We Live to Worship God Alone: Day 5

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     Day 5: Reflection

READING: PSALM 139:23-24

What did the Scripture readings this week reveal to you about the grace and love of God?         

What did you learn about yourself this week?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Nehemiah 5 & 6

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Write out your own prayer to God today.

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We Live to Worship God Alone: Day 4

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     Day 4: Do Everything for the Glory of God

“Think about the things that are tempting you to sin against God. Think about the truth that you can either participate with God, or participate with God’s enemy. Think about the truth that you cannot do both. Think about your life choices. Think about your decisions. Think everything through.”

This is summary of what Paul has written throughout 1 Corinthians chapter 10. And now as he gets to the conclusion of this part of the letter, he writes, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (10:31).”

If the people of Corinth were wondering, “How do we live?” Paul doesn’t leave them any wiggle room in his response. “You eat. You drink. You commit to your spouse. You handle conflict well. You be a positive influence. You speak encouraging words. You do everything for the glory of God.” Elsewhere, Paul writes that God’s followers were created by God and for His glory (Colossians 1:16). So in essence, Paul is simply encouraging the people of Corinth to be the people God has already made them to be. And by being who God made them to be, they’ll naturally do everything that is good and holy. It starts with who we are, and the outcome of that is how we live. As you read today, consider this: What do you think it means that you were created for the glory of God? 

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 10:1-11:1, COLOSSIANS 1:16

What do you think it means that you were created for the glory of God?

In what ways does this lead you to be able to do everything for the glory of God?

What questions, if any, do you have from the reading this week? How will you find answers to those questions?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Nehemiah 3 & 4

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, as I read through Your Word, it’s easy for me to get caught up thinking about what I need to do instead of first focusing on who You’ve made me to be. But my desire is to be the person You’ve made me to be, so that I may live in the way You desire me to live. Today, may I rejoice in the truth that I was created for Your glory. And because I was created for Your glory, may I continue to live the life You’ve called me to live. Thank You for the wisdom You offer to help me live this life well. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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We Live to Worship God Alone: Day 3

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     Day 3: Here We Go Again

Try to imagine what it would’ve been like for the people of Corinth to hear Paul’s letter being read out loud from beginning to end. That’s how it would’ve been done. There were no chapters or verses in Paul’s letter. Just one long scroll that would’ve been publicly read from beginning to end. 

As they’re listening, Paul once again uses a phrase that would’ve been familiar for all listening. “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.”

Hearing this, one man turns to the person next to him and whispers, “Didn’t he just read that a few minutes ago?” “Shhhhh,” his neighbor responds. “I’m trying to listen!”

But yes, indeed, Paul did write with these same words back in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. It was a common style in Paul’s day to repeat the same phrases to emphasize a point. Apparently, this was a point Paul really wanted to make. It’s as if Paul uses this opportunity to say, “I’m here to teach you, but what I most want to teach you is to think. Stop saying, ‘Everything is permissible,’ because if you pause to think, you’ll come to see that not everything is beneficial.” As you read today, consider this: How often do you think through the outcome of your thoughts/actions? 

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 10:23-11:1

How often do you pause to think through the outcome of your actions? Your words? Your thoughts? 

What would it look like for you to pause more regularly to think of the possible outcomes of your actions, words and/or thoughts? 

How would pausing to think through the outcome of your actions, words, and/or thoughts draw you closer to God?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Nehemiah 1 & 2

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I’m grateful that Paul didn’t just once write the phrase, “…not everything is beneficial,” but he instead repeated it to help me recognize that just because I can do something, doesn’t mean it’s good for me to do so. Today, I pray for Your wisdom in how to better think through all areas of life. Help me to see the negative consequences of my worldly thoughts and actions, and the positive outcomes of my godly thoughts and actions, so that I may continue to grow into the person You’ve made me to be. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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We Live to Worship God Alone: Day 2

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     Day 2: Participating With God

When Paul wrote this letter to the people of Corinth, there was a Greek translation of the Old Testament that was publicly used for reading and teaching. Within this Greek translation, terms such as idols or false gods in the Old Testament were translated as demons. Similarly, the other Greek and Roman gods that were regularly worshiped by the people were also referred to as demons. Knowing this, Paul addresses the topic of participation. For example, Paul writes In 1 Corinthians 10:20, “…I do not want you to be participants with demons.”

This term participation is quite strong. It means to have a close association or fellowship with someone, or something. It’s much deeper than simply having an affiliation with something. Instead, to participate is to be united with the beliefs, goals, objectives, etc. 

In other words, this was Paul’s way of saying, “You can participate in the gospel, and be in fellowship (participation) with Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:9). Or you can be in participation with false gods, idols, or demons. But what you cannot do, is be in participation with both. So ask yourselves, with whom or what are you most participating (experiencing fellowship)? With God, or with God’s enemy?” As you read today, consider this question in your own life.

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 10:14-22

How often do you pause to think about how well you’re participating with God or with God’s enemy?

With whom or what are you most participating (experiencing fellowship)? With God, or with God’s enemy?

How will you choose to be in participation with God this week?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Esther 8, 9, & 10

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that I don’t regularly view my life as whether I’m participating with You or participating with Your enemy. I’m grateful that Your word makes it clear that I can only do one or the other: be with You, or against You. While I recognize I will occasionally fail, the lifeline choice I’m making is to be with You because You have done everything in Your power to be with me. Today, provide me the wisdom to see how I can better participate in life with You. Help me to see that I can participate with You in every part of my life. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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We Live to Worship God Alone: Day 1

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     Day 1: More than Mistakes

At this point in time, Paul had addressed a number of important topics in his letter to the people of Corinth. He wrote about glorifying God with our bodies, managing conflict within the church, marital obligations, and more. Now, Paul focuses on the ancient history of the people of Israel, and how they failed to worship God alone. 

While it is likely that the people of Israel knew their history and heritage well, Paul takes the time to draw out some specifics. He writes that the people of Israel in the Old Testament didn’t just make minor mistakes, but instead, they made intentional decisions against God. They drank and indulged in revelry (10:7). They committed sexual immorality (10:8). They tested God (10:9). They grumbled against God (10:10). And the consequences they experienced due to these decisions were quite severe. 

Finally, knowing that the people of Corinth lived in a society in which followers of Christ would be tempted to commit these same acts against God, he encourages them as strongly as he can by writing, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common for mankind…but God will provide a way out for you (vv. 12-13).” As you read today, consider this: Think of a time when you were tempted in one of the ways mentioned above.

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 10:1-13

Think of a time when you were tempted in one of the ways mentioned in today’s reading (10:7-10). Were you tempted in any of these ways recently? In what way did God provide a way out for you (10:12-13)? 

What are 3-4 things you’ve learned from your own family history?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Esther 5, 6, & 7

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I recognize that I live in a world and culture in which temptations regularly come my way. I’m tempted to give-in to behaviors that numb me from reality. I’m tempted to think or give-in to sexual immorality. I’m tempted to indulge, to test You, to grumble against You, and more. I pray for wisdom in how to best respond to these temptations, that the way out is clear for me. Bring to my mind all the things that distract me from better knowing You and keeping my focus on You. Help me to see how to best remove these distractions from my life. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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We Live to Build Up: Day 5

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     Day 5: Reflection

READING: PSALM 86:10-13

What did the Scripture readings this week reveal to you about the grace and love of God?         

What did you learn about yourself this week?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Esther 3 & 4

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Write out your own prayer to God today.

Click here if you would like to provide feedback to help us make the daily devotional and scripture reading guide even better.

We Live to Build Up: Day 4

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     Day 4: Positive Influence Part IV

Throughout this week, we’ve looked into 1 Corinthians 8 and tried to evaluate it in context of who it was originally written to, and how it would apply to us in our culture today. One final aspect of 1 Corinthians 8 is to recognize that Paul’s concern wasn’t just for a ‘weaker’ individual. Instead, Paul’s concern was how situations could impact the whole of the church, and even the larger society.

For example, if Person A would happen to eat food sacrificed to idols and Person B (who may be ‘weaker’ in the faith) would happen to see them and stumble as a result, they themselves may do something that would cause another individual to stumble. This pattern may continue over and over again. In fact, this pattern was happening in many ways over and over again throughout the church in Corinth, which is why Paul wrote such a lengthy letter to them to begin with! 

But in his wisdom, Paul was always thinking about the bigger picture. What kind of people must Christians be in order to be a positive example? What kind of decisions must Christians make in order to show they’re thinking through things well? How must Christians live in order to show they’re living full, abundant lives? As you read today, consider this: In what ways is Christianity having a positive influence on our culture and society? 

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 8:1-13

In what ways is Christianity having a positive influence on our culture and society?

Do you feel like Christians, in general, are truly focused on having a positive influence on our culture and society? 

What is one thing you can be doing in our own community to have more of a positive influence?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Esther 1 & 2

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I’m not sure I can recall a time in which I’ve questioned whether the food somebody was putting on the table had been sacrificed to an idol. But I’ve been in many situations that impact how others see me, my family, or my church. Today, I simply pray that I will recognize and live out the full, abundant life You’ve provided me. And may I do so in a way that will build others up, not tear them down. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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We Live to Build Up: Day 3

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     Day 3: Positive Influence Part III

How do we apply passages like 1 Corinthians 8 today? Perhaps the best way to look at it is to think about a topic that is (1) not an essential teaching within Christianity, and (2) may cause divisiveness among believers. 

One such conversation revolves around the consumption of alcohol. Some questions or statements that come up about this topic include:

    • Is it sinful to consume alcohol? 
    • It’s just a glass of wine with dinner. It’s not like I’m getting drunk. That’s not a bad thing, is it? 
    • My grandfather died of liver disease. There’s absolutely no good that comes from drinking alcohol.

‘Round and ‘round the conversation goes. Sometimes, one may even point to a specific scripture passage to make their point, while another will point to a different one to make theirs. 

This is one way to think about 1 Corinthians 8, though there are likely many, many more. How did Paul respond? In verse 9 he writes, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” As you read today, consider this: What are some other topics in which your rights could be a stumbling block for others?  

READING: 1 TIMOTHY 5:23, ECCLESIASTES 9:7, EPHESIANS 5:18, 1 CORINTHIANS 10:23-24

What do you think Paul meant when he wrote, “Be careful, that the exercise of your ‘rights’ does not become a stumbling block to the ‘weak?’” 

What are some other topics in which your rights could be a stumbling block for others?  

What other questions come to mind as you think through today’s reading? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Ezra 9 & 10

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that today’s reading has given me much to think about. I recognize that I’ve gotten hung-up on topics that are not central to the Christian faith, and have the potential to cause division among myself and others. But Father, I don’t want to be a person of division. My desire is to be a person of unity. Continue to help me be a person of peace. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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We Live to Build Up: Day 2

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     Day 2: Positive Influence Part II

Throughout many cultures in the Old Testament, people would sacrifice food to their god(s), and would even leave some of the food in front of small, carved idols in order to give food and drink to their gods. They treated their gods well, believing that if the gods were happy, they would be blessed. 

This custom passed down to the Greco-Roman world as well, but the people would not only give food and drink to their gods, but would then also eat the same food themselves so that the food would not spoil. 

Apparently, this custom created a large brouhaha within Christianity. If a business partner invited somebody over for dinner, should they eat the food prepared for them, even if it was sacrificed to an idol? Should somebody poor go hungry at a large banquet because the food prepared for them was sacrificed to an idol?

To respond, Paul sticks to his tried and true philosophy of unity and being a positive influence within the community. He basically says, if your decision causes anybody else to waiver in their faith, don’t do it. Instead, do whatever you can to build one another up. As you read today, consider this: Think of at least one person who could use a word of encouragement – go and encourage them today.

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 8:1-13

Who are the three people who have been the most positive influence in your own life? Think about it: What did they do that had such a strong, lasting impact in your life?  

Think of at least one person who could use a word of encouragement – go and encourage them today.

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Ezra 7 & 8

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, our culture today is quite different than that in the Greco-Roman world, but I also recognize it may not be as different as I sometimes make it out to be. The people who lived then were still people. They struggled with the same thoughts and behaviors I often struggle with. They struggled with unity among one another in the same way I struggle with unity with others. Today, help me to keep my focus on the things that matter most. May my thoughts, actions, and words be an encouragement to all.  I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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We Live to Build Up: Day 1

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     Day 1: Positive Influence Part I

It’s easy to read through parts of the Bible and think, “I wish so-and-so would read this passage. If they would just apply this one passage in their life, then my life would be better, too.” More rarely do we read through parts of the Bible and think, “Sexual immorality? Yes, that’s important for some people. But my thoughts and actions aren’t that unhealthy for my life.” Or, “Love everybody? Wow, it’d be great for so-and-so to read this and apply it, because I don’t feel loved by them at all!” 

But this way of reading through the Scriptures isn’t best. Instead, it’s best to read it, understand it’s meaning to those in that culture, and then think through how to apply it in our own lives. We serve a very personal God and we need to read and grasp His Word personally in our own lives.

This way of reading the Bible is crucial for 1 Corinthians 8. Why? Because on the surface, 1 Corinthians 8 doesn’t seem very applicable to our lives. For example, have you eaten any food that was sacrificed on behalf of Poseidon or Neptune recently? In our culture, most certainly not. But stick with us this week, as 1 Corinthians 8 is full of wisdom. As you read today, consider this: How well do you read the Bible with the thought of, “What is this passage really about, and how can I apply it in my own life?”

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 8:1-13, PROVERBS 8:10-11

How well do you read the Bible with the thought of, “What is this passage really about, and how can I apply it in my own life?” 

Have you found a specific bible study or journaling method that works well for you? In what ways has it been most helpful?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Zechariah 1:1-6, 2, & 12

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today’s reading helps me to see that whether I read the Bible regularly, or very little, there is much I can learn from Your Word. I confess there are times when I read or hear something and think to myself, “I really wish so-and-so would apply this in their life!” but I really want my desires to change so that I focus more time and energy on growing myself. This week, lead and guide me to draw a circle around myself, and to keep my focus on everything inside that circle. May what I read, pray, and write about help me to grow. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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