Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Misdirected...

"For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." -- Romans 10:2-4 
The pilot announced, "I have good news and bad news; the good news is, we're making great time and the bad news is, we're lost." Yes, it's an old worn out joke, but it readily applies in this case. Zeal and progress may be tremendous, but when the knowledge is lacking and the direction is wrong, all is lost.
Religion may seem to be just right, but if it isn't true to Scripture then people will suffer, both now and eternally. Paul wrote about his nation and the incredible zeal they had for God. Their relationship was solely built on a righteousness of their own without submitting to God's righteousness. For these "religious" people, there was no place for Christ, the end of the law.
Too many people are under the persuasion that they "know" all there is about the Bible and religion. Their zeal is unfounded and misdirected as a result. The reason to read the Scriptures is to find truth and find our way to God. While Paul wrote in verse 13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”, he also wrote in verse 17, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."  Don't be in such a hurry that you lose your way. Stop and read the Word and be zealous for what is true.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Selfless Compassion...

"I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race..." -- Romans 9:1-3
I attended an ordination service for a good friend some years ago. He was being ordained to the Gospel ministry with a focus on inner city mission work. His brother spoke of growing up near the city and making many visits as a family. One thing he remembered about my friend was the way he wept over the homeless and downtrodden of the city. To this day my friend has unceasing anguish in his heart for the city. He has selfless compassion.
Sincere ministry should be passionate. The passion comes from deep within and motivates us as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14, "For Christ’s love compels us..." In the above passage he is also moved by the lost condition of his brothers and he has a passion for their salvation. His passion is so strong that he is willing to be cut off from Christ for the sake of his brothers. He had selfless compassion.
Jesus gave his life for the salvation of the lost, what are we willing to give? Do we love the Lord and the lost enough to be passionate about their salvation? May we pray for the passion of Paul as we look to the fields that are white unto harvest? Sincere ministry needs selfless compassion.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

FOREVER!

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39
Over the years I have used a number of glues and epoxies. Some have been waterproof, others have been limited to wood, plastic or metal. There were also the well known "super-glues" that would restore your broken lamp in seconds. Still, the most important quality of any adhesive product is the ability to remain secure over time. 
Paul was confident in "super-glue" of God's love. It was and is impervious to catastrophes, life changes, earthly powers or the passage of time. Ultimately, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Such love can and will restore your broken life in seconds and you will remain secure over time.
Have you experienced trouble, hardship and rocky roads recently my friend? Have you questioned the love and care of others? Do you feel as if no one can put the pieces back together? Well, there is Someone who loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and is ready to not only restore your broken life, but will hold you tight ... FOREVER!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Heirs and glory...

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." -- Romans 8:17-18
Through the last two hundred years the majority of British monarchs have served in the military. Their service stretched from the American Revolution through World War Two. While they were officers, they were still involved in war, and the way to the throne was not easy. But, because they were heirs, the glory was theirs.
As children of the King of Kings, believers will share in his glory. Our path will lead us through the battles of spiritual warfare and the way may not be easy. As soldiers of the cross, we are called upon to serve our King with faithfulness in the darkest days of suffering. Yet, because we are heirs, the glory will be ours.
Just because you are a co-heir with Christ, doesn't mean the road to heaven will be paved with gold. The battles will be tough and the hardships many. But, remember my friend, "that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us". So, because we are heirs, the glory will ours.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The difference of relationship...

"So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God." -- Romans 7:4
A florist delivers flowers because of his job. A husband delivers flowers because of his love. The one fulfills his task out of obligation and the other out of devotion. Now, when the florist gives flowers to his wife his obligation ceases and his romance begins. The difference is a relationship.
The law was given to reveal the inability of man to fulfill his obligation to God. It was never meant to save his soul or enable him to bear spiritual fruit. In Christ we not only died to sin, but we also died to the law. Now we belong to the One who rose from the dead in order that we might bear fruit to God. The obligation has ceased and the romance has begun. The difference is a relationship.
Why do you strive to live a Godly life my friend? Is it because of legal expectations? This train left the station at Calvary and you now belong to Jesus with a loving devotion. Take him flowers of romance, not of obligation. Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The chains are broken!

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" -- Romans 6:1-2
In his book on Elephants, Gavin de Becker tells how young Elephants are held to a stake by strong chains until they no longer struggle. After a few months, the huge beast can be held in place by a slender rope. The animal is free to run, but the memory of strong resistance keeps him in place. The chains are gone, but the conduct is unchanged.
While such Elephant training may be a good thing for the sake of safety, the chains of sin have been removed with greater expectations. Paul reminds believers that we have died to sin and its power no longer holds us as slaves. Since we are united with Christ we may now live a new life in his resurrection power. Our chains are gone, so we our conduct should change.
Could it be true that believers still live in sin, making grace increase? Is it possible that while we have died with Christ, we don't live with him? The chains are broken and it's up to us to "count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (vs.11). Don't be like a well trained Elephant, held down to sinful living by a slender rope. The chains have been broken and you've been set free. Live for God and reap the benefits!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Stay the course...

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." -- Romans 5:3-4
The promises and hope of a new career can be easily dashed when challenges and struggles enter the picture. For some the job is dumped and an easier path is chosen. But others will stay the course and grow through the hardships and become successful. It's all about an inner drive.
For the believer there is great joy in knowing that they have peace with God and are forgiven. But when sufferings come, and they will, how should they respond? They not only press on, but they rejoice in their sufferings finding spiritual qualities growing in their lives. All this is possible only through an inner drive... the Holy Spirit.
Before you give up the fight my friend, remember that God has poured out his love into your heart. He who has begun a good work in your life will never give up. So stay the course and press on, because you have an everlasting inner drive that will never leave you... the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Be persuaded...

"Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." -- Romans 4:20-21
Millions of dollars are spent every year with one purpose in mind: persuasion. Efforts are made to persuade us to trust insurance companies, investment firms, law firms, security providers and health providers. Trust them and they will see you through any and every dilemma that may come your way. But, do they have the power to do what they promise?
Promises of an incredible nature were made to Abraham. To the human mind they were impossible, but Abraham believed God, and "it was credited to him as righteousness." Just as Abraham did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, we too should be persuaded. Why? God has the power to do what he promises!
My friend, the Lord has promised the gift of new life to all who will believe. It seems impossible that anyone can begin again and have a totally changed life and heaven to boot, but it's true. This is God's promise to keep and ours to believe. We never need to fear or doubt; no matter how dark the days may become. God paid the highest price in history to persuade us of his power. Jesus "was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification". Be persuaded my friend... Be persuaded and live!!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Our only cure...

"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood..."  -- Romans 3:23-25
Guilt is real. But what has be done to remedy this great weight upon our hearts? Throughout the years psychological pursuits and various forms of religious efforts have been made to set us free from the burden. Yet, guilt continues to lay upon every soul around the globe for "all have sinned" and there is only one cure.
Paul presented a very thorough case of universal guilt of the religious and irreligious. Down deep within every heart there is great guilt that cannot be relieved. To be justified and forgiven a price of redemption had to be paid that was quite specific. That price to clear our guilt was the shed blood of Jesus. This alone is the only cure.
As the old green stamp "redemption center" was a place to find all kinds of treasures, the "redemption center" of the cross of Christ is a place to find the greatest treasure. We no longer need to carry our guilt through life. Forgiveness has been paid for and can be ours "through faith in his blood." That is our only cure.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Change through faith...

"For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." - Romans 3:20
I have two temperature instruments in my home. One is a thermometer and the other is a thermostat. The first one tells me what the temperature is and the second controls the temperature. No matter how cold it gets, the thermometer can never adjust the temperature. Change can only come through the thermostat.
Like these two wonderful instruments, we have the law and faith. Many people confuse the two and believe that the law can change the spiritual temperature and make one righteous. As we read above, the thermometer of law can only reveal sin and never improve the condition. Change can only come through the thermostat of faith. 
Be careful my friend and never depend on the works of the law to change your heart. Learn from the law how great a sinner you are and flee into the arms of Christ and be transformed from within.  Change can only come through faith.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hypocrites...

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." -- Romans 2:1
Over the years I have met a vast number of people who claim one major reason for not attending church. They believe that there are too many hypocrites in the church. The sad truth is; there are and always have been hypocrites in the church. As a matter of fact, our world is full of hypocrites. These are people who criticize others for doing the same things that they do. We are all hypocrites to some degree and we need God's mercy.
Paul addressed the "unchurched" and the "churched" in chapter one and two. In the above verse he speaks to those who think themselves to be without fault. But, he reminds them that God judges us all according to truth and every man needs the Lord's kindness that leads to repentance. Before we pass judgment on others, we ought to look in the mirror and seek God's mercy.
Our human nature will always be prone to see others as sinners and ourselves as righteous. But, let's be honest and take a closer look. We're all in the same boat and we need God's patient forgiveness. The next time you criticize someone, look in the mirror and take inventory. Don't judge hypocrites because you may be one. Be grateful for the riches of God's kindness and seek his mercy.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Real POWER...

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." -- Romans 1:16
Over 450,000 tons of granite was removed from Mount Rushmore while carving the four presidents. The process was quite dangerous since ninety per cent of the mountain was carved out using dynamite. With the power of this explosive, four sixty foot sculptures were carved out of solid rock. Dynamite is an extraordinary power to behold.
The word used to name Alfred Nobel's invention is derived from the Greek word found in this passage for power. The choice was quite appropriate, since such explosive power is needed to break the chains of sin and set the soul free. When there seems to be no hope, and the grip of sin is rock solid, the dynamite of the gospel is an extraordinary power to behold.
Salvation from the penalty, power and presence of sin is impossible with man. If you feel that religion has failed you and you are completely disconnected from God, try the Gospel. It is simply defined in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, "...Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" For all who believe, the gospel is an extraordinary power to behold.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Love them like Jesus...

"After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece." - Acts 20:1-2
I have a pastor friend in western Pennsylvania that, a few years ago, had a summer of incredible tribulation. His months had been filled with surgery and rehab, followed by further surgery and extensive rehab. All this was mixed with family and church grief of losing loved ones. Yet, in all his rainy days he was ever diligent to encourage others in every way possible. He welcomed each day with thoughts on the Lord and spread the good word.
Paul set us a living and lasting example of how to deal with hardships and trials of life. In the face of violent opposition and personal danger, his mind was focused on encouraging the disciples. He made this his intention where he was located and his goal where ever he traveled. Paul was true to his exhortation as written in Philippians 2:4 "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."
The best way to rise above the clouds in your life is to reach out to others. When you are involved in the welfare of someone else to encourage and bless them, your own struggles will fade into the background. Take time to redirect your efforts today my friend. Encourage someone in whatever way possible and love them like Jesus.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Test yourself...

"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test." -- 2 Corinthians 13:5-6
The following explanation is found on the SAT web site: "The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are a suite of tools designed to assess your academic readiness for college... measuring the skills required for success in the 21st century." Simply put, this is a test to discover your knowledge and skill for further study and success. For many, their future depends on the results.
Paul never took anything for granted. When he wrote to these believers in Corinth, he challenged them to test themselves. He may have offended some, but such a test is far more important than any SAT exam. This is the final test to discover your position with Christ. Is Jesus your Lord and Savior or not? For everyone, their future depends on the results.
When did you take that step of faith my friend? Was it a sincere confession of sin, repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ as your only means of salvation? Has your life been transformed by the Spirit of God living within your heart? Don't blow it off; test yourself now, because your future depends on the results.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Masquerader...

"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." -- 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
It won't be long before children and even adults will "masquerade" as someone other than themselves. They will dress in costumes for fun and entertainment, but there are those who regularly change their identity for evil purposes. Some wear masks to rob banks and others change names and appearances to deceive people out of money. The "masquerade" eventually leads to their condemnation.
In the spiritual life there are many who seek to lead others astray for personal gain. They talk the talk and appear to be true believers, but in fact they are simply false apostles. They preach and teach another Jesus than the Lord of the Bible. Paul wrote with great concern for his spiritual children, that they would not be deceived like Eve had been in the garden. Remember, if someone's righteousness is only a "masquerade", it will only lead to condemnation.
Costume parties may be fun for the moment, but we eventually need to take off our masks and embrace the truth. Be careful of those who are not the real deal and strive to lead you down the wrong path. Be discerning when listening to the teaching of others and settle for nothing short of the God of the Bible. Any other God is a "masquerade" and will only lead to condemnation.

Monday, September 11, 2017

His "Fame"...

"But, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. "For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." -- 2 Corinthians 10:17-18
The lyrics to the Broadway song "Fame" include the following: “… I'm gonna make it to heaven, Light up the sky like a flame, Fame … I'm gonna live forever, Baby remember my name, RememberRemember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember my name” It's a catchy tune as well as a catchy concept. Many people live their whole life for "Fame".
A lot of people believe that living forever is being remembered for becoming someone famous. They commend themselves so often that they become legends in their own minds. But, Paul makes it clear that true "Fame" is only found in the Lord's approval. The lyrics of "The Famous One" written by Chris Tomlin are far more Biblical and true; “You are the Lord, The famous one, Famous one, Great is your name, In all the earth, The heavens declare, You're glorious, glorious, Great is your fame Beyond the earth” Wisdom says that we should live our whole life for God's "Fame".
Are you boasting in yourself or the Lord? Do you live for your own "Fame" or the "Fame" of God? The point is that the Lord is already the "Famous One". So, as you pursue "Fame" in your daily activities, let it be His "Fame"... not yours.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The grace that keeps on giving!

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." -- 2 Corinthians 9:8 
We collect lighthouses. One lighthouse in our collection sits outside with a working light that shines in the dark. It has a little solar chip that soaks in sun rays all day and then lights up all evening. The sun rays are free and abundant, providing the blessing of continuous illumination. God's sunlight is a gift that just keeps on giving.
In the same way God provides for the needs of his children in abundance. His grace abounds, so that in all things at all times, we have all that we need. The Lord blesses us this way so we will abound in every good work. In other words, the light of God's grace is free and abundant, providing continuous blessing. His grace is a gift that just keeps on giving.
Have your daily needs been recently met by God's abundant grace? Is there food in the cupboard and gas in the car? Are your bills paid up to date and a little left over? Then God's grace has provided all that you need and enabled you be a blessing to others. Remember, God's grace is a gift that just keeps on giving. So let your light shine and be a blessing to someone today!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The privilege of giving...

"For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will." -- 2 Corinthians 8:3-5
Time and again catastrophes occur and financial help is desperately needed. Money is quite often raised through concerts and similar fundraisers. People are touched by the needs of others, but they still need to be motivated to give. Part of such motivation involves providing the donor with some personal benefit from their donation. Selfless giving is a rare commodity.
Paul noted a very significant quality in the churches of Macedonia. These believers were motivated to give toward the needs of others without receiving personal benefits. Why, you may ask; because they made the choice to give themselves first to the Lord. As a result of such spiritual devotion they pleaded for the privilege to share in helping others in need. When the heart is given to the Lord first, selfless giving is never rare.
Do you struggle when asked to give to the needs of ministry and compassionate care for the hurting? Are you one of those who need to be motivated? Or have you given yourself wholeheartedly to the Lord and consider it a tremendous privilege to share in the ministry of giving? Once you've given yourself to the Lord, the privilege of giving is no longer rare, it becomes an exciting opportunity.

Friday, September 8, 2017

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!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

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!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

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."

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Jars of clay...

"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.

Monday, September 4, 2017

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
One afternoon 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 believed then 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.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The smell of victory...

"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?

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Be a blessing!

"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!

Friday, September 1, 2017

A steel grip in a velvet glove...

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love." -- 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
My grip is no different than most men my age. I can easily crush a soda can with one hand or maintain a firm grip on my "All American" pup. when she wants to chase a squirrel across the street. At the same time I can hold a new born infant tenderly or carry an egg across the kitchen without breaking the shell. It's God's creative gift to have a steel grip in a velvet glove.
The believer has much the same quality spiritually. As Paul counsels, we are to be firm and strong, doing everything in love. Our guard should never be down and our courage should never wane. We are to have a spiritual strength that confronts evil forcefully and presses on toward righteousness powerfully. At the same time we are to minister with the loving compassion and tenderness of our heavenly Father. We are born again with a steel grip in a velvet glove.
How about you my friend? Are you the kind of believer that is known to be firm and strong? Yet, is it rare that anyone experiences your loving touch? Or are you quite loving in everything and have no courage to deal with evil and pursue righteousness? The Lord created you with a unique grip physically and a similar spiritual quality. As you fully exercise all that you are spiritually, you too should have a steel grip in a velvet glove.