Archive for : August, 2017

2 Corthians 8

Paul was on a mission to help the church grow together as one body. One of the ways he was going to do that was by taking a collection among the Gentile congregations to help the saints in Jerusalem and Judea. Jerusalem and Judea had suffered through a number of droughts and Paul saw their need as a way for the Gentile churches to support and help their Jewish brethren, which would help these two cultures draw closer together in the body of Christ. The Corinthians were one of the first congregations to get on-board with this project. The church had gone through some strife and Paul was afraid they were not going to follow through with their commitment. So Paul sends Titus and others as an advance team to make sure that their gift was all in order. Paul reminded them that their willingness to give was in fact an expression of their love for Jesus. That if Jesus was willing to sacrifice himself for us, we should be willing to sacrifice our time and resources for others. Their response to this opportunity tested the sincerity of their love and appreciation for Christ!

2 Corthians 7

In our reading Paul shares why he was so hard on the Corinthians in his prior letter. The reason he came down on them so hard, was because he wanted to produce Godly sorrow that would result in true repentance. The world often confuses sorrow with repentance! Paul makes it very clear that sorrow is not repentance, but can result in repentance. Yet sorrow will only bring about repentance if it is “Godly sorrow” – a deep sorrow and regret that I have grieved and offended God. As Paul notes “worldly sorrow” will produce no change in one’s action and the result will be spiritual death. For “worldly sorrow” is associated with self-pity, where one is sorrowful because their actions are causing them pain and grief in their lives.  For “Godly sorrow” is different, for the focus of the grief is towards one’s relationship with their Heavenly Father! Paul makes it very clear in this chapter that guilt is a God given emotion to produce change in one’s life. One has to be lost before they can be saved! Which requires that we are willing to take a honest and hard look in the mirror, face up to our sins, and take the sorrow that is produced to motivate us to repent and move towards God.

2 Corthians 6

Paul declared that we should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. I came across these comments that I think are worth considering. “The concept of the ‘unequal yoke’ comes from Deut 22:10, ‘Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.’ The ox was a clean animal to the Jews, but the ass was not (Deut 14:1-8); and it would be wrong to yoke them together Furthermore, they have two opposite natures and would not even work well together. It would be cruel to bind them to each other. In the same way, it is wrong for believers to be yoked together with unbelievers. Note the nouns that Paul used – fellowship, communion, concord (harmony), part, agreement. Each of these words speaks of having something in common. The word concord gives us our English word ‘symphony,’ and it speaks of beautiful music that comes when the players are reading the same score and obeying the same leader. What chaos we would have if each instrumentalist played his own tune in his own way! God’s desires for His people are seen in these words. He wants us to share with each other (fellowship) and have in common (communion) the blessings of the Christian life. He wants us to enjoy harmony and agreement as we live and work together. When we try to walk with the world and with the Lord at the same time, we break this spiritual fellowship and create discord and division. Paul saw believers and unbelievers in stark contrast to each other righteousness – unrighteousness, light – darkness, Christ – Belial (Satan), belief – infidelity (unbelief), God’s temple – idols. How could you possibly bring these opposites together? The very nature of the Christian demands that he be separated from that which is unholy. When a saved person marries an unsaved partner, it sets up an impossible situation; and the same thing applies to business partnerships and religious ‘fellowship.’”  (from The Bible Exposition Commentary)

2 Corthians 5

We are Christ’s ambassadors! Those words should ring in our hearts everyday. When we leave the house in the morning for work we need to remind ourselves – “we are Christ’s ambassadors!” When we are among our friends we should remind ourselves – “we are Christ’s ambassadors!” When we interact with our spouse and children the thought that should ring in our hearts – “we are Christ’s ambassadors!” For the world around us is watching and they are judging the Kingdom that we represent by what they see in us. So today, will you be an aroma that draws people to our Lord or will our example cause someone to turn away from the Kingdom? We are Christ’s ambassadors!

2 Corthians 4

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  Over the years this has become one of my favorite verses!! Paul reminds us in this text that even when life gets hard and troubles begin to stack up, hold on and keep your focus on the end game. For when it is all said and done, what God has in store for us will be so great and wonderful that the weight of all our troubles and struggles will seem like nothing! So we remain focused on Jesus and continue to serve Him no matter what takes place in our life, because we realize that all that happens is “achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” No amount or intensity of personal trouble in the human sphere can ever be measured over against the eternal value of serving the gospel of Christ faithfully, whether applied to Paul himself or anyone else. This “glory” is not viewed by Paul as merely a prize at the end of the race. Rather, it has already begun to accumulate, the verb “are achieving” is present tense indicating what is being accomplished right now!

Reflections

Today is a day to reflect over our readings. Our reading this week talked of a veil that was over the hearts and minds of Israel. I see that veil all too often as I interact with people of the world! They know about Jesus and they know the stories, some are even very religious, but they just don’t get it – there is a veil. The danger is that a veil can cover our own hearts! We go through the motions a Christian should do but our hearts have drifted back into the world and if we are not careful we begin to quench The Spirit.

Reflections to consider

After Christian fighters captured Jerusalem during the First Crusade, pilgrims from all over Western Europe began visiting the Holy Land. Around AD 1100, a French knight formed an organization called the Knights Templar. Their job was to protect these pilgrims during their visit. When these knights were baptized by the church, they brought their swords with them. But the knights didn’t take their swords under water with them. Instead, they held their swords up out of the water while they were immersed. They were saying to Jesus, “You can have control of all of me, except this one part. I am all yours, except when I am on the battlefield. All that I have is yours, except this sword.” When people today get baptized they don’t hold up a sword, but they hold up their wallets. Their laptops. Deeds to their homes. Their 401( k) s. They hold up their pride, their egos, their bitterness, their grudges. Only when you surrender everything to Jesus can you avoid becoming the biggest loser and let him transform you into the biggest winner. (52 Weeks with Jesus)

2 Corthians 3

Paul in this reading makes a contrast between the old covenant and the new covenant. He uses the image of when Moses veiled his face after spending time with God (Ex. 34:29-35). The reason Moses veiled his face was because his face would glow with the glory of God and this scared the Israelites, so Moses covered his face. When Paul thought of his countrymen he said many of them have a veil over their hearts because they refuse to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Yet when one accepts Jesus as the Messiah the veil is removed and they will then realize that the old covenant was always pointing to the coming of this Messiah. And when the veil is removed and we commit our life to Jesus as a “living sacrifice” we will enter into a process of transformation. Where we take on more and more the glory of the Lord, being transformed into the likeness of Jesus!

2 Corthians 2

There is good reason to believe that Paul is addressing the man who had his father’s wife (1 Cor. 5). Paul had instructed the congregation to withdrawal fellowship from this person. It looks like the congregation followed Paul’s instructions and their actions worked because the man repented. The tact and consideration of Paul are evident in his unwillingness even to mention either the name of the offender or to identify the shameful sin of which he was guilty. This requires the understanding that the guilty man had put away his father’s wife, acknowledging his sin, and returning to the congregation with a plea for forgiveness. Forgive … comfort him … Nothing could be more unbecoming to a church, or to Christians, than to withhold forgiveness from a penitent Christian needing and asking it.

2 Corthians 1

Paul as he opened this letter shares with the Corinthians some of the struggles he had experienced for the sake of the gospel. There was even a point that Paul felt that he was facing death in the face. God spared him from this fate, but by going through this process he came to understand and very important lesson! God has His children face these difficult times in their lives so that they will learn to rely totality on God. For it is not until we are broken of our pride and strength, that God can begin to remake us in His image! Our confidence should not be in us – but God! As Job discovered before him, God was there with him all along. He wasn’t alone.

1 Corthians 16

As we see in our reading Paul had a major project going on to help the Christians who in Judea who were suffering from a famine. This project had a number of objectives, to help the Christians in Judea, to build a bridge between the Gentile Christians and the Jewish Christians, and to instill the spiritual discipline of giving. Paul established a simple pattern for them to follow when they have gave. First, the Corinthians were to take a collection on the first day of every week. Paul mentioned the first day because it was the day on which early Christians gathered for worship and fellowship. This was the practice of the Lord’s church to gather together on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). This day became known as the Lord’s day (Rev. 1:10). Paul insisted that each one contribute. The apostle expected every Christian in Corinth to give to the collection. Yet, each person was not to give a specific amount, but an amount in keeping with his income.

1 Corthians 15

The resurrection is such an amazing and wonderful promise! Paul in this discussion envisions a question about the nature of the bodies we will have in the resurrection. Paul makes two very important points! One – we will have a body, we will not be some spirit floating around. Two – the body we will have will be different! What will this body be like? “And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Phil 3:20-21) These bodies will be like our Lord’s body when he rose from the dead! He had form but his body was not like his physical body (natural body) for when He displayed his body to Thomas he had a hole in His side, but did not bleed! Our Lord would appear in a locked room and then disappear! This new body will be very different! There is no decay or death in heaven. As I sit by the bedside of so many who’s bodies are breaking down and they are facing death, I often give thanks that there will be an existence where all decay or death will exist! I look forward to that Day!!

Reflections

Today is a day to reflect over our readings. I can think of no better text to reflect on than 1 Corthians 13! The description of what true love is all about is very different from how the world sees love. keep in mind what I said in my post on this text, this text has general applications to all our relationships but the context is about our relationships in the body of Christ. Maybe it would be good to reflect first on our relationships in the Body of Christ in light of the principles found in 1 Corthians 13. I know this, when these principles are applied it changes everything and our Lord is truly glorified!

Reflections to consider

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6: 33 NIV). Jesus’s first two words are critical: “Seek first.” Seek means “to strive for diligently” or “to desire strongly.” The action is continuous. It says, “keep on striving for,” “keep on seeking,” and “keep on desiring daily.” When Jesus says, “Seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness,” it means we don’t even have to pray about what our top priority ought to be. If my number one priority in life is to seek God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, then everything I do can be ordered by two things. Where I work, how I spend my time, the person I marry, how I manage my money, what I buy always have to be sifted and sorted through one filter: “Is this for his kingdom? Does it relate to his righteousness?” Do you understand how this could transform your marriage, your work, your family, and your finances? In order to seek the kingdom, of course, you have to first seek the King—because you won’t even know where the kingdom is or what it looks like until you know the King. Seek a connection with Christ daily by reading his Word, letting him speak to you, and responding to him in prayer.
(52 Weeks with Jesus)

1 Corthians 14

This reading is often used to teach that tongue speaking is about speaking some angelic language that only God understands. There is no reason to believe that the gift here is different from the gift of tongue speaking that took place on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. “The gift of tongues is the ability (miraculously provided) to speak languages which are unknown to the speaker. … In Acts 2 we know they were speaking languages and yet some thought they were drunk. Why was that? Because they couldn’t understand what was being said. If a Jew of the Diaspora heard one of the apostles speak the language of his area, he would be impressed, but what would others think of it? Babbling. Surely that is how languages which are foreign to you sound. They sound discordant and they’re without significance to you. That is why Paul forbids their use in the assembly if no interpreter is present. The man speaking Portugese in their Greek speaking assembly is a trumpet making unintelligible sounds, he’s babbling into the air.”  (McGuiggan)

1 Corthians 13

Our reading text does such an amazing job of helping us understand what true Love is all about! Love has more to do with will, than it does with feelings. You can take any relationship in your life & read through this text and determine if you are expressing true love in that relationship. The thing to keep in mind is that it is talking about our relationship with each other in the body of Christ!  Phillips rendering of these verses is worth reproducing. “This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience – it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil nor gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails. Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that stands when all else has fallen.” 

1 Corthians 12

This chapter has always struck a cord with me! For Paul drives home the principle that when we obeyed the gospel we were placed in a community- the body of Christ, His church. We need the body and the body needs us, everyone of us has a role to play in this community! All of us are keenly aware of our strengths and weakness (we are most likely more aware of our weakness). This verse reminds us that God is also aware of whom we are with all our flaws and weaknesses. Yet we are reminded that He has a role and function for us to play in the body of Christ! Just think God put us in this space and time in His kingdom to serve His body – there is no mistake, you and I are part of God’s plan. The only question is, are you willing to become “living sacrifices” to be used by Him? For even the gifts given by the Spirit were given to serve the body of Christ.

1 Corthians 11

Over the years I have been asked about 1 Corthians 11:1-16 more than any other text in scripture. So, let me share what I have written before on this text. There are those who believe that this text is teaching a woman should be wearing a hat when they come to worship. Those who feel this way have missed a few important points in the text! The first thing to keep in mind is that I believe the question to be addressing what took place in public and not worship. It is clear that women were not to prophesy in the worship assembly (1 Cor. 14:34).  “Since the apostle specifies the exact circumstance he has in mind and this is participation in liturgy (i.e., praying and prophesying), one has clearly left Paul’s agenda to take this text to refer to what a believing woman should wear when she goes outside her home.” (College Press) The second point is that the head covering was not a hat, but a full veil! The Greek word for covering implies something – that hangs down – implied down from the head or covering the head. It also implies in usage something that went from top to bottom. “Paul is referring to a type of shawl which covered the entire body and was place over the head at the appropriate times” (Abe Lincoln) “In New Testament times, however, among both Greeks and Romans, reputable women wore a veil in public (Plutarch Quaest. Rom. xiv) and to appear without it was an act of bravado (or worse); Tarsus, Paul’s home city, was especially noted for strictness in this regard. Hence, Paul’s indignant directions in 1 Cor 11:2-16, which have their basis in the social proprieties of the time. The bearing of these directions, however, on the compulsory use of the hat by modern women in public worship would appear to be very remote.” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) Let’s not forget that the heart of the issue is women being in submission to their husbands. And the wearing of such a head covering in public in Corinth served as a sign in their culture of a woman’s dignity and honor, as well as her respect and submission of her husband. Ignoring this practice would bring dishonor to her and her husband. This is not the case in our culture here and so it is not applicable, but if one lived in the Middle East it very well might apply today.

1 Corthians 10

Paul after writing what he did about meat offered to idols – wanted to make sure the Christians in Corinth did not misunderstand that Christian can NOT take part in pagan worship! For a Christian can not participate in the worship of a pagan god. There is a good chance that Christians during this period were tempted to worship at the temples to avoid persecution or to maintain their social status in the city. Paul made it very clear that one can not take part in the Lord Supper and participate in pagan worship. Yet underlying this whole discussion is another very important principle – that each of us must be willing to sacrifice some of our freedom for the sake of others. My actions and my agenda must never be pursued if it will become a stumbling block to a brother or sister in Christ! “For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”

Reflections

Today is a day to reflect over our readings. Paul said this week: “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” Paul and met people where they were to help bring them closer to Christ and the gospel. The motivation was to save those he encountered, to help them have a hope of heaven. A question maybe to consider today;”Is that a driving motivation in our lives?” It is easy to get caught up in life and lose sight of the lost world around us!