Welcome to the Book of Philippians – 6-27-22

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11 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 Philippians chapter 1 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Greeting

Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the [a]bishops and deacons:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thankfulness and Prayer

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Christ Is Preached

12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole [b]palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 [c]The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

To Live Is Christ

19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I [d]cannot tell. 23 [e]For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.

Striving and Suffering for Christ

27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but [f]to you of salvation, and that from God. 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

Footnotes

  1. Philippians 1:1 Lit. overseers
  2. Philippians 1:13 Or Praetorium
  3. Philippians 1:16 NU reverses vv. 16 and 17.
  4. Philippians 1:22 do not know
  5. Philippians 1:23 NU, M But
  6. Philippians 1:28 NU of your salvation

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 to the book of Philippians. Paul and Timothy, well it was more like Paul and his whole team effort (just like all of his letters), wrote to the church in Philippi. This letter was written in response to a generous offering this church sent to help support Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome and unable to work for money. You might remember at the end of the Book of Acts, Paul was imprisoned under a form of house arrest in Rome waiting his trial before Cesare. He needed money for food and survival as well as for his lawyer and legal fees. Yet, there is no record of Paul asking for money. This church felt compelled to take up a collection and give – and what is so amazing is that these people were needy and they still took up an offering to give to help Paul.
While Paul was under house arrest, he had access to his team, to visitors, and wrote many letters to the churches.

Let’s talk for a minute about the city of Philippi. It was not like Corinth. Corinth and Ephesus (and others) are Greek cities which when Rome came through conquering, became “civilized”; which is the Roman word for Romanizing a different culture. Rome took over by letting people keep their beliefs and values and slowing twisting and assimilating them into the Roman way. But in order for Rome to be successful in maintaining areas, they had to build strongholds – planting ROMAN cities that had no Greek law or process or area King. These Roman cities had full Roman rights as if they were the actually city of Rome and answered directly to Cesare.  Philippi was one such city. It was a mini Rome. It was located a little bit in land, but strategically placed, as it originally was a fortressed, major Greek city on a major trade route of roads.  But over the years, being slightly in land, with only foot and chariot traffic and no sea traffic, the divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” grew, with more “have nots” and the city had a poverty issue.

From their struggles and Paul’s gratefulness sparking a desire to write to thank them for their gift and edify them we get some of the strongest promises of God to stand on for provisions and strength. The overall theme of the book is to be encouraged to be a mature Christian and continue to grow, even as a mature believer.

We do not grow in the Lord, and reach maturity and stop growing and struggling and trying. The human experience is about struggle and interactions and overcoming, no matter how mature you are – and understanding this and continuing to grow is fundamental to maturity.

1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:”

I am not sure if we discussed titles in the early church before, but some weird things happened in the texts from the time Paul wrote them and we received them. First of all, there were NO titles when Jesus walked the earth, except ‘disciples’ – which means disciplined student. They turned into ‘apostles’, meaning a type of teacher/leader. Those stem from Greek words with those meanings we were not really a formal title as much as a general description.
Bishops is NOT actually in the Bible. The original Greek word is: ἐπισκόποις (episkopois) which comes from ‘epi’ and ‘skopos’ meaning an overseer. There is some debate about the 1st century structure as to if the bishops were overseeing the deacons of if they answered to the deacons. Originally it was thought that the bishops over saw everything – but in typical Pauline humility, it may be they were listed first because they were lower on the chain of command and the last was actually the first.
Deacons are in the original text from διακόνοις (diakonois) meaning attendant or waiter, a server. It seems the original pastors/teachers were called deacons, but the slave who served you at the local restaurant or and of the slaves who served the upper class Romans were also called διακόνοις (diakonois). They had developed the title of the servant – and had an everyday reminder by title to be humble and serve the people. This word may have come to use from Jesus asking Peter to feed His sheep – to be the waiter and server.
Over time, as the Bible was translated and man made positions came to be the overseer was called (in the Holy Roman roots of Catholicism) the Bishop. And from there when translated to King James and other some other versions, the new man made title was inserted over the term overseer.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,”

I never tire of the importance of prayerfully greeting someone by speaking grace into their lives. Why have we put aside this tradition? Why aren’t we praying down grace and more grace while we are still in the dispensation of grace – while grace is bountifully available? How much more can we do with a bit of extra grace?!?!

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”

And boom! Before Paul is even done with the greeting we are hit with the first life changing promise of God in this book. God will finish what He started.
Did he call you as a child, but it isn’t happening yet? It will. Is God a man that he should Lie? NO (Numbers 23:19)! Will God finish what he started in my life? Yes! Will He fishing what He started in you? Yes! Will he abandon us half done? Nope! God is so Good. This is one of those verses you can stand on whenever you are in a waiting period, a growing period, and even when you are having victories – there are more to come!! Because God will not just finish the first part – He will finish It all with COMPLETE VICTORY! Completely finished! Hallelujah!

just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.”

Just because Paul was under house arrest, did NOT mean he had it easy. You cannot take a man who has run, run, run and make him hold still and not be with those he loves. I can imagine how much he longs to see them. Years ago I was drawn back to God and a church in NJ had a huge part in my return. I still join their prayer times and online services. I have gotten to know many of them and I am now, even friends with them on Facebook. But as much as I long to go visit them – I have been prevented. First it was my car (which was bad). I got a new (new to me, but old in age, used) car, but then it was an icy bad winter. As spring approached, 2020 lockdowns began. Things open up and I had covid for so long. Finally now… and gas and finances are an issue. If I long to see a body of believers who I have never met but love dearly, I can imagine that knowing them and missing them must be worse!

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

Paul’s letters also often have amazing examples of ways to pray for each other. Yesterday, a pastor I know personally but do not know well, lost his mind and publicly called out a handful of false teachers and every person ever seen in a photograph with them. Wisdom, be careful who you get photographed with. But many preachers / teachers are at these big event full of many different denominational pastors preaching. None of them agree with everything the others are saying. And IF there are false prophets in that group, the men and women of God agree with what is godly and pray against that which is not. Being at the same conference, being in photos together, interviewing each other, having a conversation, etc. does not mean they agree on everything (or even anything for that matter).
So my friend who lost his mind (I always say we are NOT heresy hunters – God lets false teachers rise up to test His elect, as we have studied – Let God expose them and bring them down. DO NOT GET IN GOD’s WAY!) Anyway, my friend, failed to expose the truth, by muddling it up with speculation and association – SO HE EVEN FAILED AT EXPOSING THE FALSE PROPHETS.
The problem was he threw in the name of another dear pastor friend of mine who I know that I know is a man of God. So now anyone who knows that is wrong, and possibly others in that list are wrong, they dismiss the whole list and never take the time to discern if anyone on that list IS ACTUALLY A FALSE PROPHET.
Here is the point – BE CAREFUL. And pray “that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment”. Operative word is LOVE. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!  And discernment and knowledge – OH LORD, OPEN OUR EYES AND UNDERSTANDING, PLEASE!
I pray this for you – pray it for me too!
Paul is praying this over a church of mature believers! Mature! It is SO POSSIBLE that mature believers can be deceived. I cannot warn on this enough as we see it over and over in all of Paul’s letters and in the gospels where Jesus warned of how easy we can be deceived! Do not be so proud to think it can’t or won’t happen to you.
Please spend time in the word of God seeking Him about who you should follow and pray about it. Ask for discernment for yourself as well. Let God call out the evil, most of us are NOT called to that and there are only a few examples of prophets who are called to being a heresy hunter and God blinded their audiences so no one listened to them. Just let God handle it.

I want to move on – but this also says “without offense” and unto “fruits of righteousness”.
Good warriors, war. They fight! They take an attack on a friend as an attack upon themselves. But God grace in suffering it only for the one who is offended. We literally just saw that verse the other day (God’s grace is sufficient).  I do not have the grace to fight your battles. I have just enough grace for my own job here. Do not offend and do not take on offences. Taking on another’s offense will cause offending! Woe what a snow-ball effect that will have. Instead have peace and know God is able to fight his own fights. Our friends have the grace to endure their struggles. We must stay out of God’s way, and have peace. It is right and is our righteousness. Then grab this verse and pray it over all parties involved. Because only God know what is truth – and only God can reveal it to you. Die to flesh – have no opinion and let God speak.  (During the conflict I am referring to – it has been hard to hold my tongue. I will let God work. But then it comes up here and I have to speak.)

12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,”

Paul is saying that being held a prisoner has actually worked out to further the gospel! So many times in our physical eyes we see a situation as something bad, a hindrance, or even a setback – BUT God is working all things for our good, while we are in His will. So it is HIS good too!
The second promise we can affirmatively stand on in this book is that God can turn any test into a testimony, can turn any situation into His glory, and can work all things for our good.
That means this heresy hunting pastor I know, upsetting a section of the believers and attacking a closer friend and pastor can actually work out for the glory of God. But we need to submit to God’s plan and shut our mouths. It is great to be lions and generals in this time, but we must also be gentle:
Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16
We know there are wolves – and the wolves ARE NOT in the midst of us, but WE are in the midst of them! They are all around. Be wise and gentle – trust God to be God over it.

13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

Back to what Paul is saying – many of the guards are becoming believers or are seeing the life witness of Paul, through Paul’s imprisonment. Moreover, Paul is becoming more bold. Which is so interesting – but he has an armed guard at his side to keep him from escaping – but also, as a Roman citizen, to keep him alive until his trial. So Paul NO LONGER has to flee for his life when he upsets the status quo (something God’s presence does often)!
Paul started his ministry recklessly proclaiming the gospel! He told everyone and ran for his life! Then Jesus took him aside and taught him. Paul became more and more careful and humble in his service.
As Paul matures in the Lord, and as you and I mature in the Lord, we slowly become more and more zealous, and fearless again. This time, fearless; not reckless!
As we watch the signs of the times unfold, as we fight the good fight of faith, we end up at a point where either it is forced upon us, like Paul’s imprisonment or it is a decision like Queen Esther – we just stop being afraid and we walk in faith! ‘If I die, I die’ (Esther 4:16)

15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”

Honestly, I never considered this before… even if Christ is preached from someone with wrong ambitions – at least Christ is being preached and therefore people can have the opportunity to choose a relationship with God through Christ! And let God be God over that relationship! I can sit under a false teacher and still grow! And once mature enough to hear God’s voice God can move me to someone preaching a clean unadulterated word. But even then, man is fallible and may make a mistake – BUT GRACE, GRACE is abundant and Christ is being preached. Do you get that?! It is the second promise we can stand on in this book, as long as Christ is being preached God can work with it! Thank you Jesus!

That is a mature concept. When we are young in Christ we are offended by false prophets. As we mature, although offended for the blight on righteousness – we can be in peace knowing God’s sovereignty.

Here is a little history that I think is interesting. Certain Jews who had it out for Paul and hunted him from city to city, were without a purpose once Paul became a prisoner to the Roman government. They were NOT going to give up on making life hard for Paul. So they pivoted and discovered that IF they preached Christ a certain way, it caused problems for Paul with Rome. This is actually documented. But what they preached exactly is unknown. Some think they were causing division in the church like we saw in Corinth (years earlier). Some believe they were preaching Christ ‘better’ than Paul, preaching down to Paul and making him look back to the Roman government. I guess it would be like going to a prayer meeting where people pray corrections on the others in the room. Paul is saying, at least they are praying. (I personally haven’t matured enough to say that, and still struggle to keep my peace and not get judgmental in prayer meetings like that. But God will help me. Meanwhile I avoid meetings like that and participate in prayer meetings with Christian more mature than me, and hopefully learn from them how to pray effective fervent prayers.)

19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.”

Phew! This is so raw from the heart. To live means we can continue the Lord’s work – but to die means a big hug from Jesus. I know that the choice is NOT in my hands. and Thank you God for that! I mean, depending on the day, who knows what I would choose. Some days I just get so homesick for a place I have never seen – the arms of Jesus!
But our deaths are written in God’s books. When he calls us home he calls us home. When I got sick with Covid and was at the worse part… all I could do was repeat “help” prayerfully – caught in a loop in my head, without voice from the sore throat, with so much pain and such a struggle for breath. It was HIS breath in my lungs that blew me past that point. But one thing I never doubted was my life. Never did it even dawn on me that I could die. Because I know the plans the Lord has for me and I know it is NOT yet time. There is a level of boldness that comes with that understanding. God finishes what He started.  

Oh this is meaty – I hope you are grasping the full bite of this! It is a lot – big bites! Maybe we should cut it up smaller and chew on it over the course of today and really enjoy it!

27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,”

Striving, Determined, Go-getting, Ruthless, Pushy, Motivated, Struggling, and Endeavoring together, in one mind and one spirit. Humanity is a condition of struggle, and out of that struggle comes growth and all that is good about people. But not if we gripe and complain through our struggle. We must strive together.

28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.”

Let’s flash back to a couple years ago when I worked for that lady who threatened me almost daily because I was a Christian. It was difficult, yes. I cried – I did. A lot! God knows. But I never feared her. If I did, she could say I did not trust my God to take care of me. AND as I wrote here a few time: God is my provider, not that job and not that lady – moreover I sought God, my provider and NOT my provisions. And I still do today. What is there to fear when you are in the hands of the most powerful being? It is not just my salvation from that situation – it is such a beautiful friendship and love! I have rejoiced and thank God every day for taking me out of that Egypt. And NEVER once have I looked back and said take me back because at least I had financial security. Oh no, in the hands of a living God is so much cooler!

29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.”

And we finish today with that word “suffer”. And I know a few of you cringed when you read it.
I know many who believe Jesus will return for His church before the tribulation because he doesn’t want us to suffer – and others think Paul’s obsession with speaking of human suffering means not only will we endure part, of not all of the tribulation, but that we will have suffering before the tribulation – and then there are many schools of thought in between. I personally prefer to live believing the rapture will happen later, so I am ready and not surprised by the suffering.
BUT – the suffering Paul speaks of is just the human struggle – or trial and tribulations – it is the life we must live and the growth we must endure to be Christlike.

The human struggle was Paul surviving on the missions journeys, or us living out our assignments. And Jesus described the human suffering, and struggle, as:

35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25: 35-40 NKJV

It’s like watching those videos on the internet of people rescuing each other caught on video, where you see the best in humanity come out of a moment of suffering and struggle. Or the animal rescue videos, which are more common – where people work together to save something. Working together to save each other from hell is our mission – we are all in it together. The struggle is human suffering.

***

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!

WEEKEND READING – 6-26-22

Whoever is wise will observe these things, And they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.” Psalm 107:43 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! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Psalms chapters 103-107 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).  Today we complete book 4 of Psalms and begin Book 5.

Praise for the Lord’s Mercies

A Psalm of David.

103 Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He [a]knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it, and it is [b]gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.

19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You [c]ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
22 Bless the Lord, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Praise to the Sovereign Lord for His Creation and Providence

104 Bless the Lord, O my soul!

O Lord my God, You are very great:
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment,
Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.

He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters,
Who makes the clouds His chariot,
Who walks on the wings of the wind,
Who makes His angels spirits,
His [d]ministers a flame of fire.

You who [e]laid the foundations of the earth,
So that it should not be moved forever,
You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
The waters stood above the mountains.
At Your rebuke they fled;
At the voice of Your thunder they hastened away.
[f]They went up over the mountains;
They went down into the valleys,
To the place which You founded for them.
You have set a boundary that they may not pass over,
That they may not return to cover the earth.

10 He sends the springs into the valleys;
They flow among the hills.
11 They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 By them the birds of the heavens have their home;
They sing among the branches.
13 He waters the hills from His upper chambers;
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.

14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the service of man,
That he may bring forth food from the earth,
15 And wine that makes glad the heart of man,
Oil to make his face shine,
And bread which strengthens man’s heart.
16 The trees of the Lord are full of sap,
The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
17 Where the birds make their nests;
The stork has her home in the fir trees.
18 The high hills are for the wild goats;
The cliffs are a refuge for the rock[g] badgers.

19 He appointed the moon for seasons;
The sun knows its going down.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,
In which all the beasts of the forest creep about.
21 The young lions roar after their prey,
And seek their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they gather together
And lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his work
And to his labor until the evening.

24 O Lord, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
The earth is full of Your possessions—
25 This great and wide sea,
In which are innumerable teeming things,
Living things both small and great.
26 There the ships sail about;
There is that Leviathan[h]
Which You have [i]made to play there.

27 These all wait for You,
That You may give them their food in due season.
28 What You give them they gather in;
You open Your hand, they are filled with good.
29 You hide Your face, they are troubled;
You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30 You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the earth.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
May the Lord rejoice in His works.
32 He looks on the earth, and it trembles;
He touches the hills, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
34 May my meditation be sweet to Him;
I will be glad in the Lord.
35 May sinners be consumed from the earth,
And the wicked be no more.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!
[j]Praise the Lord!

The Eternal Faithfulness of the Lord

105 Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,
O seed of Abraham His servant,
You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!

He is the Lord our God;
His judgments are in all the earth.
He remembers His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,
The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac,
10 And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute,
To Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 Saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
As the allotment of your inheritance,”
12 When they were few in number,
Indeed very few, and strangers in it.

13 When they went from one nation to another,
From one kingdom to another people,
14 He permitted no one to do them wrong;
Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes,
15 Saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones,
And do My prophets no harm.”

16 Moreover He called for a famine in the land;
He destroyed all the provision of bread.
17 He sent a man before them—
Joseph—who was sold as a slave.
18 They hurt his feet with fetters,
[k]He was laid in irons.
19 Until the time that his word came to pass,
The word of the Lord tested him.
20 The king sent and released him,
The ruler of the people let him go free.
21 He made him lord of his house,
And ruler of all his possessions,
22 To [l]bind his princes at his pleasure,
And teach his elders wisdom.

23 Israel also came into Egypt,
And Jacob dwelt in the land of Ham.
24 He increased His people greatly,
And made them stronger than their enemies.
25 He turned their heart to hate His people,
To deal craftily with His servants.

26 He sent Moses His servant,
And Aaron whom He had chosen.
27 They performed His signs among them,
And wonders in the land of Ham.
28 He sent darkness, and made it dark;
And they did not rebel against His word.
29 He turned their waters into blood,
And killed their fish.
30 Their land abounded with frogs,
Even in the chambers of their kings.
31 He spoke, and there came swarms of flies,
And lice in all their territory.
32 He gave them hail for rain,
And flaming fire in their land.
33 He struck their vines also, and their fig trees,
And splintered the trees of their territory.
34 He spoke, and locusts came,
Young locusts without number,
35 And ate up all the vegetation in their land,
And devoured the fruit of their ground.
36 He also [m]destroyed all the firstborn in their land,
The first of all their strength.

37 He also brought them out with silver and gold,
And there was none feeble among His tribes.
38 Egypt was glad when they departed,
For the fear of them had fallen upon them.
39 He spread a cloud for a covering,
And fire to give light in the night.
40 The people asked, and He brought quail,
And satisfied them with the bread of heaven.
41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
It ran in the dry places like a river.

42 For He remembered His holy promise,
And Abraham His servant.
43 He brought out His people with joy,
His chosen ones with [n]gladness.
44 He gave them the lands of the [o]Gentiles,
And they inherited the labor of the nations,
45 That they might observe His statutes
And keep His laws.

[p]Praise the Lord!

Joy in Forgiveness of Israel’s Sins

106 Praise[q] the Lord!

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Who can [r]utter the mighty acts of the Lord?
Who can declare all His praise?
Blessed are those who keep justice,
And [s]he who does righteousness at all times!

Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward Your people.
Oh, visit me with Your salvation,
That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones,
That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation,
That I may glory with [t]Your inheritance.

We have sinned with our fathers,
We have committed iniquity,
We have done wickedly.
Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders;
They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies,
But rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea.

Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake,
That He might make His mighty power known.
He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it dried up;
So He led them through the depths,
As through the wilderness.
10 He saved them from the hand of him who hated them,
And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
11 The waters covered their enemies;
There was not one of them left.
12 Then they believed His words;
They sang His praise.

13 They soon forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness,
And tested God in the desert.
15 And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.

16 When they envied Moses in the camp,
And Aaron the saint of the Lord,
17 The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan,
And covered the faction of Abiram.
18 A fire was kindled in their company;
The flame burned up the wicked.

19 They made a calf in Horeb,
And worshiped the molded image.
20 Thus they changed their glory
Into the image of an ox that eats grass.
21 They forgot God their Savior,
Who had done great things in Egypt,
22 Wondrous works in the land of Ham,
Awesome things by the Red Sea.
23 Therefore He said that He would destroy them,
Had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach,
To turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them.

24 Then they despised the pleasant land;
They did not believe His word,
25 But complained in their tents,
And did not heed the voice of the Lord.
26 Therefore He raised His hand in an oath against them,
To [u]overthrow them in the wilderness,
27 To [v]overthrow their descendants among the [w]nations,
And to scatter them in the lands.

28 They joined themselves also to Baal of Peor,
And ate sacrifices [x]made to the dead.
29 Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds,
And the plague broke out among them.
30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened,
And the plague was stopped.
31 And that was accounted to him for righteousness
To all generations forevermore.

32 They angered Him also at the waters of [y]strife,
So that it went ill with Moses on account of them;
33 Because they rebelled against His Spirit,
So that he spoke rashly with his lips.

34 They did not destroy the peoples,
Concerning whom the Lord had commanded them,
35 But they mingled with the Gentiles
And learned their works;
36 They served their idols,
Which became a snare to them.
37 They even sacrificed their sons
And their daughters to demons,
38 And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with blood.
39 Thus they [z]were defiled by their own works,
And played[aa] the harlot by their own deeds.

40 Therefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against His people,
So that He abhorred His own inheritance.
41 And He gave them into the hand of the Gentiles,
And those who hated them ruled over them.
42 Their enemies also oppressed them,
And they were brought into subjection under their hand.
43 Many times He delivered them;
But they rebelled in their counsel,
And were brought low for their iniquity.

44 Nevertheless He regarded their affliction,
When He heard their cry;
45 And for their sake He remembered His covenant,
And relented according to the multitude of His mercies.
46 He also made them to be pitied
By all those who carried them away captive.

47 Save us, O Lord our God,
And gather us from among the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise.

48 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel
From everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!”

[ab]Praise the Lord!

BOOK FIVE

Psalms 107–150

Thanksgiving to the Lord for His Great Works of Deliverance

107 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His [ac]mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.

They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way;
They found no city to dwell in.
Hungry and thirsty,
Their soul fainted in them.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He delivered them out of their distresses.
And He led them forth by the right way,
That they might go to a city for a dwelling place.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.

10 Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
Bound[ad] in affliction and irons—
11 Because they rebelled against the words of God,
And [ae]despised the counsel of the Most High,
12 Therefore He brought down their heart with labor;
They fell down, and there was none to help.
13 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
And broke their chains in pieces.
15 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
16 For He has broken the gates of bronze,
And cut the bars of iron in two.

17 Fools, because of their transgression,
And because of their iniquities, were afflicted.
18 Their soul abhorred all manner of food,
And they drew near to the gates of death.
19 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
20 He sent His word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destructions.
21 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
22 Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
And declare His works with [af]rejoicing.

23 Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters,
24 They see the works of the Lord,
And His wonders in the deep.
25 For He commands and raises the stormy wind,
Which lifts up the waves of the sea.
26 They mount up to the heavens,
They go down again to the depths;
Their soul melts because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
And [ag]are at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brings them out of their distresses.
29 He calms the storm,
So that its waves are still.
30 Then they are glad because they are quiet;
So He guides them to their desired haven.
31 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
32 Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people,
And praise Him in the company of the elders.

33 He turns rivers into a wilderness,
And the watersprings into dry ground;
34 A fruitful land into [ah]barrenness,
For the wickedness of those who dwell in it.
35 He turns a wilderness into pools of water,
And dry land into watersprings.
36 There He makes the hungry dwell,
That they may establish a city for a dwelling place,
37 And sow fields and plant vineyards,
That they may yield a fruitful harvest.
38 He also blesses them, and they multiply greatly;
And He does not let their cattle decrease.

39 When they are diminished and brought low
Through oppression, affliction, and sorrow,
40 He pours contempt on princes,
And causes them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way;
41 Yet He sets the poor on high, far from affliction,
And makes their families like a flock.
42 The righteous see it and rejoice,
And all iniquity stops its mouth.

43 Whoever is wise will observe these things,
And they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 103:14 Understands our constitution
  2. Psalm 103:16 not
  3. Psalm 103:21 servants
  4. Psalm 104:4 servants
  5. Psalm 104:5 Lit. founded the earth upon her bases
  6. Psalm 104:8 Or The mountains rose up; The valleys sank down
  7. Psalm 104:18 rock hyraxes
  8. Psalm 104:26 A large sea creature of unknown identity
  9. Psalm 104:26 Lit. formed
  10. Psalm 104:35 Heb. Hallelujah
  11. Psalm 105:18 His soul came into iron
  12. Psalm 105:22 Bind as prisoners
  13. Psalm 105:36 Lit. struck down
  14. Psalm 105:43 a joyful shout
  15. Psalm 105:44 nations
  16. Psalm 105:45 Heb. Hallelujah
  17. Psalm 106:1 Heb. Hallelujah
  18. Psalm 106:2 express
  19. Psalm 106:3 LXX, Syr., Tg., Vg. those who do
  20. Psalm 106:5 The people of Your inheritance
  21. Psalm 106:26 make them fall
  22. Psalm 106:27 make their descendants fall also
  23. Psalm 106:27 Gentiles
  24. Psalm 106:28 offered
  25. Psalm 106:32 Or Meribah
  26. Psalm 106:39 became unclean
  27. Psalm 106:39 Were unfaithful
  28. Psalm 106:48 Heb. Hallelujah
  29. Psalm 107:1 Heb. same as goodness, vv. 8152131, and lovingkindness, v. 43
  30. Psalm 107:10 Prisoners
  31. Psalm 107:11 scorned
  32. Psalm 107:22 joyful singing
  33. Psalm 107:27 Lit. all their wisdom is swallowed up
  34. Psalm 107:34 Lit. a salty waste

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.”

***

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!

WEEKEND READING – 6-25-22

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.  Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100:1-5 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! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Psalms chapters 98-102 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).  

A Song of Praise to the Lord for His Salvation and Judgment

A Psalm.

98 Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
For He has done marvelous things;
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.
The Lord has made known His salvation;
His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the [a]nations.
He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.
Sing to the Lord with the harp,
With the harp and the sound of a psalm,
With trumpets and the sound of a horn;
Shout joyfully before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea roar, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell in it;
Let the rivers clap their hands;
Let the hills be joyful together
    before the Lord,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
With righteousness He shall judge the world,
And the peoples with [b]equity.

Praise to the Lord for His Holiness

99 The Lord reigns;
Let the peoples tremble!
He dwells between the cherubim;
Let the earth be [c]moved!
The Lord is great in Zion,
And He is high above all the peoples.
Let them praise Your great and awesome name—
[d]He is holy.

The King’s strength also loves justice;
You have established equity;
You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
Exalt the Lord our God,
And worship at His footstool—
He is holy.

Moses and Aaron were among His priests,
And Samuel was among those who called upon His name;
They called upon the Lord, and He answered them.
He spoke to them in the cloudy pillar;
They kept His testimonies and the [e]ordinance He gave them.

You answered them, O Lord our God;
You were to them God-Who-Forgives,
Though You took vengeance on their deeds.
Exalt the Lord our God,
And worship at His holy hill;
For the Lord our God is holy.

A Song of Praise for the Lord’s Faithfulness to His People

A Psalm of Thanksgiving.

100 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, [f]all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and [g]not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

Promised Faithfulness to the Lord

A Psalm of David.

101 I will sing of mercy and justice;
To You, O Lord, I will sing praises.

I will behave wisely in a [h]perfect way.
Oh, when will You come to me?
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.

I will set nothing [i]wicked before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will not know wickedness.

Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor,
Him I will destroy;
The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart,
Him I will not endure.

My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land,
That they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a [j]perfect way,
He shall serve me.
He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house;
He who tells lies shall not [k]continue in my presence.
Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land,
That I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.

The Lord’s Eternal Love

A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the Lord.

102 Hear my prayer, O Lord,
And let my cry come to You.
Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble;
Incline Your ear to me;
In the day that I call, answer me speedily.

For my days [l]are consumed like smoke,
And my bones are burned like a hearth.
My heart is stricken and withered like grass,
So that I forget to eat my bread.
Because of the sound of my groaning
My bones cling to my [m]skin.
I am like a pelican of the wilderness;
I am like an owl of the desert.
I lie awake,
And am like a sparrow alone on the housetop.

My enemies reproach me all day long;
Those who deride me swear an oath against me.
For I have eaten ashes like bread,
And mingled my drink with weeping,
10 Because of Your indignation and Your wrath;
For You have lifted me up and cast me away.
11 My days are like a shadow that lengthens,
And I wither away like grass.

12 But You, O Lord, shall endure forever,
And the remembrance of Your name to all generations.
13 You will arise and have mercy on Zion;
For the time to favor her,
Yes, the set time, has come.
14 For Your servants take pleasure in her stones,
And show favor to her dust.
15 So the [n]nations shall fear the name of the Lord,
And all the kings of the earth Your glory.
16 For the Lord shall build up Zion;
He shall appear in His glory.
17 He shall regard the prayer of the destitute,
And shall not despise their prayer.

18 This will be written for the generation to come,
That a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.
19 For He looked down from the height of His sanctuary;
From heaven the Lord viewed the earth,
20 To hear the groaning of the prisoner,
To release those appointed to death,
21 To declare the name of the Lord in Zion,
And His praise in Jerusalem,
22 When the peoples are gathered together,
And the kingdoms, to serve the Lord.

23 He weakened my strength in the way;
He shortened my days.
24 I said, “O my God,
Do not take me away in the midst of my days;
Your years are throughout all generations.
25 Of old You laid the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
26 They will perish, but You will [o]endure;
Yes, they will all grow old like a garment;
Like a cloak You will change them,
And they will be changed.
27 But You are the same,
And Your years will have no end.
28 The children of Your servants will continue,
And their descendants will be established before You.”

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 98:2 Gentiles
  2. Psalm 98:9 uprightness
  3. Psalm 99:1 shaken
  4. Psalm 99:3 Or It
  5. Psalm 99:7 statute
  6. Psalm 100:1 Lit. all the earth
  7. Psalm 100:3 So with Kt., LXX, Vg.; Qr., many Heb. mss., Tg. we are His
  8. Psalm 101:2 blameless
  9. Psalm 101:3 worthless
  10. Psalm 101:6 blameless
  11. Psalm 101:7 Lit. be established
  12. Psalm 102:3 Lit. end in
  13. Psalm 102:5 flesh
  14. Psalm 102:15 Gentiles
  15. Psalm 102:26 continue

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.”

***

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!

PRAISE THE LORD!

“They even sacrificed their sons And their daughters to demons, And shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with blood. Thus they were defiled by their own works, And played the harlot by their own deeds.
Therefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against His people, So that He abhorred His own inheritance. And He gave them into the hand of the Gentiles, And those who hated them ruled over them. Their enemies also oppressed them, And they were brought into subjection under their hand. Many times He delivered them; But they rebelled in their counsel, And were brought low for their iniquity.
Nevertheless He regarded their affliction, When He heard their cry; And for their sake He remembered His covenant, And relented according to the multitude of His mercies. He also made them to be pitied By all those who carried them away captive.
Save us, O Lord our God, And gather us from among the Gentiles, To give thanks to Your holy name, To triumph in Your praise.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel From everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the Lord!”
Psalm 106:37-48 NKJV

The USA has turned from their policies of wickedness. Please Lord, come and save us!

As much as we want to celebrate (and we should definitely praise God and thank him for this!) we must also remain diligent in prayer. This is not yet the complete move of God. This is God helping us get this huge thing right!!
And pray for New York and California, and any other state which is planning to maintain disgrace and evil in the eyes of the Lord. Lord help them and the brothers and sister there.

This isn’t the end – this is still time to fight, on our knees in the secret place, with an abundance of thanksgiving and worship for Roe v. Wade being overturned.

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV

We have won a battle – let us press on to win the war!

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!

Grace is Enough – 6-23-22

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 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 12 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

The Vision of Paradise

12 It is [a]doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me.

The Thorn in the Flesh

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to [b]buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Signs of an Apostle

11 I have become a fool [c]in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. 13 For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!

Love for the Church

14 Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.

16 But be that as it may, I did not burden you. Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you by cunning! 17 Did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus, and sent our brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?

19 Again, [d]do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ. But we do all things, beloved, for your edification. 20 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; 21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 12:1 NU necessary, though not profitable, to boast
  2. 2 Corinthians 12:7 beat
  3. 2 Corinthians 12:11 NU omits in boasting
  4. 2 Corinthians 12:19 NU You have been thinking for a long time that we

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:

Yesterday Paul was pretty fired up and sarcastic! The last verse it Paul recounting his very first escape. It almost seems like we are about to do through Paul’s life and the book of Acts in detail after that verse, just so Paul can make a point.

But Paul stops himself. There is no profit, nothing to gain by going down this path – these people will not understand this line of reasoning.

1 It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord:”

Paul’s list of sufferings was NOT a lists of suffering – if that is what we heard, we read it wrong. IT WAS A LIST OF GOD’S GLORY! God saved Paul in a basket in Damascus, God saved Paul in shipwreck, God saved Paul time and time again. But, out friends in Corinth are looking for a bigger wow than Paul’s life. And I am sure Paul could brag on much bigger miracles, giving God the glory. However, the power of God through Paul is more easily confused then the Power of God imposed upon Paul. Did you follow that?
If Paul lays hands on the blind and they see – that is God through Paul and easier for people to give Paul the credit and not God. Or worse, Paul may slip and say I healed the blind. It doesn’t matter if it is people or Paul (person being used by God) who robs God of His glory, God is still mad. This is not just me hung up on this idea. GOD is hung up on this idea. The second he is robbed of even a sliver of His Glory, God will remove His hand. The hard part, for us, is the gifts remain, so people and we, may see the gifts and miss that the person is no longer anointed.
So when we, like Paul, are giving an account of the power of God in our lives – ‘God through us’ is just not as powerful a testimony.

Now, the trials and hard parts and those moment God saved us – that is ‘God imposing himself upon us’. Can’t say Paul rescued himself in a basket. It had to be a big enough basket to fit a grown man. There was a hunt for him. No humanly way could Paul NOT get caught – it is GOD. All God. Same with the shipwrecks. Same with all His infirmities.

So Paul is trying to boast solely on God. So He gives this example:

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”

Go ahead and closes your eyes and listen. I hear the quiet buzz of my computer fan and the water in the fish tank trickling – but not that. Imagine the noise of heaven. It is a noisy place. Everything there is glorifying God. God is not an egomaniac requiring everything to worship him, He is just so good, so perfect, so much love that all of creation cannot help it. Except for humans because we were separated by sin and cannot see it or hear it. The Bible often says to shout to the Lord, we can understand why, because it’s noisy there.
In Acts 2, use the spirit coming sounded like a rushing mighty wind – rushing winds are noisy. Tornados and hurricanes sound like trains with their horns blasting. And to my amazement God also heard our quiet prayers, our silent tears, and our aching hearts – and speaks to us in a still small voice.
This is the kind of GOD GETS THE GLORY scene Paul knows will make these Corinthians thrilled. No man can get the glory from this. (Although in our modern world some men have tried.)

Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me.”

Paul will not risk them getting it wrong, and taking glory from God.
And this really hits home – hits with the truth of humility. Paul brags on God not on anything he has touched. And these Corinthians are accusing Paul of being less than a bunch of wanna be miracle men.
Everyone wants the power of God to surge through them – how cool is that?! Of course we want that. But we do not want the foodless season, the money less season, the learning to be completely reliant on God season – or the shipwrecks. No, no one wants the tribulations that build the character that keeps you from robbing God of His glory and moving responsibly in the gifts.
Paul’s resume never exulted himself and so they missed out on who Paul was. You and I have 2000 years to know, this man was a powerhouse in the kingdom – his ministry spread through Europe and impacted the values nations were built on. And even today we open our Bibles and submit to Paul’s teachings. You and I would love a time machine to go back in time to shake his hand. And Paul would be violently ill over the idea that he was ever sainted by a denomination or that we hold him up with esteem enough to still read his letters, memorize them and learn about our God through them.

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.”

And Paul knew there was a level of anointing, unlike most, upon him – and therefore a temptation to boast in Himself being chosen for this or that it happens through him or some other door for pride to slip in.
So God gave Paul a thorn in his flesh – to keep him humble. Some say it was the constant chase – where he was hunted down to be killed for his entire ministry. Others say it was a physical infirmary. Whatever it was – Paul was NOT boasting it in either. So much so, that we do not really know what he is speaking of.

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.”

A few verses ago I was tempted to pray that we can learn this kind of humility – the more humble the closer to God you are and no one can convince me otherwise. We all want to obtain a strong meekness and humility – that would be so cool. But if we were that humble no one would recognize who we are in the kingdom of God – like they failed to understand who Paul was. They thought some of those “Great Preachers” of their time who came and took their money were going to be remembered for all of time and we do not know any of their names. But we know Paul.
We thought we wanted to be the cool, misunderstood one, like Paul – But this thorn to keep him humble was so bothersome, he prayed for it to be removed and God said no. Can we have this humility without a thorn? No one wants a thorn

Wait – no…. some people do. But they took this out of context. Because some have suspected the thorn to be some illness or ailment that was never healed. Being f course the ONE AND ONLY (that I can think of) time someone asked for healing and was NOT healed.
I know people who have been praying for healing for 40 years or more and have no received it. They battled attacks on their faith, blamed the people praying for them, blamed themselves, struggled in their belief system, and maybe even blamed God – until some have surrendered and decided it must be a thorn like Paul’s. Ironically, they are also no humble like Paul – so their thorn, doesn’t even work. Also, the anointing and power of God is not surging through them, either. I might have to conclude from this evidence that IT ISN’T a thorn. Maybe they need to go back to those healing verses again and fight that demon till it is finally gone.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

GRACE – stop believing it is just God’s favor that we did not deserve – because that is such a weak definition of a dynamic transformative POWERFUL thing, like grace. Grace is actionable and its action is to transform.
So stop reading it like (use a wimpy sounding complacent voice): God’s favor is enough for me. I am stuck with a torn but I am in God’s favor. So yay God, you gave me one more thing on top of everything else.
And start reading it like (use a voice that is sure of what it knows): God’ transformative actions are enough! Weakness in me doesn’t matter because this live changing power to turn that weakness into MIGHT is perfected in the struggle of being changed. My trials, infirmities and struggles prove I am no one – and the OUT COMES of the transformation PROOVES HE IS A POWERFUL, RISEN, MIGHTY, LIVING GOD – worthy of all glory, worship, praise and thanksgiving!

Grace is not a sweet word – it is a powerful kind of…, messy kind of…, growing kind of…, changing kind of…, altering kind of…, breaking of a pot on the potter’s wheel and rebuilding kind of… transformative action.  

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

And here Paul defines what his ‘infirmities’ are – the catalysts to grace or transformation. Yes, grace mixed with these causes character building, personality changing, and hopefully as we lean heavily on God in ALL humility – it makes us more Christ-like.

11 I have become a fool in boasting; you have compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds. 13 For what is it in which you were inferior to other churches, except that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong!”

I LOVE THAT PAUL IS HUMAN! And it shows. We know he stopped mid boast and started to tell you of outside miracles and then explained why he cannot boast on himself – carefully dancing around looking for the right words to use so that God gets the glory.
Paul points out his own foolishness for even being baited into an argument of his credentials in God. In all truth – their existence is his credentials and they witnessed (saw with their own eyes) the signs and wonders. And the ONLY accusation they are correct in is that Paul never took money for his services. So he apologizes for it (more of his sarcasm).

Here is something that never occurred to me before. These people forgot about the signs and wonders they witnessed themselves and the grace that saved them. They were blinded by the fancy resumes of these false teachers. The Israelites were being led in the wilderness by a floating flame at night and a magical cloud by day – and seem to have forgotten that literally blazing miracle right in front of them while collecting magical food that landed on their front lawns every morning – and they began to complain. Humans are stupid – we forget things so quick. I wonder why God loves us so much – but I am so grateful He does.

Those of you who know me or have followed along long enough, know I am not a prophet chaser. There are ample revelation in the word of God. Yes, I sometimes have dreams. Yes, God tells me things about things. ALL of which can be confirmed in the word and seconded by history. Some prophecy is simply understanding what God is saying now and the patterns of this world history and scriptures, to know what will happen next.  So, I am seldom impressed by prophetic ministries. I seek God to tell me, not man. Now, God does appoint prophets and it is good. AND I am not saying you should not follow them and heed to godly wisdom from them and be blessed by the signs and wonders.
However, satan appoints sorcerers too, and puts them in the camps of the righteous who are blinded by bold and fancy words and someone speaking what they want to hear.  They are Balaam, sent to curse the righteous and their donkey talks. Be warry. Paul warns of these and we forget when dazzled. Jesus said there will be many in these last days. Be ever so careful.

God led me to a man’s ministry in early 2020 – and I have watched it grow and change. You know what I hate? He always is “releasing a prophetic word”! It is dramatic and get followers – but it is nonsense. He is preaching the word, true to the word and the word has anointing. He has fantastic experiences and dreams that God uses to help him understand the word in context and he uses those examples to teach. Yes, there is an element of prophetic – but I just about turn him off every time he says “Release a prophetic word”. It has grown into a sound ministry. I pray for them and bless them (as he now has a full team). I have tested, and he is anointed and not a false prophet.

On the other hand – a pastor friend told me to check out a prophetic ministry and sent me a link. So I open the link to the… thing… show? Whatever it was. And there is this man speaking boldly and saying things I really liked. Within seconds my spirit was so stirred and I was praying in tongues out loud and pointing my hand at the computer screen! I prayed so loud and fervently that I was telling myself to quiet down so I could hear. But of course – God can tell me, so I flowed with the spirit and prayed till the end. I had seen this self-proclaimed prophet before in an interview on another show and one other time he was in a clip of something else – and all three times my spirit was stirred into fervent prayer!
The man told of certain events happening in the world AND they were happening in a temple near the Biblical city of Corinth! So the geek in me began researching. He found out somehow – So I can too. It must be out there somewhere. I looked for a few days. I was unable to get this man and the good things he said (that I heard) out of my head. I was oddly drawn to him – while at the same time, I was unable to go back to the link or search for him to hear more. I began praying and researching him the person and not his ministry or what he was saying. I researched what people are witnessing and saying about him as well. I looked at pictures of him and looked at body language and people placement and such. But I did not listen to him again. I came to a shocking conclusion: He spoke of things that were lies or cannot be verified – and if they are true, he can only know because the devil told him. My spirit was not stirred to pray because this man was anointed and powerful – but because my spirit joined the fight against him. I too almost fell for a false prophet. It is so easy to do. Be diligent! God will take care of him – but do not fall for it. I can see why you would, but do not forget what Paul says and Jesus says about these demons disguised in light. I know this was a lengthy side note – but vital to say, especially in a day like this with many deceiving the saints!
Men of God can say things that annoy you, but that doesn’t change the very real call of God on their lives and their anointed message. Other may impress you and cause your spirit to stir – but it may be stirring for a fight and not because there is an anointing. May your eye be open to see the darkness looming around the evil ones! In the name of JESUS! ~amen

14 Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.”

Back to our reading and study for today. If you thought I was stretching it saying Paul loves this church like a parent loves a child – well, Paul says it. Right here. And even though he said sorry (sarcastically) for not taking money from them – he says he still will not take money from them. AND as every parent of a teen has experienced – the more he shows then love the less they reciprocate.

16 But be that as it may, I did not burden you. Nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you by cunning!”

This verse makes me laugh! Paul is being such a good dad to a wild teen. He is so tender, hurt, and loving – and yet he is crafty! Laughing! He caught them! Ok, SO Paul is now explaining that he doesn’t have eyes in the back of his head – God always provides a cunning and crafty means to let Paul know that the Corinthians are misbehaving! This word cunning is not a negative manipulative connotation like we associate it with. He is just revealing how he caught them. God does not condone us scheming and manipulating to get things or information.

17 Did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus, and sent our brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?”

In other words – Titus came to you the same way Paul came to you preaching Jesus and not taking money. Earlier in this book he pointed out that they treated him well and Titus gave a good report of them – so was it Titus who told Paul of them misbehaving? And is that what Paul is addressing here since the verse above speaks of Paul finding out things.
It is only with careful study that we can understand, as Paul has become unhealthily sensitive to the overly critical and ungenerous Corinthians. At first glance it seems he is repeating 2 Corinthians 8:20-24. And how he came to them for their good and how they never embarrassed or spoke bad of them… But this time seems in defense of Titus and ‘Our Brother’ (Who probably went unnamed because he probable had the job of bringing this letter to them). Paul is saying they were not sent as spies. In other words: “God will reveal to me what you all are up to whether Titus and Bro tell me or not.” Paul does not want them slandering and attacking Titus and Bro the way they attacked Paul.

19 Again, do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ. But we do all things, beloved, for your edification.”

Let’s stop being distracted and pointing the fingers – the point is Paul, Titus and the Bro must answer to God for what they say and NOT to these people in Corinth. Some think their pastor’s and preacher much entertain them and answer to them about why and how they preach. They owe us no explanation or tenderness, as Paul has tried to offer – the truth is, they answer to God.  

20 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; 21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.”

Paul is trying to save them from themselves – Paul is being hard on them, so you and I think they have done something really bad and some of it is cruel in some ways – but Paul sees his kids get on the other side of the fence at the Grand Canyon and is afraid they will slide over the edge. And the canyon is contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults, uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness.
In other words – Hey you are on the wrong path and that path will lead to worse things! The criticism, accusations, and divisions are bad enough – BUT STOP BEFORE YOU BECOME THE WORLD!

God’s grace will transform us for the good. Or we can get hung up on being critical and miss out – slowly sliding backwards. Be humble enough to be a good daily repenter. Repent means to turn away from and if you are growing in the Lord, then he is always showing you more you can turn away from.

***

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!

Pride and Sarcasm – 6-22-22

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 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 11 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Concern for Their Faithfulness

11 Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the [a]simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!

Paul and False Apostles

For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have [b]been thoroughly manifested among you in all things.

Did I commit sin in [c]humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows!

12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

Reluctant Boasting

16 I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me as a fool, that I also may boast a little. 17 What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. 18 Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast. 19 For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! 20 For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face. 21 To our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold—I speak foolishly—I am bold also.

Suffering for Christ

22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?

30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my [d]infirmity. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 11:3 NU adds and purity
  2. 2 Corinthians 11:6 NU omits been
  3. 2 Corinthians 11:7 putting myself down
  4. 2 Corinthians 11:30 weakness

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:

Today’s reading will be a struggle of you do not know that Paul has a VERY sarcastic and dry sense of humor. Paul calls himself a fool, and foolish false prophets and teachers as not while making a logical argument that HE is not the fool AND that they are. All while tenderly, speaking as a father to his daughter about staying pure for her groom, to whom he has betrothed her.  In context his sarcasm juxtapose to his tender heart is beautifully powerful.

Yesterday’s reading flowed from the offering message to the attack from the enemy that is sure to follow if you obey – which lead him back to the attacks on him and his ministry that he must defend. So now he show’s why he is passionately fighting for their affections. Through it we see how God is also parental and fighting for our affections while preparing us for the coming of our groom.

Today also includes one of the few places that Paul lists his sufferings for Christ – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves and jump right in:

1 Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me.”

On social media and blogs it is often difficult for sarcasm to come across – it is true in any written word. So, Paul comes right out and says – humor me while I get sarcastic about this situation.
I am sure Paul can see the irony that he founded that church and now they question him. It really is like a teen who is moving out into young adulthood and pressing to be independent while still just a hair to immature to.

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

Simple and beautiful – I love you like a father loves his daughter, so I am just looking out for your well-being. On top of it, here is a spiritual principle – YOU ARE CHRIST’S BRIDE! 

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

WE ALL must be EVER so careful not to be deceived. I have said it a million times and so has Paul and so did Jesus. I know I used to and I think it is common to read the story of Eve and think, I wouldn’t fall for a talking snake, especially when her husband was right there next to her. Instead of recognizing a simple truth, we complicate it with our pride and ‘I’m better than Eve’ mindset. Neither of us is smarter or better than Eve or Adam. The satan has been lying, manipulating and leading beings away from God since LONG before humans ever existed. We buy his lie that he isn’t that good at manipulating – and pridefully resist God’s truth, which is found in God passing along the story of how man fell. Man fell, because the enemy is very good at deception.

For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!”

Jesus said the end times shall be marked by MANY preaching a Jesus without suffering, without power, with self-help instead of Jesus’s intercession, with humanism and without chastity and purity.
Part of me wishes you experience falling for a false teacher, processing the revelation that it was a false teacher and realizing exactly HOW easily we can be deceived. AND that even the false teacher can be deceived that he is indeed a false teacher. See how complicated flesh makes all of this?!
But I’d rather you never fell for it as the season is late and time is short – I pray the Lord keep you.
But you will NOT be kept without the humility of knowing you can be deceived. You can be. So guard against it.

So Paul compares himself to them so we can see the difference. The original reader would have seen this as just that, a lesson using compare and contrast. In those days it was very improper to use yourself as an example, a protocol which Paul forsakes many times because it is better to use himself (considered embarrassing at the time) than to embarrass someone else. You and I, however, due to our culture, may see this as a humble brag. In our culture that is a false humility in order to brag on your pride without looking like the prideful jerk that you are.
It is a difficult line to walk, I know. I often use myself as the example and pray you, the readers, do not find me prideful, and pray I do not be deceived into pride. But to explain things we need to find relatable examples, and pulling from our own lessons is the easiest – without calling someone else out.
I had a friend get offended, thinking I used them as an example (changing small details to spare them the embarrassment) in this blog – but actually, when I wrote it, I was thinking of someone else. So, I see why Paul uses himself.

For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things.”

Not inferior to most eminent apostles?! Yea, this certainly sound prideful. But in truth, we must call this statement sarcasm. Paul was well schooled and educated. He spoke Hebrew and Greek and took all the classes for both a Greek student and Hebrew school to become a Pharisee – he was also educated on writing and speaking to audiences. AND he was trained in a trade as well. So He is neither untrained nor superior to anyone God called. God uniquely qualifies those He calls.

Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?”

And verse 7 here would be the punch line. You know when someone is being sarcastic and then there is the line that punches home the point. Basically – what we get from this is Paul saying: if I came to you like those false teachers requiring money, would that be better?

I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you.”

Let us recall the birth of this church – Paul’s second missionary journey where he was chased from city to city by Pharisees who were trying to get Paul killed. Paul had to flee Berea without his team to the coast – where he was chased onto a boat and traveled to Athens. Paul was tired, without his team, without his money and resources (and waiting for them to come) Paul tried something new and failed to minister in Athens (later saying don’t do that, it was awful) and went to Corinth to work his trade and get some money. There he met and stayed with another in his trade who was a believer and they gathered other believers and made converts and started a church.
Paul came to Corinth is the MOST humble and broken way that God could make happen, and wow, didn’t God know that was what these people needed! It was with offerings and money from other churches and his other sources of funds that Paul’s team was able to come and join him and really build this church. So Paul robbed from others to minister to them at Corinth.
It’s a saying – Paul did not rob anyone. They gave Paul money. But Paul did not use it to get back to them, Paul used it to build a church in Corinth.
So Paul was poor and needy when he arrived:

And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.”

Paul earned his own money elsewhere – not from his own child/church. And he intends to never take anything from them.
Why are they so hung up on the money? Even, right from the beginning as we see Paul being sensitive to it all along, but taking money from other churches. You see, the reason they are offended with Paul, and money (offerings), and the enemy’s attacks, and this pride that is still evident and dividing this church are all intertwined with these false teacher who came in and began corrupting them along with the extremely liberal, fleshy city’s influence on its occupants. So Paul has tried to talk on each point separate – but as they are tied up together Paul must also address that knot.

10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows!”

Paul again presents all the GOOD things he has said about these people as proof of his love, with God as his witness (but he says it in typical Pauline sarcasm).

12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast.”

As long as Paul is telling everyone the truth – no one else can come in and lie. As long as Paul is bragging: hey I started this amazing church in Corinth if you are in the area, check it out! Then no one else can say they started it or that it is not amazing. Apparently some of these false teachers are really trying to muscle in on this church. 

13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.”

Ok, we understand there is a bad guy and a good guy and we are n team good guy in the spirit. Right? But what in all flesh would convince a human to work as a false teacher?
I am so glad you asked!
Some are deceived, they learned the doctrine wrong and teach others incorrectly – so take all teachings back to the Bible and prayer and ask God to reveal false teachers. The ones who are deceived will also warn you to do this, because they believe they are right and you will find no discrepancy. Check for yourself – Go ahead and check me as well. Pray and ask God; He will direct you to where to be taught.

I pray diligently that I am not deceived, I seek God for each of these posts. I know I do not answer to you – but to God, and that is a fearful thing. I do my best.
Also – I am human, I have had it wrong before and said so. I will be wrong again and issue another correction, I am sure of it! Being wrong occasionally is not a false prophet/teacher. Know the difference and pray for and extend grace to those who are willing to serve the Lord. 

So what does a person get from faking it. People seem to ‘follow’ certain pastors and evangelists instead of God – So there is a cult like fame to the leadership position in some churches (back in the first century as well as today)! That status and fame is enough for some people.
But earlier in this book Paul called these fakers, “peddlers of the gospel”. They were in it for the offerings. What is a shame is that money was offered to GOD and not to them and both God and man expect them to steward God’s money – woe to them who steal from God. Stealing the sheep and the funds. Woe. 

14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

Those who are deceive and those who know they are fakers, but are in it for fame and easy money – they will have their reward – God is just and justice will be served in the end.

16 I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me as a fool, that I also may boast a little.”

As Paul pours out from his heart, his personality and sarcasm really show. I have a similar sense of humor and really enjoy it. But as we get to the heart of the seriousness of this – the sarcasm is dropped – Paul is not a fool. The complaints from the Corinthians are: this tree and that tree and the other tree and they do not seem to see the forest through the trees – but Paul’s got their number and He is teling them there is a forest, a bigger picture.

17 What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. 18 Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast. 19 For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise!”

Here is the big picture – you call me a fool, but you are acting foolish. You think you’re so smart, why are you falling for this? you want me to behave like them and give you my qualifications (because the fact that I founded your church, and you exist, isn’t enough) – ok…

Buckle up, cause Paul is breaking loose and taking us on a ride!

20 For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.”

And right out of the gate – OUCH!  Bondage, devoured, robbed, more proud than these Corinthians and strikes your face (dishonor).  Yep – Paul already proved his humility and now Paul pulls the mask off these fakers and shows us who they are! Paul reveals how they have taken advantage of them.
This is not a physical bondage – no one is in chains. It is spiritual. Same with the rest – it is a spiritual destruction – and Paul is pulling back the curtain to expose the spirit world.

As the Word of the Lord is anointed to BREAK bondages and strongholds and reveal truth – I pray, right now in the name of Jesus that God will give you revelation of any false preachers you may be following. I pray, Lord that you give discernment to us, so we may know and not be deceived. NOT for us to call them out, we are not heresy hunters, but so we can guard and protect ourselves and love one.

21 To our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold—I speak foolishly—I am bold also.”

Paul is too weak to take advantage of people, which is sarcasm, because it is not a matter of weakness to do what is right. But people did think Paul was too weak, while at the same time complained his letters were too bold – Paul is pointing out the foolishness here.

But since they want to compare – Paul hits them with it. Here is how God uniquely qualified Paul for the ministry:

22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.”

Bam! Compared to the false prophets of the time, Paul certainly stands out.  He they want boasting Paul will boast on infirmity! Again this is NO humble-brag. Paul’s sarcasm leaps from the page as Paul tries to gentle remind us that serving God is NOT for the weak, it is dangerous, it means dyeing to self, it mean serving, it means we give ourselves completely to God and God has the right to tell HIS story through us any way He wants – including through: shipwrecks, perils, robbings, beatings, almost death, hunger and abundance.

God used these things to uniquely qualify Paul. As I have struggled lately, the cried in my late night prayers when I am tired and weak are “Why God?!” And “Help”. Yet my struggles are NOTHING compared to Paul, or God for that matter. And I know it is for a season, and I know it will build character if I respond correctly dyeing to flesh and surrendering to His will.
I am weak and human – just like you. I have no pride to hold my head high and imply it is a cake walk. When asked how I am doing, I must speak faith and truth – I am in the Lord’s hands. But it isn’t easy. This is not humble brag.

I have met those types – they are always saying they fast, but I never see them refrain from food. They always say they’ve had struggles and their hands are always out – yet I have not seen them work. So I refuse to ask anyone for help BUT my Father. Because I must stand as Paul stood WITHOUT a humble-brag, but in honesty before God.

31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.”

Isn’t that the craziest? Some thought Paul was lying. Sadly, I have been accused of it myself. So listen, I am not perfect, I have my struggles, as I have been forthright about. I also have sin struggles, like Paul says, we sometimes slip up. I know I do not speak of them often, because what God is working on me with and is a sin to me, may not be a sin to you. But YES I am tempted. God gives us an out and the ability to walk away and usually I am successful (but I also ate half a pumpkin cake in one sitting and beat myself up over it for a few days – I am still an imperfect human).

32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.”

And Paul concludes with the first time he had to flee for his life.

2000 years after, Christians have a different perspective. Not only do we see it as a humble-brag (which is a negative prideful thing) – many also see this as permission to humble-bag. So, let’s try to understand the differences:

Your pastor is using an example of struggle from his life, and giving all glory to God – like Paul saying the shipwreck built character and God got the Glory or me saying here is my struggle and work through this with me to see God glorified. Is that a humble-brag sign of pride? No.

Your pastor speaks of a tumultuous event and he is the hero and not God. That is a prideful humble-brag.

Random person not teaching a lesson or testifying what God is doing in their life, tells you how much they have suffered for Christ. No Glory to Christ, just suffering. That is a prideful humble-brag.

Random person not teaching – just testifying tells of their struggles, focuses on God’s answers and outcome and how you too can be transformed. That is a witness, who will lead many to Christ.

If you are a teacher / preacher – use your examples to teach others how to glorify God in their struggles.

If you are not – then use your experience to point to Christ as a witness – and ALWAYS end with a prayer for them or lead them in the salvation prayer or both.

Paul did not have a victim mentality or mindset – and I am tired of people who are holier than everyone else because they struggled. And if your struggle was just a mild discomfort, do not show up to share in someone’s suffering who was beaten bloody and say you know how they feel.
Paul did not have a poor man’s mentality or a poverty mindset. Paul usually had sufficient funds, until separated from his team, or shipwrecked and lost his purse at sea, or robbed. And then God blessed Paul quickly with the abundance needed for Him to do the work and give to those in need and to support the whole team. Paul was not a pauper.
SO – if you want to be like Paul as Paul was striving to be like Christ: Both worked hard for money, neither had a free ride, both had supporters, both had people they needed to support, both were beaten, and bloodied – you sure you want to be like them? Like them can brag on their infirmities – but they also needed to literally live through them in order to brag.

Some of you know. Some of you have as little or less food than I have. How can we have computers or phone to access the internet but not enough to eat? With gas shortages and famines and the USA causing their own famine – we are all about to find out. Some of you haven’t even been here in a while nor will you read this post – because your nation has banned you from accessing foreign posts – and soon will be controlling your viewing even more. Even Canada is talking about limiting global internet access – quickly becoming like China. The enemy has created the perfect storm and God is still shaking His people in judgement and in trials to prepare them. It is a difficult time.

God has warned us to prepare us. These lessons about Paul’s hardships are to prepare us. We will be able to brag on our hard times someday IN THE GLORY OF GOD. And in it, we will have peace, abundance in God, and hope. You’ll see.

***

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!

Loving Obedience Through the Fight – 6-21-22

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 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 10 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

The Spiritual War

10 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not [a]carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

Reality of Paul’s Authority

Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even [b]so we are Christ’s. For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave [c]us for [d]edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed— lest I seem to terrify you by letters. 10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.

Limits of Paul’s Authority

12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ; 15 not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, 16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment.

17 But “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 10:4 of the flesh
  2. 2 Corinthians 10:7 NU as we are.
  3. 2 Corinthians 10:8 NU omits us
  4. 2 Corinthians 10:8 building up

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:

Today’s reading almost seems like a list of commonly quoted verses in the Christian community. Seriously, some of my favorite verses!

Let’s however remember the context – especially since many of us a so familiar with them out of context.
Paul is writing this letter to the church of Corinth to remind them of His love for them, like a father. He is defending himself in God, against a smear campaign aimed at discrediting him. And he is reminding them of the tasks at hand, that still need to be accomplished. Yesterday we concluded two chapters on giving offerings to God. Keep in mind that Paul did not break this book into chapters and verses… that happened much later. So today’s reading may seem to change the subject, but it doesn’t – Paul is great at staying focused on what it is he is saying.

So today he is speaking with the starting point of giving yourself to God and an offering to God. And he will continue to defend his authority and its limits.

1 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you.”

Now, usually we hear man say, if you are humble and meek, you do not have to say so. People should see it in your character. Well, that is not true. We, humans, being prone to arrogance – love to think we are perceptive enough to recognize a humble servant type character. But our perception of humility and meekness is equal to weakness in our heads. Why? I do not know.
Jesus was humble and meek, even when he went into the temple with a whip and overturned tables and chased out the vendors! Humble and meek people are still empowered, especially when filled with the Holy Spirit.
Paul wrote the very stern and firm disciplinarian letter of First Corinthians, then there was the letter of tears (or maybe it was one and the same based on your understanding of history) and now this letter is also, quite direct. No one likes to be disciplined, and no one likes to be wrong and corrected – and from that perspective it is easy to confuse authority for pride and lack of meekness and lack of humility.

But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.”

If Paul was driving and this church was in the back seat – this is the proverbial: “Don’t make me pull this car over!” Paul says this a couple ways, just like our parents, or even us as parents at some point find ourselves saying. Like: Don’t make me come over there! Like: Don’t make me call your father!
Paul doesn’t want to have to discipline them further and is saying that he wishes he didn’t have to be firm. But, if they are going to misbehave, he will have to be bold – or sternly correct them.
In the flesh, some may say or imply that Paul is coming in a power trip of pride. But this is not of flesh, but of God and Paul is quick not to take credit or accusation – This is a spirit thing.
This has EVERYTHING to do with the two chapters of the offering message! (Which actually surprised me, once I put this in context!)
Because you may say of me, after reading those lessons on giving: “who do you think you are, by telling me what to do with my money?” And same with the Corinthians to Paul. And same with you and I to Paul – don’t tell me what to do! We seek spiritual guidance from Paul and the Word of God, but does it cross a line when it reaches its hand into our pockets?  Mature and hungry Christians, like you and I, are eager to learn and practice what we have learned. We gave the best offering we could last Sunday! God is GOOD! It stretched us and we know God is God and has the right to tell His story through us AND through our finances.
But then, Monday, right after – God asked us to do it again at the end of this week – and to take a whole week to prepare and to be MORE generous than last week!! And now it is easy to succumb to the voices around us saying who is this blogger and why do they think they can tell us what to do with our money and how we should give offerings. It is not me OR PAUL, asking for the more generous offering – it is your heavenly Father. So if you are so bold to walk before Him in that pride and ask Him, He will gladly tell you and sadly resist you.
Now, Paul was well aware of those voices, coming in to steal the good meat he laid out for us. They are not flesh, even if some come from people around us. They are the enemy! Which is why Paul goes on to say:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.”

To the Ephesians he says:For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 NKJV
And to the Galatians, Paul writes in Galatians chapter 5 that they should walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh.
Putting verse 3 in context with Second Corinthians and then in perspective with the New Testament, we begin to get a broader understanding.
The fleshly world is NOT the real one – we must learn to be aware and walk in the Spirit world that interacts with the fleshly world. Not only aware and walking – But warring! There is a battle there and it is our JOB to be in the fight!
The enemy wants to steal the blessings of obedience to giving. Steal the blessings of becoming humble and correctable. And steal the blessings of submitting to the authority of the Word of God, penned by Paul.
How do we fight to keep the seed of the Word, the seed of the finances God blesses us with to plant?

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,”

The weapons are further described in the passage of the Armor of God – which is FIRST the sword, or the word of God – it is anointed to do its job. The second is prayer and intercession.
These can pull down strongholds. What is a stronghold? I am glad you asked. Literally, in Roman military strategies, the military would built huge structures and put them on wheel and wheel them, push them, into the opposition’s territory. In the medieval times, they strongholds were fortresses that were fortified and held well usually made of stone. Paul was unaware of these stone structures, Paul is speaking of the Roman strongholds.
These huge wooden structures would be filled with warriors and water. Because they’re weakness was fire – and then they could put out any fire quickly. These strongholds, moved slowly and intentionally bullying their way in and possessed the land.  Possess the land. When we have stronghold, the enemy is attempting to or is possessing an area of your life. An area of your life – you are not demon possessed, but there is a possession in some area in the spirit. And it needs to be pulled down since fire was not fully effective. The most effective offense against it is to sneak up beside it and throw a rope up on it which could hook in. Then they would pull it sideways – it was the only way to pull it down and stop it!
This is the visual that the Corinthians would have been familiar with and understand.

casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”     

Casting down arguments. Like who does Paul think he is? All the things those voices say to convince us to argue against the Word of God. We can fight those voices by confirming the Word. It is written!
When arguments come to us through man, against the word, we can speak the word to fight in the spirit. Man gets so mad, but it is a spiritual battle – not a flesh battle and our spiritual sword is the word. It is so important to know the word!
Casting down every high thing that exalts itself against God – Pride. God really has a huge issue with pride. He will shack it to its knees or to its destruction. We can cast down the pride in ourselves by double checking that we are humble, regularly – and practicing humility. When we are confronted with pride and should discern it and pray against it – “In the Name of Jesus, we cast it down!”
Bringing every thought into captivity is a bit more of a struggle (maybe just for me). Last week I felt like wild thoughts just kept my mind jumping around from one thing to another and insecurity, doubt, the feeling of not being good enough, and the feeling that I was wrong but kept bombing my mind. Over and over I had to literally say STOP! And ask God to clear my mind and help me be obedient even in my thoughts. So I would try to focus on God, His word, and Philippians 4:8. (Which is a great verse to work on memorizing whenever you struggle with your mind, or with depressive or anxious thoughts. Especially in the KJV, because there is a bit more rhythm in that version.
We are to guard our minds, and be obedient even in our thoughts and repent of wayward thought – yea, this opens a whole new area to die to flesh in!
Those of you with ADD, ADHD, or a form of Autism – by diagnosis it is more difficult for you to control your mind. I know. I used to excuse myself, because I clinically can justify my lack of control. BUT if God is making me into a new creature – then, my long list of diagnosis is just a list of made up words and are meaningless in the power of God. Meaning, God is still able to help me in those areas and in controlling my mind. For me it is more of a battle, I suppose, based on comparative discussions with others, than it is with people who are neuro-typical. But God overcomes, no matter your abilities. God is never limited by man’s definitions.
I was one way, then Jesus happened to me and now I am another way – I was terrible at thinking and writing and teaching, then God happened and now I find myself doing this for His glory!

and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”

We really should use a bit more modern language here. Paul is NOT saying we are to punish anyone who is disobedient. The law has to do with punishment so God completed the law with Christ and brought freedom (as we saw in previous studies).
Paul is saying that once we learn to obey in an area (‘your obedience is fulfilled’) then we can correct and help our brothers and sister through their struggle to overcome or correct disobedience in their own life.
But for us to become submitted to obedience – we must die to self. Die – punish. So we can begin t see where the language came from.

Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s.”

Ok, verse 7 is a little abstract and very meaningful. Usually, the more abstract the thought is in the Bible the more spirit-filled and deep, meaty it is. So first to keep it in perspective Let us look at it from a step back. We are talking about the battle that comes with giving an offering, the battle that comes with being corrected, and the battle that comes with reconciliation from a divide. In other words, the devil came to rob, kill and destroy and we are battling to not be robbed, stop the killing and not be destroyed as a whole – the Body of Christ spread over the globe, as the regional body of believers in your area, as your local church body and as you individually.
We spend a LOT of time applying these things to us individually – because we cannot change others, but we can change ourselves. But the battle is greater and individually and just speaking, teaching or reading the word is an offensive move in the spirit – the enemy sees us swinging a sword. And if you think you are swinging a sword to fix yourself, then you aren’t looking at the spirit – in the spirit the enemy sees the sword swinging and sends backup. But do not focus in the spirit at your battle – instead look around – there is a greater war on the body and this is not about winning battles, it is about engaging in the war. Yu see personal attacks are often just a distraction so you cannot see or pray for the war at hand.
You know you have accepted Jesus (hopefully, if not go back to the top and get that done!) and have a relationship with God and are engaged in the war – because you are learning and growing deep and strong in the Word of God, getting into your heart and transforming you. So Paul is saying look again and see that he and his team are also in Christ. Stop warring against each other and band together against the enemy.  There is a common foe, and he is distracting us and making us focus on each other.
This is a difficult concept. On one hand we can certainly see how this works with most people. But if you are in a conflict with a fellow believer, it is important to understand they love God and God loves them. They are not the bad guy even if they hurt you. They are fallible, weak humans who have erred and so are you, and me. Paul is redirecting, knowing the attack of the enemy will hit hard after the lesson’s he has presented – because unity, obedience and giving are enemy crushing concepts if practiced regularly.

Now, we know there are some in Corinth who have questioned Paul’s authority, even though he founded the church. And we know the enemy will continue to attack the authority of a Christian, because how can we stand if we are questioning if we should stand.

For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed –“

Boasting (in this sense) is not a prideful activity – it is praising the character or saying something is good. Paul’s authority from God over this church is good. God gave it to edify and not destroy.
You and I also have authority from God – to do great exploits, and to edify and NOT destroy. Some people just like to see others fail. Paul is not ashamed, because he is NOT hoping they fail and he is not co-dependent, needing them to need him. Paul has a lot of churches to oversee and even more he hopes to start. You and I should learn to grow others, encourage others, boast on others, and stay in our lane (more on that in a moment).

lest I seem to terrify you by letters. 10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.”

Again, Paul is reminding them that he will stop this car if they do not behave! It appears, they were well behaved while he was there, so he wasn’t so hard on them. But now that he is gone he has to address problems again by letter. He knows they are LUCKY, Jesus sent him, instead of showing up himself with a whip, overturning tables!

12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”

The other day I had iced tea with a motherly person in my life – she and I were talking about this very thing. Paul compared his level of obedience to the measure of what God told him to do. It is vital that we use NO OTHER METHOD of measuring ourselves. Any other method will give a wrong answer. Jesus sees us by the fruits we are able to produce and God sees us by our love for Him. So we cannot compare to those things, as they are known only to God in full and to us in part.
Man says to compete with yourself and do better than the last time. Man says to compete with others as well. These are humanistic values – not Godly! Let me use myself as an example.
I was a very talented kid, when it came to art. I could paint and draw very well – all things creative came easily to me. I quickly became the best in my class – a class of untalented children who took art because it was part of their curriculum. I then stopped stretching and growing and my grades were always A’s. The assignments bored me and I created much better things in secret. But I compared myself to others and so did my teachers. UNTIL, one teacher started to grade me, comparing me to yesterday’s me. Now, I had to one-up myself in order to get the good grades. Each day I put in slightly more effort to outdo myself. And each day I scored well. This is NOT wise – because under that direction, I never reached my own potential. And I knew it. I was lazy. I still got into the 2nd best art school in the nation (I did not apply to the best, it didn’t interest me – because it was known for comparing people to their potential). So I went to school and outperformed my classmates, because I am competitive and got the stellar grades. Soon I wasn’t challenged anymore and bored. I was scared of working hard and meeting my potential – it was easy to just be the big fish in a pond (but I wasn’t a fish, I was a tiny underdeveloped whale). God wants us to be everything he designed us to be – and that can be scary, but it is what we are made for. We are made for such a time as this!
And honestly, the only part that is scary is the unknown. Humans need limits – security. Even if we press those limits and expand, we still need them.

13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you.”

Getting back to staying in our lane – and comparing ourselves to our potential within God given limits. Paul isn’t saying he is the boss of everyone – he is saying God gave him churches to oversee and he is doing his job – and Corinth is one of those churches.

Paul wasn’t heading to Jerusalem to run the churches that Peter oversaw – they was Peter’s job.
And back to using me as an example, God did not make me to be the best at art in my classes – God made to use my art to glorify him. Which I am learning means in a very different way than most people expected of me. My mom would LOVE me to be one of those prophetic painters who speaks prophecy while painting, or paints while worship music plays and the subject matter becomes an image of Jesus.
I have nothing against those who do that – but THAT is definitely NOT mine. I do listen to the Bible on audio and worship music while I paint – but that is just because I like to listen to the Bible and worship always, when I cook, when I clean, when I drive, etc. God has given me business skills and other skills he wants incorporated in my creativity – I must reach MY potential, not someone else’s.

14 For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ;”

Paul is reminding this church – he, through God, founded it. He is perfectly in his lane and authority to do God’s will in this church.
Life application is – when we are in our scope of authority, God’s power and anointing can move through us. And when we are outside of our scope of authority and meddling with someone else’s’ ministry, or calling – we are not anointed.
If I was to play music and –paint for you, you would be entertained. There would be NO anointing. That is NOT my calling or ministry. If I was to stand in front of you and speak, like I write, then God will move. This is my calling. He is also glorified in my painting – but that is not this. And everyone who buys my painted earrings, is blessed and moved by God and God encourages, makes them feel beautiful and God lifts them up. That is what God does with my ‘art’. I make it, sell it, send it off – and God does the rest.

15 not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere,  16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment.”

Now, as Paul stays in his authority – God moves, the anointing breaks the yokes of bondage, great testimonies and boasting on God can happen. Paul says he is not meddling in someone else’s ministry, but having hope that they understand in faith – and that faith grows huge and Paul can see the fruits of his labor in the field in which he planted. Paul is NOT trying to take credit for someone else’s work, labor, or sowing.

17 But “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”

And finally I circle back to that conversation with that mother figure over tea – as we discussed our measure in God’s eyes and in how we testify and glorify our God, she flat out says: we can misstep in our testimony robbing God of a sliver of His glory and taking a reward, or recognition, here on earth, and losing that crown in heaven. Me, being me – runs this idea through verse after verse, finding a full sermon’s worth of revelation and wow. She knows how to give the word, uncorrupted and she is a great role model. So we discuss the verses and the depths of glory and conclude it is actually possible to rob yourself of salvation, through pride, sliver by sliver. It was a reverent moment. The fear of God strikes in awe.
It is a slight slip, on a slippery slope. This is why repentance and forgiveness is in our lesson, from Jesus, on how to pray daily. We must humble ourselves and repent daily. We must stay in our lane and obey our tasks and look for no reward, other than seeing our God, and Jesus, both whom we love deeply, get all the credit and be glorified.

Lord help us to love you this way! In the name of Jesus ~amen

***

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!

Learning To Give – 6-20-22

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 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 9 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Administering the Gift

Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you; for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority. Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this respect, that, as I said, you may be ready; lest if some Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to mention you!) should be ashamed of this [a]confident boasting. Therefore I thought it necessary to [b]exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a [c]grudging obligation.

The Cheerful Giver

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows [d]bountifully will also reap [e]bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of [f]necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written:

“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”

10 Now [g]may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, [h]supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 9:4 NU confidence.
  2. 2 Corinthians 9:5 encourage
  3. 2 Corinthians 9:5 Lit. covetousness
  4. 2 Corinthians 9:6 with blessings
  5. 2 Corinthians 9:6 with blessings
  6. 2 Corinthians 9:7 compulsion
  7. 2 Corinthians 9:10 NU omits may
  8. 2 Corinthians 9:10 NU will supply

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 to 2 Corinthians. I hope your weekend was blessed and I hope you participated in our offering challenge – Giving out of obedience and love. We had studied chapter 8 and discussed offerings. Today’s reading is from chapter 9 and it is also on giving – because the one chapter did not cover all the nuances and elements of giving to God – Actually the Bible is FULL of lessons on it. Most preachers had been avoiding the subject, thanks to corrupted greedy preachers who preached it to make people give them money. The good thing that came from that is that preachers who did preach it focused on giving time, skills, resources, talents and the such to God (giving everything but money). Which is good, because if you are out of money and some are out of money in this world – You still have something you can give without feeling guilty that you cannot worship God with more. BUT Paul was speaking of actual money. SO we should not fail in also applying this to the giving of money.

It is very hard that this lesson on giving comes as the economy crashes globally – as many places have food shortages and inflation. It varies from areas to area as well as from home to home. When I am low or out of food, I fast. Actually, because the times are so much more perilous I am fasting with prayer quite regularly – ask God if you should too. It will get worse BUT if we know how to be in a relationship with God, God will take care of us – according to His will for us and for His glory.
On our Facebook and Instagram feed I am posting Psalm 91 and the Armor of God passages every other day. Get these passages into your heart to stand on. BUT if we are going to TRUST in the Lord blindly we must know His character and His principles.
His methods and principles are two different things. His methods change. His principles do not. I was touched by an anointed grace that transformed me in my living room. That does NOT mean we must bring everyone to my living room so God can touch them. It was just one of His ever changing methods. But His laws and principles do not change. Jesus died for our sins, because of the principle and sin requires a death. And today’s reading shows us the principles of giving. Friday it was a lesson of giving, because of worship, love and obedience – and today Paul shows us some of the reasons why – showing us the principle.
As the times gets worse, this principle shall be our provisions.

Lets jump in:

1 Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you;”

Ministering to the saints – Saints means fellow brothers in sisters in Christ and not what it means in modern Catholicism. If you believed and had a relationship with God, like you and me, Paul called us saints. The word Christian caught on and became the word for us – but in the first century, there are many words the church made up and some stuck and some changed like this one.
Ministering to the Christians – this seems to be an area the church in Corinth was good at. I am sure they gave of their hospitality, goodness, skills, talents and things well. Paul includes more than just giving money in his message by inference – so it is not wrong to give of ourselves.
But make sure you understand that giving money is a ministry – it ministers to people. I would love to be in the ministry of giving money. What you want to travel the world preaching – sure, here is a few thousand dollars to fund the trip. That would be amazing. But those people need to hear strongly from God – because everyone will be asking for money. What a burden, unless God gives the ministry and leads it.

for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority.”

So the church at Corinth was ready and full of zeal to give to the special offering which Paul is discussing (read Friday’s post for more into on the historic reasons and events behind this special offering). We should be full of zeal to give – and if we are, others will also catch this zeal! Zeal, is more than eager, more than ready, more than excited. When you go to church and the offering plate is about to be passed, are you also full of zeal?!
Honestly, God is showing us details here that we should know and practice. It is right. We should minister with money and do it zealously!

Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this respect, that, as I said, you may be ready; lest if some Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to mention you!) should be ashamed of this confident boasting.”

Here is another interesting concept. And it took me a LONG time to learn this. It is wrong to be unprepared when it is offering time. I used to sit there and fill out my check in the sanctuary when it was time to pray for the offering. I wasn’t praying, I was writing.  Then as times changed, it was at the offering call that I took out my phone and gave through the app. We all know there is an offering call every Sunday. Saturday night while we get out our church clothes and get ready for bed, make more time to pray about what you should give and make out the check then, and be ready.
Moreover, it is Monday – you just gave yesterday, but what does God want you to do next Sunday?! You have a week to prepare, maybe shuffle funds, maybe loose something, maybe you need to transfer money or go to the bank. PLAN AHEAD FOR THE OFFERING!  Paul is telling them to be ready for when it is time to collect, we too should be ready for when it is collected.

Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.”

We give to God because we love Him. And because he commands that we bring in the tithes and offerings. One of God’s love languages is gifts! He loves to receive ad to give. We are learning about God’s tender character. All too often when studying about offerings we are holding our bank accounts so tight we miss that it is about love. Some days a husband buys his wife a huge bouquet of flowers other days just one or two flowers, just because he loves her and knows she loves flowers.
It is the same with God – except it is not flowers – it is money. It is like going with change or going with large bouquets of money!!
“Prepare your generous gift beforehand” there it is, and it could not be more clear. Give yourself to God and ask Him what He wants you to give – then obey. The Church is NOT asking for your money!! GOD IS. and He has every right to! It is time to stop seeing it as a “grudging obligation”.

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

This is so important and I can write book on this very point alone – giving to God is like sowing seeds. Each seed produces a plant, with a few flowers or fruits which produce a BUNCH more seeds. If I have one piece of corn – I can put it on a hot pan with some oil and let it pop and eat it. OR I can drop it in the ground and reap a stalk with a few ears and many seeds on each. I could pop one ear and plant the rest, and next time I will have SO MUCH MORE!
What GOD is saying is that HE doesn’t want our money because He is greedy – nope! God wants to take it and multiply it – cause it to bear fruit and flowers and then MORE SEEDS so you can sow more! God cannot change your situation, your finances, your lack, until you sow it to Him in worship and let God do what He is famous for, transforming and multiplying!

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

But give in LOVE, with cheerfulness, zeal and thanksgiving. Because He has already never failed you is why you give generously in thanks. Not of necessity.
Giving out of necessity can mean giving because you feel it is necessary. But, if you are needy and you give ONLY because you know God will multiple and give back – that is wrong. Do not do it to make God perform for you. Even though, it works and you can give big and receive big – Do not give only to receive.
This is where all the prosperity preachers went wrong. God is concerned about our hearts and not our bank accounts. He will provide, so He isn’t worried. He wants our gifts because we love Him.
This is a prayerful work – one God has been working in me for a while. He wants me to prosper, yet I lack. I give, why am I not getting back? And all the while I am getting to know God more and better and falling more in love with Him and he is softening my heart to be more giving. And God is showing me in my lack, NOT just how to have faith and trust Him, because I already do – but more about how to love Him and others. Love. The other day I found a couple dollars in a pocket of a pair of pants that do not fit me anymore and I haven’t worn in years. The money looked rolled and washed. I praised the lord as I have a need for dish soap and I could now go buy it. I hurried to the store and I thought maybe I should put these couple of dollars into the gas tank. It wouldn’t even equal a gallon. And probably would burn as much gas to get me to the gas station and back as I had in change. I pass the gas station and arrive at the store. As I park, I pray God helps me and thank Him for it and I felt like, what If someone in front of me is short the money she needs for food and it Is exactly the amount I have would I put back my dish soap and give it to her? I thought of course I would. Then I thought what if God wants this, would I give it to him. So I sat there in the parking lot praying and telling God that those few dollars were his and I would do what He wanted with them. In the end, after surrendering to whatever may come to take the money – I walked inside, grabbed the soap and looked around, nothing weird was happening. Ok, so I took it to the checkout line. The man in front of me pulled out cash, more cash than he needed for his order. He had no need of my few dollars. Before it was my turn, I looked behind me at a lady who already had her card out to pay and was buying one item that was more than I had, so it looked like it was my turn to cash out. Nothing happened. I left the store holding my soap like it was the most important thing in the world – because I gave it all to God and he gave me back the soap that I need with a few cents to spare.
It seems silly in hindsight and I almost didn’t share – cause nothing happened…. BUT SOMETHING DID HAPPEN. God is changing me and my relationship with money. God is changing the way I give. I give because I love Him, Because he has been SO good, SOOOO GOOOOOOOD!

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written:“He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”

God promises sufficiency in all things – there is that prosperity message, there is no getting around it. it is followed by “Abundance” and preceded by “Abound”. We aren’t sowing money and reaping spirit things. We aren’t sowing apple seeds and reaping wheat. We sow finances we also reap finances. But the process of sowing correctly reaps grace. And the love and obedience of doing it right reaps love and spiritual growth.
Here we also see that those blessings are for our provisions, but they come in abundance that we may give more. We are blessed to be a blessing!
Like I had extra after buying the soap, a few cents. I could buy a small candy – and reap my reward instantly in sweets. Or I can take that money and drop it in the offering plate, because I am blessed with the extra to be a blessing and reap eternal rewards. Yes, even with a few cents.

10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.”

Come on, are you getting this? So, you all know I have been broke lately. And I have been asking for seed to sow. I have been giving my products that I make in my business, as unto God. Whatever is in my hands, I have been practicing giving. So, God filled my need for soap, and I have extra seed to give. Now, why didn’t I wait for God to give me the soap and give the money in the offering? Well, I did wait a couple days, and the dishes are backed up over the counter. And God sent someone over, with a hamburger as a gift for me, we sat on the porch and talked and ate burgers, but no soap. And I prayed about the money and thought immediately I can get soap. And then God told me to put the change into the offering plate. I think I obeyed and did right. I try.
Why soap and not food? Well, God gives bread for food! Which is so funny because every week the food pantry gives so much bread! I do not eat a lot of bread – but God gives bread for food and now I have a freezer full of bread!
God is multiplying the seed. I had lessons to learn in my heart. And I had to go through a rough time so God could prune off all that was in His way. He is increasing the fruits of my righteousness.
Enriched in everything, say EVERYTHING! For all liberality, meaning freedom and openness! God blesses us to be free to thank Him. He gives us the seeds to be thanked for them. It is a multiplying cycle if we slide into it in worship of His awesomeness to have created a system for provisions and blessings.

12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

And Paul breaks out in worship of God for His great and abundant returns on the offering. Because the people receiving the offering will be blessed and now have seed to sow and give to others. And the ones who first sowed the gift will rea for their sowing that that is how God takes a little and blesses the entire first century church scatted all over the Roman world and beyond.

Lord, we all gave an offering this week in love and worship, please take it and bless us for giving it because we are trying to practice what we red and we are trying to learn to be obedient in our gifts to you. Please give us abundant grace as we go through this process. Please meet our needs this week and give us extra seed to sow, so that as we prepare, even now, for next Sunday’s gift to you, you will provide the seed to be sown so that this next offering will be bigger than yesterday’s offering. In the name of Jesus I pray ~amen

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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!

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there! God bless you and may He give you more wisdom, more grace and more love!

And may we all come to understand what a good father is, so we may understand the character of God better and be bathed in the revelation of our relationship with God.