Where the grace of God is missed, bitterness is born. But where the grace of God is embraced, forgiveness flourishes.
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Solid, stable churches are not built in a day. When God wants to make a mushroom he takes six hours. When God wants to build an oak tree he takes sixty years. Do you want your church to be a mushroom or an oak tree?
You wonder why God doesn’t remove temptation from your life? If he did, you might lean on your strength instead of his grace. A few stumbles might be what you need to convince you: His grace is sufficient for your sin.
Those who keep secrets from God keep their distance from God. Those who are honest with God draw near to God.
Evangelism is more than our responsibility; it is our great privilege. We are invited to be a part of bringing people into God’s eternal family.
Grace fosters an eagerness for good. Grace doesn’t spawn a desire to sin. If one has truly embraced God’s gift, he will not mock it. In fact, if a person uses God’s mercy as liberty to sin, one might wonder whether the person ever knew God’s mercy at all.
John Calvin was a Swiss reformer and contemporary to the well-known Martin Luther (Calvin is twenty-six years younger than Martin Luther).
In the city of Geneva, jewelers and goldsmiths made crucifixes, chalices, and other items that people were reverent to and sometimes even worshipped. When John Calvin had political influence in the city of Geneva, one thing he instituted was a Consistoire, or “ecclesiastical court.” This “court” got rid of jewelers and goldsmiths making crucifixes, chalices, and other instruments serving papacy and idolatry. However, John Calvin allowed the clockmakers to stay.
In John Calvin’s mind, timeliness was a virtue because a Christian was not supposed to let minutes go unused for the Lord. In Calvin’s theology, every Christian would have to give an account to God for every moment of his life, and the personal clock was a way to help Christians make the most of the time they had. 1
Similar to John Calvin and his reverence for time, you too, as a small group facilitator, need to make the most of the time you have in your group meetings. However, be sure to begin and end on time.
BEGIN AND END ON TIME
Starting and Ending on Time Is Your Responsibility as the Facilitator
- Jennifer McNutt, and David Lauber, The People’s Book, p. 100. ↩
The big idea (and themes) of 2 Thessalonians is similar to Paul’s first letter to the Christians in the city of Thessalonica. But 2 Thessalonians provides some much needed clarification on a few topics. Here are some of my notes on the book as well as a chart I created for the book. Blessings on you as you study Paul’s second letter to the Christians in the city of Thessalonica.
The Christian life consists of studying God’s Word, enduring suffering now, while also looking to the future return of Christ.
With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:15, NLT)
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers 1 who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received 2 from us. (2 Thessalonians 3:6, NLT)
For most of my life I have enjoyed playing golf. Golf courses often “aerate” their tee boxes, fairways, and greens. This is a process in which a machine punches holes in the ground and removes a small amount of dirt from those holes. The better quality golf courses aerate more often, while smaller less maintained golf courses do this less often. 1
The simple act of removing a small amount of dirt from the ground provides five benefits to the well traveled soil and grass that golfers use. One benefit is that it allows much needed nutrients (air, water, and fertilizer) to get to the root zone under the surface of the ground. Another benefit is that it reduces thatch buildup. Thatch is a layer of dead grass that can prevent important nutrients from getting to the soil. An additional benefit of aeration is that it relieves soil compaction. Severely compacted soil prevents air, water, and fertilizer from reaching the grass’s root system. Another benefit of aeration is that it helps with over seeding. When you are trying to over seed (laying seed on existing grass) aeration allows for that seed to penetrate the soil and germinate. A final benefit of aeration is that it prepares grass for going dormant in the winter and/or a green spring. If your grass goes dormant in the winter you want it to be as strong as possible, and aerating helps strengthen it. Additionally, aerating gives grass a fertile environment to grow when spring comes. 2
You have probably heard pastors say that “Jesus died for your sins on the Cross.” My point in sharing about aeration above is that, yes, Jesus did die for your sins on the cross. But, he accomplished much more than that on the cross. Similar to how that one act of aeration provides five benefits to grass, Christ’s death on the cross accomplished five things for us. Let’s take a look at those.
Photo Credit: “Christ Dies on the Cross” by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (1727-1804)
Christ on the Cross
Christ died in our place and took the sinners’ just punishment.
A. Old Testament Backgrounds on Substitution
The idea of substitution is woven throughout the Old Testament. Here are some examples of substitution in the Old Testament. Continue Reading…
- When I worked as a caddie at a very nice private golf course in Texas while in seminary it seemed like we were aerating something every month. ↩
- “7 Benefits of Lawn Aeration” by TruGreen, https://www.trugreen.com/lawn-care-101/blog/aeration-service/7-benefits-of-lawn-aeration. Accessed October 1, 2019. ↩