A New Wardrobe

2 Corinthians 5: A New WardrobeIMG_0606

“For indeed in this house we groan,

longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven,

inasmuch as we, having put it on,

will not be found naked.”

2 Corinthians 5:2,3, NASB

Children whooped and hollered as they ran up the steps to the slide. “You can’t catch me!” Down the slide they would fly—the slicker the slide the better. Then boundless energy carried them to the monkey bars where they raced across hand over hand to the other side. Smiles and laughter made endless circles on the merry-go-rounds—until faces started turning green. While children played, the park benches filled with those who once were the children. Delighted smiles remembered youth. Those following their grandchildren, walked with careful steps that couldn’t keep up, and then chose to participate from the benches. Canes stood propped against the seats. Conversations turned to the aches and pains belonging to the old folks.

“For indeed in this house we groan…”

But take heart, be encouraged. This house of flesh grows weaker with age, but the Spirit of Life grows stronger.

“Therefore we do not lose heart,

but though our outer man is decaying,

yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”

2 Corinthians 4:16, NASB

As our youthful vigor faces the trials of life, our dependence on self grows weaker as our dependence on God grows stronger. We begin to realize this earthly house of flesh doesn’t last forever—we need a new eternal dwelling. That dwelling is being built in Christ’s followers—and one day it will be completed. The building begins when we are born again by the Spirit of God—when we become a new person.

“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(NASB)

2 Corinthians 5 bulges with the new eternal things we are clothed in now—things that grow stronger the older we get. Our wardrobe is completed when we see Jesus.

Our new wardrobe consists of:

  •   immortality—what is mortal will be swallowed up by life (5:4)
  • God’s Spirit—God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.(5:5)
  • a new way to walk—we walk by faith, not by sight—we are of good courage (5:7,8)
  • a new home—absent from the body … at home with the Lord (5:8) 
  • a new ambition—our ambition … to be pleasing to Him. (5:9)
  • a new identity—Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh (5:16)
  • a new work—God, … gave us the ministry of reconciliation (5:18,19)
  • a new title—we are ambassadors for Christ (5:20)
  • a new nature—the old is gone, the new has come—

He made Him who knew no sin

to be sin on our behalf,

so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

(5:17, 21; NASB)

Take heart. As the body of flesh begins to sag with age, the spirit gains in strength. The secret of living out this strength is found in our focus—

“For we know that if the earthly tent,

which is our house, is torn down,

we have a building from God,

a house not made with hands,

eternal in the heavens ….

Set your mind on the things above,

not on the things that are on earth.”

(2 Corinthians 5:1; Colossians 3:2; NASB)

For Thought: Check out all of chapter 5. See what I might have missed. Or think of other scriptures telling us about more new things we have been given by God through Christ, and share those blessings in the  comments.

Our Prayer: Heavenly Father, you give our lives an eternal purpose that does not die with the death of the flesh but lives on. May we walk as one with you in our new life with courage and focus. May we live to please you—you are not hard to please. May we give ourselves to the ministry you have given us and do so in the righteousness of Christ. Thank you for making your home in our heart and making your Holy Spirit our home, until our faith becomes sight. Blessing, honor, and glory belong to you.

Staying Strong

2 Corinthians 4: Staying Strong

man in black reebok shoes about to carry barbell
Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

Four men rushed to aid the balding gray haired pastor trying to push his car door open, grab his bible, and his cane. I watched the scene wondering what possessed the elderly minister to drive forty miles to the church gathering—and thanked God he made it safely. He no longer had the strength of his youth that once challenged a group of teen boys to a race—he won. I thought the short little man was old then. In those intertwining years between bodily strength and weakness, his spirit grew stronger.

During the meeting, holding to the pew in front of him, he stood and encouraged the younger ministers, “There is no place for retirement in serving the Lord—until you’re in your coffin.” He finished his course strong.

“Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy,

we do not lose heart.”

2 Corinthians 4:1, NASB

From his first encounter with Christ, the apostle Paul knew the Lord’s direction for his life. He did not shrink from the work when it brought tears and trials. He continued to testify to Jews and Gentiles the need for repentance and faith in Christ. When his ministry to the Lord came to its last stages, he knew more suffering waited for him wherever he went. Yet, he was able to say—

“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself,

in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus,

to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God …

I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.”

Acts 20:24,27; NASB

The Lord blessed another brother in Christ with a booming voice. With it, he shouted “hallelujahs” and testified of God’s saving grace—until the day he suffered a severe stroke. It took his voice. But lack of speech didn’t take his testimony. Instead of shouts and words, he would raise his hands and eyes to the Lord, as the tears flowed down his cheeks, and a dimpled smile glowed with joy. He lost his voice, but he didn’t lose his heart for serving his Savior.

We may not be called to pastor a church, or go to a foreign field to plant a church leaving family and friends behind. We may not be teachers of the word or an evangelist like Billy Graham. But the Lord has put us in his body of believers as ministers of the gospel in the way He has created us to be.

“For we are his workmanship,

created in Christ Jesus for good works,

which God prepared before hand,

that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:10, NASB

Not only has God prepared the works of service for us, He has given us all we need to succeed in the work.

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets,

and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

for the equipping of the saints for the work of service,

to the building up of the body of Christ;”

Ephesians 4:11,12, NASB

Each of God’s children have a work of service—a way of encouraging the body of Christ to grow in the knowledge, strength, and love of the Lord.

A dear sister in Christ, uses a card ministry to encourage the sick and let others know they are missed. Sometimes she sends funny—no, hilarious cards—other times more serious, but always it’s the right one for the moment. I’m thankful for her ministry for it fills up one I’m not good at. That’s how the body of Christ works together to encourage and strengthen the whole.

For Thought: Look around. Who can you encourage today? How will you do it? The answer to these questions will vary according to the ministry God has given you.

Our Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you, for giving us purpose in life, strengthening us by your grace for the work of ministry you have given us. May we count our lives as nothing and offer ourselves to you each day in ministering to others the mercy, grace, and love you have ministered to us. May we, your body, not lose heart in the work of service but stay strong until our course is run.

The Glory of the Lord

2 Corinthians 3: The Glory of the Lord

photo of pine trees covered by fog
Photo by Trace Hudson on Pexels.com

The early morning fog veiled the view from her window. The sun hid behind the gray curtain. It mirrored the heartache of the young woman’s soul. Why did it have to be this way? A tear slid down her cheek. She shut her eyes. Where are you, God? All who have suffered life’s hard challenges can identify with the young woman. What keeps us going forward? This week’s scripture holds our hope, our strength to continue.

This Week’s Scripture:

“But we all,

with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror

the glory of the Lord,

are being transformed into the same image

from glory to glory,

just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB

A hint of light filtered through the young woman’s closed eyes. She glanced towards the morning sky. The sun had risen above the treetops lifting the fog and chasing away the mist. Surrounded by wispy gray clouds a blue lake illuminated the sun’s brightness, it’s glory ignited hope in her heart.

For Thought: Where do you look for hope when life’s hard challenges overwhelm you?

Our Prayer:  Heavenly Father, we have seen your glory, your beauty, your goodness in the face of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When pushed to the limit, help us remember to look to you who are limitless in glory, power, and strength and know you are working your glory in us and through us.

A Sweet Fragrance

2 Corinthians 2:14—A Sweet FragranceIMG_3495[1]

As soon as I opened the door, I knew what my husband had been doing while I was running errands. I took a deep breath and could taste the aroma filling our house. His sweet potato pineapple bread cooled on our kitchen counter. The bread’s distinct fragrance had imprinted itself in my mind and my taste buds. It left its knowledge in every room.

This Week’s Scripture:

“But thanks be to God,

who always leads us in His triumph in Christ,

and manifests through us

the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him

in every place.”

2 Corinthians 2:14(NASB)

Wherever we go the sweet aroma of our being with Christ follows us. As we give ourselves to Him, our words leave others with a fragrance they can taste. Our lives carry His imprint leaving the knowledge of Him in everyplace.

For Thought: What is Christ’s imprint on His followers’ lives? What is the sweet fragrance?

Our Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us victory over this world through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, your Son. May we bear a true image of His love and grace wherever we go that others may come to know Him. Thank you, Jesus.

“Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960,1962, 1963, 1968, 1971,1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”

Leavened? Unleavened?

1 Corinthians 5 Leavened or Unleavened:

bread-1696166__340“Your boasting is not good.

Do you not know

that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” (5:6)

The aroma fills the house with its promise of something good. The stomach growls. The smell tempts the tongue with almost a taste. Homemade bread, risen to perfection and baked to a golden brown, lathered with butter, not the fake stuff, invites the hungry to feast and fills the mind with a memory revisited anytime the fragrance fills the air. Leaven, or yeast in our current English language, makes the bread rise, filling it with volume and lightness that melts in our mouths. This homemade bread is a temptress.

The yeast in bread continues to grow as long as allowed. It steals what it needs from the dough to cause the rising action. Eventually, it grows throughout the dough adding some flavor but mostly air and its own fermentation. Such is sin.

In scripture, leaven is likened to the sin growing in the natural spirit we are born with.* The more we feed it the more it grows until it takes over our thoughts, actions, words, our hearts, and minds. It shouldn’t be ignored but in the spiritual sense, needs purged. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church concerning their ignoring the sin in their body of believers. Not only, was the sin/leaven growing in the one sinning but it was beginning to rise in the body as a whole.

“Clean out the old leaven,

that you may be a new lump,

just as you are in fact unleavened.

For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.

Let us therefore celebrate the feast,

not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness,

but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”


The purging needed to begin with the whole before it could be addressed in the one. It would need to be handled with the hope and purpose of restoring the whole to an unhindered fellowship with God and each other. Sin is a contagious disease which we do not avoid as we should. It’s not like other diseases that instantly bring bad symptoms. It appeals to us as the aroma of fresh baked bread. It pleases our human senses. But it does its work internally in our hearts, minds, and spirits. Piece by piece growing its destruction and weakness in us as it slowly fills us with its curse-so slowly, we don’t recognize it until its left its mark on our lives. Its cure is found in the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth-a heart sincere in repentance and a mind filled with truth, a heart that receives forgiveness-

“in order

that no advantage be taken of us by Satan;

for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”

2 Corinthians 2:11

For Thought: How long has it been since you asked the Lord to reveal any ‘leaven’ hidden in your heart? Mind? Or spirit?

Today’s Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; What do these verses say about restoring fellowship with an erring brother/sister in Christ? What should be our attitude?

Our Prayer: Father, you have given us Jesus Christ. By his death and resurrection you have purged the old leaven of malice and wickedness from us. May we join together, remembering we are one in Christ Jesus, and celebrate for He has filled us with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. May we celebrate his life in us and give you praise.

*Only on a few occasions is it used in a positive sense.(Leviticus 23:17; Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:21) And I hope you will join me Monday for a game of “Knowing”. Have a blessed weekend.

(1 Corinthians 5:6; all scripture quotations from this series in Corinthians are taken from the NASB unless otherwise state.)

Coming Together With One Message

Chapter 2 of 1 Corinthians reveals the one message that binds followers of Christ together. IMG_0621

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.

For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.

And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, NASB

The young inexperienced, untrained, preacher wanted to run and hide. His calling was from God. He hadn’t sought this task. To speak in front of others gave him lock jaw. What would he say to the familiar faces staring back at him expecting some profound word from the Lord? How or where would he begin? He ran to the senior pastor before services began.

“I don’t know what to say. God’s not given me a message.”

The wizened older man laid his hand on the young preacher’s bible. “You have a whole Bible.” The older minister patted the bible. “Preach it.”

There was no place to run.

The young preacher stood in good company. The second chapter of Corinthians opens telling us Paul experienced trembling fear when he went to the Corinthian church. He didn’t consider himself an eloquent speaker. He feared, though he knew the power of God went before him. The bottom line – he still went and God used him in his weakness so the Corinthians’ “faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

Not all of us are called to be preachers, evangelists, or pastors. But all of us are called to be witnesses of the gospel of Christ, beginning with what we know.

“For I determined to know nothing among you

except Jesus Christ,

and Him crucified.” 2:2

Later in the fifteenth chapter Paul gives us a crash course on the gospel of Christ.

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you,

  • which also you received,
  • in which also you stand,
  • by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received,

  • that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
  • and that He was buried,
  • and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (1-4)

Some find sharing Christ with others the same terrifying experience the young preacher felt. Some will wait until the opportunity arises and walk timidly. Others’ first words begin with, “Do you know Jesus loves you?” Sharing the gospel isn’t about our different personalities. It is about the wisdom and power of God in us to enable us to complete the task He has called us to. In the book of Acts, Luke shares Jesus’ words to his followers –

“but you shall receive power

when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,

and you shall be My witnesses …” 1:8

The young preacher did what the older minister advised. If I remember correctly, he began at the beginning – Genesis 1:1, proceeded to John 1:1, and ended with a verse in Revelation. I’m guessing it was 22:20 in hope it would be fulfilled before he had to stand before the congregation. It says –

“He who testifies to these things says,

‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

It took the young man about seven minutes to complete. Over the forty-five years he has been preaching, you would never guess he stood trembling in fear that day. He has learned God is faithful, and it’s only by His power and wisdom the word accomplishes what He sends it to do. His messages have more content, but the theme remains the same. He, like Paul, determined a long time ago,

“to know nothing among you

except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

For Thought: Someone told you about Jesus. Who will you tell?

Today’s Reading: 1Corinthians 2:9-16, with attention given to 9,10,16. The gospel of Christ laid veiled in the Old Testament until revealed by his first coming. What do 1 Corinthians 2:1-4 and 15:1-4 reveal about the gospel? How might this knowledge encourage you as you witness to others?

A Prayer for You: Father, You have revealed your plan for all in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Give us understanding, wisdom, and knowledge to share it in your power and wisdom, that others will see truth and be saved. As come together with one message, may we go out in your power to share it in word and deed.

In Christ

DSCF0006“Therefore if any man be in Christ,

he is a new creature:

old things are passed away;

behold, all things are become new.”

2 Corinthians 5:17

Have you ever wished you could start over? Not just turn over a new leaf that would eventually fall to the ground and be crushed under the weight of trying again; Or making that New Year resolution only to fail in performing it for more than two weeks. But really begin new like a new born baby with its life stretched out before it with all kinds of possibilities. It doesn’t know what failure or bad choices look like.  You can have a new beginning. Christ made it possible.

Our physical birth bears the image of Adam the first human.

“And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image …

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Genesis 5:3; Romans 5:12

No matter how hard we try, how may leaves we turn over, or resolutions we make we cannot bridge the gap Adam made between us and God. The sin image we bear in our flesh separates us from a holy God. Only one who is holy could bridge that gap. Only God is holy and he came in Christ Jesus his Son to do that very thing – to make us new. Not just a new image, but a new life with a new heart, a new spirit a new perspective and a new hope.

The New Image:

In Christ:

  • “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren …
  • And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly…
  • That which is born of the flesh is flesh;
  • and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
  • Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again…
  • not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:49; John 3:6,7; 1:13

In Adam we bear sin’s guilt and punishment. We are powerless to overcome it in our own strength. No matter how good we think we are, we are not holy. We are not righteous. And that is the only way to come to God. He is that way. He has provided all we need in Christ.

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things

that pertain unto life and godliness,

through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:

that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,

having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

2 Peter 1:3,4

In Christ we have all we need for life and godliness for He has made us to share in his divine nature. In Him we have escaped the corrupt state we inherited from Adam.

  • “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit …
  • In whom we have redemption through his blood,
  • the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace …
  • of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption;” Romans 8:1; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:30

Jesus bridged the gap. He took on our flesh with all its weakness and guilt. It has been crucified in him. He has given us a new life, not a new leaf, not a second chance to try to make it right. He has made us right with the Father. He has made us completely new. It took God only a day to create the first Adam. He painstakingly works his righteousness in us throughout a lifetime preparing us for eternity with him. Then the image of Christ in us will be completed.

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God

and it doth not yet appear what we shall be:

but we know that, when he shall appear,

we shall be like him;

for we shall see him as he is.”

1 John 3:2

Then all things will be made new and the old will be gone forever. More about that next time.

What does being “in Christ” mean to you?