Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2 Corinthians 8-13

There are many lessons in these chapters telling us how to live and love and about grace.  What is grace?  It’s God’s love to the undeserving.  It’s the most important word in our language.  It’s a gift of God and not of works.  It’s God’s unmerited favor and can only be received by believing His word and believing in Jesus.

2 Corinthians 8-9 – Grace is Generous

When we have God’s grace, it’s seen in our hearts.  We become more generous and we treat other people differently.  We give not only our money, but our time and love.  In chapter 8 verse 4, the people begged to give.  It was as privilege to give not an obligation.  The Macedonian churches had extreme poverty, but they still gave generously to spreading of the gospel.  In Paul’s letter he encourages the Corinthians to do the same and to continue in their giving as they promised.  Why give?  God wants His family cared for.  Jesus gave His life that we might become rich.  “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” (2 Cor. 8:12)

Paul and Titus were to administer the gifts and wanted to avoid any criticism.  Paul wanted to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord and also in the eyes of men.

Paul reminds us that if we sow sparingly, we will reap sparingly.  If we sow generously, we also reap generously – (2 Cor. 9:6).  “… God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7)  It’s all God’s anyway.  We are just giving back to Him what is already His.  Don’t give under compulsion.  Giving will stir up others to action.  Giving not only supplies needs, but causes the receiver to express thanks to God.

Knowing God’s grace makes you generous.

Grace is costly.  If it’s easy, it’s not grace.  The principle of grace is more than just your money.  It’s your time, your resources, your love, etc.

Are you a cheerful giver?
Do you give sacrificially?
Do you give prayerfully?
How is your attitude impacting others?
What seeds are you sowing?

Pray 2 Cor. 9:8 for yourself.

2 Corinthians 10-11:15 – Grace is Powerful

Chapter 10 focuses on people who have not repented.  Paul was not trying to win a popularly contest.  He was only defending the truth.  He had already lived that life.  There is a war between truth and lies.  God equips us with weapons the enemy cannot stand up against.  We can fight spiritual battles with His word and prayer.  The enemy, Satan masquerades as an angel of light and his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.  God’s Word can be used effectively to fight spiritual battles.  2 Tim. 3:16 – Scripture gives wisdom, guidance and comfort and is God breathed.  Heb. 4:12 – It is sharper than a two edged sword.  Prayer can be also be effectively to fight spiritual battles.  1 John 3:15 – when we pray we know He hears us.  James 5:16 – Prayer is powerful and effective. 

We as Christians should be on guard against Satan temptations.  “Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8)  Satan does exist even though there are people who don’t believe he does.  Scripture speaks in many places of Satan.  He is called several names -  the devil, the father of lies, prince of the world, the great dragon, ancient serpent.
Luke 4:1-2, 13 – Jesus was tempted in a time of weakness.
Luke 13:16 – He keeps us bound when we reject the Lord.
Luke 22:3 – He entered Judas, one of the 12 disciples.
Luke 22:31-21 – He wants to test believers and separate us from God.
John 8:44 – He’s a murder from the beginning and the father of lies.
John 12:31; 14:30 – He is the prince of the world and has a hold on us, but will be defeated by Jesus.
Revelation 12:9 – He is known as the great dragon, the devil, ancient serpent.
Revelation 20:2 – He will be bound for 1,000 years when Jesus returns and then will be destroyed.

Paul says he is jealous for them with a godly jealousy.  In other word he doesn’t want to see them abandon the truth by being deceived by false teachers and Satan’s deceptions.  He didn’t want them to put up with any wrong teachings.  God’s enemy can even be found in the church.  It’s God’s battle and He has the power to demolish strongholds.  Strongholds hold one captive, is a fake refuge and set up to defy God.  Wrong thoughts can be a stronghold – fear, pride, greed, self-centeredness.  Truth helps us deal with wrong thinking.

God’s power given by grace is stronger than any opposition.

What stronghold imprisons you?
What do you find security in – your kids, your bank account, your job?

We are in a war whether we signed up for one or not.  How alert are you?  Don’t trust the world.  Stick with Jesus.  We are spiritually naive when we’re indifferent.

2 Corinthians 11:16-13 – Grace is Sufficient

The Corinthians were slow to absorb the truth – like us.  Paul compared his boasting to the boasting of the false apostles.  The false apostles boast about worldly things and their strengths.  Paul boasts about his weaknesses so God’s love and power is revealed.  His list of sufferings show his deep love for them.  “I have worked much harder, been imprisoned more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.  Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.”(2 Cor. 11:23-26)

From Paul’s testimony we learn about being a servant of Jesus Christ.  He was definitely humble, focused on Jesus and the salvation of others, not himself.  You can’t be prideful and serve God.  Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” which kept him from being conceited by all he had experienced. (2 Cor. 12:7-9)  We don’t need to know what the thorn was.  We only need to know the source that kept him going.  God uses our weaknesses to make us depend on Him.  Then over time our weaknesses make us stronger.

Paul continues to show his deep love for the Corinthians by treating them like his children. – (2 Cor. 12:14)  He suffers because of his love for them.  He fears they will continue in sin and not repent.  He fears there may be quarreling, jealously, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. – (2 Cor. 12:20-21)

Paul reassures them that Christ is speaking through him in 2 Cor. 13:2-10 by telling them Jesus was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God’s power; and we are weak in Him, yet by God’s power we will live with Him to serve you.   He says “examine yourselves…”(2 Cor. 13:5). 

Is there any evidence of God’s grace in you?
Are you righteous on the inside and outside?
Do you hate someone enough to murder him in your heart?

We are not perfect, but we should aim for perfection.

Trust allows us to experience the sufficiently of God’s grace.

What is your current stronghold?
What is your “I can’t”?  Trust Him to meet any of your needs.
How are you trying to keep your weakness from being seen?

His grace is sufficient whether you believe it or not.

When the phone rings with that dreaded call that you hope you will never get, go to these scriptures to see the journey of walking through grace:  2 Cor. 8:2, 9:6, 12:9

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