Ask Your Preacher
Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading? Does this refer to preachers not getting paid? Or people in the ministry serving? Not being compensated? Forgive me, but I don’t have the context of what Paul is saying here.
Dear Cattle Call,
In 1 Cor 9:9, Paul says, “Don’t muzzle an ox when he is treading out the grain.” Oxen were often used to break up the grain and grind it using a giant wheel or other similar methods that employed animal power to break up the grain. In the Old Testament, God commanded that an ox that was being used to work the grain should be allowed to eat while it worked (i.e. it shouldn’t be muzzled – Deut 25:4). In 1st Corinthians 9, Paul is comparing that command given for the benefit of working animals to the attitude we should take toward those who are preaching the gospel (1 Cor 9:10-11). Just like an ox that treads the grain deserves a bite of that grain from time to time, preachers who dedicate their lives to the gospel have every right to be paid for their work (1 Cor 9:14).
What is the purpose of the communion? We call it “Nattverd” (this question was received from the Netherlands – AYP). I know it is to connect and participate in Jesus’ sufferings, but could you please tell a little more?
Natt-Sure About Nattverd
Dear Natt-Sure About Nattverd,
Christ told us that whenever we take the Lord’s Supper, we should do it in remembrance of Him (Lk 22:19). In the book of Acts, we see how often the church observed the Lord’s Supper. In Acts 20:7, we see that christians ‘broke the bread’ in remembrance of Christ on Sundays. That is when they did it, so that is when we do it.
In 1 Cor. 11:26-29, we are told that we should use the Lord’s Supper to contemplate and examine whether our lives are genuinely dedicated to Christ. We can know whether our lives are faithful by the fruits we are bearing (Matt 7:16-20). When you get ready to take the Lord’s Supper next Sunday (Acts 20:7), ask yourself what kind of life you have lived this week. Examine your life and whether or not it genuinely belongs to Christ, and you will have fulfilled the commandment of 1 Cor 11:28.
Paul says that we are to take the Lord’s Supper when the church is gathered together (1 Cor 11:20). Taking the Lord’s Supper each Sunday is an act of worship done by every congregation of the Lord. Christ commands that we do it in remembrance of Him (1 Cor 11:23-28), the church gives us the example of doing it on the first day of the week, and Paul teaches that we should examine ourselves during the Lord’s Supper.
What can a church do when they outgrow their building but do not have the money to build or buy a new one?
Busting At The Seams
Dear Busting At The Seams,
What a wonderful problem! Church buildings have always been an expediency for a local church to assemble and fulfill the commands found in Heb 10:24-25, Acts 20:7, and 1 Cor 16:1-2, etc. The word ‘expedient’ means ‘convenient or practical’. The command for the church to assemble has to be fulfilled somehow, and church buildings have often been a convenient and practical way to do that… but in your situation, the building is no longer practical or convenient.
A congregation doesn’t need to own a building to be faithful. Renting out a school gymnasium, movie theater, or other facility is just as Scriptural and in your case, probably more expedient since it is cheaper than purchasing a facility. The issue of where and how to meet is a matter of wisdom, not right or wrong. A congregation that is getting too big for the space they are in can do everything from starting a second congregation in a nearby town to renting a larger facility for Sunday worship. It is just a matter of what is the most convenient and practical solution to a problem that is really a blessing.
I pray everyday and sometimes feel like I'm sayings the same things, asking for the same things, giving thanks for the same things. It seems all so repetitive even though I pray from my heart. I wonder if God thinks the same thing sometimes, and it kind of weighs heavy on my heart. Can you help me with this? I can't imagine not talking to Him everyday just because I worry that I'm being repetitive.
It’s Me Again
Dear It’s Me Again,
Feel free to pray for the same thing as often as you’d like, but avoid lengthy speeches just for the sake of repetition. If by repetition, you mean that you are saying the same things over and over in hopes that God will listen because you use a lot of words… that is wrong (Matt 6:7).
But if you are praying meaningfully for the same things consistently, that isn’t wrong at all. Jesus gives the example of the widow and the unrighteous judge as the standard for repetition in prayer. In Lk 18:1-7, we are told to always pray and never grow weary in it. Samuel said that he would never cease to pray for the good will of Israel (1 Sam 12:23). Jesus says to pray constantly for our daily bread (Lk 11:3). Both of these are examples of repetitive prayer. Lk 11:5-8 explains that prayer is like constantly knocking at a door until the homeowner gets up to answer. As long as we preface our wishes with a willingness to submit to God’s will (1 Jn 5:14-15) – we should keep on praying.
The recent questions on tithing have got me thinking. If someone gives out of their personal funds to things related to their specific congregation... say, they buy class materials or pitch in for building upkeep. Could that be considered as part of their giving for the week? We are on a strict budget and sometimes have to buy things for the church but feel bad if when the collection plate rolls around on Sunday morning, we've already spent that money earlier in the week.
On A Shoestring
Dear On A Shoestring,
There is nothing wrong with factoring other spending you do on behalf of the church into your giving, but the biggest thing you need to do is to factor these things in at the beginning and not when Sunday rolls around. 2 Cor 9:7 says that we should “purpose in our hearts” what we should give, and 1 Cor 16:1-3 talks about giving in a purposeful, planned way. If we are reading your question right, what is happening is that you have a budget, and whatever is left at the end of that budget is what you give. That is the opposite of how giving should be done. When you first get money, you should plan ahead what you will give (factor in extra church giving expenditures you may need to prepare for), set that money aside, and then the decision is made well before the plate comes by. That way, you can feel confident that what you are giving is purposeful and cheerfully planned.