Triumph in Christ

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

People in Paul’s day would’ve known about triumphal processions. When a king or some other leader won a notable military victory, the whole city would come out to celebrate him and his troops as they returned home. All kinds of ceremonies and rituals took place to proclaim their victory, and among them was the practice of burning incense. The smell of the incense told the people in the crowds and neighboring streets of what was being celebrated, whether they could see the celebration or not.

Live to Please God

“For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.” 2 Corinthians 1:12

Someone once said, “If you live to please people, misunderstandings will depress you, but if you live to please God, you can face misunderstandings with faith and courage.” Have you ever been misunderstood by others because of something you said or did? I know the times I have been misunderstood it has caused me to toss and turn all night long. It appears the apostle Paul experienced some sleepless nights as well. Some in Corinth misunderstood what Paul said regarding his plans to visit them, leading them to accuse him of using fleshly or worldly wisdom.

Pieces of the Puzzle

“Jesus said to them, ‘Have you understood all these things?’ They said to Him, 'Yes, Lord.’” Matthew 13:51

The question Jesus asked, “Have you understood all these things?” can also be translated, “Have you rightly put all these things together?” As we’ve been going through the parables, we’ve learned the disciples didn’t understand everything Jesus taught them. The same can be said of Jesus’ disciples today. The reason many lack understanding is because it takes a great deal of time to put all the pieces of the parables together. To fully understand them you must take pieces of the Old Testament and fit them together with pieces of the New Testament.

God of All Comfort

“Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer.” 2 Corinthians 1:6

It’s easy to read about Paul’s missionary accomplishments and the trials he overcame and think he was a superhero of some kind. Compared to him we may feel weak or lazy, but throughout all of Paul’s letters he points attention away from himself and onto the life of Jesus that lives in him. In essence he tells us over and over, “This isn’t of me. Jesus confronted me and changed me, and I encourage you to do the same because it has made all the difference.”

Addicted to Love

“Let all that you do be done with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

We have come to the end of 1 Corinthians and what an end it is. During our time in this letter we have learned that the Christians in Corinth were more about the scene than they were about the King. They had great teachers and experienced all the spiritual gifts, but they lacked love. It was their lack of love that caused envy, strife, and division in the church.

The Parable of the Pearl

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that the had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46

Have you ever felt like a little piece of sand being tossed around a giant troubled sea? Well, that is because according to this parable, you are. You are a little piece of sand, but the good news is that you are being changed into a precious pearl.

Worship Leads to Works

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

When we are reading the Bible it is important to remember there were no chapter breaks in the original manuscripts. Last week we covered 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul focused in on the resurrection, the last trumpet and the victory over death we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. The chapter concluded with the verse above, which is an exhortation from Paul to enter into true worship. True worship is much more than an emotional experience, it is when the Spirit of the Lord is so present in our lives that we give ourselves entirely to Him and strive to always be abounding in the work of the Lord.

New Year New Body

“The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Good morning NCL Church family,

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We missed you last Sunday, but we had a great time in Alabama and Tennessee visiting family. Church is back on this Sunday and it just happens to be Potluck Sunday so bring your favorite dish to share and invite a friend or family member to join us for a great day of fellowship.

Deconstructing Christmas

The word “deconstruct” means “to break something down into its separate parts in order to understand its meaning, especially when this is different from how it was previously understood.” Last Sunday Tyler deconstructed the first Christmas. He took us on a step by step adventure and it was glorious. We saw prophecies being fulfilled. We saw the angel of the Lord shining in the glory of God saying, “I bring you good tidings of great joy.” We saw that this caused an eruption in heaven and a multitude of heavenly hosts praised God and said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

An Imperfect Home for a Perfect Savior

“And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.” Luke 2:16-17

Christmas is in 12 days, which means we are in the thick of the Christmas season right now and everything that comes along with it. Shopping for presents, getting our travel plans together and worrying about how we’re going to handle family drama is swirling around us, and all we can do at this point is hope and pray it all works out. Maybe we’re dealing with that sinking feeling in our stomachs we often get during Christmas time where we feel depressed or anxious about our current situation. Maybe we’re frustrated because our lives seem to be falling apart and it feels like God doesn’t notice.

Born to Die and to Rise

“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” 1 Corinthians 15:12

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King!” Without a doubt this is one of my favorite Christmas carols, but what if it wasn’t true? What if the virgin birth was just a myth? What if Jesus didn’t save His people from their sins? What if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead?

The Proof of the Gospel

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and He was buried, and He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” 1 Corinthians 15:3b-8

The revelation of who Jesus was and what He accomplished was not disclosed to one person only, but to hundreds. Paul was even so bold as to publish specific names of people in order that they would all be able to corroborate each other’s testimonies. He was not appealing to some vague or strange group of people, but to real people who had nothing to gain from claiming they had seen the resurrected Christ. Not only did they have nothing to gain, but also everything to lose. In fact, some would go on to lose everything, even their own lives, as a result of their testimony.

A More Excellent Way

“But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 11:31

If you have been wondering what the more excellent way is since last week’s message, don’t worry because I won’t keep you wondering any longer. The more excellent way is love. Paul began his letter to the Corinthians saying that even though they were experiencing all the spiritual gifts (1:7), they lacked love. And it was because of their lack of love that envy, strife and division entered into their church body. It must have been a glorious morning for Paul when he picked up his pen and began writing this powerful passage on love.

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for the joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

It is important to take note that the last three parables Jesus shared are different from the first four parables He shared. The first four parables were given to the multitude while the last three parables were only given to the disciples. This means the final three parables are meant to bless those who believe in Jesus because they reveal what He is doing through the church during the period between His first and second coming. The first four parables spoke of corruption in the kingdom of God, but the last three parables speak of how highly Jesus values the people of His kingdom.

The Church Universe

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:13

When Paul declared we “have all been made to drink into one Spirit,” the Greek verb he used for “drink” was also used in his day to describe irrigation. The implication here is that when we drink into the one Spirit, He enters our innermost being and begins to work in us much like water in the ground of a garden. A church is like a garden. We all need the same water to remain alive, but just because we live off of the same water doesn’t mean we are all meant to produce the same food.

Manifestations of the Spirit

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant.” 1 Corinthians 12:1

We have now come to a new section of Paul’s amazing letter to the Corinthians. I would like us to keep in mind that the key verse of this letter is 1 Corinthians 1:9: “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” In reality, this is not only the the key verse of this letter, but is also the key verse of the Christian life. The key to the Christian life is walking day by day, moment by moment, in fellowship with Christ. Our strength comes from Jesus being the center of our lives. He is the abundant life He came to give us.  

Come Together

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:26

I believe the last part of this verse is a neglected part of communion. Oftentimes during communion we focus only on Christ’s death and resurrection, and we don’t bring attention to His promise to return to rule and reign and redeem all of creation. Communion is also referred to as the ‘remembrance meal’. Of course during communion we are to look back and remember what Christ did for us at His first coming, but we are also to look forward and remember that He is coming again. We will not need to partake of communion forever. There will come a day when we no longer have a remembrance meal because we will be in the eternal presence of Jesus Christ Himself!

The Parable of the Leaven

“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” Matthew 13:33

Last week I stated that the parable of the mustard seed is the most misunderstood and misinterpreted parable of Jesus. Well, I may have misspoke. I believe the parable of the leaven may be even more misunderstood. There seem to be two main opposing views of this parable. One view is that the leaven is a symbol of good, teaching that the gospel will permeate the entire earth until every human is saved. The other view is the opposite. It teaches that the leaven is a symbol of evil. Obviously, both interpretations cannot be correct. So, which one is correct?

Heavenly Head Coverings

“Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions as I delivered them to you.” 1 Corinthians 11:2

Almost every time I hear the word “traditions” I think of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof singing “TRADITIONS!” For many Christians today this word has negative connotations, but it appears Paul is praising the Corinthians for keeping the traditions. The Greek word for “traditions” is “paradosis” which means “that which is passed along by teaching”. It is used in a negative way in the New Testament when it refers to man-made ideas or practices, but it can also be used in a positive way as is seen in the verse above and also in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 where Paul wrote, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.”

Stepping Stones

“I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10:33

In his commentary on 1 Corinthians 10, Paul Barnett wrote, “Paul wants fellow-Christians to be stepping stones to faith in the God of Israel and His Son, the Messiah Jesus. Under no circumstances does he want Christians to be stumbling blocks to faith.”