II Corinthians I by Fr. Charles Erlandson


Monday of 13th Sunday After Trinity – 2 Corinthians 1

  | August 25, 2013 |

Crucifixion - Matthiah Grunewald2 Corinthians 1

“As you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.”

In verse 7 of 2 Corinthians 1, St. Paul gives us the pattern for the Christian life which was also the pattern of the life of Christ: if we partake of suffering, we will also partake of glory and consolation.  Now taken out of context I suppose this could be something a good Buddhist could say.  For Buddha, the fundamental truth was that life was suffering; suffering is caused by desire; and therefore if you extinguish desire you will escape suffering and in a way receive consolation.

But what a contrast to true consolation, and, Yes!, even joy and glory which God promises to those who are His faithful children.  This was the pattern of Jesus’ ministry: that He denied Himself and obeyed the will of the Father so that others might be comforted, healed, and saved.  He sacrificed Himself for us, not just on the Cross but also during His entire public ministry of service, humility, and obedience, that we might receive God’s blessing.  He was cursed that we might be blessed; He suffered that we might be consoled; He died that we might live.

But after His self-denial and suffering, He was raised to glory and exalted to the right hand of the Father so that every knee should bow and confess Him Lord of glory.

And this is to be our pattern: we suffer with and for Jesus Christ that we might also be raised and glorified with Him.  What St. Paul is getting at, then, is nothing less than participation in Jesus Christ.

Every day we have many opportunities to be united with Jesus Christ and experience life with Him.  Most of the time, however, we are looking for that mountaintop experience, that really good devotional time, that extra measure of blessing that we know to be the Lord’s.

But have you ever considered how many opportunities God is giving you each day to be a partaker of His Son by sharing in the sufferings of Jesus?

If this was the pattern for the Son, who is our example in all godliness, then why do we work so hard to avoid the suffering God permits?  I know the human answer: we humans are averse to pain and suffering, and in one sense we should be.  But as Christians, we must understand that though the suffering itself is not good and the ultimate cause of it is our sin, that what man means for evil God means for good.  It was and is through suffering that the world is redeemed.  We had a part in bringing in the suffering: how blessed that God allows us to participate in the redemption of suffering to save the world!

And this is exactly Paul’s point: that what Jesus Christ did in His earthly ministry He continues to do through His Body the Church.  Where He preached the Gospel and served bodies and healed souls, His Body the Church is to do those same things now, by the grace of the indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ.  Where He bore our sufferings that we might bear His triumph and glory, the Church must do the same thing today.

Here is what God is teaching us this morning.  First, in verse 4, that God comforts us in our tribulation.  We’ve all experienced that before.  But God has more to tell us.  One of the reasons He has comforted us is so that we may be able to comfort others.  This is the same pattern we have seen before and will see again: God makes us disciples so that we can make disciples; God builds His Temple of living stones so that they can help build the Temple; and God comforts us in our suffering that we might comfort others.

This is exactly what Paul did.  In verse 6 he says that he and others are afflicted for the consolation and salvation of the Corinthians.  This consolation and salvation are “effective for enduring the same sufferings,” so that the Corinthians might be able to comfort others.  Jesus began it all by suffering so that we might be saved; Paul suffers so that the Corinthians might be saved; and we suffer for Christ and others so that they might be saved.

How blessed to be actual partakers of the ministry of reconciliation, healing, comfort, joy, and glory of our Lord!

Do you see in this God’s call to suffer on behalf of others?  This means that we must not mope and complain about our own suffering but share it with the Church.  And we must not simply bear our own sufferings or rejoice in our own blessings but share those same sufferings and blessings with other believers.

We are the Body of Jesus Christ that He has commissioned to continue His ministry of suffering and consolation and salvation.  But if we keep it all to ourselves, then how can Jesus minister through us?  We are His appointed means of ministry in the world.  And this is why it is important to share both suffering and consolation with each other, because this is the ministry of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, consider your suffering to be a participation in Jesus Christ and His suffering, in the hope that you might also participate in His consolation and glory.  Look for ways that you might participate in the sufferings of others so that Jesus Christ, through you, might console and save His people.

We are partakers of Jesus Christ, but only to the degree that we also are partakers of one another, in both suffering and consolation.

Today, do not deny either yourself or others that most beautiful of blessings: participation in Jesus Christ our Lord through participation in one another.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, I thank You that you willingly suffered for me and that You allow me the privilege of suffering for You.  Thank You for Your consolation that has helped me in my times of suffering and sorrow.  Help me to look for ways in which I may suffer with others that I may share Your consolation with them.  Direct my life and prayers today that I might become Your minister of grace today. 

Points for Meditation:

1.  Meditate on how God has consoled me.

2.  Meditate on how I might console another.

3.  Meditate on how I might help bear the suffering of another.

Resolution:  I resolve to see today’s sufferings as a participation in the sufferings of Jesus.  I further resolve to receive the consolation of God today that I might console others and share in their sufferings.

© 2013 Fr. Charles Erlandson

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The ‘Have it Your Way” Gospel


Jonathan Cahn

Jonathan Cahn

by Jonathan Cahn

A fast-food franchise made famous the slogan, “Have it your way”.  Unfortunately, we live in a fast food culture and subscribe to a fast food FAITH.  What this means is:  the subjectification of the Gospel.  The Gospel isn’t really about God anymore but what God can do for me.  It’s not about truth, but what I feel.  If I feel it, it’s true.  It’s not about the absolute, it’s about subjective.  We don’t mold our lives to conform to God’s absolute truth.  Rather we mold our beliefs to conform the way we live our lives.  The Bible has become as valuable to us as a hamburger.  Have it your way.  We must reject fast food Christianity–the subjectification of the Gospel.  We’re not SAVED by a subjective truth.  Such gospels and philosophies save no one.  We’re saved by the Absolute Truth, the unchangeable God, and the unalterable Gospel.  Reject the spirit of the age and live by the Holy Spirit.  Let’s not bend the truth to fit our lives, but let’s conform our lives to fit the truth.  For the eternal and unchanging truth of God…is not a hamburger!

Slogan:  “Do it God’s way”.

Romans 12:2     ESV   “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Reprinted From My Online Friend and Author, DIXIE DIAMANTI


Screen shot 2013-08-08 at 8.35.41 PMIt was a warm and sunny as we walked into the restaurant that day, ordered our food, and sat down to catch up. Greg and I had been apart for 21 days, as he had been in Arizona to care for his ailing step mom. The moment we sat down and he looked across the table at me, with big tears in his eyes, he said to me, “Dixie, I’m dying”…….

It has been seven weeks at the writing of this that we have had no income from work. Our private investigation business has taken a nose dive due to the changing of laws in California, and other reasons unknown to us. Week after week we have prayed, confessed, believed, maintained, and praised our way through absolutely nothing happening. Greg exhausted his resources in trying to find another type of business or employment that would sustain us. The decline has actually been happening for a couple of years now, until, it seems, it has progressed into the heavens being silent.

God’s faithfulness has been astounding in providing our needs. We have not been late on a bill, nor have we gone without anything that we need.

Manna from Heaven.
Finding money in the mail box, on the door, in various and sundry places.
Gifts of love from our community of believers.

We have truly learned what it means to “live by faith”. Every time I started to doubt and complain to the Lord, He would say,

“Are you hungry today?” Well, no.

“Are you bills paid today?” Yes!

“Do you need anything today?” Well, no!

“Then my child, don’t even think about tomorrow. I have this.”

So, we would continue to stand and pray and pray and stand. And each day there was always provision. Sometimes I can’t even tell you where it came from, but it has always been there.

For a husband I believe it is a struggle with failure, as if they cannot provide for their family; an additional pressure aside from plain old insecurity, and fear of abandonment. Greg’s struggles were endless as he looked at his empty message machine day after day. The temptation is to fall into fear and wonder if God has abandoned us when this kind of thing happens. And we are in constant warfare with an enemy who wants to see us fail.

My personal feeling is that I believe the day is coming for all of us when we will have no choice but to totally rely on Jesus for our total provision and sustenance in preparation to help the multitudes– who will be terrified of not being able to survive in these tumultuous days.

Finally, the day came when I knew my husband had reached his breaking point and something had to be done. The only door that was open was for him was to go to Arizona to care for his step mom who desperately needed his help in caring for her and in turn she would help us to at least pay our bills. The plan was for a time of retreat from the normalcy of life while waiting on God for answers for our own lives.

The decision was made that all normal activity in our lives together would stop until we get further notice from God as to how to proceed. Greg indefinitely cancelled his men’s bible study; a huge thing for him as the study had been going on for 18 years. It is now time for faithful men to reach out to him and it is his turn to receive ministry of prayer support and words of encouragement from the faithful ones.

The day he left he was sobbing so hard he could hardly pull out of the driveway, and it was oh so hard to watch. I saw a broken man and it broke my heart.

I like to journal my talks with Jesus as part of my prayer life….on one particular day a few weeks back, as I was seeking Him for answers, this is what He said back to me in the midst of this trial:

“Yes, Dixie, a new thing shall spring forth and the deserts of your life shall blossom. For so many years you have learned that I am always your answer; always!!

I AM your cleft in the rock.

I AM your hiding place.

I AM your spring of water in the dry places.

I AM your trail over the rocky mountainous terrain.

I AM your escape from every temptation to fear or doubt.

I AM your love and I cherish you and love you and think you are adorable.

You are beautiful my bride and my unique and glorious love. Dixie, this time will be short when you look back on it. Greg is where I have placed him. Trust me that I know him inside and out and have placed in him a heart for me and I will use him mightily in the coming days. I will bring all the uncertainties and confusion together. I will weed out what needs to go. I will grow some up and set some free from their religious bondages. I can do anything and will prove myself to your faith as never before. You bring a smile to my face. I love you My delight!”

So, 21 days later we sat there in the restaurant and he begins to tell me of his journey.

I am already seeing transformation.

Greg said as he drove away that day he felt like he had lost control of everything in his life and was being forced into exile by God, away from me, his children and grandchildren, and all of his friends and familiarity. He didn’t know at that moment who he was anymore, and felt totally out of control of his life as he drove for the 10 hours to Arizona.

When I came back into the house that day after seeing him off, as I prayed, the Lord told me to read the story of Elijah. He spoke to me that Greg was like the prophet Elijah. Elijah ran into the desert when he got so discouraged because Jezebel was after him. He had just performed a miracle of God before many witnesses. Yet, his humanness came in with a rush afterwards and he became discouraged with his life and doubted God was in it.

How many times do we witness God moving in our lives in huge ways, and the next day we become fearful all over again, doubting God’s provision? We can get pretty dramatic, can’t we?

“He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush.” 1 Kings 19

He felt abandoned and deserted and alone and fell asleep under a bush in the desert totally depressed and wanting to die;

Pitiful and pathetic and in escape mode.

The Lord sent an angel to feed him and give him water. Elijah was so depressed that he rose and ate, but then just laid back down and prayed to die. The angel shook him awake again and ordered him to eat again for he had a long walk ahead in the desert. So, he ate, and got up and started walking. Can’t you just see him trudging along in the hot desert, kicking at the sand, crying and carrying on, praying to just die to get out of his misery? When he got to the cave what did he do? He went back to sleep.

“He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep.” 1 Kings 19

But, it was in that cave that God began to talk to Elijah and reveal Himself to him in a brand new way.

“Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.”

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?”

Sitting in the restaurant that day Greg tells me he has lost control with pain etched on his face and tears running down his cheeks. “But,” he said “I know God has taken me to the heat of the desert to get my attention. There are things in my life that need to change. While there I have seen pride in so many areas of my life I have had to repent of. My anxiety and fear levels had progressed to the point that I knew I had to do something drastic to break the cycle. I have seen that I was stuck doing things my way and would not have changed had it not been that I could see no other choices but to give up.

Surrender.

I can see God moving me into a deeper, intimate, walk with Him, and a new kind of relationship ministry of living in the Father’s love. But in doing this I have had to die Dixie. I literally feel like I am dying.”

Galatians 2:20 immediately came to mind as he was speaking:

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

My husband is being refined as by fire and he is dying to his old ways and what will emerge is yet to be seen. But our God is so faithful and He always has a plan. Greg has said he knows he is to return to the desert for another 20 days as he can’t get away that it took 40 days for God to reveal to Elijah His plan for his life. It took that long to get his attention. It took 40 years (a lot longer than 40 days) in the desert for poor Moses before that burning bush started talking. At the end of 40 days of fasting for Jesus he came out of it ready for what God had called Him to do. So, Greg will return, trusting that this time is only the beginning to deliverance for us, and release for him, and direction as to how we will proceed to live. I will stay and continuing my coaching practice and writing while he is away.

To hear my husband say, “I am dying, Dixie”, took on a deep, personal meaning for me. I knew God was in this and that when He is done with this fiery trial in our lives we will be even more assured of the absolute faithfulness and trustworthiness of Jesus!!

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” James 1

PS: When God has revealed our next step in this trial I will be sharing the outcome with you, my faithful readers.