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."
Ecclesiastes 8:12-17 are addressed primarily to the wise employee of a despotic king. Though we are not all government employees, all of God's people can learn a wise disposition while we live under human government from these verses.
Psalm 6 meditates on a difficult Christian endeavor: responding while under the disciplinary hand of the Lord. This endeavor is the sole property of people who have been transformed by Jesus into the often-uncomfortable condition of being lifelong learners, lovers, and worshipers. The joy of learning often includes the negative experience of shame, stifling our own pride, and enduring the consequences of our sin.
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.
It's easy to feel defeated when we see wickedness in the world. How can a loving God allow such evil to prevail? What must the righteous keep in mind to combat the anger and rage at wickedness?
The question posed in Psalm 11:3 addresses a human need. The wickedness around David, the writer of this Psalm, threatened to undermine the foundations of the nation of Israel, God's people. In our day, it seems that the foundations of our country are being threatened as well. The foundations of the church are undermined when many Protestant denominations deny the authority of Scripture, the sanctity of marriage, and the sacred nature of human sexuality as God defines it. Personally, at times it seems that the foundations of one's life are being destroyed by loss of health, financial security, or valued relationships.
In such uncertain times, the righteous take refuge in the Lord! David unpacks 4 activities that the righteous practice in order to take refuge in the Lord.
Romans 12:9-16’s list of responsibilities may seem to have no rhyme or reason to their order, but they fit into the chapter context perfectly. Romans 12 begins the practical portion of the book as we seek to live God’s glorious gospel outlined in Romans 1-11. If the chapter is a 3-story house, verses 1-2 are the foundation. Verses 3-8 are the first floor named Community. The second floor, verses 9-16, is about Compassion. Verses 17-21 address our Commission.
Psalm 73:3 expresses a feeling that most Christians experience after they have been saved for a while: "I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked." Job expressed the same thought in Job 21:7-20. This is especially challenging in a culture where sinful lifestyles are celebrated.
Psalm 73 addresses the issue of why the wicked prosper, but without answering the question. It answers the deeper question of why the righteous envy the wicked and what the solution is for that.
As humans, we need to understand the axioms of existence. What is the big picture? What are the fundamental presuppositions of the universe? As we read the book of Psalms, what is the underlying galvanizing reality that underpins them all?
Independence Day weekend is filled with national interest, with many looking to our government for happiness. Psalm 1, however, identifies the individual and their relationship to God's Word as the true source of happiness. Your relationship to God’s Word determines your state of being.
Romans 5:12-21 concludes the first major section of this book. Alva J. McClain said about these verses, "A constant reading of this passage, under the leadership of the Spirit of God, never fails to bear fruit." It is a refrain of the blessings of justification in Paul's presentation of the Gospel.
Hebrews 11:6 says that faith is essential to please God. Many claim to have faith that helps them through difficult times. But there is a difference between religious faith and saving faith. True saving faith can calm us in the midst of earthly storms and save our souls for eternity. Salvation always comes by faith in Christ.
In the church of Rome, the religious element was asking questions about the Gospel and good works. Paul is answering for anyone who came from a religious background that emphasized good works.
When a natural disaster is coming, human organizations spend a lot of time and effort getting ready to withstand it safely. Rehearsing the core doctrine of justification was necessary preparation for the Roman believers about to face severe persecution under Nero. Christ and what He has done for us through the Gospel is our only anchor in any affliction.
Knowing intellectual data about Jesus is not enough to save a person. Nicodemus was a learned Jewish teacher, but he still did not possess saving faith until he knew what it meant to be born again (John 3:1-21). The longest 18 inches is the distance from the head to the heart, from knowing about Jesus to placing our full faith in and submitting to Christ.
The world likes to ask why bad things happen to good people, but the more appropriate question is why good things happen to bad people. Romans 1-3 comprehensively shows that all unbelievers are equally lost, whether they are religious, moralists, or irreligious. Those who think they have some good in them are actually the most wicked in God's eyes. No one can be saved unless they believe themselves to be the worst of sinners.
Children who grow up without a father suffer various negative repercussions. The presence and approval of a father is a natural need. Spiritually, every person has been estranged from the Heavenly Father of our own choice. Through sin, God's children have abandoned Him and His natural affection for them. Various religions and efforts of good works try to devise ways back to God, but there is only one way that relationship can be restored.
In Daniel 6:26-27, the pagan king Darius gave praise to the Lord of Israel because of the testimony of Daniel. Daniel's life demonstrates the fact that God will honor those who stand for Him in the most trying times. Even as a teenager, Daniel demonstrated godly courage, loyalty, humility, and integrity. He lived up to his name, meaning "God is my judge," and gained the trust and affection of his superiors.
On days of remembrance, the reality is especially poignant that our freedom is never free. In the history of this country, God has not primarily used religious or political leaders to safeguard liberty; He uses the sacrifices of men and women in the armed forces to secure our freedom.
Spiritual liberty, too, was bought at a high price. Jesus Christ paid his life for our eternal freedom.
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.
From $426 billion spent annually on beauty products to the prevalence of child beauty pageants, Americans are infatuated with what makes a beautiful appearance. Many people have varying opinions on what makes a person beautiful. If "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," whose gaze should we concern ourselves with? God is the final judge of whether or not a person is beautiful.
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