Friday, July 29, 2011

Do you need what you want?

2 Corinthians 8:9-15

    You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus Christ was. Though he was very rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.
     I suggest that you finish what you started a year ago, for you were the first to propose this idea, and you were the first to begin doing something about it. Now you should carry this project through to completion just as enthusiastically as you began it. Give whatever you can according to what you have. If you are really eager to give, it isn’t important how much you are able to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you don’t have. Of course, I don’t mean you should give so much that you suffer from having too little. I only mean that there should be some equality. Right now you have plenty and can help them. Then at some other time they can share with you when you need it. In this way, everyone’s needs will be met. Do you remember what the Scriptures say about this? “Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough.”

     Christ gave up his throne and position and humbled himself to become a man just so we can experience salvation. In other words, he became poor so we could become rich. He gave up all that he had so we could have everything we need. That is powerful! When was the last time you gave enough of something to become uncomfortable so that someone else could gain what they needed? If Christ gave His all for us, we should at least be willing to give a little of ourselves.

     Paul is encouraging the Corinthian church to follow through on what they had promised to do a year earlier, which was to take up an offering for the Jerusalem church. They apparently had good intentions but failed to follow through with those intentions. Paul was making them live up to their commitments because he wanted to teach them some valuable lessons: 1) they needed to be a people of their word; 2) the principal of sowing and reaping; 3) God gives to us so that we can give to others.

     The last verse in this portion of scripture, Paul is quoting Exodus 16:18, which is in reference to God supplying manna each morning for the children of Israel. God knew that they were in the middle of the desert and had no means for supplying their own food, so each and every morning after the dew dried up; thin, white, frost-like flakes were left on the ground. God commanded that each person was to gather two quarts for themselves each day, no more, no less. So each family went out each morning and gathered manna, the larger the family, the more manna they had to gather, but still only two quarts per person. The smaller the family, the less they had to gather, but still only two quarts per person. With this principal, each family had enough manna to meet their needs for that day, no more or no less.

     Paul was using that story to teach the Corinthians the same principal. God would supply their NEEDS each and every day, no more or no less, as long as they were faithful and obedient to the Lord. The same holds true for us. As long as we are faithful and obedient to the Lord, He will supply or NEEDS each and every day. The problem that we have is our distinction between our needs and our wants. If we are faithful and true to God, often times, He blesses us with our wants, but we need to remember that we can survive in this world with just our needs. Overindulgence on self is not God’s will for our lives. He blesses us so that we can bless others, plain and simple.

     Have you ever gone a day where your NEEDS have not been met? Have you ever taken the time to thank God for meeting your NEEDS, or have you instead grumbled, complained, begged and pleaded for God’s help in paying for your wants? Take some time today to contemplate the difference between your needs and wants. Ask God to show you some things that you may need to get rid of in your life. Take some extra time today to sincerely thank God for all that He has supplied for you.

Have a great day!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What's in your heart?

2 Corinthians 8:1-8

     Now I want to tell you, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done for the churches in Macedonia. Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the gracious privilege of sharing in the gift for the Christians in Jerusalem. Best of all, they went beyond our highest hopes, for their first action was to dedicate themselves to the Lord and to us for whatever directions God might give them.

     So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to complete your share in this ministry of giving. Since you excel in so many ways – you have so much faith, such gifted speakers, such knowledge, such enthusiasm, and such love for us – now I want you to excel also in this gracious ministry of giving. I am not saying you must do it, even though the other churches are eager to do it. This is one way to prove your love is real.

     The Christians in Jerusalem were suffering from poverty and famine, and many churches that Paul had planted were coming together and taking up offerings to be given to the Jerusalem church. In this passage of scripture, Paul is encouraging the Corinthian church to join in the effort. This special love offering was above and beyond the normal tithes that were to be given to the Lord.

     Giving is a natural response of love. As Christians, we are commanded to love one another and share one another’s burdens. When you love much, you give much. Think about your own family and children. The church is our extended family and when any are in need or experiencing trouble and hardships, our natural expression of love should be giving. The world teaches us to look out for ourselves and hoard up all the possessions and money that we can while we’re on this earth, but Christ teaches the direct opposite. When we give things away and bless others, the craziest thing happens; we are blessed above and beyond what we gave away.

      If your child gave away their most prized toy or possession to a less fortunate child, without you encouraging them to do so, what would your reaction be? Wouldn’t your heart just melt at the fact that your child was so compassionate, loving and caring? Wouldn’t you want to bless and reward your child for such behavior? If we as human parents rejoice and reward our children, how much more do you think our heavenly Father rejoices and rewards such behavior? Only if done out of love and compassion though. If we give out of an expectation of receiving, then the deal is null and void. God is looking for a pure heart and pure motives.

     Do you have a giving heart or a selfish heart? How do you view others who are hurting or in real need? Do you long to love others more than what you do? Take some time to today and ask the Lord to break your heart for what breaks His. Ask him to give you a deeper love for those around you, even those you view as unlovable. Do one thing today to reach out and bless someone in need, preferably someone you don’t know.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's a matter of trust.

2 Corinthians 7:11-16

Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish the wrongdoer. You showed that you have done everything you could to make things right. My purpose was not to write about who did the wrong or who was wronged. I wrote to you so that in the sight of God you could show how much you really do care for us. We have been encouraged by this.

     In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was at the way you welcomed him and set his mind at ease. I had told him how proud I was of you and you didn’t disappoint me. I have always told you the truth, and now my boasting to Titus has also proved true! Now he cares for you more than ever when he remembers the way you listened to him and welcomed him with such respect and deep concern. I am very happy now because I have complete confidence in you.

     Paul was such an amazing leader and teacher. Not only did he have a way of powerfully bring forth the truth of God’s Word, but he was the ultimate mentor to those who came forward to accept salvation and complete obedience to God. In all of Paul’s missionary journeys, he implemented and planted many churches. Once a church was planted and established, he moved on to the next place where he felt God was leading him to go, but he always kept tabs on each and every church that was in existence. In a time with no internet or telephone service, he had to find a way to keep communication between himself and the churches strong, so he assigned other strong spiritual leaders who traveled with him, to visit these churches on his behalf. They would carry messages of hope, encouragement and sometimes correction from Paul, to these churches. In this case, the letter of 2 Corinthians is written to the church in Corinth, in which Paul is bringing correction and encouragement to the believers gathered there.

     Titus, one of Paul’s traveling companions and partners in ministry, was sent to the Corinthian church as a representative for Paul, to check on the work that was going on there. In this portion of scripture, Paul is complimenting the church for how well they received and welcomed Titus on his behalf. Just like in today’s church culture, we tend to have favorite preachers and leaders, and if they are gone on vacation or out for an extended period of time, we tend to grumble, complain and not always be willing to accept a replacement. Paul knew and understood this fact, and was elated to hear how well they accepted and treated his replacement, Titus. Paul was trying to teach all believers to keep their focus on Jesus Christ, not on the earthly humans that were Christ’s representatives, including himself.  Idol worship can happen within the church too, if we’re not careful! All of us are still just merely human beings, including ministers, and placing them up on pedestals is a dangerous place to dwell. Be careful who and what you idolize. Jesus Christ is the one true God and he will not share his glory with anyone, including His representatives!

     Who do you place your trust in? Yourself? Your boss? Your minister? Your husband or wife?  Your doctor? The list could go on and on. Do you immediately turn to God with your situations and troubles, or do you exhaust all other options first before you finally turn to Him? God has representatives on earth that He has placed here for our benefit, but we are not to use these representatives to replace God. I encourage you to go before God today, and lay your burdens at His feet. Stop wandering here and there, looking for one of God’s representatives to give you what only God himself can supply. Make Him your one and only trustworthy source!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Let me correct myself.

2 Corinthians 7:2-10

     Please open your hearts to us. We have not done wrong to anyone. We have not led anyone astray. We have not taken advantage of anyone. I am not saying this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts forever. We live or die together with you. I have the highest confidence in you, and my pride in you is great. You have greatly encouraged me; you have made me happy despite all our troubles.

     When we arrived in Macedonia there was no rest for us. Outside there was conflict from every direction, and inside there was fear. But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. His presence was a joy, but so was the news he brought of the encouragement he received from you. When he told me how much you were looking forward to my visit, and how sorry you were about what had happened, and how loyal your love is for me, I was filled with joy!

     I am no longer sorry that I sent that letter to you, though I was sorry for a time, for I know that it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to have remorse and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow. But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death.

     In this portion of scripture, Paul is picking up where he left off in 2 Corinthians 2:13. He had written another letter to the Corinthian church (which is now lost) bringing correction and rebuke for an unknown situation that occurred in the church. As stated in chapter 2, it brought much pain and sorrow for Paul to write and send the letter, but he knew and prayed that it would bring joyous results, which it did.

     Often times, bringing correction or rebuke into a situation, is very difficult for everyone involved. But when left undone, disastrous results take place. Children left undisciplined result in immature, irresponsible, chaotic adults. The same holds true for Christian believers. Pastors and leaders are held to an expectation by God to bring correction and discipline to those serving under them, who will ultimately answer to God for their responsibility. If left undone, the church is often filled with immature, irresponsible, chaotic Christians, wreaking havoc on those around them and the church body as a whole. Fear of job and financial loss, often paralyzes a leader from making the decision to bring correction and rebuke. Paul, who is an awesome example to us, pushed through that fear and was obedient to his call and responsibility.

     From the other side of the coin, the one receiving the correction has the option of rejecting or accepting the rebuke. Human nature usually reacts in the negative, defensive tone, but in this situation, those involved received the correction and made the necessary changes to bring positive results. As hard as it is to accept and understand, God uses sorrow to bring about positive changes in our lives. If we could just learn to accept God’s correction immediately instead of fighting, fussing and whining, we would see such growth, maturity and joy in our lives.

     Think about the last time you had something sorrowful happen in your life. Could it have been that God was trying to teach you something through that event? Did you ever consider that option? Go back and consider what God was trying to teach you. Rethink and relive the situation and try to take away a new perspective or a new life lesson that you never even considered before. Ask God to reveal it to you.

Have a great day!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Warning, Warning!

2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1
     Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:
            "I will live in them and walk among them.
             I will be their God,
             and they will be my people.
             Therefore, come out from them
             and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.
             Don't touch their filthy things,
             and I will welcome you.
             And I will be your Father
             and you will be my sons and daughters,
             says the Lord Almighty."

Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body and spirit. And let us work toward complete purity because we fear God.

     Too many people take these verses to mean total separation from anyone and anything that doesn’t believe in the same way they do, even to the point of being mean spirited and rude. This is not what Paul was referring to, in these verses. As believers of Jesus Christ, we are to be a light in a dark world, sharing the truth and love of Jesus Christ with everyone and anyone we come in contact with. In order to accomplish this, we must associate and be friendly with everyone. Should we get into deep, intimate personal and business relationships with non-believers? No, that is where the line needs to be drawn. That is what Paul is trying to communicate here. When we are personally intimate with others, spending untold numbers of hours each day with them; we become influenced by their beliefs and customs. And if those beliefs or customs are contrary to the word of God, then we usually become torn as to whether to accept them or not. This is especially true in marriage. Loyalties between God and spouse are challenged, and often result in heartache and stress.

     Making the decision to be loyal to God and His truth before entering into a deep, intimate relationship with someone who doesn’t have the same belief system, will save us from much turmoil down the road.

     Are you entertaining relationships that are in direct opposition to what you believe?( If you’re already married, God does not want you to end your marital relationship, but rather, continue to pray for your unbelieving spouse, as you faithfully serve and love them.) Are you afraid to be by yourself so you befriend anyone that will accept you? Take some time today, to examine your belief system and whether or not it truly lines up with the word of God. Ask God to show you where to make changes in the friendships that you currently have in your life.

Have a great day!     

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stepping Up!

2 Corinthians 6:3-13

     We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act, and so no one can find fault with our ministry. In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love, and the power of the Holy Spirit. We have faithfully preached the truth. God’s power has been working in us. We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attack and to defend ourselves. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us imposters. We are well known, but we are treated as unknown. We live close to death, but here we are still alive. We have been beaten within an inch of our lives. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

     Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you. Our hearts are open to you. If there is a problem between us, it is not because of a lack of love on our part, but because you have withheld your love from us. I am talking now as I would to my own children. Open your hearts to us!

     Paul always considered what his actions spoke to others. He lived in a place where he understood that one wrong decision or one questionable action could cause just one person to be turned against the truth about Jesus Christ. He goes on to list actions that he considered to be vital in proving his allegiance to his Savior and to his call as a minister of Christ. If we are believers in Christ then we are also ministers, whether we choose to accept that fact or not. Let’s take a closer look at this list of actions to see if we are patterning our life after our forefathers of faith and living up to our calling as ministers for Christ.

          1.    Patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind
           2.    Been beaten
           3.    Put in jail
           4.    Faced angry mobs
           5.    Worked to exhaustion
           6.    Endured sleepless nights
           7.    Gone without food
           8.    Prove ourselves by:
                     a.    Our purity
                     b.    Our understanding
                     c.    Our patience
                     d.    Our kindness
                     e.    Our sincere love
                     f.     The power of the Holy Spirit
           9.    Have faithfully preached the truth
          10. God’s power works in us
          11. Use righteousness as our weapon
          12. Serve God whether people:
                     a.    Honor us
                     b.    Despise us
                     c.    Slander us
                     d.    Praise us
           13. We’re honest
           14. Well known
           15. Live close to death
           16. Beaten within an inch of our lives
           17. Always have joy
           18. We’re poor
           19. Give spiritual riches to others
           20. Own nothing
           21. Have everything

      So, how does your life as a Christian compare to Paul’s? Being a Christian is the most phenomenal lifestyle you and I could ever experience, but to believe that we will never experience anything negative in our life is a lie from Satan himself! In the American Christian culture, God has blessed us beyond measure even to the point that we are like spoiled children. One flat tire, or one hour without electricity sends us into a temper tantrum, whining and crying to anyone that will listen to our pitiful plight. I believe that God is attempting to empower a people that will go forth in His name regardless of the circumstances around them, a people that will believe that they are more than conquerors through Christ, in every situation! Rise up and be all that you were created to be!

What do your actions speak to others? Have you ever considered the fact that you are a “minister for Christ?” Having that label placed on you, would you live your life differently? Take some time today to seriously consider the fact that you are a minister. Ask God to reveal to you some actions that you may need to change, in order to step into that role more effectively.

Have a great day!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Today's the day!!

2 Corinthians 6:1-2

     As God’s partners, we beg you not to reject this marvelous message of God’s great kindness. For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.

     In these two short verses, Paul is pleading with anyone reading this letter, that he wrote to the Corinthian church, to understand and accept God’s plan of salvation. In verse 2, Paul is repeating a line that was proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah in the book of Isaiah 49:8. This was a promise that God made many, many years before through the prophet Isaiah, that at just the right time, he would hear our desperate cries for help and send Jesus Christ to provide salvation and help for our troubled souls. All we would have to do is accept that help.

  Have you accepted this help from the Lord? Are you crying out each and every day for an answer to your troubled heart and life? Do you yearn for more out of life? It’s as simple as asking the Lord to take control of your life and believing and understanding that by the shedding of His blood on Calvary that He has made a way for you to be in right standing before God. Take some time right now to simply sit in quiet stillness before God and ask him to be your Savior, not just for today, but for each and every day for the rest of your life. This is one decision that you will never regret! Make today YOUR day of salvation!

If you took the time to accept God’s salvation for yourself, or you renewed your relationship with the Lord and would like to know what steps to take next, feel free to email me at

Have a great day!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Where's Your Zeal?

A few weeks ago, a few friends of mine asked me if I would share my own personal daily devotion with them through email or facebook. So on Monday-Friday of each week I have not only shared my devotion, but also added some comments and questions to ponder. This has turned into a bigger project than what I orginally expected it to be. I am now taking this one step further and adding it to my blog site. If you would like to receive these on a daily basis, then I encourage you to become one of my followers on this site. Studying God's Word on a daily basis is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself! Let this be a jumping off point for you into a deeper relationship with the Lord and His Word!

2 Corinthians 5:11-21
It is because we know this solemn fear of the Lord that we work so hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. Are we trying to pat ourselves on the back again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart before God. If it seems that we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Whatever we do, it is because Christ's love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them.

So we have stopped evaluating others by what the world thinks about them. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, as though he were merely a human being. How differently I think about him now. What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!

All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ's ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, "Be reconciled to God!" For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Paul starts off by letting the Corinthian church know that his ministry was not about him being arrogant or patting himself on the back. He had a sincere heart to serve the Lord with his very life and make sure that everyone he came in contact with knew about the salvation plan of the Lord. Paul was radically passionate about what he was doing, which probably made him look pretty crazy to the outside world. His image or what he looked like to others meant absolutely nothing to him, all that mattered was that he brought glory to God by touching lost souls.

In the American Christian culture, we have allowed image and pride to creep into our ministry circles. Lost souls and bringing glory to God isn't always the major focus. How we are perceived by others seems to top the priority list instead. Focus is placed on things like the beautification of the church buildings, official counts of church attendance, outward appearance of our physical bodies. Don't get me wrong, those things in and of themselves are not wrong. We need to have excellence in all that we do for the Lord, but when those things trump or overrule our true purpose, then we are bringing glory to ourselves rather than to God.

:-? thinkingCheck your own heart today. Why do you call yourself a Christian? Is it to walk out your true calling and purpose, or simply to look good to those around you? Do you live out and model the true characteristics of that title or do you give others reason to label you as a hypocrite? I know, it's a tough question, but each of us needs to be able to answer it, honestly.

Paul goes on to say, that if you are really a Christian or Christ follower, than your life has to change. In other words, because you have a new focus, which is Christ Jesus, you begin to think and act differently. Not because there is a list of rules that must be adhered to, but instead, you have a new mindset and you don't want to act and think like you used to when you didn't understand what it meant to be a real Christian. Your new desire is to be more and more like Christ, which in turn, drives you to tell others about what Christ has done in your life. Once you realize the fact that, "once you were dead, and now you're alive", you can't help but shout it from the rooftops, and want others to experience the same freedom and hope that you now have.
:-? thinkingDo you still have the same zeal and excitement that you once had for serving the Lord? Take some time today to think about and honestly answer that question. If your answer is "no", then ask the Lord to show you why. And then ask Him to show what steps you may need to take to reignite the passion, love and excitement in your Christian walk.

Have a great day!