Posts tagged ‘2 Corinthians’

March 14, 2014

843 Acres Lent: Faith Is the True Shibboleth

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 1 (txt | aud, 3:28 min)
2 Cor 13 (txt | aud, 1:53 min)
Highlighted: 2 Cor 13:5

Test: In his letters, Paul sometimes tells believers to test their faith. Here, in his letter to the Corinthians, for example, he writes, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” [1] How do we, though, examine ourselves?

Shibboleth: In an episode of The West Wing, President Bartlett has to decide whether to grant asylum to some Christian refugees from China. When he meets with his aides, Josh Lyman advises him, saying, “The INS agents feel it’s not uncommon in this situation for refugees to ‘feign faith.’ How do we tell the difference between — ” Bartlett interrupts, “You know what a Shibboleth is?” Then he quotes Judges 12:6: “‘Then say Shibboleth,’ and he said, ‘Sibboleth,’ for he could not pronounce it right. Then they seized him.” “It was a password,” Bartlett explains. “The way the army used to distinguish true Israelites from imposters sent across the river Jordan by the enemy.” [2] He then decides to meet with one of the refugees.

Bartlett: There are questions as to the veracity of your claim to asylum.
Cheng-Wei: Yes, sir.
Bartlett: How did you become a Christian?
Cheng-Wei: I began attending a house church with my wife in Fujian. Eventually, I was baptized.
Bartlett: How do you practice?
Cheng-Wei: We share Bibles; we don’t have enough. We sing hymns. We hear sermons. We recite the Lord’s Prayer. We are charitable.
Bartlett: Who’s the head of your church?
Cheng-Wei: The head of our parish is an 84-year-old man named Wei-Ling. He has been beaten and imprisoned many times. The head of our church is Jesus Christ.
Bartlett: Can you name any of Jesus’s apostles? If you can’t, that’s okay. I usually can’t remember the names of my kids.
Cheng-Wei: Peter, Andrew, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, Thaddeus, Simon, Judas, and James. [Pause] Mr. President, Christianity is not demonstrated through a recitation of facts. You’re seeking evidence of faith, a wholehearted acceptance of God’s promise of a better world. “For we hold that man is justified by faith alone,” is what Saint Paul said. Justified by faith alone. Faith is the true Shibboleth. [3]

Prayer: Lord, it’s not right works or right doctrine that saves. It’s faith alone. Therefore, we confess that we are sinners in need your great mercy. We need your saving grace to give us faith, to help us keep faith, and to work out faith in our lives. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Reading:

Saturday, March 15: Prov 2 (txt | aud, 1:56 min) & Gal 1 (txt | aud, 2:44 min)
Sunday, March 16: Prov 3 (txt | aud, 3:08 min) & Gal 2 (txt | aud, 3:11 min)

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Footnotes

[1] 2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV | [2] Bartlett’s meeting with his advisors (VIDEO) | [3] Bartlett’s meeting with Cheng-Wei (AUDIO)

March 12, 2014

843 Acres Lent: Praying for Others

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 41 (txt | aud, 3:10 min)
2 Cor 11 (txt | aud, 4:13 min)

Prayer-Pleading: Paul frequently asks his fellow believers to pray for him. Sometimes he simply says, “Brothers, pray for us.” [1] Other times, he passionately pleads, “Strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf.” [2] And we know why he so desperately needs their prayers. As he testifies, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” [3]

Prayer-Needing: Paul is brilliant and intense. He is a great man, a spiritual warrior, and a chosen instrument of God. Yet he needs others to pray for him. Why? First, he cannot accomplish his work apart from God’s grace: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” [4] Second, moral growth and ministry success come only by prayer. As Paul tells the Philippians: “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment” (moral growth) [5] and writes to the Thessalonians: “Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored” (ministry success). [6]

Prayer-Doing: Lord, We long for grace, moral growth, and ministry success in our lives. Thus, we know that we must meet with you in prayer. We must boast in our weaknesses apart from you, knowing that we cannot accomplish the most-lasting achievements on this earth apart from your might, power, glory, and love. Let us not be lazy in praying for one another—that your grace would abound in our lives, that our love may grow in knowledge and depth of insight, and that your word may speed ahead and be honored in our lives—even as we endure hardship for our obedience like Paul did. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] See Colossians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1. | [2] Romans 15:30 ESV | [3] 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 ESV | [4] 1 Corinthians 15:10 ESV. See also 1 Peter 4:11; Hebrews 13:20-21. | [5] Philippians 1:9 ESV. See also Colossians 1:9-10; Luke 22:40. | [6] 2 Thessalonians 3:1. See also Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 4:3-4.

March 11, 2014

843 Acres Lent Tweetables: From Come-See to Go-Tell

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 40 (txt | aud, 2:12 min)
2 Cor 10 (txt | aud, 2:21 min)
Highlighted: 2 Cor 10

Discerning Brokenness

Prior to the coming of Jesus, God worked primarily through Israel by blessing them so that the nations could see and know God as Lord.

Thus, the temple in Jerusalem was extravagant – pure gold on the inside, gold chains in the inner sanctuary, a golden altar. #comesee

The OT pattern “is a come-see religion … a geographic center … a physical temple, an earthly king, a political regime …” @johnpiper

Imagining Redemption

When Jesus came into the world, come-see became go-tell: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Jesus himself is the temple, the king …

The shift from place (come-see) to person (go-tell) meant a change in our lifestyles. For we are “aliens and strangers in the world.”

Tho we live in the world, we don’t wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. #2Cor10 #gotell

Praying ACTS

Lord, We #adore you for preparing a future home for us. For this world is not our home – not even Jesus had a place to lay his head.

Yet we #confess that we often want to build lavish “homes” here, with come-see mentalities, not a go-tell ones.

We give you #thanks for giving us great gain in godliness w/contentment. For we brought nothing into the world & can take nothing out of it.

Therefore, may we lay up treasures in heaven as a firm foundation for the coming age – that we may take hold of true life. #supplication

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March 10, 2014

843 Acres Lent: The End of Knowledge

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 39 (txt | aud, 2:48 min)
2 Cor 9 (txt | aud, 2:26 min)
Highlighted: Job 39

Knowledge: At some point, we reach the end of knowledge—even in science. At the 2010 TED Conference in Houston, Dr. David Eagleman argued, “When you get to the pier of everything we know in science, we see that beyond it is all unchartered waters, all the stuff that we don’t know, the vast mysteries around us like dark matter and dark energy or … what the fabric of reality is or what life and death are about. These are all things that are beyond the end of the pier in science. What you really learn from life in science is the vastness of our ignorance. [1]

Vastness: When God decides to answer Job’s complaint, He appears in a whirlwind with a simple message—that Job is not God [2] and that, unlike God, Job is surrounded by things he doesn’t understand and over which he has no control: “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? … Will the wild ox consent to serve you? … Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? … Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread its wings toward the south?” [3]

Gospel: In the gospel, we see the depths of our ignorance and the vastness of God’s glory. When Jesus hung on the cross, his enemies mocked him. Yet they were at the end of their knowledge. They did not understand that he chose to die to redeem his people. Even when Jesus’s body was laid in the tomb, his disciples mourned because they thought their hopes and dreams were dead. They did not know that he would rise again.

Prayer: Lord, As we consider our confusing and discouraging circumstances, we look upon the gospel and see how little we can know of your divine intentions and purposes. Our thoughts are but a breath. We admit with great humility that there is a vastness of knowledge beyond the pier of our understanding. Therefore, we plead with you to increase our faith in you. Let us not judge you with feeble minds, but instead let us remember your promise—that you will not forsake your people or abandon your heritage. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] David Eagleman. “TED Houston.” June 2010. | [2] “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” Job 38:2-3 | [3] Job 39 (various verses)

March 7, 2014

843 Acres Lent: The Temperament of Receptivity

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 36 (txt | aud, 3:06 min)
2 Cor 6 (txt | aud, 2:11 min)
Highlighted: 2 Cor 6:1-13

Art: In defining art, Oscar Wilde once wrote, “The temperament to which Art appeals … is the temperament of receptivity. That is all … The spectator is to be receptive. He is to be the violin on which the master is to play. And the more completely he can suppress his own silly views, his own foolish prejudices, his own absurd ideas of what Art should be, or should not be, the more likely he is to understand and appreciate the work of art in question.” [1] What if we defined life as Wilde defined art? That is, what if we saw our everyday struggles or frustrations not as impediments in our schedules, but as strokes in a painting? What if we gave up our expectations and just received?

Paul: In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says that we are God’s “handiwork” or “workmanship” or “masterpiece”—created in Christ Jesus to do good works. [2] He calls us a work of art with a purpose. Here, in 2 Corinthians 7, Paul shows us that his life was chiseled and painted with “afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger.” Yet the great work of art that came from his sufferings was the vibrant life of the church: “We put no obstacles in anyone’s way so that no fault may be found with our ministry … We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.”

Whatever: Paul approached his life as a work of art crafted by the Great Artist. In Wilde’s terms, Paul had a temperament of receptivity—“Whatever, Lord. Whatever you want to do with me, do it. I give up my silly views, my foolish prejudices, my absurd ideas of what my life should or should not be, so that I may know you and draw others into knowing you, too.”

Prayer: Lord, Creating art can be messy and uncertain and inefficient. Yet that is what you are doing with us. You are painting and chiseling all of us—together—to be your church, your people, your bride. During this Lenten season, open our eyes to see your handiwork as you see it. May we have hearts with temperaments of receptivity. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Reading:

Saturday, March 8: Job 37 (txt | aud, 2:16 min) & 2 Cor 7 (txt | aud, 2:24 min)
Sunday, March 9: Job 38 (txt | aud, 3:36 min) & 2 Cor 8 (txt | aud, 2:58 min)

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FAQs

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Footnotes

[1] See Maria Popova. “Oscar Wilde on Art.” Brain Pickings. August 27, 2013. | [2] Ephesians 2:10 NIV

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