HOPE OVERFLOWING!

BIBLE STUDY TEXT:  ROMANS 15:4-13

imagesThere are probably some who are reading this BLOG ON HOPE that is not feeling a lot of Hope in your life right now.  Maybe on different occasions, you have had your Hope built up in things and they let you down.  Trust me, I’ve experienced this almost rehabilitating feeling in my own life in the past.

Maybe you have had your HOPE IN THE WRONG THINGS.

Maybe you have had your HOPE IN GOD, but what you expected God to do, didn’t happen.

Maybe you have lost HOPE or afraid to put your HOPE in anything for the fear of being disappointed.

Hopefully, this Bible Study in Paul’s Letter to the church in Rome will give you or someone you know to live in HOPE, because HOPE is absolutely essential for LIFE and FOR LIVING!

ILLUSTRATION: Wharf Rats Drowning.

I was reading this week about this experiment by some behavioral scientists did once with some rats.  They put some WHARF RATS in a tank of water, observed them, seeing how long they would survive before drowning.  The average time was 17 minutes.  Then, they repeated the experiment, but this time they “RESCUED” the rats just before the point of drowning, dried them off and returned them to their cages, fed them and let them play for a few days, then repeated the drowning experiment.

This time, the average survival time for these same rats increased from 17 minutes to 36 hours!  The scientists explained by pointing out the second time around the rats had hope.  They believed that they could survive this because they had done so before.  [See Footnote [i] ]

HOPE ETERNAL – 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV):

[3] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  [4] and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.  This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.

NOW THAT IS AWESOME!  Awesome that we have that LIVING HOPE when we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, believing in Him.

And how can we forget Jesus’ words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever BELIEVES in him shall not perish but have eternal life”  (John 3:16).

We have this ETERNAL LIFE, not based on what we do, but solely based upon our BELIEF in and receiving of Jesus Christ.

LIVING IN THIS “HOPE” THROUGH HIS WORD!

Romans 15:4 (NLT):

[4] Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us.  And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

Through reading God’s Word on a daily basis, we can see and are taught how God has been faithful to His people, even in the middle of difficult circumstances.

God IS Faithful!

In 1985, my family was going through some “difficult circumstances”, in that I had lost my management job due to a company buyout.  Although we had food and shelter, other necessities were going to have to wait until I could get back on my feet with new employment.

The church we were attending at the time had mail slots for each member that hung on a back wall in the foyer.  Special bulletins, upcoming meeting notices, and anything else that needed to be circulated in accordance with church activities.

One Sunday morning, proceeding to check for mail, in the designated slot there was a white legal-sized envelope with our last name on the face.  I curiously opened the envelope and found an unsigned note paper clipped to a hundred-dollar bill that read,  “Buy some clothes for the kids, or yourselves…something personal to enjoy and not on bills!”

It is through reading His Word that our circumstances don’t necessarily change, but that He gives us strength and encouragement to stand in the HOPE that we have.

Earlier in Paul’s letter to the Romans (5:2-5). through His Word, we’re reminded of His PROMISE.

romans-5_2-5

Through His Word, we are told of God’s FAITHFULNESS to past generations.

Through His Word, we can be encouraged to live in HOPE, while rejoicing in our trials and sufferings.

GOD HELPS US TO LIVE DAILY IN HOPE…

Not only does He help us in our HOPE through His Word, but also, God helps us live in HOPE through His church (15:5-11 NIV):

[5] May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had,  [6] so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[7] Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.  [8] For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and  [9] and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.  As it is written:

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.”

[10] Again it says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”

[11]  And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.”

Paul talks about having a spirit of UNITY and the ACCEPTANCE of people as the Lord accepted us.

Sometimes we can confuse being “accepting” with condoning sin.  The Jewish Christians were struggling with the Gentile Christians with what they had to do to be part of the church.

  • Did they have to get circumcised?
  • Did they adhere to the dietary laws?
  • If they didn’t, could they really be part of the community of FAITH?

All these differences could destroy the church in the building up of the believers in HOPE.

But Paul tells the Jewish Christians that God has ALWAYS declared that He would bring the Gentiles to FAITH.

And notice how the apostle quotes from the Historical Books–the LAW, the WRITINGS, and the PROPHETS to make his point to the Jewish Christians that God’s plan was always to include the Gentiles so they should accept them too!

So God helps us through His Word and through His church, reminding us of the HOPE we have, but at the same time, we must remember OUR HOPE is only found in His Son.

HOPE IS ONLY FOUND THROUGH JESUS CHRIST (Romans 15:12):

“The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him, the Gentiles will hope.”

Titus 2:11-14

word-of-the-week-titus-2-infographic

Standing In That HOPE

I love Natalie Grant’s song lyrics that came to mind while studying the verses:

IN CHRIST ALONE-

In Christ alone, my hope is found

He is my light, my strength, my song.

This Cornerstone, this solid ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease.

My Comforter, my All in All

Here in the love of Christ, I stand.

GOD gives us OVERFLOWING HOPE through His Spirit (v. 15:13):

[13] May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may OVERFLOW with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.

cup-overflowing

It is through the indwelling Holy Spirit that those who TRUST in Jesus have, that our HOPE cannot just help us endure, but that it can OVERFLOW from our lives and we can thrive with that overflowing HOPE!

But you might be thinking, “Isn’t the ‘overflowing’ of anything a big waste?  When I overflow my car’s gasoline tank at the gas station, it always leaves a big mess!”

Not in this case.

As the Holy Spirit FILLS you with HOPE as you grow in FAITH through the Word, through the fellowship of other believers, through having your eyes fixed on Jesus and the SALVATION He has given you now, along with the INHERITANCE that never perishes, never spoils or fades, kept in HEAVEN for you…THAT HOPE you have, OVERFLOWS, spilling on to others around you!

As you interact with others in this world and live in the HOPE that you have, and speak to them of the HOPE that you have, it OVERFLOWS so that they want what you have in their life.

While you endure and persevere in difficult circumstances, the HOPE OF GLORY that the people see will want what you have even if that means their circumstances are not great.  That’s because HOPE is essential to life and to living.

If you have great circumstances in life but no HOPE, you really won’t be living!

All we have to do is look at so many famous people walking down the Red Carpet, who seem to have all kinds of great circumstances, but struggle with LIFE & LIVING.

CONCLUSION –

Do you have HOPE today?  Is your HOPE, an overflowing hope?

Have you trusted Christ as Savior?

If not, then that’s the step into HOPE you need to take!

But if you have TRUSTED Him, and not experiencing the HOPE He gives, then maybe you are not taking advantage of the things He has given us to help us to LIVE in that Hope.

Get in His Word!

Connect with a body of believers, in REAL RELATIONSHIPS, through Bible studies and serving in the community.

And as God POURS OUT that HOPE in you, SHARE that and experience the OVERFLOW HOPE of the Holy Spirit as He uses you and me to SERVE His kingdom.

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Bible Translations:  The New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Footnote [i]:  The Remarkable Power of Hope by Joseph T. Hallinan, Psychology Today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Congregation of Two

TEXT: Luke 24:13-35 – The Events After the Resurrection

An EMPTY Tomb
An EMPTY Tomb

This last week during my morning bible reading, I decided to read in the first four Gospels [Matthew, Mark, Luke and John] the Scriptures pertaining to the DEATH, BURIAL, RESURRECTION of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  I tried to place myself in that time frame–observing the events of Holy Week:  Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

The evidence was plain–or was it?  How would I have reacted, and how strong would my faith have been on that particular Sunday morning?

I hoped that I would have been a “on fire” disciple/follower of Jesus–not doubting, strong in the words and teachings of my Teacher.

Or, would I have been disappointed in His death–His burial in a borrowed empty tomb–certainly not accomplishing and fulfilling the things I thought Jesus came to do.

With all those thoughts buried in my thoughts and imagination, I decided to re-read the events that took place AFTER the Resurrection.

THE EMMAUS TWO AND THE UNSEEN STRANGER –

ROAD TO EMMAUS
ROAD TO EMMAUS

I am almost certain, you’ve all heard this story in the Gospel of Luke before–based on what happened on a 7-mile walk from Jerusalem.  It is the very heart of the Gospel which highlights the LIVING HOPE found only in the RESURRECTION of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul wrote to his friends at Corinth…

“If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.  But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who are asleep”  (1 Corinthians 15:19, 20 NASB).

But on that first Easter day, that LIVING HOPE was far from being established in the experience of two people mentioned in Luke 24:13-35.

We’ve just celebrated together Resurrection Sunday 2015.  Let’s try to put ourselves in their shoes for a time as they set out on their 7-mile journey.

IT WAS A HEARTBREAKING EXPERIENCE –

Have you ever noticed that some of the saddest words in our language begin with the letter D?  For example: disappointment; doubt; disillusionment; defeat; despair AND death.  All are summed up in the words of CLEOPAS and his companion to the stranger who joined them on the Emmaus road.  They had left the events of Good Friday behind them, yet what had occurred was still fresh in their memories.

Does that happen to you? It does me.  I try to put disappointing events that happened in the past behind me–don’t want to talk about them, don’t want to relive them and then all of a sudden, I replay the entire scenario to someone else.  I keep picking the scab over and over again and the wound never seems to heal over.

The News Reports Were In– 

Christ’s tomb was empty and did nothing to alter their thinking, it only confused them.

The congregation of two summed up the situation neatly in Luke 24:21:  “we were hoping that it was He Who would redeem and set Israel free.”

HUMAN HOPE is a fragile thing, and when it shrivels up, it’s difficult to revive.  HOPELESSNESS as a disease of the human spirit is hard to rewire.

Sickness overtakes someone you love, it goes on and on–you pray for a cure, your friends pray for a cure, and despair sets in. It becomes almost impossible to HOPE for recovery; even afraid to HOPE because of not being able to cope with another letdown.

The Emmaus Two–

This congregation of two men, created a wall of HOPELESSNESS around them, entrapped in their own misery.  We had hoped…” BUT…

What they were saying is, “We don’t expect it now, but we once did.  We had it, this thing called HOPE, but now it’s gone.”

Has something or someone come between your relationship with God?  If so, take in the words of the Emmaus story because the heart-breaking experience was only the beginning!

The Travelers Made Their Weary Journey Home–

A child's Sunday School class drawing
A child’s Sunday School class drawing

A stranger suddenly accompanied them along the way.  It was going to be one of the most wonderful walks in history!  We know, of course, it was the risen Jesus, but somehow these Jesus followers didn’t have a clue who He was.  In fact Luke tells us “they were kept from recognizing Him.”

They weren’t allowed to recognize Him for a purpose.  It was so that they might be in the same position as the church some 2,000 years later.

The stranger starts the conversation by asking a question:  “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?”  (verse 17).  So they poured out their sad story to someone who seemed so willing to listen.

The way Jesus dealt with the situation is a lesson for us–to help those who have lost HOPE.  They NEED companionship–they NEED a listening ear before a stream of “good advice.”

Let’s LOVE them by LISTENING, accepting the way they feel.  The last thing they need is a brisk “cheering up” talk or being told to “snap out of the funk.” There will be a time later to point them to a way of HOPE, to the One in whom HOPE is to be found.

But first things first.  They need someone just like you to listen to their story–someone who has “skin on.”

THE HEART-SEARCHING EXPERIENCE –

The congregation of two spokesman, Cleopas, expressed surprise by being asked what was worrying them,  “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?”  (verse 18).

There seems to me a note of suspicion in the voice of Cleopas, but Jesus continues patiently and innocently asks,

“What things?”  

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.  “who was a prophet…”

Notice in verse 19, they said,  “He was…” past tense.  Their experience of Jesus was in the past, thinking they were alone in the world.  The CROSS had taken Him from them.

We’ve all heard exciting testimonies of what JESUS has done in their past–but what about the present?  The past is history.

The question we all must face, is JESUS “a present bright reality” to those who give their experience to you and me?  Do we always recognize Him beside us?

LIFE has many distractions:

HARD WORK–ROUTINE–TIREDNESS–BAD HEALTH–

All can grind us down to carry us on mechanically, never lifting our eyes or minds from the dust of the road we’re traveling on.

We become unaware of the GLORY and STRENGTH found in His presence with us.

“I love To Tell The Story…of JESUS and His love” – [An Old Hymn]

THIS STORY in Luke can give us HOPE that JESUS is still there.  He’s the UNSEEN “STRANGER”, walking with us, listening to us and, if we’re willing to hear His voice, revealing Himself to us.

THE CONGREGATION OF TWO–

JESUS took their sorrow, their bewilderment and gave them a heart-ing experience.  How did Jesus do that?  He pointed them to GOD’S WORD–The Scriptures.

Luke tells us in verse 27, 

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was said in ALL the Scriptures concerning Himself.”

What? The Old Testament? Yes!

JESUS must have given the EMMAUS TRAVELLERS the greatest Old Testament explanation in history–to A Congregation of Two.

What a wonderful anticipation of Jesus at Calvary as He shared Old Testament revelation: the fall of mankind; the apparently victorious Satan in the form of a serpent– told that the SEED, the offspring of the woman “will crush your head and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

The problem for the disciples was how to make sense of the CROSS, how to accept it.  Jesus helped them do that, showing them that the CROSS itself was the creative act of God.

THE CROSS of SHAME & SUFFERING had become the CROSS OF REDEMPTION for all who would come to Jesus in repentance and faith.

cross-steps-to-peace-photo-604x270

When Jesus arrives on the scene of our lives, He’s probing our thoughts; it’s the PURPOSE of blessing us.  But how do we respond?  Do we, like the two disciples from Emmaus, welcome His approach in letting Him minister to us?

Sometimes the things He points out are uncomfortable.  Do we really want Him to keep looking and explaining what previously baffled us?

Cleopas and his companion accepted the gentle rebuke that Jesus made,  “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken”  (verse 25).

Maybe, the key word here is “ALL”.  It wasn’t that they hadn’t read the prophets of old, but perhaps they’d read the Scriptures selectively…out of context…concentrating on those parts that spoke of a conquering Messiah–being kind to His enemies–be victorious.

The passages that spoke of a suffering servant didn’t fit with their expectation and they’d tended to skip over those parts.

When they now were given the explanation from the Scriptures they reacted positively, and in fact they wanted more, which led them to…

A HEART SEARCHING EXPERIENCE –

The two-hour journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus seemed like five minutes on that Sunday.  So wrapped-up in conversation with the Lord they hadn’t yet recognized Him.

Luke tells in VERSE 28:  “And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He would go further.”

JESUS is so gentle with us.  He won’t force Himself where He’s not really wanted as He awaited their invitation to come in.

God gives the world the greatest and most precious GIFT, the Gift Of Free Will–we can use it to invite JESUS into our hearts and souls or…allow Him to pass on.

God gave a test to the Congregation of Two to see if the disciples had more appetite of the things of God.  And they did.  We are told,  And they urged Him, saying “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over”  (verse 29).

That’s the sort of INVITATION that Jesus can’t resist:  “And He went in to stay with them.”  

A basic meal was quickly made ready for their guest.  The bread is on the table and the moment for Jesus’ reveal has come.  How does JESUS do it?

“He took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and

began to give it to them.”

THE ACTION of the breaking of the bread–

They saw His hands–they were different from the breaking of the bread and feeding of the Five Thousand, and the Last Supper.  They were the nail-pierced hands of JESUS.  In an instant they knew Him.  And in an instant, He’s gone!

Why did Jesus have to disappear at that moment?  Couldn’t the Lord stayed longer?

He could have but He didn’t because all part of the education, the continued teaching was to last 40 Days on Earth–how to manage without His bodily presence from now on; exactly the same as we have to do some 2,000 years after.

But JESUS is with us still by His Spirit.  He is with us as we fellowship with Him in WORSHIP, and in OBEDIENCE to His command, remembering Him in the “breaking of bread” service.

Christ Is Risen From The Dead!

Christ is the SAVIOR!  Christ is the HOPE of the world!

The TWO DISCIPLES in this story lost no time in retracing their steps to Jerusalem (yes, another 7 miles!) in excitement to SHARE the Good News.  May that be our experience after Resurrection Sunday and for the rest of our life.


BLOG CREDITS:

BIBLE TRANSLATION FOR THIS POST:  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

PHOTO CREDITS (Various): Photo Pin; Google Search Images and OTHER saved photos.

Sermon Notes: Owen Bourgaize Emmaus Experience.

Are You SEARCHIN’ FOR DIRECTION IN YOUR LIFE?

2173653553_20a8c4041a
SEARCHING FOR DIRECTION IN LIFE?

One of my favorite singers of the past, was the late Dusty Springfield along with Dionne Warwick: Wishin’ and Hopin’ and Thinkin’ and Prayin‘. What was the lyricist “prayin'” for?  To find, search for LOVE, perhaps in all the wrong places?  Perhaps, but in doing so, frustration must have set in to the “thinkin”.

My search for some answers, begins with finding and knowing God’s will in my life; the search for direction–thus, the question presented in the title for this weeks BLOG.  Not in your life necessarily, but in mine.  Hopefully. in reading this post, you will find and know God’s will more clearly in your life too!

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but how much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose”  (Philippians 2:12-13 NIV Bible).

DOING GOD’S WILL WITH A SMILE –

Before doing God’s will…we need to know before the “doing”, “HOW DO I KNOW WHAT GOD’S WILL IS in any given situation of my life?”

The answer I found, isn’t really complicated.  There are steps in the process like everything else in life.

We live in a “I want it now society”, and patience in knowing, is not a virtue of ours.  Yeah, we might know the words found in Galatians 5:22-23 (“THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT”)…love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…but living with them, applying Holy Spirit’s gifts…that’s not something most of us seek on a daily basis.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t…just, most of us don’t!

FINDING THE ANSWERS IN THE RIGHT PLACES:

How can we find the WILL OF GOD for our lives?  If we don’t follow God’s will for us, we will pay a heavy price in facing the negative consequences.

GOD wants to know His will for your life–

If you’re NOT a believer in Jesus Christ, NOT placed in a saving faith in Him, you’re out of the will of God!  He desires that ALL come to repentance, faith, and to be born-again.

GOD’S WORD:

Psalm 40:8:  “To do your will, O my God, is my desire; your law is within my heart.”

“LAW” (or His Word) = WILL OF GOD.

Example:  We know through reading the Word of God that marrying an unbeliever is NOT God’s will for our lives (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).  God tells us in His Word, ‘Don’t get the cart before the horse’ in new relationships in dating.  Your desires may just precede God’s desire in your life.  And that’s not His will.

THE FIRST and PRIMARY WAY of knowing God’s will for your life…

You are unsure in making an important decision in your family; changing jobs, changing locations because of your job, financial commitments, and you don’t know where to find the answers in your Bible.

If you don’t know where to find your particular circumstance in God’s Word, and don’t have a BIBLE CONCORDANCE, invest in one.  SEARCH for it in God’s Word.  IMPATIENCE might just lead you in the wrong direction.

 1.  God wants us to be WHOLE and NOT SICK…

[2] And behold, a leper came up to Him (JESUS) and, prostrating himself, worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You are able to cleanse me by curing me.    [3] And He reached out His hand and touched him, saying,  “I am willing; be cleansed by being cured.  And instantly his leprosy was cured and cleansed  (Matthew 8:2-3 AMP).

2.  Knowing God’s Will for us is Not to be Poor and in Debt…

More than Enough!
More than Enough!

God wants us to have enough so our needs are met and we give to others in return.

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the servant to the lender”  (Proverbs 22:7).

God’s Word also tells us, to those who might be struggling making ends meet in this economy, one reason why He sent His Son into this world:

[JESUS speaking] …I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”  (John 10:10 AMP).

The “overflow” is much more than “just enough”!

3.   GOD doesn’t want us to be DEPRESSED:

HIS WILL for us is to be happy (to “enjoy life”), full of joy!  (Philippians 4:4)

“REJOICE in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice!”

THE NEW ROGET’S THESAURUS, definesDEPRESSION” – dishearten, dejection, lowness, worthlessness.  

If you are feeling in a state of constant depression right now…it’s NOT God’s will for your life!

The general will of God is clearly specified in the Word of God for us.  But just knowing where to find thee TRUTH and not claiming and receiving God’s will for our life is another.

So, how can we know the specifics, the details of GOD’S WILL?  Our Bible doesn’t tell us which job to take, doesn’t tell us who to marry, even if we are following God’s will.  E.g., disciples in the boat–“Let us go over to the other side.”

4.  Through the PEACE OF GOD:

“Let the PEACE OF CHRIST rule in your hearts, since members of one body, you were called to peace.  And be thankful”  (Colossians 3:15 NIV).

“RULE” =  “BRABEUO” (Greek word)  [Footnote [i] ].

This verb is found only in this verse and expresses the underlying sense of “having the role of greatest influence.”  The Amplified Bible says PEACE, [“acts as umpire continually”.]

Just as every sport that has disputes, they must be settled by the officials, the PEACE OF GOD as the umpire, settling all disputes as to what the will of God is for our lives.

THE PEACE OF GOD is always “umpiring” in our hearts, but we don’t always pay attention to it.  Sometimes, we even go against the PEACE of God in our hearts.

As you sit in the presence of God, be still, take a “time out”, consider all the options, discerning the will of God by the PEACE given to your heart (Psalm 46:10).

5.  DISCERNING correctly what the Lord is trying to tell us–

Lining the Lights Up…

Aligning Things Up!
Aligning Things Up!

There was a certain harbor that was treacherous and dangerous to enter.  In order for the captain to guide his ship safely into the harbor, he had to be attentive to three lights used to guide him.  When all three lights lined up as one, he knew it was safe to proceed.  Then, and only then, would he bring his ship safely to port.

As we seek GUIDANCE, we too have to be attentive to “THREE LIGHTS”…to guide us into the harbor of His will:

~ The WORD of God,

~  Our outward circumstances,

~  Our inner conviction.

When all three of these Lights line up, we can then proceed with assurance, of being led safely into the harbor.

6.  God’s Will Revealed Through the Word of Knowledge and Prophecy:

“To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit”  (1 Corinthians 12:8 AMP).

“…to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones]”  (1 Corinthians 12:10).

WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL with this!  Whatever is being revealed should be tested and consistent with the Word of God.  We shouldn’t take others words blindly, but we ourselves should test what the other person has said in respect to what God says (His will) from His Word (Scripture).

God does speak through audible voices sometimes (friends and family).  We have to DISCERN whether we’re listening to God’s voice, or someone elses.

Good intentions…

If we are receiving a word of knowledge or prophecy from a person, we should know and make sure that particular person that’s speaking to our issue is living a godly life too.

But it is possible for some true servants of God to NOT LISTEN to the Lord correctly.  In that case, they should tell you clearly they are not sure.

PROPHECY is not fortune-telling.  We’ve got to be careful of this.

“What should we DO to know God’s will for our life?”

Romans 12:1-2 KJV:

[Verse 1]  “I BESEECH you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your responsible service.

[Verse 2]  “And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

This “renewing” is not a  one time experience, but a daily reminder in every decision and circumstance we face in our lives.  In order TO KNOW GOD’S WILL, we need to…

OFFER OUR BODY (who your are in your spirit–our whole being) as a LIVING SACRIFICE, living holy lives.

KING DAVID came upon the scene of a threshing floor of a Jebusite by the name of Araunah as commanded by the Lord.  When Araunah saw the king coming, he went out and bowed himself down before the king.

Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”  And David said, “To purchase the threshing floor from you; to build there an altar to the Lord.”

What Araunah did next seemed to me a honoring gesture as he offered the king everything he had for the altar of sacrifice–of worship and praise.

But David refused the offer in saying to Araunah,  “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my GOD of that which cost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24).

“What’s that particular story have to do with knowing God’s Will for my life?  There is never an offering, a sacrifice of worship, praise or anything else that doesn’t cost you something.  After paying the price, according to God’s Will in the circumstances, David made the offering.  He knew God’s will in this matter because of the Word of his LORD GOD.

The RESULTS OF KNOWING and APPLYING THE STEPS:  

So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and Israel’s plague was stayed.”  (verse 25).

PHILIPPIANS 2:13:

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”

GOD gives us the DESIRE to do His will and…He also enables us to do His will.

ILLUSTRATION:

A young man entered his church one Sunday morning where he started praying before the service began.  He was so anxious to find God’s will for his life that he took out a piece of paper he kept in his bible, writing down all the things he was going to do for God.

He started to PRAY that God might revel to him whether these promises were acceptable to Him.

God whispered in his ear, “This is not the way I want you to find My will.  All I want of you is for you to sign your name and leave the paper blank for Me to fill in.”

 

 

Footnotes:

[i]  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

Photo Credit:

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Our Umbrella of “Goshen”

TEXT:  John 17:11-19 NAS TRANSLATION.

Jesus is praying to the Father in behalf of His disciples, saying  [11] “And I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are IN the world, and I come to Thee, Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are.  [12] “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Thy name which Thou hast given Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.  [13] “But now I come to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy made full in themselves.  [14] “I have given them Thy word; and the world hated them, because they are not OF the world, even as I am not OF the world.  [15] “I do not ask Thee to take them OUT OF THE WORLD, but to keep them from the evil one.  [16] “They are NOT OF THE WORLD, even as I am not of the world.  [17] “SANCTIFY them in truth; Thy word is truth.  [18] “As Thou didst send Me into the world, I have also sent them into the world.  [19] “And for their sakes I sanctify MYSELF, THAT THEY THEMSELVES ALSO MAY BE SANCTIFIED IN TRUTH.” 

6307059684_4f7747965cTHE UMBRELLA’S PROTECTION:

Living in the Northwest of America, you almost get use to the weather.  Well, almost!  Although I keep an UMBRELLA in the trunk of my car, the old saying in this part of the land when seeing an umbrella is,  “The must be a tourist!”.  After all, you can’t live under the protection of an UMBRELLA all the time.  Or can you?

In John, notice what JESUS says in verse 15:

“My prayer is NOT that you take them out of the world…”  ~ John 17:15.

JESUS didn’t want the Father to lock us up in Fort Knox; gold protected by steel, concrete, bobbed-wire, security guards,  impenetrable to the outside world.

Back in the Old Testament…

GOD did provide the protection needed for the Israelites.  The Book of Genesis tells us God went to a great deal of trouble to send the people of Israel down to Egypt in the days of Joseph.  Granted there were 70 or so of them at the time, but once Jacob and his sons moved to Egypt, they were given a special land called “the land of Goshen.”  That’s where they lived for the next 430 years or so.

The Land of Goshen
The Land of Goshen

Isolation–

Israel was literally isolated from the rest of the world– sheltered, protected from the influence of paganism and the outside world.  They had limited contact with their Egyptian neighbors and hosts; Egyptians were vegetarians, where the Israelites were meat eaters.  GOD created a cultural barrier of the two people s.

Now GOD could have done the same with us today…

Once we’re BAPTIZED into Christ Jesus, GOD could have whisked us away to some isolated and exotic land.  Personally, I pick an island in the Caribbean.

It would be wonderful for GOD to just take us away from this world’s temptations and lusts.  To a tropical paradise where we would sing praises for the rest of our lives.

BUT, that’s NOT what GOD had in mind.  JESUS prayed that we would NOT be taken “out of this world.”

JESUS prayed that we NOT be physically ISOLATED from people around us.

As Christians, God intended us to LIVE IN this world…but NOT OF this world.  As Peter wrote that we are to live “as aliens and strangers in the world.”  (1 Peter 2:11).

God has entrusted a very SPECIAL MINISTRY once we’re SAVED!

We are to be “the salt of the earth”; “the light of the world”–

GOD saved us to represent Him as Christ’s Ambassadors right where we are.  But there is a danger in that.  We might become like our neighbors–WATCH THE SAME MOVIES; READ THE SAME BOOKS; LISTEN TO THE SAME MUSIC.

The DANGER for Christians…since we LIVE IN the world, we might become LIKE the world and think like the world.  The apostle Paul warns us in Ephesians 4:17-20:  

This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,  being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart,  and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.  But you did not learn Christ in this way.

So if that’s the DANGER and GOD isn’t going to isolate us from temptation, how does GOD protect us under His umbrella as JESUS prayed in John 17?

SANCTIFICATION: 

“SANCTIFICATION” is a $20 word meaning “being set apart”.

Examples:

When you are attending church, you might have recognized people sitting in the “sound booth”; they, are “sanctified.”  They are “set apart” from the rest of us.

When your pastor is up on the stage preaching…“sanctified” from the congregation; set apart.

Anyone who is SEPARATED from the rest of us is “SET APART” and are SANCTIFIED.

A Powerful Tool…

Now as simple as it sounds, God has given us SANCTIFICATION, as protection under His Umbrella.  It’s the setting ourselves apart from the rest of the world while living IN the world, allowing us to be God’s servants to those around us.

THE FREEDOM OF BEING A SERVANT:

Your car is a wonderful thing.

– It helps you to go to church,  the grocery store,  a friend’s house, or drive to the country.

Your vehicle gives you almost total freedom to go anywhere, do anything.  But driving a car can also be dangerous.  The force of your car running ahead on into a tree with speeds of 55 or 65 mph; having the effect on your body, as if you were to fall from a 6th or 7th story window to the ground.  I read that it’s not the fall that kills you…it’s the sudden stop.

Over the years, manufacturers have created protection for us from this kind of danger:  Seat belts, Air bags, Bumpers, designs of the chassis allowing the front of your car to absorb most of the impact.  You are literally encased in a metal box that contains all the aforementioned protections and that METAL BOX literally “sanctifies” you while you drive down the road.  You are SET APART from the rest of the world; you are IN the world, but not OF it while you are in the car.

That is what SANCTIFICATION does for us.  When GOD sanctifies us, He “sets us apart” from the dangers of the world.  And when GOD sanctifies us this way…we are FREE to live IN this world, but not OF it.

We’re not locked away in a closet somewhere…we’re not walled off from people around us that need to know the LOVE OF JESUS.  We are FREE to be GOD’s Ambassadors; Servants IN a lost and damaged world.

How Does GOD Sanctify Us?

Here are several ways I discovered where GOD accomplishes this:

—  We are “sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:16)

—  We are “sanctified in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Corinthians 1:2)

And when we become SAVED, we are added to His church that sets us apart–sanctifies us.

LIVING UNDER THE WORD UMBRELLA:

JESUS praying to the Father says in Verse 17:  “Sanctify them by the TRUTH; your word is truth.”  John 17:17.  The word TRUTH is found in your Bible and the Bible is God’s tool to help us to be set apart from the world.

Paul wrote,  “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope”  (Romans 15:4 NIV).

And he told Timothy:  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.  So that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 NIV).

Thus, when we study and take-to-heart GOD’S WORD, His word IN us, teaches and gives us hope.  We become equipped for not just a few, but for every good work.

How can the Bible do all that?

JESUS tells us in the TEXT:  GOD’S WORD SANCTIFIES US….it PROTECTS US.

That was what David wrote about when he said:  “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee”  (Psalm 119:11 NAS).

And in Psalm 119:9, David wrote:  “How can a young man keep his way pure?  By keeping it according to Thy word.”

When we use God’s Word correctly, the Bible becomes a “sanctifying umbrella” for our hearts, our minds and our souls.

God’s Word IS Truth.

We need to be so familiar with God’s TRUTH–you know it, you believe it, you live your life by its counsel.  By contrast, if you don’t guard your heart with God’s given word, you’re prone to be influenced by lies OF the world.  And if you hear those lies enough, you start to believe what the world believes.

PROTECTION COMES WITH A CHOICE:

When Jacob and his family were encouraged to go down to the Land of Goshen, where they would be protected from hunger, plagues, neighboring influences, they must CHOOSE:  Live their lives UNPROTECTED in their current circumstances,  or live PROTECTED under God’s “umbrella” in a foreign land.

Living in the Northwest of America, the rain seems somewhat constant.  You never know whether to make plans or not with RAIN always in the forecasts.  Now you can sit in your homes 365 days of the year; set apart from the elements or you can venture out with preparation.  I CHOOSE to have an UMBRELLA in the trunk of our car, or near an exit door of the house.

With the SANCTIFICATION UMBRELLA close at hand,  I can be IN the world without being OF the world without protection.  The UMBRELLA is God’s Word and it comes with a choice.   Either you can use it, or ignore it!

WHAT IS YOUR CHOICE?

Protection in the Storm
Protection in the Storm