TEXTS: James 4:7; Rev. 20:7; 1 Pet. 5:6; 1 Cor. 7
1. Many American evangelicals falsely assume that if they perform specific religious activities, adhere to a particular set of theological beliefs, and give away a portion of their finances, that it causes the Lord to see their efforts and respond by pouring out blessing into their lives. Although there are certainly blessings and benefits that follow our response and obedience to God, we should not be motivated to give simply so we can get.
2. There is only one ‘recorded’ church service in the entirety of the NT—Corinthians 12-14. Meaning, as the early Church was formed and given structure, we only get this one glimpse into what a church service looked like and how it functioned. When studying these chapters, you notice that prophesying (and the other gifts of the Spirit) seemed to be a widely accepted and routine practice in the early Church’s worship gatherings. Paul simply instructs the Corinthians to practice the gifts of the Spirit in an orderly and non-chaotic manner. If such practices were heretical and should be viewed as having no place among God’s people, we could expect that Paul would have informed them of this view rather than simply giving instructions concerning how to function properly in the use of the Spirit’s gifts.
3. The numbers that are mentioned in Scripture are rarely literal. They often have theological symbolism attached to them and are being used to communicate a truth or a concept instead of being used to provide a factual detail about the amount of something.
4. Our broken world can still be considered ‘good’ because God is using it to work out free will and the plan of redemption for eternity.
5. There are no “second-class” citizens in the Kingdom of God. Our past sin and transgressions do not position us 'over' or 'under' other members of the family of God. We all come before the Lord broken and in need of a righteousness that is not our own.
6. The Bible is full of people experiencing worry and anxiousness. It is a problem that could be considered “common to man.” Meaning, every person will, to some degree, experience worry and anxiety. Such things should not rule our lives, but it is not biblically sound to think and act as if believers can just pray away their anxieties.
7. Believers should not be fearful of the end; we are told to “look up and rejoice.” Those that should be fearful are those who love their sin and long for this temporary (and broken) world to continue.
TALK TO EACH OTHER:
1. The Bible is clear that we experience blessings when we respond to God's Word with obedience. But we also understand that we should not give solely in order to get. How should believers view, think about, and live out the above realities? Or, how do we balance these two concepts that are intricately tied together but are also seemingly in conflict with one another?
2. Can you think of some habits and practices that could possibly help a local group of believers practice the use of the Spirit's gifts in a healthy and orderly manner (within the gathered worship service)?
3. How can a believer determine if something mentioned in the Bible should be interpretated figuratively or literally? What are some tips and helpful hints that would steer new and young believers closer to employing a healthy method of biblical interpretation?
TALK TO GOD:
Pray as you feel led concerning the following areas:
- That you would be able to "turn over" to the Lord the situation in your life that has you overwhelmed
- Should we return to the Book of Malachi and explore if the Lord has a message for our church from this OT book? Pray that we will be given direction concerning this question.