Week 33, Day 3
August 17, 2022
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:27–31)
Paul continues to address the division that is plaguing the local church in Corinth. The division over how the Lord’s Supper was practiced, followed the division over food sacrificed to idols. What came before that was the division caused by sexual immorality that affected the entire church body.
Now he addresses disunity over pride. The pride of one part of the church body feeling superior to another. He reminds them, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
We are all a part of the body of Christ. We all have a role, and some of the roles are unexpectedly more important than we realize. A lot of folks would look at me, in my role as the preacher and say that I have a critical role. And that is true. I am very, very important. Look at me!!!!
But have you been to the church on a Sunday where we didn’t have our communion prepared? Something happened and it didn’t get covered? We found out very quickly how that unnoticed person is so vitally important to what we do on a Sunday. Thank you communion preparers for the unnoticed work you do, quietly each week for everyone. That’s one “small” role. But there are hundred of things happening within a given week, if not thousands that care for the body of believers and unite us. All of which are incredibly important to the life and health of the body. Consider with me all of the prayers, all of the service, all of the notes and kindness offered to the body of believers. We really are all one, and every single person is a part of it. Every activity, every sharing of individual gifts and talents bring us together as one in Christ. Our gifts are not intended to separate us, rather, they are given us that we might care of the body of believers.
I get a lot of the attention and focus because of my more noticeable role. But Paul appropriately reminds us that I am one more part of the wider body of believers. I need you. You need me. We ALL need Christ. We are his, and we belong together through him.
So, we pursue the greater gift together. The most important thing. Some want the gift of healing, or prophecy, or other prominent gifts and roles within the body. I get that. But Paul teaches us that the best is the gift of love.
Let us love one another. That is what will unite the church. Seek the greater gift of love.
Week 33, Day 2,
August 16, 2022
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11
“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:23–27)
I read verse 26 in my head with the same cadence I do when I say it out loud on Sunday morning.
In the case of the Corinthian church, they have forgotten the purpose and unity of the meal. There was so much disunity and division over the meal that it really was no longer the Lord’s Supper.
There are a lot of varying opinions on the Lord’s Supper. How often you should partake in it, how you should take it, one cup or not? Wine or grape juice? We can all agree though, that the prepackaged “bread” and juice, with the Styrofoam for bread is the worst.
It is incredible to me, the very ceremony that ought to unify all Christians is at times, the most divisive.
Paul lays it out clearly. This is how we remember the incredible sacrifice of Jesus and this activity of remembrance brings us together.
Can we make it about that? For as often as we eat the bread and drink the cup we show the Lord’s death until he comes. Until he comes back, this is what unites us and how we show the world what we believe. It’s how we come together to remember and honor the gift of life given us in Christ.
Why is the Lord’s Supper so important to us and why do we do it every single week? We want our gatherings to be about the gift of life given us in Christ. In a world that divides us, we come together as one to remember the love of Jesus Christ.
That’s worth taking together, every week.
Week 33, Day 1
August 15, 2022
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to us all. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12–13)
There is a popular video floating around of me wiping out several times on a surfboard. For all who know me, it is their favorite video of me. More so than the adorable videos of my kids, it is my continued wiping out that brings people great delight. It is hilariously bad. I fall, several times.
I remember the event portrayed on the video like it was yesterday. I go out on the surfboard, holding the hands of the helper. I feel like I have a sense of balance and I tell the helper that “I’m good, I got this.” Within seconds of his letting me go on my own, I wipe out. I get back up, feel like I’m able to navigate the torrent, and well, I fall again. And again. It’s hysterical. Bad for my ego, fun for everyone else.
I see it as a fitting illustration of my walk with Christ. I think I have my feet under me, and sure enough I stumble and fall. “I’ve got this” becomes, “I don’t got this” in a matter of seconds. I get back upright, feel like I have my feet under me, and I fall again. I do it again and again.
This is the story of Israel that Paul outlines. The people of God come out of Egypt only to worship idols, indulge in sexual immorality, and test the Lord. They grumble against God, complain of where he has led them, reject God, and turn their hearts from him.
Paul’s encouragement to the church to avoid such a failure is “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall!”
I’ve lost track of the times where I felt like I made progress in my spiritual journey, only to stumble again. I suppose I’m in great company with this. I’ll butcher the story, but there’s a story of a person who kept going to God, asking forgiveness for getting into the tangled web of sin. Every time, “God, I’m sorry, I’ve gotten into the web of sin again.” Over and over, going to God, asking for forgiveness.
Eventually, the person prayed, “God, kill the spider.”
Paul’s encouragement here is to not think we have it all figured out and avoid our dependency on God. When we stand on shaky ground, we are much more apt and focused on keeping our balance. It’s the pride of life that leads to the greatest falls.
May we know that we are on shaky ground. We so desperately need God and relationship with him.
Don’t fall into the trap that always leads to our failure. The ground beneath us is shaking, hold on to Jesus. He will see you through. The torrent of sin will sweep us away. Anchor our lives in Jesus Christ. Stand firm with him.
Week 32, Day 5
August 12, 2022
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9
“To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:22–23)
It’s not about me.
That’s Paul’s ministry focus. It’s all about the Gospel of Christ and not about his personal wants and desires. Paul’s hope and focus is to make certain that nothing about him gets in the way of others coming to know Jesus as Lord and King. He wants the Gospel to spread, lives to change and for all people to praise and glorify God.
It’s not about me.
Will that be our ministry focus? Let’s make our lives about the Gospel of Christ. Let our desire be to make certain our lives, our attitudes, our needs, our wants don’t get in the way of others coming to know Jesus as Lord and King.
Let the Gospel of Jesus spread, so that lives are changed, and all people will come to know God and praise Him!
It’s not about me. Let’s live our lives for the sake of the Gospel.
Week 32, Day 4
August 11, 2022
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 8
“So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.” (1 Corinthians 8:4–7)
How can our freedoms cause harm for others? Paul brings this concern to the conversation with the Corinthian church. He is understands that there are those who enjoy their freedom in Christ, and those that are still learning what it means for themselves. Some are recently removed from idolatry and to eat food sacrificed to idols reminds them too much of where they came from. They can’t quite separate themselves from their past.
Paul is gracious with the new believers. Not condemning them for not realizing their freedom, but coming alongside of them and abstaining from food sacrificed to idols. Paul and others have come to realize that these gods don’t even exist, so there’s nothing to worry about when eating food that’s been sacrificed to them. The food doesn’t change sacrificed or not. But for those who are recently removed from this way of life, the sacrifices are all to real and are worshipful of the idols they were given to.
We are wise to consider how our lives and conduct might affect others. Paul takes quite seriously his role as a leader in the faith community. The last thing he wants to do is to lead others towards sin or discouragement in their faith. So, Paul abstains, even though his conscious is clear to eat food sacrificed to idols. Paul would rather do without to help those new to the faith.
Am I concerned about the well-being of others and encouraging them in their faith? Are their actions that I’m taking, freedoms I’m exercising that fellow believers might be harmed by? Am I willing to refrain, so as not to discourage the faith of others?
The premise of today’s text is that it isn’t about me. Paul is teaching us that selfish Christianity is no Christianity at all. It is not about exhausting our freedoms for personal gain, but caring for others and pointing them towards Christ.
Week 32, Day 3
August 10, 2022
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7
“I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:35)
I could get into a tangled web of what is allowed and what isn’t. What does Paul think about slavery, marriage, singlehood? There is so much here to unpack. But I’m taking the lazy way out today.
The aim of Paul is that we would live our lives with undivided devotion to the Lord.
That’s his aim. He looks at all of the ways that our lives are competing with loyalties. If we are slaves, there would be a tension with the master and the slaves commitment to the Lord. Likewise, for one who is married, there is a divided loyalty that impacts how to live out our commitment to God.
Very simply, Paul calls the church to an undivided commitment to God. He doesn’t call for the circumstances to change. He calls us to view how we view our circumstances to change. How am I showing my loyalty and love to God in our I live my life?
What a wonderful encouragement to us to consider our loyalties and challenge our perspective!
Give God your whole heart and commitment!
Week 32, Day 2
August 9, 2022
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6
“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! 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.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6:15–17)
Will we have ears to hear what Paul is teaching the church here? We are a unified people in the body of Christ. We are not the radically independent-of-one-another people that we think we are. We are a body, united in Christ. For Paul, our sexual promiscuity takes the whole body with us into our sin and unites us together. Just as God teaches us that in the marital act, “two become one flesh” so we are joined together in sexual sin in the church body. One goes, we all go.
This message ought to provide a strong word of caution to us as we think about the rampant sexual immorality that pervades our culture and infiltrates into our lives. In an age where sexual exploration is celebrated, we are called to faithfulness in both our covenant with God and with our spouses.
There is grace upon grace for our failures in this. We need, as always, a balance of grace and truth. There is forgiveness for our failures. But we need this truth to guide us. Sin, particularly sexual sin, hurts the church so much. We don’t have to go far to see how sexual sin wreaks havoc on churches. The sexual sin of pastors is particularly disturbing and harmful to the whole church and greater community.
May we all live to a higher standard of conduct, to honor God, love our spouses and seek to glorify God in all that we do.
Week 31, Day 5
August 5, 2022
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 5
“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this?” (1 Corinthians 5:1–2)
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 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. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with any who claim to be fellow believers but are sexually immoral or greedy, idolaters or slanderers, drunkards or swindlers. With such persons do not even eat.” (1 Corinthians 5:9–11)
Freedom is something that we all cherish. We love the freedom our vehicles give us. They permit us to travel wherever time and budget allow. We could go all the way to Alaska if we felt like it.
With newfound freedom in Christ, there is an exploration of that freedom and Paul is reeling it in. There is sexual immorality of the sort that not even pagans would partake in, which is saying something! A man is having sexual relationship with his mother, or stepmother. Either way, this is not the sort of thing that Christians, or anyone shouldn’t be engaging in.
Paul addresses sexual immorality in the church, not so much in the world. He is speaking to the church, calling it to a higher standard of morality. He knows the church is called to be a beacon of light on this. To avoid immorality in the world, well, you would have to leave the world. We feel that deeply in our current culture, we would have to leave the earth altogether to avoid sexual deviancy and greed.
But the serious tone of Paul is turned towards the church. How can we have any moral footing when we have this type of sin lurking about in the family of believers? How do we call people to a life of holiness when this is happening within the church?
This passage, as gross as it is, should turn our attention inwardly. To ourselves personally, and towards the church. Make this our genuine prayer, “God root out the sexual immorality within me, root it out of our church family. Care for us and draw us near to you. Purify our hearts and our ways. Bring us to relationships and commitments that honor you and glorify you."
We can continue to blast the culture around us as the church has become increasingly known. But that’s not at all the recommendation from Paul. Rather, it is to examine our hearts and lives within the church. Let’s continue to submit to God and his ways for our relationships, our life and our ways.
Week 31, Day 3 and 4
August 3-4, 2022
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3-4
“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:7–9)
“This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.” (1 Corinthians 4:1)
“We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;” (1 Corinthians 4:12)
We are called to selfless service in the kingdom of God. We make much of our lives and we want recognized for what we do. I can’t tell you how many times my ego gets in the way of the selfless service attitude we are called towards in this new life in the kingdom. Just the other day, I found myself chiming into a conversation making sure I got the credit for something that was done. Why do I need credit?
Paul empties himself of this attitude and calls us to the same. We are all merely servants in Christ, co-laborers, and workers together. It’s God’s field and God’s building and God’s fruit and God’s ways. So get out of the way and give God glory! That’s what we are called towards in the kingdom. We are servants of Christ, entrusted with the message of God’s incredible goodness and love. The world knows little of it, so that’s what we make known. Not my goodness, and good deeds, but God’s Goodness and his Good deed for the world; the rescue of sinners, the hope of new life.
Jordan, get out of the way. To God be all glory.
Have a great day!
Week 31, Day 1 and Day 2
August 1 and 2, 2022
Scripture: Luke 24, 1 Corinthians 1
The ascension of Christ is sometimes overlooked in our retelling of Christ’s story. The ascension though, is literally the crowning achievement of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. He is the one with all authority in heaven and earth. He is crowned in heaven as our Lord and King!
“When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” (Luke 24:50–53, TNIV)
We see he is worthy of all praise and glory and honor.
The ascension is what gives weight to these words of Paul:
“He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:8–9, TNIV)
The one who has ascended to the right hand of God is also the one who holds us together, firm to the end.
“God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let those who boast boast in the Lord.”” (1 Corinthians 1:28–31, TNIV)
Jesus becomes who we boast. We celebrate the risen and ascended Lord. He holds us. He is our righteousness. He is our hope.
Worship and celebrate him who holds us together.
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.