Day Five: Power to Know Him Better

Ephesians 1.17-19 (NIV)  17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Testimony of Hudson Taylor:
“But personal need stood first and was the greatest. I felt the ingratitude, the danger, the sin of not living nearer to God. I prayed, agonised, fasted, strove, made resolutions, read the Word more diligently, sought more time for retirement and meditation—but all was without effect… How, too, could I preach with sincerity that to those who receive Jesus, “to them gave He power to become the sons of God” (i.e. God-like) when it was not so in my own experience? Instead of growing stronger, I seemed to be getting weaker and to have less power against sin; and no wonder, for faith and even hope were getting very low.  I hated my sin; and yet I gained no strength against it.  When my agony of soul was at its height…the Spirit of God revealed the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before “But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.” As I read I saw it all! “If we believe not, He abideth faithful.” I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh, how joy flowed!) that He had said, “I will never leave you.” “Ah, there is rest!” I thought. “I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I’ll strive no more. For has He not promised to abide with me—never to leave me, never to fail me?”…I saw not only that Jesus would never leave me, but that I was a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. The vine now I see, is not the root merely, but all—root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit: and Jesus is not only that: He is soil and sunshine, air and showers, and ten thousand times more than we have ever dreamed, wished for, or needed. Oh, the joy of seeing this truth! I do pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ.” [Hudson Taylor, The Exchanged Life]

Today, pray through Ephesians 1.17-19, asking the Lord to open the eyes of your heart to know Him better!  Sing and pray with the song “Your love it knows no end” (click here).

-GK

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Day Four: Power to Save Sinners

1 Timothy 1.15-17 (NLT)  15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

Testimony of CS Lewis:
“Really, a young Atheist cannot guard his faith too carefully. Dangers lie in wait for him on every side. . . .You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen [College, Oxford University], night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. . . . I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing: the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? . . . The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.” (Surprised by Joy, chapter 14)

Today let’s spend time in worship and thanksgiving, that God has saved us sinners in His kindness, mercy, and grace. Today, spend time in prayer as you worship with the song “Thank you Jesus (click here).

 

-GK

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Day Three: Power in His Word

Luke 24.31-32 (NIV)  31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Testimony of St. Augustine:
“I quickly returned to the bench where . . . I had put down the apostle’s book [Paul’s Epistle to the Romans] when I had left there. I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell: ‘not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh’ [Romans 13:13-14]. I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.” [Confessions 8.12]

“We glimpse our goal across the sea of the present age. . . . But to enable us to go there, the One who is our goal came to us. . . . No one may cross the sea of his age, unless he be carried by the Cross of Christ. . . . So do not forsake the Cross, and the Cross will carry you.” [Tractates on the Gospel of John, 2.2]

Today let’s pray that our eyes will be opened to God’s word afresh, with our hearts burning within us as the Lord speaks to us through His word. Spend time praying and reading through 1 Corinthians 2.

-GK

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Day Two: The Mind of Christ

1 Corinthians 2:12-16  12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

“Thus Paul’s preaching of the cross came with “words taught by the Spirit” (v. 13), which included “explaining Spiritual things by Spiritual means” (= the things taught by the Spirit with language appropriate to the Spirit). To have the Spirit in this way means not to be subject to merely human judgments; rather, it means to have the mind of Christ (vv. 15–16; cf. 7:25, 40). Pivotal to Paul’s argument is that this revelation should be the common experience of all who have received the Spirit. Paul’s problem with the Corinthians was that they considered themselves to be people of the Spirit, yet were abandoning the cross for human wisdom and rhetoric. Hence the vital role of the Spirit, who reveals to those who love God what was formerly hidden (1 Cor 2:9–10), namely, what God in Christ has freely given us (v. 12). [Fee, Gordon. Paul, the Spirit, and the people of God. Page 80]

Today let’s pray and ask for the Spirit given revelation in our lives—to have the mind of Christ in regards to all things.  As you pray listen to this song “Living with a fire” by Jesus Culture (click here).

-GK

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Day One: Preaching with Power

1 Corinthians 2.4 “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.”

“They became followers of Christ (v. 5) not on the basis of Paul’s proclamation of the gospel alone, but because that proclamation was accompanied by the power of the Spirit, including a deep conviction (probably both in Paul as he preached and in them as they heard). Whether the power of the Spirit in this instance also included accompanying signs and wonders is moot (I think it did; Rom 15:18–19 indicates that such was regularly the case). The Thessalonians’ reception of the gospel was accompanied by much affliction and by the joy of the Holy Spirit (v. 6), that unquenchable joy the Spirit brings to those who have come to know the living and true God (v. 9). So also with 1 Corinthians 2:1–5…It was accompanied by a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, proved by the conversion of the Corinthians themselves (cf. 2 Cor 3:3). And it was so, Paul adds, in order that their faith might rest in “the power of God,” not in merely human wisdom. [Fee, Gordon. Paul, the Spirit, and the people of God. Page 77]

The experience of deep conviction from the Spirit is a clear evidence of God’s power at work, where sins are confronted, repented, and forgiven, which results in having a deep desire to change.

Today, bring to mind the conviction you received during this past Sunday’s message, and spend time in prayer—in repentance, in receiving His forgiveness, and having an ever-increasing desire for transformation. Listen to the song “How can it be” (click here) as you pray.

 

-GK

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Day Five: Boast in the Lord

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NLT)- 23 This is what the Lord says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. 24 But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things.  I, the Lord, have spoken!

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (NIV)- 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Today, let us remember that it is because of God that we are in Christ Jesus.  It is because He is the Lord, who demonstrates unfailing love, righteousness, and justice.  He delights in these things.  And He brought them to this world, and to our lives, through Jesus Christ.

Let’s ask God that this will be our boast, our trust, our proclamation.  Pray for the ministries that we are part of, that our meetings and our ministry to one another will be filled with this correct “boasting” in the Lord.

Let’s thank and worship God to this song – The Cross Forever Speaks (Matt Maher) (click here).

 

-BR

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Day Four: God is Faithful

1 Corinthians 1:8-9 (NIV)- He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

“…Paul isn’t talking about problems at the moment.  God called them in the past, God equips them in the present, and God will complete the whole process in the future… so the Christian must always be leaning forwards towards God’s finishing line, ‘eagerly waiting for our Lord, King Jesus to be revealed.’… That’s why it’s the central Christian badge or sign to ‘call on him,’ to pray to the father through him, to learn to love him, to know his friendship and love throughout our lives, to have his name always in our hearts and often on our lips. The early Christian word for [two or more people like that getting together] was ‘fellowship’ or ‘partnership,’ and that’s what Paul says they now enjoy:  membership in the family that has God for its faithful father and Jesus, his unique son, as its older brother.  Writing this letter… is part of the process by which God intends to take these Christians… from God’s past achievement to God’s future finishing of the job.  May God grant that it will have that effect on us, too.” [Wright, N.T.  Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians.  p. 4-5]

Let’s pray for our churches, particularly focusing on this message series and study, according to 1 Corinthians 1:8-9 and the hope that N.T. Wright expresses here.

-BR

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Day Three: The Message of the Cross

1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24 (NIV)- For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

“… When Paul came into a pagan city that prided itself on its intellectual and cultural life, and stood up to speak about Jesus of Nazareth, who had been crucified by the Romans but raised from the dead by God, and who was now Lord of the world… he knew what people would think.  This was, and is, the craziest message anybody could imagine… It was news of an executed criminal from a despised race.  Nor would the Jewish people themselves enjoy it.  As Paul knew, it was ‘scandal” to them. The Christian good news is all about God dying on a rubbish-heap at the wrong end of the Empire… It’s all about the true God confronting the world of posturing, power and prestige, and overthrowing it in order to set up his own kingdom, a kingdom in which the weak and the foolish find themselves just as welcome as the strong and the wise…” [Wright, N.T.  Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians.  p. 12-13]

Take a moment to marvel anew at the message of the cross, thanking God that, for us who are being saved, it is the power and wisdom of God.  Let’s also worship to this song – Your Cross Changes Everything (Matt Redman) (click here).

 

-BR

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Day Two: I always thank my God…

1 Corinthians 1:4-7 (NIV) – 4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.

We might… learn from Paul’s opening paragraph something about the practice of giving thanks.  Even though the Corinthian church is riddled with problems, Paul offers a word of thanksgiving to God for the very community that he is setting out to correct.  Despite all present difficulties, he sees this church as the work of God in the world, and he discerns in their midst gifts for which God is to be thanked.  As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in Life Together: “If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed… then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.” [Hays, R.  Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching: First Corinthians. P. 20]

Let’s thank God for our church and for His church universal.  Give Him thanks for the grace given in Christ Jesus.  Let’s also ask that we will live by His Spirit as we wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.

Continue in thanksgiving with this song – Thank You Jesus (Hillsong) (click here).

-BR

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Day One: Called to be his holy people

1 Corinthians 1:1-2 (NIV) – 1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours…

Just as Paul is called by God, so too are the Christians at Corinth.  They are called to be hagioi, “saints”… When Paul applies this language to the Corinthians, he is echoing God’s call to Israel.  This is the first of many times in the letter that Paul implicitly addresses and describes the Corinthian Christians – a predominantly Gentile group – as members of the covenant people of God, Israel.  Whatever their background, they have now been caught up into the story of God’s gracious elective purpose.  They are to serve as a covenant people, representing God’s kingdom within a world that does not know God. “Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the people.  Indeed, the whole earth is mine but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy [hagion] nation (Exodus 19:5-6a LXX). [Hays, R.  Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching: First Corinthians. P. 16]

Let’s pray for our churches according to 1 Corinthians 1:2 and Exodus 19:5-6, and declare over our lives and our church that we are His people with this song – Belong (Aaron Shust) (click here).

-BR

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