Session 2 – The Radically Normal Life of the Christian – Tim Challies

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

1 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.
2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;
4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,
5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.
7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.
8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,
10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,
11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,
12 so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

ESV

How do we live out the Christian life on a day-to-day basis? What does it look like in the home? What does it look like in the local home?

We are inundated with books that encourage us to live radical lives. To live crazy lives. These books are trying to meet the need to feel significant, to make a difference. The Bible tells us to be extraordinary. But is also tells us to ordinary, to be normal. What is the ordinary Christian life?

Thessalonica was a big city. It was an important city. It was an immoral city. The Christians ask Paul what it looks like to live as a Christian in such a city. What is Paul’s answer? Does he tell them to sell everything and spend all their time witnessing? Does he tell them to sell everything and live in a cloister? No.

We live with a low-grade guilt that we are not doing enough.

The summary of Paul’s teaching regarding living the Christian life:
1. Be decent
2. Be devoted
3. Be diligent

1. Be decent

a. Be sexually pure. The way we express sexuality tells whether we are following God or following along with the world

i. The culture in Paul’s day was shocking in its sexual immorality

ii. People being saved and coming into the church were bringing this baggage from their old life with them and did not know how to deal with it

b. The commands (vv. 3-5)

i. Negative – abstain from sexual immorality in order to be holy

ii. Positive – control your own body in holiness and honor

1. Self-control – Christians learn to control their desires

iii. Don’t do – Do do. Put off – Put on. Stop and Start. Run away – Run to.

c. The warnings (vv. 6-8)

i. Sexual sin defrauds another person

ii. God is the avenger

1. It cannot be hidden from God

2. God will protect the innocent from the guilty

iii. To ignore the warnings are to ignore God himself

d. What does it not say?

i. It does not say be celibate.

2. Be devoted (vv. 9-10)

a. Contrast is love versus lust.

b. Churches are warned about their lack of love and their loss of love.

c. The church in Thessalonica was exceling in love.

d. Four observations of the love of the Christian

i. Love is taught by God

1. How? By the cross. By the gospel.

ii. The primary object of the Christian’s love is for each other.

1. Love must make us uncomfortable because we must love those who are not like us.

iii. Love extends outward

1. …all the brothers throughout Macedonia.

2. Can the love of your church be gauged by what is said by other churches?

iv. Love is meant to grow.

1. It is a lifetime calling to grow.

2. …more and more.

e. What does Paul not say? Move around the world and love over there. He says love those around you right where you are.

3. Be diligent (vv. 11-12)

a. Aspire to live quietly. Be peaceful. Calm down. Be content to be unremarkable, to be unnoticed. Be normal.

b. Mind your own affairs (business). Don’t be involved in things that are not your concern.

i. Serve with others interest in mind, not your own interests.

c. Work with your own hands. Take care of yourself. Don’t be lazy. Don’t consider work as something beneath you.

This kind of life is to display the power of God to Christians and non-Christians (v.12). Your life will be God-honoring. We are not impressive to others if we are lazy, if we are busybodies, if we are unloving, if we have no self-control. The Lord expects us to live lives as ordinary Christians. Those who are going to live a “radical” life must also be ready to live an “ordinary” life. If we want to see the ultimate example of living this ordinary life, we need look no farther than the Lord Jesus Christ.


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Session 1 – The Church is God’s Will for Your Life – Josh Buice

Ephesians 4:1-16
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”
9 ( In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

ESV

A working definition of the church – called out of the world, darkness, sin. Not entertainment. Metaphors for the church: family, body, flock, building, bride

Modern-day problems related to the church: attempts to redefine the church away from its central mission. Impotent pulpit. Laziness in the church.

God’s will for your life: spend your life for the life of the church.

Ephesians – a letter from Paul to a church he loves. Theology and working out of that theology.

1. The Church is called to unity (vv. 1-6)

a. It is a worthy cause

b. Live our lives to honor Christ

c. Culture does not tell us how to “do” church

d. We are held accountable to be called out from the world

e. The calling is a God-centered calling (vv.2-6)

i. Unity, or the lack thereof, is often over trivial matters

ii. Notice the alliteration: “one…”

iii. One Body – all the parts are important

iv. One Spirit – the Spirit is the bond of unity

v. One Hope – a hope the world knows nothing of

vi. One Lord – exclusivity of Christ

vii. One Faith – the faith once delivered to the saints

viii. One Baptism – obedience to the command of Jesus Christ, not an agent of salvation

ix. One God and Father who is…– declaration of the comprehensive character of God

2. The Church is Gifted by God (vv.7-12)

a. By Grace

b. The gifts of the church (vv.8-11)

i. The apostles

ii. The prophets

iii. The evangelists

iv. The preachers and teachers

c. The gifts were given to equip (v.12)

i. Lives are being given away to things that are not ministry

ii. Lives are being given away to ministries that are not connected to the church

3. The Goal is Maturity (vv.13-16)

a. God desires His church to grow in maturity (v.13)

b. The immature know nothing about Christ

i. Pastors are to blame for this

c. God desires stability in the church (v.14)

i. Pastors should work for the members to be stable in their faith

d. God desires the sanctification of the church (vv.15-16)

i. A mature church is a loving church


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The Sacred Search Couple’s Conversation Guide by Gary Thomas

The Sacred Search Couple’s Conversation Guide by Gary Thomas

Free Kindle book for a limited time. {Today 12/17/13 Kindles are $49}

In this companion resource to The Sacred Search, Gary Thomas helps dating and engaged couples work through the critical issues and questions they must address before they decide to marry. The Sacred Search Couple’s Conversation Guide features 9 sessions of biblical study for couples, as well as a pastor/counselor’s premarital plan for walking a couple through the guide.

The The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not about Who You Marry, But Why? is available for $2.99 for a limited time.  I have read this book and it is one of the better books dealing with dating or courting relationships.  It does not go off into the extremes of patriarchy where the father picks the fellow for his daughter nor does it leave couples floundering around hoping that dating gets them the “perfect” marriage partner.

What if you stopped looking for a “soul mate” and started looking for a “sole mate”—someone who will live out with you the great purpose of God? What if dating isn’t about finding “the one” but making a wise choice so you can better serve the One who loves you most? What if God didn’t design relationships to make you happy but to make you holy?

In The Sacred Search, Gary Thomas will transform the way you look at romantic relationships. Whether you are single, dating, or engaged, Gary’s unique perspective on dating will prepare you for a satisfying, spiritually enriching marriage even before you walk down the aisle. As Gary reminds us, a good marriage is not something you find—it’s something you make.


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A Quest for More by Paul David Tripp

A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger than You by Paul David Tripp

Free Kindle book for a limited time.

Paul David Tripp expertly traverses the deepest recesses of the human heart and compassionately invites fellow Christian travelers to journey with him into God’s bigger kingdom.

The author promises readers that they will be encouraged, excited, and motivated by hope as they learn how to set aside their “little kingdom” attachments which can expertly masquerade within the church as Christian activism, legalism, emotionalism, formalism, creedalism, and externalism; in favor of God’s expansive and soul-freeing eternal quest. Tripp demonstrates through sound biblical principles how humanity is made by God to transcend far beyond the mere physical realm and is likewise created to be “glory junkies;” those whose visionary lives are governed by God’s grand purposes rather than existing only within their narrow self-interested confines.

Writes the author, “It is a fundamental denial of your humanity to narrow the size of your life to the size of your own existence, because you were created to be an ‘above and more’ being. You were made to be transcendent.” Tripp then shows Christians how to “transcend” through daily, moment-by-moment, practical methodology that transforms individuals into the image of Christ. It is within this purpose-driven framework, this “Quest for More”, that Paul Tripp compels believers to see beyond the worldly deception of personal achievement, success, materialism, in order to break free from this ungodly fulfillment that is too easily satisfied with a mediocre walk with Christ. Instead the author invites committed sojourners to a life characterized by an unyielding passion that pursues God simply for the pleasure of his glorious company and in the process, affect eternal change in a hurting, hopeless world.


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Reimagining Church By Frank Viola

Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity By Frank Viola

Free Kindle book for a limited time.

Author Frank Viola gives readers language for all they knew was missing in their modern church experience. He believes that many of today’s congregations have shifted from God’s original intent for the church. As a prominent leader of the house church movement, Frank is at the forefront of a revolution sweeping through the body of Christ. A change that is challenging the spiritual status quo and redefining the very nature of church. A movement inspired by the divine design for authenticity community. A fresh concept rooted in ancient history and in God Himself.

Join Frank as he shares God’s original intent for the church, where the body of Christ is an organic, living, breathing organism. A church that is free of convention, formed by spiritual intimacy, and unbound by four walls.

Pagan Christianity? Frank Viola and George Barna was a book I reviewed back in 2008 when I first started this website.  While I didn’t agree with everything in the book it was a good impetus to go back and see what exactly the Bible does say about church, worship and living as believers.  I’m sure Reimagining Church will be similar with points that line up with Scripture and make you think and points that takes things to far.  But then if you don’t think about these things then you are not truly being Berean (Acts 17:11).


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The Process Is The Point – Hebrews 12:1

Hebrews 12:1–3 (ESV)

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

6. Lay aside every weight

Hebrews 12:1 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Notice that weights are different from sins? What might be some weights that hinder us yet it isn’t sin?  They may even be good things that keep us from doing the best things.

What could you streamline?  Hobbies, extra activities, etc.

How can you evaluate things as to being a weight?

1. Glorify God?

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV) So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

2. Profitable? or

3. Enslaving?

1 Corinthians 6:12 (ESV) “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.

4. Cause Others to stumble?

1 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV) But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

5. Edify Yourself or others?

1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV) “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.


See the The Process Is The Point Series


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Marriage Matters by Winston Smith

Marriage Matters: Extraordinary Change through Ordinary Moments by Winston T. Smith

Free Kindle book today only

Can Ordinary Marriages Become Extraordinary?

He snapped at her during breakfast. She brought up a past mistake. He walked out angry. She left without saying good-bye. An ordinary day in an ordinary marriage. But what if things could be different? What if the moments that seem the most ordinary moments of annoyance, conflict, pain, or cold indifference could become moments in which you’re able to understand God’s incredible agenda for love and begin to do something new?

Winston T. Smith, drawing on his extensive experience as a marriage counselor, offers a simple yet powerful prescription for changing your marriage. He shows how examining the everyday disappointments and irritations in your marriage will help you understand yourself, your spouse, and your need for God’s love. Change begins with seeing day-to-day interactions from a different perspective, taking simple steps to love one another more effectively, and then learning how to take those steps over and over again. Interactions that used to devolve into pointless annoyances and fights can become an opportunity for God’s activity and love to become increasingly evident and powerful.

The principles in this book will take your marriage to extraordinary places and lead you into a deeper relationship with an extraordinary God. Don’t settle for an ordinary marriage, learn to live out God’s extraordinary love in your most intimate relationship.

Winston T. Smith, M.Div., is a counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF) and has extensive experience as a marriage and family counselor. In addition to the Marriage Matters book, he is also the author of two Marriage Matters companion products: Marriage Matters Manual Facilitators Guide, and Marriage Matters Study Guide. Additionally, he is the author of the minibooks Divorce Recovery: Growing and Healing God’s Way; Help for Stepfamilies: Avoiding the Pitfalls and Learning to Love; It’s All About Me: The Problem with Masturbation; and Who Does the Dishes? Decision Making in Marriage.

Free Kindle book today only.


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The Process Is The Point – 1 Corinthians 9:27

1 Corinthians 9:24–27 (ESV)

    24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

    25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

    26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.

    27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

 

4. Discipline my body

1 Corinthians 9:27 (ESV) But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

If we do not discipline ourselves, God will discipline us.

Hebrews 12:5-11 (ESV)

5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Discipline leads to the fruit of righteousness.

Hebrews 12:11 (ESV) For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Discipline ourselves for godliness.

1 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV)

7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;
8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

 

5. Keep my body under Control

1 Corinthians 9:27 (ESV) But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Keeping your body under control requires training it.

1 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV)

7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;
8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Did you notice that this verse also points out that there are promises for the present life and for the life to come?

 


See the The Process Is The Point Series


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The Process Is The Point – 1 Corinthians 9:25-26

1 Corinthians 9:24–27 (ESV)

    24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

    25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

    26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.

    27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

 

2. Exercise Self-Control

1 Corinthians 9:25 (ESV) Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

What is self-control?

2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV) We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Self-control is taking every thought, word or deed captive under Christ to obey Christ.

We can’t exercise self-control on our own though, it is a fruit of the Spirit.  Only through the Holy Spirit’s working in our lives can we have self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

We also must compete according to the rules, no making up the rules as you go along.

2 Timothy 2:5 (ESV) An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

Otherwise you may be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:27 (ESV) But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.   

 

3. Do not run Aimlessly

1 Corinthians 9:26 (ESV) So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.

Run as for the Lord

Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.


See the The Process Is The Point Series


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