Posts filed under ‘Journey Thru the Bible’

Day 81…1 Corinthians 10:23-24

1 Corinthians 10:23-24: Not everything is good for me

Paul continues his lesson on eating food offered to idols as he discusses something I hear a lot of Christians say when speaking about freedom in Christ: “I am allowed to do anything…I want.” Only problem is Paul tells us not everything is good or beneficial for us. Be concerned about the good of others more than you are yourself.

v.23, “I am allowed to do anything” or “all things are lawful” does not mean that believers are allowed to disobey Christ and God’s moral law. Paul is trying to get the Corinthian believers to understand that eating meat offered to idol is really unimportant to one’s faith, however even though they are allowed to do it (it’s not against God’s moral law) it may not necessarily be “good” for them or “beneficial.” Just because something is not against the law, doesn’t mean it is helpful.

v.24, “Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.” Even though believers are allowed to practice their freedom in Christ in matters that are lawful, some practices of freedom do not necessarily work to build up other believers. So we need to be concerned for the good of others, not for our own good. If our freedoms end up hurting or causing another believer to stumble we need to stop exercising them. It is hard be we need to consider the needs and perspective of other believers.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  Some actions are not wrong, but they may not be in the best interest of other believers, especially new believers. So I need to abstain from doing these activities. What are the activities that you do that would cause a new believer to stumble? Or even cause a misunderstanding or even an offense to them. The most obvious example is of a brand new believer who used to abuse alcohol, he comes to your home and you are serving wine. It is not morally wrong to serve wine but this could cause your new believing friend to question and eventually misunderstand why you drink wine. If you are concerned for the good of your new believing friend you will not serve wine in his presence. You might even go as far as stop serving it altogether because he could hear about it from another believer. Do you have any other examples as to how you can apply this principle?

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June 12, 2013 at 10:29 AM 1 comment

Day 80…1 Corinthians 10:14-22

1 Corinthians 10:14-22: Food offered to idols

Paul goes back to a topic [eating meat offered to idols] the Corinthian believers must have been struggling with greatly. Why? Because maybe they didn’t get it the first time. Or Paul knows that repetition is a good way for his readers to learn.

v.14-15, “therefore” or “so…” was Paul’s way of reminding the Corinthian believers that what he was speaking about before–eating meat offered to idols. Paul wanted to make it clear to the believers that attending a feast in a pagan temple was an act of idolatry. So Paul says “flee from the worship of idols.” Paul makes it very clear to eat meat in a pagan worship service is idolatry. In v.13 Paul speaks of a way of out temptations, then in v.14 he suggests that sometimes the best way out is to flee. The word “flee” means to seek safety in flight or to run away from, the tense indicates habitual action so it is better said keep on running away from…the worship of idols! Paul explains the reason why, the idol itself is nothing, but it can be used by Satan to lead you into sin. To sit at the table of a pagan worship service could mean fellowship or communion with demons. Paul was enforcing the important doctrine of separation from sin. However he does call them “reasonable people” because Paul trusted that they could “decide” for themselves if what he was saying is the right course of action.

v.16-17, Paul uses the illustration of the Lord’s Supper. When the believer partakes of the cup and loaf at the “Lord’s Table”, he is, in a spiritual way, having fellowship with the body and blood of Christ. By remembering Christ’s death, the believer enters into a communion with the risen Saviour.

v.18, Paul mentions the temple “altar” and sacrifices as another illustration of the truth that when the Jews make sacrifices they too are enter into communion with the risen Saviour.

v.19-20, Paul makes it clear that food offered to idols doesn’t have any “significance” and the idols are not “real gods.” BUT the food is being offered to “demons” not “to God” and we shouldn’t be “participat[ing] with demons.” 

v.21-22, The point Paul is making is a believer CAN’T partake of the devil’s food and still partake of the Lord’s food. Paul says “you cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons, too. You cannot eat at the Lord’s table and at the table of the demons, too.” It’s one or the other. You are either in communion with our Saviour or communion with the Devil. We don’t want to “rouse the Lord’s jealousy.” The Corinthian believers think they are strong enough spiritually to enjoy the liberty of being in a pagan temple and not fall into sin. They may be stronger than their weaker brother but they are not “stronger than [God]”. It is very dangerous to play with sin and tempt God.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  Paul says here to keep running away from the worship of idols. What are the idols in your life? My life? Maybe they are not made of wood and stone but they might be made of money, metal, bricks, or even flesh. Trusting in or worshipping anything other than God is idolatry. This is a choice I must make everyday, to keep running away from the worship of anything other than God.

June 11, 2013 at 9:25 AM Leave a comment

Day 79…1 Corinthians 10:12-13

I Corinthians 10:12-13: Temptations

Paul continues to use the children of Israel as an example of what not to do, as he discusses the topic of temptations.

v.12, the children of Israel had experienced many miracles right before their very eyes. Yet they gave into temptation many times. Paul warned the Corinthian believers to “be careful not to fall” into temptation as well. He warned them because they began to take pride in their faith and to take it for granted what Christ did for them. They thought they were “standing strong” and they began to be very sure of themselves to the point of being pridefully, that is the time they will “fall.” Paul also warned that they could fall into temptation just as the Israelites did when they fell into idolatry. Paul warned the Corinthian believers to not let down their guard because that was the time when they are most liable to fall.

v.13, “the temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.” Temptations come into every believers life, no one is exempt. Temptation is not sinful, the sin comes when a person gives into a temptation. But God does not leave us to be tempted, “God is faithful.” He will not always remove the temptation because facing it could be a way of God strengthen our faith. However he will “not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.” There is no temptation that a believer can’t resist, but the believer must stand against it. Each temptation can be resisted because God made it possible to resist–he’s our strength against temptation. God promises that “when you are tempted he will show you a way out you can endure” so you won’t give into the temptation and fall into sin. It will take self-discipline to look for the “way out” in the middle of the temptation, then take it when it is found. Probably the most obvious way out is staying away from things, people or events that tempt you. Example: if you have a problem with lust, you need to stay away from books, movies, magazines and websites that lead to temptation to lust. Common sense, right?! Another way out is by having friends that you can trust who can hold you accountable when you’re tempted. That person can ask you the tough questions and support you and pray for you. God loves his people so much that he will always provide a way out when temptation comes.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  The most important point that strikes me here, is to get back into meeting regularly with my accountability partner. I have been out of the habit for a while now. And temptations have sprouting up regularly. So I need to connect back with my accountability partner and share honestly my struggles with him. And when temptations come remember God is going to supply a way out, so pray and ask for help. I know he will give because he loves me.

January 23, 2013 at 5:00 AM 1 comment

Day 78…1 Corinthians 10:1-11

I Corinthians 10:1-11: Learn from others’ mistakes

Paul now switches gears from using himself as an example of a mature Christian to now in chapter 10 uses the children of Israel as an example of spiritual immaturity, hoping we can learn self-discipline from both.

v.1, a perfect example of believing the false notion that one can be saved and then live a faithless, God-less life can be seen in what happened to Jews’ “ancestors in the wilderness long ago.” The book of Exodus contains the records their miraculous escape from Egypt and how God guided them by “a cloud that moved ahead of them” during the day and a pillar of fire during the night. These two guides where referring to God’s presence. When they came to an obstacle in their way like the Red Sea, God brought them through as “all of them walked through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14).

v.2, this next verse seems very difficult to understand because Paul uses the word “baptized” but not the way we are used to understanding it, immersion in water. He uses it to suggest identification and allegiance with their spiritual leader of their community: “Moses.” “In the cloud” represented God’s presence and glory, indicating his protection. “In the sea” represented God’s salvation of his people through the Red Sea as they crossed safely to freedom to escape the pursuits of the Egyptians. “All” of the children of Israel experienced this “baptism” but the common experience did not keep most of them faithful to God in the days to come.

v.3-4, Further miracles along the children of Israel’s journey sustained them, like the “spiritual food” or manna from heaven. Paul said it was spiritual because God provided it for them. The “spiritual drink” referred to the water Moses obtained for them from a rock, another provision from God. Paul refers to “Christ” as the “spiritual rock that traveled with them,” meeting their needs for them wherever they went.

v.5, the children of Israel got to experience so many miracles performed by God, setting them free from slavery, guiding them through the Sea, and giving them food and water in a barren wilderness. After all this, “most of them” rebelled against God and “God was not pleased” so“their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” Only Joshua and Caleb lived long enough to enter the Promised Land.

v.6-10, Paul then gives a warning to the believers in Corinth, “these things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did.” Paul didn’t want the believers in Corinth to fall into the same trap as the children of Israel did. Paul goes on to give them a few more examples from the life of the Israelites: v.7, worship of the golden calf while Moses from receiving the Law on Mt. Sinai, v.8, men engaged in immoral sexual activity with Moabite women and 23,000 died in one day. v.9, When people complained against Moses and God about the hardships in the desert and God punished them sending poisonous snakes where many were killed that day, v.10, they complained against the leadership of both Moses and Aaron and God punished them with a plague that came from the angel of death.

v.11, All of “these things happened to them [Israelites] as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.” Paul wanted us all (first century believers and believers today) to remember when the Israelites disobeyed, they rec’d punishment, likewise, when we as Christians sin with no repentance, no desire to change, we too will be punished.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  The most vivid thing I want to take with me from today’s study is I am no different than the Israelites and the Corinth believers. So I need to heed the warning Paul gives and the examples of what happened to the Israelites because they complained and disobeyed. I want to remember all the amazing things God has done for me like life and health (being a cancer survivor), food, family, my ministry and of course friends. And be grateful for those things he has provided for me instead of complaining about the things I don’t have and want.

January 15, 2013 at 4:37 PM Leave a comment

Day 77…1 Corinthians 9:24-27

I Corinthians 9:24-27: Run to win

Paul called upon the Christians to deny themselves as they looked forward to future reward. Paul compared this to a race, picturing the ancient “games.”

v.24-25, the Greek Olympic games were already operating in Paul’s time but they were 2nd in popularity to the Isthmian games celebrated every two years at Corinth. Athletes would come from all over Greece to win the highest honour “the prize.” To not only win the prize but just to get prepared for the games required “discipline in their training.” Typically for 10 months before the games the athletes denied themselves many ordinary pleasures in order to prepare and be in top condition for the games. But even though “everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize.” This prize was a great honour to the athletes and they would give up everything to get it. Paul told the believers in Corinth to be just like these athletes, however he did not mean that the believers were running AGAINST each other with only ONE winner. Instead he wanted every believer to “run to win.” Every believer should be putting the same effort forward to win an “eternal prize” not like one that “will fade away” like the pine wreath crown the athletes win at the Isthmian games. The eternal prize is not salvation or getting to go to heaven, no those in the race have already been saved through faith in Jesus Christ, no the eternal prize was the crown of life at the end of life where God says “well done, though good and faithful servant.” So the goal was to honour God with our lives by winning the lost and building up the Saints.

v.26-27, Paul’s next words are telling the Corinth believers that not only was he asking them to be self-disciplined but he also practiced what he preached to them. He too had to “discipline [his] body like an athlete, training” to run the race not aimlessly like a boxer who is “just shadowboxing” or punching at the air. But to practice with “purpose in every step”, with a goal in mind–the ultimate goal: honouring God. In the Isthmian games if you broke any rules including the training rules you were automatically disqualified. When Paul says “I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” he is not talking about the loss of Salvation but loss of reward. The disqualification for an athlete didn’t mean they would loose their citizenship, only their opportunity to win the prize. And Paul didn’t want to loose his reward when he stood for the Judgement Seat of Christ.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  Simply I am going to start to “train” for my Christian life. I have already started to eat healthier physically, but now I am also going to do the same spiritually–spend regular times with Jesus each day in both study and prayer, no excuses. To focus on the eternal reward as I stand before Jesus. Also to deny myself anything that will potentially harm me. Stay away from those things I am so easily tempted by.

January 12, 2013 at 3:05 PM 8 comments

Day 76…1 Corinthians 9:19-23

I know it has been awhile since I have posted my “Journey Thru the Bible” but I am back. C’mon along with me as I journey through the Bible, as I discover amazing truths that I missed the first time I studied or great reminders of things I had forgotten about. It’ going to be an amazing adventure!

I Corinthians 9:19-23: Chameleon for the Gospel

Paul wanted people of all cultures, backgrounds and races to hear the Gospel and be saved. So Paul embraced and adapted to culture he was in except when those cultures hindered or violated the Gospel.

v.19, Paul’s goal was to glorify God and bring everyone to Christ. Though Paul was “a free man with no master” which is to say free from all human control, he chose to be a “slave to all” without compromising the Gospel message. Paul could vary the style or method of his message becoming a accommodating to his audience so that he could “bring many people to Christ.”

v.20-23, Paul chose to be like his audience without compromising the doctrine of God’s Word and the Gospel message. Paul was willing to “live like” his audience in order to “bring” them to Christ. Paul mentions three groups: Jews, Gentiles and those with weak consciences.

Jews: When he was with Jews he “lived like a Jew to bring Jews to Christ.” Paul conformed his life to the practices of those“who follow the Jewish law” even though he was no longer “subject to the law” himself because of his freedom in Christ just so he could “bring” Jews who are “under the law” to Christ. He gained an audience with many Jews because he conformed to their regulations and restrictions (after he had been a Pharisee). However he never conceded that those regulations had to be kept in order to become a believer. Examples in Acts 16:3, 18:18, 21:20-26.

Gentiles: When he was with Gentiles “who do not follow the Jewish Law” he met them on their own turf. Paul lived according to God’s law because he didn’t “ignore the law of God” no “he obey[ed]” it. But when he was with Gentiles he did not require them to follow the Jewish law, unlike the false teachers of that day (Judiazers), in order to become believers. Instead he spoke a message that would “bring them to Christ.” An example is Acts 17:1-34.

Weak consciences: The “weak” that Paul refers to are believers who are baby Christians who needed to grow deeper in their knowledge of Christ and deeper understanding of their freedom in Christ. So Paul set aside his freedoms and starting living by their restraints for a time so that he might “bring the weak to Christ.” Paul chose to do “everything [he] could to spread the Good News” to all people and “find common ground with everyone, doing everything [he] can to save some.” But Paul never compromised the Gospel truth, God’s Law or his own conscience in the process.

Paul had one purpose, to take the Gospel to the unbelieving world. He did not preach with pride, counting the numbers or converts, instead he preached with love for the Gospel and those who heard it and in the end he could “share in its blessing.”

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  There was a number of things I took away from today’s study. First, to find common ground with the unbelievers in my life as I try to reach them for Christ. However to never have a know-it-all attitude as I speak to them. Listen a lot more than I speak. Then share in their needs and concerns, genuinely care for them. And always look for opportunities to tell others about Christ.

January 11, 2013 at 10:46 AM 1 comment

Day 75…1 Corinthians 9:7-18

1 Corinthians 9:7-18: Proper wages for Christian workers

Jesus said in Luke 10:7 that Christian workers deserve their wages and in this section Paul echoes this thought and urges the church to pay Christian workers that minister to the church–Pastors, elders and spiritual leaders.

v.7, This whole section is a continuation of Paul discussion about his apostleship that he and Barnabas were indeed apostles, even though they didn’t take advantage of the rights they deserved. Paul also made it clear in the list of questions that he asks that he is not above other apostles. They all, including him, have the right to be supported by the churches they serve. Just like a “soldier” has all his “expenses” covered by the military, and a “farmer” who plants a “vineyard” can enjoy the fruits from it. And a “shepherd fare for his flock of sheep” should be allowed to enjoy the “milk” from the sheep. All were cared for by their occupation. The same holds true for Christian workers they should be cared for by their congregation or church.

v.8-10, “Am I expressing merely a human opinion, or does the law say the same thing?” To most what Paul was saying made common sense from a human point of view, he even had Scripture (or the law) to back up his statement: “the law of Moses says” in Deuteronomy 25:4 “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” In those days grain was “threshed” by placing sheaves on a hard surface and having oxen pull a very heavy object back and forth over it. The law said that oxen should be allowed to eat some of the grain while they worked. The law made a very clear point, God’s people were to care for their animals by allowing their to eat while they worked. Paul asks “wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest.” In other words Christian workers deserve to be cared for by those they minister to–the congregation or the church.

v.11-12, Paul then uses the farming analogy to talk about “plant[ing] spiritual seed among” the people of Corinth. Those who planted this spiritual seed “aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink?” Again Paul drives the point across that those who laboured in planting spiritual should be compensated physically for what they did spiritually. Paul continues “if you support others who preach to you” most likely Apollos and Peter then those who brought the Gospel message to the Corinthian people and planted this church (Paul) should have “an even greater right to be supported.” But Paul chose to give up the right to be supported so that his being payed by the church would not be“an obstacle to the Good News about Christ.” Paul’s only reason for not accepting support from the churches he planted was he would not be an obstacle or some translations say “hinder.” This implies breaking up a road to prevent the enemy’s advance. Paul wanted to have a clear road for spreading the Good News or Gospel. He “put up with anything” [working two jobs] so that no unbeliever inquiring about Christianity would be put off by the financial obligation of supporting him as a missionary.

v.13, Paul gives two more examples of his right to receive support: “those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple” and “those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings.” Those who had “sacred jobs” received livelihood from their occupations. They did not have to go elsewhere to find food. It was part of the pay to receive a portion of the offering as their food. Both in Christian temples and pagan ones.

v.14, “In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.” Paul is probably referring to Luke 10:7 where those who benefit (congregation or church) from the preaching of the Gospel should support the preacher. This command allowed the preacher of the Gospel to focus entirely on preaching and the growth of the church and not to have to be concerned with making money.

v.15-17, Even though the churches were commanded to support God’s preachers and workers and they had a right to expect it, Paul chose to “never used any of these rights” at least in Corinth. Because he felt it would hinder the Gospel in that city. Maybe he felt by accepting money from the Corinthians would have caused some to think he was after money and not souls, that his motives were impure. Then he writes “I am not writing this to suggest that I want to start now. In fact I would rather die than loose my right to boast about preaching without charge.” Paul wanted the Corinthians to know he would continue to preach the Gospel without expecting support, this was his “boast.” Even though Paul boasted in serving the Corinthian believers freely, he could not boast about what he did–preaching the Gospel. Paul was “compelled by God” or called by God, to preach the Gospel. Paul then said “how terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!” Some translation use “woe” which refers to an undescribed calamity that would happen to him if he stopped preaching the Gospel. However the reason Paul continued to preach was not because something terrible would happen to him but because “I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust” Paul saw his call from God to be a sacred trust so he had no choice but to freely serve God as an apostle / preacher without expecting payment.

v.18, “What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News.” Paul’s pay or reward was preaching the Gospel without financial support so that the Gospel would not be hindered. His reward was being able to show genuine love and concern for the Corinthian believers.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? Instead of giving my opinion because this topic is so close to me being I am a full-time pastor, I want to quote something I found in a commentary about his passage that I agree with:

“These verses concerning Paul’s rights and the church’s responsibility have a two-part challenge for the church today. First, the church must support its workers in a fair and equitable way. That is the church’s responsibility. It can research pay scales, examine the standard of living in its community, and do what is right and fair. Second, Christian workers must not let their attitude about pay and benefits hinder the Gospel. It is too easy to desire for more pay to enter into a person’s mind and distract from serving. Ministers need Paul’s attitude: I have not used any of these right.” — Life Application Bible Commentary.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  I think the thing I took away from today’s study is as a pastor I should not focus on pay or be distracted by it so much so that my ministry and caring of the Saints gets affected. I know that there have been times when we were living from pay cheque to pay cheque were I was very much distracted. Worrying about how we were going to pay rent, etc. But thankfully at my current position I am being taken care of. Yes, I am human, I do think about how we are going to pay for this or that, but I don’t allow it to distract away from my true calling–teaching and caring for the Saints.

March 26, 2012 at 11:44 AM Leave a comment

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