1 Corinthians 16

Do All In Love [ 1 Corinthians 16 ]

12:30 AM

This is the final chapter in 1 Corinthians and Paul closes this book with a letter of encouragement and endearment to the church of Corinth.  Included are some timeless principles that we can apply. 

Sharing Our Prosperity:  Paul encourages the members of this church to consistently give some of the resources God has blessed them with to be sent to the saints in Jerusalem. “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.” (v2)  God wants us to realize that all we have comes from Him.  When He prospers us, we have opportunity to pass that blessing on as a cheerfully offered gift toward the Lord's work.  "As every man purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly or out of compulsion; for God loveth the cheerful giver. (2 Cor.  9:7)"

Spending Time With Others: There are resources of money and provisions that can be collected and given to God's ministry, but another important investment we can make is spending valuable time with others. Paul was a busy man but he made it a priority to spend time forming relationships with others which is a true discipleship ministry. “For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits." (v7) He also expected to gain from these relationships and I think we can always gain from spending time with each other in the Lord.  “and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go.” (v6) It is a beautiful relationship when people can  mutually benefit one another. 

Welcoming and Supporting Others:  Throughout this letter Paul mentions others visiting this group of believers.  He wants this church to reflect the love of Christ in how they welcome those who visit. He encourages them to be supportive, non-judgmental, and to put others "at ease". It can be awkward and uncomfortable for others to visit a church.  It can mean so much when we offer more than a casual, brief handshake or smile of greeting.  " To put someone at ease" means we make genuine connection. 

Remain In Christ:  “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (v13-14). Paul exhorts this church to be vigilant, strong and faithful.  What's wonderful, I think, is that the warrior image he paints for us includes a very important character quality...sacrificial love.  What a difference it would make if we could do all (including the mundane, difficult, unpleasant, and seemingly unrewarding tasks) with Christ's love. 

I hope that reading this letter to the church of Corinth has  inspired you to give of your resources and talents,  to invest time and genuine interest in others through discipleship, to extend comfort and hospitality that welcomes others into God's family, and to focus on being a channel and example of Christ's love in all that you do. 

1 Corinthians

Be Steadfast ... {1 Corinthians 15}

12:30 AM

    Paul grabbed my attention on the very first verse of chapter 15! “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.-15:1. Is it really necessary to be reminded of something we should already know? You-bet-IT-is!

I remember one Sunday as a new Christian, sitting next to a much maturer Christian women that I highly respected, in a ladies’ Sunday School class. The class was being taught by the pastor’s wife, and it seemed like fireworks were going off in my head!! I just sat there and “oohed” and “aahed” over every little truth she expounded upon! Until all of a sudden I happened to look over at the women sitting next to me, who I assumed had probably heard all of this before, and wondered if she was bored with all that was being said. After all, it was all new to me and very exciting at the moment, but one day would it all become “boring? And since inquisitive minds need to know, I leaned over and asked her at that very minute, and I’ve never forgotten her response!

Sue was also committed to meeting with me every Thursday morning for one year and allowed me to ask her any questions I had about this new Christian life. She taught me all the basic beliefs every Christian should know, but best of all, she helped create in me a hunger to know more! Her answer actually started me on a journey I’m still on today! She said, “Never! God’s Word is always new and fresh; alive and never boring, which is why I love to meet with new believers, because I never grow tired of the basic doctrinal beliefs! In fact, I find I need to be constantly reminded of them myself in order to stay grounded in my own faith.”

That sealed my fate! I too would focus on building a solid foundation for other believers to stand on, all the while always grounding my own faith as well. And I have to add that  I’ve discovered over the past 30+ years since then, that Sue was absolutely right! And Paul knew it too! Just look how he chose to close the chapter,

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your work is not in vain in the Lord.”- 1 Corinthians 15:58

We’ve got to have a solid foundation in order to be able to stand firm or steadfast, which is why Paul felt it necessary to remind the Corinthians and us, “of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.” (15:1)

Steadfast means "to be firmly fixed in place or determined". Paul explains this a bit better in his letter to the Colossians - “You must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly [be steadfast] in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.” Colossians 1:23

Do you know of anyone who has “drifted away” from the truth of the Gospel today?

What should we do to stand firm or be steadfast in this life? What should we do if we don't want to be, “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching” (Ephesians 4:14) or “deceived by the serpent”. (2 Corinthians 11:3)?

We’ve got to get into the Word and make sure those we know and love are getting into it too! Paul explained it to Timothy this way,  “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (1 Timothy 2:15). We need to not only read it, but live it. Jesus told us,. “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.” John 8:31

Immovable” or “steady”-(1 Corinthians 15:58b) is a lot like being steadfast, although immovable means, “one is not capable of being sidetracked (emotionally or physically) from their purpose”! Think about that for a moment, for this has huge implications for Christians!  Paul’s desire was for the Corinthians to be unmoved by the false teachers of that day, but what about today? What does it look like to be immovable/standing strong in our lives today? How can we hold fast to the teachings of Jesus when it seems like everyone is doing their own thing and going their own way and we’re called out as bigots or worse because of our stand on God’s Word?

  His Word is here to help us with this and these are just a few suggestions it offers:

  • Be in Constant Prayer- (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18): Prayer fills us and fuels us with all that’s necessary to stand firm in our beliefs. It helps and protects during the trials of life! Twelve times in the Scripture Jesus went off to prayer in times of conflict and when simply seeking wisdom!
  • Rejoice! -(1Thessalonians 5:16) : Remember an attitude of joy comes from a strong faith, for we trust in the One who is always in control!
  • “Take heart, because I (Jesus) have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • Be “filled” (Ephesians 5:18) and “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 4:30) “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing … singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16

“Always abounding in the work of the Lord” – 1 Corinthians 15:58c. Paul is quick to point out  here that when the believer is steadfast and immovable success in the Lord’s work was sure to follow them. Abound actually means “to overflow or be abundant”. Paul wants us to soar, “knowing that your work is not in vain in the Lord.” -1 Corinthians 15:58d

As Christians we are all called to be missionaries wherever we’re located; communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ! And Scripture promises us that if we’ll abound and  “... not grow weary of doing good... in due season” we will succeed! (Galatians 6:9) Paul not only wants to remind all of us of simple, basic, doctrinal truth, he wants all of us to live out this Christian life in a strong, steady and successful way!

I know I may be just “preaching to the choir” here. I’m sure all of you who are reading this today can say, “I’m in God’s Word each day! I’m praying, seeking to be filled and walking in the Spirit daily, abounding in the Lord’s work!” And to that I would say, “Hallelujah! But are you also helping others to do the same?”

Christ’s church is shrinking today. I believe we need Paul’s exhortations now more than ever it seems.

1 Corinthians

Intelligibility and Order in Worship

12:30 AM

1 Corinthians 14

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

We have to remember as we read this chapter, that the Corinthian church was struggling with conflict.  And we need to remember that what we read in the previous chapters, still holds true – the gifts we have been given, are meant to build the Church, not tear it apart.

We should never try to force someone to use a gift they were never given.  Nor should we feel unworthy because we have not been given a more desirable gift.  We are many parts, as Paul reminded us in 12:7-11.  “All of these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”  (1 Cor. 12:11, emphasis mine).

We also need to remember that we are unified and diversified members of the body of Christ. 

1 Corinthians 14:13-17New International Version (NIV)
13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer,[a] say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.

Paul has spent a great deal of time teaching about speaking in tongues in this chapter and the best way I can explain it after doing some digging, is like this; you cannot go into a small or large group of people and begin using Morse Code and expect the people there to understand it.  Speaking in tongues is a one-way language between you and God.  It’s a supernatural communication between you and God.

 Image result for 1 corinthians 14:12

Paul then addresses the order of worship.  It’s really comes down to being respectful.  Just like verse 33 says, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace – as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.”

In the Corinthian culture, women were not allowed to confront men in public.  Apparently some of the women who had become Christians thought that their Christian freedom gave them the right to question the men in public worship.  This was causing division in the church.  We may be offended to read verses 34-35, but as I studied this chapter, Paul was using the ancient Greek verb laleo, which means, “to talk, question, argue, profess or chatter.”  Alan Redpath puts it this way, “It has nothing to do with prophecy or prayer; it’s not public speaking as such.”

In Jewish synagogues, men and women sat separately, so imagine how disruptive it would be if a woman called out from across the room to address her husband.  Paul is reminding women to discuss the matter alone at home with their husbands. 

God is a God of order and peace, and He wants order when the Church comes together.  When the gifts of the Spirit are given an unscriptural focus, it discredits the true work of the Holy Spirit, and often leads people to deny the gifts because they see unbiblical excess.  However, the order should always be the order of the living, not the dead!  Some have cultivated an atmosphere of gloom and depression; “But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” (v. 40)

“Why, brethren, true praise sets the heart ringing its bells, and hanging out its streamers.  Never hang your flag at half-mast when you praise God; no, run up every color, let every banner wave in the breeze, and let all the powers and passions of your spirit exult and rejoice in God your Savior.  They rejoiced.  We are most horribly afraid of being too happy.  Some Christians think cheerfulness a very dangerous folly, if not a ruinous vice.”  (Charles Spurgeon)