Friday, February 21, 2014

Touching Base, Part 231

TB 231
The Body – PART 4:
Cheese Balls!
16 Feb 14

(This article can also be found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Last week I was walking in the grocery store and, right there in the middle of one of the aisles, sat these enormous containers of cheese balls. The price was cheap, the location was strategic and for anyone with a craving for salty foods, the offer was too good to resist. Cheese balls are a great picture of temptation - we are convinced that it won’t cost us much, but temptation always knows where to locate itself in our lives and it has a way of appealing to our cravings and desires.

Take a moment and list what cheese balls can look like in our lives.

Big Idea: Every life has cheese balls in the center of the aisle.
Question: What does Paul teach us about temptation/cheese balls?
Text: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13- The key verses are v.11-13. Verses 1-10 serve to illustrate what Paul is talking about.

1. The word of God can provide a warning from God (v.11)

Notice v.11 and v.6 and how Paul reminds them of one of the functions of the Word of God. To warn someone is to call someone’s attention to a matter that they might not notice on their own.
Who is Paul using as an example for these Corinthian Christians? See v.1-10.

As a group, take a few moments and share what passages of Scripture have served as great warning texts for you in your spiritual journey. Have you ever been saved much pain or regret because of the warnings of Scripture? Was there ever a time when you knew God’s Word was cautioning you, but you went ahead anyways and purchased the cheese balls?

The following questions are helpful in identifying the ways that Scripture can warn us.

The “application” acrostic:
Is there an Attitude to adjust?
Is there a Promise to claim?
Is there a Priority to change?
Is there a Lesson to learn?
Is there an Issue to resolve?
Is there a Command to obey?
Is there an Activity to avoid or stop?
Is there a Truth to believe?
Is there an Idol to tear down? (That’s a big one.)
Is there an Offense to forgive?
Is there a New direction to take?
Is there a Sin to confess?
(Rick Warren)

2. Places of strength can be places of great vulnerability (v.12)

Notice the example Paul uses of a people who were standing firm.

The cloud is symbolic of God’s presence.
Moses is an example of God’s provision for Godly leadership.
The Sea - an event where God’s presence in the life of Moses enabled him to provide great leadership. This nation was standing firm. They had been baptized, inaugurated into all these blessings!

V3,4 Paul calls the manna “spiritual” food, by which he probably means food miraculously provided by the Spirit of God, not food with a heavenly taste or texture. Nor indeed was the water spiritual in character. It was, rather, spiritually provided, just as the rock was spiritually enabled to give water.

Paul believes that Christ was preexistent in OT times helping God’s OT people along. Note what John said in 1:1

But notice how such strength and such blessing resulted in such judgment (v.5-10). The problem with some of the Corinthians is that they had a false sense of security. Possibly the Corinthians had a magical view of the Christian sacraments and thought that since they had partaken of the Christian initiation rite (baptism) and the Christian communion rite (the Lord’s Supper), they were immune to spiritual danger at pagan feasts. They seem to have held to some form of an “eternal security by means of sacraments” view.

Have you ever seen someone looking so strong but actually falling?
We can be experiencing an internal breakdown long before things go public. Discuss the following quote,

“We fall because of many mini decisions that lead to what is visible for all to see.”

Truth be told, the fall happens way before we hear the crash!

Places of strength are places of vulnerability because the human heart is deceptive, and wicked and dark and easily becomes proud, overconfident, and self-reliant. It is always amazing how dark the heart can be even while someone is standing in the brilliant light of God’s blessing. The human heart is no different today than it was thousands of years ago. Check out Jeremiah 17:9,10, Matthew 15:18, Hebrews 4:12.

With all our advancement, sophistication and progress, are we any different than past generations?

3. There is nothing new under the sun, just different attire (v.13a)

“Seize” can mean to attack, catch, apprehend, lay hold of
“Common to man” - What belongs to man, human temptation. It appeals to the flesh. In other words this temptation has been around since the dawn of civilization. What is seizing you is an old man, wrinkled, well versed in such things, and who has preyed on many a victim.

The comfort of that is that we can learn from others, thus Scripture can warn us from the lives of others. The discomfort is that temptation is like a deceptive, wise old veteran who is really good at his evil craft.

For example we ask the same old questions that can lead us down “cheese ball alley”. These are some questions the Israelites may have been asking:

• Is God good? (v.7) Idolatry essentially says that God can be improved on can be updated and modernized.
• Are God’s sexual boundaries reasonable? (v.8) God had given very clear boundaries regarding sexual conduct.
• Is God able? (v.9) Numbers 21:4 gives the context of questioning the ability of God.
• Is God really wise? (v10) Numbers 14:1-4 gives the context for questioning the wisdom of God.

These are not new questions but rather age-old questions that Old Man Temptation uses time and time again to get us to go after the cheese balls.

Are we so much better, so much more sophisticated that we don’t ask these very same questions today? The asking of the question isn’t wrong – it’s the posture of the heart.

4. God is Faithful in the face of temptation (v.13b)

How is the faithfulness of God demonstrated in this verse? Notice we see the power of God demonstrated in judgment (v.6-10) and now the power of God demonstrated in Him being faithful.

Notice the phrases “provide a way out” and “stand up under it”. The reality of some temptation is that we cannot flee it but must endure it, stand up under it. The way out is not necessarily to remove ourselves from it but to be strong in the face of it. Eventually we might be able to flee it but until then, we can stand up under it. Note verse 14 - the admonition is to flee but no doubt they had to endure before they were able to remove themselves.

Part of the Corinthian problem, of course, was that, in the face of temptation, some were not looking for a way out by endurance, but a way in for indulgence.

How well will someone do, in this scenario, if they have not been training? Remember last week’s message, “Get Fit, Stay Fit”? The way you prepare for temptation is to train. It is what you are doing before temptation comes knocking that will deeply impact how you respond.

Discuss the following:

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay,
and cost you more than you want to pay.” – unknown

As a group, compare Jesus’ temptation in Matthew 4 with this text. What are the parallels? Let me give you the first parallel: Jesus was in the desert and so were the Israelites. They failed where Jesus succeeded.

Watch out for the cheese balls!

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, February 14, 2014

Touching Base, Part 230

TB 230
The Body – PART 3:
Sochi Christians!
16 Feb 14

(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Get Fit, Stay Fit!

If you’re in a small group, take some time to talk about the above statement:
• Is physical fitness one of your priorities?
• If so, what do you do to stay fit?
• What do you least like about the discipline of physical fitness?
• Do you come from a family where physical fitness was a priority?

Text: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Big Idea: Get Fit, Stay Fit!


The biannual Isthmian athletic games, second in importance only to the Olympic Games, were hosted and sponsored every other year by the people of Corinth. They were held only ten miles from the city so most people there would have been familiar with their goals and practices, as well as being able to observe and attend them. Paul himself was in Corinth in A.D. 50–52, so he would have been present for the Isthmian Games held in the spring of A.D. 51. These games included six events: wrestling, jumping, javelin and discus throwing, and, most importantly for Paul’s analogy, racing and boxing.

Now, with this background and the Corinthian problem of self discipline, is it any wonder that Paul weds these two ideas and writes one of the most well-known parts of his letter? So with this spiritual metaphor now in place, discuss the same questions again, but with a spiritual application:

• Is spiritual fitness one of your priorities?
• If so what do you do to stay fit?
• What do you least like about the discipline of spiritual fitness?
• Do you come from a family where spiritual fitness was a priority?

Question: What does Paul tell us about spiritual fitness?


Describe the “they do it - we do it” tension in the text - what are the differences in the two types of runners?

“They do it” - a crown that will not last
The Olympic crown was made of wild olive leaves, and the Isthmian crown was made of pine or ivy. From the earliest periods of history, chaplets of leaves were bestowed upon heroes who had conquered on the field of battle. This wreathe was corruptible. It eventually took on the characteristics of cottage cheese in the back of the fridge.

“We do it” - a crown that will last forever
Check out the following verses on the crown. What was that crown? 2 Timothy 2:5; 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10; 3:11. I also think 1 Cor. 13:12 explains the crown. Who shall we see perfectly? The crown that doesn’t last was material and corruptible. The crown that lasts is ultimately a person, Jesus and His Kingdom!

The reality of the race is that not all are heading the same direction, not all are running for the same prize. Thus, how people run, how passionately they run, and the direction they run in will be different.

As we commit to being spiritually fit we need to realize that our focus, our crown, will determine the path we take, the types of disciplines we engage in, the kinds of priorities we arrange, the types of sacrifices we are willing to make and the ways we will invest our time, finances and talents. The prize determines the path I take.

Exercise: If someone could watch your life - 24/7- see everything- your thoughts and actions, private disciplines and ones most visible. What might they conclude about the “crown” you have oriented your life around?

What do you do daily to demonstrate that your life is not just pursuing the cottage cheese?
Do you sense, at times, the tension, “They do it - We do it” in your life? Are you ever deeply aware how radically different your life is in many ways because the crown that you are pursuing is so different than the world’s crowns?

What are examples of worldly crowns? How do you know when the worldly crowns are starting to seduce you and dilute your pursuit of Christ?


Training implies self- discipline, self-control. This was something many of the Corinthians were lacking. To train physically means I need to submit my body to a series of disciplines to transform it from one state to another. We condition the body to perform in a way that it will not unless we engage in training. The Corinthians were familiar with the training regimen that athletes had to go through. Paul is reminding them that to be spiritually fit - Get Fit, Stay Fit! - one needed to train. Once we come to Christ, training is what lines up our practice with our new title - sons and daughters of God.

One area where this is very obvious is in our thinking. Note what Paul says in Romans 12:1,2 about the importance of the renewal of the mind. The mind needs to be trained to think in new ways. What we often find with believers is that they are God’s kids living with the enemy’s lies. Those lies have a way of making the training process incredibly hard.

Exercise: Think about the wrong doctrine many believers live out of, and contrast it with right doctrine. I have given you a few examples to get started:

Bad Doctrine
I am worthless
Nobody could love me
I can’t be forgiven
I will never measure up

Good Doctrine
I am created in image of God
I am His Son/Daughter
If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us of our sins (1 John 1:9)
What is the truth?

How does living out of bad doctrine affect relationships, one’s walk with God, self perception?
Where do people get this bad doctrine from?

What are you doing daily to make sure you are training your mind to live out of the right doctrine? - Psalm 1


How does Paul not fight?
Who is Paul fighting in this metaphor?
The enemy he is describing is not some external foe who threatens his leadership, but his own desires.
The term “body” (“soma”) refers to Paul’s entire person. It is not one of three aspects of mankind. It often stands for the whole person. Read Rom. 12:2, Phil. 1:20.

Spiritual training involves inviting the Lordship of Christ to invade every area of a person’s life. Check out the floor plan below and discuss the following questions:

 What makes letting God into a particular rooms so hard?
 What is it about the teachings of the church that make some people think it is okay to keep God out of some rooms?
 How does this picture help explain sanctification for you?
 How do we end up hurting others when we don’t let God into the rooms of our lives?

Discuss the following:

Only when we are willing to live in reality is God able to do a deep work.

How does keeping God out of various rooms create a pseudo-reality?
Have you ever needed help from some trusted friends to allow God into a room that has been closed off for years?

Often, when we allow God in, there may be be sin to confess, lies to correct, pain that needs to be healed (click below to see the whole picture).

As we close we come to some very sobering words. Paul talks about being “disqualified”. I don’t believe, based on context and the bulk of Paul’s writings that this is referring to salvation. I think Paul is talking about Christians who have trained poorly, Christians who have “preached to others” but are shelved because of poor training practices.

There is nothing sadder than when someone so gifted, so used by God gets set aside because of poor training.

Thus the need to heed Paul’s words and to embrace the whole counsel of Scripture that demonstrates we need the Spirit of God to keep us faithful, the word of God to keep us rooted, the body/Church to keep us accountable.

Get Fit, Stay Fit!

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Touching Base, Part 229

TB 229
The Body – PART 2:
The Body Is A Window, Not A Wall!
9 Feb 14

(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Ever heard the saying, “You make a better wall (yes I know it is door, but for our purposes just let it be a wall) than a window!” Perhaps that phrase has been said by you as you hold the remote control and someone is standing in your line of sight to the TV. Do you think this could ever be said about the church, the body?
How has the body been a wall, blocking people from seeing Jesus?
How has the body been a window, helping people see who Jesus is?

On Sunday we talked about The Body Is A Window Not A Wall! Let’s jump into the text and see how this idea develops in our text.

[Note: After challenging the Corinthians to be willing to give up their rights to eat meat for the sake of the weaker brother, Paul now digresses a little in his argument and draws out a personal application of how he has given up his own rights. Notice in 8:13 how he had referred to himself. Now in Chapter 9 he will identify what rights he has given up, for whom and how he has gone about doing this.]

V1-14- Read through this section and see if you can identify the illustrations he uses to drive home his point.
What is his point?
In light of his rights, note what he and some others have done (v.12b, 15,18).
What does verse 12b tell us about why Paul was willing to give up his rights?
“Hinder” - the word means a cutting made in a road to impede an enemy in pursuit. Paul wants to be a window, not a wall so that people far from God can see Jesus. Note that the audience he is talking about are people far from God. He will define these people later in v.19-23.

Question: In the giving up of his rights, what two things did Paul do to be a window?


Verse 12a identifies the obstacle he removed. Note how this had become an obstacle.
There were itinerant teachers throughout the Mediterranean region, some who accepted fees or patronage or (like the Cynics) begged for a living. Apparently Paul did not want to be identified with such people even in the least, especially where some might suspect that he was in the preaching business in order to bilk people. The Sophists were particularly noted for bilking patrons.

Note what his reward was in preaching the Gospel. (v.18, 23).
Note his passion for preaching (v.15-18).

I love what Paul models here - a deep commitment to be a window, not a wall. A resolution to help people see Jesus and not hinder the sightlines.

Think about your own life - what issues can represent walls in your life that hinder the sightlines from people seeing Jesus as a result of knowing you? I realize that some might say, “I don’t feel like I am a wall, perhaps more like a dirty window.”

To be a better window, we need to deal with the sin that distorts the sightlines. I am sure you can think of all kinds of sin issues that prevent people from seeing Jesus in you. However, note that what Paul is giving up (the right to be paid) is not necessarily wrong, but in that context it’s a real hindrance to helping people see Jesus. What have been some of your rights that you have given up so that people can see Jesus in you?
Here is one example - you might have the right to say something in a tense relational interaction but because of your heart to be a window not a wall , you back off – it’ss all about timing.
Got other examples?

Note that for other disciples it was okay to collect a wage. Paul mentions this in chapter 9. Even Jesus said it was the right of people who preach the Gospel to be paid. We really need discernment on this issue. There is no fixed answer that works in every situation. At times it might be right to exercise your right. At other times it might be wrong to exercise your right!


What do you note?
Slave (v.19) - this is a window word. He was willing to give himself for others’ needs - their need for the Gospel.
“I became like….” Note how many times you find this phrase or its close cousin in these verses.

He accommodates his style of living, not his theological or ethical principles, to whomever he is with so as better to win that person to Christ. He is, in short, flexible in his general lifestyle—food, clothing, and the like.
Jews - those under the law
Gentiles - those not having the law
Weak - in this verse refers to Jews and Gentiles together in a state of unbelief and so was intended to summarize Paul’s previously stated convictions (cf. Rom. 5:6 where “the weak” are also called “the ungodly”). Some also believe the weak could refer to those referred to in 1 Corinthians 8.

Who modeled this perfectly without compromise, and without sin? (Philippians 2)

Paul saw himself as a slave, called of God to serve people, helping them see and hear the Gospel.

The church has often been guilty of two extremes on this issue. On the one end the church is guilty of pulling away, being disconnected from society. On the other end, the church has been guilty of being so much like the world (a Corinthian problem) that there is no difference, and then, of course, scandals soon follow. Jesus was in the middle - in the world but uncompromised.

Talk about this tension, danger and balance.

Here are some further questions for you to ponder:
 Who is it that God is asking you to be a window for?
 What does it mean to become like them?
 How is this model different than what you might be used to? (For example, the Church used to be big on the “invite”. Instead, Paul is big on becoming like them, entering their space.)

As we wrap lets think about these three words:
Passion - Notice in v.16 Paul says he is “compelled” to preach. It is a word that refers to the state of being absolutely required- a force or a compulsion. How passionate are you when it comes to being a window for the Gospel? I sometimes struggle with this - my passion levels. Anyone else? Do you need to pray about it?
Slave - I don’t always see people around me as people who I have an opportunity to serve. If the Gospel is true, should we not be a church full of slaves? Should we not see the city as a place to come alongside people far from God and help them see Jesus in our actions and in our words?
Reward - Is my heart set on the right reward? (v.18,23; 10:33)

“You make a better wall (insert “door” here if it makes you feel good) than a window!” Might that not be said of us individually, or corporately.

Mark Kotchapaw
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact