SUFFICIENT GRACE – – (Part 2)


2 Corinthians 12:6-10 – “For if I do wish to boast I shall not be foolish, for I shall be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one may credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me — to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  NASB

            In our last devotional, we considered that this Grace is Sufficient for Salvation.  Today, I want us to move to the next consideration of the sufficiency of this grace of God.

This Grace Is Sufficient in Tribulation.

In America and some other sectors of the world, persecution is not something we are accustomed to experiencing.  However, the Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 3:12 – “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  That is not a suggestion that it might happen but a warning that it will happen.  Jesus warned us that the world will hate us and hate always seeks to persecute.

I have heard declarations of ‘suffering for Jesus’ and realized that the suffering being described was not having the lavishness of life rather than real suffering.  Paul suffered for the cause of Christ.  The world demands compromise, but Paul said, “No.”  The attitude exhibited in Queen Esther was in Paul and the other disciples, “If I perish, I perish.  Who shall we obey, God or man?” 

In today’s world and some of today’s churches, the demand is to have inclusion to the point that we compromise our convictions and ignore God’s directives.  I have been told that we have to modify our message and tone it down in order to attract the world.  My attitude is the attitude expressed by the early church and declared by Jesus.  “If He is lifted up, He will draw people to Himself.”  We do not need to move toward the world but present an answer to the problems, ills, troubles, and battles of life.  We need to be people who are different and demonstrate the Grace of God in all things and at all times.  We do not need a new definition of morality; we need a new commitment to God’s call for us to be Holy as He is Holy.

The only time an army ‘strikes’ or takes down its colors (flag) is when it is defeated or on the run.  We are neither so we must never let down our standards and seek Him above all and in all. 

Paul made a powerful declaration in 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” 

Sickness may come, but God’s Grace is Sufficient.  Grief may strike, but God’s Grace is Sufficient.  Poverty may become a present reality, but God’s Grace is Sufficient.  Soul sickness may surface, but God’s Grace is Sufficient.  Never lose sight that “My Grace is sufficient for you…”

In all of Paul’s sufferings, he never lost sight of the vision God placed in his heart.  He not only had hope in this life but was confident of God’s promises and faithfulness.  He knew that God’s Grace would carry him through everything he faced and transport him to heaven at the end of his journey. 

I want to address this more, but for now, I encourage you to look up if you are battling difficulty and hold to the reality and promise that God’s Grace is sufficient.

Have a Great Day in Jesus!

SUFFICIENT GRACE…


2 Corinthians 12:6-10 – “For if I do wish to boast I shall not be foolish, for I shall be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one may credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me — to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  NASB

As we study the New Testament, we quickly realize that Saul of Tarsus was a terror to the newly established Christian church before he became the apostle Paul.  He persecuted the Christians with no remorse because he believed he was doing God’s work.  He considered the Christians a blight on God’s Truth and proper religion.  After his conversion, he became more zealous to promote Christianity than he was to destroy it.

Paul’s encounter on the Damascus Road brought him face to face with the one who was the foundation for the Christian message.  The experience he had that day was one that he would often relate to those to whom he was ministering.  He would say, “I was on the road and I saw a light from heaven.”  He found that God’s grace was sufficient and abundant.

God’s Grace is Sufficient for Salvation.

There are several things I believe beneficial for us to consider.  We need to go back to the beginning and to the Garden of Eden and rehearse the Fall of Man.  Then we need to realize that the Law given to Israel could not save.  We are reminded repeatedly in the Bible that ‘without the shedding of blood there is no remission for sin.’  In our walk through the Bible, we realize that man, without Christ, is bound for an eternity in hell.  Then we come to the incredible declaration in John 3:16 of God’s incredible Love and Gift to man in the life and death of Jesus.

This Cross was an expression and demonstration of Love that is beyond human comprehension.  It is Grace beyond measure!  It is unmerited and impossible to earn or deserve.  It is God’s Gift!  If we received what we deserved we would spend eternity in hell, but God desires that none perish.  Because of that desire and God’s incredible Love he offers us a path to escape that eternal punishment and torment.  It is not automatic but provided if we will receive it.

It is because of God’s incredible Love we can sing, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now I am found.  I was blind but now I can see.”  Why?  The Grace of God is Sufficient!

God’s provision of Grace is our only hope of living eternally in His presence in heaven.  Jesus is the only road to heaven.  He is the Door.  He is the Way.  He is the Truth.  He is Life. 

I would never suggest that the Christian life is a life of ease or a bed of roses.  The apostle Paul suffered incredible persecution and tribulation.  He endured more than most could withstand.  He seemed to be a man of steel and super-human.  What was his secret?  God’s Grace!

I want to dig a little deeper into God’s Sufficient Grace but will pause here and ask that you muse on the greatness and abundance of this Grace.  Rejoice in the fact that Jesus loved us enough to die for us and now we have an open door to the Father through the Son.

May the LORD bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

THE TWO-FOLD PURPOSE OF PREACHING…


2 Corinthians 4:5-6 – “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”  NASB

I am sure you have endured or encountered preaching, preachers, and believers whose message and ministry seemed more about them than God.  I had an Evangelist come to the church I was leading, and he spent the entire time promoting himself and his needs.  He took a text, and gave us a title and then never touched the text, never came near the subject of the title, but we learned about how many people were seeking him, how much it cost him to continue his ministry, and what his next project was and how much he needed to pay for it. 

I had an Evangelist call me at 2 AM once to tell me that he wanted to come and conduct a ‘crusade.’  He wanted me to secure an auditorium in a neighboring city that would seat several thousand, hire a television crew to film the meeting, bring in professional musicians, and provide him with elaborate living quarters.  He said, “I feel that your people need to hear what I have to say.”  If you wonder what I said, you probably guessed it already.

I allowed this individual to speak for several minutes and then said, “No.”  He was stunned and said, “Don’t you know who I am?”  Yes, I knew who he was.  He said, “Don’t you care about the needs of your people?”  That set me off and as I bit my tongue and prayed for calmness I said, “Yes, I care about the needs of my people, but I don’t think you do.”  He wanted to promote himself and told me that he had a $2,000 payment due on his bus as well as some other expenses that made his expectation of the ‘crusade’ an offering of well over $10,000.  We were a church of about 300, not 3,000.

Sorry, for ranting and sounding as though I am down on Evangelist and other ministers, I am not.  I have had some incredible people come and minister to the congregations I have led.  They came with humility and a genuine desire to ‘hear God’ and ‘serve the people.’  Their heart was to “Preach Christ” and see Him become a reality in lives, setting them free from the clutches and devastation of sin.  In each of those times, the LORD provided abundantly and most of the time far exceeded any hope they had financially.  The more God moved in power, the more the people gave in finances.  The more the speaker demonstrated humility and a genuine love for God and concern for them, the more they responded in prayer, presence, and giving. 

When I entered the ministry, it was my desire to serve and to be a voice, not an echo.  I did not want to be a copy of someone else, I wanted to be the unique vessel that God had called me to be and made me.  I wanted His presence and power in my life so that I could see the works, greater works, and destruction of the devil’s work.  I knew that if I could lift Jesus up and do so with humility, He would do the rest and touch lives transforming them. 

I learned, often the hard way, that being a servant was the only way to achieve success.  The more we served, the more the communities would respond and receive us.  The more we focused on people and the less we focused on us, the more impactful our church became in the community. 

The goal of a preacher, a Christian, and a leader must be to Preach Christ. They must view and present themselves as servants of Christ and serve people. If we allow the Love and Life of Christ to be manifest in us, we will find that people are much more open to the message.  Jesus said, “If I be lifted up…”  He was speaking of the Cross, but I believe it was a message far beyond the Cross and a challenge or call for us to “Lift Him Up” through service.

God bless you as you enjoy His presence, peace, and power on this beautiful day!

YOU KNOW HOW TO GO OUT – Do You Know How to Come In?


1 Kings 3:7 – “And now, O LORD my God, Thou hast made Thy servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.”  NASB

Some may think that question foolish, but I consider it essential in discovering how to live the Christian life, perform our spiritual duties, and lead in a godly fashion.  We know how to go out.  We know how to enter the battle and tackle the obstacle.  We know how to pursue the objective and may even know how to fight while we are pursuing the prize before us.  We may know how to achieve the victory and defeat the devil through the principles of God’s word and with the spiritual weapons of warfare.  That is wonderful and needful.

Yet, I wonder, do we know how to come in after the battle has been fought and the victory won?  I speak of that from two perspectives.  Do we know how to come in before the people and into the presence of God rightly after the battle?  Do we know how to come in, after we have experienced a major victory?  Some, become infatuated with their own ability, supposed spiritual power, and importance and come in with an attitude of pride.  God will never honor man’s pride. 

The Bible issues a needed warning in Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  In Proverbs 13:10 we are informed that it is by Pride that Strife enters the picture.  The apostle Paul addresses this issue in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “For who makes you different from anyone else?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”  It was Pride that got Lucifer kicked out of heaven.  It was pride that destroyed kings in the Bible.  It was pride that has caused nations to crumble. 

We need to learn to walk in humility and gratefulness for God’s blessings and provisions so that when we have won a victory. We need to be humble and acknowledge that we achieved it through and by Him, not our own ability or strength.  We will then cause people to see and desire Him and His help rather than elevate us to a more lofty position that we should be granted.

The second focus of ‘coming in’ is entering the Presence of God in Worship.  The Psalmist in 100:4 instructed on the proper way to enter the presence of God.  We enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.  In Psalms 96:9 we read, “O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness; tremble before and reverently fear Him, all the earth.”  In Psalms 34 1-3 the powerful directive is, “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  2 My life makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble and afflicted hear and be glad. 3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.”

I appreciate the sense of security we have or should have that God loves us and is our Loving Father.  However, I am often disturbed at the casualness in the approach of many to God.  I am told that even Prince Charles, in England, bows before the Queen and calls her ‘ma’am.’  I hear people call God “Big Daddy” or some other casual descriptor. He is not the ‘man upstairs’ and Jesus is not just our ‘buddy’.  We are talking about The Living God, the Creator of all things.  The Lord of Lords, and King of Kings. 

We are invited to come into His presence with boldness but that does not equate to disrespect or dishonor.  Would you approach the Queen of England or the President of the United States and say, “Hi doll, or hey, buddy or Mr. Prez.”  No, you would show respect even if you did not respect the person.  But, with God how can we enter His presence and not respect and honor Him. 

The disciples’ or Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6 we are told that our entering His presence is to be with an attitude of respect and honor Him.  “Hallowed be Thy name…”  The Greek word is “hagiazo” which means to ‘make holy, to hallow, honor, sanctify.’  Obviously, we cannot make God pure, He is pure, so our hallowing of His name is our recognition of Who He Is.

We need to know how to ‘Come In’ or ‘Enter’ His presence and when we come before Him in repentance and humility, He comes to us with Grace and Peace.  When we come before Him respectfully and with the honor and awe, He deserves, He comes to us with provision and blessing.  We need to not only know how to “Go Out” and fight but how to “Come In” and Worship and express our Gratitude and Thanksgiving.  When we do, we will be better able to “Go Out” in strength, power, and victory, and “Come In” receiving His enrichment.

God bless you as you enjoy this day in Jesus!

THE WORD OF THE CROSS – Dual Effect…


1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  NKJV

I had a person send me a message on Facebook over a birthday greeting I sent to a mutual friend.  He called me some vile names and said, that I was a purveyor of hate because I promoted, in his words, “my invisible friend”.  I’m not sure how that was hate, other than hatred for sin, but He continued to tell me that I was offering false hope to people and thereby robbing them of the ability to live life freely and fully.  He considered my Christian blessing foolishness. He laughed at my declaration that I have experienced God’s blessings and the message of the Cross as the incredible power of God to transform. Truly, he was an example of this scripture.

After I returned home from the Vietnam War in 1968, I spent a year searching and trying to satisfy an emptiness in my heart.  I tried many things (not opioids) but things very detrimental to my physical and emotional well-being.  I even considered reenlisting and returning to Vietnam because I was empty and lost.  I had no one to talk to and when I tried, they could not understand the emptiness of my heart and my frustration.  Most of them were in the same condition I was in, Lost, and without God.

I encountered God’s love through people in Palestine, Texas at Westside Assembly of God and after several weeks of the constant display of that love, I received Jesus at the kitchen table of my sister’s house around midnight on a Saturday night, as I sat alone reading Proverbs 3:5-6.  The experience was incredible.  The weight of the world lifted from my shoulders, the peace of God flooded my heart and I was changed.  No, changed is not an adequate description, I was TRANSFORMED!  I was Born Again!

The Cross, the message of Jesus’ sacrificial death on my behalf and His resurrection, provided the Transforming Power to completely rewrite my life.  I have encountered people who believe as did Karl Marx that “religion is the opium of the people.”  They believe as did Friedrich Nietzsche, “God is dead” or that God does not exist. 

I have encountered avowed atheists who insist that there is no God and agnostics and followers of Gnosticism that insists it would be impossible to know if there is a God or not.  I beg to differ I have experienced Him.  I meet people who believe that a loving God would never allow sin, sickness, and evil to exist and therefore, there cannot be a God because a loving and benevolent creator would not allow pain in people’s lives.  They take exception to our message that God is All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Everywhere Present, and Loving. 

I love the apostle Paul’s retort to those who disbelieved and were attempting to discredit the message of Good News in the Gospel.  He said, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”  (1 Corinthians 1:21).

God’s love is immeasurable and the Father’s willingness to allow Jesus to be born of a woman, live on this planet which He did without sin, die for man’s sins, and rise again ascending to heaven to intercede for us is nothing short of amazing!  That is the descriptor of Grace – AMAZING!  No wonder John Newton in 1772 would write the incredible anthem of the Church, “Amazing Grace.”

God’s Amazing Grace is sweetness to my ears and my heart.  I was lost and He found me and allowed me to find Him! I was afraid and He quieted my fears.  I face dangers, toils, and snares, and He never leaves me.  His Grace is the doorway to lead us into the presence of God, bring about the New Birth, and lead us to our eternal abode and heavenly reward.  Hallelujah! 

Those who are atheists, skeptics, agnostics, and rebellious may consider the message of the Cross foolishness but those of us who have experienced the Love, Mercy, Grace, and Forgiveness of God know its Power!  

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

SELF IMAGE – – Part 2


2 Corinthians 10:12, 17-18 – “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding…

17 But he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord. 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”  NASB

In the last devotional we were considering some visible signs of ‘self-rejection’ and a ‘negative or wrong self-image.’  We considered the matter of Over Attention to Fashion, the Inability to Trust God, and Excessive Shyness.  Today we move to a few more and hopefully, they will help each of us reject the wrong image and adopt the right image embracing our uniqueness in God.

Another evidence is Difficulty to Love Others.  The Bible teaches that we are to ‘love’ our neighbors as our selves.  If we are unable to love ourselves with a healthy love, we will also find it difficult to love others in the right way.  We may exhibit what I call poison love rather than the agape of God.

Another evidence is Extreme Self-Criticism.  If we focus on the unchangeable features of our bodies and complain about them inwardly or outwardly, we are clearly exhibiting unhealthy ‘self-rejection.’  Isaiah 45:9 addresses this, “Woe to him who strives with his Maker!  Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth!  Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’?”  You are unique and are ‘in Christ’ therefore learn to be free and forgive yourself, God has.

Another extremely dangerous and revealing trait is the Wishful Comparison with Others.  I believe that extreme fascination with desiring to be different or like others in the unchangeable areas of our bodies is evidence of ‘self-rejection’ and a wrong ‘self-image.’  However, it is a healthy approach to desire to change the things about us that do not conform to the image of Christ.  Remember the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 9:20, “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 

Another dangerous evidence is Harboring Floating or Lingering Bitterness.  I have heard people say, “I hate myself.”  That could be a reference to something they have done or said, or it might be a reference to some physical feature or their entire lives.  That can lead to the development of animus toward God, after all, He created us.  The words of Ephesians 5:29 are powerfully germane, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.”   If we hate ourselves, we are expressing bitterness toward the one who created us.

A final example I will mention is Having Wrong Priorities.  When we neglect our God-given responsibilities in order to afford more time to pursue that which brings the accolades of others, we may be revealing evidence of self-rejection.  Craving the approval of others more than the approval of God is dangerous.  Galatians 6:4 tells us, “But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” 

The opinion of others will not bring peace to your soul but will leave you in a state of constant anxiety wondering what they are thinking now.  We deem ourselves unsatisfactory and therefore our significance comes from the approval of man rather than the approval of God.  God’s view of us is that we are “in Christ” and “in Christ” we are whole and approved.

I want to take up God’s basic purpose in creating us and other things but will hold that until the next devotional.

May the LORD bless you richly on this beautiful day!

SELF IMAGE…


2 Corinthians 10:12, 17-18 – “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding…

17 But he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord. 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”  NASB

I suspect that one of the most significant issues in Christians today is having a wrong self-image.  I have encountered many believers whose self-image is either too high or too low.  There is a myriad of issues that spring forth from that root and help to produce and reinforce the wrong self-image.

If we have a wrong self-image and maintain it over a number of years, we become more and more comfortable with that view and if it is bad, it is destructive.  It can and often does create many problems in relationships and attitudes toward God, family, friends, future, etc.

I saw a survey conducted on a Christian College Campus.  They sought out the most attractive and popular students and asked if they were satisfied with their basic appearance.  Over 95% said, No.  Those students were aware of their basic sin nature and the need for salvation.  They had placed their faith in Christ and had been born again.  They were Christians.  Yet, they confessed to having continuing struggles with fully dedicating their lives to the will of God.  As this was examined it was discovered that those students inwardly reasoned that if what they saw in the mirror was an example of God’s love and creativity for them, they could not trust Him with their future.  They believed they were flawed and too imperfect.

They had a wrong self-image.  The Bible teaches that we should see ourselves through the finished work of Jesus and Christ. The condition of our heart is the measure of God’s approval, not physical appearance.  We must never measure ourselves with the external standards established by the world or those around us seeking their approval.    I wonder how many who are reading this if you were standing in front of a mirror and could change anything about your physical appearance would change something?  Don’t get religious on me, be honest. 

Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” 

There are visible signs of ‘self-rejection’ and a wrong ‘self-image’ that need to be addressed.  One of the first and most notable is Over Attention to Fashion.  On the flip side, a lack of concern for appearance is a problem as well, but undue concern for fashion may be an attempt to compensate for unchangeable physical features a person deems unacceptable. 

Jesus linked those two conditions in Matthew 6:27-29 – “And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span? 28 “And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil, nor do they spin 29 yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.”  You are created by God embrace your uniqueness it is His mark of ownership.  Celebrate your difference rather than reject it.

Another sign is the Inability to Trust God.  I have discovered that when a person rejects the basic design of God in how they were made they often have difficulty expressing confidence in the designer in other areas of their lives.  The idea is, “If God messed up this badly in my physical attributes, He may not be up to the task in other areas.”  Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship.  In Psalms 139:14, the Psalmist declared, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”  God took the time and care to make us, just as He did the flowers, mountains, and trees.  We are wonderfully made!  Celebrate your difference and uniqueness.

Another sign is Excessive Shyness.  The person that is petrified of what others think of them is miserable most of the time.  Sadly, many are paralyzed by the fear of what others think of them.  One can be meek without being petrified of others.  If we believe we are inferior to others and their opinions control our actions, we will find it difficult to trust God.

I want to address a few more visible illustrations of a wrong self-image and self-rejection that translates into a lack of trust in God.  We will take this up again in the next devotional.

May the LORD be with you as you enjoy this beautiful day, He has made for us!

LABORERS TOGETHER WITH GOD – – Part 2…


1 Corinthians 3:1-9 – “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters are anything, but God who causes the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”  NASB

Let’s address the next two truths regarding God’s Harvest and the Church and our Position and Condition in the process.

GOD ALONE GIVES THE INCREASE.

1 Corinthians 3:6 is a needed reminder by the apostle Paul regarding the church and the ministry we are commissioned to engage in.  He said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.”  In verse 7 we read, “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.”  Notice that he said twice that the growth is God’s work, not ours.  We are simply co-laborers with Him, doing what He has directed and lifting Him up.  We are not the growers of the church or the producers of the growth. 

I love the declaration in Psalm 126:6 – “He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”  You are important in this process, but you are not the most important and the growth of the church is not dependent on your amazing ability or persuasiveness. 

I had a person tell me once, “You saved me.”  I said, “Nope!  If I saved you, I would be responsible for keeping you and I am not.  God saved you and your allegiance is to God, not me.”  It is up to us to water and plant, but up to God to give the increase and bring to maturity what we have planted.  The harvest is His and we are workers in His field.

There are some dangers:  If we plant nothing and water nothing what will the increase be NOTHING!  If we plant and water in faith and obedience to Him what will the increase be FRUIT?  God gives the increase in what we plant and water.  We must move outside the confines of the four walls of our sheep shed and sow the seed of the gospel to as many as possible.  That’s our part.

WE ARE CO-LABORERS WITH GOD.

God chooses our field and our ministry.  There is a powerful reminder in Psalms 127:1 – “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.” 

I believe that our purpose is not simply to fill churches with people but to bring souls into contact with the living God and enable them to experience Salvation.  The Living God will transform their lives.  A church full of people is of no value and could be a nest full of headaches and heartaches if they have not experienced Jesus in salvation.  Success is not defined by the number of attendees but the number of people whose lives have been changed by the Grace of God. 

We need to be led by the Spirit of God as to where, when, and what we sow.  We need the anointing of the Holy Spirit to do the work of Jesus.  We need to be obedient to the vision God has established for the church and our location. 

God calls, commands, and provides.  We plant and water.  He gives the increase.  That was liberating to me as a pastor when I realized it was not my job to ‘grow the church’ and it was not ‘my church.’  I saw more souls born into the kingdom and the church (local) became stronger as I relinquished my control and followed His. 

God wants none to perish!  Jesus will have a church and it will be glorious.  We are not in competition with any other church or group, denomination, or sect.  We are Laborers Together with God!  I have discovered that God always works where He finds willing hearts that desire Him more than anything.  He moves where His people believe Him, receive Him, and obey Him. 

You are an important part of the Harvest of God.  You are a vessel filled with His glory and empowered by His Spirit.  Therefore, “Go Ye Therefore.” 

God bless you as you enjoy your position and condition as a “Co-laborer with God.”  Have a Great Day!

LABORERS TOGETHER WITH GOD…


1 Corinthians 3:1-9 – “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters are anything, but God who causes the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”  NASB

My primary text and focus are in verse nine – “God’s fellow workers” or “Laborers together with God.”  I became persona non grata to some fellow ministers once when I challenged the use of the term “My Church.”  I have been concerned for a very long time when I hear and see the church world and preachers lose sight of the centermost part of what we do and who we are. 

The devil is a strategist and one of his strategies is to divert our attention.  If he can get us to become entrapped in the business of it all and become so busy engaging in the superficial, the minute, and our vision become misdirected he defeats us or hinders us.  If we lose sight of the whole and only see our part, our purpose becomes skewed and our effectiveness diminished.

When that condition occurs, we tend to expend our energies on secondary things.  If the devil can entrap us into small thinking, he gains an upper hand.  As a pastor, I heard, “We’ve tried that before and it won’t work.”  I’ve heard the argument, “We cannot do that because we are a small congregation, or we are not large enough to take on that responsibility.”  I have heard, “If it is the will of God, He will do it.”  No, He won’t!  I do not mean that God won’t do things independently of us, but if it is something, He told us to do, He Won’t Do It for Us!

Attitudes are incredibly important in life and especially in the work of the Kingdom of God.  Tragically, I hear conversations among believers that reveal they are defeated before they begin.  I have heard preachers talk about, “Building My Church.”  No, it is His Church and you cannot build it.  You can participate, but it belongs to Him and He is building it.  You are not doing a work for God your are laboring with God!

I have heard preachers say, “I want to grow my church.”  That is the wrong focus.  I am not opposed to church growth, that would be ridiculous.  I am opposed to focusing on noses and nickels and thinking that we must create a program or generate some excitement through our efforts that will attract people.  Changed lives are the focus of God not how many are assembled.  That won’t sit well with some.

There are three major truths that I would like to address in this and the following devotionals:

IT IS GOD’S HARVEST.

Matthew 9:38 instructs us to pray that God will send laborers into HIS harvest.  It is vital that we focus on the words, “His Harvest.”  He is the builder and maker. He is the creator.  He is the owner.  He is in control.  He is the Light of the World.  When we consider Who He is, any objection, doubt, fear, and hesitation become laughable.  There is nothing impossible with God!

I want to address this more but will pause until the next devotional to reveal the other two truths of which I spoke in the beginning.   It is God’s Harvest and I encourage you to focus on that truth.

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him.

YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO GOD…


Psalms 8 – “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens! 2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou hast established strength, Because of Thine adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease. 3 When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; 4 What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him? 5 Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, and dost crown him with glory and majesty!  6 Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet, 7 All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, 8 The birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth!”  NASB

I love the Psalms and the beautiful encouraging and challenging messages they bring to the hear of the Child of God.  If we attempt to compare man to God, we quickly realize how insignificant we truly are. If we press that to the nth degree, we would become overcome with a sense of hopelessness and uselessness.  However, God gives us truths in His Word that reveal that we are Important to Him.

I want to take a brief journey through some of those truths and list them for your consideration and encouragement:

  • You Are More Valuable Than the Creatures of the Earth.  (Genesis 1:26). 

Man was given dominion. 

  • Our Soul is Worth More Than the Earth Itself.  (Matthew 16:26)

What could we possibly give in exchange for our eternal soul? 

  • We Were Important Enough for Christ’s Blood to be Shed for Our Sin.  (John 3:16 and Romans 5:8). 

It was while we were still in rebellion and sin that Jesus went to the Cross for us.  The unmatched and often unfathomable love of God is demonstrated in God’s willingness for the Blood of Christ to be shed for us.

  • Man Was Created in the Image and Likeness of God.  (Genesis 1:27).

We are crowned with His glory. We are the apple of His eye.  We may feel insignificant, unimportant, and inferior but God values us as the prize of His creation.  If we look at His provisions, we should be awed by His incredible love for us and the incredible value He places on us.

God’s provisions are for man, not the angels or the animals.  The angels have not tasted or experienced this Salvation that we know.  God has given us dominion in the earth.  God has brought to us His Salvation and Forgiveness.  He has prepared for us an Eternal Abode – Heaven.

The warning of scripture is, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation.”  “If the righteous scarcely be saved where shall the ungodly and sinner appear.”  We have not been given the spirit of fear so we should never be oppressed by fear.  Our Father desires to give us the kingdom and His abundant life, free of guilt and shame. 

We are valuable to God, so I encourage you to look in the mirror every day and say, “I am Valuable.  I am valuable to God.  I believe that I am valuable, and I will live like it.  I will be the expression of His glory and manifest His presence in my life through obedience.”

God has called you to victory!   Have a great day in Jesus!