“God Is Making His Appeal Through Us…”

20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” — 2 Cor. 5:20 NLT

2 Cor. 5:18-21 NLT

What is an ambassador?  Dictionary.com defines ambassador as a diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative’.   Using that definition, we are citizens of heaven placed here on earth to represent Heaven and our King, Jesus Christ.  If we represent someone, we should strive to imitate that person and to show those around us what that person is like.  We also represent the country we are from and we want to paint a beautiful word picture of what life is like in our home country.  We certainly want to issue everyone an invitation to come and be with us in our country.  There are four words in this definition that caught my eye.  Those four words are “of the highest rank”.  That doesn’t leave much wiggle room for us to say that we can’t or that we don’t have the authority to do this or that.  What we are is what they will think our leader and our country is like.  Does our lifestyle make people want to know more about Jesus and an eternity in heaven or does it leave them thinking something else?

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“Pray For Those Who Persecute You”

44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! — Matt.5:44 NLT

Matt. 5:43-48 NLT

Jesus is the difference-maker.  Not just the fact that He is the only person ever resurrected to eternal life but in the way we think and live.  In every aspect of life, His view was diametrically opposed to the views of the world and of the flesh.  The law said to love your neighbor and hate your enemy. Jesus said to not only love our enemies but to show that love by praying for them.  How often do we fervently pray for our families, friends and neighbors, much less our enemies?  But I don’t have any enemies, you say. Even here, Jesus has a different view.  If the world and those that hold worldly views are not our enemies, then they are our friends and that makes us an enemy of God.  James 4: 4-7 NLT  The Holy Spirit that God has placed inside us does not agree with sin in any way.  Those around us that would tempt us to disobey God are our Spiritual enemies.  If we can’t resist the temptations they offer, they will lead us into destruction, That sounds like an enemy to me.  We must pray for them fervently and continuously and for ourselves to have the Spiritual strength to resist the devil, humble ourselves before God and accept His definition of sin and the enemy.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“For the Lord is the Spirit…”

17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. — 2 Cor. 3:17 NLT

2 Cor. 3:16-18 NLT

Before we accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we lived in spiritual bondage and darkness.  Blinded by a veil of unbelief, we lived a lifestyle controlled by our fleshly desires.  We thought we had the freedom to make the decisions for our lives when, in fact, we were being controlled by lusts, greed, emotions and every evil thing.  We did not see those things as evil because we were spiritually blind.  They were veiled by our own ignorance and the subtleties of the devil.  Our daily lives were consumed by the great “I” , it was all about us.  We spent our time and resources chasing after temporary pleasures and desperately seeking the next “high”.  Those “highs’ could be the next drink, pill, sexual act or something as seemingly innocent as a shopping trip or a sports event.  Whatever it took to give us that temporary pleasure, we did and thought we were happy.  It was not until the Holy Spirit called us and opened our eyes to see the fallacy of short-term pleasures that we realized we needed and wanted something different.  The Holy Spirit gave us the freedom to choose a different way of life and freed us from the bondage of “self”.  He doesn’t ask us to change ourselves, He asks us for permission to allow Him to change us.  It is then and only then, that we realize how badly we were blinded and bound.  With the Spirit comes freedom.  Freedom to become everything God has planned for us.  Lead on, Holy Spirit, Lead on.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“God Is Our Merciful Father…”

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. — 2 Cor. 1:3 NLT

2 Cor 1:3-7 NLT

God, in His great love for us, wants to relieve us of all of our grief and distress.  It is not His desire that we should suffer.  No parent wants to see his or her child suffer.  We want to reach out and comfort our children even when they may have caused their discomfort by a bad decision that they made.  Love says help them, but Godly compassion says that there are times when they and we must endure those times of distress and grief so that we learn not to repeat our mistakes.  As parents, we want to deliver our kids from the storm.  The lesson that we need to learn and that we need to teach our children is that God doesn’t always need to deliver us from the storm, He is able to comfort us in the storm.  Rough seas may come and destructive winds may blow but nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  When God doesn’t immediately deliver us from the storm we must seek His comfort in the storm.  Then we will be able to pass that comfort, peace and joy on to those around us.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“…Fulfilled In Christ…”

20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. — 2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT

2 Cor. 1:19-22 NLT

God  is omniscient which means He is an all-knowing God, He is never surprised by anything that is said or done by any of His creations.  He is omnipotent which means He is all-powerful and thus He has the ability to fulfill every promise He has ever made.  He was not surprised when Adam and Eve fell to satan’s delusions in the Garden of Eden.  He already had a plan in place to redeem fallen man.  1 Peter 1:18-20 NLT  Every promise God ever made was fulfilled when He resurrected Jesus from the grave. There is not one instance in the Bible where God has not fulfilled exactly what He said He would do.  He fulfills them at a set time known only to Him. When “the set time” or “the fullness of time” had come, He sent His Son to die on a cross for our sins.  When the time had come, He revealed His plan to us and instructed us to tell the whole world about that plan.  He is not surprised when we fail Him in this plan.  He stands ready to forgive us each time we fail Him because that is one of His promises to us as well.  The Bible is complete, there will be no new Scriptures, but our understanding of those Scriptures is not complete.  Hidden in those Scriptures are mysteries that will be revealed and fulfilled in His timing.

1 Cor. 13:12-13 NLT  

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“As Long As I Live, …”

4 I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. — Psalm 63:4 NLT

Psalm 63:1-8 NLT

God made each of us a little different from everyone else.  These differences are not just physical, they continue through every part of us.  Each of us has a different learning capacity and we react to things and situations differently.  Some of us are much more vocal and enthusiastic in expressing our joy and excitement.  Some of us see great things happen and we are awestruck and quiet in our observations while others may scream loudly or talk unceasingly trying to describe or explain what is happening.  Praising God is necessary for Christians whether we do it quietly or with loud exclamations of joy and praise.  We can become so overpowered by the presence of God that we fall to our knees and just weep.  God understands it all and accepts it graciously.  He made us different so that our praise to Him would be like listening to an orchestra play a great masterpiece.  While that may be just noise to some people, others are thrilled and uplifted.  So, however we choose to do it,  let’s just praise God continually for all of His love, goodness, mercy and grace. 

Psalm 150 NKJV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“…Unless You Turn From Your Sins…”

3 Then he said,“I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. — Matt. 18:3 NLT

Matt. 18:1-6 NLT

When some hear this passage, they think of the innocence of a little child who has not yet learned the difference between right and wrong.  Perhaps that’s what Jesus was referring to but I am not so sure.  I think in the context of His remark about humility, He may very well have been referring to something deeper than that.  After all, small children who truly do not know the difference in right and wrong would not need forgiveness, would they?  No, I believe Jesus is referring to us becoming as dependent on Him for everything we need as a small child is dependent on his/her parents for everything they need to survive.  We have to come to Jesus in such humbleness and humility because we realize that we can do nothing about our situation. We are lost and will stay lost without his mercy and grace. But I believe He is reaching even deeper than that. We must humble ourselves to the point that we really and truly understand that we can do nothing in any situation without Him.  Just like a little child comes to us and says “Daddy, tie my shoe strings because I can’t”,  so must we humble ourselves before our Daddy and confess that we can’t.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“Those Who Refresh Others…”

25 The generous will prosper;  those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. — Proverbs 11:25 NLT

Proverbs 11:25-31 NLT

From the Old Testament to the New Testament, we are encouraged (if not commanded) to help those around us who are in need.  In the Old Testament, the harvesters of the crops were to leave any of the grain that was dropped for the poor and needy.  They were also instructed not to glean the corners of the fields. They were also supposed to leave clusters of the fruit on the vine for the poor to pick.  In the New Testament, Jesus tells us that those who help the poor and needy, visit the sick and in prison in His Name will be blessed.  If a needy person comes to our door and asks for food and we have food in the house, we are never to send that person away hungry.  Whatever we give up for Jesus and the sake of the Gospel brings a hundredfold blessing here on earth and eternal life in the age to come. It is truly the win-win situation of all times.

Mark 10:29-30 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“He Is the First of a Great Harvest…”

20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. — 1 Cor. 15:20 NLT

1 Cor. 15:12 -20 NLT

In this passage of Scripture, we find the reason that Christianity is different from all religions and philosophies of life.  Every religion had a leader that lived and died.  Most have books of the good works and good lives they lived here on earth.  Some of the leaders claim to have had great visions and were given new scriptures to write.  Some believe in life beyond the grave, some don’t.  But Christianity is the only one that claims to have a risen Savior who is still alive today.  That claim is the difference-maker setting Christianity alone as the only one where we can have a daily relationship with our leader, our God, our Lord and our risen Savior. Christianity is the only belief system that allows you to be able to talk with the Author any time you want to.  Though Jesus Himself never physically wrote any of the books of the Bible, He is the Spirit that breathed every word into existence.  We must be kind and show love to those of other faiths and belief systems.  But when it comes to the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we stand alone and we must stand firm at all times in all situations. 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“…And Begin to Live…”

6  Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live;  learn to use good judgment.” — Proverbs 9:6 NLT

Proverbs 9:1-6 NLT

The Hebrew word (mashal) that is interpreted as proverb comes from a root word that means “to be like” or a parable.  The book of Proverbs is a collection of thoughts or sayings teaching us what we should be like.  The Proverbs and there are many proverbs in the Bible that are outside of the Book of Proverbs show us aspects of our lives and how we should look at them and how we should respond to them.  In other words, Proverbs gives us a picture of the lifestyle of a Christian versus a non-Christian by contrasting how we respond to situations.  Proverbs teaches us to respect wisdom and to seek wisdom for every decision we make.  As in the passage we are looking at today, we are invited to partake of God’s wisdom as we would of food and drink.  We need to sit with Jesus and ask Him for Godly wisdom before we make our decisions.  Not just the decisions that we would consider as major, life-changing decisions but all of our decisions because God is concerned with the smallest things in our lives.  Whether we turn left or right at the next intersection (be it on the physical highway or the Spiritual highway) could be the difference in whether we make it home safely or not.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous