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Paul's Opening Prayer and Affirmation

In an interview about his book The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal, pastor and author Chuck Swindoll worried that the church today is too focused on entertainment rather than worship. He offered this perspective as a corrective: “When you come Sunday, you’re going to focus on One who is eternal, and we’re all going to meet him together. And in doing so, we’re going to leave different than we came because we will have been in his awesome presence, and we will be ignited by the work of the Spirit within us.”

Paul’s pressing word for the Corinthians was much the same. But before he began exhorting and correcting them, he first affirmed the power of God’s grace in their lives. Compared to other epistles, he spent less time commending them and more time commending God to them. God is the One in whom they should boast and find their true identity.

The apostle’s focus in today’s reading was squarely on Christ. He is the model for us to imitate, as well as the One who gives us the power to do so. The Corinthians had received much grace from Him (v. 4). He was their source of spiritual knowledge and enrichment (v. 5). They were to be using His gifts for His glory, while waiting eagerly for His return (v. 7). He was their guarantee of eternal security (v. 8). And the daily spiritual walk of individual believers and the church as a whole depended on fellowship with Him (v. 9).

God had confirmed Paul’s preaching and teaching among the Corinthians by beginning to bring about good fruit (v. 6). What was true for them is true for us: The Christian’s ultimate goal and destination are blamelessness or perfection, as He faithfully completes His work of salvation in us (vv. 8–9; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23–24).

Apply the Word

We, too, look forward to Christ’s Second Coming: “Then we shall be where we would be, / Then we shall be what we should be, / Things that are not now, nor could be, / Soon shall be our own.” These lyrics from the hymn, “Praise the Savior, Ye Who Know Him,” and musical arrangement are available online and could enrich your devotional time.

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Brad Baurain has worked as a writer and editor for Today in the Word since 1993. Currently, he serves as associate professor and TESOL program head at Moody Bible Institute. Brad has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has also taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Brad and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Munster, Indiana.

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