2 Corinthians 5:17

Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Paul here is helping us understand that when we become Christians, where we truly have given our lives to Him and it is not just words, then we are not the same person we were before.  If we are truly in Christ, if we have died with Him and was risen with Him in newness of life, we are no longer the same person.  Here is what Paul wrote to the church in Rome.  “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”  Romans 6:3-7 We who are saved have been baptized into His death, we died to sin and have been raised with Him as well.  We are truly not who we were.

So, we are a new creation in Christ.  And this means that we are not to look at ourselves as we were, but as we are.  We need to put that old life behind us.  Our sins having been forgiven; we have the Holy Spirit in us.  We are no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit.  Here is what Paul said.  “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Romans 8:9 True believers have the Spirit of Christ; therefore, our old life is gone.  I am sure we want people to see us this way.

Therefore, we must see others in the same manner.  We all know people who have been wild and done things that were not good.  We also know people who have treated us wrong in our past.  They may have mocked our belief in Christ as the son of God.  However, it is important that we look at them as they are now and not how they were.  Remember the golden rule.  “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. “Matthew 7:12. One of the ways we can exhibit this is found in the two verses just after the focus verse.  “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.  This is a work of God.  When we commit our lives to Christ and have become a new creation, He declares us righteous.  Our dealings with Christians should be as dealing with a righteous person.  There is training that needs to take place, however, all our dealing should be as what they are now, new creations.

All the things we know about someone’s past regarding sin must not be counted against them.  We can admonish them, in love, to help them to become more like Christ.  If they struggle with a sin, stand beside them and help them overcome.  “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” Galatians 6:1.

What a beautiful show of love when we follow this as intended.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

2 Corinthians 3:4

Verse of the Day Devotion 2 Corinthians 3:4   

“And such confidence we have through Christ toward God.” – 2 Corinthians 3:4 

Paul here is asking the Church in Corinth a question regarding his and his helpers perception of themselves. “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you?” 2 Corinthians 2:3:1.  These are ironical questions, for he follows with “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known, and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3. He was telling them he needed no letters from them, for his apostolic ministry is not legitimized by their judgement, but in them and their faith. And this has it’s boast In God’s work in and through Christ.  This has nothing to do with what Paul has done, but what God through Christ has done through him.  And these were not written on tablets of stone as the Law was, but was written on their hearts by the Spirit of God.

And per our focus verse, he is incredibly confident in the work that has been accomplished not because of what he has done, but what has been  done through him for it was Christ whom he served and under whose influence he accomplished everything he did; and it was therefore through Christ that he had such confidence in what he could do. He had this confidence, he says, towards God and not before God; not as a matter which was right in God’s sight, but by the direction of, or in respect to God the Author of the work and the One to whom all the glory were due. For he says, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:5-6. 

Paul said a very similar thing in his first letter to the Church in Corinth when he wrote. “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.” 1 Corinthians 15:9-11.  Paul in these verses was showing humility regarding the work accomplished through him by God.  He did not see himself as worthy to be used by God, but because of the incredible grace God bestowed on him, he labored hard and gave all he had. But again, not by his work, but God’s work done through him.

We must always remember that it is not us who does the work, but it is God. “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13. According to Bill Mounce, a Greek scholar, the idea of ‘working out your salvation’ is to put it into operation, to be active in the work of God. But again, Paul says “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13.  He is the one who does the work through us.  And it is by His work being fulfilled  through us that we have confidence in what we are doing.  We should not be pleased with the work we do, but with the work He does through us. Therefore, let us give thanks to God that we can be confident in His grace such that He chose to use us to fulfil His work on this earth.   

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

2 Corinthians 6:14

Verse of the Day Devotion:  2 Corinthians 6:14

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14

Paul here is telling the Church in Corinth they need to ensure they do not become bound to unbelievers.  This term, “bound together” is a military term which has the idea of keeping in your own ranks.  In other words, do not leave the Christian community to join in that of the heathens.  The verb ‘together’ signifies to leave one’s own rank, place, or order, and go into another; and here it must signify not only that they should not associate with the Gentiles in their idolatrous feasts, but that they should not apostatize from Christianity. 

This thought is found in the Old Testament.  In Leviticus we read, “You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.” Leviticus 19:19.  And in Deuteronomy we read,  “You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, or all the produce of the seed which you have sown and the increase of the vineyard will become defiled. You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together.” Deuteronomy 22:9-11.  The idea here is that there should be no mixing of different animals, seeds or fabrics, that it is important that purity is maintained.  We see in our focus verse that the purity suggested is true Christians with non-Christians involving activities and lifestyles of the non-believer.  Now, it is important that we understand what is meant by unbeliever.  It is not someone who is a Christian that struggles with belief in certain areas.  In this event, we need to teach him and help him understand that they may grow as a Christian.  In our focus verse, unbelievers are non-Christians and this makes things clearer. 

Now, Paul is not saying we are to ban social interactions with unbelievers.  For how can we be a light in the darkness if we choose not to let unbelievers see our light.  What he is saying is that we must not  participate with them in activities that are sinful.  We should not worship false gods if they do or speak evil of Christ if they do.  However, we can interact with them in such a way that the light of Christ shines forth from us and the unbeliever sees it.  In this, we are showing them what our life is all about and it may open a door to present the gospel message to them.

In the last part of our focus verse he asks two important questions. “for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?”  2 Corinthians 6:14b.  The answer to both of these rhetorical questions is ‘none’.  In the next verse he asks, “Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” 2 Corinthians 6:15.  Again, the answer to both are none.  But again, this does not negate any opportunity to share the gospel.  They are referring to the different beliefs and practices which do not mix or there is no unity between.  But that does not say that we should never associate with them for they need to hear the truth.

Paul in his letter to the church at Rome says, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” Romans 10:12-15.  It is important that we preach the gospel to those who do not know Him, for how can they know if no one tells them.  Therefore, Paul is not saying we should ostracize them, but we are not to engage in their sinful practices.  We can fellowship with them without sharing in their sinful activities.  They need to hear the truth and we are the ones called to tell them. “And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”  Mark 16:15

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

2 Corinthians 5:20

Verse of the Day Devotion:  2 Corinthians 5:20 

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20

Why are we still here now that we are saved?  The answer to this question is to do the work He has called us to.  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10.  We are not just to get saved, and then patiently wait for His return and do nothing for Him here.  On the contrary, Paul says to the church in Ephesus that we are God’s workmanship, not our own or based on what we have done.  He has saved us so that we can show forth the virtues of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.  We are to be a light to the world.  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16.

If we are the light of the world, then we are to shine this light before men so they can see who we really are and the good work and deeds we do.  It is important that we live the life of a Christian if we declare before people we are a Christian.  If we declare we are a Christian but do not act like it by living the life of one who has given themselves to Christ before everyone, then it will be as one who hides their light under a basket.  In other words, if someone sees you and you are not living as a Christian, they will not believe your declaration, or will have a false view of what this Christian life is all about.

Now, back to our focus verse.  “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20.  As Christians, our purpose is to shine our light into the darkness, presenting the gospel to all.  Notice the wording here, ‘as though God were making an appeal through us ‘.  Essentially, an ambassador is a well-respected official whose role is to be a representative of one nation and their leadership  to another nation and their people.  Sent to a foreign land, the ambassador’s role is to reflect the official position of the sovereign body that gave him authority.  Paul, speaking of his own ambassadorial role wrote, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.” 1 Corinthians 1:17.  Paul is saying that Christ sent him to deliver a message to the lost, that being the gospel, not necessarily to baptize people.  Preaching the gospel was his primary purpose.  He did baptize a few, but again, his focus was to preach the gospel.  

Now, just as Paul was sent by Christ to preach the gospel, he is not the only one.  We also are called as ambassadors of Christ.  “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,2 Corinthians 5:20a.  Our job is to spread the message of the gospel to as many as we can.  We are to tell the lost what God did through Christ, that being the salvation of us all, but we are also to live it out in our own lives before others, at all times, so they can see the reality of what we preach.  By so seeing this, they will be more inclined to listen to what we say which could lead to their acceptance of Christ.  We must be prepared for any opportunity to preach the gospel, and ready to answer questions we may be asked by those who do not know Christ, regarding our eternal hope.  “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:14-16.  This is our calling in Christ, not just to become a Christian, or just profess our faith, but also to help all we can to become a follower of Christ as well.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

2 Corinthians 12:10

Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Corinthians 12:10  

“Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

Paul in this verse is speaking regarding weakness which should not be an excuse for not doing the Lord’s work.  He starts off by speaking of a vision the Lord gave him.  “Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— as caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses.”  2 Corinthians 12:1-5.  Paul here is referring to himself without actually saying it was him.  He is not willing to boast regarding this vision, however, He will boast in regard to his weaknesses. 

Paul was not one to boast on himself, and it would have been easy for him to do it based upon the vision God gave him regarding paradise, a place not now seen by man for it is not on this earth.  Therefore, because of the incredible vision God allowed him to see,  He also gave Paul a thorn in the flesh to afflict and torment him.  The reason was, as stated in the last words in verse seven, “to keep me from exalting myself!” 2 Corinthians 12:7b. Because of the words here ‘thorn in the flesh’  defining this affliction, it denotes something that is very painful physically.

Now Paul prayed that God would remove this pain and the ultimate source, Satan.  “Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8.  However, Christ essentially said no.  “And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9a.  What Christ here was saying was that He would not allow him to collapse under the weight of these afflictions, nor will the enemy prevail against him.  However, the next line is even more powerful, ‘for power is perfected in weaknesses.’  It refers to the power of Christ, and this idea runs contrary to how the world sees things.  They see it as the stronger I am, the more I can accomplish.  However, what Paul says is that the weaker I am, the more Christ’s power can accomplish and be seen through me.  This takes away any reason to boast in ourselves, but in God who is working through us.

So, because of this Paul ends this section with our focus verse.  “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10.  He is quite content in his weaknesses.  He is content in all the insults, as well as with any distresses, persecutions, and difficulties that he has, for he does not want to boast in himself regarding what is accomplished, for he recognizes that it is Christ working through him to fulfill His will.  He understands completely that it is God doing the work.  “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13.

God has a calling for each one of us, therefore we must ask God to reveal to us what that is and submit to that calling.  And whatever it is, we must rely on God to work through us to fulfill that calling and not try, through our own power and strength, to make it happen.  And if we find anything that weakens us to where we do not believe we can fulfill it, we should just trust in God and rely on His strength, just as Paul did. And when we are doing His will, we can then thank God for using us as He did, to will and to do His good pleasure.   

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

2 Corinthians 10:17

Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Corinthians 10:17 

“But HE WHO BOASTS IS TO BOAST IN THE LORD.” – 2 Corinthians 10:17 

One of the things we need to be careful of is boasting in ourselves and what we do.  This seems to be a recurring theme in Paul’s writings, especially in his letters to the Church of Corinth.  We know in our society that it can be common place to build up ourselves to help set us apart from others who do the same thing, such as in going for a promotion, seeking a new place of employment, or in anything where we strive to show ourselves on a higher ledge than anyone else.  This is the way the world thinks, but we as Christians should think differently.  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2  And he then goes on with “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” Romans 2:3.

As our focus verse states, if we do boast, we must boast in the Lord and not ourselves.  We must always remember that God is the one who uses us to do His work.  “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.  Our role is to submit to Him, allowing Him to lead in the work He has for us.  He is not saying He forces us, but that He leads us.  He prepares us for every task set aside for us.  What we need to do is submit.

Now this idea is very deep and complex, there are many directions that can be taken here which would require a separate paper to address thoroughly.  What I am focusing on is that any boasting that would come from our work should be directed at God and not ourselves.  Jeremiah declares “Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24.  He speaks of several areas where people then boasted of themselves, and they do today.  The wise and educated are not to boast of their wisdom and knowledge.  Those who are strong and brave are not to boast of their might, and the rich are not to boast in their wealth.  What we are to boast in has nothing to do with us, but that He understands and knows us, and that He loves us and exercises justice and righteousness, and through His Son, incredible mercy.  This should be the focus of our boasting: Him and not us. 

In closing, everything we have to boast about is because He made us the way we are, provided us with the experiences throughout our lives to prepare us for the work He has commissioned for us.  We are who we are because of Him.  “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10  His grace made us who we are.  And in this, we should always rejoice.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.