Wird Geladen

Lessons from my own bible study

Archive for the tag “1 Corinthians”

1 Corinthians 1:18-19

18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

It’s hard being a Christian. We do/say/believe things that society (natural man) says is weird (pathetic, lame, ridiculous, froo-froo), and then we get weird looks for doing it. There’s no question or argument that Christian values are not in line with the mainstream, and there’s always resistance to going against the mainstream.

Fear of man keeps a lot of Christians from being as expressive, as open, about their life, thoughts, opinions, and values as most people are. Nobody has a problem complaining to a stranger about how drunk they got last night. But imagine the looks you’d get if you said “God told me last night that I need to stop doing sit-ups.” I’m working to come to a place where I trust God’s judgement enough to not care if I get treated strangely for acting like I’m in love with Him. That will be a new kind of freedom in which God’s power can really go to work in my life.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

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1 Corinthians 2:12

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

First, I doubt it’s possible to overstate the value of understanding. Notice the wording here. Why does Paul say “understand the gifts”? Why doesn’t he say “USE the gifts”? Because understanding really means POWER. “We receive the spirit of God so that we might have the power to use the gifts he gives us.” You want power? Gain understanding. Understanding lets us see issues in new ways. If we can see our problems from many angles, then we can find their weaknesses, their fake walls that make them appear substantial- and take control. Evil’s power is in darkness. Ours is in understanding.

Identify a problem you’ve been struggling with. Have you actually tried to understand the problem? Or have you only tried to solve the problem? Set yourself down to understanding your problem. Give it a good think. What does the problem boil down to? What would it take to overcome? Ask the Holy Spirit for a word. Look up ten scripture verses about that word. Write them onto index cards and carry one around in your pocket. Meditate on it. Talk to God. Engage with your problem through the Holy Spirit. Ask God for understanding of the issue. All the aspects of the Living God are already inside of you and me- there’s no point in asking for help, or strength, or guidance. Seek understanding! Take Power! Seek understanding, actively, earnestly, with total abandon seek to understand the things that you think you want, and the Spirit of God will teach you what it is you’re truly after, and how to use the power you already have to achieve it. The Power of God yields fruit.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

1 Corinthians 2:11

Is there anyone who can understand his own thoughts except his own inner spirit? In the same way, no one can know the thoughts of God except God’s Spirit.

This effectively splits us into two parties in one brain. The Conscious Man who’s having thoughts he doesn’t understand, and The Spirit of the man, who understands and interprets the thoughts. That’s comforting. At least SOMEBODY understands me.

Unfortunately this translation of this verse gives no guarantee that the spirit will clue the idiot side in.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

1 Corinthians 2:9

But as it is written: What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind– God prepared this for those who love Him.

There’s indiscretion about exactly which verse Paul’s quoting here. This is what Isaiah 64:4 says: “From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for Him.” Both this and Paul’s quotation describe a God who achieves, by actionable works, the purposes of those who are willing to devote their time to understanding Him. He’s unlike any other God, the Gods we currently devote our attention to- money, celebrities, materials, sex, jobs, trendy science discoveries, video games, passions- and the princes (v.8) who are exalted by our civilization today. He’s superior to the torrent of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding the Information Age offers us. He is the only God who will do what he says, and achieve what He wills. “Look anywhere you want, you won’t find a God who works.” 

The wisdom of God is ours. It’s prepared for us, designed for our improvement and betterment and to make us into the Soldiers of Christ we were born to be. It’s free, it’s available, and it’s only to be had by investing ourselves into Christian communities where God is being sought and learning for ourselves. The machinations of Man are not going to unveil the mysteries of God. Watching people and asking their opinion on things is not going to lead to wisdom. Only watching God will reveal His presence and character. Only the demonstrations of God’s power will show Him to us. And then, when our hearts are hungry to understand what we’ve just seen, only study of the Word will feed us. Looking for answers anywhere else is just chasing after the wind. It will come to nothing. For only God is real, only God is solid, only God will realify us and solidify us, so that we can be USEFUL to Him in demonstrating His love and power to others.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

1 Corinthians 2:7-8

7 But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

“None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (v.8).” A different translation calls them “The princes of this age”. It’s kind of an insinuation about the quality of our role models. Paul seems to be saying, “Your celebrities, the princes and authority figures, the people you give your time and effort into obsessing over- the people on TV, the glamorous job in this or that industry, the address you wish you could say you lived at, they lead to nothing. You’re following the wrong horse, because their flashy gold or lavish lives or book smarts or accomplishments or skills or nice features are not leading them or you toward God. In fact they’re actively working against Godliness by distracting your mind from fulfillment. They’re crucifying the Lord of Glory, as are we all, every time we choose wickedness over God.”

Compare that to the power of the wisdom which comes from God. “Which God decreed for our glory”, meaning our glorification- literally our improvement. I’m all about self improvement. I’m bad at mental math and analytical thinking. I wish I were better with numbers, less forgetful, more detail oriented, and focused. I wish my brain worked a lot better than it does, lets put it that way. I understand now that God is the road to my self improvement. More than these mind-sharpening apps and self-help books I’ve got, God can provide actual change at the foundational level. Our improvement is actualized by the power of God. Just since beginning this Word of Wisdom series I’m not forgetting things anymore. Little details don’t escape my notice, and I make fewer and fewer stupid mistakes. I don’t even get distracted as much. This is because I know I’m growing. When I forget something, I pray to God, “Thank you, God, for improving me away from such stupid mistakes. I know that next time my mind will be clearer and your wisdom will make me that much more capable. I’m getting better, God, by your Power.” This is working because I’m choosing to go where I know wisdom exists, and away from Death and Destruction. I’m turning down temptation to sin and devote my mind to frivolous matters (TV princes and the ruling wisdom of my day, for example). The improvement I see in myself is a demonstration of God’s power for everyone to see.

And not so I would be glorified, but so I would be improved. So that I can get prepared to use His power. I started this whole series because I wanted to know God’s will for my life. Wouldn’t that make the job search/city search easier if I knew where God wanted me to go? But we need to be useful in order to be used. In order to find out what God’s will for my life is, I first need to be capable of fulfilling that will. The wisdom of God teaches me everything I need to know so that I can become mature, powerful, and capable of achieving my potential. Because we need to be capable, trustworthy, of using the power. No one gets the power of God who isn’t of the right spirit to use it.  That’s why it is “Secret and hidden”. And until I understand the fear of God, His will for me is to seek and find that understanding wholeheartedly.

God can’t be glorified until we’re glorified. We cannot have God’s power until we understand what it’s for. We do not get God’s power until we seek Him. And then it WORKS.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

1 Corinthians 2:6

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.

What this is telling me is that we always need to keep prioritized. In learning about our goals, our careers, our loves and hopes and dreams, our search for God’s will- wisdom in all areas ultimately comes from God. Never from the mouths of men. Be patient with people who give advice, but be careful whose advice you take. Prioritizing our relationship with God will lend clarity, insight, and potential to every  endeavor. 

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

1 Corinthians 2:4-5

4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

Practically, Paul was invoking the power of God to accomplish his goal. He wasn’t relying on God’s wisdom, which he certainly had lots of. He wasn’t relying on what he had learned, or discerned, or anything the Spirit had taught him. He only used what he knew empirically: the power of God will work to my end. It’s the difference between saying “My sword is sharp” and cutting something with your sword. We, too, can pull out the power of God. It’s there in the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge which are already inside of us. We too can yield it for direct, active, visible results in our lives. Paul did not use words. He used God. He attacked his problems head on, wisely basing his ministry on the confidence that when he pulled out his product to do the job, it would work. And not just work, it would amaze. He’s freakin Billy Mayes with Jesus.

What I’m saying is, when we’ve got an issue, or a problem, or something we need God’s help with, we don’t need to keep chanting “God knows how to fix it! God knows the answer!” Get at it and use the power of God to fix it! Our faith is based on God’s POWER. Use it.

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This is part of the Word of Wisdom Series

Centering our Conversations on God

“Preach the gospel always, with words if necessary.”  -St. Francis of Assisi

I have not come to baptize but to preach the gospel. And not with eloquent words, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
                                                                                                                1 Cor. 1:13

The job and directive of a God-centered life is to proclaim the Gospel. But Paul says he preaches not with eloquent words. One does not have to be talking about God to have a God-centered conversation. Saying God’s name out loud is not the most practical way of communicating Christ by our speech.  Nor is it the most effective, really.  We say God’s name more times a minute simply by building others up.

Let no evil come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
                                                                                                              Ephesians 4:29

Consider that everyone has pain that they’re not sharing with the world- pain that’s hiding just below a fake smile. This is a pain we cannot reach, but which Jesus can most certainly heal. Whether they know it or not, they’re waiting to hear God’s name- as there is need. And whether we know it or not, our conversations are an opportunity for us to give grace to someone who’s hurting, even in the simplest way. Literally to bring Jesus to them.

We do this by encouraging one another. Be Loving. Patient. Kind. Inclusive. Polite. Constructive. Funny. Pleasant. Helpful. Build people up! Make them smile! Make them glow! God reaches the world through us. We convey His message when we build others up. The impulse to do this comes out of a heart full of the simple wish that everyone should feel the joy of God all the time.

We don’t have to fake smile in order to do this. We should never deny our own emotions for the sake of letting someone else have a good day. Paul tells the Ephesians “Be mad, but do not sin (Eph 4:26).” Whatever our mental state, we must first and foremost preach God’s name. And we shall be rewarded for this.

The wages of doing our job are that our hearts become God-centered. It’s a fascinatingly roundabout process (not to mention easy to the point of cheating). A mouth that worships God feeds the heart that worships Him. And the heart that wants to see God worshiped pours forth the words to get the job done. In what may be the most miraculous concept of the entire Bible, Jesus says:

The Word of God feeds you going in as well as going out.*

Short story: yesterday I rode my bike to meet a friend at a café. The place she chose was very far away. The long drive, cold wind, and bad traffic all put me in a terrible mood. In my anger I blamed her for picking somewhere so out of the way, along with a bunch of other things that were actually my fault. I rode along thinking how silly this girl was, imagining all the nasty things I would say once I got there. But then I remembered this sermon. “Saying something nasty to her won’t make either of us feel better,” I thought. “I don’t know what kind of hardship she had in getting here either. It just wouldn’t do any good to be negative. I wonder, if I bring God into our conversation by being encouraging, will my anger and pain disappear?” So I dug down deep, found what little positive vibes I had left in my heart, and poured them out onto her once I arrived. And you know what? It totally worked! I felt instantly better, and we had a great time! Both my heart and hers got filled by the Holy Spirit just as soon as I brought Him into the mix. It was extremely encouraging.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
                                                                                                Luke 6:45

The power of the cross of Christ is that our hearts would be filled with good. A God-centered conversation blesses both the speaker and the listener by building them both up. The Holy Spirit works through a quick, positive word of encouragement in ways we cannot fathom. He moves out from the abundance in our hearts to ease the pain of everyone involved.

Such habits of speech can have no other result than to center our hearts onto God. If we focus our conversations on uplifting whomever we’re speaking to, we’re actually focusing on achieving God’s will and spreading His name throughout the universe. Whenever we concentrate our efforts onto the actions of the Holy Spirit, in any capacity, we are praying. Conversations, hearts, lives- all three will naturally flow toward God as we pray for them to do so.

Encouraging words are the physical manifestation of our desire for others to have God’s peace, and to live a God-focused life. They spring into reality out of the spiritual universe burning inside our own hearts. They lay onto our listeners like a warm breeze on a cool day- a blessing from somewhere else.

Tip #4: Build others up with speech, and our hearts will center themselves on God.

*I was in a rush and didn’t have time to cite this, but I know it’s in there! If anyone knows please write it in the comments

Happy Lent today, dear readers. I hope you find a great church service to go to. Or a beautiful Bible passage to connect you to Jesus’s sacrifice. If you falter in your Lenten resolution, just remember NEVER to beat yourself up over it. Move on and praise God anyway. Amen.

This post has been the new addition in the “Putting God At The Center” Series, a project of learning how we can bring our lives to focus on God.  The three previous posts are: Mealtime PrayerWorshiping God By Worshiping Our Bodies, and We Worship Whatever We Sacrifice To.  Stay tuned for the final installment and please comment, like, and share!

Mealtime Prayer

Praying before we eat is one of the simplest ways I can think of for getting God into the center of our lives.

It waters our relationship with God

Paul is referring to the Corinthians’ failure to pray before eating when he says:

For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
Paul1 Corinthians 11:30

He implies that praying before every meal builds us up and makes us strong, both in faith and life.  Just as food is central to our lives, culture, and survival, so is the prayer that comes before it.  If we let God bless our food, we let Him also bless our lives, culture, and survival.

Mealtime prayer is an act of worship

Food sits before us, our appetite tells us to eat, eat, eat!  By sacrificing these impulses for just a few seconds to consider God and thank Him for his goodness, we affirm that we choose God first (I wrote earlier that we worship whatever we sacrifice to).  Mealtime prayer is an exercise of obedience through which we display our love and appreciation for Him who loves and appreciates us.

Meals offer us built-in check points with God throughout our day

Praying before each meal is the perfect opportunity to align ourselves with God’s peace, joy, and love.  Three times a day, they’re an opportunity/reminder to thank Him for our blessings, as well as invite Him into our hearts.  Through mealtime prayers we can celebrate God’s gift to us in short, positive bursts.

(I’d like to add here that a few weeks ago I put an alarm in my phone to ring at 3:00 every day- when it goes off and I stop whatever I’m doing and just say a short thanksgiving for letting me be where I am, doing what I’m doing, safe and sound.  I call it “Hour of Prayer”, and it has really be uplifting for me, so I recommend it to my readers as well!)

We must understand that sacrificing a few seconds before each meal is only going to be done, and thankful prayers only going to be prayed, if we truly delight in God’s warmth.  Thus mealtime prayer also allows us to constantly consider where our hearts lie.

“Examine yourselves, and only then eat the bread and drink the cup.”
  Paul, 1 Corinthians 11:28

Is God important enough to my heart that He comes before food?  Am I fully aware of the wonderful miracles Jesus has wrought in my life that brought me to this table here and now?  Do I understand what those miracles mean for me eternally?  Do I care?  Asking ourselves these questions three times a day will certainly yield answers, and quickly too.

Mealtime prayer nourishes our relationship with God.  We worship Him by sacrificing the time.  We remind ourselves what good things He’s done for us over the course of the day.  We consider our position in Him.  These three acts together bring us out of ourselves and focus our minds on God instead- both in the long and short term.  When we pray before we eat, we scoot closer to God in ten-second bursts.  It’s a powerful habit that will very quickly put Him at the center of our lives.

Tip #3- Make a point to pray before every meal, giving thanks to Jesus for His gift of freedom to us, and assuring God that we want Him to be at the center of our lives. 

The problem I have with all of this is that I can never remember to actually do it!  Praying before I eat is not a habit of mine yet, so I always end up sitting there after I’m finished thinking “Oh man, I should have prayed first!  I’ll get it next time.”  How do you remember to pray before meals?  What kinds of tips can you offer other readers to improve their (and my!) consistency in mealtime prayer?  Your comments will add huge value to this series!

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This post has been the new addition in the “Putting God At The Center” Series, a project of learning how we can bring God to the center of our lives.  You can read the previous two posts:  Worshiping God By Worshiping Our BodiesWe Worship Whatever We Sacrifice To, as well as the project directive.  Stay tuned for the next installment, and please comment, like, and share!

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