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Sing to God! Sing praises to his name! Exalt the one who rides on the clouds! For the Lord is his name! Rejoice before him!
James 5:13 says, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” Jeremiah 20:13 says, “Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.” Indeed, he has rescued us. He has invited all people to come to Him, to believe in Him, and to trust in Him. We have hope so great in Christ, that praise must come forth. In Luke 19 the Pharisees tell Jesus to quiet His praising disciples. Jesus says, “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Praise the Lord!
If after all there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we live, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we live. But this knowledge is not shared by all. And some, by being accustomed to idols in former times, eat this food as an idol sacrifice, and their conscience, because it is weak, is defiled. Now food will not bring us close to God. We are no worse if we do not eat and no better if we do.
The issue on the table is whether to eat food sacrificed to idols, which at a glance isn’t really a practical question today. The entirety of 1 Corinthians 8 is dedicated to this topic, and includes much more than discussion about food specifically. We hear things like: “knowledge puffs up while love builds up” (vs. 1), “whoever loves God is known by God” (vs 3), “An idol is nothing at all in the world” (vs 4), and “there is no God but one” (vs. 4). It is not about food, it’s about the value you place on food – or anything else in this world. By itself, what we eat has no bearing on how much we are loved or known by God. When I lose sight of this and apply “worship worth” to food, it has become an idol in my life. An idol is an idol because we worship it rather than the Father “from whom all things came and for whom we live”.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold on to the traditions that we taught you, whether by speech or by letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good thing you do or say.
Here Paul encourages the church at Thessalonica to stand firm. Exodus 14:13 says, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” This was when the armies of Egypt pursued Israel to the Red Sea. 2 Chronicles 20:17 says, “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem.” This is when the Ammonites and Moabites came to attack Judah. Jehosophat “feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” Psalm 33:11 says, “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” We stand firm by seeking the Lord and being willing to trust Him and praise Him in the face of whatever may come against us. His love never fails.
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul went through the inland regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples there and said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul said, “Into what then were you baptized?” “Into John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus,
The Holy Spirit is our seal in Christ Jesus, and it is by the name of Jesus alone that the Holy Spirit makes His residence within us. The Holy Spirit comes and brings conviction, He intercedes for us when we do not know what to pray, He enables and strengthens us as we go forth and preach the gospel. John the Baptist’s baptism only served to point people to Jesus Christ. These disciples no longer need that baptism, because one greater has emerged. There is no one who is greater than Jesus, and no other who is able to save us.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For there is more to life than food, and more to the body than clothing. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add an hour to his life? So if you cannot do such a very little thing as this, why do you worry about the rest?
Anxiety is an enemy of following Jesus. It seeks to sabotage courage and deceive us about who God is. Severe anxiety can make us feel as though we have been abandoned, or feel as though God does not love us, or does not have our best interests in mind. Lord God, I pray that You help me release the need to control my circumstances, and that You would teach me how to trust in You for everything that I need. Help me lay down my worries, and look to You for direction and purpose. Doing Your will and seeking first Your Kingdom is the only thing I should be concerned with. You’ve promised to take care of the rest, and I so desperately need You. In the name of Jesus, Amen.