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Posts Tagged ‘Corinthian church’

Verse 11: “For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

“Don’t get in trouble!” “Don’t do that, it’ll hurt!” We’ve heard those phrases before; now how about these:

“Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.” That quote was from the late Rep. John Lewis from atop the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL on March 1, 2020. https://www.al.com/news/2020/07/get-in-good-trouble-famous-quotes-from-the-late-john-lewis.html . He was speaking of the type of trouble one would encounter confronting injustice, but not backing away from the confrontation. I thought about that phrase when I read the Holman New Testament Commentary on I & II Corinthians on 2 Cor. 7. It, too, made reference to a story about visiting people in the hospital and the term “good pain”…that when suffering “temporary agony that leads to the discovery and eradication of a disease is really a blessing.” (pg. 385 of the above book).

You wouldn’t normally associate “trouble” and “pain” with the adjective “good”. Likewise, you would think that someone who had been reprimanded wouldn’t feel better about the experience. But here, Paul is complimenting the Corinthian church for repenting and learning from their past sin and the sorrow that was caused. Paul even listed the benefits gained in verse 11 from the lesson they had learned. Therefore, the reprimand produced good fruit in the church.

When I used to officiate football, I learned some things correctly, but in my zeal to know more, I talked more that I listened. I had a veteran referee on a long “away game” have a talk with me about it. Yes, what he said stung my pride, but he was right. I learned from it, and became a better official because of it. I also came to value his wisdom very much in officiating matters, so that I would use him as a barometer to make sure I was learning correctly.

How about you, Christian? Do you learn from God’s correction? Remember, He does it because He loves us, and wants us to grow in Him.

Something to think about.

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Verse 7: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”

Dr. Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus, was always one of my favorite Spider-Man villains. Otto was slightly overweight, was not in very good shape, and had to wear glasses; however, he commanded a set of robotic arms that allowed him to go toe-to-toe with Marvel super-heroes like Spider-man and Mister Fantastic. Though he was a brilliant scientist and unparalleled expert in radiation (that fact admitted by Reed Richards with no shame), his weakness was that his human body couldn’t stand the abuse he’d take in a fight if his adversary made it through the defense of his robotic tentacles. His great power (the incredible robot-arm harness) was grafted to a frail body that was very human.

Paul is explaining to the Corinthian church about the light of God in his life as well as their fellow Christians. The power of God, used by disciples in acts of healing, was not of them though. Paul wanted to stress that having God’s power in his life didn’t turn him superhuman; he was all but subject to the frailties of the human body and its weaknesses. Paul wanted to make sure they knew that this treasure, the light of God through Jesus Christ our Savior, was from God and not themselves. He compared the human body to an earthen vessel….temporary…common…and subject to breaking.

That way, as he stated, “the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”

Something to think about.

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Verses 2-3: “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”

We need to give thought to what kind of legacy we show to others. Have you ever heard of Howard Odell? Chances are, unless you are a die-hard University of Washington fan, you probably don’t know him. Odell was the head football coach of the Huskies from 1948 to 1952. Among one of his assistants he had at the time was Don Coryell, who later went on to fame in the NFL of the San Diego Chargers. Coryell once had an assistant there named Ray Perkins. Perkins later coached the New York Giants and had two assistants of note: Bill Parcells, who succeeded him as head coach, and Bill Belichick, who served under Perkins and Parcells. Now you’re probably recognizing some names; if not, please read on. Belichick is the current longtime head coach of the New England Patriots and had an assistant who later went on to lead not one but two different college football teams to win the national championship. I think even the most casual football fan recognizes his name: Nick Saban.

What a coaching tree that is, rooted in a man named Howard Odell. Other famous coaches have similar trees: Nick Saban himself, Bear Bryant, Tom Landry, Bill Walsh, just to name a few.

What about the legacy of a man named Edward Kimball? Try this on for thought:
Sunday School teacher Edward Kimball helped lead Dwight L. Moody to Christ;
J. Wilbur Chapman was converted at a Dwight L. Moody evangelistic meeting;
Billy Sunday was converted at a Chapman meeting;
Mordecai Ham was converted at Billy Sunday meeting;
and Billy Graham was converted at a Ham meeting.

And yes, we mean THAT Billy Graham! That list was sourced from https://sermons.faithlife.com/sermons/84109-from-moody-to-graham

Paul here is commenting on the false prophets who upset the Corinthian church; among some of the things they tried to do to justify their reputation was to produce false letters of recommendation. Paul is stating here that he never needed such letters, because the Corinthian converts “are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”

Think about the legacy you’re leaving. Are you sowing seeds today that will help produce a harvest for Christ?

Something to think about.

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Verse 14: “Let all that you do be done with love.”

We are truly living in strange times in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has altered our daily lives like few things have in many decades. But amongst all the worry and dark times, there are some signs to see and to have hope in. Let me share one with you that happened to me.

I work for a company that now has me working remotely from home. I had to contact my internet service provider to talk about a change in my hotspot allowance I had noticed (it had gone up!). With their local offices closed, I had to stay online for about 20 minutes waiting to “chat” with a technician. After I connected with a woman who answered all my questions about how my hotspot allowance had expanded (the ISP was doing this as a way of helping most folks having to work on computer from home) and that it didn’t cost me any extra on my bill, she was about to disconnect our conversation when God encouraged me to ask her quickly, “How are y’all doing right now in all this?”

She at first replied with the usual “it’s been hectic and we’re doing the best we can”. We talked a couple minutes more, and I thanked her, telling her she had been most helpful. Though they were words on a screen to me, I could tell that it really hit home in a good way for her. I could almost hear her emotions, thanking me for my patience and my calm demeanor and my encouragement. I’ve worked with customer service people before and I know that the delay wasn’t her fault; they had been swarmed since the outbreak with callers, some of them hostile. But, at this moment, I genuinely wanted to let her know that we’ll be okay, and that things will get better…we’ll make it through. Somehow, I had the feeling that Jesus had me on that conversation with this particular person at the right time. She just needed to know…that someone cared.

Paul closes 1 Corinthians with many last blessings and requests, but he reminds the church to “let all that you do be done with love.”

Today, and tomorrow, and the day after, show Jesus’s love to someone. We all need that love right now!

Something to think about.

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Verse 8: “Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of time.”

In the movie The Avengers, in the scene where Captain America first faces off against Loki in Stuttgart, Germany, Loki addresses him as “The soldier. The man out of time.” Those who know the origin of Captain America will remember that, although he fought in World War II, due to a freak accident, he was frozen into suspended animation, and thawed out alive in the modern day. I was reminded of that scene when I read today’s verse.

My wife and I have sometimes discussed how, compared to a lot of modern society, we feel out of place due to our old-fashioned upbringing and morals. Sometimes, we have reminisced about how it be interesting to go back in time and see how society was: the society where our morals and standards would fit in more.

Paul is reciting to the Corinthian church about all the eyewitnesses to seeing the risen Savior. He mentions he was last to see Him, as if he was born out of time (the NIV translation says of one being abnormally born). He goes on to mention that he considers himself the least of the apostles because of his history. But, remember, Jesus forgave him. He used Paul to become one of the greatest missionaries to ever walk the earth (literally walk!)

The next time you feel like someone who’s “out of time”, remember God has you at the exact point in history that He wants you. Especially in the strange times in which we are living, remember: we may be the only example of Jesus others need to see…a light in a dark world.

Something to think about.

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Verse 1: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”

My wife and I got involved in a puppy-raiser program for a guide dog school; this school would breed puppies to become guide dogs for blind people. From 3 months old to 1 year, families would take the puppies into their homes, raise them, care for them, teach them basic obedience and commands (with school help, of course), socialize them, and love them. We had a 3-month old Labrador puppy named Elcon to raise; Elcon had plenty of personality! We were despairing if we would make it through the nine months as Elcon just wasn’t “getting” the basic obedience part. Our best friends were a couple who were raising a puppy as well alongside the wife’s guide dog (the wife was blind). They suggested we bring Elcon over and have a group obedience session. When they would give their dogs a command, they would obey. Elcon began seeing this and started imitating their behavior. It wasn’t long before Elcon started obeying commands very well…the trick was his imitating the behavior of other dogs doing the same commands.

Paul was concluding the previous chapter in his letter to the Corinthian church, encouraging the flock to serve Christ and live their lives as Christ lived His on earth. He wanted them to be concerned with the salvation of others, and to live their lives to reflect that. Having done that himself, he was urging them to imitate the way he lived his life, because he lived his life to imitate the life of Christ.

Remember, we may be the only Jesus some people see; these same people may never enter a church building or open a Bible. So whom do people see? Do they see you…or do they see Jesus?

Something to think about.

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Verse 13: “”No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

In the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Lt. Saavik, a Vulcan-Romulan Starfleet cadet, is questioning Admiral Kirk about a leadership test she feels she failed. The Kobayashi Maru was a battle scenario designed to be “the no-win situation” and test cadets on how they respond to it. Captain Spock, later in private conversation with Kirk, reminds the admiral that Kirk took the test 3 times, before his 3rd try was graded passing. Later on in the movie, on an actual mission, Kirk and his landing party have been seemingly marooned by Kirk’s old enemy, Khan Noonien Singh (brilliantly played by the great Ricardo Montalban). Saavik again questions Kirk on how he did on the test when he was a cadet.

Dr. McCoy: Lieutenant, you are looking at the only Starfleet cadet who beat the no-win scenario (points at Kirk).
Lt. Saavik: How?
Admiral Kirk: I reprogrammed the simulation so that it was possible to rescue the ship.
Lt. Saavik: What?
David Marcus: (scoffs) He cheated.
Admiral Kirk: Changed the conditions of the test. Got a commendation for original thinking. I don’t like to lose.
Lt. Saavik: Then you’ve never faced that situation…faced death.
Admiral Kirk: I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.

The scene continues with Kirk proving his point by surprising everyone with contacting Captain Spock and getting rescued, which they alluded over an open channel would take days to accomplish (since they knew Khan would be listening in on communications).

The devil loves to use temptation against Christians, especially to make them think they’re strong enough to resist on their own. He delights in watching trapped Christians wallow in what they think is a no-win situation, that there is no way out. As Paul stated to the Corinthians (remember, he was admonishing the Corinthian believer who might think he was strong enough to participate in pagan religious functions, yet not compromise his Christian walk) that God was and is always faithful to provide a way out. Sometimes that way is another combative technique or a strategic maneuver. Sometimes, like in Joseph’s case, it’s just to run like the wind away from the temptation! But there’s never a no-win situation: God provided a way out for us.

His name is Jesus Christ.

Something to think about.

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Verse 16: “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.”

Chief Martin Brody had had a hard day. Between dealing with the mayor of Amity and the politics of not hurting the island’s tourist business and the more serious matter of convincing people that they had a shark problem on their hands (after the deaths that had occurred), he was worn. At home, after supper while his wife was putting away dishes, the chief sat at the table with his young son, Sean. He took a drink from his glass, and so did Sean. He put his head in his hands, and so did Sean. His wife paused at the kitchen door, watching this interplay. Brody then finally cut his eyes toward his son and realized he was imitating him. He interlocked his fingers, and Sean followed suit. He flexed his fingers and so did Sean. Then he slowly made a mean face with his hands and Sean, in his little boy way, tried to do the same…the result was a funny little face. The chief leaned over to him and said “Come here.” Sean leaned over and the Brody said “give us a kiss”. “Why?” Sean asked innocently. After a pause, the chief said, “because I need it.” Sean kissed his daddy on the cheek, and shortly thereafter was sent up to bed. Despite the weary load he carried, Brody knew he was still a hero in his son’s eyes…all because of his imitation of him.

The above scene was from the blockbuster movie Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg. While watching the clip on Youtube, I read a post from someone who claimed that this scene took place between shots, and was not even in the script at the time. Spielberg, when he saw it, filmed it and put it in the movie. (Again, this was from an unsubstantiated post, but it would be neat if it was true).

An oft old axiom goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” For children who love their parents, it is normally a sign of their love that they imitate what they do. Paul here was urging the Corinthian church, who he called “his children” to imitate him…not imitate false leaders. He wanted them to adhere to the true Gospel and more, to adopt the humility that he showed, not the false pride they seemed to be displaying. Of course, this meant they would be called “fools” by the world, but that was what Paul was called for the sake of spreading the Gospel (references here from my Holman Concordance on I & II Corinthians, and my Holman Bible footnotes).

So whom are you imitating today?

Something to think about today.

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Verse 1: “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.”

Reed Richards awakened in a predicament. He and his family in the Fantastic Four had defeated their enemies, the Frightful Four, despite the fact that Reed had lost his stretching powers. But in a brazen move, the Brute dragged Reed into the Negative Zone chamber of their Baxter Building headquarters, knocked him out, took on his costume, and cast him into the Negative Zone. You see, the Brute was really the Reed Richards of Counter-Earth, who had been rendered evil by a concussion when he received his brutish form and strength via cosmic rays. He had stolen Reed’s costume to impersonate him on this Earth, since he could change back to his lookalike appearance (this took place in the Marvel comic Fantastic Four, Vol. 1, issue 179, the synopsis can be found at http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Fantastic_Four_Vol_1_179)

Fear and panic begin to grip Reed, but he snapped out of it, calling on his military survival training. Making his way to a floating asteroid, he managed to start a fire with some flint-like stones. Attracting some of the flying bat-like creatures of the zone with the fire light, Reed was able to use a rock to knock one down, kill it, and cook it on the fire. As he surmised, now that he had taken care of basic needs like food, warmth, and protection by the fire, he could now train his great intellect on what had happened…and how he could escape his predicament.

You see, in order to tackle more difficult topics, Reed Richards had to take care of basic needs first. The word carnal has several definitions, but the basic one has to do with things of the physical body.

Paul was explaining here that he truly wished to speak with the Corinthian church on spiritual matters and issues, but they weren’t mature enough yet. He called them carnal, like spiritual babes. Even though he had brought them to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, they were still too carnal, too not-ready, to receive Paul’s teachings on spiritual things. They still were behaving with “envy, strife, and divisions”…thus were they still carnal. He repeated the point that some still argued their allegiances to him and others to Apollos, instead of to Christ. You might say he was telling them, “you haven’t graduated yet!”

You see, in order to tackle more spiritual teaching, Paul had to get the church past the carnal stage.

As we begin this new year of 2019, I pray that you all (myself included) would seek God and His wisdom to grow in Him, and graduate from church kindergarten, so to speak.

Something to think about.

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Verses 4-5: “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

There is no better feeling than when you are used by God, and through His power, not your own.

Our church choir recently performed our annual Christmas program. We are blessed with a very knowledgeable, talented, and experienced music minister (blessed by God), who often picks out various pieces of different styles for our choir to sing. We finished the program with a magnificent operatic arrangement of Christ is Born; the lead solos were 4 men, and the music minister had asked me to be the 2nd tenor solo in this piece. Now, without bragging, I’ve sung solos before and I believe I have a pretty good voice; but nothing in my experience had prepared me for the challenge of this solo. Our music minister (bless his heart) worked with me and drilled me a lot on operatic style of belting out this solo, from pronunciation to breathing techniques. Come performance night, I was anxious. What’s more, the Christ is Born piece was at the END of a 40-minute program. I had some water hidden under my chair and took sips when I could. Come time to walk down, I bent over to grab one last sip…and turned over the cup! (not to worry, it didn’t spill through the lid). However, I had no time to get one more swig of water.

It was at that point, that I prayed quickly, “ok, Lord, it’s all on You, because I can’t sing this with my voice this tired on my own.” It’s funny, it felt almost like God said back to me, “I’ve got this, I’m all you need.” I went out and sang with all my heart; God blessed my efforts. I had several compliments from folks and my music minister later told my wife that I did great! All glory to God! (oh, and by the way, God had me again that night when we sang a 2nd performance of this same program not more than one hour later!)

I tell you all this to remind you what Paul was doing. I have always admired Paul for his eloquence of argument and his speaking abilities, but I forgot (until I read this passage) that he was relying on the Lord to give him the power to address the Corinthian congregation here. That church was starting to slip back into relying on human wisdom, and Paul reminded them that the real power, the real wisdom, comes from the Holy Spirit!

Just remember an old adage I’ve heard before and is appropriate here: let go and let God!

Something to think about.

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