Every one hopes in something; where are you placing your hope?
In his first epistle, Peter writes to a church that is enduring intense suffering because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Believers in the first century church in Asia faced beatings, imprisonment, execution and more because of their faith. Into such an existence, Peter speaks hope. But unlike the wishful hope the world offers, Peter speaks of a certain hope; a hope based upon the work of Christ.
As we look into Peter's letter to the church in Asia, we are faced with three questions:
- Why to we need a living hope?
- What is this living hope?
- How do I acquire this living hope?
May the Lord bless you as you listen to today's lesson.
In our modern culture, the formula for peace and happiness has become, beauty plus the "perfect" family plus the "perfect" job plus stuff plus success equals contentment. Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," is the motivational mantra to get what I want.
In contrast, if one were to look at the life of the apostle Paul, we would expect to see a depressed man. But we see the opposite. Paul wrote this letter to the church in Philippi from a prison cell. He experienced various imprisonments, flogging, shipwreck and more. But in the midst of this, we see a man, not depressed, but full of joy and contentment. In this passage, we see the secret to Paul's contentment, and the key to our contentment.
In today's lesson we will see Paul's joy, Paul's contentment, and finally the source of Paul's contentment. May you be blessed as you listen to today's lesson.
The Corinthian church was a church marked by envy and pride. But in the "dirt" of this church, Paul plants the flower of Love; a flower containing 15 petals, each describing an aspect, or description, of love.
In today's lesson, Paul describes love in the negative, in other words, describing love by what love is not. It is as if Paul is saying to the Corinthian church, "You are envious of one another, but that is not love. You are arrogant, boastful and selfish, but that is not love."
In today's lesson, we contrast love with envy, pride and boasting; that which should not mark the church.
1 Corinthians 13 is perhaps one of the most well known chapters in the Bible. Aptly referred to as the, "Love Chapter," it is often highlighted in weddings, urging the couple to be patient, kind, putting the needs of the other above the interests of self.
But is there more to this chapter; a greater motivation and example than mere human love? Some have outlined the chapter in this way:
- The Prominence of Love (Why love matters) - verses 1-3
- The Perfections of Love (What love looks like) - verses 4-7
- The Persistence of Love (How love lasts) - verses 8-13
In this lesson, we begin to explore the perfections of love; what love looks like. Of the 15 characteristics of love highlighted in this chapter, we focus on patience. We will learn how the church is to be characterized by love as expressed in patience. Because God, in Christ, has demonstrated patience to us, we are called to show patience to one another and to those outside the church.
Myopia; We all have it in some sense. Some suffer from this condition physically, and we all suffer from it spiritually.
Myopia is simply the medical term for nearsightedness or shortsightedness. The dictionary defines myopia as a visual defect in which distant objects appear blurred. It can also mean a lack of discernment on long-range perspective.
In today's lesson in Psalm 73, Asaph invites us into his journey through spiritual myopia. Asaph was the chief Levite appointed by David to be the worship leader for Israel. In Psalm 73, Asaph admits to losing perspective in relation to the lives of the wicked, who seemed to prosper while he, in striving to live righteously is met with suffering. Only when he gazed upon who God is could he see the world around him in a proper perspective. As it were, spiritual myopia is corrected through the corrective lens of the character and nature of God.
The journey takes takes us through three phases:
- Orientation - Asaph confesses that God is good to Israel and to the pure in heart
- Dis-Orientation - But if God is good to the pure in heart, then why do the wicked prosper but the righteous suffer
- Re-Orientation - As Asaph enters into the sanctuary of the Lord, his vision is corrected and he is reoriented in regards to the wicked and their destiny. But he is also reoriented regard God, concluding that "As for me, the nearness of God is my good.
The book of Revelation was written at a time when the first century church faced intense persecution from the Roman Empire. The Church's worship of Jesus Christ stood in stark contrast, and in opposition to, the State worship of Caesar. I such a setting what hope did the church have. The same question can be asked of the church today. As persecution of the church increases, whether social or political in nature, what comfort is given to the church?
In Revelation 4, the Apostle John, from his exile to the Isle of Patmos, receives a vision of the throne room of God. In this vision, and throughout the book of Revelation, the throne of God becomes a central focus of the book. We see that God is on His throne. God is the sovereign creator and sustainer of the universe. All of history is under God's sovereign rule.
In today's lesson, we see three purposes of the vision John receives in Revelation 4 and 5:
- To Ground the readers' worship in the worship of heaven
- To contrast the magnificence of God with the earthly "glory" of Caesar and all earthly rulers
- To show that the judgment of God (coming in chapters 6 thru 20) is grounded in His holiness.
And as the vision unfolds, we see God's greatness displayed in three ways:
- In God's centrality (Rev. 4:2-4)
- In God's holiness (Rev. 4:5-6a)
- In the worship of His creatures (Rev. 4:6b-11)