A daily devotion for October 20th
The Need for Self-Discipline
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Warnings From Israel’s History
10 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.”[a] 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ,[b] as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation[c] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[d] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[e] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Oh what an encouragement this is! This is written down that we might understand three specific things about our testings: First, they are common to all. I do not know anything that is harder to believe, when we are under testing, than that. We all think,
Why isn't this happening to others? They deserve it so much more than me. Why is it happening to me? Well, it is just your turn, that is all. Everybody goes through it. You are not permitted to witness their martyrdom, but you will not be allowed to miss yours. You do not see what they go through most of the time, but no one is left out. Trials are common to all. Their time is coming, if it has not already, so do not ever allow yourself to think that what is happening to you is unique. It is not at all. It is very common, and the minute you start inquiring around, you will find a dozen that have gone through it too.
Second, though they are common trials, they are also controlled pressures — God is faithful, he will not allow you to be tempted above your strength. Again, that is hard to believe, is it not? We say,
Well, it has already happened. I am already beyond my strength. No, you are not. You just think you are. God knows your strength greater than you do. He knows how much you can handle, and how much you cannot. One of the basic principles of training in an athletic contest is to develop things you do not think you can do right now, to put more pressure on you than you think you can handle, is it not? And you discover you can handle it. This is what God does with us. He puts the pressure on, but it is controlled pressure. It will never be more than you can handle as long as you understand the third thing.
The third thing is the conquering grace that he provides,
the way out that is always present, never failing. What is that way of escape? It is dependence. Discipline is necessary, but so is dependence. All through the Old Testament the heroes and heroines of faith have taught us that in the hour of testing God strips away all human support so that we may learn that he is enough.
God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble (Ps.46:1), and we will never discover that until everything else has been taken away. Then we begin to discover that God can hold us steady. He himself is the way of escape, and that is why he puts us through pressures and testings.
Lord, I pray that this may be my experience in the days that lie ahead in this troubled world.
Life Application: What three aspects of our trials and temptations are assured to us as God's people? How does this address our complaints, as well as our confidence in God's purposeful ending?
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