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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Good Grief

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

There is a good kind of grief. The good kind moves a person forward instead of back. Paul teaches good grief leads us to repentance, a painful awareness of sin resulting in a change of heart, and a fresh dependence on the grace of God. Or said another way, genuine repentance will not happen without genuine grief over sin. One of the reasons many of us never find victory over a particular sin, is because we never repent of it (even though we are aware of its sinfulness and destructive nature), and we likely never repent because we have never grieved its presence.

Now worldly grief may lead to anger or frustration over the result of sin, bur rarely grieves the sin itself. That’s the kind of grief Esau experienced, he hated losing his blessing to his brother, but he didn’t really hate or grieve the sin that led him there. (Hebrews 12:17). Always reject that kind of shallow grief.

Also, the good kind of grief not only has a profound affect on the one repenting, but also their neighbor. Paul was comforted by the Corinthian’s repentance. Good grief leads to rejoicing for all; its not just good for your soul, but everyone else’s too.

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Heart Change

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

There is a profound portrait of repentance in this week’s Re:Verse passage.  Repentance is literally “turning away” and walking in the opposite direction.  Repentance begins with conviction from the Holy Spirit.  It is what Paul described as godly grief.  The result is salvation- freedom and restoration. Our spirits and souls are lifted and encouraged.  Attitudes and behaviors are dramatically different.

What did it look like for the Corinthians?  Look in verses 7 and 11.  Their disinterest to Paul’s presence was now longing.  Their dismissal of his authority had shifted to passion.  Their previous deception was now a righteous anger against Paul’s opponent.  Those believers in Corinth demonstrate a clear and vibrant change of heart.

Let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to continue that heart changing work of repentance.

“godly regret is the first step of repentance. And repentance follows and completes the change of heart.” John Piper

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My Heart is Full

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

Paul had written to the church in Corinth to provide correction and to defend his authority.  His rebuke caused some sorrow in the church, but it resulted in repentance.  Paul rejoiced because his letter had produced the desired effect.  The Corinthians responded with fear and trembling before the Lord and repented of their wrongs.  Paul demonstrated excellent leadership here in chapter 7 as he praises the Corinthians for their obedience and their response to correction. He had praised them to Titus that they would respond in that way and he was not disappointed.  They had made Paul proud and he wanted them to know he was encouraged by them.

When we offer correction, do we follow up with words of encouragement?  Do we celebrate and rejoice when others respond correctly to God’s instruction and correction?  The heart of a shepherd is filled with joy to see those under his care walk in a manner worthy of the Lord!

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Curtain

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 7:5-16 (day three) 

“This body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.”

There is a triumphalist tendency in popular Christianity which airbrushes and streamlines the rough and tumble of faith in Christ.  The result is the prettiest pictures of Christians you could ever imagine: nice, sincere, unflappable, harboring no doubts, no anxieties, no sadness.  Rubbish.  If you would love your neighbor—a person whose life you can actually affect—it is necessary that you lay bare your weakness.  Not your theoretical weakness—as in “I was blind but now I see” or “They are weak but he is strong”—but your actual weakness.  Pull back the curtain.  The world’s aching need is a vision of somebody confident enough in Christ to struggle before others as a weak person in real time.

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