2 Corinthians 6 Part 2–The Critical Nature of Being Aligned

It is difficult to do life. Everyday pressures, expectations, and circumstances wear us down and push us to the edge.  It was the same during Paul’s time. People were doing jobs, getting married, raising kids and dealing with life’s pressures and without technology.  In the midst of that, Paul tells the people do not be unequally yoked. As a married couple, it is critical to be aligned. in life, we need to be aligned with those we count on to walk through life with us.  If we are not, it adds a layer of complexity in an already complex situation.  Is it doable, sure! Is it difficult–you bet! Bottom line Paul told the Corinthians–get aligned.
 
In our time, it is equally important to be aligned. Believers should consider faith as a critical component for marriage. If a couple does not share the same faith, it will mean strife at every major event. Going through a crisis together and aligned is often the only thing that allows the family to pass through to the other side. There is little in the world that encourages such alignment. Yet, when we see families aligned in faith, there is so much more harmony and unity in good and bad times.  They operate with a purpose and a perspective that is bigger than themselves. In Paul’s time and now, folks must consider faith a critical component in choosing a life partner and in raising a family!
 
God Bless You

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[b]? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”[c]

17 Therefore,

“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”[d]

18 And,

“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”[e]

2 Corinthians 4–A Priceless Message in Jars of Clay…

Paul is serving up two messages this day. The first message is that the light of God is delivered to those that would believe in a very straight forward way.  There are no tricks, nor is there a lot of pomp and ceremony. The truth is simply that God loves us, but, our sin has separated us from that love. Christ came and revealed God’s love to us and then demonstrated it by His death, burial and resurrection. We must accept God’s gift and follow Christ to restore the relationship with God and have eternal life. While the message is simple, many are blinded to that truth simply because they are not willing to submit or believe in the spiritual aspect of life.
 
The second message is equally critical–as messengers, we are like jars of clay. We are neither glamorous nor are we impervious to the attacks of life or of our enemy Satan.  What is more, as we follow God, we can be assured that we will be pressed down on every side–but not crushed. We will seem perplexed–but not in complete despair. We will be persecuted–but, not abandoned-He will walk through it with us!!! We will be struck down–but not destroyed! We will be containers full of Christ’s Gospel–ready to die; knowing that even in our death–Christ’s gift of life will be revealed.  It is so much bigger than us, so we must live ready to do whatever it takes to reveal Christ to all who might believe!!! 
 
God Bless You

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

1 Corinthians 15 Part 1–The Gospel

One of the most simple but amazing messages ever penned. Paul laid the gospel out for the Corinthians in an orderly and relative manner. Christ died, He was buried, he rose and appeared to many people over a period of time that can be verified. Paul was helping all to remember this was so much more than a religion.  It was a relationship with a living God and a living Savior.  That relationship changed the lives of the Apostles–none were anything extraordinary–but then, upon his resurrection–these guys changed the world. Especially Paul!
 
Paul went from religious zealot to humble and grateful servant; bringing this gospel across the gentile world. It cost him his fortune, his freedom, and ultimately his life. Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand why it was worth it. This was no religious ritual, it was a life-changing relationship; put in place through the death of God’s son. Same is still true. We are blessed beyond measure, simply because of the very same gospel. He died and rose for us! we owe God everything–but all He seeks is our faith, belief, and submission to His plan. 
 
Thanks, Lord, for Your Gospel–Your gift, for Your sacrifice, and for Your desire to remain in relationship with us!
 
God Bless You

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve.After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

I Corinthians 14 Part 1–About Spiritual Gifts

Paul continues to discuss the way of love and focuses upon the gifts of the spirit.  Paul was not discouraging the desire to have the ability to speak in tongues, prophecy, interprets tongues, or heals the sick.  Paul instead was reminding the people that those things are an outpouring of the relationship we have with the Lord and their use should be for the growth of that relationship and the edification of others. From Paul’s perspective, God continues to look at what is coming from our heart and as He blesses His children with the spiritual gifts–it is the Father’s desire that they are used as tools for personal and community development of the body of Christ.
 
The same remains true today. When we follow the Lord, He will grant us spiritual gifts to assist us in our personal walks with Him and to develop the body of Christ. We should not fear the gifts, judge folks for which gifts they manifest nor use God’s gifts to honor ourselves.  Instead, we should seek Him and His Kingdom first. as we do, we can then allow the Father to transform us into His image and lead us toward Him.  If we are to be prophets, speakers of tongues, interpreters, healers or which other gifts he chooses to grant–then as we operate in those gifts, we should do so humbly and with the intent of glorifying God and not ourselves. It was never God’s intent to cause division through equipping His saints–but, you can rest assured the enemy will use anything to neutralize and minimize the church’s impact on the world–division is one of Satan’s best tools!
 
God Bless You

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue[a] does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,[b] but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues,[c] unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.

I Corinthians 13 Part 2–The Greatest Gifts

Love never fails, or ends! Paul continued his discussion about spiritual gifts, He wanted to shift the focus from the manifestation of the gifts, and return the discussion to the true gift.  Love is God’s greatest gift to us and for us.  Without Love, life loses all its luster and purpose.  God designed people to be in relationship with him and with each other.  The common theme in that design is the gift os Love.  So Paul encouraged the Corinthians to see the word from the perspective of God’s chosen and not focus on tongues, prophecy leadership or one of the other spiritual gifts but to instead focus upon Love. When God’s people can focus upon him and his love, then the outpouring of the gifts are abundant.  Christians use the gifts to serve God and His people.  They were never supposed to be the prize, they were to be the tools to lead the world to God, the real prize.

In our lives, God has shown us that it is the same.  In the midst of a chaotic culture, those who are faithful, hopeful and loving are the ones that truly experience peace and purpose.  Whether or not they are doing miraculous things or simply laying their lives down for Christ and the family of God, God gets the glory and we enjoy his grace and power.  We cannot fully understand God’s plan for our lives.  It is so much bigger than we conceptualize. But if we trust him,(Faith), remain hopeful (Hope) and love Him (love); then he will pour out his blessings in our lives and prepare us to be a light and a guide to others.  Let’s cling to the great gifts–Faith, Hope, and Love and allow him to reveal other gifts in His timing!

God Bless You

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.12 For now, we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I Corinthians 13–The Impact Love Has on our Faith and Our Ministry

Paul came to what many would call the climax of his letter to the Corinthians. It was the discussion to end all questions about Life, sacrifice and talent.  It reframed the entire discussion of faith into one single word. Love. Paul starts the discussion with what love is not–1. Love is not saying the right words or teaching the right doctrines–because to do so without love is both noisy and annoying.  2. Speaking the truth and foretelling the mystery of life is not love; to do so without love is worth nothing. 3. Personal sacrifice in deed or death is not love, because making a sacrifice without love gains one nothing.
 
Paul then addresses what love is–it is patient, it is kind, it is humble, selfless, graceful. It does not act brash, rude, boastful nor does it snicker at the sins and crimes of others. Love rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, endures all things, it is always hopeful and always positive about others.  Love is quite simply what we are all about.  
 
When operating out of love the “religious activities” naturally occur.  Amazingly, they are more beautiful, helpful and meaningful when they come from the love we have for God and for one another. As in everything else in Christianity God looks at our hearts, not our deeds.  If our heart is right, the deeds happen. But using the deeds as a way to gain approval, when done without love is a distorted mess. That is the heart of love and that is the heart of ministry.
 
God Bless You

 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

1 Corinthians 11 Part 1–Hair, Hats and Whose in Charge of all That

In the 1st part of I Corinthians 11, Paul speaks directly to the issue of head coverings, haircuts and the hierarchy of roles among believers. In the culture, men had short hair, women had long hair and women wore head coverings and men did not…Paul’s point, do not cause controversy where it is not needed.  Paul was trying to stabilize a church that was growing but also going off the rails. They were dealing with division, immorality and trying to determine significance and relevance in the church. In Paul’s mind–hair, hats and whose in charge of all that needed not to be a point of contention. Paul made it clear–take the controversy out of this.  Be modest, be humble and let God be in charge.
 
That brings us to the 21st century. In our culture, there are so many issues that divide churches. Issues around worship styles, leadership, political and social justice that cause controversy among church families.  If Paul were here, he would say let’s not cause controversy over things that we do not need to. Be modest, be humble and allow God to be in charge.  He will bless his people–when they are seeking Him with their hearts, and adopting His character.  If we, as Christians, will get over ourselves and have the same attitude as Christ (Philippians 2:5-10); then the Lord will bless us and draw folks to His kingdom through us!  Face it–we are human and do dumb stuff. We get all bothered over things God simply does not see as that significant. The truth is, if we are busy taking care of our Father’s business, we will not have time to worry about hair, hats and whose in charge of all that!
 
God Bless You
 

I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man,[a] and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

A man ought not to cover his head,[b] since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was a man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own[c] head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For a woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.