2 Corinthians

Live For Jesus

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One of the first Christian bands I ever heard was Stryper, a heavy metal band that showed me that Christian songs can be professional, powerful and fun all at the same time. One of their songs is “Soldiers Under Command”. Every time I’d hear it, I’d feel like a man on a mission - that my mission was greater than myself. When I would hear the lyrics I’d be reminded that I should no longer live for myself, but for Christ who saved me through his death on the cross. I was ready to live for him, and in my mind, I was also ready to die for him. When I read second Corinthians chapter 5 verse 15, those same feelings of living as a soldier for Christ bubble to the surface again. It says:

"And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again."

In first Corinthians, Paul reminds us that our life is not our own. That we have been bought with a price. And that price was Jesus’ death on the cross. In second Corinthians, he goes as far to say that we should no longer live for ourselves but for Jesus. Do you have that mindset? Do you still hold on to your life, your desires, your plans, your happiness, your success? Or have you chosen to live for Christ? To seek out his desires, his plans, his mission for your life? I encourage you to live for Christ and focus all of your aspirations through the lens of his mission for you. After all, our life is not our own. Our lives belong to him.

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“He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Are you living for him, or are you still living for yourself? To live for self is ultimately fruitless. You may find a level of happiness on this earth, but it is either fleeting or will end when you die. But if you live for Jesus, you will be storing up treasures in heaven, treasures that will last forever. So I encourage you, live as a soldier for Christ here on earth. He will give you purpose with an eternal focus. And when you die, you will find your treasure in heaven.

Aroma of Christ

Are you good at making first impressions? It doesn’t take very long for someone to form an opinion about you in only the first few seconds of meeting you. They judge you with their eyes by how you appear, they judge you with their ears by what you say, and some may even judge you by their nose. I’m not talking about perfumes or body order - though that could apply. No, I’m talking about the spiritual nose, and whether you give off the aroma of Christ or not. Paul explains in second Corinthians 2, verses 15 and 16:  

"For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?"

To God, believers should carry with them the aroma of Christ. He can smell death or life on every person depending on if they’ve accepted Jesus or not. But could that also be said of others around us in this world? Spiritually speaking, can they smell the fragrance of life or death on you? People are watching all of the time. Some watch with interest, and some watch with indifference, but it is my hope that they are able to sense something different about believers, that they may be able to sense something different about you and me, if we consider ourselves believers in Christ. If they are unbelievers, I pray that the aroma may bring them to a saving knowledge of Christ. And if they are fellow brothers and sisters, I hope the smell will be a fragrance of life.

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“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” I pray that you are one that gives off the aroma of Christ in the sight of God, but I also pray that is true in the sight of man as well. We are Christ’s ambassadors here on this earth. We should act differently than the world in public and in private. We should speak differently with words of love that encourages and challenges, and hopefully we even smell differently by giving of the aroma of Christ.

Conviction

When we sin we are to ask God for forgiveness, repent (turn away from our sin), then realign our lives in obedience to God. But at times sin can be difficult to repent from. Paul tells us that our flesh wants us to do what our Spirit doesn’t want us to do. But the very thing we don’t want to do, we keep on doing. So how do we know if we have truly repented and are not just saying that we have, all the while, biding our time for the next opportunity to sin? In second Corinthians 7:9 Paul says:

"Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us."

This is in reference to a letter Paul sent to the Corinthians. A letter that convicted them of their sin. He says that their sorrow led them to repentance. When you sin, how sorry are you about your actions? Does it lead you to repentance? Paul suggests that God intends for us to become sorrowful because of our sinful actions. Through the Holy Spirit we are convicted, and through our sorrow, we repent. So I challenge you to consider how sorry you really are when you realizeyou’ve sinned. Is it your sorrow that leads you to repentance? Or is your heart disconnected from the Spirit where true conviction takes place?

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Repentance is a tricky thing. Jesus tells the woman who was about to be stoned, to go and sin no more. But when we repent do we follow that example? If you do, then great. God wants our sorrow to lead us to true repentance. But if you still struggle with a certain area of sin, remember that you can’t free yourself on your own, it is the Holy Spirit who aids us in the fight. If your sorrow leads you to repentance – even if you have to confess over and over again, I believe God is still working his plan in you. But if you are not truly sorry and are not really brought to the point of true repentance, then I encourage you to examine your heart. Ask God to give you eyes to see your sin the way that he sees it. When that happens, I’m confident that you will find a sorrow that leads to repentance.

Get Serious

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged at where our country is headed – and I’m not talking about unbelievers. I’m talking about those who call themselves Christians. I watched a video that Christian minister Ray Comfort made where he interviewed random people on the street. I was amazed at the un-Christian-like comments and behavior of many who call themselves believers. I’m also reading books that I bought at my recent visit to the creation museum, and it is shocking how many believers don’t believe in the authority of the bible. Even in light of this, I challenge you not to become discouraged, but to use this as fuel to examine your life with Christ and wherever you are in your walk with him and take it to the next level. Paul recounts words from our God in second Corinthians 6:17 which says:

"Therefore come out and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."

This comes after Paul challenges us not to be yoked (or shackled) to an unbeliever. He is challenging us to be separate and holy unto God. God tells us to come out and be separate and he will receive us. So again, I challenge you to take a look at your walk with God. How separate are you from the world? As things get worse we need to get serious about our faith and press in - pursuing our God more, not less. 

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God calls us to come out and be separate from the world. We’re not called to ride the current of the world by looking more and more like them. We are to fight the current, and fervently pursue our God. As it says in Matthew 6:33, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…” So again, wherever you are in your walk with God, I challenge you to take it to the next level. Get alone with God more for prayer and deep study of the bible. Try fasting - denying your flesh while pressing in to Christ. Give more of your time to serving and loving others. Seek God more deeply than you ever have before. Get serious about the faith you say you have and let God shake your world.

Strength In Weakness

When God is able to move through us in our weakness, we find that we rely on his strength to get us through, not our own. Actually, I believe – as Paul does - that it is when we are at our weakest that God can shine the most. It is in times of incredible difficulty, hardship and struggle, that we seem to stop trying to fix things in our own strength. We rely on God and trust him to take over. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardship, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

These verses are written right after Paul explains that God gave him a thorn in his flesh to keep him from becoming conceited. And in that weakness, he was able to let go and let God take over. You see, when we are weak, we somehow move out of the way and begin to put our total trust in God because we know that he is our only salvation from our dilemma. We are at our best when we are weak, because that is when God can move without us hindering his plan. And when the smoke clears, our pride is nonexistent, because we know that we were too weak to contribute anything to our deliverance. We learn that it truly is all God, all the time.

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Paul says that he is strongest when he is weak. That may seem like a contradiction, but it is when we are weak that we stop trying and pushing in our own strength. You may even be able to reflect in your own life that when things are at their worst, we stop whatever we are doing and cry out to God, because we know that our own efforts are useless. By crying out to God and trusting him, we are doing the very thing we should’ve been be doing all along. We operate in God’s strength and provision, not our own.