VIDEO Be Patient, Marriage, Divorce, and Singleness

I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 1 Corinthians 7:26

We’ve all heard the advice: “Count to ten before doing/saying anything you might regret later.” In other words, impulsive, emotionally-based decisions or actions are fraught with the possibility of disappointment. If that is true for everyday decisions, how much more might it be true when making marriage plans? Patience is the watchword when it comes to such life-changing decisions.

The apostle Paul gave such advice to the Corinthian church when he wrote to them about marriage. He said, given the “present distress,” don’t make life-altering decisions. If you are single, remain single; if you are married, remain married. What was the “present distress” of which he wrote? It could have been some sort of crisis in Corinth resulting in hardship, or it might have been simply the challenges of following Christ in an ungodly, antagonistic culture. In other words, sometimes life presents enough “troubles” of its own without making drastic changes impulsively. Marriage is good; singleness is good. Just be patient and seek the Lord’s will and timing.

This advice about marriage applies to all the Christian life: Be patient, seek the Lord, move deliberately and prayerfully.

Don’t look around for a life partner, look up. Anonymous


Marriage, Divorce, and Singleness (1 Corinthians 7:1-40)

Trusting the Bible

When your words came, I ate them. Jeremiah 15:16

Billy Graham, the renowned American evangelist, once described his struggle to accept the Bible as completely true. One night as he walked alone in the moonlight at a retreat center in the San Bernardino Mountains, he dropped to his knees and placed his Bible on a tree stump, able only to “stutter” a prayer: “Oh, God! There are many things in this book I do not understand.”

By confessing his confusion, Graham said the Holy Spirit finally “freed me to say it. ‘Father, I am going to accept this as thy Word—by faith!’ ” When he stood up, he still had questions, but he said, “I knew a spiritual battle in my soul had been fought and won.”

The young prophet Jeremiah fought spiritual battles too. Yet he consistently sought answers in Scripture. “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight” (Jeremiah 15:16). He declared, “The word of the Lord . . . is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones” (20:8–9). Nineteenth-century evangelist Charles Spurgeon wrote, “[Jeremiah] lets us into a secret. His outer life, especially his faithful ministry, was due to his inward love of the word which he preached.”

We too can shape our life through the wisdom of Scripture despite our struggles. We can keep studying, as always, by faith.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

How has your life been shaped by Scripture? As you accept it by faith, how do you expect your life to change?

Heavenly Father, show me new things about You as I read the Bible. Teach me Your ways. Show me Your love.

The Answer for Discouragement

Psalm 42:6-11

Situations in life sometimes cause us to lose hope. Occasional discouragement is normal because it’s part of living in a fallen world. The more important issue is how we respond. As believers, it’s possible for us to experience joy and peace even when our expectations aren’t met.

Following the example in today’s reading, begin by looking upward and telling the Lord that you are in despair. Ask Him to help you place your focus on Him instead of your circumstances. Recognize that it’s not just a situational problem but a spiritual issue as well. Get into God’s Word to discover what He wants to do in your life through the disappointment and pain. Notice how He used hardships in the lives of biblical characters like Joseph and David. Then remember His past faithfulness to you.

You may hurt for a season, but you don’t have to be overwhelmed to the point of giving up. As a Christian, you can take refuge in your all-powerful, all-wise, loving heavenly Father. Recall how He has worked in previous times of discouragement, and rest assured that this situation will be another faithfulness story to add to your collection.

Long Enough

“And the LORD spake unto me, saying, Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.” (Deuteronomy 2:2-3)

This was the second time God rebuked Israel for staying too long in one place. Here they were camped adjacent to the region controlled by the descendants of Esau and thus kinsmen of the Israelites, but God told them to go on north toward Canaan.

Long before, they had wanted to stay too long at Mount Sinai (same as Horeb) where God had given the law to Moses. Finally, “the LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount:…Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers” (Deuteronomy 1:6, 8).

It is possible for a Christian to become too satisfied with his level of attainment, when the Lord may well have something more for him to do. Possibly, like Israel at Sinai, we may be content to stay in a situation where we have seen God work in the past. Or, like Israel at Edom’s Mount Seir, we want to stay in what we think may be friendly surroundings, rather than venture into overtly enemy territory. Perhaps we have stayed long enough at a certain stage in our Christian growth or service, and God wants us to go further.

Paul wanted to continue preaching near his home in Asia, but God said for him to go on into Europe (Acts 16:6-10). Peter asked Jesus what John was going to do, but Jesus said, “What is that to thee? follow thou me” (John 21:22).

God may, indeed, want us to continue all of our lives right where He has placed us now, as far as location and position are concerned, but He does want us to go on further with Him. The last words written by Peter are profoundly important. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). HMM

The Farewell Discourse

John 14-17

PRECIOUS to many hearts are chapters 14-17 of John’s Gospel. Here our Lord, on the eve of His death, opens His very heart. He promises to prepare for us a place and then return to receive us. He is the Way, Truth and Life. To Philip, who asks to see God, He answers: “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me?” To know Him is to know the Father. Jesus also promises to send the Paraclete—who is Another, not just the “spirit” of Jesus. He and the Father will manifest themselves to such as have and keep His commandments (14:21). The way to know Jesus better is to obey Him. The Holy Spirit will be our Teacher. And in each and every dark hour (v. 27), our Lord bequeaths His peace!

The much-discussed parable of the vine (chapter 15) simply illustrates union with Christ and the need of abiding in Him. The unfruitful are removed; the fruitful pruned. His words must abide in us—in that we read and heed them. Practical obedience is the secret of abiding. He wants our joy to be full, not partial! We are His friends if we do His will, not just because we sing or talk about Him at church. He has chosen us to bear fruit, the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). We may expect to be hated by the world if we are His. The Holy Spirit testifies not of Himself, but of Christ—never make the Spirit the figurehead in any movement. He but speaks of Christ.

In chapter 16 our Lord prepares His disciples for the adversity ahead. He must go that the Comforter might come. Jesus in the flesh could reach only a few; the Spirit is accessible to all. The Spirit convicts of sin—especially of unbelief; of our lack of righteousness—by holding up Christ, the perfectly righteous; of judgment—because in Christ Satan is judged and condemned. The Spirit will guide us into all truth. Jesus comforts the disciples in their sorrow by calling to mind the greater glory He will reach through His suffering. He claims all that God has for His own. In verse 33, He promises both trouble and triumph. When we are in tribulation, God is keeping one promise; but in giving us victory, He keeps the other!

Our Lord prays His high-priestly prayer in chapter 17. Here we see what power was our Lord’s and observe His perfect communion with the Father. Life eternal is to know God in Christ. He has kept His great commission and has glorified God, and manifested His Name and given us His Word. He prays to the Father for all believers, that they may be one and be kept of God. We believe God hears this prayer and that none shall be plucked out of the Father’s hand. He prays that we may be where He is, which He promised in chapter 14. How blessed to know that He still is our Advocate (1 John 2:1) and that the Spirit prays for us (Rom. 8:26)!

From this prayer, our Lord goes to the agony of Gethsemane—praying not to dodge the cross, as some see it, but to be spared from death before He reaches the cross. The three disciples who had earlier slept at His transfiguration glory sleep now in His agony. What a commentary on human nature—to sleep on two such momentous occasions!

At His arrest, our Lord’s very presence confounds His enemies (John 18:6). Impulsive Peter uses the sword, which our Lord repudiates as an instrument of His kingdom. He could call legions of angels if He needed them! Through it all He moves majestically, deeply conscious that He is fulfilling Scripture, not a mere martyr but the Son of God giving Himself for the world.

The Power of Holiness

Exalt the Lord our God; bow in worship at His footstool. He is holy.—Psalm 99:5

“No one can know the true grace of God,” said the great Bible teacher A. W. Tozer, “who has not first known the fear of God.” He continued: “Always there was about any manifestation of God something that dismayed the onlookers, that daunted and overawed them…. I do not believe any lasting good can come from religious activities that are not rooted in this fear. Until we have been gripped by that nameless terror that results when an unholy creature is suddenly confronted by the One who is holiest of all, we are not likely to be affected by the doctrine of love and grace.”

There was a time when the nature and character of God was a constant theme in Christian pulpits, but not any more. Generally speaking, today’s preachers (and writers) tend to give people what they want rather than what they need. This is why we must stop every time we come across a reference to God’s character in our Bibles and pause to consider it. No one has done anything mighty for God without a new vision of God’s holiness. Ezekiel tells us of the “rims” in his vision that were “large and frightening” (Ezk 1:18), and Jacob, rising from his sleep, said: “What an awesome place this is!” (Gn 28:17).

We will be of little use to God unless we know how to tremble before Him, for otherwise our own ideas and feelings of self-sufficiency will soon take over. Have we lost the sense of awe when we come into God’s presence which seemed to characterize the saints of the past? I am afraid we have.

Prayer

O God, I am afraid as I draw near to You, but I draw near because I am afraid. Nothing or no one can dissolve the fears that hinder me but You. Draw me closer, for in You and You alone lie both my salvation and sanctification. Amen.

Further Study

Ex 3:1-5; Jos 5:15; Ps 33:8; 89:7

What was Moses and Joshua’s experience?

What did the psalmist admonish?

Hindrances to the Blessing

Hebrews 12:1-2

Holiness has not legs and does not go walking about visiting idle people, as a lazy Christian seemed to think who told me that he thought the experience would “come” to him “some day.”

Be sure of this: it will not come, any more than a crop of potatoes will come to the lazy fellow who sits in the shade and never lifts his hoe, nor does a stroke of labor through all the spring and summer months.

Therefore, the part of wisdom is to begin at once, by a diligent study of God’s Word, much secret prayer, unflinching self-examination, rigid self-denial, hearty obedience to all present light.

Before a watchmaker can clean and regulate my watch, I must give it unreservedly into His hands. Before a doctor can cure me, I must take his medicine in the manner and at the time he requires. Before a captain can navigate me across the trackless ocean, I must get on board his ship and stay there. Just so, if I would have God cleanse and regulate my heart with all its affections, if I would have Him cure my sin-sick soul, if I would have Him take me safely across the ocean of time into that greater ocean of eternity, I must put myself fully into His hands and stay there.

The second hindrance in the way of him who would be holy is imperfect faith. If you will be holy you must come to God “with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22 KJV).

Holiness is a great blessing. It is the renewal of the whole man in the image of Jesus. It is the utter destruction of all hatred, envy, malice, impatience, covetousness, pride, lust, fear of man, love of ease, love of human admiration, self-will and the like.

Is your soul hungering and thirsting for the righteousness of perfect love? Do you want to be like Jesus? Then, lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset you (Hebrews 12:1). Present your body “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1 KJV), and “run with patience the race which is set before you, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of your faith” (Hebrews 12:1, 2 KJV).

Come to the Lord with the same simple faith that you did when you were saved. Lay your case before Him, ask Him to take away all uncleanness and to perfect you in love, and then believe that He does it.

Samuel Logan Brengle, Helps To Holiness