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Category Archives: 2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 10:17-18

As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.
2 Corinthians 10:17-18

Dear God, I ran into an old friend two nights ago. I hadn’t seen him in several years. The thing that made it awkward was that he had heard about me around town and some of the projects I’ve helped with and really heaped a lot of praise on me. It caught me by surprise and I didn’t know how to respond. It made me very uncomfortable.

Earlier that day, I had preached at a local church. Normally, my insecure spirit longs for praise. I want to hear how “great” I was from the people who were there. This time, however, I found myself being uncomfortable with the compliments. Frankly, I think part of that discomfort was the fact that I wasn’t pleased with the job I did, but part of it was that I just wanted the Holy Spirit work through me. That’s what I kept praying for.

I’m not saying I’ve arrived at this new super spiritual level or anything, and I’m not saying I don’t like or need affirmations. To quote the song “Legacy” by Nichole Nordeman: “I won’t lie it feels alright to see my name in lights. We all need an atta boy or atta girl.” I just don’t seem to need or long for them in this moment like I used to. Have your successfully broken something in me? I hope so. Could my insecurity flare up five minutes from bow and I could be right back where is started? Absolutely.

Father, to quote the chorus of “Legacy” as my prayer to you: “I want to leave a legacy. How will they remember me? Did I choose to love? Did I point to you? I want to make a mark on things. I want to leave an offering. A child of mercy and Grace who blessed your name unapologetically, and leave that kind of legacy.”

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2021 in 2 Corinthians

 

2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1

And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. ” Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.
2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1

Dear God, this passage makes me think of the part of the Lord’s Prayer that asks you to not lead me into temptation. At some point, I have to make a decision to keep myself out of temptation. I need to identify the things that bring out the worst in me and determine that I will avoid them.

In my sermon yesterday, I talked about the importance of seeing you as my daily bread. That’s all part of this too. I think I’ve always interpreted the part of the Lord’s Prayers about daily bread as you providing for our needs, but I also think it’s about me pursuing you each day as well. Seeking your presence. Listening for your voice. Reading your word and contemplating it in my heart.

Father, I offer all of me to you today. Please let your kingdom come onto the earth and your will be done on earth through my life. Forgive me of my sins. Help me to learn more and more what it means to forgive others as you forgive me and to do it. Give me my daily bread today as I commit to coming to you for my daily bread. Help me to see temptation and reject it. You are a glorious, amazing, power, and wonderful God. The kingdoms of this earth and, of course, in heaven are yours, now and forever.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2021 in 2 Corinthians

 

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

12 This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord. I[a] was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know that I was caught up[b] to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell.

That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Dear God, humility is an important thing. And I’ll confess that I struggle with it. In my small town, I’m in a position where a lot of people look up to me. I get too much credit for being nice, and sometimes I start to buy into my own reputation. But there are certainly things you have put into my life to humble me. My wife humbles me. My children humble me. My sin humbles me. The trick is to remember these things, shun the glory that falsely comes my way because anything good in my life is from you. You are the reason anything good comes out of me.

Father, I worship you for what you do and for what you forgive in me. I worship you for giving me so much, and I worship you for giving me struggles. I worship you because you are a great God, and I am but a vapor. I worship you because I owe you everything and you owe me nothing–yet you love me anyway.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2021 in 2 Corinthians

 

2 Corinthians 11:1-3

I hope you will put up with a little more of my foolishness. Please bear with me. For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.
2 Corinthians 11:1-3

Dear God, my first though when I read this passage this morning was to wonder how a church, any church, or even the church where I attend would respond to your criticism. How are we failing you and what would be our response if someone like Paul came to us in your name and laid into us like this? The odds are that our corporate response wouldn’t be very good. We would likely be defensive and throw Paul’s letter away. Which brings up a question I’ve never once considered before: How do we still have this letter today? Why was it not destroyed before it could be canonized? I guess we know at least one key person took it to heart and preserved it.

Anyway, back on topic. My next question was to personalize it more. How would I respond to a prophet of you coming to me with criticism? My initial thought is, “It depends on who the person is.” There are some people from whom I can hear criticism and some I cannot. I’m less likely to hear criticism from my family of origin than I am from a close friend or even members of the board of directors where I work. But then I start to try to discern what types of criticism would you have for me. If I ask the question internally, what do I hear the Holy Spirit telling me?

Father, as a church, give us ears to hear and humility to accept your rebukes. And as for me, give me ears to hear and the willingness to sacrifice whatever you are calling me to sacrifice so that I might not waste the precious, short life you’ve given to me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2021 in 2 Corinthians

 

2 Corinthians 5:18

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

2 Corinthians 5:18

Dear God, the “task of reconciling people to [you].” That is my task. If I am reconciled to you, then that is step one. Step two is about reconciling other people to you. Is there anything more important? Even in my relationships with my wife and children, should the primary thought for them be to ensure they are reconciled to you?

Scale of 1 to 10, I would say I am at a 2 in fulfilling this task. At work, there are a couple of things that kind of hang over my head that are out there that I know I have to deal with. I call the “little clouds.” This one, in terms of my overall life, should probably be more of a “little cloud” than I perceive it to be. As I asked earlier, is there anything more important I should be doing, and why doesn’t it bother me that I am not doing it.

Father, help men to know how to present you in such a way to others that they want to be reconciled to you and that they will know how to do it. Help me to be fully reconciled to you myself. I give you my worship. I give you my praise. Now, help me to do the task you have given me to do.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2021 in 2 Corinthians

 

2 Corinthians 3:6-18

He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life. The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

2 Corinthians 3:6-18

Dear God, it seems like I say this all of the time, but I really underestimate the Holy Spirit, and I really don’t think about or lean on the Holy Spirit enough. In all of the arguments over the law vs grace and all of that, the thing I tend to forget is letting go of all of that and just leaning on the presence, comfort, and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Even now, as I sit here this evening and type this prayer to you, how much am I talking to the Father in heaven and ignoring the Father’s Holy Spirit living in me. Are my prayers focused up or in? When I pray for my friends/family who are facing serious challenges, or when I pray for myself and the decisions or circumstances facing me, why do I forget about the counselor and comforter that Jesus sent us after he ascended to heaven?]

Father (and Holy Spirit), help me to be so in tune with you in every moment that your glory will shine off of me. If people around me see my life as “goals,” then let them see the path to the shine they see on me be a relationship with you. Be glorified in their lives. Be glorified through me. Use my life as you will–for your glory and not mine.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2020 in 2 Corinthians

 

2 Corinthians 10:12-18

12 Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!

13 We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us, which includes our working with you. 14 We are not reaching beyond these boundaries when we claim authority over you, as if we had never visited you. For we were the first to travel all the way to Corinth with the Good News of Christ.

15 Nor do we boast and claim credit for the work someone else has done. Instead, we hope that your faith will grow so that the boundaries of our work among you will be extended. 16 Then we will be able to go and preach the Good News in other places far beyond you, where no one else is working. Then there will be no question of our boasting about work done in someone else’s territory. 17 As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”[c]

18 When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.
2 Corinthians 10:12-18

Dear God, when I really sit and still myself before you, the limits of who I am–who I truly am–come crashing down upon me. I am a broken human who is so grateful to have a God that loves him. I am keenly aware that You are the potter and I am the clay. Yes, there are times when I want people to adore me. I want to be appreciated and admired. I want to be acknowledged, not for anything in particular, but for who I am. I would love to have a spider looking out for me like Wilbur did in Charlotte’s Web, promoting me and telling people that I am:

  • “Some [man]”
  • “Terrific”
  • “Radiant”
  • “Humble”

I have to say, my wife would be very proud of me for making a Charlotte’s Web reference. She loves that book. But the thing is, Wilbur was better than me because he wasn’t really trying to be anything. He was truly humble, and that humility radiated into radiance and terrific-ness.

In this passage, Paul seems to have had his fill of arrogance from others and accusations of arrogance. I really like the part where he says they are boasting by comparing themselves to themselves, “using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!”

Father, in this moment, I just want to worship you. I want to give you all of the glory and be content with sitting in your shadow. I want to be at peace with my life, regardless of the circumstances. I want to somehow transcend looking at the world through my own eyes, but seeing not only the visible world with your eyes, but also the powers and principalities that you see that I cannot. I’ll never do anything of that if I try to boast or bring glory to myself. It never works that way. It didn’t work that way for Wilbur and it won’t work that way for me. Help me to love. Help me to love you and love others beyond any love I receive from others in return.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2020 in 2 Corinthians, Uncategorized

 

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2 Corinthians 3:6

He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:6

Dear God, I prayed recently about works/grace and how James (brother of Jesus) and Paul might have debated the issue. I think this verse gives an insight into Paul’s perspective. Paul was very in tune with the role of the Holy Spirit. It’s something I’ve been seeing more and more lately as I pray for myself and others.

This “new covenant” Paul refers to is such a paradigm shift that I can imagine there was a lot of debate and rejection over it. The old covenant still kept you at a distance from the individual, but this new brings you inside. That is radical. I wonder if that is something I don’t appreciate enough as a difference between Christianity and other religions such as Islam.

Father, help me to fully understand what all of this means. Help me to internalize (no pun intended) this concept and share it with others as appropriate. And as I pray for others, such as family and friends, make me mindful of this concept.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2019 in 2 Corinthians

 

The Flood – Genesis 7:17-24


The image above is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image itself is called “And Such Were You” and was created by Matthew L. Clark and Ned Bustard.

Dear God, I looked at this passage this morning and looked at the picture for a while and, frankly, I was having trouble getting anything from it. Then I read Bustard’s commentary in the bottom paragraph on the left. It says:

This large woodcut lifts the wave from the famous Ulithi-e woodblock print The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai Katsushika and the ark from a small Washington print by Saadi Watanabe to create an image intended to communicate the idea of God’s goodness as seen through the preservation and redemption of the unworthy. The animals on this ark are not the cute, innocent animals found in a Noah’s Ark play set. According to the traditional symbolism in Christian art, these animals are all evil: the bear (evil influence), the cat (laziness), the goat (the damned), the blackbird (temptation of the flesh), the ape (malice), the leopard (cruelty), the owl (devotion), the hog (gluttony) and the fox (guile). The passengers on the ark that God chooses to save are undeserving–as are the people described in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

So, of course, after I read that, I went to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral nor idolators nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor greedy nor dunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (NIV)

Yes, I like this. I like Bustard’s idea that you saved the unworthy with the ark and you saved me, the unworthy, with Jesus. The trick is, how do I stop grieving you with wickedness in my heart. And it’s not just the obvious that sticks out on the Corinthians passage like the idolatry and sexual immorality, but it’s the seemingly little things like slander, drunkenness and stealing. No one is innocent. We love to judge others, but none of us are pure.

Father, help me to embrace your forgiveness and pursue you. Help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me, extend grace when it isn’t deserved and being your light of love, joy, peace, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness and self control into the world.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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2 Corinthians 5:16-21

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 [NLT]

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Dear God, there is some work for us to do here. We have a task set out for us—to reconcile people to you through our knowledge of who Jesus is and what He did. We are Jesus’ ambassadors, and you use us to make your appeal to people. And what’s our message? That Jesus came to bring us freedom through the release of our sins by His own sacrifice.

There is a billboard out on the highway about five miles outside of my town. It’s says something like, “Jesus can free you from your sin.” I’ve had a negative initial reaction to it. Going back to my marketing training, I’ve wondered what I would say instead. For me, it all starts with the four questions a man taught me back in 1995. These are what I ask myself before I write a piece:

  • Who am I talking to?
  • What do they think?
  • What do I want them to think?
  • How do I get them to think that?

In the case of this billboard, part of my “what do they think?” answer is that I think the word sin has a lot of baggage and, for the purposes of this billboard, I probably would have avoided it. People are miserable in their sin. They hide it. The deny it. They hold onto it because it pretends to offer them what they think they want. What they don’t want is to be judged by me or preached at by a billboard.

So what would I put on that billboard? I heard a sermon on the gospel from Andy Stanley back in December, and this thesis was, “I understand not being able to bring yourself to believe in the Jesus of the Bible, but I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t WANT it to be true.” That’s probably where I would go with this billboard. As your ambassador, I think my message should be, “The Jesus of the Bible can set you free!”

Father, help me to live this message to those who come across my path today. There are times when I feel like I am a terrible ambassador for you. I let way too many opportunities pass me by. I’m sorry for that. Please give me your eyes to see, ears to hear, courage to act, and words to say.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2019 in 2 Corinthians

 

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