A PRAYER FOR REVELATION…

EPHESIANS 1:17-19: “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of his strength.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Is there a prayer that the Lord loves to answer? I believe Paul’s prayer in Ephesians chapter 1 is such a prayer. And, it is a prayer that I can make personal. It is a prayer for revelation!

  • “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.”

Lord, I know that within my own understanding I will never get to know You personally and intimately. Yet, this is what I hunger for. I want to know You more. I want to know Your love, Your character, Your heart. I want to grow in Your wisdom and understanding. I pray that You would pour out Your Holy Spirit anew upon my life and grant me wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You. Take the scales away from my eyes and my heart. Let me see You, know You, love You, follow You. Give me the gift of revelation!

  • “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened…”

Lord, help me to remember that the true reality is the spiritual reality. My life here on earth is so bound by what I see, touch, and hear. I tend to live my life from merely a human perspective. Yet, by Your Spirit, you want to lift me above these limitations. You want to give me the wings of eagles so that I can soar above my limitations. You want to give me spiritual eyes, the eyes of my heart, so that I can truly see. Help me to view all of life through these eyes. Not just the spiritual things, but even the ordinary and mundane things of life. Help me to see Your hand and purpose in everything I face and do.

  • “…so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints…”

Lord, there is so much wealth stored up for those who believe. It is not the gold and silver of this present age. It is the true riches of heaven that neither moth nor rust can corrupt. It is a future filled with hope and an inheritance that is not subject to the stock market or the condition of this world. It is an inheritance in Christ that is secured in heaven for me. It is the promise of an eternity in Your presence where there will be no more tears or suffering. It is the hope of our fulfilled purpose and destiny as the creation of God! Lord, help me to know and hold on to this hope.

  • “…and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of his strength.”

Lord, when I feel powerless, and there are many times I do, help me to remember the immeasurable greatness of Your power directed toward me. It is the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. It is not an earthly energy or force. Rather, it is the immutable power of Your love working in us. It is in Your love that we find the true strength to live our lives. Nothing can separate us from Your love. We can face anything in life because Your love sustains us. Love led Jesus to the cross and love rolled away the stone and broke the bonds of death. Love is our victory. Lord, help me to grow in the greatness of Your power, in the greatness of Your strength, in the greatness of Your love!

  • “He exercised this power in Christ by raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens — far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he subjected everything under his feet and appointed him as head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.” Ephesians 1:20-23 CSB

Lord, give me a full revelation of my life in Jesus Christ my Lord!

In Jesus Name!

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AM IN LIVING A LIFE OF FREEDOM?

GALATIANS 5:13-14: “For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.” CSB

OBSERVATION: What does it mean to be free in Christ? How do you know if you are walking in freedom? Paul gives us a very simple and powerful definition of freedom. It is one that we all need to hear and hold close to our heart!

Freedom has more to do with others than it has to do with me. At first glance this statement seems backwards. Yet, as much of the truth in the Bible is paradoxical, so is the principle of freedom. When we think of freedom our first thought is the removal of restraint that allows us to do what we please. This may be the world’s definition of freedom, but it is not the Scriptural definition.

Jesus was completely free. He was free from sin, and He was free to do whatever He desired to do. His temptation in the wilderness was real. He had a choice as to what He would do, and He chose to put the call and will of the Father before His own. His life was marked by this choice, and it led Him to the cross. And when He hung on the cross for our sins, He experienced the height of His freedom.

How can this be possible? How can someone who is whipped, beaten, and nailed to a cross be free? It is because this act was a selfless act of love for others. Jesus did not have to die, but He willingly laid down His life for our sins. He knew that without this sacrifice we would die in our sins and be eternally separated from the Father. Jesus came to serve and to die. And in His death He opened the way to freedom for all who would believe!

  • “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 CSB

The joy that was set before Him was our salvation! It was always God’s will and desire to have a people for Himself. God has always wanted to share His love with others. Yet, sin separated us from God and from God’s heart. Bound in sin we are all selfish, absorbed with our own needs and desires. While we pursue our own way, thinking we are free, we are only being bound tighter in the chains of our sin. However, when we turn to Christ these chains are broken. We have been reborn to live a new life in a new way!

The evidence of freedom in our lives is love that is manifested toward others. It is being set free from our self interest, and being released to have a sincere interest in others. It is what Philippians refers to as the “mind of Christ.” And, it is the definition of what it truly means to be a Christian!

  • “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 CSB

When my wife and I moved to Florida we became season ticket holders at Disneyworld. We have always been a Disney family, but this is the first time we have been season ticket holders. It has changed our entire approach to visiting Disney. It has become a freeing experience. When we visit we are not rushed to see everything because we only have a limited time. We can come and go as we please. And this has changed our attitude toward interacting with others during our visits. We have begun to enjoy watching and helping others have the best Disney experience they can when they are at the parks. We have given directions, shared experiences, and even given away fast pass readmission tickets for others to enjoy. It is really a wonderful experience to be free!

To walk in the God’s freedom is to walk in love toward others. To love others is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. If we love, as Christ loved, we will walk after the Spirit and in obedience to God’s Word. It is not a legalistic obedience, but a dynamic obedience that is both natural and intentional. It is natural, because as we walk after the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit grows in our life. It is intentional, because as we focus on love, we are drawn to the Word of God to renew our hearts and minds.

To walk in freedom is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself!

Lord, help me to walk in freedom today! Give me a heart to love others and to be set free from selfish ambitions and desires.

  • “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:25-26 CSB

In Jesus Name!

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WILL THE REAL GOSPEL PLEASE STAND UP?

GALATIANS 1:8-9: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him! As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!” CSB

OBSERVATION: Am I following a “different gospel?” Is it possible for the average believer to be deceived to the point that they are following a gospel that is actually leading them away from the very grace of God it purports to offer?

This was Paul’s concern for the Galatians. He was not writing to a church that had been in existence for decades. He was writing to a church he had started. It was a church that was very much in its infancy. They had received the gospel of Jesus Christ that was preached by Paul with joy and faith. However, the church was being infiltrated with those who were already trying to pervert the gospel and lead these new believers away from the truth.

Paul’s statement is very bold – “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him!” Why was Paul so strong in his warning and rebuke? Paul knew that any gospel, other than the one he had preached, would lead the Galatians back into slavery to sin, and would keep them from the very grace that he had proclaimed to them in Jesus Christ. It would also keep those who did not know Christ from entering into eternal life.

How does one know whether or not they are following the true gospel? There are two determining factors. Every teacher, and every message must be weighed by these factors. They are,

Who is Jesus and what is grace?

Any gospel of Jesus Christ that does not acknowledge Him as God in human flesh, and bodily risen from the dead, is a false gospel! Jesus is not simply a great teacher, an elevated angel, one of many gods, or a created being. Jesus Christ is the third member of the trinity, the eternal logos of God (John 1:1), the Word made flesh, the creator of all things! He is not a god, He is God! Any other view of Jesus Christ is proclaiming a false gospel. If you have the wrong Jesus you have the wrong gospel. The only Jesus that can save is the one proclaimed in Scripture!

  • I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty…Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was one like the Son of Man, dressed in a robe and with a golden sash wrapped around his chest. The hair of his head was white as wool — white as snow — and his eyes like a fiery flame. His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of cascading waters. He had seven stars in his right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from his mouth, and his face was shining like the sun at full strength.” Revelation 1:8, 12-16 CSB

The second test is to understand the definition of grace. If a gospel proclaims a grace that is insufficient to save through faith alone, it is a false gospel. If you need to have Jesus and something else in order to be saved, it is a gospel of works that can never set one free. This is very subtle. This is one of the easiest pitfalls and most widely used deceptions. If someone proclaims you need Jesus and (fill in the blank), they are proclaiming a false gospel. Our salvation does not depend upon our works, our denomination, our version of the Bible, our view or eschatology, or anything else. Our salvation rests fully upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified!

  • “When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:1-2‬ ‭CSB‬‬
  • “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 CSB

There is also a flip side to the misunderstanding of grace. A gospel that preaches that grace is license to continue our life in sin is also a false gospel. Although our salvation is fully by grace through faith, our life in Christ is to be marked by grace working itself out in our ongoing transformation. God did not give us His grace so that we could continue in sin and bondage. He gave us His grace so that we could be saved and set free to live a new life in the Spirit. Paul makes this clear in the tenth verse of Ephesians 2, and also in his letter to Galatians.

  • “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 CSB
  • “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Galatians 1:3-5 CSB

It does not have to be a cult that is proclaiming a false gospel. The church of Galatia was being infiltrated by false teachers who were posing as true believers, but proclaiming a gospel that denied that Jesus came in the flesh, and that Jesus alone was sufficient for salvation. This message and error is still prevalent today. Simply because someone uses Christian lingo, or exercises spiritual gifts, does not mean they are proclaiming the true gospel. The key is to understand their definition of who Jesus is, and what grace is. If it differs from what Paul has proclaimed – it is a false gospel!

As believers we are very quick to identify the enemy when he is dressed in horns. However, the subtlest attack is when he comes as an angel of light. Yet, he will never proclaim that Jesus is God and Lord. And he will never proclaim that grace through faith in Jesus Christ is sufficient. The enemy will pervert the image of Christ and the call and meaning of grace in our life every time. For he knows that the proclamation of Jesus as God and Lord, and the pure call of grace through faith, leads one to the Cross of Jesus Christ where he was vanquished!

Lord, give me the strength to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to this and the next generation. Help me to be uphold the truth that Jesus Christ is both God and Lord, and that salvation only comes by grace through faith, not of works, lest any man may boast! And, help me to share the truth that the grace given was for our transformation, not for an excuse to live a life of self seeking and indulgence. Today, help me to live through You by grace through faith!

In Jesus Name!

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JESUS, HATE CRIMES, AND THE TRUTH…

II CORINTHIANS 10:3-5: “For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.” CSB

OBSERVATION: What are the battle lines in life? When we think about our values and ideals, how do we defend them? Are we to view those who oppose the Biblical values we hold dear as our enemies? In this day of great division and strife how does the believer in Jesus Christ position himself for the battles they will face?

How do we proclaim the truth and guard our hearts from hate?

One of the wonderful things that takes place when a person becomes a believer is that they are given a new heart of faith and spiritual eyes to see the reality of life. Before Christ we were all living a dualistic life. We lived in the realm of our body and our soul (mind, will, and emotions). Our spirit was dead to the spiritual realities of life. As such, we were unable to discern between the soul and the spirit. With respect to our differences, we drew battle lines against persons rather than ideas.

This is what is happening in the world today. There is no respect for a difference of ideas. Ideas are embodied with the person. If you hate the idea, you also hate the person. And the irony of this is that each side calls for tolerance. What they mean is – tolerance for their ideas, but marginalization for anyone who disagrees. And this marginalization has turned to violence. Violence in our discourse. Violence in our institutions. And, violence in our actions.

The believer in Jesus Christ must rise above the fray. We are reminded that, even though we are engaged in a battle, it is not won through unspiritual methods. Jesus stood unwaveringly for the truth. Yet, Jesus never hated the one who opposed the truth. He called them to repentance. He ministered to their temporal needs. And he lamented and wept over their hardness of heart and lack of faith. Jesus took his battle against sin and the lies of the enemy all the way to the cross!

The enemy of truth today is not a person. It is the father of lies, the prince of darkness, the enemy of our souls. He not only tries to sell his lies, he also tries to embody the battle in human flesh. If we are not careful we can fall to the same level. I have met so many Christians who are angry about the condition of our world. Yet, their anger has turned toward a human personality, or toward a segment of society. Our anger should be solely focused against the lie and the father of lies. Our warfare for truth is not against flesh and blood.

Jesus fought His battles against the enemy with truth and love. He proclaimed truth and manifested God’s love toward His creation. He broke down the stereotypes that separated the current culture. He dared to eat with sinners, touch lepers, and honor children and women. He opposed the cold orthodoxy of His day that was acting exactly the same as the pagan culture it opposed. And, He refused to raise a hand to defend Himself in His defense of the truth. He would not be silent, but He also would not cease to love and forgive.

Today we live in a Biblically illiterate culture. The basic tenants of morality are subjective. We no longer look to the Scriptures for our guidance. Rather, we look to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumbler. And, as we do, we become more and more polarized, and more and more focused on hating people than hating sin. To stand against sin today is called a hate crime. People cannot understand that you can love a person and still stand against the sin by which they are being held captive. Yet, this is what we are called to do. Love the sinner, and speak the truth in the face of the sin that ultimately will destroy their lives.

Why do we do this? Paul tells us in these verses from II Corinthians.

  • “…since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.”

There is only one thing that can set someone free. It is the truth! The truth is the most powerful weapon in the world. It exposes the darkness, and it points the way to the cross. It demolishes strongholds, and it takes captive feigned wisdom that opposes the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The truth does not have to be defended, it only has to be declared. The enemy thought he had defeated truth when Jesus was nailed to the cross. Yet, three days later Jesus rose from the dead. You cannot defeat truth. You cannot kill truth. Truth is alive because Truth is Jesus Christ!

  • “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7 CSB

Truth does not proclaim itself from a lofty tower, or from a place of superiority. Truth proclaims itself on a blended knee of service and prayer. Truth turns the other cheek, walks the extra mile, and manifests love in the face of hatred. Truth is willing to die rather than fight. Truth knows that light always overcomes darkness. The battle may be lost from time to time, but the war for truth and righteousness will ultimately be won!

  • “Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and he judges and makes war with justice. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on his head. He had a name written that no one knows except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God. The armies that were in heaven followed him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. A sharp sword came from his mouth, so that he might strike the nations with it. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. And he has a name written on his robe and on his thigh: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:11-16 CSB

Lord, forgive me for the times when I have tried to defend the truth in an unspiritual way. Forgive me for embodying the lie in a person and seeing my struggle as one against flesh and blood. Help me to follow the example of Jesus, who loved all, and yet did not waiver in proclaiming the truth of the Kingdom of God. And, help me to entrust the victory for the truth into the hands of the one called Faithful and True. Until You return, may I be found sharing Your love and truth, with all who oppose the knowledge of God, so that they may be set free and enter into the blessing and joy of eternal life!

In Jesus Name!

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FAITH IS REFUSING TO THROW IN THE TOWEL!

PSALM 116:10-11: “I believed, even when I said, “I am severely oppressed.” In my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Have you ever felt like throwing in the towel? This is an old boxing term. The trainer would throw in the towel when he saw that his fighter was in danger and beyond the strength or ability to continue the fight. When I look over my life there are many times I wanted to throw in the towel and simply give up. Yet, the Psalmist gives us hope in these very situations.

  • “The ropes of death were wrapped around me, and the torments of Sheol overcame me; I encountered trouble and sorrow.” Psalms 116:3 CSB

This was not a small issue the Psalmist was facing. It was a matter of life and death. The trouble and sorrow were overwhelming. They were more than he could bear. It was as if all hell was aligned against him. How could he proceed? How could he keep going on?

  • “Then I called on the name of the Lord: “ Lord, save me!” Psalms 116:4 CSB

In the midst of our deepest and darkest struggles we are always faced with a decision. Do we try and persevere in our own strength and wisdom? Do we simply throw in the towel and give up? Or, like the Psalmist, do we call upon the name of the Lord? In desperation he cried – “Lord save me!” This is not simply an act of desperation. It is also an act of faith.

And here is where the rubber meets the road.

When we cry out to the Lord, everything does not automatically change. We may even find ourselves in the midst of a greater struggle. The enemy is trying to kill, steal, and destroy. Our flesh is weakened and weary. And, we have a choice to make. Do we succumb to these pressures and throw in the towel, or do we persevere in faith? This is where the Psalmist gives us some startling advice.

  • “I believed, even when I said, “I am severely oppressed.” In my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.”

He chose to believe in God’s word, God’s character, and God’s reputation, above believing in his circumstance. When he cried out, everything did not magically change. He believed, and he understood that anything other than trusting in God was merely a lie. At this point he made the transition from believing for the circumstance, to trusting in the One who holds all the circumstances of our lives in His hand. And so the Psalmist could say,

  • “The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is compassionate. The Lord guards the inexperienced; I was helpless, and he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, rescued me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” Psalms 116:5-8 CSB

His faith became his reality! The Lord is faithful to those who call upon His name. He allows our faith to be tested in order that it may be purified as gold. Yet, the Lord never abandons us in our faith. He is gracious, righteous, and compassionate. This is what the Psalmist held on to. This is what allowed him to persevere in faith. And the Psalmist was not the only one who discovered this truth. Abraham also held on to the promise of God against all odds!

  • “He believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be. He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do.” Romans 4:18-21 CSB

This morning I am aware that so many are facing trials and difficulties that are beyond their ability and strength. It seems like everything is stacked against them and the situation is hopeless. The Psalmist, and Abraham, stand in the corner cheering us on. Faith is not denying the circumstances that we face. Faith is trusting God in the midst of our circumstances. Faith is recalling the nature and the promises of God that He has fulfilled in our lives before, and that He has fulfilled for others as they trusted in Him.

Faith is refusing to throw in the towel!

Lord, strengthen me when I am weak and am tempted to throw in the towel. Reach out with Your powerful, gracious, and compassionate hand, and uphold those who feel they are on their last thread of hope. Rise up and show Yourself mighty on behalf of the one who is in the midst of a battle they feel they cannot win. Grant us all the strength to surrender out towels to You in faith and trust! Help us to be faithful in life, and even unto death!

  • “How can I repay the Lord for all the good he has done for me? I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. The death of his faithful ones is valuable in the Lord’s sight.” Psalms 116:12-15 CSB

In Jesus Name!

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WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN LIFE REALLY LIKE?

II CORINTHIANS 6:4-10: “Instead, as God’s ministers, we commend ourselves in everything: by great endurance, by afflictions, by hardships, by difficulties, by beatings, by imprisonments, by riots, by labors, by sleepless nights, by times of hunger, by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God; through weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, through glory and dishonor, through slander and good report; regarded as deceivers, yet true; as unknown, yet recognized; as dying, yet see — we live; as being disciplined, yet not killed; as grieving, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet enriching many; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” CSB

OBSERVATION: What is the Christian life really like? Is it a life marked by daily victory and success? Or, is it a life that is marked by suffering and sacrifice?

The Christian life is like a seesaw. It is in essence not one or the other. It is both at the same time. It is a call to the cross, and a call to the crown. It is to be seated in heavenly places, while we struggle here on earth. It is to be victorious in battle, and to be persecuted in faith. It is to be understood and misunderstood at the same time. It is to die daily, and to daily live. It is a paradox of experiences.

A seesaw has two sides. Yet it only has one fulcrum point. This fulcrum point is Jesus Christ. He is our only foundation. To experience suffering or disappointment does not nullify the fulcrum. To experience victory and success does not validate the fulcrum. The fulcrum stands on its own merit. It is the center, the foundation, the only true reality. Jesus is the rock that is higher than all that we experience!

  • “God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer. I call to you from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to a rock that is high above me, for you have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy. I will dwell in your tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of your wings. Selah”. Psalms 61:1-4 CSB

Truth be told, if Paul stood up to give a testimony in many churches today, and quoted his words from II Corinthians 6:4-10, he would be rebuked for his lack of faith. There are those who are not happy unless they are talking about victory. There are those who are not happy unless they are talking about hardship. And both camps miss the boat. Why? Because, we should be talking about Jesus!

Let’s take a minute to be brutally honest. If we look over our life, if we are honest about our experiences, our testimony would be much like Paul’s. In my life I have had great victories, and I have shared great sorrow. I have walked through doors of blessing, and I have experienced closed doors of want. Yet, in all of these things I have learned that I am more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus!

Why am I more than a conqueror? The answer is simple. I never lose my fulcrum. Jesus never leaves me. If I fail, He forgives and restores me. If I am victorious, it is only because of His grace and help in time of need. He is with me each and every moment of my life. If the seesaw goes down, He is with me. If the seesaw goes up, He is with me. He is my rock, my fortress, my redeemer, and my deliverer. I have learned what the Apostle Paul proclaims,

  • “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 CSB

We are all on the seesaw of life. Yet, in Christ, we are assured of His grace in time of need. We are truly more than conquerors! Our life and our joy are not dependent upon our momentary circumstance. Our life and our joy are only dependent upon Jesus Christ our Lord!

Lord, I don’t know what today will hold. Yet, I know who holds me! Lord Jesus, be my rock, my fortress, and my strength today, I pray.

In Jesus Name!

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IT IS THE HEART THAT MATTERS!

II CORINTHIANS 5:12: “We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to be proud of us, so that you may have a reply for those who take pride in outward appearance rather than in the heart.” CSB

OBSERVATION: Am I taking pride in the outward appearances of life? Is this what life is all about – what position we hold, what we possess, what we wear, or what other people think of us? How easy it is to fall into this very familiar trap!

Why does this happen so easily? I think it is because we allow the world to define what success is in our life. This is true for everyone, especially pastors. While we know that God is really interested in the growth and change of the heart, the measurements of our success as a pastor are seen by others as our average Sunday morning attendance, our offerings and contributions to missions, and the size and condition of our buildings. It is subtle, but a pastor’s greatest temptation is to begin to measure their success by these standards.

This is really true for everyone. We are always comparing ourselves to others. And the marketing gurus are there to help foster and fan the flames of this attitude. The emulation of celebrity, the celebration of success, and the status of position keep us ever off balance as to what is truly important. Paul reminds us – it is the heart! This is true in physical things, and it is also true in spiritual things. It is not what we do, it is who we are becoming – in our heart!

It is the heart that matters!

  • “If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give away all my possessions, and if I give over my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 CSB

It is not mountain moving faith, spiritual gifts, wisdom, knowledge, or sacrifice that matter to God. It is our heart! Jesus was very clear. It is what proceeds out of the heart that matters. The Pharisees had everything neat and tidy on the outside. Yet, Jesus said inside their lives were like a tomb filled with a rotting corpse. We can hide our emotions under a smile and a set of nice clothes. Yet, we really know the condition of our heart.

It is the heart that matters!

So how do we know if we are truly focusing on the condition of our heart? It is really very easy. It is the same thing Paul stated in I Corinthians 13. It is love. And the love of God will make no sense to the world, but it is the deciding factor for the believer in Christ!

  • “For if we are out of our mind, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If one died for all, then all died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-15 CSB

A heart that is being transformed is a heart that is growing in love. It is not love without direction. Rather, it is a love focused on one thing. It is a love that is daily laying down one’s own life in order to live for Christ. And to live for Christ is to ultimately to live for others. Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. Therefore, love is not focused on one’s outward appearance, standing, or comfort. Love is concerned about the eternal condition of one’s heart and the heart of others!

It is the heart that matters!

  • “Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 CSB

A heart that is being transformed by God’s love has no choice but to call out to others to experience the same wonderful provision and blessing. When one’s sins are forgiven, when righteousness is freely imputed by God, it transforms the heart from an outward focus, to a focus of faith. It makes us new creatures in Christ, with a new purpose for living. How can we be focused on the outward man when we know that we once were dead and now we live? And, how can we keep this wonderful blessing to ourselves? We are compelled by the very love that has transformed us, to call others to be transformed in Christ!

Lord, this morning, forgive me for the times when I have fallen back into trusting in outward appearances. Help me to focus on the true essence of life. Help me to focus on the matters of the heart. And as I do, compel me to plead with others to be reconciled to God through the transforming power of Christ! Help me to always remember…

It is the heart that matters!

In Jesus Name!

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