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As Paul opens his letter to the church in Colossae, he begins by offering praise and thanksgiving for this local body of believers.  He writes, "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven..." (Colossians 1:3-5a, LSB).  Their faith and love for the saints flow from the hope laid up for them in heaven. What does hope mean to the Christian?  Do we understand hope in the wishful sense, as in, "I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow"?  Or is there something deeper? As we consider our passage today, we will discover that the hope of which the Scriptures speak is at the very core of our being as believers in Jesus Christ. Thank you for listening to today's teaching.  We pray you will be blessed and encouraged through the teaching of God's Holy Word.
In January, 1973, a man in the Dominican Republic volunteered to be crucified as a sacrifice for world peace.  With a goal of remaining on the cross, his efforts were cut short due to an infection he developed in his right foot.  Following this event, one headline read, "Crucifixion for World Peace Falls Short." Continuing our look at peace with God, we look again at Paul's letter to the church in Rome in Romans 5:1, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."  As we do so, we will consider three questions: How is it that the sacrifice of Jesus truly gives us peace with God? What are the blessings associated with peace with God? How do we live in light of this peace with have with God? Thank you for listening to today's lesson.  We pray first, that you know peace with God.  Second, we pray you will be blessed through the teaching from God's Holy Word.
Scripture is clear that the natural state of mankind is at enmity with God.  Simply put, we are enemies.  And yet, Scripture also says that we can have peace with God.  How is this possible? Can we have peace with God by living a good life, free from sin?  Can we have peace with God through church, either through our church affiliation, attendance or following the right ceremony?  Or can we have peace with God through obedience to all that he has commanded? Join us as we examine Paul's answer to finding peace with God in Romans 5:1-2, and discover a peace that is not dependent upon our merits, but rather is dependent upon the merits of another, Jesus Christ. We thank you for listening to today's lesson.  We pray you will be blessed through the teaching of God's Holy Word.
In 1 Samuel 15, the Lord instructs King Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites, "for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt." (1 Samuel 15:2 NKJV).  This included destroying all people and all livestock.  When Samuel joined Saul following the victory, the king boasted of his faithfulness to do all that the Lord had commanded.  But as Samuel approached the camp, he asked, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" (1 Samuel 15:14 NKJV). Clearly Saul had not fully obeyed the Lord's command.  This begs the question, was Saul a believer?  Will Saul be in heaven?  This leads to an even greater question, can a person be a believer in Jesus Christ and yet disobey the Lord? Join us for today's lesson as we examine this question.  We further examine the questions, How does one become a Christian? What role does obedience play in the life of a believer? What impact does disobedience have on the believer? What security is there for the believer? Thank you for listening to today's lesson.  We pray that as we examine these questions together that you will also be encouraged in your walk with the Lord, imperfect though it may be, because we have a sure and certain hope in Jesus Christ.
The message of the Gospel is like the check engine light on our car.  Many ignore it, but the consequences can be catastrophic.  The Gospel message calls us out for our sin.  To ignore the message of the Gospel has eternal consequences.  Through this message, the believer is called to be a peacemaker.  But this does not mean we compromise on the truth for the sake of peace.  For this reason, the world does not always respond to the Gospel message in a peaceable manner. As we continue in our study of Acts, we find Paul appearing before the governor, Felix, to answer the charges brought by his accusers.  Among these is the charge that Paul, and the sect of which he is the ringleader, is a pest; literally a pestilence, a cancer which threatens to contaminate the nation with heresy and blasphemy.  They charge him with desecrating the temple, supposing that Paul brought a gentile into the temple. In today's lesson we draw four lessons from Paul's responses to the charges and his accusers. We don't need to worry about the charges against us.  Don't compromise the truth, but trust God. We are only messengers; the message is from God.  And the message offends. Recognize that God is working and act accordingly. Be prepared to speak the Truth, even in difficult circumstances. Thank you for listening to today's lesson.  We pray you will be blessed through the teaching of God's Holy Word.
The modern world, if it considers God's existence, likes to emphasize God as love.  But it must be recognized that God's wrath and judgment are just a crucial.  And while we are in the day of grace, we must recognize that God still hates sin and that He does not, and will not, simply sweep sin under the rug. In Lamentations, the prophet is forced to deal with God's wrath poured out on the nation of Judah, specifically as it applied to the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonian empire.  And while we often view our circumstances from an emotional vantage point, like Jeremiah we need to take the theological view, God's view, on what is happening.  Like Jeremiah, our hope is in the steadfast love of the Lord; a love which never ceases.  But at the same time, we must come to terms with the fact that God's love is connected to discipline.  He always seeks our ultimate good, which includes repentance, restoration and a changed life. We thank you for listening to today's lesson.  We pray that as we consider today's passage, we will be encouraged that we can trust and praise God in all circumstances.
A Christian woman was frequently heard praying for her food by her atheistic neighbor.  He frequently taunted her for her foolish trust in, and devotion to, a God who didn't exist.  When she ran out of groceries, she again turned in prayer to the Lord for help and thanking Him for how He would work.  Again overhearing this, the neighbor went out and bought the groceries, determined to expose her faith as foolish.  Upon delivering the groceries to her doorstep, he knocked and hid in the bushes.  As expected, when the woman saw the groceries she praised God for His goodness to her.  Leaping out of the bushes, he exclaimed, "You foolish woman! God didn't buy these, I did!"  Hearing this, the woman praised even louder.  "I trusted God would provide groceries, but I didn't know He was going to make the devil pay for them!" We often go about our lives completely unaware of the ways in which God is working in our lives.  What we attribute to mere coincidence, the perfect culmination of a series of circumstances which play out for our benefit.  But we are surprised when we learn that God often uses unconventional means to accomplish His divine purposes.  This includes using evil people and systems for His own glory. In today's lesson, we see a plot on the part of forty Jews, in league with the Sanhedrin, to kill Paul, even taking an oath to eat nothing until Paul had been killed.  But upon hearing of this plot, the Roman authorities step in to protect Paul.  And while God is little mentioned directly in this passage, we see His fingerprints all over the events that transpire. Thank you for listening to today's lesson.  We pray that as we consider God's sovereign will played out in our lives, we would be encouraged by His love and care for His children.
As Paul returned to Jerusalem, he faced charges from Jews of heresy, of teaching things contrary to Moses and the Law.  This charge led to threats of flogging.  For those who would hold to salvation by grace through faith, we may face the same kind of accusations the the culture. As Paul addressed the crowd, he assured them that the Gospel he preached was not contrary to the law, but instead fulfilled the Law.  His response included three parts: Paul was where the crowd was in belief Paul was called by God Why Paul was called. Thank you for listening to today's lesson.  We pray you will be blessed and encouraged through the teaching of God's Word.
Throughout Jesus' ministry he frequently encountered people with questions.  In some cases, these questions were intended to trap Jesus in a logical or theological error.  In other cases, however, people came with genuine interest seeking genuine answers.  In today's passage we see both. Regardless of the intent, God ensured these questions were recorded in Scripture for our benefit.  These questions sometimes challenge us, and in the Lord's response we find the answers to the questions we have. We thank you for listening to today's lesson.  We pray you will be blessed and encouraged through the teaching of God's Word.
A post on Facebook once cited a study which suggested that, on average, we swallow four spiders per year in our sleep.  People shared the related posts and the story spread.  The problem was, the supposed study was, itself, was part of a study to see how quickly information can spread on the internet.  What we do see through these types of interactions is how quickly lies spread; but they also highlight our propensity to not just tell lies, but to believe them. When Paul was in Jerusalem, Jews from Asia spread lies about him to their countrymen, asserting Paul had even brought Greeks, filthy Gentiles, into the temple.  Naturally, the Jews in Jerusalem were all too willing to believe these falsehoods, throwing the city into an uproar with Paul's life in danger. Despite these blatant lies about Paul, we see his overarching desire to preach the Gospel to the very crowd seeking his life.  In examining Paul's response to such hostility, we can get a glimpse into our own attitude toward the enemies of the cross.  Is our attitude one of love, seeking the salvation of the lost?  Or are we more prone to strike back. Than you for listening to today's lesson.  We pray you will be blessed and encouraged through the teaching of God's Word.
One of the most common terms used to describe the salvation experience is to be "born again."  As Christians, we commonly refer to ourselves as, "born again believers."  However, even within Christendom, this idea of being born again as a requirement to enter into God's kingdom is frequently a point of contention.  For those outside the church, it becomes a point of ridicule and disdain; connected with accusations of being too narrow-minded. But how much do we truly understand being "born again?"  How does one become born again?  When Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, this leader of the Jews struggled with this very statement from Jesus, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3 (LSB). Thank you for listening to today's message.  If you are unsure about your standing before God, we pray this will help you to understand what it means to be born again and why it is necessary for coming into the presence of a Holy God.  We pray you will be encouraged through this teaching from God's Word.
Throughout Paul's second letter to the church in Thessalonica, we have drawn lessons regarding God's righteous judgment.  We considered His righteous judgment toward those who believe in Jesus Christ and toward those who reject Jesus as savior.  We considered His righteous judgment regarding the end times in the final condemnation of Satan and those who deny Jesus, as well as in the final consummation of the believer into eternal rest with the Lord. Now, in 2 Thessalonians 3, we consider God's righteous judgment within the body of believers.  From this study, we will draw three lessons: The Lord's attitude toward the body The believer's attitude toward the body God’s righteous judgment toward the believer who disregards the body We thank you for listening to today's lesson and pray you will be blessed and encouraged through the teaching of God's Holy Word.
One of the battle cries of the reformation was salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  The corollary to this is that we are no longer under law but under grace. But is there a proper relationship between the believer and the law.  And if so, what is it.  We remember that Jesus, Himself, proclaimed, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law of the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17, LSB) Join us for today's lesson as we catch up with Paul returning to Jerusalem following his third missionary journey.  He arrived facing charges from Jewish Christians that Paul was teaching the Gentiles to put away the Law of Moses.  Paul's response to this group of believers serves as a valuable tool to inform our relationship to the Law. Thank you for listening to today's lesson.  We pray you will be blessed and encouraged through the teaching of God's Holy Word.
When Valentine's Day rolls around, we are deluged with messages of love.  Notes between husbands and wives extol their love for one another.  A suitor sends roses to demonstrate his love for his beloved or betrothed.  Even school children share cards with each other in honor of the day.  But how sad would it be if a wife left a card for her husband only to have it ignored?  Or if a woman sang of her love to her love with no response? In many ways, God leaves love notes for us, in creation, in each other, in the pages of Scripture, and above all, in His Son.  But how closely do we pay attention to the love of God poured out toward undeserving sinners? Join us for today's lesson as we explore what Scripture says about the nature of love, our love for God and His inexhaustible love toward us. Thank you for listening.  We pray you will be blessed and encouraged through the teaching of God's Holy Word.
Imagine living in a world without light.  Light is used in so many different ways within our world making life without light nearly impossible to navigate.  We use light for communication; think traffic lights, airport landing strips, or the warning lights on the dashboard to alert us to issues with our vehicles.  Light is used to reveal or highlight defects, such as inspecting dents in a car.  Imagine a surgeon operating without the proper surgical lighting.  And of course, light helps us to see in dark places, such as the headlights used to illumine the roadways at night, or flashlights or candles in a room without power. Scripture speaks of another light, the True Light which, "coming into the world enlightens everyone" (John 1:9 LSB).  If life without physical life is nearly impossible, life without the Light of the world is holds eternal consequences. Join us for today's lesson as we examine what the Scripture has to say about Jesus Christ as the Light of the world and the implications for us. Thank you for listening to today's lesson.  We pray you will be blessed and encouraged through the teaching of God's Holy Word.
As Paul prepared to go to Jerusalem, a journey which was sure to mean persecution and even arrest, he continues to do what is most characteristic for him; he seeks to encourage and build up the body of believers in the churches he visited. Before his return to Jerusalem, Paul met with the Ephesian elders: Speaking of what was during his time with those believers Warning about what is coming Encouraging with what will be helpful In speaking this way to these elders, Paul speaks as one shepherd to another; serving in selflessness and through strong connection with this church with whom he spent considerable time. Thank you for listening to today's lesson.  We pray you will be blessed and encouraged through the teaching of God's Word.
A saying emerged among bombers during World War II, "the flak gets heavy over the target."  In other words, the closer the bombers came to enemy territories and targets, the stronger the resistance.  In many ways, this is the experience of a church that is faithful in proclaiming the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Following the riot in Ephesus, the church despaired due to the extreme, even violent, resistance to the Gospel.  But Paul, showing his singular devotion to God and His people, made it his aim to encourage and build up the church. Join us as we continue through the book of Acts as Paul makes preparations to go to Rome, ultimately through Jerusalem.  May you be encouraged through Paul's example to the saints and through the wonderful truth of the Gospel. Thank you for listening to today's lesson.   We pray you will be blessed through the teaching of God's Word.
When Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, he was writing at a time roughly 25 years from the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.  These first century believers were certain the Lord would return in their lifetime. But to a church facing intense persecution, when some proclaimed that the day of the Lord had already come, this led to confusion and concern.  Had they missed the return of the Lord?  Why were they not then in the Lord's presence?  And what about all the evil and suffering still going on in the world. In today's lesson, we continue our examination of Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians; continuing the theme of God's righteous judgment, this time as it pertains to the end times.  In doing so, we will draw out three lessons: How we view the timing of the Lord's return Future judgment of the lawless on the day of the Lord’s return The future hope of the believer at the Lord’s return Thank you for listening to today's lesson.  We pray you will be blessed and encouraged through the teaching of God's Word.
Considering some of the key doctrines of the faith can seem to be a daunting task.  The word, "theology," tends to be met with groans; considered to be something reserved only for the extreme scholar. But sometimes it is necessary, and helpful, to consider such topics.  As good nutrition must include eating our vegetables, so our growth as believers must include consideration of concepts which seem to be out of our grasp. In today's lesson, we continue to consider the Scriptures as God's Word and the implications this has on our lives. Thank you for listening to today's lesson.  We pray you will be blessed and encouraged through the teaching of God's Word.
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