1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Have you ever just looked around you at all the wonders of creation with all the variety and the intricacy, and thought about how really complex everything is?
Have you realized how unique we are, one from another?
Consider that with more than 5,000,000,000 people in the world, none of us has the same fingerprints.
This isn't an accident.
There's no way it could be.
It has to have been planned, and it's proof that God exists.
And when you consider the very fact that we are unique, one from another, and that we each have a free will, it is no wonder that many people have chosen to do evil rather than good.
In fact, the evil in this world exceeds the good.
One might say that there is a great evil in the world.
But on the other hand, the God of all Glory, the God who created all this, is still in control, even though He allows evil to continue to exist.
And it is this understanding, coupled with the Lord's promises of redemption and everlasting life, that gives us hope in the face of this evil.
This is our Advent.
All through recorded history, there have been the few who recognized this evil for what it is, and cried out to God, "Forgive us! Save us! "
In the process, these true believers are often ridiculed and persecuted, simply because they speak the truth and make a stand against this evil and corruption in the world, and simply because they present unlimited love and compassion.
In Mark 13:9-23, we find recorded one of Jesus' comments about the evil in the world that will exist just prior to His return, and the struggle the believing Jews will have in the last days.
But in a way, this struggle exists for all the loving and compassionate faithful ones.
Let's look at what He said:
9. "But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.
It seems like every day I see the abuse of power, and people taking advantage of the innocent, simply to make themselves seem more important than they are.
They do it because they have the power to do so, and believe that they can get away with it.
They direct these evil and corrupt acts against both humans and animals.
But there is something very interesting about these kinds of people: they're cowards, and when you make a stand against them, they are shown for what they really are.
And if we don't stand against them, they gain more power until they are able to persecute the innocent, just as it says in verse 9.
10. "And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.
And it has been.
Jesus said this must take place before He returns, that we will expose the evil for what it is, and bring forth the good news to those who will receive it, that they might be part of the salvation to come.
The biggest problem we face today is that while the good news about Jesus is being told, the unconditional love and compassion of the tellers is not being consistantly presented, because it's not always there.
This is probably one of the main reasons that innocent people and animals have had to suffer at the hands of the evil ones.
And some of these evil ones are even presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ.
11. "And when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.
12. "And brother will deliver brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
13. "And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.
This same evilness that was going on in Jesus' day is still going on today.
The challenge for us, who are the faithful in love, compassion and the Word, is that we don't give up, no matter how bad things may seem to be.
And as we read this passage, we must consider the time frame and the fact that the Temple, which was the symbol of God's presence in Israel, was still there, just as the Churches and the Synagogues are such symbols today.
But even the synagogues and the churches will be corrupted by the evilness in the world, because only a few few true believers stand up against it.
And, if we're honest with ourselves, we can very easily see this evil corruption, today.
It is foretold that the evilness will become so bad, that satanic things will take place in the house of God.
And when we see the ultimate of this happening, when Satan is worshipped, then we are to realize that the end is very near, just as the Lord says:
14. "But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
15. "And let him who is on the housetop not go down, or enter in, to get anything out of his house;
16. and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak.
17. "But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days!
18. "But pray that it may not happen in the winter.
19. "For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created, until now, and never shall.
20. "And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect whom He chose, He shortened the days.
This is why I want you to know the Bible as if it were part of your nature, that you don't lose hope, and don't fall for the lies we are told.
This is why you keep hearing me speak of the necessity of having unlimited love and compassion as part of our nature.
21. "And then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ'; or, 'Behold, He is there'; do not believe him;
22. for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray.
23. "But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.
As a pastor, preacher, and teacher, it is very depressing when I see people being told the truth, but knowing that they are not listening or believing.
I guess when you hear the call and respond, you expect everyone else to respond, but relatively few really do.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Paul began his first letter to the corrupted Corinthian Church on such a positive note of hope (1Corinthians 1:3-9):
3. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is an open invitation to everyone.
4. I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,
5. that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge,
6. even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you,
7. so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
8. who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
This is who they were when they first came to believe, and this is who they should be, as should we also.
But the Corinthian church became corrupted, as are many aspects of the Church today.
This is more of what I believe Paul was talking about in his letter to the Ephesians, particularly the part about the armor of God.
Let's just take a look at Ephesians 6:10-13:
10. Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.
The only way we can be strong in the Lord is to be knowledgeable in His word, and live it, not just part of it, but all of it.
11. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
Do you see the confirmation of the fullness, and the fact that we can get into trouble if we give ourselves only conditionally to God?
12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
As humans, we spend far too much time fighting with each other in the name of peace, when all we accomplish is to help destroy it, because we do it without God, and go about it in wrong ways.
Then how should we do it?
13. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Stand firm in God's Word.
Stand firm in unconditional love and compassion.
Stand firm between the evil ones and the innocent ones.
Stand firm so that the world can see what it will be like when Jesus returns.
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