August 15 – Today’s Readings – 2Corinthians 1-3 and Psalms 45
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us” (2Corinthians 1:8-10)
Even though Paul and his friends were obviously facing a lot of very serious difficulties – even death – there is a great, victorious tone to these words. These men felt as though they were all going to die – they had no confidence that their time on earth would continue but God made sure they lived to carry on the mission He had for them. What a rest and confidence they must have felt, knowing that absolutely nothing would take their lives until it was in God’s time. “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” (2Corinthians 3:12) Not only where they bold in their witness, but their faith was secure as well. The gospel they preached was simple and pure – believe in the Lord Jesus – commit your lives to his service – and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.
“But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ but in him it has always been ‘Yes.’ For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2Corinthians 1:18-22)
Here was a group of men who were faithfully preaching the gospel with no wages, being persecuted in almost every town and having to be “tough” with the Churches that needed correction. Yet, they possessed a tremendous confidence in Christ – “You + God equals a majority” !
It is also fascinating how Paul describes the olfactory senses when speaking about the believer’s relationship to the world. To the world and its spiritual powers, “we stink” but to those who are hungry for God and are being called by God “we smell like roses”. There is a “fragrance” in our lives when we belong to Christ and it is VERY offensive to the Devil – but it sure “smells” good when you encounter another true believer or one who is hungry for God. “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” (2Corinthians 2:15)
1. Give another Biblical example of a person who should have died, but God kept him alive till his mission was accomplished.
2. Tell of a modern day person who has had the same life preserving grace upon their lives.