Center of Attention

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 1:1-11 (day four)

Unfortunately, many of our decisions are made based on our own personal comfort.  Whether it is physical comfort, emotional comfort, or intellectual comfort, we seek what is perceived to be best for us.  We sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that God saved us, delivered us, or provided for us solely for our good because He loves us.  The end result is for our benefit.

Paul instructs the church in Corinth (as well as us today) that God brings comfort to us in time of need so we can offer hope to others when they face difficult times.  Even providing for an opportunity for them to intercede for us, gives them cause to give thanks to God.  The focus of God’s work in our lives is for the benefit of others.  God’s blessing in our lives is the result of the prayers of others.  Think God’s glory and the good for others…rather than our own personal comfort!

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Meaning

Re: Verse reading—2 Corinthians 1:1-11 (day three)

“If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation.”

The real wreckage that has resulted from the fall of man is not that suffering occurs.  It is that we have no idea what suffering means.  A well-known author and lecturer with an atheistic perspective sums up his understanding of humanity’s quest as avoidance of suffering.  What an impoverished legacy such a viewpoint would leave to us.  If there is nothing more at the base level of reality than the maintenance of ease for a little while, then we are nothing more than collections of decaying molecules.  But Paul—following the trail blazed by Jesus Christ—wakes us up to the knowledge that suffering itself testifies to a glory that was lost, and can be found again.

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Affliction/Comfort

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 1:1-11 (day two) who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. vs. 4

Later in the New Testament James will record that the trials we endure should produce patience. (James 1:2) Did you ever consider that your trials, or as Paul refers to them here, afflictions, actually prepare you to empathize with others? This is not out of character for the gospel at all when you consider Jesus who gave up so much to walk among us, feel our burdens, encounter temptation, resistance, and persecution. Jesus’ ability to say “I understand” is one of the most remarkable characteristics of our remarkable God. This is not lost on Paul. We cannot attain Christ’s perfection, but we are able to see how God worked in our afflictions and as such we are able to share and comfort.

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The God who raises the dead

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 1:1-11 (day one)

“Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in the God who raises the dead.‘–v 9

It is Who He is.  What He does.  We serve/love/trust/worship the God who raises the dead.

Jesus is the first/best example.  Crucified.  Dead.  Buried.  On the third day, God raised Him.

We will see it again when Christ comes.  God will raise all men to life.  Some to judgement.  Some to reward.  See John 5:28-29.  God at work again, doing what He does.

In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul gives his own testimony.  He remembers when he was so overwhelmed, so excessively burdened that his resolve “died”.  He despaired even of life.  Saw no hope.  No fight left.

But God delivered Paul from that moment.  Miraculously raised him to life, hope and renewed energy.

When things die (marriages, dreams, energy. . .)  no problem!  We serve a God who raises the dead.

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Saul to Paul

Re:Verse passage – I Corinthians 15:3-20, 35-44, 50-57 (day seven)

Paul was the worst.  No Christian wanted to see him coming because he aimed to destroy you and had the full backing of the government to do so.

After Stephen is stoned to death Scripture continues:  Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.  And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. –Acts 8:1-2

Then the next chapter goes further:  Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. –Acts 9:1-2

That murderous heart continued until Paul met Jesus, when he met the resurrected Jesus his life flipped forever:  For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. –1 Corinthians 15:9

If there is any proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the first century surely it was the transformation of Saul to Paul.  Many couldn’t believe that story of redemption, but Paul kept telling it.

 

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Hope

Re:Verse passage – I Corinthians 15:3-20, 35-44, 50-57 (day six)

Hope does not make sense without the resurrection of the dead. The Gospel promises us victory over sin and death. If there is no resurrection (victory over death), nor is there victory over sin. As Paul writes, “we are left in our sins [without the resurrection].” So our hope in the Gospel looks forward; it moves beyond victory over sin to a future hope in our bodily resurrection, our victory over death. That’s where our Christian hope lies.

Yet, our hope doesn’t always find itself there, does it? We are often so short sighted. In the midst of our struggles, we rarely hope in the resurrection, or barely give it any thought.  We hope for cures. Or pay raises. We hope for immediate justice. Or righted wrongs. Not Paul, his hope was in his future bodily resurrection; Jesus’ completed work. All other hope is uncertain(like defeating cancer), not so the resurrection of the dead.

So, be reminded, to give thought to the resurrection of the dead; as Jesus was raised, so you will be raised. Hope in it. It’s Jesus’ ultimate victory in your life.

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According to the Scriptures

Re:Verse passage – I Corinthians 15:3-20, 35-44, 50-57 (day five)

“According to the scriptures”. A phrase used twice (verse 3 and verse 4) in this week’s Re:Verse passage. Some versions will translate that, “just as the scripture said”, or, “exactly as scripture tells it”.  What a good word for us today. When the scripture teaches us about God it is truthful. When it describes Jesus and His work, it is accurate. When the Scriptures describe the life, power, struggles, and hope we have as believers it is reliable. When we read and meditate on the scriptures we find the truth: about God, Jesus, ourselves, life, eternity, and a thousand other things.

The scriptures help remove doubt and skepticism. They bring clarity and certainty. For thousands of years, the scriptures have been and done exactly what God has intended. Everything is and has been “according to the scriptures”.

Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalm 119

 

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What Can I Do?

Re:Verse passage – I Corinthians 15:3-20, 35-44, 50-57 (day four)

Verses 3-4 have sometimes been referred to as the Easter passage.  “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”  This short, concise passage accurately sums up the work of Christ.

I like the phrase “according to the Scriptures.”  Jesus had an assignment and He completed it obediently.  Why would He do that?  Why would He willingly die such a horrible death, for us?  It was for love!  Love for the Father and love for us.  Do we have any responsibility as a result of Jesus demonstrating His love toward us?  Should we be asking ourselves anything for such a sacrifice?  With that level of love demonstrated for us, we owe Him…at the very least…to ask what He would have us to do.

  • Who is Jesus?
  • Why did He come?
  • What does He want me to do?
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Touch

Re:Verse passage – I Corinthians 15:3-20, 35-44, 50-57 (day three)

“If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”

A body is by definition physical.  What, then, is a “spiritual body”?  It’s a body powered by the spiritual realm instead of by the natural realm.  The body isn’t a piece of inferior work to be superseded by something better.  It is God’s handiwork, and is, in God’s own words, “very good.”  Paul says that at the resurrection the physical body will actually live forever because it will be powered by the inexhaustible resources of the spiritual realm.  In other words, the age to come will be grounded, not ghostly—solid, not shadowy.  Keep in mind the words the resurrected Jesus said after “Peace be with you.”  He said, “Do you have anything to eat?”  A real body in a real world—that’s what the resurrection promises.

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Power of the Resurrection

Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 15:3-20, 35-44, 50-57 (day two) and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Vs. 14

This was a familiar refrain of both Billy Graham and C. S. Lewis. They would come at it from different ways in their preaching and writing, but the essence of this passage from Paul was clear: Either Christ is what he says he is, or he isn’t. There is so much summed up in that statement. There can be no halfway with Jesus. You can’t talk about how he loved the poor and disenfranchised and then deny the power of the cross. Jesus’ death and resurrection is also a call to action. A call to repentance and a restored walk with our creator. The power of the resurrection is hope for humanity, hope for you and me. In order for us to truly embrace all that Jesus was in his earthly ministry we must never deny the power of the cross and the hope of the resurrection. It happened – I believe.

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