Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 10”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 10. Paul begins warning the Corinthians to learn from the Israelites’ example and not make the same mistake they did when they displeased God and were overthrown in the wilderness.

Paul begins:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.

v. 1-5 (NASB)

We often think God is displeased with us because we make mistakes and mess up often. But that’s not true. God called King David a man after His own heart, even though he was a murderer and an adulterer. God said, “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you” (2 Samuel 7:14-15, NASB).

God was pleased with David because David believed and trusted Him, and Saul did not. The Bible says, Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV).

God was displeased with the Israelites because of their lack of faith. When they were in need they didn’t seek and trust God for provision, they complained to Moses and sought to please their own flesh.

Paul continues to explain:

Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

v. 6-11 (NASB)

They craved evil because they did not crave righteousness. To stop craving evil things, we must learn to crave what is holy. I often try to give up coffee for a week or two at a time. When I return to drinking it, I seem to crave it even more than before I gave it up. Last week, I decided to give it up once again, but this time I decided to replace it with tea. After only a week, I am now craving tea and no longer craving coffee. It’s the same with our struggle against sin. We can’t break free from it unless we turn from it and replace it with Jesus. Jesus said, “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Luke 11:24-26, KJV).

We have to replace the evil by being filled with Jesus. Without being filled with Jesus, we will just crave sin even more.

Paul continues:

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

v. 12-13 (NASB)

Paul uses the Israelite’s examples not only to teach us to put our faith in Jesus, but also to warn us to stand guard and not be overconfident that we can stand against temptation.

My pastor just shared a message about being overconfident in our faith that we think we can’t fall. He used the example of Peter and how he didn’t expect to fall and deny Christ three times.

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”

Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”

Luke 22:31-34 (NKJV)

I think it’s easier to become overconfident in our faith the longer we’ve been walking with Christ. When we’ve been taught something long enough we think we’ve got it down. I started following Christ about 14 years ago. The first 9 years, God worked a lot of things out of me and did an amazing work in my marriage and my family. Five years ago, He led me to write a book about the work He has done in us. As I was recalling all that He has done for my family, I became overconfident. I thought I had arrived enough that I could let my guard down and take a break, so to speak. That was a huge mistake. I ended up falling hard, in my marriage and my family. I saw that all the years of work God had done in my family could be swept away. That scared and humbled me and sent me running to Jesus.

The Bible says to put on the full armor of God, so we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). We can’t let our guard down and think Satan will not creep his way in and entice us back into sin.

Paul continues:

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?

v. 14-22 (NASB)

Again, Paul reaffirms what Jesus said in Luke 11 above, we can’t be filled with evil and be filled with God. We must turn from evil and seek what is good. “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11, NIV).

Paul closes talking once again about not using our freedom for evil, but for the good of others and for bringing glory to God.

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS. If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.

v. 23-33 (NASB)

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that no temptation has overtaken us but such as is common to man. You are faithful. You will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but with the temptation You will always provide the way of escape to run to You. Rid us of any evil we have allowed in, and fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Help us to crave what is holy instead of craving what is evil. In Jesus’ faithful name, we pray. Amen!

 

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 11. Have a blessed week seeking God and craving His holiness!

 

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 4″

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 4. In the beginning of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Paul said he had been informed there were quarrels among them about who they belonged to. They said they were either of Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or of Christ. In chapter 3, Paul told them that the one who plants or the one who waters is nothing, but it is God who causes the growth.

Paul begins chapter 4 instructing them to regard him and his fellow workers as servants of Christ, trustworthy stewards delivering them the truths from God.

Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

v. 1-5 (NASB)

Paul gave warning against passing judgment, by giving special honor or being critical to others and ourselves. When we judge others or ourselves, we are making a determination based on our finite thinking, rather than relying on God’s infinite wisdom. Paul didn’t judge himself, because he knew God was more capable to judge him. If Paul had something in him that needed fixing, who would be better qualified to work on him than the One who created him.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

Look at verse 5 above, where Paul said not to pass judgment before the time, but to wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. Could you imagine the God who created you giving you praise! How incredibly amazing is that! That’s why we shouldn’t judge ourselves by our own wisdom. We couldn’t fathom that we would ever be good enough to receive praises from God.

Paul continues warning them against judging by thinking more highly of themselves or of one minister and teacher over another.

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

v. 6-7 (NASB)  

The Bible says that if anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves (Galatians 6:3). When we judge based on our own understanding, and compare and measure ourselves against each other, we deceive ourselves and fall into pride.

Paul closes admonishing the Corinthians to repent of their arrogance and pride, and to follow his example in humbly serving Christ.

You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you. For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.

I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?

v. 8-21 (NASB)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for teaching us through the Apostle Paul’s example to let You be our judge. Your Word is what we measure ourselves and others by, not by our own measurement. If You say we are approved in Christ and will receive praise from You, we joyfully believe and accept that as truth, regardless of our feelings of unworthiness. Help us to lay down our pride and arrogance and humbly follow and faithfully serve You. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 5.  Have a blessed week knowing that you have been approved by God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ!


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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 3″

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 3. In the last two chapters, Paul explains how the wisdom of the world is foolish. At the end of 1 Corinthians 2, he says that the natural (carnal, fleshly, worldly) man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 1:14). This week, Paul explains that if we are walking in the flesh, instead of the spirit, we will not be able to understand and receive the things of the spirit.

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?

v. 1-4 (NASB)

The Bible tells us to walk by the Spirit, and we will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).  An infant believer’s mind is set on the desires of their flesh. A mature believer’s mind is set on the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). I read a wonderful short commentary on what it means to be an infant in Christ. It shows the importance of renewing our minds to be mature followers of Christ. You can follow this link to read this encouraging commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:1 by Andrew Wommack.

Paul continues:

What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

v. 5-9 (NASB)

It is okay to thank and acknowledge those who minister to us. But we must remember that it is God who causes the seed they plant or water to grow. We are nothing without God. There were times when God used me to meet a need, and the recipient saw me as the author of the blessing, rather than God.  That’s why I prefer to give in secret, as Jesus talked about in Matthew 6:2-4, so the recipient can give the glory to God instead of me.

Paul continues:

According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

v. 10-17 (NASB)

Paul was giving strict warning against wrong teachings. He was warning those who were building up the church to watch the motives of their hearts. Our motives won’t be pure if our hearts are not pure. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and some of the teachers of law for their defiled hearts in Mark 7:

“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

 “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Mark 7:8-9, 14-16, 20-23 (NIV)

If we allow our hearts to be hardened by continually feeding our carnal appetites, rather than following the Spirit, we will destroy the temple that God desires to glorify Himself in.

Paul closes the chapter reminding us once again not to depend on the world’s wisdom by walking in the flesh, but to rely on God’s wisdom by walking in the Spirit:

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS”; and again, “THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS.” So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.

v. 18-23 (NASB)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for residing in us. Remove everything that we have allowed in to defile and harden our hearts. Continually keep our hearts and minds pure so that nothing hinders You from glorifying Yourself in us. We praise You that we have this wonderful treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from You and not from us (2 Cor. 4:7).

In Jesus’ name, we praise You. Amen!

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 4. Have a blessed week walking in the Holy Spirit!

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