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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Marriage Series: We Need Each Other

 

MARRIAGE-PIC21

 

This is the third message in my marriage series “Two Are Better Than One.” Follow this link if you missed the last two messages. Last Monday, I shared how my husband and I first met, and how it took God over a year to draw my husband’s heart to mine. We were married on July 20, 1996, less than a year after my husband asked me to officially be his girlfriend (July 21, 1995). We originally planned on waiting another year to have a big wedding. But with some division between our families regarding the financing, we decided to get married that year with a small wedding and reception.

Looking back now, I believe God led us to get married that year, because I don’t think we would’ve made it another year. The night before our wedding we got into a big fight and didn’t talk to each other until we met at the altar the next day.  I never imagined “I’m Sorry!” would be the first words I’d say to my fiancé at the altar on our wedding day.

After our ceremony, we had a reception at my parent’s house. It was nice until a few family members showed up intoxicated and started brawling with each other. Annoyed, my husband and I left to escape to our small, newly rented one bedroom apartment.  When we got to our new home, we opened our cards and counted the cash we received to see if we had enough money to pay our bills and take a honeymoon. After putting aside money for our bills, we had only three hundred dollars left to go camping up north along Lake Michigan.

Though we didn’t have a perfect wedding and reception, and camImage0004ping wasn’t our dream honeymoon, we were excited to start our new life together. As I shared last week, my husband and I separately accepted Christ at Vacation Bible camps when we were kids. But because we didn’t seek Christ further, and have a relationship with Him, we unknowingly were an open target for the devil. After our honeymoon, it didn’t take long to reap the effects of living without Christ, as our insecurities, hurts and past relationships began to affect our marriage.

The devil knew our pain and weaknesses. He knew we followed the ways of the world and not God. He knew which situations to lead us into to bury us deeper into sin. He knew which bait we’d take that would lead us into his trap. And for the first five years of our marriage, he did everything he could to try and split us apart.

The devil wants to split up our marriages because he knows God’s ultimate plan is to transform us and glorify Christ in us. It’s a lot easier to knock us down and keep us down when we are separated and don’t have each other to lean on for support.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

When a couple has Christ in their marriage, they have strength and knowledge to stand up against the devil’s attacks, because greater is He that is in them than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). My husband and I had no knowledge that we had an unseen enemy pursuing to take us down. We saw each other as the enemy. In our eyes, the only way to resolve our conflict was to get away from each other.

Thankfully my husband feared divorce. He didn’t want to be the first in his family to get a divorce. So he made up his mind that he would do whatever it took to stay together. My husband’s commitment to our marriage gave God time to pour His love into our hearts, and lead us out of the devil’s trap and into a relationship with Christ

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:1-10

God has a specific plan for each of us in Christ. He’s given us our spouses to help fulfill His plan. We need each other more than we often realize. Even though God gives my husband and me different works to do, we need each other to accomplish those works. For example, since God called me to write, He has blessed my husband’s job and brought him increase to provide for me to publish and give away books to those He has prepared in advance to receive. My husband isn’t called to write. And I am not called to be our financial provider. But we need each other in order to accomplish God’s will for our lives. Without my husband, I wouldn’t be able to continue publishing books. Without me, my husband wouldn’t be reaping the blessings and increase in his work.

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Ephesians 4:19

God has a plan for you and your spouse. You need each other to fulfill that plan, even if you don’t see your spouse seeking God’s will. When my husband and I came to know Christ, I had a deeper passion for seeking God than my husband did. I’d often complain to God that my husband was a hindrance to my growth since he wasn’t as committed to following Christ as I thought I was. God eventually showed me how instrumental my husband is in my growth, and how instrumental I am in his growth. God uses my husband’s weaknesses to work things out of me, and He uses my weaknesses to work things out of him. God uses my husband’s strengths to strengthen me, and He uses my strengths to strengthen my husband.

God uses our weakness to draw us closer to our spouses. Satan uses our weaknesses to lure us away from our spouses. God uses our strengths to support our spouses. Satan uses our strengths to convince us we are better off without our spouses. Knowing that we need our spouses, and they need us, should encourage us to stand firm in our faith and not allow Satan to succeed in splitting us apart.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

1 Peter 5:8-9

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for giving us our spouses to accomplish Your will for our lives. Help us to stand against the devil’s attacks and  not let him split us apart. Help us to stop viewing our spouses as our enemies. Continue to use their weaknesses and strengths to work in and strengthen us. And continue to use our weaknesses and strengths to work in and strengthen them.

In Jesus’ faithful name, we pray. Amen!

 

*My husband and I are giving two couples a $50 dinner gift card for Brinker restaurants (Can be used at Chili’s, On the Border, Macaroni Grill, or Maggiano’s) and a signed copy of my book “You Can Have a Happy Family – Steps to Enjoying Your Marriage and Children” If you live in the U. S., enter to win in the comment section below. Just leave your name and how long you’ve been married.  The first winner will be announced on our wedding anniversary (July 20th). And the second winner will be announced on our dating anniversary (July 21st). Every marriage post that you comment on through July 19th you will receive an additional entry into the drawing.

 

 

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