1 Corinthians 7:29-31 29What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
This passage resonates out from first-century Corinth into all kinds of situations. The Christian is not be alarmed by the various turbulent things that happen in the world. But looming up behind all this as well is a point Paul wants to make. The present world will one day give way to the world that is to be, the world in which Jesus will have completed his kingly work.
When that moment arrives, it won’t matter that you followed or didn’t follow some social order or pattern in the way that [others] assumed you would. What will matter is that you were faithful to the Lord in whatever circumstances you found yourself. (Wright, N.T. Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians. p. 92)
Revelation 21:1-2 (NLT) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth… 2And I saw the holy city… coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
Prayer: God, we trust you for your promise of what is to come. Pour out your Spirit of hope upon us, your bride, as we await your promise, that we may live in faithfulness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
[Amy Carmichael] had come to grips with prospect of remaining single. It was a difficult struggle and one that she was unable to write about for more than forty years:
“On this day many years ago I went away alone to a cave in the mountain called Arima. I had feelings of fear about the future. That was why I went there – to be alone with God. The devil kept on whispering, ‘It’s all right now, but what about afterwards? You are going to be very lonely.’ And I turned to my God in a kind of desperation and said, ‘Lord, what can I do? How can I go on to the end?’ And he said, ‘None of them that trust in Me shall be desolate.’ (Psalm 34:22 KJV) That word has been with me ever since. It has been fulfilled to me. It will be fulfilled to you.” (Tucker, Ruth. From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya.)
Psalm 34:17-18, 22 17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 22 The Lord will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the promise of Psalm 34. Thank you that you have fulfilled this to your servants throughout the centuries, and in my life to this day. I take refuge in you again. Where I am crushed in spirit, hear and save me. Meet and rescue all in our churches who cry out to you today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Let’s worship and declare our trust in the Lord by singing “All in All” by Phil Wickham – (Click Here)
Let’s read aloud together the following confession and prayer:
Confession: 4 [We] belong to Christ Jesus. 5 Through him, God has enriched [our] church in every way—with all of [our] eloquent words and all of [our] knowledge… 7 Now [we] have every spiritual gift [we] need as [we] eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will keep [us] strong to the end so that [we] will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.
(From 1 Corinthians 1:4-8 (NLT) – second person plural changed to first person plural)
Prayer: 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! [In Jesus’ name,] Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
Let’s offer to the Lord our lives and our praise to the song “Highest Praise” by Phil Wickham – (Click Here)
Ephesians 5:25-33 (NIV/NLT, portions) 25 …Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 30 For we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Throughout this letter, Paul has spoken of the church as the body of the Messiah, and now he produces a new twist within this theme. The church is the bride of the Messiah, the wife of the king.
The church became the Messiah’s bride, not by being dragged off unwillingly by force, but because he gave himself totally and utterly for her. There was nothing that love could do for the Messiah’s people that he did not do. Nowhere outside of this passage is [the crucifixion] so lyrically described as an act of complete, self-abandoning love. (Wright, N.T. Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters. p. 66)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for going to the cross in complete, self-abandoning love for us. Today, I choose, I receive, from your Holy Spirit your love above all others. Cleanse me anew and fill me with your Spirit to love and serve you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Let’s declare our love and worship of the Lord by singing “In Christ Alone” (Passion, featuring Kristian Stanfill) – (Click Here)
Psalm 23:1-3 (NLT/NIV) The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
The Father has been pleased to give us the greatest gift: the kingdom of God. His kingdom is above all, and yet so real that we actually receive it and experience it as we receive the love, presence, and power of God in the Holy Spirit. In the kingdom, we live in intimacy and union with Christ himself!
Some of the ways that our lives of intimacy and union with God are described in the Bible are:
– sheep following their shepherd
– children adopted by their father
– a bride in love with her groom (see in Psalm 45 below).
Psalm 45:6, 10-11 6 Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever… 10 Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention:
Forget your people and your father’s house. 11 Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
honor him, for he is your lord.
Which of these ways most speaks to your heart today?
From the passages, how can you live as a sheep/child/bride (whichever most speaks to you) today?
Prayer: Lord, thank you that you are our shepherd, Father, and groom. Help me to live as yours today, in trust, obedience, and in love with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.