Sunday’s Sermon

blinded-minds

This week’s sermon is now available on the New life web-site.

In this sermon, which is based on 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, I talk about how satan blinds people to the love of God.

Click here to listen in your browser, here to download the mp3

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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

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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.

Reflection on 2 Corinthians 12:1-20

thorn-in-flesh

Scripture
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

Observation
Paul tells of an experience he had in which he was caught up to the third heaven (the place of the very presence of God). He heard there things that no human is allowed to tell.

He could boast about this experience, but he refuses to do so. He will not boast about such revelations because he doesn’t want credit that is not his to have.

The Lord allowed Paul to have a thorn in his flesh, a messenger from satan. He asked God to take it away, but the Lord said, “My grace is all you need.”

Paul will soon come to Corinth and he will not be a burden to them as some have accused. Rather he will spend himself for them.

Application
Our revelations, giftings and experiences of the Holy Spirit do not validate who we are as christians. What matters is our walk with Christ- how His grace is working in our daily lives.

Likewise a tormenting spirit or physical weakness is not necessarily a sign of spiritual inferiority. What matters is how we seek the Lord daily in adversity and in blessing.

Many signs and wonders were performed at Paul’s hands, but he refused to boast about them. Paul’s life was about love for people and faithfulness to Christ not about superior revelations.

Prayer
Lord please help me to serve you in all the things I do today. May your grace be seen in my actions and heard in my words. Amen.

Reflection on 2 Corinthians 8:7-15

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Scripture

But just as you excel at everything- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in you love for us- see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

Observation

Paul notes that the church in Corinth excels in many things and he now encourages them to excel in the grace of giving generously.

Christ put aside His riches to become poor so that though His poverty we can become rich. The Corinthians had been the first to give, now Paul encourages them to finish the work of generosity.

His desire is for equality. At this time the church in Macedonia needs help so that the Corinthians’ plenty can help them. But later the Macedonians’ plenty will be able to help the Corinthians in a time of need.

Application

The world encourages us to hold tightly to what we have because resources are scarce and there might not be enough to go around.

Christians are to share for precisely the same reason. This is not a communist approach where the state determines who gets what. Rather it is a spirit of generosity where those who have plenty share with those in need.

In practical terms, I have discovered that as long as we keep sharing what we have and keep money circulating, nobody ever notices that there isn’t enough to go around. Somehow God takes the little that we have and multiplies it in the process of generous giving.

Prayer

Lord, give me a generous heart so that I see all the things in my possession as opportunities to bless others. Amen.

Reflection on 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

2 Cotinthians

Scripture

For God says, “At just the right time I heard you. On the day of salvation I helped you.” Indeed the right time is now. Today is the day of salvation.

Observation

Paul urges his readers not to ignore the gift of grace. Now is the hour of salvation.

Paul works to avoid causing people to stumble or to find fault with him. He has faced hardships of every kind.

Paul proves his faith by letting the Holy Spirit fill him with love, understanding and purity. He serves God regardless of the response of people.

Therefore, because Paul overflows with love to the Corinthians, he asks them to open their hearts to him.

Application

There are times when serving God is welcomed by the people around us. At other times our work for the Lord is despised and mocked- even by other christians.

How should we respond? Like Paul we must keep our eyes on Jesus. We know that His love never fails. Even if the world rejects us, still Christ’s love sustains us. It is His approval that matters, not the world’s.

Prayer

Father, help me to stand firm in you when fmaily and friends despise me for your sake. Amen.

Reflection on 2 Corinthians 5:6-17

Scripture
To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.

Observation
The man in Corinth who had opposed Paul was resisted by the church, and for Paul this is enough. He urges forgiveness and comfort for this man so that he is not overcome by discouragement.

God has made us His captives and leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession. Our lives are like a fragrant offering to the Lord. To those who are saved this is a sweet fragrance of life, but for those who are perishing it is the smell of death.

Application
We are like captives in Christ’s procession of triumph. Yes we are free because of Christ, but our freedom comes by submitting ourselves to the rule of Christ. We are trophies of His grace, signs of His victory over sin.

Our lives are like a fragrant incense offering to the Lord. Those who are being saved perceive this to be a sweet smell, but those who are lost in sin perceive it to be a reminder of the judgement over their lives.

We should not be surprised when the world reacts harshly to the gospel or to the lives of Christians because it is reacting against Christ in us the hope of our glory.

Prayer
Lord, I thank you for the privilege of being your trophy of grace. Amen.