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Archive for August, 2011

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT.

Paul beautifully brings into perspective what is really important.  He acknowledges that the outward person is perishing, but focuses on the inward person being renewed every day. He is not suggesting that you ignore your physical needs.  Rather, he simply notes that as human beings you naturally will age.  Paul himself experienced many bodily trials such as being beaten, shipwrecked, and imprisoned.  His whole life was lived with the hope of eternity.

As Christians you must live your life each day in the grace that God gives that supernaturally empowers you to do His will. You can be confident of His care for you and that He will lead and guide you. You walk by faith and not by sight.  To live with eternity in your heart changes your perspective of what is truly important.

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“Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are are messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, ‘Light up the darkness!’ and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful. If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.” 2 Corinthians 4:5-7 (The Message)

The Treasure of God is carried in your human frailty.  Every day you carry the glory of being a new creation in Christ.  Just like God spoke “let there be light” and light shone in the darkness (Genesis 1:3), the lost person comes out of darkness into God’s marvelous light when he or she is born again.  You are just a jar of clay that carries the eternal light.  As an earthen vessel, you have to depend totally on God’s power.  Your focus today should not be on the vessel, but on the treasure inside.  Your focus is not on being the messenger, but on the Message you carry.

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“Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. 2 Corinthians 3:1-5 NLT.

If you have been a Christian for a number of years, ask yourself this question, “Who am I pouring my life into?”  Your primary calling as a Christian is to reproduce the life of Christ in others.  Jesus has called you to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Paul begins 2 Corinthians 3 by refuting a group that carried “letters of recommendation” but criticized the fact that Paul did not have these letters.  Paul responds by claiming that he had a living letter that had been written on the hearts of those who benefited from Paul’s ministry.  The living letter he spoke of was not written with pen or chiseled on stone, but was written onto their hearts by the Spirit of the living God.  Paul’s legitimacy was proven by changed lives.

Today, the fruit of your life is measured by your impact on the lives of others.  If you are a parent, are you leaving an imprint of righteous character into the lives of your children? As a friend, do those that you love the most feel uplifted and strengthened when they are with you? As you share the gospel with “neighbors”, do they look at your life and want to emulate what they see in you?

You are not sufficient in and of yourself.  Your confidence of sharing the message of Christ with others is anchored on your trust in God.  As you hope in the Lord Jesus, you will be a signpost that points others to Him.

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“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours? My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God!  I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” Psalm 42:1-5 NLT

The best strategy to overcome discouragement is to put your hope in God.  When you are disappointed freshly focus on God’s promises. As you trust deeply in God your faith will confront fear and unbelief which may try to cling to your heart.  Faith comes alive in you when you speak the truth out of your mouth.  Preach the word to yourself and you will be surprised how your hope will revive as you concentrate on who God is.  God will help you in your time of need.  Worship Him and trust Him completely.

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“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 NKJV

When you come into agreement with the word, the will and the ways of God, all of heaven backs you up.  All of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with His “yes.”  When you agree with God’s promise, you say the “amen,” or “so be it!”  It is God Himself who enables you to stand firm in Christ.  He is the One who commissioned you and identified you as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in your heart as the guarantee of all that He has promised.

Whatever God has promised you gets stamped with “yes” from Jesus.  God’s “yes” and our “yes” together brings glory to God’s eternal plan.  God’s affirmation for His will to be accomplished in your life, is His eternal pledge.  In Him, you have a sure beginning of what He is destined to complete.

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“Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles surround me— too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage.  Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me… may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!” As for me, since I am poor and needy, let the Lord keep me in his thoughts. You are my helper and my savior. O my God, do not delay.” Psalm 40: 11-13; 16-17 NLT.

In this present life there are always new battles to fight and fresh difficulties to face.  We are dependent upon God to help us.  In the midst of trials, part of our solution is to worship God and to receive His equipping to overcome. As we meditate on God’s goodness we magnify His greatness. He is more than able to meet our desperate need.

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“Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock, with an iron pen and lead, forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:23-27 NKJV

In times of deep affliction and agony you have the opportunity to know and experience God in a deeper way than is possible without going through pain.  In Philippians 3:10 Paul says “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings…” You get to know God and have companionship with Him as you suffer.  You gain an understanding of His power to raise the dead and redeem impossible situations as you walk through valleys of discouragement, depression and death.  He is the ultimate life-giver.

Job’s revelation of God as his redeemer is life-changing.  His knowledge that his redeemer lives gives him hope and endurance.  His heart yearned for this deeper knowledge of God.  He desired to see Him for who He was.

As you walk through the difficulties of your day, let Job’s revelation encourage and strengthen you. Find the depth of fellowship with God as He comforts and consoles you.  You are able to cast all of your cares on Him, because He cares for you.

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