Knowing What You’ve Signed Up For

A BIBLE STUDY ~

 

If you are reading this and are a Christian having committed your life to Jesus, to love and follow Him, I have no doubt you’ve felt like a failure at one time or another.  The reason I can say that is because I know a little bit about our common enemy. 

His name means adversary (aka the accuser, aka father of lies).  He would love nothing more than to take the same Bible I read daily for encouragement and my own spiritual growth, and give me a smackdown with it, accusing me of failing God in certain areas of my life.  I am so grateful then for the verses like Romans 8:33-35 (NIV).

[33]  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies,  [34]  Who then is the one who condemns?  No one.  Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  [35]  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  

The world often fails to see the potential for success that God has placed within a person.  But God Himself knows us and sees us for our true potential.

And when we open our hearts to Him daily and receive His GRACE, that my friends is the beginning of a life of success.  All other successes will be left behind when we leave this earth.  But knowing Jesus and making Him known to others is something we can take with us!

As Paul and his team were successful as they traveled around sharing the GOOD NEWS about Jesus, several dynamics emerge from these verses found in 1 Thes. 2 that helps us become more effective in SHARING God’s GRACE with others.

Even When You’re Up Against Strong Opposition –

1 Thessalonians 2:1-2 (NIV)

Acts 17 tells of the strong opposition Paul had faced not only in Thessalonia but also in Philippi.  The suffering in Phillipi that he alludes to here is detailed for us in Acts 16:16-40.  I encourage you to read the accounts of tribulation encountered.

In spite of this harsh treatment in Phillipi, they still dared to proclaim the GOOD NEWS (the gospel message) to the Thessalonians, even though they had run into a spiritual brick wall there as well.

Acts 17 tells us that the Jews in Thessalonia were jealous of Paul’s ministry so much, that they formed a mob and started a riot in the city.  Jason, the man whose house Paul was staying, was arrested and later released on bond.

So that night, Paul, and Silas (Silvanus), left for Berea under the cover of darkness.

THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL –

Although over the past 47 years as a Christian, I faced different degrees of opposition to the gospel message.  But I never faced opposition that the apostle Paul faced and experienced.  And I pray that I never will.  That said, I’m prepared for what might come, not by my own strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Opposition will come whenever we set out to accomplish something significant for Jesus’ sake–like sharing the gospel message and helping people grow in their faith!  This is warfare on a spiritual level, and the enemy will stir up as much trouble as he can to discourage us and immobilize us in sharing God’s GRACE with others around us.

BUT WE ARE NOT ALONE!

Just as Jesus told His disciples that He would be with them always. so He is with us.  And He will help us accomplish what He has called us to do!

The help that is delivered with Divine Assistance!

It would have been a natural thing in the world for Paul and his team to call a timeout and take a little break in their mission.

Paul decided not to be a whiner because he was not treated fairly by the people he was trying to reach for Christ.

As they passed God’s GRACE on to everyone they met, the RESULT of their efforts, using an American football term, a roughing the passer, penalty!  God, didn’t you see that?  How could you miss that call?  They deserve a penalty!

But Paul didn’t blame God or feel sorry for himself.

Paul knew what he had signed up for.

The Lord told Ananias in Acts 9:16,  “For I will make clear to him how much he will be afflicted and must endure and suffer for My name’s sake.”  Instead of complaining, Paul received strength, encouragement, and help from the Lord.

Sometime later in Corinth, after facing opposition at nearly every turn, the Lord encouraged Paul in a VISION:

Acts 18:9-10

Here’s the lesson to remember when things get tough for us in sharing Christ Jesus with others:

We can withstand any opposition the enemy throws our way

because God is with us!

“With the help of our God, we dared to tell you the gospel in spite of strong opposition.”  (1 Thes. 2:2)

So when we are doing what God has called us to do church, and we face opposition in our calling, God’s got our backs–God is with us and will help us carry out His plan!

And when we SHARE, we need to be sure that we are doing it for the right reasons.

Having the Proper Motivation –

1 Thessalonians 2:3-5 (NIV)

[3]  For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.  [4]  On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.  We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.  [5]  You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed–God is our witness.

In Philippians One, Paul said that some preached Christ for the wrong reasons (envy, selfish ambition), but he was okay with ut, because even with the wrong motivation, at least the gospel of Christ was being preached.

However, the Lord wants us to take a close look at our motivation and make sure it aligns with who He is.

  • Not from bad theology (or “pop theology”).  Anything that makes us think wrongly about who God is and/or who we are.
  • Not from impure motives.
  • Not to trick the listeners (manipulation).
  • Not to please men (seeking their praise, (Vs. 6).
  • Not using flattery.
  • Not out of greed.
  • Positively, to PLEASE GOD!

The proper motivation to have for sharing the GOSPEL–The Good News–with others is to please God!

It pleases God because He doesn’t want anyone to perish without Him, but for everyone to come to repentance.

If we are using our faith to impress others or get something that we want for ourselves, then we are missing it!  How many times over the years in my own evangelistic outreach have I prayed the words of Psalm 139:23-24.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.”

It’s characterized by giving, not taking.

1 Thessalonians 2:6-9

Paul could have asked the Thessalonian Christians to take care of them, providing housing, food, and other needs.  But he wanted to take care of them, not the other way around–much like a mother cares for her children.

Paul spoke of being gentle, not demanding.  He nurtured them and helped them grow while he was there amongst them.  His love was so strong that he said that he was delighted to share not simply the gospel, but his own life.  He worked day and night to avoid being a burden to them while preaching the good news to them.

How was Paul able to do all of this?

Because that’s what Jesus did!  He came to serve, not be served.  He came to give, not take!

GIVING is the truest expression of love.  God so loved that He GAVE…

Jesus loves the Church and gave Himself for her.

So the question, “What’s in it for me?” wasn’t foremost on Paul’s mind.  He knew his reward would come later.  Now was the time to SERVE, not be served!

Its effects are seen in those who share it – 1 Thessalonians 2:10 (AMP)

[10]  You are witnesses, [yes] and God [also], how unworldly and upright and blameless was our behavior toward you believers [who adhered to and trusted in and relied on our Lord Jesus Christ].

Paul knew they needed to practice what they preached!

Not that he had to do anything different but just to set a good example.  A good example flowed out of a life that was sold out to Jesus!  I would like to call this approach, “modeling discipleship.”  Paul was showing them how to live at being honest, hardworking, holy, righteous, and blameless.  He was simply being a follower of Jesus, and they got to witness it.  Its effects are discipled into those who received it,

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

There’s immediate transformation when a person receives the GOOD NEWS about Jesus, but there’s also a lifelong process as well.

The spiritual growth process requires encouragement, comfort, and urging–that’s what DISCIPLESHIP is all about!

Most of us are okay with the encouragement and comfort concept.  It’s the urging that might irritate us at times.  Urging someone to live a life worthy of God and that means that they can’t get too comfortable and satisfied.

A follower (disciple) of Christ cannot give in to every whim or passion or desire that floats through their heads!

So, we are to be as parents to new believers, as a father deals with his own children. 

Sharing the GOOD NEWS with an individual doesn’t end when they accept Jesus as their forgiver and leader.  It’s an ongoing process of discipleship where the life of Jesus is imparted to them in a relationship.

SHARING THE GOOD NEWS WITH OTHERS:

As we ALL share the GOOD NEWS, realize that it comes with the opposition, but can be done with God’s help.

Our motivation should be to please God, not people.  It’s about giving, not taking, and it changes us so we can help reach and disciple others for Christ.  That’s what God intended for each one us as His people and when we became the church–WE ARE THE CHURCH!

The GOOD NEWS about Jesus and the POWER of God is leading to SALVATION for everyone who believes.  If you haven’t yet received the GOOD NEWS about Jesus and by trusting Him for forgiveness and committing to follow Him, I pray you will right now, where you are.  If you already have, then let it TRANSFORM you!  SHARE IT, and DISCIPLE those who receive it!

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CREDITS:

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search

Commentary:  1 Thessamonians 2:1-12 – Bible Hub

Dictionary:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); and other translations as a reference in the text of used in the Photo/Images.

WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?

A small child [in the cartoon series Theopolis] gazes up at the eyes of his father and asks the question…WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?

When I read the dialogue in the cartoon I thought the father gave a reasonably good answer to his son.  He emphasized communication with the Father, seeking first the Kingdom of heaven, displaying the fruit of the Spirit in one’s life.  It wasn’t a bad answer.  But imagine the father’s shock if you can when the son asked if he had actually seen such a person!

Is it possible, as the above cartoon suggests, that we sometimes talk a good talk, but walk a poor walk?  We might be able to tell others what a Christian is–may even profess to be one ourselves–but have we ever shown them?

The 3 W’s That Explains What A Christian Is And How We Can Demonstrate Who We Are

#1.  WHAT WE ARE, 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.”

John here turns his letter from the world to God.

The world’s glory may be glamorous and enticing, but also shallow and momentary.  What the world gives today, it takes away tomorrow.

God gives something permanent, something authentic, something life-changing, something eternal and something to gaze upon in [VERSE 1 (NKJV)]:

IT’S THE LOVE OF GOD!

Those who have been born of God, meaning those that practice righteousness (2:29), is now “called children of God.”

RIGHTEOUSNESS begins with faith and ends in LOVE.

The reason we are told to “BEHOLD” is to see what great love the Father has bestowed upon us.

“Behold” (idou) means to sense and see, and to see with awakened understanding.  It calls one to stop and think about this amazing truth and what we are to sense, see and marvel at is the GREAT LOVE God has given us.

LOVE is agape, denoting divine or the highest form of love.  The whole wonderful plan of SALVATION begins with God.  And while we were once enemies, God loved us and sent His Son to die for us (Rom. 5:8).  His LOVE is so great that by the NEW BIRTH experience, we are now related to the One Who is the Divine Creator of the Universe and can call him Father!

We Are The Children Of God!

We receive from Christ a new nature, a godly nature, and thus are called children of God.

We shouldn’t expect the world around us to understand this thrilling relationship because it doesn’t understand the awesomeness of God.  This love and resulting sonship are foreign to the world.  Only a person who knows God through Jesus Christ can appreciate what it means to be called a child of God.  Unfortunately, we have become so accustomed to EXPECTING God’s love we no longer stand in awe before it.  In fact, we actually take it for granted.  We even think of it as something God owes us.

When I was a young romantic boy in elementary school, I remember taking the DAISY PETAL TEST sitting on a bench in the lunch arbor.  I had a crush for weeks on a girl and holding a flower in my hand while looking across the table at her and saying as I pulled each petal off, “She loves me, She loves me not.”  I also remember “the look” when she reached for the same flower, pulling off the last petal and said, “He loves me not.”

There’s a much better and more reliable way to know if God loves us!

It’s considering all that He does for us.  And if there’s still any doubt, then think of what He did to SAVE us!

The Bible says that “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)

We can become confident in the knowledge of God’s unfailing LOVE because He has proven it beyond all question on the Cross.  We have been reborn into the family of God as His children and the recipients of our Father’s LOVE.

THIS AMAZING LOVE MADE US CHILDREN OF THE KING!

This brings us to our second point:

#2.  WHAT WILL WE BE?  (verse 2)

The emphasis in verse two is on what the children of God will be in the future.

The reference here is, of course, to the time of Christ’s return for His Church.  Having spoken of our present dignity as children of God, John now speaks of our FUTURE DESTINY.

We Are Privileged Children.

Our privileged opportunities in this world are understandable and within reach of all who will lay hold of them abiding in Christ Jesus.  But, the reluctant glories in the world to come are still veiled.  For the BLESSINGS there are connected with the RESPONSIBILITIES here!  The fact that God expects future development as seen in verse one and then seen again in verse two, is where the beloved (“friends”) are addressed as CHILDREN OF GOD.

Child implies that future development is to be expected.  A child has such potential as they grow.  We look at them as children with hope and expectation but don’t know how they’ll turn out.  Some who seem to have so much potential and opportunity throw away their lives.  Others you didn’t think will amount to much accomplish great things.

So it is with the children of God.  Many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first.

The appearance of Christ brings about changes or results in God’s children.

The results of Christ’s appearing is that we will be like Him.  This future fact of being changed into Christ’s likeness is presently known.  KNOW means “perceptive knowledge” that brings one to the point or place of understanding and then conviction.  The fact that we KNOW now is because of the PROMISE given from the Word and the Holy Spirit in supporting our confidence in the truth of our future state,

A Butterfly Emerges!

What an amazing sight to see a Monarch Butterfly emerging from its cocoon and arraying the beautiful colors overs its wings before taking flight.  Who would think that such beauty could come from a drab cocoon?

But a much greater miracle awaits the child of God!

Encased by this body, we look for that day when “the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed.”  (1 Cor. 15:52)

For now, we live in these earthly bodies, but not forever.

One day, perhaps soon, we will be made perfect and complete.  We shall see our Savior face to face, and wonder of wonders, we shall be like Him!

God’s LOVE for us doesn’t stop with the New Birth.

God continues ministering to us and transforming us into His image until the revelation of Jesus causes the final, culminating revelation of who we are in Him.

Those Christ purchased at His Cross will be perfected at His coming.

#3.  WHAT WE SHOULD BE (v. 3)

Verse 3 teaches us that if we hope in our transformation at the return of Jesus, then we should keep on, keeping on purifying our lives.

1 John 3:3 (NIV)

[3] Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

So, everyone who has the HOPE purifies, or frees oneself of contamination.

Purify ( Grk., hagmos), is the cleanliness of heart, soul, and spirit of thought, word, and action.

“Purifies himself” means that we must totally surrender to God, so that by His Grace (His unmerited favor), we may separate ourselves all that defiles us.  It’s a continuous process.

Our Goals As  A Believer…

Our goal should be pure just as Christ is pure.  Not to judge our lives by other people, but by Jesus, who is the standard or goal toward which we are to move towards.  God’s desire is that we are conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29).

As we read the Gospels carefully and thoughtfully, prayerfully, then you will develop an appreciation for the character, integrity, wisdom, and strength of Jesus.

When I didn;\’t know as much about Jesus as I know now–and I’m still learning daily–. I wasn’t as impressed with Him as I am today.

All the work of transformation is because of the Father’s LOVE for you and me.

Because the Father loved us and sent His Son to die for us, we are children of God.

Because God loves us and lives within us, He wants us to live with Him one day.

SALVATION from start to finish is an expression of the LOVE of God.  We are saved by the GRACE of God (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 2:11-15).

The provision for our SALVATION originated in the LOVE of God.  And since we have experienced the LOVE of the Father, we should have no desire to live in sin (the “flesh”).

An unbeliever who sins is a creature sinning against his Creator.  A Christian who sins is a child sinning against his Father.  The unbeliever sins against the LAW; the believer sins against LOVE.

One Day The Trumpet Will Sound And We Will Ascend!!!

The time to get ready for that turmpet blast is now!  Go to Christ Jesus and become PURE like Him.  That will prepare you in making the ascent–to the glories of Heaven!

Is the hope of being like Jesus a powerful inspiration/motivation in your life?  If it is, you will be purifying yourself as the Holy Spirit transforms your image of Christ.

Are you feeling perplexed by the questions…WHO AM I?  WHERE AM I GOING?

What comfort it is as  a TRUE BELIEVER in Christ to have God’s authoritative answers in the Bible:

WHO ARE WE?

John calls his readers “children of God” (v. 2).

WHERE ARE WE GOING?

John 14:1-6 tells us that one day He will receive us into our eternal home [body?] He is preparing for us.

When you know Jesus, you know who you are and where you are going

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CREDITS:

Dictionary:  Know, Knowledge: Baker’s Evangrlical Dictionary of Bilical Theology.

Photos/Images:  Google Image search.

A Butterfly Emerges:  Youtube 

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), or as noted in images or text.

 

 

 

Eternal Security GUARANTEED!

At the core of every human being is the desire to be APPROVED–to be liked.  Our self-esteem is often set by the opinions of others around us.  And from those opinions, so many of us feel bad about ourselves.  That deep down inside our soul we have a sense of failure–failed either to please those around us, ourselves or our heavenly Father.

The Apostle Paul seems to reinforce our own notions of failure in the first seven chapters of the Book of Romans in the Bible.

In my flesh, that is my old nature, Paul tells us,  “dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:5).

Paul sums it up at the end of the chapter by saying, “What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:24)  Then he answers his own question without taking a breath:  “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vs. 25).

So it’s not through our own efforts, through our family line, through our associations or deeds that we receive acceptance–but it’s through the efforts of Jesus Christ on our behalf that we are rescued, cleansed and loved and then empowered and changed by that relationship.

Acceptance Brings Security Forever!

“I DON’T WANT TO GO!  DON’T MAKE ME LEAVE!”

One of the saddest stories I’ve read was about the biological mother of this young boy who had won a bitter legal battle to reclaim her son from his adoptive family.  When she arrived with her lawyer to take him from the only home he had ever known, the terrified 4-year-old little boy pleaded with those he knew as Mommy and Daddy not to give him up to this complete stranger.

“Don’t make me go,” he begged.  “Please, please don’t send me away!”

Without an understanding of the courts, lawyers and legal codes, the boy was removed and left to wonder what he had done to be banished from those who had always said they loved him.

Some Christians live with the terrifying insecurity that in God’s mind lurks a willingness to send them away if they fail or disappoint Him.  Despite their love of God, they fear that God will withdraw His love from them and remove them from His heavenly home forever.

In the Bible, however, God promises His children that once He sets His love on them, we can be secure in that love forever!

The place to begin to understand a believer’s security with God is with God,–for a believer’s security is not rooted in the believer, but in the believer’s God.

The Believer’s Relationship with the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:1 (GNT)

“There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus.”

This one verse should be tattooed on everyone’s hand–printed on paper and posted on your fridge, and memorized by every believer.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, how you’ve acted, who you are–how much you think you’ve failed–if you are truly in Christ, you are NOT condemned anymore.  Think about that, let it settle in.

God isn’t sitting in heaven with a big hammer in His hand, waiting for you to mess up so He can whap you on the head.  That’s hard for us to accept–quick to judge ourselves–so Paul goes on to tell us why this is a reality.

Romans 8:2-4 (AMP)

[2]  For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and death.

[3]  For God has done what the law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Slirit].  Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice].  [Lev. 7:37]

[4]  So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit].

We are under a new authority–jurisdiction now–it’s like when you leave your residing country, you are no longer under your country’s laws, but the law of whatever country you go to.

By believing in Jesus Christ, you left the country called “the world” and have joined God’s kingdom–and are now under a new law–a law called “the law of the Spirit of life.”

So, in Christ, we are not condemned because we’ve been set free–[in verses 1-4]. 

Set free from what?

Romans 8:5-8

So set your mind on the Spirit–

That’s easier said than done–but it’s important to see the distinction.  I think one of Paul’s points is that we have been empowered and set free–the chains have been broken–so we can now choose which mind will control us.

Before I was a Christian my sinful nature controlled my mind.  There was a little tract being passed around at the time by the Billy Graham organization during his Crusades around the country called “Have you heard of the Spirit-filled life?”  Inside it showed the life of a person who doesn’t have Jesus–priorities, hope. actions–all out of whack with no order or purpose.  We are controlled–either by the sin nature or by the spirit nature–the Spirit of God.

A life controlled by Jesus has order and purpose.

The order becomes more evident the more time you spend in the relationship in Christ.  There’s a wonderful promise here in that even though we continue to live in bodies we live with a nature that’s opposed to God–one day our perishable bodies will put on an imperishable nature.  Like Jesus, we will have a perfect, indestructible body without a flesh nature–won’t that be wonderful?

So where then does our loyalty lie?

Romans 8:12-13 (NIV)

[12]  Therefore, brother and sisters, we have an obligation–but it is not to the flesh to live according to it.  [13]  For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

We have an obligation Paul says–it’s the idea of owing a debt to someone–like a mortgage to a bank.  God gave us life through the Spirit, so we are in debt to Him, He owns us–it’s a spiritual reality we need to make in an outward reality in our lives.  We are no longer indebted to our sinful nature–in fact, we need to put to death the flesh.  [vs. 12-13]

In our Godly relationship, closeness to God means we lose control but given a new nature (verses 14-17).

There is so much here in the above verses and the main point is this: the fleshly nature leads to death and fear–fear of punishment and condemnation.

But when we come to Christ Jesus, we don’t get condemned and we are welcomed into a special, close relationship.

“Abba” was the cry of a child to its daddy.

Not only that but we are now heirs to God’s riches–and boy does He have riches–not the kind you spend in a store, but the kind you live off of for the rest of eternity!

Also, looking at the end, there’s something to sharing in Christ’s sufferings that’s part of the process of becoming a child of God.  [vs. 17-b]

Look at what Paul says about it:

Having this new relationship with Christ Jesus means we will be changed.  Right now, creation itself has been waiting since the fall of mankind for the day when we receive new bodies.  It hasn’t happened yet–but it’s coming.

In the meantime, “eagerly wait for it with perseverance”, Paul says.

How–when we seem to be in constant battle with the flesh and spirit? 

Keep reading on:

There’s a lot of theology in these verses–“predestination and foreknowledge”–commentary, books, etc..

It’s at the bottom of an argument between Calvinism and Arminianism:

Calvinist believe God chose who He was going to save and we had little to do with it.  Armenians believe that we chose God and God had little to do with it,  My position, like a few others, is in the middle–I believe God knew beforehand those that would choose Him and so predestined them–that there is a balance between actions of God and actions on man when it comes to salvation.  What I want to focus on here is in verse 28.

Do people really believe this?  A more literal way to translate this would be:

“to them that love God, all things work together for good according to His [not our] purpose.”

In that case, this Scripture is true:

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises, as some understand slowness.  Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Once that repentance happens, ALL THINGS work together for good.

The word, “work together” is a good one–it’s where we get the word synergy.  

Synergy is where more than one thing works together well–“the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”  [Dictionary.com]

An isolated event in ones’ life might seem bad at the time–like my visit to the hospital for four days last January from an acute respiratory infection.  But because my illness brought me to a hospital bed, I was able to share and comfort the hospital chaplain intern who came to tears sitting in a chair next to my bed over a rebellious daughter who was living in sin.  Through my sickness, God gave me the wisdom and confidence to be of some comfort.  It “worked together for good”

The word “good” means:  “BENEFIT”.  It’s not “good” like “virtue.”  

God isn’t saying “well you’re going to suffer but it’s a good thing to suffer.”  “No pain, no gain!”

There’s an actual benefit that God works through circumstances–yes there will be pain and suffering at times, but know that part of this relationship we have with Jesus means in the end, God will work even the bad to our benefit.

Now we might not see that benefit till we get to heaven–and that leads to Paul’s final major point in this chapter:

Belonging to God’s family means facing death, but receiving a rich inheritance.

God is on our side and we need fear no enemy–losing our job or sickness, or hardship or even death and taxes.

What a wonderful picture God is building–accepted into a new family (the family of God).  For ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD,  and God, who was our enemy, is now on our side–but it gets better!

Romans 8:37 (NIV)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

So we can CONQUER in God.

The base word for “conquer” means “a means of success.”  Not only that but it’s a “super success.”  An individual, a group of people, can’t be a “conqueror” and be a failure at the same time.

Sin no longer has mastery, trials no longer hold terror, life is no longer something to be dreaded…BECAUSE we ARE conquerors.

Now that doesn’t mean we are free from suffering and pain, BUT we are always connected to the One who works for our benefit–NO MATTER WHAT!

Paul puts the cap on this wonderful chapter of promises with this:

What more could we ask for that “nothing can separate us from God’s love” (vs. 38-39).

God so wants to convince His children that His eternality of His love for them that He devotes an entire chapter in His Word (Psalm 136) in which every one of the 26 verses repeats the PROMISE:

“His steadfast love endures forever.”

And so, if He ever stopped loving a believer in Christ Jesus, He would be lying about His LOVE of being “steadfast” and “forever.”  If God ever allowed anything to separate one believer from His love, He would be a liar.

What great confidence we have then,  There’s no one, nothing, no event, and at no time that you can be torn from God’s loves in Jesus.  There’s no reason to say, “Oh, God can’t love me anymore after what I’ve done.”

Oh yes, He can and does!    Far from separating from you, He wants to forgive and cleanse you (1 John 1:9).

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~ CREDITS ~

Commentary:  Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc., “Secure Forever” by Donald S. Whitney.

Bible Translations:  Good News Translation (GNT); New King James Version (NKJV), New International Version (NIV). Amplified Bible (AMP).

Images:  Google Image search.

Who Is Melchizedek in the Bible…Or As I Like to Call Him, ‘Mel’?


If one goes to the Internet to answer this question, there are all sorts of claims made in the name of ‘Melchizedek”.  I’ve come across the name, once again, in bible study in The Letter to the Hebrews 7:1-22, and to save me the time of writing down “Melchizedek,” over and over again, I took the liberty of calling him ‘Mel’.

Many religious groups with ties to Christianity make claims regarding Melchizedek.  Ancient Gnostics go to great explanations of claiming Melchizedek was actually Jesus [For more on the term “Gnostic,” go to GotQuestions.org/”What is the definition of the term Gnostic? ]. Others say he was the archangel, Michael.

Suffice to say, I don’t recommend an Internet search answering these sorts of questions.

In Hebrews 7, the information presented gives the most information about ‘Mel’ in the entire Bible.

Of course, Melchizedek first shows up in our Bible in Genesis … 12 pages into my Bible.

  • Genesis 12 contains God’s call of Abram and God’s promise that would make Abram a great nation and Blessed him (Genesis 12:2).
  • Genesis 13 includes the story of Abram (Abraham) and his nephew Lot agreeing to separate and occupy different territories in the new land.
  • At the beginning of Genesis 14, there’s a report of war among several kings.  Caught up in the plunder of war, Lot was carried off by the victory and apparent victim of circumstance, Lot was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • In the middle of Genesis 14, Abram learns of his nephew’s plight, takes a group of 318 soldiers, routs Lot’s captors and liberates Lot, his possessions, and all the people with him.

It was after Abram’s return from the victory that the story unfolds with Melchizedek.  Even though it is contained in just three chapters in our Bibles, it was a significant encounter for Abram.  Mostly because it’s a moment in which Abram acknowledged God’s Blessing on his life:

  • He chose the Blessing of the priest over the spoils of war offered by the other kings.
  • He credited God for the victory won.
  • He tithed, giving an offering in worship to “God most high”.

AND THIS IS THE END OF THE ACCOUNT.

There are no more details about ‘Mel’ to be found in Genesis.

Most history books I’ve run across don’t deny the existence of Melchizedek, but they don’t have much else to add either.

Aside from our text in Hebrews in this study, the only other place I could find in the Bible was Psalm 110.

Psalm 110 is what Bible scholars call a Messianic psalm, a prophecy that describes the ultimate Savior, the Victor that would deliver God’s people for all eternity.

And this particular Psalm describes the Messiah as “a priest after the manner and order of Melchizedek”  (verse 4).  

Sound familiar?

Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.

He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

This duplication of this specific language presented at the end of Chapter 6 of Hebrews is in the precise language of Psalm 110.

Hebrews 6:20 (AMP)

[20] Where Jesus has entered in for us [in advance], a Forerunner having become a High Priest forever after the order (with the rank) of Melchizedek.

This is to remind us that none of this is primarily about ‘Mel’…it’s all about Jesus!

Although, as a Word Detective, it might be really tantalizing to think of all this in terms of unlocking some great mystery about this baffling Melchizedek.  The main point I find here is to tie Jesus to the prophecy found in Psalm 110.  So we will be best served to look at this passage of Scripture not so much for answers to the question “Who is Melchizedek?”  Rather, what we should really be after are the answers to the greater question, “Who is Jesus?”

The author who penned these words under the leading and inspiration of the Holy Spirit has no interest in leading us as readers to Melchizedek.  We are being led to Jesus!

What is found in this passage of Scripture now is Melchizedek being used as an illustration to help us understand more about Christ Jesus.

Melchizedek’s position is worth taking a close look at in Hebrews 7.

The beginning of the chapter explains that he is both king and priest.  Specifically king of Salem (ancient Jerusalem), priest of God Most High.

Jesus too is both King and Priest.

This mention of genealogy seems curious when it comes to studying this in the context of the Bible, especially the Old Testament historical books.  Unlike almost every other figure in the O.T. historical books, ‘Mel’ has no genealogical context.  He isn’t identified as “the son of” anyone, no begat.

Neither his birth nor death is recorded.

In Melchizedek’s case, scripture is silent about all that made him unique.  In this case, what distinguishes Melchizedek isn’t his genealogy, but his righteousness, peace, his association with God Most High!

Verses 4-10 makes us aware of Abraham’s position in respect to Melchizedek.

Abraham, the father of faith, the one through whom God chose to create a special people for Himself, subservient to Melchizedek.

  1. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek–giving him, in an act of worship, a tenth of what he had.
  2. ‘Mel’ blessed Abraham.

First the blessing and then the tenth. 

The lesser person is blessed by the greater.  Abraham wasn’t BLESSED because he tithed.

He gave because he was already BLESSED!

Jesus, too, is greater than Abraham.

Jesus, through this illustration, is associated in a superior order than all kings and priests, especially all those kings and priests that would come from Abraham.

Verses 11-14 make more of this idea of genealogy and ancestry.

The LAW given by Moses, established the tribe of Levi, the tribe of priests.

But Jesus wasn’t a Levite, as ‘Mel’ wasn’t a Levitical priest; Jesus was from the tribe of Judah.

Under the old covenant, one would be a law-breaker if one claimed to be a PRIEST but not qualified by his genealogy,

If you weren’t a LEVITE, you couldn’t be a PRIEST.

But like Melchizedek, who preceded the Levites, Jesus is a PRIEST superior to the Levitical priesthood not on the basis of RULES or ANCESTRY, but on the basis of the POWER of an indestructible life…a life everlasting! 

So, Jesus makes possible what the imperfections of the old priestly order could never deliver.

Jesus introduces “a better HOPE” as described in verse 19.

In the priestly order, only a select few could dare approach YHWH, but Jesus set aside what “was weak and useless” and made a way “by which we draw near to God.”

The old order of SACRIFICES made in the old order of Levitical priests, in which men continually offered payment for SIN through offerings, was set aside.

There were no chairs in the Temple or Tabernacle, for the work was not done.  But Jesus accomplished for us, once and for all, A NEW HOPE by which we draw near to God.

Finally, these last verses in the passage take our mind and spirit back to the prophecy in Psalm 110.  We have to remember, the point here is that Jesus isn’t merely like a king, like a priest, like a Messiah.  

The POINT here is…Jesus IS that Messiah!

He is sealed with an oath from the Creator (“The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind” Psalm 110:4) and not a priest by association or ancestry, but a PRIEST by declaration.

God said to him:  “The Lord has sworn (made an OATH) and will not change His mind:  ‘You are a priest forever'”

(verse 22 b.) – Because of His OATH. Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.  A whole new order, a new way, a new deal, a better covenant…

“SO WHAT?” you might say.

At one level, the “so what,” is simply the benefit of study.  The illustration found in Hebrews regarding Melchizedek gets a little technical, I’ll admit, but it’s powerful!  There’s a real reward that comes with a clearer understanding of God’s Word.

That understanding draws us closer to God and for this confidence that comes from the Word, we can shout, “AMEN”!

There’s of course, this very practical reminder…to keep our focus on Jesus.

‘Mel’ is one of those figures that has been hijacked and made into something that was never intended by many.

If you were googling Melchizedek, you’d soon find yourself way out in the theological weeds.  You can also go to Amazon.com and find all sorts of books that would want to take you down all sorts of weird roads.

But those “roads” take people away from the plain and simple basics of our faith.

We should take away from this study, a reminder that Scripture points us to Jesus.  We don’t need to search for secrets and mysteries about Melchizedek; the intent of this passage of Scripture is clearly to draw our attention and understanding to Jesus:

He is…

  • King of Righteousness
  • King of Peace
  • Priest Forever.

We’re reminded of the continuity of our faith.  That all ancient history points to the hinge of history, Jesus our Savior.

…that all religious practice, all rules, and law, all sacrifice and worship…ALL of it is trumped (if you will), superseded by a Superior Order, Jesus, the promised priest forever!

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CREDITS

The New International Commentary On The New Testament – The Letter To The Hebrews

PHOTO/IMAGES:  Google Image Search – Settings, advanced.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); and other translations used are so noted.

 

 

GOD’S WORD and The Shoe Box

A Crushed Shoe Box
The Shoe Box

This week I decided to sort through all my “stuff” in the walk-in closet, going through the clutter and no longer needed clothing for a fresh start in the new year.  It’s a rotten job, but someone’s gotta do it!

I grabbed what I thought was an empty SHOE BOX tucked behind some old sweatshirts hanging up that I’ll never wear again and when I removed the lid from the shoe box–SURPRISE!

crumpled-money

Inside was a wrinkled twenty-dollar bill staring at me.  “How did THAT get in there?” A better question might have been, “How did I forget that it was there, and was I getting forgetful in my old age?  A lost twenty-dollar bill?” And, was what I found in the shoe box even salvageable–would anyone still accept what I found in this condition?

A Lesson Learned!

The next day while reading God’s Word in my bible, I asked the Holy Spirit, “Might there be a hidden message for me in that forgotten shoe box?”  I often get ideas for Blogging For God with questions that arise in my daily walk with Jesus.  How about you?

HEAVENLY ANSWER:  If I tried to alter what I found in the shoe box, it may no longer be accepted and would be worthless.

  • God’s WORD is worth much more than the twenty dollars.  Altering it can cost many people Heaven itself!
  • Unaltered, that WORD will accomplish what God wants.

BIBLE TEXT:  EZEKIEL 2:1-5 New Living Translation (NLT):

ezekiel-713x509-713x450

[1]  “STAND UP, son of man,” said the voice.  “I want to speak with you.”

[2]  The Spirit came into me as he spoke, and he set me on my feet.  I listened carefully to his words.  [3] “Son of man,” he said, “I am sending you to the nation of Israel, a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me.  They and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day.  [4] They are stubborn and hard-hearted people.  But I am sending you to say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says!’  [5] And whether they listen or refuse to listen–for remember they are rebels–at least they will know they have had a prophet among them.

AS CHRISTIANS, you and I need to see ourselves as much a sinner as those outside the church environment to whom we can speak God’s WORD.  And when we do get the Holy Spirit opportunities to speak God’s Word, we need to fight against every ounce of self-righteousness in ourselves.  Maybe we haven’t committed exactly the same sins, but your sins and mine are just offensive against God as their sins, if not more so since we ought to know better.

HUMBLY see your SIN and then see JESUS, your Savior, who takes away your SIN.

Maybe the idea of the SHOE BOX might help you, as it did me, to be HUMBLE in speaking God’s Word.  The shoe box isn’t worth anything–it’s easily crushed.

What gives the shoe box value is what is inside.  Apart from God, we are but empty shoe boxes–worthless, and powerless.

BUT GOD has placed His WORD into your heart.  As you speak that Word, HUMBLY remember that your strength comes from the Lord, not from yourselves.

WE ARE JUST SHOEBOXES!  SPEAK His Word Faithfully, Knowing It Will NOT FAIL!

What God said proved to be TRUE.

The people would know that the prophet was speaking for God when the WORD came true.  That’s what God tells him,  “And whether they listen or fail to listen–for they are a rebellious people–they will know that a prophet has been among them (Ezekiel 2:5 NIV).

Many would REJECT Ezekiel’s message, but he wouldn’t change it to make it sound more acceptable to the people.

There’s a principle for churches today to glean from and the New Testament gives a great reminder and a WARNING:

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2 Timothy 4:3-4 New International Version (NIV)

[3]  For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

[4]  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

How do we do that?

Through reading your Bible, coming to worship, joining a bible study group, and… keep on learning more and more what God’s Word has to say.

Don’t give in to pressure compromising God’s Word, because someone might not like it.

UNALTERED, that WORD will accomplish what God wants!

SPEAK HIS WORD FAITHFULLY!!!

Finally, SPEAK GOD’S WORD BOLDLY–

The LORD wants us to SPEAK His Word BOLDLY!

He makes it plain to Ezekiel that he will face opposition.  The LORD tells him,

(Ezekiel 2:4 AMP)

[4] And the children are impudent and hard of heart.

I send you to them and you shall say to them,

‘Thus says the Lord God.’

Knowing this ahead of time, it still didn’t stop Ezekiel.  He was to speak God’s WORD BOLDLY, regardless of the circumstances.

So, what gave Ezekiel the BOLDNESS to speak?

I have asked myself the same question after SHARING Christ with others: “Where did I get the “boldness” at that specific moment?  And I always receive the same answer from the Holy Spirit–

(Philippians 2:13 AMP)

[13] “[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who

is all the while effectually at work in you [ener-

gizing and creating in you the power and desire],

both to will and to work for His good pleasure

and satisfaction and delight.”

As fellow Christians, we are bold to speak because we KNOW His Word won’t fail.

ISAIAH 55:11 says it best:  [11] “so is my WORD that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I declare and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

This should give us BOLDNESS even in the face of surrounding opposition and rejection.  There had been many times that opposition and rejection intimidated me when opportunities to share God’s Word arose.  My confidence began to dwindle, fear would begin to raise its ugly head…and then I would remember the words in Philippians,  “Not in your strength for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you…”

Each one of us, in our own private lives, has been CALLED OUT of the darkness of SIN to FAITH in Christ Jesus.  So, SPEAK HIS WORD!

With your TRUST in the Lord and the AUTHORITY, He has given each one of us as believers the CONFIDENCE to SPEAK HIS WORD!

Let me leave you with this message found in 2 Corinthians 5:20 in the New Living Testament (NLT):

[5]  So we are Christ’s AMBASSADORS; God is making his

appeal through us.  We SPEAK for Christ when we plead,

“Come back to God!”

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CREDITS –

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and the Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

 

 

 

A GUIDE For Witnessing In A Christ-like Manner

you will be my witnessesIn my reading of Scripture every morning, my set-aside devotional time, there’s one book in the New Testament that refreshes my spirit over and over again.  It was the first book of the Bible I read through after I was “born again” in 1972.  The book, The Gospel Of John.  

Many truths set forth in John’s gospel have made a great impact on my Christian life.  First and foremost, there is no greater honor than to be a part of God’s work of telling others about Jesus.  So this is where I want to begin; sharing from my own experiences and giving a beginning guide to today’s oft forgotten term… Witnessing to others about Jesus Christ.

We hear from pastor’s sermons at least once a year from a familiar passage in Acts 1:8  “and you shall be My witnesses…”  Now if we take that verse to heart, seriously, maybe we need to reevaluate our preparedness to obey Christ’s command.

WHAT IS A WITNESS?

WITNESS Definitions:  Merriam Webster;  [2] One that gives evidence;  [5] public affirmation by word or example.

The word WITNESS we are most familiar with comes to us from the legal sphere, derived from the root meaning “to bear in mind,” “to be careful.”  Thus a witness in the field of law is one who has the knowledge of something by recollection and experience and who can tell about it accurately.

Biblically speaking, A WITNESS is born when one is born again, that is, when you experience the POWER of God in your own personal death, burial and resurrection. In that sense, Christian Witnessing is not optional, nor is it mandatory.  It is inevitable.

When I first had knowledge of what a witness was, and internalizing Jesus’ message in Acts 1:8 of being “witnesses” in the community, this next little tidbit was added to my spirit: 

The word MARTYR: “comes from the Greek word for “witness”.  Early Christians were often put to death for the “witness” of Christ Jesus.

Boy, after having that scary thought placed in my mind, I needed some real motivation if… I was going to be a witness for Jesus.  But where was that motivation going to come from?

A GUIDE to Being A WITNESS:

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In John chapter four, JESUS is passing through Samaria.  He comes to Jacob’s well, tired from His journey and He sits down (John 4:6).

Now the disciples have gone into a nearby town Sychar, to buy food (John 4:5, 8).  The Bible says it was about the sixth hour which most likely be around noon.

LUNCH TIME!

In my last job before retiring, I was required to be at my desk by 6 AM.  So by the time lunch time rolled around, I needed to get away from the office, where I could sit down, get a bite to eat, and relax.  Many times, several of my co-workers would show up at the same place.  I didn’t invite them to come.  They just showed up!

In this portion of Scripture, we see Jesus’ human side and see that He is tired and evidently hungry, just like when we get tired and hungry.

Notice how Jesus uses a common physical thirst to cause the lady at the well to ask questions about deeper eternal matters.

I was intrigued once more to focus on their discussion.  Remember, they are total strangers to one another–not co-workers, not BFF’s, but strangers.

STEP #1.  Jesus arouses the woman’s curiosity with a promise; the quenching a natural spiritual thirst common to all mankind.  That spiritual thirst which people try to satisfy through giving into the flesh, drinking in the world’s views and Satan’s lies.  Sadly, only a few drink of the Living Water offered by the Lord.

John 4:13-14:

[13] Jesus answer her, “All who drink of this water will be thirsty again.  

THE PROMISE…

[14] But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more.  But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling)  [continually]  within him unto (into, for) eternal life.”

By Divine Appointment – A Personal Story

Working for a large company for over fifteen years, starting as a truck driver and working myself up through the ranks to Branch Manager, in February, 1985, the company was sold, and my services were no longer needed.  I was to be replaced by new management.  Although I was given a decent severance pay package, my self-worth was definitely damaged in the process.

Two weeks later, I received a phone call from an old business associate, who had heard through the grapevine reasons for my termination.  He asked the question–“Would I be interested in taking a job out-of-state?”  “That depends,” I answered.  “Where is ‘out-of-state’?”  HAWAII.  So, two days later, I found myself sitting in front of the president of large Hawaiian Wholesale Plumbing Company on the island of Oahu.

The next several months was a time in my life I have reflected on in detail for years. For my stay was for a brief time.  At the time, A Divine Appointment wasn’t even a thought. But God had set His plan in motion long before I had a clue.

After accepting the new job, part of my negotiated package was housing and a company vehicle to use until my family and automobile arrived from the mainland.  Since the president’s daughter and son-in-law lived nearby and also worked at the same office, I carpooled with the young man…for over two months.  Our conversation varied during the heavy commute, from family to music choices (the car radio was always active), to Hawaiian lifestyle compared to mainland lifestyle.  Then one day he asked, “I’ve noticed you go to church every Sunday.  What church do you attend?”  The opportunity at the well was there and I took it!

I answered his question with a question; asking him his religious background and did he have a personal relationship with JESUS; a few weeks later led him to Christ.

Hawaii wasn’t the place for my family and I to live, and I returned to the mainland; unemployed to employment…and back to unemployment… all with three month’s time.

WHY?  God had a DIVINE APPOINTMENT in mind and I had the privilege to be a part of.  It wasn’t until I returned to my original starting point did I fully understand the details in my going.

Divine Providence brings always amazing things and Jesus doesn’t want you to miss the opportunities He gives you.

Three simple truths we can hold on to here as laid down by Jesus to help all Christians in their daily witness.  For after all, when we leave our front door in the morning, we don’t go out witnessing; we witness as we go.  It may be today, next week, next month or off and on through out the calendar year.  But know this: God wants to use you.

So how can we follow the simple example of Christ with confidence that Jesus is going to use us?

The FIRST THING I noticed that Jesus did was to make a connection.

The woman who lived a sinful life came out to get water and He makes the connection with her.

You have family members, friends and co-workers just like this lady and you need to be making connections.  Jesus made the connection in being obedient to His Father who was sending Him to Galilee.

All Divine Appointments that are set up for you come about as you are obedient to the Lord’s call on your life.  

Divine Providence brings all glorious things into existence.  Jesus doesn’t want you to miss the opportunities He gives you.

Is there someone in your workplace that you want to reach for Christ?  Is there a neighbor, a family member you’ve been praying for?  Ask the Lord for a connection.

Jesus had a need for water and the lady had a way of getting water from a well that was very deep.  The depth is around 70 feet to the water line with a depth of about 105 feet (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Jacob’s Well).

The point being Jesus, being a man, had a NEED that could not be met without her help.

We all have some needs that we cannot meet and there is someone who is bound by sin who can help you meet that need.

This is a wonderful opportunity to make a connection. It may be an answer to a question about work, home repairs, a physical task you cannot do on your own.

Make a connection with someone who would be shocked that you even noticed them let alone asked them for help.

The lady at the well asks,  “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”  (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans) – (John 4:9)

A Little History About Samaritans –

Samaria is right about center of Israel.  When Israel fell to the Assyrians, Samaria was theacts_1_8_1 place where the poorest were left behind.  They intermarried with other races and brought in a false priest.  Add to that, they began false worship and twisted Scripture while rejecting everything in the Old Testament except the first five books of the Bible (2 Kings 17).

There are many PREJUDICES that keep people from hearing the gospel message of Jesus.

PREJUDICES of the people who are living in sin.  They convince themselves that obedient Christians don’t want to associate with them or care about their needs, problems or concerns.

Jesus’ lifestyle was to be out among sinners, ministering to the sick, the needy, meeting practical and spiritual needs to all who would accept what God was doing through Him.

“Must needs”  (John 4:4)

After looking at different bible translations, I like the KJV version the best:  “And he must needs pass through Samaria.”

Interesting TRUTH can be found here that the Holy Spirit wants us to grasp in our efforts to fulfill our part in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

“Must needs” in application means it was a necessity, a compulsion and Jesus’ destiny to go through Samaria for the sake of His mission.

There are THREE ROUTES Jesus could have taken.  But Jesus had to go through Samaria to lay down a foundational work of the gospel, because it was His Father’s will for Him (John 4:34).

THE SECOND TRUTH the Holy Spirit wants us to get hold of:  Jesus drew attention for temporary satisfaction to eternal fulfillment.

The core of Jesus’ mission at the well as defined in John 4:10 and 13 is to move the lady from what she does know to what she does not know.  He does this in stimulating her curiosity resulting in her asking a question about Him (John 4:12).  She wants to know who this man at the well is:

“Are You greater than and superior to our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well and who used to drink from it himself, and his sons and his cattle also?”

Through Jesus’ example, our goal is to get people from thinking and talking about what they know and talking about and asking they about what they don’t know.

How can we guide the conversation in our connections to talk about what they don’t know?  

One example, when people begin to talk about the problems their family is having, move them to ask about a Christian family that had the same problem, maybe your own family, but do not have them now.  

Point how Jesus did a work in their lives.  Remember the goal here is to be walking in obedience to the Lord.  The focus is to be speaking to people you connect with.  

Let the Lord lead you to the Divine Appointment; to a heart that is prepared to receive what the Lord has for them at that time on their life.

An important note to remember in witnessing to others: Jesus pointed the women’s attention to what matters in eternity.  There is a contrast to what will satisfy PHYSICAL Thirst (water drawn from a well by labor) and to SPIRITUAL Water that will bubble from the inside given by Jesus.

In this incident at Jacob’s Well, the Samaritan lady makes a request, “…Sir, give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water!” (John 4:15).

This lady typifies many of the people we come across daily in our witnessing.  Because they are bound by SIN, they are so slow to respond to the things of God.

Like the lady at the well, many HEAR the gospel message, yet still want the things of God for all the wrong reasons.  In other words, she and those like her, still need a purifying of the heart.

People who are carnal in their thinking and not yet surrendered to the Lord (Matthew Henry Commentary).

In John chapter four, we see that Jesus had to break the barrier that kept her from understanding.

The TRUTH that must be presented to all, including Christianity is FIRST,  the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that He is.

The SECOND is the revelation on oneself.

It begins with the realization that LIFE lived without Him being Savior and Lord will not do; that one must be enlightened by the Holy Spirit that he is in great need of GRACE & MERCY of God.  Use your own testimony of how God’s Grace & Mercy made things new in your life.

The THIRD TRUTH I discovered is that the Lord wants us to grab hold of and pass on to others the importance:  What is a TRUE WORSHIPER?

Jesus said,  “You [Samaritans] do not know what you are worshiping [you worship what you do not comprehend]. We do know what we are worshiping [we worship what we have knowledge of and understand], for [after all] salvation comes from [among] the Jews.  A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers.  God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth (reality).”  (John 4:22-24 AMP).

Most of the people we come in contact with are like the Samaritans in a sense who have chosen a partial knowledge of God’s Word.  They, like the Samaritans, have selective worship.  They choose which portion of Scripture they like and disregard the rest.

No one can worship in spirit and truth without an honest heart, seeking God’s will through the whole council of the written Word.

That doesn’t mean that a worshiper has to know ALL of God’s Word, but they must have a heart desire in seeking the Lord’s will and a willingness to live out what has already been revealed to them.

Those who want to WITNESS as Jesus did must point out the Lord is looking for the worshipers who approach God through his spirit, to attain a closeness and intimacy with God–a new relationship.

TRUE WORSHIP is when the spirit, the immortal and invisible part of oneself, speaks to and meets God, who is immortal and invisible (William Barclay).

This study in John chapter four is but a GUIDE towards your making connections in your community.  Simply use what you have already been given and He will make the way for you to WITNESS for Jesus.

God has a DIVINE APPOINTMENT for you to keep–be ready and willing to keep it!!

 


CREDITS:

Photos & Map – Google image search.

The New Testament Meaning of “Witness” [Founders – by Ernest Reisinger]

Bible translations as noted in the text.

 

 

 

Where is God when things go wrong?

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TEXT for this Blog: Habakkuk 2:1-20

This weeks blog-post all began with a question my nephew-in-law proposed.  He was commenting on and trying to get a discussion started on Facebook.  Now there’s a challenge.

The QUESTION:  “If God is real, why would he create us to watch us destroy ourselves and the world?”

It was interesting to read some of the comments and answers to his question–which in turn, prompted me to search out answers found in God’s Word: Where IS God when things seem to be deteriorating all around us?

When you ask a question, what do you want?  

I know what I want–I want an answer!  Not only that, I am fussy.  I would like the right answer as well!!

In the Book of Habakkuk, we notice right away, there is a DIALOGUE going on between the prophet and God.  In today’s religious circles, we might call it, CONVERSATIONAL PRAYER (I do, anyhow).

We can plainly see that Habakkuk is looking for ANSWERS from God.  As he watches the faithlessness of his nation’s people, he wonders why God doesn’t change it.

So, HABAKKUK complains about God’s seeming lack of concern.

But…

IN CONTEXT– When the prophet COMPLAINS of God’s INACTIVITY, God gives him an ANSWER that distresses him even more.

JUDGMENT!!!

God is going to send the wicked nation of Babylon as an instrument of judgment.  Now that is definitely NOT the answer Habakkuk was looking for.

In fact, he finds it hard to believe that God would use an even more sinful and evil people to establish His righteousness (Do you know any people, leaders who you think could be evil?).

For Habakkuk, this seems inconsistent.  It doesn’t make sense.  But he doesn’t give up on God.

Learning to Wait!

WATCHTOWER
WATCHTOWER

(verse 1):  “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the rampart; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” [N.I.V. Bible]

GROWING CONFIDENCE –

Proverbs 3:5  Amplified Bible:  

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

“WATCH” = a military term.

HABAKKUK CONSIDERS HIMSELF A MILITARY MAN THAT LOOKS FAR OFF –

The Need for a Better Perspective–

At this point, Habakkuk is reserving any more comment until he understands.  For as confusing as he thought God’s INACTIVITY was, His ACTIVITY is even more confusing.

So Habakkuk comes to the conclusion that not ALL WORKINGS of God can be understood by our own reasoning.  He would agree with Solomon when he wrote:

“TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART

AND LEAN NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING.”

HABAKKUK MOVES TO THE HIGH TOWER –

What a great vantage point in getting yourself above and away from the world’s distractions.  Habakkuk is no longer doing all the talking–he’s listening!  He is no longer arguing–“Why not?”–“What for?”–he is submitting.

So…

God Responds to Habakkuk’s Waiting  (verses 2-3)…

“And the LORD answered me and said, Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by.  For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint.  Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day.”

God wants His ANSWER to be permanently recorded because… of future generations who are going to read it (or, should read it).

God says, ‘Mark my words!  Mark it down!’

I love God’s last statement.  Oh, how impatient we get for answers to our prayers.  God literally says, “Though it delay…it will not delay.”

Simply put; Though the timing is not ours…it is not a delay in God’s timing.  He is in control!!!  There are not random circumstances.

Our CONFIDENCE on Display –

How can we become CONFIDENT in our asking?

GOD IS MERCIFUL:

God gives us a contrast here in Scripture:  BABYLON thinks that they are powerful, but in reality, foolish.

God wants us living by FAITH–

It is not what I do that puts me in right standing with God; I will never be good enough.  But instead, I need to LIVE A LIFE of Dependence on God.

– WE MAKE IT BY FAITH.

– WE MAKE IT LIVING IN ASSURANCE of God’s Grace.

When we are not living by FAITH, God, in His MERCY will go to extraordinary means to get us there!  I don’t know about you, but that sure gives me CONFIDENCE!!

God is always working for our best.  The truth is, however, when God works for our best interest, often we go through a very painful process of acknowledging the TRUTH.

AN “ALLIGATOR STORY” –

It takes DISCIPLINE going through the process…

Several years ago on a hot summer day in south Florida, a little boy decided to go for a 1437516296_0ccededa8aswim in an old swimming hole behind his house.

Being in a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind his shoes, socks, and shirt on the floor.

He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an ALLIGATOR was swimming toward the shore.

His mother–in the house was looking out the window–saw the scene unfolding before her eyes.  In utter fear, she ran toward the water yelling to her son as loudly as she could.

Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed, making a U-turn to swim to his mother.

IT WAS TOO LATE!

Just as he reached her, the ALLIGATOR reached him.

From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by his arms, just as the ALLIGATOR snatched his legs.  The incredible tug-of-war began.

The ALLIGATOR was much stronger but the mother was much to passionate to let go.

A farmer happened to drive by and heard her screams.  He raced from his truck, took aim, and shot the ALLIGATOR dead!

Remarkably, after weeks in the hospital care, the boy survived.  His legs were extremely scarred and on his arms, were deep scratches from his mother’s fingernails that .dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved.

A newspaper reporter interviewed the boy after the trauma and asked if he would show him his scars.  The boy lifted his pant legs.  And then, with obvious pride, said to the reporter,  “But look at my arms.  I have great scars on my arms, too.  I have them because my Mom wouldn’t let go!”

We Have Scars, Too!

Some of those scars are from our own foolishness because they are unsightly, causing deep regret.

But some wounds are because of God, in His Mercy, has refused to let go!  He will go through extraordinary means to get us where we need to be, even if it’s PAINFUL.

WE CAN BE CONFIDENT BECAUSE GOD IS MORAL (verses 5-19) –

(verse 14):  “But [the time is coming when] the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

God desires to REVEAL Himself…

As we know Him better, we discover He is holy!

When we know God, we understand HIS STANDARD.  He is a holy God and rightly condemns SIN.

Throughout this section of Chapter 2, we find the description of SIN as practiced and lived by the nation of BABYLON.

God is telling HABAKKUK that He knows they’re bad–they are evil.  And yet, God’s own people were headed down the same PATH.

God hast to stop them, discipline them. get them back where they belong…LIVING BY FAITH!  They needed to be a people who live by faith!!  (2 Cor. 5:7; Eph. 2:8; Heb. 11:6).

So…

GOD REVEALS THE FAITHLESS PATHS THAT THE COUNTRY IS ON:

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HEADING DOWN THE WRONG PATH IN OUR LIVES:

THE PATH of GREED (5-8):

Babylon is never satisfied.  It is always gathering and collecting for itself; It makes itself rich carrying out material pursuits in a way that shuts out all other concerns.

THE PATH OF INJUSTICE (9-11):

I found it interesting in my studying, the verses that the road from righteousness changed direction to a path of wickedness.  A Nation full of people who are outraged by the SIN around them.  And yet, they’re still characterized by INJUSTICE because they tolerate the SIN that is within them.  They not only sin against others, but also sin against themselves.

This is the type of INJUSTICE that is spoken of here:

It’s the breaking of one’s own MORAL CODE.

A PATH OF SENSUALITY (15):

HEARTS that are adrift in sexual permissiveness–

There exist a carelessness in the society during Habakkuk time; of sexual activity, instead of seeing it in its proper sacred place (Sound familiar?).

Finally, the PATH is one of…

DOWN THE ROAD OF IDOLATRY (18-19):

SIN doesn’t go unpunished (verse 16)–

Babylon was serving the creature rather the Creator.

They sought their own substitute which demonstrated their own ignorance of REALITY–

– It was a god of their own making…

– It was a god in their own image…

Yes, there were deliberate failures made when it came down to God’s standards, but they too would learn.  SIN doesn’t go unpunished.

And this was the message that God has for Babylon (16):

“You will be filled with shame and contempt instead of glory…”

Their own SIN will find them out!  God is going to have the last Word!!

GOING DOWN THE RIGHT PATH gives the confidence we need:

WE CAN FIND CONFIDENCE IN GOD BECAUSE HE IS MAJESTIC (20)

Note the end of God’s  MESSAGE to HABAKKUK in verse 20:

“But the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth hush and keep silence before Him.”

GOD is very present!!!

– IN HIM WE LIVE & MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING!

We may try to shut Him out, ignoring His purposes over our own.  THE FACT remains–GOD IS THE WITH-US GOD!

WORSHIP IS FOR GOD ALONE –

We continue to be creative in searching for the answers we seem so desperately need in our daily lives.

Perhaps, we are more spiritual in following certain preachers religiously.

Perhaps it is PLEASURE that we really worship or the accumulation of things, with the thinking that, “He who dies with the most toys…wins.”

If you wonder in your WORSHIP, and realize that God is in His holy temple–

CONFIDENCE BUILDERS FOUND IN WORSHIP:

The Lord our Creator, our Redeemer, and the self-existing, everlasting, un-caused cause lives…

No one makes Him…

He’s not a conceived and developed concept…

He is not controllable or manipulated…

In Majesty, He reigns.

WORSHIP IS FOR GOD ALONE, EVEN WHEN WE DON’T UNDERSTAND HIM.  

SO…

Where is God when things seem to be going wrong?  When it’s not going the way we expected…

It is time to trust; time to live by FAITH…  

For…this is how the JUST live out their lives, they LIVE BY FAITH and not by sight!

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CREDITS:

Photo Credits by,  Photo Pin & Google Search – Images; Melinda Todd (Isaiah 45:2).

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

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