No Pain, No Gain!

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1 Cor. 4:9    For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

Knowing that the title “apostle” was often given to persons who FIRST planted the Christian faith in regions formerly untouched by the Gospel, it would seem contradictory to say that “God hath set forth us the apostles LAST…”  It is not until we review Christ’s teachings that we begin to fully understand what is going on.  Consider Matthew 20:16, for example, where Christ said, “So the last shall be first, and the first last…” Also, Matthew 23:11, where He said, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

You see, what Paul is essentially saying (and what Christ is teaching) is that, for others to be ministered to and thereby helped, someone must be willing to be the first to stand in the back of the line!  Again, when Christ said that He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, He was essentially saying the same thing.  He lowered Himself so that others might be lifted!

In like manner, Paul is teaching the church of Corinth that as they GAIN from his sacrifice, he himself continues to diminish by necessity of the call.  Isn’t it becoming more and more clear what Jesus meant by “the last shall be first, and the first last”?

While many seek promotion in the Kingdom of God, few seek voluntarily to be demoted for the sake of others.  Yet, this is the very essence of Christianity; Christ first, others second, & us last.  This would explain why ANY pioneer work in God’s Kingdom is often met with the harshest of resistance and circumstances to those pioneering the work, while simultaneously abundantly fruitful and advantageous for the beneficiary.  So, the pioneers’ pain is always the progenitors’ gain.

Pastor Gary Caudill

copyright © by Gary D. Caudill, all rights reserved

Go deeper with the daily reading that goes along with today’s devotional HERE.

Song by Casting Crowns called “Loving My Jesus” can be found HERE on YouTube.

 

God enables your obedience!!!

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Psalm 105:44-45    And gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labour of the people; That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws.  Praise ye the LORD.

God enables obedience to His commands!  Here, the children of Israel were commanded to observe all of God’s statutes, and keep all His laws.  If you know anything about the old covenant, MUCH work went into keeping all the laws that The Lord had commanded them to observe.  Time would not permit me to go into all the details, suffice it to say that (by modern standards of living) extreme efforts had to be made in order to do what God expected of them.

Understanding, then, that it took WORK to obey God’s commands, The Lord made it so that when Israel arrived at their promised land, they would inherit the labour of the inhabitants, for the specific purpose of enabling His people to put their energies into obeying His commands.  They dwelt in houses they did not build and ate from vineyards they did not plant.  Essentially, God paved the way for their obedience!

I’m now reminded of the same principle found in the New Testament under the new covenant of Grace.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  In other words, if you will seek to do God’s will, then God will seek to make that possible by providing you what you need in order to do so.

I’m afraid that’s where many Christians fall off the wagon today; they make great effort in securing a living for themselves FIRST, then, IF they have any time, talent, energy, or resources left over, they MIGHT give them to God’s work.  However, we need to relearn the concept of living by such faith that when God speaks, we obey, and let HIM figure out the logistics of how it’s all going to come together.  Trust and obey!

Pastor Gary Caudill

copyright © by Gary D. Caudill, all rights reserved

Go deeper with the daily reading that goes along with today’s devotional HERE.

Song by Leeland called “Way Maker” can be found HERE on YouTube.

 

About God’s mercy…

HERE is our Facebook Live version of this devotional.  The opening song will be linked at the bottom.

Psalm 103:17-18    But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

Mercy is often described as when our Lord withholds from us the punishment which we rightly deserve.  Lam. 3:22 says that it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  And yet again in Psalm 103:10, we are taught that “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.”  Looking at the full spectrum of God’s mercy, then, we learn that He does not give it to us because we are deserving, but rather because He is compassionate!

Now, let’s look at conditions under which mercy is guaranteed.  Verse 17 says that His mercy is upon them that fear Him.  The word “fear” here means “morally reverent”, which implies that our behavior is such that illustrates our desire to be submissive and humble before Him.

Verse 18 then says that His mercy is upon “such as keep his covenant”.  The word “keep” here, along with meaning “observe”, also means “to hedge about as with thorns”.  The significance of “keeping” God’s promises in such fashion can be no better illustrated than by looking to Christ on the Cross, where God’s blood covenant was quite literally and figuratively hedged about with thorns, even as our Savior wore a crown of thorns upon His own head.  This assures us that even when we fail to protect the preserve the covenant, He secured it by His own measure, and thus has every right to have mercy upon whom He will have mercy!

It is under this great truth, then, that we are able to “remember his commandments to do them”.  That is, we remember what He said for the specific purpose and intention of doing them, while living in His mercy.

Pastor Gary Caudill

copyright © by Gary D. Caudill, all rights reserved

Go deeper with the daily reading that goes along with today’s devotional HERE.

Song by Micah Tyler called “New Today” can be found HERE on YouTube.

 

 

God in the details…

Psalm 102:13-14    Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.  For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof.

Here the Psalmist David, as if discerning the times, declares that because “the set time” has come for God to favor Zion, that God shall arise and have mercy.  And by what barometer does David gauge this “set time”?  It would appear that he discerns this “set time” by the very fact that he is already seeing the servants of The Lord (whomever they may be) taking pleasure in the very stones of Zion, and favoring the very dust of its ground!

The significance of this level of discernment is vitally important to note; namely, that when God is on the move, His servants are on the move!  It is not that God cannot move without His servants, but that He chooses through the instruments of His servants to move His mighty hand.

Many today are looking for what appears to be a direct and Divine act of God to be convinced that His favor is upon them.  The problem is, they do not easily detect or discern that the actions and presence of God’s servants in details of their lives are the evidence they are (or should be) looking for.

Allow me to put it this way; look for God in the details!  We often look for God on the grand scale of the big picture, not seeing Him on the level of the rocks and the dust that make up our city.  But in our text, we learn that when we see God’s favor in the details (aka rocks and dust), by default His favor will be manifest on the grand scale!

Has God been working in such small and minute ways and with such attention to the smallest detail that we have failed to see the magnificence of His Masterpiece coming together?  I pray it’s never so!

Pastor Gary Caudill

 

copyright © by Gary D. Caudill, all rights reserved

What will it take for you to break out in praise?

Psalm 98:8a    Let the floods clap their hands…

What if that which is troubling you is, in obedience to Scripture, bringing glory and honor to Jesus Christ?  Hear me; often, we associate the trials of life with “troubled seas”, “wind”, “rain”, or “floods”, as each of these are found often to symbolize such in God’s Word.  Having said that, look at the text again; “Let the floods clap their hands…”  As you are surrounded by the roaring of life’s sea (see verse seven), could it be that these uniquely challenging circumstance in which you find yourself are a direct result of those turbulent “waters” responding in obedience to the command of praising our Creator God?

Is it beyond reason that in order for God to get maximum glory, He might prefer troubled seas upon which to walk and into which to speak peace and calm?  Might God need (rather, might WE need) circumstances out of which to rescue us, before we with stubborn hearts are willing and eager to lift up praise to His name?

Why are we so slow to praise Him?  Why, when sailing is smooth and skies are blue, do we slip into a deep spiritual sleep that robs God of the praise which He rightly deserves?  Why does He need to resort to receiving worship from the crying out of rocks when we are more silent than they (see Luke 19:40)?

Imagine The Lord, who WILL get His praise, resorting to otherwise inanimate objects which have no souls, to make a fuss of Him!!  Imagine the condition of man in our calloused state when our precious Lord, long awaiting praise to break forth from our silence, at last resorts to commanding the floods around us to be stirred up in praise so that at last, when we are shaken, we too join in praising Him, even in our dilemma!  May we learn to praise Him at ALL times, especially when the floods come and out-perform our praise until we finally join in to PRAISE Him!

Pastor Gary Caudill

 

copyright © by Gary D. Caudill, all rights reserved

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