Tagged: Bible study

WHEN WE FORGET THAT GOD NEVER FORGETS

Like many of the psalmists we all have wrestled with the thought that God has forgotten us. 

“If God cared He would do something.”

“Can’t you see what I am facing?”

“If something doesn’t happen, I’m going under.”

In Psalm 77, the writer asks:

7Will the Lord reject forever?  Will he never show his favor again?  8Has his unfailing love vanished forever?  Has his promise failed for all time?  9Has God forgotten to be merciful?  Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

Many times throughout the book of Psalms the writers question God’s awareness of their distress or situation.  It’s human nature, sinful nature, to consider that God is unconcerned about our present condition and future consequences. 

God is never absent or far away, despite what we believe.[1]

The writer goes on to recall the faithfulness of God in times past.  This is helpful for followers of Christ because we too have a history with God.   Because of this, a question can be raised that must be honestly answered:  Based on the past, who is more forgetful, me or God?
forgetful

 

The next time you forget that God never forgets remind yourself of the same truths that the psalmist recalled:

1.       REMEMBER WHERE/WHAT GOD BROUGHT YOU FROM

In verse 10 the psalmist confronts his questioning by remembering the delivering power of God:

“Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.”

I never want to forget how God has changed my life.  Even though now after fourteen years of serving the Lord some of those things that held me captive in times past are very distant, I am determined to recall Gods deliverance from insecurities, addictions, and hopelessness.

Like the lyrics to a song reads:

“When I think about the Lord
How He saved, how He raised me
How He filled me with the Holy Ghost
How He healed me to the uttermost
When I think about the Lord
How he picked me up
Turned me around
How He set my feet on solid ground”

Being reminded of God’s love inspires gratitude and praise which is key to pressing through a trying time or personal conflict.

2.       REMEMBER WHAT GOD HAS DONE

Next, the writer begins to recall all of the great works and miracle the Lord has done throughout His life:

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  12I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

It is encouraging to know that God doesn’t change[2].  This means we can take comfort in knowing that if God did great wonders on our behalf in the past he will still do great things on our behalf in the present.  He even knows our future![3]

Tough times will inevitably come to our life; it’s a fact of life even as Christians, maybe more accurately, especially because of faith[4].  In the midst of these times we have a choice:  Forget the faithfulness of God or remember that He never forgets us. 

 

He is here for you.[5]

 

What trials has God delivered you from?


[1] Psalm 46:1

[2] Hebrews 13:8

[3] Jeremiah 29:11

[4] 1 Peter 4:12

[5] Psalm 46:1

SEEK THE KINGDOM: LIFE AS GOD INTENDED

            Understanding the Kingdom of God is important in the life of the believer, especially considering that Jesus instructed his followers to be concerned about it above everything else.  In addressing the Kingdom of God I will seek to answer two main questions:  1) what is the Kingdom of God? And, 2) why did Jesus instruct us to seek first this Kingdom?  By answering those questions the benefits of the Kingdom of God are revealed.

            While preaching His most famous sermon, Jesus said “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”[1]  This key instruction was given after emphasizing that no one can “serve two masters”[2] and by a series of reminders of Gods faithfulness that is obviously seen in nature.  The conclusion being that if God takes care of those aspects of His creation, how much more will He take care of us.  In this context, another way we could phrase this passage of Jesus’ teaching is, why be concerned with the trivial matters of life when we could be focused on what matters most, the Kingdom of God.

A.      What is the Kingdom of God? 

            The kingdom of God refers to His absolute rule over all things.  Before defining this rule more specifically a couple things should first be understood concerning the kingdom’s existence and how mankind participates in it.

1.      THE KINGDOM HAS ALWAYS BEEN

            The kingdom of God existed before humanity; this is somewhat obvious but important to point out because the kingdom is not man-made or even about us.  Humanity has the privilege of experiencing a kingdom that is far superior to anything we could create or rule, this kingdom is godly and heavenly.  In the beginning chapter of the book of John, understanding can be gained of the eternal rule of the Godhead.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”[3]   Scripture teaches us that life originates with God.  We read of our beginning in the book of Genesis, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”[4]

            Adam and Eve, who were the beginning of mankind, for a time, experienced a life that was full and complete as participants in God’s kingdom, just as He intended when He created them.  When God breathed His Life into Adam consider the transaction that took place.  Rather than beginning with the dilemma of sin mixed within their nature, like we are, Adam and Eve were perfect.  In the same way that a parent naturally passes on certain traits and characteristics to their offspring, I suggest that God passed onto them the fullness of His love, the fruit of His Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”[5]  Life freely flowed from God to his created beings.

2.      SIN AFFECTS HOW AND WHEN MANKIND PARTICIPATES IN THE KINGDOM

            When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, a life-altering shift took place.  Sin entered each of their hearts through disobedience to God.  This event is described beginning in Genesis 2:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”[6]

            When God instructed Adam concerning the tree, He clearly told him that he would die from eating it.  How and why would Adam and Eve die?  Scripturally we understand that life is more than flesh and bones but more importantly spiritual.[7]    Because of this, Adam and Eve would not only die physically but also spiritually.  Later on we read that they actually ate from the tree:

“Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.”[8]

            Ultimately death entered humanity because a disconnect happened between man and Gods Kingdom.  Essentially Adam and Eve unplugged their self from life and power when they ate from the tree.  This is true because life originated[9], and is sustained[10], in/by God and therefore cannot exist without Him.

            Because of this separation between God and mankind the kingdom of God would need to be re-established on the earth.  This has been done through the work of Jesus Christ as he led a perfect life and defeated death and Satan by resurrecting from it.  Throughout scripture a double-meaning is gathered concerning the fulfillment of the kingdom.  In one sense it is already here through Christ’s rule within the believers’ heart[11], and in another the kingdom is yet to be completely established[12]. Or, in other words Gods rule is already taking place but not yet. 

“These two understandings of the kingdom are both truly taught by the Word of God and coexist in a type of already/not yet reality. They are so interwoven that to refer to them as separately is a misstatement; rather, we ought speak of the two aspects of the kingdom as truly a future kingdom that has penetrated the present.”[13]

            In the book Foundations of Pentecostal Theology Duffield and Van Cleave differentiate between the Church and future reign of God:

       “The Church is not identical to the kingdom of God, for the kingdom of larger than the Church.  However, the Church is the present instrument of the kingdom and will inherit the kingdom (Jas. 2:5; 2 Pt. 1:11)”

       “The ultimate kingdom of God will include, not only the Church, but the Old Testament saints, the regathered remnant of Israel, and the righteous nations that will be a part of the millennial reign of Jesus (Mt. 25:32-33; Rv. 20:4; Is. 66:18-23; Jer. 3:16-18; 23:3-6; 31:10-12; Zec. 14:8-9).”[14]

B.     Why Does Jesus Instruct Us To Seek The Kingdom Of God First? 

            As stated above living outside of submission to Gods rule leads to death which presents the answer as to why Jesus would tell us to seek His Kingdom first, because living according to and in the kingdom of God is life.  Consider the following passages:

 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”[15]

“Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”[16]

“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”[17]

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”[18]

            In each of the above portions of scripture, there is a direct correlation between Gods kingdom and life; when a person is a participant in God’s Kingdom they have received power for living according to Gods original plan.  Life is more than living for God, but more importantly from God (in His power, through the life He gives us).  It is more beneficial for the believer to receive the kingdom of God than to seek to fulfill it.  His kingdom is being fulfilled as the believer receives life in Christ.

            Adam experienced an unhindered relationship with God, a life untainted by sin.  Jesus came that we might have life (unhindered relationship with God, restoration).  One can conclude that Jesus instructs us to seek first His kingdom because He desires that we would live and experience the life God created us to have. 

CONCLUSION

            The kingdom of God is His absolute rule over everyone and all things.  His power has existed from all time.  Because of sin, mankind’s participation in Gods kingdom has been affected.  Sin separates us from God but through Christ one can be redeemed and enter into Gods kingdom.

            God’s kingdom should be understood in two ways: 1) It has been established on earth in the hearts of those who put their faith in Him.  And, 2) He will come again wipe out all sin and its leaders.

            It is Gods desire that we be part of His kingdom because in it is life.  God created us to fellowship with Him and sent Jesus to fix what was broken, our fellowship with Him.  To summarize, the kingdom of God is life as He intended it.


[1] Matthew 6:33-34, NKJ

[2] Matthew 6:24, NKJ

[3] John 1:1-4, NKJ

[4] Genesis 2:7, NKJ

[5] Galatians 5:22-23, NKJ

[6] Genesis 2:16-17, NKJ

[7] Hebrews 4:12

[8] Genesis 3:4-7, NKJ

[9] Genesis 2:7

[10] Colossians 1:16-17

[11] Colossians 3:15-17

[12] Revelations 20:1-10

[14] Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, pg. 452

[15] Matthew 7:13-14, NLT

[16] John 3:3, NKJ

[17] Romans 14:17, NLT

[18] John 10:10, NKJ

THE LANGUAGE OF GOD

A few years ago I was a maintenance man at a hotel. The housekeepers would complete work orders and then I was responsible to fix what was listed on the work order. The only problem was ALL of the housekeepers only spoke Spanish, which also meant the work orders were in Spanish, I only spoke and read English. Needless to say, there were a few communication breakdowns. But, over time as we worked together the job was able to get done because we both desired to understand each other.

Communication is a transfer of information. Two parties are responsible for effective communication to take place: 1) the person sharing information must do so in a way that is understandable and 2) the person on the receiving end must desire to comprehend what is being shared.

God’s desire to communicate with us, and He does. God is an effective communicator. BUT, do we desire to understand what He is saying?

Regardless of what language you communicate in, God is speaking one language to mankind; GOD.

When God speaks, in all the varying ways that He does He is communicating one thing: He is God and we need Him.

When God speaks to us He is communication spiritual truth through human words (languages) and understanding. He has done this all throughout history:

A. God Spoke Through Prophets

Consider Daniel’s influence while serving under King Belshazzar. Once, while the king was throwing a wild party God used a hand to write a message to the king on a wall in his palace. No one in the king’s house could read or interpret the writing until they called for Daniel to do so.

Daniel 5:5-6
5Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way.

Daniel 5:25-28
25 “This is the inscription that was written: mene, mene, tekel, parsin
26 “This is what these words mean:
Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
27 Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
28 Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Think about this, why was Daniel able to read the writing and interpret its meaning? Was it because he was fluent in the unknown language that was written on the wall or because He DESIRED to understand God?

The king and his men had no desire to know or understand God and therefore could not interpret what God was communicating to them.

Not only did God speak through prophets but He also spoke through His Son, Jesus:

Hebrews 1:1-2
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

B. God Spoke Through Jesus

Jesus only shared what the Father revealed to Him:

John 12:49
49For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.

But how did the people respond?

Matthew 12:38
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”

This is an amazing statement! If you have ever read the chapters prior to this verse then you know that they are filled with signs, wonders, and miraculous events.

Up to this point the following events have taken place:
*John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus.
*At Jesus’ baptism God confirmed His authority by descending like a dove upon Him and even spoke favorably from heaven about Him.
*Disease and sicknesses were healed.
*The demon-possessed were set free.
*He preached the Sermon on the Mount (the most radical, and applicable sermon ever preached).
*A dead girl was raised to life.
*The blind and mute were healed.

The Pharisees demanding a sign at this point would be like a reporter who has followed the career of a superstar athlete in the NFL. For years the reporter has recorded all of the plays and accomplishments, conducted interviews, and has even seen his trophies. Imagine the reporter asking the player after the final game of his career for proof of why he should be considered for the Hall of Fame. It would be ridiculous! The reporter has witnessed the events and has all the proof he needs as to why the player deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Are we any different with God?

Do we demand proof from Him that He’s speaking to us, despite all that we have witnessed, read, and heard from Him?

God is speaking to us in a way that we can understand and will use any means necessary to communicate to us. But if we do not believe our understanding will be hindered.

1 Corinthians 2:14
14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Your understanding of God and His ways may only be at a very surface level. All you may know is that He wants you to follow Him. Until you do your understanding of Him and the plan He has for you will be limited.

What questions do you have? Do you carry insecurities, doubts, or fears? God is ok with you approaching Him with these things.

God is ok with your questions but He is concerned with how you respond to His answers.

Ultimately, no matter how much we know or how strong we think we are both are no match for what God has to offer.

1 Corinthians 1:25
25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

Taken from sermon:

THE NECESSITY OF THE BIBLE

While considering the importance of the Bible I recalled how vital it was to me when I decided to follow Jesus with my whole heart.  I began to sort through old journals and found one that I wrote in during that transitional time of my life.  There were many bible studies recorded in the notebook but one entry stuck out the most.  The entry was written as I was spending time in prayer and contained what I believed God was speaking to my heart.  One portion of it read, “You know the Word, now read it; learn it; obey it.”

I understood that statement on a very surface level at the time but now realize God was speaking something much deeper to me.

You need to understand, I knew the Word of God.  I had studied it most of my life to some degree as a result of attending christian schools.  But, there is a big difference between knowing something and honoring it.

I believe the following is what God was really getting at with me:

Reading =    Priority

Learning =   Practice

Obeying =   Proof

If I was going to be a Christian who was sincere and if spiritual growth was going to consistently take place then spending time in God’s Word would be necessary.

The discipline of reading the Bible can be difficult to initiate if we do understand why the book was given to us.

The bible was originally written in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament)

It has now been translated in many different languages, one of them being English.  We also have various types of translations.  All of the translations can be categorized into two main types of translations:   Exact and Dynamic[1]

Exact Translations:   word for word, literal translation

Dynamic Translation:  thought for thought translation

There is one author of the Bible, God.  There were about forty writers.  And there are sixty six individual books and letters that compose the entirety of the Bible.

Also, the Bible has historical significance due to its place and time in which it was written.  However, most importantly, the Bible is spiritually significant because of its ultimate purpose for being written.  Consider the following passage:

John 20:29-31  Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  30And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

1.       The Bible Was Written So That We Would Believe In Jesus.

Why Does God Want Us To Believe In Jesus?

JESUS IS/GIVES LIFE.[2]

John 10:7-10  Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Jesus came to give us life.  The thief comes to bring death.  The condition of our life resembles one or the other.

To help determine if you are living the life that Jesus intended to give you examine the differences between life and death.

HOW DOES DEATH AFFECT ME?

1. DEATH REMOVES OPTIONS.
2. DEATH REMOVES LIGHT.

3. DEATH CAUSES SORROW.

If we find ourselves relating to the results of death than it is time to question our relationship with Jesus Christ and our obedience to His Word.
HOW DOES LIFE AFFECT ME?

1. LIFE PROVIDES OPPORTUNITY.
2. LIFE PROVIDES FREEDOM.
3. LIFE PROVIDES FULLNESS.

When a sheep goes through a gate it is either entering confinement or openness.

Did Jesus say whoever enters his gate will find the confinement?

In other words, Jesus opens up the pasture not the pen to us.   

Where are you living?

A pasture is open, peaceful, it contains provision; all the room needed to fulfill destiny.

2.       The Bible Was Written So That We Would Be Equipped For Life. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

            A.        The Word of God Sustains The Believer. 

Inspiration of God = God Breathed

Stack the following truths upon one another:

*Scripture is God breathed. (1 Timothy 3:16-17)

*Scripture is spiritual “bread” and “water”. (Matthew 4 & Ephesians 5:26)

*Jesus gives “water” so that we are no longer thirsty (John 7:37) and that He is the “bread” of life (John 6:35).

*The Bible also tells us that Jesus is the Word (John 1:1-14)

Jesus is the perfect embodiment of the Bible and the Bible is the perfect embodiment of Jesus.  When we read the bible we are not just learning something but experiencing Someone.

If God’s Word is breath, bread, and water for us and if Jesus is the Word how can we expect to become more like Him if we do not read the Bible?

When considering the necessity of the Bible compare the needs of the spiritual with the physical:

How long can a human physically go without food? Around 40 days

Water? Around 3-7 days

Breath?  Minutes

You and I will not be satisfied if we do not read God’s Word.

B.        The Word of God Teaches The Believer.

Have you ever tried to teach someone who is only willing to learn what they want to learn?

My sophomore year of high school my German teacher taught us the following question:  “Darf Ich Auf Das Weissay (unsure of spelling)?”

In English this means, “May I get a drink of water?”  Because of my attitude toward spending time in class I learned if I raised my hand and asked the appropriate question that I could go to the water fountain.

Understand, I was not learning how to speak German but how to get out of class.

I tell that story because when it comes to the Bible many times we interpret it according to what we want to learn.

This is a problem because many times people do not learn how to follow Jesus but only how to get out of a problem.

The Bible is not a cafeteria of instruction that we get to choose from according to what we agree with.  It’s either all or nothing.

John 8:31-32  Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

If you’re frustrated as a believer it is because you are not remaining in God’s Word.

To further illustrate God’s intentions to teach us consider that God’s word is like an umbrella.

Much like an umbrella provides an area of protection, the Bible provides truths and principles that if applied will keep us from bringing self-inflicted storms upon our life thus enabling us to stay out of the rain.

In another sense the Bible is like an umbrella in that it helps one to get through the storms of life that are out of our control, storms that we did not ask for or bring upon our self.  Life has a way of sometimes smacking us in the face.  In these times God’s Word doesn’t necessarily remove us from the storm but it does help to get us through by its promises, encouragement, and wisdom.

Is the Bible just a book to you or is it literally breath, food, and water to your spirit.  I hope you are encouraged to read, learn, and obey the Word of God.  Or in other words to make it a Priority, to Practice it, and have Proof of its existence in your life.

God bless.

Taken from sermon:


http://mycfm.org/church-series/steps-towards-christ