1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians Chapter 16

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 
"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love."

This verse sums up a great way to live.

  1. Be on your guard. We must recognize that we have a very real enemy (Satan) who wants to steal, kill and destroy everything good that God has made. This means he is roaming about trying to steal your joy and destroy your hope in all things. Being on guard, means we are watching… looking for areas where the enemy might come in and attack and defending that area with the tools God has given us.

  2. Stand firm in the faith. It's important to know what you believe and that truth is found in the bible. Participating in the New Testament Challenge has been an awesome way to hide God's word in your heart. I pray that you’ve been seeing the fruit of this in your own life over the last 6 months of participating. When life gets tough, being able to stand on the promises of Gods word will give you great encouragement and help you receive the breakthrough(s) you need.

  3. Be courageous. As Nelson Mandella so aptly said, "courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Wise words indeed. Whatever you are facing, face it with courage knowing that God is always with you.

  4. Be strong. When I think about strength, I thing about training. A muscle gets strong because it is “trained under pressure”. Bodybuilders don’t wake up one morning with bulging biceps, look in the mirror and be all surprised… “look at those guns!" No, they have deliberately and patiently strengthened those muscles in rigorous gym sessions to shape and sculpt them into the desired shape. Paul urges us to be strong, and that means we should train to become strong. Strong in spirit, strong in character and strong in conviction.

  5. Do everything in love. Paul left this instruction last for a reason and I believe it is the most important ingredient in this recipe, one that cannot be left out. We know that God is love, and that the world will know Him through the way we LOVE one another. So it stands to good reason, that even in “battle mode” we should be motivated and driven by love. A love for God, a love for our fellow believers, and a love for those who are far from Christ. It is love that wins, it is love that never fails.

Be encouraged today :)

1 Corinthians Chapter 15

I find great encouragement in this chapter.  For me personally, I have been struggling with some deep discouragement and disappointment.  For the last few months it feels like there has been a lot more bad news than good news. 

 As I read this morning, the last three verses really grabbed my attention.  I found myself encouraged by them.  “’Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 

Often times I find myself looking at, and focusing on all of the everyday challenges that seem to come flying at me.  It often feels like I’m dodging things left and right.  I’ve also noticed that sometimes when something is coming at me, it is hard to focus on anything beyond that object hurling towards me.  In this passage we are encouraged and challenged to not set our gaze on the immediate, but rather to set our gaze on the eternal promises found in Christ.  

1 Corinthians Chapter 14

Be Eager to Prophesy!

 The one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort…the one who prophesies edifies the church…Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy… (1 Cor. 14:3,4,39)

Chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians are Paul’s amazing treatise on spiritual gifts.  Unfortunately, much of the work of the Holy Spirit and the reality of spiritual gifts have faded from view for many modern Western Christians whose approach to Scripture and discipleship is more intellectual than Spirit-led.

Among these lost gifts is the gift of prophecy that is often misunderstood and sorely needed in our churches today.  When many hear the word “prophesy” they define it in the modern context as one who can foretell the future.  But in the New Testament context, prophecy refers almost entirely to the early church practice of speaking a word of encouragement and comfort to the saints on God’s behalf.  The prophet, does not speak or interpret from his own perspective, but learns to listen and hear God speaking, and shares those rhema revelations with his/her brothers and sisters (1 Cor. 4: 3-4, 39; 1 Peter 4:11).

This is, of course, a sobering and solemn responsibility for any who aspire to, or engage in this spiritual gift.  It requires sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading, a deep and authentic humility, and a commitment to knowing and using the Scriptures and the spiritual sensitivity of other mature believers in affirming the legitimacy of any “word” offered to the congregation.  In the church context, prophesies of accusation, judgment, or blame originate from the flesh and those who wield the power of God for their own purposes.  But true prophesy encourages, uplifts, blesses, supports, nourishes, and gives grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29-32).

Paul ends the chapter with the admonition to all Christians to “be eager to prophesy…”  For the Corinthians, and in our modern cultural climate, Spirit-led encouragement is a very welcome and needed stream of refreshment. I encourage you all to listen for God’s voice, and in bold humility seek to share His word of comfort, hope, and strength in our church assembly when moved by the Spirit to do so.

1 Corinthians Chapter 13

When you first read this passage, it seems like a very beautiful, poetic, easy scripture to grasp on to and apply to life. Everybody loves love, right?  This part of scripture, in fact, is a very beautiful part of the Word, but for deeper reasons than at first glance. Paul is in the middle of addressing the Corinthians on many, many aspects of the Christian life. He just finished discussing all the Spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to each of us for "the common good." He also felt the need to assure that each gift is as important/needed as the other and not to make judgments against other's gifting, or your own. Everything given by the Lord in this manner is for the common good, or for the good of everyone. In chapter 12, the last line is "And still I show you a more excellent way." 

A way to what?

The way to LIVE. 

The bulk of this letter is teaching his fellow siblings how to live now that they belong to Christ. All the gifts he just talked about are great and have their place, but chapter thirteen talks about something beyond what he just explained. The first three verses sets up what he just discussed, gifts given to each of us.....BUT, if these gifts are void of this next thing, then they are absolutely pointless. LOVE. 

What if you were as eloquent or wise of a speaker as you imagine an angel to be? Thats great, but if you don't have any love for why or to whom you're speaking, then who cares?

What if you could prophesy so powerfully, or knew all the mysteries of this entire world along with having all the knowledge one could possibly have, but your motives are loveless.....then who cares? There is no worth to it.

What if you are a very generous person with your things and even your own life? It would be a try and a miss if you don't have love to fill it with purpose.

Want to know where the powerhouse gifting is? Its in the everyday.  Its revealed when you are running out of patience. How can I even offer patience if there are not situations that call for it? Its not so pretty at first glance, because I am getting irritated at what is before me, but the law of love dictates that I choose to be patient in this moment. Because the greatest gift of Love, Jesus, shows me thats what He would do, and can do through me.

If I am called on to be kind, then I am in a situation that I don't want to be kind. If I am called on to NOT be jealous, then I am facing the temptation to be jealous. If I am called on to not seek my own, then I am in a place where I want to do what I want to do without considering others. If I am called on to not brag, then apparently I am in a position of "success" or "winning" and I want everyone to know about it and put all the attention/focus on me. If I am called on to not be arrogant or prideful, then I have been faced with the moment of not giving God the glory for something so grand.

What is it that directs that moment for me?  We see here that we are not directed by our emotions, but something much greater, something much harder, something true.

In verse 7, we are asked to "bear all things." That sounds like a burden.....to bear up under something, to put up with something. Maybe life is looking pretty messy and unfair right now, your God see this and yet asks us to bear through it and not give up because we.... love.  To be asked not to lose faith, means your losing site of the good of the situation, but don't ..... love hangs on.  You'll be tempted to lose your hope or to quit trying, but love asks you not to.

At some point, the obvious or "public" gifts of prophesy, speaking in tongues or having special knowledge about things will become useless. But the often quiet and discreet, but deep and powerful gift of love will never go away....this one you will take with you into heaven.

Desire the gifts so that you can be a blessing to those around you, but don't operate without the very essence or reasons for them. Don't offer empty the empty shell of an act or word, offer it filled with the essence of Christ himself....LOVE.

1 Corinthians Chapter 12

This is one of the icon chapters in the New Testament wherein Paul describes the individual nature of spiritual gifts and the subsequent diversity/unity of all of us as the body of Christ. A lot has been said and written to explain the “what” and “how” of these hallmark foundations of Christianity. My favorite question is, “why?"

Paul's answer is, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” (v. 7, NLT, emphasis added) And again later, he writes, “This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.” (v. 25, NLT, emphasis added) Paul's point is clear: we are gifted to serve each other, to encourage each other, to uplift each other, to support each other, to protect each other, to hold each other together as the body of Christ. Not for personal gain, nor profit, nor fame, nor power; but for His body, the church. That's a clear purpose that I resonate with, that I'm gifted to help and care for my brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters in Christ. 

We each have our specific gift from the Holy Spirit (v. 4). What are you doing with yours? What “each other” role are you playing in the body of Christ so that the overall gospel message of Jesus is proclaimed outside - and within - the church?

1 Corinthians Chapter 11

Wow, chapter 11 is another excellent example of a church memory that I had growing up.  I remember my mom always wearing a scarf or veil on her head when we went to church.  I never knew why she wore it, come to think of it nor did she… It was “just tradition.” 

Today God has been so gracious as to bless me with the opportunity to dig into chapter 11 where Paul lays out some pretty strict dress codes for the believers in the church of Corinth. 

Before we start here are some things to remember, in Paul’s day:

-      Corinth was the carnal capital of the Roman Empire.

-      There was a mix of languages, cultures, and beliefs.

-      The church of Corinth was filled with baby Christians (new Christians in the faith).

Knowing this may now help you understand Paul’s correction and guidance over the baby Christians of Corinth. 

If you read Paul’s letter through today’s church dress and appearance standards, you might think what’s the big deal, Paul?  But remember that he was dealing with a church in his day that felt like “all things were lawful” so Paul thought that the church was bending the rules so much that it was causing people to stumble so he had to step in. As a retired military man I can appreciate Paul’s correction. Rules are rules… Right?

I liked the fact that Paul doesn’t give wishy-washy instruction, but real-world relevance (for his day) to help guide and correct the believers that were veering off course.  For example concerning women’s head covering, this had a peculiar and particular application for Corinth because in that day unveiled woman in Corinth were actually prostitutes, many of them even had their heads shaved.  Paul also had to correct the congregation on The Lord's supper, these guys were getting that all wrong too! 

As I was reading this chapter, I wondered what would happen if Paul visited a typical Sunday service today?  Would he be appalled at the women with no veils?  Are the guys safe?  The hairstyle for most men today is short hair, so I think that we are ok, but what about if the guy is wearing a hat, or what if Paul comes across a guy wearing shorts and a t-shirt, or heaven forbid someone with ripped jeans. Yikes.

Do you think that Paul would rebuke me for not wearing a suit and tie to church?  What if he sees a sweet church lady from the south wearing a giant hat?  I honestly don’t think Paul would be blown away with today's dress codes, ok well maybe a little, but I think that eventually Paul would inspect the heart and find out if:

-      You love Jesus

-      Are you remembering the Lord's Supper Biblically

-      Are you serving, teaching, and correcting people in a loving way so that they don’t stumble.

Then and only then I think that Paul would be ok with what you wear in church because, in reality, God looks at the inside, not the outside appearance. Amen!

1 Corinthians Chapter 10

The Apostle Paul really drills down to the purpose of our actions in everyday living.  I’m struct by the tension between the freedom of a believer “to do anything” and the principal “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others”.  This primary focus on ‘the other’, whoever that may be in ones life, it is the essence of Jesus purpose and life.   We, all the people of the world, past, present, and future are ‘the other’.  Jesus glorified God with all his obedience and focus on ‘the other’.  Apostle Paul’s last verse puts an explanation point.  

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.

1 Corinthians Chapter 9

The Rights Of An Apostle. 

As Paul enters Corinth he is setting down a foundation for what the church should look like.  As an apostle of the church of the Lord - shouldn't he be granted rights and privileges because of his elevated status in the church?

9:7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?  Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes?  Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk?  But Paul is sending a different message.  One of love and humility.  We are not to serve the church to elevate our status for our benefit. 

I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some

Lord help me to get out of my comfort zone - be more open to engage with the less fortunate, the hungry, needy, lonely, where ever they may be Lord.  Be more gracious, compassionate, and kind. Not my strongest gifts, but things I have to be better at.  For if I don't - what kind of Christian am I?

1 Corinthians Chapter 8

This is a very interesting passage to me because of its focus on the importance of understanding people’s backgrounds for people God has put in our lives.  In the time this book was written the issue was about eating food that was offered to idols.  For those that had firmly placed their foundation in Jesus Christ as their Savior, God says eating or not eating each such food by itself does not change our standing with God since we understand it as just food.  However, for those that might be new to the faith and have had a background of worshipping other gods or idols, it may be thought of as an act of worship to that god or idol.  So if a strong believer now leads that act of sharing a meal of food offered to an idol, we are now sinning because we are leading a new believer astray.

I think this passage also ties in well with what we have been discussing as a church body about reaching out by building relationships with others first.  God is requiring us to be sensitive to other people’s backgrounds so that we can be an encouragement to them and help build them up.  Pray for wisdom and discernment to understand in our relationships for what things need to be said and what things need to be done to encourage people and what things not to say and things not to be done to avoid being a stumbling block for them. 

1 Corinthians Chapter 7

This is kind of a thorny chapter, with lots to say on marriage and sexual purity. I think of various friends and their challenging relationships and singleness, but for the most part, nothing really jumped out at me as being a timely word for me right now. 

Then I got to verse 23: “God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.” 

That one brings tears to my eyes. At times I feel so stuck, so very mired in my negative self-perception—perception that is not biblically based upon what God says about me, but about what I think I look like from the world’s point of view. 

I just turned 50, and that was hard for me. It’s discouraging to not be able to do what I used to be able to do and to know that I’m just going to continue to feel and show my age more and more.

My kids are now young adults, with so much opportunity and possibility in front of them. I hate admitting that mixed in with my pride, joy, and excitement to see what their futures hold, there is envy.  

To be even more painfully transparent, I hate all the weight I’ve gained, and I constantly see myself through that lens, as if it were the only thing that mattered. God and I are working on that, and this verse is a key nugget of truth—Jesus has freed me from bondage. 

I am a new, beautiful creation and beloved daughter. Jesus didn’t do what he did to free me from the bondage to sin and death only to have me keep carrying around the shackles of this world. So this is a great verse for me to memorize and repeat often. And it’s a short one, which is good, because, you know—with age, memory is the second thing to go.