Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A better Harvest

Read 2Corinthians 9: 6-15

This is a prosperity message if I have ever heard one. Paul is urging the people of the church to give and reminding them of God’s promise. It is very easy to think of this message in terms of money. After all, that is what most often comes to mind when we think of giving and generosity. It certainly plays a role in the description of riches and abundance.

2 Corinthians 9: 10-11

Now he who supplies the seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

We read this and get excited. Who doesn’t like the prospect of having more? We live in a society that thrives on it. The truth is that God wants us to live abundantly. He wants us to have more. This, however, doesn’t mean millions of dollars for everyone. For some, it will be exactly that. There will always be those called to support the church financially. Bills must be paid, and the tools for outreach require funding. We are called to support our pastors financially as they support us spiritually. This however, isn’t the path for all.

2 Corinthians 9: 7

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

We all have a calling. We all have something that we know should be given to the Lord. We know what we should give. It has already been decided in our hearts. What remains is to be faithful in this very thing.
Some are called to sing, make a joyful noise. When those with this calling are obedient to the Lord, their talent is multiplied. God makes them rich in talent, that they may share it with others to the glory of His kingdom.
Another may find that he is gifted with the pen, and can write words to reach and inspire others. Through this, the gospel can be shared with those who would otherwise not hear it. Words can uplift those who are not within range to hear.
Still, another may be gifted to paint, to build, to organize resources. There are many callings, many gifts. Every one of these can be utilized to spread the gospel, to reach out and uplift our fellow man. These gifts are meant to further the kingdom. We are called to use them for His glory. We are often called in areas where we feel weak, or without resources. Remember, that He who supplies the seed will increase your store if you trust in Him.
We give our praises to God and so will those who are blessed by our gifts. More are drawn in to the kingdom. The kingdom of God only gets richer as it grows. There is the prosperity my friends. We grow richer as the children of God, the heirs of the kingdom. We grow richer in the gifts that we share. We become better equipped to serve the Lord and to serve one another.

2 Corinthians 9: 12-15

The service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.

Read this again. God has promised us so much more than we could attain on our own. He will multiply the measure of talent and treasure that we share. Our seed will lead to an increase in the harvest. He has promised us His grace. We will also have the prayers of those who are touched by our obedience, by the example that God has called us to live. Prayer is powerful. It is what defines us. The Old Testament tells us over and over again that God’s people were known by their prayer. That we are called to do works that inspire prayer is an amazing thing. There is nothing more powerful.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Read 2 Corinthians 5: 1–10

We live in a society where nothing is good enough. We seek satisfaction at every turn. We push at work for the next pay bracket, hoping that satisfaction will come with a bigger income. There will be more money. Then, maybe, we can get the right clothes and the right house. Then we will be satisfied. The day comes. We move forward with excitement and are happy at first. It is a change. It is exciting. Then comes the disappointment. The new home isn’t what we were hoping for. Someone spills juice or soda on that brand new sweater and it is ruined. Even worse, we look next door only to find that we are behind again. There is something newer and better out there that we do not yet have. Surely, fulfillment will come with that. Surely, once we are set in the new standard, we will be secure.

People put themselves through all sorts of torment to achieve the perfect body, the perfect look. There are books and magazines showing us how we should look. If we can only make the sacrifice to match the image on that cover, then we will be happy. Then we will have confidence. We won’t be so insecure.

We, as a culture, certainly have it wrong. That yearning inside us all is very real. Every single living person knows deep in their core that they were meant for something more. Every person, day in and day out, deals with the insecurity that comes with having to do without. We feel naked, and unsheltered. We are exposed to the world and all of its harm because nothing we can produce, nothing we can buy, will really protect us. Nothing of this world can cover us like the Lord.

God gave us these bodies. They are our earthly tents. We do well to take care of them. Our bodies are indeed temples to the Lord. We are to take care of them. We are to keep ourselves healthy and in good shape, not to impress our peers, but to enable us to do the Lord’s work in this world. God also has another body that awaits each and every one of us. The day will come when we are clothed in our heavenly bodies. We will be covered by His heavenly house. There will be no need for the worries of this world.

Now think on this. We are born, knowing that there is something better. We are born, knowing that nothing in this world will satisfy. Where along the way do we become disillusioned and begin searching for fulfillment in earthly things?

2 Corinthians 5: 1

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

2 Corinthians 5: 2-3

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.

2 Corinthians 5: 5

Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Remember that. We have this yearning for a reason. God wants us to strive for something better. We are to prepare ourselves, and this world for His kingdom. We have been given the Spirit as a guide, as our deposit. Our place is guaranteed. There is no question, or fear of failure. We have His promise.