Pastor's Blog

We Never Give Up

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Two times in 2 Corinthians 4, Paul says rather defiantly, “we never give up.” (NLT) In the ESV it is translated this way...“we do not lose heart.”

What might possibly tempt Paul to “give up”?

Well, things were hard. Serving Christ is not always easy.

The first time he says that “we never give up” is in 2 Corinthians 4:1. 

Look at how Paul describes his situation starting in verse 8. “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but not destroyed.”

Wow! Pressed on every side by troubles...perplexed...hunted down...knocked down. Can you relate to any of these feelings? 

So, what is it that causes Paul to defiantly say, “we never give up”?

Paul understands the upside-down wisdom of Christ. When we suffer, the life of Jesus shines through us. He says in verse 10, “Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”

The very thing that is causing you to think about giving up may be the very thing that God will use to shine his glory through your life.

Paul says it again in verse 16, “we never give up.” 

What is it that is causing him to endure this time? Paul recognizes two positive truths about the problems he is facing. 

First, our troubles are relatively short in comparison to the glory that awaits us. But even more promising, enduring through our struggles is being used by God to produce an eternal glory!

The very thing that may cause you to want to give up is the very thing God is using for your eternal good. 

How can we make sure not to lose sight of these things? How can we make sure we too don’t give up when things get hard?

Paul says in verse 16 that he is “being renewed every day.”  I find that I need this daily reminder because often these things that make us want to throw in the towel and quit don’t easily go away.

He also adds in verse 18, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather we fix our gaze on the things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

What about you? What is causing you to want to give up? What is causing you to lose heart? Be encouraged and see the opportunity in it. 

These troubles that are pressing in from every side are the best opportunity you have to let the light of Christ shine through you. 

Through these challenging moments, God is accomplishing an eternal glory that vastly outweighs our struggles.

Be faithful. God is at work. “We never give up!”

Don't Touch the Glory

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Early in my dad’s ministry, an older retired preacher gave him this piece of advice.

He looked at my dad and said, “Young man, don’t touch the glory!” 

I recently thought about that statement when I was reading 1 Chronicles 21. Every now and then, I come across a story in the Old Testament that causes me to pause and wonder, “what was that about?” 

Do you ever have that experience?

That was my experience when I read 1 Chronicles 21. It is the story of God’s great displeasure with David for taking a census of the people of Israel. God’s displeasure with David’s action resulted in the death of 70,000 men in Israel. 

What was that about?

The passage begins by telling us that when David suggested taking this census, Joab, the commander of Israel’s army begged David not to go through with it. He said of David’s plan, “Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel?” (v. 3) And in verse 6, he called David’s plan “abhorrent.”  Joab knew that there was something terribly offensive to God in David’s request.

But David insisted and so Joab complied. Over nine months later (2 Samuel 24:8) the numbers were fully collected and there were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword in Israel and 470,000 such men in Judah. 

What was so wrong with this ill-conceived census?

First, there were explicit instructions to follow whenever God ordered a census to be taken.  Aside from the fact that God did not initiate this census, the protocols established for the taking of a census were disregarded by David (Exodus 30:12).

But perhaps more importantly was the motive David had in taking this census. His motive seemed to be connected to his military ambitions. Note, there were 1,100,000 who “drew the sword.”  It seems to me that the motive of David’s actions had to do with his pride. His trust was in the strength of his army and not in the strength of his God.

“Young man, don’t touch the glory!” 

The glory belongs to God. Our trust is in God. It reminds me of Psalm 20:7. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”

Ironically, the judgment against David and the people of Israel was three days of pestilence in which 70,000 innocent men of Israel fell. Clearly, God’s power was on display in the short span of a few days.

However, God showed mercy when David humbled himself and repented. “It is I who have sinned and done great evil”, David confessed. He pleaded for God to relent of his judgment. God heard his prayer.

David built an altar where God relented of his judgment and we learn at the beginning of the next chapter, 1 Chronicles 22:1, that this was the site where the house of the LORD would be built.  It was the eventual site of the Temple – the place where sacrifice for sin would be made.

This helps answer the question...“What was that about?”

The beauty of the placement of this story in 1 Chronicles is the reminder of the mercy and grace of God for sinners like you and me. In the very next chapter, we have the beginning of the story of the building of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Romans 6:23 tells us we all tend to want to “touch the glory.” “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  But then comes the mercy of God through Jesus. It is what causes us to want to cry out like Paul did three times in Ephesians 1.“To the praise of his glory and grace.”

All glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. 

Don’t touch the glory!