Monday 10 April, 2017

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

8 Now I want to deal with food sacrificed to statues of gods. We know that “We all have knowledge.” But knowledge makes people proud, while love builds them up. 2 Those who think they know something still don’t know as they should. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God. 4 So then, here is what I say about eating food sacrificed to statues of gods. We know that “a god made by human hands is really nothing at all in the world.” We know that “there is only one God.” 5 There may be so-called gods either in heaven or on earth. In fact, there are many “gods” and many “lords.” 6 But for us there is only one God. He is the Father. All things came from him, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord. He is Jesus Christ. All things came because of him, and we live because of him. 7 But not everyone knows this. Some people still think that statues of gods are real gods. They might eat food sacrificed to statues of gods. When they do, they think of it as food sacrificed to real gods. And because those people have a weak sense of what is right and wrong, they feel guilty. 8 But food doesn’t bring us close to God. We are no worse if we don’t eat. We are no better if we do eat. 9 But be careful how you use your rights. Be sure you don’t cause someone weaker than you to fall into sin. 10 Suppose you, with all your knowledge, are eating in a temple of one of those gods. And suppose someone who has a weak sense of what is right and wrong sees you. Won’t that person become bold and eat what is sacrificed to statues of gods? 11 If so, then your knowledge destroys that weak brother or sister for whom Christ died. 12 Suppose you sin against them in this way. Then you harm their weak sense of what is right and wrong. By doing this, you sin against Christ. 13 So suppose what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin. Then what should I do? I will never eat meat again. In that way, I will not cause them to fall.

Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. (1 Cor 8:2)

I am reminded of something that I heard from an elderly believer when I was much younger than I am now. And it speaks of this verse, that anyone who claims to know it all, doesn’t really know much at all.

I remember being amazed at how much some Christians knew about God and the Bible. I thought that it was cool and that one day, I wanted to be like that. Then one day, listening to an elderly believer share in church, they said something that really surprised me. They said that the more they know God the more they discover that they don’t know God.

I thought how could that be true? But in my own journey of faith, as I have come to know God more and more, I realise that God is bigger and greater than I can ever fully comprehend. God is always revelling more and more of himself to me. As circumstances change, I can learn something new of God because there is simply so much that we can learn about God.

One thing I have learned, that doesn’t change but is confirmed in all my circumstances, and that is God loves me. Amazing love, how can it be, that you my God would die for me.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Sunday 9 April, 2017

1 Corinthians 7:32-35

32 I don’t want you to have anything to worry about. A single man is concerned about the Lord’s matters. He wants to know how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the matters of this world. He wants to know how he can please his wife. 34 His concerns pull him in two directions. A single woman or a virgin is concerned about the Lord’s matters. She wants to serve the Lord with both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the matters of this world. She wants to know how she can please her husband. 35 I’m saying those things for your own good. I’m not trying to hold you back. I want you to be free to live in a way that is right. I want you to give yourselves completely to the Lord.

The key word for me in this passage is “distractions”. v35.  What keeps me from serving God and giving my best?

Some “distractions” are good and necessary, like my family. God wants me to take good care of them (see 1 Timothy 5:8 and Ephesians 5:25) and that will mean there are some things I can’t do for God (or shouldn’t do) that a single man can do.

What a joy though, to serve God within the “distraction”. I get to love my wife like Jesus loves the Church. I get to tell my kids about how great God is and how to walk each day with Him. I get to be salt and light in the “distraction” of my community, around my neighbours and at my work place. I have often wondered when God will call me to go somewhere and do something for Him only to realise that He already has and I’m already there!

Lord, thank you for placing me where you have. I am right where you want me. Thank you for these awesome things you’ve place in my hands and precious people you’ve called me to take care of. Help me remember to get on with it.  Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Saturday 8 April, 2017

1 Corinthians 7:25-31

25 Now I want to say something about virgins. I have no direct command from the Lord. But I give my opinion. Because of the Lord’s mercy, I give it as one who can be trusted. 26 Times are hard for you right now. So I think it’s good for a man to stay as he is. 27 Are you engaged to a woman? Then don’t try to get out of it. Are you free from such a promise? Then don’t look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry someone, you have not sinned. And if a virgin marries someone, she has not sinned. But those who marry someone will have many troubles in this life. I want to save you from this. 29 Brothers and sisters, what I mean is that the time is short. From now on, those who have a husband or wife should live as if they did not. 30 Those who mourn should live as if they did not. Those who are happy should live as if they were not. Those who buy something should live as if it were not theirs to keep. 31 Those who use the things of the world should not become all wrapped up in them. The world as it now exists is passing away.

I have 2 responses to this passage. 1. Don’t over spiritualise. Sometimes God just expects us to use the wisdom he has already given us to make decisions. Maybe the things we think are big – in the case of the Corinthians should they marry, not marry – maybe those things are not the big things for God. If you are struggling for breakthrough, maybe God has already given you the wisdom to deal with the problem. 2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I am not saying the decision to marry is small. It’s just that there was a bigger picture at play – their “present crisis”.

It’s easy to get stuck on the things in our little world and miss the bigger picture of God’s world. A healthy God perspective of my world will alter the way I act in my small world. No one knows how long we have to impact the people around us. We need to take every opportunity to make God’s purpose a priority in our lives.

Father forgive me for the times I put myself before your Kingdom. Help me Lord to get your perspective and help me Father to keep things real. Use me Lord to bless those around me. May I bring Glory to your name today. In Jesus name. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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Friday 7 April, 2017

1 Corinthians 7:17-24

17 But each believer should live in whatever situation the Lord has given them. Stay as you were when God chose you. That’s the rule all the churches must follow. 18 Was a man already circumcised when God chose him? Then he should not become uncircumcised. Was he uncircumcised when God chose him? Then he should not be circumcised. 19 Being circumcised means nothing. Being uncircumcised means nothing. Doing what God commands is what counts. 20 Each of you should stay as you were when God chose you. 21 Were you a slave when God chose you? Don’t let it trouble you. But if you can get your master to set you free, do it. 22 The person who was a slave when the Lord chose them is now the Lord’s free person. The one who was free when God chose them is now a slave of Christ. 23 Christ has paid the price for you. Don’t become slaves of human beings. 24 Brothers and sisters, each person is accountable to God. So each person should stay as they were when God chose them.

When I was small, my parents told me “stay where you are if you’re lost”. Now, Paul is telling to stay where I was when I was found. Why?

I suspect one reason is that I should be really clear that I’m not saved by what I do; I’m saved by what Jesus did. Being a slave (or being an employee today) doesn’t diminish the freedom I have in Christ. Nor does being a master (or being the CEO today) diminish my need to submit myself to Christ.

Paul points to another reason in yesterday’s passage: the faithfulness of a believing husband or wife may be the key to their unbelieving spouse being saved too. There are people in my workplace who desperately need the good news about Jesus that set me free.

I love spending time with my church family. I’m free to be completely open with them about my relationship with God: to rejoice in what He does, and about the issues I need Him to intervene in. Perhaps I need to learn to be as relaxed at work in speaking about what God’s doing in my life as I am about what my kids are doing.

That’s not always easy. The reaction to my God is often not as good as the reaction to stories about my kids. Maybe I need to allow God and them to deal with that one; to just be natural about His part in my life.

Lord, please be part of the whole of my life, including the parts where I’m amongst people who don’t welcome you. Give my life a real honesty, wherever I am.

Written by David Cornell

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Thursday 6 April, 2017

1 Corinthians 7:8-16

8 I speak now to those who are not married. I also speak to widows. It is good for you to stay single like me. 9 But if you can’t control yourselves, you should get married. It is better to get married than to burn with desire. 10 I give a command to those who are married. It is a direct command from the Lord, not from me. A wife must not leave her husband. 11 But if she does, she must not get married again. Or she can go back to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. 12 I also have something to say to everyone else. It is from me, not a direct command from the Lord. Suppose a brother has a wife who is not a believer. If she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And suppose a woman has a husband who is not a believer. If he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 The unbelieving husband has been made holy through his wife. The unbelieving wife has been made holy through her believing husband. If that were not the case, your children would not be pure and “clean.” But as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let that person go. In that case, the believer does not have to stay married to the unbeliever. God wants us to live in peace. 16 Wife, how do you know if you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know if you will save your wife?

Paul continues answering the Corinthians original question in 7:1 – speaking to singles, widows and married believers alike about their relationships with each other. These new believers in Corinth had a lot of baggage from their pagan past and so from Chapter 5 through 7 Paul is trying to address how to now live a godly life.

Paul is giving us godly guidelines, whether married or unmarried, as to what God originally intended between men and women; commitment, loyalty and sexual passion within marriage. In whatever situation we find ourselves as believers, self-control is a basic foundation to be able live our best life. This is just as relevant now in our time as it was for the Corinthians. We are not just to live for self, live in the moment to gratify our own desires how and when we please, but self-control is a godly principal by which all our life relationships will benefit from. In all the relationships that Paul describes, he is also urging us to think of others relationship and not just ourselves.

Jesus, thank you that you care so much about our most intimate desires and relationships. Continue to help us control our desires so that whether single or married our lives will bring glory to you. Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Wednesday 5 April, 2017

1 Corinthians 7:1-7

7 Now I want to deal with the things you wrote me about. Some of you say, “It is good for a man not to sleep with a woman.” 2 But since sexual sin is happening, each man should sleep with his own wife. And each woman should sleep with her own husband. 3 A husband should satisfy his wife’s needs. And a wife should satisfy her husband’s needs. 4 The wife’s body does not belong only to her. It also belongs to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong only to him. It also belongs to his wife. 5 You shouldn’t stop giving yourselves to each other. You might possibly do this when you both agree to it. And you should only agree to it to give yourselves time to pray. Then you should come together again. In that way, Satan will not tempt you when you can’t control yourselves. 6 I say those things to you as my advice, not as a command. 7 I wish all of you were single like me. But you each have your own gift from God. One has this gift, and another has that one.

This is a commentary from Paul on the value of marriage, and is directing this to the church of Corinth, since there was sexual sin and promiscuity occurring. Referring to vs1, some versions of scripture state “it is good for a man not to marry”.(NIV) Others use the phrase” it is good for a man not to touch a woman”(KJV, NASB, AMP). Referring to older versions, I believe this is the more accurate interpretation.

Why does Paul write this? He is actually responding to a specific question asked of him in a letter from the Corinthian Christians, and he is giving them direction that sexual intimacy is designed for within the confines of marriage.

The passage then moves on to describe the oneness between a man and woman in marriage, and the responsibilities to each other for intimacy and affection. I am reminded of Eph5:25 where Paul also writes that husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.  This throws a greater light on today’s passage, that the attitude of humility, service, selflessness, sacrifice, and all the traits of Christ , are to be encouraged of a husband to his wife, and vice versa.

I am reminded of not my own needs and desires, but what are the needs and desires of my wife.

Lord, help me to grow more as the husband you desire me to be, to love as you love your bride, the church.  Amen

Written by Stephen Fell 

2 replies
  1. Claire Moore says:

    This devotion to one partner may well have marked Christians apart from the society around them at that time. Today there is similar pressure to please yourself first and disregard responsibilities of marriage. God loves and protects us through these words of Paul. Thank you Jesus

    • David Newton says:

      You are right Claire. At the time of Jesus the Temple of Aphrodite in Corinth employed thousands of temple prostitutes as part of their religion. Later on under Roman rule it was considered normal for the master of a household to sleep with any servant girl that work in that household. The only time it was considered adultery was if a Roman citizen slept with the wife of another Roman citizen. – Can you image the amount of STD’s they had.

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Tuesday 4 April, 2017

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

12 Some of you say, “I have the right to do anything.” But not everything is helpful. Again some of you say, “I have the right to do anything.” But I will not be controlled by anything. 13 Some of you say, “Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food. And God will destroy both of them.” But the body is not meant for sexual sins. The body is meant for the Lord. And the Lord is meant for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead. He will also raise us up. 15 Don’t you know that your bodies belong to the body of Christ? Should I take what belongs to Christ and join it to a prostitute? Never! 16 When you join yourself to a prostitute, you become one with her in body. Don’t you know this? Scripture says, “The two will become one.” (Genesis 2:24) 17 But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one with him in spirit. 18 Keep far away from sexual sins. All the other sins a person commits are outside the body. But sexual sins are sins against their own body. 19 Don’t you know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit? The Spirit is in you, and you have received the Spirit from God. You do not belong to yourselves. 20 Christ has paid the price for you. So use your bodies in a way that honors God.

I have a special connection to this passage. Pleasure is a good thing, but God in his perfection has ensured that only pleasure in the right dose and in the right conditions is good. Outside of these bounds, pleasure becomes corruption and leads to death. Ultimately pleasure will master me if I give it a priority in my life.

I’ve always loved pleasure! And I have rebelled against the idea that I should control the lust for pleasure. That is why this passage is so special to me. It tells me there is a consequence to the unbridled pursuit of pleasure. It tells me that even though I may have lived like that, I am now free because God paid a very high price so that I could be bought back from that other, corrupt master. It tells me that now God fills me with his Spirit, not just a little bit, but I am now his temple.

Come on! This has got to be one of the best promises in all of history!!

Lord thank you, that even though I was once enslaved and mastered by lust, you have set me free and made your Spirit fill me! Thank you for paying the highest of prices for me! I have been freed; my heart has been set on a greater pleasure than any that could be found on the earth. Thank you Lord!

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Monday 3 April, 2017

1 Corinthians 6:1-11

6 Suppose one of you wants to bring a charge against another believer. Should you take it to ungodly people to be judged? Why not take it to the Lord’s people? 2 Or don’t you know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? Since this is true, aren’t you able to judge small cases? 3 Don’t you know that we will judge angels? Then we should be able to judge the things of this life even more! 4 So suppose you disagree with one another in matters like this. Who do you ask to decide which of you is right? Do you ask people who live in a way the church disapproves of? Of course not! 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that no one among you is wise enough to judge matters between believers? 6 Instead, one believer goes to court against another. And this happens in front of unbelievers! 7 When you take another believer to court, you have lost the battle already. Why not be treated wrongly? Why not be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong. And you do it to your brothers and sisters. 9 Don’t you know that people who do wrong will not receive God’s kingdom? Don’t be fooled. Those who commit sexual sins will not receive the kingdom. Neither will those who worship statues of gods or commit adultery. Neither will men who sleep with other men. 10 Neither will thieves or those who always want more and more. Neither will those who are often drunk or tell lies or cheat. People who live like that will not receive God’s kingdom. 11 Some of you used to do those things. But your sins were washed away. You were made holy. You were made right with God. All of this was done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was also done by the Spirit of our God.

Paul is so good at taking the heart of the gospel and applying it to the practicalities of everyday. Our lives as Christians should be different to the lives of those who don’t know him. Paul calls the Corinthians out for being at war with each other; seeking retribution and taking and holding on to offences; and looking to the world for wisdom when God has given us His Spirit. He implores the readers to be different than the world, to apply kingdom principles of wisdom, mercy and forgiveness to their relationships.

The message translation puts it this way, ‘These court cases are an ugly blot on your community. Wouldn’t it be far better to just take it, to let yourselves be wronged and forget it? All you’re doing is providing fuel for more wrong, more injustice, bringing more hurt to the people of your own spiritual family’.

Oh Lord, may my reactions and actions in response to the people in my world never be fuel for ‘more wrong, injustice and hurt’. Make me an instrument of your peace. Amen

Written by Rosie Walker

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Sunday 2 April, 2017

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

9 I wrote a letter to you to tell you to stay away from people who commit sexual sins. 10 I didn’t mean the people of this world who sin in this way. I didn’t mean those who always want more and more. I didn’t mean those who cheat or who worship statues of gods. In that case you would have to leave this world! 11 But here is what I am writing to you now. You must stay away from anyone who claims to be a believer but does evil things. Stay away from anyone who commits sexual sins. Stay away from anyone who always wants more and more things. Stay away from anyone who worships statues of gods. Stay away from anyone who tells lies about others. Stay away from anyone who gets drunk or who cheats. Don’t even eat with people like these. 12 Is it my business to judge those outside the church? Aren’t you supposed to judge those inside the church? 13 God will judge those outside. Scripture says, “Get rid of that evil person!” (Deuteronomy 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21,24; 24:7)

Paul here is dealing with a Corinthian misunderstanding. It would appear the Corinthians were quite adept at creating an us-vs-them club. Paul’s response is – God’s design is certainly not an us-vs-them club. God wants us to be a people who engage with our world – our friends, neighbours, work colleagues, family members – not out of a prideful superiority, but out of a transformed life and holistic humility. But God calls us first to purity of heart – no more saying one thing and doing another. No more double standards – expecting the world to do things better and then living lesser ourselves.

I am challenged by Paul’s decision regarding those who are in the double-standards zone within the church – don’t associate, don’t even eat, with them. I hear echoes of a teaching of Jesus – don’t point out the speck in your neighbours eye when there is a log in your own. Deal with the massively obscuring log in your own eye first.

In an age where Christians are all too often associated with being judgemental, critical, and what they are against, Paul’s charge is deeply instructive – forget about judging the world “out there.” Deal with your own inconsistencies, character flaws, and double standards – rid your life of them. And show the world in ongoing friendly associations what Jesus can really do in a life surrendered to Him.

Lord help me, help us, live this out. Amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Saturday 1 April, 2017

1 Corinthians 5:1-8

5 It is actually reported that there is sexual sin among you. I’m told that a man is sleeping with his father’s wife. Even people who don’t know God don’t let that kind of sin continue. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you be very sad instead? Shouldn’t you have thrown out of your church the man doing this? 3 Even though I am not right there with you, I am with you in spirit. And because I am with you in spirit, I have already judged the man doing this. I have judged him in the name of our Lord Jesus. 4 So when you come together, I will be with you in spirit. The power of our Lord Jesus will also be with you. 5 When you come together like this, hand this man over to Satan. Then the power of sin in his life will be destroyed. His spirit will be saved on the day the Lord returns. 6 Your bragging is not good. It is like yeast. Don’t you know that just a little yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise? 7 Get rid of the old yeast. Then you can be like a new batch of dough without yeast. That is what you really are. That’s because Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been offered up for us. 8 So let us keep the Feast, but not with the old bread made with yeast. The yeast I’m talking about is hatred and evil. Let us keep the Feast with bread made without yeast. Let us keep it with bread that is honesty and truth.

Paul writes of his shock at the reports he hears about the church and what they have allowed to continue, in particular the sexual immorality. He has some very direct instructions and the expectation that they will follow through with it. As Paul describes what is going on, I wanted to add my voice to Paul’s and ask them, “what were they thinking?”

Isn’t it obvious? This sin should have been confronted a long time ago. Instead of hearing that it is still going on, Paul would have hoped to hear how they had addressed it.

But as I reflect on this, I can’t help but look at this from the viewpoint of the Corinthian church. I wonder if they were surprised by Paul’s tone and direct instruction. This church had been so focused on grace, that they had sacrificed holiness and did not look at the damage it was causing, the “yeast” as Paul describes it. This sin that they had “allowed” was damaging the reputation of the church to the local community, and they didn’t even realise.

It highlights to me the need to remain accountable, even to someone who is not directly involved and can see the whole picture of what is going on, and to submit to that oversight, so that I stay on track and not allow sin to lead me away.

Father, I am thankful for Pastors and leaders that you have placed over my life to help guide me and to see myself as I should and stay on course.

Written by Andrew Martin

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