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Fisherman in the Sea of Galilee

In Matthew 4:17 Jesus has started his ministry on earth telling everyone that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

He then walked along the Sea of Galilee. In other places in the Bible and in history Sea of Galilee are the Sea of Tiberias, Gennesaret, and Chinnereth. this sea was source of the Jordan River. The Jordan River flowed from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. We can take a lesson from this when we recognize that the Sea of Galilee is the source. It was alive and teaming with fish and supported the communities that surrounded it. The Dead Sea however only receives water and has no outlet. It is a dead lake where nothing grows. If you take and take and take, you will be as barren as the Dead Sea.

Jesus wasn’t walking along the Dead Sea. He was walking along the Sea of Galilee and as he was walking, he comes across Simon Peter and his brother Andrew and he invites them and then the sons of Zebedee James and John to be his disciples to become “fishers of men”. He took these men and gave them a higher calling. There is no record of them wondering if they should go, whether Zebedee tried to talk James and John out of going, if Peter’s wife was worried about where the money would come from. None of these are recorded. It just says Jesus invited them and they went.

painting of Jesus Christ healing the sick

Throughout Galilee, Jesus started his preaching ministry. He went from synagogue to synagogue preaching the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven. But he did something more, he made a difference in the lives of the people around him. He healed people. He healed all kinds of diseases, but he also healed all types of torments. The word torments here is the Greek word basanos which is thought to come from the root word basia which means to walk, a pace, foot. In other words, this word basanos has to do with anything that makes us feel as though we were going to the bottom or down to the foot.

What Jesus offered and gave to the people were The promise of the Kingdom and the gifts of salvation and healing.

“Well,” you say,” that was Jesus and that was then surely that’s not for us today. God works differently today than he did back then. He uses medicine and doctors today, right?”

I’m not going to answer the question for you of whether trusting in the medical system is God’s work. That’s between you and God. What I will challenge you concerning you  though is what Jesus told his disciples:

At the end of Jesus’ ministry, John records in John 14:12 Jesus spoke to his disciples and said, “Verily verily, I say unto you. He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works shall he do because I go unto my Father.”

What I am challenging myself (and you, if you’re up to the challenge) is this: If we believe the Bible as we say we do, why don’t we do the same works and even greater works than Jesus did? Why do we let the tormenter rule over our lives. Why are we ineffective in delivering others of their diseases and oppressions? Is it God who has changed or is it perhaps that we REALLY do not believe what he says? More importantly, what can we do about it?


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As we continue our study of Matthew, and our study of John the Baptist in particular, we learned yesterday that Christian baptism did not originate with John the Baptist, but had immersing in water had been part of several types of Jewish religious cleansing rituals.

The word Baptism however, is not a Hebrew word, but came from a Greek word bapto meaning “to dip”. in the New Testament there are seven different ways that the word baptism has been used and by understanding the context of each of these meanings, helps us to understand what baptism is and what it  isn’t.

1. 2. I Corinthians 10:2-11  Speaks of the Baptism of the cloud and in the sea where the children of Israel was more than just a type of our relationship with Christ.

2.  As studied yesterday, there is the baptism of John. His baptism is mentioned in many passages in the New Testament. Besides Matthew 3 there is also Mark 1, Luke 3:, 7:29-30, John 1:31-33; 3:23-26: 10:40, Acts 1:5; 11:16; 19:3.

3.    There was baptism of suffering as noted in Luke 12:50 where Jesus spoke of being dipped or experiencing for a short time the experience of death. In this passage Jesus also expressed that he was not looking forward to the occasion, but that he would be glad when the bapto was accomplished.

4.  In John 3:22 and 4:1-2 it speaks about Christ’s baptism in water. It is significant that Jesus was not the one who actually carried out the baptisms, but it was his disciples who did the actual baptizing. It is our duty as disciples of Jesus to immerse new converts in the good news of our Lord and Savior.

5. Christian baptism in water and the Baptism into Christ and His Body  (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38-41,:8:12-16; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15,33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; Romans 6:3-7; 1 Corinthians 1:13-17; 12: 13; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12;  Peter 3:21) is one of the cornerstones of Christian faith. This baptism brings the new believer into his body at repentance and the new birth. It is called “one baptism (Ephesians 4:5), because it is the only baptism that saves the soul and brings into the body of Christ. The immersion in water is not what saves a person, but the confession of the faith that precedes the immersion in water. The immersion in water is a symbol of the death of the old life and the Resurrection into becoming a new creation in Christ.

6. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a controversial subject in Christendom. (Matthew 3:11, 14:20-23; Mark 1:8; 10:38-39, Luke 3:16, John 1:33, 7:37-39; Acts 1:5; 11:16, 19:2-3.) Some say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at the new birth, others say that it is a separate experience. For now, we will leave  the decision of when this occurs between you and your Creator.

I hope this study of the Gospels is helpful to you. This study, of course, I am not the final authority of the truth that Christ has for us as believers. I would not be so bold as to suggest that I were. What I would hope though, is that this study would help to open your eyes to how great our God is and how much he loves you. Please comment! Maybe you have a question I can help you with. Perhaps you have insights I don’t and we can learn together!


So far in our study of First Corinthians we have examined Paul–the author, we have looked at the church, and the city where the church was located. Today I would like to look at the rest of Paul’s introduction and discover what we can about how to look at others in the church with whom we may not agree.

In today’s study, we are going to examine I Corinthians 1:2 a little more closely, because there is an important jewel to be discovered here:

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be Saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.

I want to point out that the words  in my Bible “to be” are italicized. Whenever I see words in my Bible italicized, I know that those words were not in the original language (in this case Greek), but were added by the translator to help clarify the words meaning. However, in this case the words “to be” change the meaning of the passage. The phrase originally read:

” to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus called Saints“.

In other words, those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus are already called Saints. In order more completely understand what this verse means, we need to learn what a couple of words actually mean.

What does Sanctified mean?

The word sanctified here is haglozo (Strong’s 37) means to mentally purify, or to go through the process of making your mind holy. It is a process that you do in your mind. It is different than the spiritual change that occurs at salvation. Your spirit becomes a new creature at salvation (II Corinthians 5:17), but your mind is under a constant renewal process. (Romans 12:2).

Who are the Saints?

This Biblical term is not referring to the canonization of people by the Roman Catholic church. The word “saints” here (and all of the New Testament) in the Greek is hagios (Strong’s 40) which means consecrated thing, one who is held blameless. If you are a born again believer, you are called saint because if you remember from earlier lessons, your righteousness doesn’t come from your own merits. The righteousness that covers you comes from what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross. You are held blameless for your sins because of what he did for you.

Both of these Greek words haglozo and hagios come from the same Greek root hagos. As I pointed out, Haglozo refers to the fact that every day there is a renewal in our minds that should go on every day. Hagios is different in that we are made blameless through making Jesus Lord of our lives.

Paul still called them Saints because they called upon the name (authority) of Jesus Christ.

Let’s go on to Verse 3:

3) Grace be upon you, and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ,

Paul gave the church at Corinth a blessing in his greeting. He offered them grace and peace. Paul gave this blessing in all of his letters except for his letters to Timothy and Titus. He did not agree with everything they were doing, but he always blessed them anyway.

Perhaps we too need to learn to bless those in the church who we don’t always see eye to eye with or even those we believe are in error. We need to learn to pray grace and peace over them every time we think about them. When we pray grace and peace over other people, we are rewarded with the same thing. If we want more grace and more peace, we need to begin praying the same for others, especially those with whom we do not agree.

If this has blessed you or if you have any questions or comments about this post, please comment below. If you have any questions about any matter regarding salvation or growing in Christ, please contact me at cygnetbrown@gmail.com. I would love to help.


So far, In our study of First Corinthians we have learned that Paul wrote the book. We studied that the word church meant “to be called”, and we discovered that those who were “called”, also had to choose to accept the invitation. We also learned that we had to accept the provision of righteousness that only Jesus Christ can give us, Today, we will learn about Corinth,  the city to him this book (actually a letter) was addressed in this book. We will also learn how this city is a mirror of our society today.

Corinth had originally been part of the Greek empire before the Romans’ conquered the region in 146 BC. The Romans under Julius Caesar rebuilt it in 44 BC. When Paul wrote this first letter to the church at Corinth, the city had again become a cosmopolitan city of wealth and trade.  First century Corinth was an environment of varying social classes, numerous and varied spiritual influences and with a culture shaped primarily by both Greek and Roman historical influences.  Situated in a key geographical location that supported prosperity, Corinth developed a wealthy economy but a significant divide between rich and poor, resulting in a social elitism. It had a varied polytheistic approach to religion, but also supported a Jewish population and the emerging Christian movement. All of these factors contribute interpretation of First Corinthians, but understanding Corinth can also help us in understanding what we need to do as the church in today’s society.

Culture

By the time, Paul wrote this letter, the city supported diverse cultural influences. As a Roman colony, Rome’s influence upon culture, economy, and religion were in evidence, but the re-habitation of the city under Julius has included Italians and “dispossessed Greeks”, then later Hellenistic Jews. This multicultural society became a virtual melting pot. We can say the same for our culture. As our society becomes more globally influenced, our culture becomes a melting pot of cultures where cultural tolerance rules.

Economy

Economically Corinth’s society ranged from wealthy elite down to the lowest social classes. The city sponsored the Isthmian Games that brought revenue into the city.  Merchants and traders supported other occupations in the city. Not all inhabitants of the city lived well. The socially disadvantaged and slave class, prostitutes, and a criminal element also lived there. Diseases amongst the population caused a high turnover of staff which warranted employment opportunity to newcomers. Our world culture also has the extremely rich, and the extremely poor.  In extremely poor countries around the world, 25  thousand die of starvation every day, whereas  in the United States, approximately 40% of food is thrown away because food’s overabundance.

Spirituality

Corinth was one of the most religious diverse cities of the Roman Empire. Roman Gods, Greek Gods, gods of new religious, philosophers, and  Jewish Rabbis developed a religious society that sported a “just in case” spiritualism. Corinth was also known as the cultural center for the fertility goddess Aphrodite. Her temple in Corinth was rumored to be home to a thousand prostitutes. Some may have participated in church activities. This cult is said to have contributed to Corinth’s reputation  for licentiousness.  As we look at these religious issues, we get a better understanding about what Paul was up against. He certainly had serious issues to confront when we consider all the religious practices, associated with a plethora of pagan religious entities, including eating foods dedicated to other religious gods. In our culture religious ideologies also abound.

According to David Barrett of the “World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions – AD 30 to 2200,” there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones.”

Paganism is probably the fastest growing religion in the west, paganism, and it is becoming a widespread cultural phenomenon. Anchored in ancient culture, paganism is the result of many different anti-establishment ideologies uniting and providing a pliable, culturally rich spiritual system seemingly suited to life in the modern, western world.

Whether Isis or Ma’at to Kemetic practitioners, Freyja to the Asatru, the Lady to Wiccans, or Artemis, Athena, or Hecate to Hellenic Reconstructionists, some aspect of the feminine Divine has become central to most if not all neo-pagan religions. Though individual practitioners may not choose to follow or honor a particular goddess, especially those who follow a henotheistic path, the religion that they identify with is still loyal to certain images of feminine divinity. The same goddess centered system is thriving in our current society.

The Church

As recorded in Acts 18, Paul brought Christianity to Corinth. He propagated the good news that Jesus Christ was Lord while Paul worked as a tent maker. Paul exploited the opportunity influence the spiritually insatiable hunger of the citizens of Corinth. He became socially imbedded into the culture. At this time the Church of Corinth was just a small seed beginning to sprout.

Today the churches of the world are divided on a number of fronts. Barrett states that 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world. “Over half of them are independent churches that are not interested in linking with the big denominations.

Just as the Church at Corinth squabbled over social issues, the church of today does the same. Even those sitting next to you in church on the same pews may not have the same social ideology as you do. The church is divided along the lines of  women in ministry, capital punishment, the homeless and refugees, abortion, nuclear deterrence, medical technology, public education, homosexuality just to name a few. Some groups believe that congregations should be homogenous. In other words, they believe that everyone should be alike. They believe that churches should be divided by social class, by culture, or by whatever societal denomination you choose. (Personally, I think that if we did that, we’d each eventually find ourselves sitting alone), but as we read I Corinthians, we will discover that Paul had a different idea about how the church in a culturally diverse place like Corinth should conduct service.

As we will discover later in this first chapter of First Corinthians (verse 10), Paul wanted no divisions in the church. He desired that we believers be united having the same mind and judgment. We will see however,  that He did not think that all churches should be clones of one another. We will discover that he wanted The Church to be relevant to their overall society, and he knew that in order to do this, the church had to be united. This is a lesson of which we can all benefit.

What is your viewpoint concerning our diverse social structure? Do you think the church should be more tolerant?  Do you feel that the church should be diverse or do you think that we should divide up into “relevant” social groups? Feel free to comment below.  If you have any questions, feel free to email me at cygnetbrown@gmail.com. I am here to assist you in any way I can.

 


Image

Swans are my favorite animals. They are so beautiful, but swans didn’t start out being the beautiful creatures they grow up to be. As a young cygnet, these birds are often seen as ugly and clumsy. These birds remind me that things don’t stay as they are now. Things change and they can change for the better.

Almost two thousand years ago, a man was condemned to die. He was arrested and his family and friends abandoned him. He was spit on, punched, beaten, and whipped until he was unrecognizable. He was then condemned to die and nailed to a wooden cross. His last hours alive on this earth were filled with ridicule and scorn. He was buried in another man’s tomb. He was dead and you’d think that would have been the end, but things change.

Three days later some women when to his tomb and they found that the tomb where their friend was buried was empty. They went and told the man’s closest followers and they came to look and wonder how could this be? One of the women said they saw their friend alive, but no one believed until he met with two of them on a country road and told them that things had changed.

These friends of this man did not understand who this man really was. They thought that he had come to rescue their nation from the cruel Roman Empire. They didn’t understand that his dying was part of his plan. They didn’t understand that their sin had condemned them to death and that he took their sins and he died so they didn’t have to face eternal death. They didn’t understand that this man was not just a man, he was God too. (I can see their dilemma, I scarcely understand the concept myself.) He gave his life so that they would not have to live forever separated from their creator. They did not understand that he had not come to condemn the world (It had condemned itself!) He had come to save it. Not only was he again alive, their whole way of thinking had changed.

He taught them that the freedom he was offering was greater than just freedom from the Roman Empire. He taught them that what he had to offer, no one could take from them for all eternity. He offered them a transformation from death to life.They learned that he was not just like any other man. He was the son of God. He was able to do what no other man could. He offered forever freedom, and his offer continues to this day.

For God so Loved the World that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.  John 3:16-17.

Now how my spirit sings how I think of how he offered me this freedom! He takes me by the hand and leads me through this life. Though I hear the wicked whispers of the enemy in my ear telling me that I am not worthy of his love, I look into my Savior’s eyes, and see his beauty there. All those lies mute under the love I see. In his eye, like the swan, I see in my reflection. His beauty  frees my soul.

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