Thursday, January 5, 2017, 10:22 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “A Believer’s Prayer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 16:5-24 (Select vv. NIV).
A Great Door (vv. 8-9)
But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
Wherever God is at work in people’s hearts, Satan is there opposing that work. When God opens a door for effective work for the sake of the gospel, Satan is there trying to slam it shut in people’s faces. If he can’t get people to stop believing the truth that they hear, he will try to discredit and/or discourage and dishearten the Lord’s messengers so that they will stop preaching the gospel. Yet, we should consider opposition a good sign in that it means the ministry is effective, and people’s lives are being changed, otherwise why would Satan bother? He bothers because he knows his own kingdom is in jeopardy, and that if he wants to keep it, he must fight for it. Of course, we know he will not win because Jesus already conquered him via his death on a cross and via his resurrection back to life, i.e. we know how the story ends.
Because we know how the story ends, this should encourage us to keep persevering and to not give up hope, even when all seems (appears) utterly hopeless. We should keep walking in the Spirit, and not according to the flesh. We must continue living to please our Lord in all we do and say, and we should not get discouraged or be afraid of the opposition. Instead, we must keep the faith and trust in the Lord and in his many promises to us. If he has called us, he will empower us, and he will equip us, and he will supply all we need to do the work to which he has called us, even despite false accusations against us, and persecution, and the enemy’s continual attacks against us to try to get us to give up, or to trip us up. Satan is powerful, for sure, but he is no match for our God. Everything and everyone is subject to God. Satan can do nothing but what God permits it, and for a purpose. So, we should never fear what Satan or man might do to us.
Nothing to Fear (vv. 10-11a)
When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. No one, then, should treat him with contempt.
There are people in this world who are godly people, who are serving the Lord with much spiritual fervor, but who are regularly being treated with contempt (scorn) because they preach the gospel of Jesus Christ as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it, and people don’t want to hear it, even many who call themselves Christians and ministers of the gospel of Christ.
So many people today will no longer put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear (2 Tim. 4:3). And, this is prevalent in today’s institutional church here in America. So much of the church has been so modernized that they have basically kicked the Holy Spirit right out of their meetings in favor of following the ways of man, and man-made business and marketing schemes for how to build their “churches,” i.e. their corporations of human origin.
So, they have diluted the gospel to make it not offensive to the people of the world, and they have turned their worship services into stage productions for the purpose of entertaining the world, so the world will feel comfortable and non-threatened in their meetings. What is wrong with this picture? Is the gospel not to be an offense to those who are perishing? Is it not to bring with it conviction of sin and a call to repentance and obedience to Christ and his Word? Yes! But, those who preach such a gospel are tagged as intolerant, bigoted, hateful, disunifiers, dividers, legalistic, and the like.
So, this is an encouragement to the body of Christ to not treat the Lord’s messengers and the gospel of Jesus Christ with contempt, but to listen to the Lord and to his Word so we can discern who is from God and who is not, and so we don’t end up persecuting those who are the Lord’s true servants while embracing those who are, in reality, working for the enemy.
Be Courageous (vv. 13-14)
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.
It takes much courage to keep on speaking in Jesus’ name and to keep sharing the truth of the gospel of our salvation when we are faced with many who oppose the full gospel message, who treat us unjustly, and when we are rejected, abandoned, falsely accused and ill-treated because we stand on the truth of God’s word and we do not compromise our faith to be accepted. Although some people may think we are religious fanatics and that we need to be more “normal,” and do the kinds of things other people do, so we don’t stand out like a sore thumb, our Lord has called us to be different, and separated from the world, and to live as strangers on this earth in reverent fear of God. So, that is what we must do, no matter what!
We must exercise much spiritual discernment with regard to those who would oppose us, so we know how we are to respond to them. The Bible gives us multiple instructions on how we are to treat those who oppose us. We are to love our enemies, pray for them, do good to them, and desire what is best for them, and not repay evil for evil. Yet, we are to speak the truth in love, confront wrongdoing, expose the fruitless deeds of darkness, and call people to repentance and to obedience to Christ. But, sometimes, when they oppose us we are to brush the dust off our sandals and leave, while other times we are to remain and keep speaking even in spite of the opposition. If our enemy is hungry, we are to feed him. If he is thirsty, we are to give him something to drink. Does this include spiritual hunger and thirst? Surely it does! If God saved Paul, who was a persecutor of Christians, he can save even the fiercest of our opponents, can he not?
All in all, we must do everything in love. So, we have to ask ourselves what is the loving thing to do, yet not loving by human standards, but by God’s standards, i.e. preferring what God prefers. Love doesn’t give up hope. It perseveres even when all looks hopeless. It believes even when the path ahead appears dark and dreary. And, it lays down its own life and reputation for the life of another, that he or she may be saved and have eternal life.
Refreshing Others’ Spirits (v. 18)
For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.
We all need encouragement, don’t we? And, by encouragement I don’t mean people to pat us on the back and to tell us we are ok, when we aren’t, or to deliver to us flattery, which is insincere, and is not loving at all. We need people who will be honest with us, but who will do so in love, with our best interest in mind.
If we are not doing what is right, we need people who will love us enough to tell us the truth, who will urge and persuade and help us to change course, even if we might be ones who might resist them. We need people who won’t give up on us, but who will stay the course, and who will keep praying for us, and who will keep believing God to make us into who he wants us to be.
But, if we are doing what is right, we need people who will inspire and cheer us on, who will offer us words of comfort and hope. If we are following the Lord in obedience, it is helpful to know there are those who are praying for us, and who are standing with us in spirit as we continue to share the gospel in spite of all opposition. We need to be ones who refresh one another’s spirits, in other words, because our enemy is working hard against us.
A Believer’s Prayer / An Original Work / July 31, 2012
With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.
Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.
Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.