Today we start a new book, II Corinthians, which comes after I Corinthians if you were having trouble finding it. In II Corinthians we will find an emotional author in the Apostle Paul.

In Philippians he is joyful, and Galatians he is angry, Philemon he is compassionate. In this letter Paul is in deep sorrow from a great suffering he has endured. And it is from this great suffering that he speaks of comfort to others who suffer.

Check out how many times he uses the word comfort in verses 3-7. Do you see a theme?

Paul also makes a connection between the suffering and the resurrection of Christ with our own story (vs. 5-7) Christ’s body was broken and his blood poured out to bring new life to humanity. And now, as the church, we are the body of Christ on earth. This is central to Paul’s theology. II Corinthians returns to this pattern again and again. In chapter 4 he expounds on this idea of death and new life, suffering and comfort, and it is truly good news…


do everything

At the end of his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul says this: Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.

And do everything with love. I'm not great at that. In fact, I have a long way to go. Just thinking back over the past few days, I find that there are plenty of things I've done without love. What would it look like if you and I did everything with love? What would it look like to your spouse if you did everything with love? What would it look like to your children if you did everything with love? What would it look like to your parents if you did everything with love? What would it look like to your neighbor if you did everything with love? What would it look like to your enemy (you know, that person you can't stand to be around...) if you did everything with love?

And do everything with love.



The word 'so' is such a simple word. But it is a transition word that is important to pay attention to when reading Paul's letters. Paul usually begins by building a foundation of theology. He wants us to know the truth about God and what God has done through Jesus. Then, he wants us to know how it should be impacting our lives. This little word, 'so,' provides the transition from one to the other.

Chapter 15 begins with a simple statement:
I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.

This is the foundation of theology - the core belief we are to build everything around. Is this at the center of your life, your faith, your belief, your worldview? (on Sunday we sang a song titled 'Center' that said "Oh Christ be the center of our lives, be the place we fix our eyes..." I loved it. It was written by Charlie Hall if you want to find it on itunes.)

Then, at the very end of this long chapter, Paul uses the little transition word 'so.' Here comes how we are to live in light of the theology, the foundation he has been building. Don't miss this:
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Be strong and immovable. Dig your feet in. Let your roots grow down into Christ. Don't allow others to knock you off of center. And then get enthusiastic in your work for King Jesus...because it is not useless. I often lose enthusiasm. I get complacent. What you and I are doing for the King is eternally important. I truly believe that what we do is the most important thing going on in the universe today. I know there are a lot of good things going on, but what we should be doing could influence people to make decisions that change the course of their forever. So...be immovable and enthusiastic.


Say what?

Darin and I have some wonderful friends in Kentucky and we have attended their church during weekend visits on several occasions.  We have experienced prophecy beyond preaching and teaching and have been called out as direct receivers of a specific message.  I have to admit, it was a little out of our comfort zone!  However, on every occasion I wanted to pull out my Bible and read today's chapter out loud--throughout the service there are always at least 10 people speaking in tongue and at several points in the service, up to 30 or 40 voices can be heard. About this time Darin's ADD kicks in!

All joking aside, it was always so distracting.  And, we would get slightly amused at how everyone was seemingly unaware of each other and everyone talking, but no one interpreting. Every once in a while, there would be a lull, and 2 people would stand together, one speaking and one interpreting.  Admittedly, this was still strange to us as neither Darin nor I grew up in a church where tongues and interpretation were part of the service.  However, my Spirit always had a very different response when there was interpretation as opposed to the chaos that seemed to ensue most of the time.  

What I love about Paul's writings today is that they talk of how the speaking of tongue is an intimate prayer language with God.  Isn't that just beautiful?  I have never received the gift of tongues, but I do have friends who have shared with me experiences when they were so deeply entrenched in prayer that they have begun communicating in Spirit through a language they did not recognize.  Now that's cool!  

I have always believed, based on this passage, that public speaking of tongues should ALWAYS be paired with interpretation.  I also believe that the gift of tongues is a gift from God and has great purpose within prayer.  But, I also pulled something new out of this passage today:  while he is clearly giving some direction, instruction, and boundaries to speaking in tongue, the flip side of that is presenting God's truth in every service.  Again, I have attended services at other churches before and walked away wondering what an unbeliever could possibly have gained from that message.  I am thankful for MMCC and the Truth that is always spoken in a manner that reaches the unbelievers where they are but encourages and pushes the believer as well.  It was just a good reminder to me that all we do on Sunday morning to make service enticing to the children is important, but none more than presenting Biblical Truth.  That should be and is our number goal.