Archive for the ‘2 Corinthians’ Category

Wow

14/01/2009

2 Corinthians says “Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech”

What a packed sentence!

The earlier “Therefore” implies the preceding sentences are pivotal. The preceding verses are what the rest hinge on. This part is crucial to grasp before embarking on the next.

Since” – another emphasis on the parts before.

“We” – that’s you and I who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ. Yaay!

“Have” – what certainty. It’s already obtained.

“Such hope” – not a wishy-washy “I hope it will not rain even though it is cloudy”, or “I hope that I can find a parking space”, or even “I hope this tastes nice”. Rather, it is certain hope. The hope that there IS a new covenant in Christ.

On such basis, we can “use” – i.e. a proactive action is required. There is a sense of wielding something. Something that has to be picked up.

And at the end of the sentence we see it – great boldness of speech.

Boldness indicates Courage; bravery; intrepidity; dauntlessness; hardihood; assurance. Reminds me of this picture.
Hmmm Not sure if the cat was bold or foolhardy but the dogs are certainly well trained! For the sake of this study, let’s say the cat is bold!

It reminds me of the boldness of a lion, as found in Proverbs 28:1b “the righteous are as bold as a lion”.
So secure in the knowledge that we have a hope, we can speak boldly….

Not just when standing in public or when we are put in a position where we have to defend our faith. But also when we are in a difficult situation, as were my friends whose toddler died. They spoke boldly of their faith without reservation, and did not fear who their listeners were.

By the way, boldly doesn’t necessarily mean loudly.

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Testimonials

08/01/2009

Recently I was asked twice to write some testimonials.For the first one, I gave a rough draft with outlines. For the second one, I wrote an even more general one, leaving parts to be filled in and others to be deleted.

Why didn’t I do a proper testimonial?

Simple. I didn’t know the people concerned. I didn’t know if they were male or female. I was merely being asked to help to write. So I couldn’t be more specific.

Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 asks a different question about testimonials. He asks a rhetorical question here – “Did they need letters of recommendation to show their suitability?”

1Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

No. The results of their ministry among the Corinthians was sufficient. This result was evident in Christ-centeredness. It was of the Spirit and from the heart.

How did this come about?

When Paul ministered, he had them in his heart. “Written” on his heart gives an indication of the depth and intensity of his care and concern for them.

I am reminded of a few verses in Proverbs which talk about how our own testimony of ourselves versus other people’s commendation of us.

Proverbs 25:27 “It is not good to eat much honey; so to seek one’s own glory is not glory

Proverbs 27:2 “Let another man praise you and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”

In fact, Proverbs 18:16 goes on to assure us that “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.”

There is a difference between knowing someone and knowing about someone. It is only when you truly know someone that you can speak about that person so that others might know about that person.

And the only way you can know the person is when you have interacted with them, spent much time with them, gone through thick and thin with them….

I suppose, it’s like when my friends went through their recent crisis. Three families came alongside and helped. We went through a most difficult time with them. At the end of that, when they said how much their faith was strengthened and how we had helped, those words carried weight for us. We were blessed even as they were, despite the tumultuous time.

When they speak of us, even as we speak of them, the words carry weight.

Peddling the Word?!

16/12/2008

2 Corinthians 2:14-17 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one, we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

To different people, we will evoke different reactions. Our lives, lived as we ought to as Christians, diffuse, or manifest (as the Greek implies) the fragrance and aroma of Christ. People around us will react. We should expect it if we are living as we ought. Strong reactions too!

How should we live? Well, Paul uses a another strong image here – peddling.

What is a peddler? When I checked the synonyms, I got this – transient, sells cheap things, itinerant. Another gave this definition – adulterating for gain! Wow! What pictures!

Paul says that he is not peddling the word of God. Rather, out of sincerity, as from God, he speaks. His audience is God Himself. The audience of ONE.

When we go about our daily lives, let’s remember this too. We are not in this world for our own pleasure and self-gratification.

More about that in my next post.

To Do Or Not To Do

13/12/2008

It can be so painful.

Some people are like porcupines. Touchy. So they are sensitive. Prickly. So they can hurt you when they feel threatened. Even if your intentions are good.

Paul understood that. “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I write to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.” 2 Corinthians 2:4

But then he then went on to talk about forgiveness and to offer comfort to the offender!

It is a fact – not everyone who has wronged us will seek our forgiveness.
But Paul, despite what he has gone through, encourages forgiveness!

Does forgiveness come easy? No. Of course not. But it has to be done. It is a choice to be made. In fact, Paul calls it a test of obedience – to forgive is to obey! (2 Corinthians 2:9) If we seek to walk in obedience, forgiveness is not an option.
In verse 11, Paul offers another reason – if we don’t, we fall into one of Satan’s trap. That’s right. He has his schemes, that evil one. And unforgiveness is one of them!

If we are living with unforgiveness, we ar the ones trapped. I know of someone who suffered a lot. Victimized for being poor, picked on for speaking for righteousness, bypassed for being the wrong colour… you got the picture. He ended up ill. His heart couldn’t bear it. He had to stop work early. His life was very limited. Until he discovered Jesus. Through his new relationship, he learned to forgive, and to let go. His medication reduced. He had a new lease of life. He even travelled for holidays.

Yes, when we release forgiveness, we ourselves are set free. We no longer have bitterness that will eat into us and cause us to be bound. Furthermore, as the Lord Himself taught us, He will “forgive our sins as we forgive the sins of others.”
So Paul encourages a forgiving nature. Don’t “simpan dalam hati” meaning don’t keep inside your heart. Learn to let go. Paul did. We need to learn to do that too.

If you have problems forgiving someone, take time out with another Christian you can trust. This person should be mature so you can share honestly, without being gossipy. Don’t do character assassination as you share. Try to remain factual. Then let the other Christian pray with and for you. Exercise James 5:16 “Confess your trespass to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed”

When All Is Lost

11/12/2008

Just as I posted about forgiveness yesterday, here is a news report about a grief-stricken father.

Meet Dong Yun Yoon. He is a shop manager in San Diego, California. A fighter jet fell from the sky and crashed into his house. This is the scene of devastation where his home once stood. He had just moved in weeks ago. He lost three generations of his family – his wife, his mother-in-law and his two baby girls.Amazingly, as he spoke, standing a short distance from the charred remains of the house, he said: “I pray for him not to suffer for this action.” Further, “I don’t have any hard feelings, I know he did all he could”

He added that he believed “my wife and two babies and mother-in-law are in heaven with God”.

As he fought back the tears, the forgiveness he extended from such a big heart did not remove the pain of his loss.

He stood, surrounded by his pastor, sister, brother and church members. ‘I don’t know what to do,’ begging for advice on how to cope after losing his loved ones. “Please tell me how to do it,” he said. “I don’t know what to do.”
Rescue workers sifting through the wreckage after the crash discovered the bodies of Mr Yoon’s 37-year-old wife, Young Mi, her mother, Suk Im Kim, 60, and his two-month-old daughter, Rachel. They found his two year old Grace later.
The young pilot pilot parachuted at the last minute, saying that he had stayed with the plane as long as he could. He landed a short distance from his broken, blazing F-18 jet which plowed into the neighbourhood. The plane had smashed through the Yoons’ living room before exploding into a fireball, destroying three other houses. The pilot’s was reported to have said I hope I didn’t kill anybody.”

But he did.

And he has been forgiven.

I hope he can forgive himself.

KISS

09/12/2008

KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid!

That’s how I was reminded to make things uncomplicated! I have another version of this which I’ll save to the end. First, let’s look at our next nuggget.

2 Corinthians 1:12 tells us about Paul living in simplicity “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you”

When we approach this Christmas season and see the shopping complexes get all decked out in their best finery which they have planned months for, there are three possible approaches we can take.
One is to get all excited and hyped up that Christmas is coming. In two weeks time, Christians and so-called Christians will be gathering to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It would appear that the commercial world is celebrating together with us! Look at all the sales!

The second approach is to get irritated by this commercialism. It is hardly befitting the celebration of the Messiah born in a lowly manger. “He would never condone such blatant exploitation of his birth“, we could say. “In fact, it is most likely that His birth was not even in December“! Or even, “Christmas has pagan origins – check it out“.

Another approach could be of total indifference. So what if there are people out there who want to make money from this event? Let them. They have to eat. So what if they deck out the places to encourage people to buy buy buy. Time are hard and we need some good cheer. What are you getting so wound up about? Don’t be a spoilsport.

And so it could go on.

But

Let’s have another take to this. In some ways, all three approaches are right. There is truth in each of them. A balance is needed.

More importantly, a focus is essential. When you have a focus, then the balance can be struck.

For Paul, he kept it simple. He was more focused on getting the gospel message out, to see lives saved, to finish the task he felt God had given him. So he was not interested in the trimmings and trappings. He lived simply. His abundance was exhibited towards the people he was ministering to. Not to himself.

Paul had his focus clearly before him as he lived the latter part of his life. Many of us lack that.

One little boy can give us a good example. Meet Brendan Foster. Brendan died of leukemia, aged 11 years, on November 21 2008. His dying wish was to see the homeless fed. All across America, people heard about this and did so. His little short life made an impact. Turn up your sound.

More about him in THIS.

Folks, let’s keep the main thing the main thing.

Let’s Keep It Simply Simple.

When the Going Gets Tough

06/10/2008

I decided to read through 2 Corinthians. It’s the second of two letters that Paul the Apostle wrote to a church that had been swayed by false teachings.

But I am not going to touch on false teachings and doctrines. Rather, I noticed that in this epistle, Paul had spent a fair bit of time on his character and conduct. I felt I could learn from that. In my temerity, I decided that I would share with you what I discover!

So let’s start with Chapter 1.

Immediately I am arrested by these verses 3 to 5. NKJV puts it, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

What a packed trilogy of verses!

Let’s go backwards. Looking at verse 5, it is obvious that we too will face difficulties and obstacles in our lives. None of us are immune. How often we have heard that phrase, “I know how you feel” and wonder if the speaker really knew. Well he/she won’t, unless they have walked that same path of suffering and difficulty. Only then can we appreciate v4. After we have walked that path, we need to remember to look back and see those who are still making that journey.

The only way we can make through this journey is if we learn to lean on this God of all mercies and Father of all comfort. We ourselves need to learn to draw comfort from God, so that we can learn to share that comfort with others.

I once read somewhere someone once said that we would never know that God is all we need until God is all we’ve got.

So when it seems that the going is tough, when it seems like even God isnt there anymore, don’t despair. He IS there. And one day, we’ll be able to say to someone else, “I know how you feel”.

Let’s walk that journey together.