Archive for July, 2009

verse 14: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

Oh, this is a rich verse. The analogy that comes to my mind is the old “3-second rule”. That was the old rule of thumb that, if you dropped your ice-cream on the ground, as long as you grabbed it back up within 3 seconds, it was okay to keep eating it. Really? Now I’m not being holier-than-thou about this; I’ve dropped something on the ground before, and picked it back up and kept eating it after checking it over.

But scientists ran a test on that adage recently, and discovered that within a second of touching a contaminated surface, the food item had been contaminated as well. I now use the comeback to that analogy: “okay, you dropped your food on a cow patty! You going to pick it up and eat it?”

My Bible has a footnote on this verse: “This injunction applies to marriage, business, and to ecclesiastical and intimate personal relationships.” I know my pastor will not marry a man and a woman who are not both Christians. This is what is meant by unequally-yoked: instead of being a team, the bad is fighting the good, thus inhibiting the good. To coin another old phrase: it is easier to be pulled down than to pull up.

Now, I’m not talking about witnessing to the lost or ministering to them; we are to do that. Paul was urging the Corinthians not to fellowship with the idol world, but to separate and to cling to God. As I’ve stated before, your Christian witness can be hurt by giving into sin and not repenting and asking God to forgive you. This can apply, too, to whom you fellowship with. A diamond shines among ore because it is truly a diamond and stays a diamond. Can someone look at your life today and describe you as a Christian?

Have a blessed day!


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“The best defense is a good offense” is a phrase that has been quoted in both military and sports circles. I tried to find who said it originally…I have primarily found references to legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi, which seems to ring a bell. I even remember a version of that quote being “the best defense is a two-ton offense” by Gomer Pyle! Despite who said it, the phrase brings to mind the well-equipped soldier having weapons for defense and offense.

I consulted my Holman commentary, because the words “weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left” struck me. I found in the dissertation of this chapter (p. 373) the following statements: “Paul closed this section with a military metaphor to indicate the strength of his determination and the power by which he overcame the troubles of his ministry. He went into ministry as a soldier into battle, but not in his own strength. He moved forward as a soldier of righteousness in the army equipped and empowered by God himself.”

What soldier goes into battle without the proper weapons to both defend himself from attack and to attack as well? One of those weapons that fits both categories is God’s Holy Word, which is why Bible study is so important. After all, what football player goes into a game without having read the playbook?

Remember also, that the best teammate/coach a Christian has is Jesus Christ. He already took the punishing hits, sacks, and tackles; He clears the way in order that you can “run the ball” and score the touchdown for Him. (I apologize for the heavy football references here! :-)) But make sure you are ready for the game of life today.

Have a blessed day!

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verse 3: “giving no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited,”

I have been asked before by friends and acquaintances why I do not drink alcohol. Among the reasons I have (upbringing, personal choice, physical effects, I plain do not like the stuff!, etc.) is this one: I do not want to hurt the witness of Christ in my life to a new or struggling believer. I would not want to confuse a new or beginning believer in the faith by such actions, when they are still vulnerable to the world’s influences.

Paul said pretty much the same here and previously. His spiritual integrity in the ministry was extraordinary, and left his opposition without ammuntion….not even a slingshot! We may be the only Jesus that some folks see today; that’s why it’s especially painful when “public” figures in Christian ministry, whether political or celebrity, stumble in sin. We all still sin, that’s why we need to ask God’s forgiveness when we do sin.

The litmus test for questionable behavior and actions still remains: “What would Jesus do?”

Have a blessed day!

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verse 21: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

“What a perfect day”; I think all of us may have heard that phrase at one time or another. Usually, someone will say it when “everything is going his/her way” or he/she didn’t have to confront a problem or negative situation the whole day. Sometimes it is said concerning the weather; it’s similar to the last 2 days for me, when we have had a cold front come through and remove most of the oppressive humidity and heat that is common in July around here. The day felt like it was autumn (sigh, unfortunately it won’t last, but it was nice to have for a couple of days!)

This verse sums up the gospel message, well, perfectly! God loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to be the perfect sacrifice for our sinful lives. If anyone never deserved the cross, it was Jesus! Yet He willingly took the penalty and agony of all the sins of the world, so that you and I can become right in the eyes of God. I’ve known Jesus as my Lord and Savior for over 20 years now….and I still marvel that God loves me so much. No wonder that the Good News is still called the greatest story ever told!

Have a blessed day in Him!

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verses 17-18: “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creatrue; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,”

If you have ever done a science project in school, most of us have probably done the “baking soda and vinegar” experiment. I was always fascinated how mixing that powder and that liquid would produce a lot of carbon dioxide….and a lot of fizz! I also was fascinated by the chemical reaction of 2 different things that transformed into something new and different. (Still felt a touch that way, when I showed the same experiment to my sons).

If anyone knew what that was like, it was Paul. Jesus took a determined antagonist named Saul, and through His transforming grace, changed him into a new creation: Paul, the greatest missionary to walk the New Testament. Friends of Saul would have been perplexed by the difference; indeed, the disciples themselves were wary when Paul first came to them converted. They thought it was a trick, so fearsome a reputation had Saul built.

But Paul had been reconciled to God; the past was forgiven, and only the future lay ahead for him. This is what Paul wrote of here. Only God could reconcile us to Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ. He wants us to participate in the ministry of reconciliation, as well. Seeing that type of change happen in a person’s life, watching them come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, is a a whole lot more fascinating to see than watching baking soda and vinegar bubble over!

Have a blessed day in Him!

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verse 12: “We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, that you may have an answer for those who take pride in appearance, and not in heart.”

Human pride is sinful; it leads to boasting and focusing on self a lot more than it should. Everyone, though, wants to be appreciated. You want to hear the words, “I’m so proud of you, son” or “You have done so good, daughter”. Ultimately, as Christians, we want to hear at the end of our journey, “well done, thou good and faithful servant”.

Paul here (through the verse and some research in the Holman commentary) is reminding the Christians that, we’re not boasting in ourselves, but we tell you about all we (and specifically Paul) have been through in our missions, so that you may delight and take joy in us.

“An answer for those who take pride in appearance, and not in heart.” To look at Paul, you might not think he was a successful missionary. Here’s a guy who’s been run out of towns, beaten, persecuted, jailed…probably showing the wear and tear of all these physical hardships he’s endured. Doesn’t look like some of these television preachers today, all clean and well-dressed and attractive. (Bear with me, I’m not slamming on all TV preachers, just those that seem to attract based on style and not substance!) But you couldn’t question Paul’s heart; he was committed, “sold out” for Jesus totally, and faithful to the end.

May we have that faithfulness today in our daily walk!
Have a great day in Him!

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verse 10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear. When you accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you are guaranteed that you are going to Heaven when you die. Your ticket has been punched, and your name is written down in the Book of Life. The thief on the cross beside Jesus when He was on the cross received that gift when he accepted Jesus. Since he died shortly thereafter, he didn’t get to do much for Jesus with his earthly life; nonetheless, he is in Heaven rejoicing. (Thank you, my wife, for that insight here!)

When you accept Jesus into your life, Jesus wants you to “go make disciple makers”; we are to minister in His name. Those works we do in His name here on Earth will be judged when we get to Heaven. When those works are put to the test of fire, those works that are deemed good will reap rewards; those that are not will be discarded or consumed. So what do you want to do for Christ today; something that will last or something selfish? What would Jesus do?

Have a blessed day!

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verse 7: “for we walk by faith, not by sight–”

This is one of my favorite verses for many reasons. Remember, how when Thomas believed Jesus had risen after he saw Him? Jesus said in John 20:29 “…Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

Of they myriad examples and memories I know of, I want to mention two of them today. If you have never seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, don’t read the following paragraph, I’m about to “spoil” a surprise! Remember, in the movie, Indy is trying to save his dad, and must walk through the 3 traps leading to the Holy Grail? The last trap is a chasm, impossible to jump across, but the clue is a “step of faith”. Indy cannot out-think this problem or see any other way…so he takes what looks like a step into nothing! And then, his foot stops on something solid. Only when he stepped out, does he find there is a bridge, so perfectly blending into the color of the canyon walls that it is invisible, yet it’s there!

I have a dear friend who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa…a degenerative condition that has robbed her of most all her sight. She was not born blind, but has become progressively so since her teen years. Yet for someone who cannot physically see as well as most of us, she “sees” in ways that I cannot. Her faith in our Lord has helped her in many a trial, and that is evident in the singing voice God has given her. I remember a humorous instance (I hope I remember all the particular details!) where my wife and I were at their house for a visit; her husband had gone to get lunch. While my wife was occupied with the kids in the back of the house, she had asked me to find the phone book for her husband to look up a number. We were both straightening different items up, so I found the phone book and handed it to her while straightening something, saying “here it is”. I remember she paused, and said smilingly, “now, what am I supposed to do with that?” So well does she move about her own house, that I momentarily forgot she can’t see, and went to hand her the phone book as if she were going to look up the number herself! 🙂

For we walk by faith, not by sight. May your faith in Jesus not rely solely on things you see with your eyes today.
Have a blessed day!

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verse 1: “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

Paul here is continuing his discourse on earthly bodies contrasted with resurrection bodies, according to my Bible footnote. This verse brings something additional in mind for me.

I used this verse in a devotion while on our most recent Carpenters for Christ mission trip. The church whom we were building a new sanctuary for, had lost their building to a lightning-strike-caused fire that pretty much gutted their original building. What was neat to marvel at, though, was the congregation’s attitude: when asked how the church was, they would say, “oh the church is doing fine and in good shape…our meeting house needs some work though.”

What a wonderful way to look at their situation. The building they worshipped in was “the meeting house”…what they called the church is truly that…the body of believers in Jesus Christ. Even if our meeting houses or earthly tents need some work or are looking worn, may His church continue to grow and thrive every day for Him.

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verses 14, 16: “knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.” “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”

I remember reading a story presented by Dale Carnegie in his book on worrying that talked about “Don’t Let the Pine Beetles Get You Down”. The story described how pine beetles will destroy a tree from the inside out. The outside will look fine, but eventually the tree will fall down, nothing more than a husk, because the inside is rotted away.

This is the reverse of the picture Paul paints here. As Christian missionaries, we will take our lumps, our wounds, our injuries, and our scars as we travel life’s road. We won’t physically be as hale and hearty as we were when we were younger (I can tell you that now, and I’m not even that old yet!) But as long as we are growing in Christ Jesus, the “inner man” will be strong. More so, we become better “megaphones” for God’s message. Paul knew the state of our bodies here on earth was just a temporary matter.

I found an interesting fact once about violins. Did you know if they are not played, they will decay and become worthless instruments? But, as long as they are used, and taken care of, they continue to produce their marvelous sounds for many, many years? Be an instrument of God’s message today.

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