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Galatians 1:1-5

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

“Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.”

---End of Scripture verses---

Just a brief introductory from the Apostle Paul before we get into the meat of the epistle. At the start we can see that he is a bit on the defensive, feeling the need to stress his credentials as a legitimate Apostle, hand-selected by Jesus Christ himself. Paul defends his apostleship quite a bit in this letter because of the false teachers that had come into the region discrediting Paul and slandering his reputation. Unlike these “wolves” who only wielded human authority while peddling their damnable doctrines, Paul was an authorized and inspired ambassador who preached the Truth “through Jesus Christ and God the Father.”

Paul prayed “grace and peace” for the brethren, even though many of them had begun to behave ungraciously and hostilely toward him. Grace is undeserved favor and peace is a harmonious relationship with God. Grace and peace can only be found through faith and obedience to God the Father through Jesus Christ the Lord. Peace here is not merely a feeling of “serenity” but a condition and position of “friendship” with God through the blood of His Son, which appeased God’s wrath and quelled the hostility that our sins produced (Romans 5:1-8; Colossians 1:20). With this condition of peace restored, we can enjoy the peace (serenity) that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). It is through God’s grace that His children receive His peace.

Jesus “gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us…” (verse 4). Sin is such a huge deal and such a destructive force! Most people hardly even use the word anymore and even acknowledge its existence in their lives. But we all sin. And sin will kill us. For eternity. If we are not rescued from it. We all need Jesus! We need to accept God’s grace by believing in His Son and obeying from the heart every command of the Gospel. We will not be perfect in our obedience and God does not expect us to. But when we’ve been baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, God is faithful to forgive us if we confess our sins (1 John 1:1-9), and repent of them in godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).

Okay, maybe there was a bit of meat there after all!

Please read Galatians 1:6-10 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

Introduction To Galatians

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

I will be quoting the introductory remarks from the Guardian of Truth Foundation Commentary on Galatians written by Mike Willis to introduce this letter to the group today.

“The book of Galatians is rightly called the ‘Magna Carta of Christians Liberty.’ Few books have made such a lasting impression upon men’s minds as has the epistle of Paul to the Galatians. This book maintains that man is justified by grace through faith separate and apart from the works of the Mosaical Law. Consequently, Galatians had a tremendous influence on first century Christianity. At first men viewed Christians as another sect of the Jews, somewhat similar to the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and Zealots; but the impact of the revelation that man is justified through Jesus Christ without circumcision and obedience to the Law of Moses gradually modified this perception of Christianity. Preaching this gospel to Gentiles and Jews alike signaled the major turning point, and Christianity eventually became a world religion separate from Judaism. Thus, Paul’s letter to the Galatians contributed tremendously to the early development of Christianity by helping to establish the concept of justification through faith in Jesus Christ apart from the Law of Moses.

“Martin Luther found the book of Galatians to be useful during his battles with Roman Catholicism. He loved the epistle and referred to it affectionately as his ‘Katie,’ as if he were wedded to it. Luther used Galatians to show that man cannot earn his way to heaven. Hence, he concluded that the Catholic doctrine of accumulation of merit through good works was false to the core. The book became a cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation.

“The message of Galatians is eternal. Men still need to be taught that justification occurs through the precious blood of Jesus Christ rather than through perfect obedience to the Mosaical Law or any other legal system. Men still need to understand the implications of reverting to the Mosaical Law for authority in religious matters, whether that item be circumcision, the observance of religious holy days, the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship, a separate priesthood, tithing, or whatever. Hence, the impact of this small book continues to the present. Galatians is as pertinent to the twentieth century as it was to the first.”

---End of commentary quotation---

Please keep in mind that any reference to what took place during the “Protestant Reformation” does not imply that I or the author of the commentary endorse or follow all the principles or teaching that resulted from it. I certainly do not consider myself to be a Protestant. My religion is not a “protest” against anything but worldliness and false doctrine. I am a Christian and only a Christian. And, while a “reformation” may have been a good start at taking corrective action against religious error, I believe that nothing short of a “restoration” of “the church” back to the original teaching, beliefs and practices of the New Testament is pleasing and acceptable to God.

I will also add that this letter, unlike many others written by Paul to a specific person or congregation, was written to an entire region of Asia Minor. It is disputed which region of Galatia that Paul specifically wrote this letter to. Some think it was the lesser known northern region, and others believe it was written to the southern region. This southern region would have included churches in cities that we know Paul had a pivotal role in the establishment of on his first preaching journey. Cities such as Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. I personally believe it was written to the southern region of Galatia, but in the end it really doesn’t matter because a person’s view of the original recipients doesn’t change or affect a good understanding of the text.

Please read Galatians 1:1-5 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day! 

-Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 13:11-14

Monday, July 02, 2018

“Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

A lovely way to end a difficult letter. The final exhortations read like a prayer.

Rejoice in the Lord! There are so many reasons to be filled with joy when you belong to Jesus Christ.

Be made complete. Don’t be satisfied with your level of spirituality and faithfulness. Strive for growth.

Be comforted. The God of all comfort will see you through the roughest of times.

Be like-minded. All of God’s children are in this together. We need one another and we need to stand for the truth, equally together.

God and His love and peace be with you.

Be affectionate to one another. I’ll take a firm handshake or warm hug over a holy kiss though!

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you.

Lord willing we will have some introductory remarks on Paul’s letter to the Galatians for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 13:7-10

Sunday, July 01, 2018

“Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete. For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

Three statements really stand out in today’s reading:

1) “We pray to God that you do no wrong” (verse 7). Paul wanted his brothers and sisters to “do what is right”, no matter what others may have thought about him personally. He repeatedly defended himself in this letter because people were attacking his credibility and authority. But his main concern was that his fellow Christians choose to walk the paths of righteousness and do what was right in the sight of the Lord.

I have personally tried to help people straighten out their lives, and have lost their friendship in the process. Sometimes when you interfere in people’s personal affairs, even with godly motives, it makes them offended and resentful towards you. But, if in the end they actually do turn their lives around, that is all that really matters. It is a blessing if you help people to do the right things, even if they do so without your companionship.

2) “This we also pray for, that you be made complete” (verse 9). The word “complete” means “to render fit” and was used in Matthew 4:21 for mending damaged fishing nets. It can carry the idea of mending, perfecting (or maturing), or restoring. The brethren in Corinth obviously needed all three of these things. “Doing the right thing” is only a part of God’s will for His people. He wants Christians to have mended lives, reach for spiritual maturity and strive for spiritual perfection.

3) “We can do nothing against the truth” (verse 8). The truth is always the truth, no matter what we may choose to think or how we may decide to live our lives. If the Bible says that something is sinful, it is sinful. It doesn’t matter what our friends may say, or what agenda the media may be pushing. It doesn’t even matter how our conscience directs us. We will all be judged by God’s word of truth. Please don’t tussle against the truth. That’s a fight that just cannot be won.

Please read 2 Corinthians 13:11-14 for tomorrow and prepare to delve into Paul’s letter to the Galatians after that.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

-Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 13:5-6

Saturday, June 30, 2018

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

This is a test! Quite often tests need to be performed in order to make certain that equipment is running properly. There are tests to be sure that people have been properly prepared for extraordinary situations. We have fire drills and tornado drills in order to train us to know what to do in case of an emergency. But these drills are also tests to see how well we would do in case of an actual emergency.

As Christians, we need to do periodic, personal examinations of ourselves to make certain that we are truly abiding in “the faith” of Jesus Christ. To see if we are truly preparing ourselves for eternity. For Judgment Day. We need to compare the ways that we think and the things that we believe, say and do against what the Bible says is right (1 John 4:1). And then make the necessary corrections.

That means that we have to actually “study” the Bible just to accomplish accurate internal evaluations of our spiritual status. And we have to “study” if we want to have any hope of “passing” our periodic tests and the ultimate test when we stand before God to be judged.

Paul says that these tests are to determine two things: 1) “If you are in the faith.” 2) “That Christ is in you.” Are you obeying the doctrine of Christ (2 John 1:9), and is it obvious to people that you are because they can see Christ living in you (Galatians 2:20)? “Do not fail the test” (verse 6)!

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Please read 2 Corinthians 13:7-10 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 13:1-4

Friday, June 29, 2018

“This is the third time I am coming to you. EVERY FACT IS TO BE CONFIRMED BY THE TESTIMONY OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES. I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I will not spare anyone, since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, and who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

After a lot of talking and pleading and warning, there comes a time for corrective action. The Apostle Paul was planning to visit the Corinthian church shortly after the writing of this letter. He was giving them ample opportunity to address and correct their issues, and sufficient time for sinners to repent. He was a meek and patient person, but he was also an inspired Apostle of Jesus Christ. He planned to demonstrate his authority when he arrived in order to remove any doubt from the minds of the brethren who questioned his divinely appointed position.

Paul quoted Deuteronomy 19:15 when he wrote, “Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” But it seems to me that he had the Lord’s instruction in mind to establish the facts by two or three witnesses when encouraging an erring brother to repent and before administering “church discipline” (Matthew 18:15-18). Paul would not deviate from the proper process that Jesus himself authorized. Even though Paul was not a part of the “Original Twelve” when Christ issued this directive, he still received his revelation and authority directly from the Lord (Galatians 1:1).

Appearances and perceptions can be misleading. Paul’s “earthen vessel” was week, but the “surpassing greatness of the power” of the Gospel and Paul’s authority were “of God” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Paul reminded them of the false perception of Christ’s weakness by those who killed Him. As He hung on the cross, seemingly helpless and powerless, people mocked and ridiculed Him. But when He triumphantly arose from the grave, He demonstrated that He was undoubtedly “the Son of God with power” (Romans 1:4). Paul told the Corinthians that the same “power of God” had been, and would be directed toward them.

Friends, don’t be fooled by the kindness and patience of God. Don’t confuse His longsuffering with tolerance and indifference. Soon the full power of God will be revealed from heaven against all the people who refuse to acknowledge God as their Sovereign and obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8). To repeat the first sentence of today’s commentary: After a lot of talking and pleading and warning, there comes a time for corrective action. God’s patience will eventually run out and He will punish us for the sin that we refuse to turn loose of.

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)

Please read 2 Corinthians 13:5-6 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 12:19-21

Thursday, June 28, 2018

“All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved. For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

Everything that Paul had to say in his own defense really had nothing to do with himself. It had everything to do with God and His will for them. It had everything to do with strengthening the brethren spiritually. Paul was not interested in standing up for himself, but the building up of his brothers and sisters in Christ.

It is very hurtful and disappointing when we sometimes have to defend ourselves and explain our motives to the people we love the most and are trying to help and protect. But when they are determined to do the wrong things, they will feel the need to distance themselves from the ones who want the best for them, as a defense mechanism. Just remember. Their immortal souls are worth grieving over and fighting for just the same. Even if we have to endure the pain of abuse and rejection.

Paul mourned over the sins that his fellow Christians had gotten involved in and refused to turn from (verse 21). Sinfulness is a terrible situation that causes sorrow, pain and isolation. But more importantly, sin will cause people, even Christians once washed in the blood of Christ, to be lost for eternity. Friends, if that can’t make you mourn, I don’t know if anything can.

If you are caught up in some sin, please repent of it before it is too late. Life on earth is too short, and eternity too long. Don’t let any earthly treasure or pleasure or addiction keep you out of heaven.

Please read 2 Corinthians 13:1-4 for tomorrow.

Have a great day…

-Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 12:14-18

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

“Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? But be that as it may, I did not burden you myself; nevertheless, crafty fellow that I am, I took you in by deceit. Certainly I have not taken advantage of you through any of those whom I have sent to you, have I? I urged Titus to go, and I sent the brother with him. Titus did not take any advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps?”

---End of Scripture Verses---

“I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls” (verse 15). Paul wore himself completely out serving and saving people’s immortal souls. How much energy do we expend on the important spiritual matters of life? I know many of us “burn the candle at both ends” trying to keep pace in the rat race of everyday, physical existence. Sometimes, and far too often, we find ourselves overwhelmed by life and running in “survival mode” with our jobs, families, education, housework, etc.

Let’s try to be more intentional with our spiritual pursuits. “Pencil in” a definite amount of time on the calendar each day to nourish your soul and/or to reach out to a struggling, fellow, immortal soul. If that means sacrificing an extra 15-20 minutes of sleep each day, so be it. If our whole life is devoted to “gaining the world” we will lose our souls in the process (Mark 8:36).

Please read 2 Corinthians 12:19-21 for tomorrow.

Blessings!

-Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 12:11-13

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

“I have become foolish; you yourselves compelled me. Actually I should have been commended by you, for in no respect was I inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though I am a nobody. The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles. For in what respect were you treated as inferior to the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not become a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!”

---End of Scripture Verses---

The “thorn in the flesh” that Paul received to keep him from exalting himself worked really well (verse 7). In spite of all of his authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ and all of his accomplishments in his service to Christ, he still understood that he was “a nobody” (verse 11). That is humility at its finest. No matter how wonderful and superb other people may consider us to be, we must be careful to be little in our own eyes (1 Samuel 15:17).

Paul was dealing with just the opposite reaction though. His brethren were looking down on him when they really SHOULD have loved him and esteemed him highly because of his excellent faith and work. But even though they treated him as inferior, he did not return the mistreatment to them (verse 13). He still loved and served and respected them with all of his heart. Another sign of humility as well as maturity in the faith.

When we think we are really something, we are actually nothing in comparison to the Lord above! When others think we are a nobody, we are really something in the eyes of our Father in heaven! Perspective, perspective, perspective!

Please read 2 Corinthians 12:14-18 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Monday, June 25, 2018

“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me — to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

The Lord “lifted Paul up” during his time of doubt and fear, but then He brought him back “down to earth” for his own good. Paul had been allowed to see and hear things that were just too marvelous to describe when he was “caught up into third heaven” (verse 2). But, there is a grave danger when a person is riding high on a mountain of glory that he will begin to glorify himself instead of the Lord. Beware of “mountain top moments”! When you get so high there is only one way to go!

“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,” Paul was given “a thorn in the flesh” to keep him from “exalting” himself (verse 7). The Lord lifts us up when we are in most need of a boost, but we usually do not thank God for humbling us with the “thorns” that are designed to give us perspective and keep us on an even keel. Paul makes it clear that his “thorn in the flesh” (whatever that was) originated from Satan (verse 7). But God permitted that moment of “weakness” in order to show him where his true strength resided.

“My grace is sufficient for you” (verse 9). Sometimes God says “No” to our most earnest and ardent prayers for relief to demonstrate His grace to us (verse 8)! That sounds like a bit of a contradiction, but God has never promised to take away all of the storms and thorns of life. He does, however, promise us the grace and strength to endure them, and that He will carry us through the most difficult challenges of life, if we will only remain faithful to Him.

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Whose strength are you relying upon? Your own or the Lord’s?

“Thus says the LORD, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.’” (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

Please read 2 Corinthians 12:11-13 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 12:1-6

Sunday, June 24, 2018

“Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago — whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows — such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man — whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows — was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

So very much is revealed to us in this amazing passage of Scripture, even though Paul was not “permitted to speak” about the specific details of his “heavenly visit” (verse 4). I will start by saying that Paul is talking about himself in the third person when he said he knew a man “in Christ”. The only way to be saved eternally is to be a Christian, and the only way to be a Christian is to be “in Christ”.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “All spiritual blessings” are “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). Access “into Christ” is through the waters of baptism. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

For some reason God honored Paul by showing him some “visions and revelations” (verse 1) that very few human beings have been privileged enough to witness or hear. The occasion and reason for this are not revealed. Maybe God did this to encourage the Apostle during a very challenging time in his life.

The Lord “transported” Paul into “third heaven” and “Paradise” (verses 3-4). Paul could have experienced this marvel in three different ways. He could have been shown a vision, he may have been bodily “caught up”, or his spirit may have been separated from his body for a brief time. But Paul said, “whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know” (verses 2-3).

We also learn from this passage that there are three heavens, but the Bible teaches us this in different ways and places as well. The first heaven is contained within earth’s atmosphere where the birds fly and the clouds “float” (Genesis 1:20). The second heaven is the “outer space” where the “heavenly bodies” or stars and planets “dwell” (Genesis 22:17). The third heaven is where God dwells. It seems evident from Paul’s description in today’s verses that Paradise is located in the third heaven.

Paul wasn’t sure if he had had an “out of body experience” or not, but he knew that was within the realm of possibility. This statement is proof that the “soul” or “spirit” has a life of its own apart from the human body. When we die and our fleshly bodies are laid in the grave (or whatever may happen to them), our spirits will live on in the spiritual realm.

Last point for today is that you cannot believe anything that a “medium” or “spiritualist” says when they claim to communicate with the departed spirits of the deceased. Paul made an actual visit to the spirit world and he said that he was “not permitted to speak” about the “inexpressible words” that he heard (verse 4).

The only way that we can learn anything about “the other side,” about “life beyond the grave” is by reading our Bibles. The only way that we can garner information about salvation and the spiritual world and heaven above is by accessing the revelation that God has left for us in His perfect word.

Please read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed Lord's Day!

-Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 11:29-33

Saturday, June 23, 2018

“Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands.”

---End of Scripture Verses---

Paul is continuing to defend himself and his credibility to the brethren in Corinth. It should have been obvious to them that Paul truly loved them and the Lord because of all that he was willing to give up for them, and all he was willing to endure in order to serve them.

When Paul had preached the Gospel in the city of Damascus shortly after his conversion, “the Jews plotted together to do away with him” (Acts 9:23). They obviously secured the assistance of a government official to carry out their murderous plot (verse 32).

After he escaped their hands, he continued to travel and preach and teach the truth to all creation, even as far as the city of Corinth. If he didn’t have an intense conviction for the Gospel and a strong love for both God and man, he would have fled to a remote part of the world and hid out in isolation and obscurity.

But, even if no one else believed and understood the truth of the matter, “The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, He who is blessed forever,” He knew that Paul wasn’t lying (verse 31). God knows. Those can be two of the most comforting words of all time, or they can be the most frightening.

If we ever feel like no one understands us or that no one knows the truth about our honesty and integrity; please do not fret. God knows, and ultimately He is the only one that needs to! Conversely, if we think that we can secretly behave sinfully with impunity, God knows that too, even if no one else in the whole world sees a thing!

"For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Please read 2 Corinthians 12:1-6 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

-Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 11:21-28

Friday, June 22, 2018

“But in whatever respect anyone else is bold — I speak in foolishness — I am just as bold myself. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? — I speak as if insane — I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?”

---End of Scripture Verses---

That Apostle Paul had a lot to BRAG about, and a lot to COMPLAIN about. And yet the only times he mentioned any specifics was when he felt the need to defend himself against fools who were trying to discredit him and ruin his positive influence for Christ. Paul’s ancestry and upbringing placed him at the top of the food chain in Jewish society, and yet he eagerly cast it all aside in order to follow Christ and serve Him to the fullest. Consider what he wrote in Phil 3:4-8:

“If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”

And what did giving those physical privileges up to follow Christ provide for him physically? Beatings, stoning, shipwreck, long journeys, dangers of all kinds, hardship, cold, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, pressures and concerns. Paul was not complaining at all about this long list of afflictions. He willingly accepted them because he knew that the glory of the spiritual blessings received from serving Christ greatly surpassed any pain that physical hardship could produce.

He wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” Again, in Philippians 3:13-14: “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

If you are a Christian, press on and keep your eyes on the prize! If you are not, get in the race before it is too late!

Please read 2 Corinthians 11:29-33 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 11:16-21

Thursday, June 21, 2018

“Again I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, so that I also may boast a little. What I am saying, I am not saying as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting. Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also. For you, being so wise, tolerate the foolish gladly. For you tolerate it if anyone enslaves you, anyone devours you, anyone takes advantage of you, anyone exalts himself, anyone hits you in the face. To my shame I must say that we have been weak by comparison.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Several years ago I witnessed a case of “domestic violence” in a bowling alley parking lot. A very large man was hitting a woman (not sure if it was his wife or girlfriend) repeatedly in the face as she was screaming and crying in pain. Out of nowhere, a “knight in shining armor” ran to the rescue and gave the abuser a karate kick in the chest, momentarily bewildering the attacker. But within seconds, the “hero” was back-peddling as fast as he could as both the abuser and his victim were chasing him down meaning to do him harm because he dared to do this good deed.

 

That incident happened 25 plus years ago, and yet I can still see it very vividly in my mind’s eye. I learned a painful lesson that day about abuse. No matter how agonizing or frequently it may take place, many victims of ill-treatment will defend and protect their abusers when someone tries to intervene and help. I know there is a psychological aspect to this, and I sympathize with anyone who is trapped between the confining bars of love and torment. My heart breaks for victims of abuse and all the physical and psychological torture that they go through.

 

But, when it comes to spiritual matters, there is just too much at stake to stay shackled to those who cause damage to our souls. The brethren in Corinth “tolerated” the false teachers who “enslaved” and “devoured” and “took advantage” of them for personal gain (verse 20). Paul only wanted to help them heal spiritually and go to heaven for eternity. And yet many of them rejected their “champion” (Paul), and their Savior (Jesus), in favor of tyrants and taskmasters.

 

Is your commitment to a loved one keeping you from obeying the truth and truly following the Lord? Maybe your affection for a beloved parent or grandparent is keeping you tied to the manmade denomination that they devoted their lives to. I know that they would never intentionally hurt you or lead you astray, but if they are or were caught up in false religion, your soul’s salvation is much more important than your feelings for them and the allegiance that you think you owe them. Nothing and no one is worth giving up heaven for!

 

Jesus said in Matthew 10:37-39: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” Please don’t let your love or sense of obligation to any human being keep you from obeying Jesus from the heart, and serving and worshiping God in Spirit and Truth.

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 11:21-28 for tomorrow.

 

Blessings!

 

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 11:12-15

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

“But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Satan does not appear in the form of a “red devil” with horns and a pitchfork. Even as he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking people to devour (1 Peter 5:8), he does so without bearing his teeth or his fangs. In the city of Corinth, he worked through the agency of false teachers who put on the appearance of goodwill and piety. We have every reason to believe that he utilizes the same methods in our world today, since they have proven to be so successful for him throughout history, even from the very beginni

ng.

In the Garden of Eden, Satan first approached humankind through the intervention of a slick-talking serpent, promising Adam and Eve knowledge and life, but delivering corruption and death. In first century Corinth, he deceived God’s people with “false apostles” who tainted and perverted the simple truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In 21st century America, Satan despoils God’s pure truth and authorized worship by sweet, smiling preachers, “praise teams,” and myriad other “ministries” and programs designed to entertain people and make them feel good about themselves.

 

Don’t get me wrong, the devil uses ugly and destructive tools like drugs, alcohol, pornography, crime, violence, etc., to wreak havoc on people’s lives and our society at large. But his most insidious means of destroying people for eternity is when he “disguises himself as an angel of light” (verse 14), and deceives people into believing lies by tainting the holy word and worship of God.

 

Only the truth can set us free from our sins (John 8:31-36), and God will only receive and honor worship offered in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). Please do not allow Satan and his (mostly unwitting) servants to deceive you! Study your Bible daily and “test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 11:16-21 for tomorrow.

 

Have a great day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 11:5-11

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

“For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things. Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge? I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you; and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so. As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Okay so Paul had asked permission to speak a bit foolishly (verse 1). The brethren in Corinth had tolerated so much foolishness from evil influences, surely they could bear with Paul for a moment while he used a bit of sarcasm to show them how ridiculous their attitude about him had become.

 

When Paul was in the city of Corinth he walked humbly among brethren (verse 7). They had since been persuaded to view his humility as weakness and inferiority. When he preached to them, he decided to do that without charge so as not to burden them or give them a reason to think he had ulterior motives. They still found a way to question his intentions.

 

Sometimes people mistake humility and generosity for weakness, and they will take advantage of your good nature. That’s okay. You be humble and generous anyway. That’s the way that Jesus lived His earthly life and left the perfect example for us to follow. In fact, Jesus came for the very purpose of humbling Himself in the service of human kind, even to the point of death (Philippians 2:5-8). Verse 5 of Philippians 2 tells us to have the mind (attitude) of Christ as well.

 

Paul’s only motivation for serving his brethren in Corinth and making himself very vulnerable to them was love (verse 11). “Love is patient, love is kind…love does not seek its own…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Our love for people should be enough to help us endure a broken heart if necessary.

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 for tomorrow.

 

Have a blessed day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 11:1-4

Monday, June 18, 2018

“I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me. For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Many of the brethren in Corinth were listening to the deceit of the false teachers who were working among them, much like Adam and Eve gave heed to the lies of Satan that the serpent used to persuade them to disobey God. These brethren had no problem “bearing with” the deceivers who did not have their best interests at heart, and yet they closed their hearts to the good intentions and the sound doctrine that Paul desired for them.

 

It amazes me how gullible people can willingly be with the predatory advances of wolves who mean to do them harm, especially when it comes to religion. When you find someone who you know you can trust to teach you the truth, even when the truth is unpleasant to hear; please don’t close your ears to their pleas and warnings in favor of those who would tickle your ears with delightful lies.

 

The doctrine of Christ is “simplicity and purity” at its best (verse 3). When someone tries to teach you things that are very confusing and convoluted, that’s very likely an indicator that they are not teaching the simple, pure, Truth of Christ.

 

The doctrine of Premillennialism is a prime example of complicated and contradictory teaching. It takes a lot of twisting and contorting of the Scripture to teach that Christ will return to set up an earthly kingdom and reign over it for a thousand years after a seven year period of Great Tribulation on earth. That is just not plainly taught in the Bible and, in fact, contradicts many things that ARE clearly taught.

 

Christ’s kingdom is spiritual not physical (Luke 17:21; John 3:5-8; Romans 14:17). Jesus established it when He arose from the grave and ascended into heaven (Mark 9:1: Acts 2:30-31). The kingdom of God IS the church of Christ (Mathew 16:18-19; 1 Corinthians 4:20; Colossians 1:13). When Christ returns, He will deliver the kingdom up to the Father, not establish it on earth (1 Corinthians 15:23-24).

 

Please to not be deceived or beguiled by cunning and craftiness! Stick to the simple Truth in all things spiritual!

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 11:5-11 for tomorrow!

 

Have a great day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 10:12-18

Sunday, June 17, 2018

“For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you. For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we did not reach to you, for we were the first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ; not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men's labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another. But HE WHO BOASTS IS TO BOAST IN THE LORD. For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

We must take care to not be people who “measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves” (verse 12). When we make our own thoughts, views and judgments the standard of excellence that everyone else must measure up to, we have essentially become gods to ourselves. The comparison game is a dangerous game to play no matter how we may choose to approach it. But when we set ourselves up as the model to which no one else compares, we have reached the height of arrogance and pride.

 

The words that the Lord spoke to Edom in Obadiah 1:3-4 applies to everyone who has an overly lofty view of himself: “The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in the loftiness of your dwelling place, who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?' ‘Though you build high like the eagle, though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,’ declares the LORD.”

 

The false teachers among the brethren in Corinth only compared themselves with themselves because they dared not compare their fake, corrupted, manmade doctrine with the prefect, true, God-breathed teaching of the Apostles. They knew they had to isolate themselves and their targets from the Apostle’s authority in order to take advantage of the brethren to the fullest extent. They commended themselves, but the Lord completely rejected them (verse 18). Thus the Lord rejects anyone who does not believe and teach and practice the truth that was once, for all time, taught by His chosen ambassadors, as revealed in the pages of the New Testament (Jude 1:3).

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 11:1-4 for tomorrow.

 

Please come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ!

3741 Taylorsville Road. 9:30 AM Bible class. 10:30 AM worship period. 5:00 PM worship period.

 

Have a blessed Lord’s Day and Father’s Day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 10:7-11

Saturday, June 16, 2018

“You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ's, so also are we. For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame, for I do not wish to seem as if I would terrify you by my letters. For they say, 'His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible.' Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when absent, such persons we are also in deed when present.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

When I was a child I remember a novel that sat on the bookshelf in our living room entitled, “The Aftermath”. I was convinced that book was all mathematics, and I wanted to read it since I liked that subject in grade school. That is a literal case of “judging a book by its cover.” Paul warns us here to stop “looking at things as they are outwardly” (verse 7). Far too often, I believe, we judge people by the color of their skin, the way that they dress, and the way that they talk, instead of by who they are on the inside. It is impossible to know a stranger’s motives and intentions, but we should try to love all people and cautiously give everybody the benefit of the doubt.

 

There was an ungodly element among the church at Corinth that persuaded the brethren to judge Paul by his “personal appearance” and his “contemptible speech (verse 10). They failed to focus on the power of God behind Paul’s doctrine and his apostolic authority (verse 3). It is clear from the content of this epistle and the fact that he postponed his visit in order to “spare” them (2 Corinthians 1:23), that Paul wanted to be harsh in his letter so he could be gentle when he saw them face-to-face. Paul was not being hypocritical by this approach, but kind, loving and considerate. He was the same person “in word by letters” as he was “when present” (verse 11), who cared deeply about their souls, and earnestly desired their godliness, faithfulness and eternal salvation.

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 10:12-18 for tomorrow.

 

Have a blessed day!

 

- By Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 10:1-6

Friday, June 15, 2018

"Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete."

 

---End of Scripture---

 

We notice an abrupt change in tone in the last section of the letter. Paul here identifies several latent attacks very directly including: his style and substance in preaching (1Cor. 1:17; 2:1-5), his financial support (1Cor. 9), and proper judgment (1Cor. 1:10-15; 3:1-15). In chapters 10-13, he correctly defines what he has done and how none of it even resembles the charges made against him. He then exposes the false teachers who are guilty of each of the accusations. He will now boast in his genuine apostolic authority (cf. 1Cor. 4:1-5, 14, 16-21; 5:1-5; 9:1f; 14:37f; 15:8-11). Paul’s approach is directly in line with that of the day. In fact, Plutarch even writes a treatise on proper self-commendation enumerating the same basic methods Paul uses (entitled: "On Inoffensive Self-Praise").

 

Another aspect of his address entails exposing the blindness brought on by Corinth’s egotism (cf. 1Cor. 4:6, 18f; 5:2; 8:1; 13:4) that had allowed the insidious influence in.

 

Chapters 10-13 are bookended by several themes: Paul’s behavior at and away from Corinth (10:1-2; 13:10), his encroaching visit (10:2; 13:1), his apostolic authority for edification (10:8; 13:10), mention of a previous letter (10:9-11; 13:10), contrast of weakness and power (10:1-6, 10-11; 13:4, 9), and belonging to Christ (10:7; 13:5).

In 10:1, Paul drops 1st person plural pronouns now and gets very personal ("I Paul myself"). Defending his apostleship is his business, not Timothy’s (cf. 1:1). He urges and beseeches them through two chief character traits of Christ. Yet, even here, we see his love. Melvin Curry comments, “The apostle softens his tone with the Corinthians, holding back orders and commands like those which he issued in 1 Corinthians (diatasso, 7:17; 9:14; 11:34; 16:1; parangello, 7:10; 11:17).” As he makes this appeal, he hopes in humility for them to see the consequences of their actions in questioning his apostleship: “The church’s attitude toward Paul’s apostolic message will have a bearing on their relationship to Christ and that has eternal consequences.” (Gareth Reese, 238).

 

In verse 2, Paul indirectly states one of the opponents’ accusations (in verse 10, he will be specific!). The New American Standard rendering "ask" in verse 2 is fairly weak as the original word more properly means "beg." This highlights Paul's earnest desire to avoid exercising his full disciplinary power as an apostle but rather to persuade them in love to turn Corinth against these agents of Satan. They had come to believe that Paul and the apostles were men of the flesh rather than the spirit, a most heinous charge!

Paul continues by pointing out the difference between the corporeal temple he dwelt in and the temple of God he strived for. Paul admits that he is a fallible person like anyone else; however, he has the authority of God backing his teaching as seen in the miracles he performed (12:12). Moreover, Paul’s life in the flesh is patterned after Jesus’ (Heb. 5:7), whereas the lives of his opponents were rebellious, self-indulgent, and egotistical. For us, we must recognize that worldly standards are vain and worthless. We must see people through God’s eyes! Why? Because "we (the apostles in the original context but all of us accomodatively) do not war after the flesh". – Paul’s campaign (Greek: strateuo whence "strategy") is not a defense of his pride, but a battle for the hearts of men against the enemies of the Cross.

 

In verse 4, Paul continues the military metaphor as used elsewhere (Rom. 13:12; 1Cor. 9:7; 2Cor. 6:7; Eph. 6:11-17; 1Thess. 5:8; 1Tim. 1:18; 2Tim. 2:3f). However, in this instance, he focuses on siege warfare. He says "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal" (e.g. eloquence, persuasive rhetoric, force, and human achievements) but rather, his (and our) weapons were spiritually and divinely powerful (cf. Eph. 6:10-18). This is actually a metaphor used in non-inspired works as well! (Philo, Confusion of Tongues, 128-132).

 

They, and we, have the God-given power to destroy speculations and evil surmising. Paul's accusers and their supporters thought they knew very much (1Cor. 8:1-2), but loftiness of self-esteem could not withstand the power of the gospel (cf. Rom. 12:16). The image may continue the military imagery (e.g. Megiddo and Gamla).


"Bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" continues the imagery but focuses particularly on what God enables his soldiers to do through knowledge of Him. Every device of Satan (2:11; 3:14; 4:4; 11:3) is rendered impotent by the weapon of God’s Word!

 

Paul was ready to go to war although he hopes they will concede prior to his getting there (cf. 1Cor. 5:5; 1Tim. 5:20). "Disobedience" connotes stubbornness and refusal to listen to helpful instruction; obedience renders itself submissive to that same instruction. “Although he remains confident that complete reconciliation is an achievable goal at Corinth, he understands that it will only come to pass as a result of an arduous process.” (Curry, 321).

 

Paul's inspired words in this section help illumine us as to the spiritual battle taking place all around us. And he proclaims confidence in God's armament of Christians to withstand the evil one. Are you confident like he was? Being in Christ brings that confidence and the only way to be in Christ is to become His soldier by putting Him on in baptism (Galatians 3:26-27). We hope all will do that before it is everlastingly too late.

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 10:7-11 for tomorrow.

 

- Eric Parker

2 Corinthians 9:6-9

Thursday, June 14, 2018

"Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, 'He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.'"

 

---End of Scripture---

 

It is important for us to consider just how much space is devoted to this collection effort. We have here two solid chapters on some of the most practical and easily understood treatments regarding authorized worship in all of the New Testament. So, how important is our giving? VERY IMPORTANT!

 

In yesterday's reading, the text focuses a great deal on the background of this giving providing details on the scope of time involved in this benevolence - a year! We are also provided with Achaia's promises that provided a justified position of boasting by Paul. In verses 6-9, we transcend the historical context and deal with perhaps the most practical section of verses in these two chapters.

 

In verse 6 lays down an analogical agricultural principle: "he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." No doubt, Paul has Proverbs 11:24-25 and 22:8 in mind. But this principle is not just biblical, it's also recognized in ancient secular literature (Cicero, De Oratore 2.65.261; Aristotle, Rhetoric, 3.3). God provides over and above for His people and here illustrates in no uncertain terms that the gift is not just a blessing to the saints in Jerusalem but to all those who gave too. We see in this how important and blessed we are to participate in the collection that takes place on the first day of every week (1 Corinthians 16:1-4). Jesus taught this principle of eternal and more substantive reward for our acts of charity during His ministry (Matt. 25:34-40; Mark 10:30; Luke 6:38; compare 2Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:7-10; Eph. 6:8; Col. 3:23-25). From Paul’s letter, Corinth will clearly see the abundant blessings they would reap if they gave (9:8-10, 12a, 12b-14).

 

In verse 7, we read one of the most cited verses during the giving in our worship: "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." Paul does not use a verb in the first part of this sentence to emphasize that the performance of giving is not what matters, but rather the emphasis is on God’s love to cheerful givers. Each person must manifest a prior resolve before giving. Moreover, giving must not be done grudgingly (i.e. out of sadness, reluctance, or regret) or of necessity (i.e. out of a sense of duty to peers or to save face). God loves a cheerful (Greek: hilaros, where our word “hilarious” finds origin) giver. This is most likely an allusion to Proverbs 22:9 in the LXX (Septuagint). We must happily be willing to help! (Romans 12:8; Hebrews 13:16)

 

In verse 8, we come across two concepts that pervade the letter - grace and sufficiency. Corinth’s ability to give, as well as ours, is predicated upon the grace shown us by God. Our ability to give is enabled because of His grace. As God works in power, we recognize the awesome results in the lives of believers (Luke 1:49).


Paul plays on the idea that God’s grace is sufficient to make the Corinthians more than sufficient (cf. Phil. 4:11; 1Tim. 6:6) to fulfill their previous pledge. Through His power, His grace is made to abound (cf. 4:15; 12:9) toward them (cf. Prov. 11:24). In the original language there is p-alliteration throughout the verse (5x) emphasizing universality. While anyone can observe the disastrous calamities that result in a "health and wealth gospel understanding of verse like these, we would be remiss to neglect that the verse does suggest enablement by God to meet needs. Many are prevented from giving to the poor and needy for fear that they will become destitute. And no doubt, there needs to be wisdom in sharing our funds. But, honestly, how many people do you personally know that have become destitute being engaged in good deeds? Perhaps, this is an excuse that we may sometimes hide behind that we need to come out from behind.

 

In verse 9, we have an Old Testament quotation taken from Psalms 112:9. Psalm 111 extols God’s righteousness, but Psalm 112 contrasts the fading nature of the wicked versus the enduring nature of the righteous. Paul’s basic premise is that a gracious person engaged in righteous deeds will continue to do so as long as God grants him life. The word for righteousness here is a technical term for alms giving (cf. Matt. 6:1).

 

So in our giving, let us do so cheerfully, abundantly, and by God's grace and enablement. Let us look to the examples of those with barely enough to survive who gave everything for the gospel. Let us put the glory of the kingdom first before our materialism.

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 9:10-15 for tomorrow!

 

- By Eric Parker

2 Corinthians 9:10-15

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

"Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"

 

---End of Scripture---

 

Here we have another agricultural metaphor to illustrate the principles behind divinely-approved and divinely-pleasing giving. Paul articulates that God is Chief Benefactor to Christians and lavishly provides for our needs. Having that assurance, the Corinthians (and us!) should use their (our) multiplied resources to produce fruit in blessings for the poor. In this particular context, it seems that there are four stages in the benevolence/grace process: God’s supplying, the Corinthians’ giving, the realization of more resources and devotion to further benevolent work, and God’s reward of numerous blessings. Verse 10 seems to allude to Isaiah 55:10; Hosea 10:12; Amos 6:12. It can also be seen to convey the memorable principle of Matthew 6:33.

 

Verses 11-15 provide the third context for linking the themes of grace and thanksgiving (compare 1:11; 4:15; 9:8-11). Verse 11 reveals that God enriched them (and us!) unto all liberality (i.e. without ulterior motives) to help others (8:2; 9:13). Because of this overflow of liberality, thanksgivings are multiplied for abundance and for givers (cf. 4:15; 8:2, 7, 14; 9:8, 12).

 

Paul identifies the collection for the saints as a service (Greek: diakonia) in 8:4; 9:1, 13. In this context, Paul uses a different Greek word - leitourgia (cf. Rom. 15:27) - which has a rich secular and biblical background and usage (e.g. Philippians 2:17, 25, 30; Romans 15:16). Not only are the participants helping relieve the want of the saints in supplying what the poor need, they are also resulting in thanksgivings to God. The ultimate result of all giving should be God’s glory!

 

To this point, Paul has been nudging the Corinthians along. At verse 13, he presumes their faithful obedience and observes that this ministration would cause them to pass the test (cf. 2:9; 8:24). Paul pictures the response to the gift as jubilance and expresses even now that the Jewish brethren desire to verify this gift and commend the Gentile Christians for their steadfast love. In fact, when Paul and the brethren arrive, this is the exact response they receive (Acts 21:18-20). The grammatical use of the present tense participle with "glorify" indicates that the Jerusalem Christians were already rejoicing at the thought of a contribution being gathered.

 

This gift was a liberal distribution to all. "All" could refer to all Jewish Christians or all Christians in general. By using this general term, Paul is subtly condemning sectarianism once more (1 Corinthians 14:36). While their gift was to Christians collectively, they (and we) must remember that we are called as individuals to help EVERYONE in need, Christian or not (Galatians 6:10; Luke 10:25-37). As Gareth Reese astutely remarks in his commentary, “Paul expected the Corinthians to be personally involved in any situation where participation together in the cause of Christ was at stake. Christians are to have the same care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25, 26).”

 

We get a glimpse in verse 14 of the continual outpouring of praise and thanksgiving for what the Corinthians would soon perform as promised. The Jewish brethren yearned after their Corinthian brethren by their prayer. This was because of the exceeding grace of God in the Corinthians. Paul never gave up on the Corinthians and he maintains his full assurance of their ability to perfect that which they had pledged.

 

Verse 15 is fundamental truth undergirding and providing meaning to this entire section and to every contribution that has ever taken place in the Lord's church. God has given an indescribable gift! But what exactly is the object of the divine benevolence in this particular section? Well, there are three basic ways of understanding this verse: 1) Jesus is the gift (cf. 8:9; Romans 8:32); 2) The collection is the gift; 3) The situation of the collection is a means of solidifying the grace of God’s reconciliation amongst Gentiles and Jews is the gift of God.

 

So what was the end of it all? Can we know what happened at Corinth? Can we know if Paul's inspired letter was profitable or was it all an exercise in futility? Thankfully, we can and do know what their response was. Inspired (Romans 15:26) and uninspired sources (1 Clement ii.1) testify that Corinth gave in abundance just as Paul expected and just as they had promised.

 

So what can we learn from 2 Corinthians 8-9? We learn that God has high expectations for us and yet those high expectations are infinitely lesser than what He has yielded unto us. We learn that God enables us to give through His grace. We learn that we must give cheerfully, truthfully, and compassionately to all, but especially to the household of faith. May all of us show foresight, grace, and benevolent spirits in our giving and may God bless us in it.

 

We hope this study of 2 Corinthians 8-9 on giving has helped you.

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 10:1-6 for tomorrow!

 

- By Eric Parker

2 Corinthians 9:1-5

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

"For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints; for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, namely, that Achaia has been prepared since last year, and your zeal has stirred up most of them. But I have sent the brethren, in order that our boasting about you may not be made empty in this case, so that, as I was saying, you may be prepared; otherwise if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to speak of you—will be put to shame by this confidence. So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, so that the same would be ready as a bountiful gift and not affected by covetousness."

 

---End of Scripture---

 

While chapter 8 discussed the specific details of the arrangement as well as the precautions set in motion, chapter 9 deals more with the why. The why is twofold: so as not to bring dishonor on the church nor to bring discredit on the boasts Paul made on Corinth’s behalf. He had just explained that he didn’t want anyone to make accusations that he handled the money improperly (8:16-23) and now he proceeds to ensure the Corinthians are ready to give super-abundantly and super-selflessly.

 

VERSE 1 - Ministering (GREEK: diakoneo) is a common theme in Second Corinthians (8:4, 20; 9:1, 12f; cf. Luke 22:26-27). "For it is superfluous for me to write to you..." suggests several possibilities. It may be that the Corinthians are already intimately acquainted with the situation which could certainly be the case as the collection was a year in the making. It could also be that Paul feels his letter at this point to be getting redundant or that he may be “beating a dead horse”. Regardless of how we understand the phrasing, we know that Paul wants to ensure that Corinth fully understands the need.

 

VERSE 2 - In 8:1-5, Macedonia is given as an example to Corinth. Here we see that Paul initially held the Corinthians up as Macedonia’s example and motivation. How the tables have turned! The perfect tense of "ready" implies that the preparedness and forwardness of mind is still there. Again, we reiterate that this collection had been a year in the making (compare 8:10) and Corinth had made big promises. Notably, Paul uses the provincial titles for both Macedonia and Achaia. This is probably to include several congregations that are participating in each area (cf. 1:2; Rom. 15:26; 16:1), or perhaps Paul is using synecdoche. Because of Corinth’s zeal, most had been stirred up (Greek: erethise – only used 2x in the New Testament and the other usage - Colossians 3:21 - is negative in connotation).

 

VERSES 3-4 - Paul anticipated that the brethren needed someone to stir them up to complete the task so he sends the brethren to help them out. Verse 3-4 contain four purpose clauses in one long sentence.

1) So Paul’s boasting is not in vain.

2) So their deeds would confirm their love as expressed in Paul’s boasting (8:19; 1Cor. 16:2b) while in Macedonia.

3) So that the emissaries of the churches would not find Corinth unprepared.

4) So Paul’s boasting would not be shamed (cf. 8:24; 9:2; 11:17). Paul’s use of the grammatical 3rd class condition implies a very slight risk in this happening.

 

VERSE 5 - Paul had exhorted the brethren to exhort Corinth by going on ahead of him. "Necessary" is placed at the beginning of the Greek sentence for emphasis. Paul elsewhere uses the same verbiage in this verse to describe their bounty which was a free will offering (Romans 15:26). As a free will offering, there should have been no covetousness, which interestingly, Paul is accused of by some at Corinth (7:2; 12:17-18). Paul did not want them to give as little as possible or just to appease him.

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 9:6-9 for tomorrow!

 

Have a blessed day!

 

- By Eric Parker

2 Corinthians 8:16-24

Monday, June 11, 2018

"But thanks be to God who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest, he has gone to you of his own accord. We have sent along with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches; and not only this, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us in this gracious work, which is being administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself, and to show our readiness, taking precaution so that no one will discredit us in our administration of this generous gift; for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. We have sent with them our brother, whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things, but now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you. As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ. Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you."

 

---End of Scripture---

 

Paul has established the example of the Macedonian Christians, used great persuasion to encourage the Achaian Christians to complete their promised benevolence, and now moves into some of the specifics regarding the safe-guards and trustworthy companions involved in the process of conveying these funds to the brethren in Jerusalem.

 

A couple of things stand out in this section. For one, verses 16-24 are framed by commendations of Titus (vv. 16, 23). Titus’ work with the Corinthians cannot be understated (2:13; 7:6, 13f; 8:6; 12:18). It’s no surprise that he would take part in the denouement of the collection. He is doing this of his own accord, a phrase reminiscent of the Macedonian example (8:3). While Titus was certainly one of the standouts in this process, there is at least one other brother (possibly two?) whose anonymity makes him stand out even further. Why the anonymity? Was it to prevent vainglory? Was it to demonstrate the man's trustworthiness? We cannot be sure but it is intriguing, so intriguing in fact, that scholars have named everyone from A-to-Z and tried to prove their hypothesis. Regardless of our futile speculations, we know this: these men were of the highest caliber of character and trustworthiness. Their service could be meaningful because they lived meaningful lives!

 

Secondly, the section provides both the apostolic directives for giving and the way in which autonomous congregations are to function in a cooperative effort of benevolence. There were to be safeguards throughout the process. As it was such a large sum of money, Paul was intimately aware that accusations of tampering could be made very easily. Consequently, each congregation was to safeguard its own funds at all points during the process so that no accusations of tampering withstood (Acts 20:4). The entire process was a service administered by all of the men in an effort to promote the glory of God throughout the Roman Empire as well as the good will of the Corinthians. For Paul, “He hopes this labor of love will allay suspicions that his work among the Gentiles has in some way lessened his indebtedness to and concern for the Jewish saints in Jerusalem.” (Melvin Curry, "Second Corinthians", Truth Commentaries, 279).

Thirdly, everyone involved in the process seems to have possessed a great zeal (7:12; 8:7-8, 16-17, 22) in the endeavor. No doubt this is a reflection of understanding the grace of God behind it all. The proof of their love would be seen in their willingness to carry out what they had promised from the beginning. This proof would be done literally in the face of (Greek: eis prosopon) the churches and their honor would be restored after the shame brought on by past sins. At the end of this passage, Paul returns to his boast of Corinth to all the churches to reinforce their commitment and self-imposed obligation to meet the need.

 

We learn two more things from this passage:

 

1) We can learn from Corinth that as we grow in and express our confidence in one another, that we become more interested in and more willing to help them in the work!

 

2) And while we continue this section looking at this benevolence in 2 Corinthians, we are humbled by the truth that no matter the unfathomable nature of Christian willingness in graciousness, it still falls far short of divine willingness!

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 9:1-5 for tomorrow.

 

Have a blessed day!

 

- Eric Parker

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Sunday, June 10, 2018

"But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also. I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it. But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality— at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

 

---End of Scripture---

 

After citing the exemplary Macedonian commitment to benevolence for the Christians in Jerusalem, Paul begins to make the connection to Corinth. The Macedonians turned out their shallow pockets and enlarged their hearts for the brethren; now what about them?

 

Corinth was a place of much wealth and learning. Yet, it wasn't just in the worldly concept of wealth that they were rich. No, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:4-7: "I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in EVERYTHING you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here he references their depth of faith, utterance, knowledge, earnestness, and love. With all of these blessings and the example of the Macedonian Christians, Corinth had a great opportunity to put their resources to good use.

 

After commending these virtues, Paul exhorts them to abound in this grace also. Keeping in mind that Paul’s efforts are to avoid slanderous reports, he presents the instruction as a request rather than a command (1:24). He wants to motivate them through love and generosity, not break them down (10:8; 13:10). As other Christians have been stirred up, so Paul demonstrates his assurance that the Corinthians will prove their sincerity of love (cf. 1Jn. 3:17).

 

As if the tremendous example of the Macedonians were not enough, Paul establishes the even more superior example of Christ’s condescension to save men. One will notice the shift to second person pronouns for personal emphasis. Jesus had every advantage and yet gave it up to redeem and spiritually enrich mankind (Phil. 2:1-11). As a result of that condescension, Christians (especially at Corinth) were made rich (4:16, 18; 5:1, 8, 17f, 21; Eph. 1:3).

 

To further stir up the conviction of the Corinthians, Paul gives a word of advice. “Although the Achaeans may have failed thus far to follow through with their commitment to contribute, their desire to share in the work has remained constant. So, Paul actually pays them a subtle compliment, which, perhaps, will encourage them to delay no longer.” (Melvin Curry, "2 Corinthians", Truth Commentaries, 269).

 

Their giving needed to be both cheerful (9:7) and willing (1 Tim. 6:17-19). In verse 11, Paul issues a very pointed imperative – perform the doing! They had been eager to help, so now they must help! Since they had been willing, they were to now offer a free will offering as they had prospered. Paul has already established that they had prospered on a higher level than anyone in the region and therefore owed a great debt to share with their spiritual brethren who were suffering. Upon completion, their gift would be readily accepted by God.

 

There was no specific amount required, nor is there today (cf. 1Cor. 16:2). Despite the lack of an amount, some may have alleged that Paul required too much. In response, Paul demonstrates that their giving was not to ease others and burden/afflict themselves. The effort was to ensure equality during time of duress (cf. Acts 2; 4; 6). The Corinthians may find themselves in dire straits in the future and requiring what the brethren in Jerusalem were requiring now. If they failed at this time, how embarrassing and shaming if they were to need help in the future.

 

Toward the end of this section Paul quotes from Exodus 16:18 in the context of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness and calls to remembrance the grace of God to give them manna for 40 years. During the wanderings, people gathered different amounts, but at the end of the day, everyone ended up with an omer of manna. This point drives home the equality principle in the previous verse. “All who were able were employed in gathering it. Some were more successful than others in how much they collected. When it was brought back to the camp, the amount each person had collected was measured by an omer. If he had a surplus, it went to supply the wants of some other family that had not been able to collect a sufficiency. Thus the one who had gathered little had no lack. Those who gathered more than an omer would constantly be manifesting a spirit of benevolence.” (Reese, 209).

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 8:16-24 for tomorrow!

 

You are invited to worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ!

 

3741 Taylorsville Road. 9:30 AM Bible class. 10:30 AM worship period. 5:00 PM worship period.

 

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

 

- Eric Parker

2 Corinthians 7:13-16

Friday, June 08, 2018

“And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I was not put to shame; but as we spoke all things to you in truth, so also our boasting before Titus proved to be the truth. His affection abounds all the more toward you, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. I rejoice that in everything I have confidence in you.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

“I have confidence in you” (verse 16). Those are some of the most encouraging words that anyone could say or hear. Teachers instill a great amount of confidence within their students, when they let the children know that they are confident in their efforts and abilities. Bosses lift their employees’ morale and empower them to produce quality and quantity when they speak words of trust and assurance. When Children know that their parents are confident that they can and will make the best choices and do the right things, the greater the chances are that they will flourish in all of life’s endeavors.

 

The Corinthian Christians where Paul’s “children in the faith” (1 Corinthians 4:15). In spite of all their spiritual staggering and stumbling, Paul let them know that he knew they could do it! That they could learn and grow and mature in the faith, and be the kind of people and congregation that the Lord wanted them to be. They gave Paul good reason for this hope by their willingness to address and correct the sinful behavior that he had brought to their attention. It refreshed Titus’ spirit when he realized that the brethren had received Paul’s instructions and reprimands so well, and that also comforted the Apostle (verse 13).

 

God has confidence that you can do what is right in His sight if you so desire! And, He will help you greatly if you will only make the effort and try your best (Philippians 2:12-13). No matter how many times you have fallen down in the past, get back up and get back into the fracas (to quote Dee Bowman)! If you haven’t even begun to fight, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8). I know you can do it!!!

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 8:1-6 for tomorrow.

 

Have a blessed day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 7:5-13

Thursday, June 07, 2018

“For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more. For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while—I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the offender nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God. For this reason we have been comforted.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Sometimes sorrow is good. We live in a permissive society that encourages leniency and “safe spaces” and very little personal accountability for actions and appreciation of the consequences for poor choices. But, we do no one any favors, including ourselves, when we choose to be unremorseful for doing foolish, harmful, sinful things. We need to be sorry when we do wrong. The Corinthian church had permitted a very sinful situation to persist without trying to intervene by chastising and punishing the erring brother (1 Corinthians 5:1-13). When Paul reprimanded them for that, they had true remorse.

 

But sorrow should only be a small, initial turn in the direction of a complete about-face. If sorrow does not lead to repentance, then it is just wasted emotion (verse 9). When guilt, shame and sorrow motivate us to make positive, righteous changes in our lives, those are godly strides in the direction of salvation (verse 10). But when we are just sorry that we got caught, and have no real desire to redirect our steps toward the “will of God”, that is only “the sorrow of the world” that “produces death”. For all of their flaws and foibles, the church at Corinth is a good example for us to follow in this matter. They had a great “longing” and “zeal” to repent and do the right thing (verse 11).

 

Sorrow is only healthy when it lasts “for a while” (verse 8). Once God has pricked our heart with the sad truth, and we repent and turn from our sinful ways, we are forgiven. Obviously, if we’ve never been baptized for the forgiveness or our sins, we need to do that as well. But once God has forgiven us, we need to forgive ourselves and “go on our way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). A true, blood-bought, born-again Christian should understand that he has been given heaven’s greatest blessing when he is rescued by God’s forgiveness through the gift of “the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13). Godly sorrow leads to repentance that produces salvation and joy!!!

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 7:13-16 for tomorrow.

 

Have a great day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 7:1-4

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Make room for us in your hearts; we wronged no one, we corrupted no one, we took advantage of no one. I do not speak to condemn you, for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together. Great is my confidence in you; great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort; I am overflowing.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

“God has granted to us his precious and magnificent promises” through His faithful Son and His trustworthy word (2 Peter 1:4). Among the greatest of these promises is that God will dwell in us and walk among us and be our God and we will be His people (2 Corinthians 6:16). “‘And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:7). I can think of nothing more comforting than to know that I can call as my Father, the God who created the heavens and the earth, even the entire universe. As His precious child I can trust Him to take care of me and bless me and give me all the riches of heaven for eternity.

 

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleans ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit…” Our sense of gratitude and indebtedness should prompt us to “clean” our lives up just as much as we can. What are the things that you allow to “defile” you? Is it the worldliness that pours forth from the television, radio or internet? Do you watch and listen to obscenities, crude humor, sexual innuendo, negativity, etc.? When we allow garbage to go into us, garbage will (stay in us, and) come out of us. Maybe books or magazines or worldly friends are having an ungodly influence.

 

Paul warns about the defilements “of flesh and spirit”. Even things that we consider to be spiritual in nature can be displeasing to God and corrupting to our souls. There is a lot of “entertainment” in the religious world today that is being pawned off as “worship”. Do you try to worship God in ways that you like and make you feel good, or do you try your very best to worship God in the ways that the New Testament reveals that are pleasing to Him? Do you think that a “concert atmosphere” with bands playing and people singing and dancing and strobe lights flashing is authorized, truthful and respectful worship to God?

 

God expects us to grow and learn and move on to maturity by “perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” The Lord doesn’t expect us to be perfect. But He does demand us to take Him, His word and His worship very seriously. He expects us to live our lives in purity and in “fear” of Him. That word fear can mean “respect” or “reverence”, and it can also mean “terror”. If we obey and honor and respect our “Father”, we will never have to live in fear (terror) of Him. But if we do not, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 7:5-13 for tomorrow.

 

Stay holy my friends!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 6:11-18

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

“Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. Now in a like exchange—I speak as to children—open wide to us also. Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,’ says the Lord. ‘AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you,

And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ Says the Lord Almighty.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Paul was greatly saddened by the fact that he had opened his heart up to the brethren in Corinth, and many of them had stomped on it. He felt great love and affection for them, but they were being swooned by the influences of manipulative and opportunistic people (verse 12). Paul was the “father” who had begotten them by the Gospel (1 Corinthians 4:15), and yet they childishly spurned his legitimate care for their soul’s salvation. Their willingness to give heed to the seductive words of false teachers made for an unholy “partnership” (verse 14), and they were in dire need of repentance and separation.

 

The warning for us is to beware of the strong influences of worldly people, things and situations. God’s people should be lights that shine in the world (Matthew 5:14-16). Light has no “fellowship” with darkness, but even “exposes” the unfruitful deeds that are done in the blackness of sin (Ephesians 5:11). Christ has no harmony with “Belial” (“worthlessness,” “extreme wickedness” – likely a reference to Satan). Just so, no believer has much spiritually in common with an unbeliever (verse 15), other than the need for a Savior.

 

God considers His people (collectively and individually) to be His holy temple (verse 16). God dwells in us and walks among us (verse 16), if we “come out from their midst” and allow the word of God to sanctify us and set us apart from the world and to His Son (verse 17). It is the most blessed privilege of all to be called a spiritual son or daughter of “the Lord Almighty” (verse 18). But that honor demands a different way of thinking, talking and living.

 

Is there a noticeable (righteous) difference between our words and actions and that of the people of the world at large? God is watching, and He knows who belongs to Him!

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 7:1-4 for tomorrow.

 

Blessings!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Monday, June 04, 2018

“And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—for He says, ‘AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.’ Behold, now is ‘THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,’ behold, now is ‘THE DAY OF SALVATION’—giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

“Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation” (verse 2). There will be no more convenient time to become a Christian (Acts 24:25). There is no guaranteed that any of us will have any additional time than what we have today to do what we need to do to secure our eternity. The best time to obey God is NOW! God sent His Son Jesus into the world at just the perfect time to offer salvation to all of humanity (Galatians 4:4). We need to take advantage of the time that God gives us and spend it in undivided attention and service to Him. There will be no time for excuses on Judgment Day!

 

Paul’s greatest defense for himself was that he gave “no offense in anything” to the people in Corinth (verse 3). They knew from firsthand experience all the difficulties that he experienced while spreading the Good News, from a heart of love, throughout the region. In spite of Paul’s afflictions, hardships, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, sleeplessness, hunger,” he maintained his “purity, patience, kindness, genuine love, righteousness” (verses 4-7).

 

A life spent in faithful devotion to the Lord can be quite an amazing paradox indeed! When we are dishonored by the people we try to help, we are glorified by God (verse 8)! When we “kill ourselves” in service to Him, we live in Him (verse 9)! At the moments that would typify grief and sorrow, we can rejoice in our Savior and our salvation (verse 10)! In Christ Jesus, we can be impoverished and even penniless, but in possession of all the riches of heaven! What a glorious conundrum!

 

There is no better life and no greater honor than to be a faithful Christian!

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 6:11-18 for tomorrow.

 

Have a great day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Sunday, June 03, 2018

“Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature” (verse 17). When Nicodemus came to talk to Jesus by night, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ (John 3:3). To be “in Christ” is to adopt a whole new worldview. When a person is truly “renewed” in Christ, he becomes a “new creation” (Galatians 6:15), and sees things through a completely different set of lenses. “The old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”

 

While it is true that “God loves me just the way that I am,” He loves me way too much to allow me to stay that way! He wants to change me, improve me, mold me, remake me into something more beautiful and useful to Him and His kingdom. He wants me to adopt the characteristics of His Son Jesus by molding my life after the pattern and example that He left with His life on earth. “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

 

Paul is using the terminology of “true conversion” in today’s passage. A change that leads to “reconciliation” with God (verses 20-21), and a new life of “righteousness…in Him” (verse 21). Jesus bore the weight of our sins on Calvary’s cross to intercede on our behalf, and restore our relationship to God the Father that sin had fractured. As babes in Christ, born again by the blood of the Lamb, we are to no longer live our lives as servants of sin and self, but as servants of righteousness and God (Romans 6:19).

 

Eric Parker wrote: “Paul was clearly establishing that Christians die to the world when they are converted. They do not take stock in appearances, which is the exact opposite approach as the false teachers leading the Corinthians astray. He also makes a claim to being an eyewitness of Jesus’ activities just as the other apostles were (cf. 2 Pet. 1:16-21). The old manner of looking at men has passed away and the Corinthians were guilty of sin by acknowledging people through that manner. We become new creatures in Christ with a new plan and aim.”

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 for tomorrow.

 

You are invited to worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ!

 

3741 Taylorsville Road. 9:30 AM Bible class. 10:30 AM worship period. 5:00 PM worship period.

 

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 5:11-15

Saturday, June 02, 2018

“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”


---End of Scripture Verses---

 

“The love of Christ controls us” (verse 14). Paul dedicated his life to serving the Lord and saving people’s souls because Jesus “died for all”. Jesus paid the ultimate price and performed the ultimate act of love for humanity when He lay down is life for us. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:13-14). God came to this earth in the form of a man to live for, serve and die for every person that has ever existed. That expression of love demands our complete and utter surrender to the will of our Savior and Master.

 

As we can see, Jesus is a very demanding friend. He said that we are only his friends if we do whatever He expects us to do. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). When someone truly understands who Jesus is and the eternal life that He provides for them, then they will realize that “they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (verse 15).

 

Does the Love of Christ control you? Who do you live for? We may refuse to ignore those questions for a while on earth. But we must give an answer when we all “appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (verse 10).

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 for tomorrow.

 

Have a great day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 5:6-10

Friday, June 01, 2018

“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord — for we walk by faith, not by sight — we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Faith gives us “courage” (verse 8) and faith gives us “ambition” (verse 9). Faith gives us the courage to say, “No matter what may happen to me on this earth, I will serve the God of heaven. Even if I must die because of my strong convictions, that only means that I will ‘be at home with the Lord’ all the sooner.” When we “walk by faith, not by sight” (verse 7), we do not need to see the outcome with our eyes to know the certainty of our eternal inheritance.

 

Faith gives us the ambition to live our lives to please the Lord, no matter what our outward circumstances may be. Our first, last and ultimate goal should be to think and talk and act in ways that glorify our Father in heaven and bring Him delight and not grief. And if delight cannot motivate us to walk in ways that please the Lord, then fear is a satisfactory provocation instead. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…” (verse 10). God is going to hold us ALL accountable for the way that we live our lives!

 

“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men” (verse 11). Whatever it takes to persuade us to faithfully and obediently serve the Lord, so be it. There is just too much on the line to not get this right before we stand before the bar on high. Eternity, life or death, heaven or hell are hanging in the balance. Please make the determination to get “ambitious” about your eternity.

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 5:11-15 for tomorrow.

 

Have a great day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 5:1-5

Thursday, May 31, 2018

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” The “outer man” is the “earthen vessel” (2 Corinthians 4:7) and the “earthly tent” or “tabernacle”. When this physical “house” we dwell in is finally “torn down”, we have a “building from God…eternal in the heavens” (verse 1). A “tent” is a flimsy, temporary place for lodging, whereas a “building” is a sound, solid, permanent dwelling place. When Christ returns for His own, God will set us up in the most glorious high-rise you could ever imagine!

 

Until that day, “we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven” (verse 2). Even though we have already “put on the new self,” created in the “likeness of God” (Ephesians 4:24); we still yearn for the final and complete transformation, when the “perishable shall put on the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:53). Our groans are sometimes negative and painful as we experience the bumps and bruises of life on planet Earth. And sometimes they are positive and hopeful as we contemplate the beauty and splendor of heaven that awaits us as faithful servants of the Most High God.

 

As we patiently anticipate that more excellent nature and eternal dwelling, we can rest assured that God’s promises are always steadfast and true. He has given His children “the Spirit as a pledge” (verse 5) until that day. A pledge is an “earnest” or “down payment” until the final transaction takes place. But we can have much more confidence in this pledge than we can in some “earnest money” that might be given in good faith when someone signs a contract to buy a piece of earthly real estate that we own. God has given us His Holy Spirit as a GUARANTEE of an eternal estate that is much more REAL than any earthly dwelling place could ever promise to be.

 

Our guarantee is this: “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.’” (1 Corinthians 15:52-54)

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 for tomorrow.

 

Have a blessed day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Our outer, “earthen vessels” are decaying. About that there can be no doubt. Because sin entered the world, (physical) deterioration and death are an inevitability, unless the Lord returns first. But the great news is that our “inner man” can be “renewed day by day”! God strengthens His children spiritually according to His word and by His word (Psalm 119:28). He gives us the strength to endure trials and temptations by His grace. He encourages and edifies us when we worship Him (alone or in the assembly) in spirit and in truth.

 

Isaiah 40:29-31 – “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” We can do all (good) things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

 

But we must look at the things which are not seen instead of the things that are visible (verse 18). It is estimated that only 10 to 20% of an iceberg can be seen from the surface. That means 80 to 90% is submerged and not within our range of vision. There is a lot more to our surroundings than we can physically see, and the things that cannot be seen are often the most substantive. Our God, He is alive! He is real and He is all-powerful! We don’t have to see Him to believe it by faith and to know it to be true.

 

When we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), all of the pain and turmoil of life on earth can be seen as “momentary, light affliction” (verse 17). When we serve the Lord in obedient faith, He will wield His power mightily within our lives (Ephesians 3:20)! After His death and resurrection, Jesus ascended back to the Father in order to prepare a place for His faithful followers (John 14:1-3). When He returns He will take us to our eternal, ethereal home that we can see through the eyes of faith and by belief in His promises!

 

Please reads 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 for tomorrow.

 

Have a great day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 4:13-15

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

“But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,’ we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Quoting Eric Parker today:

 

“What Christians must realize is that true conversion brings unmatched responsibility. Our reception of God’s message, if true, necessitates our personal sharing of that message. Faithful is the saying, ‘Having the cure to cancer benefits no one if the cure is not shared.’ In the first direct Old Testament quotation from the letter, Paul demonstrated that inherent desire: ‘I believed, therefore I spoke.’

 

“Paul’s sense of selflessness is dramatic in this section. Elsewhere Paul expresses this powerful affection by offering his own life to spare his brethren (Rom. 9:3). Paul possessed a hope beyond the grave and as a result offered that hope in every conversation. Paul was the type of person who always started the conversation with, and directed that conversation to the spiritual kingdom. Paul’s hope and confidence for the Corinthians was their fellow presentation before God, but that presentation was predicated upon the expulsion of the ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ among the church at Corinth. Paul’s selfless endeavor for the brethren was ultimately an effort to bring thanksgiving to God through their mutual proliferation of the gospel.”

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 for tomorrow.

 

Have a super day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 4:7-12

Monday, May 28, 2018

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

The Apostle Paul switches metaphors in verse 7. In verse 6 he referred to “the knowledge of God” as pure, powerful, glorious light from the Father in heaven. Now he calls the Gospel Truth “treasure”. The life-changing, life-saving word of God is the most precious treasure that could ever be made available to humankind. All of the precious metals and substances that can be retrieved from the ground will corrupt over time and perish with the earth. But the precious gift that God sent down from heaven will endure and can save us for all eternity.

 

Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven in two short parables from Matthew 13:44-46. “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” When you discover the Truth, you find the greatest of treasure and most precious of pearls that are worth selling everything else to acquire the purchase price of the kingdom.

 

This “treasure” that Paul and his companions were sharing was contained in “earthen vessels”. It was common for people of that place and era to store their valuables in clay jars and bury them in the ground for safe keeping. Paul knew that he (his “mortal flesh” {verse 11}) was just a vessel for the storing and distributing of the treasure that God had entrusted him with. The “surpassing greatness of the power” of God for salvation was in the message, not the earthen container. Paul’s vessel was beaten, bruised and battered, yet carried on because the priceless message that produces “life in you” (verse 12) is inviolable and indestructible.

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 4:13-15 for tomorrow.

 

Have a blessed day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Sunday, May 27, 2018

“Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

The Apostle Paul had “received mercy” (verse 1) from God so he extended it to others. He wrote in 1 Timothy 1:12-14: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.” Paul always felt indebted to God and his fellowman because of the love, grace and mercy extended to him by the Lord. God continued to strengthen him by His mercy and grace as he carried out the “ministry” that had been entrusted to him.

 

“We have renounced the hidden things because of shame” (verse 2). To “renounce” something is to disown it, refuse it, deny it. And not just to refrain from do something, but to speak out boldly against it. Paul had such conviction and esteem for the Truth, that he willingly, vehemently and vocally renounced all religious error, and the deceitfulness and craftiness of anyone who tried to make merchandise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 2:17). Do you take a visible and vocal stand for the Truth? Is there anything in your life that you hide from the world because of shame?

 

“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:20-23)

 

“Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing” (verse 3). People who refuse to believe and obey the truth are spiritually lost and eternally damned. We don’t like to think about that too much because it makes us uncomfortable. The truth can be painful but it must be embraced or we will never find the motivation to teach “Christ Jesus as Lord” to lost people. Paul calls Satan, “the god of this world” in verse 4. 1 John 5:19 tells us, “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” All who refuse to love God and obey the Gospel are under Satan’s influence. There is no middle ground or third option. We are either all in with the devil or all in with God.

 

I CHOOSE GOD!!!

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 for tomorrow.

 

Please consider worshiping God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ!

3741 Taylorsville Road. 9:30 AM Bible class. 10:30 AM worship period. 5:00 PM worship period.

 

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Saturday, May 26, 2018

“Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Wow! What a sublime passage of inspired Scripture! Go back and read these verses again and just let them sink in. Let’s read what Eric wrote in his lesson book about this passage:

 

“Paul’s conclusion to his former argument prefaces chapter 4. He calls together the evangelists of the new covenant as administers of the gospel of righteousness. Being entrusted with the gospel was a gift of mercy for Paul and Timothy – so it remains an expression of God’s mercy for all workers in the kingdom. They could have lost heart because of the false allegations being made against them; they could have given up and made shipwreck of the faith like others had; but they pressed on. As he faced the heretical men at Corinth, he speaks candidly about their true motives – they adulterated the word of God (cf. 2:17). The motives of a God-fearing man were seen in the emptying of oneself to his brothers and sisters through the distribution of God’s most precious gift.

 

“Paul utilizes diatribe beginning in v. 3 by addressing the response of the false teachers without even needing to hear their arguments. The accusation of a veiled gospel is answered by demonstrating that the veil only appeared when people were unwilling to accept the pure milk of the Word (cf. 3:15f). Satan drew the veil as he and his cohorts disguised themselves (cf. 11:13-15) as apostles of Christ and servants of righteousness. In stark contrast, Paul and those without the veil were given the light of the gospel, which illumined their path to God.”

 

Let’s stay with these same 6 verses for tomorrow. I would like to add some additional observations as well. Read verses 1-6 again and we will delve a little deeper into the details on Sunday, Lord willing.

 

Have a super day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 3:12-18

Friday, May 25, 2018

“Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Quoting what Eric Parker wrote in his workbook about these verses today:

 

“Paul begins to draw the analogy out to force the proper conclusion on the part of the Corinthian brethren. He identifies that the supremacy of the new covenant is founded upon ‘hope’. Because of that hope, Paul and his fellow laborers in the gospel could speak boldly about the inferiority of the old covenant. Moses was exalted nearly to the level of deity at this time among the Jews, yet they did not understand that Moses was a servant of a restrictive contract.

 

“The preachers of the new covenant are far superior because they give man the free gift of hope, the promise of eternal life through the forgiveness of sins. Due to a failure to recognize the limited scope of the old covenant, many hearts were hardened in Israel and no doubt this remains true today. The propagation of false teaching in the religious world today is in great part due to a failure to comprehend the distinction between the old covenant and the new covenant (e.g. tithing, observing the Decalogue in the same manner as the Israelites, etc.). <<<I would add worshiping with manmade musical instruments as well>>>

 

“Any person can overcome this veiling of the heart by turning to the Lord (cf. Rom. 8:1f). In turning to Jesus, a person attains the ability to observe His commandments and worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). Paul concludes this section by a call to remembrance of the tie that bound them together as Christians – the ability to comprehend Christ’s glory as in a mirror. Blessed are those who will comprehend that glory face to face in Heaven!”

 

I would just add that we can only be transformed into the spiritual image of Christ by looking “intently at the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25), and allowing that living, active, sharp word to sculpt us into sanctified vessels of honor. We will only bear the image of our Savior if we prove ourselves to be “doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). It is only when we spend considerable time in the word (the New Testament and the Old Testament), that the Lord’s image will be transferred onto us in a way that will be noticeable to the people that we come into contact with.

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 for tomorrow.

 

Have a wonderful day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 3:7-11

Thursday, May 24, 2018

“But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Paul had stated in the previous two verses, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” God had made Paul adequate, as an inspired Apostle of Jesus Christ, to teach the truth that saves people’s souls.

 

He was not like other teachers in the church at Corinth who “peddled the word of God” (2 Corinthians 2:17). He taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ from a heart and mind of purity (of motives) and sincerity (of love). It seems obvious from these verses that those unscrupulous teachers were not only making merchandise of God’s word, but they were also teaching it falsely. They evidently taught the Law of Moses as being a part of the Gospel of Christ (or vice versa).

 

This is one of the most clearly stated passages of Scripture that teach us that God’s former covenant with Israel, including the Law of Moses, are no longer in effect today. When Paul refers to “letters engraved on stones,” and to “the face of Moses” that shined with glory; there can be no doubt that he is writing about the 10 Commandments issued by God on Mount Sanai, and the entire Mosaic Law that it came to represent (Read Exodus 34:29-35).

 

The Law of Moses is called “the ministry of death” and “the ministry of condemnation” because it identified sin, but provided no means of taking those sins away. “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM’” (Galatians 3:10).

 

Please don’t misunderstand. The Law of Moses was adequate for God’s people who lived under it and endeavored to keep it as best that they possibly could. Paul even wrote in today’s text that it “had glory” (verse 9). The glory of that covenant and law are just greatly surpassed by the glory of our covenant and law in Christ Jesus. It is written of Christ in Hebrews 9:15, “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

 

Those who loved and obeyed God through the Law of Moses with a good heart and pure conscience were forgiven by the blood of Christ (not by the blood of the animals sacrificed) just like we are. But the point is, why would anyone want to go back to something that is inferior and “incomplete” when we have the fulfillment and completion of that old law in Christ Jesus himself and our covenant with Him? The Law of Moses was a constant reminder that God’s people needed their Messiah Savior and the forgiveness that only He could provide. Since He has come in fulfillment of the “Law and the Prophets”, He surpassed and superseded it.

 

Eric boiled this all down excellently to one paragraph in his lesson book: “The old covenant was a ‘ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones.’ Despite this inferiority, its origin was in God and therefore possessed divine glory. This foretaste of an even greater glory became obsolete by the ratification of the new covenant. Paul begins to suggest the diminishing nature of this glory that should have been understood by the sons of Israel through their experience with Moses. If the old covenant came with death and condemnation, and the new covenant came with life and immortality, how much greater glory would it possess?”

 

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4)

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 for tomorrow.

 

Have a great day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 3:1-6

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Quoting Eric Parker on today’s verses. I don’t think I can improve any on what he wrote in his lesson book. First his commentary on verses 1-3:

 

“Following a vivid word picture to depict the work of Paul and his fellow evangelists (1 Corinthians 2:12-17), he employs yet another for the Corinthians. Paul rebukes the brethren for accepting letters of commendation ‘for some’ while not valuing the direct work of Paul and company amongst the church of God at Corinth. Paul’s entourage possessed a superior letter composed of the brethren at Corinth and written upon the evangelists’ hearts. They were ‘letters of Christ, cared for’ by Paul and friends, ‘written with the Spirit of the living God’ (v. 3).

 

“Letters of commendation were not unusual among the ancients (e.g. the Zenon Papyri 2026). Letters of commendation were also not unusual in the NT (e.g. Acts 9:2 // 22:5; cf. also Acts 18:27f; Rom. 16:1f; 1 Cor. 16:10f; 2 Cor. 8:16-24; Col. 4:7-9). Letters of commendation were typically given in cases of unfamiliarity; consequently, the accusatory teachers were relatively unknown to the brethren. Paul, on the other hand, required no such letters because of his intimate connection with the church. Thus their requirement for him to present these letters is nonsensical.”

 

Now Eric’s commentary on verses 4-6:

 

“The evangelists’ confidence was grounded in the Lord. While the Corinthians may have supplanted the year and a half Paul spent with them (Acts 18:11) with slanderous lies, Christ never would. Yet, Paul and his compatriots did not take undue credit: ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth’ (1 Cor. 3:6). Paul had no qualms about recognizing the Lord’s purpose for him. Paul and the other teachers were vessels of honor, profitable to God (2 Tim. 2:20f). We should never faint under the accusations of the enemy; moreover, we must recognize their source is Satan himself. His wiles and schemes are ‘under the belt’ and he will use whatever means available to defame our character and muckrake God’s servants. Paul’s role (and ours!) is to serve ‘a new covenant of life and Spirit.’”

 

We will look at “the letter that kills” and “the Spirit that gives life” (verse 6) in tomorrow’s reading.

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 3:7-11 for tomorrow.

 

Have a great day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

“Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia. But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Paul used the time that he gave the Corinthians (to work out their issues and repent of their sins) to go about and preach and teach the Gospel. A “door” of opportunity was “opened” for him to do the Lord’s work (verse 12). There is no “idle” or “down” time for the faithful child of God. We should always be looking for opportunities to do good works, and the Lord will always make them available to us if we just keep our eyes open for them.

 

Paul’s spirit was restless, anxiously wanting to meet with Titus and hear his report as to whether the brethren were receptive to Paul’s warnings and admonitions or not (2 Corinthians 7:5-6; 11:28). Paul loved his brothers and sisters in Christ so intensely that he was hanging on what their response would be to his message. The Good News that Paul had spread throughout Troas and Macedonia and Achaia (to the brethren in Corinth), was a “sweet aroma” that ultimately led souls to “triumph in Christ” over sin and death and Satan and hell (verse 14).

 

“For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (verse 15). When someone preaches or teaches the truth to the lost people of the word, they are a “sweet smelling savor to God.” This is the Old Testament language of animal sacrifices that were “pleasing to the Lord.” Paul is telling us here that, when we teach the truth to others, whether they believe it and accept it or reject it and ignore, the Lord is pleased with us and our efforts, and the love and concern we have for the people He created in His own image.

 

“And who is adequate for these things” (verse 16). Paul is admitting his own personal inadequacy to undertake such an enormous task of securing the eternal salvation of immortal souls. And yet, this is the very thing that he had dedicated his life to. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:4, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.” Unlike other (false) teachers who were “peddling the word of God,” Paul and his companions taught the word in “sincerity” and truth and love for humanity (verse 17). God not only makes those who love the truth (like Paul) ADEQUATE to teach it, He also OBLIGATES us to teach it (Romans 1:14)!

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 3:1-6 for tomorrow.

 

Have a blessed day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 2:5-11

Monday, May 21, 2018

“But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree— in order not to say too much—to all of you. Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did It for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Paul appears to be writing about the brother who was openly engaged in gross fornication recorded in 1 Corinthians chapter 5. There he had instructed the brethren to “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5). It is obvious that they obeyed his directive, but they had not understood the importance of welcoming and receiving him back once he had turned from his sin in godly sorrow.

 

We are reminded again of the reason for and goal of church discipline. When an erring Christian refuses to repent, he is to be handed over to his wicked ways so that he can feel the full sting and repercussions of his sinfulness. But, if and when he does repent, he is to be welcomed back with loving arms into the fold of safety. The desired end result of punishment is repentance and restoration, so that an eternal “spirit may be saved.”

 

When someone has been “delivered to Satan” and then he repents, he will be “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” if he is not received and restored to his proper place in his spiritual family. Godly sorrow is good and profitable, but the “sorrow of the world” is excessive and unproductive and only “produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Excessive, worldly sorrow is one of Satan’s tools, not the Lords. If we refuse to “reaffirm our love” for a once-fallen brother who needs to be restored, Satan will use that to his advantage to completely discourage such a person in the hopes that he will absolutely abandon his faith.

 

The long and short of it is this: We need to forgive people when they repent and ask for forgiveness. I am reminded of what Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 18:21-22: “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’ Again Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

 

Paul even went beyond forgiveness when he told his brethren to “forgive and comfort him” (verse 7). We need to let a repentant Christian know that we not only ALLOW him back into the fold, but we LOVE him and WANT him back more than anything! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

 

The angels in heaven rejoice when a fallen brother returns to his senses and to His God! So should we!

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 2:12-17 for tomorrow.

 

Have a great day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 2:1-4

Sunday, May 20, 2018

“But I determined this for my own sake, that I would not come to you in sorrow again. For if I cause you sorrow, who then makes me glad but the one whom I made sorrowful? This is the very thing I wrote you, so that when I came, I would not have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice; having confidence in you all that my joy would be the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you.”

 

---End of Scripture verses---

 

Paul delayed his visit to Corinth for the brethren’s sake, so they would have time to work out some issues they were having, and repent of the sins that were plaguing them. We learn from today’s verses that he also postponed his arrival for his own sake. The apostle understood the value of good timing when it came to the very important issues of life. I think we can all understand that there is an appropriate time for grieving and healing, and that celebrations should sometimes be deferred.

 

Paul wanted his visit to the city of Corinth to be marked by joy and not sorrow. So, for his own sake, so that he would not be consumed by grief at his arrival, he waited with the confidence that his brethren would do the right thing and repent of their sins and work out their own salvation (Philippians 2:12). Paul did not enjoy rebuking and disciplining his beloved brethren in Christ. But, anyone who has ever raised children understands how correction is both a disturbing and necessary thing. Even though chastisement and corrective discipline are not enjoyable, they must not be avoided if we want our children to grow to be mature, responsible, accountable adults.

 

Sinfulness must be addressed and not ignored in the Lord’s church because eternity is hanging in the balances. I know the tendency is to disregard sin and not “offend” anyone or cause a big “disturbance”. But if we ignore unrighteousness, souls can be lost and congregations can be destroyed. “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). Sin is a very big deal friends! Paul used strong words to convey this truth. He was filled with sorrow because of it, and wrote out of “much affliction and anguish of heart” (verse 4)! Can sin still grieve us? Or have we allowed the bombardment of the media to callous our hearts to the shamefulness of iniquity and transgression?

 

The good news is that godly sorrow and true repentance lead to elation and rejoicing!

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 for tomorrow.

 

Please come worship God in spirit and truth with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ!

 

3741 Taylorsville Road. 9:30 AM Bible class. 10:30 AM worship period. 5:00 PM worship period.

 

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 1:15-24

Saturday, May 19, 2018

“In this confidence I intended at first to come to you, so that you might twice receive a blessing; that is, to pass your way into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and by you to be helped on my journey to Judea. Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I? Or what I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, so that with me there will be yes, yes and no, no at the same time? But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us — by me and Silvanus and Timothy — was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. But I call God as witness to my soul, that to spare you I did not come again to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.”

 

---End of Scripture verses---

 

Paul is essentially saying here that he was not the kind of person that talked out of both sides of his mouth. His yes meant yes and his no meant no. In other words, he meant exactly what he said. But when he had previously purposed to come to Corinth to see his brethren, he changed his plans in order “to spare” them (verse 23). He didn’t want to come to them with the heavy hand of discipline, so he gave them the opportunity to work out some of their problems, with the hope that his eventual visit would be one of joy and not sorrow.

 

Paul didn’t make his plans and promises in a whimsical way, nor should we. We should always strive to be people who mean what we say and say what we mean. Jesus said, “Let your statement be, 'Yes, yes ' or 'No , no'; anything beyond these is of evil” (Matthew 5:37). The Lord is teaching us here that if we are people of our word we will never have to swear about anything. But, inevitably, sometimes we must do things differently than what we originally intended. Paul’s change of plans was actually made in the best interests of the Corinthians, even though some of the brethren slandered him for it.

 

Quoting Eric Parker from his workbook again:

 

“One of the worst challenges we may face is slander. In fact, according to the U.S. judicial system, slander is a crime! The Apostles were not exempted from experiencing those ills. Paul’s undefiled conscience caused him to long to be with the brethren, but their response to him in the form of false allegations prevented him. Elsewhere, Paul and his companions were prevented from coming by the Spirit (e.g. Acts 16:6f) or by Satan (1 Thess. 2:18), but this was a deliberate choice made in an effort to ‘spare’ the brethren.

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 2:1-4 for tomorrow.

 

Have a great day!

2 Corinthians 1:12-14

Friday, May 18, 2018

“For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you. For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end; just as you also partially did understand us, that we are your reason to be proud as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.”

 

Quoting Eric Parker’s workbook for today’s verses, accompanied by the 2 questions he asked for these verses in Bible class:

 

“Paul had tremendous pride in all of the disciples he brought to Christ. He hoped also that his disciples would have pride in him. This was not the condemnable trait of sinful egotism, but rather a joy found in the digging, planting, watering, and harvesting of God’s crops. Christ prayed for the unity of those whom His apostles would teach (John 17), but we see here again that Paul is on the defensive. He offers his own undefiled conscience (cf. Acts 23:1 and the additional traits of ‘holiness,’ ‘godly sincerity,’ and ‘in the grace of God’ in this passage) as his testimony (Gk: marturion) against the plaintiff false teachers.”

 

Question 1) How could Paul boast in himself, without it being a sin?

 

Question 2) When is the “day of our Lord Jesus”?

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 1:15-24 for tomorrow.

 

- Louie Taylor 

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Thursday, May 17, 2018

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

“We do not want you to be unaware” (verse 8). We cannot afford to be “ignorant” when it comes to the word and will of God! Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, went to great lengths to keep people informed about the spiritual things that were pertinent to their soul’s wellbeing and salvation. He informed the Corinthians that he had often suffered greatly while teaching and preaching the truth in the province of Asia. Paul was exposed to great harm at the instigation of Demetrius the silversmith in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41); and he went as far as to say that he “fought with wild beasts” while he was staying in that city (1 Corinthians 15:32). He willingly risked his health and life to help people learn the truth and go to heaven, and people need to know about that.

 

Paul said that he and his companions were “burdened excessively, beyond our strength” (verse 9). Sometimes the burdens of life are just too great to bear by our own strength. That’s why the Apostle Paul tells us to, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). The truth is that we all need help sometimes when we are overloaded with a world of troubles and concerns. God has given us our brothers and sisters in Christ to help alleviate the weight and the pain. And, when we are burdened beyond our own ability to endure, that’s when it becomes clearly evident to us that only God’s strength can see us through (verse 10). And, even if we have to die for our faith in Christ, we can depend on the Almighty God of heaven to raise us from the dead by His awesome power and take us home to be with Him forever.

 

“You also joining in helping us through your prayers” (verse 11). We see the value, once again, of our spiritual family in Christ, to help keep us afloat when we feel ourselves sinking under the weight of our burdens. One thing that every one of us can do for a brother or sister in Christ who has fallen upon hard times, is pray for them. James 5:16 tells us that the effective prayer of a righteous man (person) accomplishes much. We can be brought safely through the storms of life through the providence of God and the prayers of good brethren.

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 1:12-14 for tomorrow.

 

Have a great day!

 

- Louie Taylor

2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.”

 

---End of Scripture Verses---

 

Paul’s opening statement is taken from the department of redundancy department. The word “comfort” is used 10 times in just 5 verses! Why do you think that is so? Did Paul not have a thesaurus handy and could think of no other word to use? Of course I am trying to be funny and of course there are no words that have accidentally found their way into the canon of Holy Scripture. The inspired Apostle is greatly emphasizing the fact that we have a God in heaven who loves and cares for us, and wants only what is best for us, and that we can always depend on Him to be there for us to comfort and carry us through life’s difficult moments.

 

As God comforts us in our times of trial, He also equips us with the experience and ability to comfort other people when they incur afflictions as well. Eric Parker wrote in his lesson book: “The basic theme of this first subsection is the unparalleled ability to comfort, of which God is the Possessor. The opening theme is no doubt an example for Corinth to follow, an admonition to the brethren, and an exhortation following Paul’s rebuke in earlier letters. The comfort that God possesses is to be replicated by His followers as we realize that God helped us in our hour of affliction. Paul has no qualms about calling the Corinthians to this service, nor should we.”

 

The Greek word for “comfort” is “paraklesis” and it means “a calling to one’s side” (Vine’s). This comes from the same family of words from which we get the word “Comforter” (parakletos). The Holy Spirit and Jesus are both referred to as “Comforters” in the New Testament (1 John 14:15-16). As the revelator of inspired Scripture, the Holy Spirit comforts us through the revealed word of God. “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). The word “encouragement” is the Greek word “paraklesis”.

 

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 that God comforts us by His grace. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.” Notice that the comfort that the Lord provides is of the “eternal” variety. No matter what may happen to us in our earthly lives, we can take the greatest of comfort in knowing that, if we remain faithful to God until death, God will give us an eternal inheritance in heaven.

 

2 Thessalonians 2:17 also says that we are comforted “in every good work and word.” I’m not sure if this refers to God’s works and words or our works and words, but it works either way. All of God’s works and words are good, and they provide us with comfort and confidence in Him, and in the knowledge that He is more than capable of taking care of all of our physical and spiritual needs. And when we follow our heavenly Fathers’ example and do and say encouraging things to other people, that is a great source of comfort and edification for the recipients and for ourselves as well.

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 for tomorrow.

 

Have a blessed day!

 

- Louie Taylor

Introduction to 2 Corinthians

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Apostle Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth (which is actually his third {1 Corinthians 5:9}) is probably one of the most neglected, understudied books in all the Bible. I think that is because of the vast difference in the subject matter and writing styles that exists between First and Second Corinthians. In his first letter Paul addressed all sorts of controversies and difficulties the brethren were experiencing in the church there, and he also answered a bunch of interesting questions that the brethren had presented to him. Then you get to Second Corinthians and Paul uses a lot of ink defending himself, his credibility and his apostleship, and he does so, quite often, with a much less direct and comprehensible style of writing.

 

But the book of Second Corinthians is not the lamentation of a spurned Apostle writing from a defensive posture. It is a letter that expresses love, concern and affection for dearly beloved brethren for whom Paul wanted nothing but the best. “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you” (2 Corinthians 2:4). The brethren in Corinth were succumbing to the deceptive and destructive influence of false teachers who were leading them astray, and disparaging the authority of an inspired Apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul wanted to win back their affection in order to properly redirect their wayward steps and save their immortal souls.

 

The following six paragraphs are quoted from a commentary on PDF that I pulled off the internet from the Floral Heights Church of Christ (of which I know nothing about, by the way). I like this “Overview of 2 Corinthians” even though there is no name associated with the document for which to cite the appropriate credit:

 

“Paul's second epistle to the Corinthians sets forth the apostle's great love for the brethren. Everything that Paul did was for the benefit of the Corinthians (see 2 Corinthians 1:6; 2:4; 4:15; 12:14-15, 19). Paul's great desire for these brethren was their spiritual restoration (see 2 Corinthians 13:9). The Corinthians; however, needed to clear three major hurdles to achieve restoration. First, the Corinthians needed to identify and pray for the forgiveness of their sin of being unwilling to forgive one who seeks forgiveness (see 2 Corinthians 2:5-9). Secondly, the Corinthians needed to clear themselves from sharing unlawful affections with unbelievers such as uncleanness, fornication, and lasciviousness (2 Corinthians 6:11ff; 12:21). Thirdly, the Corinthians needed to be restored for being deceived by factious brethren who were teaching false doctrines and making faulty accusations against Paul (see 2 Corinthians 12:19-20; 13:3).

“The beauty of reading 2 Corinthians is that one can clearly see God's expectation for His beloved saints. The saints are those who are obedient in all areas of truth (see 2 Corinthians 2:9). The saint is to be the mirror image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). The saint is to be cleansed from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1). The saint is to be presented to God as a pure virgin in respect to sin (2 Corinthians 11:2). The saint of God is to "do no evil" (2 Corinthians 13:7). The Christian today is expected to be no less perfect than these early New Testament Christians (see Matthew 5:48). There is no sin that God overlooks or excuses without man seeking justification.

 

“A great "device" of Satan is lies (see 2 Corinthians 2:11). There were many ministers of Satan in Corinth who laid claims to being Christian yet their deeds were far from Christ like (see 2 Corinthians 11:13-15). These factious brethren sought to destroy Paul's reputation as an apostle who spoke divine revelation so that the Corinthians would turn away from him. These men accused Paul of being inconsistent (2 Corinthians 1:17), preaching his own ideas (2 Corinthians 3:1; 4:1-6; 5:12; etc.), deluded (2 Corinthians 5:13), a coward (2 Corinthians 10:1, 10), an idiot (2 Corinthians 11:15), not an apostle (2 Corinthians 12:11; 13:3), and that he and Titus were participating in a scam of the brethren (2 Corinthians 12:17-18).

 

“Paul was fearful that the Corinthians would be fully persuaded by these false accusations. Paul wrote, "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3). Again, Paul writes, “For I fear, lest by any means, when I come, I should find you not such as I would, and should myself be found of you such as ye would not; lest by any means there should be strife, jealousy, wraths, factions, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults;” (2 Corinthians 12:20). Paul had great anxiety for the brotherhood of saints (see 2 Corinthians 11:28). He would not sit back idly and do nothing while brethren lost their eternal souls.

 

“To combat the false accusations by the factious brethren of Corinth Paul lowers himself to their tactics. Apparently the factious were boasting of their ancestry and the need for the Corinthians to continue in the Mosaic system as well as the teachings of Christ (very similar to the Acts 15 Jerusalem Conference and the book of Galatians) (see 2 Corinthians 3:4-18; 11:22). Paul boasts not only of his sufferings but also his experience of being transported to the third heaven (see 2 Corinthians 11:22 - 12:6). Paul was in all sense of the word an apostle of Jesus Christ who spoke divine revelation. Paul writes, "I am become foolish: ye compelled me; for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing was I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I am nothing" (2 Corinthians 12:11).

 

“Having proved his apostleship and the error of the factious, there was only one thing left to do. Paul was coming to Corinth and those who would not repent of their sins would not be spared but rather dealt with sharply (see 2 Corinthians 13:1-2, 10). The practical application for the saints today is that we too must "do no evil" (2 Corinthians 13:7). Those who will not be restored to the Lord through teaching, patience, and longsuffering must be dealt with. Paul would not sweep men's sins under a rug of apathy and pretend to be in favor with God. One year had passed between the writings of 1 and 2 Corinthians (2 Corinthians 8:10). Now was the time for the brethren to be either restored or exposed as moving from death unto death (see 2 Corinthians 2:16). Paul concludes by saying, "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfected; be comforted; be of the same mind; live in peace: and the God of love and peace shall be with you" (2 Corinthians 13:11).”

 

Please read 2 Corinthians 1:1-7 for tomorrow.

 

Happy reading and have a blessed day!

 

- Louie Taylor

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