Accept the Gift

5th Sunday After PentecostJune 24, 2018

stones-2533882_640.jpg1 Samuel 17:1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49  • Psalm 9:9-20  • 2 Corinthians 6:1-13  •  Mark 4:35-41

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says,

“At just the right time, I heard you.
    On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us,and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. 12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. 13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!

2 Corinthians 6:1-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

We continue our walk through Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth.  We know by his Paul’s first letter that this was a church that had some issues.  But really there are many churches that have issues.  By the sounds of what Paul writes, there were some who were not willing to accept the gift of salvation.  Just before this passage, Paul urges the Corinthians to accept God’s gift of reconciliation.  Paul and his cohorts are ambassador’s of Christ and they are urging people to come back to God – to be reconciled to God.  This is the gift that Paul is referring to.  Paul continues, “Today is the day of salvation.” Apparently some didn’t believe that Paul and those who traveled with them really were ministers of the gospel.  Paul recounts the various hardships he has faced since repenting of his sins and now preaching the gospel.  He is following the leading of the Holy Spirit and wants others to do the same. Paul desires to live in such a way that that no one will stumble – that no one would be led astray – that no one will find fault in their ministry.  Yes, there will always be those who find fault even when our motives are pure, but that doesn’t give us license to do whatever we please — we must still live as true ministers of God.  Paul tells his readers that they have proved that they are true ministers by their conduct and by following the leading of the Holy Spirit – faithfully preaching the truth – and by their sincere love.  Paul even mentions the love he has for the Corinthian believers, even though they don’t reciprocate.  Paul is asking the Corinthian believers to respond as true children of God – to open their hearts to the Gospel that Paul and his friends have preached – the truth of God – through the power of God – the Holy Spirit!

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