On August 27th, read First Corinthians 9:1 - 27. Key verse is verse 25.
“And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.”
Paul, and every one of us, is running in a race. The course is laid out for us. The forerunner is Christ. We must follow Him.
Jesus was and is the possessor of all rights. As creator and Lord He had the right to do whatever He wanted to. He willingly chose to lay down His life (His rights) for our sakes. He subjected every physical need to the higher calling of redemption. He also did this in hope. “For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2b) He knew by faith that there would be a reward.
So it is with us. We cannot run this race as if we are playing a game. We do not run unsure of the course. We don’t fight at nothing as if beating the air. Our biggest challenge is ourselves. If we can deny ourselves the natural rights of man, for a greater cause, we will obtain the prize.
It is not that all physical things are denied of us; it is that they are subject to the goal of finishing the race. We are temperate in all things. Paul had a goal for the Corinthians. His right to financial support was thus made subject to this greater goal and greater good, their salvation.
Do we know what our goal really is? Have we subjected everything else to it? It isn’t that Paul would not have liked to bring along a wife or receive more income from them. (What is sacrifice if that wasn’t true?) But Paul saw a greater cause and goal than his own welfare, others. Yet he also had hope that he himself would be benefited in the end. You reap what you sow.
On August 28th, read First Corinthians 10:1 - 18. Key verse is verse 7.
“And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’”
Though miraculously delivered from Egypt, though fed and clothed and protected by God in the wilderness, though every blessing they had was a miracle of His grace, they still died in the wilderness. Even though without Him they had no life or hope and even though Jesus, the bread from heaven and the water of life, followed them around through their wilderness wanderings, they still died in the wilderness.
Spiritual privilege does not guarantee eternal security because it doesn’t necessarily change the heart. That is up to us, our will cooperating with the Spirit of the Lord.
They still lusted for things that they were denied. They still worshipped idols and committed sexual immorality. They tempted Christ and complained about how they were being cared for. In other words, they remained in their sin.
Verse seven is illustrative of their evil direction. Their direction was always focused on themselves and their physical, temporal enjoyment. The worse idol they had was the idol of their own pleasure. This idol will never be satisfied.
When they were slaves in Egypt they cried out for deliverance from their oppressors. They knew they deserved better than how they were treated. But after crossing the Red Sea, instead of giving their lives to their Savior, their focus remained on themselves. Everything they received, they consumed on their own pleasures. Instead of a gift from God, they treated each blessing as a right they deserved.
They were their own idol or god. Their god was their belly. And as it will be in the last days, so it was with them. They died in the wilderness.
Eating and drinking and playing is not what life is all about. It is about serving the Lord first. As we put Him first, all these things shall be added unto you.
On August 29th, read First Corinthians 10:19 - 33. Key verse is verse 26.
“for ‘the earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness’
This verse from Psalm 24 is quoted twice with different applications. The first application is that, because it all belongs to God, we have the privilege to eat whatever is set before us. It is all clean. God is greater than the idols or the demons. Eat it as if it belongs to God (for in truth it does) and you will be okay.
The second application is, because people, especially Christians, belong to God, don’t eat everything. People are more important than food. It all belongs to God, therefore you don’t have the right to just eat or do whatever you please.
The evil is not in the food itself but in the attitudes regarding eating or not eating. This is the new reality. Verse 24 is the key to our living, “Let no one seek his own, but each the other’s well being.” By lack of appropriate consideration the very demons of hell have freedom to operate within even the most innocent things such as food. Selfishness opens the door.
The counsel here was to carry on your life in faith toward God and not fear toward demon powers. Understand that it all belongs to God. But if someone draws your attention toward how some were using that food for an evil purpose and felt it wrong under God to eat it, instead of arguing with them and trying to prove a theological point, just don’t eat it.
It is not that big of a deal. What is a big deal is the perseverance of the faith of the individual who told you about it. He belongs to the Lord. Let’s not do anything to cause him to stumble.
On August 30th, read First Corinthians 11:1 - 16. Key verse is verse 7.
“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.”
I am sure this is not a memory verse for most Bible study groups. At first glance it sounds too demeaning to women and too arrogant producing for men. But taken with the right attitude, it is neither.
It has nothing to do with worth or value in God’s eyes. It does however speak to the line of authority and roles in relationships. Any organization or body needs clear lines of authority set in motion. The question, “Who is in charge here?” has to be asked and clearly answered.
The Bible delineates that very clearly as follows; God – Christ – man (husband) – woman (wife) – children. This is not chauvinistic, but realistic order. This also clarifies roles.
Each person does not run his own life and career irrespective of the other. Jesus does not do His own will but that of the Father. The man submits his will to that of Christ and makes that his will. The wife submits her will to that of serving her husband. Every woman knows that men need lots of help. That is her calling, to help him be the man of God he was called to be.
The scripture also says that a husband is to love his wife and nurture her. But that is not the point or focus of this portion of scripture. Each one ought to fulfill their role regardless of the other’s response. It is not a wait and see approach as to whether we will do our part if they do theirs. The roles and lines of authority are already set.
As we obey the Lord, the Lord will exalt us. Women might have a greater place in heaven, as they have been obedient to their calling here on earth for the Lord highly exalts the humble. Jesus was the greatest servant. He is our example.
On August 31st read First Corinthians 11:17-34. Key verse is verse 31
“For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.”
The Lord’s Supper is a time of personal reflection. It is a time to examine our own lives. This privilege is given to all saints. In the privacy of their own hearts, before God or anyone else has a chance to condemn us, we, by God’s grace, have been given time and ability to judge ourselves.
David prays, “see if there be any wicked way in me,” but God puts it back in our lap as He says, “You look, examine your own heart, consider yourself, use the Holy Spirit’s search light, your life is your stewardship, your responsibility." God says, " I’ve given you a chance for self-examination that you might freely give your sin to me so that I might cleanse it.”
The sin here in the Corinthians, that needs to be looked for, is the sin of pride, putting one above another (v.18,19), the sin of selfishness and inconsideration and lack of love for all members of Christ’s Body. How it must have grieved the Lord to see them get together and leave more hurt and fragmented than when they came (v.17). This was a terrible sin against His body.
Natural judgment against it was already falling. This natural judgment was not anything that the Lord was doing to them rather it was just a part of reaping and sowing that was set in motion by the Lord at the very beginning of creation. This was the natural consequences of their behavior. More judgment would follow if the individuals would not stop and take a look at themselves.
How we treat one another in the body of Christ is how we are treating Christ. It is in the Lord’s Supper that should show the example of the oneness we ought to enjoy and the identification of the self-sacrificial conduct of Christ that all may be free.
Are we one with Him and His purity and love for each other? Have we examined our hearts and surrendered our sin to Him, asking Him to forgive us and help us? We have this opportunity today. Don't wait for a more convenient time.
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