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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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“The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the LORD.” Proverbs 21:31.

We only succeed when we completely depend on God.  No matter how strong, wise or prepared you may be, it is only God who brings about victory.  We do prepare for what God is calling us to do.  In Biblical times, the horse was one of their primary tools of warfare.  To prepare a horse to be armed and disciplined in battle was essential to their success.  Even so, salvation and deliverance are from the Lord.  He is able to save us with or without armies.  You must seek God and trust Him to be your defender.  When success is obtained, he is the one you must give all of the glory to.  When you prepare for battle, remember to prepare you heart for God to move.  He is your friend, savior, and deliverer.  Put your hope in Him.  He will not disappoint or delay.  He is for you!

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“You have granted me life and favor, and Your care has preserved my spirit.” Job 10:12

God is in the midst of the trials of your life.  As you suffer, you are able to identify with others who suffer.  At one time or another, you have probably felt like Job.  Job gives us God’s perspective on suffering.  Job loved God and gave sacrifices to God.  He was devout and without sin, yet he suffered severe testing by Satan.

The book of Job shows how a righteous man suffered, and how God used the suffering in Job’s life to clarify God’s heart and His perspective.  When Job was going through his trial he did not have a Bible to help Him to understand God.  God used Job’s suffering to work a greater good.

In the first chapters of Job, he is seen to be blessed by the Lord.  But Satan came and tempted Job.  Job loses everything: his children, his property, and his health. Yet at the deepest point of his loss, he worshipped God.  His relationship with God helped him through his devastating loss. The relationship between Job and God was tested.  God is shown to be both sovereign and compassionate.

God allows difficult things so that you can grow and learn.  His question is “where is God” in all of this?  Job did not have the New Testament or the revelation of Jesus rising from the dead.  Yet, you can see how God comes through for Job. In the midst of his pain he acknowledged that God had granted him life and favor and preserved his spirit.  Whatever trial you are facing, allow God to take you through it.  Don’t go alone.

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“Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you by giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed… Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace. But the rebellious will be destroyed; they have no future. The Lord rescues the godly; He is their fortress in times of trouble. The Lord helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they find shelter in Him.”  Psalm 37:34, 37-40 NLT

David wrote Psalm 37 as an older king who reflected on the age-old problem of why the wicked seem to prosper while the righteous suffer.  David may have been using this Psalm to prepare Solomon as the future King.  David was taking the long view of the subject rather than a short evaluation.  David’s encouragement to wait on the Lord and trust in His promises continues to strengthen believers today who may feel discouraged or disappointed in their present circumstances.

David makes his way through Psalm 37 and charges the following: trust in the Lord; delight in the Lord; commit your way to the Lord; rest in the Lord; the Lord blesses His people; the Lord judges the wicked.  Understanding that in the end the righteous will prosper in God and the wicked will be judged, helps you to not “fret” about the small things and worry when others seem to be getting ahead.

Part of putting our hope in the Lord is to travel steadily on His path and not to vier to the right or to the left. Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 7:13-14  “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it NIV.”   By staying on the narrow path of God’s will, you will be honored by God and you will inherit the land of promise.  You are promised to have a wonderful future, for God himself rescues the godly.  God is your strong tower in times of trouble.  You can trust Him to deliver you from evil as you put your trust in Him.

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