Day One – What a glorius day!

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Sunday's Sermon

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Today's Devotional

 

We heard in Sunday’s sermon that we are to be heavenly minded. We were reminded that Christ has raised us with Him and given us our life. Verse 4 tells us, “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” It’s a marvelous picture of being united in an even fuller sense with Christ, an image of the completion of unity in Christ.

In our passage today, Paul also speaks about being together with Christ in glory. This might be a familiar passage because it’s one that we often hear when a loved one passes away. Some of the most comforting words are the ones that we hear in v13 – that we don’t mourn as those “who have no hope.”

As Christians, our comfort in both life AND in death is that we belong to our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. And because we do, we have hope. We have an unshakeable confidence that on the day that our life on earth ends or the day of Christ’s return (whatever comes first), we WILL be with Him in glory.

This makes us reaffirm our relationship with Christ as our Savior today. It prevents us from fearing evil, even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. And it makes us long for the day of Christ’s return, so that we are all the more heavenly minded.

 

Today's Challenge

 

Challenge: If you haven’t yet trusted Christ as your Savior, trust Him with your life today. If you already know Christ as your Savior, trust Him with your life today.

Pray that God would make you turn your eyes to heaven with the sure hope of being with Christ in glory.

 

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Day Five – Live with goals

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12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

 

Sunday's Sermon

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Today's Devotional

 

Specialty license plates are an inexpensive way to express something that you value. Indiana drivers have lots of great options: choose life (to support the pro-life movement); Riley’s (to support the children’s hospital); even some popular Indiana universities (go Irish!).

I think my favorite plate is one that I saw for the first time last week. In support of soccer leagues, the plate had these three words across the bottom: live with goals. As you might guess, I not only like it because it’s a good pun (and admittedly corny) but also because that’s a great message that we, as Christians, can affirm.

In our passage today, the apostle Paul tells us what his goal is in life: “[winning] the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (v14). Rather than getting caught up in what’s happened in the past, Paul wants to look forward to what is ahead: an eternal life of glory with Jesus Christ.

This coming Sunday, we’ll be studying the beginning of Colossians 3, where Paul calls us to “set our hearts on things above.” We’ll consider how we’re called to have that particular goal of being heavenly minded, knowing that Christ is preparing an eternal home for us.

 

Today's Challenge

 

Challenge: What goals do you have in your life with regard to your spiritual walk, career, family, and personal development? Are these goals consistent with what the Bible calls you to be?

Pray that God would give you a powerful sense of purpose. Ask the Holy Spirit to align your own desires with God’s will for your life.

 

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Day Four – Overflowing with thankfulness

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7 Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.

11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

 

Sunday's Sermon

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Today's Devotional

 

Overflowing can be a disastrous thing. We’re prohibited from topping off our gas tanks to ensure they don’t overflow. We carefully open pop bottles so that the fizz doesn’t overflow from the bottle. And (like our family) maybe you’ve had the unpleasant experience of not realizing that the drain was plugged in the utility tub where the washing machine sends waste water. As you can imagine, the experience of “overflowing” was less than enjoyable! J

The Bible speaks positively about overflowing in a number of places; most famously, Psalm 23 tells us that our cups overflow. Jesus teaches that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Paul prays that Christians would overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. In today’s passage, he wishes that our “love [would] increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else.”

We heard in Colossians 2 that living in Christ involves overflowing with thankfulness, too. In general, overflowing means that something is not confined to a space but instead goes out from it. Isn’t that a great way to think about thankfulness? It can’t be contained, it can’t be confined, it knows no borders and flows freely out from us. That’s the kind of gratitude I’d like to have in my life: overflowing with thankfulness.

 

Today's Challenge

 

Challenge: In what places do we confine our thankfulness? Only in church? Only with close family? Only with certain friends? Where could we express our gratitude in new places?

Pray that God would cause your gratitude to overflow, that it would be so powerful that it couldn’t be contained to certain areas. Pray that that thankfulness causes others to see Christ in you.

 

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Day Three – Strengthened in the faith

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20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Sunday's Sermon

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Today's Devotional

 

“Just say no.” That was the tagline that I learned back in my late grade school days. It was, of course, part of the larger campaign against using illegal drugs. It was a simple idea, but it must have stuck because 20+ years later I still remember it.

It’s also a phrase that we could apply to the second half of the 10 Commandments. Murder? Adultery? Stealing? False testimony? Coveting? Just say no. There’s a whole litany of behaviors that we’re called to reject as Christians, as catalogued by the apostles throughout the letters in the New Testament.

And from the outside looking in, someone could accuse Christianity of being extremely negative – they could say (wrongly) that it’s all about not being able to do certain things.

But our passage today tells us that for all the promises that God has made, He just says yes in Christ. That’s what being strengthened in faith means; we recognize that God keeps His promises. All our sins are forgiven? Yes. He’ll never leave us nor forsake us? Yes. We belong to Him? Yes. The Holy Spirit – Who is God Himself – is in our hearts? Yes. The joy of heaven awaits us at the end of this life? Yes. We could go on and on…

 

Today's Challenge

 

Challenge: Dwell – for several minutes – in the truth that God keeps His promises. After doing so, what promises cheer your heart most?

Pray that GOD would strengthen you in faith. Plead at His throne of grace, knowing that He is FAITHful.

 

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Day Two – Built up in Christ

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4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,

a chosen and precious cornerstone,

and the one who trusts in him

will never be put to shame.”

7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected

has become the capstone,”

8 and,

“A stone that causes men to stumble

and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Sunday's Sermon

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Today's Devotional

 

The process of building is extremely involved and detail-oriented. There’s a tremendous amount of planning beforehand, of pictures, plans, proposals, and permits. Often work is subcontracted to different trades. Timelines are made to ensure that the work is done when it should be. And this is all before even an ounce of energy is spent on physical construction!

When Paul talks about living in Christ (Col 2:7), he picks up on another image that is a very familiar one: construction. We’re called to be built up in Christ. At first glance, we might think about how we’re built upon the cornerstone of Christ. While that’s true (Eph 2:20), that’s not what we’re told here.

Here we’re encouraged to be built in Christ. This sounds a lot like what Jesus Himself said in John 15 – remain in me like branches firmly attached to the vine. We’re to be integrated into Christ – like stones that are part of a new structure, who is Christ Himself. In our passage today, Peter calls Christ the “living Stone” – and we’re built into Him so that we can offer our lives as a spiritual sacrifice for Christ. That building process is extremely involved, too.

 

Today's Challenge

 

Challenge: What are ways that you uniquely contribute to the “spiritual house” that God is building? How do you use your gifts for the church?

Pray that the Holy Spirit would empower and excite you for a life of service to the Lord. Ask God to show you, specifically, how you can serve Him today.

 

 

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