Posts tagged ‘1 Corinthians’

February 28, 2014

843 Acres: On Pitying Entrepreneurs (and Christians)

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 29 (txt | aud, 2:07 min)
1 Cor 15 (txt | aud, 6:48 min)
Highlighted: 1 Cor 15:19

Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurs sacrifice a lot to accomplish a greater goal. Many leave successful careers in well-established companies, steady incomes and bonuses, and large staffs that take care of all the incidentals of running a business. As a result, entrepreneurs usually live modestly—spending their money and time more strategically and deliberately than they did before. Of course, in their minds, all the sacrifices are worth it because they have a goal in mind—to make their startup successful. They think, “It won’t always be this way. I’ll sow the sacrifices now so that I’ll reap the benefits later.”

Christians: Like entrepreneurs, Christians don’t live for today, but for tomorrow. Our goal is great—to make much of Christ in the only life that we have. We live modestly because we know that our treasure is in heaven, and we spend our time strategically because we know that our lives are precious and short. We think, “It won’t always be this way. We’ll sow sacrifices now so that we’ll reap rewards later.”

Success: In both cases, however, there’s a harsh reality—that the worth of our sacrifice depends on the reality of our success. As Paul wrote, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” Entrepreneurs and Christians alike pour out blood, sweat, and tears into realizing their goal. Yet their ventures cannot be based solely on passion; they must be based on truth. If the startup venture fails, then we pity the entrepreneur. If the biblical portrayal of Jesus isn’t true, then we pity the Christian. Why? Because both of them sacrificed so much for nothing.

Prayer: Lord, Many generations have gone before us and have been commended for their faith—yet none of them received what had been promised. Together with them, we live by faith that looks to the life that is to come. Although we cannot yet see it with our eyes, we thank you for Jesus, who came to live on earth, who bled and died in his mortality, and who rose again for hundreds to bear witness to his resurrection. Therefore, let us give ourselves to risk and sacrifice for the sake of the gospel. For our best life is later, not now. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Readings

Saturday, March 1: Job 30 (txt | aud, 2:54 min) & 1 Cor 16 (txt | aud, 2:22 min)
Sunday, March 2: Job 31 (txt | aud, 3:59 min) & 2 Cor 1 (txt | aud, 3:28 min)

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February 27, 2014

843 Acres #TBT: The Wisdom of God

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 28 (txt | aud, 2:37 min)
1 Cor 14 (txt | aud, 4:37 min)

Job. Job 28: 12, 23, 28

But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? … God understands the way to it, and he knows its place … And he said to man, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.”

A.W. Tozer. The Knowledge of the Holy.

In the Holy Scriptures, wisdom, when used of God and good men, always carries a strong moral connotation. It is conceived as being pure, loving, and good. Wisdom that is mere shrewdness is often attributed to evil men, but such wisdom is treacherous and false. These two kinds of wisdom are in perpetual conflict. Indeed, when seen from the lofty peak of Sinai or Calvary, the whole history of the world is discovered to be but a contest between the wisdom of God and the cunning of Satan and fallen men. The outcome of the contest is not in doubt. The imperfect must fall before the perfect at last. God has warned that He will take the wise in their own craftiness and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

Wisdom, among other things, is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means. It sees the end from the beginning, so there can be no need to guess or conjecture. Wisdom sees everything in focus, each in proper relation to all, and is thus able to work toward predestined goals with flawless precision.

All God’s acts are done in perfect wisdom, first for His own glory, and then for the highest good of the greatest number for the longest time. And all His acts are as pure as they are wise, and as good as they are wise and pure. Not only could His acts not be better done: a better way to do them could not be imagined. An infinitely wise God must work in a manner not to be improved upon by finite creatures.

O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast Thou made them all. The earth is full of Thy riches!

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February 26, 2014

843 Acres: Imagination in the Overlap of the Ages

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 27 (txt | aud, 2:13 min)
1 Cor 13 (txt | aud, 2:00 min)
Highlighted: 1 Cor 13:12

At the age of 6, the Little Prince abandons “a magnificent career as an artist” when the adults around him misunderstand his drawings. “Grown-ups never understand anything themselves,” he laments, “and it is exhausting for children to have to provide explanations over and over again.”

The Little Prince is right. As we age, we lose the ability to imagine. In fact, brain-imaging studies suggest that imagination loss is linked to memory loss. As Harvard researcher Donna Rose Addis explains, “Our theory of how one puts together a future event is that … you take bits of information from past events and you kind of recombine those and integrate them into some new scenario that hasn’t happened before.” In other words, we struggle to imagine because we struggle to remember …

Like the prophets, we live in an age where many things—but not all things—have been revealed. We have seen the glory of the Father in Christ Jesus, but the fullness of redemption has not yet been revealed. Some theologians call this “the overlap of the ages” or “the already but not yet.”

Again, here, our ability to remember affects our ability to imagine. For example, if we frequently remember that we were once “separated from Christ” with “no hope and without God in the world” [1], then it becomes easy to imagine that there is no one beyond his grace and redemption. He died for us when we hated him. Is anyone beyond this salvation?

In this age, when we are not yet made perfect, imagination is integral to all of our relationships. John writes, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared” [2], and Paul says, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully.” [3]

In The Meaning of Marriage, Tim and Kathy Keller write, “If you don’t see your mate’s deep flaws and weaknesses and dependencies, you’re not even in the game. But if you don’t get excited about the person your spouse has already grown into and will become, you aren’t tapping into the power of marriage as spiritual friendship. The goal is to see something absolutely ravishing that God is making the beloved. You see even now flashes of glory. You want to help your spouse become the person God wants him or her to be.”

Note: This excerpt was taken from an article written by Bethany Jenkins and originally published: here.

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Footnotes

[1] Ephesians 1:12 | [2] 1 John 3:2 | [3] 1 Corinthians 13:12

February 25, 2014

843 Acres Tweetable Tuesdays: Honoring the Weak

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 25-26 (txt | aud, 1:53 min)
1 Cor 12 (txt | aud, 3:24 min)

Discerning Brokenness

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 1 Cor 11 #elitism

If you honor a rich man, not a poor one, at your meeting, “have you not then made distinctions among yourselves?” Jms 2 #favoritism

Screwtape identifies elitist humanity’s tendency of ingrained habit of belittling anything that concerns the great mass of fellow man. #CSL

Imagining Redemption

The body does not consist of one member but of many … The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. 1 Cor 12

But God has so composed the body, giving great honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body. 1 Cor 12

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Cor 12

Praying ACTS

Lord, we #adore you for hating elitism and favoritism for, in light of your glory, we are the weak. And Jesus humbled himself for us.

Yet we #confess that the habit of belittling others is ingrained in us. We often look at those ahead of us, but rarely look at those behind.

We give #thanks to Jesus, who offered his body to unite us. Even he – the Lord of Lords – humbled himself to suffer and rejoice with us.

Make us hate our sin of comparison and favoritism. Open our hearts to love humility, honoring the weak as indispensable. Amen. #supplication

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February 24, 2014

843 Acres: Communion as a Cultural Challenge

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 24 (txt | aud, 2:48 min)
1 Cor 11 (txt | aud, 3:46 min)
Highlighted: 1 Cor 11:26

Challenge: Reverend Peter Leithart, when asked to identify “the biggest cultural challenge facing American Evangelicals” didn’t offer any of the many hot button topics we might expect. Instead, he said that the biggest cultural challenge is not “out there” in culture, but “internal” to Evangelicalism. He said that it is “the persistent marginalization of the Eucharist in Evangelical church life, piety, and political engagement.” [1]

Eucharist: Here, in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul talks about the Lord’s Supper. He laments that, although the Christians in Corinth are meeting physically for the meal, their hearts are full of division. Then he gives them instructions and reminds them, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” [2]

Proclamation: Leithart continues, “The church is called to keep our Lord Jesus, his death and resurrection, as the focal point of worship, witness, service, and mission. How do we protect ourselves from darting off after each fresh fad? Jesus didn’t think Christ-centered preaching would be enough. He left his church not only with a gospel to preach, but rites of water, bread, and wine to practice. It’s difficult to forget Christ and his cross when we proclaim his death in the breaking of bread at the climax of every week’s worship. When the Sign seals the Word, the church becomes a communion of martyrs ready to bear the cross because they have consumed the cross. Sharing the Supper forges us into a corporate body that participates in Christ through the Spirit. By the Spirit, we become what we receive: “We are one body because we partake of one loaf.” [3]

Prayer: Lord, We confess that we have taken communion lightly. We have eaten of the bread and drunk of the wine when we have had dissentious hearts that are angry with one another. As a result, by our disunity we have failed to proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Forgive us, Lord, and cause us to seek reconciliation before we approach the table this Sunday. May we worship at the table as much as we do the pulpit. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Peter Leithart. “Do This.” First Things. December 2013. | [2] 1 Corinthians 11:26 ESV | [3] 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

February 21, 2014

843 Acres: God Moves in a Mysterious Way

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 21 (txt | aud, 2:50 min)
1 Cor 8 (txt | aud, 1:39 min)
Highlighted: Job 21

Mysterious: There are some things that we may never understand in this age. Why does God make orphans of young children while many of us have two parents still living? Why are some women who long for children unable to get pregnant while other women who desperately don’t want kids getting pregnant? Why are some Christians violently persecuted for their faith while others live in freedom?

Confusing: Knowing his own righteousness, Job looks around at the prosperity of the wicked and asks, “Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power? … They spend their days in prosperity, and in peace they go down to [the grave]. They say to God, ‘Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways.’” [1] Yes, he agrees with his friends in theory—that “the exulting of the wicked is short”—but he fails to see how this plays out in reality: “Have you not asked those who travel the roads, and do you not accept their testimony that the evil man is spared in the day of calamity, that he is rescued in the day of wrath? … How then will you comfort me with empty nothings? There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.” [2]

When we see Jesus on the cross, however, we see how difficult it is to assess the Lord’s mysterious ways. Jesus was mocked and murdered. Evil won in the short-run. Yet Jesus was the only perfectly obedient Son. He secured the victory of His people for eternity when he conquered death and rose from the grave.

Worship/Prayer (audio):

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Readings

Saturday, February 22: Job 22 (txt | aud, 2:42 min) & 1 Cor 9 (txt | aud, 3:34 min)
Sunday, February 23: Job 23 (txt | aud, 1:33 min) & 1 Cor 10 (txt | aud, 3:42 min)

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Footnotes

[1] Job 21:7, 13-14 ESV | [2] Job 21:29-30, 34 ESV

February 20, 2014

843 Acres #TBT: From Mourning to Dancing

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 20 (txt | aud, 2:46 min)
1 Cor 7 (txt | aud, 5:24 min)

Zophar: Job 20:29

Believing that Job suffered greatly because he sinned greatly, Zophar reminded Job of the fate of the wicked: 

This is the wicked man’s portion from God, the heritage decreed for him by God.

Yet we know that Zophar was mistaken. [1] We also know, however, that we sometimes suffer for no known, specific reason, too. What is our hope in these mysterious times?

Henri Nouwen: Turn My Mourning Into Dancing: Finding Hope in Hard Times (an excerpt)

We also like easy victories: growth without crisis, healing without pains, the resurrection without the cross … No wonder our communities seem organized to keep suffering at a distance: People are buried in ways that shroud death with euphemism and ornate furnishings. Institutions hide away the mentally ill and criminal offenders in a continuing denial that they belong to the human family. Even our daily customs lead us to cloak our feelings and speak politely through clenched teeth and prevent honest, healing confrontation. Friendships become superficial and temporary.

The way of Jesus looks very different. While Jesus brought great comfort and came with kind words and a healing touch, he did not come to take all our pains away … Instead, Christ invites us to remain in touch with the many sufferings of every day and to taste the beginning of hope and new life right there, where we live amid our hurts and pains and brokenness. By observing his life, his followers discover that when all of the crowd’s “Hosannas” had fallen silent, when disciples and friends had left him, and after Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” then it was that the Son of Man rose from death. Then he broke through the chains of death and became Savior. That is the patient way, slowly leading me from the easy triumph to the hard victory.

I am less likely to deny my suffering when I learn how God uses it to mold me and draw me closer to him. I will be less likely to see my pains as interruptions to my plans and more able to see them as the means for God to make me ready to receive him. I let Christ live near my hurts and distractions. I remember an old priest who one day said to me, “I have always been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted; then I realized that the interruptions were my work.” The unpleasant things, the hard moments, the unexpected setbacks carry more potential than we usually realize. For the movement from Palm Sunday to Easter takes us from the easy victory to the hard victory offered by the God who waits to purify us by his patient, carrying hand.

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Footnotes

[1] See Job 1.

February 19, 2014

843 Acres: Is God a Friend or an Enemy?

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 19 (txt | aud, 2:58 min)
1 Cor 6 (txt | aud, 2:36 min)
Highlighted: Job 19

Lonely: Although Job has lost his family, wealth, and health, what makes his suffering so unbearable is his loneliness. Everyone around him believes that God has it out for him. So they’d rather stay away in case a freak accident happens. In a sad speech, Job laments, “ … those who knew me are wholly estranged from me. My relatives have failed me, my close friends have forgotten me. The guests in my house and my maidservants count me as a stranger; I have become a foreigner in their eyes. I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer; I must plead with him with my mouth for mercy. My breath is strange to my wife, and I am a stench to the children of my own mother. Even young children despise me; when I rise they talk against me, and those whom I loved have turned against me.” [1]

Abandoned: Job laments that God has abandoned him, too: “Behold, I cry out, ‘Violence!’ but I am not answered; I call for help, but there is no justice.” [2] His cause has been forgotten; justice has been temporarily denied. How do we handle this? Do we harden our hearts? Do we become increasingly skeptical or bitter?

Hope: Yet Job still turns to God: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.” [3] Reverend John Lin says that Job faces a problem—he “needs a kinsman-redeemer who is God and who will also stand up against God.” Who is this person? Jesus, our “older brother and kinsman-redeemer, who stands as God before God on our behalf so that in our flesh we shall see God.

Prayer: Lord, Jesus was abandoned in his suffering so that we would know your presence in ours. Today, when we call out for help and justice, we can lift up our eyes to the cross and see that he himself is our advocate and mediator, who covers our shame in the presence of your justice. May we lean on him so that we may see you. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Job 19:13-19 ESV | [2] Job 19:7 ESV | [3] Job 19:23-24 ESV

February 18, 2014

843 Acres Tweetable Tuesdays: Sexual Immorality

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 18 (txt | aud, 1:55 min)
1 Cor 5 (txt | aud, 1:50 min)
Highlighted: 1 Cor 5:1

Discerning Brokenness

“… there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.” #1Cor5

“You shall not commit adultery.” But I say everyone who looks at a woman w/lustful intent has committed adultery in his heart. #Matt5

Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity … bc these are improper for God’s holy people. #Eph5

Imagining Redemption

The monstrosity of premarital sex is that it isolates one type union (sexual) from all other types, which together make up a total union. [1]

“Sex inside a covenant is a sacrament—an external symbol of an invisible reality.” @timkellernyc

Sex is an instinct that produces an institution; it is positive, not negative; noble, not base; creative, not destructive. #Chesterton [2] 

Praying ACTS

Lord, We #adore you for making sex a beautiful and pleasurable physical act that celebrates the wholeness and vulnerability of marriage.

Yet we #confess that we’ve been sexually impure in thought + deed. For you call us to sexual purity, which is broader than we often think.

Therefore, admitting our sins, we #thank you for Christ, who is our atoning sacrifice and our bridegroom in the ultimate union before you.

Cause us to hold one another’s bodies as precious in your sight. Keep us from lustful temptation. Guard our eyes and hearts. #supplication

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Footnotes

[1] This is somewhat of a paraphrase of C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, who writes, “The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside of marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union.” | [2] This is somewhat of a paraphrase of G.K. Chesterton in G.K.’s Weekly (January 29, 1928.) “Sex is an instinct that produces an institution; and it is positive and not negative, noble and not base, creative and not destructive, because it produces this institution. That institution is the family; a small state or commonwealth which has hundreds of aspects, when it is once started, that are not sexual at all. It includes worship, justice, festivity, decoration, instruction, comradeship, repose. Sex is the gate of that house; and romantic and imaginative people naturally like looking through a gateway. But the house is very much larger than the gate. There are indeed a certain number of people who like to hang about the gate and never get any further.”

February 17, 2014

843 Acres: Our Paradox in Suffering

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 16-17 (txt | aud, 3:35 min)
1 Cor 4 (txt | aud, 2:55 min)
Highlighted: Job 16

Friends: In the second round of conversation between Job and his friends, the tension grows. Eliphaz is even more convinced than ever that Job has done something sinful to deserve his suffering, but he still can’t find any obvious sin in Job’s life. So he starts to criticize Job’s response to his suffering: “Your own mouth condemns you, not mine.” [1] Then he presumptively questions him: “What do you know that we do not know? What insights do you have that we do not have?” [2]

Job: But Job does know something that they don’t. He knows that there’s no secret sin in his life. So he cries out to God, “Surely, God, you have worn me out … All was well with me, but he shattered me.” [3] Yet after blaming God, he then turns to God for help: “Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God.” [4]

Paradox: This is odd. Usually, when someone hurts us, we turn to someone else for help. Here, though, Job turns to God, the very one whom he says has caused his pain. Elsewhere, in Hosea, we read, “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us … After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.” [5] As we now know, there came a man, Jesus, who suffered innocently by the intentional will of the Father. When he turned to God for help, he was forsaken. Yet God raised him up on the third day that, in Christ, we might never be forsaken, that we may live before him.

Prayer: Lord, We confess that, when we feel that you have injured us, we want to run away from you, not to you. Yet what hope do we have besides you? This is our paradox. Your Word, however, tells us that you “delight” in those who fear you and hope in your steadfast love. [6] Therefore, we lift our eyes to the cross to see that ultimate and final suffering is life apart from you. Then turn our eyes to the empty tomb to see that, in Christ, we have hope and safety to live in you. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Job 15:6 NIV | [2] Job 15:9 NIV | [3] Job 16:7, 12 NIV | [4] Job 16:19-21 NIV | [5] Hosea 6:1-2 ESV | [6] Psalm 147:11 ESV

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