3 Days of Prayer and Fasting (2018/03)

1 Corinthians 8:1-12; 9:16-27 (ESV)

1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. …
9:16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. 18What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Day 1: Loving God

Read: 1 Corinthians 8:1-6
“This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up” (v. 1). The knowledge that the Corinthians boasted of was not true knowledge, because it was not grounded in love. “If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God” (vv. 2-3). Those who presume to know are, in fact, ignorant, and those who love God are known by God. This is because God’s knowledge of us precedes and enables our knowledge of Him. Are you more concerned with growing your knowledge about God than with being known by God and belonging to Him? Is your knowledge of God true knowledge that leads you to deeper humility and love? Have you ever used your superior theological knowledge as the basis for looking down on others? Do you ever engage in one-up-manship in your conversations? If your knowledge of God doesn’t make you more like God, then you do not know God rightly.
“There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (v. 6). The Father is both the origin and the destination of all creation. Paul goes from “all things” to “we” in order to emphasize that not merely all creation, but we personally exist for him. God the Father is our source and purpose. We were created by Him and for Him. Likewise, the Son is the medium or the road to and from the Father. And, this, too, is personal. Not only are “all things” through Him, it says “we exist” “through [Him].” If you want to get to know God and be known by God, if you want peace with God, if you want to be saved, if you want eternal life, the only way is through the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you live everyday with an awareness of these profound truths?
  • Repent of self-inflating pride, and pray that you would be increasingly characterized by self-effacing love.
  • Pray for unwavering faith and total submission to God from, through, and for, whom we exist.

Day 2: Loving One Another

Read: 1 Corinthians 8:7-12
Even if we have the right to eat food sacrificed to idols, it does not follow that we should exercise our right to do so, because our actions affect others and we need to be considerate toward them. Our right must not become a stumbling block to others. The free exercise of our conscience must not lead those have weaker consciences into sin, especially when they are “brother[s and sisters] for whom Christ died” (v. 11). If we’re not fully convinced that what we’re doing is lawful, and we do it nevertheless, then our action does not proceed from faith and it is therefore sinful (Rom. 14:20-23). And even if we are fully convinced that what we’re doing is lawful, if it is not helpful for building up our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we do it anyway, then our action does not spring from love and it is therefore sinful (1 Cor. 8:9-13).
  • Pray for deeper love for one another, so that we gladly sacrifice our rights for each other’s sake.
  • Pray that our church would truly be a local family of God. Pray for deeper relationships and stronger friendships, especially for the newer members of our church.
  • Pray that we would guard one another’s conscience and bear with those who have weaker consciences in love.

Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors

Read: 1 Corinthians 9:16-26
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them” (v. 19). Even though he is “free from all,” Paul “[subjected himself] to all” in order that he might save them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Earlier in 9:12 Paul similarly said, “we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” A more literal translation would be, “we endure everything rather than put any obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” He also says in 9:22, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” Do you make all the sacrifice necessary in order that you may not hinder even one person from coming to Christ in any way?
  • Pray that each of us would be completely committed to the advance of the gospel in the way we live.
  • Pray for deeper love for our neighbors so that we might be bolder witnesses for the gospel.
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