Day 286 – Read 2 Corinthians 9:8-15
2 Corinthians 9:8 – And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
As Paul continues his teaching on giving, he puts into one verse a great truth that all believers should know and understand. It is easily divided into three parts that make it easy for us to see the picture he is painting. I have described them as the rain, reservoir, and river.
The Rain: “God is able…” We all need water. Where I live, much of the water comes from the rain. At present, we are experiencing a drought, the reservoirs are low, and water is being rationed. We cannot produce the rain, we cannot control the rain, but we are dependent upon it because the rain is our source of water.
Just like the rain, God is our source of all grace. Some have limited the context of this passage to the grace of giving. But it clearly states that God is able to make “all grace” abound toward us so that we can have sufficiency in “all things.” That goes far beyond giving. God is our Source of total supply. Everything we need comes from Him, and it is more than enough to meet all of our needs. And since it is grace, it is not something we deserve or earn by our good works. It comes to us freely through Jesus Christ.
The Reservoir: “that you…” While God is the Source, we are the reservoir. As the rain of God’s grace fills our lives we are blessed. He supplies our every need. But, we have an important choice to make. When the reservoir is full it cannot receive any more water. In order not to become stagnant, the water must flow. So it is with us. We are not just recipients of God’s grace, we must become distributors of His grace.
The River: “An abundance for every good work.” As the reservoir releases water into the river, it flows to the valley below bringing refreshing and life to those living there. So it is that we, as recipients of God’s grace, are not just saved to go to heaven, but we are saved to serve. We are blessed to bless others. All grace is given to us so that we can abound in every good work. Let God’s grace flow to you and through you so that others may be blessed.
Day 285 – Read 2 Corinthians 9:1-7
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 – But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
The law of sowing and reaping is as old as creation. When God created the earth He put seeds in the fruit trees and plants so that they could reproduce. After the flood He said to Noah, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest… shall not cease.” But, sowing and reaping is not limited only to the material realm, it is an important spiritual principle as well.
Jesus stated it this way in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” And Paul told the Galatians, “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (6:7)
Giving is like planting a seed. You don’t hear a farmer saying he wishes he could keep his seed instead of sowing it. He knows that if he doesn’t sow, he can’t reap. When he does sow his seed, he doesn’t do it grudgingly. He sows with joy and expectation for the harvest he will reap. It should be the same with giving. We give with joy because we know it will come back to us in blessing. And, our giving should always be from the heart, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Some seeds result in a quick harvest, others take longer to produce. Some seeds come back to us in material blessings, some come back to us in other ways, and some are laid up in store for us in heaven. As it says in Proverbs 11:24-25, “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. 25 The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.”
Day 284 – Read 2 Corinthians 8
2 Corinthians 8:9 –For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
If Jesus were just a mere man we would have to question the validity of this verse. From what we know about His earthly life, He was not rich. His father was a carpenter in a small town, and we don’t find anywhere that he was wealthy. When Jesus began His ministry He told those who wanted to follow Him that He didn’t have anywhere to lay His head. He owned no property, He didn’t even own a donkey, and He left no earthly inheritance, only His peace.
But, Jesus was more than a mere man. He was also God. As the Creator of all things, the fullness of the earth was His. Not only that, but the riches of glory belonged to Him. Nothing could compare to the measure of His wealth. But for our sake, He gave it all up.
It was by grace. This means that there were no strings attached. We didn’t deserve it, and we certainly couldn’t earn it or buy it. But, because of His great love for us, Jesus emptied Himself of all of His heavenly glory, laying it aside so He could become a servant of man and die a horrible death on the cross. Through His poverty, we then can become rich. The wealth of heaven becomes ours as we put our faith and trust in Him. We, who were once lost and separated from God, become sons and daughters of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
Because of Jesus, we become eternally rich. The Kingdom of God is ours. We may not have a lot of silver and gold, those are only temporal, material things; but we are rich toward God with treasures laid up for us in heaven. We are rich in love, joy, peace, and so much more. We have a wealth of relationships, and an everlasting hope. We are not limited to life on this planet, but we look forward with great expectation to all that God has in store for us in eternity. We who were poor have become rich.
Day 283 – Read 2 Corinthians 7
2 Corinthians 7:10 – For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Everyone responds differently when caught doing something they shouldn’t do. One might quickly confess, another might make excuses or blame someone else, and another might just keep silent. At times, it is hard to admit we are wrong because we don’t want to face the consequences. But admitting we are wrong is not always bad.
One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of sin. When this happens, it is important how we respond. If we blame someone else, make excuses, or deny it altogether, it won’t do us any good. But, the Holy Spirit doesn’t convict us so He can punish us. He convicts us for our own good.
If we receive His conviction and confess our sin and repent, we will be forgiven, cleansed, and free to fellowship with God. Repentance is a change in mind, or a change in direction. It means we will stop doing what was wrong, and start doing what is right. Sorrow produced by God will always lead to salvation if we repent. The work of salvation is an ongoing process, and so from time to time the Holy Spirit will convict us of sin.
But, the sorrow of the world is something different. They don’t feel bad for what they did; they feel bad for getting caught. They feel bad because of the consequences they must face. But, if they didn’t think they would get caught, they would do it again. There is no change in heart, no change in mind, no change in direction. The sad thing is that it leads to death instead of salvation. Death is separation from God. We can’t fellowship with God if we won’t repent of our sin.
The next time you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, repent. You will not regret it.
Day 282 – Read 2 Corinthians 5:9-21
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.
Everyone has a past. For some it was quite traumatic and left many wounds and scars. For others, their past was healthy and happy. But, the Bible says we were all born in sin. We all fail to measure up to God’s standard. There is none righteous. We all need a new beginning. Jesus said, we must be born again.
That new birth has been provided for us in Christ. Here, it is called a new creation. It is a fresh start. When we come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we are reconciled to God. All of our past sins are forgiven. We become sons and daughters of God. We are given a new nature, a new destiny, a new purpose, a new future. Everything becomes new.
Just as the creation of the world was a process that took 6 days, so the transforming work that the Holy Spirit does in us is a process. It takes time for our minds to be renewed. Spiritual healing and deliverance often take years to complete. But, just as in creation every day revealed the new work of God, so it is that the work of God continues in our lives every day. As Paul told the Philippians, the good work that God has begun in us will continue until the day of Jesus Christ.
Don’t let your past determine your future. In Christ you can start anew. God has good plans for you.
Day 281 – Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-8
2 Corinthians 5:1 – For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
There are a lot of people who fear death. And, those who do not know the Lord should. Without the assurance of salvation, there is not much to look forward to beyond this life. But, Paul begins this chapter with some important words: “For we know…” He is not writing about something that is uncertain. He is not declaring a hopeful desire. He is not expressing a good idea. Paul is writing to believers in Jesus Christ about the assurance we have in the resurrection. There is no doubt. We know that we have a house prepared for us in eternity.
Those were some of the last words of Jesus to His disciples in John 14:1-3. He told them not to worry because He was going to prepare a place for them. Those are comforting words for us, too. It doesn’t matter if we live to be 100, or if we die young, this life is not all there is, and this world is not our home. Jesus is preparing a place for us.
Paul even says that we groan, earnestly desiring to move into our new house (vs. 2). Our spirit knows that this body, even though serving as the Temple of God, is only temporary. It is like living in an apartment while we wait for our new house to be built. It will serve a purpose for a time, but the goal is to move into our own home. Then Paul says something of great importance, while we are in this body we are absent from the Lord (vs. 6). God’s desire, and the goal of this life, is to live in fellowship with God. But there are so many limitations and things that get in the way of that fellowship. So, Paul reaches his conclusion with these words, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (vs. 8).
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have nothing to worry about. Your future is settled. There is no guessing, speculating, or wondering about it. We know that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, and He will come again and take us there. This should fill our hearts with the peace that passes all understanding.
Day 280 – Read 2 Corinthians 4:8-18
2 Corinthians 4:17 – For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Most of us look at trials as a bother and a waste of time. We see them as an attack of the enemy, or an interference with our plans. We don’t like them; we don’t want them; and we want to get them over as soon as possible. But, Paul gives us a different perspective of our trials.
First, he refers to them as a light affliction. The word ‘light’ refers to the weight of a burden. Something light is easy to carry, or to bear. But, when you look at the life of Paul, his trials were anything but light. At the time of his conversion God told Ananias that Paul would suffer many things (Acts 10:16). He was whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and much more. And yet, Paul refers to his afflictions as light.
Secondly, he says they are just for a moment. But, another look at Paul’s life reveals that his trials weren’t a onetime experience, but an ongoing lifestyle. It seems as if he went from one trial to another. Nevertheless, instead of trying to avoid them, he saw his trials as working for him. That is what he wrote in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God…”
Finally, he contrasts our trials with the glory they are working in us. The affliction is light, but the glory is like a heavy weight. Perhaps he is thinking of the weight of gold. It is something valuable. Also, our trial is but for a moment, but the glory is eternal. In fact, the comparison is so hard to make that he says the difference is “far more exceeding…” They can’t really be compared.
So, the next time you find yourself going through a trial, meditate on this verse. God is doing something good in your life.
Day 279 – Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-7
2 Corinthians 4:7 – But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
There are times when the ways of God don’t make sense to the natural mind. If you have something of great value, it seems only natural that it would be kept in a precious vessel, or at least in a vessel that is unbreakable where the treasure would be safe. But that is not the way of God. He has deposited His greatest treasure in jars of clay.
The earthen vessels Paul was referring to were common ordinary pots kept around the house for everyday use. There was nothing special about them. They were fragile and easily broken. While they might have been used to hide something of value, they weren’t really safe. At no time would someone look at a clay pot and admire its beauty and value. If it had any value at all it was because of what it contained, and not because of the jar itself.
That is how Paul describes us as believers. We are just ordinary earthen vessels, easily broken. But, God has deposited in us a great treasure. If any great work is accomplished through us, it is not because of who we are, but because of what we contain. We have the treasure of the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation; we have the treasure of the Holy Spirit who gives us power to be witnesses; we have the treasure of Christ in us who is the hope of glory.
None of us can take the credit for anything good we do. It is not the power or ability of our clay pot, but the treasure of God within us. Don’t try to decorate your pot so it gets all of the attention. Let others see the treasure you contain so they will give glory to God.
Day 278 – Read 2 Corinthians 3
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 – Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Paul has been contrasting the Old and New Covenants. The Old, based upon the letter and dependent upon outward obedience, could only produce death. But the New, based upon the indwelling Holy Spirit, would transform the believer into the image of Christ resulting in life and liberty.
In the Old Testament the people were bound by the Law, and unable to enter into the presence of the Lord. His glory was hidden from them and, as with the face of Moses, faded over time. But the glory of the New Covenant is available to all, and increases as we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us into the image of Christ. We are now at liberty, free from the yoke of the Law, free from sin, free from condemnation, free from the penalty of sin, free from death, free to be all that God created us to be.
As the Holy Spirit produces His fruit in our lives, we are transformed from glory to glory into the character of Christ. This is something the Law could not do. But the Holy Spirit, dwelling in our hearts, renewing our mind, giving life to the Word of God, is actively changing us to be more like Christ. As the Apostle John said, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 Jn. 3:2).
We have not reached perfection yet, but we are on our way. Allow the Holy Spirit to daily transform you, setting you free from the bondages of the past, and making you more like Christ.
Day 277 – Read 2 Corinthians 2
2 Corinthians 2:14 – 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.
Paul uses a well known custom among the Romans to express the victory we have in Christ. He also refers to this in Colossians 2:15, where he states that Christ, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”
When the Roman army had won a great victory, they would strip the captives of their armor, and march them through the entrance of the city for everyone to see. While they did this, the temple altars would be aflame with incense, and the doors of the temples would be opened so that the fragrance would fill the air.The application for us is that, because of His victory on the cross and resurrection from the dead, we are always triumphant in Christ. He has defeated the enemy, and now leads us in victory. As we follow Christ, our redeemed and transformed lives fill the air with the fragrance of what He has done in us. For God, it is a sweet smelling savor; but for the enemy it is the stench of defeat.
We must take note that, as we follow Christ, He always leads us in triumph. As long as we are walking in His ways nothing can defeat us. No matter how bad things might seem, we are still more than conquerors in Christ. The end result will always be victory. That is a good reason to give thanks unto God.