September 24 – Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians
This letter of Paul is rather unusual in that the “thanksgiving” portion of the introduction is unusually long. The typical order is followed (author, addressees, greeting (1:1), the thanksgiving (1:2 – 3:10), and then the prayer for them. What does Paul all pack into this long thanksgiving? What is the gist of it? In chapters four and five, he urges them to live a life of holiness and brotherly love (4:1-12). What concern does Paul answer in 4:12-18? and in 5:1-11? How is this encouragement appropriate for us today? The letter ends with a variety of exhortations which should occupy us all!
September 25 – Paul’s Second Letter to the Thessalonians
The thanksgiving in the second letter picks up a note that was sounded in the first letter–that of the affliction and persecution they were experiencing (I Th. 1:6, 2:14). How does Paul encourage them in 2:13-17? Note how he focuses them on God’s action for them in this section (2:1-17). How do they know that the “day of the Lord” has not yet arrived? In 2 Thess. 3, how does Paul confront the Thessalonians’ laziness? Why should Christians “not be weary in doing good”?
September 26 – Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians
As we turn to Paul’s Corinthian correspondence, we will discover a variety of issues that sound very contemporary. The first issue is “division in the church.” As you read this first unit, try to put your finger on the cause of the disunity. Then, secondly, how does Paul strive to promote the unity of the church?
September 27 – I Corinthians 5:1 – 7:40
As Paul confronts the case of incest in the Corinthian congregation (I Cor. 5:1-13), what action is he advocating the church should take? The second unit (6:1-12) deals with lawsuits between Christians in the same congregation. What is especially shameful about a Christian taking a fellow Christian to court? How will such practice harm the church’s witness? In the third unit, what reason does Paul promote against sexual immorality? How can his presentation help us persuade our young adults and older ones too to resist the temptation to be promiscuous? In chapter 7, we have some truly enlightened advice for marriage–(a)let mutuality be practiced between husband and wife; (b) don’t think abstaining from sexual relations with your spouse is better than having them, because the sexual drive is a powerful reality; and (c) don’t divorce your unbelieving spouse, for you may be able to reach him/her with the Gospel. We are called to live out our faith in the life where God has called us. Let eternity cast its light on our lives.
September 28 – I Corinthians 8:1 – 11:1
This section deals with a second topic the Corinthians wrote to Paul about (8:1) –about food offered to idols. It’s not a simple matter, even though idols are nothing. What happens to the weak Christian who has just been converted to the Christian faith and believes eating meal offer to idols would compromise his faith? Paul provides guidance to help us understand that Christian freedom is not doing whatever you please, but acting out of concern for the brother or sister for whom Christ died. Christian freedom is not insisting on our rights–although that is sometimes necessary–but thinking “how can I serve the sister or brother for Christ’s sake?” Think, “we are one in Him, and I do not want to fracture that unity. I want to preserve it and give glory to God.”
September 29 – I Corinthians 11:2 – 14:40
As you read 11:2-16, bear in mind that Paul is concerned for what is appropriate in worship and wants his readers to recognize the difference between the sexes, even though both are created in the image of God and are thus interdependent, though not interchangeable. They both need to recognize the authority God has built into His creation. In 11:17-34, what is the problem that prevents Paul from commending their observance of the Lord’s Supper? Note how Paul quotes Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s supper to provide the basis for correcting the abuse. What can help us prevent the negative consequences of taking the Lord’s supper unworthily (vv. 27-32)? Chapters 12-14 also deal with another problem that developed in the Corinthian gathering. What has happened in their use of the spiritual gifts God has given them? What wisdom does Paul provide to help them exercise their gifts for everyone’s benefit?
September 30 – I Corinthians 15:1 – 16:24
The great “resurrection chapter” (15) helps us realize that Christ’s resurrec-tion is a fact–it has been documented; it is the basis for our resurrection, and the forgiveness of sins, assuring us that our faith is not futile. It calls us to live a life of morality now, because the future is secure. Our resurrected bodies will be far superior to what we have now. Let that hope inspire a life which abounds in the work of the Lord. The opening paragraph of the last chapter provides helpful guidance for our gifts, connecting them with the “Lord’s day”; with each of us contributing something, “as he may prosper.” The letter concludes with Paul’s travel plans and greetings.