Has God ever made a promise to you? Have you spent years waiting for God to keep his promise, begging him to reassure you that the promise was from him? Have you tested God's promises repeatedly? Many of us have waited for God to keep his promises. We must simply sit in his presence and sit and soak in his love. He calls to us in the silence.
In the reading from 2 Corinthians 1:12-22, Paul tells us that God has said, "Yes!" to each and every one of us from the beginning of time. It has been spoken to every generation through promise after promise, and the answer has always been "Yes!" That "Yes!" is summed up in one word-Jesus.
Every person's life emits a scent that either repels or attracts. For Christians, that fragrance should be that of Christ-the sweet, lingering aroma of life, love and salvation. It's sweeter than any mint we'll ever get from staying in a high class hotel. Because we are living testimonies of Christ's love, we must present the word of God in a responsible manner. To do otherwise hinders the spread of the Gospel.
Paul presented the Gospel simply, without boasting. He was able to do this because of God's grace. Because of God's grace, we are set free to meet the needs of others. Because of God's grace, we are anointed. We are set apart and gifted by God for the calling he has given each and every one of us.
Every day we have to sift through the muck and mire of empty words to find some real substance, integrity and faith. Paul hah to defend his decisions in 2 Corinthians 1 by claiming he was a man of his word because of the integrity found in being a follower of Jesus. Can God trust us when we are alone with the door closed and shades pulled? Integrity means that we are the same people in or outside the spotlight. It doesn't mean perfection. It means authenticity, consistency and an undivided life.
Paul's answer to the Corinthians' criticism is a picture of how we as Christians must have integrity in our ministry. They criticized him for changing his travel plans, but they forgot that in 1 Corinthians 16:7, Paul qualified his plans with the words, "if the Lord permits." They forgot (as we sometimes do) that as Christians God's will has to take priority in our lives and in our plans. We must make sure that our integrity shows in everything we do, say or think.
We have a warning system that kicks in when we do something wrong. It's called a conscience. It allows us to consider our motives and actions and make moral evaluations of what is right and wrong. In order for it to work as God designed it, it must be informed to the highest moral and spiritual level and best standard. That means submitting our conscience to God's Word. The life of every genuine believer is verified by the divine works we are able to do because of our conscience.
God sent the Holy Spirit to live with us as a down payment on the whole package of salvation. Once he starts the work of salvation, he will complete it. We can take God at his word. When he makes a promise, he keeps it! God is always for us. He loves us and cares for us. He knows the problems we face. He has a great plan for each of our lives, but in order for us to follow the plan, we need to have the Holy Spirit.
When you were children, were you fascinated with "invisible" writing? That was a time when children got some tissue paper, dipped pens in citric acid, and scribbled what seemed to be invisible lettering. When the tissue was held close to a light bulb, the writing was visible briefly. After a short period of time the writing disappeared.
Christ is our eraser. We write the sorry, shabby records of our lives on the thin tissues of life. We hope that they are invisible to our neighbours, but they are still there. Who will take it away? Christ will. There is warm heat in his light. All that is written is clearly visible. Nothing can blur what we have written, but the warmth of Christ's light dries up this writing. God makes it possible for us to believe in him. He gears his self-disclosures to our levels of intelligence, needs and acceptance.
Religion without the Holy Spirit is fruitless. God doesn't force us to obey him. He wants us to obey him willingly. The Holy Spirit comes in and empowers us to obey him in every way. When we are genuinely submissive to him, he supernaturally reshapes and redirects our lives, and we will be lead into conformity to his will. God's "Yes!" can only be received with thankfulness and joy. It is given to us freely and without preconditions like a giant Christmas present wrapped in rainbow coloured paper. Once we receive it, there is something expected of us. Stewardship is the beginning of that response.
The main part of that response is to believe God, not just believe in God. God wants us to believe his promises through Christ and to trust in God's generosity of grace, mercy, love and forgiveness every day of our lives. God doesn't want out part time love and obedience. He wants our full time love and obedience.
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