In an encouraging chapter, Paul reminds us to please God.
To often, we make it our aim to please this person or that, or even those people.
We want to have a positive influence on them. We sometimes even that’s our job. Sometimes we think that’s our calling.
Then, when they, or the circumstances around them don’t go as we thought, we’re troubled, or worse, disappointment, in ourselves.
This happens when we have, to differing degrees, allowed our identity to be based on what we do (and who we please). Most of us are guilty of this to one degree or another. Some of us just need to recognize the impact of this underlying thinking on ourselves and our well being.
Who you are IS NOT what you do.
Pleasing people is like a drug. When we experience it, we get a little high. Then more. Then, suddenly, when our efforts don’t produce the desired effect. We become disappointed, and worse, depressed and confused, we question our very purpose.
So, here it is again:
Seek to please God, wherever and whatever circumstances you’re in. If people are pleased, that’s wonderful. If not, so what?
Lasting peace comes from a well cultivated relationship with our loving Heavenly Father.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.””
Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33a ESV)
Two words that stand out to me: confusion and peace.
In the context of confused worship in Corinth, Paul sets up a direct contrast for us.
It’s my experience in speaking with fellow disciples that each of us is prone to be confused at some level. I think that this confusion has some relation to our view of man, and therefore our view of God.
When I think I’m in charge, but have little real control over my own circumstances, I become confused and anxious when things don’t go as I planned.
But, when I seek the direction of God, wait for his wisdom to guide me, stop expecting what I want, I find that my journey is more peace filled.
As a favorite preacher recently asked: Who’s in charge, me or God?
The Corinthians had begun figuring out things and mixing practices that were unacceptable to God. He then spoke to them through the inspired pen of Paul to guide them. Sometimes I mix my plans in with God’s. The result? Confusion, not peace.
So, if things in life feel confused. Stop, take your compass, turn it to true north (dwell with Jesus through the Scriptures and prayer) and make sure you’re heading in the right direction. (I’m learning that regular, focused giving glory to God really helps, especially when I’m in pain or confused.)
For even in tough circumstances, if we’re abiding in Him, we will find peace.
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33a ESV
During a conversation with a pastor recently, he told me about his new way of thinking about life:
Enjoy the word,
live the word,
preach the word.
I was talking about this with a couple of fellow disciples, one of them suggested this text:
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16 ESV
One of these brothers, the younger of the two, asked, “But how can I enjoy the word?”
What a great question!
I think SO MANY people would like to enjoy the word more. Indeed, all of us go through times where we might read from duty rather than from enjoyment.
So, I was on the spot.
I finished my soup and tried to think out loud to provide an answer. We talked a bit about it and I honed the answer a bit trying to be clear.
To enjoy the Bible requires a familiarity with the Bible. To enjoy the Bible I must have experiences with it that make it like an old friend. I know him and he knows me. I am glad to spend time with this old friend. Not only is it important to have new experiences, but it is fun to remember old times.
I enjoy reading Scripture because it is sets my heart and mind on God and helps me to be reminded how to live.
Then, having enjoyed and lived, it is so much more fun to preach!
Not familiar yet? That’s okay, just keep spending time in it. As we get to know it better, as our familiarity develops, we will enjoy it more and more.
“Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.””
John 8:58 ESV
May we understand the confidence we may enjoy from this truth: Jesus is the eternal God-man who came to set us free!
May we approach the throne of Grace boldly! Resting in His finished work!
Today I’m traveling from Croatia to Serbia to preach in a morning service, then back to Croatia to meet with a church team and then preach in their church which meets in the afternoon. Here’s the first map…
But this path takes priority: