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Core strength comes from working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). It means allowing the gospel to influence every area of our lives and to change those areas on a deeper and deeper level. The gospel must move from merely changing how we behave to shaping our motives, desires, and loves. So Christians answer the question “Who am I?” in a very distinct way. They know their identity is “in Christ.” God gives each Christian a new identity of being connected to Christ.
Onesimus was a slave, likely running away from his master, Philemon. Along the way, Onesimus encountered the apostle Paul and accepted Christ. But Onesimus was now returning to his master with an advocate in his corner, Paul. While the letter was written primarily to Philemon, it also speaks of the work that God had done in Onesimus’ life to make him new. Here we will see all the new things that have come into Onesimus’ life as a result of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus invites us to find life and rest in Himself. Some people take Jesus' invitation while others don’t. Are there consequences to rejecting Jesus? If so, what are they? Jesus’ invitation is not only for those outside the faith. He regularly invites those who believe in Him to follow Him more closely. Yet, due to the remnants of sin within us, we can still struggle to accept His Word. Jesus discusses the consequences, and blessings, of accepting His invitation.
Paul writes this letter to a group of Christians who are in the city of Thessalonica. Paul opens with a typical blessing that is found in his letters: “Grace to you and peace” (1:1). As the Thessalonians read this letter, God’s grace will come to them to give them the strength to persevere.
The message of Zechariah is that if the people return to God, God will return to them. Even though the people are back in the land, they are still in exile. But God promises to end their (spiritual) exile. One day he will atone for their sin, banish idolatry and false prophets from the land, lead the people back in a new exodus, and fill Jerusalem with his presence.
God gave the people of Israel the year of Jubilee to celebrate his goodness and faithfulness. Every 50 years, the people were to take a full year off from work and trust in the Lord. Unfortunately, the people never celebrated the Jubilee. Due to their unbelief, the people were sent into exile. But God brought jubilee to bear through the incarnation of Jesus.
We live sent because Jesus was sent by God. His mission shapes our mission. As God's people, we are to move towards others with the gospel in love and compassion. In the Gospel of John, we regularly see Jesus being sent to do something or sent to reach someone who is far from God.
The gospel empowers us to live for God. We don't live for God in order to get things from God. We live for God because of what Jesus has done for us through his life, death, and resurrection. But the Christian life is also one of continually growth. We grow, however, not solely as individuals, but within the context of community. We grow together within the church.
"The cry is human; to lament is Christian," writes author Mark Vroegop. So how many times in life we wonder how we got into the situation we're in! And we wonder how we can get out of it and how to live in the midst of it. Lamentations answers those questions.
The book of Acts records the spread of the gospel across the globe. After Jesus instructed his followers for forty days, the Spirit of God comes down upon the church, empowering her for God's mission. Through the power of the Spirit, the movement Jesus started continued to multiply throughout the world.