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1 Corinthians


Contents


1st June 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 16

A prayer and an action list for a Monday morning (from 1 Corinthians 16.13-14)

Keep watch

Stand firm in the faith

Be courageous

Be strong

Do everything in love

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray for those within our church family who work. Pray that what they know of Jesus Christ would transform their work. Pray that we may work with respect for those over us, and under us. Pray that we would work with all our heart, as those who serve the Lord.


31st May 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 15

1 Corinthians 15.1-8 brings good news of four historical moments that shape every moment since, for every one of us.

1 Corinthians 15.3 ‘Christ died for your sins according to the scriptures’

The Jewish people were expecting Christ to come as a conquering king. What a scandal to find that the Christ was crucified - that he shed his blood for his enemies. The death of Christ brings forgiveness of sins. How precious that news remains for the moments in life we wish we could take back.

1 Corinthians 15.4 ‘He was buried’

That is the simple news ofChristianity. It was a literal death - complete. The moment of burial is the moment of goodbye. It is the moment when there is nothing more to say...and yet there is!

1 Cor 15.4 ‘He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures’

Here is a weekend like no other:

Before sunset Friday Jesus breathes his last (Day 1).

He is brought down off the cross and laid in the tomb – sunset Friday to sunset Saturday (Day 2).

Yet, sometime before the women reach the tomb early Sunday morning, death starts to work backwards.

God raises his Son back to life, forever!

1 Corinthians 15.5-8 and now he appears, to many.

The book of Acts tells us that there was a 40 day period between Christ’s death and ascension to heaven. He appeared on many occasions to many people.

The news of the resurrection is based on evidence that demands careful investigation.

It is news that we can be forgiven. Unless we know how holy God is and how sinful we are, we will not grasp how timely that news is. There is no worse place to be than stuck in your sins in your last hour. There is no better news than this: because of Jesus’ resurrection we can be forgiven, forever.

It is the news that we can trust God’s promises. Because Jesus rose, because God did as he promised, where it matters most, with death, we at last have someone who is completely trustworthy. In him our trust is vindicated, even in the face of death, both his and indeed ours.

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray that Christians would maintain a regular time with the Lord - in Bible reading and prayer. That this would be a regular part of our new routines.


30th May 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 14

1 Corinthians 14 describes what a spiritual church looks like. It is filled with those who are increasingly asking of others (as they gather with the church) how can I be of benefit to you?

1 Corinthians 14.3-4 describes the gift of prophecy which we can use to build each other up. The gift of prophecy is not about telling the future, it is about speaking intelligible words to build up the church. It is about bringing the word of God to bear on the life of others in our church family (it is what we do when we gather as Small Groups, for example).

in 1 Corinthians 14.3 we see 3 aims we should have as we speak God's word in such contexts:

A word I bring to the gathering to strengthen others – leaving them more sure in their faith and walk with Jesus…


A word of encouragement - a word that makes the heart of another brave for Christ, to live courageously for him in their context. what gift to bring another, a word that makes them brave!


A word of comfort - a word that meets the person where they’re at with the gospel. A word that meets the downhearted, the grieving, the frustrated, the hopeless, the lonely, the exhausted, the unwell, the suffering. It meets them not with some glib greeting card wisdom, but the mighty grace of the Lord Jesus.

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray for those who live alone. That especially at this time others would reach out to them.


29th May 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 13

This chapter comes in the middle 3 chapters (12-14) on how to serve each other in the church with the gifts God gives. Here we are told that the most excellent way to serve is by serving with love. The chapter paints a spectacular definition of love, that in the end is a description of who Jesus is. Here is Don Carson's take on it:

It may be difficult to provide a perfect definition of Christian love. But it is not difficult to find its extreme example. Christ's love for us is not grounded in our loveliness, but in his own character. His love is not merely sentimental, yet it is charged with incalculable affection and warmth. It is resolute in its self sacrifice, but never merely mechanical self-discipline. If we wish to come to terms with the apostolic definition of Christian love as 'the most excellent way'; that all believers must follow, we need only imitate Jesus Christ.

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray for the World Health Organisation - which has come under increasing criticism for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis.


28th May 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 12

What is the distinctive sign that the Spirit of God is powerfully at work in someone's life or the life of a church?

Perhaps a church that is growing numerically?

Perhaps someone who is diligent and rigorous in the scriptures?

Perhaps someone who has dramatic spiritual experiences? Tongues? Healing? Prophecy?

Perhaps someone who has developed spiritual habits?

But 1 Corinthians 12.3 says that the decisive evidence of the Spirit powerfully at work in a person's life is that they declare that Jesus Christ is Lord!

The central and most powerful work of the Spirit is to shows us Jesus for who he is. The spirit moves our hearts to say what was I thinking that this world, this church, was about my significance! In the great theatre of the universe neither you or I are on centre stage, though we keep putting ourselves there.

Jesus is Lord, he is at the centre! For he is...

The alpha and omega…

The beginning and the end…

The first and last…

The bread of life…

Our creator…our deliverer…our God

The good shepherd…

The great High Priest.

The brother who knows…

The Holy one…the hope of glory…

The image of the invisible God…

The great IAM…

The judge of the living and the dead…

King of Kings and Lord of Lords…

Majestic and mighty…no one can compare to him…

Full of grace and truth…

The resurrection…the supreme sacrifice…

The way… the truth and the life…

The word of God made flesh…

He is all of this! This church…this world…is HIS theatre…to be made much of…to be known and named and enjoyed as Lord!

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray for Christian artists, poets and writers who face the double challenge of loss of income and trying to respond appropriately to the current situation.


27th May 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 11

Very regularly when I head to the shops (or especially when I head to Bunnings) I wander through the doors, and a fog descends and I forget what I have come there for.

I wonder as you enter the (currently virtual) doors of a church gathering whether you remember why you are there.

In the second half of 1 Corinthians 11 the Apostle Paul is forced to challenge the Corinthian church for the way they approach gathering to share the Lord's Supper. They gather not as one body but a circles - inner and outer circles, as haves and have nots. They basically replicate the culture around them. They are driven by self interest. Paul is left to conclude, it is not the Lord's supper that you share...

As he retells the story of the first Lord's supper we see that the heart of the Christian gospel is the news that our God has entered our world of self-interest to give himself up 'for you'.

The Apostle Paul has an answer to the question - when you enter the (virtual) doors of church, what have you come there for...

You have left and left forever any community marked by cruel divisions and ugly self-interest.

You have come to a community formed by the crucified Christ Jesus - a fellowship where all come not by merit, nor as some lobby group. You come as all do - by the blood of Jesus Christ.

As we prepare to gather, we don’t do so with the vague forgetfulness of a man at Bunnings but the purposefulness of one who knows what has come to - the church - this is a gathering of those who have been called into fellowship with God’s Son!

We are a community that God regards as his treasure, worth his blood!

This is a community who’s every act, especially in regard to our relationships with one another, every word, every thought, every program, every roster, conversation…every lunch, every Parish Council meeting, every Sunday service marks a fresh opportunity to proclaim to the communities around us – the Lord’s death, the Lord’s offer of forgiveness and fellowship for any who would come.

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray for those involved in sports administration as they try to determine when it will be safe and appropriate to start up full competition again.


26th May 2020 - Bible Rading - 1 Corinthians 10

A passage to help us not get complacent as Christians and to see the dangers that can cause us to wander...

if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (v.12)

The Apostle Paul lists the sort of dangers that might knock us off track...

The danger of idolatry (v.7) - where God gifts from God become for us the ultimate thing.

The danger of hedonism (v.8) - Where our pursuit of pleasure or escape pulls us off track.

The danger of freedom (v.9) - Where we live as if no one gets to curb our freedoms and the decisions we want to make.

The danger of 'if only' (v.10) - where we look for something or someone or some other time or place to rescue us from our current circumstances.

God's command to us, when we sense that danger or it is shown to us by others... RUN!

Run - knowing that we will experience this struggle; we are not immune

Run - knowing God is faithful and can help

Run to God in prayer

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: A Prayer of Thanksgiving - O Lord God, Teach me to know that grace precedes, accompanies, and follows my salvation, that it sustains the redeemed soul, that not one link of its chain can never break. From Calvary’s cross wave upon wave of grace reaches me, deals with my sin, washes me clean, renews my heart, strengthens my will, draws out my affection, kindles a flame in my soul. (From the Valley of Vision)


25th May 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 9

Continuing on from yesterday - how do we make good decisions. Yesterday we saw it is by knowing who we are creatures made to love God and love others.

Today we see that the way I love others is by making decisions that will allow the gospel to freely bless them, rather than hinder that blessing in their lives, because of the decisions I make.

The apostle Paul sums up his approach this way.

I AM FREE - I have the right to chose how I want

I CHOSE NOT TO USE MY FREEDOM - I let go of my rights

SO THAT THE GOSPEL CAN GO FREE.

The possibilities are endless. Consider the decisions before you at present. What if you made them not just based on what you are free to do (because you know you were not made for yourself but to love others). What if you made them now based on the decision what would most allow the gospel to bless them (what would you decide?)

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: A Prayer of Repentance - Searcher of hearts, it is a good day to me when you give me a glimpse of myself; sin is my greatest evil, but you are my greatest good; I have cause to loathe myself, and not to seek self honour, for no one desires to commend his own dunghill. My country, family, church fare worse because of my sins…Give me grace to recall my needs (From the Valley of Vision).


24th May 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 8

What information do you think you need to make good decisions? 1 Corinthians 8 says you need to know two things only God can teach you...

You need to know you are not self-made but a creature

You need to know you were not made for yourself, but to love God and love others.

To make good decisions you need to know these things. More tomorrow in 1 Corinthians 9.

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray for husbands and wives as they seek to live and cope together in this changed situation. Pray especially for marriages where there is strain and difficulty


23rd May 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 7

Let me ask you, what are you waiting for? What would make you feel you had arrived in life?

A change in your current situation? Perhaps a new situation? Perhaps a return to some past golden era?

1 Corinthians 7 tells you what you need to know while you wait for that...

1 - The world is passing away (vv.29,31)

2 - Don't be desperate to change situation (17, 20, 24)

3 - Honouring God is what counts (19)

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray for church conference and convention leaders who have had to cancel a number of events and are unsure about the coming months


22nd May 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 6

Another passage about the radical change that comes only from the gospel of Christ crucified, ministered to the heart by the Holy Spirit.

The passage focuses on sexual sin and makes clear that our view of such things should never be through the lens of what seems right, or accords with our culture, but in view of God who made us, can raise us from the dead and is the judge of the living and the dead.

God's word will not tolerate that which damages who he has made us and the which dishonours him. It calls us out, to repentance. It calls us to change - powerful change - only possible by the power of the same Spirit that raises us from the dead.

11And 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.

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray for the government scientists and medical advisers who have to make longer-term plans based upon limited knowledge


21st May 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 5

This is a passage for anyone stuck in a particular sin - this passage may change your life. It will tell you the truth - you are damaging yourself, those you love and our church. But with the Lord there is real hope for real forgiveness and real change.  

If you want to chat, please give me a call or send me a message.

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray for those who had made plans for rest, holidays and refreshment in this season and now find themselves in some sort of ‘Groundhog Day’. Pray that they would know some peace and be able to use their time well.


20th May 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 4

In 1 Corinthians the apostle Paul is committed to bringing an end to proud hearted Christian living, because it stands opposed to the foolish and weak gospel of Christ crucified. He say - no more boasting! (3.21)

In chapter 4 he outlines 2 characteristics of humble hearted Christian living.

1 - a humble hearted Christian lives faithfully (1-5)

They are faithful to the gospel they have been entrusted with, to guard and hand on (vv.1-2)

They are faithful before the only one who's judgment actually matters (vv.3-5)

2 - a humble hearted Christian is prepared to live at the back of the line as a fool for Christ (9-13)

Please take a read of the description of Paul's life in these verses, it is confronting and at first seems all a bit extreme. But I am struck by these words by Don Carson on this passage:

Why Paul’s stance seems alien to many of us is that we have unwittingly become more like Corinthian Christians that like Pauline (that is, Biblical!) Christians. Many of us are well-to-do and comfortable, with little incentive to live in vibrant anticipation of Christ’s return. Our desire for the approval of the world often outstrips our desire for Jesus’ “well done!” on the last day. The proper place to begin to change this deep betrayal of the gospel is at the cross – in repentance, contrition and a renewed passion not only to make the gospel of the crucified Messiah central in our teaching, but in our lives as well.

What's the secret to living with a humble heart, rather than a proud heart? 4 words declared in 1 Corinthians 3.21 that reveal your status - all things are yours!

And the Apostle Paul is not kidding…the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

The world – which tries to squeeze us into a mould, which demands our attention and allegiance - Paul says, to me it is but a staging point for the world to come. It is the arena in which I serve the King, knowing I don’t belong here and yet I belong to the one who owns the joint!

Life – here and now, which claims to be worthy of ultimate respect - such that we cling to it desperately and live life cautiously because this is all there is - Paul says, to me it is the time he has given me to serve him, so I spend life at the foot of the cross, that’s where he told me to wait.

Death – The last great enemy - a tyranny from which no one escapes, the fear of which drives many a life - not me says Paul, my God is stronger than death, my master has walked up to death in all its pomp and slayed him! For me to live is Christ and to die is gain - all death can to do me says Paul is bring me into the presence of my greatest joy!

Present/future – Paul says I am no victim of circumstances…that assail me in this present life…nor am I bound by uncertainties in the future… Because I know my God is as much in control now as he was when he saved…as he will be when he comes as judge…the present…the future…mine…because I am of Christ.

If you are a Christian…if you have thrown your lot in with Jesus…you brother/sister walk into this world holding all the aces…It should not make you proud, because it is of Christ not you. It should humble you!

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray for those who would have been relying on income from tourism and holidays in this season - as they face significant pressure from loss of income.


19th May 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 3

A chapter all about building the church. Here are three gems from within the verses of chapter 3 - here is how we should build the church at St Andrew's together.

1 - Build on the one foundation - Jesus Christ (vv.10-11)

The only thing a church can stand on is Jesus Christ. He is our foundation, as we saw in chapter 1 - he alone is our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Without him we have nothing!

We are unashamedly all about Him - everything we say, do, teach must be shaped by his cross.

Building this church is about building one another’s lives upon the gospel of grace alone, Christ alone and faith alone

We are not a church built on works…

We are not a church built on religion…

We are not a church built on culture…

We build on him!

Only Christ can stand strong under the weight of our sin, selfishness and guilt. Nothing else can hold our hope strong, Christ is our power and wisdom.

2 - Build only what can stand up under the test (vv.12-15)

If we have built on the foundation of Jesus Christ by using the incredibly precious material of the message of the cross…our work will last!

But if we build with the wisdom of this age, with cultured words, or religious zeal, or appealing to human status, power, or whatever else the world may cheer, all our labours will be burnt up. Because we are building with things that are passing away. Our ministry – no matter how spectacular the edifice we have established may look. We will be saved but suffer the great loss of seeing it come to nothing.

3 - Build knowing God dwells here (vv.16-17)

Do you see how God views us? We are his temple, the very dwelling place of God.

The temple in the Old Testament was where God met with this people (built with precious materials). But he promised a new temple and the church is the fulfilment of that promise - we are God’s temple, his dwelling place.

St Andrew’s is not primarily about us, and this is what the Corinthians had forgotten - the spotlight was off Jesus and on the Corinthians.

Seems such a clever idea. You want a church to grow focus on people! Church becomes the place where I’m at the center. But the kindness of God in building the church is to build her around Jesus Christ and not around us. Because we were not created to be in center!

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: A Prayer of Thanksgiving - I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning, more than the watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins. (Ps. 130.5-8)


18th May 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 2

Welcome to Monday morning. Here is a 3 part job description from 1 Corinthians 2.1-5.

Be focused on Christ and him crucified - For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Christ and him crucified (2.2).

Remember that I am not the centre, Christ is.

Be prepared to be weak - I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling (2.3).

Remember my strength is not in me, but him.

Be expectant - My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power (2.4-5).

Remember, the same power that raised Christ from the dead, lives in you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwc2d1Xt8gM

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: A Prayer of Repentance - Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. Amen. (Ps. 130.1-4)


17th May 2020 - Bible Reading - 1 Corinthians 1

How do you describe/define yourself?

Australian…husband…Father…son…brother…job…things I own…things I like to do…

How would you describe/define our church?

Location…size…activities…what’s happening…role

Here’s what I love about the Bible, it is relentless in calling us back from all of this. No not denying any of it, but grounding and defining who we are in relation to God alone.

The opening verse of 1 Corinthians shows us this. It is a letter written by the apostle Paul to a church he’d planted into a city obsessed with status, success, power, wealth, eloquence, giftedness. Once more the Bible calls such people back to the only thing that is worth defining yourself by.

2 things that help us know who we are.. - as individuals & church

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…

Paul understands who he is in terms of God’s action and purposes.Who he is, is not his choice - God has acted, spoken and called him - to preach the gospel. He is not Paul the self-made man, Paul the church planter. He is called by the will of God.

Here we have the heart of the Christian identity - not my will but yours, for God’s glory and our great good.

Here is freedom of being defined by God rather than letting the world or expectations define you. You are not at the beck and call of anyone, except God, whose call on your life is clear and decisive and wonderful.

Then there is verse 2, who we are as a church:

We are God’s possession - do you see how Paul starts his description of them, The church of God…

St Andrew’s Wahroonga is not the possession of anyone. Not an individual, not even all of us equally. It is God’s dwelling place, his home, before it is ours.

We exist because of God’s activity:

Sanctified in Christ Jesus - Paul is not describing an ongoing process, but a decisive past event, with ongoing effects. Set apart. For what? Well that’s next…

Called to be holy - you have been sanctified, once and for all at the cross. You are called to live our this new identity (not shaped by you, your world or its expectations. But by the cross, called to be like the one who sanctified you).

Called together - you are not called to be holy in isolation, you are called to be holy amidst other sinners - other weak, inconsistent people like you. Weak and inconsistent, but a remarkable group. Because, by the Spirit they are all those who call on Jesus name. This is the essence of what it means to be and live as a Christian, to yield totally to God’s gracious rule.

Let me ask you again, who are you, who are we together as a church? Verse 3 nails it for us:

We are those who have received unmerited…unmeasurable unending grace from God…

We are those who enjoy unmerited…unmeasurable…unending peace with God…

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray for those who are ill from other illnesses. There is some concern that they will feel the pressure not to go to their doctors or hospital.