2 Corinthians: Excellent Gifts

2 Corinthians: Excellent Gifts

2Ki.4:38-44; 2Cor.8:7-11

This last year, I participated in a Secret Santa gift exchange. I received one gift up front, a very nice pair of scented candles, and a note that’d I’d be receiving something else over time. I appreciated the candles… but I’m CRAZY about the Sock-Of-The-Month club that sends me weird and brightly colored socks! I occasionally light the candle… but I wear socks every day! Which gift do I appreciate?

How Do We Gauge A Good Gift?

We Value a Viewpoint ~ 2Kings 4:38-44

  • 38/41 miracle or mundane: how your view affects your reading of Scripture (I tend to think that this account is miraculous, because why include it otherwise?)
  • 42/44 seems familiar, right? Notice Elisha’s reasoning: “this is what the LORD says” – the prophet doesn’t feed these people/do a miracle because of what *he* thinks; it’s in response to God’s Word: OBEDIENCE ALLOWS MIRACLES TO BE SEEN

We Trust What We Test ~ 2Corinthians 8:7-11

  • 7 we can choose to excel in means of God’s grace (this is huge!) Growth in God’s Grace is EXPECTED
  • 8 Christian love is TESTABLE – we can *learn* about our love for others by testing its attributes (are we generous to all, or just some? What circumstances cause us to give sacrificially, and what others to only give grudgingly? What attributes are shared among those whom we feel compelled to serve? What attributes among those we feel it’s okay to ignore?)
  • 9 grace works well when given, not grasped (cf Phil 2)
  • 10/11 desire to help should be matched by willingness to work

Can you “test everything” on your own? Who helps you administer that testing in your life, and who holds you accountable for results?

Good Gifts are both GRANTED and GROWING

MEMORY VERSE: I Thessalonians 5:21: “Test everything. Hold on to the good.”


2 Corinthians: What Pulls You?

2 Corinthians: What Pulls You?

Zechariah 13:1-3; 2Cor. 2:14-17

The Parade of Nations is one of the biggest spectacles in the Olympics. The 2016 Rio Olympics in Brasil introduced an undesirable situation for the US TV audience. We’re used to watching the United States be one of the last entries in the parade… but in 2016, we were in the middle… because the Parade of Nations is alphabetical… and in Portuguese, the United States is known as the Estados Unidos!

Truth for the Processional Christian

Cleansing is FREE, not FORCED ~ Zechariah 13:1-3

  • 1 what cleanses sin? Perfect blood (the Cross)
  • 2/3 When God cleanses sin, it doesn’t mean future choices to sin are impossible; Jesus cleanses us, and we can choose to stay clean (or not)

Leading is HIS job, not OURS ~ 2Corinthians 2:14-17

  • 14 “triumphal procession” explanation; fragrance of knowledge; how do you know when the plant is preparing au gratin potatoes
  • 15 people can tell when God’s at work in us
  • 16 if you’re rejected for being a Christian, it means God is at work in you! They can’t stand HIM- you’re just the reminder
  • 17 “peddle for profit”=orig. Small time wine dealers who added extras to wine to dilute it and increase their profits. When anyone ADDS to God’s word (Jesus+works; Jesus+money; Jesus+obedienceWithoutQuestion), they are peddlers, watering down the truth of the Gospel for their own gain. Be on guard for such as these! God did not send them; don’t blame HIM!

We’re not leading the parade; we’re being led. We’re not the hero; we’re the proof that the Victor has won!

Can you call to mind a few things that you’re trying to lead, when you should be turning control of that over to God? Share that struggle with someone you trust this week, and have them ask you about letting go of that illusion of control.

2 Corinthians: The Picture of Repentance

2 Corinthians: The Picture of Repentance

2Corinthians 7:8-12

The “Behold the Man” fresco in Borja, Spain used to be a nice if unremarkable painting of Jesus. Painted on a church wall in 1930, the moisture of the wall was beginning to damage the picture. An elderly woman in the church decided to “fix” the painting… and her results became known around the world. Her attempt at restoration has been called “one woman’s vision of her savior, uncompromised by schooling”. It brings up the question: how DO we see Jesus in each other?

How Can We Restore The Image of Christ Among Us?

Carefully Craft the Frame of Repentance ~ Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

  • 1/3 approach worship carefully (joyful is NOT disrespectful)
  • 4/7 God expects to respect YOU; don’t break promises to God

Discern The Details of Repentance ~ 2Corinthians 7:8-12

  • 8/9 some sorrow is GOOD (even though it feels bad)
  • 10 not all sorrow is Godly
  • 11 the FRUIT of Godly sorrow changes your world
  • 12 when shared, repentance can build up the body

The Call to Repentance isn’t something to be shouted through a bullhorn; it’s to be lovingly crafted among those of us who are broken. What concrete steps could you take to repair a relationship this week?

2 Corinthians: We Lose To Win

2 Corinthians: We Lose To Win

2 Corinthians 6:11-7:1

In the 2017 Dallas Marathon, Chandler Self, a 32-year-old psychiatrist from New York City, was leading the race but she collapsed. That was when Ariana Luterman, a high school senior on a Texan relay team, helped the fallen runner to her feet. Self later admitted she didn’t prepare well for the race: she was under-rested and under-fed.

Lose the Hold on Sin to Win

We Stumble Because of Sin ~ Hosea 14:1-2, 9
Concept throughout OT

  • 1/2 Hosea pleads with God’s people: Your sin is tripping you up!
  • 9 When we give up our sin, we can walk without stumbling: hold on to it, and we’re stuck

We Seek An Open Heart ~ 2 Corinthians 6:11-13
Can’t do OT concept without this

  • 11/13 we’re unable to progress if our hearts are locked on our sin; we have to live as open hearted people

We Shake Off The Weight ~ 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1

  • 14 Hosea showed unequal yolking doesn’t work: Gomer kept leaving him because she wasn’t ready to give up her sin, not even for the love of a good man (and a great God)
  • 15 Belial: Heb. Slang for the Devil. Notice: this is NOT talking about differences in Christian theology: e.g. predestination Reformed vs. free will Baptist
  • 16/18 God lives AMONG us and IN us 1 perfecting holiness=epiteleO, to put the finishing touch/’cap off’ on holiness

Measure what you Treasure: search your heart – what are you fixated on? Write out the top 3 distractions competing with your spiritual growth.

MEMORIZE: Hebrews 12:1


2 Corinthians: Yes, Lord, Yes!

2 Corinthians: Yes, Lord, Yes!


The word “amen” is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and into English and many other languages, so that it is practically a universal word. It has been called the best-known word in human speech. The word is directly related–in fact, almost identical–to the Hebrew word for “believe” (aman), or “faithful.” Thus, it came to mean “sure” or truly,” an expression of absolute trust and confidence. When one believes God, he indicates his faith by an “amen.” When God makes a promise, the believer’s response is “amen”–”so it will be!”

Y.E.S. Lord:

God Doesn’t Yo-Yo

  • 18/19 He ALWAYS loves you; how do you know? EASTER! The Cross is the proof that The Father loves you – He gave His son in YOUR place. The Empty Grave is the proof that Jesus loves you – He rose to show that “even death cannot stop true love”

God Equips Us

  • 20 (cf. 2Pet.1:3-4) God’s promises are for our benefit: but given OUT OF who God is! .

God Steadies Us

  • 21/22: Our faith isn’t based in our actions. We don’t earn God’s salvation. God ESTABLISHES IT, SIGNS IT, SEALS IT, and GUARANTEES IT.

God has said YES to you… won’t you say YES to Him?

The Road To Resurrection: Short Sighted

The Road To Resurrection: Short Sighted

John 8:48-59

I broke my glasses last week, and took the opportunity to get a new eye exam. I now have a new eyeglass prescription – takes some getting used to!

The Spiritually Short-sighted Can’t

Keep The Whole Picture In Focus ~ John 8:48-53
(they can see the Big E, but not the fine print)

  • 48 follow up from last week: they can’t even concede that they DON’T serve God; instead they flip the idea (Samaritan=ungodly mish-mash of pagan/Caananite and old Jewish teaching)
  • 49/51 The RESULT of Actual Truth: Eternal Life
  • 52 short-sighted: Jews only focused on physical reality, when Jesus has been talking about spiritual reality the whole time

=> extension cord example: the END isn’t the point – the LENGTH is!

  • 53 Remember this question: it’s the setup for the entire Gospel truth!

See The Crucial Details ~ John 8:54-59
(focus on the unimportant and miss the rest)

  • 54/5 notice: Jesus does what He asks US to do: Keep God’s Word (cf. v51)
  • 56 cf Gen 12:3; “he saw it and was glad” =Jesus KNEW Abraham’s inner state
  • 57 again, His detractors are short-sighted, only focusing on their life of flesh
  • 58 Jesus’ use of “I am” is a direct reference to Exodus 3, when Moses asked God’s name, and God replied with “I AM WHOM I AM”
  • 59 The Jews KNOW what Jesus meant, and thought it was blasphemy – and deserving of death. IT’S NOT BLASPHEMY BECAUSE IT IS TRUE

Just like the crowd waving the Palm Branches, we can look at Jesus with a distorted viewpoint (like a pair of glasses with the wrong prescription). If we want to understand Jesus, we have to take a longer look…

The Road To Resurrection: Ancestry Test

The Road To Resurrection: Ancestry Test

John 8:31-47

I was raised to believe I was part Native American. I used a DNA testing service, and the results of my ancestry test showed otherwise. I had lived my whole life thinking I belonged to a group when the truth showed me something different…

The Difference Between Believing and Knowing

Actual Truth Sets Us Free ~ John 8:31-38
(not unfounded personal belief)

  • 31 speaking to those who believe He’s Messiah, but they don’t yet understand what that MEANS
  • 32 John puts in a pun: logos/word and logos/God; Jesus IS the truth and HE sets us free (not knowledge)
  • 33/37 those who have a different understanding of Messiah miss what He’s saying; He didn’t come to set them free militarily (which is what they thought), but spiritually free from sin
  • 38 with these words, Jesus makes a distinction between belonging to God and belonging to Satan

Actual Lineage Sets Our Path ~ John 8:39-47
(not pretending to be something we’re not)

  • 39/41 Some can belong to Satan and not even know it!
  • 42/46 Defining marks of belonging to the devil: 1) don’t love Jesus; 2) unable to hear Jesus’ word clearly; 3) want to put themselves first over God
  • 47 EMPHASIZE: God chooses whom He will to bring into His family

(cf. Ephesians 1:5: He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will–)

If you belong to God, you’ll want to understand more and more about Jesus; If you DON’T – what does that mean for you?

Pastor Ed Backell

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