“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13–14 NIV11)
What does the future hold for us?
There are so many questions that we can ask, and there are so many questions that remain unanswered.
Even in Lockdown, our Church has not stopped! We have an online presence, our Foodbank has been busy, and the ministry has continued.
Paul reminded the Church in Corinth to be on your guard, to stand firm in the faith, to be courageous and to remain in love.
In order words, Paul is saying “DON’T GIVE UP”.
How do we remain strong?
How do we stand firm in the faith?
How are we to be courageous?
I want to say three things about this passage
Posture – Receptive – Commitment
The Bible teaches us that we need to Stand Strong!
The message of Standing Strong can be found throughout the teaching of the Bible. The most evident example of this is found in Joshua 1:6, 7, and 9.
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:6, 7 & 9 NIV11)
I remember when I was growing up, during a football match a boy beat me up. I did not know how to defend myself, and I let him hurt me. My uncle, who was visiting our home, used to be a boxer trainer and the first thing he taught me was not how to throw punches but how to stand, how to position myself to receive and to throw a punch. How I stood and how I placed myself made all the difference between being losing and winning!
I practised how to stand and positioned myself for days until it became part of my routine, part of my life. This simple lesson gave me the confidence to play any sport because I learnt how to position myself!
It is the same with our relationship with God!
The Bible speaks of different postures like the posture of worship, where our hearts, our minds and our spirits are engaged with praising God!
There is the posture of hearing the Voice of the Lord!
The posture of being a servant!
The posture of gratitude and being thankful!
The posture to stand firm against the enemy!
The classic Bible verse for posturing ourselves before the Lord in Romans 12:1-2
What follows after posture?
- To be receptive
Paul is encouraging the churches in Corinth to stand firm on the “Faith”, the Biblical concept of Faith is described for us in Hebrews.
Hebrews defines faith as “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 NAS95)
The word “assurance us the Greek word for “Substance” and a substance has a unique kind of matter with uniform patterns!
Faith has a substance, and faith is tangible in the kingdom of God.
How can we prove that Faith is tangible?
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 ESV)
We need to be receptive to the Word of Christ. Christ is the Word, and when we come to him in faith we become receptive to the transforming power of the GOSPEL.
During Lockdown I have been preaching from the book of Galatians saying that the message of the Gospel is not just for you and me to get saved, but the Gospel is what sustains us for life here on earth.
How do we know that this principle is right?
We know it because it is repeated again and again in the Bible, and we can see it so clearly in the life of Joshua.
Joshua did not get a 15 minutes sermon and it wasn’t a one off experience with the Word of God. God told Joshua you need to be strong and courageous based upon the Word of God.
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” (Joshua 1:8 NAS95)
Paul encourages his readers to be strong, to stand firm in the faith and to have courage, but also 1 Corinthians 16:14 says “Do everything in love.”
GOD is LOVE. He loved us first, and his love will never end.
God has always been committed to our wellbeing, and it is his will declared in the Scriptures that we should prosper.
When you experience the amazing, powerful love of the Lord, then there is no turning back. When you have tasted and see that the Lord is good, you don’t want to go back to your former way of life, of thinking and decision making.
At the end of the book of Joshua, who is now ending his ministry, we read some great words:
“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15 NIV11)
Joshua and his household remained committed to serve the Lord, this is not the young man Joshua but a man who led the people of God into the “promised land”. He did not give up and had not intention to do so.
Joshua battled many battles! He was victorious when he positioned himself before the Lord, he was receptive to the word, and he was committed to the ways of the Lord, even though sometimes they don’t make sense. Joshua told the people of God to do the same!
Let us pray!