Thanksgiving – 6-17-22

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9 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 8 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Excel in Giving

Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency [a]that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.

Christ Our Pattern

I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

10 And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; 11 but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. 12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.

13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

Collection for the Judean Saints

16 But thanks be to God who [b]puts the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus. 17 For he not only accepted the exhortation, but being more diligent, he went to you of his own accord. 18 And we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches, 19 and not only that, but who was also chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of the Lord Himself and to show your ready mind, 20 avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us— 21 providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

22 And we have sent with them our brother whom we have often proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, because of the great confidence which we have in you. 23 If anyone inquires about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you. Or if our brethren are inquired about, they are messengers[c] of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 Therefore show to them, [d]and before the churches, the proof of your love and of our boasting on your behalf.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 8:4 NU, M omit that we would receive, thus changing text to urgency for the favor and fellowship
  2. 2 Corinthians 8:16 NU has put
  3. 2 Corinthians 8:23 Lit. apostles, “sent ones”
  4. 2 Corinthians 8:24 NU, M omit and

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:

I titled today: Thanksgiving – because, at least here in America we eat too much then eat some more. Today’s chapter is a buffet table prepared with an even greater abundance than the typical Thanksgiving feast! This is the rich meat. I hope you came hungry for God to speak to you through today’s word.

First a little 1st century history. In 1st Corinthians Paul thanked them for being willing to take up a special offering for the church in Jerusalem.  The disciples tried to run the early church the same way they lived together on the road with Jesus – having all things in common. They quickly went broke and prayerfully adopted the same financial system the temple had (which God established). On top of that they had the misfortune of a localized drought and food shortages. On top of that Rome was quietly putting pressure on Jerusalem (because of the temple and the Jews refusing to assimilate into the roman ways) so there were supply chain shortages and work shortages. Which we know all came to a head in the year 70 – when Rome destroyed the temple. (And for reference Paul penned this letter approx. the year 55.)
In this letter (in today’s reading) Paul is reminding them they still have not paid the special offering which they committed to – which Paul thanked them for in the first letter).
In Acts chapter 5, there is a passage about Ananias and Sapphira. This couple told God they were selling property and giving all of the money to the church. They changed their minds and did not want to give the whole amount. Instead of saying so and instead of prayerfully working it out, they lied to the church and said they sold it for less money and continued to lie when saying they fulfilled their commitment.
Be careful of your commitments to God. Once you say you will do something, you better. Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead instantly for this sin.
Let’s talk about money.

Money is one of the topic Jesus spoke about the most – yet it is the least spoken of topic from the pulpit. Because you cannot even begin to address money without starting with tithes and offerings.  Bringing your best to the Lord, as an offering was first recorded in Genesis with Able’s offering.  
Then throughout history the Bible records God blessing a cheerful giver. Solomon gave the biggest well planned offering and God blessed him with wisdom and abundant riches. The widow who fed Elijah and her pots never ran dry – she gave it all and was blessed.  And there is example after example.
Jesus praises the New Testament widow who gave her last 2 mites, she is recorded for eternity. And of course the lady with the alabaster box of expensive oil, who anointed Jesus – she definitely goes down as a memorable giver. My point is that today’s discussion will be long and can be cross referenced throughout the Bible. But, I will refrain from drawing comparisons with every testimony of someone giving in the Bible.

SO why isn’t it touched on much by the church – well a few false prophets in the 80’s ruined it for everyone most recently and now everyone is scared of being classified with them. I am not – because my ministry to you (of writing this blog) is not set up as an official organization and I cannot take donations or offerings. This is just something God compels me to do and I obey as an act of worship. An offering in a sense.

God is a God of prosperity and blessings – not to reap it unto our lusts and flesh, but we are blessed in order to bless others. The prosperity Gospel is truth – we cannot deny it or change the gospel in order to keep ourselves from looking like a false prophet prosperity preacher. If you do not have a mega church and you live modestly giving abundantly to God – you should NOT have any issue with preaching the exceedingly abundant blessings, including financial, of the Lord. If you aren’t asking for an amount or a gift in exchange for prayer or prophecy you are good.

And if you aren’t a Church leader – Never give an offering to God in exchange for prayer – I will pray for you for free, so will many others. DO NOT give in exchange for prophecy – I can prophesy for free that they will lie to you! ONLY GIVE TO THE LORD OUT OF WORSHIP>

Today, Lord, open our understanding and give us a mindset change. Tear down wrong thinking and teach us how to give AND receive. Break any strongholds that hinder our blessings. AND destroy all standing in the way of us giving to you like Able with a pure heart out of love – in worship of you. In Jesus name ~amen

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt 6:21 NKJV

If you love God, then your checkbook should show it – but moreover, because it is a heart thing, it is an act of worship and thanksgiving.

So let’s try to do this in one day:

Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.”

So the churches in Macedonia were poor. A poor region is different than a poor area of a city. This region did not have the same access to wealth, roman trade, and other things that a wealthy city like Corinth took for granted. Macedonians lived modestly, and traded with each other to sustain life, without money. So taking an offering from people without money should have been difficult.
But as we see in verse 1, the GRACE of God was bestowed on them. Heavenly Father, please pour out your grace on us as we eager learn how to worship you with our relationship with finances. Amen
And in verse two we see they had a great trial of afflictions – and in spite of it they had abundance of joy.  Listen, grief is normal and needed, but there is a time we must let Joy come in the morning. IF we do not we will give way for the demonic spirit of death to trap us in mourning. Just like God wants us blessed, He wants us joyful, regardless of the trials and grief.

For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”

Paul himself saw this – they gave according to their ability and beyond their ability. We are going to get into it at some point, but I might as well touch on it here. God does not want you to borrow or go into debt to give an offering. I would LOVE to give a million dollars to the Kingdom of God to do His work. But I do not have a million dollars. Do not go into debt to give. So how did they go beyond their means. Well, the next chapter will explain it better – but in short, these people were so eager and hungry to give to this offering they asked God to bless them with more so they could give more!

And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.”

Every Sunday at offering time – are you in worship? Are you asking what you should give? Are you asking for MORE so you can give more? I am. And when I have no money, I ask God what do I have in my hands that you want me to give and I asks for more so I can give more of it too! Offerings, also include non-monetary gifts as well as acts of service.
God gave me a business and as many of you know it is going through new business struggles. I did not expect them, I expected grace to let me overcome and just succeed. But God has me going through it as well as dealing with attacks on my finances, like large dollar repairs and issues. I can confidently say: God is faithful. But am I? Are you? Not just in service where man can see – but in private, in your heart are you giving ALL of you to God first, then by the will of God to the offerings.

So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well.”

So Titus seems to be the messenger – Titus does not complete grace in anyone. Titus is supposed to pick up the grace offering for the church in Jerusalem. (and boy are those Christians about to need it!)

But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.”

Grace. Some always say it is God’s favor. But if that was accurate it is a stretch for Paul to use it to describe giving an offering here in verse 7. I always say grace has and is an action – it transforms / is transforming. This implies that Paul does not what them to just give an offering, but Paul wants them to give themselves to God, be transformed, into super-givers like the people of Macedonia. There is a little bit of a low-key challenge put forth here.

Ok but not only because Macedonia gave well – let’s look also at the example Jesus gave us:

I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”

I once heard that this verse was speaking of spiritual riches. In case you heard that too, let’s discuss it: 1st, why would Paul go from talking about money to talking about spatial riches then back to money. This is Paul’s offering call. 2nd, Jesus was never anything but rich in the spirit. Even as a child, wandering away from his family to discuss the word in the temple… Jesus was always rich in spirit.
Jesus was wealthy in heaven before he came to earth and he is still wealthy now that he sits on the right hand of the father:
For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.” Psalms 50:10-12 NKJV
I know that is different than monetary wealth.
‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts” Haggai 2:8 NKJV

So, Jesus gave it all up, so that we can access it, through Him. The enemy is busy stealing your inheritance right out from under your nose. God did not make us to be impoverished!

10 And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago;”

A year ago, they committed to taking up an offering. Then they had all sorts of problems as we have seen addressed in these letter. Isn’t that how it always works. I save up some money to give and then something breaks – I give the money anyway, because I committed to it.

11 but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have.”
You can’t just commit to it – you have to actually do it. Some of us may find this type of logic normal. We know the offering isn’t actually given until it is given. But to my surprise people really do think that having the intention to is enough and equal to doing it. Very recently, actress, Amber Heard, was very publicly embarrassed by her own lack of understanding that she must actually give the money to the charity not just pledge it. Yes – there are people out there who do not understand this.

12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

Give what you can – not going in debt. If you want, ask God to provide more so you can give more. Someday the church is Jerusalem may have an abundance and be able to help you out.
Some people get really excited to help in relieve efforts – other are greedy and do not help. Paul is trying to explain the concept of a community relief effort. In the USA, we often throw together relief efforts for wars and natural disasters. This is not a new concept to us. What Paul was doing was collecting for the FIRST global church wide relief effort.

So onto some housekeeping for Paul. Because obviously we must be VERY clear with these Corinthians:

16 But thanks be to God who puts the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus. 17 For he not only accepted the exhortation, but being more diligent, he went to you of his own accord. 18 And we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches, 19 and not only that, but who was also chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of the Lord Himself and to show your ready mind, 20 avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us— 21 providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”

Titus and his team are working on this relief effort under Paul’s direction as Paul is administrating it. Paul is wise – he has removed himself from the money. This means he gets no praise – but no one can blame foul play on him if something goes wrong. But this “Lavish Gift” is not from Paul – but from the churches.
Wait, did you catch that? Did you ever stop to think about it? Paul did not collect offering for Himself at churches and Paul only worked when he was separated from the team, and only asked the churches for money when he was jailed and separated from his team. How did Paul afford to take a team and travel the world, starting churches? We know Paul’s family must have had some wealth, as they had Paul taught in both Greek and in Hebrew school.  Paul may have had family wealth to pay for these missions trips. It may have been money from the church in Jerusalem, who funded many missions trips out to start all the churches, besides Paul’s trips. It may have been a combination. All I know is that Paul was not a poor beggar, as many try to explain him to be. You take a team to the next country over and start a bunch of churches and feed them and shelter them and tell me if you can do it without money. You’d be hard pressed to even gather a team without assuring you could feed them.
Even Jesus had many wealthy women supporting His ministry. Why did He have an accountant if He was broke?
‘Hey, Judas, How much do we have?’
‘None.’
Next day – ‘How much today?’
‘Still none.’
And they gave to the government what belongs to the government and they made offerings in the temple.

22 And we have sent with them our brother whom we have often proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, because of the great confidence which we have in you. 23 If anyone inquires about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you. Or if our brethren are inquired about, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 Therefore show to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love and of our boasting on your behalf.”

Ok, so listen Kids, Paul says as fatherly as he can: Titus is with me and if anyone asks you say so and you defend him like you defend me. (To the same people who asked Paul for credentials and accused him of not being sent to them by God – when he founded the church. Paul has a LOT of faith in these people.)

And Paul concludes with asking them to make sure their offering is worthy of his boasting about how great the church at Corinth is. Above we had a low-key challenge to give a good offering, and here we have an outright challenge that they live up to their name!  Offering challenges are NOT just for children.

So today, start planning your offering for Sunday. Not your tithe, but your special offering showing God you are willing to read a passage about giving and immediately apply it to your life in obedience. Let God challenge you. Give yourself completely over to him and let his will be done. Ask God to give you more so you can give more. When God gives you a number (and if you still have money in your bank account) ask Him if that is it. Let us make sure our treasure and our heart is in the Lord. I mean, what can we give to the God who has everything? Nothing shy of our all!  Begin worshiping Him today with planning of what you’ll be giving. Maybe you need to loose something, and maybe you need to get to the bank and free something up. So start planning today.

And make sure you have a joyful and thankful heart as you worship God with your gift.  Like today was a Thanksgiving style buffet of deep riches, and we think about how much money we spend of thanksgiving meals, what is enough for our savior?!

Have a blessed weekend and may God give you the grace to apply this teaching. Please join us for the weekend wisdom reading from the book of Psalms. And join me again here on Monday to discuss the next chapter of 2nd Corinthians.

***

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!

The Work of Repentance – 6-16-22

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1 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 7 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

The Corinthians’ Repentance

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

The Corinthians’ Repentance

Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one. I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.

For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the [a]consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.

For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 12 Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.

The Joy of Titus

13 Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. 15 And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16 Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 7:7 comfort

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:

1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

Today Paul’s writing starts with REPENT. We have the promises, we know the lessons, we know we need unity, and we can apply all of this to ourselves personally and well as to our nations and people – which could cause a global change.

So repent. It starts with ourselves. Every day, I pray that god will show me my wrongs and correct me – like a loving Father. Sometimes a parent must be hard on their children. Sometimes correction hurts.

Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one.”

And when it hurts children’s eyes often glaze over and they harden their hearts. I remember the first time I saw my son shut down. I grabbed him so quick and hugged him. I was so mad – but my love for him and desire for him NOT to harden his heart was greater.

Paul love the church at Corinth like a parent loves their children. Paul is a great example of Godly Love.

I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.” 

Paul tries to explain it is NOT condemnation, no judgement is brought against them. It is pointing out an area that needs correction and how they should be doing it because he loves them. If they are to live and die together, they need to be in unity and living this life the right way together.

Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.”

Paul is bold towards them – firm, strong, and hard on them. On us too. But Paul also talks about how wonderful they are to everyone with as much gusto. You see they were doing a LOT right. But we aren’t talking about that – the letters are about what they did wrong.

When my son was a teen, he challenged me at every turn. He was a team player on team mommy and such a great, sweet and loving boy, until hormones gave him pimples and short circuited his brain. If you spoke to me at that time about my son, you’d hear my frustration and how he disobeyed and could possibly walk away thinking I had a terrible child. But, he was not a bad kid. Over all, I was extremely blessed to have a wonderful child. He never kept his room clean and he didn’t do his chores without a fight. But he got good grade, was in sports, theatre, community service and he kept a job every summer from the time he was 14. He was a happy and productive member of society. This is similar to us reading their parental venting, and corrections, and admonishments, and love towards the Corinthians. We are only seeing the frustration with the chores not being done and we aren’t seeing the rest.

So Paul reminds them of the good parts and how they encouraged him.

So now Paul will discuss their reaction to that letter of tears. For those just joining us – there are a few theological thoughts on this letter. One of the most popular thoughts is that there was a third letter written to the Corinthians from Paul between the 1st letter and this letter which we call 2nd Corinthians. This letter was lost in time and we have nothing to prove its existence except Paul referring to it a few times in this letter.
Another common school of thought is that the 1st letter (1 Corinthians) was the letter of tears. It did have stern and firm correction without much flowery softness, especially when you place it back in the context of the social customs and laws of the time.

Whenever that letter was written – it appears they read it and initially responded with hands on their hips and their heads moving sharply from side to side, and a billowing voice with a great big: Just who does Paul think he is talking to ME like that?! How dare he! As their faces grew red mad.
Paul seems to have received a report and called it making them sorry.
Then Paul was running for his life again in his ministry and really needed encouragement and Titus came and found him and brought news that even though the church at Corinth was initially mad about the letter – soon it worked its way into their hearts and they repented!

For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.”

Not only had they repented – but they did love Paul too!! And so now that Paul rehashed and defended himself again, and now that he reminded us to be reconciled and get into unity, now Paul can finally start this letter in love to his church family.

For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while.”

Paul felt bad, and regretted sending the letter when people received it wrong and did not repent.
Let me tell you – I have had God tell me clearly to say something and get spit in the face. And I regretted it! I looked up to heaven and asked why, why did you have me go tell them that? And literally God said that is not mine to know. So I understand what goes through my own mind when you think you have obeyed God, you are expecting a repentance and you get an angry response in return. I questioned if I even heard from God. I mourned for the person’s inability to get humble and repent. I couldn’t sleep at night because my mind spun through everything and all the what if’s.

If you are going to share Jesus with others – you must resolve that any rejection is NOT them rejecting you, but them rejecting God. You must know some will reject God and not repent, not now and not ever. You need to not think on it or regret it – and know God is still working, God may take your words and cause a repentance later. And with some God will keep trying to reach them to the very last second. It is God’s work. We are just to share our witness, our experience that we were once one way and He made us another way.

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

When I was a teen I developed an image in my head of this Paul – he was stoic, firm, always hit hard and to the point, demanded perfection, overly confident and always right. I did not like Paul much. In acts we saw Paul make jokes, and in multiple books we have learned he is very sarcastic. We know he is super passionate and loving. And here we learn, that he isn’t always confident, never wrong, and he is still learning. You see we all know earthy sorrow leads to death, depression, hardened hearts, etc.
Paul learned through this situation that there is a godly sorrow that produces repentance, a soft heart, and more Christ-like fruits in us.
When godly correction works in us, we catch a glimpse of God. A small hint or God’s full out Glory will produce the same sorry, the same sorrow – that oh so good repentance!
When Isaiah saw God’s glory he cried out in anguish:
“Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5 NKV

11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

Diligence. Yes, when I ask God to correct me – show me where I am wrong and I am able to repent, I do develop a form of diligence – of me diligently striving for Him and His will. It’s a clearing – my name is cleared of that offense and that sin.
Indignation is an interesting choice of words – at least in our modern conversation.
“Some common synonyms of indignation are anger, fury, ire, rage, and wrath. While all these words mean “an intense emotional state induced by displeasure,” indignation stresses righteous anger at what one considers unfair, mean, or shameful.” – Merriam-Webster Thesaurus online
SO, like Isaiah, who anguished in shame, felt the righteous indignation at the sin in himself. Do we hate sin this much?
Next up is fear – Paul refers to the fear of the Lord – the kind of fear that makes you realize your shame in contrast to the HOLINESS of God.
Vehement desire and zeal! What beautiful word choices! Fervent longing and enthusiasm! Passionate yearning and eagerness! Intense aspiration and fervor!
This is an emotionally messy and complicated process – the process of repenting! But in the end it leads us to vindication!!

Paul’s letter shook the church. We have a shacking going on in our world right now! For years I have been saying God is coming in judgment and that time is now! We are seeing it all around us. God is removing pastors who are not lions and generals – who are not Joshua’s ready to march us into the promise land. Those weak churches are closing – God is unifying HIS people. Denominational lines are being crossed. Since churches closed during covid lockdowns – the people went online and learned of other churches. I shared how God gave me a dream of the church I was in being judged and destroyed and he told me to leave. Well – the judgments have started. Before He can shake our governments or the plans of the enemy – he must start in the church.
Our choices are either to judge our self, get humble and repent – or be publicly judged by God. The first choice leads to vindication the second choice leads to embarrassment, loss, humiliation, and more. There is NO third choice. There is no: ‘I am perfect and have no need to repent’.  Repentance include humility – the kind of humility that moves God.

God was giving me so many downloads on this coming judgement back in 2020 that I thought we missed the boat on having the time to repent. But, I told those who would – that it is time. It is not a time to rejoice at the altar that our names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life – it is time for faces on the floor at the altar. If we truly learn humility and a contrite heart… if it an “If my people” moment. If we get humble – then he will save us.

“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV

“12 Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.”

This is a wonderful way of describing being compelled by a godly love.

13 Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. 15 And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16 Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything.

So Paul tells Tutus all the great things about his church – Titus goes to visit and comes back and reports it is all still true. And they have repented! It is like when I fought with my son to clean the kitchen for a day! Then I leave to get groceries and when I return it is finally done and my son asks if he can go spend the night at his friend. I say yes – I am confident that I can trust him. Even though he has areas (like chores) that he struggles with.

I am passionate and hard sometimes in this blog and in my other sharing – but we are in a house on fire! I cannot risk being demur and sweet and begging – a pep talk or self-help guidance is NOT getting you out of the burning house fast enough. I don’t have time to even help you come to the right answer on your own. Get humble, get low – and crawl out now. Or you will die.

On top of all of that, none of us are promised tomorrow. If you died right now will you make it to heaven? Have you asked Jesus to be your savior and repented of your sins? Have you confessed him with your heart?

***

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!

Unify in Christ & Come Out From Them – 6-15-22

“I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18 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 6 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Marks of the Ministry

We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says:

“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much [a]patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by [b]sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

Be Holy

11 O Corinthians! [c]We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what [d]fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what [e]communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you[f] are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”

17 Therefore

“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
18 “I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 6:4 endurance
  2. 2 Corinthians 6:6 Lit. unhypocritical
  3. 2 Corinthians 6:11 Lit. Our mouth is open
  4. 2 Corinthians 6:14 in common
  5. 2 Corinthians 6:14 fellowship
  6. 2 Corinthians 6:16 NU 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:

While Paul was defending his ministry we learned about the mind set of God and to be kingdom minded – to see other the way God sees them. Hopefully we pray that God will help us to see others His way and That God helps us get all the goodness of Yesterday’s reading into our hearts.

Paul really goes hard in these chapters here – packing them full of good information, spiritual truths and powerful, life changing verses, if we receive the word of the Lord and get it inside of us.

Paul founded the church at Corinth and stayed there building it for a few years. When they were stable and it was time to move on and continue he missions work, Paul left. Shortly after members of the church came to him and told him there were divisions and problems. Paul wrote a letter to correct them and encourage them and they did not receive it well and things became worse and worse. This letter was written after it all came to a head and Paul is trying to show them that he still loves them, as well as defending against the last few divisions and accusations. Yesterday was some beautiful spiritual help on reconciliation among mankind as well as between mankind and God.

And now Paul starts this chapter with pleading with them to work together with each other, with God AND with Paul (and Paul’s team) just as Paul’s team all works together. And that not working together is, well…

1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.”

It is like receiving that transformative gift of grace in vain. I can stay on this one verse all day, because how many of us had at some point received the grace – but nothing has happened since. We were changed. We read strong Biblical messages, we teach the Bible in truth, we follow all those guys who expose the globalist agendas and we know all the right things. We read, check. We pray, check. We study, check! We have all the boxes clicked. But yet, your critically ill friend died – as if your prayers had no effect. But yet, other of you can’t get growth and followers in your ministry. But yet, each of you affected, has your own blockage.
Now let us walk carefully here. Some blocks are the work of the enemy and some blocks are God pulling back, because you received grace in vain. When God pulls back – go towards him with all you have.
You will need to pray about your situation and see which it is in your life.
In my life I have asked God if it is me, am I wrong, and did I miss the mark – and the Lord gives me a message about Job. I ask for confirmation and I received a message about continuing through the storm like a wall – stay on course, from 2 different people who have never met. Now, you may have a block in the spirit because of attacks like storms. OR you may have a block because you aren’t playing well with others!

If you can’t play well with other, Paul shows us that we received our grace in vain – the vain part is because we initially changed and then became a fat spoiled baby demanding our own way. Like the Corinthians we disregard the leadership God puts over us and become divided. Until the abomination is resolved, or reconciled, and we become Kingdom minded and not denominational minded or focused only on the physical building we occupy… Until we get true unity, like Acts chapter 2… Until we can all come together – our mission and work is in flesh and not spirit. Even if we are reading and praying and seeking God and still think we are right. The folks at Corinth stubbornly thought they were right – and until that pride breaks down, their grace was in vain. (I mixed my tenses on purpose – because I see little Biblical or historical evidence that they managed to get over their pride.)

The purpose of grace is to transform us, so we become witnesses, sharing God’s grace in unity as working members of a larger global body where CHRIST is the head, not the denomination, not the local pastor and certainly not any of us reading this!

Now Pau takes an Old Testament passage and applies it here to this stage – to the disunity, pride, and failure to do anything with the grace God gave you, except become a fat baby. I know this is a hard word. The church that raised me is divided and scattered all over town. I left for 15 years or so and I come back to visit them all and see residue and evidence of this very verse – may God reveal its deeper truth to you.

Now, this has not just played out in some of our hearts and in some of our communities – But it HAS and is playing out in the Government of the United States of America. AND it is playing out all over the world. This same division is the SAME spirits, disruptions and flesh problems we saw in the church at Corinth. This call to not be vain Christian applies to us on a global stage as well! It is a prayer and call to ACTION!

The prayer is this:

“Then I said, ‘I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain; Yet surely my just reward is with the Lord, And my work with my God.’” Isaiah 49:4 NKJV

The next verse says God has heard our prayer and verse 3 gives an example of the action.

For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

This verse is a quote form Isaiah 49 which is about a servant bringing light to the gentiles and unity to all the people who God loves and even thought the gentiles believe, God is remembering Zion. The SAME chapter that the prayer for their vain work was in. (I’ll add the chapter at the bottom of this post in case you want to easily find and read it.) Between the suggested promises here and the stated promises in Isaiah 49, this is a message for ‘We the People’ right now in 2022!

In hindsight, God gave me a bunch of verses on “time” in 2019/2020 and I handed them to my best friend and said – God is saying something to me – and she assured me God would reveal it. And now here we are talking about my divided nation – the body of Christ being divided into denominations and sects – and even my own home people scattered by this same methodology of the enemy. And IT IS TIME for us to take it back. Not in our vain efforts – but by the mighty hand of God! This isn’t about something small, although it has small implications – it is a global revelation that a unified body of Christ is the ONLY way we will survive and even thrive! Some of you were reading back in 2020 when I had so many “time” downloads. The hour is late, later than we think. It is time.

So what do we do?

We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”

We keep checking off the boxes. We keep doing the things of the Lord. We keep praying and studying. BUT we also work on reaching out to others in other denominations and other churches and planning events together and soul winning campaigns together and Street fairs and we join forces with those in the Christian Patriots movement and those in the Populous movement and we say – it is ok if we do not all believe exactly the same things. Jesus is our head and that is all that matters.
We live a life without offense. We go to those we have offended or who have offended us and we seek reconciliation. And we plan a block party together to tell our testimony to our neighbors – how we have been reconciled in the Lord. (Because as we learned yesterday, to reconcile is to take two things and make it equal a third thing – and that third thing is our Lord!)

11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.”

Restricted by your own affections. As I says above – God pulls back his grace in your vanity and you feel restricted, lack of growth, fat babies. Paul takes it to the next step here. See if he said it above, man would be trying to figure out the plan and not listen, of maybe not receive the reason. Paul gives the plan first, releases a vision of a united Church fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 49, THEN the reason. Because of their pride – their own affections.

Sometimes it is better to say you were wrong and you are sorry, even if you aren’t wrong. Isn’t unity more important than who was right or wrong here on earth? Granted – some conflicts are not about anyone being wrong of right – it is about needing to separate for the Glory of God and come back together – but sometimes in that process one of them gets offended. Who then must apologize? It doesn’t matter – it is about the reconciliation.

What if that person is toxic? Well, now we have the exact situation Paul is in. Some of these divided, accusatory people in Corinth were extremely toxic to Paul.  So Paul wrote them this letter and there is no record of Paul ever visiting or writing again. Even in John’s revelation of Jesus (book of revelations) the seven churches that heaven speaks of do not include the church of Corinth.
Toxic people often push those who they love away. Sometimes God gives you what you ask for even if you do not realize you are asking for them to be gone from your life. Reconciliation is possible – but both parties buy be open and honest about it.

13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.”

Just like Paul tells these Corinthians – open up and humble yourselves. And Paul is so gentle and gingerly about it. He goes on to explain why. AND funning enough generations of people (and possibly the Corinthians feel like the next verse changes the subject and starts rattling of “to-do”s in Christianity. But friends, Paul has not deviated from his point for 5 chapters now – standing in authority, defending the work of God, and encouraging us to be unitedly heaven minded. So the next verse doesn’t change the subject.

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”

Now let us go back and discuss the format of the early church. They did not meet in building – many were secret and underground meetings as Christians were getting killed. So they worked and lived among the heathen and this is ok – we must reach people someway. And then once they are converted, bring them into the fold. SO that is NOT what Paul speaks against.
If a new believer is married to a non-believer, we just read in the last book that Paul says you can divorce, but it is better if you can find a way to stay together for the spiritual covering of the children and for the hope of the spouse and children’s salvations.  So that is NOT what he is saying.
Even though this don’t apply to marriages specifically many have applied it to young believers warning them not to marry unbelievers. Not in context, but just happens to work.
If we never interacted with unbelievers, how would we reach them? MOST of us reach people by our Christ-like living and example at work and in sporting events and the like. So that is not what he is talking about.

Remember when we studied 1 Corinthians and discussed that this was not just a pagan community with multiple temples – but this community was only out templed in number by the Ephesians. And these principalities and powers were deep roots – dating back into the earliest part of the Greek Empire and lasting in mass past the Byzantine Empire and into the early Holy Roman Empire. Even today there are people who still worship in the pagan temples of that area.
In the year 146 the city was destroyed by Rome (about 100 years after this letter was written). The city was rebuilt and in the 4th century destroyed by earthquake and rebuilt. Ironically large portions of those temples remained and still stand.
Like the temple of Apollo Epicurius, built in the 5th century on the remains of an ancient temple that was destroyed in the earthquake. It is the only Greek temple on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It is undergoing restoration, and beneath it is being dug up for archeological finds from the previous temple AND new statues and modern temple items have been made and dedicated to this temple.
The enemy ruling in that area then is still there. Because the people in the church at Corinth wanted to be cool and hip and fit in. They did the same things as the people of the world, and then made compromises in the church as well.
When Paul says not to be unequally yoked it was because the people in the church were being influenced by the world instead of the world being influenced by the church. It was a directive to anyone still trying to be hip. As a teenager – this would have applied to me: trying to dress, act and look like Cindy Lauper and listen to pop music, you couldn’t tell I was a Christian by the way I looked, dressed or acted. I was also trying to make best friends with people outside of my church – guess what, they not only dragged me down, but I also surpassed them and dragged them down. This is what Paul means.
Remember in the last letter the Law in Rome was women were to wear head coverings and men were not. And they had a few rebellious women refusing to follow the law AND they were unruly during services. They refused to follow the law, because there was a huge women’s liberation movement happening in the pagan world and the church women jumped on board. Paul explained not only that they needed to get in line with the law – but that there is also a spiritual benefit as the covering represents authority.
I do not want to rehash it all – but this was a very forward thinking modern city for its times – with very modern social issues.

Paul continues to explain what he means – first we are to be in unity with The Body of believers and not in unity with the pagan, not equally yoked.

15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”

This alone might be shocking to them, since we know from Paul’s previous letter that they ate with the pagan and sometimes eating the pagan’s sacrifices.
Are you getting the picture? There was no differences in appearance, behavior, anything.

17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”

(Cross reference is with Isaiah 52)

Now in 1st Corinthians Paul said there was no unclean thing except that which bring offense. And now he says to not touch what is unclean? Knowing there is NO contradictions in the Bible, and understanding who Paul is writing to and why – Paul just quoted an excellent verse. The Jews were not to touch anything unclean. The rest of this verse is the point! Come out from among them. Since Abraham God marked His chosen people and since Moses His people had different behaviors and laws. The lived with and near pagan, but they stood out and were different. They did things differently. They came out from among them.

As a teenager, I was friends with a family of strict fundamentalist – everyone knew by looking at their long hair and floor length dresses and long sleeves and no makeup – that they were Christians. No doubt about it. The girl my age was permitted to go to the Ball. In a long dress with sleeves of course. But she had on makeup and her hair was curled and she looked so different. All night she said she felt uncomfortable. Later in life she said that night had a profound impact on her. She knew who she was in Christ and that night she was a fraud, dirty in the makeup and sick over the ‘dirty’ dancing. She felt she betrayed Christ. So after she continued to live her life covered with long hair and no makeup.
Her sister was not permitted to go to her Ball the year before. Always felt like she missed out. Her sister became a tad more liberal and permitted herself natural looking makeup, pants, long shorts, dressed below her knew and short sleeves. I do not know if it was because she missed the Ball, but the sister certainly missed the heart felt meaning of being separate, Holy unto God.

Being unified in Christ and coming out from among the unbelievers like Paul, unlike the Corinthians is the message for today – all presented as a defense of Paul’s ministry and authority over them.

***

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!

***

Isaiah 49 NKJV
The Servant, the Light to the Gentiles

49 “Listen, O coastlands, to Me,
And take heed, you peoples from afar!
The Lord has called Me from the womb;
From the [a]matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name.
And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword;
In the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me,
And made Me a polished shaft;
In His quiver He has hidden Me.”

“And He said to me,
‘You are My servant, O Israel,
In whom I will be glorified.’
Then I said, ‘I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain;
Yet surely my [b]just reward is with the Lord,
And my [c]work with my God.’ ”

“And now the Lord says,
Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him,
So that Israel is [d]gathered to Him
(For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord,
And My God shall be My strength),
Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”

Thus says the Lord,
The Redeemer of Israel, [e]their Holy One,
To Him [f]whom man despises,
To Him whom the nation abhors,
To the Servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise,
Princes also shall worship,
Because of the Lord who is faithful,
The Holy One of Israel;
And He has chosen You.”

Thus says the Lord:

“In an acceptable[g] time I have heard You,
And in the day of salvation I have helped You;
I will [h]preserve You and give You
As a covenant to the people,
To restore the earth,
To cause them to inherit the desolate [i]heritages;
That You may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’
To those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’

“They shall feed along the roads,
And their pastures shall be on all desolate heights.
10 They shall neither hunger nor thirst,
Neither heat nor sun shall strike them;
For He who has mercy on them will lead them,
Even by the springs of water He will guide them.
11 I will make each of My mountains a road,
And My highways shall be elevated.
12 Surely these shall come from afar;
Look! Those from the north and the west,
And these from the land of Sinim.”

13 Sing, O heavens!
Be joyful, O earth!
And break out in singing, O mountains!
For the Lord has comforted His people,
And will have mercy on His afflicted.

God Will Remember Zion

14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
And my Lord has forgotten me.”

15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
[j]And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.
16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.
17 Your [k]sons shall make haste;
Your destroyers and those who laid you waste
Shall go away from you.
18 Lift up your eyes, look around and see;
All these gather together and come to you.
As I live,” says the Lord,
“You shall surely clothe yourselves with them all as an ornament,
And bind them on you as a bride does.

19 “For your waste and desolate places,
And the land of your destruction,
Will even now be too small for the inhabitants;
And those who swallowed you up will be far away.
20 The children you will have,
After you have lost the others,
Will say again in your ears,
‘The place is too small for me;
Give me a place where I may dwell.’
21 Then you will say in your heart,
‘Who has begotten these for me,
Since I have lost my children and am desolate,
A captive, and wandering to and fro?
And who has brought these up?
There I was, left alone;
But these, where were they?’ ”

22 Thus says the Lord God:

“Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations,
And set up My [l]standard for the peoples;
They shall bring your sons in their [m]arms,
And your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders;
23 Kings shall be your foster fathers,
And their queens your nursing mothers;
They shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth,
And lick up the dust of your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord,
For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.”

24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty,
Or the captives [n]of the righteous be delivered?

25 But thus says the Lord:

“Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away,
And the prey of the terrible be delivered;
For I will contend with him who contends with you,
And I will save your children.
26 I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh,
And they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine.
All flesh shall know
That I, the Lord, am your Savior,
And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 49:1 Lit. inward parts
  2. Isaiah 49:4 justice
  3. Isaiah 49:4 recompense
  4. Isaiah 49:5 Qr., DSS, LXX gathered to Him; Kt. not gathered
  5. Isaiah 49:7 Lit. his or its
  6. Isaiah 49:7 Lit. who is despised of soul
  7. Isaiah 49:8 favorable
  8. Isaiah 49:8 keep
  9. Isaiah 49:8 inheritances
  10. Isaiah 49:15 Lit. From having compassion
  11. Isaiah 49:17 DSS, LXX, Tg., Vg. builders
  12. Isaiah 49:22 banner
  13. Isaiah 49:22 Lit. bosom
  14. Isaiah 49:24 So with MT, Tg.; DSS, Syr., Vg. of the mighty; LXX unjustly

Learning to Think Like God – 6-14-22

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 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 5 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Assurance of the Resurrection

For we know that if our earthly [a]house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our [b]habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as [c]a guarantee.

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.

Be Reconciled to God

12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not [d]imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:1 Physical body
  2. 2 Corinthians 5:2 dwelling
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:5 down payment, earnest
  4. 2 Corinthians 5:19 reckoning

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 defending his ministry and encouraging others in the Lord to keep going, despite the attacks. Today Paul continues to defend his ministry and picks up right where we left off.

We are NOT destroyed! Here we are, day after day, still standing. We may be knocked around, but we are back again. Some people did not understand how profound this is when presented to you yesterday. Others walked away when going through half of what you have withstood. Still others bowed under the pressures. And sadly some were destroyed. BUT HERE YOU ARE! By grace, in His hands, you are still here and still praising Him! This is only because of the great power of God!

The world encourages by saying that their god will fix it and make it go away. Our God tells the truth – we WILL go through it, but we will stand in Him through it if WE put ALL our TRUST in HIM! Our God is very honest – hey, this might destroy you. But it will be for HIS glory and that should be exactly what you want.

1For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

Paul is not talking about a physical house, tent or other type of dwelling – he is calling our bodies a earthy house, a tent. Although I have a friend who lives south of me, but still in NY and her home was destroyed during the last hurricane that hit southern New York. God gave her this verse/passage, and I have to admit, at the time I found it really stretching the whole keeping the scriptures pure and contextual. But surrounded by all that she lost – home, clothing, belongings, memories and keepsakes – She learned through this passage that God was just pruning her and she should set her affections on things eternal – in building a heaven hope, He built her a new home, which was better. In sewing heavenly garments, He clothed her in a beautiful new wardrobe. She found herself with an excess and stared blessing others! She no longer worried about the house or clothes or any of the care of this world – they became temporary and she focused on things eternal.
Therefore, even though this passage is about our human bodies, as Paul understood the flight for his life, it CAN actually be applied to our physical houses and earthy possession.

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,”

To earnestly groan is to desire, want, hope for – like when you are fasting and are down to the last hour of the fast and you groan for food. Or when you are persistently praying for something you need in your life and need God to move so badly, you groan. We need to learn to want the Kingdom of heaven that much. We need to want what God wants for us, so much that we groan for it!

if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.”

It is the logical next step. Not for us to be suicidal or wanting to die – it is a Kingdom of Heaven desire. We run a race here on earth and THIS VERY THING is our prize, our goal line! When one runs a race, you run it to the end – you do not take a shortcut to the finish line.

Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”

There is SO MUCH goodness in today’s chapter!!! So, let us talk about doubt. I have heard: ‘we are only human – it is natural to doubt.’ Well, my friends you and I are moving past the natural, the earthly, the worldly and the fleshly! By grace we have the ability to move past doubt! Is it possible to believe without doubt?! Yes – He has given us the Spirit as a GUARANTEE!! Sometimes we trust companies’ guarantees more than we trust God’s. Shame on us. Let us repent. Lord, we believe! Please help our unbelief and move us into your strength as we are weak – and in grace banish doubt from us! In the name of Jesus!

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

Are you confident? Convinced? And able to walk in the authority that comes from the heart understanding that while here, even when we walk and talk with God, even with asking Jesus to come into our lives and EVEN being filled to overflowing with His Spirit in us, that no matter how close we get to God here on earth, even if he came and talked with us the way he talked with Moses – we are still absent of the glorious communion instore for us after our earthy life.

Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.”

We make it our aim, our goal – they things we strive for… is to obey pout of LOVE. Not out of duty or fear. But because we love God back, after he first loved us. Sometimes I go through periods were I do not feel as lovey towards God as I used to – and I pray fervently for that feeling and love back. Love is often a choice and not a feeling. But I never want to stay in a place of choice, and chance sliding into obeying because of duty. So I pray for the feeling, the fire, and the passion to come back as quick as possible and not to let that season stay. Too many of us wax cold without realizing; we need to return to our first love. And do it daily!

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Some of you have been following a while and know this – but it is NOT a lesson that is taught very often anymore from the pulpit. Even Christians, all believers, must appear for judgment.
Now we all know that EVERYONE gets judged as to if they get into heaven or not. The cartoon of a pearly gate with everyone lined up and checking a book is cute – but not biblical. There is a book with the names of those who are saved. AND the bible does say that your name can be in there and then subsequently blotted out. But this is not the judgment of where you will spend eternity. This is what is referred to as the Bema Seat, or second judgement. It is not clear in the biblical text if it is a second judgement or all at once type of thing. However it happens, we are all going to be held accountable for everything we do and ever word we speak. Entrance into heaven is a gift for believing. But if you and I really believe this stuff – we will love, obey and bear fruit. So it is logical and right that the measure of our belief is judged by our words and actions. We cannot words and actions our way into heaven. God is all knowing… it is the heart and motivation of those words and actions that will be judged.
AND although God is ALL-KNOWING – there is a difference between all-knowing and knowing us individually, in a relationship, intimately.
So it all boils down to if we have a relationship with Him. Do we know Him well enough that we love and obey and do His will (or at least try to as we are learning)? And does He know us back in a personal way.

11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.”

I want to be known by God. I want Him to look at me and say – THERE YOU ARE MY GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT, ENTER INTO MY JOY. With His gloriously booming voice that I image He must have in glory. But if this is all true and we really believe this, we then learn and know all aspects of God and have an understanding of the terror of the Lord. Not fear like the enemy inflicts, but a reverence because we know ALL that is possible with Him, in Him and through Him. And we know hell is real and not made for mankind and all this understanding compels us to have a heart for the lost to try to reach them.

Ok – so now I am going to change versions of the Bible for this last section. From here out is the Berean Study Bible Version. As a disclaimer, I have to tell you that I DO NOT know much about this version’s history or associations and I am not condoning or condemning the Bereans. What I do know is – this version is a new translations that took the best of the available manuscripts and sources and translated from Greek and Hebrew into modern English. Otherwise, the King James Version is the only other version that is thought to have been translated directly from the manuscripts into King James English. The rest of the version were translations from the King James. (As far as I know, based on information was taught years ago and a quick internet search did not disagree.)
Who are Bereans? Well, in Acts 17, after Paul fled Thessalonica – he and Silas landed in Berea.
“…they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” Acts 17:11 NIV (Not sure how I ended up in that version but you get what I am saying.)
So these were scholars and believers. A great combination!
Modern Bereans can be “Berean Baptists” or the non-denominational church called the ‘Berean Bible Church’.
And now you know as much as I know about the history and association. But I also know that when I look things up in Strong’s, the word choice in the Berean Study Bible is usually the word in our modern language that best fits the definition of the Greek word, in my opinion. Therefore in my opinion it is both accurate and worded in a way that is more common today.
Why did I change this portion of today’s discussion to this version?
Because when Paul start with the rhetorical questions and use of mathematical logic to make us think – well, that is a very 1st century Greek methodology of discussing philosophy and not a method you and I are overly familiar with – add to that complicated literary devise, the fact that the New King James Version is not our modern way of understanding language – Paul gets confusing! Even with all of my Bible studying, it is easy for my eyes to glaze over during these sections and after a few verses I realize, I tuned myself out because I wasn’t following.

Now back to our discussion:

11Therefore, since we know what it means to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is clear to God, and I hope it is clear to your conscience as well. 12We are not commending ourselves to you again. Instead, we are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you can answer those who take pride in appearances rather than in the heart.

As you recall, hopefully, from our other discussions, one of the issues in this church was that they were comparing Paul to other teachers who were NOT preaching from the heart – false teachers who were peddling the gospel for money.

13If we are out of our mind, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.”

Another reason I love this version! ‘If I am out of my mind!’ Serving God is often like being out of our minds! I am here working 15 hours a day learning and working on the business God gave me – struggling financially (temporarily) and living on faith and everyone around me thinks I am out of my mind – and for God, I am! Lol (I am doing this, because this is what God said to do, and until He says otherwise, this is what I do.) Now, for them who ask me and for you – I present myself with sound mind, back logically with Scriptures. As for with God – I sometimes cry and babble incoherently, but he knows and with you a select words in English carefully to express what is happening in my head.
Here is a better example of being out of your mind for God and in it for people: for the last three years there have been very specific images / symbols that God keeps throwing at me; let’s use “The Table”. Be it the table of the wedding supper of the Lamb, or the table in the midst of thy enemies, or any time a table is mentioned in scriptures or randomly in a church service. Most times, unless it comes from someone who knows that about me, God has something for me in or around that word. I hear it and I listen more carefully to see what God might be saying.
So one day I had a dream with the table in it and food and a garden and well, a whole dream worth of things. Then I went to a church discussion / zoom meeting, where it was an open discussion about God, led by the pastor. Well, one lady speaks about a garden, another person speaks of the table, another speaks about a feast and none of it tied together except I was seeing it tied together, and I started crying! Then another spoke of Jesus being the groom – and I clicked the button to speak next. I thought I should share my dream and tie all these seemingly random things together! I get called on next to speak – but I cannot stop crying. I am just repeating the images and ideas and parts of my dream and NOT A WORD of what I said made any since. I was never invited back. Lol! For God, I am out of my mind! It all made so much sense to me and God! I should have composed myself more and prayed for a sound mind, so I could have spoken clearly. But maybe God was just speaking to me about it all.

14For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, therefore all died. 15And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.

It is Christ’s love in us, through us, helping us, and causing us to love God, that compels us! And then the rest of this is a version of the gospel message – Christ died so we could live for Him.  But Paul never says what it is he is compelled to do. So stepping back and looking at the whole passage we can see Paul is still defending his ministry. Therefore he is compelled to preach the gospel, win the lost, build churches, edify and teach those churches. As often as I say: ‘Get humble and repent, the kingdom of God is at hand.’ I also find myself saying that we are ALL called to share Christ. You do not have to be a pastor, evangelist, missionary, etc. Everyone who has met Jesus should be compelled to share Him. Maybe you just need the filling of the Power and Boldness of the Holy Spirit, in order to be compelled – but in love we are all called to be witnesses.

16So from now on we regard no one according to the flesh. Although we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.”

We are at a disadvantage here. They all knew someone who witnessed Jesus in flesh or maybe they themselves were witnesses. Then they had to change the way they looked at things when Jesus ascended into heaven. Paul was using that change of mindset as an example of our need to change the way we regard people. I do not know what types of mindset changes you have gone through in your lives to give another good example of a shift in mindset. So to the best of our ability, we must know we cannot look at people as just flesh any longer. They are souls. They are either part of our own body or they are lost and we should grieve and be compelled to save them.
An easier way is to know we cannot look at a murder as a murder, it is a lost soul, which God made and loves. We can no longer look at a child trafficker as a trafficker, a cheater as a cheater, a person in a porno as an object, a manipulator as a manipulator or a sinner as a sinner. They are souls that God made and loves. We cannot look at Joe Biden as a dementia ridden puppet for the global machine – he is a soul God man and loves.
MOREOVER – DO NOT look at me as the sinner, addict, fornicator, victim of abuse, etc. I am not only a soul God made and loved – But I am also a child of God.

17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!

“In Christ” being the operative words. Some are saved by grace and instantly transformed. I was saved and struggled for years and slipped away and came back and slipped and yo-yo’d for years until one day grace rocked my world and I was changed. Was I ‘not really saved’ before? NO. I was with all confidence and filled with the Holy Ghost assuredly saved before. Witnessing and preaching.
We become a new creation when we were one way and now we are another and the thing that happened was Jesus! And sometimes we accept Jesus, but not the change. So God works on us for as long as it takes until we accept the change and we really enter in to Him. You see, first we ask Him into us – but it isn’t until we reciprocate that we are truly IN HIM and transformed! Touched by grace!

I am a child of God, nothing else matter. All Jesus sees are my fruits and potential to produce more. All God sees is me, the way He created me. I am no longer a sinner – I am transformed into a servant of God, because I am compelled by my love for Him.

18All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s trespasses against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

Since the fall of mankind in the garden, God has put 100% of his efforts into restoring His relationship with humans. God loves us and works tirelessly to turn our hearts to Him. To get us to humble ourselves and get rid of the flesh (which gets us in trouble) and to have us repent from being influenced and persuaded by the enemy. Restoring our relationship means to reconcile the sins of our flesh – to have them washed by the Blood of the Lamb – the only thing that can wash away sin.

Our God is a God of reconciliation.

This must be a deep concept to the Corinthians, being that they had divisions among them. Relationships cannot be restored, usually – but the parties can come to some sort of reconciliation if they just see each other the way God sees us and we don’t count their trespasses against them.
“not imputing their trespasses to them” < – in NKJV
Not crediting, attributing, assigning, complaining, calculating, including, counting, acknowledging, imputing, etc. Those are both the alternative meanings in Greek as well as English synonyms.
In light of those words, let us think about the different modern Christian council and offense / dispute settlement. First and foremost we must forgive. Ok, I did that. I may have done it more for my sake than for theirs, but I forgave and gave it to God and then went through the whole process of letting go and really forgiving and trying to heal. If you forgive and forget, like God does for us, then we are prone to falling victim of the offense (or in some cases abuse) again. So often Christian counselors say, forgive, but do not forget. Maybe there is a third option?! We forgive and we no longer assign an offense to them (as if they didn’t – JUST LIKE GOD SEES THEM), but we remember reconciliation is NOT exactly restoration. It is easier to forgive someone and still keep the offense assigned to them. But the wounds do not heal that way – and that is NOT how God works. We must forgive and remove the assignment – it is a foothold for the enemy to come in and snare you or me.

I know this is a step deeper than most take this – because it is HARDER word than just forgiving. How do you know this person has a history of hurting or offending you, and remove it at the same time? Reconciliation.
Now I could write for days on this matter and I am trying to keep it brief – today is so good! Praise the Lord! The word “Reconciliation” is a mathematical word also used in finance. In math it means to solve two equation to a reconciled third point, either a solution or to another equation. But that kind of math is advanced. In finance you take two categories and reconcile them to a third – your credits in your ledger and your debits in your ledger. To reconcile them is to get them to add (or subtract) up correctly and match your bank account. Now a days most people do not keep a ledger, instead do online banking and reconcile what they think they spent to their accounts instantly with a bank app – but business do keep a ledger, either in a computer program or possibly still handwritten in a book, and those need to be reconciled. So reconciliation with people is to take the offence as a credit and debit – so it is canceled out it is there but it is no longer counted, then take the forgiveness – and we reconcile it to the bank statement (aka God’s way of seeing things) and we no longer have any negative and a surplus of positive and our spiritual bank has somehow grown. We cannot restore, because we cannot remove a transaction – we needed to go through the process – which leaves us with more. God couldn’t restore us – or Jesus would not have died and rose. That was done to add a positive credit over our equal negative credit in order to have it no longer count against us. We had a debt, and it was paid. Our spiritual account was NOT just balanced and reconciled – we received forgiveness and walked away with a multiple of a blessing! Did you follow that?

20Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ: Be reconciled to God.”

Paul is writing to a bunch of believers. We sometimes forget that when reading things like “we implore you [to]… be reconciled to God.” I agree it sounds like a community outreach alter call / call to action. Not something to say to a bunch of people who are such GREAT Christians that they are not only better than each other – but feel high enough to criticize The Man of God. Yes, that is some sarcasm – but honestly – these are believers, shouldn’t they already be reconciled to God? And if they need to be (and we aren’t clear on all their offenses to Paul, let alone to each other and God), how does this then apply to us? I would not have ended the chapter where it was ended! Because we will learn more tomorrow about this need to reconcile. Until then, and as a brief answer – we need to become really good repenters. We need to learn to repent and each day turn away from more and more, as God leads you. Not into legalism but into freedom.

21God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Flash back to our first few discussions of the book of Romans – becoming the righteousness of God and that list of things to repent of and then the “die to self’ exercises. Remember Paul wrote to the Romans while IN Corinth, they are already familiar with Paul’s teachings on repentance and death to self. So when Paul cross references his own letter to Rome, here, they would have caught the reference and known what he was talking about.

Well – today was a lot to think about. As Paul defends his ministry – we learn to be more Christ-like and even to understand and think more like God! We are not just to be kingdom minded – heavenly minded – pressing towards that goal. But we are also to be God minded and learn to think like He thinks – which means getting to know Him better in the word, in prayer, and prayerfully thinking and pondering the word anticipating revelation.

***

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!

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

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

RELATIONSHIP:

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

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

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

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

BIBLE READING:

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

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

The Light of Christ’s Gospel

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

Cast Down but Unconquered

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

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

Seeing the Invisible

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

Footnotes

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

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

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

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

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

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

What a great way to start the week – refocused!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

WEEKEND READING – 6-12-22

How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, And the swallow a nest for herself, Where she may lay her young— Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; They will still be praising You. Selah” Psalm 84:1-4 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 83-87 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).  

Prayer to Frustrate Conspiracy Against Israel

A Song. A Psalm of Asaph.

83 Do not keep silent, O God!
Do not hold Your peace,
And do not be still, O God!
For behold, Your enemies make a [a]tumult;
And those who hate You have [b]lifted up their head.
They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.
They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”

For they have consulted together with one [c]consent;
They [d]form a confederacy against You:
The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites;
Moab and the Hagrites;
Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek;
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
Assyria also has joined with them;
They have helped the children of Lot. Selah

Deal with them as with Midian,
As with Sisera,
As with Jabin at the Brook Kishon,
10 Who perished at En Dor,
Who became as refuse on the earth.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and like Zeeb,
Yes, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12 Who said, “Let us take for ourselves
The pastures of God for a possession.”

13 O my God, make them like the whirling dust,
Like the chaff before the wind!
14 As the fire burns the woods,
And as the flame sets the mountains on fire,
15 So pursue them with Your tempest,
And frighten them with Your storm.
16 Fill their faces with shame,
That they may seek Your name, O Lord.
17 Let them be [e]confounded and dismayed forever;
Yes, let them be put to shame and perish,
18 That they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord,
Are the Most High over all the earth.

The Blessedness of Dwelling in the House of God

To the Chief Musician. On[f] an instrument of Gath. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

84 How lovely [g]is Your tabernacle,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of [h]Baca,
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with [i]pools.
They go from strength to strength;
[j]Each one appears before God in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
O God, behold our shield,
And look upon the face of Your [k]anointed.

10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather [l]be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

12 O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!

Prayer that the Lord Will Restore Favor to the Land

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

85 Lord, You have been favorable to Your land;
You have brought back the captivity of Jacob.
You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people;
You have covered all their sin. Selah
You have taken away all Your wrath;
You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger.

Restore us, O God of our salvation,
And cause Your anger toward us to cease.
Will You be angry with us forever?
Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?
Will You not revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?
Show us Your mercy, Lord,
And grant us Your salvation.

I will hear what God the Lord will speak,
For He will speak peace
To His people and to His saints;
But let them not turn back to [m]folly.
Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.

10 Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed.
11 Truth shall spring out of the earth,
And righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12 Yes, the Lord will give what is good;
And our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before Him,
And shall make His footsteps our pathway.

Prayer for Mercy, with Meditation on the Excellencies of the Lord

A Prayer of David.

86 Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me;
For I am poor and needy.
Preserve my [n]life, for I am holy;
You are my God;
Save Your servant who trusts in You!
Be merciful to me, O Lord,
For I cry to You all day long.
[o]Rejoice the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
And attend to the voice of my supplications.
In the day of my trouble I will call upon You,
For You will answer me.

Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord;
Nor are there any works like Your works.
All nations whom You have made
Shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And shall glorify Your name.
10 For You are great, and do wondrous things;
You alone are God.

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
[p]Unite my heart to fear Your name.
12 I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.
13 For great is Your mercy toward me,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of [q]Sheol.

14 O God, the proud have risen against me,
And a mob of violent men have sought my life,
And have not set You before them.
15 But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.

16 Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me!
Give Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

The Glories of the City of God

A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A Song.

87 His foundation is in the holy mountains.
The Lord loves the gates of Zion
More than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of God! Selah

“I will make mention of [r]Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me;
Behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia:
‘This one was born there.’ ”

And of Zion it will be said,
“This one and that one were born in her;
And the Most High Himself shall establish her.”
The Lord will record,
When He registers the peoples:
“This one was born there.” Selah

Both the singers and the players on instruments say,
“All my springs are in you.”

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 83:2 uproar
  2. Psalm 83:2 Exalted themselves
  3. Psalm 83:5 Lit. heart
  4. Psalm 83:5 Lit. cut a covenant
  5. Psalm 83:17 ashamed
  6. Psalm 84:1 Heb. Al Gittith
  7. Psalm 84:1 are Your dwellings
  8. Psalm 84:6 Lit. Weeping
  9. Psalm 84:6 Or blessings
  10. Psalm 84:7 LXX, Syr., Vg. The God of gods shall be seen
  11. Psalm 84:9 Commissioned one, Heb. messiah
  12. Psalm 84:10 stand at the threshold
  13. Psalm 85:8 foolishness
  14. Psalm 86:2 Lit. soul
  15. Psalm 86:4 Make glad
  16. Psalm 86:11 Give me singleness of heart
  17. Psalm 86:13 The abode of the dead
  18. Psalm 87:4 Egypt

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 – 6-11-22

Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us! Let Your tender mercies come speedily to meet us, For we have been brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, For the glory of Your name; And deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins, For Your name’s sake! Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Let there be known among the nations in our sight The avenging of the blood of Your servants which has been shed.” Psalm 79:8-10 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 78-82 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).  

God’s Kindness to Rebellious Israel

A Contemplation[a] of Asaph.

78 Give ear, O my people, to my law;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter [b]dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

For He established a testimony in Jacob,
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers,
That they should make them known to their children;
That the generation to come might know them,
The children who would be born,
That they may arise and declare them to their children,
That they may set their hope in God,
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments;
And may not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not [c]set its heart aright,
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

The children of Ephraim, being armed and [d]carrying bows,
Turned back in the day of battle.
10 They did not keep the covenant of God;
They refused to walk in His law,
11 And forgot His works
And His wonders that He had shown them.

12 Marvelous things He did in the sight of their fathers,
In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea and caused them to pass through;
And He made the waters stand up like a heap.
14 In the daytime also He led them with the cloud,
And all the night with a light of fire.
15 He split the rocks in the wilderness,
And gave them drink in abundance like the depths.
16 He also brought streams out of the rock,
And caused waters to run down like rivers.

17 But they sinned even more against Him
By rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness.
18 And they tested God in their heart
By asking for the food of their fancy.
19 Yes, they spoke against God:
They said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
20 Behold, He struck the rock,
So that the waters gushed out,
And the streams overflowed.
Can He give bread also?
Can He provide meat for His people?”

21 Therefore the Lord heard this and was furious;
So a fire was kindled against Jacob,
And anger also came up against Israel,
22 Because they did not believe in God,
And did not trust in His salvation.
23 Yet He had commanded the clouds above,
And opened the doors of heaven,
24 Had rained down manna on them to eat,
And given them of the [e]bread of heaven.
25 Men ate angels’ food;
He sent them food to [f]the full.

26 He caused an east wind to blow in the heavens;
And by His power He brought in the south wind.
27 He also rained meat on them like the dust,
Feathered fowl like the sand of the seas;
28 And He let them fall in the midst of their camp,
All around their dwellings.
29 So they ate and were well filled,
For He gave them their own desire.
30 They were not [g]deprived of their craving;
But while their food was still in their mouths,
31 The wrath of God came against them,
And slew the stoutest of them,
And struck down the choice men of Israel.

32 In spite of this they still sinned,
And did not believe in His wondrous works.
33 Therefore their days He consumed in futility,
And their years in fear.

34 When He slew them, then they sought Him;
And they returned and sought earnestly for God.
35 Then they remembered that God was their rock,
And the Most High God their Redeemer.
36 Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouth,
And they lied to Him with their tongue;
37 For their heart was not steadfast with Him,
Nor were they faithful in His covenant.
38 But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity,
And did not destroy them.
Yes, many a time He turned His anger away,
And did not stir up all His wrath;
39 For He remembered that they were but flesh,
A breath that passes away and does not come again.

40 How often they provoked[h] Him in the wilderness,
And grieved Him in the desert!
41 Yes, again and again they tempted God,
And limited the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember His [i]power:
The day when He redeemed them from the enemy,
43 When He worked His signs in Egypt,
And His wonders in the field of Zoan;
44 Turned their rivers into blood,
And their streams, that they could not drink.
45 He sent swarms of flies among them, which devoured them,
And frogs, which destroyed them.
46 He also gave their crops to the caterpillar,
And their labor to the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail,
And their sycamore trees with frost.
48 He also gave up their cattle to the hail,
And their flocks to fiery [j]lightning.
49 He cast on them the fierceness of His anger,
Wrath, indignation, and trouble,
By sending angels of destruction among them.
50 He made a path for His anger;
He did not spare their soul from death,
But gave [k]their life over to the plague,
51 And destroyed all the firstborn in Egypt,
The first of their strength in the tents of Ham.
52 But He made His own people go forth like sheep,
And guided them in the wilderness like a flock;
53 And He led them on safely, so that they did not fear;
But the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
54 And He brought them to His holy border,
This mountain which His right hand had acquired.
55 He also drove out the nations before them,
Allotted them an inheritance by [l]survey,
And made the tribes of Israel dwell in their tents.

56 Yet they tested and provoked the Most High God,
And did not keep His testimonies,
57 But turned back and acted unfaithfully like their fathers;
They were turned aside like a deceitful bow.
58 For they provoked Him to anger with their high places,
And moved Him to jealousy with their carved images.
59 When God heard this, He was furious,
And greatly abhorred Israel,
60 So that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh,
The tent He had placed among men,
61 And delivered His strength into captivity,
And His glory into the enemy’s hand.
62 He also gave His people over to the sword,
And was furious with His inheritance.
63 The fire consumed their young men,
And their maidens were not given in marriage.
64 Their priests fell by the sword,
And their widows made no lamentation.

65 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
Like a mighty man who shouts because of wine.
66 And He beat back His enemies;
He put them to a perpetual reproach.

67 Moreover He rejected the tent of Joseph,
And did not choose the tribe of Ephraim,
68 But chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion which He loved.
69 And He built His sanctuary like the heights,
Like the earth which He has established forever.
70 He also chose David His servant,
And took him from the sheepfolds;
71 From following the ewes that had young He brought him,
To shepherd Jacob His people,
And Israel His inheritance.
72 So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.

A Dirge and a Prayer for Israel, Destroyed by Enemies

A Psalm of Asaph.

79 O God, the [m]nations have come into Your inheritance;
Your holy temple they have defiled;
They have laid Jerusalem [n]in heaps.
The dead bodies of Your servants
They have given as food for the birds of the heavens,
The flesh of Your saints to the beasts of the earth.
Their blood they have shed like water all around Jerusalem,
And there was no one to bury them.
We have become a reproach to our neighbors,
A scorn and derision to those who are around us.

How long, Lord?
Will You be angry forever?
Will Your jealousy burn like fire?
Pour out Your wrath on the [o]nations that do not know You,
And on the kingdoms that do not call on Your name.
For they have devoured Jacob,
And laid waste his dwelling place.

Oh, do not remember [p]former iniquities against us!
Let Your tender mercies come speedily to meet us,
For we have been brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
For the glory of Your name;
And deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins,
For Your name’s sake!
10 Why should the [q]nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Let there be known among the nations in our sight
The avenging of the blood of Your servants which has been shed.

11 Let the groaning of the prisoner come before You;
According to the greatness of Your [r]power
Preserve those who are appointed to die;
12 And return to our neighbors sevenfold into their bosom
Their reproach with which they have reproached You, O Lord.

13 So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture,
Will give You thanks forever;
We will show forth Your praise to all generations.

Prayer for Israel’s Restoration

To the Chief Musician. Set to [s]“The Lilies.” A [t]Testimony of Asaph. A Psalm.

80 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
You who lead Joseph like a flock;
You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth!
Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
Stir up Your strength,
And come and save us!

Restore us, O God;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved!

O Lord God of hosts,
How long will You be angry
Against the prayer of Your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
And given them tears to drink in great measure.
You have made us a strife to our neighbors,
And our enemies laugh among themselves.

Restore us, O God of hosts;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved!

You have brought a vine out of Egypt;
You have cast out the [u]nations, and planted it.
You prepared room for it,
And caused it to take deep root,
And it filled the land.
10 The hills were covered with its shadow,
And the [v]mighty cedars with its boughs.
11 She sent out her boughs to [w]the Sea,
And her branches to [x]the River.

12 Why have You broken down her [y]hedges,
So that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit?
13 The boar out of the woods uproots it,
And the wild beast of the field devours it.

14 Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts;
Look down from heaven and see,
And visit this vine
15 And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted,
And the branch that You made strong for Yourself.
16 It is burned with fire, it is cut down;
They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.
17 Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand,
Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.
18 Then we will not turn back from You;
Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.

19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved!

An Appeal for Israel’s Repentance

To the Chief Musician. On[z] an instrument of Gath. A Psalm of Asaph.

81 Sing aloud to God our strength;
Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.
Raise a song and strike the timbrel,
The pleasant harp with the lute.

Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon,
At the full moon, on our solemn feast day.
For this is a statute for Israel,
A law of the God of Jacob.
This He established in Joseph as a testimony,
When He went throughout the land of Egypt,
Where I heard a language I did not understand.

“I removed his shoulder from the burden;
His hands were freed from the baskets.
You called in trouble, and I delivered you;
I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
I tested you at the waters of [aa]Meribah. Selah

“Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you!
O Israel, if you will listen to Me!
There shall be no foreign god among you;
Nor shall you worship any foreign god.
10 am the Lord your God,
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

11 “But My people would not heed My voice,
And Israel would have none of Me.
12 So I gave them over to [ab]their own stubborn heart,
To walk in their own counsels.

13 “Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!
14 I would soon subdue their enemies,
And turn My hand against their adversaries.
15 The haters of the Lord would pretend submission to Him,
But their [ac]fate would endure forever.
16 He would have fed them also with [ad]the finest of wheat;
And with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you.”

A Plea for Justice

A Psalm of Asaph.

82 God stands in the congregation of [ae]the mighty;
He judges among the [af]gods.
How long will you judge unjustly,
And show partiality to the wicked? Selah
[ag]Defend the poor and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy;
Free them from the hand of the wicked.

They do not know, nor do they understand;
They walk about in darkness;
All the foundations of the earth are [ah]unstable.

I said, “You are [ai]gods,
And all of you are children of the Most High.
But you shall die like men,
And fall like one of the princes.”

Arise, O God, judge the earth;
For You shall inherit all nations.

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 78:1 Heb. Maschil
  2. Psalm 78:2 obscure sayings or riddles
  3. Psalm 78:8 Lit. prepare its heart
  4. Psalm 78:9 Lit. bow shooters
  5. Psalm 78:24 Lit. grain
  6. Psalm 78:25 satiation
  7. Psalm 78:30 Lit. separated
  8. Psalm 78:40 rebelled against Him
  9. Psalm 78:42 Lit. hand
  10. Psalm 78:48 lightning bolts
  11. Psalm 78:50 Or their beasts
  12. Psalm 78:55 surveyed measurement, lit. measuring cord
  13. Psalm 79:1 Gentiles
  14. Psalm 79:1 in ruins
  15. Psalm 79:6 Gentiles
  16. Psalm 79:8 Or against us the iniquities of those who were before us
  17. Psalm 79:10 Gentiles
  18. Psalm 79:11 Lit. arm
  19. Psalm 80:1 Heb. Shoshannim
  20. Psalm 80:1 Heb. Eduth
  21. Psalm 80:8 Gentiles
  22. Psalm 80:10 Lit. cedars of God
  23. Psalm 80:11 The Mediterranean
  24. Psalm 80:11 The Euphrates
  25. Psalm 80:12 walls or fences
  26. Psalm 81:1 Heb. Al Gittith
  27. Psalm 81:7 Lit. Strife or Contention
  28. Psalm 81:12 the dictates of their heart
  29. Psalm 81:15 Lit. time
  30. Psalm 81:16 Lit. fat of wheat
  31. Psalm 82:1 Heb. El, lit. God
  32. Psalm 82:1 Judges; Heb. elohim, lit. mighty ones or gods
  33. Psalm 82:3 Vindicate
  34. Psalm 82:5 moved
  35. Psalm 82:6 Judges; Heb. elohim, lit. mighty ones or gods

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!

You Have Sufficient Credentials – 6-10-22

…to do the work you are called to while He works in you.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  2 Corinthians 3:17-18 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 3 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Christ’s Epistle

Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

The Spirit, Not the Letter

And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the [a]Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Glory of the New Covenant

But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.

12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as [b]by the Spirit of the Lord.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 3:6 Or spirit
  2. 2 Corinthians 3:18 Or from the Lord, the Spirit

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:

As Paul continues to speak to each of the issues the Corinthians have, we started to see one of the issues was Paul’s appointment (job as a missionary, church founder, evangelist, pastor and apostle). Other traveling preachers, peddling their version of the gospel (as Paul described them as peddlers in yesterday’s reading) would come with their credentials or letters of commendations to give them accreditation.
Whenever you step back away from a lie of the devil, you see how ridiculous it is. But these poor people of Corinth fell into the trap of the lie completely. Being 2000 years removed from the lie, it is easy for you and me to see how ridiculous it is.
You see Paul founded the church and stayed and built it up. They did not ask for credentials then. The reason they even know about Christ is because of Paul. Therefore the fact that they believe and have grown ARE Paul’s credentials. Instead of questioning him, they could be writing these commendation letters for him.
But let us look into the spirit. The spirits of better-than-you, pride and division snuck in the second Paul left them the first time and Paul spoke against it and no doubt was praying daily against it in the church. SO, guess who was fighting back – spirits of better-than-you, pride and division. Humans, yes people, were getting hurt and used by the enemy while the enemy attacked the church and Paul.
And here we see Paul fighting back again, with truth. With the authority in Spirit. And still trying desperately to reach the people and give them Biblical wisdom.

Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you?”

Paul’s works where knows throughout the Roman Empire. Paul could have easily asked another church for a letter of commendation. This is not about the letters. It is about the fact that these people ARE the witness of what Paul does. Sadly, this church is like his child. He dropped a seed to plant a lot of churches – but this is the one he stayed at and watered and grew.

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”

Isn’t it always a matter to the heart? Where are our hearts today?
Anyone following the news? Did you see California? It grieves me. Have you see our energy crisis? In Florida, my son’s uncle lives there and the gas pumps top off at $100. They cannot buy more than $100 from any given gas station. He said he has to drive around to a couple gas stations to fill the tank of the big work truck. How long until they deny your payment cards, because you already bought from another station? So they are already rationing gas. I went to buy my dog food – and the selves were empty, her kind of food as well as many others were gone. I am thankful that she likes this new kind, but it is more expensive than the last kind. This is reaching every aspect of our lives. I have a very dear friend 30 miles away and my son lives 30 miles in the other direction and it is already difficult to get to them. We are being isolated again. The enemy is oppressing.
What is my point? NOW more than ever before in our lives, we MUST check our hearts. Do our hearts reflect our savior or a lie from the enemy? Do our hearts glorify God’s work in our communities or are we at odds with our brethren? Check our hearts! Mind our hearts. Be the witness of what the Lord did IN us, but also what the Lord did through every seed sower, every water bearer who watered, everyone who turned us and pointed us to the sun. Yes, be a witness of the path the Spirit took and all that was built and done in the spirit to get us here. Remember our flesh is not the reality – but the spirit, where God is, is the reality – be kingdom minded.

And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,”

I have heard it a billion times God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called. In and of ourselves, in flesh we are NOT even worthy of any calling, to handle this message, or to even be loved – However God comes in and loves us anyway and fills us up with everything we need for the life we live, the work we have before us, and He is our sufficiency.

who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Now He is not saying degrees, diplomas, letters or recommendation, letters of commendation, and any other written credentials are going to pick up a sword and kill us. BUT what he is saying is that is NOT how the Spirit works. Spirit is life – it is eternal, lasts forever. And paper will pass away.
It is kind of like… and Paul teaches from an Old Testament lesson – because how can we understand the new and the spirit if we haven’t yet learned from the old.

But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away,”

So Moses spent time with Jesus. Moses’s face shined when we left the presence of the Lord – did you know that?

how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?”

So now, that the Old Testament has been fulfilled by Christ and the Holy Spirit can dwell INSIDE of us and not just rest upon us – shouldn’t we glow all the more when we spend time with Him?
I know when I meet someone who lives in the Spirit, who has spent time with Jesus. I can also tell if it is fresh or faded. Because the Spirit in me bears witness. I don’t know if I would describe it as glowing. But it is beautiful.
So yes, others know if you spent time in His presence. It is something we do in private and think no one knows; but others do know.

For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.”

Paul has already told us a million times that the Law condemned us – so what he is saying is that Moses’s laws had glory. Which is true – they were given by God and people knew because Moses was still glowing from being in His presence.
Now we are in the ministry or time of righteousness, imputed to us by our faith. And when God gives us righteousness he can come with all his glowing glory and swell inside us.

10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.”

More glorious. Sadly, my Spirit does not witness many in more glory. My Spirit witnesses few who spend quality time basking and glowing in glory. If we believe this – then believe it and spend the time on your relationship that you should.

12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.”

I get fixated on small things sometimes. And as a teen I got hung up on this and my youth pastor was so exasperated with me and did not give me a resolve. How can a veil be unlifted and taken away by Jesus? How does it remain today and since Jesus’s work on the cross is finished, the veil is also lifted? That poor man. I was taking this metaphor the wrong way.
In my mind I took ONE Old Testament and placed a veil over it. And then, Jesus completed the work of the cross and the veil is lifted, so there is no veil there and then I could not understand why it was still there. It is because the veil is between each of our eyes individually and the Old Testament. It might have been clearer if he said the veil is over each of our eyes. But it can’t be, because it is only the scriptures that are veiled from our sight.
So finding a better way to explain it …

15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.”

As a teen, how can the veil be over a book and over my heart? I remember the day when the veil of this mystery was lifted and the truth revealed to me. I literally look up at God and roll my eyes for making me part of His object lesson.

16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”

Let me suggest that like this verse was still clouded to me as a believing teen. We all still have layers of veils over the Bible. Some verses do not mean what we think they mean and some have multiple meanings and each time we learn a deeper truth. These things are revealed to us as we grow and work on our relationship with God and study the word. BUT there is definitely a huge breakthrough once you turn to Jesus.
Literally, I have seen people who could not make sense of the Bible, turn to Jesus and get hungry and couldn’t read enough of it as every time something new came to light. I have also met professing Christians (with little fruit) unable to understand the Bible – what we have here is someone who professes they believe but doesn’t – they have not turned to the Lord. Best thing to do with them is keep giving them the salvation message, over and over, and hope (and pray) one day they turn.

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Now, Paul is free from this nonsense the Corinthians are trying to put on him. But just because he is free, doesn’t mean he is insensitive to the fact that they are not free. Which is why he is writing this out. Remember, Paul is hoping to show his love to these people and be restored. So when we are in a conflict with others, although we are free from their nonsense, we must also remain sensitive to the fact that they are not. That does not mean you need to go to them, Paul didn’t. And you don’t need to subject yourself or come under some bondage of obligation to them. Paul did not. Distancing yourself from someone harmful – speaking lies is not wrong and as a matter of fact it is Biblical to flee from them.
Restoration will not look like it did before the breech, and it will take time. They too must find that they are free in Him.

18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

And once we are free we must ALSO be transformed into the same image from glory to glory.

You see, we will all get back on the same page as we grow in the Lord. We cannot sit stagnant waiting for it. We must move forward and grow – with or without them we must keep our eyes on Jesus. It doesn’t seem very Christian – but let God do the work in them that He has to do. And humble yourself to the work He wants to do in you.

Well, that is the week – it went by so fast. Join us this weekend for more wisdom reading and we’ll come back to a line by line discussion of 2nd Corinthians on Monday. Be blessed.

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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!

Doing God’s Work in a Storm of Emotions – 6-9-22

“For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:17 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 2 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Greeting

Paul Urges Forgiveness

But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?

Forgive the Offender

And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all. For out of much [a]affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.

But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For [b]if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Triumph in Christ

12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a [c]door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.

14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us [d]diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as [e]so many, peddling[f] the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 2:4 tribulation
  2. 2 Corinthians 2:10 NU indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes
  3. 2 Corinthians 2:12 Opportunity
  4. 2 Corinthians 2:14 manifests
  5. 2 Corinthians 2:17 M the rest
  6. 2 Corinthians 2:17 adulterating for gain

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:

When western men and women are hurt, we do not speak as eloquently as Paul. Actually we pretty much say we are mad and that is it. Women, more than men, in general try to express why they are mad – but really they are more wounded than mad.
God is a relational God – Paul is a relational man – and we are also made relational. But it is awkward and uncomfortable listing to people who hurt spout off, and here they aren’t really saying what they feel and placing blame instead of expressing feeling.  Especially those who live in that ‘woke’ lifestyle. They hold their own proverbial gun to their own head while ‘feeling’ like a victim and blaming someone who isn’t even in the room. And if that is discussing feelings most people are going to pass.

I am sad for Paul that he had to feel hurt and betrayed by the church HE founded. I have gone through the feelings of hurt and betrayal. It is not fun. (But like a good American, I am not here to talk about that.) But what I do want to discuss is how we find feeling and emotions expressed in a healthy way – grieved IN GOD, who heals Paul slowly throughout the process.
At the same point it would seem there is another they have hurt and Paul speaks on behalf of that other. Some say Paul is speaking of himself in 3rd person, others say there is another – and with all the speculation around this book I believe there was forgiveness and restoration and God spared all involved from an eternal written reminder of this pain, while keeping only the pieces that you and I can benefit from.

But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?”

Paul shows us how we should take it to God and talk to the people. Sometimes, it is impossible. So we keep talking to God. Sometimes we must wait for the hurt and sorrow to be worked through individually.

And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all.”

Paul is feeling very paternal. Every parent of a teen or older knows these feelings to some degree. They are our joy. Like when they were toddlers and they’d see us smile big at the sight of them and they would take that joy and smile bigger and come running for a hug.

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.”

And everything we do to try to show our love only makes it worse. None of us want anyone to feel this way. We have all felt it, so God put a pen in Paul’s hand as he was going through it so that as God helps Paul, God can help us.

But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.”

The world is now teaching when we are upset – we should feel it through. This is Biblical. The world tells us it is ok to wrap yourself in a comfy and eat chocolate until you feel better. They call it self-care. I call it wallowing and making yourself and offering to the spirit of depression, grief and whatever else wants to come in while you appease the flesh.
The Bible teaches that we feel it, but until it is sufficient and that forgiveness and comfort should come before a man is swallowed up.  There are plenty of people who attacked me repeatedly and I had to stop speaking with them to protect myself. I love and ray for them daily. They say they are believers and they know they did evil by me, but instead of bringing comfort and forgiveness, they throw curses at me. No really. We have studied words and their spiritual meanings. So if someone prays daily that my business will fail unless I do something their way – it is a curse. I fast and pray for it to be broken. I must life my own salvation out in the eyes of God not man – with fear of God not the curses of man.
So as a sidebar – although not really, because we do not see Paul doing it, so we shouldn’t – Do not pray for people to do things or something bad will happen. I once heard someone pray that someone, who is not saved, will honor God in a business transaction or God will take all their money, they’ll be demoted, and even lose their job. Well I prayed to break that curse because God is not honored in it. God will do things HIS way and not our way. You cannot manipulate God. Also you cannot manipulated people – it is a type of witchcraft. As men and women of God we are to bless them. While praying against that curse – I blessed them. They did lose their job. Then they found a new job at double the salary. They still do not honor God in their business and they are still not saved. But they are learning we have a loving, forgiving and steadfast God – which is opposite of anything they have experienced on Earth at the hands of the enemy and sinful man. And we all know, it is God’s love that draws us to Him.

If God is who He says He is – then only in hatred for someone would we ever wish the wrath of God upon them. If we really believe this and understand it – God loves our human enemies too and wants to save them. You do not know which one might turn into another Paul saving thousands and starting churches. The answer is not in manipulation or curses – it is in forgiveness and comfort. Of course I have already forgiven those who hurt and betrayed me, and I have repeatedly.

Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.”

God (and Paul) sometimes ask us to do difficult things. It is difficult to show love in the midst of hurt. But God commands it and so does Paul – Paul says it is a test of our obedience.

10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Do not give room to the devil. Do not give him space in which to move. Do not offer him our hurting, or our own pain. Do not give him our insecurity, our vulnerabilities, or any area. We are protected to be in pain and insecure and vulnerable IN HIM, in God. But if we wallow in it. If love, forgiveness and comfort never come or are rejected – then you have given room to the enemy.

Paul goes from his own heartache to another’s heartache and then He seemingly changes the subject to talk about Troas and then a triumph in Christ and saying he is not peddling false teachings.
The readers would not see this as jumping around as these smaller topics are all part of the bigger issue that lead to all the hurt. Paul was late coming because he fled to Troas instead of staying where people were trying to kill him and waiting for a ship so he could sail to Corinth. Another issue was the church at Corinth were comparing Paul to other evangelists and even to false teachers. Paul came in love, humility and meekness, asking nothing of them and only giving. While other had to be paid to come speak.

So in the middle of Paul’s instructions to love and forgive, because it was the will of the Lord – He talks about another time that he was in the will of the Lord, doing the Lord’s work and there was a victory! I suppose Paul is reminding them to get back to the Lord’s business – be kingdom minded.

12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.”
But even in the victory he was sorrowful and missed Titus. It is very possible that Titus is the one who was hurt that they are speaking of. But again, with how vague this book is about the ‘who, what, when, where, and why’ – we must focus on the solutions Paul presents and apply it to our divisions and pains.

14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”

If not yet, it will happen. In the midst of people being people and hurting each other and talking bad and accusing, and people accusing back instead of forgiving, and all of this emotional distraction – you will STILL have to continue to do the work of the Lord. And even with all this sadness around you – you will need the joy of the Lord as your strength (Nehemiah 8:10 – another guy who had no reason for joy, except that he needed strength) and you’ll need to stay Kingdom focused. Yes – even people, the very objective of your task from Christ can act as a distraction from staying laser focused on the Kingdom mission.

15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?”

I’ll tell you – in my own hurt, while trying to do the will of God: There is a sweet aroma of life. It is like breaking open your alabaster box and anointing the Lord. It is one of the great sacrifices. Many ministries and men/women of God have fallen just before they were able to smell it. They succumbed to the pain and hurt – the restoration is too great for human eyes. We need God’s plan and ways which are not ours. IN HIM nothing is impossible.

The end of verse 16 is interesting – who is sufficient for these things? The word in Greek can translate to sufficient, but also it can also mean: qualified, competent, ample or fit.
Let’s look at the verse in the Amplified Classic Version of the Bible:
to the latter one an aroma from death to death [a fatal, offensive odor], but to the other an aroma from life to life [a vital fragrance, living and fresh]. And who is adequate and sufficiently qualified for these things?”
Through this work – God himself reveals and qualifies at the same point. We are NOT sufficient or qualified to give the aroma of life, we are under a curse and evil people – yet God calls our faith our righteousness and in this process we are given such rich meat.

17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.”

And here is the key to this triumph and victory – when we obey and serve the Lord are we doing it knowing we are doing it in His sight and will answer for it? Or are we in the business of making money, peddling the word of God.
I hope you all are mature enough to know the difference between someone serving God and running a church business. Although both are running a business, one serves God and one serves money. I think I told you of the time I attended a church that was in the business of being a church, they pleased people so people would give. If you are serving God then the offering part of the service is a great worship to God. There is no better way to come to the Lord than to come with offerings in your hands, bringing Him your best in worship. The business happens because God designed it. Serve God first.

If you are going through the storm of emotional thing, like Paul – keep going. Do not harden your heart. Let God heal you and even qualify you during this time. Grow in God – even if man doesn’t want reconciliation.
This storm is really like all of the storms – Jesus is near, walking on the water, in the midst of the storm. You may not see Him because your storm is so great. But you are safe. He is there. And you will be forever changed by deep revelation of who He is – if you continue in the storm to the other side. Do not get distracted and do not walk away. If you need prayer support – you can always leave prayer requests in the comments. I pray for everyone reading this every day – I do not want any of you washed away in the storm of emotions.

***

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!

Welcome to the Second Letter to the Church at Corinth – 6-8-22

“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 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 1 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Greeting

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia:

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

Comfort in Suffering

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any [a]trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our [b]consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

Delivered from Suffering

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our [c]trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and [d]does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on [e]our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.

Paul’s Sincerity

12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in [f]simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. 13 For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end 14 (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Sparing the Church

15 And in this confidence I intended to come to you before, that you might have a second benefit— 16 to pass by way of you to Macedonia, to come again from Macedonia to you, and be helped by you on my way to Judea. 17 Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No? 18 But as God is faithful, our [g]word to you was not Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

23 Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth. 24 Not that we [h]have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 1:4 tribulation
  2. 2 Corinthians 1:5 comfort
  3. 2 Corinthians 1:8 tribulation
  4. 2 Corinthians 1:10 NU shall
  5. 2 Corinthians 1:11 M your behalf
  6. 2 Corinthians 1:12 The opposite of duplicity
  7. 2 Corinthians 1:18 message
  8. 2 Corinthians 1:24 rule

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:

Paul was on his 3rd missionary journey, somewhere around 55 or 56 AD and possibly a year or so since he wrote 1st Corinthians. Paul was in Macedonia when he wrote it, possibly near the city of Philippi. Some say it was written while he was on his way to Corinth – others say it was written after leaving Corinth.
Some speculate that this is actually the third letter to the Corinthians. The second letter was even more harsh than the first and lost in time. This is based on verses in what we call 2nd Corinthians where Paul references the letter of tears. Well, 1st Corinthians could most definitely be read as angry, so there is that.
Again, this was a letter, written by Paul (co-authored by Timothy) to the church in Corinth, to state the obvious. They received the first letter and in general they did not receive it well and rebelled.

So here are the two timeline scenarios that are most commonly believed for the stage this letter was set to:
ONE – Paul wrote this on His way to Corinth, he was delayed and already received a letter from them (called the letter of tears) where they accused him of things and challenged his authority. Paul tells them he’ll never come to them again. Then after finishing his walking tour of Macedonia, he goes to get a boat back to Troas. But changes his mind and takes a boat down and around Greece to Corinth – to make up.
TWO – Paul wrote this AFTER he visited Corinth because in the next chapter he refers to the painful visit. He arrived late and they were mad and accusation and challenges and Paul left. Just after leaving he wrote them a letter of tears which is lost to time. Now he is writing to make up and show that he still loves them.

Some say this letter exposes Paul’s heart, tenderness and sensitivity more than any other letter – But I will let you decide that.

Let us jump in:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Grace and peace – I wish we all greeted each other more like this. More prayers for each other! Amen?

Paul opens this letter with a pray, which we will see in many of his letters. When we read these prayers, we should take the time to learn to pray like Paul. And learn to apply these prayers to our lives, for ourselves or for our brethren.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

As often is the case, Paul’s prayer lead into teachings. Which is quite fine. But when was the last time you praised God for the tribulation? While going through my own struggles I have tried to be quite transparent with you all so that God gets ALL the glory whenever He finishes whatever He is doing! You may recall when it dawned on me that I needed to stop complaining about how difficult it is, and stop focusing on the loss – and just bless Him for what He is doing. I do not need to understand or explain it – I will serve Him, even if he kills me – therefore Bless Him and Worship Him and Praise Him for the tribulations. And if ANYONE knows loss, and difficulty and trials, it is Paul.

For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.”

We all experience these sufferings. I think where our empathy fails is that we try to compare. One without finances, one risking literal death, one being teased by their peers and so on. In our human minds we say, bulling and teasing in a school yard is not that bad compared to our brethren tossed in labor camps and threatened with death in China for bringing in Bible. The truth is suffering is suffering. And neither is worse of better. And we are all made different with different walks and the Lord loves us each and tries us according to His purpose, for His plan, for our good and His glory.

It is in this suffering that we can unite in comfort, consolation, and salvation. Then stand firm, steadfast, together. Yes, standing is easier when locked arms in the spirit with others. Stop comparing struggles and support each other in them.

Note that these sufferings could be referring to their fight, the tearful letter or the painful visit. But it more likely has to do with Paul explaining His delay in coming to them. As we see in the next few verses.

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.”

There have been MANY times Paul ran for his life so we can understand this statement in general. But let’s look at the situation he was probably talking about. We saw in 1 Corinthians that Paul was making great progress in Ephesus and was hoping to finish a work there. He actually stayed there for over 2 years!! If you recall, Ephesus is a city deep in cultic practices with more temples to false gods than any other city and these temples date back to the earliest days of the Greek Empire and having the height of their glory during the Roman Empire and STILL being used during the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century!
An area this entrenched by principalities and powers, it is AMAZING the work the Lord did in Ephesus. Paul (or more correctly God) had made so much progress that the local silversmith feared he would go out of business, as fewer people were buying his replicas of the pagan gods. So the silversmith decided to start a riot – and two of Paul’s men were caught and brought to the city center.
Paul was always running for his life, but whenever his helpers were put in harm’s way, we see Paul moved. There is a greater concern for others. Paul was prohibited to help them. Paul also doesn’t like the feeling of helplessness as we saw each time Paul was unable to assist. It was a very real and scary threat that was unpredictable. You can read about it here: Acts 19:23-41.
After the situation and reuniting with the brethren who were caught up in it – Paul left. Paul took a group and went to Macedonia and Greece. Their first stop was Philippi and probably where he wrote this letter. 
Paul credits their deliverance from that situation in Ephesus to God – but acknowledges the (Verse 11) the Corinthian’s helping together in prayer. Meaning, praying for Paul helped! Meaning – praying for me will help as I pray for you and it helps and we pray for all our brethren and it helps.

12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. 13 For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end 14 (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
Paul truly loved the church at Corinth – it was a church he founded and cared deeply for. His boasting? It is like a father’s for his son, even if his son is a screw up, even if feelings are hurt and fights have happened.
Paul repeats the idea of not trusting in fleshly wisdom but rather trust in the grace of God. And he even states that he is repeating himself. The 1st century version of “Per my previous email…”

15 And in this confidence I intended to come to you before, that you might have a second benefit— 16 to pass by way of you to Macedonia, to come again from Macedonia to you, and be helped by you on my way to Judea. 17 Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No?”

First of all Paul would have been to Corinth EVEN FASTER except because he fled Ephesus, and he did not wait in Ephesus for a ship go to Corinth. Instead he fled to Troas and now Macedonia was the closest area. So now he has a longer journey to get there.

What are you trying to say Paul with lots of yes no yes no going on here!?! He doesn’t get to the full point until verse 23 – he is being gentle about it. But let’s sum this up with an old saying with an unknown author that I can remember my grandmother saying all the time: ‘If you cannot find something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’ And Paul was struggling to say a yes, yes.
Let’s look further to understand…

18 But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.”

Are you starting to see it? I am getting the picture that the issue of Paul being late was because Paul said he hoped and planned and NOT that God said it was set in stone.
Paul had told them he was planning on coming. And he did not get there. One school of thought is (since the last letter was tears) that he changed his plans on purpose to be late, so he would NOT show up all mad and fleshly, instead have the time to pray and calm down so he could show up in love. The other is that fleeing literally took him so far off course that he had to reverse his plans. My personal thought based all these verses is maybe it is a combination of these things.
But the people in Corinth were not just having Paul respond to rumors that Paul was toying with them about visiting and delayed. The rumors about Paul were more like the fake news about real men of God today. You know the things they say about them, lies and craziness to tear down people’s reputations.
There are the ones falling because God is shaking and the tares (imitations) are falling. Don’t let that be confused with the enemy’s attacks on reputations of REAL men of God. Look at Paul’s defense and if the man is behaving like Paul, chances are he is a real man of God. The only one who will fall if someone is accusing the righteous, is the person who touches God’s anointed. God put or permitted every preacher to have their platform. He said HE would shake out the fake ones… NOT US. I cannot emphasize enough that we need to stay out of it. Be careful, we need more discernment and we only know in part. Let God do the work and do not touch those who are appointed by God, even if we think they are false teachers. There are prophets anoint to speak against false teachers – but very few are called to such things and will still have to answer for it according to the scriptures. It is more wise for us to keep our mouths shut and clear the accusations from our minds and avoid the ones we think are false teachers.  

19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”

Yes – with two clauses: “In Him” & “To the GLORY of GOD through us”. There is another great litmus test to figure out if a man is a man of God or a fraud. Is God glorified through him? You see, Paul deflects to God – always test to see if a person points to Jesus or themselves. The goal is to lead others to Jesus – always pointing to Jesus!

Now verse 20 has been taken out of context for years and make it to mugs and posters and keyrings, etc. It is a great verse without all the yes and no confusion around it and without Paul trying to carefully rebuke them and defend himself at the same time. This is one of the few times the verse means the same in context and out of context and isolated. If God gives a promise (Paul is speaking to them of scriptural promises and salvation – so it has to be a promise you found in the Bible, correctly understood) then for the glory of God through us, the answer is yes.
For example. I pray for the money for my bills, the Bible says he’ll provide my every need, and I am not just taking advantage of the promise. SO – HE WILL PROVIDE. I pray for the work of my hands to be blessed, I am doing the work He told me to do and have not turned to my left or right. The Word says he will bless the work of my hands – SO HE WILL PROVIDE BLESSINGS ON MY BUSINESS. 
I hope you get the point. If you have a situation that you need God glorified in – find the promise and study to make sure you are not taking it out of context. If you do not know biblical context around it, ask someone. Then stand on that promise: IT IS WRITTEN! And of course, per this verse – God says: “In me it Is YES and AMEN!”

21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

Paul was always defending his calling and ministry. I suppose I can understand to some degree. He was a Christian killer before he became a Christian maker. He also spoke with the authority of the 12 disciples now called Apostles and seemingly giving himself that same title. Paul appeals to God – God did it, not Paul. Which being that it is a miracle that Paul is a Christian – should be enough evidence. But it apparently isn’t when feelings are hurt. Remember the last letter we read he confronted pride and arrogance in the people – pride HATES to be called out! Especially since they think they are better.

So as we look, verse by verse, let us not miss the big picture of what Paul is saying.

23 Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth.”

Look he was not in a place to build them up. Give the man time to cool down. He was sparing you his wrath! All this if he was writing before he came.
If he was writing after then he means he will not come again. (I am trying not to choose a side here about when it was written – so you are presented with both ideas and can figure it out by the Spirit.)

24 Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.”

He knows God called him to build their faith and joy – and he was mad enough to rip that all down and knew that was NOT God’s will.
So you see, if this was written before visiting, then– we can say to our brother or sister I am too mad to deal with this now. We’ll reconnect on the other side. AND on the converse, if a brother or sister says that to you – do not over react and burn the bridge and give them their stuff back and tell the pastor nonsense and cause a church split I have seen that happen a couple times in my life. Instead, expect the restoration once cooler head prevail.
And if written after, then he is explaining he his call to work for their joy and I am not sure how it fits in his argument.
Either way, the church in Corinth decided to talk smack about Paul when he didn’t come instead of waiting patiently. But now, Paul is on his way there, by way of a walking tour through the very large area of Macedonia. Stopping at Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, and a boat (or a few) around Greece and Athens to finally arrive in Corinth.

So all Paul can do it start off this letter with defending himself and his position.

After a rough star to this book and study – hang in here because this book has some beautiful revelations on giving, offering, tithing principles and insights. It may even change your view of generosity a little. Over reaching themes in the letter are generosity, humility and all Glory to God.
The three section are: chapters 1-7 where Paul seeks reconciliation; chapters 8-9 are about generosity; and chapters 10-13 where Paul challenges those who still reject him. Which is a terrible summary – so why don’t we just go through it!

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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!