Concluding our Study of the Letters to Corinth – 6-24-22

Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11 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 13 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Coming with Authority

13 This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent [a]I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare— since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you [b]are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.

Paul Prefers Gentleness

Now [c]I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. 10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.

Greetings and Benediction

11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

13 All the saints greet you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the [d]communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 13:2 NU omits I write
  2. 2 Corinthians 13:5 do not stand the test
  3. 2 Corinthians 13:7 NU we
  4. 2 Corinthians 13:14 fellowship

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:

This book has been an emotional rollercoaster for Paul: he tries gentle and then hits hard, then backpedals into a gentle approach and hard again – throughout the book. I personally think that is what makes it the most confusing to most, along with the sarcasm.
Not to mention he says he is never coming to see them again, then he says he is coming, finally he says: if I come.
Historically we have lost some context, like possibly another letter and this leads to our confusion, but not to the original readers who not only understood but were able to preserve this letter so we can read it today (it seems someone there heeded Paul’s teachings).
And today we conclude the book with some of the most direct statements from Paul showing both spiritual principles and doctrine that were the core of the original belief that became Christianity today. Some of these ideas have changed in our 2000 years of learning – but maybe it is time to go back to these in original form and warn the church.

1This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare –“

Today’s reading starts with Paul explaining authority, power, and process of God – and therefore God through him.
2 or 3 witnesses, let every word be established. This pattern here and usually in our lives is: FIRST, it is impressed upon you, either by someone saying it or an idea or a dream or God said or however. SECOND, it is written in the word of God confirming it. Paul used written word as number three, but I put it as number two because that is enough – 2 or 3 witnesses and the word of God must be one of them.  I always press God for a third witness, I want to make sure. SO THIRD is a brother or sister in Christ, like Paul, or your preacher, or your mentor, or a Christian devo, Bible Study, teacher, service you saw on social media – if of course that third source is vetted and trusted, (meaning NOT from a false teacher or false prophet).
I put these studies out there and I pray something in them touches you; that God moves. I also pray He confirms it for you so you know God has spoken to you. This is a vital principle in our walk with God. I often have my own confirmations on these blog posts: I will schedule one and then hear a sermon that speaks on some of it or all of it, confirming to me that I am on the right path.
Another example is my business. God gave me the business with 3 witnesses AND supernatural provisions, of which I am only able to do that type of business with. Then when the great struggle came into my life in every area, and affected my finances, I was seeking God to make sure I was still on the right path. Do you want me to go find a job and close the business? Do you want me to change what I do? And I got nothing. So, I stay on the same path, doing the same thing, because THAT is what I have the witnesses and confirmation and know that I know that God said to do that.
Live with this principle.

The end of verse 2 is the final time where Paul says: Don’t make me stop this car! Or Don’t make me come down there! Or Don’t make me take you outside! Or Don’t make me call your father! And Don’t make me stop what I am doing and come there!
It is the proverbial threat that is known in all cultures, globally AND apparently historically. Paul understand his authority and that in his authority alone he can, and will, handle it – but he is also about to explain God (the Father’s) authority as well. They need a little fear of God!

It was the 13th Chapter of the first letter to Corinth that Paul reminded us of God’s love and we were praying for more of God’s love in us. We also prayed to fall back in love with God and be restored to our first love. And it is so easy to get swept up in love and begin to take advantage of the other’s long suffering. We need a balance of both being swept up in the love with God and acknowledging His authority, mercy, power, grace and judgment, and fearing the Lord.
And it is from a place of love, parental love, that Paul speaks. First in the authority God gave him then in reminder of God’s authority.

since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you.”

I hate separating verses 3 and 4 – but verse 3 says something deep without saying it and it is worth pointing out. Paul says Christ is mighty IN YOU. And Paul has been defending Christ in himself. BUT shouldn’t Christ recognize himself? Shouldn’t my spirit bear witness to confirm that another IS right with Christ? If their spirit is not bearing witness, then maybe Christ is not mighty in them.
I am not a fan of heresy hunters and I did point out there are false prophets who are popular in the US and how I was stirred and almost deceived. But God rose him up and God will take him down, not me. It is ONLY because Christ is mighty in me that my spirit was able to stir and quake and break through that thick lie to show me the truth. Others, who I know to be mighty men of God, have fallen for him. And in our pride we look at me and say: do you think you are better than us for discerning that? NO! And I tell you as a warning, because I almost didn’t! Paul says Christ is mighty in them, yet they fail to discern if Christ is in or not in another. The deception is great, the doubting if you are correct or not is great, it is so easy to mess this one up. Paul is on this point hard, because even the very elect could fall:
 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Matt. 24:24 NKJV

But back to the contextual argument Paul is making – which is

For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.”

Christ died in weakness – actually is was in strength because he carried all of our sins with Him into the grave. But they mean weakness in that Jesus had the power and authority to call down Armageddon and put an end to it all, and not have to die. But for our sakes, he did not and he sacrificed himself for us.  Even his weakness seem pretty strong – and Paul knows it!
Look, if that is his weakness, and we are also weak (because we do not have God powers) then once He is within us – how much power and authority we have!

Paul is saying we have authority and power in Christ! This is a very meek way of saying it – but we have been given authority when we entered into this relationship. We have ALL authority and ALL power to accomplish His will! If only we actually acted like it.
Modern churches are teaching that healing was for a time without medicine – the Holy Spirit was only to hold us over until we developed the New Testament in written and published form – and that signs and wonders were only so we knew who the apostles were. BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS!  Have you bought the lies? Are you living in the authority of your calling? Are you living in the power of Who God created you to be?

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.”

Paul challenges the people in every church to examine themselves. In Thessalonians we studied that we should examine ourselves before we take communion. In Romans we studied to examine ourselves and kill the flesh. And so on… here we should examine that we haven’t disqualified ourselves.

What does disqualified mean? Well it is intentionally a broad sweeping word And I think Paul meant it as inclusive of all meanings. Once saved, but then disqualified from heaven, meaning you somehow lost your salvation along the way – is one way to look at it. We know Paul, John, and other First Century writers believed we could lose our salvation. Another meaning could be that they become disqualified from their calling or position. Like Paul disqualified himself from being able to tell them what to do, because he left them and was hard on them in letters. This doesn’t mean he won’t get into heaven. I think Paul meant it as both. Unless people were saying Paul lost his salvation, then he only meant it in relation to losing your salvation.

“Check your self before you wreck yourself” is a common phrase used at this point in this book.  It’s cute and focus on the correction – but the hour is getting late and I feel I will be wrong if I do not point out that we should understand it is possible to start sliding or even slide away completely and still be in the church. It is possible to be so wrong you do not make it into heaven while you still do work for Jesus. (Jesus said so himself.)  This is a serious matter and I cannot make cute f it as I know how quickly I slid away once and how I fight not to be drawn away again. Yes we are all weak, but also the deception is strong in these times.

Paul goes from YOU MIGHT GO TO HELL! To softer and gentler in order to make a point here: he would prefer to be gentle and not have to correct them.

Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. 10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.”

When you are in a critical and destructive environment it is easy to confuse truth and edification with just more of the same. I feel for Paul and really hope these Corinthians responded positively to this message.

We do know from history that they did come through with the offering. I am not sure how generous or if it was lacking. I just know there is a record of it happening.

11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you. 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”

Instead of getting into how we should pray for each other and comfort each other or even how to become complete, let’s circle back to the offering. Last week we prepared and on Sunday we gave a big, generous gift to God out of Love and to put to practice what we had just studied.
Then Monday of this week we returned for more lessons of planting seeds with our offering and getting a return on investment from God. So I challenged you to spend this week preparing an even better offering for God!!

Last week I had a need and prayed for the money for it and for money for the offering. I also took my most expensive materials and made keyrings for all of the pastor’s as part of my offerings and gifts to God. AND I found money in an old pocketbook and it was just enough for both. I came home with my purchase and my change that I was going to give as last week’s offering and while cleaning a cluttered catch-all I found a few more dollars. Now I was back to the original amount I found. So, on Sunday I put it all in the offering plate, and I made sure I was smiling and said thank you Jesus as I did.
Before I left the building I was blessed with a Pentecostal hand-shake. You may have heard the term before? It is when someone hands you money and says the Lord told them to give it to me. $25 – which is enough to give this coming Sunday and be an even bigger gift! Remember we are talking about a gift above and beyond our tithes. So I slid the money into my Bible for Sunday. But I need gas for the car. But the food pantry boxes are showing up with less and less because of the economy. But the dog needs food soon. But I’d like some coffee or tea to drink instead of just water. But…..
But, we’ve been challenged, NOT BY ME, but by God giving us a giving lesson (one last week and one this week). And the challenge is to give another great gift to God. SO I am making expensive keyrings as offerings to other men and women of God who are supporting me and teaching me. AND I have the money (the $25), but Lord, please provide more for the offering. And God, I also need $850 for the mortgage and $500 more for the rest of the bills, and maybe some for foods and house hold?
In the mail came a check the exact amount as the mortgage this month! No lie! Praise the Lord!
but I looked at it and thought of how much more is needed and I expected a God of exceedingly abundant – so I asked: is that it? and he looked back down at me – I hung my head in shame. I should be more grateful. I am grateful. But I am also asking and expecting BIG things – BIGGER.
I suppose I must learn to crawl before I run. The mortgage and bills aren’t even due for another week, so I will take part of this as well as my giving and let God refill it. If he did it once, he can do it again! If he gave me $25 in hand, he can give me $250 or $2,500!

And I am thrilled to report that I have had at least one sale per week in the business which is a huge jump. It is adding activity and excitement of happy customers and good reviews to the social media and the website. I praise and thank God because it is beginning to grow again!   And yes, I am tithing on each sale – my check is already made out and ready for Sunday as I work on the offering to go with it. It will be epic!

Have a blessed weekend. Join us for some wisdom reading from the Psalms and come back on Monday when we can discuss how our offering challenge went this week, (I am expecting testimonies in the comments about the outcomes of sowing seeds – especially since I know the results can be instantaneous!) And we start a new book!!! Yep – we are starting the book of Philippians – another powerful life changing letter written by Paul.

***

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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