From 2Corinthians 2:14 through the next chapters the core of Paul’s Faith & His relationship w The Lord-> the WHY/the REASONS that Paul has such a close walk with the Lord,& the WHY/the REASONS that his life is so effective to those around him for the sake of The Gospel,are described/painted for us to see & know!N 2Cor2:14-17 He says,”But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”The “triumphal entry” is a reference to the spiritual warfare that Paul and other faithful spiritual warriors (the “us”) have been through & are n the middle of,& the fact that as we follow The Lord/as we live depending on the Lord,he ALWAYS leads us n a “triumphal procession”!And then Paul establishes the perspective for what the “triumph” looks like->”the aroma of the knowledge of him(Christ) everywhere”!Paul is saying that if we are truly one of the “us” he is talking about,then our lives will have an “aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” as we live/work/play/travel,etc.Paul also addresses what this is and what it is not when he says-“For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”N Paul’s time as in our time there are those that know what the Bible says,and they misuse it for there own purposes,and for building their own kingdoms of a sort instead of having God’s Word transform them into “men of sincerity,as commissioned by God” so that “in the sight of God” their lives “speak in Christ”!In other words,true spiritual warriors will have lives that are being filled and molded by “the knowledge of him” in their whole lives & not just their minds-> their lives are “doing the talking” about WHO their Lord is/WHO they are following...and this becomes the “aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing....”.A true warrior described n these verses is aware that he/she has been “commissioned by God” to have their lives “speak in Christ”,& Christ then “always leads us in triumphal procession,& through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of HIM everywhere.”Dear Jesus, these verses make me realize how far from being a true spiritual warrior I am...,& that I need Your help in transforming my life to become a more pleasing aroma of Who You are,& what Your Gospel offers for everyone.May Your Word and Your Spirit press in on my life and transform me into becoming one of the ones included in the “us” Paul is talking about.
When our lives are challenged in any way,of course we pray for The Lord to guide us through these &/or plead with Him to give us victory that is huge so our lives might be a miraculous exhibition of His Mighty Power...and we should as Philippians4:6 says.”do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”.But 2Cor1:3-7 says there is much more that we need to be praying about/for in and through challenging times.In fact these verses in 2Cor imply that there may be much more significance in/through tough challenges for us if we have the perspective of 2Cor1:3-7 on our hearts as we pray through life’s most difficult challenges->2Cor1:3-7”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.For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.”These verses say that God has blessings of COMFORT in the middle of challenges...blessings that once in our lives,they will benefit those around us for the sake of others coming to have the same comfort in trusting The Lord! A COMFORT that is a miraculous exhibition of God’s Presence miraculously comforting us in/through the UNCOMFORTABLE things bad enough to be called afflictions(a cause of persistent pain or distress/something that causes pain or suffering).In the middle of afflictions Paul is saying that our perspective should be on how these things may be opportunities for our lives to reflect something supernatural->a comfort/a peace that surpasses all understanding! Interesting that the very next verse,after Phillipians4:6 mentioned above the Bible says the same thing->”And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”This peace/comfort is the only promise of the prayer of Phillipians4:6!There are absolutely many times in the Bible and in the lives of faithful believers that God also brings other blessings through these prayers.But the only promise in the verses from Philippians,& what 2Cor1:3-7 talks about...is the peace that surpasses all understanding->the comfort that only The God of Eternity can offer!And this comfort is what 2Cor1:3-7 describes as a significant opportunity for those around us to see what only Christ can provide for those who fully trust Him(2Cor1:5,For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”)....maybe even one of the best/more significant opportunities for those around us to have an up close and personal firsthand experience with The Lord is as they share in our comfort/our peace that surpasses all understanding!So,as we pray about life’s challenges we should not say “amen” before we make sure we pray for the comfort that God promises in the middle of them!And then,”look for the comfort”,because God promises it to us! Dear Lord,I stop short in my prayers so many times...stopping short of praying about the comfort You promise,& thereby miss so much more that You desire for me,& for those around me.Help me,through Your Spirit, to change this in my prayer life as well as my living in and through every day You give me.
One of the ways that the devil turns life upside down is by getting us to chase aspirations that are far from eternally minded,and focus us on temporal things.A lot of these may be honorable and even do a lot of good in the world,but we need to ask the question-“what does God define as GOOD things for us to be & do in the world?”When someone earnestly desires to run a marathon,or to seek after any other goal,if they are sincere about pursuing the goal they will establish a list of priorities about how their lives will need to be disciplined in order to achieve that goal.Everyone is chasing a goal of some kind,even if we have not “officially” claimed a goal to go after,we are chasing “default goals”.We are all “disciplining” our lives in some way...even the lack of discipline is a form of discipline.Point is that we are all choosing to pursue something(s).1Cor14 says that we should “pursue love,& earnestly desire the spiritual gifts,ESPECIALLY that you may prophesy.”To “pursue love” means that what Paul is taking about is not going to come naturally,nor without study,effort,&discipline.We need to seek the RIGHT&TRUE kind of love that is only found in the Bible,& how God defines&teaches about love. One reason the divorce rate among Christians is the same as non Christians is that we have the same deficient/meager/narrow/conditional ideas about love the world has,instead of the immense/unfailing/measureless/unconditional kind of love that God teaches us in the Bible.Therefore,the kind of love we pursue and end up having is empty and weak,unable to be sustained in the middle of challenges and the battles life stuff will throw at us.Next,Paul says that we should “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts”,the NIV says it this way-“eagerly desire the spiritual gifts”!I have eagerly desired a lot of things...but I have not spent a lot of time in my life eagerly desiring spiritual gifts.Sure,I have learned about them and prayed about them SOME,but not the way that would be “eagerly desiring” them!Then he says that we all should especially desire the gift of “prophecy” for the eternal benefits/edification of those around me... To have the gift of prophecy is to encourage others with a message inspired by God! For today’s believers,God reveals His messages to us through His Word,His Spirit,and Prayer as the bedrocks of His Voice,& then confirmed through the wise Godly counsel of other sincere believers God Sovereignly places in our lives.This a reason that a priority in our lives needs to be our personally seeking God’s Heart in His Word,& why we need to keep a few trusted sincere believers close,that are earnestly & prayerfully seeking the same things from God and His Word and His Spirit...and then we need to open our lives up to this trusted “quorum” of sincere believers for counsel/wisdom/discernment/guidance.Only when we are “pursuing” these things are we taking these verses to heart...for God to have His Ways and Blessings in and through our lives!Dear Lord, I am sorry that I have glanced over these verses so many times without taking their significance to heart.I pray for Your help in focusing my heart on these verses in ways that change me from the inside out...and direct my life to seek after pursuits that You deem important for my life & what You have blessed me with life for....the purposes that You say You know/have for my life as You Promise in Jeremiah 29:11 when You say,”For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
I had a young man that God has placed in my life(as a source of encouragement,and a source of calling me to much more that Christ desires in my life) present a question to me that ended up giving me a kick n the pants that I needed/a lesson I needed.Here is the lesson I learned from this young man...the kick n the pants I needed!Our mind is the most significant place in our lives that Satan aims his subversive mortar rounds of weaponized thoughts.Since our mind and heart are purposed by God to be interactive in how our lives relate with Him;grow w Him/by Him/in Him;honor Him;worship Him;know Him,etc...So, our minds are in essence the “point of entry” for how God begins His work in our lives;& also the “point of entry” for the most significant tactics/weapons of the devil..it is our minds where the devil aims seeds of dangerous thoughts(mortar rounds of belief are thrown/shot/fired at us),sewn into our lives that become the vines connected to our heart,becoming the sources of how our hearts develop/grow in one way or another.This is why when Proverbs4:23 says,”Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”,God is telling us that the “Guard Point” of our heart is our mind!2Cor10:6 says “punish every disobedience”,after we have taken “every thought” that is “raised up against knowledge of God”...one meaning being for us to deliberately/purposefully identify those thoughts and treat them as deadly enemy combatants assigned by Satan to do severe damage to our hearts!We are to recognize these thoughts as being as eternally dangerous as they are...&treat them as such!A 2nd meaning being to guard my mind from dangerous thoughts I allow INTO my mind!A 3rd meaning being to feed my mind:train my mind/with the right thoughts/the right FOOD for thoughts(God’s Word!),&EXERCISE(prayerful obedience)so the “Guard Point” of my heart has the RIGHT source of strength/protection/wisdom/discernment.Dear Lord Jesus,help me to identify dangerous thoughts that come into my mind...and to take these captive and punish them,so they are so weakened that they die before growing any connection to my heart.And may Your Spirit draw me into Your Word and Prayer that develops my mind the way You would have it to be the Guard Point of my heart.
1Cor13:11 says,”When I was a child,I spoke as a child,I thought like a child,I reasoned like a child.When I became a man,I gave up childish ways.”This comes at the end of what is called “The Love Chapter” of the Bible.Since a theme of 1Cor has been calling out the immaturity within the church at Corinth,and giving them traits of a maturing faith in Christ to seek in their lives,we can kinda get the idea that one of the points being made in this chapter is to show the contrast between a life of immaturity and one that is maturing.In this chapter,Paul is telling us that our maturity, or lack of maturity will be evident in what kind of love we have in our hearts- that will be revealed by our words;our thoughts;&the way we work through challenges&questions we face every day.Verses 4-7 paint the picture of what “mature love” will look like-“Love is patient & kind;love does not envy or boast;it is not arrogant or rude.It does not insist on its own way;it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,but rejoices in the truth.Love bears all things,believes all things,hopes all things,endures all things,hopes all things,endures all things.”Smack dab n the middle of 4-7 are the words-“but rejoices IN the truth”(NKJV).I emphasize IN,because by the placement of these 5 words n the middle of 4-7,the implication is thatTHE BEDROCK/FOUNDATION of the RIGHT kind of maturity/The RIGHT kind of heart is THE TRUTH/REJOICING IN THE TRUTH!In other words,there is no way for us to truly become the RIGHT kind of mature unless we have the RIGHT kind of heart/love breathing in and out of our lives...which can only be rooted in our lives by seeking to know and REJOICE in THE TRUTH about all things-which is only found when we seek The Author&Creator of all things!So,when I am NOT patient & NOT kind;envy another, or become boastful or arrogant about anything, &/or behave rudely;or insist on my way;become irritable or resentful;or actually enjoy wrongdoing n any way...I am NOT REJOICING IN THE TRUTH!Even further,if all my “good intentions” are caving under the pressures & challenges of life & the doubts the world throws at THE TRUTHS God Claims & Promises in His Word...then I will loose the RIGHT kind of HOPE/TRUE HOPE that is the only source of Eternal Endurance-I will be the kind of immature that 1Cor is addressing...and the sins described in 1Cor will n some way b a part of my life.N chapter 13,Paul is pleading with the people in Corinth to have their hearts/minds/lives changed by “rejoicing IN the truth”!By having the bedrock/foundation of their hearts/minds/lives be established by God’s Heart as HE loves on them/teaches them through HIS Word&by HIS Spirit!Dear Lord God,my life does not consistently demonstrate the kind of love described in these verses...I need Your Help in changing the way I respond to others(especially those closest to me);in changing or correcting a lot of the thoughts I have that r not right;and I pray for Your help in changing or correcting the decision making processes I apply to challenges & questions every day.I pray for You to TRUE up my whole spirit,soul,& body with Your Word & by Your Spirit.