“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.” Our Father God is undeniably eternally blessed. He knows our desires, our plans and our motives so there is no benefit in lying. I pray that boasting would come from our lips – the boasting that shows that Jesus is strong and able to provide just what is needed. We are dependent on Him. When we are weak, He is strong. Paul continued his letter and shared that God gave him a thorn in his flesh and he pleaded with the Lord to remove it. Paul wrote that Christ’s power rests upon him when he is weak. As I have matured in my response to my migraines (or any other type of physical pain), I have even grown to be thankful for the disability. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like pain, but similar to what Paul experienced, I have found that when I am weak, then I am strong. The strength doesn’t come from me but from the Lord. All blessing, honor and praise and boasting to Him!
By-the-way, it was not long after Paul wrote this letter that he was able to pay the Corinthians a visit, just as he had hoped for earlier! It is such an encouragement to me to see how prayers are indeed answered. God’s timing and our timing are not always in the same time zone and it was that way for Paul too.
2 Corinthians 11:30-31 ESV
And God is able to bless you abundantly… Paul could have stopped his sentence here and it would have been more than enough for us to know and believe that God is able, and that His blessings are abundant, and that He aims those abundant blessings our way. But Paul continues on …so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
May faith increase and lead us to grow joyful and obedient generosity. Generosity flows from our awareness and thankfulness to God who bountifully blesses us with all that we need. One night as we were better getting to know Chris, our young teammate in China, he shared with us a principle that his dad taught called OHSP: open-handed stewardship policy. Along with being a wise steward or manager of what God has provided, it also means to live with hands opened, not fists clenched. We see this character lived out consistently in Chris’ life. Years later, Chris’ brother Sam demonstrated OHSP by opening his hand and dropping his car keys into Russell’s. Renting vehicles week after week when we returned to the US became expensive. Sam was going out of town on business and although we had just met him that day, he met our need for a car while he was gone.
The opportunities to be generous are endless. People are not invisible to God, so they should not be invisible to us either. Think about how the whole world is God’s and He wants all of humanity to be cared for. Allowing the blessings of God to flow through us and to others, pleases God. God, thank You for the many ways that You have enriched our lives, blessing each of us abundantly. May we look for ways to be generous to people You place in our paths. Help us to notice people, both those we know and those we don’t, and help us take time to listen and then care enough to take action in appropriate ways. Amen.
2 Corinthians 9:8-11 NIV
Good visits can really be a blessing. We look forward to re-connecting with those we love, as God allows our paths to intersect, but sometimes the best laid plans still do not come about. Paul really wanted to go to Corinth so he could spend time with his friends there but seeing everyone face to face was impossible. His letters would have to do. Our letters have been straightforward, and there is nothing written between the lines and nothing you can’t understand. I hope someday you will fully understand us, even if you don’t understand us now. Then on the day when the Lord Jesus returns, you will be proud of us in the same way we are proud of you. Since I was so sure of your understanding and trust, I wanted to give you a double blessing by visiting you twice—first on my way to Macedonia and again when I returned from Macedonia. Then you could send me on my way to Judea.
Paul and his friends missed out on this double blessing of double visits and that makes me sad. But we can be thankful for Paul’s many written correspondences. So much wisdom can be gained by reading and studying the letters he wrote to various churches, and let’s encourage one another to apply the truth to our lives. God, help us not get distracted by specific issues meant for a certain time or place, but let us see Your timeless truths recorded for us in Paul’s letters. Paul reminds us that our Lord Jesus is returning; let’s live faithfully and expectantly for His return. Amen.
2 Corinthians 1:13-16 NLT
Living life connected to God is an individual decision and it involves the efforts and support of whole communities. If it takes a village to raise a kid, how much more does it take to raise and spread the concepts of living purposeful God-centered lives throughout the world? Paul, once again traveling, wrote his final letter to the Corinthians. He let them know how recent near-death experiences he and his team faced in Asia highlighted their need to rely on God and not on their own strength. He urged the Corinthian believers to be involved with his life and ministry by praying. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. Prayer – connection to God, is essential and can be experienced corporately when the Body of God lifts up the needs of the people of God. That way, everyone gets to celebrate God’s blessings as He provides.
I’m so thankful to so many people who, with the desire to know Him and make Him known, have faithfully helped us by praying to God for various needs. As I write this, Russell is leading a mission trip to Brazil. As you read this please take the time to thank God for lives that are changed by people who are willing to go and share His goodness. We all personally know people we can pray for as they serve God in various roles, seeking to expand His Kingdom. May we praise God for everyone who will be around His throne – answers to our collective prayers. God blesses our partnership in prayer, in more ways than we could ever understand.
2 Corinthians 1:11 ESV
Paul writes a tribute to a wonderful God as he begins another correspondence to his friends living in Corinth. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Our God really is the God of all comfort and I am so very thankful that He is. Praise to Him who gives generously to us in our need, and fills us up so that we can give likewise. Paul then writes: “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” Do not read this last bit too hastily. What does it mean to “share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings”? I want the abundant comfort part, but do I have to go through the abundant suffering to get it? That is not an easy teaching.
It is so good to know that when we suffer we do not experience it alone. God is there with us and He knows how to provide comfort for our souls. At age forty-eight God saw fit for me to experience my first broken bones and after surgery, my first time to have stitches. Up until then, I thought I had compassion for people who suffered in these ways, but when I actually went through the pain, things changed. I changed. I see more depth in Scripture about pain and comfort and our need to draw near to God in times of suffering. My prayers for others who go through long painful healing now have more heart. And, through the experience, my awareness of what Jesus suffered for me has become more vivid. Suffering is just pain unless we use that time of suffering to draw ourselves near to God who is near us all the time. When we experience how God has comforted us through the suffering, we can offer meaningful comfort to others. This is yet another way of blessing.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV