Sunday School Material 8-24-14: An Appeal for Reconciliation

Introduction:A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that God uses limited humans as a part of His master plan to take care of His own. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to let God use us and accept God’s use of others, in carrying out His master plan.

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Body:

Read II Corinthians 6:1-2

I. Corinthians’ Need. Paul appeals to his readers as co-workers of God. Paul doesn’t want his readers to receive God’s grace in vain. In our Sunday School material He talks about how this is the day of God’s favor and salvation.

Applications -

- Co-workers with God. Notice in vs. 1 that believers are God's co-workers. This is an awesome way of thinking about ourselves. We are not simply servants of God, but we are His co-workers.

We are working with Him to carry out His marvelous plan to help people get saved and to grow in the Lord. When things get rough on your journey and it seems that your work doesn't mean much, it is good to remember that we are co-workers with God.

Think about how a General in an army is important as well as the person who cooks his food. If the cook poisons the general, the whole army is impacted. Let's serve as if we are God's co-workers. This kind of service should be known for faithfulness and honor.

- Saved by grace. Notice in vss. 1-2 that believers are saved by grace. On one hand, we are saved to serve the Lord, as His co-workers. But on the other hand, we are saved by grace, not by our service.

Being saved by the grace of God should keep us from ever bragging on our own selves. It should keep us forever thankful for God's heavy duty mercy. Let's live like we appreciate that we are saved by God's grace. Humility and joy should be normal for us.

Read II Corinthians 6:3-10

II. Paul’s Hardships. Paul talks about how he and his team have worked hard to avoid having their ministry discredited. In our Sunday School material they see themselves as servants of God. There is quite a list of what they have endured - troubles, beatings, sleepless nights, and more.

Applications -

- Stumbling block. Notice in vss. 3-4 that as servants of God, we should aim to avoid being a stumbling block to our being effective in ministry.

There are times when we are free to do and say certain things, but they are a stumbling block to those we seek to minister to. Thus, we are called to refrain from some of our freedoms for the sake of effective ministry.

On the other side of this idea is the notion of avoiding being manipulated by Pharisees (i.e., religious people who are more concerned w/you living by their expectations than being right with God through Christ).

Think about how the Pharisees would have labeled Jesus a stumbling block, after He allowed His disciples to eat grain on the Sabbath.

Let's work on being humble enough and faithful enough to our ministries to give diligence to avoiding being a stumbling block.

- Faith development. Notice in vss. 4-10 of our Sunday School material that it takes great faith to be a great leader or disciple of Christ. There is a call to be able to endure trouble and even ridicule for the sake of Christ.

Let's work on developing the faith needed to endure the troubles that we face on our journey. Our faith will be nurtured by prayerfully studying and obeying God's word with the support of others.

Read II Corinthians 6:11-13; 7:1-4

III. Paul’s Proposal. In our Sunday School material Paul goes on to talk about how he has spoken freely to the Corinthians. He wants them to make a place in their hearts for him. The promises of God should move the readers to work on being holy. Paul's pride and joy are found in the Corinthian believers.

Applications -

- Love and harmony. Notice in vss. 11-13, 2-4 that there should be love and harmony in the church. Truth sharing and heart felt affection will be helpful in reaching these ends. There are too many churches that are known for hard feelings and division.

There are cases where the truth is shared but without love. There are cases where the truth is not shared. And there are cases where the truth is shared, but it is not received.  Let's work on doing our part to make our church one of love and harmony.

This calls for us sharing the truth in love and receiving the word, in whatever way that it is shared. It calls for sharing affection - smile, shake hands, hug, greet one another, etc.

It calls for trying to have peace in the church, instead of everyone simply aiming for his/her own way.

Notice that in vss. 2-4 of our Sunday School material that a part of living by this application is to always be ready for reconciliation for the sake of bigger picture.

This a good place to highlight that forgiveness is to release the hard feelings, and reconciliation is about restoring the relationship.

If both parties are willing to work on rebuilding then restoration is a possibility. However, restoration calls for both parties working on rebuilding; whereas, forgiveness only calls for one party to release the pain.

- God’s promises. Notice in vs. 1 that the promises of God should move us to live the way God is calling us to live. At a foundational level, God promises to bless those who obey Him and punish those who do not.

Let's live as if we are moved by the promises of God. Such living is known for obeying God, even when we are upset with people. Such living is known for obedience, even when people are not around, because we believe that God is always around.

Conclusion: Let’s work on reconciliation in our churches and other relationships as well. God has much for those who obey His will.

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