Certain beliefs and practices define us as a religious group in our thinking and other religious groups’ thinking. Because we have a responsibility to be “prepared to make a defense” for the things we believe (1 Peter 3:15), we need to have a conversational understanding of our beliefs and practices that we can share with others. This lesson continues a series looking at some of the beliefs and practices that tend to define us, things like baptism, communion, and music in worship, and will offer a biblical explanation for them. In particular, this lesson explores some of our beliefs about the church: We believe the church exists as God’s new Israel and has the responsibility of mediating between God and the world through its dedication to thinking and acting like Jesus.
Ruth 2:10-14Grace is simple enough for any believer to receive. But the whole truth of grace is big enough, infinite in fact, for us to grow into as well. Christians not only receive grace but grow in grace. They receive and grow so they can better live among those saved by grace. Do we long to be stronger believers in grace? May we have the courage to be inconvenienced by God’s grace.
Jonah 1 — As we go through this life, it is no secret that at times we encounter great difficulty. Hardship therefore, is the reality that every believer should be ready (if not at least preparing) ourselves to face. The purpose of the message is to look at some key things we learn in the midst of our challenges that are invaluable to the Christian journey.
Colossians 2:11-12 – Certain beliefs and practices define us as a religious group in our thinking and the thinking of other religious groups. Because we have a responsibility to be “prepared to make a defense” for the things we believe (1 Peter 3:15), we need to have a conversational understanding of our beliefs and practices that we can share with others. This lesson begins a series looking at some of the more apparent beliefs and practices that tend to define us, things like baptism, communion, and music in worship, and will offer a biblical explanation for them. We continue our series with our exploration of our beliefs about baptism – we believe baptism symbolizes Jesus’ death and resurrection and is required by God for participation in His covenant community and the enjoyment of His covenant blessings.
Luke 24: 36-49 Certain beliefs and practices define us as a religious group in our thinking and the thinking of other religious groups. Because we have a responsibility to be “prepared to make a defense” for the things we believe (1 Peter 3:15), we need to have a conversational understanding of our beliefs and practices that we can share with others. This lesson begins a series looking at some of the more obvious beliefs and practices that tend to define us, things like baptism, communion, and music in worship, and will offer a biblical explanation for them. We begin our series in an obvious and foundational place; we begin with our convictions about the Bible: We believe God composed the Bible to tell the sweeping story of His relationship with humanity, a story that centers on Jesus and that provides the foundation for our beliefs and practices.
Acts 8:1-5–The first Christians were harassed and killed, robbed and evicted. The most significant action the individual Christian took was to focus on the next person they met, even if that person was a stranger. They acted like they believed the message of the gospel wasn’t just for people like them, but instead for anyone willing to follow Jesus.
Many people in our nation are currently debating the nature of freedom and its relationship to law and to others. While a number of people have articulated insightful and influential perspectives on the idea of freedom that offer some intellectual context for the debate, we look instead to the ruler of the kingdom in which we claim citizenship; we look to Jesus who announced that he came to “proclaim liberty to captives” (Luke 4:18) and we look to the example of the early church as people living out the liberty he proclaimed. We will therefore consider the early church’s teachings about freedom as a way to help us think about the freedom being debated in our nation today.
Ephesians 2:11-22 Regardless of what one thinks about the phrase “black lives matter”, it represents a truth about our nation – we live in a society that politicizes race. And, despite claims that we have become a more ‘enlightened’ society, the strong reactions that phrase solicits from people reminds us that race really does matter in our county. Given the current turmoil surrounding race in our nation, we will consider the way the early church responded to the division it encountered between Jews and Gentiles and explore what guidance its response offers us.
Alan Nalley, a missionary in Brazil whose work we help support, gives a report on his ministry. Alan and his wife, Ree, live in Guarapuava, Brazil, in Parana State. They began working full time in Guarapuava in January 2014, after 27 years of working with Christians in the city of Curitiba. Visit https://www.151cofc.com/ministries/missions/alan-and-ree-nalley/ for more about the Nalley’s work.
Our government’s response to events over the past few months has raised fears in many people that it is taking away their rights. While they do not usually characterize it as ‘oppression’, we generally understand that claims about have one’s rights revoked or repressed belong in the category of oppression. The growing debate in our nation about these concerns raises the question about the relationship we, as Christians, ought to have with our government. We will therefore consider Peter’s message in 1 Peter to see what wisdom the early church can offer us that will help us better understand our relationship to our government.
This lesson begins a series considering the wisdom of the early church, the wisdom that allowed them to navigate the daily realities of the first century world and evidence their claim of citizenship in Jesus’ kingdom. This first lesson considers the most important, and basic, wisdom of the early church – make Jesus the center of your life
Conflict seems to define the histories of our world’s nations. It proves so central to our understanding of nations that we even evaluate countries on the basis of their military strength and willingness to engage in conflict. Jesus came into the world announcing the arrival of a new kingdom, a kingdom over which he rules. But Jesus’ kingdom rejects the conflict thinking that defines the world’s kingdoms. His rejection of the world’s thinking does not result in his kingdom becoming some kind of spiritual Switzerland; instead Jesus’ kingdom embraces a radical agenda – Jesus’ kingdom seeks to reshape the world, which solicits the world’s hostility. This lesson concludes our exploration of Jesus’ kingdom and his expectations for those who claim citizenship in it by considering the conflict his kingdom encounters in the world and how he expects citizens of his kingdom to respond to that conflict.”
This lesson continues an exploration of Jesus’ kingdom and his expectations for those who claim citizenship in it. In particular, this lesson considers the values that motivate Jesus’ kingdom, how those values differ from the values that define the world’s kingdoms, and the place his kingdom values should have within the lives of its citizens.
This lesson begins a series exploring Jesus’ kingdom in effort to help us better understand what he expects of us as people who claim citizenship in his kingdom and what those expectations look like in practice. This first lesson considers the unexpected nature of Jesus’ kingdom and what it means for its citizens.
Tell the Story 1 Peter 3:15 If someone asked me why I put my hope in Jesus, what would I say? I could probably give several reasons, but have you ever been caught off guard and later wished you’d said something better, or different? It’s hard to always be ready. But Paul’s recollection of his conversion in Acts 22 help us to have our eyes open. He helps us to be on the lookout for those seeking a reason for hope. He also reminds us of why we place our hope in Jesus.
We have, in our nation, dedicated today to honor fathers. Good reasons motivate Fathers’ Day; not only do we love our fathers (for those of us who were blessed with good fathers), God also commands people to honor their fathers (Ephesians 6:2). Rather than expressing honor by buying gifts, Paul instructs us to honor fathers by obeying them (Ephesians 6:1-2). The command to honor fathers through obedience carries the expectation that fathers provide honorable teaching that focuses on raising children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). This lesson considers what that teaching looks like as a reminder to all of us about the honored place God intends fathers to occupy.
This lesson, delivered on our first Sunday the 151st Street church family returned to worshipping in the building after a long absence due to the coronavirus, explores parallels between our time away and the theme of exile in the Bible as a way of helping us think about our current situation. Luke 4: 16-21
The coronavirus pandemic, its economic fallout, and nationwide protests against police brutality and racial equality have disrupted our country. This lesson considers some of Jesus’ teachings that outline his expectations for the thinking and behavior of his followers, expectations that should shape our response to the issues disrupting our nation.
What does it feel like to be judged based on a set of unspoken rules? Has someone’s loudly shouted opinion ever made you feel small? Colossians 2:16-23 teaches about our tendency to allow obsolete rules to eclipse our ongoing relationship with Christ. Or how personal preferences or opinions about spiritual matters can distract from the substance of truth. Paul helps Christians avoid a lost connection with Christ in a way that also preserves their unity with other Christians.
This lesson continues an exploration of King Solomon’s life, considering how he models for us both the look of the growth God desires in our lives as well as the challenges that confront that growth. In particular, this lesson looks at Solomon’s prayer dedicating the temple he built and the attitude of penitent humility it expressed.