Tag: 2 Corinthians

All in All Part Nine //
God’s Strength in Weakness

This morning young adult pastor Chase Moore concluded our All in All series with a message on embracing authentic obedience over appearance and achievement. Throughout his message, we read 2 Corinthians 11 and 12. In this passage Paul is talking to the Corinthian church about embracing their weaknesses. The Corinthians were a lot like us, and they were continually missing the point. Their focus was on having it all together on the outside instead of embracing authentic relationship with Jesus.

Living in a social-media-centric world, it is easy for us to appear to have it all together. As long as we have the perfect camera angle and Instagram filter, no one will know about the pain that might be going on inside. We want people to focus on our highlight reel instead of seeing our places of weakness.

THE HIGHLIGHT REEL IS NOT WHAT MAKES A WAY FOR THE POWER OF CHRIST IN OUR LIVES OR IN THE WORLD AROUND US.

Paul recognized that we do not need appearance or achievement; instead we need to live lives of authentic obedience. Even when he was being questioned, Paul did not boast over his achievements. Rather, he celebrated his weaknesses and places of pain.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

It is in our places of weakness that the power of God is made perfect. Facing our weakness is a doorway to greater intimacy with Jesus. When we try to pull everything together on our own, we essentially reject his grace. The grace of God isn’t about just surviving.

THE GRACE OF GOD IS ABOUT HIS POWER BEING FULLY DISPLAYED IN OUR LIVES.

When we lay down the desire to perform and embrace our brokenness, the power of Jesus is made perfect in us. Our places of brokenness give us the opportunity to speak into the lives of others. When we declare the goodness of God in the midst of weakness, we bring hope to those that are hurting.

We were made to step into the chaos of the world. But we can’t step into the chaos on the outside if we don’t let God deal with the chaos on the inside. It all starts when we let go of appearance and achievements, and allow God’s power to be made perfect in your weakness.

IN RESPONSE:

  1. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable // Let go of appearance and performance, and confess your places of brokenness. Allow God to speak into that place, and let His power be enough.
  2. Live lives of authentic obedience // Regardless of what it looks like, we must live a life of authentic obedience. Think about the last thing God asked you to do. Ask yourself if you were faithful to obey. If not, ask God to reveal to you what is holding you back.

By Destiny Gonzalez – Communications Staff

Destiny serves as the Communications Coordinator and manages the blog and social media pages for Antioch Waco.

Real vs. Fake //
An All in All Devotional

The years was 1966. I was 16 years old and living with my parents in our house in the Bosqueville area, just on the edge of Waco. Our family enjoyed watching TV together in the evening and in 1966, one of our favorite shows premiered – Mission Impossible. Many people may know about the movie franchise starring Tom Cruise. But before the movies, it all started as a popular television show.

Why the talk of Mission Impossible? Well, the consistent theme is one of trickery and deception. Through elaborately built, fake locations and deftly crafted disguises, the team offered up alternate realities that led people into responding in certain ways. This is how the Mission Impossible team got results and defeated the “bad guys”.

The tactics these fictional teams used are as old as time, since the garden, actually. Read 2 Corinthians 11 and notice one of the themes – believers being deceived. Verses 14 and 15 say, “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness…” The deceiver often sets things up in our world to cause us to respond in certain ways, leading us to defeat and destruction. Those responses may be in the form of anger, jealousy, fear, bitterness, hatred, etc.

Of course, what we experience here on earth is real but not the true and higher reality, which is God and His kingdom. As 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 

Since we know that we live in the shadowlands presently, how do we stay vigilant in our battles with deception? This is a serious challenge for us.

THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT THAT LIVES WITHIN US AND THE WEAPONS PROVIDED TO US, WE CAN WALK IN LIGHT INSTEAD OF DARKNESS AND REALITY INSTEAD OF DECEPTION.

These weapons are familiar ones – prayer, time in the Word, worship, godly counsel, stopping certain activities and embracing others. The ultimate key, though, is living in a moment by moment awareness of the trinity’s presence in our lives. That is reality!

IN RESPONSE:

Consider watching the movie The Shack. Out of unspeakable tragedy, the main character, Mac, encounters a supernatural reality.

By Penny Allison – Women’s Pastor

All in All Part Eight //
Real vs. Fake

This morning, Senior Pastor Jimmy Seibert continued our study in 2 Corinthians with a message centered around 2 Corinthians 11:1-3. In this passage, Paul is calling the Corinthians back to sincere and pure devotion to Jesus. The people in Corinth knew Jesus, but grew distracted by the things of the world and eventually grew distant. They wanted Jesus and the things of this world, and Paul reminded them that they can’t have both.

Like the Corinthian church, we can’t have both either. When we sideline our relationship with Jesus to pursue the things of this world, we are giving our all to things that will ultimately leave us broken.

JESUS IS EVERYTHING, WE CAN’T TREAT HIM LIKE A SIDE THING.

The temptations and distractions that caught the Corinthians’ attention really aren’t that different from the challenges we face today. The enemy isn’t creative. He uses the same tactics, and once we identify them, we can overcome them.

HERE ARE THREE THINGS THAT DISTRACT AND DRAW US AWAY FROM JESUS:

  1. Allowing our appetites to lead // When we allow our hunger and desires to take the lead, we slowly drift away from the things God is calling us to. If Jesus isn’t in the lead, we aren’t going anywhere that will lead to life.
  2. Comparison and jealousy // Comparison and jealousy distract us from who God has called us to be. When we are so caught up in what others are doing, we become exhausted and miss what God has specifically for us.
  3. Striving for more // It feels good to get a promotion or another achievement. But when we get so caught up in achieving more, we get on a cycle of striving and insecurity. We’ll ultimately miss out on the opportunity to invest in the people around us, and we miss the rest God has for us.

In the end, Jesus is calling us back to friendship with Him. He wants our all, and He’s worthy of it. We can’t be both intimate with Jesus and with the world. The world will ultimately pull us away and leave us broken.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, Jesus just wants our pure and simple devotion.

HOW CAN WE RESPOND THIS WEEK?

  1. Commit to spending time with Jesus every morning // This is more than just reading the Bible. Jesus wants you to enjoy being in His presence. If this is something that is new for you, start with 15 minutes every morning – spend five minutes in worship, five minutes reading the Bible and five minutes praying.
  2. Identify areas where you have let comparison or jealousy take the lead // Are there any areas where you have become more distracted by what someone else has? Ask God to shift your perspective and show you what He wants to do in your life.

By Destiny Gonzalez – Communications Staff

Destiny serves as the Communications Coordinator and manages the blog and social media pages for Antioch Waco.

 

Living Against the Grain //
An All In All Devotional

“She didn’t see the two young men step out into the road and bring the van to a sudden halt…She didn’t get a chance to answer the question, ‘Who is Malala?’” Shots rang out as Malala Yousafzai slumped into the lap of the friend sitting beside her, shot in the head.”

This scene is described in the book, I Am Malala. Malala’s life is a stunning example of living counterculturally. Born into a Pakistani family that deeply valued education, Malala pursued her education passionately and vocally. Education for women was opposed by many in her country. Ultimately, her stand against much of the culture around her led to being shot. Fortunately, Malala survived, finished college in England and was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2014.

AS FOLLOWERS OF JESUS, WE ARE INSTRUCTED TO LIVE COUNTER-CULTURALLY, TOO.

Second Corinthians 10:3-5 goes to the core of that cultural conflict:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful…”

We live in a constant tension between what happens in our flesh and blood world and what is happening in the spirit realm, where the real action happens. Do we have to make choices, take stands and live in real time? Yes. But, we need to realize our real enemy is not the one staring at us across the dinner table or through the TV screen. Our real enemy is the deceiver and the liar, Satan. He often appears as an, “angel of light” to make things even more complicated. Our own speculations and mental and emotional strongholds can also be our enemies.

So, we are in a spiritual battle at the core, and often that spills over into life on this earth. Make no mistake, though, the victory is found in, “destroying these speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Malala had human enemies, but her real battles were the strongholds and ways of thinking that influenced her society. Let’s choose to live counter-culturally by recognizing where the battle really is and picking up the powerful weapons we have in the Spirit.

IN RESPONSE:

List people you may have conflicts with, and ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to move the battles into the spirit where real victory is found.

By Penny Allison – Women’s Pastor

All in All Part Seven //
Countercultural

This morning Drew Steadman continued our All in All series with a message centered around 2 Corinthians 10:1-12. In this passage Paul’s authority is challenged by the church of Corinth because of his physical appearance, preaching style and personality. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul didn’t respond by defending himself or directly addressing their remarks. Instead he states that he isn’t living by worldly standards, but by Kingdom standards. Living with a worldly perspective will never give us life. The good news is, we aren’t bound to worldly standards.

WE ARE INVITED TO LIVE ACCORDING TO THE WAYS OF THE KINGDOM.

It’s with that perspective that we find life. We aren’t called to disengage from the world in order to avoid the view surrounding us. Instead, we are called to renew our mind and live above the standards of this world. Throughout the passage, Paul alludes to strongholds that hold us back from walking out with a Kingdom perspective. We are constantly bombarded by thoughts and opinions from the world around us. In verse five, Paul tells us to, “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” It’s no mistake that he uses military terminology. He is admonishing us to aggressively take hold of our thoughts and shift our way of thinking. If we are passive and disengaged, we will ultimately be shaped by the world around us instead of being shaped by God.

EVERY SOCIETY HAS THEIR OWN STRONGHOLDS AND VIEWS.

Today’s worldview is very different than it was in Paul’s day. However, if we want to deal with our strongholds, we need to be aware of what is going on in our current culture. In his message, Drew presented two worldviews that he believes could be shaping our way of thinking. Both views have positives and negatives because neither of these perspectives align with the Kingdom way of thinking :

  1. Cultural Christianity // Cultural Christianity focuses on our behavior and appearance. This way of thinking says, “behave according to God’s commands, or at least look like you are.”
  2. Humanism // Humanism tells us that we should be true to ourselves, and live a life focused on our own dreams and passions. The problem with this perspective is that there is no reference to God. The only source of accountability is internal

Drew just briefly touched on both of these topics. If you would like to read more from Drew, check out these posts on his website. When we live with a Kingdom perspective, we live free of the pressure to look or act a certain way. We aren’t held to the standards of the world. We are only accountable to God, and He will always lead us to a place of life.

TAKE A LOOK AT THREE WAYS TO APPLY THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE:

  1. Deal with strongholds // This week, ask God if there is a worldview that is shaping your perspective. Start renewing your mind with the truths of the Kingdom.
  2. Take thoughts captive // Just as Scripture says, we need to actively take thoughts captive and renew our minds. This week, start by memorizing a verse that counters a lie you have been believing.
  3. Serve // When we live with a Kingdom perspective, we no longer focus on ourselves. If thriving in our own giftings and talents keeps us from serving others, then we’re missing the point. Start by serving in some capacity, and trust God to set you up to thrive.

By Destiny Gonzalez  – Communications Staff

Destiny serves as the Communications Coordinator and manages the blog and social media pages for Antioch Waco.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road –
An All in All Devotional

Everyone has experienced the ask – this family needs meals, this person needs a vehicle, this family needs help with childcare, the building program at church needs funds, these people need a place to stay, those people need someone to befriend them, this couple needs marriage help and on and on. All of these are important and valid needs.

The choice before us is either yes or no. We may think, “yes” is the correct answer and, “no” is the wrong one. Unfortunately, it is not that easy.

THERE IS A FOUNDATIONAL STEP WE MUST BE TAKEN BEFORE MAKING A DECISION.

Second Corinthians 8:5 describes that step as this, “First, you must give yourselves to the Lord.” This crucial first step is the key to how we live in every area of life, not just in the area of giving.

In the July 18th entry of her book, Jesus Calling, Sarah Young says it well, “Concentrate on keeping in step with Me. I set the pace in keeping with your needs and My purposes.” Guided by the Holy Spirit, we will know more clearly how and when to give, and we won’t be motivated by guilt, performance or our own good ideas.

Although we should not be motivated by what we will receive when we give, we will reap what we sow, according to 2 Corinthians 9:6. More than 25 years ago, our family opened our home to a young woman who lived with us for several months. Today, because of our being open to sharing our space and our lives with her, I have gained a dear friend who recently told me that I will always have a place to stay in her home, if there is ever a need. That was such a gift to this widow!

Be generous! Let the Father set the pace for that generosity, and watch how He uses you as you do.

By Penny Allison – Adult Pastor

Penny serves on our Women’s Ministry leadership team and as an adult pastor.

 

All in All Part Six //
Generosity

This morning, Vincent Carpenter continued our All in All series with a message centered around 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. Throughout this passage, Paul admonishes the church in Corinth to express generosity. The same admonition is for us today. When we give someone what we have, it makes a significant impact in both their lives and in our own. Before we can learn to give, we need to learn how to receive.

RECEIVING IS THE KEY TO GIVING.

It may sound backward because the point of giving is not to receive. But if we want to freely give, we first need to learn how to freely receive from God. In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul alludes to the Macedonians, who are described as living in extreme poverty and overflowing joy. Pause for a second and let the description sink in. It seems almost impossible to be filled with an overflowing joy in the midst of severe poverty, but the Macedonians had learned to receive from God. By the grace of God, they were fully sustained so their financial need didn’t cause a setback. We too, need to learn how to fully receive the grace of God, because when we do, we find that all of our needs are met in God.

When we give out of our own ability we begin to focus on our own achievements or compare ourselves to others. This mindset allows the lie to creep in that says, “my achievements merit the grace of God.” This completely nullifies the grace of God. We can’t earn anything, we just get to freely receive.

When we learn to freely receive, we are able to freely give.

HERE IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE GIVE –

  1. Everyone is blessed // When we give, not only is the receiver blessed, but so are we. We are all called to help someone, and there is a joy that we receive when we extend generosity to someone else.
  2. God is glorified // Ultimately, we bring God glory when we give. Scripture says, “others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.” (2 Corinthians 9:13) Others will be compelled to give thanks to God when they see that our gift to them is not out of our own abundance, but because of the grace of God.

THREE WAYS WE CAN RESPOND TO THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE –

  1. Renew your mind with the truth of who God is // This week, ask God to reveal more of His character to you. If we trust who God says He is, we will allow ourselves to freely receive from Him, and trust Him to sustain us.
  2. Make space to receive from God // Ask God to show you areas where He is wanting to provide. This could be in finances, in relationships or in some other area. Whatever it is, take a step back and allow God to breakthrough.
  3. Ask God how you can bless someone else // This week, take time to pray and ask God if there is someone you can bless this week.

By Destiny Gonzalez – Communication Staff

Destiny serves as the Communications Coordinator, and manages the blog and social media pages.

Making Room –
An All in All Devotional

My guess is that the best and worst days of your life had one common denominator – people were involved. This is one of the many paradoxes of life.

WE ARE MADE TO LIVE IN COMMUNITY WITH ONE ANOTHER, BUT WE CAN DEEPLY WOUND EACH OTHER ALONG THE WAY.

People live in community in a variety of ways. Our first taste of community comes in the form of family, which offers an incredible mix of glorious, painful, frustrating and life-giving experiences. What we experience in our families often defines how we interact with people for the rest of our lives – in school, in the workplace, at church, in our social lives, etc.

Second Corinthians 7:2 contains a phrase that is helpful to us as we live life with others. Paul asks believers to, “make room for us in your hearts.” Paul had sent a letter to the church at Corinth about sin that existed in their midst, and they were hurt and angry. So, Paul asked them for grace, understanding and continued fellowship.

Are you hurt, angry or disappointed with anyone to the point that you have shut them out, emotionally or perhaps, literally? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you may need to change your course and repent, just as the people of Corinth did.

MAKING ROOM FOR SOMETHING USUALLY INVOLVES REARRANGING OR DISCARDING.

Do you need to do some rearranging in your relationships? Do schedules, priorities or even attitudes need to be rearranged or discarded in order to make room for someone? Maybe it’s the person sitting next to you at school, the co-worker in the adjoining office, the family member who rubs you the wrong way, or the Lifegroup that would welcome your participation.

Whether making room for others involves repenting or embracing, please pause and consider the rewards waiting for you and others.

IN RESPONSE:

Sit quietly and ask the Holy Spirit to help you determine who you need to make room for and how that should look, practically.

By Penny Allison – Adult Pastor

Penny serves on our Women’t Ministry leadership team and as an adult pastor. 

All in All Part Five //
Discipleship Community

Yesterday, Vincent Carpenter continued our study in 2 Corinthians with a message centered around 2 Corinthians 7. Throughout the morning, we talked about repentance, perspective shifts and relationships.

Many times, we believe repentance means feeling bad about our sin, but it is actually so much more than that. Repentance is a gift, and allows us to align both our thoughts and actions with God’s. When we repent, we then have the ability to see things with God’s perspective instead of with a worldly perspective.

Repentance is an ongoing revelation of God’s truth. It begins with holiness; which then leads to wholeness. Holiness means to be pure and clean, and wholeness means being completely satisfied. God is both holy and whole. He calls us to be Holy not simply to avoid sin, but more importantly, to be more like Him and gain His perspective.

IN ORDER TO WALK IN HOLINESS AND WHOLENESS, WE NEED COMMUNITY.

We lose a part of God’s perspective when we are not a unified body. God created each of us differently, but He also called us to be one. Being unified doesn’t mean we all think the same way, but it does mean we are pursuing God’s perspective for the greater body of Christ. When we are together and whole, we are able to bring the perspective of heaven into every situation.

We are also led to repentance, and ultimately a perspective shift, when we realize both God and people are for us. It isn’t possible to say we love God, but dislike people. The way we feel about the people we are around reflects the way we feel about God. If we don’t believe people are for us, we probably don’t believe God is for us either. Once we gain the resolve that broken people who disappoint us still have our best interest at heart, we are able to push past conflict and build relationships.

BEING IN COMMUNITY IS WORTH IT.

It is not only God’s plan for us, but He also wants to use people to reveal His truth. This is why being present with the people around us is so important. Being present also communicates love for one another and allows us to build relational equity. When we have established relationships, we are able to encourage one another, and we have space to offer correction. It isn’t always easy, but it is important to speak truth into one another’s lives.

God wants to give us His perspective, and we find that when we are pursuing Him and relationship with His people.

TAKE A LOOK AT THREE PRACTICAL WAYS TO PURSUE GOD’S PERSPECTIVE THIS WEEK:

  1. Press into a challenging relationship // Being in community is worth having a few challenging conversations. This week, ask God for His perspective about someone you may have a challenging relationship with. Ask Him how you can show that person love this week.
  2. Ask God to reveal more of His character to you // If we don’t believe God is good, we won’t believe people are either. If it feels difficult to let people in, ask God to show you more of His character.
  3. Invite feedback // Community is not only a source of encouragement, but also correction. Invite your community to speak into your life. Start by asking one – two people if there is anything they see in you that doesn’t align with who God has called you to be.

By Destiny Gonzalez; Communications Staff

Destiny serves as the Communications Coordinator, and manages the blog and social media pages.

Have you given your RSVP? //
An All in All Devotional

Around this time of year, invitations fill our mail boxes and inboxes — graduations, showers, weddings, etc. Which ones can we attend? What gifts should we buy? As we continue our summer study of 2 Corinthians, I want to highlight an invitation we have all received more than once –

THE FATHER’S INVITATION TO WHOLEHEARTED LIVING.

In 2 Corinthians 6:4 Paul says, “in everything and in every way we show we are truly God’s servants.”

This invitation to living fully committed to the Father and His kingdom is not for those looking for a continual party filled with laughter, fun, gifts and great food. No. Although those things may be a part of our journey, let’s hit the highlights of verses 5-9 and see what an invitation to this life held for Paul and may also hold for us – beatings, prison, sleeplessness, hunger and character assassination. Are you ready to RSVP, yet?

THE TRUTH IS THAT LIFE HAS BOTH JOY AND HEARTACHE WHETHER YOU ARE A CHRIST FOLLOWER OR NOT.

The acceptance of God’s invitation to live wholeheartedly for Him will not keep us from hard times and pain. That RSVP will, however, give us an indescribably wonderful gift that Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 6:18, “‘you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.'”

IN RESPONSE:

Have you responded to the Father’s invitation? If you have, are you taking advantage of all that it means to be His son or daughter?

Read, mediate on and memorize Romans 8:15-17 –

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons [and daughters] by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

By Penny Allison – Women’s Pastor