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Showing posts from May, 2016

Forgiveness instead of revenge

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 2:1-10 Tuesday May 31, 2016
Focus passage: So I encourage you to show your love for this person. 2 Corinthians 2:8
Forgiveness is a central component of our faith and our understanding of God’s working in our world – yet it may be one of the most difficult concepts to live out in our lives, because when we forgive we give up our natural tendency to seek revenge – to remain angry – to lash out – and to fuel our rage.  And we may find that we take on the same tendency for revenge when someone hurts someone we love.
In order to live fully in Christian community, we must embrace the spiritual discipline of forgiveness. 
I say that with great intention, forgiveness is a spiritual discipline, just like prayer is, it is something that we have to practice and work at.  I have found that for those who embrace the spiritual discipline of forgiveness that when something really big happens to them, they are more easily live into forgiveness and do not allow themselves to …

Responding to a wrong

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 2:1-10 Monday May 30, 2016
Focus passage: So I encourage you to show your love for this person. 2 Corinthians 2:8
Some things never change, we find ways to communicate over distances and we at times lose the message either through simply forgetting the message or by actually losing the physical printed words, be it on paper or on screen.  This seems to be the case with Paul and his correspondence with the community in Corinth.  Some scholars believe that there is a missing letter between what we commonly refer to as First and Second Corinthians. 
Evidence for that missing letter comes in the passage for today. It seems that Paul was mistreated by a member of the community and instead of returning for a visit he sent a letter expressing his concern for this person’s actions.  The community responded by calling the member to account for his actions but then continued to treat the person poorly, which is only furthering the incident and brokenness.  Paul explain…

A story of second chances

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 2:1-10 Sunday May 29, 2016
Focus passage: This is why you should try your best to forgive and to comfort this person now instead, so that this person isn’t overwhelmed by too much sorrow. 2 Corinthians 7
I can remember quiet clearly the day that I crashed my mom’s car.  I had just turned 16 and was in a part of downtown St. Louis that my dad had asked me not to go to and I got into a car accident.  There was no hiding the fact that I did exactly the opposite of what my dad had asked me to do.  My mom had to come and get me and my friend because my dad was so angry with me. 
So the next day after a long night of not sleeping my dad finally came into my room and I really thought he was going to give me a long angry lecture and instead he just asked if I wanted to go and get some ice cream with him.  I said sure and he handed me the keys to his car, the one I hadn’t crashed.  At first I hesitated and he said you know Leslie you’ll have to get behind the wheel ag…

Community

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 Saturday May 28, 2016
Focus passage: God rescued us from a terrible death, and he will rescue us .  We have set our hope on him that he will rescue us again since you are helping with your prayer for us.  Then many people can thank God on our behalf for the gift that was give to us through the prayers of many people. 2 Corinthians 1:10-11

The reality is that we will never fully know what someone else is feeling or thinking in their own suffering.  But we can honor their story by compassionately listening:  by listening without judgment, by listening without trying to fix the situation.  It is one of the hardest tasks we have as Christians; we speak about it often in our elders meetings.  When someone is suffering we are to enter into their suffering with them, not try and pull them out of it.  We are to be a compassionate presence in each other’s lives.  We are to give one another the grace to deal with hard situations in the way that they need to.
We a…

Community

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 Friday May 27, 2016
Focus passage: Our hope for you is certain, because we know that as you are partners in suffering so also you are partners in comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:7
The healing salve that God offers to us is found in community.  In Greek the word is koinonia.  In koinonia together we share in each other’s suffering and celebrate each other’s joy.
Because we often fail to turn to one another and to God, Paul reminds us that we will find comfort and consolation with God in community.
Prayer: God help me to fully know today that you are present in my life and in the lives of those I love, in the lives of those I struggle to love, and in the mended parts of my life (and community) and in the fragmented parts of my life (and community). Amen.  

Responding to suffering

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 Thursday May 26, 2016
Focus passage: That is because we receive so much comfort through Christ in the same way that we share so many of Christ’s sufferings.  So if we have trouble, it is to bring you comfort and salvation.  If we are comforted, it is to bring you comfort from the experience of endurance while you go through the same sufferings that we also suffer. 2 Corinthians 1:5-6
One of the main problems that happen in community is that, often, we suffer in silence.  We believe that if we have enough faith then we can handle any problem on our own with God’s help.  It might be when we are suffering from a physical or mental illness, it might be when we are enmeshed in a family conflict, or when we are injured physically, emotionally or spiritually, or when we have experienced job loss, or difficulty in making ends meet and paying our bills, or with broken relationships.   One thing is for sure, being a follower of Christ does not mean that your life…

Responding to suffering

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 Wednesday May 25, 2016
Focus passage: That is because we receive so much comfort through Christ in the same way that we share so many of Christ’s sufferings.  So if we have trouble, it is to bring you comfort and salvation.  If we are comforted, it is to bring you comfort from the experience of endurance while you go through the same sufferings that we also suffer. 2 Corinthians 1:5-6

Whenever we face suffering, we choose how we will respond to it.  We all have our way of dealing with suffering internally.  But here’s the amazing part: if you believe that God is still molding and crafting you, then you can see each situation of struggle as an opportunity for spiritual growth.  It becomes a time for you to open yourself to the comfort of God and then further open yourself to the suffering of others, so you can then be a presence of consolation and comfort in their lives.   When others are suffering, we are given the opportunity to be a compassionate pres…

Abundant Consolation

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 Tuesday May 24, 2016
Focus passage: Our hope for you is certain, because we know that as you are partners in suffering so also you are partners in comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:7 When we suffer, Paul assures us that Christ is with us and that gives us abundant consolation and grace but it also pulls us out of our own suffering so we are united in the suffering of Christ.  Which then has a ripple effect.  When we are aware that we are not alone in our suffering we become more aware of the suffering around us and are able to use our own journey to inform how we reach out to others who are suffering. The abundant gift of Christ’s consolation and comfort then overflows from us into the lives of others.  
Prayer: God help me to fully know today that you are present in my life and in the lives of those I love, in the lives of those I struggle to love, and in the mended parts of my life (and community) and in the fragmented parts of my life (and community). Amen.  

A theological understanding of suffering

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 Monday May 23, 2016
Focus passage:  That is because we receive so much comfort through Christ in the same way that we share so many of Christ’s sufferings.  So if we have trouble, it is to bring you comfort and salvation.  If we are comforted, it is to bring you comfort from the experience of endurance while you go through the same sufferings that we also suffer. 2 Corinthians 1:5-6
Paul places suffering in a theological context in the first 11 verses of the letter.  It is all grounded in an understanding that Christ was a suffering Messiah and because of that, Christ knows the depth of our own suffering. Like the Psalmist proclaims in Psalm 139, beginning in verse 7, “where could I go to get away from your spirit?  Where could I go to escape your presence?  If I went up to heaven you would be there.  If I went down to the grave, you would be there too!  If I could fly on the wings of the dawn, stopping only to rest only on the far side of the ocean – e…

A blessing

Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1-11 Sunday May 22, 2016
Focus passage: May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed!  He is the compassionate Father and God of all comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3
The Apostle Paul begins his letters with a blessing.  His blessing in 2nd Corinthians is unique.  It is an assurance that God is present with us especially when we are suffering. Throughout the first 11 verses of his letter, the theme of consolation and comfort arise.  It is timely and pastoral because as we know the community in Corinth is fragmented, but so is the relationship between Paul and the community and so Paul takes some time to remind the community that God can help them through the rough patch they are in.  In the letter, Paul hopes that through the power of God who raised Jesus from the grave, that God will be able to heal the community and bring them to new life.
Prayer: God help me to fully know today that you are present in my life and in the lives of those I love, in the…

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