Author Archives: Pastor Noble Baird

Lesson Twelve • Devotion #1: “Great Pride”

Who is one person in your life that you receive or have received a compliment from, that made you proud? As I read this passage of 2 Corinthians, I cannot help but imagine the pride and encouragement the church felt when reading this portion of his letter. In 2 Corinthians 7:2-9, we read, “Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn-fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it – though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.” Wow! Now I know that was a lot of verses, however, I do not think we can ever have too many verses from God’s Word! In this passage, I love how Paul begins saying that he has “great pride” in the believers in this church. Two words, that as I read them, I can imagine the faces of the believers as they hear about how Paul feels and thinks of them.     

As we read on in this passage, we find out why Paul had this great pride. First, it is because of the comfort Titus received from the believers in Corinth when he came to them. He was accepted and what Paul told him would happen, happened. Secondly, his pride was felt because of the repentance of the believers and their faith in Christ. Paul writes of the believers in regards to their “godly grief” in 2 Corinthians 7:10, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” Paul truly had great pride in the believers because they heard the Gospel, experienced repentance, and confessed Christ as their Savior. As someone who is on staff at a church, but more importantly someone who has experienced the life-changing love of Christ, there is nothing greater than seeing someone accept and experience the love and life-giving forgiveness of Christ! I hope that when you hear of someone confessing Christ or you are part of leading someone to the Lord, you too experience great pride and joy as Paul did!

Lesson Seven • Devotion #6: Focus

I have had glasses for the majority of my life. The first time I needed them was back in elementary school. I can remember going to the eye doctor. I would sit in the stiff upright chair as the doctor would bring this big crane over to my eyes, and I would look through two little holes. For what felt like an eternity after, the doctor would ask which lens was better to see through using a set of numbers. He would begin by saying, “One or two, two or three, and three or four?” Eventually, through this crazy mathematical process, I would be able to see clear as day! 

In 2 Corinthians chapter 4, Paul is writing about the most important message ever shared to the world, the Gospel of Christ. He begins in verses 1-6, writing, “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 

Paul is reminding the church in Corinth of the power and importance of the Gospel. He writes how it can pierce the darkness and how it is solely through this Gospel message of Christ through which we can have access to God. Yet, in verse five, Paul gives a reminder and a refocus. He writes, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.” Read that again — what an incredible reminder for our daily lives. 

Today, I simply want to encourage you and maybe help you refocus as Paul helped me. As time goes on, our vision can get blurry, and we are not able to see as clearly as we used to. However, when we go to the eye doctor, they help us refocus and see more clearly. Paul tells us Who we proclaim, Jesus. At times, we can get distracted by the things of this world: our jobs, school, social media, or fill in the blank. Yet, when we refocus our vision, we remember the incredible darkness piercing light, and life-giving power of Jesus Christ. This helps us remember that our goal and our focus as followers of Christ is to proclaim Him. It is not about ourselves, but our amazing Savior!

Lesson Two • Devotion #2: Reconciliation

Part two of books, movies, or albums, can often be very troubling grounds. More often then not, the only reason for doing a part two or a follow-up is simply for the money. If the first book enthralls the readers, then we will make a sequel. If this movie captivates the audience, we will make a sequel, or we will follow the sequel up with a prequel to make up for the awful sequel. The opportunities are endless. However, one sequel or part two that I do truly love, is 2 Corinthians. The letters from Paul to the church in Corinth have always been a staple for me, and I will often read over them when I am looking for a refresh. Yet, there is one particular theme that has always stood out to me in Paul’s second letter, reconciliation.

In Paul’s first letter, he is imploring the church to turn from their sin and misguided ways, so that they will ultimately grow in their faith and knowledge of Christ. As he begins this second letter, he thanks them for heeding his words and for the change that he has heard is taking place within the church. Why is this so important to Paul? He understands that Jesus is in the business of reconciliation. Therefore, he is imploring that the church in Corinth do the same and make it a priority in their lives, so that they may be able to attest and be witnesses of Jesus Christ. 

In 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Paul reminds the church of the new life they have in Christ. He explains this new life, by teaching them how they were redeemed and reconciled to God the Father, through the sacrifice of Christ. 

As we begin this study on the book of 2 Corinthians, I want to encourage you to view it through the lens of reconciliation. Paul reminded the church of Corinth, and us as followers of Christ, that we are ambassadors for Christ. Therefore, as ambassadors of our Risen Savior, I want to encourage you to heed and remember the words of Paul. Not only have we been reconciled to God through the sacrifice of Christ, but we have been given the call and ministry of reconciliation. I pray that as you continue in your study of 2 Corinthians, this theme and continual reminder of reconciliation will challenge and encourage you as it does me.

I Am: True Vine • Devotion #4: Vinedresser

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5

I believe that for many of us who call ourselves followers of Christ, we have heard this “I Am.” I know certainly for me, growing up at a Christian school K-12th grade, this was a passage I knew very well and heard often. Over the years, I have made two observations from this passage which I think we should all evaluate within our personal walks with Christ. First, are you truly part of the vine? To be a part of the vine, Christ, means that we truly have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior. It does not mean that we simply have said some words and believe in a higher power. This means that as Paul wrote in Romans 10:9, that we have confessed and truly believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord and He is who He says He is.  

The second evaluation is this, are you truly prepared to be pruned? I am not sure about you, but cutting the grass and doing landscaping is hard work! However, the work is worth the reward to see those perfect lines in the grass, or that picture-perfect tree and hedge! Here, Jesus tells us that in order for us to bear fruit, in order for us to share His Gospel in a meaningful and impactful way, we must be willing to be pruned by our heavenly Father. This pruning is not to hurt or stop us from being effective, but to make us more effective for the cause of the Gospel of Christ. 

I pray that as you continue on today and the rest of this week, you will evaluate these two questions in your life and walk with Christ. I know that at times the pruning that has taken place in my life has not been easy. Yet, as I continue to prayerfully seek the Father’s will in my life and continue to stay in His Word, I am truly thankful for a Vinedresser who cares and loves me so deeply!

I Am: The Door • Devotion #5: Escape Room

A while back, I had the chance to go experience an Escape Room. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is basically a real-life puzzle where you and a group of friends try to escape a room within the allotted amount of time. You truly feel like Sherlock Holmes as you try to decipher clues and puzzles, ultimately making your way through to unlock the final door and escape! However, it will also test your friendships as you try to communicate and work together. Needless to say, when I went with my group of friends, we did not escape in the allotted amount of time, but we did come close and had a ton of fun. The reason I bring this up is that whenever I think of a door, there are many ways in which to enter. Some doors, we use a key, others we may you a key code, and some fancy ones use a fob or a card.  

During this Easter season, we are going through our study on the “I Ams” of Jesus. Today, I want to take a look at how Jesus is the door of our lives. In John 10:7-9 we read, “So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.’” Now, when we read this passage, many of us can understand that when Jesus is referring to the “sheep,” He is referring to us, His followers. He first speaks of all the false teachers who have come before Him (thieves and robbers) and established how they were liars and not the true door through which to enjoy the pastures, or truth, joy, and eternal life. Yet, there is the second part of this teaching which I love, an open invitation. In verse nine, Jesus says “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved.” Jesus is reminding us of the open, free invitation to enjoy life in Him.

With the Escape Room, there are tons of keys and puzzles we must complete and work through, in order to earn and gain entrance to the final door and escape. Yet, as Jesus tells us here in John 10:9 and Paul reminds us in Romans 10:9, there is no secret clue or hidden key through which we can gain access to eternal life. All we must do is simply confess Jesus as our Savior and trust that He is who He says He is, and we will instantly gain access to walking through the greatest door in the world, that door is Jesus. There is no secret code, no fancy key, all we must do is trust and confess and we will be saved. I may have failed at the Escape Room, but boy am I thankful for a loving Savior who readily opened the door for me when all I had to do was trust and walk through it!

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