October 4th, 2021

Weak made strong

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

I know I spend a lot of time writing about our responsibility as believers to have faith and trust in the things God has promised.  I often write about doing our part, and believing God is faithful to do His.  However, today I want to talk about the weak times because I know we all have times when we come to the end of our rope.  I know there are times we feel like we can’t hold on to that promise any longer and I know there are even days when we just want to give up.  That’s what is so amazing about our God because He said in our weakness, He is strong.  His grace meets us right where we are and then picks us up and carries us to victory.  Hallelujah!!

In today’s reading, the Apostle Paul talks about a thorn in the flesh that was given to him.  It was a messenger of Satan sent to buffet and harass him wherever he went.  He was so frustrated by this evil force coming against him that he kept talking to God about it until finally he heard God say, “I have given you My grace, it’s there to make My strength perfect and complete in you in the midst of your weak moments.” (my translation)  Glory to God!  God’s strength covers us when we are weak!  This is priceless!   It’s like a grace blanket that we can hide under so God can wrap us up in His protection and complete the things He is doing in our heart and in our lives.

So, standing on the Word, speaking to the mountain, and seeking first the kingdom of God are what you can do when you are up against circumstances.  You take your stand and draw strength from God in the times when you are preparing for battle, but when the days come that you just don’t have anything left in you, God’s grace comes rushing in to take over!  He sees when you are lying wounded on the battlefield, picks you up, wraps His grace around you, and carries you to safety.   Then He goes in and fights in your place and brings you the victory!  Now that’s being more than a conqueror!  You can’t lose when you walk each day with Him!!

Today I want to encourage you to be strong in the LORD and in the power of His might, but if you are having a day that you just can’t seem to stand any more, get under the grace cover and let God be the strength in your weakness.  Reach out to God and let Him be your refuge and strength and a very present help in time of trouble! (Psalms 46:1)

Today’s scripture reading:  2 Corinthians 12:1-10

1 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

October 3, 2021

Push through affliction

If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. 2 Corinthians 11:30

I had a headache, and it was a bad one.  I woke up that morning with it and couldn’t seem to shake it off before I was to go serve that evening.  I asked the Lord for healing, and I commanded it to go away from me, but still nothing.  Despite my discomfort, I didn’t consider not going.  I know I could have said “It just hurts to bad; I just can’t make it tonight.” Or “Maybe it is God’s will for me to stay home tonight because I am severely uncomfortable, and I know laying down will make it feel better.”  The real truth is, I know my Father’s plan for me is to impact lives and to make a difference by showing up for People.  So, I went despite the pain.  It was a blessed evening, and I was able to grow in some relationships and develop new ones to invest in.  I never mentioned the agony I was carrying, I only stayed focus on how I could help others.  When I went home after, I still had pain, in fact it was worse because I hadn’t eaten, but I didn’t even consider that I might have done the wrong thing for my own health.  I knew I did the right thing for the spiritual wellbeing of so many others.

In today’s verse, Paul said that if he is going to brag about something, it would be about his weakness.  Then, he goes on to give a list of circumstances that he lived through, yet he was still accomplishing much.   He was often imprisoned, severely flogged (beaten), exposed to death many times, given lashes (another beating), pelted with stones, shipwrecked, left to drowned in the sea, sleepless nights, robbed, working continuously, hungry and thirsty, cold, naked and consumed with care for the churches he was mistering to.  I’m sure he didn’t feel well through some of these circumstances. I also know that when he showed up to the places he was to minister he never said, “I’m here, but I need to take a day or two off to recover from the journey or the latest beating.”  He showed up and showed the strength of God to those he was ministering to. He was still successful in his mission regardless of what he had to go through to get there.  He wasn’t complaining and making excuses for being a failure, He was boasting in the strength of God to get His work done despite the opposition and discomfort.

As I read this passage over many times, I imagined how I would feel if I had to suffer these setbacks.  I thought about the headache that tried to stop me from fulfilling my purpose for the day.  Yet, I never thought “Hmm, maybe this isn’t God’s will for me after all?” or “I am not strong enough to do this.”  I pushed through and I’m sure I will have to do it again, but my desire to touch lives and get people connected to God is more important to me than the things I will suffer along the way.  In the days to come, I will not remember the headache, but I will remember the impact I made in many lives that evening.

Today I want to encourage you to press through.  Press through the discomforts and troubles in this world.  The way to do it is to first spend time with God and hear the message He is speaking to your heart.  Then begin to pray for others.  Pray for God to touch their heart and draw them closer to Him.  Offer your life to invest into others for His plan and purpose.  Grow that plan up in your heart until you know that you are here to impact the world around you.  Then be willing to go through the aches, pains and even beatings if necessary, to get God’s love to those who need it.

Today’s scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

16 I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.

October 2, 2021

Revelation knowledge

I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in revelation knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way. 2 Corinthians 11:6

I don’t have a public speaking platform and I am not a skilled orator, but I do have words that God has put into my heart to share with others.  God always provides the audience that needs the message He gives at the right time.  I don’t have to look for an assembly of people to share with, most of the time I just pour into the people I am around that day.  I am not seeking to be famous or popular, I just want to share His message of love in a way that the people around me can receive it at the time.

This is the kind of revelation knowledge that the apostle Paul was speaking about in today’s text.  He told the Corinthian church that he knew he wasn’t a trained speaker, but what he did have was a message from the heart of God to share with others.  Paul cautions the church to not be taken in because by preachers that were eloquent and persuasive but didn’t have the understanding and revelation of God’s message.  Basically, he warns them not to turn their hearts toward a message that was not backed up by the heart and word of God.

As the New Testament was being written at that time and by Paul, himself, the people at Corinth did not have a completed Bible to verify what other speakers were teaching them.  Paul encourages them to discern a sermon by how it lines up with what he taught them and not be pulled away from the truth of God’s love.

In the day we live in now, having access to God’s Holy Spirit on a personal level, you too can have a message to share with others each day.  Simply by spending quiet time with Him each morning and surrendering you heart and ear to His word and His voice on the inside of you, His revelation knowledge will be revealed to encourage you and others around you.  However, do not seek a platform or a big production, instead, share with the people God brings into your life on an individual basis.  Maybe your heavenly Father will open the door later with an invitation to a greater audience and that would be great. However, do not limit what God wants to do through your life right now by waiting until you have the perfect crowd to give His message too.

Lastly, make sure your “revelation” knowledge is backed up by scripture.  God will never go against His word.  So, if you think you received words from the Father, but you have no text to back it up, wait until the Holy Spirit leads you to the passage to confirm that you are hearing from His Spirit and not the voice of the enemy.

Today I want to encourage you to recognize that the size of the audience doesn’t matter when it comes to sharing God’s message.  Each morning as He gives you the perfect word to propel you through the day, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to anyone who also may need to hear these words.  Then be ready to bring your conversations around to the subject as the opportunities present themselves.  Don’t be lured away by the current rants on social media or other platforms of eloquent speech.  Instead, purpose to share His revelation knowledge with the people in your life each day.

Today’s scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

1 I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. 7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! 12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

October 1, 2021

 Compared to others

For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.  2 Corinthians 10:12

Do you compare yourself to others around you?  Do you look at some and say “I wish I were that good looking.” Do you look at others and say “I’m glad I don’t look like that!”  Maybe you think, “Why can’t I be as smart as _________?” Or “I’m glad I’m not that dumb”.  What about your social media feed?  Does it cause you to be judgey and critical?  Do you look at posts and think “Well, at least I’m not that bad.” Or even “I am so much better than that guy.” Do you want to be wise?

In the key verse today, Paul talks to the Corinthian church about comparing their lives with the lives of others.  He said people who compare their selves to others, whether good or bad, are not wise.  Also, don’t put yourself in the same class as those who commend/glorify their self, by measuring yourself to that sort, you are not enlightened. Simply put: you do not have a godly perspective. 

Paul goes on to say, what really matters and what you need to be comparing your activity and ways to is how you are walking out the assignment God has for you in this world.  He continues by saying we all have limits, and we all have abilities.  What is most important is that God created each one of us for a specific purpose and we have the gifts and talents to complete the mission we have been given to do.  He also made us to be connected to each other, in that way we can inspire and work together on the plans of God’s heart. Paul said that if you are going to brag about what you have done, boast in the Lord, because He puts His supernatural power on you natural skill.

Today I want to encourage you to look at others to encourage and build them up, not measure yourself to their accomplishment.  Help others to find their life of significance in recognizing their purpose in this world.  Connect with your God family to work your callings together. Be attentive to your mission and don’t worry about who is doing it better or worse than you.  We are all at different levels and various stages in life.  When you do look at what others are doing, check in with the Holy Spirit about how you can help to multiply the work that they are doing not belittle and destroy it.  We are here to connect to and help one another, not compare and cut down each other.  So, the next time you look at your Instagram feed and see the success that someone is going through, cheer them on and love them through the entire process.

Today’s scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 10:12-18

12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. 14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15 Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. 17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

September 30,2021

Be the same with all                     

Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.  2 Corinthians 10:11

I may be taking some liberties with this scripture, but I believe the premise is the same.  Paul said in today’s passage that whether he is writing a letter, or he is with them in person, he behaves the same.  It seems that he heard that the people of Corinth thought his letters were bold, but in person he wasn’t much of a speaker.  Paul straight up says he is the same in person as he is in his letters.

Do people say that about you?  Do those in your life see you living different life styles depending who you are with?  Do you take on different postures depending on where you are?  Do you act one way at work, another way at home and yet take on an even different personality at church or with friends?  I recognize that we live in an entirely different time than the apostle Paul did, but we can still be an example to the world around us.  You do not have to try to fit in with the people you are with, you can be different and still connect.  At work, for example, you can be kind and considerate while doing your job well.  You can hold your standards high for yourself and yet show grace to those whose actions aren’t so high.  Look for opportunities to be helpful to your co-workers and show them that they are important.  Don’t become frustrated because they are not doing their job in the same way that you do yours or up to your standard, just love them where they are.  In this way, they will not have bad things to say about you and they will not have any evil words about Christians.

At home, you can be the same way.  This seems like it shouldn’t have to be said, but it is easy to get comfortable around those closest to you and slack off on your “good behavior”.  I’m not saying you cannot go home and relax, but you should treat those you live with in your home and family as if they are the most important people in your life.  Because, quite frankly, they are!  It can become easy to get stressed or even disappointed with family members because you know them better than anyone and what their weaknesses are.  Instead of speaking your disapproval, encourage and build them up.  Home will be a much happier place to be and you will also enjoy your life more.

Same with your friends and people you go to church with.  Even if they are the kind of individuals that want to talk about the latest scandal in the government or the current CDC guidelines, you can be helpful instead of adding fuel to the fire.  Turn the conversation to the hope and peace of God.  Let them know the exciting things God is doing right in the middle of all this controversy.  Stir others up in their faith, not in their fears.  These are things that a good friend will do and it will be like a breath of fresh air instead of a stifling stench.

Today I want to encourage you to be the same person no matter who you are with.  Whether in person, on social media or texts and emails, stop being the grumpy, complaining criticizer you used to me.  Take on a new perspective and a new disposition and enjoy the days you have in this world.  God didn’t save you to look and feel just like everyone else in the world.  He saved you to be the light to all those around you.  Start today by becoming a beacon of hope and a guiding leader that takes all people you meet to a place of joy and contentment.

Today’s scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 10:7- 11

7 You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. 8 So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. 9 I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” 11 Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.

September 29, 2021

Cast down arguments

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, by casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5

Our minds are a battlefield and our words combat our thoughts.  The ideas and concepts that come into your head are merely suggestions that you have the power to receive or reject.  One of the reasons we submerge ourselves in God’s Word is to discern the thoughts and intents that come every minute of every day.  If we do not recognize that we have authority and control over our thinking, our enemy will continuously mess with our heads/thoughts. 

Today’s verse starts out with telling us that we have weapons to pull down thoughts that are trying to take us captive.  However, we cannot fight thoughts with physical weapons, or even other thoughts for that matter. Our thoughts must be taken captive by our words.  When you speak God’s Word, or even the words of what you would rather be thinking about, you are actively changing your mind, or way of thinking. 

This scripture shows us how to identify the thoughts that we should cast down and get rid of.  First of all, we are to get rid of arguments.  These are the internal struggles that plague us when we don’t know what to do, or do not want to do what we know should be done.  Usually, my arguments are trying to justify why I do or do not want to do or say something.  So now that I know this, I stop arguing and start listening.  I ask God for a scripture or “word” to discern which side of the argument is right, and then I ask Him for the strength and desire to do what He is leading me to and what will honor and glorify Him.  I don’t always get it perfect, but the first step is to recognize and be honest with yourself since you may need help with your internal conflict.

Second, the verse says to cast down EVERY high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.  For years I was confused about this verse.  I thought I was to cast down any thought of confidence by belittling who I was, so I didn’t get into pride.  However, that way of thinking backfired.   When I had a thought that I was a child of the most high God, I would push that aside and think “oh no, I’m just an old sinner saved by grace.” Or if I had thoughts about how much God loved me, I would push that aside and think “what could He possibly love about me?”  I thought I was being humble, but actually I was stepping into agreement with my enemy by taking on his way of thinking.  This is the reason it’s so important to know God’s Words starting with what He says about you personally. Such verses as “He became sin so you could become His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), and you are a joined heir with Jesus! (Romans 8:17) The truth is I was an old sinner, but I got saved by grace and He made me brand new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) You are a child of the most High God! (Galatians 4:7) Don’t let the devil deceive you into thinking any less of yourself! 

Lastly, bring every thought and I mean every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.  This is taking control of your thoughts by guarding what goes in and not letting your imagination run away with you.  Make sure you are the one directing where your thoughts are going and what you spend time contemplating.  If your thoughts are causing you to fear, you need to turn them to scriptures that talk about the protection and provision of your heavenly Father.   If your thoughts are causing you to be stressed, fill your mouth and thoughts with scriptures that fill you with the peace of God.  You get the picture.  God’s Word is the greatest weapon to cast down any imagination that goes against what He wants you to believe about yourself or anything else, for that matter.

Today I encourage you to take your authority as a child of God and cast that imagination and devil thought down and get rid of it.  Then line your thinking up with all the wonderful things God says about you!  Once you do that, the devil won’t be able to trick you with those “traps” and arguments ever again!

Today’s scripture reading:  2 Corinthians 10:1-6

1 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. 2 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

September 28, 2021

Live above the line

We are sending a team in order to avoid any criticism over how we handle this wonderfully generous gift, for we intend to do what is right and we are totally open both to the Lord’s inspection and to man’s. 2 Corinthians 8:20 & 21

Wow!  In this passage, Paul goes to great lengths to make sure there is no question about how his team is handling an offering that was given to them to carry to the church at Corinth.  Certainly, he is the apostle Paul and can be trusted to carry a significant offering, right?  Yet, he said that he didn’t want there to be any questions, criticism or suspicion about how they handled the delivering of this generous gift.  He is sending this letter of endorsement with the carriers to makes sure that the entire team is involved in the whole process for checks and balances.

So how do you keep yourself in check?  How do you make sure that you are being accountable for all you do, all you give and all you are responsible for?  How do you live above the line of deception? Are you the kind of person that wants to keep their own business to themselves?  Are you the kind of person that doesn’t want to answer to anyone?

I was that way for years.  I kept my distance from others and in the process kept my business to myself.  I thought I was being responsible.  I was determined to make it on my own without anyone else to help me, but the problem with that mentality was I had no accountability.  Nobody knew the debt I had gotten into and no one knew the struggles I faced because of it.  What’s wrong with that?  I wasn’t bothering anyone and I thought I was content to suffer on my own so I didn’t have to burden anyone with my troubles. 

As I’m sure you already know, there was a problem with living that way.  First of all, I wasn’t living honestly, and I wasn’t living with integrity.  Sometimes I schemed, sometimes I cheated and sometimes I even stole.  Sure, I could try to justify my actions because of my circumstances, but the truth was I was in these circumstances because of my actions.  It was a very dark time in my life, in fact, it resulted in many failures and many bad decisions.  All because I kept myself from accountability.

So, what is the key to accountability?   Mostly, it is living a surrendered life and surrounding yourself with trusted people who are themselves accountable to others.  Surrendering first to the will of your heavenly Father, then to your spouse and then to a body of believers that can come along side you in your daily walk. Surround yourself with people who will love you through the difficult time and encourage you to do the right things and make wise life choices.  Most of all, become the child of God that He created you to be by walking out the integrity and honor of your Father. 

Now the question is, where do I find people worthy of being accountable to?  Start with prayer.  Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to live above reproach and to lead you to someone trusted and willing to step into the role of accountability partner with you.  Set your limits and desired steps with them and ask them to help you stay on track with these goals.  Get into a small group with your local church to connect with other who also want accountability.  If you don’t have a group around you, start one.  In that way, you can collect a group of people who all have the same goal of living a life above your circumstances and the integrity to go with it.

Today I want to encourage you to look for at least one person to make yourself accountable to.   I’m sure you haven’t sunk as low as I was, but accountability is important for everyone.  Don’t stand in the place where you think you got it all handled.  It can become all to easy to let things slide.  A little white lie, a slightly stretched truth or a small miscalculation in your favor overlooked.  So easy to let these things slide when no one is paying attention.  Make sure someone is and most of all know that your heavenly Father always is because He loves you and wants the best life for you.  Bring someone along today to help you live above suspicion, criticism and temptation.

Today’s scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 8:16-24

16 We give thanks to God for putting the same devotion I have for you into the heart of Titus. 17 Of course, he enthusiastically accepted our request to go to Corinth, but because he carries you in his heart, he’d already planned on coming. 18 So we’re sending with him the brother  who is greatly honored and respected in all the churches for his work of evangelism. 19 Not only that, he has been appointed by the churches to be our traveling companion as we carry and dispense this generous gift that glorifies the Lord and shows how eager we are to help. 20 We are sending a team in order to avoid any criticism over how we handle this wonderfully generous gift, 21 for we intend to do what is right and we are totally open both to the Lord’s inspection and to man’s. 22 So we’re sending with them another brother who is faithful and proven to be a man of integrity. He is passionate to help you now more than ever, for he believes in you.23 Concerning the credentials of Titus, he’s my partner and coworker in ministry for you. As for the brothers coming with him, they are apostles of the churches, which are the glory of the Anointed One.  24 So demonstrate to them how much you love, and prove that our boasting of you is justified.

September 27, 2021

Abundant Grace

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”  2 Corinthians 9:8

Grace is a wonderful thing!  It is through God’s grace that we are saved by our faith. (Eph. 2:8) God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6) and His grace is sufficient for every need we have. (2 Cor. 12:9) But what exactly is grace?  I’ve heard people say that it is unmerited or unearned favor.  I’ve also heard the acronym God’s Righteousness At Christ Expense.  Some say it is divine enablement.  While all these ideas are certainly true, I think the best way to define grace is to let God’s Word give the definition.

Today’s verse is the best explanation I’ve found for the grace of God.  It says: Grace is always having what you need, when you need it, in abundance/overflow to accomplish every one of God’s good works that you are called to.  The bottom line is God’s grace in our lives empowers us to be who God created us to be.  Think about it, everything we need to become children of God is in His grace, our salvation, our peace, our ability to complete our purpose, and our citizenship in Heaven.  I like to think of it as grace is the Holy Spirit’s power within me to accomplish everything God has planned for my life.  All the resources, all the ability, and all the strength are wrapped up in God’s grace!

Today I encourage you to spend time considering the grace of God.  Think about how extensive it is.  Remember that everything you have ever needed or ever will need is in His grace.  Then thank your heavenly Father for the unlimited supply of His grace that is in and on your life.  Ask Him to show you how to walk in that grace daily to do the things He planned for you to do.  When you walk out your life living in God’s unending and unfailing grace, you will have everything you need to complete the missions you were designed to do for His Kingdom. Lastly, I would ask you to remember that we walk out the plan of our life by God’s grace for His honor and glory, but we also do it to bring God’s will to earth as it is in heaven.

Today’s scripture reading:  2 Corinthians 9:6-15

6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

September 26, 2021

Giving

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”   2 Corinthians 9:7

Giving is a subject that a lot of churches are uncomfortable talking about.  Since I don’t have anything to gain or lose by talking about it, I want to spend a little time on it today.  Giving originated from God and He is the author of giving.  He started the world by giving us His breath, then He freely gave His own Son for us and doesn’t hold back any good gift.  He is generous and tells us we only need to ask to receive. (Matthew 7:7)  So when God talks about giving in His Word it is not because He is after our stuff or our money.  He is, however, after our hearts.  Giving of your resources is a true indication of where your heart is.  Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  From this scripture we can without a doubt see that our heart and our treasure, or what is important to us, are connected.

Today’s scripture is only one of many that talks about giving.  This one, however, is a little more specific because it tells us to plan ahead of time.  It says give what you have purposed or planned ahead of time to give.  Then you will not be giving grudgingly but be a cheerful giver!  I recently saw this demonstrated clearly in my own life.  At the beginning of the year, I recognized that I was struggling with opportunities to give in everyday life.  When I would pass by someone needing help or see someone that I could bless in some way, I wasn’t always sure what to do, or give, or how much, or in what way.  After talking to God about it, I was inspired to plan to give before the opportunity presented itself.  I wasn’t quite sure how to do that, but I had an idea that I wanted to give in a way that would cause a person to look toward God with the gift.  I got some cards with scripture on them and then asked God about an amount to give.  I put it all in an envelope and kept it with me so that when occasions came to give I was ready and didn’t have to decide what the appropriate thing to do was.  So last week, I was at an event that was taking a special offering for a specific need and as I considered what to do, I thought about how much cash I had on me and what I should give.  So many thoughts went through my head about what I wasn’t going to be able to do if I gave that money.  Then the LORD reminded me about the envelope I had already prepared ahead of time for giving.  Oh, that was wonderful.  It was a great gift that I didn’t have to worry about giving and there was no stress in giving it because I had already set it aside for giving.  I had purposed in my heart and now I could give cheerfully instead of grudgingly.  It was such a clear example of what the Holy Spirit was talking about in this passage. 

Many other opportunities for giving can be planned out, so that they can be done cheerfully.  Things such as a child fund for underprivileged children, or mission work, maybe community outreach or a building fund at your church.  The point is, when you plan ahead of time what and where to give.  It frees you from the stress, worry, and decision of the moment. 

Today I want to encourage you to listen to the prompts of the Holy Spirit inside and He will let you know when and where to give your preplanned gifts. He is the true voice to follow.  You don’t have to be led by guilt, necessity, or even a plea, but be ready ahead of time and all missed opportunities will be eliminated.

Today’s scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 9:1-7

1 Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you; 2 for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority. 3 Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this respect, that, as I said, you may be ready; 4 lest if some Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to mention you!) should be ashamed of this confident boasting. 5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation. The Cheerful Giver 6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Solet each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 

September 25, 2021

Godly sorrow

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10

Once I was living life by my own wits.  The decisions I made and the things I desired were pretty much like everyone else in the world.  I did things that I thought I wanted, and I didn’t consider the consequences of the way I acted.  I received Jesus as my Savior at a very young age, but I always pushed the limits to get my own way.  I didn’t understand that I was a child of the most high God and that He was leading, but I wasn’t following Him.  I was following the “sorrows” of the world that were leading me down the road to death.

This is what today’s scripture is talking about: It says, when you recognize that you are heading in a different direction than following God, you stop, have a change of mind and heart, turn around to consider God’s better way.  You receive His salvation by surrendering all your old impulses and following Him and His plans.  You will never regret it, but if you continue on the course of doing things the world’s way or even your own way, you are chasing after death and separation from the God that loves you.

I was a citizen of heaven and a person in God’s family, but those truths were not real to me.  I tried being a good person and doing what I should do, but my desire to please my self was greater than my desire to please someone else, even my heavenly Father.  As I became an adult, I was in and out of church for years.  I could not find my place and was not satisfied to just come and sit, not to be connected in.  My heart knew that I was a part of a body that had become detached from, and the life was draining out of me. 

The deeper I got in the world, the more I was feeling the “sorrow” of it.  The choices I made were producing regrets more than contentment.  Finally, something changed on the inside and I began to go a different direction.  When I realized that God actually had a planned successful life for me and I could know what it was, I repented by changing my heart, my mind and stopped doing what was right in my own eyes. 

Today, I am determined to follow His plan for my life every step of the way.  Because I spent the first half of my life on the wrong path, I press in close to Him every day, so I don’t get off track.  I don’t always get it right, but I am aware now when He is speaking to my heart and if I notice when I am having any “I don’t want to do that” thoughts, I turn to Him for the strength and desire to do these things because I know they produce joy in my life.

Today I want to encourage you to examine your life.  Are you making choices based on what you want in life or following the plan He made?  Maybe you aren’t doing bad things, but you have become distracted by what is going on in the world around you. You can identify His plan by the lives you are impacting for Him.  Do you spend time praying for those who need salvation?  Do you share the love of God with those who are hurting in the world?  Making your own plan for life will produce regrets and eventually a separation from the God who loves you.  But when you have godly sorrow, you can quickly run back to His arms, His great salvation and the blessed life that He planned for you from the beginning of time.

Today’s scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 7: 8-16

2 Corinthians 7:8 I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. 9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent 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. 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 11 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 wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right. 12 My purpose, then, 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 see for yourselves how loyal you are to us. 13 We have been greatly encouraged by this. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was about the way all of you welcomed him and set his mind at ease. 14 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! 15 Now he cares for you more than ever when he remembers the way all of you obeyed him and welcomed him with such fear and deep respect. 16 I am very happy now because I have complete confidence in you.