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Bible Pathways 11/28/2002

November 28

Read II Corinthians 1 -- 4

In Today’s Reading:

Forgiving those who have repented of sin; Lordship of Christ; suffering of Christians.

Earthen vessels (clay pots) have very little value of their own. Their essential worth depends upon what they contain. If they are filled with gold, their value increases dramatically because of what they contain. The body of a Christian is compared to an ordinary clay pot and the precious treasure it contains is Christ, in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). We have this treasure in earthen vessels (II Corinthians 4:7) and are precious to God as dispensers of His life-producing Word. But, at the same time that Paul reveals this glorious truth, he also describes experiences common to all children of God: We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body (4:8-10).

Since the Holy Spirit is in every born again Christian, we have the privilege of expressing His characteristics during every trial and suffering. God is able to take any seemingly insignificant person who trusts in Jesus Christ and use that person to bring glory to Himself. We can face trials and suffering with the confidence that our Lord lovingly provides His best for our eternal good. Times of testing provide us with the opportunities to express His love, joy, peace, freedom from fear, and comfort beyond all human ability to explain.

Trials and troubles, in whatever form, are necessary for every Christian's spiritual growth; without them, we would not exercise our faith to develop spiritual insight and strength (Acts 14:22; I Peter 1:6-7). The purpose for Christ, the sinless Son of God, coming to earth was not only to die on the cross for the sins of the world; it was also essential that He rise from the grave. Just as it was necessary for Him to die, we too must die to self-love and become willing partakers of His sufferings. The Apostle Paul experienced the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10).

Jesus' death and resurrection made it possible for us to receive, not only eternal life, but life more abundant. The "cross" experiences of a Christian allow us to experience His resurrection life . . . more abundantly (John 10:10).

Peter also encouraged the brethren: Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you: But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy (I Peter 4:12-13).

However, not everyone will rejoice. Instead, some become bitter, not knowing the Word of God, or choosing to disobey what it says. Others leave the church or have nervous breakdowns -- all because they fail to recognize or accept that we are called to be partakers of Christ's sufferings.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment

(distress of the passing hour), works for us (preparing and achieving) a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal (brief and earthly); but the things which are not seen are eternal (II Corinthians 4:17-18).

Thought for Today: God's comfort to us enables us to comfort others.

Word Studies:

2:5 not overcharge = not be too severe; 2:9 know the proof of you = test your loyalty; 2:14 savour = satisfaction; 3:10 even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth = what was glorious (Law given to Moses) has no glory in comparison to the surpassing glory of Jesus Christ; 4:15 redound = abound.

Cross References:

For II Corinthians 3:13: See Ex. 34:33. II Cor. 4:13: See Psa. 116:10.

Prayer Needs:

Government Official: Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (MI) · Pray for your church · Country: Eritrea (4 million) in eastern Africa · Major languages: English and Tigrinya · Religious freedom · 51% Muslim; 40% Eritrean Orthodox; 4% Catholic; 1.5% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Pray and then obediently do what God says (I Chronicles 14:14-16).

Memory Verse for the Week: I Corinthians 6:11

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