Friday, February 27, 2015

A Final "Stay as You Are" (1 Corinthians 7:39-40)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:39-40

Today’s verses complete Paul’s quite lengthy exhortation to married couples and singles, and he ends by one last “stay as you are” message.

He directs these verses to wives, but I believe the same applies to husbands. As long as we are married, we are to stay married; however, if one spouse predeceases the other, the living spouse is free to remarry. And in most marriages? One spouse usually does predecease the other ...

My husband always says I’m going to outlive him. He bases that on the fact that he’s six and one-half years older than I am and that women usually live longer than men. He also bases it on the fact that all of my grandparents lived well into their eighties, and my paternal grandmother lived to be almost 95. In contrast, his grandparents lived only into their seventies.

Only God knows if I’ll outlive Russ—or if he’ll outlive me. One thing I do know is that I’ll probably “remain as [I am]” should I one day be a widow. I love being married, and I love my husband. However, I see my single friends as they maneuver the perils of dating. It doesn’t look like too much fun to me.

I agree with Paul that I probably would be happier just living for Jesus, being available to do all God calls me to do.

Yet since I pray Russ and I both live to ripe old ages, side by side, I’ll never have to think about being single. That’s my hope.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Serving Whole-heartedly (1 Corinthians 7:32-38)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:32-38

Paul’s concern is that married people cannot “secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” And in many ways, he’s right. I need to make certain I’m devoting time to my husband and to our marriage to make certain that most important relationship stays strong and healthy. Yes, if I weren’t married, I could devote that time to God.

Further, for those of you who have children, your time is divided even more. So yes, the unmarried might indeed have more time and energy to serving God.

But that’s not to say we who are married—and even we who have children—cannot serve God whole-heartedly. In fact, serving and caring for our families is, in many ways, serving God. Those of you who are raising children are called to a purpose with eternal ramifications: You are raising your children to know and love God. I’m sure even Paul would agree how greatly important that calling is.

Just because we may not have the same amount of time to spend in Bible study and prayer doesn’t mean that we’re not able to serve God well. In fact, if we’re called to marriage, to remain single would be a sin.

So, going back to previous verses, do as God has called you and remain in that matter. If God has called you to marriage—and perhaps parenthood—then embrace it, stay faithful to your spouse, and serve God with all your heart. And if God has called you to singleness, then embrace that. And take all the extra time and energy with which He’s blessed you—and serve God with all your heart.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Holding Lightly (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Paul encompasses these verses with two similar thoughts: “… the time has been shortened …” and “… for the form of this world is passing away.” According to Matthew Henry Complete Commentary of the Entire Bible:
It will soon be gone. It is just ready to be wrapped up in eternity. Therefore do not set your hearts on worldly enjoyments. Do not be overwhelmed with worldly cares and troubles. Possess what you must shortly leave without suffering yourselves to be possessed by it. Why should your hearts be much set on what you must quickly resign?
This world is winding down. As it grows more corrupt and its citizens become more antagonistic toward matters of faith, I can’t help but think that Christ’s return is imminent. So we who know truth should hold onto things very, very lightly.

I often use an illustration when I speak. I hold both hands in front of me close-fisted. I then say that we should just give up everything to our faithful, loving, merciful God, and I open my fist, palms facing upward.

Then I smile and say, “But how often do we say, You can have everything except for …” and I close one fist and pull it away.

We truly need to give up everything—everything—to God, for three reasons: Everything is His anyway (see Psalm 89:11); if we leave this earth through death, we’ll leave everything behind anyway; and, if we’re still here when Christ returns, this world and all that’s in it will pass away.

So indeed, hold onto this life, this world, these possessions lightly. For this world is passing away.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Married or Single (1 Corinthians 7:25-28)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:25-28

In the last week or so, we have looked at a few exhortations from Paul on being married or being single. We see more in today's verses. Again, his feelings are very clear: If you’re married, stay married. If you’re single, stay single. Neither is sinful.

More than any other passages, though, Paul states unequivocally that he really feels being single is the better way: “Yet such [married people] will have trouble in this life.” And he’s not far wrong. It takes a lot of work to enjoy a successful, thriving marriage. In many ways, being single is far easier.

Frankly, there are pros and cons for both states. Married couples have constant companionship. They have someone to share the joy and the sorrows of life. On the other hand, singles have the freedom to go where they want when they want. They don’t have to get anyone’s “permission” to move to another country if they want to.

Pray for God’s will for your life. If you feel called to marriage, embrace it and be committed to it. And if God’s calling you to remain single? Enjoy the freedom to serve Him in a way your married friends just can’t.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Freedom ... (1 Corinthians 7:21-24)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:21-24

When we come to know Jesus Christ, we experience true freedom. Freedom from sin. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from the world’s enticements. True freedom.

Our Lord paid the ultimate price for our salvation. Yet, we are still enslaved by some kind of sin. It’s just like Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome: “
I don't understand why I act the way I do. I don't do what I know is right. I do the things I hate” (CEV, 7:15). We’re still at war with the flesh even though we know how Christ provided for our freedom from sin.

We can be assured that “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ” (NASB, Romans 8:1).

I want so much to show my gratitude for all Jesus has done for me. I want to live for Him, not for myself. I want to be a slave to Him, not a slave to the world. And so each day, I have to commit my life to Him. I have to give up my fleshly desires for Him. I have to—no, I want to—honor Him and give Him glory.

Because I know the freedom I have as a daughter of the Most High God. A freedom that will one day give me the privilege of standing before His throne and hear—oh, how I pray this will be true—“Well done, my dear daughter.” I will hear Him say, “…
enter into the joy of your master” (NASB, Matthew  25:21).

Ahh. That’s true freedom.