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Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NIV)

So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. (Matthew 27:66)

Just after Jesus was murdered, a couple of his disciples put him in a borrowed tomb. The Religious Elite of the day were concerned about some claims Jesus made of rising from the dead. They asked permission of the Roman governor to place a guard at the tomb to insure that the radical disciples of Jesus would not steal the body. The governor went one step further. Not only did he allow the Jews to post a guard at the tomb, he sealed it with the seal of the mighty Roman Empire.

The Seal was nothing more than a cord secured around the stone with clay holding it in place at both ends. There was nothing magical about the seal. It offered no strength of its own. Its strength and validity rested solely on the power of the Roman Government to make good on its promise. To break the seal meant death. Period.

This was no doubt the word picture that the Apostle Paul conjured up in the minds of his readers as he wrote to the church located in the Grecian city of Corinth. They were well aware of the strength of the Roman Empire. They knew, intimately, of the power of the government to keep its promises.

Eventually, of course, we know that the strength of the Roman Empire dwindled. It was no longer able to keep its promises. It was no longer the most powerful force in the world. As a result, the security of the ‘Roman Seal’ became worthless and meaningless.

The ‘seal’ Paul talks about is a different sort of seal. It’s a seal that is not based on human power. It’s a seal that transcends time. It’s a seal that no one in the physical or the spiritual world can sever. Its guarantee will never become obsolete.

For those of us who have accepted the free gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ we can know we are sealed in God. He gave us his promise, his guarantee, that he would never leave us, forsake us, or hold us under condemnation for our sin.

Our eternal destiny doesn’t rest on our ability to keep a set of rules or memorizing some mantra. Our eternal destiny rests in one who is eternal. Our acceptance is as secure as the universe. Whatever struggle you are bearing. Whoever, or whatever, is threatening you or accusing you today. Remember, because of Jesus, you are sealed with an eternal promise, an eternal hope. The Roman Seal didn’t hold him in the grave, the seal of God’s grace should never hold us back.

PRAYER: Father God. I thank you for Jesus. I praise you for the assurance that there is nothing, including my own rebellious stupidity, that will wrestle me from your arms. Amen.

“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

In Old Testament times Shepherds would often poor oil over the heads of the sheep in their flock. Insects and lice would often burrow deep into the wool of the sheep and, if they burrowed into the ears of the sheep they could kill them. The slippery oil made it impossible for the insects to get near the ears and protected the sheep from harm.

Not only did the oil protect, it also soothed the insect bites that the sheep endured. As a result, anointing became a symbol of blessing, protection and empowerment. This meaning was also passed on into daily life. Whenever one was anointed it brought with it the idea of healing or of empowerment. Oil also carries the meaning of being chosen.

Each of the kings of ancient Israel was anointed to show God’s special favor and choosing. Jesus was said to have been anointed by His Heavenly Father with the Holy Spirit as a sign that he was God’s chosen, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

Oil, of course, offers no special power of its own. It is symbolic of the source of all power, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Master designer of the universe. Paul writes, in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 that, “He who establishes us with you in Christ has anointed us!

The fact that we are anointed by God should encourage each of us. Not only do we have the promise of strength in adversity because we are established by God. We are protected and healed because we are his chosen ones!

Established and anointed. Strengthened and protected. Chosen and healed. Anointed for eternity.

King David was anointed by Samuel as King long before he ascended the throne of Israel. During that waiting period he was threatened, misunderstood, accused falsely and rejected. Eventually however, the promise associated with the anointing came true.

What are you hoping for? What struggle seems to great to endure? What is sapping the strength from your body and robbing you of sleep? Remember, during those toughest times of your life, that you are God’s anointed. There is nothing you can do to deserve this anointing. All you have to do is accept it.

PRAYER: Father God. I praise you today for the reminder that I am your anointed one. I am protected and healed by the oil of your love and have hope for my future because you have chosen me. Empower me to live in the strength of that anointing. Amen.

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NKJV)

When you hear the word ‘established’ what picture comes to your mind? Is it a stately Oak Tree standing alone in a large field, or a lone pine tree rising tall and proud in the midst of a rocky outcropping? Do you think of the corner drug store, now in its fourth generation and having weathered world wars, depressions and recessions to continue serving its community? Or, perhaps, you see the white haired gentlemen sitting in the second pew on the left side of the sanctuary?

Established. It brings a sense of security, comfort, trust and reliability. So much so that when something we’ve thought of as established fails there is a definite sense of loss, even if it doesn’t personally affect us.

In the Apostle Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, he reminds his readers, and us, that we are established. But what does that mean to us as believers? What benefit to we have in that description?

First of all, we are established in something that is immovable. Jesus Christ is described in the book of Hebrews as being the same yesterday, today and forever. Were Jesus on the stock exchange we’d purchase his stock with complete confidence because we would know he was going to be around for a while.

Not only are we established in something immovable, we are established by someone immovable. We are established IN Christ BY God the Father. Generally, if someone begins a business, or a relationship, or develops a product or service that stands the test of time, it does so because the person doing the establishing knows what he’s doing. Being established means you have what it takes to do the task at hand in whatever situation you are in consistently over time.

Very few things in society can claim to be established according to that definition. Times change. Relationships fail. Social and political winds shift without notice. While it seems there are fewer and fewer things we can rely on, one thing remains certain and that one thing is you.

So, when it seems as there here is nothing you can count on, remember that you have been established by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Because of that, you have the power to withstand any political, social or physical attack that may come your way. Your ability to remain established during the storms of life is not dependant on your strength but on Gods ability to keep you established.

PRAYER: Father God, there are so many things in life that once seemed secure and are not. Thank you that my security rests on the establishment of my soul with you. May I ever be aware that my success is not dependent on my strength but yours. Amen.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Sometimes we get the idea that ‘Bible People’ were somehow a different species of animals. Not really human, not really susceptible to the same emotions, struggles and trials we have. They were from a different time with fewer struggles, they had a closer handle on life and faith…and God. Some of us even write them off as good characters from some novel. Not real, even though realistic.

Fact of the matter is, the stories of the Bible are stories of real people with real struggles surprisingly like our own. Sure, they didn’t have internet or electricity. They didn’t have to worry about a global economy. High gas prices wouldn’t be developed for centuries. But don’t let that keep you from the realization that these are real people with real problems.

They still struggled with relationship issues like divorce and dysfunctional families. There were still time issues and disease to contend with. Politics were just as dangerous as they are today, maybe even more so for some. There was worry and racism and gossip and religious intolerance.

So how did they manage? How did people like the Apostle Paul deal with the issues in his life of several near death experiences, enduring the verbal attacks of people who he sought to love and extend the Grace of God too? Where did he turn when tempted to lash out or lust attacked, or disappointment set in? What encouraged him when he was afraid of the future?

Paul tells us that he learned the secret. There were times in his ministry when people around him supported him emotionally, physically and spiritually. During those times he enjoyed the comfort and contentment of having a warm place to sleep and a full stomach.

There were other times when the hunger was unbearable. The only thing that hurt worse were the accusations, the harassment and the lies that were told about him. There were times he felt completely alone and wondered if his work of ministry was worth the pain.

So what was this secret of Paul’s stability? He learned that in times of need or times of plenty it was his reliance on Christ that kept him strong. The human soul was never created to endure life struggles alone. By our very essence we need a helper to keep us strong during the tough times. Sometimes that strength comes from leaning on others, but there are times when the only solace we have is in Christ. He longs to comfort you, embrace you and lift you up.

Regardless of what you are struggling with; or what others have done to you in your past; or what worries you about the future, Jesus Christ came to strengthen your heart to endure. He didn’t come to remove the trials; he came to walk through them with you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for the power you have to support me. During the trying times may I remember that it is you, only you that I need to make my way through life. Amen.

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