Read 1 Corinthians 10

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” 1Cor. 10:31-33

Giving up my rights for the sake of someone else? Laying aside my freedoms for another? Not an idea readily embraced by anyone, anywhere; especially not the Corinthians, and especially not me.  But, ultimately, that is Christ’s call on my life – “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24. And, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Eating and drinking are fairly mundane activities, but the Corinthians were really struggling with them.  Some were literally eating and drinking sacrifices made to idols, knowing they were sacrifices made to idols, while others played legalistic police, adamant that one couldn’t even eat or drink food sold in the marketplace because it might have been a sacrifice.  For some, their freedom in Christ meant they could do whatever they wanted, right?  No condemnation? No law? No restrictions? No bounds?

Oh, wouldn’t I like to think so at times! But, no.

I have not been set free from sin and death to live a life fulfilling my own selfish desires ‘just because I can.’  No. I am set free to live my life for Christ.  “But to live is Christ; to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21. Everything I do is to God’s glory, for His purpose.  Paul lays out that purpose in the end of chapter 10 – ‘that they may be saved.’  I set aside my own rights and desires so that others can see God’s glory and know His salvation.

Today’s author: Sean and Rebecca Jamerson

1 Corinthians 3

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk to you as though you were infants in Christ.  I had to feed you with milk, not solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?  Vv. 1-3

Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. Vv16-17.

I always think of God’s church, His people, when I read this chapter, and how good we are at feuding amongst ourselves.  And I just have to wonder how much that grieves the Holy Spirit.  Not only does it grieve the Holy Spirit when God’s people argue and fight, but it destroys our witness to the world. Who wants to belong to a body that can’t even get along with each other?

All of us have seen it. Churches can get into the silliest arguments over carpet color, over whether to use screens or hymnals, whether the preacher should wear a tie on Sunday morning or dress more casually, or whether we should sing one type of song over another. And we all laugh at the silliness of these feuds, until our preferences are in danger. Then it becomes “our passion”, “our belief”, “our …”  I know.  I have had my preferences overruled on many occasions. And you know what? We still preached the gospel, people still got saved, lives were still changed, even though my felt needs were not being met. Funny how God can still work when things are not done the way I would have done them.

My oldest daughter and I have had many disagreements on how things should go in the church, or how a situation should be handled. One day it dawned on me why that is so. My area of giftedness is teaching and prophecy. I believe in speaking truth into people’s lives, and really feel they should act on that truth. My daughter’s area of giftedness is mercy. She always operates out of that gift and a need to redeem people. We both have the same end in mind, but we go about it in totally different ways. We talked about that, and together we help each other see from another perspective. I think that has made us each better. We can each do what God has called us to do because we collaborate.

When we disagree with one another we need to be careful that we are not acting out of our sinful natures, and we need to remember that God has called us to work together, a body of believers who are carrying out a single mission—the redemption of mankind. All of us, collectively, are the temple of God, One Body, controlled by One Holy Spirit. If we allow Him to control us, we can work together to achieve His mission here on earth.

Today’s author: Sharon Warner

Read 1 Corinthians 2

This chapter really put evangelism in perspective for me. The core message here is that people do not and should not become Christians because of a charismatic leader or human logic. Sinners are separated from God, and therefore incapable of understanding the truth about God. The Holy Spirit is the only One who can bridge this gap. This is a reality of which I needed to be reminded as a minister who teaches and evangelizes on a regular basis. I take pride in my ability to explain and reason with people who struggle with belief. And don’t misunderstand; these are good things that we should be doing. However, the realization that came to me when reading this chapter is that I need to be spending just as much, if not more, time praying for nonbelievers as witnessing to them. We cannot forget that God is the only one with power to penetrate and soften a hardened heart. Even when thinking about places like church camp and the rapid spiritual growth that occurs in just a few days, we must realize that the speaker and the band are not responsible for this success, but God! If you have been to camp you can’t help but notice feeling the thick and undeniable presence of God as soon as you walk into the room to worship. This is because there have been countless believers calling out to God to show up and in His love He responds! God is the only great evangelist! I am only his messenger. Because this is the case, I will call out to Him with all of my heart to intercede on behalf of the lost people in my life. This chapter does not relieve our responsibility to evangelize, but it reminds us of the authority by which we do preach the Gospel, and urges us to call out to the Holy Spirit who is the only one who can bridge the gap between broken sinners and the life changing truth of God.

Today’s author: Porter Brewer

Read 1 Corinthians 1

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27

I played with dolls this week. One of them was a mermaid, Ariel I believe. I’m not sure of the name of the other one but it was a girl doll. That’s not something I usually do. In fact, it’s something that I would normally have zero interest in or desire to do. But at least for a moment that changed. What happened? A two year old girl named Annie.

As part of our mission trip to Pullman Washington we stayed in homes of church members. Lynn and I stayed with a wonderful couple, Ben and Chelsey and their two children Annie, age two, and Owen, age six months. Owen was a happy little boy. Annie was a charming and delightful little girl. She quickly took to Lynn, smiling, hugging, and gazing at her with her beautiful blue eyes. Me, not so much. She would cling tightly to Ben or Chelsey or even Lynn when I was around.

I tried to win her heart, but to no avail. That is until our last day. For some reason on this day she reached out to me. She asked me to read her a book. It was about cows that could type. Then we moved on to the dolls. I was asked to hold Ariel and the other doll in my lap while Annie did some other important task. (Lynn has a pic to prove it.) I held them gladly, excited that I was finally getting to be in the inner circle with Annie.

A precious little two year old got me to do something that was completely against my nature. She got me to do things no one else could have forced me to do, no matter how strong or intelligent they were.

God is that way. He does not win the hearts of the world He loves by force. Or by impressive buildings. Or even well written doctrinal statements. (As important as these things are.) God wins the hearts of the world when normal people do extraordinary things because of His love in their hearts. Things like loving a neighbor in a time of need. Like forgiving when it’s undeserved. Like sacrificing to meet the needs of someone we don’t even know and may never see this side of heaven. Simple things that God uses in a powerful way to eternally change the hearts of a sin hardened world.

Today’s author: Monty Pierce

Read Luke 18

Throughout Scripture we learn the importance of prayer. Prayer is basically conversation with God; listening, as well as speaking. In this chapter, we learn that persistence in prayer is important, not because God does not hear or needs to be begged. Humans have that problem. God’s response to our prayers is based on his purpose and will for our lives. Sometimes it takes us a while to understand that.

We also see in this passage that prayer should lead us to be repentant and humble. It is important to remember who we are talking with. God does not need to be reminded of our shortcomings, but we certainly do. Agreeing with God regarding our delinquent behavior shows our acknowledgement of his holiness and our dependence on his mercy.

Finally, we should visit with God like the children we are. He is the supplier of every need in our lives, just like we depend on our earthly parents. Of course, our earthly parents are a part of his delivery system for our needs, but unlike God we are often not as consistent in responding. My adult daughter recently called me while I was mowing the yard about a need I thought we had already addressed. It was an inconvenient time; I was tired, hot, dirty, and I wanted to be through with the task. Her need at-the-moment did not seem to be as important as mine. I am embarrassed to admit I was less than receptive. Not so with God. He is always ready to visit with us about any need big or small.

This thing of prayer continues to be a mystery to me, but Jesus taught it and modeled it and I know really all I need to know. How true the words to that great hymn we so seldom hear or sing now, “Sweet Hour of Prayer”. Look it up.

Today’s author: Randy Babin

Read Luke 17

John D. Rockefeller was one of the richest and most successful businessmen in modern history.  He was once asked by a reporter a deep question:  How much money is enough?  His answer was quite telling.  He responded by saying “just a little bit more.”  If we were to ask our children how many toys are enough, surely their answer would be “just a little bit more.”

The disciples can be found asking Jesus for “just a little bit more” faith in Luke 17 and Jesus corrects their misguided thinking.  In verses 3-4, Jesus gives the disciples a difficult command.  “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

I can just hear the disciples screaming inside saying “But Jesus, if he keeps sinning against me he’s not TRULY sorry?  Why would I have to forgive him?“  Instead, maybe they let out a collective gasp and say “Increase our faith” (verse 5)…just a little bit more.  We tend to be the same way.  When God challenges us, our tendency is to ask God to increase our faith.  Instead, we should acknowledge that He is the source and giver of our faith and because of this, we are equipped to handle anything God chooses to challenge us with.  Asking God to give us more of what He has already blessed us with is to be ungrateful for the gift of faith.  Remember that we don’t need MORE faith, we need to remember the SOURCE of that faith.

Today’s author: Kevin Slocum

Read Luke 16

Whose kingdom am I building?

Luke 16 begins with the parable of the unjust steward, who is ironically commended for his shrewd behavior, and ends with the parable of Lazarus and the rich man.  Settled right in the middle of these two powerful, though I will be honest and say somewhat baffling, stories, Jesus chides the Pharisees, “who were lovers of money,” for setting their hearts on the things of this world.  His initial statement to them in response to their ridicule following the first parable is piercing. “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. (v. 15)” What does it mean to ‘justify yourselves before men’? In Galatians Paul states, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

The Pharisees didn’t approve of Jesus’ earlier statements regarding money.  He stated, following the parable of the unjust steward, that one cannot serve God and wealth, for he “will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other.” A person can only serve one master, and my actions on this earth can paint a pretty clear picture of whom I truly serve. How I steward the things of this world that God has left in my care demonstrates what is in my heart.  Notice, the Pharisees are described as lovers of money, and Jesus states that God knew their hearts.  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21. In Mark 12:30 Jesus points out the greatest commandment; “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” So, am I to be shrewd in my financial dealings so that I can make a kingdom for myself?  Or like the rich man, am I receiving and hording all my good things here on earth, forgetting that there is an eternity beyond this life? I am struck by the phrase in the first parable that the rich man knew the steward was “wasting his possessions.” Being shrewd in this world is for a purpose, and it is not for me to grow my kingdom; that is wasteful.  My stewardship, my shrewd handlings, and my compassion and care for others have the purpose of glorifying God and building His kingdom.  Being faithful in the things of this world demonstrates my faithfulness in the things of God; for if I can’t even be faithful in the little breath of time I am given with the temporal things under my care, how can I be faithful in the important things that last?

Though the two parables in Luke 16 teach us many things, one truth that has gripped my heart and mind is that I am the Lord’s and all that I have is His.  I am to live this life ever mindful of the charge given by my Master – to make disciples and bring Him glory. It is not to lavish upon myself all that this world has to offer, but to lavish upon others all that God in Christ has offered me.

Today’s authors: Sean and Rebecca Jamerson