Tag Archives: 2 Corinthians

Has Anything Changed?

Has Anything Changed

We are well into the new year, a time to reflect and make goals for what you want or think the future should be for you. We can get so focused on the moment that it can be hard to see the change. Today, I encourage you to step back and take a look at the big picture. If the New Year’s resolution has already tanked, a big picture look can get you back on track. The last couple of posts have looked at how thorns can help us and how God can use you. But, I think we need to take a moment and look at your faith. Has anything changed?

2 Corinthians 13:5  tells us to, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves…”. You can look close in the mirror, really close. PK’s gross example had to do with looking close at that pimple. Eeeew. If you’re that close, all you will see is that pimple. So step back and look at the big picture. What has God done over time in your life?

In the end of 2 Corinthians, Paul writes about how he hasn’t burdened people. He has a day job to pay the bills and hasn’t taken money for himself. He’s setting an example. He does this so we can see what a transformed life looks like and so we can use it as an example. He wants others to benefit from his example of living. Mark 10:45 reminds us that, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Jesus came to give, not to take. Paul is trying to live like that as well. His goal is to make disciples. He’s afraid people aren’t getting the message. If our goal is to make disciples, then we need to remember the big picture. It’s not what we get out of it, but what we put into it so others can benefit.

So, have you changed? When you look at the big picture, do you see how God is leading you? It’s messy and hard. You might do all you can for someone and they just turn and throw it all away. It happens. But do you stop? No. You keep going forward for God and trying to make disciples and living for Him. You hear a message and then you don’t let it stop there…you do the message so other people can go through a transformation like you.

Church isn’t about building up programs or empires, it’s about building up people.        -PK

You can have buildings and butts in the seats, but it can also be void of heart if the visual of “what a church is” overtakes the real mission of the church. Christians need to be people who are committed to people committed to the mission of the church. God reminds of this in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

How is your big picture looking? Are you growing up in your faith? Are you more concerned about building others up rather than yourself? Are you using Jesus and Paul and other disciples in the Bible as your example? When you look at the big picture, you’ll see living a transformed life is not a straight, flat path. Rather, it is hilly, with detours and circles no doubt put there by the one who knows just what you need. I encourage you to look at the picture and map it out if you need to so you are not discouraged by what you think doesn’t matter or hasn’t helped. Instead, I hope you will find that your life has transformed and that each day presents new ways of building people up in God’s love.

 

The Reason for the Thorn in Your Life

got thorns_Roses are beautiful, but when you cut them you need to watch out for the thorns so you don’t prick yourself. Raspberries are delicious fresh off the bush, but depending on the variety, you need to watch out for thorns. Those thorny weeds in the garden or growing up in the cracks of your sidewalk are a pain. And for those, you get the heavy duty gloves out to yank them up with all your might (because you know those roots are big) and your hands are protected from the thorns.

Life has probably handed you some thorns. Whether it’s a temptation, a loss, a gain (specifically of 1.5 billion dollars!), fleas in the house, a broken down car, a divorce, a firing, a kid suspended from school, or whatever else these things are thorns. What are we supposed to do? Sure the saying goes, “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade” but boy it’s hard, isn’t it?

Let’s turn to the Bible, because God gave us that book so we would have the answers. If that isn’t the first place you turn, you’re not alone. I often try to solve things on my own in the way I think it should happen. But, the Bible tells us in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  So, God is working through your thorn! Yes, that thing that we classify as “trouble” or “a bother” can be used by God for His purpose! There’s a new perspective on things.

How about Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10? He says beginning in verse 7, “…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”” God is not putting the thorn there, but He is capable of using it for His glory and purpose.

Maybe you have heard of a side hustle? It’s a side job that brings in some extra income to use to invest, pay for kids sports, or whatever. Like this blog could be a side hustle if I could spend enough time and figure out how to get it out there. My Teacher Pay Teacher store is a side hustle bringing in a small amount. But, have you heard of a side mission?

A side mission is when we get distracted by that thorn, let it consume us, and then try to go off and solve it all ourselves. And, when we try to solve it ourselves we are trying to bring glory and praise for ourselves and be able to say, “Ha, look what I did!” or “Na-na-na-na-na I solved the problem and you didn’t”. Neither are a very humble response.

Listening for God’s response when we cry out about our thorns is hard. It’s hard to wait and it’s hard to hear. Be sure to listen and give thanks when a thorn is lifted. Remember Jesus always had a thorn in his life – he knew he was born to die. And yet, he was perfect. Philippians 2:3-8 tells us to be humble and take an interest in others. Maybe by doing that, your thorn becomes smaller or becomes a back burner issue because your joy is now in helping others with their thorns.

Thorns help keep us motivated…and on God’s purpose.

-PK

And that, is the reason for the thorns in your life. Use them to keep you on mission for God. As I was writing this, I was about halfway through and then had to go to work. I ran into a couple of thorns there and it made me think about what I was writing. I had a choice. I can let the thorn bring me down and cloud my vision or I can put it into Godly perspective and work my way through it with His help. So, I chose to help a friend instead and be present for my kids as we ate some really thick pea soup. I’m telling you, it’s not easy when my human response is to growl like a bear, but I’m going to pray for help and try.

So, try to figure out what your thorns are. Chances are, that won’t be the hard part! Then, look around you. How can your thorn help someone else through theirs? And, what action can you take to help relieve someone else’s thorn which will diminish your focus on your own thorn? Don’t try to hide! Go!

The Temple of Whom?

The Temple of WhomOk, you have PK to thank for the corny title. The things he comes up with for titles for his messages are funny sometimes because it instantly makes you think of something. This message opened up with a clip from Indiana Jones. I mean, those two things go together right? Church and Indiana Jones? Well, PK has a knack for making it work.

The real question is, who is the Temple of God? The Bible calls the church the Temple of God. What does that mean? To outsiders looking in to our “church” what do they see? Do they just see the building, a concert, and programs? Somewhere along the line, the view of church went bad. Christianity, before it was legal, used to have people meeting in secret and risking their lives for their faith. Now, we have people arguing about the color of the carpet.

What did God have in mind when he called the church the Temple of God? He had the people in mind…not a building or a concert or a bunch of programs. Isaiah 43:7 says, “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” We were created for God’s glory! He made us! We never have to worry about running into ourselves because He didn’t run to the store and pick us off the shelves, He made us each individually. How cool is that?

1 Kings 8:27 says, “…The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” Solomon knew that even the temple he built was not sufficient to hold or glorify God. But, he did it anyway to glorify God. So why do we, in 2015 try to contain God to church? What does it mean to be the Temple of God?

As Christians we need to separate ourselves and be with people. 2 Corinthians 6 talks about not being tied or yoked together with unbelievers. This doesn’t mean that we are elite and need to look down our noses at unbelievers.

Don’t yoke (tie) yourselves with nonbelievers which might take you from God’s mission. One path keeps you walking with God. The other path leads you towards the American dream and a paycheck.     -PK

I am NOT saying that you can’t be friends with unbelievers and only hang out with other Christians. What a silly thought. But you do need to be sure that your path has other Christians on it so you can all keep yourselves on track and not fall into bad company. After all, our job on earth is to tell others about Jesus, so isolation certainly isn’t going to help spread the word!

We are the dwelling place of God. Don’t bring idol’s into God’s temple. The American dream alone is good. But the American dream lived out through God’s mission is even better and you can do that. We are holy, set apart, for God’s mission.

The world says: right is wrong and wrong is right.

God says: right is right and wrong is wrong.    -PK

Read that again if you have to. And again. I’m thinking God’s way is better and if you have surrounded yourself with other Christians, they will help keep you on the right path, even when the world will try to pull you away. Being the Temple of God means that we are not our own. We need to listen and do the work God needs us to do. It’s time for the world to see that when church comes to mind!

 

Avoid Being the Christian SBD

Christian SBD

There are 6 of us in our family. Four boys (yes, PK is included in that) and two girls. A day doesn’t go by that there isn’t some sort of bathroom reference or someone laughs so hard they inadvertently let one rip and the giggles start all around. So, imagine my horrified face with a bright shade of pink rising through it when PK spouts this off in his message:

So many Christians come off as pushy and judgmental…they’re the SBD in the room.     -PK

It took a minute, but there were giggles all around as they realized what he said. (In case you don’t know, SBD refers to: Silent But Deadly. If you need more information, go ask a boy!) Oh my, why wasn’t this a Sunday I was in back with the kiddos so I could plead ignorance on anything PK said? But, we hung in there and the good news in PK’s message came through. Good news that you don’t need to be the Christian SBD because that isn’t what God has called us to do or be.

God’s word in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is, “All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” And Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Looks to me like we need to be the servant and let God take care of everyone.

God has made us ministers of the new covenant. 2 Corinthians 3:1-9 tells us that we are to move from the old law to the new covenant. We need to move from the legalistic life of living by the law. Gone are the days of saying absolutely no dancing allowed, no watching movies, no having an occasional drink. Here to stay is the new covenant, where our salvation is not based on our performance but His. Jesus came to earth and died on the cross for us so that we could have salvation through Him.

 The Bible tells us so in Romans 7:6. It says, “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” Yes, we have been released. But why? And how do we serve?

The new covenant was instituted by God so we could be free to serve Him by showing the love of Jesus for others. That’s right, the Christian SBD needs to stop giving nasty looks and acting holier than thou and start showing the love of Jesus to others. We all have to do that. We need to use our gifts to serve Him so that others can come to know Jesus. We need to realize at the end of the day that if we don’t have Jesus, what does anything else matter.

We need to stop relying on rituals and rules at church and start relying on a relationship with Jesus. Church is all around you. It’s at the football game, your workplace, in the restaurant, or even in long holiday lines.    -PK

No one wants to be around an SBD. It stinks! So, PK’s message that started us off giggling really left us with a challenge. How is church in your life going to become the beautiful aroma that pours forth the love of Jesus through serving Him?

God Can Use You Based on You

God Can Use You

Feel like you are falling a bit short this morning? Afraid that Billy Graham and Rick Warren might be a bit more spiritual than you? Well, stop those thoughts right there because God can use you based on you. He’s not comparing your talents or discipleship abilities against anyone else.

So, keep the idea of God being able to use you based on just you, as you read on about comfort. 2 Corinthians 1: 1-5 says beginning in verse 3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Oh boy, another verse telling us to take the focus off of ourselves and use something we have to help someone else. We need to take action. You know He says this sort of thing a lot because we need to hear it constantly.

Experiences of our lives don’t have to be wasted. They can be used to help someone else.  -PK

You might wonder why you have to go through something. The situation might test your faith, you might wonder ‘Why?’ a lot, or you find yourself at the bottom of bottom. God has given you this experience for many reasons. One, is so that you can be comforted by Him. God loves you. He gave us His word in the Bible so we can be comforted. And, if you look back, you will probably see that he sent you certain people at certain times to help you through.

Two, now that you have been through a particular situation, He wants to use YOU. Yes, plain, ordinary you. Your experience gives you special insight when someone else is going through the same thing. Whether it is a divorce, addiction, a loss of someone or even a job, you have the ability to comfort someone.

He might choose you to help another Christian or a non-believer. He wants you to love people the way Jesus did, so they can know His love. It is a beautiful cycle that He has created. So much time is spent tearing people down that when you swoop in with love, comfort, and encouragement, it is the hope that people have been looking for. God tells us in the verse above to do this. It says, “…so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God”. So do it!

That person who seems to talk all the time needs your comfort. They might be lonely, scared, or just need someone to listen to them and God has chosen you! That person who is battling sickness might be too tired to talk, but God has chosen you to sit by their side!That person who just lost their job and doesn’t know how to find another one might need some hand holding to get back on their feet. God has chosen you to be that person!

Do you see that God can use anyone to share his comfort? When your pastor asks you to talk with someone it’s because he hasn’t been through the situation, but he knows you have and you can help that person better. God has chosen you! Don’t be selfish and keep God’s comfort to yourself, God has chosen you to comfort based on you.

How to Give – Part 3

How to Give Part 3

This is the final part for learning and teaching How to Give. Remember we have to set aside what we can to be ready to give and we need to trust God and bring the whole tithe and he will bless us. I’m sure many of you have given money to something in the past. But, as a Christian, the New Testament tells us four ways to give.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

So, here are four ways to give:

  • Sacrificially: A sacrifice means you give up something. For some this will mean eating rice and beans so you can give more. For others it will mean waiting to buy the latest tech toy so you can help someone now. God knows the intent of your giving and is not judging you against someone else’s ability to give.
  • Generously: To give generously means you give more than just the leftover change. You purposefully think about what you can give and then you kick it up a notch. It’s that extra bit that makes you smile about how you are helping.
  • Willingly: If you give willingly, it means you give without strings. No one has to twist your arm or beg. You see the need and you figure out how you can give generously. And if it means sacrificing something, you do. You don’t keep score.
  • Cheerfully: If you give cheerfully, you are giving without harboring ill thoughts about what you could have used the money for  (which is probably some material item you don’t really need anyway). It satisfies you to give.

Have you thought about how you give? Have you thought about what keeps you from giving? Perhaps it is not trusting God really will provide. Or, maybe you like to control things and think you know the best way to do things with your money and you miss what God is trying to tell you to do. And then, there is always something that will come up that could keep you from giving. The unexpected doctor’s visit, unplanned expenses at car inspection time, or a great sale on cheese and so you stock up. It’s life and these things happen. But if you have set aside what you can for giving, if you trust God to bless you beyond what you hope for, and if you learn how to give sacrificially, generously, willingly, and cheerfully, then when things come up, you don’t panic. You stick with your plan and give.

It’s okay to talk about money in church. You have to, so people know what the Bible says about it. When approached from a Biblical point of view, people can learn how best to use and give this luxury God has blessed them with. Because look, if we as a church can’t disciple people how best to use their money, the world surely will.

Be sure to read How to Give Part 1 and Part 2 to get the whole story.