxes of all shapes and sizes. Unknowingly, he chose his own box; the one with his personalized problems.

We have personalized problems for three basic reasons:
  • To see the glory of God revealed. Ask yourself, "Where is God in my problem?"
  • To ministry to others.  Ask yourself, "How can my mess become my ministry?"
  • To grow as a result of our own problems. Ask yourself, "How are my problems causing me to grow spiritually?"
Remember, God equipped each of us with all that is necessary to handle our own personalized problems.
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All Purpose People
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

We learn from the Bible that the pomegranate is an all-purpose tree. The pomegranate tree is appreciated for its pulpy and tasty fruit. Because of its eye appeal, pomegranates were part of the architectural design of Solomon's temple. Embroidered pomegranates, alternating with golden bells, were on the fringes of the high priests' robes. In other words, the pomegranate was the all-purpose tree.

Like the pomegranate tree, there are also all-purpose people. Now, what in the world are all-purpose people? All-purpose people are people of many facets, people with appealing character and pleasing personalities. They do everything for the glory of God, and whatever they touch, flourishes.

We might not be like the apple tree that grows only apples or the orange tree that grows only oranges, but we can be like the pomegranate tree whose productivity and diversity make us welcome in any setting. We can be all-purpose people serving God with our many talents.

Let's use our many gifts and talents to bring glory to God. After all, that's the reason God made us all-purpose people.
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Between a Rock and a Hard Place
For they drank the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:4).

Have you noticed the various responses people give to your greeting of courtesy: "How are you?" We use familiar expressions such as "up to par," "up a creek" "over the hill," "over a barrel," "under the weather," or "between a rock and a hard place" to indicate how we feel or what we think about ourselves at that particular time.

What is the origin of these expressions and what do they mean?

"Up to par" is a golf phrase that means standard or normal. When we are "up to par" we are at the norm.

"Up the creek (without a paddle)" means we are stranded with a problem and we don't know what to do about it. We are stuck without any means of movement.

When people reach 40, they say they are "over the hill." News Flash: Since the life expectancy is 72, after 36 you are headed downhill.

"Over a barrel" indicates a helpless situation. When people are downing, they are rescued and placed over a barrel in an attempt to be revived. Picture the scene. Quite helpless, don't you think? We won't talk about the expression "my turn in the barrel."

"Under the weather" is a British sailor expression. When a sailor became ill, he was put below the deck away from the weather.

"Between a rock and a hard place" is an expression people use when they are facing extreme difficulty. The key to their problem lies in the position they take. Instead of being between a rock and a hard place, you should switch places with Jesus and let Him come between you and the hard place. Get out of the way. Let Jesus be your Rock that can handle all your hard places.
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Our Math Is Wrong
  . . . or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Have you ever heard or even said yourself, "I gave 150%"? Have you ever heard someone say, "In this marriage I give my 50% and my partner gives 50%"? If that is the case with you, your math Is wrong.

God never expects us to give more than 100% of anything. If you are trying to give more than the whole, you have not left room for God to work. If you are giving less than 100%, you are leaving too much for God to do, and you are not doing enough yourself. There should be a balance; not 80-20, 75-25, or 50-50.

For any marriage to work, each partner must give 100% to it. There is no such thing as a 50-50 proposition in a marriage. The same principle exists with a business partnership, a friendship, or any other relationship.

Our math is wrong because 100% plus 100% does not equal 200%. Instead, 100% plus 100% still equals 100%. And 50% plus 50% does not equal 100%. Instead, 50% plus 50% means you have done only half of what is required.

Let's get our math straight. And let us give 100% of whatever we do in Jesus' name.
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How to Make Godly Decisions
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:31)

All of us make hundreds of decisions every day. How do we know which is the right or wrong decision? What criteria do we use to make a decision? Most decisions that we make have no right or wrong attached to them such as what to wear, what to eat for lunch or which route to take to work. Sometimes, however, we face decisions that carry a little more weight. These decisions affect not only ourselves but our families and friends as well.

So how do you know when a "good" idea is also a "God" idea? First Corinthians 9:19-10:33 gives guidelines for making godly decisions in those sensitive areas of your life. When you have to make a major decision, ask the following questions:
  1. Does it help my witness for Christ? (1 Corinthians 9:19-22)
  2. Am I motivated by a desire to help others to know Christ? (1 Corinthians 9:23-10:33)
  3. Is this decision a fly-by-night decision, or will it last? (1 Corinthians 9:25)
  4. Is it against a specific command in Scripture and would cause me to sin? (1 Corinthians 10:12)
  5. Will I be comfortable sharing my decision with godly people? (I Corinthians 10:14)
  6. Is it the best and most beneficial course of action? (I Corinthians 10:23, 33)
  7. Am I thinking only of myself, or do I truly care about others? (I Corinthians 10:24)
  8. Am I acting lovingly or selfishly? (I Corinthians 10:28-31)
  9. Will my decision glorify God? (I Corinthians 10:31)
  10. Will my decision cause someone else to sin? (I Corinthians 10:32)
If you give honest answers to the above questions, godly decisions will be easy to make. Keep in mind that every decision YOU make affects OTHERS. Let all your decisions glorify God, edify others and satisfy you. [Read 1 Corinthians, Chapters 9 and 10 in their entirety for the complete picture of how to make godly decisions].
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The Last Supper or the Lord's Supper?
"This is my body, which is for you, do this in remembrance of me." In the same manner he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

Is there a difference between the Last Supper and the Lord's Supper? Sure there is! The final meal Jesus had with His disciples in the upper room before His crucifixion is known as the Last Supper. That's the scene that artists paint depicting Jesus sitting at a table with His disciples as they ate bread and drank wine during their Passover meal. 

The term Lord's Supper is used only once in the Bible (1 Corinthians 11:20). It was spoken by Paul, not Jesus. However, during the Last Supper, Jesus did institute the Lord's Supper which has become the ritualistic practice, usually during a worship service, where Christians partake of two elements: bread symbolizing Jesus' broken body and wine or grape juice symbolizing His shed blood for the remission of our sins.

Among Christians, the Lord's Supper is also known as Holy Communion. When we eat the bread and drink the wine or grape juice in our local assemblies, we share with all believers everywhere. That's why is called "Communion" because it is a "common union." We will observe this ordinance until Jesus returns. After then, we will need no substitutes or symbols. We will reign with Jesus forever while still remembering the great sacrifice He made for us through His broken body and shed blood.

To summarize, the LAST Supper was the final meal Jesus shared with his disciples on the night of His arrest when He instituted the LORD'S Supper that we observe in remembrance of Him until He returns.
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Never Let Familiarity Breed Contempt
What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt. (1 Corinthians 11:26 MSG).

It is interesting that we say, "Do not let familiarity breed contempt" however, it is found only in the Message Bible that seems to appear as an afterthought in reference to the partaking of the Lord's Supper. What does it mean to say, "Do not let familiarity breed contempt"? Familiarity has the same root word as "family." We are never to become so acquainted with something that we take it for granted or lose respect for it.

When you have lived in a place a long time, you take it for granted. Tourists come from miles away to enjoy what you don't know is in your own backyard. That's because you have let familiarity breed contempt. You drive to work the same way everyday; yet you cannot give directions because you have become so familiar with the route that you no longer look at the landmarks. You are friendly to people when you first meet them. However, as soon as you become familiar with them, you begin to take them for granted. Familiarity is likely to breed contempt when the excitement of anything has worn off. Then we begin to take people and things for granted.

Yesterday I enrolled a new student in a one-on-one course at The Way of Life Spiritual Development Center. I prayed before our session, and she prayed at the end. What she said inspired the writing of this message. She prayed, "Never let me become so familiar with my instructor that I will take her for granted and lose respect for her."  We all should pray that prayer in reference to our families, pastors, employers, employees, co-workers, friends, and all people and things that concern us.

Pray what my new student prayed in the words of Paul according to the Message Bible: "Never let familiarity breed contempt."
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T.E.A.M. Means "Together Everyone Achieves More"
Each of us is a part of the one body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves and some are free. But the Holy Spirit has fitted us all together into one body. We have been baptized into Christ's body by the one Spirit, and have all been given that same Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:13)

Teamwork is a vital part of life in the body of Christ. God's work involves many different individuals with a variety of gifts and abilities. There are no superstars in this work, only team members performing their own special roles. Everyone is equal because God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). He sees all His children the same no matter which tasks they are performing for Him. There are no lone rangers. No one can do the work of God alone. It takes team efforts.

Teamwork in the body of Christ requires everyone's contribution. God has given His church an enormous responsibility. We have been commanded to work together for the upbuilding of God's kingdom here on earth. We are all members of one body having the same goal. Therefore, we should do the task(s) we have been ordained to do. Together we can serve God more fully than any of us could do alone. It is normal for us to think that we cannot do much. That what we do doesn't matter. But, it does! It matters. And it matters to God the little or the much that we do.

We can achieve more together than we would possibly dream of while working alone. Working together, the church can express the fullness of Christ in a shorter period of time.  Let's accomplish more by working together to share the gospel which is the saving power of Jesus Christ. Let's work together to spread God's word to those who are lost. T.E.A.M. means "Together Everyone Achieves More."
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Love is Patient!

Love is patient. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Being patient means long suffering or suffering long.  Being patient means waiting as long as it takes.  In the above scripture, the word "patient" means being patient with "people" and not with "circumstances."  Patience is not the sign of weakness but the sign of strength.  It is not a sign of defeat but a sign of victory.

Since love is patient it can endure evil, injury and provocation without being filled with resentment, indignation, or revenge.  Love transforms the mind from angry to persevering patience that makes us capable of waiting for what God wants for our lives instead of yielding to that first temptation.  Because love is patient we can wait upon the Lord and have our strength renewed day by day. We can mount up with wings as eagles and not be tired, we can run and not we weary, we can walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
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Love is Not Rude
Love is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

The kind of love we should experience is that type of love that is extended outward toward others, not inward toward ourselves. Our love for others should be unselfish. We should love without expecting something in return. Love does not behave rudely.  If a person is truly acting in love, that person will be courteous and considerate of others. 

How can you say you love someone when you treat that person badly most of the time? If you have a hard time loving without seeking something in return, love the way Jesus loved.

The more we become like Christ, the more love we will show to others.
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Themes of Life
For knowledge, like prophecy, like tongues, will pass away, whereas, love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Just as God created four seasons with different characteristics for each, He has created certain periods of our lives with different themes. If you would evaluate your life at intervals, you will no doubt be able to identify your theme at that particular time.  I can tell what my themes of life are by reading past journals and noting the repetition of certain words, phrases, or feelings. Whatever dominants the writing is my theme. Also, whenever I buy a book, I write the date inside the front cover. Looking back over my life, I can chart my spiritual growth by the books I have read during that time.

What has been dominating your thoughts recently? What have you been contemplating? While listening to others, what key words have captured your attention? What concepts are you embracing right now? If you gave the same answer to all the above questions, then that is your theme.

Themes change as you grow spiritually. Themes recur as God wants to elevate you higher through that particular theme. My theme at this particular time is LOVE! During the last three weeks, the theme of love has permeated my entire existence through songs, sermons, my own prayers and the prayers of others. I have felt a special kind of love toward others and an unusual urgency to love God more. I have paid attention. And my conclusion is this: God is elevating me through love because "God is love. Whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him. And we know we can rely on the love God has for us" (1 John 4:16).

What is your theme of life at this particular time?
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The Greatest is Love!
(Entire Message Directly From The Living Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; 10-13).

Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone, you will be loyal to that person no matter what the cost. You will always believe in that person, always expect the best of that person, and always stand your ground in defending that person.

All the special gifts and powers from God will someday come to an end, but love goes on forever.  Someday special knowledge and spiritual gifts will disappear.  But when we have been made perfect and complete, then the need for these inadequate special gifts will come to an end and disappear.

There are three things that will remain: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love. 
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Take Off Your Training Wheels
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (I Corinthians 13:11)

Recently in Bible Study we discussed the above scripture. We concluded that it is all right to say childish words when one is a child, but there is a problem when we grow up and continue to say childish words. One such word we talked about was "ta-ta" for "thank-you." Something is wrong if an adult tells you "ta-ta" when he really should say "thank you." How would you feel if you had worked long and hard on an executive project and the CEO of your company simply told you "Ta-Ta" in a board meeting?

Recently, my daughter Terri told me that five-year old AJ is no longer using training wheels on his bike. To her and to me, that was a big deal. However, if she had reported that her husband Aaron had just taken off his training wheels, that too was have been a big deal with the opposite effect. In other words, as a child one can and should use training wheels, but the evidence of progress, the evidence of growth, the evidence of development is to take off the training wheels.

Have you taken off your training wheels? Are you still relying on training wheels to get you through life spiritually? Are you relying on others to tell you what the Bible says when by now you should know most of it yourself? Take off your training wheels and do like the Bereans. (Acts 17:11) Search the scriptures for yourself.

You will want to say "ta-ta" to me for telling you this, but a simply "thank you" will do.

[Disclaimer: Before you e-mail me that ta-ta is misspelled, know that I have never seen it written; so I sounded it out for the spelling. I guess it is like wa-wa for water and ba-ba for bottle. After all, I have put away those childish words].
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No More Simon Says
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put away childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11)

Most of us remember the childhood game where one player called himself Simon who gave commands to individuals. For instance, Simon said, "Take two steps forward." The individual had to say, "May I?" and was then given permission to do so. If the individual forgot to say, "May I?" he or she was not granted permission to move forward.

We live our lives still playing "Simon Says." God has spoken ALL He will speak through his word. However, we seek permission and approval from others concerning what God has already told us to do.

God says, "Love one another." (John 15:17) We ask people, "May I?"  "May I love you without you hurting me?" We depend on others to grant us permission to move forward.

God says, "Forgive your enemies." (Matthew 18:21) We ask our enemies, "May I?" Can I trust you enough to forgive you.

God says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (Matthew 7:12) We ask the world, "May I?" "What if I do good unto you and you do bad unto me?"

"Simon Says" was appropriate as children. Now that we are older, we shall put away the childhood game and move forward by doing what God says instead of doing what Simon says. When God sent Jesus to the cross, Jesus did not ask Simon, "May I?
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Now and Then
For NOW we see through a glass darkly; but THEN face to face: NOW I know in part; but THEN shall I know as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

No matter how much we think we can see clearly, we can only see dimly and indistinctly. It is as if we  look through a dark glass or a blurry mirror. No matter how much we think we know, it is only partial at present. It is only when we meet Jesus face to face that we will be able to look back on our lives and see what really was.

We should always be reminded that as long as we are on earth, we can only get a glimpse of the glory of God. We can see only part of the picture NOW, but the part we see should give us enough hope to make us look forward to the complete picture. Having all the knowledge in the world cannot prepare us to know what God is really like until we are in His presence.

What we see NOW is not all of it. What we know NOW is not all of it. But when we see God face to face, we will see all there is to see. When we see God face to face, we will know all there is to know. Therefore, we have a lot to look forward to. The best is yet to come!

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Needs and Wants
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

This weekend I visited my daughter, Terri, who was going through AJ's school papers. AJ is a five-year old kindergartner. And you know how many papers kindergartners bring home from school because everything is visual during this particular phase of education. As Terri was going through the "keep this" and "throw this away" mode, Grandma Margaret got in on the act. "Oh, this is so cute. Let me keep this," I began to say when Terri was tempted to throw away several of the papers. After all, I still have some of her papers when she was in kindergarten. She is now is a 33 year-old CPA.

My most treasured paper from AJ is a sheet that contains 9 squares. Inside each square is a picture and underneath each picture are the words NEED and WANT. AJ was to look at the picture and circle the correct answer. Was it a need or was it a want? The first picture was food. AJ was right. That was a need. The next picture was a popsicle. AJ decided it was a want. The next picture was a cake. AJ was right. Even though it was a food, it was a want rather than a need. The next picture was water. That was a need. The next picture was a coat. That was a need. The next picture was roses. It is nice to get roses sometimes, but AJ was right. That was a want. The next picture was a guitar. That was a want. The next picture was a house (not a large house, but shelter nonetheless). That was a need. The last picture was the most impressive. It a mother kissing her baby with a little heart above the two.  AJ circled need. Was AJ correct? Absolutely! Love is a need!

Even at five years old, AJ realizes that love is a need and not just a want. All of us need love. Jesus' last commandment was for us to love one another.  This week's theme for Advent is love. Let us have so much love in our heart that there isn't room for anything else.

And a child shall lead us to recognize that there are needs and there are wants. "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)
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And The Greatest of These Is Love
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

If you ask a hundred people, "What is love?" you will get a hundred different answers. While most of the answers will be centered on the emotion of love, some of the answers also will be centered on the action of love.
 
The Bible records the word "love" over 500 times. God gave us commands to love. Jesus taught us to love. Paul challenged us to love. Poets express love by their words. Musicians express love by their lyrics. Painters express love by their art. Dancers express love by their motions. All of us should express love by an action of some kind.

You might have faith. Fantastic! You might have hope. Hallelujah! You might have love. Lovely! All three surely make us who we are; however, of these three, the greatest is LOVE!

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The Greatest Love of All
There are three things that remain: FAITH, HOPE and LOVE; and the greatest of these is LOVE. --1 Corinthians 13:13

If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them, and could speak in every language in all of heaven and earth, but didn't love others, I would only be making noise. If I had the gift of prophecy and knew all about what is going to happen in the future, knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would it do?  

There are three things that remain: FAITH, HOPE and LOVE; and the greatest of these is LOVE.
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Real Peace
For God is not the author of confusion but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:33)

Peace is more than the absence of conflict.  Peace is confident assurance in any situation. It suggests completeness, health, justice, prosperity, and protection.  The world cannot provide this peace.  Real peace comes from faith in God because God alone embodies all the characteristics of peace.  In order to find real peace, you must first find it with God.  You can do this by resting in God's sovereignty, by trusting the promises of God, by being obedient to God, and by being totally dependent on God.

May you be surrounded by the peace of God today and always!
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The Two Adams
Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:47 NLT)
Did you know that Jesus is referred to as the "Second Adam"? Why is Jesus referred to as the "Second Adam"? And why did the first Adam come as a man and Jesus, the second Adam, come as a baby?

Adam was the first man who was formed from the dust of the ground. Therefore, Adam represents the worldly or earthly side of us (Genesis 2:7; 3:19). Jesus, on the other hand, came from heaven and He represents the heavenly or spiritual side of us (John 3:13, 31). Through the sin of Adam, death came upon the entire human race (Romans 5:12–14; Ephesians 2:12). However, Christ, the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45–47), overcame where the first Adam failed, and by His sacrifice made our redemption from the results of Adam’s sin possible (Hebrews 5:9; 9:28).

Even though both Adams came supernaturally from God, the question is asked, "Why was Adam created as a grown man and Jesus, the second Adam born as a baby?" The first Adam couldn't come as a baby because he was the first human. There was no woman to give birth to him.

Jesus came as a baby to be like us. While His Father is God, His mother was the Virgin Mary. Here we have a heavenly Father and a human mother. As a result, Jesus was both fully divine and fully human. He came as a baby to identify with us. He is the firstfruit of all that we are. He came as a baby to grow as we grow without missing any stages of development. Jesus came to experience what we experience. He knows what we are going through because He has been there Himself. That's why we can ask, "What would Jesus do?" He knows about temptations to sin because He was tempted. However, unlike the first Adam, Jesus the second Adam never sinned.

Jesus experienced suffering and pain to make our suffering and pain easier to bear. Jesus died a painful death to make death easier for us. He took the sting out of death and victory out of the grave (1 Corinthians 15:55).
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Understanding Death
Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)

The Bible teaches that we are more than physical beings. We are spiritual beings as well. Therefore, when someone dies, he dies physically. Yes, it is the end of life as we know it, but it is more than that. It is the transition from one dimension to another.

When a person dies in Christ, his body ceases to function, but his spirit and soul live on in conscious joyful bliss with God. His body in the grave decays and returns to dust. When Jesus returns, the body will rise and be raptured with those in Christ who are still living at that time.

When you understand death, you will know that death has no victory and death has no sting.
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Victory Over Death
Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Satan SEEMED to have been victorious in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) and at the cross of Jesus.  However, God turned Satan's apparent victory into defeat when Jesus Christ rose from the dead (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14, 15).  Therefore, death is no longer a source of dread or fear.  Christ overcame it, and one day we will also. 

Death has been defeated, and we have hope beyond the grave.
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The Storm is Almost Over
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

We are either in a storm, going into a storm, or coming out of a storm. This message today is for people who are in a storm. Know that the storm is almost over, and there is something you can do while you wait for the sun to peep through the clouds.

Storms in our lives are necessary to prepare us for greater works. No one enjoys going through a storm, but it is preparing you for your breakthrough. When God wanted to purge the earth of sin, what did He do? He sent a flood. When He wants to purge us of some unpleasant thing in our lives, what does He do. He sends the rain as a cleansing agent to rid us of pride, arrogance, selfishness, jealousy, idolatry and any other sin that may be blocking our blessings.

Storms come and storms go. But what do you while you are in a storm? Here's help from the sanctuary . . . Don't let go of your HOPE. HOPE is the only thing that will keep you from drowning. Hold on to your HOPE. So go on and put the H back in Hope. Hope will restore your health, healing, and your happiness. Go on and put the O back in hOpe. It is the only thing that will help you get over those difficult days and out of your storm. Go on and put the P back in hoPe. Continue to pray, praise and have patience. And remember God's promises. Go on and put the E back in hopE. Everything will be all right in the morning. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

It is so easy to be hopeless when we are going through storms. The one who drowns is the one who gives up all hope. The one who survives and goes on to do exploits for the Lord is the one who continues to have hope when there seems to be no way out. Believe with each passing moment that the storm is almost over. Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord in spite of your storms.
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When You Don't See Results
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

How do you feel when you know you have been serving God but you don't see results for your labor? Can you continue to teach a Youth Sunday School Class when you see no behavioral change? In fact, you see worse behavior. What about preachers who preach two and three times 52 Sundays a year, but the congregation still doesn't seem to bear fruit?

Don't despair! Nothing we do for the Kingdom of God is wasted. Sometimes we hesitate to do good because we don't see instant results. We must maintain a heavenly perspective even though we don't often see the results of our efforts. Let's not get discouraged over the apparent lack of results. We might never know the results while on this earth, but be confident that our work will have eternal results. We will be surprised when we get to heaven and see how many lives we impacted while on earth.
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From Victim to Victory
But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 15:57)

"Victim."  "Victory." What do these two words have in common? They have the same prefix "vic." And that's no accident. In order to experience true victory, you must first have been a victim to some degree. A victim is one who is harmed, tricked, swindled, or injured in some way by accident or intent. A victory is the successful struggle against an opponent or obstacle. It is the triumph over such a struggle. Victory is the final and complete defeat of an enemy or obstacle. Victory is the result of having overcome something.

When you are victimized, don't despair. Gain strength from knowing you cannot become victorious without first having been a victim. When you are victimized, remember that you are on your way to becoming victorious. Then you can sing along with the rest of us: "Victory is Mine! . . . Victory TODAY is mine!"
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Brief Lesson About "Holy Hugs"
Greet one another with a holy kiss. (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14)

You might be surprised to discover that there is no such thing in the Bible as a "holy hug." Paul does mention at the end of many of his letters to "greet one another with a holy kiss." That was the custom of Paul's day; not ours. During Paul's time, the holy kiss was an expression of both a greeting and a farewell. It expressed devotion, honor and respect. It still is in many countries today. But this kiss was not something God commanded the apostles or us to do. It was merely a custom.
 
Amazingly, the "holy hug" has made its way into our churches. Some churches designate a certain time in their worship service for people to go around and hug one another. The "holy hug" is called just that to separate it from the ordinary, common hug. Calling it "holy"  distinguishes it from an unchaste and lascivious one and from a hypocritical and deceitful one. It should have a special, godly significance.

Remember, a "holy hug" must come from a "holy person." A "holy hug" must proceed from a heart that is full of holy love. Persons who use the church to give a hug or kiss for reasons other than to express genuine Christian love and devotion need to evaluate their motives. In our culture today, the handshake is our common expression of greeting and farewell. However, there is nothing wrong with the "holy hug" as long as it is void of sensuality. Both men and women should be mindful of their motives when they give or accept a hug in or out of the church.
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What to Do With Last Sunday's Tithes and Offerings
Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. (1 Corinthians 16:1)

There is much controversy concerning tithing and giving to the church. The controversy will not be settled in this limited space. So if you don't already embrace tithing as a way to support Christian ministries, this message will not convince you. But for those of you who do tithe, this will help you settle in your spirits what you are to do with your tithes and offerings when you miss going to church.

Most churches in our area were closed last Sunday because of the icy roads. Church name upon church name scrolled at the bottom of the screen on all the major television stations indicating they were closed. The question now becomes: "What do I do with last Sunday's tithes and offerings that I had set aside to give"? They should be given when you return to church, in addition to the current week's tithes and offerings. The work of the kingdom still goes on even when we miss a church service. There will be no rebate on the utilities because we were not there last Sunday. There will be no mortgage adjustment because we were not there last Sunday.

For those of us who have purposed in our hearts to be stewardship givers, we will have no problem giving double next Sunday. However, those who never tithed and gave offering in the first place, this is certainly a hard word.

The worst thing you could do is to go shopping or squander the money you did not give to your local assembly last week. So, let's continue to support the ministry of our church and experience the joy of giving.
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