Understanding the background context of Cortinthians

I have just finished reading the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians. I have been reading it for the last week or so as a part of my daily devotions.

The Book of 1 Corinthians really touches on some difficult areas. Just a quick scan of the chapter headings in the book show it talks about disunity in the church, spiritual pride, lawsuits among Christians, marriage problems, sexual sins, food sacrificed to idols, warning against idolatry, orderly public worship, the right use of spritual gifts and the resurrection of Christ. As you can see it covers some pretty heavy stuff!

Now on the surface you might think that this church is pretty messed up. It sure shows there is a lot going on! However when we do some background reading about the City of Corinth we find out why Paul is addressing these issues and why the church is in this place.

Corinth was one of Ancient Greece’s most important trade cities. It was located on the Isthmus of Corinth between the Ionian and Aegean Seas and was a connecting link between Rome and the East. Although Corinth was an ancient city it had been destroyed by Roman armies in 146BC and only had a small number of people who survived. In 44BC it was odered to be rebuilt under Julius Caeser.

Once rebuilt Corinth became a melting pot for more than 500,000 people from all walks of life. It was made up of merchants, sailors, professional gamblers, athletes who competed in the Isthmian Games, freed slaves and thousands of male and female prostitutes who served in one of the “temples”. Many people flocked to this city because of its freedom from rules and hedonistic lifestyle.

Most scholars agree that Paul planted the church at Corinth in 51AD with the help of Priscilla and Aquilla (Acts 18). He did this with the mix of the wide variety of people mentioned above.  Part of his work was to try and get the people to live together in harmony despite their national, social, economic and religious backgrounds. A truly huge job indeed!

When we understand a little of the context and background of the Book of 1 Corinthians we start to understand why Paul was quite direct on a number of issues and gave clear instructions. He was trying to bring people together from all backgrounds to truly follow Christ in unity.

After reading through the book over the last few weeks I have come away with a renewed sense of the huge task that faced Paul in bringing this diverse group people together as one under Christ.

I am also very aware of the importance of believing in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that we have good Biblical teaching in place and that we all need to love and serve one another from our hearts. When we do these things all the rest seems to fall into place.

God Bless,

Dave

Daddy can I revive my people

One of the questions I am often asked at home is, “Daddy, can I revive my people?’  This is my girls asking me in they can go on Facebook to feed or rest their people on the game Resturant City.

As I heard one of my daughter’s ask this question today though, I thought of God reviving His people – the church. The words quickly changed from “Daddy can I revive my people” to a prayer that asked, “Father, can You revive Your people.”

Like many Christians I long to see revival break out. I long to see people set on fire for God and living every moment of every day for Him and Him alone.

Perhaps today we can say the words of Psalm 85:6 “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” Let’s make it our prayer for today for Christians all over the world.

God Bless,

Dave

Re-tell the story

One of the best peices of advice I got about preaching from an older friend was this, “Just re-tell the story and do it in a simple way. If you preach Christ and the cross, you can’t go wrong”. That peice of advice has always stayed with me.

As I read 1 Corinthians chapter 2 this morning is sounded very similar to what Paul was saying in verses 1-5. It says…

1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

Paul’s heart was that people would put their faith in Christ. He didn’t want to have people look to him and his earthly wisdom. He wanted their faith to be focussed firmly on Christ and to be built upon a demonstration of the of the power of God’s Spirit.

If you are new to preaching and are not sure what to talk about. Why not take the advice that was given to me by a wise older saint. “Just re-tell the story and do it in a simple way. If you preach Christ and the cross, you can’t go wrong”.

The message of the cross

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God”.

I understand this statement completely. Before I came to Christ I didn’t believe in the cross and I didn’t think it had any power for salvation. I was like one of the people who scoffed at Noah as he built his ark. They didn’t believe that the ark could save them…until the rain came.

Now I do believe in the power of the cross of Christ. I believe that Christ’s death on the cross for me is the only way to find salvation (Acts 4:12, Romans 5:8). I realise that I am not good enough to make it to heaven on my own (Ephesians 2:8-9) and that I need to have Jesus as my Lord and Saviour (Romans 10:9-10).

The message of the cross has great power. It has the power to take you and I from an eternity without God, to eternity with God. Forever and ever and then much more time!

If you haven’t taken the step of asking Jesus Christ into your life, I would encourage you to do it today. Right now you can change your eternal destiny and begin a whole new journey with Christ. If you would like to ask Christ into your life, I would encourage you to visit my Peace with God page here.

God Bless,

Dave

Paul’s commitment to the Gentiles

In my daily reading today I came across Romans 15:17-22. In this section the Apostle Paul talks about his commitment to those outside the Jewish faith – the Gentiles.

We see that his heart was “to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation”. Earlier in the book of Romans we that Paul refers to himself as the “apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13).

Paul’s first focus was those outside the faith. His heart was to bring them to Christ and then plant them in a church. Once it was settled, he moved on to continue his work. Then in time he would either write to them or come back to encourage them in their faith.

Paul’s methods really are a great example for us today. He loved visiting and equipping churches, but his main focus was to those outside. I think we need more people to follow Paul’s example today. Perhaps it might be you?

How to be a living sacrifice

Romans 12:1 says, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him”.

Paul urges us to be a living sacrifices. To give our lives for God’s service. But how do we go about being a living sacrifice? If we read through the rest of chapter Romans 12 Paul gives us a few clues.

1. Renew our mind (v2) – this is a vital first step if we are wanting to live a life in God’s service. We need to line our hearts and minds up with God by reading the Bible and focusing on Godly pursuits (Philippians 4:8). The result is “you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect”.

2. Have a right opinion of ourselves (v3-5) – A part of being a living sacrifice means having a right view of yourself. It should not be too high or too low. We need to realise that we are all part of Christ’s body with a role to play. None are more or less important than others and we are all God’s gift to each other.

3. Use our gifts well (v6-8) – Paul tells us to use whatever gift God has given us to the best of our abilities. If it is to prophesy, teach, serve, give, show kindness or encourage we should do the best job we can. Paul also reminds us in verse 8 that we should serve others gladly.

4. Really love each other (v9-11) – I love the way the NLT puts it “Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them”. That is straight to the point! We love others in practical ways when we “hate what is wrong, stand on the side of good and love with genuine affection”. We love by serving them and by standing with people in times of trouble.

5. Be hospitable (v12-13) – Paul tells us to help those who are in need and to get into the habit of inviting people into our homes for meals or lodgings. Opening our homes is a simple way of being a living sacrifice and serving God with what we have.

6. Live in harmony (v14-20) – In the last section Paul urges us to live at peace with everyone. The NIV says as much as it depends on you. We should try to love and serve others even if they persecute us as Christians. God makes it very clear it is not our place to curse or take revenge. That is a big sacrifice at times and contrary to a worldly way of thinking.

7. Conquer evil with good (v21) – Paul finally finishes this section with a plea to not let evil overcome us, but we need to press on and overcome evil with good deeds. As I once heard it said, “Evil prospers when good people do nothing”. We need to not grow weary in doing good because the harvest is coming (Galatians 6:9-10).

As we can see from these things being a living sacrifice is about renewing our mind and then going on to do God’s will for our lives. He wants us to live in peace with those around, to love and serve others and to conquer the evil things that take place in this world by doing good.

Seeing yourself through the lens of Scripture

Hi all,

I have put a cut down version of my message online that I shared at Mukinbuddin Uniting Church this morning. It is a balance of Scripture and testimony and shows how God has transformed my negative view of myself to seeing myself through God’s eyes.

In it I share four Scriptures that God has used to radically transform my life and thinking. Each Scripture has built something into my life like bricks into a building.

Here’s the link http://www.passionaustralia.org/lensofscripture.html

God Bless,

Dave

Transforming your mind

I was just thinking about Romans chapter 12 verse 2 and how it tells us to renew and transform our minds.

In the NLT version of the Bible it says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect”.

Over the years I have known and memorised a lot of Bible verses. I have been able to quote them and share them with others to encourage them in the situation they are facing. However the ones that have really renewed my mind are the ones that have sunk deep into my heart first.

I find that my mind is renewed when I learn a Scripture, meditate on it and really allow the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart through it. When it sinks deep into my heart and does its work there, it eventually makes its way back to my mind and renews it.

This weekend I will be speaking about four verses that have renewed my mind in the area of self esteem. Or more precisely, changing my view of myself, from a very poor low self esteem to seeing myself through the lens of Scripture and seeing God’s esteem for me.

Over the years these four verses have transformed my heart as I have come to really understand them and then they have renewed my mind. I really am a different person as a result of God’s work within me. If you are interested I will put a full version of my message online on Monday.

God Bless,

Dave

Paul’s commitment to the Gospel 2

I was reading Romans 9 and I found another amazing example of Paul’s commitment to the Gospel. In verses 1-3 of the chapter he says…

With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.

Paul says he would be willing to lose his own salvation if he knew it would mean his people (the Jews) would be saved. That is a huge thing to say. But from Paul’s life you know it is more than words.

This is the same guy that said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Paul’s commitment to the Gospel never ceases to amaze me. He was a full on and fully committed to the task of sharing God’s love and saving message for all mankind.

Reading the Bible with new eyes

One of the things I have really noticed this year as I am reading one chapter a day of the Bible is that I am reading with new eyes. I think this is because of my Bible college studies I did last year.

It is almost like a have a new filter in place as I read. In many ways I am reading each chapter through the lens of my Bible studies. All the units I took, all the lectures I listened to, all the text books I read, all the assignments I wrote and all the discussions I had have re-shaped me and how I see Scripture.

As a result of my studies I have found that as I am reading I feel more connected to the story and to the people in it. More often that not I feel like an obeserver who is walking along side them all. Listening and learning (or re-learning) as I go. I find I am able to understand the people and the situation better because of the background studies I have done.

It is an amazing feeling that even though I have been a Christian for nearly 20 years, the Bible can still feel so new and fresh to me as I read. Going back to Bible college last year really helped me to learn more about the Bible and it also gave me a new love and appreciation for this great Holy Book we call the Bible.

If you haven’t done any Bible studies in a while, perhaps you can check out some of the free courses at ChristianCourses.com? They might just give you a new love and appreciation for the Bible too!

God Bless,

Dave