Monday 11 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 9:1-14

9 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? 2 Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. 3 This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4 Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living? 7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? 8 Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.”[b] Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Paul is defending himself here to be able to eat, live and receive offerings/wages for his preaching of the Gospel.  He speaks of the other disciples receiving food, housing and care for their service to the church and their ministry.  I am so glad that as a church we have so many people who give and tithe towards the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

It is a blessing for us to employ those who have gifts of ministry and leadership.  It is a gift to have so many people who give of their time, talents and abilities free of charge as well.  I am constantly amazed at the generosity, love and care that exudes from our church.  The meals, funds, help, prayer, love, and care that people show each other. 

There is so much need in the world, and at times we all have seasons of need; however I watch how individuals sacrificially give of their lives to each other and it blesses me to see it – how much it must bless Jesus to see His Church in action.  We are called to Love God and Love Others.  Let’s continue to BE the CHURCH.

Father, thank you for the blessing of Christ, His example of how to love.  Help us to love and care for each other.  Show us what we can do to bless, encourage, and extend in your Kingdom amongst us and to our community.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Sunday 10 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

8 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God.[a] 4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. 9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

I love how timeless the Bible is.  Personally I’m grateful I don’t live in a culture or family where sacrificing food – specifically meat – to an idol is normal, but the Corinthians do as do many Christians throughout the world today.  I have friends who have had to deal with this very issue.  Paul confirms what the Corinthians already know – that idols have no actual existence v4 & that food will not bring us any closer to God v8.  He warns that even though some ‘know’ this, it doesn’t give a free pass to go and do it.

The principal I take from this is Pauls’ calling for sensitivity and love when around Christians who aren’t yet at a place of maturity or have an understanding of the freedom that Jesus brings. 

Holy Spirit please bring to mind anything that I may be doing in my life that would hurt a friend or my brothers & sisters in Christ who my struggle in areas where I have freedom.  I don’t want to cause eternal damage in their walk with you.  Amen.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Saturday 9 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 7:36-40

36 If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better. 39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. 40 In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

Divided loyalties are very difficult and here Paul reminds us of them.  In this passage, it is clear that Paul believes we can simultaneously serve both the Lord and our marriage partner.  Of course, he would have known many who did including other apostles but at the time of writing there was a famine.  They were difficult times perhaps especially for newlyweds.  In times of social and economic distress it may be almost impossible to discover and obey God’s will, working for the gospel in whatever way one is called to do, AND to build a new marriage.  And if that’s the choice, Paul is clear: one’s service to the Lord belongs first.

Paul is not laying down a rule, he is trying to teach the Corinthians to think clearly, wisely and above all Christianly about delicate issues where there is no absolute right and wrong.  Paul is not opposing marriage.  On the contrary; if a couple finds that their desire for one another is getting stronger, putting them in an impossible position, then they should marry.  But they should be prepared to face the difficulties that will accompany the early days of a marriage, even and perhaps especially a Christian one, when life for other reasons is in any case hard.

Paul finishes with a short word to widows.  A widow is free to marry again, though only ‘in the Lord’, i.e., to another Christian.  But Paul sees, once again, that there may be reasons for resisting the social pressure that would otherwise hurry such women into a further marriage as soon as reasonably possible.

So, what do we learn from Paul’s musings here?  Marriage is a good thing, but it is not always the best thing.  Wisdom needs to be applied in a Christian manner to situations and we should choose the Lord above all other things, even marriage!

Father may we be more aligned to you than even marriage and family relationships – for you will provide all we need according to Your riches in glory in Christ Jesus!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Friday 8 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 7:32-35

32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion 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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Thursday 7 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 7:25-31

25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. 29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

Do you ever stop sometimes and think- “Wow, I really achieved so much today”? Perhaps there are days when you have errands to run, shopping, meetings, appointments and you feel busy? Other days perhaps are slower and you feel like you do not achieve much at all? This predicament happens to me often. Often my really busy days then render me exhausted for the following day after. The slower days seem to have far less adrenaline to propel me forwards. 

In this passage, Paul writes “time is short” in verse 29. He is writing concerning certain circumstances that men and women may find themselves in. What I find interesting is that the concept of time being short is written about in biblical times and this is a highly relevant concept in contemporary culture also. When time is “short” somehow it seems to clarify and magnify what we are doing with that time. If there is not much time- how do you spend it? What becomes a priority? and importantly Why?

Dear God, thank you for Paul and for his writings to the Corinthians. Thank you for using Paul’s writings to help us understand what should be a priority in our lives. Please help us to understand your teachings each day. Thank you for the gift of time, help us to prioritise our time to do your will and purpose for our lives.   Amen

Written by Susannah Ware

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Wednesday 6 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 7:17-24

17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18 Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20 Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. 21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. 24 Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called 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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Tuesday 5 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 7:8-16

8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

As I reflect on this passage, there are two things that Paul focuses on that can be helpful to all believers and not only to the marriage relationship as this passage appears to focus on.

Firstly, Paul takes a direct command from God regarding divorce and says that it still applies to us today. Then secondly, he then proceeds to explain how to apply this, not as a command directly from God, but by using the wisdom that God has given to him and makes that clear as well.

But instead of focusing on the letter of the Law, Paul chose to focus on the heart of the Law. And it is this that can be applied to any relationship, not just the marriage relationship. Paul asks us the question, “Don’t you realise that your husbands/wives might be saved because of you?” In any relationship, whether it is marriage or friends or business, between saved and not saved, Paul would remind us that “Don’t you realise that they might be saved because of you?”

Whatever relationships we have, we as believers are to be an influence on their faith journey, as long as it is us influencing them towards faith, and not us being influenced away from God. We all need to have these relationships where we are influencing non-believers towards God, and while that is true, remain in that relationship. BUT, if a relationship is leading us away from God, away from faith, then let them go. Pray for them, but let them go.

Father, I thank you for ALL the relationships that we have, and I pray for those who are not saved, that we can be a part of their journey towards you. Let me not lose sight of your heart for all people.

Written by Andrew Martin

2 replies
  1. Melinda Parker says:

    The beginning of this passage also strongly affirms singleness. Over my Christmas I spent time with four single women..three of whom feel left out by their church. We need to do better in valueing and supporting the awesome singles in our midst.

  2. Melinda Parker says:

    The beginning of this passage also strongly affirms singleness. Over my Christmas I spent time with four single women..three of whom feel left out by their church. We need to do better in valueing and supporting the awesome singles in our midst.

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Monday 4 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 7:1-7

7 Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

I first met Christian Sexologist Dr Patricia Weerakoon when I was studying at a secular university, when she taught an elective on sex and disability, but I have since gotten to know her much better. 

In her book “The best sex for life”, she unpacks the contrasts between God’s amazing design for healthy and fulfilling human sexuality, and the mixed and conflicting messages that the world around us teaches about sex

Dr Weerakoon comments that less than one in ten married couples have an equal desire for sex, and she also notes that desire levels change over time. This means that practically every couple must come to some understanding, privately with each other, on what to do when this desire imbalance happens. 

Importantly, this passage emphasises the special place of the relationship between a husband and wife. It doesn’t say that one person is entitled to sex whenever they want it! The theology of sex in the Bible is all about both couples serving one another in love, sometimes through abstaining from sex, and sometimes through making love, even when it doesn’t seem perfect. Dr Weerakoon, has shown through her research, that the wisdom of the bible, written 2000 years earlier, still stands as incredibly wise advice today.

Thank You Lord that Your Holy Book, the Bible, gives help and instruction to every facet of life. May we rightly handle the Word of Truth as we seek to apply its precepts to our lives. 

Written by Ps. Justin Ware 

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Saturday 2 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 6:1-11

6 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers! 7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

There’s a few layers or “levels” in this amazing passage…

Level one…instructions about lawsuits and in-fighting within the church. And getting secular courts to judge.  Yikes! Don’t do that – better to be wronged. 

Level two… get your mind on what’s coming – in the next life – not this life. This life is short – eternity is a long time. Am I playing the “long game”? When will I realise that I’ll judge angels and the universe?! I need to prepare for that time right now. 

Level three – if I continue in unrepentant and wilful sin, even as a believer, I am in the same cohort as those who won’t inherit God’s Kingdom. Time to get real about sin. 

Final level – I have been made holy! I can’t earn it. I can’t buy it. It’s gifted to me when I surrendered my life to following Jesus – my saviour and friend. I have a “perfect standing” before God. Given by Jesus. Because He loves me. 

Lord, please help me filter every level of my life through this last level – I am loved and made holy through no other means but faith and surrender – no matter what I’ve done – because I’m loved by Jesus. 

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Friday 1 January 2021

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

Well, I’m sure that you will agree that this is a challenging passage to fully interpret Paul’s meaning here, as he writes to the church at Corinth on how to deal with certain people within their church.

However, one thing that Paul makes quite clear is that he is not referring to people outside the church when he exhorts the Corinthians to avoid associating with those who are practicing immorality. 

It seems rather, that Paul is warning the church against hypocrisy within the church. People who claim to be Christians, but who are consistently, purposefully practicing all different types of immoral behaviours are to be avoided.

This idea is consistent with Jesus’ teaching and His practice of befriending sinners but calling out the religious hypocrites of his day and disassociating Himself from them.

As for me, I approach this area carefully, knowing that in the end only God can rightfully judge people’s hearts and lives. I do not want to sanction immorality within the church, but I also do not to want to be the one to cast stones. 

May God give us the grace and wisdom to know when to speak and when to stay silent, when to reach out and when to step back.

Written by Shelley Witt

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