Sunday 21 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 11:1-6

11 I hope you will put up with me in a little foolish bragging. Yes, please put up with me! 2 My jealousy for you comes from God himself. I promised to give you to only one husband. That husband is Christ. I wanted to be able to give you to him as if you were a pure virgin. 3 But Eve’s mind was tricked by the snake’s clever lies. And here’s what I’m afraid of. Your minds will also somehow be led astray. They will be led away from your true and pure love for Christ. 4 Suppose someone comes to you and preaches about a Jesus different from the Jesus we preached about. Or suppose you receive a spirit different from the Spirit you received before. Or suppose you receive a different message of good news. Suppose it was different from the one you accepted earlier. You put up with those kinds of things easily enough. 5 I don’t think I’m in any way less important than those “super-apostles.” 6 It’s true that I haven’t been trained as a speaker. But I do have knowledge. I’ve made that very clear to you in every way.

Pauls fear for the church in Corinth was that somehow, their pure and undivided devotion to Christ would become corrupted through deception.

How was Eve deceived by satan? It was this idea that God was holding something back, that God didn’t really mean what he said and that there was something to be gained by not completely obeying God’s command.

So, Paul’s plea to remain pure and undivided in devotion to God, for me is the call to complete obedience to God’s commands.

I have to ask myself, am I obeying God’s commands fully? Am I doing everything that he has asked me to do?

I would like to be able to say yes, that I do obey all the time, but honestly, I don’t. So today, I hear Pauls plea and check myself, not for perfection, but to make sure that I am heading in the right direction, that no matter what God has asked me to do, no matter how hard I think it is, and some days it is hard, I check my bearings against the compass of God’s Word and keep walking in complete obedience.

I am thankful Lord, for not condemning me for getting off track, and for not giving up on me and continually calling me into that pure and undivided devotion to you. When I consider all that you have done for me, how could I give you anything less?

Written by Andrew Martin

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Saturday 20 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 10:12-18

12 I don’t dare to compare myself with those who praise themselves. I’m not that kind of person. They measure themselves by themselves. They compare themselves with themselves. When they do that, they are not wise. 13 But I won’t brag more than I should. God himself has given me an opportunity for serving. I will only brag about what I have done with that opportunity. This opportunity for serving also includes you. 14 I am not going too far in my bragging. I would be going too far if I hadn’t come to where you live. But I did get there with the good news about Christ. 15 And I won’t brag about work done by others. If I did, I would be bragging more than I should. As your faith continues to grow, I hope that my work among you will greatly increase. 16 Then I will be able to preach the good news in the areas beyond you. I don’t want to brag about work already done in someone else’s territory. 17 But, “The one who brags should brag about what the Lord has done.” (Jeremiah 9:24) 18 Those who praise themselves are not accepted. Those the Lord praises are accepted.

How great is our God. He makes the sun to rise every day and sets the stars in place each night for our enjoyment. He sends the rain and provides again and again and again. He give the exact amount of oxygen so we can breathe and surrounds it perfectly with nitrogen so we don’t explode and catch fire. He places us in families and surrounds us with love and people to love. He gives us work to do – good work, fun tasks that were tailor made for us to do before the world began.  He gives us commands that show how indescribably generous he is. Commands like “take a rest once a week” and “do not fear – I am with you.”

But greatest of all, He has given up his Son – to die so I could live. The greatest gift He could possibly give. The greatest gift the world has ever known.

If there is to be any boasting (v17) let it be of this God, who is great beyond words! Amen

Written by Boudy van Noppen

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Friday 19 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 10:1-11

10 Christ is humble and free of pride. Because of this, I make my appeal to you. I, Paul, am the one you call “shy” when I am face to face with you. But when I am away from you, you think I am “bold” toward you. 2 I am coming to see you. Please don’t make me be as bold as I expect to be toward some people. They think that I live the way the people of this world live. 3 I do live in the world. But I don’t fight my battles the way the people of the world do. 4 The weapons I fight with are not the weapons the world uses. In fact, it is just the opposite. My weapons have the power of God to destroy the camps of the enemy. 5 I destroy every claim and every reason that keeps people from knowing God. I keep every thought under control in order to make it obey Christ. 6 Until you have obeyed completely, I will be ready to punish you every time you don’t obey. 7 You are judging only by how things look on the surface. Suppose someone is sure they belong to Christ. Then they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. 8 Do I brag too much about the authority the Lord gave me? If I do, it’s because I want to build you up, not tear you down. And I’m not ashamed of that kind of bragging. 9 Don’t think that I’m trying to scare you with my letters. 10 Some say, “His letters sound important. They are powerful. But in person he doesn’t seem like much. And what he says doesn’t amount to anything.” 11 People like that have a lot to learn. What I say in my letters when I’m away from you, I will do in my actions when I’m with you.

Have you ever met a person who thinks they are always right? Some people believe if they think something it must be right. Maybe you are one of these people only to find out you are often wrong. This usually happens if you fail to realise all thoughts and ideas need to be tested for correctness. To do this you need to be ‘thinking about what you are thinking’.

Paul knew this to be true and in verse 2-5 NIV he states; 1) He does NOT live by the standards (thoughts and ways) of this world. 2) He tests all thoughts and ideas to see if they are in line with his knowledge of God and the teachings of Christ.

This may sound simple but when you are confronting the grind of daily life with beliefs that are often contrary to society it becomes obvious why Paul uses the language of battles and warfare.

We love people but we are at war with the thoughts and ideas that stand against people finding God. For us to be effective in this battle we must first be sure we are thinking right thoughts before we can challenge others. The good news is there is supernatural power (v4) available to us when we challenge the ideas that separate us and others from God.

So, take the opportunity today to be more aware of your thoughts and challenge any wrong thinking.

Help us today God to be more aware of what we are thinking so in turn we can help others to tear down the barriers that have separated us all from You.

Written by David Newton

1 (reply)
  1. Justin Ware says:

    I love the reminder here that we have the mighty power of the Holy Spirit and the infallible word of God to use to defeat the arguments that the enemy throws at us.
    Lord, help me to use these tools well to contend for my faith!

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Thursday 18 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 9:1-15

9 I don’t need to write to you about giving to the Lord’s people. 2 I know how much you want to help. I have been bragging about it to the people in Macedonia. I have been telling them that since last year you who live in Achaia were ready to give. You are so excited that it has stirred up most of them to take action. 3 But I am sending the brothers. Then our bragging about you in this matter will have a good reason. You will be ready, just as I said you would be. 4 Suppose people from Macedonia come with me and find out that you are not prepared. Then we, as well as you, would be ashamed of being so certain. 5 So I thought I should try to get the brothers to visit you ahead of time. They will finish the plans for the large gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a gift freely given. It will not be given by force. 6 Here is something to remember. The one who plants only a little will gather only a little. And the one who plants a lot will gather a lot. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. You shouldn’t give if you don’t want to. You shouldn’t give because you are forced to. God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to shower all kinds of blessings on you. So in all things and at all times you will have everything you need. You will do more and more good works. 9 It is written, “They have spread their gifts around to poor people. Their good works continue forever.” (Psalm 112:9) 10 God supplies seed for the person who plants. He supplies bread for food. God will also supply and increase the amount of your seed. He will increase the results of your good works. 11 You will be made rich in every way. Then you can always give freely. We will take your many gifts to the people who need them. And they will give thanks to God. 12 Your gifts meet the needs of the Lord’s people. And that’s not all. Your gifts also cause many people to thank God. 13 You have shown yourselves to be worthy by what you have given. So other people will praise God because you obey him. That proves that you really believe the good news about Christ. They will also praise God because you share freely with them and with everyone else. 14 Their hearts will be filled with love for you when they pray for you. God has given you grace that is better than anything. 15 Let us give thanks to God for his gift. It is so great that no one can tell how wonderful it really is!

We are all familiar with the principles of sowing into the kingdom, but I feel a challenge to be fully engaged with my giving. It would be easy to give and tick the box – job done! But Paul is calling here for enthusiasm, engagement with the cause. Just as God generously engaged with us and gave us his son, we should be like him in generosity towards one another.

God’s generosity towards me has changed my life. In the same way here Paul reminds us our generosity will impact those we give to – stretching both our faith in trusting for provision, and helping grow the faith of others as they see their prayers answered. If our core value is to bring glory to God, then we need to give courageously, generously and with enthusiasm. In this way God will be glorified.

Heavenly Father, raise up in me a heart that is enthusiastic about giving. Help me Lord to be generous and a blessing to others. Help me Father to be consistent in my commitments and to bring Glory to your Kingdom. In Jesus name Amen.

Written by Christine Knight

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  1. Claire Moore says:

    Thank you for this prayer. It really spoke to me. And the reminder that giving helps build the faith of others. A gift that lasts!

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Wednesday 17 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 8:16-24

16 God put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. Thanks should be given to God for this. 17 Titus welcomed our appeal. He is also excited about coming to you. It was his own idea. 18 Along with Titus, we are sending another brother. All the churches praise him for his service in telling the good news. 19 He was also chosen by the churches to go with us as we bring the offering. We are in charge of it. We want to honor the Lord himself. We want to show how ready we are to help. 20 We want to keep anyone from blaming us for how we take care of that large gift. 21 We are trying hard to do what both the Lord and people think is right. 22 We are also sending another one of our brothers with them. He has often proved to us in many ways that he is very committed. He is now even more committed because he has great faith in you. 23 Titus is my helper. He and I work together among you. Our brothers are messengers from the churches. They honor Christ. 24 So show them that you really love them. Show them why we are proud of you. Then the churches can see it.

I don’t think you can read this passage and not pick up on the honour theme that runs through it. Everyone involved in the carrying of this offering is praised, honourable, eager to honour the Lord, helpful, zealous, an honour to Christ. But they are praised not so much for what they’ve achieved, but for who they are – enthusiastic initiators in serving the gospel; eager helpers of the church; people of integrity, doing the right thing before God and man; hard workers and honours to Christ Himself.

I am all too often caught up in our culture’s obsession with performance, and here Paul speaks of a completely different quality of person. And I am sure it is not simply that these men were great people, but did nothing with their lives. They worked hard, but the achievements were not what made them – their character sustained their achievements, not the other way around.

This passage is deeply inspiring for me. I aspire to be named amongst such a collection of saints.

God, empower in me a life of enthusiastic initiative for your gospel, eager support for your church, integrity of life, and hard work such that I am an honour to You, personally. Amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Tuesday 16 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 8:1-15

8 Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given to the churches in Macedonia. 2 They have suffered a great deal. But in their suffering, their joy was more than full. Even though they were very poor, they gave very freely. 3 I tell you that they gave as much as they could. In fact, they gave even more than they could. Completely on their own, 4 they begged us for the chance to share in serving the Lord’s people in that way. 5 They did more than we expected. First they gave themselves to the Lord. Then they gave themselves to us because that was what God wanted. 6 Titus had already started collecting money from you. So we asked him to help you finish making your kind gift. 7 You do well in everything else. You do well in faith and in speaking. You do well in knowledge and in complete commitment. And you do well in the love we have helped to start in you. So make sure that you also do well in the grace of giving to others. 8 I am not commanding you to do it. But I want to test you. I want to find out if you really love God. I want to compare your love with that of others. 9 You know the grace shown by our Lord Jesus Christ. Even though he was rich, he became poor to help you. Because he became poor, you can become rich. 10 Here is my opinion about what is best for you in that matter. Last year you were the first to give. You were also the first to want to give. 11 So finish the work. Then your desire to do it will be matched by your finishing it. Give on the basis of what you have. 12 Do you really want to give? Then the gift is measured by what someone has. It is not measured by what they don’t have. 13 We don’t want others to have it easy at your expense. We want things to be equal. 14 Right now you have plenty in order to take care of what they need. Then they will have plenty to take care of what you need. The goal is to even things out. 15 It is written, “The one who gathered a lot didn’t have too much. And the one who gathered a little had enough.” (Exodus 16:18)

Paul now turns his attention to the gift that the Corinthians were to be saving towards in 1 Cor 16:1-4 – a gift for fellow believers doing it tough in Jerusalem. He’s encouraging them to give “according to your means” (NRSV) “give on the basis of what you have” (NIRV). This is to be a heart felt offering, something they want to do – to give from their present abundance.

This does not seem to be a “faith” offering – over and above what they have the means to give – but one where the giver can afford it. We might call it ‘discretionary’ money today – money that’s available to us that we can use to bless other believers in times when they don’t have enough. In Corinthians, this is a specific offering in time and place but the principle I see here is God’s economy being one of balance; there will always be people in need and people with abundance. I need to keep my heart & eyes open, be ready to give where I see other believers having a need. This might be believers that are far from me and unknown or someone in our church or my circle of friends. My heart needs to ready so that my hand can give.

Holy Spirit keep us soft in regards to the money you provide for us – keep our hearts an open channel for you to use. I love how you know that money can be a challenge for us & here you give me guidance and encouragement. Help me to always keep Your perspective on what you have provided for me. Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Monday 15 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 7:2-16

2 Make room for us in your hearts. We haven’t done anything wrong to anyone. We haven’t caused anyone to sin. We haven’t taken advantage of anyone. 3 I don’t say this to judge you. I have told you before that you have an important place in our hearts. We would live or die with you. 4 I have spoken to you very honestly. I am very proud of you. I am very happy. Even with all our troubles, my joy has no limit. 5 When we came to Macedonia, we weren’t able to rest. We were attacked no matter where we went. We had battles on the outside and fears on the inside. 6 But God comforts those who are sad. He comforted us when Titus came. 7 We were comforted not only when he came but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us how much you longed for me. He told us about your deep sadness and concern for me. That made my joy greater than ever. 8 Even if my letter made you sad, I’m not sorry I sent it. At first I was sorry. I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while. 9 Now I am happy. I’m not happy because you were made sad. I’m happy because your sadness led you to turn away from your sins. You became sad just as God wanted you to. So you were not hurt in any way by us. 10 Godly sadness causes us to turn away from our sins and be saved. And we are certainly not sorry about that! But worldly sadness brings death. 11 Look at what that godly sadness has produced in you. You are working hard to clear yourselves. You are angry and alarmed. You are longing to see me. You are concerned. You are ready to make sure that the right thing is done. In every way you have proved that you are not guilty in that matter. 12 So even though I wrote to you, it wasn’t because of the one who did the wrong. It wasn’t because of the one who was hurt either. Instead, I wrote you so that in the sight of God you could see for yourselves how faithful you are to us. 13 All this encourages us. We were also very glad to see how happy Titus was. You have all renewed his spirit. 14 I had bragged about you to him. And you have not let me down. Everything we said to you was true. In the same way, our bragging about you to Titus has also turned out to be true. 15 His love for you is even greater when he remembers that you all obeyed his teaching. You received him with fear and trembling. 16 I am glad I can have complete faith in you.

It’s not easy being a pastor. Not that I’d know but when I read this passage I feel Paul’s struggle in delivering a tough message to the Corinthian church.

False teachers were challenging the authority of Paul and drawing Christians away from the message of grace. Paul has been highlighting that he has always acted with integrity and love. This is a response to attacks from the false teachers, but Paul goes on to reflect on his joy at the positive response of the Christians, who heeded his rebuke, leading them to repent and convey their concern for Paul, via Titus.

I’d love to respond to godly correction in that way! Listening, praying, repenting. The world’s way is to stick up for yourself, find excuses, to reject correction and become bitter, resentful. It leads to “regret” says The Message version. How true is that! The other alternative is to pray, asking God to reveal his truth, to bring a spirit of repentance, to be honest with yourself. Then we can “experience divine grace” (NIV Study Bible v 10). There is nothing easy about receiving godly correction, but the distress produced “drives us to God…it turns us around” (The Message v 10). It leads to LIFE! (v10)

Dear Lord Jesus, you draw me to a place of repentance, often by a rough difficult path, one I would probably rather avoid. I know you love me and you are leading me to life. Like the Corinthians, please drive me back in the way of salvation.” Amen

Written by Claire Moore

1 (reply)
  1. Kim Fleming says:

    Thanks Claire, a great reminder to me too to go back to the basics, say sorry ask for forgiveness & repent, let my pride go & let God do his work in my life!

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Sunday 14 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

14 Do not be joined to unbelievers. What do right and wrong have in common? Can light and darkness be friends? 15 How can Christ and Satan agree? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 How can the temple of the true God and the statues of other gods agree? We are the temple of the living God. God has said, “I will live with them. I will walk among them. I will be their God. And they will be my people.” (Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 32:38; Ezekiel 37:27) 17 So, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch anything that is not pure and ‘clean.’ Then I will receive you.” (Isaiah 52:11; Ezekiel 20:34,41) 18 And, “I will be your Father. You will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord who rules over all.” (2 Samuel 7:14; 7:8) 7 Dear friends, we have these promises from God. So let us make ourselves pure from everything that makes our bodies and spirits impure. Let us be completely holy. We want to honor God.

The notion that there is an intrinsic problem with any partnership between a believing, faith-filled Christian and a non-believer, whether they be atheist, agnostic or some other religion, is easy to understand in theory (2 Cor 6:14-16). My belief in Christ is so central to who I am, it is unlikely to be healthy for me to take up any form of partnership in romance or business or building or anything with someone who believes differently to me, because they will have different values and ideals and we will run into a major conflict.

In practice, however it is complex! We live in a secular society and there are so many good reasons to develop business relationships and projects and friendships with other people and organisations that share a similar set of goals or ideals, even if their core beliefs are not Christ centred.

Similarly, I need to develop some level of relationship with people if I am to be able to connect them to Christ. Maintaining a segregational approach will not be effective in seeing people saved.

But the Bible is true and real so the truth is there. The principle is a good one and the outworking of it needs to be worked out…

For me, I wonder if it is perhaps most important to uphold the principle that this passage refers to in my intimate friendships and my spousal relationship. Without the unity of the Holy Spirit to hold these relationships together and the Blood of Christ to enable forgiveness and restoration, I am likely to be seriously hurt in this story of relationship.

Lord, your word is powerful and true as well as being filled with principles that lead to life. Help me to rightly handle your word and apply it to my life well.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Saturday 13 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

6 We work together with God. So we are asking you not to receive God’s grace and then do nothing with it. 2 He says, “When I had mercy on you, I heard you. On the day I saved you, I helped you.” (Isaiah 49:8) I tell you, now is the time God has mercy. Now is the day he saves. 3 We don’t put anything in anyone’s way. So no one can find fault with our work for God. 4 Instead, we make it clear that we serve God in every way. We serve him by standing firm in troubles, hard times and suffering. 5 We don’t give up when we are beaten or put in prison. When people stir up trouble in the streets, we continue to serve God. We work hard for him. We go without sleep and food. 6 We remain pure. We understand completely what it means to serve God. We are patient and kind. We serve him in the power of the Holy Spirit. We serve him with true love. 7 We speak the truth. We serve in the power of God. We hold the weapons of godliness in the right hand and in the left. 8 We serve God in times of glory and shame. We serve him whether the news about us is bad or good. We are true to our calling. But people treat us as if we were pretenders. 9 We are known, but people treat us as if we were unknown. We are dying, but we continue to live. We are beaten, but we are not killed. 10 We are sad, but we are always full of joy. We are poor, but we make many people rich. We have nothing, but we own everything. 11 Believers at Corinth, we have spoken freely to you. We have opened our hearts wide to you. 12 We are not holding back our love from you. But you are holding back your love from us. 13 I speak to you as if you were my children. It is only fair that you open your hearts wide to us also.

In verse 1 Paul urges the Corinthians not to receive God’s grace in vain. God’s grace is a free gift of favour and power, that we could never deserve or earn. If something is in vain it is pointless, useless and worthless. In different translations Paul’s sentiment is expressed as, don’t toss aside God’s kindness (TLB), and don’t accept this marvellous gift only to ignore it (NLT). God has freely given me His favour and power on the basis of His goodness and love. Am I receiving and using His grace everyday? Or am I still trying to be good enough, strong enough, intelligent enough, wise enough and loving enough to manage life?

God, please help me to stop tossing aside your kindness and ignoring the great gift of your grace. Help me to unwrap it afresh each day, such that your gift would not be useless, pointless or worthless. Thank you for providing grace for me, a grace that will never run out or reach an expiry date. Amen.

Written by Beth Waugh

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Friday 12 May, 2017

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

11 We know what it means to have respect for the Lord. So we try to help other people to understand it. What we are is plain to God. I hope it is also plain to your way of thinking. 12 We are not trying to make an appeal to you again. But we are giving you a chance to take pride in us. Some people take pride in their looks rather than what’s in their hearts. If you take pride in us, you will be able to answer them. 13 Are we “out of our minds,” as some people say? If so, it is because we want to serve God. Does what we say make sense? If so, it is because we want to serve you. 14 Christ’s love controls us. We are sure that one person died for everyone. And so everyone died. 15 Christ died for everyone. He died so that those who live should not live for themselves anymore. They should live for Christ. He died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we don’t look at anyone the way the world does. At one time we looked at Christ in that way. But we don’t anymore. 17 When anyone lives in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone! The new is here! 18 All this is from God. He brought us back to himself through Christ’s death on the cross. And he has given us the task of bringing others back to him through Christ. 19 God was bringing the world back to himself through Christ. He did not hold people’s sins against them. God has trusted us with the message that people may be brought back to him. 20 So we are Christ’s official messengers. It is as if God were making his appeal through us. Here is what Christ wants us to beg you to do. Come back to God! 21 Christ didn’t have any sin. But God made him become sin for us. So we can be made right with God because of what Christ has done for us.

“Anyone who believes in Christ is a new creation. The old is gone! The new has come!”

It’s one of those pivotal verses. God’s first act of creation was extraordinary. Now the break between my old separated self and my new reconciled self is so profound that I’m now a whole new work of creation.

But it’s not a new me that is just like the old me. The new me is no longer separated from God, I’m reconciled with him. The new me lives for Christ (not myself). The new me has been entrusted with the good news and a part to play in bringing back people who are still separated.

I love how it describes it as the “task of reconciling people to him” in the NLT (“ministry of reconciliation” in NIV). It’s “bring people back” (here in the NIRV), but with the aspect of healing the relationship, healing what’s broken, healing what hurts.

I think of when I was small and I was always keen for my mum to “put a band aid on it” if I hurt myself. Then it would be safe from being poked (ouch) to get the dirt out; safe from the antiseptic (ouch again). I understand that people who are separated from God may not want that injured relationship touched, but that infected wound to their lives will only be whole if Jesus is allowed to touch it.

Father, I can barely express how grateful I am to you for remaking me in right relationship with you. But please give me words, and insights, and courage, and sensitivity to express it to those who are still separated.

Written by David Cornell

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