2 Corinthians 6 Part 2–The Critical Nature of Being Aligned

It is difficult to do life. Everyday pressures, expectations, and circumstances wear us down and push us to the edge.  It was the same during Paul’s time. People were doing jobs, getting married, raising kids and dealing with life’s pressures and without technology.  In the midst of that, Paul tells the people do not be unequally yoked. As a married couple, it is critical to be aligned. in life, we need to be aligned with those we count on to walk through life with us.  If we are not, it adds a layer of complexity in an already complex situation.  Is it doable, sure! Is it difficult–you bet! Bottom line Paul told the Corinthians–get aligned.
 
In our time, it is equally important to be aligned. Believers should consider faith as a critical component for marriage. If a couple does not share the same faith, it will mean strife at every major event. Going through a crisis together and aligned is often the only thing that allows the family to pass through to the other side. There is little in the world that encourages such alignment. Yet, when we see families aligned in faith, there is so much more harmony and unity in good and bad times.  They operate with a purpose and a perspective that is bigger than themselves. In Paul’s time and now, folks must consider faith a critical component in choosing a life partner and in raising a family!
 
God Bless You

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[b]? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”[c]

17 Therefore,

“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”[d]

18 And,

“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”[e]

2 Corinthians 6 Part 1–Not an Easy Assignment

Paul could not have been any clearer. When He signed up for his role as Christ’s ambassador to the Gentiles, it was not an easy gig.  He was an up and coming Pharisee. Trained by the best, taking on the toughest jobs he was in line to be a prominent Jewish leader. What’s more, as a Roman citizen, he had rights and access that most Jewish leaders simply did not possess. In the midst to his rise, Paul was brought face to face with Jesus. From that moment on, everything changed. He went from being loved by many to being hated by most. He went from financial and social prominence to poverty and imprisonment. He changed the world, but was beaten, stoned, jailed, demonized, accused and never fully understood.  He died in prison at the hand of Nero. Still, he would have it no other way. He said it best in Philippians 3, 
 

“If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

As his ambassadors of today, no one promises it will be easy.  Living a life counter to the current culture will bring criticism, harassment, and possible persecution. As we watch the world unfold, those that stand for Christian principles are being put to the test daily. But, like Paul, we have to face those trials with the promise of eternity and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  We should not expect easy–instead, we should train for struggles, put on the whole armor of God and follow Christ in battle. If it is not daily warfare, awesome! But better to be ready and not battle in a day than to be unprepared and then defeated. 

God Bless You

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path so that our ministry will not be discredited.Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying,and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.

2 Corinthians 5 Part 1–The Best Is Yet to Come

It is often easy to forget that this world is simply not our home.  Paul was reminding the Corinthians that as humans we walk on the earth in a temporary dwelling. These bodies we have been given were not built to last.  Instead, God sent the Holy Spirit as a deposit and a reminder that we will receive Heavenly bodies as we join the Lord for eternity. What’s more, not only are these bodies temporary, but this life is also temporary.  God calls us to live for eternal things.
 
If we spend our lives gathering and building as if this world is all that there is, we, as His children, have completely missed the point.  Nothing about this life is lasting–except the things we do to become like Christ.  The greatest legacy we can leave is not some monument or vault full of riches. Instead, the legacy is a group of friends and family that know and love God and will spend eternity with us as we are with Him. While we are here, we must be open and vocal about Christ; because soon we will be with Him–in new bodies and with those that have grasped the critical nature of knowing the Lord, personally.  As Paul so clearly put it, “To be at home in our bodies is to be away from the Lord!”  We must live lives that point us toward being home with the Lord!!!
 
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.

2 Corinthians 4–A Priceless Message in Jars of Clay…

Paul is serving up two messages this day. The first message is that the light of God is delivered to those that would believe in a very straight forward way.  There are no tricks, nor is there a lot of pomp and ceremony. The truth is simply that God loves us, but, our sin has separated us from that love. Christ came and revealed God’s love to us and then demonstrated it by His death, burial and resurrection. We must accept God’s gift and follow Christ to restore the relationship with God and have eternal life. While the message is simple, many are blinded to that truth simply because they are not willing to submit or believe in the spiritual aspect of life.
 
The second message is equally critical–as messengers, we are like jars of clay. We are neither glamorous nor are we impervious to the attacks of life or of our enemy Satan.  What is more, as we follow God, we can be assured that we will be pressed down on every side–but not crushed. We will seem perplexed–but not in complete despair. We will be persecuted–but, not abandoned-He will walk through it with us!!! We will be struck down–but not destroyed! We will be containers full of Christ’s Gospel–ready to die; knowing that even in our death–Christ’s gift of life will be revealed.  It is so much bigger than us, so we must live ready to do whatever it takes to reveal Christ to all who might believe!!! 
 
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.

2 Corinthians 1 Part 1–God of Comfort

Make no mistake, God is never surprised.  Often the church finds itself in times of difficulty, distress and even persecution by the enemy and the world.  Some that seek Him with their hearts are literally fighting daily for their lives and existence.  Even in normal times, Christians experience trials of various kinds of health, career, financial and relationship issues that are at best a distraction and often debilitating. Paul started his second letter to the Corinthians with the reminder that God is there to comfort and to care for His own.  Paul made no promise as to avoiding trouble, trials, and difficulties–he simply reminded the Corinthians that those struggles would not have to be faced alone.
 
Our Lord does love and care for us like none other.  He provides peace in the midst of chaos; meets needs that seem unquenchable and provides hope and direction in a life that would be otherwise hopeless and aimless.  As His chosen, We have to stand firm.  We must cling to the faith and hope that God will, in fact, provide all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19. We cannot focus on what the world is doing, what others are doing and even what the church is doing.  We must focus our eyes on the eternal truth that We are loved, and protected and being prepared for by our Father.  We must start each day in His word and on our knees seeking him first and foremost.  If we will, He will, in fact, comfort us and come alongside He is a God that comforts and protects His own.  
 
God Bless You

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.

I Corinthians 14 Part 1–About Spiritual Gifts

Paul continues to discuss the way of love and focuses upon the gifts of the spirit.  Paul was not discouraging the desire to have the ability to speak in tongues, prophecy, interprets tongues, or heals the sick.  Paul instead was reminding the people that those things are an outpouring of the relationship we have with the Lord and their use should be for the growth of that relationship and the edification of others. From Paul’s perspective, God continues to look at what is coming from our heart and as He blesses His children with the spiritual gifts–it is the Father’s desire that they are used as tools for personal and community development of the body of Christ.
 
The same remains true today. When we follow the Lord, He will grant us spiritual gifts to assist us in our personal walks with Him and to develop the body of Christ. We should not fear the gifts, judge folks for which gifts they manifest nor use God’s gifts to honor ourselves.  Instead, we should seek Him and His Kingdom first. as we do, we can then allow the Father to transform us into His image and lead us toward Him.  If we are to be prophets, speakers of tongues, interpreters, healers or which other gifts he chooses to grant–then as we operate in those gifts, we should do so humbly and with the intent of glorifying God and not ourselves. It was never God’s intent to cause division through equipping His saints–but, you can rest assured the enemy will use anything to neutralize and minimize the church’s impact on the world–division is one of Satan’s best tools!
 
God Bless You

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue[a] does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,[b] but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues,[c] unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.

I Corinthians 13 Part 2–The Greatest Gifts

Love never fails, or ends! Paul continued his discussion about spiritual gifts, He wanted to shift the focus from the manifestation of the gifts, and return the discussion to the true gift.  Love is God’s greatest gift to us and for us.  Without Love, life loses all its luster and purpose.  God designed people to be in relationship with him and with each other.  The common theme in that design is the gift os Love.  So Paul encouraged the Corinthians to see the word from the perspective of God’s chosen and not focus on tongues, prophecy leadership or one of the other spiritual gifts but to instead focus upon Love. When God’s people can focus upon him and his love, then the outpouring of the gifts are abundant.  Christians use the gifts to serve God and His people.  They were never supposed to be the prize, they were to be the tools to lead the world to God, the real prize.

In our lives, God has shown us that it is the same.  In the midst of a chaotic culture, those who are faithful, hopeful and loving are the ones that truly experience peace and purpose.  Whether or not they are doing miraculous things or simply laying their lives down for Christ and the family of God, God gets the glory and we enjoy his grace and power.  We cannot fully understand God’s plan for our lives.  It is so much bigger than we conceptualize. But if we trust him,(Faith), remain hopeful (Hope) and love Him (love); then he will pour out his blessings in our lives and prepare us to be a light and a guide to others.  Let’s cling to the great gifts–Faith, Hope, and Love and allow him to reveal other gifts in His timing!

God Bless You

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.12 For now, we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.