We have come to the end of I Corinthians 15, also known as the Resurrection Chapter. The last few days we’ve had chunkier denser passages but today we end with just one verse:
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
Paul has explained a lot in the previous 57 verses, such as:
- The resurrection appearances of the Lord to many groups and individuals including Paul himself (3-8)
- The absurdity of denying the resurrection if you hold to the faith (12-19)
- Jesus being the prototype of those who have fallen asleep in him. Just as Jesus was raised, so too you and I will also at his return (20, 23)
- All those “in Christ” can and will share in the victories of Jesus and have life (22)
- Our bodies will be raised completely transformed and glorified and we will receive the gift of immortality. Because of this transformation through Jesus we are able to have access to God and entrance into his kingdom (42-50)
- At the resurrection event sin and death will finally and completely be defeated and those “in Christ” will experience victory made possible by God in and through Jesus (54-57)
Then Paul concludes, “therefore”. In light of the resurrection and its implications, this is how you you should live. Paul says four things: be steadfast, be immovable, abound in the work of the Lord, and know your work is not in vain in Jesus. I want to take a moment to look at each one briefly.
To be steadfast is to hold onto something tightly and to be without waiver. In light of Jesus’ resurrection, no adversity we face in this life should have the power to keep us from remaining in the faith and and stop us from being obedient. In the same vein, we should be immovable. Our hope and faith in Christ should be immovable with the reality of Jesus rising from the dead and God’s promise to those who are in Christ. The next phrase is a call for action. Because Jesus rose from the dead and is coming back we should strive to work for the Lord. One, because we want to share the good news with all people and disciple them, and two, he will hold us accountable for the works we have done in the body, “for we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (II Cor. 5.10). Lastly, Paul offers encouragement. Being in ministry can be a grind and sometimes you wonder if you’re making a difference at all. Sometimes you won’t see the fruit of your labor and someone else will. But you know who won’t forget or miss all the work you do and the fruit that comes from it? God and Jesus. Because God is faithful and Jesus is returning we can have confidence and assurance that our work is not in vain because even though no one may remember the work we did or see anything come from it, God and Jesus see it. And you will be rewarded as such when Jesus returns and you are given life.
Thank you for reading and live life in light of the resurrection reality.
(Photo by Alice Railton of Lake Waubee at Camp Mack in Milford, IN)
In 1986 Gorden Shumway, more familiarly named Alf, crashed into the garage of the Tanner family. Each week the Tanner’s had challenges to disguise Alf and teach him about planet Earth. He would hide in strange places or put on all types of costumes when nosey neighbors and friends would pop in.
In the show, the Tanner family knew and actually saw Alf. They always had to hide and disguise him when company arrived. In contrast, the disciples and people in Bible time are the only ones who have seen and experienced Jesus. But we as believers need to hold firm to what is unseen and have faith in knowing that Jesus will be coming again. We know that the Tanner family hid Alf from the outside world in the 80’s sitcom. We don’t want to hide Jesus from others. We want to share his love and the promise of his Father’s coming Kingdom. We want to spread his love over and over until we hear the last trumpet sound. Jesus promises us so much as long as we are loving and obedient to his call.
Monday, July 10
Throughout the Bible, there have been many examples of priests and chief priests. However, out of all the priests that have lived, there is only one that is the most important: Lord Jesus Christ. Unlike the other priests and chief priests, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice by dying for everyone’s sins and shedding his own blood rather than using goat or bull’s blood as an offering. Jesus died so that a new covenant could come into play. According to Hebrews 8:10-12, the Lord declared: “I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” This new covenant gives us the opportunity to know God through Jesus Christ if we believe that Jesus died for the payment of our sins and that he will come again to bring salvation to those waiting for him.
God wants us to be wholeheartedly obedient and devoted to him. He doesn’t want us to just be “half-time” Christians. “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22). This is done when Jesus takes away our sins, enters our lives, and redirects us toward God through baptism. He wants us to encourage each other by showing love and doing good deeds. God is pleased with us when we continue to gather together with other believers because we belong with those who have faith and are saved. Some of you are serving on the UP Project in Minnesota this week, others are working or going to school, and still others may be so excited for FUEL that they are packing a week early. Whatever you may be doing, do it for the glory of God. Hebrews 10:36 states: “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” That sounds like some pretty good advice to follow.
Today, I pray that you find the time to open your Bible and really study God’s Word. He is waiting to have a relationship with you and truly wants your undivided attention. Come to Jesus and God with a sincere heart and a strong faith and ask Him what He wants you to learn or do for Him. Make sure you assemble with other brothers and sisters in Christ and be an encouragement to them. I pray that you will be strong in your faith and share what you have learned with others. God bless you. Amen.
(Photo Credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/is-the-old-covenant-obsolete-2-2/)
May 16, 2017
Have you ever prayed for your enemies? Not to make you feel guilty if you haven’t but I think it’s a good habit to start. My reasoning behind this relies on the fact that the kingdom of God will be peaceful, and if we are to be a part of the kingdom of God why not pray for that peace now? You might think praying for peace is different than praying for your enemies but I don’t think there is that big of a difference.
But prayer is one thing, what about actions? Can we love our enemies with our actions? Jesus seems to think so, and even demands that we do it in Luke 6:27-36. He even gives a couple examples, one of which is prayer.
Why should we do this? Well, other than to be obedient to Jesus, which is emphasized in verses 46-49, it is because God has been intentional in reaching out to us. Yes, at one point in time, we were against God, and yet he still gave his Son for us. He was merciful to us, even when we might have hated him. Luke 6:36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
I encourage you today to read through this section of verses. Write down how you could love those who you may consider enemies. Your answers may surprise you, and if you follow up by doing some of the things you write down, you might find that loving your enemies isn’t all that hard. Who knows, you might even create some peace is this crazy world.
Saturday, March 25
Throughout Ezekiel there are certain themes that keep circling back around: God’s judgment against Jerusalem, Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. In today’s reading we see another very graphic depiction of Israel’s immorality. This time, it’s the northern kingdom of Samaria and the southern kingdom of Judah. They are likened to two sisters who prostitute themselves. They again perform lewd acts shaming themselves before their neighbors. It’s very sad, indeed.
God searches for someone to help: “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” God could find no one righteous to fill the gap and act as the mediator between God and His people.
We know the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ and God’s Kingdom. One day, Jesus would stand in the gap to keep God from destroying the earth. Jesus on the cross fills the gap between a holy God and a sinful people.
I hope that these devotions from Ezekiel will help you to see some important truths with greater clarity. God loves His people very much. God wants His people to be faithful and obedient. Some are and some aren’t. When His people are unfaithful, God brings calamity and judgment, in order to turn people’s hearts back to Him. It’s not the judgment that ultimately turn hearts, but it’s the fact that despite all of our wicked acts that deserve punishment, God is faithful to His promises and His steadfast love remains. Ultimately, its God’s mercy that leads us to repentance. May you know His love and His mercy through Jesus Christ, the man who did stand in the Gap for us.