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1 Corinthians Chapters 3-5 — Apathy to Carnality vs. Indifference to Immorality

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Wow, so the question for today’s study is 1 Corinthians, chapters 3-5.  How similar those days were to modern day Kansas City.  Apathy to Carnality, and indifference to Immorality.

This has been a rather interesting couple of chapters for me, and I totally get how these two meet up.  Basically the church in Corinth went from Apathy to Carnality, and you really have to wonder if we are going from indifference to immorality.  With that said, following are some points I have come across and thought I would share.

  • Paul continues his thought on spirituality and he shows that they are not spiritual. One result of the divisions was carnality and stunted spiritual growth (3:1-2). (3:1) “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.” Ouch… we know that these people are part of the family of God since Paul calls them brethren…but that is part of the problem. Though they have the Holy Spirit (unlike the natural man of 1 Corinthians 2:14) they are not behaving like spiritual people, but like carnal – that is, fleshly-people, like immature Christians (babes in Christ).  They are, to some extent, are thinking and acting according to the flesh, not the Spirit.
  • Paul has spoken to us about three categories of men. There is the natural man (1 Corinthians 2:14), who is patterned after Adam and rejects the things of the Spirit. There is the spiritual man (1 Corinthians 2:15), who knows the things of God. And there is the carnal man who knows the things of God, yet in some significant ways is still characterized by the flesh. Which one are you? I worry that I am all too often the 3rd man – the carnal man.  Lessons like this help me correct that.
  • One of the main problems the Corinthians had was the fact that they were attraction to spiritual “junk food,” based on man’s wisdom and eloquence. They were so “filled” with this junk food that they were not able to receive the spiritual solid food Paul wanted to give them. Think about how real that is today…In fact, it really is a sobering thought that many, many people who believe they are serving God, are doing it in an unworthy manner or with unworthy “materials” and will come to find in eternity that they have, in reality, done nothing for the Lord.   Again, studies like this are so badly needed right now.  I don’t want to be surprised due to my earthly wisdom and pride!
  • Many people today evaluate a pastor or a minister on unbiblical standards. They judge him on the basis of his humor, or entertainment value, his appearance, or his skill at marketing and sales. But this is to think beyond what is written in the sense Paul means it here. I have seen this throughout my lifetime.  I have even been guilty of it.  I wish this church would do x, this minister do y.  If they did, it would satisfy z.  Am I expecting the church to fulfil my personal, worldly needs, or my spiritual needs?  I think there are times I settle for an entertaining sermon with a good band, than the alternative that feeds my soul.  I am not saying that the entertaining sermon cannot do that, we need to be careful.
  • I also think that the church needs to be careful. It might be worth adding that the church today is heavy with this same attitude of the Corinthian Christians. They were concerned about the image of worldly success and power, and many of them despised Paul and the other apostles because they did not display that image. Today, there is no shortage of ministers who want to display the image of worldly success and power, and no shortage of Christians who will value that in their minister.
  • Now think about the church and how we look at our ministers. Would we have hired Paul today?  After all, look at Paul’s resume: he bounced from church to church, he was run out of many towns, he was accused of starting riots, he was rarely supported by the ministry, he was arrested and imprisoned several times.  On the surface, it would be hard to imagine, but we need to look deeper – don’t we…Our problem is we often want a middle road; a little popularity, a little reputation, but still the anointing of God. We want the power without the cost. God help us to choose Paul’s way!
  • Now take it a step further. Paul told the Corinthian Christians to imitate him.  Can you imagine their response… our response?  He was regarded as a fool, as weak, as dishonored; he was hungry and thirsty and poorly clothed, he was homeless and beaten; he worked hard to support himself with manual labor – not merely through the salary he pulled from the church.
  • Paul is not only shocked by the immoral conduct of this individual member of the church, he is also appalled by the attitude of the church itself: “you are arrogant!” (verse 2) They were tolerating and basically condoning this immoral conduct and lifestyle. Instead of being arrogant, the church should have been that of grief!  “Should you not rather be grieved…?” the whole purpose of God was being ignored and even defied!   And note that his isn’t only on the leaders, but the church as a whole.  It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain the purity of Christ’s church.  How often do we turn to the church leaders and ask that they “take care” of a problem for us, and if they don’t we turn a blind eye to the problem saying “we tried” or “we told so and so”.
  • The offender was to be delivered to Satan. That is to say, the protective covering of God’s grace was removed from the man (this was done by removing his name from the covenant community of the church), allowing him to be exposed to the attacks of the devil in an unprotected state. Up to this point there has been no repentance in the man’s life, thus he is now being given over to the course of life he has adamantly chosen to pursue and is being allowed to face the consequences of his choice. The offender was being delivered unto Satan “for the destruction of his sinful nature:”
  • Remember that Corinth was a city notorious for sexual immorality, and the pagan religions did not value sexual purity. It wasn’t hard for a Corinthian to think you could be religious, yet still act any way you pleased when it came to sex. Greek culture could matter-of-factly say: “Mistresses we keep for the sake of pleasure, concubines for the daily care of the body, but wives to bear us legitimate children.” Look how close that mirrors today’s society.  People say they are religious, but they are just not sure they are “fully Christian.” They want to live their own way of life, and also say they believe that God created this world.  But, in the same breathe, they will also add that they feel that their good deeds will outweigh their bad ones in the end.  In other words – works are more important.
  • More than anything, the Corinthian Christians were probably allowing this in the name of “tolerance.” Oops… three is that word we hear a lot today… tolerance. They probably were saying to themselves, “Look how loving we are. We are accepting this brother just as he is. Look how open-minded we are!” We should never underestimate what people will allow in the name of “open-mindedness.”  In particular, and as an example, I see this with my daughter.  She will see something that she knows is wrong, but will say just this.  I love them no matter what.  But I try to say, if you know they are wrong, is it really love if you let them continue to do it?
  • The church is not a group of ‘religious policemen’ out to catch a criminal/sinner. Rather, we are a group of equally brokenhearted and sinning brothers and sisters seeking to restore and the stumbling member of the family. I cannot tell you the number of times God reminds me how imperfect I am.  It is in those moments I can have enough compassion to help another brother or sister through his/her storm.
  • Nearing the end of this chapter, Paul is reminding/warning the Corinth Christian that they cannot continue in Christian fellowship with a notorious sinner who calls himself a Christian. As noted above, it is part of our responsibility to help bring them back around, but we should stop seeking advice from them.  We should not ask for spiritual guidance from them.  Not until they repent.
  • And finally Paul is pointing out that we are too busy judging those outside of the church (which is God’s job only) and are neglecting purity within the church.

right wrongSo, do you see some similar statements between Paul and the Corinthian Christian to people of today?  do you see how indifference can lead to immorality just like apathy lead to Carnality?

Very interest study for me.

More to come!

Michael


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1 Corinthians 2

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Chapter 2 — Philosophy vs. Education  

1 Corinthians 2

Round 2!  Man there is a lot here.  Following are my take aways from this section.  I see a lot of what you were saying when you decided to compare Corinth and Kansas City with regard to this chapter.  So here you go.

  • Paul was relying on God through all of this rather than self-reliance. In KC there are many who look to education being more important.  Living an earthly life.  A good life.  Yes, even an ungodly life.
  • Paul didn’t come to Corinth as a philosopher (even though it was the Roman hotspot if you will). He didn’t come as a used car salesman either – or carpet salesman.  He came to Corinth declaring the testimony of God – the Holy Spirit.  As I have study this section I found that the Greeks and the Romans wanted a speaker who had that shiny veneer finish… the slick salesman… the guy with a golden tongue.  But, Paul didn’t care – he choose to stay out of the way of Christ and the message.  He didn’t want this to be about him – he wanted it to be about Christ.
    • I think about many of the churches here in KC (and I don’t like to talk bad about the bride of Christ) that this might apply to. I also think about the Op-Ed piece I read in the LA Times (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0115-zuckerman-secular-parenting-20150115-story.html#page=1 ) and some of the responses people are making on both sides. (If you haven’t read it, I am sure you will find it interesting) Basically I feel that many people who attend church start to focus on human wisdom instead of godly wisdom.  We allow preachers to weave a fantastic story, all the while forgetting to allow the Holy Spirit to open it in our heart.  Many are lured into church with fantastic productions, great praise bands, and free coffee, but forgetting that there is a next step! Are we drawing them in for the free coffee and to boast a great number, or are we drawing them in for a relationship with Jesus.  Sometimes it is hard to tell.
  • I read this quote while research this as well, and it really stuck with me since it flows from the previous point – “If someone’s faith is in the wisdom of men, and not the power of God; if someone can be persuaded into the kingdom by human wisdom, they can be persuaded out of the kingdom by human wisdom also.” Boom – there you go wrapped up with a bow tie.
  • I also have to wonder about saved and unsaved – about mature believers and immature believers. A lot of study, grounded in the bible, has to be done otherwise we will turn to our human self for wisdom.  We will turn to science and the secular community to find purpose and meaning in life.  That is why I firmly believe we need to have three people in our lives – .  1) Someone who is more mature in their faith, 2) someone who is at roughly the same point in their faith, and 3) someone who is not as far along in their faith.  In other words, if all I have in my life are #1s and #3s, I will constantly struggle.  The #1s are always further along than I am in my faith, and there will be times when I will feel like I am failing in some way because I compare myself to him/her.  Sure they will be able to help me and mentor me.  That is part of their role in my life.  But if that is the only person I associate with, I will questions why can’t I be where they are. Why can’t I be right there in terms of my faith walk.  Keep in mind that is just not a fair comparison.  Everyone progresses at a different pace.  The world didn’t just go from being non-Christian to Christian overnight.  In fact, take a look at this website.  This site shows that even after we are Christians, there are a lot more steps to go.  It doesn’t end at the point of being again.  You continue on. I continue on.  http://www.angelfire.com/bc/normanhousechurch/EngleScale.htm
  • I think about it like this – if I am playing a sport – there are going to be a lot of people who are better than me, a lot that are about the same as me, and a lot that are a little worse than me. I have my coaches and star players (the #1s), my other team members at my level (the #2s), and then some who are not as good as me – the JV player (the #3s).
    • My coaches and star players are there to push me and challenge me. They teach me and offer advice. They are there to mentor me.  They are better than me, and they are someone I look up to and aspire to learn more from.
    • My fellow players are the ones that I can go to and talk openly without feeling like I am messing up all the time. I can say, “Hey! How did you do that?”  “Did you get that?”  “What did he just say?”  “I just don’t get it.” And by talking opening with those fellow players you help each other out.  You walk through the problem together.  You start to realize that others are feeling the same way, or are struggling just like you.  Sure we turn to our coaches and star players for help, but there are times when we need to turn to this group as well.  We mentor each other.
    • With regard to those that are not as good as you – the JV player. You are basically their #1.  You are their coach or star player.  You are now the one that they are looking up to and seeking advice from.  You are the one that they are trying to learn from.  You are the varsity player and they are the JV player.  You are basically mentoring them.
  • Personally, I have people in my life at all three levels who fill that role. In many cases I have several people in each of those categories.  But, I will also say that in general I can point to a very small group of individuals who I can count on the most.  I personally feel that it really helps to have all three levels in my life.  If I were to leave out the middle person, I think that I would be floundering.  Then if I were floundering, I wouldn’t be much use to those who are looking up to me for guidance.  Then you throw in the frustration factor and life can take some very wild swings.
  • Through the Holy Spirit we learn about God and His wisdom – not through earthly wisdom. This Holy knowledge is unattainable via human wisdom. It is unattainable through general research.  We need the Holy Spirit to guide that part.  That is why we need to look closer at the bible.  To lean into our faith and those of faith around us.  We need to study the bible and question each other.  Am I reading what you are reading?  Am I hearing what you are hearing?  Am I understanding what you are understanding?  If we rely on us, we are relying on earthly wisdom.
  • As I continue to look over that op-ed piece, I cannot help but see what Paul is saying here. That our belief in Jesus seems foolishness to an unbeliever – basically because he can’t understand our faith and love for Christ because he is using earthly wisdom.  I see it echoed throughout the responses to that article.  I see it among friends who feel it is more important to worry about today than tomorrow and some friendly ghost in the sky. It is more important to make a ton of money than think about the afterlife.  Why waste a brain cell they say.
  • In the end, many in Corinth were pursuing wisdom, but Paul told them that it is the wisdom of God they should be pursuing, and only the truly spiritual will be able to understand it.


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getting ready for the new year

Just like all “traditions” we feel we need to prepare for the new year.  Plan out our resolution(s).  Decide on what we want to do, or not do.  Lose weight.  Get a new job.  Find a new boyfriend/girlfriend.  Get married.  Move on.  You get the point.

Rarely do we sit back and say, “How can I serve God better?”

Well, that is what I am doing right now.  I am trying to decide how best to serve God.  How best to be a better follower.  As I have said in the past, I have failed a lot.  I continue to fail.  I don’t always show the love I should.  I continue to beat myself up over this because I know where my trust should be.  I know how best to do this, but I am allowing past issues to hamper my progress.

Is a new years resolution the answer?  Most likely not.  We all know we fail at those.  Heck, I don’t think I have kept a new years resolution more than a few months.  No the answer is prayer, leaning in toward Him instead of away.

I will work on this now and into the future.  Why… well because my life depends on it.

What about you?


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My prayer life

prayer11Quick thought for the day… Don’t sink into prayer like you always do.  What I mean by that is we shouldn’t do it by rote – just throwing up a prayer without thought.

To give you an example, I have on my calendar to pray for 1 person, at 1 o’clock, for 1 minute every day.  When the reminder comes up on my phone or computer, I generally stop what I am doing and say a quick prayer.  The problem I am finding is that there are too many times in my life when I don’t focus myself.  I don’t seek out God and His glory.  I lack focus and attention to what I am doing.  I even catch myself saying, “God you know what I am trying to say.  I am just stumbling along here.  Sorry.”

Seriously.  Is that right?  Um….NO!

Think about it….I am coming before God.  I am coming before the ALMIGHTY GOD.   I am praying to HIM.

Imagine what my prayer life would be like if I focused on praising and respecting God for His perfection – His holiness.  Imagine what my prayer life would be like if I pictured in my mind that God was actually standing in front of me, and this was my chance to talk directly to Him – would I stumble along, or would I have a huge smile on my face and just praise Him, and thank Him, and then bring my fears and needs to Him, my family and friends fears and needs.  Talk about a different experience.  Talk about an honor to be in His presence.

I heard Francis Chan say once that he read Revelation, chapter 4 and was awe struck by the image of God that John painted for us.  That is what I want with my prayer life.  An awe struck, humbling, emotional experience.

Time to brush up on my prayer life.  Care to join me?


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God has placed you here for a reason.

I really must start out this post with a question – “What is taking over your thoughts throughout the day?” Or more personally for me – What is taking over my thoughts?

Are our thoughts monopolized by/stuck on finding a better job/a job? A better car? A better place to live? Putting food on the table? A girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, or wife? More money in the bank? Looking better than our neighbors? Looking better than our family and friends? Are we concerned about what others think of us? Are we looking forward to that next vacation away from everything that we have amassed, or that job we brag about, so that we can recover???

Thinking through this list of questions, I cannot help but wonder if many of us are missing out on something more important. Something that will drive our day toward the greater good. I cannot help but wonder if I have been silent about things that really matter?

God.

I pray that I haven’t been silent. But then again… are my periodic prayers, my weekly men’s group, my attendance at church, my blog post, and my email notes of encouragement enough?

Where is God in all of this? What am I doing to live more Christ like? How am I really helping others? Am I even concerned with helping others?

Ugh… then I start to think about what we are living for? What can we say is the guiding force in our lives that radiate out of us for all to see? That one thing people who know us will say – “Yip, that is ___________ (your name goes here).”

Will they say that we are driven by:
• money
• status
• ego
• pride and arrogance.
• accumulating material things.

If they did, how would that make you feel? Is that really you or me? Or, are we living a bit of a double life – allowing others to perceive us differently than we really want to be? I mean come on! – can’t we have a “church life,” a “social life,” a “family life,” and a “work life”? What is wrong with that????

These are all really hard questions for me right now. But, after living the life I have lived, surviving cancer, two teenage daughters (yes that is surviving), and continuing to grow closer to God, I have come to realize that none of those things will bring about true happiness. That all of our lives must operate as one. Church life cannot be separate from social life, etc. My relationship with Jesus must radiate out from me.

I know that we cannot get into heaven merely by doing good things –, but I want my faith to lead my actions, and I want the two to match up and be in sync.

One of my biggest fears in life (and I DO have a few) is when I approach that point when I have to account for the things that I did and did not do. That point when my faith and my actions should have been in sync. That is the moment when I pray I do not hear God tell me that something was wrong? That my life has been somewhat incomplete. That there should have been more? That there MUST have been more.

STOP there… and ask yourself some honest questions about your faith and your actions. Are you living the life that God wants from you? The purpose you were created for?

Are they in sync?

If not, what are you doing about it?

One thing I try to do is to talk regularly with God – to find my purpose by asking Him. Those talks when I become somewhat selfish and ask for guidance and direction for me rather than those around me. To ask for knowledge to use what I have been given, and the talents I have been blessed with, to help others. I continue to pray daily looking for the direction. I also continue to pray for something else – an open heart and an ear to listen to what God is sharing with me.

God has placed you here for a reason. You are here for more than the accumulation of material things and living an earthly life. Your life has a purpose. Don’t live it with regrets.

Take time to listen to what God is saying. Each of us hears him differently. I hear him through the loving words of a family member or friend. I also feel His loving guidance during those “God tingle” moments. If you aren’t there yet in your relationship with God, ask for Him to come into your life, and then ask that He teach you how to have this personal relationship. He will guide you.


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Prayers from a prayer warrior

prayer_warrior

Dear All,
Following is a list of individuals I continued to send prayers up for. Please lend them your voice and prayers and join me in offering them up to the Lord in prayer.

Thank you,
Michael

My prayer list:

Person #1– family, strength to find the right fit and voice to amplify His word, self-confidence to sing when his voice is drowned out. Confidence to lead without hesitation.

Person #2– rekindling of his passion and using his “art” in a way that glorifies God.

Person #3– First and foremost, health and continued spiritual growth. I will continue to add leadership to his list this week.

Person #4– Such an amazing man, and one that continues to use heavenly help with regard to his family as well as his church family. Health, strength, leadership, and sustainable energy are also important right now. Financial direction has been added.

Person #5– continued passion to impact all ages, continued spiritual growth to help guide his family and those around him. At the same time, I will add the gift of knowledge to help direct him as he moves forward in his life.

Person #6– continued wisdom to lead through others, knowledge to know when he should take the lead and understanding and it is appropriate and finally spiritual leadership

Person #7– continue to have the ability to live with his heart, wisdom and direction are more important today than yesterday, continue to help others through the unique opportunities he can offer locally, nationally, and internationally. Bless those around him as well as each of the steps he takes. Bless the words he speaks along this journey.

Person #8– continue to help others through unique opportunities locally, nationally, and internationally that only he may be aware of. Continued spiritual grown and knowledge/understanding of his role as it relates to the Kingdom.

Person #9– wisdom first and foremost followed by renewed energy, renewed passion, spiritual healing, and leadership. Help him battle the spiritual warfare that is starting to crop up around his life.

Person #10– I pray for his continued blessing, but also continued help for sustainable energy and passionate creative art that will glorify God.

Person #11– Knowledge and direction is critical right now. In addition, and as in the past, healing on all levels – physical and mental.

Person #12– Knowledge and direction is critical right now. I pray specifically that you provide people in his life to help guide him down the path you want him to travel. In addition, and as always, continued spiritual growth

Person #13- FOCUS… FOCUS… FOCUS. Pull the energy that flows so freely from him, and allow that to be focused in a way that will continue to have the biggest impact for the big C church.

Person #14– protection on all levels right now – for him and his family.

Person #15- Knowledge regarding the role that he plays in the Kingdom and how he can lead his church along the path you want him to follow. With that comes spiritual growth, leadership, ignited passion. I pray that he finds the voice that will match the passion he has for God, and he that he uses that enthusiasm in a way that allows those around him to feel the love of Christ marinating in their soul.

Persons #16/#17 – My prayer lifted up for this special husband and wife team is to find sustainable and consistent, loyal, and faithful friends while they are out of the country. I pray that You protected them from the spiritual warfare that surrounds them by placing Your flock around them – visible or not. I pray that they recognize in each other, and through family and friends, when they are feeling worn down-both mentally and physically. Since they currently live in a transient part of the world, I pray for those around them as well those who need the support of friends. I pray that when anyone hears the weariness and need in their voice (as I did last night), or see the signs of stress in their life, that they take a moment to pray for them.


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It is His Mercy

Something that I have been working on lately.  It is not done, rather it is a work in progress.

V1
feeling lonely and depressed
realizing life just isn’t right
She walked into the church
in a last attempt to get it right
A husband who left her
two kids who got lost
a voice that was screaming
and a heart that felt tossed
life had been crashing
and all around her was pain
when she gathered up the strength
to cry out His name

Chorus
Lord, I know that I’m not worthy, but
I am kneein, and cryin, and begging for some help
My compass seems to be broken
and I’m stumbling along in the dark
I know it was Your mercy
that will grab me from these depths
I know it is Your love
that will carry me up these steps

V2
feeling lonely and depressed
realizing life just isn’t right
He walked into the church
in a last attempt to get it right
A bottle in one hand
And an out of control life
Running was all that existed
And praying he wouldn’t get caught
life had been chasing him
and all around him was storms
when he gathered up the strength
to cry out His name

Chorus
Lord, I know that I’m not worthy, but
I am kneein, and cryin, and begging for some help
My compass seems to be broken
and I’m stumbling along in the dark
I know it was Your mercy
that will grab me from these depths
I know it is Your love
that will carry me up these steps

Bridge
It is time for me to lift up my eyes
to see Your piercing light
It is time for me to lift up my hands
to feel Your loving grace
It is time for me to lift up my heart
to embrace You with all my might
It is time for me to drop down on my knees
and surrender to You this night.

V3
When they finally stopped to look around
Standing side-by-side that day
All they felt was His loving embrace
Caring and Loving and so full of grace
Holding them tight
Surrounded by all His might
They finally understood what life could be like
No more stumbling along
with no end in sight
No more solitude or pain
that had devoured their life
Rather they have found their Redeemer
Who offered love and eternal life
Because of His ultimate sacrifice

Final Chorus
Lord, I know that I’m not worthy, but
I am kneein, and cryin, and begging for some help
My compass seems to be broken
and I’m stumbling along in the dark
I know it was Your mercy
that will grab me from these depths
I know it is Your love
that will carry me up these steps