Bible reading plan Bible reading plan

Red, Red and Amber, Green

21 May 2023

In our walk with God, we so often ask, “What should I do, Lord?”  Sometimes we need to know at that very moment and at other times we’re thinking about the longer term - our future direction.  Either way, we are asking God to help us, and that is a good thing to do.  But are we really ready for His answer?  Are we actually willing to listen to what He’s saying to us?  Let’s look at this week’s readings for some clues.

 

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”  1 Corinthians 2:4-5, NIV

 

In these verses, Paul is highlighting something important: God’s power is greater than human wisdom.

 

RED

These are the things that we must never do.  The Bible is full of these commands, for example in 1 Corinthians 3, Paul teaches that unity must be maintained in the church because we all serve one God and are all builders together.

 

1 Corinthians 4:6 warns us not to go beyond what is written (in the Bible).  We mustn’t add our own extra rules to those given by God.

 

In 1 Corinthians 5 and 6, Paul says that someone engaged in sexual immorality must be removed from the church.  Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and should therefore be kept pure.

 

Whatever we do, there are always boundaries, and boundaries are for everyone’s benefit.  We all know what happens when the traffic lights break down and we’re on our own.  Anxiety at best and catastrophe at worst.  Red lights protect us all for the good of all.

 

RED AND AMBER

In the UK, red and amber also means STOP!  But it also means that something is coming, if only you wait.  It’s a time of preparation, of getting ready to go.  Get into gear!

 

Experience tells us that God doesn’t always answer all of our prayers instantly, and yet we know that He does answer our prayers and loves to do so.  So what should we do in the ‘red and amber’ phase?  Get ready! 

 

Proverbs 12 is a spiritual training programme: 28 verses full of practical wisdom.  The whole book of Proverbs is about preparing us for life: things to do and things to avoid.  They are food for us, and like all food, you get the best out of them if you consume them slowly and purposefully.  Meditate on them: memorise one and then spend some days listening to the Lord teaching you from His heart.  Don’t move on too quickly.

 

1 Corinthians 2:6-16 tells us to listen to the Spirit.  One way we can do that is to sit quietly before the Lord.  We don’t need to say much, but we do need to listen.  And the Holy Spirit knows the deep thoughts of God and will understand what God has freely given us.  In other words, the Holy Sprit reveals God’s heart to us.

 

Take every opportunity to learn from other believers.  Work alongside those who love Jesus.  Listen to their testimonies.  Discuss the word with them.  You can read in Psalms 61 and 62 how David expresses his hope in God: learn from him and the other people of faith in the Old Testament.

 

GREEN

‘You may go on if the way is clear.’  Maybe that isn’t quite what you were expecting!  You’ve studied the word, you’ve got lots of experience and you know the Holy Spirit lives in you.  And even so, you can only move forward if the way is clear.

 

Some things are clear: you can always glorify God, love the people around you or share what you have.  You don’t need special permission.  However, life also brings up other challenges and opportunities.  Paul warns about these in 1 Corinthians 6, “Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial”.

 

We have freedom in Christ, and with this comes responsibility and accountability to the Lord.  Paul gives the specific instruction not to get involved in legal disputes (1 Cor 6) and there is advice about marriage in 1 Cor 7.  But what else can we do to check that ‘the way is clear’?

 

Returning to chapters 1 and 2, we learn that God’s wisdom is foolishness to the world.  His wisdom is entirely different.  Forget traditions, old wives’ tales and horoscopes.  God’s word and His Holy Spirit lead us into His good and perfect will and that is where His power is released.  Listen to the Spirit.  Spend time in His presence.  Get familiar with His voice.  Then you will know that the way is clear, because He has made it clear by His power.

 

So what is God talking to you about at the moment?  What do the traffic lights say?  And what are you doing to get ready for God’s next thing?  Let me encourage you to spend time this week listening to Him, so you’re ready when the green light comes.


Photo of Gill Hayes

Gill Hayes

Core Leadership Team
GoChurch Manchester