2 Corinthians 2:5-6:13
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I absolutely love and appreciate Paul's words today in Second Corinthians chapter 2 verses 14 through 16: "But thanks be to God, who made us his captives and leads us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now wherever we go he uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Good News like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those being saved and by those perishing. To those who are perishing we are a fearful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved we are a life-giving perfume." What great imagery! Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God! I love it. It does get sad - but true - in verse 16 when Paul says that to those who are perishing we are a fearful smell of death and doom. Why do you suppose this is? I think it because when someone is living their life completely enslaved to sin and they encounter the light - the fragrance - of the Gospel, they either will embrace it or push it away. Unfortunately I am afraid some folks - perhaps even us in our past - are so enslaved to sin that the sin literally makes us fear / flee from the light and fragrance of the Gospel. Unfortunately sin can ensnare someone such that the Gospel is the fragrance of death and gloom because that is where the sin is leading someone who is enslaved to it - to death and gloom. Sad... and this reminds us of how urgent it is for us to pray for others who are enslaved to sin. Let us pray the fragrance of the Gospel and the grace of God will turn them back toward the Savior of the World who can free them forever - Jesus Christ. Jesus - is there a name more fragrant?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Second Corinthians titled "The Sufficiency of God Through his Spirit" is at this link.
I love Paul's words in Second Corinthians verse 3: "Clearly, you are a letter from Christ prepared by us. It is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on stone, but on human hearts." That is a great concept! We are living letters from Jesus sent out to the world! Have you ever thought of yourself as a letter from Jesus? I have not, but I like it! It's also interesting to realize that the Spirit living within us as Christians professes and gives witness to the glory of God oftentimes without us even realizing it. I heard a quote once that said something like, "Who you are is so strong that I cannot hear a word you are saying." Basically this quote means that the inherent nature of who we are overshadows our very words. It's more important than our words - people notice our inherent nature! Be it good or be it not so good... So, if the Spirit of Jesus is within us I do believe that the Holy Spirit gives witness and gives glory to God to others that we come in contact with - even if we don't say a word! This is the letter that we are from Christ to the world. The letter that is written on our hearts. And of course there is St. Francis of Assisi who said: "Preach the Gospel at all times - use words only when necessary." Again, the Spirit of Jesus within us preaches the Gospel to the world even without us consciously saying words. Don't get me wrong - sometimes words are exactly what are needed. But oftentimes our very presence through the Spirit of Jesus living within us is more than enough. So, let us go forth into our world this week as living letters from Jesus to a hurting and dying world that so needs the Good News of the Gospel! Are you a letter from Jesus?!
I love Second Corinthians chapter 4 verse 1 today. In fact, if there is nothing else you remember from today's readings I hope you will remember the last 4 words of this verse always - "And so, since God in his mercy has given us this wonderful ministry, we never give up." We never give up. That is powerful for each of us to remember. Why? Because we will have good and bad days. Days when we are happy. Days when we might be feeling sad. And there will be days when we make mistakes. When we will stumble. When we will fall. But you know what has often gotten me through days like those? This simple prayer or statement or something that fortunately comes into my mind - "I'm not giving up!" We shouldn't say this as justification for our falling short of God's plan for our life. But, when we do fall short, I have found it helpful. Or, if I haven't fallen short, but bad stuff is happening to me, I say it. And I don't say it just to myself - as if my own will power will get me through the tough times. I say it to God. I say it really as a prayer. I say it almost as a statement against the devil, who would love nothing more than for us to give up. The devil would love it if we stumbled and stayed on the ground. If we decided this Christianity thing was just not for us. But you know what - don't give up! When times are tough. When you stumble, pray it to God - "I'm not giving up." Tell it to yourself. We're not giving up! We're never giving up.... (go frog!) :)
Verse 7 today is indeed a wonderful reminder that we humans are but jars of clay - "But this precious treasure--this light and power that now shine within us--is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own.'" We really do have very fragile bodies. They are wonderful! But they are fragile. They break. They will die. As one writer puts it, "our condition is terminal." And it's true. This side of heaven, our bodies will eventually wear out. But - as Paul tells us in this verse - there is light and power that shines within us when we are in relationship with Jesus! The Holy Spirit indwells our earthen vessels. Our jars of clay. And hopefully we and others recognize that the glory within us is not our own. It is of God. And it is a glory that is available to anyone. Free of charge. It is grace and it beckons us to receive God's glory in our jars of clay so that we will live eternally in heavenly bodies. But for now, we are simply in the hands of the Potter...
Paul's words in Second Corinthians chapter 4 verses 16 through 18 are incredible for each of us to take to heart: "That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever." I don't know about you, but I confess that I all too often get caught up in the troubles we can see right now. I forget about the joys to come that will last forever. It's sad when I forget about the joys to come. There is so much hurt and disaster in our world that I am afraid all too often I focus only on these negative things and forget that this is a world where bad things happen. Through our faith and relationship with Jesus we will one day be in heaven where there will be no more tears. No more crying. No more suffering. But, this side of heaven, we will suffer. Each of our bodies will deteriorate and these earthly bodies will die. But, as Paul says in these verses above, though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day! I pray this is the case for you. I pray this is the case for me. Are you experiencing renewal in your spirit every day? Let us pray for renewal!
Bible.org's commentary on today's Second Corinthians readings titled "Death: No Longer a Foe, but a Friend" is at this link.
Today in Second Corinthians chapter 5 verses 17 and 18 we read – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come. All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” How do these 2 verses speak to you? I have a hunch that you have probably heard the first of these 2 verses before? (Michael W. Smith has a child reciting this verse at the beginning of one of his Worship albums.) I find it interesting to consider the first verse – being a new creation – along with the second verse – because God reconciled us through Jesus. I absolutely love the first verse. If we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we are indeed a new creation. Our old self has gone and the new self has come. And why do we receive this amazing gift? Because the Creator of All has reconciled his Creation (us) to himself through Jesus and the ministry of reconciliation. We have been reconciled to God! This is a powerful thought to consider. It is a joyful thought! It is also a thought that should make us realize that there was a time in our life when we were not reconciled with God. And it should make us realize that there are people in this world right now whom we know who are hurting and are not reconciled with God. Are you reconciled with God through Jesus? Do you rejoice frequently in the Spirit and in prayers of thanksgiving that you are a new creation? Are you working and praying for reconciliation for your family and friends and others God has brought into your life? Do you believe that they want to leave their old self behind and become a new creation?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Second Corinthians titled "Out With the Old, In With the New" is at this link.
I love Paul's opening words in Second Corinthians chapter 6 verses 1 and 2 today, as he quotes from the prophet Isaiah - "As God's partners, we beg you not to reject this marvelous message of God's great kindness. For God says, "At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you." Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation." How does this verse speak to you? What does it mean to you? Do you believe that God is ready to help you right now? Do you believe that today is the day of salvation?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Second Corinthians titled "Authentic Apostleship" is at this link.
Worship Video: Our Second Corinthians readings today reminded me of the Delirious song "Majesty." I had the good fortune to worship to this song with Delirious a few years back just before it was released. They were playing some of their "new stuff" and this was a great song to worship to live! You'll notice the crowd in this video is definitely worshiping.
Do you know our Majestic Lord? Click here for your Majesty!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." 2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you will never lose heart. Pray that you are being renewed day by day through your saving faith with Jesus Christ. Pray that your relationship with Christ encourages you and strengthens you, even while outwardly you may be wasting away.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
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