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Showing posts from January, 2013

No Other Gospel

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Galatians is the next book in the bible following 2 Corinthians. Paul has now moved onto to the church in Galatia, where they have been infiltrated and attacked by false preachers and teachers. Paul comes in to help bring them back on track, and remind them of the gospel and God's will for them. 3  Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,   4  who gave himself for our sins  to rescue us from the present evil age,  according to the will of our God and Father,   5  to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. - Galatians 1:3-5 Right from the get go, Paul reminds us of the gospel. That Christ gave himself to rescue us from sin, obeying and fulfilling the will of God above. You can clearly see how its at the forefront of his mind. He is always thinking about it, and we also should have the gospel engraved into our minds, constantly meditating, reflecting and thinking about it because the gospel is the true foundation of our faith. As said, false teach

Reevaluation

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Paul finishes off 2 Corinthians with a challenge, a re-evaluation, and a reminder as he sends his final greetings to the church of Corinth. 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. - 2 Corinthians 13:5-9 Examine ourselves. Do we truly have Christ in us? Are we living God-oriented lives? Will we stand through the test and pass? Let us pray that we will not do anything wrong, that we continue to strive for right

The Joy in Pain

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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. - 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 This verse was given to me from a good friend of mine when I was having a rougher time in my life and it really was extremely encouraging and reassuring. Just read the verse outloud and let it sink in. God's grace is sufficient for me. God's power will rest on me in my weakness and in my times of pain. We rejoice in our sufferings for God. Our earthly weaknesses are to be the platform for demonstrating the Lord's power and grace. Do you delight in your weaknesses? in insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties? It sounds extremely tough to find joy when you're beat down o

Masked

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In the final chapters of 2 Corinthians, Paul continues to share his experiences and hints at reminders and at things we should be aware of. In this chapter, Paul raises awareness about the false prophets, as well as shocks us by boasting in his weakness. It's said in Matthew 24 that at the end, there will be false prophets who will be preaching and deceiving the world. As judgement day nears, we are tested to stand firm in our faith. Here, Paul brings back the same caution, and is afraid that we will be easily lead away (v.3). Satan was originally an angel of light and fell from heaven. He masked himself, and its extremely probable that he will use his servants and demons to mask themselves as people of righteousness to deceive us (v.13-15). Deception is Satan's weapon of choice. Paul warns us that if we ever come across here teachings, gospels, or preachings that are not of what we accepted and have heard before that it is a trick by the devil. Paul even chooses to distin

Hidden Reminders

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Paul addresses the church with meekness and gentleness in 2 Corinthians 10, and even though most of the text was directed towards the church and about Paul himself, I was able to extract applications from the passage. Here are a few of the points i'd like to share with you. Although we live in this world, we are not living of the world (v.3). We do not have to participate in worldly activities, especially if they do not align with God's will and desires. And because we are separate from those who follow the world's standards, we should never compare or measure ourselves with the others around us (v.12). God made us all differently, he made us himself, and there's nothing replaceable about each of us. Paul also told the church that as they live out their faith in their lives, Paul was able to move out and continue to expand the gospel and the kingdom in places away from there (v.15-16). In the same way, we should be able to live out our faith here, in a local sens

Reap What You Sow

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6  Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. - 2 Corinthians 9:6 I remember at a winter retreat once, my group leader said "you'll only get as much as what you put in", when he talked about our group discussions. I find that this holds true in so many circumstances and it works the same here with God and with giving. The more you invest in God, the more you'll learn from Him, the more blessings he will grant you. The more you give, the more God will provide. Just as the parable of feeding the five thousand, the boy gave all of his lunch and was able to feed so much more. At the same time, Paul reminds us in this verse that if we give little, we will get little. Paul also reminds us to give cheerfully. Just because he said to give generously doesnt mean he wants you to just give it all up. It has to come from the heart, and when it does, you're giving happily. Are you able to give t

Be Generous

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Whenever we speak to someone, confront or rebuke them, we should always include the good (encouragement) and the bad (rebuke). In the same manner, Paul speaks to the people of Corinth, he rebukes them for their divisions in the church, the immoralities and sins they are commitment, but he always goes to encourage and acknowledge what they're doing right. The Church of Corinth are excelling in faith, speech, knowledge, but what is most important that Paul is focusing on is their grace (v.7). They have been able to give graciously and generously to one another. We can give, and we can love sometimes, but it is only truly genuine when we are willing to do it and have the desire to do so (v.8-10). Do you have the desire to give? Or do you have a part of you that remains selfish? 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.”   - 2 Corinthians 8:15 In reference to Exodus 16:18, Paul reminds us th

This Godly Sorrow

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1  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. - 2 Corinthians 7:1 Although this verse technically tags onto the previous portion in chapter six, it is the opening verse to 2 Corinthians 7. It's very powerful in reminding us to live holy lives, purified from all the evils of this world. The rest of chapter is addressed to the people of Corinth and Paul is filled with joy as he talks about his past experiences, his letter and what resulted of it. He discovered that his letter caused sorrow but one must be wondering why is he so joyful from other people's sorrow? It's because this sorrow led to repentance. But this sorrow was not a worldly one, but a Godly one (v.10). When he talks about godly sorrow, it means that one has lost God's approval, you feel guilty and bad for what you have done, but these feelings are indicators from th

Remain Faithful

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It is through our hardships and sufferings that God's glory is shown. It depends on how we respond and act towards this trials that determine whether we can fully rely and trust in God or not. 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. - 2 Corinthians 6:4-10 How do you respond to t

Our Temporary Home

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In the following chapter, 2 Corinthians 5, Paul gives us two main reminders; one concerning our lives here on earth and the other on reconciliation. Our "home" here on earth is very temporary. In the bible many times our lives are described as a vapour, quickly lived and then gone. This life will end and will fade. But rest assured because our God in heaven has created a heavenly dwelling for us, one with greater riches and brighter treasures but most importantly, a place without sin, without pain, without sorrow and without grief. Paul reminds us that during this time on earth or in heaven, we should strive to honor and glorify the Lord. Let us please him with our lives because at the end of the day we will be judged on our faith as well as our deeds. In the passage, the second reminder is titled "The Ministry of Reconciliation". Its a simple reminder that we are to be reconciled with God. After he sent his son to die on the cross for us, he has forgiven all

Jars of Life

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Paul takes the next few chapters to encourage his readers. I myself have been going through a bit of a rough spot the past few days with the overwhelming flood of work and the never ending errands to take of. It's just been a lot and I really need some time off and away from all this. God speaks at the perfect time, and 2 Corinthians 4 was highly encouraging. I hope it does you some good too if you're in a rough spot or have a friend who needs a pick-me-up. Although many many times we feel beat down and crushed we have to realize that it is God who supplies us with power to carry on. Life has its tornados, its harsh winds, its frosty blizzards, and the occasional volcanic eruptions, but God really does carry us through it all if we rely and look towards him. We have nothing, no power, no hope, but with God in our hearts and in our lives, we have the strength to push through the disasters and storms of life. Just as Paul puts it, we are simply little fragile jars of clay,

"must far exceed it in glory"

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We venture on into 2 Corinthians 3, but while reading it, It seemed very confusing. Im still not sure what Paul was trying to get at. Maybe it was just an unclear mind today, but i had trouble understanding the chapter. But even so, I still got something out of it. Sufficiency is again mentioned, and I believe it is an ongoing theme in these few chapters. Paul reminds us that we are made sufficient by God to do his work (v. 5), " 5  Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but  our sufficiency is from God,   6  who has made us sufficient to be  ministers of  a new covenant, not of  the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but  the Spirit gives life." - 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 "for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life." Interesting line. But if you think about it, it makes sense. A letter is just a piece of paper that acknowledges and announces something. Similarly, a diploma or certificate, it just says somet

Fragrance for God?

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Paul touches on many different subjects within this short chapter, but i found the main themes and lessons to be forgiveness as well as evangelism through our lifestyle. He talks to the church about forgiving the sinner. Im sure forgiveness is always one of the harder things to do, it calls for humility, confrontation, and most importantly, love. When we hurt someone or we ourselves are hurt, it hurts more than just the offended, but the offender and those around them as well (v.5). Think about it. If there is hurt or unresolved conflict or tension between two parties, there will always been this negative ora around them, if you will. And without anything being resolved, it causes them to become bitter, and hate begins to grow in their heart. It also makes it awkward for those that know both parties, and it affects everyone overall. But as Christians, we should forgive others as we were forgiven (v.10). Of course it will be difficult, but as we look to Christ and as for his help,

Comfort in Trials

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2 Corinthians is Paul's fourth letter to the church of Corinth, written around A.D 55-56. The overarching theme in this book is "the relationship between suffering and the power of the Spirit in Paul's life, ministry and message." Paul is a man who has suffered a whole lot, and people have even said that he has suffered too much to be an apostle, but he believes that God gave him those trials for a reason. He jumps right into it in the first chapter. He reminds the church that our God is the God of all comfort. The Lord comfort us when we are weak and discouraged, and when we receive this comfort, we are to pass it on to our fellow believers when they need to be comforted as well (v.3-4). Our sufferings are the means God uses to strength other followers of Christ. Paul even said himself that sometimes he felt that the trials that were thrown at him felt like a death sentence (v.9) but it ultimately got him to learn to rely on God. Trusting every move and decision

Tithing Your Time

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Tonight at fellowship we watched a video, and the overall message was about devoting your life back to Christ, offering it all because he gave it all to us. Throughout the night, i felt moved, i felt convicted about what the speaker had to say. Here are just my quick thoughts that i'd like to share. And I also challenge you to take on the challenge listed below. Challenge: give one week to tithe your time to The Lord, that's two and a half hours everyday.  Reflection: why is it that immediately I started to question? Make excuses? It's too long? I can't do it? Where will I fit it in? I began to try to find a way out of it. If Jesus is truly worthy of all my trusts, plans and affections, why is it so difficult to give my time? What is holding me back? Stopping me from doing so? By saying so, I'm putting my own desires and wants ahead. I keep thinking, "I'm already doing enough already am I not? Devotions, prayer and periods of silence, why is

Final Words

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Paul brings 1 Corinthians to a close with final greetings to the church of Corinth, giving words of encouragement and details on his future plans in ministry. He goes on to describe that he is heading for Macedonia, but hopes to return for a visit. Verse 7 really stood out to me as it states, 7  For I do not want to see you now  just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you,  if the Lord permits. - 1 Corinthians 16:7 Thinking back to Urbana, I remember learning that a call is not felt, it is heard. A call is not necessary to go on missions, but it is necessary to stay. And here, it shows just that, "if the Lord permits". I also think we can learn about missions, evangelism and accountability from this verse too. When we share, or bring others to Christ, you don't just dump them and move on, you have to build the relationship, follow up on them and see how they are doing, "spend some time with [them]". 13  Be on your guard; stand firm  in the fai

The Resurrections

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1 Corinthians 15 is another massive chunk of heavy text about the resurrection of Christ, of the dead, and of the body. The chapter gives in an interesting insight to the past, the present and the future altogether. He begins with the resurrection of Christ. Paul quickly goes through the gospel from verses 3-8, how Christ died, how he was raised on the third day, when he appeared to the apostles and eventually to everyone else. Paul also shares from his own personal life, how he does not feel worthy to be an apostle after what he had done, being a persecutor of the church early on in his life. But he is gracious and says that it is a gift of grace from above that has allowed him to be an apostle of Christ. The middle portion of the chapter illustrates the direct connection between Christ's resurrection, and the resurrection of the dead. Christ died for us on the cross, and he came back on the third day. If there is no resurrection of the dead, Christ would not have risen, an

Paul's Address - Part 4

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Paul ends off his main addresses to the church with the topic of prophecy and tongues. I've always stray away from the word "tongues", i've always found it such a supernatural, odd topic that I could never tackle, but God works amazingly. Today, the pastor spoke on 1 Corinthians 14, briefly, but explained an overall gist of this word, "tongues". Tongues basically means languages. I dont know why I always thought it meant some sort of holy language that just sounded like gibberish, but it really is just different languages that the Holy Spirit speaks through you. Paul says the the gift of prophecy (going back to the topic of spiritual gifts) should be desired (v.1). There are basically two types of proclamation. With tongues and through prophecy. The main difference is that prophecy is spoken in a common language everyone understands, whereas tongues are harder to understand. When speaking with tongues, it cannot be interpreted by another individual (e

Paul's Address - Part 3

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1 Corinthians 13, a chapter that definitely holds one of the most well-known bible passages out there. Here, Paul addresses the topic of love. In the first three verses, Paul relates it back to the previous chapter on spiritual gifts. All these gifts we have been granted are useless without love. Love is the backbone to all things. God is love, and without love, God is not there, and ultimately, there is nothing. Love cannot be measured by actions alone; motives must be assessed to determine what is loving. "love is patient,   love is kind.  It does not envy,  it does not boast,  it is not proud.   it does not dishonor others,  it is not self-seeking,   it is not easily angered,   it keeps no record of wrongs.   love does not delight in evil  but rejoices with the truth.   it always protects,  always trusts,  always hopes,  always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Im sure everyone has heard this passage before one way or another. Now seeing it in context it makes a lo

Paul's Address - Part 2

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Paul moves on to the next concern that has been causing divisions in the church of Corinth, spiritual gifts. God has given each of us a special unique spiritual gift, to be used for the Lord, in serving one another in love. Have you discovered yours? At many times, others may feel like that one gift is more important than another, but Paul discusses the importance of all the gifts. There are many gifts that we may be given. wise counsel clear understanding simple trust healing the sick miraculous acts proclamation distinguishing between spirits speaking in tongues interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:8-10, The Message) no matter what gift you are given, it is an important gift, strictly and specially appointed to you for a reason. Its the same in any group situation, everyone comes to the table with a different strength and together the result can be produced with efficiency. There is no gift that is higher than another. Paul illustrates this in verse 17, if the