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The text I've chosen for this morning is 1 Corinthians 16:13, a short but powerful verse near the end of Paul's letter to that troubled church. This is a verse that outlines itself. Four simple imperatives: "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." There you have my outline in the exact words of the verse itself. Four points, separated by commas.
I chose that text not merely because it preaches itself, but mainly because this year I wanted to bring a word of encouragement and support to beleaguered shepherds who are trying to minister faithfully and biblically in these difficult times.
It's not easy. The church of our generation is shot through with deep-seated problems. The evangelical movement in particular is hopelessly confused, divided, frivolous, fleshly, man-centered. Even some of today's best-known and largest evangelical churches deliberately cultivate irreverence, superficiality, worldliness, compromise, carnal behavior, infidelity, and sometimes even the rankest kinds of heresy. In a hundred different ways the contemporary evangelical movement is exactly like the church at Corinth. Every problem that plagued Corinth is a hallmark of the culture in which you and I are called to serve Christ.