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Archive for April, 2012

1 Corinthians 12:2 (1–11) “You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led.

Paul spends considerable time discussing the problem Corinth was having with spiritual gifts, I think because they are an important part of any believers life, like it or not.

The Corinthians had come from a background where they would go to their temples for worship and wait to be possessed by their gods who would make them do and say foolish and silly things. Now they had started to copy that behavior in worship times as believers. And, some were saying that if you didn’t get possessed you couldn’t be a believer. Sound familiar?

The Holy Spirit we know lives in us, not to throw us to the ground and shake, but to help us mature and be the best witness at work and at home we can be, 12:12 & 13. We need to be careful of external influences on our lives especially when they call us back to behaviors we left behind because they were wrong, 12:3.

Attentiveness involves looking, listening and learning the will of God, the way of God and the commands of God.

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1 Corinthians 11:19 (17–34) “For there must be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.

Although I believe that we naturally tend to group together with family and friends at church what was happening in the church at Corinth was not good, 11:17. Not only were they spiritual and physical hurting each other, they were hurting their testimony in the world, 11:27–32.

I think Paul uses those strong words in verse 11:19 to scare, if possible, those who were being contentious (11:16 & 18) to stop and think about what they are doing. Remember that in the previous chapters Paul stressed that our behavior must be tempered by the needs of the weaker brother next to us and not my preference.

Divisions, factions prove we are not following Paul’s example of agape (sacrificial love), 11:1.

Being contentious and divisive doesn’t mean you’re not a believer, but it makes it hard for those who are seeking to maintain order and a healthy growth atmosphere for all believers in the church no matter where they are in their spiritual growth.

Alertness involves being fully aware of the consequences of present actions, words, attitudes, and thoughts.

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1 Corinthians 11:2 (1–16) “Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.

I wonder how long it takes for an action to become a tradition.

When Paul wrote this letter the Greco/Roman world gave little respect to women. Even in the Jewish world women had lost much of the respect and honor as God’s creation they should have experienced. This is obviously because we live in a fallen world and everything that God has set up man and Satan have torn down. But through Christianity women and children were given the respect and honor due them.

Here enters the problem, as I see it. In the excitement of being free to express them selves as equals among believers some women had gone too far, 11:16. God has an order in His creation, 11:8–12. It is because there is order that science can discover anything at all, though some try to ignore it.

So when Paul talks about traditions he is talking about establishing and maintaining order in the church. Paul’s discussion here is not so much about the veil as it is about maintaining God’s structure of authority and individual rights in balance. Rules, regulations and traditions can come and go but never at the expense of God’s order. Even the angels know this, 11:10

Reverence involves recognizing that God works for us through structures of authority.

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1 Corinthians 10:23 (14–33) “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.

When Paul here tells us all things are lawful, the context lets us know what he is not talking about, like the calculated taking of a life.

Paul lived a very restricted life because he was more concerned with the spiritual development of those he worked with than his own desire. Yet, for all those restrictions he seemed to have traveled through all of then known Asia and Europe. He also established many churches and influenced the course our faith, as we know it today.

It makes me wonder what kind of impact we could have on those around us if we could stop wasting time on our freedoms and focus on the needs of those around us in the most effective way possible.

Responsibility involves learning to establish personal disciplines to help you become the person God wants you to be.

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1 Corinthians 10:13 (1–13) “and God is faithful.

I think that at times we may just simply forget who we are and what we’re supposed to be doing here, but sometimes what we do, right or wrong, is what we want to do. We need to simply admit that we have a problem (an addiction to sinning, consciously or not) and start to deal with it, 9:13.

Everything we do (or don’t do) is based on a decision we have made. What we need to realize is that the decisions we make every day don’t have to be made alone. Paul tells us that just as Israel in the wilderness was never alone, 10:4. Neither are we, 10:13.

Because of this fact of Christian life we can now understand that nothing that enslaved us in the past has to continue. I know a man who has smoked for years. He stopped smoking and is no longer, medically addicted. But, he still needs to smoke. He has a habit that he hasn’t learned to replace with a better one because of the decisions he makes.

Stop turning to idols and worship the one and only God.

Discernment involves discovering the difference between the truth and a lie.

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1 Corinthians 9:9 (1–14) “For it is written in the Law of Moses, You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.

I just wanted to take a moment here and note that the basic principle of capitalism is found in this command from a long, long time ago. Each one of us has the right to fair compensation for services rendered.

The problem is that as we render services we don’t want fair compensation. What we want is what someone else is getting plus what ever we have, we want more than our fair share. There is nothing wrong with having more, when you have worked to earn it. But if you do nothing you are entitled to nothing.

Mercy is not an entitlement. Mercy is an opportunity for me to express the concern for another, that I would like them to express to me if our positions were reversed. This command was also made a long, long time ago in Leviticus 19:18.

Responsibility involves learning to establish personal disciplines to help you become the person God wants you to be.

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1 Corinthians 9:12 (1–14) “Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the Gospel of Christ.

Since we’re talking about this concept of rights and responsibilities (chapters 8 & 9) I think we can go back and apply it to the issue of marriage (chapter 7).

I think we can agree that we all have needs. But needs shouldn’t necessarily translate into rights, but rather into responsibilities. Remember Jesus command to love each other, as you would want your self to be loved? If I assumed that my needs were the same as others and did my best to meet them, I might succeed.

Imagine if someone else did the same thing, to me! Now imagine yourself loving your spouse in that way. At first it may seem like a sacrifice, but with time it will become a labor of love.

Remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us!

Responsibility involves learning to establish personal disciplines to help you become the person God wants you to be.

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1 Corinthians 9:14 (1–14) “So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the Gospel to get their living from the Gospel.

Although this passage seems out of place in Paul’s discussion of our Christian responsibility to each other and what our freedom is really from it’s not. What Paul is doing is using his own situation, as an apostle, to illustrate the principle of Christian responsibility to each other.

Paul observes that the other apostles seem to be free to have wives and eat and get paid from the services they perform, 9:5. But when it comes to Paul there seems to be a problem with everything he does. This is why when Paul entered a new region he first got a job as a tent maker and then spread the Gospel in his spare time.

He took nothing from the people in that region until after he left them. As a true Apostle (9:1 & 2) he had the same rights as the others, but because he loved the people he had lead to the Lord and the Lord more than himself, he gave up that right for their sakes.

Responsibility involves learning to establish personal disciplines to help you become the person God wants you to be.

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1 Corinthians 8:1 (1–13) “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.

Paul now answers another question. In those days the remains of some sacrifices were sold in the marketplace (most of the time you didn’t have to ask because the meat was prime). So the question, can I buy and eat it?

Paul here tells us that our natural tendency is to make fun of those who don’t know with what we think we know (8:2), we show-off in an effort to make ourselves look wiser than others. For this reason Peter tells us that the very first thing a new believer should learn is character, (2 Peter 1:5, like humility, Matthew 5:3).

The word love that Paul uses here is the sacrificial love of a brother concerned for the welfare of a brother who hasn’t yet learned about their new freedom. Superstitions are a weakness we all have in varying degrees. Now, some of us have learned that outside of this world there is God, and the angles and demons He is still using and nothing else. But, what am I going to do with that information?

There is another important note here and that is that Paul assumes other believers are looking at me for direction on how they should be living. We should be very careful what we consciously or unconsciously teach, Galatians 6:1–2

Wisdom involves detecting your natural inclination to be what you were not designed to be.

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1 Corinthians 7:34 (25–40) “and his interests are divided.”
As we noted yesterday each of us is here with the responsibility to share the Gospel message to all we are able. From that perspective being mobile is very important because wherever you are needed you can be. A married person can’t just get up and go he has his wife and kids to consider.
In the culture of Paul’s time this put an extra burden on fathers of daughters. It was his responsibility as father to insure that she was appropriately married, 7:36–37. Now as a believer should he force her to stay single and be a missionary?
Marriage and singleness are not an issue of wrong and right but of good and better. Not that necessarily being single is better than married but that the father must know his daughter well enough to understand where she should be.
I wish parents would prepare their sons and daughters for both possibilities and then to seek God’s direction for the final choice, Psalm 127:3–5.
Wisdom involves detecting your natural inclination to be what you were not designed to be.

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