Thursday 31 December, 2020

1 Corinthians 5:1-8

5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3 For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. 6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Honour and shame were very important in the ancient near east, especially the honour of groups one belonged to. It is likely that the man involved in sexual immorality was of high status and therefore the group ( church) was proud of him belonging to them. They were essentially honouring his sin and unwilling to challenge his behaviour.

Paul says no – how we live is important – not how important we are in the world. Paul wants this man put out of the church ( cast out to Satan ie. the world) – so that he realises his behaviour is wrong and repents. Paul’s aim is repentance for the man and restoration of true honour for the church. This doesn’t mean that every sinner should be put out of the church ( or there’d be no-one left)! Elsewhere Paul says to privately challenge those in persistent sin. It was the honouring which made this one different – like the church today upholding and honouring a paedophilic leader.

Lord, help me to watch my behaviour and repent when I need to, so that I represent Christ and his church well.

Written by Megan Cornell
1 (reply)
  1. Megan Cornell says:

    Honour and shame were very important in the ancient near east, especially the honour of groups one belonged to. It is likely that the man involved in sexual immorality was of high status and therefore the group ( church) was proud of him belonging to them. They were essentially honouring his sin and unwilling to challenge his behaviour.
    Paul says no – how we live is important – not how important we are in the world. Paul wants this man put out of the church ( cast out to Satan ie. the world) – so that he realises his behaviour is wrong and repents.Paul’s aim is repentance for the man and restoration of true honour for the church. This doesn’t mean that every sinner should be put out of the church ( or there’d be no-one left)! Elsewhere Paul says to privately challenge those in persistent sin. It was the honouring which made this one different – like the church today upholding and honouring a paedophilic leader.

    Lord, help me to watch my behaviour and repent when I need to, so that I represent Christ and his church well.

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Wednesday 30 December, 2020

1 Corinthians 4:14-21

14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?

Whether we are aware of it or not, all of us imitate someone, or more accurately, we will imitate a series of different people over the course of our lives. Most of us start out imitating our parents and then later we will choose other role models that come along in life.

It’s important who you choose to imitate, and here we read the Apostle Paul urging the Corinthian church to imitate him. It’s a fairly bold statement to ask someone to imitate you! It made me ask myself the question, who am I imitating, and who is potentially imitating me?

Towards the end of this passage, Paul makes the statement “the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power”. To me, this indicates that the people that I am imitating, should be people who do not merely “talk the talk” but also live a life of demonstrating the power of God’s Spirit at work through them.

Now there’s a challenge – may I too, be a person of power, not just talk!

Written by Shelley Witt

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Tuesday 29 December, 2020

1 Corinthians 4:6-13

6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.

In this passage, we find Paul in the middle of correcting the Corinthians. They had been arguing about whether Paul or Apollos was the greatest and who they were following after. It had become a game of comparison and one-upmanship. Sadly, their actions were motivated by pride and they were blind to it. Paul was tired of their nonsense and used sarcasm to highlight their immaturity. He warns them not to go beyond what was written in scripture, nor to boast about the gifts they had received from God.

While we might not be Corinthians, we too can become blind to our own shortcomings. Like the Corinthians, we too are on a pathway of discipleship, of becoming more and more like Christ. God does His transforming work within us as we obey His word and by taking heed to the “Paul’s” and “Apollo’s” in our lives too.

Father God, as I follow after You, may I not deceive myself with pride, thinking that I have achieved it or made it, as if by my own doing. Instead, lead me by Your Spirit and help me to obey Your word and listen to Godly leaders around me. 

Written by Gab Martin

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Monday 28 December, 2020

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

4 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

In this passage, Paul makes comments on evaluating the work people do.

He says that it doesn’t matter to him what others think about his work. His conscience is clear regarding what he has done, and that is not to say that he was right, but he isn’t going to worry about what others think. What matters to him is how God evaluates it. To have that attitude is very liberating. I couldn’t count the number of hours wasted worrying about what others think about the work I have done over the years.

But Paul goes further. He doesn’t even worry about how he judges his own work. He doesn’t even trust himself to evaluate his work properly. And again, how many hours have I spent looking back at the work I have done, and wondering if it was worth it, did I get it right, did I make a mistake, am I a success or failure? If Paul doesn’t trust himself to evaluate his work then I should have that same attitude and stop judging the results of my work.

I find it easy to discount what others say about the things I did, and be very critical of my own efforts. Instead, it is better to leave the evaluation of our work to God, who sees it all, understands the motives of our hearts, and trust him, that he is … working all things together for the GOOD of those who love God and are called according to HIS purposes.

God has a plan, and he chooses to use us, but he rarely shows us all of his plan. So, we don’t always know how our part fits in. All we can do is trust him, submit to him, offer to him our work as an act of worship, and let him provide the evaluation.

Father, thank you for choosing to use us in your work on earth, in the community you have placed us. All I want to do is do my best for you.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Sunday 27 December, 2020

1 Corinthians 3:16-23

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. 18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

When it comes to wisdom for life, I need guideposts and benchmarks. As a parent I need the wisdom of other parents in order to improve my parenting. At work I need the wisdom of others who have walked the paths I am walking so I can grow. I regularly benefit from wisdom shared by people who may not be Christians. I don’t think this passage is suggesting that I block my ears to the advice of anyone who is not a Christian. But when it comes to bedrock wisdom to build my life on… I need God’s wisdom. I need God’s wisdom to filter through into my parenting, working and relationships. This wisdom comes through habits of prayer, reading the Bible and spending time in church. These are the most common places God shares his wisdom.

God, you promise to share your wisdom with me if I seek it, I want to make seeking your wisdom a habit.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Saturday 26 December, 2020

1 Corinthians 3:10-15

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

When I first read this, I thought “I’m not sure my contribution to building the church is particularly valuable. I’m sure that what others do is worth much more.” But Paul doesn’t say that what is built is judged by its value, but by whether it survives (literally “remains”). So, what things will remain?

I looked at what the New Testament says will “endure” or “remain”. It talks most commonly about God’s people “enduring”. I think it’s important that I invest all of myself in bringing and building people up into God’s family.

Righteousness endures (2 Corinthians 9:9), and so does faith, hope and love, but love is the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:13). Jesus tells the church at Ephesus “I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. … But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!” (Revelation 2:2,4). However, he commends the church at Thyatira “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance” (Revelation2:19). I should build with love for both Jesus and his people (not in the hope of a reward).

God is the one steadily building endurance in each of us (Romans 15:5-6, James 1:2-4). Jesus tells us that we will be fruitful as we remain in him, like branches on a grapevine (John15:1-10). It’s so important that whatever I do, I do it in partnership with Jesus, working with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, you’re the foundation. Thanks for all the different parts you give us in what you’re doing to build your church. Help us to build with you, with faith and hope and above all, love, just like you.

Written by David Cornell

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Friday 25 December, 2020

Isaiah 9:6-7

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

The description of the Messiah is unambiguous – powerful and inspiring.

The names given suggest a number of things.  Divine wisdom and power, ongoing and unceasing fatherly care, the bringing of peace with all of its blessings.

When I think of a Saviour these descriptions cover all my needs.  I need a Saviour – one who doesn’t just deal with part of who I am but all that I am and hope to be.

Jesus – the child born is this Saviour.

But even more than this I take confidence from the fact that the kingdom God establishes through the Saviour, Jesus, is one of ever increasing peace and ever increasing dimension.  Jesus rule and reign – His kingdom – is not geographical but in our hearts and God’s promise is that it will always increase.

That means His transforming work in me and through me is always at work by His Word and Spirit – wow what a life of joy, of peace, of fruitfulness!!

Father, this Christmas I come to you afresh, committing my life to your Lordship.  May I follow you more dearly and nearly day-by-day!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Thursday 24 December. 2020

Matthew 2:1-12

2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

It is commonly believed that the Magi visited the baby Jesus at the same time as the shepherds. When we lived in France, steeped in catholic tradition, we learnt that the “kings” or Magi arrived 12 days after Jesus’ birth, celebrated as the Epiphany in the traditional church.

Who were the Magi? It is a word that designates wise men. They were not Jews, and came from the east looking for the “king of the Jews.” It is clear to me that God had spoken to them and they responded by looking for this new king. Their purpose – to worship him. And when they find him they are …overjoyed!

This part of the Christmas account reminds me that Jesus came to save all who believe in his name. And that at his name every knee will one day bow. Jesus’ death on the cross was for all who believe, the only way to be saved. My response is to believe and give Jesus the honour he deserves. My honour is not expressed in expensive treasures like the Magi, but in making Jesus king in my life – by trusting him, by setting my priorities to a kingdom focus, by sharing the generosity of God’s love with my unsaved friends.

Heavenly father, thank you for sending Jesus to die for all who believe in him, Jew or not. Help me to reflect your generosity this Christmas.


Written by Claire Moore

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Wednesday 23 December, 2020

Luke 2:15-20

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

I don’t know much about these shepherds aside from the fact that they were up at night looking after their sheep. To a great extent for me, this helps me relate to them. Even though I am not that familiar with looking after animals, I can imagine myself in their position – up late with some work mates, sharing stories, probably with a campfire burning.

I imagine that these shepherds are Israelite’s with some background understanding of God, but their shock and awe when the angel appears gives me the impression that they would not have expected God to show up in this way, at least not for them.

What I love about this story and I am really challenged by, is the way that they respond – the scale of their visit by the angels leads them to drop everything they were doing to travel into the “nearby” town of Bethlehem (probably still a long way by foot), to see the baby.

Once they saw Jesus, the shepherds continue their response: they tell everyone about what they had seen and heard and they praise God.

Thanks Lord that you show up in unexpected places. Help me to be better at expecting your unexpected intervention.

Thank you that I have met Jesus as the shepherds did. May I have a lasting response that mirrors theirs – telling others and worshipping you. Amen.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Tuesday 22 December, 2020

Luke 2:8-14

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

This is the first account of the celebration of the birth of Christ. And I love how God orchestrates it by first having the angel appear to some shepherds. When the sun went down that day, and they started to settle in for the evening watching their masters sheep, they had no idea what was about to unfold, and how their lives would be changed forever. 

It was dark, a clear sky, probably a little cool and the grass, damp from the dew. And then enters the glory of God. No wonder they were frightened at first. I would have been too. Such a magnificent and blazing spectacle of the praise of angels then graces the sky. This I would have loved to witness. 

What do I take from this personally? God is teaching me humility in how He brings his Son into the earth. We see this by the fact the Jesus was born in a smelly stable and laid in a cow’s food trough, and from this passage, that the angel announced to shepherds, not dignitaries or officials, or church leaders, but lowly shepherds, who were on the night shift, a low graded profession. 

I wonder if this were to happen today, who would God send his angels to proclaim this message to? 

If this is God’s way, which it is because there are so many similar accounts in the Word, then my attitude needs to be the same. 

Father, forgive me when for when I am proud. Change me, create in me a clean heart, and may my view of others be one of humility and mercy, for this is the attitude that you desire of me. Amen 

Written by Stephen Fell 

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