Friday, April 29, 2011

First Thing First

Three times in the Sermon on the Mount the Lord tells us what to do first.

"First be reconciled to your brother" (Matthew 5:24). The Christian life has both horizontal and vertical responsibilities, toward God and toward men. We can not separate one from the other. If a man says he loves God, he will prove it by loving his brother. The Lord Jesus makes this clear that the gift at the alter is of no value unless our hearts are right with each other. Our religious activity might fool men, but they will never fool God. He see our heart.

"Seek first the Kingdom of God" (Matthew 6:33). This whole section has to do with worrying about things. But the Lord Jesus teaches that things cannot be at the center of our life, God must be! "All these things shall be added unto you." The things of life that we think are so important are really only additions, fringe benefits that come when we put Christ first.

"First cast out the beam out of your own eye" (Matthew 7:5). Take the two-by-four out of your own eye before trying to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Don't be harder on other people than you are on yourself. There is nothing sinful about wanting to help my brother see better providing I have 20-20 vision myself.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

3 Important Days

Day of Death (unknown) "I know not the day of my death. The wages of sin is death" (Genesis 27:2, Romans 6:23).

Day of Salvation (now) "behold now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Day of Judgement (coming) "God has appointed a day, in which He will judge the world" (Acts 17:31).

Hope for the Broken Hearted Luke 9:18-26

We want you to know that God knows exactly where you are emotionally and spiritually. He cares about you personally. He cares about men and women of all walks of life. These scriptures we’ve read tonight illustrate that. Here these verses we are introduced to two people that represent both ends of the spectrum of the human race.

The first is a man named Jairus. He was wealthy leader in the Jewish synagogue. He was a ruler, he was rich, and he was religious, but he had a serious problem. His daughter was seriously ill. She had been his joy for 12 years, now she was lying at home dying. Think how this man’s heart must have been tremendously heavy! He had heard of the Lord Jesus. He no doubt had heard how He had changed many lives. He must have sat by his daughter’s bed looking at her pale limp body. “I got to do something,” he must have thought. I am sure that this wealthy man had tried ever thing. But all the money in the bank couldn’t help! It has been said that money will buy:

A bed, but not sleep,
Books, but not brains,
Food, but not an appetite,
A house, but not a home,
Medicine, but not health,
A diamond, but not love,
Amusement, but not happiness,
A cross, but not a Savior.

This man’s daughter’s condition reminds us of the spiritual condition of every one of us. The Bible declares that every one of us is plagued with the sickness of sin. It says in the book of Romans “For all have sin and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). It also says that this sickness is a heart problem. The prophet Jeremiah diagnoses our condition when he says that, “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked who can know it?”

We are no different spiritual than this little girl was physically. But this man knew where to go for help. He came to the Lord Jesus; he fell down at His feet and begged Him to come to His house. This man had enough faith to believe that if the Lord Jesus came into his home all would be well! This man reminds us that Satan us been attacking the home since the beginning of mankind. First, he attacked the marriage when he divided Adam and Eve. Then he targeted two brothers when Cain killed Able. Ever since he wants to destroy homes. He wants to destroy your marriage, your home, but the Lord Jesus is the restorer of the broken home! Just as sickness and death broke this man’s home; maybe your home is being broken by sin. The Lord Jesus can heal every situation conquering every situation that might be facing you.

There is also another person in our portion. This women who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years. Think of it, as long as Jairus had been blessed with his little girl, this woman had been in misery. The Bible tells us that she was desperate. It informs us that she spent all she had on doctors and no one could help her. She was in a helpless situation. It is important that we note that her condition would have labeled her unclean by the rabbis and subject to the Levitical prohibitions: unable to touch others or to be touched. She was ostracized by the synagogue and orphaned by society. But what she didn’t know is that she was about to be the object of God’s mercy and grace! She probably had given up any idea of marriage or children. Think how alone she must have been! How very tired she must have been!

There are those reading this right now who feel alone, you feel tired and worn out. Like this woman you have lost all hope, you’ve tried everything and every one but you’re empty and all alone. We want you to know that Jesus knows all about you and He cares!

Notice this in both of the cases the Lord Jesus was:

1. Accessible (v41, 44) He is accessible to you right where you are. He came all the way from Heavens heights to be born of a virgin, to live a sinless life, and to die on Calvary’s cross to pay the penalty of sin, which is death. He was buried and on the third day He arose. Death could not hold. He was seen by many and then ascended up into heaven to some day return for those who have put their faith and trust in His finished work. The Lord Jesus made Himself accessible for you dear friend will you come to Him. He says to you “Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” He is not only accessible He is:

2. Available (v42 “He went with him”) The Lord Jesus is available to you this very momment. The prophet Isaiah would encourage you to, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near” (Is. 55:6). The Lord didn’t mind the interruption from the dear woman, in fact He welcomed it and He welcomes you right now!

3. Approachable (v44) we can only come to God through His beloved Son the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the way the truth and the Life no man can come unto the Father accept through me,” (Jn. 14:6). He said in another place, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved” (Jn. 10:9).

4. Awesome Power (v44-46, 55) Notice the power of God at work. In verse 48 her faith has brought her into a relationship, he calls her daughter. No longer an unnamed woman, a daughter, we get a sense of nearness. And the Lord tells this Father that was bound by fear Jairus, “Do not be afraid” (v50). What fear grips your heart? What troubles your soul? He can turn your troubles into Treasures your sorrows into Song!

5. The Lord is ready to Accept you right now!

What Christians have when we're Praying in Jesus Name

1. God the Father on His throne Sovereign over the universe, with a welcoming, countenance focused on us as His Children.

2. God the Son in His High priestly role, standing as Advocate before the throne as a Lamb that was slain with perfect righteousness and with all God’s promises purchased fully in his hand interceding for us.

3. God the Spirit within us, having already inclined us to pray, poised to guide our prayers, put to death our sins, awaken our faith, illumine God’s word, and produce His fruit.

4. The word of God open before us, inspired by God, alive with penetrating power for conviction of sin and indomitable hope, revealing the Father, the Son, and the Spirit to our souls, shaping and guiding our prayers after God’s will.

5. Our sin forgiven, but humbling us to need and love our merciful saving God.

6. God’s grace like a great rainbow of hope arcing from the throne to our soul.

7. Our will captured by these realities, moving words (or only groans) up out of our mind (or only heart) to God with praise and thanks and confession and requests.

And so much more, but let's start enjoying these things now!

Hang In There Until I Come!

1. How should Christ return encourage us during difficult days (John 16:20-22)?

2. Scan 1 Peter 1:3-9. List several things about this hope that we have because Christ
lives and is coming again?
___________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________

3. Look up each of the following verses and discuss what should we be doing while we
wait for His return?

Romans 13:11-14 ____________________________________________________

2 Corinthians 5:1-11 __________________________________________________

1 Corinthians 1:6-7____________________________________________________

Hebrews 10:24-25____________________________________________________

Philippians 3:17-21 ___________________________________________________

Titus 2:11-15 _______________________________________________________

James 5:8 __________________________________________________________

1 Peter 4:7 _________________________________________________________

1 John 2:28-3:1-3 ____________________________________________________

Revelation 22:20 ___________________________________________________

Follow Me Until I Come By Feeding My Sheep

1. What can we learn from Romans 14:13-19 about Godly care for one another? Discuss how these scriptures affect our daily lives with each other?

2. If there is real godly care for one another what other area of the Christian life should be affected according to Ephesians 4:15, 25-29 and Proverbs 18:21?

3. What does Colossians 4:6 mean? How do we practice this?

4. Thinking of how to build one another up what can we learn from 1 Corinthians14:12, 26? What is the purpose of spiritual gifts?

5. According to 1 Corinthians 8:1, what is another tool we can use to build one another up until Christ returns?

6. Read 1 Corinthians 13. Is love passive or active?

7. Why is it so important to build one another up in love according to John 13:34 and Ephesians 4:32-5:2?

8. Discuss how we can put the teaching of Romans 12:9-21 and how this would help us care for other believers until our Savior returns?

9. What can we learn from Epaphras about true godly care for one another (Colossians 4:12?

10. What did Paul mean in Acts 20:20? How will this build up the people of God? What does this mean for me?

11. What other ways can we build one another up and care for the flock of God?

Go Fishing Until I Come

How to Prepare
1. Read Matthew 4:19. What is the best preparation for sharing Christ with others?

2. In Philippians 2:14-16 what characteristics would reveal Christ and attract people?

3. According to the following verses what can you pray for those without Christ?
John 6:44___________John 16:8-9 _____________1 Timothy 2:1-4 _____________

4. How can you prepare yourself to speak for Christ (2 Timothy 2:15, 1 Peter 3:15)?

Making Contact
1. According to Matthew 9:10-12 what kind of people did Jesus associate with,
and how did He make contact with them?

2. In Acts 20:20 where did Paul meet people tp present Christ to them?

Recognizing Needs
1. Read over Mark 10:17-22. What needs did this man have? How did the Lord Jesus go
about meeting them?

Use Scriptures
1. According to Hebrews 4:12, what does the Word do? How does apply in Christ with
others?

2. What promise does Isaiah 55;11 give concerning the Word?

3. Where and with whom did Paul use the Scriptures in sharing Christ in Actss 17:1-3,
26:22?

Present Christ
1. Look at John 14:6, Acts 4:12. Why is it important to present Jesus Christ to our lost
friends?

2. Read John 3:16-18. What four points summarize the gospel? Why did God send His
son?

How to Handle Objections
1. According to 2 Timothy 2:23-26, how should you handle an antagonistic or indifferent
person?

2. What should your attitude be toward non-Christians (Colossians 4:5-6)?

3. Read John 14:7-11. Whose job is it to convince people of there sin? What is your job?

Do My Business Until I Come

In the first lecture we focused on the Parable of the Minas of Luke 19:11-27. There is a similar story told in Matthew 25:14-30. We want to look at this story in our first discussion group to see what should be some of our responsibilities as we wait for His coming.

1. Look at Matthew 25:14. Think and discuss what are some of things that the Lord entrusted to us during His absence?

2. In this parable, do all the servants have equal responsibilities (verse 15)?

3. Who determine how much each servant received? How does 1 Corinthians 4:7 apply here?

4. According to the following verses do all Christians have the same gifts and abilities? Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:11

5. What else do we learn from Matthew 25:15?

6. What are the lessons of verses 17-18?

7. Read verse 21. Discuss how the way we purpose the Lord’s business in this world affect us in a coming day.

8. Consider together what was wrong with this man’s perspective of his master in verse 24? What can we learn from it?

9. Review verses 26-28 what was wrong with what this man did or didn’t do?

10. Read Romans 12:6-8. What challenges are there for each of us?

11. How should Christ’s return affect your daily life:

a). 1 John 3:2-3 ____________________________________________________

b). Acts 1:6-9 ______________________________________________________

c). Hebrews 10:24-25 ________________________________________________

The Gospel ABC’S

Admit you’re a sinner. Everyone has done things that displease the Holy
God. No one can live up to His standards. He says no sin can enter heaven.
Something must be done to get rid of your sin.

Romans 3:21 "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Revelation 21:27 “There shall by no means enter it (heaven) anything that
defiles or causes an abomination or a lie but only those who are written in
the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

Believe that the Lord Jesus died on the cross for you. God loves you and wants you to
become His Child. He loves you so much that He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus to
shed His blood to save you from your sins. He took your place on the cross,
and suffered the punishment you deserve. Believe that He died for you, was
buried, and rose again on the third day.

1 Peter 2:24 “Who Himself (Jesus) bore our sins in His own body on the
tree (cross), that we, having died to sins might live for righteousness.”

Colosslans 1:14 “In whom (Jesus) we have redemption (salvation) through
His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

Acts 16:31 "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."

Confess
your sinfulness to God, and turn from it. Call upon Jesus to save
you—trust in Him as your Savior (Rescuer) from sin. This may be a simple
but sincere cry from your heart, or it may be expressed out loud.

Luke 1813 “God be merciful to me a sinner!"

Romans 10:9 "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in
your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Romans 10:13 "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!”

If you believe in Jesus and have placed your faith and trust in Him, God has
forgiven you. Then you, along with all the others who believe in Jesus, will
spend eternity in heaven with Him.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Joseph the Prince Genesis 41

1. How long was Joseph in prison after being forgotten by the chief butler (41:1)?

2. According to Job 33:14-18, what was God’s purposes in dreams?
V14 ______________________________________________________________
V16 ______________________________________________________________
V17______________________________________________________________
V23 ______________________________________________________________
V24 ______________________________________________________________
V24 ______________________________________________________________

3. Look at Hebrews 1:1-2 and Revelation 22:18-19. How does God speak today?

4. What did Joseph do when he was called to appear Pharaoh (verse 14)? Why do you think he did this?

5. What can we do to show respect toward others (teachers, policeman, adults)?

6. Why was Joseph given such a high place of power (verses 37-38)?

7. Read Philippians 2:6-11. What did God do for the Lord Jesus after He suffered and died?

8. What is going to happen some day (Philippians 2:9-11)?

Joseph the Prisoner Genesis 39-40

1. Looking over chapter 39, what do we read at least four times (Verses 2, 3,21,23)?

2. Compare Matthew 28:19-20 and Romans 8:35, 38-39. How do they fit in with our lesson and what do they mean to you?

3. Read Genesis 39:8-9. List at least three reason Joseph gave for not doing what was wrong.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. When we sin who does it affect?

5. Read Matthew 4:1-11. What did the Lord Jesus do when He was tempted?

6. Joseph suffered for doing what was right. According to 1 Peter 2:21-24, how and why did they did the Lord Jesus suffer?

7. What should we do when we suffer for doing what is right (1 Peter 3:13-16)?

Joseph the Dreamer Genesis 37

1. According to verse 2, what was Joseph’s occupation? Compare this with what the Lord Jesus is called in:

John 10:11-18 ______________________________________________________
Hebrews 13:20 _____________________________________________________
1 Peter 5:4 ________________________________________________________

2. Joseph’s father loved him more than his brothers. How did this make his brothers feel (verses 3-4)?

3. What are your feelings toward your brother or sister? Have you ever felt the way Joseph’s brothers did?

4. Joseph did what was right in spite of his brother’s behavior (verse 2). Should you always follow your brother or sister’s example? Why or why not?

5. Joseph’s brothers hated him because they were jealous of him. Why did people hate the Lord Jesus (John 7:7)?

6. Did they have a reason to feel that way (see John 15:24-25)?

7. In verses 14-17, Joseph obeyed his father. According to the following passages whom does God ask us to obey?

Ephesians 6:1-2 ____________________________________________________ Romans 13:1 ______________________________________________________ 1 John 5:3 _________________________________________________________

8. Why did Joseph’s dreams cause his brother’s to hate him more?

9. What do you do that bothers your brother or sister?

10. What do you think you should do about it? How can you change?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fly like an Eagle and Soar for Your Savior

Background: The eagle in scripture is an unclean bird (Lev. 11:13). It also is listed as a bird of prey in Job 9:26. The Lord Jesus Himself said in Matthew 24:28 that the eagle is an unclean bird. So the eagle as such is not a symbol of God. But certain characteristics and certain parts of the eagle are used as a reference to Deity. The prophet Ezekiel refers to the face of an eagle in his vision of God (Ezk. 1:10). The apostle John also refers to an eagle in his vision in Revelation 4:11.

Jeremiah speaks of the eagles wings as being swift (Jer. 4:13). In 2 Samuel 1:23 When David heard of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, he spoke of them as being, “swifter than eagles and stronger than lions.”

The Greek word for eagle is “aetos” which means, “to blow as the wind or to become one with the wind.” It is amazing that out of nearly ten thousand species of bird, God chose the eagle wings as the illustration of deliverance, discipline and dependence. I would like to look at these three things as they are set out for us in three passages.

I. Deliverance (Ex. 19:3-6). We see Salvation by Grace, but Salvation with a Purpose. They were in bondage in Egypt. They were slaves and on a human level there was no hope for their deliverance. God reminds them of how He delivered them. How he first delivered them by blood on that dark night when the death angel pass over Egypt in judgement. Those that had the blood applied to the doorpost were saved. God could say, “When I see the blood I will passover.” When they stood with the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptians behind them God delivered them by His power. Then He delivered them when there wasn’t any water or food. He carried them on eagle’s wings to salvation. It was out of complete grace. He was not obligated to deliver them. He heard their groaning and saw their situation and reached down in loving mercy. He brought them out on eagle’s wings and would continue to do so if they would cleave to Him. It seems in this passage that they exchange that grace for the Law. Many people do this today as well. This is unfortunate because we live in a day when God saves by grace, not by the law. What a contrast there is between law and grace.

The Law demands--------grace gives.
The Law says, “do”--------grace says “believe.”
The Law exacts---------grace bestows.
The Law says, “work”------grace says, “rest.”
The Law threatens and pronounces a curse----grace entreats, pronounces a blessing.
The Law says “Do and you shall live”----grace says “Live and you shall do.”
The Law condemns the best man----grace saves the worst man.

Just as taking your blood pressure can not cure heart trouble the law can not save anyone. Just as an x-ray doesn’t cure cancer or looking in a mirror doesn’t clean the dirt off your face. These things are diagnosis, not cures. The law is not a cure for sin, it is the diagnosis that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The wages of that sin is death, but the cure is that the gift of God is eternal life!

An old poem says, Run, run and do the law commands, but give me neither feet or hands. Better news the gospel brings. It bids me fly and gives me wings.”

The gospel brings us out on eagle’s wings, its all grace, God’s wonderful, matchless, great grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin!

II. Discipline (Deut. 32:11) This is God Supplying and providing what is needed. This is after the 40 years in the wilderness. An eagle will go to the highest point of a cleft to build its nest. Then it will lay its eggs. The eggs hatch and about 3 ½ weeks they little eagle’s are ready to venture out in the world. But they still don’t know how to fly. To help them learn to fly the mother eagle does some thing that seems cruel. First, it stirs up the nest, stirs up the little eagles. Then it destroys the nest and then the hardest thing to under stand; they push those little eagles off the cleft. This is to teach them to fly. The little eagle starts to plummet down to its sure death. But the mother eagle will swoop down and lift the little eagle up on its wings and carry it. They repeat this training process until the little eagle learns to soar in the air.

God disciplines those He saves. Discipline means, “to train.” God in His grace disciplines us. As Christians we are called to live above the valleys of this world. We are called to live above the mountain peaks of human effort. We are to be caged in some religious system of man, we’re called by grace to liberty (Jn. 8:32, 36, 2 Cor. 3:17). Have you ever seen an eagle in a cage at a zoo? It just doesn’t seem natural, an eagle is meant to fly high above the earth. The Christian is called by grace to soar high above this earth and anything man made. According to Titus 2:11-12 we are to live higher than the law could ever have taken us.

Just as the eagle breaks up the nest, from time to time our nest will have to broken up when we become too comfortable. Adam & Eve after they sinned, Abraham’s nest was broken up in Hur of the Caldeas. Moses’s nest in Egypt and David’s nest in the fields as a shepherd boy had to be broken up. James and John had a successful fishing business and Saul of Tarus had a religious nest that had to be broken up. Whether we have a family nest, a business nest or even a religious nest they may have to be broken up in order for us to move out of our comfort zone to be able to truly fly for the Lord.

The eagle would also push the young right off the cleft in order to help it fly. The Lord does this at times in order to train us (Mt. 14 is a good example of this). The eagle will soar down and lift the little up until it learns to fly on it’s own. The eagle really doesn’t fly on it’s own at all. What happens is it that it relies on the wind currents to carry it. It becomes one with the wind. This is a picture of the Christian who is empty of self, detached from this world, living on a higher plain. Soaring high of every thing, becoming one with the wind. The wind in scripture is often a picture of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4, Jn. 3:8). Just as the eagle really doesn’t fly on it’s own ability neither can the Christian fly on his or her own strength or abilities! We must depend on the guiding and strengthen power of the Holy Spirit to fill us and lead us to heights above. We are instructed to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18) and this should impact every area of our lives. It will effect the way we fly for Christ! It will determine whether we sink or soar!

III. Dependence (Is. 40:29-31). This is our Soaring with Patience & Confidence. There are at least four things that seem to characterize the eagle:

1. Soaring or quick flight, the way it soars high up in the heavens.
2. Sight or keen vision. The human being has some two hundred thousand visual receptors per square centimeter in our eyes; eagles have 1.6 million receptors per square centimeter. Eagles could read three inch high letters on a billboard one mile away, or the could see a small fish jumping out of the water five miles out to sea!
3. Powerful Scent.
4. Incredible Strength, an eagle weighing about 20 pounds would have enough strength in its talons or claws to break both of the bones in a man’s forearm by merely grasping it firmly. Surgical needles were modeled after the eagle’s claws. They are specially designed to piece flesh and not tear it.

I would like to suggest from these verses that the Lord is looking these in our lives. These four things will happen when we wait on the Lord. But before we look at the four things it might be good to ask ourselves what does it mean to wait on the Lord? The word wait here mean to “entwine ones self around.” This is when we are occupied with Him, enjoying Him, learning from and of Him. This will refresh and renewal ours lives and result in four things:

1. We will gain a New Power. We not only get refreshed, but we gain new strength. This really connects back to verse 29.
2. We get a New Perspective. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They are able to see things they never could from down here. This might speak of a believer enjoying all that the Lord has for him!
3. We receive New Provided Energy. They shall run and not be weary, This emphasizes two things:
a) The laying aside of anything and everything that would slow us down (Heb. 12:2).
b) Running not in our own energy, but in the energy of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5).
4. We will gain New Perseverance. Our determination to persevere will deepen. They shall walk and not faint. This has the idea of a constant and consistent walk for Christ. This is one who keeps on keeping on. It is those who are walking in the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5). Those who are walking in the unity, purity, love, light and wisdom of Ephesians 4-5. It is those who are walking worthy of the calling in which they have been called (Eph 4:1) and who desire to walk worthy of the Lord fulling pleasing Him (Col. 1:10).

These four things are the result of waiting on Him. It is His desire for each of us to fly like an eagle, to soar high in the heavens as believers. It has often been said, “that it is hard to fly like an eagle when your floundering with the turkeys.” May the Lord help us to look back; remembering how carried us on eagle’s wings, our deliverance and salvation. May we not resist His discipline and training when He stirs up our nests. And may we be found waiting in dependence on Him in order to fly like an eagle.

I would like to leave us with one last verse found in Proverbs 30:18-19. The sight of an eagle soaring high up in the air is too wonderful, to amazing. This mystery is as beautiful and wonderful as the Lord’s way with each of us. May He help us to fly like an eagle and to soar for our Savior for His glory.

What God says about You

If you have accepted the Lord Jesus as your Lord and Savor and are in the family of God, listen to what the Bible tells you about who you are in Christ:

You are Chosen and loved by God and therefore are loved more deeply than you can imagine! (Colossians 3:12; 1 John 3:1)

You are forgiven of sin. God will continue to restore you when you repent
(1 John 1:9)

You are at peace with God, your Father; therefore you can have peace in any situation/ (Romans 5:1, John 14:27)

You are God’s own child; therefore, you have a new family. (John 1:12, Ephesians 1:5)

You are God’s own creative work of art; therefore you can be glad and grateful for the person God has made you to be. (Ephesians 2:10)

You are a citizen of heaven; therefore, this world is not the end. I have a divine destination! (Philippians 3:20)

You are a child of light, able to please the Lord; therefore, your Father in heaven is pleased to watch you become more like the Lord Jesus.
(Ephesians 5:8-10)

You are part of a royal priesthood and a holy nation that belongs to God; therefore you can now give Him praise and shine for him here. (1 Peter 2:5, 9, Revelation 1:5)

You are reconciled to God and you have this message to share; therefore you have a valuable role to play in God’s work on earth. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

You are able to give your worries to God, because He cares about you; therefore you can rest in knowing that He will do what is best for you
(1 Peter 5:7)

God is for you and on your side, in your corner; therefore, nothing or no one can overcome the power of your Father (Romans 8:31)

God is working everything in your life for your good and for His glory: therefore, when you are confused by circumstances, you trust His loving promises. (Romans 8:28)

God has prepared good things for you to do; therefore, you have important work to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain

The story is told of King George visiting a children’s hospitable. Everybody there was so excited with much commotion and preparation! Soon that longed for day arrived; The King arrived with his entourage of people all around him. He walked through the hospital visiting every bed. After he left, little Jimmy was sitting by his bed crying. The nurse said, “What’s wrong Jimmy?” “I thought the King was coming,” he said. “But he did come Jimmy don’t you remember He came and talked with you.” That wasn’t the king, he didn’t have a crown on!”

When the Lord Jesus came the first time, people did not realize He was their He. They did not recognize Him for who He was. But when He returns to earth the second time they will recognize Him and every knee will bend and every tongue will confess that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Revelation 5:12 tells us several things that will happen when He returns:

1. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power.” He will claim the rule of this world! This word for power is dunamis from where we get our word dynamite. It suggests unhindered and unequaled power. When Satan tempted the Lord Jesus, he took Him to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. The devils said to Him. “All this power I will give to you and their glory” (Lk. 4:6). But I think it is important to see that the devil was offering Him something that really wasn’t his in the first place! In Matthew 6:13 the Lord Jesus said to His Father, “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory.”

But notice this also, Satan offered the Lord Jesus “the kingdoms” of this war torn world. The Lord Jesus had not come into this world to receive “kingdoms,” but to receive the kingdom!

Next the devil offered the Lord “glory,” the tarnished glory of this world with its empty pomp and pride. But then he offered Him “power.” But this was not dunamis, unhindered and unequalled power. What he offered Him was exousia, power subject to another power. He offered Him delegated authority. When the Lord Jesus returns He will have the all authority and power to rule this world. Those wounded hands will hold day hold the scepter!

2. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive…riches.” He will control the resources of this world. The riches of this world has never been fairly divided. Neither capitalism nor communism had given the poor a fair deal. But when the Lord Jesus returns, the wealth of this world will be placed in His hands and things will be different! There will not be poverty or the economic crisis that we see all around us today! The One who was rich and became poor for our sakes, will be given all the riches all the resource of this world!

3. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive…wisdom.” He will confound the reasoning of this world. Colossians 2:3 reminds us that “in Him are all the treasures of wisdom.” 1 Corinthians 1:30 tells us “but of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God.” When He walked here in this scene, He continually gave glimpses of His wisdom. They could say, “Never a man spoke like this man.” They said to one another in Matthew 13:54 “Where did this man get this wisdom.” The Lord Jesus could declare “a greater than Solomon is here.” Just before the Cross, the Lord said that in the last days there would be “perplexity” (Lk. 21:35). This world is searching today for a way out of the economic crisis. They are at there wits end to find a solution to the constant threat of war. They have no answer, no wisdom! But when He returns He will be the answer because He is worthy to receive wisdom!

4. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive…strength.” He will crush the rebellion of this world. One of the great titles of God in the Old Testament is “Lord of Host.” Moses declared that the Lord is a man of war” (Ex. 15:3). The Lord Jesus is going to return and when He does He will remove the usurper and claim His own. God’s plan of redemption includes both the redemption of our persons and our property. This redemption is by purchase and by power. Redemption by purchase was accomplished at the first coming of the Lord. Where He paid for the price and secured all things to Himself. When He returns He will redeem things by power. This is seen through out scripture, during His millennial reign. He will rule with a rod of Iron. His strength will be evident to all.

5. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive…honor.” He will command the respect of this world. Today this world does honor the Lord at all! His name is not honor, it is used in vain. We have a beautiful picture of this Honor that the Lord will one day receive from a world that despises him now in Esther 6. Haman the arch enemy of Mordecai the Jew was asked by King of Persia, “what shall be done to the man that the king delights to honor?” Mordecai had saved the Kings life and the king wanted to honor him, but Haman thought that he was the one the king wanted to honor, so look at what Haman says. In verse 8 he says first, prepare the man that the king delights to honor. Bring out a robe that the king has worn and the king’s crown and put it on the man and place that man on one of the king’s horses. Next you promote this man, by getting the noblest prince and have him parade this man for all to see! Then you present the man that the king delights to honor by having the prince proclaim, “Thus shall be done to the man the king delights to honor!” One day this world will give honor to the One that God delights to honor!

6. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive…glory.” He will compel the reverence of this world. The world that spit in His face, beat Him, whipped Him so that His back looked like a plowed field will be compel to give Him glory! When He stepped into this seen He veiled His own glory that He had with His Father. But there is coming a day when He will receive the glory due His name!

7. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive…blessing.” He will convert the remnant of this world. This world needs the blessing of the Lord, but it doesn’t realize it. Romans 8:22 tells us that the whole creation groans and travails. We live in a world of tears and fears! This world is plagued with wars and rumors of war, earthquakes hurricanes disasters of all kind. But when He returns blessing returns with Him!

We who have been saved by the blood of His cross will be the trophy of His grace in that coming day. But we do not have to wait for His return to enjoy these things or to give Him praise. We can declare right now, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!”

The Lamb of God

The subject of the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God is such a vast and beautiful subject. As I studied it, pondering what to share, several things came to my mine. First is, where to start and second how can I do justice to this great subject? We are really on such Holy ground. But with the Lord’s help I would like to share a few thoughts.

These verses in John 1:29-42 are the first of five pictures of the death of the Lord Jesus in the gospel of John. John 1:29 indicates that His death would be that of a substitute for sinners. In John 2:19 the destruction of the temple pictures His violent death ending in the victory of the resurrection. John 3:14 the serpent lifted up refers to the fact that the Savior would be made sin for us. John10:11-18, the Shepherd laying down His life for the sheep emphasizes that His death was a voluntary act based on love. Lastly, John 12:20-25 planting of the seed teaches us that His death would produce fruit to the glory of God.

This title “the Lamb of God” is the first of seven titles given in this chapter. The rest include Son of God, Messiah, King of Israel, Son of Man, Rabbi and Jesus of Nazareth.

I think it is interesting to see that out of all the books of the Bible, only in two is the Lord Jesus specifically called “Lamb of God,” and both times they are written by the same man, the apostle John. It is mentioned twice here in John and in Revelation. In the book of Revelation there are at least 28 references to the Lamb of God! More than any place else in the New Testament!

Concerning the Lamb, we see throughout the Scripture the strand of redemption is weaved all the way from Genesis to Revelation. The very first actual mention of the Lamb goes all the back to Genesis 4 when Abel offered to God the firstborn of His flock and God accepted it. It is very likely though, that it was the blood of a lamb that was shed in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve sinned against a Holy and righteous God and tried to hide themselves from Him. While hiding they tried to cloth themselves with fig leaves, which reminds us that our own works can not satisfy God. He shed the blood of an innocent animal and clothed them with its skin, again reminding us that we are now clothed in the righteousness of Christ!

Turning to Genesis 22, we read of a beautiful picture that is painted so vividly for us. There we see Abraham told by the Lord to go to Mt. Moriah and offer up his only son Isaac as a burnt offering to God. We all know this story of love and obedience. In fact it is the first place in scripture where worship, love and obedience are mentioned. We are reminded how the father and son went together. Isaac carried the wood and Abraham the fire and knife. We all remember reading of Isaac asking that all important question, “where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answering, “My son God will provide Himself the Lamb.” Notice he did not say a lamb, but the Lamb. Abraham might not have realized it, but God was looking down through the corridors of time to a specific Lamb that He had provided for Himself. The One in whom Revelation 13::8 speaks of as “the Lamb slain before the foundation on the world.” The Lamb that would satisfy is righteous demand and would bring pleasure to His Holy heart! As Abraham held up the knife, ready to plunge it into his son, God called out, “Abraham, Abraham, do not lay your hand on the lad.” Caught in the thicket by its horns was a ram, which is offered in Isaac’s place.

The Passover Lamb of Exodus 12 is another beautiful type of the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God. Judgment was about to fall on all of Egypt and they were instructed to take a lamb without blemish or spot and kill it. Then they were to take its blood and place it on the door post and all on the inside of the house would be saved! God had declared, “When I see the blood I will pass over!” We read in 1 Peter 1:19 that, “we are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” The Lord Jesus, God’s Lamb was without sin, He knew no sin, He did no sin and there was no sin in Him. He was without blemish and without spot!

We are redeemed by the Lamb of God, but at what price? We have a glimpse of what he suffered in Isaiah 53:1-7. In verses 4-6 there are at least ten different expressions that are used that show some of the suffering of the Lord Jesus! Look at verse seven and remember how the Lord Jesus was silent before Caiaphas (Mt. 26:62-63), before the chief priests (Mt. 27:12), before Pilate (Mt. 27:14), before Herod (Lk. 23:9), and when the soldiers beat Him he didn’t speak (1 Pt. 2:21-23). As we read this chapter it ought to cause us to give praise to the Lamb of God!

Look back in John 1:36. I think it is significant to see how attractive the Lord Jesus is as the Lamb of God filled and led by the Holy Spirit. The way John writes it here we see the Holy Spirit descending upon the Lord Jesus and remaining on Him. Then on the next day John sees Him walking and describes Him as “the Lamb of God.” This time not as the One who takes away the sin of the world, but as the Lamb of God. God’s Lamb filled and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. John was so attracted by this sight that he would use five words to describe Him, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Even in the Greek it is five words. Five words were enough; even Paul would speak about using five words with understanding. John’s disciples understood those five words and were attracted to the beauty of Lamb and left John to follow the Lamb.

When we are captivated by His beauty, this will lead to us being overwhelmed with a new song in our hearts! This is what we read of in Revelation 5:1-10. Here we see the Lamb as though He had been freshly slain. Those wounds that He bares are not scares that have healed over. They are wounds that are fresh and for all eternity the value of that work and the worth of the Lamb will be seen!

Let’s turn to Revelation 19:1-10, here we see that wonderful day that await us, the marriage of the Lamb. It will be a wonderful day for us, but think what it will be for the Lord Jesus, The One who “loved the Church and gave Himself for her.” This will be that day that “He presents her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she will be without blemish!” The church, the Lamb’s wife will take on the character of the Lamb! No wonder the apostle Paul wrote, “I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:2). Oh that we might make our selves ready, that we might be dressed “in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Notice that the real occupation at this wedding is not the Bride, but it is the Lamb! As the hymn writer says, “The Bride eyes not her garment, but her dear bridegrooms face! We will be occupied with Him!

Let’s close by looking at Revelation 21:22-23. Here we have a vision of the Holy City. We are privileged to see a glimpse of the Lamb that takes us beyond time into eternity. There is no need for light there for the Lamb is its light. The glory of His person will radiate and illuminate the city. The glory of God in all it’s fullness will be seen in that blessed Lamb of God!

But beloved, we do not have to wait to start appreciating His beauty and glory! As we behold the Lamb of God, “ we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the same Spirit of the Lord.” “For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

And as we behold him, may our hearts response be “even so come, Lord Jesus!”

Road Signs to Follow God’s Will

As we travel down the highway of life, we have a road map called the Word of God the Bible. He has given us many roads signs along the way to help us know His will and follow His direction. Let’s look at a few road signs that we must see to follow God’s will for our lives.

The first road sign is recognizing that God has a will for your life. It’s a very real thing we see throughout the Bible.
Psalm 37:23 tells us that “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delights in his way.” Proverbs 3:6 reminds us “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

We can’t know all the details of God’s will for our lives, but we can know one thing: God does have a plan for your life! It’s a divine blueprint of you and your life, crafted by the One who designed the universe w/out any plans!

What a powerful and captivating thought, that God care and want to be involved in every aspect of my life! Matthew 10:29 points out “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. A sparrow is so insignificant, and yet God has a plan for each of them! How much more with us?!

Remember that encouraging song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” and remember He’s watching you, to!

The second road sign is that you must resolve in advance that once you know His will, you will do it. On the Damascus road, Paul [then Saul] asked God the 2 most important questions any of us can ask: “Who are you Lord?” & “What do you want me to do?”

You are bought with a price, and ye are not your own! If you’re saved then you are God’s, you are God’s twice: You are God’s by virtue of creation and again by virtue of redemption. He made you, you rebelled, became lost in sin, and He bought you back!

Don’t approach God’s will like a big buffet, taking which parts you like and leaving what you don’t! Decide in advance that you trust Him who is trustworthy. God does not reveal His will to us so that we may consider it! You’ll never know God’s will for your life if you have this attitude. God reveals His will to those He knows will obey it! “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17)

Being willing comes first, before the “doing.” Why is this? I believe that sometimes if we knew what God had ahead for us it would scare us, we wouldn’t be ready to accept that He could really do such great things through us.

Our God is not some evil personality/'cosmic killjoy' whose goal is to make you miserable, He loves you, and has a wonderful plan, and wants you to know it. He’s not masking it mysteriously, if you want to know it. The safest place to be on this road called life is the middle of God’s will!

The third road sign for us to follow we’ll call revelation. When we walk in what light we’ve been given, God gives us more light. Some people don’t know God’s will for their future because they’re not doing God’s will right now! Why should He reveal His will about tomorrow if you’re not obeying Him today? He said, “If you’re faithful in least then you’ll be faithful in much!” The way to know God’s will tomorrow is to do His will today!

As your driving down the a dark road at night, the headlights on your car only shine a little ways, but guess what, once you travel that far, they reveal further down the road for you! As you move down this road of life follow Him one road sign at a time!

My Role in Understanding God’s Will

Read Romans 12:1-2 We usually look at this passage and talk about surrender...but surrender to what? The will of God in the end of v. 2! Or we talk about separation...but separation unto what? The will of God! And that should be the greatest desire of our hearts: to know and to do the will of God! Good news: God isn't playing keep a way with His will, and it isn't far off or hard to find.

1. We need to seek the will of God
God wants us to know His will even more than we want to know it. He said, “Seek and ye shall find,” “seek me early and ye shall find me,” “draw nigh to Me and I will draw nigh to you.”

We need to seek God’s will in whom we marry/where we go to college and what we do with our lives. Your life it not your life, you belong to God, don’t settle for less than God’s best…seek His perfect will for your life! How by seeking Him! Get close to Him and His will for you will be revealed in His timing.

We all should seek His will for all decisions, big and small. As we draw near to Him, we learn to trust Him in the little things and the big things.

2. We need to surrender to the will of God
Eph. 6:6 reminds us that we should serve, “Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart”.

The Lord Jesus is the very epitome of this. He knew God’s will for the end of His life, and in the garden of Gethsemane, He surrendered to that which would not be pleasant for His human nature. “Not my will, but yours be done!” he prayed.

3. We need to stand in the will of God
Colossians 4:12 challenges us “that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”

Once we know His will, we need to surrender to it, and then stand firm in it, not drifting to the right or the left.
God loves us more than we love ourselves. He knows of greater possibilities and more success that we could achieve, if only we’ll seek and follow His plan!

God is more qualified to plot a course for our lives than we are. Just imagine the advantage you’d have if you hand crafted a person to your own design, and knew exactly what lay ahead for them throughout every moment of their future!

How to Know the Will of God

"What is God's will for my life?" This is a question that many of us have asked at one time or another. Some people will say that they are looking for the will of God, searching for the will of God, or trying to find the will of God. This causes us to ask "Is God's will lost?" Has He placed His will in some obscure place, making it hard to find or could it be that we are the ones who have complicated this subject. Is the will of God a mystery or is it something that each of us can learn and follow. These verses here in Acts 9 and the conversion of Saul of Tarus help shed some liht on this very subject.

The first thing that stands out is the question of God's will is not the first question Saul asked. His first question when struck down by that great light is "Who are YOU Lord?" I think the lesson here is very important. We must know the Lord personally and intimately before we can ever learn what He wants us to do! Recently it was brought to my attention that the verse in Jeremiah 29:11 that reads, "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope," usaully when that verse is quoted or put on a plack the part that is missing is the "says the LORD." The part that emphasizes the LORD, Jehovah, the God of relationships. The One who is so interested in each one of us and in our futures. He is more concern about our marriage partner than we are, and of our shcooling or employement. So the first question we should ask, the first thing we ought to pursue is who is God!

In Jeremiah 9:23-24 the Lord reminds us "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me. That I am the Lord, excercising loving kindness, judgement and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight, says the LORD." The Lord desires for us to know Him! We can never completely understand or even know Him fully, but His desire is for us to know His character, to know what He is like. He desires to reveal Himself to each one of His servants. Moses experience this in Exodus 33-34, when he asked to see God's glory. The LORD said, I will make all My goodness pass before you and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you...But He said, You can not see my face, for no man shall see me and live." So He placed Moses in the cleft of the rock to protect him from His glory. As the LORD passed by Moses learn the very character of God for the LORD proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving inquity and transgressions and sin, by no means clearing the guilty..." Learning the character of the LORD caused Moses to worship His God! But it is not only had a vertical affect it also had a horizontal impact on his attitude toward the people of God!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Following the Leader Matthew 4:18-22

I'm sure that most of us have played follow the leader as children. What ever the leader does you imatate him. The winner was the one who was so committed that he did exactly what the leader did. In away, that is what being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is like. Keeping our eyes fixed on the Leader "looking off unto Jesus..." True Discipleship is uncompromised comittment to being a follower of the Lord Jesus. There are many voices that call us to follow them, the voice of success in business, the voice of popularity, the voice of this world trying to squeeze us into its mold (Rom. 12:1-2) and rob our affection from Christ. So we need to take a close look at this portion to discover several things about discipleship.

I.What does it mean to be a Follower of Christ? The word that is often used for following Christ means "to embrace personally and intimately the intellect, moral and religious realities of the one we are following" Sometimes the word is translated imatater. To be a follower of Christ is to earnstly seek to be like Him, to think like Him, to act like Him. Our thoughts, our talents our abilities, our temperment every area of our lives will be affected. Following Him is to model Christ likeness. This was the experience of the followers of the Lord Jesus. In Acts 4:13 we read that even though they were unlearned men they could tell that they had been with Jesus. In Acts 11:16 this was so much the case that the world nicked named them "Christians." They were so successful at inmitating the Lord Jesus that the world said they were "little Christ" or "Christlike." The Lord is looking for faithful followers, men and women that will be usable, not simply visible. Following Christ means that we have our eyes on Christ not on the crowd! Pater failed as a follower when he took his eyes off of the Lord during the Struggle of a Storm (Matt. 14), the Scoffing of a little girl, and even Sweet Restoration (John 21).

The Greek word also has the thought of "walking on the road or path with Him." The road that He walked was a narrow road compared.The road that He challenges us as His followers to walk with Him on is also a narrow road. In Matthew 7:13-14 the Lord speaks about this narrow road of disipleship. He told His followers "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who dind it."

II. What does it mean to Follow Christ? Lets look at these verse in Matthew 4:18-22 again in four ways. Context, culture, Christ like mission and Condition He requires.

1. Context: Since the greek word for follow means to "walk on the road or path with Him." We need to see that He is the pathmaker. He blazes the trail for us to follow. The Lord said, "Iam the way the truth and the life no man come unto the Father but by me" (John 14:6). The Lord is actual seen four time as the pathmaker, as the one who blazes the trail (Acts 3:15, 5:31, Heb. 2:10, 12:2). He is the Prince of life, the oringinator. The one who has gone before and made the way clear. The one we are to keep our eyes on and follow as our captain or our leader. Following Him in faith, following Him in finances, following Him with our family and friends. In every area of our lives we are to follow Him, to be found on His path, not on the worlds path which is broads.

2. Culture: The second thing that is that in the culture of the day they followed Him as dedicated learners. In that day people would follow a teacher or a rabbi for a four fold purpose: They had a longing to know God and to understand the ways of God so that they could replecate the ways of God through their lives in order to bring pleasure to God. They were driven by this longing that they would attach themselve to someone who had Mastered these things. This attached was a very radical step. They stayed with the teacher, all day long where he went they would go. What he did they would do. They what watche him closely and learned from his actions and attitudes. They served the teacher, waiting on him hand and foot. They surrendered their own will, body and mind to the teacher.

3. Christ like Mission: The Lord Jesus revealed that His mission was to reveal the Father (John 1:14, 14:9. As the Master He had a mission for His disciples to follow, "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men."

4. Condition Required: They couldn't stay where they were and be a follower of Christ. Notice He said "Follow Me." We can't stay where we are spiritually and be a follower of Christ either. Peter and John left their way nets, which was their way of income to follow Him. James and John left their father and his business and boats. The point here for us is not so much that we have to leave our employeement as much as it is that we need to follow Him. We are to continuely follow after Him growing in His grace, growing in knowledge of Him. This take absolute surrender to the purpose of following Him. They had to leave it all. They had to make a comittment and surrender their heart and follow Christ! That is the only way they were able to turn their wold upside down as followers of Jesus Christ!

Demands of Discipleship

Discovering what Characterizes those who follow Chirst

Most of us have sat with other Christians and sang that well known hymn, "When I Survey the Wonderous Cross." This is a tremendous hymn of commitment and dedication. I wonder how many times we have sung it without really comprehinding the statement we were making. Look at the words below:

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it Lord, that I should boast, save in the cross of Christ my God:
All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down:
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, or throwns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.


Focus your attention again on the last line of the hymn, "Love so amazing so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all." This is the theme of this series of studies, what are the demands of discipleship, meaning what does it really mean to follow after Christ?

It is probally well to mention here in the introduction that there are six names given in the Word of God to describe the people of God. People who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior are called Christians, Believers, brethren, sons or children of God, saints, and disciples. These names are common to all believers and are not sectarian in anyway. But what is interesting is that outside of the four gospels and the book of Acts, the word "disciple" is not found. When we analyze the other five terms used we can understand why the word "disciple" is not found. But the concept of discipleship is found throughout the New Testament.

Christians
The word Christian occurs three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26, 26:28, and 1 Peter 4:16). It has certaintly lost much of its meaning today, because many people who are not Muslims, Buddhists, Jews or athesists call themselves "Christian." But the word actually has the thought of "a little Christ" or "Christlike." Many groups of believers have adopted the name of their leader and founder as a means of identifying their beliefs and teachings. But as Christians we really do not need to take any other name than the all sufficient name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Saints
This name is often used by the apostle Paul. It simply means, "those that are set apart." It is used to denote God's holiness and how we, as those who have believed on Jesus Christ have been justified (Romans 5:1) are now to live lives that are in keeping with the position that He has brought us into (1 Peter 1:15-16).

Believers
This is the term used for those that have put their personal trust in the finished work of Christ for their eternal salvation (John 3:16, 36, 5:24).



Sons or Children of God
Christians are often called, "children of God" and "sons of God." These terms are not synonmous, they are very distinct. There are actually five different greek words used to illustrate the various stages of growth of the members of God's family. Together these words depict the whole story of our spiritual life: birth, infancy, childhood, young adulthood, and maturity.But while that is true on the one hand, it is also important to understand that while we might be seen at "spiritual birth" as a child of God, we are also seen to be a "son of God." As a child we are introduce into the family of God. But the status of sonship implies dignity, heirship and spiritual blessing. Both are true of every born again Christian (Romans 8:12-17, Galatians 4:4-7).

Brethren
In the New Testament, believers are also called "brethren." In fact this is the most common term used for those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. In a world of hate and disuntiy it is a term that speaks of oneness and family.

Disciple
A disciple is a learner, a follower, or a student. Throughout scripture we read of disciples of John the baptist, disciples of Moses, even disciples of the Law. There are many who followed prominent men of the day and they were called there disciples.

In the light of these other five terms and what they mean for us, we have been brought into so more than simply followers or students. I believe that is why the actual word "disciple" isn't used in the rest of the New Testament. But we have to say, that as long as we are left here in this world we are in the school of God and are still to be learners at the feet of our Master. The early followers of Christ were called to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). The principle of discipleship is still very valid. Paul told Timothy, "the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, committ these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2). It has often been pointed out that in this one verse there are four generations of Christians. Paul discipled Timothy, Timothy was to disciple others, who would turn around and disciple others. This teaching ought to apply to every one of us who follow after the Lord Jesus Christ. Who around us can we help grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ?

Lesson from the Life of Peter (Part Two)

III. Peter’s Failure (Luke 22:54-62) This passages is often used to encourage us not to follow the Lord at a distance. But when we examine the Gospels we learn that they really weren’t suppose to be following at all (Mt. 26:31, Mk. 14:27, Jn. 18:8). Most of the disciples scattered, but Peter followed right to the high priest’s courtyard, where he denied his Lord three times. Peter was not the blessed man described in Psalm 1, because he walked in the counsel of the ungodly (Jn. 18:18). Then he sat with the scornful by the fire (Lk. 22:61). When we combine all the gospel accounts together what do we find?

Mark tells us that the rooster crowed twice (Mk. 14:72), so Peter ignore the first warning crow of the rooster. After Peter had denied the Lord the third time, the rooster crowed again. At that moment, Lk. 22:61 says that the Lord turned and looked at Peter. This is the same word that is used back in Jn. 1:42. It was a tender, penetrating look that went right to Peter’s conscience and heart! There are at least three lessons for us in the crowing of the rooster and Peter’s failure:

1. Reassurance: That Jesus is Lord! No matter how discouraging things are around us, or even how bad we hurt on the inside, our Savior is still Lord of all! Think of it, He kept every other rooster from crowing that night, and He commanded one rooster to crow on cue! This would have reminded Peter of the tax money in the fish’s mouth, or the fish that broke his nets. We some times sing, “Be still my soul; the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt here below. This should provide us with great reassurance as it might have for Peter.

2. Repentance: You can be Forgiven! The Lord Jesus had told Peter that, “Simon, Simon, Satan desires to sift them as wheat, but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Lk. 22:31-32). Notice three times his old name is mentioned there. As if to warn him that the old Simon, the old man will try to take over from time to time. Peter needed to be on guard. Early that same night he had resisted the word of the Lord and here he is seen remembering the Word of the Lord. Resisting His Word in our lives will drive us farther and farther away, but remembering His word and obeying it will lead to repentance!

3. Renaissance: It’s the Beginning of a Fresh Start for Peter! When a rooster crows every morning, it says that a new day is dawning and that a fresh start is beginning. That is the message to Peter. No matter how bad yesterday was today can be a clean slate, if there is repentance! We know that Peter did repent and was forgiven. The Lord met him privately on the first day of the week and restored him privately. Then latter He restored Peter publicly in John21.

IV. Peter’s Future
Let’s turn to John 21. Peter is mentioned at least 13 times in this chapter, so the focus is definitely on him and his Lord. Peter meeting the Lord here would help Peter with His past and prepare him for his future. There are at least 5 lessons we can learn here:

1. He Remember His Call to Discipleship (Jn. 21:1-11). Peter found himself watching a repeat of when the Lord called him to be a disciple. This stirred up Peter’s memory and it is interesting that in 2 Peter 1:12-15 he says that he wrote them in order to stir up their memories. The Lord uses our past and present to prepare us for the future. He also will not let us forget the commitments we have made to Him.

2. Peter remember His Confession of Christ (Jn. 21:9, 12-14). Seeing the bread and fish might have caused him to remember the feeding of the 5000 in John 6. There the 5 barley loaves of bread an two small fish served as a great object lesson for message the Lord would give as to Himself being the Bread of Life! When many left the Lord because what He was saying was to hard for them to digest, He ask the disciple if they too wanted to leave. Peter confessed, Lord to whom shall we go? You have the wards of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter had already made a similar confession in Mt. 16:16.

3. Peter Remembered His Denial of Christ (Jn. 21:9). Peter had denied the Lord by the world’s fire (Jn.18:18). Peter was cold and fire is a source of heat. It also seemed to be a place of safety at the moment. But Peter found the world’s fire to be a place of cold distance from the Lord with no safety at all. But the Lord brings him back to the place of departure where full restoration can be enjoyed.

4. Peter Remembered His Boast of Love (Jn.21:15-17). Peter had said that even if every one else left, even if he had to die, he would not disown the Lord (Mt. 26:33,35). Here the Lord challenges Peter’s love for Him. Peter had denied Him 3 times and 3 time the Lord says, “Do you love me?” There are two very important things that flow out of this. First, the most important requirement for any service for God is a deep love for Him! Secondly, a love for His people. If we don’t have a real genuine love for Him and for the ones we serve our service will not be affective! Peter picks up on this love in his letters calling his reading beloved brethren, speaking much about the brotherhood and shepherding the sheep.

5. Peter Remembered His Opposition to the Cross (Jn. 21:18-19). Back in Mt. 16:21-28, right after Peter’s confession, “You are the Son of the living God,” Peter opposed the idea of the Lord going to the cross. Satan had tried to get the Lord to take a short cut back in Mt. 4. Now he is working through Peter. Peter had to learn that before glory comes suffering. Peter learn that lesson and much of the theme of 1 Peter is about suffering. Also the Lord referred to Peter’s death in Jn. 21 and Peter refers to it again in 2 Peter 1:12-15.

All of these things would remind Peter and us that the memories of past events and even past failures don’t have to be anchors that hold us back, but they can act as rudders to guide us in the future.

Lessons from the Life of Peter (Part One)

Peter went from being Sand to A Stone. His life is much like a roller coast with a lot of ups and downs, twist and turns. Some have said his life resembled a yo-yo, going up and down all the time.

I. Peter the Fishermen
1. Peter’s Background:
* He was born in Bethsaida (“House of fishing”) in Galilee (Jn. 1:44)
* He probably was named after Jacob & Leah’s second son, Simeon (Simon in GK)
* He was married & lived in Caperneum, where he ran a fishing business with his brother Andrew and his partners James and John (Lk. 5:9-10).
* His Mother-in-law lived with him and it seems his brother Andrew did too (Mk. 1:29-31).
* Peter and his wife kept a kosher home (Acts 10:14), but he latter confessed that keeping Jewish law was like wearing a yoke (Acts 15:10).

The fact that he was a Jew meant that he believed in the true and living God and accepted the Holy Scriptures as God’s authoritative Word. He believed in the promise of the coming Messiah. He was a hard working fisherman that didn’t seem to quit when things got tough. In fact seven out of twelve disciples were fishermen. The Lord picked hard working people who got the job done. Looking at Peter life gives each of us hope. John was the apostle of love, Paul the apostle of faith, and Peter the apostle of hope.

2. A New Beginning
As a Jew Peter would have heard of Mal. 4:5-6, and when they heard John the Baptist speak they became followers of His. In fact it would seem from Acts 1:21-22 that they were baptized by John. It wasn’t until latter that they realize how great a prophet he was (Mtt. 11:9,11). But John the Baptist purpose was to prepare the way for the Messiah and point men to the Lamb of God. As Jews they would have been very familiar with the Passover lambs. But John was pointing them to something different. This Lamb was sent by God, not chosen by a priest, this Lamb’s blood would take away sin, not just cover it. This Lamb was given for the whole world, not only for the Jewish nation. This was a new beginning for them.

3. A New Name
The first thing Andrew does after he met the Lord was to go find his brother. People come to Christ many different ways, some through the hearing a message, (like Andrew and John), some from reading a tract. But one of the most effective ways is through a one on one personal contact. From a satisfied customer, saying like the women at the well, “Come and see a Man!” Andrew had found something so precious to Him, that he shared it with his brother. He could have kept this from Peter, but didn’t. In fact wherever we see Andrew, he is always bringing someone to the Lord:

a). His own brother, Peter (Jn. 1:41-42).
b). The little boy with the lunch (Jn. 6:8-9).
c). The Gentiles who wanted to see Jesus (Jn. 12:20-22).

We never read of any sermons from Andrew, his life was the sermon. He was faithful in sharing Christ to those that cross his path.

When Peter was introduced to the Lord Jesus, “Jesus looked at him” (Jn.1:42). This word means that Jesus fixed His eyes on Peter with a penetrating gaze, looking not only at his face, but also into his heart. (This same word is used again latter in Lk. 22:61). It was at this point that the Lord Jesus changed Peter’s name from Simon to Cephas which is Aramaic for “rock,” the Greek form is Peter. This new name signaled a new beginning in his life. His new name meant “stone.” Think of how long it takes a stone to be formed. It starts out as a grand of sand and it takes a good deal of heat and pressure to produces a solid stone. It took nearly three years of friendship, prayer and discipleship for the Lord to make Peter into this stone. It took many ups and downs, many failures and successes. The Lord accomplished this work in Peter and latter he is called a pillar in the early church (Gal. 2:9). There were many times when Peter was impulsive (Jn. 18:10-11) and even inconsistent (Mtt. 16:13-23), but the Lord had begun a work in him and did complete that work (Phil. 1:6, 2:13). The Bible talks much about those who made mistakes along the way, but God used them and finished the work he started in them and accomplished much through them (Phil. 4:13).


II. Peter, the Fisher of Men: A New Life
Peter’s new name pointed to his new life in Christ. This new life began when he trusted Jesus. Peter described this new life in 1 Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Physical Life comes from physical birth and spiritual life comes from a new spiritual birth. We have a living relationship with a living Christ through the living Word. 1 Pet. 1:23 says, “Having been born again, not of corruption seed but incorruption, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.” Peter came to the Lord Jesus as to a Living stone and the Lord use him for his glory. We might say, “But that was Peter, he was special, he was a rock.” He wrote about all believers, “You also, as living stones, being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood,” 1 Pet. 2:5 Peter was not perfect. He often failed in many ways. I think this is one reason Peter is mentioned so many times in scripture. The Apostle Paul’s name is mentioned about 162 times in the New Testament. Peter’s name is mentioned approximately 210 times and all the others apostles names are only mentioned 142 times all together. I don’t think this is because of importance. But I do think it might have something to do with the fact that we can identify with Peter, with his ups and downs.

Who Is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is God
1. He is called God Acts 5:3-4

2. He does work that only God can do
• Involved in Creation Genesis 1:2, Job 26:13, Genesis 2:7, Job 33:4
• Involved in spiritual birth, which is a work of God John 1:12-13 John 3:5

3. He possesses Divine attributes, He is:
• Eternal Hebrews 9:14
• Omnipresent (Every where at once) Psalm 139:7-10
• Omniscience (All knowing) 1 Corinthians 2:11
• Omnipotent (All powerful) Romans 8:11

4. He is Equal with God the Father
Matthew 28:19, 2 Corinthians 13:14

The Holy Spirit is a Person
1. Personal pronouns are used when referring to the Holy Spirit John 14:16, 17, 16:7-15

2. He possesses intelligence 1 Corinthians 2:10-13, Romans 8:27, Ephesians 1:17, Isaiah 11:2

3. He has a will 1 Corinthians 12:11, 2 Peter 1:20, 21, Acts 16:6-11

4. He displays emotion
• He can be grieved Ephesians 4:30
• He wars against the flesh Romans 5:5
• He yearns jealously James 4:5

5. He can be insulted Hebrews 10:29

6. He can be resisted Acts 7:51

7. He performs the Activities of a person
• The Spirit teaches John 14:26
• The Spirit testifies John 15:26, Romans 8:16
• The Spirit guides John 16:13, Romans 8:14
• The Spirit convinces John 16:7-8
• The Spirit restrains Genesis 6:3, 2 Thessalonians 2:7
• The Spirit commands and directs Acts 8:29
• The Spirit calls and sends forth for special service Acts 13:2-4
• The Spirit intercedes Romans 8:26

The Symbols of the Holy Spirit in Scripture

1. The symbol of fire Acts 2:3-4, Matthew 3:11-12

2. The symbol of a dove Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, John 1:32

3. The symbol of wind Acts 2:2

4. The symbol of water John 7:2, 14

5. The symbol of clothing Luke 24:49

6. The symbol of oil Acts 10:38, Isaiah 61:1, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 1 John 2:20

7. The symbol of a guarantee Ephesians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5

Summary of the symbols and their meaning

1. Fire: symbolizing His power and purification.

2. Dove: symbolizing His purity and peacefulness.

3. Wind: symbolizing His power, sovereignty and invisible work.

4. Water: symbolizing the gift of eternal life.

5. Clothing: symbolizing the power of witness.

6. Oil: symbolizing God’s approval and choice.

7. Guarantee: symbolizing His ownership and our security

Practicing Purity

How do we stay morally pure with so many things coming at us everyday? What specific things can we do to practice moral purity. Three of those are things:

First, watch the crowd we hang out with. Choose our friends wisely (see Proverbs 13:20).

Second, guard what we put into our minds from books, movies, and music (see Psalm 101:3, Proverbs 6:27).

Lastly, control our thought life (see Proverbs 23:7, Philippians 4:8). The thought is the father of the deed. Someone has well said, "We cannot keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from making a nest in our hair." Paul challenges us to bring every thought into captivity “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).


Walk with the Lord daily. Guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23, Ephesians 5:3-5). Make a covenant with your eyes (Job 31:1). Set a guard over your lips (Psalm 141:3) Take charge of your thought life: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Monday, April 4, 2011

David's Five Stones

We all know this story of David and Goliath…how God used a brave young man full of faith to face a huge hulk of a human for God and His people, Israel. With sling in hand, he chose 5 smooth stones from a brook. God guided his hand and the stone right between the eyes of the giant who fell flat.

David is not the only person to come up against a giant. All believers will find themselves face to face with big challenges. Fear or faith takes over. FEAR stands for Faithless Energy And Retreat, While FAITH stand for Forsaking All I Trust Him.

Notice the Philistines had invaded the Israelite territory, “which belonged to Judah” (1 Sam. 17:1). Goliath stood and defied the army of God, and they are huddled together, frightened, and did not attempt to do anything to eliminate him.

Satan stands before the local church today and defies the living Savior and His church, and the people are, for the most part, huddled down and frightened to do anything about it. People who are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and commissioned by God look on helplessly as their church dwindles and hope slowly fades. Goliath stands challenging someone to defend the name of God, and the church seems indifferent against such a belligerent foe.

Paul says in "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph 6:12). The enemy is all around us today. We are faced with Goliaths from every angle. We have been given weapons and ammo that will kill any giant that stands before us, thus, we must use what God has given us.

David reached down into the brook, picked up five smooth stones and then proceeded to kill the giant. Let’s look at those stones for a few moments. I believe he took 5 because scripture says there were 4 other giants in the land (2 Sam. 21:19, 22, 1 Chron. 20:5). But I’d like to spiritualize these stones a bit. Let’s make each represent something that the Bible says David already possessed anyway.

The First Stone could represent:

I. THE SPIRIT OF GOD

The Spirit Of The Lord Came Upon David. (1 Sam 16:13) "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah."

Without the power of the Spirit we will settle for a substitute. We will accept bodies (or numbers) rather than souls; activity rather than spirituality. Without God’s Spirit, we are helpless in our own strength.

David was empowered by the Spirit of God. Scripture says that real spiritual success is “...Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts" (Zec 4:6).

The flesh is no match for the Goliaths in life. Christianity has become more occupied with the strategy of the enemy than with the power of God. We are more occupied with the things of this life than the things of our future life and eternity. We are more involved with pleasures of the social, athletic, and financial society than with things of God.

Our thoughts seem to be more on the fact that Goliath is out there, rather than how to defeat him. It seems we spend more time studying his armor and trying to duplicate it rather than studying the secret of David’s sling and stone. This battle will not be won by the flesh. We must be filled with the Spirit of God and trust in it to get the job done. And we must do the little jobs as though they were big jobs and when the big job comes, God will let us do it as though it were a little job. Attempt great things for God, and expect great things FROM God!

David was a sheep herder, but he became a giant killer.







The first stone is the Spirit of God…the second stone could represent:

II. PAST EXPERIENCE (1 Samuel 17:32-37)

This is very important in the success that you want to accomplish. David Had Proven The Power Of God In His Past Life. Some of us have had great victories in the past, but today we might stand on the brink of defeat.

David Knew That Victory Could Be Won. He was not fearful of the armor or the size of Goliath. He had faced giant sized enemies before, a bear and a lion.

When Jesus faced Satan on the Cross of Calvary it wasn’t the first time He had been face to face with the Devil. He had already defeated him before in the wilderness of temptation.

Think back to that great event in your past when you knew God had really worked on your behalf. God can do it again.

A lion had taken a lamb from the flock and David slew the lion and retrieved the lamb.

The devil is a roaring lion, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet 5:8).

Jesus defeated Satan on the Cross. Satan is a defeated foe.

The reason David was so sure of victory was that he had gone to the well of Divine strength before and had proven it was sufficient.

The Spirit of God, past experience, and the 3rd stone could be…

III. THE WORD OF GOD (1 Samuel 17:45-47

Where Do You Suppose That David Got This Confidence?
It was on a hillside while caring for the sheep. He was alone with God. The Psalms will bear this truth. "Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction." (Ps. 119:92)

"O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day" (Ps. 119:97) "Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me." The Answer To Your Perplexities Are Found In The Word Of God (Ps. 107:17-20).


IV. A VISION OF SOMETHING BIG (1 Samuel 17:47-48, 51& 54).

We must not be satisfied with what God has done in the past. We must continue to trust Him to do big things.

"I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it" (Ps. 81:10).
"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not" (Jer 33:3).

The only limitation we have is how big of a vision we will believe God for. Mercy drops around us may fall but are we looking for the shower of blessings! Then we need to prepare for rain.

The 5 stones could represent the Spirit of God, the Word of God, the remembrance of what God has done in the past, and a vision for the future, but one last stone is missing:

V. A HEART FULL OF FAITH

“Let no man’s heart fail…” (1Samuel 17:32). You can find plenty of faithless people in this chapter. Saul, who should have been the one to face Goliath, and David’s brother’s had no faith either.

But David had faith from the beginning of this giant undertaking. How about you? What about me? Does spiritual heart failure occur when you hear about the dreams for the future, or do you have a heart full of faith?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Why do we Pray?

Why do we pray? Is it simply to get things from God? George MacDonald suggests:

“What if God know prayers to be the thing we need first and most? What if the main object in God’s idea of prayer is a supplying of our great, our endless need-the need of Himself? Communion with God is the one need of the soul beyond all our need. Prayer is the beginning of that communion, of talking with God, a coming to one with Him, which is the sole end of prayer, yea of existence itself.”

God wants us for Himself. He desires fellowship with us. His purpose in prayers is not to make us sit up and beg. He wants us to know Him. Prayer is His method to accomplish this.

But sometimes when we pray we focus on the gifts in God’s hands and ignore the hand of God Himself. We pray earnestly for the new job, or for our health, or for that life partner, and He grants it to us, we are grateful but have little to do with the giver of the gifts and answered prayers. Often time we turn to speak with God during those difficult times in our lives, those crisis moments, but forget to talk with Him when all is well!

God offers us more than gifts and answered pray. He offers us Himself! Those other things are simply extra benefits, the icing on the cake. It is so easy to take the things out of the Father’s hand that we loose sight of the hand itself! We get so occupied with the blessings we forget about the Blesser! He wants us to enjoy talking with Him every day, developing fellowship with Him, not only when we are in trouble. Often times many of us treat Him just like we use our spire tire. We’re glad its there, but we never bother checking on it , but it is there tucked away it the trunk just in case we need it. We give no thought to it until we have a blow out. Then we expect it to be ready to perform.

God has made Himself known through His Son the Lord jesus Christ, who died on the cross and rose again to pay the penalty for our sins. If you don’t know Him as your Savior, go to him in prayer, confess your sin, and receive the forgiveness you need.

If you are a Christian don’t use your relationship with the Lord as a spare tire. Meet with Him daily through reading His Word and speak with Him often through prayer.