Wednesday – June 22nd, 2022

2 Corinthians 5

Most of our lives are spent trying to make sure that we are doing all we can to live bigger and better. We spend years in school so that we can get a good job and make good money. Then, we can buy a nice house/car (which we may sell later on to get a bigger and better house/car). We accumulate lots of stuff that we can eventually pass on to our kids – which may not actually want any of it. It seems kind of pointless when you describe it this way, but this is truly what we talk about when we say we are pursuing the American Dream. It’s a materialistic pursuit of wealth and things… that ultimately prove meaningless when held against the gospel of Christ. 

Though the concerns of the Romans and Jews were different than what we worry about today, we still see the distractions that can come from the pursuit of things other than God. These idols could be wealth (and Rome had its own version of the American Dream), but it could also be power, status, or a legalistic self-righteousness. All of these idols are forms of the old self that should have been put to death with Christ. 

In 2 Cor. 5:14-15, Paul says, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” This is such a counter-cultural statement. We are not living for ourselves anymore. We are not trying to pursue lives that are bigger and better according to the world’s standards. We have “died” to that pursuit and are raised again. We no longer live for ourselves but instead we live for Christ. 

This is what it means to be a new creation. In verse 17, it says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” When we are raised with Christ, our concerns change to the concerns of Christ. What is the concern of Christ? Verses 18-19 say, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” We are being reconciled to God so that we can become the righteousness of God. Praise God! We have been made new! 

~ Cayce Fletcher

Questions for Application: 

  1. What are some of the things that you spend time pursuing? What are things that distract you from God? 
  2. Do you believe that these distractions are idols? 
  3. If you are a believer, you are a new creation in Christ. Do you live in a way that shows that you are a new creation? How? 

Tuesday – June 21st, 2022

2 Corinthians 4

Growing up, I loved to run in races. I never had the fastest time, but I loved the sense of community that came from everyone pursuing the same goal: finish the run. Even though I don’t run as much as I used to, I still see the power of pursuing a unified goal in my family, my job, my church, and my community. We encourage one another to set our eyes on the more important things even when we may not feel like doing so on our own. 

In today’s reading, Paul continues to give a defense of his ministry. He tells the Corinthian church, “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 4:2). Paul speaks plainly about the gospel and does not try to manipulate or somehow warp the message of the cross to be more pleasing to others. Even so, this message is so winsome that it wins people over anyway. 

This being said, just because the message itself is convincing and life-changing, it doesn’t mean that Paul became rich and famous, living a life of ease. His life was difficult and the only thing that kept him going was the reminder of his purpose and his commitment to reaching his goals. During Paul’s ministry which started with him being blind for three days, he was almost stoned to death, bitten by a snake, shipwrecked, and kept under house arrest. He left for Rome towards the end of his life knowing that he was going to be killed there. A martyr, he was beheaded by the Roman emperor Nero. Despite the difficulties of his life, he recognized that the message that he was speaking was too important to keep hidden. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, he says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” The troubles that he faced did not destroy him. Instead, they renewed him day by day because Paul recognized that through his troubles the gospel was being spread even more effectively! 

So, how can we grow to have the same mentality as Paul? In verse 18, he says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Just like a runner in the race, we have to keep our eyes set on the finish line. We need to keep our mind set on the eternal. If we do that, the distractions of the present day start to fade away. What are your eyes fixed on? Live life in light of eternity. 

~ Cayce Fletcher

Questions for Application: 

  1. What do you say the goal, mission, or purpose of your life is? 
  2. Are you facing difficulties that keep you from reaching this goal? 
  3. How might these difficulties be renewing you day by day? What could be some of the lessons or benefits from these difficulties?
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