Monday 18 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 11:17-34

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter! 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world. 33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions.

In this passage, Paul writes to the Corinthian Church about how they celebrate Communion with each other.  He challenges them for their flippant way they come around the Lord’s Table.  How very glad I am that our Church asks someone from our congregation to pray, reflect and bring a word to help us focus on the enormity of communion and its purpose to REMEMBER what Jesus has done for you and me.  To remember the COST.

Paul challenges the Corinthian church for their divisiveness, competitiveness, critical spirit, greed, unforgiveness, and lack of awareness of the poor, etc.. He says that when we take Communion with unreconciled issues in our heart – we need to heed the warnings.  We carry THE message of reconciliation. 

Lord help me to continue to be a carrier of your message of reconciliation.  May I not just say this but actually live this.  May I choose always to deny myself and to take up the cross daily.  Help me to not be persuaded by my emotions but by faith and your word.  Amen. 

Written by Ps. Sue Botta


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Sunday 17 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 11:7-16

7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

This is one of those difficult passages. People have traditionally focussed on the behaviours recommended by the passage – the length of men’s and women’s hair and whether or not they should wear head coverings – and on subordination of women to men.

Instead, I think the focus of the passage is in verses 10-12. Paul says “in the Lord” women and men are interdependent and that both are dependent on God. Elsewhere (Galatians 3:28) he says “In Christ there is neither male nor female…” This means that “in the Lord” there is freedom apart from the cultural norms.

So why does Paul then say to follow cultural dress codes? “Because of the angels” (v 10). The Greek word interpreted here as “angels” (angelos) literally means ‘messengers’. Scholars today think that angelos may refer to people coming to check out the church to see what is happening there – both slaves sent by rich families and officials sent by the government. So if people use their freedom in a way that is culturally inappropriate it will send the wrong message. Women not covering their heads implies lack of respect for their husbands, and men with long hair means they lack ‘manliness’ – something very much looked down on in Roman culture.

For me today, this means that I should consider the demands of modern culture, and find the ‘sweet spot’ where I am not compromising on God’s law, I am enjoying his freedom, but I am also willing to curtail that freedom if it causes offence to others. That takes far more wisdom than I have!

Thank you Lord, that you are the source of all wisdom! Please guide me and teach me. Help me to be like Christ – to attract others to your church, but follow your ways as well. Amen

Written by Megan Cornell


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Saturday 16 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 11:2-6

2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man,[a] and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

All cultures have signals that say things even if we don’t intend to. A first century Roman high priest would cover his head. The emperor Augustus was portrayed this way to show his unique status as “Pontifex Maximus”, closer to the gods than any mortal. A man covering his head in church, like the emperor, would also be saying he was closer to God and had higher status than anyone else. Except Jesus is our “high priest” (Hebrews 2:17), and he raises all his people to the highest status as God’s children.

Traditionally Roman wives covered their heads as a sign that they were married. But in the first century, there was a fashion for Roman wives to discard their head covering to advertise they were just as free as their husbands to have extra-marital affairs. This would shame their husbands. (Shaving a woman’s head was the punishment for adultery.)

The covered men or uncovered women may not have intended to give those signals. They may just have been following fashion to fit into their culture that revolved around status, honour and shame. But outsiders would undoubtedly have picked up the inappropriate messages.

We have different social signals (hats won’t be handed out at church on Sunday). But we need to be as careful in the messages we give, perhaps unconsciously, in what we wear or how we act or speak. It’s no less important for us to not diminish or dishonour anyone. We need to be especially careful not to dishonour God. This may mean standing out and being counter-cultural.

Jesus, please give us sensitivity and wisdom to know where we should be gracious and fit in with people and where we should stand out with a different message. Give us your heart to lift people up, and especially to honour you in how we act and speak.

Written by David Cornell


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Thursday 14 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 10:14-22

14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf. 18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

It can’t have been easy for the early Christians in Corinth, surrounded as they were by idols and pagan temples like the Temple of Venus, the goddess of love. Many it seems were still taking part in pagan feasts, even though they were also taking communion. Some were thinking “well the idol has no power and is meaningless, so the food served at its feasts is just normal food. No harm done if I eat that.” Paul however tells it like it is – this is in fact communion with demons and devil worshipping.

The contrast is with taking part in Christ’s feast, communion, with the believers. By participating in communion, they were aligning themselves with God, and becoming one body in Him. Just as we do today, when we take part in communion, we take part in Jesus’ death for us as we share in symbols of his spilt blood and broken body. This way we align ourselves with Him, effectively putting up our hand and saying “I am Christ’s! I belong to him.”

The question this passage raises for me is “What do I trust?” Is it in Christ’s death for me, or in something that has taken its place? Am I hedging my bets like these Christians Paul was warning, apparently belonging to Jesus, while in practice their faith lay in something else?

If I belong to Christ, I can’t belong to something else as well. Where is my heart? Is it open to God, or do I just add him into my life when times are tough? Do I long to see his will done on earth?

Paul’s warning in verse 12 reminds me that I need to guard against something taking the place of Jesus in my life.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that your peace which is above everything I can know or imagine is guarding my heart and mind. I pray your peace will guard against anything which could take your place in my life. Amen

Written by Claire Moore


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Wednesday 13 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

10 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Paul makes a point here reminding us that the ancient people of Israel witnessed amazing miracles from God – the parting of the Red Sea and the cloud of God covering them in the wilderness for 40 years to give them shelter and guidance. Even, so, many of them turned away from following God’s ways and did not please God.

We can be tempted to think that if God was more overt in displaying His power and miraculous deeds that people would follow Him. History shows us that this is not the case. The human heart is rebellious and does not easily submit to the ways of God.

“So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (verse 12). Wise words! Pride can easily blind us to think that we are impervious to temptation and to rebellion against God, but of course we are not.

Today (each day!) I need to be reminded of my need of a Saviour and ask for the grace of God to keep walking in His ways.

Written by Shelley Witt


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Tuesday 12 January, 2021

1 Corinthians 9:15-27

15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. 16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel. 19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

I see Paul making a parallel, especially in verses 24-27, to the professional athlete who has a clear goal (winning) and therefore a clear lifestyle (training hard to win). And he’s making a contrast – the prize that only lasts for a moment, and the prize that lasts forever. Whatever Paul specifically thought his eternal prize was, the preceding verses seem to me to show what a focus Paul had towards this goal; he determined to preach the gospel free of charge, and to be all things to all people in order to save some. Paul was deeply and powerfully motivated by this eternal prize.

I believe God wants the same deep and powerful motivation for me. And I want the same deep and powerful motivation and discipline that Paul describes in himself here in 1 Corinthians. So I would do well to meditate on what this eternal prize and goal looks like, feels like, and is like, and shape my life around training hard for it.

God, help me to continue to clarify what this eternal prize is – this crown that lasts forever. I read of Paul’s motivation, discipline, and deep care for people, and I want the same. Help me uncover all that I need to from your word to live with similar motivation, discipline and care for people.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

1 (reply)
  1. Claire Moore says:

    yes the analogy of the athlete is something I can understand. The gospel is not empty words but life, life worth working at and striving for with God’s grace.
    There is also this sense of integrity and authenticity of his message which comes through in v 27 – he is not only preaching but living what he says, witnessing with actions and honesty.

    Reply

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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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