Bible reading for weekend of Aug 29.
I Samuel 21-23.
"And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand." (1 Samuel 23:14)
DAVID IN EXILE. These chapters chronicle David's flight from the madness of King Saul. The Lord protects David at every turn. David takes in Abiathar, the only priest who survived Saul's butchery against the house of Ahimelech. David regularly seeks the Lord's will in regard to decisions, and he successfully engages the Philistines in battle. In time the towns of Judea become David's loyal supporters because he is actually fulfilling a kingly role in protecting their region while Saul is not doing his job.
REFLECT. Why does the Bible give us so many stories about leaders, both good and bad? Good leaders give us valuable lessons on leadership and also point us to Christ as the perfect King. Bad leaders are ordained for a season and as an example: "Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come" (1 Cor 10:6, 11). It is not so much that power itself corrupts people, but corrupt people with power bring a lot more corruption, evil, sadness, and death to a nation under their power. How is David different than Saul? What leadership traits are best, and which are worst, for the welfare of a nation?
1 Corinthians 3-4.
"Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16)
THE CARNAL CHRISTIAN (3a). After speaking of natural persons and spiritual persons (2:14-15) is Paul allowing a middle category of Christian that some call "the carnal Christian"? He says that he is writing to them as to "people of the flesh" (vv 1, 3). That is, these professing Christians are acting like non-Christians with all their jealousy and strife. They are thinking like the world and acting from the influence of indwelling sin. But he addresses them as "brothers" (1:10). Whether the "carnal" Christian is a category or not, the fact is that many professing Christians down through history (and today) do not give much evidence of the new birth by the Spirit. Many such people may not be real Christians at all (2 Tim 3:5). But he gives these Corinthians the benefit of the doubt and is taking them back to the first principles of the faith, or "milk", as he calls it (v 2; cf 1 Pet 2:2). The presenting problem is divisiveness, or being partisan -- in the spirit of rival political parties -- about teachers in the church (vv 4-5).
CHRIST AND THE CHURCH (3b). The church is not a mere human institution, it is God's creation and work, and it is God who gives it growth (vv 6-9). The foundation is Jesus Christ (v 11), and there is no other foundation to build upon. Here Paul teaches that the works of Christians -- and here he is specifically referring to ministry leaders, workers, and teachers -- will undergo judgment (vv 12-15; cf 1 Cor 4:5; 2 Cor 5:10; Eph 6:8). Those who are divisive and destroy the integrity of Christ's church will themselves be destroyed (Acts 20:29-30; 1 Jn 2:18-19). The Corinthians themselves needed to know that they -- and all Christians -- are themselves the dwelling place of God's Spirit (v 16).
STEWARDS OF THE MYSTERIES OF GOD (4). Paul addresses the arrogance of many in the Corinthian church. They feel they have "arrived", and yet, they are so mistaken. Paul contrasts their so-called enlightened mindset with his own model of Christian ministry. He appeals to them in love (vv 14-17), but is not afraid to confront them as an apostle of the Lord (vv 18-21). Christ's judgment of his people is again mentioned (v 5). Here are two articles that may help you better understand what's involved in the believer's judgment: here and here.
REFLECT. One of the dangers we face in Christian growth and ministry is that we can begin to see ourselves and our favorite leaders as more important than we actually are. As Prof Hendricks used to say to us young pastors, "Beware of believing your own press release." As a result we denigrate Christ's church at large and look down on other believers. We do need to protect sound doctrine, but we also need to recognize the breadth of God's work in his church around the world. Do we have a realistic view of ourselves? Do we honor Christ's work in his church in our community (other faithful local churches) and around the world?
Image credit. Photo of a church building in Iceland, by Cosmic Timetraveler on Unsplash.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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