Tag Archives: Second Epistle to the Corinthians

Start with “thank you”

It’s common practice to teach your kids to say ‘please’ and then ‘thank you’ when they have requests. But with God, things are a little bit different. God has already lavished on us more than we could ever fully comprehend.

  • New life. ~ John 10:10
  • Freedom from condemnation. ~ Romans 8:1
  • The Holy Spirit to dwell in us. ~ John 14:15-17
  • Transformation to become like Jesus. – 2 Corinthians 3:18
  • The promise of eternity with Him. ~ Revelation 21:1-7

So instead of approaching God with a “please”, let’s begin with a “thank you!”

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. ~ Psalm 100:4-5

With God, ‘thank you’ should always come before ‘please.’ The first thing out of my mouth in prayer and worship needs to be praise for who God is and what He has done.

As Steven Furtick puts it: “If you thank God for everything before you ask Him for anything, it makes you realize you deserve nothing.”

Look again at the model prayer in Matthew 6. Jesus teaches us to first address God and then offer up our request. This serves to remind us that life does NOT revolve around us but around God.

It’s impossible to be self-absorbed and God-conscious at the same time.

So whether its gathering with other believers in larger worship services or fellowshipping with God on your own…

… start with “thank you.”

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Filed under Gratitude, intimacy with the Lord, Praise, Prayer, Worship

The irony of being ordinary

I want to go on record and state it… I’m guilty!

I easily limit God’s arena of influence to those people or circumstances that are poised with greatness and just oozing with an essence of being extraordinary. Since I rarely, if ever, fit those qualifications I simply don’t often expect God to be able to do much through me. But…

“Once He [Jesus] set out on His earthly ministry, the incarnate God never stopped seeing extraordinary possibilities in less-than-ordinary events. He foresaw the future of His kingdom in a dozen dodgy disciples—some of whom weren’t particularly good at casting out demons and one of whom wasn’t even a believer in the first place (see Matthew 16:19; Mark 9:14–32; Acts 1:16–25). And, most absurd of all, in the midst of my many failings, God manages to notice a glimmer of His glory in even me.”
~ Excerpted from Finding God in a Galaxy Far, Far Away by Timothy Paul Jones

Even the Apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament and was used by God to do some pretty amazing things understood the irony of God using ordinary people; even as weak and feeble as we tend to be. In his second letter to the believers in Corinth he wrote…

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us…” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:6–7 (NIV)

Paul refers to all of us as “jars of clay” but points out that God does this because when He shines the light of Christ through our ordinary lives, it becomes obvious to others that it’s not us but God at work. This not only gives God the glory but draws people toward Jesus!

It’s precisely because we are ordinary people living ordinary lives in ordinary circumstances that God can use us to display His extraordinary glory!

Are you expecting God to use you or the ordinary circumstances of your life to produce extraordinary results?

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Filed under Glory of God, influence with the world, Jesus

Mmmm… Sweet!

So what’s your DOC? I.e. – Dessert of Choice

I don’t really have just one. It sort of depends on what I just ate. Some meals call for cake and ice cream. Others sort of lead to cookies (preferably iced M&M or Butterscotch Oatmeal). A big Thanksgiving meal really demands a good cherry or pumpkin pie.

As you can tell I seldom meet a dessert I don’t enjoy! The only ones I tend to avoid are anything with coconut. But there is one that is a daily staple. Special dark chocolate with almonds! We have some at home but I also keep some at the office. Yesterday I opened a new bag at the office and the sweet aroma surprised my senses with waves of delight!

Are there favorite aroma’s that grab your attention and draw you in? A fresh pie out of the oven? A certain flowery scent? The smell of grass after it’s been cut? The air after a fresh spring rain? There is no denying that aromas have a strange and mysterious effect.

Fragrance or aroma is what Paul had in mind when he wrote:

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s victory parade. God uses us to spread his knowledge everywhere like a sweet-smelling perfume. Our offering to God is this: We are the sweet smell of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are being lost. To those who are lost, we are the smell of death that brings death, but to those who are being saved, we are the smell of life that brings life. ~ 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (New Century Version)

Our lives are a sweet aroma to God! How cool is that?! But notice that Paul says we are led as “captives in Christ’s victory parade.” In a Roman triumphal procession, the Roman general would display his treasures and captives amidst a cloud of incense burned for the gods. To the victors, the aroma was sweet; to the captives in the parade, it was the smell of slavery and death.

All of this happens only when we are led as captives; when we are completely surrendered to the Lordship of Christ Jesus. When this happens it is…

Hmmm…Sweet!

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Filed under influence with the world, Surrender

That’s not in the Bible!

It is perhaps one of the most commonly held perspectives ever. We read it or hear it or even say it all the time. That perspective is…

“God will never give you more than you can handle.”

Let me pose a simple question; where do you find that nugget of truth in the Bible? Nowhere because it doesn’t exist because God never gave it as a promise.

In fact, we can know for certain that God does at times allow us more than we can handle because that was the Apostle Paul’s experience. Consider what he wrote in his second letter to the Corinthian Christians.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:8-9

To be fair, I’m sure that our motive behind the “God will never…” perspective is to encourage one another or ourselves, but in the end it can keep us from realizing God’s power working in and through us. So long as we are trying harder and harder to hang in there we won’t let go and more fully rely on God.

Paul states that these overwhelming circumstances of life that made them ready to throw in the towel “happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” Consider your biggest challenge right now.

Are you trying harder to hang tough or learning to rely on God?

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Filed under Encouragement, Faith, Trust