Sunday Service Devotional

Open Hearts

“Open your hearts to us.” 2 Corinthians 7:2

You can almost hear Paul crying out to the Corinthians, “Please open your hearts to us!” Paul cared deeply for the Corinthians, like a father cares for his children. They had closed their hearts toward him after receiving his stern letter of correction and stopped having fellowship with him, so Paul desperately desired that they would open their hearts to him once again.  

Cultivate Holiness

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1

What does it mean to be holy? It means to be set apart. Set apart from what? Scripture reveals that we are to be set apart from an unloving and dying world, in order that we might be used to bring God’s love and life into it. Unfortunately it seems holiness is often thought about in a shallow way today. Many think being holy is merely abstaining from evil things.

Marks of Ministry

“But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses…” 2 Corinthians 6:4

It is a great privilege to be ministers of God, but as Paul points out, with that privilege comes pain and suffering. The apostle Paul understood this better than most. Despite their shortcomings, the Corinthians were a blessing to him. They loved him and he loved them, yet they also caused Paul a lot of pain and suffering. He experienced the full range of emotions as a minister of God, from the heights of joy to the depths of sorrow, which he openly expressed in this letter.

This is the Day

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

The new life God wants to give us in Christ is as significant, if not more so, as the life He created in the beginning. In order to bring the magnitude of this point home, Paul on several occasions compares what God did in the beginning to what He is now doing in Christ. Earlier in this letter Paul compared the light that God spoke in the beginning to the light He revealed to us through the face of Jesus Christ. Now in the verse above, Paul implies that just as humans were originally made by the word of God, we are now remade by the word of God through His message of reconciliation.

What Happens Next?

“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Corinthians 5:1

Every person who has ever lived has pondered that great question: “What happens next? What happens after we die?” Some think nothing happens after we die, that we simply don’t exist anymore. Others think we are reincarnated as another person or animal, and that how we live this life will determine what our next life will be. I don’t know about you, but these views leave me feeling hopeless.

My Vessel, His Power

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

Clay pots were everywhere in Paul’s day since they were used for everything from food to fuel. You would find them near the fireplace, in the windows of people’s homes and in the marketplace. In addition to being unremarkable, they were also very fragile and easily broken. That’s why Paul used them as a metaphor for human beings. We may be weak and easily broken, but by the grace of God we can contain the valuable treasure of the gospel.

Live in the Light

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

The comparison Paul is making here is pretty remarkable. He’s saying the light that shined in our hearts the moment we received the gospel was as dramatic as the moment God spoke light into the dark world in Genesis 1. Paul wasn’t the only one to make this connection. In John 1:1-5 it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

Remove the Veil!

“Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” 2 Corinthians 3:16

I think Moses, like many of us, tried to keep appearances up and preserve his reputation with people. We see this when he put a veil over his face to mask whenever the glory of the Lord was fading from him. Isn’t that what many of us do? Don’t we want those around us to see how special and self-sufficient we can be?

Triumph in Christ

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

People in Paul’s day would’ve known about triumphal processions. When a king or some other leader won a notable military victory, the whole city would come out to celebrate him and his troops as they returned home. All kinds of ceremonies and rituals took place to proclaim their victory, and among them was the practice of burning incense. The smell of the incense told the people in the crowds and neighboring streets of what was being celebrated, whether they could see the celebration or not.

Live to Please God

“For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.” 2 Corinthians 1:12

Someone once said, “If you live to please people, misunderstandings will depress you, but if you live to please God, you can face misunderstandings with faith and courage.” Have you ever been misunderstood by others because of something you said or did? I know the times I have been misunderstood it has caused me to toss and turn all night long. It appears the apostle Paul experienced some sleepless nights as well. Some in Corinth misunderstood what Paul said regarding his plans to visit them, leading them to accuse him of using fleshly or worldly wisdom.

God of All Comfort

“Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer.” 2 Corinthians 1:6

It’s easy to read about Paul’s missionary accomplishments and the trials he overcame and think he was a superhero of some kind. Compared to him we may feel weak or lazy, but throughout all of Paul’s letters he points attention away from himself and onto the life of Jesus that lives in him. In essence he tells us over and over, “This isn’t of me. Jesus confronted me and changed me, and I encourage you to do the same because it has made all the difference.”

Addicted to Love

“Let all that you do be done with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

We have come to the end of 1 Corinthians and what an end it is. During our time in this letter we have learned that the Christians in Corinth were more about the scene than they were about the King. They had great teachers and experienced all the spiritual gifts, but they lacked love. It was their lack of love that caused envy, strife, and division in the church.

Worship Leads to Works

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

When we are reading the Bible it is important to remember there were no chapter breaks in the original manuscripts. Last week we covered 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul focused in on the resurrection, the last trumpet and the victory over death we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. The chapter concluded with the verse above, which is an exhortation from Paul to enter into true worship. True worship is much more than an emotional experience, it is when the Spirit of the Lord is so present in our lives that we give ourselves entirely to Him and strive to always be abounding in the work of the Lord.

New Year New Body

“The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Good morning NCL Church family,

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We missed you last Sunday, but we had a great time in Alabama and Tennessee visiting family. Church is back on this Sunday and it just happens to be Potluck Sunday so bring your favorite dish to share and invite a friend or family member to join us for a great day of fellowship.

Deconstructing Christmas

The word “deconstruct” means “to break something down into its separate parts in order to understand its meaning, especially when this is different from how it was previously understood.” Last Sunday Tyler deconstructed the first Christmas. He took us on a step by step adventure and it was glorious. We saw prophecies being fulfilled. We saw the angel of the Lord shining in the glory of God saying, “I bring you good tidings of great joy.” We saw that this caused an eruption in heaven and a multitude of heavenly hosts praised God and said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

An Imperfect Home for a Perfect Savior

“And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.” Luke 2:16-17

Christmas is in 12 days, which means we are in the thick of the Christmas season right now and everything that comes along with it. Shopping for presents, getting our travel plans together and worrying about how we’re going to handle family drama is swirling around us, and all we can do at this point is hope and pray it all works out. Maybe we’re dealing with that sinking feeling in our stomachs we often get during Christmas time where we feel depressed or anxious about our current situation. Maybe we’re frustrated because our lives seem to be falling apart and it feels like God doesn’t notice.

Born to Die and to Rise

“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” 1 Corinthians 15:12

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King!” Without a doubt this is one of my favorite Christmas carols, but what if it wasn’t true? What if the virgin birth was just a myth? What if Jesus didn’t save His people from their sins? What if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead?

The Proof of the Gospel

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and He was buried, and He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” 1 Corinthians 15:3b-8

The revelation of who Jesus was and what He accomplished was not disclosed to one person only, but to hundreds. Paul was even so bold as to publish specific names of people in order that they would all be able to corroborate each other’s testimonies. He was not appealing to some vague or strange group of people, but to real people who had nothing to gain from claiming they had seen the resurrected Christ. Not only did they have nothing to gain, but also everything to lose. In fact, some would go on to lose everything, even their own lives, as a result of their testimony.

A More Excellent Way

“But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 11:31

If you have been wondering what the more excellent way is since last week’s message, don’t worry because I won’t keep you wondering any longer. The more excellent way is love. Paul began his letter to the Corinthians saying that even though they were experiencing all the spiritual gifts (1:7), they lacked love. And it was because of their lack of love that envy, strife and division entered into their church body. It must have been a glorious morning for Paul when he picked up his pen and began writing this powerful passage on love.

The Church Universe

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free - and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:13

When Paul declared we “have all been made to drink into one Spirit,” the Greek verb he used for “drink” was also used in his day to describe irrigation. The implication here is that when we drink into the one Spirit, He enters our innermost being and begins to work in us much like water in the ground of a garden. A church is like a garden. We all need the same water to remain alive, but just because we live off of the same water doesn’t mean we are all meant to produce the same food.