Bible Study

7/03/15 Daily Devotion – It’s Time to Boast!


“Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’” (1 Cor. 1:31 NIV84)

It’s time to boast and take pride in our Christian faith. We have a God like no other religion on the planet. Seriously, the God of the Scriptures is not like any other god of any other religion of the world. What other religion can boast of a God who, although omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, is personally intimate with His creation? The Bible tells us that we were “knit together” in our mother’s womb by God Himself. He has ordained our days and not a hair falls from our head that He doesn’t take into account. He knows the thoughts and intentions of our heart. Let’s boast of a God who places into that personal intimacy a heart of agape (unconditional love). He loves us no matter what. What other religion on the planet speaks of a God who so freely loves his creation that He would rather redeem and save it than rightfully judge and condemn it? Yes, God doesn’t love us only when we become a Christian. He loved us when we were enemies far from Him in life and in heart. He loved us anyway and pursued us with that love.

What other religion can boast of a God who loves sinners so much that He would suffer and die in their place in order to bear the judgment that would destroy His beloved creation? We can boast of a God who loves us so much that He sent His very own Son into the world to bear our brokenness and sin. Jesus’ death and resurrection wasn’t just good enough to cover the sins of our lives when we were not believers, but is sufficient enough to cover the sins of our wayward Christian lives. Even as believers we stray from our Lord and return to the sin that brings death and separation. Jesus’ love for us weak and broken Christians is evident in the way that He pursues us, finds us, and forgives us of our waywardness. It’s time to boast of a God who has the answers to the questions that plague humanity. Do you want to know who you are and why you’re here? Then let me introduce you to Jesus. Do you want to know what can heal your broken heart and battered conscience? Let me introduce you to Jesus. Do you want to know what can bring peace and hope to a fearful and uncertain heart? Let me introduce you to my Lord and my God.

Hey Christians, it’s time to boast in our God!

Peace!

Pastor Tom


7/02/15 Daily Devotion – The Gospel is true wisdom and power!


“Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:21-24 NIV84)

The Jews and the Greeks of Paul’s day were no different than today’s atheist or secular humanist. Christianity seems weak, passive and too spiritual. Today’s skeptic yearns for the miracle that clears all doubt and provides certainty. Into the midst of this criticism that the gospel is a stumbling block to Jews because of its weakness and foolishness to the Gentiles and because it lacked intellectual depth, Paul asserts that both Jews and Greeks were coming to the faith. They recognized that Jesus Christ was truly the power and wisdom of God. So, what is it that finally breaks through and reveals to Jew and Greek alike that Christianity is more powerful and philosophically meaningful than you can imagine?

The answer to that question is Jesus. He reveals to humanity the heart, will and mind of God. He provides the answers to the questions that plague humanity. The gospel message of Jesus Christ alone answers humanity’s condition. Jesus came into the world to redeem us from our brokenness and sin by bearing those sins upon Himself and giving us His righteousness. Only Christianity answers the question, “Why are we inclined to evil rather than good, and what can save us from that miserable cycle?” We can see in the lives of Christians all over the world the transformative power of the gospel. We know lives that have been completely changed. The Gospel also brings healing to broken hearts and comfort to those who mourn. It provides us the certainty that death is not the end and that God can make good situations bad through His gracious providence. The atheist and secular humanist does not have answers to any of these issues that plague us as human beings, but Christianity does. And that’s why even today atheists and secular humanists are daily converting to the Christian faith.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true wisdom and power!

Peace!

Pastor Tom


7/01/15 Daily Devotion – The wisdom of God!


It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV84)

There is an important concept that must be understood when contemplating the ideas of truth, reality, and wisdom. If the ideas do not correlate to reality, then what use are they? One might tell me that I am free to define my own truth. I might believe that to be true and decide for myself a truth that I can defy gravity and fly. To prove my truth to be real, I climb to the roof of the three story building I am in and I jump off to fly. In the end I will only learn that I cannot break the law of gravity, and if I try, it will break me. The law of gravity is an absolute truth because it is and because it correlates to reality.

To the reality of man’s basic need to solve the dilemma of his evil inclination and his desire to ultimately get right with God, Paul presents the wisdom of God. The wisdom of God is that we have been redeemed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God. We are born again and a new creation/creature lies within us. There is a new inclination within us that wages war with our evil inclination. This new creature in us, born of the Holy Spirit, desires to live out the righteous and holy life God has created us to live. Truth is found in the wisdom of God because it is absolute and it correlates to reality. It answers our basic questions about life and existence. It provides the solution to the problem of a broken humanity. It provides comfort, peace and certain hope to our broken hearts and lives.

May we believe and live in the wisdom of God!

Peace!

Pastor Tom


6/30/15 Daily Devotion – The world’s wisdom is foolishness!


Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Corinthians 1:20 NIV84)

The toughest lesson for mankind to learn is summed up in this one rhetorical question: “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” This has to be tough for those who propose a humanistic worldview that man is the measure of all things. How foolish is it that the questioner (man) has asserted that he is also the provider of the answer. If we had the answer, wouldn’t the question be unnecessary? Everybody on the planet has a view of what the meaning of life is and how we ought to live. But what does mankind base that assertion on? We can think a lot of thoughts and confess a lot of beliefs, but how do we know that they are right? Today’s humanist looks back to himself and declares them right.

Job, from the Old Testament, had a similar problem. He and his friends sought to answer the question of why he was facing the suffering that existed in his life. Job and his friends argued for chapters over what the root cause of Job’s suffering was. Each declared their case with reason and logic. But in the end they were all wrong. In the later verses of the book, Job is found putting his hands over his mouth after being silenced by God’s wisdom and truth about His suffering. Job was silenced because his reason, logic, and intellect weren’t enough to understand his suffering. He and his friends could not find the answers from within themselves. God alone had the wisdom necessary to understand the truth. God alone had the truth.

And we have a Lord Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life. May we, today and every day, trust in God’s wisdom over our own.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


6/29/15 Daily Devotion – The message of the cross is powerful!


For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:17, 18 NIV84)

In these verses Paul continues to address the topic of arguments and division within the Corinthian church. Paul has made it crystal clear already that there should not be division within the church. He has already said that if there is division, it is most likely because human beings have made the issue about themselves, and in doing so, have usurped Jesus as the head of the Church. In our verses for today, he goes on to say that there is an inherent danger that we can strip the message of the cross of its power. We do this by not leaving well enough alone. When we feel it necessary to add our human wisdom to the Gospel message, it begins to lose its power. Why? Because the inherent power of the message of the cross is the Holy Spirit that powerfully works through the truth of God’s Word. When we start adding and qualifying God’s Word, we make it more about us and our interpretation than about the Word of God itself.

Understand, Satan knows how powerful the cross of Jesus is. His head was crushed and his kingdom destroyed as Jesus spoke the words, “It is finished!”  Satan’s desire today is to strip the cross of its power because it has the ability to save people from eternal destruction. He knows that if he can water down God’s Word with human wisdom, it will lose its ability to save. We philosophers, theologians and teachers have to be careful  that what we think is enhancing the Gospel message is actually not stripping it of its power to save. The Word of God must be our master and not the other way around. We need to know that the wisdom and power of the “old” Gospel message is just as relevant today as it was centuries ago. May we 21st century Christians be faithful proclaimers of the cross’ powerful message rather than its re-definers.

May the powerful message of the cross be source of our faith, our life, and our confession.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


06/28/15 Daily Devotion – “Is Christ divided…?”


Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:13 NIV84)

Is Christ divided? Of course not! He is the second person of the Godhead. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the eternal Son of God. There can be no division within the Godhead. Of course the answer is no. Unless we are talking about the body of Christ lived out by you and me in this world. There is indeed division in that body. Just look at the number of Christian denominations and then the division within those denominations. How can this be? The easy answer is us! We are the problem. Paul is right when he says, “Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?”  The Corinthian church, like many of our churches today, had strong leaders like Paul, Apollos, and others. People tend to gravitate to individuals and the teachings of individuals, and both come with a danger. We can’t lose sight of the true Teacher and His teachings.

Our allegiance must be with Jesus, His teachings, and anyone who clearly points us to both. A pastor, teacher, or evangelist should wish that he or she were transparent and that whenever they did their work for the kingdom of God, it was not them but the King that everyone saw and heard. Satan will use any means possible, even spiritual leaders, to lead people away from the cross of Jesus Christ. May we say with Paul, “For I determine to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1Cor. 2:2)

Peace!

Pastor Tom


6/27/15 Daily Devotion – “…perfectly united in mind and thought.”


“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.” (1Cor. 1:10&11 NIV84)

Much of Paul’s letter to the church of Corinth addresses the issue of division within the church. I find these verses on division to be pretty condemning for churches today. Division seems to be common place in American churches today. I don’t know too many Christians who are active in their church that don’t highlight division as their number one pet peeve. Something deep within us knows that there shouldn’t be division among us, but sadly, we accept it to be the norm today. What is the problem? What is the root cause of the division and infighting within so many congregations today?

Yes, the obvious answer is Satan and our sinful nature. But, what door is he using to begin his destructive work? I personally believe it is the idea of “one mindedness” (“Homothumadon” in the Greek). Paul uses the phrase “united in mind and thought”. He makes the assumption that this is how we, as Christians, should be as we work together in the kingdom of God.The Greek word is used several times in the first 5 chapters of the book of Acts. Each time it is used as a description of how the young Christian church responded in unity to whatever challenge it was facing at the time. Here is the key point: We are members of the body of Christ, in which He is the HEAD! He provides the mind and the thought of/for His Church. It is His kingdom! He is the one with the plan. Too many times we put ourselves in the place of headship, and we do not belong there. We need to return back to the spirit of “homothumadon”. We need to be first and foremost united to Christ as our head. If we all focused on Jesus (instead of ourselves), we might find the Spirit of God drawing us all into unity of mind and thought. Understand, there were times in the early church (book of Acts) that the believers were of one mind. They are described as one mind when there were more than 5,000 in their numbers. If it was possible then, it is possible today. We just have to get our hearts and minds in the right place.

Today, may we consider our place in the kingdom of God (body of Christ) and rest comfortably in that place, as long as it’s not the head.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


06/26/15 Daily Devotion – God’s Faithfulness!


“God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” (1 Corinthians 1:9 NIV84)

We Christians spend a lot of time focusing on our walk with God. It is and should be the most significant aspect of our spiritual growth. But, there is a concern I would like to address with this devotion. There is the inherent danger that as we focus on our faith walk with God that our focus turns toward us rather than toward God. I think we can spend too much time “self-helping” our faith that we forget that it is first and foremost about God’s faithfulness toward us. We have to remember that our faith is like shifting sand. It ebbs and flows. One day, like Peter, we are proclaiming Jesus to be the Son of God, and the next we are denying that we even know him.

Jesus understood! He constantly was reminding the disciples that they could have faith as small as a mustard seed and God would do amazing things through them. We have a God who is faithful to His Word and faithful to those He loves (you and me). His faith never wanes or fails. Paul, in our verse for today, is reminding the Corinthians that the God who called them into fellowship is faithful. I think this is a good reminder for us as well. Let’s get the focus off ourselves and get it on our great God where it belongs. May we be overwhelmed by His constant faithfulness toward us.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


06/25/15 Daily Devotion – Gifted for a reason!


Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. (1 Corinthians 1:7 NIV84)

Corinth was a significantly large and important city in the days of the early church, and the Corinthian church was known for its many spiritual gifts. Gifts granted to them for what purpose? Paul clearly implies that they are gifts to be used by the Corinthian Christians until Jesus returns again. But gifts to do what? I know that my questions may seem basic to you. But I am certain that they are not basic to the way that most Christians live out their daily lives. The Corinthian Christians were endowed with tremendous spiritual gifts so that they could use them as members of the body of Christ to reach out to the broken and lost world around them. God grants Christians gifts to be used specifically for work in the kingdom of God.

Many Christians today act like being a Christian is like adopting a philosophical framework to believe in but not to live in. Many adopt a way of belief but not a way of life. We Christians remain on this planet after we become believers because God has work for us to do on this earth for His kingdom. The work is so special that He provides us spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit to get them done. For many of us there are still two things we have to do. The first, is to figure out what our spiritual gifts from the Lord are. The second, is to USE them until we die or until the Lord returns in His glory to bring us home.

May we find our gifts and our place in the Body of Christ.

Peace!

Pastor Tom


06/24/15 Daily Devotion – “Grace and peace to you…”


“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (ICor. 1:3 NIV84)

The Apostle Paul had a signature way in which he addressed most of his letters. Before he would get into doctrinal debates, conflict within the church, or the spiritual warfare that the church might be experiencing, he would greet them in the name of God with a blessing of grace and peace. It was important for Paul’s hearers, and us as well, to know that they were blessed with the reality of continuously living in the grace and peace that only God can give. God loves (graces) us with a love so deep and so intimate that it is difficult to comprehend. He does not love us because we are believers. He loved us even when we were His enemies. His love moved Him to love us when we were unlovable. That love moved God to send His own Son into the world to bear the consequences of our sin and to set us free. In the words of Jesus spoken from the cross, “It is finished!”, we receive the greatest gift from the purest act of love ever to occur.

But there’s more! Because Jesus removed our sins from God’s sight, we finally have peace with Him. The peace and harmony that Adam and Eve experienced before the Fall has returned to us in God’s gift of forgiveness. The very Spirit of God that makes us born again settles in us a peace that surpasses all human comprehension. In Jesus, we have peace with God and peace with one another. We are blessed to live in a state of grace and peace because of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

May we daily accept and live in the grace and peace freely offered to us in our Savior Jesus!

Peace!

Pastor Tom