Category: 1st and 2nd Corinthians

God’s order in using the gift of tongues

Scripture reading for September 13th: 1st Corinthians 14

Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 14:1-5 “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.”

Paul was writing to bring some order and understanding to the exercise of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the church. Evidently, in the services, many were speaking in tongues in a public manner and no one was interpreting. Speaking in tongues is good for the individual believer and it edifies or builds him or her up. But when used in the body, without interpretation, it doesn’t help anyone but the speaker. When tongues are interpreted, then, like prophesy, the church is edified and built up because all can understand what the Spirit is saying. That’s why Paul says that they should desire especially to prophesy (give a message in a known language) or to speak in a tongue and interpret. All must be done in love and for the common good. Tongues are a sign gift for the unbeliever to speak to his heart by the Spirit. Prophesy is for the church to speak to God’s people.

1st Corinthians 14:21-22 “In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people and even then they will not listen to Me, says the Lord.” Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank you for the gifts of the Spirit. Each one is given by You as You will for the purpose You intend and are always filled and empowered by love. Help me to understand the Holy Spirit and allow Him to use me in the gifts that are appropriate and to instruct others in Your body on the proper use of these gifts. Thank You for speaking to Your people and the lost!

1st Corinthians 14:26-28 “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. If there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.”

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The ‘more excellent way’

Scripture reading for September 10th: 1st Corinthians 13

Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 12:31; 13:1-3 “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Paul understood God’s amazing love and knew that no human could love like God unless God had first revealed His love to them in Christ Jesus. The Corinthians were zealous for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and according to Paul, that was proper to desire them, especially the ‘higher’ gifts. (prophesy?) But there was the ‘more excellent way’ that Paul wanted to emphasize. Love must be pursued first in all things and must flow to empower the gifts of the Holy Spirit. God’s love is “agape” love, a love that always seeks the best for those it loves. God’s Love stands above every form of worldly love and love is God and God is love! Through the Holy Spirit, a river of God’s love is released into our hearts when we repent and place our trust in Jesus. (Romans 5:5) All gifts and service to God must flow with His heart of love!

1st Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Love never ends. . .”

Faith confession and prayer: Loving Father, thank You for the river of love given me by the Holy Spirit that flows from Your heart to this world of lost people. Fill me afresh today with Your love and remind me of it in every conversation, encounter, and activity. May I always use the gifts You have given me in the ‘more excellent way,’ pursuing love first!

1st Corinthians 13:13; 14:1 “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.”

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Our God speaks and empowers!

Scripture reading for September 9th: 1st Corinthians 12

Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 12:1-7 “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit; and there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God Who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

The Corinthians church was full of people who were once pagans and served dumb idols. The term ‘dumb’ means the inability to speak. But in the church of Jesus Christ, we serve a God Who is alive and speaks and gives gifts and empowers! Paul wanted none of the church to be ignorant concerning the Holy Spirit and the gifts He gives. He wanted them to grow in the grace of the gifts God had put within each member of the greater body. There is only one God, one Holy Spirit, and one Lord Jesus and when someone has been born again by the Holy Spirit, they will confess “Jesus is Lord.” They will never curse their Lord! There are also varieties of gifts of the Holy Spirit and varieties of service to the Lord, but our God is the only one to empower believers. These gifts and activities are all given for the common good, never to be boasted about or used for selfish purposes.

1st Corinthians 12:8-10 “For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for the wonderful Gift of the Holy Spirit, living in me and all who believe. Help me to grow more knowledgeable about the Holy Spirit and Your gifts that I might use the gifts you give to be a blessing to Your body, the Church. I proclaim by the Holy Spirit: “Jesus is Lord!”

1st Corinthians 12:11 “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, Who apportions to each one individually as He wills.”

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A holy prophetic proclamation!

Scripture reading for September 8th: 1st Corinthians 11

Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 11:23-27 “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is My body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.”

Paul had been instructing the Corinthians on eating the meat of sacrifices to idols in the pagan culture of the land. Now he turns to the holy sacrament of the Lord’s supper. Paul got this instruction from the Lord, Himself, and delivered it to these believers to help them and correct their attitudes and division that was occurring in this church family. The sacrament of the Lord’s supper was a partaking of the symbols of the sacrifice of Jesus’ body and blood on the cross of Calvary. They were to do it in remembrance of the Lord and His final and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of mankind. They were to do it after examining their own lives and asking forgiveness and grace for any offenses against Christ’s body–the Church. They were to do it prophetically–proclaiming Christ’s death and His resurrection and promised return!

1st Corinthians 11:28-30 “Let a person examine himself, then and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for the gift of Your Son as my final and complete sacrifice for my sins as well as of those of the whole world. Help me to examine myself each time I partake to properly discern the body, Your Church, so that I am not bringing judgment on me or any others. I want to give a holy proclamation of Your death and soon return to all in the holiness You have provided by grace through faith.

1st Corinthians 11:31-32 “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”

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Pagans sacrifice to demons!

Scripture reading for September 7th: 1st Corinthians 10

Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 10:19-24 “What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”

As a Christ-follower, we must never compromise our love and commitment to the One true God. In the Corinthians culture, idol worship was associated with sacrifices that were then cooked and served. Believers knew that the sacrifice was nothing more than an animal and that the god they sacrificed to was nothing. But behind these ‘gods’ were demons. They were lying religious spirits of darkness that held men in bondage. Demons were real and their purpose and power was also real. To set a good example and help those who were just coming out of this demonic bondage, Paul urged the believers to do what was most helpful and able to build up those being delivered: abstain from this meat. It would be ‘lawful’ to eat for them, but not helpful. The law of love again limits liberty to win souls.

1st Corinthians 10:26-29 “For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to diner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “this has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience–I do not mean your conscience, but his.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for this instruction on idolatry and the demonic forces behind it. Help me to apply this truth today in my time and culture that I might show the love of Christ and yet never compromise my sincere and total devotion to You and Your Word. Help me to seek the good of my neighbors always.

1st Corinthians 10:31-33 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.”

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A servant to all for the Gospel!

Scripture reading for September 6th: 1st Corinthians 9

Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 9:19-23 “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”

Paul went into detail concerning his own life of serving all people for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul clearly understood the importance of winning souls for Christ as his priority. He had a right to receive offerings and get support from the church, but limited his right and worked with his own hands to provide for his needs that he might not cause any to stumble. He lived under the law although freed from law-keeping that he might win Jews. He did not keep the Jewish law around Gentiles but lived under the law of Christ (love God and love people) in order to win them. Around those with weak consciences he became weak (although strong) to win them. He desired all men to be saved and share in the blessings of eternal life in Christ. He did this out of love and Christ’s call on his life to preach.

1st Corinthians 9:16-17 “For if I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will I am still entrusted with a stewardship.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for Your call to me to preach the Gospel. I willingly accept that call and want to freely share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Help me through the Holy Spirit to be a servant to all people that I might win some and enjoy sharing with them the blessings of eternal life with You forever and ever. As a steward, may I be found faithful.

1st Corinthians 9:26-27 “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

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Don’t become a ‘stumbling block’!

Scripture reading for September 3rd: 1st Corinthians 8

Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 8:7-11 “However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.”

Paul was talking to the Corinthian believers who had come out of idolatry and found new freedom in Christ. Some were freely eating meat sacrificed to idols knowing that their eating had nothing to do with their salvation. This liberty was causing some of the believers, whose consciences were still weak, to stumble in their new-found faith. We can be right in our actions, but still be wrong if we cause others to stumble. The law of love says that I temper my actions and liberty to help and encourage my weaker brothers and sisters to grow in grace. I will do nothing that knowingly causes my brothers to stumble. Love never fails! Because of Christ’s love of all people and His desire for their salvation, we who have knowledge can limit our liberty to demonstrate our sincere commitment to Christ and build up weaker believers.

Romans 14:14-15 “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for declaring all foods clean and the liberty given by grace to believers. I am thankful for knowledge through Your Word but mindful of Your great love for all. Give me grace to know when to limit my liberty to help those who are still weak in their faith and not cause them to stumble. Fill me with Your love and wisdom through the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17-19 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding.”

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The appointed time is very short!

Scripture reading for September 2nd: 1st Corinthians 7

Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 7:26-31 “I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you do marry you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. This is what I mean, brothers: The appointed time is very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.”

The Corinthians had written to Paul concerning marriage and remaining single in light of the pagan culture they lived in. Paul wrote back to clarify his teaching and God’s Word for those seeking to live by the truth. In light of the present distress and persecution, Paul gave clear instructions concerning relationships but also allowed freedom for the believers to follow the Holy Spirit. He emphasized that the culture was distressed and the time before Christ’s return was very short. That was the viewpoint of believers in the early church and it is still true! In light of this, living for God to the fullest extent and avoiding the worldly troubles that even a Christian marriage would be a wise choice. But if a person was betrothed and wanted to be married, that would be blessed as well. The bottom line was to avoid excessive worldly troubles and ensnarement but live up to the covenant commitments you already have.

1st Corinthians 7:17 “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for this instruction on marriage, singleness, and our calling as believers to live in fulfilment of Your assignment for our life. Help me to avoid worldly snares and enslavement of men and fulfil my covenant commitments to my wife and children and to You as my Lord and Savior.

1st Corinthians 7:23-24 “Your were bought with a price: do not become bondservants of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.”

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Avoiding deception

Scripture reading for September 1st: 1st Corinthians 6

Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 6:9-11 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God And such were some of you. But you were washed, your were sanctified, you were justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

The Corinthian believers lived in a very carnal and immoral culture. Most of the believers had been saved from the sins of that culture and were growing in Christ. However, some in the Church still were involved in their past sins and failed to repent or allow the washing and sanctification of the Holy Spirit to cleanse them. Some were deceived and it was also confusing the whole church. Paul reminds them that those failing to repent and turn away from their sins will not inherit the kingdom of God. True repentance and salvation brings cleansing and washing from sin’s grip and increasing holiness as the Spirit sets us apart for Christ alone for eternity. Those claiming to be believers must be held to account by the body and leaders.

1st Corinthians 6:14-15 “And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for clear instructions about what the Holy Spirit truly does for us in washing and cleansing us and preparing us to live in Your presence for eternity. As we await the resurrection of our bodies and total transformation at the return of Jesus Christ, help us to live like Your sanctified children, glorifying You in our bodies.

1st Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, Whom you have from God? You are not you own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

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Discipline in Christ’s Church

Scripture reading for August 31st: 1st Corinthians 5

Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 5:1-5 “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For although absent in body, I am present in spirit’ and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the Name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”

Christ’s Church is His body on earth and is required to reflect God’s holiness and truth found in His Word. As the Church is formed out of the culture with converted sinners, some of the sinful culture seeps into the body. Not all believers are quick to repent and some strongholds are more difficult to break. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about a man in their body who was sexually immoral but nothing was being done about it. He told the leaders that they were arrogant for not confronting this problem and explained how to do it. If the man would not repent, he was to be turned over to Satan by putting him out of the fellowship of believers. The goal was the destruction of this stronghold in the man’s life through repentance and eventual restoration. The evil person must not be allowed to stay in the church of Christ Jesus until a turn-around was made.

1st Corinthians 5:6-7 “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for giving discipline instructions to Your Church leaders. As a member of Your body here on earth, I want to be a new lump without leaven. I have accepted Christ as my Passover Lamb that I might be unleavened. Help Your Church to apply these discipline instructions where needed to reflect Your holiness and to possibly bring healing and restoration.

1st Corinthians 5:12-13 “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.””

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