Week 35 Aug 26 - Sept 1, 2018

According to a recent report from the National Retail Federation, 188.5 million football fans spent a total of 15.3 billion dollars on Super Bowl parties in 2018.

This lavish retail splurge on everything from decorations to apparel and even food was primarily driven by individuals promoting their proud allegiance to a championship caliber team.

For some consumers, these statistics may represent nothing more than the result of a great opportunity to actively support a local ball club. But what these numbers reveal about most fans, however, is a sinful pursuit of the human heart: Superiority.  

Since mankind’s fall in the Garden of Eden, we have wrestled with an identity problem. While we were originally created to find our worth in being image-bearers of our Creator, our sinful separation from God has led us to look elsewhere to establish our own value.

This deep insecurity often creates a superiority complex, where we overcompensate for our self-doubt by attaching our identity to the earned success of an external factor. When this external factor is deemed successful, our association with their success gives us the opportunity to boast in our newly exalted status before others.

Unfortunately, the deeper truth behind every superiority complex is that all self-boasting is blinded by superficial deception, because only God can establish the true value of a human soul.

In 1 Corinthians 3, the apostle Paul was directly confronted with the same sinful issue of superiority in the Corinthian church. Many of the church’s members were filled with jealousy and strife because of their struggle to find their true identity in Christ. These members desperately wanted to associate exclusively with specific church leaders as a means of establishing superiority over other believers in the congregation.

Some bragged openly about their allegiance to the gifted Alexandrian preacher Apollos, while others clung to their unwavering loyalty towards Paul.

When Paul heard about these quarrels, the apostle quickly reminded them that no superior value should be placed on anyone but God alone because each church member is nothing more than a recipient of the Lord’s unmerited grace.

As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.”

In his apostolic rebuke, Paul reminded the Corinthians that all glory and honor belong to God alone. He emphasized that we are all a product of God’s grace and have nothing superior to brag about apart from Him. While Paul was a gifted evangelist who laid a foundation for the church, and Apollos came along and watered many of Paul’s gospel seeds, it was God who gave the fruitful increase.

What Paul reminds us today through this message to the Corinthians is that our true identity is found only in Jesus Christ. He alone is superior and we all come to Him on level ground as redeemed sinners. Our calling is simply to be His faithful servants here on earth. We are merely fellow workers who have been given different measures of gifts and abilities to help build God’s kingdom.

So let us set aside our superiority complexes and labor together on the same team for the same goal: to glorify God and receive eternal wages that will far surpass any earthly trophies.

Surrendering Our Superiority

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Willing to Wait

The 30th chapter of Isaiah begins with God calling Judah “stubborn children” because they decided to trust in the military protection of Egypt over the sovereign protection of the Lord. However, despite highlighting the foolishness of Judah’s rebellious nature in the first 17 verses, Isaiah 30:18 refines the focus of the chapter by pointing to God’s providential patience for His chosen people. The passage proclaims, “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.”

Our Source of Satisfaction

As the most prominent psalmist in scripture, King David often points to the house of God as the primary source of his satisfaction. Despite his abundant wealth, military power, and rare gifts as a warrior and a poet, David is known in history as a man after God’s own heart because what he consistently treasures most is God’s own presence. In Psalm 65:4 he reiterates this deep desire to be near to the Lord when he states, “Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!”

Evil Leads to Exile

2 Kings 17 chronicles one of the darkest moments in Israel’s history as the ten tribes of the northern kingdom were taken away from Samaria and led into a devastating exile in Assyria. While verse 6 describes the Assyrian capture by King Hoshea, the bulk of verses 7-23 focuses on explaining the reason for the exile: Israel’s idolatry. Despite being delivered by God from slavery in Egypt, provided daily manna in the desert, and given a land flowing with milk and honey as a lavish inheritance, Israel consistently sinned against the Lord. They served the idols of other nations and rejected God’s love, which eventually led to them being ejected from God’s land.

Week 36 Readings:  September 2 – 8

-Day One:  2 Chronicles 29-31; 1 Corinthians 8

-Day Two:  2 Kings 18-19; 2 Chronicles 32; Psalm 67; 1 Corinthians 9

-Day Three:  Isaiah 36-37; Psalm 123; 1 Corinthians 10

-Day Four:  2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38-40; Psalm 68; 1 Corinthians 11

-Day Five:  Isaiah 41-44; 1 Corinthians 12   


Tips to Keep You on Track

          Our readings this week will continue to guide us through the book of 1 Corinthians as we encounter chapters 8-12. While studying these five chapters, pay careful attention to how Paul addresses a pattern of key issues in the Corinthian church with one clear solution right in the middle of his argument. In chapters 8-10 Paul warns about allowing food and sex to become issues of idolatry, and in chapters 11-12 he shifts his discussion to highlight the importance of church order by giving mandates for head coverings, the Lord’s Supper, and the use of spiritual gifts. However, Paul provides the final answer to both idolatry and disorder in the church in 1 Corinthians 10:31 when he states, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” As you read these chapters, remember that even if your struggles may be different than the Corinthians, the solution remains the same. Our main purpose on this earth is to seek to glorify God in all things as His image-bearers. Therefore, if God’s glory remains our main objective, let us trust that He will give us sufficient grace each day to continue making His name great throughout all of creation.