For the past two posts, I have been sharing what I've been learning in reading through 2 Corinthians. I admit that this book of the Bible is filled with hard truth. It is the stuff that convicts our hearts and makes us ponder. It has been a good journey for me to be challenged rather than resting on my laurels.
I can see that while I've been recuperating, God has had a purpose in pulling me aside and making me use my "down" time to go deeper into His Word. It's made me realize, that as I become more mobile, I still desperately need time for rest, rejuvenation, and just drawing close to Him and seeing what He would have me learn in order that I might bask in His love and continue to grow.
It's interesting, that after the hard hitting truth, Paul ends this book with a rather upbeat exhortation to the disciples and the church at Corinth. Leave it to Paul to always end on a note of encouragement and the "Basics of Discipleship".
Here are two versions of the same passage of scripture: (2 Corinthians 13:11)
"Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you."
"Finally, brothers, rejoice. Become mature, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you."
I would say that these positive, upbeat, definite choices are like the "Cliff Notes of Discipleship". We all like a short-cut, so let's take a look:
1. Joy/Rejoice: Choose joy, and what better way to do that than to look around and rejoice in the Truth that God has shared with you. "This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it." Look around, right now, and find something or someone for which you can rejoice.
2. Growth/Become Mature: God tells us that we are to "grow up" into the head which is Christ. We can no longer rest behind the excuse of "this is how God made me so you're just going to have to live with it". God wants us to be continually open to growing and maturing as believers. That means putting off what's old and embracing the new creation that we are.
3. Encouragement/Be Encouraged: Do you believe that you are "Beloved", "Holy", "Chosen"?? Well you are. Even if you don't "feel" this way - feelings lie. The facts in the Truth of the Bible tell us, time and time again, about the lovingkindness that God wants to lavish upon us simply because we are His.
4. Harmony/Be of the Same Mind: Don't be divisive or stir the pot. If these aren't words for today, I don't know what are. Be of the same mind as God, and seek to live in harmony with Him and with others (believers and unbelievers).
5. Peace/Be at Peace: Easier said than done at times, but I believe this is one of the greatest desires of God for our souls. I think that's why he bids us to "Come" so many times in the Bible. I know for me, the only way I can find peace is if I truly lay it ALL at the foot of the cross. When I pick it up and carry it - it's Pride. When I lay it down and give it over to God, I find Peace.
This is a list, however, that we need to choose.
This is a list that moves us closer to God's heart....to a place where we can crawl into His lap, rest our weary head on His chest, hear His heartbeat of love for us, and simply breathe. Let go....and breathe....
This is a short-cut to the very heart of God.
and....it comes with a promise....
"The God of love and peace will be with you." Amen!
If your life is feeling out of joint, disconnected from God, searching but unable to find the destination, will you give it a try?? Close to God's heart - that's certainly where I want and need to be.
Are you feeling like you are close to God's heart or far away? Which of the 5 points above do you feel like God is calling you to choose today? How would your life look different if, one by one, you chose these short-cuts to God's heart?
Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you and thank you that you always include encouragement in your Truth. Thank you for these upbeat and positive exhortations that Paul's words offer to me as your disciple. Help me to embrace joy, growth, encouragement, harmony, and peace. You gladly offer them....let me choose them for myself. Thank you that you never give up on me and that you always lead me back to your loving heart for me. I praise you that I am beloved, holy, and chosen. Enable me to live in that reality and if I'm not there right now, pull me into you and your love and allow me to experience your peace and breathe....In Jesus' precious name I pray, Amen.
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