2 Corinthians 1:12-2:4 Follow Up September 24, 2018

*Please note: as you may have noticed the discussion questions in the bulletin on Sunday were outdated. The link at the end of this post includes the correct discussion questions for Sunday’s text. I apologize for the mistake.

On Sunday we learned about Paul’s travel plans in 2 Cor. 1:12-2:4. Paul had changed his plans regarding his travel to Corinth, and the Corinthian church seemed to believe that Paul was fickle and unreliable. Paul defends his motives as he navigates a very testy relationship with the Corinthians. We too have to navigate difficult and sometimes tense relationships. Paul gives us at least 3 principles to bear in mind as we seek to be godly in the midst of difficult and tense relationships.

1. Pursue a clear conscience.

Paul has confidence in the fact that his conscience is clear regarding his motivations with his travel plans to and from Corinth. Paul is not, however, saying that because he doesn’t feel guilty they cannot question his feelings. Paul has an informed conscience. His conscience is informed by the faithfulness and character of God. In order to have a clear conscience we need to hear people’s criticisms of us, and evaluate them honestly in light of God’s Word and character. In the midst of tense relationships we should always strive to pursue a clear conscience.

2. Beware assuming the worst.

The Corinthians attributed sinful motives to Paul without knowing the whole story. They simply assumed the worst. When relationships are tense we struggle with assuming terrible things about people. We assume all kinds of negative things about people with virtually no evidence. This is an especially strong temptation when relationships are tense.  We need to be on guard against this as we seek to believe all things about people (1 Cor. 13).

3. Have the goal of joy together.

Paul did not relish having to correct and discipline the Corinthians. In fact, he cancelled a visit to Corinth so that he wouldn’t have to do this again. Paul only corrected the Corinthians with tears and sorrow. Paul’s ultimate goal was not correction, but to rejoice in the Lord with the Corinthians. Paul only corrected people in order to rejoice in the Lord together. When relationships are tense many sinful motives will compete for our attention. Paul calls us to be guided by the goal of mutual joy in the Lord. May this guide us as we minister to one another in the Christ!

Here are the discussion questions and order of service from Sunday: 2 Cor. 1.12-2.4 Notes.

 

-Pastor Nathan Hogan

2 Corinthians 1:8-11 Follow Up September 17, 2018

Trials are about trust. That is a key point in 2 Corinthians 1.8-11 which we looked at as a church on Sunday. In this text Paul speaks about his own trials and deliverance in Asia, and teaches us 2 key truths about tribulation in our lives:

1. Tribulation reveals our neediness.

In verses 8-9 Paul does not give us many details about the nature of his tribulation in Asia, or his deliverance. However, Paul does not shy away from telling the Corinthians that these trials were beyond his strength. In fact, Paul says that part of God’s purpose for trials in our life is to show us that we are not strong enough without Him. Sometimes we like to pretend that we are strong, and ignore the obvious weaknesses that trials reveal, but God wants us to see our limitations and our need for Him.

2. Tribulation redirects our trust.

God does not just show us our neediness through trials, but redirects our trust to His vast resources as the God who raised Jesus from the dead! God wants to use trials to show us our weakness, but also to show us His immeasurable strength. When trials come our way, we don’t need to be scared if we feel incapable of handling them. God wants us to feel this way so that we then grow in our faith. May God comfort us in the midst of trials by building our trust in His resurrection power so that even if God does not deliver us from our immediate trials, we can be confident that God will one day raise us up into His kingdom in final deliverance!

Here are some discussion questions and the order of service form our worship together: 2 Cor. 1.8-11 Notes.

 

-Pastor Nathan Hogan

2 Corinthians 1:1-7 Follow Up September 10, 2018

On Sunday we began a series on Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians as we looked at 2 Cor. 1:1-7. If you would like an overview of Paul’s history/relationship with the Corinthians, here is a good summary video:

In Sunday’s text Paul almost immediately begins to speak to the Corinthians about affliction and God’s comfort. Paul is convinced that God comforts His people, and Paul gives us two reasons for this fact:

1. God comforts us because of His nature. 

Paul says in verse 3 that our Lord is the God of all comfort. God comforts because He is a comforter by His very nature. He loves to comfort His people. Sometimes we don’t feel like God comforts us because we either misunderstand the nature of God, or we misunderstand the nature of comfort. God does not always comfort us by taking away our affliction. Often He will comfort us by sustaining us in the midst of our affliction. God brings us into affliction, but God also comforts us in the midst of affliction, and in this we can rejoice!

2. God comforts us for the sake of others.

In verse 4 we are told that God allows affliction in our lives, then comforts us in affliction so that we can then comfort others. God brings us through trials and comforts us in order that we might become better comforters to others. As you are afflicted in this world, don’t forget that our sovereign Lord is at work preparing you to comfort His people with the same comfort you receive from Him!

Here is the order of worship from Sunday as well as some discussion/application questions based on the sermon: 2 Cor. 1.1-7 Insert PDF.

I am very much looking forward to studying this book together as a church. May God glorify Himself through the preaching of His Word!

 

-Pastor Nathan Hogan

Matthew 9:18-26 Follow Up June 26, 2018

This Sunday, we looked at the account of Jesus restoring the life of a girl while at the same time healing a woman with a 12-year-long discharge of blood. Here’s the story (Matt 9:18-26):

While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district.

Additional Details

From the parallel accounts in Mark 5:21-43 and Luke 8:40-56, we also learn:

  • The ruler is an overseer of a local synagogue, specifically.
  • The ruler’s name is Jairus.
  • When Jairus first approaches Jesus, his daughter is not yet deceased (more on this textual dilemma below).
  • When Jairus first approaches Jesus, he doesn’t just kneel before him, he throws himself at his feet.
  • Jairus’s daughter was his only daughter.
  • Jairus’s daughter was 12 years old.
  • The woman with the 12-year issue of blood spent all she had on local physicians, but only got worse.
  • The woman with the 12-year issue of blood has heard the reports about Jesus.
  • After the woman touched Jesus for healing, Jesus turned around and asked, “Who touched me?”
  • Just as Jesus healed the woman, a messenger from Jairus’s home arrived to inform them of his daughter’s death.
  • When Jesus finally arrives at Jairus’s home, only Peter, James, John, and the girl’s parents enter to witness the miracle.
  • As Jesus takes the deceased girl’s hand, he says to her, “Talitha cumi,” which literally means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”

Some Background Information

To better understand the story, it’s also good to know:

  • Based on Leviticus 15:19-30 (Old Testament laws about bodily discharges), women were considered unclean both during normal menstruation cycles and during extended blood discharges outside normal menstruation cycles.
  • While unclean, anyone a woman touched would also become unclean.
  • Furthermore, anything a woman laid on or sat on would also become unclean, and if anyone touched these things, they would become unclean, too.
  • Professional mourners were customarily hired to assist at funerals, usually including flutists and wailing women.
  • Based on Numbers 19:11-21, touching a corpse also rendered a person unclean.
  • While the Greek word talitha literally means “little girl,” it’s cultural usage was one of endearment, as in our usage of “sweetie” or “honey.”
  • Under Jewish tradition, girls who were 12 years plus one day in age were considered to have entered womanhood.

The Textual Dilemma

As mentioned during the sermon, a textual dilemma exists between the record in Matthew and the records in Mark and Luke. Specifically, Matthew records Jairus as saying to Jesus, “My daughter has just died” (Matt 9:18, emphasis mine). However, Mark and Luke both record that the girl was dying (Mk 5:23; Lk 8:42), not already dead. 

Hendriksen suggests Jairus’s words in Matthew may have been a modified request after the messenger arrives to inform of his daughter’s death, after Jesus healed the woman with the issue of blood. He writes: “According to Mark and Luke, Jairus had first asked Jesus to heal the child; then, when informed about her death… he now renews his request in modified form, namely, that Jesus may lay his hand upon the dead girl, adding, ‘and she will live'” (William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew, vol. 1 of New Testament Commentary [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973], 430).

Calvin agrees: “But Matthew, as we have said, studies brevity, and puts down at the very beginning of his narrative what took place at various times. The manner in which the history must be arranged is this: Jairus first requested that his daughter might be cured of her disease, and afterwards that she might be restored from death to life” (John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, vol. 16 of Calvin’s Commentaries [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2005], 410).

Broadus follows suit: “Mark and Luke inform us that while Jesus was on his way to the ruler’s house, and after the healing of the woman, messengers came meeting him to tell the ruler that his daughter was now dead; and that Jesus told him not to fear, etc. Matthew makes no mention of this message, and we conclude that designing a very brief account, he has condensed the incidents so as to present at the outset what was actually true before Jesus reached the house” (John A. Broadus, Commentary on Matthew [Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1990], 204).

The overwhelming consensus is that Matthew presents a brief overview of the happenings, while Mark and Luke present a more detailed account. Therefore, what seems to be a contradiction is not.

What We Learned

We saw a story that involved faith, relationship (we noted the emphasis of the term “daughter”), and the touching of the unclean (a corpse and a woman with a discharge of blood). In this, we saw a compassionate Jesus who did not contract uncleanness, but instead cleansed, renewed, and restored, thus providing a picture of salvation and adoption into the family of God by faith. As Wilson suggests: “The narrative here is a micro-picture of the bigger story” (Jared C. Wilson, The Wonder Working God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Miracles [Wheaton: Crossway, 2014], 87).

But in this micro-picture of the bigger story, we learned of three things Jesus values in his relationship with those who approach him in faith; namely, in the prayer life of people of faith:

1. Humility (v. 18):

We noted the fact that Jairus—a highly respected overseer of a synagogue—threw himself at the feet of Jesus as he pleaded for his daughter. The point: he approached Jesus in all humility. No self-righteousness. No pride, not even in his position. Only humble action. Why? Because faith understands our positions, our education, our accomplishments, our salaries, our careers, our prominence (or lack thereof), etc., don’t bring us to Christ. Faith also understands these things don’t save us, either. And so we’re encouraged to draw near to Jesus with prayerful humility, knowing we find grace at his throne (Prov 3:34; Heb 4:16).

2. Confession (vv. 19-22):

We also noted how Jesus did not allow the woman to leave quietly. Instead, she was drawn to publicly confess her 12-year state of uncleanness. Since physical uncleanness has pointed to spiritual uncleanness (sin) throughout the Scriptures, and since Jesus welcomes her as a “daughter,” we concluded: it’s pretty hard to have an intimate relationship without being fully known. And so the entire interaction encourages us—as well—to approach Christ with prayerful confession (Matt 6:12; 1 Pet 1:9).

3. Patience in Delay (vv. 23-26):

The story ends with Jesus finally arriving to Jairus’s home to restore his daughter’s life, foreshadowing his own death, burial, and resurrection. But we noted how Jesus was delayed by the woman with the issue of blood before finally restoring the girl’s life, And so we learned: faith remains faithful, even in God’s delay. Patience, however, is not a guarantee God will drive sickness and death away. Nevertheless, we can remain prayerfully patient, knowing prayer avails much (James 5:16). And we can trust: just as Jesus says “Sweetie” to the girl, he looks upon us with loving endearment as he continues to work to make all things new. In the meantime, faith reminds us to remain prayerfully patient and faithful to the Lord.

For Further Discussion and/or Meditation

Click here to download a PDF copy of Sunday’s insert with the order of service: Matt. 9.18-26 Insert. You’ll find Questions for personal meditation and/or for dialogue in your growth group.

With love in Christ,

Pastor Marttell

Matthew 9:1-8 Follow Up June 19, 2018

This week, we saw Jesus prove his authority to forgive sins. Check out the story once more:

And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Matthew 9:1-8)

Certainly, the story primarily highlights the divine authority Jesus possesses to forgive sins. But together with the additional details shared in Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26, we learned three additional truths from within the story:

1. Interruptions to us are not interruptions to Jesus:

Mark 2:4 and Luke 5:19 both tell us that the paralytic was lowered through the roof of the house Jesus was located in. But we also made note of what Jesus was doing as the paralytic was lowered through the roof: he was teaching (Mark 2:2; Luke 5:17). This would have been a major interruption to the preaching and teaching of Jesus at that moment, yet Jesus responded with compassion and grace. It helps us understand we, too, need to be okay with interruptions. More importantly, we also need to learn to use interruptions as opportunities to reflect and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to whomever is interrupting us.

2. Genuine faith persists toward Jesus:

In all three accounts, Jesus notices the faith of the men who interrupt his teaching (Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20). In our time together on Sunday, we also noticed how their faith persisted to Jesus, despite the crowd blocking access to him. So persistent was their faith, that they climbed the house’s exterior stairwell in order to create an opening through the roof and lower the paralyzed friend to Jesus. And we learned: we, too, must persist over our own obstacles to Jesus—we must continue looking to him, setting aside the sin and weighty obstacles that keep us from him.

3. A godly community carries the mats of others:

One of the most beautiful aspects of the story is the glimpse we get into the love displayed by four friends: the carrying of a fifth powerless friend all the way to the all-powerful one (Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:3; Luke 5:18). It’s a glimpse that encourages us to ask the question, “Whose mat are we carrying?” Inevitably, someone in our lives is paralyzed in their own sin and needs more than anything else the forgiving power of Christ. So, whose mat are you carrying? Think of the neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family members who need Christ and ask yourself, “How can I help carry this person to Jesus?”

The “Stage 3” scream everyone wants to know about:

During the sermon, I mentioned the three stages of a child’s screams. Stage 1: When a child’s toy is taken away by a sibling. Stage 2: When a child is pushed, shoved, or hit by its sibling. Stage 3: When a child gets hurt really, really bad. Parents know that “Stage 3” cry all too well. It usually involves some sort of accident. Take, for instance, a time in my own life while I was playing with childhood friends in my neighborhood. My parents had purchased a new construction home in the early phases of the community being built. This meant a lot of homes were still being constructed after we had moved in. For us as elementary-aged children, this also meant we were able to grab unused brick roof tiles from the ground to see which one of us could throw them the furthest down a canyon. Right in the middle of our contest, one of those roof tiles hit me right on the top of my head, causing a very bloody head wound. Enter “Stage 3” cry!

Thankfully, my young friends were wise enough to help me back to my mom. They understood I couldn’t fix my bloody head on my own. They also understood they couldn’t fix the gash in my skull either! So they took me to the person who was able to help me at that moment: my mom.

It helps us understand something the four friends from our story understood: their friend needed help outside of themselves. And they knew exactly who to take their friend to. My dear church: as we go about our day-to-day lives this week, let’s remember we’re powerless to stand on our own. We all need Jesus. In our need for Jesus, therefore, let’s remember to be okay with interruptions in life, to persist over our own obstacles to him, and to help carry others to him. You can review the sermon and download the sermon note sheet here (includes follow up discussion questions for your small group).

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Rom. 15:13)

Grace and peace in Christ,

Pastor Marttell Sanchez