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2 Corinthians


Contents


14th June 2020 - Bible Reading - 2 Corinthians 13

All around the world in many churches, at the end gatherings, the minister will simply say two words, the grace. That is all that needs to be said for the congregation to know that the time has come to encourage each other's hearts with the prayer we find here at the end of 2 Corinthians 13.14

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

It is my prayer for you today!

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray that our love for each other be marked by the same attitude as Jesus Christ.


13th June 2020 - Bible Reading - 2 Corinthians 12

Continuing the theme from chapter 11 Paul again shows us that a life lived following Christ crucified will be a life lived in weakness, a life where the power comes not from us, but from God.

Every time I read the first half of this chapter I find myself moved afresh. Honest cries to God to remove a weakness, a thorn in his flesh. Then a trusting heart that accepts that the Lord is using that thorn to display his power through Paul.  

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (12.9)


a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray for our government, facing pressure from various groups to ease restrictions - give them wisdom, patience and compassion.


12th June 2020 - Bible Reading - 2 Corinthians 11

What a remarkable chapter. Paul 'boasts' big time in this chapter. But, in doing some inverts everything that we would normally boast in. It is as he says, If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. (11.30).

We are being shown here a life that has lined up with the one we follow - Christ crucified.

His opponents in Corinth would see his 'boasts' as signs of weakness and failure - he doesn't even have the sense to stay out of trouble! But Paul is determined to speak of that in his life that displays Christ to those he serves, it means he will only boast of his weakness.  

I am struck by his last boast (11.31-33) - his embarrassing escape over the wall in Damascus. At a time when the highest Roman military honour went to the soldier who was first over the wall at the end of a siege, Paul suggests he was the first down the wall in retreat.  

Are you prepared to boast in your weakness, that Christ may be displayed to others?

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray for wisdom as opportunities for ministry and outreach on site, begin again. Pray that we would not simply replicate past plans, but be wise, creative and strategic in our use of this time, to do what is best - that the gospel may bear fruit and multiply here.


11th June 2020 - Bible Reading - 2 Corinthians 10

When I lived in Sheffield I was privileged to spend time with a man who had been the minister for 30 years of the church I served at. I was keen to spend time with him to learn from him. Because over the course of 30 years God had worked powerfully through this man to lead a church to grow from 50 people to over 1200 people. Quite a feat!

I remember meeting with him and asking him, what his secret was? His answer has stayed with me...

I preached my heart out every Sunday and then I went home had a bath and prayed for those who’d heard it.

That’s it. There was no trick, no strategic planning course, no cutting edge technology, no pomp, no prestige, no fanfare. Phillip had become convinced of what we read here in 2 Corinthians 10. That the only thing powerful enough to bring a lasting difference to a church, to a suburb, to a city, is the faithful proclamation of Christ crucified. It is the only weapon we have in our arsenal worth taking with us into the fight. But, wow, what a weapon.

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.

4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.

On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

Paul’s unassuming ministry is mighty to take any stronghold. What weapon does he use? The gospel of Christ (v.14)

As Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 4.2, the simple proclamation of the gospel of Christ…plainly set forth before a mind and heart…

And as he says in Ephesians 6, as he swings that weapon, he is on his knees in prayer.

And it’s affect? Verses 3-5…

Power to bring down…

High handed arguments

High lifted hearts…

Power to take captive every part of a life…

For such a battle, the weapons of this world will not suffice. The finest oratory, the best letters of commendation, do not have power to demolish strongholds that the forces of sin and evil build.

The battle is on and what God has given us is greater than any power it will face!

I preached my heart out every Sunday

and then I went home had a bath

and prayed for those who’d heard it.

I plan to do 2 of the 3…

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: Pray for the Wardens and Parish Council as they lead the process of ensuring our premises are safe and ready for an increase in ministry gatherings, as restrictions ease.


10th June 2020 - Bible Reading - 2 Corinthains 9

Yesterday we read God's of God's remarkable gift.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Cor 8.9).

God gives this world his gift. He holds nothing back. He spares not his own son, but gives it all for us. This is his indescribable generosity to an impoverished world. And in 2 Corinthians 9 we see that with his gift comes a whole new system: God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (9.8)

In this economy, there is only one stimulus package – his powerful grace.

In this economy there is only one goal – in all things (there is no aspect of your life his grace doesn’t supply all you need), in all times (there is no season of life in which his grace falls short), you may abound in every good work.

The simple cycle of God’s economy is that through his generosity we may become rich in every way, so that on every occasion, we can be generous (2 Cor 9.11).

Consider the possibilities that open for us in such a system. Our privilege as a church family is to seek God’s wisdom through his word and prayer, so that we might know what good works he would have us abound generously in. It is exciting to imagine what the Lord might do through his grace generously at work among us.

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: A prayer of thanksgiving - Lord Jesus - we rejoice that you are the Holy One. Yet you were the forsaken one. When we survey the wondrous cross, on which you, the Prince of Glory died. Our richest gain, we count but loss, and our contempt on all our pride. Thank you! Amen.


9th June 2020 - Bible Reading - 2 Corinthians 8

Many years ago I studied economics at University. I loved it! I loved it because it is the simplest of the sciences, designed to solve one problem – there are unlimited wants and limited resources. Every economic system in our world attempts to master that problem.

2 Corinthians 8 unveils God’s economy and it too can be summed up simply: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Cor 8.9).

What a remarkable system! God’s economy is driven by powerful other person centred grace. Our God operates in this world as an extravagant giver, for the good of others. It is a system completely at odds with our world and our economies – national and personal. Human systems operate in a cycle of ungrace; a cycle in which eventually all motives and efforts centre on ourselves.

Into such a cycle our God breaks in, unblocking the bottle neck. God breaks in with a single abounding act of grace, that forever unblocks the system!

Tomorrow, in 2 Corinthians 9 we see how this grace given, that has flowed to us personally, resources us with all we need to be other person entered ourselves.

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: A prayer of repentance - Lord Jesus it stuns us that you were forsaken for us. That your wounds have become our healing. That you were not answered, so that we might be. Forgive us Lord for the sins that have caused all of this. And enable us to use the freedom you have purchased for us, for your glory. Amen.


8th June 2020 - Bible Reading - 2 Corinthians 7

The more the cross shapes our life, the more it will shape our wills. 2 Corinthians 7 describes 2 attitudes that will grow within a church that is being shaped by the gospel:


Being willing to grieve others by your rebuke of them…


Being willing to be grieved by another’s rebuke of you…


Such willingness can only come by way of the gospel. But we find it very hard, as captured by this quote by Peter Adam.

‘This is a massive weakness in Bible teaching churches. We love the scriptures being read and preached, but we are wary about admonishing one another…Christian friendships are so fragile that they are broken the moment a believer admonishes another believer. Our instinctive response is, ‘how dare you tell me what to do’.

PETER ADAM


But 2 Corinthians 7 calls us beyond that and shows us a picture of where it leads. It leads to a life with no regret (v.10). A life where there is no fear of hidden secrets or shame, a life of forgiveness and living as a new creation - behold the old has gone the new has come!

a prayer for today

Pray that our love may abound in knowledge and depth of insight, so that we may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God.


7th June - Bible Reading - 2 Corinthians 6

We are beset by many forces that influence our hearts to live and act to the beat of their drum. 2 Corinthians 6 is a call to have the cross shape our heart. 3 calls:


Open your heart to a cross shaped life (vv.3-5) - a life that doesn’t block the gospel from people’s view, but commends it


Open your heart to cross shaped change (vv.6-7) - a life that is matured to become more like Christ


Open your heart to cross shaped influence (v.14) - to have the single driver within the engine of your life be Christ.

a prayer for today

Pray for the children and youth of St Andrew’s as opportunities to be together again begin. Pray for joy and friendship to grow as they learn of Jesus together. Pray for our children and youth ministry leaders.


6th June 2020 - Bible Reading - 2 Corinthians 5

This is the passage that convinced me in year 10 that I wanted to go into ministry when I ‘grew up’…. 

 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 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. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

a prayer for today

Pray for the children and youth of St Andrew’s as opportunities to be together again begin. Pray for joy and friendship to grow as they learn of Jesus together. Pray for our children and youth ministry leaders.


5th June 2020 - Bible Reading - 2 Corinthians 4

For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (vv.11-12)


Here is the Christian life at its most simple and profound. Those who come to Jesus by faith, have their life bound up with his - our life is meant top follow the same pattern as his - he who was given over to death, such that life can come to us. Now we who are alive (by faith in Jesus Christ) are to give ourselves sacrificially such that life can come to others. 


The big question is how can we sustainably live such a life. The Apostle Paul’s answer in chapter 4 is two-fold:


1 - Because you wholeheartedly believe in the resurrection from the dead

He was raised and because we are bound up with him, so will we. So we set our hearts on that (vv.13-18).


2 - Because we have come to know his all surpassing power that is at work in us (vv.7-9)

We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the all surpassing power is from God and not from us…


In the end…the Christian life is not about:

you overcoming obstacles…

you being the best you, you can be…

you being strong…

You are not the point at all you see…


the Christian life is about God’s power so at work in your weakness…that it is obvious…that there is only 1 hero…his name is Jesus…

a prayer for today

Pray for a vaccine for COVID-19. Pray for wisdom and skill as extensive trials are undertaken, that they may be safe, thorough and effective.


4th June 2020 - Bible Reading - 2 Corinthains 3

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (3.18)


Behold the powerful work the spirit of God is doing in our lives - having lifted the veil to show us Jesus’ glory, and lead our hearts to trust him. He is now at work, showing us Jesus so that we ourselves are being transformed more and more into his likeness. Praise God for this relentlessly good work in us.

a prayer for today

Pray for wisdom as our church family adjusts to easing restrictions - pray for plans that protect physical well-being, grow our knowledge and love of God and unite us under Christ.


3rd June 2020 - Bible Reading - 2 Corinthians 2

God’s purpose in our lives is us joyfully standing firm with Jesus. This then sets the simple purpose I should want in my relationship within anyone else in the church family - to have your joy of faith in Jesus grow, so that you stand firm in Jesus.


In 2 Corinthians 2 we say that the Apostle Paul is loyal to that purpose, even when it means difficult conversations. He has written a letter of challenge and rebuke to the Corinthians previously and he aims to make clear that it because of his love for them and his commitment that that their joy of faith in Jesus grows, so that they are standing firm.

We see here that the Apostle Paul’s loyalty here mirrors God’s rather than human loyalty.


Our loyalty is often ‘blind’, so even when a person is drifting or not standing firm in their faith, we back them, no matter what.

God’s loyalty is not about blind backing, but a clear eyed faithfulness to our good…standing firm in Jesus.


That impacts Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians. He is sincerely loyal to their joy of faith. He is committed to their standing firm in Jesus.

When was the last time you were willing to challenge a brother or sister because of a commitment to their joy in Christ Jesus?


When was the last time you were willing to receive and be changed by such a challenge? And was it a challenge driven by loyal love?

For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you. (2.4)

A prayer for today

A prayer of thanksgiving - O Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, we bless you for your leading, refreshment, guidance, comfort, goodness and love. They are ours forever. 


2nd June 2020 - Bible Reading - 2 Corinthians 1

1 Corinthians 15.1-8 brings good news of four historical moments that shape every moment since, for every one of us.

1 Corinthians 15.3 ‘Christ died for your sins according to the scriptures’

The Jewish people were expecting Christ to come as a conquering king. What a scandal to find that the Christ was crucified - that he shed his blood for his enemies. The death of Christ brings forgiveness of sins. How precious that news remains for the moments in life we wish we could take back.

1 Corinthians 15.4 ‘He was buried’

That is the simple news ofChristianity. It was a literal death - complete. The moment of burial is the moment of goodbye. It is the moment when there is nothing more to say...and yet there is!

1 Cor 15.4 ‘He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures’

Here is a weekend like no other:

Before sunset Friday Jesus breathes his last (Day 1).

He is brought down off the cross and laid in the tomb – sunset Friday to sunset Saturday (Day 2).

Yet, sometime before the women reach the tomb early Sunday morning, death starts to work backwards.

God raises his Son back to life, forever!

1 Corinthians 15.5-8 and now he appears, to many.

The book of Acts tells us that there was a 40 day period between Christ’s death and ascension to heaven. He appeared on many occasions to many people.

The news of the resurrection is based on evidence that demands careful investigation.

It is news that we can be forgiven. Unless we know how holy God is and how sinful we are, we will not grasp how timely that news is. There is no worse place to be than stuck in your sins in your last hour. There is no better news than this: because of Jesus’ resurrection we can be forgiven, forever.

It is the news that we can trust God’s promises. Because Jesus rose, because God did as he promised, where it matters most, with death, we at last have someone who is completely trustworthy. In him our trust is vindicated, even in the face of death, both his and indeed ours.

a prayer for today

A prayer for today: A prayer of thanksgiving - O Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, we bless you for your leading, refreshment, guidance, comfort, goodness and love. They are ours forever.