Proverbs 4 5-4-20

Dying to self and living for Christ is what Christianity is all about. If we want heaven on earth, we need Christ living in us.

26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.

Sometimes, the Monday morning blahs get us. It’s hard to move beyond our feelings. This is the time when all of our Bible study comes in handy as we remember that this world is not our home (yet), Jesus is the Leader of our lives, and our feelings can’t be trusted. Today’s chapter tells us to “guard our hearts above all else [keep them on a short leash], for everything we do flows out of it.” v23. In other words, our hearts act as amplifiers for our feelings; we tend to act out of our feelings; therefore, our hearts guide our actions–when it doesn’t really do any thinking! Instead of following our hearts (and our feelings), let’s base our actions on what we know to be true according to the Word of God.

THE FACTS:

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 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. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Christ died for all so that through Him, we might die to these bodies of sin and be raised to walk in newness of life with him. We owe Him our lives, therefore, we do not live for ourselves anymore, but for Him.

THE TRANSFORMATION:

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way [as just a man], we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new is here! 

To live for Christ is to have His attitude and His mission. As we regard Christ, we find that He has awakened our Spirits from the dead and we CAN! We no longer think the way we used to. When we look at our sinful lives and are repulsed by them, we can be sure that it is the Spirit in us that has given us this point of view. Therefore, we take on Christ’s continued mission.

THE MISSION:

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

This appeal is our ministry, our goal, and our task. The confusing part is that God allows us to be put in interesting-if not extreme- circumstances for our lights to shine. Evidently, we shine best in the face of hardship, sickness, and persecution. Paul is a shining example of these.

THE EXAMPLE:

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name. Acts 9:15-16

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

When we walk through hard times, whether financially, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, we can trust the Lord that He is putting us on display for others to watch. How we respond/react to our circumstances reveals how much of today’s lesson we have learned. Do we step back and realize that God has a purpose for what we are going through or do we try to get back to our normal as quickly as possible? Do we give thanks in all things, or do we complain and throw a pity party? Holding a tight rein on our hearts is imperative as we go to the Father and receive from His hand our daily bread. Let’s take Paul’s perspective on his circumstances.

THE PERSPECTIVE:

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves [put ourselves on display] in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 2 Corinthians 6:3-5, 8-10

The Quarantine has been good for us spiritually on several levels. Let’s continue the good work that the Holy Spirit is doing in us. Let’s give thanks, endure hardship with patient faith, and display Christ in our lives at every turn.

Abba, may I follow my own advice. Move in my heart today. Amen.

LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. Isaiah 33:2

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