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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Acts 4: The Cornerstone

The healing of a beggar in chapter three provoked a commotion and all the officials come to see what is going on. They demand to know by what power these things are being accomplished. The Apostles declare plainly through the power of the Holy Spirit that it was in the name of Jesus. (Notice that the Holy Spirit empowers them to testify about the resurrection of Jesus… Make no mistake the book of Acts is about Jesus.)

Peter presses in to the rulers that they are the ones who crucified Jesus. He references a teaching moment of Jesus just prior to his death, burial and resurrection (2 months before this event… You can find it in Matthew 21:33-46). Jesus tells a parable about wicked tenants who reject the owners right over a certain property and ultimately kill the owners son. He then goes on to quote Psalm 118:22-23 and says “the stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” implicating the Pharisees rejection of Jesus (and by association murder).

Now Peter throws it out again, this time spelling it out just in case they didn’t get it. “Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the chief corner stone” (Acts 4:11, ESV). Any attempt to build a platform to reach up to Heaven must have the Risen Christ as the corner stone. These men in the temple not only rejected Jesus but among them were men who set in motion the false arrest, trial and murder of Jesus.

These are some wicked dudes and Peter lets them know. But here is where the real power of the gospel lies… The sovereign plan of God takes the most wicked sin imaginable (the murder of GOD – John 1:1-3) and uses that very same act to cause the greatest good man has ever known (redemption and the forgiveness of sins) through the resurrection… They meant it for evil… but God intended it for good.

What a glorious God we serve. Every attempt to trump the gospel is turned on its head and proves the gospel even more true: Injustice is transformed into lavish grace, where men pour out their hatred, the love of God is made manifest, where men fight to exercise control, God proves his sovereign plan.

Acts 3: The Generosity of God

The book of Acts is record of how the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The emphasis of the first three chapters is on the power of the Holy Spirit to complete that mission. In chapter one the apostles are told to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit (1:4). In chapter two the Holy Spirit comes in Power and three thousand souls are added to the church (2:41). Now in chapter three, through the power of the Holy Spirit a lame man is healed.

This story is really amazing because it testifies to the generosity of God! Here there is a man who was born lame is sitting as close to the temple as he can get (lame men weren’t permitted inside the temple). He has no source of income, no disability check, no food stamps. He simply depends on the generosity of others. He’s no fool. He sits by the temple at the time of prayer where people will be coming in and out. He’s also situated close to where the  money changers would be doing business and as a result strangers would have a few more lose coins than normal. He begs to survive… to get by. He doesn’t have a lot of money… He’s a beggar with no hope of ever improving his situation.

But then he sees Peter and John and they don’t have any money to give him. Instead they lock eyes with him and offer them what they do have… The generous power of God to heal a beggar! Do you get it? Do you see the irony. The Beggar doesn’t have any money. That’s why he begs. He’s poor. He’s destitute. He can’t even walk. All he can do is beg. All he can do is ask for help and on this day GOD answers.

The Apostles reach out their hands and command him “Get up.” Such a harsh command for a man who cannot respond on his own, no matter how much he wills it. His body broken from birth. But something happens… he is able! God has made him able! This man who had nothing to offer. This man who has nothing to give for the miracle… gets up and walks! And he walks, no… skips right into the temple (3:8). He’s praising God. Ten minutes before, he was a lame man, but now he walks with Apostles.

How great is God that he gives to those who cannot repay Him. He is generous beyond all measure. This man who was unable to enter the temple because of his deformity is now made able by the working of the Holy Spirit. If God can heal a lame man’s body, He is most certainly able to save us all from our own spiritual bankruptcy.

Acts 2: Babel has Come Undone in Jerusalem

Descent of the Holy Spirit DoreSo here we are in Acts 2. The Apostles have stayed in Jerusalem at the Lord’s request (Acts 1:4). Jerusalem is the launching point for the gospel to go to the whole world (Acts 1:8).  They have been with the risen Christ for forty days before he ascended into heaven (Acts 1:3) and now they have waited another ten days for the Holy Spirit to come (Pentecost occurs 50 days after the Passover… Jesus was crucified at the time of the Passover). I’ve written before about Pentecost, you can read a brief PDF here.

As we anticipated yesterday something amazing happens because the disciples were obedient to the Lord’s command. The Holy Spirit comes, they preach, and three thousand souls are added to the church that day (2:41)… They are indeed fishing for men (Luke 5:1-11).

What is truly amazing is that through the power of the Holy Spirit each person is hearing the gospel in their own language. It’s the tower of Babel in reverse (Genesis 11:1-9). At the tower of Babel God had confused the language of the people because of their sin and rebellion. But now Jesus has made the ultimate sacrifice for sin. He is calling lost sinners to come home. He speaks to them through their own native language here in Jerusalem and ultimately the gospel will reach to the very ends of the earth (Revelation 5:9). What was done at Babel was coming undone.

What’s compelling here is that these men, the Apostles have come to Jerusalem. It’s not their home. This point is driven almost to the point of absurdity when men of the crowd recognize them as Galileans (2:7). This was a big deal the day because Galilee was a somewhat recently resettled state of Israel. They would have had the reputation of back wood hicks (John 1:46) and probably looked and talked differently than the folks in Jerusalem (Luke 22:59).

At this point you’re probably saying, I get that they were from Galilee… What’s the big deal? Exactly! You’re supposed to ask that! You are supposed to see that the disciples didn’t go to their home first (in all fairness they had already been there through the years of ministry with Jesus)! They went to the city and they went to the city on the day that everyone from all over the world would be there. The gospel went to the nations by way of Jerusalem because the nations were in Jerusalem that day (2:-11)!

I think the bigger point here is to obey God (even in the small things) after all it’s His plan. Yet how often do we put our confidence in the flesh thinking WE have a snazzy plan… of course our snazzy plan usually discounts the Spirit of God and chalks things like a language barrier as impossible to over come or at least a long way off. Can you imagine if the disciples had packed it in and tried to gain a stronger foothold in Galilee?

What Is My Body Language Saying When I Pray?

So this thought has been on my mind for a while now.  When I got my undergraduate degree I minored in communication.  One of the first things they teach you in communication class is that verbal communication (speaking) is only a small portion of communication.  Non-verbal communication also plays a key role in how people understand your message. You and I get this.  If I never make eye-contact with you while talking to you in a private conversation, you will think somethings up.  If you say yes and shake your head no, I’ll be confused.  If you frown at me and tell me that I did an outstanding job, I might think you’re mad about it.  We get non-verbal communication.

We judge people on how they present themselves. We evaluate the kind of handshakes we receive when meeting a client or sales person for the first time.  We imagine that students who wear nice cloths are more respectful to the teacher than those who show up to class with their hair disheveled wearing a t-shirt.

Our body language says a lot.  So why is it that when it comes to communication with God, we would want to leave that out?  I know God knows our heart and doesn’t need us to get on our knees to signal that we are ready to talk with and listen to Him.  Forget for a moment how the message is received.  I’m confident that God knows our own hearts better than we do.  I’m more concerned about what we are actually saying when we don’t assume a posture that expresses what our heart is saying. Can you really call out to God face down on your pillow a few minutes before you drift to sleep?  Why not kneel or lay on your face on the cold hard ground.  One of the things I noticed reading through the Bible is the physical response of people to God.  It’s not as though God doesn’t understand the heart, but I’m not sure our heart is really saying what we want it to if we can’t make our bodies say it as well.

I’m sure these aren’t new thoughts.  I’m learning more and more about a false dichotomy that exists in me and many others between the mind and body.  I’m thankful for what I have learned about Bonhoeffer and others when it comes to “making our bodies say what our heart is saying.”

How about you? What are your thoughts on the body language of prayer?
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