2 Corinthians 1 – Comfort and Joy

Read 2 Corinthians 1

As Paul begins this letter to the church in Corinth, he praises God for an abundance of comfort and joy in the midst of a number of trials and struggles that he has faced.  Given the context of this letter he could be referring to a difficult visit that he had with the church in Corinth or some other physical threat that Paul faced, and there were many.

What he faced, however, is not as important as how God has once again shown His faithfulness to Paul in bringing him through it.  In fact, Paul says, the trials he faced were there so that Paul would learn to trust more in God and less on himself.  This deliverance and provision is ongoing and Paul encourages the believers in Corinth to join him in this through prayer.

After saying this, Paul abruptly changes subjects for a moment, to talk about the change of plans that he has made.  Apparently, this has caused a bit of a stir in the community even so much as to cause them to question Paul’s truthfulness.

Yet Paul brings this all back together, speaking of God’s plans for him and for all believers and how they are much more important.  While we should certainly aim to be truthful and honest about how we speak, not committing to things and then dumping them when better offers come along, something that seems to happen in our culture today, we do need to always have a listening ear for the Spirit’s voice and direction.

God is certainly not out to do us harm but is always working to shape and mold us into the image of His Son.  For in Him, as Paul says, the answer is always “yes,” though not always in the way that we might think.  Paul’s change of plans, while sudden and abrupt, was God’s working for the benefit of both Paul and the church in Corinth.  We too much have this listening ear, allowing God to guide and grow us into mature faith.



Acts 16 – Spirit Direction

Read Acts 16

Timothy joins Silas and Paul who are on Paul’s second missionary journey.  As they travel about, it is clear that they are seeking God’s guidance and direction as to where it is they should be preaching.  We can see this because there are times when the Spirit actually stops them from going to different places.  Have you ever experienced this?

Sometimes we get it in our heads that we need to go everywhere and preach the Gospel, and we do so with little consideration to where God is actually calling us to go.  Now this is not to say that the preaching of the Gospel will not be effective if we go it on our own; God works through us and often in spite of us as well.

But when we decide to take time to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit (and follow them), great things will happen.  Imagine how different this would have looked if Paul, Silas, and Timothy had not listened to the Holy Spirit and had indeed gone to the places the Spirit stopped them from going to.  Would lives in those places have been impacted?  Sure.

However, what about those to whom God had called them?  Lydia would not have become a leading member of the Church, the slave girl would not have found freedom, and the Jailer and his family would not have found salvation either.

God is always at work, His plans and His ways are higher than our ways.  I’m sure that it didn’t make a lot of sense to Paul why he couldn’t go into the cities that were close by, but in the end, listening to the Spirit brought them to a place where God did great things through them and many came to know Christ.



Luke 5 – Calling

Read Luke 5

Each of the Gospels records different versions of Jesus calling some of His closest disciples.  Two of these accounts, the calling of Simon Peter, James and John, and the calling of Levi the tax collector.  These people couldn’t be any more different in who they were and what they did.

Fishermen were often poor, their income stream fully dependent on the amount of fish they caught the day before.  For some it was likely the difference between eating a meal for that day or not.  They would have been dirty, sweaty, and smelled of fish (amongst other things).

Tax collectors were quite the opposite, likely being well dressed and relatively wealthy.  Known for cheating people out of money through the artificial inflation of taxes to line their own pockets, Levi, and his counterpart Matthew, would have been rather unpopular with the people.

Yet they have something in common: a calling.  Jesus sees them, calls them from whatever they were doing, and they follow.  There is no waiting for them to get their lives back in order, to quit their jobs with the appropriate 2-4 weeks notice, or even to get their lives right with God, Jesus calls them on the spot and they follow.

Now, it goes without saying that the context and culture of that day are different than today.  Certainly people don’t go around telling others to “come follow me.”  We would be rather suspicious of anyone that did.

Yet does our suspicion and our busyness get in the way of listening to the voice that does call us?  The “still small voice” of God is always speaking through the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.  He still desires that we take us our cross daily and follow Him.  Do we hear that voice?  Are we listening?