"…your zeal has stirred up most of them." 2 Corinthians 9:2, ESV
Did you know that you could be a spark plug for others? Your zeal, passion and excitement can be a catalyst that stirs other people up. Zeal is contagious!
In this passage in 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul was talking about the zeal the Corinthians had for generous giving – and this same principle can be applied to many things. When we are passionate, fervent, pumped, excited, moved and zealous for godly things – it ignites others.
What are you zealous for? Don’t bottle that zeal up. Don’t suppress it. Don’t be neutral. Don’t quench the zeal – let it out!
Today – why not throw some of your cool, laid-back dignity out the window and just be zealous for life and the Lord! Let your zeal for the Lord be a spark plug to inspire others around you!
“Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11, AMP)
Say This: “Father, today I throw off the temptation to be too cool, laid-back and dignified. I am passionate, pumped, excited and zealous for the Lord and His House. I pray that You use me to be the type of person who is a spark-plug and a catalyst for things that matter to You for those around me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
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"…your zeal has stirred up most of them." 2 Corinthians 9:2, ESV
"For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations." Psalm 100:5, NKJV
When I was in Bible School, one of our instructors used to say when it came to interpreting scripture, “Always stay on God’s side.”
He was wisely telling us that there would be times in life when we would begin to question certain scriptures, question our faith, and even the occasions when we would have more questions than we did answers. But he reminded us to always stay on the side of God, knowing that the Lord is good—all the time! So, let’s break this verse down into its three foundational components:
(1) The Lord is good.
God is good and He is good all the time. Is that just a fun saying or is that a reality that we can build our lives on? I’d say it’s the most important of these three foundational components of this verse. Jesus came to do His Father’s will. In fact, He said that He only did what He saw His Father doing, and what He did was good, and it was good all the time.
It’s hard to dispute that when we read Acts 10:38, which says, “…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (NKJV) Did you notice what the power of God caused Jesus to do? It caused Him to do good – and to do good all the time.
So whatever you’re facing today, you need to know this: God is working behind the scenes for you and His work is good. So stay on God’s side.
(2) His mercy is everlasting.
This second component is also very important to get deep down into your soul. God is merciful and His mercy outlasts anything you could ever do. When you and I deserved judgment for our sin, God sent mercy in the form of His Son on the cross. When the woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus, her accusers wanted judgment but Jesus offered mercy. God’s power to overcome our failures is without end. “Everlasting” simply means that God’s mercy is perpetual, it literally has no vanishing point, it never wavers and will never go away. God’s mercy will always always always be there for us, without question and without end. Lamentations 3:23 speaks of God’s mercy when it says, “They (His mercies) are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (NASB)
Today is a new day, so if you’ve blown it, simply ask God for mercy and it will be yours. God’s mercy is available to you today. So stay on God’s side.
(3) His truth endures to all generations.
What’s truth? What is truth to one person may not be truth to another. The only thing that we can ever really put our trust in is the Word of God. People change, fads come and go, opinions differ, and facts change but God’s Word always stays the same and we can build our lives upon that truth. Jesus said in John 8:32, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (NKJV) God’s Word can really change the way we live if we’ll just believe it and put it into practice.
Knowing that God is good, that His mercy endures forever, and that His truth (His Word) is everlasting is a huge revelation that I hope you spend the day meditating on. Because when you do, it will help you through everything and anything that you may face. So remember to always stay on God’s side, because He will always stay on your side.
Say It: “Father, I thank You for being good to me. Thank You for extending your mercy to me when I’ve blown it and let you down. Thank You for the truth of Your Word, and as I grow in my knowledge of that truth, it will make me free. I choose today to stay on Your side. In Jesus’ Name. Amen!”
"A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24, NKJV
Isn’t it great to have friends who really care about your life and invest themselves in your friendship? But, you’ve probably figured out by now that friendships aren’t easy, and on top of that, they always cost something. But, there is a great return on the investment—it’s called a full and satisfying life. Here are a few thoughts today about investing in friendships:
(1) Friends usually see the good things in you that you don’t always see in yourself. Isn’t it awesome that your friends just like you because…they like you? Even on those days that you don’t like yourself? I believe that God brings us friends as a way to remind us that He likes us too.
(2) Friends take an interest in your life and they make sure that the things that matter to you, matter to them.
(3) Friends will defend you when other people say bad things about you. They always see the best in you because they believe in you. I love how today’s verse says that there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. You see a brother is your brother no matter if things are good or bad, up or down – you’re just stuck being your brother. Well that’s what a good friend will be. When others abandon you, they’ll be there.
(4) Friends would rather stay up late and talk all night than sleep because they cherish the time they get to have with you.
(5) Friends would rather buy something for you than buy something for themselves because they value you and your friendship.
(6) Friendships take lots of time to develop, and to have good friendships requires a commitment from both parties. Strong relationships can’t be microwaved; they need time in the crock-pot. So find ways to connect regularly with your friends by phone, email, over coffee, or through a dinner or lunch once a month. Do whatever it takes. It won’t be wasted time.
(7) Friends will help you laugh till you cry. They’ll give you their ear when you just need to talk through something that is important. They’ll even help you pick up the pieces when your life seems to be falling down around you. Why? Because they are your friend.
So, how are you doing? What friendships do you need to be cultivating in your life? Go ahead – make that phone call, send that email and invest in your friendships today. Remember, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Don’t wait another minute; it’s so worth the cost!
Say It: “Father, thank You for the friends that You have brought into my life. Help me to develop even more friends than I already have. I declare by faith that my life is full and rich in friendships. Who would you like me to reach out to today to invest in their friendship? I ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
"For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, where he has enough to finish it?" Luke 14:28, NKJV
Can I be honest with you? I don’t always feel like coming to work or staying late to finish a project or meeting with someone who needs advice - but because these are my responsibilities, I do it anyways. Ever felt similarly? If and when you do, you’ve got to ask yourself the question, “How bad do I want to fulfill God’s will and God’s purpose in my life? How bad do I want it?” In Luke 14:28, Jesus wasn’t just talking about a physical building, He was talking about counting the cost of building a life of significance.
It seems like many of us aren’t willing to admit that the reason we didn’t make the team, get that promotion or the reason that we aren’t moving forward in life is that we aren’t willing to put forth the effort and do the hard stuff. Doing the hard stuff means that there are times when everyone else has gone home that we stay after hours and get our work done. Isn’t it time for us to start counting the cost? How hard are you willing to work at life? Here’s something to consider—No one is going to work harder for your success than you are. Not your boss, not your peers and certainly not those who work for you. It reminds me of an old saying, “If it’s going to be, then it’s up to me.” Now I am not discounting God in all of this, but really, do we think God’s going to work hard for our success if we aren't? He’s the Redeemer of the lost, not the Rescuer of the lazy. Let’s count the cost!
If we’re ever going to fulfill God’s will for our lives then we need to count the cost. Have you figured out yet that living for Jesus is going to cost you something? And if you’re going to be a success in life it’s going to cost you even more? A friend of mine once said, “Everything that I value in my life has cost me something.” It reminds me of that verse in Galatians 6:7 (NKJV), “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” In other words, whatever we put into life will cost us something; but there is a payback, a reaping based on the degree of our efforts.
My wife, Beth, is by far the hardest working person that I have ever known, and I know a lot of people. There may be people out there that want to enjoy the benefits that Beth enjoys, but they don’t have a clue of how hard she has worked over so many years. Literally, it’s quite common for her to work 16-18 hour days for weeks and months on end. Now that costs something, but the benefit is a very successful and fruitful life. She’s reaping today because she was willing to count the cost and do the hard stuff, even when she didn’t feel like it.
So today, let’s tap into all that God has for us and work a little harder, stay a little later, carry a little more of the load, and honor Jesus Christ by our work ethic and our willingness to do the hard things!
Say It: “Father, I want to make a difference with my life. I’m committed to counting the cost and doing the hard things. I ask You to give me wisdom, insight and strategy to not only work hard, but to work smart. May my life glorify You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen!”
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7, NIV
Have you ever noticed that it's easier to start something than it is to finish it? Finishing is sometimes just hard to do. These words from the Apostle Paul serve as a great reminder that if we're ever going to finish our race, and fulfill God's plan for our lives, then we will need to do two things: Fight for it, and do it by faith!
In studying the life of Paul, I've noticed many principles that will help all of us to not only start strong, but to finish strong as well. One we’ll look at today is this: “Know Your Purpose.”
The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that God has placed within our hearts a "divinely implanted sense of a purpose." (Eccl. 3:11, AMP) Paul understood his purpose, and he knew what guided his life. He described how it happened as he stood before King Agrippa, explaining his dramatic encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus: "So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.'" (Acts 26:15-16, NKJV)
Paul was just doing his own thing, living for his own purpose, and then Jesus stepped in and interrupted his life. The first thing Jesus told him to do was to "stand up." We are never going to finish our race sitting down. It's going to take effort, and not just any kind of effort; it's going to take everything we've got. Then Jesus told him that he would be a minister and a witness. But notice next that Jesus told Paul that he would be a witness of some things that he had seen—as well as a bunch more that was yet to be revealed. In other words, as you and I start our races, there are a lot of things we aren't going to know, but we'll just have to step out and do it by faith.
So what's your purpose? Why do you exist? What's God's plan for you? Actually, the answer's really simple; and once you "know it," you'll find it's easy to live out. Are you ready? Here it is…the answer to those questions is in two things: To know God and to serve God.
Your first purpose is to know God. Let's take a look at what happened when Jesus selected the twelve apostles: "And He (Jesus) went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons." (Mark 3:13-15, NKJV)
The very first thing that Jesus wanted from His disciples was their time. He understood how important it would be for them to get to know Him personally. He knew that if they were ever going to fulfill their purpose and go out and preach with power that they needed to spend time with Him...just hanging out, getting to know His heart, allowing Him to influence their lives. Like them, our very first purpose is to know God.
Your second purpose is to serve God. Every one of us is unique. There are no two people on the planet who are the same. We each have different passions, desires and even different gifts and talents. "As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." (1 Peter 4:10, NKJV)
Do you see that the gifts that God gives us are not for us, but for others? Then—on top of that—the gifts aren't even ours; we can't even claim them. He tells us that we're just stewards over them. So are you using your gifts to serve others...or yourself? If it's all about you, then you're going to run a lonely race. But, if you're using your gifts to serve others, you'll run a race that's full of friends and full of life—and you'll be empowered to finish your race with joy.
Say This: “Father, thank You for giving me a race to run. I really want to fulfill Your purpose for my life. I want to know You better every day, and I want to serve the people You have placed into my life. Thank You for the gifts that You have given me, and I commit myself to use those gifts to serve others today. In Jesus' Name. Amen."