Saturday, January 13, 2007


Often when somebody hurts or offends one of our friends we are affected in a similar fashion. But how do you feel when the friend that was hurt forgives the offender? We too, should forgive, but instead we often hold a grudge and harbor ill feelings.

Paul gives us a good principle in the following passage of scripture:

2 Corinthians 2:9 - 11 (TMSG) The focus of my letter wasn’t on punishing the offender but on getting you to take responsibility for the health of the church. 10 So if you forgive him, I forgive him. Don’t think I’m carrying around a list of personal grudges. The fact is that I’m joining in with your forgiveness, as Christ is with us, guiding us. 11 After all, we don’t want to unwittingly give Satan an opening for yet more mischief—we’re not oblivious to his sly ways!

If you forgive him, I forgive him, Paul says. On the flip side of that, we can help our friends by telling them when we’ve forgiven a wrong done so they too, can forgive and move on.

Paul points out another good reason for not holding grudges, and that is we are eliminating opportunities for Satan to cause more problems in our lives. When we allow that grudge to take root, it can grow into a larger problem and affect those around us in a negative way.

Hebrews 12:15 (NASB) See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

What’s the answer? Forgive each other and…

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14 (NASB)


Friday, January 12, 2007


Have you ever been angry with a friend for hurting you? It takes a long time to get over some hurts, but after awhile, if you don’t want to lose their friendship, you make up…you forgive them.

Paul explains a similar process among followers of Christ in the church:

I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me. 6 Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. 7 Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. 8 So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him. 2 Corinthians 2:5 - 8 (NLT)

There is a time for forgiveness. In the case of this man, it was after he had suffered the consequences of his actions (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). He had been removed from the fellowship of the church, from his friends, from the corporate worship of the Lord. The time had come to forgive him. As when a parent disciplines a child, after the punishment is over, forgiveness follows and love is shown in abundance.

Is there someone in your life that you still need to forgive? It isn’t always easy, but the consequences of letting the opportunity slip away forever can be hurtful for both them and you.

When Jesus was teaching His disciples how to pray in Matthew 6, He included the phrase,

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (NASB)

In verses 14 and 15 of the same chapter, He explains that unless we are willing to forgive other people, we won’t be able to experience God’s forgiveness, resulting in broken fellowship with Him.

Remember the Holy Spirit will help you, but it’s up to you to take the first step of obedience toward forgiving those who have hurt you. Perhaps it’s a parent, a friend, or an acquaintance in need of your forgiveness. Bless them and yourself by following the path that God lays out in His Word.


Thursday, January 11, 2007


Have you ever considered whether the decisions you make are spiritually made or based in the flesh? I guess what I’m really saying is, are you decisions made by God, according to His standards and His will or are do you simply do what you want to do.

There’s probably no simple answer but I think that the more time we spend with God in prayer and in His Word, the more likely we are to make decisions that are pleasing to Him.

We can make all sorts of excuses like, “I’m too busy,” but we all know the truth. We simply have changed our priorities and don’t have time for the One who made us and saved us. After all, if we are going to claim to be followers of Christ and yet base our decisions on self (flesh), how will anyone know we are Christians?

In the passage of scripture found in 2 Corinthians 1:15 – 2:4, Paul is explaining to the Church why he wasn’t coming to see them at this time.

But I call God as witness to my soul, that to spare you I did not come again to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.

2 Corinthians 1:23 - 24 (NASB)

Paul is telling the Church at Corinth that not coming to see them again was a “spiritual” decision and not a fleshly one. Remember he had written them earlier (1 Corinthians) trying to point out some of the errors in their living…

  • division in the body
  • a man sleeping with his father’s wife
  • law suits among believers
  • abusing the Lord’s Supper
  • competition or disagreements over spiritual gifts

Some of the Corinthians tried to say that Paul couldn’t make up his mind (2 Corinthians 1:17) but Paul was saying this was a spiritual decision. He probably felt that they hadn’t had enough time to resolve their issues and he didn’t want to show up and get angry at them causing them further sorrow (2 Corinthians 2:1).

Spiritual decisions are based on our love of God and others. The spiritual decision made in concert with the Spirit of God will seek the good of others first while decisions based in the flesh (self) usually place others in a secondary position and provide a more immediate benefit to ourselves. The problem is that self-perceived benefit is NOT God’s will…it is ours.

Follower of Christ or follower of self…You decide.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007


2 Corinthians 1:12 - 14 (NASB) For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you. 13 For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end; 14 just as you also partially did understand us, that we are your reason to be proud as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.

Paul had just been talking about suffering. He was imprisoned and beaten by people who objected to his teachings and yet, he acted like a follower of Christ during it all. He sang hymns while in jail (Acts 16:25), he didn’t run away when he had the opportunity, but subjected himself to the authorities that were holding him. As a result, the jailer and all his household accepted the Lord Jesus and were baptized (Acts 16:33). Because of this, Paul could write to the Corinthians that his conscience was clear.

Conscience is defined as:

The question this definition presents to us is:

From what source do we draw our ethical or moral principles?

If it is the Bible, we are on solid ground. However, many in the world do not adhere to the principles laid out in God’s Word and we find ourselves at odds with them.

My prayer for all of us that claim Christ as Savior is that we can speak the same words that Paul speaks here:

That the testimony of our conscience concerning our actions in the world and especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ may be one of holiness and godly sincerity and not rooted in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007


2 Corinthians 1:8 - 11 (NLT) 8We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 11And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.

Paul had told them in verse seven, “as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.”

Here he tells the people in the Church at Corinth that they are actually a part of his ministry, they are helping him, when they pray for him and his associates.

I think that we sometimes take prayer for granted. By this I mean that we believe God already knows what’s going on and if He wants to act in a certain way He will. We don’t believe that we can have much effect on the outcome.

But this is contrary to what we read in God’s Word.

Jesus Himself prayed all night long before He chose the twelve apostles (Luke 6:12-13). If Jesus thought it was important, how much more should we.

James points out something that I think we have to keep in mind. He says first to “confess your sins” and then to pray. God wants us to live holy lives. We are going to mess up. But that doesn’t mean that we stop praying! It means that we admit we were wrong and, according to God’s word accept His forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9), and then PRAY.

James 5:16 (NASB) 16Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

1 Peter 3:12 (NASB) 12For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

John 16:23 - 24 (NASB) 23“In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. 24“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.

Monday, January 08, 2007


I didn’t get to watch the latest episode of “House” last week. I had to go to Bible Study. That’s suffering for Jesus, right? Of course, I set it to record on my DVR, but that’s not the same.

I suppose on a certain level, we might consider that as “suffering.” After all, some people wouldn’t miss the latest episode of their favorite show, or a basketball game, football game or concert, just to go to church. Or, on another level, some wouldn’t wait to have sex until marriage just to please Jesus. That would be suffering too much.

2 Corinthians 1:3 - 7 (NLT) 3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

Paul is talking about suffering for taking the gospel of Christ to other people, the hardships that come about because of our faith in Christ. Are you persecuted or ridiculed at work or school because you are constantly telling people about the Lord? Perhaps the police tried to break up the last meeting of believers at your home.

When it comes right down to it, most of us don’t experience much suffering for our Savior. In other countries, people are persecuted, even killed for their faith in Christ. We need to lift them up in prayer, at the very least.

I think we also need to examine our own lives and see if perhaps we’re not too complacent, too settled in to our own routines, perhaps even too busy to share about Jesus and what He has done in our lives and what He can do for others. Perhaps we need to face more rejection.

What kind of suffering did Paul have to endure? He tells us in chapter 11…

…I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him (Jesus) far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. 2 Corinthians 11:23 - 27 (NLT)

That doesn’t sound terribly appealing to me, but it does make me stop and think if maybe some of the comforts in my life are keeping me from experiencing a deeper dependence on God, a deeper relationship with my Lord and Savior.


Sunday, January 07, 2007


A former student of mine named Marcos Ortega wrote this in September of 2004 when he first went away to a Christian college. We need to encourage, support and pray for the future leaders of Christianity in our world. "Radical Christianity" was something Marcos started as an answer to the apathy found in many churches.

In Christ, John


I've decided to send all of the Radicals a verse to help encourage them every day, and then once a week, I'll send you guys a devotional that God wants me to talk to you about. I realize that not everyone that gets this e-mail claims Radical Christianity, but it was easier to just put everyone on the list. For the Radicals, I hope that this will keep all of you guys strong in the movement, and in return strong in the faith. Radicals should insert "Radical" wherever "Christian" is said. I have to send it twice because the list is too long. So here we start.

Daily Verse:

1 Timothy 4:12

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in SPEECH, in LIFE, in LOVE, in FAITH, and in PURITY.

The emphasis put on those five words are my own. However, I found them necessary to emphasize how to live life as a Radical. If we live by these commandments, we will find fulfillment in Christ, and be rewarded for our lifestyle.

Weekly Devotional:

Scripture: 1 John 2:3-6

We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. The man who says, "I know Him," but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.

This is an amazing passage that shows why we obey God's commandments. We do not follow his commandments in fear of God, we follow God's commandments to show that we are Christians. John is saying that if we say that we are a Christian and then go and do whatever we would like, we are lying. We are not truly Christians, just people playing the part for acceptance or because we want to fool the world with our words. However, my friends, we cannot fool the world with our words. People will see you with your actions before they will listen to a single word that comes out of your mouth. If your actions and words are not the same, then people will not believe you when you say that you are a Christian.

John also says that "Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did." This sentance shows the Christian exactly what to do. Live like Christ. Now, I realize that none of you are perfect, and neither am I, but we are to strive to live like Jesus. That is not just so others see that we are "holy", but so that we ourselves may be edified. John says that God's love is made complete in whomever strives to live like Christ. What an amazing promise!!! God is saying that we will be able to feel His FULL love when we strive to live like Christ; and God's love is amazingly large. He can love the whole world at the same time.

Think about these things as you go through your week.

I love you all,

In Christ,

Marcos - rXc