Church research has revealed that before the pandemic, only three percent of churches in our country were experiencing measurable numerical growth. This growth was in churches bent on making disciples and spiritually reproducing. Ninety-seven percent of churches were in some form of plateau, decline, or process of closure. When the pandemic hit, these churches struggled even more.
There are two things common to all of us of faith: Jesus Christ and daily struggle. If you are in Christ, you struggle in the most unique and difficult ways. This is the reality of following Jesus. In 1 Peter 4:10-11, we see that a common Christ and a common struggle causes us to embrace a common encouragement in all of its varied and wonderful forms.
We will continue to study how the flock cares for itself and is instructed by grace in 2 Corinthians 8:4-6.
The word “grace” begins this section in verse 1 and also appears as “favor” and “gracious” in this passage. Since God’s Word is unchanging, grace teaches every believer how to give in the same way through the Spirit of God. The verb “gave” reverberates through descriptions of intention, motivation, and methodology of how the Macedonians gave.
God’s nature is unity (Deuteronomy 6:4). When we are baptized into Christ, we are one with Him and with each other spiritually (John 17:11, 20-22). David and Solomon both praised the importance of unity among God’s people (Psalm 133:1, Proverbs 6:17-19). Anyone who dismisses the unity God has created and spreads strife unnecessarily is considered an abomination. The job of believers in the church is to maintain the unity of the Spirit in peace (Ephesians 4:3, Philippians 4:2). God’s people love what God has provided and persevere in unity.
As we continue to study 2 Corinthians 1, we will see what Paul's ministry meant to interdependent relationships within the church. All the promises of God for personal relationships in the church are presented, received, and fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, Christian relationships can and should thrive in Him. This does not mean there will be no struggle; but healing and progress can always be found in the Gospel. The unwavering nature of the Gospel message helps us regain spiritual confidence after conflict.
2 Corinthians finds its author, Paul, defending his mission against threats to Gospel progress. His goal with the Corinthian believers to whom he was writing was to remain ministry partners even through relational difficulty while enjoying mutual comfort from God. Their unity in Christ was greater than anything that would divide them.
God places us in each of our specific contexts for an eternal purpose (1 Corinthians 12:18, Matthew 28:19-20).
Unity in Christ's body is maintained by more than individual behavior and relationships. It is maintained by having a unified mission.
Humans need to be together and to celebrate something bigger than themselves. We also need to be together as God's people. We prepare to be with each other, and we enjoy being with our Christian family. Our unity is based on our position in Christ and our disposition produced by the fruit of the Spirit.
Our theme for the year will be "Doing Divine Things Together."
The book of Matthew has 5 discourses and 5 narrative sections presenting Christ as the King. Our passage today is part of the Sermon on the Mount, which is not new information. As one author described, "It is the wisdom of God inviting all of us through faith to orient our vision, values, and habits from the ways of external righteousness to wholeheartedness towards God. Jesus' method of teaching uses thematic structures, images, and poetic language to allow His listeners more simple ways to remember, meditate on, and memorize Christ's heart on how to live every day."
At first reading, Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 seems to advocate being a little bit wicked. But this interpretation would not fit with the rest of Scripture. Instead, Solomon is showing that excessively applying righteousness and piling on wickedness are both dangerous. We should not come to conclusions about a person's character too quickly.
Looking for Jesus Christ's return motivates us to live in a proper manner. Faithful living is personal and characterized by a loving disposition and moral behavior. God is faithful to enable you to grow on your own, but He also wants you to be helped by others in a local church family. This interdependence will have a supernatural influence inside and outside the church.
As we finish Paul's list of greetings for those who are "in Christ," consider which description you identify with. What is your role in the pursuit of Gospel progress?
Knowing our history and considering the future both bring us closer to each other and the Lord.
The Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8, is God's assignment for the church. The task of reaching the world with the name of Christ is bigger than any individual. It is even bigger than the collective group of believers. This task requires the power of God. Thankfully, that which God calls us to, He also empowers us to do. As we continue to grow spiritually, God does the work to accomplish His eternal mission.
Good coaches emphasize the fundamentals because they are essential for success. At the end of chapter 3, Paul gives a parenthetical reminder to Timothy. If the churches that Timothy oversees at Ephesus are to have spiritual success, they must stay focused on their mission.
Three Greek words are used interchangeably to describe one position of leadership in the church. In English, these are translated as pastor, teacher, overseer or elder. 1 Timothy 3 describes the character that should exist among leadership families.
In 1 Timothy 2, Paul moves from philosophy to practical instruction for Timothy and the Ephesian churches. What would you say is the most important thing for a new church? Paul says the number-one priority for the church is prayer, with a primarily evangelistic focus. Our responsibility to the state is to pray for the salvation of our leaders.
Carbon fiber is ten times as strong as steel and one third the weight. Because of these properties, the airplane industry is using it to make more lightweight, durable jets. Likewise, the church is much stronger and can move forward with much less burden when it is well-taught and holds to proper doctrine. The Christian life can be hard, but it would be much more difficult if we didn't preach a proper Gospel.
We continue to follow Timothy's journey as he learns how God builds His church. The normative pattern we see in the book of Acts is not churches being grown around programs or a person. God's primary way to grow a church is through people getting saved as a result of believers interacting with the unsaved. A church grown around the Bible will have the desire to plant other churches, then network together to reach even more regions in the world.
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