The apostle Paul recognized that everything he did that mattered was done by God’s empowerment; he said in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “by the grace of God I am what I am.” It knew it was God’s ability working in him but Paul also understood that he had to work in that ability. He went on to say, “His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all.” The only way things get done on earth is as we cooperate with what God is doing and work what He is working. The things we do, or don’t do have very real eternal repercussions. With this in mind, he said in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Wow, its December already and only one month left to go; time has gone fast!
The first part of 1 Corinthians 12:26 says, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.” We (plural) are the body of Christ and we are one. If the church was just a social club or a meeting place then 1 Cor. 12:26 wouldn't be true. God has placed His Spirit in us (plural) and gifted and empowered us in different ways. When one person suffers, the whole body is suffering; we need to always see things with this truth. The verse goes on to say, “if one member is honored, all the members rejoice.” When we see ourselves as one, we can rejoice in another member’s victory as easily as we do our own.
He says in 1 Corinthians 12:31, “But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” Take a close look at the words, “and yet I show you a more excellent way;” to only “earnestly desire the best gifts” is in direct disagreement to the verse. It’s not that we don’t want the gifts of the Spirit; we should desire them, but desire them out of love for others. The gifts are not to be seen or to validate us; they are given to the body of Christ because God wants us blessed to be a blessing. When we are truly operating in God’s love, we don’t care who the gifts come through; we just want the gifts to operate that people will be helped, healed, saved and delivered. Paul clarifies the point further in 1 Corinthians 14:1 saying, “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts,” and in verse 12 he says, “since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 gives us a great promise: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Everything we face in life is “common to man;” the details will be different, but the core “temptations” are the same. God, in His faithfulness, will make a “way of escape;” it’s a way to “be able to bear it.” When trials and temptations come we need to make sure we are seeking Him for His wisdom. Then we will handle things His way and we’ll be able to stand up to what life brings us. We can’t go through life haphazardly and then blame God for the mess we get into and for the mistakes we make. If you are in a mess today because of bad choices, God is merciful and will save the one who calls on Him for help and wants to do things His way.
In chapter 5, Paul addresses a situation where a man is living in continued sexual immorality. He is shocked that that the church is continuing on like nothing is happening. He tells them to yield this person over to Satan; in other words, to dismiss this person from the church in hopes that they will repent. When a person is living in sin, we shouldn’t pray that they would be blessed, happy and comfortable. When someone refuses to repent and are continuing to willfully walk in sin, we hope that dismissal from church fellowship eventually brings them back to Christ. He clarifies this point more in verse 11 by saying, “I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.” This is righteous judgment that the church should participate in; judgment out of love and not pride.
Often Christians seem to focus on the same things the world does. They may not be wrong things, and they are things that should be pursued with God’s wisdom, but let’s remember that this life is a vapor that is passing away. Paul says to the church in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 “…the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.” It’s foolish to focus all our attention on decisions that only affect the few years we are a part of this age and not focus on the decisions that affect eternity. If our priority is on only having a happy marriage and the “American dream,” we will be deceived.
God in His wisdom made it impossible for man to reach Him in their own pursuit of wisdom. 1 Corinthians 1:21 says, “since in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” All of us that come to Christ are forced to humble ourselves and put our faith in the cross of Christ alone; we didn’t come to God by attaining wisdom and special knowledge. New Age and many other religions acknowledge Christ, but it’s not the true Christ since they don’t come to Him by the cross alone. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The Gospel is so beautiful; I had no power to save myself, and I had nothing to even contribute in the process; God did it all by sending Jesus Christ His Son. In every religion, people try to achieve something through their works and wisdom, but in Christ, we must come to the end ourselves and say “I can do nothing to save myself, but I will believe in the complete and fulfilled work of Christ.”
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan