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Thinking Eternally, Living Fearlessly Part 6

12 Mar

The light comes out in our words.

We, having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written: “I believed and therefore have I spoken” — we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise us up also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that, through the thanksgiving of many, the abundant grace might redound to the glory of God. 2 Cor. 4:13-15 KJ21

We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, “I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise! 2 Cor. 4:13-15 MSG

I like the boisterousness of the Message version of these verses.  We’re not keeping this quiet, not on our lives!

If we die to ourselves and stop being egocentric we will be able to have an attitude of faith.  We will be able to walk by faith and not by sight.  (2 Cor. 5:7)  Faith is being available to God’s faithfulness.  Having faith that 1) We have the treasure of Jesus Christ in these earthen vessels, 2) That He is with us in times of trouble, and 3) Dying to ourselves is the key to thinking eternally, we can shout out, “I believed it, so I said it.”

Verse 15 says that all things are for our sakes.  What does this mean?

  1. All of these problems and pressures we’ve looked at in 2 Cor. 4:8,9 will work change in us if we allow them to.  The enemy sends problems to squash us like grapes and God works them for good in our lives. (Rom. 8:28)
  2. The grace of God spreads to more people through our problems.  As we experience problems, believe in Him, and speak of our belief, the light comes out in our words and God’s grace is spread to others.

Are you willing to look at problems as opportunities–both for you and for those in your life?

Eternal thinking leads to peace.

 

Thinking Eternally, Living Fearlessly Part 4

8 Mar

We do not lose hope.

We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. 2 Cor. 4:8,9

One mistake we can make when we receive Jesus is thinking that having Jesus in our hearts is a guarantee of a trouble-free life.  We forget that we have an enemy.  We forget that we’re in a war.

  • To be pressured means to be pressed like a grape or forced into a tight place.  God does not do this.  He leads us into wide-open spaces.
  • To be perplexed means to to be in doubt, to not to know which way to turn, to be at a loss with one’s self, to not to know how to decide or what to do.  We’ve all been there, haven’t we?  I talked to a Christian woman at school yesterday who just found out that her husband has been having affairs for 11 years.  “I don’t know what to do,” she cried, “I just keep reading the Psalms.”  God does not cause us to be perplexed.  He gives us the ability to think clearly.  BUT WE DO NOT LOSE HOPE.  Because Jesus Christ is inside us and he is powerful beyond measure.  I remember speaking to a niece who was struggling with depression.  She went to the doctor and was given a checklist to fill out.  She finally reached a question that said, “Have you lost hope?”  She put the checklist down and waited for the doctor to return.  She told him, “My belief system does not allow me to lose hope.  However, I am having a difficult time motivating myself to do anything.  I do need help.”
  • To be persecuted means to be harassed, troubled, or mistreated.  God is not the source.  God is with us.
  • To be cast down means to be thrown down to the ground.  God does not do this.  He lifts us up in His everlasting arms.  We are not ruined.

In the last devotional, we looked at the power of God inside these earthen vessels.  Our earthen vessels experience trouble.  When the enemy tries to steer us into a narrow place we need to think with God.  When we feel trapped we can make ridiculously stupid decisions.  We need to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

Thinking eternally brings peace.

Thinking Eternally, Living Fearlessly Part 3

6 Mar

We are like these flowers: here today and gone tomorrow.

Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power  may be from God and not from us. 2 Cor. 4:7 HCSB

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. 2 Cor. 4:7 MSG

Two days ago, we began looking at 2 Cor. 4:7.  Let’s camp here a little bit today.  We carry around the precious message of Jesus Christ in the unadorned ordinariness of our daily lives.  This clay jar is fragile.  1 Peter 3:7 refers to us as the weaker vessel.  We are the most fragile of the fragile.  The fragility of this body is obvious to all.  In 2 Timothy 4:6, Paul refers to his death as a departure.  One meaning of that is to take down ones tent and move on.  When we take down our tents we will receive glorified bodies and live in the presence of God forever.

Now an earthen jar is useful, but not terribly glamorous.  That is so the power of God can be seen.  This power, huuperbole, the pre-eminence of this power is inside of us and goes beyond what we can imagine.  As God’s vessel, we bring the message, but it is God who humbles the proud, leads the guilty to have hope in him, and converts the heart!

This CONVERSION = REVOLUTION.  It is the biggest miracle of all.

So God uses us, lives are changed through His nuclear power, and then we pick up our tent and move on:  to life everlasting in the presence of Jesus.

Thinking eternally brings peace.

 

Thinking Eternally, Living Fearlessly Part 2

4 Mar

More beautiful and bright!

Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power  may be from God and not from us. 2 Cor. 4:7 HCSB

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. 2 Cor. 4:7 MSG

In part 1 of  Thinking Eternally, Living Fearlessly we looked at how our lives brighter and more beautiful as the light of God, in the person of Jesus Christ, and Paul speaks here of missing the brightness because of the ordinariness of our unadorned, every day lives.  I want to say to you today that you probably don’t see the brightness and beauty of your own life.  But we do.  You can’t see the beauty in your own life because you’re caught up in the day-to-dayness of caring for toddlers, doing the wash, trying to get the bills paid, or doing your homework.  You, better than anyone else, know the places where your flesh reacts.  You know the thoughts you just had about your boss; you know that you caved in to the temptation of gossip or grumbling yesterday.  And because you know yourself, you can’t see yourself.  You can’t see the eternal work that God is doing in you.

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. Phil. 1:6 Amp.

God has begun a good work in you and is continuing in that good work.  That means that you are becoming more of a finished product all the time.  You are more beautiful.  You do shine brighter.  We can see it.  We, your loving sisters and brothers in Christ.

Thinking eternally brings peace.

Thinking Eternally, Living Fearlessly Part 1

2 Mar

The Light shines out of the darkness

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness”  —He has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge  of God’s glory  in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 HCSB

The Greek online Bible lexicon says that God is light because light has an extremely delicate, subtle, pure, brilliant quality.  Light also refers to truth and the knowledge and understanding of the truth.   Jesus is truth and Jesus is light. The most life-changing experience it is possible to have is to receive the light of Jesus Christ in our hearts.  We receive it initially when we are saved and receive more and more light in our lives as we grow in our walk with Jesus.  As we gaze into His face and into His Word, we become more like Him.  It’s easy to study the Bible and forget that we are hearing the words of Jesus: our lover, brother, friend.  We CAN see Him face-to-face, albeit blurrily.

Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.  2 Corinthians 3:16 MSG

Now, on this earth, we can become more and more like Him–brighter and more beautiful–as we gaze upon His face.  Learning to think eternally means that we can look forward to our blurry knowledge of Christ become a perfect knowledge of Him:

For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [ by God].  1 Corinthians 13:12

The first time the word know is used in this verse it is the same word that refers to the intimacy of sexual union between a woman and a man.  We can grow to know Jesus in intimacy and oneness.  However, we can know someone sexually and still not know their deepest fears or desires.  The second time it is used is a bigger word which means to recognize and to know thoroughly and accurately.  ALL of our misconceptions about Jesus will disappear when we see Him.  I have to tell you, this thrills me beyond measure.  Thinking eternally brings peace.

Doug’s Birthday

5 Feb

A tired and nervous new mommy and Doug.

Today is my son’s birthday which, of course, takes me back to the first time I saw him, the first time I held him, and the love that instantly began to flow through me toward him.

I’m thinking today about the hopes and dreams we have for our children.  And the fears we have for them.  I remember talking with my mother-in-law about this during a particularly tumultuous time during my sons’ teenage years.  I asked her how she managed her fear, because she has 17 children.  She looked at me with what I swear was confusion on her face and said, “Sue, I gave them to God when they were born.  Why would I be afraid?”

For her it was a done deal.  For me?  I keep giving and taking and giving and taking.  What about you?

When I get really afraid
I come to you in trust.
I’m proud to praise God;
fearless now, I trust in God.
What can mere mortals do?

Psalm 56:3,4 The Message

What Anxiety Does

14 Jan

Here’s a few highlights from Chuck Swindoll’s book, Getting Through the Tough Stuff, which I found interesting.

  1. Anxiety highlights the human viewpoint and strangles the divine, so we become fearful.
  2. Anxiety chokes our ability to distinguish the incidental from the essential and get distracted.
  3. Anxiety siphons our joy and makes us judgmental rather than accepting of others, so we become negative.

What I found particularly interesting about this is how quickly we can move from one state to the other.  Thinking about point #2, I reflected upon an incident that happened last month.  I’d had this wonderful day studying and preparing for the Ladies’ Bible study that night.  I’d reviewed and strengthened my notes, baked peanut butter cookies, and printed out a fill-in the blank outline of my notes for the women in the study.  I felt gooooooood!

As I gathered up my things I realized I’d misplaced my notes and the outlines.  In a flicker of an eyelash I rocketed from peace-filled to crazy-tense and anxiety-filled.  I yelled at Mike to help me find them.  Stormed around.  Hollered when the printer jammed when I decided to just print new copies.  And finally thought to pray.  (Oh mighty woman of God…not.)  Then I walked downstairs and found where I had closed them in the cookbook.  Sheepishly, I joined Mike in the taxi.  When will I learn to pray first (Remember the other day?  Worry not; pray instead) instead of react first and pray later??

Phil. 4:4-7 Revisited

12 Jan

 4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Be careful for nothing!  We want to be free of cares and not full of cares.  I’m carefree as a _____________.  How would you fill in the blank?  Are you carefree as a barn swallow or carefree as a man on his way to debtor’s prison??  When we deal with the topic of worry, we need to revisit Phil. 4:4-7 often.

Chuck Swindoll writes, in his book, Getting Through the Tough Stuff:  Immediately we discover a four-word command that could be rendered, literally, “Stop worrying about anything!”  The word translated “anxious” comes from the Greek verb merimnao, meaning “to be divided or distracted.”  In Latin the same word is translated anxius, which carries the added nuance of choking or strangling.  The word also appears in German as wurgen, from which we derive our English word worry.  The tough stuff of anxiety threatens to strangle the life out of us, leaving us asphyxiated by fear and gasping for hope.

These worries are like some sort of weed choking the life out of us and the only instrument that is effective to cut these weeds away is the Word of God.  God can carry away our strangling worries, but we need to give them to Him.  Thus:  Worry not; pray instead.

Selah

11 Jan

The Lord our God delights in us!

Fear thou not:  The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.  Zephaniah 3:16b, 17

These are some of the results of our salvation:

God will save:  1b1) to save, deliver       1b2) to save from moral troubles       1b3) to give victory to

God will rejoice over us with joy.

God will rest in His love.

God will joy over us with singing.

Receive His song, His love, His rejoicing over you today!

Carefree in His Care

8 Jan

Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.  Luke 12:24 Msg.

Today Mike and I went to the pool at my school and as we swam swallows dipped into the pool for drink.  It was delightful.  They swooped down like bullets and grabbed sips on the fly.  They were carefree in the care of God.

Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.  1 Peter 5:7 Msg.

The King James version of 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”   We should throw our cares–our anxieties and distractions–on Him, our God who is powerful enough to DO something about them.  Instead, we’re often like little kids who insist on being “all grown up” and carrying our own burdens rather than giving them to the Burden-bearer.

Do you have any to cast His way today?