Category: 1st and 2nd Corinthians

Abounding grace!

Scripture reading for November 28th: 2nd Corinthians 6-9

“Remember this:  Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2nd Corinthians 9:6-8

I love this passage of Scripture.  As a farmer who has sown many fields with seed, I understand the principles of sowing and reaping.  When you sow seed sparingly, you will have a problem.  Weeds will come up and choke out the small amount of seed that you placed in the ground.  If you sow plenty of seed, it will produce an abundant crop.  The seed must be turned loose and let go of into the earth in order to produce.  We can’t hold onto it and expect a crop!  Sowing must be done in faith that a harvest will come.  Our hope is in the seed and the Lord’s grace to provide water and weather.

As we give to God the tithe that belongs to Him and offerings, money is like seed sown into the kingdom of God.  We must turn loose of it and let it do it’s work of multiplication.  We give cheerfully and in faith believing that God will faithfully multiply the seed.  God promises  to make all grace abound to us!

I like the emphasis on the word “all”.  All Grace” abounds to the cheerful giver.  The giver has “all he needs” in “all things” at “all times”. God wants us to know abundance in our lives.  When we sow, we can expect blessing and sufficiency.  We actually set up a cycle of blessing that is described later in this chapter.  Our giving brings thanksgiving to God from those that are helped.  God gets tickled and gives you more seed to sow again.  This meets the needs of others who again thank God.  God gets tickled again and pours out even more blessing and multiplied seed so you can give even more!  More people are helped and thank God and the cycle goes on!  All grace abounds and you have all you need in all things at all times!

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Self examination of your soul!

Scripture reading for September 13th: 2nd Corinthians 13:1-14

Paul was coming for his third visit and promised to address their problems with the sins he listed.  Some people there were questioning Paul’s authority and the power of Christ.  He told them that every matter would be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.  He had warned them on the second visit and now was prepared to deal with those who had not repented.  “. . .since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me.  He is not weak in dealing with you but is powerful among you.  For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God’s power.  Likewise, we are weak in Him, yet by God’s power we will live with Him to serve you.” (2nd Corinthians 13:3-4)  It was Christ’s power in Paul’s weak body that made him a servant of Christ to help them.  Christ would not put up with sin in His body!

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?  And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.” (2nd Corinthians 13:5-6)   Paul told them to test themselves for Christ in their life.  The real test of true Christianity is Christ living in us.  Paul knew that Christ lived in his body and was confident that these Corinthians would see that in him.  (Galatians 2:20)  They also would be able to know whether or not Christ was in them!

Paul was writing this letter to help these Corinthian Christian make the needed corrections in their lives before he came and would need to use his authority in person.  His desire and Christ’s was for their perfection!  His final words showed his heart to these brothers:  “Finally, brothers, good-by.  Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace.  And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2nd Corinthians 13:11)

If we will take godly correction from those God places in our lives, we will make progress towards perfection!  If we don’t aim for perfection, we surely won’t hit it by accident!  We must help one another in order to make progress and to work at living in peace.  God will work in us and love us to perfection!

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If I love you more, will you love me less?

Scripture reading for September 12th: 2nd Corinthians 12:11-21

Paul continued his defense of his own ministry, blaming the Corinthians for driving him to this.  “I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing.  The things that mark an apostle–signs, wonders and miracles–were done among you with great perseverance.” (2nd Corinthians 12:11-12)  Paul did not consider himself to be anything.  But he did do the things that mark apostles of Jesus Christ in their midst.  God had used him to preach the Gospel and they were saved as a result of his ministry.  He had done other signs during his ministry there.  This should have brought commendation.

“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.  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?” Paul wasn’t after their money or possessions, as some of the “false apostles” had been.  He considered himself like their parents.  He wanted to be with them and bless them, gladly spending himself for their welfare.  He loved them as Christ loved them, willing even to lay down his life for them.

Paul went on to explain that all he had written was for their strengthening and that he had written what was needed in the sight of God.  ” 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 quarreling, jealousy, outburst of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.  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.” (2nd Corinthians 12:20-21)  His love for them warned them of his coming so that they may repent and be found free from these sins!  Examine your own life today for these sins!  Jesus is coming soon!

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Delighting in weaknesses!

Scripture reading for September 11th: 2nd Corinthians 12:1-10

Paul continued his boasting by talking in the third person about a man who was caught up to heaven.  “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.  He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.” (2nd Corinthians 12:2-4)  The false apostles had stories, but Paul had a personal experience that he could only relay as if it happened to someone else.  He had a vision or maybe an experience in his body that only God knew how it occurred.  This person was caught up to paradise and heard some things that he was not allowed to express or tell.

Paul told them that he refrained from any more boasting so that people would not put him on a different level and cause him to have pride.  God also was concerned about Paul’s pride as well!  “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me 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.  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.” (2nd Corinthians 12:7-10)

Much has been written about Paul’s thorn in the flesh.  Some say it was a physical ailment related to Paul’s eyesight.  Others believe it was the false apostles that continued to attack the church.  Paul did seek the Lord about the removal of this thorn and God told him simply to abide in His grace.  For Christ’s sake, Paul chose to delight in his weaknesses and trials for the Gospel.  He learned that Christ’s power rested on him and worked through him in these trials.  We can all learn from this truth!

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A fool for Christ!

Scripture reading for September 10th: 2nd Corinthians 11:16-33

Paul continued to write to the Corinthians about the contrast between his ministry and that of the false teachers.  He was jealous for them as one who had promised them to Christ.  (2nd Corinthians 11:1-3)  Paul turned to the use of sarcasm and boasting to try and open their hearts again.

“I repeat:  Let no one take me for a fool.  But if you do, then receive me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting.  In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool.  Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast.  You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise!  In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face.  To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!” (2nd Corinthians 11:16-21)  Paul admitted that boasting was not from the Lord.  He was using the world’s ways like the fools who had used these methods to enslave the Corinthians.  He sarcastically remarked that they put up with fools because ‘they were so wise’!  Paul himself never exploited them or took advantage of them.

Paul’s credentials as an apostle were then laid out for them.  He was a Hebrew and a descendant of Abraham.  He was a servant of Christ who had endured prison, flogging, beatings with rods, stoning, and shipwreck.  He had been constantly on the move, avoiding bandits, persecution from other Jews, false brothers, and Gentiles.  He went without sleep, was hungry and thirsty, and cold and naked.  All this he had endured for the cause of Jesus Christ!

A greater concern than the physical dangers he suffered was his care for all the churches.  (2nd Corinthians 11:28-29)  Paul hurt with those who were weak and in danger of leaving the faith.  He felt a deep burden when one of the brothers or sisters was led into sin by Satan or false teachers.  His boasting was not of his great strength, prophesies, preaching and powerful miracles.  He was boasting in his weakness and God’s faithfulness to bring him through!   Do you boast of your weakness and trials, or of your own accomplishments?  May we all be ‘fools for Christ’!

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Satan’s deception in the church!

Scripture reading for September 9th: 2nd Corinthians 11:1-15

The church at Corinth had been infiltrated by false teachers claiming to be ‘apostles of Jesus Christ’.  (2nd Corinthians 11:13)  These teachers had maligned Paul and promoted themselves and their ‘ministry’.  Their disguise was a direct counterfeit to the true apostles.  They were deceiving the church and dividing off the members.

“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 one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” (2nd Corinthians 11:2-4)

Satan was using these false teachers to lead the church members astray.  They preached another gospel that had no power to save!  They used the name of Jesus Christ, but their Jesus was also a counterfeit.  He was not the  Son of God, crucified for the sins of the world and raised from the dead!  They also had a spirit working with them but it was not the Holy Spirit of God, sent to mark the heirs of salvation.

An effective counterfeit has to resemble the truth.  These false apostles tried to imitate Paul in their language, terminology, and effects.  They were good talkers, but were out for gain.  (2nd Corinthians 11:5-7) Paul had come preaching the true Gospel but was not an eloquent speaker.  The false apostles made fun of him because he did not charge great fees, but sought to work with his hands to provide for himself.  But Paul would continue in his ways and trust God to expose these counterfeits.  (2nd Corinthians 11:12)

Satan loves deception because he can only lie! (John 8:44)  He still uses ‘false apostles’, ‘false prophets’, and ‘false teachers’.  Many appear as ‘angels of light’ and deceive many from the ways of truth.  Be sure and check out those who you are following and allowing to feed you .  Use the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit for discernment.   (2nd Peter 3:17) This kind of deception is increasing  in the last days before Jesus returns.

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Spiritual weapons of power!

Scripture reading for September 8th: 2nd Corinthians 10:1-18

Paul appealed to these Corinthians in the ‘meekness and gentleness of Christ.’  He had written this letter to deal with some issues that needed correction.  A proper attitude must be kept when bringing correction.  A preacher must not be under a fear of man but have a strong fear of God and be bold to deal with the problems and strongholds.  Paul was using his authority to build up the church, not pull it down.  (2nd Corinthians 10:8)

Some of the problems in this Corinthian church were spiritual strongholds.  “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 pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  And we will punish every act of disobedience once your obedience is complete.” (2nd Corinthians 10:3-6)  There were false teachers in this church that had tried to sow discord and division in the church.  They had turned some away from the Gospel that Paul had preached.  Paul was fighting to break these strongholds of wrong doctrine and thinking with spiritual weapons.  These weapons were divinely powerful and able to demolish the arguments and lies of these false teachers.

Some spiritual weapons listed by Paul were faith, the truth of God’s word, righteousness, prayer in the Spirit, and the Gospel message.  These weapons brought God’s power to bear to take thoughts captive and bring proper thinking to those who had been deceived.  Many of our battles are fought in our own minds.  Satan tries to lie and deceive us with schemes to take us into the flesh.  Satan uses money, sex, and power to lure people away from serving the Lord.  Through the spiritual weapons, the victory is won!

Do you know someone who is under an attack in their minds today?  Are you struggling to maintain an attitude of faith and bring your thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ?  Why not take up these divinely powerful weapons and use them to bring victory?   Today is the day of salvation and now is the best time!

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God loves the cheerful giver!

Scripture reading for September 7th: 2nd Corinthians 9:1-15

How do you respond when the preacher calls for the offering?  What is you feeling when he asks for a second offering to help with missions or benevolence?  Do you find yourself groaning or speaking negatively to yourself?  If you have trouble with these questions, the Lord wants to help you with a new attitude!

Paul was preparing the Corinthians for his own coming to receive an offering for the saints at Jerusalem and did not want to come and find them unprepared.  “So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish arrangements for the generous gift you had promised.  Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.  Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2nd Corinthians 9:5-7)

Notice how Paul encouraged them to give.  They were to plan ahead what they should give.  Each person should decide in his heart what to give.  No one should put pressure on them or force them, because this would make them reluctant or grudging givers.  They should be like farmers sowing seeds for a harvest.  The more seed they sowed, the bigger would be their harvest.  They should plant this giving seed with a cheerful heart of faith because God would bring a harvest.  God loves cheerful givers because that is how He gives to us!  “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2nd Corinthians 9:8)

God supplies the needs of His people through faithful giving.  This brings praise to His Name and a supply of blessing to those who give!  “This service that you perform (generous, cheerful giving) is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies you confession of the Gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and everyone else.” (2nd Corinthians 9:12-13) Let’s cause an overflow of thanksgiving by giving!

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Integrity with church finances!

Scripture reading for September 6th: 2nd Corinthians 8:16-24

Paul had asked the Corinthians to prepare an offering for the needy church in Jerusalem.  They were asked to do this willingly and Paul promised them that this offering would be handled with great care and integrity.  He was sending a small team of respected ministers led by Titus.

“And we are sending along with him (Titus), the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the Gospel.  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.  We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift.  For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.” (2nd Corinthians 8:18-21)   Even back in Paul’s day, financial accountability was considered to be proper.  Money has a way of bringing temptations and men should not be left alone with large amounts of money.  Even men of God have been tempted and led astray.  At least two people were used to bring integrity to the administration and transport of their offering.

Integrity in the receiving and distribution of God’s money is important today.  When there is misuse of funds or a church finds out its finances have been mishandled, great confusion and harm to the kingdom can result.  Church offerings should be counted by two people who are unrelated.  There should be checks and balances on spending of church money.  The church board should have access to records of all income and all money spent on at least a monthly basis. Church books should be open to church members if there are questions.

Integrity is right in God’s eyes too!  He is watching how we handle His money.  He knows every penny that comes in and how it is spent.  Are you accountable to God in handling your personal finances?  Are you managing your finances in such a way that God is able to bless you?  Every church member should practice integrity in their own finances each day!  If we are faithful in this little thing, He will bless us with much more later.  (Matthew 25:21)

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The grace of giving!

Scripture reading for September 5th: 2nd Corinthians 8:1-15

“And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.  Out of the most 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 saints.” (2nd Corinthians 8:1-4)  This amazing grace that was given by God to the Macedonian churches caused them to cheerfully beg Paul to give an offering for the saints in Jerusalem.  Wow!  This is amazing!  I have never had any church beg me to take an offering to send to another church!  Not only that, but these churches were going through a severe trial and they gave out of their extreme poverty!  Paul states that they even gave beyond their ability!

How was this possible?  What motivated them to give so extravagantly?  It was a gift of grace from God!  Paul used this example of Macedonia to inspire the church at Corinth.  He was encouraging them, not commanding them to give.  (2nd Corinthians 8:8)  He reminded them of God’s grace though Jesus Christ.  Christ had all the riches of heaven, but chose to become poor and live among us that through His poverty we might become rich!  Christ’s humble grace of giving His life for us should motivate us to give to Christ!  We have truly been made rich in Him!

Paul encouraged the church to finish receiving the offering that they had started.  They were to simply give out of what they had and that would please God.  It was a willing heart that God would be pleased with.  If they would give willingly out of what they had, the need would be met.  At another time the church that they gave to might help them in their time of need.  God’s grace flows through the body as we willingly give!

God is the great giver!  When we give, we reflect His character.  He wants us to excel in this grace of giving, so He gives us opportunities to give often.  Why not offer yourself to God today to be a blessing to someone in need?  Plead with God for the opportunity to give!  You will truly be blessed!

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