Posts Tagged ‘2 Corinthians 9:8’

Faults and Amazing Grace

August 23rd, 2017

Love sees what others do not care enough to look for.

 “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”

Romans 5:20

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Faults and Amazing Grace.”

We all have faults aplenty, if anyone is looking for them. And it is not uncommon to recognize faults in others that we ignore in ourselves. The challenge of any relationship is choosing to keep in view the things that first caused love or friendship to be valued. As time passes, it is easy to notice more things that are other than were expected. Those are less numerous and probably smaller than what you might appreciate, but a wrong focus can soon cause another’s graces to seem overshadowed.That’s when you will be tempted to highlight another’s supposed shortcomings, much to their displeasure and the gradual diminishing of your relationship.

When a person seems oblivious to a beloved’s imperfections, it is explained that, “Love is blind.” I suggest that God’s love is not blind at all, but chooses to overlook what is contrary to love. How would you otherwise explain this verse? “Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8 NIV.

This is the real question. How could God see your sinfulness, and yet love you? Do you ever think that strange? Exceptional? Our humanity waits until love has cause and justification to be offered, but is easily revoked when disappointed. God’s only justification was your need for His love and ample forgiveness. Paul marveled at God grace. “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” . . “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” Romans 5:20/2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV.

Many years ago, Dottie Rambo wrote a touching song of testimony that declared, “He looked beyond my faults and saw my needs.” That kind of love, from God or man, has an relentless power to transform a human heart and rescue a ruined life. Mark reports Jesus’ encounter with a young man of wealth and authority, who sincerely asked how he might inherit eternal life. Painful moments after Jesus’ response, he would walk away sorrowfully. The price seemed too high for him to accept. “But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Read Mark 10:17-22 NKJV.

Though more than fifty years ago, I vividly remember my Dad’s sermon about “the rich, young ruler.” As a young teen, his words painted an unforgettable picture in my heart of a young man walking away, shoulders slumped with sorrow, and his back turned to Jesus. My Dad’s description has influenced my lifetime, lest anything cause me to turn my back on Jesus’ offer of eternal life. No sacrifice is too great as an exchange for eternal life.

While writing Peter’s memory of the encounter, Mark observed, “And Jesus looked at him, and loved him.” Mark 10:21 NIV. Make no mistake. Others saw his wealth and position and would have received or rejected him on that basis. Jesus saw more. He saw a heart searching for real life, and loved him, before he chose and even after he chose unwisely. Do not make the mistake than young man made.

After explaining his notable, religious pedigree and his brutal, relentless persecution of the young church, Paul wrote, “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,  for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.” See Philippians 3:4-14 NKJV/Galatians 1:1-16 NIV. No wonder they call grace amazing!

Today, I pray for you to love others, believe the best of them, and show them grace.

Christian Communications 2017

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Inadequacy or Sufficiency?

July 21st, 2017

In your inadequacy, you discover God’s sufficiency.

 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today ask that you consider, “Inadequacy or Sufficiency?

Problems are a part of life. In life and its myriad of circumstances, people are prone to measure problems and the probability of success according to their present resources and personal abilities. There will be times when you feel inadequate. However much experience and expertise you acquire, there will still be challenges for which you are inadequate. That is reality, but neither weakness nor prediction of failure. It is not failure when you face a problem you cannot solve, a need you cannot meet, or a habit you cannot conquer.

It is failure when you try to accomplish those things in your own strength and resources, without including the One who is greater than the challenge before you. “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3 NIV. With boldness, Paul differentiated between his own inadequacy and the unfailing sufficiency of God, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV. Sufficiency always and only comes form God.

History, as well as Scripture, is filled with examples of ordinary people who recognized their limitations and realized God’s extraordinary grace and power. Hudson Taylor, the great British missionary to India in the later 1800’s, wrote, “Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, thus they attempt very little and they always fail. The real giants have all been weak people who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and His presence to be with them.” Hudson Taylor achieved remarkable things because he was confident that a great God was with and within him and offered himself for God’s use.

When God chose you and me, He knew what He was doing and what He was getting. The Bible speaks plainly,“Few of you were wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. And He chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. So that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NLT. And God was clear about His purpose, “That you may know what is . . the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” Read Ephesians 1:18-21 NKJV. The power of His Resurrection confirms His sufficiency.

You discover God’s sufficiency when you accept your inadequacy. The process is this: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV. God’s abundant grace empowers your effective ministry to others, but is not for your personal embellishment. Paul’s testimony was, “The Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV. Because God knows our weakness, He releases His strength to accomplish through us what we could not achieve without His empowering, “. . according to His working which works in [us] mightily.” Colossians 1:29 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to trust and find that God is within you, and He is enough.

Christian Communications 2017

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The Language of Touch

June 9th, 2017

A touch communicates more than words will express.

You place Your hand of blessing on my head.”   Psalm 139:5 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “The Language of Touch.”

Physical touch has its own language. A simple act of touch can communicate comfort, inclusion, assurance, affirmation, or even healing. An extended hand speaks of welcome and acceptance. A pat on the back is congratulatory, affirming a job well done. An arm around a person’s shoulders registers comfort and assurance. An embrace communicates affection. The language of touch communicates what words are inadequate to express – compassion, understanding, sympathy, comfort, or reassurance. In contrast, isolation from human touch can be debilitating to one’s personality and sense of wellbeing.

Along with our family and friends, we each need appropriate, physical interaction. Babies who were touched and held more frequently by attending nurses are found to thrive, gaining body weight more quickly than infants who were not touched and held. It would seem we never outgrow the need for a loving, caring touch from others. For reasons that will have to be explored elsewhere, it seems like we Americans are more inhibited about this than are our European cousins. But no one does as well without frequent interaction and the appropriate touch of other persons.

Jesus was always touching people and being touched by them, even some that others would not have touched. He touched lepers and freed them from their prison of social isolation. He touched the sick and they resumed normal lives. He touched the blind and they could see as before. Jesus laid His hands upon children and blessed them. His touch restored lifeless bodies to life. In Scripture, great importance is given to the “laying on of hands.” Along with the spiritual significance of impartation, there is the very real physical importance of identification and empowerment, evidencing a new connectedness and beneficial involvement with one another.

That personal touch is available to you as well. David seemed incredulous as he wrote, You place Your hand of blessing on my head.” Psalm 139:5 NLT. What would it mean to you today – every day, any day – to know that the hand of God was upon your life for blessing? After David describes the breadth of human experience, he adds, “Even there Your hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me.” Read Psalm 139: 7-12 NLT.

When He lays His hand upon you, God identifies Himself with you. So often in Scripture, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” chose to identify Himself with individuals, even with all our imperfections and frailties. Consider that God would place His Name alongside of yours. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the Throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 KJV. The double negative of that verse asserts that our God can and will be touched with, “the feelings of our infirmities,” and welcomes us with grace.

When He lays His hand upon you, God commits Himself to you. He commits to provide, protect, and direct.  “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV. Imagine having the sufficiency of God always available to you.

Today, I pray for you to experience the benevolent touch of your God.

Christian Communications 2017 – 6408

About the photo: From 1508-1512, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with a series of frescoes that portrayed several Biblical stories. Perhaps the most famous image from the ceiling is The Creation of Adam, which depicts God giving life to the first human, Adam.

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Content or Coveting

January 17th, 2015

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6 NIV.

EDL Contentment graphic

Coveting is the enemy of contentment.

My thoughts and comments today are about being “content or coveting.”

The world surrounding you is incurably materialistic yet increasingly discontented. Commercial advertising fosters discontent, until you not only want more, you think you actually need more. Never confuse luxuries with necessities or desires with needs. Your Father promises to supply all your needs, but not all your wants. Paul was clear, “My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NIV. Of that you can be absolutely sure.

The complication comes when you covet what you see others have. Coveting is a wicked thing, causing you to envy others to the extent that you would prefer you were so fortunate, and ultimately that they were not. The Bible speaks wisely and practically, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with what you have.” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV. Coveting is the enemy of contentment. Contentment is the cure for coveting.

The Bible states a sure and simple truth, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6 NIV. Paul’s reasoning is also simple; “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:7-8 NIV. Know when enough is enough. Discontentment leaves you vulnerable to covetous desires, insatiably wanting what you do not have and begrudging what others enjoy. “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10 NIV.

That is the reality that corrupted the bliss of the Garden of Eden, “When Eve saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eye, and desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” Genesis 3:6. She saw; she desired; she took. That is a formula for a spiraling regression to discontent. Instead, may your heart pray, “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your Word.” Psalm 119:37 NIV.

Years earlier, my friend, Campbell, shared a wise and invaluable lesson with me: the heart cannot desire what the eye has not seen. Looking produces longing; longing creates a need to possess. Having too little money is not your biggest problem; the real dilemma and one that touches every soul is when you covet what others have, thereby loving money as a necessity for supplying your desires without reliance on God.

When you covet what others have, you will eventually doubt God’s willingness and ability to provide your needs. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV. It is simple; present every need to God in prayer, trusting Him to give you whatever is wise for you, consistent with His will, and in His time and manner. Paul found contentment to be a lesson learned, ”. . in any and every situation . . whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Read Philippians 4:6-7, 11-13 NIV. Imagine your life satisfied and content.

Today, my prayer for you is that you avoid struggling to have things you don’t need.

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Interruptions and Opportunities

May 16th, 2014

As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” Galatians 6:10 NIV.

Opportunities often appear as interruptions or inconveniences.

My thoughts and comments today are about “interruptions and opportunities.”

Good people do good things when they can and there are plenty of opportunities, if you are watching and wanting to do so. “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart.” Luke 6:45 NIV. Can you remember how good you felt when someone was helpful and kind to you, when they weren’t obligated? There are people around you every day who would be encouraged by even the smallest act of kindness – a compliment, a thank you, a door held open, a smile, a helping hand, a gesture of concern, a kind note or call, or an offer of prayer. See Ephesians 2:10 NIV. When you see a need, is it an opportunity, or an interruption or inconvenience?

Paul’s instruction to the Church is clear, as is the reward, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers . . Because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does.” Galatians 6:9-10 /Ephesians 6:8 NIV.

Usually, failure to do a good thing is not for lack of opportunity. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV. Why do we not do what we can when we could? I think the answer is simple: opportunities often appear as interruptions or inconveniences.

In the context of being neighborly, Jesus told the story of a Good Samaritan. Read Luke 10:30-37 NKJV. A man had been robbed, beaten, and left beside the road. A priest and a Levite actually paused long enough to see the man, but hurried on their way without helping. A Samaritan “saw him and had compassion on him. So he went to Him, bandaged his wounds . . and took care of him.” See Matthew 5:16 NIV.

I have over simplified the story for the sake of brevity. Were they afraid for their own safety? Were the religious men uncaring? Maybe to one it was an interruption to his plans, to another possibly an inconvenient time, but for the Samaritan this was an opportunity to do good. Solomon advised, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.” Proverbs 3:27 NKJV/James 4:17 NIV. It is likely the others’ lives were no busier than the man who stopped to help. Inattentiveness is often the culprit but busyness is the cause.

The deciding factor should always be: “Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16 NIV. Pleasing others is a trap; pleasing yourself is a dead end; pleasing God is rich with reward. Everyday, in ways large and small, there are opportunities to help. If you aren’t available to those opportunities that appear large, you probably will not recognize the ones that seem small. Jesus is your example; ”God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and He went around doing good . .” Acts 10:38 NIV. You are anointed to bless others.

My prayer for you today is that you will embrace every opportunity to do good.

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