“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT
Perspective is everything! When we set our affections on the things of eternity and not on things of the this fallen world, we can find the courage and determination to finish the race. Where we are going is more important than where we have been or where we are now. What lies ahead far outweighs the temporary struggles of this life. Don't get caught up in the temporary thrills and pleasures of this life, they will only last momentarily. The joy our hearts long for is found in Jesus and Jesus alone. What He has gone to prepare for us is much greater than what we now experience. In John 14:1-3 Jesus said this: ““Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” NLT
If we could steal one brief glimpse of the eternal heaven we would lose all worries and troubles of this world. This isn't just hyperbole and sensationalism. My brothers and sisters, it is the absolute truth. Live to live again. Give up what you can't keep to gain what you can't lose. The best isn't behind you. The best is ahead of you.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me live life with the eternal perspective. Only then can I find the hope, joy, courage, and determination to finish well.
“But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:13-15 NLT
Paul quotes part of Psalm 116:10 to establish his perspective. He spoke what he believed. Believing in Jesus and preaching Him as the way of salvation is admired and respected in areas where it is prevalent. However, preaching the truth about Jesus isn't always admired and respected. In cultures where sin is amuck it is often met with disdain and rejection, even to the point of hostility, attack, and even death. Even in the church world there can be resistance and rejection of the truth. Preaching the truth will either receive acceptance or rejection. We must decide to preach it no matter what the response. It is our duty to proclaim the truth. How people respond is up to them. As heralds of the truth, it is our responsibility is to stay true to the message regardless of adverse circumstances. As we obey the Holy Spirit in preaching the gospel, we can know with certainty that God will use the seeds we have sown to accomplish His purpose and plan. Just as every seed sown in a garden doesn't come forth to fruit, we, too, must remember that it is our duty to sow the seed and leave the results to God. We can prepare the soil and plant the seed, but the results are in God's hands. Jesus used this analogy when He taught the "Parable of the Sower" in Matthew 13:1-23.
I once heard it said this way: "You can count the seeds in an apple but you can't count the apples in a seed." Preach the truth and leave the harvest to God!
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me stay true to You and Your Word. May I never compromise the truth in order to please an audience. The audience I want to please is You!!
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 NLT
We, as mere mortals, are given the power of the Immortal One to live inside of us. That is absolutely mind boggling. To have the God of Creation living within our temporal, human bodies is nothing less than miraculous. By the blood of Jesus we are made spiritually pure and clean. This makes our body capable of being inhabited by the Holy Spirit (see I Corinthians 6:19).
I Peter 1:18-19 says it this way: “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” NLT.
That is simply AMAZING!!!
No matter what we may endure, we have the living hope of Jesus living inside us. The things we now suffer are but a speck of dust compared to the eternal reward of living in the sinless, matchless presence of Jesus our Lord!
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:7 NLT
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me stay focused on You and remain faithful to your call.
“You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:5-6 NLT
Paul was recognizing the simple, yet profound, truth that it is Jesus we preach. No one else can set the captive free. When Jesus is preached, the light of the gospel is shined into the lives of people and the Holy Spirit actively begins to convict the hearers. When Jesus is received as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside the believer, the light of Jesus drives out the darkness of the devil, and opens the eyes of the new born child of God. They are no longer under Satan's bondage and they are now able to walk in the light. Only Jesus can deliver from the power of Satan's deception and the blindness that resides upon every soul. He, and He alone, can save. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY!!!
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, I want to be sure that I am truly Your child and that I am not under Satan's blindness. I want to genuinely know You and walk in Your light. Help me to have the definite assurance that I do know You, not just know about You. I want to be Your disciple.
“If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 NLT
The gospel of Jesus Christ is what the Greek call the "Good News." It is God's revelation, to mankind, of the redeeming work of salvation. There is no other way. John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 both emphatically state that Jesus is the only way of salvation. If we keep the truth from those who are lost, they will continue walking in darkness and be eternally condemned. Only the power of Jesus Christ can set us free from the blindness that Satan has placed over our eyes. When we veil the truth with feel good messages and self help motivational speeches, rather than the preaching of the gospel, we dilute it. What we need is the outright, unadulterated truth. Satan is called the "god of this world" in verse 4 because he usurped the authority that Adam had over the earth that God had given Adam in Genesis 1:28. Satan deceived Eve in Genesis 3:1-7. When she ate of the forbidden fruit, she then gave to Adam. When he ate, the eyes of them both were opened. Their eyes were now opened to evil and they were caught in the trap of deception. All of Adams descendants are under that dark cloud of deception. The only hope of breaking the spell of Satan's deception is through the straight and clear preaching of the gospel. 1 Corinthians 1:18 states: “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God." NLT
The message is simple and clear. Jesus Christ, the very likeness of God, is the only hope of salvation. Let's preach it to the world. It is our only hope.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me keep the gospel message pure and free. May I never dilute it in order to appease a culture.
“Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 NLT
Paul was dedicated to the call of God on his life to preach the gospel of grace. In Acts 20:24 he states this:
"But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God." NLT
Paul was determined to preach the truth concerning Jesus Christ. However, someone was trying to undermine his apostolic ministry and authority. Nothing and no one would change his course. The audience he was trying to please was God. His life had evidenced that very fact. No one could refute his preaching the truth. His motive was pure.
God has given us the responsibility of representing His Son Jesus to this world. We must not allow anything or anyone to divert our focus. We seek to please Him above and beyond anything. We must not compromise the truth in the midst of a wicked generation. Let us carry the torch with one goal in mind - to preach the gospel in its unadulterated form. No matter what others in this world say to us or about us, we must preach the truth. Only the truth will set us free (see John 8:32&36). Stay focused and finish the course!
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me live a life that, without question, is dedicated to preaching the truth of Jesus Christ. Help me stay the course and finish well for your glory!
“Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 NLT
As the glory of God shined upon Moses as he was exposed to the radiance of God's Holiness, the radiance upon Moses face could only last temporarily because Moses could not stay in that place. The glory upon Moses face faded. The law was dispensed and set things in order until the Messiah (Christ - Anointed One) could come. The problem was that the law could not take us into the presence of God. It could only give us an understanding of His Holiness. When Jesus came, lived the sinless life, fulfilled the laws requirements, and paid sins debt, it was finally made possible for us to come into the very presence of God. Through the blood and body of Jesus, those who recognize Him as Lord and Savior, confess and repent of theirs sins, and receive Him as Lord of their lives, can now be brought into the presence of God. God's presence is made known to us by the Holy Spirit. By faith in Jesus as our completion of God's requirement, we are given the presence of the Holy Spirit that comes to live inside of us (see I Corinthians 6:19). We, unlike Moses, are able to live in the presence of God by the Holy Spirit. We are now FREE from the law of sin and death. Can I hear Hallelujahs rising from God's people?? That is worthy of a shout!! This glory doesn't fade because He now lives inside us. He is with us, He is for us, He is in us! God's law can now be written upon our hearts rather than a page. Let God's Holiness come alive in you today as you submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit!
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, I thank you that by your grace and mercy, the Holy Spirit lives inside of me. Let your Holiness be displayed in my life. May your Glory shine in, and through, my life.
“He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life. The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!” 2 Corinthians 3:6-11 NLT
The Old Covenant (Mosaic Law) was given by God to the people of Israel through Moses. This law contained ceremonial, civil, and moral aspects. This law was given to the Israelites as a means of stability and civility. Since man had fallen into sin, he was incapable, on his own, to know the specifications of a Holy and Righteous God. In order to keep mankind from self destruction, God, in His mercy, gave us an understanding of His Holiness and set perimeters for living. This law could never make us holy, it could only show us the Holiness of God and reveal to us our sinful inability to achieve His Holiness. As man looked at the law it made him recognize how sinful he was and how Holy God was. Any consideration of being able to entirely fulfill its requirements was met with a falling short (see Romans 3:23). None of us were capable. However, the law served its purpose and continues, to this day, to testify of the greatness and Holiness of God. The old Covenant was a masterful display of the glory of God. It exclaimed the radiance, beauty, and perfectness of God. It shouted to man the utter righteousness of the Creator. Moses had been in the presence of God as he received God's commands and it resulted in a radiance of God upon the very face of Moses (see Exodus 34:33-35). Moses had to veil his face because of the radiance of God that was shining upon him. What an awesome and holy God! Moses had become aglow with the radiance of God's Holiness. This radiance would begin to fade upon Moses as he could not stay in the presence of God.
If this was the experience under the Old Covenant, then we are certainly given a much more grand and glorious radiance under the New Covenant. Jesus, the Creator, has displayed, in the body of a human being, the glory of the invisible, unseen, Spirit God (see Colossians 1:15-23 and 2:9). In Jesus Christ, the glory of God resides. Through Him, we are made into the righteousness of God (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Wow!! What a revelation! In Jesus, we are restored into the image of God and we are given the Holy Spirit which resides inside us (see I Corinthians 6:19). This radiance does not fade. His presence lives inside those who are washed in the blood of Jesus.
Now that is glorious!!!
“Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. 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. We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:1-5 NLT
Paul was reminding the Corinthian church of the evident power of God that transformed their lives through his ministry to them. Once again, he reaffirms the authority and anointing God had placed upon, and within, him to establish and teach the churches.
The validation and qualification of ministry is not in the degrees we have achieved, our resume', or any other documents we can carry before a church council or body. The true measure and validation of ministry are the lives impacted and changed, not just articulate ability or intellectual prowess. Anyone can hold a degree, say the right things, and impress. Only a life anointed by God can truly reach into the hearts of people. People know when their lives have been touched by the power of Jesus Christ. God validates His servants by His anointing. The anointing is what gives authority and unleashes the power of God. Only God can truly authenticate a ministry.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, I place my life in your hands and ask for the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon my life. Help me touch the lives of others for Your name sake.
“But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 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? You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.”
2 Corinthians 2:14-17 NLT
The validation of ministry is not popularity or how many people attend services. The real measure is authentic preaching of the gospel and changed lives. The gospel isn't a business that we franchise into in order to get in on the action. We are privileged and honored to serve the Lord Jesus and we need to always bear in mind that God is watching everything we do. If we are pleasing Him then we are truly successful. Trying to please the masses will always lead to the displeasure of God.
Who are we trying to please?
Prayer for today? Father, in Jesus name, help me please you in all my ways. Help me know that ultimate success is pleasing you, not others.
Rev. Curtis Norris