Tag Archives: Corinth

The Joy of God’s Presence, December 8

December 8, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—Acts 17:16-18:23

Doing good is good. It is God-like, for God is good. It is Christ-like because Jesus’ life is characterized as, “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). Good, though, has its limits. Or maybe we should say that our understanding of doing “good” needs to be more biblically centered. The act of being kind and benevolent and gracious to the needs of people is certainly included in doing “good”. But if that’s as far as we go, we’ve not gone far enough. Notice this statement about Paul’s ministry upon arriving in Corinth. He wasn’t at the homeless shelter or serving in a soup kitchen–nothing wrong with those at all. He was “occupied with the word” (18:5) or “wholly absorbed with proclaiming the word” (NET). Do you remember Jesus’ response when informed that a multitude was waiting for him to be healed? “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mk. 1:38). If “good” does not include God’s word, it’s not really good.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What provoked Paul’s spirit at Athens? (17:16)
  • What does God now command, and of whom? (17:30)
  • Whom did Paul meet in Corinth? (18:2)
  • What determination did Paul make based on his reception at Corinth? (18:6)

November 7 Bible Reading: Catch Up Day

Today is the regularly scheduled “Catch Up” day for the first week of November.  If needed use it to go back and cover some readings where you may have fallen behind—it happens.  Otherwise, below are some thoughts for your consideration for today from this week’s readings.

1. The value of living with integrity every day is not only the fact that it is right, though that is sufficient reason to do so.  Rather, as demonstrated with Paul, when a challenger or opponent arises, he could with great confidence and assurance appeal to his conduct among the Corinthians as proof of his own validity.  His record was impeccable, his reputation was stellar.  Opponents could say what they wished, but Paul only asked the Corinthians to remember the time of their association together.  He had nothing to hide or of which to be ashamed.  His integrity was unassailable.

2. Though Peter is the apostle who wrote about following in Jesus’ footsteps (1 Pet. 2:21), Paul obviously agreed fully with the principle.  In motivating the Corinthians to great generosity on behalf of the needy Jerusalem saints, he appealed the sacrificial act of Jesus in becoming poor, though He was rich, that we might benefit from that generosity (2 Cor. 9:9).  Of course, the truth not explicitly stated is that God restored to Jesus all He had given up, and more.

3. Paul’s defense of his ministry and work was not motivated by selfish feelings.  He did not take the attacks made on him personally.  Two realities that did motivate him strongly, though, were the fact that his ministry was at the behest of God.  It was His work he was doing.  Secondly, the influence of his attackers threatened the very salvation of these Christians.  Both of these were sufficient to move Paul to act very strongly and boldly.

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Satan Is Not to Be Denied

Satan is Not to be Denied
Devotional Text: 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; 11:3, 14; 12:7

Denying the reality and the work of Satan is the greatest favor you could ever do him.  Nothing plays into his hands any better.

It’s interesting how much Paul references his work in the closing chapters of 2 Corinthians.
• our warfare is spiritual, it is not of the flesh and our weapons have “divine power to destroy strongholds” (10:3-6).
• Paul feared these Christians would be “led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning (11:3).
• As some men disguise themselves as apostles of Christ, Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (11:14).
• Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh” which he describes as “a messenger of Satan to harass me” (12:7).

Paul was very well convinced and all-too-well familiar with the work of Satan.  He stood toe to toe with his adversary, knew his work and influence and enlisted others to engage him in conflict too.  Satan was not going to be ignored or denied by Paul.

We do not serve ourselves well when we act as if there is no Satan or as though he is passive and inactive.  It’s not as though we’re picking a fight, he’s already started it and he’d love nothing more than our apathy or even denial.

You may not consider yourself a fighter, but with Satan, it’s time to step onto the battle field.

–David Deffenbaugh

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November 6 Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 11-13

Paul really wants the Corinthians to consider his own life and ministry.  Not only has he not sought to take advantage of them in any way, Paul has fully laid his own life on the line and sacrificed of himself greatly for not only the church at Corinth, but everywhere he has gone.

Paul concludes with a series of warnings and encouragements, assuring them that his desire is to serve them, not receive anything from them.  His plans are to visit them again, soon.

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Aim for Restoration

Devotional Text: 2 Corinthians 13:9,11

The fact that a problem exists isn’t the problem.  It’s not that a mistake has been made or an error discovered.  The real issue is what one does in light of the problem, mistake, or error once it comes to light.  How does one respond when something is amiss?

The troubles and struggles of the church at Corinth are well-known.  Still, Paul refers to them as God’s church (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1).  That fact has been used by some to justify behavior, practices and teachings for which they have been called into question.  It is as though these variations at Corinth were receiving the apostle’s stamp of approval since he still called them the church.  This is some seriously mistaken thinking.

At the conclusion of the Corinthian correspondence, Paul expresses an idea twice.  “Your restoration is what we pray for” and “Aim for restoration” (2 Cor. 13:9, 11).  That is the wording of the ESV while other translations speak of keeping things in good repair, setting things right, aiming for perfection, being made complete, putting things in order and improvement.  Though there is virtually no consensus on exact wording, the fundamental idea is unmistakable. Paul was putting no stamp of approval on what was going on at Corinth; making things right was the intended goal.

I like that ESV wording.  It’s a good maxim: Aim for restoration!

–David Deffenbaugh

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Plenty or Not Enough?

Devotional Text: 2 Corinthians 9:8

One of the mind sets I have had to work on for myself is the scarcity vs. abundance mindset.  Do I think in terms of a fixed amount of something being available, and when that’s gone, it’s gone?  Do I think in terms that if someone has something in abundance that necessarily means then that someone else must be deprived of that same thing—because there’s only a limited amount to go around (this is where the “redistribution of wealth folks” are coming from).

This kind of thinking tends to lead people to be stingy and meager.  True, some people have lived through some very difficult times when there was not much to be had and so had to be very careful with what they did have to stretch it as far as it would go.  It’s one thing to be careful and a good steward, but it’s another to be stingy and meager.

What we know about God is that He is anything but meager.  As a matter of fact it is because of His great bounty that we are encouraged to be bountiful in our giving and dealing with others.

When Paul is prompting the Corinthians to be cheerful givers (2 Cor. 9:7), he reminds them of the nature of God and the provisions He’s made for us.  He repeatedly uses words like “abound” and “overflowing”.  The way God provides for us we have “all sufficiency in all things at all times” so that we “may abound in every good work”  (2 Cor. 9:8).  God always gives more than enough, not just enough to get by.

My thinking and my outlook should reflect that of God’s; it’s abundance, not scarcity.

Granted, the “prosperity gospel” folks have abused this principle, but it doesn’t make it any less true, “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor. 9:6).

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

November 5 Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 9-10

Here Paul concludes his request for financial support from Corinth for the needy saints in Jerusalem.  He assures them that God will provide for them and their own needs, especially if they take care to help fellow Christians in their time of want.

Paul also begins in earnest to defend his apostleship as it has come under attack.  He is cautious to not commend himself too much.  After all, “it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (10:18).

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November 4 Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 7-8

Paul expresses his confidence in the Corinthians that their response to his instruction will be good.  That is based on their previous reactions to his letters and messengers sent by him.

Paul also begins his appeal for the financial generosity of the Corinthians.  He appeals to the giving of the churches of Macedonia as motivation for them.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For November week 1 Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

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What To Do Today

Devotional Text: 2 Corinthians 7:1

What’ on your schedule for today?  Is your calendar booked?  Is it filled with appointments, projects, events, and activities?  Life can get hectic, can’t it?

Are the events of your day important?  Of course they are, right?  You wouldn’t fill your day with worthless, meaningless activity would you?  But how important are they?  Really important?  Eternally important?

How many time slots in your day’s calendar move you toward fulfilling Scripture’s encouragement, “let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1)?

There’s important, then there’s important!

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

A Better Perspective

Devotional Text: 2 Corinthians 5:1-2

Sometimes it’s a matter of perspective.  Just thinking about things in the right way can make all the difference.  It’s not that we gain any new information, but we think about what we already know in a better way.

The Bible, of course, is great at giving that perspective.  Our world and the life we live in it can become easily confused.  Things that are not seem as real and things that are seem to be an illusion.

Take these words of Paul; he calls this life a tent.  That’s a temporary dwelling.  It’s adequate but far from ideal.  Our life with God, on the other hand, is a “house, eternal in the heavens” and a “heavenly dwelling” (2 Cor. 5:1-2).  Does that match our own thinking about our present life and the one to come?

Further, he says we “groan” and are “burdened” while living in this tent (v. 2-3).  That certainly suggests that our present life is one that is characterized by troubles and struggles.  What is to come is “life” and “eternal” and “heavenly”.   The difference, as he goes on to say, is between being “away from the Lord” now and being “at home with the Lord” then.

Is our approach to this life now as if we we want life away from the Lord to be like life at home with the Lord?  Do we need better perspective?

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE