Day 50: 1 Corinthians 10-12 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Corinthians 10-12 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

There is a lot going on at the church in Corinth. There were lots of divisions and factions (11:18-19). Much of this letter is written by Paul to address these issues that cloud the church. With a rich understanding of Old Testament history, we might really appreciate the pastoral way in which Paul addresses the people who first received this letter (10:1-13).  He reminds his hearers that there is always a way out of the temptations they will face (10:13).

As Christians, we have an obligation to look after each other, especially our weaker brothers (10:24). The church is not designed to be full of mature Christians. The church is more like a spiritual nursery. There is a very real sense in which we do have an obligation to help others grow in Christ, while at the same time bringing people to Christ. We don’t abandon weaker brothers because they are weak.  Mature believers, like parents, seek out what’s best for the immature believers around them (10:31).

SIDE NOTE: I’ve heard other pastors say, “God has called me to be fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium.” I get what they are after, but I don’t think Paul would have said that. I don’t think that is what Jesus had in mind either. In fact, if I had to pick a biblical character to put that quote with, I’d give it to Cain, because it reeks like the statement, “am I my brothers keeper?” Such statements are short sighted and miss the whole counsel of scripture.

While seeking to restore unity, Paul addresses issues that have arisen around the Lord’s Supper. A meal that was supposed to be a common table had become grounds for division (11:18). He also begins to explain why we need each other in the body of Christ and how we have all been gifted differently (12:12).

FATHER, We pray for the unity of the church today. We ask that we would be united in Christ and not divided by petty differences. We ask for the grace to have real spiritual concern for one another and that we would look out for one another, especially those who are weaker. I ask that you would help each one of us understand our calling and gifting in the body of Christ that we might be an encouragement to one another. Thank you for the calling to lead your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 49: 1 Corinthians 7-9 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Corinthians 7-9 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

There is a lot of tension in today’s reading. Chapter seven addresses how believers are to regard marriage in a fallen world. Keep in mind that each scenario that Paul addresses probably represented a question that had been asked of him by individuals who were seeking to live our their faith.

Chapter eight highlights the issue of eating food that has been sacrificed to idols. The idea is to not cause a weaker brother to stumble (8:9). In other words we are to show a high regard for those who are of like faith, but have a weaker opinion on  matters (say drinking, smoking, how you dress on Sundays etc.).  Don’t cause a brother to stumble(8:13).

However in chapter nine the Apostle Paul lays out the famous phrase,  “I have become all things to all people” (9:22). Paul wants to remove barriers to the gospel (9:23). So when with orthodox Jews he doesn’t eat pork, and when with gentile believers he enjoys the bacon they put on his plate.

In our current cultural dialogue we might ask something like, “Does formal attire present a barrier to the gospel?” Well then I’ll wear jeans and a t-shirt. If lack of formal attire presents a barrier then I’ll wear formal attire… The idea is to not let something as silly as clothing style prevent others from having an opportunity to knowing God. My wardrobe can change for the sake of the gospel, but the gospel cannot be changed for the sake of my wardrobe.

To apply this thought we should be asking questions like: What prevents our neighbors from hearing and responding to the gospel? Do they stumble over Christ himself or is it a man made barrier in their way? Are we willing to remove barriers for the sake of the gospel?

FATHER, We pray for families. We lift up those who are planning and preparing for marriage. We lift up those who are single. We pray for those where believers are yoked with unbelievers and in each situation we ask for your peace and guidance. We pray that we would take care to not intentionally cause offense to our brothers. We pray for grace and guidance to remove barriers to the gospel. Thank you for the grace of shepherding your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 48: 1 Corinthians 4-6 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Corinthians 4-6 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

It is the Lord who judges me (4:4).  If it’s true for Paul then it is true for us. Jesus will be our judge. No one knows our heart. People may hate us. They may love us and be our biggest fans. However, the truth is that their opinion doesn’t count in the courts of Heaven. The God of all the universe will judge us rightly and He knows us.  Others can and will practice their own judgement, but it doesn’t matter. Those words of discouragement. Those word’s of flattery. Those whispers of doubt… They don’t really count in the one court that really matters. It’s before Jesus that we individually stand or fall.

On the other hand. There is no fooling God. He knows our hearts. We’ve not always been what we should be, thought what we should think, or done what we should do. We should be aware that the God of the universe will be our judge and He cannot be deceived.

As we dig deeper into 1 Corinthians we see a church that is divided on many fronts. Some were puffed up with pride and judging others not reckoning that we each stand or fall before the Lord (4:1-5). They had allowed open and blatant sin to go on unaddressed in the congregation (5:2). There were some who were so far at odds with one another that they were suing their brothers. They couldn’t even find someone from within the church to mediate their troubles (6:5). The behavior is so bad (6:8) that Paul has to remind the church at Corinth that the unrighteous won’t be in Heaven (6:9). He urges them to remember that(if they are truly saved) they are no longer what they were but that they are completely new in Christ (6:11).

FATHER, We pray for the unity of your church today. We pray for grace to know that each one of us will stand or fall before you our Maker and our Master. We ask for grace to lead lives that bring you glory and that when we do stand before you, we will hear the words, “Well Done.” We ask for grace not to judge our brothers more harshly than we ought. We pray for discernment and boldness to address blatant sin when it would appear in our midst. We ask that we would be jealous for the holiness of YOUR church. Thank you for the amazing grace of the gospel and the transformation that has taken place in our lives. We pray for brothers and sisters who find themselves in conflict and we ask not for the wisdom of man, but the power of God to bring about reconciliation and peace. Thank you for the grace to lead your church. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 47: 1 Corinthians 1-3 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from 1 Corinthians 1-3 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

Is Christ divided (1:13a)? Why are His people so often divided? Sometimes we have following the ways of a man rather than following Christ (1:12)! We have made an idol out of the wisdom of men instead of the power of God (2:5). Paul warns the church in Corinth and he warns us today… don’t be divided (1:10)!

I have to catch myself. Sometimes it can be tempting to think that if we just develop the right strategy, more people will come to faith in Christ. We can chase program after program looking for the right one. I think that if I can just make myself more appealing it will bring a better harvest. The thing we really need the most, is not a polished man made philosophy, but the power of God!

I’m glad that Paul knew he didn’t have anything to offer but the gospel. I am grateful that he was weak by the world’s standards (2:1-5). It gives me hope to know that God uses weak men (1:27). Because I pray that He uses me.

Side Note: I am confident that power in the pulpit is directly related to prayer in the pews.Where we are unified, God is glorified.  I am extremely grateful for those who pray for me every week! I am really humbled by today’s reading. It’s a great way to start a Sunday! Let’s be focused on looking for the power of God to reveal Himself through His Word!

FATHER, We pray for the unity of your church today! We pray that our focus would be on you and not a man made philosophy or the way we think things ought to be. We don’t look for worldly wisdom, we look for you. We need spiritual discernment. Examine our hearts. Humble us. Draw us to faith and repentance. Make us more and more into the image of Jesus. We pray for salvation and faith today. Thank you for the calling to lead your people. We lift our voice and ask for the advancement of your kingdom! IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 46: Romans 16 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Romans 16 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In today’s reading the first sixteen verses present a long list of people that the Apostle Paul and others know and recognize as genuine believers with pure motives. Then in verse seventeen Paul makes a stern warning for those who have an unholy ambition to serve themselves.

The point I took away is this, some people serve in the church as servants of God and are truly Kingdom first people. God is their king, their motives are pure, and they really want to see God glorified. They don’t serve for recognition, they don’t jockey for power, they just give and give generously of their time, money and effort to see God’s kingdom expand.

Others though use the same means to draw people away from the kingdom. They are divisive and self serving.They advertise a false doctrine.

Note, though where the line is. It’s over “doctrine contrary to what you have been taught” (16:17). It’s not over error or differing opinions on less than doctrinal matters. This isn’t a call to arms against those who are preaching truth from wrong motives (Philippians 1:15-18), or like Apollos who needed a little more education in the gospel (Acts 18:24-28), this is a call against those who are teaching divisive, false doctrine.

Be on guard, keep the gospel pure, but don’t be trigger happy and send out friendly fire either. Some people in error just need a better education in the gospel.

FATHER, I thank you for your many faithful servants who love you and labor to see you exalted in everything. I pray that we are faithful to you and encouraging to one another. I pray that you would protect the unity of Spirit that is among us and preserve us in your love. I pray that we would be aware of those with false motives. I pray that we would be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Give us wisdom and discernment in dealing with those who seek to destroy your body. Thank you for the distinct privilege of leading your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 45: Romans 13-15 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

CONGRATULATIONS!!! We are half way through the 90 Day Reading Plan! Keep up the good work! Today’s reading comes from Romans 13-15 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

As the Apostle Paul works from theology to application, he writes that Christians are to be subject to the governing authorities (13:1) and pay taxes (13:7). We are to love our neighbors as ourselves which keeps the last five commandments (13:9-10). [Side note: I find it interesting that the command to honor your father and mother isn’t listed here. It seems that in Paul’s mind that command goes with the first four that deal with God. We will be addressing this command this Sunday at Little Escambia Baptist Church. ]

In chapter fourteen, Paul challenges us on two fronts. On the one hand we have freedom in Christ. Some Christians will do things differently than others and it’s not up to us to judge. We all stand and fall before the Lord (14:10-13). On the other hand we need to be careful in our freedom that we don’t cause others to stumble. We should be mindful of how our actions will effect others and be a source of encouragement not discouragement (14:19-20).

Paul wraps up this section with reminding us that to mature in Christ is to be concerned with the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We should not seek to offend in our liberty, but we should seek unity of Spirit.

FATHER, We pray for those who govern us and are in an authority over us. We pray for their salvation. We ask for peace. We pray for the grace to love our neighbors both in thought and practice. We pray that we would make no provision for the flesh, but that we would “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Guard our hearts from sin and draw us near to you. We ask that we would be content to let you judge us and our brothers and that we would seek unity in name of Jesus. Thank you for the grace to pastor your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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Day 44: Romans 10-12 (NEW TESTAMENT 90)

Today’s reading comes from Romans 10-12 follow the link provided here to read the ESV online.

In Romans 10 Paul continues to point the readers to faith in Christ. Romans 10:2 is the verse that the Lord used to bring me to conviction of sin in my own life. I realized that I had a religious zeal for the things of God, but I didn’t know the LORD.  Hearing that particular Word of God at that time produced saving faith in my own heart (10:17).

Chapter 11 deals with questions about Israel (God’s chosen people) and their presumed rejection of Jesus. It is not as though the purpose of God has failed, but that it has been enlarged (11:12).

Moving into chapter 12, the Apostle Paul begins to write with more application in mind.  Most of what Paul has written so far, has been laying the foundation of a good theology. You will notice this trend in almost all of Paul’s letters. Theology comes first then the practical application flows last. This is what we see in Romans: Man is sinful, Jesus died to bring you to God, God is sovereign, therefore work together, love your enemies and trust God to deal out justice.

[SIDE NOTE: The point of a good theology is action. Some people live with a false dichotomy between theology and action. They say they believe one thing and behave another way. Then others just reverse the false dichotomy and say its all about action and forget why they do what they do. The truth is to have a fully colored in worldview you need to not only respond to God in faith, but know that previously you were separated from God by your sins.]

A love that focuses on the action and not the principle isn’t any kind of real love anyway. Its a coerced at best and a thin veneer over vileness at worst. Only resting in real truth about God and his character will ever free you to truly love your enemies

FATHER, Thank you that Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. I pray your word would go out far and wide today and many would put their faith and trust in you. I pray for boldness on our part to share the gospel so that others might believe. I praise you that you are too infinate to fully comprehend and humble myself to realize that I need your counsel in every area of my life. I pray that you would equip me to do my part in the body of Christ and exercise the gifts that you have given me, for your glory and the edification of the church. I pray that my heart rests in you today and I love others in the same radical way that I am loved by you. Help me to grow even more in my knowledge of your love. Thank you for the calling to preach your word and prepare your people. I pray that I would walk faithfully with you all the days of my life. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN,

What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.

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