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Archive for June, 2009

verses 1-3: “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.”

I had mentioned earlier the missions I go on every year with the Carpenters for Christ. My particular job is being the videographer (or as they have called me, the picture-taker!) I record the progress of the mission, from start to finish. I also do interviews and shoot footage that will help “tell the story”. I assemble and edit this all together into a presentation, which is normally ready by our end-of-year banquet. Besides being a keepsake of the mission, it also serves as “proof” to show others what we do. A church that our interview group talks to for the following year’s mission has just as much right to ask, “What have you done?” or “what do you do?”…”Here, let us show you,” and then they play the presentation.

I could easily talk about our missions every time someone asks about them. For those who live close to the particular church building we helped to build, they can see the evidence in front of them. But, for those who may never get to physically travel to the church buildings we help build, they can see the proof through the presentation.

That’s similar to our Christian lives. Paul is telling the Corinthians “you are our letter”; they are the proof of the ministry. As living proof, we need to be true to Jesus’ call to “make disciple makers” so that the whole world will know the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is one thing to say you are a Christian…it is quite another to live it…every day.

Have a blessed day!

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verse 17: “For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”

Okay, how many of you out there are working your dream job? Don’t worry, you are not alone if you are not. To those who truly enjoy the work they do for a living, their earnestness and enjoyment of their work is different from those who do a job that they are indifferent to, or to those who hate their work. Now this isn’t an opinion or judgment of people and their jobs; some have to do certain jobs they may not like for a variety of factors (especially in this current economy!)

But you have to admit, to those who love their work, it’s not work to them. Now…how about those who love their work and feel called to do it? This is Paul; he is telling the Corinthians that he and his company didn’t “peddle” the word of God, but spoke “from sincerity”. My wife’s KJV Bible has the word “corrupt” instead of “peddle”. The Holman concordance states that they “distinguished himself and those who worked with him from so many others who had reduced their ministries to mere occupations…he served as one sent from God, considering his task a sacred privilege.” Remember also, Paul didn’t accept payment for his preaching.

A good Carpenter for Christ friend of mine spoke a devotion during our recent mission, about how we do our best for God when we are on mission. He further said we need to do the same when we go back to our jobs back in our daily lives. We should do our best for God, as Christians should. Our walk should match our talk, and both need to be sincere.

Have a great weekend in Him!

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verse 14: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”

Ever notice how certain smells can trigger a memory, good or bad, like the snap of fingers? Sometimes, it might not be the exact smell, but one that is close enough to make you recall another time, another place. Sometimes, it’s the smell of homemade rolls that remind me of my grandmother’s house, and all the good times I had there as a child. Sometimes it’s the lingering perfume on a love letter my wife wrote me that has been sealed in a drawer; opening it brings back memories of courtship when I was dating her.

Sometimes the smell of an old building can remind you of days gone by, good or bad, and all the pages of memory stand open again.

The verse above says that we are smells in a way. We as Christians become the mainifestation of “the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” We become reminders to those around us of what Christ has done in our lives, and we can become reminders and inspirations to those around us who need to “smell” that hope. Remember, you might be the only “Jesus” some people see today; let His light shine in you and may you have that “sweet aroma” today.

Have a blessed day!

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verses 7,11: “so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.” “in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”

Paul here is referring to one in the church who had rebelled/sinned, and had been punished. Now was the time for restoration.

Whenever I’ve watched a movie, I’ve marveled at an actor/actress’s performance, if it has been so convincing, that I forget I’m looking at an actor/actress portraying a character. It’s easy to lose yourself in thinking the actor/actress is the character, and you are almost gleeful if this character is the villain and get his/her “just desserts” in the end. For example, Bruce Dern is a very good actor, and I hated “his” guts when he was the villain in the old John Wayne movie The Cowboys. Besides being a despicable villain, the character he played shot John Wayne in the back! (I think I remember hearing the story that Dern claimed that movie typecast him for years…why?…”because I shot John Wayne in the back!”)

I mention this because too many times, we seem to get “lost” in desiring payback or vengeance on someone who has wronged us, even if the offender genuinely is sorry and repents. We still want to lash out and hurt them. That’s just what Satan wants; continued division in the church, so that the church’s main work is not getting accomplished. This is not Jesus’ way. If someone genuinely repents and asks forgiveness, we should welcome that believer back and restore him/her to the fellowship. They shouldn’t be forever “typecast” as the villain.

Have a blessed day!

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verse 20: “For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.”

Paul here is assuring the Corinthians that he wasn’t wishy-washy in his plans; that he doesn’t say yes and no to the same thing at the same time.

It’s funny, but during my career as a high-school football official, you would be amazed at the number of times a coach would tell our crew, “look, I don’t care if you call it this way or that, just be consistent!” Or to know that in a softball game, the umpire’s strike zone would always be from point A to point B…always! Or the number of times we have seen politicians promise one thing during the campaign to get elected…only to vote the other way once they were in office.

God is not like that; His promises of salvation have their YES in Jesus Christ…and they are the same today as they were yesterday as they will be tomorrow! And our answer to those promises should be…AMEN!

Have a blessed day and weekend. And to all fathers out there…Happy Father’s Day!

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verse 13: “For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end.”

In my reading of chapter 1 here, God pointed out this verse to me. Reading and understanding are not synonymous. It is akin to knowing language, but not being able to process the meaning as easily.

I remember when I first learned sign-language. I could recognize the different “words”, but if someone put them into a sentence, it took me a moment or two longer to process that information and understand. The same principle applies to the signals used by football officials; I recognized the sign that they gave, but had to remember, to process, what was meant by that signal. It took time to see it and then understand it.

Paul was about to go into explaining why he didn’t stop and visit Corinth as he originally intended; those who opposed him there were using this opportunity to attack him. The Holman commentary states that “…Paul reminded the Corinthians that he never wrote anything they could not read or understand…Paul sought to make his teachings plain. His refusal to use pretentious, worldly wisdom demonstrated his integrity.”

As I have heard it advised throughout the years, there is no need to use “high-brow” words, when simple words will convey your message. Though the Gospel may seem strange to those who have never heard it, make sure the Good News is delivered plainly to your audience today. You want to make sure The Message is received “loud and clear”.

Have a blessed day!

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verses 4-5: “who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Chirst.”

Comfort. Comfort foods, comfort zone, Comfort Inn (though I have never stayed in one yet), just the word comfort itself brings up feelings of security, of peace, of…comfort.

Nobody likes to go through trying times and trials, but when we do, we like to be comforted, to be made to feel better. I remember one episode of depression I went through, where I was thankful for the comfort and counsel of my Lord, my wife, my pastor, and my father. It is in those very trying times and the comfort that we are given, that we are blessed with the empathy and understanding to comfort others down the road who may be going through the same thing. I have a friend who went through a difficult time like I did, although I do not know the details of her depression. Hearing that she suffered in a similar way was comforting and inspiring to me.

We will, at times, ask God, “why me?” God has a purpose, though it may not be revealed immediately. Take comfort in that thought today.

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