Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Seven verses, simple everyday details – a girl, a boy and a baby. And yet these seven verses describe the beginnings of events that have changed the world. To an onlooker, the events in these verses would have seemed unremarkable, but it makes me wonder how many times over the course of history has God taken ordinary events and turned them into the extraordinary. Mary and Joseph were just living their best life, and I want to do the same. Mary and Joseph did not work hard so they would be used by God. They just humbly lived their lives, loving God. He came after them and used them mightily.
So I am thinking if I want to be part of great things for God, then maybe I just need to live my best life, humbly and in obedience. Maybe I need to be open to God and allow him to use my ordinary everyday as part of his plans and let Him make my life significant for His Kingdom.
Jesus, I give my life to you. Use me Lord to bring glory to your kingdom. Help me to be faithful to your call on my life. In Jesus name I pray. Amen
Written by Christine Knight
46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” 56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
This song by Mary is commonly known as ‘The Magnificat’. It is commonly sung in traditional carols services at Christmas, I recall singing it many times growing up in the church choir I was part of. It is a soaring song of praise of God. We do well to read it slowly and let its powerful themes lead us to God. Themes like – God notices all not based on prestige or human accolade; God’s mercy is shown to those who revere Him; God does mighty things; God opposes the proud.
As you take the time now to praise God using this song of praise let your heart thrill at your Father in heaven.
Father, hear our praises to You and as we lift our hearts to you based on Mary’s song!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
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