8/30/16 The Race For The Crown Of Heaven

“In a race, many people run, but there is only one winner.  This life is a race, and eternal life in Heaven with Jesus is our prize.  You must run the race of life so that you may win this prize.  Live like one who is training for a real race.  They do not indulge in excesses of food or drink, and they spend their time fine-tuning their running skills and their bodies instead of partying or being lazy.  And all this to win a prize that will not last!  We, as people who are running a race to win an everlasting prize, ought to do even better.  I run my race confident that I will win the prize.  I fight like one who has faith in his ability to conquer his opponent.  And to do this, I must control what I do with my body, so that I will not be all talk and no action, losing the race myself while I am coaching others in how to win.”

 

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

8/29/16 Paul, A Chameleon For Jesus

“I no longer have any concern for what the people of this world think of me, because through Jesus I have been freed and now concern myself only with what God thinks of me.  But I willingly make myself a slave to Him, and through Him to all those who would be His, so that I may lead more people to Him.  I live within the traditions of Judaism in order to lead Jews to Him; within the bounds of the Law to those living under the Law and freed from the bounds of the Law to those living without the Law; to those in any culture who are weak, I lived as though I also was weak.  I live the way I need to live in order to draw more people to Jesus.  I do this in order to share Jesus’ message everywhere I go, because I want to share this joy, this wonderful life, with as many of you as possible.”

 

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

8/28/16 Paul Relinquishes His Right To Be Compensated For His Teaching Work

“In the Jewish Temple, the priests who are in charge of the offerings and sacrifices receive a portion of what has been offered or sacrificed, and any priest who works at the Temple receives a portion of the offerings as a means of payment for their services.  In this same way, Jesus tells us that those of His children who go out into the world to share His message and bring people to Him should be supported by the churches that they establish and build up.  But, though I know all of this, I have not asked for any of it for myself, and I am not writing now of these things because I want the churches to support me.  If I insisted on this right for myself, it could stand in the way of the purity of my message – people might believe that I am doing this work only because of the material things I stand to gain from it, and then I would not be able to take pride in the message that I teach – in Jesus, our Messiah, and His great love for us.  I do not take pride in my teaching of Jesus’ message, only in the message itself.  Because I have no choice but to spread His word wherever I go – it is what I have been commanded by my Messiah to do, and I can’t take pride in something I have no choice but to do.  If it was something that I myself chose to do, then I would be entitled to receive something for my work.  But I am like a servant who has been placed in charge of his Master’s affairs, and the work I do is that which my Master has commanded me to do.  Because of this, I do not believe that I am entitled to receive any compensation, other than the satisfaction of knowing that I willingly do the work my Messiah has called me to do, and in sacrificing that which I have the right to claim, I may preserve the purity of the message and nobody can accuse me of using that message for my own personal gain.”

 

1 Corinthians 9:13-18

8/27/16 The Law Grants Us This Right, But Still, We Don’t Exercise It

“It is not on my own authority that I say this, but the law of Moses.  God commanded us through Moses, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the corn.’  What is this commandment telling us?  At face value, it says that when an animal is working for us, in this case stepping on harvested corn to separate the corn from the husk, we should not prevent the animal from stopping to eat some of that corn, because it deserves to partake of the fruit of its labors.  But this is also a reminder for us to be fair and kind to each other, and to pay human workers what is right in exchange for the work that they do.  And, though God created and loves both animals and humans, the greater commandment in this is to care for each other as humans created in God’s image.  If someone is plowing or harvesting a field, he should do so with the hope that he will be justly rewarded for his labor.  Now, our work with you is spiritual, but it is still labor.  So should we not hope to be justly rewarded with material things, like food and drink, clothing and shelter, in exchange for our labors on your behalf?  I know that other teachers have come to you and worked with you like we have, and you have freely given these things to them.  And Barnabas and I, as your spiritual fathers, have a greater right to this than anyone who comes after us, do we not?  And yet, because we do not want anything to stand in the way of Jesus’ message, or people coming to Him, we do not exercise this right.  Instead, we patiently labor wherever we go, working both physically as tentmakers in order to support ourselves, and spiritually with you, to help you grow in your faith.”

 

1 Corinthians 9:8-12, Deuteronomy 25:4

8/26/16 Is The Worker Not Entitled To His Pay?

“When we apostles come into a community and deliver Jesus’ message to the people, and then spend several months (sometimes more) working with the new believers of that community, do we not have the right to room and board in exchange for our labors?  Do our wives and children not also have that right, if they are working alongside us, as is the case for Peter and Jesus’ brothers?  Perhaps Barnabas and I are the exception to this right, since many of you do not believe us to be apostles.  Do soldiers go into battle expecting to pay their own way to get through the war, or do they expect to be given food and tools for their survival in exchange for the work they do?  Or do farmers not get to partake of their own produce, or drink of the milk of their own cows and goats?”

 

1 Corinthians 9:4-7

8/25/16 You Corinthian Believers Are My Proof Of Apostleship

“But some of you question my freedom, and not just in the matter of eating meat sacrificed to idols.  I am an apostle, am I not?  Do you not believe that I have seen Jesus, our Messiah, and that you are some of the fruits of my labor in His Name?  Even if I did nothing else for Him, you, at least, are the proof that I am an apostle of our Messiah, because He alone gave me the power and the words that enabled me to draw your hearts closer to Him.  And that is the argument I set forth in my own defense, in answer to the allegations of those who claim that I am not a real apostle.  With Jesus as my defender, I need offer no other response.”

 

1 Corinthians 9:1-3

8/24/16 Consider Others’ Weaknesses Before Your Own Strength

“For me, I am strong enough in my faith that, though I was a Pharisee, and the eating of meat sacrificed to idols was abhorrent to me, I can now partake of such food without any qualms.  I know that the idols are nothing, and therefore the meat is sacrificed to nothing and means nothing.  It is simply sustenance for my body, nothing more, nothing less.  But, although I freely partake of such food now, I know that for many it is a point of great concern.  I must be careful in how and when I eat this food, so that I will not cause anyone to stumble in their faith.  If people know you to be a Christian, yet see you eating in the temple of an idol, it may cause some to believe all sorts of lies about the Christian faith, and may cause them to either be weakened in their own faith through sin and false beliefs, or even prevent someone from coming to Jesus in faith in the first place.  Do you want to cause someone whose conscience is not as strong as yours in this area, someone Jesus died to save, to be lost to the world because of your knowledge and pride?   Besides sinning against your brothers and sisters in this way, you also sin against Jesus.  So, if there is something, whether it be meat sacrificed to an idol or some other point of issue, that will cause my brother or sister problems in their faith or their conscience, I will not partake of such things, because I do not want to be the one to come between them and God.”

 

1 Corinthians 8:9-13

8/23/16 Food Should Not Come Between Us & God

“There are many among us who come from a Jewish background, and feel that because God strictly forbids having anything to do with the worship of idols, including eating meat sacrificed to an idol, there is no way they could ever partake of such food, even in a social context.  And, conversely, there are many among us who come from a background of idol worship themselves, and are still struggling with the concept that these idols are not real.  To them, eating meat that has been sacrificed to an idol is shameful, for they see themselves as they were when they do so.  Or they see it as a step backwards, and are afraid that to partake of this meat, even in a social context, might cause them to slip away from their faith and go back to worshipping these false gods.  Either way, there is a weakness in their conscience that causes them to feel unclean before God in consenting to eat this meat.  We all know that there is nothing about food that can bring us any closer to or farther from God – we are no better or worse having eaten such meat, for food is only for the body.  But still, it is something that causes many among us to stumble in our faith.”

 

1 Corinthians 8:7-8

8/22/16 Love Is Better Than Knowledge

“It has come to my attention that there has been some confusion regarding the eating of meat that has been sacrificed to idols.  I know that in your city, as in many others, it is a common practice for the priests of these various religions to sell whatever sacrificed meat they cannot eat themselves, and for people to buy it in the marketplace and eat it.  As Christians, many of us feel that our knowledge surpasses that of the people who are worshipping these idols.  You must remember, though, that if you take pride in your knowledge, it only serves to increase your own pride.  If you are wise in your own eyes, you only deceive yourself.  Love, on the other hand, seeks to serve others.  It comes to us directly from God, and is used to build up a whole community.  It is better, therefore, to be known by God through love than to seek to know everything.  All that to say this:  we know that idols are just that, things carved by human hands that mean nothing and have no power.  We know that God is God, and there is no other.  But even assuming for a moment that these idols were in fact gods, albeit lesser than our Great God, even so, we do not worship them, but only the One True God.  He is the creator of all that there is.  He made us for Himself, for His pleasure, and then, through Jesus’ sacrifice for us, gave us new life as Christians.”

 

1 Corinthians 8:1-6

8/21/16 Let Your Children Marry If They Fall In Love & Stay Single If They Have The Will Power To Do So

“Parents, if you have a virgin daughter who has found a man that she loves, or a virgin son who has found a woman that he loves, and you believe that keeping them from marrying will cause them to give in to sexual temptation and sin, as long as they are both adults, you would do better to allow them to marry.  Use your best judgment in the matter, because either way, you are not sinning.  But a young man or woman who is faithful to God and has strong will power would be better off to remain single.  And the same for a widow.  Those who are married are tied together as one as long as they are both living.  But if one spouse dies, the other is free to either remain single or to remarry anyone they wish, as long as the union is one that God approves.  But if the widowed spouse is able to remain single without sinning, I believe he or she will be happier doing so, because they may in that capacity give all to serving Jesus.  I believe this advice to be consistent with the will of the Holy Spirit, though I have no actual commandment from God concerning this matter.”

 

1 Corinthians 7:36-40