July

2019:


Dr. Kevin Calhoun

July 1—July 5
Romans 13—Romans 16
1 Corinthians 1


Jonathan Norton

July 8—July 12
1 Corinthians 2—1 Corinthians 6

 

Rev. JT Overby

July 15—July 19
1 Corinthians 7—1 Corinthians 11

 

Gary Reynolds

July 22—July 26
1 Corinthians 12—1 Corinthians 16

 

Dr. Craig Bowers

July 29—July 31

2 Corinthians 1 - 2 Corinthians 3




  • July 1, 2019

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Romans 13

     

    In Romans 13 Paul begins with instructions for us to be responsible citizens (verses 1-7) and ends with instructions on how to live as faithful Christians (verses 11-14). Sandwiched in between these two teachings we read about the call to love others.

     

    8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

     

    This looks and sounds like an easy teaching to follow.  However, in my experience, there are times when we may not “feel” like loving some people.  The truth be told, there are probably times when others do not “feel” like loving us. Some people are “hard” to love, and there are times when we make it “hard” for others to love us. Nevertheless, the call to love others is a command for all of us.

     

    Who are some of these people we are called to love?

    •  Those who are alone and ignored by others,
    •  Those who have been cast aside by the people around them,
    •  Those who are different from us,



    And the list goes on and on and on.

     

    Application:

    List two or three people you know who need to be loved today:  

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    How can you reach out to him/her to share love with them?  

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    Prayer:

    Lord, Jesus, thank You for loving me even in my sin.  Lead me this day to love others as You have taught me to love!  Amen!

     



  • July 2, 2019

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Romans 14

     

    John Donne once wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of their friends or of thine own were.” The phrase no man is an island means that no one is truly self-sufficient, everyone must rely on the company and comfort of others in order to thrive. 

     

    Paul appears to be making a similar point in Romans 14: 7-8, when he writes,

     

    For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore   whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

     

    No one can live a life of complete isolation. Though we all may long for times of peace and quiet, we have been impacted by others. Many people have influenced us in a number of different ways.

     

    Also, as Christians, we are always connected with Christ. Paul wants us to understand that Christ is a living presence in our lives. We are witnesses for Christ in all we say and do. Therefore, everything we do should be done with others in mind. Our actions should not be a stumbling block to others, and their actions should not cause us to judge them. 

     

    Application:

    How has your life been impacted by the life and teaching of others?  
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    What can you do today to impact the life of someone in a Christ-like way?  
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    Prayer:

    Lord, I pray my life will be a blessing to everyone I meet today! Amen!

     



  • July 3, 2019

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Romans 15

     

    As Paul nears the end of his letter to the Romans, he concludes this chapter with a request for prayer (vss. 30-32).

     

    30 Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my  service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints; 32 so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company. 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen

     

    Notice how Paul asks them to “strive together with him” in this request.  Yes, there are times when I am praying privately about something. But more often than not, I want to know there are others who are praying with me and for me. There is  power in the united prayers of God’s people.

     

    Notice also that Paul’s request is that he might be “rescued” from those who are opposing him so that his ministry to Jerusalem might continue.  He also wants to be able to come for a visit with the Christians in Rome.  I find it enlightening that Paul does not request prayer for himself merely for the sake of safety.  His ultimate desire is to be a continual blessing to others. 

     

    Application:

    List several people you call upon to pray with you about any needs you may have:  
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    How can the answers to your prayers enable you to be a better servant for Christ?  
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    Prayer:

    Lord, thank You for partners in prayer who will pray with and for me daily. May I continually serve You in all I do! Amen!



  • July 4, 2019

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Romans 16

     

    As Paul closes his letter to the Romans, we find sincere and grateful words of appreciation for many who have cared for Paul in his ministry.  Well over 25 people are mentioned by name (many of whom are not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture).  Furthermore, Paul refers to them with various words of affection: “Greet Epaenetus, my beloved” (vs. 5), “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen,” (vs. 7), “Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ,” (vs. 10), and “Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord,” (vs. 13).  I am always challenged by this section in Paul’s letter.  Although it may look like a mere listing of names, I can sense Paul’s gratitude and love for every single person mentioned.

     

    As I look back over my life and ministry in the church, I am reminded of so many people who have made a difference in my life.  I think back over the years and call to mind so many people who have influenced me in my walk with Christ Jesus. Each and every one has touched my life in so many different ways. I feel certain you could say the same about people in your life.

     

    Application:

    Here’s a challenge for all of us:

    1. Make a list of people in your life who have touched you in a special way. 
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    ________________________________________________________________

    2. Send them a note thanking them for what they have meant to you.

    3. Determine to make a difference in the life of someone you know.

     

    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, I give thanks today for the many people who have touched my life through the years. I praise You for placing each one in my life.  I pray I will be a blessing to others as they have been to me.



  • July 5, 2019

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read 1 Corinthians 1

     

    In this first chapter of Paul’s letter, Paul addresses two issues.  Paul begins with a call for unity.  Then Paul speaks of the power of the cross.  There are three truths about the cross of Christ that speak to me.

     

    First, the cross of Christ reveals the awfulness of sin.  No other punish-ment was as cruel, as painful, or as evil as the crucifixion.  When I read the gospel narratives about Jesus suffering on the cross, I realize how ugly sin truly is. 

     

    Second, the cross reveals the depth of God’s grace.  I once heard a preacher say, the cross of Christ reveals humanity at our absolute worst, but it also reveals God at His absolute best.”  Although we were (and are) guilty of the worst sort of sin, God sent His Son to die for our sins.  No wonder John Newton penned those familiar words:

     

    Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound

    That saved a wretch like me

    I once was lost, but now am found

    T'was blind but now I see

     

    Third, the cross reveals the holiness of God. Only a death so horrible and humiliating could overcome the power of sin. That is why Paul says the cross is foolishness to the world but the wisdom of God. Therefore, Paul writes, “Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified,” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).

     

    Application:

    Have you acknowledged your sin and turned to God for forgiveness through Jesus?  ________________________________________________________________

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    What steps are you taking to walk in a manner worthy of your calling?  ________________________________________________________________


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    Prayer:
    Lord Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross for my sin!  Thank You for the power of Your resurrection.  Lead me in paths of righteous today and every day!  Amen!


  • July 8, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read 1 Corinthians 2


    As we read Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, it is important to remember that he came to Corinth after being beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, run out of town in Thessalonica and Berea, and made fun of in Athens (Acts 13, 14, 16, 17 & 32). So when Paul says in verse 3, “I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling”, he is speaking from a physically and emotionally weakness most of us have not experienced in our Christian walk. Because of his state of mind, in verse 4 & 5 Paul is stating he is not using fancy speech or trying to manipulate people’s response. He did not come to draw a crowd, he came to deliver serious and urgent truth.

     

    In verses 10-16, we read about the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a dimension of the Christian life that too many times does not get the attention it should. This text is  reminding us that the Holy Spirit, through scriptures, Reveals Wisdom (vs. 10-11), Inspires Wisdom (vs. 12-13), and Illuminates Wisdom (vs. 14-16). The spirit is able to bring His thoughts to our hearts and minds in a way no other person can. The Holy Spirit is given to all believers who seek to know and understand the divinely written truth in God’s Holy Word. We must plug into the Spirit’s divine power daily to grow as Christians!             

            

     

    Application:

    How often do you pray to ask the Holy Spirit to Reveal, Inspire or Illuminate Wisdom before studying the scriptures? 

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    Prayer:

    Heavenly Father, I pray that you reveal truth to me this week as I study your word. I pray that through the power of your Holy Spirit I can inspire someone through sharing the scriptures with them. Amen.   

     



  • July 9, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read 1 Corinthians 3

     

    Unfortunately, in some of today’s churches we see the same problems that Paul exposed in the Corinthian church. We see worldly influence, weakness in the flesh, spiritual immaturity and divisions in the church. One example is in verses 5-7 in chapter 3. Like we see in some churches today, the people were elevating a teacher to the center of their faith. The Corinthians were impressed by appearances and outside influences. Because of this, they had fallen into admiring the teachers so strongly that it bordered on idolatry. Instead, they should have recognized that those servants were being used by God to accomplish His will, not to gain popularity. As Paul  explains in verses 10-11, he did not design the foundation of the church; he only laid down the foundation by preaching Jesus Christ as the master builder.  

     

    Paul has another important but sobering reminder for us as the church in verses 16 & 17. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are the temple.” Here is a severe warning to anyone who will try to interfere with or destroy the church. The reason most churches fall is internal, not external, because they violate their commitment to Jesus Christ as the foundation. We, the church, must be built on Christ! Then, we, as a community of believers, can glorify Him through our love and service. We must allow God to grow His church through us.

     

     

    Application:

    When participating in church what do you focus on: the facilities, the preacher, the worship style or Christ? 

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    Prayer:

    Lord, I pray we understand and take seriously that we are Your Church and You are the foundation. Keep us from becoming proud and from dividing into personality groups. Empower us to maintain unity in You, and may You be glorified and exalted in all we say and do. Amen. 



  • July 10, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton

     

    Read 1 Corinthians 4


    Yesterday in chapter 3, Paul addressed the local church. Today in chapter 4, Paul  addresses the ministers. He wants us really to under-stand how God measures and evaluates Christian service. We see some key character traits that are “must haves” for those who work in the ministry, but I believe they can apply to those who serve in the church as lay leaders as well. The traits Paul describes in this text are: being faithful (vs. 1-6), humble (vs. 7-13) and leading by example (vs. 14-21).

     

    Being found faithful (or trustworthy as some translations read) is the most essential quality of a minister or servant. This is obedient loyalty to the Master above all others. It is not an easy thing to be a minister of Jesus Christ. As a servant you must be faithful to the Master no matter what others say or do to you. Remaining faithful will lead us to being humble. As Paul says, we must never become puffed up or boast. We see the church in Corinth in their pride forgot that honor in the Christian life comes from   service, not knowledge or power. Then, lastly, Paul boldly says in verse 16 to “be imitators of me”. Spiritual leaders must set the example for other Christians to follow (1 Timothy 4:12). All 3 traits are simple, but necessary to ministry and service.  

     

    After reading this passage, I was challenged to live every day of my life in the light of Christ’s return; by doing so, it will totally transform any habits of judging ministers, friends and myself.

     

    Application:

    According to Paul what are some of the wrong approaches to (judging) the work of church leaders? What might be the right approach? 

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    Prayer:

    Father God, I pray I remain faithful, humble and serve as example to others. May I live my life in the light of your return and evaluate all ministries according to your Word. Amen.



  • July 11, 2019


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read 1 Corinthians 5


    The church in Corinth was not only a divided church, but it was disgraced church. The Corinthian church had rationalized and minimized sin which had contaminated the assembly. We must understand as a body of believers that we belong to the people of God and that our sins, if toler-ated, will weaken the testimony and corrupt the fellowship. 

     

    It is important for us to be clear that this passage is addressing habitual and unrepentant sin in a believer’s life. Apparently the Corinthian church had  misinterpreted a previous letter from Paul and stopped reaching out to the lost, while continuing to ignore the sin of those in the church. Those on the outside of the church are for God to judge and us to evangelize. Those who sin inside the church are to be held accountable by the body.

     

    Now how we respond and handle sin within the church is critical. This should always be done in the spirit of Galatians 6:1, where the goal is restoration and healing. Striving for church unity is the theme of 1 Corinthians and is one of our church Core Values. As a church we are called to address sin; however, when a brother or sister truly repents, we should restore the individual to full fellowship with the body, as well disciple them. Also, as the church we are called to go into this sinful world and reach others with the Gospel. We must never compromise our spiritual integrity or morality, but we must learn how to relate to and reach unbelievers.         

     

    Application:

    What harm is there in not dealing with known sin? 

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    Why should we NOT disassociate ourselves from sinners outside the church? 

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    Prayer:

    Lord, may you put people in my life that will hold me accountable to my sin. May we have a church unified through your Holy Spirit with a passion to reach the lost. Amen.



  • July 12, 2019

     

    by Jonathan Norton


    Read 1 Corinthians 6


    There are two key parts of this chapter that really speak to my heart. First, in verse 12, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by any-thing”. This challenges us as Christians that we are held to a much higher standard than just the law of the world. Paul reminds us that the pleasures of this world are corruptible and will pass with time. Our lives should be guided by the authority of God’s Holy Word, which is in-corruptible. Not everything we are allowed to do in this world is profit-able or beneficial to us spiritually or physically. We must remember that the price for abusing freedom and grace is very high.  

     

    The second key part of this text that speaks to me is found in the last two verses, 19 & 20. “19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

     

    As Christians, our supreme purpose is to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Anything we do with our body, or anything that we permit to enter our body outside of the boundaries God has established, becomes a form of idolatry that dishonors Him. These verses are a humbling reminder that our body belongs to the Lord. We are not our own, we were bought with a price!

     

    Those powerful words should really put into perspective: how precious our physical bodies are to our Lord. 

     

     

    Application: 
    Is your life guided by the Law or by the Word?

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    Are you glorifying God with your body?

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    Prayer:

    God, may I always look to your Word as my authority and may I honor you with my body. Amen.



  • July 15, 2019


    by JT Overby


    Read 1 Corinthians 7


    It is important to remember when reading 1 Corinthians 7, that in verse 7 Paul says both singleness and marriage are a gift from God. There are  definitely difficult  teachings in this chapter that must be read, studied,     discussed with others, and prayed over. And it is just as important to         understand what the heart of the passage is all about to avoid getting stuck in the weeds. 


    What is the point? We are not our own. We belong to Jesus, our Savior who purchased us with his own blood (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). If we are single, Paul says it is a gift from the Lord because we can be concerned with the things of the Lord, and not have to be concerned with marital issues. If we are married then it is a gift from the Lord, and while we must be concerned with marital issues, we have a covenant partner that we can seek the Lord together with. It was counter-cultural then, and it certainly is today—both marriage and singleness are a gift. 


    The point is that Jesus was so all-encompassing to Paul that all of his life  revolved around his relationship with Jesus. Everything. Whether eating or drinking (1 Corinthians 10:31), in word or deed (Colossians 3:17), all is to be done to God’s glory.

     

    Application:
    Does your life (even your singleness or marriage) revolve around your       relationship with Jesus? Can it be said that you seek to do all things for His glory, or do you struggle with seeking your own glory?  
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    Prayer:
    God, I am so self-centered. Give me grace to live all of my life towards your glory, and trust that whatever I have in life is a gift from you.



  • July 16, 2019


    by JT Overby                                                          


    Read 1 Corinthians 8


    As is the case in Romans 14, Paul’s chief concern in this chapter is with the people around him, and not being self-centered. Those with knowledge (you could say the “stronger brother” from Romans 14) have a responsibility to those without knowledge. Those with knowledge know there is only one true God. Meat that has been offered to idols is really no different than any other meat.  It does not commend us to God or take us away from God. But others may not have that knowledge or maturity of faith, and so the responsibility lies with the one who knows more. 


    This can actually be a very difficult stance to take. We often look at the weaker or immature brother and want them to hurry up and catch up to our levels of knowledge, maturity, and faith. We don’t want our freedom hindered by the weaker person. However, Paul calls us to put love for our brother and  sister above our freedom. We must do what is right and best for them and their walk. 


    The perfect example of this is Jesus. When we were weak and lowly, ignorant and foolish, he loved us, showed us grace, patience, and kindness. Ultimately, we were not just weak, but dead, and Jesus still loved us all the way to the cross.

     

    Application:
    Do we love our brothers and sisters like Jesus loved us in our weakness, or are we stubborn, unwilling to restrict the freedom we have for the sake of not causing our family in the faith to stumble?  
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    Prayer:
    Thank you for your gracious kindness towards me in my infinite weakness. Give me grace to show grace and love to those who are weak but growing in their faith.



  • July 17, 2019


    by JT Overby                                           


    Read 1 Corinthians 9


    “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” 

    Paul counted every fleshly gain he had in life as rubbish and garbage for the sake of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:7-8). Nothing compared to Jesus. The love, glory, holiness, and worthiness of Jesus was all-surpassing and all-consuming to Paul. It compelled his every action (2 Corinthians 5:14). His flooded his heart (Romans 5:5) and captured his mind (Ephesians 3:19). Jesus is all and above all to Paul.


    Did Paul have a right to eat whatever he wanted? Yes. Did he have a right to take a wife? Yes. Did he have a right to ask for monetary support for his ministry? Yes. Was he free from the law? Yes.


    Paul continuously shows humility and gospel-centered love towards those apart from Christ, in hopes of them coming to faith in Jesus. He set aside many freedoms and rights for the sake of spreading the gospel. He was following the example of Jesus. Jesus gave up the joys and pleasures of heaven to come to earth, put on flesh, and die for us and our sins.


    Are we as quick to set aside our rights and freedoms for the sake of the gospel and others coming to know the love of God in Jesus Christ?


    Application:
    In what ways can you be more involved with the lost around you? Who do you work with, go to school with, interact with that does not know Jesus? How can you build a deeper relationship with them in hopes of sharing Christ?

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    Prayer:
    God, give me eyes to see who I can minister to. Give me opportunity. Give me boldness where I am weak. Give me grace to trust in yo



  • July 18, 2019         


    by JT Overby                          


    Read 1 Corinthians 10


    What does fleeing temptation, the Lord’s Supper, and idolatry have to do with each other? 


    Are we to continue in sin so that grace may abound? By no means (Romans 6:1)!  We must be careful how we walk. We must flee temptation and all kinds of immorality. The Israelites were rescued up out of slavery to Egypt, but still struggled with enslavement to sin, and did not flee. 


    Are we to do all things to the glory of God? Are we able to do whatever we want in life? Technically, yes. But that does not make it pleasing to the Lord and beneficial for my good and the spreading of the gospel. With so much temptation and so much weakness in myself, how do I stand any chance in this life?


    Jesus sustains us with exactly what we need (Ephesians 1:3). We must constantly be setting our minds on the work of Jesus on the cross and in his resurrection. Part of the way we do this is by partaking of the Lord’s Supper together. We come and remember Jesus, remember his love, his desire for us, his sacrifice for us, and his accomplished work for us. Why would we want to give ourselves over to sins or over to idolatry when we see just how great Jesus is!

     

    Application:
    Are your mind, your heart, and your affections often set on Jesus, His love and His sacrifice for you? If not, what are you giving your mind, heart, and affections to? What is becoming an idol in your life? 
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    Prayer:
    Forgive me for my idolatry. You alone are God. You alone are worthy of all of me and all of my worship. Give me grace to all things for your glory!

     



  • July 19, 2019                                                                                                                     

    by JT Overby


    Read 1 Corinthians 11


    It is hard to read chapters like this one, when so much of it is set in a particular cultural context. We understand the cultural context of length of hair and head coverings, but what about those ancient views on men and women? Well, they seem to not be cultural, but rooted completely in our relationship to Christ. Should we keep these ancient ways even though they may rub us the wrong way?


    Ever since the fall, the relationship between male and female has been broken. But God is bringing restoration and healing to his people and all creation. While many may have a problem with Paul saying that a man is head over his wife, we must remember one important thing: the man is a reflection of Christ, and so is the woman. Christ submitted himself to the Father’s will, dying on the cross to take away our sin. We celebrate His victory in the Lord’s Supper. 


    Men must love and care for their wives, just as Christ does His bride. Wives must submit to their husbands, just as Christ did to the Father. May we love and live as Christ did!

     

    Application:
    How does seeing Christ’s relationship to His bride and His relationship to His Father help you with this difficult passage? Do you love your wife like Christ loves the Church? Do you love your husband as Christ loved His Father? 
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    Prayer:
    God, give me grace to better understand the difficult passages in Scripture. Give me grace to see Jesus in them. Give me grace to be more like Him.



  • July 22, 2019


    by Gary Reynolds


    Read 1 Corinthians 12


    Have you ever played with a Mr. Potato Head? Were you a “creative type” who used two mouths and three ears to make it look crazy? Or were you the practical type that decorated the potato exactly how a human face and body would look? How crazy and strange does Mr. Potato Head look with all ears, or all eyes, and no mouth? Well, can you imagine what a real person would be like if they were put together like that? I would think that person would not be able to function like a human was de-signed to. 


    In the body of Christ, the Holy Spirit has given different gifts to rep-resent different parts of Himself. Some are given the gifts of hospitality, healing, apostles, prophets, teachers, and others. Within the body of Christ, every gift is equally important. When these gifts come together, they reflect God’s flawless design, and all are essential to make up the perfect body of Christ.


    In the same way that all parts of your body is essential to make you function as a human being, the body of Christ (the Church), is designed to function in perfect harmony.


    Don’t be a Mr. Potato Head. Be the part of the body that Christ has made you to be.


    Application: 

    As you think about your spiritual gift and take a look at others around you, remember that together we are Christ’s body!


    Prayer:

    Jesus, thank you for giving each of us an important part to play in your body. Continue to use my gift to spread your love to those in my world.


  • July 23, 2019



    by Gary Reynolds


    Read 1 Corinthians 13

     

    I love this chapter. It was one of the passages that was read at our wedding. I have heard it read at many other weddings, too. It is a great way to focus when starting your lives together. It represents all that is good and true about the love between a man and a woman. But it is much more than that! It is an ideal that we can spend our entire lifetimes trying to reach.


    Jesus says in John 13:34, “A new command I give you, love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”


    As believers, we are called to more than simply a romantic love. We are called to love one another, as Christ has loved us.


    Christ’s love is an outward love, focused on others. It is unselfish, and it is a love that goes against our natural inclinations. It is a love that is hard. In fact, this love is impossible without allowing God to set aside our own selfish    desires so that we can show love without expecting any-thing in return. The more we become like Christ, the more love we can show to others.


    What does this love look like: (practically)



    It looks like:

    Allowing another driver to cut in even though you have waited in a long line.

    Taking a meal to a new mom or grieving family.

    Allowing your friend to go first or have the best seat.

    Volunteering your time to a local ministry without taking selfies or promoting your service.

     

    How are you showing this love? ___________________________________




  • July 24, 2019


    by Gary Reynolds


    Read 1 Corinthians 14


    Do you ever come to church thinking, “What am I going to get out of this today?” We look for the closest parking spot and rush in to make sure we have our seat. Then, that music man sings a song that we may or may not initially like. Instead of praying and hoping it connects with someone, we grumble about it in our heads…or to our neighbors.Then we listen to the message and look at how it applies to our world. When the message is over, we pack up, and book it to the car so we can beat the Methodists to the restaurant.

     

    Paul addressed this mentality. It is easy to be concerned about building up our own faith, but when it comes to meeting together with other believers and using our spiritual gifts, our mentality needs to shift to one of service. How can I encourage someone today? Who is struggling that needs to be comforted? What can I do to strengthen someone else today?

     

    When we come together and exercise our spiritual gifts, specifically to uplift others, that is when transformation and growth truly begins.

     

    Application: 
    What would it look like to attend church looking to serve others over satisfying your own interests or preferences? 
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    Prayer:
    Lord, help me to use the gift you have given me to strengthen and encourage others.



  • July 25, 2019

     

    by Gary Reynolds

     

    Read 1 Corinthians 15

     

    What is it that is of first importance?

     

    Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY, writes, “The Christian faith is not a mere collection of doctrines - a bag of truths. Christianity is a comprehensive truth claim that encompasses every aspect of revealed doctrine but is centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

     

    In this chapter, Paul proclaims this Gospel, and what is most important about this Gospel.

     

    In verse 3, Paul declares the element of first importance: Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. Isn't it amazing that he does not mention a word about the whole life of Jesus? That is rather startling, but that is where the gospel begins. He does not even say, “Christ died.” Ask people today what the gospel is, and this is often what they will say, “Well, Jesus lived and died.” No, that is not the gospel. Everyone believes that Jesus died. Go to any of the modern presentations of the life of Jesus, and you will find they all end at the death of Jesus. But there is no good news in that. 

    The good news is Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. The scriptures tell us that His death accomplished something for us. It changed us, it delivered us, it set us free. That death had great significance in the mind, heart, and eyes of God, and that is the Good News!



  • July 26, 2019


    by Gary Reynolds


    Read 1 Corinthians 16

     

    Paul's closing words to the Corinthians are designed to encourage  Christians to watch, to be on the alert, to stand firm in the faith…to act like men and to be strong.

     

    Paul is urging the believers at Corinth to be of one mind. To make sure that all that they say, and all they do, is done in love.

     

    Every Christian should know the importance of watching and being alert, for we have many enemies that seek to bring us down. We are surround-ed with many false apostles, false prophets, false teachers, deceitful workers, and doctrines of demons. All of these things started to infiltrate the church in the time of Paul, and seem and have exploded into the church of today.

     

    The enemy seeks to permeate every nook and cranny of Christian life. For we know that the devil himself prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. That same evil  enemy, who is called the devil and Satan, will also try to approach us as an angel of light - through the medium of deceptive people, false apostles, and deceitful workers, who pretend that they are true apostles of Christ - but their witness and faith is compromised.

     

    How important, therefore, that we are alert and watchful against the enemy of our soul - not only for ourselves, but on behalf of all our brothers and sisters in Christ - so that together we keep looking to Jesus - our blessed Hope.



  • July 29, 2019


    by Craig Bowers


    Read 2 Corinthians 1


    Paul gently rebukes the church at Corinth in this letter. From the outset, he sets the tone - redemption. Our goal for all who go wayward is to be as redemptive as  possible. We want to see people restored. Paul demonstrates the beauty of a rebuke that is motivated by love. His goal is for this church is to be used of God.

     

    Chapter 1 sets the tone as he addresses the nature of effective ministry which is based on our own experiences. Paul cited his ministry of bringing them comfort because he had experienced God’s comfort. He then addresses their mischaracterization of his actions. Let’s briefly consider both.

     

    “Don’t waste your pain!” That statement means we can use the trials of life to  EFFECTIVELY minister to others who are going through similar trials. Paul comforted others because he experienced God’s comfort during his affliction. Your life story  includes pain. Will you turn your pain into a pathway for God to use you?

     

    Probably the deepest hurts in life are not the physical afflictions we endure. When others mischaracterize your intentions with harsh judgments, we are cut to the core. The chapter concludes with Paul clarifying his sincere plans to visit the Corinthians. However, his plans changed. Some in the church used Paul’s change of plans to mischar-acterize him as being two-faced, a flip-flopper, double tongued, etc. Paul defends his character. This teaches us to avoid quick judgments. We really don’t know why people may change their plans. We certainly do not know the motives of others. Avoid such insidious accusations.

     

    Application: 
    Identify the greatest trial or affliction you’ve experienced. Ask our King to show you how to comfort others who are going through the same trial.  
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    Prayer:
    Lord, may I comfort others with the comfort you have given me. May I also be careful to avoid causing deep pain the hearts of others by mischaracterizations



  • July 30, 2019


    by Craig Bowers


    Read 2 Corinthians 2


    “What is that I smell?” Oh, that’s the aroma of Jesus Christ you smell in the acts of sacrificial love as demonstrated by a Christ follower! YOU are an aroma. Christ followers permeate the environment with the aroma of grace, peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, and self-control.

     

    Christ followers invade the senses of others - believers and those who have yet to bend their knee to King Jesus. The sense of smell often evokes the strongest memories in our minds. The analogy Paul uses is quite appropriate. You probably wouldn’t leave for work or play without applying deodorant. Thank you! But will you be more careful to put on the aroma of Christ when you leave for work or play?

     

    The “scent” of Jesus is full of grace and truth. That aroma reminds other Christ followers of the character of Christ. The same aroma is off-putting to non-believers. When they “smell” grace and truth in a Christ follower, it is interpreted as weakness and narrowness. The truth is a scent of death to those who have yet to trust in Christ.

     

    I have noticed that the scent of a flower is extremely powerful when it is crushed. The scent was there the entire time. The crushing only released the beautiful fragrance. So it is with us. The crushing trials of life often release the beautiful fragrance of God’s grace in us.

     

    Application:
    Today, ask the God of grace to exhibit His grace and love through you! Be the scent of Jesus in the lives of others.

     

    Prayer:
    Lord God, as I am crushed in trials, if the scent released isn’t like Jesus, help me to understand that the trial only exposed what was in me. I pray your love and grace will flow from me - especially when I am crushed.


  • July 31, 2019


    by Craig Bowers


    Read 2 Corinthians 3

     

    The entire chapter is about glory. Life is all about the glory of God. Verse 18 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible, “We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being trans-formed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

     

    Our minds are no longer veiled. A “works righteousness” religion blinds the mind to the truth of God’s glory - His PERFECTION. It is impossible by the works of the Law to be justified in His presence. Christ followers know this truth and therefore the “veil” has been lifted. The sham has been exposed. No one is good enough to enter heaven. No one is religious enough!

     

    As we look at the character of the Lord God, something in us changes. We are “being transformed.” God is transforming us. We cannot change anything about us. Only God can change our hearts, desires, minds.... This transformation happens as our focus is on HIM. Too often our focus is on OUR shortcomings, OUR hang ups, OUR accomplishments, etc. That does not lead to transformation but a futile cycle of  carnality. A healthy cycle of transformation happens when our focus is on the glory of God.

     

    What exactly is the “glory of God?” It is His character and all that flows from Him. The more I focus on Him, the more He works in me. The Spirit of the Lord works when we honor Jesus. We honor Jesus when He is our all in all. When He is the focus of our thoughts.

     

    Application:
    God transforms those who know and pursue His glory. How can you focus on Him today?  
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    Prayer:
    Lord Jesus, you are the One true and living God. When I fail, I am amazed at your kindness of grace and goodness towards me. You are so patient. You are so good. Thank you for loving me.