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Posts Tagged ‘2 Corinthians 2:11’

Obstacles, Obstructions, and Opposition

November 1st, 2013

“Amid all these things we . . gain a surpassing victory through [Christ].”  Romans 8:37 AMP.

An overcomer is your identity in Christ, not your ability apart from Him.

My thoughts and comments today are about “obstacles, obstructions, and opposition.”

Life can be challenging. Obstacles, obstructions, and opposition impose themselves across your path and into your plans. Such moments require choices with consequences good or bad. Do you look for an easier path, settle for less, waste valuable resource with little progress, or do you seek Godly solutions not previously considered? You have two options; you can overcome obstacles or be overcome by them. For the Christ-follower, the latter is not an acceptable option.

Too easily, you can indulge yourself and be overcome by things such as: worries, doubt, fears, failures, regrets, disappointments, temptations, or habits until you feel overwhelmed and helpless to resist. Be warned, “By [whatever] a person is overcome, by [that] also he is brought into bondage.” 2 Peter 2:19 NKJV. Paul’s counsel is plain and simple, “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 NIV.

Obstacles, obstructions, and opposition can have differing sources. Some obstacles are merely circumstantial, inevitable situations which are common to any of us – things the Bible calls, “the cares of life.” Overcome such obstacles by seeing the opportunity they present, “When trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.” See James 1:2-4 NLT. Read 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV/1 Peter 4:12-13 NLT.

Other obstacles result from a spiritual adversary seeking your harm who will use evil “schemes” to dissuade you or misdirect your life. See 2 Corinthians 2:11 NIV/1 Peter 5:7-9 NKJV. Be wise to his intent and undeterred by his opposition. “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 NKJV.

Obstacles may even be providential on occasion, evidence of God’s loving intervention to wisely direct or protect you. The obvious or your preferred option may not always be God’s highest and best. But His love will guide you “in the right paths for His Name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3 NIV. God may use an obstruction to prompt you to pause and pray about a decision or direction that would not be His highest and best for you. Discern times when God permits an obstacle, obstruction, or opposition in your path. Ignore an obstacle and God may allow an obstruction. Ignore the obstruction and God might allow opposition to get your attention. Paul expected and embraced God’s providential direction in his life. See Acts 16:5-10 NIV.

“Amid all these things [obstacles, obstructions, and opposition] we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37 AMP. God has given you the spiritual authority, as well as a solemn responsibility, to be “. . more than conquerors . . [who] gain a surpassing victory THROUGH HIM who loved us.” Paul viewed himself and every believer as overcomers of the highest order. An overcomer is your identity in Christ, not your ability apart from Him. “In Christ!” What a glorious place to be. Read Ephesians 1:18-23 NKJV.

John echoes Paul’s confidence, “You have overcome . . because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world . . For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” See 1 John 4:4/5:4-5 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that your identity be clear and your confidence strong in God.

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Identity Confusion

October 16th, 2013

“If anyone is in Christ . . the old has gone, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV.

Difficulties can confuse your sense of identity; grace restores it.

My thoughts and comments today are about “identity confusion.”

As a teen, I remember my Dad often reminding me, “Remember, you are a Randolph.” He certainly had no intention of elevating our family name above others; socially and financially, we were a middle class family at best. His clear intent was that I remember in my conversations and conduct the responsibility I had to honor the name we shared. My Dad wanted me to not be confused about my identity, nor irresponsible toward it.

Occasionally, anyone can “forget” who they are. In words spoken or actions unbecoming, a person can say and do what is uncharacteristic. Those moments make you wonder to yourself, “Who am I really?” Disappointments and difficulties can confuse your own sense of identity, but humility and confession release grace and forgiveness that restore who God made you to be, in Christ. We are each painfully aware of our own failings and foibles, and wrongly assume they, or the opinions of others, or the accusations of the Accuser, define who we really are, but they alone do not define you or me.

You are made in the image and likeness of God however diminished that may sometimes become. The Bible proclaims, “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. For God . . chose them to become like His Son.” Romans 8:28-29 NLT.

God’s Word and His Spirit within you affirm you are made in His image and likeness. “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” Him we preach . . teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man [mature] in Christ . . Till we all come to . . the knowledge of the Son of God, to a [mature] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Colossians 1:28-29/Ephesians 4:13 NKJV. In Christ, yours and my destiny  are sure.

God and His Word are where you begin. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” See 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV. Stay true to the truth. Consider how this works in your spiritual life. The objective of the devil, your adversary, is to make you doubt God; in doing so, his tactic is to make you unsure of your true identity in Christ. Read 1 Peter 5:8-11 NKJV/2 Corinthians 2:11 NIV. Identity confusion is not something new; it is as old as human history.

Many people mis-identify themselves, or allow others to do so, by inaccurate comparisons. Your true identity is in your potential, not your history; your knowledge and wisdom, not your education; who you are, not what you do; your stewardship of things, not your ownership of them; and most importantly, who you are in Christ, not in and of yourself. You cannot really know who you are until you understand who Christ declares you to be.

In his adult years, Don, my life-long friend, legally changed his name. Emigrating from Greece years earlier, his father and uncles anglicized their Greek surname. Choosing to lay aside the name he had known all his life, he reclaimed his father’s surname to honor him and to choose to be who he was supposed to have been. Don fully embraced his heritage and its cultural identity. In Christ, you find your true identity – liberating and empowering.

As an Angel struggled with him, Jacob was asked, “What is your name?” Read Genesis 32:24-31 NKJV. His name, Jacob, meant “supplanter, deceiver,” correctly describing who he had been and even what he had done, but not predicting who he was destined to become. God corrected Jacob’s identity confusion; “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for [as a prince] you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Vs. 28 NKJV. In Christ, you are more than you ever could have been.

”It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption . . If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” 1 Corinthians 1:30 NIV/2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV. “In Christ!” What a place to be.

My prayer for you today is that you never forget all that you are in Christ Jesus.

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Distractions and Diversions

September 18th, 2013

One thing I do . . I press toward . . the prize of the upward call of God.” Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV.

Be vigilant; the insistent threatens the important.

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

Life can easily misdirect priorities, unless you persist with diligence and purpose. If you have not experienced diversion in matters small or large, you will. You can begin with clarity of purpose, then become diverted by things that clamor for your attention, only to realize that you have lost direction. Life is often what happens while you were busy elsewhere. Remembering his own painful experience, Solomon offers wise counsel, Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe. Don’t get sidetracked . .” Proverbs 4:25-27 NLT. Time and energy can be wasted on needless diversions.

I benefit from my Dad’s practical counsel, “Keep the main things the main thing!” Paul’s “main thing” was voiced in this determination, “That I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me . . one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV. For everyone, there are three essential components, “forgetting, reaching, and pressing.” Paul knew who he was, who he wanted to be, and what diligence that would require of him. The same clarity must be true of you. Contemplate what “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” would be for your life.

Be vigilant; the insistent threatens the important. Keeping a clear focus is not always as easy as you might assume. Life can be distracting. “Your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:32-33 NKJV. Distraction results when the secondary usurps the place of the primary. Keep Jesus in the center.

Jesus asked a probing question, “For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul” Read Matthew 8:34-37 NKJV. No man begins with the intention of losing his soul. Distractions and diversions exact a terrible price. With broken heart, Paul wrote this of his former companion, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” 2 Timothy 4:10 NKJV. For a love that does not endure and cannot satisfy, Demas traded his destiny. The destroyer of your soul is the master of distractions and diversions. Do not be ignorant of his schemes. See 2 Corinthians 2:11 NLT. What he cannot take from you, he will tempt you to lay aside.

Are any of us safe? God never meant for you to live insecurely. “The temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so you will not give in to it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT. I am confident of God’s sufficiency and care.

His promise is this, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 NKJV. The word you hear is the Spirit’s affirmation of the Word you have hidden in your heart. See Psalm 119:9-11 NIV. The path of your success is simple: keep the Word of God foremost in your heart, listen to the Spirit of God devotedly, and be true to both unreservedly. Read 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you will be steadfast in your pursuit of God.

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Lies and Half Truths

June 27th, 2012

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 NIV

Truth does not require argument or defense; it does, however, require your conviction.

My thoughts and comments today are about “lies and half truths.”

The practice of truth seems an increasingly rare commodity. Solomon’s wise advice was, “Buy the truth and do not sell it.” Proverbs 23:23 NIV. I think the simple meaning is this: truth is beyond price whether buying or selling. If you will only and always tell the truth, you will more readily recognize when others do not. I think it is a social and spiritual tragedy that the truth is so lightly regarded, and lies and half truths so willingly believed. If a half truth is not all true is it truth at all? Mark Twain observed, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” (American humorist and author (1835-1910).

Jesus exposed the enemy of your soul with this description, “There is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44 NIV. The problem is this: a person tends to believe who and what they want to believe. If you masquerade lies and half truths as truth, you play right into your enemy’s hands. The devil is not capable of speaking truth; don’t be so naïve as to expect anything different from him. “Lest Satan should take advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Corinthians 2:11 NKJV.

As he began in the Garden, he continues today. In the Genesis account of creation the second chapter ends with Adam and Eve’s innocence; then the third chapter opens with their spiritual ignorance before the one who is described as, “more crafty than any of the wild animals God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat of any tree in the Garden’?” Genesis 3:1 NIV. Refer to Genesis 2:15-17. That was not quite what God said – a half truth misapplied as a lie. Be true to the truth!

Lies and half truths intrude when you indulge your own, or any others’ challenge to God’s Word. The devil, in the form of a serpent, questioned God’s instruction, subtly alters its accuracy, and then impugns God’s character. Read Genesis 3:1-13 NIV. You are no match for his clever deceit unless you hold fast to the Word of God, as Jesus did when tempted in the wilderness. See Matthew 4:1-11 NIV. Jesus’ response to each temptation was the clear, simple response of the eternal Word, “It is written.” Truth and nothing more need be said. Lessen your grip on absolute truth and you have lost the battle. Truth does not require argument or defense; it does, however, require your conviction. Refer to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 TEV.

There is a somber warning that concludes the Canon of Scripture. “If anyone adds to these things . . if anyone takes words away from this Book, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life.” Revelation 22:18-19 NIV. Plainly stated, you need nothing more than God’s Word; neither do you need anything less than all of God’s Word. God deals only in truth; so should we who choose to be called by His Name. The Bible describes the man whom God honors as, “He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.” Read Psalm 15:1-5 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you love and guard the truth, without compromise.

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Be Wary, Be Wise

July 27th, 2010

“We are not unaware of (Satan’s) schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11 NKJV

“There is a place in your heart that God alone can fill.”

My thoughts today are about “be wary; be wise.”

Whether in life or business, it is always best to have some understanding about the person with whom you do business. That is definitely true in the realm of your spiritual life. The enemy of your soul, and enemy of everything that is good, is neither naïve or harmless. Jesus described him like this, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy . . Be alert; your enemy, the devil, prowls around . . looking for someone to devour.” John 10:10 NIV/1 Peter 5:8 NIV. Make no mistake; he is no friend.

Your spiritual enemy has the character of a thief and liar. You cannot believe anything he says or promises, and nothing you value is safe from his destructive intent – your good name and reputation, your hopes and happiness, or your dreams and future. His method is, and always has been, to look for easy prey. His unrelenting objective is to kill and destroy. And he succeeds when he lulls you into carelessness. Your best defense is: be wary; be wise!

You were born with a place in your heart that God alone can fill. Nothing, and no one, can fill that. Some people try anything and everything – every unconstrained appetite, thrill-seeking amusement, irrational relationships, and personal achievements – but usually are left emptier and lonelier than when they began. That’s really sad, isn’t it?

Jesus met a woman like that; she came thirsty to draw water from a familiar well. Jesus told her “the water that I give is living water . . people soon become thirsty again after drinking this water. But the water I give them takes away thirst altogether . . becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:5-15 NLT. Her search was over; her deepest longing was satisfied. What Jesus promises you is found nowhere else, ever.

Look at the lives of Joseph and David. Both faced similar temptations. Who would know? One was in a foreign country far from home; the other was a King none dare challenge or correct. Joseph reacted to Potiphar’s wife in a vastly different way than David responded to Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. David looked and kept looking until there was no turning back; the results were disastrous. Joseph turned and ran away quickly; he saved himself. I love the question Joseph asked, “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Genesis 39:9 NIV. That’s a very good question when you or a friend are about to compromise your faith and convictions.

The Bible’s advice is still the best advice today. “If sinners entice you, turn your back on them . . don’t go along with them. Stay far away from their paths.” Proverbs 1:10/15 NLT. Realize there are chances you should not take, habits you cannot afford, compromises you dare not make, places you should not be, and friends whose influence is not to your good. Be wary; be wise!

My prayer for you today is that you live right before God, and stay far from wrong.

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