August 27 “Freedom & stumbling blocks”

freedom, bondageFREEDOM … as Americans, especially, we love it and in Christ we have a great deal of Christian liberty. But we are also called to love and prefer others. So how much freedom are you willing to give up out of love for your spouse or your brother or sister in Christ?

Today’s Readings:
Ecclesiastes 3
Psalm 102.1-17
Proverbs 24.3-4
1 Corinthians 8.1-13

Ecclesiastes 3:

To everything there is a season

This chapter begins:

1 To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven.
2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;

 

(Some of you once thought the Byrds wrote that! And the rest of you are going, “Who are the Byrds?”)

What a picture of life in our sin-cursed world!

Paul Tripp says we live between “the already and the not yet.” We’re already redeemed, but while our eternal destiny is secure, we still live in a fallen world.

We still experience grief and sickness along with happiness and health. We still experience times of loss and times of new beginning.

pink daisyLife has its seasons: the honeymoons and births of spring, the growths of summer, the aging of fall, and the deaths of winter.

There are times of war and struggle along with times of peace and rest; times to begin new endeavors and times to bring things to a close.

Each season and each struggle has its purpose. Without times of sorrow, times of joy would be less incredible. Yet without the dancing, death would be too much to bear.

Birth is full of hope and anticipation. But death opens the door to eternal life … “To everything there is a season.”

Psalm 102.1-17:

He regards the prayer of the destitute

When the psalmist focused on his feelings (yesterday’s reading), he felt as if God had abandoned him, but this second part of the psalm includes these thoughts:

“But You, O Lord … You will arise and have mercy on Zion … He shall appear in His glory. He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer.”

Like the psalmist, when we are discouraged and feel abandoned, we must remind ourselves of the true character of God.

open-bibleProverbs 24.3-4:

Building on the wisdom of God

Verse 4, “Through wisdom a house is built …”

This doesn’t just refer to a physical structure. It could be your family, your marriage, or your legacy. If we want to have a strong marriage or family, if we want to leave a spiritual legacy to our children’s children, we must build them on the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 8.1-13:

Stumbling blocks & the cause of Christ

We love freedom. And we should. Christ suffered and died to set us free from the power and penalty of sin. His truth and grace sets us free from both religious legalism and the hopelessness that a life of sin can bring. But freedom, though precious and valuable, should be used carefully. Paul said it this way:

“… beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.”

And he ends this chapter with these thoughts:

And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble (vss. 12-13 NLT).

studio portrait of a young beautiful blond womanWhat are you willing to give up for your weaker brothers and sisters? What are you willing to forego for the cause of Christ?

Are you willing to give up that glass of wine? Or the latest movie?

Ladies, are you willing to quit wearing that new blouse if it might tempt your brother in Christ with wrong thoughts? Or your sister in Christ to wonder where her husband’s eyes are going?

Men, are you willing to forego going out with the guys and doing something you consider harmless if it causes your spouse distress?

Are you willing to skip lunch with a co-worker of the opposite sex so you don’t give even an appearance of evil?

Are what about at church … are you willing to give financially, to forego your favorite worship style, and to give of your time and talents so others might come to Christ. Or are you more concerned about your freedom to enjoy what you have and hang on to what you like?

Lord, help us to lay down our freedoms for the good of others. Help us to prefer others as more important that ourselves (Phil. 2.3-4). Help us to love even when it goes against our feelings and even when the other person doesn’t show love in return. And help us to do it, not because it is demanded of us, but out of our desire to please You with our lives (2 Cor. 5.9). Let that be our number one goal, in Jesus name and for His glory, amen.

Blessings,
Donna

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