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Showing posts from 2012

Live As We're Called

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1 Corinthians 7 is jam packed with content about marriage, divorce as well as the single life. There's a lot to take it, but here's the major gist of it. Marriage. This has always been encouraged, we're called to multiple the earth, we're made to love and be loved, and most people are always looking for that one life partner they can reside with in love and support. When one does marry, they are called to be faithful in their marriage. Marriage has become something taken extremely lightly the past few years, people getting together and then filing for divorces, years, months later, but God made marriage to be sacred. A special and strong bond between two people. This is a firm commitment one makes in their life and it should not be broken. In the chapter, Paul makes a few statements about marriage, as well as divorce. If a husband and wife do decide to separate, they must seek reconciliation (v.10-11). I think this is applicable to both marriages and all relati

Flee From Sexual Immorality

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We were all once unrighteous, yet we are made righteous through Christ. Paul says in verse 9 of the sixth chapter in 1 Corinthians that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. And if that wasnt clear enough, he goes on to list many of the major sins from drunkenness, homosexuality, adultery, idolatry to sexual immorality. But in this chapter he veers focus towards sexual immorality much more. This is because sexual sins have a spiritual component, having it be a sin that is against Christ as well as yourself. Flee. Paul tells us to flee. He doesnt even tell us to face it head on, but he tells us to turn the other way and run. Our body is not meant for sexual immorality, our body is a temple of God, and we should be glorifying God through it and with it. Let us honor Him. Everything we have belongs to Him, he's given us our bodies as a vehicle, a vessel and an instrument to carry out his will, not for self pleasure or selfish desires. Let us use God's creation

The Yeast of Malice & Wickedness

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Paul continues to find out more about the sin in the church of Corinth, in this specific situation that a man was living was his father's wife. Chapter 5 of 1 Corinthians explores how to handle with such sin in a church. I have always loved the analogies God uses in scripture, how he compares things and gives us a different perspective on how things work and what he means. Here, God compares the sin in the church to yeast in a loaf of bread. No matter how big or small the sin, like yeast it will eventually make its way through the loaf of bread, and i think this easily applies to both the church as a whole as well as oneself as an individual. The only way to get rid of it, is to start anew and for the contaminate to be extracted immediately. Once something is contaminated, it cannot be fully purified again, if you simply just think of putting food colouring into water, there is nothing you can do to reverse the process and somehow result with just water again. When there is

Servants of Christ

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1 Corinthians 4 speaks about servants of Christ, how we should be serving, in what attitude, and what characteristics a typical servant would have. First off, Paul says that as a servant, we must prove ourselves faithful. When we serve, we are given responsibilities, and no one would trust a servant who isnt faithful right? Humility must be exhibited as God's servant. We should never have a prideful mindset, thinking we are better than the others because we are helping others. Christ came down and brought himself to our level, if not lower to serve us. He doesnt go around boasting about his ability and how great his service is, he just does it, whether if it is recognized or not. It is with Christ that we become wise, we become strong, and honoured. We must also have an attitude of love, as it says in verse 12 and 13, when we are cursed, we bless, when we are persecuted, we endure it and when we are slandered, we answer kindly. All these characteristics were demonstrated by

A Sustaining Foundation

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As listed in chapter 1, Paul addresses the division among the church community found in Corinth. Here in chapter 3, he follows up on it, almost immediately, confront them in what they've done wrong, and what they should be reminded of. We are worldly men. Paul says he cannot even address us as "spiritual" because we are simply not ready for it, we are not at the stage. Just as a baby who isnt old enough to take solid food (v.1-2). We are always sucked into the world of sin, whether if it sprouts from jealously or quarrelling, idolatry or materialism, we are choosing everything else possible over God. The world is constantly telling us to work towards success, gold, money, fortune and fame, and the truth is when we have those things as our foundation in life, it crumbles and will wear and tear eventually. Only a foundation in Christ will provide success and endurance. Just like plants, when planted in good soil, will absorb good nutrients, grow endlessly and bear go

Seek Wisdom

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In 1 Corinthians chapter 2, Paul continues to share and encourage to the church of Corinth, but he steps back and reminds them that he is just a servant of Christ, an instrument. He is not any better than them, he is only sharing the wisdom of Christ through his speech and his actions. We must be reminded of this, to not have pride and ultimately to learn to rest our faith on God, not man (v.4-5). The main bit of this chapter talks about the wisdom from the spirit. When you think about it, no one knows a man's thoughts except for his spirit. Same goes for God, only his spirit can be aligned with his thoughts. Fortunately, we have received the Holy Spirit when we believe and turn to Christ. And as we accept the spirit, we become aligned with Christ. We must learn to listen to the spirit as well as let it instruct and guide us. Paul lastly brings up two different types of man. If you look at the end of the chapter, verse 14 and 15, he talks about a "natural man" vs a

Shattered Unity

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I've decided to continue on in the New Testament, to just dive right into whatever is next, so the overarching journey would continue and make sense. After the book of Romans, Paul writes 1 Corinthians at about 57 A.D. in Ephesus. The reason for the book is because he heard about the problems found in the church of Corinth, where pride, immorality, and idols were breaking the unity of the community, causing divisions in the church. He hoped to correct sinful practices and refute false doctrine with this book. The theme verse could be 1 Corinthians 1:10, it says, 10  I appeal to you, brothers,   by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no  divisions among you, but that you be united  in the same mind and the same judgment.   Lets get right into chapter 1. Before Paul starts any confrontation, he begins with thanksgiving. He recognizes the church, who they are and thank God for them. He encourages them to stay blameless, strong and faithful

Collaboration

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Paul concludes the book of Romans by thanking his friends, but when you look closely and study it enough, you realize that these people he thanks are the ones he collaborated with, the ones he worked and served with. Each of us are impacted differently by the ones we know, the ones we work with and the ones we love. Every single person has a different purpose in your life, to support, to encourage, they have a place in your life. At the same time, not everyone in your life is the perfect happy person you may want them to be. You will meet people who are not for you, deceivers, betrayers, and backstabbers, and God will prune these people from you, but you yourself have to be willing to give them up. There are those who will place obstacles for you, that may cause you to stumble, and we must be on watch for these types of people (v.17). Again, being reminded and thankful of the people we have in our lives, especially in a community of believers, always brings us back to the idea o

Exhortation

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To "exhort" someone means to strongly encourage or urge on to do something. And in Romans 15, Paul talks about exhorting to others as believers. We're called to build one another up, in hopes to edify others and ourselves in truth, in love, and in Christ. We want to grow individually in our relationship with Christ, but we were never told to do it alone. God has granted us a group, a community and a family to aid us, to confront us and to encourage us. I was more than glad to visit my old youth fellowship last night, being able to attend the whole program, and with the grade 12s, they watched Francis Chan's video on "Fellowship" and i found that it really applied to this chapter. He says that we are called to share everything with our community of Christ-followers. Whether it be material possessions, or our heavy burdens, God placed each of us together to work together, serve each other through life and especially in times of weakness. When we are unifi

Humility

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Each and everyday we are judging others, left right and centre, im sure you've had moments where you walk into a room and instantly fall into judging others, whether if its physical appearance, or who they are, or who you think they are, but Paul tells us in Romans 14 that we are called to accept one another instead. Paul uses the analogy of faith in the text. Each of us as believers, are working at our faith with Christ; individually. Some may have a stronger faith, some may have a weaker one, some may be new to the whole Christianity thing, and some may have been doing it since birth, but no matter where you stand, it gives you no right to judge someone else based on their faith and spiritual walk. This relationship with God is between you and God alone, no one is to call you out or put you down because of where its at. But no matter where we are with Christ, He will always still use us and lift us up in times of celebration as well as tribulation. Verse 8 really stood out

Submission

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In Romans 13, Paul covers the topic of submission. That as Christ followers we're called to submit; to authorities as well as to others. Authorities were placed on earth by God, as people who punish those who do wrong. We as followers are commanded to follow the commandments and the law (as long as they are inline with God's commands), when we rebel and go against the law and the authorities, we are going against God. Paul then tags on more practical ways with submission, from paying our taxes, to revenue, but he brings it to another level, also telling us to respect and honor the authorities and everyone around us. We're called to love. Submitting to others. Christ, as the perfect example, lived his entire life as a servant, serving and helping others, always putting everyone else before himself. Let us love each other wholeheartedly and serve each other with all our might. We must learn to focus on others rather than ourselves. Lastly, Paul reminds us Christ'

Transformation

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The next five chapters of Romans, Paul discusses the applications, how to strive for righteous living and how to do so. After we confess and repent, as discussed before, there should be a clear change, evidence of this change. And if we do truly believe and have been changed by God, we should be transformed. As I was reading Romans 12, there is just so much to take from it. From the get go, Paul speaks to us about sacrifice. As a Christian, as a dedicated follower, we ought to offer our bodies back to Christ. Everything we do and say, our lives belong to him. He is the one that blessed us with all that we have, it's only right to give it back and more. He says to be "transformed by the renewal of your mind", refresh ourselves and take out all the trash and dirt that has corrupted our minds. This is a big step, meaning to step away, out of this world, and go against everything society says. Its a difficult task. Secondly, after verse 3, it refers to being unified, a

Grafted Into God

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Going through Romans 11 today was difficult, i had absolutely no idea what was going on, and with the supplementary I still had no clue of what the chapter was about. But after persisting through, i came across a different version, "The Message" and somethings stood out more clearly. In the chapter, it talks about how many people in Israel continued to pursue their own self interests and go their own way, trying to figure everything out, yet it never worked, they didnt succeed. Just as Paul has been reminded us the entire time, we have to turn to God instead of ourselves if we want to be victorious and conquer.  The “self-interest Israel” became thick-skinned toward God. Moses and Isaiah both commented on this: Fed up with their quarrelsome, self-centered ways,      God blurred their eyes and dulled their ears, Shut them in on themselves in a hall of mirrors,      and they’re there to this day. - Romans 11:7-10 Yet God did not give up on Israel, and he will not g

Called to Share

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Many of the things Paul addresses in Romans are often overlapping with others, which may be why the book seems to be rather repetitive sometimes, but even though it may be repetitive, its a constant reminder of how important something may be. Maybe God is trying to tell us something. Similarly in chapter 10, Paul starts off and reminds us in verse 3 that salvation is found in our faith in Christ, not in our works. We can continue to try to find salvation by doing good deeds but it will not work and will not satisfy either. Only through Christ can we receive the great gift of eternal life. If we think about logically, how does news spread, in this case, the good news? For one to believe the gospel, that have to hear it first hand. For them to hear it first hand, it has to be preached or shared with them, and for it to be shared, someone has to go and share it. God calls each and every one of us to evangelize and share the gospel with those around us. Especially with the second co

His Will, Not Ours

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Paul now switches gears in Romans 9 to a different topic, and here he talks about the election of Israel as a nation. Im not how that can be fully applicable to today's time, but i looked at it from a more general perspective to get a better understanding of it. Although Israel was chosen as His chosen people, it may seem like they get a "better treatment" per say, but in verse 15, God says 15  For he says to Moses,  “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.  16  So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.   ”  - Romans 9:15-16 Whoever he choses, whoever he uses is apart of God's decision, it doesnt matter what we do or want, God is the one who decides. In the NIV version, v.16 says "it does not depend on man's desire or effort."At the same time, we should not be questioning God's decision either, like Paul puts it a piece of clay wouldnt talk back to the pott

The Victory Found in The Spirit

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In the previous chapter, we talked about the constant struggle with sin as we live our lives here on earth. How are we supposed to deal with it? What are the outcomes? Paul continues to explain to us the hope and the reassurance of our salvation and victory found in the spirit. From the get go, Paul truly emphasizes our commitment. Similar to Matthew 6:24 "no one can serve two masters", we have to truly reflect and make a firm decision, whether to follow the flesh and our sinful nature, or to side with the spirit and what it desires. "Those controlled by sinful nature cannot please God" (v.8). As Christians, we are called to live by the spirit (v.13). On the earth, yes, we will come across a plethora of sufferings and tribulations, but when we compare to the glory, the end goal, heaven, its nothing. Heaven is the hope that we are striving towards. What is even more assuring, is the fact that in the midst of all trials, we have to remind ourselves that we have

The Constant Struggle

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Romans 7 is filled with content that is extremely applicable to all and brings up a timeless topic. The struggle with sin. But before diving into that, the first portion of this chapter, verses 1-6, Paul again compares the concept of marriage with the idea of our dead life to sin as talked about previously. Marriage is something that binds two people together, a husband and a wife, and they are bound until one passes. When the husband or wife pass away, they are freed from their commitment of marriage. Similarly, we are bound to sin, but when we chose to follow God, he came into our lives, killed our old sinful self, freeing us from the binding sin that held us down. Now that we've been freed from a life of sin and wrong, we shouldnt expect a life of sinless perfection, but as many of us, in fact all of us Christians have discovered that now, in this new life, there is a constant inner struggle with sin. We know what is right, yet sometimes we still end up doing what is wrong.

Set Free

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I can really see Paul taking us through the entire Christian walk throughout Romans, leading us through the gospel, what it means to be a true believer of Christ, and its a great reminder for us. After Romans 5, where we now understand that we need Christ and through Him, we are saved, what now? And Paul addresses exactly that in the next chapter. Christ dying for us on the cross showed God's love for us, and it symbolized the ultimate sacrifice, being truly victorious over all sin. As believers, we need to change and turn away from our old life and ways of sin. Baptism is brought up once again, as Paul explains that going into water represents the death of our old life, and rising out breathes a new life of a changed person. Through this, we have been freed from sin (v.6-7). And because we are free, because we have become dedicated followers of Christ, we are called to offer our lives to Him. Nothing on this earth belongs to us, God had granted and blessed us with everythin

Passed On

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After reading through the first four chapters of Romans, where our condemnation of sin is addressed, Paul now enters chapter 5 by explaining the nature of sin, how it all started and such. Of course, we have to head back to the beginning of time, back to the days of creation when Adam and Eve were created by God. After Adam and Eve ate the apple from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, sin entered them as they willing chose to disobey the Lord's orders (Genesis 3:6). Adam, as the first man would represent the head of the descendants in sin. It is through him that sin entered the world, and was passed down from generation to generation, until now, the present day (v.12). Yet amazingly, it was the same with our Christ Jesus. He came as the ultimate sacrifice, died on the cross and shed blood for the salvation of those who believed. Similar to Adam, Jesus is the head of the descendants in grace and in new life. His love and grace overflowed and passed down to everyone else

By Faith Alone

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Romans 4 reminds us that salvation is granted by faith, not by works, which is interesting because just last week, Exodus 39 brought up the same topic. In the letter, Paul refers to Abraham as an example. He is seen as a forefather, which in a way represents the entire family line down. Paul gets right to it, reinforcing the fact that it is believing the gospel, confessing one's sins that turns and redeems you from death. Once again, the idea of circumcision is brought up in verses 9-12, Paul tells us that Abraham was saved before he was circumcised. This act didnt make any difference towards his salvation, but instead it was a sign, a symbol that "seals" his faith (v. 11), similar to how we see baptism today. It is only be grace that we are saved, as said in a previous post, we can never do work to gain this gift of salvation. If you look at it from a worldly view, if you were to do works to be saved, it would be as if you were bribing a judge to help you get out

moral perfection

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Paul continues to address the issue of sin, as presented in the previous chapter, that we are all alike in sin, no one better or worse than another. He explains that it is through the law that we can understand our sin, and we are to be justified through the grace of Jesus Christ. Long story short, we are sinners, not "good enough" for heaven, and the solution is the righteousness of God. Righteousness could be defined as "moral perfection". Thats a pretty big definition, big shoes to fill. How are we to become "morally perfect"? Whenever "perfect" comes along, i immediately know that it isnt achievable; nothing in this world can really be "perfect". If you look at the world today, nothing is perfect, electronic companies are always trying to come out with a better product, when you get 100% in school, there is always a comment about improvement, it just never ends. But if you notice, everyone is pushing and striving for this ideal

Called to Righteousness

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We've all judged others, secretly, or explicitly, im sure we've had those type of thoughts run through our minds. But Romans 2 reminds us that we dont have the right to judge; who are we to judge? We are all equal in wrong and in sin, no one is better than another. It is because of pride we have these thoughts, we want to put ourselves "higher" than another people. One day, when Christ returns to earth, judgement day will be upon us. God, the true and only judge will go through each and every one of us, and he "will give to each person according to what they have done" (v. 7). 7  To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor  and immortality,  he will give eternal life.  - Romans 2:7   8  But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil,  there will be wrath and anger. - Romans 2:8 We should not be meddling in another person's life, but instead should be focusing on our own lives, reflecting how to striv

Fallen.

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Today i've decided to shift gears and venture off into the book of Romans, with Paul who wrote this letter to present the gospel to those in Rome. This book mainly focuses on the salvation of believers, and how God justifies sinners through God's righteousness. It can be split into two separate parts, Romans 1-8 which talk about salvation and evangelism, and then Romans 9-16 which touch upon sanctification as well as edification. Just reading through the first chapter, i know we're going to be in for a ride. Paul first introduces himself, encourages the city, and then explains the overall reason for writing. He encourages the people of Rome to continue to live by example and be encouraging to one another by their faith as a reflection of Christ (v.12). As we are called to live out our faith, it's a lifestyle, and we should always be working out our salvation and glorifying him. We are never to be ashamed of the gospel (v. 16-17) because it is apart of who we are; b

Exodus: A Connection Waiting To Be Made

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Chapter 40. Today we conclude the book of Exodus. I must say its been quite a journey to be reading a chapter and digging into it everyday. There have been fruitful times, there have been rougher times, but im so proud and glad that i stuck it through and made it to the end. The book of Exodus ends with the tabernacle. After chapters of building, gathering and construction, we read as Moses puts everything into place, as it is set up. When complete, God made his presence known there. It says that a cloud covered the entire tent of meeting, and his glory was there. Whenever the cloud was there, the Israelites stay put, but when it lifted up, they set out for travel. By having God's presence so strongly there, it allowed for a strong connection to be built, an intimate relationship to grow. This has been touched on in a previous post, but with the grace of God, we don't need to strictly have a tabernacle or tent of meeting to communicate to God, to have that relationship w