BDBD is 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Every human who has ever lived has experienced events that they never wanted to happen whether self-imposed or because of nothing they had done or failed to do. In this world everyone has troubles. Troubles will come.

Jesus’ apostles experienced perhaps some of the worse life events. Paul lists some of his life pains here. They included troubles, hardships, distress, beatings, imprisonment, riots, hard work, sleeplessness, hunger, dishonor, bad report, regarded as an impostor, unknown, dying, sorrow, poverty, and having nothing. Paul lists his responses to these here.

My response to everything that happens to me wanted or unwanted is important. I can choose now not to let future events dictate my response to them. I can train my will to be set to positive and my mind to alert ahead of time. I can commend my soul to be preset to “great endurance” (4). I do this as a mental and emotional wall to guard against attacks on my positive inner well-being.

As wise as that sounds I have come to realize an attitude of no surrender to any future troubling hardships is sometimes not enough. Some mornings I wake up feeling refreshed and strong-willed. The wall of defense is strong.

Most mornings however I do not wake up like this. I wake up feeling unrested and melancholy. I have never been a morning person. Even on the mornings where I am raring to take on and overcome any obstacle and trouble, there is always the possibility that a major unexpected tragedy that no one could possibly muscle up a strong will to overcome will happen. What then?

Paul wrote here he endured, “in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love” (6) and “in the power of God” (7). I have discovered that every morning, especially the melancholy ones when I turn my mind, my emotions, and my will to God even for a minute or 30 the wall of defense is built on solid rock. It will not fall down and I will not be overrun by emotions and thoughts that kill.

Jesus taught in a parable the wisdom that he is a solid rock to build on. So when troubles come I will not be overcome because my wall of defense is built on solid ground. I will not be destroyed. (Matt. 7:24-27) “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Ps. 18:2, 27:5, 40:2, 62:4)

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

I had estranged myself from God. I did this by not believing he loves me and that His ways are best. I harbored lust, envy, greed, and other kinds of godlessness in my heart. I thought about these and occasionally acted on those thoughts. God told me not to do these for it was harmful. Yet I did not accept his direction. I had a form of religion without the true God leading me. I sinned.
Then I read about Jesus. God showed me that Jesus reconciled me to God (19). Through Jesus God does not hold my sins against me. He takes them away through Jesus (14-15).
Jesus had no sin. Yet when he was on the cross he accepted my and everyone else’s sin into himself (21). So he who had no sin was punished and died. I accept his selfless sacrifice for me. Because of Jesus, I will not be punished. The old me is gone. The new me is now and forevermore (17).
Now I live for God (15). Living for God to me means more than doing what God says is best for me. It is to try to persuade others of what God revealed to me and has done for me. I try to show that he can so also do this for them (21). Jesus’s love causes me to lovingly share the good news with others through actions and when appropriate also in word (14). I share only when they are ready to listen.

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

God created humans with 3 parts; a physical body, a soul, and a spirit. The soul is my emotions, thoughts, and will. My spirit was dead until Jesus gave it new life when I first believed in him many years ago.
My physical body temporarily contains my soul and spirit. My physical body is like a tent that contains my soul and my spirit. Paul was in the tent business. This craft consists of mostly mending tents and occasionally making new ones. People use tents as temporary residences. Homes made of wood, brick, and metal are preferred to tents.
When I was young I was in the Boy Scouts. My troop often took trips usually staying in tents. One late fall we stayed near a small river winding through my grandparent’s dairy farm. Most stayed in tents except my friend and me. We decided to make a tent out of a rope and a large plastic sheet. The ends of the sheet overlapped under our sleeping bags.
The first night the weather changed from pleasant to a bitter cold freezing rain downpour. At first, my friend and I were safe and dry in our flimsy tent. However, after 15 minutes ice cold water began sleeping through the overlap under our sleeping bags. We became shivering cold and wet. We soon escaped the poor tent for the warm dry shelter of my grandparent’s farmhouse.
My physical body is like the plastic tent my friend and I made. When all is pleasant my physical body adequately houses my soul and spirit. However, from the day I was born my physical body contained flaws that do not keep well when life’s weather turns for the worse. In bad storms of life, I groan and am burdened. I feel naked, wet, and cold.
However, I have great hope. I believe that Jesus has made something better for me. When my current physical body finally fails I know that God has made a strong dry and warm home for my soul and a new spirit. He will place my soul and my new spirit in a new physical dwelling.
When my body dies I will not be naked. I know this is true because God’s Spirit within me spiritually reminds me of all the time. I live by faith even though I cannot physically see my new spirit, nor God’s Holy Spirit, nor have I seen my new resurrection physical body. Like Paul, I make it my goal to please Jesus who has given me this wonderful hope.

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 4

Life with Jesus is a split identity existence while in this world. The duel existence is not like the fictional Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde who had a bad character and a good character. Nor is it like a split personality disorder where two entirely different personalities exist in one body. Also, it is not my spiritual body versus my physical body.
The duel aspect of life in Jesus is a matter of death and life in my body. The death of Jesus and the life of Jesus is always alive and at work in my body (11). Every day brings the possibility of new challenges, troubles, baffling circumstances, and hardships (8). I am not affected now when these come the way I was affected before I knew Jesus. Rather than lose heart, will, strength, and obtain despair, confusion, and regrets Jesus’s life in me does the opposite. I am not crushed, I do not despair, I am not abandoned, and I am not destroyed.
The new God-given positive reactions to adverse life events are similar to the God-given reaction my body does when it mends a broken bone. When I was around 13 a rope that my brother and I were swinging on snapped. I plummeted to the ground and landed on a bed of stones and clay. My wrist snapped. A doctor set it and the bone fully mended itself in a few weeks.
Six months after the wrist cast was taken off I broke it again. This time I was sledding down a hill with my friends. They challenged me to stand on my Red Rider sled as I speed down the steep hill. I accepted the challenge. When I came to the bottom of the hill the sled’s front rails embedded into a snow ramp causing it to abruptly stop. I was catapulted into the air and landed on the same wrist as before.
When I arrived at an ER they took an x-ray of my wrist. The doctor reviewing the x-ray exclaimed, “It looks like the bone is broke in the exact same place. That is impossible because the mended bone is always stronger than the bone around it.” After enlarging the x-ray he was proven right. The wrist bone was broken in a new place.
Similar to the mended wrist bone, Jesus in me is stronger than to old self in me. Though strained I will not break as I might have done in the past. My “light and momentary troubles are achieving for (me) an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 3

The Old Covenant is compared to the New Covenant. The Lord God presented the Old Covenant to Israel at Mt. Sinai thru Moses on two stone tablets (Ex. 19-20) and the first five books of the Bible (though some are history). When Moses came down the mountain to present the Old Covenant his face was shown with the glory of God. This faded over time (Ex. 34:29-30, 33, 35). The old brought condemnation because the Israelites were unable to keep it for we all have the fallen sinful nature.
The Lord God presented the New Covenant to the world at Mt. Zion where Jerusalem is built thru Jesus, his Son. The Holy Spirit writes it on the hearts of those who believe in him. When Jesus ascended to heaven his face was shown with the glory of God. This never fades. The new brings righteousness because it solely relies on Jesus’s character and what Jesus did on the cross.
When I relied on myself for righteousness before God I had a veil over my heart. I tried to be a good person and so be accepted by God. I could not see God nor his Christ thru self-righteousness. I failed. I was separated from God.
Then God took the veil off my heart (16). Now I see Jesus sacrifice on the cross to atone for my sins. Now I solely rely on Jesus, who he is, and what he did for my righteousness. Now the Spirit of the Lord is in me. Now my relationship with God does not rely on me. I am free in Christ. I am free of the law and condemnation. I am being transformed into the image of the Son with ever-increasing glory (18). Jesus makes me competent as a minister of the new covenant (5-6).

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 2

Sunset

  Paul had given instructions in his first letter to the Corinthian congregation in chapter 5 concerning a man engaging in a particular offensive sexual immorality. He said they should cast him out. Here Paul reveals two motives behind that directive. First, he did not want to be grieved by them when he arrived (3-4). Second, he was testing their obedience (9). They did as Paul instructed and cast the man out.
  Now Paul is encouraging them to forgive the man and invite him to join them again. Paul had already forgiven him.
   One interesting statement here is, “if there was anything to forgive.” Another is, “that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not aware of his schemes.”
   Satan wants to destroy all of Christ’s congregations. He has different schemes to accomplish this. A particularly common one is to divide us. In this case, he used a man who persisted in incest. Thus, Paul said the man needed to be cast out. They obeyed.
  Satan’s scheme did not stop there. Now the congregation needed to forgive the man and accept him back into the church unconditionally.  Forgiveness is an important act of love. Jesus taught me to pray, “forgive us of our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”  Holding regret and judgment is self-destructive to me and to congregations. Discernment, separation from persistent sin, and unconditional forgiveness should all be done in love.

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 1:15-2:13

Acts 20:1-2 also records this time.
   Reading these verses it is clear that Paul changed his plans several times on his third missionary trip. Paul’s plans developed when different ever-changing circumstances developed. Since he often changed his plans it is clear that he did not always know what God’s specific will was for him. Events forced him to make new plans.
   Paul was ministering in Ephesus for 2 years and 3 months (1:8-10, Acts 19:8-10). He had not planned on staying that long anywhere on this missionary journey.  Yet, because God had opened the door in Ephesus he changed his plans and stayed there a long time. Events in other congregations like those in Corinth caused them to asked Paul to visit them. Yet he did not.
  Finally, due to a riot in Ephesus Paul was forced to leave. He traveled north to the coastal city Troas and sailed west to Philippi.  Then he traveled on land west to Thessalonica and then to Berea. These cities are in the Macedonia province. Corinth is to the south of these cities. (See maps at www.stephenricker.com/study/paul_3.htm)
  Paul wanted to travel south to Corinth because he heard of alarming things happening in their young congregation. Yet, Paul changed his mind and delayed his plans because of issues in the Thessalonica congregation. Instead of traveling to Corinth Paul wrote them his first letter.
   Finally, Paul left the province of Macedonia and arrived in the province of Greece. He visited Athens and Corinth. Then he traveled north again to Thessalonica.  When he arrived back there he heard of more alarming things happening in Corinth. From this letter, it appears he did not know what to do. Should he return to them, or go onto Jerusalem as he had planned? (1:23-2:1) Finally, he wrote this letter.  Paul appears to be reacting more to events than preparing and planning them.
  I am happy to see even the Apostle Paul wasn’t always sure of God’s specific will for his life. Right now I am in-between going there, there, or staying here. Every morning I ask God to cleanse me with the blood, fill me with His Spirit, show me his will, and give me whatever is needed to carry it out. I say yes to God’s will and wait on the Holy Spirit to reveal his will. Sometimes events happen and choices need to be made. Other times I need to patiently wait to hear from God. Now I wait.

BDBD is 2 Corinthians 1:1-14

flower

Paul wrote this letter to the new congregation at Corinth shortly after he wrote the first one. He wrote it in the middle of his third missionary journey in 56 AD while residing in the Roman province of Macedonia. Paul wanted to visit Corinth to the south again, but had not done so and thus explains and apologized for his delays.
Verses 21 and 22 are moving. God makes me “stand firm in Christ. He anointed (me), set his seal of ownership on (me), and put his Spirit in (my) heart as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” God’s grace is wonderful and precious.
I am not the one who does any of this. God does it all. I am weak in faith and my actions prove it. Yet God in his grace makes me stand firm in Christ.
When I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and asked him to take full control of my life God anointed me with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit entered me. It was something entirely new to me. It was pleasant, loving, powerful, and warm. I was anointed.
Seals of ownership are used to this day. A rancher’s seal of ownership is called a brand. He or she puts the brand on a metal plate. The plate is heated and pressed against the steer hide. This burns the brand on the steer. The brand is a claim of ownership.
God burned his brand on my hide. This is what happened when I first believed. God branded me with the Holy Spirit. Now when the Holy Spirit moves in my spirit just as he did the day I first believed, I know that I am his and he is mine. I feel his guarantee of what is to come. These movements are small in comparison to what is to come. With them, I am encouraged to continue in troubles and hardship just as Paul did.

BDBD is 1 Corinthians 16

  Paul concludes his letter to the congregation at Corinth with an instruction, a personal request, and final greetings.
  The Corinthian congregation meets on the first day of the week, Sunday. That is when he told them to gather together money to help the believers in Jerusalem. Judah was experiencing a severe drought. They were to plan and prepare according to their income to help fellow Christians.  Helping other believers is a good part of life in Jesus.
  Paul also encouraged hospitality toward traveling believers. At times I was stationary and accepted others into my abode. Now I find myself moving here and there often. In the last 15 months, I stayed at 8 different places. Some for a few days, others longer and still others I visited more than once. Some of these times the Lord’s people and family welcomed me in. Most of the time I was alone renting. A few times I had guests. It is good to open my home and share time with believers.

BDBD is 1 Corinthians 15

People live after the body dies. It’s a fact.  Jesus bodily died and was buried. It’s a fact. Jesus rose from death bodily. It’s a fact. Those who believe in Jesus will die and then receive a resurrection body. It’s a fact. The resurrection body is far better than the body I currently have.  It’s a fact. The body I have now is a flesh weak earthly body. The body I will receive in Christ will be a powerful spiritual body like Jesus’s body is now. These are facts.
   When I think of the resurrection to come I think of a caterpillar.  They have a long fussy body with many feet that traverse on plants and the ground. They eat and grow, eat and grow, and eat and grow. Then one day they form a cocoon around them. In hiding their worm body is amazingly transformed into a colorful delicate flying body. They are the same creatures on the inside. Yet outside they are something entirely new. Somewhere in their DNA is an old and a new body.  For me it’s an amazing picture of what God can do and will do.

BDBD is 1 Corinthians 14

Paul is continuing and concluding his point about gifts of the Spirit with how the gifts are to be used when they come together as a group. Some congregations call the gathering a mass, a worship service, a joyful celebration, a Bible study, or simply a gathering.
First, he states that speaking in tongues should not be done when they are gathered as a group unless someone can interpret what they are saying. The reasons are because tongues are for self-edification and if a stranger would come in during the gathering they would think they are all drunk.
Second, only a few are to sing a hymn or song. He does not specify the style or the meaning of the lyrics. He does not include or exclude instruments. He does say it should be done in turn.
Third, he says that two or perhaps three prophets should speak and the others should weigh carefully what is said. A prophet then is called today a pastor, priest, shepherd, missionary, evangelist, and speaker. Those who speak should speak in turn, not all at once.
Fourth, Paul wrote that women should remain silent. Today this is shocking and labeled as anti-women. The reason Moses wrote this and Paul agreed was not that women are not intelligent. It’s because they were not educated in ages past. Most could not read the Bible. The speakers should be educated. I have great respect for two ladies who taught the Bible for many years at church. I spoke to one yesterday who went to the same seminary as Bily Graham. Her knowledge of the Bible and 60 years of teaching is clearly a gift of the Spirit.

BDBD is 1 Corinthians 13

And now these three remain; faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  This verse is the basis for my manuscript, “The Believers Future, Hope that Inspires” which is on my website (https://stephenricker.com/novels/the_believers_future.htm. It’s also there in PDF.). Now I find my hope fading like fog in the morning as the sun rises and the air gets hotter and hotter. What is to become of me in this world?
  God has given me different gifts at different times to help others.  Yet these gifts whether tongues, prophecy, miraculous powers, healing, wisdom, and messages of knowledge are all temporary. They are tools meant for the greater good. All tools can be used for good or bad including the gifts of the Spirit.
  All is from God. Therefore, all is a gift including health, wealth, prosperity, food, drink, children, and gifts of the Spirit. These gifts should be used in love. Sometimes they are not.
   Love is patient, kind, protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.  Yet here when I have lost almost all and own much I find my hope melt away like an ice cube in a frying pan. All I can do is love those I meet and pray for mercy.

BDBD is 1 Corinthians 12

  The chapter is easy enough to understand. All believers are in Jesus. Each has been given a gift to be used for the greater good of the congregation. The least part should be honored more than the greater part. Each should use their gift accordingly. All are a part of Jesus. There is unity in the diversity of Jesus's people.
 The reason Paul wrote this chapter was obviously because of the division, disagreements, bickering, and gossip in the congregation. Every group whether Christian or not have this problem. I like Star Trek. I look at Star Trek groups in Facebook. They claim diversity. Yet most do not accept others that are not like them. I have been a member of congregations as I have lived in different cities. I see similarities to the Star Trek groups, but not as severe.
  Everyone is unique in Christ. No one is like me. I am not like anyone else. I should not look down nor up to someone else. I should respect everyone else in action and word. Still I find myself congregating towards those more like me than not. Such actions forms niches that often exclude others. Divisions then form. God does not want divisions. I need others especially those not at all like me and those who do not have the sames gifts as me.