Power Through Weakness
Power Through Weakness
No parent likes having to confront a misbehaving child. It tests and puts at risk the whole relationship, and especially so when the child is an adult. But real love is “tough love”! And that’s what Paul has been showing towards the Corinthian believers throughout this letter. In today’s passage Paul brings it all to a close as he issues a stern warning and a passionate appeal for them to check their hearts and prepare themselves for his upcoming visit. He desperately wanted to avoid a showdown, but he was ready for one if the situation required it. The troubles in the Corinthian church could be similar in your church or mine. But thank God for courageous, godly leaders like Paul. The nominal church urgently needs them today.
Too many Christians today start their journey of faith well – full of passion, enthusiasm and energy, but then somewhere along the journey they slowly drift away from faith. This is also a fairly accurate description of many within the Corinthian church at the time Paul is writing the letter of 2 Corinthians. In this passage he writes to them of the priority of continually strengthening their faith. This has been the primary purpose of Paul’s ministry to them. The…
Humility does not come naturally to most people, especially in today’s culture. But Christians who boast are a contradiction. Or are they? In today’s message we see Paul struggling with this tricky question as he defends himself against his opponents. But God “helped” him from becoming proud by giving him a thorn in the flesh – a messenger of Satan – a constant, painful reminder of his tendency to pride. But even then, God’s grace is always sufficient, and God’s power is always greater than his weakness. As Christians we have only one reason to boast, and that is in Jesus Christ and His cross (Galatians 6:14).
Who’d be an apostle? In today’s passage Paul passionately appeals to the Corinthians not to fall for the deception of his opponents in the Corinthian church. They were teaching a false gospel using methods to discredit Paul that were clearly malicious. He ends by exposing them as “deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ”, calls them servants of Satan, and pronounces their final judgement by God. This is some of the strongest language used in any of Paul’s writings. He doesn’t do this to protect his own reputation. He is motivated entirely out of love for them, that they won’t be led astray from Christ. O that church leaders today would be as concerned for their people!
Paul responds to those who seek to undermine his apostleship by arguing that his authority comes from Jesus, that the weapons of his authority have divine power and that he is prepared to powerfully wield his authority in order to build up the church.
As a follow-on from last week’s message, we continue exploring Paul’s teaching on giving. For at least some of us, giving does not come easily and, if we’re honest, we are not generous and cheerful. So in today’s message we look at some of the blessings that flow from generous giving. Paul tells us that when we give with the right motives it is like sowing seeds – seeds of righteousness – that will one day produce a harvest in our lives. In particular it liberates us from the bondage of materialism! It also results in thankfulness and praise to God, and strengthens relationships between the giver and the receiver. But most of all it reminds us of the ultimate gift we have been given by God – the Lord Jesus Christ! Have you received Him?
The question of money is always a touchy one among Christians. How much we earn, how much we give, and what we do with our money is “strictly private” in our culture, so it is with some trepidation that pastor’s raise the issue, for fear that their motives might be misconstrued. In actual fact, Jesus spoke often about money, and Paul is very upfront in today’s passage. In it he lays down a number of clear principles that help us think through the whole question of giving. Essentially he makes the case that giving is a natural, joyful response to the riches we receive through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than a burdensome duty, it is a sheer privilege to be able to share our resources with others in need. Is there someone God might want you to help financially?
Relationships are an essential part of life. We are created as social beings. Yet how often do we see relationships break down – marriages, families, neighbours, workmates, long-term friends, fellow Christians in the church… and so on. In today’s passage we see the great apostle Paul discussing his severely damaged relationship with the folk in the church at Corinth. Clearly, he was deeply affected by this breakdown between them. How did he deal with it? How did they respond? What can we learn? Listen in as Pastor Murray unpacks this chapter and challenges us to consider more carefully the state of our relationships in light of it.
Mention the word “holiness” and you can be sure to stir some debate. Sure, there are some wrong views among Christians as to what it means to be holy. But correctly understood, holiness is to be a major goal of every Christian. As Hebrews 12:14 puts it: “… without holiness no one will see the Lord”. But why is holiness so important? And what does holiness look like in practice? In today’s message Pastor Murray unpacks these sorts of questions, helping us to see more clearly that as God’s holy people we are fundamentally different from the world around us. We are set apart to live distinctively for Him, and this inevitably affects our relationships and partnerships with those who don’t share our faith. That may seem tough… but it’s necessary.
What would you do if you made a life-changing, life-saving discovery? You’d want to share your good news. And that was the thing that drove the apostle Paul to take his missionary life so seriously. He had met the risen Lord and that encounter changed him forever. Even if some didn’t appreciate him, his passion to share the gospel (‘the message of reconciliation’) could not be stopped. He knew what Christ had done in his own life and desperately wanted others to have a personal encounter with him, too. He saw himself as an ambassador of Christ and urged all believers to share this ‘message of reconciliation’ with others. Do you understand what Jesus has done for you? Have you made this great discovery? Let Him change your life today… forever!
Death is a subject people generally try to avoid, but does it have to be the dreaded elephant in the room? The apostle Paul says emphatically: “No”. And in today’s passage he gives us solid reasons why we can live confidently in the very face of death, and even look forward to life beyond the grave. For the Christian, this present life is only ever meant to be temporary. We are mortal. Our bodies wear out. But Christ offers eternal life and a “heavenly” body that will never wear out to those who believe in Him. To have that hope changes the way we see everything! And motivates us to live each day, free from the fear of death and alive to the things that really matter! Do you have that confidence? Listen to this challenging message and be encouraged.
When you discover something new that works so much better, why would you bother going back to the old? That’s essentially what the apostle Paul is saying in today’s passage. The people in the church at Corinth were being conned by some visiting “preachers”, who were telling them they had to go back to obeying the ancient law of Moses as the way to God. Paul knew from personal experience the futility of trying to live that way. So he exposes the inferiority of the law compared with the glory of being made righteous before God by trusting Jesus Christ. To meet Christ personally is to receive His life-giving Spirit and begin a whole new way of life. Why would you ever want to revert to a system that was broken, when Christ offers something far, far better!