Eternal One, sow the seeds of Your Word deep into my heart. Let them grow into the fruit of Your Spirit in my life.
Read 2 Corinthians 1:1-11
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“We are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Rom. 8:17). A timely reminder!
Significantly, Paul designated himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ, an authority derived directly from God (1a). He addressed his letter to all God’s “holy people” in Corinth (1b), people set apart for God; and this describes us, too, since we are fellow followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Continuing to put Christian content into the traditional, formal opening, Paul invoked God’s grace and peace upon them (2) before praising the “God of all comfort” (3) who would comfort them in their troubles (4). This surprising distinguishing mark of the Christian faith impoverishes the truncated message of peddlers of the prosperity gospel, who emphasize only health and wealth, editing suffering out of their teaching. Jesus left us in no doubt about suffering as part and parcel of being his followers (John 16:33), and Paul told Timothy that no believer is exempt from persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). Both his life and the lives of his friends at Corinth bore this out clearly. It is also the experience of millions of Christians today, and even though perhaps not as obviously or as violently, it is our experience too. The signs are that suffering will intensify as our Western culture moves further away from its Christian moorings. The question is, how prepared are we to share, with Christ, in “the fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10, KJV)?
This is not the futile bravery of the soldiers in “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” celebrated in Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem. Rather, Paul’s assertion (10) echoes the confidence of the Hebrew men who refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image (Dan. 3:16-18). Our God is always able to deliver–whether or not he does so is his prerogative, but we shall remain true to him because he first gave himself for us.
How did Paul respond to intense pressure (8,9)? How do you respond to intense pressure because of your faith? How can you utilize the resources Paul highlights?
Gracious God, as Your child I need Your strength and courage to stand firm for You. I affirm the truth that as my days are, so shall my strength be.
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