Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 6.12-20
12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Reflection: Embodied
By John Tillman

Why do we have bodies?

Some would rather we didn’t. Some say, “My body doesn’t matter. I’m a ghost pilot in a meat robot.” In this vision, the body is a throwaway, inconsequential shell. Some even hope to replace it, change it, or upgrade it.

Even now the bodies of over 200 “patients” are in cryonic freezers. Some have not even preserved their whole body—only the head and brain. They, or their families, have faith future scientists will resurrect them, either healing their diseases or transferring their brains to new bodies. The patients include a two-year-old child, one of the founders of Bitcoin, and baseball Hall of Famer, Ted Williams. What a strange trio they would be…

Even if these hopes are realized in the future, Christianity has a greater hope, a greater view of the body, and a greater future. Our bodies are not meat robots for our souls. We are integrated beings. It is not just our soul that will be with the Lord. Our bodies, even after returning to dust, will be resurrected.

Paul tells the Corinthians that their bodies are “for the Lord.” He also says the Lord is “for our bodies.” Our bodies are essential to who we are and to our experience of and with God, both now and in eternity. Our bodies aren’t just physical matter. They matter cosmically, spiritually, for eternity.

It is foolish to dismiss the body. It is also foolish to enthrone our bodies above all. Like the Corinthians, some think whatever our body wants, it deserves. We don’t deserve or need everything we hunger for. Our body’s desires are not “rights.” Indiscriminately feeding fleshly hungers is always unhealthy and often evil.

Our bodies are not our own. In Christ, we are made one body with him. No Christian can say “What I do with my body only affects me,” because it affects Christ and everyone connected to him. No one can say, “My body is dishonorable, broken, and worthless,” because Christ valued our embodied self, dying for our souls and being resurrected for our bodies.

Our bodies are not beneath us like robot shells. Our bodies are not over us like rulers. Our bodies are not our own to abuse, harm, or dishonor. With our bodies, we present the embodiment of Christ to the world—to honor him through service and love to others.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. — Psalm 51.16

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 32 (Listen 5:22)
1 Corinthians 5 (Listen 3:03)

Read more about Inner Light of the Heart
Our bodies matter. Our spirit also matters. We are integrated beings—not solely spirit and not solely flesh.

Read more about Maintaining Sacred Space
Our bodies are our “tents” into which we invite the Holy Spirit of God, promised to us by Jesus.

Sins to Avoid

Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 5.9-10
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

From John: Like many others we have spent the weekend mourning the passing of Tim Keller. And he will not leave our thoughts anytime soon. I never had the pleasure of meeting or interacting with him, but The Park Forum began in New York and our ministry owes Keller and Redeemer Church a debt of gratitude for inspiration and support. I’ve personally been blessed to listen to and read much of Tim’s writing, speaking, and interviews. Many of the ways I have learned to speak and write about the Bible have been indirectly gleaned from the edges of his fields. I hope to share a margin of his abundant crops of grace, humility, and hope. At the resurrection, when all is set right, one of the wrongs corrected will be the loss we feel now. His faith is now sight…as ours, one day, shall be.

Reflection: Sins to Avoid
By John Tillman

Pause for a moment and summon up your feelings about the sexual sin of incest. 

Think about how destructive it is, about how often it is rooted in or leads to abuse, and about how, even in our sexually freewheeling culture, it is considered repulsive….

In this letter to Corinth, sexual sins take the forefront because Paul is addressing a case of incest, a specific kind of sexual sin. But Paul hardly ever mentions sexual sins without also mentioning sins involving power, idolatry, and wealth. The most skipped-over words in the fifth chapter of 1 Corinthians may be “or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters.”

Paul, in comparison to incest, considers greed and idolatry to be equally repulsive, equally abusive, equally destructive, equally sinful, and an equal cause for church discipline.

It’s uncomfortable to think about sins that we are prone to as spiritually equivalent to incest. Most Christians affirm the belief that “sin is sin,” meaning all sins are the same before God. However, we tend to see the sins of others as having great and terrible import, while minimizing, excusing, and normalizing our own sins. 

According to Paul we should be as uncomfortable with greed and idolatry as we are with incest and other sexual sins. But are we? Are you greedy and a Christian? Paul advises other Christians not to eat with you. When was the last time someone was disfellowshipped from a church for greed? When was the last time Christians boycotted something due to greed?

Paul does not encourage boycotts or avoiding non-Christians who are active in sin. Only believers who are unrepentantly continuing in sin are subject to this treatment. Christians with an isolationist subculture mentality, who minimize contact with non-believing “sinners,” are doing exactly what Paul says not to do.

We should also remember that removing fellowship, in Paul’s view, was an intentional effort to warn and correct others—to win them back through repentance. 

May we never expect non-Christians to live differently before we show them love.

May we be gracious to one another as we face the conviction of the Holy Spirit in areas of serious sins, such as sexual sin, greed, and idolatry.

May we stand for the Christian sexual ethic without abandoning other ethical stances that scripture holds as equally important.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy before the Lord when he comes, when he comes to judge the earth. — Psalm 96.12

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings

Numbers 31 (Listen 5:52)
1 Corinthians 5 (Listen 1:58)

Read more about Return From Financial Sins
“Greed is good,” is still the mantra of our culture. Financial sins have to be outlandish before anyone cares.

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Style Versus Substance

Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 2.1-7
1 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.

Reflection: Style Versus Substance
By John Tillman

Paul was an eloquent speaker and writer. His poem on love in 1 Corinthians 13 is studied in literature classes simply for its beauty.

Paul was a wise thinker and debater. His letter to the church in Rome is a masterwork of argumentation and theology and his personal letter to Philemon is lovingly and carefully persuasive.

Paul was knowledgeable, especially about the scriptures. As a “Hebrew of Hebrews” and a Pharisee (Philippians 3.5), Paul would have known the entire catalog of Jewish scriptures and would probably have memorized many passages or even entire books. He also was knowledgeable about the culture, and able to quote their philosophers and sayings back to them.

When Paul says that he did not come with eloquence, wisdom, or knowledge…what exactly is he saying? Don’t we need to know more than “Christ and him crucified”? Maybe how to balance a checkbook? Our voting rights under our federal and local governments?

This is one case in scripture where “plain reading” fails us if we don’t put what Paul is saying in context. Paul didn’t mean that when he was last in Corinth he spoke poorly, abandoned using rhetoric, eschewed wisdom, and forgot all his knowledge. He is using hyperbole to emphasize something.

The Corinthians, like many of us, were immature but thought they were wise. They were impulsive and addicted to pleasures, yet thought they were in control. They were swayed by knowledge, yet gained no wisdom. They were wowed by rhetoric, yet missed the point. They were charmed by eloquence, yet missed the beauty of the gospel. They were divided and deceived, yet considered themselves wise. 

The Corinthians had become divided between Paul and Apollos. Apollos was another eloquent, wise, and knowledgeable speaker, trained by Paul’s ministry partners, Priscilla and Aquilla. Apollos would not have taught contrary to Paul, but the Corinthians became divided between them.

Often when we first grasp the basics of something we too quickly think we are experts. Often when we like the way someone speaks we can become swayed by style rather than substantive truth.

Paul was telling the Corinthians, and telling us, that the gospel does not depend on eloquence, wisdom, and knowledge. Paul shuts down Corinthian pride, encouraging humility and a return to basics. He might say the same to us.

Let us not be swayed by style but cling to the substance of the gospel.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
O God, you know my foolishness, and my faults are not hidden from you. — Psalm 69.6

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 28 (Listen 3:51)
1 Corinthians 2 (Listen 2:26)

This Weekend’s Readings
Numbers 29 (Listen 5:05), 1 Corinthians 3 (Listen 3:05)
Numbers 30 (Listen 2:20), 1 Corinthians 4 (Listen 3:15)

Read more about Unhurried Wisdom
Job also utilized opposing statements to reveal the complexity of life and necessity of wisdom.

Read more about Here Comes the Sun
If the Lord allows us to enjoy a moment, accept the gift… Wisdom balances pain and joy.

Not in the Brochure

Scripture Focus: 1 Corinthians 1:21-22, 25
21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 

Reflection: Not in the Brochure
By Jon Polk

Expectations. We all have them. When fulfilled they can be a powerful source of excitement. When dashed, they can lead to tremendous disappointment.

Time for that family holiday to visit the amazing national park which you’ve heard so much about. You’ve studied the brochures, plotted your route and set out with great anticipation. You arrive to discover that the cabins aren’t as clean as they looked in the photos, the mosquitos are large and hungry, and you have to pay extra for firewood! This was not in the brochure!

Jews in Jesus’ day had read the prophets, their brochures describing the coming of the Messiah. Paul writes that “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom.” Jews expected a victorious Messiah, signs and wonders accompanying a conquering King with power, majesty and glory. The Greeks were sophisticated; they were concerned with the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge for its own sake.

Jesus dashed both their expectations. He did not come as a conqueror to please the Jews, nor as a philosopher to please the Gentiles. Instead, Jesus was a King who demonstrated his power through the sacrifice of his own life and his wisdom by preaching a message of selflessness and humility.

Imagine what even Jesus’ own followers might have felt seeing their beloved master, teacher and friend taken down from the cross and carried off for burial. “What just happened? Wait a minute, Jesus, this is not what we followed you for! This was not in the brochure!”

How would our life brochure read if we wrote it? It probably wouldn’t be much different than the expectations the Jews had for the Messiah. Jesus will solve all your problems. Jesus will make you happy. Jesus will defeat your enemies and those who have done you wrong. Jesus will bring roses and ponies and rainbows.

Now to be fair, Jesus does provide peace, comfort, joy, and satisfaction in life, but not always in the way we might expect. Come to Jesus and sacrifice yourself? Follow Jesus and give your life away? That’s not in our brochure.

The Christian life has a way of not turning out the way we expect. We make our plans, we have our ideas about what God should do for us, we have our own self-focused motivations, but the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom. We strive to provide for our own security and comfort in this life, but the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 

Thankfully, through that foolishness and weakness, we are saved from our own expectations to discover God’s higher wisdom and humble strength and we learn to live a new life, one that we may not have expected.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Bow down your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and in misery.
Keep watch over my life, for I am faithful; save your servant who puts his trust in you. — Psalm 86.1-2

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 27 (Listen 3:08)
1 Corinthians 1 (Listen 4:03)

Read more about A Path Into Darkness
Luke 22 is a turning point…A path into darkness and death…And not just of Jesus. Many of the disciples’ expectations and trusted truths would die.

Read more about Crucified, By Nature
To preach a crucified Christ is to proclaim a King whose very nature is wrapped up in sacrifice.

Faith of a New Generation

Scripture Focus: Numbers 26:2, 63-65
2 Take a census of the whole Israelite community by families—all those twenty years old or more who are able to serve in the army of Israel.”
63 These are the ones counted by Moses and Eleazar the priest when they counted the Israelites on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. 64 Not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest when they counted the Israelites in the Desert of Sinai. 65 For the Lord had told those Israelites they would surely die in the wilderness, and not one of them was left except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.

Reflection: Faith of a New Generation
By Erin Newton

We return now to the reason they titled the book, “Numbers.” The book opened with a census and now they count again. The author notes this generation was not part of the original group at Sinai. That generation died as a consequence of their rebellion.

A new generation grew up in the wilderness. Amazingly, the census total in Chapter 26 is only a few thousand less than the census total in Chapter 1—yet an entire generation was gone.

The pages between these chapters are filled with stories of rebellion, opposition, attempted mutiny, and disobedience. The earth opened and fire rained down. There were venomous snakes and a talking donkey. It was, to say the least, a tumultuous time.

The sins of the people resulted in a myriad of curses and disciplines. God did not turn a blind eye to corruption. There was a cost to their sin. Despite all the punishments, their numbers did not wither. The great nation promised to Abraham continued to flourish against the odds. Gordon Wenham highlights this truth, “God’s promises to the patriarchs may be delayed by human sin, but they are not ultimately frustrated by it.”

Delayed but not frustrated. These promises are not defeated by human sin because they are held and guarded by God himself. No human hand, no human sin, can thwart the promises of God.

The younger generation in the wilderness watched their elders rebel, complain, and sin until they were all gone. What could have been enjoyed by the elders passed on to the new generation.

There is hope and warning in this story. We cling to the hope of God’s steadfast promises. We observe and take to heart the warning that our sin can slow the progress of its fruition.

We do not know how the younger generation felt about entering the land without their elders. Perhaps they were encouraged to do things differently, to do things right. After watching the mistakes made by their parents or grandparents, they refined their faith and purified its practice.

Many young Christians today are openly critical of the faith of older generations. Young believers point to issues such as racism, hypocrisy, violence, political idolatry, misogyny, abuse, or apathy for the vulnerable.  

Identifying the spiritual and social flaws of the past is important. By such retrospection, new generations may follow God’s lead with faith refined. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Let us make a vow to the Lord our God and keep it; let all around him bring gifts to him who is worthy to be feared. — Psalm 76.11

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 26 (Listen 7:47)
2 Thessalonians 3 (Listen 2:16)

Read more about Work, Ministry, and Generosity
The Park Forum is a bi-vocational ministry. We are so thankful for our donors who continue to make this ministry possible.

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