Week 36 Sept. 2 - 8, 2018

Due to the advent of GPS technology, there is an entire generation of Americans now graduating from high school who have never held a physical map in their hands.

These young adults simply plug in the address of their preferred destination and then follow turn-by-turn directions from an automated voice until they safely arrive.

While most of us also celebrate the modern convenience of GPS, what older generations will always appreciate about charting a course with the help of Rand McNally is the value of looking for checkpoints.

Checkpoints are notable locations along a charted course where drivers can pause to reevaluate their plan and ensure they are still making the correct turns to complete their journey successfully. In the Bible, there are also several passages where the Lord has provided us with spiritual checkpoints to gauge if we are accurately following the footsteps of Christ.

 In chapters 6-10 of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul makes a strong effort to help the Corinthian church reevaluate their spiritual journey into Christlikeness. In doing so, he has given us all the following four unique checkpoints that serve as a roadmap for making the right decisions in our walk with Christ:

Checkpoint #1: 1 Corinthians 6:12a; Question to consider: Is my decision helpful physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally?

As the Corinthians wrestled with how to exercise their freedom from the legal restrictions of the Mosaic Law, Paul reminded them that every decision still needs to be helpful and edifying for the Body of Christ. He states, “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful.” This reminds us that our freedom in Christ still requires us to make decisions that help us to think and act more like our Lord and Savior.

Checkpoint #2: 1 Corinthians 6:12b; Question to consider: Can my decision bring me under the power of anything aside from God?

 Another concept the Corinthians failed to understand is that freedom must never be used to allow us to come under the bondage of anything apart from Christ’s lordship. Paul proclaims, “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” We too need to ask ourselves if the decision we are about to make will enable anything to have more power over us than Christ himself.

Checkpoint #3: 1 Corinthians 8:13; Question to consider: Will my decision possibly hurt others?

The third checkpoint forced the selfish Corinthians to begin thinking beyond their own needs and desires. Paul says, “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” The Apostle gives us the same reality check: What may be free for us might lead to slavery for others, so we must guard against being a stumbling block.

Checkpoint #4: 1 Corinthians 10:31; Question to consider: Does my decision bring glory to God?

Paul uses the final checkpoint to enable the Corinthians to step back and see the big picture. He states, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This is a reminder to all Christians that the chief goal in our spiritual journey is to glorify the Lord in all things. We need to mark every decision by what would bring God the most glory.

So, let us use this Corinthian roadmap and remember these four checkpoints as we seek to make the right decisions in our walk with Christ. While this method may not always be easy, God is more interested in us trusting in His Spirit than trusting in our GPS.

A Roadmap for Making the Right Decisions

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More Power to His People

God’s awesome power was displayed through the weakness of Israel throughout the entire Old Testament. And although many miraculous victories are noted in Israel’s historical records, the power God demonstrated through His people is most prominently mentioned in the Psalter. In Psalm 68, King David once again praises God for His awesome power, because he fully understood it was from the Lord’s gracious hand that Israel was granted each victory. In verse 35 he proclaims, “Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!”

Set Apart Through Salvation

When Israel was adopted as God’s chosen people, they were set apart to represent the Lord’s holy presence by reflecting His righteous standards. But Israel became a witness for the Lord not through their holy lifestyle, but instead through God’s power to save them from their repeated sinfulness. In 2 Kings 19, King Hezekiah prayed to the Lord to be redeemed from the hand of King Sennacherib. The Israelites were being persecuted by the Assyrians because of their disobedience to the Lord, but in verse 19 Hezekiah appealed to God’s glory alone as the grounds for their future salvation. He prayed, “So now, O Lord our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.”

Practicing What You Preach

The Apostle Paul spoke frequently about discipline and self-control in his New Testament letters. He did so not only because he considered these qualities a fruit of the Spirit, but also because he understood how essential it was to practice what he preached. Paul knew he was as an apostle who spoke on behalf of Christ, and if he didn’t have the endurance to finish the Christian race faithfully it would do serious damage to his gospel message and also prevent him from receiving eternal rewards. As he states in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Week 37 Readings:  September 9 – 15

-Day One:  Isaiah 45-48; 1 Corinthians 13

-Day Two:  Isaiah 49-52; Psalm 69; 1 Corinthians 14

-Day Three:  Isaiah 53-55; Psalm 128; 1 Corinthians 15

-Day Four:  Isaiah 56-59; Psalm 70; 1 Corinthians 16

-Day Five:  Isaiah 60-63; 2 Corinthians 1   


Tips to Keep You on Track

          This week’s assigned readings will complete our study of 1 Corinthians. During the journey through each of the book’s 16 chapters, we have encountered many familiar passages that even causal Christian readers recognize. However, there may not be a more popular passage in the entire New Testament than 1 Corinthians 13. This passage is known as the “love chapter” because its definition of biblical love expressed in verses 4-8 is commonly referenced during wedding ceremonies. And while many people can quote the words of this passage by heart, most haven’t let the truth of those words sink into their hearts quite as deep. As you approach this chapter, do not let your familiarity with these verses cause you to gloss over the words too quickly. Meditate on what Paul is really saying when he describes the patience, kindness, self-denial, and enduring heart of grace that is required to practice true, biblical love. God defines love in this passage as a commitment and not a feeling, and marriages in our world today need to be founded on this principle. Although the feelings we have for our spouse often changes by the hour, if we love them biblically we will be committed to their greatest good for the rest of our lives.