Monday, August 31, 2009

September 1, Tuesday Devotion

1 Corinthians 7:25-28

25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. 27 Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

Quick Notes

Paul makes it clear that these few verses are his opinion and not from God. Basically, if you are unmarried, awesome; if you are married, awesome! Don't do anything to change that. This should be encouragement that neither being single nor being married is better for you. Marriage is a wonderful thing, but so is not having the commitments necessary to have a good marriage. So, don't feel pressured into being in romantic relationships one way or the other. Neither is better.

Quick Questions

What are the benefits to being single? What are the benefits to being married?

Quick Prayer

Lord, thank you for loving me whether I'm married or single. Amen.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Monday Devotion, August 31

1 Corinthians 7:17-24

17 Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18 Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20 Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. 21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.

Quick Notes

It's funny how we spend most of our lives trying to become something other than what we are. Of course, we become what we are by what we did, so we have a weird cycle going. Each one of us was bought with a price. For some, that price frees us from the slavery of brokenness and sin. For others, that price enslaves us from the reckless freedom that we have abused way too much. You have the ability and capability of doing your part in the Kingdom of God right where you are right where you are right now.

Quick Questions

Do you feel like you are a freedman or slave, currently? Which have you become since recognizing that you have been bought by Christ?
Quick Prayer

Jesus, thank you for freeing me to be your slave. Amen.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sunday Devotion, August 30

1 Corinthians 7:12-16

12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

Quick Notes

There was a time when people thought that if they believed but their spouse did not, they could be free to marry whoever. But Paul questions this and tells us how God might use us to reach our unbelieving spouse.

Quick Questions

Which do you think is easier: loving someone to Christ or to avoid them altogether? Why your answer?

Quick Prayer

Almighty God, by your grace, even the people around me will get saved. Amen.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Saturday Devotion, August 29

1 Corinthians 7:10-11

10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

Quick Notes

Most of us have been greatly affected by divorce in some way. It has become a sticky subject as our emotions get the better of us and rational behavior becomes less. The investment of sharing a life with someone to the point that we become one in flesh hurts deeply when we sever what was bound together. Though I sincerely believe that we serve a God who is bigger than our mistakes... even divorce, we need to do everything we can to love our spouses.

Quick Questions

Whose divorce has affected you the most? Does it make you uncomfortable talking about divorce? Why or why not?

Quick Prayer

Christ Jesus, help me stay connected to the people I love. Let me love them with thoughtful regard. Amen.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Friday Devotion, August 28

1 Corinthians 7:8-9

8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Quick Notes

We live in a society that looks down on single people and put pressure on them to marry, but Paul says differently in his opinion. I think we see the beauty of marriage and it is natural to want to be in a committed, loving relationship with people. But we need to realize that it is possible to have committed, loving relationships that do not involve sex. Jesus has a disciple in John called the "beloved disciple" or "the disciple whom Jesus loved." David and Jonathan were known to have a great intimacy between each other. There is no shame in being single. Let me repeat that: THERE IS NO SHAME IN BEING SINGLE!!! But it is also okay to marry.

Quick Questions

Do you treat singles as being unfulfilled because they are not married? What about your church? Do you hear a lot of people talking about not getting married as a bad thing? Is it bad to not be married? Why or why not?

Quick Prayer

O God, I don't always know about the human relationship thing, but let me be apart of the church, the bride of Christ for your glory. Amen.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thursday Devotion, August 27

1 Corinthians 7:1-7

7 Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. 2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

Quick Notes

The Corinthians had a lot of questions about sex and marriage as we see in verse 1. Paul is not a big fan of marriage as the bonds of marriage make the spouse a very high priority for the other spouse, to a point that takes away from serving God. At the same time, because so many people were having sex outside the boundaries of marriage, Paul would rather people be married and not become impure than not marry and fall into sin. But make no mistake, marriage can hinder following God.

Quick Questions

Which do you think would allow you to serve God better: being married or being single? Why or why not?

Quick Prayer

O Lord, whatever my relationship plans may be, grace me with devotion to you. Amen.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wednesday Devotion, August 26

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

12 Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Quick Notes

Though verse 12 can be applied to many things, it is talking about allowing our bodies to be used in unhealthy sexual ways. Christ has redeemed us from our old selves, and even if we have made mistakes with sexual purity, he can still redeem us. The thing is, why would you want to purposely desecrate the beautiful temple that God created as your body? The Holy Spirit lives within you. Temples are beautiful buildings made for worship and purity, and by grace you are one who receives this blessing. God cares about you and your body.

Quick Questions

Do you think it is easy to flee from sexual immorality? Why or why not?

Quick Prayer

Lord Jesus, consecrate my body as your temple. Amen.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tuesday Devotion, August 24

1 Corinthians 6:1-11

6 If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church!a 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!

7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.

9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Quick Notes

We live in a sue first culture. In many ways, we are encouraged to sue instead of find ways to offer forgiveness and restoration. We hate the how it feels to be wronged and cheated. We want revenge. We want blood. But the way of Christ is the way of forgiveness. We have several opportunities to hold grudges against others, but because of the holy washing we received by Christ, we are to offer forgiveness, not revenge. This is possibly one of the hardest things for us to do, but it is the right thing to do.

Quick Questions

Have you ever wanted someone to pay for how they have treated you? Have you ever sought revenge? Have you ever prayed for the one who has wronged you? Have you offered them love and forgiveness and Jesus to them?

Quick Prayer

Lord, how quickly I forget that you forgave me in my bleakest moment whenever I want others to suffer. Let me live as the forgiven so I can forgive. Amen.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Monday Devotion, August 24

1 Corinthians 5:1-13

5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? 3 Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. 4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

Quick Notes

Paul tells us some things in this passage that are a bit disturbing. We are told of a situation that is pretty nasty and that the church should hand him over to Satan. Apparently it is better to be kicked out of church and live in sin than to live in sin under the guise of being right with God. The next thing that is a bit disturbing is vv 12-13. We are told not to pass judgment on those outside of the church, but there is a responsibility to respond to holiness with obedience that sometimes means we have to ask people to exit our fellowship. This does not mean that everytime we disagree with someone we can excommunicate or kick them out. We also have a responsibility to lift each other up. A lot of stuff to think through and it is rarely cut and dried.

Quick Questions

Do you think you know when it is okay to pass judgment on someone? Is Paul right? What do you think? If you do disagree with Paul, how do you read this passage?
Quick Prayer

Jesus, continue to transform me into your likeness. May your grace flow through me. Amen.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sunday Devotion, August 23

1 Corinthians 4:14-21

14 I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. 15 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?

Quick Notes

Paul calls the Corinthians his children. He is their father in the faith, but there are others who are guardians, or those who keep the children on the right path. Guardians use objects such as sticks and whips to keep the children going in the right direction. And though there seems to be thousands or guardians, Paul encourages them to imitate him as he possesses love and a gentle spirit as opposed to a whip. Humanity uses the power of violence to accomplish their will. God, in his kingdom, uses the power of love.

Quick Questions

Which motivates you to serve Christ more: the violence and threats of those around you OR the love and gentle spirit of those around you? Which power do you use to "encourage" right living?

Quick Prayer

Almighty God, your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Amen.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Saturday Devotion, August 22

1 Corinthians 4:8-13

8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

Quick Notes

Don't ever say that the Bible does not have doses of sarcasm, because this passage above is dripping. Paul compares the "wise" Corinthians to the foolish apostles. The foolish apostles refuse to return evil to evil even to the point where they are hungry and thirsty whereas the Corinthians do not suffer these evils because they are "wise" enough to avoid them. Over and over we find there are marks on those who follow Christ. The Corinthians are still learning how to be fools.

Quick Questions

Are you trying to become a fool for Christ and marking yourself for sufferings or are you wise in Christ and no one other than other Christians know it?

Quick Prayer

Christ Jesus, make me your fool. Amen.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Friday Devotion, August 21

1 Corinthians 4:6-7

6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Quick Notes

Dying. To ourselves, we need to die daily. If we do not, we will have pride. Pride is a devastating thing. If we are not careful, pride can destroy any and all while leaving nothing but dust to rebuild. Our foundation is Christ. Everything we have is something we receive and not because of our own works. Die. Die to yourself so that pride does not destroy you and those around you.

Quick Questions

Have you ever let your pride or ego break a relationship you were in? Do you feel like you deserve better than someone else based on past accomplishments? How often do you die to yourself?

Quick Prayer

O God, you have called me and bid me to die to myself so that Christ can raise me from the dead. May this resurrection be fruitful. Amen.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Thursday Devotion, August 20

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

4 So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

Quick Notes

We have a very awesome mission. As servants of Christ we are entrusted with God's secret things. Because we are trusted at that level, we have a responsibility to manage these things faithfully. While this world looks to wisdom, we have the secret of Christ crucified, and we have the opportunity of serving as Christ served and living our lives in submission to others that Christ might be glorified. If we are faithful in this, we will receive our due in due time.

Quick Questions

How does it feel to be entrusted with the secret things of God? Do you think you are faithfully managing these things? Why or why not?

Quick Prayer

O Lord, it is by your grace and mercy that I can serve you and others. May your light shine through me into the dark areas that I inhabit that you may be glorified. Amen.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wednesday Devotions, August 19

1 Corinthians 3:18-23

18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

Quick Notes

We need to be careful that Paul is not saying that wisdom is foolishness, but that thinking we are wise by the world's or culture's standards is foolishness. God created the world through wisdom, so to that wisdom is foolish is saying that God is foolish. In the same way that the cross is foolish to the world, what the world finds wise is foolish to God. We find our wisdom in Christ, and Christ is of God.

Quick Questions

Who do you consider to be wise? Why do you consider them wise? Would their wisdom be considered foolishness to God? Why or why not?

Quick Prayer

Lord Jesus, please be the wisdom that I seek. Amen.

Tuesday Devotion, August 18

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

Quick Notes

What an amazing concept. The Spirit of God lives, dwell, in us. That means everything we do, we are magnifying the presence of God. When others see us, they see the place that God dwells. We can be the safe place that others need to get right with God.

Quick Questions

Does thinking of yourself as God's place to live change how you live? Why or why not?

Quick Prayer

Lord, may I be a safe place for those who need to draw closer to you. Amen.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Monday Devotion, August 17

1 Corinthians 3:10-15

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

Quick Notes

Our lives can always be summed up as everything we have done and everything that has been done to us. At the end, we will be judged for everything we have done. No matter what we have done, we will either be refined or destroyed by fire.

Quick Questions

What have you built your life with? After the fire of judgment, will you be refined or destroyed?
Quick Prayer

Jesus, refine me with your fires of judgment. Amen.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sunday Devotion, August 16

1 Corinthians 3:5-9

5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Quick Notes

Because we are told to serve in various areas, we sometimes forget it is by God's grace that anything significant actually happens. Though the teacher may teach and the preacher preach, it is through God's prevenient grace that the Spirit moves. This does not mean we do not work or serve, but that the results come from God, not us. This is hard as we live in a world where we are judged by results and have lists to help us reach those results quickly. Find comfort that it is God that makes things grow.

Quick Questions

How many times have you, metaphorically speaking, tried to make a plant grow?

Quick Prayer

Almighty God, help me to stop trying to grow plants and trust you. Amen.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Saturday Devotion, August 15

1 Corinthians 3:1-4

3 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?

Quick Notes

I am part of a great community of faith that reminds me frequently that we come together to worship Jesus and not leadership. Every once in a while we can get caught up in following this leader or that one instead of just simply following Christ.

Quick Questions

Have you ever focused on things other than Jesus when you have gone to worship?

Quick Prayer

Christ Jesus, it is all about you. Amen.