Sunday 28 February, 2021

Romans 1:1-7

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life[a] was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power[b] by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from[c] faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. 7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

History records that Augustine, Martin Luther and John Calvin all had life-changing encounters with God as a result of reading and pondering on the Book of Romans. Martin Luther said that Romans is “The chief part of the New Testament and the perfect Gospel… the absolute epitome of the gospel”

The apostle Paul wrote the book of Romans ahead of his planned visit to the Christians in Rome.  He was aware that he may never make it to Rome, and so he wrote them a letter so comprehensive that the Christians there would have a full understanding of the gospel even if Paul himself were not able to visit them.

I remember reading the book of Romans as a young person and struggling to understand some of its complex concepts, but over the years as I have read and re-read this book, it has been instrumental in shaping my understanding of God and the gospel.

I am so grateful that Paul fulfilled his assignment as a “devoted slave to Jesus Christ” authorized by God to write this letter to the Romans. He probably never dreamed that we would still be studying it over 2000 years later.

Each one of us has things that God has assigned us to do. They may well seem small and insignificant in our eyes, but  we will never know the full impact of our obedience and service to God in this life. 

Stay the path and be faithful in the little things. You just never know what God is up to as He works through you and me.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Saturday 27 February, 2021

2 Corinthians 13:5-13

5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. 7 Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. 10 This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down. 11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings.

Nobody likes to be corrected and nobody likes having to correct other people but this is what Paul had to do with the Corinthian church.

This passage is the final words of several letters Paul wrote to the Corinthians regarding the unacceptable behaviour of some of its members. Paul loved the Corinthians and found it hard to bring harsh correction in person so he wrote to them beforehand hoping they would change their behaviour before seeing them.

In verse 5 Paul shares an important principle. ‘Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith’.  Possibly a simpler way of putting this would be ‘Examine your own behaviour to see if it is in line with what we believe’.  The problem is, unless you practice it regularly self‑examination is not easy and sometimes quite painful.

So why is this important?

Because honest self‑examination is the first step to self-correction (repentance), but here is the interesting part.  The love of God treats us in the same way as Paul did with the Corinthians, wanting us to sort out our own wrong doings in private long before any form of public correction is needed.

Dear God, today in my own private prayer space I ask you to bring to my awareness one thing I need to change and by your grace give me the power to change it. Amen.

Written by David Newton

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Friday 26 February, 2021

2 Corinthians 13:1-4

13 This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 2 I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, 3 since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you.

The Apostle Paul is preparing to visit the Corinthian church for the 3rd time. On his first visit to Corinth, Paul founded the church and stayed for 18 months. His 2nd visit was short and involved problems within the Corinthian church. And now he is preparing to come for a 3rd time and he is not happy with the reports of what he has heard is going on there.

Paul’s opponents, the leaders among the Corinthian Christians seem to think that Paul is too weak and humble for their liking. They want to see more “power” from Paul. So Paul is warning them here that he is going to come back with the power of God to clean up the church, unless they clean it up before he comes.

Listening to reproofs and rebukes is not easy. Human nature and pride makes us want to do things our own way rather than listen to others. But it’s always better to stop and examine yourself and humble yourself to repentance rather than incur wrath and judgement.

Sometimes in our stubbornness and pride, we choose not to listen to the gentle rebuke and end up bringing a much tougher discipline upon ourselves.

I am reminded today to listen to the correction of those around me and not let it get to the stage where people have to get “tough” with me before I will listen.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Thursday 25 February, 2021

2 Corinthians 12:11-21

11 I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. 12 I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles. 13 How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong! 14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? 16 Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! 17 Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit? 19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. 20 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.

Wow, what a rebuke the Corinthian church received from the apostle Paul!   He did not mince his words.  We can see from this passage that the Corinthians didn’t think much of the Apostle Paul in comparison to other apostles.  In turn, you can readily sense the Apostle Paul’s frustration and disappointment in this early church.  Paul is saddened by their lack of maturity in that he has had to fund all three visits to this church.  Nor has Paul seen much evidence of turning from sinful behaviour such as gossiping, pride and sexual immorality.

The positive thing about this passage – yes there is one, is that Paul has not given up on this congregation.  It would be so easy to walk away with the lack of respect, paying your own way and sinful behaviour.  We see the father heart of God in Paul here.  Paul states that he wants “them” not their possessions.  He cares about them, otherwise why would he come back three times at his own expense.  This is a healthy reminder to us all not to give up on people because God surely doesn’t!  God l loves us too much to leave us the way we are, rather, he wants us to become more like Jesus.

Dear Lord, thank you for not giving up on me, thank you for pursing me even when I seem disinterested. Help me not to give up on others but to be patient and persevere. Amen.

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Wednesday 24 February, 2021

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

12 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul achieved so much through his life but we can see from this passage that he only did it with God’s help. He knew he needed God’s help and he asked for it. He knew there were things about himself that meant he couldn’t do what he wanted to do by himself – the way he would normally approach things.

That happens with us too. We want to do things but there is a fear in us or an attitude in us or a lack of confidence that means we hold back in what we say or don’t take opportunities when they come to us. We forget to ask God into the situation. We need to go with God and learn what He has for us in our weaknesses. He doesn’t just magic them away, we need to learn and to grow in character in how we work with these weaknesses or even overcome them. We can only do this when we step into things holding God’s hand. His grace is sufficient. He can help us to do what we see as impossible.

Lord please helps us to learn from Paul – to accept that You have made us – weaknesses and all – and You are there to help us every step of the way and You are just waiting for us to ask for help.

Written by Therese Manning

2 replies
  1. Andrew says:

    Very insightful— we are all imperfect flawed have weaknesses. And Good d knows it. He made us that way.
    From these weaknesses God invites us to reach out for help from Him and from the body.
    God please help me to reach out.

  2. Andrew says:

    Very insightful— we are all imperfect flawed have weaknesses. And Good d knows it. He made us that way.
    From these weaknesses God invites us to reach out for help from Him and from the body.
    God please help me to reach out.

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Tuesday 23 December, 2021

2 Corinthians 11:16-33

16 I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.

What a list of sufferings! Paul was repeatedly treated as a vicious criminal: his crime, following and preaching Jesus Christ. How could he endure such suffering and the injustice of being persecuted for telling the truth?! 

In vs 31 Paul indicates how he can persist amidst the hardships, ‘The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is praised forever, knows I am not lying.’ He knew the God whom he served was Lord and sovereign over all. He knew the Lord Jesus and His grace and mercy. Paul knew God is ‘forever’ and so he was living in light of eternity. He knew that God saw his life, knew the truth… and that was enough. 

Is God’s sovereignty, grace, eternal nature, promise of eternal life, and clear view into my life enough for me to endure hardships? Do I have Paul’s perspective and acknowledge God is still in control, or am I focused on MY suffering? 

God, please help me to rest in the knowledge that you know what I’m going through and you are still sovereign. Help me to be patient in the midst of discomfort. Amen. 

Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh

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Monday 22 February, 2021

2 Corinthians 11:7-15

7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! 12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

What I really love about this passage of scripture is the way that Paul demonstrates how he is a genuine superior to the ‘super apostles’ that are mentioned in the chapter.

Instead of presenting a theological argument or engaging in intellectual debate, or even demonstrating his superior credentials as an incredible disciple of Christ, Paul simply demonstrates that he had gone to significant lengths to ensure that he had not been a burden to the community of Corinth.

Ultimately, he was pointing to the things that demonstrated that he had clear motives – his time spent with them and his financial independence from them.

This makes me reflect on my own life and the motives that drive me to act the way that I do. I have realised that I’m often acting without any real awareness of what my true motives are! The more I think about my motives and bring them into line with what Christ calls me to focus on, the more that I am able to achieve in his name.

Lord, help me to be aware of what is driving me and help me to be motivated by your ways and empowered by your Holy Spirit.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Sunday 21 February, 2021

2 Corinthians 10:12-18

12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. 14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15 Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. 17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

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 gives 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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Saturday 20 February, 2021

2 Corinthians 10:1-11

10 By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! 2 I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. 7 You are judging by appearances.[a] If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. 8 So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. 9 I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” 11 Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.

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

2 replies
  1. Dave Moore says:

    Hey Dave, thanks for your thoughts on this passage.
    Esp. Before we engage in this battle to be effective against ideas and thoughts (that stand against the knowledge of God) that we must be sure we are thinking the right thoughts. So true in this current time where so much is being challenged.
    I am reminded (1cor2:10-16) that we have been given the spirit and the mind of Christ to help us work through these things..

  2. Dave Moore says:

    Hey Dave, thanks for your thoughts on this passage.
    Esp. Before we engage in this battle to be effective against ideas and thoughts (that stand against the knowledge of God) that we must be sure we are thinking the right thoughts. So true in this current time where so much is being challenged.
    I am reminded (1cor2:10-16) that we have been given the spirit and the mind of Christ to help us work through these things..

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Friday 19 February, 2021

2 Corinthians 9:1-15

9 There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. 2 For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. 3 But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given. 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

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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