Picking up from yesterday, in today’s Bible reading, I don’t think Paul was taking a jab at Apollos, but he highlights his goal in preaching the gospel to the Corinthians. He didn’t want to come in his own strength and wisdom. He didn’t want to come with flowery speech. He said he would rather come in humility in the power of the Holy Spirit. And that’s what he did.
In our study on the Kingdom of God in church, we saw that God’s Kingdom doesn’t look like one would expect it to look like. God’s wisdom is similar.
we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, because if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 1 Corinthians 2:7–8 (CSB)
Paul says that unless God had revealed this hidden wisdom, no one would ever know it. (1 Corinthians 2:10) And reading through this section (1 Corinthians 2:6-16), it sounds like something you’d see in the Book of Hebrews where the author demonstrates how everything now is so much better than it was under the Old Covenant.
Paul says, as great as worldly wisdom is, God’s wisdom is far superior because God has hidden it until now. God has revealed — and has freely given to His kids — spiritual wisdom from the very mind of God. And not only that, but we have the mind of Christ! (1 Corinthians 2:16)
I think the more I know of God, the more I need to know — and the more I feel that I don’t know Him. That’s the way it is when you’re trying to comprehend the Infinite when you’re so finite. But the good thing is, God welcomes our questions. In fact, He’s glorified in our searching out His hidden wisdom. (Proverbs 25:2)
I once heard wisdom defined as applied knowledge. Not knowledge itself, but applied knowledge. We know that the fear of God is the beginning of both wisdom (Proverbs 9:10) and knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).
You might want to try this:
There are thirty-one days in most months and there are thirty-one Proverbs, one for each day. Today is August 1. Read through Proverbs 1. What does that chapter tell you about wisdom? Ask God what He wants you to do about what you read. In other words, how can you apply the knowledge you gain from Proverbs 1?
Each day this month, read that date’s Proverb and ask God to show you something new, something that He wants you to apply for that day.
This devotional was originally published August 1, 2019.
Today’s Bible reading includes a familiar parable of the talents. In the parable, a man prepared to go on a journey and entrusted his possessions to three servants. To one, he gave five talents, to another, he gave two. To another, he gave one talent. He gave to the servants according on each man’s ability. (Matthew 25:15)
Matthew doesn’t record any instructions given to the servants. However, in Luke’s version of the story, the master told the servants to engage in business. (Luke 19:13) In Mark’s version, the master told the servants to be alert. (Mark 13:34)
Each of the servants who had been given more than one talent immediately used the talents to get more. But the servant who was given one talent, went out and buried his talent in the ground. Some time passed before the master returned. When he returned, each servant brought the proceeds of his investments. The one who was given five presented ten back to the master. The one who was given two presented four back to the master. Each of these servants were praised for their diligence. But then the one who was given one talent presented his dirty talent. After scolding this servant, the master ordered that the one dirty talent be given to the servant who had earned five.
One might say the master was cruel to take from the man who only had one talent and to give that to the one who had ten talents. But we must realize several times in the parable, we’re told that this was the master’s property. It was never the property of the servants. The master was wise to not give five talents to the one he only gave one to. He would have ended up with fewer talents when he returned from his journey. The master could do anything he wanted with his property, before and after his trip.
This entire chapter is a warning to always be alert. The servants who made more talents did so immediately on the master’s departure. They didn’t wait until just before his return. The didn’t know when he would return, but they wanted to be ready whenever he did. And they knew he would.
Are you ready for your Master’s return? Are you being a good steward of what has been entrusted to you? Whatever has been entrusted to you should be used for His glory, for His honor. And when He returns, you will be required to give an account for what was entrusted to your care. You may not have been given much. Or you may have been given a great deal. Regardless, you will still give an account for how you used what you were given.
Be alert. Be ready. And be busy about your Master’s business.
In today’s Bible reading, we see that a majority of those voting said it would be best to sail, hoping to make it to Phoenix, a harbor on the island of Crete before Winter. (Acts 27:12)
It seems obvious that the Roman commander and the ship’s owner were more interested in efficiency than safety. And they paid little attention to a prophetic word from Paul.
If you’ve been around church very long, you’ve probably heard that the majority rules. At least in Baptist circles, a simple majority can dictate everything. That can be a good thing. But like in the case in today’s Bible reading, it can also be a very bad thing. Normally we assume that because there is a majority consensus, we know what we are supposed to do.
But is that how people in the Bible determined God’s will? As I type this, I can’t think of a single time the early church went with a plan simply because more people voted one way than another. When I think of the ways the early church made decisions, just about every time — if there was a vote at all — the vote wasn’t just a majority; it was unanimous. But it should be noted that even a unanimous decision can be counter to God’s plan.
The normal way the early church made decisions was through prayer and immediate obedience. When Paul planned to go one way, he might have a dream in the middle of the night, wake up in the morning and go in a different direction.
But today’s reading is a classic case in point that not everyone was seeking God’s plan. Some people had other motives than to glorify God. Some had selfish motives. And there’s the rub when it comes time to make decisions. Not everyone has pure motives and pure goals in mind.
So how is a church — or individual Believers — supposed to go about determining God’s will? First off, pray. Second, pray. Seek God’s plan. Seek God’s timing. Seek God’s way. Trust the leadership that God has put in place. And last, pray. And then pray some more.
Only with a yielded, unified heart can a church hope to successfully move with God’s agenda in God’s timing.
Yes, bad decisions will be made. But with a humble, yielded heart a church can seek God’s heart and make adjustments as he leads.
In today’s Bible reading, we see Paul doing a very foolish thing. He says that God has told him that if he returns to Jerusalem, he will face trouble. In fact, Paul says that everywhere he goes, the Holy Spirit confirms that if he goes to Jerusalem, he will face imprisonment and afflictions. (Acts 20:23) So why would he go to the very place where he would face such hardships?
Dr. Luke answers that question with Acts 20:22: “And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there.”
Earlier, I said that Paul did a very foolish thing. Actually, it wasn’t foolish at all. In fact, it was the wisest thing he could have possibly done!
Where the Holy Spirit leads, you will find peace. Now, I didn’t say that where the Spirit leads, you will find prosperity. No, where the Holy Spirit leads, you will always find peace and God’s blessings. You don’t want to be where God doesn’t want you to be.
Many years ago, I lamented to a friend that I hadn’t yet been called to my first church ministry position after seminary. He wisely remarked that “No place is better than the wrong place. Trust me, I’ve been there.”
As our son prepares to go back to Australia with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) for two years, many people have asked Amy and me if we were concerned with his leaving and going literally to the other side of the world. We respond, that if God is calling him to study and minister there, the last place we want him to be is here with us. Yes, we will miss him. Yes, we will be concerned with his welfare. But we know that he is in the hands of a totally sovereign God who is always good and Who loves our son more than we do.
If you have a sovereign God (and we do), your anxiety level drops a great deal. God knows what He’s doing and is always in control of every situation.
In today’s Bible reading, Peter reminds us that God’s promise is sure: Jesus will return. He says that scoffers will come, trying to discourage God’s children by pointing out that Jesus has yet to return. “Where is the promise of His coming He predicted?” (2 Peter 3:4)
There will always be nay-sayers. There will always be scoffers. There will always be haters. But Peter reminds us to be vigilant and to actively wait for Jesus’ return. “Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found without spot or blemish in his sight, at peace.” 2 Peter 3:14 (CSB)
In Peter’s mind, there’s no such thing as expressing a belief in Christ and then living an unchanged life. Coming to faith in Christ will cause life change. Those who repent of their sin and turn to Jesus (in other words, actually becoming a Christian) have a job to do: stay close and stay clean. (2 Peter 3:14)
OK, so how do you stay close and stay clean? Maintain a close relationship with God. And one of the best ways to do this is to practice the Spiritual Disciplines: Bible reading, Bible study, Bible verse memory, prayer, worship, evangelism, fasting, giving thanks, giving, and fellowshiping with other Believers. (These are a few and they are in no particular order)
One great book on the Spiritual Disciplines is Don Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life. Please take a couple of minutes to listen to John Piper talk about Dave Mathis’ book Habits of Grace. I think it really catches the idea behind practicing the Spiritual Disciplines. Spoiler alert: It isn’t about doing the disciplines. It’s about loving Jesus more.