Training for What Matters Most

Paul is in the middle of addressing an attitude of church members who view and treat hired Clergy as people who have an obligation to ‘feed’ or ‘disciple’ them in the particular way they believe they should be fed and discipled….

God’s called Leaders / Clergy do not have any such obligation…They have an obligation to the Lord and to the Church Body.

The world evaluates their leaders from a consumeristic, self-focused point of view.  Are we not to be the opposite? The last is first, first is last goes for all of us!

God says thru Paul’s life: Here is how you do it.

God’s example: Paul’s others-focused life, to show the Corinthians & Us how it’s done.

Paul gives us an example of commitment, attitude, action and Motivation.

Last Week: 1 Corinthian 9:13-14

Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

1st Corinthians 9:15-27

But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast.

  • Paul is not interested in his career or his position in the leadership (politics)
  • His integrity is his reward

For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.

  • He humbly admits it’s not about him…he didn’t choose it, it chose him…
  • If supported his preaching the Gospel is is good if unsupported, better

What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel. Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.

  • The offer is made without creating an ‘Obligation’…it should elicit a ‘Response’
  • No one will have the ability to manipulate him because he give to all the same

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.

  • Paul no longer sees himself as a Jew… He had to become like them
  • ‘Walk a mile n a man’s moccasins’

To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.

  • Gentiles were basically all non Jews
  • The principal of being under God’s Sovereignty by willful decision still holds
  • Again the point is to relate and join God as HE works in people
  • ‘The Weak’: marginalized people… We cannot just be available to those we like

I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

  • Whatever it takes, no matter who it is, the standard is to do what you can!
  • The motivation is the message, the message is the motivation
  • The blessings of Christ are fully found in the things done FOR OTHERS!

How did Paul prepare for such work? It took some time…He trained for it like a sport

Approximately 8 years from the Damascus Road to him beginning missionary work

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

  • If you sign up to race you run…but how should you prepare to win?
  • People train at crazy levels to win things that are worthless
  • We can train to get things that are eternal

Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

  • Because there is so much at stake we should focus
  • This is serious biz and we need to sacrifice like Paul
  • You can do your best so

Application Questions:

Should YOU be training for the chance to do professional ministry, why or why not?

What’s a current situation where YOU could ‘become like’ someone and share Christ?

Is YOUR approach to growth focused on you or on others?

How can you begin training for ministry like YOU have trained for other things?

Describe in detail your motivation, YOUR ‘Why’ to be a disciple who makes disciples.

Supporting ‘WORK IN THE LORD’

The support of Servant Leaders by those they serve is God’s design!

A healthy Body supports their leaders at a level where they are not poor, but also not at a level where they are not required to depend on God.

1st Corinthians 9:1-14

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

  • Paul is establishing his ‘Bonafides’…Leaders should have a track record
  • The community should be able to see God working through leaders
  • The recognition that we all have benefited from someone’s ‘Work in The Lord’

This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. Don’t we have the right to food and drink? Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?

  • There appears to have been a group complaining about supporting them
  • His peers are supported but he and Barnabas are held to a different standard

Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing?

  • Anyone works for the benefit of others should share in the benefits as well
  • Not only is this common sense, it is God’s way (God of Justice)

For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest.

  • The principal is illustrated by the Ox example, but applies to us
  • God designed us to work based on our directly sharing in ‘The fruit of our labor’
  • This is why Socialism doesn’t work: work is detached from result of it
  • The book of Proverbs is where God fully explains his ‘Work Ethic’

If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

  • Exchange of ‘Spiritual Seed’ for ‘Material Harvest’…is this mutually beneficial?
  • It is a good thing to support ‘Missionaries & Para Churches’…
  • As long as you fulfill your immediate commitments as a member of a ‘Body’
  • Leaders must not leverage power for support… trust God & ‘Work in The Lord’
  • We aspire to lead not for the support, but because we are called to it…

Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

  • O.T. TheTemple was place of worship, those who facilitated were supported
  • Those who made the sacrifices were material supported by the community
  • The preaching of the Gospel equates to making sacrifices
  • Command of Scripture: The Body must materially support it’s Servant Leaders

Application Questions:

Who’s ‘Work in The Lord’ has benefited you? How might you support them?

How should christian professionals be compensated compared to their peers?

How might you intentionally act to better support leaders in Jesus’ Church?

When you consider vocational ministry, do the economics of it discourage you?

Being Loving Rather Than Being Right

1st Corinthians 8:1-13

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.

  • Previously on ‘The Corinthians’…
  • Knowledge: It has value, we all have it…is it useful?
  • Puffs up = Self Focus / Feeling Important…is this the Culture we want?
  • Builds up = Edifies / Strengthens / Grows…is this the Culture we want?
  • Believing you have something figured out proves that you do not.
  • Knowledge without humility is always incomplete
  • I love God when I trust & live the truth of the Gospel…and I’m known by God!!
  • What is the Gospel? How do I trust and live out the Gospel? Known by God?

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”)

  • ‘We know’ Sound Scripture Based Theology
  • One and only God, everything else is demonic
  • They appear as ‘gods’ or ‘lord’ because of the power people unwittingly give
  • What is your spiritual reality?
  • Do you give idols power in your life because your theology is unsettled?

Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

  • ‘For Us’…The Bond of The Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • This Spiritual Reality is ours, not for being right, but for being loving
  • He not only is everything, as disciples we live from that everything… ‘Lifestyle’

But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

  • Levels of this knowledge as God reveals Himself to us
  • Even as we try to follow Christ we default to our old way of thinking (Rom 12:2)
  • If you don’t have conviction of your surrender to Christ you can be legalistic

Jesus @ Mark 7:16-21:

It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart… Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” And then he added,“It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts…”

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols?

  • As disciples we’ve the right to not care about silly superstitions & false gods…
  • We have to be careful to not unduly influence others at different growth stages
  • Following Christ, as His disciples, we must become aware of others situations!
  • We are called to get into each other’s lives enough to know our weak spots
  • Don’t be a part of enabling someone do do what they don’t think they should

So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

  • Knowledge is not our goal as disciples of Christ, Love is
  • Christ’s way is to care enough to know what causes your bother to stumble
  • Christ’s way is to do your best to not be a stumbling block
  • The Spirit Filled example is to do whatever I have to

Application Questions:

When and why do you rely on your knowledge instead of Your trust in God’s Love?

What influences in your life contribute to less ‘puffing up’ and more ‘building up’?

Why are the statements about the Father & Jesus important to our relationships?

How can you become more aware of things you do that discourage other believers?

How might you care for your Bothers & Sisters sacrificially, guarding them from sin?

The Priority of Serving Christ

Vision for the Biblical Christ Centered Culture God is building @ Midtown:

A culture of Gospel & Discipleship

A culture of Scripture & Service

A culture of Prayer & Care

Culture defined by: Activity & Principal…Faith & Relationship…Standards & Love

Our primary means by which culture is formed is doing our level best to interpret and apply Scripture.

So we continue with: ‘The Corinthians’…

When we last left The Corinthians Paul was answering questions about marriage

1st Corinthians 7:25-40

Now regarding your question about the young women who are not yet married. I do not have a command from the Lord for them. But the Lord in his mercy has given me wisdom that can be trusted, and I will share it with you. Because of the present crisis, I think it is best to remain as you are.

  • Response to a specific question put to Paul
  • If Scripture has no bearing on your situation, what do you do with it?
  • Tied to ‘present situation’ so it’s not a ‘general command’ from God’s Word for all
  • Principle contained is that marriage is not to be entered into lightly
  • ‘Present Crisis’ Persecution by Romans + Famine

If you have a wife, do not seek to end the marriage. If you do not have a wife, do not seek to get married. But if you do get married, it is not a sin. And if a young woman gets married, it is not a sin. However, those who get married at this time will have troubles, and I am trying to spare you those problems.

  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ was causing a lot of social unrest
  • The core of Paul’s Spirit led guidance is: Count The Cost / Take Your Time
  • Why? Because there is a more important priority as a disciple of Christ

But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage.

  • The time that remains is very short…DO YOU see the time we have as limited?
  • Call is to not focus ONLY on your marriage…

Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.

  • ‘Emotional Consumerism’
  • Absorbed / Attached….’Social Media’??
  • Making an idol of ANYTHING is not wise… even a spouse
  • Time is fleeting…we have a finite amount of time

I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided.

  • Where the Spirit of The Lord is There is FREEDOM
  • Do you want to be free to fully serve Christ? Should a disciple desire otherwise?
  • Are you aware of how your interests are divided (by: world / flesh / satan)
  • We will be divided, but where is our priority?

In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband.

  • Serious temporal commitments CAN & WILL impact how you serve Christ
  • Biblical One Flesh Marriage is serious stuff…how do we prioritize?
  • As disciples of Christ we ‘Lay down our lives’ for HIM…
  • Should we not structure our lives so we make Him 1st, Spouse & Family 2nd?

I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.

  • The desire of God is that we would serve Him best we can…(best thing for us!)
  • Distractions are a reality, the question is will you be distracted?
  • The real danger is when you don’t think they are distractions, just life…

But if a man thinks that he’s treating his fiancée improperly and will inevitably give in to his passion, let him marry her as he wishes. It is not a sin. But if he has decided firmly not to marry and there is no urgency and he can control his passion, he does well not to marry. So the person who marries his fiancée does well, and the person who doesn’t marry does even better.

  • This is in reference to a couple planning to marry, no sin to get married
  • But in the Corinthians present situation, singleness is the better situation

A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if he loves the Lord. But in my opinion it would be better for her to stay single, and I think I am giving you counsel from God’s Spirit when I say this.

  • Bound ‘until death do you part’… remarry any other who ‘Loves The Lord’
  • Free to remarry, best is to stay single…(this is situational, not general)
  • Council from God’s Spirit: Prophecy / Scripture

Application Questions:

Why is haste in the forming or dissolving of Biblical Marriage discouraged in Scripture?

As YOU evaluate your current commitments, where is serving Christ among them?

What ‘Non-Eternal’ things absorb YOUR time and emotions rather than serving Christ?

As a disciple of Christ how do YOU practically prioritize serving with your spouse?

How might YOU regularly serve Christ’s Body with the ones you love the most?