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2 Corinthians We Share in the Sufferings of Christ
Week 34 Day 1
Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 "For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort." ESV
Thought: When we witness to the name of Jesus we can always expect to suffer as a result; for the world rejects Christ and so rejects us when we live for Christ. It could be said that if we were not suffering and being afflicted in the name of Christ, for the way that we live, then maybe we are not living in the name of Christ. In sharing in the sufferings of Christ we become uniquely aware of what Jesus suffered through at our own hands, rejection by the world. Thus by sharing in His sufferings we are strengthened and encouraged through knowledge of His sufferings, such that we grow in character and in hope. And so as we share in His sufferings we are also comforted, built up by God, comforted in knowledge of salvation and the hope of glory. Therefore take heart in times of tribulation and the Spirit will comfort you in all ways; then you will know how sufficient the grace of Christ is to bring all things to completion.
Prayer: Lord, comfort us in our afflictions and give us strength in Your name, that as we share in Your sufferings we would not be dismayed but built up in hope. Be with us I pray.
And Though We May Die, We Rely on God
Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:9; 21-22 "Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." "And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." ESV
Thought: When rejected by the world and suffering its afflictions we have but one strong tower to whom we may turn; for the Lord never gives up on us and is thus the most reliable person we can rest in. For even if we are put to death our reliance will never falter because He is stronger to overcome all, and we know that if we die, we will be raised again in life eternal. Every affliction which we suffer is used by God thus; to build us up in strength of character and in hope that our reliance would be in Him and such that we would realize just how strong He is. We know that God does this because of the things which He has already done (notice the direction of each blessing); for He has chosen and established us in Christ that we should be saved; He has anointed us - giving us a purpose and a calling to which He leads us; He has
put His seal on us - marking us as His own; and He has given us His Spirit as a promise of the things to come; being raised to eternal life. Therefore through our reliance on God we can have full security that not only will He raise us but that even in our times of affliction He is still present with us, and when for His glory it is appropriate that we should fall asleep He shall take us into His embrace and remain with Him forever.
Prayer: Lord, break us down and build us up again to grow reliance in You and in Your strength, strip away our pride and humble us before You that we would place our trust in You. Be our shelter Lord in all suffering and lead us into new life.
Knowing that He will raise us
Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:13-14; 5:5 "Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, "I believed, and so I spoke," we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence." "He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee." ESV
Thought: The question is often asked, how can we know that we will be raised or that we will be raised? Jesus' death and resurrection was an identification of what lies ahead for us, to die, to be raised again and to enter into the presence of the Father. But this was not all, for in His death we died with Him and if we were joined with Him in death we are also joined with Him in life, having the life of Christ within us which leads to eternal life. We recognize the presence of the life of Christ through the confirmation of the Holy Spirit in the believer and the demonstration of a Christ-like life. If you recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit within you then you can be sure that on the last day you will be raised, not that everyone won't, but the Spirit was given to us as a guarantee of this promise. Therefore having this security, this faith and this belief we must continue with the advancement of this: speaking. For David writes, "I believed, and so I spoke" (Psa116:10), speaking is not only thus the advancement of belief, but the expression of it. If our speech is dead, then so is our belief. Let us not be silent, let us not be shy, let us not die out, but let us speak; in the markets, in the offices, in the shops; let us speak in all places of this belief we have!
Prayer: Lord, thank You for giving us Your Spirit as a guarantee of Your work to come, give us the boldness now to speak of You in every place, give us utterance by Your Spirit the words You want people to hear. Be lifted up in all the earth.
In this way we became ambassadors of Christ
Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." ESV
Thought: An ambassador is a foreign visitor who represents another more powerful person, in our case this means that in not being of the world we are foreign to the world; and the person we represent is Christ. In being an ambassador an important task is assigned; to ensure the reputation of the person is not tarnished or brought to question, this holds true for us; for every action or inaction we are held to so is Christ and His glory is brought into question based on our actions. This is why we "must be perfect, as Your heavenly Father is perfect", representing Jesus as trustworthy, truthful, and loving. In being
an ambassador and representative of Christ we must become like Christ, this is why Paul stresses regularly, "Become an imitator of me, as I am an imitator of Christ" because we are meant to become like Christ in every way, this is the challenge to every Christian, become Christ-like for we are "the righteousness of God", the demonstration of it. Therefore we must make this a priority in our lives, to be Godly representatives, that Christ would be glorified in the world through our lives and His action in them. It is in this way that we boast in the Lord, speaking of our testimony which demonstrates our weaknesses and Christ's strength.
Prayer: Lord, teach us what is means to be Your ambassadors for Your glory. Work through us to reveal Your purposes and be revealed in the world.
Not to be unequally yoked with any
Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?" ESV
Thought: Does an unbeliever work to spread the Gospel or a saint to promote sin? Believers and non-believers have different aims and objectives. We seek to glorify God, they seek to glorify man, are the two not incompatible? We are thus urged to not have partnership with any not aiming for the same objectives as us, for their presence and activity will not result in a positive outcome for the Gospel, for people are quicker to honour man than they are to honour God. But if a non-believer will work in pursuit of the Gospel, and be willing to lay control at the foot of the believer then it might be that through the actions of the Christian that they might be sanctified before God. This applies in all aspects of life; marriage, mission and monotony. Be a people with a mind set for God that He would be glorified in everything you do and never let any worldly obstacle or person get in your way from fulfilling that mission.
Prayer: Lord, help us to always strive forth for Your glory, not being unequally yoked or unproductive because of those who would not seek it. Rather by being in holy communion with You and the fellowship of believers give us spiritual success that we would see many turn to You.
But that by bearing our scars
Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 "So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." ESV
Thought: The Lord has worked wonderfully and mysteriously in each of our lives and the imprints of those workings is seen in how we have arrived here today. The story we have to tell is the story of the Lord, part of the 29th chapter of Acts you could say. This story, this testimony was given to you that by it you would be able to demonstrate and show the workings of God in a real sense through the sharing of His interaction in your life. When
people question the legitimacy of your story and are seeking a sign of proof, it is at these times when you may have one to give, the change which has occurred in your life by showing the scars borne because of your previous life. By showing this weakness we used to have, we have a testimony of how God made us strong and provided the grace necessary to cover that scar. Let us never forget the testimony we have, or what God saved us from; for your story may become the hope of salvation to another. Write down your testimony of how God has worked to save you, understand it to the deepest depths even if that means researching your family or the family of friends back many generations to find that working. Donâ€™t ignore the small stuff either, God doesn't. When you have opportunity to share your testimony give it knowing where you've come from, that those listening would be inspired and built up by it.
Prayer: Lord, Your workings began before time began, a perfect plan for my salvation, inspiring the actions of my friends, my family and every thought, word and deed of mine, that I should be reconciled to You. Work even more victoriously through my life now to bring many others to You.
We should have position to boast in the Lord
Reading: 2 Corinthians 10:17-18; 11:30; 13:4 "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness." "For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God." ESV
Thought: I have already taught that it is not good that any man should have position to boast before God, but to the opposite is very good, to boast of God before men, for in such a way is God glorified. But how do we go about boasting about God to unbelievers who would consider our statements as foolishness? Through our testimony. By "boasting" of our weaknesses we raise God up, for He has conquered and will surely conquer them. If we speak of how deep our rejection of Him was, then we witness to the depths of how vast His love and mercy are. It is for this reason that testimony is so strong and so necessary, particularly more so in our postmodern culture since we express truth through personal witness and by allowing our listener to empathise with the circumstances of our lives. It is for this reason I stress coming to a full understanding of where your faith has come from, not the illusion of choice but the orchestrated influence God has had since as far back as it can be managed. Remember God was thinking of you when He made Adam and when Adam ate the fruit; the testimony of every person, without exception, begins with Adam, but it is not always possible to follow it back that far. Therefore it is good to research for at least three generations of your family, for the faith of your great grandfather, even though you never met him, may have been the spark to ignite the first flames of your own.
Prayer: Lord, the testimony of Your workings begins before You even formed the world, therefore give us revelation of how You have worked up to the days of our salvation. Give us opportunity to share the testimony of our weaknesses to boast in and of You, for Your glory forever and ever.