Archive for the 'Easter' Category

2 Corinthians: Captivating Thoughts

2 Corinthians: Captivating Thoughts

Jer. 9:23-24; 2Cor. 10:1-5

I’m reading a book called Getting Things Done, about a time management method, by productivity consultant David Allen. It describes a strategy for gaining balance between work and life. (If you can’t tell, I haven’t finished the book yet) The first step is CAPTURE – collect what has your attention. How do we do this in our lives of faith?

How Can We Notice Our Focus?

Weigh the Worth of our Base Values ~ Jeremiah 9:23-24
OT Principle:

  • 23 wisdom, strength, riches -all attributes which can be SELFish
  • 24 we understand the LORD based on WHAT HE DOES & WHAT HE WANTS; (we study the Word ↔ we hear His heart {thru prayer-worship-fellowship-service})

Work For A World Based On Christ ~ 2Corinthians 10:1-5
NT Practice:

  • 1/2 when we live by God’s standard, we can be meek (reflect HIS character); when we live by world’s standard, we’re stuck in SELF, which needs to be wrangled (boldness/confrontation)
    3/4 NOT like the world; “strongholds” = mental constructs

Consider how we “map” our surroundings based on structures/landmarks; e.g., drive south on 17 (from ML towards Othello) until you get to Pheasant Run; turn left. Go a few miles until you see Tires West; go 3 blocks past that, turn right just after the car wash on the left; go 2 blocks, and the church is on the right corner. How much more difficult would those directions be without landmarks/structures?

  • 5 a stronghold is a refuge/security; if a thought takes root in us, it becomes a part of our mental landscape –> a stronghold; to take thoughts “captive”=(taken by the spear), we have to take down the “walls” of our mental constructs before we can root out the core thoughts

One of our trustees, Curtis, said he was going to take down the little raised garden of bricks in our back “yard” to examine the foundation. When he showed up with an excavator, I knew he was serious!

What strongholds need to be taken down in your life? What needs to be built up? What excavator will you use?

2 Corinthians: How Should We Give?

2 Corinthians: How Should We Give?

Deut.15:1-11; 2Cor.9:5-15

I used to work with a Pastor Gary, the most caring minister I’ve ever met. I asked him one day, “How do you do it?” His answer? “Ed, you don’t have to feel it first. Care for others first – the feelings come later.” Caring is an ongoing choice, not a response to an emotion.

Core Concepts of Christian Care

Liberality Leads to Blessing ~ Deuteronomy 15:1-11
The OT Principle:

  • 1/3 God’s people aren’t to hold debt over one another
  • 4/8 God’s people aren’t to allow one another to become poor
  • 9/11 care for the poor to receive God’s blessing (there will always be poor, but we shouldn’t turn our backs on them, especially our family of faith)

Giving Is OnGoing ~ 2Corinthians 9:5-15
The NT Practice:

  • 5/6 “generous” = “eulogy” not just good words, but good DEEDS
  • 7/8 decided in his heart -> conversation with God about what works for you; “able”= God ENABLES grace to you, so you can be ready to help others; in other words, God cares for the poor, and uses US to do it
  • 9/11 God’s gifts/resources are to flow THROUGH us
  • 12/15 when we let “our” finances be used for God’s work, more is in play than material needs: God is glorified because our obedience in letting go of “our” funds causes people to praise God 1) for His provision for their needs, and 2) for our willingness to listen to God’s prompting; there aren’t sufficient words known to describe how cool this is!

We don’t have to work ourselves up into an emotional state to care for others. As parents, there are plenty of days where we care for our children but don’t feel like it first. There are days that we don’t feel like getting up early to care for the animals. We CHOOSE to care – and THAT is how we should give!

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!

2Cor.1:18-22

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?


Pastor Ed Backell

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