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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bible Study - Thrive (1) - Praying with Joy - Philippians 1:3-11 - January 22, 2017

Bible Study – Thrive (1) – Praying with Joy – January 22, 2017

This is lesson one (1) in our new series entitled “Thrive: Living in Real Joy.”

Our focus scripture is Philippians 1:3-11.

Prayer is an opportunity to experience joy.

It is fitting that this new series follows our study of GOD’S Word, Psalm 119, and the special lesson, GOD has chosen us – all of us for HIS purpose.
We are not upon earth by accident but by design. GOD knew us before HE created the world. Exactly according to HIS plan, we were conceived and born with the freewill to choose.

Over the next six-weeks our focus scripture will be taken from Philippians. Our lesson will focus on: Praying, Sharing, Following, Growing, Practicing and Giving. Each study will focus on the “Joy” associated with each of these.
Lesson one focuses on “Praying with Joy.” Let’s explore!

Prayer is talking with GOD. Prayer is a two-way conversation. We talk with GOD and GOD speaks to us. How does GOD speak to us? Any way we will listen to HIM. Do you recall 1 Kings 19:11-13, GOD communicated with the Prophet Elijah as we read:

11 Then He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord's presence." At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

12 After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.

13 When Elijah heard [it], he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

Priscilla Shirer has a Bible Study entitled “Discerning the Voice of GOD.” If you have not taken it, I highly recommend it.

Do we pray in real joy? What is our expectation? When GOD does not respond, what do we do?

We must keep in mind that there is the physical and the spiritual realm. Let’s consider the prayer of Daniel. His prayer was delayed, as we recorded in Daniel 10:10-14:

Angelic Conflict

10 Suddenly, a hand touched me (Daniel) and raised me to my hands and knees.

11 He said to me, "Daniel, you are a man treasured [by God]. Understand the words that I'm saying to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you." After he said this to me, I stood trembling.

Do you know that you are treasured by GOD?

12 "Don't be afraid, Daniel," he said to me, "for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers.

13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for 21 days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me after I had been left there with the kings of Persia.

14 Now I have come to help you understand what will happen to your people in the last days, for the vision refers to those days."

GOD’S delay does not indicate that GOD has not already taken action on your request. You simply do not know it. That is why, when we pray, we must trust.  
The Apostle Paul gives us insight into the spirit world in Ephesians 6:12-13:

12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

Satan does not want Christians to experience the power of prayer. The words of Dr. Vance Havner come to mind “We must practice in the dark what we learn in the light.”

When we pray, we must trust GOD to answer according to HIS will and purpose for our lives and in the lives of others.

The scripture reveals to Christian men a very important point regarding their prayer life as recorded in 1 Peter 3:7:

7 Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as co-heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

The Apostle Paul was called by GOD to go to Macedonia. The Apostle Paul and his companions would establish a church in Philippi. This is recorded in Acts 15:36-41 and 16:1-40. Paul, Timothy, Silas and Luke met with a group of women who were worshiping near the river in Philippi. This group of ladies formed the base for the new Christian church in Philippi.

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church at Philippi was written while Paul was in prison in Rome. He thanked them for the gift they had sent to him. Plus, he wanted them to know the joy and strength that comes from obediently serving JESUS. Let’s explore!

Let’s read Philippians 1:1-2:

1 Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus: To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Slaves are those bought with a price for the purpose of doing their masters work. All who place their faith in JESUS have been bought with a price no other person can provide and that is the shed blood of JESUS.

Let’s read Philippians 1:3-6:
Thanksgiving and Prayer

3 I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you,

It is wonderful when our memories of a certain place and friends we met in that place bring joy to us. Paul reveals the joy in the LORD that he experienced with them in Philippi. There was unity and harmony through the common bond of Christian fellowship which is “koinonia.” There was “joy” which comes from the Greek “chara” which is related to the Greek word “charis” for “grace.”

Paul had rich memories because GOD was at work in Philippi in the lives of Lydia and the Philippian jailer and his family. Watching GOD work in the lives of people brings joy to all who minister in the name of JESUS. This leads us to ----

4 always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer,

5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is always a joy to watch those who have accepted JESUS as their Savior continually to obediently serve HIM throughout their lives. Once they began their journey with JESUS they have continued to walk with HIM.

We need to look back at Acts 16:11-40:

Lydia's Conversion

11 Then, setting sail from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, the next day to Neapolis,

12 and from there to Philippi, a Roman colony, which is a leading city of that district of Macedonia. We stayed in that city for a number of days.

13 On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate by the river, where we thought there was a place of prayer. We sat down and spoke to the women gathered there.

14 A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was spoken by Paul.

15 After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, "If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.

Paul and Silas in Prison

16 Once, as we were on our way to prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit of prediction and made a large profit for her owners by fortune-telling.

17 As she followed Paul and us she cried out, "These men are the slaves of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation."

18 And she did this for many days. But Paul was greatly aggravated, and turning to the spirit, said, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!" And it came out right away.

19 When her owners saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.

20 And bringing them before the chief magistrates, they said, "These men are seriously disturbing our city. They are Jews,

21 and are promoting customs that are not legal for us as Romans to adopt or practice."

22 Then the mob joined in the attack against them, and the chief magistrates stripped off their clothes and ordered them to be beaten with rods.

23 After they had inflicted many blows on them, they threw them in jail, ordering the jailer to keep them securely guarded.

24 Receiving such an order, he put them into the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks.

A Midnight Deliverance

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's chains came loose.

27 When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison open, he drew his sword and was going to kill himself, since he thought the prisoners had escaped.

28 But Paul called out in a loud voice, "Don't harm yourself, because all of us are here!"

29 Then the jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.

30 Then he escorted them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

31 So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household."

32 Then they spoke the message of the Lord to him along with everyone in his house.

33 He took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds. Right away he and all his family were baptized.

34 He brought them up into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had believed God with his entire household.

An Official Apology

35 When daylight came, the chief magistrates sent the police to say, "Release those men!"

36 The jailer reported these words to Paul: "The magistrates have sent orders for you to be released. So come out now and go in peace."

37 But Paul said to them, "They beat us in public without a trial, although we are Roman citizens, and threw us in jail. And now are they going to smuggle us out secretly? Certainly not! On the contrary, let them come themselves and escort us out!"

38 Then the police reported these words to the magistrates. And they were afraid when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens.

39 So they came and apologized to them, and escorting them out, they urged them to leave town.

40 After leaving the jail, they came to Lydia's house where they saw and encouraged the brothers, and departed.

The Church of Philippi was established in Lydia’s house.

Now back to our focus scripture repeating Philippians 1:6:

6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Salvation is an ongoing process until a Christian either, exits his or her earth suit and goes to Heaven or CHRIST returns to earth for the second time. Christians are secure in CHRIST.

Let’s read Philippians 1:7-8:

7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel.

Paul was on the receiving end of the love the Christians in Philippi had for JESUS because they were ministering to him in prison and remaining steadfast in the defense and rock solid foundation of the gospel during times of uncertainty.

8 For God is my witness, how I deeply miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

The hard times in our lives produce joy when we see the hand of GOD at work in those whose hearts have been changed by the gospel. Hard times produced lasting relationships with fellow Christians in Philippi. Christians in Philippi saw the power and hand of GOD at work in the lives of Paul, Silas and the others who were with Paul as well as fellow converts to CHRIST.

Paul witnessed a genuineness of salvation in the lives of the Christians in Philippi because they had not forgotten Paul and had reached out to him while he was in prison in Rome. They had sent Epaphroditus to minister to Paul in prison with financial support.

Paul and Silas had demonstrated the love of JESUS when they were beaten and placed in jail in Philippi and GOD’S deliverance and care for them. They saw the fruit that came from their overnight stay in jail that resulted in the jailer and his family receiving JESUS as their Savior and becoming Christians. They saw that Paul and Silas exonerated by the public officials in Philippi.

Let’s read Philippians 1:9-11:

9 And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment,

Paul’s prayer was for their love of JESUS to continue to grow as they put into action what GOD, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, was revealing to them. Growth is continuing action. When Christians put into action what they learn as they yield their lives to CHRIST results in knowledge. Wisdom is knowledge applied to GOD’S plan. Wisdom in turn results in having every kind of discernment for application to our walk as Christians -----

10 so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ,

11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that [comes] through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Discernment keeps us focused on that which is important to GOD according to HIS plans and purpose for our lives. We can get caught up in busy activity which robs us of time. Christians need to discern what really matters to GOD and for Christians to obediently use their time wisely.

We are time dependent. If Satan can get us to chase useless activity that is contrary to GOD’S plan it dilutes the time Christians can focus on that which is important for GOD. It robs GOD and it robs us of the joy of obedient service.

Satan will do all he can to get our eyes turned away from GOD.

GOD is sovereign and our prayer life is vital for Christians to function upon earth. Satan desires for humans to consider this world truth and reality but the truth is that all Christians are destined for heaven which is truth and reality. This world is not our home; we are aliens in a foreign land. Prayer connects us to truth. Salvation connects us to this truth and is the starting point to reality. Christians look through the fog of life and then face to face as they build their relationship with GOD through JESUS. As we read and study GOD’S Word, pray and obediently put into action what GOD reveals to us, the fog of this life is lifted and we begin to see and understand truth.

May we all be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through JESUS CHRIST to the glory and praise of GOD” because this world is not our final destination. The “fruit of righteousness” as it is manifested in our lives brings unspeakable joy to us as we communicate with our Father, through prayer, because HE is the reality upon earth in the midst of the fog in life upon 
earth. Blessings!!! 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bible Study - Special Lesson (2) - Created For a Purpose - Jeremiah 1:4-10 - January 15, 2017

Bible Study – Special Lesson (2) – Created For a Purpose – January 15, 2017

This is a special lesson.

Our focus scripture is Jeremiah 1:4-10.

Before you were born, GOD designed you with great value.

It is mind-boggling to know that GOD knew us before creation. The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:4:

4 for He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love

This is confirmed in our focus scripture as we continue to read.

Let’s read Jeremiah 1:4-5:
The Call of Jeremiah

4 The word of the Lord came to me:

5 I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

GOD confirmed to Jeremiah that HE had chosen him before HE was formed in his mother’s womb.

We are all chosen but few accept and respond to GOD’S call. Some may say “GOD did not call me to anything special.” Being a person interacting with fellow humans where you live, go to school, work, play, etc. is a calling. Some may live in not so good circumstances, when you belong to GOD; HE is preparing you to serve HIM.

GOD made all of us with the freedom to choose. Often, many who are chosen by GOD, question GOD. Often, we feel unworthy to be chosen by GOD. GOD has a plan for each of us and when we choose to obediently follow HIM, HE directs our path and walks with us as we journey with HIM, as led by the indwelling Holy Spirit. GOD made us with the freedom to choose. It is a conscience decision whether or not we yield our will to GOD and allow HIM to lead us in the direction HE desires for us. But we must have HIM in our lives in order for HIM to lead us. In order for HIM to be in us, we must place our faith in JESUS before HE can direct our lives through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. JESUS is the path to building the right relationship with GOD. Do you recall John 14:5-6?

5 "Lord," Thomas said, "we don't know where You're going. How can we know the way?"

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

Let’s read Jeremiah 1:6-8:

6 But I protested, "Oh no, Lord God! Look, I don't know how to speak since I am [only] a youth."

7 Then the Lord said to me: Do not say: I am [only] a youth, for you will go to everyone I send you to and speak whatever I tell you.

8 Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to deliver you. [This is] the Lord's declaration.

When GOD chooses a person/calls a person, he or she often rebels because the person does not believe he or she is capable. The Prophet Jeremiah was no different. He was concerned that he was “only a youth.” When GOD chooses, 

HE knows our capabilities. We look at our inability and overlook the fact that our inability in GOD’S hands equals HIS ability manifested through us.
Moses struggled with this as we read in Exodus 3:10-16:

10 Therefore, go. I (GOD) am sending you to Pharaoh so that you may lead My people, the Israelites, out of Egypt."

11 But Moses asked God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"

Moses knew that he had killed an Egyptian and fled Egypt when he was 40 years old. He had lived in Midian for 40 years tending sheep. He was now 80 years old and in the desert tending sheep when GOD spoke to him from a burning bush that was not consumed.

How could GOD use a murderer to carry out HIS purpose to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian slavery?

12 He (GOD) answered, "I will certainly be with you, and this will be the sign to you that I have sent you: when you bring the people out of Egypt, you will all worship God at this mountain."

13 Then Moses asked God, "If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, 'What is His name?' what should I tell them?"

Moses was still questioning whether or not he would respond to GOD’S call to ministry.

14 God replied to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you."

GOD has always been and always will be GOD thus HIS response “I AM.” Yahweh is derived from the Hebrew “I AM.” “I AM” is always in the present and we are always in the present. “I AM”/GOD was with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They had died but “I AM” was still the same and still very much alive because “I AM” is eternal and will always be eternal and in the present.
The moment a microsecond happens in our lives, it is in the past. The next microsecond has not happened until it takes place. We age but GOD remains the same and that is why GOD’S Word is always relevant regardless of the time in human history. GOD is and always has been relevant with the times. GOD makes history.

We, as humans, think we make history but that is Satan’s deception. GOD is in control. HE guides the way or path for humans and leaders of nations to follow. HE warns us when we start to wander from that path. If we do not alter our relationship with HIM as a person or a nation, we will suffer the consequence. Does that mean that GOD does not love us? Oh au contraire, GOD disciplines those whom HE loves just as good parents discipline their child.  

15 God also said to Moses, "Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.

16 "Go and assemble the elders of Israel and say to them: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to me and said: I have paid close attention to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt.

The King James version of the Bible translates “I have paid close attention to you” as “I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:

The point being GOD cares about HIS chosen. Yes, HIS children were in slavery for 400 years but why? It was GOD’S way of protecting HIS chosen and allowing them to grow physically into a nation and was HIS plan for them to grow Spiritually and develop an intimate relationship with HIM.

As you recall, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and was in Egypt. Joseph had risen to be next in command to Pharaoh. There was a famine and Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to purchase grain. Joseph recognized them and ultimately invited his family to come to live with him in Egypt. Jacob agreed and seventy (70) moved to Egypt. The Pharaoh who knew Joseph died and other Pharaohs took over who did not know Joseph and life became hard for the Israelites. The Israelites where in bondage for 400 years but they grew in numbers to about 600,000. This was GOD way of preserving the Israelites to fulfill HIS covenant to Abraham.  

GOD’S desire was to reveal Himself to HIS chosen first and then to the world. GOD revealed Himself to the Israelites as HE revealed Himself to the stubborn Pharaoh who would not let the Israelites go from Egypt. Then GOD continued to reveal Himself to the Israelites as they journeyed physically by the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.

GOD worked through HIS chosen leaders for the purpose of revealing Himself and HIS love to HIS chosen people. In turn, HIS care for HIS chosen would translate to the love GOD, the One True GOD, has for all people of all nations.
HIS ultimate love was revealed to every person through the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of JESUS the CHRIST. HIS assurance is confirmed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and lives of all who place their faith in GOD’S only Son, JESUS.

Let’s read Exodus 4:1-14:
Miraculous Signs for Moses

1 Then Moses answered, "What if they won't believe me and will not obey me but say, 'The Lord did not appear to you'?"

Moses still questioned GOD. Moses questioned his ability to be convincing. 

Moses had to learn to trust GOD as we all do when GOD calls us to ministry. 

GOD helps us to build the right relationship with HIM as we move forward.

Ministry is more than being involved in religious activity. Ministry involves all aspects of our lives e.g. preparing for our careers, choosing a mate, where to live and the list goes on. GOD calls craftsmen, plumbers, physicians, teachers, mothers and dads, etc. as well as those who serve in the church.

Step one is for every person to ask JESUS to forgive him or her for their sins and for JESUS to come into their life. Working in a religious setting does not make us a Christian. Once we receive salvation by placing our faith in JESUS, we are on a journey for Spiritual growth though the process of sanctification.

There are times when we come to a pause, stop sign, fork in the road or a turn in our lives. Where do we look for guidance? Is GOD sufficient to guide us or will we take matters into our own hands?

Moses had a choice. How would he choose? Would his choices always be according to GOD’S plan?

2 The Lord asked him, "What is that in your hand?" "A staff," he replied.

Moses was a shepherd and a shepherd’s staff was vital to the shepherd. It was his protection, used for guiding the sheep, rescuing the sheep and defending the sheep.

3 Then He said, "Throw it on the ground." He threw it on the ground, and it became a snake. Moses ran from it,

GOD instructed Moses to get rid of what was vital to him by throwing it onto the ground. When he did, the staff became a snake. It is likely that Moses recognized the snake as a venomous snake because he ran from it.  

4 but the Lord told him, "Stretch out your hand and grab it by the tail." So he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand.

GOD instructed Moses to grab the snake by its tail. Anyone who handles a snake knows he or she would never grab a snake, especially a venomous snake by its tail. He or she would grab it behind its head to prevent it from biting. 

Moses obediently responded and the snake became a staff.

When GOD calls, often we must get rid of that with which we are most comfortable. It is absolutely vital that we respond to GOD’S call and not to our desires. Some people test GOD by getting rid of something before HE instructs us and when we do it will not go well. When that happens, we blame GOD but in retrospect it was our way of testing GOD rather than GOD testing us.

5 "This will take place," He continued, "so they will believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you."

6 In addition the Lord said to him, "Put your hand inside your cloak." So he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, his hand was diseased, like snow.

7 Then He said, "Put your hand back inside your cloak." He put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, it had again become like the rest of his skin.

8 "If they will not believe you and will not respond to the evidence of the first sign, they may believe the evidence of the second sign.

9 And if they don't believe even these two signs or listen to what you say, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the Nile will become blood on the ground."

10 But Moses replied to the Lord, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent-either in the past or recently or since You have been speaking to Your servant-because I am slow and hesitant in speech."

11 The Lord said to him, "Who made the human mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?

12 Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say."

When GOD calls HE also equips. Our part is to trust GOD. GOD made us for HIS purpose which can take many forms – career, parent, grandparent, etc.

Notice Exodus 4:20:

20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.

Moses staff became GOD’S Staff.

Let’s read Jeremiah 1:9-10:

9 Then the Lord reached out His hand, touched my mouth, and told me: Look, I have filled your mouth with My words.

10 See, today I have set you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and demolish, to build and plant.

When GOD calls our part is to trust in HIM and HIS part is to equip us as we put into action what HE has revealed to us.

The Prophet Jeremiah was called the “weeping prophet” because he wept over the fact that Israelites would not repent for their sins and turn back to GOD. 

He preached for 40 years without a single convert. In the eyes of the world Jeremiah was a failure but in the eyes of GOD he was a success. He did the will of GOD but the people chose not to listen and as a result Jerusalem was destroyed and the Israelites were carried off into captivity. Jeremiah spoke truth and was spared.

Do we weep over our sins, our family, our friends, the sinful condition of America or the world?

GOD has a plan for each of us. Our first step is to have the right relationship with GOD, which we know is to place our faith in HIS only Son, JESUS. Otherwise, we are responding to the call of our flesh. There are many good causes where we can volunteer our time which may cause us to think that we are doing the will of GOD. And I quickly add that GOD calls many to work for or to establish these organizations. That is a calling. Often, GOD allows us to work to discover that either what we are doing is or is not the will of GOD for our lives.  

The key is that every person is the handiwork of GOD and he or she has been placed upon earth to fulfill the will and purpose of GOD. He or she is unique but often he or she must look at what’s in his or her hand and throw it down and allow GOD to instruct him or her on what to do next. But we must be careful that GOD instructs us to throw down what we cling to. Often, when we release what we cling to, GOD’S instructs us to pick it up again. But HE directs us.

I imagine that Moses never looked at his staff the same way again after GOD turned his staff into a snake and then back into his staff. We must keep in mind that GOD instructed Moses to throw his staff down. Often, in our human nature, we want to throw our staff down.

We must build our relationship with GOD first by placing our faith in JESUS and allowing the indwelling Holy Spirit to help us to grow Spiritually as we obediently serve GOD according to HIS plan and purpose for our lives. Allow GOD to be your strength by building the right relationship with HIM. Trust is a vital component of any relationship. Blessings!!!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Bible Study - Rhythm (6) - GOD'S Word is Truth - Psalm 119:153-160 - January 8, 2017

Bible Study – Rhythm (6) – GOD’S Word is Truth – January 8, 2017

This is our sixth and final lesson in our series entitled “Spoken: The Rhythm of GOD’S Word.”

Our focus scripture is Psalm 119:153-160.

I can fully rely on what the Bible teaches.

“GOD has not left us alone to determine truth: HE has given us HIS Word to reveal truth. The verses for this session make up the 20th strophe of Psalm 119. In the midst of his own despair, the psalmist turned to GOD’S Word for direction. He cried out to be delivered from persecution and prayed that his life might be spared. He based his appeal on GOD’S Word, which is true and enduring, and GOD’S love, which is abundant and available.” [Herschel Hobbs Commentary, page 57, winter 2016-2017, published by LifeWay, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-0175.]

We must keep in mind that the Bible is not GOD but reflects GOD. Each of us must have a personal relationship with GOD through faith in JESUS the CHRIST. Then, when we study the Bible the indwelling Holy Spirit can help us discern truth and help us build an intimate, personal relationship with GOD through our faith in CHRIST.

The Good News is that, as non-Christians, when they search for truth and read GOD’S word, the Holy Spirit will lead them to truth, which is JESUS the Christ.

As I begin a New Year, my prayer is that I will get to know GOD even more during this coming year. This series of lessons has helped me to see the importance of GOD’S Word in building a personal intimate relationship with HIM. It is vital that we see GOD’S Word as truth and applicable to our lives as we seek to obediently follow HIM. This does not mean that all will go according to our plans but that GOD is in all things to bring about an even closer daily walk with HIM regardless of our circumstances/situations.

Let’s continue to explore GOD through the Spiritual eyes of the psalmist!

Although the psalmist had discovered truth through GOD’S Word, he still had struggles with issues in his life. GOD uses struggles in our lives to bring us into an even closer relationship with HIM.

In last week’s study, the LORD led me to refer to 2 Corinthians 5:21:

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

This prompted me to consider the question, “Since we are made righteous at the instant of salvation, why do Christians go through the process of sanctification?”

What are your thoughts?

Here are some of my thoughts:
-         At the instant of salvation we are born Spiritually into GOD’S family. Christians immediately become GOD’S Sons or Daughters but we live in this body of flesh.
-         Sanctification sets our body of flesh apart from the world to magnify, glorify and obediently serve GOD through our faith in JESUS.
-         All humans are just that, humans and contain natural instincts and abilities. Even though Christians have been born-again into GOD’S family, they remain upon earth as GOD’S representative which is captured by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5: 20: Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ; certain that God is appealing through us, we plead on Christ's behalf, "Be reconciled to God."
-         Sanctification is the process of reconciliation as the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:16-19: 16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him like that.
-         17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.
-         18 Now everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
-         19 that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.
-         Christians are to share the Good News of salvation with everyone as GOD gives them opportunity. Sanctification is the ongoing process of our humanness being fashioned into CHRIST likeness.

GOD’S Word is a mirror such that as we peer into it, it reflects our true Spiritual image and reveals areas in our lives still in need of work. But do not despair. When we were young most of us wondered what we would grow up to be like. Human growth and Spiritual growth require good nourishment, exercise, work and study.

JESUS stated it well in John 15:1-8:

The Vine and the Branches

1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper.
2 Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.
3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
4 Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.
5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.
6 If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.
8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.

Spiritual growth and connectedness is vital for Christians to grow and develop Spiritually. All Christians are a work in progress and encounter bumps along the road of life.

Let’s read Psalm 119:153-155:

Resh – This is the twentieth (20) letter in the Hebrew alphabet. 

153 Consider my affliction and rescue me, for I have not forgotten Your instruction.

The psalmist was asking GOD to know his heart and for HIM to search his heart to make a judgment whether or not his situation/circumstances were the result of his disobedience toward GOD. The psalmist seemed to be asking, “GOD, if my circumstances are not the result of my doing, then I ask YOU to deliver me.” That is “take away or remove.” The flip side is, if I am in my situation as a result of either my doing or YOU allowing me to learn from it please either rescue me or come close to me during this time in my life. 

Rescue carries the idea of “equipping him to face the battle” if this was something GOD desired for him to endure. 

From the psalmist point-of-view, he was not aware of being disobedient because he was living according to GOD’S instructions/ The Torah.

154 Defend my cause, and redeem me; give me life, as You promised.

The psalmist needed for GOD to reassure him that he was in GOD’S favor and for HIM to restore the joy and assurance of his relationship with GOD.

To “defend” carries the idea of breaking a contract. In this case, was the psalmist being accused of violating the covenant between GOD and Israel. The psalmist knew the charges were not true and he asked GOD to come to his defense. He did not ask HIM to “plead” his case but to “defend” him because he knew GOD would win because GOD knew him.

Redeem as used here means to “buy back.” It involves relationship. It carries the idea of GOD’S action toward HIS people. This is made clear to us today, when we realize that JESUS gave HIS life to redeem all who place their faith in HIM to redeem them from the consequence of sin.

Redemption involves a family relationship. GOD’S desire is for every human to remain a member of HIS family. Consider Revelation 3:5:

5 In the same way, the victor will be dressed in white clothes, and I will never erase (blot out) his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before My Father and before His angels.

JESUS gave HIS life in order for that to take place. Each person has the choice to either accept or reject GOD’S invitation to be redeemed from eternal death. 

Those who accept JESUS as their Savior are “made alive eternally” or as the King James Version states “quicken.” Only GOD can restore life e.g. GOD raised JESUS from the dead.

There is nothing wrong in reminding GOD of HIS promises. That is not because GOD forgets but it reveals that we know the promises of GOD and their application to us. It reminds us of HIS promises and reassures us of HIS faithfulness and ability. GOD keeps HIS promises as stated in Matthew 28:20:

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

And Hebrews 13:5:
5 Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.

And 1 John 5:5 and 13:
5 And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  

13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

And John 10:10-11:
10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.
11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

JESUS gave HIS life so that all who place their faith in HIM will live eternally. Do you want eternal life? If so, ask JESUS to forgive you for your sins and ask HIM to come into your life believing that HE gave HIS life for you that you may have life eternal. When you do a miracle takes place which is confirmed by the indwelling Holy Spirit as written in 2 Corinthians 1:20-22:

20 For every one of God's promises is "Yes" in Him. Therefore the "Amen" is also through Him for God's glory through us.

21 Now the One who confirms us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God;

22 He has also sealed us and given us the Spirit as a down payment in our hearts.

Christians are sealed with GOD’S seal and promise that they belong to HIM for eternity. That is salvation or redemption from eternal death which resulted from sin.

155 Salvation is far from the wicked because they do not seek Your statutes.
The wicked are blinded by Satan and their selfish desires, which come from the flesh or their unredeemed nature. They do not seek truth from GOD’S Word and have no desire to do so. The psalmist was reassuring himself and confessing to GOD that he had not abandoned HIS Word.

Let’s read Psalm 119:156-159:

156 Your compassions are many, Lord; give me life, according to Your judgments.

The psalmist seeks GOD’S compassion, mercies or tender mercies from the “LORD” which is the covenant name for GOD. He seeks reassurance from GOD and acknowledges GOD in terms, compassions, that a mother or father would use toward their child. This, in turn, reflects the relationship between the psalmist and GOD. The psalmist trusts GOD to give him life “according to” HIS “judgments.”

157 My persecutors and foes are many. I have not turned from Your decrees.
The psalmist looks around and sees nothing but trouble through human eyes. 

His “persecutors” carries the idea that those who are pursuing him are bent on “bringing him down.” He seems to be puzzled as to why that is happening because he has not turned from GOD’S decrees. Often, as Christians, we can get the idea that we are to have a trouble free life. Trouble can be used to build our relationship with GOD though CHRIST. But when trouble hits, it is natural for us to try to figure out why trouble is coming our way. There is nothing wrong with going before the LORD and asking HIM to examine our hearts to reveal any wrong doing in our lives.

158 I have seen the disloyal and feel disgust because they do not keep Your word.

The psalmist continued to build his case before GOD that those who do not honor HIM, disgust him. The disloyal do not keep GOD’S Word. This implies that they might have knowledge of GOD’S Word but they choose to ignore the application of GOD’S Word or from his perspective, he knows the truth and he knows they are not obedient to HIS Word and will face judgment.

159 Consider how I love Your precepts; Lord, give me life, according to Your faithful love.

The psalmist loves GOD’S Word because he had found it to be true, therefore LORD make YOUR presence known to me in the midst of this trouble. The psalmist seems to be desperate for GOD to restore or reassure him of their relationship. The psalmist seems to be searching for a reason why he does not have that relationship that he had apparently experienced earlier in his walk with GOD.

This is easy to happen and when it does Christians do search for a reason why. 

There are times when GOD seems to be away from us and that is not good. But in the words of Dr. Vance Havner, “We must practice in the dark what we learn in the light.” Often, it is in the dark that we grow Spiritually.

Let’s read Psalm 119:160:

160 The entirety of Your word is truth, and all Your righteous judgments endure forever.

The psalmist reassures himself that GOD’S Word is truth and GOD righteous judgments are eternal. These conclusions are the healing balm that is applied to his needs.

Truth is truth and never ends. If what we have thought was truth but turns out to be different, then it was not truth. Satan attempts to fill our minds with notions that sound good but are not truth. When our notions are tested they fail simply because they were not based upon truth. GOD’S truth is eternal. GOD does not leave it up to us to determine truth. HIS Word determines truth and GOD’S truth is eternal.

This has been an exciting study. My prayer is that all who have studied it have been drawn into a closer relationship with GOD through it. GOD’S Word is eternal and just as relevant today as the day it was written because the Holy Spirit gives understanding and application.

GOD’S desire is for no person to perish but for all to have eternal life and live with HIM as HIS Son or Daughter when life upon earth is over. It is our choice. I chose eternal life by placing my faith in JESUS the CHRIST. How do I know it is true? It is because it is confirmed by the indwelling Holy Spirit Who is my guarantee from GOD.

If you have not made that decision, now is your opportunity. Blessings!!!