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Self-Commendation (A Study of 2 Corinthians 6:3-10) Part 4 (Conclusion)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

Let us continue our study of several verses in chapter six:

Self-Commendation (A Study of 2 Corinthians 6:3-10): Part 4

II. The Specifics of Self-Commendation (vv. 4-10)

We’ve thought about Paul’s list of the 28 items he gives showing how his behavior and mindset in ministry commend him. We’ve seen some of his difficult circumstances in which he served. We then noticed the positive qualities which marked Paul’s work. Let’s notice the last section of those items:

These nine couplets show the ministry contrasts which Paul experienced. He does not sugar-coat the challenges he faced, but pairs them with the positive aspects of serving Christ. If we only had his list of the positive parts of ministry, they would be: glory, good report, genuine, known, living on, not killed, always rejoicing, making many rich, possessing everything! But we don’t get to choose only the positive. Paul’s ministry — and ours — includes very negative items: dishonor, bad reports, charges of being an imposter, regarded as unknown, dying, beaten, sorrowful, poor, and having nothing. It should come as no surprise when ministers drop out and become insurance salesmen.

Today’s Challenge: Paul commends himself, but does so with complete honesty. If you are in professional ministry, do you have someone with whom you can share your deepest struggles? If not, pray that God would give you such a person!

 

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2020 in 2 Corinthians 6

 

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Self-Commendation (A Study of 2 Corinthians 6:3-10) Part 2

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now continuing our study of several verses in chapter six:

Self-Commendation (A Study of 2 Corinthians 6:3-10): Part 2

II. The Specifics of Self-Commendation (vv. 4-10)

We’ve thought about a definition of self-commendation in our first post (making sure we’re not putting a stumbling block in anyone’s path and working so our ministry will not be discredited). But what, specifically, does it mean to endure in the service of the Lord? We’ve noticed the 28 items that Paul lists showing how his behavior and mindset in ministry commend him. Here, again, is that chart of those 28 items, Notice how we have marked the first section of those items:

I would describe those 10 items as commending oneself in difficult circumstances. Those conditions are not what any of us would want — but Paul’s honesty in those trying situations is refreshing and praiseworthy.

Today’s Challenge: How dare we think that ministry is easy, problem-free, or without opposition? Don’t hesitate to list (perhaps both for the Lord and for those you serve) some of the difficult circumstances you are facing in ministry. This is truth, not complaining. And ask others to pray that you will be faithful through these challenges!

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2020 in 2 Corinthians 6

 

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Self-Commendation (A Study of 2 Corinthians 6:3-10) Part 1

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now working our way through 2 Corinthians. Here’s my outline for several verses in chapter six:

Self-Commendation (A Study of 2 Corinthians 6:3-10): Part 1

What in the world does it mean to “self-commend”? Self-commendation is not the same as self-promotion. And this passage is critical in understanding how one establishes himself in ministry . . . and endures in serving Christ!

I. A Definition of Self-Commendation (vv. 3-4)

   >>> Negatively, it means we do not put a stumbling block in anyone’s path.   Nor do we discredit our ministry by our conduct.

  >>> Positively, it means we live and endure as servants of God (v. 4).

II. The Specifics of Self-Commendation (vv. 4-10)

We will examine these 28 characteristics of a godly, self-commending ministry in our subsequent posts.

Today’s Challenge: Paul’s view of his ministry is a healthy one — and given for our instruction! Which of the above 28 aspects of ministry do you find present in your service for Christ? Pick one that you need to focus on for the next while — and ask God to help you grow in that area.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2020 in 2 Corinthians 6

 

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Living Now in Light of the Future (A Series of Messages on 2 Corinthians 12) Part 8

In just a few weeks Linda and I will be with the supporters of Camp Elim in Colorado for their Heritage Retreat (Sept. 23-24). These posts allow me to work on my messages from 2 Corinthians 12.

Let’s read over our text one more time:

We have seen that Paul’s tour of heaven — 14 years prior — was life-changing for him. But it brought him a thorn to keep him from becoming conceited about what he had experienced.

We’ve suggested that four challenges or truths can be gleaned from Paul’s description of this event in his life. First, living now in light of the future means that we have a biblical view of boasting (vv. 1-16). Second, we have seen that, taking Paul’s words seriously means that we have a clear focus on the future (vv. 2, 4, 7). And, third, Paul’s example here provides us with a practical primer on prayer (vv. 8-9).

Let’s notice a fourth — and final — lesson or challenge from this text and it is this: We now receive —

IV. A God-Honoring Perspective on Problems (vv. 9-10)

Let’s look at these two verses carefully: 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

We all have problems, don’t we? But how to we look at them? As irritants? As dead-end streets on our journey to happiness? As inconveniences, monkey-wrenches thrown into our self-focused itineraries? Christians are nowhere told to become passive, masochistic puddles that siliently “suffer for Jesus.” Problems and difficulties give God the opportunity to show us the sufficiency of His grace and us the opportunity to face the naked truth of our weaknesses. Such “weaknesses” — sovereignly given to us — allow us to recalibrate our priorities.

Such a perspective does not remove from us the power of repetitive prayer, but will sometimes change our praying from escape to submission. For Paul God’s refusal to remove his thorn led him to gladness (v. 9)! And he achieved a biblical delight (!) in his weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. [I will certainly need to do a bit of a word study on each of these four terms]. But, would you not agree that Paul has pretty much covered all circumstances in life by the use of these four words: WEAKNESSES, INSULTS, HARDSHIPS, PERSECUTIONS, and DIFFICULTIES?

The Challenge: What specific difficulty are you facing right now? Have you given it over to the Lord and prayed something like this? “Lord, I don’t want this. But more than that, I want Your strength to be shown in my weakness. Help me, Lord, to trust You in this circumstance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2019 in 2 Corinthians 12

 

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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel (17:1-20) A Giant Challenge!

David, serving in King Saul’s court, would play his lyre to minister to Saul’s moods. The scene dramatically shifts to Israel’s present military circumstance — and David will get quite involved!

The armies of the Philistines and Israel are lined up in battle formation, one army on one hill, and the other army on another. The story focuses on “a champion named Goliath” who was nine feet nine inches tall! (v. 4). His armor weighed 125 pounds. He was covered in bronze armor and the iron point of his spear weighed 15 pounds. He also had a shield-bearer in front of him (vv. 5-7).

And he could speak! Goliath challenges Israel to a mano-a-mano fight— winner take all! Saul and all Israel heard this challenge and “lost their courage and were terrified” (v. 11).

Jesse’s three sons were at the battlefront (Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah). David was going back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s flock in Bethlehem (vv. 12-15).

The challenge from Goliath happened every day for forty days! Jesse has David take food to his three brothers, as well as cheese to the field commander. He is to check on their well-being. Jesse says of the brothers that they are “with Saul . . . fighting with the Philistines” (v. 19).

David obeys — and sets out as Jesse had charged him (v. 20). We will see tomorrow what will happen!

What are the Goliaths in your life? Those challenges that seem overwhelming, massive, and digging for your immediate attention? True, none of us has a nine-foot-nine-inch-tall NBA warrior standing outside our door inviting us to fight. But challenges come in many forms.

Are you tempted to lose your courage and become terrified? So am I.

But our God is taller than 9’9” — and He has His plan of taking care of our Goliaths. What giant are you facing today? Are you asking the Lord to give you courage and wisdom in facing that challenge?

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2018 in Goliath, I Samuel 17

 

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