1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NIV) 19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
“Paul’s rights, his freedoms, are as nothing; what matters is whether people are being won for God, being saved from the corrupting wickedness around and within them, being rescued from darkness and brought into the light. This statement has sometimes been understood as though it meant that Paul was a mere pragmatist, a spin-doctor, twisting his message this way and that to suit different audiences. That’s not what he’s saying. The message remains constant. It is the messenger who must swallow his pride, who must give up his rights, who must change his freedom into slavery.” [N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians, page 117]
As we worship with the song, “My Hearts is Yours” (click here), let’s pray for greater change in ourselves from the wrong freedoms into right slavery that the people God has brought into our lives would be won for God.
1 Corinthians 8:6 (NIV) 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
“Christian thought begins from a confession that binds us specifically to the one God of Israel and declares our personal union with and allegiance to this one God. We exist “for him,” not for our own purposes. To the extent that this confession of the one God echoes the Shema, we should also hear the echo of that text’s call to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5).”[Hays, Richard B., First Corinthians: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, page 140.]
Wanting to love others and go all out for God’s kingdom and building of his church stems from the heart confession that there is but “one God, the Father and Lord, Jesus Christ…from whom all things came and for whom we live.”
Prayer: Let’s confess how we are living for our one God, the Father and Lord Jesus Christ and let’s worship to this song, “Living With A Fire” (click here) by Jesus Culture.
1 Corinthians 8:1-3, 13 (NIV)8 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
“Knowledge and love are thus contrasted in two ways. First, the net effect of each (knowledge puffs up; love builds up); second, the difference it makes for the one doing the knowing or loving.” [Fee, Gordon D.,The First Epistle to the Corinthians, p.364]
“Love trumps knowledge. The central message of this chapter is a simple one: Love is more important than knowledge. Paul calls for a shift from gnosis to agape as the ordering principle for Christian discernment and conduct.” [Hays, Richard B., First Corinthians: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, p. 145]
Prayer: “Thank you Lord that I no longer need to relate to others in my “knowledge” or pride, but now, I can live in the new way of your love. Would you fill me with your Holy Spirit and empower me with your love so that I can go all out in your love for the building of others, your church. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
Let’s also worship along with this song, “Hands to the Heavens” (click here) by Kari Jobe.
1 Corinthians 8:9-12 9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
We often go about our daily decisions, actions and lives without second thought of how this might impact one another in the church. But, our daily lives (or one can say daily “lifestyle”) can be more impactful to others than what we might “say.” As we can see here, by what others “see” in us or by our example, we can cause harm or even to the extent become a stumbling block, which can destroy their faith. Let us be careful with how we live our daily lives. Let us be considerate of how our daily lives matter before the Lord and impact others.
Reflection/Prayer: Are there lifestyle patterns or habits that might be hindering or harmful to others around you? Let’s stop whatever may be causing harm and confess the ways we may need to change before the Lord. Let’s pray that there will be “more of Jesus and less of me” as we sing along with this song, “More Like Jesus” (click here) by Kristian Stanfill.
Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV) 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
“But quite apart from its function in the argument, this narrative has significance all on its own. Here is the closest thing to Christology that one finds in Paul and here we see again why the ‘scandal of the cross’ was so central to his understanding of everything Christian. For in ‘pouring himself out’ and ‘humbling himself to death on the cross,’ Christ Jesus has revealed the character of God himself. Here is the epitome of God-likeness: the pre-existent Christ was not a ‘grasping, selfish’ being, but one whose love for others found its consummate expression in ‘pouring himself out,’ in taking on the role of a slave, in humbling himself to the point of death on behalf of those so loved. Discipleship in the present calls for servanthood, self-sacrifice for the sake of others.”[Fee, Gordon D., Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (NICNT), Kindle Locations 4673-4679]
Let’s pray that we will have the same mindset as Christ in our relationships with one another in the church. Pray for 2-3 people in your missional group, campus/grad ministry or small group and pray for an opportunity to serve one of them in some way this week.
Let’s close our time in prayer in worship with this song, “How Great Is Your Love,” (click here) by Kristian Stanfill.
Matthew 22:35-40 (NIV) 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
“Once more, what Jesus says here about loving God, and loving one another, only makes sense when we set it within Matthew’s larger gospel picture, of Jesus dying for the sins of the world, and rising again with the message of new life. That’s when these commandments begin to come into their own: when they are seen not as orders to be obeyed in our own strength, but as invitations and promises to a new way of life in which, bit by bit, hatred and pride can be left behind and love can become a reality.” [N.T. Wright, Matthew for Everyone: Part Two, page 95]
Let’s thank God for the reality of His love through Jesus that has changed everything and now we have been invited to live in this new way of life – loving Him and loving others. As this is our heart’s desire, let’s pray that it will bear fruit through out the day in whatever we do and whomever we interact with.
Let’s also worship and be encouraged by this song, “We Could Change the World” (click here) by Matt Redman.
Lord’s Prayer (modified 2014, from NIV, NLT, CEV and ELLC)
Our Father in heaven,
help us to honor your name.
May your kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us for doing wrong,
as we forgive others.
Keep us from being tempted
and protect us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours.
Now and for ever.
Let’s pray today according to the Lord’s prayer, communicating with our heavenly Father, asking for help to honor Him, for His kingdom and will to come and be done, for the daily provision we need, whether physical, spiritual, emotional, or otherwise. Lord, teach us to pray, in the status quo!
Let’s also worship to this song “The Lord Our God” (click here) by Passion.
Matthew 6:31-34 (NIV) 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
We have a heavenly Father who knows what we need even more than we do, and His provision is abundant and abundantly good! In light of that reality, we are free to focus our attention and energies into seeking first His kingdom in the present—in the status quo. And all these things, which includes status and situation, are provided and given to us as well!
“Learned reliance on God’s care for present needs will cause his disciples to develop trust in him for their future needs.”[Michael Wilkins, Matthew, NIV Application Commentary, p.299]
Let’s pray that whatever may or may not happen or change in the future, that we would rely on God’s care in the present by seeking His kingdom with all we have! Pray for those your ministry/church is outreaching to, on the campus, in the city, that they also would come to know our heavenly Father as He desires!
Let’s also worship to the song “Here and Now” (click here) by Eddie Kirkland.
1 Corinthians 7:18-20 18 Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20 Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.
At times we may feel unhappy, limited or overwhelmed in the status or situation we are currently in, and that once our situation changes then we will be able to live for the Lord as we desire. The freedom for us who are in Christ is that it isn’t the change of status that is necessary for us to live out our Christian faith. We are able in the present status or situation to fully love the Lord and live for Him as we desire!
“However one defines ‘the commandments of God,’ keeping them is something that Christians can do in any condition, circumcised or uncircumcised, slave or free, married or celibate. What is important is not the state that one is in, but how one lives ethically in that state.”[David Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary, p.306]
Let’s pray for the heightened awareness and importance of following the Lord in our present status or situation. Pray for our churches to experience and live in this true Christian freedom – unhindered by our current status or situation and able to live for Him!
Let’s also worship the Lord through the song “Yours (Glory and Praise)” (click here) by Elevation Worship.
1 Corinthians 7:17 (NIV) . Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.
“The concept of call is first of all a way of describing Christian conversion…God’s call to Christ that comes in these various settings renders the settings themselves altogether irrelevant. Because of this, change is not necessary; indeed, a person may live out their Christian life in whatever setting that call took place. On the other hand, precisely because the settings are irrelevant, if change does take place, that too is irrelevant. What one is not to do is to seek change as though it had religious significance, which it does not.”[Gordon Fee, 1 Corinthians, New International Commentary on the New Testament, p.341]
Our initial salvation in Christ was something that superseded the situation or status that we were in at the time – it didn’t matter if we were married or single, in school or out of school, had young children or older children or no children, God’s rescue and calling to Christ came into our lives and we responded! Paul’s point is that if one situation or another did not influence our initial calling, neither is change of situation necessary, or even relevant, to living as a believer now. Let’s live as a believer in whatever situation we are in!
Let’s pray for ourselves but also the ministry or small group that we are part of, that in all the various situations we find ourselves in, we will be caught up in the Lord who saved us and called us!
Let’s also worship to this song “Fullness” (click here) by Elevation Worship.