November 16, 2017

Today you should read: 2 Corinthians 10:1-18

Humility is not a characteristic that our world esteems. Part of the reason for that, I think, is that humility is somewhat hard to recognize. If someone were truly humble, would they leave an impression, or would you walk away from a conversation thinking more about Jesus?

2 Corinthians 10 paints a great picture of true humility. When writing letters while absent, Paul had to boldly cut to the chase because paper was expensive, among other possible reasons. You can imagine, also, that when the Christian community received a letter from an apostle, it was immediately venerated and its fame in the region spread quickly. Then, like meeting any celebrity, when Paul shows up people remember he’s just a guy—“his personal presence is
unimpressive.” (10)

Paul had authority over the church at Corinth (8), his writings bore this out; but when in their presence, Paul didn’t not abuse his power, he approached the church with “meekness and gentleness” (1). It seems that because Paul did not arrive with the pomp and circumstance of earthly authorities and rulers, some rejected his authority. These people were fooled by
measuring and comparing themselves with their own selves (12), instead of by the true standard of Christ. Looking into a mirror, you may think you’re pretty great as these men had done, but be warned. “It is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends” (18).

The Lord calls all of us to humility. However, God has also placed all of us in positions of authority. Although Paul was incredibly humble, his God-given authority, especially in his writings, required boldness. These two characteristics are not mutually exclusive. Paul’s bold authority was never directed at self or personal gain, but only to magnify Christ—that’s humility—power and authority while deflecting and reorienting praise.

In what areas of your life do you have God-given authority? Is your authority used to elevate Christ or yourself? What does it look like to balance your personal authority with humility?

 

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

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November 15, 2017

Today you should read: 2 Corinthians 9:1-15

 

This passage is so interesting to read through in the season that we are currently in. We have come out of Missions Emphasis Month, and we got to witness and be part of God moving in amazing ways through the church and the willingness to give. Then we are approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas where, as the Bride of Christ we get to provide food for families in need at Thanksgiving, and gifts and things of need for families in our community for Christmas.

The joy of all of this is not found in the actions. It is found in the purpose. We do all of these things to see the Kingdom of God advanced. We are sowing with generosity knowing that God can use our money and things in a much greater way than we can. We may never see personally the fruit of our generosity, however, when we sow bountifully we also reap bountifully. (v.6)

Because of this truth we can continue giving whatever we can generously. Not because we feel pressured or we hope to gain from giving. But because we know that God will use what we give and He will produce fruit, and He will be known by others. When we keep this perspective we have a heart of joy, and even excitement to give sacrificially to the work of God.

The questions I ask myself in light of this passage are:

  1. Am I generous for the Kingdom?
  2. Is it a burden or a Joy to give?
  3. Do I give in hopes of seeing the Kingdom advance or because I “have to?”

I would encourage you to ask yourselves these questions today and pray for the Spirit to reveal to you the answers.

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate

November 14, 2017

Today you should read: 2 Corinthians 8:1-24

The Grace of Giving

Excel in the gracious act of giving… (v.7b)

Giving can be such a blessing in our lives when we understand some critical components of it.  Thank you for being such a giving church!  We’ve just come out of the largest missions giving month ever in the history of our church.  Thank you for giving to the Lord.

Paul – the missionary – is giving a report to the church in Corinth about the churches in Macedonia.  He tells us that God is using them – …what God in His kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia – to minister to others in need.  We learn some critical principles today about giving from them.

First we learn that giving is not dependent on wealth.  Verse 2-3 says, “…they are very poor.  But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.”  Giving is equal sacrifice – not equal substance.  We don’t all have the same available resources – but we all can give to the Lord from what He’s given us.   

We learn that giving is from the heart.  “For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more.  And they did it of their own free will.” (v.3)

Giving to others starts by giving ourselves to the Lord.  Verse 5 reads “… for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to.”  Paul encourages them (and us) to excel in the gracious act of giving.  

Our giving is motivated by an understanding of God’s great gift to us.  “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v.9)  We are to give in proportion to how God has blessed us.  (v.11-12)

Although I have always obediently given to the Lord, I haven’t always understood the privilege of giving.  This is a lesson that God has been teaching Susan and I recently.  Todd often says, “We’re never more like Jesus, than when we give.”

Although God doesn’t need our money, what He knows is that our money reveals where our heart is.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:21

What does your giving reveal about your heart?  Release it all to God today – He owns it anyway…

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

November 13, 2017

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

You want to talk about a joy in the church family and life-sharing community that fellow believers can be? It’s the apostle Paul’s words found in 2 Corinthians 7:2-4. The good and the bad, the apostle Paul finds great pride in this church who judging from the rest of the letter, are making some pretty stupid decisions for Christians. But Paul is sticking with them, in life or death (v. 3).

Speaking of those stupid decisions, the apostle Paul recognizes their desire for repentance with those sins. That repentance started within them through grief. But not just any type of grief but Godly grief. The apostle Paul lovingly and graciously called those sins out and that letter produced a Godly grief over them (v. 8). Because that grief was only momentarily and it was ultimately from God. That grief turned into repentance which saves them from regret and further consequences from those sins, including death (v. 10).

This is why it is important for the church to continue to keep each other accountable and practice church discipline. What may cause grief right now can turn into repentance later. Repentance saves people from regrets and consequences. The joy and pride that the apostle Paul felt for his fellow believers is a part of that accountability and church discipline.

• When have you seen accountability in repentance or church discipline used in a believer’s life to save them from regrets and sinful consequences? (Comment below)

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor