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The Scriptorium

Plan, Wait, Work

Letting the Lord lead. 1 Corinthians 16.5-9

1 Corinthians 16 (2)

Pray Psalm 119.33-35.
Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.

Sing Psalm 119.33-35.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
Teach me, LORD, and help me follow in Your perfect, righteous way!
From my heart I will observe and all Your holy Law obey.
Give me understanding, Jesus: I will keep Your Law always!

Make me walk in Your commandments, let me keep Your holy part.
I will keep Your Law unfailing; from it let me ne’er depart.
For Your Word is my delight, Lord; help me keep it from the heart.

Read 1 Corinthians 16.1-9; meditate on verses 5-9.

1. What was Paul planning?

2. But what did he have to do first?

Paul shared his tentative plan to visit the Corinthians and stay with them for an extended period (vv. 5, 6). This may be the unfulfilled journey to Corinth Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 1.15-23. He qualified his plans, as we all should, by waiting to see how the Lord directs or what He intends (v. 7). Paul did not make this trip, it seems, because the Lord willed otherwise.

At any rate, he had work to do in Ephesus, from where he was writing (v. 8). And the work was not easy.

The Gospel does not go forward, nor does the Kingdom advance, without much hard work. Even when wide doors of opportunity are before us (v. 9) and many are responding and much fruit is in evidence, many adversaries will oppose us. These will be spiritual, of course, seeking to make us fear or doubt, encouraging us to boast in ourselves or to compete with brethren; but there will also be human opponents, from within the church and from without.

We must be alert to the workings of our foes and determine to stay the course of our endeavors. Prayer, diligence, encouraging one another, keeping our eyes fixed on Christ exalted in glory, taking every next step faithfully and well, offering ourselves and our work to the Lord, stimulating one another to love and good works: This is the way to stay the course of our callings from the Lord.

We should make our plans, but continue waiting on the Lord to confirm or redirect. And while we wait, there is always good Kingdom work to do, right where we are.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
“For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Cor. 16.9).

Paul was not taking the Corinthians aside and saying, “Look, I’ve got some good news and some bad news.” No. He was sharing some good/good news. A door for ministry has been opened and I’ve got some adversaries!

We know this to be true because of his attitude in the face of other crises: “And see, now I go bound in spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20.22-24). None of those things moved him. He had one thing on his mind, and that was to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God. Determinedly.

Why did he have this attitude? And how did he manage to maintain his courage and delight? “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (1 Cor. 15.2). Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4.6-8). He, like Jesus, “for the joy that was set before” them endured hardships and death, for the sake of the Gospel of the grace of God (Heb. 12.2). Willingly.

Paul also was constantly aware of the propensity of the Adversary to attack in a multiplicity of ways; but being aware kept him ready and properly dressed for the confrontations (Eph. 6.11-18). Paul was also never frightened by these attacks nor taken down by them; but he always encouraged the followers of Christ to never, in any way, be terrified by our adversaries (Phil. 1.28). He held fast to Jesus’ words: “I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16.33). Victoriously.

We are watched over and cared for by the Good Shepherd, Who was willing to give His life to protect His sheep (Jn. 10.11). Paul knew, as did David, that the LORD is our Shepherd, and even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will not fear because God is with us (Ps. 23.1, 4). Sovereignly.

This is the secret to Paul’s attitude of courage in the face of whatever. As James wrote: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (Jms. 1.2, 3). Eternally.

A great and effective door has opened to us, and we have many adversaries!

For reflection
1. What adversaries will try to keep you from working your Personal Mission Field today?

2. How will they try to do that? How should you prepare?

3. Will we ever not have adversaries trying to keep us from seeking and advancing the rule of King Jesus? How should we encourage one another in making the most of open doors of opportunity?

The main thing indeed is, that, in the inward affection of the mind, we submit to God and his providence, whatever we resolve upon; but at the same time, it is becoming that we should accustom ourselves to such forms of expression, that whenever we have to do with what is future we may make everything depend on the divine will.
John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on 1 Corinthians 16.5-9

Pray Psalm 119.36-40.
Call on the Lord to show His path for you this day. Rejoice before Him in the reliability of His Word. Seek His Spirit for revival and renewal in all your ways.

Sing Psalm 119.36-40.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
To Your holy testimonies, turn my heart, O gracious LORD.
Let me covet nothing worthless; my delight is in Your Word.
O revive me! O revive me, in Your way, most holy LORD!

Set me firmly in Your statutes, for Your servant, LORD, am I.
Fearing You in sweet devotion, let me live until I die.
Let no dread, let no reproach obscure Your judgments from my eye.

For Your holy precepts, Jesus, my whole heart longs earnestly,
for Your judgments all are good; Your Word is a delight to me!
In Your righteousness revive me! For Your goodness I would see!

T. M. and Susie Moore

If you would like to learn more about how the Law of God serves as the ground for Christian ethics, order a copy of our book by that name by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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