Sunday 31 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 16:5-12

5 After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. 6 Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me. 10 When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. 11 No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers. 12 Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.

What a warm passage of Scripture.

Paul clearly has a high regard for the people of Macedonia and doesn’t just want to ‘fly’ through.  He also has opportunity for ministry, a “great door for effective work has opened to me”.

We face decisions everyday of the week, and many times during those days.

Paul, even in the face of “many who oppose me”, is prepared to do whqt he thinks the Lord is in.  He has other opportunities, like seeing his friends in Macedonia, but chooses to stay in Ephesus because of the opportunities there.

The road of least resistance, a kind of fatalism, is very attractive.  I have more than once followed it!  I need to ensure that I follow Christ in faith, not just because the circumstances seem favourable or easy!

Father, help me to follow You faithfully, even when it is difficult and opposition awaits me.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Saturday 30 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 16:1-4

16 Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.

Here Paul is instructing the church on regular giving towards the “relief offering” for other believers.  He encourages the church to give EACH Sunday an offering to the poor in other churches.  “Be as generous as you can”, Paul says.   I don’t believe this is a tithe but an offering to help other churches and Christians.

This year, during COVID our church has sent over $30,000 to India and Nepal to assist our churches in helping people in these nations.  Many people are day workers (so no regular and continuing salary, no sick leave, no holiday pay, etc), so if they don’t work – they don’t get any money to help feed their families.  It was wonderful to watch the churches in action (through videos).  Feeding people with meals and giving groceries.  Feeding and praying with people as they journey to their home villages.  What an opportunity to be Christ to their “neighbours”.

We are part of something so much larger than ourselves.  What a blessing to live in Australia – but what a responsibility to share with others what we have and has been entrusted to us.

Lord we ask that you would continue to bring opportunities to us whereby we can help others.  We thank you that your love is displayed in us when we give.  Lead us Lord to always be generous.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Friday 29 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Reading this passage, I am reminded of simple truths from the Bible that our human nature allows us to so easily forget or misconstrue.  Here we are told that death has no power over us, it has no sting! Indeed, death only retains any sting because of sin, and sin only retains power because of the law.

However, we have “victory because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done.” Jesus has defeated death and sin, and fulfilled the law so that we don’t have to. This scripture is such a good reminder, because it is sometimes easy to almost bypass this and try to take our salvation into our own hands. As believers, we have no reason to worry about whether our actions are good enough to make us acceptable to God – they aren’t. We come to God through the sacrifice of Jesus. These are simple biblical truths yet sometimes we confuse and stumble over them.

Our “work for the Lord” is not to appease Him or to make ourselves appear righteous in His sight – Jesus has already done that! Rather, it is an outworking of our faith in and love for Him.

Jesus, may I always be filled with gratitude and awe at your incredible love! You conquered sin and death, and made a way for us to be right with you. Help us to remember this truth and live by it each day, serving you out of love and always remaining strong in our faith. Amen.

Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko

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Thursday 28 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 15:35-49

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

Don’t you love those times at school when your friend asked the teacher a dumb question and the teacher says “that’s a silly question. You should know that already” but you didn’t know the answer either? This passage is a bit like that.

I arrogantly say I know God but do I really? The wonderful thing is that God is not aloof or hard to get to know. I simply have to seek him. It will take humility and determination. I suspect the more we come to know God will depend on the tenacity with which we seek.

But just like a father playing hide and seek with his kids, God longs to ‘get found’. He longs to roll around on the ground with His kids in joy and say “let’s play again”.

Written by Boudy van Noppen

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Wednesday 27 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 15:20-34

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. 29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

This passage is part of a larger argument the apostle Paul is making to the Corinthian church to encourage them to behave in a manner appropriate with Christian beliefs.   

In verse 20 Paul reaffirms ‘Christ was indeed raised from the dead’. Then in verse 24, 25 Paul makes two astonishing statements. First, Christ now has full authority over the world and second, He is removing all the influences that oppose His authority.

When I look around me, when I watch the news on TV, when I read an online news feed or listen to the radio I am left with the question. How is this possible for Christ to be ruling in all this mess?  

The answer to this question is, ‘this cannot be seen or understood in the mind but by faith can be discerned by the heart’.  Paul’s point is, in this world people do not get resurrected from the dead but Christ was, and it’s that resurrection power that is now subduing His enemies and restoring the world back to life.  It does not appear to be logical but that does not stop it from being true.

That leaves me with the question, how should I respond?   

Verse 33 is the answer. ‘Bad company corrupts good character’.  Paul is simply saying think about who you are hanging out with!

For me, here is the simplest way to take up this challenge today.  Be more discerning about what I watch on TV, look at on the internet or how much I allow social media to influence me.

Lord, today, give me greater discernment as to when I should switch off electronic devices and spend more time with You. Amen!

Written by David Newton

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Tuesday 26 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 15:12-19

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

The central part of the gospel message is the death AND resurrection of Jesus.  His resurrection brings us hope because it means that sin and death do not separate us from God.  

Yet, believing this comes by faith. We weren’t there when Jesus died on the cross, nor did we see Him after His resurrection. But we do have the bible to read so that we can decide for ourselves whether we believe it to be true or not.

Yet believing this will be tested.  

I remember the time before my father passed away. While Dad was the one dying, I too was faced with what I believed about life after death and who I believed God to be. I remember wrestling in prayer, saying, “I place all my hope in You Lord Jesus. If it’s not You, well then I don’t know who else there is because there is no one else who speaks life to me or knows me like You do. It is You or nothing – there is no one else”.

Yet as difficult as this was, it has made me more certain than ever that God is real and that Jesus did rise from the dead. It is more than being certain. I know.

But it isn’t me who has formed this inner “knowing” within me. It is God Himself. By taking the step of faith to believe Jesus did rise from the dead, He makes it certain within me. He gives me that assurance. He turns my faith into substance.

If you don’t have that “knowing” yet, you can. It’s a step of faith you have to take with Jesus for yourself.  Just ask Him now.

Written by Gab Martin

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Monday 25 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

I love how Paul wants to be clear that the resurrection is rock-bottom reality for the Christian.  It isn’t a strange idea that he’s dreamed up himself.  He and all the others tell the same story.  This was the message that Paul announced wherever he went, and it was this message that carried God’s power and brought people, by the Spirit, into a living knowledge and love of Jesus, into the kingdom of God.  The only point in being a Christian at all is if this message continues to be the solid ground on which you stand.

The players in this story are Jesus and His shameful death, His burial, His resurrection on the third day, the people who saw him—Cephas, the Twelve, five hundred at once, James (Jesus’ own brother).  Now that is a cohort of witnesses – and if this were to be prosecuted in a court of law today on the basis of the number of witnesses alone this is a compelling story – let alone it is true!!!

Father may we rest on the power of the resurrection in our lives – knowing that it is true beyond argument and powerful beyond imagining!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Sunday 24 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 14:26-40

26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. 34 Women[a] should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. 36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored. 39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

Noise! No one likes to be sitting in a place where everyone is talking but it’s so noisy you can’t hear what is being said.  Paul is bringing this point to the Corinthian church as it seems their worship meetings are for the most part a lot of noise.

Paul is expecting that messages from God through tongues, prophecy, songs, teaching etc, will be apart of the meeting but its to be done in such a way that all benefit, all are built up and encouraged.  It’s not a time to be trying to ‘out-do’ each other or a time to ‘have-a-chat’ (as some of the women seem to be doing), but it’s a time to worship God and grow each other in our faith.

I believe this passage has made its mark on church history.  Thankfully, I’ve never been in a chaotic church service.  I love it when words of knowledge, prophecy, tongues & interpretation, a song, come in our worship services – it confirms to me that the God I worship is personal, caring, encouraging and He longs to strengthen, give courage and show love to His people.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are a God of harmony, peace, order & above all you want a dynamic relationship with each one of us.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

1 (reply)
  1. Kim Fleming says:

    I’ve never thought of it like that Suz, Txs for your pearls of wisdom! I too am grateful that our church services are orderly!

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Saturday 23 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 14:13-25

13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20 Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21 In the Law it is written: “With other tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

Ok I’ll admit it – I don’t get what Paul is driving at in this passage. On one hand he’s saying speaking in tongues is a sign for unbelievers and then he says they’ll think you’re crazy. Paul says that prophecy is for believers but then says unbelievers will be convicted of sin, fall on their knees and worship. Paul, what are you talking about?!

But it’s dawned on me…tongues is a powerful supernatural gift – given by the Holy Spirit. People may think it sounds crazy but will be unable to deny the powerful effects. 

And a gift meant for believers (prophecy) can have a powerful impact on unbelievers. We may think prophetic words are for the church’s ears only but those yet saved need to be cut to the heart too, exposing and relieving only what God could know. Then they can receive His mercy and love and forgiveness and cleansing and peace and joy and hope. 

Thanks Lord, for these powerful gifts of your Spirit – tongues and prophecy. Help me please to learn how to use them to help others receive your massive love.   Amen. 

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Friday 22 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 14:1-12

14 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified. 6 Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.

I am struck by the opening and closing sentences of these verses.  The opener encourages us to seek after love while the closing words inspire us to use our spiritual gifts to strengthen the whole church.  In between these statements the apostle Paul directs us to desire the spiritual gift of prophecy because it builds up the entire church.

There can never be enough encouragement! We all need to be built up and the gift of prophecy accomplishes this. Life is often tough and it’s easy to be worn down.  A prophetic word at the right time can lift our spirits and keep us on track.  That’s why Paul places so much importance on this spiritual gift – everyone needs it at one time or another as does the local church.  We are encouraged to ask God for this gift.  Don’t hold back!

Dear Lord, we thank you for the gift of prophecy. Holy Spirit please enable me to speak your truth and build your people. Amen

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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