1 Corinthians 1  (The Message Version unless otherwise noted)
 1-2I, Paul, have been called and sent by Jesus, the Messiah, according to God’s plan, along with my friend Sosthenes. I send this letter to you in God’s church at Corinth, believers cleaned up by Jesus and set apart for a God-filled life. I include in my greeting all who call out to Jesus, wherever they live. He’s their Master as well as ours!

Jesus, am I “cleaned up” and “set apart for a God-filled life”?  Wow, I am!  How can it be?  Me – no way.  But I am not living up to that calling.  It is time for things to change Jesus.  I’ve been praying about it and talking about it, it is time to do it.  Obviously You have set me apart.  I need to totally break away from my old ways and my old life.  I need to be radical for You and live for a God-filled life.  Help me Holy Spirit to fulfill this calling.  Help me be “cleaned up”, “set apart” and “God-filled”.  Thank-You and praise You Lord Jesus Christ!

 3May all the gifts and benefits that come from God our Father, and the Master, Jesus Christ, be yours.

Jesus, the prayer is for the gifts and benefits that come from You.  I know every good thing is from You.  Help me to accept all the good things You offer, and to not desire those things that aren’t from You.  And Lord, the world offers so much that is not from You.  Help me to know the difference.  Holy Spirit open me to the things of God, and close me to the things of this world.  

 4-6Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There’s no end to what has happened in you—it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.

Jesus, is there evidence of You in my life?  Does anyone come to know You because of me?  Why is my life such a mess?  Lord, use this mess for your glory.  I don’t know how that could happen, but with You all things are possible.  change me so my life is full of evidence of Your love. 

 7-9Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale.

Jesus, I am sure You have given me so much that I can’t begin to comprehend it.  I know You must be disappointed in how I have failed to change and use Your gifts as You intended.  Holy Spirit, please awaken me to Your poser in my life and give me faith to see, and accept, and use for Your glory, all the gifts You have given me. 

And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.

God, how can You be here in this mess?  My family is a complete disaster.  My marriage is nothing but one constant fight.  My children are all going to have miserable lives because they were raised in a awful home.  How can You be here in this mess?  Where are You God?

What am I to do now?  It looks like all I can do is give up.  My wife has taken complete control of everything, and she is driving the children out of the house.  I know she wants them gone.  I am falling apart.  I have a little girl who stands no chance of having a future if she live with us.

Where are You God?   

The Cross: The Irony of God’s Wisdom

 10I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.

Jesus, how can my family ever get along?  We are so far apart now, I can’t imagine it changing.  Lord, show us the way.  Change me so I can help instead of hurt.  Give me strength and leadership so someone will find hope in me.  Really Lord, I need to find hope in You.  I can’t take much more of this division.  I feel like I am 12 years old and back at the farm, but it is worse because I am the problem now.  Maybe I was the problem back then too.  I am desperate Lord.  Give us peace.  

 11-12I bring this up because some from Chloe’s family brought a most disturbing report to my attention—that you’re fighting among yourselves! I’ll tell you exactly what I was told: You’re all picking sides, going around saying, “I’m on Paul’s side,” or “I’m for Apollos,” or “Peter is my man,” or “I’m in the Messiah group.”

 13-16I ask you, “Has the Messiah been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own? Was Paul crucified for you? Was a single one of you baptized in Paul’s name?” I was not involved with any of your baptisms—except for Crispus and Gaius—and on getting this report, I’m sure glad I wasn’t. At least no one can go around saying he was baptized in my name. (Come to think of it, I also baptized Stephanas’s family, but as far as I can recall, that’s it.)

Jesus, Holy Spirit, give us unity.  Obviously division is a very bad thing.  Give me unity in my heart so I truly live only for the glory of God.  Give me unity in my family.  We are so divided.  I am supposed to be the leader, but I am not.  My wife doesn’t feel she can be submissive to someone she sees as a mistake.  My children just want out of the war zone.  Holy Spirit, is there even hope for unity?  Change me, start with me, whatever it takes.  Change me.  

 17God didn’t send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center—Christ on the Cross—be trivialized into mere words.

Jesus, Your crucifixion is the center of everything.  Is that the center for a pure heart in me?  Do I need to completely crucify my life here on earth and live only for You?  How far do I need to go yet?  What am I holding back?  Where am I going wrong?  What am i holding on to?  I am so confused Lord.  I think I am to listen to You and Your word only, without regard for how those actions will bring pain to my life.  How do I get my mind to turn to You for every word and action?  How do I change?  Where am I missing it now?  

 18-21The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written,

   I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head,
   I’ll expose so-called experts as crackpots.

Father, You are a God of irony.  New life comes through Your own Son’s death.  Growth comes through hardship.  Pain brings true healing.  What our minds tell us is wise, is foolish…and what we think is foolish is wise.  Help me remember Father to “lean not on my own understanding”.  Help me to trust You in all Your ways.  It is hard Father.  Send Your Spirit to increase my faith.

And thank you Father that I don’t have to understand everything.  I would be overwhelmed if I knew what the future held and had to prepare myself for it.  But because You love me, I can rest and trust in You.  Help me to do that.  Help me to be the child and You be the Father.  

So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.

 22-25While Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified. Jews treat this like an anti-miracle—and Greeks pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God himself (I still wonder why You called me.  Thank-you so much!) —both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.”

Jesus, I do have a tendency to think I know more than I do.  I often think I can or have figured something out, just to have it blow up in my face.  I rely on my own strength, even though my strength is weakness.  When I look at my home and family right now, I see how weak I am.  Help me to lean on Your strength.  Help me trust in You and Your plan.  Help me accept, and even relish, my own weakness so I can know Your strength.  

 26-31Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”

Jesus, You have chosen those that society didn’t want.  I wonder if I had been popular when I was Young, if I would know You now?  I certainly have nothing to offer You Jesus.  You could never need me.  But I certainly need You.  I need Your love and comfort.  I need Your hope.  I need to brag about You more.  I need Your help in ways I can’t imagine.