Putting God's Word into Practice…

1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Unworthy Manner

Taking communion (the Lord’s supper, the eucharist, the bread and cup) together as a body of believers is supposed to be a symbol that unifies the body and points it to Christ.  In Corinth, the times of communion were dividing people into social classes–the rich were humiliating the poor by basing their sharing on outward appearances.  Paul said they were despising the church!  Taking communion together should remind us that there is common ground at the cross; that freedom and forgiveness is for all without favoritism.  When someone truly understands grace, mistreating others is not an option.  

Another way the church was taking the bread and cup in an unworthy manner was by putting self first.  It is called the “Lord’s supper,” not “my supper!”  The Lord’s supper is about receiving not taking.  Verse 23 says, “On the night he was betrayed took bread.”  Think about that!  He was about to be betrayed and handed over to people who would beat Him, mock Him, spit on Him, tear out His beard, and nail Him to a cross.  Yet, Jesus gave thanks and gave the bread and cup as a symbol of Him giving His life.  That’s my Jesus–give, give, give!  By fixing our eyes on Jesus, we take self out of the equation and can receive in a worthy manner.

There are consequences to taking the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner.  It results in guilt, judgment, and discipline from the Lord.  And Paul also says that physical discipline is probable–weakness, illness and death.

So, how can we take communion in a worthy manner?  Humbly examine and truthfully discern our hearts in light of Jesus’ sacrifice, and put others first.  Eating and drinking goes to the inside of our body and nurtures it.  Christ’s sacrifice was not to make us look good on the outside but to purify and cleanse us within!

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1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Gender and Marriage in the Church

This section of Scripture has always been difficult for me to read–mostly I like to skim it and move on.  I have even taken offense to these verses before and deemed them irrelevant to modern tradition.  Upon reading this time, God showed me afresh His design for man and woman, marriage and His own example of being in authority.

In verse 3 it says that man is the head of woman, Jesus is the head of man, and God is the head of Jesus. Let’s just start with God and Jesus.  They are equal in power and value and deity, yet God is the head of Christ.  Christ is not offended by this, and we shouldn’t be as wives either!  Everyone has a head!  Any body without a head is not alive!  The Head exercises leadership and authority in a way that sacrificially and lovingly cares for the needs of those under their authority.  God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to die for our sins-take our punishment (John 3:16).  Jesus so loved the Father and us that He willingly and humbly laid down His own life as a ransom for us (Philippians 2:5-8, 1 Timothy 2:5-6).  It is a husband’s role to love his bride like Jesus loves the church–giving up himself for her, cleansing her, presenting her in splendor and holiness without spot or blemish, nurturing her and cherishing her (Ephesians 5:25-33).  The wife’s role is to respect her husband and yield to his authority.  Sounds so simple, yet can be so hard (Ephesians 5:22-24, 33).  Think about that word, “yield.”  What happens at an intersection when someone doesn’t yield?  There is an accident that causes injury and damage.  Is the car that yields less important than the one that goes ahead?  By no means, the yielding car is the car that preserves safety and order by putting others first.

Men and women are both made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  Woman was made in God’s image, but was taken from man and made for man.  Women was not taken from man and made for him to be his doormat or slave, but to complete and compliment Him.  Man is alone and incomplete without woman.  Man and woman are a perfect fit for each other. 

Men and women are interdependent.  Although the first woman was created out of man, man’s future existence is only capable through woman.  God has given the role of child-bearer to woman, and it is a unique, high and noble role!  In His sovereign plan, God has given men and women different roles and abilities.  He created us male and female.  Our gender is a specifically designed gift from God for His glory.

The church of God is a place where people ought not debate these things! (11:16)

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How to Survive the Ministry for Pastor’s Wives–Karen Waddles

I went to the breakout session at True Woman that was specifically for wives of pastor’s.  That was a room full of tired women!  Karen asked us to share in a small group if we felt like we were sinking, surviving or thriving in ministry.  Thankfully, God has led me to a place of thriving in ministry.  My heart is full of gratitude and joy over the call He gave to my husband and the work God is doing building His church.  It hasn’t always been that way.  There have definitely been seasons of weariness, anger, disillusionment, discouragement and bitterness.  Both of the ladies in my group said they were somewhere between sinking and surviving–because of either hurts done to their family by church members or discouragement over lack of holiness/disobedience in their church.

Karen said that statistically, 80% of pastor’s wives wish their husband would leave full-time ministry.  Last week I heard James MacDonald say that pastors are leaving the ministry by the thousands. (Wish I could be more specific, but I can’t remember the number he gave!)  What a shame that these men who have been called and chosen by God as His instruments of truth in this world are walking away, quitting.  Maybe it is because there is no one at home cheering them on–no place of safety and security and support.

There are four areas where wives can support their pastor/husband that Karen mentioned.

  • Ministry of discernment
  • Ministry of silence
  • Ministry of prayer
  • Ministry of love

If we pray through those, I believe God will show us exactly what they mean and what they would look like in each of our individual lives.

The final thing that impacted me deals with how we relate to the people in our churches.  Obviously not everyone is a perfect match for friendship, but do we really LOVE them.  Like Karen, I often think that the people that I am hurt by or disappointed with that God must feel the same way about them–NO WAY!  He loves them as much as He loves me!  Lord, help me to see everyone how you see them!  Help me to offer love and grace unconditionally.  Help me to cheer every step forward in people’s lives and not condemn the steps backward (as Janet Parshall put it).

A final quote by John Calvin:  “When we look back on our life from the perspective of eternity, we are going to see that the power of Satan was so great, that the weakness of our flesh was so feeble, and the hostility of the world was so strong that every day of our lives–if God had not intervened-we would never had made it through a day.”  THAT’S GRACE! And we ALL need it every single day!

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True Woman 2012–Seeking Him Together for Spiritual Awakening

I really don’t even know where to start with this!  On Saturday I returned from the True Woman conference in Indianapolis where over 8,200 women collectively called on God to revive our individual lives, homes, churches, cities and nations for three days.  In the weeks leading up to the conference, God called me to pray for our women (28 ladies and a baby) to be moved to weep over our spiritual condition and to return to the Lord and to pursue His power and presence with fresh, unashamed passion. HE DID THAT FOR ME!  (As I process all I learned I will share it in the coming days.)

On the first night, Nancy Leigh DeMoss spoke to the theme of seeking God together.  God wants us to seek Him!  He put us in the time and place that we are so we will do just that (Acts 17:26-27).  He initiates the desire in our hearts to seek Him (Psalm 27:8).  How will I respond?  Will I seek Him intentionally (1 Chronicles 22:19), wholeheartedly (Psalm 119:10), continually (1 Chronicles 16:11)?  

So many things keep me from seeking the Lord in the way that He desires and asks of me.  I get busy with my family, with ministry, with life.  I am easily distracted with technology–facebook, blogging, emails, etc…I choose other avenues for my spare time that gratify and comfort me.  And sometimes, it is just plain old weariness that gets in the way of me seeking the Lord.  He revealed to my heart that I give up too easily–I get discouraged and don’t persevere.  In her message, Nancy Leigh DeMoss said that we are either seeking or forsaking the Lord at any given time. Wow! That cuts to the heart!

When we seek the Lord, there are many great rewards. Psalm 40:16 says that seeking brings rejoicing and gladness because we see the greatness of the Lord.  Lamentations 3:25 says when we seek the Lord we are reminded that He is good!  He promises to revive the hearts of those who seek Him in Psalm 69:32.  Psalm 34:10 promises that those who seek Him lack no good thing.  God also assures us that those who seek Him WILL find Him in Jeremiah 29:13.  What a great God!  The promises to those who seek Him should make all other options fade away!

When the message closed the song that started playing was “Shout to the Lord.”  That is an older praise song that was commonly used 13 years ago when I first gave my life to Jesus. When God called me and sought me in 1999, “Shout to the Lord,” was my favorite song.  I sang it with passion and conviction every time it came on the radio or was sung in church.  I haven’t heard it for years.  That song following that message broke my heart over God’s persistent grace!  He was seeking me 13 years ago, and He is still seeking my heart.  How could I possibly hold back from seeking Him with my whole heart, intentionally and continually?!  He never stops seeking us…If you are reading this, may God use it to remind you that He is seeking you and calling you to seek Him.  How will you respond?

Psalm 27:8 You have said, “Seek my face.”  My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

Shout to the Lord all the earth let us sing…power and majesty, praise to the King…mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of Your Name…I sing for joy at the work of Your hands…forever I’ll love you, forever I’ll stand…nothing compares to the promise I have in You!

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1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1 On Par not Partaking

Partaking:  In verses 14-22 Paul wrote the Corinthians about fleeing from idolatry.  If we walk it back to verse 7, Paul wrote them to not be idolaters like the Israelites who made an idol and sacrificed to it, then had a great celebration of eating, drinking and playing.  In Exodus 32 it says they were shouting, singing and dancing.  Those acts are all ways that God has given His people to worship Him for His glory.  They were taken away from God and given to man-made idols.  It invoked his jealousy (righteous concern over truth and glory) and anger.  During Paul’s day in Corinth, the pagan religious centers were also banquet halls where people indulged in revelry and partook of food knowingly sacrificed to idols.  Paul is saying to run from that evil.  By engaging in the pagan temple meals they were in essence sitting at the table of the Devil.

On Par (On an equal level):  In verses 23-11:1 Paul is contrasting intentionally partaking in pagan activity with setting aside liberties and laws to eat with unbelievers in hopes of leading them to Jesus.  In so doing, they are seeking what is helpful, what builds up–in essence, they are seeking love (8:1)!  Love seeks the good of a neighbor above self and seeks to please others and give them advantages that they might be saved!  This is people pleasing to the glory of God!  It is not pleasing them so the “love-giver” will be liked but so God will be glorified!

Being on par with our culture and not partaking of our culture is the difference between being around people who sin and willfully paying money to be entertained by sin.  A small example is cursing–unwholesome talk.  We can go to a friends house for dinner and endure hearing curse words for the sake of the gospel.  This takes perseverance.  But it is not helpful or uplifting to pay to see a movie full of cursing for our own enjoyment.  This makes us partakers in sin.  Another example is having a glass of wine or a beer with dinner at a friend or relatives house verses purposefully going to a bar with the desire to get drunk.

The end of this chapter gives the overarching theme and filter for all activities.  “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God…that many may be saved!”

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1 Corinthians 10:1-13 ~ Overthrown

Paul just finished writing about how easy it is to be disqualified spiritually by losing self-control.  He goes on to remind us that God graciously gave us in His Word the history of the Israelites as our example and instruction.  Excuse (or enjoy) the alliteration!  The Israelites encountered the presence of God, His power and protection.  They were partakers of His promises to Moses.  And they experienced His perfect provision for their hunger and thirst. YET, they displeased God and were overthrown in the wilderness.

How were they overthrown?  They became idolaters, indulged in sexual immorality, they tested the Lord by not believing He is who He says and does what He promises, and they grumbled.  (Wait a minute, what was that last one?!)

Paul went on to remind us that we are ALL capable of falling in those ways.  When we think we are standing strong, we are more prone to fall into temptation. Paul also assured us that GOD IS FAITHFUL in temptation!  He provides a way out!  Will we decide to fix our eyes on the Lord and trust His promises, or will we make our own way?  Will we joyfully surrender to His way-trusting His goodness and perfect plan for us, or will we complain, grumble and doubt?  God allowed the Israelites to escape the Egyptian army by passing through the Red Sea on dry land.  Could He not also move them through the wilderness and into the Promised Land by His powerful protection and provision?

For me personally, I get up early and go to into our spare bedroom to meet with God through prayer and reading His Word.  Then my family wakes up and the demands of the day start pressing in on me seemingly from all directions, and I am overthrown!  I don’t respond in a way that pleases God and it is as though I have forgotten who He is, the promises He has made, and the past provision He has given.  He is and has all I need to pass through my days without falling into temptation–especially for me in the area of grumbling!  I can endure each day with grace and joy because my God is faithful!

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1 Corinthians 9 ~ Avoiding Spiritual Disqualification

In Chapter 8 Paul told the church members in Corinth to lay down their rights in the name of love.  Chapter 9 displays Paul’s willingness to lay down his rights for the sake of the gospel.  Being a “minister” of the good news of Jesus is a great privilege–selfishly hanging onto our petty rights shouldn’t even measure as a sacrifice in regard to so great a calling and gift. Does eating good meat (chapter 8) mean more to us than loving and rescuing people for Christ?

Paul ended this chapter with a great analogy to the life of ministry being like a race, and we like runners.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and keep it under control lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Back in verse 19 Paul wrote that he made himself a servant of all in order that he might win more of them–save people.  The human soul is eternal–it goes on forever.  Pointing people to the Savior-Jesus Christ–and seeing them allow their lives to be transformed by Him is a great reward and prize.  A saved soul is an eternal reward!  Is that the prize for which we are running?  Are we even running at all–or just sort of limping along, maybe overcome with personal injuries or weariness?  How many leaders of the gospel are laying lifeless along the course of ministry?

As a runner (probably more of a jogger!), I see great parallels in preparing, running and finishing a race without being a casualty along the way.

  1. Lay down all rights and entitlement.  Work hard for what is of value. (19-23)
  2. Directed and determined. (26)  When I trained for a half-marathon, I used a training schedule.  People who are aimless, probably won’t finish well.
  3. Diligent–don’t stop!
  4. Disciplined; controlled (25, 27).  It’s the day-in and day-out obedience and faithfulness that finishes the race well.
  5. Undistracted. (24) We cannot take our eyes off the finish line.  What would happen in a marathon, if the runner stopped at every Starbucks along the way?
  6. Focus on the finish line–the eternal reward. We are such temporal people. We easily accept the perishable rewards of man’s approval, comfort, or self-gratification.  True fulfillment is crossing the finish line, seeing Jesus and having Him say, “Well done,” and seeing the people there in heaven who’s lives were forever changed because of the ministry of the gospel lived out in your race and mine.

To avoid disqualification in the race, we must stay focused and self-controlled, laying aside anything that threatens to derail us, and run!

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1 Corinthians 8 Knowledge Vs. Love

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1b).  When I think of the phrase “puffs up,” I picture a giant air-filled blob.  It reminds me of those camp water blobs in lakes–one person is on it, another jumps onto it and the first flies off.  Having knowledge only is dis-unifying–there is only room for one!  It is soft and mushy.  It is deflatable when there are holes in it and pop-able when it is too full!  Knowledge can hurt others and is not absolute.  Whereas, love builds up.  It is strong, reliable, unbending, powerful, unifying, and helpful.

Absolute truths we must know:  There is one God, the Father from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist (6). And if anyone loves God, he is known by God (3).  When we belong to God, loving HIm and loving others is our first priority.

This chapter is speaking to food.  The people of Corinth would sacrifice choice animals to idols, but there was good meat left on the bone, so the pagan priests would sell it in the market.  Some believers “knew” they had a right to buy good meat even though it was offered to idols because the idols were not real and therefore the sacrifice was void.  Others “knew” that this was a violation against the one true God and felt it to be disrespectful.   Paul gives a news flash in verse 8:  Food will not commend us to God!

God is not concerned with rules–God doesn’t love rules, HE LOVES PEOPLE!  If what we “know” and act on causes someone else to stumble, we are behaving in an unloving matter and in so doing, sinning against Christ (12).  True love lays down personal rights for the greater good of the body of Christ!

Love is the first commandment and priority of every believer–it is over all!  God cares more about love than knowledge.  So in the battle of knowledge verses love:  Love wins!

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1 Corinthians 7 ~ Tips and Truths for Marriage

Tip #1 (vs. 1-9).  Give your body to your spouse! Withholding sex will quickly ruin a marriage.  When we withhold sexual intimacy from our spouse, (Notice the word spouse–sex with anyone that is not a spouse is sin.) it opens the door for Satan to come in and destroy marriage.  Marriage is the picture that God has given to the world to display the good news that Jesus–like a husband–loves and sacrificed unconditionally for His people as His bride.  Sins like selfishness, rage, unforgiveness, bitterness, lack of self-control, pornography, and infidelity come from withholding intimacy.

Tip #2 (vs. 10-24).  Divorce is not an option!  God uses imperfect marriages to display forgiveness, grace, unconditional love, holiness, peace, and faithfulness.  There is more at stake in our marriages that we can even imagine.

Truth #1 (25-28). Marriage is filled with worldly troubles.  Don’t be surprised that marriage is hard.  It requires sacrifice, endurance and humility.

Truth #2 (29-31).  Marriage is momentary.  In comparison to eternity, marriage is but a moment.  When we fix our eyes on eternity it will keep us from being anxious about worldly troubles.  

Truth #3 (32-35).  Marriage is secondary only to pleasing the Lord.  We must care more about pleasing God than our spouse.  On the reverse, as a wife it is important that my husband knows that it is my joy to free him up to please God first even if it inconveniences me.

Truth #4 (36-38).  Marriage is not necessary or always advantageous.  If you are unmarried, searching for a spouse should not be your number one goal in life.  There is actually more ease and freedom in living and pleasing and working for the Lord in singleness.  Live for the Lord and trust Him to do what is best for you–giving you a spouse in His time or keeping your undivided devotion for Himself.

Truth #5 (39-40). Marriage is binding for life!  “‘Til death due us part,” is not a manmade vow, but a God-ordained plan for marriage.  Think heavily on that prior to marriage and even more heavily when times get tough and throwing in the towel seems justifiable.

***I know a lot of what I’ve written is unpopular and probably undesirable to many.  However, it is God’s Word, and I stand boldly on His truth and wisdom.  This is the foundation for a supernatural marriage!

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1 Corinthians 6 — Grateful for Grace

There are many things that I could write about from this chapter in regard to lawsuits among believers and sexual immorality’s affect on our bodies.  (Our body’s are actually Christ’s because He bought them, so sexual immorality is really against Him.)  If you are seeking God’s heart on those issues, I encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 6.  But I asked God to speak to my heart personally from this chapter and He has overwhelmed me afresh with His great grace in my life.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? DO NOT BE DECEIVED:  neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU. BUT, you were WASHED, you were SANCTIFIED, you were JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.

Thank you Lord for rescuing me out of my old lifestyle of self-indulgence and self-gratification–foolishness.  I was deceived.  The things I thought were fun and normal left me broken and empty.  Thank you for healing me and filling me, for washing it all away and making me new.  Please show me any areas of my heart where I am currently being deceived and have allowed for unrighteousness to creep back into my life.  I want to be pure and set apart by You and for You alone.  You are mighty and perfect and good.

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