1 Corinthians 9 Devotion

This hangs on my daughter’s wall! It is a reminder to live our lives as Paul does: “I run in such a way, as NOT without aim.” The reason much of the world lives without aim is because they do not have a sure and certain target as we do. We are promised an imperishable reward because we believe in the gospel. Eternal life with Christ our Savior awaits us.

But how does Paul live with intention and aim? Well, it’s not only for himself but that other might be rescued from the penalty of sin. But there are plenty of hindrances among our lives and the lives of others that require us to live with intention.

Over and over, Paul reveals to the Corinthians that he had not made use of several rights he had as an apostle. To be a people who have their aim on Christ and eternal joy with him most certainly should give up various rights we have for the sake of making the gospel known to others.

In Paul’s defense, he mentions eating and drinking, marriage, not working a side job to support his ministry to them to which it seems he must prove with more evidence. He appeals to the OT for reference: “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” Verse 14 summarizes it like this: “the Lord has directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.” In other words, it is good and right for churches to fully support their pastor(s) (and missionaries) in the ministry of the gospel.

The ministry of the gospel takes more than certain people being free from concern about their finances. There are many hinderances in this world to the gospel. Some of them occur within the church as Paul has addressed. But others have to do with various hang ups people have. It takes intentional aim to navigate how to maintain the one gospel in various circles of life.

It mostly has to do with being selfless “that I may by all means save some.” It takes an intentional aim to win the prize of eternal life. It takes discipline to make our body our slave rather than being a slave to our body. There’s no reason to do this if something greater does not await us.

Resurrection is coming. Live like it is! There will be plenty of time to enjoy life when the greater and better Eden is restored!

1 Corinthians 6-8 Devotion

1 Corinthians 6-8

What does a disciple of Christ look like and what is one’s purpose?

—Why not rather be wronged?

—Why not rather be defrauded?

—(New identity) such *were some of you; but you *were washed, but you *were sanctified, but you *were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ

—Flee immorality because your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit

—You are not your own

—You have been bought with a price…conclusion? Therefore glorify God in your body

—You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men

—to promote what is appropriate and to secure *undistracted devotion to the Lord

—love edifies…if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. Therefore if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.

I want undistracted devotion to the Lord! I want to flee immorality. I want to glorify God in my body. I want to love and be loved! I am not my own! Lord do whatever you please with me!

1 Corinthians 5 Devotion

1 Corinthians 5

This chapter is hard to read. I mentioned back in chapter 3 that I wished all we had to deal with was jealousy and strife. I knew this chapter was coming and I intentionally said those things to try and read this letter as if I hadn’t read it before.

Why? Have you wondered why Paul did mention this grievous sin first? Could it be that the disunity among them led to their lack of response and, as Paul calls it, arrogance?

Sin, no matter its “size” causes damage. It hardens our hearts and fractures our relationships. By its very nature, sin separates. It puts distance between us and God and each other.

We lack discernment when we are jealous. Strife breeds anger and bitterness. The fact that they are allowing sexual immorality to happen among them and continue on as if nothing is wrong is very telling of them (and any church).

I’m afraid the church is afraid that it would hinder our attempt to reach our community with the gospel to discipline someone in the church for this. Sadly, that is probably just an excuse. We aren’t reaching our community with the gospel.

I’d suggest the community expects the church to say sexual immorality is wrong. I’d suggest they will not listen to you share the gospel with them if they know you are allowing such grievous sin among you. Is that what it looks like to follow Jesus?

Brothers and sisters we must trust God’s ways. We must trust that they are right and good. We must desire to live for the glory of God together. We need each other. May the beauty of Christ compel us to live together like this.

1 Corinthians 4 Devotion

1 Corinthians 4

I think I need the rod, Paul. I read this and weep because I have so often given up opportunities to be what Paul describes himself to be like…he is imitating Christ and he was asking them to imitate him.

Only servants are entrusted with the mysteries of the gospel. You would think that God would give such precious things to higher people. But the Lord doesn’t work that way. To carry the words of the cross requires that you also carry the bloody cross yourself. Our identity is bound up the humiliation of Jesus.

These are strange ambitions (to the world) that Paul calls us to imitate. Last of all, as men condemned to death, a spectacle to the world, fools for Christ, weak, without honor, hungry and thirsty, poorly clothed, and homeless.

May we display Christ in the world today as we live oddly in the world. When you are reviled, bless…when persecuted, don’t give up…when slandered, conciliate. Don’t try to climb out of your worldly status…scum of the world and the dregs of all things.

Let us boast in Christ our King!

1 Corinthians 3 Devotion

1 Corinthians 3

It hit me as I finished reading this just how basic Paul’s approach was to correcting disunity. He confronts them. He speaks rather clearly about their current condition. He boasts in God. He warns them. He points them to things beyond this world!

As I began reading I thought to myself/I prayed that I would not be fleshly. This scares me because they didn’t see this in themselves nor would I see it in myself. We need each other….we need “Chloe’s people” seeing this and going to Paul about it.

We need then a Paul to confront us. Isn’t it uncommon to see this happen? Do we as believers not LONG FOR our brothers and sisters in Christ to help us see these fleshly things in our lives? Do we not want to be rid of them? If only there were some courageous and godly people in our lives to do what Paul does here.

As I think back to times when I grew the most it was a time when I was confronted on a regular basis by brothers who loved me enough to correct me. What’s happened in the church that we don’t want anyone telling us what to do?

I wonder how Paul would describe the church in our day? He seems pretty hard with his words about people in the church who are dealing with some jealousy and strife. If that were the only things to be addressed in our day!

I am nothing but all things belong to me and I belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God and that is enough!

I Corinthians 2 Devotion

1 Corinthians 2

The gospel was once foolishness to you. If you are believing in the gospel now it’s not because you figured it out. It’s not because someone explained it to you perfectly. You believe because the Holy Spirit opened your eyes!

Since the message of the cross is foolish to unbelievers and we want them to believe that doesn’t mean we need a “professional” or the pastor to share the gospel with them. There’s no need to think you are not a good enough speaker to share the gospel. Don’t think, “Well they’re never going to understand this with me telling them.”

Brilliant men and women CANNOT understand the gospel. The gospel must be told but that’s ALL we can do. We must pray and trust the Lord to do only what He can do!

So do not try any underhanded tactics like having them bow their head and close their eyes…raise their hand…repeat a prayer after you. When the Spirit awakens them to the wretchedness of their heart and beauty of the cross of Christ they know how to respond!

Please know the freedom and joy in sharing the foolishness of the cross with anyone because God is the One who saves!

And if you have believed, rejoice because a miracle has happened in you!

1 Corinthians 1 Devotion

1 Corinthians 1

The battle for unity within the church is always a battle. No one drifts into unity. It must be sought after and maintained. Never assume it’s automatic because it is a church or because people claim to be believers. Yet, there’s hope for unity because of those things.

Paul’s intro unites the church in Corinth with everyone who calls on the name of *our Lord and *their Lord (that’s some impressive writing)!

Paul begins his address by giving thanks for the grace that God had given them. That grace had made them rich, not monetarily, but in speech and all knowledge.

Paul affirms God’s work of grace in them and affirms their assurance because of this grace. Notice this: (the NASB is more accurate here) 1 Corinthians 1:6, 8 “even as the testimony concerning Christ was *confirmed in you…who will also *confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” From the second you believe to your last breathe, you are his and will be confirmed TO THE END!

That doesn’t mean they never need correcting. Indeed, the warnings and corrections are the means by which the Lord sees to it that they are confirmed to the end! Evidence of grace never nullifies exhortation. In fact, it is the very reason and hope of correction.

Now a word about unity. Unity doesn’t mean uniformity. What I mean is this, we are all united in and in union with Jesus Christ through the gospel. However, we are all different. God has made the world to be diverse. Not every tree or animal or plant or human being is the same. God loves diversity and we should too. But God hates disunity.

Disunity in Corinth was uniting one’s self with one particular teacher that had helped teach them. We are all prone towards different groups within the church. It’s extremely rare that we can be best friends with everyone. I don’t think that’s necessary. But we are called to have the same mind and judgment when it comes to gospel of Christ!

These groups can come about by…well I have this study Bible or I listen to this podcast or I like this preacher or my theology is this or that. Do not rally around a preacher but around Jesus and gospel. I’m not dismissing theology. But what unites us is this: 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

4 There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-

5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4:2-6

Be very eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit!

Acts 19 Devotion

Acts 19

I remember years ago this chapter solidifying for me that discipleship was the most essential means for the mission God had given his church that results in our purpose to glorify the Lord.

When I read 19:8-10 I was so upset and so eager that I was just a mess. I was upset as I pondered the lack of discipleship in the church but eager to see this change! I doubt that I could explain the extent of how simple discipleship in my life has resulted in much fruit for many others over the years.

If I could persuade you to be upset and eager to get serious about something it would be discipleship. Will this not convince you?

9 …he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.

10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. – Acts 19:9-10

Teaching/reasoning for two years resulted in all the residents of Asia hearing the word of the Lord. Please see this! Please, Lord, open our eyes that we might get this!

With tears, I write this! People are dying without Christ! How many in the recent days due to this virus have entered eternal death? I am convinced that discipleship is the means by which eternal life will spread through out the globe just like this virus!

They will burn their books and the coppersmiths will be out of business. I recall the day we ditched our music and movies that did not honor the Lord! We were free! We even got rid of weights…those things that weren’t necessarily sinful but hindered us from enduring the race!

Will you please consider getting alone with the Lord and asking him to show you what discipleship should look like in your life? We don’t have time to add disciples; we must multiply disciples. Please respond!

2 Thessalonians Devotion

2 Thessalonians 3

I suppose there’s always been and always will be people who underestimate and overestimate the evil one. If you need a good reason to pray, here’s one in verse one. Evil men and the evil one (Satan) is feverishly at work to stop the rapid spread of God’s Word and it being glorified!

What should you know before praying? The Lord is faithful. Because of that, he will strengthen and protect you and those you pray for. I, with Paul, am confident that you are doing this and will continue to do so. Verse 5 is one of those quick prayers that we should master: May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. – 2 Thessalonians 3:5

I bet some of the rest of this chapter sounds odd to many. Maybe it’s helpful to ask this question, “Where were these perverse and evil men Paul speaks of in verse 2?” I think the clue is “not all have faith” and the instructions in the rest of this chapter.

I think this means they are from within the church. Brothers (professing believers) who live “unruly” will hinder the rapid spread of the gospel. Paul had given them clear examples of how both ministry and work should been done. So, those who are leading undisciplined lives should be ashamed. The way Paul commands this to happen is by withdrawing from them in hopes of restoration.

Sin within the body is a big deal. There are those who are members that do not have faith. There are those who are members that live unruly and need to be admonished. Why? For sake of God’s glory and the spread of the gospel!!!

I’ll leave you with this, if a brother or sister in Christ (specifically those you are in covenant membership with) are living unruly lives you must do something to show them their error. Your relationship cannot go on as “normal” and expect them to get it or be ashamed.

My prayer for you: Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. – 2 Thessalonians 3:16

2 Thessalonians 2 Devotion

2 Thessalonians 2

I love Paul’s dual description: the coming of *our Lord Jesus Christ AND *our gathering to Him! We are a communal people. And someday we will commune together with God forever!

However, what if someone convinced you that the Lord had already come? What a reason to give up if Jesus has already come. But he hasn’t come yet!

A sign of maturity is knowing that you can be deceived. To be deceived means someone caused you to believe something that’s not true without you knowing what they did. The mature believer knows this can happen and is therefore very cautious with EVERYBODY that teaches the Bible.

Another sign of maturity is simply knowing what the Bible says in order not to be deceived. Of course, it’s usually not obvious. It’s often a mixture of error and truth which needs mature discernment.

Be the one praying for wisdom. Be the one to question the crowd about that which isn’t the truth. Be the one who knows which hills to die on and which ones that are not worth it.

All that needed to be said but let’s not end there. Notice how Paul addresses them, “beloved by the Lord!” What does it mean to be beloved by the Lord? You are beloved because you were chosen for salvation from the beginning.

Why? That you might “gain the glory of our Lord Jesus.” These are reasons…hopeful reasons to “stand firm and hold to” the truth.

My prayer for you is this: 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Eternal comfort and good hope in Christ. Let that strengthen your hearts, beloved by the Lord!