Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
1 Corinthians 15:35-49
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
Don’t you love those times at school when your friend asked the teacher a dumb question and the teacher says “that’s a silly question. You should know that already” but you didn’t know the answer either? This passage is a bit like that.
I arrogantly say I know God but do I really? The wonderful thing is that God is not aloof or hard to get to know. I simply have to seek him. It will take humility and determination. I suspect the more we come to know God will depend on the tenacity with which we seek.
But just like a father playing hide and seek with his kids, God longs to ‘get found’. He longs to roll around on the ground with His kids in joy and say “let’s play again”.
Written by Boudy van Noppen
1 Corinthians 15:20-34
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. 29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.
This passage is part of a larger argument the apostle Paul is making to the Corinthian church to encourage them to behave in a manner appropriate with Christian beliefs.
In verse 20 Paul reaffirms ‘Christ was indeed raised from the dead’. Then in verse 24, 25 Paul makes two astonishing statements. First, Christ now has full authority over the world and second, He is removing all the influences that oppose His authority.
When I look around me, when I watch the news on TV, when I read an online news feed or listen to the radio I am left with the question. How is this possible for Christ to be ruling in all this mess?
The answer to this question is, ‘this cannot be seen or understood in the mind but by faith can be discerned by the heart’. Paul’s point is, in this world people do not get resurrected from the dead but Christ was, and it’s that resurrection power that is now subduing His enemies and restoring the world back to life. It does not appear to be logical but that does not stop it from being true.
That leaves me with the question, how should I respond?
Verse 33 is the answer. ‘Bad company corrupts good character’. Paul is simply saying think about who you are hanging out with!
For me, here is the simplest way to take up this challenge today. Be more discerning about what I watch on TV, look at on the internet or how much I allow social media to influence me.
Lord, today, give me greater discernment as to when I should switch off electronic devices and spend more time with You. Amen!
Written by David Newton
1 Corinthians 15:12-19
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
The central part of the gospel message is the death AND resurrection of Jesus. His resurrection brings us hope because it means that sin and death do not separate us from God.
Yet, believing this comes by faith. We weren’t there when Jesus died on the cross, nor did we see Him after His resurrection. But we do have the bible to read so that we can decide for ourselves whether we believe it to be true or not.
Yet believing this will be tested.
I remember the time before my father passed away. While Dad was the one dying, I too was faced with what I believed about life after death and who I believed God to be. I remember wrestling in prayer, saying, “I place all my hope in You Lord Jesus. If it’s not You, well then I don’t know who else there is because there is no one else who speaks life to me or knows me like You do. It is You or nothing – there is no one else”.
Yet as difficult as this was, it has made me more certain than ever that God is real and that Jesus did rise from the dead. It is more than being certain. I know.
But it isn’t me who has formed this inner “knowing” within me. It is God Himself. By taking the step of faith to believe Jesus did rise from the dead, He makes it certain within me. He gives me that assurance. He turns my faith into substance.
If you don’t have that “knowing” yet, you can. It’s a step of faith you have to take with Jesus for yourself. Just ask Him now.
Written by Gab Martin
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
I love how Paul wants to be clear that the resurrection is rock-bottom reality for the Christian. It isn’t a strange idea that he’s dreamed up himself. He and all the others tell the same story. This was the message that Paul announced wherever he went, and it was this message that carried God’s power and brought people, by the Spirit, into a living knowledge and love of Jesus, into the kingdom of God. The only point in being a Christian at all is if this message continues to be the solid ground on which you stand.
The players in this story are Jesus and His shameful death, His burial, His resurrection on the third day, the people who saw him—Cephas, the Twelve, five hundred at once, James (Jesus’ own brother). Now that is a cohort of witnesses – and if this were to be prosecuted in a court of law today on the basis of the number of witnesses alone this is a compelling story – let alone it is true!!!
Father may we rest on the power of the resurrection in our lives – knowing that it is true beyond argument and powerful beyond imagining!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
1 Corinthians 14:26-40
26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. 34 Women[a] should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. 36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored. 39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
Noise! No one likes to be sitting in a place where everyone is talking but it’s so noisy you can’t hear what is being said. Paul is bringing this point to the Corinthian church as it seems their worship meetings are for the most part a lot of noise.
Paul is expecting that messages from God through tongues, prophecy, songs, teaching etc, will be apart of the meeting but its to be done in such a way that all benefit, all are built up and encouraged. It’s not a time to be trying to ‘out-do’ each other or a time to ‘have-a-chat’ (as some of the women seem to be doing), but it’s a time to worship God and grow each other in our faith.
I believe this passage has made its mark on church history. Thankfully, I’ve never been in a chaotic church service. I love it when words of knowledge, prophecy, tongues & interpretation, a song, come in our worship services – it confirms to me that the God I worship is personal, caring, encouraging and He longs to strengthen, give courage and show love to His people.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are a God of harmony, peace, order & above all you want a dynamic relationship with each one of us.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
1 Corinthians 14:13-25
13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20 Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21 In the Law it is written: “With other tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”
Ok I’ll admit it – I don’t get what Paul is driving at in this passage. On one hand he’s saying speaking in tongues is a sign for unbelievers and then he says they’ll think you’re crazy. Paul says that prophecy is for believers but then says unbelievers will be convicted of sin, fall on their knees and worship. Paul, what are you talking about?!
But it’s dawned on me…tongues is a powerful supernatural gift – given by the Holy Spirit. People may think it sounds crazy but will be unable to deny the powerful effects.
And a gift meant for believers (prophecy) can have a powerful impact on unbelievers. We may think prophetic words are for the church’s ears only but those yet saved need to be cut to the heart too, exposing and relieving only what God could know. Then they can receive His mercy and love and forgiveness and cleansing and peace and joy and hope.
Thanks Lord, for these powerful gifts of your Spirit – tongues and prophecy. Help me please to learn how to use them to help others receive your massive love. Amen.
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
1 Corinthians 14:1-12
14 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified. 6 Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.
I am struck by the opening and closing sentences of these verses. The opener encourages us to seek after love while the closing words inspire us to use our spiritual gifts to strengthen the whole church. In between these statements the apostle Paul directs us to desire the spiritual gift of prophecy because it builds up the entire church.
There can never be enough encouragement! We all need to be built up and the gift of prophecy accomplishes this. Life is often tough and it’s easy to be worn down. A prophetic word at the right time can lift our spirits and keep us on track. That’s why Paul places so much importance on this spiritual gift – everyone needs it at one time or another as does the local church. We are encouraged to ask God for this gift. Don’t hold back!
Dear Lord, we thank you for the gift of prophecy. Holy Spirit please enable me to speak your truth and build your people. Amen
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
If you have ever researched what the Bible says about love, the chances are good that you have read these verses! This is certainly one of the most well-known passages about love that can be found in the scriptures. It has been quoted in films and is often read at weddings, because of the way it describes what real love truly looks like. As someone who has read these verses many times, I am struck again by how much gold is here, and how practical it is.
It is clear that the way the Bible describes love is often in direct opposition to how we can sometimes look at love. Biblical love is not about us being fulfilled, or about us using other people to gain what we want, or really about us at all! The way these verses describe love actually portray a list of selfless traits that honour, respect and care for those around us.
In fact, even ‘doing good things’ is not deemed lovely unless such things are done in a spirit of selfless love. If you’ve ever been around a very noisy and persistent siren or alarm, you might have an understanding of how annoying a clanging bell can be! Yet the Bible describes good actions done without love in the very same way – they might get attention but they are not enjoyed!
I am grateful for the explicit explanation here of what love is designed to look like. How helpful it is to have it written here so that we can better understand the way God loves us and wants us to love others.
God, we thank you for your extravagant love towards us. Thank you that you yourself are love. Help us to be people who are known by the way we love others selflessly. Amen.
Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko
1 Corinthians 12:12-31
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
What a beautiful analogy, using the human body to describe how the people of God work best together in both unity and in unique individuality. The older I get, the more I have experienced how true it is that we are much better together than when we try to go it alone.
The human body is one of the most magnificent examples in all of Creation of something that only works best when all of the parts are functioning well. Each part of us is unique, intricate and inter-connected.
I think most people would agree to the idea of unity, personal connection and the power of teamwork. However, in practice it can sometimes be tricky to achieve this, given our human imperfections.
Sometimes when our interactions with others don’t go smoothly, the hurt and frustration can cause us to pull back and stop believing that we have a place within the “body” of the church. Or maybe you have given up trying to play your part because you believe you have nothing special to offer.
Can I encourage each one of us today to remind ourselves of this truth – that we are each uniquely placed and gifted by God to play our part on His team. Let’s continue to ask God to give us the grace to keep giving of ourselves and staying connected, even when it feels tough to do so.
No one person has it all together. That’s never been God’s design. But together, by God’s grace, we can do so much more than we ever could on our own.
Written by Shelley Witt
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
I’ve had some refreshing moments in supermarkets over the years. I often move through them with purpose and speed, scanning shelves and comparing prices, filling up the trolley with food for the next week. On some occasions, however, my pace is slowed down by seeing someone unable to reach a tin on a shelf, someone whom I can help simply because I am taller or younger. There is something so satisfying about putting the tin in their hands and knowing I’ve saved them a little bit of trouble, it’s a brief but special exchange. Or on the flipside when I’m the one who’s dropped something and somebody stops to pick it up for me.
This interdependence isn’t always convenient, but it’s rich to give and receive. That’s what I see in this passage. God set things up so that we don’t have every spiritual gift ourselves, He didn’t download into us a complete package so that we can function independently. God gave us all different gifts, different kinds of work and different service for the common good. It’s only in the context of community that I can express the gifts God has given me as He designed them to be expressed. In this same community I am blessed when other people express their spiritual gifts, I receive something from God through His people.
Lord, help me to walk in this reality, help me carry this sense of vision into every church service, every Connect Group gathering, every time I have coffee with a believer, every phone call… Thank you God for what I have received from others faithfully serving you, enable me by your grace to give you away to those around me. Amen.
Written by Ps. Beth Waugh
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 10:23-11:1
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”[a] 27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? 31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 11 1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
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
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