10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. — 2 Cor. 9:10, 11 NIV
When it comes to giving and receiving, God turns our worldly mathematics upside down. Worldly increase comes when we add or multiply. But God gives us increase when we subtract by giving and by dividing when we share with others. He is our source and our supplier. We need to empty out our storehouses so He can refill them with fresh seed and food. As Jesus told the rich young ruler when the young man asked Jesus; “what do I still lack?”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. — Matt. 19:20-22 NIV (emphasis added)
God’s supply never runs out. He allows us to be stewards over a portion of His riches fully expecting us to use those for His glory. As we learn to be good stewards over a little, He will give us increase so that our generosity will result in others giving thanks to God.
8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor,so that you through his poverty might become rich. 10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. — 2 Cor. 8:8-11 NIV
God is not impressed by the amount of money that we give. He is impressed by the attitude that we have toward giving into His work. We see this from the story of the widow who gave her mite. A mite is thought to be equal to about one half of one of our pennies. Regardless of what the world thought about it’s worth, because of the attitude and the sacrifice the woman made, Jesus thought it was much more valuable than the gifts of those who gave out of their abundance. God doesn’t need us to return a portion of the money He has allowed us to be stewards over. He wants us to give out of love and a grateful heart. He wants us to give with joy and hilarity because of our relationship with Him. Just as we give gifts of time and money to those around us that we love, we should offer up the best of both to Him. Would we invite a special guest to dinner and give him/her leftovers? We have the most special guest that lives with us all the time. Why do think that He is happy with our leftovers? He gave His life, we must make every effort to give Him the best of what we have simply because we love Him.
12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. — 2 Cor. 8:12
8 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern,what readiness to see justice done.At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. — 2 Cor. 7:8-11 NIV
In his letters to the church at Corinth, Paul had admonished them to take corrective action against those members that were not living a Christian lifestyle They were participating in sexual sins and not showing proper respect when taking communion. He wanted the church to be a shining light in a dark city. Although, he spoke to them firmly, it was because he loved them as his own children and wanted to see them maturing in the faith. When we have erred, we need to accept correction from those who love us and want us to be stronger Christians. If we feel guilty and condemned, we should remember that condemnation comes from satan, not from the Lord. Condemnation is “worldy” sorrow that leads to death. Conviction is “godly” sorrow that leads to repentance and life. When we feel convicted of an error, we ask God for His forgiveness. We all fall down at times, but God is waiting to pick us up and restore us to Himself. It just requires us being honest with ourselves and with Him..
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. — 1 John 1:8-10 NIV
Once we have accepted God’s forgiveness for our sins, we need to forgive ourselves and move on. We must never allow satan to use past sins to condemn us. This only leads to pain and confusion. Rejoice in the freedom that comes with confession and forgiveness and live in the truth of God’s Word.
1 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says,
‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. — 2 Cor. 6:1, 2 NIV
Now is the time! We are not promised the rest of today, much less tomorrow. As we go through our day, let’s take the time to look around.. As we look at each person God puts in our path, we should ask ourself this question: Should I speak to this person about Jesus? If we feel that little nudge from the Holy Spirit, don’t hesitate. Speak! Buts, what ifs, and all those negative thoughts come from the devil. There is no guarantee that they will accept what we are saying, never has been, never will be We are not responsible for the results of our witnessing. It is our duty to be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. There is a guarantee that God’s word will do exactly what it is supposed to do.
10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. — Isaiah 55:10, 11 NIV
We are sent to rescue the perishing. Sometimes that requires talking with them
20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. — James 5:20 NIV
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. — 2 Cor. 5:18-21 NIV
When we accepted Christ as our Savior, we were born again and became new creations clothed in the righteousness of Christ. All of this is a gift from God because He wanted us to be reconciled to Him. He had made us in His image to have fellowship with Him. Sin had broken that relationship. God fixed the relationship by sending His Son as the perfect sacrifice. He no longer sees us as sinners, but as the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Once we are reconciled to Him, we become His ambassadors here on this earth. We are aliens living in a foreign country. As His ambassador, God wants to use us to make His appeal to others. For that to happen, we need to talk to others about our country, Heaven, and about our King, Jesus Christ. That is what ambassadors do. They tell others the good things about their country in the hope that their leaders will gain favor in the eyes of the other peoples. So, as God’s ambassadors, we are to tell His story in the hope that the other people will want to know Him. The BIG difference is that, in this case, each person does have to choose and their are only two choices. We will all soon be leaving this country and there are only two destinations and they are permanent. One is hell and one is Heaven. It is our duty as ambassadors to spend our time and resources in getting people to make the right choice. Today is the day of salvation. Jesus is our example and here, in His own words, is the job description He gave for Himself and for us as ambassadors.
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” — Luke 4:18, 19 NIV
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! — 2 Cor. 5:14-17 NIV
Our human, finite minds cannot fully grasp the height, depth and width of the kind of love that would cause God to send His only Son to die on a cross for our sins. But, when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are allowed a glimpse into the depth of that love. If we are truly convinced of that love, it should be more than enough to compel us to share His love and His story with others. He died for all of us and was raised again for our salvation. If we truly believe this, then we no longer see others through our eyes but through the eyes of Christ. Once, before we accepted Jesus as our Lord, we saw Him as the world sees Him, just a good man and teacher, but when we received the Holy Spirit, we began to see Jesus in a whole new way. Everything and everyone around us looks different because we are or should be looking at those around us just as Jesus sees them. As C S Lewis said: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.” Thus everything has become “new” to us. But, in reality, what has become truly new is us. We are a new creation!
23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. — 1 Peter 1:23 NIV
So, let us turn from our old, wicked ways and walk in the newness of life led by the Holy Spirit!
5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. — 2 Cor. 5:5-9 NIV
The ultimate goal for a Christian is to live a lifestyle that is pleasing to God. This doesn’t mean that all of us have to be involved in the traditional full time ministries. It does mean that God expects us to use the abilities and the resources He has placed under our control to glorify Him. It means that whatever position we are in that God has made us a steward over that part of His world and His business. We are accountable to Him for every second and every cent we spend. The time and the money are gifts from our Father and He expects us to use them to glorify Him and further His Kingdom. Besides the purchases of those things necessary for living, we need to be sure that the why, when and where we spend time and money brings glory to Him. As we spend more time with just us and God meditating on His Word, we find that our wants and desires begin to change. As we focus on Jesus, the worldly things become less important and pleasing Him becomes our heart’s desire. God has a plan and a purpose for each of us. We don’t need to know the whole plan, we just need to walk in faith trusting Him. We can take the next step knowing that the path leads to an eternity with Him.
3. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. — Proverbs 16:3 NIV
17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands. — Psalm 90:17 NIV
1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. — 2 Cor. 5:1-4 NIV
This is the hope that we have. One day, all that is dead and dying will be done away with These mortal bodies will be left behind for immortal images. These perishing, fleshly bodies will be exchanged for the image of God. In the meantime, there are burdens to bear and temptations to overcome. Since the day Adam and Eve committed the original sin, we have been dying. Not only us, but everything that God had created to last forever was now infected with the deadly disease of sin. All of creation would groan under the burden anxiously awaiting a Savior. When Jesus was resurrected from the grave, the spiritual restoration could begin. We, who have accepted Jesus as our Savior, are being restored and sanctified daily. Still, we groan with all of creation awaiting the full restoration. We should spend that time rejoicing, singing His praises and telling His story to a lost and dying world. We are being transformed from glory to glory to glory to victory. We are to be watchmen on the wall alerting those around us to the dangers they face. Look up and shout! Jesus is coming and all this death will be swallowed up by life!
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” — 1 Cor. 15:51-55 NIV
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — 2 Cor. 4:16-18 NIV
Every day our natural, physical bodies are responding to the passing of time. God designed the human body to age chronologically, but until sin came into the world, the bodies did not “age”. The wasting away of our natural bodies is a result of sin. We see these outward changes and sometimes we are tempted to lose heart. But inside these old tents of clay is the real us, the us that is being renewed day by day. As we travel through our journeys here on earth, we have problems and troubles. These things are temporary and fleeting. They are as nothing compared to the eternal glory that awaits us. We must train ourselves to focus on the unseen, eternal Spiritual things. If we allow our minds to focus on the things and people around us, we will be filled with doubts and fears. When we focus on things eternal and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, we can live abundant, joy-filled lives. That is what God wants us to do. As humans, we must come to the conclusion that “we cannot”, but we can allow God to do all things through us. To do that, we need to fill our minds with bible verses that encourage us and sing songs of praise all day long. Listen to the Holy Spirit and we will be encouraged and renewed minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Then we can live in peace.
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. — John 14:26, 27 NIV
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.– 2 Cor. 4:13-15 NIV
“I believed; therefore I have spoken.” is a reference to Psalm 116 (KJV). The Psalmist is referencing a time when God had delivered him from death either physically and/or spiritually. Paul says that we who have this same spirit of faith can have confidence, believe and therefore speak of the saving grace of Jesus, our Savior and Lord. We know that the same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead has already raised us from spiritual death. Since we know this, we can be confident of the hope we have that one day He will raise us from the dead physically. We will die as mortals and be raised as immortals clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. If we were not changed into His image, we would not be able to stand before God. This knowledge of God’s amazing grace and our hope for the future should cause us to continually give thanks and explode with joy and praise that overflows to the glory of God. Through this power, we can be over-comers and participants in the abundant life with which God wants to bless us. Our rejoicing will bring more and more people to the Kingdom!
33 I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord. — Psalm 104: 33, 34 NIV
Bless the Lord, O my soul! — Psalm 104:1