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.
Did you know that one-third of the Psalms are laments? These honest struggles with difficult circumstances were sung by the congregation of Israel in corporate worship. We don't often pray like that today, especially in a corporate setting. What can we learn from these prayers that were inspired and preserved for us in God's Word?
Why do bad things happen to good people? We know there are no truly good people, but we still wrestle when it seems justice is not being served. We want God to honor people who obey. Jesus addresses this idea of "retribution theology" in today's passage, Luke 13:1-17.
No one enjoys growing pains, but most would rather have pain than not be growing. The Bible repeatedly tells us that painful times are divinely appointed for our growth. As we go through these times, God’s grace is an unlimited available resource we can utilize in every natural rhythm of life. God’s grace saves us and continues to compel us to grow in our Christian walk.
Last week, we studied the believer's reality of possessing great spiritual treasure (2 Corinthians 4:7). The rest of our passage describes further realities that believers are assumed to enjoy.
We are familiar with Psalm 66:18: "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." We need to understand it in its context. Often, this verse makes us question whether God hears our prayers; however, the following verses show that the psalmist had assurance that God heard his prayer because he was not one who cherished sin in his heart. The main emphasis of this psalm is the need to give praise to God. In fact, 14 different ways to praise God are mentioned in this psalm. We can be assured that if God would hear our prayer, then He must hear our praise.
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.
God always and in every place enables us to carry on effective ministry despite difficulties.
The psalmbook of Israel was divided into 5 sections. Book 5 contains many anonymous psalms and some by David. A common theme of these authors is deriving hope from the guaranteed future for the nation of Israel. Their eschatological message is, "it's going to be okay."
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.
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.
Three Gospel writers record the narrative found in Mark 6:45-52. Mark writes with his theme in mind: Jesus as servant (Mark 10:45).
We are learning from Solomon how to live simply in the margin of mystery created by the unpredictability of life. Ecclesiastes 9:11-18 warns us not to trust our personal ability or opportunities.
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.
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.
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 have divided the third chapter of Ecclesiastes into 3 sections.
This week, we will examine several plain truths to apply God's wisdom to our lives.
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.
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