The Rise of Evil and the Return of Christ

These 12 verses are likely the most difficult part of 1-2 Thessalonians. The meaning of the details here is not easily understood, and in the midst of things that are certain and clear, there are some things that are ambiguous and have produced more than a few different points of view.

The text is about the rise of evil in the world and the return of Christ. Paul writes to reassure and admonish the church in Thessalonica. And God has preserved this for us to establish us in our faith in the midst of a world that seems to move further away from God’s ways, and where we may find ourselves facing persecution for our faith in Christ.

Throughout human history evil has been present, but just before Christ comes, there will be an escalation of it in the world. There will be a rebellion against God and His ways in societies and in the church. Ultimately, a person will appear who embodies that evil rebellion against God. He will demand total allegiance as God and deceive many in the world by doing miraculous things. And then Christ will return and destroy evil and put it away forever.

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Daniel 7, 9; Matthew 24:23-27; Mark 13; 1 John 2:18-19; Revelations 12-14; 1 Timothy 4; 2 Timothy 3

God Gets the Last Word

Since the beginning, the Church has faced afflictions and persecutions. The Thessalonian church was enduring persecutions and Paul wrote to encourage them in their faith, instruct them for their faith, and pray for their faith. He taught them that persecution in the present points to the future judgement of the world, the reliability of God’s word (He can be trusted), and the genuineness of their faith in Christ. All of that would work together to help them and help us – when we face rejection and criticism for our faith – to respond by rejoicing that we were counted worthy to suffer for His name, and to rest that no matter what happens, our God gets the last word.

Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12; 1 Peter 4:17; Philippians 1:27-28; Acts 5:41; John 15:18-20; Matthew 5:10-12; Luke 19

Reset with a New Heart

The world is a broken place. 2020 brought that home to many of us through our experiences with the pandemic, quarantine, political fights, etc. But before there was ever a pandemic or sharp differences of political opinions, we all had experience with brokenness.

In other words, before these outside issues struck with such force in 2020, all we had to do was look in the mirror. We have millennia of years worth of evidence to say that human beings are broken. We’ve never been able to pull ourselves together. We know the right things to do, but we don’t do them, and we never will apart from outside help.

Deuteronomy 30:1-10 teaches us that the reason the world is a mess, the reason we are broken is because our hearts are broken. We need new hearts! But how can they be fixed? How do you know if you have a new heart? And if you don’t, how do you get one? The answers are here in this text.

Scripture: Deuteronomy 30:1-10; Romans 7:22; Isaiah 53:5,8; Colossians 2:11-15

 

Reset on Mission

Three times in Ephesians 1:3-14, Paul writes that our salvation is all about the glory of God. He writes that our salvation is “to the praise of his glorious grace…” “to the praise of his glory…” “to the praise of His glory!” And as you read through this passage you see that God has chosen and adopted us for His glory, redeemed and forgiven us for His glory, and sealed and secured us for His glory. Our salvation is all about His glory.

And as His chosen and adopted, redeemed and forgiven, sealed and secured sons and daughters, He’s saved us to show the world His glory! And since Christ has not yet come and we’ve not yet come into possession of our inheritance, we know that God’s not done saving people, so our mission is for His glory!

That means evangelism is telling the world, your family, neighbor, co-worker, teammate, friends what great things God has done for our salvation. God is glorified when His mighty works of grace are made known.

Now, as God’s people in the Ahwatukee Foothills, we want to spread the news of His glory and grace to everyone we know. We want to pray for people to know Him, invite them to come and hear of Him, and share the gospel with them!

Scripture: Ephesians 1:3-14; Psalm 93:6; 1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 2

Reset with Prayer

The new year is a predictable time when we think about resetting certain rhythms in our lives, when we take stock of how we’ve invested our time, our money, our passions and where we want to be this time next year.

2020 has pushed on all of us – hard. It’s time we reset, and not just individually, but together as a church family. But we don’t need a new method or technique, we don’t need something novel to reset our spiritual lives. Rather, we need to lean into the ancient means God’s given us to grow and become the people He’s recreated us to be in Christ.

Today, we’re talking about doing that with prayer. And we’ll learn that while Jesus taught us a framework for prayer, He also taught us that the kind of people who pray fit a certain stereotype and know who God is and who we are in relationship to Him in a way that fuels their prayers.

Scripture: Luke 11:1-13; Galatians 4:4-7

Reset with God’s Word

God has designed humans and the world around us to experience new beginnings, new mornings, new seasons, and new years. In 2021 at Foothills, we are pushing the “reset” button to re-engage one another and our neighborhoods with the gospel. This means applying old truths to the new year.

Scripture: Psalm 119:129-136

The Gift of Hope

Because GOD is faithful, we have Hope!

Scripture: Psalm 16; Judges 17:6, 21:25; Genesis 25:29-34; Exodus 29:40-41; Leviticus 23:13; Numbers 15:5-7; Philippians 2:17; 2 Timothy 4:6; Psalms 1:1; Proverbs 1:5, 8:14; Acts 13:34-37; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Isaiah 49:8; Acts 2:25-36; 1 Corinthians 15:20-34; Romans 8:38-39

The Bigger, Better Story of Redemption

The story of Ruth in the Old Testament teaches a great truth that God has not forgotten His people. He provided a husband and son for Ruth, a redeemer for Naomi, and a King for His people. But the bigger, better story of redemption that Ruth teaches is that God has provided a Savior for the world.

The bigger, better story of redemption that Ruth opens as it closes, is that not only has God not forgotten us, but that God is with us, through the One True King – Jesus! And that bigger, better story of redemption has three implications for us: it upsets the values of the world; it removes our labels; and it gives us our ultimate rest in Jesus.

Scripture: Ruth 4:18-22; Matthew 1:1-25; Galatians 4:4-7

There is a Redeemer

Ruth 4 shows how God brings redemption out of ruin through the birth of a son. Boaz selflessly follows God’s Word to care for Naomi and Ruth and to perpetuate the name of Elimelech and Mahlon. Through this selfless act, God providentially provides His people with a redeemer, a king, and a Messiah. As God’s people today, we are called to trust in Him and the provision that He has made for His people through His Son, Jesus. In the Gospel we are called to selflessly follow God’s Word.

Scripture: Ruth 4:1-17

A Risky Plan Redeemed

God is at work in the complex details of our lives for His glory and our good. So we should act in faith, be righteous, and trust God to finish what He’s started.

Scripture: Ruth 3:1-18; Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Isaiah 42:3; Titus 3:4-6