With the Valley Creek staff in a period of transition, I wanted to provide an update concerning the immediate future of VC Devotionals. There will be an indefinite (but hopefully brief) pause in the posting of devotionals while a new schedule is devised. This pause will take effect beginning January 1, 2023. If you aren’t already subscribed to VC Devotionals emails, then go ahead and take a minute to do that so you won’t miss anything when posting resumes. And if you’d like to continue following along with the daily readings, you can find the Bible reading plan below.
Thank you for reading VC Devotionals.
Read 2 Corinthians 7.
What’s love got to do with it? It’s complicated. That much is clear from 2 Corinthians 7–love is complicated. Here Paul urges the Corinthians to make room in their hearts for him, confessing both the joy and the anguish that comes from his concern for them. Love is complicated. Paul doesn’t regret that his letter grieved them, except he did regret it, just not that much because they weren’t grieved for all that long. It’s complicated. Titus was refreshed and Paul rejoiced because of his visit with the Corinthians. Love is complicated–joy, anguish, regret, comfort. Or as it’s said elsewhere, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” To say that love is at the core of who we are in Christ is simple enough, but living that out in relationship and community is anything but simple. What Paul’s words to the Corinthians model for us is an unwavering commitment to choose love even when life gets complicated and messy. Love doesn’t avoid the mess. Love keeps showing up. None of us know what next year will bring, but what we can decide now is what the words of Paul model for us–that we’ll pursue love through whatever comes.
Read 2 Corinthians 6.
What’s love got to do with it? Paul’s heart is wide open to the Corinthians, and he’s inviting them to widen their hearts as well. This, he does, as if speaking to children, urging them not to receive the grace of God in vain. Paul’s concern for the Corinthians is like that of a parent for a child–genuine and unending–and it mirrors God’s approach to his people as a father who draws near to welcome them and walk among them. God’s love motivated Paul’s love, and in writing to the Corinthians, his hope seems to be that we would open our hearts to receive that same love from God. As beloved children of God, our hearts ought to be wide open to loving others as well. Is yours?
Read 2 Corinthians 5.
What’s love got to do with it? Love is the controlling force of the Christian life. Love is what leads us to see one another in a new way, through Christ who reconciles us to God and has made us ambassadors of his reconciling love. Love is how it started–”for God so loved the world”–and love is how it’s going–”the love of Christ controls us.” That is, at least, how it’s supposed to be going. There are areas in each of our lives where fear has wrestled control from love, making our message one that ruptures rather than reconciles. Will you join me in asking the Spirit to show us where those areas are and to lead us to see every person through the lens of love?
Read 2 Corinthians 4.
What’s love got to do with it? Paul’s making it clear to the Corinthian believers that the way of Jesus is not easy–afflicted in every way, perplexed, persecuted, stuck down, and given over to death for Jesus’ sake. Why? Because the god of this world has blinded the hearts and minds of unbelievers to the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. With such a dire assessment of the situation, we might wonder why Paul was willing to endure so much difficulty as he followed Jesus. He tells us why in verse 15–it’s for love. Or as he says it, “ For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” Paul was motivated by his love for others and his mission to see grace extended more and more. He had seen the power of the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and he would not be distracted or deterred by anything. More grace. More gratitude. More glory for God. How does your love for others fuel your endurance in grace and gratitude?
Read 2 Corinthians 3.
What’s love got to do with it? The guiding principle of this chapter is clear: we become like what we behold. That which we value, that which we celebrate, is the destination toward which our lives are headed. That’s why Paul could call the Corinthians a “letter of recommendation, written on our hearts.” Paul’s ministry was reflected in the Corinthians’ lives, and beyond that, Christ is reflected in the lives of those who love him and set our faces toward him, “ And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” What you love matters. It shapes who you are and who you are becoming. Are we becoming more like Jesus?
Read 2 Corinthians 2.
What’s love got to do with it? Paul urges the believers in Corinth to forgive. It’s unclear exactly what the offense is, but the general principle of Paul’s teaching surely applies to us. Grudges may seem easy to hold, but they don’t come without a cost. So, Paul urges the Corinthians to reaffirm their love for the one who had caused them pain instead of being outwitted by Satan. Forgiveness is the way of Jesus. To whom might you need to extend forgiveness and reaffirm your love today?
Read 2 Corinthians 1.
What’s love got to do with it? Just as John wrote in 1 John that we love because God first loved us, Paul tells us here that we comfort one another because God first comforted us. In this season of celebration, those who are hurting or grieving can feel more alone than ever. First, for those who bear the weight of suffering and grief today, Paul’s words offer the comfort to you that God is near when we are suffering. You are not alone. Second, for those who through Christ have shared abundantly in comfort, Paul’s words prompt us to see and to notice those who need the comforting presence of a friend. Send a text. Write a note. Make a call. Meet for coffee. Comfort others with the same comfort you’ve received from God.
Read 1 Corinthians 16.
What’s love got to do with it? Well, everything. As Paul lays down his final instructions to the believers before closing his letter, he strings together a list of exhortations that conclude with this one: “Let all that you do be done in love.” In other words, Paul is reminding us of 1 Corinthians 13, that anything done apart from love isn’t worth doing at all. Our struggle is that we live in a world that tells us we have to choose love OR the other things Paul tells us are important–standing firm, acting like men, and being strong. Some would argue that the harsh realities of our world sometimes require us to choose strength over love, and as a result, they wind up justifying words and actions that are not loving at all. Let’s be careful to avoid that trap and to remember the way to which we’ve been called, truly letting all that we do be done in love. Let’s be willing to measure each word, each action, against this simple standard: is it loving?
Read 1 Corinthians 15.
What’s love got to do with it? Love is never wasted. Or to be more specific, the grace of God is never wasted. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the story of God’s grace made visible, and the lives we live by faith in Jesus are not in vain either. Paul’s argument is that the resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death guarantee our victory as we continue “the work of the Lord.” There are times when we may wonder if our efforts to proclaim the good news of Jesus with our words and our works is worth it. The resurrected Jesus reminds us that what looks like a dead end might just be the way to new life. And there’s only one way to find out:
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58, ESV