Paul's discussion of ministry with integrity permeates 2 Corinthians through chapter 7. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 can be divided into 5 sections which we will study over a couple weeks.
God always and in every place enables us to carry on effective ministry despite difficulties. 2 Corinthians 2:12-17 gives 4 truths we can use to maintain effective ministry as a church during these providentially difficult times. Last week, we looked at the first.
Paul makes the Corinthians believers aware of his own hardship in 2 Corinthians 1:6-11. We can benefit from other people's struggles. They encourage us to persevere and endure in our own walk of faith until Christ returns.
During this unique time in our world, we will suspend our regular series and instead look at passages that remind us of who God is, what He has done for us, and how He comforts us so we can comfort others. Our church family is personally and corporately strengthened as we continue to learn and live in the comfort of God.
The word "suffering" appears 16 times in the book of 1 Peter. The recipients of the letter came from different backgrounds and were facing the difficulty of persecution. Peter emphasizes God's grace as the only thing that helps in such times. It helps us stand firm and endure (1 Peter 5:12).
In our American church context, we are all wealthy compared to the rest of the world. So there is much for us to learn from Solomon's wisdom for wealthy people in this section of Ecclesiastes.
Many of us may not feel wealthy when we look at our budgets. The Bible says that we should be content with food, clothing, and shelter (1 Timothy 6:8). By that standard, especially compared to the majority of people in our world, we are an affluent group of people. Solomon gives wisdom for wealthy people to maintain our eternal purpose for living.
The next section of Ecclesiastes we will study is Ecclesiastes 6:1-8:15. The beginning of chapter 6 instructs us how to navigate life's apparent divine inequalities. The message of the book is consistent: God's people must persevere in enjoying God and His blessings, even when God seems unfair.
Solomon's examination of the apparent anomalies and contradictions that confront our lives every day continues in Ecclesiastes 4. Walter Kaiser describes the progression of thought from chapter 3 to chapter 4 as follows:
We long to see people we love. Christians love Jesus Christ because of all He has done for us, and we can't wait to see Him. Our anticipation of Christ motivates us to live in a way that pleases Him.
The longer you walk with the Lord as your Savior, the more you long to see Him face to face. This was true of both Simeon and Anna in Luke 2.
Psalm 12 expresses how David felt when he had been abandoned by godly friends. In Psalm 13, David is so alone, he feels he has been abandoned by God Himself. This feeling is prompted by the length of his suffering. Perseverance in a long time of difficulty is perhaps the most trying to our minds and hearts.
David's struggle will feel familiar to many people of God. In a marathon of trust, we often ask similar questions. Is God one who abandons? Through David's wrestling, we will learn that God's character and work confessed in prayer sustains us during long, drawn-out periods of suffering.
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?
Mothers are unique in their ability to influence each generation. In 2 Timothy 1:1-7, Paul memorializes a single critical trait that believing moms must prioritize. A mother's sincere faith is a powerful inducement for her children to to persevere.
Prayer is essential for physical protection and spiritual safety (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2). Our safety is not to be taken for granted. We have been investigating layers of spiritual protection from Romans 8 for those who are in Christ. Verses 33-34 ask two more questions without an immediate answer.
The next portion of Romans 8 compares temporary suffering to eternal glory. All Christians experience suffering in varying degrees: Some faithfully serve despite chronic illness; others grieve over a straying child, unsaved spouse or parent; some persevere after losing a faithful spouse; and many are waiting to see friends they love come to Christ.
Aspen, Colorado, has 6000 permanent residents, and 50 of them are billionaires. To some, living in Aspen is the height of material prosperity. However, people of spiritual virtue have different values. Godly moms in particular desire a spiritual home through which they may leave a faith that will remain through generations of their families to come.
At the end of his letter to the Romans, Paul names many individuals who were an encouragement to him in the Lord. Paul had not been to visit the churches in Rome, but he knew many believers who had evidently moved there. The list begins with a woman named Phoebe who likely delivered Paul's letter about AD 57 (Romans 16:1-2). Her inclusion, along with Priscilla and her husband Aquila in the next few verses, reminds us that women are very important to the essential ministry of disciple-making in the church.
The whole person includes a spirit, soul, and body. Our summer study seeks to understand each part and apply biblical principles to how we grow in each aspect. This will give us confidence that we are doing what we can to please the Lord.
The spirit is the image of God in a person (Genesis 2:7). It is what makes us an individual. This includes our moral ability, our rationality, our spirituality, and our personality. All of these can be pleasing to God. Jesus said we must worship with our spirit (John 4:23-24), and Paul personally worshiped God in his spirit (Romans 1:9). The development of our spirit is a necessity (Malachi 2:15).
Our theme this year is "A Zeal for the Church." We at Grace Church want to have an all-consuming desire for this local body to succeed spiritually. Anyone God has saved, He has a plan to use in the church. Our heart, soul, mind, and strength are to be utilized in living for His purposes. Paul calls this being sanctified "entirely" or completely.
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