2 Corinthians 12.1-10 – July 20, 2020

2 Corinthians 12:1–10

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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.  (2 Corinthians 12:1–10 , NIV)

“My power is made perfect in weakness.” How contrary to our normal way of looking at things. We think weakness can only be overcome with power and more of it.

Thought Questions:

In what ways do you see people around you assume power is the only way to find “victory” in this world?

How have your weaknesses actually proven to be a way that God has shown his strength through you?

How can your life and the story of God working through your weaknesses actually serve to help other know him better? Who can you tell your story today?

2 Corinthians 5.20 – July 19, 2020

2 Corinthians 5:20

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20 , NIV)

An ambassador is one who represents another country and in the days before phone, email, and Zoom (There really was a day before all of these!), the ambassador would make decisions on behalf of the leaders of their country when making treaties or pacts with foreign countries. The question for us is: How well do we represent God?

Thought Questions:

What sort of things would you think would be necessary for an ambassador to have to be able to represent her country to some other entity?

How much trust would you have to have in your ambassadors as they go about speaking words on behalf of you, their leader? What does the fact that we are called to represent God tell you about God’s trust in you?

What are ways you can prepare yourself to be a better representative–ambassador, using the words of Paul–to others on behalf of God?

2 Corinthians 12.9-10 – July 2, 2020

2 Corinthians 12:9–10

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.  (2 Corinthians 12:9–10, NIV)

What more do we need than the grace of God?

Thought Questions:

What is your initial reaction when you hear the statement: power is made perfect in weakness? How do you think most people think about power?

Why do people think it weak when we have to rely on someone else or depend on their strength?

In what ways have you been able to delight in weakness, hardships, or difficulties? How have these things served to strengthen your faith?

2 Corinthians 4.4-11 – June 24, 2020

2 Corinthians 4:4–11

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”  made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. (2 Corinthians 4:4–11, NIV)

Where do you keep your treasure? Probably not a clay jar, yet God uses us, weak vessels that we are, for his glory.

Thought Questions:

Why do you think it so difficult for unbelievers to understand the good news of Jesus, especially when it seems to obvious to those who do believe?

In what ways have you seen God’s power do things in your life–through you–that you know could never have been done if it had just been your own power at work?

How does your life demonstrate Jesus Christ?

2 Corinthians 9.6 – June 2, 2020

2 Corinthians 9:6

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. (2 Corinthians 9:6, NIV)

Thought Questions:

In what ways have you found this verse to be true? What examples might you give to demonstrate this?

In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul commends the people he is writing, saying their gives cause people to give thanksgiving to God. Think of a time when you have experienced this thanksgiving to God, either in giving or receiving. How would you describe the connection of God and giving?

What are ways you can give more generously?

2 Corinthians 12.1-10 – April 29, 2020

2 Corinthians 12:1–10

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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. (2 Corinthians 12:1–10, NIV)

“This saint that we tend to idolize in the church (Paul), even he had issues. Even he begged the Lord for things to change. Paul was desparate. Maybe it’s OK for me to be desparate too.”

Thought Questions:

What reasons do we typically think are good reasons to boast? What are some of your accomplishments that you might want to boast about?

We are never told what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” is, but we get some idea of how it helped Paul’s ministry. How have you found problems in your life to actually help you do a better job of trusting in and sharing about Jesus?

In what ways have you trusted in God’s grace to be sufficient?

2 Corinthians 3.12-18 – April 22, 2020

2 Corinthians 3:12–18

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate  the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:12–18, NIV)

The Spirit of the Lord does not hold us captive, but rather, offers us freedom!

Thought Questions:

Why does hope allow you to be bold? In what ways does God’s hope make you bold for him?

How does Christ bring us new freedoms, freedoms that were not known in the days of Moses?

How would you respond to someone who says that following God prevents you from having the freedoms you long for?

In what ways has following Jesus brought freedom to your life? Let us know about it by clicking on “Leave a Comment” below…

2 Corinthians 3.18 – February 13, 2020

2 Corinthians 3.18

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3.18, NIV)

What an amazing thought: We are being transformed into glory!

Thought Questions:

What aspects about God demonstrate his glory to you today? How have you taken a moment to reflect on God’s glory?

How well do you reflect the glory of God? In what ways is it reassuring to know you are being transformed his image … that you look more and more like him?

How does knowing that it is through God and his spirit that we are transformed change how you go about trying to be more like God? In what ways are you letting him transform you, versus you trying to do it all yourself?

Here am I, Send Me! – September 10, 2019

Isaiah 6.1-7.25; 2 Corinthians 11.16-33; Psalm 54.1-7; Proverbs 23.1-3

The calling of Isaiah is one of the incredible stories of the Old Testament prophets. What is most amazing is Isaiah’s response: In spite of his fear and uncertainty, he simply tells God to send him. How do you respond to God’s calling of you today?

Questions:

What sort of vision would God have to send you for you to pay attention to his calling of you?

How does Paul’s autobiography listed here give you an indication about his commitment to his task to share the good news with others? How does it affect how you view your own calling?

In what ways has God been your helper?

What is it advisable to not be a big eater when dining with a king?

Looking for the Wise – September 9, 2019

Isaiah 3.1-5.30; 2 Corinthians 11.1-15; Psalm 53.1-6; Proverbs 22.28-29

What do you think God would find if he looked down from heaven on the human race, seeking anyone who is wise? Would he find people who seek him? In what ways do you seek him?

Questions:

Why does the prophecy of Isaiah up to this point seem so destructive? Does this seem inconsistent with how you view God?

In what ways do people today put up with whatever anyone tells them?

Why would someone say there is no God?

What do you think the proverb writer means when he writes about “truly competent workers?”