"Physical + Spiritual Worlds"
TEXTS: John 17:14; Rom. 8:18; Matt. 5:45; 2 Cor. 4:16-17; Luke 5; 2 Tim. 4; 1 Tim. 5; Php. 2:25
1. Believers often over-spiritualize the physical world. If we wrongly assume that we can exercise faith and control the material world, we will miss the importance of making wise decisions. This will cause us to be poor stewards of the material world because we do not properly understand how God calls us to steward over and view it.
2. The physical world is a shadow of the spiritual world. Meaning, what we are able to observe in the physical world is designed to teach us something about the spiritual reality we are living in (which we cannot see and observe).
3. Our faith is not something we use to ensure that our lives are free from pain and suffering. The Lord is actually using the pain and suffering of this fallen world to help our hearts refrain from falling in love with it. The trials and temptations we walk through are meant to drive us to prayer. And it is prayer that shapes our affections so that we do not worship creation over the Creator.
4. The Bible declares that God provides “all good things” that come into our lives. This means we can (and should) praise Him for the common graces that provide answers, wisdom, and relief. It is tempting to think that God only answers prayers through supernatural and miraculous means, but that is simply not biblically accurate.
5. Epaphroditus nearly died doing the work of the Lord. He practiced poor stewardship and balance and, as a result, found himself in a harrowing circumstance. What can we learn from this account? Our spiritual discipline and practices won’t make up for and cover our poor stewardship and life-balance.
6. The physical world was used by the Lord to keep the Apostle Paul humble. He regularly experienced pain and difficulty as he ministered. When he prayed for deliverance the Lord revealed it was happening for a distinct purpose. The pain and suffering steered Paul away from being filled with pride and arrogance.
TALK TO EACH OTHER:
1. What are some examples of over-spiritualizing the material world and our relationship with it?
2. Have you gained any spiritual insight from observing and participating in the physical world? What have you learned about the spiritual world from observing the physical world?
3. How should believers view and pray about physical pain and suffering? What questions and actions should we be prepared to work through when something difficult enters our lives?
4. What are some questions we should ask ourselves to examine if our life is properly balanced?
5. What does Paul’s interaction with God concerning the thorn in his flesh teach us? What truth(s) does it communicate?
TALK TO GOD:
Pray as you feel led concerning the following areas:
- Wisdom about how we are to view and handle both worlds (physical and spiritual)
- Humble hearts that are not overly captivated by the material world