Reflection on 1 Corinthians 1:10-18

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+1.10-18

Scripture

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.

Observation

Paul appeals to the Corinthians to be in agreement and be united in one mind and purpose. He is shocked by reports of divisions in the church with people claiming to follow Paul, Peter, Apollos or Christ.

Paul wasn’t crucified for their sins so they shouldn’t be following him. They were not baptised into the name of Paul. His role was not to baptise but to proclaim the gospel. The gospel is the power of God to those who believe, but to those who are perishing it is folly.

Application

The gospel is grace- the grace of God. We don’t have to pay the price of our sin because Christ did that for us,

It offends people who think they are good enough for God and therefore do not need a saviour.

It offends those who see religion as a way of controlling God. How do you appease a God who gives up His right to be angry?

It offends those who refuse to believe in the concepts of sin, holiness and judgement.

It offends those who want a life that is tidy, not a saviour who is covered in blood.

It offends those who recognise the implications of the cross. If God has given all for me, then I must give all for Him.

For those who are being saved, the gospel is the power of God. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”

Blessed are those who recognise their sin and receive God’s forgiveness.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for enduring the cross for my salvation. Thank you for coming into my life and setting me free from sin. Amen.

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Reflection on Isaiah 9:1-4

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+9.1-4

Scripture

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light-

those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them the light has shone.

Observation

The king is coming who will remove the gloom and anguish from the nation; specifically from those in Galilee and the other side of the Jordan.

People who walked in deep darkness have seen a great light. God is going to multiply the nation and make it great again. Joy will flow like the joy of the harvest or the excitement of a victorious army dividing the plunder.

Application

The darkness over the land is deep. We have turned our backs on God, and the darkness is descending and becoming deeper.

We have people promoting every sexual deviancy as special and worthy of honour. Those who disagree are vilified. Marriages break down as people prefer pleasure and convenience to the hard work of valuing and loving another person. Celebrities are accused of abusing their positions, and politicians from every party seem determined to gain advantage for themselves.

The darkness is here. Even parts of the church prefer the world to the word, the darkness to the light.

As deep as the darkness is, the light is greater. As evil as people are, Jesus is able to overcome.

As a distant headlight seems dim but grows into a blinding intensity as it draws near, so the light of Jesus is drawing closer.

When christians pray and speak out the gospel, the light will overcome the darkness, and people will be set free.

Australia will be set free one person at a time. Revival will come, and the light will bring salvation, joy and transformation.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, as I look at our nation I see so much darkness. You are the light that overcomes the darkness. Shine through me, Lord, and let the people around me see your grace and your unfailing love. Amen.

Reflection on Isaiah 49:1-7

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+49.1-7

Scripture

I will give you as a light to the nations,

that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

Observation

The Servant of the Lord was called before he was born. He was commissioned by the Lord. The servant now feels He has laboured in vain because Israel has rejected his message.

But the Lord who called the Servant now says that the task of restoring the tribes of Jacob is too small a task. He will now be a light to the nations (i.e. the Gentiles) so that the Lord’s salvation will be seen to the ends of the earth.

Application

Jesus never set foot outside of Israel, yet His name brings salvation to the whole world. There are christians in every country of the world witnessing to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus told His disciples to go to the world making disciples in all the nations. He said we are the “light of the world.”

As followers of Jesus we take from His light and shine it in the dark places as we go. This means we have to be involved with people’s lives, dark and messy as they can be.

The light is spiritual- the possibility of forgiveness and relationship with God. “The people who lived in darkness have seen a great light”- hope for a different life free of sin, guilt and shame.

The light of God repels some while attracting others. Those who are open to the light of the Lord will be attracted to anyone who carries the light. But those who prefer the darkness will flee from the light.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you that you are the light for the world. Help me to take your light into the dark places today. Amen.

Porn- A Reversal of God’s Plan For Sexuality

From thewardrobedoor.com

7 FACTORS SHOW PORNOGRAPHY IS BAD BECAUSE IT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH

It’s not that bad.That is probably the reaction many have when reading my post on Magic Mike, 50 Shades of Grey and the pornification of women.

I mean, after all, there are many worse things out there, right?

That is absolutely correct, but it is the wrong question to ask. Just like asking how far can I run away from godly purity and it still be OK, it is not the right perspective to ask “What’s the worst bad thing I can do and it not be ‘that bad’?”

The right question to ask is “What’s the best thing?” When we have that perspective, we see things completely differently.

Magic Mike, 50 Shades of Grey and other forms of pornography, be they “better” or “worse,” all pale in comparison to the best thing in regards to sexual fulfillment – God’s design.

Photo from Deviantart.com by Aimee Ketsdever

For many of us, it may seem odd to think about God’s design for sex and His desire that we enjoy it. That may not be a traditional view, but it is a biblical one. If He created us (and He did) and if He created us male and female (and He did), then He created us in a particular way that makes sex pleasurable.

He didn’t have to make human reproduction like that, but He chose to give us this gift for our enjoyment. Being the Creator of it, however, He knew that it would only truly be completely enjoyed in a certain way – within the permanent bond of marriage.

Sure, you can have sex outside of that and it will give you pleasure in some form, but you will not and cannot experience the full sense of joy, peace and love that comes from exercising God’s gift within His design.

In his book, True Sexual Morality, Daniel Heimbach examines sex from a biblical perspective and discovers that certain factors are always present in proper godly exercising of our sexual desires. These seven benefits are facets on the diamond of sexual fulfillment that God has given us.

What makes pornography so vile is that it promises each of these, but can never fulfill any of them. In this way, pornography is the exact opposite of God’s design for sex. It is the most extreme perversion of how God intended us to find fulfillment sexually.

What should sex look like and how does pornography, of all types, miss the mark? Here are the seven components of biblical sex.

1. Personal – God made sex extremely personal. He gave it to the first husband and wife in the garden for them to enjoy together. Sex is made to share in relationship, with that being the marriage relationship.

Pornography claims to meet this need, but instead it enflames lust (not love) toward objects – images, words and thoughts. There is nothing personal about watching someone on the screen. There is nothing personal about reading about a man sexually abusing a younger woman, as is the case in 50 Shades of Grey.

2. Exclusive – In the very way it was designed, sex was meant to be exclusive between spouses. It was meant to be a bond between those two and those two alone.

Pornography, while appealing to this, can never be exclusive. The objects are viewed by countless others. The very fact that it is popular demonstrates that it cannot be exclusive. The woman in the audience of Magic Mike is one of millions of others who saw the men on the screen.

3. Intimate – Sex was designed to be more than just a physical act. It was made to join two human beings together completely. It is to be an act that unites them physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Pornography can say it is intimate, but it is strictly about a physical desire of one person. It is not something truly shared with another person. Even if a couple views it together, it does not increase their intimacy. It invites images of others into their bedroom.

4. Fruitful – God’s design is for sex to bear fruit. The most obvious example of this is children, but that is not the only fruit that grows from a healthy married sexual relationship. A deeper, healthier relationship between the husband and wife is a clear result.

Pornography can produce nothing of value. All it can do is tear down what has been built, be it purity, integrity, honor, relationships, marriages, families, etc. The only fruit it could produce is rotten.

5. Selfless – Sex is intended for spouses to show love to each other. It is meant as something that speaks love and appreciation into the life of the other person.

Pornography often claims that your use of it is good for your spouse in some way. It’s a lie. There is nothing selfless about pornography. It is only about trying to satisfy a personal desire. How can you love your spouse, when your desire is to see someone else naked?

6. Complex – Humans were created as complex creatures. We have emotions, thoughts, dreams and a spiritual aspect to our life. Sex is designed to operate on all the levels of our person. It is so much more than a physical act.

Pornography has no complexity. It can’t. It is images or words on a screen or a page. There is nothing complex about it. Also, it is unable to meet anything but the basest physical desire. It cannot fulfill all of the longings of the person.

7. Complimentary – Sex was created to bring differences together. Men and women are different, not just physically, but in a whole host of ways. In sex the way He intended it, God brings those differences together and creates something new and beautiful.

Pornography has nothing to compliment. It is static and plastic. Fake. It cannot join people together. It can only mar and disfigure what was already there.

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In looking at the list, pornography is the worst of all sexual perversions. It promises everything and delivers nothing. Other sexual sins, while worse in terms of their personal or immediate consequences, at least fulfill one of the purposes for which God created sex. Pornography gives you none.

Our culture’s obsession with it, including so many of us in the Church, must be overturned and conquered. There is only one power man has ever experienced that can triumph over a devastating addiction to pornography – the Gospel.

Thursday, we will see how the Gospel is the only thing that can move us from discouraged addicts of porn to fulfilled disciples of Christ.

Much of the information in this post comes from Daniel Heimbach’s True Sexual Morality, and the pornography position statement by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Reflection on Matthew 3:13-17

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew3+13-17

Scripture

When Jesus had been baptised, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.

Observation

Jesus comes to the Jordan River where John is baptising. John at first disagrees with Jesus’ request to be baptised. “I should be baptised by you,” he says.

John baptises Jesus. As Jesus comes up from the water, the heavens open and the Spirit of God comes down on Him in the form of a dove. A voice from heaven affirms, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Application

The Son of God is baptised by a man, filled with the Holy Spirit and affirmed by the voice of the Father. This passage confirms the doctrine of the Trinity, but it also confirms the partnership that God establishes with human beings. Jesus could not baptise Himself. He voluntarily submitted Himself to the hands of a man.

God rarely acts alone; He chooses to work through people. His Kingdom is not merely the forceful use of power separate from humanity. He achieves His purposes at he hands of people who submit themselves to Him.

The heavens were opened to him” suggests a connection between heaven and earth. The normal barriers that separate the physical from the spiritual are pushed aside. Jesus had full communion with the Father in the person of the Holy Spirit.

We have that same opportunity also as we have the Holy Spirit in us. The heavens are open to me today.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” May the kingdom of heaven be open to me to allow me to fulfil your purposes in me today.

God is still opening the heavens to us. He is still filling people with the Holy Spirit. He is still partnering with ordinary people, inviting them to be a part of His Kingdom.

Prayer

Today, Lord, I choose to believe in an open heaven with all your blessings pouring into the world through me. Fill me with your Spirit. May your will be done through me and in me. Amen.