Live as a Believer

Day 235

Prayer for the day

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.

Scripture for the day

Psalm 116-118, 1 Corinthians 7:1-19

There are so many times in the life of a Christian when he is faced with significant moral dilemma. The question he is to continually ask himself is this: “how can I be a faithful follower of Jesus in this situation?”

I’ve spent a lot of time with Christians, and I know that in these difficult circumstances, this is sometimes, but rarely, the first question that is asked. All kinds of other considerations crowd into the thinking process until it’s almost impossible for the Christian to say what he should do or even why he should do what he should do.

Paul has some advice for those who are struggling. Some are struggling with this new “life in Christ” in a bunch of different areas: marriage, sexuality, circumcision, eating and drinking and worshipping and everything! Paul, interestingly, gives the same advice to all of these struggles: life as a believer. Set aside the way you previously thought, worrying about pragmatism and practicality and all of those things, and simply live as the creator designed you to live.

This may seem like simple advice on the surface, though it is anything but. The life of Christ is a life that is deliberately lived, a life that requires constant vigilance and thought, constant regard for what is happening and how God would have us act in each situation.

There is one thing that helps us live this life more successfully: the love of God.

The Psalmist is fascinated, captivated, and apprehended by the love of God. The love of God, says the Psalmist, endures forever. No matter how difficult life becomes, no matter how difficult the decisions we must make as a believer are, the love of God endures, maintains, and upholds the faithful.

And that’s a comforting thought!

Bodies

Day 234

Prayer for the day

As the deer longs for the water-brooks, so longs my soul for you, O God.

Scripture for the day

Psalm 113-115, 1 Corinthians 6

There are some people who believe that Paul was a sexually frustrated prude which was why he seems to focus so much on sexuality. I have to grant that it certainly MAY be the case, but it is by no means the only reason Paul seems to have a lot to say about sex. One far more important reason is that sex matters.

Sex is both way too important in our society and way too casual. Paul is trying to properly locate sexuality, place it in its proper context so that we understand why we have bodies, why we have our sexuality, and what we do with them.

Sex, for Paul, is not simply about the act of our body. It is more than an act and it must be appropriately contextualized. For Paul (and for us), God’s plan for sexuality is a couple who loves, committed to one another for life. Sex is complicated, but Paul believes we over-complicate it when we try to mix it and prioritize it in ways that are inappropriate or outside of God’s design. The idea is to submit ourselves, body and soul, to the God who created our bodies and souls.

The Psalmist speaks of our bodies in different ways but with the same point. He claims that it is God who gives children to the childless woman, the one who redeems not only the soul but the body as well, the one who cares not only for our spirits but our bodies also.

Our bodies matter to God. Our sexuality, our hands, our feet, our voices…everything about us matters to God.

Because everything about us matters to God, we need to surrender everything about ourselves to God. That means bodies, spirits, souls, hands, feet, faces, voices…everything about us belongs to him. Let’s surrender.

Be Not Proud…

Day 233

Prayer for the day

Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me; LORD, be my helper.

Scripture for the day

Psalm 110-112, 1 Corinthians 5

Have you ever met someone who’s incredible proud of something they’ve done, and it’s something you’re pretty sure should never have been done? Maybe it was a sinful activity, maybe something that should never be done? Or maybe you’ve met someone who has fit in a little too well with the unbelieving around them and are proud of their chameleon abilities.

In either case, what we see is improper pride, sinful pride in sinful behaviour. It is what Paul calls the Corinthian Christians on. He is concerned that they are not only tolerating significant and unrepentant sin in their midst, but that they are condoning it and taking pride in it.

I don’t know why they were proud. Maybe they were proud of how progressive they were. Maybe they were proud of how much they would tolerate, how gracious they were, how they didn’t let little things like the commands of Jesus keep them from welcoming every sin into their midst.

Paul is concerned not only about the contaminating effects of sin but also of the danger of condoning this type of behaviour. Instead of condoning, says Paul, this kind of behaviour needs to be rooted out and led into repentance.

The Psalmist speaks not of the importance of intolerance toward sin but instead of what would happen if we actually worried about following the commands of God.

The Psalmist proposes the cure to condoning sin: fear of the Lord. Fear of the Lord does not only mean being scared…fear of the Lord means having a healthy understanding and respect for God, understanding his call to holiness and his demand for purity. Fear of the Lord means knowing your God and following him as he would have you follow him.

Let’s follow.

Agreed

Day 232

Prayer for the day

Love the LORD, all you who worship him; the LORD protects the faithful, but repays to the full those who act haughtily.

Scripture for the day

Psalm 107-109, 1 Corinthians 4

“He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.”

Paul discusses a life of integrity when he speaks to the church at Corinth. He says that Timothy’s job is to remind all of the people there that Paul’s life and way of life in faith matches what he preaches everywhere.

This seems a simple thing: live the way you preach. However, it has to be one of the most difficult things to live out. Life is tough, and living a life of integrity is equally difficult.

The life of integrity requires a few things: it requires that we preach the truth, and it requires that we live the truth. It requires that what we preach and what we do always, ALWAYS, match.

The Psalmist has a similar concern for the people of Israel. The people of Israel regularly viewed themselves as the righteous ones, the ones who were favoured by God. What the Psalmist exhorts them to do is to live according to the strictures and statues God has put in place. To help them do that, the Psalmist reminds them of all the times this has not happened. He reminds them of the times they have failed God, rejected God, and given God a reason to be displeased with them.

Between Paul and the Psalmist, we learn from these passages that God desires people who live according to what God says, and desires people who speak according to what God says. He desires people who match their actions to the words they say, and who match the words they say to the God they serve.

Let us be people of integrity.

Milk and Meat

Day 231

Prayer for the day

I will give thanks for what you have done and declare the goodness of your Name in the presence of the godly.

Scripture for the day

Psalm 105-106, 1 Corinthians 3

If you want to say anything about Paul, you should say he’s blunt. Paul doesn’t pull any punches when he speaks to the church in Corinth. No one likes to be told that they’re immature, that they really aren’t as great as they think they are.

However, Paul doesn’t really seem to care what the Corinthians like. He simply tells them what they need to hear. And what they need to hear is that they’re not who they think they are.

Paul levels a criticism at the Christians in Corinth, telling them that he tried to give them spiritual meat, but they couldn’t handle it. Their maturity was seriously lacking, and so they were unable to take what Paul was trying to teach them. Instead Paul had to give them spiritual milk.

They had to be spoon-fed spiritual milk because they didn’t understand the more mature teaching Paul had offered. This immaturity was manifest in many ways, but particularly in their inability to treat one another with respect and care. They were also unable to discern the difference between following Christ and following Paul or Apollos. And in these two things, Paul has serious concern.

The Psalmist also shows some concern for his people and their maturity. The Psalmist feels the need to regularly re-teach Israel her history because it’s so easy to forget history. They constantly need to be reminded of what God has done for them because they are so forgetful. They have to be reminded regularly that God has saved them time and time again. They need to be reminded that they are God’s people. They need to be reminded that God has given them extraordinary things, done amazing things for them, and they have failed God so regularly. They need to learn to grow up.

Don’t we all?

The Spirit

Day 230

Prayer for the day

Our God will come and will not keep silence; before him there is a consuming flame, and round about him a raging storm.

Scripture for the day

Psalm 103-104, 1 Corinthians 2

How can we be wise? How can we be strong? How can we forge ahead in life in the wisdom of God?

The answer, says Paul and says the Psalmist, is to be filled by the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Holy Spirit, to be enlivened and given wisdom and discernment by the Holy Spirit, is to see the mind of God in how it applies to life here on earth.

To be filled with the Spirit is not necessarily the speaking in tongues, flipping around on the ground, hands in the air business that it has been portrayed to be. The scriptures say much about the Spirit and the Spirit’s role in the life of the believer, but most of those statements have to do with the fruit that is produced in the believer rather than the signs of that Spirit.

And what does this fruit look like? The believer who is filled with the Spirit has the things of God revealed to her. The believer filled with the Spirit is wise, but not wise like the world thinks. The believer filled with the Spirit is wise in the things of God. They will understand the things of God and they will discern the things of God.

Not only will the Spirit-filled believer be able to discern the things of God, the Spirit-filled believer will be able to judge things, believe things, and test things that are or are not of God. In short, the Spirit-filled believer will have the Spirit of God living in him, and so will no longer think only his own thoughts, but be privy to the thoughts of the Most High.

Be filled.

Weak and Foolish

Day 229

Prayer for the day

Sing with joy to God our strength and raise a loud shout to the God of Jacob.

Scripture for the day

Psalm 100-102, 1 Corinthians 1

Life is full of sorrow. Life is full of pain. Whether we’re rich or poor, whether we’re married or single, whether we’re loved or unloved, each of us recognizes that not everything will be roses. Life will be difficult.

It is easy to become disenchanted with the idea of God, someone who will care for those who are downcast and downtrodden. It’s easy to disbelieve in a God who is supposed to care for us when we’re in rough shape.

Yet both Paul and the Psalmist seem to believe that not only does God care for the weak and the sorrowful, not only does God desperately love those who are downtrodden, but God actually shows his greatness and power through weakness, and his wisdom through our foolishness.

How does this work? How is it that we can be weak and God can use that weakness as strength? How is that we can be stupid and foolish and God can use that to demonstrate his own wisdom as well as confounding the wisdom of those who would deem themselves wise?

It happens when God uses weak vessels to do great things. It happens when silly and foolish people follow God because they’re not so busy trying to impress everyone else with their wisdom. It happens when all who are weak and foolish surrender themselves to the one who is strong and wise, and when they do so, they allow God to be who God is, and to act through them to stymie the strength and wisdom of those who believe themselves wise and strong.

It is extraordinary that in the midst of our pain, sorrow, and foolishness, God can demonstrate his power and care to us and through us.

Let us praise him together!