Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Corinth’

Loving one another…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal…And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
-1 Corinthians 13:1,13

Paul wrote one of the greatest texts in western literature, 1 Corinthians 13, about what it means to love one another. Written for all, it was first read by the Christians in Corinth, a fabulously wealthy city where anybody – former slaves or freeborn persons, people who had nothing – could go there, start businesses as merchants, and become extremely wealthy. It was a place of commerce, business, and trade. Corinth was the place that you could go to and make all your dreams come true. Because of that, Corinth was quite a competitive place – in business, sports, etc.

Paul saw that this competitive spirit was working its way into the church of Corinth when he spots two types of people:

1. The super apostle. These were people who said, “Don’t listen to Paul. Listen to me. I am so spiritual that I can do miracles, speak in unknown tongues, and do other amazing things. Don’t listen to those silly guys from Jerusalem. I am much more spiritual than they are.”

2. The legalist. These were people who said, “If you want to be a Christian, you have to follow the rules about the clothes you wear, the food you eat, and guys, you have to get circumcised. If you really want to live in the kingdom of God, you have to follow these rigid rules.”

First Corinthians 13 is primarily written to those types of people. Paul says it’s not about being super spiritual and it’s not about soul-killing legalism and religiosity. It’s simply about loving one another. That is the call to moral good.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to discover and overcome any legalistic or super religious ways, especially those that get in the way of showing your grace through love to others. Amen.

Devotion: Are you a super apostle? A legalist? Now that you’ve read the descriptions of both, how will you revise your behavior so you can be more loving towards others?

Does 2 Corinthians 1-2 Justify Promise-Breaking?.


“Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both ‘Yes, yes,’ and ‘No, no’?” (2 Cor. 1:15-17 TNIV)

I was startled recently to read on a friend’s blog that it was a sermon on 2 Corinthians 1-2 which was part of what convinced him that it was OK to renege on a promise that he had made. Indeed, he was convinced God was guiding him to back out of a commitment he had made to a large group of people that would have wide-reaching effects on them in favor of a new opportunity that would be personally more fulfilling. He had just not had a peace about the previous commitment but now felt completely at peace.

Of course, I don’t know what was said in the sermon that proved influential. Presumably it had something to do with the passage, quoted above, in which Paul justifies changing his travel plans to Corinth. Paul was in Ephesus at the time (1 Cor. 16:8), on the west coast of what we would call Turkey. He initially envisaged traveling across the Aegean Sea by boat to Corinth in the province of Achaia, which formed the southern half of Greece. Then he would head up the northern half of the peninsula, to Macedonia, visit the cities he had evangelized there (like Berea, Philippi and Thessalonica), retrace his steps to the south, back through Corinth, and then by boat across the Mediterranean Sea all the way to Israel. The geography of 2 Corinthians 1:15-17 makes perfect sense if this is what Paul had in mind.

2 Corinthians 1:23-2:4, however, makes it clear that Paul chose to abandon those plans. As he goes on to explain, he did not want to make another painful visit to Corinth. Instead, he wanted to wait until he was assured that they had dealt with a certain individual there who was causing all kinds of problems—possibly the incestuous offender of 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. Now, however, Paul has learned that this man has repented (2 Cor. 2:5-11). Paul is therefore on his way to Corinth, but traveling over land instead, along the northern shore of the Aegean to Macedonia and then making his way down south in Greece to Corinth (2:12-137:5-7).

Apparently, this change of travel plans provoked criticism from someone in Corinth. Paul appears to have been accused of not being trustworthy, like the person who says “yes, yes” to something at one moment and then says “no, no” the next. Paul emphatically denies that this is the case (2 Cor. 1:18-22). All along he had wanted his next visit to Corinth to be one of mutual encouragement and if that meant postponing his trip and altering his itinerary, then so be it. The constancy was not at the level of the timing of the trip or who else Paul would visit en route before or after Corinth, but that he would indeed come again and do so when the Corinthians had mended their ways.

But neither was Paul breaking any promises. Paul says he “wanted” to visit them twice according to a certain itinerary (Gk. eboulomēnv. 15), not that he ever actually said he would definitely do things this way. The verb appears twice again in this passage, both times in verse 17, translated by the TNIV as “intended” and “did… make plans.” And the reason for Paul’s change of plans had nothing to do with his own personal fulfillment. His concern was entirely for what was in the best interests of the Corinthians.

But what about 2 Corinthians 2:12-13? Paul has now left Ephesus, heading overland to Greece, to meet up with Titus who has been in Corinth and find out if things were better with the church there. Apparently, the two have an agreed-upon travel route, each coming from opposite directions, and they are not sure at what point they will meet up. As he always does as he travels, Paul will also preach the gospel in the communities through which he passes. He does so at Troas, in what we would today call northwestern Turkey. Apparently, there was a good enough response there and perhaps invitations to stay longer than he had originally planned so that Paul can write “that the Lord had opened a door for me.”

But the main purpose of his trip is to meet up with Titus, in hopes of hearing that things are well enough in Corinth for him to continue on to that city. Paul’s lack of peace comes from not encountering Titus and thus from not yet receiving that good news. So he continues on his journey. This is a far cry from making a promise to engage in ministry at one location, subsequently not having a peace about it, and so going elsewhere. It is the exact opposite. The lack of peace comes because Paul’s original and primary commitment has not yet been fulfilled. He must remain faithful to that and not be tempted to go back on it in favor of a new opportunity, however alluring it must have been to stay in Troas to lead more to Christ.

I’m afraid the sermon my friend heard must have exactly inverted Paul’s original meaning. 2 Corinthians 1-2 is all about promise-keeping and in no way justifies promise-breaking because of new, unforeseen opportunities that are more personally appealing.

Craig Blomberg

The Gospel of Duck Dynasty in 15 Seconds.


The Gospel of Duck Dynasty in 15 Seconds

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty is an entertainer who looks like Moses and jokes like Bill Cosby. But having a quick wit isn’t a bad thing when the message is sin, righteousness, and judgment—a.k.a. the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Apparently something rather large must have happened two-thousand and thirteen years ago, or we wouldn’t all be counting time by Jesus of Nazareth,” Phil Robertson dryly remarks during one of his messages at Saddleback Church in Southern California on July 21, 2013.

Laughter erupts.

“So, what happened?” Phil continues, imitating a conversation.
“Uh, that’s the year Jesus showed up.”
“Oh, no. You mean here I am, an atheist, I don’t even believe in Him and I have to be reminded of the date He showed up every time I write a check?”

More laughs. Phil then delivers the Bible’s big, offensive message with the kindness of a grandfather.

Here’s the 15-second recap:

·         Why did God become human? Because He wanted you to understand that He loves you. He needed to pay the price for your sin.

·         We all know we’re guilty of doing wrong. The question is what can we do about it?

·         Let’s not justify ourselves and try to pretend what good people we are.

·         Let’s compare ourselves with Jesus. He never violated the law.

·         He died so that all of your sins could be forgiven.

·         And because Christ rose from the dead, He can give you victory over death too.

          (Hey, eternal healthcare that’s free. Sounds a whole lot better than Obamacare!)

·         So, what’s wrong with Jesus? Why not trust Him?

Does that sound like the historic Christian gospel to you? It should. Sometime around 54 A.D. Paul the Apostle said as much to the early Christians in Corinth, Greece (1 Corinthians 15:1-26). He was beaten, jailed, and eventually executed for that message.

Yes, it might be technically true that the gospel doesn’t get preached on the show Duck Dynasty (as some have pointed out). But we see a number of interesting people who are impacted by the gospel. Duck Dynasty is just plain old, good TV. It is entertainment, and that’s part of God’s common grace to all people (Acts 14:17). We can enjoy shows like Duck Dynasty with thanks (1 Tim. 4:4).

A lot of funny things happen in the day-to-day lives of this rare, intact family called the Robertsons. Along the way, we catch glimpses of the gospel’s footprint in people who are redeemed by Christ. And because they’re interesting people, they’ve earned a platform in pop culture that allows them to proclaim the gospel message broadly and more clearly when opportunities arise.

Phil likes to keep things simple at such opportunities.
1)      I’m a guilty sinner.
2)      Jesus is the sinless sacrifice, who died for me and my sins.
3)      Forgive me, Jesus. I trust you.
4)      Lord, remember me after Your resurrection. Take me to be with You forever.

In other words, Phil sticks to what the thief on the cross next to Jesus would have understood. Maybe it’s because that’s what anyone hoping to beat death needs to hear and believe.

Yes, the gospel does go deeper. But Phil isn’t leading a church. He’s leading the life to which God called him, and he’s leading his family.

Phil’s life shows that the gospel leads people out of sin (Titus 2:11-14). It causes people to love God not hate Him, or (worse) ignore Him (1Cor. 16:221Peter 1:8). It rescues us from self-worship and leads us to worship Christ the rightful King, joyfully submitting to Him and loving His Word (1 Peter 2:1-3).

Because Jesus loves us, we can love others—both inside the church and out. All of that starts with receiving His love, embracing His truth, and loving Him back.

As Phil would say, “What’s wrong with that?”

By Alex Crain, Alex Crain is editor of Christianity.com

Alex Crain is the editor of Christianity.com and a contributing editor for BibleStudyTools.com. He also serves as pastor of worship ministries at Harvest Christian Fellowship in the Richmond, VA area. Alex and his wife were married in 1995 and have three children. You can follow him on Twitter @Alex_Crain.  

Phil Robertson’s book, Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander is featured in the following interviews with him on GodTube.com and Crosswalk.com.

(Image credit: Saddleback Church Media Center)

The Responsibility of Freedom in Christ?.


In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul tells Christians that freedom in Christ is a serious responsibility. Yes, we can eat what we want, spend our time as we please, and pursue activities we enjoy. However, as believers, we are inseparably joined to Christ’s church. This means that when we die, we are raised up to live with Him forever. And even before that time, while we live on this earth, our bodies and souls are united with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:14–15). Simply put, they are not our own.

As temporary owners of these bodies, we have the responsibility to find out what is and what is not good for them. We must exercise discipline with our God-given liberties because there is no value in “freedom” that spiritually cripples believers or causes pain, shame, and guilt.

Notice the distinction that Paul makes between freedom in Christ and reckless abandon: God’s grace and forgiveness cover our sins, but that doesn’t give us permission to engage in harmful behavior. As followers of Jesus, we’re to give ourselves over to the pursuit of godly living, not to self-serving pleasures. Christians are “earthen vessels,” created by God to fulfill His purpose and bring honor and glory to Him (2 Corinthians 4:7). Therefore, anything that violates the human body is not permissible for us.

True freedom means living without the chains of sin and destructive behavior. Jesus Christ paid a price to release you from those bonds. Therefore, do not put your body into slavery to damaging habits. Glorify God with your whole self—heart, mind, soul, and body.

Taken from “Freedom in Christ” by In Touch Ministries (used by permission).

Charles Stanley

Are You an Empowered or Empowering Leader?.


 

D-MinLead-CultureAre you choosing to be an empowered leader or an empowering one? The results for each one couldn’t be more opposite—or impacting. A leader whose focus is holding on to power will ultimately cause a ministry team to fall apart. A leader who centers on others will grow that team and ultimately develop more leaders who empower others to build the kingdom.

Teams don’t need empowered leaders but leaders who are truly empower-ing, who know that serving a church and ministry team is an honor and a privilege. They make their mark not by controlling the team but by challenging, facilitating and empowering the individuals on the team to realize their collective potential for God’s kingdom purposes.

A Self-Assessment

How do you know if you’re empowered or empowering? Ask yourself some important questions and be honest with your answers: Is my leadership more about my own power or empowering the team I’m leading? When people on my team talk, am I really listening to them or am I thinking about what I’m going to say next in response? Does my team feel free to say “no” to me or is their response to me always “yes”? Do I really want and seek out people for my leadership teams who will disagree with me? Do I effectively empower the people on my team? If not, why not? If so, how can I be even better at developing leaders?

A leader who focuses on holding power instead of using it:

  • monopolizes team discussions.
  • fails to delegate responsibilities to the team regularly.
  • has to oversee (or micromanage) every church project.
  • doesn’t include the team in new hires interview process.

From Empowered to Empowering

What does it take for leaders to become empowering? The first area of change must be humility. The second is genuine interest in the lives and growth of the people you lead. The team leader is the ministry’s cultural architect and the pacesetter for the full potential of the team’s effectiveness.

Perhaps the main picture of a disconnected church (or team) in the New Testament was the Corinthian church. If the “big idea” of Paul’s first letter to Corinth could be whittled down to a declarative statement, it would probably read, and I’ll paraphrase: “Don’t compare yourselves. Don’t condemn others. Don’t condone sin. Don’t competewith each other. Don’t campaign for your own interests. Rather, commune with God and each other. Live and serve as one.”

Empowering leaders consistently study and communicate how everything and everyone in their team circle connects. Paul paints a picture of how the roles of believers and team members differ but also of how they have in common this idea of being a part of a greater body. He uses a “supporting ligaments” metaphor in Ephesians: “Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does their part” (Eph. 4:15-16, CEB; italics mine).

While other body parts such as the heart and the head get much more press and attention in sermons and seminars today, Paul draws out a less familiar reference: the supporting ligaments. Physiologically, ligaments are the tough, fibrous tissues that connect our bones and create joints. In a very real sense, our ligaments hold our frame together. They literally keep us from falling apart. Paul draws upon this image to urge the believers of Ephesus to work hard at being joined, held together and built up. Paul, a true teaming leader, calls leaders to do a better job of not only working, but working together. It’s what teaming leaders do.

Written by Robert Crosby


Robert Crosby is an author and professor of practical theology at Southeastern University. His latest book is The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon Press).

Build on the Right Foundation.


For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ1 Corinthians 3:11

What we are told in this verse is that when Paul laid the foundation in Corinth some four years earlier, he was doing nothing more than following God‘s architectural blueprint.

Peter says that foundation was predestined; the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world, who died on the cross, was slain from the foundation of the world. What happened at Calvary two thousand years ago was simply the following of a blueprint that had been predestined in eternity.

It is provided, or as Jude puts it, ” . . .the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). We do not need to go looking for this blueprint in the archives building as though no one knows what the faith is. We have it in the Bible, given by inspiration of God.

This foundation is an unchangeable foundation, not just from place to place as in Ephesus, Corinth, or Thessalonica, but also from generation to generation. This is why Jude says, “I . . .urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” It is not received from the saints; it is delivered to the saints.

But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice [propitiation] for our sins. —1 John 2:1-2

What does John mean? For God to be propitious toward us means that He is favorable toward us, because when Jesus died He was the propitiation who satisfied the justice of God! Thus, calling this foundation propitious simply means that all who rest on it are saved. The superstructure may go wrong, but all who rest upon the foundation are saved.

Excerpted from When God Says “Well Done!” (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1993).

By R. T. KENDALL.

Loving one another…


“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal…And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
-1 Corinthians 13:1,13

Paul wrote one of the greatest texts in western literature, 1 Corinthians 13, about what it means to love one another. Written for all, it was first read by the Christians in Corinth, a fabulously wealthy city where anybody – former slaves or freeborn persons, people who had nothing – could go there, start businesses as merchants, and become extremely wealthy. It was a place of commerce, business, and trade. Corinth was the place that you could go to and make all your dreams come true. Because of that, Corinth was quite a competitive place – in business, sports, etc.

Paul saw that this competitive spirit was working its way into the church of Corinth when he spots two types of people:

1. The super apostle. These were people who said, “Don’t listen to Paul. Listen to me. I am so spiritual that I can do miracles, speak in unknown tongues, and do other amazing things. Don’t listen to those silly guys from Jerusalem. I am much more spiritual than they are.”

2. The legalist. These were people who said, “If you want to be a Christian, you have to follow the rules about the clothes you wear, the food you eat, and guys, you have to get circumcised. If you really want to live in the kingdom of God, you have to follow these rigid rules.”

First Corinthians 13 is primarily written to those types of people. Paul says it’s not about being super spiritual and it’s not about soul-killing legalism and religiosity. It’s simply about loving one another. That is the call to moral good.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to discover and overcome any legalistic or super religious ways, especially those that get in the way of showing your grace through love to others. Amen.

Devotion: Are you a super apostle? A legalist? Now that you’ve read the descriptions of both, how will you revise your behavior so you can be more loving towards others?

By Bobby Schuller, Crystal Cathedral Pastor

Tag Cloud