In 2 Samuel 24:24 we read that King David refused to offer unto God a sacrifice that cost him nothing. A sacrifice that doesn’t cost anything is no real sacrifice at all! In fact, inherent in the definition of sacrifice is the idea of cost. Yet so many today want to give God that which is no sacrifice to them at all. We give God our leftovers, our hand-me-downs, our undesirables, and we expect God in turn to bless us with new and better things.

Have you counted the cost?

Have you counted the cost?

The author C. S. Lewis once wrote concerning giving that “the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”

Without controversy we know that our lives are to be living sacrifices (Romans 12:1–2). That is each day from the first fruits, the best of our hearts, our words, our thoughts, our labors. Doing all to and for the Lord (Colossians 3:23). What was the cost of Jesus’ service to us and to the Father? “I lay down my life” (John 10:15). How is your giving? Be faithful!

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Turmoil, Anxiety, Comfort, Patience

The Comfort of God

Who has not in their lifetime had those dark and trying periods when hope was almost gone? What congregation has not experienced anxiety as turmoil developed between brethren? Evidently, the church at Rome was dealing with all kinds of problems—there were false teachers seeking to Judaize the Gentiles by demanding that they must be circumcised to enter heaven. There was also strife between brothers where the stronger brothers had little compassion for those who were weaker.

Turmoil?  Strong vs. weak?  Little compassion?  What to do?

Turmoil? Strong vs. weak? Little compassion? What to do?

How did God address such turmoil? When Paul gets to the fifteen chapter of Romans he utters this prayer. “May the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like minded toward one another…that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:5-6). How did Paul see that turmoil coming to an end? He turned to God—the One who gives both comfort and patient endurance.

This is where true comfort is found. Paul described God as the God of all comfort, and then said that He “…comforts us in all our troubles (2 Cor. 1:5-6). Pay special attention to that three letter word in this passage. God is not just the One who sometimes comforts us in certain situations—He is the God of all comfort in all our trials.

How does God give us comfort? Look again at Romans chapter fifteen. It is in verse five where God is described as the God of comfort and patience. Look at verse four. “For whatsoever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

To whom do we turn for comfort? It is to God. To where do we turn? It is the Scriptures the God of comfort has given us. You have experienced this in those dark times when you walked through deep valleys, like the valley of the shadow of death. Your soul found relief at such times, and you sang the song given by David. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me” (Psa. 23:3). You sang the psalm and the words from the God of all comfort lifted your soul.

It is not just in those Old Testament passages where comfort is found. When those in Thessalonica were concerned about those brethren who had died, the God of comfort gave His word to them and then added, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18).

So the next time clouds arise and darkness prevails, pick up your Bible. Read the comforting words from the God of all comfort. Meditate on what He says to you, and these words of comfort will bring hope in the midst of the deepest despair.

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Do You Smell Good?

Do You Smell Good?

It’s always fun to travel, at least, I enjoy it, and you never know what is going to happen.  As we were driving on Interstate 30 from Texarkana to New Boston late in the evening (it was around 11:30), we hit a skunk!  Of course, it smelled awful after we first hit it, but then the smell gradually faded, but we must have hit him pretty good because the smell lingered on the car through the weekend, and every time we walked behind the car, we could smell skunk. The skunk has a powerful influence. Yuck!

What is the influence of your fragrance?

What is the influence of your fragrance?

This reminds me of something Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16. I’m quoting from the English Standard Version: “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,  to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?”

As Christians, we give off a fragrance, or aroma.  That aroma comes from the triumph of Christ on the cross, but other people can smell it on us who are Christians. To those who are being saved, it is a sweet smell bringing life, but for those who are perishing it is an awful smell like death.  Unlike that old smelly skunk, we want others smelling Christ on us, seeing our good influence, so that they can glorify God by coming to Christ for salvation.  Let’s give due consideration to our influence and let Christ’s goodness abound in our lives.

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