Saturday 31 August, 2013

1 Corinthians 15:12-19

12 We have preached that Christ has been raised from the dead. So how can some of you say that no one rises from the dead? 13 If no one rises from the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, what we preach doesn’t mean anything. Your faith doesn’t mean anything either. 15 More than that, we would be lying about God. We have given witness that God raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if the dead are not raised. 16 If the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith doesn’t mean anything. Your sins have not been forgiven. 18 Those who have died believing in Christ are also lost. 19 Do we have hope in Christ only for this life? Then people should pity us more than anyone else.

The truth that Paul told the Corinthians about how Jesus had died for them and been raised was absolutely transforming and liberating. Because Jesus was raised, I can know I will also be raised into the fullness of eternal life. But some in the Corinthian church “knew better” and told people there is no resurrection. The consequence on those who listened to them could be completely devastating (as Paul spells out here).

I need to be really careful that what I say, especially about God and what he says. If I tell the truth, I can set people free. But if I deviate from that truth I can cause real harm to people.

The truth is an integral part of my relationship with God. The Holy Spirit leads me into truth (John 14:26, 15:26-7 and many more). And it’s so important to take whatever I say about God back to the Bible and check that it really does say what I think it says (1 John 4:1).

Father, give me a real passion for your truth. Speak your truth into my life. Give me a heart to receive it and let it change my life, and the words to speak the truth to others with grace.

Written by David Cornell

1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    As you have said David, sometimes we are called upon to speak the truth and occasionally we are called upon to defend the truth. It is clear from this passage that if you only defend one fact from the Bible then it should be that Jesus was raised from the dead three days after his crucifixion. —-

    Your statement about checking what is said against what the Bible says is so important. In Acts 17:11 Paul commends a group of people called the Bereans for their commitment to checking what has been send against the ‘written word of God’.
    Thanks David

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Friday 30 August, 2013

1 Corinthians 15: 1–11

15 Brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the good news I preached to you. You received it and have put your faith in it. 2 Because you believed the good news, you are saved. But you must hold firmly to the message I preached to you. If you don’t, you have believed it for nothing. 3 What I received I passed on to you. And it is the most important of all. Here is what it is. Christ died for our sins, just as Scripture said he would. 4 He was buried. He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as Scripture said he would be. 5 He appeared to Peter. Then he appeared to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than 500 believers at the same time. Most of them are still living. But some have died. 7 He appeared to James. Then he appeared to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, he also appeared to me. I was like someone who wasn’t born at the right time or in a normal way. 9 I am the least important of the apostles. I’m not even fit to be called an apostle. I tried to destroy God’s church. 10 But because of God’s grace I am what I am. And his grace was not wasted on me. No, I have worked harder than all the other apostles. But I didn’t do the work. God’s grace was with me. 11 So whether it was I or the other apostles who preached to you, that is what we preach. And that is what you believed.

It is good to be reminded of the basics of the gospel. Not that we forget it, but sometimes we start to take it for granted.

In Luke 7, Jesus says of the woman who poured perfume on his feet  “Her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.” Paul says a similar thing here – that he works even harder for the gospel because of the great grace shown him – being called by God and forgiven after persecuting the church.

I think we need to remind ourselves frequently of God’s grace and love for us in calling and forgiving us. Meditate afresh today on what Jesus did for you.

Written by Megan Cornell

1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    It is a little scarey to think that God’s grace can go to waste. It is actually the extravagant nature of grace (undeserved favor) that risks the possibility of waste. — In simple terms you would say ‘every time someone shows undeserved favor they are risking it not being appreciated’ — The risk of waste is actually a manifestation of God’s love.

    Your example in Luke 7:36 is great for meditation on the subject. As a result I have to admit I am a waster of God’s grace towards me!

    Your post is simply stated but it has had a big effect on me.
    Thank you Megan

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Thursday 29 August, 2013

1 Corinthians 14: 26-40

26 Brothers and sisters, what should we say then? When you come together, every one of you brings something. You bring a hymn or a teaching or a word from God. You bring a message in another language or explain what was said. All of those things must be done to make the church strong. 27 No more than two or three people should speak in another language. And they should speak one at a time. Then someone must explain what was said. 28 If there is no one to explain, the speakers should keep quiet in the church. They can speak to themselves and to God. 29 Only two or three prophets are supposed to speak. Others should decide if what is being said is true. 30 What if a message from God comes to someone else who is sitting there? Then the one who is speaking should stop. 31 Those who prophesy can all take turns. In that way, everyone can be taught and be given hope. 32 Those who prophesy should control their speaking. 33 God is not a God of disorder. He is a God of peace. As in all the churches of God’s people, 34 women should remain silent in the meetings. They are not allowed to speak. They must follow the lead of those who are in authority, as the Law says. 35 If they have a question about something, they should ask their own husbands at home. It is shameful for women to speak in church meetings. 36 Did the word of God begin with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 Suppose some think they are prophets or have gifts of the Holy Spirit. They should agree that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 Anyone who does not recognize that will not be recognized. 39 Brothers and sisters, you should want to prophesy. And don’t stop people from speaking in languages they had not known before. 40 But everything should be done in a proper and orderly way.

Paul is very concerned about the chaos happening in the church meetings. People speaking over the top of one another and too many people exercising spiritual gifts and making the whole meeting loud and confusing. He instructs them that it is better if only one teaches, sings, prophesies, speaks in tongues and one interprets.  He doesn’t forbid more than one of each participating, but says that they must take turns and that they should always have the goal of strengthening each other. Women in the church were very enthusiastic and hungry for understanding, but Paul also wanted them to be orderly and rather than calling out in the church, to ask their questions of their husbands at home.

God is not a God of disorder but of peace and this is what we should reflect in our church meetings.  This isn’t to close down members who have gifts or prophesy to share, but to show respect to each other and to encourage ‘not yet believers’ who would be put off by confusing chaotic worship.  Sometimes I am just busting to say something in church which I think The Lord is prompting, but I feel this passage saying that it is better to wait my turn or to say it to the people concerned at a more appropriate time.  I love to see the spirit move and glorify God through individuals and build individuals up through his gifts, and this blesses the whole community as well.

Thank you Holy Spirit for bringing us the presence of God. Help us to use our gifts in ways which honour you, are up lifting to believers and demonstrate your peace.  Guard our fellowship from anything which is boastful or not of you.

Written by Dimity Milne

1 (reply)
  1. B says:

    Well said Dimity. You broached a difficult passage which is often misinterpreted with balance and truth. Thanks

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Wednesday 28 August, 2013

1 Corinthians 14:13-25

13 For that reason, those who speak in languages they had not known before should pray that they can explain what they say. 14 If I pray in another language, my spirit prays. But my mind does not pray. 15 So what should I do? I will pray with my spirit. But I will also pray with my mind. I will sing with my spirit. But I will also sing with my mind. 16 Suppose you are praising God with your spirit. And suppose there are visitors among you who don’t understand what’s going on. How can they say “Amen” when you give thanks? They don’t know what you are saying. 17 You might be giving thanks well enough. But the others are not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in other languages more than all of you do. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five words that people can understand than 10,000 words in another language. Then I would be teaching others. 20 Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. Be like babies as far as evil is concerned. But be grown up in your thinking. 21 In the Law it is written, “Through people who speak unfamiliar languages and through the lips of strangers I will speak to these people. But even then they will not listen to me.” (Isaiah 28:11,12) That is what the Lord says. 22 So speaking in other languages is a sign for those who don’t believe. It is not a sign for those who do believe. But prophecy is for believers. It is not for those who don’t believe. 23 Suppose the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in other languages. And suppose visitors or unbelievers come in. Won’t they say you are out of your minds? 24 But suppose unbelievers or visitors come in while everyone is prophesying. Then they will be shown by all who speak that they are sinners. They will be judged by all. 25 The secrets of their hearts will be brought out into the open. They will fall down and worship God. They will exclaim, “God is really here among you!”
1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    How inspiring is it to have visitors walking away from a church service saying “God is really here among you!”!

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Tuesday 27 August, 2013

1 Corinthians 14:1-12

14 Follow the way of love. You should also want the gifts the Holy Spirit gives. Most of all, you should want the gift of prophecy. 2 Anyone who speaks in a language he had not known before doesn’t speak to people. He speaks only to God. In fact, no one understands that person. What he says with his spirit remains a mystery. 3 But anyone who prophesies speaks to people. He says things to make them stronger, to give them hope and to comfort them. 4 Those who speak in other languages build themselves up. But those who prophesy build up the church. 5 I would like all of you to speak in other languages. But I would rather have you prophesy. Those who prophesy are more helpful than those who speak in other languages. But that is not the case if those who speak in other languages explain what they have said. Then the whole church can be built up. 6 Brothers and sisters, suppose I were to come to you and speak in other languages. What good would I be to you? None! I would need to come with new truth or knowledge, or a prophecy or a teaching. 7 Here are some examples. Certain objects make sounds. Take a flute or a harp. No one will know what the tune is unless different notes are played. 8 Also, if the trumpet call isn’t clear, who will get ready for battle? 9 It’s the same with you. You must speak words that people understand. If you don’t, no one will know what you are saying. You will just be speaking into the air. 10 It is true that there are all kinds of languages in the world. And they all have meaning. 11 But if I don’t understand what someone is saying, I am a stranger to that person. And that person is a stranger to me. 12 It’s the same with you. You want to have gifts of the Spirit. So try to do your best in using gifts that build up the church.

It seems to me that the motivation of this section is to encourage the church to “follow the way of love.” And for me, by inference, I sense that Paul is saying this comes down to seeking to always: strengthen, encourage and edify people (vs3); edify the church (vs4,5); bringing good to others in the form of revelation, knowledge, prophecy or words of encouragement (vs6); speak clearly and intelligibly to others, not in mysterious ways. And again, by inference, this is what the gifts of the Holy Spirit enable us to do.

For me, there is clear encouragement in these verses to seek the gifts of the Spirit, because they enable me to do the good that Paul encourages the Corinthians to seek to do to one another in the church. I want to be living in the way of love, and the gifts God graciously gives me enable me to do that. I am freshly encouraged to seek to follow the way of love as these verses describe towards my church family, and seek the Spirit’s enabling power and gifting to do so.

Lord, help me to lean upon your Holy Spirit to help me to follow the way of love in doing good to my church family, bringing words and actions that encourage, strengthen and edify your people. Help me to do this continually, as Paul encourages me to. Amen

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

1 (reply)
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Monday 26 August, 2013

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

13 Suppose I speak in the languages of human beings and of angels. If I don’t have love, I am only a loud gong or a noisy cymbal. 2 Suppose I have the gift of prophecy. Suppose I can understand all the secret things of God and know everything about him. And suppose I have enough faith to move mountains. If I don’t have love, I am nothing at all. 3 Suppose I give everything I have to poor people. And suppose I give my body to be burned. If I don’t have love, I get nothing at all. 4 Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. 5 It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people’s wrongs. 6 Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. 7 It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up. 8 Love never fails. But prophecy will pass away. Speaking in languages that had not been known before will end. And knowledge will pass away. 9 What we know now is not complete. What we prophesy now is not perfect. 10 But when what is perfect comes, the things that are not perfect will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child. I had the understanding of a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see only a dim likeness of things. It is as if we were seeing them in a mirror. But someday we will see clearly. We will see face to face. What I know now is not complete. But someday I will know completely, just as God knows me completely. 13 The three most important things to have are faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.

These are some of my most favourite and most challenging verses in the Bible. I love the way that Paul describes love – because He is giving me a picture of what God is like – because God IS love. But I can't just read this passage and think about how God loves. It is a call for me to live out this love in my relationships. It is a challenging reminder that I am NOTHING if I don't have love – the kind of love that is set out here.

These verses remind me that God wants me to be a conduit for love – not just a container.

He wants me to receive His love and then let it flow through me into the lives of the people He has placed around me. I have found that this can seem overwhelming – loving the way that this passage describes. But these verses also tell me that “love is patient and kind”. As God is love – I can read – “God is patient and kind” – towards me. He is ready to help me love like this – and He is patient and forgiving when I fall short. I don't have to be afraid – I just need to be available to let God love me and then love others the way that I have been loved.

Lord help me focus on this with new energy and hope.

Written by Ps.Linda Quinn

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2 replies
  1. David Newton says:

    I was discussing this scripture recently with someone and said how much I enjoy 1 Cor 13:1-8 because it has lots of verbs and is both a definition and a checklist we can frequently use in our own lives. —

    Linda, I love your proposition that ‘God is patient and kind’ towards us. I know that sometimes if we have a rough period in our lives we can start to think that God is all mean & prickly when in fact God is patient and kind.

    I think the quote of the day is ‘God wants me to be a conduit for love not just a container.’

    That is a great reflection, thanks Linda!

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Sunday 25 August, 2013

1 Corinthians 12:12-31

12 There is one body. But it has many parts. Even though it has many parts, they make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Greeks, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 The body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts. 15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” It is still part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” It is still part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body. 21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has joined together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy. 27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it. 28 First, God has appointed apostles in the church. Second, he has appointed prophets. Third, he has appointed teachers. Then he has appointed people who do miracles and those who have gifts of healing. He also appointed those able to help others, those able to direct things, and those who can speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. 29 Is everyone an apostle? Is everyone a prophet? Is everyone a teacher? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in languages they had not known before? Do all explain what is said in those languages? 31 But above all, you should want the more important gifts. And now I will show you the best way of all.

One of Paul’s most beautiful passages – we are all part of the body, the church – we all have a part to play – each and everyone one of us. What a great picture Paul paints for us. Its easy to understand the idea because we all understand that we need all the different parts of our bodies – that they all work together to achieve something amazing – life and more than that – us! There is more to life than just the chemistry and biology of our bodies working efficiently to keep us running. The same is true for the church – when we all work together well the sum is greater than the parts.

Do you want to be part of God’s great plan? There are so many things that seem small or unimportant but if they don’t get done then the more obvious or big things just can’t happen. Ask God to give you some ideas about where you fit and then we all need to hear what Paul is saying here in this passage (and to believe that it is really true) – all of the parts of the church body are important. How do we catch God’s excitement about His plan and our part in it? Ask Him to show us. I know I don’t do that enough.

Thank you so much God that You have a part for each of us in Your plan. That you want each of us to be excited and motivated to play that role. Help us to get the picture and to get excited.

Written by Therese Manning

2 replies
  1. Richard Botta says:

    A truly inspiring picture of God’s design for humanity. That I am needed by others to be me reminds me of God’s design for me. It also reminds me not to focus on myself.

  2. Dimity Milne says:

    It occurs to me that my body is made up of many parts and systems all functioning together, but that would be no use at all, I would just be in a coma if it was not for the spirit and consciousness that God gave me as a human being. In the same way the body of Christ, the church, has the Holy Spirit and consciousness of our relationship with God. This is what makes us a living body together.

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Saturday 24 August, 2013

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

12 Brothers and sisters, I want you to know about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. 2 You know that at one time you were unbelievers. You were somehow drawn away to worship statues of gods that couldn’t even speak. 3 So I tell you that no one who is speaking with the help of God’s Spirit says, “May Jesus be cursed.” And without the help of the Holy Spirit no one can say, “Jesus is Lord.” 4 There are different kinds of gifts. But they are all given by the same Spirit. 5 There are different ways to serve. But they all come from the same Lord. 6 There are different ways to work. But the same God makes it possible for all of us to have all those different things. 7 The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all. 8 To some people the Spirit gives the message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives the message of knowledge. 9 To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. 10 To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. 11 All of the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives them to each person, just as he decides.

I’ve had some refreshing moments in supermarkets over the years. I often move through them with purpose and speed, scanning shelves and comparing prices, filling up the trolley with food for the next week. On some occasions, however, my pace is slowed down by seeing someone unable to reach a tin on a shelf, someone whom I can help simply because I am taller or younger. There is something so satisfying about putting the tin in their hands and knowing I’ve saved them a little bit of trouble, it’s a brief but special exchange. Or on the flipside when I’m the one who’s dropped something and somebody stops to pick it up for me.

This interdependence isn’t always convenient, but it’s rich to give and receive. That’s what I see in this passage. God set things up so that we don’t have every spiritual gift ourselves, He didn’t download into us a complete package so that we can function independently. God gave us all different gifts, different kinds of work and different service for the common good. It’s only in the context of community that I can express the gifts God has given me as He designed them to be expressed. In this same community I am blessed when other people express their spiritual gifts, I receive something from God through His people.

Lord, help me to walk in this reality, help me carry this sense of vision into every church service, every Connect Group gathering, every time I have coffee with a believer, every phone call… Thank you God for what I have received from others faithfully serving you, enable me by your grace to give you away to those around me. Amen.

Written by Beth Waugh

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2 replies
  1. Dimity Milne says:

    Beth, you always have such a wise perspective and it comes from your gift of a servant heart. A special gift of the Spirit is the eyes of God to see the opportunities to give people what they need spiritually and in their immediate situations. I pray for this gift in greater measure too. Reaching out and reaching in with the love of God that the body of Christ will grow in strength and influence through the power that He gives us to know and build each other up. Holy Spirit make this action not just theory as I struggle, Amen

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Friday 23 August, 2013

1 Corinthians 11:23-34

23 I passed on to you what I received from the Lord. On the night the Lord Jesus was handed over to his enemies, he took bread. 24 When he had given thanks, he broke it. He said, “This is my body. It is given for you. Every time you eat it, do it in memory of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup. He said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do it in memory of me.” 26 When you eat the bread and drink the cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again. 27 So do not eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord in a way that isn’t worthy of him. If you do, you will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A person should take a careful look at himself before he eats the bread and drinks from the cup. 29 Anyone who eats and drinks must recognize the body of the Lord. If he doesn’t, God will judge him for it. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick. That is why a number of you have died. 31 We should judge ourselves. Then we would not be found guilty. 32 When the Lord judges us, he corrects us. Then we will not be judged along with the rest of the world. 33 My brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34 Those who are hungry should eat at home. Then when you come together, you will not be judged. When I come, I will give you more directions.

The most striking thing here is that Jesus himself has asked us to remember him by partaking of bread representing his broken body.  Jesus said it so it must be important!

The imagery of the breaking of bread resembling Jesus body is simple yet powerful.  We ingest the bread and it becomes part of us. For the believer, the sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross is part of our new identity. This truth shapes our lives eg. character and pursuits.

Bread in its many forms is a staple part of the diet, more often than not eaten on a daily basis.  It is also readily accessible to most people.

By regularly remembering Jesus broken body on the cross by partaking of the symbolic bread helps us on many fronts:

1) Keeps us in right relationship with God ie. it's our sin that caused Jesus death so it gives us the opportunity to examine our hearts and get right with God.  We all fall short – often!

2) Keeps an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving in our heart;

3) Reminds us that sin is offensive to God and not to get blasé about it ; and

4) Fills us with a sense of awe and amazement at what Jesus has done for us so that we can have a relationship with God.  Communion brings us back to basics and back to God.

Dear God, each time we break bread in remembrance of you please realign my heart and bring me closer to Jesus.  Amen

Written by Ainslie Woods

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Thursday 22 August, 2013

1 Corinthians 11:17-22

17 In the following matters, I don’t praise you. Your meetings do more harm than good. 18 First, here is what people are telling me. When you come together as a church, you take sides. And in some ways I believe it. 19 No doubt you need to take sides in order to show which of you God agrees with! 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat. 21 As you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anyone else. One remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you think so little of God’s church that you shame those in it who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I praise you for that? Certainly not!

Pigging out on communion is not really a problem we have (I have this image of someone surrounded by hundreds of tiny cups of juice). But the attitude behind that can be easy to fall into. It’s easy to start thinking of Church services like we think of other services we use: “What’s my phone plan giving me? Maybe I should change to another company.” It seems the Corinthians were thinking about the great meal they expected. But that focus on what they would get out of it was the opposite of what the Church and Communion should be.

Paul goes on to say that the Lord’s Supper is a proclamation of Christ’s death and resurrection. We don’t proclaim things to ourselves. We proclaim things to others: to give them the key to salvation; to encourage them; and to honour Christ. It can often be a good time to reflect on how blessed we are, but it’s mainly about blessing others.

Of course there are times when I have fewer blessings to offer and I need the support of the wonderful people around me. That is fine, but I need to move on from that place. And I need to be willing to receive for the blessings to work, so long as I also give what I can.

There’s a wonderful irony that when we are in a group of people looking to be blessed, the blessings are few and far between. But when we are part of a group intent on blessing, we are bathed in a sea of blessing.

So how can I bless someone today?

Written by David Cornell

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1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    I think you have hit at the heart of the Corinthians failure to understand an important principle Paul was trying to teach them.

    Other centredness is the key to personal blessing.

    Your question to us/me is an awesome question David with an emphasis on the word ‘today’.

    Thank you for the challenge, I will be looking forward meeting it in some way!

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