The Lord’s Supper: Lessons from Corinth (Pt 4)

Daily Devotion | Day 333

“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28, NKJV).

In parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series we discussed the problem at the Lord’s Supper in Corinth as well as its consequences. Today we will look at the solution Paul proposed to end the crisis. Paul’s solution is summed up in our opening Scripture: “let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” This solution is to be applied in two ways. First, Paul is calling for a change of thinking regarding how one approaches the Lord’s Supper. Second, he is calling for a change of external behavior with respect to the Lord’s Supper. In what follows, we will discuss the specifics of what Paul is saying.

Thinking affects behavior and behavior affirms thinking. What you think of the Lord’s Supper will shape your attitude toward it. Obviously, the behavior of the Corinthians shows they were not thinking right about the Lord’s Supper. They thought of it as an ordinary meeting, and they behaved accordingly. But those who intend to participate in the Lord’s Supper must examine themselves about the nature and the purpose of this celebration. To help the Corinthians think right, Paul reminded them that the Lord’s Supper is not an ordinary supper. It is a proclamation of the Lord’s death. As he put it, “as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (v. 26). 

This is what Christians must have in mind when they participate in the Lord’s Supper. When they attend this meeting, they need to keep their thoughts and motives aligned with Christ’s. The last thing they want is to treat the Lord’s death (or the church) with contempt and suffer the consequences. When they examine (judge) themselves, they would behave well at the Lord’s Supper and escape judgment (v. 31). Otherwise, the Lord Himself will intervene and judge and punish (discipline) those who trivialize His Supper. They should be thankful for this form of judgment, because it is the Lord’s way of sparing them something far worse: condemnation along with the world. (v. 32; v. 30; see Revelation 3:19).

The other part of the self-examination involves behavioral change. Paul’s appeal is, “my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment” (v. 33-34). Since the Lord’s Supper was (and still is) a fellowship meal, our attitude at the meal matters. Love is patient, we are told (1 Corinthians 13:4). From what Paul said here, we know that some in the community had neither the patience nor the inclination to wait for their brethren. They therefore went ahead and ate their own supper. This attitude defeated the purpose of the Lord’s Supper.

Patience, after all, is an essential component of love. Being patient is being loving; being impatient is being unloving. And in the absence of love, the Lord’s Supper loses its meaning. When this happens, eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper draws judgment instead of blessing. To avoid this, Paul gave the following practical advice: Wait for the brethren. But if you cannot wait because you are hungry, eat at home before you join the Lord’s Supper. It is better to eat at home than arrive at the Lord’s Supper hungry, angry and impatient.  

God willing, we will conclude the Lord’s Supper series tomorrow. Stay patient. Stay loving. Amen.

For further studyExodus 12:1-28 and Revelation 2:18-23

Anger Management: Why Bother?

Daily Devotion|Day 264

“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29, ESV).

Anger is a passion common to all people. It is not the only passion. There are others like desire and hate. Whether anger is harmful or not depends on the following: what you’re angry about, who or what you direct your anger at, how long you’re angry for, how easily you get angry and how often you get angry. God gets angry. It’s recorded multiple times in the Scripture (for example Deuteronomy 9:20, Romans 1:18 and Revelation 16:1). But God’s anger is qualified. The Bible describes Him as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8). This means God is patient (long-suffering).

 Not surprisingly, the Bible exhorts God’s children to be also slow to anger. And it reserves praise for those who obey this precept. Today’s opening Scripture is an example. It says, “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding.” That makes sense. When you are slow to anger, you are essentially being like God. And the more God-like you are, the greater your understanding. God supplies more understanding to those who fear Him and follow in His ways. Being slow to anger does not mean you never get angry. It just means anger is not your thing. It means anger is not your trademark; patience is. People who know you are more likely to describe you as a patient person.

Being slow to anger allows you to harness and direct your passions toward more beneficial things like love, service, justice, compassion, care and pursuit of knowledge. This, in turn, makes you more receptive to the wisdom of God. In fact, when you find a patient person, often that person is wise also. Wisdom and patience are inseparable.

On the opposite end, the Bible says the person “who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” In other words, this person is quick to get angry. In the process, he promotes foolishness. That makes sense too. When you have a hasty temper, your passions govern you, not your intelligence or fear of God. The natural result is that in your anger, you will say or do things that are unwise and unhelpful. The more you do this, you’re magnifying foolishness in your own life and in the world. If you don’t change, this can lead to aggressive or violent behavior. By the time you say, “I’m sorry,” you may have already caused irreparable emotional or physical harm.

Being slow to anger is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength, maturity and wisdom. It takes more strength to be patient than to be angry. Anger doesn’t require strength. Today, take the first step toward becoming more like your Father in heaven. Be slow to anger and make a difference. Amen.

For further studyProverbs 16:32, Ecclesiastes 7:9 and Ephesians 4:24-32

When God Is ‘Silent’

Daily Devotion|Day 242

“You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13, NKJV).

 Have you ever had a complaint against God? Have you been in a situation where you found it difficult to reconcile the goodness of God with what was happening? Perhaps at some point you’ve felt frustrated at God’s apparent silence when you needed answers. Whatever the feeling was, you are not the first person to feel that way. And you probably won’t be the last. In the Bible you will find a few men of God who were frustrated, too. Everyone had his reasons. But a common thread is, “If God is who He is, then why doesn’t He do something about this or that situation? Today, it’s Habakkuk’s turn.

Habakkuk witnessed widespread wickedness in his day. He begins his complaint by affirming the holiness and justice of God. First, he recalls that God’s eyes are pure. Being pure, these eyes cannot look on wickedness. Of this, Habakkuk is sure. What baffles him, however, is God’s apparent indifference (or silence) in the face of increasing violence. Listen to his complaint: “Why do you look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a man more righteous than he?” These are the words of a man desperate to see justice. Habakkuk wants God to do something about the situation, now. But the Lord seems silent; He looks on as the wicked roam freely.

God is not mad if you take your complaint to Him in prayer. He is your Father. Whatever troubles you, He wants to hear it from you. He will answer you and enlighten you about what is happening. Our problem is, oftentimes we want God to do things our wayaccording to our timetable. We see wicked people, and we want ‘instant’ justice and divine retribution. We hardly pray for their repentance. Yet, no one feels the pain of injustice more than the Lord.

When we are going through a situation similar to Habakkuk’s, we need to remember two things. First, there is a time for everything. There is an appointed time for all who commit injustice. That time may not meet our expectations, but no matter how long it takes, justice and goodness will prevail. Second, God does not want people to die in their sins (Ezekiel 33:11). He gives people time to amend their ways and be saved (2 Peter 3:8-9). The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in love (Psalm 103:8). He is extremely patient, more patient than we are. And that can be frustrating for us.

God knows about your pain and your frustration. Be calm and know that He is in control. Finally, find it in your heart to pray for the repentance of wicked people. Desire their salvation, not their destruction.

God bless you, and have a great day! Amen. 

For further study: Psalm 73 

Dropping the Weights, Eyes on Jesus

Daily Devotional: Day 201

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, KJV).

Christianity is not an amusement park where we go from one happy ride to another. Neither is it like going to the movies: where we can cross our legs, relax in our chair, grab our popcorn and soda, and enjoy the show. Today’s Scripture passage tells us that Christianity is a competitive spiritual race. This means you are in a race where your fidelity (endurance) is being tested.  Remember that you have spiritual enemies in high places who are determined to thwart your progress. Their ultimate goal is to ensure that you don’t remain faithful to the end. The good news is, you have the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the angels, and the whole court of heaven rooting for you. Additionally, you have been endowed with all the supernatural help you need to be successful. In 2 Peter 1:3, the Holy Spirit testifies that “his [God’s] divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness . . .”

The Word of God tells us that we are surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses.” These ‘witnesses’ refer to all the examples of faith (faithfulness, obedience, endurance) named in Hebrews chapter 11.  God wants you to be like the people mentioned in Hebrews 11. Therefore, He wants you to lay aside two things which can negatively affect the outcome of your race of faith: First, you need to lay aside every weight; second, you need to lay aside the sin which so easily surrounds you. The idea here is simple. If you are in a competitive race, the slightest distraction or obstacle can stop you from attaining your goal. The ‘weight’ represents anything in your life that slows you down or hampers your progress in Christ. The sin part needs no explanation.

 Notice the Bible doesn’t say God will lay these things aside for you. No, that is your job. The Bible says, you need to lay aside every weight. This means God has given you the supernatural power and ability to do just that. In today’s world, there are many things that can weigh you down and distract you from the spiritual race ahead of you: the stress, the insatiable lust for material things, the enticement of the latest fashion, style and entertainment, the watering down of God’s Word, the proliferation of false teachings in the Church, the blurring of the lines between right and wrong, sports addiction, corrupt TV programs, etc.

 The Galatian Christians were doing well until some of them gave in to erroneous teachings about salvation and righteousness. This is what Paul told them: “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth (Galatians 5:7). Notice that Paul compares obeying the truth to running. Running the race of faith simply means living in faithful obedience and submission to Christ.

Dear child of God, the days are evil (cf. Ephesians 5:16). The enemy has a plan to hinder you. Stay alert in matters regarding your salvation, and abide in Jesus.

God bless you, in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Hebrews 11:1-40

Quenching the Fire of Revenge

Daily Devotional: Day 114

“But He [Jesus] turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them . . .” (Luke 9:55-56, NKJV).

 One day, Jesus had to pass through a Samaritan village on His way to Jerusalem. But when the people realized that He was headed toward Jerusalem, the people wouldn’t receive Him. This upset two Jesus’ disciples, James and John. So, they asked Jesus if He wanted them command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did (see the Scripture for further study below). Recall that at the time of Jesus, the Jews despised the Samaritans and would have no associations with them. Likewise, the Samaritans wouldn’t associate with Jews (cf. John 4:4-9). Jesus was not pleased with His disciples’ request. His response to James and John is what we see in today’s Scripture.

The Bible says that Jesus rebuked James and John and wasted no time in reminding them of His mission in the world. Jesus reminded James and John of two things. First, He told them that they didn’t know what manner of spirit were of. What ‘spirit’ was Jesus referring to? The answer is in the next verse. Jesus said that He had not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. Notice the contrast between what the disciples wanted and what Jesus wanted. In this incident, we realize that James and John were not on the same page as their Master. They wanted to destroy the Samaritans who refused to welcome Jesus. But Jesus’ desire was to save, not destroy.

From today’s story we learn the importance of having the same mind as the Savior. Jesus’s mind is to save. And He wants us to have the same mind. The ‘spirit’ we are of is not a spirit of destruction, but a spirit of mercy, compassion and salvation. When we meet people or minister to them, at times impatience and bias can get in the way, and this attitude can make us deviate from the ministry of mercy and compassion Jesus has entrusted to us. God has blessed us with the power of His Holy Spirit. This power is not for cursing or commanding fire to consume our enemies. Let’s have the same mind as the Savior and focus on saving, not destroying.

Pray to the Father about what you’ve heard today.

For further study:  2 Kings 1:1-15