Thursday, September 07, 2006

1 Corinthians 8:7 - 13 (NLT) 7. However, not all believers know this. Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, so when they eat food that has been offered to idols, they think of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences are violated. 8. Its true that we cant win Gods approval by what we eat. We dont lose anything if we dont eat it, and we dont gain anything if we do. 9. But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble. 10. For if others see youwith your superior knowledgeeating in the temple of an idol, wont they be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been offered to an idol? 11. So because of your superior knowledge, a weak believer for whom Christ died will be destroyed. 12. And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. 13. So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I livefor I dont want to cause another believer to stumble.

There are going to be some believers, perhaps new Christians or those from different traditions than ours, who see some things as being wrong that we do not.

Some traditions might consider long hair to be a sin, or smoking, or drinking alcohol or dating before 18! If we knowingly flaunt these things before our brothers and sisters in Christ who find them to be sinful then we are WRONG to do them.

The goal of the body of Christ is peace and unity. If we cause someone else to stumble or knowingly put up a division in the body that should not be there, we ARE sinning.

Philippians 2:3 (NASB)
3. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

1 Corinthians 8:4 - 6 (NASB) 4. Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5. For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6. yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

"Yet for us." That's the church. Paul acknowledges that for the world there may be many so-called gods or things that control peoples lives. There are indeed many lords that people in the world submit to as ruling their lives. And yet, for us, the called out ones, there is only ONE God, the Father and ONE Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Does everyone around us know that from the way we live our lives in this world?

ONE God, the Father
ONE Lord, Jesus Christ

Our existence is because of Him and through Him, for apart from Him we can do and would be nothing. By living our lives focused on Him we have meaning and direction for He is the source of ALL things.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Weve been looking at 1 Corinthians specifically from the vantage point of what it tells us about the early church. Chapter 7 showed us that our earthly position, whether married or single, does not matter as long as it does not cause us to sin and DOES allow us to concentrate first and foremost on the will and ways of the Lord.

The first few verses of chapter 8 deal with another question from the church regarding the appropriateness of eating meat sacrificed to idols.

1 Corinthians 8:1 - 3 (KJV)
1. Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. 2. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. 3. But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

Knowledge puffeth up. When you look at what being puffed up means, it means being filled with air! There is a saying about people that think they know everything and want us to know it and that is, they are full of hot air.

Charity or love, on the other hand, edifies. That word means to construct as in making a building. Paul is saying that our knowledge is of no help to anyone if it is not overwhelmingly delivered up in the love of God. The love of God will build up that person or persons we are addressing and cause them to be stronger people for God.

As a church we must practice this principle when dealing with people of other denominations. We may feel we have all knowledge and are correct in certain doctrines, but if our application of that knowledge towards others causes them to be hurt rather than built up, we better rethink how and why we are addressing the issue that particular issue.

In verse 3 Paul says if we love God, we will be known by our love. The love of God results in our knowing that it is only by grace we are saved. God has been so gracious to us and shown us such incredible love through His Son Jesus Christ, how could we show anything less to our brothers and sisters in Christ?

It is a good thing to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are told to do so. But, we must temper that with His love and His grace. Are we in the church acting arrogantly with the knowledge that God has given us? Or, are we applying that knowledge in the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ?

2 Peter 3:18 (KJV)
18. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, September 04, 2006

God has really blessed me this past week. I was privileged to drive Bobbie and Neina to Simpson University in Redding, California. Simpson is a Christian school and the focus on that during orientation weekend was quite clear.

The faculty, staff and student leadership pointed out (in rather humorous ways) that finding a spouse should not be the focus of a Christian education! As Shirley pointed out in her email a couple of days ago, the passage in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 is basically saying that finding a spouse or satisfying the needs of a spouse is not to be the focus of our lives. The focus of our lives is to be our relationship with Jesus Christ. Anything that gets in the way of that is a hindrance to our spiritual lives and our growth and development in the ways of God.

The following passage from chapter seven make this point clear.

1 Corinthians 7:29 - 31 (NASB)
29. But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; 30. and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; 31. and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away. The form of this world is passing away.

In Revelation 21:1 we read,
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away

Our focus is to be God. Many of you know my lifes verse in Matthew 6:33 (NASB) where Jesus clearly lays out what is to be our priority
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Paul, too, makes it clear that this is the goal of his writing in chapter 7, when he says,

This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:35 (NASB)

Matthew 22:37 - 38 (NASB) 37. And He (Jesus) said to him, YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. 38. This is the great and foremost commandment.