2470.) 1 Corinthians 13

October 19, 2018

1 Corinthians 13   (NIV)

Love Is Indispensable

And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

Possession of the charismata is not the sign of the Spirit; Christian love is.

–Dr. Gordon Fee

3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

It should be simply impossible for us to think unkindly of anyone. “Beloved, let us love” (1 John 4:7).

–Amy Carmichael

There is enough love and enough power in the cross of Christ to enable us to forget past hurts and continue our relationships as if there had never been anything wrong. Even with the best intentions, this will never be done in human strength; only the Holy Spirit of Jesus can enable us to forget our pains and hurts. If you choose to build up the memories of those hurts that other people have inflicted on you, you will pollute, corrupt, and destroy all of your relationships. Resentment has destructive power, but the grace of Christ has a deeper power to keep human relationships as clean and fresh as springtime. 

–Dennis F. Kinlaw

6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

“I would, my brothers and sisters, that we could all imitate the pearl oyster. A hurtful particle intrudes itself into its shell, and this vexes and grieves it. It cannot eject the evil, and what does it do but cover it with a precious substance extracted out of its own life, by which it turns the intruder into a pearl. Oh, that we could do so with the provocations we receive from our fellow Christians, so that pearls of patience, gentleness, long-suffering, and forgiveness might be bred within us by that which has harmed us.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Thessalonians 1:3 (NIV)

We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:4-5 (NLT)

For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven.

_________________________

Loving ideas:

Perhaps you would enjoy a closer look at each of the words used to describe and explain love. William Barclay does a wonderful job  HERE.

I am a great believer in lists! Make a list of 100 things that have shown God’s love, a parent’s love, a friend’s love, etc. — to you, for your whole life long. Let this list be a source of praise and thanksgiving to God in your prayers.

I am also a great believer in personal notes delivered by snail mail. They are now so rare, so precious! Who has loved you well and ought to be thanked? Who is in need of a loving word from you today, due to illness or bereavement or hard times? Send some loving words of affirmation!

Or perhaps someone you know is lonely and would enjoy a meal with you. Or needs difficult housework done, especially as winter approaches. What act of service could you do to show God’s love?

Think about it, and take some time today to pass along the love of Christ to others!

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “The Gift of Love” — by Hal Hopson and sung by Doreen Lai.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Mother Teresa holding a baby.  http://youngadultcrisishotline.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/love-thumb.jpg
Love is patient . . .  http://images.art.com/images/products/regular/12007000/12007361.jpg
Faith.  Hope.  Love.    https://www.thehouseofpraise.org/?lightbox=imagerdt
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2469.) 1 Corinthians 12

October 18, 2018

1 Corinthians 12   (NIV)

Concerning Spiritual Gifts

1 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus be cursed:  Whatever was true when Paul was writing, it is certainly true that later on, in the sore days of persecution, Christians were compelled either to curse Christ or to die. In the time of Trajan, it was the test of Pliny, governor of Bithynia, to demand that a person accused of being a Christian should curse Christ. When Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was arrested, the demand of the proconsul Statius Quadratus was, “Say, ‘Away with the atheists,’ swear by the godhead of Caesar, and blaspheme Christ.” And it was the great answer of the aged bishop, “Eighty and six years have I served Christ, and he has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” There certainly came a time when a man was confronted with the choice of cursing Christ or facing death.

–William Barclay

Jesus is Lord:  Jesus made it plain, saying that when the Holy Spirit would come, He will testify of Me (John 15:26), and He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you (John 16:14). The ministry of the Holy Spirit is not to promote the Holy Spirit, or any man — but to glorify and represent Jesus. We can therefore trust that the true ministry of the Holy Spirit will be according to the nature of Jesus.

–David Guzik

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

The indwelling Christ calls his people to all kinds of service using a variety of gifts. Humble, everyday service is not less than the supernatural phenomena  of the Spirit. God is at work through them all.

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.

Apparently, the tendency to division among the Corinthian Christians had made them think separately or competitively about the gifts. Perhaps the “tongues speakers” thought themselves superior to the “prophesiers,” as if the gifts had come from two different gods! Paul emphasizes to them that “one and the same Spirit” works all these things, so they should reflect that same unity among themselves.

11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

The picture we get is of a Church vividly alive. Things happened; in fact astonishing things happened. Life was heightened and intensified. There was nothing dull and ordinary about the early Church. Paul knew that all this vivid, powerful activity was the work of the Spirit who gave to each man his gift to use for all.

–William Barclay

Unity and Diversity in the Body

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

“You,” Paul says, “are the body of Christ.” There is a tremendous thought here. Christ is no longer in this world in the body; therefore if he wants a task done within the world he has to find a man to do it. If he wants a child taught, he has to find a teacher to teach him; if he wants a sick person cured, he has to find a physician or surgeon to do his work; if he wants his story told, he has to find a man to tell it. Literally, we have to be the body of Christ, hands to do his work, feet to run upon his errands, a voice to speak for him.

“He has no hands but our hands

To do his work today;

He has no feet but our feet

To lead men in his way;

He has no voice but our voice

To tell men how he died;

He has no help but our help

To lead them to his side.”

Here is the supreme glory of the Christian man–he is part of the body of Christ upon earth.

So Paul draws a picture of the unity which should exist inside the Church if it is to fulfil its proper function.

–William Barclay

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

Not only is this diversity in the body of Jesus Christ acceptable, it is essential. The body cannot work properly if all are hands, or if all are eyes. The body must have different parts and gifts, or it would not work together effectively as a body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

The parts of the body work together. The eyes and ears do not only serve themselves, but the whole body. The hands do not only feed and defend themselves, but the whole body. The heart does not only supply blood to itself, but serves the whole body. Sometimes there is a part of our body which only lives to serve itself. It doesn’t contribute anything to the rest of the body, and everything it gets it uses to feed and grow itself. We call this cancer.

–David Guzik

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Love Is Indispensable

And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “How Beautiful Is the Body of Christ.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
spiritual gifts.   http://pastorbillholdridge.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/spiritualgifts.jpg
Jesus and Holy Spirit dove.   http://treasuresoldandnewbiblicaltexts.blogspot.com/2014/05/marcan-framework-commentary.html
body of Christ.   http://everfaith.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/body-of-christ.jpg
body parts.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/1corinthians12_4.jpg
heart.   http://www.edgemarcenter.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/heart.jpg

2468.) 1 Corinthians 11

October 17, 2018

There is a long-time tradition of head adornment in the black religious community. While it may have started with the biblical admonition from the Apostle Paul that a woman must cover her head before entering a house of worship, over time it has become a fashion statement and a cultural celebration.  And aren’t these ladies beautiful?

1 Corinthians 11  (NIV)

1Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

1 Timothy 4:12 (NLT)

Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

On Covering the Head in Worship

2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

This section of Paul has caused much confusion, and do not suppose that I could give you the definitive interpretation! But several commentaries state that the Greek word here translated “head” could also mean “source.” In that case, Paul is saying that woman derives her being from man (as in the creation story of Genesis 2:21-22), as man does from Christ, and Christ does from God. Each of those relationships is somewhat different from the other, but the order of creation does seem, to Paul, to have consequences for worship.

4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. 7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

Verses 11-12:  Here is a very positive statement of the full equality (as persons) of men and women. There is no inferiority involved. No matter what distortions may have crept in to reduce woman to an inferior status, nevertheless, in the Lord, the original intent of God is restored. Paul carefully declares that man and woman cannot exist without each other. They are equal as persons, distinct as sexes, functioning in a divinely given order in order to demonstrate to all the delight of God in his creation and redemption of mankind. If we will carefully think that through we shall find it is a very powerful argument for equality of persons and distinctives of role. 

–Ray Stedman

13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

Regarding head covering and hair length: 

Paul’s arguments here are closely related to a specific historical situation and an evaluation of cultural appropriateness. We should be cautious about applying all these details universally. 

Correcting an Abuse of the Lord’s Supper

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk.

In the modern church, the Lord’s Supper is commonly celebrated in an atmosphere of dignity. But the Corinthian Christians were coming from a culture where the pagans would commonly have wild, riotous banquets given in honor of a pagan god. This is how it might not seem so strange to the Corinthian Christians to get drunk even at a church meal.

–David Guzik

Another point that Paul addresses here has to do with the lack of unity among the believers at the Lord’s Supper. Some have plenty to eat and drink, yet do not share with those who do not. The rich are not caring for the poor. Such selfish conduct was disgraceful to the body of Christ as well as to Christ.

22Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

The early Church was the one place in all the ancient world where the barriers were down. That world was very rigidly divided; there were the free men and the slaves; there were the Greeks and the barbarians–the people who did not speak Greek; there were the Jews and the Gentiles; there were the Roman citizens and the lesser breeds without the law; there were the cultured and the ignorant. The Church was the one place where all men could and did come together. A great Church historian has written about these early Christian congregations, “Within their own limits they had solved almost by the way the social problem which baffled Rome and baffles Europe still. They had lifted woman to her rightful place, restored the dignity of labour, abolished beggary, and drawn the sting of slavery. The secret of the revolution is that the selfishness of race and class was forgotten in the Supper of the Lord, and a new basis for society found in love of the visible image of God in men for whom Christ died.”

–William Barclay

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks,

In theology, and in church custom, the Lord’s Supper is often called the eucharistThis word comes from the Greek phrase used here for “given thanks.”

he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

There is a very clear connection between preaching the gospel and celebrating the Lord’s Supper. The meal sets forth God’s Word through visible rather than verbal means. When we “eat this bread and drink this cup,” we are giving expression to our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus and our sure hope of his return.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.

We must be clear about one thing. The phrase which forbids a man to eat and drink unworthily does not shut out the man who is a sinner and knows it. An old highland minister seeing an old woman hesitate to receive the cup, stretched it out to her, saying, “Take it, woman; it’s for sinners; it’s for you.” If the Table of Christ were only for perfect people none might ever approach it. The way is never closed to the penitent sinner. To the man who loves God and his fellow men the way is ever open, and his sins, though they be as scarlet, shall be white as snow.

–William Barclay

30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

And when I come I will give further directions.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Come, Now Is the Time to Worship.”  Let us “gladly choose him now,” and not worry about our hair or our hats, or anything other than our hearts . . .

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
women in hats.   http://prairiemary.blogspot.com/2014/07/dancing-well-with-partners.html
bread and wine.  http://wallpaper4god.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/1corinthians11-26.jpg
hands holding the bread and wine.  https://plenitudespiritual.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/cena-del-sec3b1or.jpg

2467.) 1 Corinthians 10:14-33

October 16, 2018

1 Corinthians 10:14-33   (NIV)

Idol Feasts and the Lord’s Supper

14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “One Bread, One Body”  by John Michael Talbot. Talbot, born in 1954, is an American Roman Catholic  singer-songwriter-guitarist who is founder of a monastic community, the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, located in the Ozarks.

_________________________

18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

There may be two Corinthian ideas Paul is trying to answer:

 1) The Corinthian Christians were thinking, “Since an idol is not real, it doesn’t matter what we eat, and it doesn’t matter where we eat it.” Paul answers by agreeing that an idol is in itself nothing (1 Corinthians 8:4); but now explains that demons take advantage of man’s ignorant and self-serving worship.

 2) The Corinthian Christians were thinking, “As long as we are participating in the Lord’s Table, we are safe in Him.” Paul answers that they are disgracing the Lord’s table when they fellowship with idols.

–David Guzik

The Believer’s Freedom

23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

Paul is reiterating his distinction between “knowledge” and “love.”

Translated into our terms of idolatry, what Paul is saying is, “Do not run away from life. Live right out in the midst of it. Do not try to avoid being normal, natural people enjoying the normal, natural things of life around you. You will never escape by trying to get away from the temptations. They will pursue you wherever you go. So enjoy life, and do not raise over-scrupulous questions, always trying to examine everything with a microscope as to whether it is going to be dangerous or hurtful to you. Relax. God knows where you are. He has put you there and provided a world for you to enjoy, so enter into it and live it to the full.” 

–Ray Stedman

27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.

We are meant to be friends with non-believers, for Christ sent us out as sheep among the wolves. Paul says, “So if somebody asks you, then go.” Now nobody is going to ask you if you are an uptight, self-righteous, legalistic Christian. If that is the case, do not worry; you will not get any invitations into non-Christian homes. You will only get them if you are an open-hearted, friendly, outgoing person who understands that people are struggling and in need, and you see through the veneer and the facade of their lives to the empty, lonely, hurting hearts behind. Then you will get an invitation to a home, and if you do, Paul says, “Go, and enjoy it, but be careful; remember your basic commitment is to Christ. Nothing must compromise that.” 

–Ray Stedman

28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

If someone makes an issue over the matter then refuse to go along. If someone makes it obvious that you are being tested to see whether you are willing to go the whole way with the world or whether you really belong to Christ, then make the issue crystal clear right away. Do not go along with what they want you to do because they are making a test out of it.

–Ray Stedman

So Paul says it is not the meat per se, but the atmosphere in which the meat is eaten. If it is eaten at a pagan temple — no. If it is purchased from a market — yes, because the meat is not infected; the cow belonged to the Lord on the hoof and it belongs to the Lord now (“The earth is the Lord’s.”). If you eat at someone’s house, Paul says, do not ask about the meat — just eat it, yes, with a good conscience. (Barclay says, “Don’t ask fussy questions.”) But if someone makes a point to tell you that the meat was sacrificed to idols — then no, refuse it. What we believers eat makes no matter; that we avoid giving offense, does.

In no small part because of this passage, I do not display heads of Buddha or hands of Fatima or other items of worship from non-Christian religions. Yet I do love Turkish rugs, including the small prayer rugs which are used when Muslims go to prayer, and those I have. These are fine lines to draw, even for one’s self! So I choose what is permissible and what is not, in good faith as I understand it, and do not make judgments about other people’s decorating choices! And so on — trying not to offend others, and choosing not to be offended in matters which can be difficult to sort out. I do not have the final say for other people! Just let my own heart be clean.

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

1Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
bread, wine, Word.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/1corinthians10_16.jpg
steak dinner.   http://www.newyorkfoodiee.com/2013/12/

2466.) 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

October 15, 2018

1 Corinthians 10:1-13   (NIV)

Warnings From Israel’s History

Paul has been writing about the need to finish what God has set before us, and how dangerous it is to not be willing to give up something which gets in the way of finishing. Now he will use Israel’s experience in the Exodus from Egypt to illustrate this principle.

1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud

The cloud of Shekinah glory overshadowed Israel throughout their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. During the day, the cloud sheltered them from the brutal desert sun, and during the night, it burned as a pillar of fire. It was a constant, ready reminder of God’s glory and presence, of God’s love and power (Exodus 13:21-22).

and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

All of Israel came through the Red Sea and saw God’s incredible power in holding up the walls of the sea so Israel could cross over on dry ground, and then God’s work of sending the water back to drown the Egyptian army (Exodus 14:21-31). It was not only an amazing demonstration of God’s love and power, but also a picture of baptism – by “passing through water,” all of Israel was identified with Moses, even as by “passing through water,” a Christian is identified with Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-4).

3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink;

All of Israel was sustained by God’s miraculous provision of food and drink during their time in the wilderness (Exodus 16:35 and 17:6). This was a remarkable display of God’s love and power for Israel, and a pre-figuring of the spiritual food and drink we receive at the Lord’s table (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

Israel even had the presence of Jesus Christ with them in the wilderness! Perhaps Jesus had this story in the back of his mind when he told the Samaritan woman at the well that he would give her “living water.”

5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

You make your choice:

Proverbs 19:3 (NLT)

People ruin their lives by their own foolishness
      and then are angry at the Lord.

         Or

Proverbs 1:7 (NLT)

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

We fight temptation with Jesus’ power, like the girl who explained what she did when Satan came with temptation at the door of her heart: “I send Jesus to answer the door. When Satan sees Jesus, he says, ‘Oops, sorry, I must have the wrong house.’”

_________________________

Music:

Charles Wesley understood.  HERE  is a hymn of his, sung here by Fernando Ortega, which calls out to God for resisting temptation and forgiving sin.

“Jesus, Lover of My Soul” is part of an interesting story. In the early 20th Century, at a gathering of veterans from both sides of the Civil War, an elderly Confederate recalled that late one evening before the war had ended, he was on patrol and happened upon the sentry from the opposing side.

His gun aimed with a clear line of vision, he was ready to pull the trigger when the sentry broke into song, “Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly … .”

The gunman paused and listened. As the Union guard continued to sing, “Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing,” the soldier put his gun down and crept away. “I couldn’t kill that man though he were 10 times my enemy,” he recalled.

A Union veteran spoke up, “Was that in the Battle of Atlanta in ’64?”

Indeed, it was. “I was that sentry!” the Union veteran exclaimed. He spoke of his fear of battle, the sense of hopelessness he felt that night on patrol, and the peace and comfort brought by singing the hymn.

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Whatever you do . . .   https://susanlstevens.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/here-and-there-april-20/
Shekinah glory and the tabernacle.  http://lizadventure.blogspot.com/2010/05/fiery-cloud-lord-leading.html
Moses at the Red Sea.   http://appleofgodseye.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/12.png
water from the rock.  http://www.bible.ca/archeology/bible-archeology-exodus-kadesh-barnea-water-from-rock-moses.jpg
verse 13.   https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/1-Corinthians-10-13_Inspirational_Image/

2465.) 1 Corinthians 9

October 12, 2018

1 Corinthians 9 (NIV)

Paul’s Rights as an Apostle

At first sight this chapter seems quite disconnected from what goes before but in point of fact it is not. The whole point of it lies in this—the Corinthians who considered themselves mature and advanced Christians have been claiming that they are in such a privileged position that they are free to eat meat offered to idols if they like. Their Christian freedom and their Christian privilege give them—as they think—a special position in which they could do things which might not be permissible to lesser men. Paul’s way of answering that argument is to set forth the many privileges which he himself had a perfect right to claim, but which he did not claim lest they should turn out to be stumbling-blocks to others and hindrances to the effectiveness of the gospel.

— William Barclay

1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? 2Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

Although some among the Corinthian Christians did doubt Paul’s standing as an apostle, they shouldn’t have. The Corinthian Christians had more reason than most to know Paul was a genuine apostle, because they had seen his work up close.

–David Guzik

3 This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4 Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?

7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? 8 Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

Here we see Paul’s real heart. Paid or not paid, it did not matter to him. What mattered was the work of the gospel. Was it more effective for the gospel if Paul should receive support? Then he would receive it. Was it more effective for the gospel if Paul should work to support himself? Then he would do that. What mattered was that the gospel not be hindered in any way.

–David Guzik

13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. 16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 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.

This blog, DWELLINGintheWord, offers the gospel free of charge to the world! And may the Lord bless all who are reading it!

Paul’s Use of His Freedom

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Paul is not saying that one should alter the message to suit the various people to whom one is speaking. No, he is saying he adjusts his approach, or even some of his habits, so as not to alienate anyone about some non-essential thing. Paul would not be interested in making the Word more politically correct, but he would be urging us to be more available, more helpful, more willing to listen to those around us who do not yet know Jesus as their Redeemer.

The Need for Self-Discipline

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Sporting events were big in Paul’s day, as they are in our own. This reference to sports would have been especially meaningful to the Corinthians, because their city was the center for the Isthmian Games, second in prestige to the ancient Olympics. Paul often uses figures from arena competition (at least twelve different references in his letters), including examples of runners, boxers, gladiators, chariot racers, and trophies.

Paul is telling us to train to compete as athletes who really want to win. Without effort, nothing can be won in a sporting event.

–David Guzik

25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 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 am not a runner. But when I read Emily Awes Anderson’s poem, I wish I were! 

run

my quads are strong
to upward drive
and forward move
my back and thighs
into the wind
I press and steer
and spring in waking
atmosphere
or dogged sun
my gasping breath
oxygen
won’t fill my chest
and still I go
to limit quest
boundary swell
and border stretch
the purpose beats
in tracks I trek
to upward climb
and path correct
crisper temps
propel me quicker
my figure swift
within it flickers
energy
and pumping blood
a brimming song
strung and hummed
into a vision
of form and speed
my legs are light
my heart the lead
into the winter
calm and cold
quiet crunching
peace unfolds
around my body
unearthly done
with sweat and grace
and joy
I run

https://emilyawesanderson.com/2018/09/17/run/

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Music:

How can I talk about running and not think of one of my favorite movies, Chariots of Fire?

Based on a true story, Chariots of Fire is the internationally acclaimed Oscar-winning drama of two very different men who compete as runners in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a serious Christian Scotsman, believes that he has to succeed as a testament to his undying religious faith. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), is a Jewish Englishman who wants desperately to be accepted and prove to the world that Jews are not inferior. But this is not a movie only about sports. It is about the human spirit and the many facets of God’s glory.

If you have never seen Chariots of Fire, give yourself that gift soon! HERE  is a bit of the opening sequence and the stirring theme song.

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Running for the prize.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/runningfortheprize_t.jpg
verse 12.    https://my242church.com/daily-prayer/2017/8/28/anything-short-of-sin
blog.  http://www.socialbrite.org/2011/10/06/12-ways-to-develop-a-loyal-community-for-your-blog/
race.  https://angelthacker.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/running-race.jpg

2464.) 1 Corinthians 8

October 11, 2018

1 Corinthians 8   (NIV)

Concerning Food Sacrificed to Idols

It is a passage directed toward those whose have their facts right but hearts wrong. Here Paul addresses the intelligent but unloving.

–Francis Chan

1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

The difference is likened to a puffed up bubble or a built up building! 

New Living Translation puts it this way:  “But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.

2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know.

Oh, here is a word for me to remember when I am being particularly trying to others!

3But whoever loves God is known by God. 4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

There is only one God, so idols have no real existence — Paul acknowledges that. That is “knowledge,” and it may be part of spiritual maturity. But there is something else to consider . . .

7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The issue in 1 Corinthians 8 that Paul addresses is meat offered to idols. The Corinthians had come out of pagan backgrounds. They once had worshiped idols. They had believed that meat was inhabited by demons, so they would offer the meat before their idol. The idea was that the idol would cleanse the meat of the demons, so when they consumed the meat, it would be clean and inhabited by their god rather than by demons. It was an act of worship to their idol. They had grown up doing it this way — and some of them were still affected by this way of thinking.

But some of the Corinthian believers who were more knowledgeable were saying, “Idols aren’t real. Now that we’re Christians, we know that idols are a farce. Just eat the meat. It’s not a big deal.” But the weaker Christians who had spent their whole lives thinking another way, having not yet reached a certain Christian maturity in thinking, were sensing in their consciences, I can’t eat that meat. It’s been offered to an idol. That’s like worshiping an idol, and I can’t eat it. Meanwhile the more knowledgeable Christians were saying, “Just eat it. There’s no such thing as an idol.” So listening to this informed but unloving counsel, the consciences of the less knowledgeable were being wounded.

–Francis Chan

10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

. . . and what else a Christian must consider is “love,” — how my action might affect someone else. Paul makes the principle clear. Our actions can never be based just on what we know to be right for ourselves (knowledge); we also need to consider what is right in regard to our brothers and sisters in Jesus (love).

It is easy for a Christian to say, “I answer to God and God alone” and to ignore my brother or sister. It is true we will answer to God and God alone, but we will answer to God for how we have treated our brother or sister.

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Music:

The best food to eat is not food that has been offered to idols, but rather that which was offered to God for our salvation — the body and blood of Christ.  HERE  is “In Remembrance of Me,” sung by Robert Kochis. The song addresses the “Love” portion that Paul has just been speaking of.

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New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Love love.   http://pickyourportion.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/02212014_CP.jpg
1 Corinthians 8:8.   http://oneyearbibleimages.com/1corinthians8_8.jpg
LOVE.   https://www.holmescustom.com/love-bears-all-things-believes-all-things-hopes-all-things-endures-all-things-sign