2 Corinthians 2:5-11 Restoration

We all pray that last red line doesn’t get filled in again, But we know God’s directions if/when it does.

Paul is asking his readers to forgive and restore the repentant brother. This is something we all are to do continually. God provided forgiveness for us before we even asked. We can do no less for our brothers and sisters.

The person Paul is calling for forgiveness for is not clearly identified. My bible helps states that it is “probably” the leader of the rebellion against Paul within the church body. But Paul doesn’t name this person. What he does infer is that the sin was actually committed against him. But he didn’t take the sin personally. Instead he saw the detriment that this sin had on the church as a body. Read more »

2 Corinthians 1:12-2:4 Postponed for Your Sake

Sin: Looks like fun at first but the consequences aren’t so pleasant.

Paul has been struggling with this group in Corinth. He wants to see them but he refrains from going instead. He postpones his visit to them out of love and mercy.

We know from reading Acts that Paul has been moving about on missionary journeys since he met Jesus on the road to Damasks. He has also been directed by the Spirit as to where to go. He spent over two years in Corinth the first time. I’m not certain how many times he stopped back by on his way from one place to another, but we know there were a couple of times at least. He is committed to the churches he has planted and tries to visit them to bring encouragement and more instruction.

These are happy times for Paul. He is eager to see the growth and maturity they have attained through their search of the word and the Spirit’s leading. But this church isn’t growing like expected. It has been experiencing several issues.

We learned in Acts that Paul is an accomplished orator. He knows how to get his point across and how to stand up against an argument. He prefers to be the bearer of good news though. When it comes to correction, letters serve him best. When I was reading ahead he comments on the fact that his letters come across much stronger when it comes to correction than he does in person.

He seems to be able to confront non-believers with strength and conviction. Is he as comfortable with face to face confrontations with believers? Maybe he was scarred from his disagreement with Barnabas over John Mark. Maybe that is the way the Spirit instructed him to handle these kinds of issues.

It’s probably a good thing for us that Paul chose this method. He didn’t have scribes at his regular meetings that provided us with his teachings. Because he wrote down these instructions we have them for today.

Because Paul loved this group he gave them time to get their act together. This is an example of him following God’s lead. God has been delaying Jesus’ return so there is time for ALL of those who will come to Him to do so. He doesn’t want to miss out on a single soul turning to Him. He has given us the instruction we need to make the choice and the change. We have to choose to listen.

Paul is praying for a good result from his letters. He is heartsick over the issues and is willing to give them every opportunity for change. Once he arrives he has to deal decisively with the issues. Reminds me of counting to 10 as a parent. But the consequences in Paul’s situation are eternal.

God does this with us individually too. He speaks to our heart to correct our sins. He provides instructions, encouragement, and incentive to change. But if we refuse to listen He will provide the firm correction we require. He loves us too much to let us continue on in our sin. For those who refuse to know Him that final correction is Hell. For those of us who do know Him, His correction can take on many different forms but it usually involves natural consequences for our sin. Illness, financial problems, broken relationships, and legal entanglements are just a few “corrections” that come as a consequence of our own sin.

Not ALL are a result of sin, but that is the first place a believer should examine when encountering these issues. No, God didn’t send them but by our own sin we stepped out from under His protection. You can’t expect the umbrella to keep the rain off your head if you won’t stay under it. But before blaming everything on sin, remember that even under the umbrella you still encounter the water from the storm. It is a part of being in this world. Whether it’s stepping in a puddle or the wind blowing the rain on your uncovered areas, we live in a fallen world and will get wet to some degree.

Father God, thank You for Your patience. Thank You for Your written instructions. I’m certain You would have gotten the information to us one way or another, but choosing this way was VERY expedient. One would almost think You planned it this way. (I’m sure You did.) I am certain though that You didn’t bring this group into their sin just to make a point though. You use what we present, whether good or bad, for Your purpose.

Thank You for the rain picture. Thank You that not everything bad that happens to me is some lesson I have to figure out. Thank You for Your grace because without it I would “earn” a LOT more trouble than I have. I have no excuse to complain though when my feet get wet from jumping in puddles. Remind me of this when I’m tempted to step into sin.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 Our Comforter

In His arms is where I always want to stay

No matter what lies before me, He is my comforter. This is the message Paul shares with the Corinthian church in our reading today. Neither Paul nor his audience has had an easy time of it but there is still a promise in the middle of “affliction.”

The church Paul is writing to was in the midst of dealing with issues Paul wrote to them about previously. They are also dealing with dividing factions that are refusing to take instructions. (I got this information from my bible helps, so if it is wrong, please let me know.) Things are not going easily in Corinth.

On the other side of the pen, Paul and his group have endured a LOT of “affliction.” We hear in Acts about many of the problems Paul encountered including being run out of towns, stoned, secreted away by the believers, and facing public accusations. This isn’t even counting the times he was put in prison or flogged. Some of these events had already transpired while others were still to come by the time he penned this letter.

Paul’s determination to continue preaching the gospel was not swayed because of the trouble he faced. I’m sure the Jews wondered at this. Everything they threw at him should have been enough to stop him. If he were operating under his own steam it would have been. But Paul’s secret to his drive was what he received in return for his suffering.

“For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (verse 5). They were buoyed in their distress by the comfort provided by the Holy Spirit. They KNEW that nothing man could do to them would have any eternal impact. The Holy Spirit reached into their hearts and gave them peace. Not the world’s peace that is dependent on the activities around you but God’s all-encompassing peace. A knowing that all is secure. Not even the absence of fear but the power to face that fear head on with Jesus holding your hand.

I’ve heard an example of this that fits well for me. There is a man standing on the edge of a cliff with nowhere to go. Because he knows Jesus he KNOWS that God will either give him wings and bear him up on the wind or be there to greet him on the other side of life. I want to add another option to this. IF he survives the fall and God sees fit to keep him on this side of Heaven, He will walk with him the rest of his days, regardless of any pain or disability he received from the fall.

This last option is the one my husband deals with on a daily basis. When he was being rushed into surgery for a life threatening brain tumor, he told God that if he woke up in front of Him that was ok, and if not, that was ok too. He woke up with many issues to deal with and a lifetime of obstacles to overcome. Yes, he gets discouraged and he wonders why God hasn’t healed him. But the one thing he clings to more than anything else when faced with these doubts is the overwhelming peace he experienced when he brought this issue to God. He still feels that comfort and draws strength from it.

No matter what lies before me or what lies in my past, I can rest secure in the arms of my Savior. He was, is, and will be my comforter in ALL I walk through. Even if I don’t feel it, I have His word on it. Because HE lives I can face tomorrow!

Father God, thank You for watching over me every day. Thank You that I have Your promise of eternal life with You at the end of this journey. Thank You that Your Spirit walks with me every step of the way. I can trust You to “have my back.” I recognize that a lot of my “uncomfortable areas” are from my own making; my sin. But even there You still call out to me to bring me back. Thank You that You don’t abandon me at the first sign of trouble. Thank You for smoothing out some of the trouble I would face from my sins too. I have definitely been spared many well-earned consequences over my lifetime. Thank You for wrapping my husband in Your arms in his darkest hour. Thank You for doing the same for me in my times of trouble. You are SO faithful!

2 Corinthians 1:1-2 Greetings Again

Welcome, come on in little one. We have much to discuss.

Paul is writing to the church at Corinth again. This is not a happy letter but another one that had to be sent. He starts out with his customary greeting but even it has a slight bite to it.

Paul sent Timothy with his last letter to this body of believers instead of coming himself. He was hoping to visit them when they were in a better place. Timothy apparently came back with a less than glowing report. Many of the believers accepted Paul’s instructions and repented but there was a group that didn’t. Timothy brought word of this to Paul and now he has to address this group.

The greeting Paul gives specifically identifies the fact that Timothy’s report has reached Paul. BUT Paul still calls for grace and peace from God for this body. Paul is NOT giving up on them, no matter how hard they push back from him.

God doesn’t give up on us either, no matter how hard we push. I have been experiencing that the last two days to some degree. I have been discouraged with the lack of interaction here. I’ve been feeling like maybe no one really is interested any more. Since we left the gospels there haven’t been opportunities to “walk the streets” any more. I feel like our time together is dry.

I have also been feeling less confident in understanding what God has in store for us each day. I read the whole letter we are studying now two days ago. I honestly felt lost when reading it. I don’t know if it was because I’m used to taking things a little at a time or if this letter is over my head. Whatever the reason, I was reluctant to get going on our study.

The first night I felt physically and emotionally drained just thinking about what lies ahead. Yesterday I chose to count my time listening to my husband’s audio bible with him as my “bible study time.” Another excuse to delay digging in. But if Paul can confront the tough stuff, I guess I should too. I’m NOT comparing myself to Paul by ANY means. But I am saying that God was able to sustain him so I know He can sustain me too.

So, greetings fellow travelers. We are on our way again to see where God leads us on this journey. Please share with me your thoughts along the way. I crave your insight!

Father God, please forgive me for almost giving up. I know that NO time spent with You is wasted. Even if no one else ever writes back to me, You still hear me and that matters more to me than anything else. Forgive me for being selfish. Thank You for bringing me this lesson today. Thank You for allowing me to be honest with my feelings too. Please bless our time together and continue to speak to me through Your word. Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

1 Corinthians 16:19-24 My Love Be With You

No truer words!

We have come to the end of another of Paul’s letters. He is saying his farewell to his Corinthian family, for a while anyway. This has not been an easy letter to write or receive. Paul addressed several critical issues, but he did it all in love.

Paul starts his closing greeting by mentioning familiar friends and associates. Aquila and Prisca had been with him in Corinth during his first visit. They are very invested in this group. I believe that is why they send a “hearty greeting in the Lord” to the believers in Corinth. Aquila and Prisca went on to host other churches in their homes as they moved about. They are currently in Asia as Paul is writing this letter.

No matter how many issues were in need of addressing, the believers in the other churches send their love and prayers. That’s what the body does. It doesn’t break down into little cliques and refuse to reach out to its other members. It bands together and uplifts its other members. That is exactly what Paul was calling for this body to do too. Read more »