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Sexual Purity

We live in a sexualized society. And while we’re 2,000 years removed from Paul’s letter to the new followers of Christ in the church of Thessalonica, our cultural situation is very similar. They came to faith out of a culture that deified sex. People lived to please themselves, but Paul is calling these new believers to walk and live in a way that pleased God more and more.

How do we live that kind of life in a culture that’s saturated with sexualized images, messages, and beliefs? We cling to three important things in this text: We have a calling from God, a warning from God and a Helper from God.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; Ezekiel 36:26-27

Please God

We all know people who are hard to please. Maybe their standards are so high you can’t please them, or they change their minds about what they prefer, or they’ve never told you what pleases them. In this text, Paul transitions from looking back at the Thessalonians new lives in Christ, to looking into the present and future, asking and urging them to excel at something they’re already doing – pleasing God.

The big idea for this text is this: Christians ought to walk in a way that pleases God more and more. We’ll consider what pleases God – a life of obedience and faith, why we should please God – because of the instructions we have, the blessing it brings, the glory to come, and our love for the Master, and finally, we’ll ask, how do we please God – by reckoning rightly about sin, others and our suffering, and meditating on pure things to filter the pollution.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2; Matthew 15:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; Romans 8:18; John 14:21-24; Romans 6:11; Phil. 4:8

Godly Ethics at Work

We all want to work with people who have a solid work ethic, but ethics at work aren’t always clear. People feel the pressure to conform to a culture in the workplace that cuts corners and lacks integrity. Does God care anything about the way we work? And how do we overcome the external and internal pressure to work in a way that lacks integrity?

Scripture: Proverbs 10:9-10, 16:11, 11:1, 20:23; Genesis 25-32, 42-43; Romans 8:28; Matthew 6:31-33

Wise Words

We speak and use words hundreds of times a day. Conversations, text, email, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, it seems we never stop communicating. And all in the hopes that our words will carry some weight, be influential, cause people to think or respond in a way we hope.

Our ability to speak is proof that we are made in the image of God who spoke the world into being, who send His Son into the world as “the Word made flesh.” How we use our words matters because they reflect on the character of the God who created us and if we are believers, the God who has saved us.

Proverbs challenges us to speak thoughtful words, timely words, and truthful words. The pitfalls and opportunities are many. We need wisdom to speak wise words.

Scripture: Proverbs 25:11; James 3:2, 8; Proverbs 15:23, 28; Proverbs 29:11; Matthew 12:36-37; Ecclesiastes 3:1,4, 7; Hebrews 3:12-13; Proverbs 12:19, 16:28, 26:20, 13:3; Eph. 4:29

Growing Pains

Acts is an amazing history of how God unleashed the gospel into the world through the church. Yale historian, Kenneth Scott Latourette notes, “Never in so short a time has any other religious faith, or for that matter, any other set of ideas, religious, political, or economic, ever achieved so commanding a position in such an important culture without the aid of physical force, or social or cultural prestige.”

This is all the more amazing considering the gospel faced one obstacle after another. Beginning in chapter 4, there is persecution from outside the church. In chapter 5, we see corruption within the church, and more persecution from outside the church. And now in chapter 6, something new.

In verses 1 and 7, Luke shows us how the church is thriving and more and more people are coming to faith in Christ, in spite of all these obstacles. But in between verses 1 and 7, he exposes a problem that threatens to divide the church and distract her from her mission in the world.

In the end, we learn that God means to unleash the gospel and win the world through a people who say “It’s not about me. I will do whatever it takes for the sake of the mission and His glory.”

Scripture: Acts 6:1-7; Luke 17:10; Mark 10:44-45; John 13:12-17; 1 Peter 4:10

Unacceptable Love Part 2

Before a parent would die for their child, they die to self. Love is not first found in the big outward acts of dying for another person, but inwardly dying to self. Love, as demonstrated by Jesus in washing His disciple’s feet, is laying aside status and forsaking entitlement to pursue the holiness of another person.

Scripture: John 13:31-35

Unacceptable Love Part 1

Jesus calls His people to love one another with a supernatural love, so much so as to joyfully participate in one another’s pursuit of holiness.

Scripture: John 1:1-17

The Prophet Elijah

The most significant problem of both the Old and New Testaments is idolatry. And for that matter, the greatest problem that we face is also idolatry.

Elijah was a man called by God to confront idolatry in the most convincing way. It is a story like none other. But Elijah shows us that even God’s choicest servants can suffer from profound weakness.

Elijah confronted Israel’s idolatry and those who propagated it. He won the most unimaginable victory and drew the hearts of God’s people back to Him. However, he then wandered into the wilderness and suffered greatly with depression and wanted to give up.

His life shows us the reality of life in God’s service.

Scripture: 1 Kings 18

The Surprising Truth About Suffering

The fact is that everyone experiences periods of suffering. That is true for individuals, families, and churches. Unfortunately, many Christians seem to believe that pain is the greatest evil. We tend to ask why it is happening to us and then to look for solutions as quickly as we can.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 is written to show us how God can turn trials into instruments in His hands that can lead us to trust God beyond what we’ve believed Him before and to become more of what He wants.

The question is not if we will experience trials. We all will. The problem is what we will do with them.

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; James 4:6

When Suffering Arrives at Your Door

Suffering is part of life for both for Christians and non-Christians. But God makes His children a promise: if we approach our trials, disappointments, and pain with faith, God will do the essential work of molding us into the likeness of Christ Jesus.

The question is not if trials will come, but what will we do as we experience them. Many times we are tempted to feel that God isn’t fair because He allowed the pain to come into our lives. We curse the suffering and try to get out of it as quickly as we can. While these reactions are understandable, there is a far more productive way to approach our problem of suffering. That better way is to view trials through the lens of the Gospel.

Scripture: James 1:1-5