Speaking Encouragement and Seeing the Big Picture – 6-13-22

 “And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak,” 2 Corinthians 4:13 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! And we pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Second Corinthians chapter 4 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

The Light of Christ’s Gospel

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor [a]handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Cast Down but Unconquered

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.

13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

Seeing the Invisible

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 4:2 adulterating the word of God

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Acts 4:12- “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

Welcome back – I hope you had a blessed weekend and stayed focused on Kingdom business.

Last week Paul was defending his ministry and now Paul is presenting to us struggles and spiritual insight and encouragement – where his struggles, my struggles, your struggles and the church in Corinth’s struggles all overlap. We learn we have more in common than that with was dividing us (back in the First letter to the Corinthians). And we get refocused and redirected back on track for kingdom work.

What a great way to start the week – refocused!

Of course he starts off where we left off on Friday – Paul was implying that others are mishandling, adulterating, and corrupting the word of God and the Gospel message.

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

My methodology for discussing the scriptures is not crafty. I don’t usually find cleaver catch phrases. I even struggle to title each post. But I come with the word and with it as clean and pure as I can offer it. I do my best to not screw up – and to keep any poison, mud, or corruption from trickling in. Because the Word is what has the power, not me.
We are ALL called to share this good news – and I am so glad it doesn’t need to have fog machines and light shows in order to be effective. Just the word of our testimony: I was one way and He saved me and made me another way. And then the story of the gospel: which is simply: Jesus loves you and takes a vested interest in your life. He died and rose to forgive you of your sins so you can come to him and access His power in you.
That is it – nothing man made can match the power of the clean truth.
And when the Bible says signs and wonders will follow those who believe – well follow might be the operative word. If you sit home – still they cannot happen, you have to be moving for them to follow. You go to church every Sunday, but the signs and wonders aren’t for the fat babies I the pews. The signs and wonders help draw men to God.

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

You see, the world doesn’t know the gospel. The ones who walked away do not know – cause if they knew they would not have bowed. I know, I had a large portion of the Bible memorized and I still walked away. I did not renounce God and I still prayed. But I slid far from the truth – and why? It was all in my head but not in my heart. There was still a veil between me and truth. The little g, gods of this world has blinded. And still throws shade (literally) every chance he gets.
So it is futile to speak the gospel, our testimony, and Jesus’s love to the lost? Actually, yes. BUT only in the flesh. Because it is God who can remove the veil – through the word being spoken and explained in purity. Because the pure word is the truth. And Jesus is the truth – so we speak Jesus into the clouded veil.

For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

How else can Jesus be shown? He is the word, he is the truth, and he sets people free. Let’s read that again:
“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”
God commands light to shine, to reveal knowledge of Him in our hearts!
And it happened simply by us sharing what God has done in our lives – and if he did it in my life, can’t he also do it in yours?!

SO as Paul defends his calling and God’s ministry through him – we all, begin called to help save the lost, start to find ourselves in the things Paul is saying. And hopefully the church in Corinth can start to see some common ground as well.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” 
You see it isn’t Paul, it is GOD. It isn’t me, who doesn’t even put my name on this? why? Because it is not mine – all glory to GOD! It is Him who speaks to you and touches you. Thank you Lord! Thank you Jesus!

And as simple as that sounds – it is a plan that is heavily attacked and brutalized by the enemy. So, it is also easy to feel down cast, oppressed, and attacked.

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—“ 2 Cor. 4:8-9 NKJV

I don’t know about the rest of you, but these are some very relatable feelings for me! The battles just do not let up and it is one thing after another. By the way, attacks from the enemy are easily identified by the strategy of ‘one thing after another’. I had so much hitting me, I had to stop talking about it all, it was so much – I was looking to God to help save me or to give me a shift from it, to stop it from taking my time. But that is hard when everything is breaking and dying and being stolen in and around you.  I am a weak human, not a warrior angel – it is hard. We might cry out to man for help – BUT ONLY GOD can really help you! So, just yell to heaven: “Help!”
First God reminded me to stay focused on HIM and His work; always staying kingdom focused. (Eyes on Jesus.) No matter what, God is always bigger.
Then this verse in 2 Corinthians 4 came to me reminding me that even thought I go through all of this – I am NOT destroyed. And Paul shares his struggles with us, so we can relate, share ours with each other and stand together! Even though we are hard-pressed, we are NOT crushed. Even though it is heavy – we are still standing.
Even if we are at the brink of death, we are still in our Daddy’s (God’s) hands. Paul understood something profound when he penned these word – because they breathe life. They stir encouragement. They strengthen resolve and all that is weak. The enemy tried to kill you, and failed! You are still here! The enemy tried to distract you and even though that battle was hard and you may have look away, you looked back and your faith is built more and here you stand. The enemy CANNOT have you! God is protecting you though it all! Stand therefore and having done all stand! Because you are not destroyed!  Thank you Jesus! Thank you God! Hallelujah!

10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.”

In context – there is a life and death battle over you – over the physical body. But life is more powerful. And even in death we receive eternal life. Paul looked at life and death differently than our modern world looks at it. To Paul, being alive on earth meant nothing more than please the Lord and doing His will and to die on earth is to gain the kingdom and eternity.
This same battle is working in us, for example we may get sick – that is a type of death. So we pray for healing and it is LIFE. Maybe we should focus more on speaking this life that works within us into our dying world around us – If we are pressed and in battle – we might as well fight back. And we can because we always carry inside us all the power and glory of the death and resurrection of our king!

“And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak,” 

It reminds me of the prophets of old –
And Micaiah said, “As the LORD lives, whatever the LORD says to me, that I will speak.” 1 Kings 22:14 NKJV
We must be careful of what we speak and do not speak. We should be careful that we are in line with his will in action AND in words.

Which is true and good, however verse 13 actually is cross referencing the 116 chapter of Psalms. David is praising the Lord for being delivered from death. Which makes a lot of sense in a chapter of Corinthians where Paul is praising God for deliverance from death and teaching us how to be encouraged and see that God is also delivering us!  I will add Psalm 116 below for your convenience.

14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.”

In literal sense, especially after all the life & death talk this is talking about when we die, we are raised to heaven. As the Pharisees called it – resurrected to heaven. But the strength and hope of all of this is not the literal. It is our ability, Paul’s ability and the Corinthians’ ability to apply this to their struggles. Not that we are waiting around for death – obviously, while in this battle we are fighting for our lives.
If you are to be raise up – you must first be low. The principle of being humble and repentant is always the shortcut to being raised up in victory! Paul reminds us that when Jesus dies and became low – then he was raised. Similar to our study in Romans about repenting and dying to self – humbling ourselves. Therein is our victory!  

15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.”

These things are for us – for our sake! Why? GRACE! If not for grace, where would we be? It is so we can have a real tangible experience with grace and as I ALWAYS say – everything grace touches is transformed! Because grace is an actionable thing! And its action is to transform! That transformation glorifies our Father! AND THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT!  The point is to live in a way that people look at us and see Jesus, are pointed to the father and He is Glorified!

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”

This is so encouraging. I don’t know about you but God really encouraged me and renewed me today with these words! I will not lose heart!

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment…”

Wait, what? Light?! Oh man! Lord I don’t know if I am cut out for this! I need your help! I cannot do it without you!

But it is light. I have heard many people say Paul is comparing it to the death of Jesus. However the first century church had suffered deaths equally as brutal, almost all of the apostles were martyred along with regular church goers. Just look up the history of Christians and the Roman Colosseum. Yeah… Paul was NOT comparing to Jesus’s death.
Let me propose that Paul was comparing to the only thing worse – hell. It is a pit built and designed to torture and slowly kill angelic beings. Not made for humans. We are much too fragile for it. But though the enemy’s trickery – and a strategy of if I lose, I take what you love with me – human are lining up to ride into hell in a handbasket and think they will enjoy a party. Hell is a serious matter. It isn’t supposed to be for us – we must flee into the Lord’s loving arms and be saved from the lies which drag us there.

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Well, look at that – we came to the same conclusion. If we take our eyes off of the spirit things, heaven, kingdom mindedness, and God – we lose perspective. What is NOT seen is real. What we do see is temporary. Let’s stay focused in the battle.

Here is Psalm 116 in case you wanted to see the reference that Paul was making:
“I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”
Gracious is the 
Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling. I will walk before the 
Lord In the land of the living. 10 I believed, therefore I spoke, “I am greatly afflicted.” 11 I said in my haste, “All men are liars.”
12 What shall I render to the 
Lord For all His benefits toward me? 13 I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord. 14 I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people.
15 Precious in the sight of the 
Lord Is the death of His saints.
16 
Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the Lord.
18 I will pay my vows to the 
Lord Now in the presence of all His people, 19 In the courts of the Lord’s house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!”

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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