Never think that because something is invisible it is therefore unimportant or weak. Just think of gravity—where would we be without it? The Holy Spirit is the same. He energizes, motivates, comforts, and gives discernment. The Holy Spirit is our spiritual fuel.
Before Paul put the final period on his first letter to the Thessalonians he issued a double-edged command: “encourage…and build up one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). In a world more sinful than saintly, such a command is necessary because the spirit of discouragement is dangerous.
Every Christian has a story of when her faith changes from head knowledge to heart knowledge, when she becomes convinced Jesus is the only possible way to be saved.
One of the most remarkable eras in the history of the church occurred during the first century. Shortly after Christ had left the earth, His disciples (who became apostles) led congregations into new and exciting vistas of faith. Though young and relatively inexperienced, the believers who comprised the first-century church showed evident marks of maturity…the children were now growing into adolescence!
In Micah 6:8, the bold prophet answered the question many people wonder about today: What does the Lord expect of us? Micah's answer is comprehensive: to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. The first of these three expectations means to do what is right, regardless of the consequences. This kind of courageous obedience is illustrated for us in the lives of the first-century apostles.
The teaching of Jesus and the apostles is unmistakable. Heaven is for those who have been saved from their sin by trusting in Jesus. Heaven is not a mythical place for all people regardless of their background.
Be honest: when was the last time you said something or gave something or wrote something or did something with the single motive of encouraging someone else?
It’s impossible to measure the worth of mutual encouragement. Whether spoken or written, a few encouraging words can make an enormous difference in the outcome of a single event or, in fact, someone’s entire life.
There is a big difference between prophets and politicians. Politicians act in a way to please their constituents. Prophets act in a way to please God. In the Bible prophets often stood alone. They spoke God’s truth and risked losing their lives for it.
How would you define hope? In what way would your definition apply to a local church? What if hope were missing from a congregation? Would anybody notice? We’ll think about these and other things as we allow Peter’s words to guide us into the truth about hope. These passages of Scripture suggest several ingredients that must be present if hope is to remain a vital part of a church’s life.