Today’s reading: Deut 1:1–46, 2 Cor 1:1–11, Ps 31:1–9
Today’s theme: Faith over pragmatism
Today we learn that we must wholly follow the Father of mercies even in the middle of suffering and trials. We should believe and trust in the Lord with all our hearts.
Today is a new month and we have started two new books. I often find book intros in our bibles remarkably useful in helping me grasp the overall theme and message of the book. Here are the intros from the ESV for Deuteronomy and 2nd Corinthians.
Deuteronomy introduction (ESV)
Deuteronomy, which means “second law,” is a retelling by Moses of the teachings and events of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. It includes an extended review of the Ten Commandments (4:44–5:33) and Moses’ farewell address to a new generation of Israelites as they stand ready to take possession of the Promised Land. Moses reminds them of God’s faithfulness and love, but also of God’s wrath on the previous generation of Israelites because of their rebellion. Repeatedly he charges Israel to keep the Law. Deuteronomy is a solemn call to love and obey the one true God. There are blessings for faithfulness and curses for unfaithfulness. The book closes with the selection of Joshua as Israel’s new leader and the death of Moses.
2nd Corinthians introduction (ESV)
Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians discusses some of the things previously addressed but also deals with new issues. While 1 Corinthians called for believers to be unified with each other, in this letter Paul urges the church to be unified with him in his ministry. Paul’s opponents were undermining his work, claiming that his suffering (11:24–29) proved he was not a true apostle. Paul responds that his suffering highlights his dependence on Christ, as it points to Christ’s strength rather than his own. Second Corinthians includes stirring perspectives on gospel ministry (chs. 2–5), encouragements to holy living (chs. 6–7), and instructions about giving (chs. 8–9). Paul wrote this letter from Macedonia a year after writing 1 Corinthians, about A.D. 56.
Faith over pragmatism
Then all of you came near me and said, ‘Let us send men before us, that they may explore the land for us and bring us word again of the way by which we must go up and the cities into which we shall come.’ Deuteronomy 1:22 (ESV)
As we read through Deuteronomy we will see Moses telling the new generation of Israel the story of the covenant and the relationship between God and his people since leaving Egypt. In this account Moses mentions that the idea to send spies into the land did not come from God or himself but from the people.
In light of Mose’s earlier commands and encouragements from the Lord, this apparent pragmatism of the people exposes a subtle mentality of doubt and a lack of faith. We must not seek to figure out everything when God has made a promise. We just need to respond in faith and trust God because we walk by faith not by sight 2 Corinthians 5:7.
Believe the LORD
Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the LORD your God, Deuteronomy 1:32 (ESV)
The problem here was faith in God. If we do not have faith in God we will not see God for who he is or remember / recognise what he has already done for us and therefore will not take him at his word regardless of how many times we hear his word. We must mix what we hear with faith, we must believe. See Hebrews 4:2
Wholly follow the LORD
except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the LORD!’ Deuteronomy 1:36 (ESV)
We should learn from Caleb and follow after God with our whole heart. We should not hold back in reservation or doubt but wholly cast ourselves upon God and his promises in faith. We should approach God with singleness of mind and heart. See James 1:7-8.
2 Corinthians 1:1–11
The Father of mercies
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 2 Corinthians 1:3 (ESV)
Paul gives us some great insight through his own experience and knowledge of the truth of God’s character, attributes as the Father of all mercies and the God of all comfort. Notice that He is not called the God of all wrath for example or the father of judgement.
In other letters Paul shines light on other attributes of God including the following (with gratitude to D, E Garland for this list) the God of love and peace (2 Cor 13:11), the God of endurance and comfort (Rom 15:5), the God of hope (Rom 15:13), the God of peace (Rom 16:20; 1 Thess 5:23; 2 Thess 3:16), the God who gives endurance and encouragement (Rom 15:5).
Sharing in suffering
Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:7 (ESV)
Despite the western reluctance to accept it, suffering is a guaranteed part of life and the Christian life in particular.
It is when we stand up for God and His kingdom. When we do the work of the kingdom in the face of mockery, resistance and persecution that we truly experience the comfort and grace that can only come from God in our suffering. We are called to share in the sufferings of Christ and in His comfort. See Romans 8:17 and 2 Timothy 2:12.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 2 Corinthians 1:8 (ESV)
We must stay aware of what is happening in the church around the world. Especially where the church is undergoing severe persecution, this is why we should be so grateful for ministries like Open Doors. Be informed.
Our prayers do something
You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:11 (ESV)
We must pray for our leaders, for the spread of the gospel and God’s kingdom and for Christians undergoing persecution for taking a stand. Our prayers are not just an exercise in faith or a tradition, they actually do something when we pray in faith to God. He hears our prayers and answers (in this case Paul said that many blessings would be granted through the prayers). See also Romans 15:30 and Philippians 1:19.
Word from the cross
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. Psalm 31:5 (ESV)
Jesus said this from the cross as recorded in Luke 23:46.
Do not rejoice in sin
I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD. Psalm 31:6 (ESV)
We should hate sin, sinning personally and even sinners or those who commit sin in the sense that we should not rejoice in their sin but call them to repent Romans 1:32.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
Desiring God on 2 Corinthians 1