I Corinthians 15 Part 2–The Ressurection

As in the Jewish community, there were factions among the church regarding the resurrection.  Paul was not going to let that faction remain.  Paul was quick to remind the Corinthians that without the resurrection, the entire idea of Christ and salvation was a useless one.  Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was a sacrifice to restore the relationship between God and men.  To simply have died and not risen would have done nothing to restore the relationship between God and men.  It would have been a beautiful act of martyrdom, but of little use for restoration of a fallen world. 
 
So Paul made clear that not only did Christ pay the ultimate price for our sin, but He beat death, rose again and lives to intercede on our behalf.  We cannot forget the sacrifice Christ made for us, but we have to cling to the resurrection as our means to be in relationship with God. We must live lives that are eternal in perspective, not lives that indicate that this life is all we have.  We look forward to the day of Christ’s return where we will be new creations in a new kingdom forgiven, restored and living eternally with our Lord!
 
God Bless You

 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope[b] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

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 10 Part 1–Accountability and Faith

Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand–God set standards and kept his people accountable. Israel literally followed God for 40 years prior to taking the promised land. Each day they followed the cloud, each night they saw the pillar of fire.  In the midst of the journey they saw seas parted, manna provided water shooting out of rocks…Still, they grumbled, they sinned and they worshipped idols–WITH GOD RIGHT THERE!!!  As a result, God made the people accountable, they died, they wandered in the desert they never experienced the blessing God intended for them.  Still, He loved them and wanted for them to have all they were promised.  Paul summed it up this way–There is nothing that they or you face–that is not common to everyone. God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can handle. Also, all temptation is a choice, and with it comes a way out to not fall into sin.
 
Nothing has changed.  We are a blessed nation. God has provided us freedoms and opportunities few have ever seen. With that comes the temptation to worship idols, to selfishly take without giving back to be prideful and haughty and to forget that it is God that provides and be grateful for what we have rather than being bitter for what we lack.  We have opportunities each day to trust and follow God–in both good times and bad.  We can never forget that we do not have to choose to sin, to be ungrateful or to forget that HE is Lord and I am not.  The struggle is real–every force in the world draws us away from God. We do have the glory of God displayed throughout creation to remind us of God’s supremacy and presence–much like the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire Israel followed. We must continue to trust God–even when it seems impossible. We must remain faithful to the end, just as HE has!!!
 
God Bless You

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.”[a] We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ,[b] as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation[c] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[d] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[e] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

2 Samuel 24–David’s Senseless Census

Truly one of the strangest stories of David’s reign. God incites David to Take a census of Israel’s troops and then punishes him for doing it! Over the objections of His trusted advisors, he had the census taken. When completed, David was struck with the gravity of the sin–He was putting his trust in the numbers, not in the Lord.  The backlash was great, 70K people died from the plague, but, God in His mercy relented after only 1 day of a 3-day plague.
 
David knew what he had done was wrong.  He would never again put his trust in what he had before him, instead, he would put his trust in God! That was why David had the most amazing reign of all of the kings of Israel and Judah.  It was never about the numbers or the weapons, instead, it was about leadership and lordship!  David learned from the time of Goliath that God wins the victories, not skill, might, or volume of troops.  That is what made this story so memorable. David, of all kinds, learned early that it was God that provides. So when David acted like every other king, it was both senseless and out of character.
 
In our lives, no matter how well we know the Lord, or how many times he has shown himself amazing in our lives; we are often faced with the opportunity and sadly choose to trust our own power rather than fully relying upon God. When that happens, it can be catastrophic for us and others.  In those times, often we must own our sin and repent. then trust in His mercy and restoration. God simply loves us and wants for us a full and meaningful life.  When he leads, we see amazing things and often find he has accomplished exceedingly and abundantly more than we could hope or dream. 
 
In short, we must rely upon God no matter how easy it is to count our own tools and troops. There is no army so large or nation so great, that God, that uses the earth as a footstool, could not wipe it out in an instant!
 
God Bless You

Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”

So the king said to Joab and the army commanders[a] with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.”

But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”

The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel…

Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: 12 “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’”

13 So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come on you three[b] years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”

14 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”

15 So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died…

Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”

“To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped.”

22 Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood.23 Your Majesty, Araunah[d] gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the Lord your God accept you.”

24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels[e] of silver for them.25 David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.

2 Samuel 23 Part 2–David’s Mighty Men

In a word, David was an amazing king. But, he would not have been as amazing, had it not been for the mighty men God gave him for support. This passage in Samuel lays out the exploits of the loyal guards of David. Of the hundreds of thousands of troops that served the king, these men rose to the top. Among the group were three that were so amazing, they were called, “The Three”. And beyond them were an additional 34 men that served David without question and risked their lives without any thought to their own safety or honor.  These men were all placed in God’s “Hall of Fame” because of their devotion to God and their king. One name that appears–Uriah the Hittite, was the man David had killed to take Bathsheba. Uriah was a man of honor!
 
None of us can do life alone.  We seek the Lord, but, he kindly puts folks in our lives to support us and carry us through the peaks and valleys we face. As we look back at the people God has given to us as our “Mighty Men”, none enter our lives to build a name for themselves. They all walk alongside and do what is necessary to be a friend simply out of love and devotion. We can never be grateful enough for the mighty men in our lives. we simply need to remember them, honor them and know that it was God that gave them to us. We remain thankful to Him for such an amazing gift. I am so grateful for the mighty men God has placed in my life. Many of you read this and know who you are. So please accept this note as a note of thanks and know I am forever grateful for you being a part of my amazing journey.
 
God Bless You

Josheb-Basshebeth,[a] a Tahkemonite,[b] was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed[c] in one encounter.

Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim[d] for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.

11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory…

Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the Three.[e] He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three.19 Was he not held in greater honor than the Three? He became their commander, even though he was not included among them.

20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. 21 And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. 23 He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.

24 Among the Thirty were:

Asahel the brother of Joab,

Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem,

25 Shammah the Harodite,

Elika the Harodite,

26 Helez the Paltite,

Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa,

27 Abiezer from Anathoth,

Sibbekai[f] the Hushathite,

28 Zalmon the Ahohite,

Maharai the Netophathite,

29 Heled[g] son of Baanah the Netophathite,

Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah in Benjamin,

30 Benaiah the Pirathonite,

Hiddai[h] from the ravines of Gaash,

31 Abi-Albon the Arbathite,

Azmaveth the Barhumite,

32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite,

the sons of Jashen,

Jonathan 33 son of[i] Shammah the Hararite,

Ahiam son of Sharar[j] the Hararite,

34 Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maakathite,

Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,

35 Hezro the Carmelite,

Paarai the Arbite,

36 Igal son of Nathan from Zobah,

the son of Hagri,[k]

37 Zelek the Ammonite,

Naharai the Beerothite, the armor-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah,

38 Ira the Ithrite,

Gareb the Ithrite

39 and Uriah the Hittite.

There were thirty-seven in all

2 Samuel 23 Part 1–David’s Last Words

It is all about the legacy we leave. As David’s days were coming to an end, he told his son that it is, in fact, one’s legacy that defines his life. David’s time as king was defined by the uniting of the nation, and the establishment of Israel as a power in the world.  By the end of David’s reign, Israel was the leader. They collected tribute from most of the surrounding nations and had outposts at every vulnerable place that surrounded them.  They had a well-established army and were known among the other nations as a kingdom whose God was powerful and in charge.  David sought to bring glory to God and in doing so, he was to become known as one of the greatest leaders of all time.
 
It is always true; if one places God first, He will establish everything else. The Lord never promised to make life easy, He simply promised to lead, guide and direct us through.  One needs to trust God through the greatest and worst of times in order to see his amazing hand of mercy and to experience His provision, protection, and preparation. There will be trials, temptations, and disappointments throughout, but, there will also be amazing adventures and lasting legacies to carry the day. Like David, we need to trust God, follow His lead and give the Lord the glory for the things God accomplishes in our lives. David did that and was established as a man after God’s own heart.
 
God Bless You

These are the last words of David:

“The inspired utterance of David son of Jesse,
the utterance of the man exalted by the Most High,
the man anointed by the God of Jacob,
the hero of Israel’s songs:

“The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me;
his word was on my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke,
the Rock of Israel said to me:
‘When one rules over people in righteousness,
when he rules in the fear of God,
he is like the light of morning at sunrise
on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
that brings grass from the earth.’

“If my house were not right with God,
surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant,
arranged and secured in every part;
surely he would not bring to fruition my salvation
and grant me my every desire.
But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns,
which are not gathered with the hand.
Whoever touches thorns
uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear;
they are burned up where they lie.”

2 Samuel 22–David’s Heart of Praise

The Book of Psalms best articulates the heart of King David.  David was a mighty warrior, a stealthy strategist, and a seasoned leader.  He trusted God and with God’s lead, he led Israel to be the nation God called them to be. But, within his heart was a man that simply loved God! He could not help but write and sing songs of adoration to the God whom he loved.  His faith and devotion to God had to have been contagious. Unlike Saul, David was never concerned with making a name for himself, instead, his desire was simply to honor and follow God.  That is apparent in the psalms and songs from David’s heart. 2 Samuel 22 is one of the collections of David’s Greatest Hits album. 

 

In the midst of life, we too must adore our God and Savior. Everything we are and have is a result of God’s kindness and mercy. It is easy to forget that our very lives and eternal future are a result of Christ’s death and resurrection. While we face a difficult world, we cling to the hope of eternity with God and in His presence. That is a reason to praise God and to cling to the hope of our salvation. Like David, we must never stop recognizing God’s hand in our daily deliverance; because we know that all that we are and all that we have come from Him.

God Bless You

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield[a] and the horn[b] of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—
from violent people you save me.

“I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and have been saved from my enemies.
The waves of death swirled about me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.

“In my distress I called to the Lord;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears…

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
20 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.