He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and [a]prudence, 9 having made known
to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed
in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might
gather together in one all things in Christ, [b]both which are in heaven and
which are on earth—in Him.
Footnotes: Ephesians 1:8 understandingEphesians; 1:10 NU, M omit both
by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is
the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared
beforehand that we should walk in them.
He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened
with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in
your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may
be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and
depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that
you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or
think, according to the power that works in us,
Is it merely my conscience involved to live my personal preferences? Today let us meditate on what the Lord Holy Spirit spoke through Apostle Paul on this controversial subject in our very personal and subjective world and the predominant “me, me, me” philosophy believed in, practiced and permeated throughout many human societies. The following bible passages speak specifically to God’s people, -the Christians and draw us to focus on some practical missions in this life: promote spiritual growth in others, beware of others’ judgmental conscience (do not let others have the opportunity to condemn yours), do not (even if passively) cause others fall into a trap (take offense) even if dug by themselves because they interpret your actions according to their conscience. This is a tall order to Christians. Are we keepers of others? Reading this passage it would appear “yes”. Like what Paul advised all Christians, “I sincerely attempt to do anything I can so that others may be saved.” In the final analysis nothing else matters.
1 Corinthians 10:32 (NKJV) “Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God,”
1 Corinthians 10:23-33 The Passion Translation (TPT) )
You say, “Under grace there are no rules and we’re free to do anything we please.” Not exactly. Because not everything promotes growth in others. Your slogan, “We’re allowed to do anything we choose,” may be true—but not everything causes the spiritual advancement of others. 24 So don’t always seek what is best for you at the expense of another. 25 Yes, you are free to eat anything without worrying about your conscience, 26 for the earth and all its abundance belongs to the Lord.[a]
if an unbeliever invites you to dinner, go ahead and eat whatever is
served, without asking questions concerning where it came from.[b]28 But
if he goes out of his way to inform you that the meat was actually an
offering sacrificed to idols, then you should pass, not only for his
sake but because of his conscience. 29 I’m
talking about someone else’s conscience, not yours. What good is there
in doing what you please if it’s condemned by someone else?
30 So if I voluntarily participate, why should I be judged for celebrating my freedom?[c]31 Whether you eat or drink, live your life in a way that glorifies and honors God. 32 And make sure you’re not offending Jews or Greeks or any part of God’s assembly over your personal preferences. 33 Follow my example,
for I try to please everyone in all things, rather than putting my
liberty first. I sincerely attempt to do anything I can so that others
may be saved.
Offence [Noun] skandalon originally
was “the name of the part of a trap to which the bait is attached, hence,
the trap or snare itself, as in Rom 11:9, RV, ‘stumblingblock,’ quoted from
Psalm 69:22, and in Rev 2:14, for Balaam’s device was rather a trap for Israel
than a stumblingblock to them, and in Matt 16:23, for in Peter’s words the Lord
perceived a snare laid for Him by Satan.
“In NT skandalon is always
used metaphorically, and ordinarily of anything that arouses prejudice, or
becomes a hindrance to others, or causes them to fall by the way.”
What is in God’s heart? How did Jesus demonstrate this?
Mark 6:34, 36 –
“When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He was moved with compassion
for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd [lacking guidance];
and He began to teach them
God’s solution to sin, sickness, poverty, and death: The sacrifice of Christ through the shedding of His blood. Ephesians 1:7 – “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
Commandments given by Jesus
to all believers: (Scripture quoted in New King James Version)
1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it
is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus
came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven
and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20
teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am
with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Mark 16:15-20 And He said to
them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who
believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be
condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they
will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up
serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them;
they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then, after the
Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the
right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord
working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
Luke 24:46-48 Then He said to
them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer
and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission
of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And you are witnesses of these things.
Acts 1:8 But you shall
receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be
witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of
2 Corinthians 5:19 – “that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
THIS is What Stirs the Heart of God:
Luke 15:7 – “I say to you that likewise, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 just persons who need no repentance.”
For Evangelists: Psalm 2:8 – “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.”
Titus 2:14 – “God gave Himself for us, that he might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself.”
Examples of how the apostles
and early churches/disciples applied what Jesus has commanded: How they prayed,
the prayer’s effect, and how they applied:
Acts 4:29-31 Now, Lord, look
on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may
speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and
wonders may be done through the name of Your Holy Servant Jesus.” 31 And when
they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and
they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with
Acts 5:12 And through the
hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And
they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch.
Acts 5:14-16 And believers
were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so
that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and
couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.
16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing
sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all
Acts 5:29-32 But Peter and
the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. 30
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.
31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give
repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these
things, and so also is the Holy Spirit Whom God has given to those who obey
Acts 5:42 And daily in the
temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as
Acts 6:7-8 Then the word of
God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem,
and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. 8 And Stephen, full
of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
Acts 8:6-8 And the multitudes
with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the
miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came
out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were
healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) (Galatians 1:1 KJV) Paul had been given unique authority from Christ to be his representative and the founder of churches (see Acts 1:21-26). In his letters to the Corinthian Christians he identified himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” His apostolic ministry was clearly evidenced by the authority and the life transforming revealed words and power of the resurrected Christ. As a closing to my notes on a meditative journey in 2 Corinthians I have done the following chart on the subject of power and authority. My notes on the Bible verses are in brackets.
1 Corinthians 15:24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. (All authorities on earth will come to an end)
2 Corinthians 10:8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed— (God-given authority to men is for constructive and not destructive purposes)
2 Corinthians 13:10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction. (same as above)
1:18 [Christ the Power and Wisdom of God] For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (The salvation message is the power to save and transform)
1:24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (The resurrected Christ is the power and wisdom in us)
2:4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (Paul’s speeches are confirmed by deeds of spiritual power which manifests in physical realm)
2:5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (man’s words are powerless; power of God makes things work)
4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (We are so privileged to be chosen for His glory)
4:19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. (No use to boast about your ministry unless your words can be confirmed by God’s power)
4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. (God’s kingdom is about power in deeds that confirm His words)
6:14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. (God’s power raises the dead; power of God is the only source of life)
We finally reach a key survival tactic, how do Christians win wars? Apostle Paul is really an expert in this field judging from the long list of challenges he went through and his always emerging as the victor and not the victim! I have done a simple chart with the key Bible verses from 2 Corinthians 10. Please read the whole chapter for a better understanding. Paul’s other letters speak of how we can control and train our thought life. For example, Philippians 4:8 is a good place to start your meditation.
Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)
Meditate on These Things
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
In recent years the world notes how effective economic leverage works in social-political re-engineering. Today we study another kind of successful leverages from a great master, Paul, a businessman-apostle. Economic (financial) interest is always the top priority in this world. It ties with the micro self-interest of an individual and the macro self-interest of a group, a nation or even the whole world.
In 2 Corinthians chapters 8-9 we continue to reflect on Paul’s motivations and strategies, supporting a broader understanding of mission – one that sees the purpose of the church as going beyond mere evangelism, and including all manner of personal and social reconciliation (including the use of financial and economic resources). Paul presented a sustainable economical and spiritual inter-linked blue-print to the Corinthians who were already well versed with the marketplace and its language. Now Paul teaches them the higher spiritual reality which is an integral part of their physical financial reality. Take note that the Corinthian Christians were just ordinary individuals (not particularly outstanding or privileged in terms of intellect, wealth and status) when they were first converted. But they have apparently been transformed and blessed with bountiful physical prosperity and spiritual gifts after that. (1 Corinthians 1:26) Apostle Paul showed them the way of God’s economy and finance.
Here is my simplified chart on this practical application of grace and economics by Paul. (Please read Chapters 8-9 in 2 Corinthians)
Application regarding Christian giving:
Paul reminds us that our source of wealth is God’s grace through Jesus Christ
God gives us the ability to make wealth
God makes us abound in everything
We are to abound especially in giving grace
We are to give ourselves to God first
Then we will be able to give financial gift to others
We (the believers) are expected to give to the ministry of Christ
We give what we have (not what we do not have)
God will ensure we have more than enough to give
We must complete the doing of the giving
He who sows sparingly will also reap bountifully
The recipients are to ensure that gift be administered with transparent honor
In the summer of 50 A.D., the apostle Paul left Athens and traveled to Corinth city where he met Priscilla and Aquila, a tent-making couple who greatly aided him in his ministry. He stayed with them and joined them in the marketplace. Following Paul’s visit between 51 and 52 AD, Corinth became the centre of early Christianity in Greece. Paul’s friends and fellow evangelists Silas and Timothy joined him in Corinth. He preached the gospel every Sabbath until he left the city around Autumn of 52 A.D. Paul revisited the city in 58 A.D. during his third missionary journey (see Acts 20:1-3).
Why did Paul choose to leave a somewhat neutral intellectual Athens where he discoursed with civil Jews and Gentiles without being obstructed but instead proceed to a melting pot like Corinth? Because he saw a greater Gospel sharing evangelical opportunity at Corinth with its strategic crossroad location situated between Italy and Asia Minor on the Isthmus and is master of two harbors and a large population with various needs conglomerating for the economic boom and related activities. Corinth city was flourishing by the 1st century AD as an important international center of administration, trade, games and entertainment. Corinth had the largest population in Greece with Greeks, Jews, Romans, even the Phoenicians and Phrygians from the east. Corinth’s financial prosperity was the result of business activities, athletic games, the skills and quality of its statesmen and craftsmen, and immorality. Because of its close connection to the sea, with ports to the east and to the west, the cosmopolitan population of Corinth consisted largely of sailors, merchants, adventurers, and refugees, which included retired and discharged veterans.
Thus, Paul and his team had found a needy evangelistic target as well as a market niche from the Jewish refugees (from Rome), Roman soldiers, the many tradesmen and religious pilgrim travelers and the games competitors and spectators.
Corinthian became the second largest city in the Roman empire, boasting a population of 700,000 people. In eighteen months Paul built the largest church in the history of the world. The lowest estimates are 40,000 and most historians say the number was more like 80,000 people.
I was asked to give an impromptu speech for five minutes under the main topic of “high performing organization” to my fellow corporate colleagues. We were each given 10 minutes to prepare. Unlike others who were experienced managers, I was at that time a fresh graduate and had to think outside the box. I chose to speak on “leadership” with a very simplistic illustration of a man standing on top of a patch of ground. Then the ground was dug away and he fell into the hole. It gave the message that a leader without supporters/helpers (or a king without subjects) is useless. The seemingly insignificant supportive workers (or citizens) in an organization (kingdom) form the solid ground the CEO-leader stands on. A high performing organization requires a leader who values and sustains those who together make and hold up the solid ground for a pre-defined and agreed upon common good and rewards according to each share of contribution in efforts. I was thinking of a somewhat “populistic” yet effective performance-based leadership.
Good management theories and practices have sustained over the years and in fact have impacted all economic activities. In my worldview, ethical, productive, and constructive economic activities and their sustainable distribution of positive outcome can solve many problems in this world.
I use the term ‘economic activities” to sum up all the activities that involve two humans or more doing something productive together with the goal of achieving a mutually beneficial increase in the sum total outcome than each would have achieved on his own. There is a term called “synergy” to describe this: a state in which two or more things work together in a particularly fruitful way that produces an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects. Expressed also as “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
I find this quote relevant and give a higher level of perspective: “We are all bound to work in the vineyard where God is the husbandman. We have all been given our little vineyard, but the way in which we cultivate it is of great importance for the prosperity of our neighbour’s vineyard… In fact all our vineyards are a part of the Lord’s great vineyard, the Holy Church, and we are all bound to work here too.” ― Sigrid Undset
The apostle Paul was such a practitioner. In his letter (speech) to the Corinthian Christians (2 Corinthians 7) he showed such a servant-leadership characteristic. He had every right to tell them off as being ungrateful and disrespectful etc. But he did not. Instead he praised them for the positive things they had done and highlighted those aspects that showed their sincerity in their relationship with him and his team.
He wrote: 7:2 Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. 4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.
He praised them further for their repentance: 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
He spoke of his talking good about them to his co-worker Titus who also witnessed their goodness when visiting them: 13 Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. 15 And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16 Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything.
I will continue in my next blog on Paul’s motivational leadership practice.
Today I have done a simple diagram. Let us read this new wine revealed in new wineskin. I am awed that we can actually apply this simple rule of law to every practical aspect of our lives, as ambassadors for Christ, representing the Kingdom of God.
2 Corinthians 5:11-21 New King James Version (NKJV)
11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
Be Reconciled to God
12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not [a]imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Today we learn how effectively Paul use both his mind and spirit: aligned with the mind of Christ and the Spirit of Christ.
His challenge list reads like a horror movie, far worse than any nightmare: five times whipped with 39 stripes each, three times beaten by rod, once stoned, three times shipwrecked, one night and one day in the deep, in journeys often, in perils of waters, robbers, own countrymen, gentiles, city, wilderness, sea, false brethren, weariness, toil, sleeplessness often, hunger, thirst, fasting often, cold, nakedness, deep concern for all churches, threat of imminent arrest (his life) from city authority. He was in constant physical and mind challenges: in much patience, tribulations, needs, distresses, stripes, imprisonments, tumults, and labors. (2 Corinthians 11:24-26; 6:4-5)
Imagine a human always being hounded, on the look-out, on the run, slandered, taunted, intimidated, verbally and physically abused, violently assaulted, falsely accused, brutally arrested, beaten, condemned as guilty without evidence, imprisoned without a just trial, and always overhung with the death sentence.
But what did Paul say about his conditions? How did he deal with such an overload of injustice and schemes of torments after his life? His letters showed how he looked at things both sides. He lived in both the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man, the spiritual and the physical realms, the temporary and the eternal, the external and the internal, the seen and the unseen. To Paul, both were real. He really experienced them, the natural and the supernatural. By knowing the two parallel realities Paul was able to handle the challenges confidently and overcome them successfully. Because his focus and priority are always on the side of the real victor, Christ.
He explained this plainly in his letters (2 Corinthians 6:6-10). There are two sides in everything: the view of the enemy and the view of a Spirit-filled Christian (reflecting God’s view). The evil and the good. The good will always overpower the evil one. Paul effectively and fearlessly exercised his spiritual power and authority over his unseen foe who worked through other human and natural elements. I append below self-explanatory Bible verses on this awesome revelation!
2 Corinthians 6:4-10 (NKJV)
4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much [a]patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by [b]sincere love, 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
24 Festus interrupted Paul’s defense,[a] blurting out, “You’re out of your mind! All this great learning of yours is driving you crazy.”[b]
25 Paul replied, “No, Your Excellency Festus, I am not crazy. I speak the words of truth and reason.[c]26 King Agrippa, I know I can speak frankly and freely with you, for you understand these matters well, and none of these things have escaped your notice. After all, it’s not like it was a secret!
Acts 26:24 The Aramaic can be translated “As the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul, Festus interrupted.”
Acts 26:24 Or “So much Scripture has made you senseless!”
An unusual set of circumstances will combine in the early hours of Monday morning in the skies above the northern hemisphere, resulting in a phenomenon called a super blood wolf moon. Overnight from Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, into Monday, Jan. 21, millions of people in North and South America will have a prime view of a total lunar eclipse. The Jan. 21 total lunar eclipse will be the last one until May 2021, and the last one visible from the United States until 2022.
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. ” (Joel 2:31; Acts 2:20) This phenomena was prophesied by prophet Joel and confirmed by apostle Peter in his first public preaching after the first baptism of the Holy Spirit upon each of the 120 apostles/disciples of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. Prophet Joel’s prophecy was about the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and the showing of wonders in heavens and on earth before “the great and terrible day of the Lord come.” I quote below the Bible verses in context from Joel 2:29-32.
Joel 2: 29 “And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. 32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered:” (KJV)
It is notable that in apostle Peter’s account he confirmed the prophecy of the pouring of the Holy Spirit. He then focused on the salvation message, testifying the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The result was spectacular as follows:
Acts 2:37-38, 41 King James Version (KJV)
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Again, it is notable that Peter did not mention any other things but specified solemnly that the believers would receive a divine gift from God: the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) which comes with salvation. So, at this time of watching the phenomenon in the natural world, let us meditate on the importance of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The power of God is essential in our Christian walk, just as in the lives and ministry of Jesus, the apostles and disciples. As I read Paul’s letters to the churches I realize that he would not have survived without the power of the Holy Spirit. The dangers, trials and adversities he went through are no different from those gone through by some evangelists, missionaries and even believers in some countries and people groups today in varying quantities, frequencies and intensities. In fact today it is worse in some places where there are oppositions magnified and strengthened by advanced technologies from believers of other faith and philosophies.
I would therefore urge all Christians whether you are watching the blood moon or not to spend time reading the words of God and ask the Lord what you and your loved ones can do to go deeper in the walk with the Holy Spirit like Paul and many others did starting from the Pentecost Day AD 30.
The Bible verses quoted from Acts and Joel referred to the phenomena that will happen before the Lord Jesus returns. This is why it is even more pertinent to read and understand what the Lord is telling us today as we watch the things that can be seen while focusing on the things that cannot be seen with our physical eyes.
I now realize that in the previous two chapters of 2 Corinthians Paul spoke of his relationship in Christ with God and then with man. In the third chapter he described his relationship with the Holy Spirit, his power source. I summarize below my understanding. Indeed this is my favorite chapter!
Chapter 3: Paul’s Ministry of
the Holy Spirit
Paul described the Holy Spirit as: The Spirit of the living God, the Spirit of Christ, the Lord.
The Holy Spirit writes letter in the heart, gives lives, changes lives.
New covenant of the Spirit gives life.
Ministry of the Spirit is far more glorious than the ministry of the Old Testament.
Whenever the Scripture is read and the people turn to the Lord, the Holy Spirit removes the veil in hearts to see Jesus as the Christ.
The Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
The Holy Spirit transforms us into the same image of the Lord, from glory to glory.
Paul’s sufficiency is from God who made him minister of the new covenant of the Spirit who gives life.
The ministry of the Spirit is also called: the ministry of the new covenant, the ministry of righteousness and the ministry of glory.
Holy Spirit causes: Boldness, unveiled heart when the truth is preached, liberty whenever one turns to the Holy Spirit, transformation of lives.
Today I am back to 2 Corinthians on why Paul was fearless against all odds. Chapter 2 showed a different Paul from the evangelistic goal-focused apostle Paul we may imagine he was. I summarize below my deeper understanding after reading this part of his letter to the Corinth Christians.
Chapter 2: Pauls’ Ministry of the body of Christ -Paul teaches the right priority in ministry, motive and manner in handling the body of Christ.
He clarified that his ministry was not to bring sorrow to himself and/or the body of Christ but joy: through forgiving, comforting, reaffirming God’s love.
He showed his concern for the body of Christ which took precedence over his personal ministry. For example, he wanted to follow through their progress in Christ. So he chose to forego an opportunity to preach gospel at Troas and instead returned to Macedonia to wait for his co-worker Titus whom he expected to bring the latest news about the Corinthian body of Christ.
Paul followed the Holy Spirit and the peace in his heart. When he did not find rest in his heart he decided not to start an evangelical work in a new place alone despite the valuable opportunity offered. He also followed the rule that they worked in a team of two or more (he, Titus and others).
Whilst in the midst of uncertainty with his flocks at Corinth: their spiritual condition and his (and his team’s) relationship with them, he remained calm and confident of the positive outcome and described the work of the evangelists always in triumph in Christ because it is God who initiates the work and causes the victory to manifest.
He has personally experienced the God-initiated work which always gives life and triumph over death and doom.
Paul was confident with the Corinth Christians because he was fearless to preach the word of God with sincerity and authority in Christ. He wanted them well. He had God’s heart for them.
While meditating 2 Corinthians on how to be fearless in the fearful days, I was led to read Acts 27 Paul’s fearlessness at sea in a tempest. The incident happened around 62AD, about five years after he wrote to the Corinthians. In the letter to Corinthians he stated that he was shipwrecked three times and spent a day and a night in the deep previously. Paul lived a supernatural life by the Spirit. He was always with His God (ours too).
In this shipwreck he again stayed calm and confident at all time. The captain (owner) and the helmsman of the ship panicked. The Romans centurion was persuaded to listen to them. But only Paul was right in his predictions.
Paul was right because he knew our God, “the God to whom I belong and whom I serve,” Paul described to them. God had sent spiritual messenger (angel) to tell Paul things beforehand.
Paul perceived correctly the voyage would end with disaster and much loss, cargo and ship and possibly lives before they encountered the tempest.
After they encountered the tempest for many days and lost all hope Paul gave them his words of comfort and assurance of safety from the Lord: that there would be no loss except for the ship which would run aground on a certain island. “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.”
Paul’s further prediction and advice: unless the sailors who tried to escape on their own stay in the ship they could not be saved; that all should take nourishment for this was for their survival (after fourteen days of fasting); “not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” He promised.
That night they ate and the next day they were shipwrecked. Those who could swim jumped overboard first and got to land. The rest on boards and on parts of the ship. And all 276 escaped safely to land. The ship was a total loss.
I started reading 2 Corinthians in the Bible with freshness and revelation in my spirit. I believe this is an antidote to the prevailing fear in the face of uncertainties in the external factors that appear to impact our life and our ministry. In chapter one Paul displayed his key success factor, the God he believed in. Who is God? What can God do? What has God done? What is his relationship with God? These are the questions he has answered. I pray you too will be comforted and reassured as you read Paul’s confession in this letter.
My summary of 2 Corinthians Chapter 1 Paul is entirely God-focused:
God is: God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.
God raises the dead: who delivered them (Paul and his team) from death in the past, and does deliver them (present), and in whom they trust that He will still deliver them in future.
God is faithful with all His promises: when He says Yes He means Yes.
God is his witness; anointed them; given them the Spirit as seal and guarantee; God gives grace and wisdom abundantly to Paul and his team.
Paul is apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.
Paul follows God’s plan (walking by the Holy Spirit) in every decision.
With God in mind, Paul and his team conduct themselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity.
Paul values the answered prayer/intercession by the Corinthian and Achaia Christians for Paul and his team’s safety.
A Christian trend emerges lately, that is, inviting ‘speakers’ to speak on end time matters. In a recent extreme case, a man turned up suddenly and claims that he is Christ and some Christians believe him and follow him to call on all their Christian networks to enlist followers! You may think it ridiculous but it is happening at the doorstep of churches. Unprepared Christians are like sheep lured into following the fake ‘christ’. I believe it’s time to read what Jesus said about end times in answer to His disciples’ questions.
How will He appear and how will we know it’s Jesus? Jesus said that when He comes He will be seen by the whole world all at once. “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30)
Obviously, everybody in the world will see Him all at once and know He is the Christ.
Let us reread Matthew 24, in which Lord Jesus answered His disciples about the His return. We can see a few key points: 1. Don’t believe those who claim to be Christ; 2. When Jesus Christ returns, people all over the world can see at the same time and know that He is the Christ. 3. No one can know in advance when Christ will come. 4. When Christ appears (verse 37-41), it will be a normal day, with people living and working as usual, because no one could know in advance that He will return that day and moment. So Jesus warned Christians: Be ready to see the Lord. 5. Scripture 45-51 specifically warns those responsible for feeding Christians spiritually (such as church pastors, etc.) to pastor and feed them faithfully and with integrity, rather than being a hypocrite whose fate will be terrible.
In sum, no one can predict when Jesus is coming. His advice to His believers is just this: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44)
Bible Verses: Matthew 24:3-44 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Signs of the Times and the End of the Age
3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for [a]all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, [b]pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
The Great Tribulation
15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then
there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the
beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the [c]elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.
26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
The Coming of the Son of Man
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the
sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars
will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and
then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son
of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His [d]elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
The Parable of the Fig Tree
32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that [e]it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
No One Knows the Day or Hour
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of [f]heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For
as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the
ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what [g]hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what [h]hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.