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Summary: In this lesson we will be challenged and convicted by Paul's sufferings in service to the Lord. How much are we willing to suffer and sacrifice?

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Introduction:

A. Today is Mother’s Day, so we want to take a moment to honor the mothers among us.

1. William Goldsmith Brown wrote: “The sweetest sounds to mortals given, Are heard in Mother, Home, and Heaven.”

2. Thank God for moms – the good ones and the not so good ones – the ones who have gone before us and the ones who are still with us.

3. Prayer

B. Last weekend was our annual youth rally, and what a great time it was.

1. I want to express our appreciation to Jon for his good work and leadership.

2. And I want to thank all the servants who worked hard to make it such a positive experience.

3. Praise God for your generous outpouring of money, food, time, and hospitality.

4. Every investment we make in our youth will produce great dividends in the future.

C. Today we want to return to our “Learning to Lean on God” sermon series from 2 Corinthians.

1. In today’s Scripture section we want to notice Paul’s credentials as an apostle.

2. What was it that made him the real deal, while his opponents there in Corinth were imposters?

D. Are you able to recognize an imposter when you see one?

1. Here’s a few cartoons to help us get to thinking about recognizing imposters.

2. Which is the real mouse in this cartoon?

3. Can you tell which of these is not a real bunny?

4. Can you identify which is not a real penguin?

5. Can you tell if this is really a shark or a goldfish?

6. Here’s one more cartoon: The investigator said, “Good job, Mrs. Dale. When did you realize the contractor was an imposter?” She replied, “When he showed up on time.”

E. When I was growing up, I used to like to watch a TV show called “To Tell the Truth.” Do any of you remember that show?

1. The show challenged a panel of four celebrities to correctly identify a contestant who typically had an unusual occupation or experience.

2. This central character was joined by two imposters who pretended to be that central character.

3. The celebrity panelists questioned the team of challengers. The imposters were allowed to lie, but the central character was sworn “to tell the truth.”

4. After the questioning was complete, each member of the panel voted for which of the challengers they believed to be the central character.

5. Once the votes were cast, the host asked, “Will the real [person's name] please stand up?”

6. The central character then would stand, often after some brief playful feinting and false starts among all three challengers.

7. Prize money was awarded to the challengers based on the number of incorrect votes the impostors drew.

F. Today as we work our way through the text, we will be asking “will the real ‘Super-Apostle’ please stand up.”

1. What was it that made Paul the most authentic apostle and servant of the Lord?

2. As we answer that question, we will be challenged to examine our own authenticity as a follower of Jesus. How real is our discipleship?

I. Understanding the Word

A. One of the things we will notice as we work through this chapter is that Paul will have to do some things that are completely distasteful to him.

1. Paul is going to have to draw attention to himself, and Paul is going to have to compare himself with his opponents in Corinth – he is not comfortable with either of these practices.

2. We will see him apologize every time he engaged in these practices.

B. Let’s read verses 1 – 6: I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that. 2I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. 5But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those "super-apostles." 6I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. (2 Cor. 11:1-6)

1. Paul began by using a vivid picture from Jewish marriage customs.

a. Paul imagined himself as the father of the bride, arranging a marriage for his daughter.

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