2 Corinthians chapter 12

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Paul’s Vision and His Thorn

12 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul’s Concern for the Corinthians

11 I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,”[a] even though I am nothing. 12 I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles. 13 How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!

14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? 16 Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! 17 Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit?

19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. 20 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.

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Let me share a devotional I read. Food for thought today

Paul was a mighty man of prayer, so it was natural for him to make a plea three times. The answer comes, and it is very clear. Whether it was in a vision or some inner conviction of his mind, I do not know, but the answer was clear: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. If this verse expresses a principle that is true of life, and God knows it is true that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, what do you think He is busy accomplishing with us? Making us weak, isn’t He? And what makes us feel weak? It is being under attack, feeling inadequate to handle the pressures and the problems that we have. If you feel weak, then, it is not only the devil that makes you feel that way, but it is God, too. God makes us feel this weakness to keep us from adopting attitudes that could render us useless in the work of spreading His kingdom. Paul knew that the worst thing he could do was become arrogant about his revelation. It was evidently more important to keep Paul humble than it was to make him comfortable, so God allowed the thorn to go on.

The most dangerous threat to any servant of Christ is spiritual pride. I confess to you that is the thing I fear most in my own ministry. So many nice things are said to me, so many people stroke my pride, and there are so many boosts to my ego that I fear I will begin to believe that some of these compliments represent remarkable abilities that I possess. I was at a conference in California once, and I was speaking with the director of the conference about another brother in the Lord about sending one of his organization’s top speakers for a series of special meetings. This man drew himself up and said, I am the top speaker of our group. I’m number 1. It was not surprising to me, after learning that, to see this man’s ministry begin to crumble and fall apart; soon he was removed from his leadership position by his own organization. I have seen a lot of people fall because they grew arrogant and boastful about what God was doing through them.

This underscores the spiritual battle we are involved in. When is the devil being beaten? Not when we feel great and confident, when it looks like wonderful things are happening, when the ministry is going well. No, the devil is being defeated when we are feeling attacked and under the gun, when we feel weak and helpless and do not know what to do, when we are not sure how to respond, when in our perplexities and sense of weakness we come before the Lord and plead with Him for strength to go on one more day and for grace to help us stand. That is when we are winning and when the kingdom of God is being spread more abundantly than ever before.

Today, thank God for our weaknesses, because we know it is His strength that will help us through whatever life may challenge us with.

Have a great weekend everyone!

2 Corinthians chapter 11

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Paul and the False Apostles

11 I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.”[a] I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Paul Boasts About His Sufferings

16 I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!

Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.

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“Super Apostles”. That is my fun take away from this chapter today. And it parallel’s a similar danger we still have in the world wide church today. People who come in and sound highly educated, are very dynamic speakers, have all the bells and whistles to make themselves very attractive to whoever is listening. But is Christ, and the true Gospel message being preached, or just some form of it? It is an unfortunate danger in our society that we must be entertained. Paul himself admits he is not a trained speaker or educated or flashy. The others have come and preached a different Christ. And it seems they did not realize it or maybe didn’t care. This is not different than today either. How many sitting in our church pews (or chairs in our case) would not catch it if the message preached was inaccurate? How much complacency is there towards reading and studying the Word and getting on our knees and praying? False teaching can infiltrate a church and cause incredible damage very quickly. I would dare say this is an even bigger danger in the world of social media. There is millions of sermons online, you may find speakers you like to listen to, but will we catch it if the teaching is not right?

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As much as we love our pastors, they will be the first to tell you it is very biblical to hear the message they preach and check it against the scriptures to ensure they are correct. Admittedly, I don’t often do this, but this is a practice we should all have. Take notes, check the verses used, check context. This is part of our duty and part of growing in our walk with the Lord. Even though no one loves to be corrected, your pastor will appreciate feedback if he is off course. That being said though, don’t just give feedback when something is wrong, encourage your pastor every week. He needs and covets your prayers and support.

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Lord give us discernment to see when false teachers attempt to infiltrate our personal world. Give us the desire to be in the Word consistently, give us understanding of your Word. God we thank you for our pastor, bless him and guard his mind and heart. Protect him from the enemies deceptions and from discouragement. In the name of Jesus, amen.

2 Corinthians chapter 10

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Paul’s Defense of His Ministry

10 By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” 11 Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.

12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. 14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15 Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. 17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

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The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

I remember a speaker we had in our church years ago for a childrens workshop. She had a talk on this verse, and the way she got the kids to memorize the verses was to sing them. I sat in for only a little while, but the song still is stuck in my head.

“take every thought in to captivity, second Corinthians ten verse five you see” “that is how the victory is won, that is how the victory is won”

I went through a time a while ago wondering how to actively take every thought captive into the obedience of Christ. It’s all well and good to quote all these scriptures – but to actively apply it is where the rubber meets the road.

Every thought that is not wholesome, or is proud, or not in line with God’s word and purposes, or negative thinking, we need to “lead away captive into the obedience of Christ.” In other words, it needs to come under the Lordship of Christ. I was wondering about this especially in the area of negative thinking. What I discovered that helped me was, reading and speaking out God’s word, singing and listening to praise and worship music and speaking out the name of Jesus. As we focus more on God, we will find these wrong thoughts will soon decrease because we’re realigning our thinking. We have to actively stop ourselves dwelling on it and to fill our minds with Godly things. These are the weapons of our warfare and by doing these things, we will pull down the strongholds in our thought lives.

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To tear down strongholds in our lives,
We need to take every thought captive to Christ

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Lord, help me take hold of my thoughts. Help me to speak and sing your name when my thoughts become negative. Thank you that you will lead me to victory. In Jesus name, amen.

2 Corinthians chapter 9

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There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.

Generosity Encouraged

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
    their righteousness endures forever.”

10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

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Paul is pretty masterful at appealing to the Corinthians to give generously, as they had seemed to promise when he was last there. He says things like “there is no need to remind you” and how Paul has been boasting about their generosity to the Macedonians, and how ashamed of his own boasting he would be if they were not prepared for him like he thought they would be. It feels like Paul is laying on a little guilt to spur them on, but really he is just urging them to remember to do what they promised.

It is clear though, that Paul’s message in this chapter is about generosity. Money and possessions are always a good test of our hearts. Are we willing to give what’s “ours” to further the kingdom of God? Paul give us a very important principle “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Now this verse can be and has been mis-interpreted over and over again that you will receive financial blessings if you give, and the more you give, the more you get. But getting can never be our motive for giving. Paul very clearly spells out what he means by this in the rest of the chapter.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. and he also said You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. There is a couple things to point out here, Paul said God will bless us so in “all things, having all that you need”, and also “you will be enriched in every way” Clearly this chapter is about the Corinthians giving money to help the bigger church, but through this giving, God will bless us in return also possibly with bigger faith, with more joy, with more love, with more sense of purpose and passion, with more understanding of His will, and yes, possibly you may be blessed financially sometimes. This is what Paul means when his you will be enriched in every way. And with all these things, you will be able to be more generous with love and kindness and faith and joy and finances. If we hold back what God has blessed us with, our own personal ministry can not be as effective.

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Paul sums up nicely what our motive for generosity must be. 1This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Love God and love our neighbor, that is what generosity is about. So today, give generously what God has blessed you with. We are all called to give monetarily, but if you have encouragement to give today, give it. If you have an act of kindness to perform, do it. Give to those in need, love your neighbor. By this you are showing thanks to God!

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Lord, thank you for your many blessings today. Thank you for the ability and means to bless others around me. Show me today who and how I can bless my neighbor. In Jesus name, amen.

2 Corinthians chapter 7

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The Collection for the Lord’s People

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

Titus Sent to Receive the Collection

16 Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. 17 For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. 18 And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. 19 What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. 21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.

22 In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ. 24 Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.

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I think this chapter could be summed up with this verse from Matthew

Matthew 6:21; “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

In his letters to the church at Corinth the apostle Paul was encouraging them, along with other Gentile churches, to give to help with the needs of the Jerusalem believers. They were going through extremely difficult times financially because of the persecution from the Jews living in Jerusalem. They had been excommunicated from the synagogues because they believed that Jesus was the messiah. Their businesses failed because of the national disinheritance. Paul encouraged the Gentile Christians to help with this great need in Jerusalem by putting aside a gift for the Jerusalem fund. Probably a year earlier these believers at Corinth had said they would like to help, and made a start. Now they needed a little encouragement to continue with their commitment.

Paul repeats the word for “grace” several time in this chapter. “The grace of God” (v. 1). In the context he is concerned with the activity of grace.

Paul argues that the subject of giving to the needs of the saints in Jerusalem is an activity of grace. It is something beautiful and lovely. The source of their activity is the grace of God, which produced an attitude of joy. It is an act of grace when it comes from the heart. 

Paul says that the subject of giving to the needs of the saints in Jerusalem is an activity of grace. It is something beautiful. The source of their activity is the grace of God, which produced an attitude of joy.

It is an act of grace when it comes from the heart. 

The Macedonian Christians Paul talks about were extremely poor Much of the poverty came because the Roman government had taken over the gold and silver mines in Macedonia. They also taxed the copper and iron smelting industry. No longer could they use the trees for the construction of ships. They lived in difficult days. However, in the midst of severe trial, they gave generously and with joy, simply for the pleasure and honor of giving.

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There is so much we could talk about in this chapter, but if we can remember this basic principle; God owns the world and everything in it. This includes our money and possessions. How are we being generous with God’s money to our brothers and sisters in need? Are we giving with joy, or out of obligation? or not at all? There is a source of joy in giving, let’s be thankful today that we all have the ability to give!

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Lord, thank you for your provision. Forgive us when our hearts turn selfish and we want to hang on to what is yours. Help us to have the desire to give to those in need and find that incredible source of joy in doing so. Thank you for the privilege of being able to so so. In Jesus name, amen.

2 Corinthians chapter 7

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Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Paul’s Joy Over the Church’s Repentance

Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.

For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.

Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. 12 So even though I wrote to you, it was neither on account of the one who did the wrong nor on account of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. 13 By all this we are encouraged.

In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. 14 I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. 15 And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling. 16 I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.

(O)

In this chapter, the focus seems to have changed and Paul is encouraging the Corinthians in how they have repented. Let me share a story I read today.

There is an unverifiable story about President Aaron Burr’s granddaughter, who gave her heart to Jesus Christ at an evangelistic meeting. After the meeting, she reportedly went home and said to her grandfather, “I wish you were a Christian, too.” He replied, “When I was a young man, I went to an evangelistic meeting. I felt my need of God’s mercy and forgiveness and knew that I should give my heart to Christ, but I walked out without doing it. I stood under the stars and looked toward heaven and said, ‘God, if you don’t bother me any more. I’ll never bother you.’ Honey, God kept His part of that bargain. He has never bothered me. Now it is too late for me to bother Him.” How tragic that this man misunderstood the heart of God and refused to surrender to Him.

God has created each of us, hardwired us, to be able to experience God-given sorrow, which is designed to lead us into real heart-felt repentance that results in lasting changes in our hearts and minds. Paul’s point is that being depressed or sorrowful alone doesn’t accomplish any lasting changes in a person. Peter and Judas contrast this perfectly. Peter wept and was sorry that he had denied Jesus, and as a result, he truly repented; on the other side, Judas was sorry and depressed that he betrayed Jesus, but instead of repenting, he tried to turn off the pain by suicide. Real repentance yields a desire to turn away from the sin and restore a personal relationship with God.

The Greek word translated “repent” means “to change the mind or purpose.” The Greek word translated here as “regretted” means “to carry a burden of sorrow over the past.” One word promises a change in the future while the other just promises despair. Peter repented but Judas regretted. The Apostle Paul warns that there is a “sorrow of the world [that] produces death.” This is not godly sorrow, only remorse or regret, which was the sorrow Judas experienced. And it did lead to his death. Missionary Oswald Chambers profoundly describes the difference with this warning: “Never mistake remorse for repentance; remorse simply puts a man in hell while he is on earth.”

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Today, this is a good reminder and challenge for all of us. We have all done things that we have wished we wouldn’t have. Are we sitting here remorseful with this gut-wrenching guilty feeling like we have totally blown it with God? This is not from God. He just wants you to repent and focus your eyes on Him. He has already forgiven whatever you did on the cross. We need to understand that we are flawed and we will make mistakes and we simply need to believe and accept this forgiveness.

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God I know I make mistakes and go against Your will. But thank you that your love is unending and unconditional. Thank you for forgiving me way back when Jesus died for me and everyone reading here right now. Help me to fully accept this forgiveness and not live in remorse, but rather help me learn from my mistakes and help me turn away from sin. In the name of Jesus, amen.

2 Corinthians chapter 6

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As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says,

“In the time of my favor I heard you,
    and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Paul’s Hardships

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.

Warning Against Idolatry

14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.”

17 Therefore,

“Come out from them
    and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
    and I will receive you.”

18 And,

“I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

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I don’t know about you, but Paul’s life sounds terrible, and yet incredible at the same time. He lists a bunch of things he goes through on a regular basis, beatings, hunger, imprisonment, hardships, hard work, etc.. but yet has an amazing perspective of each one. dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. Paul is trying so hard to make the Corinthians see the sincerity in which they came and shared the Good News with them. They did not come because they enjoyed all those beatings and persecution, but clearly out of love and concern for each person in Corinth. But they are apparantly not returning that love and concern for Paul.

Paul then makes a very relatable statement to them, for me anyway, when he tells them to not be yoked with unbelievers. This is a passage I understand very well, as my wife and I were very unequally yoked in the first years of our marriage. I was not a Christian and this led to many very heated arguments and fights in our marriage. We were very blessed that the prayers of many saints were answered when the Holy Spirit got a hold of me one evening, and life forever changed. Had that not happened, I suspect we would not be together. There is a very real spiritual battle that rages when we align ourselves with unbelievers this intimately. This could be true not only for marriage, but for business, close friends, dating, etc.. We were able to overcome it, but I suspect we are definitely in the minority.

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Paul gives very good advice for all believers in this chapter. And I think we really need to re-read his perspective of the hardships and things he endured just to preach the Gospel. What is our attitude when encounter some hardship? Are we willing to endure hardship to reach the lost? What kind of hardship have I encountered preaching the Gospel, and how did I react? Questions to ponder today.

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Lord, thank you that you walked me through the fire early on in my marriage. Thank you for the understanding of these passages in a very personal way. Help me to endure any hardships or persecution that may come my way. In Jesus name, amen.

2 Corinthians chapter 5

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Awaiting the New Body

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

The Ministry of Reconciliation

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

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How many of us would have this verse as part of our salvation story and just as one of our “top ten” verses of encouragement. vs. 17” Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

It’s exciting to know that when we give our lives to the Lord, we are made new. We are in a new family because we become heirs, sons and daughters , of God. Our sins have been forgiven and we will not come under judgement. We are shiny new creations. We no longer belong to the old creation that fell because of the sin of Adam and Eve. Instead, as the new creation we stand in Jesus — and we are in Him when we place our confidence on Him. For sure, we remain vulnerable to temptation and can fall in many ways. However, our victory lies in Christ’s redemption of our sin whether past, present or future. As a result, we are a new creation in Him!

It reminds me a bit of all the foster kids and families I see around. Many of these kids came from extremely broken homes, possibly alchohol and drug addict parents, unwanted pregnancies, financial hardships etc.. When they were taken in by other families either by foster or adoption, they would now be given the love and care they so desparately needed. Does this guarantee they won’t go through trial and tough times? absolutely not, but they know they have a family they can count on. And how much more so when we have God as our Father!

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Many times Christians fall to temptation and then have difficulty recovering. The lie of Satan is always the same: “How could you call yourself a Christian and behave that way? You must not be saved.” But just because we are a new creation doesn’t mean we can’t fall to temptation. The good news is we have already been forgiven. We need to turn away from our sin. And we need to let go of the guilt and accept the grace and mercy of the One who gave His life for you?

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Father, it is so comforting to know that you are there for me no matter what. I know i can count on your loving arms and loving counsel to get me through tough times. Help me today to rid myself of sin. Thank you for your grace and mercy. In Jesus name, amen.

2 Corinthians chapter 4

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Present Weakness and Resurrection Life

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[b] Since we have that same spirit of[c] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

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Focusing in on verse 2

Paul’s instruction is that we are not to be hypocrites (say one thing and do another). So our behavior shouldn’t contradict what we are preaching or teaching. Although none of us is perfect, we are to use every effort to conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to our Lord and Savior. We are also not to handle the Word of God dishonestly (for our own gain or in the manipulation of others).

A person can be preaching, teaching or sharing the Gospel, but at the same time, their life might also be speaking an entirely different message. This is something I need to pray about regularly in my own life: “Lord, don’t let me teach, lead or write unless I have a clear conscience. Forgive me for the ways I’ve sinned against You. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Change my thoughts to Your thoughts and continue to do work in me to make my actions be more like Christs’. Let my life be a testimony to the power of your Word, and proof of Your love, grace and mercy.”

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As we read our passage today, we might be tempted to look at the pastor of our church, rather than in the mirror, and at our own lives. Paul’s comments aren’t intended to apply only to the leaders of the church, but also to us individually. Is there an area of your life that is not in conformance with the truth of Scripture? What is the Holy Spirit speaking to you about right now and will you obey? Our behavior is always in the sight and presence of God, so is He pleased?

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Lord, let my thoughts be your thoughts. Help me to become more Christ-like in my walk with You. Help me to do what is right in your sight and go about my own ministry with a clear conscience. Forgive me where I fall short and help strengthen me in these areas. In Jesus name, amen.