Archive for the ‘2 Corinthians’ Category

Who are you to say…

April 29th, 2017 by Maureen

Now I have become foolish; you have forced me [by questioning my apostleship]. Actually I should have been commended by you [instead of being treated disdainfully], for I was not inferior to those super-apostles, even if I am nobody. 2 Cor 12:11 (Amp)

Anyone can have insight. Anyone can contribute valid ideas. Anyone can ask cogent questions. Anyone can offer viable suggestions. Paul seems to have had to establish his right to speak and the validity of a message coming from him before anyone was willing to seriously entertain the message itself. People applied their own cultural and personal filters and biases for the apostles and against Paul to Paul’s message of grace and inclusion. Certainly there should be a process for vetting ideas. There is a need for expert opinion and for authoritative sources of information. But there also has to be room for innovation, inspiration, and revelation and willingness to examine the filters and biases that affect how we receive ideas. Who are your “super-apostles”?

Lord, give me the grace to really listen to and consider the messages that people I meet are communicating with me.

Weakness is not a deal breaker

March 22nd, 2017 by Maureen

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is fulfilled in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Cor. 12:8-9

Nobody has a perfect life and nobody executes life perfectly. Everybody is dealing with something. Sometimes God uses His power to remove our weaknesses. Sometimes He empowers us to overcome our weaknesses. Sometimes He empowers us to accomplish things in spite of our weaknesses. Sometimes He empowers us to live in His love, grace, and peace in the shadow of our weakness and to accept the ways our weaknesses change our lives. The weaknesses we see in others and in ourselves is no indicator of the power of God working in our lives.

Lord, thank You that the power of Christ dwells in me.

Grace environment

March 4th, 2017 by Maureen

And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. 2 Cor. 9:14

The verses leading up to this one are about generosity and giving to those in need. Giving is only one of many manifestations of grace. The grace we show to others authenticates our understanding of Christ’s message of redemption and restoration and invites others into our own experiences as recipients and transmitters of God’s grace. Grace and generosity yield responses of affection and gratitude. This causes all of us to mutually dwell in the environment of God’s grace together in a tangible and experiential way.

Jesus, I love you and I love Your grace. Help me to communicate that to others.

Love, joy, peace

March 2nd, 2017 by Maureen

Be joyful. Grow in maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Cor. 13:11

The news about Christ that we carry around with us and in us is so good. The tone of the message cannot be separated from the content of God’s message of restoration and salvation. Love, joy and peace are inherent in motivation, delivery, and result.

Thank you, Lord, for speaking love, joy, peace, and encouragement to me and through me.

It’s heavy, but in a good way

February 24th, 2017 by Maureen

This light, temporary nature of our suffering is producing for us an everlasting weight of glory, far beyond any comparison, 2 Cor. 4:17 (ISV)

Even though we are aware of Christ, even though we cast our cares His way, even though we trust Him for abundant lives, each of us carry persistent burdens and afflictions from which we frequently plead for release. Nobody wants to suffer.  Yet our hardest experiences are often the ones that reveal to us weighty, substantial ideas and interpretations that help us speak God’s glory and light into the world. Rather than the ephemeral, cloud-like thing we sometimes picture, perhaps glory is a substantial counter-weight to our heaviest burdens.

Lord help me to feel the counter weight of glory when problems in my life start getting heavy.

Worth the trouble

January 13th, 2017 by Maureen

Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 2 Cor. 1:6-7

We are in this together. Sometimes our pain is the very thing that equips us to offer comfort to someone else. Sometimes the fact that we are currently in a comfortable position makes us perfect candidates to render aid to those with troubles. The nature of community is that we are going to inconvenience one another and sometimes we are going to cause inconvenience to others. Be okay with that.

Lord, help me see myself and others as worth the trouble, especially when it is trouble.

The benefit of the belief

January 7th, 2017 by Maureen

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. 2 Cor. 5:16a

Humans have a tendency to make assumptions about one another based on appearance, occupation, zip code, tastes and interests, income and possessions, and all sorts of other superficial qualities. Then we sometimes project the baggage of our impressions on people before we ever really talk to them. Many of us form relationships based on the value-add we think the other person can bring to our lives. But Jesus responded to each unique individual with genuine interest and love…and still does. We can choose to hear and value one another in the same way. It starts with listening to understand and love instead of listening to evaluate and judge. This goes beyond extending the benefit of the doubt, we can choose to form relationships based on the belief that each of us has intrinsic value.

Lord, help me to listen openly and love sincerely.

Crazed but not cracked

January 6th, 2017 by Maureen

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 2 Cor. 4:7

As pottery gets older a network of tiny tension lines, called crazing, sometimes forms. Crazing indicates vulnerability to cracking, but the plate or jar is still whole and usable. His light keeps shining out of us even when we show signs of crazing because we contain His light; we don’t cause it. And even when we feel a little crazed, He never leaves us or forsakes us. He remains in us, our hope and our inner light.

Lord, pour light from this crazed vessel.

The force of grace

November 20th, 2016 by Maureen

God is able to make all grace overflow to you, so that, in all things, at all times, having all contentment, you may overflow in every good work. 2 Cor. 9:8

God is the force of grace that makes of us forces of grace. When grace overflows it gets all over everything. It cannot be contained by our limitations. It will seep into places we never thought it could reach. Grace is such a powerful force that it invades seemingly solid and impermeable attitudes, thinking, and habits. This affects a chemical change on our spirits. Our responses flow from this powerful overflow of His grace rather than the obligation to “do good work.”

Lord, beyond my resources or circumstances, beyond my doubts and fears, carry me in the overflow of Your grace and cause me to be a force of grace in this world.

 

The leadership style that brings out the best

September 11th, 2016 by Maureen

I’m not trying to order you around against your will. But by bringing in the Macedonians’ enthusiasm as a stimulus to your love, I am hoping to bring the best out of you. 2 Cor. 8:8 (Msg)

Authoritarians order people around based on their own claims to power and authority; bureaucrats and legalists order people around based on their interpretation of rules and law; transactional leaders manipulate people through reward, competition, guilt, and punishment; transformational leaders inspire and encourage people to embrace excellence and then provide resources and examples that help people experience fulfillment. Jesus is a transformational leader. He transformed us by making His home in us and giving us His own nature, He is already in us. Transformational leaders help bring Jesus’ nature out in us.

Lord, help those with authority over me to bring out the best in me.

Soft launch

September 7th, 2016 by Maureen

Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. 2 Cor. 2:10

Opening our hearts, minds, and lives to God means that He will redefine ideas like “need” or “desired conditions.” What we might consider essential before launching into a project may not even be on God’s radar and what He considers essential might be unexpected. It’s actually comforting to know we aren’t the ones that have to come up with the perfect plan and all the provisions and then execute perfectly. It is our trust in His wisdom and power that makes the journey enjoyable and the work effective.

Lord, I trust You to supply what I need and show me how to work with it.

Viral joy

August 4th, 2016 by Maureen

His presence was a joy, but so was the news he brought of the encouragement he received from you. 2 Cor. 7:7

Joy is not dependent on circumstance or on how we are treated by other people, but encouragement does give joy a power boost. In fact, encouragement is an exchange of joyful acknowledgement that God loves us, values us, and cares about our lives. Joy goes viral when we share the encouragement we receive in one place with people in another place.

Lord, fill me with joy that goes viral.

Human problems with pain management

July 29th, 2016 by Maureen

I [Paul]I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears., not to grieve you, but to let you know the depths of my love for you. 2 Cor. 2:4

Maybe our learned social or cultural responses to public pain explain why so many people resort to sessions of mind-numbing avoidance or solitary confinement rather than share the pain with anyone. We translate hurt into humor, anger and stoicism for public consumption because those can make us feel stronger and more powerful than authentically expressing hurt. For many of us it takes a huge level of vulnerability and trust to share our tears. Most of us would like to avoid the obligatory kindness that comes  from pity or the resentment that comes when people interpret tears as manipulation. Some of us have been taught that tears betray weakness, so we shed our tears in isolation, if at all. On the other hand, some of us overshare our pain, perhaps for validation, or because pain has become part of how we identify ourselves. Our social and cultural defaults can cause us to respond inappropriately to the pain of others, consciously or unconsciously dismissing pain, feeding it, or becoming co-dependent in it. Yet, in addition to His own personal loving responses to our pain, God uses healthy relationships between human beings, in addition to His own personal loving responses to our pain, to help us gain and keep a loving, gracious perspective, experience healing, and grow from the experience.

Lord, help me create a safe and honest place in my relationships where others can trust me with their pain; and take away the shame I associate with my own pain.

Repping reconciliation

July 2nd, 2016 by Maureen

God was reconciling the world to Himself through Christ by not counting people’s sins against them. He has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation. We are ambassadors – as though God were making His appeal through us – we implore you on behalf of Christ, “Be reconciled to God.”. 2 Cor. 5:19-20

Being reconciled to God is not disciplining ourselves to conform to a set of expectations; it’s simply embracing and enjoying Christ so that our hearts, minds, and spirits can catch up to the change Christ’s redemption has already finished in us. God’s good news of reconciliation is that He has transformed us because He loves us, not that we have to conform so He will love us. This is the best news ever. No bait and switch, No heavy yokes. No oppressive law or heavy-handed enforcement connected with His free and outrageous grace. As His ambassadors we get to rep that.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace and help me to sow Your love, grace, energy, forgiveness, faith, hope, light, and joy to those around me in the face of the hatred, injury, doubt, fear,  despair, oppression, darkness, and sadness already in this world.

Rep reconciliation

July 2nd, 2016 by Maureen

God was reconciling the world to Himself through Christ by not counting people’s sins against them. He has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation. We are ambassadors – as though God were making His appeal through us – we implore you on behalf of Christ, “Be reconciled to God.”. 2 Cor. 5:19-20

Being reconciled to God is not disciplining ourselves to conform to a set of expectations; it’s simply embracing and enjoying Christ so that our hearts, minds, and spirits can catch up to the change Christ’s redemption has already finished in us. God’s good news of reconciliation is that He has transformed us because He loves us, not that we have to conform so He will love us. This is the best news ever. No bait and switch, No heavy yokes. No oppressive law or heavy-handed enforcement connected with His free and outrageous grace. As His ambassadors we get to rep that.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace and help me to sow Your love, grace, energy, forgiveness, faith, hope, light, and joy to those around me in the face of the hatred, injury, doubt, fear,  despair, oppression, darkness, and sadness already in this world.

Getting to know you

June 25th, 2016 by Maureen

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. 2 Cor. 5:16a

Humans have a tendency to make assumptions about one another based on appearance, income, zip code, and other superficial qualities. Sometimes we assign whole stories to people we barely know just because we discover something about their pasts. The best way to really enjoy and appreciate another person is to listen without filling in blanks that are based on our own perceptions and experiences rather than their self-revelation. Jesus responded to each unique individual with genuine interest and love…and still does. We can choose to hear and value one another in the same way.

Lord, help me to listen better and love sincerely.

Empathy 101

May 19th, 2016 by Maureen

God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. 2 Cor. 3b-4a

Sometimes our responses to the sorrow of others is to try and cheer them up, as through there is something illegitimate, weak or embarrassing about sorrow. Occasionally we all need someone who knows and loves us to say “snap out of it” because we are enjoying the blues a bit too much or to intervene when we are spiraling. It is not empathy, however, to dismiss other people’s sorrows because they make us uncomfortable or cause us inconvenience. Jesus’ response to his friends’ troubles was to show up with help, hope, and friendship… and sometimes He wept with them. Christ still shows up for us when we are hurting. He cares about us when we experience sadness and depression. We affirm the heart of Christ for others when we are willing to mourn with those who mourn. This is empathy.

Holy Spirit, help me to enter into the experiences of my friends who are sad and teach me how to respond in ways that brings real comfort and peace.

Some thoughts on dire straits (not the band)

February 21st, 2016 by Maureen

We don’t want you to be ignorant, brothers, about the affliction we suffered in Asia, that we were burdened excessively beyond our power our to cope. We even despaired of life itself. 2 Cor. 1:8

As a leader in a new, exciting faith movement it doesn’t seem like publicly confessing despair would be the best strategy. The Corinthian people to whom Paul was writing were his followers, his spiritual children, his donors. How could they be expected to listen to him and support his ministry when he’s confessing that he landed in dire straits, couldn’t work or pray his way out of it, and then despaired?  But Paul wasn’t about building credibility for his leadership position, defending God’s faithfulness, spinning a bad experience, selling a plan for overcoming trouble, or teaching faith strategies for avoiding trouble altogether. He was about  facing reality, being transparent, and trusting and depending on God even when he faced things he couldn’t understand, explain, or fix.

Lord, when the straits get dire and I can’t cope, thank You for always being with me.

 

Already gone

February 2nd, 2016 by Maureen

I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten. Joel 2:25; If anyone is is Christ the new has come and the old has gone. 2 Cor. 5:17; Behold I make all things new. Rev. 21:5

There is no loss, no baggage, no regret, no failure in our lives that Christ cannot restore. There is no old, used up, distorted, ragged, broken, torn, vermin-ridden mess in our lives that Christ cannot make new. In fact, because we are in Christ that shiny new restored life is already bestowed upon us through salvation and the old life is already gone.  It’s only from our perspective that it is not being realized. He has made us free to live the life He realizes for us.

Lord, help me to decide, to respond, to live, and to think based on what You have made new.

The people who matter

January 13th, 2016 by Maureen

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. 2 Cor. 5:16a

Humans have a tendency to make assumptions about one another based on appearance, income, zip code, and other superficial qualities. We tend to assign value based on talents, contributions, or earning potential. Jesus responded to each unique individual with genuine interest and love…and still does. We can choose to hear and value one another in the same way. The people who matter are all of us!

Lord, help me to listen better and love sincerely.