There Is A Purpose For Your Pain – 2 Corinthians 12

From my reading in 2 Corinthians 12 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

God allows pain in your lives for a purpose.

The apostle Paul had a painful weakness in his life, and God used it to show his power through Paul.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8–10

You can ask, but sometimes God won’t take away your pain.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away…

God is not unaware of your pain.  He is allowing it to be in your life for a purpose. Pain is the time where you are often drawn closer to God.

God’s power is works best in your weakness.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

In your weakness we have you chance to see God’s mighty power working. When you experience pain, God’s comfort and power are more evident. You should boast in God’s healing power in your live.

You should see your suffering as an opportunity to show God’s strength.

That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul said that he takes pleasure in his weaknesses and other troubles because it showed how strong God is.  When God sustains you in your weakness he is glorified. If there is no struggle, then there is no story of God coming through for you. Some of the most powerful testimonies of God’s grace have come out of the hardest situations.

God allows pain in your life in order to show you and the rest of the world his power to take care of it!

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Encouragement For Those Suffering – 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

From my reading in 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

We all go through hard times, but some people experience much more pain than others!

It order to defend his legitimacy apostle Paul share many of his trials with the Corinthians. Here’s the list of the trials Paul went through from 2 Corinthians 11.

  • Worked hard long days -23, 27
  • Put in prison -23
  • Whipped without number -23
  • Faced death again and again – 23
  • Received 39 lashes five times – 24
  • Beaten with rods three times – 25
  • Shipwrecked three times – 25
  • Spent a night and day drifting at sea – 25
  • Traveled many long journeys – 26
  • Faced danger from rivers -26
  • Faced danger from robbers -26
  • Faced danger from people, both Jews and Gentiles -26
  • Danger in the cities – 26
  • Danger in the deserts -26
  • Danger on the seas -26
  • Danger from false christians – 26
  • Endured sleepless nights -27
  • Been hungry – 27
  • Been thirsty – 27
  • Been cold – 27
  • Been without enough clothing to keep warm – 27
  • The daily burden of concern for all the churches – 28
  • Had to escape a city through a window in a basket – 32-22

It’s safe to say that 99% of those reading this article have not experienced as much pain as the Apostle Paul!

All of this pain never deterred him from his mission. Paul was so motivated that he was willing to endure all these things for the sake of the gospel! Paul experienced much suffering of the sake of Jesus. Paul said,

If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. 2 Corinthians 11:30

I think the reason he boasted in his weakness is that it identified him with Jesus, “a man of suffering”.

It is in the middle Paul’s weakness and suffering that God used Paul to plant many churches. If you are in ministry and going through hard times, take heart, God still wants to use you and often uses us in the middle of our pain!

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One Reason We Suffer, To Comfort Others – 2 Corinthians 1

From my reading in 2 Corinthians 1 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

I am grateful that the Bible gives us tools on how to process both the good and the bad times.

The Apostle Paul explains an important reason God allows hard times in our lives. Notice how many times the words suffering, trouble and comfort are repeated!

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.” 2 Cor 1:3-7 

In these four verses the word comfort is used 9 times, and the words trouble and suffer are used 6 times! He’s hammering in the point…

God comforts the suffering, so they can comfort others who suffer.

If you are going through a hard time, the first step is the receive God’s comfort. Many people suffer but refuse to come to God for comfort.

To comfort others with God’s comfort you must first be comforted by God.

The best person to comfort someone who has lost a loved one is someone else who has been down that road and has relied on God to fill their relational void. The best person to comfort someone dealing with depression is someone who has walked that path and found comfort in Christ. The best person to console someone with money problems is someone who has been broke and seen God provide.

You can not give away what you have not received.

If you are in the middle of suffering right now, pursue God. His comfort is available to you. His healing is available. Come to him and receive his comfort. It is not usually an overnight process, but over time God will uses you as an agent of his comfort for others.

When you are suffering, be willing to accept God’s comfort through others.

If God wants to use your pain as a comfort to others, you must be willing to receive God’s comfort from others.

If you want to be used to comfort others, then let others comfort you.

Some of us have a “messiah complex.” We are more than willing to comfort others, but when it comes to letting others comfort us we recoil. I want to encourage you to receive God’s comfort through others so that in the future God can uses you to comfort others.

Are you going through suffering right now that you need God’s comfort in?

Do you know anyone who has been through that before that could comfort you?

Is someone you know suffering that you can comfort?

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How To Deal With What Life Throws At You – 1 Corinthians 16

From my reading in 1 Corinthians 16 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

The Apostle Paul gives us some helpful practices for dealing with whatever life throws at you.

“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.” 1 Cor 16:13-14

Be on guard.

As believers we are to watch out for what the devil throws at us. There is an under talked about theme that runs through the new testament about watchfulness. We are to be on guard and ready for when Jesus returns.

This implies a sense of urgency and soberness in our lives. I don’t mean that we can’t enjoy our lives, but it does mean that we must not fritter away our lives with wasteful things and be ready for when Jesus comes back.

Stand firm in the faith.

There will be trials in our faith. We are told to stand firm in these battles. Our faith will help us wether the storms of life and be able to stand tall.

Be courageous.

The literal translation of this phrase is “be men.” Men are supposed to be courageous. This command was given to men and women. This means that courage is not just for men. We all need courage to accomplish the things God wants us to do in our lives.

Be strong.

We are to be strong. As believers our strength does not come from ourselves, but our trust in a God who has unlimited strength.

And do everything with love.

Everything we do should be done in a loving way. Love should me our motivation and method for everything.

Which of these practices do you need to apply to your life today?

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God Uses Foolish, Powerless, and Despised People – 1 Corinthians 1

From my reading in 1 Corinthians 1 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

God choses to use the weak in order to glorify himself.

People whom the world sees as weak are often the ones that God uses most. And I’m glad! The Apostle Paul said,

“Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. 1 Cor 1:27-29 

God uses the despised and foolish, so that no one can boast.

Humility is a prerequisite for entering the kingdom of God, so those of us who know we are weak and sinful have an easier time getting in!

If you boast, you should boast in Christ!

“God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” 1 Cor 1:30-31

Jesus is the only reason we were made right with God. He is the one who made us pure and set us free from sin. It is only through God’s grace that we are saved.

Thank God today that he chooses the foolish, powerless, and despised and that he chose you!

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#TheStruggleIsReal With Sin – Romans 7

From my reading in Romans 7 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

All people, Christian and non Christian alike struggle with sin!

Even the Apostle Paul struggled with the pull of his sinful nature.  He was in the battle.

 “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” Rom 7:15

If you meet anyone who can’t identify with this statement they are lying!

We all have things in our lives that we struggle with. We don’t want to be lazy but we sleep in. We don’t intend to gossip but it comes out of us.

If you are a Christian you are in a battle.

You have the Holy Spirit living in you. He is giving you new good desires but you also still have the sinful nature in you with bad desires.

If we are not filled with the Spirit and relying on him daily you will naturally slip back into old sin patterns.  Even those of us with the best intentions we can’t achieve perfection. The most mature Christians still struggle with sin until they get to heaven! Paul said,

“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrongI love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” Rom 7:21-24

Who is the one who frees us from being dominated by sin? Paul continues,

“Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” Rom 7:25

The good news is that only through Jesus we have to power to say no to sin.

People who try to obey by will power alone will never win the battle against sin. Jesus gives us the power to say no to sin and yes to God.  Unfortunately we still often choose to give in to our sinful nature. Next time you find yourself doing something you really don’t want to do confess that sin to God.

Ask Jesus to forgive you and ask the Spirit to fill you and give you the self control to say no next time!

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God Can Use Hard Times To Get Us Where He Wants Us – Acts 23:1-15

From my reading in Acts 23:1-15 in the One Year New Testament.

God has a plan for you.

Many times God’s plan looks a lot different than the plan you choose. God is an expert at using even the most difficult circumstances to put you where he wants you.  This happened to the Apostle Paul.

He had a longing to go to Rome to preach, but it took being arrested put on trial before Cesar’s court in order to get him there!  When he was in trail in Jerusalem he had a vision from Jesus.

“That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.” Acts 23:11

God used Paul’s imprisonment to spread the gospel to Rome.

Last summer I had a chance to go to Rome and see the prison that Peter and Paul were placed in. It is amazing that Rome became the central hub of Christianity for many years!

While Paul was in Rome he was able to encourage believers and preach the gospel with Caesar’s guards!

And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.” Philippians 1:12–14

Through hard circumstances Paul was brought to the most influential city in the world to be a part of what God was doing there. He was a witness for Christ and encouraged the believers to preach boldly there!

What got Paul to Rome was not pleasant, but sometimes God allows us to go through suffering in order to accomplish his purposes.

If something in your life is exceptionally hard, you never know what plan God might have for it.  Keep living for him and share the gospel with those around you.  Your testimony in hard times will be a light to non believers and inspire other believers!

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Why I Believe In Ministering As A Team – Acts 20:1-16

From my reading in Acts 20:1-16 in the One Year New Testament.

I love working with teams of people to do ministry.

I have been blessed at this point with seven people on staff and it is a joy to share the load.  We all get to celebrate a lot more because when one person succeeds we all do!

Some ministry organizations don’t really believe in the team approach.

They spread people out to cover more ground, but in doing this sometimes people get lonely and depressed.  I even heard of an organization that wouldn’t let brothers minister in the same city!  You wouldn’t want James and John ministering together that might get crazy.

Jesus had a crew go with him every where and even the Apostle Paul had a crew,

“Several men were traveling with him. They were Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea; Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica; Gaius from Derbe; Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia.” Acts 20:4

We don’t know the exact number of guys Paul had on his team but at least seven or eight including these men, Luke and Silas.

Paul was very gifted, but knew his work would be better accomplished with a team.

This year the Miami Heat had the best player in the NBA, LeBron James. But they didn’t win the Championship because they didn’t have the best team. The San Antonio Spurs had the best team!

Not only is working with a team more effective, it gives the leader an opportunity to multiply himself.

Paul was intentional about passing on what he knew to other men who would be able to pastor and plant churches. Bringing people with you as you minister is in my opinion the best way to train because they get to learn to do ministry first hand.

If God has put a ministry on your heart, don’t just run out and do it yourself, do all you can to recruit a team!

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