1 Corinthians 10.1–13: Doing the right thing (23 February 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.

Pray

Pray

Lord, prepare me to receive your word. Clear my mind and warm my heart. Assure me of your loving purposes for me, and speak into my life today.

Read

Read

1Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you are going to see what I will do to the king. I will force him to let my people go. In fact, I will force him to drive them out of his land.”

God Calls Moses

2God spoke to Moses and said, “I am the LORD. 3I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as Almighty God, but I did not make myself known to them by my holy name, the LORD. 4I also made my covenant with them, promising to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they had lived as foreigners. 5Now I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians have enslaved, and I have remembered my covenant. 6So tell the Israelites that I say to them, ‘I am the LORD; I will rescue you and set you free from your slavery to the Egyptians. I will raise my mighty arm to bring terrible punishment upon them, and I will save you. 7I will make you my own people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am the LORD your God when I set you free from slavery in Egypt. 8I will bring you to the land that I solemnly promised to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as your own possession. I am the LORD.’ ” 9Moses told this to the Israelites, but they would not listen to him, because their spirit had been broken by their cruel slavery.

10Then the LORD said to Moses, 11“Go and tell the king of Egypt that he must let the Israelites leave his land.”

12But Moses replied, “Even the Israelites will not listen to me, so why should the king? I am such a poor speaker.”

13The LORD commanded Moses and Aaron: “Tell the Israelites and the king of Egypt that I have ordered you to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.”

The Family Record of Moses and Aaron

14Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, had four sons: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi; they were the ancestors of the clans that bear their names. 15Simeon had six sons: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman; they were the ancestors of the clans that bear their names. 16Levi had three sons: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari; they were the ancestors of the clans that bear their names. Levi lived 137 years. 17Gershon had two sons: Libni and Shimei, and they had many descendants. 18Kohath had four sons: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. Kohath lived 133 years. 19Merari had two sons: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of Levi with their descendants.

20Amram married his father's sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years. 21Izhar had three sons: Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri. 22Uzziel also had three sons: Mishael, Elzaphan, and Sithri.

23Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon; she bore him Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 24Korah had three sons: Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph; they were the ancestors of the divisions of the clan of Korah. 25Eleazar, Aaron's son, married one of Putiel's daughters, who bore him Phinehas. These were the heads of the families and the clans of the tribe of Levi.

26Aaron and Moses were the ones to whom the LORD said, “Lead the tribes of Israel out of Egypt.” 27They were the men who told the king of Egypt to free the Israelites.

The LORD's Command to Moses and Aaron

28When the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29he said, “I am the LORD. Tell the king of Egypt everything I tell you.”

30But Moses answered, “You know that I am such a poor speaker; why should the king listen to me?”

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Disciples

1Jesus called the twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases. 2Then he sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick, 3after saying to them, “Take nothing with you for the journey: no stick, no beggar's bag, no food, no money, not even an extra shirt. 4Wherever you are welcomed, stay in the same house until you leave that town; 5wherever people don't welcome you, leave that town and shake the dust off your feet as a warning to them.”

6The disciples left and travelled through all the villages, preaching the Good News and healing people everywhere.

Herod's Confusion

7When Herod, the ruler of Galilee, heard about all the things that were happening, he was very confused, because some people were saying that John the Baptist had come back to life. 8Others were saying that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. 9Herod said, “I had John's head cut off; but who is this man I hear these things about?” And he kept trying to see Jesus.

Jesus Feeds a Great Crowd

10The apostles came back and told Jesus everything they had done. He took them with him, and they went off by themselves to a town called Bethsaida. 11When the crowds heard about it, they followed him. He welcomed them, spoke to them about the Kingdom of God, and healed those who needed it.

12When the sun was beginning to set, the twelve disciples came to him and said, “Send the people away so that they can go to the villages and farms round here and find food and lodging, because this is a lonely place.”

13But Jesus said to them, “You yourselves give them something to eat.”

They answered, “All we have are five loaves and two fish. Do you want us to go and buy food for this whole crowd?” 14(There were about 5,000 men there.)

Jesus said to his disciples, “Make the people sit down in groups of about fifty each.”

15After the disciples had done so, 16Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up to heaven, thanked God for them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. 17They all ate and had enough, and the disciples took up twelve baskets of what was left over.

Peter's Declaration about Jesus

18One day when Jesus was praying alone, the disciples came to him. “Who do the crowds say I am?” he asked them.

19“Some say that you are John the Baptist,” they answered. “Others say that you are Elijah, while others say that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

20“What about you?” he asked them. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are God's Messiah.”

Jesus Speaks about his Suffering and Death

21Then Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell this to anyone. 22He also said to them, “The Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. He will be put to death, but three days later he will be raised to life.”

23And he said to them all, “Anyone who wants to come with me must forget self, take up their cross every day, and follow me. 24For whoever wants to save their own life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake will save it. 25Will people gain anything if they win the whole world but are themselves lost or defeated? Of course not! 26If people are ashamed of me and of my teaching, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27I assure you that there are some here who will not die until they have seen the Kingdom of God.”

The Transfiguration

28About a week after he had said these things, Jesus took Peter, John, and James with him and went up a hill to pray. 29While he was praying, his face changed its appearance, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30Suddenly two men were there talking with him. They were Moses and Elijah, 31who appeared in heavenly glory and talked with Jesus about the way in which he would soon fulfil God's purpose by dying in Jerusalem. 32Peter and his companions were sound asleep, but they woke up and saw Jesus' glory and the two men who were standing with him. 33As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, how good it is that we are here! We will make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (He did not really know what he was saying.)

34While he was still speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them with its shadow; and the disciples were afraid as the cloud came over them. 35A voice said from the cloud, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen — listen to him!”

36When the voice stopped, there was Jesus all alone. The disciples kept quiet about all this, and told no one at that time anything they had seen.

Jesus Heals a Boy with an Evil Spirit

37The next day Jesus and the three disciples went down from the hill, and a large crowd met Jesus. 38A man shouted from the crowd, “Teacher! I beg you, look at my son — my only son! 39A spirit attacks him with a sudden shout and throws him into a fit, so that he foams at the mouth; it keeps on hurting him and will hardly let him go! 40I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn't.”

41Jesus answered, “How unbelieving and wrong you people are! How long must I stay with you? How long do I have to put up with you?” Then he said to the man, “Bring your son here.”

42As the boy was coming, the demon knocked him to the ground and threw him into a fit. Jesus gave a command to the evil spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43All the people were amazed at the mighty power of God.

Jesus Speaks Again about his Death

The people were still marvelling at everything Jesus was doing, when he said to his disciples, 44“Don't forget what I am about to tell you! The Son of Man is going to be handed over to the power of human beings.” 45But the disciples did not know what this meant. It had been hidden from them so that they could not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about the matter.

Who is the Greatest?

46An argument broke out among the disciples as to which one of them was the greatest. 47Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he took a child, stood him by his side, 48and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, also welcomes the one who sent me. For the one who is least among you all is the greatest.”

Whoever is not Against You is For You

49John spoke up, “Master, we saw a man driving out demons in your name, and we told him to stop, because he doesn't belong to our group.”

50“Do not try to stop him,” Jesus said to him and to the other disciples, “because whoever is not against you is for you.”

A Samaritan Village Refuses to Receive Jesus

51As the time drew near when Jesus would be taken up to heaven, he made up his mind and set out on his way to Jerusalem. 52He sent messengers ahead of him, who went into a village in Samaria to get everything ready for him. 53But the people there would not receive him, because it was clear that he was on his way to Jerusalem. 54When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”

55Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56Then Jesus and his disciples went on to another village.

The Would-be Followers of Jesus

57As they went on their way, a man said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lie down and rest.”

59He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But that man said, “Sir, first let me go back and bury my father.”

60Jesus answered, “Let the dead bury their own dead. You go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”

61Someone else said, “I will follow you, sir; but first let me go and say goodbye to my family.”

62Jesus said to him, “Anyone who starts to plough and then keeps looking back is of no use to the Kingdom of God.”

Job

1-2I still rebel and complain against God;

I can't hold back my groaning.

3How I wish I knew where to find him,

and knew how to go where he is.

4I would state my case before him

and present all the arguments in my favour.

5I want to know what he would say

and how he would answer me.

6Would God use all his strength against me?

No, he would listen as I spoke.

7I am honest; I could reason with God;

he would declare me innocent once and for all.

 

8I have searched in the east, but God is not there;

I have not found him when I searched in the west.

9God has been at work in the north and the south,

but still I have not seen him.

10Yet God knows every step I take;

if he tests me, he will find me pure.

11I follow faithfully the road he chooses,

and never wander to either side.

12I always do what God commands;

I follow his will, not my own desires.

 

13He never changes. No one can oppose him

or stop him from doing what he wants to do.

14He will fulfil what he has planned for me;

that plan is just one of the many he has;

15I tremble with fear before him.

16-17Almighty God has destroyed my courage.

It is God, not the dark, that makes me afraid —

even though the darkness has made me blind.

Warnings against Idols

1I want you to remember, my brothers and sisters, what happened to our ancestors who followed Moses. They were all under the protection of the cloud, and all passed safely through the Red Sea. 2In the cloud and in the sea they were all baptized as followers of Moses. 3All ate the same spiritual bread 4and drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from the spiritual rock that went with them; and that rock was Christ himself. 5But even then God was not pleased with most of them, and so their dead bodies were scattered over the desert.

6Now, all this is an example for us, to warn us not to desire evil things, as they did, 7nor to worship idols, as some of them did. As the scripture says, “The people sat down to a feast which turned into an orgy of drinking and sex.” 8We must not be guilty of sexual immorality, as some of them were — and in one day 23,000 of them fell dead. 9We must not put the Lord to the test, as some of them did — and they were killed by snakes. 10We must not complain, as some of them did — and they were destroyed by the Angel of Death.

11All these things happened to them as examples for others, and they were written down as a warning for us. For we live at a time when the end is about to come.

12Those who think they are standing firm had better be careful that they do not fall. 13Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.

14So then, my dear friends, keep away from the worship of idols. 15I speak to you as sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16The cup we use in the Lord's Supper and for which we give thanks to God: when we drink from it, we are sharing in the blood of Christ. And the bread we break: when we eat it, we are sharing in the body of Christ. 17Because there is the one loaf of bread, all of us, though many, are one body, for we all share the same loaf.

18Consider the people of Israel; those who eat what is offered in sacrifice share in the altar's service to God. 19Do I imply, then, that an idol or the food offered to it really amounts to anything? 20No! What I am saying is that what is sacrificed on pagan altars is offered to demons, not to God. And I do not want you to be partners with demons. 21You cannot drink from the Lord's cup and also from the cup of demons; you cannot eat at the Lord's table and also at the table of demons. 22Or do we want to make the Lord jealous? Do we think that we are stronger than he?

23“We are allowed to do anything,” so they say. That is true, but not everything is good. “We are allowed to do anything” — but not everything is helpful. 24None of you should be looking to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

25You are free to eat anything sold in the meat market, without asking any questions because of your conscience. 26For, as the scripture says, “The earth and everything in it belong to the Lord.”

27If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you decide to go, eat what is set before you, without asking any questions because of your conscience. 28But if someone says to you, “This food was offered to idols,” then do not eat that food, for the sake of the one who told you and for conscience' sake — 29that is, not your own conscience, but the other person's conscience.

“Well, then,” someone asks, “why should my freedom to act be limited by another person's conscience? 30If I thank God for my food, why should anyone criticize me about food for which I give thanks?”

31Well, whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do it all for God's glory. 32Live in such a way as to cause no trouble either to Jews or Gentiles or to the church of God. 33Just do as I do; I try to please everyone in all that I do, not thinking of my own good, but of the good of all, so that they might be saved.

Reflect

Daily Reflection: 1 Corinthians 10.1–13

At the beginning of this chapter, Paul goes back into Israelite history to make a point about responsibility. As the people wandered in the wilderness after leaving Egypt, they repeatedly sinned against God, and suffered accordingly. So, says Paul, Christians ought to take note; wrongdoing has consequences.

Verses 12–13, containing the promise that God 'will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm', are sometimes read as a promise that we'll be able to cope with whatever life throws at us. Many of us do go through very hard times, with illness, relationship breakdowns, and any number of frustrations and failures, and we are deeply grateful for the continuing presence of God with us. But that isn't what these verses are about.

They really speak of our responsibility for doing the right thing, even when we are tempted to do wrong. We can't evade our responsibility by saying 'It was just too hard' or 'The devil made me do it.' We may face situations where it's genuinely difficult to know the right way to act and we won't always get it right, but we are given 'the strength to endure'.

We need to be admit that some people find it easier to be 'good' than others. We all face different temptations; what's hard for one person is easier for another, whether because of our natural inclinations or the habits we've acquired. But Paul challenges us to take responsibility: with God's help, we can make right choices.

Pray

Pray

God, help me not to be judgemental if others fail when they’re tempted by things that don’t tempt me. And help me to stay strong and do the right thing when I’m faced with choices I find really difficult.

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