Hearing God’s Voice from His Word
James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
Take a moment and turn your attention to God. Tell God that you desire to trust and obey Him. Ask God to speak to you from His word.
Psalm of the Day
Psalm 1 How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers!
2 Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
4 The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand up in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.
Pray this Psalm back to God. Ask Him to help you see that going His way is for your flourishing and His glory. Pray for those walking in the advice of the wicked. Pray they would turn their feet back to God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-11 – The Message
3-5 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.
6-7 When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.
8-11 We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.
Having God’s Ear through Prayer
- Express thanksgiving to God.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal sin to you.
- Confess your sin to Him and receive forgiveness.
(1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sin He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins.”)
- Bring your personal requests to God.
(Psalm 62:8 “Pour out your heart before God”)
- Pray for someone in your small group.
- Join with others from River and pray for the college students from River going overseas this Summer. Ask God to strengthen and unite their teams. Pray they would be faithful to sow gospel seeds.
Living as God’s People by applying the Bible
Scripture Reflection from the Sermon
Paul repeatedly lets the reality of the gospel shape his thinking. Paul experienced severe suffering that many would consider traumatic today. Trauma is a disorienting and overwhelmingly distressing experience. Paul certainly describes a form of affliction that was something like trauma in verse 8. Yet, even in the midst of a disorienting experience, he has trained himself to remind himself of the reality of the gospel. Verse 9 says, “Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” Paul is modeling for us a Christian response to suffering. He has moved from despair to hope. Despite feeling overwhelmed by sorrow, he holds fast to his confession and belief in resurrection, the God who raises the dead. As we think about the suffering in our lives, it’s important to view our suffering in light of the reality of the resurrection. We must set our suffering and trauma in the larger biblical storyline which moves from creation, fall, redemption, to new creation. In many ways, there is no going back to life as it was prior to some catastrophic or traumatic event. This side of heaven, we will carry residual (and sometimes permanent) effects of trauma. But even so, we must set our minds on the ground of our hope: the resurrection of Jesus. This is our great hope– a reality that we too will experience as we are united to Christ through faith.