Devotion Text

January 28, 2020

2Cor2- 2020-01-28

  • Journal
  • Commentary: 2 CORINTHIANS 3 – COMMENTARY

    v.2 “Paul contends that he needs no letters with them because they are his letter of commendation. The imagery again is striking. Instead of something written on paper with pen and ink, he pictures a divine letter inscribed on human hearts by the Spirit of the living God. The Corinthians are Paul’s letter to the world, having been engraved on his heart, known and read by everyone.” [1] 

    v.3 “There is a great truth here, which is at once an inspiration and an awful warning—every man is an open letter for Jesus Christ. Every Christian, whether he likes it or not, is an advertisement for Christianity. The honour of Christ is in the hands of his followers. We judge a shopkeeper by the kind of goods he sells; we judge a craftsman by the kind of articles he produces; we judge a Church by the kind of men it creates; and therefore men judge Christ by his followers.”[2] 

    vv.4-11 “The old covenant was a deadly thing, because it produced a legal relationship between God and man. In effect it said, ‘If you wish to maintain your relationship with God, you must keep these laws.’ It thereby set up a situation in which God was essentially judge and man was essentially a criminal, forever in default before the bar of God’s judgment.

    “The old covenant was deadly because it killed certain things. (a) It killed hope. There was never any hope that any man could keep it, human nature being what it is. It therefore could issue in nothing but frustration. (b) It killed life. Under it a man could earn nothing but condemnation; and condemnation meant death. (c) It killed strength. It was perfectly able to tell a man what to do, but it could not help him to do it.

    “The new covenant was quite different. (a) It was a relationship of love. It came into being because God so loved the world. (b) It was a relationship between a father and his sons. Man was no longer the criminal in default, he was the son of God, even if a disobedient son. (c) It changed a man’s life, not by imposing a new code of laws on him, but by changing his heart. (d) It therefore not only told a man what to do but gave him the strength to do it. With its commandments it brought power.

    “Paul goes on to contrast the two covenants. The old covenant was born in glory. When Moses came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments, which are the code of the old covenant, his face shone with such a splendour that no one could look at it (Exodus 34:30). Obviously that was a transient splendour. It did not and it could not last. The new covenant, the new relationship which Jesus Christ makes possible between man and God, has a greater splendour which will never fade because it produces pardon and not condemnation, life and not death.”[3]

    v.12 “He now will contrast his ministry with that of Moses to make the point that if the ministry of the Spirit has a greater splendor, then its ministers can have a greater boldness.

    “They also have a greater hope. ‘Hope’ does not refer, as it generally does in our culture, to some wistful daydream or airy optimism that may have little foundation in reality. Paul is not saying, ‘I hope this is true.’ ‘Hope’ denotes for him a supreme confidence grounded in divine realities (see 3:4).  The hope is so sure that it transforms how one understands and reacts to everything in the present. In this context Paul’s hope, his confidence, is that he serves in the ministry of the Spirit that makes hearts receptive to God. He serves in the ministry of righteousness that justifies sinners and in the ministry that abides forever. Consequently, his ministry is far more glorious than even that of Moses, since he is an instrument that makes the glory of God known to the world. This solid assurance gives him his boldness.”[4]

    vv.13-16 “The idea of the veil now takes hold of Paul’s mind and he uses it in different ways. He says that, when the Jews listen to the reading of the Old Testament, as they do every Sabbath day in the synagogue, a veil upon their eyes keeps them from seeing the real meaning of it. It ought to point them to Jesus Christ, but the veil keeps them from seeing that. We, too, may fail to see the real meaning of scripture because our eyes are veiled.

    “(a) They may be veiled by prejudice. We, too, often go to scripture to find support for our own views rather than to find the truth of God.

    “(b) They may be veiled by wishful thinking. Too often we find what we want to find, and neglect what we do not want to see. To take an example, we may delight in all the references to the love and the mercy of God, but pass over all the references to his wrath and judgment.

    “(c) They may be veiled by fragmentary thinking. We should always regard the Bible as a whole. It is easy to take individual texts and criticize them. It is easy to prove that parts of the Old Testament are sub-Christian. It is easy to find support for private theories by choosing certain texts and passages and putting others aside. But it is the whole message that we must seek; and that is just another way of saying that we must read all scripture in the light of Jesus Christ.

    “(iii) Not only is there a veil which keeps the Jews from seeing the real meaning of scripture; there is also a veil which comes between them and God.

    “(a) Sometimes it is the veil of disobedience. Very often it is moral and not intellectual blindness which keeps us from seeing God. If we persist in disobeying him we become less and less capable of seeing him. The vision of God is to the pure in heart.

    “(b) Sometimes it is the veil of the unteachable spirit. As the Scots saying has it, ‘There’s none so blind as those who winna see.’ The best teacher on earth cannot teach the man who knows it all already and does not wish to learn. God gave us free will, and, if we insist upon our own way, we cannot learn his.

    “(iv) Paul goes on to say that we see the glory of the Lord with no veil upon our faces, and because of that we, too, are changed from glory into glory. Possibly what Paul means is that, if we gaze at Christ, we in the end reflect him. His image appears in our lives. It is a law of life that we become like the people we gaze at. People hero-worship someone and begin to reflect his ways. If we contemplate Jesus Christ, in the end we come to reflect him.”[5]

    v.17 “Where the Spirit is, says Paul, there is liberty. He means that so long as man’s obedience to God is conditioned by obedience to a code of laws he is in the position of an unwilling slave. But when it comes from the operation of the Spirit in his heart, the very centre of his being has no other desire than to serve God, for then it is not law but love which binds him. Many things which we would resent doing under compulsion for some stranger are a privilege to do for someone we love. Love clothes the humblest and the most menial tasks with glory. ‘In God’s service we find our perfect freedom.’”[6]

    [1]Garland, D. E. (2001, c1999). Vol. 29: 2 Corinthians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (157). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

    [2]The letters to the Corinthians. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily Study Bible series, Rev. ed. (2 Co 3:4). Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

    [3]The letters to the Corinthians. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. (2 Co 3:12). Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

    [4]Garland, D. E. (2001, c1999). Vol. 29: 2 Corinthians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (179). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

    [5]The letters to the Corinthians. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily Study Bible series, Rev. ed. (2 Co 4:1). Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

    [6]The letters to the Corinthians. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily Study Bible series, Rev. ed. (2 Co 4:1). Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

  • Bible Text: 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 (ESV)

    1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered 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.

  • Reflection & Application 

    2 Corinthians 3:1-3

    • Reflect on the picture of a letter from Christ, delivered to me through his messengers, “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God.”  What can I do to make sure that this letter gets written on the written on the “tablet” of my heart?
  • Prayer 

January 27, 2020

2Cor2- 2020-01-27

  • Journal
  • Commentary: 2 CORINTHIANS 2 – COMMENTARY
  • Bible Text:

    2 Corinthians 2:12-17 (ESV)

    12 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, 13 my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.

    14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

  • Reflection & Application 

    2 Corinthians 2:14-17 

    “Here, Paul takes an image from the Roman world, seeing Jesus as the victorious, conquering general in a triumph parade. … Fragrance, in the form of incense, was common at the Roman triumph parade.  In Paul’s mind, this fragrance is like the knowledge of God, which people can smell when the triumph parade winds by.

    “To the victors the perfume from the censers would be the perfume of joy and triumph and life; but to the wretched captives who walked so short a distance ahead it was the perfume of death, standing for a past defeat and their coming execution” (Barclay). [1] 

    • Reflect on the picture Apostle Paul paints in v. 14 of God, Christ, the Christian, and the world.  What does this picture say regarding the purpose of my life?
    • Reflect on the responsibility of my role as a Christian and the eternal stakes this involves, as expressed in these words: “Who is sufficient for these things?” Have I ever felt the awesome weight of this?

    2 Corinthians 2:17

    “The word peddling has the idea of ‘adulterating’ or ‘watering down’ for gain, and was especially used of a wine seller who would water down the wine for more profit.  Paul was not like the others who might water down the gospel for gain!” [2]

    • In what ways might I be guilty of being a peddler of God’s word?
    • Reflect on the relationship between living “in the sight of God” and being “men of sincerity.”  

    [1] David Guzik, Bible Commentary, online

    [2] David Guzik, Bible Commentary, online

  • Prayer 

January 24, 2020

Ps40- 2020-01-24

  • Journal
  • Bible Text: Psalm 40 (ESV)

    1 I waited patiently for the Lord;

        he inclined to me and heard my cry.

    2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,

        out of the miry bog,

    and set my feet upon a rock,

        making my steps secure.

    3 He put a new song in my mouth,

        a song of praise to our God.

    Many will see and fear,

        and put their trust in the Lord.

    4 Blessed is the man who makes

        the Lord his trust,

    who does not turn to the proud,

        to those who go astray after a lie!

    5 You have multiplied, O Lord my God,

        your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;

        none can compare with you!

    I will proclaim and tell of them,

        yet they are more than can be told.

    6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,

        but you have given me an open ear.

    Burnt offering and sin offering

        you have not required.

    7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come;

        in the scroll of the book it is written of me:

    8 I delight to do your will, O my God;

        your law is within my heart.”

    9 I have told the glad news of deliverance

        in the great congregation;

    behold, I have not restrained my lips,

        as you know, O Lord.

    10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;

        I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;

    I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness

        from the great congregation.

    11 As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain

        your mercy from me;

    your steadfast love and your faithfulness will

        ever preserve me!

    12 For evils have encompassed me

        beyond number;

    my iniquities have overtaken me,

        and I cannot see;

    they are more than the hairs of my head;

        my heart fails me.

    13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!

        O Lord, make haste to help me!

    14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether

        who seek to snatch away my life;

    let those be turned back and brought to dishonor

        who delight in my hurt!

    15 Let those be appalled because of their shame

        who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

    16 But may all who seek you

        rejoice and be glad in you;

    may those who love your salvation

        say continually, “Great is the Lord!”

    17 As for me, I am poor and needy,

        but the Lord takes thought for me.

    You are my help and my deliverer;

        do not delay, O my God!


  • God

    [What truths about God’s person, activity or character does the text reveal?]

  • Lessons/ Insights

  • Apply and Obey

    [How does today’s text apply to me? How will I obey or respond to the truths from today’s text?]

  • Prayer 

January 23, 2020

2Cor2- 2020-01-23

  • Journal
  • Commentary: 2 CORINTHIANS 2 – COMMENTARY
  • Bible Text: 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 (ESV)

    5 Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. 6 For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, 7 so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. 9 For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

  • Reflection & Application 

    2 Corinthians 2:5-11

    • How should “punishment” by the church be balanced with the need to “forgive and comfort” and “reaffirm love” toward a person who has sinned publicly?
    • What does Apostle Paul tell the Corinthians to do so that Satan would not outwit them?  What “designs” (or schemes) of Satan would be thwarted by our forgiveness of a repentant brother?
    • Is there someone I need to forgive today?  Is there someone I need to “affirm [my] love for”?

    [1] David Guzik, Bible Commentary, online

  • Prayer 

January 22, 2020

2Cor2- 2020-01-22

  • Journal
  • Commentary:
  • 2 CORINTHIANS 2 – COMMENTARY

    vv.1-4 “Paul faced a dilemma. To come to Corinth might intensify the problems and the pain; to stay away would allow the problems to fester and make reconciliation even more difficult. Again, Paul’s affection for the church comes out. They are a source of joy to him, and when their relationship is out of sorts, his pain is multiplied. The ‘I’ in the Greek is emphatic, ‘if I am the one who causes you pain.’ If he adds to the sadness in some way, they can hardly cheer him. Paul’s solution for reconciling the situation was to write a painful letter of rebuke.”[1]

    vv.5-11 “Again we have a passage which is an echo of trouble and of unhappiness. When Paul had visited Corinth there had been a ring-leader to the opposition. This man had clearly personally insulted Paul who had insisted that discipline must be exercised upon him. The majority of the Corinthians had come to see that his conduct had not only hurt Paul, but had injured the good name of the whole Corinthian Church. Discipline had been exercised, but there were some who felt that it had not been sufficiently severe and who desired to impose a still greater punishment.  It is now that the supreme greatness of Paul emerges. His plea is that enough has been done; the man is now penitent and to exercise still further discipline would do far more harm than good. It might simply drive the man to despair, and to do that is not to serve Christ and the Church, but to offer an opportunity to Satan to lay hold upon the man. Had Paul been actuated by merely human motives he would have gloated over the hard fate of his former enemy. Nowhere does the majesty of his character better emerge than on this occasion, when, in the graciousness of his heart, he pleads for mercy on the man who had hurt him so much. Here is a supreme example of Christian conduct in face of injury and insult.”[2]

    [1]Garland, D. E. (2001, c1999). Vol. 29: 2 Corinthians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (113). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

    [2]The letters to the Corinthians. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. (2 Co 2:12). Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

  • Bible Text: 2 Corinthians 2:1-4 (ESV)

    1 For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? 3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. 4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

  • Reflection & Application 

    2 Corinthians 2:1-4

    “Titus was the one who apparently carried the ‘severe letter’ Apostle Paul mentions in 2:3-4 to the Corinthian church.  Apostle Paul was so eager to receive word from Titus about how the Corinthian Christians responded to his harsh letter of rebuke that even though a door was open in Troas for the gospel, he went to Macedonia to look for Titus.  At this point, after 2:3, Apostle Paul moves on to address other matters, but the issue of Titus, and the response of the Corinthians is picked up again in chapter 7.” [1]

    • Reflect on the words Apostle Paul uses in describing what he went through in writing the severe letter. What can I learn about what it takes to speak the truth to people we love?  
    • Have I been willing to undergo “anguish of heart” and “many tears” in order to uphold God’s standards in the lives of those close to me?

    [1] David Guzik, Bible Commentary, online

  • Prayer 

January 21, 2020

2Cor2- 2020-01-21

  • Journal
  • Bible Text:

    2 Corinthians 1:21-24 (ESV)

    21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

    23 But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

  • Reflection & Application 

    2 Corinthians 1:21-24

    • Reflect on the assurances in vv. 21-22.  Who establishes us in Christ?  List all that God does toward us in Christ.
    • What wisdom about human relationships is revealed in Apostle Paul’s decision to cancel his visit to Corinth?
  • Prayer 

January 20, 2020

2Cor1- 2020-01-20

  • Journal
  • BIBLE TEXT: 2 Corinthians 1:15-20 (ESV) 15 Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
  • Reflection & Application 

    2 Corinthians 1:15-20

    • From the fact that Apostle Paul had to defend himself against serious criticism regarding his cancellation of a scheduled visit to Corinth, what can we guess about what kind of people the Corinthian Christians were?
    • In what ways have all the promises of God become fulfilled with a resounding “yes” in Christ? Are there specific promises of God that I need to particularly remember and cling to these days?

  • Prayer 

January 17, 2020

Ps25- 2020-01-17

  • Journal
  • BIBLE TEXT: Psalm 25

    1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
    O my God, in you I trust;
        let me not be put to shame;
        let not my enemies exult over me.
    Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
        they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

    Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
        teach me your paths.
    Lead me in your truth and teach me,
        for you are the God of my salvation;
        for you I wait all the day long.

    Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
        for they have been from of old.
    Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
        according to your steadfast love remember me,
        for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!

    Good and upright is the Lord;
        therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
    He leads the humble in what is right,
        and teaches the humble his way.
    10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
        for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

    11 For your name’s sake, O Lord,
        pardon my guilt, for it is great.
    12 Who is the man who fears the Lord?
        Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
    13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
        and his offspring shall inherit the land.
    14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
        and he makes known to them his covenant.
    15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
        for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

    16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
        for I am lonely and afflicted.
    17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
        bring me out of my distresses.
    18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
        and forgive all my sins.

    19 Consider how many are my foes,
        and with what violent hatred they hate me.
    20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
        Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
    21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
        for I wait for you.

    22 Redeem Israel, O God,
        out of all his troubles.

  • God

    [What truths about God’s person, activity or character does the text reveal?]

  • Lessons/ Insights

  • Apply and Obey

    [How does today’s text apply to me? How will I obey or respond to the truths from today’s text?]

  • Prayer 

January 16, 2020

2cor1- 2020-01-16

Journal

  • Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:
  • 2 CORINTHIANS 1 – COMMENTARY
  • BIBLE TEXT: 2 Corinthians 1:12-14 (ESV)

    12 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 13 For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand— 14 just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.

  • Reflection & Application

    2 Corinthians 1:12-14

    • What does it mean to behave “with simplicity and godly sincerity” in our relationships?
    • What perspective does the “day of our Lord Jesus” provide for dealing with misunderstandings or conflicts among Christians?

    Prayer 

January 15, 2020

2Cor1- 2020-01-15

Journal

  • Here are some tools to help you with the devotionals:
  • 2 CORINTHIANS 1 – COMMENTARY
  • BIBLE TEXT: 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (ESV) 

    8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

  • Reflection & Application

    2 Corinthians 1:5-7

    • What are some ways in which I “share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings?”
    • What is the relationship between 1) suffering/affliction and comfort and 2) the ability to give comfort to others?

    Prayer 

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