Reflection on 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

2Corinthians12

Scripture

So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me.

Observation

In order to counter the claims of the false “super-apostles” that were opposing him, Paul speaks of an experience he had. On one occasion he was taken up to the highest heaven. The experience was so powerful that he is not sure whether it was a vision or a physical journey to heaven. In this experience the Lord showed him mysteries that are too sacred to express.

Paul doesn’t boast about the revelations he has received and doesn’t regard them as a reason for people to respect him. To keep him humble, the Lord permitted a thorn int the flesh, a messenger from satan.

He asked the Lord to remove this thing, but the Lord replied, “My grace is more than enough for you, and my grace is made strong in your weakness.”

Application

Our culture worships the strong and powerful people- the top athletes, rulers and business people. Church culture is no different, glamorising the “man of God”, the gifted preacher, and the healer.

But Paul of all people shows us a different way. He has the most powerful experience of heaven which today would put him on the book and movie top sellers lists. But he tells us that what he saw was too sacred to talk about.

Not only this, he is given a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble. We don’t know exactly what this was, but it was some kind of messenger from satan that served to keep him focused on the mighty power of Christ in him.

So he says, “I will celebrate my weaknesses.” To the world this is crazy. Everyone needs to be strong, powerful, and effective.

To celebrate my weaknesses means I have to rely on God. It is an acknowledgement that by myself I can do nothing, but in Christ I can do all things.

We can be tempted to rejoice in our own strengths, talents, and activity. That way leads to p[ride and arrogance.

The way to growth in the Holy Spirit is to celebrate our weakness, and push into God relying on His grace to achieve His goals.

Prayer

Lord, please help me to celebrate my weaknesses and to trust only in your strength. Amen.

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Reflection on 2 Corinthians 8:7-15

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Scripture

Since you excel in so many ways- in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us- I want you to excel also in this gracious gift of giving.

Observation

Paul is encouraging the churches to raise funds to help the church in Jerusalem. He points out that the church in Corinth excels in all kinds of ways (although he might be being a little sarcastic here) and now they need to add to that list by excelling in the gracious gift of giving.

Christ was generous to us, giving up all He had for our sake. So the Corinthians should now imitate Him by finishing what they started the year before. They were eager to help in the past and should once again be eager to give.

Application

To be vibrant and growing, a church must develop a culture of giving. I know of congregations that are focused on their own needs. While they seem to thrive in the short term, they eventually grow stale and decline because they have not learned to give generously as Christ did.

The Bible teaches that there are four main responsibilities for churches to steward their finances:

  • ministers, pastors and teachers must be supported

  • the needs of the poor in the congregation must be met

  • local mission and evangelism

  • mission beyond the local area

If we fail to adequately address these responsibilities, either corporately or individually, we fail to imitate Christ.

Churches and individual believers who learn to live lives of generous giving become strong in other areas of their lives also.

It is not about the money but about the attitude that we have towards money. We must always remember that everything that we have is the Lord’s to use through us.

Prayer

Take my life and my possessions to be used entirely for you Lord. Amen.

Reflection on 2 Corinthians 5:6-17

faith

Scripture

We live by believing not by seeing.

Observation

Paul would rather be at home with the Lord, but whether here or in heaven, his desire is to please Christ. We will all be judged and receive what we deserve for all our deeds, both good and evil.

Paul’s ministry might not seem as spectacular as some, but he has a sincere heart. Christ’s love controls him.

Instead of viewing people from a human perspective, he now sees everyone who belongs to Christ as a new person. The old has gone, a new life has begun.

Application

We walk by faith and not by sight.

Every part of our thinking needs to be transformed by the grace of God so that we see all things from God’s perspective and not from human wisdom. We listen to the Holy Spirit rather than relying on our senses and judgement.

When choosing a king to follow Saul, the prophet Samuel heard the Lord say “People judge by the outward appearance but I look at the heart.” We need to overcome our natural tendency to judge people by the way they look. Everyone who is born again is precious to God regardless of their appearance.

When we look at world and national events and even our personal situations, we need to discern the underlying spiritual forces. We are not contending against flesh and blood but the spiritual powers. We must see beyond surface appearances and use the eyes of faith.

Finally, when we are tempted to disappointment because we are not getting to the place that the Lord has called us to, we need to look through the eyes of faith. What seems to us to be an obstacle or failure may in fact be a part of the journey to where we are going, equipping us for ministry by making us stronger in faith.

Prayer

Lord please help me to live by faith rather than sight, to see your perspective, not just a human perspective. Amen.

Reflection on 2 Corinthians 4:5-12

light

Scripture

For God who said, “Let brilliant light shine in the darkness” is the one who has cascaded his light into us- the brilliant dawning light of the glorious knowledge of God as we gaze into the face of Jesus Christ.

Observation

Paul doesn’t preach himself but Christ. Christ is the source of the light of the glorious knowledge of God.

We are the ordinary clay pots that carry the treasure of God’s presence. So when Paul is beaten and persecuted, he does not give up. As an apostle, Paul is constantly handed over to death for Jesus’ sake so that the life of Christ is released into His people.

Application

It is God’s nature to cause light to shine into the darkness. Evil flees the light but goodness seeks it.

We can know God’s glory- really know it- through Christ. This intimate knowledge of God is like a light that sears through our souls cleansing evil from us and restoring us into right relationship with Him.

This light, this transforming glory, comes as we gaze upon the face of Jesus Christ. Some translations express it as “stand face to face with Him.”

Radiance cascades from the Father, through the Son and into us as we seek Jesus. How do we do this? Prayer, worship and Scripture. These are the channels through which we talk to Jesus face to face.

Here is the miracle: God chooses His glory to rest on ordinary people- clay pots. The container does not matter, just God’s presence.

If only we could see the treasure that is so freely available to us, waiting to cascade over us and through us.

I need to daily, constantly seek to spend face to face time with Christ, to let God’s glory fill and refill me.

Prayer

Lord, fill me with the glorious presence of your Spirit so that your light will shine round into the darkness. Amen.

Reflection on 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

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Scripture

In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

Observation

Anyone in Christ is a new creation- the old has passed away and the new has come. This is God’s gift to us and part of His plan to reconcile the world to Himself.

God has reconciled us to Him, and He now gives us the ministry of reconciliation.

God makes us His ambassadors, carrying this message to a world that does not know Him.

Application

When we came into a relationship with Christ, we became a new creation. Our old life passed away and we became new in every way because the Holy Spirit came into us with a new perspective and understanding about what our life is meant to be about.

We changed from people motivated by worldly concerns to people who desire to please God.

Having been reconciled to God, given a new start and new direction, we become messengers of God’s reconciling work- ambassadors for Christ,

Prayer

Help me Father to live out your reconciling work in every part of my life. Amen.

Reflection on 2 Corinthians 3:12-18

praise

Scripture

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Observation

Moses veiled his face to hide the end of the glory what would later be set aside in the new covenant.

The minds of the Israelites were hardened and indeed still are. Only Jesus can remove the veil that is now over their minds.

When a person turns to the Lord, the veil is lifted. The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Now we see His glory with unveiled faces, and we are being transformed from glory to glory in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Application

Religion blinds us with veils, and binds us with rules that restrict behaviour but do nothing to change the heart.

Jesus comes and takes the veil away. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. This is not freedom to sin, but freedom to carry the glory of Christ, and to grow in His glory as we look towards Him.

As I focus on His glory, the lure of sin seems less attractive, and I find myself choosing righteousness rather than sin.

Prayer

Lord help me to look upon you with an unveiled face. Today I choose your glory and your freedom. Amen.