by Christina Farris
1 Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
6 But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.
7 Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?
8 I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.
9 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
11 Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.
12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.
13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
16 I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.
17 That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
18 Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.
19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.
20 For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.
21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.
22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.
23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:
33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands. Someone struggles are often the one thing that is seen that cause people to sit back an admire them when they are overcomers. Who has not read someone victory and thought I would like to be that type of victor, maybe not in the same circumstances, but when going through a trial. I can remember reading people victory stories only to not realize the road that it took to have the victory story, though I read them. If you read the story of Paul's struggles in this chapter alone you know is ability to still stand and say he is a believer and living for Jesus is more then the battle scars of faith. Something had changed Paul before the persecution and the struggles. Something had changed Paul into a minister of Jesus Christ. I tell you what it was a bright light that blinded Paul on the road to Damacus. It was not the stoning of Stephen which he witness and seen with his own eyes the persecution of a believer in Christ. It was more then that. It was the journey to Damacus when he could not see because of a blinding light and Jesus himself spoke to him, and asked why do you persecute me. If you had God's Son ask you that himself after he was risen from the dead but no longer on earth would it change your mind about your faith, probably so. His experience greater then the Apostles that walked daily with Jesus, no, but just as life altering. That nothing he ever did before the persecution was worthy to speak for he was persecuter of the believers of Christ and was even once let down by basket to avoid persecution himself.
The mistake most ministers make in telling their story is the one Paul even admits to making. His story was larger then life, his suffering greater then Christ because of his beatings, and his stonings, yet he was not Christ. If we look to Christ suffering alone many people would be thought of as a God because of their suffering. In a life time we suffer many things, look at your own life what have you been through. Some can not boast of much pain or sorrow because perhaps there age or just lucky. Yet even so disaster will befall you at some point of your life. None of the trials you go through as a believer will necessarily make you stronger, but will make you grasp the reality of Christ suffering. The reality of why he suffered at the hands of people that understood not about Jesus. Why he faced persecution because faced the same suffering of persecution does not make Paul or anyone a god. Jesus was already the Lamb of God, was already called his only begotten Son of God before he died on the cross for our sins. Jesus position is clear before the cross, the cross necessary to teach us of our ignorance and what man does at the price of their ignorance that they caused Jesus to be crucified and not understanding mankinds role in this. What if they had understood and allowed Jesus to rule, would the world be different probably not. People are people and when you teach about faith, hope and love, it is a hated teaching by those not understanding the goodness of man, or the goodness of God.
Are you against God's goodness? Then you are a devil if you are against God and the truth not be in you this morning. Satan transforms himself into angel of light through his suffering, through his acts of kindness without the hope of faith. Devils attitude is he faced all kinds of things in his life even persecution, and gives to the poor, but what persecution does not make one believe in God in the since of faith and worship to God. The message of Satan is clear leave God and Christ out and just be a good person. Is this dangerous, is this not what we see today in religious music, religious literature, and even religious preaching. How often is Jesus and God mentioned in a sermon. Or is it about glorifying in one's self alone. Glorifying in ones achievement and struggles to the point that some see not Christ but see a victorious person worthy of glory of the flesh.
Let me ask if we glory in being other things besides a child of the king, are we not like the rest of the world. I love crocheting, and those that know my work, no its not bad, but it could be even better if I did more of it. Point being, we glory in things that are not Christ all the time. Setting ourselves up to be something and are truly not beyond the next person that might have more talent. Did what Jesus teach greater then God his Father, absolutely not, it was the same teaching. What made him equal to God, but God anointing him at the baptism. Prophesy of his coming before he ever showed. Ladies and men speak to their spouse and friends of being parents one day, God is boastful about his only Son before He even gets here. Was his suffering different then those before him? What made Jesus sacrifice and testimony of God the Father unique above all else. Christ walked in full obedience to God the Father in all humility of humanity and yet his power was greater then all of mankind to stop his custume of humanity from suffering but he did he went in obedience to the cross anyway. He came to earth to demonstrate to mankind the ability with His Father to handle to the struggles of mankind as human. Yet we find Christ calming the sea, healing the sick, and feeding the hungry while here. We find a God that not looking from above but walking and talking to us in human flesh coming to us in a way we might receive Him to be part of us. What do you mean by being a part of us. If you look to the road of the wilderness when God spoke from the mountain through the lightening in Exodus 20, we find a people rejecting God by his voice alone. No they did not like God because they were afraid of God. How many love God or are you just afraid of God. One might sing I love you Lord, but do you love God.
Christ would baptize with the Holy Spirit to bring healing, and salvation to all mankind through the believers. Yet because of their humanity they to would suffer. Whether Peter or Paul it matter not many were healed in their ministry, but they were not God, or Jesus. They may of saved you by bringing you the gospel, but they could not make you believe, that was something God would have to do. Jesus was greater then Paul because of who He was and anointed by God alone. To the none believer God must declare who Christ is to your heart and soul as the one to receive in order to have salvation. I might tell you, but God is the the one that must convince you in your heart.
The other day I found myself trying hard to convince my husband something would work I was working on, and he decided it definitely would not work. Now my husband was right in one way, but if he did the way I was going to do it, it would work. I only had to show him, for him to finally agree it would work. Sometimes we only have to show sometimes the way of salvation for them to receive Christ, other times we must lead them down a long road of teaching about faith in God and Christ, before the Spirit of Christ breaks the chains that caused their blindness to the Gospel message of faith in Him. Did not Jesus say we all had the power to forgive and yet not until the cross do we see the greatest act of forgiveness ever given to the world when we crucified God's only begotten Son. Yes we are children of God born of God's spirit upon salvation, but we are not begotten in the since of Christ, for Christ was conceived by virgin birth, by God's hovering over Mary. Does not God's Spirit speak to the minister to give new birth of faith to the non believer to conception of faith. Mary experience something impossible for man to do. Yet each new birth is a spiritual birth of the Holy Spirit. We experience the conception and birth of man, yet few remember it but the born again experience is experienced by the Holy Spirit by the church/believers in attendance of the spiritual birth of the new believer. We know in our hearts and it can not be denied, because the Spirit gives testimony of the new birth to the hearts of the believer around about them.
Those that believe that Christ is real in their heart, they can not follow the antichrist, yet God may choose an antichrist to teach his people such a lesson, so we lead others away from the horrors of the devils. Devils like to be glorified, God's children feel it all a part of a days work. Elijah is a good example of this when Namaan was healed only Elijah servant thought Elijah should be paid for his labor, he was stricken with ailment of Namaan for taking payment for Namaan healing back for Elijah. The devil was the one that thought money was deserved for such a task.
The concept of the world we live in understand not the ministry of Christ. Paul claims to have robbed a church to minister to people, taking from the church to lead them to Christ. Most missionaries receive money from the church world today, but it never enough for the work of God and yet they learned in ministry that God's supply abounds. Paul never complained of his supply. He boast of the riches of God. Yet there were times of hardship and even hunger, but never unsupplied by the riches of God. No doubt the testimony Paul heard through out his journey kept him feed and on fire for God. Does the world keep you on fire for God, no they like to tear you apart and shut you down, but Christ supply to keep you spreading His word is something He does. Paul would go to Roman to spread the Gospel to Caesar of his day. Yet no one knows the outcome of that visit, for Paul was in chains as he shared the Gospel. Yet he went willingly because it gave him opportunity to share with leaders, because of His chains.
The point to spread the love of God, to spread the forgiveness of sin through Christ Jesus took men and women willing to die for faith to reach all people from all walks of life, to go against the law of the land to do so. Never be ashamed of your chains of the Gospel, for God knows why He allows persecution of His people, including his Son. The devil never likes it when you offer forgiveness, we seen that with the death of young man who forgave a cop. Devil wants to play the eye for eye and tooth for a tooth game. The devil wants to destroy forgiveness. The devil became a law unto himself. Beware of those type of devils, they look harmless and their words are one thing but they do another.
Dear Heavenly Father open your children's eyes and let them see who this antichrist is in the since of not your people. Enable them to preach your truth in love and hope. In Jesus precious name, Amen.
Continual Scripture Study for Devotion:Act 9:3-9 KJV
3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.