Lord of all power and might,
the author and giver of all good things:
graft in our hearts the love of your name,
increase in us true religion,
nourish us with all goodness,
and of your great mercy keep us in the same;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
2 Corinthians 12
It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
I have been a fool! You forced me to it. Indeed you should have been the ones commending me, for I am not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, signs and wonders and mighty works. How have you been worse off than the other churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!
Here I am, ready to come to you this third time. And I will not be a burden, because I do not want what is yours but you; for children ought not to lay up for their parents, but parents for their children. I will most gladly spend and be spent for you. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? Let it be assumed that I did not burden you. Nevertheless (you say) since I was crafty, I took you in by deceit. Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Titus did not take advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves with the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?
Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves before you? We are speaking in Christ before God. Everything we do, beloved, is for the sake of building you up. For I fear that when I come, I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish; I fear that there may perhaps be quarrelling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. I fear that when I come again, my God may humble me before you, and that I may have to mourn over many who previously sinned and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness that they have practised.
Blessed are those whose way is pure,
who walk in the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies
and seek him with their whole heart,
Those who do no wickedness,
but walk in his ways.
You, O Lord, have charged
that we should diligently keep your commandments.
O that my ways were made so direct
that I might keep your statutes.
Then should I not be put to shame,
because I have regard for all your commandments.
I will thank you with an unfeigned heart,
when I have learned your righteous judgements.
I will keep your statutes;
O forsake me not utterly.
How shall young people cleanse their way
to keep themselves according to your word?
With my whole heart have I sought you;
O let me not go astray from your commandments.
Your words have I hidden within my heart,
that I should not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
O teach me your statutes.
With my lips have I been telling
of all the judgements of your mouth.
I have taken greater delight in the way of your testimonies
than in all manner of riches.
I will meditate on your commandments
and contemplate your ways.
My delight shall be in your statutes
and I will not forget your word.
O do good to your servant that I may live,
and so shall I keep your word.
Open my eyes, that I may see
the wonders of your law.
I am a stranger upon earth;
hide not your commandments from me.
My soul is consumed at all times
with fervent longing for your judgements.
You have rebuked the arrogant;
cursed are those who stray from your commandments.
Turn from me shame and rebuke,
for I have kept your testimonies.
Rulers also sit and speak against me,
but your servant meditates on your statutes.
For your testimonies are my delight;
they are my faithful counsellors.
My soul cleaves to the dust;
O give me life according to your word.
I have acknowledged my ways and you have answered me;
O teach me your statutes.
Make me understand the way of your commandments,
and so shall I meditate on your wondrous works.
My soul melts away in tears of sorrow;
raise me up according to your word.
Take from me the way of falsehood;
be gracious to me through your law.
I have chosen the way of truth
and your judgements have I laid before me.
I hold fast to your testimonies;
O Lord, let me not be put to shame.
I will run the way of your commandments,
when you have set my heart at liberty.