Category: 1st and 2nd Corinthians

Healthy self-examination

Scripture reading for October 4th: 2nd Corinthians 13

Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 13:2-7 “I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them–since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For He was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but in dealing with you we will live with Him by the power of God. Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

Paul, as a pastor and apostle, was watchful over the flock of God. He warned those in the congregation on his second visit about sinning and even earlier had instructed them how discipline a sinning brother. In this letter he had instructed them on restoration of the repentant brother. Paul again warned them that if he came again a third time, he would still deal with those who were not living in holiness. Even in his weakness, they would experience the power of God flowing through him to bring order and discipline to cases established by two or more witnesses. Each person was called to examine their own hearts about their relationship with Christ Jesus. “Is Christ in you?” was the question to be answered. If indeed Christ was living in them, sin could not dwell in their midst. Paul preferred to come and build them up, not discipline them.

2nd Corinthians 13:9-10 “For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. For this reason I write these thing while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for a pastor’s heart of love and watchfulness and tenderness towards Your flock. Help me to grow in watchfulness and ability to gently instruct and correct those who are caught in webs of sin. May I never use the authority You give except under the leading and power of the Holy Spirit. Let it be for building up, not tearing down.

2nd Corinthians 13:11 “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

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Boasting in our weakness

Scripture reading for October 1st: 2nd Corinthians 12

Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 12:7-9 “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Paul told the Corinthian church briefly about the great revelations he had received when he was caught up into the third heaven, the dwelling place of God. This place is also called ‘paradise’ and Paul was unsure whether he had gone there in bodily form or it was an ‘out of body’ experience. He had heard things there that he was forbidden by God to talk about. So Paul had a ‘thorn given me in the flesh’, ‘a messenger of Satan’ to harass him and keep him humble. Paul had prayed to God to take it away, but God spoke to him about grace. God’s favor would be sufficient for Paul. God’s power would be made perfect in Paul’s weakness. This Word brought peace to Paul and he was now content to boast in his weakness that Christ’s power would rest on him. It is interesting we do not find him binding Satan or continuing to pray for removal. He simply rested and accepted this ‘thorn’, whatever it was, allowing God’s power to rest on him. It appears that the thorns in believer’s lives can take many forms but the result is the same–weakness leading to more grace and power.

2nd Corinthians 12:10 “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You that Your grace is sufficient for me in every trial, persecution, hardship, or even calamity. For the sake of Your Son, Who was made weak by bearing my sins, I accept my weakness and Your grace. I invite You to let Your power flow through me to preach the Gospel and bring healing and salvation to the lost.

2nd Corinthians 12:14-15 “Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. . . . I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. . .”

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Deceived by the serpent!

Scripture reading for September 30th: 2nd Corinthians 11

Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 11:1-4 “I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 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.”

Paul, as a pastor, was concerned for the spiritual welfare of the church in Corinth. He was aware of the spiritual warfare going on with the forces of darkness who were using false apostles and false teachers to undermine the true Gospel and pervert the people from a sincere devotion to Christ Jesus. He shared his concern likening the deception to that that the ‘serpent’ (Satan) used to deceive Eve in the Garden of Eden. The serpent cast doubt on God’s authority and twisted God’s Word. The serpent implied God was holding out giving them knowledge that would enable them to be God. He offered ‘forbidden fruit’ to eat and Eve ate it up. Paul’s concern was that these believers would swallow the lies of false apostles, preaching ‘another Jesus’, not Jesus Christ the Son of God, crucified and risen as Lord. They had another spirit, not the Holy Spirit and preached another gospel, not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Deception must be exposed by truth and pastors must watch over the flock of God.

2nd Corinthians 11:13-15 “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for pastors who are watchful over Your flock. Protect me and Your Church from the cunning and deception of these last days and use me to warn and protect the flock by teaching truth and modeling a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Give Your people a discerning appetite to avoid swallowing deception and receiving a different Jesus, an unholy spirit, and a false gospel.

Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

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Giving should be willing and cheerful

Scripture reading for September 28th: 2nd Corinthians 9

Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 9:5-8 “So I though it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction. The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

Paul explained to the Corinthians that he had been boasting about their willingness and readiness to give. To be sure that this was the case, he was sending brothers in advance to arrange for the gift and give time to have it ready when Paul arrived. He did not want to pressure them in person and these men were also not part of pressure. Paul carefully explained to all giving was to be an act of faith from a willing heart. No one was twisting arms. Giving also should be done cheerfully, not grudgingly or with reluctance. God is watching the offerings and those giving and He loves to reward those doing so cheerfully by faith. Paul used the example of planting seed. To harvest a big crop, seed must be sowed abundantly. God brings the increase in the crops planted and He also brings back a harvest from giving into His work. How much do you want to harvest?

2nd Corinthians 10:10 “He Who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, supplier of every good and perfect gift, and seed for those sowing, thank You for first giving to us that we might be able to give at all. Help me to keep an open hand to give to Your work and to keep a cheerful and faith-filled heart when giving to ministry and those in need. I want to reap a harvest of righteousness and have plenty of seed to sow again!

Proverbs 11:24-25 “One gives freely yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”

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The grace of giving!

Scripture reading for September 27th: 2nd Corinthians 8

Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 8:1-5 “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints–and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord, and then by the will of God to us.”

Paul now turns to boast on the churches in Macedonia and God’s amazing grace of giving that had caused them to respond with generosity. Giving is a gift of God’s grace. It is natural for worldly people to want to hold onto what they have, especially during hard times when the fears of poverty and need are strongest. But the believers in Macedonia exceeded Paul’s expectations and he noted the special grace of giving among them. The first had given themselves to the Lord and as a result of that, they could then give themselves to generosity to Paul and the ministry team. They were going through affliction and trials of poverty and persecution, but God had given them joy in abundance and a willingness to give that caused them to ask for the privilege of giving. If you want to be blessed, ask God to give you this ‘grace of giving’ and choose to excel in it!

2nd Corinthians 8:7 “But you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you–see that you excel in this act of grace also.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for being a generous and giving and loving Father to us Your children. Pass on to me and my children and brothers and sisters in Christ this amazing ‘grace of giving’. Help me to excel in it to bring glory to Your Son, Jesus Christ and be a blessing to Your Church and world mission.

Acts 20:35 “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

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Godly grief and true repentance

Scripture reading for September 24th: 2nd Corinthians 7

Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 7:8-12 “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it–though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a little while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”

Sin in our life or the church causes us or the church family grief. Sin, when confronted, also can cause grief to the individual who is harboring it or to the church family to whom the one caught in sin belongs. Paul had confronted the elders in Corinth of their need to discipline the man caught in sexual sin with his own mother-in-law. They had responded by putting him out of the body, as he recommended. In this letter Paul had asked them to receive back the one they had disciplined lest he be overcome with excessive grief. There are two kinds of grief–worldly grief is just sorry that they were found out. This kind of grief leads to more sin and eventually death. Godly grief leads to a deep regret that causes a change in mind, attitude and behavior and produces restoration and spiritual life. All discipline has the goal of restoration and life.

2nd Corinthians 7:1 “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of the Lord.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for being our Father and calling us to repentance and a life of holy separation to you. Thank You for a Father’s discipline that leads to godly sorrow, repentance and life. Deliver me from any worldly sorrow and always lead me in true repentance. Help me as a father, pastor and Christ-follower to call those caught in sin to godly grief and true repentance.

Psalm 51:10-12 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

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Now is the favorable time!

Scripture reading for September 23rd: 2nd Corinthians 6

Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 6:1-4 “Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:. . .”

Procrastination is a tool of Satan to keep people from the grace of God. Paul understood this as a faithful minister of the Gospel who had worked with God to spread the good news. Many hear but think that now is not yet the time. Tomorrow may be better and today has other possibilities. Paul set these believers straight by telling them about ‘today.’ Today is the only guarantee we have for this life on earth. Now is the best time to repent and receive Jesus Christ as Lord. It is the time of favor, the year of Jubilee, where God’s favor is available to all who will listen and receive God’s grace. But don’t receive His amazing grace in vain by letting obstacles keep you from the truth. Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers who will be an obstacle and their lifestyles that will lead you away from God. Behold, now is the favorable time!

2nd Corinthians 6:14-15 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for Your amazing grace. Help me to proclaim the opportunity of ‘today’ and ‘now’ as I present the Gospel. Help me to declare Your truth and warn believers of obstacles to obtaining and keeping in the grace of God. I want to be separate from the world and it’s obstacles.

2nd Corinthians 6:16-18 “What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God has said, “I will make My dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing: then I will welcome you; and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.”

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Walking by faith through death to life!

Scripture reading for September 22nd: 2nd Corinthians 5

Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 5:1-5 “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, Who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”

Paul talked to the Corinthians about death from a Christian perspective. This was not just a ‘hope’ but something Paul knew to be true from God’s unchanging Word. He likened our earthly bodies to a tent–a temporary dwelling place. As long as we live in the ‘tent’ of the earthly body, we will groan and have a longing for that which God has prepared, a permanent dwelling, a glorified body that will live forever. He likened death to the putting off of the ‘tent’ or temporary dwelling. He likened the ‘further clothing’ to be the new body which God is preparing us for by giving us a down-payment in His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit prepares us for this amazing transition and is our guarantee that God will do what He has promised. We walk, live, and even die with faith in this amazing promise.

2nd Corinthians 5:6-8 “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith and not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for Your amazing promises of a permanent glorified body to live in for eternity in Your presence. Thank You for the Holy Spirit Who is my guarantee and helps me prepare while on earth. Use me to bring this Gospel to those groaning under the fear of death and blinded by the god of this world.

2nd Corinthians 5:9-11 “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.”

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The ‘god’ of this world and blindness

Scripture reading for September 21st: 2nd Corinthians 4

Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 4:1-4 “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s Word, but by the open statement of the truth we would 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. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God.”

Paul explained to the Corinthians that the ‘god’ of this world, Satan, was a master of cunning and deceit and used his lies to blind the minds of unbelievers to keep them from the Truth in Jesus. Paul had received the mercy of God when Jesus appeared to him on the Damascus road and asked him why he was persecuting Him. At that moment, the glory of God in Jesus Christ appeared to Paul (then Saul) and blinded him. But the veil over Paul’s heart had kept him from seeing the glory of Christ before that. When Christ’s glory broke through the veil, a blindness came to light revealing the true darkness of Paul’s soul and driving it away. God then sent Paul to Damascus to wait for Ananias to come and pray over him and give his natural sight back. Now Paul did not lose heart when spiritually blind people rejected the Gospel. He knew that the Gospel truth had the power to reveal Christ and heal their sight.

2nd Corinthians 4:5-6 “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.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for shining the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life and illuminating the darkness, driving it out through faith in Jesus Christ. As a servant of Christ and those You send me to, help me to fully proclaim “Jesus is Lord” and by the Holy Spirit break through the veils that keep men in darkness. With Your help and presence, I will never lose heart but faithfully proclaim the Gospel even as I age.

2nd Corinthians 4:16-17 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, . . ”

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Ever-increasing glory!

Scripture reading for September 20th: 2nd Corinthians 3

Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 3:9-15 “For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.”

Paul was explaining the difference between the Old Covenant of Law mediated by Moses when he met with God face to face on the mountain and the New Covenant of righteousness by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The Old Covenant came with glory–a blazing fire kindled by God’s holy presence and a holy glow on Moses’ face when he came from his meeting with God. The glow would gradually fade away so Moses put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the glory fade away. Paul stated that this same veil is still over the Israelites that rejected Christ and the veil is only removed by faith in Christ. When one turns to the Lord, the Holy Spirit brings liberty from the law of sin and death and the fading glory and gives us access to God’s holy presence. We can behold His face and be permanently transformed with glory that is ever-increasing! Halleluiah! Let me in on this!

2nd Corinthians 3:16-18 “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord Who is Spirit.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for the New Covenant provided for us through the blood sacrifice of Your Son on our behalf. Thank You for removing the veil from our minds and hearts and allowing us to behold Your transforming glory. Do whatever You desire to transform me into Your image by the Holy Spirit, from glory to glory!

Hebrews 10:12-14 “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until His enemies should be made a footstool for His feet. For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

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