Devotions

Author Archives: Patrick Bicknell

Mourn • Devotion #2: His Grace is Sufficient

“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.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

About a year and a half ago, my best friend lost his little brother to suicide. It was a really hard time for all of us as we were at a loss of words wondering why and how this had happened. For the funeral, he had asked me to come and read some Scripture along with some other members of his family, to give them some encouragement and peace in their time of struggle. In that moment of feeling joyful that he asked me to come and say a few words to be able to bless them, I felt unworthy to do so. I felt that I was not the person to try and give them some words that may give them just a sliver of peace in this dark valley. Before I went to the funeral, this verse in 2 Corinthians is where God brought me, to remind me that it is not about me or my life, but solely about His power and grace. In my weakness, His power is made perfect. His grace is all I can ever want, and more than I will ever deserve. This verse taught me that I will not fear my inability to do God’s work, but I will rest in the fact that even with my many weaknesses and faults, Christ’s power can and will work through me because He, not I, is that powerful.

What Paul says here to the church of Corinth is one of the most radical, encouraging, and hard to grasp verses that there is. In our culture, we focus so much on our strengths. It is not about how well we can do something, how long we have worked at perfecting our craft, and what we can do for ourselves. These are all great things, but that is not the focus for us as Christians. That first statement at the beginning of this verse, “My grace is sufficient for you” caught my attention. Before he even begins to talk about his weaknesses, he first states that above all else God’s grace is more than we will ever need. Even if we live our lives with no money in our pockets, no roof over our heads, or no clothes on our backs, if we accept the free gift of grace that God offers through the blood of Jesus Christ then we will have more than we can ever want, need, or deserve. The rest of what Paul says rests on this idea. In the midst of all our weaknesses and struggles, God’s grace is enough for us, and His strength is enough to do all that He wants to do through us. Boast in our weaknesses because in them the power of Christ is made perfect. That is an amazing, and radical truth.

Lesson Fifteen • Devotion #6: Led by God, Not the Flesh

Have you ever been mocked? Have people ever said things about you that you know to be false? How do you handle these situations? It can be very difficult, hurt us, and cause us to want to lash out and follow our fleshly desires to respond in those moments. Paul is experiencing that in 2 Corinthians chapter 10. 

Starting in verse 2, Paul addresses some of what people at the church of Corinth are saying about him. We do not know the full context of what was said because we only hear one side of the argument, but we do see that they accused Paul and who he is with as walking according to the flesh or following their sinful desires rather than following God. When we are put in this situation all of us want to respond in a way that defends ourselves, regardless if we respond in a hateful way. This could be about what someone says personally about us, our faith, our political parties, our families, or whatever it may be. We have this human desire to stand up for ourselves, which is a good thing, but oftentimes we do it in a way that exemplifies a life that is led by the flesh and not God.  

Paul, in verses 3-4, addresses how they live their life. He says that we walk in the flesh meaning that they are human beings like everyone else who struggles with sin, but they are not waging war according to the flesh. William Barclay puts it like this, “It is as if he said, ‘I am a human with a human body, but I never allow myself to be dominated by purely human motives.’” He also says that his weapons are not of the flesh but from God and that they take every thought captive to obey Christ. 

Paul does not tell us to not respond to people who bring up false accusations about our own personal faith, or of God, but he tells us to respond while also being careful with every thought and intention we have to obey Christ. We are able to do this when we are led by the Spirit and not our own flesh. 

Social media makes it very easy to say whatever we want and in any way we want when responding to people who bring up this stuff about us. We need to be intentional to obey Christ in these moments. We must not be surprised when this happens to us as Jesus says in John chapter 15, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). Be led by the spirit and not the flesh in all areas of your life. 

Lesson Ten • Devotion #4: Ambassador for Christ

As I am writing this, I am going through one of the saddest times in my life. Just recently I lost a good friend of mine very suddenly. He was a great man, someone who had a great love for me and was one of those people who would be there for you no matter what. Few things have been able to give me peace other than Scripture, and specifically, this portion found within 2 Corinthians chapter 5. 

Before he had passed away, he had seen me in my time before surrendering to Christ, and he had seen me after I made the decision to follow Christ. Most of our conversations were just us messing with each other, but I specifically remember a conversation we had about a year ago when he talked to me about God. I was able to give him the Gospel and share my faith with him. I am not sure if my friend made the decision to follow Christ or not, but I do know that because God did not count my trespasses against me, reconciled me to Him, and made me an ambassador of Christ I was able to share this message of hope with my friend. I have regret that I should have done more, and I am stuck with the feeling of what if, but at the end of the day, all I can do is share the message that God has given me to share.

This is what we do when we become ambassadors for Christ. In verse 15, Paul says “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” This is what it means to be an ambassador of Christ. God has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation as the end of verse 18 says. We no longer live for ourselves. We do not look to please our own desires or make our own comfort. As ambassadors of Christ, we live every day for him, to share His Gospel, and to go out of our way to preach this message to whomever we may come into contact with because we do not know if today is that person’s last day. In the case with my friend, we were not expecting him to pass, but because Jesus loved me enough to die for me, to raise from the dead, and make me an ambassador for Him, I can rest in the hope that this message changed his heart as it did for me. Live each day for the One who died for you.

Lesson Eight • Devotion #6: Look to Things Unseen

I like to listen to pastor J.D. Greear. During one of his sermons, he gave an illustration of a man who won the lotto and received a multi-million-dollar check. Immediately he got in his car and started driving to the bank to cash the check. On his way there, his car gets a flat tire. He then asked, “Do you think the man here threw a fit and got mad at his current situation?” Of course not, because he was on the way to go cash a check that would change his life forever. His current situation did not affect him as much in light of what he was going to get. This is an illustration of our spiritual life, and what Paul talks about here in 2 Corinthians chapter 4. 

Throughout these verses, Paul gives circumstances that may affect us, persecution, affliction, being struck down, and all sorts of despair. He talks about all these things that will affect us in this world but gives us some incredible encouragement at the end of these verses that tie to my opening illustration. Paul begins verse 16, saying, “So we do not lose heart.” After describing to his readers what we are going to face as followers of Christ, he gives us the assurance that we can find in God. 

If you have surrendered to Jesus, and accepted His free gift of grace and called Him your Lord and Savior, then we look to the things unseen. Paul says that the light, momentary, affliction that we face in this life is nothing in comparison to the glory that we will receive when we come into His kingdom and stand face to face with the God of the universe. We cannot escape the troubles of this life, due to our sin we live in a fallen, broken world. Suffering is inevitable, it is real and affects all of us. We face troubles big and small and go through hardships that feel like they are never-ending. However, these do not define us, they do not control our lives. 

As followers of Christ, we do not seek the things of this world for hope. It is not found in job security, health, or wealth. Our hope is found in Christ, He has finished the work, and when this life is over we will be with Him in Heaven for all of eternity. So just like the man who did not allow his flat tire to make him lose sight on what he was going to get when he cashed his check, we also do not allow the troubles of this world to take our eyes off of the eternal glory that we will receive one day.

I Am: The Way, Truth, Life • Devotion #2: Confidence and Peace

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6 

This “I am” saying has been one of the most influential sayings that Jesus gave in my life. This saying gives me so much confidence and peace. Jesus here is stating that there is no other way or works we can do that can get us into a relationship with the Father, but rather it all depends on Him. It is all based on what Jesus has done, what He has said, and who He is. This saying is what brings us to the fork in the road with Jesus and with the Christianity faith. Either what Jesus said is true and He truly is the only way to salvation, or He is wrong and none of what He said is true. As C.S. Lewis puts it, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” 

After Jesus went to the cross, died, and rose again on the third day, He proved that all of what He said is true and that He is the only way to salvation. So what does this mean for us? First off, this truth gives us confidence. Knowing that Jesus has finished the job and that He has defeated death and sin, we can surrender our entire life to Him. When we do this we are given the confidence to know that it is His power that He works through us so that we can live our lives, and further advance His Gospel. The faith we have is of infinite importance, not only for us but for everyone in the world. That is why we are called to spread the Gospel. This does not depend on our own strength but the strength of the One who rose again. We can rest in Him and have confidence knowing that it does not matter how eloquent we are, but that His power is working through us. 

Secondly, we can have peace knowing that we do not need to do anything but believe and have faith in Christ to obtain salvation. Jesus makes it clear in John 14:6 that He is the only way. He solidified this when He died on the cross and resurrected three days later. He takes the burden off of ourselves because I am sure most of us know that we could never live a life worthy of the Almighty God. Rest in Him, allow His love to transform you, and know that if you come to Him, He is faithful to forgive you and to give you a new life. Listen to the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”



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