Category Archives: Scripture quotes
Today marks the conclusion of the Fall Bible study, All Things New by Kelly Minter. I hope you have enjoyed this in-depth look at 2 Corinthians. I also hope that you have discovered more about yourself and your relationship with Jesus Christ through all you have learned. Our theme verse for the study was 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV); “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” All of the posts pertaining to this study as well as past studies are available for your use at any time under the Bible Studies Archive tab.
“… I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. The things that make an apostle – signs, wonders and miracles- were done among you with great perseverance. How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!” Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? ” 2 Corinthians 12:11-15
During the early days of the church, signs, miracles, and wonders were proofs that the disciples had been given spiritual authority by God. Some of the people of Corinth still had difficulty believing Paul despite all of the supernatural work he had done before them. They turned to others that Paul called super-apostles because they felt these other men were better equipped than Paul. These super-apostles made demands upon them that Paul didn’t make. Our questions on Day 1 of our lesson were focused on discovering the true proof of Paul’s and of our faith and discipleship. In our cross- reference passages, we learned that the true proof is love. The remaining personal reflection and response questions dealt with one of the chief complaints of the Corinthians which was that Paul wasn’t accepting financial support from them. The questions we answered concerned various aspects, barriers, and difficulties of sharing love and friendship with others.
“Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be….” 2 Corinthians 12:19,20a
In our lesson on Day 2, we considered the four fears that Paul had concerning his upcoming visit to the Corinthian church. We also listed the eight sinful behaviors that Paul highlighted in his letter to them. We answered and reflected on these sins and fears as part of our personal questions for this day.
“This will be my third visit to you….On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you.” 2 Corinthians 13:1-4
Our lesson on Day 3 led us to ponder the proof of Christ in our lives. Paul took his time in dealing out judgment among those who were sinning in the church. We reflected on the problems he handled in Corinth and if we,too, are slow to judge and patient to confront in love. We considered how God uses our weaknesses to show His strength in our lives rather than our own strength. We were also led to consider if we perceive God’s favor of blessings, particularly materialistic ones, as evidence of His love and favor on us.
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection. This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority – the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.” 2 Corinthians 13:5-10
We were challenged to examine our faith during our lesson on Day 4. We reflected on the desires of our hearts, our spiritual passions, what motivates our actions and our prayers as well as our love for others. We also answered questions about the Corinthians and their spiritual condition.
“…Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal,, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:11-14
Kelly Minter writes in our lesson on Day 5; “2 Corinthians was written to real people in a real city because the gospel is meant to thrive in real life. My prayer is that what we’ve learned along the way will not be mere academic knowledge but will be put into practice.” I couldn’t state the importance of bible study any better. The information is meant to be applied and lived out. The five imperatives that we listed in our lesson challenge us to live vibrant, active, maturing, faith-filled lives as brothers and sisters in Christ. We examined ourselves and our relationships based on these 5 commands during this lesson. May our lives be distinguished by the grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for joining me on this journey through Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth.
On social media these days, not a day passes that someone doesn’t post how they have received insight from God either through prayer or through reading the Bible. These revelations by others can sometimes send us reeling with feelings of unworthiness, inferiority, and even frustration. We feel unworthy because God hasn’t chosen to reveal something extra special only to us. We feel inferior because others appear to have received something we must not be important enough to have. And perhaps secretly, we feel frustration because we can’t or won’t admit even to ourselves that God hasn’t really communicated with us in a really long time. We become discouraged and depressed because EVERYONE ELSE appears to have their life pulled together and God is in the house rocking their spiritual lives. Can I get a hallelujah, amen?!
So what are we to do?
If you are like me, you decide to immerse yourself in acts of service or you pray harder or you begin to read copious amounts of scripture because you know that is what a spiritual person should do. After all, the more I do for God, the more He definitely will listen. This concept is unscriptural. We aren’t saved by works, people. We are saved by grace, through Jesus Christ alone.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9 New International Version
I’ve found, when our heavenly conduit falls silent, several reasons contribute to why we don’t hear from God. Although said many times, the truth is sin keeps us from hearing or feeling God’s direction in our lives. In the movie Serenity, when responding to the question of what his sin was, Captain Malcolm Reynolds responds “Ah Hell… I’m a fan of all seven.” I personally rather like pride, sloth, and hey – gluttony is not bad either. In fact by my actions at times, I shamefully show that I’m a fan of all seven of the deadly sins. But I know that repentance and confession are like Drano in the conduit pipe to God. We’ve got to remove all of the junk in order to obtain the guidance, direction, or insight we seek.
“So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to – the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, and you must put on the new self, which is created in God’s likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy. No more lying, then! Each of you must tell the truth to the other believer, because we are all members together in the body of Christ. If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day. Don’t give the Devil a chance. If you used to rob, you must stop robbing and start working, in order to earn an honest living for yourself and to be able to help the poor. Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. And do not make God’s Holy Spirit sad; for the Spirit is God’s mark of ownership on you, a guarantee that the Day will come when God will set you free. Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.” Ephesians 4:22-32 Good News Translation
Another barrier to being receptive to God’s urging is not listening. This barrier is the quickest to correct. Two words. Slow. Down. During prayer and scripture reading time, pause and take time to listen, just a minute won’t do. To approach God in that way is like a kid rushing home from school, throwing his backpack on the counter with a “Hi Mom!,” and then headed out the door to play. Mom is left dazed and wondering about the day. God wants some time with us. An occasional order at God’s fast food counter is okay, but He really wants you to have a home cooked meal of time with Him.
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9 New International Version
The last and maybe my favorite of why we don’t hear from God is because He Already Told Us And We Aren’t Doing It. Always the perfect parent who gives a direction once and expects it to be carried out, God tells us what to do. Period. And He expects us to do it. We can’t still continue wondering about what to do or whining for Him to answer. The proverbial neon sign rarely appears blinking with the instructions previously given. God, in His grace and mercy, might tenderly remind us once or twice but after that silence often comes. He already told you. So, after you have double checked the first two barriers, consider the third. Did God already give you a direction? Are you stalling? Wallowing? Do the thing He last told you to do until you have direction for the next.