Thursday, January 31, 2008

Labor in Vain?

1Thes 3:5
For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. (KJV)

1 Cor 15:2
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (KJV)

Gal 4:11
I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. (KJV)

In what respect could the Apostle Paul's labor among these people be in vain?

Surely it would never be a vain thing to preach the Gospel.
For even if the hearers did not respond by accepting Christ as Saviour, the responsibility of the preacher is to preach, not to force conversion. the Word of God never goes forth in vain; for whether it result in souls being saved, or in the lost being warned, it does accomplish its purpose.

Neither is it a vain thing to lead souls to Christ.
The Bible is clear that nothing can separate the Christian from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

But the preacher does have a legitimate "fear" that after having preached and trained and taught a congregation of God's people the word of God that they would not use what they have learned for God's glory.
No wonder Paul says he could no longer forbear! His experience had been that the tempter would be after his converts quickly after their conversion. He knew that the world, the flesh and the devil would do their best to lure the believers away from an effective active life of seeking the Lord.

Paul had seen too many slip away, having loved the things of this world to not be concerned for those he had poured so much of his ministry into.

We cannot lose our salvation, but we can become useless to the cause of Jesus Christ.

Lord, forbid it among us!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

But Not Forever

1 Kings 11:9-10
And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,
And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.

1 Kings 11:39
And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever.

I can't help but think of1 Corinthians 10:12
Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Solomon had as much going for him as any man could have. Besides the example and training of his father, God had appeared to him twice AND had given him incredible wisdom. Solomon made the mistakes he did with eyes wide open, yet he was till blinded into sin.

If Solomon could fall in the ways he did we can be sure the same could happen to us all. And it makes it that much more important that we,
Matt 26:41
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: ..... (KJV)

And then, there is this wonderful consolation I find in the very same chapter. Though Solomon willfully sinned against the Lord; and though God determined to bring judgment because of it, still the Lord said, "... but not forever."

There is, in almost every page of God's Word, some promise of grace and mercy. Praise God that, though He judges, when we come to Jesus Christ, that judgment is "not forever."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Our "Ascent" to the House

1 Kings 10:5
And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her.

Among the other things that the Queen of Sheba was impressed with was "the ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord."

This could be speaking simply of the beauty of the steps to the house themselves. John Gill says of those steps that they, "...were so curiously devised, and so artificially wrought, that it gave the queen, among other things, a sensible proof of his great wisdom, as well as of his religion and piety."

But I thought of the Psalms of ascent that the Jews used to sing on their way to the house of the Lord to prepare themselves for the worship. Could it be that the thing that impress the Queen so was not the physical steps to the Temple, but the spiritual attitude that Solomon demonstrated on his way to the house of the Lord?

There is a lot of difference between coming to a religious service and coming to meet the Lord. I wonder how many of us miss the Lord altogether at church because we have taken the whole experience too casually. Solomon, remember, had just received a second vision and promise from the Lord in just the chapter previous to this. When a person knows God is at His house, surely his "ascent" to that house will reflect it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Our Master In Heaven

Colossians 4:1
Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

"...Ye also have a Master..."

The Master referred to if the Lord in heaven. It is wise for all of us, not matter what our position to remember we have a Master in heaven.

Every decision we make ought to go through our Master in heaven
Every place we go ought to go through our Master in heaven
Every word we say ought to please our Master in heaven
Every thing we watch ought to be approved through our Master in heaven

Regardless of our standing; if we have a high rank or a more lowly one so far as the things of the earth are concerned, still we have a Master in heaven and that one fact should never leave our thoughts.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Order; a Beautiful Sight

Colossians 2:5
For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.

Although Paul could not be with this church on a continual basis, God having given him an itinerant ministry which involved much travel, still Paul's love and concern for this church never flagged or failed. From a distance he kept an eye on what was happening there. Paul says there were two specific things that brought joy to him in relationship to this church

First, their order
Second, the stedfastness of their faith


My thoughts this morning turned to their order. God's Word tells us that God is interested in order in the church.

John Gill's commentary says of this verse
"....the order of their church discipline, they having regular officers, pastors, and deacons, ordained among them; who rightly performed their offices, and had respect and subjection yielded to them; the ordinances of the Gospel were duly administered, and constantly attended on; the members of the church were watched over, admonitions given, and censures laid where they were necessary, and everything was done decently and in order; which was a beautiful sight, and gave the apostle an uncommon pleasure. "

To see a church working as a church is supposed to is a beautiful sight in the eyes, not only of the Apostle, but of the God who inspired him to pen these words.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Thank the Father

Colossians 1:13-14
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

This is a simple but profound passage concerning the work that God the Father has done for us:

He has delivered us from the power of darkness
What a blessing it is to know that I am no longer under the domination of those powers.

He has translated us into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ
The word translated means "carried away. God has transported us carried us out of this world and placed us already into the Kingdom of Christ. We are as good as in heaven.

He has redeemed us through His blood
The word redeemed means to purchase. We have been bought out of the slave market of sin by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross

We have every reason to give thanks unto the Father and when things overwhelm us we need to purposely think on these things and give Him thanks.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The King's Friend

1 Kings 4:1-5
So king Solomon was king over all Israel.
And these were the princes which he had; Azariah the son of Zadok the priest,
Elihoreph and Ahiah, the sons of Shisha, scribes; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, the recorder.
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the host: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests:
And Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers: and Zabud the son of Nathan was principal officer, and the king's friend:


Here is a list of Solomon's cabinet. These are the closest helpers to the king and politically the most powerful men in the kingdom. These men have a long history of leadership in Israel. Many of them have suffered alongside Solomon's father, David. Most of them have served both David and now Solomon. Some of them have leadership bread into them as they are not only men who had served King David, but whose fathers were his servants as well.

But there is one man in this group that stands out to me. The Bible says of Zabud that he was "principal officer" and that he was "the king's friend." Of all of these who served alongside him. Of all of these whose history and service had been exemplary, the Bible says of only one that he was "the king's friend." This makes him a key man not only in his leadership role but also in his role of encourager to the king. Everyone needs a friend.

Come to think of it, if we never hold roles of high authority, but we can be a true friend to another person we have likely done more than all the people of position combined. Especially if we are a friend to one whose position requires him to lead, to be that man's friend is a place of huge importance.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Small Things Cloud The Bigger Ones

1 Kings 2:38
And Shimei said unto the king, The saying is good: as my lord the king hath said, so will thy servant do. And Shimei dwelt in Jerusalem many days.

Shimei's story is one of grace and of warning. This is a man who could have been executed by King David on more than one occasion but David granted him mercy. Still, the crime of Shimei had revealed something in his heart that, though he had been forgiven of casting stones at David, had not been resolved. David warned Solomon about him and Solomon wisely granted Shimei mercy conditioned on his faithfulness.

He was granted grace to live without fear of punishment
He was granted the grace to build a home in Jerusalem


Shimei agreed that Solomon's mercy was good and Shimei followed the plan for many days. Three whole years Shimei dwelt in Jerusalem, obeying the restrictions placed upon his life. But then, in an act that was less than merciful, Shimei fell from mercy himself.

Shimei let something of lesser importance blind him of that which had the greater importance. And it cost him his life.

There is a huge lesson for us in this same text because we can often do something of very similar nature.

We take for granted the grace that has been extended to us
We forget the standards that God has placed upon us and
We allow something that is little in its eternal consequence scar our walk with God.


Living for God is a lifetime proposition. Let us never take His grace for granted.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Holding Forth the Word of Life

Philippians 2:15-16
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.


We shine as lights in this world when we hold forth the Word of Life; which has two wonderful connotations.

First, Jesus Christ is the Living Word of Life.
As Christians there is nothing we may do that is a brighter testimony to this world that to hold forth Jesus Christ.
It is ours to tell the world of Him
It is ours to reveal Christ through our own living testimony and
It is ours to let Christ live through us


Secondly, the Bible is the written Word of Life
And as such we hold it forth through proclaiming it.
Both in the pulpits of the world and to every person as we meet them in our daily courses of business, we may proclaim God's Word in a way that will expose every man and woman to the light of it's glorious message.

No one runs in vain who runs with the Word of God held forth

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Furtherance of the Gospel

Philippians 1:12
But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;

Most of us do not have the same experiences as the Apostle Paul.
Most of us have not been jailed for our testimony
Most of us have not been able to use that jail time to write Bible
Most of us have not seen the numbers of souls saved that Paul has through his continued ministry

But all of us who are Christians can relate to have things happen to us. Some of those things may be directly related to our faith; some of them may be simply things that happen to all human beings in life. However, it is possible that the Lord would use all of the things that happen to us for the furtherance of the gospel. And, if we would take that kind of attitude, we would find that those things that happen to us would not be so overwhelming to us.

It would be wise, godly and healthy for us if we chose to let those things that happen to us in life, fall out rather to the furtherance of the gospel.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Be Strong

Ephesians 6:10
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

The word finally in this verse could almost be seen as a sum instead of a finish. The Apostle was not finished with his instruction, but this one verse sums up both what had come before and what would come after.

Gill says of the strength in the Lord and in the power of His might, "...there is strength in him, which is communicable to them, they may expect it from him, and depend upon it; and they may come at, or strengthen themselves in it, and by it, by meditation on it, by prayer for it, by waiting on Christ in his own ways, by exercising faith upon him, and through the Spirit, who strengthens them from him with might in the inward man."

The power of Christ's might is communicable [available] to us. It is not some illusive hope. It is readily available and we can expect it, depend upon it, and take courage because of it. It is available to us
By meditation on it - as we consider the promise of this strength we find it
By praying for it - ye have not because ye ask not
By waiting on Christ - this is leaning on the Lord
By exercising faith for it - believing the Lord will give it and
Through the Spirit of God - who indwells every Christian

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Be Light

Ephesians 5:11-14
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

My key thought is in verse 13 and the words, "...for whatsoever doth make manifest is light."

God has called us as believers to make manifest. Our task in this world is to expose the darkness and bring it into the light of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whenever we do that Ephesians says we are light.

I sometimes wonder about the Christian who can feel more comfortable around a lost man than a believer; especially if that lost man feels perfectly comfortable around him. If we are not light, then we are likely not saved. It is true that our light may be hid, but light has a way of getting out and when it does it always reproves the darkness.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Till We Come

January 18, 2008

Ephesians 4:11-13
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:


The work of the pastor aside, this passage teaches a great deal about what ought to be the heartbeat of every Christian; to "come...unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."

Anything less than that is to fall short in our Christian experience.

God provided in the earliest days of the churches, both apostles and prophets were the earliest laborers in establishing the movement of planting churches in the world. Neither of these offices is in existence today as the office of the apostle died with the last of the twelve, and Paul says of the prophet,
1 Cor 13:8
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. (KJV)

Evangelists may have been those laborers alongside the prophets as were Timothy, Barnabas, Silas, Luke and etc. The closest we have to them today would be the church planting missionaries whose work is to establish new churches where one is not found today.

Pastors and teachers are those who stay with a church and labor to build them in the Lord. The Evangelists job would have been to begin the process of spiritual maturity in the church. The pastor and the teacher's job is to maintain that growth.

It is possible then for Christians to grow and to come to a position of maturity in the things of God.

God grant that it be so in my life and in the life of our church.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Breadth Length Depth Height

Ephesians 3:18
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

This concept is of such magnitude that I wonder if anyone would ever really be able to plumb all the dimensions of the glories of the Lord.

Gill says, "…the love of God, which in its length reaches from one eternity to another;
in its breadth to all the elect, in all ages, places, and nations; and in its depth to saints in the lowest state of life; and in its height to bring them to an exalted state in glory."

This is likely the sum of seeking Him; to search out
The breadth of God's love in saving the lost
The length of God's love as enduring forever
The depth of God love to reach to the lowest sort and
The height of God's love to prepare for them a mansion in heaven

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nigh Is No Closer Than Far

Ephesians 2:17-18
And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.


Both those who are far from God (the Gentiles) and those that were nigh to God (the Jews) have been given the same access to salvation and the Father by the Holy Spirit and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

I was thinking today that far is no further than nigh and nigh is no closer than far when it comes to salvation. Lost is lost. The person who is religious is no closer to God than the person who is immersed in sin. The worst of sinners is no less capable of being immediately saved than the one who tries hard to please God but does so in his own power.

But through the Lord Jesus Christ all have the very same access to the Lord and to salvation. No one is excluded. No one is so terrible that they could not be saved in a moment if, by the conviction of the Holy Ghost, they come to the cross of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Heavenly Places

Ephesians 1:20
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

One day we will be blessed to be with Christ in "the heavenly places."

What places those must be! Revelation describes the New Jerusalem and all of the glories that are a part of it. The description is of such beauty that one can only imagine what the sights must be.

Here he speaks not only of a heavenly place but places. As in more than one
There is the heavenly place that is the throne of God
There is the heavenly place that composes the glassy sea
There is the heavenly place that would be the New Jerusalem
There will be far more heavenly places than these.


What a day that will be when we are with him in those heavenly places.

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Creature?

Galatians 6:15
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

This is a passage that deserves deep and thorough thought from each of us.

It is a wonderful principle.
Salvation is not the work of the flesh. There is no good deed I must do in order to be saved. There is no choice or decision I must make. It is not an act of the will that saves. Salvation is completely a work of the grace of God in man.
The blessing here is that since it is not an act of my will, I cannot lose this salvation through a later act of my will.

But this is also a frightening principle.
Salvation is not a work of the flesh. It is not an act of the will. I cannot do anything to deserve it. I cannot wish it upon myself. If I am to be saved it must be through an act of God whereby He makes me a new creature and not just a reformed one.

I wonder how many there are in our world who believe they will go to heaven because of some choice or decision they made whenever they made it, but who are still lost because they are not new creatures?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

He hath made us kings

2 Samuel 7:14-15
I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.

This is a wonderful promise from God and, though it is specifically given to David and his son Solomon, still there is New Testament evidence enough to claim this same promise for the believers today

I will be his and he shall be my son
John 1:12
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (KJV)


If he commit iniquity I will chasten him
Heb 12:7
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (KJV)


But my mercy shall not depart away from him
Heb 13:5
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (KJV)

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Scripture, Foreseeing

Galatians 3:8
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

I loved that phrase, "...the scripture foreseeing..." Some claim that fundamental Bible believers place too much in the Bible; that we deify it. This passage does the very same thing.

It ascribes personality to the Scriptures.
Inanimate objects can't see, let alone foresee.

It ascribes deity to the Scriptures
To see is personal, to foresee is supernatural. God alone can foresee.

It ascribes salvation to the Scriptures
It is the message that Scripture foresees and forth tells that must be received and accepted if any man or woman would be saved from sin.

What a miracle is our Bible. Though the cover and paper may wear away in time, the message is preserved inerrant and perfect from generation to generation.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Grace of God

Galatians 2:21
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

This is one of the most plain passages in all of the Bible.

Righteousness cannot come from obeying the Old Testament law
If it could then the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ would have been useless
To attempt to mix faith in Christ and obeying the law for righteousness is to frustrate (or throw away) the grace of God


Thank God for His grace! It is all that we ever will need and it has the absolute power to transform a life to the glory of God.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

When Bad Things Happen

1 Samuel 30:1-4
And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;
And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.
So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.
Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.


1 Samuel 31:2
And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul's sons.

I placed these two verses together because they seem to imply the same truth. Good people have bad things happen to them too.

David was a good man, yet while he and his men were away his own family (and the families of his men) were attacked and taken captive. Jonathan was a good friend of David. He had covenanted with him that when David was king he would be at his side. Yet Jonathan died in battle as well as his father.

Yesterday I had lunch with my son, Bohannan. Bo commented that when bad things happen they can be classified in one of three groups.
Sometimes it is the chastening of the Lord
Sometimes it happens to teach us something
Sometimes it happens just because the "rain falls on the just and on the unjust."


I would add to that that many times God allows a believer to go through a difficult time simply because there is someone else going through that difficult time who will need the encouragement and support they can get from a Christian who trusts God through it.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Same Spirit

2 Corinthians 12:18
I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?

This is really quite a statement when a person thinks about it. Paul was confident is asking the Corinthians to consider the manner and spirit of Titus and see if it was not the same type of spirit as Paul had.
This is not so much the spirit of God as it refers to the type of heart that Paul had. Church services have a "spirit."
Sometimes there will be a spirit of excitement in the services.
Sometimes the spirit will be one of anticipation.
Sometimes a service will have a depressed spirit.

In the same manner different people have different types of spirits.
Some are always down
Some are negative
Some are up and excited
Some are intense

Paul's spirit in Corinth was that he would not be burdensome to them. He was not there to take from them but to give. His desire was to be helpful to be like a parent laying up for his children. And Paul was so sure that Titus' spirit was the same that he challenged the Corinthians to examine the two spirits and see if they were not the same.

I desire that in our church. While each member of the church has his or her own personality and I would not want to take that away, still I would like to see us have
The same spirit of care for souls.
The same spirit of desire to know and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ
The same spirit of love for the church God has placed us in.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Casting Down Imaginations

2 Corinthians 10:5
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

I had never seen this before, but this is what Paul says he does in those he ministers to. The verse does not necessarily encourage believers to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ but that that is what Paul as the preacher did.

He, through the power of God working in him
Pulled down strong holds in people's minds and lives
Cast down imaginations and etc that exalted itself against God
Brought into captivity the thoughts of his congregation to the obedience of Christ

The context has to do with the authority of the Apostle and with his exercising of it. Paul asserts that his authority is not in the flesh (carnal) but mighty through God and thus he was both confident and bold in controlling the thoughts of his hearers.

I am sure every Christian can make an application in their own lives and claim that our weapons are not carnal too.
I am sure every Christians should bring their thoughts into captivity and obedience to Christ

But
I am also sure that preachers must practice this in their pulpits as well.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Sufficiency

2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

This chapter has to be taken with chapter eight, where the Apostle said
2 Corinthians 8:2
How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

2 Corinthians 8:9
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

2 Corinthians 8:14
But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:

Sufficiency may be given in times of affliction, poverty and want. God has riches in store for us that are far greater than physical ease comfort and wealth. When we hoard these things of the world we forsake the riches of God;
Peace
Joy
Contentment
But when we count the riches of this world as dung; then and only then are we set to receive the true riches of God; knowing Him and the power of His resurrection.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Love Is Won

1 Samuel 18:16
But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.

First I see the means by which David won the love of both Israel and Judah; he went out and came in before them. In others words he was with them. He did not hide himself away but stayed visible as one of them.
They could speak to him
They could see him in the affairs of his life and see that his testimony was right
They could watch him in the battle and see that he had faith in God


Love is won through fellowship and contact, not through lording above others.

But then I am reminded that, when Saul's jealousy of David arose the majority of these people turned against David. Even after Saul had died and David was anointed the king of Israel, there were still, all of David's life, those who resented and turned against him whenever opportunity presented itself. It is wonderful to have the love of others. But it is most important to have the love and blessing of God. He is the only One whose love cannot fail us.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Joyful in Tribulation

2 Corinthians 7:4
Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.

My mind was struck with those words, "...I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation." Paul had spent several chapters to this point expressing the types of tribulations he had experienced in the ministry. Though through those passages he had repeatedly made reference to his confidence, trust and sufficiency in Christ, here he exclaims in superlative fashion that he was exceeding joyful not only despite the tribulations he experienced but in the tribulations he experienced.

I am sure he does not mean that he was joyful about the tribulations but he was still joyful; And not only joyful but exceeding joyful.

This is a truth we must get in touch with today. So many Christians are not joyful even with all of the trappings this world can give them. We have
Money
Peace
Job security and
Creature comforts
And yet we are unhappy in life. We are missing something Paul had. I am convinced it is in the fact that Paul's relationship with Christ was not earthly based, but heavenly. The trouble with Christianity today is that we see it as a solution for worldly problems and not as a hope for the future. We practice Christianity as a fix-all for our worldly life and view heaven as the cherry on the top of the goody.

But whether we or successful in worldly living or we have a life filled with trouble, if we view our faith as primarily helping life today we will find it comes short. Only when we see the primary view of the faith as heaven and this earth as a ministry toward heaven; only when our chief concern is the reward in heaven, will we find we can be exceeding joyful today.