Hope for a Heavy Heart

And I said, “This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.” Psalm 77:10

This has to be one of the most honest and powerful transitions in all of scripture. In the first half of Psalm 77, Asaph pours out his heavy heart before the Lord. He holds nothing back, writing things like, “My soul refused to be comforted, I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed, I am so troubled I cannot speak.” What’s remarkable is that Asaph doesn’t remain in that state. Somehow the confession of his heavy heart led to remembering the power and goodness of God, even though his current circumstances hadn’t changed.

Simplicity in Christ

“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3

Because the Corinthians were easily impressed with the scene created by the false teachers in Corinth, they were easily distracted from seeing the simplicity in following Christ. These false teachers used the same tactic the serpent used with Eve in the garden of complicating the clear message of God. The Corinthians had become more interested in great orators and the appearance of spiritual signs than in the simple message of the gospel, and this caused Paul to be greatly concerned for their well being.

Magnify the Lord

“He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 10:17

When Paul wrote the above statement to the Corinthians, he was quoting Jeremiah 9:23-24 which says, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the Lord.”

In All Things Peace

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

Before we believed Jesus died for our sins and rose again, we were unable to experience true peace because we were separated from the Prince of Peace. The moment we believed in Jesus was the first moment we ever experienced true peace. It is only when we have peace with God that we can experience the peace of God.

Draw Near

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” Hebrews 10:22a

Do you lack faith? There are times I lack faith, and it just so happens this morning was one of those times. At least, that was until I read the verse above. What does it mean to draw near with a true heart? It means to continually live with a total dependence on Christ who indwells you. “Draw near” is an invitation to walk in communion with Christ who knows the secret things in your heart that can rob you from having faith.  


“And this they did, not as we had hoped, but first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us.” 2 Corinthians 8:5

Giving. What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you read that word? Many believers are turned off when they hear that word, and I can understand why. It seems everywhere we go someone is asking for money. In fact, just last night I went to Panda Express and as they were ringing me up they asked if I would like to give to a well known charity.

The First Last Supper

“Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.’” Luke 22:7-8

As I read Jesus’ instruction to “go and prepare the Passover” I was struck by the fact that these words have been spoken by Jewish families for thousands of years. The first Passover took place in Egypt as the children of Israel prepared for God to deliver them from the bondage of the Egyptians. Then, thousands of years later came the first Lord’s Supper, the new covenant counterpart to Passover where the disciples prepared for God to deliver them from the bondage of sin.

Open Hearts

“Open your hearts to us.” 2 Corinthians 7:2

You can almost hear Paul crying out to the Corinthians, “Please open your hearts to us!” Paul cared deeply for the Corinthians, like a father cares for his children. They had closed their hearts toward him after receiving his stern letter of correction and stopped having fellowship with him, so Paul desperately desired that they would open their hearts to him once again.  

A Parable on Prayer

“And it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.’” Luke 11:1

It’s no secret Jesus made prayer a priority in His life, but did you know John the Baptist did as well? It appears when the disciples saw Jesus praying, they were reminded of the numerous times they saw John praying, so one of them asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. It was common for religious leaders to teach their followers how to pray. Prayer was and is the one of the greatest ways we can experience the power of God.

Cultivate Holiness

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1

What does it mean to be holy? It means to be set apart. Set apart from what? Scripture reveals that we are to be set apart from an unloving and dying world, in order that we might be used to bring God’s love and life into it. Unfortunately it seems holiness is often thought about in a shallow way today. Many think being holy is merely abstaining from evil things.

Marks of Ministry

“But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses…” 2 Corinthians 6:4

It is a great privilege to be ministers of God, but as Paul points out, with that privilege comes pain and suffering. The apostle Paul understood this better than most. Despite their shortcomings, the Corinthians were a blessing to him. They loved him and he loved them, yet they also caused Paul a lot of pain and suffering. He experienced the full range of emotions as a minister of God, from the heights of joy to the depths of sorrow, which he openly expressed in this letter.

The Good Samaritan

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

Right after Jesus praised the Father for hiding the secrets of the kingdom from the wise and revealing them to babes, a lawyer tested Jesus by asking him, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” When Jesus asked him what the law said about inheriting eternal life, he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Clearly the lawyer knew the law. He studied the scriptures and knew the traditions, but he didn’t understand what it meant to love.

This is the Day

“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

The new life God wants to give us in Christ is as significant, if not more so, as the life He created in the beginning. In order to bring the magnitude of this point home, Paul on several occasions compares what God did in the beginning to what He is now doing in Christ. Earlier in this letter Paul compared the light that God spoke in the beginning to the light He revealed to us through the face of Jesus Christ. Now in the verse above, Paul implies that just as humans were originally made by the word of God, we are now remade by the word of God through His message of reconciliation.

What Happens Next?

“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Corinthians 5:1

Every person who has ever lived has pondered that great question: “What happens next? What happens after we die?” Some think nothing happens after we die, that we simply don’t exist anymore. Others think we are reincarnated as another person or animal, and that how we live this life will determine what our next life will be. I don’t know about you, but these views leave me feeling hopeless.

The Good Shepherd

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10b

I can’t count the number of times I’ve quoted this verse. It means so much to me and I pray it means a lot to you. It’s in this verse that Jesus not only promises to give us eternal life, but also life more abundantly. One of the first images that comes to mind when reading this verse is what David wrote in Psalm 23:8, “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” David experienced an overflowing cup in the presence of his enemies because the Lord was his Shepherd.

My Vessel, His Power

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

Clay pots were everywhere in Paul’s day since they were used for everything from food to fuel. You would find them near the fireplace, in the windows of people’s homes and in the marketplace. In addition to being unremarkable, they were also very fragile and easily broken. That’s why Paul used them as a metaphor for human beings. We may be weak and easily broken, but by the grace of God we can contain the valuable treasure of the gospel.

Live in the Light

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

The comparison Paul is making here is pretty remarkable. He’s saying the light that shined in our hearts the moment we received the gospel was as dramatic as the moment God spoke light into the dark world in Genesis 1. Paul wasn’t the only one to make this connection. In John 1:1-5 it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive Him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” Matthew 18:21

Peter knew forgiveness was a key characteristic of God that he was called to exemplify for others. Knowing the Pharisees taught that they should forgive an offender two times, Peter must have thought he was pretty spiritual when he suggested forgiving an offender seven times. I wonder how shocked he was when he heard Jesus say we are to forgive an offender up to seventy times seven?

Remove the Veil!

“Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” 2 Corinthians 3:16

I think Moses, like many of us, tried to keep appearances up and preserve his reputation with people. We see this when he put a veil over his face to mask whenever the glory of the Lord was fading from him. Isn’t that what many of us do? Don’t we want those around us to see how special and self-sufficient we can be?