Friday, December 31, 2010

2 Corinthians 9

 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, He will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous.  So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers ... will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.  And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.  Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!

God gives abundantly...
God inspires within His people generosity...
Gifts are given in honor of God 
        yielding gratitude and glory to God
which causes the grace-recipients to pray for the givers with "deep affection".
And this is a gift "too wonderful for words".  Wow.  

The only requirement is to be a good steward of God's blessings and to freely pass them on in obedience to Him.  The parts I can mess up is the stewarding and the passing on. I am to be always generous as He is always providing and increasing His supply to me.  Back to the stewarding...

Father, help me to be faithful to Your trust, to hold loosely what You entrust to me and to send it on in the condition You desire that You may be praised and glorified.  Please help me to always be grateful and to pray with deep affection for those who have passed on to me what You have entrusted to them for me. 

2 Corinthians 8

v. 12 ...And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.  Hence, when I give...service, time, relationally, gifts must come from what I have...not from what I don't have and not from what another has.   

We can only give from what we do have.  Another way, you can't give what you don't have.  So, be free with what you have (remember, it came from Him anyway), and don't be concerned with what you don't have.  God already knows what you have and don't have.  He is not wigged out about what you don't have, nor should you be.

v. 21  We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable.

This speaks to me of the extra measure of accountability we should have in our lives as believers.  We strive for being honorable and respectable before God (and praise His name, He knows what we mean); but to have that concern to be transparently honorable in front of others.  This is not to impress nor indict others; but to continue in the good confession of faith.  Being consistently honorable is not a light thing.  After all, it is not to mediocrity that He calls us and we should be content to display that attitude in all that we do.

I praise Your very great Name for strength and wisdom for the honorable journey, contentment in the giving from what I have and peace in the working out of the whole process in my life. You are worthy of obedience and obedience yields the peace I seek.

2 Corinthians 7

2 Corinthians 6:16c

As God has said:
   “I will live with them
   and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
   and they will be my people.”
 17 Therefore,
   “Come out from them
   and be separate,
            says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
   and I will receive you.”
 18 And,
   “I will be a Father to you,
   and you will be my sons and daughters,
            says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 7

 1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

We are promised that God will live with us and walk among us, He will be our God and will receive us if we become sacred to Him.  He will be our Father.  The Lord Almighty will be my dad.  And because we have these promises, we want to perfect holiness out of respect for the One Who gave us these promises, the One Who can keep the promises.  The God Who walks and lives and receives us.  The God, Sovereign of the Universe, Who calls us sons and daughters.  What a small response in view of what He does for us.  Creator, Savior, Maintainer, God, Personal God, Father...

Help me Father to perfect sacredness in answer to Your very great attentions toward me.  You are Majesty, Purity, Holiness...You are my Guide and my Reference.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2 Corinthians 6

God is offering a marvelous gift of kindness and grace...not a reward nor a payment.

I don't deserve it, I can't earn it, I can't win it.

It is marvelous, amazing, incredible.  I cannot manufacture what this gift is.

I need this gift - desperately.

However, I can ignore this gift...I can receive it to no purpose...I can waste this gift.

This gift can wind up like basil leaves in my fridge left too long...this gift can be received and ignored to the extent that only my garbage can is enriched.
I could end up without any benefit of having received the gift.

Am I ignoring God's marvelous gift?

Would I choose to trash a gift of grace from the Only God?

Lord, let me not despise a present from You.  
Keep me from ignoring anything You have for me.
  Let me receive and realize all that You have for me.  
Let me glorify You in, through and by Your gifts to me. 
Help me to encourage others to not ignore Your gift to them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

2 Corinthians 5

Sincere heart versus spectacular ministry...

Both are hard work...both require great devotion, emotion...both change lives...
But the focus is possibly different as Paul references them as one or the other.  The Amplified Bible says that there are those who pride themselves on surface appearances [on the virtues they only appear to have], although their heart is devoid of them. So the difference simply stated is what is versus what appears to be...Who is honored...who is glorified...sincerity versus spectacle.  Sincere leads to me making less of myself while I make more of God.

I must choose whom I want on the center stage of my life, who will get the spotlight, the accolades, the applause.  Who has top billing?  Am I a jealous understudy?  Am I truly content and confident to be a key grip rather than the star of the show...After all, it's not my show, my theater, nor my publicity that matters.  Will I graciously feature Another rather than trying to steal the scenes of my life?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2 Corinthians 4

THEREFORE, SINCE we do hold and engage in this ministry by the mercy of God [granting us favor, benefits, opportunities, and especially salvation], we do not get discouraged (spiritless and despondent with fear) or become faint with weariness and exhaustion....For God ... has shone in our hearts ...the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah)....However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves....For all [these] things are [taking place] for your sake, so that the more grace (divine favor and spiritual blessing) extends to more and more people and multiplies through the many, the more thanksgiving may increase [and redound] to the glory of God.
    THEREFORE we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day.  For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!],

Since we have the Ministry of the Spirit, we do not give up, get discouraged or bail out for God has let us in on His glory through His Son Jesus Christ.  As mere mortal partakers, we are so obviously un-God-like that His glory in us, to us and through us shows to be His and not ours which yields more grace to more people causing more gratitude for more God-glory.

Since the Kingdom is spiraling up in God-glory, grace, citizens, gratitude and God-glory...we do not give up, get discouraged or bail out.  This steadfast attitude is despite the suffering, persecution, hardship, discomfort and decay endured by the physical being as the trauma and drama of this life does not compare to the everlasting and glorious spiritual future...which is where we look rather than at our circumstances.

Paul states the we don't give up because of the Ministry of the Spirit and the grace and glory which the Ministry (in us, to us and through us) is accomplishing.  The "giving up" is not an option...not "we try a bit harder" nor "we take some time off and give it another go" nor "rethink the course".  Paul says no giving up.  

The scenarios he describes are terribly worse than the reality of my life.  He and those first century faith-folk, (my spiritual relatives), did not give up.  Fact.  Why, then, am I so given to despair?  Insecurity?  Going AWOL?  None of that is an option.  They spoke because they believed.  And it was for the benefit of others.  What do I do that is for the benefit of cost to myself?  Some of their receipts from life showed that they were pressed on every side by troubles,  perplexed, hunted down, knocked down, under constant danger of death for others gain, (myself included).

God, help me not want to despair or bail out of the plans you have for me.   Help me not try and get answers or solutions from the world for scenarios You have destined for me.  I've read about the banks and companies which were bailed-out and see how people talk about them with scorn and even recognize that ownership has been transferred (all the while, it seems the actual problems have not been solved).   Holy Spirit, please keep me from running to man's wisdom to relieve the pressures, troubles, questions, pursuits, prejudices and dangers that I might not transfer any ownership or allegiance of myself to another nor seek to circumvent situations which have been designed to bring You glory, display Your grace, expand the citizenship of Your Kingdom, cause great thanksgiving to You and repeat.  I am accepted in the Beloved, Who was scorned and died for me...let me live it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

2 Corinthians 3

For if the Ministry of Doom had glory, how much more infinitely abounding in splendor and glory must the Ministry of Life be that produces and fosters righteous living and right standing with God!  Indeed, in view of this fact, what once had splendor [the glory of the Law] has come to have no splendor at all, because of the overwhelming glory that exceeds and excels it [the glory of the Gospel]. For if that which was but passing and fading away came with splendor, how much more must that which remains and is permanent abide in glory and splendor! ...And all of us,... [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.

We really ought to be a very shiny people.  Not the aluminum foil kind of shiny; but the full-moon kind.  All of the glory and splendor from the Ministry of Life we have and are being changed by from "one degree of glory to another"  should be reflecting a tremendous amount of  bright glory back to the Father.  If we aren't shiny in this dark world which is being administered to by the Ministry of Doom - how will they ever see the Light of Glory, Christ Jesus?  So, no gibbous moon reflections; but a full, harvest moon to see by and that reflects the Light of the Son.  Especially that the harvest times may continue beyond the light of day.

Shine on, my spiritual siblings.  

2 Corinthians 2

When I preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord opened a door of opportunity for me.  But I had no peace of mind because my dear brother Titus hadn’t yet arrived with a report from you. So I said good-bye and went find him.

A wide-open door for the spread of the Gospel, and Paul couldn't concentrate on the opportunity because he was concerned about the Corinthian family.  Sin had occurred in their camp, Paul gave direction on how to handle it, and he is so affected by the outcome that he seems to bail on a crusade situation.  Sin doesn't just matter to the one who does it.  Sin impacts everyone; even those who have no idea who you are.  

The sin-choice in the Corinthian church was still bearing sin-fruit (cost) this much later and to people from another city that had nothing to do with that situation.  Who missed out because of one man's act?  

~ Jesus, I am so grateful that You paid for my sin; but what an unimaginable price you paid. Thank You so much.  Holy Spirit of God, help me to realize just how serious sin is, MY sin is -  how significant purity and holiness are.   To comprehend that a single act of my defiance, passion or uncontrolled emotion could adversely affect any one else is unsettling.  Let me be disturbed. Grieved. Moved enough to seek the high road of holiness.  Let me default to Your protocol; because You are Right and True and Worthy of my obedience...especially when I don't think it matters.

Paul was also so very compassionate about the group of believers in Corinth that he held them accountable to the very obedience he charged them with.  He didn't call them out and move on; he showed them the Truth, showed them the excellent way, gave specific instructions and gave them time to comply.  He followed up with forgiveness-oriented words, for God's trajectory is for unity.  Paul was so overwhelmed with a burden for their well-being that he walked away from a seemingly prime situation in order to know about them.  What a picture of devotion.  He could have been cultivating new disciples in Troas; but he was not done with nor had he forgotten the disciples in Corinth.  What a loving, patient, responsible and nurturing act to see them through the whole thing.  

Lord, help me to be that concerned for the Body; to not have my "say" and move on. Rather, to call a thing by name (the name You call it), show Your Truth, and be available for the accountability of the follow-up.  You didn't cut bait with me; You died for me.  Let me be as willing to put my life out there for another.  Thank You, too, for those whom You have empowered to speak into my life and to call me to "spiral-up" in sanctification.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2 Corinthians 1

~We felt we had been sentenced to death (because of the extreme circumstances)

~ but that was to keep us from trusting in and depending on ourselves 

~to ensure we trusted exclusively in God Who raises the dead

As a result ...we have depended not on our own human wisdom

~but on God's grace, in our conduct before the world and especially toward you.

The extraordinary emergencies experienced, the stabs at killing them, the malicious and mercurial threats to their lives for that season in Asia worked to their advantage as they learned to trust exclusively in the Only One Who has power over life and death.  They could not positively impact their circumstances by their own strength, wits and will; but in the perils they faced, this group learned that God Alone is worthy of complete trust as He Alone can raise the dead, and dead is what they expected to be.

The huge pressure taught them to disengage from their own knowledge and ability while locking on to God's provision.  In this way, their conduct was dependent on God's grace and not their flesh (which had been subdued).

It's always about the uncomfortable and how I hate being uncomfortable.  Stop and consider the disagreeable circumstances I find myself in do have purpose to divorce my allegiance to the world and this flesh that it might be rightly united to God.  I trust Him for my life and look to Him for my eternal security, why not gaze at the grace of God rather than this vexatious view?  Leave the human wisdom behind and embrace the fear of the LORD and His omniscience.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Acts 20:7-38

behold, bound by the Spirit ... not knowing what will happen to me there,
except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me... saying that bonds and afflictions await me. 

Bound to the Spirit, who says Paul will be bound up and tortured if Paul follows the leading of the Holy Spirit, Paul continues on the Spirit's path.  Paul is determined to finish the course laid out for him to earnestly testify to the grace of the gospel of God.   

Paul makes no light thing of his servitude to God; Paul does not know what is ahead, only that persecution, bondage and affliction are major components of his life.  He also knows that he will never see his precious faith family from Ephesus again.  And on he goes.  

Paul was given the cost and counted it certainly worth paying...even unto suffering, anguish and long as he could finish the ministry the Father had assigned finish well and to have loved well.  

In considering my Kingdom contribution (my life's work), is my focus on a well-finished course or on the bumps on the road?  Where am I exiting at the warning sign of difficulties rather than remaining alert to glorying in Christ, persisting in my faith, being courageous and loving extravagantly?  How am I connecting(being vulnerable, being safe for others) enough in my life-assignment that I would shed tears over the people I love and they for me?  How will I yield to the direction/correction of the Holy Spirit that I might make the changes necessary to be known as one who finishes well?

1 Corinthians 16

13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14 And do everything with love.

The theme of love wrapping up every gift of service continues.  In another version, Paul's words say "Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong".  Be alert - in love, stand firmly placed in the faith - in love, be full of courage and act like men -  in love, be strong - in love.  Be a warrior ready for battle; but in love.  

These seem like oxymoronic commands.  Armed and dangerous; but acting in love.  When you consider his words from verse 9, for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries, the war admonition is much more understandable.  Perhaps the difficult part is the love.  Do it all in love.  Remembering the prime directive of God's love going out to the world through His Only Son, Jesus Christ, love again makes sense...but how to braid the two opposing themes for a path of honor?  

An adversary of God exists.  All that God is and desires, that adversary despises and wants to possess or destroy.  What God desires is for humanity to love Him the way He created them to love Him and to love others like they love themselves.  Adversary and love...the objects of God's love are commanded to love; but because we are the focus of His love, we are in the cross-hairs of the adversary's targeting system of annihilation.  So, be empowered, ready and intelligent; persist and contend for the faith, be audacious and undaunted with your enemy and regarding love.  Don't be foolish with your devotion or battle-preparedness.

These questions come to mind:  am I careful to not confuse the adversary with the beloved?  How do I prepare to stand strong for the Truth?  How do I ready myself for battle everyday?  How do I ready myself for love everyday?

1 Corinthians 15

We are reminded of the historical facts of Christ's death and resurrection, the witnesses to the events and His post-resurrection visits.  Paul continues with the reminder that since Jesus Christ was resurrected, so, too, will the believers in Christ Jesus be resurrected from the dead.  We are charged with examining ourselves to see what we are believing.  We are tantalized with the mystery of the resurrection and what it will truly be like ~ as we now know only in earthy part.

Paul's conclusion  to his dear faith folk is to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

Admittedly, the topics he covered are a bit difficult to understand; the order, the look, the mystery of the resurrection.  But the twin admonitions to be clear on what we believe and to be encouraged in our enthusiastic service to our precious Lord as we are confident that it counts are quite plain. 

How am I examining myself to ensure that I am relying only on the complete work of Jesus' sinless gift of life, His death as payment for my sins and His resurrection from the dead...and none of me?  In view of this, His total payment for my life at the cost of His life, how motivated am I in service to Him?  Does what I do for my Messiah reflect my gratitude or my obligation?  Where do I demonstrate ardent, devoted, red-hot enthusiasm in my work and favor to the Lord?  How do I display my time with and for God as an audience with the King of the Universe and not a daily grind?

1 Corinthians 14, hope and love; the greatest of these is love...Let love be your highest goal!... But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them...But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.

Love and prophesy, all done in an orderly way and must have the effect of mutual empowering and heartening.  

From in the church, I can say I understand this; but if I were looking in the church and without background from the church...this would be a bit freaky to me.  I follow the love...all you need is love...well, not quite; but the greatest of faith, hope and love, the things which shall last forever, is love.  Love covers a multitude of sins, love bears all, love...good.  

So prophesy...that means...from the New Testament Greek Lexicon...

  • to utter forth, declare, a thing which can only be known by divine revelation

  • to break forth under sudden impulse in lofty discourse or praise of the divine counsels
    1. under like prompting, to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, comfort others 
    2. speak forth by divine inspirations, to predict 
    Love and to declare a thing...maybe a point of understanding or comfort, a correction or an admonition which has been divinely revealed (something you couldn't know on your own but has divine origins)...with the goal of encouraging, establishing and fortifying the faith-family.  Not to tear anyone down, in the name of love.  Not to embarrass nor castigate a soul because someone else received an "inspired word".  

    This doesn't mean I can't joke or relate a story; but in terms of the speaking from under a God-prompting...its criteria is to build up and weaken nor disarm.
    The measure is does it prosper, invigorate or improve others?  How does my love, my speaking or both promote a holy growth in the group?  Check the motive and see who is being made strong or uplifted by my actions.  If they don't pass the strengthen and love protocols, maybe they should be neglected.  

  • 1 Corinthians 13

    The Excellence of Love 

    If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge ; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 

    I am a noisy, clanging gong, I am nothing, I am without profit if what I do is done without love.  I submit that it must not be self-love.  No matter how good or kind or thoughtful my gift  or word is, nor how pleasing and generous it is...without love, it matters not, it is counts not and I am annoying by doing it.  

    I am reading the chapter of love on the day that I go to a funeral of a friend.  She died unexpectedly and without symptom of illness one night.  She kissed her husband goodnight and awoke to the Master's caress.  That is amazing for her; but in the wake of her absence...what can I say or do for her family?  The challenge is how to wear the love.  I don't wish to be a noisy cymbal in life and certainly not at a funeral.  

    I am certain that as we gather to honor her, it will be her love that is remembered ... her service and devotion to others, all done from her love for God and her love for others.  And, truly, is that not what we wish for... to be known for our love.  

    So the questions I am asking myself are:  What does my life show that I love?  
    What do I love?  How do I love? And do I live out the rest of the description of love as I live? 

    1 Corinthians 12

    Each one has a gift from the Spirit that will accomplish the purpose He intends.  But what if you just don't understand how your gift works or what "benefit" you bring to the body.  Referencing my gifting of mercy, I struggle with the purpose of the gift of tears.  Just what does that do?  How does this encourage or edify?  I can't be trusted with areas of great need for I know that I just want to help the hurting stop.  My "mercy" blinds me to where tough love must come into play.  I understand the manifestation is for the common good; but I just don't see goodness coming from me or my "contribution".  Unless we buy stock in Kleenex.

    I feel like I am whining; but I am not wishing for another gift...I just want to operate in the fullness of who He created me to be and to utilize the wiring He gave me.  I know there must be a place or purpose; but in my life, I haven't recognized it. I have prayed and continue praying that God would teach me the ways He would have me operate for His glory...and still I cry and cry and that really doesn't do anything. 

    I have come to see that often my heart leads my head and I make decisions that I would cringe for my children to make.   I have learned that I must be listening very carefully to hear the Spirit direct me, else it could be disastrous.  I am still being scolded by a friend for a ride I gave to a stranger from the side of I-95...of course, I am grateful God took care of me; but at the moment, I was wanting to help and being naive...I pulled over. 

    And the flip side of this thing, is I am so very tenderhearted.  God is growing me up; but He still has to talk me down from many an insecurity situation, (I do know that my significance is from Him, really!).  Then, I am concerned about how things are received by others...when someone says something, it just plays back in my mind about how another could have taken it.  An example is someone said something Sunday which triggered a response in me causing concern for how two people (I don't even know) in particular and a few others in general may have taken it.  That sat on me (and still is).  I prayed for the right effect to be received, for the one who spoke (who I know meant no ill), and for God to be glorified in that.  Now, why on earth would someone else's words be able to have that effect on me for others?  And it's like that all the time...

    So, maybe I will go and read your post and all of this will clarify for me.  ...  It was encouraging to continue praying and to have another acknowledge the responsibility to receive and implement; but I still feel like I am stuck at the box...without assembly instructions.

    1 Corinthians 11

    Numbers 6 describes the protocol for taking a Nazirite vow~growing out one's hair and not cutting it until the the end of the vow.  I suggest that this would mean that a male having long hair would be alright for this purpose.  In Acts 18, we saw that Paul shaved his head according to Jewish custom, marking the end of a vow...perhaps a Nazirite vow? But it seems he had some unruly hair...maybe a tad too long or perhaps biker-long (depending on how long his vow was); but the cutting was significant as it relates to the vow.

    From what I can understand, ladies from that time and culture did cover their heads as a sign of modesty, a tradition which endures today in some areas and cultures, (i.e. Orthodox Jewish, married women, Muslim females).  I searched for "head" in the Bible and  in over 400 references did not find, apart from our chapter 11, a specific command to cover a woman's head.  Similarly, I found a few references to shaving heads which seemed to be a shameful thing or a thing done to demonstrate a captive state.  Following are a few verses which I submit for your edification and information, (from NASB).

    When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it, and she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out the window. 2 Kings 9:30.  (not recommending this example)

    "O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle.  Psalm 140:7  (It is God Who did the covering)

    Hear my son, your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching.  Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head  Prov. 1:8-9  (Their wisdom grace your life and lead you to success when you keep to their instruction)

    (Acquire wisdom...) She will place on your head a garland of grace ; She will present you with a crown of beauty."Prov. 4:9  (wisdom brings triumphant grace and a beautiful reign in your life)

    Blessings are on the head of the righteous, Proverbs 10:6  (Result of being righteous (what God does yields what God gives))

    For you will heap burning coals on his head...  Prov. 25:22  (ouch)

    He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head ; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.  Isaiah 59:17  (This is Messiah's description)

    "But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face...Matthew 6:17  (specific instruction to us...for fasting...look good and healthy while you fast...stay cleaned up and presentable)

    Perhaps Paul was addressing that culture trends and traditions are okay but the focus must be on honoring God the Head of All, Christ the Head of every man and man the head of a woman.  If we were in a middle-eastern town, quite probably the females would be dressed much differently than we do here.  Culturally, we would engage with the dress code - as long as it did not offend or prove indecent.  We sort of do that here in our coastal Florida area, as we do not typically dress as formally as our counterparts do in more northern and non-coastal regions....flipflops, anyone?  Additionally, it seems the style was for men's hair to be short and neat, women's hair to be under control and maybe wrapped (there is a verse about a unloosing the hair of a woman suspected of infidelity...).  Also, men were to not cover their heads in church; (Sunday, I was behind two men who came in during worship when we were standing, one of which was wearing a hat...I noticed that he quickly removed the hat and held it for the remainder of the service.)
    Paul also says for us to "judge for ourselves" and "... if anyone wants to argue about this, I simply say that we have no other custom than this, and neither do God’s other churches." 

    I understand this to mean that it is okay to dress in accordance with the local customs.  Yet, Paul emphasizes not being disgraceful or dishonoring, too.  So, that takes me to the part where we are created in God's image and for His glory and Paul says  man "is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man."  God does not judge by external appearance; but He sees the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  In thinking about all of these verses of truth, these questions now beckon me for consideration: 

    How am I catering more to culture and less to Christ?  Do I adorn myself like a servant of the Most-High or a patron of Macy's?  With whose chains/labels am I most obviously branded?
    Am I letting trends and traditions speak louder to others than my relationship with Christ does?
    What consideration to I give to honoring my Lord in my dress and my inward attire?

    NASB Psalm 45:13a  The King's daughter is all glorious within...the princess's beauty originates from within her - not from what she wears or shows.  Her cultural relevance is not the King's consideration...His comment is on the " all glorious within"....the inward attire of grace, peace and love.  Especially in this season of insanity, I need to focus first on the how I dress my inward person.

    1 Corinthians 10

    31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. 33 I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.

    In doing "it all for the glory of God", Paul does what is best for himself.  He also does what is best for the others that salvation may that seems to still be in accord with doing it all for God's honor and glory.  When his focus is on bringing honor and glory to God, he is served and others are as well.  Not mutually disagreeable or incompatible scenarios; but magnify God = his best=others best=salvation to many=glorifying God= Paul's best= .....

    How am I cooperating with the Holy Spirit to better tune me to His signal for that spiritually-symbiotic spiral of success?
    Do I really consider that bringing glory, honor and praise to God is in everyone's best interest?
    As the admonishing examples of the olden days of Moses are listed, they describe physical activities which impact or manifest the spiritual settings of the people.  How am I careful to not crave evil things or substitutes for God's provision and Presence?  Grumbling, complaining, idolatry (anything which usurps the God-setting of my life in time, emotion, consideration, investment), pagan revelry (uh, oh....Christmas season....Frosty and Christmas lights, decorations and parties, endless lists of must-do's and want-to-do's, shopping, preparations, etc. ) are some of the warnings he gives. 
      Father, help me glorify You today.  Holy Spirit make Your priorities mine and empower me in thought, word and deed to accomplish that which You have for me to the glory of my God.  Jesus, You squeezed into skin that I might be liberated in spirit...let me appropriately live all for the glory of God, without offense and for the saving of many, many others.

    1 Corinthians 9

    ...we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. ...I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast...I have not used any of these rights that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. ...If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward;...What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.

    Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. ...No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

    I will begin with I am confused and it gets worse.  Join me if you dare.  Enlighten me if you will. 

    What I have read is that Paul is all out for the gospel and sharing it.  He does it all without taking anything for it; even though he could easily be taken care of or compensated for his time and efforts...especially among those he has personally ministered to.  His reward in preaching is that he can do it free of charge and not utilize what he is fully authorized to access (support and resources).  He also says that he must preach the Gospel as he is compelled to do so; but it seems that he does so voluntarily and not to just "discharge a trust."

    So, the beginnings of my quandary are that Paul appears to be boasting in his ability to preach without needing help...I don't see this, as he referenced earlier, as knowing nothing but Christ and Christ crucified.  Instead of seeing everything through the cross, it seems a bit pretentious to me.  But if the boasting part is removed, (and the "I would rather die than have someone take this boast from me" portion), I  get that he is pleased to not be a burden to the little flock-stations he is responsible for.  Very commendable and instructive.

    Then he discusses his freedom a bit more in that he becomes a slave to everyone to win as many as possible.."all for the sake of the Gospel that he may share in its blessings" this seems like a bit more of a reward than just speaking without a love-offering.  He says that he is completely devoted to winning the race and willing to meet the physical demands it requires.  He is content to pay whatever that price that after he has "preached to others, he will not be disqualified."  I guess, I need to know from what will he be disqualified.  He speaks of the race and running so as to get the it the triumphant spread of the Gospel?  If so, how would he be qualified or disqualified by that...I thought the Lord Jesus qualified him on the road to Damascus.  Would it be salvation?  But that's not right, either....

    So,  I don't quite follow.  I also went into chapter 10 and it did not clarify for me.  So, what exactly is Paul concerned with losing? or losing out on?  Why is he seemingly so arrogant and hung on what he has done ( I did read this in a couple other translations and they did not settle it for me) and I know that is not his heart from his other words (where he does become like those he is around...which may be what inspired Hudson Taylor in China, shaving his head and growing a back-braid, donning Chinese attire and a teacher's robe ~laying down himself that he may better relate to those where he was...or maybe they both followed Jesus' example when He slipped on the body of flesh as He was made in the likeness of man).  Paul is giving instruction and answering questions in this letter, I remember; but I don't understand the lesson or question he is aiming for here.  I am certain there is one simple key that will unlock the door to my understanding; but sometimes when I read Paul's words, I feel like I joined him in mid-air and I can't get my parachute to deploy.

    1 Corinthians 8

    13 So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat
     meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.
    So, if what I ________ causes another believer to sin, will I never 
    again __________ as long as I live - because it truly is that important
    to me to not cause another believer to stumble? 
    This is in answer to a question the Corinthians had, I am 
    wondering about the types of things we question or talk about today...
    drinking, smoking, colorful language, R-rated (or worse)movies, mature
    games, clothing styles, debt, tatoos, magazine subscriptions or just 
    issues, tv programs choices, etc.  
    But just what do I endorse to others when I "like" certain things or 
    get excited about a show that I would not care to watch with Jesus or
    the Apostle Paul, (and why do I think that Jesus would be easier to 
    sit with than Paul? sorry, butterfly). 
    What do my habits and examples speak about my beliefs to those who may
    be struggling with a serious problem of _______?  
    How am I misconstruing God's call to holiness by living too freely in
    my knowledge? What price am I willing to put on my freedom - would it
    be another's believer's destruction?  I hope not.
    Holy Spirit, please give me a heart for my spiritual sibling's safety.
    Please help me to be passionate for a holy life so that I am not tied
    to anything in this world at the cost of sinning against my precious 
    Savior nor causing injury to a "weaker believer".  I thank You, God, 
    for providing me with mature believers whose righteous behavior and 
    choices have helped keep me from falling into destruction.  Help me 
    to not grow lax nor lazy in this regard. I am Your servant not my own.
    I just read Troy's and Lori's posts.  Their responses combined with 
    how the Spirit spoke to me begs this question of me:  What will I lay
    down of myself in order to build up another, to the glory of our Savior? 
    I can't build anything while I am holding on to a bunch of stuff and rights.

    1 Corinthians 7

    Marriage is the title of this chapter and for some twisted reason, my mind went straight to the marriage ceremony in The Princess Bride.

    Maa-wiage, maa-wiage is whut bwings us togever toooday.... 

    Sorry.  I enjoyed it.

    So, in the middle of all of Paul's marriage-speak, he states that we should not be enslaved by the world as God has paid a very high price for us.  Further, he admonishes us that "Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them." ,  " I want you to be free from the concerns of this life.", and" I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible."  He also states that some of the marital/not marital instruction is not a command from the Lord; but rather his advice, albeit from God's Spirit... 

    Now, regarding marriage, well, that song has already been sung in my life (and it is a good song =+}  ); but I am challenged in my life generally (and still, quite specifically) to not become enslaved by the world as I am a bond-servant of Christ.  I am to resist the pull of the world and to be vigilant with regard to the distractions in my life...(I'm in trouble, look a butterfly...).  A simple life allows me to be a better servant of God, daughter of the King, wife to my hus-man, mother to precious children, and etc.

    Paul, also, models godly advising here. "But the Lord in his mercy has given me wisdom that can be trusted, and I will share it with you."  Where he has obviously had a great deal of thought on this subject, he is living out what he recommends (with regard to singleness) and he is addressing folks in a particular situation, " Because of the present crisis, I think...".

    The questions that now hound me are:

    To what in this soon-dissolving world am I attached?
    What cooperation am I giving to another master?
    Why am I complicating my life with stuff and nonsense and trivia?
    Am I willing to seek godly counsel?  Am I willing to submit to godly advice when it rings true with God's word, despite my self-satisfying tendencies?
    How am I preparing my lifestyle and disciplines to endure a "present crisis"?
    Do I keep in touch with those godly and wise people in my life that they may be informed and free to speak to me when and where I need?

    Oh, Gracious Lord Who has paid such a high price for my pitiful self, give me eyes to see where I am playing Gomer with another master.  Refine my appetites that I may be addicted only to You and making You famous in my life.  Let my pride-ish ways yield to humility, receptivity and accountability when wisdom is given me by a godly counselor (husband, pastor, teacher, friend, child or even a donkey ~as Your wisdom is not limited by the vessel).  Give me creativity and strength to use my rebellion to fight off the allure of this present world.  You alone are worthy of worship, obedience and praise.  I need You to make that as an immovable filter in my lifestyle.  May You be magnified in my generation though my mouth, life and priorities.

    1 Corinthians 6

    Cheaters and "greeders" are on par with idolators...none will have their share in the Kingdom.  The same judgment = no.  This is huge as our culture propagates greediness and materialism with the marketing, elitism, and even technological "demands".  Cheaters have clout and not much shame.  Sometimes "greeders" are cheaters...Bernie Madoff.  Or maybe it's that all sin is done by a greedy heart.  Cheaters  often have many willing co-conspirators...Tiger Woods.  But as Pastor Troy has pointed out, how many times do you need to cheat, be greedy, lie, kill or  _______ sin before you are a cheater, greedy person, liar, killer or ______-er?

     In this "gotta-have-it-all" world and "can't-get-enough" country, I am confronted with the fact that a greedy heart or a cheater heart is no different from an idolatrous heart...the outcome is no part in the Kingdom of  Heaven.  Then the admonition to not become a slave to anything couples with this and , whoa...I am free.  I am freed from many pressures and protocols of what I have learned to do.  I do not have to have the latest __________ or collect a single ______________.  I don't need an HD- anything nor a Hybrid other thing.   I can freely correct my server when my bill is under what it should be, be confident in paying my taxes (every penny), tip well, truly stop at each stop sign, etc.  because I am a Kingdom girl whose heart is united with the King's.  It's His list that matters, not Macy's nor Good Housekeeping's nor even Martha Stewart's.  It is His pleasure I seek not my neighbor's, my government's, nor my own.  I am free to love as He directs me as I am not burdened or enslaved by the trappings of this social order or Apple's latest revelation.  I don't have to stand in line hours before a store opens or "friend" people on social networks because I know that my significance lies, not behind a door or number of "friends"; but at the foot of the bloody Cross and my power comes from the same Power that caused the tomb to be emptied in the redemptive three-day weekend.  God kept decay from His house; can anything I can be greedy or cheaty about offer the same promise?

    I have been cleansed, set apart, and made right before God, by God, I have been joined with God in spirit...I must not become a slave to anything and I must glorify God, honor my Heavenly Father, with my physical being.  I am to be a living sacrifice to God, as He has bought me at a great and awesome cost and I am His as a result.  I must not be a slave to this world or anything in it.  My spiritual settings will greatly aid my physical patterns, thereby allowing me to glorify my God.  As I recognize the freedom I have to not be tied to this world, I will travel much lighter on this pilgrimage of life.  Just like when I was overseas, where many locals could tell I was not from their country by my very demeanor and responses, let it be that I conduct myself as a Kingdom princess rather than a mere the praise of my King. 

    Oh, let my heart make me homesick for Your Kingdom.  Give me eyes to see Your glorious Kingdom as it overlays the physical landscape and courage to prevail as Your daughter during the travels You give me through this earthen village.  Please glorify Yourself.

    1 Corinthians 5

    11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.

      11But now I write to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of [Christian] brother if he is known to be guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater [whose soul is devoted to any object that usurps the place of God], or is a person with a foul tongue [railing, abusing, reviling, slandering], or is a drunkard or a swindler or a robber. [No] you must not so much as eat with such a person.

    This is a non-eloquent example of Paul's teaching (just say no) and where it hits me is that in order for me to know if my cohorts in Christ are guilty of immorality, greediness, idolatry, abuse, drunkenness, cheating is for me to know my cohorts and for them to know me. I am feeling a bit vulnerable, now.  We must be involved with the other pilgrims on our journey so  we can discern how the talk matches the walk and they can know my walky-talky ways, too. This goes beyond a clinical, x-ray sort of knowing, I think...we can't just scan them and make the determination...we must poke, probe, and ask questions of each other. 

     It doesn't say to love them out of their sin or intervene and rescue them.  It doesn't direct continually pouring into them in hope of  healing that might soon be there (cuts that co-dependant/enabler thing right out of the equation).  God's living and true Word says to not associate with them and to not even eat with them, (I know that hospitality was akin to godliness in the ancient east's lifestyle (even for pagans), so to refuse to eat with another was a huge charge to the believers).  So, you must know and be known by a person, let your walls down, experience the tenderness for another that comes from being created in His image, and potentially cast him/her out from among the body...for his/her own good and ours.

    So, this sinful person, in terms of the body, may have been a big toe, an elbow or maybe just a hangnail; but it still hurts when you cut off part of your body.  And there will be a crippling of sorts if he/she had been a big toe or elbow.  If a hangnail he/she is, perhaps just a great deal of relief; but a wound still needs tending, cleaning and healing to stay the infection.  There is an aftermath of such an event.

    So my response is that I must be open to my cohorts in Christ, I must know and be known by them, I must be careful to mourn the sins and not to make room for the sin to be natural, acceptable or welcome (not become prideful because we have a ____-ministry that has no confrontation of _______ sin),  put on my "spiritual big girl pants" and prayerfully follow through with God's word, (no, not become a one-person, sin-vigilante seeking to pop out any that fall afoul of what I think...but follow God's leading and the direction of the leadership of the church to seek and to save...).  This does not say to continue to display love in the affirming fashion; but to display love in a pure, God-honoring and responsible fashion that exhorts one to the righteous living he/she has professed.

    Thanks for letting me work this out, because I struggle with the confrontational aspects of this life - not that I don't believe God and His Word, for surely I do, more so everyday - but I am not outfitted for the confrontation naturally (definitely not a mouth or foot).  I am probably more like an appendix, not sure what my role is in the body; but I am definitely in there somewhere.

     Jesus, Wisdom and strength are Yours.  Salvation comes from You and You alone.  Holiness and purity are ascribed to you.  Please lead me to follow Your Words, enable me with Your discernment to walk wisely and talk in integrity.  Open my mouth when I need to that I might keep from approving of sin and thereby wrongly affirm its acceptance and possibly affirm a salvation not of You.  Holy Spirit, convict Your people that sin may be as distasteful to each of us as it is to You.  Help us to walk and talk consistent with our (Your) righteousness, that we may be tools of conviction for Your glorious Kingdom's sake.

    1 Corinthians 4

    20For the kingdom of God consists of and is based on not talk but power (moral power and excellence of soul).
    20 God's Way is not a matter of mere talk; it's an empowered life.

    God, I desire that excellence of soul which is displayed in my life as I yield to You and am empowered by You.  Let me not be one who talks and talks and never walks in power.  I desire to be a fully-functioning Kingdom resident as I engage in the earthly life You have entrusted to me.  I wonder how differently would Jesus live my life ~ how would Jesus be a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, a sister...and I struggle with how far I am from Your Ideal.   Without Your power I cannot  productively strive towards the essence of virtue and excellence; with pride, arrogance and self relentlessly rearing their heads in my life and priorities (like moles in the Whack-A-Mole game) I am unable and probably unwilling to receive Your favor and Your wisdom.  God I need You.  I can't do it without You.  Only by Your grace do I even desire to seek You and receive from You.  Help me to encourage my brothers and sisters on the Way as they are examples of the empowered life.

    1 Corinthians 3

    Paul concluded the previous chapter with the statement that we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart. Paul  now charges the believers with not having grown up in Christ, as being  too immature to understand spiritual teachings.  Later in this chapter he says,  "Do you not discern and understand that you [the whole church at Corinth] are God's temple (His sanctuary), and that God's Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively as a church and also individually]?"
    It appears that there was a major disconnect between their salvation and their sanctification.  The believers were content to be saved; but not inclined to devote themselves to growth nor to receive the truth and operate as the holy dwelling of God-Spirit. Consider again the opening of 1 Corinthians 1: 
        2To the church (assembly) of God which is in Corinth, to those consecrated and purified and made holy in Christ Jesus, [who are] selected and called to be saints (God's people), together with all those who in any place (this is us!) call upon and give honor to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
        3Grace (favor and spiritual blessing) be to you and [heart] peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
        4I thank my God at all times for you because of the grace (the favor and spiritual blessing) of God which was bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,    5[So] that in Him in every respect you were enriched, in full power and readiness of speech [to speak of your faith] and complete knowledge and illumination [to give you full insight into its meaning].

    It's as if Paul is reminding them of what they should have already known and been living.  Somewhere, they weren't understanding nor discerning their significance in the Kingdom. It seems they were pleased to sign up in the recruiter's office; but did not wish to show up for Basic Training.  My consideration is where am I resting more in my Savior and less in my Lord? What areas of my spiritual life are being eclipsed by the mediocre and generic impulses?   Where am I ignoring the grace and enriching Christ has supplied me?
    They were described as ordinary, unchanged men and under the control of ordinary impulses.  This gives me pause to contemplate on the origins of my impulses?  Are they just standard or are they supernatural? What change will I make to grow in supernatural inclinations and let the mundane grow dim (I loved David's picture from earlier)?

    One waters after another plants; all the while God makes it grow, makes it greater and gives the increase.  Father God is the One who prepares the soil, supplies the seeds and the water and gives life to the plant.  He brings the increase.  I am to be a faithful planter and waterer.  My job requires that I have water to spare and seeds to sow. How am I trusting in God to bring the increase?  Am I faithful in the sowing and watering? Do I stay strongly connected to the Source of Living Water and the Seed-Giver so I am in constant and ready supply?  When am I sowing and watering?

    Lord, my prayer is that You cause me to grow up in Jesus.  Please keep me from being hung-up on the ordinary aspects of life and help me to delight in the supernatural life You have provided for me.  Bend me according to Your glorious specifications for Your glorious Name's sake.

    1 Corinthians 2

    Paul came desiring to know and teach only Christ and Christ crucified. Those that received and believed that message of Who Jesus is and what Jesus did were added to the Kingdom and welcomed the Holy Spirit Who lets believers in on the deep things of God and the amazing things God has freely and abundantly given us. We can acquire and understand the spiritually discernible things because we have the mind of Christ within us.

    We can enter into and go deeper and higher in spiritual matters because of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Not because of man. Paul was a wreck when he came to them; but the work was accomplished because of the Holy Spirit's effort  which conferred on Paul the necessary power and abilities to activate and enliven the minds and hearts of his audience.  The Holy Spirit was the causative agent of the salvation response, Paul was the weak and trembling vessel utilized.  The Holy Spirit was the nitro-glycerin to Paul's cracked Pyrex beaker.

    4And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit and power [a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them],

    5So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men (human philosophy), but in the power of God.

    Watchman Nee's The Latent Power of the Soul points out the Biblical truth that we were created in God's image...very powerful, versatile and creative image. Think back to what Adam was tasked to do...God did not think the directions He gave Adam were too much for him, so obviously, Adam was "man enough" ~ because of Whose image he had been created in. (just like us) While sin corrupted the man; the design was still there...God's image, with all the power and creativity and ability, latent in the soul. So man can do great things, by design. The problem is if they are not done on God's direction and in His manner, then they don't count (wood, hay and stubble) or they count against us (sin) which was held against Christ.

    Paul appears to have
    subdued his soulish-strengths by seriously downplaying his elocution and persuasive aptitudes; perhaps to give the Holy Spirit the spotlight on a dedicated stage.  Maybe Paul was experiencing groupies and by removing his natural capabilities from the instruction, he allowed a better revelation of the Lord and the Lord alone.  Now, I don't believe Paul was not prepared for the teaching nor do I mean that he didn't give his all for the time; but I am merely wondering if Paul operated from a weakened state or outside of his comfort zone in order that the Holy Spirit might be the only Star in that season.  So that the hearers' faith would be in the power of God and not a slick presentation from a worthy orator.  Paul knowing and functioning from Christ and Him crucified does not leave any room for Paul and his ego.  The mind of Christ directing a most capable and eloquent speaker to allow a demonstration of the Holy Spirit  and His power, rather than an opportunity to work his own talents and gifts.  Much less is made of Paul that much more may be made of God.  And the results were valid, true conversions; not emotional responses which would be discarded at the first show of discomfort or persecution.

    My challenge is how am I operating from a Christ and Christ crucified position in the dailyness of my life?  Paul came that way in order for the power of God to stir the minds and hearts of those he encountered.  How am I yielding the stage of my life to allow the Spirit to take center stage and be God to those I come across everyday?  Where do I let the power and prestige of God show through the cracked beaker of Tami?  I know that I, as a believer, need to experience God-Spirit and His power everyday, how much more does the world need to see Him displayed that it may taste and see that the Lord is good?  Why don't I plan into my day the extra time for the Spirit to operate through me for others, instead of going from point A to B to C...plan a few minutes just to be the beaker at each place.

    1 Corinthians 1

    ... by Him (God) you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. God has united us with Christ, who is Wisdom and Christ has made us right with God, pure, holy and free from sin.  In that unity with Christ in wisdom, thought and purpose, we are to live in harmony and be perfectly united in our common understanding and in our opinions and judgments. (No, that doesn't mean we all must like chocolate, tea and football.  We are joined/thoroughly combined with Christ and our wisdom, comprehension, holiness, purity, response to sin...our participation with Christ is the unity.  Not the individual qualities of preference and taste.) There are to be no dissensions or factions or divisions among us; we are not to be divided by different alliances to various teachers/mentors. Is Christ (the Messiah) divided into parts? Of course not.  We are all in Christ  the Undivided and Indivisible for God's gift of unity has place us there.

    The word I received from this is to be careful not to rob unity by contributing to idol-worship of favorite Bible study teachers or worship styles.   How can I better display and contribute to unity in the body...a full meal of the Bread of Life and Living Water rather than a-la-cart dining with the Bible teacher d'jour or the Top 40 Praise Hits of the week?  Where am I giving personal preference greater accord than the Holy Spirit?  I am challenged to be much more intentional in inviting God to join me and the Holy Spirit to teach me and lead me into make sure God is integral to my time...rather than to withhold my participation because the venue is not my best choice.  My participation has been established with Jesus Christ my Lord...and I have been 
    established to the end [He will keep me steadfast, give me strength, and guarantee my vindication; He will be my warrant against all accusation or indictment so that I will be] guiltless and irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). 
    For Christ (the Messiah) sent me out not to baptize but [to evangelize by] preaching the glad tidings (the Gospel), and that not with verbal eloquence, lest the cross of Christ should be deprived of force and emptied of its power and rendered vain (fruitless, void of value, and of no effect).  The power of the Cross is neither the presentation nor the prestige of the speaker.  The power of the Cross is Christ and Christ resurrected...the Truth, the holiness, the love, the redemption.  Father, make me ravenous for You and Your word so that I am pleased to grow in You and Your Wisdom in any way You delight to use.

    Acts 19-20:6

    From verse 5, the disciples who were willing to be baptized again in the Name of Jesus spoke to me of a humble willingness to be accurate and complete despite what they did not know.  They did not  trust in their experience or learning as disciples when answering Paul; but were eager to receive what the Lord had for them to do in obedience.  I found it interesting that at this point they received the Holy Spirit as Paul laid his hands on them...they were baptized and then  or as they were baptized they received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The whole step of obedience was taken before the gift was given.  They had the faith beforehand; but the working out of that faith is when the Spirit became theirs.  Am I willing to receive from my teachers an exhortation that results in a working out of my faith, or would I rather just agree with them and not be moved?
    From verse 11:  And God did unusual and extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul,...this just struck me as one of the funniest things I have read in the Word.  I mean, really, God did unusual and extraordinary miracles...does God have an "ordinary and usual miracle list" He normally performs; but this time He kicked it up a notch?  The same God who made all Heaven and earth from nothing, the Lord who gave 10 plagues to hard-hearted Pharaoh, the Lord God Almighty who defeated an ancient city with some trumpets and marching.  The Amazing Salvation Author who let His Son be squeezed out of a human womb, when all creation cannot contain Him?  The same Heavenly Father who let Jesus be potty-trained and learn to walk then save all of humanity with His perfect gift of life?  The One and Only One, Transcendent, Perfect, Holy, Just, Only Wise God did something out of character for His generic miracles?  I know, it's scripture so it's right and true and from God; but I just giggled when my FatherGod says He did something unusual.  There is nothing usual about my God!  So for Him to declare it to be out of the box, then I know this is not a way He should normally be known.  Thank You God for Your diverse and unexpected manner of teaching me.  I bet Paul was blown away by Your display of You.  I can't imagine.  I praise You also that how You did what You did still had the goal of spreading the Fame of Your Name and bringing healing to people.  Lord, give me eyes to see Your Unusual and Extraordinary works in and around my life that I might make You famous in my time.

    15...But [one] evil spirit retorted, Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?  Even the demons know God is One and believe and shudder. (James 2:19)  The enemy does not need to be told Who Jesus is.  But do I operate in the full knowledge of Who Jesus is and what He has done for me?  Help me, Lord to stay in touch with You and what You have for me that I might not be tempted to borrow someone else's ministry.  Give me eyes to see my purpose for Your Great Name and plan.    16Then the man in whom the evil spirit dwelt leaped upon them, mastering two of them, and was so violent against them that they dashed out of that house [in fear], stripped naked and wounded.  John 10:10  The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.  The enemy is really not nice.  He deceives us into not being too impressed by him or by thinking he is not a big concern; but he desires to assail against us violently, strip us down to nothing and comprehensively wound us.  Lord help me to operate from the place of Your authority  You have given me and not from a comparable way of someone else's example.  Let me learn and respond from You.  Keep me teachable that I may witness Your outrageous acts of glory and live in response to Your Word and Holy Spirit.

    Psalm 30

    What I notice about this Psalm are the dichotomies and juxtapositions of God and girl.  I am so far away from God but for His coming close to me.

    You, Lord have lifted me up, drawn me up and not let my enemies be over me in rejoicing,  so I, in response, will lift You up. Your anger is temporary; Your favor is for a lifetime, Your favor is life.  My weeping was last night, joy is on the way.  Your obvious favor establishes me so I won't wiggle about; but Your hidden face greatly troubles me and causes anxiety.   I cry and make supplication for You to hear, have mercy, be gracious to me and to be my Helper. You turn my mourning ways into celebration dancing, my grief for gladness.  I cried, You healed me, brought me up and kept me alive. 

    I will exalt You, L
    ord...the Lord lifted me up so I am to uplift Him.
    I am to sing to You and be grateful at the remembrance of Your holy Name.  My song is for Him and my gratitude comes from  responding to His holiness.
    I will give thanks to You forever.  Even though I cry and need help, I am to forevermore express my thanks to the Lord, my God... For God is in Heaven  and He lifts me up, heals me, keeps me alive, gives me favor, brings me joy, establishes me firmly, takes my mourning and is my Lord of the Dance.  I am on the earth receiving His gifts and favor, singing thanks and responding to His grace in my life.  My song better not be half-hearted after all He has done and is doing for me.