Daily Devotional – Convincers or Proclaimers?

1 Corinthians 1:21

21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

Almost everyday I look at the WordPress.com articles tagged with the Christianity tag. It is a great way to find other blogs written about the faith. What is interesting is that many times atheist bloggers will tag their blog with the Christianity tag which makes these blogs show up in the search result also. I find myself fascinated reading these and realizing how dependent the atheist writers are on their own wisdom. Almost every article is predicated in the idea that Christianity is illogical or inconsistent or that faith is stupid and simpleminded. I am assuming that maybe the intellectuals in Paul’s day had the same the same issues with Christianity. Reading today’s verse we see how the scripture addresses this very question of man’s ability to intellectually grasp God. Notice the verse plainly says that the “the world did not know God through wisdom”. It goes on to say that most folks analyzing the faith using human logic will find it foolish. I honestly think it is a failure on the part of the Christian when he transitions from proclaiming to convincing. The scripture is clear; no intellectual argument is going convert the unsaved, it is only the power of the Spirit through the proclamation of the Gospel that saves souls. I am challenged somewhat to spend a little less time brushing up on my apologetics and little more time investing in people who desperately need to hear the Gospel proclaimed.

Father, thank you for your love and your reconciliation. Thank you for the Kingdom. Help us be proclaimers and not convincers. Remind us that your ways are not man’s ways and for us to assume that in our wisdom we can understand you is folly. Guide us by your Spirit and give us boldness to proclaim the Gospel wherever we may be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Check out the WordPress.com blogs tagged Christianity here.

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Saturday Morning Poll – Do You Believe in Heaven and Hell

Hell has been a hot topic lately. No pun intended 🙂 ! Here is a pretty good video that sums up the current debate on the topic in evangelical Chrisitianity. There is a poll below. Let me know what you think!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Poll:

 

Pray the Word

Sometimes I am at a complete loss for what to pray. The cool thing is the Bible is a rich well, full of examples of prayers to God. Here is a great prayer from the Psalms dealing with sin:

Psalm 19:12–14 (ESV)

12Who can discern his errors?

Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

13Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me!

Then I shall be blameless,

and innocent of great transgression.

14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

be acceptable in your sight,

O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

So when you get stuck or you feel stale in your prayer life, spend some time reading the Word and incorporate it into your communication with the Father. Pray the Word!

Father, thank you for another day. Thank you for your Word and the opportunity to worship you and commune with you in prayer. Remind us of your love for us and of the adoption we have into your family through your Son. Thank you for your many blessings. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

Performance Review – Aim to Please Him

2 Corinthians 5:6–10 (ESV)

6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

This a section of a letter the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. In these verses, Paul is laying out the basic issue all Christians have post conversion; namely, we are all still stuck in the physical world. I know there are times when I share Paul’s sentiment of rather being with Jesus in heaven than stuck in this body in the broken world we live in. What I really fail to grasp sometimes and what Paul so rightly describes here is that this time on earth matters. Paul was keenly aware of the fact that the reason he existed was to share the message of Jesus and the Kingdom with others. He had a mission. It was this mission that sustained him and motivated him to march through this life and into eternity with Jesus. He also understood that he would be rewarded for how well he completed this mission. I think sometimes the idea of the Father rewarding us for our good or poor performance on earth is more than folks want to consider. Yet in this passage and several others Paul directly tells us that we will receive in Heaven what we we deserve based on our earthly actions. It is important to understand that this is not a conversation about salvation. There is no work or action that a person can do that will warrant salvation. There is no work or action that a person can do that will remove the penalty of their sin and make them righteous enough to be accepted by God. Salvation only comes by faith in Jesus alone. So its not salvation that Paul is talking about here but it is about reward. I think as Christians we really need to capture this idea of commission or being sent out. We need to go medieval and embrace the reality that we have been commissioned by a King to be ambassadors sent out to proclaim the message of our Kingdom and demonstrate the love and service of our leader and periodically, we need to evaluate ourselves and ask how well we are doing. I know personally, I work hard to be a good worker at my job. I am keen to the objectives that are set out for me each year and strive to make sure that those objectives are met so that when my boss evaluates my performance I am found well pleasing to him. If I am willing to toil and labor to please my earthly boss how much more should I be will to toil and labor for Jesus my eternal King?

Father, thank you for your love and the grace you give all humanity to rise each day and live in the world you created. Thank you for adoption into your family and your Kingdom through the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you Jesus for your love and your sacrifice and your Kingship. I pray that I would honor your sacrifice and that I perform admirably as your ambassador in this world for as long as this body constrains me to it. I offer you praise. In your name, Amen.

The Summation

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

I read these verses over the weekend and they hit me like a ton of bricks. I am so grateful for statements like these and yet I often forget they are in the Bible. I don’t have a lot of insight or anything in way of application to bring to the text other than to say that this about sums it up. I am thankful for the Apostle Paul. I see him as a man who just wanted to please God. He keenly recognized and in turn articulates to us that this life in Christ isn’t so much about dwelling in the past or even dwelling in the present day, but rather this life is about looking to the future. It’s about living each day in the reality that even though the world around us may crumble and fall we are ever moving toward a reality and glory greater than anything we could have ever imagined or contemplated. And equally great is that there is transformation occurring in us daily. It’s a great thought to think that I am a little more closer to being like Jesus than I was yesterday. It’s a great thought to know that each day I am one day closer to shedding this earthly body and seeing the Father in all his eternal glory.

Father, thank you that you have left us words of encouragement in your Word. Thank you for the testimony and leadership of your servants like Paul. Father put the hope that he had in our hearts. Help us face trials and afflictions with a confidence in the promises of heaven. Thank you for your many blessings. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Relationships of Influence

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (ESV)

2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered 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.

Have you ever considered that someone would be able to tell something about you by how you have influenced others. I guess this concept is pretty strait forward but I don’t think I have truly ever given it any consideration. I know I have heard folks say, “oh, so and so is such a good influence on so and so”, or “wow that kid there is a trouble-maker don’t let your kid play with them”. Yet, I never really thought of it in the context of the Kingdom.

Looking at the verses above from 2 Corinthians we find the Apostle Paul in the midst of trying to convey to the Corinthian believers that his ministry to them is valid. He is battling against a smear campaign that was designed to discredit him as  someone who wasn’t truly in tune with the work of God. The dissenters had even asserted that because Paul had suffered and endured trials then surely God was not with him.

I really like Paul’s response to this criticism and questioning of his validity as someone doing God’s will. He challenges these folks to look at themselves and the church in Corinth and see if they have been transformed by the work has he done with them. He rightly points out that the transformation they have experienced could only be a result of the Spirit working through the ministry, service, and message he introduced to them. I love the language he uses describing those who he had influenced as “a letter from Christ” that was “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts”.

So what does it mean for us? For me it means I have to really take the relationships of influence I have more seriously. I would like to be able at the end of my days to say that everyone I was able to influence was influenced toward Jesus. The heavy thing here is that we have  vast relationships of influence to be mindful of. Spouse, children, family, friends, co-workers, church family, neighbors, and more all may come under our influence at some point. My hope is that like Paul I will be able to say that I influenced them in the transformative power of the Spirit through the Gospel of Jesus.

What do you think? How do you see yourself influencing people?

Father, thank you for this day and your Word. I pray God that I would be mindful of those who I influence and I pray that by your Spirit working in and through me that they would be “a letter from Christ”. I offer you praise. In Jesus’ name. Amen.