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Posts Tagged ‘2 Corinthians 10:3-5’

Nature and Nurture

August 11th, 2015

“Christ in you, the hope of Glory.” Colossians 1:27 NKJV.

Spiritual nurture is essential for effective and enduring change.

My thoughts and comments today are about “nature and nurture”

This morning, comments from my friend, Shane, prompted some reflection on the origin of behavior and development of character. It seems the debate ultimately centers on the influences of nature or nurture. Both are influential. Nature forms who you have been, expressed by what comes naturally to you for better or worse – your habitual reactions, possessive inclinations, prejudices, self-willed, or self-centered.

My friend cautioned about trusting nature over nurture, “Leave it to nature and you leave a blank canvas [for yourself and] others to paint on.” We were all conceived in sin, meaning that we were born into a fallen world, possessing a fallen nature, and separated from God and Christ. Paul accurately described life apart from Christ, “O wretched man that I am. Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Read Romans 7:18-25 NKJV.

Conversely, nurture instructs and guides your values, traits, convictions, and conduct, therefore determining who you become. Paul understood our common dilemma but also God’s gracious redemption, “You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Read Colossians 3:6-10 NIV.

In Christ, you have the hope and promise of becoming more than you are. “To all who believed Him and accepted Him, [Jesus] gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn!” John 1:12-13 NLT. Paul elaborated further on this remarkable transformation of your old nature, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV. Spiritual nurture is essential for effective and enduring change.

The Word of God nurtures Christian growth and Godly character, “[God has] given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature . .” Read 2 Peter 1:2-11 NKJV. Especially note verses 5-9.

The Holy Spirit nurtures discipleship and obedience, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.” Read Romans 8:1-11 NIV.

Spiritual discipline nurtures firm resolve, “Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV.

Christian Fellowship nurtures spiritual life and growth. “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, but exhorting one another.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV.

For me, these words sum up any debate about nature versus nurture, “Christ in you, the hope of Glory.” Colossians 1:27 NKJV. The remedy for all you have been and the potential for all you can become is found ultimately in Jesus as Lord and Savior. See 1 John 3:2-3 NLT.

Today, I pray for you that you are nurtured in your faith and an encourager to others.

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Distractions and Diversions

May 28th, 2014

“Anyone who starts to plow, then keeps looking back is of no use . .” Luke 9:62 TEV.

The devil is the master of distraction and deception.

My thoughts and comments today are about “distractions and diversions.”

Distractions happen. Distractions waste more of a person’s time than we realize when they occur. Ironically, while writing this, I became distracted. That happens easily to any of us. Interruptions occur; misdirection results. Here’s the problem. Typically, you are not interrupted by more important matters. Usually, lesser things crowd into your life and crowd out of your life things you cannot afford to procrastinate. Your success results from setting priorities, maintaining focus, and avoiding distraction.

A distraction can be a brief, pleasant diversion. However, any diversion has potential for a misdirection you may not intend. That can be costly if not noticed and corrected. Unfortunately, distractions come in all shapes and descriptions, some in the pretense of responsibilities or others disguised as opportunities. The devil is the master of distraction and deception, using love of the world, desires, worry, regret, greed, anger, offences, or temptations to dissuade you from being the person Christ means you to be.

Jesus spoke of the danger of spiritual distraction, “Anyone who starts to plow and then keeps looking back is of no use for the Kingdom of God.” Read Luke 9:57-62 TEV. See John 6:66-69 NIV. Jesus’ clearest teaching on distraction is found in a parable He told. Read Matthew 13:3-8 NIV. The same seed – with incalculable potential for good – had differing results, according to the reception of its truth. Jesus was not talking about farmers and fields, nor seed and soils. In His story, Jesus was describing people into whose hearts and lives the Word of God was sown, inefficiently in some but effectively in others. Read Matthew 13:18-23 NIV. Whatever diminishes your obedience to God’s Word, His will, and His ways is a distraction you cannot afford.

Beware; distractions preempt attention from what God is saying and doing in your life. “The evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.” Vs 19. Your spiritual life requires priority and focus. Distractions dull God’s calling in your heart and diminish His dreams for you before their time of harvest.

Be careful; distractions prevent the Word of God from becoming rooted in your heart. “Since he has no root, he lasts only for a short time. When trouble comes . . he quickly falls away.” Vs 20-21. Avoid shallow convictions and superficial faith. See Colossians 2:6-7 NKJV.

Be watchful; distractions preoccupy your mind with worries and fears instead of God’s Word. “The worries of this life choke [the Word], making it unfruitful.” Vs 22. Worry ignores God’s Word while consuming thoughts and emotions with fear, suffocating hope, and destroying expectation. See Philippians 4:6-8 NLT/2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV.

Jesus’ conclusion is, “. . the man who hears the Word of God and understands it. He produces a crop yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” Vs 23. Paul was neither distracted nor dissuaded, “None of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself . . one thing I do, forgetting . . reaching . . I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Acts 20:22-24/Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding.

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Prayer and God’s Supremacy

March 12th, 2014

“Our Father . . Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” Matthew 6:13 NKJV.

If God were not sovereign, prayer would be mere words thrown into an empty heaven.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prayer and God’s supremacy.”

In life, it is important to know who is in charge. Most of us like to think that we are, but that would be inaccurate. There is One who is supreme and rules and reigns in the affairs of men. Until you recognize His rightful place, life will not work out well for you. In the Lord’s Prayer, we have considered the “Pattern for Prayer, God’s sovereignty, God’s kingdom, God’s providence, God’s forgiveness, and God’s reinforcement.” Let’s look at prayer’s majestic conclusion.

Prayer is noblest when acclaiming who God is. When you know who God is, you learn who you are in Him. Jesus taught His disciples, “[When you pray, say], ‘Our Father . . Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’” Matthew 6:13 NKJV. If God were not sovereign and supreme, prayer would be mere words thrown into an empty heaven. If He were not Lord and King, why would anyone bother to pray? Prayer humbles one’s self before an omnipotent, all wise God. Purposely, the Lord’s Prayer begins and ends with recognition of the Kingdom of God and His will, as ought every prayer to rest on those enduring truths. Only between such encompassing truths can your own needs be properly addressed.

“Our Father, Yours is the kingdom . .” Prayer extends the righteous rulership of God and His Son. Prayer claims borders and boundaries for the Kingdom of God and pushes back the intrusions of darkness, “pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God . .” Read 2 Corinthians 10-3-5 NKJV.

“Our Father, Yours is the power . .” Prayer asserts the incomparable power of God. Using the example of Elijah, the Bible says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” James 5:16-18 NLT. Prayer aligns your heart and faith with the purposes of God and releases the power of God into even the most desperate, long-standing circumstances.

“Our Father, Yours is the glory forever . .” Prayer concerns itself with achieving the glory of God. David avowed God’s supremacy, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; You are exalted as head over all.“ 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 NIV.

“Our Father . . Amen!” Prayer aligns your desires with God’s will. “Amen” is so much more than a religious formality to conclude your prayer. The word triumphantly agrees with God and affirms your conviction, “Make it so!”

Again, let me share from a collection of prayers by the Puritans, “Let me know that the work of prayer is to bring my will to Thine, and that without this it is folly to pray. I can only succeed when I pray according to Thy precept and promise, and to be done as it pleases Thee, according to Thy sovereign will. When Thou commandest me to pray, it is because Thou wilt give me the thing promised, for Thy glory, as well as for my good.” (The Valley of Vision).

My prayer for you today is that your prayers overflow with acclamation and adoration.

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Problems Present Possibilities

June 5th, 2013

“Outside were fightings; inside were fears. Nevertheless, God . .” 2 Corinthians 7:5 KJV.

Face facts, even if daunting, until you find truth that is empowering.

My thoughts and comments today are that “problems present possibilities.”

Success begins with a proper perspective. Some look at problems deciding they’re unsolvable. Others look beyond the problem, seeing possibilities worth their time and effort. Some people just focus on problems; successful people study possibilities and strategize ways to succeed.

Does that sound at all like any problem you are facing right now? Any problem will be accompanied by voices suggesting you are not able. Sometimes, it is others’ voices you hear; often, it is your own. Paul described one occasion when, “We were troubled on every side. Outside were fightings, inside were fears. Nevertheless, God . . comforted us.” 2 Corinthians 7:5-6. The truest meaning of that word involves the concept of restoring faith or fortitude. Just don’t forget to consider and expect, “Nevertheless, God . .” Never leave God out of the equation.

Newly crowned as King, David faced a problem. An old enemy inhabited a fortress critical to his occupying Jerusalem, the nation’s capital. Read 2 Samuel 5:1-10 NIV. The Jebusites occupied Zion, confident their fortified walls were impenetrable. The walls were high, the enemy powerful, and the voices intimidating. This stronghold stood in the way of his success. They taunted David and his soldiers, “You’ll never get in here. Even the blind and lame could keep you out.” How wrong they were.

Including God in your situation introduces unforeseen opportunities. David looked at his problem, then studied possibilities. Rather than attacking the walls that were strong and heavily guarded, David strategized that his soldiers could enter the city through a water tunnel, outsmarting the city’s defenders. David faced the facts that seemed daunting, until he found a truth that was empowering. Facts can change; truth is ever true. Where walls discouraged others, David discovered tunnels. “Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion!” Every possibility has a problem you must face, solve, and overcome. Every problem hides a possibility, if you will seek it. That’s problem solving at its best.

In his 1968 presidential campaign, Robert Kennedy adapted a quote, “There are those who look at things the way they are and ask, ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were and ask, ‘Why not?’” (George Bernard Shaw, 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature). Consider possibilities rather than problems.What problems do you face? What stronghold blocks your achievement – a losing battle with old habits, loss of confidence, previous failures, frustration, fearfulness, lack of faith? In every problem, there are possibilities.

Use your head but also listen to God in your heart. God is equal to any opposing stronghold, knows the way through every obstacle, and possesses everything you ever need. “We use God’s mighty weapons . . to knock down the devil’s strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NLT.

My prayer for you this day is that you look for God’s possibilities in every difficulty.

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Spiritual Vigilance

January 16th, 2013

Winning the spiritual conflict around you begins by winning the battle within you.

“Be of sober spirit; be on the alert.” 1 Peter 5:8 NAS.

Life is not just a walk in the park. You and I are engaged in a cosmic struggle of good and evil. Paul described being “. . troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.” 2 Corinthians 7:5 KJV. There is a moral and spiritual conflict; if you wish to be safe and successful you must be wise and watchful. “Be of sober spirit; be on the alert.” 1 Peter 5:8 NAS. This spiritual conflict does not allow for either casual or occasional involvement. It is both serious and full-time. Winning the spiritual conflict around you begins by winning the battle within you. Paul voiced the conflict with these words, “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s Law, but I see another law at work . . waging war against the Law of my mind . .” Read Romans 7:14-25 NIV.

Paul’s counsel remains relevant and timeless, “For our struggle is . . against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the whole armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.” Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV. Be clear about your enemy’s identity and intentions. You are not left unprotected or defenseless, but you must live with intentionality. Paul assured the Corinthian believers that, “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God . .” 2 Corinthians 10:4 NKJV.

Peter provides some practical principles of preparedness. Read 1 Peter 5:6-9 NAS. “Humble yourselves . . casting all your anxiety . . be of sober spirit, be on the alert . . resist your adversary [the devil] firm in your faith.” And the promised result? “The God of all grace who called to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10 NIV.

Your success in this moral and spiritual conflict begins with your surviving attitude of a combatant.” You must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:3-4 NKJV. The enemy will exploit every fear or weakness; he neither rests nor sleeps and shows no mercy. You are in danger if not vigilant. The threat is real; the cost is eternal; there is no “off duty.”

Your success in this conflict necessitates your drawing courage from effective training. Read Psalm 18:29 NIV. David did not fear armies, giants or kings; “The Lord, my Protector . . trains me for battle and prepares me for war.” Psalm 144:1-2 TEV. “For the weapons of our warfare are . . mighty in God for pulling done strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience . .” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NKJV.

Your success in this conflict requires your having the confidence of victory. “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” Read 1 John 5:4-5 NIV. Jesus assures you, “Take heart, I have overcome the world . . now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ.” John 16:33 NIV/2 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV. Jesus’ victory can be yours.

My prayer for you today is that you are victorious in all inner and outward conflict.

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