II Corinthians Sermon Notes

“Bearing Light in a Dark World” series – “The Nightlight Verses” – Part 15 (8/11/19)

II Corinthians 13:1-14


“Parental love is interesting and amazing.”

  • It’s instinctive
  • It’s powerful
  • It’s personal

Paul invoked the word picture of spiritual parent often as he wrote to the churches he planted and even used it referencing his relationship to Timothy. In the closing lines of this letter, he has some final advice as their parent in the faith. However, he was mindful to frame it with two important points:

  • It was out of genuine love for them (whether they believed it or not) (ch.12 v.15)
  • It was for their best interest (edification) (ch.12 v.19)


Read 13:1-6

I. Be Evaluating Yourselves

(the tense of the verb is an on-going effort)

A. They felt the liberty to be thoroughly examining him (v.3)

B. They needed to be in the habit of examining themselves first (v.5)

  • First, to see if they were actually in the faith
  • Second, to see if they themselves were qualified/disqualified

Read 13:7-14

II. Keep the “Light” in Working Order (v.11)

Reminder: This entire series has been about “Bearing Light in a Dark World”. The light is who we are personally and corporately. There is to be regular assessment/troubleshooting on the quality of the light we’re emitting.

A. Become complete (be mature in thoughts/actions/reactions)

B. Be of good comfort (be encouraged-not discouraged)

C. Be of one mind (be united in spirit – not uniformity but unity)

D. Greet one another (v.12) – (The holy kiss of their day is the welcoming handshake of ours and is to be extended without factional reservations)

III. Remember the Empowering Presence of God (v.14)

A. The Grace of Jesus (gracious approach to each other)

B. The love of God (a decision to love that is beyond mere emotion)

C. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit (appreciating His guiding/teaching/comforting)

IV. Conclusion

Question: “Are you in the faith? Are you living “qualified” with the empowering presence of the grace, love and fellowship of God?


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” series – “The Nightlight Verses” – Part 14 (8/4/19)

II Corinthians 11:16-12:10


“Daily vitamins and minerals”

  • Good habit
  • Chewable, gummies, etc.
  • Added to food
  • Proper levels are good, but too much can be deadly (potassium for example)

Pride is similar in many ways. Healthy pride such as “taking pride in your work” or “taking pride in your appearance” are good disciplines, but too much pride can be toxic.

Today, we’re looking at avoiding the deadly poison of pride.

Read 11:16-33

I. Pride is Toxic to Understanding

A. It distorts one’s self-image (v.19 “you yourselves are wise”)

  • It shouldn’t be a beaten-down view of oneself
  • It shouldn’t be an inflated view of oneself

B. Pride blinds one’s view of others (v.21)

  • They bought the idea that Paul was “weak”
  • They thought they’d “outgrown” Paul

Read 12:1-6

II. Pride is Absent in Heaven

A. In Heaven, our limits are obvious

B. In Heaven, God’s supremacy is clear

C. In Heaven, humility is natural

Read v.7-10

III. Pride is an On-going Battle

A. The danger of pride is real (v.7) – it runs parallel to growth, insight, knowledge, etc.

B. The “thorn” was purposeful (v.7)

  • In plumbing there is a PRV (Pressure Relief Valve)
  • In the Christian life there can also be a PRV (Pride Reduction Valve)

C. The grace of Christ is to be our boast

  • “The day I realized how much I didn’t know, was the day I started to learn”
  • Some people don’t know how much they don’t know

IV. Conclusion

Questions – “What is your self-assessment? Healthy pride? Toxic pride?”


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” series – “The Nightlight Verses” – Part 13 (7/28/19)

II Corinthians 11:1-15


Deception can happen when we least expect it (2 personal stories)

Today, we’re considering three important elements of avoiding spiritual deception

Read 11:1-4

I. Appreciate the Purity of Your Relationship with God (v.2-3)

A. Like Adam and Eve’s relationship with God

  • simplicity
  • trust
  • love
  • fellowship

B. Don’t gaze and ponder the forbidden fruit – “keep your distance”

C. Do your “due diligence” – like clearing a field of vision around the perimeter of an old fort, clear your life of the temptations, traps, and hiding places of the enemy

II. Remember the Method of the Enemy (ancient tactics-modern setting)

A. Approach – the enemy patiently waits for moments of opportunity (Eve by the tree) – when we’re down, the enemy comes along with whispers and suggestions

B. Question – the enemy subtlety questions God’s instructions (Has God said..?) – with sophisticated sounding logic, simple truths are questioned as old-fashioned, out-of-date and irrelevant

C. Denial – the enemy denies the clear meaning of God’s warnings (You will not surely die.) – the readily understandable scriptures are denied on the basis of hidden wisdom, secret knowledge and enlightened thought

D. Substitution – the enemy substitutes a lie for the truth (you will be like God) – “half-truths” are crafted into phrases made for easy consumption

Read 5-15

III. Guard Your Trust

A. Guard your trust relationally (v.4) – be careful who you invest emotion into, in other words, “guard your heart”

B. Guard your trust doctrinally (v.4)

  • different Jesus (nothing but the biblical/historical Jesus – no more & no less)
  • different spirit (test the spirits without emotional bias, praying for discernment)
  • different gospel (nothing but the biblical teaching of salvation – nothing added, left out or taken out of context)

C. Guard your trust directionally – who you view as a role model (and aspire to be)

IV. Conclusion

Question – “What’s the status of the on-going discussion in your head/heart about life decisions/relationships/beliefs?”


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” series – “The Nightlight Verses” – Part 12 (7/21/19)

II Corinthians 10:1-18

Intro: “The Struggle is Real”

Have you ever had one of those days that starts bad and gets worse? Sometimes it’s simply circumstantial, but other times can actually be spiritual warfare”. Today we’re looking at some of Paul’s instruction concerning battle in the spiritual realm.

Read 10:1-11

I. The Rules of Engagement

  • Sometimes they’re broad like the “Geneva Convention”
  • Sometimes they’re more “local” like a unit commander’s orders
  • Rarely (if ever) do they seem or feel “fair”

A. Set your mind on Christ (v.1 & Colossians 3:1-2)

  • A decision beforehand
  • A mental “ready meeting” with yourself

B. The method of our fighting separates us from the world – “meek and gentle” is NOT “weak and pitiful”

II. The Objectives of the Mission (v.4-6)

A. “Warfare” means on-going campaign (v.4)

  • “schemes” – Ephesians 6
  • On-going for BOTH sides

B. Strongholds – fortified high places designed to be easily defended (faulty logic, accepted “truth”, emotionally driven positions)

C. Arguments (v.5)

  • “High minded” – elitist attitudes
  • Pride filled opinions

D. Thoughts – taking captive the thoughts that can lead to pride, rebellion, sin and choosing obedience

E. Resolve – ready to deal with spiritual rebellion (inside the church family) – it’s that important

Read 12-18

III. The Definition of Success

A. Know the boundaries (v.13-15 “limits of the sphere

B. Remember Who is to get the glory (v.17-18 & Colossians 3:23)

IV. Conclusion

Question #1 – “ARE you engaged in the battle?”

Question # 2 – “HOW are you engaged in the battle?”


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” series – “The Nightlight Verses” – Part 11 (7/14/19)

II Corinthians 8:1-15, 9:6-15


Over the last two weeks we’ve looked at spiritual maturity, and today, we’re looking at the third and final part of Paul’s instructions about it in this letter. I’m calling it “Gracious Giving of Ourselves”.

(brief overview of situational context regarding the Judean believers and the collection for their relief)

Read 8:1-15

I. The Decision to Give (v.5 & 9)

A. Should be an unrestrained act (v.5)

B. Christ is to be the model (v.9)

II. The Context of “Abounding” (v.7)

A. “Christian graces” are an approach to life (please and thank)

B. Giving is part of the bigger picture

III. The Commitment to Follow-through (v.10-11)

A. Words of commitment come easy

B. Keeping/not keeping one’s word defines the person (not the promise)

IV. The Motive is the Measure

A. “The Widow’s Pennies” (Luke 21:1-4

B. The meekness of her actions spoke volumes

  • Jesus saw her heart
  • Jesus was aware of her actions
  • Jesus valued her gift different than the leaders did

V. The Fruit is Righteousness

Read 9:6-15

A. Your righteousness is a blessing to others (Christian graces)

B. You’re further enriched by God in the process

VI. Conclusion

Question #1 – “Have you fully given yourself to the Lord?”

Question # 2 – “Does that decision have an impact on others?”


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” series – “The Nightlight Verses” – Part 10 (7/7/19)

II Corinthians 7:2-16


Last week we ended our time looking at “spiritual adulting” with the point of “Do the Work”, what is a call to live “set apart”. Today is another tough precept and one that can bring many sleepless hours, it’s the hard work of Godly friendships. Paul was an example of someone who maintained love for his friends, even when they failed as friends. Naturally, he had some of the same emotions as us, but in Christ he continued to try to bring them along.

Read 7:2-16

Here some of the points relating to the hard work:

I. Godly Friendships Involve Risk

A. There must be transparency

B. There is an element of vulnerability

C. There can be misunderstandings

D. There may be a time of someone’s moral failing

E. There may be the spreading of false information (about you or them)

F. There must be a commitment for the long-term

II. Godly Friendships are Naturally Dynamic (not static)

A. Change is a part of life

B. Honesty must always be the rule (even when it’s tough)

C. God is always at work

  • even when it doesn’t look or feel like it
  • Paul for example was distraught and didn’t feel like things were going in the right direction until Titus showed up with good news, but God was at work the whole time

D. Time is an important factor

  • Its often part of God’s plan to use time in shaping situations
  • The waiting can be tough but don’t give up hope

III. Godly Friendships are a Source of Strength

A. God used the church to refresh Titus

B. God used Titus to refresh Paula and Timothy

C. God uses people to refresh us

D. God uses us to refresh others

IV. Conclusion

Question – “What’s happening in your world of friendships right now?”


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” series – “The Nightlight Verses” – Part 9 (6/30/19)

II Corinthians 6:14-7:1


Last week we looked at “the practical life of an ambassador” and today I want to mention a term that’s currently being used in conversations, as a hashtag, and in “memes”, the term is “adulting”. It’s usually an expression showing disinterest in “adulting” (being or acting like an adult for the moment or day). It’s quite appropriate these days because perpetual adolescence has become the norm in some circles. However, Paul challenges the Corinthian believers to grow up and he gave us some guidelines to go by for living as “spiritual adults”.

Read 6:14-17:1

First, we are to:

I. Consider the Facts (v.14-16a)

The truth isn’t always welcomed, but its always valuable. Proverbs 3:23 says to “buy the truth and do not sell it…”

A. There can be deception – (I John 2:15-17)

  • We can be self-deceived
  • We can be deceived by others

B. Aspirations must be checked and evaluated – What/who do you aspire to be?

C. Conformity to the worldly standards must be resisted

  • The process can be slow and unnoticed over time
  • Romans 12:2a – there must be daily renewal of the mind


II. Remember the Promises (v16b-18)

A. God says, I will be…

  • …with you
  • …your God
  • …your Father

B. God says, you will be…

  • …received (welcomed)
  • …My people
  • …My sons and daughters (and He knows how to specifically parent both)


III. Do the Work (7:1)

A. From a position of strength (based on promises)

B. Perfecting holiness (sanctification, set-apart)

IV. Conclusion

Question – “Are you really living with a spiritually “grown up” mindset?”


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” series – “The Nightlight Verses” – Part 8 (6/23/19)

II Corinthians 6:1-12


The question, “What should I expect?” is common when taking a trip to a place you’ve not been, starting a new chapter in life such as getting married or having your first child, beginning a new job, etc. In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul mentioned that he wasn’t peddling the gospel as a cheap idea (2:17), but it is treasure directly from God (4:17). He also described our position as “ambassadors” representing the King. Today, we’ll be looking at what to expect in the practical life of an ambassador of the gospel.

Read 6:1-13

I. The Right Approach to the Position (v.1)

(A decision beforehand)

A. An attitude of gratefulness (v.1, 5:17 & 21) – (“to receive” is to accept His gift)

B. An applied initiative (to “not receive it in vain” is to be a spiritual self-starter)

II. There are External Challenges

A. Sometimes people will work against you (v.4-5a)

B. Sometimes circumstances will drain you (v.5b)

III. There are Internal Challenges

A. There is a need to daily renewal (v.6)

B. There is a need for daily readiness (v.7)

IV. There are Contrasting Extremes

Re-read 8-10

A. It can be confusing (the “Why?” question)

B. It can be discouraging (the “I’m tired of fighting” moments)

C. It can be revealing (who and what are truly important)

V. Remember the General Rules of Conduct

A. Do not dishonor the King (v.3)

B. Do not be seduced by the values and customs of the foreign environment (the worldly system) (v.12)

VI. Conclusion

Question – What is your approach to ambassadorship?


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – “The Nightlight Verses” – Part 7 (6/19/19)

II Corinthians 5:11-21


Last time considered confidence in our walk with the Lord, today we’re looking at the mission.

  • What’s the purpose?
  • How do you define the “win”?

Read 5:11-21

I. We are the Reconciled

A. We have an answer about real value (v.12) – (heart)

B. We are to live for Him and not ourselves (v.15)

C. We are a new creation (v.16-17) – No regard for fleshly acceptance

II. Others need to be Reconciled

A. There is a supreme standard (v.11)

B. Christ’s love met the standard on the cross (v.14)

C. There is still a choice to be made (v.21) – “become’ means he doesn’t redeem us against our will

III. We are the Ambassadors of Reconciliation

A. Our first loyalty is to the King (v.20)

B. Our purpose is demonstration (model) of reconciliation (ministry) (v.18)

C. Our message is specifically the gospel (word – v.19) (not a general idea of believing but saving faith in Christ)

IV. Conclusion

Question – What is your status? Reconciled? Are you modeling it? Are you communicating it?


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – “The Nightlight Verses” – Part 6 (6/2/19)

II Corinthians 5:1-10


Last time we spoke of “the treasure” in clay vessels (v.7) and now we move on to the method and demeanor of carrying it. In the next verses Paul begins with the phrase “For we know”. We should always take notice of the “we know” verses which can be part of a growing, quiet confidence.

Read 4:1-10

I. There is Confidence at Home in the Body (v.6 & v.1-4)

A. Groaning is a reminder of something better – (each sigh points to the new that’s coming)

B. “Unclothed” isn’t the goal – (Greek senses of release from the despised body)

C. “Further clothed” is “life swallowed by more life” (v. 4) – Appreciate the current to be replaced by something even better

II. There is Confidence While Walking in the Dark

Re-read v.5-8

A. He has prepared us (sovereignly) (v.5) – The Holy Spirit in us

B. He is our Guide

  • Personal story of two friends who are blind but confident when being led by their spouses
  • Tragically, many believers refuse to be led and choose instead to stumble around

III. There is Confidence at Home with Jesus

Re-read verses v.9-10

A. The future is now – like the principle of an old telegraph or teletype machine using electric pulse to move something on the other end, our lives write the story to be revealed on the other side

B. The appearance is individual (v.10) (all & each)

C. Seek the good over the worthless (bad) – its not always a moral verses immoral decision, sometimes it’s good/mediocre verses best

IV. Conclusion

Question – Are you walking in confidence?


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – “The Nightlight Verses” – Part 5 (5/26/19)

II Corinthians 4:1-18

Intro: “Digging for Buried Treasure”

  • A favorite pastime as a kid
  • What could it be?
  • Who left it there?
  • What story does it tell?
  • What’s the value?

Read 4:1-18

Today, three thoughts about “the treasure”:

I. The Nature of the Treasure

A. It’s the glory of God in the person/gospel of Christ (v.5-6)

B. It is seen by others (v.4)

  • Hidden in plain sight to some
  • Recognizable to others

II. The Container of the Treasure

The Holy Spirit in us compared to the Old Covenant is like the sun compared to the moon

A. It’s made of clay (us) (v.7)

  • Fashioned by the Potter
  • Common in substance

B. It’s perishable (v.16)

  • Breakable
  • Will wear out over time

C. It’s visible (v.10-11) (manifested in us)

III. The Durability of the Treasure

Re-read verses v.16

A. It’s renewed day-by-day (from glory-to-glory 3:18)

B. It’s independently true – the gospel doesn’t require cultural approval to be true

C. It’s eternal (v.18) – the glory is forever

IV. Conclusion

Question – How do you view yourself as you carry the gospel? Are you carrying?


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – “The Nightlight Verses” – Part 4 (5/19/19)

II Corinthians 3:7-18

Intro: “Considering the Moon”

  • God created it as the “lesser light”
  • Night-time illumination
  • Oceans and tides
  • Beauty – the ancients even worshipped

Today as we continue to look at the “Nightlight verses”, we’re going to consider the comparison of light and reflection:

Read 3:7-18

(Explanation of Moses and the veil)

I. The Glory of the Old Covenant

A. It’s light was a reflection (no power of its own-like the moon)

B. It’s light guided and illuminated the darkness

  • Direction
  • Clarity

C. It’s light was beautiful to behold (like the moon, some worshipped it instead of the Creator/Giver

II. The Glory of the New Covenant

The Holy Spirit in us compared to the Old Covenant is like the sun compared to the moon

A. His presence is living (organic fire of the sun)

B. His presence guides and illuminates

  • Better than the moon (brighter light – more clarity)
  • Provides elements for life on earth (photosynthesis)

C. His presence is beautiful to behold (natural connection)

III. The Glory of Life in the New Covenant

Re-read verses 17-18

Utilizing an old maxim (Augustine), “In essentials, unity, in non-essentials, liberty, in all things, charity”

A. In essentials unity – where scripture the speaks we stand; salvation, morality, God’s attributes, prophecy, and strive for unity

B. In non-essentials liberty – where the scripture doesn’t speak; we look for principles, consistency, but remember liberty

C. In all things charity (love) – should be our basic operating model

IV. Conclusion

Question – Does the light of His presence shine through you? Is it under a basket or covered up by anything?


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – “The Nightlight Verses” – Part 3 (Mother’s Day) (5/12/19)

II Corinthians 3:1-6

Intro: “Endorsements”

  • Celebrities – For years they have endorsed products
  • Magazines – “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” or Consumer Reports
  • Radio Hosts – Clark Howard or stock market/finance advice

In Corinth, there was a situation that involved endorsement:

  • Judaizers bringing “letters of commendation” from Jerusalem
  • They also criticized Paul as one who didn’t have a letter from Jerusalem
  • The goal was to undermine Paul’s credibility

Read 3:1-6

Two main points (time abbreviated for Mother’s Day activities):

I. The Question of Paul’s Endorsement

A. Rhetorical question, “Are we just commending ourselves?” has implied answer of “No”

B. The people were his endorsement

  • They were an epistle (told a story)
  • They were exhibit A (evidence)

C. They were written by the Holy Spirit

D. His confidence was in Christ, not people’s compliments or affirmation

E. He drew sufficiency from Christ for the work

F. He ministered in “Spirit life” and liberty, not legalism

Next, I want to draw a parallel to motherhood:

II. Heavenly Endorsement of Motherhood

The worldly culture has been attempting to re-define motherhood since the 1960s. For example:

  • Feminism
  • Abortion rights
  • Transgenderism
  • Gender roles and fluidity

The question is, “Are we just endorsing Biblical motherhood on our own?” and the answer is “No”.

A. The children are the endorsement (given by God)

B. Written on the heart of a mom (she has a unique, God-designed connection)

C. The Holy Spirit is the judge (not peer culture)

D. The confidence for the work should come from Christ (not the end results)

E. You are sufficient in Christ and not measured by others

F. You are to parent in the “Spirit life” of liberty (and not by the boxes and definitions of the world)

III. Conclusion

Special prayer time for mothers


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – “The Nightlight Verses” – Part 2 (5/5/19)

II Corinthians 2:1-17


  • Revisit “What’s true in the light is true in the dark” and major points from ch.1
  • After Paul encouraged the church to forgive and restore their brother who had sinned, he turned his attention to encouraging their daily walk

Read 2:12-13

Three points about the daily journey:

I. Distraction and Restlessness can Come Anytime

A. Titus – Someone and something (mission) close to Paul’s heart

B. The “open door” should have made him feel positive and affirmed

C. After some time he simply pushed on (not necessarily prescriptive verses but descriptive of his pattern)

Read verse 14-16a

II. There is the Reality of Christ’s Victory

  • Word-picture relates to “Roman Triumph” processional with conquering general coming home from foreign battle with captives
  • Captives are being displayed and led to their impending death in the Circus Maximus
  • The pagan priests would be among the parade with burning censures of incense
  • Large scale event with people coming from out of town
  • The fragrance of the incense was a reminder of pride for those on the Roman side and impending death for the captives

A. Fragrance to God (altar/sacrifice history)

B. Fragrance to those being saved (kindred bond among the church locally and globally)

C. Fragrance to those perishing (sobering reality of their status)

Read verses 16b-17

III. Sincerity is the Goal not “Salesmanship”

Rhetorical question, “Who is adequate to do this?” with the implied answer of “nobody”

A. “The word of God” (stick to the scripture)

B. “From God” (His word is authoritative)

C. “In the sight of God”

  • The power is in Christ, not in one’s self, ability or determination
  • Sincerity is the confidence that comes with speaking truth

IV. Conclusion

Questions: “Is there distractions or discouragement hindering your walk?”


“Bearing Light in a Dark World” – “The Nightlight Verses” (4/28/19)

II Corinthians 1:1-24


  • I Corinthians addresses the “general darkness” of culture
  • II Corinthians addresses the “personal darkness” that often comes on the spiritual journey
  • Darkness can bring fear, etc.
  • However, “What’s true in the light is true in the dark.”
  • Personal story – “walls creaking at night”

I’m calling the letter of “2 Corinthians” “The Nightlight Verses”

Read verses 1-11

Four things to remember when “the lights go out” in life and darkness creeps in:

I. Remember Who You Serve (V.3-7)

A. His nature is kind (Jesus referenced Holy Spirit as Helper, (Comforter)

B. His presence is personal (real and relating to you in your moments and circumstances)

II. Remember, it’s Ok to be Normal (v.8)

Re-read 13-14

A. We have our limits (beyond strength)

B. We will not have all the answers (despair)

C. We may not even know the next step (trust Him and don’t be anxious)

Read 12-24

III. Remember the Simple Things (v.12)

A. Don’t “outgrow” your faith

B. Resist the temptation of “sophistication” (it’s ok to be viewed as “simple”

IV. Remember His Guarantee (v.20)

A. He makes promises and keeps them

B. He establishes us (makes our steps solid)

C. He sealed us (a done transaction)

V. Conclusion

Questions: What part of the “dark” brings you anxiety or frustration?

  • What is your perspective on stewardship?
  • What is your focus? Is there diligence in the right things?
  • What are your expectations? Control? Grace? Love?


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