July 31 – (Acts 28:17-31) Paul is back in relative physical safety. What does He do? Does he think the chains he is in or the impending “court date” says to stop ministering for a while and think about himself? No, he uses this place and this condition to speak to a new group of people so that they may know the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ! “Lord help us to see very ‘condition’ we are in, is to further your kingdom in our lives and those who are around us”.
Aug. 1 – (I Cor. 1:1-9) Max Lucado has a wonderful way of giving us insight into the general focus of a book of the Bible.
INTRODUCTION TO I CORINTHIANS BY MAX LUCADO
An Indian was walking up a mountain when he heard a voice. “Carry me with you,” it requested. The Indian turned and saw a snake. He refused. “If I carry you up the mountain you will bite me.” “I wouldn’t do that” the snake assured. “All I need is some help. I am slow and you are fast, please be kind and carry me to the top of the mountain.”
It was against his better judgment, but the Indian agreed. He picked up the snake, put him in his shirt, and resumed the journey. When they reached the top, he reached in his shirt to remove the snake and got bit. He fell to the ground, and the snake slithered away. “You lied!” the Indian cried, “You said you wouldn’t bit me.” The snake stopped and looked back, “I didn’t lie. You knew who I was when you picked me up.”
We hear the legend and shake our heads. He should have known better, we bemoan. And we are right he should have. And so should we. But don’t we do the same? Don’t we believe the lies of the snake? Don’t we pick up what we should leave alone?
The Corinthian Christians did. One snake after another had hissed his lies in their ears, and they had believed it. How many lies did they believe? How much time do you have? The list is long and ugly: sectarianism, disunity, sexual immorality. And that is only the first six chapters.
But First Corinthians is more than a list of sins; it is an epistle of patience. Paul initiates the letter by calling these Christian “brothers.” He could have called them heretics or hypocrites or skirt-chasers (and in so many words he does), but not before he calls them brothers.
He patiently teaches them about worship, unity, the role of women, and the Lord’s Supper. He writes as if he can see them face to face. He is disturbed but not despondent. Angry but not desperate. His driving passion is love. And his treatise on love in chapter 13 remains the greatest essay ever penned.
The letter, however personal, is not just for Corinth. It is for all who have heard the whisper and felt the fangs. We, like the Indian, should have known better. We, like the Corinthians, sometimes need a second chance.
Aug. 2 – (I Cor. 1:10-31) In a constructive manner, Paul admonished Christians in Corinth for being divisive. He reminded them of the limits of human wisdom. We must focus on Christ to understand God’s will. Human wisdom given to us should just be a confirmation.
Aug. 3 – (I Cor. 2) Have you ever thought of Paul as a ‘common man’? That is what he says he is. We see a very strong and wise man because he was operating in God’s strength and power. Why can’t we see ourselves with that strength and power as well? We have it! As we rely on Him, it will be shown for His glory! Make no mistake about that!
Aug. 4 – (I Cor. 3) I like the way Warren Wiersbe describes this chapter. It is three pictures of what the church is supposed to be. The church is a family and the goal is maturity (vv. 1-4). The church is a field and the goal is quantity (vv. 5-9 a). The church is a temple and the goal is quality (vv. 9 b-23). What do you think?
The goal of family is maturity. Are we into milk or meat?
The goal of the field is quantity. How are we doing in spreading the gospel…with those around us?
The goal of the temple is quality. As we study and grow are making sure our foundation is strong and secure?
Aug. 5 – (I Cor. 4) Paul has written this whole chapter just to try to get verses 1 -2 across to the Corinthian people. He tells them what it takes (vs. 2), how to judge (or I should say who should judge), and what it looks like (vv. 11-13). He really is telling them these things to help them grow in Christ. Who is that person for you? Who are you to someone else? God always wants us to first be accountable to Him but then to always have a ‘Paul’ (someone helping us grow spiritually) and a “Timothy’ (someone we are helping to grow spiritually) and I might add a ‘Barnabas’ (an encourager).
Aug. 6 – (I Cor. 5) In this passage and the next 3 chapters, Paul moves from one topic to another, raising two issues mostly involving questions about sexual immorality. The first is where to draw lines involving sexual behavior and the second involving the discipline of severe misbehavior.
The first discussion involves drastic behavior. Maybe you can’t relate to this but think back to when you first came to the Lord. What changes in behavior has God led you to make (or perhaps are still struggling with) because you belong to Christ? Have the changes you made in His power, become a better reflection of Him?
In verses 6-13, Paul is describing leaven as something that spreads throughout the whole dough once it is introduced. Sin does the same thing. When the Jewish people had to quickly leave Egypt they were instructed not to put leaven in their bread. They were also instructed to sacrifice a lamb and put its blood on the doorposts. Passover has been observed ever since then. It is no coincidence that Jesus died and rose again at Passover time; he was the real Passover lamb and his death won deliverance for the whole world. The whole Christian life, from that point of view, becomes one long Passover celebration! And at this Passover there must be no “leaven of the old life” – the kind of behavior that pagans engage in and that Christians can be lured back into if they aren’t careful. Get noticeable leaven out of your house and let’s set a watch guard to forever keep it out!