Can’t beat the real thing.

In 1990, Coca-Cola launched a new ad campaign. All over North America we heard that you can’t beat the real thing. This, of course, was a bit (or a big) slap in the face to Pepsi who, through the 1980’s had resorted to celebrity endorsement claiming they were the choice of a new generation. But not even Michael Jackson could make Pepsi taste like Coke.

To loyal Coke drinkers, Pepsi is a cheap knockoff. A counterfeit of the Real Thing. Marketing campaigns and branding strategies won’t change the fact that Coca-Cola was and always will be first.

Yet long before there was Coca-Cola or Michael Jackson sang Pepsi Generation, there was another original. Jesus. For over two millennia, his name, his fame, his power has surged through generation after generation. No marketing ploy necessary. But like Coke, there are those who are out to make a copy of the original, make slight changes, and market it as a new and improved version.

If you order a Coke with your burger and fries and the waitress, thinking it’s the same thing, brings you a Pepsi, you know it as soon as you take the first sip. As easily as you can recognise your favourite cola, you should be able to recognise the real Jesus versus a counterfeit. Anything but the true power of the Holy Spirit should taste bitter and cheap. The more you partake of the real thing, the more obvious the fake becomes.

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine. Test yourselves. If you cannot tell that Jesus Christ is among you, it means you have failed the test.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)

If  you can’t tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, you haven’t tasted enough of one or the other. You show your ignorance by saying they’re both just cola. The same goes for Jesus. If you can’t tell the difference between the power of the Holy Spirit and a cheap counterfeit, you haven’t spent enough time getting to know Jesus.

Our responsibility is never to oppose the truth, but to stand for the truth at all times.

2 Corinthians 13:8 (NLT)

Get to know the real thing. Get to know the Truth. Because when you know the Truth, he will set you free.

Daily Bible reading: Song of Solomon 4-5, 2 Corinthians 13

Weak

You’ve probably had a lot of experiences that many people don’t know about. You’ve done things, been places, seen people. Much of which could probably bring you up a few rungs on the ladder of worth when it comes to what others think about you. But is all of that really worthwhile? Is it really of value to boast about all those things if they are of no eternal value?

I have plenty to boast about and would be no fool in doing it, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it. I don’t want anyone to think more highly of me than what they can actually see in my life and in my message.

2 Corinthians 12:6 (NLT)

If it doesn’t further our ministry or our message, is it really worth boasting about? We shouldn’t have to rely on the opinions of others for validation. All the validation we will ever need is found in Christ. Besides, the worse off we are, the more Christ is able to do in our lives.

Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT)

The world would have us believe that weakness makes us, well, weak. But it doesn’t have to. If we are always strong, we never have reason to lean on God. We never have the need to call on the name of Jesus. But in our weakness, when we must rely on our Creator, He makes us strong. He works in and through us. This is the life and the message Paul is talking about.

We shouldn’t have to boast about what God has done because people should be able to see what God is doing. If you’re always talking about what God did in the past, is there even room for Him in the present? There is no shame in weakness because, if Christ is in us, he has already taken our shame upon himself. As for the insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities?

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is our through Christ, who loved us.

Romans 8:35, 37 (NLT)

If you must boast, boast in that. That, no matter what life or the devil may throw at you, you belong to Christ. You are his, he is yours. Go ahead, be weak. Let Christ show his strength through you.

Daily Bible reading: Song of Solomon 1-3, 2 Corinthians 12

First installment

Do you ever wonder just how much God really has for you? Do you wonder if this is it or if you’ve barely scratched the surface?

I want to let you know that, no matter what you’ve experienced with God, the answer is the latter.

…because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, never wavers between yes and no. He is the one whom Timothy, Silas, and I preached to you, and he is the divine Yes—God’s affirmation. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in him. That is why we say “Amen” when we give glory to God through Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment of everything he will give us.

2 Corinthians 1:19-22 (NLT)

When we look at the power of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we think we have arrived. We want those things—and rightly so—but those things are just the tip of the iceberg. The Holy Spirit is the first installment. Read back through 1 Corinthians. If the Holy Spirit is just the first installment, what else is there?

There is so much more than we could ever even imagine. We can barely fathom the power of the Spirit that is already within us let alone the next installment. And the one after that. Jesus is the Yes, the divine affirmation of everything God has already promised to us. He is the exclamation point on everything God has ever said about His children. Jesus opened the door for the Holy Spirit in our lives. But there are more doors.

This isn’t it. There’s more. So much more. You’ve only received the first portion. Don’t get complacent with just a little bit, with door number one. Walk through that door. Dig into that installment. Find out what you already have. Then wait in expectation for what is yet to come.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 15-16, 2 Corinthians 1

A little folly

FOLLY: Weakness of intellect; imbecility of mind, want of understanding.

A weak or absurd act not highly criminal; an act which is inconsistent with the dictates of reason, or with the ordinary rules of prudence.

An absurd act which is highly sinful; any conduct contrary to the laws of God or man; sin; scandalous crimes; that which violates moral precepts and dishonors the offender.

Criminal weakness; depravity of mind.

The more I see the word folly, the less sense it makes in my head. It’s an odd word, to be sure. Odd in pronunciation and in definition. Imbecility of mind. 

Yet folly is something we have (more than likely) all taken part in. Whether it be in our youth or before we came to know Christ or even in our Christian walk. It is the latter that I wish to address, though.

…so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

Ecclesiastes 10:1b (ESV)

We’re all human. We all have the constant struggle of trying to renew our minds so that they perpetually reflect the mind of Christ. We don’t always succeed. At least, I don’t.

In 2 Corinthians 11 and 12, Paul makes his boast of the things that make him weak. Folly makes us all weak. It breaks us down and makes us unproductive.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

Folly makes us weak, but when we admit our weakness, we allow wisdom to reign and we are stronger.

…but wisdom helps one to succeed.

Ecclesiastes 10:10b (ESV)

Folly is not something we should aspire to – just a little will overshadow great wisdom. Yet, when we inevitably fall into foolishness, if we admit our wrongdoings and pursue again the mind of Christ, we grow stronger in the strength of God and put ourselves in a position to succeed.

Daily Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 10-12, 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Super-apostles

Did you know that even church people can be deceived? Gasp!

In 2 Corinthians, Paul is writing to the church and is worried that those who had already accepted the true Gospel of Christ might listen to and believe the words of other apostles claiming a different Jesus and offering a different spirit.

For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

2 Corinthians 11:4-6 (ESV)

Lying lips can often spew what sounds like truth.

Psalm 119:11 talks about storing up God’s Word in you heart so that you will not sin against Him. This is why it is so important that you not only know God, but know His Word and how it applies to you. Even the devil quoted scripture to Jesus.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:14 (ESV)

Know God. Know His Word. Know how it applies to you so that, when the super-apostles show up, you will be able to discern God’s truth from the devil’s lies.

Daily Bible reading:Ecclesiastes 7-9, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

Light

Have you ever seen a believer fall into sin? If you haven’t, chances are you’re not a very observant person. Even un-churched, non-believers see Christians stumble on a regular basis.

Have you ever seen followers of that person then also fall into sin? Unfortunately, it happens all too often. So-and-so did it, so I can, too.

I believe that people are drawn into darkness by the sin of others often because it is not the Light they are following, but the person from which the light shines. They’ve failed to differentiate the two and, when the light dims, rather than continuing to follow the Light, they continue to follow the person.

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” 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 4:5-6 (ESV)

It is not our job to promote ourselves, but to promote Jesus in us. If we are true stewards of the Gospel, we will direct people to Jesus and away from ourselves. Not only are we showing others how to be stewards of the Light, but we remove ourselves from the equation should we happen to stumble.

Daily Bible reading: Proverbs 21-22, 2 Corinthians 4