Tag Archives: 2 Corinthians

Exodus 16; Luke 19; Job 34; 2 Corinthians 4

For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, “who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

2 Corinthians 4 is a warm Spring breeze blowing through the open window of a house that has been closed up for the winter. It brings life and renewal, song and sunlight. There’s a new fragrance coming into the house that pushes away the stale air.

This gospel is not about me; it’s not about me clenching my jaw and willing myself to be good enough, effective enough and (the Lord knows) busy enough. This gospel is about Him and his goodness, his love. The gospel transforms the humble and broken; it brings them to life:  life in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I can breathe again.

Here’s my manna from heaven, what feeds my soul: God has deposited within me this eternal weight of glory. It is not of my making nor because I deserve it. It is God’s idea and by his good grace that he invites me to put aside my sorry attempts at self righteousness to be dressed in the very glory of his Son.

For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.

It’s been the Father’s desire that his people know and enjoy this glory throughout history. He wants us to know and enjoy the peace that only He can provide. In Exodus, God longs for the Israelites to be satisfied, but too often, like me they insist on having their way and refuse his command to honor his provision (they gather too much or too little manna) and don’t embrace his Sabbath rest. This human rebellion grieves Jesus so deeply that he weeps over Jerusalem saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace!” Luke 19:42.  And then he enters the very city and ministers to those of us who are so insistent on our not needing him; we end up crucifying him.

But anything I throw at Christ has been conquered by his love for me. This is the love that breaks the power of sin and death over me. This is my eternal weight of glory.   When I accept his love for me and rest in it, I am changed. The peace that he longs for me to possess is mine.

O Lord, may I respond to your transforming love with a full and grateful heart. Help me to recognize on this day the things that make for peace. Thank you for your love and kindness towards me, an undeserving sinner who rejected you. But here I am, and you call me yours. You are my glory and joy forever.  Amen

Kathy

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2 Kings 22-23; Psalm 73; 2 Corinthians 5

23But I am always with you.

You have held my hand.

24You guide me with your advice.

And later you will receive me in honor.

25I have no one in heaven but you.

I want nothing on earth besides you.

26My mind and my body may become weak.

But God is my strength.

He is mine forever.

27Those who are far from God will die.

You destroy those who are unfaithful.

28But I am close to God, and that is good.

The Lord God is my protection.

I will tell all that you have done. Psalm 73:23-28

I’m going to be completely honest. I’m really struggling right now. My life is in a tough spot and the situation is less than ideal for our family. The physical and emotional toll that having our family separated and strewn across the world is frustrating and difficult for all of us.

On the surface, to the ones looking into the window of our life, the answers seem simple and no brainer. Without understanding the nuances of our circumstances, judgements are made, advice is given. The pressure of so many expectations and the stress of not living up to any of them has got me second guessing almost everything.

Except for God.

It doesn’t matter that I can’t see God with my natural eyes, I trust that He is there guiding my steps, holding me by the hand in the journey, in the ups and downs, in the struggle. He’s the still small voice that leads me in my walk, encouraging me to keep up the good fight no matter how difficult it is.

My mind and body feel weak, exhausted from not sleeping well for way too many nights in a row, having too much on my shoulders that drains the life out of me, and not experiencing enough moments of joy.

But God is my strength. He protects me. He provides for me, He gives me rest and peace.

The key is remembering, in the hard moments, to crawl up on His lap, nestle into His arms, and stay close to His heart.

Yesappa, I need a hug today. I need You extra close today. I need Your strength. I need Your love. I need Your grace. And, I need an extra measure of peace today. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Blessings – Julie

 

International Children’s Bible, Copyright © 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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2 Chronicles 34-35; 2 Corinthians 6

Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us,

I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times…

Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! 2 Corinthians 6:1-13


Josiah celebrated the Passover to God in Jerusalem. They killed the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the first month. He gave the priests detailed instructions and encouraged them in the work of leading worship in The Temple of God. He also told the Levites who were in charge of teaching and guiding Israel in all matters of worship (they were especially consecrated for this), “Place the sacred Chest in The Temple that Solomon son of David, the king of Israel, built. You don’t have to carry it around on your shoulders any longer! Serve God and God’s people Israel. Organize yourselves by families for your respective responsibilities, following the instructions left by David king of Israel and Solomon his son. 2 Chronicles 35:1-4

Both of these passages speak “encouragement” to me. The dictionary explains “encouragement” to mean to inspire and motivate the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain…and even change.

Sometimes encouragement is a boosting of the spirits, simply offering hope and reassuring that everything will be okay. Sometimes encouragement is supporting a friend in their journey, emboldening them for the tasks that they must endure to prove successful in the midst of a difficult circumstance. And, sometimes encouragement comes in the form of a challenge, a call to do better and to make better choices.

Encouragement is such an important part of relationship. I greatly value the people in my life who stand with me through the thick and thin, who offer reassurance when I am feeling defeated by life, reinforcement when I am feeling alone, and inspiration to face the things that need to change in my heart.

God is the ultimate encourager. When I am tuned to His voice, His heart, I can hear His words which lift my spirit up, I can see how He moves in my life to provide and care for me, and I can experience His love, grace, and mercy. I also can hear His call to discipline, confronting my sin and motivating me to rely on Him to make the changes He reveals.

Yesappa, Thank You for being my encourager, for always standing with me and behind me no matter the situation. Thank You for lifting my spirits, for reassuring me and giving me hope in the present and for the future. Thank You for daring me to be a better version of myself, the “me” that you already see. Thank You for putting people in my life who are an encouragement. Help me be an encouragement to others as well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie

 

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, 2 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament

Ecclesiastes 10, 11, 12; 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 2 Corinthians 11:23-30

As a believer living in a country that still allows religious freedom, I know that I am blessed to be able to attend worship services, pray for people in public, carry my Bible (on my phone), listen to Christian music on the radio, etc. I know that I can do all of those things to worship and serve my God without fearing for my life.

I also know, that before I began spending time in a country that doesn’t offer the same freedoms, I didn’t really even think, other than peripherally, about the persecuted church. I never quite understood having to hide my faith or having my life threatened for standing up for my belief in Christ.

I am always amazed by the stories of persecution that I hear from the native missionaries and pastors that my husband and I work with in India. And, I am amazed by their strength, found in Jesus, to carry on and make a stand in the face of death.

Some stories of persecution are horrific; the outcome is martyrdom, told by survivors. They are stories of stabbings on the street side, beatings, being held hostage in their home only to be burned to death. But many stories become testimonies to God never-failing mercy.

One story hit close to home for me. Many years ago, my husband experienced one of these life or death situations. As he preached the Gospel in a remote village, some Hindu extremists threatened him, told him to leave their village and never come back. They never gave him the chance to stay away as they began trying to beat the life out of him. They smashed his face in and battered his body; then left him for dead. A good ‘Samaritan’ took him to the hospital, where by God’s grace his body healed and he was able to continue being a witness from his bed and eventually go back into the villages to share the stories of Jesus’ sacrifice, despite the threats that are continually issued by deceived men.

Another story gives me courage every time I go into a village to share the message of hope. Native missionaries, Ambika and Susilla, in their old age, would go into the villages every day to conduct children’s ministry and pray for the people. One day as they were walking from one area to another, a drunken man accosted them. He began screaming at them, threatening their lives with a machete. All of their faith was in their Lord and Savior; they stood strong in Christ and told the man that they would never stop telling people about, even if he killed them. He was even more angered that they were not daunted by his threats and lunged at them. God’s hand protected them, and when he came nearer to them, his whole demeanor instantly changed. He lowered the blade and was sobered. Instead of killing them, he instead asked them to pray for him.

Just like Paul, there are countless Christians who are continually faced with making the choice between their lives and their faith. Those believers who stand in steadfast regardless of the consequence are testaments to the goodness of God and the strength that He offers in times of need.

Yesappa, Thank You for always being there, by my side; for giving me strength when I am weak. Thank You for offering courage, for supplying protection for my spirit. Help me stand strong for You and the sacrifice that You made for me, in the face of persecution as the end days draw nearer and nearer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Ecclesiastes 7-9: 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

I like to think about things that take my breath away: people I am absolutely in love with, nights so clear that I can see the Milky Way, sitting in the middle of a live orchestra performance when the music invites my heart to well up inside of me… What I have a hard time believing is that God shares similar emotions and thoughts towards me. Do I really bring that kind of joy to the heart of God? The answer is yes. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that God is describes himself as jealous and Paul is quick to follow:

” I am jealous for you you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” 2 Corinthians 11:2.

Paul speaks of his godly jealousy. I like how John Addison, the English poet defines jealousy, “Jealousy is that pain which a man feels from the apprehension that he is not equally beloved by the person whom he loves entirely.” Paul’s jealousy does not come from a place of insecurity or neediness; it comes from a place of unbridled passion and love, the heart of God. It’s the kind of jealousy a man feels towards a wife who has turned away from him. They belong together in life, not apart.  I think that there is another component to godly jealousy. It’s  parental; we hate to see our children go in directions that rob them of joy and suck the life from them.

So why is it that I can so easily be distracted from following the one who loves me so fiercely? The one who has pursued me and given his life for me?

Lord I want to love you as you love me. Make me like that love song so that “I only have eyes for you.”

Klueh

 

 

 

 

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Proverbs 23, 24; 2 Corinthians 5

Apply your heart to instruction

and your ear to words of knowledge.

Do not withhold discipline from a child;

if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.

If you strike him with the rod,

you will save his soul from Sheol.

My son, if your heart is wise,

my heart too will be glad. Proverbs 23:12-15

A couple of months ago, I experienced a number of people evaluating my parenting style, while visiting at their respective houses. In each case, they mentioned the adage, “spare the rod, spoil the child.” Though this saying isn’t a direct quote from the Bible, it is taken from a few verses of Proverbs, the above being one of them.

I always wondered about this subject, especially since becoming the parent to two very head-strong girls, as the concept of God ‘striking’ me into submission for the sake of discipline has never been what I had personally experienced in my relationship with Him. In fact, in my own childhood, I can say that when I was spanked in the name of discipline, what I learned was how to evade the punishment, rather than to avoid the misdeed.

Discipline is important to success in life. When I used to hear the word, the connotation that I associated with it was always related to punishment and spanking. But when I looked more deeply into the meaning, punishment is only a small part of it; more often the word ‘discipline’ means to correct or train through an activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves knowledge, skill, self-control, etc.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5

For me, discipline is about training or correction that brings about reconciliation and an environment for learning, more than punishments that produce fear. When God disciplines me, He doesn’t spank me, He shows me His heart. When I see the part of His heart that is hurting because of my less-than-stellar choice, I better understand the effects of my choice and with wisdom and guidance through His love, I am able to make the necessary changes in my life decisions; I am able to repent and be forgiven. There may still be consequences that I have to experience in the natural, but the process helps me to learn and brings us back together in connection.

By wisdom a house is built,

and by understanding it is established;

by knowledge the rooms are filled

with all precious and pleasant riches.

A wise man is full of strength,

and a man of knowledge enhances his might,

for by wise guidance you can wage your war,

and in abundance of counselors there is victory. Proverbs 24:3-6

I believe that my children were given to me to steward, to teach, to discipline, to nurture, and to love; it is my job as a parent to best represent God while raising them, so that they can understand a small piece of who He is and manifest that in their lives as they continue into adulthood. Just as I need wisdom, understanding, and knowledge – discipline – to be victorious, my children need it all too.

I have to decide in each moment of parenting: Will I show them self-control or a lack of restraint? Will I show them God’s truth or my frustration? Will I show them love or give them something to fear? Will I build them up or tear them down?

Parenting is hard, and I know that along the way, I am going to get it ‘wrong.’ There will be times that I am too lax in the eyes of others; there will be times when I am too overwhelmed to catch every bad choice that my children make. There will be times that I lose my temper and show my children my exasperation; there will be times that I react aggressively and scare them into obedience.

That being said, my ultimate goal is to show them a heart of love, to maintain connection, to experience right relationship, and demonstrate how to make good choices in life that protect those things, the way that God shows the same to me.

Yesappa, help me understand Your heart better as I walk through this journey of parenting. Shape my heart to be more like Yours. Show me how to keep my love on in every situation with my children, not only in the joyful times, but most importantly, in the moments that call for discipline. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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2 Samuel 20; 2 Corinthians 13; Ezekiel 27; Psalms 75, 76

Look closely at yourselves. Test yourselves to see if you are living in the faith. You know that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you fail the test. (NCV)

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (NKJV)

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. (NLT)

Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected? (AMP)

Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. (MSG)

2 Corinthians 13:5

When Christ shed his blood on the cross, He created the path for redemption. And when I heard and believed the Good News, He renewed me, heart, mind, and soul, and took up residence in me.

I know this. I believe this. And yet some most days, when I am struggling with loneliness, or anger, or bitterness and resentment, or exhaustion, or a lack of patience, or a bad attitude, or whatever else I am getting ‘poked’ with on any given day, I question myself. I question my faith. I wonder if there is any good fruit in me.

I used to burn with passion for God, attending every prayer meeting and worship time that was available to me, even the all-nighters. I was on fire. I wanted to experience His love and give it away to everyone I met. I basked in His glory and worshipped and danced with all my might like David. I never questioned my faith; I never doubted my fruit.

Fast forward a few years, and now I just feel burned out by life. Five years as a missionary (in the field and on furlough), almost four years as a wife, and just about three years as a mother has taken its toll on me. I give and give and give, and yet I realize I am giving from the dregs of a nearly empty tank.

When I look within, I see Him there and the desire to walk with Him, and talk with Him rises up in my heart. I intend to spend time with Him, to strengthen our relationship, to worship, to pray, to read His Words…to reconnect…to refuel. Just as soon as I have a second to myself, a moment when a little someone isn’t screaming, or crying, or tugging on my leg to hurry up and get an I.want.Right.NOW.

And then I get a piece of time, a few precious moments to myself, and often, instead of relaxing in my Savior’s presence, enjoying, savoring His goodness, His splendor…I plug into a computer game or YouTube videos of “some country’s” Got Talent. I get caught up in the wasteland of needless information.

Today, once more, I examined myself, my faith, and I recognize that though I am in a different season, I have not failed, even when sometimes I stumble. In the midst of my struggles, I look to my Heavenly Father. I choose to rely on Holy Spirit for help and for comfort. And, though I may zone out in front of the computer at times to ‘escape’, I still spend time with Jesus each day.

My time with Him is no longer stretches of ‘alone’ time reading the Word and praying. My time with Him is much sweeter in a way, because it is time I share with my children too. And the fruit that comes from this time spent together is fruit that in the future will be multiplied 100 fold.

Yesappa, thank You for Your grace upon me, upon my life. Thank You for meeting me right where I am. Keep walking with me; be unrelenting in Your pursuit of me. Keep drawing me closer to You especially in the midst of life, of motherhood. Help me teach my children about You as we spend time together with You. Help me be solid in the faith regardless of the different seasons I go through. Help me to always remember that You are with me and that You will never leave me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The earth with all its people may shake,

but I am the one who holds it steady. Selah

Psalm 75:3 (NCV)

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

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