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Category Archives: 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 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.” 25 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.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Dear God, why did Jesus leave us with what we call “The Last Supper” or “Eucharist”? Or I guess a better way to look at it would be to ask what would be different if he hadn’t said what he said and did what he did in the breaking of the bread and pouring of the wine on that last night before his crucifixion.

I discovered something interesting today. Well, maybe I knew it before, but if I did I’ve forgotten it. When wanting to see the recording of the last supper, I wanted to see how John portrayed the breaking of bread and pouring of wine in his gospel. He gives us chapters and chapters describing that last meal, starting in chapter 13. But much to my surprise, he didn’t mention it at all! That really surprised me. Why did he not think to include that part all those years later? Had he stopped doing the eucharist at that time in his life? I found it odd that something so important to the modern church was completely passed over (pun intended) by one of the core disciples/apostles.

But back to my question. What would be different if Jesus hadn’t left us with the eucharist? Well, let’s look at what Paul said: “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (Verse 26) Then in the subsequent verses he gets into the state of our hearts when we take the bread and wine, but I think this is the part that’s important. It makes me wonder if we didn’t regularly go through this act of physical remembrance of Jesus’s body being broken and his blood being spilled would we forget what he really did and just let his life morph into being of no more significance than the great prophets?

Father, help me to never water down the significance of Jesus’s sacrifice and the subsequent power he/you displayed through his resurrection. Help me to keep my heart pure and ready to participate in the eucharist whenever the opportunity presents itself to me. And help me to “proclaim [Jesus’s] death (and resurrection) until he comes.”

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2019 in 1 Corinthians

 

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Holy Spirit Baptism

Dear God, I wrote yesterday morning about being baptized in the Holy Spirit. With Pentecost coming this Sunday, and me substitute preaching at the Presbyterian church, I want to spend some time on this issue with you. What is being baptized in the Holy Spirit all about?

First, I want to look at the passages that reference it.

  • John the Baptist – All four Gospels reference John the Baptist saying the Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Here is what Matthew says: “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” [Matthew 3:11]
  • Jesus before the Ascension – Just before he ascended to Heaven, Jesus said this to the apostles: “John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” [Acts 1:5]
  • Pentecost – This doesn’t specifically say, “Baptized by the Holy Spirit,” but it’s the follow up to Acts 1:5 and I’ve always taken it to mean that this is what happened to the early church: On the day of Pentecost[a] all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. [Acts 2:1-4]
  • Peter promises the Spirit – Now that Peter has just received it in that moment, he understands that it is an important part of the experience and he includes it along with repentance and water baptism: Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” [Acts 2:38]
  • Samaritan believers were missing the Holy Spirit – I would say that this story certainly supports the idea of a two-stage baptism: When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there.  As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit. [Acts 8:14-17]
  • Simon the Sorcerer tries to buy the Holy Spirit baptism – Simon is jealous of those who have this baptism, but finds out that being baptized in the Holy Spirit isn’t something you can buy or earn: But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”‘”Pray to the Lord for me, Simon exclaimed, ‘that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!” [Acts 8:20-24]
  • Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit before water baptism – The apostles were still figuring out what the New Covenant looked like and then had this experience with Gentiles: Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. For they heard them speaking in other tongues and praising God.Then Peter asked, “Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?” So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. [Acts 10:44-48a]
  • Peter has to convince the other apostles that Gentiles are welcome – Again, everyone is trying to figure this out. Isn’t it interesting that humans seem to have a tendency to think of themselves as part of a select class of humans? But you were teaching them: Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said. Then Peter told them exactly what had happened. “I was in the town of Joppa,” he said, “and while I was praying, I went into a trance and saw a vision. Something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners from the sky. And it came right down to me. When I looked inside the sheet, I saw all sorts of tame and wild animals, reptiles, and birds. And I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.’  “‘No, Lord,’ I replied. ‘I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure or unclean.’ “But the voice from heaven spoke again: ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.’ This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven. “Just then three men who had been sent from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry that they were Gentiles. These six brothers here accompanied me, and we soon entered the home of the man who had sent for us. He told us how an angel had appeared to him in his home and had told him, ‘Send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He will tell you how you and everyone in your household can be saved!’ “As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning. Then I thought of the Lord’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.” [Acts 11:1-18]
  • All are baptized into one body – The ultimate lesson the apostles and early church learned is that all humans are your children through this New Covenant. Jesus bridged the gap and your Holy Spirit is available to us all: The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.  Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. [1 Corinthians 12:12-13]

So when I lift all of these references to Holy Spirit baptism out and look at them together, it makes me think back on Jesus’s prayer for us in John during the Last Supper story. When he prayed for future believers he said, “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. [John 17:21].” I think the Holy Spirit is our great counselor, teacher, and uniter. 

Father, I cannot imagine what a post-Jesus world would look like without Pentecost and the Holy Spirit arriving on the scene to baptize us all. I cannot imagine what my life would look like without the Holy Spirit. And I know that part of my job is to ensure that I continue to provide a heart with fertile soil that will not squelch the Spirit in my life, but provide the seeds he plants to thrive and grow into making my life what you need it to be. Thank you for your glory. Thank you for Jesus. And thank you for the Holy Spirit.

I pray all of this in worship of you through Jesus’s name,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2019 in 1 Corinthians, Acts, Matthew

 

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1 Corinthians 1:10

1 Corinthians 1:10
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.

Dear God, our town is known as a tough place to pastor. And that’s not just one denomination. The churches I know the best—Methodist, Catholic, Baptist, and Presbyterian—all have reputations among clergy as being particularly complicated and difficult. I’ve know more than one, spanning back 30 years, who have said that the church in our town was their most difficult one. I wonder why that it.

One possible common denominator is that a lot of the churched people here fall into two categories: 1.) Those that were born here, baptized here, married here, and will be buried here, and 2.) those who were accomplished in their careers and now are retired here.

For the first group, I think there is probably a strong sense of ownership of the church because they were there way before their respective pastor was and they will be there long after. They buck against outside leadership and lose sight of just being part of your body. The church means something else to them.

For the second group, I think they are used to being in control of things from their professional lives and now they are taking that approach in retirement and putting it into their church life.

I think there might be a third problem. I think there might be a lack of leadership training for clergy. Over the years, I’ve seen some pretty poor leaders try to gain “control” of their churches. This is almost always a foolish approach. They end up majoring in the minors and focusing on the wrong things. As I think about a current pastor who has done a really good job in his known-to-be-difficult church, I think one of his keys to success has been to pint everyone to you and then not sweat the small stuff.

Father, help me to know how to be an instrument of your peace. Make every action I take at church be about lifting you high and exalting Jesus. Help me to not join in the bashing (and forgive me for when I have joined in, because I have) and be a source of love (by all the definitions in 1 Corinthians 13) instead.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2019 in 1 Corinthians

 

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2 Corinthians 5:14b-15

2 Corinthians 5:14b-15
Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

Dear God, I’ve always struggled, ever since I was little, with my lack of ability to die to my old life. Not understanding how hard that can be when I was a child, I just thought that I hadn’t done it correctly the last time I tried to die to myself and accept you as my God and savior, so I would “walk the aisle” and do it again. I got saved a lot as a kid.

I guess there’s an addiction aspect to it. I live with an addiction to my human self. It’s a disease, I suppose. I want to be selfish. I want to see the world from my own point of view. I want to judge others to make me feel better about myself. I want to indulge my own desires. Maybe churches should redesign themselves to look more like 12-Step meetings: “Hi, my name is John and I’m a human.” “Hi, John.” My first step is to admit that my life has become unmanageable, I am powerless against my human flesh, and I need a higher power to restore me to sanity.

I was watching a show last night that had a character lose eight years of sobriety. They showed the shame and despair of that moment. He was devastated by his failure and the idea of starting over. He knew he needed his sobriety to live and it really embarrassed him to have to admit his failure to the ones he loves.

Father, help me to be the new creation you want me to be. Help me to admit I am STILL powerless and that I need you to either restore me to sanity or keep me sane at any given moment. Help me to share this message with others who need it.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2019 in 1 Corinthians

 

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1 Corinthians 15:50-58

1 Corinthians 15:50-58
50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.
51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,[a] this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Dear God, I prayed a few days ago about friends who are having health issues. Well, I have a couple to add to the list. One guy is about my age (40s) and just got diagnosed with cancer. I don’t know what kind, but he said on social media that is responds well to treatment.

I saw a Facebook post from him today that said all of the things that I would hope I would say in the face of, maybe not death, but certainly a difficult road of treatments ahead. He talked about his faith in you. He talked about his peace. He talked about the greatest commandments of loving you and loving others. It was really perfect. I am also sure that these times of faith will ebb and flow. His faith will probably be challenged and there will be moments where his words on social media will seem to him like someone else wrote them.

As I read this passage, I am thinking about him. I want you to please plant the seeds of those words deep into his heart so that they will truly grow and completely fill him.

I have other friends who are facing the imminent death of a parent. There is one in particular who is on my heart right now. Please be with his mother, his father, his siblings, him, and his entire family. These are all people of faith. Help them to truly embody the stingless-ness of death. Help them to feel your victory. Help them to find the path forward for their surviving parent. Help them, oh Lord.

Father, I give you praise, glory, and honor for all of this. Please be very present. As your eyes move to and fro throughout the earth, strongly support those whose hearts are completely yours (2 Chronicles 16:9).

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
 

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1 Corinthians 1:10-17

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas ”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

Dear God, there are a lot of things that come to mind as I read these passages. Of course, there’s the whole unity thing. But I guess what I’m thinking about is how people were apparently taking sides based upon who they liked best or baptized them. Apollos. Cephas. Paul. Christ (that group got it right—but it could have been for the wrong reason). There’s a pride that is implied with this that is cancerous.

I was reading a book last night, and the author was talking about the people from whom he has learned the most and the common theme among them was that they had the self assuredness they needed to be humble. They didn’t need to put others down. In fact, they were comfortable lifting others up. I hope I’m that kind of person.

Father, I know you love me and I’m grateful for that love. Help me to be willing to do anything you need me to do, even at my own expense, for the sake of your glory and the drawing of others closer to you. And help me to be united to my fellow Christians. Whether I follow “Baptist,” “Catholic,” “Methodist,” “Presbyterian,” etc., help all of us to work together so that your kingdom will come and your will will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2018 in 1 Corinthians

 

1 Corinthians 15:54-57

54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,[j] this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.[k]
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?[l]

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:

 

Dear God, I am struck by the phrase in verse 56, “the law gives sin its power.” The law is what we all want to gravitate towards. JUSTICE! RIGHT AND WRONG! YOU WRONGED ME! And then the shame of having done wrong comes with that as well. The law is what we use to set our parameters for society, but it’s also what we use to judge others and judge ourselves.

“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (verse 57) I had someone come up to me this week and say something negative about someone else. What this person didn’t realize is that people have said the same thing to me about them when they are not around. Where is the grace? As a leader at work, that’s probably one of the hardest things with which I have to deal—employees lightening the heck up and extending grace to one another. Maybe it’s because we need to receive that grace first.

Father, help me to completely receive your grace and then extend it to others. Help me to love you richly, receive your love richly, and then give your love richly. Help me to experience this grace so that the law that guides me might not own my soul.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen