February 28, 2013

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

This is the final chapter of the letters to the church at Corinth.  Thank you for being faithful to read God’s Word each day.  It’s so important!

Paul is very firm in this final chapter.  The content of the 2nd letter of Corinthians, deals a great deal with some bad behavior and incorrect doctrine in the church.  Paul’s doing the right thing – in the infamous words of the great theologian Barney Fife

This brings up a great question: How do we deal with discipline issues in the church?

There are many opinions and techniques but, as always, the Bible is clear – especially on this matter.  (Titus 3:9-11, 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, 1 Corinthians 5:5 and 11, James 5:19-20, 2 Thessalonians 3:13-14, and more!)

The best and clearest instructions are found in Matthew 18…

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.  But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17)

Three simple steps:

If someone sins against you…

  1. Go to them alone – if they repent… you’re done.
  2. Go with 1 or 2 others – if they repent… you’re done.
  3. Go to the leadership of the church.

Remember not to share this with anyone else.  If you do, you’re sinning through gossip and that’s not how you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.

Paul wraps up the book with some awesome Final Words

  • Be joyful
  • Keep Growing  – Grow to maturity
  • Encourage each other
  • Live in harmony and peace with others

What a great list to work on and live by!  Praying that you have an incredible day today in the Lord.

Posted by: Tim Parsons

February 27, 2013

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

Are you strong enough? Can you handle this situation? Are you thick skinned? These are questions may of us are asked or ask others to determine if they are a mature person or a good leader. We live in a day and age where these characteristics are the goal for us to have. We all want to be independent and self-reliant. Things like humility and relying on someone else are signs of weakness and immaturity.
Paul tells us in today’s passage that those qualities, humility and reliance on God, are the very qualities that show both a mature believer and a strong walk with the Lord. The message supporting independence and self-sufficiency are wrong. We need each other, and far more importantly, we need God.

I want everyone to really grasp this concept today:

God receives the most glory from us when we need Him the most!

I don’t pretend to fully know God’s mind or ways but maybe that is why so many of us go through trials and troubles in life. Maybe that is why you just can’t get ahead in your finances or maybe you are having trouble with family or friends. Maybe your job situation just won’t get any better. Whatever the trial maybe, it could be that God wants you to need Him. I know for me it is so true that when everything is good I tend to be more prone to need God less. I also tend to be more self-sufficient and proud of my own abilities and strength.
This takes a huge mind-shift for us to think this way. We are being called to allow ourselves to be weak so that God’s strength can be lifted up through us. I don’t know what this looks like for you but maybe it is allowing trials to come instead of working hard to keep them away. Maybe it is following a call to do something that is outside of your comfort zone. Perhaps a ministry at church or in your neighborhood that you say to yourself, “I could never do that. That just isn’t me or my strengths”. Maybe that is exactly why God is calling you there. It is not about our strengths but His. Below are 2 songs that really hit home this idea. Listen, mediate and enjoy.

Strong enough by Mathew West
Your grace is sufficient for me by Shane and Shane

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

February 26, 2013

Today you should read: 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Here’s a hot-button buzzword for you: “Tolerance.” That’s a word that gets thrown around a lot in our world. Religious tolerance occurs when the followers of a religion, and even the leaders of religion, accept that other faiths are equally valid, even if they do not believe in the tenets of those faiths. A person is seen as intolerant if he or she asserted their belief as if it is undisputed truth. Unfortunately, our culture has negatively labeled intolerance as a characteristic of only arrogant, pompous, religious zealots. Of course, those who label others as “intolerant,” according to their definition of intolerance, are intolerant themselves since they aren’t willing to accept the views of the one they label as “intolerant.”

I, on the other hand, believe that intolerance is actually wise and loving, if the term is used properly. You see, truth excludes what is false. If someone proposes a worldview that I believe is false, it would seem unloving of me not to tell the person what I believe to be true. Of course, I would need to express my views lovingly and with a heavy helping of grace.

Expressing what I believe about Christ as undisputed truth is actually intolerant, in once sense of the word. Paul sarcastically warned the Corinthian believers 2 Corinthians 11:20 that they “tolerate” (NASB), “bear” (ESV), or “put up with” those that enslave them, devour them, and take advantage of them, as well as those who exalt themselves and hit them in the face.

Isn’t that exactly what American Christianity has done? We’ve tolerated those who go against Christ, enslave us, devour us, and take advantage of us. We tolerate those who exalt themselves and essentially slap us in the face for our beliefs. The results of this tolerance are easy to see in our society.

Isn’t it time to be intolerant? Intolerant of what is false? Intolerant of what goes against God’s Word? I don’t mean this in the sense that we should be arrogant and obnoxious. I mean that we must take a stand as believers in Christ for what we believe in our workplace, in our classrooms, etc.

I can hear people saying it now, “But, Rich, you don’t understand the consequences of standing up for truth! I might get fired. I might get a failing grade.” Look, I do understand the consequences and I believe it is still worth it. Paul greatly understood the consequences on a level that you and I will probably never know or experience. Look at 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. Paul experienced numerous beatings, was imprisoned on multiple occasions, faced death, was stoned, experienced three shipwrecks, faced potential robbers, experienced many sleepless nights in hunger and thirst, etc. Why? Because he represented Christ and stood for truth.

Paul’s experience is very convicting. Shoot, sometimes I don’t even want to share my faith because I am afraid someone might think I’m not “cool” or something. The reality is that I need to stand up for truth and stop tolerating what is false in our culture, regardless of the consequences.

Posted by: Rich Duffield

February 25, 2013

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

God has blessed me with eight 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 AND orthopraxy 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?

Posted by: Todd Thomas