February 20, 2013

Today you should read: 2 Corinthians 7:1-16

When I was a sophomore in high school, I had a brief period of deciding whether or not I really wanted to be “religious” and really follow Jesus or just go hangout at youth group and live the way I wanted.

One night I was at a friend’s house hanging out with some people who certainly did not want to follow Jesus. Not to get into too much detail, but the atmosphere didn’t encourage me to live for God. I was also with a girl at the time who did not know the Lord. Now, I have had what I would call a “close encounter with God” (where He spoke so clearly to me it was as close to audible as you could get) maybe 2 or 3 times in my life and this moment was one of them. As I sat there in this house with guys drinking and just living it up in their sin, an amazing and terrible sense of worry and regret hit me like a ton of bricks and God said to me, “What are you doing; is this going to be your life? Turn away from this stuff and follow me. Repent of this and come back to me.”

So I grabbed the bottles of alcohol at the house threw them out in the woods and ran off into the neighborhood to be alone with God. I cried and just openly confessed my sins and apathy to God and, from that time on, have never been the same.

When I read today’s passage, it brings all those memories back to me; thoughts of the godly sorrow that lead me to repent and turn back to God that night.

What about you?

Do you have that kind of story?

Have you ever been in sin and felt the Holy Spirit tug on your heart and cause you to feel badly and feel remorse?

Let Him! Don’t fight that. That is God’s kindness; meant to lead you to repentance. The amazing freedom and relief that comes when you release those sins to Jesus and allow Him to cleanse you is so refreshing. Maybe you have never had that feeling because you have run from or ignored that godly sorrow in your life. You enjoy the sin too much and don’t want to let it go.

Let it go.

Jesus wants to free you and give you an abundant life, but you can’t have that kind of freedom and that kind of life until you allow the sorrow God places in you to turn you to repentance and faith in Him. And trust me, it is way better than anything you can imagine.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd


February 19, 2013

Today you should read: 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Most people don’t like to be called “weird.”  I’d rather be referred to as “normal,” thank you.  That is until I think about what normal really is.  The description of Craig Groeschel’s book Weird: Because Normal Isn’t Working helps to point out what normal is nowadays:

“Normal people are stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Many of their relationships are, at best, strained and, in most cases, just surviving. Even though we live in one of the most prosperous places on earth, normal is still living paycheck to paycheck and never getting ahead. In our oversexed world, lust, premarital sex, guilt, and shame are far more common than purity, virginity, and a healthy married sex life. And when it comes to God, the majority believe in him, but the teachings of scripture rarely make it into their everyday lives. Simply put, normal isn’t working.”

Normal isn’t working anymore.  It’s time to be weird in a good way. Or, as Craig Groeschel puts it, “It’s time to be weird in a God way.”  I think Paul is giving the same challenge in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

Paul made it clear that believers are not to be bound with unbelievers.  His challenge was firm not to be united and associated with idolatry, paganism, infidelity, and unbelief.  Believers and unbelievers have nothing in common in these regards.  And as verse 17 says, the believers were to be “separate” from the world.

Paul’s challenge was for believers to be completely separate from the world. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that the original audience of this letter, and us as well, were never supposed to associate with a non-believer.  The Great Commission would be void if that were the case.  Instead, Paul’s challenge to them was to be different and not look like non-believers.

That is our challenge today as well.  Biblical Christianity (which used to be seen as normal Christianity) is now seen as weird in our society and has been replaced by “normal” Christianity.  Normal Christianity, unfortunately, looks exactly like non-Christianity!  Christians who share their faith, study their Scripture, live with joy, spend time with their kids, live debt-free, remain sexually pure, etc. are considered weird.

Normal Christianity has been adopted by much of the American church.  I wager to say that it’s been adopted by some in our own congregation.

Groeschel says, “If you want to be normal, do what normal people do.  If you want what few people have, do what few people do.  Weird people don’t think like normal people think.”

When’s the last time someone called you “weird”, or something similar?  If it’s never happened, maybe it’s because you’re normal.  Be weird today…in a God way.  Maybe you could share your faith, or do something kind.  How about not yelling at your kids or spouse, or turning the computer off when you’re tempted to look at nonsense?  Ask yourself, “How can I be weird today?”

Posted by: Rich Duffield

February 18, 2013

Today you should read: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Before we jump into chapter 6, we need to remember that it is a continuation of the conversation at the end of chapter 5. Maybe one of the most explicit “gospel” verses comes in 5:21. What a euphoric truth this is!

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

When chapter 6 begins, Paul continues to beg the Corinthian church to believe the gospel. He tells them that “today is the day of salvation”, and that it is a “favorable time”. What he describes next, though, is a tough pill for us to swallow. He describes the reality of following Jesus and obediently sharing the gospel; it comes with “afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger…
(v.4-5)”. With this in mind, let me pose a question to all of us today, one that brings intense conviction about our consecration to Christ:

Am I willing to endure severe tribulation for the sake of gospel of Jesus Christ?

Paul tells us that they considered themselves “servants of God” (v. 4) and that they “faithfully preach the truth” (v.7). This means that the mission of God came before their personal comforts. The urgency of the gospel is too vital for us to sit back in our plush, luxurious Christianity that tells us to worship Jesus on Sundays and worship ourselves Monday-Saturday . We need to be willing to give our utmost devotion to Jesus, as Paul did, if we are to get the gospel to the nations. We need to give sacrificially. We need to share boldly. We need to be Galatians 5:22-24 to a world that is Galatians 5:19-21.

This may feel heavy-handed. You may be thinking, “Where’s the joy in that?” Well, Paul unabashedly states this:

We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. (2 Corinthians 6:6-10)

“Wait a second… choosing Jesus means getting this stuff?” YES. And even if it didn’t, Jesus is still worth it.

There is real purpose and promise in choosing Christ over sin. Ask God for the strength today to do it.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

February 16, 2013

Today you should read: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. In this one verse we can see the implications of Christ reconciling us to himself. The statement, “the old has passed away” signifies freedom from our old life. But what constitutes our freedom? What are we being reconciled from or why do we need reconciliation? These are very important questions for us to answer because it will help us to understand the purpose and the magnitude of Christ’s work on the cross and his love for us.

In Ephesians 2:1-3 Paul writes:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body.

Paul uses the “dead” to describe the state that all of us were or are still in because of the effect of sin in our life. Without a relationship with Christ then we would all be ultimately doomed to a physical and spiritual death. This is not only an eternity crisis but an identity crisis as well. We were originally created to worship God and to serve him.  However, our sin forces us to be in a state of utter confusion because it does not allow us to be who we are created to be apart from Christ. Yet, when we come into a relationship with Christ a few things happen to us.

  1. We are saved from death. We are all born sinful from the start (Romans 3:23) and as we have learned from the verses above that sin makes us dead. Our sin causes a void that must be filled and without Christ we are all left to fill that void however we see best. Some of us throw ourselves into our work, others of us lose ourselves in our relationships and some may even chose religion or spirituality (or a form of it anyway). However, until we come into a relationship with Christ we do not understand life.
  2. We are reconciled to God through Christ’s payment on the cross. God literally rescues us from the death of sin and places us in his kingdom solely on the basis of Christ’s payment of our sin on the cross. Our faith in the gospel (Romans 10:9-10) is what allows us to accept the free gift that is given to us by God. Through our faith in Jesus we receive the righteousness of Christ which allows God to no longer hold our sin against us because it has been perfectly paid for by Christ. By God reconciling us to himself we can finally feel whole again. We are now able to understand our true Identity as God’s children.
  3. We find our purpose. Now that we are new creations in Christ we understand our original purpose as God’s creation and ambassadors of the gospel. We now have a message that is greater than anything in this world. We essentially have the cure to death and we are to scream it from the roof tops. We have the ministry of reconciliation (v.19) and we are God’s plan to save the world.

Questions to ponder:

  • Has ministering the gospel been the main focus of your life?
  • Is Christ at the center of your identity?

Posted by: Chad Wiles