2 Corinthians 1:1-11

corinth-copyrightPaul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Prayer Focus for Paraguay – April 27, 2014

Paraguay, Latin America: Christian leaders increasingly collaborate on projects and visions that are greater in scope and scale than any one denomination can manage alone. The great needs for prayer are:

Leadership development is an essential ministry. For those from Protestant, Anglican and Independent confessions, several Bible Colleges, a few seminaries and an Evangelical University provide training. More pastors (and therefore students) are needed as well as qualified long-term theological instructors. Pray also for the TEE programmes, which are extremely vital for the isolated and the poor.

Unity in the church must come from the top down. An association of pastors works to promote united strategies for the country’s evangelization and to assist pastors of small or isolated rural churches.



You Can Trust These Guys – He’s Risen! – John 20:24-28


Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio, c. 1602

     24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

     26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

     30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Prayer Focus for Papua New Guinea – April 20, 2014

Papua New Guinea, Pacific:

AIDS is an impending scourge with HIV infections increasing at an alarming rate, approaching a pandemic comparable to that of sub-Saharan Africa. Lack of awareness is a major challenge: mostly spread through sexual immorality, HIV is often attributed to all kinds of causes, some superstitious. TSCF(IFES), Anglicans (Anglicare) and Baptists are just three ministries educating on causes of AIDS, removing the associated stigma and cultivating biblical lifestyles so as to eradicate the infection. www.operationworld.org



Mediating Covenant – Genesis 17


“God’s Promises to Abraham” by James Tissot, c. 1896-1902

This past Sunday we learned of how God has assigned Jesus as the Mediator between God and man. As mediator Jesus takes what he knows of God’s covenant promises and makes them known to us (see Matthew 11:27). This role as covenant mediator was held for a time by Abraham (Genesis 17) (and others like Noah, Moses and David) but fully owned by Jesus.

So what is this covenant that Abraham mediated between God and his people? You can call it the covenant for the renewal of creation. God promises to renew all of creation through the family of Abraham (Genesis 17:4-8). Abraham was given the sign of entrance into the covenant – the sign of circumcision (Genesis 17:9-14, 22-27). Circumcision pointed to the promise of an offspring who would come to stomp out the head of the serpentine evil that pervades the earth (Genesis 3:15).

Later God instructed his people to make sacrifices through the covenant mediator Moses. Some of those sacrifices, like the peace offerings (Leviticus 3) and Passover (Exodus 12:1-28), were meant to be eaten by the people too.

Jesus came to more fully and finally mediate the same ancient covenant for the renewal of creation (i.e., the Kingdom of God). He was the promised offspring, so the sign of circumcision was no longer needed. Instead, he mediated to us his Father’s wish that we now practice baptism as the entryway into the covenant family.  And the night before he was sacrificed, he mediated a new sacrificial meal for us – communion.


“The Last Supper” by Andy Warhol, 1986

Communion is a gift of God to us through the mediator Jesus. And it was mediated to us on this day – Maundy Thursday – some 2000 years ago. It was this very day some two thousand years ago that Jesus communicated to us his Father’s wish that we partake of this meal regularly. We are to do so in order that we remember and commune with the Father through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Maundy” comes from the Latin “mandatum novum” or “new commandment.” It has to do with Jesus’ new commandment that we “love one another” in John 13:34, which also took place at his last Passover meal. The love which he commands us to live is baked and aged into the bread and wine which we are to partake of in communion. It is his love, displayed in his crucifixion for us, that is then communicated to us at Communion. It is through receiving his love at his table that we are able to live lives of love like his.

Questions for Conversation

  • What is your earliest memory of Easter celebrations?
  • Did your family go to Maundy Thursday service? Good Friday? Easter?
  • What were those services like?
  • When did you first enjoy Communion?
  • How are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit involved in the celebration of Communion?
  • What Scripture passages would you use to explain your answer?

Prayer Focus for Panama – Sunday, April 13, 2014


The Church’s
impact is significantly less than its size. Nominalism is widespread in both the Catholic Church and in many English-speaking churches. Catholicism has lost much impetus to the more dynamic evangelicals, JWs, Mormons and Muslims. The Church lacks the strength to turn this trend around and is further compromised by many of its members dallying with the false teachings of New Age, astrology and psychics. Pray for the intervention of the Holy Spirit. www.operationworld.org



Flesh or Spirit? – Genesis 16


Sarah Leading Hagar to Abraham, Matthias Stom, 1637

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

7 The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the LORD said to her,


“Behold, you are pregnant

and shall bear a son.

You shall call his name Ishmael,

because the LORD has listened to your affliction.

12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man,

his hand against everyone

and everyone’s hand against him,

and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”


13 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

15 And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

Prayer for The People of Palestine – April 6, 2014

Arab evangelicals number several thousand in 30 churches, most on the West Bank. They feel isolated and rejected by Jews, Arabs, traditional Christians and even Western evangelicals. The formation and operations of the Council of Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land are very positive developments. The loss of leadership through emigration is very damaging. Bethlehem Bible College plays a key role in training new leaders but faces many challenges. Pray for this ministry, and pray for courage, endurance and a spirit of love for evangelicals in Palestine. Pray especially for believers from a Muslim background to stay strong and to grow in their new faith.