Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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
I remember reviewing the many degrees and diplomas on the wall of my orthopedic physician. I finally took a close look at an interesting picture by the window. The photo was of an injured NFL football player who was being treated by my 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

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Hoarding or 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!

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

Monday, September 16, 2019

A grip and 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 dog 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.

Think about this: "Joy is love exalted; peace is love in repose; long-suffering is love enduring; gentleness is love in society; goodness is love in action; faith is love on the battlefield; meekness is love in school; and temperance is love in training."
- Dwight Lyman Moody

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Never in Vain ...

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." -- 1 Corinthians 15:58
This spring was a painful experience for me. I decided to install a two car driveway with blue chip and Belgian block at our home. I ended up seeing the Chiropractor for the rest of the summer, but the driveway is a real honey! My labor was not in vain.
Paul's teaching on the resurrection is a great motivator. The promise of a glorified body in our future gives us hope and a driving force to press on in our spiritual lives. The work of the ministry may be hard and exhausting, but as we push ourselves for Jesus there will be a final day when our work will be complete. Then we will find, not a great driveway or some other magnificent achievement, but an imperishable body that will inherit the kingdom of God. Our labor for the Lord is never in vain.
Last week, or last month may have been grueling. You may be so tired and almost too weary to continue. Don't give up my friend. The way may be hard, but the end will be sweet. Keep your eye on the prize and be assured that your labor in the Lord is never in vain.

Think about this: "Christians that would hold on in the service of the Lord must look more upon the crown than upon the cross."
                                                                  - Thomas Brooks

Saturday, September 14, 2019

All encompassing ...

"If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied." - 1 Corinthians 15:19
When you are considering new employment, benefits are a major priority. Yes, you appreciate a weekly salary that will pay your bills, but your focus is definitely on the future. If, after thirty years, all you have is a drawer full of pay stubs but no retirement, you may feel quite empty. Future hope is all encompassing.
When you take into consideration the daily blessings we have in Christ, the above verse is quite thought provoking. Isn't grace for the journey enough to satisfy? The answer may be found in the idea of "journey". Without a risen Savior we are all on a "journey" to nowhere. Future hope is all encompassing.
One day at a time is good advice, but when we come to the end of all our days what will we have? With a risen Savior we have both daily blessings and heaven as well! In light of such a promise there is nothing to pity. Future hope is all encompassing.

Think about this: "Everything antecedent in the incarnate life of our Lord moves towards the resurrection and everything subsequent rests upon it and is conditioned by it."
                                                                             - John Murray

Friday, September 13, 2019

Work harder ...

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." -- 1 Corinthians 15:10
Ah yes, we are what we are by the grace of God. Such is a profound truth that should keep us focused every day of our lives. But, as a result, do we work harder? In another place we read, "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13). We love His grace and HIS working, but what about OUR working?
Evangelicals have battled so much over "grace alone" for our salvation that we forget about the fact of Ephesians 2:10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." God gives free grace, and we should freely work.
How about it my friend, are you working harder today because you are what you are by the grace of God? Are you so devoted to His cause that you work with unlimited diligence? In the words of our Lord, "As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work." (John 9:4) By the grace of God, work harder.

Think about this: "You cannot be too active as regards your own efforts; you cannot be too dependent as regards divine grace. Do everything as if God did nothing; depend upon God as if he did everything."
                                                                - John Angell James

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Order to be productive ...

"What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church... For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." -- 1 Corinthians 14:26, 33
The first edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, whose full title was Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies, was published in February 1876 by U.S Army Brigadier General Henry Martyn Robert and is currently in its tenth edition. Robert desired a means to provide order in church and various business meetings. Over the years I have used this little treasure successfully to keep organization and peace. There needs to be order to be productive.
From the time Paul penned the above words, to church meetings conducted last week, without organization and orderly direction there can be no benefit. There are many who come to services and meetings with much to offer for the strengthening of the assembly. But like a beautiful symphony, each part must be contributed at the right time and in the right way to the produce sweet music. There needs to be order to be productive.
The next time you attend a service, special meeting or business session, allow good order to prevail. Pray for the leadership to have wisdom to guide the event in a peaceful manner. Should you have something to contribute; remember that you are only one part of the whole and are participating in a Divine symphony. There needs to be order to be productive.

Think about this: "Christians in concert are an abridgment of heaven, shining like a firmament of bright stars."
                                                            - George Swinnock