2 Corinthians chapter 3

undefined(S)

Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.

We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.

The Glory of the New Covenant

The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! 10 In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 11 So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

12 Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. 14 But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. 15 Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.

16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

(O)

Paul continues in this chapter with his last words in chapter 2 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.

It seems there had been many different guys coming along, claiming to be preaching the Gospel, profiting from it. It must have caused a lot of confusion and frustration in the Corinthian church, enough that it implies they were demanding letters of recommendation from everyone, including now Paul. I’m not sure what they were preaching exactly, but judging by the way Paul explained to them the incredible blessing of the new covenant, I’m guessing it had to do with following the old law.

1So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Moses was the only man who was able to speak to God as though he was face to face (Exodus 33:11). Whenever he did this, his face would start to shine. He would come out of the tent of meeting with his face shining and tell the Israelites what God had spoken to him. Then, he would cover his face (Exodus 34:34-35). Paul says that Moses covered his face because his face would eventually lose it’s shine, or the glory of God would fade (2 Corinthians 3:13).

But, we are not like Moses, who would have periodic encounters with God and experience His glory. We are constantly being transformed by the glory of God now that we are followers of Jesus Christ.

(A)

Our lives should constantly be shiny according to Paul. Do those who you are in constant contact with notice a glow about you? This glow is obviously the glory of God because you are constantly encountering him throughout your day. Let the glory of God shine from every area of your life and help spring us into action.

(P)

Father, we thank you for your blessing of the new covenant. We pray today that your glory would truly shine on our faces and this would cause us to rise up and bring our faith into action. In Jesus name, amen.

2 Corinthians chapter 2

(S)

So I decided that I would not bring you grief with another painful visit. For if I cause you grief, who will make me glad? Certainly not someone I have grieved. That is why I wrote to you as I did, so that when I do come, I won’t be grieved by the very ones who ought to give me the greatest joy. Surely you all know that my joy comes from your being joyful. I wrote that letter in great anguish, with a troubled heart and many tears. I didn’t want to grieve you, but I wanted to let you know how much love I have for you.

Forgiveness for the Sinner

I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me. Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him.

I wrote to you as I did to test you and see if you would fully comply with my instructions. 10 When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, 11 so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.

12 When I came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord opened a door of opportunity for me. 13 But I had no peace of mind because my dear brother Titus hadn’t yet arrived with a report from you. So I said good-bye and went on to Macedonia to find him.

Ministers of the New Covenant

14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

17 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.

(O)

Paul is being very personal in this letter, and seems very troubled by what has transpired. The very first verse shows us his last visit was not a pleasant one, seemingly the correct and rebuke was a likely a big factor. It was so unpleasant he wrote a letter before his next visit just to try and smooth things over with these people that he very clearly feels a great deal of responsibility and love for. Paul was testing them also in this letter, to ensure they would be doing right and following the instruction he gave. He was so troubled by this that, even though the Lord gave him opportunity, he just could not minister in the city of Troas because he had not yet heard back from Timothy how things were going in Corinth and could not focus on what he was doing. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Have you ever had bad news or some event going on in your life, and it consumes your thoughts? Maybe waiting on results from the doctor, or you just had a huge fight with your spouse. Waiting to hear back from an interview or just watching or reading the news each day about the virus. It can consume our mind and cause us to lose focus on what we are doing, almost rendering us helpless at times.

(A)

But Paul shows us by example what to do. In his last few verses, he first says “but thank God!”. and turns our attention back towards Jesus. Thankfulness and Jesus, our savior and Word of God. When we focus on these, it will help bring the peace in our hearts that we need during a time of stress. In this time of uncertainty with the pandemic, or whether it’s some other thing that is stressing you, remember to continue to dig into God’s word and really consider the blessings in your life each day. Thank God for them.

(P)

Lord, thank you for all you have blessed me with. Thank you for my family, my friends, my job, plenty of food and a nice house. Thank you for health and the ability to bless others today. Help me with any anxious thoughts and worries. I place them at your feet today. In the name of Jesus, amen.

2 Corinthians chapter 1

Greetings from Paul

This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.

I am writing to God’s church in Corinth and to all of his holy people throughout Greece.[a]

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

God Offers Comfort to All

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters,[b] about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 11 And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.

Paul’s Change of Plans

12 We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness[c] and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you. 13 Our letters have been straightforward, and there is nothing written between the lines and nothing you can’t understand. I hope someday you will fully understand us, 14 even if you don’t understand us now. Then on the day when the Lord Jesus[d] returns, you will be proud of us in the same way we are proud of you.

15 Since I was so sure of your understanding and trust, I wanted to give you a double blessing by visiting you twice— 16 first on my way to Macedonia and again when I returned from Macedonia.[e] Then you could send me on my way to Judea.

17 You may be asking why I changed my plan. Do you think I make my plans carelessly? Do you think I am like people of the world who say “Yes” when they really mean “No”? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” 19 For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas,[f] Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. 20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

23 Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. The reason I didn’t return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke. 24 But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.

(O)

Let’s start with an intro to 2 Corinthians. Why did Paul write another letter to them.

The Setting of 2 Corinthians

c. A.D. 55–56

Paul wrote 2 Corinthians from Macedonia around A.D. 55/56, a year or so after writing 1 Corinthians, during his third missionary journey, and a year before writing his letter to the Romans. He had just finished his three-year ministry in Ephesus and was visiting the churches in Macedonia as he made his way to Corinth. In Macedonia he met Titus, who had returned from Corinth with news about the church there. This is the fourth letter he had written to the Corinthian church (in addition to 1 Corinthians, see the letters mentioned in 1 Cor. 5:9 and 2 Cor. 2:3–4).

Theme

The central theme of 2 Corinthians is the relationship between suffering and the power of the Spirit in Paul’s apostolic life, ministry, and message. Paul’s opponents had questioned his motives and his personal courage. They argued that he had suffered too much to be a Spirit-filled apostle of the risen Christ. But Paul argues that his suffering is the means God uses to reveal his glory (1:3–4, 11, 20)

Paul sent Timothy to Corinth (1 Cor. 4:1716:1011). Disturbing news reached the apostle (possibly from Timothy) of further difficulties at Corinth, including the arrival of self-styled false apostles.

To create the platform to teach their false gospel, they began by assaulting the character of Paul. They had to convince the people to turn from Paul to them if they were to succeed in preaching demon doctrine. Temporarily abandoning the work at Ephesus, Paul went immediately to Corinth. The visit (known as the “painful visit,” 2:1) was not a successful one from Paul’s perspective; someone in the Corinthian church (possibly one of the false apostles) even openly insulted him (2:5–8, 10; 7:12). Saddened by the Corinthians’ lack of loyalty to defend him, seeking to spare them further reproof (cf. 1:23), and perhaps hoping time would bring them to their senses, Paul returned to Ephesus. From Ephesus, Paul wrote what is known as the “severe letter” (2:4) and sent it with Titus to Corinth (7:5–16). Leaving Ephesus, Paul went to Troas to meet Titus (2:12, 13). But Paul was so anxious for news of how the Corinthians had responded to the “severe letter” that he could not minister there though the Lord had opened the door (2:12; cf. 7:5). So he left for Macedonia to look for Titus (2:13). To Paul’s immense relief and joy, Titus met him with the news that the majority of the Corinthians had repented of their rebellion against Paul (7:7). Wise enough to know that some rebellious attitudes still smoldered under the surface, and could erupt again, Paul wrote the Corinthians the letter called 2 Corinthians.

We can see Paul defending his position and decisions on where and how he traveled, and the reason he suffered to much and so often. It is believed he was slandered by these false apostles as being one himself simply because of all the suffering he seemed to constantly endure, and therefore, God could not possibly be with him.

(A)

Whatever the exact truth is, Paul was clearly hurt by the Corinthian church by their doubts and lack of defence of him. But one thing is clear also, Paul still loved these people and did not give up on them that easy. In our own lives, we have all probably encountered people that have hurt us, maybe your are in that situation right now. I want to encourage you with the example of Paul. Don’t allow bitterness to creep in, allow God to fill you with love for them. Pray for them. This does not mean you have to be unwise with your dealings with these people, but we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves.

(P)

Lord, i thank you for those people in my life that are difficult. Help me today to have a new love for them and compassion in my heart to help them if they need it. Thank you Jesus, amen.

1 Corinthians chapter 16

The Collection for Jerusalem

16 Now regarding your question about the money being collected for God’s people in Jerusalem. You should follow the same procedure I gave to the churches in Galatia. On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once. When I come, I will write letters of recommendation for the messengers you choose to deliver your gift to Jerusalem. And if it seems appropriate for me to go along, they can travel with me.

Paul’s Final Instructions

I am coming to visit you after I have been to Macedonia, for I am planning to travel through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay awhile with you, possibly all winter, and then you can send me on my way to my next destination. This time I don’t want to make just a short visit and then go right on. I want to come and stay awhile, if the Lord will let me. In the meantime, I will be staying here at Ephesus until the Festival of Pentecost. There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.

10 When Timothy comes, don’t intimidate him. He is doing the Lord’s work, just as I am. 11 Don’t let anyone treat him with contempt. Send him on his way with your blessing when he returns to me. I expect him to come with the other believers.

12 Now about our brother Apollos—I urged him to visit you with the other believers, but he was not willing to go right now. He will see you later when he has the opportunity.

13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14 And do everything with love.

15 You know that Stephanas and his household were the first of the harvest of believers in Greece, and they are spending their lives in service to God’s people. I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, 16 to submit to them and others like them who serve with such devotion. 17 I am very glad that Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus have come here. They have been providing the help you weren’t here to give me. 18 They have been a wonderful encouragement to me, as they have been to you. You must show your appreciation to all who serve so well.

Paul’s Final Greetings

19 The churches here in the province of Asia send greetings in the Lord, as do Aquila and Priscilla and all the others who gather in their home for church meetings. 20 All the brothers and sisters here send greetings to you. Greet each other with a sacred kiss.

21 HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL.

22 If anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed. Our Lord, come!

23 May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.

(O)

Two things really stand out to me today about Paul. First is his confidence. He doesn’t really ask for an invite when he is mentioning his plan to come and stay with them for the winter, but it is rather matter of fact. And I think he gets this confidence from the second thing which is how personal Paul is. He mentions people by name like he has known them forever. It seems Paul really got to know these people, and had a deep relationship with them. It was clearly more than just surface level. Relationship is so important when reaching out to others. If we can’t take the time to get to know someone, why would we expect them to listen to what we have to say? He even signs it himself with his own handwriting, this tells me they meant something to him.

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14 And do everything with love. A short sentence with a lot of instruction. It seems like a quick thought Paul threw in randomly to once again remind the Corinthians of what he was talking about throughout the whole letter, one last bit of teaching before he wraps it up.

(A)

Paul exemplified “do everything in love”. He had taken the time to get to know these people which turned into great respect for Paul. Is there someone you have one your heart that needs the Lord? Don’t invite them to church, invite them to your house. Invite them out for coffee. Spend time with them. Get to know them. Then invite them to church once you’ve earned that right. Today, let’s pray about who we can get to know better so we can earn a chance to tell them about Jesus.

(P)

Lord, I know so many who don’t know you. Who shall I create a relationship with? Give me words to speak and a love in my heart for this person. Help me to genuinely get to know them, and they get to know me. Help me to hold my tongue until You tell me it’s time to share the Good News. Thank you Jesus, amen.

1 Corinthians chapter 15

(S)undefined

The Resurrection of Christ

15 Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters,[a] of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.[b]

I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter[c] and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers[d] at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him. For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.

10 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 11 So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach, for we all preach the same message you have already believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.

20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.

21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.

24 After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. 25 For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. 26 And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.”[e] (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) 28 Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.

29 If the dead will not be raised, what point is there in people being baptized for those who are dead? Why do it unless the dead will someday rise again?

30 And why should we ourselves risk our lives hour by hour? 31 For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you. 32 And what value was there in fighting wild beasts—those people of Ephesus[f]—if there will be no resurrection from the dead? And if there is no resurrection, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!”[g] 33 Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all.

The Resurrection Body

35 But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” 36 What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. 37 And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. 38 Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. 39 Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.

40 There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. 41 The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.

42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

45 The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.”[h] But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. 46 What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. 47 Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. 48 Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. 49 Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like[i] the heavenly man.

50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.

51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,[j] this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.[k]
55 O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?[l]

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

(O)

Well, i think the theme of this chapter is pretty clear and Paul explains it very well, the importance of the message of Christ’s death and resurrection, and hence, our resurrection.

Let’s focus in on verse 10 – 11 10 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 11 So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach, for we all preach the same message you have already believed.

In the world we constantly see people promoting themselves. Whether it’s on social media, in the halls of your school, or just hanging out with friends, it seems like people are often trying to make themselves appear more successful than they are. However, this is the opposite of what Paul is doing in this verse. He says that he did labor more than others for Jesus but points out that it wasn’t him getting the credit, but the grace of God in him.

Paul is only bragging on the grace of God that works in him. This is true humility. It’s simply believing and accepting what God says about you.

You do not need to promote yourself if God is in you. You can trust God that His grace (His ability) in you is all that you need to get you to where you need to go. Today trust God’s grace to empower you and then brag on Him instead of yourself. This is the true way to walk in humility.

(A)

Today, really meditate on the message of this chapter. Christ lived, died, and lived again. And we have this assurance as well. Praise God today for his grace that does empower us and that will give us all we need to get through this life

(P)

Thank you Lord for what you did on the cross and that you rose again so that I may do the same. Thank you that you promise to care for me and sustain me as long as I am on this earth. Thank you in the name of Jesus, amen.

1 Corinthians chapter 14

(S)undefined

Tongues and Prophecy

14 Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. For if you have the ability to speak in tongues,[a] you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit,[b] but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.

I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.

Dear brothers and sisters,[c] if I should come to you speaking in an unknown language, how would that help you? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, that will be helpful. Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle?

It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.

10 There are many different languages in the world, and every language has meaning. 11 But if I don’t understand a language, I will be a foreigner to someone who speaks it, and the one who speaks it will be a foreigner to me. 12 And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.

13 So anyone who speaks in tongues should pray also for the ability to interpret what has been said. 14 For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying.

15 Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit,[e] and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand. 16 For if you praise God only in the spirit, how can those who don’t understand you praise God along with you? How can they join you in giving thanks when they don’t understand what you are saying? 17 You will be giving thanks very well, but it won’t strengthen the people who hear you.

18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you. 19 But in a church meeting I would rather speak five understandable words to help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language.

20 Dear brothers and sisters, don’t be childish in your understanding of these things. Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature in understanding matters of this kind. 21 It is written in the Scriptures[f]:

“I will speak to my own people
    through strange languages
    and through the lips of foreigners.
But even then, they will not listen to me,”[g]
    says the Lord.

22 So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers. 23 Even so, if unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your church meeting and hear everyone speaking in an unknown language, they will think you are crazy. 24 But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say. 25 As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, “God is truly here among you.”

A Call to Orderly Worship

26 Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.

27 No more than two or three should speak in tongues. They must speak one at a time, and someone must interpret what they say. 28 But if no one is present who can interpret, they must be silent in your church meeting and speak in tongues to God privately.

29 Let two or three people prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said. 30 But if someone is prophesying and another person receives a revelation from the Lord, the one who is speaking must stop. 31 In this way, all who prophesy will have a turn to speak, one after the other, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged. 32 Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people.

34 Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says. 35 If they have any questions, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in church meetings.

36 Or do you think God’s word originated with you Corinthians? Are you the only ones to whom it was given? 37 If you claim to be a prophet or think you are spiritual, you should recognize that what I am saying is a command from the Lord himself. 38 But if you do not recognize this, you yourself will not be recognized.

39 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and don’t forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But be sure that everything is done properly and in order.

(O)

The first part of the this chapter can simply be summarized like this: Love is the greatest gift we have and can give. But we must not forget about the other gifts. However, they are to be used to edify the church, not ourselves. one of the examples Paul gives is speaking in tongues. If you are doing it publicly, and no one interprets, sit down and be silent. By not being silent, you are not showing love for others because they don’t understand you and is therefore only self edifying.

The controversial issue in this chapter is, of course, women being silent in the church. Does Paul actually mean that women should never talk in church or be in a position of leading? Is it sin? I think we could talk and debate on this one for hours, so i’m going to just simply give me opinion on this. Since there are numerous instances throughout scripture where there were women in a position of leadership, eg. Deborah in Judges, several times where prophetesses were mentioned, clearly God cannot view it as sin. It is untypical, but not unheard of. I believe Paul is being somewhat sarcastic here to the Corinthians. If you read other versions, you get a bit of a clearer picture of what Paul is saying. After he talks about the women being silent, he questions if they were the only ones to receive God’s word. If you read the KJV, it says “What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? Paul seems to be challenging their thinking as if they were making up their own interpretation and rules regarding the scriptures. And this makes sense because this is what Paul has been correcting throughout the whole letter, correcting behavior that is contrary to what Paul taught them.

(A)

Our spiritual gifts are very important and are to be used. But always remember to do so in love to others. That is the whole reason we have them. Everything we do is to glorify God and love others. One example that comes to mind is if you are teaching, don’t use big words or concepts people don’t understand. Keep it on their level. This isn’t about showing how smart or spiritual we are.

(P)

Thank you Lord for this day. Thank you for lifted restrictions today, and Lord we thank you that we have more freedom today to see friends and family. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen

Have an awesome weekend everyone!

1 Corinthians chapter 13

images(S)

Love Is the Greatest

13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

(O)

This is quite a short chapter, but the message is powerful and very clear. Having all the gifts available from God are of no value if we don’t use them with love for others in our hearts and with the motive of loving our neighbor as ourselves, genuinely loving them.  Let me share a quick story i read today that relates to this:

A little girl was invited for dinner at the home of her first-grade friend. The vegetable was buttered broccoli and the mother asked if she liked it. “Oh, yes,” the child replied politely, “I love it!”

But when the bowl of broccoli was passed, she declined to take any. The hostess said, “I thought you said you loved broccoli.” The girl replied sweetly, “Oh, yes ma’am, I do, but not enough to eat it!”

Do you love your family? “Of course I do!” We all would say that! It’s the only right answer. But what do you mean by love? So often we love our family like that little girl loved broccoli: We love in the abstract, but when it comes right down to it, we don’t want to get too close. In the words of the Apostle John, we love in word, but not in deed and truth

(A)

So what does love look like in action? Paul gives us a list of things that we can compare our words vs actions.

  • patient
  • kind
  • not jealous
  • not boastful
  • not proud
  • not rude
  • doesn’t demand its own way
  • not irritable
  • keeps no records of wrong
  • does not rejoice about injustice
  • rejoices in truth
  • never gives up
  • never loses faith
  • always hopeful
  • endurance

So when we think about our own interactions with family, friends, acquaintances and strangers, can we honestly say that we fulfill these criteria? Do we bring up the past even when we say we’ve forgiven? Are we secretly happy when someone fails? Are we patient with others? During this time of Covid 19, are we criticizing people for how they choose to isolate and social distance compared to you? Do we get irritated around certain people for no good reason other than they annoy you?  Are you finding ways to bless people even in isolation?  I don’t know about you, but I see I have some work to do in some areas yet. 🙂

(P)

Lord, help each one of us to love others as you would like us to. Help us to recognize where we are falling short and help us to work towards making that better. Give us a new love for people around us today. Thank you in the name of Jesus, amen.

1 Corinthians chapter 12

images (25)(S)

Spiritual Gifts

12 Now, dear brothers and sisters, regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this. You know that when you were still pagans, you were led astray and swept along in worshiping speechless idols. So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. 10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

One Body with Many Parts

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.[f]

14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 28 Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church:

first are apostles,
second are prophets,
third are teachers,
then those who do miracles,
those who have the gift of healing,
those who can help others,
those who have the gift of leadership,
those who speak in unknown languages.

29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! 31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts.

But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.

(O)

This is a very important chapter that every Christian needs to understand. God has gifted each of us uniquely  to work in conjunction with others in the body of Christ, in other words, your church family and just other Christians in general. Each and every one of us has an important part to play. Paul compared us all to parts of a body. Each part is there for a very specific reason. Our bodies work best when each part is there and functioning as it was created to. Can we live without some of these parts, absolutely, but it generally causes other parts to have to compensate and work harder or perform functions they weren’t entirely meant to do.

The thing to keep in mind is that no matter what your gifting is, it is important and is what God wanted for you. It is very easy to look at the pastor or a missionary or worship leader and think “wow, I can’t do that” and somehow thing you are a lesser Christian because you are not in the forefront. That is such a deception of the enemy. Your gift and abilities are uniquely valuable.

Speaking in different languages, or tongues, has often been associated with being filled with the Holy Spirit, and in a lot of cases, is THE gift that shows how spirit filled you really are. But i couldn’t help but notice that it is listed last on the rankings of gifts to desire. Helping others is ranked higher, teachers and prophets are higher yet. Paul said we need to seek after the most helpful gifts. Tongues is one of them, but it does not define who you are as a Christian, but merely a possible manifestation of the Holy Spirit in your own life. It is ok to seek after gifts you do not yet have.

(A)

Pray about what gifts God has given you. What are you naturally attracted to doing? some people are so natural at encouraging, some in leading, some are very comfortable teaching, praying, giving. Some of you go out of your way to help others and you don’t even realize it, some of you are so natural with hospitality. I encourage you to embrace what God has entrusted to you and use it to love your neighbor and disciple others.

(P)

God I thank you for the gifts you have given me. Show me today how to use it for your purposes and glory. Help me to embrace them and not look to others and what they can do. Help me to be a functioning member of the body to bring the Good News to the world around me. In Jesus name, amen.

1 Corinthians chapter 11

download (37)(S)

Instructions for Public Worship

I am so glad that you always keep me in your thoughts, and that you are following the teachings I passed on to you. But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. A man dishonors his head if he covers his head while praying or prophesying. But a woman dishonors her head if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head. Yes, if she refuses to wear a head covering, she should cut off all her hair! But since it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut or her head shaved, she should wear a covering.

A man should not wear anything on his head when worshiping, for man is made in God’s image and reflects God’s glory. And woman reflects man’s glory. For the first man didn’t come from woman, but the first woman came from man. And man was not made for woman, but woman was made for man. 10 For this reason, and because the angels are watching, a woman should wear a covering on her head to show she is under authority.[e]

11 But among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women. 12 For although the first woman came from man, every other man was born from a woman, and everything comes from God.

13 Judge for yourselves. Is it right for a woman to pray to God in public without covering her head? 14 Isn’t it obvious that it’s disgraceful for a man to have long hair? 15 And isn’t long hair a woman’s pride and joy? For it has been given to her as a covering. 16 But if anyone wants to argue about this, I simply say that we have no other custom than this, and neither do God’s other churches.

Order at the Lord’s Supper

17 But in the following instructions, I cannot praise you. For it sounds as if more harm than good is done when you meet together. 18 First, I hear that there are divisions among you when you meet as a church, and to some extent I believe it. 19 But, of course, there must be divisions among you so that you who have God’s approval will be recognized!

20 When you meet together, you are not really interested in the Lord’s Supper. 21 For some of you hurry to eat your own meal without sharing with others. As a result, some go hungry while others get drunk. 22 What? Don’t you have your own homes for eating and drinking? Or do you really want to disgrace God’s church and shame the poor? What am I supposed to say? Do you want me to praise you? Well, I certainly will not praise you for this!

23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.

27 So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.

31 But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. 32 Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

33 So, my dear brothers and sisters, when you gather for the Lord’s Supper, wait for each other. 34 If you are really hungry, eat at home so you won’t bring judgment upon yourselves when you meet together. I’ll give you instructions about the other matters after I arrive.

(O)

This chapter starts with one of those almost controversial subjects; head coverings. It does appear Paul is saying men must uncover their heads to pray and women must cover their head to pray. The other thing Paul talks about is the head of man is Christ, and the head of woman is man. So two things seems to be happening here, he is talking about something physical and something spiritual.

Now the easy answer to this is to say “head covering were a thing for that culture”, and actually, that would be partly correct, I don’t thing we can discount that part. In that day, men and women wore head coverings all the time. So when it came to prayer time, men were to remove that covering as a sign of respect and submission to Christ. As for the women, in that time, removing a head-covering in public was a sign of loose morals and sexual promiscuity. Paul says she might as well have her hair shaved off. Shaved heads indicated the woman either had been publicly disgraced because of some shameful act or refusal to be in submission to her husband. So it was not that she needed to cover her head before prayer, but rather keep it covered.

So through this we can see the spiritual implications. Men were to respect their head; Christ, and women were to respect their head; their husband. And in doing so, they were respecting Christ. This was the order that God put into place. Man, who was created first, is to have authority over his wife (1 Timothy 2:11-14) and because she was made from his body (Gen. 2:21-24)

Now the question is: is this still relevant for today? Should women be putting on a physical head covering when they pray? My answer is yes and no. Yes because their are many who believe they should wear this covering as a sign of respect. Great! On the other hand, in our North American culture, uncovered hair is not a sign of promiscuity or loose morals so maybe the head covering is not necessary. The bottom line, though, is we need, as men, to submit to Christ in everything, and women still need to honor and respect their husbands, which in itself is a sign of submission to Christ. The spiritual aspect has not changed, but we know that physical acts do not save us or condemn us, so we all must do what we feel is correct in our hearts.

(A)

Do we ever criticize someone for doing something different, like wearing head-covering, and say “don’t they realize their freedom in Christ, they don’t have to do that” or snicker at them for holding on to “old traditions”? I want to challenge that thought and remember that they are doing what they feel is right before God, who are we to judge? The better use of our energy would be to look at our own life and honestly evaluate if we are being submissive to Christ in the way He has laid it out. The verses about not pointing at the speck in your brothers eye while there is still a plank in our own comes to mind.

(P)

Lord we submit to you this morning. God show me areas where I have been claiming my own authority and not yours. Thank you that we find freedom in this! God you are awesome and we love you, thank you for another incredible day of life, sunshine and another day full of opportunities. In the name of Jesus, amen.

1 Corinthians chapter 10

(S)

Lessons from Israel’s Idolatry

10 I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

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. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.” And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day.

Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. 10 And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. 11 These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.

12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

14 So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. 15 You are reasonable people. Decide for yourselves if what I am saying is true. 16 When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? 17 And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body. 18 Think about the people of Israel. Weren’t they united by eating the sacrifices at the altar?

19 What am I trying to say? Am I saying that food offered to idols has some significance, or that idols are real gods? 20 No, not at all. I am saying that these sacrifices are offered to demons, not to God. And I don’t want you to participate with demons. 21 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 demons, too. 22 What? Do we dare to rouse the Lord’s jealousy? Do you think we are stronger than he is?

23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. 24 Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.

25 So you may eat any meat that is sold in the marketplace without raising questions of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

27 If someone who isn’t a believer asks you home for dinner, accept the invitation if you want to. Eat whatever is offered to you without raising questions of conscience. 28 (But suppose someone tells you, “This meat was offered to an idol.” Don’t eat it, out of consideration for the conscience of the one who told you. 29 It might not be a matter of conscience for you, but it is for the other person.) For why should my freedom be limited by what someone else thinks? 30 If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it?

31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. 33 I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.

(O)

Let’s focus on vs 13 today   “13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

This verse is very encouraging, and there are 3 things we can learn from this about temptation:

First, they are common to all. I do not know anything that is harder to believe, when we are being tempted, than that. We all think, Why isn’t this happening to others? They deserve it so much more than me. Why is it happening to me? Well, maybe it is just your turn, that is all. Everybody goes through it. You do not see what others go through most of the time, but no one is left out. Trials are common to all. Their time is coming, if it has not already, so do not ever allow yourself to think that what is happening to you is unique. It is not at all. It is very common, and if you ask around, you will find others that have gone through it too.

Second, though they are common trials, they are also controlled — God is faithful, He will not allow you to be tempted above your strength. Again, that is hard to believe. We say, “Well, it has already happened. I am already beyond my strength” No, you are not. You just think you are. God knows your strength greater than you do. He knows how much you can handle, and how much you cannot.  He puts the pressure on, but it is controlled pressure. It will never be more than you can handle as long as you understand the third thing.

The third thing is the conquering grace that he provides, the way out that is always present, never failing. What is that way of escape? It is dependence on Him. Discipline is necessary, but so is dependence. All through the Old Testament we see examples of this where God strips away all human support so that we may learn that He is enough. God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble (Ps.46:1), and we will never discover that until everything else has been taken away. Then we begin to discover that God can hold us steady. He himself is the way of escape, and that is why he puts us through pressures and testings.

A lot of people think they are special as far as temptation is concerned. Some think they alone are singled out while others are left alone. Other people are too embarrassed to share their vulnerability or problems. They might doubt if their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ have similar bad thoughts or continue to struggle with the lure of sinfulness. It leaves them feeling alone, isolated and uncertain of their own salvation. Temptation can to that to us — make us feel dirty and unworthy. However, we might all be surprised — even shocked — to find out what tempts the people around us. But temptation, by itself, is not sin. Even Jesus was tempted. Hebrews 2:18: “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

(A)

Today we need to remember the incredible promises in this verse. Are we facing a temptation or trial in our lives? Are we feeling like we are at our wits end? Remember what Paul says in these verses. God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. God will give us the strength, we just need to submit and allow ourselves to place our trust and dependence on Him today.

(P)

Thank you Lord for your promises. Thank you that you will always be there for me in my time of trial. Thank you for the strength you will give me and the way out you provide. In the name of Jesus, amen.