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Posts tagged ‘Second Epistle to the Corinthians’

{ Day 350 }.


For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. 2 Corinthians 5:12-13, KJV

Paul was challenging the mentality of some who were looking on outward things and not properly discerning the heart of a certain matter at hand. What could this matter have been? The next verse tells us. Paul reveals that this controversy centered around two different general states of being that he and other believers were experiencing periodically. This first mode he called being “beside ourselves.” The only other time that this Greek word is used in the New Testament is when the people of Nazareth accused Jesus of being mad. We get our English word ecstatic from a Latin word that means “being outside oneself.” Paul seems to be referring to what are classically understood as ecstatic spiritual experiences and phenomena. He was exhorting the Corinthian believers to not stumble over this genuine holy activity that didn’t appear dignified or even always rational. Instead he challenged them to glory—that is, to rejoice greatly—that such visitations were occurring among them and releasing greater passion in their hearts for God. Visible joy upon believers is possibly the best advertisement for the gospel.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Spirit, reveal Yourself to me through whatever method You choose. Make me willing to be “beside myself” with the joy of Your presence. Release greater power and passion in my heart for Christ, and let others see Your love in my life.

We are to serve the Lord with gladness.

By MIKE BICKLE.

{ Day 344 }.


Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2

The New Testament epistles were not written like lessons for a Sunday school curriculum. They were written as letters to people like us who were at times going through very difficult situations. When we as a church hear about the conflicts that caused the writing of 2 Corinthians or discover the drama that is the background of the letter to the Hebrews, we begin to identify with the people of the New Testament, not just with the exhortations to them. Not only does this make the New Testament come alive, but it also gives the church a sense of connection with those who began the race. The church as a prophetic community must realize that we are a continuation of what they began. We must feel that connection. The torch has been passed so many times that it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are running the same race they started. Their leg of the race has been completed, and they have now gathered at the finish line to cheer us on. The church is the living testimony of the prophetic purpose of God in history.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Holy Spirit, help me to understand the heart and emotions of those early Christians who became Your servants. Let me feel connected to them, and give me a heart that desires to separate myself to You just as they did.

The church is a prophetic community
that is to preserve and proclaim
accurately the Word of God.

By David Jeremiah.

What Satan Doesn’t Want You to Know About Spiritual Warfare.


Satanic pride
(Stock.xchg)

When God called Jeremiah as a prophet to the nations, it came with a sixfold prophetic-apostolic mandate to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build and plant. A humble Jeremiah accepted the calling and, despite the spiritual warfare that raged against him, he walked in obedience and fulfilled his mission in God.

Prophets or not, God’s people are still called to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build and plant. We don’t engage in physical battles, but we wrestle “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12, NKJV). We have spiritual weapons for offense and defense, including the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit and prayer (vv. 14-18).

As Paul said, “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Cor. 10:3-6, KJV).

3 Things Satan Doesn’t Want You to Know 
First, Satan doesn’t want you to know that you have the authority in Christ to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build and plant. Or, as Paul describes it, pull down strongholds, cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Second, Satan doesn’t want you to know that you are wrestling against persons without bodies that are launching fiery, faith-stealing darts against your mind in the form of thoughts contrary to God’s Word.

However, most savvy Christians understand their authority in Christ and realize they are in a battle that’s targeting their minds. Yet there’s still one thing Satan doesn’t want you to know about spiritual warfare: You can’t effectively pull down strongholds, cast down imaginations and bring every thought into captivity without casting down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God in your own mind. Consider the Amplified Bible’s version of 2 Corinthians 10:3-6:

“For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), being in readiness to punish every [insubordinate for his] disobedience, when your own submission and obedience [as a church] are fully secured and complete.”

Casting Down Your Proud Thoughts
We all know we can’t battle Satan in the flesh, yet the temptation is to rely on the flesh in warfare in subtle ways. As I’ve noted in the past, in an article entitled “You’re Resisting the Devil, So Why Won’t He Flee?” we can take pride in our spiritual warfare skills. But it’s not just pride in our warfare skills that can hinder our effectiveness in destroying strongholds. It’s pride in any area of our life.

Of course, we all have a measure of pride in our carnal nature. But when the Holy Spirit is dealing with us about pride in some area—or when we see our own pride and don’t cry out for the grace of humility—we’re walking in sheer disobedience. The Bible says we are to have a “readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled (2 Cor. 10:6, KJV). I believe the more we seek to walk in obedience to the Word of God, the more effective we’ll be in spiritual warfare.

So we return once again to the admonition of James: “He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:6-8, NKJV).

In our flesh, we’re no match for the devil. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to back up our authority in Christ to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build and plant. We can’t drive demons into obedience to the Word of God when we’re blatantly disobeying the Word of God in any area, whether it’s walking in pride or some other sin.

Before you engage in spiritual warfare, examine your heart, and take the time to break agreement with the enemy, repent before God and ask for His guidance. It could be that you’ve opened the door to the spiritual enemies that are attacking you and that simply renouncing agreement with them will stop the attack. In any case, we should enter spiritual warfare with confidence but not arrogance. We can be confident that God will lead us into triumph over our enemies if we lean and depend on Him and not on carnal weapons or pride. Amen.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including The Spiritual Warrior’s Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can email Jennifer at jennifer.leclaire@charismamedia.com or visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Called to be ambassadors…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“We are therefore Christ‘s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
-2 Corinthians 5:20

Jesus’ goal during his time on earth, and still today, is to create clones of himself. Paul, especially in Ephesians, Romans, and Corinthians says, “We are the body of Christ.” We may think that’s a metaphor, but the early church really believed that we filled the role of Jesus until his return and that God was actually in our skin. God, who used to feel distant and far away on a cloud somewhere, because of Christmas, now that same God dwells in your body. Wherever your body goes, so does Jesus go. Because of that, you carry with you a responsibility to live like Jesus, to love people – especially your enemies, those who hate you, and those who say evil things about you – and to do good. You’re called to live a different kind of life, one that’s remarkable.

That’s not just an encouragement but also a responsibility – to be called ambassadors. We’re called the temple. We’re called all sorts of things to show that wherever your body goes, so does Jesus go. Wherever your body is, if you’re a believer, Jesus is there, too. This means that, as you live your life like Jesus to people around you, they experience Christ. When people experience love, they experience God. When you put your hand on the shoulder of someone who’s suffering, you say, “I’m there for you,” and he or she experiences Jesus, not just you. When you say to someone, “I love you and I wish you the best,” or you bless someone with a gift, or you speak an encouraging word, or you pray that Jesus is blessing them, they experience Jesus encouraging them. It’s because of those relationships that people are able to experience Christ.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I want to be an ambassador of your love to others. Help me welcome all I meet into a relationship with you. Amen.

Reflection: How have you served as an ambassador of Christ?

Dara’s Wall.


During her childhood, Dara saw enough pain and abuse to last a lifetime. In response, she built a protective wall around her heart. But “The Wall” kept out the love and acceptance she so desperately needed. When Dara turned to God and began to read his Word, her wall began to crumble as God’s unfailing love tumbled in.

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Dara’s Wall

Watching my mother be abused emotionally by my father to a point which eventually brought her to a near-death suicide attempt, led me to internalize my feelings. I put them behind “The Wall” I had built around my heart. My father was and still is, the angriest, most controlling and domineering individual I’ve ever known. I literally felt my mother’s pain, yet I attempted to shut myself off from it by physically plugging my ears and running from any and all confrontation.

I became a person who always wanted to please others; to be the best at everything I attempted. I simply refused to pursue anything unless I was reasonably certain I could obtain perfection. So as you might surmise, my endeavors became very limited. To receive love and acceptance, I felt I had to be “doing something” to obtain it.

Internalizing My Pain

During my childhood I was sexually abused by the son of a family friend. My father excused it away saying, “Boys will be boys.” This caused me to further internalize my pain. I came to the realization that voicing it did not bring resolution, nor did it bring love and approval. Because of “The Wall,” I waited years to share the abuse and my subsequent pain with anyone.

I have known God since I was a child through the faithful example of my mother. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at age 12 and have since had a strong personal relationship with Him. Yet I resisted letting even Him into the depths of my heart. “The Wall” I had built by that time was thickly layered and nearly impossible to penetrate.

I had a fear of letting my feelings be seen, so although I never stopped talking to the Lord every day, I continued to keep Him and everyone else on the outside of “The Wall.” I know within my heart that the Lord was watching and waiting for me to turn to Him and lay everything at His feet. Yet, even still I could not break through “The Wall” I had erected around my heart.

Finally, almost 4 years ago, after losing two strong spiritual examples, my mother and my mother-in-law, who both passed away at relatively young ages, and after moving 600 miles from anyone I knew, and after having repeated thoughts of suicide, I turned to God, somewhat as a last alternative.

Reading the Word of God

I began to read the Word of God daily and allow the Lord to speak to me through it. I could not believe how relevant it was to what I was going through in my life. I began to devour the Word, as Matthew 4:4 says, “…It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (NIV)

I began to keep a journal and that allowed “The Wall” around my heart to begin to crumble. The Lord was faithful everyday to speak to me and to reassure me of his unfailing love and affirmation. He released His purpose in my life and I began without reservation to live to please him, and not everyone else.

The Lord became the “Counselor” I so desperately needed and, believe it or not, I was anxious to go to therapy! He became my comforter, my refuge and my source of strength in every circumstance. I came to the revelation that I didn’t have to “do things” to obtain his unconditional love and acceptance.

Now I turn to the Lord, most of the time, without hesitation. I open his Word daily and he is faithful to speak to me no matter the time or situation. I prayerfully seek his guidance in all my decisions. My life is definitely not a bed of roses, but I am able to handle all adversity by praying, reading God’s Word and journaling. I no longer allow my feelings to be put behind “The Wall.”

Just as the wall around Jericho came tumbling down, so did “The Wall” around my heart. I now exist to fulfill this verse of Scripture:

2 Corinthians 1: 3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (NIV)

By Dara Bennett

Avoiding a Generic Thanksgiving.


Avoiding a Generic Thanksgiving

My thrice-great grandmother was a Choctaw Native born in South Mississippi in 1845. Her name was Clementine “Thankful” Page. I’m not sure what her parents called her in the day-to-day but I’ve imagined it would be great if she went by “Thankful.” I can imagine that name echoing through a house in those antebellum years. “Thankful, it’s time for dinner” or maybe, “Thankful, what did you do?” What a wonderful name and a great way to be remembered. For whatever reason, her parents chose to mark her life with a constant reminder of gratitude. Likewise, Christians have been given a new name in Christ and we should be marked by the virtue of thanksgiving. “Thankful” should be our name.

Many nations have their own traditional “Day of Thanks.” Here in the United States, our country celebrates Thanksgiving every fourth Thursday of November. It has a long history and has been on the books since 1863, when Lincoln declared, “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” To be sure, there are gluttonous excesses associated with the holiday that old Abe probably didn’t envision but I believe it can serve as a vital reminder to followers of Christ. Any “Day of Thanks” should serve as a genuine cue for the believer that real thanksgiving is a daily virtue skillfully pondered and carefully applied.

Move Beyond a Generic Thanksgiving

The interesting thing about Thanksgiving Day, Gerald Bray writes, is that it “manages to be religious and secular at the same time.”[1] However for the believer, a secularist perspective will not do. Bray gets to the point of this noting that, “Today it is a major celebration when people are expected and encouraged to be grateful, but no one specifies to whom thanks should be given.”[2] This requires us as Christians to move beyond a generic thanks.

So what is biblical thanksgiving? If we tied together the wealth of the Bible’s teaching we would see that thanksgiving is the recognition that God has blessed us. One of the biblical words used for “thanksgiving” (yada) means to praise, confess, or witness. These are words that are directed to something or better still, to someone. This of course points us to the fact that our confession and our witness are rooted in the character and work of the Triune God. As Christians, we do not offer generic thanksgiving to a generic Being with generic adulation. So, we confess the work of the Son as given by the Father in the power of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 2:14). As believers, we are witnesses to the grace of God, which has been richly lavished on His Church (Ephesians 1:3).

Thanksgiving for Every Occasion

In Scripture, especially in the Psalms, thanksgiving is often bound together with praise. So to offer praise to the Lord is to give thanks (Psalms 106:1Psalms 136:1). In thanksgiving, we loosen our tongues and proclaim with our voices all that the Lord has done. We declare all of His wonders (Psalms 26:7). So in this way, the Psalms can serve as a voice for our particular praises of thanksgiving (Psalms 95:2). Taking our cue from the Psalms we can learn to offer thanks in some unexpected places. We learn that thanksgiving can come through the channel of suffering, spiritual apathy, and lament as well as times of exuberance, joy, and prosperity. In this way Calvin was right to call the Psalms “An anatomy of all parts of the soul.” Biblical thanksgiving will move our hearts to confess the works of the Lord in all circumstances.

Thanksgiving Made Visible

The Church is the chosen vessel for making the praise of God visible in the world. On a few occasions, the Apostle Paul paused to offer thanks to God for the work and witness of the churches in which he ministered (see Ephesians 1:162 Thessalonians 2:3). Specifically, Paul noted how their faith had been enlarged by the example of their love for one another. Their perseverance under difficulty, their faith in the midst of persecutions, and their resilience in afflictions were all visible grounds for Paul’s thanksgiving. Christian, are you thankful for your church? Are you enlarging the faith of your fellow members? Are you modeling perseverance under duress? The gathered Church is the embodiment of the grace of Christ in the world. Our praises, fellowship, and various efforts for outreach are tangible expressions of thanksgiving to God.

Thanksgiving Every Day

365 days in a year offer us 365 unique opportunities to demonstrate our life in Christ. 365 opportunities to pray, to lead our family in worship, to grab a friend by the hand and pray with them, to minister to the sick, to prepare a meal for someone who is hungry, to take in a fatherless child, to go on mission, to write a check to a missionary, to roll up our sleeves and serve in the church, and 365 distinct opportunities to tell someone that “Jesus will set you free.” In this way, thanksgiving is every day.

Clearly, there are many opportunities to express thanks to God. Do our various celebrations of thanks carry the distinct aroma of the glories of Christ? For the Church, thanksgiving is every day. After all, her name is “thankful.”

Here are a few ideas for incorporating thankfulness into your Day of Thanks:

·         Read or sing Psalms of thanksgiving (Psalms 9, 30, 32, 34, 40, 41, 92, 103, 107, 116, 138).

·         Pray through Ephesians 1:3–10 and discuss with friends and family what Christ has done in your life this year.

·         Sing or listen to Charles Wesley’s hymn “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”

·         Have each person detail something they are thankful for and then use the opportunity to pray and give thanks to the Lord.

·         For small children, have them create a picture or a craft that demonstrates the practice of thanksgiving to God.

·         Serve someone in physical and/or spiritual need whether in your local church or in your community (nursing home, hospital, shelter, etc.).

Dr. Paul Lamey is Pastor of Preaching at Grace Community Church, Huntsville, Alabama. He and his wife, Julie, have four children. You can read more from Paul at his blog, expository thoughts and follow him on Twitter @paulslamey.


[1]Gerald Bray, God is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 35.

[2]Ibid.

Paul Lamey

The God Who Actually Does Know What You’re Going Through.


Stephen Altrogge, Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA

The God Who Actually Does Know What You’re Going Through

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes. – Jack Handey

My friend Adam is a wise guy. Not in a, “A rabbi, a priest, and a vegan walk into a bar” sort of way, but in a Proverbs, real life street wisdom sort of way. He is a residence director at our local university, which means he works with college students every day. He deals with students in trouble, students in the dumps, students on academic probation, students on drugs, students who have been assaulted, and students who are on the verge of dropping out of college. In other words, he deals with kids who are pretty vulnerable. Kids who have really been slapped around by life.

When interacting with vulnerable kids Adam could easily resort to saying, “I know what you’re going through.” After all, that’s what we say when someone is in a tough spot. We try to relate their experience to our experience. We try to sympathize with them. To comfort them out of our own experience. To let them know they’re not alone. To make them feel loved. And that impulse to comfort others is a good impulse. But Adam doesn’t always do that. Why? Because he knows that in most cases he doesn’t really know what a person is going through. He may be able to relate to some circumstances, but he can’t really know what a person is going through. That is wisdom.

The reality is, when someone is suffering we don’t know what they’re going through. Even if we have experienced similar circumstances as a person who is suffering we don’t process the world the way they do. And we don’t have the same personal history, biological makeup, or support system. When someone is going through the meat grinder we can only know a tiny portion of what they are really experiencing.

Our limited ability to know the suffering of others is what makes 2 Corinthians 7:6 so precious. It says, “But God, who comforts the downcast….”

Jesus knows us fully. He knows our strengths and weaknesses, our family history, our biological makeup, our worldview. He knows every nook and cranny of us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And he also knows suffering on an intense, personal level. Jesus’ knowledge of suffering is not abstract, ivory tower, textbook knowledge. Jesus was a man of sorrows. He was mocked, betrayed, and humiliated. As he hung on the cross he was cut off from the Father. Jesus knew excruciating, overwhelming, crushing sorrow.

The combination of Jesus’ omniscience and personal experience with deep suffering perfectly equip him to comfort us in our own suffering. He really does know what we’re going through, and he is ready to comfort us when we are downcast. He doesn’t leave us to muddle and slog through suffering on our own. He doesn’t tell us to suck it up, buck up, and get up. He meets us in our downcast state and pours out grace upon us.

Suffering tempts us to withdraw from God when in reality we should press hard into God. Are you downcast? Are you suffering? Do you feel like you’ve been chewed up and spit out? Do you feel like butter scraped over too much bread? Draw near to the God who comforts the downcast. Draw near to the God who knows you exactly and knows exactly what you need. Draw near in your weakness and weariness and ready-to-call-it-quits-ness.

God has a special place in his heart for the downcast. Move toward that place.


Stephen Altrogge serves as a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church. Find out more at The Blazing Center.

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