12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:12-13, NKJV)
The rhetorical questions answer themselves (verse 13). Christ is not divided. Paul was not crucified for you. You were not baptized in the name of Paul. Therefore, Christians cannot be “of” men, and also be “of Christ.” Christ is not divided into a multitude of different churches with opposing creeds, confessions, and catechisms. The writers and endorsers of creeds and confessions were not crucified for you. Neither were you baptized in their names. As an example, consider the Apostles’ Creed. The apostles did not die for our sins, nor were we baptized in their names. Why should we pledge allegiance to a creed that bears their name (which they neither wrote nor approved in the first place)? Yet, many will identify you as a heretic if you do not do so. Such a demand is divisive to its core. The Scriptures answer all pertinent doctrinal issues; we care not for the creeds, because they are unnecessary. Creed writers were not crucified for us, Christ was (1 Cor. 15:3). Jesus Christ is the One in whom we are baptized, not churches that were formed under the guidelines of human creeds (Matt. 28:19). In Christ, we unite. In creeds, we divide. Which do you choose?
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23–25, NKJV)
Does the church of which you are a member eat the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week? In the days of the early church, every first day of the week was “as often as” the disciples ate and drank the supper (Acts 20:7). We should follow the example of the apostles, including Paul, who ate the Lord’s Supper with the Troas church on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 4:16). Why do you eat the Lord’s Supper? Jesus said it is for the express purpose of remembering Him. When Christians eat the bread, we remember His body that was put to death for us. When Christians drink the cup (the fruit of the vine, Lk. 22:18), we remember His blood that dedicated the new covenant. The Lord’s Supper is a solemn memorial of Jesus’ death. We just observed Memorial Day by remembering those who gave their lives for our freedom. How much more then, ought we to honor Jesus by following His teaching with a weekly remembrance of His death, which gives us freedom from sin.
1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,” (Isaiah 61:1–2, NKJV)
Jesus applied these words to Himself as He read from Isaiah in Nazareth’s synagogue (Lk. 4:16-21). God’s Christ was tasked with preaching good news to impoverished souls (Matt. 5:3; 6:20). The Lord God commissioned His Servant to heal hearts that are broken by sin’s sorrow and despair (Matt. 5:4; 11:28-30). Jesus proclaimed liberty from sin’s bondage, and announced the age of divine grace (Jno. 8:34-36; 1:14-17). He came to comfort those who mourn over their sins, as He declared God’s vengeance against His opponents (Jno. 5:22-23, 30; 12:48). Jesus Christ is the great fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, to give blessings to all nations through his Seed (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; Gal. 3:16). With decisive clarity, we are assured that “now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). And so, your opportunity to be saved from your sins is now. Choose the comfort of God’s forgiveness through Christ Jesus, not the vengeance of God’s wrath. Believe and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ – now.
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8, NKJV)
The apostles did not teach the gospel by their own authority. It was not their power that persuaded sinners of salvation in Jesus Christ; it was the power of the gospel they preached. But, they did indeed have to work and sacrifice in order for that gospel to spread from Jerusalem, through Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. In today’s verse, Jesus promised the apostles miraculous powers in order to confirm the truth of their message. He kept that promise on Pentecost, when His apostles were invested with miraculous “power from on high” (Lk. 24:49; Acts 2:1-4). As they preached, “the Lord worked with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mk. 16:20; Heb. 2:3-4). Today, God’s power to save is not through miracles, but through the power of the “word of the truth of the gospel” that convicts sinners and converts them to the Lord (Rom. 1:16-17; Col. 1:5-6). If you want God’s power in you life, then believe and obey the gospel of His Son. It has the power to save you from sin and give you a sure hope of heaven.
23 O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. 24 O Lord, correct me, but with justice; Not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing. (Jeremiah 10:23–24, NKJV)
God’s prophet declares a singular truth: Human beings do not innately possess the knowledge, wisdom and perception to correctly direct our lives before God. Simply put, we cannot save ourselves. Nevertheless, men and women have tried to do so for millennia. Yet, only by accepting God’s correction and following His discipline are we able to walk in the peace of His eternal blessings. Since we cannot direct our own steps, psychoanalysis will not give people the ultimate answers they are searching for in their lives. Peeling back the layers of one’s own mind and emotions will not adequately provide the answers, the correction, and direction to life that brings peace with God. And, isn’t that the peace we ought to desire the most? The answers to life are not found within oneself. They are found in the word of God. By disciplining our hearts and lives according to the teachings of the Bible, we will not only get to know ourselves, but more importantly, we will get to know God and how to live in His salvation.
Good understanding gains favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard. (Proverbs 13:15, NKJV)
Sin is a choice that brings hardship to everyone who is enslaved by it. The consequences of sin are hard, and can be permanent (as is indicated by the Hebrews word which is translated “hard” in today’s verse). When we choose to be unfaithful to God’s standard of truth, under which we live and to which we are accountable, the course of our life will be difficult. When we choose to be unfaithful to God, we only hurt ourselves (cf. Acts 9:5). Unfortunately, evil influences in this world are at work to play-down the age-old truth, that “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Many think they can sin without consequences or punishment. They have been deceived by a permissive society that glamorizes and rewards sin. It is a hard, yet necessary lesson, to accept the consequences of our sins. Only by acknowledging the reality of our own sins against God – as well as the consequences they bring – will we ever be willing and able to repent and obey the Lord to be saved by His grace (cf. Acts 2:37-41). Good understanding of sin’s difficulties helps us avoid sin, and obtain favor from God and men. Sinners will obtain favor from God by coming to Jesus. His yoke is far easier, and His burden is far lighter, than sin (Matt. 11:28-30).
The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep. (Ecclesiastes 5:12, NKJV)
There is nothing better than a good night’s sleep after a long day of hard work. Rest for the weary that refreshes the body and the mind, is among the blessings gained through labor. God has ordained labor to be a blessing, and we ought to be thankful that we can work with our hands. Work that is well done gives you a sense of accomplishment in providing for yourself and your family (1 Tim. 5:8). Additionally, working keeps your mind and body occupied with honorable things. Idleness easily leads to temptation and sin (2 Thess. 3:10-11). Work also helps us keep life in perspective. We work to provide for ourselves and our families, and also to help others who are in need (1 Thess. 4:11-12). Work becomes a taskmaster when we make increasing material wealth the reason for our labor. One day we will die, and the work of our hands will be left to another (Eccl. 2:17-23). So, we must keep life in perspective as we labor day by day. Enjoy good from your labor. Be thankful you can work, but do not be enslaved by it. Enjoy the blessings of labor; they are from the hand of God (Eccl. 2:24).
And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15, NKJV)
From heads of state to lowly peasants, pleas for peace are heard around the world. God, in the gospel of Christ, has sent the world a message of real and lasting peace; a peace that is formed between God and sinners. Peace requires at least two things. First, removal of the adversarial conflict must occur. The fighting must end. Paul draws from the prophet Nahum, who saw the feet of the messenger who announced that God was about to remove brutal Assyria from the scene; God judged and destroyed the adversary (Nahum 1:12-15). Even so, sin has put us at war with God. The oppressive yoke of sin must be broken in order for peace with God to exist. The enemy of sin was defeated at the cross of Jesus. Secondly, sin’s conflict must be replaced with the tranquility of divine fellowship. Even so, Paul calls upon Isaiah 52:7, as Isaiah spoke of the beautiful feet that proclaim salvation to Zion, because, “Your God reigns.” The gospel of Jesus Christ offers forgiveness, replacing alienation with peaceful harmony between God and those who are saved in the Son. What beautiful news of peace we proclaim!
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7–10, NKJV)
One little tidbit of internet inspiration I came across said, “God will cancel every trouble in your life.” That sounds comforting, but it is very unscriptural. God did not cancel every trouble in the life of Jesus, Job, Joseph, David, and many, many others. Today’s passage shows that God did not remove Paul’s fleshly ailment, but, He gave Paul the grace and strength to endure its pain and trouble. Rely on God’s strength to help you weather the trials and trouble of life. Trust and obey the Lord in times of trouble, and by His strength, you will prevail.
This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. (Titus 3:8, NKJV)
Paul, the apostle of Christ, exhorted Titus to constantly assert that Christians should concentrate on practicing good works. We must fight the temptation to rely on the accomplishments of the past to define our faith in the present, as well as in the future. When Paul said to “maintain” good works, he used a word that means “to take the lead in” devoting oneself to the moral duty we have to God. We are obliged before God to practice the good works of God (Eph. 2:10). Paul had just told Titus to remind the brethren to these good works (Titus 2:11-12; 3:1-3). Use today to reinvigorate your decision to carefully practice the good works of moral purity and doctrinal fidelity. Those around you will profit from your faithful life.