Imitate Those Who Inherit the Promises

Hebrews 6

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Do you have any Christians that you look up to? Lately I’ve been learning about a pastor named Tim Keller who has really inspired me. Much of his teaching is sound, and he is a great preacher. He is also incredibly successful at bringing Jesus to new people. He has grown his church in New York City (a rather hostile environment for Christianity) and has helped plant over 700 new churches in 75 cities all over the world through a church planting organization that he founded called Redeemer City to City. This to me is exactly what Jesus wants to see his church doing. When he said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” he meant it, and this is what it can look like.

If you tried to take Tim Keller, or your local church’s pastor, and teach him about how to baptize, repent or pray for people, you would look silly. These guys have been around the block a time or two and they shouldn’t be relearning these basics of the faith. I think that is what is being said in Hebrews 6. It’s just inappropriate to take the first step of the faith and then keep taking it repeatedly, walking in a circle. Jesus has a mission, and once you have come to believe in him, your next steps should always be towards the fulfillment of that mission. That isn’t to say that these topics shouldn’t be taught, but rather they should be taught as a foundation for a new Christian and other beliefs should be built on top of them. However, strong condemnation is given to those who witness the works of the Holy Spirit and yet fall away from the faith. It says it is impossible to restore again to repentance. It also says that if land bears thorns and thistles then it is worthless and will be burned. Beware of people like this, who have seen the power of God and yet never take the next step, never bear fruit and don’t help further the mission of Christ.

Instead, be an imitator of those who inherit the promises through faith and patience. Imitate people like Jesus, who taught, healed and loved. Imitate people like those Christians whom you look up to. Imitate people who never cease spreading the gospel. These people have seen the promises of God and make every effort to give back to the one who loved them first. God has been making promises to mankind for a long, long time, and his promises are true. We see the promise that he made to Abraham to multiply him, and we see the fulfillment too, albeit long after Abraham may have thought it possible. That’s where patience comes into play. God’s timeline isn’t your timeline, but his promises are true just the same. Continue to imitate Christ in all things, since he is our forerunner, the one who goes out before us. Learn his ways and walk in them. He, after having suffered, entered into the Holy of Holies, the place where God resides, and there he prepares a place for us, too.

-Nathaniel Johnson

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Who has been a great role model for you in displaying faith and patience while waiting for what God has promised?
  2. What can you do today, and this week, to practice showing “diligence to the very end” (vs 11).

Enter His Rest

Hebrews 4

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Rest is such a basic need of every living thing. When it comes to people, we need to rest and sleep every day. If we neglect sleep for more than a handful of days, we will die the same as if we are starving or dehydrated. In the animal world, horses are used for their speed and stamina for racing these days and in the past they were used for travel. Despite their endurance, it is possible to run them so hard that they will die. Horses need rest the same as a human does. No living thing can survive without proper rest. So when you hear that God swore in his wrath that some will not enter into his rest, you should be very scared. This consequence is equivalent to a death sentence.

When God created the world, he labored over his work for six days straight and finally rested once his work was finished (Genesis 2:2,3). I think of how satisfying it is to have a good night’s sleep after completing a very hard workout at the gym the day before. The effect of experiencing rest after hard work is like a glass of water on a hot summer day. The converse is also true, if I spend all day laying on the couch and don’t get any work done, I feel terrible. Being that I’m not Jewish, I don’t have a good frame of reference for what the Sabbath is like, but it makes a lot of sense in concept to me. Working non-stop just isn’t healthy, but neither is resting without working. God’s rest is the right kind, the kind that is satisfying and comes after hard work. So the Sabbath was supposed to be God’s way of telling his people to work hard, but not too hard. Everything after that was just legalistic nonsense. We see this in Jesus’ teaching about the Sabbath. The rest of the Sabbath is supposed to be for the benefit of mankind, not for its detriment. It’s in this context that Jesus claims to be Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27, 28).

Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, promises to give rest to all who come to him (Matthew 11:28). I believe that the rest that Jesus promises is like the rest in Hebrews 4, but it is different, a precursor to the ultimate rest that we will enter into in God’s presence. The rest that Jesus talks about is the rest that you can have in your soul today. Jesus is our high priest, the one who speaks on our behalf to the God most high. Jesus lived on earth and experienced the weariness that comes from hard work. He knows all of the struggles and burdens that we carry and he wants us to enter into God’s rest. Here in Hebrews we have so many promises that we should take heart. “We who have believed are entering that rest” (Hebrews 4:3). In our belief, we have a piece of that rest for today, and the totality of that rest tomorrow.

-Nathaniel Johnson

Questions for Reflection

  1. How is your work-rest balance? Do you more often have too much rest, or too much work?
  2. What do you think is the best thing about God’s rest available now? Do you feel like you are receiving it?
  3. Reading through the chapter, what are some reasons given for not receiving God’s rest?

Today, If You Hear His Voice

Hebrews 3

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Having read the first two chapters of Hebrews, we have seen the author building up this case for belief and hope in Jesus as the Son of God. Now in chapter 3, the author is trying to bring us back to an example that the readers would have been familiar with to help us understand the necessity of our faith. He calls back to Moses, the prophet who first heard the name of YHWH, delivered the Hebrews from enslavement in Israel and performed many signs and wonders in the midst of the Jews (Exodus 14:31). This Moses that the Hebrews are so familiar with, who brought the law that they hold in such reverence, was faithful in God’s house. However, his faithfulness was to testify of the Prophet to come (Deuteronomy 18:18, 19), namely Jesus.

By conjuring up this image of the Old Testament prophet, Moses, we are reminded of the rebellion of the Hebrew people after they were delivered from Egypt. In only a matter of years, the people hardened their hearts and they were filled with unbelief even though they had seen the signs of God in their own lifetimes. Can you imagine witnessing the parting of the Red Sea, the pillar of Cloud and Fire or the radiant face of Moses and yet still turn your back on the God who freed you from slavery? It doesn’t make sense to me at all. For some reason, the peoples’ hearts were hardened so that they couldn’t believe in God, even though they heard the voice of God.

Now this story isn’t just an example from the past, it is a story that represented the people to which this book is written. Many Jews believed that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah, but others refused to believe. Their hearts were hardened even though they saw all the signs and healings that Jesus performed. It is their unbelief that is their downfall.

I want to apply this story to today as well, while it is still called “today.” If I hear God’s voice, what will I do? Will I believe or will I harden my heart? I believe there are signs and works being performed today through the power of the Holy Spirit as it was promised by Jesus (John 14:12). If you don’t believe that there are still signs being performed to this day, ask a believer in your congregation if they have ever witnessed or performed a work through the Holy Spirit. More have than I think we realize.

The other part of hearing God’s voice today, is that the author of this book is re-presenting the words of God, the words of the Holy Spirit, words spoken Prophetically through David. This is the voice of God that you hear today. Encourage each other every day as long as it is called “today” (Hebrews 3:13). This should be your main takeaway from this passage. If you want to ensure that no one is hardened by the deceitfulness of sin so that they will enter into God’s rest (Hebrews 3:18), then tell someone the word of God today, while it is still called “today.” Speak the word of God in power, for there is certainly power in the word of God. We are given a message of hope that we can boast in (Hebrews 3:6). Pick up your phone and text a brother or sister in Christ and remind them of this hope. Get up and visit your brother and sister to tell them of this hope. If you believe in this hope, then let the whole world know and be a partner of Christ in his work of proclaiming the Kingdom of God (Hebrews 3:14).

-Nathaniel Johnson

APPLICATION QUESTIONS

  1. Who can I tell today about the hope that is found in Jesus?
  2. How often do I think about the hope that is found in Jesus?
  3. Ask a Christian, have you ever seen a sign or a work of the Holy Spirit?

A Reason to Believe and a Reason to Hope

Hebrews 2

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

I love this chapter in Hebrews! It outlines the very reason that I am a Christian, the reason that I believe in Jesus and follow his teachings. It says in verse 2, that the Lord first declared himself. When Jesus was on earth, he taught in the synagogues and proclaimed to be the Messiah spoken of in the prophecies of Isaiah. He proclaimed himself to be the Son of Man spoken of in the prophecies of Ezekiel. We know that he did because we have the firsthand, eyewitness accounts in the first four books of the New Testament. Here again, the author of Hebrews is adding his account (Hebrews 2:4). More importantly than all of this, God adds his own testimony by performing signs and wonders through the apostles, and even among disciples of Jesus today. It’s for this reason that I believe.

Remember yesterday’s passage that proclaimed the great glory and exaltation of the Son of God. The author tells us to pay attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Keep that picture that he painted in your mind. The greatness of God himself has been given to Jesus. You have heard what has been said of Jesus from your friends, your pastor, from the gospels and from the Holy Spirit. Hold on to these things; cling to the faith.

In the next section, the author draws our attention to another psalm like in the first chapter, but this time, he uses it to speak of all mankind more broadly, not just the man, Jesus. God is so much higher than we are. We can’t even wrap our minds around what it means to be Spirit and dwell in heaven. And yet, God cares for us mere mortals. We are lower than angels in that the angels are in the presence of God, but it says that all things have been subjected under man’s feet. It’s clear that this isn’t talking about the current state of the world. There are countless things that aren’t subject to man’s authority: disease, death, hunger, poverty and all kinds of injustices. This is just what the author says in Hebrews 2:8. But we do see Jesus. And just like we read yesterday, everything was given to Jesus. He is the heir of all things and is made higher than all the angels. While Jesus was here, he appeared lower than angels, a man mocked and rejected, but now he is exalted with a crown of glory.

Though Jesus was the first to be glorified, he was the pioneer of salvation, he is not alone since salvation is available for all who believe in his name and we all can become sons of God, brothers and sisters of Christ (Hebrews 2:10-13).

This final section of the chapter is poetic and beautiful, but its real beauty comes through the deep truth and hope that it can bring to our lives. Jesus, though he was perfect and blameless, was put to death. In doing so, he destroyed death itself and freed all of us from the slavery of the fear of death. When you believe in Jesus, you are made free because you don’t need to fear death because there is life for all who are sons of God. We saw it first in Jesus. We saw him raised from the dead and ascend into heaven. This is the fate that awaits us as well. We can relate to Jesus in every way even though he is so highly exalted. He suffered temptation, suffering and death, just as we all will, but we have a hope for life that is to come, a hope that is true, because it was attested to us by God, through his son.

-Nathaniel Johnson

Questions for Reflection

  1. What is the meaning of verse 1? What do they need to pay more careful attention to? Why? Is it still true today? Is it still true for you?
  2. How would you explain Hebrews 2 to someone who has never heard of Jesus before?

The End of Division

Galatians 3

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

            I don’t know about you, but to me, it feels like the world is really divided right now.  More divided than we’ve been in a long time.  Liberal vs. Conservative.  The liberals call the conservatives Fascists or Nazis, the conservatives call the liberals Communists.  We are divided between theists and anti-theists, or some would divide us as racist or anti-racist.  Still, others would divide us as binary or non-binary, pro-live or pro-choice.  Living in perpetual states of division is stressful, painful, and exhausting.  In the words of Rodney King during the L.A. racial riots of the early 1990’s “Can we…can we all get along?”

            That’s kind of what Paul was saying to the Galatian Christians.  There was division going on in their Church.  Paul taught them that we are saved by putting our faith in Jesus Christ as the son of God who died for our sins and whom God raised from the dead.  This salvation is open to everyone who believes, young or old, male or female, Jew or Gentile (non-Jew).  As Paul was traveling on his mission to other places in Asia and Europe to share the message of Jesus Christ and the Gospel of the Kingdom of God with as many as he could, he received reports that people had come into the Churches in Galatia insisting that Gentile believers must begin practicing Jewish law in order to be saved.

            Paul was pretty angry with the Christians there who were being led astray by the teaching of these “Judaizers”  (people who insisted that Gentile Christians must practice Jewish Law in order to be saved).  Paul calls them fools and victims of witchcraft for allowing themselves to be taught something so clearly contrary to the gospel that he preached to them previously.

            Paul goes back and shows from the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) that even back in the time of Abraham God made his plan very clear.  God always planned to bring salvation not only to the Jews who were descendants of Abraham but also to Gentiles who were not biological descendants of Abraham.  Paul shows that God called Abraham long before the Ten Commandments and Ceremonial Laws were given to the Jewish people.  As Jews, they were always recipients of God’s grace.  The Law was never a precondition to them being chosen as God’s covenant people.  Paul wants it to be clearly understood that for the Gentiles they are brought into God’s chosen family not on the basis of observing Jewish ceremonial law or even moral law, but on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ.

            In Christ, old barriers and divisions come falling down.  We all become a part of the one family of God through Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter our nationality, our age, our sex, our citizenship status or our righteousness according to the law.  What matters is that we come to Jesus Christ and have been clothed in Jesus Christ.

            Later in Galatians Paul will talk about what it means to crucify the flesh and to live according to the spirit and produce virtuous actions by the spirit, but the fruit is a result of salvation, not the precondition to being saved.

            The only true way to end division in the world is by becoming one with Jesus Christ through faith.

-Jeff Fletcher

Questions for Discussion:

1.  What are the kinds of things that divide Christians and Churches today?  What action will you take to help remove divisions where you worship and serve?

2.  Why is it important to understand virtue as a result of salvation rather than as a precondition to salvation?

Faith in God

Mark 11

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Chapter 11 of Mark is so saturated in beautiful parables and stories that it can be difficult to draw one single lesson from each separate part. The chapter contains Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the colt, him cursing a fig tree, driving heretics out of the temple, and providing a puzzling dilemma to those who wish to destroy him. From this, however, we’ll try to draw something coherent.

The story begins with Jesus and the disciples entering the city of Jerusalem. Like the confusing things Jesus asked the disciples to do that we were discussing yesterday, He asks several of the disciples to go into town and mysteriously grab a tied-up colt. What could the meaning of this possibly be? Why would Jesus have them specifically say that the Lord needs it, and it will be back shortly? My best assumption is that this was partially meant to draw the attention of the townspeople that the Christ was coming. Additionally, simply because he called for it to happen, it was so. This is a very similar archetype to what Jesus does with a fig tree the next morning. But just keep in mind, Jesus said for it to be so, and it was.

The next morning “Jesus was hungry” (Mark 11:12) and went to find figs on a fig tree he had seen. As it wasn’t the season for the fruit to bear, there were no figs. Because of this, Jesus curses the tree itself: “[May] no one ever eat fruit from you again.” Mark 11:14. This made me audibly laugh out loud when I read it because it seemed so out of place and random for Jesus to get mad that he was hungry and then curse a tree. It is not explained at first but keep this in the back of your mind for later; it’s foreshadowing.

Jesus then entered the temple and saw that people were committing heathenish and blasphemous acts in the temple of God. “He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, ‘Is it not written: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of robbers.’” Mark 11:15-17. This is one of the few instances that makes me believe that anger as an emotion is not a sin, but unrightfully acting upon your anger trespasses into the bounds of sin. It has been referenced as ‘righteous anger.’ In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes “In your anger do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26. In this circumstance, Jesus became rightfully angry at the desecration of his Father’s home and rightfully drove the sinners out who were blaspheming the house of God.

After doing this, as they were leaving the city, they saw that the fig tree Jesus had cursed the day before had wilted and effectively died. They were astonished by this, and Jesus replied, “Have faith in God, I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:22-24. I’m sure it would be hard to believe at first when Jesus cursed the tree that anything would happen so suddenly, but because Jesus said so in total belief and had patience, the tree wilted as He commanded. When you are praying for something that God would ordain to happen, do you believe in your heart without doubt that it will be given to you? If not, you have not the faith that is required for any reward to be manifested. Have faith that God wants the best for you and be ready to see the answer that God gives you.

Just as Jesus had faith in what he ordered and committed himself to an effort to do what is right (protect the house of God), he was rewarded. It is our goal to emulate this pattern of faith, prayer, and work to glorify God in the belief that He will reward us for our good efforts.

-Mason Kiel

Application Questions

  1. As Jesus entered Jerusalem what did the people expect? The disciples? Jesus? Have you ever misunderstood God’s plan or Jesus’ purpose? What were you focusing on? What is Jesus focused on?
  2. Have you ever been angry enough about sin and unrighteousness to do something about it? Did you sin while doing it? How do we ensure that in our anger we do not sin?
  3. Not having enough faith is indeed one reason your prayers may not be answered. How would you go about boosting your faith? What are other Biblical reasons for prayer not being answered?

Don’t Tell

Mark 9

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Have you ever felt like you’ve been burdened with a task that doesn’t make any sense at all, and yet you have to do it anyway? A completely unreasonable duty that requires you lend trust that you may not be ready to give? I know I sure have, in fact just about every day. Through life, there are so many times that we’re required to give our trust over to God and have faith that He will take control. This can be really difficult to do, and Mark, chapter 9 can help give some insight into why we need to be prepared to do so.

It’s not every chapter that we’re blessed with multiple examples of both proverbial teachings and unfathomable biblical spectacles. In Mark 9, however, we see exactly that—there’s the transfiguration of Christ, holy expulsion of a demonic spirit, and, of course, wise parables from Jesus. It can be difficult to lump so many fantastical and seemingly unrelated events into one central theme, but as is always the case, there’s a lesson to be learned through all of it. Let’s travel through this chapter through the eyes of the disciples.

The disciples, although justifiably righteous, are still humans and still feel the same emotions that we feel—both good and bad. It can be difficult to relate to some of the things that happen in the Bible, especially when they come from the mind or mouth of a literally perfect person (Christ), so trying to see the events of the Bible as the disciples would have seen it can provide a unique lens of interpretation.

The chapter begins with the transfiguration of Christ, where he takes Peter, James, and John on top of a mountain. There, he is mystically clothed in the brightest white on earth, and his face becomes like the sun. He’s accompanied by Moses and Elijah, before the voice of God comes from a cloud proclaiming “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” – Mark 9:7. The disciples are of course terrified by this experience, because that’s a pretty terrifying thing to experience! But as they’re coming down the mountain, Jesus gives them the super cryptic message “not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. “– Mark 9:9.

Firstly, that’s a very difficult thing to ask of anyone; not to speak of literally hearing the voice of God and visions of prophets. Secondly, that’s a very ominous thing to say to people whom you love. It not only means they’d have to wait to share what they’d seen until Jesus dies, but also until He comes back to life. Would you be able to heed the requests of Jesus when they, at the moment, seem so unreasonable?

After this, in verses 14-27, Jesus expels a demonic spirit from a boy who had been plagued by this spirit from birth. He then takes the disciples away and tells them that “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and after three days He will rise.”—Mark 9:31. Again, we get a cryptic message prophesying the death and resurrection of Christ. Imagine what the disciples must have been thinking when they heard this, knowing that even they were afraid to ask Him about it (Mark 9:32).

Ultimately, the disciples were too afraid, and denied Christ, thus not putting their trust in Him. They were not able to abandon their understanding of what they thought would or should happen—opting instead to their own paths away from Jesus. It is up to us, as believers, to learn from their humanly mistakes and recognize that what we want, or what we think should happen, is not always what’s best for us, or simply may not be in the plans God has for you, and that we need to put our whole faith and trust in the only constant in life—God. 

-Mason Kiel

Application Questions

  1. If you had been one of the 3 disciples who witnessed the Transfiguration, and then were told not to tell what they had seen until Jesus rose from the dead do you think you would be trustworthy to follow Jesus’ instructions?
  2. What instructions of Jesus do you have a hard time following? Why?
  3. When have your plans not matched God’s? What did you learn?
  4. Reading through Mark 9 what do we learn about Jesus’ view of children?

How can we feed 5 thousand with so little?

Mark 6

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Everyone knows the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. It is one of the classic stories that we first learn in bible school! While it is a very simple story, there is hidden meaning in the words. Yes, it is a story of how incredible Jesus was, and it showed how faithful people were to him, but what else does it mean?

Mark 6:34, is where Jesus first notices the people gathered on the shore. He says they were like, “Sheep without a shepherd”, and he has compassion for them. He sees people who are lost and makes sure to go and guide them towards life and hope.

But the thing I want to focus on is when he talks with the disciples and feeds the people.

Mark 6:35-44.

Once it was late, the disciples went to Jesus and told him that he should send the people away so they could eat. Jesus responded and told the disciples to feed the crowd of people. I can only imagine the looks on their faces! They responded, asking Jesus if they should go buy 200 denarii worth of bread. Finally, Jesus tells them to go and see how many loaves of bread are in the crowd – five loaves and two fish.

            Now imagine being a disciple at this point. They have seen Jesus do miracles, but this must seem nuts! They have nothing close to being enough to feed these people, but they knew he would somehow do it. This is what God wants us to be like with our faith. We may feel like we are standing in front of a mountain, but God wants us to trust him and know that with his strength, we can do anything. Whether that’s feeding five thousand or climbing a mountain.

Jesus then looks to the heavens while breaking the loaves and dividing the fish, and there was enough to feed and satisfy everyone, and there was extra.

This story touches my heart because it describes how we can do so much with only a little. We do not start with everything we think we need, but God provides abundantly more than we could ever imagine as we work to reach his people. No matter what our purpose is, God provides everything we need, we just must have faith and be patient, knowing that whatever we are called to, God will provide.

-Hannah Eldred

Application Questions

  1. When have you felt there was no way you would have enough (resources, finances, companionship, wisdom, or faith)? How did it work out for you? In what ways do lean times help grow your faith?
  2. In what ways has God shown Himself to be faithful in your own life, in His word, and in the lives of others?

Which is Easier?

Mark 2

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Go ahead and read the full chapter, but here’s the first 12 verses we will be discussing today.

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12)

”Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?” (Mark 2:9)

That question has always kind of thrown me for a loop because, if I’m being totally honest, my answer would be different from the one Jesus seems to be implying is correct.

Forgiveness is invisible. Anyone could say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ and we’d never know for sure. But healing someone, telling a paralytic to ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’… well, we would see pretty quickly if that took or not.

I once read that “forgiveness becomes real to you as you believe it, not as you see it.” I think what that means in this context is that the lame man couldn’t see Jesus’ forgiveness. He had to choose whether to believe it was true or not, whether Jesus was trustworthy or not. That’s very different from believing that Jesus had healed him…after he was up walking around.

And now I can see why the former would be so much more difficult. It’s harder to trust what we can’t yet see.

Kind of reminds me of the ‘we walk by faith not by sight’ (2 Cor. 5:7) and faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see’ (Heb. 11:1) verses. God does not provide us with ‘grace-received’ certificates to prove our forgiveness, our salvation. We either believe it or we don’t. We either experience the joy, peace and burden-lifting that grace brings… or we don’t.

Jesus, help us to trust today that you know what’s best for us even when we can’t see it. We want to experience the lifting of burdens in our lives, and to feel the peace and joy that eludes us when we believe what we see instead of what you tell us is true. We want to drop the things that paralyze us and have the faith to get up and walk.

-Susan Landry

Application Questions

  1. Have you accepted Jesus’ forgiveness? How forgiven do you feel? Jesus has already done the hard part. What can you do to accept it, believe it and feel it more and more?
  2. What things, thoughts, attitudes paralyze your faith. Will you drop them? How? What will that look like? What will it look like to get up and walk in faith? Where might your faith lead you?
  3. From verses 13-17, are you more often like Levi or the teachers? What do you admire about Levi? What can you do this week that would be Levi-like?

Foolishness – to Those Perishing

1 Corinthians 1

June 2

Wisdom is a concept that has been found in all cultures for all time. Wisdom in the ancient biblical sense is to reflect on God and obey Him with reverential awe. Wisdom in the 21st century western world stresses wise money investing in stocks with a look towards retirement. “Wise” thoughts have shifted from contemplating who God is, to “how can I make my life as comfortable as possible?” I’m not suggesting that wise investing is bad by any means, but there is a wisdom that goes beyond our capabilities to reason. True understanding and wisdom comes from God Himself, and is vastly superior to earthly human wisdom. This is a concept Paul explores in the first chapter of 1 Corinthians.


“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). There has never been a clearer distinction made in the Bible between wisdom and folly. The good news of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection and the coming kingdom of God, is foolishness to a world that is dying. There’s a total lack of understanding of the meaning of the cross to a world that doesn’t receive it. When we don’t understand something, our general first reaction is to pass it off as foolish. I fell into this trap for many years of my life.

I was raised in church, but my family stopped regularly attending when I was nine. It eventually turned from a sporadic attendance to not attending at all. As I grew older I was informed of things that were happening at the church that I grew up in that shouldn’t have been happening: misconduct to say the least. I grew cold towards God because of actions that I wasn’t even aware of. Not being aware was somehow worse to me. I audibly said “if that’s how Christians are going to act, then I don’t want to be a part of the church”. I became lukewarm at best, and I was essentially an agnostic in all but name. The word of the cross became folly to me.


When I was a sophomore in High School, I met Josiah Cain. We became friends very quickly, but it didn’t take me long to find out that his dad was a pastor. I was skeptical, but I remained friends with him. For three years, God worked on me through Josiah, and after those three years I eventually agreed to attend a single service at his church: Lawrenceville. The service at Lawrenceville was a refreshing church experience. The message was relatable, the pastor was down to earth, the environment was relaxed. It felt right and I was thankful that I was there. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had based all of my assumptions on church and putting my faith in God on a bad experience that I had. That in and of itself branded me as foolish.


I began to attend Lawrenceville regularly. I came forward and accepted an altar call on Resurrection Sunday in 2013. The next month I was baptized. I was beginning to realize the word of the cross and what Jesus accomplished for me. With my original church experience I was only thinking of myself. I realized after being baptized that the good news of Jesus is not about what I feel and about what I can get out of it, but what God has accomplished through his son. The word of the cross ceased to be folly to me, and it became the power of God that was saving me. Nine years later, I’m a pastor (which is still wild to me) and it’s because of the faithfulness of God and the intentionality of Josiah. Folly was worked out of me and wisdom into me.


It is easy to lose patience with those that don’t understand the power of God through the cross. We must be patient, for the good news about Jesus is foolishness to a world that doesn’t understand. When something doesn’t make sense to us, we resent it and want nothing to do with it. When the patient understanding of a friend comes alongside us, there comes understanding. God is working through us to reach the lost around us. We must realize that God has the power to change a folly mind to a mind that gives Him reverential awe. Let’s be the people through whom God blesses the world through His wondrous working power.

-Nathan Massie


Application:

  1. God is working in and through us to reach the world. We as God’s people need to be ready to come alongside those who think the good news of Jesus is folly.
  2. Only God can change the minds and hearts of people, but God has chosen us to be His instruments. We must be ready to share the good news of Jesus with those around us. Who will you share the good news with?
  3. Reflect on God and be thankful for what He has accomplished through the cross of Jesus Christ for us. The word of the cross is the power unto salvation for all those who believe.
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