3 Days of Prayer and Fasting (2018/04)

1 Corinthians 10:1-11:1 (ESV)

1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Day 1: Loving God

Read: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
In verses 1-5, Paul connects the crossing of the Red Sea to Christian Baptism, and the eating of manna and water from the rock in the wilderness to Christian Communion, then adds, “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” In spite of God’s deliverance, Israelites were overthrown in the wilderness because they did to persevere in faith but committed idolatry. Paul makes these connections in order to warn the church against false assurance of salvation and urge them to persevere in their exclusive allegiance to God.
Using the story of the Israelites, Paul singles out “sexual immorality,” “testing Christ,” and “grumbling” as examples of infidelity and idolatry. In all three of those sins, we turn to something other than God for fulfillment and satisfaction. When was the last time you grumbled against God or tested God by setting your heart on things other than God? What were you idolizing when that happened? (e.g. comfort, control, efficiency, peace and quiet, rest and relaxation, self, etc.)
Nevertheless, there is hope for us. Paul adds in verse 13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Interestingly, the way of “escape” that God provides for us is the ability to “endure.” God does not necessarily keep us from trial, but he will bring us through them. Satan often deceives us with lies such as, “your temptations are unique, you should keep it hidden, no one will understand what you’re going through” and “this temptation is too strong, it’s futile to resist.” But God’s Word exposes these lies and teaches us that while all temptations are common, no temptation is irresistible.
  • Renounce your idols and pray that God would give you an undivided heart (Ps. 86:11).
  • Pray that God would fortify you against recurring temptations and besetting sins. Pray that God would help you to raise the shield of faith to deflect the lies of the devil and persevere in faith.

Day 2: Loving One Another

Read: 1 Corinthians 10:14-22
Paul repeats the words “participation (vv. 16, 18, 20) and “partake” (vv. 17, 21) to drive home the point that we have union and communion with Christ and the body of Christ (i.e. the church). As believers, we share “one bread,” the body of Christ broken for us. For this reason, “we who are many are one body.” We are not in the church for ourselves; we are in it together. Do you think of yourself as being in vital union with Christ and the Church? How would living in light of this reality transform your attitudes, affections, and actions throughout the day?
  • Pray that the spiritual unity we have in Christ would increasingly become a relational reality in our church.
  • Pray that our common commitment to Christ would help us transcend our racial and socioeconomic differences and form a loving, interdependent community.

Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors

Read: 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1
Scripture calls us to do more than what is merely “lawful”—to do what is “helpful” to others and “builds up” others. It calls us to seek more than our “own good”—to seek the “good of [our] neighbors.” In what ways are you tempted to settle for what is “lawful” rather than doing what is “helpful” and “edifying”? In what specific ways can you seek the good of your neighbor, rather than your own good? Do you know who your neighbors are? Have you been invited to their house for dinner? Think about how you can better befriend your neighbors.
In verses 25-30, Paul further instructs us to guard even an unbelieving neighbor’s conscience. Is there anything that you’re doing now that might offend your unbelieving neighbor’s conscience? How can you remove that “stumbling block” so that your neighbor can more readily come to faith in Christ? Paul says that he tries to please “everyone” in “everything,” “not seeking [his] own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” (v. 33). Are you living with this overriding concern that “they may be saved”? This is what Christ did for us (11:1). As Romans 15:1-3 says, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.’”
  • Repent of the ways in which you are more concerned with your advantage rather than the salvation of others.
  • Pray that we would become more deeply aware of Christ’s self-giving, other-pleasing love, so that we might extend the same love to our neighbors.
  • Pray for specific neighbors, for opportunities to befriend and serve them, and for boldness to share the gospel with them.
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