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.

I Corinthians 11 Part 2–Church is More Than Simply Gathering

The Corinthians never had a problem getting together, in fact, that was one of Paul’s major concerns.  The people were coming to argue and to party.  The regular meeting to take communion had become a combination tailgate party and runway to show the haves vs have nots.  Some people would come to the fellowship and not have anything while others would come and get drunk and eat bread until they were sick. Paul was furious.
First, communion is for remembering the sacrifice Christ, it was not about us. So, when folks came in and used it as a buffet and bar, clearly Christ was neither the focus nor purpose for the communion. 
In addition, If folks were coming to communion underfed and hungry, the church should have been meeting those needs in another forum–not communion.  The church body should not have had a “have’s” and “have not’s” division. It is unthinkable to have such issues in a prosperous and growing church.
 
As believers, we need to keep our focus on Christ, His sacrifice and His leadership.  Communion is an opportunity to stop, take stock and refocus upon Him.  When we come together as believers, we are blessed to share that experience of remembering His sacrifice and love for us. We must never use that time to focus on our needs or our accomplishments.
As a body, Christians must focus on how to serve Christ and the others in His church. We must be proactive in our service and humble in our demeanor–if we will, then the Church will be a family, not a meeting place. Our gathering will be a joyful time and not a time of jealousy, pride, and infighting. Help us, Lord, to gather with the desire of honoring you and not focusing on ourselves.
 
God Bless You

 In the following directives, I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent, I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

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.

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.

I Corinthians 4 Part 1–The Meaning of Serving Christ

Paul is trying to help the Corinthians to understand the true value of following Christ.  They were in the midst of a full-on church division. The basis of the division was which apostle they considered their leader…Was it to be Paul, Peter, Apollos or someone else altogether? Paul simply put it into perspective.  The apostles were not some sort of rock stars to be followed by groupies. They were instead servants of the Lord that were being persecuted, rejected, martyred and destroyed. Meanwhile, these people were simply living their lives and paying lip service to follow God and some apostle.
 
Paul wanted the Corinthians to focus upon Christ. He was the reason for the apostles’ persecution. Their lives were singly focused on teaching the truth in love.  They simply wanted to spread the gospel of Christ across the world. They were not seeking fame nor were they building a fan club.  Their sole intent was to provide the message that would truly change lives and change the world.  
 
In our lives, we follow Christ for the same reason. We have no desire to use our faith as a marketing tool.  We are not seeking facebook friends or twitter followers.  We are striving to become like Christ and to share His good news with anyone that will listen. That has never been and will never be a way to build one’s personal popularity.  It is, however, the way to live a truly meaningful and purposeful life. It will provide peace and a true legacy.  That is why we should honor our Lord’s great commission, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
 
God Bless You

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.”Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour, we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.

I Corinthians 1 Part 3–Men Simply Do Not Get IT!

Throughout the generations, men have attempted time and again to show how foolish it is to trust the Lord and honor Him with our lives. Men have tried to prove that God does not exist and that God should have no part in the daily affairs of men’s lives. They have persecuted, martyred and attempted to wipe God’s name from any and everything the public may see.  Still, thousands of years and dozens of fallen kingdoms and empires later–God is still standing.  His word is still the basis of the legal system we enjoy. He is still named on every coin, and history is divided by the coming of the Savior. 
 
The reality is that men will always try to replace God with their own version of supremacy. Science, art, philosophy, wealth, entertainment or just plain old chaos–men always think that their ways are better than God’s. They see spiritual truth as foolishness. They see followers of our Lord as simpletons and crazy people. Still, God remains large and in charge. His ways are still the best and walking with Him still is the only true source of peace and purpose.  The world unnerved by our confidence and faith–because they simply can’t understand.  Truth is, that is not our problem.  We speak the truth and hope that they come to know Christ.  We are selfless and God-seekers! We know the truth and as the verse plainly states, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32
 
God Bless You

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c]

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 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. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord

2 Samuel 5–David Becomes King of a United Israel

7and 1/2 Years David lived in a divided kingdom. He reigned in Hebron but Israel was held at bay. Then the Elders finally submitted to God and at 37 years old, David became God’s king.  Immediately upon becoming king, David began the work of regaining the territory lost in the time of disarray.  He took Jerusalem–the Jebusites had fancied themselves unbeatable…They were–until they weren’t.  David recaptured his city and expanded his territory.  It was a time of restoration for David and for Israel.
 
If we follow God closely and trust him completely, We will see our share of hills and valleys. Life will throw curves and we will make dumb mistakes. God will make a huge difference in our lives, however, that will last an eternity. We must never give up.  We must never give in.  We must always seek God and trust him to do as he promised in our lives.  If we will, then that trust will carry us through the tough times and encourage us in the times of joy. We will always point to God and his blessing and never need to point at our accomplishments or treasures.  It had to be a time of pure peace for David–even as he battled Israel’s enemies. God had restored him to be king–just as he promised David when he was a teenager!
 
God Bless You

All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood.In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’”

When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.

David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron, he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem, he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

David Conquers Jerusalem

The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David.

On that day David had said, “Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those ‘lame and blind’ who are David’s enemies.[a]” That is why they say, “The ‘blind and lame’ will not enter the palace.”

David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the terraces[b] inward. 10 And he became more and more powerful because the Lord God Almighty was with him.