Paul wrote in this letter to the Believers at Corinth – a huge trading city, entertaining all sorts of pagan religions and rites – talking about living in obedience to Christ.
Shifting from living as the pagan culture around them was difficult for some of the Church at Corinth and Paul addresses that in his letters. Here he is talking about what they did with their bodies. In their culture, prostitution wasn’t a big deal. They even had prostitutes who served as part of the rites at some of the temples.
Paul is battling the thinking that promiscuous behavior is okay.
He doesn’t use a morality ploy. The people don’t see this as immoral. Instead he reminds them of whose they are.
He wrote, “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’ — but not everything is good for you. And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything.”
We absolutely do have freedom in Christ. But just like it’s not right to yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theater, using our bodies for sexual immorality isn’t either.
Paul talks about how when we join our bodies sexually, we bond our souls. We become one body with that person. It’s not a physical thing — we can physically walk away and there’s no problem, unless pregnancy or disease develop.
Paul was talking about the spiritual and emotional aspect. Oh, I know, in today’s culture, it’s no big deal for a man or a woman to have multiple partners. It’s even expected! There are even television shows that promote that behavior. There’s no big emotional tie to two bodies coming together for pleasure! Get real, Faye!
Yeah, I’m sorry. If God, through Paul, said there is a spiritual and emotional tie that is a part of the act of sex, then whether you agree with that thought or not, there is a spiritual and emotional tie to the act of sex.
Paul says we should RUN from sexual sin. He said it’s the only sin that so clearly affects the body, and the reason is that sexual immorality is a sin against our own bodies.
Paul goes to to say — and I’m totally paraphrasing here — “Besides, don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit of Almighty God? When you accepted salvation, He was given to you by God Himself. Since you got saved, you don’t belong to you anymore. God paid a HUGE price for you, so honor God with your body.”
Just like everything else in our lives, this involves a choice. If the Word says that sexual promiscuity dishonors us and God, then we should make the choice to not do that. The same with any other sin: gossip, gluttony, theft, murder, slander, etc.
If we call ourselves followers of Jesus, we should obey His commands. All of them. We don’t get to pick and choose which ones. Our choice is between us and God. Will we choose what pleases us or what pleases God?
Maturity is when that choice is the same: what pleases God pleases us.
The best news is, if we’ve made the choices that aren’t God-honoring, we can receive God’s forgiveness for them. All we have to do is agree with God that what we did was sin (confess), turn from that path to following Jesus (repent), and know that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Mind you, though, that means leaving that way behind and not picking it up again. Continuing in the sin doesn’t please God and it cheapens His grace.
Choose Him. Choose Life. Choose Joy. Choose Peace.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.
(c) 2019 Faye Stoeffler Bryant
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
I once had a pastor who said, “Whenever you see a “therefore” in scripture, take a look to see what it’s there for.”
Maybe he was the one who taught me to examine all around the verse to better understand.
Here we find the eleven apostles at the foot of a particular mountain because the resurrected Jesus had told them to be there at that time.
As they’re hanging out there, checking their watches, Jesus walks up and tells them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” Then he charges his closest friends on Earth with making disciples of all the nations.
That ‘given all authority’ is huge. He was saying that ALL power of ABSOLUTE rule was His. Once again, He declares Himself Almighty God.
He does that just before He tells His followers to go into all nations to help the people learn of Him, believe in Him and obey Him. Once those people became followers, they were to be baptized.
That must have seemed an exceptionally daunting task! Just getting to the nations would prove difficult, not to mention that throughout the Roman Empire, they were being hunted down and killed.
Still, in order to obey the Savior – the one they had seen die on the cross, laid in the grave, then alive and standing before them – they had to get to work.
Just how do you accomplish this, though? Eleven men? Well, when we read Acts, we see how they shared the truth about Jesus one day and had THREE THOUSAND choose to believe and follow the Lord. That crew had to be taught how to obey the commands given by Jesus. Then they started telling others and those started telling more. This telling grew exponentially, and now you and I hear the story of Jesus because those eleven were obedient. Is your mind blown yet?
The thing I’m guilty of is inviting people to church more than I invite them to Jesus. I’ve got to work on that.
We can say that is living a Christian life in front of others causes them to want to know the Lord, but if that were the case, why aren’t more coming to Him?
Could it be because we are fallible people and others can’t get past us to see Him?
Jesus said GO. I don’t think that requires a passport. I think that means intent. I believe that wherever we go, whatever we do, we must be ready and willing to help people know of Jesus and what He did for us, help them believe in Him and obey His words.
Our workplace isn’t just where we go to earn money, it’s where we go to display the Lord, to help others know of Jesus, believe in Him and obey Him.
Our home is the same. Every place we go is the same.
What do you say? Today, let’s get intentional about obeying the Lord by discipling others.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.
I love Isaiah 6. I love the thought that the sight of God is overwhelming. I love that in His presence, angels cry out His holiness. I love that in that Presence, Isaiah can’t help but cry out a confession of who he really is. I love that the angels lift a coal from the altar and cleanse Isaiah with it after His confession.
How many of us need a revelation like this?
How many of us need to get quiet enough before God that we can see Him, hear His angels, feel the searing of that coal?
We are busy people. When was the last time you sat on the porch with family or friends and just talked? Told stories? Laughed? Wept?
How much do we miss in our busyness?
Had Isaiah missed these moments, he would have never heard the Lord speak those next words and he wouldn’t have had the answer ready, either.
God said, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
To which Isaiah replied, “Here I am. Send me.”
What if God has been asking this question of us and we’ve been missing it?
Maybe today we need to slow down. Especially in the Lord’s presence.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.
Jesus was in his home base of Capernaum. He logged a lot of hours in the town and surrounding area.
One day as He was going along, a heathen unbeliever, a Gentile, one of the oppressors walked up to Him. This Roman officer came up to Jesus and told Him about one of his young slaves. The boy was paralyzed and in great pain.
He came because he had heard that Jesus healed people.
This is important to notice because there is so much going on here.
This Roman officer is a slave owner, yet he cares for this boy whose very life he controls. His care isn’t minor, sending another slave to find Jesus and get help. No. It’s huge! He walks himself around the town until he finds the One known to heal.
When he found Jesus, he pleaded with Him. A Roman officer pleading? It just didn’t happen! The Romans were there as the conquerors. Whatever they said was law, jump to it!
Yet this guy came to Jesus and asked. He called Him “Lord,” and asked for help for the least in his household.
Jesus said he would come right away and do as the officer asked. (Whew! That’s a quick answer to prayer!)
This man of significant authority said that wasn’t necessary. He explained that He understood the chain of command and how it worked. A higher ranking officer gave an order and it was carried out.
The Roman officer told Jesus that he knew if Jesus just declared the boy healed it would be done.
This is some amazing faith! This man who had not grown up learning of God, who didn’t know the Torah or the prophets, had a greater understanding of who Jesus was than those who walked with Him day after day.
This man, this pagan Gentile, declared Jesus supreme. He said that no matter where Jesus stood, He could speak healing over the paralyzed boy and the boy would be healed. He proclaimed Jesus as Sovereign.
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!
I don’t know about you, but I want to be like that officer. I want my faith to be amazing to God.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.
You’ll hear Louise speak about her life, then you’ll hear her daughter, Elaina, answer each point about the same aspects of her life.
Picture a 22-year-old woman in Detroit. She’s lost everything. She’s hurt and angry and doesn’t know where to turn. Those she thought would be beside her have instead betrayed her.
Coming Soon: “Elaina, Book 2 of the Grandma, Mom, and Me Saga.”
Jesus said, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Seems easy enough, right?
What about your finances? Got a credit card payment that’s inching up each month? How are you going to pay it? What if you lose your job? What if something happens to you?
What about your health? Was that cough from allergies or something more? That cut you got in the kitchen, did you get it bandaged right or will it get infected?
Why about your safety? There are crazies on the road! What if you get hit? What if there’s another shooting and it’s where you are?
Did any of these come near to where your thoughts go? Seemingly unbidden? You don’t actually plan to think them, then there you are, frozen, right in the middle of them.
See, in actuality, on our own, this not worrying about tomorrow is HARD! We have to be mindful of what we’re really thinking, then replace those worried thoughts with positive thoughts, then start with the new worries that pop up.
If we will recognize the faithful love of God toward us, the fact that He loves us enough to rescue us from eternal death with His own death, we can let go of worry for today, tomorrow, and forever.
If we will slow down enough to know that God holds us AND time in His hands, we can toss worry out the nearest window.
If we will replace each worried thought with scripture, we can watch worry run for the door!
Here’s a great one to start with. When worry slides it’s slimy self into your thinking, say out loud: “No. Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow. He said tomorrow will bring its own worries. The Lord says today’s trouble is enough for today. I’m trusting Him.”
Repeat as necessary. Put your trust fully in Almighty God and step out of your frozen place into life abundant.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.
“Love my enemies?
Pray for those who persecute me?
Are you sure about that, Jesus?”
“Yeah, I get that it’s easy to love my family – well most of them – and my friends, but they treat me well, but my enemies? You know how they are!”
“Wait, You’re saying I should get a better grasp on what an enemy is? That someone who disagrees with me isn’t really an enemy? That an enemy is one who seeks my demise? But what about HER, Jesus. She’s downright mean! She never agrees with me. She always cuts me off in conversation and never listens. If she does listen it’s only so she can prove my words wrong.”
“Okay, I’m looking it up. I think it’s pretty cool you led Mr. Webster to define words, by the way. Here we go: one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent; one that is antagonistic to another; adversary, antagonist, foe, hostile, opponent.”
“Okay, so we could say that SHE is an enemy. I get that now. Wait! You’re saying I have to love HER? Like L-O-V-E her? AND pray for her? Oh, I don’t know, Jesus, that’s just insane! I don’t even want to help her across the street, and you want me to actually love her? It’s impossible!!!”
“What? Oh. Yeah, I remember. With you anything is possible.”
Loving an enemy seems not only counterintuitive, but ridiculous. It’s not in our DNA. It is, however, in God’s.
When we surrender our entire selves to God, He loves through us. Even our enemies.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.
Did you read that verse? Woohoo! I’m never going to drown or get burned up! I’m bulletproof! Cue the happy dance!
Umm… err… no.
That’s not at all what the prophet Isaiah was telling the redeemed of God.
What he really said was, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”
Let’s break that down.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” We’ve often heard the term, “drowning in fear,” and “going down for the last time” when talking about being overwhelmed by something.
God’s response is, “I redeemed you. WHEN you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry, I’m there with you.”
God knows He designed humans who would not like tense situations or would be fearful of everything. He knows us.
His answer is His presence.
No matter what that scary circumstance is that looms before us, we can walk into it knowing that Almighty God is WITH us.
“When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” God is talking to a people whose ancestors walked across a sea and a river on dry ground. I don’t know about you, but that walking between two walls of water twice my height or more would invoke great fear.
God understands our hearts when difficulties hit us. He knows the directions our minds take. And He tells us that in those rivers of difficulty we won’t drown.
Note that He doesn’t say we won’t have to go through these rivers. He says WHEN we do, we won’t drown in them.
Believer, if you’re in a river of difficulty right now, reach up! God is with you! He’s the one keeping your head above the water. He will help you through and you will not drown.
Lastly, “When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”
Not many of us in Western Civilization know the oppression that believers around the world know. We might get called an uncomplimentary name, while they might have their children stolen. We might have a traffic jam make us late for church while they can’t sing aloud for fear of being found out and killed. All at the hands of their government.
Still, our hearts and minds can feel oppressed, beaten down, and enslaved by those in power. It feels like a fire we can’t escape from. A weight holds us in place, keeping us from leaving the flames.
God says WHEN we are in those fires of oppression (we WILL encounter them) we’re not going to be consumed by that oppression. He won’t always snatch us out of the fire, but He will always be with us there.
God’s aim is for us to rely on Him completely, not just when life is suddenly hard. It’s up to us to seek Him. He promised we would find Him if we do so with all our hearts. It’s up to us to develop and maintain a right relationship with God. Then, when overwhelming circumstances, rivers of difficulty, and fires of oppression come, we’re prepared because we know that Almighty God is with us, no matter how dire the situation is, He is there.
If you’re in that overwhelm, river, or fire today, call out to Him. He will lead you and comfort you as you move through that which you feel will destroy you.
If you’re not in those dire circumstances today, get prepared! They’re coming your way at some time. Today is a great day to practice being in Almighty God’s presence.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.
Have you ever listened to someone say they love Jesus, but then see them behaving as though they’ve never met Him?
Ever heard someone declare their love for the Lord just before they launch into their juicy gossip?
Saying we love Jesus isn’t enough. Not for Him. The way He knows we love Him is when we accept His commands and obey Him.
We don’t have much choice in accepting His commands, do we? I mean, they’re there. They’re commands, not suggestions, so we have to accept them, right?
In the military, accepting a command means hearing it and obeying it without complaint or revision. There’s no doing it partway, no leaving out the part the service member doesn’t like. Now, that person may do it with some inner grumbling, but they carry out their orders to the best of their ability.
I think Jesus is much the same as those officers handing down order, except He knows our inner thoughts. He knows if we’re complaining internally or trying to work ways around the parts of His commands that we don’t like.
I believe the one who truly accepts God’s commands is the one who fulfills that requirement without delay, without complaint, without questioning, and without revision. There is no wondering if he or she could just get by doing this part and not that in the heart and mind of the one who loves Jesus.
It’s important that we read the Bible for ourselves and learn what God tells us to do. Then, we who love the Lord will get right on that command, obeying it as written.
None of this “but He didn’t really mean…” That thought is what got Eve in trouble!
Let’s choose to back up our words (I love You, Lord) with our actions (unabated, unqualified acceptance and obedience of His commands).
What will we look like when we choose to love Him first?
What will the world look like when we do?
Coffee, Bible, Journal.