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 May 13, 2018

Please read today’s Scriptures and use the comment section on this page to share your insights from today’s reading. You can also just mention a verse that impacted you or post a question!

Read (and Hear) the Bible in One Year

Text: 2 Chronicles 9 – 12
Audio: 2 Chronicles 9 – 12

You can use the audio Bible as a guide to help “set the pace” as you read along.

Memory Verse of the Week

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret,
whereas worldly grief produces death. ”
(2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV)

2 Corinthians 12 (ESV)

I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses—though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 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 made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing.12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

14 Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit.17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?

19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. 20 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.

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This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. [Forgive me for this is a long post, and I could not think of how to abbreviate it without losing context. If you have time, I encourage you to read through the section on 'a messenger of Satan']

    Paul in this chapter continues his defense against character assassination

    Defense: Visions and Revelations from Christ (2 Corinthians 12:1-6)

    "Boasting": Boasting, self-glorifying. Is there anything more annoying … well, perhaps the self-know-it-all, but, this is one of the top annoying behaviors. Even when someone is talking about 'skills' or qualities they really possess, it still comes off as wrong. For instance, in my field, there are many talented software developers; and the best software developers never have to boast about their skill; in fact, others usually do it for them. But when you have someone keep boasting about all of their accomplishments, it becomes annoying.

    So, what does the Bible teach about boasting?

    • Boasting in family (Proverbs 17:6)
    • Pride (boasting) in age (Proverbs 16:31)
    • Boasting about God (Jeremiah 9:23-24, Psalm 5:11, Rom 3:27 [by implication], Eph 2:8-10 [by implication])

    The Bible tells us to boast in God, never in self. This is the pattern of behavior that Paul is actually trying to counter in Corinth where these 'super-apostles' come in and boast of their knowledge and power, and is why Paul is so apologetic about having to 'boast' to defend his character. 

    "I know a man" This sounds like the opening of a joke, but character assassination is no joke. Paul speaks of himself in the third person. Why does he talk about himself in the third person? Paul says "… but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me."  2 Corinthians 12:6 (ESV) It is a literary technique to deflect self-honor, he wanted to be judged on the quality of his character rather than the sensationalism of his 'experiences'.

    There is a good lesson in this for me. It is so easy to listen to the sensational stories that some 'believers' weave, but I must evaluate these stories against the integrity of their character. Does their character align with their stories?

    "third heaven" Paul refers to this as 'paradise'. He uses the term 'third heaven' to distinguish this from the atmosphere or the 'stars'. (Psalm 148:4)

    Defense: Thorn in the Flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

    "a messenger of Satan" Paul believes in Satan as a physical being. And Satan has 'messengers'. It is the same word that is translated as 'angel' elsewhere. I believe these to be the evil fallen angels, also known as demons. Below is from Lectures in Systematic Theology by Henry Thiessen.

    "Some distinguish between evil angels and demons, but it seems more likely that they are one and the same. They are actively involved in opposing God and his program.

    1. They endeavor to separate the believer from Christ (Rom 8:38).
    2. They oppose the good angels in their work (Daniel 10:12f)
    3. They cooperate with Satan in the carrying out of his purposes and plans (Matt 25:41; Eph 6:12; Rev 12:7-12)
    4. They cause physical and mental disorders (Matt 9:33; 12:22; Mark 5:1-16; Luke 9:37-42)
    5. The phrase "unclean spirit" suggests that they lead men into moral impurity (Matt 10:1; Acts 5:16)
    6. They disseminate false doctrine (2 Thess 2:2; 1 Tim 4:1)
    7. The oppose God's children in their spiritual progress (Eph 6:12)
    8. They sometimes possess human beings and even animals (Matt 4:24; Mark 5:8-14; Luke 8:2; Acts 8:7; 16:16). A distinction must be made between demon influence and demon possession; the former is a temporary operation of the demons from without, the latter the more permanent operation from within.
    9. They are sometimes used by God in the carrying out of his purposes (Jud 9:23; 1 Kings 22:21-23; Ps 78:49). It appears that he will especially so use them during the tribulation period (Rev 9:1-12; 16:13-16). They will apparently be invested with miraculous powers for a time (2 Thess 2:9, Rev 16:14). "

    Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Revised Edition, 1979), 145-146.

    Do not underestimate Satan and his messengers. Here they are sent to harass the believer. But as seen above, they do so much more. We are told to resist the devil, and by implication, his messengers. Thiessen goes on to explain that there are three levels of demonology described in the Bible.

    • Fortune-telling. (Ezekiel 21:21; Gen  44:5; Isaiah 47:13; Acts 16:16)
    • Direct worship of Demons (Deut 32:17; Ps 106:37; 1 Cor 10:19f; Rev 13:4; 16:13f)
    • Spiritualism or spiritism
      "Spiritism is the belief that the living can communicate with the dead and that the spirits of the dead can manifest their presence to men." Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, pg 146 (Lev 19:31; 20:6, 27;  Deut 18:11; 2 Kings 21:6; 23:24; 1 Chron 10:13; 2 Chron 33:6; Isa 8:19; 19:3; 29:4; 1 Sam 28:3-14)

    It is easy to think that worship of angels is something reserved for 'ancient Biblical times', but two of three elements are common today.

    The one level that we do not hear about as frequently is demon worship. I do recall hearing stories from the 1970's of demon worship, Satanism, and sacrifices – but I don't know how much was sensationalism or real.

    Today, late night television advertises fortune-telling and you do not have to go far to see signs for mediums helping to connect with the dead. Talking with the dead is made popular by movies (e.g., Poltergeist, Sixth Sense, Ghost, etc), television shows (e.g., Crossing Over), and 'reality T.V.' (e.g., Ghost Hunters). This is all related to demonology and for the Christian, we are to flee such things (Lev 19:31; 1 Cor 10:20; Deut 18:10-14; Isaiah 8:19).

    We are encouraged to "try the spirits, to see whether they be of God or not" (1 John 4:1; 1 Cor 12:10).

    In the Sixties and Seventies, one popular medium was the Ouija board. This may seem like harmless fun, but have nothing to do with it. My mother got involved with this before I was born. I am told that it predicted that two of three children would be born with a hare lip and cleft palette. My younger sister and I were both born with a double hare lip and cleft palette. I recall my mom warning me sternly, as a young boy of four or five, to stay away from the attic because of this board. I also recall her burning the board some time later in our back yard. Make no mistake, this is demonology and is wrong.

    Defense: Apostolic Signs (2 Corinthians 12:11-18)

    2 Corinthians 12:12-13 (ESV)
    12  The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.
    13  For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

    "signs of a true apostle" The letters to the Corinthians do not describe what these signs are, other than in the generic terms stated here 'signs and wonders and mighty works'. I need to be careful for the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. Just because we do not have documentation of these signs and wonders, does not mean that they did not occur. Paul seems to indicate that they did. I speculate that as the Corinthians read this letter that it would be obvious to them what Paul is talking about. However, God, for our instruction does not include particulars because otherwise I suspect we would 'idolize' the particulars and forget the teaching. True ministry is genuine. True ministers do not seek to puff themselves up, but much like John the Baptist cry out that "I must decrease that He [Christ] may increase" (John 3:30).

    Defense: Courage in Dealing with Sin (2 Corinthians 12:19-21)

    Paul wants to come to visit the Corinthians for a third time (2 Corinthians 12:14). He would personally like to come as a father, caring for his children, however, he warns them that if he has to, he will come as a father ready to discipline his children.

    2 Corinthians 12:21 (ESV)
    21  I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.

    Note, he is not talking about 'falling into sin' or 'making a mistake'. He is talking about habitual practice of sin. In this case there is no remorse, there is no repentance. Leaders in God's church, as much as it pains them, must be willing to have courage to deal with sin.

    Paul defends his character by stating that no matter the controversy in the church, he will still deal with sin when he comes to see them again.

    1. Wonderful comments, brother. Thanks for taking the time to study and share today.

      Our church is blessed to have your leadership and insight into God's truth.

       

       

  2. But he [Jesus] 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

    Praising the Lord in Suffering

    No one likes to suffer. If we enjoyed it, it wouldn't be suffering. Suffering by definition is undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. It's not something we want to prolong and if we have to endure it, we want it to stop as quickly as possible.

    For some denominations of Christianity, all suffering must be dealt with through healing and deliverance. If someone is sick (weakness), they need to be healed. If someone is harassed by a "messenger of Satan", then that person needs to be delivered. There doesn't seem to be much thought given or prayerful consideration to the possibility of the weakness being purposed by God so that His power is made perfect in weakness. 

    Also common in these denominations is the teaching that if you're not healed, you don't have enough faith. Tell that to the Apostle Paul!

    Paul prayed (pleaded with the Lord) three times that the thorn in his flesh would leave him. I don't believe this was three times in a row but rather, three seasons of deep, pleading, faithful and believing prayer. Why didn't Paul go to someone with the gift of healing to be healed? Why didn't he just cast out this messenger of Satan? Because he learned (in red-letter revelation from the Lord Jesus), "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

    Notice that Jesus didn't say His power is made perfect in healing or deliverance. The Lord is using suffering to show Paul that His grace is sufficient for him and so he could experience the power of Christ's perfecting work through the suffering of the thorn. 

    Paul then speaks of gladly boasting in his weakness so the power of Christ may rest on him. The power of Christ is not resting on Paul because God took away Paul suffering. God's sufficient grace and the perfecting power of Christ IN his weakness is why Paul is boasting and why he says in 2 Corinthians 12:10, "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

    For people who are self-centered, they only glorify God if they are healed or delivered. But true disciples of Christ are followers who genuinely love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength and trust Him want to live and die for the sake of Christ. But the other "greatest commandment" is to love others as ourselves. 

    When we endure suffering for the sake of Christ, it shows the power of Christ to those we know and love who either do not know Him or have not experienced this level of love and affection for the Lord Jesus. 

    Jesus said in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." Our thorn may not kill us but are we willing to lay down our desire, expectation or even demands to be delivered and healed if it means we will understand that Christ's grace is sufficient for us and that His power is made perfect in our weakness?

    Father, I pray you help us grasp these things which are impossible to comprehend without the illumination of your Spirit. Help us see, Lord. Help us see. 
     

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