Friday, July 29, 2011

Afflictions and Attitude

Scripture:  2 Corinthians 1-3
This book is Paul's second biblical attempt to "right" the church at Corinth.  See, this wikipedia entry for more details.  The section on the chronology of his time with the Corinthians is fascinating to me.  Basically, this is a church he loved and was paining him greatly.  This letter is open in ways he rarely is.  It shows much of his personal weakness and "humanity".  I'm excited to study this together, may it make us all more humble!!

For more information see:

Observation:  It was clear that Paul's last visit to Corinth was not a good one.  Did you see the beginning of Chapter 2?  2:4 really stuck out to me:  "At the time I wrote, I was suffering terribly. My eyes were full of tears, and my heart was broken. But I didn't want to make you feel bad. I only wanted to let you know how much I cared for you."  The translation I read in Nicaragua said, "I wrote out of much affliction".

Application: I have loved Summer of Scripture.  It has been WONDERFUL!  Truly.  We will have to do this again some other time.  But, if I am honest with you--I haven't loved writing every day.  Most days I love it.  I love to write, I love to read scripture, and I love you all.  So, most days its wonderful.  But some days, "I write out of great affliction".  Honestly, today might be one of those days.  I thought I'd written ahead enough to cover today, and come to find out, I hadn't.  Even worse, as I write this I'm trying to take my first REAL sabbath day in longer than I should admit.  And when I sat down to write, I wasn't excited.  But then I read Paul's words.  On forgiveness.  On love.  On putting others happiness first and letting them help you.  And something changed in me.  I realized that I can do all these things because you are with me.  That when things irk me or frustrate me or anger me, it is this community and OUR GOD who will bring me back to good.  That I will never be left or forsaken!  And even Paul wrote out of affliction some times.  

So, now I'm happily typing away.  Remembering that Sabbath and community and prayer and love and scripture can all be brought together in amazing ways.  I thank God for each of you.  May our afflictions not change who we are or cloud our image of God!

Prayer:  God, I give you all the weights that are dragging me down.  I give you all my cares, for you care for me.  Will you change my heart?  Will you change my attitude?  Will you make me better?  Thank you for all you do, all you are, all you've given and not given me.  Amen.

Pastor Emily 


Lindsay said...

Amen! I have loved getting into a better habit of making time for God each day, and this Summer of Scripture has been so wonderful!

This is where one of my favorite passages of scripture is! You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. And that's what I was wanting to talk about today.

But God is good and revealed some great things to me today. Right at the end of this section... 3:18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. I'm so thankful that my transformation continues in every moment... closer and closer to glory! So days, I get down about "not being a good enough Christian", but this passage reminded me that being Christian isn't about meeting worldly standards or comparisons, it's about transformation, the transformation of my mind and heart and actions. I have struggles and failures, but today's scripture reminded me that God transformation doesn't end until I am united with Christ.

Lord, thank you for transforming me in each minute, hour, day, year... never giving up on me.

Miki said...

I have been thinking about you all this summer doing this study together, and am so glad to be able to join you today!

A point that really stuck out to me tonight in this passage was in Chapter 1, and Paul's description of the sufferings they experienced in Asia. In verse 8 he says, "We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life." This is interesting to me because in church growing up, when someone would go through times of trial I'd always hear people say in response, "Well, God won't give you any more than you can handle." But that's not what Paul describes here at all.

I think this sticks out because in recent months we've become more and more aware of the incredible suffering that many of our brothers and sisters here in Russia are enduring. Just tonight Charlie was at a public community concert where a couple of christian bands were performing and reading scripture in a town public square. Locals in the crowd were becoming violently angered and threatening because of what the bands were saying. The bands are so accustomed to this that they had arranged for security to be there.

At the same time, in these churches many, long-time dedicated believers are suffering from physical and spiritual darkness, battles and fatigue. These are people who love the Lord, and who love each other dearly in Christ. If you can imagine, it's like people come into the church standing tall and full of energy, and then after years of service in Christ, become more and more broken and crippled by the work.

It's a big lesson for me to trust God to take me through things I can not handle. To allow myself to become broken in every aspect that He desires. The idea of it is very scary, but I can see great power that comes in being in a place where your every step - climbing out of bed in the morning - is completely out of your ability, but is only because of God's grace and mercy which never fail. I think those may be some of the most significant times in our lives with Christ, and in the furtherance of His Kingdom.

It's an honor to get to do some of this study with you all in Georgia! Thank you all for all you are doing in Christ!

Mary said...

I like the thought that God has set His seal on us and put His Spirit in us as a deposit of what is to come. I also like the thought of being transformed into the Lord's likeness. I want to remember that on a daily basis, in good times and hard times.

Carol Flores said...

We have to put all our trust in God. In 2:11 Paul reminds us that Satan is out to take advantage of us and that we should not be ignorant of his attempts. He is in my doubts and fears of not being good enough. God will you help me lay down my doubts and my fears because they are keeping the veil on my heart, which is preventing me from being all you would have me to be.