Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2 Corinthians 1-7

2 Corinthians 1-2:11 – Comfort in Troas
2 Corinthians 2:12-5:10 – Power in Brokenness
2 Corinthians 5:11-7 – Joy in Reconciliation

False teachers from Jerusalem came to Corinth after Paul left and the people begin to question Paul’s teachings.  He was in great distress and wrote a letter to them.  He knew if they rejected him, they would be rejecting God.

What do you do when you are distressed over life situations? 
Who do you turn to?

Paul’s trusted in the Lord to comfort him.  God protects our heart which also shows others comfort.

Chapter 1
God’s comfort means strength.  Paul was comforted in Asia because God is the father of compassion and the God of all comfort.  God comforts us in all our troubles so we can comfort others – (2 Cor. 1:3-4).  Suffering is in the world because there is sin in the world and we should expect suffering because we follow Him.  No true comfort is apart from God.

Christ didn’t do anything wrong, but He suffered for us.  Suffering makes us useful to Him in the world.  You may not experience the kind of suffering Paul suffered, but we do suffer.  When we do, we receive comfort and you can share that comfort with others.

How does God comfort you in your trials?

In Troas Paul experienced disappointment.  He had no peace, because he didn’t find Titus there.  He experienced triumph, because God opened the door for him to preach.  He experienced joy, because he was able to continue spreading the gospel – (2 Cor. 1:3-11).

Do you experience peace and joy in Christ?

God shares true comfort with believers so we will share it with others.

“He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”(2 Cor. 1:21-22).  Anointed means He sanctified us or made us sacred.  Sealed means He fasten us securely.  The Holy Spirit seals our salvation and continually guides and teaches us making us sanctified.

Chapter 2
Paul encourages them to forgive.  There is no place in church for human limits.  We need to be forgiving in all circumstances.

Paul was exhausted, but still gave thanks to God.

When the gospel is presented it either is a “smell of death” or a “fragrance of life” to its listeners.  Either you ignore it bringing you eternal death or you accept it bringing you eternal life. – (2 Cor. 2:15-16)

Have you ignored the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Chapter 3
Paul explains that the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. – (2 Cor. 3:6) The letter refers to the Old Testament Law.  It kills, because no one can obey all the laws.  It condemns us, because none of us are perfect.  We have broken all the laws.  The Spirit gives life when we believe and accept Jesus.  We receive the Holy Spirit and are saved by grace and have eternal life.  We are then free from the law.

Paul talks about the veil over the heart.  The veil is confusion and unbelief that separated them from God.  With sacrifices in the Old Testament, their sins were only taken away temporarily.  With the death of Jesus our sins are gone forever.  When we turn to God, the veil is taken away.  The Holy Spirit causes us to have a clear vision.  We are changed to Christ’s likeness by turning to Him.  The person by whom we are changed is the Holy Spirit.

Chapter 4
Are you considering giving up on a situation?
Will you trust God instead and not lose heart?

The gospel is veiled to those who are perishing.  “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”(2 Cor. 4:4) The god of this age is Satan.  He has blinded unbelievers so they cannot hear the good news.  The only person through whom we receive the light of truth is Jesus.  We have human weaknesses that reveal God’s glory.  “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9) There is a connection between sharing Christ’s death and producing life in others. “We carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”(2 Cor. 4:10) There is decay of the physical and a renewing of the spiritual.  “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor. 4:16) “So we fix our eyes on not what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”(2 Cor. 4:18)
We should be encouraged, because we know we will be raised to eternal life on day and be in the presence of Jesus Christ, our Lord forever and forever.

A “clay pot’ is a believer where God stores His treasure, the Holy Spirit.  He uses us to show His power.  When we’re broken His light will shine through the cracks.  We’re all cracked pots.  When life pushes you down, you crack. 

Does the grace and mercy of God show through your cracks or are you busy covering up your cracks?  Fear of pain doesn’t let others see inside your cracks.  Do they see love, faithfulness, joy?  Do you let God fill you up?

Spiritual faith is an attitude.  You are not your own.  Fix your eyes of the unseen, Jesus.  Paul saw past his pain and let God use every ounce for His purposes.  Remember this life is temporary.  Remember your suffering should not be wasted.  See it as a gift of God and rejoice in Him fixing you eyes on Him.

Chapter 5
Paul uses a metaphor of an earthly tent and the heavenly dwelling.  The earthly tent is our perishable body that will be destroyed one day, but we will have an eternal heavenly body that will be imperishable.  God has reconciled sinful people to Himself.  He made us a new creation when we accept Jesus.  Jesus had no sin.  God sent Him to be sin to us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 

God is glorified through suffering and brokenness surrendered in trust in Jesus.

How are you relying on your resources believing you have confidence from the Lord? 

No one wants to be a cracked pot, but with no cracks you can show no light.  Don’t spent time covering them up.  Do you trust your hard and unfair circumstances for His purpose?  How will you let others see Christ through your shame and broken heart?  Will you surrender your pain to God?  Where is your focus?  He is the solution.

Chapter 6
If we are not sincere we are a stumbling block!  Paul’s life reveals what Christian conduct should be – in all circumstances.  As servants of God Paul and the others had great endurance in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger.  In those circumstances we see purity, understanding, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, sincere love, truthful speech, the power of God and weapons of righteousness. – (2 Cor. 6:3-7)  We see contrasts of circumstances – through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet they live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. – (2 Cor. 6:8-10)

All these circumstances describe Paul’s life.  We will never experience such times to the degree that he did.  In the trials we do face, do we triumph in Christ as Paul did?
How do you compare to Paul in these circumstances?
What is your conduct when things don’t go your way?

Chapter 7
Godly sorrow brings repentance and no regret.  Worldly sorrow brings death.  Godly sorrow helps us see our sins.

Are you defensive, or just sorry, or do you really repent?
Repentance is requested for reconciliation with God and others.

Paul was compelled to act.  How are you impacted by His Love? 

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