Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Someone to help

"For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus" -- 2 Corinthians 7:5-6
"Smooth Sailing Cruises... No bumps, just bargains!" and "Smooth Sailing Success... executive and life coaching." These are just two of many internet sites built on the idea of "Smooth Sailing". Oh, if it were only true, that the many journeys of life could always be "Smooth Sailing". But, life is just not a "Smooth Sailing" experience. In real life we will be harassed at every turn with conflicts and fears, so we need someone to help.
Some believers have been led to believe that the Christian life is a guarantee of "Smooth Sailing". They are under the persuasion that the winds will always blow our way and every storm will pass us by, because we are God's children. But then we read about Paul, and all such thinking slips away fast. The great apostle Paul suffered with harassment, conflicts and fears. The storms raged in his life and ministry, "but God, who comforts the downcast", comforted him! He found someone to help.
Does life leave you battered and beat down so much that you want to sell your boat? Are you wise enough to know that "Smooth Sailing" and real life just don't mix? Storms will come your way more often than you desire, but God comforts the downcast. If he is your God... you will always have someone to help!

Think about this: "God is the great reality. His resources are available and endless. His promises are real and glorious, beyond our wildest dreams."
                            - J. B. Phillips

Monday, September 22, 2014

TODAY

"As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." -- 2 Corinthians 6:1-2
The fifth point in the Procrastinator's Creed states: "I firmly believe that tomorrow holds the possibility for new technologies, astounding discoveries, and a reprieve from my obligations." So, for a great many in our world, the sun will always come out "tomorrow", no matter how dire the circumstances. But, maybe not, for we only have the guarantee of TODAY.
On two counts Paul emphasizes the need for urgency. Those who have not yet accepted the Lord's favor and salvation should respond today. And those who have the opportunity to "urge" others to receive God's grace should always act quickly. While "tomorrow" may hold amazing possibilities, we only have the guarantee of TODAY.
What are you waiting for my friend? If you have chosen to put off God's amazing offer of forgiveness and new life in Jesus, don't wait another minute. And if you have received this wonderful gift, who has God brought into your life that needs to hear? Don't wait, because "tomorrow" on this earth may never come. Remember, we only have the guarantee of TODAY!

Think about this: "The Bible, which ranges over a period of four thousand years, records but one instance of a deathbed conversion — one that none may despair, and but one that none may presume."
                                                  - William Guthrie

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Guarantee

"Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." -- 2 Corinthians 5:5
I saved my pennies for quite some time and on March 16, 1979 I took the love of my life to the beach and wrote "Will you marry me?" in the sand. When she wrote "Yes", I slipped the ring on her finger and we were engaged. That ring guaranteed what would take place sixteen months later on July 19, 1980; we were married and started a new home together. For the months between, my sweetheart would look at her ring and know, without question, that a wedding was coming. She had "a deposit, guaranteeing what what is to come."
For every believer there's a day coming when the promise of a heavenly home will come true. How can we be sure of such a future? Does anyone have a personal guarantee? Rather than a tangible ring of engagement, the believer has the life changing, personal presence of the Spirit of God. The doubts and fears of the future have been replaced with assurance and courage. The Lord has made his home within our hearts to "guarantee what is to come".    
Do you have a fear of death my friend? Are you determined to avoid the passage into eternity at any cost? Why be filled with insecurities about your life after death? As any young couple looks forward to their future, so every believer has very good reason to be excited and hopeful about their heavenly home, because the Spirit of God has been given to "guarantee what is to come."
Think about this: "Our spiritual estate standeth upon a sure bottom; the beginning is from God the Father, the dispensation from the Son and the application from the Holy Ghost... It is free in the Father, sure in the Son, ours in the Spirit."
                                                                      ~ Thomas Manton

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Show God's ...

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." -- 2 Corinthians 4:7
I find it interesting that whenever I buy a bouquet of flowers for my wife she is focused on the flowers and cares very little for the vase. The poor little guy just sits there unassuming, holding all the beautiful flowers together for everyone to see and appreciate. And that's the way it should be; to show God's beautiful flowers.
Paul tells us that the Lord "made his light shine in our hearts" (vs. 6). We are merely the little vases in which he shines. The world is meant to see the "all-surpassing power" from God in our "vases"... or "jars of clay". It's not about us and all that we can be; it's all about the Lord and all that can be seen of him. And that's the way it should be; to show God's bountiful power.
What do others see when you come around my friend? Are you more concerned that they see the vase that they miss the flowers you contain? Do they ever see the "all-surpassing power" from God in your life and marvel at him? Don't ever forget... we're just "jars of clay". And that's the way we should be: to show God's overwhelming glory.

Think about this: "I was but a pen in God's hands, and what praise is due to a pen?"
                                                            - Richard Baxter

Friday, September 19, 2014

Living letters

"You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." -- 2 Corinthians 3:2-3
While we waited for my orthopedic doctor to come into the office recently I reviewed his many degrees and diplomas on the wall. Then I looked carefully at an interesting picture by the window. The photo was of an injured NFL football player who was being treated by our doctor. I believed then that I was in good hands; not because of framed certificates on the wall, but because of the living experience portrayed in the photo.
As Paul said; our letters of recommendation are people changed by our ministry, not diplomas and ordination certificates. We are often more impressed by a man's academic credentials than the results of his ministry. After all is said and done, when we appear before the Lord, will he ask what degrees we have acquired? Or will he review the lives that were changed for Christ by our testimony and influence? Our ultimate credentials are the living letters of people.
Are you pursuing a degree right now, or sometime in the near future? This is a good thing if it will provide you with the tools to better care for the souls of others. But never rest in the certificates on the wall as your credibility for ministry. The call of God, a servant's heart and lives changed are your recommendations. Your single and most valuable credential will always be the living letters of people changed for Jesus.

Think about this: "Before the judgment seat of Christ my service will not be judged by how much I have done but by how much of me there is in it. No man gives at all until he has given all. No man gives anything acceptable to God until he has first given himself in love and sacrifice."
- A. W. Tozer

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lingering fragrance

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him." - 2 Corinthians 2:14
Just after finishing college I worked as a store detective for a large department store. I would walk the store aisles through the day watching for shoplifters. Numerous times a day I would step into an aisle and I would immediately know that the office manager had recently passed by. She was far out of sight, but her fragrance lingered.
Paul tells us that every believer has the privilege of being led in triumphal procession in Christ. The battle has been won and as a result we are saved. We are now sent into the world to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere we travel. As spiritual conquerors in the Lord, wherever we go, the sweet smell of victory should linger.
How do people feel after you've left the room? When you're far out of sight are they glad that you were there? Do you leave a pleasant scent of the "Lily of the Valley" (Song of Solomon 2:1) behind? Wherever you go, does the sweet smell of victory linger?

Think about this: "The people who influence us are those who have stood unconsciously for the right thing; they are like the stars and the lilies; and the joy of God flows through them."
          - Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Comfort to comfort

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." -- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
In January 2010, a Magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti. The weeks that followed brought tons of supplies into the country, but many reports suggested that the provisions were undistributed, being held up in warehouses. Such stories of delayed relief were most distressing and raise the question; why give so much, to relieve so few?
When we reflect on the outpouring of God's blessings in our lives, Paul gives us food for thought. God "comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those who in any trouble". The Lord gives blessings to us in great abundance to share, not to hoard. The beauty of this truth is that the more we give to others, the more God gives to share. After all, why should the Lord give so much, to relieve so few?
When was the last time the Lord poured out his blessing in your life? Did you seek the opportunity to be a great blessing to someone else as a result? If the doors of your life were opened, would it look like those who are called "hoarders" on TV? Or is your life like a fresh stream, ever flowing into the lives of others with God's abundant provisions? Don't let the Lord give you so much, and relieve so few!

Think about this: "We are never more like God than when we give."
- Charles R. Swindoll