Second in a series on keeping our eye on the goal (2 Corinthians 4:15-18)
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
What a powerful message the Apostle Paul sends to a people beset on many sides by the problems of life. Mentioning his own troubles, he sends the Corinthians encouragement about how he intends to win the Christian race and how they can, too.
Win by being renewed day by day, the apostle says. He is talking about a refreshing of one’s inner self—that is, the spirit. When we are down and need a boost, help is available.
Times do come in our lives when we need refreshing. Like Paul, we can always be refreshed by renewing our knowledge of a loving Savior, by developing a positive attitude toward our being allowed to be a Christian, and by developing an unwavering faith—one that will not diminish in the face of life’s adversities.
“Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live” (2 Kings 20:1).
God uses the prophet Isaiah to deliver this unexpected message to King Hezekiah as he lies deathly ill on his bed one day. Without a moment’s delay, the king turns his face to the wall and makes a passionate plea to God for his life.
Not having the same direct connection King Hezekiah had, we are not going to receive a warning as he did: God will not send us a direct message telling us we are going to die, thus giving us time to make right our wrongs and failures. But we do have the message of the scriptures telling us exactly how God wants us to serve Him.
The beginning of a year is a wonderful time for us to renew our acquaintance with that life-saving message and to make a commitment to God that we are going to correct our failures and to do our best to be a better servant this year than we ever have before.
“For My people have committed two evils:
“They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns--
broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
The prophet Jeremiah here speaks as the voice of God as he describes the situation in which the Israelites find themselves. God is totally frustrated with His people because they have left Him and turned into a totally corrupt nation, including the sin of worshiping idols.
The metaphor of the cisterns here is used to represent the sin of idolatry. The gods to which the Israelites have turned have no power—they are like broken cisterns that can’t hold water. They are simply wood and stone; yet God’s people have chosen them over Him.
This indictment of the Israelites contains a strong message for every generation: God is the creator of mankind and expects His creation to be devoted to Him. We show our devotion by being faithful to Him and by placing Him first in our lives.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
In the middle of this Hall of Fame of faith, the writer comes forth with this aggressive declaration about the absolute necessity of faith if one is to have a meaningful relationship with God. He actually is trying to convince these new Jewish converts to Christianity that they should stay with Jesus and not revert to the Law of Moses.
But the message that comes through to us is just as powerful as it was to those converts. And that is that we must make Christianity a priority in our lives—it can’t be in second place. To please God, we must seek Him diligently, meaning we must be aggressive in our quest to be what God wants us to be.
If we try to live life without seeking God diligently, we try in vain to create a life that has any real or lasting meaning; however, being diligent in our quest gives us hope—hope for a good wholesome life now and for an even better one in the age to come.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
While Paul writes to straighten out some areas of disunity among Christians in Corinth, he comes forth with this profound statement that “seals the deal” as far as the Corinthian church is concerned and that echoes down through the centuries to every Christian who has ever lived.
This message speaks volumes about position and character for Christians of all ages. As Christians in congregations, we make up the body of Christ. As individual Christians, we have the responsibility to perform what we can in working for the Lord and to promote peace and unity as we do so.
All members are needed in every congregation to accomplish the tasks the Lord has laid out before us in His Word, and we can accomplish far greater things than we can even imagine for the Kingdom if we are all doing our part—with the Lord’s blessing.
“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ?” (Acts 5:42).
Early Christians took their Christianity quite seriously. It was obviously no brief Sunday morning affair with them. Rather it was a daily activity—it was a life. They worked continually in spreading the Cause for which the Savior died.
And this statement is made about them while the church was still quite young and after they had just had some serious trouble with the Jewish authorities. They had been called in twice and had been beaten the second time. This verse describes their response.
In view of this heritage from the founding fathers of Christianity, how could we stop short of giving our very best? Our response to the call of Jesus has not required nearly the sacrifice these brethren had to give.
This verse should give us pause so that we can conduct a thorough self-examination as we take stock of our attitude, our commitment to the Cause, and even our willingness to worship at every opportunity.
Second in a series of three studies on Numbers 23:8-10
“For from the top of the rocks I see him,
“And from the hills I behold him;
“There! A people dwelling alone,
“Not reckoning itself among the nations” (Numbers 23:9).
The prophet Balaam looks out from the top of the mountain and sees the orderly camp of the Israelites below. “Him” in this verse refers to the Israelite camp. Balaam looks out, realizing he cannot pronounce a curse on these people, no matter how much he wants to, because God will not allow it.
The nation he sees below him is composed of people who are different—distinctive in every way from the other nations: different in their religion, sacred rites, diet, dress, and everyday ways. They are alone, dignified, and on a higher level than the other nations. They are close to God and are a people set apart for His service.
Such a perception surely rings through to the people of God today—He designed that Christians would be consecrated and different from others in the world: that distinctiveness is what makes us special to God and appealing to those in the world who seek a higher, more spiritual, way of life. We, too, are set apart for service in His spiritual kingdom.
Thought for the Week.06-12-16. Spiritual Integrity
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
Beyond doubt, Jesus teaches a truth here that is emphasized as much as any other in scripture: He wants us to be sincere. He does not accept those who say one thing and do another as far as their relationship with Him is concerned. In other words, God does not accept hypocrites.
We must practice what we preach on a personal level as well as on a religious level. We can’t profess to be religious and think we are religious when we are not adhering to God’s word in all of our practices.
Keeping this principle foremost in our minds will go a long way in keeping us on track spiritually while we are alive. And it will have everything to do with our being able to go into eternity with an assurance of the reward that Jesus promised the faithful.
Thought for the Week.02-14-16. Kiss the Son
“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are those who put their trust in Him” (Psalm 2:12).
A kiss is a symbol of many things, both good and bad in scripture. As a good symbol, it represents love, devotion, friendly affection, tribute and many other emotions. In this passage, it is used to mean “to pay homage to.” “Homage” means “respect or reverential regard” or “respect paid by external action.”
The psalmist prophecies the time when God would set up His Son as King and that the world would “kiss” him—that is, they would express devotion to Him and put their trust in Him for their spiritual future. That time came, of course, at the cross.
Since we are living in the time prophesied about in this psalm and since the New Testament verifies the kind of relationship we are to have with God’s Son, the message rings true today: through the way we conduct our lives every day, we demonstrate the depth of our “kiss” of Jesus—that is, the sincerity of our commitment to Him.