We must pray if we would continue to live as Christians. Prayer is a vital means of maintaining a healthy and vibrant faith and it is essential to our joy. Some of us may look back at 2018 and feel like we made significant strides in our relationship with the Lord through prayer. Others of us may presently feel like our prayer life is pretty dry, barren and stale. No matter who you are, we all have room to improve in prayer. All of us can do better at being more diligent in our prayer life. So this morning our goal is to refresh our prayer lives through studying an example of a great prayer. One of the ways we learn to do something is by seeing it modeled for us. We watch, we listen and then attempt to do it ourselves. We can be apprenticed in prayer by Paul through reading and studying his prayers.
One of the best things that accompanies Christmas is a season and spirit of love among human beings. You can’t have Christmas in any meaningful way without love. This love at Christmas manifests itself among other ways, through giving of gifts and sacrificial generosity. And even these have their genesis, their beginning in God. Christmas is a season of love and generosity because God is loving and generous. God loves us and Christmas is about the love of God being made manifest through his Son.
We all yearn for peace and yet, often peace often eludes us. Peace eludes us because we misunderstand what peace is and hence, turn to the wrong things to find peace. True peace is found in the wholeness of relationship with the God who made us. True peace is being reconciled unto God and dwelling in his presence under His reign forever. And Christmas is about God making peace with us.
God makes our joy possible in our earthly circumstances by directing us to place our joy not in things but in Him. He offers us Joy in Christ and joy in Christ is the highest and most satisfying joy.That is why the message of Christmas is one of profound joy. Christmas is good news of a great joy. A great joy that will endure this season and every season into eternity. A joy that is steadfast and immovable. A joy that our hearts long for. A joy that satisfies like nothing else.
Forgiveness is difficult. Each week we struggle with forgiving others while simultaneously struggling with our need to be forgiven. This is a tension we live in. Each week brings opportunity to ask for forgiveness and extend forgiveness. But we rarely do it. This week we examine Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness and we learn what forgiveness is and is not and how to forgive from the heart.
The purpose of your life is to image God, to be in relationship with him and bring Him glory through enjoying Him. And in the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus is speaking to his disciples and the crowd and introduces two metaphors to create a picture of what our earthly lives are meant for. Jesus says his followers were created to be salt and light. We glorify God by being salt and light in this rotten, dark world. Our lives were made to be a means of preserving and illuminating the world with the light of Christ and bring glory to our Father.
The church is the body of Christ, the family of God. The church universal is every person that has been reconciled to God through saving faith in Jesus. And the church has been commissioned with a task, namely, to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded us. That is our mission. And it comes straight from the Lord to us.
This morning we conclude our study in 1 Corinthians. We’ve spent the past 8 months examining God’s instructions and corrections to this quite dysfunctional church in Corinth. And as we wrap up, we're reminded of some of the themes of the letter. The main theme and big picture of the letter is God calling his people, his church, to unity. Unity around the gospel of Jesus Christ, unity in our pursuit of holiness and righteous character, unity in our doctrine- which comes from God’s Word not the culture or our experiences, unity in our worship- everything we do should be edifying for everyone, not done according to personal preference or style- and we should be a people united in the sure hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is teaching us what will happen to us when Jesus returns. Everyone in Christ receives the benefits of Jesus' victory over sin and death. Regardless of if we are alive when Jesus returns or have passed away, we all shall be fitted with a new body, a heavenly body that is fit for our new eternal dwelling. Our mortal bodies as they are now, are not fit for Heaven. But God shall give us new bodies that are perfectly suited for our eternal future. And with our future secure, we are freed to live radically for Christ and His Kingdom knowing that none of our work or efforts for His Kingdom are in vain but shall all be rewarded.
At this very moment, Jesus exists in bodily form. He is not a floating spirit. He has a heavenly, glorified body and one day, we shall too. When we talk about growing in Christlikeness and the effects of Jesus' resurrection, we are not only talking about God transforming our attitude, character, hearts and minds. We are also talking about our bodies becoming like his glorious, resurrected body. The triumph of Christ secures not only the salvation of our souls but the redemption of our bodies. And in our text today the Apostle Paul is going to build this idea out for us.