Bring some Spirit-filled peace into your hectic schedule every weekday morning with this new Daily Devotional.
- Start your day with God
- Renew your spirit
- Refocus your faith
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'The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.'
Paul was absolutely sure that the cross of Jesus stood right at the heart of his life and ministry. Nothing was more important than the fact that God showed his perfect love for us by sending Jesus to die the most excruciatingly painful death for us. It was, if you like, the lens through which Paul saw everything. For him it was the most wonderful message in the world communicating God’s love and power and the way in which he could bring peace into the world. So Paul was determined to take every opportunity to speak about the cross.
'I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way.'
If you know anything at all about the church in Corinth you will know that it was a disaster area. Everything seemed to be going wrong. They were divided. They had a case of incest in the church and nothing had been done to sort it out. Their times of worship were an embarrassment. They totally misunderstood what the gifts of the Spirit were for, and viewed them competitively. It’s hard to find anything to celebrate but look how Paul starts this letter. He gives thanks for them and for the way in which God had blessed them and rejoices in the way that through Jesus God has enriched them in every way. I love this! He could have kicked off the letter with a long list of moans, but he doesn’t. He begins with encouragement.
'For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.'
When you first hear that the Bible is a holy book you might expect that it would steer well clear of subjects such as murder, adultery and abuse. However, in fact the Bible confronts all of these issues on many occasions. Here in Proverbs the writer comments in detail about the temptations of immoral women. He speaks of the way in which they ply their trade and he wants to warn his son of the threat that they pose. They come across as attractive and welcoming. Their words are flattering and enticing. They know how to lure the unsuspecting into their trap. But be warned! The outcome will be a disaster because in fact the path they are offering is as bitter as poison and as dangerous as a double-edged sword. They will lure their victims to death.
'The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over.'
I have spent most of my life living in towns or cities which means that I have had very little experience of darkness. However, when I lived in a village in India I found out exactly what it was like. I can recall occasions when I would walk around on our compound without a single clue as to what was in front of me. Pathetically I would reach out my hands in the hope that I would feel a building or tree before I collided with it. Such complete darkness is very threatening and it isn’t surprising that the Bible often uses it as a picture of living without God. With none of his light to shine on life’s path it is certain that a person will spend their life stumbling about, lurching from one danger to the next.
'Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold.'
Proverbs spends a lot of time reflecting on wealth and the question is – where can you find it? I find it fascinating that the writer often speaks of the preciousness of silver and gold. Some things don’t change. Last year, when the Covid crisis started biting, the price of silver and gold shot up, as people looked for a safe haven for their wealth. Isn’t it fascinating that after thousands of years, even though the world has changed out of all recognition, people are still trying to find safety in the same place?
'Honour the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.'
If you have ever supported a charity by getting involved in a door-to-door collection you will, I am sure, have gained deep insights into the different way in which people give their money. A few people just aren’t interested and shut the door quickly. Others are clearly eager to get rid of you but are overwhelmed by a desire to be polite and so grab some loose change and quickly pop it in your collecting box. And others thank you for going to the trouble of visiting and joyfully make a contribution. There are many different ways of giving, and here the writer encourages us to give God the best.
'Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.'
Trusting is something we do all the time. We trust mechanics, electricians, gas engineers, teachers, police, judges, doctors, nurses – the list could go on and on. But the fact is that our trust in them can never be complete, because they are human. They will have good days but, sadly, they will have some bad ones as well. And occasionally, and mercifully this is rare, there are some people who are completely untrustworthy and let us down completely.
'A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.'
Just imagine if someone were to walk onto a battlefield wearing casual clothes and whistling a merry tune to themselves. The thought is absurd. No one would do that. If you knew that you were heading into battle then, obviously, you would go fully equipped. Paul has made it absolutely clear to his readers that they are an Easter People. He has informed them that they have nothing short of the resurrection power of God at work in their lives. But, at the same time, he has reminded them that they are involved in a daily struggle with the powers of evil. Paul’s conclusion, as he draws this letter to an end, is that they must go into every day fully equipped for the battles that they are going to face.
'Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.'
Do you like change? If I’m honest I have a love hate relationship with change and I suspect we’re all a bit like that. There is much about life that is comfortable and congenial and I would be happy if it stayed the way it is, but there are other things that I would be happy to change in an instant. In these verses Paul confronts us with the fact that, as Easter people, we need to get used to the fact that God is looking for revolutionary change in our lives. And he wants that because his desire is that our lives should be completely blessed, and not merely an improvement on what they used to be.
'Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.'
The resurrection of Jesus is so completely amazing that it needs to challenge every aspect of our thinking about life. It needs to take us on to a new level. If God was like us then it would be understandable if we expected only ordinary and predictable things to happen in life. But he isn’t like us. He was able to bring his son Jesus back to life again, and so we need to stop expecting ordinary and predictable things to happen and to expect him to do infinitely more than we can even imagine.