Let Nothing Move You – 1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. -1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV

This verse reminds me very much of a recent picture making the rounds on Facebook. In the center of the picture is a lighthouse setting on a rock in a storm. The waves are crashing around the lighthouse. But it’s foundation is firm and the lighthouse stands secure; no matter what the storm throws at it, nothing moves it.

Even so, as a believer in Christ Jesus, stand firm in the hope we have in him. Don’t let the storms of life move you from him. Instead, like that lighthouse, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).”

When life is at its roughest, remember the lighthouse, stand firm, and be a light in the darkness. Your faithfulness will not be forgotten.

let nothing move you
Standing firm through the storm

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Hope in Christ – 1 Corinthians 15:19

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. – 1 Corinthians 15:19 NIV

Are the dead raised to life again? Or is this life all that there is for us? The church at Corinth was struggling with this question. And Paul emphatically affirms to them that Christ has been raised from the dead. And that those who belong to him will also be raised from the dead.

The importance of our coming resurrection is hard to overestimate. As believers, we are called on to deny ourselves the pleasures of this world, looking forward instead to a future in heaven in the presence of God. But if in reality there is no resurrection, then we are of all people, most to be pitied. To turn our backs on this world, and all it offers, for a non-existent future is foolish.

But Christ has been raised from the dead. And his resurrection points to our future resurrection as well. And because there is a resurrection, our hope in Christ is real, it is not in vain. In the end, those who have lost their lives for Christ’s sake, will find a new, and eternal, life in him. What we gain is infinitely greater than what we lose.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. – 1 John 3:2-3

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Encouraging Speech – 1 Corinthians 14:19

But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. – 1 Corinthians 14:19 NIV

This passage is contrasting speaking in tongues and prophesying. The one edifies the individual while the second builds up the body. They each have their place, but when we are together, prophecy is preferable.

I am a Baptist, and we do not do the tongues thing, at least not that we will admit. But how often when we gather together for ‘fellowship’ do we overflow with words that have no real value to the ones who hear us. Don’t get me wrong; chit chat is OK, although I am not very good at it. But how much better would it be to speak an encouraging word to each other. Let’s seek to use our words to build each other up (Eph. 4:29). Practice encouraging speech.

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Love: the Most Excellent Way – 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

​ 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. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:8a, 13 NIV

In the midst of a discussion, and correction, concerning gifts and their usage, Paul interjects this discourse on love. This may initially seem out of place. But the church at Corinth was bickering about many things, including the giftedness Paul is discussing. And so he reminds them that there is something better than any spiritual gift they might seek. And that is love. No matter what your gift and how well you use it, without love, it is worthless. To love is greater than anything else we can aspire to. Follow the way of love, the most excellent way!

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Spiritual Giftedness – 1 Corinthians 12:7

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. – 1 Corinthians 12:7 NIV

The model of the church as the body of Christ is a very common one in the New Testament. And this chapter is very instrumental in developing that model. Christ is the head of the body (Eph. 1:22-23). As believers, we are members together in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27). The Holy Spirit has baptized (or immersed) us into the body, regardless of who or what we once were (1 Cor. 12:13). In addition to bringing us into the body, the Holy Spirit also equips us to serve within the body.

This chapter is about gifts. Most of us like receiving gifts. Generally a gift is given for me to enjoy. While I may share it with others, it is still mine. But the gifts talked about in this chapter are different. They are not really for me. They are for the common good of the body. Rather than being like a Christmas or birthday present given for my use, the gifts of the Spirit are given to me for the body, enabling the body to be more effective. The gifts of the Spirit are really gifts to the body of Christ.

If you are a believer, you are: a part of the body of Christ; equipped to enable the body; and needed by the rest of the body. The body will only be healthy and accomplishing it’s Great Commission task when each of us who are a part of it are faithful to be the effective body part we were equipped to be (Eph. 4:16). The body of Christ needs you, and me, and the gift(s) the Holy Spirit has given us. Let’s not let each other down. And, more importantly, let’s not let Christ, our head, down.

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The Lord’s Supper – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. – 1 Corinthians 11:23b-26 NIV

There are a variety of views as to what the bread and wine/juice represent in the Lord’s Supper. To some they become the literal body and blood of Jesus. To others they only symbolize his body and blood. And there are a number of views between those two, as well as how they might serve as a vehicle for receiving God’s grace.

But regardless how one views the elements, it is clear from this passage that the Lord’s Supper has both a backward and a forward looking significance. Looking back, we remember Christ’s sacrifice for us. Looking forward, we are issuing a proclamation of his death, until he returns. I should never participate in the Lord’s Supper without it being a remembrance of what he has done for me, as well as looking forward to his return.

Jesus death on the cross redeemed me from the empty way of life I had, and brought me into the fullness of a relationship with my creator. And I celebrate that whenever I share at his table. The Lord’s Supper may be more a meal of remembrance to some. But it should be at least that to all believers.

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Resisting Temptation – 1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV

This is one of the very first verses I ever memorized outside of a classroom. As a young man I saw this as a significant promise that would enable me to live the life that God had called me to. This verse tells me three things. First of all that the temptations I face in life are not unique to me. Whether as an 18 year old new believer heading into the Navy, or of a 64 year old senior, my temptations are generally the same as everyone else’s. That is not to say that everyone faces all of the same temptations, but none of us have temptations that are unique to themselves.

The second thing that Paul says in this verse is that God knows me and what I am capable of overcoming. And he will not allow temptation, or trials, to come my way that I am not capable of overcoming. Never can I honestly say that I had no choice about giving in, that resisting temptation was too hard.

And, finally, the promise that he will always provide a way for me to endure the temptation that he allows to come to me. I am not left to deal with temptation on my own. I need only look for the way of escape. That way may be through the Scripture, as it was for Jesus in his wilderness temptations (Matt. 4:1-11). Or it may be to run like Joseph did when tempted by Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39:11-12). If I succumb to temptation, it is only because I chose my own way rather than the way God provided.

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Run to Get the Prize – 1 Corinthians 9:24

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. – 1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV

As a runner, this is an analogy that really strikes home. The Isthmian Games were held at Corinth and included running, boxing, jumping and throwing. These games required extensive training, so it was limited mostly to young men who were wealthy and didn’t have to work. All of the contestants for an event would compete against each other. But only the winner of an event received a prize. There were no participation medals as is frequently seen today. The prize itself had very little value, being a laurel wreath to wear on your head. It’s primary value laid in the honor it bestowed to the champion.

In contrast to that is the race we run as believers. We run for a crown that will never wear out, a crown of great value. What does it take to win that crown? I practice running; a lot. I have learned that you cannot compete in a race if you have not invested time in preparing for it. And that is true for the race I run as a believer. While I am not competing against other believers for a single crown (the analogy breaks down here), nonetheless, I need to fix my eye on the goal (Phil. 3:13-14), and run with perseverance. Being sidetracked by other things and not focusing on the race, my walk with Christ, is guaranteed to result in disappointment.

Persevere in your faith, until the end. That persevering faith will guarantee you victory (1 John 5:4). Run to get the prize.

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A Stumbling Block to the Weak – 1 Corinthians 8:9

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. – 1 Corinthians 8:9 NIV

Should I or shouldn’t I? As a Christian is it OK for me to [fill in the blank]? Sometimes the Scripture is clear, or at least reasonably so. But at other times the Scripture is silent or vague. When the Bible is not clear, how can I know what is OK? As a general rule, at least with these ‘disputable matters’, let your conscious be your guide. If you have any question about the appropriateness of your action you should abstain.

But Paul, in this chapter, is more concerned about how my actions impact other believers. I may recognize something as OK and indulge with a clear conscious. But what if another believer, whose conscious is weaker, sees me do that. Might they be encouraged to follow my example? And if they do, they have sinned, not because the action was inherently wrong, but because it violated their conscious. And I bear some responsibility for that sin.

I do not drink; at all. For two reasons. The first is that I have never developed a taste for alcohol of any kind; it is just nasty. And the second is because of the example I set to other people. I have absolutely no qualms about a glass of wine with a meal; I could drink it with a clear conscious. But what about the young believer who has doubt about it? If they see me partake, they may also be encouraged to drink. And I then have sinned against them, wounded their conscious, and sinned against Christ (1 Cor. 8:12). Paul ends this chapter with a pledge to not do anything that is going to cause another person to fall into sin. Seems like a good, and loving, pledge to take.

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Contentment in Life – 1 Corinthians 7:24

Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. – 1 Corinthians 7:24 NIV

This can be a challenging verse. As a child of God, are you married or single? Rich, poor, or in between? White, black, or brown? Man, woman, or child? Whatever condition you find yourself in, learn to be content. Learn to honor God in the situation you are in.

I do not believe that Paul is arguing against ever changing our situation. While he tells the Corinthians to be content if they are slaves, he does recommend they accept their freedom if it is offered. Instead, he would seem to be focusing our attention on what is more important. My life here is only temporary, and I have an eternity to look forward to. I should not invest all of my time and energy in changing my position in this world. A position that will only endure for a few years. Instead, I should focus on what is to come, looking forward and preparing for it. Don’t let your position in this life get you down. Be content and rejoice that you are loved.

Paul further expresses his thoughts on this in Philippians 4:12-13 in response to a gift sent him by the Philippian church. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

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