Troubleshooting instructions

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Paul at the end of 2 Corinthians gave us some final instructions that are really the summary of the entire letter that he wrote. “The grace of our the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” This is like the troubleshooting instructions that are the end of the instruction manuals that you get when you buy something new. If it is not working, the first thing to check is the power source. Plug it in. This is the trouble shooting section for our Christian faith. If it is not working the first thing to check is the power source. Is it plugged in? What Paul was saying is that grace, love and communion with the Holy Spirit are the key ingredients that make our faith really work.

Grace is the perfect balance between mercy and truth. Mercy or truth by itself can be dangerous. Too much mercy can cause someone to be tempted to mock God. Too much truth can be hurtful. But, grace is the perfect blend between the two. It means to speak the truth but to do it in love. Grace is the summary of the entire New Testament. The last verse of the entire bible is, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, Amen.” Grace is getting what I don’t deserve. Mercy is not getting what I do deserve. God is a God of grace and mercy. I need them both every day.

Then there is God’s love, which is referred to as agape love. Agape love means to love someone in spite of what they do. All other loves are based on loving someone “because of what they do.” Agape love is based on God’s eternal reservoir of love, which can never run dry. Experiencing this kind of love causes great pleasure or delight. It is actually emotionally healing. It is possible for us to say we love everyone but not necessarily like everyone. We experience personality clashes with people. Not so with God. The love of God means that He actually likes being around you, ALL the time! The closest thing that relates to this kind of love is parental love. It wasn’t until I started having children that I really began to understand agape love. Your love for your child is so deep it can even overcome their bad behavior! This is the way it is with God. His love for you is all encompassing. When you know the love of God it will lead you to repentance. In Romans 2:3 we read, “It is the love of God, which leads men to repentance.” Rules without relationship bring rebellion. God has rules for us to live by but He wants to have a relationship with us. Relationship brings obedience from the heart. As I get to know God, and how much He loves me, I am motivated to serve Him more.

Then there is “communion with the Holy Spirit. A person does not know God until he begins to have communion with His Holy Spirit. At best a person will know ABOUT God, but that is not the same as knowing Him on a personal basis. The Holy Spirit is God. He is not God the Father or God the Son, but God the Holy Spirit. Just because He is named third does not make Him any less than the Father or the Son. The Holy Spirit is a person just like you and me. Contrary to popular opinion, the Holy Spirit is not an “IT.” Without communion with the Holy Spirit there is no life but rather a religion with a set of rules. Without communion it is impossible to understand intent and heart of the Bible. Communion means to become one with. It means fellowship which is a two way sharing whereas for many prayer is just one-way. In Acts 15:28 we read, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us.” They were sharing their ideas with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit was sharing His ideas with them.

Grace, love and communion, are you experiencing them?

The battle for your mind

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Today’s reading is from 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “For though we walk in the flesh we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing every thought into captivity.” Most people are not aware of the battle that goes on for the control of our thought life. Many people don’t realize the power of their thoughts and are not even aware that they can control their thought life. Many times when you get down to the heart of people’s problems, somebody is seriously mixed up on their thinking. All of us tend to get mixed up on our thinking at times, and often we don’t even see the problem. But Jesus Christ can straighten out our thinking a whole lot better than Dr. Phil or anybody else in this world. Paul would not say this if it were not possible to control our thoughts. As Christians we CAN take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. Our thoughts do not have to control us; we can control our thoughts.

We are called to cast down arguments, and every high thing that is contrary to the ways of God. Other translations call these ‘imaginations (v.5).’ That means we are to conquer them. We are to attack and conquer imaginations of this world. Paul is saying “Be your own thought police.” With God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within you, you CAN do it. It is time we stop letting the devil win the battles for our minds and our lives and our families. It is time to identify his wiles, and his schemes and defeat them with God’s weapons. When we allow the devil a foothold in our lives it pollutes our mind. There is a war raging in our souls and in our minds. Satan is out to destroy you and your witness for Jesus Christ. He is out to capture, corrupt and control your mind. You don’t have to let him win!

What are some things that you do that have helped you to gain victory over your thoughts?

The difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow

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Today’s reading is from 2 Corinthians 7:10. “Godly sorrow produces repentance which leads to salvation, not to be regretted: but the sorrow of the world produces death.” There is a big difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow.

Worldly sorrow is lamenting without repenting. This means someone is sorry because they are CAUGHT or sorry because they have to pay the consequences. This has nothing to do with sorrow because what you did was wrong or against the laws of God. In I Samuel 7:2-4 we read the story of when the people of Israel lamented for years but never repented. They grieved because of their suffering but they still worshipped idols. It wasn’t until the prophet Samuel confronted them about worshipping their idols and told them to get rid of them, that they ever really repented. In Hebrews 12:16-17 we read that Esau repented even with tears yet he found NO forgiveness. This is the story of when Esau gave away his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of lentil soup. He did not care about his spiritual heritage and was hungry so he gave his spiritual authority as the oldest son away to his brother Jacob. Then afterward we are told he repented even with tears. Yet he was not forgiven. Why, because his sorrow was worldly not godly sorrow. There is a big difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. Esau was sad because he lost his inheritance. He wasn’t sad because disdained his spiritual responsibility as the oldest son. Judas who betrayed Jesus was full of worldly sorrow and the result of it was he killed himself. Worldly sorrow works death. It is the weeping of self-pity, regret over material losses, or sorrow that our sins have been found out. The fruit of this kind of sorrow is not life, but rather it produces bitterness, cursing and death. Pharaoh, Balaam and King Saul, each said, “I have sinned,” but the returning prodigal said, “I have sinned, against heaven and before God.”

Only godly sorrow produces true change. In Acts 2:37 we read that 3,000 people “were pierced in their hearts and cried out,” after Peter preached a powerful sermon on the day of Pentecost. Godly sorrow means to be pierced in our heart. It means to feel the pain of our sin. They realized that they had offended Almighty God with their sin. This kind of sorrow produced a change in these people. Godly sorrow works life. True godly sorrow PRODUCES REPENTANCE. It produces a real change, so that we turn away. The city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, showed godly sorrow when the prophet Jonah rebuked them. We read that they repented in sackcloth and ashes.In Psalm 51 we read about David’s godly sorrow as he mourned for his sin.

Godly sorrow means that we are sorry because what we did was WRONG. We realize that we have sinned against God. This is the kind of mourning that Jesus was talking about, when He said, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” May God give us godly sorrow for our sins that we may find life and forgiveness.