Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 13 May 2022:
Numbers 14:38 — Of those men who went to spy out the land, only Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive.
“The decisions and disobedience of others will not cancel God’s will for you. Other people’s actions will affect you, but no one can prevent what God wants to do in and through you. Joshua and Caleb trusted God and yet were forced to wander in a wilderness for forty years because of the fear and disbelief of others.
Have you ever felt that someone was thwarting God’s will for you? Perhaps someone kept you from getting a job or earning a promotion. Perhaps the government would not approve your application or a committee disagreed with your recommendation. Do you believe that mere man can stop God from accomplishing His purposes in your life? God did everything He intended to do in the lives of Joshua and Caleb. His primary assignment for them had not been to enter the Promised Land but rather to serve as godly leaders for their people. Joshua and Caleb could not lead the people if they were in the Promised Land by themselves while the people were still wandering in the wilderness! God kept these leaders in a position where they could exert a godly influence upon their nation, and, as a result, they became models of spiritual leadership for generations to come. Even so, God ultimately brought Caleb and Joshua into the Promised Land just as He had said. They had been delayed but not thwarted. Be assured of this: No one can hinder God from carrying out His plans for your life. Once God sets something in motion, no one can stop it (Isa. 46:11).” (Henry T. Blackaby)
1 Corinthians 7:5 – “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Satan tempts us by targeting our lack of self-control. Self-control is a spiritual gift that must be empowered by the Spirit. Pray for self-control.
1 Corinthians 7:12-15 — God expects us to take responsibility for our decisions and to keep our vows, regardless of the personal cost. It takes faith to believe that God will bring good out of a bad situation.
1 Corinthians 7:17-24 — Our circumstances are not what matter most but rather what we do in our circumstances, how we respond. We should focus on being faithful and obedient right where God has placed us and walk by faith knowing that God will direct our obedient path. We cannot control our circumstances, but we can control our decisions. Often God will test you with circumstances, not so He can see what is truly in your heart but so that you can see what is truly in your heart. Pay attention to your responses.
1 Corinthians 7:21 — “But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.”
Seek as much freedom as you can in life that you can more freely serve The Lord. However, don’t use a lack of freedom as an excuse for disobedience.
1 Corinthians 7:21, 24 — “Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity….) So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.”
We tend to worry too much about our circumstances and not enough about how we are responding to our circumstances. We tend to worry too much about where we are and not enough about why we have been placed there by God. No matter where we find ourselves or how we got there, we are surrounded by opportunities to both glorify God and enjoy His presence. Whether in a palace or a prison, we can testify to the glory of God. The Lord has placed us in our current situations for His purposes. If we can improve our conditions, then that is great. However, we need to make the most of the opportunities God has placed in front of us today, where we are now. If we are not careful, we can become so concerned with what we don’t have or where we wish we were, that we fail to appreciate what we do have right in front of us in the place where God wanted us all along. Consider the lives of people like Noah, Joseph, Moses, David, and the many other people we have read about who God used mightily. None of them would have chosen the paths down which God led them; but if they had chosen their own paths, they would not have developed the character and competence that made them so usable by God, nor would they have experienced the close relationships with God that they enjoyed. It is exciting to know the God has placed you in your current circumstances on purpose. Remain faithful with today, and see what develops for tomorrow.
1 Corinthians 7:25-40 — As a general rule, we should seek to remain as free of contractual obligations or debts as reasonably possible. We should maintain as much personal freedom as possible and avoid entanglements with the world. We should live life as simply as possible, avoiding the temptation to make things complicated and stressful. “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
1 Corinthians 7:32 — I want you to be free from anxieties.
” By numerous measures, people’s lives today are safer and better than at any other time in history. Yet, we are constantly crippled by panic and anxiety. What if there was something that would put all the chaos and turmoil of our political systems, global pandemics, societal unrest, and environmental, economic, and ethical problems into perspective? What if you could be free from anxieties? This is the Apostle Paul’s wish for you: “I want you to be free from anxieties” (1 Cor. 7:32). But how?
We need to identify the cause of our anxiety. Matthew Henry’s commentary on 1 Corinthians laid out five common causes of anxiety. The first is our relationships. Paul’s primary point about relationships in 1 Corinthians is this: Undue emphasis on any human relationship adversely affects your relationship with Christ. If your comfort, hope, or rest is in other people, they will eventually let you down, hurt you, or fail you. We must not look to others to fill the place that only Christ can.
The second cause is afflictions. “Mourn as though they were not mourning” (v. 30). Do not indulge in your sorrows. Let go of your sorrow and pain. You invite anxiety into your life when you hold afflictions close to your heart. Instead, meet your sorrow with a holy joy, knowing that God intends good for you (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28).
The third cause is enjoyments. We don’t often think of enjoyments as a source of anxiety, but when our pursuit of the next pleasure becomes primary, the result is anxiety. Matthew Henry said: “Be moderate in mirth and sit loose to the enjoyments you most value. Here is not your rest.”
The fourth cause is wealth. Jesus’ parable of the great banquet in Luke 14 warns of how wealth can draw us away from what is best. The tighter you grip your possessions, the tighter they grip you.
The fifth cause is worldly concerns. “Those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it” (v. 31). Martin Luther said, “Use what is available but do not sink too deeply into love or desire with it.” Consume but take care that you are not consumed. Worldly concerns make fertile the soil of anxiety.
The reason these cause anxiety is a matter of perspective. Paul tells us that the “appointed time has grown very short” (v. 29) and “the present form of the world is passing away” (v. 31). Anxiety takes root when we fail to see life with an eternal perspective. Consider: “In a thousand years, what will I think about this thing which causes me so much anxiety?” The answer is probably not much.
Instead, replace your anxiety with the good, the true, and the beautiful (Phil. 4:8). Fill your life with God’s Word, because it is God’s Word that points us most clearly to Jesus Christ. He is the wellspring of all that is ultimately good, true, and beautiful. Look to Christ and see your anxieties pass away.” (Ligonier Ministries)
1 Corinthians 7:39 — “A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives.”
Marriage is permanent, whether you, the government, or anyone else says otherwise.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 13 May 22: Wait on the Lord to avenge you when you are wronged. Only return good for evil. Have the faith to wait on the Lord. Consider your suffering to be a gift of love and sacrifice to God and to the offender. (1 Sam 24:12-15) Also, consider what commitments you have made that only hinder your ability to serve The Lord to your fullest potential. Free yourself of those commitments where you can. Avoid new commitments that don’t support your ability to serve The Lord. (1 Cor 7:21-24)