Bible Study

This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.

Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States

Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses

Friday, December 02, 2016

Bible Study - Rhythm (1) - GOD'S Word Delights - Psalm 119:1-8 - December 4, 2016

Bible Study – Rhythm (1) – GOD’S Word Delights – December 4, 2016

This is lesson one (1) in our new series entitled “Spoken: The Rhythm of GOD’S Word.”

We experience joy as we follow GOD’S Word.

Our focus scripture is Psalm 119:1-8.

For the next six-weeks our scripture will be focused on Psalm 119.
Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in the Book of Psalms. It is focused upon one central topic and that is “GOD’S Word.” The psalmist exalts GOD’S Word as a vital building block for life.

The title of our study “Rhythm of GOD’S Word” to me is so unique and expressive. When we are in perfect relationship with GOD through faith in JESUS there is a natural peace, harmony and rhythmic flow in our lives. It is like a well prepared and rehearsed orchestra that has worked hard but has enjoyed every second of its preparation to perform each note to the glory of GOD and HIS Majesty with GOD as the conductor.

Psalm 199 is an acrostic, which is an alphabetic poem. There are 22-letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Verses 1-8 in today’s study begin with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet “alef.” Then the second set of verses 9-16 begin with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet “bet.” The third letter of the Hebrew alphabet is “gimel” thus verses 17-24 all begin with “gimel.” This pattern is repeated in Psalm 119 using all 22-letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which totals 176 verses – 22 Hebrew letters times 8 verses for each letter equals 176 verses.

Several Bible translations give the Hebrew letter of their alphabet at the beginning of each 8-verse section or strophes.

The number 8 is a special number in Hebrew history. As you may recall a male child was circumcised on the eighth day. JESUS was circumcised on the eighth day. It relates to being in covenant with GOD. Noah and his family totaled eight people; JESUS was resurrected on the third day, which is first day (Sunday); the eighth day or the first day after the Sabbath. Eight refers to new beginnings. The number seven is considered the number of completion e.g. on the seventh day GOD rested after creating the world. On the eighth day the world functioned as GOD planned.

GOD’S Word reveals the truth about GOD, HIS nature, HIS character and HIS guidance to all people for building the right relationship with HIM. HIS Word is a lamp or light for us to get to know about GOD and ultimately to get to know GOD personally in an intimate and loving personal relationship as we put into action what HE reveals to us.

GOD’S Word is not a substitute for GOD but a guide to GOD Himself. JESUS CHRIST is the ultimate revelation of GOD in the flesh and HIS love for every human. JESUS gave HIS perfect physical, sinless life by the shedding of HIS blood for all who place their faith in HIM. The shedding of HIS blood obliterates sin for all who place their faith in HIM and imputes eternal life to them; Spiritual rebirth.

Faith in JESUS is the ultimate “new beginning” of eternal life as GOD’S Son or Daughter through the miracle of rebirth, which is assured by the resurrection of JESUS. The shed blood of JESUS redeems all who place their faith in JESUS from the consequence of sin, which is eternal death. My prayer is that all who read this will choose eternal life over eternal death by accepting JESUS as their Savior.

The Holy Spirit inspired the writer of Psalm 119 to write in this manner. Some Bible scholars believe the writer was the Prophet Ezra.

As we study Psalm 119, may the Holy Spirit reveal to us the wonders of HIS handiwork through HIS inspired Word as it relates to our lives in 2016 and beyond! GOD’S Word is just as relevant today as it was when it was penned. Let’s explore!

[]Copied from page 6, Herschel Hobbs Commentary, winter 2016-2017, printed by LifeWay, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-0175.
[For both the musician and the lover of music, rhythm is important. Rhythm provides a measured, systematic arrangement of the music so that each note is sounded at the proper time. Each note, in its proper place and time, contributes vitally to the whole, making for beautiful music.
GOD spoke HIS Word with the same systematic, measured approach. Each of the 66 books of the Bible is different in style, purpose, and/or authorship, but together the books present a beautiful complete picture of GOD’S revelation. We are reminded of this in the grand poetry of Psalm 119.
When we listen and let GOD speak through Scripture, the rhythm of GOD’ S Word becomes the rhythm of our own lives. Through the Bible, GOD has spoken all we need for life. We experience the fullness of life when we obey GOD’S Word. GOD’S Word reveals our sin by revealing HIS truth and righteousness. The Word also reveals the solution to our sin. JESUS is the ultimate Word from GOD who brings salvation. (to those who accept HIM, by faith, as their Savior. My addition)
GOD’S Word is powerful and life-changing. As believer’s, we should work together in understanding and applying GOD’S Word. In that way, we can encourage each other to stand confidently on the truth of GOD’S Word, realizing that an ever-changing culture does not change and meaning of GOD’S Word.]

Let’s read Psalm 119: 1-3:
Delight in God's Word

Alef  - The First Letter of the Hebrew Alphabet

1 How happy are those whose way is blameless, who live according to the law of the Lord!

This psalm begins with the Beatitude “How happy.” This is another way of saying “blessed” which means “happy.” JESUS taught the characteristics a Christian should have in HIS sermon on the mount, called the Beatitudes.

Happy can relate to the state the person is in or a prayer for the person to be in when he or she discovers GOD, Who loves him or her totally, as he or she comes to HIM just the way he or she is. As the person seeks GOD, he or she will find HIM. Once they encounter JESUS, the indwelling Holy Spirit begins the process of sanctification, which is to make us more like JESUS. When we live in harmony with GOD we have an inner peace. Living in this inner peace means that we are putting into action what we are gleaning from GOD’S Word.

The word “blameless” means living before GOD in total and complete purity. It carries the idea of perfection, in thought, intention and action. In the flesh that seems totally impossible and it is. However, today we have the added knowledge that those who accept the redemptive work of JESUS through HIS shed blood, stand before GOD as righteous and are under GOD’S grace. Through GOD’S plan of reconciliation each person’s faith in JESUS cleanses and restores that person to the original pure sinless condition GOD intended. All Christians are in this state of purity, so why don’t we live like it?

2 Happy are those who keep His decrees and seek Him with all their heart.

Keeping GOD’S Decrees and seeking HIM with all their heart involves continuous activity thus becomes the lifestyle of the person. This means building an obedient, intimate relationship with GOD and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you.

GOD’S desire is for each of HIS children to love HIM with all of his or her heart because HE loves him or her with all of HIS heart. The key in any relationship is for that relationship to grow as we learn about the nature and characteristics of each other and work together. GOD knows us but we do not know HIM. As we keep the decrees of GOD, it leads us to know more about GOD. The more we know GOD, the more we love and trust HIM.

3 They do nothing wrong; they follow His ways.

When HIS child is in right relationship with HIM obedience becomes a way of life. We, as GOD’S children, desire to be obedient but we often fail. That is why GOD’S grace is sufficient to always keep us in relationship with HIM. Thus, GOD’S true children can do nothing wrong for them to lose their salvation but are always GOD’S Son or Daughter. There will be varying rewards based upon the obedience of Christians but Christians will never lose their salvation.

Satan will do all he can to make us believe that GOD has abandoned us. When we realize that we have sinned we are to confess our sin, repent (stop doing it) and GOD’S part is to forgive, cleanse and restore. GOD does not abandon HIS Children.

Let’s read Psalm 119:4-6:

4 You have commanded that Your precepts be diligently kept.

Precepts carry the idea “to exercise oversight over a subordinate.” GOD’S Word is sufficient to guide you through life. The word “kept” carries the idea of paying close attention to the areas in life that GOD has considered important and vital for living in relationship with HIM. We are to be diligent about the study HIS Word so that we will know about these precepts and be obedient to what HE reveals to us. To be diligent is to be relentless about knowing what GOD’S Word reveals about GOD and how those who are in right relationship with HIM are to live.

5 If only my ways were committed to keeping Your statutes!

The psalmist acknowledges that our human nature falls short of our desire to be totally committed to living according to what GOD reveals through HIS Word. Often, most Christians have this sense of not measuring up to GOD’S standard. But once GOD’S Child, always GOD’S Child through faith in JESUS. JESUS said it best in Matthew 28:20:

20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Never give up on your quest to obediently serve GOD no matter how overwhelming it may seem to you. YOU CANNOT MEASURE UP IN YOUR OWN STRENGTH. CHRISTIANS MUST ALLOW THE HOLY SPIRIT TO LIVE THROUGH THEM. WHEREAS YOU CANNOT, THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN.

6 Then I would not be ashamed when I think about all Your commands.

Adam and Eve were ashamed after they sinned and hid themselves from GOD. They were coming from perfection to sinners. We are coming from sinners to perfection through faith in JESUS by HIS shed blood. Adam and Eve’s first response was to cover their sin by to sowing together fig leaves. GOD had to shed the blood of an animal, the first animal sacrifice, to provide garments of skin to cover Adam and Eve. Their provision was inadequate to deal with their sin but GOD in HIS love dealt with their core problem the sin of disobedience. The shed blood of the animal was a place holder for Adam and Eve until the ultimate sacrifice was made by the shedding of blood by GOD’S only sinless Son, JESUS.  

GOD had told Adam the consequence of eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, death. GOD had placed Adam in-charge of the Garden. Adam did not prevent Eve from tasting the fruit but instead he joined her.

Adam and Eve violated GOD’S spoken Word, which led to sin and eternal death. GOD came to their rescue and provided for their redemption and for the redemption of all their off-spring through the ultimate sacrifice of JESUS. We are the off-spring of Adam and Eve. As GOD gave Adam and Eve the freedom to choose, HE gives every person that same right to choose. GOD’S Word reveals the areas which we are to avoid in our lives. We have the choice to be obedient or to reject. When we reject what GOD reveals as truth, we suffer the consequence. Satan’s lies are to go-ahead and do what GOD says you shouldn’t! GOD’S Word reveals the consequence of disobedience.

Do you want to build a lifestyle and be in right relationship with GOD? If so, study HIS Word and diligently apply HIS Word to your life.

When we read GOD’S Word, it exposes us to truth from GOD’S perspective. 

HIS Word convicts us of our sin and reveals our shortcomings according to GOD’S standard of righteousness. When GOD’S Word reveals truth that applies to our lives, we are to pay attention and act upon this revealed truth. GOD’S Word is designed to bring all people either to a saving knowledge of HIM through faith in JESUS or to equip those who have placed their faith in JESUS to obediently and confidently serve HIM as led by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The process of sanctification builds an intimate, loving, personal relationship with GOD through JESUS. JESUS is the gateway to GOD. JESUS said it best in John 14:6:

6 Jesus told him (Thomas), "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

We have the privilege of this confirmed knowledge today, whereas GOD had placed this yearning into the heart of the psalmist.

We as Christians fall short of GOD’S ideal but the shed blood of JESUS covers them such they are never ashamed because they are always in right standing with GOD as HIS Son or Daughter through the miracle of rebirth.
Do you recall 2 Corinthians 5:21?

21 He (GOD) made the One (JESUS) who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Let’s read Psalm 119: 7-8:

7 I will praise You with a sincere heart when I learn Your righteous judgments.

This knowledge of GOD’S Provision for all who, by faith accept JESUS as their Savior should result in an outpouring of praise. GOD is eager for all people to come to HIM as they are and HE provides the cleansing and restoration as they study HIS Word. Walking with GOD becomes a lifestyle and not a flash in the pan.

The psalmist acknowledges that he is in the learning process and as he studies GOD’S Word he will praise HIM and be obedient to what GOD reveals. The psalmist trusts GOD to reveal truth as he studies HIS Word and lives accordingly. The psalmist is aware of GOD’S righteous judgment and because GOD is a righteous judge, he can be totally honest with GOD and 
praise HIM even when in despair over his failures.

8 I will keep Your statutes; never abandon me.

The psalmist commits to keeping GOD’S Word and he knows the unspeakable joy that will be revealed to him. GOD’S Word leads to solutions, even though it first may condemn.

As the psalmist builds this intimate relationship with GOD, he expresses his heart’s desire for their relationship to never end. He pleads with GOD never to leave him. In essence, he seems to be asking GOD to hold him such that he does nothing to break their relationship. The psalmist did not want his discovery of truth to lead him to becoming unacceptable to GOD.

What joy Christians have in that the Holy Spirit confirms that we are GOD’S children and empowers, enlightens, guides, assures, teaches and protects us.
Some people may think that they have GOD figured out and can arrive at a point where there is nothing else to learn about GOD or from GOD. They become self-sufficient or self-righteous. That is Satan’s deception. GOD tells us in Isaiah 55:6-9:

6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

GOD is magnificent and majestic. HE is loving, caring and desires for every person to come to HIM and love HIM. HE forgives, cleanses and restores when asked through faith in JESUS.

Reach out to HIM because HIS hand and arm is not so short that HE will not reach you and lift you up from your sin. Rejoice in HIM as HE restores you to full fellowship and relationship with HIM. HE is waiting for you to respond to HIS call. Do not delay. Eternity is but a heartbeat away. This world has nothing to offer except an opportunity to accept CHRIST as your Savior and for you to experience the miracle of rebirth through faith in JESUS. Now is the moment of salvation or restoration. Blessings!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bible Study - Give Thanks - Anyway - 2 Chronicles 20:10-12, 14-17, 2022, 29-30 - November 27, 2016

Bible Study – Give Thanks – Anyway – November 27, 2016

This is a special Thanksgiving Lesson.

Focus scripture is 2 Chronicles 20:10-12, 14-17, 20-22, 29-30.

We can give thanks in every situation.

This is an appropriate study for our celebration of Thanksgiving. We are thankful for GOD’S grace toward us as humans. John 3:16-18 reflects GOD’S love and concern for every human who has been or will ever be born upon earth:

16 "For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.

Do you think that you are upon earth by random probability and chance? No! It is by design. This is your time to be redeemed from sin and its consequence, eternal death. At the end of your life you will go into eternity. You will either be reconciled with GOD through faith in JESUS or forever cut off from GOD, Who loves you by rejecting JESUS as your Savior. The choice is yours to make.

Those who accept JESUS as their Savior are most thankful to GOD because HE provided redemption and salvation through HIS love for each human by sending HIS only Son, JESUS, to earth to provide the way of salvation/redemption from sin and its consequence of eternal death.

Accept GOD’S gift now by asking JESUS to forgive you for your sins and for HIM to come into your heart and experience the miracle of rebirth in your spirit. The miracle of rebirth means that you are born in your spirit into GOD’S family as HIS Son or HIS Daughter, and receive eternal life and citizenship into Heaven.

Be thankful for a loving GOD Who goes to all lengths to redeem you from eternal death which is Hell.

Our scripture focuses upon a physical event that helps us to understand GOD’S care for us in the Spiritual realm. Let’s explore!

King Jehoshaphat (jih HAHSH uh fat) reined over Judah for 25 years. He was a faithful ruler and worshiper of Yahweh, the LORD. Our focus scripture is part of Jehoshaphat’s prayer which begins in verse six.

Let’s read 2 Chronicles 20:5-9: (Lead-in)

5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard

6 and said: “LORD, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.

7 Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?

8 They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying,

9 ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

Jehoshaphat reconfirmed their relationship with GOD and HIS relationship to them. Often, in times of trouble we need to rethink our relationship with GOD. It is a time to review our relationship and our faithfulness with HIM. If in that process of review issues are revealed, where we have sinned and we need to confess them and ask for forgiveness, then we must respond. Afterwards, we are in a position to move forward with our request and seek GOD’S help in times of need or trouble.

Let’s read 2 Chronicles 20:10-12:

10 Now here are the Ammonites, Moabites, and [the inhabitants of] Mount Seir. You did not let Israel invade them when Israel came out of the land of Egypt, but Israel turned away from them and did not destroy them.

GOD had prevented Israel from attacking the very enemies that were now poised to invade Judah.

11 Look how they repay us by coming to drive us out of Your possession that You gave us as an inheritance.

Jehoshaphat did not have to remind GOD that they were exactly where GOD wanted them to be but he and the Israelites needed to be reminded. Often in times of distress or trouble we need to reflect upon why we are where we are. 

Are we where we are because of GOD’S design or our desires? In this case, they were exactly where GOD wanted them to be.

12 Our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this vast multitude that comes [to fight] against us. We do not know what to do, but we look to You.

In essence, since we are where YOU want us to be “Will YOU not judge them?” That was a question with a positive and confident response in mind. 

Simply, we are where YOU desire for us to be and we are powerless to defend ourselves. We are helpless to defend ourselves but GOD YOU are all powerful and we confidently look to YOU and YOU alone for our protection.

There are times in our lives when all of our efforts are useless to solve the issues in life that we face. Only GOD can come to our rescue as we look to HIM for help.

Our recent presidential election is a case and point to consider.

Let’s read 2 Chronicles 20:13-17:
God's Answer

13 All Judah was standing before the Lord with their infants, their wives, and their children.

Jehoshaphat was praying but all of Judah was standing before the LORD including their infants, wives and children. Such an assembly reflects the heart of the nation.

Do we reflect that same dependent attitude toward GOD for our nation? Do we have a sense of relief that we think we have a leader we think will lead us? We cannot back off from our desire to be a nation who lifts up JESUS as our Savior and LORD. Having a nation where people mouth the name of JESUS without their hearts being changed is of little to no value. JESUS said it best in Matthew 7:21-23:

True and False Disciples

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’

23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

I say of little value because mouthing the name of JESUS can always lead to a realization that the person mouthing HIS name needs a personal relationship with JESUS. Do not play the game of trying to fool GOD by playing like a Christian because GOD knows your heart.

GOD is giving America a second opportunity to get it right. Will we as HIS people serve HIM or attempt to amass wealth for ourselves?

14 In the midst of the congregation, the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel (son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite from Asaph's descendants),

There was unity and harmony as the people gathered seeking help from GOD and guess WHO responded through Jahaziel, GOD.

15 and he said, "Listen carefully, all Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. This is what the Lord says: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's.

Jahaziel spoke the words GOD revealed to him. GOD assured the Judahites that victory was theirs because this was GOD’S battle. When Christians come up against the issues of life, they need to seek the wisdom of the LORD. Whose battle are we facing? What is our part and what is GOD’S part? Are we in a situation because of sin or following our own desires or are we in a situation because GOD’S desire for us to see HIS hand at work? HIS working could be for our benefit, the benefit of others or both. Life is walking with GOD through faith in JESUS or to find JESUS if we do not already know HIM.

16 Tomorrow, go down against them. You will see them coming up the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley facing the Wilderness of Jeruel.

The people had to put into action what GOD revealed to them. They had to take a step of faith. The people had a choice: Do we respond or do we sit back and see if GOD will defend us without us having to do anything. NO! GOD commanded them to ----

17 You do not have to fight this [battle]. Position yourselves, standstill, and see the salvation of the Lord. [He is] with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow, go out to face them, for the Lord is with you.' "

Faith in action is what GOD desires from HIS children. This is as true today as it was in the Old Testament days. The key is for GOD to reveal and for us to take the revealed action. We must be careful not to respond when GOD has not revealed how HE desires for us to respond.

So what will the people do? Let’s read on.

Let’s read 2 Chronicles 20:20-22, 29-30:
Victory and Plunder

20 In the morning they got up early and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa. 

As they were about to go out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Hear me, Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem. Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe in His prophets, and you will succeed."

King Jehoshaphat reminded the people that their faith in GOD and HIS power as revealed in the scriptures through HIS prophets equals success. Now, they would experience GOD’S care for them. That is faith in action.

21 Then he consulted with the people and appointed some to sing for the Lord and some to praise the splendor of [His] holiness. When they went out in front of the armed forces, they kept singing: Give thanks to the Lord, for His faithful love endures forever.

Judah had an army but greater than their army was their faith in GOD. King Jehoshaphat was a Godly king and he consulted with the people. Was he soliciting volunteers? The key is that he appointed some to go before their army and sing for the LORD and praise HIS holiness. This was a confident display of their confidence and dependence upon GOD. It sent a powerful message to the enemies of Judah.

22 The moment they began [their] shouts and praises, the Lord set an ambush against the Ammonites, Moabites, and [the inhabitants of] Mount Seir who came [to fight] against Judah, and they were defeated.

The instant the Judahites who were marching ahead of their army began to shout and praise the LORD, the LORD took action.

GOD reveals to us what HE desires for HIS children to do but HE does not act until we obediently respond.

What is an ambush?

We read that GOD set an ambush against the enemies of Judah. What did GOD do? Let’s read verses 23-28:

23 The Ammonites and Moabites turned against the inhabitants of Mount Seir and completely annihilated them. When they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped destroy each other.

GOD turned the enemies of Judah against each other and they destroyed themselves. WOW! GOD is faithful. HIS ways are not our ways and HIS thoughts are above our thoughts. Who would have ever believed what GOD had in mind to defeat the enemies of Judah? Our part is to be faithful to HIM as we, HIS Children, march ahead of our power as we go into battle each day.

Are we secure in our faith such that our LORD is at work in places where we have no clue about what HE is doing in our behalf?  

Romans 8:28 comes to mind: (GOD works on behalf of HIS Children or HIS Children to be.)

28 We know that (GOD is in) all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

When the people of Judah approached the battle field, what did they see?

24 When Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude, and there were corpses lying on the ground; nobody had escaped.

25 Then Jehoshaphat and his people went to gather the plunder. They found among them an abundance of goods on the bodies and valuable items. So they stripped them until nobody could carry any more. They were gathering the plunder for three days because there was so much.

26 They assembled in the Valley of Beracah on the fourth day, for there they praised the Lord. Therefore, that place is still called the Valley of Beracah today.

They gave GOD the credit. They knew that GOD came to their rescue in a mighty way. When GOD comes to our aid, we must not neglect to praise HIM and keep in mind HIS care for us. But sadly many of us forget and return to life as usual and relegate GOD to the back burner of our lives. But what did the people of Judah do? Let’s read on.

27 Then all the men of Judah and Jerusalem turned back with Jehoshaphat at their head, returning joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord enabled them to rejoice over their enemies.

28 So they came into Jerusalem to the Lord's temple with harps, lyres, and trumpets.

The people returned not to bathe themselves in their success but to worship because of the faithfulness of GOD. Is our relationship with GOD such that we praise and honor HIM when victory comes in our lives? Does HIS care for us result in us standing in awe of HIM? If not, why not? If that is our nature, we need to go before GOD and ask HIM to reveal our hearts and help us to be changed through the renewing of our minds to obedient serve HIM. Life is all about having the right relationship with GOD through active faith.

Let’s read 2 Chronicles 20:29-30:

29 The terror of God was on all the kingdoms of the lands when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel.

The obedience of the Judahites under the leadership of King Jehoshaphat resulted in sending a powerful message to surrounding kingdoms. The message was that the GOD of Judah is all powerful and fights in their behalf.
Guess what? GOD still fights for HIS Children every day today.

30 Then Jehoshaphat's kingdom was quiet, for his God gave him rest on every side.

Only our faith and confidence in GOD through our faith in JESUS can give us peace during the storms that are sure to come into our lives as Christians. Christians are not exempt from troubles, just as Judah faced a multitude of enemies.

We as Christians face a multitude of enemies each day. In whom do we place our trust and confidence through an intimate, loving relationship? GOD loves you and has a plan for your life. Place your trust in JESUS, GOD’S only SON and receive salvation. Experience the miracle of rebirth in your spirit to be born anew into GOD’S family as HIS Son or Daughter and receive eternal life. 

Happy Thanksgiving! Blessings!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Bible Study - Unstoppable (6) - Unstoppable Impact - Acts 17:16-18, 22-23, 30-31 - November 20, 2016

Bible Study – Unstoppable (6) – Unstoppable Impact – November 20, 2016

This is lesson six (6) and the final lesson in our series entitled “Unstoppable Gospel.”

Our focus scripture is Acts 17:16-18, 22-23, 30-31.

The gospel of JESUS CHRIST can impact any culture.

In this lesson, we fast forward to the Apostle Paul in Athens. It is interesting how GOD guides HIS servants to where HE desires for them to preach HIS message. Let’s read Acts 17:1-15:

A Short Ministry in Thessalonica

1 Then they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.

2 As usual, Paul went to them, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures,

3 explaining and showing that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead, and saying: "This is the Messiah, Jesus, whom I am proclaiming to you."

4 Then some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, including a great number of God-fearing Greeks, as well as a number of the leading women.

The term “GOD-fearing” applies to those who have not fully converted to Judaism. They have not been circumcised but they believe in one GOD and accept the moral and ethical teachings of Judaism. 

The Assault on Jason's House

5 But the Jews became jealous, and when they had brought together some scoundrels from the marketplace and formed a mob, they set the city in an uproar. Attacking Jason's house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly.

I thought this was interesting, that thugs were enlisted to form a mob to disrupt. Does that remind you of anything going on in America today? Satan does not want unity but disruption.

6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too,

7 and Jason has received them as guests! They are all acting contrary to Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king-Jesus!"

8 The Jews stirred up the crowd and the city officials who heard these things.

9 So taking a security bond from Jason and the others, they released them.

The Beroeans (Bereaian’s) Search the Scriptures

10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Beroea (Berea). On arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.

Notice that Paul and Silas were not intimidated because as soon as they arrived in Berea, they went straight to the synagogue.

11 The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

12 Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men.

13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica found out that God's message had been proclaimed by Paul at Berea, they came there too, agitating and disturbing the crowds.

14 Then the brothers immediately sent Paul away to go to the sea, but Silas and Timothy stayed on there.

The Apostle Paul was the lightening rod.

15 Those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving instructions for Silas and Timothy to come to him as quickly as possible, they departed.

The Apostle Paul was escorted to Athens and left there with instructions that Silas and Timothy will join in as quickly as possible. So what did Paul do while he was waiting? He was taking in the culture in Athens and getting an impression of those who either lived or visited Athens.

Athens was known for its literature, art, pagan religion, philosophers and intellectuals. As Paul was taking in all the sites, what impression did he have of Athens? Let’s read on.

Let’s read Acts 17:16-18:

Paul in Athens

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was troubled within him when he saw that the city was full of idols. 

Paul was troubled in his Spirit because of all the idols. Paul knew they needed to hear about JESUS. Paul was GOD’S man of action. When we are disturbed what do we do? Do we complain or do we do something about it and get involved? What should we do? He concluded that these poor people were seeking truth in all the wrong places and he knew the truth and was compelled to share it.

We, as Christians, know the truth, but are we willing to share it with those who are in Spiritual darkness? This was Paul’s cue to go to work.

17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with those who worshiped God, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 

Paul began with those who were seeking truth by going to the local synagogue. 

He met with the Jews and those who worshipped GOD. He then expanded into the marketplace and spoke to those there. Paul “reasoned” with those who were interested in spiritual matters. The use of the word “reasoned” carries the idea of discussion or conversation marked by an exchange of ideas. This implies speaking and listening in order to have a dialogue.

18 Then also, some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers argued with him. Some said, "What is this pseudo-intellectual trying to say?" Others replied, "He seems to be a preacher of foreign deities"-because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

Paul encountered Epicurean and Stoic philosophers.

The Epicurean philosophers followed the philosophy espoused by the Greek philosopher Epicurus who lived from 341 BC to 270 BC. Epicureans’ believed that the chief aim of life was to pursue happiness, pleasure and tranquility by living in simplicity and in freedom from pain, passion and fear. 

They had given up on the gods of the culture. They were convinced that these gods did not care about humans. They also did not believe in life after death. In essence, eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow you will die. They identified atoms as the basic material in the universe.

The Stoics or Stoicism was founded by Zeno who live from 490 BC to 430 BC. Stoicism was likely the most influential philosophy in the Greco-Roman world. The Stoics were disciplined in their behavior. They believed that GOD was a spirit to be found in all of creation. They believed they could discover truth through human reasoning. Life was governed by fate rather than by faith.

So what did these followers of these philosophies think of Paul? They referred to him as a “pseudo-intellectual” which means “picking up seeds.” It referred to a person who did not have the intellectual base to form his or her own ideas. They would go around and talk to those who were intellectuals, gathering idea seeds; to give the impression he or she knew what they were talking about. Bottom line these people were considered “empty talkers” or “babblers.” They thought Paul was such a person and likely invited him to speak before a group of true intellectuals to embarrass him and shut him up.

Notice the later part of verse 18 “Others replied, "He seems to be a preacher of foreign deities"-because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.” The intellectuals made some assumptions. They thought Paul was going to lecture on “foreign deities” and to help them determine if they had overlooked a deity. They thought that JESUS, masculine, was one deity and they thought “the resurrection,” which is a feminine noun in Greek, referred to a female deity such as Anastasia. They wanted to hear Paul speak.
GOD is at work using the curiosity of the Athenians to get them to gather to hear HIS message to them through HIS servant Paul.

19 They took him and brought him to the Areopagus, and said, "May we learn about this new teaching you're speaking of? 

The Areopagus (Ar e op a gus) was also known as “Mars Hill.” It was dedicated to Ares, the Greek god of war, who also known as “Mars” in Latin.

20 For what you say sounds strange to us, and we want to know what these ideas mean." 

21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new.

This gathering of “intellectuals” loved to hear new ideas and thoughts. So they were eager to listen to what Paul had to say.

Let’s read Acts 17:22-23:

The Areopagus Address

22 Then Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that you are extremely religious in every respect. 

Paul stood, as was common for the speaker and began speaking with a left-handed compliment. The term “religious” could mean superstitious in that they wanted to make certain that they did not leave out any deity. The Greek word could be interpreted as “religious,” which would be acceptable to these intellectuals. 

23 For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD 
Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 

In case they had omitted a deity they had an altar to “An unknown GOD.” Paul used this as the basis of his message to them. This must have peaked their interest and cause them to listen very carefully to his message. Paul’s message focused on God as theos, the supreme Divinity. He would bring his audience around to JESUS but in the beginning he needed for his audience to listen. If he had been speaking to a Jewish audience, he would have referred to GOD, as the Jews knew HIM.

When we speak, our audience helps us to set the tone for our message as led by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

24 The God who made the world and everything in it-He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands. 

There was general agreement that God or a higher power existed and HE created the world. But there was little to no definition of that GOD, God or god.

25 Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things. 

Paul pointed out that GOD is self-sufficient but we as humans are dependent upon HIM. Paul knew to whom he was referring and his audience had their definition of who they thought he was referring. So they listened. The Holy Spirit was at work in each listener bringing about understanding and establishing a foothold for further seeking of the truth. GOD’S desire is for all to accept JESUS The CHRIST as their Savior.

26 From one man He has made every nation of men to live all over the earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live, 

Paul begins with GOD making man, Adam, without getting into scriptural history.

27 so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. 

GOD made man with a natural desire to seek HIM. GOD is not far from any of us and reachable. Consider this ---

28 For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' Gk poet. 

Paul reminded his audience that the Greek poets had written regarding the beginning of the human race being an offspring of GOD.

29 Being God's offspring, then, we shouldn't think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination. 

Paul used logic to get his audience to open their eyes and hearts to truth. Since humans are GOD’S offspring and GOD is divine shouldn’t we consider that? 
If GOD is divine, then why do we attempt to fashion some image of GOD using material things, art and/or imagination? Paul narrowed the concept of GOD from broad to narrow.

Let’s read Acts 17:30-31:

30 "Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, 

Paul told them that, the GOD to Whom I am referring has compassion and HE overlooked the ignorance of humans but that had changed. HE demands all people everywhere to repent. Repent is to stop, turn around and go in the direction of seeking HIM in view of this new understanding.

31 because He has set a day on which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead." 

Paul now gets to the heart of his message. The Man GOD appointed was JESUS. By referring to “the Man” GOD appointed should generate questions, e.g.well who is this Man and tell us more about this Man?

32 When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to ridicule him. But others said, "We will hear you about this again." 

Keep in mind that most did not believe in the resurrection. When Paul made the statement regarding the resurrection of this Man (JESUS), some began to ridicule Paul. The noise of the crowd squelched further discussion. People do not want to be considered a fool by others. When things get out of control, it is time to stop.

33 So Paul went out from their presence. 

So Paul retreated. He had delivered the message GOD desired for him to deliver. GOD takes over, where we leave off. GOD’S Spirit strives with all mankind. GOD’S desire is for all to come to a saving knowledge of HIM through faith in HIS only Son, JESUS. But was all lost? Let’s read on.

34 However, some men joined him and believed, among whom were Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

GOD’S Word never returns void. HIS Word is powerful and produces a result. Here we learn that Dionysius (de o nu se os), the Areopagite (a re o pa ge tas). Dionysius was a member of the Areopagus which referred to a council, an assembly of Greek leaders or possibly a formal court. So a person of stature accepted Paul’s gospel message and became a Christian.

There was a second person, a lady named Damaris (da ma res) and others who accepted Paul’s gospel message of JESUS and became Christians.

So what can we learn from Paul’s experience? GOD provides opportunity and gives us HIS message through the indwelling Holy Spirit. When we are in uncharted territory we can begin by seeking common ground. Paul addressed their interest in knowing about some deity they might have overlooked so he zeroed in on a local inscription “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” That statement likely caught their attention.

The key to speaking is for those to whom you speak listen. Paul held their attention until he spoke of the resurrection of the “Man.” Some rejected the idea of resurrection but others did not, thus some accepted JESUS as their Savior. Those who rejected the gospel message at that moment had a base upon which GOD’S Spirit could work within each of those who heard. Only eternity will reveal who accepted JESUS later but for sure, GOD’S Word always works within. It is up to each individual to either accept or reject JESUS as his or her Savior.

HAVE YOU MADE THAT DECISION IN YOUR LIFE? If not, why not now? Eternity is but a heartbeat away. Blessings!!!