Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday, November 25: 2 Corinthians 12-13, Acts 20:2-3, Romans 1-2

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 2 Corinthians 12-13, Acts 20:2-3, Romans 1-2
A few things stood out from today's readings:

Paul's "thorn". I found this commentary here (Emphasis in bold is mine)

Paul speaks of a “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Corinthians 12:7. He calls it “a messenger of Satan” that had a purpose of “torment.” Many explanations have been put forward, but whether Paul is referring to a physical, spiritual, or emotional affliction—or something else entirely—has never been answered with satisfaction. Since he was not talking of a literal thorn, he must have been speaking metaphorically. Some of the more popular theories of the thorn’s interpretation include temptation, a chronic eye problem, malaria, migraines, epilepsy, and a speech disability. Some even say that the thorn refers to a person, such as Alexander the coppersmith, who did Paul “a great deal of harm” (2 Timothy 4:14). No one can say for sure what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, but it was a source of real pain in the apostle’s life.

Paul clues us in concerning the thorn’s purpose: “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations.” So, God’s goal in allowing the thorn in the flesh was to keep Paul humble. Anyone who had encountered Jesus and was commissioned personally by Him (Acts 9:2-8) would, in his natural state, become “puffed up.” Add to that the fact that Paul was moved by the Holy Spirit to write much of the New Testament, and it is easy to see how Paul could become “haughty” (KJV) or “exalted above measure” (NKJV) or “too proud” (NCV).

Paul also says that the affliction came from or by a “messenger of Satan.” Just as God allowed Satan to torment Job (Job 1:1-12), God allowed Satan to torment Paul for God’s own good purpose.

No one likes to live in pain. Paul sought the Lord three times to remove this source of pain from him (2 Corinthians 12:8). He probably had many good reasons why he should be pain-free: he could have a more effective ministry; he could reach more people with the gospel; he could glorify God even more! But the Lord was more concerned with building Paul’s character and preventing pride. Instead of removing the problem, whatever it was, God gave Paul more overwhelming grace and more compensating strength. Paul learned that God’s “power is made perfect in weakness” (verse 9).

The exact nature of Paul’s thorn in the flesh is uncertain. There is probably a good reason that we don’t know. God likely wanted Paul’s difficulty to be described in general enough terms to apply to any difficulty we may face now. Whether the “thorn” we struggle with today is physical, emotional, or spiritual, we can know that God has a purpose and that His grace is all-sufficient.

What a comfort to know that whatever we are going through that God is with us and that He can use a hardship  in our lives for good.

11 Finally, brothers,[b] rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another,[c] agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Paul's closing words to the Corinthians can be compared to Christ's instructions as we await his return:

Rejoice - the battle has already been won and God is victorious. Aim for restoration - forgive because you are forgiven. Comfort one another - Love your neighbour as yourself and take care of their needs. Agree with one another- do not stir up anger and cause divisions with others. Live in peace- Live as Jesus did. the God of love and peace will be with you - The Holy Spirit

Romans also had some key verses:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,[e] as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
The message of salvation is for all. Not for some. Not for a select few. All. 
 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

Christianity is more than believing God exists. Even Satan acknowledges God. When we fail to live our lives for God and within His plan, we become foolish. We may not even fully comprehend how our foolish thinking can deny our eternal salvation. We rely on ourselves instead of God. That is a recipe for disaster.

 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

Just like the gift of salvation is for everyone, so is the accountability for our actions. One day we will all have to give an account before God. No matter what "thorns" we endure. Not matter what happens in our lives while we wait for Christ's return. We all will face judgement.

From this commentary:

"...perhaps a lot of so-called Christians do not have the assurance of salvation because they are not really saved. Just because you attend church or engage in certain religious activities does not necessarily mean you are a Christian. The Apostle Paul instructed those in the early church to examine themselves to see if their faith was genuine (2 Corinthians 13:5). 
So, how do I know if you are a Christian? How do you know if I'm one? There must be evidence. Jesus said, "By their fruits you shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). If someone examined your life, would they find any spiritual fruit—hard evidence to prove that you are a true follower of Jesus Christ? 
Or, let me put it another way: If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? By "evidence," I don't mean how many Bibles you own, or how many bumper stickers you might have on your car with Christian sayings on them. I mean hard evidence. If your family members, neighbors, and coworkers were interviewed and asked the question, "Is (your name here), in your opinion, a real Christian?" we might not be happy with the response. 
The only way others can tell whether you are a Christian is by your works. While all the good works in the world won't save a person (Titus 3:5), they are reasonable evidence that someone is saved. 
In a nutshell, all the great religions of the world, apart from Christianity, say, "Do." "Do this and you might go to heaven," "Do that and you might find nirvana," and so on. Christianity, in contrast, says, "Done." 
In other words, God has taken care of your salvation through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He cried out, "It is finished!" He purchased your ticket to heaven at the cross. But having received that ticket, your life should reflect your commitment to Christ. Works won't save you, but if you really are saved, then works will follow (2 Corinthians 5:17). Has that happened to you? Has there been a change in your life?

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year PassageRomans 3-7

1 comment:

Tammy said...

Great thoughts here Pamela.

No matter the thorns in our lives we can know that God's plan and purpose always prevails.

The Romans passage could totally be talking about our society today. It seems so hopeless at times, but we need to continue to share the Good News!