Tuesday, May 16, 2017

May 16 - 1 Corinthians 1

Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 Corinthians 1. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • The city of Corinth seemed like the last place to start a church. Corinth was known for partying, drunkenness, money, power, and sex. Sound familiar? Corinth was kind of an ancient Las Vegas. In fact, the city adopted Venus, the goddess of love, as their religion. They even had a temple filled with 1,000 prostitutes in her honor. People thought Paul was crazy starting a church there, but he chose to stay for 18 months to plant a church that eventually became the largest in the first century.
  • Paul receives troubling news that this once vibrant church is in trouble. There is arguing, sexual immorality, confusion in church services, an abuse of power and freedom, and more. He sends a personal letter to the Corinthian church, giving both practical and spiritual advice about the issues at hand. This is the letter we are about to explore.
  • 1 Corinthians begins with Paul giving thanks for them and encouraging them in their faith.
  • Paul then warns that division in the church is not okay. This is similar to his message we just read in Romans 14 and 15. The problem was that Christians were following particular preachers instead of Jesus. He reminds them that only Jesus died for them, and Jesus is the only person they should be worshipping.
  • Paul then reminds them that the message of Christ may sound silly to others, but it is the power of God. Scholars may think it's foolish, the rich may think it's below them, the strong may think it's embarrassing, but that's God's point. God will always use the foolish things of this world to show his power. Why? So we can't take credit and God gets the glory.
  • He also reminds them of their not-so-stellar backgrounds. Not many of the Corinthians were scholars, or wealthy, or big businessmen. But it didn't matter. God was going to use them to change the world for His kingdom.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • If you go to Verve, you can probably relate to the world that the Corinthians were living in. At times, it may seem intimidating to follow Jesus in this culture. Remember: God has you in this city for a purpose. And just as the Corinthian church blossomed in the most unlikely place, your faith can blossom right here in the middle of the desert. 
  • It is critical that, as followers of Jesus, we strive to live in unity with one another. In addition, it is very important that we are always following Jesus, not the pastor of our church. A pastor is a messenger from God to help us learn about Jesus, but he or she is not our Savior. Only Jesus is.
  • We do not have to be scholars, geniuses, wealthy, or powerful to understand the love and power of God, or to be used by God to do great things.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Do you really follow Jesus? It's okay to be a fan of someone's preaching, but we always need to check our hearts and make sure that we're not following them over Jesus.
  • Have you ever wanted to share Jesus with someone and thought, "Oh man. I'm not the right person to say anything to them. I mean, I'm not smart, influential, powerful, etc." That's okay; share anyway! God has your back and will come through because you are willing.
    • Who have you been avoiding having a spiritual conversation with? Share with them today or this weekend. Remember, it's not for our glory, but so we can boast about how amazing God is.