Tuesday, November 8, 2011, 09:27 AM[ b]Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts . 2 Corinthians 3:3
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
In the last chapter the apostle Paul referred to our lives as a sweet-smelling perfume that wafts up to God, but also reminds people of either life or death depending on their standing with God. In this chapter he draws another powerful analogy – this time referring to our lives as “letters” written by God’s spirit, and testifying to God’s power to effect change within us.
I wonder what type of letter I’m communicating to my family and the world around me? I wonder if people are reading of me the values that I say I profess? I wonder if when people read my life – do they see Jesus, or do they just see me? I wonder if the letter my life is writing will have any effect on those whom God chooses to cross my path today?
This is what I want my “life letter” to communicate. I want people to know that I love God by the ways that I love other people. I want people to see/read that I’m not first and foremost as interested in self-preservation as I am in self-giving. I want people to read of me that there is more joy in this life than there is sadness and hardship. I want people to know I love my wife and children more than I love my own life. I want people to know that I care about their legitimate needs – and feel humbled that God has called and allowed me to spend my life addressing and attempting to meet at least some of those needs. I want people to read of my life that I enjoy nice things – but that I also value deeply my human need to give stuff away – including my money. I want people to read of me that I enjoy having fun. I want people to realize that I don’t take myself very seriously, and that I take God/Jesus/Holy Spirit quite seriously. I want people to read of me that being an authentic follower of Jesus is the best way to live! I want people to be able to read in my life letter that God is faithful even when I’m not.
“God – I’ve asked for a lot to be written on my heart and in/through my life – please help me become the letter you are writing on my soul.”
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Monday, November 7, 2011, 10:34 AMNov. 7th, 2011
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 2 Corinthians 2:15-16
In this passage Paul says that the life fragrance of those who follow Jesus Christ rises up to God and actually smells like Jesus. Since Jesus was already dead, Paul is obviously speaking metaphorically, and if so – then this verse applies to us as much as it did to Paul and the other believers. What he is saying is that for those who follow Christ – our lives must reflect, even “smell” like Jesus.
My mom wears the same perfume all the time, has for years. I probably have smelled it on others, but whenever I do, I am always reminded of my mom. There have been occasions when I’ve smelled her perfume even before I’ve seen her enter a room. That is a good thing. Do our lives smell like Jesus? When people (metaphorically) smell us, do they think – “Oh, there goes or here comes a follower of Jesus? I hope so?
Exactly what does a follower of Jesus smell like? I’m not sure, but Paul goes on some in this passage to remind us that our “smell” is actually determined by the spiritual condition of those doing the smelling; those with whom we come into contact. For people who do not know Jesus, the fragrance of our “being saved” lives – reminds them of their own eternal destiny without Jesus – and that smells a lot like death! For people who share our eternal destiny in heaven with Jesus – the smell of our lives reflects life! I’m not sure what life smells like – but I’ve been around dead things enough to know what that smells like – and I don’t like it.
I just hope (pray) today that my life might smell like Jesus. I hope that I might smell like life – not death! I want how I live to be a positive witness for Jesus, and I want people who know Jesus to welcome my familiar fragrance, as I do theirs. I want those who don’t yet know Jesus to see and smell from my life, that repugnant reminder of death and separation from God that awaits those who choose to reject God’s good life!
The more time I spend with my mom, the more and longer her perfume lingers in my nostrils and memory. The more time I spend with Jesus, the more (I hope and pray) I smell like Him. I want to stink like life today!
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Thursday, November 3, 2011, 09:25 AMNov. 3rd, 2011
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! 2 Corinthians 1:6
We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9[/b ]
There is so much truth to be mined from these 3 verses. I tried to move on to chapter two, but couldn’t ignore how these verses were speaking to my heart today. We don’t often think about all our troubles being our comfort and salvation. Most often we think of our troubles as pains in the butt! Most often we think of our troubles as having either some demonic source, or at least some negatively inspired purpose to weigh us down, make us miserable, or just in general upset the positive course we have chosen for our lives. Here, Paul reminds us that our troubles do weigh us down…but they are for our comfort and salvation. While exploring how that could possibly be, I was drawn down the page to verses 8-9.
After a poignant recital of his current condition – he states the fact I so much need to hear today: but as a result (of being weighed down with our troubles, even to the point of death) we STOPPED relying on ourselves, and learned to rely ONLY on God. At the surface I am comforted to know that my struggles and troubles pale in comparison to what Paul and his entourage were going through. As most of us look around, our troubles are most often of our own making, and are certainly not always life threatening – many times – not even all that significant. At a deeper level, here is what smacked me today: Why in the ^%%$# do I think it is up to me to deal with all the troubles that weigh me down? Why do we think it is solely up to us to “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps”. (Which anyone who’s ever been sucked into the mud of a pig pen knows is literally impossible!) Why do we think God has left us to our own designs to figure out all the complexities and troubles of life?
Might we be better off dealing with our troubles by taking a page from Paul – and STOP relying on ourselves and learn to rely ONLY on God. I think that most of us (or at least me – most of the time) think there has to be some 50/50 with God – God must expect us to “do something” not just sit there – right? Maybe not. Maybe God wants us to STOP thinking it is up to us to fix all our troubles. Maybe God wants us to STOP thinking we can create this perfect life by our own designs, with our own hard work, with our ingenious minds. Maybe God wants us to STOP the self-deluded nonsense that thinks we can do any stupid thing to make our lives better – and START relying ONLY on God! Imagine that.
Imagine if a new reliance on God might help us make better choices to get us out of debt, so we can give more? Imagine if a new reliance on God might help us give more faithfully – even in the midst of our debt? Again, WE think WE have to be totally debt free to give? That sounds like some thinking we need to STOP, and some new RELYING we need to start! Imagine if a new reliance on God might help us be honest with the spouse we’ve ignored or offended, and lead to a better, deeper, more holy marriage? Imagine if a new reliance on God might help us come to see that most of the troubles we have are of our own making – and even through those, God wants to comfort and save us? Can you imagine that? Imagine a new reliance on God – that somehow converts the troubles of our lives that so often weigh us down; and brings us comfort and salvation from them – by creating in us a willingness to stop relying on ourselves – and start relying ONLY on God. That’s what it says – read it again.
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011, 09:31 AMNov. 2nd, 2011
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others . 2 Corinthians 1:3
I am in the middle of preaching a series titled: “Why – Understanding God’s Will.” This week I’m discussing the subject of Human Suffering. I know there are people in this world who are really suffering. I am also of the opinion that far too many folks in this part of the world (USA) have been sub-consciously infected with a “victim” mentality; that leads some to interpret their circumstances as “suffering”. (Maybe I’m critical of this perception because of spending 6 weeks listening to people’s excuses for why they don’t want to give money to our current building campaign.) As I said, I know that there are people who actually suffer – but many just think they are.
I’m not the judge, and don’t get to determine what qualifies as suffering – but I want to get to this scripture. It affirms what I have said/believed most of my more adult life – God never wastes a hurt. If we have been hurt in some way in the living of life – and can figure out how to survive: (but as a result we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God. Verse 9) then I believe God will use that hurt to help us identify with others suffering similar circumstances or situations. I know that my path in life has been interspersed with people who need help figuring out some things that I have experienced. Pain is not the only good teacher in this life – but it can be a good one! If you have been hurt in some appreciable way – and have learned how to survive and live beyond that pain; then please be on the lookout for folks God will bring into your life TODAY – who may need to learn how you did that.
I would like to translate this verse this way: God does not comfort us to make us comfortable – but to make us comforters. We have a significant problem with this reality in many places in our world today – but probably none more glaring and damming than in the church. Many modern expressions of church have devolved into nothing more than “make me feel good clubs.” I know our world outside the church is infected with a consumerist mentality that favors personal preference as the ultimate value – but I am troubled by how much that same mentality has infected the church. If people aren’t “made comfortable” by singing the right songs, or from preaching in the right clerical garb, or by being spoon fed some palatable, innocuous, “milk-toast”; they bolt for the door and shout this excuse as they proudly leave: “Well, it’s just not meeting my needs”. Since when did this ever become about making us comfortable?
Ok, I’m venting a bit now, so let me get back to the point and conclude. If you are legitimately suffering right now – know that God suffers with you, God did not cause you to suffer, and by relying on God…you can learn to live above the suffering with which you are afflicted. And then, please don’t be surprised when God brings people to your door or life, who might need to know what you are learning. You don’t have to be an expert – just be honest! God bless us all as we receive God’s comfort – and give God’s comfort to others. Kermit
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Monday, September 26, 2011, 09:44 AMSept. 26th, 2011
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
“When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2: 1-5
Another of my favorite bible stories – I’d surely put it in the top ten, but there are way more than ten!
I love a couple things about this story. 1) The persistence of these beloved friends. They are not dissuaded by the crowd; they are not put off by being unable to get to Jesus. They simply put their ingenious minds to work, and work out another way to get their friend before Jesus. 2) The love of these beloved friends. Obviously they have heard of Jesus – that’s why they are so insistent and persistent to get their hurting friend before him. They also love their friend so much they would carry him, lift him onto the roof, dig a hole in the roof, then carefully lower him on this rope stretcher into the presence of Jesus. What a wonderful testimony of their love. 3) The faith of these friends. I find it very interesting that Jesus says nothing to the crippled man about his faith. He doesn’t ask if he even believes in Jesus. No, Jesus just looks skyward at this newly created hole in the roof – sees the 4 smiling, hopeful heads of these faithful friends; and he heals their buddy.
What this shouts to my heart today is this: who do I love enough in my life right now that I would tirelessly work to make sure they get in front of Jesus? Who do I love enough that I would go to such inconvenient lengths to make sure that Jesus has a chance to heal them? Secondly, who do I have in my life right now that might be willing to carry me on a stretcher to Jesus? There are times in all our lives when our faith is depleted, we are completely empty, our body may not be broken, but we are wounded, and we need someone to carry us to the Master. Do I have 4 friends I can count on today to carry me?
I know that there are times in most all of our lives when our faith is so weak, maybe we have no faith at all – at times like these we need to rely on our friends to carry us into the presence of Jesus; so he might heal us, and restore our faith. I want to be that type of friend today – for I might need that type of friend tomorrow!
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