“So Run to Win”

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! – 1 Cor. 9:24-27

 1 Cor. 9:24-27 NLT

If we enter the race, we should run the race expecting to win.  What would be the point in running if we didn’t try to win?  If we are going to be a true competitor, we must train faithfully every day. If we do that to run an earthly race and win a temporary reward, shouldn’t we be much more serious about our Spiritual race?  We must run our Spiritual race as if our lives depended on winning it because they do. If we are faithful in that race, we will get a crown that lasts forever. Every day is a battle and we must fight the battle with sincerity and purpose. We must bring our flesh under submission and follow after the Holy Spirit.  We must strive for holiness so that we are not disqualified and fail to win the prize.  

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called ​me heavenward in Christ Jesus.—Phil. 3:13​-14 NIV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“Spread the Good News”

23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. – 1 Cor. 9:23 NLT

1 Cor. 9:19-23 NLT

Paul uses whatever he has in common with a person to build a bridge to communicate with that person. Paul understood the Old Testament Law and could speak to that. He knows what it is to be freed from that law and live under Christ’s law, the law of Christ is to love God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. We are also instructed to bear one another’s burdens.  Paul does all these things to win souls to Christ and so must we show love and compassion.  It is a true saying that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.  That is the example that Jesus set for us while He was here on earth. Becoming “all things to all people” is much too vast a subject to cover here. But we can all speak or act when we feel that little nudge from the Holy Spirit to do so. We just need to do our part and trust God for the results, Then our lives will be overflowing with blessings and Joy unspeakable!

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“I Never Demand My Rights”

18 What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News. – 1 Cor. 9:18 NLT

1 Cor. 9;14-18 NLT

Paul has gone through all of this to let them know what an apostle could require of them. He also wants them to understand that he has not used any of these rights for his own benefit nor does he want to use them now. Paul is going to preach the gospel, not for pay, but because his love for Jesus compels him to do so. He preaches voluntarily to lay up rewards in heaven. If he or we should do so for any other reason then we are merely fulfilling our duty and there will be little or no joy in doing so. Our salvation cost us nothing, it was paid for at Calvary, we should tell others just because we love Jesus.  If Paul is going to boast about anything it will be that he preaches the gospel without charging anyone for it and thus he will retain his reward. Each of us should feel the same way in using the gift that God has given each of us as a member of His body.

8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.—Matt. 10:8 NIV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“You Must Be Careful”

9 But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble. ​- 1 Cor. 8:9 NLT

1 Cor. 8:7-13 NLT

Paul continues his narrative on whether or not we, as Christians, are free to eat meat sacrificed to idols.  The point he is making is that when we exercise our liberty in Christ Jesus, we need to be sure that others are not offended or misled by watching us.  Though we have the knowledge that we have liberty because Jesus Christ died to set us free from the law and from sin, others do not have that knowledge.  They are accustomed to not eating meat sacrificed to idols because that is what the law has taught them. Just as some of the disciples still taught that you had to be circumcised because they did not yet have the understanding of their freedom in Christ. We, being the stronger, should then give up our freedom to do certain things.  Not because the action itself is a sin, but because it causes our brother or sister to stumble and we have sinned against them. Any sin against anyone is a sin against Christ. So we should use our knowledge, spoken in love, to edify our brothers and sisters and not to harm them.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“Remain As You Were”

24 Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when God first called you. – 1 Cor. 7:24 NLT

 1 Cor. 7:20-24 NLT

​God calls us right where we are. He will never ask us to do something He has not prepared us to do. If we know nothing about missionary work and have not been trained to do it, we won’t be leaving for the mission field the day after we are saved (at least, not with God’s blessing). Except to tell others that you are saved, you probably shouldn’t be preaching or teaching until you have become grounded in the Scriptures. Jesus had forty days in the desert and withstood great temptations before He started His work here on earth. If Jesus needed some training, we can rest assured that all of us do as well. We can also look at Paul’s experience for an example. After his conversion on the Damascus road, God sent him to the desert of Arabia for three years to be trained by the Holy Spirit. God paid a high price for each of us and He is not going to waste our time. He will send us when He knows we are ready to go, not when we think we are. So until He calls and/or sends, we should just stay where we are doing what we are doing and rest in the knowledge that our salvation and calling were not by accident or coincidence, but for a higher purpose.

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.—Ephesians 2:10 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“The Important Thing Is…”

17 Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches. 18 For instance, a man who was circumcised before he became a believer should not try to reverse it. And the man who was uncircumcised when he became a believer should not be circumcised now. 19 For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments.—1 Cor. 7:17-19 NLT​

When we are called by the Holy Spirit and we accept Jesus as our Savior, there most likely won’t be any great or significant changes in our appearance or our vocations. There probably won’t be any changes in the personality that God gave us when we were born. God is not too concerned with our outward appearance. Our outward appearance and situation have absolutely nothing to do with our salvation. What God does expect is a change of the heart. If we have truly accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord, our desires will change. We will want to follow God’s commandments simply because we love Him too much not to do so. He takes out the old stony heart and replaces it with a heart that desires His presence.

26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.—Ezekiel 36:26-27 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“You Should Come Together Again”

Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. – 1 Cor. 7:5b NLT

1 Cor. 7:1-7 NLT

Since we don’t know the exact questions that the Corinthians had asked Paul, it makes it harder to understand his answer. There are two things we can know from the history of the church at that date. One thing is that some of the Corinthians had taken Paul’s teaching on sexual immorality to the extremes. Husbands and wives were using the teachings to completely deny each other. Some were even using it as an excuse to divorce unbelieving mates. The second thing is that about this time in history, Stoics were teaching complete celibacy for everyone. But, either way, Paul says that because this was causing a great deal of sexual immorality, it was better for a couple to stay married and fulfill their conjugal duties to each other rather than commit sin by having sex outside of marriage. Inside the marriage, each spouse should always consider the needs and desires of the other spouse to be more important than their own desires. Everything concerning the sexual relations of a married couple should be by common consent with no pressures or demands made by either. It’s not about the husband nor the wife, it’s about the couple being obedient to God.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

” A High Price”

20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. – 1 Cor. 6:20 NLT

1 Cor. 6:14-20 NLT

​By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was physically raised from the grave. Because of that, we can know that one day, He will raise all those who have trusted in Him.  We are members of the body of Christ and have been instructed to keep the Temple holy. Nothing sinful will be allowed to pollute the body of Christ. God the Holy Spirit abides in us now and one day we will be completely one in Spirit with Jesus Christ. We have been purchased and washed by the blood of Jesus Christ. If we want to honor Jesus, we must keep ourselves from the very appearance of sin. Our love for Him should cause us to want to keep our bodies pure,without spot or blemish.

26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.—Eph. 5:26-27 NIV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“But Not Everything is Beneficial”

12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. —1 Cor. 6:12-13 NIV

When we accepted Jesus as our Savior, we were set free from the bondage of sin. We no longer were bound to satan and the flesh. Just as our physical freedom has limits, so does our Spiritual freedom have limits.  The physical limits are set by the laws of the land.  Our Spiritual limits are set because of our love for our Lord and Savior. Free to do anything?  Yes, but would doing just anything the flesh wanted glorify our Lord? No, of course not.  The flesh is weak and if we give into fleshly desires, they will become our master. We are free to choose who we serve. We can serve Jesus and live or we can serve the flesh and die. We are free to give into temptations, but that doesn’t mean that we should. There are dire consequences to choosing a sinful lifestyle.

14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.–James 1:15 NASB

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“You Were Once Like That”

11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Cor. 6:11 NLT

 1 Cor. 6:7-11 NLT

If we are unable to forgive our brothers and sisters for these things, we are no further along than we were when we were living a sinful lifestyle. What, then, shall we say to those who have not yet accepted Christ? If we continue in our old lifestyle, we might want to question whether we actually repented of our sins or just had an emotional experience at the altar? True repentance does not leave the heart and mind empty, it fills us with the Holy Spirit so that satan cannot come back and take up residence in our lives. Oh, he will send one of his demons to check up on us, but it is up to us to make sure he doesn’t get a room and stay. That is what we used to be and do. But now, we are forgiven and washed in the blood. We have been cleansed “just as if” we had never sinned and we are being sanctified daily.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it​.–1 Thess. 5:23-24 NIV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous