Sunday, August 28, 2016

Trustworthiness of God

18But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silasc and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.(2 Corinthians 1:18-22)

Thoughts: You can trust God.  In our world, so many give up on us- and we likewise give up on others.  This passage reminds us that God's promises are not fickle.  His truth matches His intentions and purposes.  It is this faithfulness- this steadiness that enables us to stand firm and steady.  His Spirit in our hearts is a guarantee of what is to come.  We know God is trustworthy not by some argument or rational thought- but by the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts and convincing us we can stake our lives on the promises and trustworthiness of God. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to rely and trust in you.  

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Intentions and Expectations

15Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice.16I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. 17Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both “Yes, yes” and “No, no”? (2 Corinthians 1:15-17) 

Thoughts: Paul was saying he wanted to come back by to see them but could not.  He was not just saying this to try to make them think well of him- it really was his intention though he had to abandon these plans.  We should not tell people we are coming to something when we have no intentions of doing so- that is the way of the world.  But we also need to realize that in this world our best intentions do not always come to fruition.  Paul had stated he wanted to do this in 1 Corinthians 16:6.  It was not the shortest way to go from Ephesus to Macedonia by way of Corinth- that was hundreds of miles out of the way.  Yet, he wanted to be able to encourage the Corinthians and then have them encourage him on the long journey back to Judea.  But for whatever reason, he could not.  This also teaches us not to be too disappointed when leaders in the church or the church itself do not meet our expectations.  As humans in this world we will disappoint each other and often that is out of our control.  We must always rely on God whose promises are always "Yes" -- pure and clear.  Only God makes unbreakable promises- for He knows all factors and (as Augustine said) the future is present to Him.  Jesus promises are promises that lead to life and not to the "No" of death.  Our promises should not be made lightly- but as carefully as we can so we might fulfill them as Christ fulfills all of His promises- for we are His servants.  

Prayer: Lord, let my promises be true, imitating your true promises to me.  When others' promises fail- and my own fail- give me grace to rely on you.  You alone can keep your promises truly and purely.  




  

Friday, August 26, 2016

Boasting

12Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrityb and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 13For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, 14as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus. (2 Corinthians 1:12-14)

Thoughts: The Sophists were common Greek philosophers and teachers that taught rhetoric but without virtue.  They could teach deception (which is what "sophistry" means today).  They would often boast more than they really knew or were.  In contrast to this, Paul was careful that He boasts only of what God is doing through him.  Paul was not trying to impress (like the Sophists), but trying to be a person of integrity and sincerity who meant what he said and says what he means.  Instead of boasting of ourselves, we seek to boast in and of the Lord.  All glory goes to Him.  Our pride is not in ourselves but in the Lord and even in each other (vs. 14).  

Prayer: Lord, help me to understand and boast in you.  You are worthy of all glory, honor, and strength.  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Prayer for Deliverance

8We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,a about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:8-11)

Thoughts: Paul is praising God as the Deliverer.  He delivered Paul out of many troubles and Paul knew He would help him through many more.  Paul also believed God's grace was poured on him in answer to their prayers. We need to pray for our brothers and sisters in other places who are oppressed- that God would deliver them.  In the end, God always delivers- even from the shadow of death.

Prayer: Lord, we remember those who are in prison for the faith.  We ask you deliverance for them.  You are the one who gives hope when there is no hope.  You set the prisoner free.  Deliver us all from fear, oppression, and death.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Purpose in Comfort

 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:4-7)

Thoughts: One of the purposes of God's comforting us is that we may be able to help others, steering them to the God of all Comfort.  Our comfort is not just so that we would be comfortable- that is not the greatest purpose in life.  So our sufferings and distress are sometimes so we may be able to sympathize, empathize, and point to the One who can help each of us.  It would be an interesting life if Christians did not suffer but the rest of the world did.  Some think in this direction.  They believe that when you become a Christian you are so blessed by God that nothing bad should happen to you.  But, while God is able to help, comfort, and bless- God does not want us to always avoid suffering.  Suffering can sharpen us like iron sharpening iron.  Suffering can shut a door that would take us down the wrong path.  Sometimes we can suffer so that others would be set free from suffering (Like Jesus on the cross or the old story of Peter and the dike).  Sometimes suffering teaches us lessons and priorities- like burning off the dross from gold or silver.  But sometimes suffering comes so that we can teach other people where comfort lies and how to patiently endure suffering.  The incarnation is about God coming down to comfort us with salvation and hope.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to see the value in both suffering and comfort.  Help me to point others to you the great Comforter.   

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Suffering and Comfort

 5For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:5)

Thoughts: We share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, and we share abundantly in Christ's comfort.  The Greek translated as "abundantly"is clearer as "overflow."  This is not just saying we will have pain and blessing as Christ did.  It is saying that the comfort of Christ will overflow to us.  There will be tears- but He will wipe every tear away.  This is an important part of Christ's message.  The suffering here will not compare to the comfort and glory we will have in abundance with Him.  There is always hope in the worst of suffering for those who believe.  Do not let your disappointments in life and the sins of life change or degrade your faith.  For the sufferings do not compare to the comfort and glory.  The glorious healing is far better than the suffering just as the resurrection is greater than the cross. 

Prayer: Lord, give me hope and comfort.  Give me grace to have hope and perseverance in my sufferings as Christ did.  

Monday, August 22, 2016

Comfort from the Comforter

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Thoughts: Jesus called the Holy Spirit the "Comforter" (parakletos).  Literally, "The one who comes alongside to help."  We know that Jesus came alongside to help us-- that is the hope of the incarnation of Christ.  But here we see that the Father is the Father of compassion.  He is caring and sympathetic.  In fact, the claim is that all true comfort comes from Him.  The comfort of God is the healing that goes beyond what any medicine, salve, exercise, or doctor can give.  It is the comfort that goes down to the soul.  Jesus once said, "Come to me you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest for your soul."  The healing of Jesus came from within.  So he tells the man who is lame (Mt. 9), before he is enabled to walk, "Your sins are forgiven."   God comforts us when no one else can.
     One of the great reasons God comforts us- is not just that we should be comfortable.  He comforts us so we may comfort others.  The person who has had cancer and has been helped by God, can help others with the help they have received from God.  


Prayer: Lord, give me grace to see your comforting hand that I might comfort others.