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

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bible Study - Easter - But Now - Victory - 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 - April 20, 2014

Bible Study – Easter – But Now – Victory – April 20, 2014

Since this is Easter, this lesson focuses on the hope that the resurrection of JESUS gives to those who are lost in sin. Next week, we will continue in our study with lesson two in our series “Let Hope In.”

Our scripture is 1 Corinthians 15:20-28.

Colossians 1:27:

27 God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

CHRIST in you, the hope of glory. For CHRIST to be in you, you have to let HIM in. You are in control. It is your decision. Let’s read Revelation 3:21:

20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me.

JESUS is the One standing at the door of your heart and HE is knocking. HIS desire is for you to invite HIM into your life because he loves you and gave HIS life for you. The door knob or handle is located on the inside of you and you are the only one who can open the door of your heart to let HIM in.

Will you choose to let HIM in or refuse? Some may think I may lose my friends. You may but GOD will give you new friends. First of all, HE will be your best friend. Would you rather have eternal life and a guarantee that you will go to heaven the instant you die or face eternal death?

Those who place their faith in CHRIST have the assurance and guarantee that they will live for eternity with HIM in heaven.

Let’s explore!

There are many religions in the world. Some people think that all religions worship the same god. Do they? There is one distinguishing fact that separates those who place their faith in CHRIST over all religions. GOD raised CHRIST from the dead on the third day. Christians place their faith in a risen Savior. True Christianity is not a religion. It is CHRIST in you that makes you a Christian and not the earthly institution of which you may become a member.

It is a personal permanent relationship. But people make a religion out of Christianity. The bottom line is if you have not asked CHRIST to forgive you for your sins and for CHRIST to come into your life, you are not a Christian. Christianity cannot be earned by good works or human effort. Christianity is placing one’s faith in CHRIST as his or her Savior.

Let’s explore Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth. Keep in mind that Paul was a devout Jew. He was educated by one of the best teachers of Judaism. He thought this new group of JESUS worshippers that popped up after HIS death, resurrection and ascension called “The Way” were a threat to Judaism and the worship of the One True GOD. Paul was determined to stop them and the movement. Paul was a devout Jew and a Pharisee.

On his way to Damascus, Paul encountered the risen CHRIST. As a result of this encounter, Paul became a Christian and gave his life to obediently serve his risen Savior, CHRIST. Paul being an expert in the Old Testament scriptures saw how the scriptures revealed prophesy regarding the coming of the promised Messiah. He saw CHRIST as the promised Messiah. Paul saw truth and presented truth as we read in the following scripture.

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 15:20-23:

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the • firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ.

Paul bridged the gap between the Old Testament scriptures and CHRIST, the promised Messiah. The proof that CHRIST was the promised Messiah was in HIS resurrection from the dead by GOD. CHRIST was the first to be resurrected of all who will place their faith in HIM. Thus the firstfruits. The bodily resurrection of JESUS was necessary for GOD to reveal to the world that JESUS had conquered both sin and its consequence eternal death.

Death came to the human race because of the sin of the first man, Adam. JESUS was the second Adam, GOD’S only Son, who would redeem from sin and eternal death all who would place their faith in HIM.

When I think of Adam, I think of Paradise Lost and when I think of JESUS, I think of Paradise Restored for all who place their faith in HIM.

GOD’S intent was for mankind to live with HIM for eternity. But HE wanted those HE made to have the freedom to choose. HE chose not to make mankind robots. GOD’S desire is for those HE made to love and respect HIM out of a heart of love and appreciation. Do you like being a human? I do. If this was all to my existence, it would be sad but this life is only the beginning. Life upon earth is but a staging area for the life GOD intended for me but I had to choose CHRIST to be restored to the Son-ship which GOD originally intended for me.

Just as sin and its consequence came through one man, Adam, so does forgiveness of sin, redemption and eternal life come through one man, CHRIST.

Just as Adam made a decision to disobey GOD, JESUS chose to be obedient to GOD and remain sinless, yet being tempted in all ways as humans. Every person is faced with a decision to accept or reject CHRIST as his or her Savior.

Every human is born into this world because they are descendants of Adam and as such every human will die physically one day. Life after death is a big mystery, yet CHRIST makes it very clear that those who place their faith in HIM will receive eternal life. They are made alive through the miracle of rebirth in their spirit. They are born the first time as flesh but born the second time in their spirit.

Let’s read what JESUS told Nicodemus about being born-again as recorded in John 3:1-15:

1 There was a man from the • Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the • Jews. 2 This man came to Him at night and said, “ • Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him.” 3 Jesus replied, “•I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 “But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” 9 “How can these things be?” asked Nicodemus. 10 “Are you a teacher of Israel and don’t know these things?” Jesus replied. 11 “I assure you: We speak what We know and We testify to what We have seen, but you do not accept Our testimony. 12 If I have told you about things that happen on earth and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about things of heaven? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven —the • Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.

Rebirth is a Spiritual matter. How does a person know he or she has been born in the Spirit? Romans 8:16 - 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children,

The indwelling Holy Spirit is a Christian’s guarantee from GOD that his or her faith in CHRIST is real and secure. Let’s read 2 Corinthians 1:22 – 22: He has also sealed us and given us the Spirit as a down payment in our hearts.

The Holy Spirit could not come to earth until CHRIST completed HIS mission upon earth. JESUS told HIS disciples in Acts 1:4-8:

4 While He (JESUS) was together with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “This,” He said, “is what you heard from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 15:24-28:

24 Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be abolished is death. 27 For God has put everything under His feet. But when it says “everything” is put under Him, it is obvious that He who puts everything under Him is the exception. 28 And when everything is subject to Christ, then the Son Himself will also be subject to the One who subjected everything to Him, so that God may be all in all.

Then comes the end. The resurrection is just the beginning of JESUS bringing all things under HIS authority until HE hands over the kingdom to GOD. Life goes on during this period.

Life will be normal. The human race will go about their routine while JESUS is bringing all under HIS control. Since HE conquered death, death is the last matter to be eliminated. Up until that instant people will die physically, including Christians. Since the resurrection of CHRIST, Christians die physically but their born-again Spirit will exit their body (earth suit) at the instant of physical death and meet JESUS in Heaven. Christians will remain in Heaven housed in their Spiritual bodies until CHRIST returns with HIM to earth at HIS second coming. At such time Christians will receive their new Glorified bodies for eternity.

Let’s read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:

13 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are • asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. 14 Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. 15 For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

When all rule, all authority and all power is abolished and subdued, CHRIST will hand over the kingdom of GOD to GOD The Father. Until that is accomplished CHRIST will reign.

So what has to be accomplished before the end:

-         HE must put all HIS enemies under HIS feet.

-         The last enemy to be abolished is death.

Let’s read again 1 Corinthians 15:27 and 28:

27 For God has put everything under HIS feet. But when it says “everything” is put under Him, it is obvious that He who puts everything under Him is the exception. 28 And when everything is subject to Christ, then the Son Himself will also be subject to the One who subjected everything to Him, so that God may be all in all.

What does the term “put everything under HIS feet” mean? To put something under a person’s feet means being under a person’s authority, resulting from willing submission or conquest. It is a sign victory and the foe’s humiliation that accompanied the defeat.

Notice “everything” has been defeated and placed under the authority of CHRIST with one exception and that is GOD, the Father. In the end, CHRIST has accomplished HIS redemptive plan, defeated HIS enemies and secured the kingdom for GOD. CHRIST will appear before the Father, HIS Kingdom in hand and submitting it and Himself to GOD.

Here it gets tricky. The function of CHRIST was to accomplish the establishing and bringing under HIS and ultimately the authority of the Father the kingdom of GOD and the people who will be its eternal inhabitants. GOD’S Kingdom is fully secured because all that would war against GOD’S kingdom has been defeated and conquered, including death. That was CHRIST’S specific function. It did not change the essence of CHRIST in that HE is not and never will be subordinate in essence to the Father. The trinity of GOD - The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are equal in authority, essence and deity.

CHRIST presents all things to the Father so that HE will reign supreme and unchallenged over all. The Amplified Translation renders “so that God may be all in all”:

28 However, when everything is subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will also subject Himself to [the Father] Who put all things under Him, so that God may be all in all [be everything to everyone, supreme, the indwelling and controlling factor of life].

And the new living translation renders verse 28:

28 Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.

After CHRIST completes HIS work, all who have placed their faith in HIM will be secure in GOD’S Kingdom for eternity. CHRIST has conquered all. Why didn’t all of that happen at the instant JESUS gave HIS life to pay in full for the all who will place their faith in HIM? Simply, all HE foreknew had not been born. Remember Ephesians 1:4:

4 Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love. (Amplified)

HIS foreknowledge does not shape our freewill to choose. It gives HIM the knowledge of who will accept CHRIST as his or her Savior and HE does not want any to perish but have everlasting life and dwell with HIM for eternity. This is just as HE planned from the foundation of the world.

HE is waiting for you to give your heart to HIM. Why not now? Ask CHRIST to forgive you for your sins and to come into your life now. HE will because HE loved you enough to give HIS life for you to have eternal life. Because HE lives, so will all who place their faith in HIM! Happy Easter and blessings!!!




Friday, April 11, 2014

Bible Study - Hope (1) - Hope Needed - 2 Samuel 9:1-13 - April 13, 2014

Bible Study – Hope (1) – Hope Needed – April 13, 2014

This is lesson one in our series entitled “Let Hope In.”

Our scripture is 2 Samuel 9:1-13.

This will be lesson one, then we will have a lesson on Easter, then five additional lessons on hope using a variety of scripture. A Christian’s hope is in CHRIST and he or she has the guarantee because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Those without CHRIST hope that somehow a loving GOD will let them into heaven. JESUS said it best in John 5:24:

24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.

Romans 8:16: The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children,

When we consider eternity, hope can be valid or misplaced. Hope is valid when placed in CHRIST and misplaced when placed in human ability and logic. The Holy Spirit validates with our Spirit when we are GOD’S children.

Colossians 1:27: God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

As long as a person has life he or she is never beyond hope.

We need to cover some background before get into our main focus.

Let’s read 1 Samuel 20:14-17: (Covenant between friends which gives hope to a family member.)

14 If I continue to live, treat me with the Lord’s faithful love, but if I die, 15 don’t ever withdraw your faithful love from my household —not even when the Lord cuts off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.” 16 Then Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord hold David’s enemies accountable.” 17 Jonathan once again swore to David in his love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.

This covenant was made about 15-20 years before our focus scripture for this lesson. David had to flee from King Saul, Jonathan’s dad. Jonathan had reconciled himself to the fact that he would not succeed his dad to be king. Eventually the Philistines killed both King Saul and David’s very best friend, Jonathan. David was made king over Israel.

It was the custom for a new king to eliminate the entire household of the defeated king. The new king demanded that his subjects be loyal to him and eliminating all of the ancestral descendents of the previous king was one way to ensure that loyalty.

King David had been busy rebuilding Israel but one day he remembered the covenant that he and Jonathan made many years ago. This prompted David’s inquiry as we read in our focus scripture.

Hope Extended

Let’s read 2 Samuel 9:1-7:

1 David asked, “Is there anyone remaining from Saul’s family I can show kindness to because of Jonathan?”

Notice that King David phrased his question such that he was looking for King Saul’s family members for a good reason and not to them harm.

2 There was a servant of Saul’s family named Ziba. They summoned him to David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” “I am your servant,” he replied.

So King David was told that King Saul’s servant, Ziba, might know about surviving members of King Saul’s family. Ziba was summoned to speak to King David. In fact, Ziba had done very well for himself following the death of King Saul as we will see later.

King David confirmed that the person in his presence was Ziba, formerly King Saul’s servant. Ziba responded that he was David’s servant and ready to serve.  

3 So the king asked, “Is there anyone left of Saul’s family that I can show the kindness of God to?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still Jonathan’s son who was injured in both feet.” 4 The king asked him, “Where is he?” Ziba answered the king, “You’ll find him in Lo-debar at the house of Machir son of Ammiel.” 5 So King David had him brought from the house of Machir son of Ammiel in Lo-debar.

Ziba informed King David that Jonathan’s lame son was still living in the house of Machir in Lo-debar. Machir was a wealthy, generous and an influential person who lived in the region east of the Jordan River. Later in the life of King David, Machir would be part of a group to provide food and supplies to David and those with him when they were fleeing from Jerusalem as they were being pursued by David’s rebellious son Absalom.

The exact location of Lo-debar is not known but generally it was about ten miles south-southeast of the Sea of Galilee.

We will take a side journey to consider what happened to Mephibosheth that resulted in him being lame.

Let’s read 2 Samuel 4:4:

4 Saul’s son Jonathan had a son whose feet were crippled. He was five years old when the report about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. The one who had nursed him picked him up and fled, but as she was hurrying to flee, he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth.   

Continuing in 2 Samuel 9:6-7:

6 Mephibosheth (Me phib o she th) son of Jonathan son of Saul came to David, bowed down to the ground and paid homage. David said, “Mephibosheth!” “I am your servant,” he replied. 7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “since I intend to show you kindness because of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all your grandfather Saul’s fields, and you will always eat meals at my table.”

Mephibosheth had to leave his comfort zone in Lo-debar and face the possibility of being placed in prison or even worse killed. He gave King David due homage by bowing down to the ground and paying homage to him. Note how quickly King David put Mephibosheth’s mind at ease by telling him that David wanted to serve Mephibosheth and for him not to be afraid.

Oh, what a relief a glimmer of hope brings in uncertain moments, especially when the person in the hot seat hears words of assurances coming from the person who has the power to do him harm. King David told him “Don’t be afraid.” David continued to assure him that he was taking him into his care because he was the son of his very best friend Jonathan. King Saul’s fields would be restored to him along with the bounty from the fields but Mephibosheth was to eat at the king’s table.

Let’s read 2 Samuel 9:8:

8 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant that you take an interest in a dead dog like me?”

The term “dead dog” was a term of contempt. When applied to one’s self it was to declare one’s unworthiness for a favor received from a superior.

Let’s read 2 Samuel 9:9-13:

9 Then the king summoned Saul’s attendant Ziba and said to him, “I have given to your master’s grandson all that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You, your sons, and your servants are to work the ground for him, and you are to bring in the crops so your master’s grandson will have food to eat. But Mephibosheth, your master’s grandson, is always to eat at my table.” Now Ziba had 15 sons and 20 servants. 11 Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do all my lord the king commands.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table just like one of the king’s sons. 12 Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Mica. All those living in Ziba’s house were Mephibosheth’s servants. 13 However, Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem because he always ate at the king’s table. His feet had been injured.

King David called Ziba back into his presence to bring him up to date regarding his new role in the care of Mephibosheth. Ziba was to work for Mephibosheth and bring in the crops for him. Ziba has 15 sons and 20 servants. Ziba agreed to his charge from King David. 

King David made Ziba accountable to him for the future income for Mephiboseth and his family. We learn that Mephibosheth had one son named Mica.

Since Mephibosheth was still lame King David’s restoration of King Saul’s field to him gave him hope for himself and the future of his family.  Mephibosheth accepted King David’s offer and ate at the king’s table in Jerusalem.

When hope is offered, a person has to decide whether or not to take it. Every person is offered the hope of salvation by accepting CHRIST as his or her Savior. Each person has to decide whether or not to accept or reject HIM. Accepting CHRIST as your Savior requires that you take a step of faith. Faith is taking a step where there is no visible step.

I know when I pondered whether or not to accept CHRIST as my Savior; I wanted proof before I took that step of faith. Sorry, we have to take that step of faith by accepting CHRIST as our Savior before we have the assurance.

 Next Sunday is Easter Sunday. My prayer is that those who do not know CHRIST as their Savior will ask CHRIST to forgive them for their sins and for HIM to come into their lives. CHRIST in you makes a person a Christian. GOD sends the Holy Spirit into their lives and opens their Spiritual eyes to truth as they read GOD’S Word, the Bible and learn of him, as they walk with HIM each day. Is it easy? No! That is why Christians must have the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit but the journey is awesome.

John 3:14-17:

14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. 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.

Moses lifted up the snake to bring healing to those who had been bitten as recorded in Numbers 21:6-9:

4 Then they set out from Mount Hor by way of the • Red Sea to bypass the land of Edom, but the people became impatient because of the journey. 5 The people spoke against God and Moses: “Why have you led us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread or water, and we detest this wretched food!” 6 Then the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and they bit them so that many Israelites died. 7 The people then came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Intercede with the Lord so that He will take the snakes away from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. 8 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake image and mount it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will recover.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and mounted it on a pole. Whenever someone was bitten, and he looked at the bronze snake, he recovered.

Physical healing came to the Israelites who were bitten by the poisonous snake when they looked upon the bronze snake; Spiritual healing comes to those who, by faith, look to JESUS who died upon the cross for your sins and mine. If that was all there was to HIS death there would be no more reason to believe in CHRIST than others humans have built religions around in their searched for the One True GOD. The resurrection of CHRIST is proof HE paid the debt for sin in full and its consequence death. GOD raised CHRIST from the dead. Because HE lives, so will all who place their faith in HIM live eternally in heaven with HIM! Because JESUS was faithful even unto death, GOD placed all things into HIS hands.

John 5:22-24:

22 The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Life and Judgment 24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.

Those who have placed their faith in CHRIST serve a living Savior who knows what it is like to live as a human and be tempted in all ways. HE understands. Will you accept JESUS as your Savior now?

The hope for all mankind and eternity is in CHRIST. Blessings!!!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Bible Study - Productive (6) - Give Work a Rest - Exodus 31:12-17 - April 6, 2014

Bible Study – Productive (6) – Give Work a Rest – April 6, 2014

This is our sixth (6) and final lesson in our series entitled “Productive: Finding Joy in What We Do.”

Our scripture focus is Exodus 31:12-17.

Just as work is a gift from GOD, so is rest. Rest is for HIS glory and our benefit. Rest is for worship and learning of GOD and from GOD. Worship is a witness of true believers to those who are lost in sin. As people who honor GOD interact with HIM, it gives hope to those who are seeking forgiveness for sin and hope for eternity. This was why JESUS told HIS followers that they were the light of the world and the salt of the earth. They have the truth and must share it through their lifestyle.

This is our final lesson. GOD set the example. HE began HIS work of creation in an organized way. What HE created on day one was necessary for that which HE created on day two and so on. GOD is organized and HIS desire is for HIS children to be organized. HE also expected Adam and Eve to work in this pristine place we call the Garden of Eden.

GOD provides the opportunity for able bodied people to work. HE provides the opportunity to work and be productive. Work builds self-esteem. A hand out tends to take away the incentive for many people to seek a solution and they become dependent on the system.  

Work is HIS gift to us. Work provides the opportunity for us to earn and in turn give as HE directs.

GOD worked for six days and then HE rested on the seventh. HE set the example and made it clear that mankind was to take rest seriously and to take off one day out of seven.

GOD set the example of setting aside a time to rest as recorded in Genesis 2:1-3:

1 So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed. 2 By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. 3 God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation.

Did GOD get tired? No! Did GOD need to rest? No! GOD set the example for mankind’s benefit. Mark 2:27b–28:

The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.

Psalm 121:3-4:

3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

Let’s consider the meaning of “Sabbaths.” First “Sabbaths” does not mean “seventh.” It means “to rest” or “to cease.” GOD referred to
 “MY Sabbaths.” By making Sabbath plural “Sabbaths” and in doing so GOD indicated that mankind must observe a day of rest and cessation from work regularly. HE set the seventh day aside and made it a Holy day. It is a day set aside for mankind to stop his or her daily routines and focus upon worship of GOD. It is a day for those who acknowledge HIM to learn of HIM and build a relationship with HIM.  

The example GOD set was for mankind to work six days and take a rest. We have to keep in mind that GOD made mankind and HE knows what is best for us and spending a day to focus upon HIM is vital to both our physical and Spiritual health.

Keep this in mind – GOD makes it simple but often man makes it complicated.

GOD instructed the Israelites to take one day of rest out of every seven days, which by HIS example would have been the seventh day. It was to be established such that all believers and worshippers of the One True GOD would rest regularly on the same day.  

GOD gave Moses directions for building a tabernacle for HIM on earth. Remember GOD wanted to speak to the Israelites just as HE spoke to Moses but they were afraid. So GOD gave Moses specific instructions regarding the building of the tabernacle. GOD wanted the Israelites to know of HIS physical presence. GOD gave Moses specific requirements for worship and approaching HIM. Man then began to add certain requirements of what to do and not to do on the day of rest.

Since the passion of CHRIST, all who place their faith in CHRIST have the presence of GOD indwelling them through the presence of the Holy Spirit. The resurrection of JESUS reestablished the day of rest or Sabbath to the first day of the week which is Sunday.  

Under the first covenant, GOD gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments and HIS commands to help keep them from sinning. HE was in Covenant with the Israelites and they were in Covenant with HIM. Since the passion of CHRIST, all who place their faith in CHRIST still need and take a day of rest, worship and learn of CHRIST and GOD on Sunday. Is Sunday the only day Christians can worship?

Could a group of Christians choose another day of rest and worship?  I think so; As long as it is the seventh day. But if Christians desire to celebrate the day JESUS was resurrected from the dead, it would be Sunday. Let’s explore!  

Rest a Holy Obligation

Let’s read Exodus 31:12-13:

12 The Lord said to Moses: 13 “Tell the Israelites: You must observe My Sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, so that you will know that I am • Yahweh who sets you apart.

This is strong language coming from GOD. GOD does not give the Israelites an option because when they observed “MY Sabbaths” it was a sign to others who were not in covenant with the One True GOD. To “observe” is a word of action. They were to seek to know and build an intimate relationship with GOD. In having the right relationship with GOD means to have the right relationship with a person’s family, neighbors, friends and others. The Israelites had agreed to be in covenant with GOD on Mount Sinai.

GOD used HIS covenant name “Yahweh.”

Let’s look at Exodus 19:3-8:

3 Moses went up the mountain to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain: “This is what you must say to the house of Jacob, and explain to the Israelites: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me. 5 Now if you will listen to Me and carefully keep My covenant, you will be My own possession out of all the peoples, although all the earth is Mine, 6 and you will be My kingdom of priests and My holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.” 7 After Moses came back, he summoned the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. 8 Then all the people responded together, “We will do all that the Lord has spoken.” So Moses brought the people’s words back to the Lord.

GOD had revealed Himself to the Israelites as HE delivered them from slavery in Egypt and guided them to Mount Sinai on their way to the Promised Land. This was a pause in their journey. GOD chose the Israelites to be HIS people but the question was would they choose HIM? GOD gave them the opportunity to accept or reject to be in covenant with HIM. They accepted.

Today, GOD offers every person the opportunity to either accept or reject JESUS as his or her Savior.  

Entering into covenant with GOD was more than intellectually agreeing to the Commandments and commands of GOD. It meant building an obedient relationship with HIM and obediently walking with HIM each day according to HIS requirements.

An important part of obedience was for the Israelites to make it a point to rest one day out of seven days, to learn of GOD through worship and respond to what GOD expected for them. Setting aside one day out of seven days was a visible witness to all other peoples, nations and world that the Israelites worshipped and were obedient to the One True GOD of the universe. It set the Israelites apart from those who did not honor the One True GOD of the universe.

The Ten Commandments’ were the hallmark of the Old Testament to reveal a person’s relationship with GOD and mankind. The law and commandments were the old covenant. JESUS established the new covenant which HE demonstrated the night before HIS crucifixion. HE gave HIS life to pay, in full, the penalty for sin and its consequence of eternal death. Even though those who accept CHRIST as their Savior are free from the Law and commandments, they still serve as guideposts to alert Christians when they violate them. When the alarms sound, it is time for a Spiritual checkup by asking the Holy Spirit to examine our lives.

Luke 22:17-20: (JESUS fulfilled the Old Testament covenant and established the New Covenant.)

17 Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.

When CHRIST gave HIS life to pay, in full, the penalty for sin, HE established a new covenant. When HE was nailed to the cross, the law was nailed there as well for all who place their faith in HIM. The Law is still active to reveal to those who are lost in sin their need for salvation. CHRIST was sinless and fulfilled the law.

When we place our faith in CHRIST, our sin is placed upon HIM and HIS righteousness is placed upon us. Not only did the shed blood of CHRIST cleanse us of all sin – past, present and future – but GOD gave us HIS gift of grace. Once those who place their faith in CHRIST, they experience the miracle of rebirth. They are justified before GOD, which means GOD sees them “just-as-if-they-never-sinned.” This means Christians can come into the presence of GOD 24/7 because they are HIS children.     

The Israelites agreed to be in covenant with GOD. GOD gave them the Ten Commandments to help them to remain in covenant and to know when they stepped outside HIS commandments. It was to keep them from sinning and to seek a more intimate relationship with HIM. The Ten Commandments are recorded in Exodus 20:1-17, which includes GOD’S instructions regarding the Sabbath:

1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3“You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. 12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 13 “You shall not murder. 14 “You shall not commit adultery. 15 “You shall not steal. 16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

GOD set the example for working six days and resting on the seventh day.

An Actual Day of Rest

Let’s read Exodus 31:14-15:

14 Observe the Sabbath, for it is holy to you. Whoever profanes it must be put to death. If anyone does work on it, that person must be cut off from his people. 15 Work may be done for six days, but on the seventh day there must be a Sabbath of complete rest, dedicated to the Lord. Anyone who does work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.

Observe is a word depicting action. GOD set the seventh day aside as a Holy day for those who covenant with HIM. HE made the Sabbath Holy for HIS children. GOD’S desire was for all of mankind to take a day of rest, reflect upon HIM and to build an intimate relationship with HIM.

How important and vital was it for mankind to stop, rest, reflect and worship? GOD considered it important enough to impose the death penalty upon those who did not observe it.

A Reflection of Relationship

Let’s read Exodus 31:16-17:

16 The Israelites must observe the Sabbath, celebrating it throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign forever between Me and the Israelites, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.”

GOD again made it perfectly clear that perpetually observing the Sabbath was an eternal sign between HIM and the Israelites. GOD stated that observing the Sabbath was to be celebrated and taught such that all succeeding generations would continue the practice. They were to celebrate their relationship with GOD as HIS chosen people.

Since the passion of CHRIST, all who place their faith in HIM are to celebrate their relationship with GOD through their relationship with CHRIST. Christian churches stand as symbols of hope and truth for those who are lost. Christian churches are not showcases for the saints but a hospital for the Spiritually sick. CHRIST redeemed those who place their faith in HIM from the consequence of sin, which is eternal death and reconciled them to GOD. All Christians are sinners saved by the shed blood of CHRIST by the grace of GOD.

GOD knew the value of mankind ceasing work and resting one day out of seven days. GOD commanded that HIS chosen make it their duty to take this much needed rest and reflect upon HIM. They were to pass on to future generations the importance of keeping the Sabbath as a holy day.

As I study this and think of our current society, Christians work all sorts of hours and days. Should churches offer Sabbaths more days a week?

Verse 17 states – “It is a sign forever between Me and the Israelites, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.

GOD rested and was refreshed. That is, HE stopped to rest and refreshed Himself. Refresh means to “take a breath.” Stopping after six days of work allows a person to pause, be refreshed, refocus and to be strengthened to continue for the next six days. When you know in six days of work you will have rest on the seventh, it gives a person something to look forward to. This seventh day of rest is a gift from GOD to HIS chosen because HIS desire is for them to focus upon HIM.

There are several types of Sabbaths – Sabbath days, Sabbath years and the Jubilee Sabbath which are described in Exodus 23:10-11 and Leviticus 25:1-55.

Take a rest, be refreshed and rejoice that GOD gave us HIS only SON for all who place their faith in HIM will have the gift of eternal life and be born into HIS family through the miracle of rebirth. Blessings!!!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bible Study - Productive (5) - Work Your Plan - 2 Corinthians 9:6-13 - March 30, 2014

Bible Study – Productive (5) – Work Your Plan – March 30, 2014

This is lesson five (5) in our series entitled “Productive: Finding Joy in What We Do.”

Our focus scripture is 2 Corinthians 9:6-13.

Our generous giving should glorify GOD and reflect CHRIST’S willful giving of HIS life, through the shedding of HIS blood to pay for the penalty of sin. When those who have been redeemed by HIS shed blood recognize, acknowledge and understand that CHRIST did for them what they cannot do for themselves, it results in grateful hearts.

Work provides the opportunity for Christians and non-Christians alike to have the means to sustain themselves and to give too others. Our focus has been upon Christian giving. Christians give to those in need and to spread the Gospel of CHRIST.

Christians generally give to support financially and physically, the organizations and institutions that spread the Good News of JESUS CHRIST and reach out to others in need. In turn, those organizations generally provide the infrastructure to teach, train, equip and provide the opportunity for Christians to go into the world to share CHRIST with others. JESUS commanded Christians to go into the world. The world is where any Christian is at any given moment. GOD issues specific calls to some Christians to obediently serve HIM in special ways but all Christians are called to obedient service.

Christians are the light of the world and the salt of the earth because they have the light of CHRIST in them. They contain the Good News of salvation through faith in CHRIST. They are assured that they serve their risen Savior which is confirmed and guaranteed by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Our focus for the past two lessons began with 2 Corinthians 8:1-9 where we considered the power for giving. Our scripture for last week’s study was 2 Corinthians 8:10-15 and 9:1-5 focused on the process of giving from the heart in proportion to our ability. This week’s lesson focuses on the Spiritual and physical results of giving as led by the Holy Spirit.

Faithful giving, as led by the Holy Spirit, not only benefits those in need but rekindles the joy in the hearts of those being obedient in their giving. It continues the building of the intimate and loving relationship with GOD through CHRIST which began the day of our salvation. GOD loves obedience and obedience honors GOD.  

This week’s lesson continues with the remaining portion of scripture from last week’s lesson, where Paul continued his message on the principle of giving as we read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.

Give with the Right Attitude: 

Let’s read 2 Corinthians 9:6-7:

6 Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each person should do as he has decided in his heart —not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.

As you recall from last week’s lesson, the Christians in Corinth had promised to provide a generous gift to support the needy Christians in Jerusalem. The Christians in Jerusalem were dealing with a famine and lack of jobs because they were Christians. Paul wanted the Christians in Corinth to finish their commitment to provide support to them.  

Christians cannot out give GOD. We often think of financial reward when we give as led by the Holy Spirit but that is mute compared to building the right relationship with HIM through obedient service.

In this scripture, Paul used a farming principle. Simply the more a person sows, the more he or she will harvest. The key is to pray about what you need to sow and how much. Once sowed, there are many factors which determine the harvest. Most results of a harvest are beyond the control of the sower and in the hands of GOD. The harvest provides means for the farmer, who in turn provides jobs and the opportunity to give to those in need. As the farmer obediently gives, GOD in turn blesses him or her materially and/or Spiritually. Walking with GOD is always a learning experience and does not always mean smooth sailing. But GOD walks with us and is in control.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Christians must keep in mind that GOD does not look at the quantity but the attitude of their hearts when they give and their obedience. JESUS said it best in Mark 12:41-44:

41 Sitting across from the temple treasury, He (JESUS) watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury. Many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little. 43 Summoning His disciples, He said to them, “•I assure you: This poor widow has put in more than all those giving to the temple treasury. 44 For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she possessed —all she had to live on.”

Giving from our financial resources is part of Christian giving but Christians are to give their time, abilities and Spiritual gifts as led by the Holy Spirit. They are the arms, legs and physical presence of CHRIST and GOD when they minister to others – fellow Christians or those in need, regardless of their relationship to CHRIST.

Christians are to minister as led by the Holy Spirit. Ministering to others can reveal CHRIST to those who do not know HIM as their Savior. Yes, there are those who know how to work the system. That is why Christians need the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Do you recall this occasion recorded in Acts 3:1-11:

1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked for alms. 4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God: 10 And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. 11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.

Think about this event. This man was alive, crippled since birth and sat for alms most likely when JESUS went into the temple during HIS earthly ministry. Yet, GOD did not lead JESUS to heal the man. JESUS was obedient to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. If you read further in this scripture, GOD had a purpose in JESUS waiting. GOD had a plan and purpose in the healing of this man because it ministered to so many others after the passion of CHRIST. Waiting upon the leadership of the Father through the leading of the Holy Spirit is challenging. Most of us have the nature such that when we see the need, we respond.

Christians have more to give than material resources.

Look at verse 7, “every person should do as he or she decides.” Once a person decides what and how much to give, the next step is action. A person’s action is NOT to be reluctant or out of necessity. Just giving for the sake of giving does not impress GOD. HE already owns it all and Christians are HIS stewards of a portion. GOD’S desire is for Christians to target their giving as HE directs.  

Rely on GOD’S Ability:

Let’s read 2 Corinthians 9:8-9:

8 And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. 9 As it is written: He scattered; He gave to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.

When Christians give obediently, GOD makes every grace to overflow to them. Grace is unmerited favor. Grace cannot be earned but it is a free gift from GOD.

Verse 8 in the King James translation uses “always having all sufficiency in all things” where the Holman translation has “always having everything you need.” The word “sufficiency” carries the idea of “a mind contented with its lot. Contentment with what we have and our position in life is a blessing that can come only from our relationship with GOD through CHRIST.

When we are content, we do not have to have stuff just to have stuff. When we live content, we live on less so we can have more to give to others.

Contentment does not take away a Christian’s ambition, instead he or she lives according to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. When Christians are in the right relationship with GOD through CHRIST, they are in HIS perfect will. When a Christian is in the will of GOD, he or she has the peace that passes all understanding and trust GOD to meet his or her needs.

The Apostle Paul quotes from Psalm 112:9 in verse 9:

9 He (the righteous person) distributes freely to the poor; his righteousness endures forever. His • horn will be exalted in honor.

GOD is the example of Christians – HE scattered; HE gave to the poor; HIS righteousness endures forever. The righteous person’s heart is in harmony and relationship with GOD which governs his or her actions.

Received GOD’S Blessing:

Let’s read 2 Corinthians 9:10-11:

10 Now the One (GOD) who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us.

GOD made the seeds which produce the product or fruit, which in turn provides substance for humans. If HE can do what mankind cannot do, then HE can multiply the harvest of the sower. A Christian’s part is to trust and obey. Obedient giving defies human logic when it is done according to GOD’S will and glorifies HIM.

Paul makes a beautiful correlation to GOD multiplying the physical harvest to increasing the harvest of righteousness. He used a statement from Hoses 10:12:

12 Sow righteousness for yourselves and reap faithful love; break up your unplowed ground. It is time to seek the Lord until He comes and sends righteousness on you like the rain.

As the Christians in Corinth used their physical resources to meet the needs of the Christians in Jerusalem, GOD increased the harvest of their righteousness. When Christians empty themselves of the things that cause them to hold back or compromise their trust in GOD, they make room for HIM to occupy more of them. They are becoming more like CHRIST which is GOD’S goal for every Christian. The major war that needs to be won in the lives of Christians is allowing the Holy Spirit to rule the flesh.  

Praise GOD:

Let’s read 2 Corinthians 9:12-15:

12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God. 13 They will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with others through the proof provided by this service. 14 And they will have deep affection for you in their prayers on your behalf because of the surpassing grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.

Paul addressed the benefits of finishing what a person has been called to accomplish. In this case, the Christians in Corinth were called and eagerly responded at first to collect gifts to meet the needs of the Christians in Jerusalem but they had failed to complete their goal. They needed to complete their commitment because the Christians in Jerusalem were depending upon their gifts. Plus accomplishing their goal would bring glory to GOD, JESUS and encourage others both Christians and non-Christians. The faithfulness of the Christians would be a positive witness to non-Christians. The Christians in Jerusalem will rejoice and be encouraged because GOD has ministered to them through fellow Christians in Corinth. Meeting the needs of others brings glory to GOD and hope to those in need. When needs are met by fellow Christians, the Spiritual body is functioning in unity with GOD.   

When we are facing difficult times, it is encouraging and brings hope to us when fellow Christians respond to our need. It is Spiritually uplifting and encouraging.  

It is tough to wait upon the leadership of the LORD.

Verse 15 puts into perspective the motivation for Christians to give.

GOD allowed HIS Only Son, JESUS, to come to earth to live and give HIS life for the redemption of those who will place their faith in HIM. HIS shed blood paid, in full, the debt every human owes as the result of sin and its consequence, eternal death. Salvation is a free gift no human can earn by his or her own effort or merit. When we consider the unspeakable gift of CHRIST, our gifts pale in comparison to HIS gift and the un-measureable blessings of GOD’S sustaining grace to those who place their faith in HIM and obediently serve HIM.  Blessings!!!