If you believe the studies and statistics, most people wake up each morning with little purpose. Sure, they have to go to work so they can put food on the table and pay the bills, but after that, there is very little motivation. Everyone wants something to live for that will bring meaning and purpose to their lives. Jesus promises that when we choose to live for Him.
And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.”
A Willing Choice
Jesus died for many reasons, and one of those was that we would no longer live for ourselves but for Him. I think we can all admit that most of our problems stem from our selfishness. We want what we want, and we want it right now. Jesus offers another way. He tells us to live for Him because He died for us and opened the door to a whole new life. When we willingly submit our lives underneath Him new doors are opened.
Living for someone else except for themselves scares people. Who is going to look out for them? What about my goals and responsibilities? The list could go on. At the root of all of those fears is the feeling if we don’t take care of ourselves, no one else will. Jesus tells us that God beautifully provides for the flowers and the birds of the earth, how much more will He provide for us? We have to trust that God will provide everything we need and more.
Something to Live For
One thing we often forget when it comes to living for Christ is what He has in store for us. Jesus gives us something to live for. Living for ourselves is never satisfying, and we always want more. Living for Christ brings contentment and fulfillment. We find joy in serving others and don’t miss the continual pursuit of possessions. We also feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves when we choose to live for Jesus. Take an assessment of your life right now. Determine the motivation behind your actions and ask the Lord where things need to change. Then allow the Holy Spirit to go to work.
The moment before every battle is the most intense. Your mind is racing with all of the possibilities, and the thought of dying is chief among them. Some movies have great speeches by leaders to motivate the troops right before they rush into combat. Some battles you don’t have to fight. Instead, all you need to do is to stand and see the salvation of the Lord.
You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. He is with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow, go out to face them, for the Lord is with you.
King Jehoshaphat is outnumbered, and the odds don’t look good for his army to overcome the combined armies of the Moabites and the Ammonites. His people are trembling in fear, and the King isn’t too confident either. They come before the Lord to seek His face. All of a sudden, a prophecy out of the house of Levi steps forward and gives these words; “You do not have to fight. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” As soon as the King heard these words, he and all the people of Judah bowed down and worshipped the Lord.
We don’t have to fight all the battles that come our way. Not every hill is worth dying on. Most of the time, God wants us to go to Him and not engage in the battle. He wants us to stand still and be silent as He deals with our enemies. Romans 12 tells us that ‘Vengeance is mine says the Lord.” God is much more capable of dealing with difficulties than we are. We have a tendency to make things worse with our mouths, but God can solve a situation in a way where He will get the glory.
Stand and See the Salvation of the Lord
Maybe someone close to you has attacked you. The pain of gossip and rumors cut deep, and all you want is justice. Can you stand and see the salvation of the Lord? It’s not easy, but it is a better solution to your problems. Jehoshaphat stood and watched as the Lord wiped out His enemies. You can do the same by going to Him in prayer and then standing by remaining silent.
We take our sight for granted until it is taken away. As we get older, our eyesight diminishes, and we have to correct our vision or put greater trust in our other senses. To be honest, what we see with our eyes can be misleading and cause undue anxiety. Paul knew this very well when he tells us to focus on the eternal. The things we see today are temporary, but God is forever.
So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Don’t Have Tunnel Vision
Don’t you love how Paul words essential spiritual truths? Don’t focus on what you can see because it is temporary but instead focus on the eternal, which you can’t see. All of us are guilty of only looking at what is tangible. We don’t give a second thought to that which is spiritual or eternal because it isn’t right in front of our eyes. That is described as having tunnel vision, only seeing what is urgent and right now.
We have to train ourselves to focus on the unseen. Paul tells us in Colossians to keep our minds on things above (heaven). He also tells us to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Neither of these comes naturally. They even can be ridiculed by well-meaning Christians who tell us to be practical and grounded. Don’t let their criticism derail what God is calling you to do. Being heavenly-minded and Spirit-led are two marks of a believer who have put their full trust in the Lord.
Focus on the Eternal
Having eyes for the eternal means that you see things the way God sees them. You don’t get caught up in the worries of this world because you know that one day Jesus is coming back. Your hope isn’t in a solution some politician is professing but in the Creator of the Universe who has the whole world in His hands. What you see every day on the streets or your video screen all fits into God’s eternal plan. Put your trust in Him to handle it.
The amount of people who struggle with some form of depression is staggering. Those taking anti-depressant medicine is off the charts. The drug companies are making billions of little pills that promise to lift the mental fog off of our day. God never intended for HIs children to struggle this way. He offers a way out. Paul tells us that He will give a light that will illuminate our hearts.
For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Jesus is the Light of the World
The same God who created the heavens and the Earth, the one who said, “Let there be light” is the same God who is able to illuminate your heart. He can make darkness flee and bring life to that which is dead. That starts with the initial act of salvation in your heart, but it is also applicable to those who are struggling with the demons of depression and discouragement. That light comes through Jesus Christ. He is the light of the world.
Darkness hates the light. It runs at the first sign of it. Light and darkness cannot coexist. Why am I explaining this in such detail? Because the key to overcoming the clouds having over your life is to get to a place where there is light. Go to a church where they teach the Bible and have a vibrant community. Can’t go to a physical location? Bring the light to your world. Start with the physical darkness. Open the blinds, turn on the lights, go outside. Overly practical? Maybe, but I’ve seen too many Christians live in actual darkness. Yes, it will expose some areas that are embarrassing but work through it. Next, bring the Spiritual light into your life. Read Scripture out loud, play Christian music, and get off the couch and do something that serves others. These have an incredible power to lift the spirit.
Illuminate Your Hearts
Bringing light into our life may not remove the demons that rage inside of our head, but it lessens their impact. Only Jesus can set us free from that bondage but give it time. Let the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit do its job. Over time you will see those struggles fade away as you grow in the knowledge of Jesus. God’s glory will become more evident in your life, and your trust in it will increase. Soon those struggles of the past will be a distant memory.
I’m not one for parades. There are a couple near my house every year, and they are more annoying than enjoyable. That’s my personal preference though. There are a couple of parades that I do enjoy. One is when my sports team wins the championship, and the second one is as a believer in Jesus Christ. Paul tells us today that God leads us in a procession of triumph because of His Son. We are part of the victory parade.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”
Jesus is Rubbing Off on Us
Paul continues with his use of metaphors to explain how God uses us. Yesterday we saw that we are a living letter written on God’s heart. Today we see that we are a pleasing aroma. Because God is leading in Christ’s victory parade, we exude His aroma everywhere we go. Jesus is rubbing off on us, and others are starting to notice. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians that the aroma is attractive to some and repulsive to others. The more our knowledge increases, the stronger the fragrance gets.
This is a unique passage because it shows the believer that the victory is already won. Christ accomplished that on the cross and through the grave. Satan has lost, and now he is trying to take as many people with him as possible. For those who have given their heart to Jesus, we are secure. No one can take our salvation and victory over this world is in our hands. Don’t let doubt and discouragement drag you down. Instead, go forward in the confidence of Jesus Christ.
Go forward in boldness in your faith, knowing that God is leading you. Increase in your knowledge of God’s word and seek to do those good deeds which make Jesus famous. As you do this, you will be spreading the aroma of Him everywhere you go. Don’t let your heart get deflated when someone opposes you. You have achieved victory in Jesus.
People don’t write letters anymore. They send short texts filled with emojis. If something longer needs to be said, they might send an email, but no one sits down and writes anything on paper and then mails it. It’s a lost art and with it is lost the wonderful avenue of using words to paint a picture. Fortunately, Paul wrote letters to churches that we still have. Today, he turns it around and tells you that you are a living letter that the world reads by the way you live your life.
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are Christ’s letter, delivered by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God — not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
Near and Dear to His Heart
What a great image. The Corinthians are likened to a letter written by Christ, on the heart of Paul, that have been read by everyone. As much as these people were a thorn in the flesh to him, they are near and dear to his heart. He has poured his life out for them, and he is proud of the work that Jesus has done in their hearts and the church. The world has taken notice, and he is proud of the work he has done.
It’s good to picture the people that you are ministering to as writing a letter. What you teach them and how you love them tells those who are watching a story. What story do you want to tell? That is determined by what you pour into those God has given you to minister. Just as a wordsmith carefully chooses the words he uses to paint a beautiful picture, so do we when we decide what to teach. Next time you are with them, picture that in your mind
You Are a Living Letter
What is the world reading about your life? Do you speak of the Gospel of Jesus Christ when others read you? Are you writing on the hearts of others, or is there a trail of broken relationships? You can start a new chapter today. Start by going to Jesus and asking for him to forgive your sins and then clean your life up. Let Him write the Gospel on your heart so that others can read it.