turn, see, be transformed

Oct 2017 (6)

devotional post # 2162

2 Corinthians 3;15-18

2Co 3:15 But, even today, a veil rests over their hearts whenever Moses is read.
2Co 3:16 But when someone turns to the Lord, that veil is removed.
2Co 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, freedom is.
2Co 3:18 And we all, who have had that veil removed, noticing the brightness of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one shade of brightness to another. Because this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

turn, see, be transformed

Paul is describing people who read the scriptures. There are two types. Those who read with a veil over their faces, who are not changed, stay in bondage. But those who turn to the Lord lose the veil. The result is freedom from the bondage, a vision of the brightness of the Spirit of God, and transformation into the same image — from one shade (not of gray, but of brightness) to another.

LORD, we see a beautiful image of a free, glorious being. Change us into what we see in Christ.

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an unveiling service

Oct 2017 (6)

devotional post # 2161

2 Corinthians 3:12-14

2Co 3:12 Since we confidently expect this, we serve very openly,
2Co 3:13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites would not gaze at the product of a service that was being destroyed.
2Co 3:14 But their minds were hardened. Because to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil is still unlifted, because is it destroyed only by Christ.

an unveiling service

When Moses served the LORD by mediating the old covenant, one of the products of his service was that his face glowed with a brilliant shine. He veiled his head to prevent others from seeing that effect. Paul told the Corinthians that he had no intentions of veiling the gospel. In fact, he and his team serve the new covenant very openly. They know that Christ can remove the veil from people’s hearts, and anyone can freely shine brightly with God’s love and power.

LORD, give us the courage to openly confront the ignorance that keeps people from your gospel, and the freedom they can have in you.

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lasting shine

Oct 2017 (5)

devotional post # 2160

2 Corinthians 3:9-11

2 Cor 3:9 Because since the service that brought condemnation had a brightness to it, the service that produces a right standing with God overflows with brightness.
2 Cor 3:10. Since the former bright service has at this time no brightness because of the brightness that currently surpasses it.
2 Cor 3:11. Because if that which was destroyed by the veil still had its own brightness, that which continues on is much more bright.

lasting shine

There was a brightness, a glory, a shine to the Old Covenant, because God acted to intervene in the affairs of a people and that shone through in spite of the veil which covered Moses’ face. But this new covenant founded on the content of the gospel has a lasting shine that can never be covered up. It does not temporarily excuse the sins of the sacrificer. It nails the sins of the repentant to the cross permanently.

LORD, thank you for your lasting brightness, which we can have in Christ.

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the brightness of his imprint

Oct 2017 (4)

devotional post # 2159

2 Corinthians 3:7-8

2 Cor 3:7 Now given the fact that the service of death came with brightness, with its writings engraved on stone, with the result that the sons of Israel were not able to stare intently into the face of Moses, because of the brightness of his face, which is now destroyed.
2 Cor 3:8 How much more bright will the ministry of the Spirit be?

the brightness of his imprint

The ministry of Moses produced written tablets of stone, and the miracles associated with it led the people to respect the commands of God. Now there is a new ministry, the preaching of the gospel around the world. The same Holy Spirit who empowered the first ministry will empower this one. But Paul calls the ministry of the new covenant the ministry of the Holy Spirit, because now the Holy Spirit directly imprints himself on human hearts. We should expect that ministry to be ever more so glorious and bright.

LORD, imprint yourself on our hearts.

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Spirit given confidence

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devotional post # 2158

2 Corinthians 3:3-6

2 Cor 3:4 We have confidence like this before God because of who Christ is.
2 Cor 3:5 Not because we are adequate in ourselves to even imagine anything from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,
2 Cor 3:6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not enacted by what is written but by the Spirit; because the letter is killing people, but the Spirit is giving them life.

Spirit given confidence

Paul and his missionary team have learned that their adequacy to do what needs to be done to serve under the new covenant comes from who Christ is. Christ has given them the Holy Spirit (pneuma) which is bringing life through the gospel. He is much more powerful than the laws that are written (gramma), which are only killing people. This Holy Spirit gives them confidence for any ministry Christ calls them to do.

LORD, thank you for our confidence in Christ.

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second resume

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devotional post # 2157

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

2 Cor 3:1 Do we have to demonstrate our qualifications again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of introduction to you or from you?
2 Cor 3:2 You are our letter, written with our hearts, known and read by all men
2 Cor 3:3 because it is being made clear that you are a letter about Christ, delivered by us, written not by ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

second resume

Paul appears to be shaking himself, frustrated at the apologetic tone that he has taken in his letter. If anyone wanted proof of his authenticity and authority as a missionary, they need only look at the Christians in Corinth themselves. Their existence is Paul’s resume. No matter how many degrees we accumulate, no matter how many books and articles we write, no matter how many titles we hold. It is the people we influence who authenticate us.

LORD, thank you for the hearts we touch with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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a triumphal procession

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devotional post # 2156

2 Corinthians 2:12-16

2 Cor 2:12 Now I had previously gone to Troas for the purpose of spreading the gospel of Christ
and a door had been opened for me in the Lord,
2 Cor 2:13 but my spirit could not relax, because I did not find Titus my brother; instead, after getting away from them, I went on to Macedonia.
2 Cor 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in a triumphal procession in Christ, and manifests through us the smell of the knowledge of Him in every place.
2 Cor 2:15 Because we smell like Christ does to God among those who are being rescued and among those who are perishing;
2 Cor 2:16 to the one we are a dead smell which is leading to death, to the other we are a living smell which is leading to life.

a triumphal procession

Here’s the thing about triumphal processions: if you are being led in one, that means you are a captured prisoner, and just might be being led to your death. But Paul was okay with that analogy, because the purpose of a triumphal procession is to show respect to the conquering king. As a missionary, seeking to spread the gospel wherever he went, Paul knew what he smelled like. He smelled like Christ does to God. He might encounter those whom God is rescuing with that gospel, or he might encounter the spiritually dead. The difference was not him, but his audience. We do not know whether Paul found Titus in Macedonia, but maybe he found some people who were anxious to hear the gospel. That would be enough for him.

LORD, open our hearts to the Spirit’s leading, so that we can find those who are seeking Christ.

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a triumphal procession

IMG_0329

devotional post # 2156

2 Corinthians 2:12-16

2 Cor 2:12 Now I had previously gone to Troas for the purpose of spreading the gospel of Christ
and a door had been opened for me in the Lord,
2 Cor 2:13 but my spirit could not relax, because I did not find Titus my brother; instead, after getting away from them, I went on to Macedonia.
2 Cor 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in a triumphal procession in Christ, and manifests through us the smell of the knowledge of Him in every place.
2 Cor 2:15 Because we smell like Christ does to God among those who are being rescued and among those who are perishing;
2 Cor 2:16 to the one we are a dead smell which is leading to death, to the other we are a living smell which is leading to life.

a triumphal procession

Here’s the thing about triumphal processions: if you are being led in one, that means you are a captured prisoner, and just might be being led to your death. But Paul was okay with that analogy, because the purpose of a triumphal procession is to show respect to the conquering king. As a missionary, seeking to spread the gospel wherever he went, Paul knew what he smelled like. He smelled like Christ does to God. He might encounter those whom God is rescuing with that gospel, or he might encounter the spiritually dead. The difference was not him, but his audience. We do not know whether Paul found Titus in Macedonia, but maybe he found some people who were anxious to hear the gospel. That would be enough for him.

LORD, open our hearts to the Spirit’s leading, so that we can find those who are seeking Christ.

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forgive, or be exploited

 

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devotional post # 2155

2 Corinthians 2:8-11

2Co 2:8 So I am encouraging you to reaffirm your love for him.
2Co 2:9 Because this is why I had written, that I might test you and know whether you are being obedient in everything.
2Co 2:10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Actually, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been on behalf of you in the presence of Christ,
2Co 2:11 in order that we would not be exploited by Satan; because we are not ignorant of his designs.

forgive, or be exploited

The Corinthians had been wronged. One of their own number had betrayed them, and his sin was blatant. They had excommunicated him at Paul’s request. But now, Paul recognized that the time of his sentence was up, and it was time to restore him to the fellowship. Paul prayed for that person’s full forgiveness, and encouraged the Corinthians to trust in that forgiveness, and restore their brother to fellowship. If they did not, Satan would use the break in fellowship to exploit them all, and the end result would be worse than before.

LORD, teach us to listen to your voice, disciplining when it is necessary, and fully forgiving and reaffirming our love when we can.

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time to forgive

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devotional post # 2154

2 Corinthians 2:5-7

2Co 2:5 But if someone has brought sorrow, he has brought it not to me, but to some extent — not to be too dramatic– to all of you.
2Co 2:6 For such a one, this punishment by the majority has lasted long enough,
2Co 2:7 so you should turn to forgive and comfort him instead, or else he may become overwhelmed by too much sorrow.

time to forgive

In his previous letter to the Corinthians, he had instructed one of the congregations to sanction one of their members because of a blatant sin. It appears that they have done that, and now there is some question as to whether they are willing to return that member to good standing. That is always a tricky subject, because we do not want to be associated with our past mistakes. Paul’s instruction in this case was that it was now time to forgive and restore. Failure to forgive can be just as disastrous for a church as failure to confront.

LORD, give us the courage to confront sin in our ranks, and the wisdom to know when it is time to forgive and put it past us.

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