Friday, October 9, 2015

Smooth Sailing

"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!

Thursday, October 8, 2015


"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!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The beginning of Wisdom

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise." -- Psalm 111:10
It wasn't long after entering basic training for the Air Force that I learned to "fear" or respect my Training Instructor. One very important aspect of military training is to honor and follow the direction of leadership. The sooner this quality is established the easier it is to understand and contribute to the military program. In this way, one finds the beginning of wisdom.
The psalmist knew the need for "fear" or reverence for the Lord. The army of God can never move with power and order if everyone is doing their own thing. As someone once said, "There is a God... and you're not him!" The church can have only one true leader and the rest of us are called upon to follow HIM. In this way we will grow in understanding and better contribute to his kingdom work. This alone is the beginning of wisdom.
Have you truly learned to "fear" or revere the Lord my friend? Do you face each day with a surrender of personal goals, seeking the leading of the Lord? Is the will of God first and foremost in your heart moment by moment? You will only understand his purpose as you follow his direction. In this way, you will experience the beginning of wisdom.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

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."

Monday, October 5, 2015

Showing God

"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.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Greater Power

"With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies." - Psalm 108:13
My father-in-law was part of the occupation troops that landed on the beaches of Japan after the bombs were dropped. As he reflected on those early days, he concluded that were it not for the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese would have continued fighting indefinitely. The result would have been a massive number of American lives lost in the process. But victory was gained by a greater power.
There are times when we realize that the battle will rage on indefinitely if we fight it alone. Spiritual warfare is not easy and the casualties are many. We were never expected to face the enemy alone. David said to the giant in 1 Samuel 17:45, "I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel". He knew that victory could only be gained by a greater power.
Are you fighting with all your might only to find that you're losing ground? Is sin taking you to task and leaving you wounded and worn to a frazzle? Are you just about ready to give up? You see my friend, you can't win the battle alone, but "with God we will gain the victory". On the spiritual battlefield we all need a greater power.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

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 I waited for my orthopedic doctor to come into the office I reviewed his many degrees and diplomas on the wall. Then I looked carefully at an eight by ten signed picture on the mantel. The photo was of a young football player who expressed his appreciation for the care he received from our doctor. I therefore concluded that I was in good hands; not because of framed certificates on the wall, but because of the living letter 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.