May 19, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Corinthians 13

As Christians we look for ways to become more radical and extreme in our faith to reach people for the Gospel and to grow in it. What if these efforts culminated in us speaking a different language that others would hear and recognize that it could only be of God? And what if we could be able to predict the mysteries of the future and show great knowledge from God? Or what if our faith could literally move mountains? What if we took Fox news, CNN, TMZ to the Gorge and said “watch this” as we shouted out in prayer to God “In faith in Jesus, I ask this mountain to move” and it moved to the wonder of others and glory to God. What if we could do all of these radical, extreme things to glorify God and share the Gospel? As great as that may seem, our Scripture today makes a strong point that all of those things won’t matter to God or in the world’s eyes without LOVE. Yes, ordinary, plain old LOVE. The one thing that you probably get sick of hearing about on Sundays and at Connect Group.

You say:

“I know, I know… God so loved the world that He gave us…. bluh, bluh, bluh.

“Yea, Yea… Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul.. bluh, bluh, bluh.

“or what about that now annoying kids song?.. Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells… bluh, bluh, bluh.”

We constantly hear about God’s love for us and how we should love God and others but isn’t there a next step? I mean we’ve heard those above things since we were in kids Sunday school. There has to be more. Something more sacrificial and radical?

Well, I’m sorry but God says no. There isn’t anything more. All of those extreme examples listed above means absolutely nothing without love. In fact, maybe we don’t understand love if we believe we need to go beyond God’s love for us and our response by loving Him and others. Maybe we don’t view love the way God created it. Maybe you’ve been deceived into believing that God loves us or you’re supposed to love Him and others like the world displays love. Look at v. 4-8.

Love that is:

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Not envious
  • Not boastful
  • Not arrogant
  • Not rude
  • Not selfish
  • Not rejoicing in wrongdoing
  • Rejoicing in truth
  • Bearing all things
  • Believing all things
  • Hopeful in all things
  • Endures all things
  • Forever and unconditional

That is God’s love and it seems pretty radical to me. I believe that we try to go past God’s love because that list above is too hard to do with others or to expect from others. I read that list and can’t believe that type of love is given to us from our Heavenly Father. We see that the most in the Gospel. But then I think about how much God can use me, you, and our church if we loved God and others back in those ways. People around us don’t need to see miracles like predicting the future or literally moving mountains in the name of Jesus. They need to see that type of love pointed out above because that type of love is a miracle in itself compared to the world we live in and the false, prideful love that’s on full display. So go ahead and be radical and extreme today by going out and loving God and others.

By: Erik Koliser

May 18, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Chapter 12 is a great chapter!  It helps us understand spiritual gifts and how they work.  He reminds us in verse 7:

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

There is so much confusion over the gifts in the church.  This leads to many problems.  So many Christians are just uneducated as to how they work.

Paul gives us a list of the motivation spiritual gifts (the 7 gifts that Christ-followers are gifted with) in Romans 12:

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.  Romans 12:6-8

There are just seven motivation spiritual gifts – but thousands of ministry gifts.  The motivational spiritual gifts are varied and look and function differently.  This is for the benefit of the body but you can only imagine how this might cause problems in the church.  We don’t do well with things and people different from us.  That’s where today’s passage comes in.  Paul reminds us that each of us matter to the whole.

All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. (v.27)

We can’t all be prophets, can’t all be teachers. We need each other, every hand, and eye, and foot!

 

  • What is your spiritual gift? Have you studied it? Do you understand it?
  • How are you regularly using it for God’s glory?
  • Pray for your church today, that God will raise up more people to use their gifts to advance the Gospel and grow the church.

 

By: Tim Parsons

May 17, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Popularity Defined: the state or condition of being liked, admired, or supported by many people.

Have you ever thought about the idea of popularity? Popularity is built on some culturally defined trend that is seen to be better than other trends. For instance: In many High Schools being a jock and a good athlete is more popular than being in band. Although, being able to play an instrument is just as impressive as hitting a homerun one can be seen as better than another. However, there are some schools or environments where band is the more popular thing. Popularity is subjective and can change depending on the crowd you run in or who you are trying to impress. The pursuit of popularity is often a selfish pursuit seeking to find approval and importance at the expense of the “lesser” crowd.

Unfortunately, we can fall into this popularity contest within the church. There are the “super spiritual” roles like preaching, teaching, & worship and the lesser roles like “chair guys” (sarcasm intended). The Corinthians were doing this with the gifts but Paul was trying to bring clarity and humility to the situation. Regardless of the gift that God has given it is only for the purpose of helping the body to pursue and live for God. There is nothing about your gifting that makes you more special or better than another. The only thing that makes us special is Jesus himself and the only thing His grace should produce in us is humility. It is a privilege to serve one another in the body of Christ and It is a privilege to use our gifts to reach the lost.

How has God gifted you and how are you leveraging those gifts to bless those in the Church? How are you leveraging them to reach those who are lost around you?

By: Chad Wiles

May 16, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Corinthians 11

What a full chapter of scripture! A lot can be said of just the first verse: “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” Here, you see a discipler willing to bring the disciples along by allowing them to see how he lives. You might read that and think that he is a little overzealous or overconfident, but I think that is the opposite of the truth. When you read Paul – any of his letters – you find that he was extremely dependent on the grace of God.

Thus, I read the opening statement today as one of humility not pride. It’s almost as if he’s saying, “Follow me as I lean heavily on Jesus to carry me through every day.” Or, even better put:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV

Enough for the day, right? Well, there is much more in this passage. Verses 2-16 have been quite controversial through the years as many read it as Paul’s oppression or silencing of women. I caution us, today, to look at it from a biblical lens and not simply a cultural or emotional one. This is getting at the natural order of things that God designed. I love what John Piper says about this because it helps bring clarity to context and purpose found in these verses:

Let’s try to understand this passage by moving backward. How does nature teach what length hair is “proper”? If nature takes its course, man’s hair gets as long as woman’s. That women wore long hair in those days and men relatively short hair was due to cultural custom, not any absolute natural law.

What nature prescribed was that in general men feel ashamed when they are effeminate and women incline naturally to being feminine. The cultural symbols of femininity and masculinity change. (In America Paul could say, “Doesn’t nature teach you that a man should not wear a dress?”) But the teaching of nature, rooted in creation, does not change (except where perversions are so widespread they are defended as natural, e.g., homosexuality).

So nature is a teacher for Paul in that it generally inclines man and woman to feel shame when they abandon the basic cultural symbols of masculinity and femininity. So verses 13–15 confirm the apostle’s earlier point that women should avail themselves of the current custom (of headcoverings) which in their day signified an essential truth about the difference between man and woman, namely, the man’s headship and the woman’s submission to it.

It becomes clear then that the issue of 1 Corinthians 11:2–16 is secondarily headcoverings but primarily the perseveration of God-given distinctions between man and woman in the way they relate to each other. The head covering is culturally relative. What is signified for Paul is not. It is rooted in nature, or, as we can see in verses 7–9, in creation.

Excerpt from Creation, Culture, and Corinthian Prophetesses by John Piper. FULL ARTICLE HERE.

I don’t think it is ever God’s desire to suppress women, and that is not the point of the passage. That’s why women are often exalted in scripture as to their role in God’s unfolding plan of redemption: Deborah, Rahab, Bathsheba, Mary, Phoebe, to name a few. The passage is highlighting God’s design and order for things, and as we often say, things just work better when you do them God’s way.

The closing section of chapter 11 deals with the Lord’s Supper. We see this as an ordinance of the local church that has a lot of ramifications to it. God has instructions that He wants His Bride to follow, and Paul clearly lays that out. Whenever we take of the bread and the cup, let’s remember to do so reverently and joyfully, considering everything Jesus went through to give us a New Covenant.

What did you learn from the passage today? Have you struggled with these verses? How has God reshaped your thinking through 1 Corinthians?

By: Todd Thomas