September 13, 2019
A BEAUTIFUL BENEDICTION With this beautiful benediction, Paul closed his second letter to the Corinthians. Paul’s trinitarian blessing bestowed three powerful attributes of the Godhead upon the believers at Corinth: 1) The “grace” (χάρις – charis) of Jesus. Which is Christ’s free and unmerited favor. 2) The “love” (ἀγάπη – agape) of God. Which is
September 3, 2019
TRUE PARTNERSHIP REQUIRES SAME FAITH Paul’s warning does not mean separatism. He is not advising that we avoid unbelievers. In the previous chapter, Paul had just written about being entrusted with the “message of reconciliation,” so this requires engaging with lost people. What he is warning against is being partners with them. This should inform
September 1, 2019
IN CHRIST WE ARE A NEW CREATION Christianity is not self-improvement. It is an invitation to come and die, that we might be born again. It is not incremental nor partial, but drastic and total. By believing and receiving Christ, we are found in Him. Our old nature we count crucified with Christ. Our new
August 31, 2019
WHAT WE CAN KNOW ABOUT RESURRECTION “We know.” This faith we have is based on the historical resurrection of Jesus. We look at this fact, believing it, and this faith becomes like confident knowledge. Believing that God raised Jesus in the past, we also believe that He will raise us with Jesus in the future.
September 13, 2018
PAUL’S FINAL INSTRUCTIONS TO THE CORINTHIANS
Paul’s final instructions in his second letter to the Corinthians sought to correct the disharmony he had heard about. They were not submissive to his authority, they were spiritually immature, they struggled with grumbling and gossip. In this condition, the God of love and peace would refuse to be manifest in their midst.
When a church is marked by such things as the one in Corinth, the word, “Ichabod” (Hebrew: “No glory”), may as well be written over it. For the glory of God will not reside in such a gathering. It “grieves” (Eph. 4:30) the Spirit of God when His people are not acting in unity and love.
Remember how the Lord Jesus warned the church of Ephesus to repent or He would “remove their lampstand” (Rev. 2:5)? The lampstand is symbolic of God’s presence and glory, which is like a beacon of light that attracts people to Him.
Church, do you want the God of love and peace to shine His glorious light down upon you? Then, “Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace.”
September 12, 2018
PAUL’S CONCERN. GOD’S CONCERN.
Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians expressed his concern and desire for the church he had planted there. He was planning to visit them for the third time, but he had heard many worrisome things about how they had not given up their “old sins.” He didn’t want his future visit to be one of difficult discipline, but of joyful reunion. Because he loved them like a father, he was ready to do either, but preferred the latter.
I think we see something of the Father’s heart in Paul’s parental care for the Corinthians. I wonder. If we would receive a letter from Jesus today, would it express similar concern? Would Jesus warn us that he is coming soon, expressing His concern that He won’t like what He finds?
September 11, 2018
CHRIST’S STRENGTH IN MY WEAKNESS
Paul told the Corinthians that he had learned to glory in his weaknesses, for it was in weakness that he had experienced the power of Christ at work in and through him. He had learned that real strength comes out of weakness which, distrustful of itself, gives itself up to God.
The weak learn to lean on God. Just as the Israelites in the wilderness learned to gather enough manna for the day, so we can learn to depend on Christ’s power for the troubles of today. The Lord will empower us to face each day when we call on Him, for the Scripture says, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deut. 33:25).
Do you own the strength and resources to accomplish the dreams God has given you? Then, your dreams are too small and your labors are too self-dependent. Yet God calls us to things too big for us to do without Him.
Paul’s pedigree was admitting his weakness and reliance on Christ’s power. He never claimed to be a hero. He lifted up Christ as the Hero!
Do you feel weak today? Don’t see it as an excuse for inaction, but as the perfect opportunity to call on Christ’s power!
September 10, 2018
THE PASTOR’S BURDEN
After listing many of the trials and tribulations he had endured as a church planter, the apostle Paul named the one constant concern that weighed on him–– his burden for the churches. Certainly, the Spirit of the Lord strengthened Paul to carry this burden, yet it was the Lord that gave it to him in the first place.
Just as Jesus had told Peter, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” So, Paul keenly felt this same calling.
It was the apostle Peter who wrote this instruction to pastors: “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you” (1 Peter 5:2). Paul felt this pastor’s burden. And so does every pastor today that is called of God and seeks to please Him by caring for His sheep.
September 7, 2018
LIVING THE LIFE OF THE OPEN HAND
Why does God give us surplus? Is it so that we can store it up, depending on the surplus, rather than God? Certainly not! Why then? Paul taught the wealthy Corinthians that God had enriched them so they could always be generous, living a lifestyle of continuous generosity. God’s generosity should create generosity in us!
The greatest generosity is found in God, who freely gave us His Son as payment for our sins. The gospel is God’s generosity on display. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” (Rom. 8:32).
God’s surplus is for our generosity. As Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8). This is the life of the open hand–– one hand open to God freely receiving, the other hand open to others freely giving.
September 6, 2018
WHO IS THIS GOSPEL PREACHING BROTHER?
Paul told the Corinthians that he was sending Titus and “another brother” to them to collect the Jerusalem offering. Who was this brother whom “all the churches” praised for his gospel preaching? It is impossible to know for sure, but Luke is a likely candidate. He was a constant companion of Paul and he was the author of the Gospel of Luke. His Gospel may have already started to circulate among the churches, making him a renowned member of Paul’s team and perhaps the reason for Paul keeping him anonymous.
John Mark, author of the Gospel according to Mark, is another candidate. Although Paul didn’t want to travel with him after he went home early on their first missionary journey, they were later reconciled as evidenced in Paul’s reference to him in 1 Timothy 4:11.
Other possible well known gospel preachers that were companions of Paul include Apollos and Barnabas. But the truth is, the identity of the brother that Paul sent with Titus remains unknown, as does Paul’s reason for anonymity.
This unnamed brother was highly respected not only for his gospel preaching, but also for his integrity, for Paul went on to say that “he was appointed by the churches to accompany us as we take the offering to Jerusalem” (2 Cor. 8:19). In other words, he was the trustee appointed to verify that the monies collected for Jerusalem were actually delivered as promised.
Whoever this brother was, he was highly respected both for his gospel preaching and his great integrity.