Bible Reading: II Corinthians 5
6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
Most of us are familiar with this passage. While we are in this earthly body, we cannot be present with the Lord. This old flesh is holding us here right now. But the moment we become separated from this body by death, our soul becomes present with the Lord. In a sense, we don’t want to die, and we don’t want to live.
Since we cannot be with the Lord right now, we must “walk by faith and not by sight”. I can’t see Him right now, but I know He is there.
Verse nine, however, simply tells us that whether we are in the body or in heaven, there is one thing that we want to accomplish. We want to “be accepted of Him”. What does this mean? Do we have to labor harder for God to finally accept us? Do we need accomplish more, or perform better to be accepted by God? The answer is no.
Here in verse 9, the word “accepted” means fully agreeable, or well pleasing. It means that as we labor while we’re here on earth, our main goal should be to be well pleasing to God. Our desire should be for our walk to be agreeable with His Word.
We know where we’re going, but until then we are here where we are at. While we are here, we must walk by faith not by sight. As we walk by faith, our desire should be to please God. We are “confident” about why we are here, and we are confident about where we are going when we leave here. We might be “at home in the body”, but we are not home!
BIBLE READING: II CORINTHIANS 4
15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
This entire chapter is packed with principles that we could teach on for a year, but let’s just look at these two verses. I notice first in verse 15 that there is a purpose for everything that God allows in our life. Everything that happens is “for your sakes”. Secondly, I notice that the outcome that God always intends in our life is for Him to get the glory. I also notice in this verse that God’s grace that He makes available to us is abundant. That means there is plenty of it. It means that there will always be more grace available than is needed. That’s pretty profound in one verse.
“FOR WHICH CAUSE WE FAINT NOT”
What is the cause that Paul is talking about here? It is from the verse before. The cause is the “glory of God”. That’s why we are determined not to faint, or to quit, because we are determined for God to get the glory in our lives. We see here that our body will get tired, and worn out, and even eventually wear out. But we have to keep our inner man renewed to keep us from fainting. That means even when we are physically worn down, we can be spiritually excited.
“DAY BY DAY”
I want to finish with this thought. We’re given great insight here on how we are to operate in our life as a Christian. We must renew our spirit daily. It is not enough to come to church on Sunday to get our spiritual man renewed. That is not enough to last for a week. We need to eat daily to keep the physical body strong. We cannot depend on one spiritual meal on Sunday to keep our spiritual body strong for a week. We must be in God’s Word to renew ourselves spiritually every day. None of us are so strong spiritually that we only need God’s Word occasionally. We need it every day. Take time today to renew your mind, your heart, and your spirit “day by day”.
BIBLE READING: II CORINTHIANS 3
2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart
I will be brief today. Just a simple thought on this passage. As Paul writes the church at Corinth, he reminds the reader and himself the writer of this letter of something important. People will read men far more than they will read words. I care more about what you do, than about what you say. Whenever what you say and what you do conflict, they will always influenced more by what you do.
Paul was reminding this church that they meant more to him than just words on a paper. He reminded them that people would read them and their lives as much as they would read Paul’s words. When it comes to our impact on others, it is “not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart”.
As always, I encourage you today to practice the principal from this passage. Let’s remember that our actions matter. Let’s walk the walk. You will be around individuals today that may never hear you say a word, but they are reading you.
BIBLE READING: II CORINTHIANS 2
1 But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.
2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?
Paul makes an interesting point here. Even though his circumstances were rough, he says that he needed to be tough. No I believe Paul was probably one of the toughest individuals ever. He endured more than most of us will ever go through for the gospel. But even Paul realized that if he allowed his problems to negatively affect those around him, then that would not be a fair representation of God.
“WHO IS HE THEN THAT MAKETH GLAD”
When our burdens bring us down, they often begin to bring those around us down. Paul says that if he was brought down by his circumstances, and that in turn brought down those around him, it could almost give the effect that God does not exist. When we are barraged by burdens, that is the time that we can show to others that God is faithful. God shines brightest in the midst of our darkness. We want that to be an occasion where we can lift up Christ. Where we can show our dependency upon Him.
“I DETERMINED THIS WITH MYSELF”
Paul says I have made a decision that I am going to do my best to show my victory in Christ, not my defeat with my circumstances. This is a decision each of us must make with ourselves. It’s a personal decision. Yes times are tough, and yet circumstances are rough, but we are not going to let that bring me and everyone else down. It is not that we do not need the encouragement of others. Often times Paul writes churches and thanks them for their compassion, prayer, and support during his trials. Paul is just saying it is easy to become selfish, and self obsessed, and to allow our burdens to weigh everyone else down. We must make a decision within ourselves thank God‘s grace is sufficient, and that’s the message we want to send to others.
BIBLE READING: II CORINTHIANS 1
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
Paul opens this letter by praising the God who gives so much mercy and comfort to the apostle and all believers. We get the feeling that Paul knows the mercy and comfort of God on a first-hand basis. The words all comfort in this passage come from the ancient Greek word paraklesis. The idea behind this word for comfort in the New Testament is always more than soothing sympathy. It has the idea of strengthening, of helping, of making strong. The idea behind this word is communicated by the Latin word for comfort (fortis), which also means “brave.” It’s where we get our word fortitude. Listen to what Spurgeon says as he describes Paul in this passage:
“Here was a man, who never knew but what he might be dead the next day, for his enemies were many, and cruel, and mighty; and yet he spent a great part of his time in praising and blessing God.” (Spurgeon)
“That we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble”
One great purpose of God in comforting us is to enable us to bring comfort to others. God’s comfort can be given and received through others. Often, we never receive the comfort God wants to give us through another person. Pride keeps us from revealing our needs to others, so we never receive the comfort God would give us through them.
Listen to these quotes about God being the God of all comfort, and our responsibility to comfort others:
“Even spiritual comforts are not given us for our use alone; they, like all the gifts of God, are given that they may be distributed, or become instruments of help to others. A minister’s trials and comforts are permitted and sent for the benefit of the Church. What a miserable preacher must he be who has all his divinity by study and learning, and nothing by experience!” (Clarke)
“Mr. Knox, a little before his death, rose out of his bed; and being asked wherefore, being so sick, he would offer to rise? He answered, that he had had sweet meditations of the resurrection of Jesus Christ that night, and now he would go into the pulpit, and impart to others the comforts that he felt in his soul.” (Trapp)
BIBLE READING: I Corinthians 16
1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him,
Paul was very serious about the local New Testament church. Paul planted churches, preached in the churches, and prayed for the churches. Notice in these verses that we are told that they had church and met on Sunday, which was the first day of the week. The Sabbath was Saturday under the law, but when Jesus died and rose again on the first day of the week, we celebrate that every week by meeting on the first day of every week. Paul teaches us here the “when” of giving.
When it came to giving, Paul mentions that the order given was to the churches in verse one, but also notice that in verse two he says “lay by him in store”. That means that we are not to store up in our own home or bank account. That phrase means that we are to lay our offering in the store house. Remember this verse:
* Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
We should bring our offerings to church and give it there, otherwise why would we have to “bring” it.
So, what is it we are supposed to bring? Paul answers that with this phrase, “as God hath prospered him”. May I ask you today, are you giving to God according to how he has given to you. Are you giving conservatively, while God has blessed you abundantly?
Can you imagine if each of us gave to God as generously as He gave to us? Ouch!!