It must be a terrible thing to have amnesia – not being able to remember (among other things) your name or your family! It is a terrible thing to have ‘gospel amnesia’, that is, to belong to a church, but not be able to remember how the gospel of Jesus affects your whole life – especially how you treat your fellow believers! But in 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, this was what was happening at Corinth. They were taking each other- their own brothers and sisters in Christ – to court, rather than deal with each other in love. Was Paul angry? You bet he was, but he also gave these forgetful Christians (and us) some great truths to remember!
It’s hard to be a parent when the time comes to discipline your children. You need wisdom, persistence and a strong love, knowing that discipline, (though painful at the time) when applied in the right measure will produce the desired outcome. As far as we know, the Apostle Paul wasn’t a parent, but he knew a thing or two about parenting believers in fledgling churches, and sad to say, the believers at Corinth were desperately in need of a good dose of it. In 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, we see how Paul did just that and how he did it for the health and growth of the people at Corinth he loved.
So far in his letter to these Corinthian believers, the Apostle Paul has had to tackle many things head on. The church was clearly divided with a party spirit and wrongly paid too much emphasis to the flashy skills of gospel preachers at the expense of the gospel itself. But at the root of all this was the sin of pride. In 1 Corinthians 4:6-21, Paul seeks to expose this lack of humility for what it is – as something that would continue to cause the church to unravel and something that needed to be urgently dealt with. There is no antidote for pride like the cross. It’s only when we come back to the cross that pride gets put back into place.
After the Apostle Paul took time to dismantle the false edifice that the Corinthians were putting in place around gospel preachers in 1 Corinthians 3, in the next few verses of the 4th chapter, (1 Corinthians 4:1-5), the Apostle took time to correct their perspective. Gospel preachers aren’t everything. In fact, they are just servants and stewards, lowly ranked while the One they serve – well that’s a different story! The Lord Jesus is everything! The Corinthians ought not confuse the gospel preachers with the gospel message. One comes and goes. The other is eternal!
No church is perfect. The work of sanctification of God’s people is an ongoing process. Every church falls short of the ideal of ‘what we should be’ in Christ. However, not all churches, like the one in Corinth, had the benefit of having the Apostle Paul tell them where they were going wrong. Paul does this a few times in his first letter to them and in this section of the letter, 1 Corinthians 3:18-23, Paul makes it clear of some of the dangers they were facing – dangers that any church could face and also, must deal with.
The Church in Corinth was in a bit of a mess. It was out of balance. Too much emphasis on one thing at the expense of another. Sometime churches can get like that. Out of balance. In these verses, 1 Corinthians 3:5-17, the Apostle Paul seeks to correct that balance and get the Corinthians back on the right track of serving and following their Saviour.
The onset of Elijah’s spiritual depression in 1 Kings 19:1-18 is well documented. From being on a spiritual high on Mt Carmel, Elijah very quickly was running for his life and yet praying that he might die. There were many kinds of factors involved in this, not the least being his sense of failure and being alone ‘the only one left’. On Mt Horeb (Sinai), Elijah met with God, but not in the way God appeared on Mt Carmel. This was different and this was designed to woo Elijah back into the Lord’s way and the knowledge of His presence, so that Elijah might continue to serve Him.
After the showdown on the top of Mt Carmel, the text of 1 Kings 18:41-46, tells us of Elijah’s prayers that broke the drought. Given that the drought had begun through the prayers of Elijah 3 years earlier, it is a helpful things for us to read of Elijah at prayer – even though we are not told what he prayed. The picture of Elijah at prayer stands in great contrast in this text to King Ahab who didn’t pray but ate. Compare the pair. Elijah and Ahab. But don’t stop at Elijah. See another – Jesus – whose prayers did more than end God’s judgement via the drought, but guaranteed the salvation of the people of God!
In 1 Kings 18:20-40, the rubber really ‘hits the road’. All that Elijah has been through in chapter 17 and all his interactions with King Ahab have been leading up to the showdown that these verses describe – fittingly, upon the top of a mountain (Carmel). Lots of important events happen on mountain tops in the Scriptures and this event is no less important in pointing us to the ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).
After the miracle of raising the widow of Zarephath’s son from death, Elijah was instructed by the Lord to go back and present himself to King Ahab. As the events unfold, the story then introduces us to one of Ahab’s servants, Obadiah, who turns out to be a faithful servant of the Lord also. In these verses of 1 Kings 18:1-19 which are just before the showdown on the top of Mount Carmel began, the story revolves around these three characters, Elijah, Ahab and Obadiah, and something that we from each of them about the state of their hearts… and ours too.