Monday, September 6
Read 1 Corinthians 9:1-18
The Apostle Paul shared in these verses a defense of himself as an apostle. He started out the chapter by writing the following:
“Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 9:1-2)
He closed this passage by writing, “What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:18)
Paul was communicating his own motivation for what he did.
What is your motivation for following Jesus?
All of us at some point have made a decision to follow Jesus and be part of a congregation. For some this decision was made a long time ago; this decision was a natural next step. For others this decision involved a significant change in lifestyle.
When did you decide to make a commitment to Jesus and a local congregation? Please share.
Tuesday, September 7
Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-27
Paul was willing to do whatever it took to win people over to Christ. We get a sense of his passion in these verses when Paul wrote, “To the Jew he became a Jew; to those under the law he became under the law; to those outside the law, he became outside of the law; to the weak, he became weak.” (1 Corinthians 9:20-21a)
Perhaps some would accuse Paul of tailoring his own desires to the people around him. Others might see his motivation as trying to do whatever he could to be relevant to the people he was serving.
In reading these verses we can sense the passion he had for bringing people to Christ and having them be part of a faith community.
For some today, this passion might be a bit overwhelming. Some of us might have experiences of people whose passion was too much over the top. Some of us might respect and admire such passion.
What are our thoughts about people who are very passionate about faith? Is this intimidating? Is it beautiful? Is it necessary? Is it something else? Please share.
Wednesday, September 8
Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-11:1
Amidst this fairly long chapter, Paul wrote, “flee from the worship of idols.” (1 Corinthians 10:14) And though he actually didn’t talk too much about following an idol, he did in other places in 1 Corinthians.
A week ago Sunday Pastor Paul talked about the temptation that every person has in placing something ahead of God. It could be our family, or our work, or a hobby, or entertainment. It’s no accident that the first two Commandments of the Ten Commandments have to do with other gods and idols. God knows how hard this issue is for us!
What strategies do you have to help you place God first in your life? What have you seen other people do that helps them place God first in their life? Having some examples can be helpful to all of us.
Thursday, September 9
Read 1 Corinthians 11:2-33
In the last section of this chapter Paul wrote about abuses that were happening at the Lord’s Supper. Paul felt that people were not prepared to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
However, it’s important to note that Paul was not intending to make a universal rule about taking Communion. When he wrote these words, he wasn’t thinking that people in the year 2021 would be bound by them.
Instead, he was trying to communicate the importance of being ready to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
Some have taken these words and developed somewhat elaborate rituals to help people celebrate the Lord’s Supper. But this was not what Paul was trying to communicate. He was communicating the importance of what was happening, and he wanted people to take this seriously. He wasn’t trying to etch in stone a procedure for taking the Lord’s Supper.
When we see the words of the Bible as prescriptive and not descriptive, we can get in trouble. Paul was not prescribing how to take Communion; instead, he was describing the importance of what was happening and encouraging people to take this seriously.
Friday, September 10
Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
The 12th chapter of Corinthians is a marvelous explanation of the power of a local congregation. We can take these words and apply them to our own congregation.
Paul was celebrating the varieties of gifts that happened in a local congregation. But despite this diversity there was one Lord. And all of these diverse gifts were shared for the common good. Verse seven is powerful. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)
The gifts that Paul wrote about are descriptions of gifts that each of us can have. The nine spiritual gifts that Paul shared were wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discernment, various kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues. These gifts are given for the common good.
Which of these nine spiritual gifts do you identify in yourself?
Saturday, September 11
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Paul went on to write about how spiritual gifts can work in a congregation. Having a spiritual gift does not make someone better than another person. Instead, Paul wanted people in a congregation to share their gifts. Just as a body has different parts, a local congregation has different parts.
One way to define a congregation is a collection of spiritual gifts working together for the common good.
The term “the body of Christ,” which sometimes is a way to describe congregations, comes from these verses in 1 Corinthians.
The success of congregations can depend on how well people’s spiritual gifts work are aligned together. When people work well together using their spiritual gifts amazing ministry can happen!