Thursday, September 29, 2016

Reconciliation

 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that 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.  (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

Thoughts: God has made us new creatures- with a different way of looking at others- because He has reconciled us. God brings us to Himself and then He asks us to bring others to Him too.  Christ pulls us to the Father- He is the mediator uniting God and humans.  Our message should be that we are called to come back to Christ.  Reconciliation is a great descriptive word.  We are away from God- we have wandered away. He calls us back. We have a broken relationship with Him and God Himself comes to scoop us up and bring us back.  

Prayer: Lord, reconcile me to yourself and I will proclaim your message of reconciliation. 


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

New Creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
(2 Corinthians 5:17)


Thoughts: This is one of the seminal verses in the New Testament.  There is so much here.
First it says that it is possible for anyone to be in Christ.  No matter what you have or don't; how much you know, or don't; no matter who you are or where you are from; or even what how bad or good you have been in the past.  Anyone can come.
    But we come to be "In Christ." This is a mystical but important union.  We are adopted "into" His family.  We are a part of His body- part of who He is, and He is part of who we are.  But this oneness is contingent on our believing in Him- following Him. Anyone is welcome- but we must be one with Him not only in faith but also on His same path.  Anyone should not say they are one with Christ but then not even try to follow in His way.
      But once you are truly in Christ everything is different- it is new.  It is like, as Jesus said (John 3), we are born again.  The old way of life- the old way of thinking and looking at things is gone.  No longer do we live for ourselves or live for some temporary cause.  There is a new heaven and a new earth in our eyes.  We look at things with new glasses.  A person in the dark may not see well-but when they put on night vision goggles they see everything.  A person who has faith sees people as valuable; life as purposeful; work as a way to glorify God; the words we say and deeds we do as meaningful.  Anyone who is in Christ can have everything new. 


Prayer: Lord, thank you that you invite even me to this new way of life.  Thank you for giving me another chance- a new lease on life.   

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Seeing Others with New Eyes

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. (2 Corinthians 5:16)


Thoughts: When we see Christ as more than just an ordinary man- when we believe in Him (with a capital "H") it changes us.  It changes the way we look at life- at the world- and at other people.  Any human is someone made by God, loved by God, and potentially a child redeemed by God.  We cannot be indifferent to others who may be our brothers and sisters.  People are not just another being or another coagulation of atoms.  People are precious to God and should be precious to us.  He values them and we should too.
     This is missing among some.  It is not an accident that the greatest inhumane acts the dehumanize others are done by the atheistic communist regimes.  Millions were killed in the Gulags of the old atheistic Soviet Union; or the old People's Republic of China during Mao's Cultural Revolution; or in Pol Pot's killing fields in Cambodia.   Such things seem so extreme.  Yet when life is not valued as having eternal meaning, others may get in the way of our ideal- and they can be eliminated like dust is swept from the kitchen.  Modern atheists forget this.  While we may build artificial temporary reasons to value others- love and human beings are deeply devalued when we only see them from a worldly point of view.  On the other hand, if we see them as those who God loves and we ought to love- there is value there.   Look around you at the crowds.  See them as people who need to realize the love of God.  


Prayer: Lord, open my eyes so that I may see others as you see them.    


Monday, September 26, 2016

Christ's Love Compels Us

For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 2 Corinthians 5:14

Thoughts: Christ's love compels us.  We treat people differently because Christ's love compels us. Paul would leave Jerusalem compelled by Christ's love.  Christ's death applies to all human beings. So all need to know of the love of Christ. 

Prayer: Lord, let me feel the force of your love.  Let your love compel and propel me to reach out to others for you.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Care of What Others Think

12We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.  (2 Corinthians 5:12-13)

Thoughts: Paul didn't care what people thought of him.  Once General Booth, the founder of the Salvation army, toward Rudyard Kipling, "If I thought I could win one more person by standing on my head and banging a tamborine with my feet, I would learn to do it."   Often the people who are excited about life are seen as unusual or crazy.  The ones who are apathetic about life are the norm.  But Paul had a reason to live  We too, should not care what people think but seek to please God.  When we care to be popular to a misguided, temporary and dying world, we are allowing ourselves to be sucked into their whirlpool of nothingness.  But if we follow God- amazing things happen, 

Prayer: Lord, help me to live my life for you and for no one else.  

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Advantages of Fearing God

11Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.  (2 Corinthians 5:11)

Thoughts: Paul had just talked about standing before the judgment seat of Christ, and he indicates he understands what it is to fear God.  To respect the judgment seat meas that we are held accountable for what we do, what we believe, and who we are.  To fear God is not such a terrible thing.  In fact, it means that there is ultimate meaning to what we do.  It is not that whatever you do doesn't really matter.  God holds us accountable.  It also means when others hurt us, we can leave revenge in God's hands.  Because Paul know this, he tries to persuade others.  He wants them to have meaning and hope.  

Prayer: Lord, let me grow in fear and respect for you. Let this motivate me to persuade others to listen to you and follow you. 

Judgement seat- or Bema in Corinth.
Paul stood before this.
The judgement seat in the synagogue was where the Torah was read.



Friday, September 23, 2016

Confidence in Life and Death

8We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:8-10)

Thoughts:  Paul is confident and hopeful.  He believes he will win either way- by dying or living.  Death does not take our confidence and hope away.  But what we want to do is to always please Him- whether we are alive or in heaven.  The idea of judgment is not a bad thing for Paul.  He knows the judge and he knows he not only will not be condemned but he expects and award.  The judgement seat was not just for condemnation- or even for a declaration of innocence or forgiveness- but rather an award.  Paul views the judgment seat like the podium for Olympic medals- a place to go to be honored and rewarded.  Paul has confidence, though he was very aware of his past sins against Stephen and others.  He has more confidence in knowing Christ, his cross, and his resurreciton.  

Prayer: Lord, let me find my confidence in you in life or in death.