Too many pastors have been measured by worldly standards of success in this past year in the midst of all the distractions life and culture have brought our way. The real measure of successful ministry is what the all-powerful grace of God is doing in people's lives. Only Jesus Christ can transform a life so completely.
God always and in every place enables us to carry on effective ministry despite difficulties.
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.
We can receive comfort from others in dark times. This is one of God's good gifts to us. But there is only one place to find soul rest. Jesus is the exclusive source of ultimate comfort.
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.
We are studying the third section of Ecclesiastes, which instructs us on how to rejoice in hard times. Joy is the reality of the believer who lives in the blessed will of God (Ecclesiastes 8:15). With the proper perspective, believers can enjoy all God's good gifts, but if distracted from eternal purpose, we will doubt the integrity of God and His providence.
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 are expected to pursue human wisdom and enjoy that pursuit while understanding that only God's wisdom will satisfy us in Jesus Christ.
Our theme for 2019 will be "Looking and Living." The expectation of seeing our Lord Jesus Christ is always attached to our living (Titus 2:11-15).
Psalm 3 and 4 show us David's struggle to find peace in threatening circumstances. Psalm 3 is his prayer about the physical threat of his son Absalom's coup. Psalm 4 is likely connected and addresses the threat of permanent harm to David's reputation. David's prayer, perspective, and poise are an example of how we can find peace regardless of our circumstances.
Romans 8 concludes with a strong emphasis on the truth that God's children can experience no separation from the love of Christ. If God's love is enough to hold the whole body together, how much more so will it hold individual believers eternally secure! There are no people or circumstances that can separate us from God's love.
We continue to study the hymn of security and assurance in Romans 8:31-39.
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.
“Are we there yet?” Children have no concept of time. How much greater is the gap between our understanding of time and God's. Our lives are as brief as a vapor compared to God’s eternality (James 4:14). What should we do with the time we are given?
In our study of how to please God through our whole life, we are beginning with the spirit – the part of us that is being renewed against the effects of sin. Those who are born again have a new nature that is fed through our devotion to prayer and reading God's Word.
One writer said, "Whatever causes us to pray is a good thing." The Bible is chock-full of examples of God's people praying to Him. In John 17, we read an example of Jesus Himself praying. Christ relied heavily on prayer to sustain His life and ministry. His prayer in this passage shows the purpose of His life. We too can find particular purpose for our lives by studying this prayer and praying similarly.
Our theme for the year is Living Worship-Filled Lives. Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us to present our whole selves to God as a logical act of worship. This includes times of corporate worship and personal worship in prayer and reading God’s Word. But we also worship as we go about our lives, showing the fruit of what we’ve learned. The integrity of our lives should mirror how we worship on the Lord’s Day.
As we prepare to study the Pastoral Epistles, we’ll begin by learning about Timothy, to whom Paul wrote two letters. Understanding Timothy’s character helps us understand the content of the letters written to him.
As Joseph waited in prison, God still had not brought to pass the dream He gave Joseph when he was 17 years old (Gen. 37). Joseph was now 30 years old and had spent over half of his life waiting for God to fulfill His promise that he would rule over his brothers. Meanwhile, he has been faithful with what God has given him, both position and promises. From his youth, Joseph was faithful to God’s Word, even when it got him in trouble. And in His own timing, God would exalt him.
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