The Corinthian church had been distracted by an unbelieving group among them from an important part of worship. They had responded well to Paul's correction in his first letter. In 2 Corinthians, he has continued to explain what growing Christians do.
2 Corinthians 8:7-8 discusses the position of a believer. As they are grown by grace, they will exhibit a series of virtues, of which giving is the last that Paul lists. These virtues work together and are only the result of God's work. Paul compliments the Corinthians and assumes they will keep growing.
It is easy to forget that the Church exists for Christ and His mission. Jesus said, "Freely you received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8). The nature of grace is free and generous, and so should be its influence in our lives.
On Memorial Day, we often hear the phrase, “All gave some; some gave all.” Scripture also says that the greatest love that can be shown is giving one’s life for another (John 15:13). The ultimate example of this is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf.
What is invaluable to you? Usually the greatest blessings in our life are given to us without being earned or deserved. As treasured as some possessions are to us, no material gift can change a heart and mind forever. This is something that God's grace does, and only it can do.
Healthy relationships are vital for the progress of the Gospel. Christian relationships in the church are founded and grown by grace. 2 Corinthians 7 is a practical chapter about how we get along in the church. We don’t get along without the supernatural work of grace – a personal relationship with Christ and growing in Christ-likeness.
Too many pastors have been measured by worldly standards of success in this past year in the midst of all the distractions life and culture have brought our way. The real measure of successful ministry is what the all-powerful grace of God is doing in people's lives. Only Jesus Christ can transform a life so completely.
No one enjoys growing pains, but most would rather have pain than not be growing. The Bible repeatedly tells us that painful times are divinely appointed for our growth. As we go through these times, God’s grace is an unlimited available resource we can utilize in every natural rhythm of life. God’s grace saves us and continues to compel us to grow in our Christian walk.
We're taking a break from our series on 2 Corinthians for a few weeks to study Titus 3:1-11. This passage will be our ultimate focus; but first, we need to know the context of the whole book.
Paul's discussion of ministry with integrity permeates 2 Corinthians through chapter 7. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 can be divided into 5 sections which we will study over a couple weeks.
2 Corinthians 3:4-6 compares a life lived under the Law with a life lived under grace. Paul knew the Corinthians had begun to lose their Gospel influence when they began embracing the false message of the Judaizers. The Law, even though divinely given, could not transform a person. No standard can change a heart. Its splendor is to convict.
The best way to protect the church from religious racketeers is to compare the nature and practice of the false and genuine.
The word "suffering" appears 16 times in the book of 1 Peter. The recipients of the letter came from different backgrounds and were facing the difficulty of persecution. Peter emphasizes God's grace as the only thing that helps in such times. It helps us stand firm and endure (1 Peter 5:12).
In our American church context, we are all wealthy compared to the rest of the world. So there is much for us to learn from Solomon's wisdom for wealthy people in this section of Ecclesiastes.
Solomon's examination of the apparent anomalies and contradictions that confront our lives every day continues in Ecclesiastes 4. Walter Kaiser describes the progression of thought from chapter 3 to chapter 4 as follows:
We have divided the third chapter of Ecclesiastes into 3 sections.
This week, we will examine several plain truths to apply God's wisdom to our lives.
In every period of time, God gives His people time to stop, worship, and celebrate. Nehemiah 8:1-12 shows one of those occasions. The nation of Israel was back from exile, rebuilding Jerusalem, and celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. Scholars tell us the book of Ecclesiastes was usually read publicly at this festival. Nehemiah's admonition to the people to rejoice, not grieve, is a similar message to Solomon's. The best way to enjoy life is to enjoy it with God, by living according to His Word. Conviction should be a quick work, with grace then bringing joy.
As a child, were you fascinated by small wonders like lightning bugs? G.K. Chesterton said, "What is wonderful about childhood is that anything in it was a wonder. It was not merely a world full of miracles; it was a miraculous world.”
As Christians, God has placed us in a miraculous world of wonder. He calls it Christ's body, the church. As we move into the practical portion of the book, Romans 12:3-8 gives us the first practical aspect of our salvation.
We live in the most informed generation possibly of all time. We have an enormous amount of information available to us, whether it is legitimate or not. Thomas Jefferson used the phrase "knowledge is power" in his letters at least four times, each time regarding the establishment of a state university in Virginia. He also believed in the power of knowledge to bring safety and happiness.
Despite the amount of knowledge acquired by all generations leading to ours, we still have not curbed societal ills of hatred, violence, immorality, and addiction. Knowledge cannot control our passions. It cannot change the human condition.
There is only one kind of knowledge that can permanently change a person. "Only intelligent commitment of a life in light of God's gift of salvation can curb the human condition" (Bennett). Only God receives the glory for changing a human being and sustaining that transformation (Romans 11:36). Sinful people need to hear of Christ and surrender their hearts to His authority.
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