To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours (1 Corinthians 1:2). Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is an epistle written to straighten out a church with a host of serious problems. Yet as such it is helpful and enlightening and inspiring to see how Paul the theologian addresses his deep, rich theology to specific, messy, practical issues as Paul the pastor.
We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). What a sweeping, staggering claim this is! And yet Paul says we can know for certain that all the details of our lives are working together for our good, as believers in Jesus Christ. How do we know this?
We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:23-25).
Puritan pastor Richard Baxter took an old Latin phrase and popularized it in his day, in English. It is simple, but profound: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” Why was Baxter so concerned to see Christians publicly, charitably, doctrinally unified? Baxter, writing in 17th century England about the evil effects of division in the church, made this observation:
The God of all grace [has] called you to his eternal glory in Christ (1 Peter 5:10). God is the God all grace, but he is not all grace — he is also holiness, wrath, justice, and strength. It is for this reason that the only way to go to God or receive blessings from him is through the way he has provided in Jesus Christ.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:8-13). True love is permanent. Love is eternal at its core. Because it is from God and primarily directed to God, it will never fail, never implode, never become obsolete.
Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). I was thinking this past week about cases where a person who has been a professed believer, maybe even a well-known Christian leader, falls into public sin or even apostasy, walking away from the Christian faith. Sadly, there have been many such cases in the news lately.
Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits (Genesis 6:14-15). The Big Boat The dimensions of the ark were about 450 feet long, by 75 feet wide, by 45 feet high. Such a huge vessel would have had a total storage capacity of almost one and a half million square feet.
Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it (Genesis 9:6-7). God knows that humans are fallen, broken creatures. Even as Noah steps off the Ark into the new, post-Flood world, God is already addressing the issue of homicide.
You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart (Psalm 104:14-15). The psalmist is worshiping God for all his creative acts and wonders. And among the things God gets credit for, according to Scripture, is the results of human labor!
George Muller, the great nineteenth-century English preacher, fed over 10,000 orphans during his lifetime — on nothing but prayer. Refusing to solicit donations or perform fundraisers, Muller famously found God more than sufficient for all the needs of the orphanages as he daily prayed for their provision (read an excellent article here for more on that). Countless Christians since Muller’s day have discovered there are life lessons to be learned from God’s grace in and through this man’s faithful ministry.
A very mature Christian came to me recently and said, “I want to learn more about doing family devotions well.” Not long after, I had a very edifying conversation with a gray-haired saint who was wanting to study a particular Bible topic together. These encounters just reminded me of this fact: the wise person is always seeking to become wiser still. The truly spiritual person recognizes his or her constant need for spiritual growth.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer … let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6) Prayer is the means God has given us for unburdening our souls. This is important to consciously, biblically affirm. Otherwise, we may feel weighed down with anxiety, with guilt, with discouragement, or with sorrow and yet have no solution for these soul burdens. Does that perhaps describe you?
It is required of stewards that they be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2) There is a crucial balance represented here. On one hand, stewards only manage things that have been given to their care. A steward is someone who is entrusted with property that is not his or her own. As Paul points out later in this passage, everything we have and do as Christians is merely using the strength, the giftedness, and even the faithfulness that only comes from Christ.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! (Psalm 139:1) Notice two things from this brief statement. First, it recognizes the fact that God knows us, is intimately acquainted with us. Second, it is a prayer. It is a prayer from the psalmist, talking to God, and recognizing God’s ever-presence with him. This is the essence of walking with God.