Posted in Devotions

2 Corinthians 5 Part 2–the Masterpiece

I was considering the amazing God we serve.  At a word, He created the universe! The very closest star to us, our sun is 93,0000,000 miles away.  The next is 4.36 light years away. That equates to roughly 24 Quadrillion miles away (A quadrillion miles is 1000 trillion). The scope of billions of stars spread across thousands of galaxies is unfathomable!

Next, consider the beauty of the earth.  A sunrise over a lovely ocean beach, the undersea beauty of a coral ridge filled with tropical sea life, the Rocky Mountain landscapes crested with fresh snow. waving wheat, sweltering deserts, and the vast wonder of the Grand and Waimea Canyons.

Finally, think of the precise symmetry of life and our personal bodies.  All things working in rhythm and order as life moves by. From the nucleus of a cell, to the orbits of our solar system, the creation moves as one.

Considering these amazing expressions of God’s creation, the Creator, Himself, holds us out as His crowning creation. He created us in His image, so that we could be in fellowship with Him.  That fellowship was broken by sin and its dividing power of separation. Then Jesus,  came, taught, died, and rose so that we might be redeemed and returned to fellowship with our Lord. 

This incredible reality is what makes 2 Corinthians 5:17 one of the most breathtaking verses in God’s Bible! “BEHOLD! if anyone is in Christ, they are a NEW creation, the old things have passed away, and ALL HAS BECOME NEW.” Imagine, a new creation by the ultimate sculptor.  Also, Paul reminds us that He who began this work in us will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ return! Philippians 1:5. 

God will recreate us and refine and do the fine brush and tool work all the days of our lives,  In the end, we will return to the Father as a masterpiece worthy of the finest galleries and destined for an eternal life with the Master Artist and Author!

God Bless You

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 

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2 Corinthians 5 Part 1–Remember You Are Camping…

We are entering the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It is a time of true celebration.  We, as the chosen of the Lord, can be thankful that our lives are a small part of an eternal journey.  Knowing that, it brings up vast lists of things to be grateful for. 

One of the things we can all treasure is that no matter our current circumstance, we are headed for eternity in God’s presence.  sadly, life’s pressures and trials we divert our focus from God and toward the chaotic world, and we lose site of the glorious future that is Heaven.

We will be like our lord with eternal bodies, and without pain and suffering.  No sin or greed. No selfish desires to outlive or outdo another.  We will finally understand the love a Heavenly Father truly has for His own.

Meanwhile, we can live lives of grateful appreciation for our personal journey, no matter how great or small.  We have to enjoy the blessings we have, and not grow disheartened or jealous of those who have more. 

In an eternal sense, we are camping! so, whether you are at Jellystone, or you find yourself “Glamping” in a lovely life, it will be over in a flash, and we will be out of the woods and with the Lord. So be grateful for what you have; and then you can live as though this is a camping trip leading you home!

Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless You

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

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2 Corinthians 4 Part 1–Treasure in Disposable Containers!

It is often misleading to walk on the earth.  We build our lives, our families, our careers, and our hopes and dreams; somehow believing we have control or mastery over life.  The truth is that these lives we lead are as fragile as jars of clay.  We were cleaning our garage this weekend, and in the organizing found a box of Frankoma mugs.  Those mugs were originally purchased by my wife’s mom ad have stood the test of time for over 70 years. Still, one errant slip and that beautiful pottery would crash and crumble into a pile of shards.

Paul is reminding the Corinthians we house the treasure of God’s Spirit in these jars of clay we call human bodies. Even those that are fine China, beautiful and unique, will easily crumble into shards over time.  Still the life within, that which we have been given by the Father, is the true treasure and will last forever.  These sad little jars of clay, after all, were never made to last for eternity.  

When we add the trials, temptations, and wear and tear, our bodies fail us in many ways.  We cannot withstand the cultural attacks, the calls of our human nature, and the pressures of life. The result is a dinged-up, beat-up and tired out body.  Still, in the midst of these jars of clay, lives a child of God. Our Father loves us, and He gives us salvation through Jesus to make sure our treasured lives would be in relationship with Him for now and forever.  

Treasure chest isolated on white background

In that, we can take hope when we feel those pains and pulls of age and wear.  We can march forward; all be it a little more slowly. We can stand tall, (with a bit of a groan) knowing that within us is a treasure of undeterminable value that will last in peace for all eternity.

God Bless You

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it 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 that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

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2 Corinthians 3–The Only Credential We Need

Paul finds himself defending his resume?!!? Here in this letter to one of the largest and most productive of the gentile churches, Paul is responding to the accusations that his apostleship was made up.  I am sure Paul was not a patient man.  He probably did not suffer fools! He was taught by the Superstar of Rabbi’s. He was the “Rookie of the Year” as a Pharisee.  He was literally called to ministry by a risen Savior.  Paul traded his wealth, fame and fortune to become a tent making, constantly berated, missionary that was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned.

So, now, in a place where God had literally used him to start to change the world, He is faced with the need to set the record straight.  So, Paul, as is his beautiful way, does just that. It is a phrase that should rock our world and guide our everyday life. “You yourselves are all the endorsement we need”…The Greek Phrase literally says the “Letter of us You are, inscribed in the hearts of us! Being known and being read by all men!” 

Paul simply did not need an endorsement for several reasons.  First, Paul was playing to one audience, The Lord! God our Father knew Paul’s heart and mission! He set him on it, afterall! This man that thrived on the praise and approval of others had been transformed into a humble and focused man clinging to the phrase, “To Live is Christ and to die is gain!”

He mentions Moses’ veil. Moses would leave the tent of meeting after being in God’s presence and would glow with God’s presence. In time, though, the glow would fade, and Moses would be like everyone else. Sound familiar? So, Moses would put on a mask to hide that humanness.  Paul said, I simply am not wearing a mask! I am changed from the inside out and this glow is the collection of lives the Father has allowed me to lead back to Him!

We need not put on our “Holy veil”. We are human and sometimes the glow fades. But, if we focus on the mission, the glow becomes the lives we are affecting for Christ! We need no justification, Christ provided that.  We are simply playing to an audience of one, God our Father!  He has become our sole credential!  

We need not fear that we will fail, because the only way to fail is to quit!  In 2 Timothy, Paul says it best–“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race and I have kept the faith!” 2 Timothy 4:7-8.  And now, the prize awaits us, a crown of righteousness.  Paul did not need a letter; he had the affirmation in the lives he touched and, in the Lord, he served! We get to enjoy that same affirmation because of who he was!

God Bless You

1-3 Does it sound like we’re patting ourselves on the back, insisting on our credentials, asserting our authority? Well, we’re not. Neither do we need letters of endorsement, either to you or from you. You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone but carved into human lives—and we publish it.

4-6 We couldn’t be surer of ourselves in this—that you, written by Christ himself for God, are our letter of recommendation. We wouldn’t think of writing this kind of letter about ourselves. Only God can write such a letter. His letter authorizes us to help carry out this new plan of action. The plan wasn’t written out with ink on paper, with pages and pages of legal footnotes, killing your spirit. It’s written with Spirit on spirit, his life on our lives!

Lifting the Veil

7-8 The Government of Death, its constitution chiseled on stone tablets, had a dazzling inaugural. Moses’ face as he delivered the tablets was so bright that day (even though it would fade soon enough) that the people of Israel could no more look right at him than stare into the sun. How much more dazzling, then, the Government of Living Spirit?

9-11 If the Government of Condemnation was impressive, how about this Government of Affirmation? Bright as that old government was, it would look downright dull alongside this new one. If that makeshift arrangement impressed us, how much more this brightly shining government installed for eternity?

12-15 With that kind of hope to excite us, nothing holds us back. Unlike Moses, we have nothing to hide. Everything is out in the open with us. He wore a veil so the children of Israel wouldn’t notice that the glory was fading away—and they didn’t notice. They didn’t notice it then and they don’t notice it now, don’t notice that there’s nothing left behind that veil. Even today when the proclamations of that old, bankrupt government are read out, they can’t see through it. Only Christ can get rid of the veil so they can see for themselves that there’s nothing there.

16-18 Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

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2 Corinthians 2 Part 2–Staying on Mission

It is very important that we Listen to the Lord and follow His lead.  Paul was working his way through the journey that the Lord had laid out and, for a time, was simply not feeling the rhythm.  As Paul was going, God was opening doors and saving the lost, yet Paul was not gaining the acclaim and celebrity that others had gained, and was not a preacher for profit, but a preacher walking in alignment with God’s plan.

Paul remained frustrated that His apostleship was always questioned and scrutinized! Still, he marched faithfully. Paul knew that God called him to a mission to save the gentile world, and that mission would never be a delight to the Jewish world.  

We are all called to walk the journey laid out by the Heavenly Father! Like Paul, we need to listen and follow God’s lead.  By faith, as we do so, we will see lives changed.  Sadly, we will also be a stench to those that do not follow the Lord.

If we, like Paul, can remain on mission, the reward will be stunning, and we will enjoy the sweet aroma of God’s presence and fruit in our lives.  If, on the other hand, we try to pilot our own ship, as disciples we will miss the joys and treasure of finishing the race.  We can never lose sight of the Lord’s path, never lose hope in His plan, and never, NEVER lose faith in God’s promise to remain with us throughout the journey!   

Jesus said it best, “All authority has been given to me! So,as you are going, make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Teaching them all I have taught and commanded you! And above all, PLEASE,PLEASE, PLEASE remember that I am with you always even until the end of the age!”  Matthew 28:18-20 (MAS Amplified).

God Bless You

Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, 13 I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia.

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.

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2 Corinthians 2 Part 1–Words…Weapons or Tools?

What kind of world would it be if each of us focused upon not grieving others and forgiving those who have grieved us?  In Paul’s letter, that is the topic of the day.  Paul was still considering his visit to the Corinthians and assuring them that they were a critical part of his ministry.  He explained that his letter was written for their edification and not their torment.

So many times, we speak to those with thinner skin than we are accustomed to, and they become hurt by our words and thoughts.  We then have to spend a lot of time restoring them and encouraging them.  Also, we often find in our own vulnerability, that words form others seem more like blows than advice and encouragement.

Paul’s lesson to us is simple, Do not say hurtful things.  When you speak the truth IN LOVE, make sure we are truly speaking in Love.  And if we are hurt by the words of another, let it go, knowing that people typically do not reach out to hurt us, but to help.  It is often difficult to forgive slights, but it is incredibly freeing and will allow you to operate in love to others.

We have to use words like the valuable tools that they are.  Do not waste them, do not use them as weapons, and listen carefully so that you will not miss the treasures shared with you.

God Bless You

So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you. For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved? I wrote as I did, so that when I came I would not be distressed by those who should have made me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy. For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.

Forgiveness for the Offender

If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

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2 Corinthians 1 Part 2–God Does Not Change Course

What an interesting way to start a letter to Paul’s mission church.  As is the case many times in the mission of Paul, Paul’s character was challenged by the Judaizers.  They said Paul was a flip/flop guy that was all about the law, then suddenly, he is all about grace.  Moreover, the church at Corinth was having their greatest success and most difficult trials and temptations to make this church’s focus about themselves and not about the Lord.

So, Paul meets it head on! First, and foremost, God has a plan and does not waiver from it.  Paul tells these Corinthians, (and a few of us here in Texas as well), God does not flip/flop.  His original plan to return to the church at Corinth was not necessarily God’s plan! Paul loved the people and wanted to pour into them.  The struggles within the church had become known in the world and to Paul; and Paul realized his coming to Corinth would only cause stress to Paul and to all!  He would continue to pray and to mentor this church, however, through those he loved and trained, and through the letters that have trained the world.

God’s will and plan are set! We change course at various times and then grow concerned that we somehow have upset God’s applecart!  Please, do not be deceived, God has known us since the beginning of time, and He knows our hearts and minds like none other.  Our Father is never surprised and can work ALL things together for good! (Romans 8:28)

All God asks is that we trust and follow Him. As we follow, we are bound to stumble, feel lost and alone, and even lose sight of the end of the journey.  The great news is that while we may struggle, God simply does not.  Like a great mystery writer, God weaves the twists and turns, the trials and temptations, and the victories and defeats together into a beautiful quilt that reflects His grace and glory.

As Paul continues to remind us in Romans 8, there is no condemnation for His chosen. No matter how difficult the struggle the rewards for us are exceedingly greaterHis plan is best, and absolutely nothing can separate us from His love and plan!

God Bless You

11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Paul’s Change of Plans

12 Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity[b] and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 13 For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, 14 as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.

15 Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both “Yes, yes” and “No, no”?

18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas[c] and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so, through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

23 I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.

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2 Corinthians 1 Part 1–The God of all Comfort

It is a difficult time in our country.  There is so much unrest, so much division.  In the difficult times, it remains especially difficult to put our focus on the Lord, and on the pain and need of others.  Paul begins the second letter to the Corinthians with a lovely reminder. The trials we face build a completeness and endurance that are necessary to navigate this life.  In addition, the trials we face that could cause us anxiety and pain,  then becomes a comfort to others facing the same trials in their lives.

First, when others see us face trials, they no longer feel alone in their struggles.  It is inevitable that everyone is somewhere in the process of dealing with trials.  We are either coming into a trial, in the middle of a trial, or just delivered from a trial. In each of those locations, God is using us.  As we are coming into a trial, God uses us to show the world our reliance upon God and not on ourselves.  When we are relying upon God, we face trials with confidence and an absence of fear.  In those times, the world scratches its head; wondering how we can be so calm.

Next, while in a trial, we continue to rely upon God and not on our own abilities.  Our willingness to wait upon God often produces crazy answers along the path and better long-term results.  Still, while we are waiting, the circumstances seem overwhelming.  The world remains amazed at the resolve we gain from the Spirit, and often seeks our counsel on how to allow God to also be their comfort.

Finally, upon deliverance, we give the glory to our Lord.  As He is given center stage, we are no longer worried about our pride and position.  We are only concerned that God is glorified in our behavior and attitudes.  As we read the opening of Paul’s letter, clearly, He wants to offer hope and place the praise on God that walks us through trials.

This week, we will focus on those themes and see if we are aligned with the vision of Lordship that Paul is laying out for the Corinthians.  If we do align, we will experience peace and victory in our lives and show those we love what victory in Jesus looks like!

God Bless You

 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise to the God of All Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

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I Corinthians 16–The Wrap-Up

In Paul’s wrap up, he takes care of a number of issues.  The first issue relates to the area of generosity.  Paul reminds this wealthy church at Corinth that their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem were in need; and that the Corinthian church needed to assist.  He took the time to remind them to set aside some money each week, not to wait until he showed up.  It is easier to remain faithful in giving if it is a habit and not as an event.  

In addition, Paul asked the church to honor and protect Timothy, Paul’s main disciple.  Timothy was young and often disregarded due to his youth.  Paul wanted to assure that Timothy was given the respect due Him as a man of God.  Like any father, Paul knew the power Timothy possessed and simply wanted the church to encourage Timothy.

After the minor reminders, Paul gives 5 anchors to cling to as God’s chosen. 

First, Paul reminds the Corinthians to BE ON GUARD.  The enemy does his best work when we perceive that all is well.  We get a little comfortable and a little self-confident and then “Bam”, Satan hits us with a trial or temptation that rocks our world. So, Paul is reminding the church not to let their guard down. 

Second, Paul encouraged the Corinthians to STAND FIRM.  They were growing and prospering as a family of believers. As they were more inclusive, the enemy would push them to waiver on issues of faith.  In an attempt to make everyone feel special, they were being asked to compromise principles.  Paul told the church to stand firm in the faith that they had been taught,  We are called to do the same.

Third, Paul tells the Corinthians to be COURAGEOUS.  The enemy uses fear as a liar and main tool of neutralizing or minimizing the church.  Paul is reminding the Corinthians to set aside that fear and be courageous!  

Fourth, We are to be STRONG,  We cannot cave in every time circumstance or temptation attempt to defeat us. The church has to keep swinging as it is in spiritual battle.  We have to put on the full armor of God and wield the sword of the spirit until it freezes to our hand!

Fifth and finally, the church is to do everything coming from a place of LOVE.  As we were reminded in Chapter 13, without Love all that one says is noise, all that one gives is waste and all that one sacrifices is worthless! Love inhabits the other traits and conquers all!

God Bless You

 Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.

Personal Requests

After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.

10 When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. 11 No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.

12 Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.

13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.

15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, 16 to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. 17 I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.

Final Greetings

19 The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla[a] greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 20 All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

21 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.

22 If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord[b]!

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.[c]

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I Corinthians 15 Final–Heavenly Bodies?

So, have you ever wondered what we will look like in Heaven?  Will we all be wearing white robes, holding harps, and have golden wings? will we sit on clouds or float along in some ethereal mist?  NO! God will take our broken-down human bodies and transform them into new spiritual ones!  

I must confess that I am looking forward to the change.  At 5-4 and 2XX lbs., this model has more things that no longer work than do work. My hair, smell and hearing have left me.  I wear tri-focal lenses. The list goes on! So, what ever I get in the trade will be a drastic improvement…

OK, all humor aside! God is preparing us for eternity with Him.  What the Lord has in store will be absolutely amazing. Think about the mount of Transfiguration. 

     And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 

We will be transformed into something pure and eternal.  We will not change into something that is unrecognizable.  Peter, James, and John still recognized the Lord, Moses and Elijah.  What we can be assured of is that God will transform each of us into eternal perfect parts of His family.

In the meantime, we are to stand firm in the faith.  We must remember that this life is a preparation for what is to come.  In the eternal, there will be no more tears! There will be no more pain, and we will be in the presence of our Father and our Lord!  I can assure you that in that place, we will properly be outfitted to stand in the presence of our Father, and we will not be concerned with our appearance—we will only be concerned with His!

God Bless You  

35 But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” 36 What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. 37 And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. 38 Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. 39 Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.

40 There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. 41 The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.

42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

45 The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.”[h] But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. 46 What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. 47 Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. 48 Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. 49 Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like[i] the heavenly man.

50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.

51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,[j] this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.[k]
55 O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?[l]

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.