Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: 2 Corinthians

The ACTS Files – Repent therefore and turn back that your sins may be blotted out – Acts 3:17-26

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The ACTS Files – Repent therefore and turn back that your sins may be blotted out – Acts 3:17-26 – 05/09/2016

Acts 3:17 (ESV) “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article looks at an account where Peter and John went to pray and God used them in a mighty way. My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in chapter three verse seventeen…

V17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.

We come into this sermon midway through (beginning is at the following link) and Peter acknowledges that the order to kill Jesus by crucifixion was done without the knowledge of God’s eternal plan to redeem mankind. Peter explains this because although they are guilty of the blood of Jesus and they are guilty through their sin nature, God used that sin nature to achieve his will in this situation. The ignorance was taken into account but it still was sin.

V18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.

Despite their motives to get rid of Jesus it was all done that prophecy may be fulfilled and despite the best efforts of them as individuals they could not stop God and stop the will and plan of God. Christ, even in his sufferings fulfilled what was written of old about him.

V19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

Peter makes a call to repentance here and that is one of the things I love about many of the good pastors I listen to is that despite where the core verse in the bible they are teaching that they always come back to Jesus and repenting of your sins and the core tenants of the gospel message. Peter also does this and I think that is important because you may always get someone who has never heard the gospel listening to you for the first time and it is important that everything circles back to Jesus.

Peter repeats the call to repentance that he made in Acts 2:38 and calls them to take a u turn in their thinking and as Christians we all understand that because when I reflect on where I was, say 10 years ago then I fully understand about a Holy Spirit changed life. Repentance is not a bad thing because in Christ we have an assured hope that we did not have without Him. Peter is also asking that they be converted to follow Jesus to become that new creation and take advantage of God’s grace so their sins could be blotted out, erased and wiped off any record of our offense to God. What a glorious free gift this Salvation through Christ is!

Jesus will come back and rule the earth in the perfect form of monarchy and righteousness, if you are bummed about your choices for First Minister/President/Prime Minister (delete as appropriate) please be assured that a king is coming who is a glorious king who will have a 100% approval rating and will reign is grace honor and truth. That will be a time of refreshing and Peter goes as far as to say that if the nation repents then God would send Jesus Christ but until then Jesus will remain at the right hand of the Father until the restoration of all things. That Jesus would return and Eden’s curse would be lifted for evermore. This world will continue to get worse until that happens.

V22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’

Peter quotes Deuteronomy 18 which states the following…

Deuteronomy 18:15 (ESV) The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

And Peter was sure speaking their language because they delighted in their knowledge of the scriptures and loved to boast in the facts they knew of God, that danger is still there today as we become more “fact aware” about the bible and not allow it to permeate our heart. Peter ties in “the prophet” as being the Messiah Jesus Christ that they should indeed listen to and follow. Peter also advises verse 19 was unfolding before their very eyes and was a stark warning to the people at that time. It is true that those who reject Jesus whether they be Jew or Gentile would suffer the same fate.

V24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’

The message was consistent through all of the prophets that there would be a Messiah and as sons of the prophets they should have known better as descendants of their spiritual father Abraham that was promised in the book of Genesis and this alone was a real faith tester because Abraham wasn’t much change off of 100 years old and had no kids at that point. His wife was also well advanced in age and if that happened today it would be worldwide news.

If we look at the genealogies in the gospels you will see that the messiah came from the line of ABRAHAM! He was there to bless ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE WORLD. Yes us Gentiles too! First the Jews but also the adopted or grafted in branches to that natural root and that is why I have biblical reasons to doubt a replacement theology position because if we were the replacement to the natural root then the plant itself would not stand as there would be no foundation.

V26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.

And Peter confirms what I just said that Jesus was sent to the Jews first, to the ones who should have known better but the ones who reject the messiah will open the door by extension to the Gentile nations. Christ is a blessing and is an extension of God’s desire to bless his creation but he also desires first and foremost an intimacy with his creation and we have to be reconciled to God and trusting in Jesus to save you from your sins, the same is true for you dear reader today. I desire to see you as a dear brother or sister in heaven today and if you have not made that commitment then I desire that you do so because “now is the accepted time, today is God’s day of Salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter four verses one through twelve when we see the reaction of the captain of the temple and the Sadducees to what was preached that day. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

I refrained from visiting you in Corinth to save us both pain – 2nd Corinthians 1:23-2:4

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I refrained from visiting you in Corinth to save us both pain – 2nd Corinthians 1:23-2:4 – 05/05/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Corinthians, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. This is a great letter of exhortation and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure today. For other bible studies in 2nd Corinthians please click here and for other epistles please see our main epistle page.

2nd Corinthians 1:23 (ESV) But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

2nd Corinthians 2:1 (ESV) For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? 3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. 4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse twenty three of the first chapter of Second Corinthians.

V23 But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth.

In the last article we looked at pain and Paul continues that thought here. Paul continues as if he is presenting his case before a legal court and calls his next witness, Paul is not messing about when he calls upon the name of the Lord and I have heard people question this in relation to what Jesus said in Matthew 5.

Matthew 5:33 (ESV) Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

This is not a contradiction between Jesus and Paul as Jesus is referring to how we live our lives and to not make frivolous oaths and attaching God’s name where it has no business being attached as if to add credence to an argument that would not stand up on its own. Jesus was doing a lesson on Christian conduct and to avoid leading or misleading phrases and let your answers be definite and say what you mean and mean what you say. Paul is not doing anything wrong by saying this, he is merely showing how serious he is that he would be willing to have God testify against him and to demonstrate that he is being honest.

He did not come to Corinth because he was concerned for the people of Corinth. We do this today that if we have our own “version of things” based on a rumor or an innuendo that may have a small grain of truth in it but it has been blown all out of proportion. The assumption was that Paul had been avoiding Corinth or not coming for some other undisclosed selfish reason or perhaps Paul did not want to spend time with them. Paul sets the record straight by stating that it was for their own good that he did not come and we read why in verse 24 through verse 4 of chapter 2.

24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

Paul states clearly that as an apostle he is not the lord over them. Instead he gives a decent example of what he was to them, he was a worker, a fellow worker and desired to see the people having joy in the Lord and for them to stand firm in their faith and again it does seem obvious to point out but that was why he was writing to them and some of the best leaders I have seen in the modern day church are the ones who are excited about discipleship and mentoring because they understand the value of a good sermon as the most poignant sermon you will ever teach is the witness of your life to someone else, that will have more power than a thousand sermons with the best exegesis and the most correct doctrine.

Chapter 2 V1 For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained?

Paul continues in verse one of chapter two and is still defending himself against accusations we have not seen but having read the words of Paul I see his great love and heart for those who accuse him. Yes he is defending himself but he explains that it was for their good that he made the choices he did. I get that they were disappointed and who hasn’t been bummed if something hasn’t worked out when we hoped it would but Paul is showing that he wasn’t being flaky or lying when he made his original plans, he made a conscious choice to hold himself back from Corinth at that time.

He chose to not come there because he would cause them pain which tells me that the most recent visit was uncomfortable as Paul would have had to deal with some truths that they did not want to hear and Paul did not wish to further discourage them so soon. This tells me more about the health of the church than it does about Paul. Paul wanted to allow them opportunities to deal internally with the acts that would grieve Paul.

On the flip side of this would be if Paul was to return with an iron fist and smash the spirit of the church and cause sorrow then they in turn would not be receiving of him. That more conflict or berating would really damage the ability to help them as they may not receive from him in the future and the relationship could be irrevocably damaged. There would not be much fellowship and Paul would not be energized by the fellowship from Corinth.

We could learn from that in the modern church as I have seen firsthand a heavy handed attitude from leadership in churches that have not given enough space to a believer who was in sin. They expected too much too soon and there was a real lack of grace shown and that damaged the sinner’s relationship with not just that church but many churches and that person stayed away from any fellowship and embraced the world for a period of eight years because of that one man. I speak on this from a personal level and I know it is the truth because that sinner was me!

V3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all.

And this is why they are getting a letter as opposed to a visit, the letter would allow Paul the opportunity to lay out his heart behind his actions and not be interrupted as well as allow a record to be kept of what Paul was requesting that they pray about (don’t worry that is coming later in the letter) repent of and get on the right track with God. For me this shows amazing wisdom and discernment that he was concerned with what may be received better for their relationship with Jesus first and foremost and secondarily and nowhere near as important, the relationship with Paul.

The letter was good because it removes the “elephant from the room” and makes aware what is required of them by the time that he returns and get the medicine taken first in order for the spiritual recuperation to be allowed. Paul wanted to enjoy his time there and wanted to be an encouragement rather than a chastiser, this letter was hurting Paul as much to write as it would be painful to read and we see that in verse 4.

V4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

This was truly painful for Paul and he was not enjoying doing this, there are much more encouraging letters that he would rather write. We read here that it was done so with much anguish and many tears and he was trying not to grieve or cause pain but show that he loved them so much that he wanted them to get it right.

How they receive this is totally up to the recipient, they would either “take it on the chin”, pray about it and seek God’s confirmation that Paul was indeed correct as a mature Christian would do and take the correction as a learning experience that was given in the love that Paul writes to them or they would get annoyed at Paul and refuse to be taught by him, hold a grudge, spread malicious rumors or defame his name amongst the brethren. My hope and prayer is that they did the former.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Corinthians we will look at chapter two verses five through eleven where Paul continues his thought on hurt and extols the Corinthian church to be a forgiving church. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Paul’s change of travel plans – 2nd Corinthians 1:12-22

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Paul’s change of travel plans – 2nd Corinthians 1:12-22 – 04/21/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Corinthians, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. This is a great letter of exhortation and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure today. For other bible studies in 2nd Corinthians please click here and for other epistles please see our main epistle page.

2nd Corinthians 1:12 (ESV) For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 13 For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand— 14 just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you. 15 Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse twelve of the first chapter of Second Corinthians.

V12 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.

Paul uses words like “testimony of our conscience” and it seems like he is defending himself from accusations that have been made against him. Paul states his integrity and gives an account of himself that states that he has acted in a manner that was simple and everything he did was with godly sincerity and by the grace of God and was for their benefit. As we read here in this article Paul has had to change plans and not come to them as quickly as he had stated previously and perhaps this perturbed or angered them and he has had to come up with a defense for why it was the will of God to not be there when they desired. He did state at the end of First Corinthians the following…

1st Corinthians 16:5 (ESV) I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, 6 and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

It is likely that it was these travel plans that he had to reconsider on. We have to realize the Corinthian culture of carnality and that they were used to people not being honest and in the culture that they lived in they did not have a good reputation and people were unreliable so they assumed that Paul was just like that, Paul had to contend that he wasn’t.

V13 For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand— 14 just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.

Paul states that there was no hidden agenda, he wrote in terms that the everyday guy would understand and that is needed in the church, too often we like to tie ourselves up with our “holy words” and if I do that then please know that I do not mean to, my heart is to make the gospel accessible to everyone and that is also why I wrote the “Christianese” page on the blog. There was no double meanings, there was no “saying this but meaning that” Paul was a plain talker and said what he meant and meant what he said. I love folks like that because they are refreshing as long as they refine it and say such things in love.

V15 Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea.

Paul shows his heart to still come to them; his desire is still to serve them as the Lord leads. He had originally planned to go there twice visiting Macedonia in the interim and allow them to be the sending church for him to go to Judea as he wanted to give them a second blessing and we see why in Second Corinthians chapter 2:1-4 and again in chapters 5 and 7 why it was difficult.

17 Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes.

Paul goes through the deliberations that caused him to choose to go or choose to not go, Paul states clearly that he does not make his plans according to the flesh and does not interchange yes and no, he wasn’t doing it lightly and was planning according to where God was sending him. You can be assured that if he planned in the flesh then he would be likely to only choose the easy places to go to, the places to where he would be well received, Paul never did that and did not shirk from the “hard work” or persecution of the gospel. Paul writes this letter to quell their disappointment and explain why he took the actions he did.

Paul uses an absolute standard, he invokes the name of God, not in a blasphemous way or a way that would cause criticism but he advises that as God is faithful so was his word. That as Jesus follower he was speaking the truth and that he was not trying to schmooze them or be deceitful. Paul had counted himself alongside Christ in his integrity because he knew that he was a man of integrity. He was looking for the Corinthian church to not just trust the messenger but trust the message, that Paul was a man who had a life changing experience on the road to Damascus and wanted them to consider what he said to be trustworthy. Would you trust the words from a preacher you didn’t trust?

20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee

Jesus was the answer to all the promises of God! Jesus was the Yes in the promises of God, what rich theology in ten short words. Jesus and the Father were on one mission and were unified in purpose and that is why we are assured that God the father would always affirm what the Son says. Paul confirms his calling is from God, commissioned by God, established in Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit.

We are listed as anointed and sealed and here is what that means below…

  • Anointed – a preparing, a commissioning, an empowering for service and we all have a role to play in the kingdom of God, we won’t all be in the pulpits but we all have a dynamic role to play in helping people find Jesus. In Old Testament times the anointed ones were kings, prophets, priests and we share that same commission.
  • Sealed – We are identified with Christ and even when we take the name Christian we are calling ourselves ones who are following Christ.
  • Guaranteed – We have been given the Holy Spirit as a down payment or guarantee for the fullness of what God can do. God is investing in us on a daily basis, are we doing what we can to grow as Christians?

As Christians it is okay to be disappointed (even at holy things like the Corinthians are here) but we have to give our leaders the benefit of the doubt and show grace and I pray that if I am in the situation that the Corinthian church was in I would show the Paul in my life more grace than they showed him. I probably have been in this situation and I probably have blown it in the past. I pray I do better next time should the Lord be willing.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Corinthians we will look at chapter one verse twenty three through chapter two verse four when we look at part two of Paul’s explanation of his travel plans. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus – 2nd Timothy 2:1-8

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You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus – 2nd Timothy 2:1-8 – 04/15/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Timothy, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to Timothy who was in the Ephesian church. This is called a Pastoral Epistle and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure and also for choosing leaders in the church. For other bible studies on other epistles please see our main epistle page or for others in 2nd Timothy please click on this link.

2nd Timothy 2:1 (ESV) You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the second chapter of Second Timothy.

V1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Paul starts his exhortation by telling Timothy to “be strengthened” and as a young teacher myself I understand the premise behind what Paul is saying here and that Timothy would need to be strengthened to fulfil what God had called him to do. Paul is faithful in his work as encourager and mentor and there will be times in our lives where we are the encourager and conversely there will be times that we will be required to be encouraged.

One thing we have to realize is that we serve the God who wants to supply all that we need and should we need strength to complete a task then he is always available. I have found many times in my life that God will allow me to try things in my own strength to show me that I am not enough or that I need him and his strength. Let’s look at a passage in Isaiah…

Isaiah 40:28 (ESV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

God gives power to the faint; they will rise up with wings like eagles. As usual I do wish to look at an epistle and I know I quote this all the time but let’s also look at Ephesians 6…

Ephesians 6:10 (ESV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

We have to remember that although God makes his strength available to us as stated above we also have to rely on him instead of our own strength. Then Paul goes on to say that “be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” that the strength in grace is absolute in order to fulfil the calling that God has you do. In the last year from stepping into ministry I have a new found respect for full time members of the clergy and I understand when some pastors say things like “my job as a pastor was getting in the way of the ministry” because when you are the one people are looking to for answers there carries a responsibility and it is true that “to much is given and much is required” (Luke 12:35-48) and that we have to be strengthened in Christ’s grace as it is a burden as well as a calling. Please do not think I complain as I am blessed more than I can talk about.

God will supply all that his children need, we have that love, favor and grace and despite whether we have earned or deserve anything that God benevolently gives us we understand that through the grace of God is where we can draw our strength. I am reminded of the song…

“I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”

Paul describes his dealings with grace through problems in his second letter to the church in Corinth…

2 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV) So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What a notion, for when I am weak, then I am strong! Real strength comes in the Lord. Paul then goes on to write “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” And that is my heart too with any ministry that I do, that I am not simply passing knowledge or passing on decent precepts or personal opinions, in fact part of the job description of the Pastor was to train others to train others in the true faith. That is not to say a pastor of a 3000 person church should still do all the training, I am saying that would be silly, but he should be a part of the training and maybe managing the ones who are doing the training.

And he was to train “faithful men” Paul goes through what would be regarded as a faithful man in First and Second Timothy and the epistle to Titus, we are not to look at the external but the internal! What is the faithful man’s fruit? Is he doing some of the work already without being asked? HE has to be a good quality candidate because he is supposed “to teach others also”.

V3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

Paul then makes a comparison between three occupations that would have been relevant both in that time and even today, he compares the Christian life to…

  • A soldier
  • An athlete
  • A farmer

The soldier is one who is used to suffering, yes in those days they did not have mortar bombs or automatic weapons or for that nature chemical or nuclear warfare but the soldier was still used to suffering, taking orders, dealing with hardships and that is sound doctrine because when I have achieved the most for Jesus has been when I have been at my lowest in other ways in my life. Even the call to ministry is fraught with potential pitfalls whether that is financial, familial or any other hardship in whatever way it comes. Examine your own heart and where you cherish the most will be the place that you will be hit the hardest. See below for what Jesus said about taking up his cross and following him…

Matthew 16:24 (ESV) Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Paul goes on to say “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” and the one who enlisted him is obvious as Jesus is that Commander of the armies of heaven and rather ironically he was probably looking at the soldier he was chained to as he was penning this so it is no surprise that he used this occupation. He also notes that the soldier cuts himself out of civilian life, really what Paul is saying is do not do anything that will interfere with your calling.

It sounds grim but please stay with me, let’s look at the athlete…

V5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

First we have “hardship” and now we have “fair play” and the idea of athletics would be well known in this Roman/Greek culture and it was known that the rules of competition would be known beforehand and the athlete would want to receive the prize for competing. The athlete also knew that he would be disqualified if he did not place by the rules and what Paul is really saying is that like the athlete we should not do anything to be disqualified in our calling, in our walk with Jesus on a daily basis. We should be the ones to set the standard and play by the rules.

V6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.

And Paul is stating we should be diligent and hard working. The farmer does not get any glory but if he does not work hard then no-one eats! By the same token if he has called you into ministry it is no place to be lazy. You have to be hard working for God because God see’s you sleeping on the clock. Paul also uses the metaphor of eating in the relation to the food that he will be supplying to his congregations and I know that to be true that God will have me live through something before I was able to teach that lesson. Also often times I have found that in order to teach something with heart I have had to learn the lesson myself and sometimes there has been some repenting going on in order for me to be able to teach it clearly with experience and authority.

V7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Paul gave three quality illustrations that I know that because of time served with Paul that Timothy would have received them in a way that did not require further explanation and the overall theme is to be diligent and persevere and that is a message that is just as relevant today as it was when it was first written. Lastly Paul calls for understanding and as stated prior God will give us understanding in the same abundance that he will give us strength.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses eight through thirteen of chapter two where Paul talks about holding to the truth in a steadfast manner, having read ahead I love these scriptures and I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again – 2nd Corinthians 1:8-11

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2nd Corinthians 1:8 (ESV) For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Corinthians, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. This is a great letter of exhortation and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure today. For other bible studies in 2nd Corinthians please click here and for other epistles please see our main epistle page.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse eight of the first chapter of Second Corinthians.

V8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.

In the last article in Second Corinthians we looked at the afflictions that Paul suffered and although we don’t know exactly what he suffered we can be aware that due to the text it was affliction worth writing about and was likely some kind of persecution as we read all throughout Acts and the Epistles of the scrapes and violent persecution that Paul endured because of faith in Christ Jesus.

Whatever it was it was enough to make him “so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” and reading that it makes me despair at the things that travail me and cause me grief. They are but small things compared to what Paul has gone through as no-one is threatening me with my life and no-one is driving me to the point that I wonder whether it is worth even going on anymore.

V9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

Paul was threatened with death and he writes here that “we felt that we had received the sentence of death” and Paul often talks about a “thorn in his flesh” so we also know that Paul was not a well man so he could also have been battling an ongoing illness. He felt a sentence of death as something that was internally imposed on him rather than a sentence being handed down from a Governor or High Priest.

I feel that the real message in this passage though is that Paul’s afflictions made him rely on God even more than he had been doing up until that point. This echoes what he wrote in the third chapter of Philippians…

Philippians 3:8 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

If we suffer for Jesus sakes we know that we will be blessed in his sufferings and Paul’s faith was not just in the closeness of God but that God would help him and if it was in God’s will deliver him.

V10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

Paul uses three tenses here to describe the delivery of God…

  • Past tense – He delivered us
  • Present tense – He will deliver us
  • Future tense – We have set our hope that he will deliver us again

In layman’s terms Paul is saying “regardless of the timeline God has got this” and Paul touches on the importance of looking at the past and remembering how God has delivered you in the past if you are having a failure of faith in the present or can’t see how God will deliver you in the future. You have to remember that God is a God of truth and keeps his promises.

V11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Paul valued prayer and coveted the prayers of the saints, regardless of where they were from and despite the fact that all through the letter of First Corinthians Paul chided the church in Corinth for its carnal nature; he wanted their help through the power of prayer.

Do not think that a prayer is futile, even if it is a prayer that you are confident is being prayed for by many in your assembly. Paul states that “many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many” and behind every Paul the apostle is many more people who were praying for him to be used by God and to be used effectively and despite having such a good repute and was obviously called by God, Paul saw that value in those who labored in praying for him, that it was not just a quick five minute prayer, it was a regular labor of love.

I am challenged on this and who I pray for, often times I pray for Pastors, leaders and missionaries for them to continue to be guided according to God’s plan in their life. I pray for my own walk and that the decisions I take be guided by his will but I do confess that I am probably not laboring as much as I would like. How do you view this area of your Christian walk?

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Corinthians we will look at verses twelve through twenty two where Paul explains why he had a change in travel plans and he explains how he plans his missionary journeys. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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You will also share in our comfort – 2nd Corinthians 1:1-7

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You will also share in our comfort – 2nd Corinthians 1:1-7 – 03/24/2016

2nd Corinthians 1:1 (ESV) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Corinthians, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. This is a great letter of exhortation and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure today. For other bible studies in 2nd Corinthians please click here and for other epistles please see our main epistle page.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the first chapter of Second Corinthians.

V1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul starts with the fairly standard Pauline greeting introducing himself as an “apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” and for me there are a few points that are worth going more in depth…

  • Paul – The name needs no introduction, the man who was introduced to us as Rabbi Saul of Tarsus who was famous throughout the Romans Empire for his desire to quash this new religion of people of “The Way”. Who had a life changing experience on the road to Damascus and was now the “apostle to the nations/Gentiles”
  • An apostle – From the Greek word “apostolos” which meant messenger as well as apostle, being an apostle in those days was dangerous work and many died for their faith. It was not so much a title as a calling because often times it was a one way ticket to becoming posthumous.
  • Of Christ Jesus – Paul is clear to tell the church in Corinth that the message that he has is the same message that Jesus preached and his words are words of correction from God. Paul is keen to advise that he is doing the will of Jesus Christ.
  • By the will of God – And by doing the will of Christ he is also doing the will of God that sent Christ to be the sacrifice for our sins. Paul is writing in the will of God also because Paul was not an apostle by man’s direction or will but Gods. It was not as if Paul chose this life of sacrifice and service. There is a good lesson in there for us that even the ones who are not held in high regard in our churches may still be used mightily by God.

Historically we learn that Paul was not revered in Corinth the way that we do today. However in heaven he was highly regarded as a man who was willing to sacrifice for the sake of furthering the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul also states that he is with Timothy, who he later writes two epistles to and Paul addresses the letter not just to the church at Corinth but the “saints who are in the whole of Achaia”

The word “saint” has gathered some controversy over the years because certain denominations like to canonize dead believers of great worth and call them “saints”, but this is not to what Paul was referring to here, he simply means those who have been set apart in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul meant this letter to be widely read for doctrine and reproof.

Paul uses the words “grace” and “peace” and you have to wonder how they went over if he was not seen favorably in the area. For me that showed Paul never held grudges or was unfavorable to those who did not greet him well, he served them all in the love of Christ and he genuinely wished the grace of God and peace in their fellowship. Do we do likewise? How about your relationship with other fellowships in your city? Do you have warmth towards them despite minor theological differences?

The grace and peace did not just come from the pen of Paul but it came from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” and that reminds us that in the church we are a family of families in unified fellowship to praise God and to be followers of Jesus Christ, we are all at that same starting point. A question for you readers would be do we treat our extended church family in the same favor as we do our actual blood family? Are our feelings ones of “grace” and “peace”?

V3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

And now we have done with the niceties of the greeting we get to the meat and bones of why was caused to write in the first place. From the first word “blessed” we see that Paul had the right attitude towards God. God is described as a father and it is important to recognize that God is a loving father. One that desires communion with his kids! Yes, he is holy but he is also loving above all else and Paul goes on to call him the father of all mercies and God of all comfort and I have to ask you as a reader how often do you think of God in these terms?

Paul uses the Greek word paraklesis which is more of a soothing sympathy, a comfort that is not just providing comfort but of sustaining, strengthening of a comfort that is designed to strengthen and help you into restoration. What a benevolent God we serve! When was the last time you allowed yourself to be comforted by God?

Paul also wished to make that comfort known so that the believers could begin to share the blessings and comfort others too. Imagine a church that was like a hospital? That the ones who were wounded by the world could be comforted by the living God and be served by those who wished to serve him, a place where love radiated throughout the building, a place where you could come as you were and not be judged, but loved and helped. That’s the type of church that Paul wanted and that is the type of church I would love to be involved in, one that comforts one another, sustains one another, builds up one another and mentors one another where the victory of the downtrodden is everyone’s victory and where a victory for another church in the city is a victory for the body of Christ (that’s a sore one huh?)

V5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

And that is why we are talking in such terms, take it from a guy who was familiar with suffering (Paul not me) Let’s have a look at some of the ways he suffered for Christ…

2nd Corinthians 11:23 (ESV) Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.

So do you think this guy knows what it means to suffer for the faith? But yet Paul does not call anything he has endured “his sufferings” he calls it “Christ’s sufferings” because he saw himself subject to whatever punishment he was to face as a part of his faith. Would we have as many dynamic Christians today if we were being persecuted for our faith? I certainly believe that we would find out who the real ones were.

But in the sufferings of Christ that Paul was going through, JESUS WAS THERE! This is a constant message of Jesus ministry, let us look at two accounts from the Gospels where Jesus had compassion on those whom society had forgotten or cast aside…

  1.  The woman at the well – John 4:1 (ESV) Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” 27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him. 31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” 39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
  2. The woman with the issue of blood – Mark 5:24 (ESV) And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

What I love about the ministry of Jesus and also what Paul is telling us is that Jesus see’s your afflictions, he sees the downtrodden, he sees the poor in spirit, there is no-one who was too gross to be helped and delivered from their sins, there was no-one who had sunk too far, the woman who had had five husbands was a social pariah but Jesus desired to help her despite cultural limitations. Likewise the woman with the issue of blood was also a social outcast for twelve years and had such faith that if she could just touch the hem of his garment she knew that she could be healed. But after she was healed she realized there was no way to explain it after Jesus asked “who touched me” and she rightly fell at Jesus feet and Jesus treated her with compassion and comfort. (See a pattern yet?)

V6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

Paul goes on to say that the afflictions endured would be for your comfort and salvation. Paul was all about getting people saved into a relationship with their messiah. We are looking at two people who suffered more than we will ever suffer (Jesus and Paul) and I find it mind blowing that Paul, with a death sentence hanging over him every single day would spend his time telling people about Jesus and comforting those who had a dim view of him.

One of the things I know about suffering is that it helps me to rely on God more, my darkest times I can now use as fuel to help others and Paul did likewise. Paul also advised that this is a double edged sword that if he suffers then it will happen also that they will suffer and that they should patiently endure and comfort one another as he was them.

V7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

And Paul sums it up by stating that their hope for them was unshaken, that even although suffering was going to happen that they would also have the same comfort that Paul had in Christ and also the same closeness to God that Paul had in his trials and sufferings. I will close with this text in James.

James 1:2 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

And that is the truth! Trials produce what is underneath the surface and exposes the true person. Questions to ask from this lesson would be

In trials do we cling to God or rely on ourselves?
Do our trials produce patience?
Where is the comfort of God in our lives?

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Corinthians we will look at verses eight through eleven where Paul explains the peril that he was under and describes the desperate trouble he was in for the faith. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Final instructions and closing for Titus – Titus 3:12-15

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Final instructions and closing for Titus – Titus 3:12-15 – 03/10/2016

This bible study is part of a series on the book of Titus, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of Titus for other studies in this book.

Titus 3:12 (ESV) When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. 14 And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. 15 All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.

Paul continues his thought in the middle of this letter in verse twelve of chapter three; let’s look at it in a verse by verse basis…

V12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.

Paul just finished reminding Titus to stay on course and now he finishes the letter with some closing greetings. I love reading this as it shows that apart from being a great apostle and a dynamic theologian, Paul was also one who impacted lives, he invested in people and remembered people in person and in prayer.

To the reader who is reading this some two thousand years later we may not do much with this information apart from maybe gloss over it as we do not know the people. I know that when I have previously studied the epistles I have not spent a great deal of time parked here and pondering this. We see that Paul was a man also who made plans, took precautions and made advance notice of where God’s will was sending him.

For me also it shows the humanity of Paul that he remembers people that he has no day to day contact and whilst it is easier for me to keep up with various pastors I pray for all over the world these days through internet, I appreciate the heart of Paul here using the medium of the day to let the readers know that he has a heart for the ones he is writing to as well as the ones he has been training and about to send out, we read about two who are about to be sent in the next verse.

V13 Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing.

Paul is coordinating the sending of Zenas and Apollos to aid Titus, Paul was asking that these missionaries be given all that they need to succeed. When you are on mission (and speaking as a Scotsman who has a desire to teach the word of God in a foreign country with me now living in the USA) it is much easier to do the work of God as a team effort. When a friend of mine was planting a church in North London I was happy to see that he had a team of people go with him to establish that church and he has had people who have been with him for seasons in addition to the obvious amount of people who have been praying for him and his family. I know this man’s heart and he would have a similar heart to Paul that if I called him up tomorrow and asked if I could labor in the field that God has placed him in he would see to it I had lacking nothing.

We must realize that we have a responsibility as fellow brothers to help those who are doing God’s work at both home and abroad. One of the things that does bug me though is that international church plants and domestic church plants are not held in the same manner. I admit that it is difficult to gain support as a missionary going abroad to a foreign land but imagine how hard it would be to get support for a church planted in the same country. I do wish that we would do as much for our “domestic church plants” as we do for our international. Paul makes a request that they “would lack nothing” I am not expecting that to mean they would have the biggest house or the fastest chariot, but simply that the church would band together and make sure their basic needs are met. For me teaching the Word of God is a calling as opposed to an occupation and even if I was ever paid to do so, I doubt I would be richer than I am at the moment. It does sadden me to read of those who want to do God’s work to get rich, it was never meant to be this way. I believe that if a Pastor is doing full time hours they should be entitled to a salary for the work that they do and this is not a decrying of those who are in paid ministry, simply a call to look at the heart of the one who is being called.

The very fact that Paul is sending others to this work states that Titus has been fruitful in the Lords work and that Paul being a wise leaders is sending others to aid the work that Titus is doing there. As leaders we are responsible for the people that God places in front of us and equipping them for the work of the ministry. We are also in need of folks who are called to certain areas and can serve using the talents that God has given them. If we are aware of someone’s talents then we can make best use of them. If you have made your Pastor aware of talents that you have and you have not been given opportunity to use those talents then that is really on the leadership. If you are not suited to something after being given a safe place to try out those callings then that is one thing and I would agree with the pastor, but if you are not given the opportunity to do what is a calling then the issue lies with those who assign the tasks.

V14 And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

Paul again calls the people to be a good example and lift up those who are in case of urgent need, that is a vital lesson for us all to be discerning of people’s needs, to not be enablers. If someone is in constant need and is frivolous at spending then something is not right with this picture. If you have someone giving their last dollar to help fund someone be reckless then you may have an issue.

On the flip side however, we have to learn to maintain the good works, we must be overflowing with fruit that our faith is genuine, we must be genuine, we must be real with one another and realize that what we have been given is from God and none of it is our own, and that we are simply custodians of the money and possessions that we have. We can’t allow anything and especially nothing as silly and temporary as stuff we have been blessed with that can be removed in the blink of an eye to allow us to become dry and unfruitful. Let me give you an example…

I have a car in my driveway, it is a Hyundai, it will rust, it will get old, and I have a cell phone in my pocket and with every day that passes the technology on that phone become obsolete. I have a mortgage on a home that will eventually fail and things will go wrong with it. These are all temporary things that I will not and do not put my faith in. My faith and trust is in the Lord and I refuse to become dry because I will not use these gifts for the Lord. Will you?

Paul closes this letter with the following words…

V15 All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.

Paul closes the letter in much the same way as when he began the letter with a mention of “grace” and he closes the letter stating that “all who are with me send greetings to you” and advising Titus to “Greet all who love us in the faith” so Paul intended that the blessings in the epistle be shared and despite there being a lot of personal coaching for Titus it also had some golden nuggets for a wider audience and this letter is still bearing fruit in my life and I pray that as you read this article you will examine the words that have been presented to you and commit them to your hears.

Thank you for going through the book of Titus with me and Lord willing, in our next article we will begin studying the second letter by Paul to the Corinthian church and my hope is to do the first seven verses of this letter. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

God’s judgment and the Law – Romans 2:12-16

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God’s judgment and the Law – Romans 2:12-16 – December 13th 2015

Romans 2:12 (ESV) For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

I love that Paul starts off with the reality of the situation between God and man…

V12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

And that is the truth and where we get confused as humans is that we start of by thinking that we are “morally correct” or that we are “a good person” if we are judging ourselves. However when we are judging ourselves we won’t use honest scales and we will have a bias point of view of our individual sins.

Paul continues this thought from verse 11 which states “For God shows no partiality” which is both encouraging and discouraging in that he does judge everyone with no favor but he will judge as a just judge does with honest scales. He will judge those who are under the Law (traditional Jews) and the ones who were not under the Law. (Traditional Gentiles) This is awesome because it works on so many levels as in the first century there were many heretics that kept trying to convince the Gentile Christian converts that they had to adopt Jewish practices in order to please God. We see this correction by letter in a few of the Epistles that we are not saved by works (keeping the Law in this case) alone. Let’s look at both types of people that Paul addresses here:

•       Sinned under the Law – So the Jews had the Law but did they keep it? If they kept it in actions did they keep it in their hearts? Was it an empty practice to appear holy? Were their hearts near or far from God? Was his faith in God or the empty religion of keeping the rules of the Law?
•       Sinned without the Law – He may be further in his own sin because he has no idea what God wanted in the first place? Does he have Jesus as his Savior? Is he trying to be morally right in the sight of the world? Will he die in his sins due to a lack of repentance? Does he only live by what his conscience says?

Whilst the former may appear “more holy” they both are headed away from God and headed for condemnation unless they have a heart change and be repentant and seek God while he may be found and call upon him while he is near. (Isaiah 55:6-7) if you think I am maybe overstating this then please look at what Jesus said to the folks who had the Law as their religion in the book of Matthew…

Matthew 23:23 (ESV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Jesus certainly did not spare feelings when he dealt with those who the people lauded as holy. He called them the following…

•       Hypocrites
•       Blind guides
•       Whitewashed tombs
•       Internally full of death
•       Lawless

And that is the heart (pun intended) of this is that the heart must be correct in order to please God and it is only God who can see into the depths of the heart and can see the true nature of your heart and can even see the self-deceit if you have deceived yourselves into believing your motives are pure. If you don’t believe me that the heart is wicked then read Jeremiah 17:9.

V13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

Just because you have heard the law (or even heard the bible) that will not make you righteous and let us look at two scenarios…

•       Scenario A – Pastors kid – has been raised in church, knows the bible inside out, can quote large portions of scripture, is an awesome apologetic teacher in his own right but does not live the Christian life and never repents in his own right.
•       Scenario B – Mass Murderer – Spent all of his adult life in jail following a mass murder at eighteen. Is in a state where he has waited 225 years on the death penalty catching up with him. The day before he dies a Prison Pastor convicts him of his sin and he falls on his knees and accepts Jesus in his life and for the last 24 hours of his life he pours himself into the bible the pastor gave him.

Which of these two people will be in heaven? It will be those who are doers of the law, those of whom who have repented of their sins and got their hearts right with God. Just simply attending church and being a passenger with no life change will not do anything. Does that mean we will always be enthusiastic for the gospel? No! Christians will have attitude problems in the same way as those in the world, but they know the way to resolve this by turning back to God.

V14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.

We have to be careful to not become “a law unto ourselves” and make up laws that suit ourselves due to having ignorance to what God wanted or required of us. We have to diligently study the scriptures to understand the will of God in our lives. We cannot go off what someone else says or an interpretation that may or may not be correct. Even as you are reading this I urge you to do your due diligence and study the scripture for yourselves and “Study you show yourself approved” (2nd Timothy 2:15) and please never take man’s word when it contradicts what the scripture is plainly saying.

V15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

Paul talks about writing the law on your heart and this comes from the book of the prophet Jeremiah that reads…

Jeremiah 31:33 (ESV) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

You have to understand that these people were not of the original children of Israel, they were part of the New Covenant and were adopted into God’s family through their obedience and as Paul writes here they can be condemned by their conflicting thoughts or even justified.

This is a battle of the flesh, the fleshly man wants to do his will and there will be a struggle often times in order to allow Gods will to overcome. (What Paul calls conflicting thoughts) and we have this today as Christians. A few examples would be…

•       Do I have to be honorable on my taxes, I could get away with that
•       Do I have to tithe exactly 10% (even though that is a conviction of my heart) as we could put that extra money towards something I want
•       Do I have to deal fairly with others if I can make a quick profit?
•       Do I have to be diligent in my workplace?
•       Do I need to be pure in my thoughts if I am single?
•       Do I need to stay faithful to my wife/husband? What if I can get away with it with no scandal?
•       Do I really need to forgive that guy? Do you know what he did?

And that is just some common ones that people struggle with. We have to remember that “the work of the law is written on their hearts” and greater is he that is in us that he who is in the world!

V16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

And here is the kicker, God sees the heart, he sees the secret places, he sees what goes on behind closed doors. He knows the very thing that would shame you most but he loves you so much. If you remain in your sins you will be judged and found wanting in the balance. An example of this is found in Daniel 5:27 where Belshazzar was judged according to the actions he took and was found wanting in the eyes of the LORD.

We all have the same choice in life, in fact the same choice that Adam and Eve had that we can choose to go with God’s plan for our lives or go against it. Where are you in that situation? If you were to die tonight would you die in your sins? Or have you truly accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If so then go tell others about his salvation because NOW is the accepted time, now is God’s day of Salvation. (2nd Corinthians 6:2)

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

BIAY – Bible in a year – December 5th 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for December check out our December page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for December fifth.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

2nd Corinthians 10-13.

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

BIAY – Bible in a year – December 4th 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for December check out our December page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for December fourth.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

2nd Corinthians 5-9.

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE