Vs. 1, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” The Apostle Paul was sensitive to the direction of the Holy Spirit. We also remember that Jesus himself prophesied that there would be those who would come with a deceiving spirit (Matthew 24:11). The influence of this spiritual world is something we must remember we battle against (Ephesians 6). Paul makes sure to address two particular false teachings on the abstaining from marriage and certain foods (vs. 3-5). Some of the members in the church were buying into these superstitions (vs. 7). Paul exhorts young Timothy to remember his Godly training (vs. 6-10). And in the last section of our chapter, Paul powerfully inspires Timothy to keep up the good work (vs. 11-16).
Regarding application…Persevere. Vs. 16, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” We all should glean the wisdom that Paul exhorts to Timothy from this verse. Persevere. We get so busy in life that we can sometimes forget to be introspective and watch how we live this life. You may not all be called to be Pastor’s, but our lives should reflect our beliefs. We are all lights and examples to a world that is looking to us. How do we talk? How do act? What does our personal life look like? Persevere dearest brothers and sisters for His glory!
Vs. 11, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” Paul spends the first half our chapter reviewing to the Corinthians the past sins of the Israelites in the wilderness (vs. 1-13). Though many of the Christians were Gentile, it’s easy to assume they would have been quite aware of the Exodus story. He is building upon this whole issue of the Corinthians not living in a way that pleases God, just as those who lived in during the Exodus. Paul then addresses the whole issue of the Corinthians participating in idolatry. Using an example of the Lord’s Supper, Paul wants to convey to them the danger of aligning themselves with the power of this evil world (vs. 14-22). I really like Paul’s summarization in the end of this chapter as he concludes his point he started in chapter 8. Looking closer at vs. 31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do…” Paul goes beyond just the issue of eating meat that was sacrificed to idols. We can apply Paul’s exhortation to a much wider perspective.
Regarding application…Flee from Temptation. Vs. 13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Many years ago, Nancy Hook (who shared the Gospel to me) pointed me towards a Bible memorization toolkit done by the Navigators. This particular verse was one of passages that have been etched in my memory for years! And I can say by the grace of the Lord that this promise has helped me through the years in understanding and knowing that God can deliver me from tough situations. I recall the summer after graduating from high school, I moved up to the big city, Indianapolis, IN (Go Pacers!). There was coworker of mine who had invited a few of us over to her house. We were all hanging out and having fun and then people started leaving, before I knew it, I was the only one left with this female coworker. That night, temptation came. At that time, I wasn’t faithful in my walk with the Lord, but this verse that I had memorized year earlier at 16 came flooding through my mind. To make a long story short, God delivered me that night without giving into temptation! Let us be wise in the things we participate in so that we don’t have to put ourselves in situations that can bring us down.
Vs. 1, “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord?” Question: What is going on here? Paul is continuing the thought process of not being a stumbling block to others even though we have the freedom in some areas in our life. Another factor involved here was that some of the Corinthians were questioning the very validity of Paul’s ministry. Question: Why? Because he chose not to accept money as he served them. Seems odd to us, but not too much has changed. If you volunteer and help vs. getting paid, the expectations change. By Paul not accepting payment, they didn’t see him as a true teacher. Sure, Paul had the right to do it (vs. 1-18), but did so for the sake of the Gospel. But don’t misunderstand, Paul is definitely supporting the reasons why we should financially support those in ministry. Paul was willing to lay aside his own rights for the sake of all types of men (vs. 19-23). In the last section, Paul cheers us on towards the eternal rewards one day in heaven (vs. 24-27).
Regarding application…Sacrificing for Others. Vs. 22, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” Paul was not compromising the Gospel or himself, Paul was willing to sacrifice for others. It wasn’t about what selfish things he wanted, it was for the good of the church and the lost. When I think about sacrificing for others in their culture, that reminds me of when I visited South Korea for the first time since I was adopted in 1996. My adoption agency had invited around forty of us to come back to our Motherland and learn about the culture for a month. It was an amazing time. I was a mere twenty-two years old. A few of us who were Christians wanted to meet each morning to spend time with God and pray. Fortunately, there was a quaint little sanctuary in the center we were staying at. We all got comfortable and sat around and worshipped in the sanctuary. Soon after, the Pastor came and was appalled that we had not taken our shoes off. While I was not trying to share the Gospel, I learned something about accommodating another culture that day. Sure, I had the freedom to wear my shoes, but I needed to sacrifice my own culture for the sake of being a good witness for another.
Vs. 1, “Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Let’s first deal with what was going on historically and culturally. The Corinthians believers were still young in their faith. This food (meat) that was sacrificed to pagan idols was readily available in the pubic market places. Some of the new Christians who came from a heavy pagan background, looked at such meat as tainted and a stumbling block to their faith. There were also Christians in Corinth that had the biblical knowledge that God was the only true God and that this meat sacrificed to idols was fine to eat. Needless to say, this was causing quite a issue for Paul to address it specifically. This issue of eating food sacrificed to idols is one of those grey areas that is quite relevant to today. In a general sense, we are challenged just as the Corinthians in learning how to live a Christian life in a sinful world.
Regarding application…Stumbling Block? Vs. 9, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” Question: Are you a stumbling block to others? Are you living by knowledge or by love? These are the questions we can ask ourselves as we attempt to apply God’s word today. Let me use a present day example. Alcohol. Alcohol is not inherently evil, but we are instructed to not be drunk on wine (Eph 5:18). You are one of those who just occasionally like to drink wine for your steak dinner. You are inviting church members to your house to fellowship. There are some newcomers in the mix. You break out some wine for dinner and little did you know one of the new church members came from an abusive and alcoholic family growing up. In fact, they are attending AA and have recently put their faith in the Lord. They are astonished by your brazen gesture of offering them wine and are so hindered they stop coming to church. Question: Was what you techinically did a sin? Of course not, you didn’t know their background. However, it is very clear that in these gray areas of life, we are to exercise strict discernment in our actions. It is better to be cautious on the safe side in these matters (alcohol, gambling, secular music, buying certain products, etc.) This is not about legalism, it is about loving others more than yourself. What gray areas in your life could be reexamined? Pray and act out in love!
Vs. 3, “On the Sabbaths and New Moons the people of the land are to worship in the presence of the Lord at the entrance to that gateway.” Ezekiel continues to give us some insight regarding worship. Question: Just who is this prince? Some scholars believe it can’t possibly be Jesus, while others state it is Jesus. Regardless, notice how the prince helps to set the example with the others in rightful worship. It’s also important to see the order of worship, for many would come on these days (vs. 9). I really appreciate the order of worship and details that God put importance with inheritance and food sacrifices.
Regarding application…God in the Details. Vs. 24, “He said to me, “These are the kitchens where those who minister at the temple will cook the sacrifices of the people.” It’s kind of cool to think that food is a part of the worship details! Even in the church today, we institute communion. I’m known to be a very detailed person, and I love how there are specific roles in the kingdom of God. I think the challenge for many of us today is not forgetting how details can be a very underestimated part of the worship/church experience. The location of each speaker, where the drums go, the lighting and ambience, the arrangement of the chairs are all important aspects of details that go unnoticed. Of course, in the end…the whole purpose of all these things is the worship of our Lord!
Vs. 1, “Then the LORD said to me: “Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go!” God would respond to Jeremiah’s prayer with this verse. No matter who sought to intercede for Judah, God’s mind was made up…He would not relent. God had chosen the Jews to be a blessing to the world, but now they would become abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth (vs. 4). We must be careful to not assume God enjoyed what He was doing. This brought incredible grief to our Lord just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem many years later. We would see Jeremiah’s heartfelt response as he pleads his case to the Lord. Jeremiah was nearly questioning his purpose and ministry…but God would bring him a test that many of us would find incredibly hard to endure.
Regarding application…God’s Food. Vs. 16, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.” Had Jeremiah forsaken God’s word during this tumultous time…He would not have lasted and endured. We don’t simply read God’s word…even Satan & pagans do that….WE MUST EAT God’s word!!! We must chew and taste the goodness of it. We must let it digest into our souls and let it revitalize our very being! When I come across a fellow believer who has told me they are struggling…the number one thing I ask them is, “Are you doing your QT’s?” Every response I have heard so far is the answer, “NO”. Brothers & Sisters in Christ…are we so dull & ignorant? When we choose to not dine at the table of our King, we WILL grow weak. His Word is the only thing that can sustain us in times of tribulation. We must be grounded in it now, so that when the storms come, we are strong enought to endure. I’ll never grow tired in reminding each of you daily why we must turn to God’s Word! Keep your eyes elevated to Jesus!