Posts Tagged ‘Second Epistle to the Corinthians’

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

What did Jesus mean when He said we need to pick up our cross and what does it actually look like to pick it up daily? pickExamining the words of Jesus we see that there are four parts to the equation.  I’ve summarized them with four ‘D’ words: desire, denial, deed, and devotion.

In order to effectively follow Christ, Jesus wants us to know that there is a progression. Discipleship (the actual following-of-Christ part), comes when the first three elements are actualized. Reject or skimp on desire, denial, and deed, and devotion suffers. It’s kind of like a student showing up to school without his pencils, paper, and books — he might be able to get some of his assignments accomplished, but the lack of preparation will be revealed in his work for that day. It’s plain to see that this pattern can not lead to improvement.

If Anyone Desire…

For the love of Christ compels us…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:14a & 17

Before we were born of the Spirit, we were born of the flesh. Accordingly, before we were born of the Spirit, our desires were focused on fleshly things. Some of those things may not have even been sinful unto themselves, but our desire for them, steeped in pure selfishness, was sinful. Once we were born again, our desire was redirected towards those things that were pleasing to God, rather than ourselves. We understand by faith that we had no hand in placing this new desire within us; this precious desire is the byproduct of the grace Jesus freely gives His disciples. If this desire is not present, we must question why, perhaps even pondering if we are truly born again believers.

Don’t fret — repent!

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent. Revelation 2: 5

Deny: “let him deny himself”

If desire is present, then denial is the next preparatory step forward, with the realty being that self-denial is the fruit of Godly desire. In other words, if you have died with Christ (that is, died to your flesh) you will desire to walk in the Spirit and not work to satisfy the desires of the flesh. The bonds of flesh have been broken and we have willingly yoked ourselves to Jesus; we are bond servants of Christ. At this point we can begin to see that while there is a progression and order to desire, denial, deed, and devotion, they are also divinely intertwined.

“Our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.” Romans 6:6-9

Deed: “take up his cross daily”

We might wonder why desire and denial is not sufficient; why are we additionally instructed to pick up the cross of crucifixion each day? The answer is simple: the directive from Jesus is a reminder for us. Human beings have a tendency to forget and rather than scold His children daily, Jesus provides for us a way to daily remember our baptism, our first symbolic gesture publicly proclaiming the death of our flesh and our newness of eternal life in Christ.

In the same way that Jesus wants us to remember what He accomplished on the cross (when we break the loaf and partake of the cup), He wants us to remember (daily) that we hoisted our old man up there as well. If the Christian does not consistently start each day with this holy recognition, his or her desire will fade, and he or she will be susceptible to appeasing their flesh rather than denying it. At this juncture, devotion to Jesus might not even come to mind!

What does picking up the cross look like?

It minimally starts with prayer. Personally, it’s my preference to pray before my feet hit the floor in the morning. This prayer is characterized by thanksgiving and an affirmation of God’s godliness, followed by my desire to follow Him and to deny my flesh, and then, His help in the deed of dying to myself (picking up my cross), so effective devotion can occur that day. I ask for (and allow) God to search my heart in order to root out any evil that’s lurking therein, and then ask for a fresh refilling of His Holy Spirit for power and direction. This initial morning prayer is less than a minute long, but it sets the pace for the rest of the day; my cross has been raised and my baptism has been remembered. Having done this, I’m best equipped to follow Him. If I forget to do this, there stands the likelihood I will soon stumble. Neglect these things (and I have), devotion, the act of submission to Jesus, suffers. Effectual discipleship requires preparation — the preparation Jesus outlines in Luke 9:23.

Devotion: “follow Me”

I’m reminded that these deeds are not works unto salvation. Our salvation is a done deal; a work that Jesus finished on the cross. Nor are these deeds compensation to Jesus for the gifts He bestows; everyone knows that when you receive a present you don’t try to thank a person by paying for it.  If we’re fooled into believing that our efforts in Christ are restitution to Christ, we’ve fallen back into fleshly ritual.  Suddenly it’s no longer the love of Christ that compels us, but an obligation to a false image of Christ we’ve created; the components of our Christian faith (prayer, communion, fellowship, etc) are no longer things we are free or desire to do, but rather things we must do.

But in the design Jesus lays out, we’re daily reminded that these sinful bonds have been broken. He provides and empowers as we present ourselves to Him as empty and submitted vessels. In this manner, each day in Christ can be a continuation of His will from the previous day, or if we didn’t fare so well, a divine do-over. Regardless, through Christ’s blood, death, and resurrection, sin has lost its power. In every single sinful opportunity we encounter, God will provide a way to circumvent evil one hundred percent of the time. Of course the decision to receive His remedy hinges on how we started our day, and whether or not we picked up our cross. This is where the disciple demonstrates that he came to class prepared.

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

If you enjoyed the blog, please like it, share it, subscribe to it, or leave a comment below.


Read Full Post »

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…  Ephesians 1:3

Happy Thanksgiving

Paul’s in jail.

When he writes, ‘Blessed be God the Father who has blessed us,’  he is sitting in a Roman prison; he breaks out in praise despite the fact he’s in lock-down. I find that to be incredible.

How can he do it?

I submit to you there are at least two reasons. First, Paul comprehends that blessings don’t just come from Jesus, but are realized in Jesus. Grateful believers are those who recognize and draw upon this indwelling relationship.

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 2 Corinthians 1:20

Secondly, Paul has seen the future in Christ.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago–whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows–such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows–how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 2 Corinthians 12:2-4

Consider Your Platform

By our standards, Paul had it rough. His platform was a lowly prison cell, yet he used every inch of it to bring honor, glory, and praise to Jesus Christ.

Tim Tebow has a platform too. As an NFL quarterback he is regularly interviewed on television and always gives the glory to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, despite being ridiculed from one side of the country to the other.

It’s safe to say that your platform is somewhere in between Paul’s and Tebow’s.

How are you using it?

When it’s your turn to speak, is the name of Jesus mentioned?

I’m reminded of an up-and-coming Christian musician who recently appeared on one of the nation’s most popular afternoon television shows. Did he give Jesus any of the glory? The short answer is no, he did not. He did however take the time to promote himself and his secular agenda.


All Christians must remember that God provides the platform and if we consistently misuse the opportunities, they’ll be given to someone else. Plain and simple, it’s arrogant, selfish, and prideful when we fail to recognize the One who has made us new.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17


  1. Has God given you a platform?
  2. Is Jesus a part of your conversations?
  3. Do those under your roof know you know Him?
  4. Do your neighbors know you know Him?
  5. Do both your friends and enemies know you know Him?

~ ~ ~

If you liked ‘He Dwells: The Blog’ please subscribe and share.

Read Full Post »

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

From Glory to Glory

Have you ever been driving along a stretch of highway wondering if you are on the right road?

It can be distressing.

In the distance you see a sign. As you near it your heart rate quickens, ”What will it reveal?”

At last you discover that you are on the proper road and, joy of joys, you are heading in the right direction.

Why is this such a glorious sensation? Because you have affirmed that you’re on the right course and that your destination is closer. In this regard, road signs are great, but their glory fades as we scoot by because their job is done and the places they guide us to are greater.

This is what Paul is telling us: Christians are traversing from one glory to another glory, with the latter being exceedingly better than the first.

What are these two glories?

The Law and Jesus Christ

But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 2 Corinthians 3:7-9

Ministry of Death

The ministry of death and the ministry of condemnation are one and the same; they are references to The Law that Moses brought down off the mountain.

The ministry of righteousness is Jesus.

While the Law was glorious, the glory of Christ exceeds it.

Fact is, Jesus Christ is the only reason the Law had any glory to begin with. The glory of the Law is that it tells a person where they are and points them in the direction they need to go.  The Law is that glorious road sign directing sinners to Jesus Christ—the ultimate glory.

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. Galatians 3:24-25

We are grateful for the Law and we recognize its glory and purpose, but to stop at the Law so that we might bask in its fading glory would be silly.  If you were driving to Disney World, would you stop to glory beneath the highway billboard directing you there?   Of course not.  We appreciate its work and we move on.

Similarly, we move on from the Law to Jesus.

Don’t Forget

We live in a lost world, so remember the road signs.  Others will need to know where they are and where they need to go. Share one glory so others might know the true glory.

For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. 2 Corinthians 3:11

Read Full Post »

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14


Don’t you hate it when you write a letter, an email, or an IM and the person for which it was intended didn’t get it?  Oh, I don’t mean that they didn’t receive it, but they just didn’t understand what you were trying to say. The problem: it’s often difficult to convey attitude when we write, especially when its our purpose to convey the truth without a lot of fluff or political correctness (PC). Paul was having a similar problem with the Corinthians.

While these occurrences tend to frustrate and anger us, Paul chose to diffuse the tension with Godly praise. What’s the difference between Paul and the rest of us? A clue is found in our refrigerators. Tip it over and what falls out? The answer of course is, what’s ever inside of it. The same is true for the heart: when it’s nudged the true contents are discharged.

We plainly see that Paul’s heart was filled with love and adoration for Jesus Christ.

For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45B

Heart Questions:

  • Is it your practice to ask the Lord to search your heart?
  • Do you see the guy who cut you off or took your parking space as an answer to that prayer?
  • What spilled out of your heart as you slammed on the brakes to avoid a collision?

But You, O Lord, know me; You have seen me, And You have tested my heart toward You. Jeremiah 12:3a

In these types of situations, what if instead of rage we chose gratitude; after all, didn’t God just answer your prayer?  I don’t know about you, but having my prayers answered so emphatically is extremely cool! What if instead of rolling down the window and cursing, we paused to thank the person, sharing how God just used him to answer your prayer?

Talk about a witnessing opportunity!

The Abnormal Heart

Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. Acts 16:22-26

Paul’s heart was filled with love for Jesus and when it was disturbed, prayer and song sprang forth naturally. Paul did not have Acts 16 to read, therefore he could not have intellectually surmised,

Ok Silas, all we need to do is pray and sing and God will break these chains and open these doors.”

That’s Not Adoration, That’s Manipulation

Paul’s reaction was not normal and I submit to you that Paul was in the habit of:

  1. Asking God to search his heart, and
  2. Submitting himself to whatever changes God wanted to make.

Paul was submitted to the sanctification process.  The proof of that is seen in what oozed from his heart when it was squished.  What’s oozing from your heart today?

For He knows the secrets of the heart…Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties…And give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men) Psalms 139:23; 44:21b; 1 Kings 8:39b

Read Full Post »

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2


Has your pastor ever said, “When you see the word ‘therefore’ in the Bible, you must always inquire, ‘What is it there for?’ ” Mine says it every single time it appears in a Bible teaching; so it’s been drilled into me, therefore the Romans 12:1 verse is no exception to the rule.

Total sacrificial submission is a strong tenet and it necessitates thoughtful consideration as to why Paul proposes it, otherwise we might regard it as mere legalistic compliance to a seemingly over demanding God. It’s for this reason that the Apostle Paul took the previous eleven chapters of this awesome Book to present the doctrine that would support such a radical application. If I could be so bold as to summarize: it is because of our Father’s ceaseless love, evident in His perfect grace and mercy, providing His Son Jesus as a propitiation for our sins, resulting in our being seen as if we have never transgressed, securing by faith our salvation and eternal position with Him in His Heavenly realm we therefore might present ourselves as living sacrifices. In consideration of these truths, it is only reasonable.


Anybody ever told you that as a Christian you are being brainwashed? You know how I reply to that? I say, “I needed my brain washed!” After years of conforming to a corrupt and selfish world, I needed the Lord to come in and scrub away the filth. Believers can say with full confidence that they are not giving up anything worthwhile when they willingly commit to Christian service.

The actual word ‘transformed’ is only used in three places in the Bible: here in Romans and in Matthew 17 where Jesus was transfigured on the Mount of Transfiguration and again 2 Corinthians 3. The Greek root of the word is where we get our modern day word metamorphosis. In these passages it essentially means the same thing every time: to be changed from one thing to another; like a caterpillar is changed into a butterfly. What are we being changed into? The glory of the Lord; living reflections of our Savior!

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

How Are We Transformed?

The answer to that question is multifaceted, but suffice it to say, it is by pouring ourselves into God’s word—His love letter to His children. Does it not make perfect sense? John 1:1 records that the Word and Jesus are the same therefore it is only reasonable that if we desire to know Him for the purpose of becoming like Him, that we go to Him in His Word. Jesus said of Himself…

’Behold, I have come– In the volume of the book it is written of Me– To do Your will, O God.’ Hebrews 10:7

Read Full Post »

National Day Calendar

Fun, unusual and forgotten designations on our calendar.

Overcoming The Times

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

The Motherhood Marathon

Finding the humor, beauty, and purpose in the mess of motherhood

Greater Cause

Addressing Daily Issues From a Biblical Worldview

Disciples of hope

Living the hope that comes from Christ


Thrift Store Tripping and Frugal Living at its Best

In the Little Things

Finding Meaning in the Madness and the Mundane

The Perfect Dad

Every man dies. Not every man truly parents.


Mark 16:15 Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

Let's Talk Gospel

Christian Encouragement and Entertainment

Kendall Lyons

Christ, Cartoons, and Coffee

God charts the road

A road that represents the course of those who desire to follow God

The Master's Meadow

Lush pasture, living springs, and marked paths

Servants' Journal

A blog about Christian life and Biblical teaching.

Don Charisma

because anything is possible with Charisma

%d bloggers like this: