Deuteronomy 19, Jeremiah 11, 1 Corinthians 15

Read Deuteronomy 19, Jeremiah 11, and 1 Corinthians 15. This devotional is about 1 Corinthians 15.

As this letter to the Corinthians continued, Paul continued addressing issues he knew of in the church. Here in chapter 15, he addressed the resurrection of Jesus which was denied by some of the believers in Corinth (v. 12). Paul began by reminded the Corinthians that they were saved by the gospel he brought to them (vv. 1-2) and that gospel was the death (v. 3), burial (v. 4a), and resurrection of Christ (v. 4b) along with the eyewitness proof of Christ’s resurrection (vv. 5-7). After a brief digression about his apostleship (vv. 8-11), Paul began taking apart the false doctrine that there is no resurrection (vv. 12-49).

If there is no resurrection than Christ wasn’t raised from the dead and the entire gospel message is a fraud (vv. 12-19). But Christ did rise from the dead and his resurrection is a promissory note of a future hope for us (vv. 20-49). Finally, in verses 50-58, Paul spelled out the future hope we have in Christ because of his resurrection. Death is not a permanent state (v. 51); instead, everyone who died in Christ will be raised again with a glorified body (vv. 52-57). This is our hope. Death is a fearful thing for people but in Christ we are promised deliverance from death through the final resurrection. Christ’s resurrection foreshadows (“the firstfruits,” vv. 20-23) our resurrection.

What good is it to us today to believe in the resurrection? The answer is that it gives us motivation to stand firm in Christ and to invest in his work. Verse 58 says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” The promise of the resurrection is both the promise of eternal life with God and the prospect of future rewards in his kingdom.

Do you ever wonder if it is worth it to follow Christ? Do you ever consider quitting your area of ministry because you feel the results are not there? Most of us have felt that from time to time but this passage urges us to hold fast and keep serving because eternity will be worth it. So don’t quit! Keep following Christ and living for him and you will be glad you did when you reach the final resurrection.

Deuteronomy 17, Jeremiah 9, 1 Corinthians 13

Read Deuteronomy 17, Jeremiah 9, and 1 Corinthians 13 today. This devotional is about 1 Corinthians 13.

The Corinthians had a proud perspective on spiritual gifts. The more powerfully God had gifted someone, the more spiritual that person seemed to be to the Corinthian believers.

Here in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Paul taught that spiritual power is useless without love. It doesn’t matter how elevated your language is through the gift of tongues (v. 1), how prophetic your words are (v. 2), or how sacrificial your giving may be (v.3), without love there is no meaningful spiritual impact from these things.

So what is love?

Instead of defining it, Paul described it. It is patient and kind (v. 4a-b). It does not envy others or call attention to itself (v. 4c-e). It is not defensive (v. 5). All of these things point to one reality–love is a focus on what is good for others.

It is so easy for us to become self-centered, isn’t it? We serve but we are aware of the cost that service extracts from us. We give but we resent the attention someone else gets for using their gifts in the body. We make a contribution but wonder why we don’t get more out of the church. These are all self-centered, unloving thoughts.

If you want your life to count for Jesus, you need to ask him to teach you to love–that is to focus on benefiting others and not think about yourself. The Bible says that love is the fruit of the Spirit. That means it is the result of your growth in grace by the Holy Spirit of God. Again, because pride and self-centeredness come so naturally to us this is something we need to continually ask God’s help for.

Is there anyone in your life that needs love today? Anyone that needs you to serve them instead of being focused on yourself?

Deuteronomy 10, Jeremiah 3, 1 Corinthians 9

Read Deuteronomy 10, Jeremiah 3, 1 Corinthians 9 today. This devotional is about 1 Corinthians 9.

A new chapter greets us here in 1 Corinthians 9 but the topic of this chapter continued from chapter 8. That chapter started the topic generally of Christian liberty. Specifically, the issue was whether it is wrong for Christians to eat meat after it had been sacrificed to idols. Paul continued discussing that topic in this chapter.

Christian liberty is a right. Nobody has the right to forbid a believer from doing something that is not sinful.

But although you have the right to Christian liberty, you aren’t required to exercise that right in any way. Here in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul holds up his own example to illustrate the point.

Like every believer, Paul was free (v. 1a). As an apostle, he had the right to be supported financially so that he could eat and drink and even bring a family along with him, if he had one (vv. 3-5a). Other apostles traveled with their families (v. 5b) and did not work to support themselves financially like Paul and Barnabas did (v. 6).

In verses 7-14 Paul explained why he had these rights as an apostle using everyday examples and biblical examples. Then, in verses 15-23 he told the Corinthians that he did not insist on exercising all these rights because the gospel is the most important thing.

It is through the gospel that people are liberated from sin and its penalties. Liberating people from sin is more important than exercising the liberties we have in Christ. So, if giving up a few rights is beneficial to the gospel, Paul was eager to do that (v. 19).

Now consider again the topic of idol meat. Is that tasty meat and its delicious low price worth compromising the weak faith of another brother or sister in Christ? Is any act of Christian liberty worth that?

Yes, we are free in Christ but we are also servants of Christ for his gospel which he called us to spread anywhere and everywhere. Does the effect of our decisions on the spread of the gospel ever cross our minds? Our words and actions in this life can point others to Christ or they can cause others to recoil from Christ. As we grow in the Lord, the maturity he develops in us should help us to think about our lives and evaluate our decisions this way.

1 Corinthians 16

Read 1 Corinthians 16 today.

This chapter brought this letter to the Corinthians to a conclusion. Paul gave instructions about how to collect the offering he was gathering for the impoverished believers in Jerusalem (vv. 1-4). He described his travel plans (vv. 5-8) and the possibility of visits from Timothy (vv. 10-11) and Apollos (v. 12). He encouraged the church to live according to their faith in Christ (v. 13) and he recommended that the Corinthians treat God’s servants well (vv. 15-16). He commended three men for the financial support they brought him (vv. 17-18) and he wrapped up the letter with some greetings and a fitting conclusion (vv. 19-24).

Tucked within these final thoughts Paul said some things about Timothy (vv. 10-11) and the family of Stephanas (vv. 15-18) that are worthy of our consideration. Regarding Timothy Paul wrote, “No one, then, should treat him with contempt” (v. 11) The reason? “he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am” (v. 10b). Regarding the Stephanas family Paul commanded the church “to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it” (v. 16). The reason they should submit is “they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people.”

We know that the Corinthian church played favorites among the Lord’s servants because Paul addressed that favoritism in chapters 1-2. This kind of partisanship extended to other servants of the Lord. Given what we know about Timothy from the New Testament, can you imaging treating him “with contempt” (v. 11)? Yet that seemed to be a real potential threat. Likewise, the family of Stephanas devoted themselves to serving God’s people but Paul was concerned that the Corinthians might not submit to them.

Unfortunately, the Corinthians were not the only Christians to mistreat servants of the Lord that they viewed as “junior league” or “less than” Paul and Apollos. Some church people won’t accept ministry or instruction from the elders of their church or from staff members; they want to hear from the senior pastor only. This passage addresses that kind of attitude. All of us are servants of Christ and should be treated that way. If you decide to try another church because your pastor isn’t preaching on a particular Sunday, is that not treating God’s servant “with contempt”? If your elder contacts you and you don’t return the call or an email, is that an appropriate way to treat the Lord’s servant?

There’s nothing wrong with appreciating someone highly who is serving the Lord but there is everything wrong with elevating that person beyond the role of servant of the Lord. Check your heart and determine to treat all of God’s servants with the appropriate level of respect and submission.

1 Corinthians 15

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 15.

As this letter to the Corinthians continued, Paul continued addressing issues he knew of in the church in Corinth. Here in chapter 15, he addressed the resurrection of Jesus which was denied by some of the believers in Corinth (v. 12). Paul began by reminded the Corinthians that they were saved by the gospel he brought to them (vv. 1-2) and that gospel was the death (v. 3), burial (v. 4a), and resurrection of Christ (v. 4b) along with the eyewitness proof of Christ’s resurrection (vv. 5-7). After a brief digression about his apostleship (vv. 8-11), Paul began taking apart the false doctrine that there is no resurrection (vv. 12-49).

If there is no resurrection than Christ wasn’t raised from the dead and the entire gospel message is a fraud (vv. 12-19). But Christ did rise from the dead and his resurrection is a promissory note of a future hope for us (vv. 20-49). Finally, in verses 50-58, Paul spelled out the future hope we have in Christ because of his resurrection. Death is not a permanent state (v. 51); instead, everyone who died in Christ will be raised again with a glorified body (vv. 52-57). This is our hope. Death is a fearful thing for people but in Christ we are promised deliverance from death through the final resurrection. Christ’s resurrection foreshadows (“the firstfruits,” vv. 20-23) our resurrection.

What good is it to us today to believe in the resurrection? The answer is that it gives us motivation to stand firm in Christ and to invest in his work. Verse 58 says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” The promise of the resurrection is both the promise of eternal life with God and the prospect of future rewards in his kingdom.

Do you ever wonder if it is worth it to follow Christ? Do you ever consider quitting your area of ministry because you feel the results are not there? Most of us have felt that from time to time but this passage urges us to hold fast and keep serving because eternity will be worth it. So don’t quit! Keep following Christ and living for him and you will be glad you did when you reach the final resurrection.

1 Corinthians 14

Keeping up with the daily reading schedule? Great! Read 1 Corinthians 14 today.

Paul continued writing about miraculous gifts in this chapter and he recommended the gift of prophecy over the gift of tongues (vv. 1-25). Paul made several points in this chapter to try to correct the errors of the Corinthians:

  1. Tongues in a church’s gathering are useless (v 6: “what good will I be?” and v. 28). They do not edify other believers (vv. 1-12) and they make unbelievers think that you are insane (v. 24).
  2. Interpreted tongues are useful (vv. 13-17) so pray for that gift if you find yourself speaking in tongues.
  3. Tongues are given to benefit unbelievers not believers (vv. 10-11, 21-22a). The benefit Paul has in mind here is the benefit of hearing the gospel in one’s own language with out a translator (v. 21). Since the Corinthians all shared a common language, there was no need for anyone to speak in tongues, particularly if there were no interpreter. So the Corinthians shouldn’t seek the gift of tongues or elevate it to the ultimate expression of spirituality.
  4. The gift of prophecy edifies believers (vv. 3-5, 19) and it convicts unbelievers (vv. 22-25), so it is a superior spiritual gift to tongues.

There are two larger principles in this passage beyond speaking in tongues and prophecy:

  1. The goal of church gatherings is to edify believers primarily (vv. 5, 12, 19, 26c) and secondarily to convict unbelievers (vv. 24-25).
  2. Church gatherings should be done in an orderly way (vv. 26-40). Chaos does not please the Lord (v. 33).

These two principles should guide anyone leading a church and planning a worship service. They should inform you if you find yourself looking for a church someday. The second of these two principles is drawn from a basic principle about God’s nature: “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (v. 33a). As followers of Christ, we should seek order in our everyday lives as well. Is there chaos somewhere in your life? What is one action today that could move you a step closer to peace and order in that area?

1 Corinthians 13

Today we’re reading 1 Corinthians 13.

This famous chapter of scripture is part of Paul’s teaching on spiritual gifts which began back in chapter 12.

The Corinthians had a proud perspective on spiritual gifts. The more powerfully God had gifted someone, the more spiritual that person seemed to be. Here in verses 1-3, Paul taught that spiritual power is useless without love. It doesn’t matter how elevated your language is through the gift of tongues, how prophetic your words are or how sacrificial your giving may be, without love there is no meaningful spiritual impact

So what is love? Instead of defining it, Paul described it. It is patient and kind. It does not envy others or call attention to itself. It is not defensive. All of these things point to one reality–love is a focus on what is good for others.

It is so easy for us to become self-centered, isn’t it? We serve but we are aware of the cost that service extracts from us. We give but we resent the attention someone else gets for using their gifts in the body. We make a contribution but wonder why we don’t get more out of the church. These are all self-centered, unloving thoughts.

If you want your life to count for Jesus, you need to ask him to teach you to love–that is to focus on benefiting others and not think about yourself. The Bible says that love is the fruit of the Spirit; that means it is the result of your growth in grace by the spirit of God. Again, because pride and self-centeredness come so naturally to us this is something we need to continually ask God’s help for.