1 Corinthians 1:1-9
In these opening verses, it's the depth and breadth of Jesus' power and grace jump out at me.
- Every Place - v. 2 indicates the far reach of the gospel. Paul's intorduction reminds the Corinthians, and it reminds us, that what we are part of is much bigger than me and Generations and even Norcross. There are people all over the world that we are joined to by faith, who we belong to by faith, and share the same hope and inheritance with us by faith. It never stops boggling my mind that I am connected to the history of the Church and the ongoing reality of the Church, and that millions of people are believing and proclaiming this message and partnering with us in this mission. This is a glorious and beautiful reality that has captured our hearts.
Question: Who can you pray for today that is a one of your brothers or sisters living in another place, far from here?
- Every Way - v. 5 tells us that the Grace of God poured out on us in Jesus enriches us "in every way." In other words, the reality of Jesus changes everything. There is not 1 area of life that Jesus leaves untouched. When he comes to make a person new, he comes to make the whole person new.
Question: Is there any area of your life that you protecting from Jesus' influence?
Guiltless - v. 8 Paul tells us we are guiltless. Let that sink in. Don't tread over that fast or frivolously. Let that marinate. I am not sinless. I wake up struggling against sin. There are few days I can get through carpool for the kids' school without sinning. And yet, in the gospel, because of Jesus... guiltless. My guilt, past, present and future has been erased. That's ridiculous. It's stupid. How could I not love this Jesus who has cleansed my every stain.
Fellowship of his Son - v. 9 just quite simply tells us that our shared identity and life is a fellowship established by Jesus, for Jesus, and through Jesus. We are a Jesus people.
Prayer: Having identified an area you are trying to keep Jesus out of, repent and believe the gospel. Receive the cleansing he offers. Rejoice in his grace, the removal of your guilt and the inclusion in his new humanity. Surrender what you've withheld and commit yourself anew to living as Jesus people live.
v. 2 - Do you love wisdom?
v. 9 - There are 5 different words in Hebrew translated as "fool" in english. In other words, 5 different types of fools. This type of fool is one who doesn't take much seriously. They are the kind that have a loose tongue and like to stir up controversy and strife and say whatever comes to mind. They aren't interested undertanding or learning. They just want to get reactions. So, there are 2 question here: Are you given to arguments with this type of fool? Are you this type of fool?
v. 11 - This one hits too close to home for me to even think about how someone else should respond to it. This is a different kind of fool than the one mentioned above. Where the one in v. 9 is more impulsive and immature, this one is more rebellious. Where the one above lacks self-control, this fool wants to assert control. This is personally convicting for me because I tend to vent my anger. Maybe not full vent, but that's my bent. I need to grow in the wisdom of quietly holding back. I voice a lot of my thoughts that should be kept to myself, sometimes, and grievously, I even do it in the name of being "authentic." The reality is that I need to authentically shut up. I have a lot of repenting to do in this area.
1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Paul is establishing a key theme in this letter within these verses. It's the theme of division within the Corinthian church. And thank God, because every local church before than and since has had been threatened by divisions. Generations faces that threat. Unity is difficult to establish and easy to erode. We must pray for and labor for it diligently, and should we gain unity by God's mercy, we must guard it and protect it vigilantly.
The health of a church community is determined by the health of relationships between members of the community. Unity is what Jesus prayed for before going to the cross and it's Paul says is the mark of a church that's centered on the cross. We talk about being a First Concern church and that means unifying around matters of first importance, which is what Paul is urging here.
Question: Are you contributing to any divisions between brothers and sisters in Christ? Bitterness? Gossip? Slander? Taking Offense? Avoiding? Criticizing? Ask the HOly Spirit to show you if you are a unifying force within the church, or useful tool in the hands of the enemy to bring division within the church. This is a critical aspect of Generations for which we all bear some responsibility.
There is plenty of Wisdom in this chapter but not much on the theme of wisdom. Pick a verse you like and which jumps out to you. Find a nugget of wisdom on your own here.
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
I love this passage. Paul articulates the upside down, paradoxical nature of the gospel and the Kingdom of God. Jesus has flipped everything on it's head. Like Jews seeking signs, and Greeks seeking wisdom, people in our own time are seeking things in the church and outside the church. Some seek science. Some seek affirmation. Some seek tolerance and inclusion. Some seek knowledge and education. Some seek success. Some are seeking therapy and self-help. Some seek comfort and ease. Some seek connection. Some seek pleasure. Some seek personal freedom and sexual liberty. But true Christianity is about Christ and Him crucified.
Real Christianity relinquishes our demands for intellectual satisfaction for the greater reality of peace with God, recognizing that we're contrarian by nature. Real Christianity relents on the pursuit affirmation from the world, recognizing the fickle nature of people's applause and the rest we find in the approval of God through Jesus. I could go on, but let's just land here for the day... What has been your biggest struggle with faith? What is it you just come back to again and again feeling it is unreconciled?
What if you could hold on to those questions, keep wrestling, keep seeking answers from God, but settled this one thing... Christ and his Cross are the non-negotiable in your life. You can have doubts and struggles, but you will approach them with the settled conviction that Jesus is wisdom from God and believe in the gospel gives open access to the wisdom of God.
From v. 1-9:
Our lives are chaotic and filled with activity and noise. We are making choices all day every day about the kind of people we will be, the kind of relationships we will build and so forth. Three times in v. 2, the writer asks "What are you doing?" The repition here jumps off at me. One of our greatest enemies is being too busy and too distacted to consider our choices, our actions, our motives, and our lives, before God. We just keep going. An important part of wisdom and discipleship is learning to withdraw, to get quiet, to priotize solitude and silence, to be alone with our thoughts so we can bring them before God.
What are the most important decisions you are facing at work right now? What about at home? What about in relationships? Stop and thinking about that. How have you gotten where you are? What are you doing? What are you doing? What on earth are you doing? Don't just live without prayerful reflection and hope for the best... it will go badly.
From v. 10-31:
Ladies, are you this kind of woman? If you feel inadquate, are you growing into this, and moving toward this? When you see this description who do you think of? Who can you help grow in this direction? Who can you learn from who can mentor you toward this? What step can you do this week to move in this direction?
Men, do you have a woman like this? Are you looking for a woman like this? Where do you see your wife embodying this type of woman? Even if it's only in small ways, how can you encourage and affirm your wife in her godliness? How can you help her feel successful and valued and appreciated?
1 Corinthians 1:26-2:5 There is some similar themes from yesterdays passage that continue to run this text. A couple things the Holy Spirit highlighted to me here:
From v. 26 - "Not many of you were wise..." I guess some of us have a natural pedigree and impressiveness that lends itself to thinking we deserve the best of what God has to offer. But mostly, I think we feel our frailty and inadequacy. I do. I feel my weakness profoundly. I love that Paul puts that in the category of what's useful to God's plans. My inadequacy doesn't ruin God's plans. My inadequacy actually is within the scope of God's plans and creates the context for what he loves to do and be involved in. That's encouraging.
v. 30 and v. 2 - Jesus became for us wisdom from God, and rightousness and sanctification and redemption... and Paul has resolved to know nothing except Christ and him crucified. It's all about Jesus. He's the embodiment of all God's wisdom, all God's righteousness... the means of God's transformation in our life, and means of our redemption. There is a singularity of focus and emphasis reflected here. This goes back to being a Jesus people from yesterday... he is the means of our salvation, the means of our sanctification, and the whole point of both. May our lives be filled with a growing Christ-counsciousness, an awareness of his presence and worth at all times.
v.3-5 - This is just something I'm longing for... to see and experience more of what falls in the category of thepower of God. I'm not sure exactly what Paul saw happen and what he had in mind here, but it sounds like it was obvious. I want to be useful to the Lord but I don't to rely on the persuasiveness of my words and efforts. I am longing to see the power of God move in me and through me and among us in ways that are obviously him and not us. That's where faith is directed... the power of the Spirit to do what only God can do.
Proverbs 1 (Fear of the Lord)
v. 7 - "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." One of the drifts of our church culture is toward this "Jesus is my homeboy" form of Christianity, that dilutes a healthy fear of the Lord. This proverb reminds me that while Jesus is a friend to sinners, he is not my peer. We are not equals. I need to recover and maintain, and we must maintain a sense of God's Awesomeness. When people like Moses and Isaiah came into the presence of God in these unique experiences; even when angels appear in the Scriptures to mena nd women; the reaction is not a friendly nod and fist bump. It's fear. Reverance. Awe. Wonder. A sense of smallness and vulnerability. We need live in terror of what God might do to us as His adopted children, but we ought to live with a sense of taking him seriously.
v. 29 - The Fear of the Lord is something we choose. I can choose to hold the Lord in low regard or disregard, or I can choose to esteem him far above all other things. That's a choice I make, not just by what I profess, but by how I live.
Question: Are your choices reflecting God's authority and Lordship, or do are you making choices that reflect your own Lordship over your life?
1 Corinthians 2:6-16
v. 16 says that "we have the mind of Christ." Some of Paul's thoughts here seem lofty and ethereal, and I can get bogged down in some of them... starting with that last sentance in v. 16, and working backwards from there just helps me make sense of this.
Romans 1 tells us that God provides plenty of evidence for his existence through creation. There are aspects of his nature and character that are clearly seen "through that which has been made." And that's a letter from Paul too. It's as if he's saying that the existence of God is self-evident, even to the natural mind, but in this passage he is saying the reality of the gospel is a mystery hidden from ages past, revealed and understood only by the Spirit.
Essentially, you can't really understand and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ without the Holy Spirit causing that, nor can I have any insight for life in Christ which has not been revealed.
Because I have two natures now - The new nature given by the Spirit, to trust and obey God, and the old nature, the flesh, that resists the things of God. Hese natures are warring for how I understand and making sense of life and reality. This is really a text about worldview.
Question: Are you so immersed in the world that your values, patterns of living and way of thinking resembles resembles the broader culture? Or are you so immersed in the world of Scriptures, and renewed by the Spirit that your pattern of life and way of thinking makes you a stranger in the world?
Pray today that the SPirit would show you ways your thoughts and values and affections are shaped by worldly influences. As he reveals, be willing to repent and take steps to reorient according to the Spirit.
v. 1-5 - This totally makes sense with the idea of "choosing" the fear of the Lord which we covered yesterday. v. 5 says you will understand the fear of the Lord after doing what v. 1-4 say... hear instruction, be attentive, ask for insight, search for wisdom, ascribe value to these things, and then... We choose to fear the Lord before we understand the fear of the Lord. If you feel like the fear of the Lord is some lofty idea you can't connect with or makes sense of, it seems Solomon is suggesting we concede that God is far above us and worth fearing and submitting to. And as you choose to value his word and wisdom, as we choose to "fear" him, things we've never understood wills tart to make sense. These seemingly elsuive ideas or truths will begin to crystalize in our hearts so that they are easier to internalize.
v. 7 - "fear the Lord and shun evil." Fearing the Lord will lead us to resist evil. Conversely, if we do not choose to fear the Lord, we open ourselves to evil in a different way. It's the fear of the Lord that causes us to take sin and it's effects seriously, and without that, the enticements of sin are likely to have more pull on our hearts.
v. 24-25 - These two verses remind me that it's not "fear of the Lord" or fear of nothing. You will fear something. If it's not God, than you fear rejection, consequences, exposure, failure, etc. Fear of the Lord frees us from the fear of these other things and brings us peace. We will feel and walk with debilitating insecurities and fears if we don't fear the Lord. There will be a restlessness in our hearts if we live with a disregard for him.
There is nothing here directly speaking to the Fear of the Lord, but v. 26 jumps out at me. "Ponder the path of your feet, then all your ways will be sure." Wisdom and fear of the Lord do produce an intentionality in us. We stop living on impulse, and start thinking and considering decisions and consequences. Ask the Holy Spirit to amek you aware and mindful of every choice you make today. Ask Him to help you think about your steps today rather than just reacting to life emotionally and instinctively.