Jesus’ Gospel Revealed to Prophets, Apostles and Believers, chapter 17

(To 8,416 in resident churches: people God is making temples of His spirit.) 12/24/17,  God’s 10th month, Tevet 7, 5778 until sunset.

      Doing what seems right to the fleshly mind is idolatry. Only God has the authority to say, “what’s right, wrong, good and evil.

       Almighty God: Thank You for the knowledge that we can only worship You in spirit and truth when You’ve  revealed Yourself to our minds. Make us mindful that when we love You it’s because “You first loved us.” Thanks for creating Your likeness in us and revealing Your plan for our future. Thank You for the gifted desire to be at one with You and revealing Your Way. We desire to praise You in the nature of Jesus. AMEN.

       In Paul’s letters to the Corinthians he pulled no punches about the fact that God is all in all and knew us from the beginning. Consider too; Jesus’ Words to Israel through Isaiah, “regarding His control and His future plans.”

       (Isaiah 43:1-6; Now, this is what the Lord says, the one who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: “Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you. I call you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I am with you; when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm you. (3) For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Deliverer. I have handed over Egypt as a ransom price, Ethiopia and Seba in place of you. (4) Since you are precious and special in My sight, and I love you, I will hand over people in place of you, nations in place of your life. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. From the east I will bring your descendants; from the west I will gather you. (6) I will say to the north, ‘Hand them over!’ and to the south, ‘Don’t hold any back!’ Bring My sons from distant lands, and My daughters from the remote regions of the earth, everyone who belongs to Me, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed – yes, whom I made!”)

        Our Creator knows His people! His promises to Abraham include all who are led to Believe IN Jesus. (If we belong to Christ, then we are Abraham’s descendants, “spiritual Israelites, “Jews” and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29) Now Paul gets personal with God’s church at Corinth.

       (2Cor 7:1-10; “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that could defile the body and the spirit, and thus accomplish holiness out of reverence for God. (2) Make room for us in your hearts; we “apostles” have wronged no one, we have ruined no one, we have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I told you before that you are in our hearts so that we die together and live together with you. (4) I have great confidence in you; I take great pride on your behalf. I am filled with encouragement; I am overflowing with joy in the midst of all our suffering. (5) For even when we came into Macedonia, our body had no rest at all, but we were troubled in every way – struggles from the outside, fears from within. (6) But God, who encourages the downhearted, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. We were encouraged not only by his arrival, but also by the encouragement you gave him, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your deep concern for me, so that I rejoiced more than ever. (8) For even if I made you sad by my letter, I do not regret having written it (even though I did regret it, for I see that my letter made you sad, though only for a short time). Now I rejoice, not because you were made sad, but because you were made sad to the point of repentance. For you were made sad as God intended, so that you were not harmed in any way by us. (10) For sadness as intended by God produces a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret, but worldly sadness brings about death.”)

       WORLDLY sadness is of the flesh, it’s physical, emotional over personal cares and losses. We get sad over many things that amount to nothing. To be sadden over sin and repent is of great value. The congregation at Corinth “became one example.” They removed themselves from the paganism surrounding them.

       (2Cor 7:11-16; “For see what this very thing, this sadness as God intended, has produced IN YOU: what eagerness, what defense of yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what deep concern, what punishment! In everything you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. (12) So then, even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did wrong, or on account of the one who was wronged, but to reveal to you your eagerness on our behalf before God. (13) Therefore we have been encouraged. And in addition to our own encouragement, we rejoiced even more at the joy of Titus, because all of you have refreshed his spirit. (14) For if I have boasted to him about anything concerning you, I have not been embarrassed by you, but just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting to Titus about you has proved true as well. And his affection for you is much greater when he remembers the obedience of you all, how you welcomed him with fear and trembling. (16) I rejoice because in everything I am fully confident in you.”)

       The Corinthian’s fear was not a fear of Titus or Paul; but a respect for the messages Jesus gave through His servants. (“Fearing the Lord is the beginning of moral knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7) Moral knowledge, and godly traditional values taught by parents are good, but to live them out of respect for God’s Way is better.

       (2Cor 8:1-15; “Now we make known to you, brothers and sisters, the grace of God given to the churches of Macedonia, that during a severe ordeal of suffering, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in the wealth of their generosity. (3) For I testify, they gave according to their means and beyond their means. They did so voluntarily, begging us with great earnestness for the blessing and fellowship of helping the Saints. And they did this not just as we had hoped, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and to us by the will of God. Thus we urged Titus that, just as he had previously begun this work, so also he should complete this act of kindness for you. (7) But as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, and in all eagerness and in the love from us that is in you – make sure that you excel in this act of kindness too. (8) I am not saying this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love by comparison with the eagerness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although He was rich, He became poor for your sakes, so that you by His poverty could become rich.

       So here is my opinion on this matter: It is to your advantage, since you made a good start last year both in your giving and your desire to give, to finish what you started, so that just as you wanted to do it eagerly, you can also complete it according to your means. (12) For if the eagerness is present, the gift itself is acceptable according to whatever one has, not according to what he does not have. (13) For I do not say this so there would be relief for others and suffering for you, but as a matter of equality. At the present time, your abundance will meet their need, so that one day their abundance may also meet your need, and thus there may be equality, (15) as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”) (Quote from Exodus 16:18)

       Paul is sharing God’s principle of helping one another. Believers IN are spirit led to watch out for one another. Jesus that provided the manna “food” for the Israelites on their way to the promised lands and it is Jesus “who provides His people’s needs in each age.”

      (2Cor 8:16-22; “But thanks be to God who put in the heart of Titus the same devotion I have for you, because he not only accepted our request, but since he was very eager, he is coming to you of his own accord. And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his work in spreading the gospel. (19) In addition, this brother has also been chosen by the churches as our traveling companion as we administer this generous gift to the glory of the Lord Himself and to show our readiness to help. We did this as a precaution so that no one should blame us in regard to this generous gift we are administering. (21) For we are concerned about what is right not only before the Lord but also before men. And we are sending with them our brother whom we have tested many times and found eager in many matters, but who now is much more eager than ever because of the great confidence he has in you.”) The trusted brother accompanying Titus isn’t named here for some reason. Paul is careful to display honesty before the church. Careful not to lord over; thus he tells of Titus and companions coming of their own accord.

       (2 Cor 8:23-24; “If there is any question about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; if there is any question about our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ. Therefore show them openly before the churches the proof of your love and of our pride in you.”) Part of Paul’s mission was collecting food and money for less fortunate Believers.

      (2 Cor 9:1-4; “For it is not necessary for me to write you about this service to the Saints, because I know your eagerness to help. I keep boasting to the Macedonians about this eagerness of yours, that Achaia has been ready to give since last year, and your zeal to participate has stirred up most of them. But I am sending these brothers so that our boasting about you may not be empty in this case, so that you may be ready just as I kept telling them. (4) For if any of the Macedonians should come with me and find that you are not ready to give, we would be humiliated (not to mention you) by this confidence we had in you.”)

        We have reference to these collections in Acts of the Apostles and in Paul’s first letter. Let‘s review a portion of his first letter. (1 Corinthians 16:1-4; “With regard to the collection for the saints, please follow the directions that I gave to the churches of Galatia: On the first day of the week, each of you should set aside some income and save it to the extent that God has blessed you, SO THAT a collection will not have to be made when I come. Then, when I arrive, I will send those whom you approve with letters of explanation to carry your gift to Jerusalem. And if it seems advisable that I should go also, they will go with me.”) Why did Paul recommend “collecting on the first day?” Such collections was physical work, not to be done on the Sabbath.

       (2 Cor 9:5-15; “Therefore I thought it necessary to urge these brothers to go to you in advance and to arrange ahead of time the generous contribution you had promised, so this may be ready as a generous gift and not as something you feel forced to do. (6) My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work. (9) Just as it is written, “He has scattered widely, He has given to the poor; His righteousness remains forever.” (Quote from Ps 111:9)

      Now God who provides seed for the sower “planter” and bread for food will provide and multiply your supply of seed and will cause the harvest of your righteousness to grow. (11) You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God, because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the Saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God. (13) Through the evidence of this service they will glorify God because of your obedience to your confession in the gospel of Christ and the generosity of your sharing with them and with everyone. And in their prayers on your behalf they long for you because of the extraordinary grace God has shown to you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”)

     To know the Provider is a gift. NOTE, that Paul is treating this Corinthian church of God congregation as a set aside people. The Saints at Jerusalem were experiencing hard times and seemingly the Saints at Corinth were being blessed more abundantly with material things. Paul recognized “this was a test of faith for the Corinthians.” They needed to know their Provider and learn to share. When we are personally blessed with abundance, we should look around for folks to help, particularly like minded.

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