November 21, 2017

Today you should read: 2 Corinthians 13:1-14

This is a great passage in light of the Unstoppable Movement series we are currently going through on Sundays. In verse 5 the idea of a self-examination is brought up. Paul tells the Corinthians that they should examine themselves to see whether they are in the faith. At first glance this seems like it would plant seeds of doubt in people. But really it is an amazing act of love.

When we take the time to be introspective and examine ourselves, and our hearts through the lens of Scripture we truly see who we are. This is a very scary thing to do, because we are not perfect. But when we are asking the question of whether or not we are committed to the movement, we HAVE to examine ourselves. We have to determine whether we have the white hot passionate faith that is needed. In order to have that faith we must first know Jesus personally.

This is where the act of love comes in. There are so many people walking around that have been told all their life that they are Christians, but they really are not. They have no idea because they have never examined their heart. This might be you. Have you ever really looked at yourself and your life? Can you truly say that Jesus live in you, and you have a personal relationship with Him? It is the most important question you can ask yourself. If the answer is yes, awesome! That means that you can truly continue moving forward with that white hot faith. If not, then you can know Him today and change that. I would encourage you to please reach out to someone, we would love to talk more about it.

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate

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November 20, 2017

Today you should read: 2 Corinthians 12:1-21

Paul begins today’s reading rehearsing his story of the encounter he had with God on the road to Damascus. While on the way to arrest and persecute Jesus followers, he was blinded by a bright light and God spoke to him. During that encounter he was caught up into heaven – either in reality or in a vision – and God showed him many things. This would become the basis for the teaching he would deliver to the churches and to us through the books he wrote in the New Testament. I would encourage you to re-read that story in Acts 9.

What a story! What a life change! That’s enough to cause anyone to be full of pride. Paul knew that – so he said that God sent him a “thorn in the flesh” – a “messenger from Satan” to torment him and keep him humble. What is your thorn in the flesh? What or Who does God use to keep you humble? Are you thankful for them just like Paul was?

We don’t know what Paul’s thorn was – some suspect an illness with his eyes – others a struggle with moral purity. Whatever it was – it was at times a great burden. So… how did he deal with it?

Well… he – just like you would have – begged God to take it away. Three different times he did that. But each time God responded to Paul with a lesson that all of us need to learn.

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.

God’s grace is enough. It’s enough to get you through whatever you are dealing with. It’s enough to comfort and heal you. It’s all you need.

God’s power works best in our weakness. Why? Because when we are full of ourselves – we’re not looking to Him. It’s in weakness that we trust and depend on Him best – and He comes through.

Paul goes on…

So I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.

For when I am weak, then I am strong!

What about you? Where does your strength come from? From you or from God? What is your thorn in the flesh – given as a gift from God to make you strong in Him?

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

November 17, 2017

Today you should read: 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

Sincere and Pure Devotion

The love Paul has for the church at Corninth. Paul,has sincere love for this church, which leads him to be bold and speak truth into tough places. In verse 3 of this chapter we see that his main hope is that the church would have a “sincere and pure devotion” to Christ.

The verses following show us what it looks like to have a sincere and pure devotion:

  1. Sincere and Pure Doctrine — Verse 4 talks of the danger of incorrect doctrine. Incorrect doctrine is dangerous because it leads to incorrect living. If you don’t have a Biblical view of God, you don’t have a true view of God. It is only the God that is revealed in the Scriptures that can save you from your sin. This is why knowing your Bible and understanding it in its context are vital for sanctification.
  2. Sincere and Pure Boldness — Pauls main purpose in life was to glorify God and he knew one of the main ways for him to do that was to boldly proclaim the gospel and protect the churches from straying from that gospel.
  3. Sincere and Pure Character — Paul had a zeal for the Gospel. He was willing to do whatever it took to get the gospel to as many people as possible, but he also knew that his character was tied to his gospel, so he was willing to protect his reputation from slander and falsehood, not for himself, but for the sake of the gospel.

Do you have a sincere and pure devotion to Christ? Ask God to help you know what needs to change in your life to make this passage true of you.

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

November 17, 2017

Today you should read: 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

God has blessed me with nine different opportunities to serve in Brazil. Even though these were all short-term expeditions, they’ve deeply encouraged me and stretched my faith. In 2003, I was invited by Russ & Diane Dean to be their intern for three months. This was an invaluable experience for me and my future as a minister of the gospel.

While serving that summer, we encountered some resistance in certain regions of the city. This was the most tangible spiritual warfare I had ever experienced: witchcraft, devil worship, weird forms of syncretism, and more. One evening, we set out to minister at public schools. We had a team with us from Virginia that was prepared to do music, gymnastics, and a variety of dramas to present the gospel. We saw people walking around the school yard doing “enchantments” against us. The entire evening felt like there was a dark oppression over it. It all came to a head when we got back on the bus to return to Haven of Hope. A local gang member and his crew came toward the bus and asked for access onto it. Our bus driver, Carlos, refused to let him on. The young man started flashing his gun at the driver. Russ & Carlos tried to talk him out of trying to rob us but he simply would not listen.

Carlos, being a former gang member himself, knew the lifestyle, slang, and hatred of this young man. He grabbed the broomstick off of the bus and repeatedly jabbed it into the gang member’s chest, telling him he would not let him on the bus. He was willing to protect it at all costs. His job was to take care of us and he was willing to do it. The young man was caught off guard. He never expected this much of a struggle. He was shaken up and upset. Carlos didn’t let him take one step further and he backed off. We left safely. We were saved from much turmoil that evening because our driver was willing to do the hard work to protect us.

In a spiritual sense, that’s an illustration to what’s going on in 2 Corinthians 11. Paul was fighting for the Corinthians. They were on his bus. But there were outside influences that wanted to ruin them. Satan was clearly one of those, but so were the so called “super apostles”. Paul uses sarcasm to challenge the Corinthian believers to realize that they were being duped by false teachers and false gospels, similarly to how he challenged the Galatian church as well. His plea is simple: don’t be so easily fooled. Someone was trying to take away what was most important to them — their understanding of Jesus. Paul wouldn’t entertain this for a second. He said:

For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things. (2 Corinthians 11:4-6 ESV)

Paul fought for the orthodoxy (right doctrine) AND orthopraxy (right practices) of the church. He wouldn’t let the false teachers come in and ravage those who were under his care. He made sure that, through his two letters, they would know right doctrine and right practice for their lives. He did all he could to protect them. Allegorically speaking, he was standing in front of the bus with a broomstick. The false teachers were simply not allowed on.

Just a cool FYI: the young man I spoke of earlier — he was so convicted by what he was doing that night that he wanted to talk to Russ after he found out he was a pastor. Russ bought him a sandwich and led him to Christ.

Quick Application Thoughts:
1) Are you in the Word enough to discern when you hear false teachings?
2) Are you teaching your family the Word so as to guard them from false teachings?
3) Are you showing those whom you disciple how to study the Word well so that they can be self-feeders who can protect themselves from false teachers?
4) Do you bounce every belief you have off of the truths of the Bible to make sure they are accurate?
5) Is your life more aligned to God’s Word today than it was yesterday?

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor