Praying With the Understanding in Worship Services (Thurs. August 19

The word of the day is “understanding.”  Some equate the mystical with the esoteric.  They believe that the more incomprehensible the utterance, the more sacred the speech is.  This claim is like the boast of those who “spoke in tongues” in the congregation at Corinth.  These troublemakers who could utter strange sounds boasted that they had superior spiritual knowledge.  Their speech may have been ecstatic, but it had no message that could be communicated to others. In response to this bragging, in today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 14:6-9, the apostle minimizes the importance of this unintelligible speech.  Instead, he recommends praying with “understanding” (v. 5).  Those who had it might have been carried away into a higher mystical state, but…

Love Endures When All Else Fails (Wed. August 18)

The word of the day is “endures.”  People these days do not value things that last.  But when the trials of life come, they realize that they have taken the good things of life for granted, and what is valuable has slipped away from them.  Then, they begin to seek something that endures. In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 13:4-14, Paul answers that quest.  It is love.  The apostle writes that love “…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (vs. 7). The Love God Has For Us and the Love We Share The love that Paul refers to is not the love of romance, friendship, or family.  It is the everlasting love that God has…

How to be Peacemakers: A Lesson from the Divisions in Corinth (Tues. August 17)

The word of the day is “members.”  In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, St. Paul insists that the church is one body with many members.  Conversely, those many members have different functions to make one body.  The point seems obvious.  But we let’s probe more deeply into the meaning of this familiar passage.  When we do, we will find the key to the division in Corinth and how we might become peacemakers when attitudes of envy and contempt appear in our churches. What the Foot and the Eye Say Reveals Underlying Passions Paul says, “If the foot should say because I am not the hand, I am not part of the body” (vs. 15). Of course, this conjecture is…

How to Distinguish Between True and False Prophecy (Mon. August 16)

The word for the day is “speaking.”  Even today in our secular world, we hear voices that claim to deliver messages from the divine.  How do we know which, if any are true?  In our reading of 1 Cor. 11:31-12:6, Paul proposes a test of how we might discern the genuine proclamations of the Word of God from false prophecies.  He writes, “Therefore, I make known to you that no one by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (vs. 3).  We will find that this principle points to a significant difference between true and deceitful proclamations that claim to come from the divine. The Abundance…

How to Achieve Oneness by Sharing the Mind of Christ (Sun. August 15)

The word of the day is “mind.”  Many people today are tired of the squabbles of our polarized society and want unity.  But few will give up their favorite opinions to get it.  In today’s reading of 1 Cor. 1:10-18, Paul gets at the bottom of the disputes in the congregation at Corinth.  The apostle believes that believers cannot achieve genuine unity and still be of a divided opinion.  Therefore, the apostle appeals to the Corinthians to be “of the same mind and the same judgment” (vs. 10).  Today we will consider how the “same mind” and “same judgment” would bring the flock of Corinth together as one Body in Christ and how the same mindset and conviction would unite…

Living Uncomplicated Lives that Are Not Entangled in the World (Sat. August 14)

The word of the day is “owe. ”  In today’s reading of Romans 13:1-10, St. Paul speaks of the believer’s duty to the government.  He writes that we are to be subject to its secular authority, for God has appointed it.  By it, the Almighty orders the world for its good (Romans 13:1-4). However, elsewhere, St. Paul said that we are citizens of another Kingdom.  He wrote in Philippians that “… our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20a).  And in Ephesians, the Apostle wrote, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Eph. 2:19).  Today we will answer the question that if we are subjects of…

The Cross: The Point Where Those Who Are Divided Come Together (Fri. August 13)

The word of the day is “division.”  Our world seems hopelessly divided.  Many delight in division and profit from polarization.  Even the church is divided.  Ecclesial denominations maintain and promote the distinctions between Christians. In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 11:8-22, St. Paul gets to the rotten core of the problems in the congregation at Corinth.  The members of the church are divided in mind, behavior, and worship. Their separation from each other is most apparent at the time when they ought to be united. They are separated from each other when they ought to be sharing together in the one Heavenly Bread and one Cup of the Body and Blood of Christ.  In response to reports of the divisions Paul expresses…

Discernment: The Key to Applying Paul’s Ethical Principles to Specific Situations (Thurs. August 12)

The word for today is “edify.”  In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 10:28-11:7, Paul outlines even more ethical principles on the question of whether believers should eat the meat of pagan sacrifices.  Just before our reading, he writes, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Cor. 10:23).  And in today’s passage, the apostle writes, “Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or the church of God (OSB vs. 32). But how do we decide what is “edifying,” that is, what builds up the faith and love of others and what tears it down?  And how can we to determine…

Discernment: The Key to Applying Paul’s Ethical Principles to Specific Situations (Thurs. August 11)

The word for today is “edify.”  In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 10:28-11:7, Paul outlines even more ethical principles on the question of whether believers should eat the meat of pagan sacrifices.  Just before our reading, he writes, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Cor. 10:23).  And in today’s passage, the apostle writes, “Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or the church of God (OSB vs. 32). But how do we decide what is “edifying,” that is, what builds up the faith and love of others and what tears it down?  And how can we to determine…

Sharing in the Cup of the Lord or the Cup of Demons (Wed. August 11)

The word of the day is “partake.”  What does our partaking of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ mean for our participation in other ways of sharing in spiritual things?  In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 10:12-22, St. Paul returns to the topic of eating food offered to idols.  He states emphatically, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons.”  You cannot partake of the Lords’ table and the table of demons (vs. 21).  In today’s reading, Paul teaches that because of the temptation of idolatry, one should not eat meat that has been sacrificed on pagan altars.  We will find that this principle also applies to us and our participation in rituals, activities,…