Thursday, July 31, 2014

II Corinthians 8: Comrade Paul?

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."  It's a statement popularized by the Father of Communism, Karl Marx, but it could just as easily be a summary of Paul's writing in II Corinthians 8!

II Corinthians 7: Good Grief!

Did you know that there are different kinds of grief?  In II Corinthians 7, Paul discusses both "godly grief" and "worldly grief."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

II Corinthians 6: Church vs. World

The Church exists in the World.  But how should it relate to the World?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

II Corinthians 5: Christ's Ambassadors

Christians really hold an incredible privilege in this world: we represent Christ to the world, serving as His holy ambassadors!

II Corinthians 4: Outer Decay, Inner Life

In II Corinthians 4, Paul presents the Christian life as a study in contrasts.

Psalm 29: The Voice of the Lord

In the ancient world, perhaps nothing symbolized the supernatural might of the Lord more than a natural storm.  The people would witness flashing lightning bolts, shattering thunder, and destructive winds.  Although the science of meteorology was beyond them, they knew that an awesome storm represented just a smattering of God's power.  In Psalm 29, David reflects on the majesty of the Lord revealed through such a storm, how His "voice" unleashed amazing devastation.  Today we may better understand the natural forces behind such events, but the created order still reveals a supreme God who stands powerfully above and apart from creation.

Friday, July 25, 2014

II Corinthians 3: Passing and Surpassing Glory

How does the New Covenant relate to the Old?  In II Corinthians 3, Paul describes the Covenant of Law through Moses as "engraved in letters on stone," "fading glory," "veiled," and "condemns man."  This is in contrast to the Covenant of Grace through Christ which is "written with the Spirit on tablets of human hearts," "surpassing glory," "unveiled," and "brings righteousness."  In Paul's view, the Old Covenant has glory, but it is a temporary and passing glory.  The glory of the New Covenant exceeds it in every way, for it is greater and eternal.  Glory!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

II Corinthians 1: "Yes" in Christ

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ" (vs. 20).

Monday, July 21, 2014

I Corinthians 16: Parting Thoughts

As Paul wraps up his first letter to the Corinthians, he turns his attention to practical matters regarding his schedule, his compatriots, and final imperatives he wants to leave them with.

I Corinthians 15: All About the Resurrection

Each of the four Gospels ends with an account of the Risen Christ.  But where do you go with your questions about the Resurrection?  Paul has you covered.  Check out I Corinthians 15.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Psalm 28: Justice and Mercy

David the psalmist is searching for two things in Psalm 28: Justice and Mercy.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I Corinthians 14: Spiritual Gifts (Part Three)

What do you think about speaking in tongues?  Opinions are all over the map, and some Christians can be quite contentious about their viewpoints.

I Corinthians 13: Spiritual Gifts (Part Two)

Sandwiched between chapters on spiritual gifts, I Corinthians 13 gleams like a jewel.  Its words on love have inspired and encouraged many.  Its verses have appeared on numerous plaques and been read at countless weddings.  Yet perhaps one of the best ways to understand the Bible's "love chapter" is to consider it in context - as a part of Paul's teaching on spiritual gifts.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Corinthians 12: Spiritual Gifts (Part One)

What a difference between Christianity and paganism!  Paul begins this chapter by reminding the Corinthians that they used to follow mute, ineffective and impotent idols.  But now these false gods are contrasted with the living, moving, breathing Holy Spirit who works in the lives of believers by gifting them with special abilities for the good of the body.

Monday, July 14, 2014

I Corinthians 11: A Hairy Issue

"Why don't we follow these rules about head coverings today?" asked my wife during our Bible reading last night.  "And yet we insist on other laws, like the ones on homosexuality?"

Good question.

I Corinthians 10: Raising the Standard

Paul is concerned for the quality of the Corinthians' faith and their daily living.  After all, we have a stark example from Israel's history that it matters how we live and worship.  What should be the standard for living out our faith?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Psalm 27: Confidence in the Lord

Confidence is defined as "the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust."  The roots of the word confidence (con + fidere) mean "with faith" or "with trust."  This accurately describes David's position toward God in Psalm 27.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I Corinthians 9: Inside Paul's Head (and Heart)

In this chapter, we get a good look at the extent of Paul's sacrifices and his calling.  Paul declares to the Corinthians that he is a genuine apostle, but he also wants it known that he engages in gospel ministry with no salary drawn from his proclamation.  We get a look inside Paul's head as he discloses his thinking with striking transparency.  Paul has chosen to make this sacrifice because of the ability it gives him to present the gospel without any charge of profiteering.  He is so committed to the saving of souls that he will do anything, say anything, become anything - and even serve without anything.  He is sold out, to the point of Olympic-level dedication to his calling.  This is Paul's heart.  Paul's sacrificial commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ is beyond reproach.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I Corinthians 8: Subjective Sins?

Can an action be sinful for you, but not for me?  Or is a sin a sin, regardless of the context?  I'd love to hear a discussion on this in the comment section!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I Corinthians 7: As You Were

I Corinthians 7 is a very practical chapter, full of Paul's convictions and advice regarding marriage, divorce and other relationship statuses.  Summing it up would be the phrase: Be content to remain as you are.  If you're married, don't seek a divorce (that's God's will).  If you're single, don't seek to be married (that's Paul suggestion).  Whatever state you were in when you became a Christian - slave or free - be satisfied with remaining that way.  Yet these prescriptions don't carry the weight of a command, but sound more like a philosophical viewpoint.  The important thing, says Paul, is to be heaven-minded as much as possible, remembering that earthly realities are but temporary and transitory things.

I Corinthians 6: Questions That Are Answers

By my count (NRSV), Paul asks 13 rhetorical questions of the Corinthian Church in chapter 6.  He is not honestly looking for answers to his questions - rather, he is making a point by asking them!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I Corinthians 5: Judge Not?

One of Jesus's oft-quoted statements is, "Judge not lest ye be judged."  (At least, it seems to get quoted to Christians a lot!)  How does this co-exist with Paul's stern exhortation in I Corinthians 5?  "Is it not those who are inside (the Church) that you are to judge?"

Psalm 26: Arguing Our Righteousness

Truth be told, I sometimes have a little problem with Psalms like #26.  Didn't Jesus encourage us to be humble in our prayers and offer confessions for our sins?  In Psalm 26, however, David gives us a model that basically says, "Look at me, God!  I'm holy!  I'm righteous!  Take care of me, Lord, because I'm one of the good ones!"

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I Corinthians 4: Fools for Christ

In I Corinthians 4, Paul interacts directly with the Corinthians, examining their situation and his own.  For their part, he says, they are like his children and should acknowledge that they have received everything they have from others.  As far as Paul and the other apostles, however, he considers their state to be hard-pressed.  They have suffered being esteemed as fools in the sight of the wisdom of the world, they have endured hunger and thirst and poverty and brutal treatment, and they are regarded as the "scum of the earth."  Paul has not said these things to shame the Corinthians, but to challenge them - to leave the easy path and do the hard things for Christ.  Paul encourages them to act in the knowledge that he will be coming to visit them...very soon.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I Corinthians 3: God's Building and Grounds

To drive his point home that the Corinthians are acting immaturely through their divisiveness, Paul introduces a couple of metaphors to illustrate the proper place of human ministry - and God's.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I Corinthians 2: The Mind of Christ

Continuing his thoughts about wisdom and foolishness, Paul makes a breathtaking claim in the second chapter: Christians have access to the deep things of God, through the Spirit that searches all things, even God Himself!  Through God's own Spirit, which also inhabits us, we have the mind of  Christ.  What a concept!  So much for foolishness by the world's standard.  I will take the mind of Christ any day!