Reblog from jsjdevotions – God isn’t limited by thermodynamics!
I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. [John 5:24 (NLT)] Death is the consequence of sin—of living in a fallen world—but Jesus promised that […]
Praise the Lord! Let all that I am praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.
Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.
When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them.
But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.
He keeps every promise forever.
He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry.
The Lord frees the prisoners.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down.
The Lord loves the godly.
The Lord protects the foreigners among us.
He cares for the orphans and widows,
but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.
The Lord will reign forever.
He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations.
Praise the Lord!
You are worthy to be praised!
Help us not to have overly high expectations of others, for we are all sons and daughters of Adam, vulnerable and broken beings whose plans will perish in a short space of time. Let us, instead, rely wholly on You, Lord, for You hold true to Your promises and Your Word is eternal.
You, alone, breathed into us the breath of life and You, the Creator of all things, supply us with all our needs.
Lord, You are worthy of our praise, our worship, our gratitude and our love!
Paul has just been explaining to the members of the church at Corinth how the body of Christ is made up of many parts – that each of them has a spiritual gift that complements the assembly as a whole – how they all work together just like the parts of a human body. However, there is one thing that is above all the spiritual gifts put together. He says, “But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.” 1 Corinthians 12: 31 New Living Translation
1 Corinthians Chapter 13
Paul speaking at Corinth
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Thank You for the great outpouring of love that You have for us. May we be so overwhelmed by it that we feel the need to share it with others. We want to glorify You by making Your love known and we can’t do that until we can express it within the body of Your Church. Lord help us, we beg You, that Your remaining children will see Your love shining out from us and be drawn into the body of Your church until it is complete.
Until that time comes, Lord help us to show understanding and patience to each other. Help us to encourage each other so that we may always keep our eyes and hearts focussed on you and the Great Commission that you gave us.
Chances are that you have heard or made the statement, “I used to go to church, but the church is full of hypocrites.” You may have experienced that the church preaches on love, but is not very loving. The pastor preaches on forgiveness, but is not very forgiving. The Bible talks about kindness, but its professed followers are not very kind. The Scriptures speak of humility, but the church seems to be full of boasters. A Christian may have made a snide comment to you regarding what they considered to be your sinful actions — aren’t they supposed to be longsuffering? A Christian may have been guilty of drunken adultery — isn’t this a sin? You may have read of a famous preacher who has been convicted of child pornography. You may have heard stories about the Bible-thumper down the street who beat his wife.
Based upon your experience with church-goers, you may think God sanctions hypocrisy. If so, you will be surprised to find that God despises hypocrisy. He doesn’t like it, when people claiming to speak on his behalf, lead people away from Him. Take, for example, Isaiah 9:17: “Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this, his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” For the accuser that is dejected with hypocrisy amongst God’s people, God is on your side.
God’s disapproval is not just an Old Testament issue. Luke 6:41-42 says, “And why do you see the [speck] that is in your brother’s eye, but can’t see the [log] that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, Brother, let me pull out the [speck] that is in your eye, when you yourself cannot see the [log] that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, cast out first the [log] out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to pull out the [speck] that is in your brother’s eye.” Jesus was preaching against the hypocritical leadership that believed they did not need a Saviour– they were self-righteous. Their teaching consisted of pointing to anyone but themselves, as an example of a sinner. Jesus was telling them that they were sinners, too. He tells them in John 8:7, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” If these people wanted eternal forgiveness, it came through Christ and not the law. Their hypocrisy would keep them out of the kingdom.
Paul also speaks of hypocrisy in Romans 12:9, which says, “Let love be without dissimulation.” The word “dissimulation” in the King James Version means “insincere.” Another way to say it would be: “Let love be without hypocrisy.” Dissimulation even occurs among “friends.” It happens when we are with someone, singing their praises, but, the moment they walk away, we bring up every thing we dislike about them to others. Our love is to be true, not hypocritical.
A brief message to believers:
Now that we have established that God does not condone hypocrisy, we can confidently state that He does not like it, when those, claiming to love Him, act in ways that are contrary to His character. Some, who use this accusation, do so because they have witnessed Christians, who claim to be a new creation, doing the same sinful things as unbelievers do, using the same profane words that they do. They look at our sporadic church attendance and wonder what the big deal is. They see the temper tantrums and hear the unkind words. They notice the venomous words we spew personally about our boss or teacher, our judgmental attitudes, our grumbling and complaining over every little thing, our over-concern about our appearance, our sex outside of marriage, our cheating to get ahead, our stealing time from work. They conclude: these Christians are no different than I am; why do I need God? Why should I want to read Bible? What is the point in going to church?
Ephesians 5:1-4 says, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.”
I have worked in several restaurants through the years. The workers at each restaurant, especially the waiters and waitresses, always dreaded noon hour on Sundays, because the church crowd would begin to arrive. As a general rule, the Sunday afternoon church crowd would be the messiest, most demanding, cheapest customers. This is not the way we should desire to be characterized. Our churches should be known for the love of Christ rather than petty squabbles. Individuals should be known for their forgiveness and meekness as opposed to their political rants. Pride has no place in the gospel presentation. Worldliness has no place in Christian living. My charge to you, Christian, is not to make any of these accusations true about you. Do not give unbelievers a reason to doubt. Represent God fully and accurately.
And now, a message to accusers:
Some of this accusation derives from a misunderstanding of grace. Although Christians do not represent Christ perfectly, your accusation is still wrong.
Let us pick apart the accusation, “the church is full of hypocrites.” First, the use of the word “full.” If you were to say, “The church has hypocrites,” then, sure, I agree. But there are hypocrites in your workplace, your school, your family, and among your friends. Do you not go to work or school because there are some hypocrites there? Why treat them differently than the church people, if hypocrisy is so offensive to you? The fact is that hypocrisy is not limited to the church. It just may stand out more in the church because of the high calling from God; flaws tend to be highlighted, when the goal is to represent a holy God.
Second, I disagree with your use of the label “hypocrite”. You may have encountered mean, rude people in a church, but this does not automatically make them a hypocrite. Hypocrisy comes from a Greek word meaning “jealous, play-acting, acting out.” It was used for a performance of a dramatic text by an actor, so to be a hypocrite is to be a pretender. To claim you are something and not to be it is hypocrisy. If I were to claim that I am sinless in my actions and yet persist in sin, I would be a hypocrite. If I am not a Christian but go through the motions to fit in with the crowd, I am a hypocrite. However, saying we are supposed to do something (i.e. be kind) and falling short of what we should do (i.e. being unkind) isn’t hypocrisy. It is a poor example; it is falling short of our goals; it is a practice that is inconsistent with our standing in Christ, but it is not automatically hypocritical.
Next, I am going to call you out on your disgust of Christianity by pointing out that you are focused on the wrong person. The church is to proclaim God’s Word, not Joe Schmoe’s word. Ephesians 5:1 told us to be imitators of God. Not me. Not Chris Christian. Imitate God. When the preacher stands in the pulpit proclaiming God’s Word, or when someone shares with you a passage from God’s Word, it is GOD’S instructions. They do not originate with humanity. Church-goers need to follow these instructions as much as you do. We are not perfect, which is actually the beginning of the gospel message. Please, do not ignore God’s instructions because of what someone else does or has done. Your focus is not to be on the person greeting you in the doorway of the church; your focus should be on the person of Jesus Christ. He is the only one who will never fail you. Only He was ever perfectly sinless in character and action.
Now let me remind you of the Word we preach: we are saved by the grace of God. What makes the good news good is that it is the answer to the bad news. The bad news is that we are all spiritually dead in trespasses and sins. We are all flawed, imperfect people. I was not better than you and somehow caught God’s attention. All of us are incapable of doing enough good to meet God’s requirements to enter Heaven. Enter God’s grace, where salvation and a righteous position are offered to us by virtue of the Saviour Christ Jesus. If some church-attender acts like he is better than you, it isn’t God’s fault. A knowledgeable Christian will understand that he is only saved AND KEPT by the grace of God. True Christians should not flaunt their goodness or works of righteousness; we do not deserve what God has given to us. The truth is that the church is full of flawed beings saved only by the grace of God.
The Bible teaches that believers in Christ’s faithfulness have a new position and a new nature, but we are still flawed functionally–we are not perfect people. An important function of the local assembly is to guard and proclaim truth to edify and equip believers with the end goal of Christlikeness. Pastors and teachers have been given: “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ…But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12-15). Edification means that there is still work to be done on us. Growth tells us that there is still maturing to do. Equipping means that there are some things that Christians do not yet have. If believers always acted perfectly, there would be no need for edifying, growing, and equipping. God is still working on us to make us more like His Son.
Even though we have a new nature, we still struggle with the flesh. We are human beings just like you. We are going to have faults in our character, struggles to best display our personalities. We will all have bad days, grumpy days, character flaws. We are tempted. We have faults and failures. We sin. I am not giving us an excuse; we have been set free from sin, but the truth is that there are times when Christians succumb to the flesh, whether it be willingly or we are caught off-guard. I realize there are some Christians that act, as if they are better than you. They may walk around as if they are the epitome of godliness and look down their noses at you. They have no reason to do so. We don’t come to church because we are good, but because God is good.
The Apostle Paul speaks of this struggle between the flesh and the spirit in Romans 7:18-25. Verse eighteen acknowledges, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…” As long as we are in our bodies, this verse is going to be true. Our message still warns us of the sins our flesh will want to commit, including pride and hypocrisy.
Accuser, here are some questions to consider: By saying I am not sinlessly perfect, by admitting that my actions are not perfect, and then displaying that imperfection, how does that make me hypocritical? A poor example? Yes. An inaccurate representative of Christ? Yes. A reminder of the grace of God? Absolutely. While Christians proclaim godly living, we should not be suggesting that we have arrived at perfection. We are still working toward that end, but our imperfections do not take away from what is right and wrong. This is not hypocrisy. It is a reminder that God has chosen weak vessels like us to proclaim His truth and be examples of His grace. We cannot wait until we are perfect to start sharing God’s Word, because then this wonderful message of salvation would never be shared.
Christians need to take our part of the blame when churches split over the location of the pulpit, we need to apologize when we say an unkind word, but Christianity isn’t about Christians. As Romans 3:4 says, “Let God be true, but every man a liar.” I beg you, do not let this keep you from considering Christ. This is not about what someone did you to you yesterday, or 20 years ago. This is about you and God right now. Don’t let what some church-goer did keep you from partaking in the grace of God by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Trust in the good news that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
We’re glad you’ve joined us for ToGather for May 24, 2020! (What is ToGather?) Below, you will find a guide for home worship with Scriptures, songs, a Communion reflection, and an encouraging video message from Phil Ware giving us principles and strategies for keeping our sinful nature nailed to the cross. We are blessed to have Robert and Jan lead us in part of our time ToGather. They are a couple who are church leaders in Thailand and who work sharing Christ with university students and ethnic refugees from neighboring countries. Robert will lead our Communion Reflection, and Jan will give our closing blessing.
May God bless you, those you love, and those you want to reach with the grace of Jesus!