Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 4 (day three)

“What is seen is temporary.”

Paul said it earlier: “The world in its present form is passing away.”  The pattern of this age, the stopgaps, the diversions, the workarounds—all of what we think of as “just the way things are”—really have only the most tenuous hold on the universe.  It’s only a matter of time before these bankrupt systems of living completely collapse. You might not want to get too celebratory about that just yet.  How are we supposed to live if we can’t depend on what we thought were the cold hard facts of life?  Don’t repeal if you can’t replace.  This is what Paul was getting at when he spoke of his longing that “Christ be formed” in people.  Christ teaching you your work habits, Christ teaching you how to think—determine to learn from him.


Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 4 (day two)

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. Vs. 6

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. John 1:9-11

Light over darkness – familiar theme. Jesus is a dawn breaking in our hearts that shines on all that was in shadow. Things in the light cannot be hidden, they are to be dealt with and surrendered. Things in the light also shine in a way that they could never have without the light source. We are greater with Christ shining in us, on us, and through us than we could ever possibly imagine ourselves to be otherwise.

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.  C.S. Lewis


Death at work

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 4 (day one)

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. . .always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus. . . So death works in us, but life (works) in you.”–v 8, 10-12.

Ministry in the 1st century was hard.  Still is.  A great price is required for those who would serve the Lord.

Remember the old road signs?  A crew of workers on a street project.  A sign posted as you approached, “Men at work”.

In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul makes a similar declaration.  Death IS at work.  Still.  Physical and spiritual. Servants of the Lord encounter opposition and spiritual pressure.  It will cost you to “carry” (in your own experience and story) the dying of Jesus.

But, you will also witness the victory of Jesus!  Through your witness, you will see (eyes of faith ) people lifted to life through faith in Christ.

Death is at work.  So is LIFE.  The Lord was good with this arrangement.  You?

Holy Spirit

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 1:12-24, 2:1-11 (day seven)

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. -2 Cor. 1:21-22

God has given us a guarantee in the person of the Holy Spirit who seals our lives in such a way that we know whose we are.  We belong to the perfect creator of the universe.

The Holy Spirit is far more than just an identity badge though:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. -John 14:26-27

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; -Romans 8:26

God completes his perfecting work in our hearts and lives by the power of the Holy Spirit.  May we trust His work and be transformed.

Good Work

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 1:12-24, 2:1-11 (day six)

“…we work with you for your joy,” 2 Corinthians 1:24

It is comforting to think the heart of Paul’s intent was their joy. Those are the kinds of words a father says to a son (“I’m doing this for your good.”), and no less true. Paul could not coerce them into faithfulness; he didn’t desire to lord it over their faith.  No, there was a whole lot of love involved in his tough love. It’s the kind of love that steps in when everyone else moves to the other side of the road. It’s the kind of love that speaks up when everyone else stays silent. Paul was doing a good work for the Corinthian church, a work for their joy. And although sorrow may have lasted for the night, I’m sure the Corinthians discovered that joy came in the morning.

Do you have a friend like that? Are you a friend like that? It’s the things discipleship is made of. It’s good work.

The Speed of Unity

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 1:12-24, 2:1-11 (day five)

2:3 This is the very thing I wrote you, so that when I came, I would not have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice; having confidence in you all that my joy would be the joy of you all.

Heard a new phrase a couple of weeks ago. “The Speed of Unity”. Paul demonstrates this principle that helped him prioritize and discern his actions and behaviors.  Paul is committed to move at the speed of unity.  His return visit would have caused great pain and anguish, so instead he writes a letter.  His goal was the health, joy, and unity of the church.  He demonstrated patience and humility in order to keep that group of believers strong in their faith and to preserve and promote their joy.  Same intensity and energy required to write the letter.  Just a longer process than a “guns blazing” visit.

If  our goal is a healthy unified church, we ought to move at the “Speed of Unity”, considering carefully our actions, reactions, and decisions.  Also a wonderful principle for relationships.

Be Reconciled

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 1:12-24, 2:1-11 (day four)

Paul had been wronged…falsely accused…by a member of the Corinthian church.  He wrote to the church urging correction and discipline for the offender.  A majority of the church was in favor of discipline, but there were some who believed the punishment was not severe enough.  Paul’s counsel was not for vengeance, but to restore the church to a right relationship with God.  It was given out of love.

In 2:11, Paul gives valuable instruction.  God has given the command to His people to be reconciled.  (Matthew 5:24)  Reconciliation does not hinge on our relationship with the offender.  If we fail to forgive and seek reconciliation, we are directly disobeying God and giving Satan an advantage to accuse us.  Forgiveness is not based on the merits of the offender, it is based on our relationship with God and our obedience to Him!  Paul’s counsel is to alert the church to the schemes of Satan and restore the church to holiness and godly sincerity.


Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 1:12-24, 2:1-11 (day three) 

“It was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.”

Paul was right about the Corinthian church. He was right, and history would bear him out. It would have been a glorious moment of battle for the sake of purity in the church, with his detractors vanquished and the church cleansed of all the troublemakers. But Paul had learned long ago that the upper hand has no place in the fellowship of love. With one fiery visit he would have saved the idea of church, only to kill its community. The church is not an idea. It is a people. And people learn painstakingly, and minds change incrementally. So love—the most powerful force in the universe—is slow. Waiting means more than winning. Weakness means more than waylaying. And then people learn to live like Jesus.


Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 1:12-24, 2:1-11 (day two) 

For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.

But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil. Matthew 5:37

Integrity is a big deal. Whatever you may think of someone’s beliefs there is a sense of honor that comes from keeping your word. Paul understood this. He spoke hard truths. His words cut, and he often encountered opposition, but he was true. Whatever else we may be, let us follow that example. Not perfection, mind you, but a call to know who we are in Christ and to not waver from that commitment in the public square or our own private prayers. Stay true.


In this together

Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 1:12-24, 2:1-11 (day one)

Paul and the Corinthians did not have an easy marriage.  If “it don’t come easy, should you let it go” (Tanya Tucker)? “No”, said Paul.  Some relationships are worth the hard work required.  In much tension and many hard conversations, they had all learned some valuable lessons.

We need each other in eternity.  In “the day of our Lord Jesus”, says v 14,  one reason for confidence will be the people who came with us.  Life is a team sport.  Part of God’s evaluation for each of us will be “How did your team do?”

We need each other now.  In 2:2 Paul admits his dependency.  “If I cause you sorrow, who then makes me glad?”  We live (all Christians and pastors and people) in symbiotic relationship.  Happy pastors make happy churches.  Happy churches make happy pastors.  See Hebrews 13:17

Those who do church best have learned a deep, important lesson.  We are in this together.