In Zechariah we see a picture of a people who are called to rebuild Solomon’s Temple — a place where God had previously glorified Himself — but as they set out to build the new temple they get discouraged. It doesn't become what they thought it would. Many of us can say the same about our life and ministry. We don't mind small beginnings, but we have great vision and expectation of ending big. Your piece may seem small, but God's puzzle is big. Some of us may not know just how important our “small” piece was until we get to Heaven.
Thank you for praying. We just concluded three days pastors + leaders conference in Colorado Springs. We are grateful for your prayer support.
1 Corinthians 13 is often thought of as a sentimental bit of scripture about love. We aspire to love as it is described in these verses, and use it as a checklist to measure how well we are doing as Christians. What is being described here is God's perfect and unconditional love — a love that is impossible for us to achieve in our own efforts and strength. It is meant to show us our spiritual poverty in contrast to the richness of God's love. Christianity is not a self-improvement plan. It is a work of Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Judgment, calamities and perilous times aren't coming — they're already here. We are in the beginning of the end-times birth pangs that Scripture says will only increase in frequency and intensity. The Bible tells us that there will be suffering, pain and persecution in life. We're not to be surprised, scared or taken off guard when it comes. We serve a sovereign all-powerful God that takes what Satan intended for evil and uses it for good.
In January, at the start of the year, we are typically filled with joy and great expectation for what God is going to do that year, but as the months go by many of us find ourselves facing sorrow, loss and hardships. We are not promised a pain-free life. There will be trials and tribulations, but out of these struggles comes a new song because we know we have a Righteous Branch and Shepherd who is faithful, strong and loves us. Despite what comes, we can sing, "It is well with my soul!"
When the church comes together it should be for the building up of the body of Christ. Sometimes we make church about us and what we can get out of it. We should be peacemakers — no division in our hearts, no holding on to grudges or bitterness — that desire to use our spiritual gifts, services and activities to serve others. No one person has all the gifts, so we must work together to continue the mission and ministry of Jesus in the Earth.
We live in a time when there is much confusion about the roles of men and women in the family and in the church. The church is defining gender roles based on social pressures and political correctness rather than on the Word of God. On one end of the spectrum is Hierarchal Chauvinism, which claims that men are superior to women and that all women should be submissive to all men. On the other end of the spectrum — and as a revolt against the former — we have Egalitarian Feminism, which says that men and women are completely equal, with no differences in roles.
As Christ's body, the church is called to carry on His mission and ministry on Earth. Jesus showed compassion, mercy and justice — often taking a detour or going out of his way to minister to the needs of others. The secular world and the unsaved have taken these on as humanitarian causes, but as Christians we are also called to preach the Gospel. Demonstrating compassion, mercy and justice alone are not enough to draw people to Christ. We must preach, with words, the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Pastor Gary Wilkerson continues the series on 1 Corinthians discussing the relationship between pastors and the church. Both teachers and congregants must be able to discern the wheat from the chaff. Many false gospels are being preached in the church today — ranging from prosperity gospel on one end of the spectrum and a gospel of poverty on the other end. Many church attenders just want their ears tickled. Pastors cannot be afraid that they are going to offend their congregations.