God Gives the Growth

1 Corinthians 3

June 4

One of the greatest examples of humble service in the Bible is that of John the Baptist. John knew that his role was not to be the savior of the world, but to point people to the savior of the world. John’s vocation was to make a clear and unhindered path that leads to Jesus Christ. We now share in the same work as John the Baptist. Our job in this life is to point people to the Lord of glory and to show the magnitude of having a personal relationship with him. John said it best in the phrase “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). John knew that he was simply to give the world more of Jesus and less of himself.

This ideal of leading people to Jesus and not to ourselves is something we always have to keep in the forefront of our mind. Paul addresses this very issue in 1 Corinthians 3. The church at Corinth was interested in making divisions by which person they were following.

“For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?” (1 Corinthians 3:4).

Paul and Apollos, for all intents and purposes, were celebrity pastors in the first century. People were bragging about following Paul or Apollos, and they lost sight of what both Paul and Apollos were doing and their roles in the church. The roles of both Paul and Apollos were to share the gospel message and to realize that it was God that was working through them.

Paul makes it clear by saying: “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:5-7).

Whatever our work and role is in the church, we should not be asking people to follow us, but rather we should lead them to God. What we do in the church and for the church is nothing without God providing the growth. Our job is not to change hearts and save lives, but to lead people to the one who can. Our role is not to draw attention to ourselves or lift ourselves high, but rather exalt the Lord Jesus. We must decrease and he must increase. We must plant and water, but remember that God causes the growth.

Let us not fall into the trap of saying we follow this person or this person. Let us follow Christ and lead people to him. Let us make sure that we realize all the work that we do is supplemented by the growth that can only be caused by God. Let’s live our lives in such a way where we always point towards God and never to ourselves.

-Nathan Massie


  1. Realize that our job is to point to Christ and to the work that he is doing and not to ourselves.
  2. Realize that our work in the church is important, but it is ultimately God that causes the growth to occur in the church.
  3. To make sure we are following Christ and his teachings and to not get caught up by the earthly people that we follow.

A Scary Word

1 Corinthians 2

June 3

Here at the Oregon church we have really been focusing on evangelistic outreach. No other word puts quite the fear in the heart of a Christian like the world evangelism. There are many anxieties that come with the idea of evangelism: sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. There is the fear of rejection. There is the worry that you might look foolish. There is maybe a concern that you won’t say the right things. Maybe there’s a worry that you don’t know enough about the Bible and therefore you aren’t qualified to reach out to people about Jesus and the kingdom. There is just a lot of worry that goes into it.

A lot of the fear and anxiety that comes from sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with people is that we can make it about us. Look above at what was said about the fear of sharing the gospel: every fear and anxiety that was mentioned about sharing the gospel is because we focus on how it affects us. We make it about our rejection, or our feelings or our knowledge. God has made the gospel so simple and yet we can be so afraid of it. And when I say we are afraid, I’m talking about me too. Just because I’m a pastor doesn’t mean that I don’t have fear and anxiety about sharing the gospel. You don’t need a PhD in theology to share the gospel with people. You don’t need to have a deep understanding of Levitical dietary laws, or a complete understanding of ancient Greek. The gospel was made understandable so that no matter who we talk to they can grasp it. We tend to make it more complicated than it has to be.

Paul makes this very point in 1 Corinthians 2. He says: “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

Paul was an extremely well educated man. He was well studied and well read. He knew the Hebrew Bible in profound detail. He was someone that could have really made the gospel presentation more complicated than it should have been. But instead of making a mess of things he says to the Corinthian church that he didn’t come with lofty speech or wisdom. He decided to know nothing besides Christ and him crucified. What Christ accomplished on the cross is of chief importance. Christ died as a substitute for you and me and he rose on the third day. He did this so that one day we can be in the kingdom of God forever. The components of the gospel are easy to remember this way: the kingdom, the cross and the resurrection. The other doctrines of the Bible are important but only believing the gospel is what saves us. The good news of the kingdom of God and our entrance being purchased by the death and resurrection of Jesus is what matters above all else.

Paul continues in the section by saying that we don’t use lofty wisdom and persuasive arguments in order that we aren’t relying on the wisdom of man. Wisdom is important, but ultimately the best and truest wisdom comes from God. The gospel is simple in order that we can fully rely on the power of God to work through us to share to those around us. God is saving the world through His gospel and we should want to be a part of that.

We don’t need to make the gospel more complicated than it is. The simple message of the death and resurrection of Jesus purchasing our gift of eternal life if we believe in him is as easy as it gets. Sharing the gospel doesn’t have to be scary either. It comes from the concern and urgency of wanting people to be in God’s kingdom. It comes from the outpour of our lives as a demonstration of the saving power of God working wondrously through us. Let’s choose to know nothing but Christ and him crucified and share that to a hurt and broken world. Let’s be the people that God works through to reconcile His creation back to Himself.

-Nathan Massie


  1. To remember that the gospel has been made simple so that we can share with everyone: the kingdom, the cross and the resurrection.
  2. To realize that God is the one who is working through us to share the gospel to the world. It’s His power and not our wisdom that makes the gospel effective.
  3. To realize that the gospel is the power of God and it is of chief importance since believing the gospel is what saves us.
  4. To pray about our anxieties and fears about sharing the gospel and to ask God to give us the strength to share even when we are afraid.
  5. To recognize that when we share the gospel we are making an eternal difference in the life of the hearer.

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


  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.

Watch Out!

Romans 16

June 1

One of the best ways to say “I love you” in the midwest without using those words specifically is to say, “Watch out for deer” when someone is leaving your house in the evening. This is a phrase that is so common, especially in the summer months when deer are more willing to wander further distances before there are plenty of crops to munch on. Ask anyone who has ever hit a deer: the damages to any vehicle can be severe. It is devastating. So, although it is obvious that it is not ideal to hit a deer, nor would anyone want that, we still remind one another to watch out for them. It’s a simple way to show concern to something that is an all too common experience.

The Apostle Paul does just this when he is closing out his letter to the Romans. In Romans 16 he says to the church, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites” (Romans 16:17-18). We all know instinctively that division is not a good thing. Division causes pain and strife in any family, but we see this specifically in the family of God. Just like in the summer months we ought to watch out for deer, so we need to be on guard against people whose goals are to cause divisions and create obstacles. This type of behavior is found in a person who is not interested in growing God’s kingdom by sharing the gospel. Rather, this type of person is interested in dividing God’s kingdom into different sections. Paul further explains the type of people who are always dividing: they are interested in serving themselves and not the Lord Jesus.

We live in a time where politics and culture are always in the forefront of people’s minds. It is hard to take in any form of media without having some type of political statement attached to it. The division that is caused by the polarizing view of politics is something that can be avoided in the church almost altogether. I say almost altogether because there are issues that Christians should vocally stand for such as being pro-life. A majority of political issues fall under the category of “opinion” however. I heard it said well recently that the Apostle Paul could have filled his letters with news concerning the Roman empire. But he didn’t. He spent his time and efforts sharing the good news of the kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus. We need to be on guard from anything that divides the body of Christ, and to seek unity in the body of Christ. Especially when the divisions are created over opinions, and not because of a dissent in sound doctrine. Division should be avoided as best as we can. We should never roll over because it is easier, nor should we have a church split because it would be easier. We should make every effort to keep the family of God in a unified stance. We are stronger and better together. The kingdom grows because of our common faith. Let’s grow God’s kingdom together and not divide it into smaller pieces.

-Nathan Massie


  1. Seek to build in unity with those around you and don’t become divided away from other people on the basis of opinions.
  2. Watch out for people who seek to make divisions in the church for their own gain.
  3. To remember Christ wants us to be unified in his body and to rejoice in the unity
    in faith that we all share.

Following the Very Best Example

Romans 15

May 31

There are many examples in this world: some good, many bad but none are indifferent. We often see the fruit of living a life without godly character in celebrities who become corrupted by the money and lifestyle that comes from being in the spotlight. It’s unfortunate that these poor examples of how to live life are inescapable because they’re plastered all over the internet. There are, however, good examples of selfless serving people in this world, such as first responders, volunteers who help the needy, and people who seek the good of those around them. The ultimate example that our lives should conform to is of course to the example of the Lord Jesus. Compared to the example of the life of Jesus and his earthly ministry, all other good examples pale in comparison. Following Christ’s example is our first and true calling as Christians.

Paul in Romans 15 gives a clear and achievable example of how to imitate Jesus. Paul says: “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up for Christ who did not please himself” (Romans 15:2-3b). Christ’s ultimate aim was to think of others before he thought of himself. This is most clearly seen by him voluntarily taking the cross on our behalf so that we might have life in God’s kingdom. This principle was lived out in his everyday life, as well. Christ’s goal was to seek the good of those around him, by serving them, ministering to them and ultimately being an example to them. Christ’s life was marked by building up the people around him. This example was often displayed to the outcasts, the poor and those who were suffering. Christ was always interested in supporting and loving those around him and he always thought of himself second. Not just the people in the upper parts of society, but anyone without exception.

Paul then continues his thought by saying “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6). Paul’s thought is this: when we seek to build up those around us we are moving towards a place of harmony. God’s desire is for us to live harmoniously with our brothers and sisters in the faith. When we seek the good of those around us and they do that for us in return, we will truly live in one accord in Christ Jesus, and with one voice glorify God!

Our job as God’s people is to follow the example of the Lord Jesus by seeking the good of others above our own desires. We, by following the example of the Lord Jesus, ourselves are being the example that the world and the next generation of believers need!

-Nathan Massie


1. Seek the good of those around us, even above our own desires. When we all do this as God’s people we are moving towards harmony.

2. Be the example that our world and young believers need.

3. Realize that the harmony that is achieved by following the example of Jesus unites us in worship to our God.

No Stumbling Blocks

Romans 14

May 30

One of my all time favorite movies from childhood is Finding Nemo. One of my favorite scenes is when Marlin and Dory meet the group of three sharks who vow not to eat fish anymore. The line that is continually repeated by the sharks is “Fish are friends not food”. The three sharks are attempting to help Marlin and Dory on their quest to find Nemo. Marlin and Dory have a moment where they are arguing over the diving mask that has the address to where Nemo could be. They are pulling the mask to and fro and it snaps against Dory’s nose and she bleeds. The largest of the three sharks, Bruce the Great White, catches a whiff of her blood and he forgets the new motto that he’s trying to live by. A wild chase ensues with one of the most intense scenes from the movie, while the shark who vowed to help lost his way with his desire to eat them.

There are times in our lives where we forget who we have become in Jesus. There are moments where we forget the new life that comes from having a relationship with God and we are tempted to sink back to our old ways. After getting a faint scent of blood Bruce was ready to turn back to his natural shark ways.

In Romans 14 the term that Paul uses is “stumbling block” to refer to areas of temptation in a believer’s life that might not be a hindrance to our siblings in Christ. In fact Paul says to “not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother…so then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Romans 14:13-19). The blood that came from Dory’s nose was not a temptation that everyone fell for in that scene. Bruce was the weak one who was struggling the most with his new life. The blood was a hindrance and stumbling block that sent him in a frenzy in which he fell into his natural temptation.

If there’s an area that really tempts a brother or sister in Christ, but does not tempt us, we must go out of our way to help our siblings not fall into temptation. Our job is to be our brother’s keeper and to come alongside one another so as to not allow ourselves to fall into sin. Paul implores us and shows the seriousness of bringing temptation to our siblings in Christ by making the statement: “Do not…destroy the one for whom Christ died.” (Romans 14:15). The context of this passage is concerning food and drink that might be a hindrance in the lives of ancient Christians, but the wider application encompasses all temptation that we might face for all time. The greater rule here is that temptation, no matter how insignificant it seems for us, is a big deal to someone who struggles in that area. We must be sensitive to the areas of temptation for our brothers and sisters and make diligent efforts to pursue peace for the mutual upbuilding of the body of Christ.

One of the most practical ways we can limit temptation for those around us is to practice modesty. Modesty is not some old out of date stuffy ideology. Modesty is the pursuit of holiness in Christ through our dress, speech and conduct. Choosing modest clothes, words and actions is something that is so foreign to our world today. God desires us to be set apart and one way we can do that is to make sure that we are honoring God and one another through our appearance, our choice of language and the way we live our lives. This is a way to bring peace to those around us and to make sure that we are not being a stumbling block and a hindrance to those who see us, hear us and live their lives in proximity to us.

Sin and temptation are both extremely serious. They are also both difficult to deal with. But with the help of God and the help of one another we can remove the stumbling blocks from each other’s paths. We can also make sure that we are not hindering one another’s walk with God, but rather enhancing our walks with God by building up one another in Christ.

-Nathan Massie


  1. Have intentional conversations with your friends about what temptations they struggle with and how you can help them.
  2. Identify your own weaknesses and struggles and ask for help from a trusted and mature Christian friend and/or mentor if you keep falling into the same temptations.
  3. Ask God for guidance on what steps you should take to help your friends with their walks with God.
  4. Build up one another in Christ through accountability. It is nearly impossible to deal with temptation and sin without the help and accountability from mature Christian friends and/or mentors.
%d bloggers like this: