Tuesday 2 September 2014

" ... HELP US BY PRAYER" Bible Readings Thoughts for Sept 3rd


            We started reading 2nd Corinthians today: the opening chapter needs to be read slowly, carefully, as Paul makes so many points.  He shows the inter-reaction of events and the great value of prayers in all the difficulties they and he are experiencing.  “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s suffering, so, through Christ, we share abundantly in comfort too.” [1 v.5]  It is, writes Paul “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction … [v.3,4] This is a comfort we have a responsibility to pass on to others.
            Let us meditate and reflect on the inter-reaction of events we have personally experienced.  The more we have been active in the service of Christ, the more clearly we will perceive this.  In Paul, the Corinthians saw the most outstanding example of service.  “The afflictions we experienced,” writes Paul, was such that “we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” [v.8] But Paul then came to realize, “that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God ….” [v.9]
            “On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” [v.10]  Then Paul makes an appeal that we should specially take notice of.   He tells the Corinthians, “You also must help us by prayer so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us by the prayers of many.” [v.11]
            Many are aware today through the almost instant communication the internet provides of the desperate situations some Iranian believers have experienced.  There are also Pakistani believers who are experiencing persecution, and a few truth seekers who have felt it wise to return to Afghanistan.  Let us help them by prayer.
            Also, may we, as Paul writes in his 2nd chapter, spread “the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved …” [v.14,15]  The world is ‘smelling’ ever more evil, as the darkness becomes ever darker, but then the light should be even more evident!
            It is a tragedy, as we will read tomorrow in ch. 4, that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel …” [v.4]  But, what a wondrous blessing we have that “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” [v.6]  That ‘light’ shone physically as creation began countless aeons ago, but the wondrous fact for us is, as we will read in ch. 5, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” [v.17]   May all those who are part of that “new creation” help one another by prayer.

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