Category Archives: 07 – 1 Corinthians

Bad Company Corrupts Good Character


Daily Bible Reading – Psalm 149; 1 Corinthians 15, 16

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 15:1-34

 

We are all surrounded by unbelief.  We all have people in our lives that are unbelievers.  We might also have people in our lives who claim to be followers of Christ but then unapologetically act contrary to the Gospel.  Television shows and movies are abound with non-Christian values and morals.  Books, newspapers, magazines, and blog posts attack Christianity and teach false Gospels.  For followers of Christ, there is no getting around it – we are all going to be faced with “bad company” from time to time.

Jesus and the disciples were also faced with bad company.  They spent much of their time surrounded by unbelievers, because Jesus knew that the sinners were the ones who needed to be saved.  We too must be in contact with unbelievers if we plan to fulfill the Great Commission and preach the Gospel to those who do not know it.  None of us can live in a protective bubble of only coming in contact with other believers if we intend to reach people for Christ.  This is why Paul’s words in today’s key passage are so important to us.

Even though we are surrounded by unbelief, we must not be misled.  We all have to guard our hearts from allowing bad company to corrupt good character.  When someone we know attacks our beliefs, we must stand firm.  We cannot waiver in our faith even for a second if we want to be effective witnesses for Christ.  We must let the Holy Spirit overflow from us, as He gives us the power to be surrounded by bad company without being corrupted.  In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, Paul gives the church in Corinth instructions while they wait for him to return to them.  He says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”  These were good instructions to the Corinthians waiting for Paul’s return and they are good instructions for all of us today as we await the return of Jesus Christ.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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Resisting Temptation


Daily Bible Reading – Psalm 122; 1 Corinthians 9-11

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

 

Temptation is everywhere in this world.  As followers of Christ, we are constantly tempted to diverge from the path that is good and right – the path to God.  It is important to note a few things about temptation.  First and foremost, temptation alone is not sin.  Everyone is tempted to sin, but it is how we react to that temptation that determines whether or not we are sinning against God.  Jesus himself was tempted by the evil one in the desert.  When Jesus was tempted, he used the Word of God to resist that temptation which is a perfect example of what we must also do.  When temptations arise, if we have God’s Word in our hearts and in our minds, we can overcome that temptation through Christ who lives in us.

Another important point about temptation is its origin.  In James 1:13 we read, “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me. For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone”.  Temptation does not come directly from God – it comes from the enemy.  Keep in mind, though, that God is the supreme authority in the entire universe.  He is in control of everything and everyone – including demons and Satan himself.  We see examples time and time again when demons are subjected to Christ’s authority in the Gospels, and we see in the story of Job that Satan himself must be given permission by God to bring temptation to Job.  Paul says in our key passage today that God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear.  This statement, like everything else in the Bible, is absolutely true – and there is a great amount of power in that.

If we truly believe God’s Word, and if we truly believe that everything He says is perfect and good, then we have all the tools we need to resist temptation.  We know that God loves us and that while he does not tempt us, he does allow us to be tempted.  We know that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.  We know that the Holy Spirit living inside us gives us the power to resist any and all temptations.  Resisting temptation, then, comes down to a simple choice we must make – do we love God more than the thing that is tempting us?  If the answer is yes, then we can use God’s Word and power through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to resist temptation and keep from intentionally sinning.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Life is Short


Daily Bible Reading – Job 35, 36; 1 Corinthians 7, 8

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

 

Life is short.  We have all heard that phrase a million times.  In fact, the phrase is used so often, that it is easy to hear it and not even think about what it means.  As I was reading God’s Word, today’s key passage seemed to jump off the page.  When I first read it, my initial thought was that this idea was so overused that I shouldn’t bother to write about it, but then I really started to think about the idea of life being short.  In terms of eternity, the 80 or so years most people spend on this earth are tiny in comparison.  The average human lifespan in the U.S. is 78.1 years or roughly 28,500 days.  That sounds like a lot, but compared to eternity it is nothing.  The Bible says that God has guaranteed us eternal life with Him through His Son Jesus Christ.  We will literally live forever with Him because of His gift to us.  Yet, we spend a ton of time on earth worrying about the brief 78.1 years we spend here.  The car we really want, the house we think we need, or the new gadget that just came out mean nothing in terms of eternity.  The paycheck we really want to make today will mean absolutely nothing tomorrow.  In today’s passage, Paul is urging believers not to make marriage, possessions, or financial security the ultimate goal in life.  He is urging them to keep Christ first, because everything of this world is passing away.  When we are able to surrender everything to Jesus Christ, all of the worries of this world seem insignificant.  When we are able to think in terms of eternity, a single bad day means nothing.

I once heard it said that we can live for the line or we can live for the dash.  The line refers to God’s line – his timetable.  God’s line is infinitely long.  There is a point on this line where we are born and a point where we die.  We affect the line during our lives, but the line does not begin or end with us.  The dash refers to the hyphen they place on tombstones between the date of birth and the date of death.  The dash on the tombstone represents all of our actions while on earth.  If we live for the dash, we will never be truly fulfilled because we will never be able to squeeze it all in.  If we live for the line, we can find true fulfillment and happiness knowing that we are serving God during our limited time here, and that we will be rewarded when we begin our eternity with Him.  Let us all choose today to live for the line.  Let us all choose today to think in terms of eternity, and to put God first in all that we do.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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The Judgmental Christian


Daily Bible Reading – Job 34; 1 Corinthians 4-6

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 4

 

How many times have you heard Christians described as judgmental?  How many times have you felt judged by other believers?  How many times have you judged another?  Being judgmental is really easy to do.  It is easy to look at others situations and start to judge them, even if that is not necessarily our intention.  It is also easy to judge ourselves.  Being judgmental, however, is not our job.  Our role as followers of Christ is to lift others up, not drag them down by judging them.  People tend to look down at others who have less wealth, less education, or less talent.  In addition, people tend to look down on others who do not do as much to serve the church, who do not give as much to the church, or who do not help the needy.  While all of this may be easy to do, it is also all sin.  Looking down on others for any reason is sin in God’s eyes.  He is the only just and right judge.  He is the only one who is perfect enough to judge other people.  Do not get me wrong, as followers of Christ it is our duty to confront another Christian if they are committing sin and refuse to repent, but even in those situations, we are to confront them with love and condemn their actions instead of their person.  When we start to condemn them as people, we cross over from being a helpful brother or sister in Christ to being judgmental and to sinning ourselves.

Paul says it best when he says, “Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (4:7)  The next time the urge comes to judge another person, just remember that everything you have – all of your wealth, power, education, talents, treasures, qualities, and characteristics – were given to you by God.  You did not earn them.  God gave them to you by His grace.  When we think of things in this way, it becomes much less tempting to judge others.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

What God Has Prepared For Us


Daily Bible Reading – Job 33; 1 Corinthians 1-3

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

 

A while back, I was driving my daughter to one of her after school activities, and we began talking about Heaven.  My daughter, being just 7 years old at the time, had many questions about what Heaven would be like.  She wanted to know if she would have stuffed animals there.  She wanted to know if she would be the age she was now, or would she be an adult.  She wanted to know about the food.  It was fun listening to the innocence of a child’s heart as she tried to understand things that are beyond our understanding.  For most of her questions, my answer was, “I don’t know”, much to her dismay.  She wanted to know the answers to her questions about what God had in store for her in Heaven.

I think we all want to know about what God has in store for us – both in Heaven and in our time here on Earth.  What are his plans for us?  What will he have us do?  Sometimes when I am trying to fall asleep, I try to imagine what my life will be like in 20 years or what Heaven will be like.  When thinking about Heaven, I usually get stuck when I try to think about what eternity looks like…for me, that is simply a concept that my human mind cannot seem to grasp.  I think one of the best answers to all of these questions comes in today’s key passage – “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived— the things God has prepared for those who love him”. (2:9)  God’s plan for each of us is greater than we can possibly imagine.  God knows each one of us personally and intimately.  He knows more about us than any person alive.  He had our entire lives mapped out and our entire beings planned before we were even born.  Try as we might, we will never be able to fully conceive in our minds the depth and beauty of His plans for us.  All we have to do is have faith in Him, and know that His plans for us will be greater than we can imagine, and then enjoy the ride.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Your Part in the Body of Christ


Daily Bible Reading – Judges 1-3; 1 Corinthians 12

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

The worship team at our church is awesome.  There are people on that team who could easily be professional singers and would likely be very successful.  Sometimes when I am listening to them sing, I wish I had their ability.  I wish I was able to sing the way they do, but sadly, I would be lucky to string two notes together in tune because singing is simply a gift that God did not give to me.  Before I feel too bad about my lack of singing ability, though, I stop and think about Paul’s words in our key passage for today.

The church in Corinth had a few problems that Paul was trying to sort out in his letter.  One of these issues was how some people were thinking of and using spiritual gifts.  At the time, some people were in the church were contending that spiritual gifts were representative of how religious a person was in the eyes of God.  Basically, a person with a particular gift (for example, the gift of speaking in tongues) believed that he or she was more spiritual than a person who did not have this gift.  In effect, the believers in Corinth were ranking their own spirituality based on the gifts they had received from God.  Obviously, this is a misuse of gifts and not at all what God intended.  Spiritual gifts are gifts from God designed to help the church function more effectively, and should never be used to divide the church.  In our key passage today, Paul likens spiritual gifts to different parts of the body.  He states that the foot has its particular purpose and the hand has its particular purpose, but each part is essential to the overall health of the body.  No one part is greater than any other part, and no part of the body is greater than the whole body.  The church functions the same way.

For those of us who have been saved, we are all parts of the body of Christ.  When we received the Holy Spirit and He began to dwell inside of us, we were given certain gifts from God to help us during our walk with Christ.  Some people are given the gift of singing while others were not.  Some people are great preachers and some are not.  Some are given the gift of prophecy, and some are not.  God divides His gifts in His own way and by His own design, and no one with one particular gift can claim to be any greater than a person without that gift.  No matter which gifts you have been given from God, there are a couple of important things that we need to keep in mind.  First and foremost, you HAVE been given gifts, even if you have not yet figured out what those gifts are.  Each of us has individual talents and strengths that can be used to further God’s kingdom.  Our job is to figure out what those gifts are, and then use them to God’s glory.  Do not spend time wishing you had been given other gifts.  Instead, use the gifts you have been given to reach your full potential for Christ.  Just as the overall health of the body is dependent on the health of its individual parts, the overall health of the body of Christ is dependent on the health of each one of us.  Once you have determined your part in the body of Christ, make sure you are putting it to good use.  Finally, always remember that as the body of Christ, we all share in each other’s times of joy and times of sorrow.  Paul says, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (v. 26)  Whatever your part in the body of Christ might be, do not allow yourself to be jealous of those who are honored or to ignore those who suffer.  We are all part of the same Body.  We can choose to build each other up, or tear each other down.  Find out what your part is in the body of Christ, do your part as well as you can, and choose to build up other believers around you.  When each of us decides to use the gifts God has provided us for the glory of God and not for our own personal glory, the body of Christ grows stronger and stronger.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Taking Communion for Granted


Daily Bible Reading – Joshua 23,24; Psalm 44; 1 Corinthians 11

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 11:23-32

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to take certain things for granted?  When you turn on a faucet, you take for granted that water will come out.  When you press the power button on your computer, you take for granted that it will turn on.  The church in Corinth was taking something else for granted – Communion.  In the early church of the day, the Communion ritual was a bit more involved than it is today.  The church members would come together for a celebratory feast before taking communion.  Paul heard reports that some of the Corinthians were using this time to indulge in excessive food and drink, while others were not getting anything to eat at all.  They were still taking Communion, but their hearts were not in the right place.  They were more concerned with getting a good meal then they were with honoring Christ.

When I was a kid, the church that I attended with my parents took Communion all the time.  For a while, I even think we took Communion every week.  Now, keep in mind that at that point in my life, I was not saved.  I went to church every week because that is simply what my family did every Sunday, not because I had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  In fact, I did not even really know what that meant, but I always enjoyed taking Communion.  The bad news is that I enjoyed Communion for all the wrong reasons.  First of all, to take Communion we all went up to the altar, which I viewed as a nice break in the service and a chance to get up off the hard wooden pews in which we sat.  Secondly, I viewed Communion as a little snack in the middle of service, which I enjoyed.  Of course it did not help that the church used actual wine for Communion, so as a child of twelve or thirteen I felt like I was getting away with something by getting to drink a little bit of wine.  In all the times that I took Communion as a child, I cannot remember ever really stopping to think about what it meant.  The first time I took Communion after I was saved as an adult, I remember thinking back to those days as a child and feeling sick at how I had treated Communion.  Like the Corinthians, I was not respecting the body and blood of Christ.  I was not respecting the sacrifice Jesus made for me.

You may be reading this judging my actions as a child, which is fine with me because I realize now how much I deserved to be judged at the time.  The fact is, though, for many people today it can be pretty easy to take Communion for granted.  It can be easy to get used to taking Communion in your church and not really take the time to make sure you are going into the Lord’s Supper with the right frame of mind.  In today’s key passage, Paul says, “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.”  The next time you take Communion, I challenge you to really think about today’s key passage.  Before Communion even begins, search yourself for any hidden sin you may have in your life and take it to the Lord in prayer and ask for forgiveness.  Before taking the bread, remember the words of Jesus when He said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  Christ gave His body for YOU, and taking the bread is a way to remember His sacrifice.  Before you drink from the cup, remember the words of Jesus when He said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  Jesus shed His blood to create a way for YOU to come to God.  As the ultimate sacrifice, He perfectly fulfilled the Old Testament law and created a way for us to be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  When we focus on the sacrifice of Christ, we can ensure we have the right heart when taking Communion, and we can avoid ever taking it for granted.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Running the Race


Daily Bible Reading – Joshua 18-20; 1 Corinthians 9

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Imagine that God appeared to you tomorrow and told you that in one year He wants you to run a marathon.  Imagine also that God is not just asking you to just run in the marathon, but He actually wants you to win.  After you get over the shock and awe of being in the presence of God, what would you do about His challenge?  (Before you dismiss the question as being ridiculous, I will remind you that God once spoke to a man using the voice of a donkey, so while I admit my scenario is improbable it is certainly not impossible for the all-powerful Creator of the universe.)  The way I see it, given this scenario, you would have three choices.  You could either not even bother entering the marathon at all, do nothing for the next year and then enter the marathon with no training, or spend the next year preparing trying to do everything you can to win that race.  Today’s key passage is all about option number three.

In today’s key passage, Paul is speaking to church in Corinth and says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)  In this verse, Paul is not just talking about an actual race – he is talking about life.  If we approach marriage, church, work, school, friendship, or following Christ with a casual attitude, we are destined to fail.  We must approach these areas of life with an attitude toward winning.  We must approach these areas of life determined to put everything we have into them, and run.

The best way to try to win the race of life is through preparation.  We can prepare ourselves through prayer, reading Scripture, and getting to know God better.  Just like the marathoner preparing a year out, we must diligently train in these areas to prepare for the race of life.  We can never get lazy.  We can never get casual.  We have to work.  We need to develop our desire to win in all of the different areas of our lives, be it in our marriage or in our walk with Christ.  As Paul points out, we must be focused and not be “like a man running aimlessly”.  We must practice self-control and figuratively “beat our bodies and make them our slaves”.  We must never lose sight of the reason that we strive to win in all that we do – the prize.  When we keep our focus on the right thing – Jesus Christ – we can prepare ourselves to win in life, and we can prepare ourselves for our eternal reward.  When given the choice in all of the areas of your life, do not choose to sit on the sidelines and not participate.  Do not choose to casually try.  Choose to put everything you have into every relationship, and choose to “run in such a way as to get the prize”.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Dangerous Knowledge


Daily Bible Reading – Joshua 15-17; 1 Corinthians 8

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 8:1-3

I heard a piece of tongue-in-cheek marital advice the other day, and it went something like this: “When you are wrong, confess it to your spouse immediately.  When you are right, do not say a word.”  I thought about that advice today as I read Paul’s remarks to the church in Corinth.  In our key passage today, Paul says, “We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)  Paul is giving the Corinthians similar advice to the humorous marital advice above – no one likes a no-it-all.  Do not get me wrong here; we all know that knowledge is a good thing.  The more we learn about a particular topic, the better off we are, at least up to a point.  What Paul is talking about is what I like to refer to as dangerous knowledge.

So, what makes knowledge dangerous?  In our key passage, Paul says that knowledge “puffs up”.  When you hear that term, what kind of a person do you picture?  I picture a proud man – a man who thinks he knows it all.  I picture a man who believes he is right almost 100% of the time, and is not afraid to tell you about it.  I picture a man who believes being right is more important than being compassionate and loving.  In the interest of honesty, I have to admit at this point that I have struggled with this issue (as the people closest to me can attest).  I have felt this compulsive need to be right for as long as I can remember, and there are still times when I am acting in the flesh when this comes out of me.  It is something that God continues to work on in me, and I know that eventually He will rid me of it completely.  See, the issue here is really an issue of pride, and this pride is what makes knowledge dangerous.  When you get to the point where being right is more important than compassion, you have entered dangerous territory.  When you resist any kind of correction, you have entered dangerous territory.  When you have intolerance for opposing views, you have entered dangerous territory.  Dangerous knowledge can be toxic, both to yourself and to the people around you.  If left unchecked, this dangerous knowledge can lead to a condition where you stop putting your faith in God to provide for your needs.  When you wrongly believe that YOU can control your own destiny, you have definitely entered into VERY dangerous territory.

With all of that being said, what is the answer?  How can we ensure that our knowledge does not turn into dangerous knowledge?  The first step comes in understanding the sovereignty of God.  When you realize that He is control of everything and that He is the only one who is always right, you can start to escape the snare of dangerous knowledge and pride.  The second step is putting our focus on the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Compared to Jesus, who among us can claim to be perfect?  Who among us can claim to be right?  Christ came to this earth and lived a perfect life, and then died on a cross because of our sinfulness.  When we begin to exalt Him instead of ourselves, we can begin to get out of the danger zone.  Finally, the last step is love.  When we realize that God loves us unconditionally regardless of what we do, we can in turn begin to love others in this same way.  When you love another person unconditionally, you will want to build them up with that love instead of “puffing up” yourself.  At that point, being right loses all importance.

The next time you feel the overwhelming need to be right; I hope you will remember today’s key passage.  I hope that, like me, you will stop and remind yourself of Paul’s words.  Aside from that, if all else fails – when you are right, do not say a word.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

Divisions in the Church


Daily Bible Reading – Deuteronomy 30,31; Psalm 40; 1 Corinthians 1

Today’s Key Passage – 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

During Paul’s third missionary journey in Ephesus, he received word of some problems that the church in Corinth was facing.  One of the problems plaguing the church at that time was disunity.  The Corinthians heard the Gospel from many different sources – some heard about Christ from Paul, while others heard from Peter and Apollos.  While Paul, Peter, and Apollos were all preaching the same Gospel, they each had their own style of preaching.  Because of the different styles of the preachers, the members of the church started to cling to the messenger instead of the message.  In 1 Corinthians 1:12, Paul explains the issue when he says, “What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”  This division in the church was hurting the church as a whole and was keeping the Corinthians from reaching their full potential.

We still run the risk of having divisions in the church today.  This could be divisions in a particular church congregation, or divisions of the church as a whole.  This becomes especially prevalent when we begin to think that “our way” is the only way.  As we all know, there are many different denominations of the Christian church and there are many different styles of worship.  In some churches, people sing hymns from a book while listening to an organist, while in other churches people sing popular Christian songs with a live band.  In some churches, you will see people with their hands raised in the air during worship, while in other churches that is completely taboo.  Some people think that their preacher is the best preacher and will gladly tell you so, while others believe the same thing about their preacher.  One believer might like a particular Christian author, while another believer might not.  All of these differences can lead, to a certain degree, to divisions in the body of Christ as a whole.

So why is this such an issue?  Why is disunity in the body of Christ or in a particular church congregation so bad?  To find the best answer to this question, we need only to look to Christ himself.  In Mark 3:25, Jesus said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”  Disunity ruins churches and destroys their witness for Christ.  As we attempt to reach the lost and tell them about Jesus, we will not be nearly as successful if our church is divided.  We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.  We all worship the same God.  We are all saved by the same grace.  Do not allow your allegiance to any particular group or any particular style outweigh your allegiance to Christ.  Do not allow the externals get in the way of what is truly important.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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