September 20

2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Stay humble. Stay meek. No matter what they say about us or do to us, God needs our hearts to stay pliable and yielded to Him and others. Has anyone ever tested your love? Questioned your integrity or ability or message? Remember that Paul has been criticized by a group that is trying to deceive the people who follow him, to lead them away from his leadership to follow them. In verse 20, Paul says, “For you endure it if a man assumes control of your souls and makes slaves of you, or devours [your substance, spends your money] and preys upon you, or deceives and takes advantage of you, or is arrogant and puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.” Imagine being a parent, and another family tries to deceive and turn your vulnerable teenager away from you and bring them into their own family. Imagine your teenager despises you, your love, and your sacrifice, and leaves you because he or she is impressed with an arrogant, self-serving, manipulative person who will only use them to build up their agenda. Imagine your teenager finding fault with you and accepting the control of a leader who is abusive, greedy, or deviant. Those feelings are similar to what a pastor feels when the people they love and serve walk away to commit to someone else, especially if that other person is a threat to their wellbeing. Because Paul cares for his disciples and doesn’t want them to fall prey to another, , Paul writes about himself in a way that seems to be an attempt to show how deeply he is committed to the Corinthians. In the next chapter, Paul talks about his own challenge not to lift himself up to prove himself to those who were trying to discredit him and steal away the people he dearly loved and was giving his life to reach for Christ.

Ecclesiastes 10-12

In verse 11, “it says to cast your bread up on the waters, for you will find it after many days.” In verse 4 it says, “He who observes the wind [and waits for all conditions to be favorable] will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.” Farmers sometimes have very wet fields. Solomon says to sow anyway – sow on the water. Eventually the water will subside, seeds will be planted, and a harvest will be reaped. This parable applies to our lives, encouraging us not to wait for conditions to be perfect before we step out and obey God in our giving, our serving, our obedience, our business, our ministry, our family, or any other endeavor. Trust God, cast the seed. To cast means we are putting action to our faith. It also means we are letting go of trying to control everything, and we are trusting the seed to do what it is designed to do – to produce.

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