Devotions for 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
June 13-19, 2016
Monday, June 13, 2016
“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others” (2 Corinthians 5:11).
Brent and Sally plopped down at a table in the teacher’s lounge. It had been one of those days. Generally speaking, the students were rowdy, disrespectful and didn’t want to learn—more than usual.
“Wow, I’m sure glad this day is done,” Sally said shaking her head.
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Brent replied, “they were a handful today.”
“There are some days I wonder why I ever decided to become a teacher,” Sally mused as she took a sip from her water bottle.”
“That’s every day for me,” Brent replied with a laugh. “When I ask myself that question, though, I remind myself that I love the kids, I have the skills to teach, I am thrilled when I see that spark of understanding in their eyes and I truly believe teaching is why God placed me on this earth.”
Sally nodded and with a grin said “Well it certainly has to be more than for the paycheck.”
Our “suspicious gene” causes us to question, at times, the motives of another. We wonder why they are really doing what they are doing. Are they being open and honest with us or is there some underlying reason? Paul wants the reasons for his actions to be clear to the Corinthians. He wasn’t starting congregations in order to gain fame or fortune. He wasn’t wrestling with the various issues that they had as a community so that he could assert his authority. Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that he was an apostle because of his fear—his loving respect—for the Lord who called him from a life of self-righteousness and hate to a life of service and love.
At the beginning of the day it is good to remind ourselves that we are doing what we do because of our loving respect for the Lord. We hope later that night we will be able to reflect on the day and assure ourselves that we did what we did out of loving respect for the Lord.
Divine Master, we are here in this place, at this time to do your will. May we be faithfully obedient to you. Amen.
Tuesday, June 14, 2015
“So that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance, and not in the heart” (2 Corinthians 5:12).
The conversation was brief; lasting only a twenty or thirty seconds. The question was honest. One of Raul’s co-workers asked him, “Why do you go to church?” Raul was taken off guard. He came up with a couple of quick responses both of which he was dissatisfied. The co-worker nodded and walked away. About a minute later Raul had come up with exactly what he wanted to say for his response, but it was too late.
Paul wanted the Corinthians to be fully informed. He wanted the Corinthians to be ready to defend themselves whenever others were critical. It would not be helpful if the members of the Corinthian church walked away from a conversation wondering what they should have answered.
As disciples of Jesus we need to be prepared to share our faith succinctly with others. Silence or weak, ill prepared responses are not effective in spreading the kingdom of God. So, in thirty seconds, how would you respond to the question, “Why are you a Christian?”
Precious Lord, we may not have all the answers, but enable us to have useful answers to the important questions about our walk of faith and life with you. Amen.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
“For the love of Christ urges us on” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
The Psalmist recalls Israel’s history in Psalm 136. Through it all the Psalmist is amazed by the steadfast love of the Lord. In this antiphonal psalm the refrain is, “The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.” The gospel of John celebrates that, “God so loved the world …” (John 3:16) and Paul proclaims that God’s love is demonstrated by Christ dying for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).
At our baptism we personally experienced God’s love. At that time God made us new creations, brought us into the family of God, and filled us with the Holy Spirit. God has shown God’s love to us in answered prayers, hope in hopeless situations, God’s presence and power in our lives and the support and love of family and friends.
Such love both overwhelms us and motivates us. We don’t need to work hard in order to win God’s love. God has already made the decision to love us. We no longer need to live in fear of God’s judgment. Instead, we can allow God’s love to overflow in our lives so that God’s great love can touch and change others. That same love can also motivate us to take the steps of faith that we are led to take.
Loving God. We praise you for your love and pray that it will be the motivation in our lives as we live to love you by serving our neighbor. Amen.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
“And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who died” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Rick Warren begins his book, The Purpose Driven Life, with the words, “It’s not about you.” This is a profound truth that is counter to almost everything we hear and read in our society today. We are a nation of individuals. We seek our true potential. We set our goals and attain them. We deserve a break today. It is our nature to be selfish and self-centered. This isn’t, though, God’s ultimate goal for us.
One of the greatest truths of the gospel that Jesus demonstrated is that God’s love frees us to look beyond ourselves and see the needs of others. Paul writes that, “Jesus did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself” (Philippians 2:6). During Jesus’ ministry he loved people especially paying attention to those people whom everyone else said was not worth loving. Even on the cross, the gospel of John pictures Jesus as concerned for the care of his mother (John 19:26).
Looking beyond ourselves and seeing others is not a one-time decision. Rather it is something we decide every day and in every situation during the day. As we grow and mature in our relationship with God the Spirit uncovers areas of our lives where we still look to ourselves before others. We are then faced with the choice of changing or remaining the same. As disciples of Jesus we continue Jesus’ ministry by looking around and seeing how we can minister to the needs that we see.
Powerful God, enable us to see beyond ourselves and to do your will by using our words and actions to serve others. Amen.
Friday, 17, 2016
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
There are many life changing events in our lives. Little Kyle Ross stepped on the school bus for the first time and began his life as a kindergartener. Jose and Carlota Ramirez lives changed with the first cry of their daughter. Cathy’s life changed when her husband of fifty-two years collapsed from a heart attack. He never regained consciousness.
God comes to us, we encounter a living God and we are never the same. In Roman’s chapter 6 Paul writes that we have died with Christ at our baptism so that we might live a new life. At our baptism we are cleansed, forgiven, made new, adopted and filled. Things are not the same in our lives after all that happens. Our lives from that moment on are journeys of discovery to uncover all the things that are new and to understand the differences that they make in our daily lives.
We are new creations and today is a new day. We step into the, “next day of the rest of our lives,” with anticipation and excitement.
Creator God, you have made all things new. Help us live in the newness that is ours through Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Saturday, June 18, 2016
“All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).
After seven years of marriage, Bill and Diane were giving serious thought to divorce. It seemed as if they were constantly bickering and the love that they had felt before had evaporated. Their only concern that kept them from splitting was their two children. Bill and Diane decided to try marriage counseling. They met with a counselor several times who was able to help them reconcile their differences and rekindle the love that they once had. It wasn’t easy work, but they were eventually able to celebrate the relationship that they had and the love that was at the center of it.
Paul pictures Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as reconciling humankind with God. The relationship that we were created to have with our creator had been lost. Jesus’ work was a reconciling work that offered us a new relationship with God. By grace through faith we live in that new relationship every day of our lives.
The work of reconciliation doesn’t stop with us. We are called to continue the ministry of reconciliation by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and by sharing God’s love through our words and actions. We serve so that others may live in a renewed relationship with God. On his sermon on the mount Jesus made reference to the ministry of reconciliation. He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
Holy Spirit, anoint our ministry of reconciliation that we may bring peace to our war-torn and broken world. Amen.
Sunday, June 19, 2016
“So we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
The United States has embassies all over the world—as do other countries. Each embassy is headed by an ambassador. The purpose of the embassies is to establish a presence in the foreign country and also to promote and to build relationships with the other countries. When people see our ambassador they are, in a sense, seeing the United States.
We are ambassadors of God’s kingdom. We (the church and individuals) are God’s presence in the world today. We are also called to build relationships with the people around us and enable them to catch a glimpse of God’s kingdom. Imagine what a difference it would make if we saw ourselves as God’s ambassadors at our home, desks or workstations, and perhaps even our favorite coffee shops as embassies.
Holy Lord, move within us that when people look at us they see you. Amen.