New Testament

The Apostle Paul Shares the Gospel in Corinth, a Metropolis City

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Paul left Athens, a university city, and went to Corinth, a metropolis city. Corinth was Paul’s last major place of witness on his second missionary journey. It was 46 miles west of Athens, and both politically and economically affluent. Corinth was known for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and here devotees promoted immorality in the name of religion.

Did you know that the word Corinthian meant to be sexually immoral? Also, there was a saying “to act like a Corinthian” was used of practicing fornication, and “Corinthian girls” was synonymous to prostitutes. It’s like the slogan: “What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.” Of course, we know that isn’t true. Your sin will always find you out.

Based on the context of Corinth, it makes more sense why the Corinthian church had sexual problems since they lived in a city that highly promoted it. If you were to examine your own city, what sins do you think plague our city? How has that infiltrated the church?

In verse 2-3, we hear about two Jews that came from Pontus, modern day Northern Turkey. Close to the Black Sea. These two names suggest they came from a high social class. This passage informs us what the atmosphere was like during Paul’s day. Emperor Claudius was ordering non-Roman citizens to leave Rome around 50 AD. It has been said that the reason he expelled the Jews was because they were sharing their faith and upsetting the establishment. Claudius opposed sharing religion among the people, even in those regions where he allowed natives to worship freely. It’s almost as if there was this separation of church and state. You could worship in your own sanctuary, but couldn’t share this during your public life. How is this situation similar to today? What happens if one overemphasizes freedom of religion (Saudi Arabia) or freedom from religion (North Korea)?

This passage also reveals Paul was a tentmaker by trade. Scripture teaches that apart from occasional gifts (Phil 4:15), Paul’s practice was to be self-supporting by working at his trade and not to be dependent on the charity of church members. Tent makers was not just tents, it was leather good. A more accurate word might be “leather-worker”. Ancient tradition suggests all rabbis must have a trade. Do you think pastors should get a trade job too? Why or Why not? Answer: secular job put you in the middle of culture on regular basis, Christian-only huddle, and smaller churches unable to afford full-time pastors, digital world offering flexible secular jobs.

In verse 4, same language was from last chapter. He is reasoning with people in the synagogue. He is relating to them at their level since he grew up in Judaism. This word, along with persuade is used about 14 times throughout the book of Acts so it is obviously an important concept. In verse 5, it says the Apostle Paul was occupied with the Word of God. That means he was diligently searching Scripture to help him grow in his understanding. What are some strategies you have to stay occupied in God’s Word?

In verse 6, when the Jews opposed and reviled him for believing in Jesus, he told them: “Your blood be on your own heads. I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” He is referring to Ezekiel’s words in 33:1-7. Blood means the responsibility for your judgment by God. Paul is saying he has done everything possible to warn them of their sins and persuade them to trust in Christ for salvation. He has been a watchmen, staying “awake” when everyone else is sleeping. How are you being a watchmen for Christ at work, in school, in public?

In the next couple of verses, Paul is sharing the gospel with many Corinthians and they are believing and getting baptized. As much as Paul was rejected, he was also successful in adding people daily to the church. In fact, the whole theme of Acts revolves around the Holy Spirit’s movement and the growth of the early church. We have to water and plant, but it is Christ who makes the increase. How can we be effective as a ministry to bring more people into our community?

Here in verse 9 the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision. He told him not to be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people. What a powerful statement. How encouraging would that be to hear that directly from God? Well, we know that Paul spent 18 months in Corinth and was successful here. He wrote the book of Thessalonians during this ministry time. Even though the proconsul was trying to condemn Paul, God protected him. This gave him greater assurance that he was called to be a missionary there for some time. Do you struggle with where God wants you to be? Have you received any signs that assure you that, for this moment in time, you are where God wants you to be? Why or Why not?

Just a historical side note, but the names Gallio and Sosthenes are important. They indicate the exact time period this is happening to Paul. Even the proconsul judgment seat has been excavated in Corinth and was located in the open air in the marketplace. Luke was telling the truth when he was writing the gospel of Luke. This is not a mythological book, but a historical narrative. In verse 16-17, it says that the Jews beat up Sosthenes, who was the ruler of the synagogue. He was persecuted for standing with the apostle Paul. Jesus warned us that we will be persecuted for our faith, even by religious folks. Have you ever been persecuted by religious folks before?

 In verses 18-22, Paul returns back to Antioch after 18 months. During his trip, he stopped in Ephesus for a visit. They wanted Paul to stay in Ephesus, but the Holy Spirit wanted him to keep moving. Of course, we find out in chapter 19 that he does in fact return and minister in that city. At the end of the section, Paul is attending all these cities “strengthening all the disciples.” Why is it important to strengthen one another in the faith? Have you received any strengthening by a brother or sister? If not, would you like to?

Toward the end of this chapter, Luke mentions a Jew named Apollos, who is fervent, eloquent, and competent in Scripture, yet he was baptized by John only. He didn’t hear about the baptism of Jesus until Priscilla and Aquila came through. Therefore, Apollos knowledge of the Christian gospel was deficient in some way, even though he was teaching all that he knew about Christ accurately. What I love about this story is Priscilla and Aquila did not embarrass Apollos. Instead, they took him aside and explained to God more accurately. What can we learn about this story? I know for me, when a new believer comes to faith in Christ, they are oftentimes more passionate than most of us. They may not know the theological depth of the Trinity, but they are eager to share their faith with others. It should humble us as mature believers.

 Application Points:

  1. Warn unbelievers about God’ judgment on sin since you yourself will be held accountable when you stand before Him (v.6-7)
  2. Do not be afraid when people persecute you since God is your protector (v. 9-10).
  3. Cultivate communication with God and He will make it clear what he wants you to do for the advancement of His kingdom (v.18-22)
  4. Encourage new believers and respectfully correct them when they make mistakes (v.24-28).

Jesus the Relational God

CARE PAKET

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:14-16).”

Has anyone seen the Emmy-award winning show Undercover Boss? The main point is for CEO Senior Executives to experience and investigate how their business works, to identify the strengths and weaknesses, sympathize with the frustrations of the employees, and reward-hard workers for their efforts. After a couple weeks working undercover, the CEOs invite those whom they interacted with and reveal their true character.

The first episode was conducted by the CEO of Waste Management, Larry O’ Donnell. He interacted with three different employees and built a strong relationship with one of the project managers. The manager told Larry about his battle with diabetes, undergoing dialysis to filter his blood three days a week, and the pressure he receives daily to perform his job well. Larry was heartbroken, caring, and wanted to help him out because he too has a daughter that is physically and mentally challenged. At the end of the show, Larry offers the project manager the opportunity to become his market director, share his personal testimony, and encourage others never to give up.

In the same way, Jesus Christ, the CEO of the universe, is able to understand our struggles and frustrations. As the Scripture teaches, in every respect He became like us, taking on human flesh as the God-Man, and being tempted in every way as us, yet without sin! He is not a God who is far away, but a relational God who sympathizes with us. Just like Larry stepped down from his high and lofty position as CEO of Waste Management to understand his employees, Jesus Christ willingly humbled Himself from his heavenly throne as King of Kings to relate to His creation, breathe the same air as us, walk the same paths as us, and ultimately suffer more than everyone.

Because of Jesus, we are able to have confidence to draw near the throne of grace and receive the mercy in time of need. Are you struggling with depression? anxiety? anger? Go to the Lord in prayer. He cares for your soul and desires to build a relationship. Are you looking for someone to talk to? You can call on the Lord where you are, whether in the car, kitchen, or on top of a mountain. You don’t need to go to a priest, confession booth, or light a candle at church. Simply open the Word of God, ask for forgiveness, repent of your sins, and trust in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, who already suffered for the penalty of your sins.

What are some practical steps to building a relationship with God? 1.) Spend time in the Bible because it is living and active, and is your sword in battle. 2.) Find a local church that believes in the authority of Scripture and trusts in Christ alone for their salvation. 3.) Invite other believers into your life and don’t be afraid to share your past struggles with them. More than likely, they have been through the same temptations as you. God bless!

Everything is Nothing without Love

T2i - Red Heart

It is certain that all of us will die someday. It is a sober reality that plagues the human heart and often people don’t want to discuss this reality. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes that it is better to go to a house of mourning than a house of feasting since death is the destiny of everyone. So, When you die, what would you want people to remember you by? Would it be your intelligence? Humor? Athletic ability? Trustworthiness? All of these are good things, but I believe the most important character anyone can be remembered for is their love. The two greatest commandments in Scripture are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus said that all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.

When writing to the Corinthian church, Paul knew what others used to remember him by before his conversion. He may have been smart, passionate, and religious, but he knew that all of these gifts profited him nothing without love. Now, he sees the folly of the Corinthian believers. They are having inner conflicts, disputes, sexual immorality, and yet are arguing over which of the spiritual gifts are superior. I believe this is why Paul wrote one of the most poetic messages of the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 13: to remind the Corinthians that no matter what spiritual gifts they possessed, whether it’s eloquence, knowledge, faith, or sacrifice, its nothing without love.

Let’s read what Paul wrote through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 13, starting with verse 1. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

In verses 1-3, Paul is expressing that love is imperative and superior to all other gifts. Without love as the motive for our eloquence, knowledge, faith, and sacrifice, we are nothing. In verses 4-7, Paul is illustrating the shape of love, what it is and isn’t, and the difference between authentic love and selfish love. Finally, in verses 8-13, he states that love is eternal. There is a total continuity between the love that is expressed here and forever in heaven and its the only gift mentioned that never ends. For our purposes, we will be focusing on verses 1-3 and answer the statement why everything is nothing without love.  

The first point Paul addresses is that eloquence without love is annoying. Look at verse 1. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” Paul here uses intentional exaggeration to say that even if He knew all the languages of the world and could speak as eloquent as an angel, but was not motivated by love, then he would be as empty, unharmonious, and useless as a noisy gong or clanging cymbal.  As you know, cymbals only sound good in the context of a musical piece along with many other instruments. In the same way, if someone speaks eloquently, but they have not love, it sounds terrible.

A couple years ago a friend and I started an apologetics outreach at the University of Louisville. Our desire was to convince Atheist intellectuals that the Christian worldview was historically accurate, scientifically defendable, and philosophically compelling. For 8 weeks, we blasted them with arguments for the existence of God: the cosmological argument, the moral argument, teleological argument, and ontological argument (briefly explain).

One night, we were having a heated debate and a skeptical student got very angry with us. He was a linguistics major and the most intelligent college student that I had ever met. He looked at the Christians in the room, had tears in his eyes, and made this statement: “If you truly believe that I am lost, that I will burn in a fiery hell forever, then don’t just win me over by arguments as if I am some competition, but act in love like your Jesus and then I might believe.” I was shocked for two reasons. First, the most intellectual atheist didn’t care about the arguments as much as how we treated him. Second, I realized that my supposed zeal to reach the lost, to fulfill the great commission, wasn’t because I wanted Jesus to be magnified but so that others would see how smart I was.

The saddest part about this story is that a few weeks later my friend wrapped up his last discussion defending the existence of God and whispered to me afterwards: “Man, we demolished their worldview.” Fortunately, God gave me grace to see my own blindness, repent, and recognize the truth to this famous saying: Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care!

Christian, what is the motive of your heart? This is what the Lord looks at. Are you memorizing the Bible so that you can look good in front of others or because you love to learn God’s Word. Are you motivated to learn evangelism skills to argue or because you desire to persuade people to believe in the gospel? Are you coming to church so that you will be approved by others or are you coming to church because your Savior is being worshipped here? I trust that the latter is true in all these cases!

The second point Paul addresses is that spiritual insight without love is nothing. Look at verse 2. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. The gift of prophecy here is the ability to know mysteries and to gain knowledge. In the Bible, a mystery is a truth which is at least partially revealed, but not fully understood. According to Paul, the meaning of marriage was a mystery. Now we know the truth about Christ’s union with His church is illustrated by Christian marriage (Eph. 5:22-23). In Genesis 3, God promised to crush the head of the serpent. Now we see that this is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who defeated Satan at the cross. The union of Jews and Gentiles in the church was a mystery in the Old Testament. Now, Gentiles are adopted into the covenant through the blood of Jesus Christ. Paul says that if he had all this knowledge plus faith to remove mountains, but had not love, He would be nothing. I find it hard to believe that someone can have all this knowledge and still stay humble enough to have faith that can remove mountains. Paul is using these extreme examples to show us the utter importance of love.

William Booth was a British Methodist preacher who founded The Salvation army in 1865. Booth was known for preaching repentance and salvation to the poorest and most needy, including alcoholics, criminals, and prostitutes. He had a large organization and began sending missionaries around the country. On one occasion, a group of women missionaries were sharing the gospel, informing unbelievers about the death, burial, and resurrection. They were explaining the Bible from the beginning to the end. The women missionaries became frustrated because these people did not get converted. They were praying diligently and teaching the Bible the best they could. Out of frustration, they sent a letter to William Booth and asked him what they should do next. William Booth responded to the letter and sent it right away to the women missionaries. When they opened up the letter, they only saw two words: “Try tears.”

Christian, let me ask you. Are you weeping over your family members, coworkers, and friends who are lost? Do you desire to see them here with us today, rejoicing that Christ has paid the penalty for their pride, lust, and anger? In Romans 9:3, the Apostle Paul had such a heavy heart for the lost that he said: “For I wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people.” This is a powerful statement that can only be produced by the Spirit of God, who grieves for the lost world. I pray that every time we pick up the bible, attend a Sunday service, volunteer at VBS, or read a theologically heavy book that our heart’s desire would be to love God and our neighbors with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

The third and final point that Paul addresses is that Sacrifice without love gains nothing. Look at verse 3. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Here, Paul is not addressing a specific spiritual gift but he is demonstrating to his audience that even great personal sacrifice without love gains nothing. It may be assumed that the ultimate sacrifice is made, either by giving up all of one’s possessions for the sake of the poor or giving up one’s life on the mission field as a martyr.

Paul, however, does not grant this assumption as proof for great love. People can give away possessions for any number of reasons, and some of those can be self-serving rather than sacrificial. I can give away money to charity so that I receive a better tax return or give all my possessions away so that others will think I am a great person and esteem me. Not only does Paul say that giving all possessions without love is worthless, but even if one dies as a martyr, if its not motivated by love, they gain nothing.

A martyr is one who dies for their religious beliefs. It originally meant “witness” because the early Christian witnesses were often persecuted or killed for their faith in Jesus. Now, God is not calling for believers to purposely seek out death. Jesus even told his disciples: “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.” However, we must be willing if necessary to lose our lives for His sake. If someone joins the military, they train to be prepared to die in the service for their country, but that doesn’t mean they will be put in a situation where they will die. In the same way, Christians are in a spiritual battle and are to be prepared to die for the Lord, but they shouldn’t actively seek for it. If they do, they will be tempting God, motivated by self-interest rather than a love for God’s glory.

Christian, let me ask you. Are you sacrificing your tithes and offerings to the church out of guilt rather than with joy and thanksgiving? Are you sacrificing your time, energy, and money to your kids out of obligation or because you love them? When you go on a mission trip and put your life in danger, are you doing it for your own pleasure or because you desire to see Christ glorified among the nations? God isn’t concerned as much about our outward behavior, but the inward motive of our hearts.

You may be asking, how then can we possibly possess this type of love? You can’t. That is why we need the gospel. The gospel is the good news that God saves sinners. See, man is by nature sinful and separated from God without any hope, but God, rich in His mercy and grace, provided the means of man’s salvation in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The word gospel literally means good news, but to understand how good it is, one must first understand the bad news. When man fell in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:6) by their willful disobedience towards God, they were separated and every part of man, including his mind, will, emotions, and flesh were corrupted by sin. Man is now hostile towards God (Rom. 8:7) and their every desire is to love evil rather than good, resulting in man being eternally condemned in Hell. It is in Hell that man pays the penalty of sin against a holy God. Without any solution to this problem, there would be no hope for humanity. However, God in His mercy and grace, provided a solution, a substitute for our sins, Jesus Christ. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become righteous. He paid the penalty for our sins so that we could restore our fellowship back with God. Because God has made a way for sinners, He calls all of us to repent (turn, have a change of mind), of our sins and trust in the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8).  Those who believe in Christ (Rom. 10:8) are not only saved from hell but also given a new nature, a changed heart, and a new desire and attitude to worship and give glory to Almighty God (2 Cor. 5:17). It is God who regenerates us from death to life by giving us His Holy Spirit. When a believer repents and believes in the gospel, they will produce the fruits of the spirit and be known for their love.

Jason Tuskes was a seventeen year old high school honor student and was close to his mother, disabled father, and younger brother. Jason was also an expert swimmer and enjoyed to scuba dive in his free time. One day he left home to explore a spring and underwater cave near his home in Florida. His plan was to be home to celebrate his mother’s birthday. However, Jason became lost in the cave. In his panic, he got wedged into a narrow passageway. When he realized that he was trapped, he shed his yellow metal air tank and unsheathed his diver’s knife. With the tank as a tablet and the knife as a pen, he wrote one last message to his family: I love you Mom, Dad, and Christian. Then he ran out of air and drowned. A dying message–something communicated in the last few seconds of life is something we can’t ignore. God’s final words to us are etched on a Roman cross. They are blood red. They scream to be heard. They too, say, “I love you, and this love from God should be the foundation of our love too.”

Jesus’ Final Words on the Cross

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(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. A Word of Mercy: The prayer for forgiveness to the Father – “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Lk. 23:34). Think of a family member, friend, or co-worker that has wronged you. Take practical steps to either pray, write a letter, or sit down and show them the mercy that Christ has shown you.

2. A Word of Grace: The promise to the criminal confessing sin – “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise” (Lk. 23:43). This example reminds us that the most vile of criminals can be saved from God’s wrath. Don’t grow weary sharing your faith because in due time, God may convict and save the hardened individual you are witnessing to. This statement also gives us hope that the sufferings of this present world will not be worthy to compare with the glory that is to come.

3. A Word of Compassion: The conversation with His mother – “Woman, behold your Son! Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!” (Jn. 19:26-27). Jesus demonstrated His love towards His biological mother, reassuring her that everything is okay. As Christians, it’s our privilege to inform and comfort others, reminding them that God works together for good to those who are called according to His purposes.

4. A Word of Anguish: The cry of separation from the Father – “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (Mk. 15:34). The mystery of this separation communicates the vileness of sin. When Christ died in our place, The Father turned His back on the Son and unleashed the wrath of God. However, it pleased Yahweh to do this because it was the only way for mankind to be reconciled to a Holy God; for Christ to be the propitiation (atonement) for our sins.  Meditate on this truth for a moment. God was willing to separate Himself from the greatest love, His own Father, to redeem sinful men and women like ourselves. This should resort in singing praise to His great name!

5. A Word of Need: The acknowledgement of thirst to the soldiers – “I thirst!” (Jn. 19:28). This specific reference indicates that Jesus was not only fully God, but He was fully Man. He had the need to drink something because of the agony He was experiencing was real. How does this theological truth help you understand the nature of Jesus Christ, the God-Man?

6. A Word of Victory: The cry of victory to the world – “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30). The Lord promised shortly after the fall in Genesis 3 that He would crush the head of the serpent. He pronounced the truth that the Kingdom of Heaven has overcome the domain of darkness. Since we are on the winning side, what should our attitude in life be?

7. A Word of Trust – The cry of deliverance to the Father – “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit” (Lk. 23:46). The last sentence that Jesus uttered showed the unwavering trust He had with His Father. He knew that the Father would rescue Him and highly exalt Him. When your final breath comes, are you confident that your spirit will enter the presence of God? I hope so!

Reference: John MacArthur The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Nelson Publishers, 2005), p.1260.

The 7 Miracles of Jesus

Ivan Aivazovsky's painting Walking on Water (1888)

Ivan Aivazovsky’s painting Walking on Water (1888) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Jesus turns water into wine (Jn 2:1-12). At the wedding in Cana of Galilee, Jesus alters the chemical composition from water to wine. This miracle reveals Jesus’ glory and power over creation. It also symbolizes a key component of His ministry: The replacement of the old order, the water of ceremonial cleansing and the temple, with the new wine of salvation and the risen Lamb as the new temple (Is. 25:6-9; Rev. 21:22). How does this truth change your perspective of God’s glory?

2. The Son of Man heals an official’s son without even going to see the body (Jn. 4:46-54). This miracle reveals that God is not limited by geography, but is present everywhere (omniscient). He was able to heal the Nobleman’s son at the exact hour the request was made. Moreover, this event reveals Jesus is not only reaching out to the Jewish people, but despised people who are less than kosher, including a Samaritan adulteress and here a Herodian official (Jn.4:1-54). Are you reaching out to the people who are despised by the world and offering them the Good News like Jesus, or are you afraid of what others might think?

3. The Christ heals a crippled man on the Sabbath (Jn. 5:1-17). The miracle shows that Jesus isn’t limited by time but is always working. He is all-powerful and never subject to growing weary or tired. The religious leaders were not happy that Jesus was healing on the Sabbath. They believed it conflicted with the law of Moses (Ex. 35:2) so they attempted to stop Jesus, but He responded to them: “My Father is still working, and I am too.” What does this passage teach us about the dangers of legalism?

4. The Messiah feeds 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish (Jn. 6:1-14). This miracle once again demonstrates the power and authority Jesus has over creation. He is able to call down bread from heaven and give daily sustenance to thousands of people. More importantly, Jesus teaches His disciples by this event that He is the “bread of life” and the source of nourishment, both physical and spiritual.The Bible informs us that if we seek Him with all our heart, He will be found (Deut. 4:29; Jer. 29:13; Matt. 7:7). How often do you seek the Lord to receive nourishment?

5. The King of Kings walks on water (Jn. 6:16-21). This account communicates the importance of faith and the control of Jesus over nature.  He is not limited by physics, but was able to supernaturally defy the laws of gravity. Moreover, biblical scholars view this narrative as instrumental in asserting the divinity of Jesus to His disciples and the turning point for the remainder of the gospels. When Jesus got into the boat they worshiped and said: “It is true that You are the Son of God” (Matt. 14:33). At what point did you come to the realization that Jesus was more than a prophet, wise man, or good person; that He was God in the flesh?

6. The God-Man heals a man born blind (Jn. 9:1-41). This miracle is only reported in John’s gospel. This story exhibits that Jesus brings light into the world, both physical and spiritual. When Jesus spoke to the people, He said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12). When the light of life comes into your life, it produces healthy fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). Do you have the light of life or are you still walking in darkness, following the lusts of the flesh, the devil, and the world?

7. The Savior of the world raises Lazarus from the dead (Jn. 11:17-44). The miracle of raising Lazarus is the climax of John’s “signs.” It displays Jesus’ power over the greatest foe of mankind: death. All of us will inevitably face this giant, but the good news is that even death is no match for the Son of God. Are you looking forward to the second coming of Christ, when Jesus will come down from heaven, with a loud command and the trumpet call of God to resurrect our bodies from the dead? (1 Thess. 4:16) From that day forward, every sorrowful tear that we shed will be vanquished and the peace that surpasses all understanding will pervade throughout eternity. Praise Him!

The Wise and Foolish Builder

Christus in the storm on the lake; Rembrandt (...

Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete (Lk. 6:46-49).

I recently read the nursery fable The Three Little Pigs to my son. As you recall, the mother reluctantly sent her three sons to each build their own houses, warning them to be watchful of the big bad wolf. The first pig didn’t take her mother’s advice seriously. He built his house quickly out of straw, and when the enemy came he easily destroyed the foundation. The second pig was wiser. He built his house out of wood. However, this was no match for the big bad wolf. Similarly, he “huffed, puffed, and blew the house down.” The third pig was wisest of them all. He built his house out of brick. When the enemy came to kill, steal, and destroy, he didn’t have enough power to blow down the foundation. He was safeguarded from the enemy because he heeded his mother’s advice. 

The gospel informs us that we have many enemies who want to destroy us like the big bad wolf. Our greatest enemy, Satan, is no fable but a real enemy that roars around like a lion, seeking whom to devour (1 Pet. 5:8).The story of Job is an example of a righteous man receiving all the assaults of the devil, but standing immovable because his foundation was laid on solid rock. When his own wife told him to curse God and die, He said, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” When being falsely accused by his own friends, Job continued to maintain his integrity. This is because of his trust and obedience to God.

When the storms of life come, whether it be Satan, false accusations, financial troubles, loss of a loved one, fear of losing your job, are you laying your foundation on the solid rock or are you trusting in your own strength? Jesus is the solid rock, the all-powerful Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. He is able to endure your hardships so cast all your cares and anxieties on Him because He cares for you (1 Pet. 5:7). His burden is easy and His yoke is light (Matt. 5:11). He doesn’t promise to take away the storms of life (notice both the wise and foolish builder are confronted with the storms), but He does promise to be your comforter and help you grow in perseverance and godly character through fiery trials (James 1:2).

2 Practical Steps to building a Strong Foundation

1. Meditate on God’s Word and memorize Scripture. When a difficult situation comes, repeat the bible verse Psalm 18:31 “For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?” This will remind you to obtain wisdom and power through Him.

2. Get involved with a local church. The body of Christ exists for the purpose of sharpening one another’s faith. Jesus told Peter that not even the gates of Hell can prevail over the church. The church also helps us keep one another accountable. If we try to follow Christ alone, we will not be as effective. It’s like trying to study a foreign language by yourself without taking a class. Most of us need the accountability of a class to actually learn a new language.