Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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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

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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 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

What is your stench?

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What is your stench?

2 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV) 14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

This verse has been on my heart for the last week (verse 15) but in order for the verses to be understood appropriately then I added verses 14-17 to get Paul’s full thought as he wrote to the church in Corinth. As you may or may not be aware the Corinthian church was a very carnal church, it was very worldly and much of both of the letters written by Paul to the Corinthian believers were correction in practices that should not have been in the church in the first place. This is as relevant today as it was to the first generation of Christians.

When I think about these verses it brings me back to the early nineties and the bracelets that were popular back then such as W.W.J.D? (Which stood for What Would Jesus Do?) and was usually worn as an item of clothing such as a T-shirt or a bracelet, I liked seeing this as the wearer was reminded that his/her actions may or may not have been worthy of what they were called to as a Christian.

Mr. Short Fuse

I admit it, I am Mr. Short Fuse, I pray on a daily basis that I don’t lose it, if I am Mr. Calm to you that is due to the grace of God and a work of God in my life. Prior to becoming a Christian I was always in conflict, silly things ticked me off and often times had it not been for good friends I may have been involved in brawling situations that may have done me damage. I am fiercely loyal and if you came to hurt my friends or family, I would come out swinging. I might not always win but I would get my point across.

A time I remember was when my dad and I went to a charity football (soccer for the Americans) game between two Glasgow teams called Celtic and Rangers at the stadium that was the home stadium of Rangers. (Called Ibrox) It would take to long to do the background behind this but traditionally Rangers are known as the “Protestant club” and wear blue, Celtic are known as “the Catholic club” and wear green and white. Dad (a Rangers fan) wore a jacket that was predominantly green heading for the Rangers home end.

As we were crossing the road at a traffic light a snowball flew between me and my dad, due to the highly charged nature of the fixture, even although it was an over 35’s game or retired professionals, there were still 50,000 people in Ibrox for this fixture. Tickets were only 5 pounds and it was meant to be a family atmosphere, however traditional rivalry and tribalism took over and the thrower mistook my dad as a Celtic fan in the wrong end of the ground. I snapped and wanted to take the guy on, the red mist enveloped and I was at Defcon 1 (Highest alert status prior to a strike) in one fell swoop. Dad pulled me back and calmed me down but I was still annoyed going into the game.

What is the point of this? I wasn’t a Christian at that point of my life so I was acting based on what my flesh judged as the right thing to do. Something that is worth noting from a Christian point of view if we are talking to one who is living in sin, if they have not accepted Jesus as their saviour and being ministered to by the Holy Spirit, they will not have the same convictions as you.

However, if we are a Christian we should be looking to imitate Christ and that is really what I am trying to say. I want to act like him, I want to love like he did, I want to tell the world of his life changing power and lastly I want to stench like he does. We have to be sincere, want to immerse our whole lives in our Christian walk. This is the hard part, I have learned recently. A recent vote in my homeland did not go the way I wanted it to, but it made me realize that even although I was many thousand miles away, I was still spending too much time on things that were temporary and really had no eternal value. In heaven I doubt I will care if Scotland went independent or not.

Mr. Non-Perfect

I am also Mr. Non-Perfect, I am kind of glad that I am not, as I know me better than most folks and I would be the first to state that should I ever attain what I regard as perfection then I fear that piety and pride would sneak in. So i am quite happy to be “Mr. Non-Perfect” it keeps me humble. There are times in my life that I don’t handle things well, I don’t read situations the way one would expect and I am very prone to “brain farts”, lastly I know that I talk too much and quite often steamroller people in conversations, usually adding very little to the original points, I pray daily about things like this and we all have our inner wars.

What is a Christ like stench?

You have to have a heart transplant, you have to sort out your “kardia” (Greek word that is used in New Testament for “heart”) I was blessed to be given the opportunity to share and teach at an elderly home a week last Sunday and I shared from Romans 10 and shared about the heart of a Christian. We will not grow the way God wants us to if we are “tick the box Christians” and go through the motions in order to get things done and checked in order to get a “holy gold star”.

That is not real and genuine Christianity, real Christianity is hard, it is for me at least. It is a daily prayer life to make me more like Jesus, to love people both when it is easy and when they tick me off. To love people when I get hurt, to prefer others before myself, I am selfish and self-focused in nature and this stuff does not come easily.

Straight from the heart

It is not enough to just have the appearance of holy and to not let it escape your mouth, the greatest teacher of all time, Jesus Christ tells us in the gospel of Matthew 15:10-20 (ESV version)

“10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

If we have a “potty heart” as I wrote earlier then eventually that will corrupt our whole walk with Jesus. We need to have daily “kardia” work. We have to be as Christ said “salt and light”. We are operating a guerrilla warfare in which we are the spiritual terrorists, (this world is no longer our home) and we have to infiltrate and show the love of Christ. We have to be different in order to show a living example of Christ. Some of the strongest and most powerful sermons that are preached are not from a pulpit.

This is a challenge as much for me as it is for you dear reader, let us go out and be the stench of Jesus.

God bless and I hope this was a challenge, please feel free to share, comment or like below
TGBTG
TTE 

They knew God but did not honor him

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They knew God but did not honor him.

Romans 1:18 (ESV) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

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.

People’s perception of the wrath of God

Who all likes talking about the wrath of God? (watches as no-one’s hand is raised!) Doesn’t “sell well” in today’s consumer driven, drive through; reap the blessings but to hang with the curses Christianity that we have here in quite a few Christian blogs and websites. It is a tough topic and no mistake, but it is integral to the gospel message and here is why.

In order for Jesus sacrifice to make sense, we have to have a God that has been grieved enough by the sin of the world to want to rectify the situation. You see, people’s perception of the wrath of God is all wrong! God hates the sin and desires that all would come to his saving grace. You see, we deserve the wrath of God because of “sin” what we do not deserve is Gods amazing grace.

The “benevolent dictator”

Failure to acknowledge this fact will have God as a “benevolent dictator” allowing us to be on this planet long enough so that we can accumulate enough sin so he can nuke us! Sounds ridiculous huh? This line of thinking is not scriptural and does not follow logical theological patterns. The wrath of God is always completely righteous.

Only God can judge me

As we see in the text God’s wrath is “revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” which does clarify what is being said above. If you set yourself against God then expect him to allow you to reap what you sew. I find it laughable when I read T-Shirts and tattoos that state “Only God can judge me” I feel like asking “do you really know what you are challenging God to do?”

If you are thinking this sounds unfair, well actually it is perfectly fair. The driver in whether the wrath of God comes down upon you is believe it or not you! You have the option of choosing to be on Gods side or not. You can choose a life of unrighteousness by Gods standards and live by your own standards that should you not change you will end up getting the eternity that you have asked for.

Ungodliness versus Unrighteousness

So why did he say ungodliness and unrighteousness? Well it deals with two distinct sins, ungodliness is man’s offenses concerning God and unrighteousness deals with man’s sins towards everyone else. You can be without God and still be seen as righteous in the world’s eyes. The question you have to ask is who’s judgment do you trust more?

They suppressed the truth, if you try to cover up, defame, lie about or otherwise pervert people away from God, and then this one is for you. This is for all of the evolutionists who try to contort the creation account in order to elevate man’s wisdom and try to cloud man’s thoughts towards the truth that is written in the Holy Scriptures.

The sad truth about what they know

Paul goes on to say that “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” this is tragic as they knew God but failed to glorify him, therefore they have the knowledge and really have no absolution from excuse. We tried to pervert, re-size God, and make him fit into what we needed him to fit into. This carries onto verse 23 where we turn God into what the Greek work “Eikon” (Where we get our modern day Icon) where they reduced God to an image of what they wanted him to be. They were not thankful for all that he had done, ungrateful and “professing to become wise they became fools”. The wisdom of God far supersedes anything that man could come up with.

I liken this to a desperate man, when I have been desperate I usually get scammed or do something foolish (almost always with money) which is why we have tried to elevate our thinking beyond God and why so many houses of Academia try to “dumb down” theological thinkers. It is happening today dear Christian. If you read a Creation/Evolution debate, the Evolutionist will always attack the intelligence of the Creationist first.

What does God do?

Well God allows them to go after the lusts of their heart. In the same way he allowed Israel to elect a king even although he knew it was going to lead to heartache, he is not that benevolent dictator that I spoke about earlier. If we are insistent on going a certain way, perhaps God will allow us to go through our consequences before delivering us.

By going after the lusts of their hearts they are inviting their own consequences. Anyone see a parallel with today? They are going after impurity, dishonoring their bodies and served the created rather than the creator. A horrible situation that sounds like my life in reverse. If you are reading this and are still in your sin or are thinking of walking away from God, please take this passage as a warning. I have been there! See my testimony page, I have been circling the drain many times and God has pulled me out of the toilet bowl.

Paul was surrounded by this writing from the city of Corinth where lusts, vile passions and basically whatever your heart’s desire was, you could get it there. They gave up the truth for the lie, notice Paul advises there is only one truth, by the same token they gave themselves up for the lie, the lie of idolatry.

I am hoping that this Bible study was fruitful for you and I pray that you share, like or comment as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation

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Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation

2 Cor 6:1 (ESV) We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: ​​“In an acceptable time I have heard you, ​​And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. 4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

Paul gives a very prominent and poignant lesson here; he displays to the Corinthian church the urgency of the gospel. (Isaiah 49:8) The Corinthian church gets a bad rap from the modern day Bible study teachers as being a very carnal culture and that it was infecting the believers in that area with behaviors creeping into the fellowship.

Here is the deal; today we are looking at a “Corinthian culture” that makes that “Corinthian culture” look like a Sunday school picnic. These words were written 2000 years ago to a worldly culture but are more relevant and more now than today’s newspaper.

You don’t get more urgent than the title of this article huh? It reminds me of our frailty of our mortality. We only have a finite time on this earth to make a decision about our eternity. As Christians we have a great responsibility under the “Great Commission” to take the word our and make disciples. (This blog is part of what I try to do to get the word of God out there)

Paul talks about the grace of God and receiving it in vain. This is very important in our time as we tend to be very grace focused in that our heart wants us to “cut corners” and create “grey areas” because if it is sin God will forgive us regardless. We cannot be looking to sin to get forgiveness and must be looking to go through a day by day journey for holiness. Grace will come to you from God regardless of whether you deserve it or not, but I would rather do my best for God.

After our justification we need to begin our process of sanctification. This journey is a marathon rather than a sprint. I am a knucklehead and need to learn many lessons many times over before it sets in my memory. If you ask my wife about my memory, she will tell you that there are times that she is surprised at the way my brain functions at times and the frequency on how I forget how to do simple everyday things. I am no different in my spiritual life, I have grown but sometimes it is not at the rate you would have expected.

It is about time that we realized our own comfort should not be center stage. When we are chasing the bigger salary, the bigger house, the nicer car, the hot tub, the pool, the large ministry, the big bank balance, fame, notoriety, good fortune, land, the nicest electronic gadgets whatever the desire of your heart is instead of Gods plan in your life, it always leads the same way.

1) Temporary gratification
2) Unfulfillment

I listen to “the Dave Ramsey show” on financial advice and he signs off every hour with the slogan “The only true way to financial peace is through the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ” and that principle can be allied to so many areas of our lives. When we allow other things to come into our lives and feed our selfishness gene (we all have one, even the most humble of us) then the work of the LORD is inhibited. God knows this and makes provision for you, but I wish (for me at least) that I was less selfish.

I am not suggesting giving up your iPhone/iPad/Xbox whatever you do for fun, however it is all about balance, if it is impacting your effectiveness for Christ and overtaking your life then it may be a problem. If you are married it is a cause for arguments in your relationship?

Here is the deal! These other things whilst it makes you comfortable, it has no eternal value, it will all burn in the end! We should chase after the things of God.

God bless and I hope this was a blessing and remember that “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”
TTE