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1 Corinthians 2

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, MARCH 2

Jeremy Witt

 

SCRIPTURE: 1 CORINTHIANS 2

The Church in Corinth was messed up.   They were at odds with each other.  They had their own ways of doing things.  They had become engaged in some arguments and ideas that were hurting the church.  The people had their favorite leaders (1 Cor. 1:12-17).  Before we start looking down on these folks, let’s remind ourselves how easily it is for us to do this.  We all have our favorites.  It may be your favorite Bible teacher, a worship leader, a Sunday school teacher, or it may be how much you love the LIFE pastor more than everyone else.  Okay, quit laughing!  But we do this ourselves, don’t we?

In verses 1-5, Paul points out that when he first went to Corinth that he didn’t use impressive words and wisdom to speak to them.  He simply told them of the Good News or Gospel.  Two things jump out to me when I read this.  First, we do not have to have all the answers to share the hope of Jesus.  We do not have to be the smartest or best speaker.  We must simply speak Jesus and point people to Him.  This is Paul’s focus in verse 4.  Second, it is really easy for us to lose sight of the main thing.  The people in Corinth were surrounded by distractions just as we are today.  When we lose sight of God and become entangled in the world and its ways of thinking, we lose sight of Jesus and can get caught up in silly arguments as it appears the Corinthian church.

In verses 6-16, Paul speaks of the wisdom of the world (or man) and the wisdom of God.  These two are at war.  I am sure that you have experienced this or seen this firsthand.  How many times have you heard people making fun of the Bible or Christ-followers?  Our faith and the wisdom of God do not make sense to the world.  Skip ahead to verse 14.  The “natural” man or “people who are not spiritual” in Greek literally means “one who is governed only by his environment, by his natural or animal instincts, by his sinful nature.”  We are not capable of understanding God apart from the Spirit!  This helps explains the struggle.  Even for a Christ follower, we struggle with God’s ways because we are in this world.  This is what the Corinthians were struggling with.

From a worldly point of view, Jesus doesn’t make sense.  Jesus was born of a virgin.  He performed miracles that didn’t make sense or can be explained by man.  He never sinned.  He rose from the dead!  Man has come up with so many explanations trying to prove that Jesus didn’t do these things.  Read verses 7-8.  The wisdom of God appears as a mystery or is hidden to the wisdom of man.  Wondering what that mystery is?  It is God’s plan of salvation.  God sent Jesus to be the sacrifice for man’s sins. 

This baffles our minds, because we cannot fathom that love and grace that God offers without the Holy Spirit.  Paul wanted to remind the church of this.  The people had heard of this mystery and believed in the power of Jesus.  Yet now, they find themselves struggling because their focus and thinking had been impacted by the wisdom of man and this world.  Paul was trying to readjust their focus and way of thinking back to the LORD God.

Verse 9 comes from two passages in Isaiah, a book in the Old Testament.  Isaiah 64:4 and Isaiah 65:17.  Simply put, we do not have a clue what God has in store for those who live life God’s way. 

Don’t lose focus!  We have to keep our eyes on Jesus.  It is really easy to focus on others or what they think is right.  The people in the Corinthian church had lost this focus.  Maybe you have also.  Paul is calling the church and us to remember what the LORD God has done and to live by the Spirit.  For we are called to live by the Spirit and to have to mind of Christ (verse 16). 

How are we to do this?  Live by the Spirit for we have the mind of Christ.  Need to do this better?  Get His Word into your heart and life and start living it out.

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

Acts 14

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2017

SCRIPTURE: Acts 14

By Jeremy Witt

Let’s see if I can keep the right names this time.  In verse one, we see the pattern Paul utilized throughout his ministry continuing here.  Paul would go to the Jews first by going to the local synagogue on the Sabbath. (Saturday)  In Iconium, we see both Jews and Greeks respond to the message of the Gospel in a large number.  The Gospel was being proclaimed to the Jews but also to the Gentiles (everyone else who is not a Jew.  This is us!)  If you would like some deeper study, you should read through Acts and compare Iconium to the other cities and their initial response to the Gospel. 

Verse two begins with that one word, ‘but’.  In this case it was not positive.  “But” transitions us from a large number responding to the Gospel to opposition to the Gospel and to Paul and Barnabas.  Paul typically faced opposition wherever he would speak.  Persecution for believers happened from the very beginning.  This is something we need to remember today and to not lose heart as we go and as we share.  Verse three tells us that Paul and Barnabas stayed for a significant amount of time, and that God gave them signs and wonders that helped to reinforce their message.  I can only imagine at the things that God did and I catch myself wishing that I could perform signs or miracles so people would see proof or evidence of the LORD.  However, verse four shows us that even with the signs, people opposed them.  Even when God does something big, it is important to remember that not everyone will believe and trust in Jesus Christ.  Despite the evidence, people reject God each day.  Let’s make it personal.  How many times have you seen God move in ways that can only be attributed to Him, and still you doubt or question Him?  Yeah, that hurts doesn’t it!  It is frustrating when we see others deny the evidence of God, but when God reminds me of the times that I have done the same thing, it just hurts. 

Back to the chapter, in verse eight, we find that the town is divided and our missionaries leave for another town.  Lystra is where we are introduced to a crippled man while Paul was preaching to a crowd.  Verse nine jumps out to me.  I do not understand exactly what Paul saw when he saw the man, but Paul knew that he had the faith to be healed.  Maybe the Spirit showed Paul or possibly it was something visibly seen, but regardless the man was healed, and it amazed the crowd.  So much so that they referred to Paul as Zeus and Barnabas as Hermes and began preparations for sacrifice.  When people are faced with something unfamiliar, we typically respond in familiar ways because we cannot fathom something so big that we haven’t faced before.  We do this today by trying to explain miracles.  In verse 14, it took Paul and Barnabas to tear their clothes and show that they were merely men to stop it, and the people still tried to offer sacrifices in verse 18.  The people did not understand what God had done, so when some Jews show up and spread lies, they win over the crowd and begin to stone Paul in verse 19 and left him for dead. 

Yet in verse 20 we discover the word, “but” again.  However this time, it is in the positive context.  “But when the believers gathered around Paul, he got up.”  Just another miracle God did!  This is a story of persistence.  I hear Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story at this point, when Buzz would say, “Never give up, never surrender!”  Verse 21 tells us that Paul and Barnabas went to Derbe but later they returned to Lystra and Iconium, the very place where they have been and faced opposition.  Why would they do this?  They went back to encourage the believers.  They went back and showed the believers how to face hardships (verse 22).  They were examples to the believers, but they were examples to the opposition as well.  Imagine their faces when they saw those two men who were rejected and tried to stone showing back up.

At the end of our chapter, we see the return to Antioch, the missionary sending church.  We see the journey has reached its conclusion.  We need to remember that we are called to go.  We are called to share.  We will face opposition.  We must persist.  We must rely on the LORD, and let Him do the work in and through us like God did through Paul and Barnabas.

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

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