November 30

Read II Corinthians 9 -- 13

In Today’s Reading:

Offering for the church at Jerusalem; Paul's spiritual authority; warning against false teachers; Paul's suffering as an apostle; his thorn in the flesh; his plans to visit Corinth.

Paul not only faced rejection from hostile enemies of Christ, but even from believers as well. He recalls: Of the Jews five times I received forty stripes (lashes) save one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been (adrift) in the open (sea); In journeyings often, in perils (constant danger) by my own countrymen . . . by the heathen . . . perils in the city . . . perils in the wilderness . . . perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often (through many sleepless nights), I have endured hunger and thirst, often fasting, exposed to cold and lack of clothing. Besides the trials that are from the outside, there is daily the care of all the churches (II Corinthians 11:24-28).

After his conversion, Paul lived with one purpose in life: To preach the Gospel in the regions beyond (in lands never before reached) (10:16). Because of his great desire to serve Jesus, his Messiah Savior, he gave up all his former material securities and attainments of wealth, prestige, influence, and worldly acclaim and said: What (former) things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. . . . and I count all things as loss compared to the excellency (the priceless privilege) of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do consider it all dung, that I may win Christ (have His approval). . . . forgetting those things which are behind . . . I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:7-8,13-14).

We too have the high calling to reach out to our world with the Good News of eternal life. Surely everyone should have the opportunity of hearing, at least once, that at death everyone is destined to eternal hell or eternal life in Heaven. Our Creator Jesus Christ said: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me (John 14:6). Have you ever thought what it means for a person to die without being saved? Even though their good life and good works were very commendable, that person will be eternally separated from God and in great torment in hell for all eternity. In fact, Jesus said that hell was a place of outer darkness: (where) there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). We usually think that only evil criminals will be in hell, but Jesus said to some very religious leaders: You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do (John 8:44).

The dividing line between the sheep and the goats, the tares and the wheat, the saved and the lost rests upon one fact; Jesus said: Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God (3:5). Also, He said: If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death (eternally lost) (8:51).

It is of utmost importance that we consider our priorities. Do they bring us closer to the Lord and His purpose for our lives or take us further away from Him? Jesus . . . said, if a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him (John 14:23).

Thought for Today: Our willingness to give reveals the condition of our hearts.

Word Studies:

9:2 forwardness = willingness; 9:5 bounty = gift; 9:7 of necessity = under compulsion; 9:13 experiment = experience, proof, and evidence; 10:13 without = beyond; 11:2 espoused = betrothed; 11:3 beguiled = deceived, seduced; simplicity = sincere faithfulness; 11:5 a whit behind = at all inferior to; 11:6 rude in speech = unskilled as an orator; 12:7 buffet = discipline; 12:17 make a gain of you = take advantage of or exploit you; 12:20 swellings = pride; self-assertion; 12:21 lasciviousness = lustfulness; 13:6 we are not reprobates = we are genuine Christians.

Cross References:

For II Corinthians 9:9: See Psa. 112:9. II Cor. 10:17: See Jer. 9:24. II Cor. 13:1: See Deut. 19:15.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Rep. Barbara Cubin (WY) and Rep. Richard Burr (NC) · Pray for one more person to read through the Bible · Country: Ethiopia (60 million) in eastern Africa · Major languages: Amharic and Tigrinya · unsettled after overthrow of communist regime · 41% Eastern Orthodox; 35% Muslim; 10% Protestant; 10% animist; .7% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Humbly kneel before the Lord in prayer and worship the Lord (II Chronicles 6:13).

Memory Verse for the Week: I Corinthians 6:11