"Consider it pure joy (all joy, great joy), my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance (patience, endurance, steadfastness). 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature (perfect) and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).

James tells us that trials are beneficial and that suffering may be good for us; it can help us to become who we truly would like to be: mature, "perfect," complete and whole, not lacking anything (Ps 23:1). I pray that this may be the attitude we embrace as we begin the new year.

As we begin 2017 it may be good to express the Why, How and What of our church, West Loop Church:

  • The WHY of West Loop is to always declare grace (Ac 20:24), rest (Mt 11:28) and freedom (Gal 5:1).
  • The HOW is through Scripture (2 Tim 3:16) and life together (1 Jn 1:3), i.e. through Bible study and community.
  • The WHAT is to give generously of our life, time and money--all of our resources (Dt 6:5; Lev 19:18; 2 Cor 5:15).

Romans 12:1, 2

romans12Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
     
Pastor Tim Keller says Chapter 12: 1-2 are a summary of the whole of the Christian life! If someone asked you what is your motivation for Christian living? What would you say? When I was younger, my motivation was based on fear. Specifically, to avoid the fires of hell. In these two short verses, Paul explains the motivation for Christian living. It can be summed up in two words. “Therefore,” and “in view of God’s mercy."

"Thus says the Lord: 'Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my righteousness be revealed'" (Isa 56:1). “For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: 'I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite'" (Isa 57:15).

Theme"Keep justice and do righteousness" (Isa 56:1) is the theme for the rest of the book of Isaiah (chapters 56-66). Revival happens when people seek the Lord through repentance (Isa 55:6-7) and righteousness is practiced and lived out among us. Without righteousness being objectively evident among God's people, God's name is blasphemed among the nations (Isa 52:5).

Righteousness Revives Our Hearts (Isaiah 56-57): The Good, the Bad and the ...

  1. The Good (56:1-8): God’s people as they should be
  2. The Bad (56:9 – 57:13): God’s people as they should not be
  3. The Contrite (57:14-21): The people God dwells with