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..
    Dave

    Reply
  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..
    Dave

    Reply

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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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Thursday 18 February, 2021

2 Corinthians 8:16-24

16 Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. 17 For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. 18 And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. 19 What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. 21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man. 22 In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ. 24 Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that 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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Wednesday 17 February, 2021

2 Corinthians 8:1-15

8 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. 13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

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. We are to keep our hearts & eyes open, be ready to give where we see other believers having a need.  This might be believers that are far from us and unknown or someone in our church or circle of friends.  Our hearts need to ready so that our hands 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 us guidance and encouragement. Help me to always keep Your perspective on what you have provided for me.  Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson

2 replies
  1. Richard says:

    I am taken by Paul’s use of the term grace. He uses it here in the context of giving. He also uses the word excel, calling the people to excel in giving not only in faith, speech and knowledge.

    I am challenged by the thought of becoming excellent in giving, of refining my abilities under Christ that excellence would be an apt description of my giving

    Father help me to give in grace in an excellent manner and so honour You.

    Reply
  2. Matt Samperi says:

    Great reflections Suzie! We’re at Wednesday morning SOAP, so here are my reflections:

    Generosity isn’t an optional extra of my faith. I have Jesus as the ultimate example of generosity – that although He was infinitely rich, He impoverished Himself / gave it all away for my sake. And He calls me to do the same – to give up my riches for His sake and the sake of others.
    And so what is generosity? Not just being charitable, or spending lots. It is letting the grace of God overflow through me, being motivated by His great love and sacrifice, so that I am a conduit by which He can bless others. Blessed to be a blessing! Generosity is being a conduit for God.

    Father, I reflect on just how generous You’ve been to me. That you gave up INFINITE riches for my sake. I can’t comprehend this kind of generosity, but I am moved by it. You demonstrate to us that our security is not in our riches but in You. So help me to stop clinging to my riches, and be a conduit of generosity to all those around me. Amen.

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Tuesday 16 February, 2021

2 Corinthians 7:2-16

2 Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. 4 I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. 5 For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever. 8 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. 12 So even though I wrote to you, it was neither on account of the one who did the wrong nor on account of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. 13 By all this we are encouraged. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. 14 I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. 15 And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling. 16 I am glad I can have complete confidence 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

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Monday 15 February, 2021

2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” 18 And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 7 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

My body is the temple of the Living God! An incredible concept – God with me – God living in me.

When I am having people over to my house I like to clean up, sort through the stuff on my bench – remove the clutter accumulated over the week or weeks… I like to vacuum the floors and freshen up the place. I have thought about my motivation for this and while I do want to make a good impression, I think I do it mostly because I want my guests to feel comfortable, at home, when they come. So that our time together won’t be negatively affected by the look, the feel or the aroma of my home.

Lord, I am sorry that I don’t always keep the place where you live in me as well attended to as I do my physical home. You make it clear there are activities, relationships and possessions that pollute and clutter my life and therefore your home – things I give far too much attention to – dare I say – idolise – getting more attention than I give to you. Idols take my eyes off you, crave my attention, mess up my house…your temple… Keep me alert to what you are saying to me Holy Spirit and show me what needs to go and then help me be obedient in removing it.

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

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Sunday 14 February, 2021

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

6 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”[a] I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts 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 Ps. Beth Waugh

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