Category

REAP

2 Corinthians 6

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As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.

2 Corinthians 6:1

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This is a peculiar expression by Paul, but he was highlighting the tendency for Christians to do what Bonhoeffer called ‘cheap grace’. Where we take the Lord’s forgiveness at every cost to him but not laying any of our life down in response.

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How can we avoid falling into the trap of cheap grace today, ensuring that we respond to the forgiveness of God with repentance and faith?

Pray//

Jesus, teach me not to take your grace for granted, but lead me to respond to your sacrifice for me with the laying down of my wants, selfishness and priorities for you. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Corinthians 5

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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.

2 Corinthians 5:20

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Paul uses a term here that carried potency in the ancient world, and still does today – he refers to believers as ambassadors. Ambassadors are traditionally those representing a larger party, they represent the larger party’s interests and agenda. More than that, ambassadors are the physical representation of the ‘country’ or party to others. Others will see, know and learn of the country through the ambassador. This is what Paul says our role is for the kingdom of God. What is the agenda we are carrying? That of reconciliation. An agenda which priorities the restoration of man’s relationship with God.

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I love the word ‘implore’, it is such a powerful word and yet so often absent from the way I treat my role as ambassador for the kingdom of God. I don’t often feel the need to ‘implore’ others to be reconciled to God. But if reconciliation has literally rescued me from death to life, how can we not seek to implore all to be reconciled to God. How can I take my role as ambassador more seriously?

Pray//

Father teach me to be an effective and faitfhul ambassador for the kingdom of God. Teach me how to feel the importance of the ministry of reconciliation. Holy SPirit, lead me in this ministry for your glory!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Corinthians 4

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16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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Paul finishes chapter four with a powerful encouragement to know that whatever trouble we go through, it pales in comparison to the hope we have in out eternal glory! When reading this, we can think Paul musn’t have known much suffering. How wrong this is! David Guzik supplies a list of what Paul went through (quotes from pauls own words):
· Stripes· Prisons· Beaten· Stoned· Shipwrecked· Perils of waters· Robbers· In perils of my own countrymen· In perils of the Gentiles· In perils in the city· In perils in the wilderness· In perils in the sea· In perils among false brethren· In weariness and toil· In sleeplessness often· In hunger and thirst· In fastings often· In cold and nakedness

Paul doesn’t write as one unfamiliar with pain, but one who is well acquainted with it. However, when he places his suffering on a scale then he places his eternal hope and glory we have in the coming kingdom of Jesus….the future outweighs the present suffering enormously.

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Why don’t we feel this in our day to day? Because we have a weak theology of our future hope. What do you believe is the future hope promised to all those who remain faithful til the end? So much of how we act in the present is defined by what we believed about our future. We have a God who promises our suffering is not the end of the story, no, what lays before us is far greater than anything which lays behind.

Pray//

Jesus, remind me of the future promise you have in store for all those that believe. Refill my heart with the image of what our future glory will be like if we put our faith and trust in you. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Corinthians 3

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17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18

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This section of Corinthians contains a famous verse pertaining to the freedom available to Christians. But what does that actually mean. If you read the rest of the chapter it speaks about how Moses’ encounter with the glory of God transforms him because he had access to the father. When he was in the presence of God there was a freedom both for him to access the presence of God and to be transformed by it. But when he came down from the mountain he was not able to show this to others because only he had the freedom of this access and experience. However, because of the cross and the gift of the Holy Spirit we now all have access to the presence of God, to behold his glory and to experience freedom of genuinely allowing his love transform us and welcoming the world to observe and participate in it as well. We now have the freedom to be transformed by what we have the freedom to behold wherever we are.

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If you as a Christian believe that you carry the power and presence of the Holy SPirit with you wherever you are, then you have the freedom to access that presence whenever you want, but more than that. You don’t have to go to a geographic location to be transformed but you have the freedom to access the glory and power of God wherever you set your feet. What you daily choose to behold will be what you are daily transformed by.

Pray//

Holy Spirit, teach us to behold your glory. To dwell in your presence, to wait upon you and freely access the power of your presence with us every day. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Corinthians 2

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10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11

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Paul finishes the exhortation to forgive with a really poignant observation and remark, that when we forgive we work AGAINST the plans of Satan. He insinuates that unforgiveness plays into the hands of darkness and is apart of deception which lies at the heart of Satan’s schemes. This challenges the Christian to understand that personal feelings, motives, and agendas are not the only thing at play when we choose not to forgive. We are actually allowing the kingdom of darkness to take a foothold in our world.

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By the power of the cross of Jesus Christ, we can give the very forgiveness that we have received. We can bestow on others the very power of transformation we have experienced. But when this is hard or difficult when it seems impossible, we don’t have to be overwhelmed with despair that the enemy is winning, we just return to the cross and ask for Christ to reveal to us again the depth of his forgiveness to us that we might extend it to others.

Pray//

Jesus, reveal to us those we have yet to forgive, that we may – by your power- forgive them and outwit the schemes and plans of the devil.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Corinthians 1

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For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

2 Cor 1:20

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Paul here clarifies to the believers in Corinth that they can claim and hold on to the faithfulness of God’s character by trusting that Jesus is the fulfilment and evidence of the faithfulness of God and His promises. Every believer can come to God and claim the promises that are theirs now in Christ Jesus. John Piper says it like this:

‘Every sinner who comes to God in Christ, with all his needs, finds God coming to him in Christ, with all his promises. When a sinful person meets the holy God IN CHRIST, what he hears is YES. Do you love me? YES. Will you forgive me? YES. Will you accept me? YES. YES. Will you help me change? YES. Will you give me power to serve you? YES. Will you keep me? YES. Will you show me your glory? YES.’

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I have often found it difficult to claim the promises of God over my life and for my life. Often it’s because I don’t think about them very often. But each of God’s promises find their yes in Jesus, our response must be ‘amen’ or ‘let it be’. When we respond in this way we are declaring our faith and belief that God can and should be taken at his word.

Pray//

Jesus, teach me what it means to find my hope in the fulfilled promises that find their yes in you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Corinthians 16

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13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.

1 Cor 16:13-14

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What powerful words by Paul as he finishes his letter to the Corinthians. Here he lists 5 things which are pieces of powerful encouragement to the believer. Be on your guard against those that would seek to instill wrong teach, against spiritual forces and against the doubt filled, distracting and discouraging work of the devil. Stand firm in the faith that you received from Christ Jesus, build your house on the rock of God’s truth that no matter how hard the storm you will not be shaken. Be courageous in the face of fear, courage is not the absence of fear it is the action we take in spite of it. Be strong, and when you are weak rest in the strength of the one who holds you. And finally, do not let this world make you hard, but DO EVERYTHING in love. I love these two verses, it is a powerful reminder to every Christian about the reality we face but the way we can and must live in spite of the darkness around us.

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Looking over these five pieces of encouragement, which one strikes you as most needed in your world today? Which is your greatest struggle? Spend some time asking God to help you and be your strength in your time of weakness.

Pray//

Jesus, thankyou for the encouragement of your word. COntinue to breath new and fresh life into me for your glory!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Corinthians 15

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54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[h]

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Cor 15:54-58

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Paul writes here an encouragement, after talking about the centrality to the bodily ressurection of Jesus he begins to discuss the bodily resurrection of the believers. Every single person will receive a new body, where the stain and touch of sin and death will no longer be present. Whilst the sting of death and can still be felt, we hold on to the now but not yet victory we claim in Jesus – that one day there will be no more pain and suffering, we have this hope that the presence of sickness, death and suffering is just the reminder that God is not finished yet.

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What we believe about our future will define how we choose to live in the present. Where we believe we are heading will define how we live out our immediate life. This is why we must keep our future hope of the resurrection central to our belief, it means we wade through suffering with the knowledge and joy that this will not be our end, that God is not finished yet. Where do you place your hope today?\

Pray//

Jesus, continually remind me of the way in which you have given us a future hope that the suffering in this world cannot take away, Lord we love you and need you to remind us of your finished work on the cross every day! Thankyou for the power and message of the resurrection and empty tomb!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Corinthians 14

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39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way

1 Cor 14:39-40

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Paul here adamantly states that we should not be afraid of spiritual gifts, particularly those that may be different or seem ‘weird’. However, we should always be aware that God is not hoping to bring confusion or hurt when spiritual gifts are being utilised in the body of Christ. Spiritual Gifts are used for the building up of the Church, not dividing it and causing offense. Therefore it is the responsibility of the Christian to seek the gifts of the spirit to take part in the building up of the believers, but also to make sure that the application of these gifts follow biblical and Godly wisdom as to ensure that they are done in a ‘fitting and orderly way’.

Apply //

Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? God wants to utilise each and every Christian to build up the body of Christ for the glory of God. When we learn our spiritual gifts it can be scary to know what to do next, the best thing is to study their references in the bible and fine someone to give us wisdom and experience with how we are best to operate in them. Everyone has a place to serve, build up and love the body of Christ, do you know how God has gifted you?

Pray//

Holy Spirit, thankyou for the gifts which you have entrusted to each of us. Continue to guide, shape and mould how I use these gifts that the body of Christ might be a edified because of them

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Corinthians 13

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If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

1 Cor 13:!-3

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In a moment where the church community had reach high dysfunction in the city of Corinth, in particular with their understanding of spiritual gifts, Paul writes the precursor to one of the most used passages of scriptures in weddings. However the love that Paul describes in this chapter was not aimed to be a romantic declaration but rather a clarification around what is the most essential strategy, central motivation, of the Christian life. If we do many great things, if we serve, give and pray but we do not have love we are missing one of the most essential ingredients of the character of God desperately needed by the world. The chapter finishes with a powerful declaration that faith, hope and love remain as the highest virtues and pillars of the Christian lifestyle. But when Jesus returns we will not need faith, for we will see and know him, we will not need hope for it will have been fulfilled, but we will always need love.

Apply //

How often in our own lives is it easy for us to operate and do day to day menial tasks without love. The problem with it is these tasks are having no positive eternal effect on our souls nor those around us. Love is the key to a flourishing relationship with God, and a catalytic relationship with man. Spend time reading through verse 4-7, what part of these attributes do you struggle to reflect in the way you love?

 

Pray//

Jesus, I can only love because I have first been loved. IN moments of trial and hardship teach my heart how not only to love and serve you but also to love and serve those around me. Let me taste your love afresh that I might be a conduit for it to the world.