Monday, February 21, 2022

          You probably remember some good advice that people have given you in the past.  Some of that advice might have been life-changing.  The Bible is a treasure of hope and encouragement for all who choose to open and read it.  There is help, hope and encouragement found on every page.  In his first letter to the Corinthian Christians, Paul offered some important counsel for living near the end of the letter.  Paul wrote, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love” (I Corinthians 16:13-14).  If we look carefully at these two verses, we find five commands that Paul gave to his readers.  These commands speak to us today just as clearly and just as well in 2022. 
            First, Paul wrote, “be on guard.”  The idea is do not fall asleep at the wheel.  Stay awake.  Do not drift off on your faith.  Do not let your faith be on cruise control or auto pilot.  When we nod off, the enemy often springs to life and action.  He can seize the day and deceive us or trick us.  Guarding our faith is a daily (even moment by moment) reality.  We have to read Scripture, pray, worship and stay alert to the enemy’s attacks.  A tornado warning is a message to be alert, to pay attention, to keep your eyes and senses open for possible bad weather.  An Amber Alert is a call for us to help find a child that has been abducted or missing.  Paul says “be alert.”  Do not neglect what you are called to do.  Keep your guard up.  In boxing, keeping your guard up protects you from an unseen or unexpected strike from your opponent.  Staying on guard in faith keeps you from unexpected attacks from the evil one.
            Second, Paul wrote “stand firm in the faith.”  Know your Bible.  Know what you believe as a follower of Jesus and why you believe these things.  Know the gospel.  Paul told a young Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).  Keep the gospel in your thoughts and behavior.  Do not stray from the truth that has saved you.  Hold to the Lord and His ways.  Cultivate a healthy and dynamic devotional life. 
            Third, Paul wrote “be men of courage.”  Paul was saying to men and women to live distinctly and boldly.  Serve the Lord.  Take a risk for the gospel.  Share your faith.  Do not let the enemy convince you that you are too weak or too frail to be or do anything.  The world needs followers of Jesus to be courageous today.  Show the world what is right, true and good. 
            Fourth, Paul wrote, “be strong.”  To be physically strong and healthy, we eat good foods, we exercise, we check in with the doctor when needed, we get rest and we develop good habits.  But we want to be spiritually strong too.  The word for “strong” that Paul chose means to increase in vitality and vigor.  Don’t stay complacent.  Look for ways to grow and deepen your faith.  Faith is not to remain stagnant or idle.  We are to be growing our faith and keeping it alive and dynamic.    
            And fifth, Paul wrote, “do everything in love.”  Let love or compassion be your motive for your relationship with the Lord, your family and your friends.  Let love be your guide to forgive others and to seek forgiveness, to settle disagreements and to build the faith of others.  Whatever you may do, let love be the compass that leads you.  Banish malice from your life and replace it with love. 
            Paul’s counsel is worth taking to heart.  And this counsel works when we put it in
action.  Zechariah, the Old Testament prophet, gives us an encouragement to put this counsel into practice.  He wrote, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6).  We can trust God to enable and guide us to do these five things that we’re called to do.  And in doing these five things, we discover some lessons about doing life God’s way.  Have a great Monday!  And remember you can always share our worship at youtube.com/FirstBaptistKannapolis.

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