Adaptation without change

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

We do not give anyone an occasion for taking an offense in anything, so that no fault may be found with our ministry. 2 Corinthians 6.3

Paul was diligent in his effort to not stain his ministry after becoming an apostle. He adapted his message to his audience without changing the contents of the gospel. He would work at his trade when necessary and would preach full time when the funds were available.

He suffered many things in his efforts to work in the kingdom. In 2 Corinthians 6, he listed many of the things that he had suffered. The list was a long one. Many of the trials listed had happened to him more than once.

But he also mentioned things by which he had commended himself that were positive things, such as purity, knowledge, patience, benevolence, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful teaching and the power of God.

Living life as a Christian will never be a bed of roses. There will be times passed in the valleys where the difficulties will be keenly felt. However, there will also be highs on the mountaintop where one can see God working in the lives of others!

One needs to ask the question: how do I navigate the suffering in my own life? Do I suffer at all? Or do I give in to denial when my faith is challenged? In 1 Peter 4.12-16, the scriptures say that “if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name.”

#risingjoy #2-Corinthians #suffering

Where the Spirit is present

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3.17

The Jews did not accept Jesus. They still adhered to the Old Testament. There were men teaching that to be a Christian, you had to obey the old law as well.

Paul wrote comparing the two covenants. The old covenant was glorious. Moses covered his face, which shone, with a veil after coming from God’s presence. The old law, even though glorious, produced death, 3.7.

The new covenant under Christ is even more glorious because it produces righteousness, 3.9. God, Jesus and the Spirit are one. Where one is present, they are all present. When a person obeys Jesus, they receive the gift of the Spirit, Acts 2.38. That person also receives the presence of God and Jesus in their life, John 14.23.

At the same time that someone receives the Spirit, the Bible teaches that they are set free from the old law, Romans 8.1-2. You are set free from fear, 2 Timothy 1.7. You are set free from sin, Romans 6.18. You can proclaim with boldness the salvation that God has given to man.

Have you obeyed the Lord? Have you been set free?

#risingjoy #2-Corinthians #freedom

People who were generous

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Now we make known to you brothers and sisters, the grace of God given to the churches of Macedonia, that during a severe ordeal of suffering, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in the wealth of their generosity. For I testify, they gave according to their means and beyond their means. They did so voluntarily, … 2 Corinthians 8.1-3

I have met people in the past who were generous. They were always there to give when there was a need. If money was not in abundance, they would share what they did have. The culture that we adopted has taught me many things about helping others.

Paul had written to the church in Corinth. They had been enthusiastic about taking up an offering to send to those in need. They had made a good start, but somewhere along the way, the offering had not been completed. Several months, perhaps even a year, had passed and still, they had not completed the task.

Paul used the Christians in Macedonia as an example to the Corinthians. He wanted them to know of the voluntary offering made by the churches there. Even though they were suffering severely, they had been very generous in the offering they had made. It was not given grudgingly, but with abundant joy in the midst of extreme poverty. First, they had given themselves to the Lord. God’s grace was seen in their attitudes and actions. They begged to be able to help the saints!

Do we allow God’s grace to flow through us? Do we beg to be able to help others or do we turn our backs on brothers and sisters in need? Do we overflow in the wealth of our generosity or do we restrain from giving what we can, in case we need it? God will provide if we place his kingdom as our priority!

#risingjoy #2-Corinthians #generosity

If your lightbulb is working

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6.14

You arrive home after dark. You unlock your door and walk into your home. What is the first thing that you are likely to do? Turn on the light! After you turn on the light, do you see a room filled with light or dark? Well, as long as your lightbulb is still working, you will see a room that is lighted. Light and darkness do not exist side by side.

Yet, many people who profess to be Christians (light) try to exist side by side with people in the world (darkness). Paul writes to the Corinthians using several opposites that express this contrast vividly in chapter 6, verses 14-16: righteousness, lawlessness; light, darkness; Christ, Beliar; believer, unbeliever; God, idols. When we look at these terms, we see that they have nothing in common.

However, in life, we fail many times to give these partnerships the concern and caution that they require. So often, the Christian’s faith is weakened by the daily barrage of Satan’s darts and the soul is lost eternally because of the partnerships that were unwisely formed here on earth.

#risingjoy #2-Corinthians #light #righteousness

If we fail this test

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you – unless, indeed, you fail the test! 2 Corinthians 13.5

As a student in school, I disliked tests. They brought out feelings of insecurity and doubt. What if I do not do well enough on the test? What would others, my parents, my teachers, think of me? It put enormous pressure on me that was stressful. After the test, I would be overwhelmed either with a feeling of failure or relief depending on how I thought the test had gone.

In school the consequences for failing a test were disappointing. However, in the long run it might not make much of a difference on one’s future. There is a test that has grave consequences. If we do not pass, the results are eternal.

Paul tells the Corinthians to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith. If we fail this test the difference is between eternity in heaven and eternal punishment. What is the answer to the test? Jesus Christ must be living in me.

How do I know if that is so? Where do I find the key for the test? God gives us an open-book test. I can search out the answers in his holy word. Do you know what his word says? Do you read it daily? If not, why not start today?

#risingjoy #2-Corinthians #test

Ability to renew our minds

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4.16

All around us, there are signs of corruption, misuse of power, sickness, and sinful behavior. These situations are normal in a world that does not recognize God or recognizes him incorrectly. If we are waiting for the world to suddenly become righteous, we are fooling ourselves.

How should a Christian react to all of this? We should not despair. We need to refocus on what is important. The world has a need for the salvation that only Jesus can give to us. However, so many are unaware of this need. Perhaps they have never heard of the love that God has for them.

The Christian is no different from others in that our physical bodies are wearing away. The difference is in the fact that we have been born again through baptism and forgiven. We do not look for righteousness here. We are not citizens of this world. Our citizenship is in heaven.

Through God’s word, we have the ability and opportunity to renew our minds on a daily basis. Our inner person is renewed through reading and study of the Bible. There are so many who need this same experience. Despair is great in the world today. We have the answer. Are you sharing what you know? Are you sharing God’s love with others?

#risingjoy #2-Corinthians #renewal

Hand in the cookie jar

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Now I rejoice, not because you were made sad, but because you were made sad to the point of repentance. For you were made sad as God intended, so that you were not harmed in any way by us. For sadness as intended by God produces a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret, but worldly sadness brings about death. 2 Corinthians 7.9-10

Repentance is necessary. It is not just feeling sad because you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar. After all, when your mom leaves the room, you go for another cookie! It is a decision to change the direction in which you are headed. The decision to change your behavior to be in submission to God’s will. To be obedient to him.

When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, he had addressed several problems and sins that were occurring among the Christians in the church in Corinth. Now he is rejoicing because they had repented. Yes, his first letter had made many sad, but the end result had been a change of behavior on their part.

When someone comes to me to correct me in a behavior that is sinful and wrong, I must be willing to listen. It is a matter of salvation, my salvation. It might make me sad or even angry, but if I consider what is being said, I have the opportunity to change. That change is repentance! But the one who feels sadness alone without repentance brings about death. Sin will drive the person further away from God.

Sadness alone is not what God wants. He wants me to repent and change my actions without regret. For that is what leads me to salvation!

#risingjoy #2-Corinthians #repentance

The answer should be obvious

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Therefore “Come out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, and I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the All-Powerful Lord. 2 Corinthians 6.16-18

Many Christians are being reminded recently of a very simple truth. But it is a truth that I fear many of us had forgotten. The temple of God is not a building of brick and mortar. The temple of God is comprised of the people which make up the church which is the body of Christ.

Paul is asking a question for which the answer should be obvious. However, when we look at our lives and behaviors, we find that the answer is clouded and unclear for many people. Is there a moment when light and darkness mix? Not in the created world. Light always shines forth more brightly when it is present and dispels the dark. We cannot tolerate idols of any kind in our lives.

God has said that he will live in us and walk among us. But he calls us to be separate from the world and to strive for purity. We can not straddle a line with one foot in the world and one foot in the church. We are only deceiving ourselves into thinking it will be all right. We have to make a choice.

If we choose wisely, God will welcome us and be a father to us. The All-Powerful Lord will be our father!

#risingjoy #2-Corinthians #church

Sense of urgency

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Now because we are fellow workers, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation! 2 Corinthians 6.1,2

Do you feel the sense of urgency with which Paul writes these verses? In chapter 5.20, Paul talks about being an ambassador for Christ. The job of an ambassador is to represent his government in a foreign country. Paul writes that we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making his plea through us. What plea might that be? It is the plea for reconciliation. It is the plea for repentance. As a Christian I cannot sit on the fence and expect things to go well. I must roll up my sleeves and get into the trenches. We are at war on the spiritual level. So many people need the message and hope that we have to give. Are you sharing that message? Are you living that message? In chapter 6. 4-10 Paul tells of all that he and his companions have endured to not give an occasion for offending someone. I fear that many of us would turn our backs on the Lord if we had to go through half of what Paul had been through. In truth, the Corinthians were not responding as Paul had hoped to see them respond. Hence, he urges them not to receive God’s grace in vain. You see I can fall from that grace. When that happens, the urgency should kick in! Now is the time to obey in all that we do. For it’s a fact, tomorrow is not promised. I only have the present time. I only have now!

#risingjoy #2-Corinthians #urgency

Capable of doing his will

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Now we have such confidence in God through Christ. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as if it were coming from ourselves, but adequacy is from God, who made us adequate to be servants of a new covenant not based on the letter but on the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3.4-6

I can have confidence before God because of Jesus. It is through Jesus that I am reconciled to God. I had nothing to offer to God for him to save me. I was a sinner, stained and spotted with my many sins. I was weak perishing in my hopelessness. But, Jesus obeyed God and made it possible for me to be brought back to God’s presence. God is adequate. He is capable. He makes it possible for me to stand before him clean and pure. Jesus gives the example of what I must do: Obey God whatever the cost. He makes me capable of being his servant. We serve under the new covenant, the New Testament. Upon being baptized, I receive the gift of the Spirit living in me. It is the Spirit’s presence in me that makes me alive. What joy and, yes, relief to know that it does not depend upon my strength alone! God is my strength and he makes me capable of doing his will.

#risingjoy #confidence #2-Corinthians

Feel bogged down?

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3.18

Earlier in chapter 3 we read that Moses had to wear a veil when he returned from being with God. The Jews could not look at Moses’ face because of the glory that it reflected. That glory faded with time and the veil was no longer needed. However, the veil remained in place and can only be taken away in Christ. But, in Christ, our faces reflect the glory of the Lord and there is no veil needed to cover it. There is freedom where the Spirit of the Lord exists. Freedom from the old law, freedom from sin, freedom from being stagnant. Do you ever feel bogged down like you can’t go forward, that life is a burden that you are not able to carry? Jesus offers to give us rest from that burden, Matthew 11.28-30. We learn from Christ. In Christ who is the Spirit, we are being transformed into the same image. We are transformed from one degree of glory to another. It does not come from me, but comes from the reflection of Christ living in me through his Spirit. He does the transforming. All I do is cooperate by learning and obeying.

#risingjoy #2-Corinthians #glory

Lift focus beyond the mundane

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4.16

Paul has just been talking about the difficulties that he and his companions have been experiencing as a result of preaching the gospel. Many of us, actually most of us, will never have to go through what Paul is referring to. Our difficulties are truly light by comparison. But it is true that it is still a difficulty to me, perhaps not of the same caliber. Still just as real. Now that I think about it, these things were all external which is why their physical bodies were wearing away. I fear that today most of my struggles are internal, within my own mind. Could that say something about what I focus on? Paul and his co-workers were focusing on the preaching of Jesus. So often, what I focus on is living life. Here. Now. Perhaps that is the crux of the problem. Maybe I need to lift my focus higher to what is important and not so mundane. Paul’s inner person was being renewed daily. How can that be? Romans 12.2 also talks about renewal. It refers to the transformation that takes place by the renewing of my mind. That renewal can only come through God’s word. Spend time reading it, studying it, sharing it. Then my inner person will not only be transformed, but renewed.

#risingjoy #2-Corinthians #renewal

To be made new

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

What a blessing! To be made new! I do not have to be bound or held down by my past because in Christ I am new, clean, pure. There is nothing nor anyone anywhere in the world that can do for me what Christ has already done. He truly gives me a chance for a fresh start. An appropriate verse with which to start the year!

#newness #2-Corinthians #risingjoy

When God is in control

Meditate on this verse:

But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort that you experience in your patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer, 2 Corinthians 1.6.

Offer this prayer:

Father, I look at events according to how they hurt or benefit me. Show me how to see things differently. Let perspective take in how events promote your Kingdom. Make my difficulties and blessings benefit others in seeking your will.

Savor this thought:

All can be turned for good for the church of God when he is in control of our lives. How can I serve God’s purpose in my present situation?

Take this action:

Use what happens to you to benefit someone else. Make your experience build up someone in the faith. Remove focus from self to see how you can serve the church.

#most #2-Corinthians #perspective

You can read and understand, 2 Corinthians 1.13

“For we do not write you anything other than what you can read and also understand. But I hope that you will understand completely”.

2 Corinthians 1.13

Paul defends himself against accusations that he is being equivocal in his communications and, hence, dishonest. He appeals to his directness and clarity as proof.

Scripture can be understood. Those who apply themselves can know what it says, even though removed from the original setting. Am I throwing up barriers (excuses?) to comprehension?

#votd #2-Corinthians #perspicuity