GETTING THE MOST FROM GOD'S WORD:

"Do NOT labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting LIFE..." - The Gospel of John 6:27 (NKJV)
A systematic and daily reading of the Word of God is important in maintaining a strong Christian life. Establish a daily quiet time with God and His Word. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you understand what you read. By following our daily Bible reading schedule through this blog, you will be able to read the Bible through in a year. Please note that you may utilize the ‘BIBLE READER’ app that is installed at the bottom of this webpage to assist you in reading the specified scripture portion for today.

To get the MOST from God's Word, please do the following intentionally:
1. REQUEST God to connect with you as you read the word of God with FOCUS and OPENNESS to see what God wants to speak with you.
2. READ the selected sections of Scripture slowly as you mark the words and phrases that intrigue you, even reading them the second time to get a better understanding.
3. REFLECT on what God is communicating to you; stopping long enough to let the seed of God's Word take root in your heart.
4. RESPOND to the passage speaking directly to God about what is in your heart, and then look out for ways to live out what you find - individually, and to others within your church and elsewhere.

As you read and meditate, ask yourself the following three questions:
a) What is God speaking to me through this passage?
b) Is there a command, a promise or a warning for me?
c) Is there an example for me to follow?

Please POST your comments below if there is a thought or message that the Lord has spoken to you through the passage that you are reading and meditating today. Please make sure that your post is aligned to the scripture passage mentioned at the header. All comments should pertain to the relevant scripture portions only, and should be aimed to glorify God (the true author of 'The Bible') & edify everyone who visits this blog site daily - both young and old. May God bless you abundantly for encouraging others through your comments!

Let's PRAY...
LORD, give me the desire to take a little time out of my busy schedule today as I read and meditate on Your Word. Give me this day MY DAILY BREAD. Speak to me clearly & lead me today as my Good Shepherd. Help me to be a blessing to others who interact with me as I attempt to be a living witness of Your Word today. In Your Name I pray, AMEN.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Are we ‘MISUSING’ our LIBERTY in CHRIST?

Are we ‘MISUSING’ our LIBERTY in CHRIST?

November 22 Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians Chapters 7-9

“But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak…But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” (1 Cor. 8: 8-9, 12-13)

One of the greatest blessings that we enjoy as God’s children is the freedom that Christ provides us through Him. We are no longer enslaved in the shackles and bondages of sin and death. When we know Christ personally, we know the truth (John 14:6); and this knowledge provides us freedom: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). However, even though we are free to walk in the liberty through Christ, we have to be very careful that we should never misuse the liberty that we have received. This is the concern that Apostle Paul had when he wrote this epistle to the believers at Corinth.

In the first-century Corinthian church, eating the meat that was sacrificed to idols proved to be a hotly debated issue (v. 1). Since this matter was not clear cut and had not been explicitly stated in the scriptures, Paul offered a different perspective in this matter by appealing to our conscience. Paul argued that food and drink do not determine our relationship to God (v. 8). Since there is no such thing as an idol, the meat offered to idols was inconsequential (vv. 4–6). Furthermore, even our Lord Jesus had stated that the food that goes inside does not defile us: "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man" (Matt. 15:11). From that point of view, Christian believers should be able to eat and enjoy whatever food they want!

However, questionable practices may affect our outer relationships with fellow believers or unbelievers (v. 9). We sin against God and our brother (or, sister) in Christ when we put a stumbling block before him or her. This is the very opposite of what Jesus has called us to do (see Matt. 22:37–39). As members of the family of God, we should not put stumbling blocks but rather be loving neighbors. Our Christian faith has a public responsibility as well. Even through our freedom through Christ frees us to do what we please, but God’s love requires us to ask questions of conscience about our choices. This may include everything from what we eat, to where we live, with whom we work with, what we do with our money and time—almost everything that we do outside affecting others (vv. 10–13). We need utmost discretion to determine how our choices affect those around us. It’s not enough to follow Christ just in our hearts; we also need to follow Him in our consciences and lead by example!

In other words, Paul exhorted the strong believers to show love to the weaker ones by refraining from offending them. In the same lines this is what S. L. Johnson writes: “In the first place the passage does not refer to legalists desirous of imposing their narrow-minded scruples on others. Such are not weak brethren, but willful brethren desirous of glorying in the subjection of others to their tenets. This is tyranny, and Christianity must always be on guard against this. In the second place, it should be noted in this verse that the decision to follow the path of love rests with Paul, not with the weak. The strong are to yield to love’s appeal voluntarily, not because the weak demand it, legalists always demand subjection to their laws.”

Overall, Apostle Paul provides us with a general guideline for our ethical decision making and provides us with three questions to ask ourselves: (a) Will our action cause another brother/sister to stumble (v. 13)? (b) Will our action edify us personally (10:23)? (c) Will our action glorify God (10:31)? We can use the help of these three questions to make an informed decision supplemented by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Let us understand that sin against a brother or sister is a sin against Christ (v. 12). Christian liberty must always be exercised in love with a view to strengthening others (see 10:28-30). We should be very careful to examine all our actions in the light of their effect on others, and to refrain from doing anything that would cause a brother or sister to be offended.

There are many things today in the Christian life, which, while not forbidden in the word of God, would yet cause needless offense to weaker Christians. While we might have the right to participate in them, a greater right is to forego that right for the spiritual welfare of those we love in Christ, our fellow-believers. Let us adhere to the basic principle of love: seek the good of others above one’s own (10:24, 33; 13:5; Phil. 2:4). Today, let us examine ourselves to determine if we are misusing our liberty in Christ!

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage…For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Gal. 5:1, 13)

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