Godly Jealousy

2 Corinthians 11 

“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 11:2)

The CSB version says “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy.” So what is a divine or godly jealousy? Jealousy in and of itself is usually not very pretty. I have seen people do some pretty crazy things because they were jealous. I have probably done some pretty crazy things because of being jealous. It is not pretty in the person who is jealous and it usually does not end well. However a godly jealousy or a divine jealousy is a different story. Paul is telling the Corinthians that he has a godly or divine jealousy for them. It is stated many times in the Bible that God is a jealous God. So what does that even mean? When you have a godly jealousy for someone else like Paul has for the Corinthians, it means you want them to have all the riches and blessings that you also experience in Christ. It means that thoughts for another persons soul is consuming you. When I think of a jealous person, that person is usually consumed with another person. Their thought life is consumed with what the other person is doing and who they may be with. Godly jealousy can work in much the same way but the consuming thought is for the person to come to know Christ. Godly jealousy has the other persons best interest in mind, whereas human jealousy, while they are thinking of the other person, they are truly only thinking of that person in relation to themself. I’m afraid that we have forgotten what it is like to have a godly jealousy for anyone. It seems the world, or at least Christians in the world have adopted a live and let live attitude. Don’t get me wrong that probably comes from the fact that we have been told not to “shove our christianity down the throat of others.” We are persecuted for being intolerant, we have allowed ourselves to be silenced in the name of appearing loving and accepting of others. Can you imagine if Paul had been silenced? 

Paul spends the majority of this chapter defending his apostolic credentials AGAIN to the Corinthians. It seems to me that Paul has had to do this over and over while we have been studying 1 and 2 Corinthians. Could we not make a correlation to the Corinthians to people of today? How many people out there would like to silence us and would like to see our credentials over and over again. The Corinthians judged people by their outward appearance. They would choose the best and the brightest star simply by the way they looked. Again, Paul was apparently not considered a very handsome fellow to look at and he was apparently not necessarily an eloquent speaker either. But he knew Jesus! And he wanted others to know Jesus! While studying I ran across a little story I would like to tell you. 

“A story is told about a dinner party where the guests were expected to stand after the meal and recite something for the group. A famous actor was present, and he recited the twenty-third Psalm with great dramatic flair and emotion, and sat down to great applause. Then a very simple man got up and began to recite the same Psalm. He wasn’t very eloquent, so at first people thought it was a little funny. But his presentation was straight from his heart, so when he finished the group sat in respectful silence. It was obvious that the simple man’s presentation was more powerful than the actor’s, and afterwards the actor told him: ‘I know the Psalm, but you know the Shepherd.’”

Paul may not have been the most eloquent speaker, but he knew the Shepherd. Paul defends his credentials with the Corinthians. When you read and you think of some of the things Paul went through to preach the gospel you really would think he was some sort of strong warrior type. But I guess one thing I have learned through studying 1 and 2 Corinthians is Paul was just a man. We can tend to put him on a pedestal and I guess I had not given his appearance much thought before this book. But he was a very simple looking and, even though he was highly educated in many ways, a simple man. But he was a man who kept his mission foremost in his mind. 

Oh to be more like Paul and to keep the mission foremost in my mind. To be bold no matter what others may think or say about me. To have a godly jealousy burn within me for others to know my Jesus! Lord Jesus I want to be more like that. 

Please pray for the small business owners and the service industry today! 


2 Corinthians 10 

Paul addresses some of the conflict that he has with the Corinthian Christians in this chapter. Or at least some of the Corinthian Christians. It seems some of them have a problem with the fact that when Paul is with them, he appears to be gentle and meek with them. But when he writes his letters to them, he speaks boldly and with confidence. Paul is telling them in verse 2 that he doesn’t want to have to speak to them so boldly face to face but that if that is what they want he will. Verses 3-6 are some of my favorite verses in the Bible. 

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

We all walk in the flesh, we are flesh and blood human beings. Paul is talking to them in ways they can understand when he tells them this. Our “war” however, when we become Christians becomes more inward, in our minds, than it is outward. The outward sins that we commit may be a problem, but they are a result of what is going on in our minds. However, once we have Christ and are walking with Christ, we then have the power to destroy the strongholds going on in our minds. How? By staying in the word, by reading the word. By spending time in prayer and asking the Lord to guide us daily while we are walking in the flesh, by tapping into God’s peace and by reminding ourselves of God’s truths. 

I know that if I do not spend time in prayer and have my time with Jesus daily, the battlefield that starts in my mind can be overwhelming. The thoughts that start creeping in, can overtake my worries, and my attitude. I will start perceiving everyone as against me. I start thinking, nobody likes me and I am just a nobody. Well truthfully, nobody does like me when I get to the bottom of that pit but when I take captive all of those thoughts I realize how could they, because truthfully, I don’t even like myself. These verses remind me that I need to stay in the word and I need to take captive all of those negative thoughts, feelings and emotions, compare them to the knowledge of God and who I am in Christ and walk according to who I am and not necessarily according to how I feel! 

“Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s so also are we.” (2 Corinthians 10:7) 

The commentary that I read, stated that Paul was probably a small man in stature and was not necessarily a very good looking man. The Corinthians may have felt that his physical smallness, contributed to his meekness and gentleness when they did see him face to face. Maybe, and these are my thoughts, they were shocked when they saw him face to face the first time. You know how you talk with someone on the phone that you have never seen before, but in your mind you formulate a picture of how you think they will look. Well possibly Paul’s boldness in his letters caused them to formulate a picture of a strong, tall possibly good looking man and when they saw him, he was nothing like what they had pictured. Paul is telling them not to look at outward appearances. But to remember that though just as you are confident you are in Christ, remember, so are we. He is talking about himself and the others who ministered with him. 

In the rest of this chapter Paul is reminding them that although he is boasting in his letters and that his letters may be strong in their language, that his boasting and his letters are only meant to build them up and they are not meant to destroy them as people. Paul, is basically telling them that he will not be ashamed of how he speaks to them, whether in person or by letter. That they may be perceiving it as different but what he says is always the same. Paul has one goal in mind and that is to win others to Christ. Paul does not do what he does to win people to himself or to build himself up. 

“‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18)

Paul’s boasting is always in the Lord and not in himself. 

Lord, help us to only boast in You! Oh Lord, sometimes it’s hard to take captive our thoughts and not to worry about what others think or say about us. But Lord, please help us to do just that. Help us Lord to remember that we can do that so much easier when we are spending our time with You. 

Please pray for your pastors and your churches. And also today, please pray for the people in Louisiana and East Texas who are in the path of the storm. 

Cheerful Givers

2 Corinthians 9

“Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them.” (2 Corinthians 9:1-2) 

Paul is continuing his conversation about giving to the Corinthians. It is believed that Paul may be speaking sarcastically here to the Corinthians because he is giving them more instruction, however he is telling them that while he is giving them the instruction it really is unnecessary because he just knows that they are ready to give. He goes on to tell them that he will send Titus and the other fellow on to pick up their offering. He wants to save them the embarrassment of not having it ready if he waited until they had Macedonians with them to pick it up. 

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

I know we have all heard God loves a cheerful giver. Paul is explaining to them that if they don’t give abundantly they will not receive the blessings of abundant giving. But God wants them to give from their heart, not out of compulsion or just because Paul says so. But that if they can find it in their heart to give, God is able, and he will bless them with his grace. Have you ever explored that thought? God blesses our giving in many different ways. Sometimes it is a spiritual blessing where we just feel better about ourselves or our circumstances. It’s not something you can always explain. And sometimes it is a material blessing, that what we have given multiplies and we are amazed at what the return is. I had something like that happen years ago, as a young woman. I had a job where I really was barely making enough money to make ends meet. I mean they were just barely meeting month to month and I needed a new job. Yet, I truly felt convicted to begin tithing which I was not doing at the time. So I took my 10% out to tithe and I prayed really really hard over that tithe. A few weeks later, after applying for some other jobs I had an interview scheduled and I truly did not have enough gas in my car to get to my interview that afternoon. I had no idea what I would do. When the mail ran I walked out to the mailbox still wondering how I would get to my interview, and there was an insurance refund check in my mailbox for enough to cover my gas money and a little for groceries for that month. I was stunned. I went to the interview and I got the job which almost doubled my salary at the time. Now some people may call that coincidence, but I knew that God had blessed me with that check at just the right time which in turn blessed me with the job making more money. 

“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:10-11)

It’s a cycle, God supplies us with the seed, with jobs, and our means to make a living and when we give back, he multiplies our blessings which produces gratefulness in us which makes us want to give more, which makes us more and more thankful! 

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

We thank you God for your Son, and for your blessings! We are grateful for what you have given, what you do for us, for all of the blessings that you bestow upon us as we give back to You! 

Please pray for the educators and the students today. No one really knows what to expect and everyone really is doing the best they can. 

Common Goals

2 Corinthians 8

Paul begins this chapter encouraging the Corinthian christians in their giving. Paul had been collecting money to give to the christians in Jerusalem because they were very poor. Paul uses the example of the Macedonian christians, who were not only giving, but they gave willingly and with joy out of their own poverty. 

“We want you to know brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints. (2 Corinthians 8:1-4)

Paul calls the giving that the Macedonian christians the “grace of God”. He points out that they gave out of the abundance of their joy, that even though they were poor they gave above and beyond their means, actually begging Paul to take what they had to give rather than the other way around. Paul had mentioned giving to the Corinthians back in 1 Corinthians 16 but possibly because of the falling out that they had had with him, they had become lax in their giving. 

Paul also does not want it to seem like a command to give, but that he wants them to do it out of the grace that they know from Jesus. It appears in verse 10 that the Corinthians had at one time had the desire to give and he wants them to finish well what they have started. He is not asking them to give to the point of burdening themselves but it has been very clear that the Corinthians had abundance and he is asking them to give out of their abundance. 

The second part of this chapter seems to be simply Paul’s commissioning of Titus and someone else who remains unnamed to return to the Corinthians. There are plenty of speculations as to who it could have been but scripture never states his name. Titus apparently had a heart for the Corinthians as it states in verse 16. 

“But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. (2 Corinthians 8:16) 

Titus was excited about going back to the Corinthians and Paul is glad that Titus cares as much for them as he does. Titus had obviously made a connection with the Corinthians and he desired to go back. I love how Paul seems excited that Titus is for the Corinthians. To me studying parts of Corinthians has been a little frustrating because you don’t really see Paul make a connection with them. He has a heart for them and he loves them but they seem to frustrate him. I love how Paul passes the baton so to speak to Titus when he sees their connection. He doesn’t point out the negativities that he has felt with them. Quite the contrary, he points out the things he does love about them and desires to build them up to Titus. I wonder how many times I have run across someone who felt a connection with a person that knew and maybe I didn’t see eye to eye with and instead of building that relationship up, I pointed out some negative that maybe did nothing but tear down. I want to be better about that. You know the bottom line is we aren’t going to always connect with everyone. Personalities are all different, but you may connect and it be a beautiful relationship. But I know I have been guilty of letting the big old green eyed monster in. I love how Paul was so good about being all in for the common goal. 

Lord, I pray help me to be about the common goal and not tear others down. Lord, even if I have people I don’t see eye to eye with I pray help me to see the best in them. Help me to see them through your eyes.

Please pray for medical professionals today. 

Godly Grief produces Repentance

2 Corinthians 7

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Paul has just addressed our bodies being the temple of God in chapter 6. It seems to me that he was pretty much addressing outward sins, sins against the flesh in chapter 6. However, he is here addressing not only sins of the flesh but sins of the spirit. Lest we get all holier than thou and think well I don’t have trouble with some of those fleshly sins so I must be ok, we all have trouble with sins of the spirit. I believe that will always be a constant struggle as long as we have breath in our bodies. But that doesn’t excuse us from working on it. Ohhh how many times does my mind wander away to things that, well I would not want to admit to anyone. I have a war going on in my mind all the time about thoughts I have against myself as well as against others. Yet, Paul is saying that with God we have the ability to cleanse ourselves, cleanse our minds and bring holiness to completion. (But please know that it is a constant thing, not a one time thing.) 

This letter takes a more positive turn where the Corinthians are concerned in this chapter. We have seen in most of these chapters that Paul is admonishing the Corinthians for wanting to remain in their lifestyles even though they had accepted Jesus. They wanted to straddle the fence so to speak. But in this chapter Paul has been encouraged by Titus who had been to see the Corinthians and is delivering word to Paul that the Corinthians received him well when he visited them and that they were grieved somewhat by Paul’s letter but that it was a godly grief which brings repentance. 

“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)

Paul has found the perfect balance when he is admonishing the Corinthians. It is so hard to find that balance. We tend to either want to turn our head and pretend that the problem doesn’t exist in someone’s life or to shame someone or worse cut them off completely because of the sin in their life. Now mind you I am talking about those who are stronger in their walk. As said before if someone is still struggling with a sin, they will more than likely need to separate themselves for at least a time to gain strength. But understand shame never brings about godly grief. Just being sorry about something can produce shame or resentment or bitterness. But repentance turns back toward God. Many people think they have to repent in order to come to God. Spurgeon says “Repentance describes the very act of coming to God.” We are supposed to turn to God and then allow Him to cleanse us. We have to come to Him in order to be washed in the blood and that is the only way to cleanse us from sin. 

Paul is leaving the Corinthians in this chapter with some encouraging words. 

“For whatever boasts I made to him about you, I was not put to shame. But just as everything we said to you was true, so also our boasting before Titus has proved true. And his affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. I rejoice because I have complete confidence in you.” (2 Corinthians 7:14-16)

Paul is so proud of them. Even though the Corinthians had many struggles, Paul had built them up to Titus. He was so proud of the fact that the Corinthians received him well and received his instructions well too. I have often heard, speak into someone what you want them to become. While Paul has admonished and corrected them over and over, right here he is telling them he has complete confidence in them. It’s just like children respond better to praise than they do to criticism. That doesn’t give us a free ticket not to correct, however when they act right and anytime correction can be coupled with confidence and praise, they will respond better. 

Oh Lord, help us to be cleansed from sins of the spirit as well as sins of the flesh. Lord, help us too if someone in our midst needs correction to bring it to You for guidance first so that if we must say something that we say it in a way to produce godly grief and not just sorrow which leads nowhere. 

Please pray for our government, for our President, Vice President and those making decisions that affect us all. Also for our state and local government. 

Unequally yoked

2 Corinthians 6

“Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold now is the favorable time; behold now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

Paul saw himself as a coworker with Jesus. He is making this appeal to the Corinthians not to “receive the grace of God in vain.” I bet Paul felt like he was banging his head on a brick wall with these Corinthians. They had received Jesus, yet it seems from these letters they didn’t want to do anything to change for Jesus. They wanted to go on living the way they always had. They wanted to do things their own way and they criticized Paul when he tried to give them direction and instruction. It’s so hard to watch someone who is making the same mistakes over and over and they say I’m sorry, but they never do anything to make the changes needed. I think that’s sort of what Paul was feeling here. He quotes them scripture and then he tells them the time is now. Paul goes on in the next few verses and lays it out. He tells them everything he has endured, but he also in the same breath tells them all the blessings he has received from God. Paul had been through a lot but Paul counted all the bad stuff right alongside all the good stuff! 

“We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians: our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13)

Paul tells them I have opened my heart to you, I have spoken freely to you, I have not held anything back, yet the Corinthians seem to be the ones holding back. He wants them to open their hearts to him and to what he has told them. The Corinthians wanted to do it their way, yet they were having such a hard time seeing their way had not worked yet. 

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Bellial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them and walk among them and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’” (2 Corinthians has 6:14-16)

This is a pretty popular verse and while most of us tend to use it in relation to marriage, it can also be used in relation to life. But what about being in the world and not of it? Aren’t we supposed to co-mingle with unbelievers so that they will see Jesus in us? Yes we are but, there is a line that we still should not cross with unbelievers. That line should be drawn when it comes to marriage, but also to partnerships. Whether in business and sometimes even friendships, if only for a season. Christians are supposed to be set apart. However, Christians should walk mostly among other Christians to be strengthened in their walk and in their faith before they branch out into the world. You must learn to walk in the light uprightly before you can bring light into the darkness. If a person is struggling with a particular sin, it would not be wise for that person to walk amongst unbelievers who are participating in that sin with the excuse of being in the world and not of it. Paul wanted these Corinthians to realize that they could not continue to be influenced by the world. Sometimes you have to physically separate yourself from influences to learn how to not allow those influences in your own life. Then, if at some point it is not a struggle for you, then you can walk among the world, but only after you have learned how to be separate from the world. Remember the Ministry of Reconciliation we talked about. You can’t be reconciled to God and continue to live in sin. God will not bless a lifestyle of sin. We all sin, but are we striving to become who God wants us to be. Or are we comfortable remaining in the sin? 

“Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

Oh Lord we pray help us to see ourselves as your temple, as your dwelling place. Help us to not be influenced by this world but to be a light for a dark world. 

Please pray for the small business owners and people in the service industry.

Stand in Holy Awe

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God and I hope it is known also to your conscience.” (2 Corinthians 5:11) 

I loved how The Passion Translation put this verse:

“Since we are those who stand in holy awe of the Lord, we make it our passion to persuade others to turn to him. We know that our lives are transparent before the God who knows us fully, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences.” (2 Corinthians 5:11 TPT)

Do you stand in holy awe of the Lord? If you find that you have become complacent in your holy awe of Him, ask Him to help you to find it. And then you take steps to see Him. Take in a sunrise or a sunset. Look for Him in your every day mundane things of life. Look at the world and His earth in wonder. Look into the eyes of a child. Take in the tiny hands and feet of a newborn baby and then look at your own and be awed by His creation and how we grow. I look at my big, grown up sons sometimes and I am in awe that I carried these creations in my womb. When you stand in holy awe of Him, you become more passionate for Him and you want to persuade others for Him too. 

It seems to me that Paul continues to have to give his credentials or defend his ministry to these Corinthians. Well here he goes again. These Corinthians liked the outward appearances and Paul did not fit the bill for them. Paul is defending himself and giving them the words to answer to others about him. 

“We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind it is for you.” (2 Corinthians 5:12-13)

Just like with David, God chose David as King of Israel because of his heart, not his outward appearance. Paul is telling them not to boast in outward appearances and I am taking it that we all need to be careful about boasting in outward appearances. Paul is basically telling them, if you think I’m crazy it’s because I’m crazy for God, if I do things for outward appearances that would be for you. I love the next verses. 

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who might live no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 14-15)

Oh that I would let the love of Christ control me! I don’t want to just live for myself and for what others might think of me. I want to live for the one who died and rose again for me! 

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-17) 

Paul gives reference here to Christ when he was in the flesh but He is no longer in the flesh. And when we are found in Him, we are not regarded as “in the flesh” either. God sent Jesus to earth in order to reconcile us to Himself and in that he gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That right there, is what it is all about.  Christ came to earth so that he could take on our sins and we could be reconciled to God. Paul is imploring the Corinthians and us, through God’s word to be reconciled to God. 

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Jesus was the sinless son of God. We have no way to be sinless. Sin is not a learned behavior, we come into this world as sinners, yet Christ bore every sin we have ever committed on the cross and because of that, if we let Him make us new in Him God sees us as righteousness, not the sinners we are! 

Oh sweet Lord, thank you for loving me and I pray that I will live and walk in Your righteousness, not in a way to give others cause to boast but only to be controlled by Your love!  

Please pray for your Pastor and your church today!

Take Aim

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

This chapter has so much good stuff we are going to talk about it in 2 days. 

Paul continues to build on what he talked about in Chapter 4 when he touched on the glory of heaven compared to our afflictions on earth. He starts out talking about our earthly bodies. He talked about how our bodies are decaying, wasting away. But here he compares our earthly bodies to a tent. 

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)

Paul says that in this tent we groan. In other words, as said before, life is hard. We are still here and we groan, we are burdened, and we find ourselves longing for better. What we are longing for is heaven. But while we are here and enduring the trials and tribulations of life that is what is preparing us for what comes next. And He has given us the Holy Spirit as a “guarantee” a down payment if you will to what is next. 

“He who has prepared us for this very thing is God who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 5:5)

The Holy Spirit was given to us to help us live this life here on earth. The Holy Spirit in us is what gives us courage or confidence to walk out this life on earth. 

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-7)

We walk by faith, not by sight. The faith that we have in Christ, and the Holy Spirit in us gives us courage. Paul was longing for heaven, he truly lived a life after his conversion that was constantly looking forward to being with Jesus. I wonder sometimes do we truly live a life that is looking forward to being with Jesus? I know there have been times in my life that I would have to say no. And even now, if Jesus asked me, I would selfishly say no, I’m not ready Lord, I want to see my grandchildren grow up, I want to see more grandchildren, I want to stay here. But in my heart, yes, I do long to see Jesus face to face when it is my time. 

“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so the each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10)

Our aim is to please Him. Walking by faith, and longing for heaven should be done in a way that our total aim is to please Jesus. Paul was truly longing for heaven, and while yes my longing is to be in heaven one day, I want to while I am here on earth do as Paul did and make it my aim to please Him. Paul goes on here to say that we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. What we have done with our salvation and did we walk by faith and not by sight will be judged in heaven, so as to receive what is due for what we have done. We will be rewarded for those things that we did right. We are not saved by our works but our salvation is what motivates our works. We aim toward heaven so we will receive the reward in heaven. 

Lord Jesus I pray that I will always keep my aim toward heaven. I pray Lord that I will be of good courage and I will walk by faith and not by sight. 

Please pray for the educators and the students today. Lord as we return to school, help us to stay safe. 

Don’t Lose Heart

2 Corinthians 4

“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.” (2 Corinthians 4:1)

Paul recognizes immediately in this chapter that he does ministry only because of the mercy of God. And even though his life of ministry is hard, he does not lose heart. He goes on in verses 2 – 4 to explain this. I am sure that in his day and we have seen it in our days too, there are “ministers” who “tamper with God’s word”. There are those who use practices, or they water it down to try to sensationalize the word of God to try to attract more people. But watering it down or adding to it is not what any minister is called to do. Paul says he had renounced underhanded ways and that he would not tamper with God’s word no matter how much that seemed more attractive to the Corinthians. Paul goes on to say that those who can’t see the truth of God’s word are looking at it as though they are looking through a veil. He states that the “god of this world” is the one who is keeping them blind to the gospel. Satan has very crafty ways to keep unbelievers blind to the gospel. And Paul is recognizing this with these statements. It’s very frustrating when you know someone who is not “getting it”. But when you stand back and you see that it is Satan who is keeping them blind, it can change the way you pray for them. We must pray that God will penetrate the veil that Satan is blinding them with. 

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:5-6)

Paul did not stand before the Corinthians or any group for that matter to preach himself. Paul’s only goal was to preach Jesus and to let Jesus light shine through him. He wanted his life to matter in a way that was bringing glory to God. I wonder how he did that at times. It is human nature to want others to say good things about you. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of desiring human praise. Yet somehow Paul was able to keep his focus on Christ and on shining the light on Christ and not on himself. Paul worked at keeping himself humble but when you study his life you also see that Paul did not have an easy life, especially since his conversion experience. But he kept his focus on God’s glory and not on his own life. 

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair’ persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

Paul describes himself, and us as “jars of clay” or “earthen vessel” in some translations. Our bodies are breaking down day by day and they are nothing more than a vessel. Paul wanted them to see him as a weak vessel who was being used by God and anything good that came out of him was because of God’s power and not of himself. Paul describes some of his afflictions in general terms here, but he is letting them know that in his mind his afflictions are the way he shares in the suffering of Christ. He wanted everything he had gone through to be used by God so that Jesus life would be manifested in him. What does that even mean? 

We all go through trials, we all have things that happen to us that, well we would rather not have happened. The question is whether they will make us bitter or if they will make us better. To me this is hard to write, because while I have been through some stuff and a lot of it is not stuff I would want to put on repeat. I don’t have to look very far to find someone whose stuff is harder or worse than my stuff. And I don’t ever want to sound trite or “churchy” if you will. Life can be hard sometimes, I know it can. But I do believe that when you lay your “stuff” whatever that stuff may be, at the foot of the cross and you ask God to use it for his glory that he will. 

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Please do not let your “stuff” cause you to lose heart. The one thing you can count on is that the world is still turning, at least as I write this it is. Paul says “though our outer self is wasting away”, with every turn of the globe our bodies are decaying and our human selves are “wasting away” and that means that what we are going through today, what Paul calls our “light momentary affliction” is preparing us for “glory beyond all comparison”. In other words we can’t measure our afflictions against the world or against someone else afflictions. If we did we might lose heart. But the only way not to “lose heart” is if we renew ourselves every day by bringing them to the foot of the cross and weigh our afflictions by glory. What can God do to use the afflictions that we have that can outweigh them? If we hand it over to Him, and allow Him to use it and we keep our focus on Jesus only He and His glory can outweigh them. 

Oh Lord Jesus, please help us to bring You our stuff. Whatever is on our hearts and troubling us today Lord, we ask you to take it and use it for your glory so that the weight of it will not feel so heavy. 

Please pray today for our people in the medical field. From the ones working the desk or cleaning to the Doctors and the Nurses who are taking care of our patients and all the ones in between! 

Glory to Glory

2 Corinthians 3 

I’m not sure why Paul is starting this chapter with questions. 

“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts to be known and read by all.” (2 Corinthians 3:1-2) 

But if I were guessing I would say that it could be these fickle Corinthians we have been reading about and Paul has been ministering to. They have accepted Christ, yet they want to stay in their old ways, they want to know Paul’s credentials, they believe what he says, they ask questions, yet are they living the life they were called to? Knowing them as we now know them they may have asked for a letter of recommendation. So Paul here is telling them, I don’t need a letter of recommendation that they themselves and the changes they have made are his letter of recommendation. 

“And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:3)

Paul feels that the lives he has touched as well as the life he lives speak for themselves. He has spoken life to the Corinthians and tried to point them to living in the spirit and not from the letter of the law. Paul also knows and explains to them though that he knows that even though he is the one being used by God to speak into them that he would have no sufficiency in and of himself to do this on his own. That his sufficiency to speak life into them comes from God and that the life that they receive from his ministry comes from the Spirit. Paul wants them to realize, just like we have to realize that just living by the letter is not what brings life. 

“who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)

I love how Paul goes on to explain the glory of the ministry of the Spirit. He uses one of my favorite stories of Moses. When Moses spent time with God face to face and he would come down off the mountain to the presence of the Israelites, his face glowed so that the Israelites could not even look at him. He would have to cover his face with a veil to even be in their presence. Paul is saying that if the ministry of the letter of the law brought so much glory to Moses that the Israelites could not look at him, how much more glory should this ministry of the Spirit bring. We know that the law was fulfilled in Christ. Our lives are not supposed to be just wrapped up in the law, but in spending time with Christ, in letting the Spirit direct us and change us from the inside. The law brings death, condemnation, but Christ brings life!

“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold,” (2 Corinthians 3:12)

Paul’s boldness, and our boldness comes from the hope we have. Moses would have to put a veil over his face because of time spent with God, so that the Israelites could not gaze on what was fading. But the Israelites hung onto that and they still look through the veil. Christ took the veil away. 

“But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:16-18)

Turning to the Lord, removes the veil. Spending time with Him is what transforms us into His image. When you know someone who spends time with Him, it shows. Not that they have to use lofty words in their day to day life but there will be a glory that shows about them. Hopefully it is a glory that does not bring condemnation on people but that it is a glory that makes others want that they have. And that glory will only bring more glory “from one degree of glory to another”.

Lord Jesus may we spend time with you so that our faces will not be veiled but that they will behold Your glory! 

Please pray for our country, our government officials, and especially the upcoming election.