Godly Giving ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 11-23-14

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

godly givingThese are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 47 ~ Nov. 16-22
Acts 1-14, James

Godly Giving

As Acts opens, we see the church in its infancy, experiencing the romance of its newness, but beginning to transition into maturity. Jesus reiterated His mission statement for the church -the Great Commission- in Acts 1:8. The church is to be about the business of making (missions/evangelism) and training (discipleship) disciples. Sunday school is one of the places where discipleship (training in God’s word, holy living, and the life of the church) takes place. Last week we trained on one practice of church life: the Lord’s Supper. This week, we will train on another practice of church life: giving and offerings.

As I said, the church was in its infancy, and you know infants– sometimes they get things wrong and sometimes they get things right. Today we’re going to look at one example of how they got giving right and one example of how they got giving wrong.

 

Acts 4:32-37

 

Taking Care of Our Own

Already bound together by their love for Christ, the ever present threat of persecution (Peter and John had recently been arrested) served only to draw Christians closer together, and to make sure they looked out for one anothers’ needs. There was no government safety net, and even in Jesus’ day (John 9:22), people were being expelled from the synagogue for identifying with Him, so the Jews could not be counted on to help needy Christians either. The church recognized that they were responsible for taking care of their own, and this is still part of the mission of the church today. Can you think of some specific examples of how our church has stepped up and taken care of its own?

Holding Stuff Loosely

Verse 32 says church members held that none “of the thngs that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” We need to understand that this is not talking about socialism or living together in a commune and sharing everything (otherwise, no one would have owned houses or lands as verse 34 mentions). It means that church members loved their fellow Christians so far above material things that it was nothing to them to sell their possessions if it meant helping a brother or sister. They did not have the American mentality of acquiring more and more stuff to hang on to, or measuring their worth or success by their bank accounts. 

It’s All God’s Anyway (Psalm 50:10-12; 24:1)

The early church had an understanding and a reverence for God’s sovereign ownership of every molecule of the universe that we would do well to cling to. To these first century Christians, saying that nothing that belonged to them was truly their own was a recognition that everything belonged to God– their houses, their lands, the cattle on a thousand hills, the earth and the fulness thereof (Ps.). To them, money was simply a tool they could use to minister to others– a tool owned by God that God Himself was entrusting to them to use for His glory. We are also to hold our money and possessions with the question always in our mind, “How can I use this to glorify God and further His kingdom by ministering to others?”

We Joyfully Give All Because Christ Joyfully Gave All (2 Corinthians 9:7, 1 Corinthians 1:22-24)

Verse 33 almost seems to be stuck into this paragraph at random. After all, the other five verses are about giving, and 33 is about preaching. But it’s a very important verse. Notice what the apostles were preaching: the gospel. The church heard about the Savior who gave everything, His comfort, His security, even His very life- everything -for them. And what was the response? Out of love for Jesus, gratitude for all He had done for them, and a desire to follow in His footsteps, they joyfully gave to others. 

These folks are the “cheerful givers” Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians. We are not to give under compulsion: not the compulsion of the Old Testament Law, since Jesus fulfilled it and we are no longer bound by the tithe, not the compulsion of guilt that we’re not giving enough or trying hard enough, not the compulsion of fear that God will zap us if we don’t give enough, and not the compulsion of peer pressure, desiring to look good to others. God wants our giving to be motivated by our love, joy, and thankfulness to Him. And when churches preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor.) as the Jerusalem church did, they produce grateful, joyful saints who desire to give everything back to Christ.

Trusting and Submitting to Trustworthy Pastors (Hebrews 13:17)

Twice (35 & 37), this passage says that when the church gave money, they brought it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. This tells us two things about the Jerusalem church: 1.) The apostles (their pastors) lived their lives, made decisions, and taught God’s word in a way that earned the church’s trust, which all pastors should strive to do. It helped that there were twelve of them to keep each other accountable. 2.) The church trusted their pastors and submitted to their leadership. They did not feel they had to take control over the pastors or their decisions about distributing the money. They trusted their pastors’ judgment and leadership. Hebrews 13:17 says:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

As long as our pastors are trustworthy and not violating Scripture or scriptural principles, we are to submit to their leadership.

 

Acts 5:1-11

 

Motive Matters (Matthew 6:3-4)

Why did God kill Ananias and Sapphira?

a) They didn’t give a big enough offering.

b) They didn’t give all the money from the sale of their land.

c) They lied about how much of the money from the sale of their land they were giving.

 The answer, of course, is “c”. This wasn’t about their offering. This was about lying to make themselves look like hotshots to other church members. Remember, we just discussed 2 Corinthians 9:7, which makes clear that God doesn’t want us to give under the compulsion of fear that He will zap us for not giving enough or the compulsion of peer pressure– trying to look good to others. This was God’s judgment on their prideful desire to be esteemed by others as big givers instead of being humble and not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing (Matt.).

As Peter pointed out (4), they didn’t have to sell the land at all, and when they did sell it, it was up to them to determine how much of the money they would give to the church (back to 2 Cor. 9:7- “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart”). All they had to do was be honest about it. First Samuel 15:22 says:

And Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.

When it comes to giving, God cares far more about the attitude of our heart than the amount of our check.

Users are Losers

Not only were Ananias’ and Sapphira’s motives for giving wrong, but they used a ministry of the church (the offering) and the people of the church to get what they wanted: admiration and accolades. We don’t use the church to get an ego boost or build our reputation in society. God’s church, His ministries, and His people are not entities at our disposal for us to use to gratify our selfish desires. They are holy and precious to Him, and we are to treat them as such.

 

Giving is an act of worship, submission to God’s sovereign ownership of everything, and a ministry to others. It is an important way that all church members can take part in the life of the church. God wants our hearts to be so completely His that it is a joy to give back to Him as much as we possibly can.

Irritability: 7 Ways to Fight the Red-Eyed Monster

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

irritability

If jealousy is the “green-eyed monster,” then, surely, irritibility is the “red-eyed monster.” Confession time: irritibility is a sin I struggle against on a daily basis. And all too often, that red-eyed monster wins, and I lose, giving in to temptation once again. I snap at my children or my husband or the dog, not because I’m seeking to build them up in Christ, or admonish them toward godliness (and lemme tell you, the dog desperately needs this admonition), but because I’m annoyed, my agenda is being thwarted, somebody rubbed me the wrong way. Hmmm…seems like there’s a common thread there.

Me. I’m not getting things my way.

And when I put myself first by venting my frustration and anger on others insted of putting my own feelings aside in order to serve them, I am dishonoring and disobeying my Master who put everything aside to redeem me. Me. A selfish, rebellious sinner who didn’t deserve His grace. And I am not being a picture of the gospel to the person I’m being short with.

I am so deeply grateful that when I confess my sin, Christ is faithful and just to forgive me for that sin and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). If it weren’t for His grace and mercy, well, I don’t even want to think about what would become of me. But I love my Jesus, and while I’m grateful for His forgiveness, what I’d really rather do is honor Him by not sinning in the first place.

Did you know there are some proactive steps you can take to wage an offensive attack on irritibility? Here are seven weapons for your aresenal. As Mr. Mandelbaum would say, “It’s go time.”

 

1. Start the day off with Bible study and prayer.

I’m not just saying that because this is a Christian article and I have to make sure I stick that in somewhere. I’m saying that for two reasons.

First, Jesus tells us to, and that’s the most important reason. In John 15:4-5, Jesus says:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Daily study of the Bible and prayer are the primary ways we abide in Christ. It nourishes and shapes our spirits and forms us into His likeness. Prayer is also the place where we can ask forgiveness for our sin and for the Holy Spirit to strengthen us for the next round of temptation.

Second, my experience bears this “abiding” thing out (and I’ll bet yours does too). When I neglect prayer and Bible study, I am far less likely to respond to irritation in a godly way. When my spiritual tank is full, however, it is much easier to be aware of, and obey, when the Spirit prompts me to keep my mouth shut, or take a deep breath and wait a minute before responding to someone.

Want to be a branch that bears good fruit? You’ve got to abide in the Vine.

2. Remind yourself where irritation comes from.

As I mentioned above, it comes from selfishness. Completely inappropriate for a Christian. While the world tells us that every feeling we have must be expressed, Jesus tells us we are to deny ourselves, not indulge our sinful flesh and vomit our emotions all over any hapless soul who stumbles across our paths.

3. Preach the gospel to yourself, and mirror Christ.

The heart of the gospel is Romans 5:8:

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Think about all the sins you’ve committed over the course of your life. Think God might have just a skosh of a reason to be irritated with you? Yep. But instead of pouring out His anger on you each time you transgressed, what did He do? He sent His precious Son to die for you. He loved. He gave.

Now, usually, when somebody irritates me, it’s not even because he’s sinning. What excuse do I have for pouring my anger out on others instead of remembering the grace God extended to me and extending that same grace to them?

4. Memorize Scripture.

Funny thing about memorizing Scripture– you get it imbedded in your brain, and the Holy Spirit causes it to pop back up right when you need it. Some verses I would suggest:

Matthew 16:24- Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Galatians 5:22-23- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5- Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

Ephesians 4:32- Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Proverbs 31:26- She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

5. Let’s get physical.

Let’s face it, when our bodies are out of whack, it’s harder to control our emotions.

  • Making sure you get enough sleep should be a no-brainer. We’re all more irritable when we’re tired.
  • Eating a nutritious diet is important, but so is eating at regular times and not skipping meals. Who’s happy with anybody when she’s starving? Also, get the right amount of caffeine for your body. Too much can make you irritable, but so can too little, depending on what you’re used to.
  • Exercising regularly is a great way to prevent irritability, but it’s also a great way to work out all those frustrations in a healthy way. Ready to let loose on somebody? Lace up the running shoes and take it out on the pavement instead.
  • Go to the bathroom. That’s right, I said it. When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go, and not just for your own sake. You can’t focus on being kind to people who are annoying you when the call of nature is demanding to be answered.
  • And, to get even more personal, ladies, chart your periods so you’ll know when PMS will be rearing its ugly head. Then, do what you can, whether it’s taking medication, eliminating things from your schedule to reduce stress, or locking yourself in your room for a few days, to curb your propensity to rip everybody’s face off.

6. Proactively manage your exposure to other humans.

Although I wouldn’t consider myself a genuine introvert, I definitely lean that direction. It’s not that I don’t love my husband, children, and others, but I’ve found that I need some time alone each day to maintain my emotional and spiritual health. In Scripture, we see that even Jesus had a similar need. Luke 5:15b-16 tells us:

…crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Also helpful is knowing who irritates you, in which situations, and why. If it’s someone you don’t have to see everyday, try to arrange your meetings with her for days when you’re rested up, hormonally balanced, and had a good long quiet time. And don’t forget to pray for patience before you meet with her.

7. Get help.

Know your warning signs of irritability and get your family and friends to help you. My husband knows when that time of the month rolls around and knows exactly how to kindly and patiently bring me back down to earth. He has also learned that it takes a couple of minutes of wakefulness for my self control to kick in. So he is quiet and doesn’t try to engage me in those moments of half consciousness when I’m just waking up.

I have also considered employing the “Muskrat Method” for my husband. If you’ve seen the movie Meet the Parents, you’ll remember that every time the dad was about to lose his temper, his wife would say, “Muskrat, Jack!” It was a code word that meant, “Hey, I see you’re about to go berserk. Let’s rein it in while there’s still a chance to opt for sanity.”

 

Irritability isn’t becoming of a Christian. Whereas patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control are fruits of the Spirit, irritability is a fruit of the flesh. What are some of the ways you fight irritability?

Throwback Thursday ~ Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

Tags

, , , , ,

 Originally published November 26, 2008

grateful

O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;

For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

I Chronicles 16:34

 

Thanksgiving is upon us. It’s my favorite holiday. I get “time off” from my job (although as a stay at home mom, my “time off” looks a lot like my “time on”!); I get to go visit family; there’s no mad rush of gift shopping; and, the whole holiday is centered around eating. What could be better?

There’s only one thing I don’t look forward to about the holiday I love best. I’m not happy with the way Christmas has begun to overshadow Thanksgiving. The radio stations started playing Christmas carols before Halloween. The stores put out Christmas decorations earlier and earlier every year. The commercials for Christmas gifts and sales have been prolific since October. You almost get a sense that, aside from the good people at Butterball, retailers consider Thanksgiving to be in the way. They know that Thanksgiving is the “Gentlemen, start your engines!” rallying point for most shoppers, and without it, they could probably push Black Friday back to September and combine it with their Labor Day sales.

But more than my own personal annoyance and my desire to gather up all the retail CEOs and the media in one place and shout at them, “Nobody puts Thanksgiving in a corner!” I’m concerned for all of us as a national community. With everything that’s going on in our country and the world right now, do we really need to skip over being thankful?

We Americans are so blessed we’ve become numb and ungrateful. What a slap in the face to people all over the world for whom simply surviving another day is an almost insurmountable task. How often do we have to worry about having water to drink that’s clean enough not to make us sick? How many of us are starving to death because we have no access to food? How often do we have warring factions marching through our front yards? When was the last time we secretly huddled together to worship, afraid that at any moment we could be arrested, tortured, killed?

In the mad rush of all that is going on in our day to day lives, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to slow down and give Thanksgiving its due.

Thank you, Lord…
 …that I can see, hear, move, think clearly, and attend to my own needs.
 …that I live in a country that protects my freedoms.
 …for the family with which You’ve blessed me.
 …for the roof over my head.
 …for enough to eat.
 …for saving me.

Don’t skip Thanksgiving this year. Don’t push it over in a corner and treat it as though it’s an interruption of your Christmas plans. Relish it. Wallow in it. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

Wednesday’s Word ~ Psalm 51

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

10393699_869359193105016_765340291790562861_n

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers

7 Ways to Encourage Your Minister of Music ~ at Satisfaction Through Christ

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

MoM

Your minister of music needs your love and support. And, having been married to one for over twenty years, I can tell you there aren’t many articles out there letting you know how church members can encourage their ministers of music. Ready to show some love? Here are seven ways you can be an encouragement to your minister of music.

Ever thought about the need to support your minister of music? Head on over to Satisfaction Through Christ and check out my new article 7 Ways to Encourage Your Minister of Music.

What are some ways you can think of to show love and appreciation
for your Minister of Music?

 

Lesley’s Lagniappe ~ 11-18-14

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

picsart_14054313255013

feed-icon

 

My Five Favorite Podcasts- Here are Aaron’s Favorites. Mine are on your left. What are your favorite Christian podcasts to listen to?

 

Screen-Shot-2014-11-13-at-5.03.06-PM-e1415919878102

 

Jesus Calling: Whitewashing the Red Flags- Are you a fan of the book, Jesus Calling? You might want to rethink that. Here’s why.

 

 

homeslider_011-750x330Bless Friday- Not a fan of Black Friday? How about Bless Friday instead? Here are some great ideas for serving your neighbor on Black Friday. Whatever you do, DON’T leave out the gospel!

Bill-Clinton-Tweet

 

 

Bush and Clinton Engage in the Friendliest Internet Fight Ever- 41, 42, 43…

 

Is Jeremiah 29:11 a Promise for Us?- Umm, not so much.

Top-10-Unusual-Dessert-Bread-Recipes-3

 

Top 10 Unusual Dessert Bread Recipes- For your holiday baking. I have already tried the peanut butter banana bread with maple glaze. It was ok, but bland. Needs about twice as much peanut butter and twice as much banana. I’m looking forward to trying the blueberry vanilla bread next!

full_the-dawning-of-indestructible-joy

 

The Dawning of Indestructible Joy- Advent is coming up. Here’s a FREE download of daily readings from John Piper.

 

Missions Monday ~ 11-17-14

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

IMG_4194.2014-10-22_045042_kindlephoto-24903113

Missions Monday is designed to expose you to some awesome missions and evangelism stories, resources, and information in the shameless hope that you will be moved to get more involved in supporting and participating in missions and develop a greater burden for sharing the gospel with those around you.

forthemission1

Starving My Kids #ForTheMission- This week, my kids are going to skip a meal and give the money we would have spent to the IMB. Before you report me to CPS, let me explain.

 

 

49557Answered Prayer for IDOP: North Korea Frees Missionary Kenneth Bae After Two Years- “He still has a tremendous heart for the people of North Korea,” Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, told reporters outside her Seattle church, Quest Church. “He only has the best wishes and intentions for that country, still.”

10701932_10152778720141192_2113722918753313408_nfull_three-ways-evangelism-can-be-more-believable

Three Ways Evangelism Can Be More Believable- If our evangelism is increasingly unbelievable, what can we do to be more believable to an inoculated, indifferent, and at times, antagonistic society?

Screen-Shot-2014-11-11-at-2.58.04-PMThe Next Generation’s Call to Be Bold with the Gospel- Why is sharing the Gospel so daunting for many people? Perhaps if there were a way to make it easy to do exactly that, in any situation and with any people group, more of us would do that.

Allen & Abby Dill: Missionaries with TWR- Check out this precious young missionary family working with TransWorld Radio, and keep up with their latest happenings here.

download-7-e1415117438709Practical Ways to Refresh a Missionary on Furlough- Twenty suggestions for how Christians can refresh the hearts of cross-cultural missionaries who are back ‘home’ on furlough.

512b2fc0-9fa3-4ebf-97b0-a3eadcf2737b-Steve-Gentry-in-East-Asia

 

No Church Too Small for Global Missions, Pastor Says- Small churches can feel limited by their circumstances as to how much they can do or how far they can reach, Gentry said. But that doesn’t have to be the case, especially with Southern Baptist congregations, he noted.

The Last Supper~The Lord’s Supper ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 11-16-14

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Last Supper

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 46 ~ Nov. 9-15
Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, John 13-21
The Last Supper ~ The Lord’s Supper

Last week we took a look at the last act of Jesus’ public ministry, the woes to the Pharisees. Today, we’re studying the last act of His private ministry to His disciples–the Last Supper, and with it, the institution of the Lord’s Supper for the church.

Mark 14:12-16
It was time for the annual celebration of Passover. As you will recall, the Passover pointed to Christ and was fulfilled in Christ. As the Passover celebrated God’s people being released from the bondage of slavery to Egypt, the Lord’s Supper celebrates Jesus releasing the Christian from bondage to the slavery of sin. As the Passover lamb was slaughtered and the blood applied to the wooden doorposts so death would not come to that house, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was slaughtered and bled on a wooden cross, so that if His blood is applied over the doors of our hearts, we will not suffer eternal death.

That’s why, as Christians, we now observe the Lord’s Supper instead of the Passover. For us, the Passover has been fulfilled in Christ. But for the disciples, on that night, it had not yet been fulfilled. So they began by celebrating the last Passover and ended by observing the first Lord’s Supper. It was a bridge between the old covenant and the new.

Peter and John (they’re mentioned by name in Luke 22:8) went into town, found the man whose house they were to use, and began to prepare the Passover meal. From the notes on verse 12 in my MacArthur Study Bible*:

After the lamb was slaughtered and some of its blood sprinkled on the altar, the lamb was taken home, roasted whole, and eaten in the evening meal with unleavened bread, bitter herbs, charoseth (a paste made of crushed apples, dates, pomegranates, and nuts, into which they dipped bread), and wine.

Luke 22:14-20
The end of the Passover (14-18)
This passage begins with the last Passover. Jesus will not partake of the Passover again until Heaven, after His death, burial, and resurrection have fulfilled it. Here, Jesus brings the old (Law) covenant and Passover to a close. For the last time, the first of the four cups of Passover, the cup of thanksgiving, is passed around. It is an appropriate time for the disciples to look back and give thanks to God for His good Law, and His love, kindness, care, and patience with His covenant people. It is also a time to look forward and give thanks -although the disciples don’t yet understand it- for the sacrifice Christ is about to make to atone, not only for their sin, but for the sin of all those who will come to trust in Him.

A New Meal (19-20)
With the breaking and blessing of the bread, a new ordinance is born for the church, the Lord’s Supper. The bread represents Christ’s body. (It does not actually or materially become Christ’s literal flesh, and the wine does not become His literal blood, as the false teaching of transubstantiation posits. Christ’s words are a metaphor, the same as when He said, “I am the door,” or “I am the bread that comes down from Heaven.”) He breaks it, as his physical body will soon be broken. He breaks it for his disciples, as his physical body will be broken for all future disciples. He gives the broken bread to His disciples -they did not take it themselves or earn it- as Christ gives life to Christians without any work on our part to earn or merit it.

In verse 20, Jesus likewise gave His disciples what had been the third cup of Passover, the cup of blessing. And what a blessing it was! Christ’s blood, shed for the remission of our sins. It represented the new covenant of grace– trusting in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as payment for our sin for right standing with God, rather than looking ahead to Messiah with the keeping of ceremonial Law.

1 Corinthians 11:23-34
Flash forward a couple of decades from the upper room to the church at Corinth. This church had allowed sin to corrupt their observance of the Lord’s Supper so much that Paul said (20) could no longer rightfully be considered “the Lord’s” supper. In verses 23-34, he sets about to instruct them on the proper way to come to the Lord’s table. Because this is an instruction to the church, we also draw upon this passage to learn how we should conduct the Lord’s Supper today.

A few implicit things to understand
First Corinthians is a letter to the church at Corinth. The church consisted of baptized Believers. Paul was not instructing lost people on receiving the Lord’s Supper. Lost people partaking in the Lord’s Supper would not have made any sense (then or now) because it was the celebration of the new covenant between God and His new covenant people, Christians. Lost people are not part of that new covenant. Their participation in the Lord’s Supper is sort of like an unmarried man and woman hooking up and having sex versus a man and woman getting married and then celebrating and consumating their marriage covenant by having sex.

The Lord’s Supper is not a lucky charm or magic wand that takes care of spiritual problems. Partaking of the bread and wine (or juice) will not save anyone who is unsaved. It is also not some sort of spiritual “booster shot” that imparts righteousness, grace, forgiveness, or holiness to the person who partakes, nor does it somehow supernaturally protect a person from demons or life’s negative circumstances. Neither does it prove that a person who claims to be a Christian is actually saved. It is simply an outward celebration of salvation by those who have already been saved.

Because the Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, it is to be celebrated by the gathered body of the church (not at home {unless the church is meeting in a home} or somewhere else by individuals, families, groups of friends, etc.) and presided over by the pastor and elders or deacons of the church. Since it is not salvific and does not impart any kind of spiritual “good luck” there is no need to partake of it outside the meeting of the church body. It is a church celebration.

23-26- Paul sums up the gospels’ accounts of the institution of the Lord’s Supper by Jesus, relating that it commemorates Christ’s death for His people, and reminding us that it is a celebration of the new covenant of God with Believers through Jesus. He also says that when we, as a body of Believers, celebrate the Lord’s Supper, it is a picture of the gospel to the lost, so that they might come to know Christ as Savior.

27-32- We are not to underestimate the seriousness and solemnity of the Lord’s Supper. Once again, I think the notes on these verses in my study Bible* say it better than I could:

“In an unworthy manner” means ritualistically, indifferently, with an unrepentant heart, a spirit of bitterness, or any other ungodly attitude.

To come to the Lord’s Table clinging to one’s sin does not only dishonor the ceremony, but it also dishonors His body and blood, treating lightly the gracious sacrifice of Christ for us. It is necessary to set all sin before the Lord, then partake, so as not to mock the sacrifice for sin by holding on to it…

When believers do not properly judge the holiness of the celebration of Communion, they treat with indifference the Lord Himself- His life, suffering, and death…The offense was so serious that God put the worst offenders to death, an extreme but effective form of church purification. (Keep in mind, these are Believers, not lost people, we’re talking about, here.)

Believers are kept from being consigned to hell, not only by divine decree, but by divine intervention. The Lord chastens to drive His people back to righteous behavior and even sends death to some in the church to remove them before they could fall away.

The Lord’s Supper is a big deal. We are not to be flippant about it. Christians are to approach His table in reverence, awe, and gratitude for the extreme sacrifice God made through Christ to rescue us from hell. While it is not for unbelievers to participate in, it is a beautiful picture of the gospel to them, and a reminder to us -as individuals and the body of Christ- of just how much our sin and reconciliation to God cost Jesus. As often as we do it, let’s do it in remembrance of Him.

 

If you’d like to read more about the Lord’s Supper and the ins and outs of observing it in the church today, check out Joe Thorn’s excellent series of articles (they are brief and easy to understand), The Lord’s Supper:

For Sinners
Open or Closed?
Fencing the Table
A Means of Grace
Only in the Assembly
Sip It, Don’t Dip It
How Often?
Wine or Welch’s?

*Quotes taken from The MacArthur Study Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois, 2010.

E-BOOK SUPER SALE!!!

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Image

All e-versions of “Jacob” are on sale! Get a Kindle or Nook copy for just $1.99, or other e-version at CBD for just $1.59! (Click the hyperlinks here, or click on the “Books” tab above.)

You can give “Jacob” as a GIFT, too! At these prices, you can get one for all the women on your Christmas list!

And don’t forget your women’s Bible study group! You don’t have to have an e-reader or tablet. “Jacob” can be downloaded to your smart phone, computer, or tablet, too. This is a much less expensive way (especially for small churches on a limited budget) to do a women’s Bible study than ordering a $15 workbook for everybody. It’s a great time to start thinking about January Bible studies!

Order your copies today– this is a limited time offer!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 169 other followers