“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). As believers today, we must renew that same spirit of determination and commitment to faithfulness, to constancy, to endurance—no matter how sombre the road or how grievous the cost.
“Be realistic! One person can’t possibly change the course of the world.” From the vortex of pressing problems swirling around us, the task looks too difficult to even try. We need to get to high, dry ground, a place of perspective so we can see that our struggles are not unique but have occurred through the ages.
Jesus certainly comes to mind when one thinks of passion, but so does another person in the New Testament: the Apostle Paul. He was a man with intense, driving convictions. His enemies would curse him, beat him, and stone him nearly to death, and he’d keep on preaching the gospel. He refused to run scared, to take it easy, or to play it safe. As long as there was breath in his lungs, the name of Christ would be on his lips, and the passion of God would throb in his heart.
What can we do for our country? How can we help our nation survive? These questions are too personal to be relegated to a president to answer. We must turn to our Maker for His wise counsel.
The church has always been known for its resolute spirit. Problems occur, though, when we think that because the church’s message is changeless, the church’s methods must be changeless too. How can we expect to make a difference in a rapidly changing world if we’re living in the past? Are we ready for the changes the future will bring?
On the first Easter morning, when the stone was rolled away from Christ’s tomb, hope dawned and grace shone brighter than it ever had. For us, though, the monotony and troubles of daily life seem far removed from the miraculous impact of that glorious morning two thousand years ago. Sometimes even Christians get so caught up in the concerns of life that we think, What’s the big deal about Easter anyway?
It’s time to push aside the negative thinking and draw our attention to God’s perspective of His church. He smells the sin, but He also breathes in the sweet aroma. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul highlighted six fragrant qualities that will help us think rightly about the church.
How tempting it is to claim the credit ourselves for the mighty works God does in and around us. Perhaps no one feels that temptation more than those who serve God in a public ministry—those who have been called to hold His glory in sacred trust. Whether their work becomes a movement of God or calcifies into a monument to themselves depends on one crucial factor: who gets the glory.
“You can’t judge a book by its cover”—that’s a phrase we’ve all heard before. What’s true of people is also true of churches—you can’t tell the effectiveness of a church by its building. To discover the traits of an effective church, we have to examine what’s on the inside. Fortunately, Jesus Himself shows us what to look for.
In the previous lesson, we studied several faithful men from the Reformation era. Time failed us, though, to tell the whole story of the greatest difference maker of that period, Martin Luther. Let’s pause for a while at his portrait and draw courage from his example of faith.