Sometimes NO

Re:Verse reading 2 Corinthian 12:1-10 (day two) Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. vs. 8

Sometimes God says no. Intellectually we understand this. We can’t get everything we want or ask for, right? We appreciate that we don’t always know the best path forward for our lives, and that God sees the bigger picture. But surely, surely God would remove something that is painful from us in order to better serve him, right? Well, no. Paul, reluctantly, admits that God in his wisdom has chosen to not remove this thorn in order that any good result of Paul’s ministry will be rightly attributed to God. He knows us and our tendencies. Sometimes we need a governor (pardon the NASCAR reference) on our hearts in order to maintain focus on Jesus. If he says no, don’t wallow. You are in good company. He will give you what you need to cope with your circumstances.

 

 

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Proof

Re:Verse reading 2 Corinthian 12:1-10 (day one)

“I refrain (from boasting) so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me and hears from me.”–v 5.

Something my grandmother said.  Yours too, probably.  “The proof is in the pudding”.  (Originally the proverb said, “the proof of the pudding is in the tasting”.  Not sure my grandmother ever got that memo).

The meaning, however, is clear.  After all the talk, the evidence that matters most is outcome.  Not stories of past spiritual highs, what I do and what I say is the real me.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul is content to let his life do the talking. His opponents bragged about deep, spiritual experiences.  Good enough, said Paul, I have had them too.  But, the bottom line is who you are.

Easy to speak Christian truth.  Much harder to be kind, brave, and unselfish. (See 1 Thessalonians 1:5)  Tell your story!  Just remember, the proof of your words is your life.

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Authority

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 10 (day seven)

For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame, for I do not wish to seem as if I would terrify you by my letters. (2 Corinthians 10:8-9)

Scripture gives us a necessary reminder on authority.  Paul was given a specific authority in the church by God.  In Corinth that meant Paul started the church, helped them develop, and when necessary rebuked them.  In this context that rebuke came in a harsh letter, but that word was never meant to tear them down in destruction.  It was to build them up into something greater than themselves.

Any authority that we have from God is for building people up into a grand and holy people nearer to God. We should never use our authority and position to destroy people, but to point them to redemption.  The goal is always grace.

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Seeing

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 10 (day six)

“…when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” 2 Corinthians 10:12b

Referring to Jesus, John wrote, “No one has seen God; the only God who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” (John 1:18) The author of Hebrews would apply that truth, “let us run with the endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) This is how Paul is encouraging the Corinthians.

Do you want understanding? Do you really want to see? Do you want to run this race well? Then keep your eyes focused on Jesus. The moment we begin comparing ourselves to one another, rather than looking to Jesus, is the very moment we begin to lose sight of reality. We begin to think, “I’m not nearly as bad off as he is; I’m alright.” Soon we forget we need Jesus at all, or have any need to repent.

That’s the opposite of understanding; that’s foolishness. That’s not sight; it’s blindness.

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Making the Mind, Mind

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 10 (day five)  Paul uses an interesting phrase as he reveals the strategy for the warfare against culture and worldly things. “and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,”

The battleground is in the minds (thoughts, knowledge, understanding) of the Corinthians. The strategy for combat is to make their minds mind- become obedient. How does one make their mind mind?  It’s more difficult than you might guess. Because our thoughts come from within, we can easily be confused to believe that they are automatically true. The scriptures have lots of warnings about our thinking and our minds- strengthening, subduing, renewing.  The Bible also exhorts is to, “test the spirits (thoughts, ideas, understandings) to see if they are from God”. Test with the scriptures, test with Christian community, test with trusted Pastors, and test with personal prayer. To follow Christ, we must make our minds mind.

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Stand for Truth

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 10 (day four)

In 2 Corinthians 10, there is a change in the demeanor of Paul’s letter.  In the first 7 chapters, Paul was seeking to restore his relationship with the Corinthian church.  Having restored it, in chapters 8-9 he tells them of the opportunity to participate in the gift to the Jerusalem church.  Now, in chapter 10, Paul’s tone abruptly changes.  He begins to confront the false teachers that are seeking to undermine his apostolic authority.

Paul confronted the false teachers.  Satan will always present his lies to divert men from God’s way of truth.  Spiritual warfare is a reality we all face.  Just as Paul stood for truth and confronted false truths, so must we be diligent to not only recognize the wiles of Satan, but confront them and battle them just as Paul did.  To fight this battle, we must put on our armor of God daily. (Ephesians 6:10-17)  The warrior must be equipped and prepared to do battle in the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Words

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 10 (day three)

“…so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you.”

Jesus told us to exercise great care in the way we use language. He well knew that we’re capable of using explanations to obfuscate, questions to manipulate, and answers to complicate.  “Yes” comes with strings attached.  “No” serves as a way to marginalize others.  Paul urgently seeks to clarify that he has not weaponized his strong language to the Corinthians.  He eagerly desires that he and the church speak to each other plainly and without pretense so that all their energy can instead go toward showing Christ to the human race.  We have to figure this out.  If the church can’t speak rightly to one another, there’s no way it can say anything to the world.

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Capture My Thoughts

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 10 (day two)

We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. vs. 5b

Lord, capture my thoughts. How often have you let your mind run rampant over God’s will for your life? How often have you received a word from the Lord and then listened to the doubts and fears of the deceiver? This simple and powerful prayer has been one of the most profound in my Christian walk. I’m a smart guy. I can figure it out. I don’t need help. STOP – Lord, capture my thoughts. I have prayed these exact words countless times when I feel my own will trying to supersede God’s.

There is a caveat, however. It’s in the heart of belief. I have found that I truly believe that God can intercede and take those mis-directed thoughts and turn them to his glory. The words are simple, the truth: profound. Do you feel your mind filled with thoughts that are contrary to God’s design and plan for your life? Surrender them to him, and trust that he will deliver you.

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Be angry. Sin not.

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 10 (day one)

It is a false idea.  More powerful because it is close to the truth.

Christians never get angry.  False.  Christians must always be careful with anger because it can (often does) lead to sin.  True.  See Ephesians 4:26.

In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul is over the anger, but he is very assertive.

Having won the majority (2 Corinthians 2:6) Paul now sends a warning to the minority (those who still spread rumors, still work against him night and day) not to underestimate his resolve or courage.  “I am a warrior”, he says in v 4.  My weapons are not worldly, but it would be a great mistake to think that I do not have weapons, or am reluctant to use them.

Are Christians always passive?  Are we always nice?  Ask the money changers in the temple.  Ask the opponents of Paul.

Even though it calls for extreme caution, sometimes anger (assertiveness) is exactly what God wants from His soldier/children.

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un-comfortable

Re:Verse passage – 2 Corinthians 7:5-16 (day seven)

For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while…2 Cor. 7:8

A significant part of our Christian walk is uncomfortable.  Sometimes we imagine life with God as sinking into soft pillow, but often the way is defined by God making us uncomfortable.  Either by a letter from Paul or a heavy conscience God is going to bring us to a point of repentance.  Unfortunately, we do not get there on our own, and it’s never comfortable.

True freedom in life is found when you are forgiven of your sins by the blood of Jesus Christ in repentance.  We must confront our sin, wrestle with it, and finally hand it over to God to be at peace. That peace though comes at an uncomfortable price: a confrontation with yourself.  The process is sorrowful, but joy comes in the morning.

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