Posts tagged ‘Corinth’

April 18, 2012

What’s Next

by pastortimfowler

I asked my church last Sunday night what they would like to study in the next few weeks. We are finishing up a study on anger and I like to see if they have any ideas that I can turn into a good couple of weeks of teaching. One of the suggestions was the men of the Bible. My wife teaches a women’s group on Wednesdays and they recently studied the women of the Bible. I am sure it was a great study, but I don’t do those kind of studies very well. It would be a great study, but I think I will leave it to my wife and her Wednesday night crowd to handle that. I am not sure what I will teach next.
Maybe I will start a basket weaving class. That way we keep our hands occupied and can take something home with us after we are finished. Everyone likes baskets and few folks nowadays know how to make one from scratch. If we get enough participation we can fill them with Easter eggs next year and sell them to the Easter Bunny.
Whatever I teach next I want it to be something that we can walk away from with an idea of how to do what we were studying. So many Bible studies just give us head knowledge. We walk out knowing something in our minds but have no idea how to put into our lives in a way that others see a difference. I really think that Jesus wants people to see how much we know by the way we act instead of how much we talk. Talking is the easy part.
I wonder what kind of Bible study it would be if we studied how Jesus and His teaching changed the way we act? Would it be a quick, one night study where we all agreed that we are doing fine? Would it be a boring night that is so boring no one will come back? Will it be weeks of talk about how messed up he or she is? Would it be a continual story of all the great things we think that we have done?
The Apostle Paul was an amazing fellow. He often had to talk about his self. When he did it was usually a defense of his calling into the ministry, because he was a very bad dude before he met Jesus or a reminder of the fact that before he met Jesus that he was a very bad dude. Paul said of himself that he was the worst of all sinners. He told people that he was nothing without Jesus and rarely talked about how good he was and never compared himself to others. He never bragged about his church or his group that he hung out with, but rather he bragged about God’s mercy and grace and calling in his life to preach the gospel.
The reason Paul talked like this is not because he spent time studying the deep secrets of the Bible. He knew them and for the longest time, before he met Jesus, went around quoting the Bible to people. He was a very religious man. Once he met Jesus, he got away from religion and started having a relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. He began to recognize that the less he talked about Paul, the more people would see Jesus. He showed people through his actions what he knew from the word of God. He lived each day as if it were his last and did not focus only on Sunday gatherings. One of his greatest teachings was to the church in Corinth when he taught about love. He said that even if he could do all things spiritual but did not have love, then it was all worthless. Love is the overwhelming factor that changes someone from a religious person to a person in a relationship with God. It changed Paul’s life.
Sounds like I may have found a good next topic for my Sunday evening Bible study.

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April 3, 2012

Not Discouraged

by pastortimfowler

untitled - raising my hands to the sky

I was reading through the Apostle Paul’s 2nd letter to the church in Corinth. This was an amazing dude. He was either absolutely a lunatic or he knew something very special. In his first few paragraphs he writes that he was not discouraged with all that was happening to him. In short, he was imprisoned, put in a dungeon, beaten, and given a death sentence all for preaching about Jesus. On top of that, many of his friends and church people who he helped, often turned against him. Many openly doubted that he was really an apostle and the Jews thought that he was a traitor. Through all of this, he maintained a positive attitude toward what he was doing and over and over told people who it was worth it.
What kept this man so motivated? Most normal people would have given up and changed their mind about this new-found faith. As a pastor, I see new believers forsake their faith when tough times hit far too often. I think people have confused a relationship with God and what the Bible tells us with a fairy tale that says, and they all lived happily ever after. No where in the Bible does it say being a Christian would be easy and that no more hard times would ever come our way after we prayed for forgiveness. In fact, it is quite the opposite and Paul wrote about this in most of his letters.
What motivated Paul was his belief that what was on the other side of death was worth it. He believed Jesus when He said that in this world we will have troubles, but what awaited us after we died was a reward that could not be imagined by the human mind because it was so great. He also knew that every person that he was able to convince of this would not spend eternity in Hell, a place the he and Jesus were convinced was real, but the Heaven that they both believed in was far greater than anything this life had to offer and therefore the struggles here were worth it.
Paul knew of the crucifixion that Christ suffered and how brutal it was and that Christ died that horrible death for sinners like him and like me. He knew that Jesus was falsely accused, wrongly sentence and beaten and put to death, as well as rejected by friends and the Jews. Paul often wrote that he considered it an honor to suffer for the cause of Christ.
Now don’t misunderstand me, Paul had some awesome times and he wrote about them too. But his idea of a great time differed from what we would often think of as a great time. He got the chance to preach to kings and governors. He got a chance to see new churches start and become thriving examples of Christianity in cities where immorality was rampant. He saw young men and women leave behind false gods and idolatry and become workers for the cause of Christ. He saw thousands of people change their direction from one that leads to Hell to one that leads to eternity with God. He saw hope given to hopeless and believed that Jesus Christ Himself would greet him one day and say, “Well done, my good faithful servant”.
Yep, things in this life can get you down. It can be hard to cope with losing jobs, seeing loved ones get sick and die, have friends turn on you and face the fact that one day our own lives will come to an end. But we can be encouraged by that hope that Paul had. This hope is that God loves us. He loves us so much that He allowed Jesus to take our death and gives us eternal life when we ask for forgiveness. After that, He allows us to tell as many people as we can about this same hope and the chance of one day hearing those words of “well done” from a Savior who thought it worth the price of His own life so that we could know Him personally.
I was glad I read about Paul and his encouraging message. I was feeling a bit down today, you know, the hassles of living that make you feel blah from time to time. But then I was reminded of the hope that the Bible gives and the fact that this world is not my home. I am only a traveler through it and one day, I will see Jesus face to face. Now, I am not discouraged.