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.”

Tags : , , , , ,

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.”

Tags : , , , , , , ,

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.””

Tags : , , , , ,

The Lord as final Judge!

Scripture reading for August 30th: 1st Corinthians 4

Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 4:1-5 “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, Who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”

Each person is given a ‘conscience’ and has God’s inner witness that their deeds are on target or missing the mark. Paul admonished the believers about being judges of another believer. It is impossible for us as humans to fully know another person and their true motives. In fact, Paul said he couldn’t accurately judge himself. Only God can truly and fairly judge each believer. At the judgement seat of Christ all hidden motives and purposes will come to light. Christ alone is the perfect and final Judge Who never misses truth.

1st Corinthians 4:6 “I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for making me a servant of Christ and steward of the mysteries of God. Help me to stay faithful and true to Your Word and avoid the temptation to make judgments of people and their motives. May I set an example for other believers to follow in the power of the Holy Spirit. My highest desire is to be commended by You as my judge.

1st Corinthians 4:20 “For the kingdom of God does not consist of talk but in power.”

Tags : , , , , ,

Fire will test our works!

Scripture reading for August 27th: 1st Corinthians 3

Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 3:11-15 “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid–which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw–each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

The Corinthians were very spiritually minded in some ways, but were carnally minded in others. Paul pointed out the divisions in the church body around certain teachers. He pointed out that this was worldly thinking for each person has an assignment from God and works to do. God is looking for those who are faithful in obedience. The Church is like a house with one foundation and cornerstone–Jesus Christ! Each person must be careful to follow Christ alone, and not idolize church leaders or any man. Our works will all be judged one day–on the Day of Christ at the judgment seat of Christ, where each person will receive reward (or suffer loss) for the deeds done in the body. This is not to determine salvation, but eternal reward in God’s Presence.

1st Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, forgive me for any division or harm I may have caused Your Body by exalting men or criticizing those in leadership. Give me grace each day to accomplish Your prepared works in a spirit of humility and grace. Help me to build with gold, silver or precious stones!

2nd Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”

Tags : , , , , ,

The ‘depths of God’

Scripture reading for August 26th: 1st Corinthians 2

Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 2:6-11 “Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him”–these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything even the depths of God.”

It has been said that God is a ‘deep subject’! Paul would heartily agree. Paul had just stated that Jesus Christ had become to believers ‘wisdom from God’. (1st Corinthians 1:30) Now he stated that he was going to impart wisdom to the believers who were mature. The wisdom he imparted was a secret and hidden wisdom of God, hidden from carnal man but revealed by God in Christ Jesus and decreed before the ages of time by God for our glory! The rulers of this world system did not comprehend God’s wisdom in Christ or they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory. But God has prepared a place for all who will trust in Christ Jesus in His eternal family and promised them eternal life in abundance! This is revealed to believers by the Father’s Gift: the Holy Spirit Who searches the depths of God and makes available the ‘mind of Christ’!

1st Corinthians 2:12 “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God, that we might understand the things freely give us by God.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for revealing the ‘depths of God’ in wisdom and understanding of spiritual truths through Your precious Gift, the Holy Spirit. Help me to become more mature in comprehending the depths of Your wisdom, love and grace for lost sinners and to proclaim this Good News to those who have not heard.

1st Corinthians 2:15-16 “The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

Tags : , , , , ,

Jesus Christ: the believers wisdom!

Scripture reading for August 25th: 1st Corinthians 1

Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 1:26-31 “For consider you calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of Him, you are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.””

Boasting and pride are a big part of the world system. Even in the church, there are people vying for titles and position and fame. But Paul asked the Corinthian believers to examine their lives first according to worldly standards. Not many of them were wise or powerful or famous. Not many were in positions of nobility. But thankfully God doesn’t judge us according to worldly standards but according to our relationship to His Son, Jesus Christ. In Christ Jesus, we are made wise with God’s wisdom and strong with God’s strength. In Christ Jesus we are set apart (sanctified) fully as a vessel of honor in God house and given the free gift of eternal life and full redemption. We can now boast in what our Lord Jesus has done for us! We are totally indebted to Him!

1st Corinthians 1:4-5 “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge. . . “

Faith confession and prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for becoming my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and full redemption. My nobility comes from a relationship with You alone! Help me today to spread Your fame through the powerful message of the cross to those who have not yet heard and are still caught in a failed world system centered on sin and selfishness and pride.

1st Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Tags : , , , , ,

Seeking the City to Come!

Scripture reading for August 24th: Hebrews 13

Key Scriptures: Hebrews 13:12-16 “So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through His own blood. Therefore let us go to Him outside the camp and bear the reproach He endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His Name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

In closing this letter, the writer of Hebrews uses Jesus as an example for the Jewish believers. Jesus, the Jew, was condemned to die a criminal’s death, outside the gates of Jerusalem, the city of God. The ‘King of the Jews’ suffered death by crucifixion in order to sanctify all people, Jew and Gentile, by bearing their reproach and sins. Jesus Christ arose from the grave and ascended back to heaven, preparing a place in the City of God, the New Jerusalem. He is coming again and will in finality bring the New Jerusalem down from heaven as a dwelling place for His Bride, the Church. In faith, the Church lives a life of worship and service to God. They are looking for the City to come and the return of the Bridegroom for the Bride!

Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give and account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, I recognize that I truly have no city or true home in this world that is hostile to You. I am looking for the City that is to come and the return of Jesus Christ as King of Kings. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and help me to be watchful over my brothers and sisters and to set a godly example of worship and sacrifice. I want to please my Lord and Father!

Hebrews 13:20-21 “Now may the God of Peace Who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Tags : , , , , ,

Roots of bitterness block blessings

Scripture reading for August 23rd: Hebrews 12

Key Scriptures: Hebrews 12:12-17 “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God: that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many are defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.”

God promises to bless His people as they seek Him and obey His Word. Our enemy, the devil, is always seeking to block the blessings. When we join Christ’s Body, the Church, we are to help our brothers and sisters by encouraging them and helping them overcome their weaknesses. The writer of Hebrews likened these weaknesses as “drooping hands” and “weak knees”. These ‘weaknesses’ and ‘lameness’ of walk are often linked with spiritual strongholds in people’s hearts. Resentment, unforgiveness, and fleshly appetites all are like thorns which grow wild in the garden of our hearts and focus us on earthly desires instead of spiritual blessings. They limit the ‘good works’ we might do with our hands and cause ‘drooping hands.’ They ‘lameness’ in our feet so that our walk with the Lord and our brothers and sisters is affected. Weak knees also limit our ability to pray effectively. Esau is a good example of the bad attitudes we should avoid that could cost our inheritance.

Hebrews 12:25 “See that you do not refuse Him Who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused Him Who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject Him Who warns from heaven.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for warning us from heaven through Your Son, Jesus Christ. I received grace from faith in Jesus and healing from my ‘weak knees’ and ‘drooping hands’. Help me and others in Your family to watch and encourage our brothers and sisters to live holy lives and weed out roots of bitterness that hinder our spiritual growth and fruit.

Hebrews 12:10-11 “For they (our parents) disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He (God) disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Tags : , , , , , ,

The City Prepared by God!

Scripture reading for August 20th: Hebrews 11

Key Scriptures: Hebrews 11:13-16 “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.”

The writer of Hebrews appealed to the Jewish believers in Jesus concerning the patriarchs from Adam to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He told how all these had lived here on earth as strangers and exiles, wandering around following God and looking for the City of God. They received the promises of God for a homeland and inheritance, but lived and died only seeing them with eyes of faith. Abel brought God a better sacrifice to find His favor. Enoch walked with God and God simply took him up to Heaven. Noah got on an ark, allowing God to take him and his family to a new land. Abraham left his homeland to go to a land God would show him. All these died in faith looking forward to a better heavenly land. God was pleased with their faith and has the fulfilment of all His promises awaiting those who persevere!

Hebrews 11:35 “Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for Your great and precious promises and the record of those who have lived by faith before us. I am humbled to be included in these promises by faith in Jesus Christ. Help me to live fully by faith and tell others of the great gift of eternal life and the heavenly city prepared for those You loved and sent Jesus to die for.

Hebrews 11:39-40 “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not received what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”

Tags : , , , , ,