This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.
- Name: Bible Study
- Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States
Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses
Friday, October 09, 2015
Bible Study – Stand (6) – GOD’S Promise of a New Home – October 11, 2015
This is the sixth (6th) and final lesson in our series entitled “Stand Strong: Building Your Life on GOD’S Promises.”
Our focus scripture is Revelation 21:1-8.
A life in CHRIST means a life with CHRIST forever.
First, the Book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John while he was exiled on the Isle of Patmos. Notice that the word “revelation” does not end in “s” therefore it is NOT revelations, it is singular.
Our focus scripture is Chapter 21 which describes the coming of the new heaven and new earth which will be the time of GOD’S rule, reign and presence upon earth.
When our ancestral parents sinned and lost eternal life, GOD discharged them from the Garden of Eden. GOD placed a cherubim and a flaming sword to prevent Adam and Eve or any of their descendants to get to the tree of life. If they were to eat fruit from the tree of life, they would live forever in their unredeemed state.
GOD had a plan, even before sin came into the world, for the descendants of Adam and Eve to be given the opportunity to be redeemed from eternal death. Before JESUS was born in the flesh, those who worshipped GOD were looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. After the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of JESUS, we are looking back on that event for redemption and restoration to GOD’S original intent for eternal life with HIM. The best is yet to come and GOD reveals the final act to us through HIS revelation to John.
Eve ate the forbidden fruit and handed it to Adam. Adam took a bite of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and their eyes were opened to the truth of what they had done.
GOD had told Adam if they ate of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would die. They would lose eternal life and they would be separated from HIM.
We are descendants of Adam and Eve and as such, we live in the world they chose. Fallen earth is our home. It is a world filled with the knowledge of good and evil. All humans long for peace but there is no peace. GOD did not abandon us as fallen humans but instead HE had a place where we could live and have a second opportunity for eternal life and fellowship with HIM and be restored to HIS original intent. Look around and behold HIS handiwork. Every human lives in a miracle body which HE fashioned to function upon planet earth. HE provided all things to sustain the human race. HE gives all humans the opportunity to be redeemed from eternal death.
Earth is our second opportunity to get it right. We have a choice to either accept or reject CHRIST as our Savior. CHRIST gave HIS life through the shedding of HIS blood to pay, in full, the death penalty GOD imposed upon the descendants of Adam and Eve. CHRIST is the second Adam. The first Adam was flesh whereas the second Adam was both flesh and blood, yet divine. Both the first Adam and the second Adam had free wills to choose. Adam chose to disobey GOD and the second Adam chose to obey GOD, remain sinless and gave HIS life to redeem all who will place their faith in HIM.
CHRIST’S shed blood paid the price for sin and redeems ALL who will place their faith in CHRIST as their Savior. All humans have the freedom and right to choose. GOD never violates the human right to choose but HE maintains the right to appeal to every human his or her need for salvation.
It is the miracle of rebirth in a person’s spirit that restores him or her to GOD’S original intent and eternal state. Life upon earth is for the perfecting and equipping of each Christian to obediently serve GOD, according to HIS plan and purpose, and to prepare him or her for eternal life in heaven.
I think JESUS gave us a glimpse of this perfecting upon earth in the “Model Prayer,” when HE said “our Father Who is in heaven, Holy is Your name, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” To experience the fullness of CHRIST and GOD in our lives Christians are to obediently serve GOD upon earth as they would in heaven. Those in heaven willingly obey the will of GOD their Father because they know and abide in truth. Upon earth the flesh has its own agenda and battles with being obedient to the will of GOD. The flesh must be brought under the authority of GOD by yielding to the leadership of GOD by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Christians must yield themselves to GOD and ask HIM to make and mold their lives as HE desires. HE is the potter and we are the clay. All the clay has to do is be available to the potter. The potter is the designer and determines the final product suitable for its intended use.
The present earth will be destroyed by fire but what will replace it?
Let’s read Revelation 1:1-2: (Background)
1 The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave Him to show His slaves (servants) what must quickly take place. He sent it and signified it through His angel to His slave (servant) John,
2 who testified to God's word and to the testimony about Jesus Christ, in all he saw.
The LORD JESUS gave the Apostle John a vision of things to come. Our scripture focuses on the period after Satan and his angels have been cast into the lake of fire. In Revelation 1:19, JESUS instructed John to write everything he had seen; what is now and what will take place later. Let’s explore!
Let’s read Revelation 21:1-3:
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea existed no longer.
2 I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God's dwelling is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.
Chapter 21 is the next to the last chapter in the Book of Revelation. There is a great deal that has happened upon earth before we get to Chapter 21. Chapter 21 is the great reveal for all Christians.
The Apostle John saw a new heaven and a new earth. Saw means there was no doubt regarding what he was seeing. It is a knowing that what he saw was truth and real or genuine. The word “new” means just that. It was not a renovation or a remodel but it was unprecedented, unheard of, never thought about, a brand spanking new heaven and earth. WOW!!! Now that is something to get excited about.
In 1 Corinthians 2:9:
9 But as it is written: What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, and what has never come into a man's heart, is what God has prepared for those who love Him.
What a day that will be!
The “sea existed no longer” can be pondered in several ways. We know that the “sea” is a barrier separating land masses, countries, cultures, loved ones, etc. “Sea” has been used to describe the divide between heaven and earth. JESUS was teaching as recorded in Luke 16:26:
26 Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.'
JESUS was teaching of the “great chasm” between heaven/paradise (Before the death of CHRIST) and hell (sheol).
There was a great chasm between GOD and mankind, which JESUS bridged when HE came to earth as a human and gave HIS life to pay, in full, the penalty for sin.
John saw a new Jerusalem. Again, the words “saw” and “new” are the same as we have already discussed. John was certain of what he was observing and experiencing. Earth as we know it will be destroyed by fire. Here there are differing opinions about whether or not earth is totally annihilated or cleansed by fire thus reducing it to a burned out cinder. Earth as we know it will be gone and a new earth built by GOD will appear. Heaven, where GOD is and earth where humans dwell will exist no longer. Keep in mind that Christians will have their Glorified bodies.
This New Jerusalem was coming down from above in breathtaking splendor as a bride adorned for her husband. We know a bride’s desire is to look her absolute, stunning best for her groom.
There was a loud unmistakable voice that announced from the throne that GOD has established HIS home in this New Heaven and New Earth. If it is pure and holy enough for GOD, it is pristine and beyond our wildest dreams.
Let’s read Acts 7:48-49:
However, the Most High does not dwell in houses and temples made with hands; as the prophet says, l49 Heaven [is] My throne, and earth the footstool for My feet. What [kind of] house can you build for Me, says the Lord, or what is the place in which I can rest?
Currently, GOD’S dwelling is universal but when the new heaven and new earth is revealed, that will be the place where GOD will reside but HE is always universal and sovereign.
So Who is the loud voice from the throne? He Apostle John was raised in the Jewish religion where the name of GOD was not written or uttered. Bible scholars believe that John purposely avoided using or writing the name of GOD. The voice was GOD speaking from the throne.
The next to be revealed is what living in the presence of GOD will be like.
Let’s read Revelation 21: 4-5:
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will exist no longer; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.
5 Then the One seated on the throne said, "Look! I am making everything new." He also said, "Write, because these words are faithful and true."
GOD reveals to mankind what becoming a Christian means. No more tears resulting from death. No more grief, crying and pain because they EXIST NO LONGER! Christians will be in their Glorified bodies. Their Glorified bodies will be just like CHRIST’S Glorified body and death will not exist. Their Glorified bodies are eternal.
When our pastor was preaching the funeral of our eldest son, when he read this scripture, our eldest daughter, Said “YES!” There will be no more death, sorrow, grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer. Our previous life in the flesh will no longer exist. We will be in our new bodies and dwell as GOD originally intended; in complete harmony, obedience and fellowship with HIM.
As the song says, “We can only imagine.” We cannot even imagine what it will be like because it will be better than good because it will be perfect.
JESUS instructed John to write because these words are faithful and true. GOD continued to speak.
Let’s read Revelation 21:6-8:
6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give to the thirsty from the spring of living water as a gift.
7 The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son.
8 But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars-their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."
The words “It is done!,” means “they have become reality.” [New Testament Commentary, Revelation, page 559, Simon J. Kistemaker, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 49516-6287, ISBN 0-8010-2606-7]
Alpha and Omega are the beginning and ending letters of the Greek alphabet. It would be like we would say “A to Z.” GOD’S plan and purpose for humanity and creation has come to completion. GOD is the One Who gives eternal life as described by the “living water” to those who desire having an intimate, personal, loving relationship with ME by placing their faith in CHRIST. HE gives eternal life free of charge to the receiver/Christian. It is a free gift of GOD’S Grace, but it cost HIS only Son’s sinless, earthly life. JESUS gave HIS sinless life in order that all who place their faith in HIM will receive eternal life and experience the miracle of rebirth into the family of GOD.
Christians are the “victors,” thus Sons or Daughters of GOD and as a result inherit all things; to the victor’s go the spoils. Christians will inherit all the rights and privileges of being GOD’S child for eternity and live with HIM in the New Heaven and New Earth. GOD chose us and we in turn chose HIM. So we are where we want to be of our free will.
Since Christians are “victors,” those who refuse to take a stand are “cowards” because they are fearful for various reasons e.g. pride, what will my friends or business associates think of me if I become a Christian. Fear prevents them from becoming Christians. Following cowards are those who are unbelievers or the faithless, followed by vile (abominable, detestable), murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers (those who practice magic arts e.g. horoscopes, fortune tellers and those who go to fortune tellers, etc.), idolaters, and all liars – “will be consigned” (NIV) or will be in or share in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." Hell was made for Satan and his angels, thus humans that refuse the free gift of GOD share in what was originally made for them.
Some may ask, “Do you think there is such a lake of burning sulfur?” Think of your worst nightmare or horror story that will never end. Coming to the full, complete knowledge and reality that because you rejected the love of GOD and the redemptive love of CHRIST is the reason you are being in torment is beyond human thought.
On this side of eternity, I have heard people say, “I will take my chances.” Oh, friends please do not let this instant pass without asking JESUS to forgive you for your sins and to come into your heart right now. Do not put it off. This is the most serious, eternal decision you will ever make. We are all but one heartbeat away from eternity. And the eternal rewards are beyond our wildest imagination. Blessings!!!
Thursday, October 01, 2015
Bible Study - Stand (5) - GOD'S Promise of Victory - Romans 8:28-39 - October 4, 2015
Bible Study – Stand (5) – GOD’S Promise of Victory – October 4, 2015
This is lesson five (5) in our series entitled “Stand Strong: Building Your Life on GOD’S Promises.”
Our focus scripture is Romans 8:28-39.
GOD’S goodness and love overcome life’s difficulties.
The Book of Romans was written by the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Rome near the end of his third missionary journey. It was likely used as a circular letter and sent to other churches in the area. Paul had not visited Rome at the time he wrote his letter to the church in Rome. The Christian church had already been established in Rome likely by some Jews who were in Jerusalem at Pentecost and became Christians. Paul’s desire was for the Christians in Rome to know exactly the doctrine Paul preached regarding CHRIST and they would have a basis for understanding the gospel he preached and lived by.
In Romans Chapters 1-8, the Apostle Paul presented the foundation regarding the righteousness of GOD and then he expounded on those who are unrighteous. Righteousness can only come from GOD. Righteousness cannot be earned. Christians are to grow in righteousness. Ground zero is found in 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.
We see in Romans 7:21-25 the frustration of Paul when he examined his Spiritual life based upon strictly obeying the Law. Let’s read Romans 7:21-25:
21 So I discover this principle: when I want to do good, evil is with me.
22 For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God's law.
23But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.
Our focus scripture is Romans Chapter 8 which is rich in Spiritual truths regarding the love and care GOD has for HIS children. Let’s explore!
Let’s read Romans 8:28-30:
28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
29 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.
The statement “we know” suggests knowledge that comes from experience. “We know” something because we have experienced it and it has been proven to be true. “We know” that since we have made a profession of faith or will make a profession of faith that GOD is involved in all things in our lives to bring about the best end result to accomplish HIS will, plan and purpose in our lives.
This is why all who are to receive salvation have guardian angels assigned by GOD to care for them. Otherwise Satan would take out every human before they become a child of GOD before he or she experienced salvation.
Does this mean that GOD forces us to follow a specific path or make specific decisions? NO! GOD is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent HE is in the position of knowing everything about each of us and the decisions we will make. Foreknowledge does not predestine.
GOD made each person with the freedom to choose. Knowing how a person will choose gives GOD the opportunity to ensure that a person gets to the point of salvation through faith in CHRIST. Things do not drive our lives but GOD is in “all things” bringing about the best result according to HIS will, plan and purpose.
Pay special attention to the statement “for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” All people are called but it is left to each person whether or not he or she accepts the free gift of salvation through faith in CHRIST.
So why do Christians experience bad things? Paul reveals the reason in 2 Corinthians: 3-4:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.
4 He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
In verse 29, we see the words “foreknew” and “predestined.” GOD’S foreknowledge gives HIM the opportunity to “predestine” a person to receive salvation through faith in CHRIST. Thus to “predestine” the person who loves GOD allows him or her to be “called according to HIS purpose.”
What is the will and purpose for those HE foreknew? It is for them to be made into the image of HIS firstborn Son, JESUS. JESUS being the firstborn among all the men and women who will be born into the family of GOD through the miracle of rebirth gives JESUS a position of honor, supremacy and privilege. JESUS is our oldest Brother and not only our Brother but also our Savior. HE gave HIS life just for you and for me to pay, in full, the penalty for our sin. All who place their faith in HIM experience the miracle of rebirth and eternal life based upon HIS obedience to HIS Father, GOD. HE intercedes in our behalf before our Father. HE gave HIS life for all who place their faith in HIM and they will have eternal life. Christians owe it all to their eldest Brother and Savior, JESUS.
Those HE predestined “HE called.” What does Paul mean by a person being called? Keep in mind that GOD calls all people to salvation but not all will accept HIS invitation. GOD has a plan and purpose for the lives of those who accept HIS call to salvation. Those “called” have been divinely chosen and appointed by GOD to be made into the image of HIS Son, JESUS. That is the desire of GOD for every Christian. Christians still have the right to choose.
So what do I need to do? JESUS said it best in John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches.” We are to abide in CHRIST. Christians are to yield their will to the control of GOD by allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and guide their lives. Christians are to stop trying to be something they are not and allow GOD to continue the sanctification process by abiding in CHRIST.
There is a special “calling” into a specific place or area for service. This could be a certain secular career or ministry. Ministry does not have to be serving a religious institution. It could be for Christians to be a loving Godly person, husband, wife and the list goes on. All Christians are chosen to minister by reflecting the love of GOD in their lives.
This is impossible without the fullness of the Holy Spirit flowing through us and bringing balance and direction into our lives.
In verse 30 “And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified” Paul gave us a list of absolutes.
GOD calls every person to repent of his or her sins and place his or her faith in the One and Only Person Who paid, in full, the price for sin, the LORD JESUS. Those who accept GOD’S call, GOD justifies. Justifies is a term of law which means “to be declared righteous and to be given right standing” in the presence of GOD. One can also think of justification as just-as-if-I-never-sinned. Justification is only possible through faith in CHRIST because of HIS shed blood. Christians are declared righteous before GOD. Those GOD justifies, HE also “glorifies.” Glorification is the final act of salvation as Christians enter into heaven. I believe stepping out of our earth suits, our human body, into our heavenly body is seamless. The heavenly body of a Christian is fashioned by GOD.
Paul makes it clear that these things – calling, justification and glorification – are not something that is going to happen but happened at the instant we place our faith in JESUS CHRIST.
In essence, at the instant of salvation we are in heaven. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are the light and salt of the earth. Salvation is not something yet to be obtained, salvation has already taken place. Christians remain on earth to carry out the plan and purpose of GOD as we are being made into the image of CHRIST. We are GOD’S Sons and Daughters.
We know about the metamorphosis of a butterfly. It struggles in the cocoon and as it does it is being transformed into a beautiful butterfly. It is the struggle to break free from its cocoon that is the very thing that helps it to develop into a butterfly. Christians struggle to break free from the body of flesh to live in the Spirit. That comes about through the process of sanctification.
How do we know that all of this is true? It is the witness of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Romans 8:12-17:
12 So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh,
13 for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
14 All those led by God's Spirit are God's sons.
15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father!"
16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God's children,
17 and if children, also heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ-seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
Let’s read Romans 8:31-34:
The Believer's Triumph
31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
32 He did not even spare His own Son, but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything?
33 Who can bring an accusation against God's elect? God is the One who justifies.
34 Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.
How much does GOD love us? HE loved us so much that HE allowed HIS only Son to come to earth, live as a human, live a sinless life, agree for HIM to suffer and give HIS life to pay the penalty for sin, in full, so that all who place their faith in HIM will be born-again into HIS family for eternity.
How much did CHRIST love us? HE loved us so much that HE left HIS home in Heaven to come to earth to live and give HIS life for those who will place their faith in HIM to receive forgiveness from sin and its consequence death. When we place our faith in CHRIST we have all the rights and privileges of being a child of GOD and experiencing the abundant life upon earth until we enter into our true and eternal home, heaven.
If you have lost a loved one in death, especially a young person, most every parent, if they could, would likely give his or her life to restore life to their loved one. That is why we can call GOD, Father and His only Son our Brother because JESUS gave HIS Life for all who place their faith in HIM to receive eternal life.
The statement “how will He not also with Him grant us everything” carries the idea of “GOD’S Grace.” The NIV translation renders verse 32:
32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him (JESUS), graciously give us all things?
Since GOD gave HIS Only Son to give HIS life just for you and, in turn, JESUS willingly gave HIS life just for you, GOD will not withhold the free gift of salvation to any person who asks. Would JESUS give HIS life just for you and you accepted HIM as your Savior, would either GOD or JESUS then turn around and condemn you? NO! Would HE make available to each Christian what he or she needs to live according to HIS plan and purpose upon earth? YES! All Spiritual provisions are available to every Christian.
Christians are in a spiritual battle. Doubt is a powerful tool Satan uses in the lives of many Christians to make them think they are not worthy of salvation or have lost their salvation. The fact is once a person has asked CHRIST to forgive him or her and for CHRIST to come into his or her life, HE does and never leaves. Those born of the Spirit never become unborn. But Christians are to confess their sins and stop committing those sins. GOD forgives cleanses and restores.
As a Christian, what if I die before I confess my sin or sins? GOD’S grace is sufficient. So why do Christians have to confess their sin or sins? To maintain fellowship with GOD and to be fully equipped for spiritual battle each moment of each day. Paul wanted Christians to know the assurance they have in CHRIST.
What person, power, principality, Satan, demon, evil-spirit, anything seen or unseen can bring an accusation against Christians because we are the elect and GOD is the ONE WHO JUSTIFIES US AND MADE US RIGHTEOUS! CHRISTIANS CAN CALL HIM DADDY OR PAPA!
Who can condemn Christians because GOD gave those who place their faith in CHRIST the power to become SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF GOD? JESUS gave HIS life for all who will place their faith in HIM and HIS proof did not stop there. GOD raised JESUS from the dead as the firstfruits to prove that JESUS had conquered both sin and death.
Further, JESUS ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of GOD HIS Father and intercedes for us. The accuser approaches GOD every time one of HIS children sins but JESUS comes to our rescue to simply say, (Your Name) is covered by MY Shed Blood and his or her sins are forgiven.
The love of GOD is everlasting. Can Christians ever be separated from GOD? Let’s read on.
Let’s read Romans 8:35-39:
35 Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
36 As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.
37 No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
GOD’S children are eternally safe and secure in CHRIST and in GOD, our Father. Let’s read John 17:21:
21 May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me.
Christians are ONE IN CHRIST AND GOD! Now that is Good News. Nothing can snatch a Christian out of the hands of CHRIST, our Savior and GOD, our Father! Do you believe it? Or has Satan convinced you that your sins are greater than the ability of the cleansing blood of CHRIST to wash them away and make you whiter than snow? Satan is a liar and the father of lies. DON’T YOU BELIEVE his LIES! CHRIST gave HIS life for the vilest of sinners, of which I am chief.
1 Peter 5:7:
7 casting all your care upon Him, because He cares about you.
JESUS gave HIS life for all regardless of the depth of their sin. Ask JESUS to forgive you and for HIM to come into your life. Salvation is just the beginning of a dynamic relationship with GOD through JESUS!
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Bible Study - Stand (4) - GOD'S Promise of Answered Prayer - Luke 11:5-13 - September 27, 2015
Bible Study – Stand (4) – GOD’S Promise of Answered Prayer – September 27, 2015
This is lesson four (4) in our series entitled “Stand Strong: Building Your Life on GOD’S Promises.”
Our focus scripture is Luke 11:5-13.
GOD always answers prayer.
I have found that GOD always answers prayers – no, yes or wait. GOD always hears the prayer of the repentant sinner for forgiveness and salvation with a positive response - YES. GOD always hears the prayers of HIS children; as his children, it is HIS response that often gives us concern if it is “no” or “wait”.
We always like to see or receive a positive response. When the response is “no” or “wait” we often question GOD – Did YOU hear me? Don’t YOU care? Have I done something wrong? Do YOU not understand? And many other questions we have for GOD.
I have often found that I was not Spiritually prepared to receive or understand the answer. Having to wait is always the pits. We like a quick response. If our computer doesn’t respond quickly, we get upset, or when we call or go into a place of business, we want a quick response to our needs, after all our time is valuable. The list goes on.
“No” is most often the most difficult answer to take; after all we know what is the best outcome of whatever we are asking of GOD.
This lesson focuses on prayer. What is prayer? Prayer is simply talking to GOD. Ideally, it is communication between GOD and the person. We need to speak and we need to listen.
Often, we think of prayer as asking GOD to respond to our physical needs but do we consider our Spiritual needs? The movie “War Room” is a most excellent movie and if you have not seen it, I encourage you to see it. It is on prayer. We in America have gotten away from serious prayer. We have our rote sayings but not genuine prayer until we get into trouble or a family member has a specific need.
As Christians, we can come into the very presence of GOD because we are HIS children. Christians are all sinners saved by the shed blood of JESUS and are under GOD’S grace. We all have baggage from our self-life or the flesh. Often, we have strongholds which we have either knowingly or unknowingly allowed to be built in our lives. Strongholds are the best fortified and the strongest bastions for defense. Some strongholds are good but others compromise our relationship with GOD and others and have been established by our flesh nature or Satan. These strongholds must come down, brick by brick and stone by stone and destroyed, the void created must be filled by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Strongholds are anything that controls our lives except the indwelling Holy Spirit; bitterness, hatred, gossip, addictive things that enter our lives and the list goes on.
Satan cannot read your mind but Satan can place ideas and temptation before you to see how you respond. He is looking for the things that you find pleasing and then he makes sure to guide you to those things with one purpose in mind and that is to entrap and enslave you. These things become strongholds and will control your lives. Some may not be bad things but often they are addictive things. They may be good things which rob us of obediently serving the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Does this mean Christians cannot have any fun or pleasure? NO! But it does mean that we need to be on guard of the things we allow to come into our lives. We need to take inventory by asking and allowing the Holy Spirit to examine our lives, desires and intentions. When we go before GOD, our Father, we need to be honest with HIM as HE examines our lives and HE reveals things that we need to give up, bring under HIS control or the things we need to do more of. Often, we need Spiritual correction as we obediently serve our LORD GOD.
Christians need to communicate with GOD. Although JESUS was the Son of GOD, HE spent a lot of time speaking to HIS Father in prayer. It was after JESUS was praying that HIS disciples asked HIM to teach them how to pray.
Let’s read Luke 11:1-4:
The Model Prayer (JESUS teaches HIS disciples about prayer.)
1 HE was praying in a certain place, and when HE finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John (the Baptist) also taught his disciples."
2 He said to them, "Whenever you pray, say: Father, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us. And do not bring us into temptation."
This is from the Holman translation and it reads differently from our traditional prayer referred to as “the LORD’S Prayer.” It is actually the Model Prayer.
JESUS had been praying and HIS disciples asked HIM to teach them how to pray to GOD which indicates they had associated the importance CHRIST placed on praying or communicating with GOD, HIS Father. Being disciples they had a relationship with JESUS, although that relationship would grow Spiritually after the death, resurrection of JESUS, HIS ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell their lives.
HIS disciples knew that JESUS prayed to GOD and they knew that John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray to GOD. In fact, two of JESUS’ disciples were former disciples of John the Baptist. Aren’t we glad that JESUS’ disciples asked HIM this question and there is a written record! It was the time to teach them and, in turn, HIS response teaches us.
JESUS taught them to address GOD as Father. This is a model or guide prayer for those who have placed their faith in JESUS. All who have been born-again are the children of GOD through the miracle of rebirth; therefore, GOD is the Spiritual Father of all Christians. Some translations include HIS location “in heaven” so as not to confuse father with any other father figure except GOD, Yahweh.
GOD is to be honored and reverenced because HE is Holy. We are HIS children and can come to HIM 24/7 but we are to treat HIM with respect, honor and reverence because of HIS holiness and great love for each of us. Yes, Christians can call HIM “Daddy” but we are to not forget Who HE is.
We are to seek the establishing of HIS kingdom in our hearts and lives so that we can share this Good News of CHRIST with others as we obediently walk with HIM and function in HIS kingdom. HIS kingdom is first established in our hearts by placing our faith in CHRIST and then at the right time HIS kingdom will be established upon earth after the second coming of CHRIST.
CHRIST knew that all humans have both physical and Spiritual needs. Just as the Israelites gathered manna each day to sustain them was provided by GOD, Christians are to look to GOD to meet both their physical and Spiritual needs day by day. Just as they were to gather only enough manna for one day and a double portion to carry them through the Sabbath, so are we to take life a day at the time but also to put enough aside to carry us through a time when provisions are not supplied; such as hiding HIS Word in our hearts and practicing in the dark days what we learn in the light as we build our relationship with HIM and managing our resources.
JESUS addressed the attitude of our hearts as Christians regarding forgiveness. GOD has forgiven each of us for our sins and, in turn, we need to extend that same attitude of forgiveness to others. Forgiveness reflects that our hearts are truly in harmony and unity with GOD.
JESUS’ statement “do not bring us into temptation” can be troubling. It could be rendered “do not allow our flesh nature to lead us into areas of temptation but if it serves your purpose to strengthen us, then be with us through the temptation by delivering us from the evil one.” The Gospel according to Matthew adds “but deliver us from the evil one.”
JESUS continued HIS teaching regarding prayer, as we read our next scripture.
Let’s read Luke 11:5-10:
Keep Asking, Searching, Knocking (Persistence keeps us focused on GOD as we wait for HIM to answer our request.)
5 He also said to them: "Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I don't have anything to offer him.'
7 Then he will answer from inside and say, 'Don't bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I have gone to bed. I can't get up to give you anything.'
8 I tell you, even though he won't get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence, he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
9 "So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
The fact that Doctor Luke leads into this story with the words “HE also said to them” ties the model prayer to this example.
In the desert regions it is hot and a good time for travel in that day was late evening when the sun goes down. Such was the likely situation which resulted in these guests arriving, unannounced at a friend’s home at midnight. They did not have cell phones, postal service or computers, so they arrived unexpectedly.
In that day houses had limited space and the family for the most part slept in one large room along with their small animals. So this story sent a clear message to those who heard JESUS teach. The friend, who had the much needed bread, was bedded down and sleeping soundly, with his family and their small animals. The door into their house was locked and secure. We all know that once the children are asleep we do not want to awake them or disturb the animals and unlock a secured door. It was a complicated situation and an aggravation.
A friend had unexpected guests and needed three loaves of bread because he did not have any bread to offer his weary guests. The friend goes to the most likely person who could meet his need for bread at such a late hour. Traditionally enough bread was baked to provide enough bread for a day. Bread was baked fresh each day. But in this case the person needing bread knew where to go to find bread in the middle of the night.
Even though it was a bad time for the friend needing bread to be banging on the door, the friend with the bread will get up, run the risk of disturbing the household and give the person what he needs in order to keep him quiet. The friend who had bread was not a happy person in the middle of the night as we read in his reply “Don’t bother me!”
Notice the person with the bread said, “I can’t get up.” In essence, I am blocked in by children and other things. Surely, you can find someone else who can provide what you need or do without until morning.
The person needing the bread received the bread because of his persistence or “shameless audacity.”
So what was JESUS communicating? Was it, if we bang on GOD’S door long enough we will get what we want? No, HIS teaching is that GOD has all the provisions any of us need and at the proper time HE will provide for our needs according to HIS will and plan for us. We should let HIM know what we think our needs are but HE decides what we need, how much we need and when to provide it. JESUS makes this point as HE continues HIS teaching.
In the act of seeking or asking, searching and knocking our relationship with GOD is honed and our relationship with GOD is built. JESUS made it clear that when we keep on seeking or asking, it will be given to us, when we keep on searching, we will find and when we keep on knocking, the door will be opened.
We need to review the model prayer JESUS used:
- Because GOD is our Father, we acknowledge HIM as Holy
- We embrace the coming of HIS kingdom both in our hearts and eventually upon earth.
- GOD provides for our daily needs both physically and Spiritually.
- Our relationship with GOD is reflected in our willingness to forgive others.
- We are dependent upon GOD to deliver us from the snares of the evil one. But there are times when GOD allows us to go through difficult times to strengthen us and make us more fruitful.
When we walk with GOD through our faith in CHRIST, GOD has the best interest of HIS children in mind, at all times, regardless of what we think. We are to obediently serve GOD according to HIS will, plan and purpose for our lives and to trust HIM.
To drive this point home JESUS continued in the next scripture.
Let’s read Luke 11:11-13:
11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish?
12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"
JESUS used practical examples to give understanding to HIS teaching. Every parent’s desire is to provide the best for their child or children. If a child asks their father for a fish, would the father give him or her a snake? Of course not is the expected reply. Or if a child asks for an egg would the father give him or her a scorpion? Of course not! We love our child or children and we would not give them something which would harm them and neither will GOD.
When we consider the sinful nature of our hearts and the perfect heart and nature of GOD, HOW MUCH MORE will GOD our Father in heaven will give us what HE knows is best for us. It may not be what we think is best for us. But HE not only gives what is the best to meet our needs but along with meeting our needs, HE will give us an increased portion of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives to get us through life’s circumstances when and where needed. Prayer and relationship with GOD through faith in CHRIST are vital as we obediently serve our LORD.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Bible Study - Stand (3) - GOD'S Promise of Provision - Psalm 34:4-14 - September 20, 2015
Bible Study – Stand (3) – GOD’S Promise of Provision – September 20, 2015
This is lesson three (3) in our series entitled “Stand Strong: Build Your Life on GOD’S Promises.”
Our focus scripture is Psalm 34:4-14
GOD provides for those who choose to live under HIS care.
Our focus scripture is a psalm related to David seeking refuge with the Philistine King Achish (AY-kish) of Gath. The reference to Abimelech (uh-BIM-uh-lek) is thought to be a generic title like “pharaoh.” David had fled the court of King Saul and needed a safe place as we read in 1 Samuel 21:10-15:
10 David fled that day from Saul's presence and went to King Achish of Gath.
11 But Achish's servants said to him, "Isn't this David, the king of the land? Don't they sing about him during their dances: Saul has killed his thousands, but David his tens of thousands?"
12 David took this to heart and became very afraid of King Achish of Gath,
13 so he pretended to be insane in their presence. He acted like a madman around them, scribbling on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.
14 "Look! You can see the man is crazy," Achish said to his servants. "Why did you bring him to me?
15 Do I have such a shortage of crazy people that you brought this one to act crazy around me? Is this one going to come into my house?"
Why did David act like a mentally ill person? It was the custom of that day not to harm a mentally ill person and David feared for his life.
Psalm 34 is an acrostic psalm. This means that each two-line stanza begins with the succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet with the exception of one letter not being included. It is also classified as a “wisdom psalm.” David was expressing his personal testimony regarding the faithfulness of GOD. Let’s explore!
Let’s read Psalm 34:1-3: (Lead in)
The Lord Delivers the Righteous
Concerning David, when he pretended to be insane in the presence of
Abimelech, who drove him out, and he departed.
1 I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will boast in the Lord; the humble will hear and be glad.
3 Proclaim with me the Lord's greatness; let us exalt His name together.
David was expressing his full confidence in GOD regardless of the circumstances in which he found himself. Notice the words he used: praise, boast, proclaim and exalt. Such true expressions of confidence in GOD come from the heart of a person who knows GOD and has an intimate relationship with HIM. David invited others who knew GOD to join him in this celebration of knowing GOD through an intimate relationship.
Can a person fake his or her relationship with GOD through CHRIST? Yes! Christian jargon can be mimicked. A person can have head knowledge of CHRIST and not heart knowledge. Here we have to trust that having head knowledge reflects the desire for that person to have heart knowledge and the Holy Spirit will work in that person’s life to bring about the fullness of knowing HIM in his or her life. Often there can be barriers to a person holding back on allowing CHRIST to lead and direct his or her life. The flesh does not want to relinquish control.
David began his psalm with total trust in GOD which came about through experience and he invited others to join him in praising the “LORD at all times.”
Let’s read Psalm 34:4-7:
4 I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard [him] and saved him from all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.
Knowing about GOD, what we call head knowledge, is one thing but experiencing GOD, what we call heart knowledge comes from experiencing GOD, is quite another. David was writing based upon not what he had been told about GOD but what he had experienced by walking with GOD.
David was not perfect, yet GOD said he was a man after HIS own heart. That gives me hope and encouragement. I hope that gives you hope as well. We are all sinners saved by grace.
David sought the LORD and HE answered me!
The word “sought” carries the idea of “asking”, “seeking” and to keep on “asking” or “seeking” until we receive an answer. This is the Spiritual lesson JESUS was conveying in Matthew 7:7-12:
7 "Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?
10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?
11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
12 Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them-this is the Law and the Prophets.
There is great joy when we know GOD has heard us because HE responded by answering and revealing truth.
GOD answered him and delivered him from all his fears.
David had experienced GOD’S protection as he escaped King Saul and King Achish.
When those who seek GOD find that secure relationship with HIM, “are radiant with joy.” Have you seen fellow Christians who seem to glow because of the presence of the LORD within them?
Such a “look” is not a glance but it is an intense, probing look into the depths of their being to know GOD. When a Christian sees the majesty of GOD it cannot be hidden but reflected. Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun so do Christians who reflect the light of GOD through their relationship with JESUS.
In verse 7, David used the words “this poor man cried.” David was not referring to a person being financially poor but a person being at his or her wits end with no place to turn for help. All options had run out and without the help of the LORD the man or woman would be destroyed. This poor man’s only hope was in GOD and guess what? GOD came to his rescue which proved that GOD heard him and saved him from not some but all of his troubles.
Life becomes more abundant when we know GOD is our refuge and strength in times of trouble.
“The angel of the LORD,” statement could be a reference to GOD, CHRIST or to our guardian angels. The Holman Bible translation capitalized Angel to show that the translators thought the original manuscript intent was to refer to GOD. The word angel refers to “messenger” or “deputy.” But the assurance is in the fact that GOD rescues HIS own. Other Bible scholars believe it was a reference to GOD.
As we look at verse 8, in essence David was stating, if you do not believe me, then try my GOD, the One True GOD of Israel, for yourself.
Let’s read Psalm 34:8-10:
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!
9 Fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him lack nothing.
10 Young lions lack food and go hungry, but those who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing.
David used the word “taste” which means to experience GOD and see, by proving to you that GOD is good and trustworthy. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Taking refuge in the LORD is to completely rely upon HIM for your protection and safety. We are to take refuge in GOD but we are not to forget Who HE is. We, you HIS saints, must always show HIM respect and honor as captured by the word “fear.”
Self sufficient people (often materially rich but Spiritually poor) often do not want to seek the help of someone else, especially having to rely upon GOD, so they go Spiritually hungry.
Those who do not take GOD seriously will go Spiritually hungry but those who respect and honor GOD do not come up lacking.
Let’s read Psalm 34:11-14:
11 Come, children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Who is the man who delights in life, loving a long life to enjoy what is good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech.
14 Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it.
David’s desire was to teach others to have an intimate, trusting, loving relationship with GOD. He admonished those seeking an intimate relationship with GOD to listen to his instructions with the purpose of applying GOD’S wisdom to their lives. He used the word “fear” which means to honor, respect and reverence GOD. We must not be just hearers of the Word of GOD but doers. What we know, as revealed through our intimate relationship with GOD through CHRIST, must be put into action as led by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
If a person loves life, and who doesn’t, and wants to build the right relationship with GOD, he or she must be careful what he or she says by guarding his or her tongue. For out of the mouth can come blessings or curses.
Guarding our tongue reflects the nature of our hearts. Those having the desire to have the right relationship with GOD through CHRIST must allow GOD to conquer the desires of their flesh. This is an act of the will. Christians are to turn from evil and choose to be obedient to GOD’S leadership and commands. Christians are to seek peace and take action to preserve peace.
When GOD reveals issues that need to be brought to light, once they have been exposed, then seek peace by trusting GOD to bring about the end result according to HIS will and purpose. These could be issues that hamper our Spiritual walk as Christians or issues within the Spiritual body of CHRIST, the true church.
True happiness is getting to know GOD through experience. Walking with GOD each day builds an intimate, loving relationship which becomes a natural part of life. To me, the ultimate relationship with GOD is when being obedient to GOD is a natural part of our lives. Blessings!!!