Re: Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15 (Day Five)
“I passed on to you as most important what I also received…” It was my parents and a 5th grade Sunday school teacher, a soccer coach and “Brother John,” not to mention pastors, friends and even books. I didn’t arrive at a living and active faith all by myself. My faith rests first on the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in me through the gospel and second on the countless followers of Jesus who “passed on” to me what they had “received.” It is a strong foundation on which to stand. Likewise, my ministry rests on the gospel and the churches that have trained and trusted me. I owe to them the “debt of love” that can never be repaid (Romans 13:8). It’s a humility required by the gospel to say, “I received” rather than “I built.” It’s a humility required of us as we remember that someone else sacrificed and served so that we could be here today. It’s a humility that drives us to ask, “Am I sacrificing and serving enough so that someone else can receive?” Thank you Seaside, South Oaks and FBC San Antonio for sacrificing and serving so that I could “receive.” I’m praying for you, Columbus Avenue, that God will “renew your strength” (Isaiah 40:31) as you faithfully carry the legacy of sacrifice and service you have received.

The Truth

Re: Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15:3-20, 35-44, 50-57 (day four)
Paul acknowledges that the words he has written, were given to him (by the Holy Spirit).  In verse 3, he says “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received.”  Verses 3 and 4 are sometimes called the Easter verse…”that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”  These are great verses to memorize…you can deliver the good news in one concise passage!  Paul says if this message weren’t true, we should be greatly pitied.  But it is true!  Christ did die, and was buried, and rose from the grave.  How can our lives not be changed?  Christ gave His life for us.  Out of His great love for us, He gave His life that we could have forgiveness of our sin.  He paid the price for my sin.  My life is His.  The world refuses to acknowledge His death and resurrection…to do so, would require a response from them.  Tell them the truth!


Re Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15 (Day Three)
Then he appeared to James…”  The Lord’s brother James mocked Jesus with skepticism-fueled condescension.  James and others in the family thought Jesus mentally unstable.  Disbelief and disdain marked James’s perception of Jesus.  But then James changed.  One could say that James suffered from such deep guilt or grief over the death of Jesus that he bought into the myth of resurrection.  Certainly some do say this.  But to encounter the writing of James in the New Testament, and to read in Acts of his leadership of the church at Jerusalem is to observe a man living from a position of strength, not a position of sorrow.  As was the case with the whole church, resurrection provides the best explanation of James’s robustness.  The question really isn’t what caused the change; the question is instead: Do you believe the answer?


Handel and Hope

Re: Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15:3-20, 35-44, 50-57 (day two)
Severe truth.  In order to understand the power of the resurrection, we must understand its context. Paul said it in the first century “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14).  In the twentieth century C.S. Lewis said it like this: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic–on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.” (Mere Christianity)

I, therefore, choose to believe that Christ was raised from the dead, and I choose to believe that he was indeed the Son of God.  Which means that Jesus’ choice to face the cross was so that we could become a fulfillment of a promise.  That the corrupt could now put on incorruption, that the mortal could clothe ourselves with immortality in an eternity that brims with hope.  As I read through these words of Paul it helps me marvel once again at what Christ took on so that we could have that hope.

On Sunday it will be a privilege to share portions of the great sacred oratorio Messiah.  1 Corinthians 15 was the subject of the most triumphant portion of the work.  The miracle of the creation of Messiah was less the time it took to create the masterpiece, but the recognition by the composer that God was at work and bringing glory unto Himself.  Thanks be to God.

“This life only” Christianity

Re: Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15:3-20, 35-44, 50-57 (day one)
“If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”  (v 19)  It is subtle.  Dangerous.  A mistake I made for years.  Christianity with a “this life” focus.  Unconscious error.  More emphasis and focus than denial.  I just never took seriously the hope of a real resurrection.  Allowed it to stay fuzzy in my mind. Unsettled.  I hardly thought about it.  Never imagined it.  Not for me or anyone else.   Until one Easter!!!  The Spirit of God  taught me to believe the words of Christ.  “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice, and will come forth; those who did good to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil to a resurrection of judgment.”  (John 5:28-29)  Christianity without RESURRECTION CONFIDENCE is not powerful.  It is (Paul’s word) pitiful and empty.

Vital to the end

Re: Verse reading–Deuteronomy 34 (day seven)
“Death is not the greatest loss in life.  The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”–Norman Cousins   Know anyone who is already dead?  Not physically.  Spiritually and emotionally?  It isn’t inevitable.  All of us die physically.  Death of the dream is avoidable.  “Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated.”  (v 7)  He was vital to the end.  Never gave himself permission to withdrawn or stop hoping or volunteering.  Walking with the Spirit, his attention toward God and kingdom progress was the same as when he was half his age.  Maybe it is the fact that I turned 60 this summer.  Maybe it is all the notices from Social Security and AARP that have been coming to my house.  I am glad for the reminder.  Life in the Spirit is infinite and every believer can be an illustration of this truth.

Seeing a future victory

Re: Verse reading–Deuteronomy 34 (day six)
It must have been like an IMAX.  A brilliant vision of the Holy Land.  “The Lord showed him ALL the land. . .and ALL the land of Judah as far as the western sea.” (v 1-2)  Physically impossible.  Even from a mountain top.  It was a spiritual, supernatural vision.  Moses’ sin caused him to not enter the land, but the kindness of God allowed him to SEE it and feel satisfied that his life’s work would be completed.  Often God’s way.  Most of us run only a short lap of a much longer race (think relay race and a baton pass at some point).  We receive by faith the eventual victory that our sacrifices contribute to.  “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance. . .God is not ashamed to be called their God.”  (Hebrews 11:13, 16)  Is your life contributing to a glorious future victory?

Life with a limp

Re: Verse reading–Deuteronomy 34 (day five)  “I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”  (v 4)  Old story.  Very old.  The wages of sin is death.  Every time.  Death comes.  A door closes.  At the end of life, Moses is experiencing the judgment that came on him in Numbers 2o.  We are shocked by this.  I really don’t know why.  The mercy of God does not exempt us from the consequences of sin.  Not always.  Not totally.  Sometimes the mercy of God comes to us like it did to Jacob.  We find His face, but we walk with a limp for the rest of our lives.  Even prayer, long and real and pleading prayer, could not change the outcome for Moses. ( See Deuteronomy 3:24-26.) Believers experience both the grace and the government of God.  “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”  (Galatians 6:7)

“Dying Before You Die”

Re: Verse reading–Deuteronomy 34 (day five)
“So Moses…died…his vitality had not left him” (34:5, 7). All of us die, but many of us will die before we die because our “vitality” leaves us. The Hebrew word for “vitality” or “strength” refers to a young tree that is fresh and growing. It’s what happens when God’s Spirit inhabits and rules in a person’s life. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). This foretaste of resurrection is evidence of the Spirit’s work of restoration. Not everyone will taste it, however. Some will die long before they die because they have ceased to be fresh and growing. The person who has died before they die is no longer learning, challenging, building, failing, investing, meeting, initiating, risking, loving, giving, reading, serving. Sadly, many will die in this way in their young adulthood having been deceived that there is no more to life. Others will die as they retire feeling that they have done enough. Is there a glimmer of life left? If so, then there’s hope! Don’t die before you die!

Look Ahead

Re: Verse reading–Deuteronomy 34 (day four)
Moses was 120 years old.  He had learned to submit to God and His plan.  Even though Moses’ strength was not abated and his eye was not dim, he did not argue with God about not going into the promise land.  Moses knew he should not argue.  He had questioned God in the past as to why God had done things the way He did (i.e. – why did you send me out here with these obstinate people?).  Now, at the end of Moses life, he accepted that he would not be able to do some things he wanted to do…like go into the Promised Land.  There was no man like Moses.  He had been used powerfully by God.  How do we grow old?  Do we continually try to play younger than we are?  Maybe our health does not allow us to go and do like we used to.  Billy Graham has said, “one thing I can still do is pray.”  Our most important work of our life may still be before us.  Don’t miss it by looking back!