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Showing posts with label God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label God. Show all posts

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday - Samson's Call - Judges 13:1-7, 24-25 - 6/25/17

The Philistines lived on the west side of Canaan, along the Mediterranean seacoast. From Samson's day until the time of David they were the major enemy force in the land & a constant threat to Israel. The Philistines were fierce warriors; they had the advantage over Israel in numbers, tactical expertise, & technology. They knew the secret of making weapons out of iron. But none of that mattered when God was fighting for Israel.

Once again the cycle of sin, judgment, & repentance began. The Israelites would not turn to God unless they had been stunned by suffering, oppression, & death. This suffered was not caused by God, but resulted from the fact that the people ignored God, their Judge & Ruler. The warnings in God's Word are clear; if we continue to harden our hearts against God, we can expect the same fate as Israel.

The angel of the Lord could have been a special divine messenger sent from God or a pre-incarnation appearance of Jesus Christ. The reason for the angel's visit was to give Samson's parents the vital news that Samson would begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.

Samson was to be a Nazarite - a person who took a vow to be set apart for God's service. Samson's parents made the vow for him. A Nazarite vow was sometimes for him. A Nazarite vow was sometimes temporary, but in Samson's case, it was for life. As a Nazarite, Samson could not cut his hair, touch a dead body, or drink anything containing alcohol.

Although Samson often used poor judgment & sinned terribly, he accomplished much when he determined to be set apart for God. In this way he was like the nation Israel. As long as the Israelites remained set apart for God, the nation thrived. But they into terrible sin when they ignored God.

Manoah's wife was told that her son would begin to rescue the Israelites from Philistine oppression. It wasn't until David's day that the Philistine opposition was completely crushed. Samson's part in subduing the Philistines was just the beginning, but it was important nonetheless. It was the task God had given Samson to do. Be faithful in following God even if you don't see instant results, because you might be beginning an important job that others will finish.

Samson's tribe, Dan, continued to wander in their inherited land, which was yet unconquered. Samson must have grown up with his warlike tribe's yearnings for a permanent & settled territory. Thus his visits to the tribal army camp stirred his heart, & God's Spirit began preparing him for his role as judge & leader against the Philistines.

God uses a variety of means to develop & prepare us: hereditary traits, environmental influences, & personal experiences. As with Samson, this preparation often begins long before adulthood. Work at being sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading & the tasks God has prepared for you. Your past may be more useful to you than you imagine.

Samson's Ventures: He grew up in Zorah & wanted to marry a Philistine girl from Timnah (Timnath). Tricked at his own wedding feast, he went to Ashkelon & killed some Philistine men & stole their coats to pay off a bet. Samson then let himself be captured & brought to Lehi where he snapped his ropes & killed 1,000 people.

Reference summary used from Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Thursday, June 15, 2017

4 of ... The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life - Book Review

The Second Soil of the Heart: Rocks, Scorching & Withering.

Let's examine the second soil of the heart & what happens when the seed of the Word of God is sown into it.

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word & immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, & when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. (Matthew 13:20-21, ESV)

On the surface, this second soil of the heart looks like good, fertile ground for the Word of God. The seed has a sudden, brief growth spurt, but its young root can never develop & become strong. Once it hits the rock, the root soon withers away causing the tiny plant that has emerged from the soil to die. The second soil of the heart is the great enemy to the growth of the Word of God.

Never forget how important it is for the seed of the Word of God to take root deeply in our hearts so it can produce fruit. The seed of the Word of God contains everything that God is: His love, righteousness, grace, salvation, goodness, holiness, faithfulness, peace & joy just to name a few. Faith comes by hearing this magnificent seed of the Word of God & allowing it to grow & become engrafted into the very fiber of the heart.

Importance of a Strong Root System. For the seed of the Word of God to prosper & grow into a strong, healthy tree, it must have a deep root system. The root system allows the heart to be anchored to the character of God.

2 Kings 19:30 declares that we must take root downward, so that we can bear fruit upward! Proverbs 12:12 declares that the root of the righteous yields fruit, & shall not be moved, because it is anchored in the Word of God.

It is imperative as Christians that we cultivate a deep root system of the Word of God in our hearts. The truth in Psalm 1 is vital to maintain a healthy spiritual heart.

The word "blessed" describes the condition of our heart should be in daily & it is linked to what it is rooted in. The Hebrew word "blessed" conveys the idea of happiness that flows from a sense of well-being & righteous. Bad company will corrupt the heart & destroy its root system. Our delight, desire, & longing must be to know God & His Word as the great treasure of our heart.

Do we delight in the pure words of Scripture more than the words from television, radio, Internet & chatter of the trival that relentlessly bombards our lives daily?

When we delight in the Word of God & mediate upon it daily, the spiritual root system of our heart is strong in God.

Jesus Christ is the true vine & we are to abide in Him if we are to be branches that bear much spiritual fruit.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, & let your lives be built on him.

Let's examine tribulation & persecution in more depth & see how they have such a dramatic effect on the heart.

Tribulation: The Forceful Squeezing of the Heart. The Greek word for "tribulation" is thlipsis which means to press, squeeze, compress, & crush. It was used to describe the squeezing of olives in a press to extract oil & the squeezing of grapes to produce juice.

The Lesson of Joseph. Thlipsis is the word to describe what Joseph went through before He was made governor in Egypt.

The world specializes in thlipsis.

Jesus Christ: Our Example in Times of Thlipsis. Thlipsis is nothing to Jesus Christ. He endured the worst thlipsis ever known to mankind in the ordeal of the crucifixion. His sweat was like great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane in intense prayer to his Heavenly Father. He was about to go through forty hours of beatings, mocking, torture, physical disfigurement, & unbearable pain. He endured this brutal physical punishment to pay the price for our sin & crush the power of the kingdom of darkness, ushering us as citizens into his kingdom.

Only in Jesus Christ can we be victorious over thlipsis. Only in Jesus Christ can we endure & overcome the blistering heat of the kosmos, the entire system that the Devil has set up as the Prince of the Power of the Air.

Only in Jesus Christ can we withstand this pressure & emerge over every burden & weight thrown at our heart.

Thlipsis & the Birth of Extraordinary. God always births something extraordinary in the heart when we come through a season of thlipsis still firmly rooted in Christ & the Word of God.

God uses the word "thlipsis" to describe the anguish the female body endures in labor. The woman is pregnant with something extraordinary & amazing with a wonderful, beautiful baby forming in her womb.

Likewise our heart is pregnant with the extraordinary plans, purposes & works of God Almighty, but it is only when we come through the labor pains of thlipsis that the heart gives birth to something extraordinary. How tragic that we never give birth to God's amazing plans & purposes for our life because under the crushing pressure of thlipsis we have a miscarriage.

Jesus Christ endured the intense thlipsis of the crucifixion & bearing the sin of the human race, but now he is seated at the right hand of God having obtained eternal redemption for all those who believe.

Look what was birthed out of the heart of Joseph when he passed the thlipsis test. What an extraordinary thing God birthed in the heart of Joseph to go from a slave, condemned in prison, to a ruler of a mighty kingdom.

God birthed an extraordinary calling & work in the heart of David as he became the greatest king in the history of Israel & a man after God's own heart.

The Apostle Paul was deeply rooted in Christ & the Word of God & endured great thlipsis during his journeys to spread the gospel. He suffered beatings, stoning, false accusations, imprisonment, shipwreck, hunger, weariness, riots & persecution. His ministry turned the world upside down, & he shook the gates of hell with the truth of the gospel.

Jesus Christ: The Focal Point of all Persecution. Persecution arises out of the violent clashing between two spiritual kingdoms. The Word of God is the mighty weapon of one kingdom. The heart is at the center of this fierce battle. The Book of Revelation speaks of this. (Revelation 12:4b-5,7,9,12b,17)

Jesus Christ is the focal point of all persecution because He is God's plan for redemption. He is the Savior, the Great Shepherd, the second Adam, the Alpha & Omega, the light of the world, the bread of life, the way, the truth, the life, & the door to God's kingdom. He restored everything that Adam & Eve had lost in the Garden of Eden & conquered sin & death.

The Greek word for "hatred" in John & Luke means to pursue with hatred, to detest, to have extreme hostility towards, & to abhor.

Surprising Source of Most Persecution. The Devil is very subtle as persecution often arises from our inner circle: our churches, fellow-christians, family, friends, co-workers, teachers, professors, neighbors, & community.

The devil loves religion because it has nothing to do with the true God & is an easy facade to hide his deceptions. Look at our Savior as the constant persecution to his ministry was from the Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests & scribes, who were the religious elite of his day. The great religious men & their corrupt system crucified their Messiah.

Persecution also comes from the inner circle of our family, friends, & close associates whom the Devil craftily influences to shake our faith in God & His Word.

When Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem near the time of his crucifixion, great multitudes of apparent followers & disciples cried out "Hosanna (save us please) to the son of David, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord even the King of Israel! Hosanna in the highest!" This whole multitude rejoiced & praised God with a loud voice. Many of these people had been with Jesus when he called Lazarus out from the grave & had heard about this great miracle. The entire city of Jerusalem was moved & the multitude declared "This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee!"

The Greek word for "seize" means to take hold of forcibly, to take into custody & arrest, to continually hold back, to hinder & restrain, to prevail & rule over, & to take into one's possession.

Jesus Christ: The Prince of Peace. Without Jesus no person on earth can ever have true peace.

In Hebrew, the word for peace, shalom, means wholeness, completeness & soundness. It is an inward & outward tranquility, a quiet assurance, & a complete well-being where nothing is lacking or broken. Peace is the highest measure of contentment, joyfulness, happiness, & satisfaction in life.

God is the source of all peace, & we have peace because of our relationship with Him. His peace is our peace. Peace can not live in a heart of unbelief.

The author, Tim Rowe has a doctorate of jurisprudence & a bachelor's degree in biblical studies, history & classics. He is president of Goodness of God's Ministries & lives in Indianapolis with his wife & son.





Monday, June 12, 2017

Sunday - Gideon's Call - Judges 6:11-18 - 6/11/17

Gideon - A farmer - To deliver Israel from Midian

Midian, Midianites ... Person & clan name meaning "strife." Midian was the son of Abraham by his concubine Keturah (Genesis 25:2). Abraham sent him & his brothers away to the east, leading to the association of the Midianites with the "children of the east" (Judges 6:3). When Moses fled from Pharoh, he went east to Midian (Exodus 2:15). Here he met Jethro, the priest of Midian, & married his daughter.

It is also possible that as a special messenger from God, the angel had authority to speak for God. God sent a special messenger to deliver an important message to Gideon.

Threshing was the process of separating the grains of wheat from the useless outer shell called chaff. This was normally done in a large area, often on a hill, when the wind could blow away the lighter chaff when the farmer tossed the beaten wheat into the air. If Gideon had done this, however, he would have been an easy target for the bands of raiders who were overrunning the land. Therefore, he was forced to thresh his wheat in a winepress, a pit that was probably hidden from view & that would not be suspected as a place to find a farmer's crop.

Gideon questioned God about the problems he & his nation faced & God's apparent lack of help. What he didn't acknowledge was the fact that the people had brought calamity upon themselves when they decided to disobey & neglect God. How easy it is to overlook personal accountability & blame our problems on God & others.

Gideon had heard about the great miracles God had done for his people, but he hadn't seen any. It had been almost 250 years since the ten plagues & the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 7-14), & 200 years had passed since the last great miracle, the parting of the Jordan River (Joshua 3). But it was the people who had given up on God. They knew what God expected of them. They had his laws, but they chose not to obey them. God's blessings, as Moses & Joshua had foretold, came only when the people were obedient.

"Surely I will be with thee," God told Gideon, & God promised to give him the strength he needed to overcome the opposition. In spite of this clear promise for strength, Gideon made excuses. He failed to see how God could work through him.

Like Gideon, we are called to serve God in specific ways. Don't spend time making excuses. Instead spend it doing what God wants.

Reference summary used from the Life Application KJV Bible, Tyndale Publishers, Wheaton, IL

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

2 of - The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life - Book Review

When King Solomon had the Ark of the Covenant brought to the temple at its dedication, he had the Levites play cymbals, harps, lyres , & trumpets. Singers raised their voices to praise God with this magnificent musical accompaniment. The glory of the Lord filled the temple with a cloud after this musical display. (2 Chronicles 5:12-14).

When a vast army of Moabites, Ammonites, & Meunites came against Jerusalem, King Jehoshaphat & all of Judah stood before the Lord & prayed. When the Israelites returned to Jerusalem in victory, they went to the temple of the Lord with harps, lutes, & trumpets praising God in music & song. (2 Chronicles 20:21-22,28).

In 2 Chronicles 29:25-28 we read that King Hezekiah opened the doors of the temple & cleansed it from idolatry, one of the first he did was reestablish music & song there. He furnished the Levites with cymbals, harps, trumpets, & all the instruments of David.

After rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah immediately established the singers in the temple.

The book of Nehemiah indicates in the time of David there were directors of music for the singers & songs of praise & thanks. Nehemiah realized how important music was in the service of God in the temple & for the worship of God among the people.

After Jesus instituted communion as a memorial of His death, Matthew 26:30 says, "When they had sung a hymn, they went to the Mount of Olives." Mark 14:26 states that Jesus sang this hymn along with His disciples right before He prayed in Gethsemane shortly before He was crucified. This was probably not the first time that they had sung together, but this is the only time recorded in Scripture that our Lord sang.

This hymn is believed to be from the psalms called the "Great Hallel" or the "praise Psalms," which were Psalms 113-118 & 136.

A song can lift us into the presence of God & comfort our hearts even in life's darkest hours.

Paul & Silas was severely beaten for preaching the gospel & thrown into prison with their feet in stocks, but they sang praises to God in the midst of this seemingly hopeless situation. God moved with a great earthquake that shook the entire foundation of the prison & they were set free.

Throughout time, great men in Church history have understood the profound effect of music on the heart & the importance of godly music in the life of a Christian.

Martin Luther, who is credited with igniting the flame of the Protestant Reformation, was a wonderful composer.

One of his greatest hymns, which was one of my favorite growing up, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."

Martin Luther had a legendary love for music. He often played after dinner with his family & guests & composed songs for his children. Music was not just a recreational tool for Luther - it was an integral part of his life & he found a source of strength & comfort in music.

Luther was well aware of the power of music & insisted that its proper use was "to the glorification of God & the edification to man."

During the Wesleyan Revival in the 18th Century, Charles Wesley wrote more than six thousand hymns, including some that became classics of the Church, like "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sink," "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," & "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing."

Listening to music is not meant to replace a Christian's time in studying & mediating on the Bible, or prayer & intimate fellowship with the heavenly Father & our Lord Jesus.

Music either pulls you into the heart of God or pulls you into the heart of God or pulls you into the heart of the world. God is crying out to the Church & to every Christian believer, "Do not be ignorant or fooled by music & think your listening choices are harmless to your walk & relationship with me!"

Since the fall of Lucifier, music has been a major weapon in the battle for the heart.

Often our greatest songs of praise are borne in trials & temptations.

Many Christians today have lost the song in their hearts for God. When the heart is bitter & unforgiving, when the heart forgets God, when the heart becomes entangled with the things of this world, it loses its song.

In Exodus 15, the children of Israel sang the right song when they were delivered from the army of Egypt, but they sang it on the wrong side. They should have been singing this song even when they were in bondage in Egypt, not simply after a great miracle & deliverance from God.

Our God will never fail us. Our God will never leave us, or forsake us, & His strength is perfect in our weakness.

Yes, indeed - God is my Salvation. God - yes God! is my strength & song, best of all, my salvation!

Our song is never a song of anxiety, fear, or worry. He is our strength, our defender, our provider, & our deliverer. We should be raising the roof with our praise - song to God.

We cannot keep silent about the wonder of our God & His amazing works. God cries when the song of our hearts goes silent.

Don't lose your love song for God by turning away from Him when things get tough.

Yahweh your God is there with you, the warrior-Savior. He will rejoice over you with happy song, he will renew you by His love, He will dance with shout of joy for you (NJB).

This song of God is a hymn of deliverance; victory, & Salvation. Psalm 32:7 says that God "surrounds us with songs of deliverance." God sings because He knows that He has made you in Christ & that He has given you a name & divine destiny.

But God, says, "No matter anyone says, you are my beloved, My treasure, My pearl more valueable than all the treasures of the earth."

God sings to us. We sing to God.

Nothing is more important to our life than the thoughts that occupy our minds on a daily basis. The critical question becomes "What are you thinking?"

Our hearts are built on the foundation of our thoughts. The heart is molded & shaped by our thoughts. Thoughts are the blueprint of the hear, & the heart becomes the image of its thought. We are what we think.

We can't ignore the importance of our thinking if we want to love God with all our heart.

Tozer encourages Christians to "form the habit of a holy thought life."

God commands us to love Him with all our mind (Luke 10:27).

Our thought life should prepare our hearts for the Lord so that He might live & reign from its throne room. King David, in his last admonishment to his son Solomon & the children of Israel, exhorts them to frame their thoughts carefully so God can prepare their hearts to love & serve Him above all else.

The heart is like a mirror, reflecting the image of its thoughts. God should be the only image that dominates our thinking.

The author, Tim Rowe has a doctorate of jurisprudence & a bachelor's degree in biblical studies, history, & classics. An attorney & author. He is the president of Goodness of God Ministries & lives in Indianapolis with his wife & son.





Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sunday - Deborah & Barak - Judges 4:1-10 - 6/4/17

The Bible records few women in national leadership positions, but Deborah was the best person for the job, & God chose her to lead Israel. God can choose anyone to lead his people, young or old, man or woman. Don't let your prejudices get in the way of those God may have chosen to lead you.

We don't know Barak's character, but we see the character of a great leader in Deborah, who took charge as God directed. Deborah told Barak that God would be with him in battle, but that was not enough for Barak. He wanted Deborah to go with him. Barak request shows that at heart he trusted human strength more than God's promise. A person of real faith steps out at God's command even if he or she must do so alone.

She was responsible for leading the people into battle, but more than that, she influenced them to live for God after the battle was over. Her personality drew people together & commanded the respect of even Barak, a military general. She was also a prophetess, whose main role was to encourage the people to obey God. Those who lead must not forget about the spiritual condition of those being led. A true leader is concerned for persons, not just success.

Israel's sin was not only "in the sight of the Lord"; it was also against the Lord. Our sins harm both ourselves & others, But all sin is ultimately against God because it disregards his commands & his authority over our lives. When confessing his sin David prayed, "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned & done this evil in thy sight" (Psalm 51:4). Recognizing the seriousness of sin may be the first step toward removing it from our lives.

This is the only time during the period of the judges when the Israelites' enemies came from within their land. The Israelites had failed to drive out all the Canaanites, & they had regrouped & were attempting to restore their lost power. If the Israelites had obeyed God in the first place & driven the Canaanites from the land, this incident would not have happened.

Chariots were the tanks of the ancient world. Made of iron or wood, they were pulled by one or two horses & were the most feared & powerful weapons of the day. Some chariots even had razor sharp knives extending from the wheels designed to mutilate helpless foot soliders. The Canaanite army had 900 iron chariots. It was not within Israel's power to defeat such an invincible army. With such power Jabin & Sisera had no problem oppressing the people - until a faithful woman named Deborah called upon God.

After 20 years of unbearable circumstances, the Israelites finally turned to God for help. But God should be the first place we turn when we are facing struggles or dilemmas. The Israelites did things their way & got into a mess. We often do the same thing. Trying to control our own lives without God's help often leads to struggle & confusion. By contrast, when we stay in daily contact with God, we are less likely to create painful circumstances for ourselves. This is a lesson the Israelites never fully learned. When struggles come our way, God wants us to seek him first, giving him top priority in our lives.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible, KJV, Tyndale Bible Publishers, Wheaton, IL

Monday, May 29, 2017

Sunday - God's Pervasive Love - Jonah 4:1-11 - 5/28/17

Pervasive: Having power or tendency to persuade. To win to full belief. Plead or argue with.

Why did Jonah become angry when God spared Nineveh? The Jews did not want to share God's message with Gentile nations in Jonah's day. Jonah thought God should not freely give his salvation to a wicked heathen nation.

Jonah was angry that God had spared Nineveh. How much better it would have been if he had rejoiced that sinners had repented (Luke 15:10).

Jonah reveals the reason for his reluctance to go to Nineveh (Jonah 1:3). He didn't want the Ninevites forgiven, he wanted them destroyed. We must not forget that, in reality, we do not deserve to be forgiven by God.

Johan had run from the job of delivering God's message of destruction to Nineveh (Jonah 1:2,3); now he wanted to die because the destruction wouldn't happen. How quickly Jonah had forgotten God's mercy on him when he was in the fish (Jonah 2:9,10). He was happy when God saved him, but angry when Nineveh was saved. God's forgiveness was not only for Jonah or for Israel alone, & extends to all who repent & believe.

God ministered tenderly to Jonah just as he did to Nineveh & to Israel & just as he does to us. If we will obey God's Word he will gently lead us.

Jonah was angry at the death of the plant, but not over what could have happened to Nineveh. How easy it is to be more sensitive to our own interests than to the spiritual needs of people around us.

God feels compassion for the sinners we want judged. What is your attitude toward those who are especially wicked? Do you wish that they could experience God's mercy & forgiveness?

God spared the sailors when they pleaded for mercy. God saved the people of Nineveh when they responded to Jonah's preaching. God answers the prayers of those who call upon him. We can be saved if we heed God's warnings to us through his Word. If we respond in obedience, he will be gracious, & we will receive his mercy, not his judgment.

Reference summary used from Life Application Bible, KJV Bible, Tyndale Publishers, Wheaton, IL

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday - Fruit of Justification by Faith - Romans 5:1-5 - 4/18/17

Consequences of justification. 1:1-5: When we rely utterly upon God's grace and not at all upon ourselves, we have peace, reconciliation, or a state of harmony with God. Hope of ... the glory of God, though we had fallen short of the glorious destiny God intended for us, we now find ourselves confidently expecting it.

Reference summary used from The New Oxford Annotated Bible with The Apocrypha Expanded Edition, An Ecumenical Study Bible, RSV

Saturday, April 1, 2017

God as our Shepherd - Psalm/Tehillim 23 - April 2, 2017

An expression of confidence in God's protection (a song of trust). The LORD is compared to a shepherd. Soul means vitality, life. Path of righteousness, or "of rightness," that is, right paths which suits the context better. Shadow of death is the reading of the scribes, but "deep darkness" is the better rendering; where the same Hebrew expression occurs. The LORD is compared to a gracious host. Dwell in house of the LORD means to worship in the temple. For ever, Hebrew "for length of days," meaning as long as I live.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. At night, sheep were often gathered into a sheepfold to protect them from thieves, weather, or wild animals. The sheepfolds were caves, sheds, or open areas surrounded by walls made of stones or branches. The sheepfold often slept in the fold to protect the sheep. Just as a shepherd cares for his sheep, Jesus the Good Shepherd, cares for his flock (those who follow him). The prophet Ezekiel, in predicting the coming of the Messiah, called him a Shepherd (Ezekiel 34:23).

The life that Jesus gives is abundantly richer & fuller. It is eternal, yet is begins immediately. Life in him is lived on a higher plain because of his overflowing forgiveness, love, & guidance.

A hired man tends the sheep for money, while the shepherd does it for love. The shepherd owns the sheep & is committed to them. Jesus is not merely doing a job, he is committed to love us & even lay down his life for us. False teachers & false prophets do not have this commitment.

The "other sheep" were non-Jews. Jesus came to save Gentiles as well as Jews. This is an insight into his worldwide mission-to die for the sins of the whole world.

Reference summary used from The New Oxford Annotated Bible with The Apocrypha Expanded Edition RSV & The Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday - God's Love Manifest - John 15:1-17 - 3/19/17

The grapevine is a profilic plant: a single vine bears many grapes. In the Old Testament grapes symbolized Israel's fruitfulness in doing God's work on the earth. In the Passover meal, the fruit of the vine symbolized, God's goodness to His people.


Christ is the vine, & God is the husbandman who cares for the branches to make them fruitful. The branches are all who claim to be followers of Christ. The fruitful branches are true believers who by their living union with followers are as good as dead & will be cut off & cast aside.


Jesus makes a distinction between two kinds of pruning (1) separating & (2) cutting back branches. Fruitful branches are cut back to promote growth. God must sometimes discipline us to strength our character & faith. But branches that don't bear fruit are cut off at the trunk, because not only are they worthless, they often infect the rest of the tree.


Prayer, joy, & soul-winning are also fruit.


Abiding in Christ means (1) believing he is God's Son (2) receiving Him as Saviour (3) doing what God says (4) continuing in faith (5) & relating to the community of believers. Christ's body Jesus says to only live a truly good life is to stay close to him, like a branch attached to the vine. Apart from him our efforts are unfruitful.


When a vine bears "much fruit," God is glorified, for daily He sent the sunshine & rain to make the crops grow, & constantly be nurtured each tiny plant & prepared to blossomed. What a moment of glory for the Lord of the harvest when the harvest is brought into the barns, safe & ready for use! This farming picture shows how God is glorified when people come into a right relationship with him & begin to "bear much fruit" in their lives.


Joy comes from a consistent relationship with Jesus Christ. The joy of living with Jesus Christ daily keeps us levelheaded no matter how high or low our circumstances.


We are to love one another as Jesus loved us, & He loved us enough to give His life for us. Give all the love you can, & then try to give a little more.


Jesus made the first choice --- to love & to die for us; to offer us eternal life. We make the next choice --- to accept or reject His offer. Without His choice, we would have no choice.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale Publishing House, Inc., Wheaton, IL

2 of 2 ... The Beginning: Prelude To The Apocalypse: Book Review

The Corinthian church was so free in the grace of God that they begin to sin with some very real consequences. The truth is that we cannot exclude either the law or faith. It is faith that frees us from the law of sin & death (Romans 8:2). The eternal or second death is what we have been set free from. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).


It is understood that God is the ultimate power in the universe. In heaven all the angels obey the will of God. The fact that Satan had to go to God to get permission to sift Peter is further evidence of God's complete authority. God sits on the throne & listen daily to the adversary. If the adversary brings an accusation against us, God may allow him to chasten us. This has no effect on our eternal life. This will affect the quality of our life on planet Earth.


It is through the law that all sin was made known in the universe. Until the law came, sin was not understood or known (Romans 7:7-8). In other words we all must die in the flesh to fulfill the law. So we fulfill the law by dying & we fulfill the law of grace by living. Both laws are in effect & neither has been disregarded.


We can conclude that the flesh remains under the law of death & our spirit is under the law of grace. The Corinthians began to die & became sick due to sin. Paul admonished the congregation to walk in a worthy manner when involved with holy things such as the Lord's Supper (I Corinthians 11:26-30).


Christians need to understand that the law of grace is the eternal law & affects the spirit of man in eternity.


One of the most penetrating questions about life is this: "If God is good, why does He allow evil to exist?" As we know from Jesus, Satan is the father of all evil, (John 8:44). Job calls the angelic host "the sons of God" (Job 1:6-7). We find an interesting perspective in Job.


Satan, or Lucifer, was a covering cherub (Ezekiel 28:13-15). It's apparent that Lucifer wanted to be like God (Isaiah 14:12-15).


Satan believed & preached his doctrine of equality with God through knowledge of evil. If you knew God's secret knowledge of evil you would be like God (Genesis 3:4-5). As much as God loved His family, He must give them the freedom to choose their destiny.


The knowledge of evil caught the attention of one third of the angelic hosts (Revelation 12).


God knew that all creation could only live in harmony with love if it was voluntary. Anything else is not love. God only wants those who worship Him to do so in truth & spirit (John 4:23-24).


It is important to believe every Word of God.


Man & angels had to choose by faith whether to trust God or trust Satan.


God placed two trees in the garden. The tree of life was free & it yielded its fruit for food & life. The tree of knowledge of good & evil was beautiful to behold but contained only death. It was only the knowledge of evil that could bring death. Satan believed that if Adam & Eve would eat of it they would be as gods knowing good & evil (Genesis 3:5).


Satan does not have the power to take anything. Each time you see him in heavenly scenes he is asking permission to do what he wants. He asked permission to harm Job in Job chapter one. He asked to sift Peter as wheat in Luke 22:31. In Revelation chapter twelve, Satan stands before God day & night accusing the brethren.


We are faced with the choice of trusting God by faith or living according to the way of sin (Galatians 3:11).


Enoch & Elijah was taken by God without dying. And Enoch walked with God; & he was not for God took him (Genesis 5:24). By faith Enoch was was taken away so that he did not see death (Hebrews 11:5). Then it happened, as they continued on & talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, & separated the two of them; & Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven (2 Kings 2:11).


Christ was not a sinner & yet He was put to death. It was the will of God that He should be put to death. Jesus must also be recompensed for the wrong done to Him. His blood redeemed us from death & we are given to Him as His bride. Not only did Christ receive all who believe in Him, but He was given the keys of death & became Lord of all (Revelation 1:17-18).


We are given enough to make a choice of faith - to accept the Bible. The Bible does not seek to answer the questions of science.

Bruce Campbell is the author of The Beginning Prelude to the Apocalypse Companion Study Guide. He has been a pastor, evangelist and a successful business man. He currently runs The Secret Place, an international ministry to ministers. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Divinity degree. He, along with his wife and daughter live in Picayune, MS

Saturday, March 18, 2017

1 of 2 The Begining ... Book Review

Prelude To The Apocalypse: Companion Study Guide


Paradox: A statement, doctrine, or expression seemingly absurd or contradiction to the received belief or to what would naturally be believing, but perhaps really true.

Gnotics: Of, pertaining to, or possessing knowledge;

Apocalypse: The book of Revelation ... The revelation made to the Apostle John


(John 16:12-13) I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; & He will tell you things to come.


The Scriptures clearly teach that knowledge is surpassed by the love of God in Christ (Ephesians 3:19). Knowledge is not the ultimate reality in the universe.


First, the author would like to explain to his readers the oneness of God (1 John). The most important reality about God is that He is love. John tells us that God is love. God the Father, God the Son, & God the Holy Spirit & that Spirit is love.


Here is why we need to understand the nature of love & how it can manifest in differing ways. When most people think about love they often think of love in one way only. The love that does not fail & always accepts us even when we don't deserve it. This kind of love is explained in I Corinthians 13.


God the Father represents a different manifestation of love. Protective love is rooted in righteousness.


The first paradox that was formed was found in the nature of love. God brought us life into existence & He loved His creation with an everlasting love. When sin came into existence it threatened life itself. God loved his angels but they were turning away from love to evil. God must be able to judge His own children & removed evil from existence. The love that cannot fail, by nature, cannot fail even Lucifer. God, in a sense, had to sacrifice His own heart in order to throw the diseased sons of God into the place of eternal quarantine prepared for them.


The Godhead is manisfected in differing ways even though the three manifestations are love.


Simply put, Jesus taught us that there is no giving or taking in marriage in heaven & that we will all be like angels (Matthew 22:29-30). There is no feminine in the Godhead & we know from the book of Job that angels are called the sons of God.


The Hebrew word for Spirit ("ruach") is feminine in Genesis 1:2. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit is presented in the masculine gender. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit "the Comforter" (John 16:7).


The church takes on the role of the feminine in the relation to Christ. The Greek word for church (ecclesia) is feminine in gender. The church is called the bride of the lamb (Revelation 19:7; 21:9). The church receives the Spirit (seed) & produces life (John 7:38,39).


Jesus submitted to His Father's will. Even though He was one with the Father in Spirit, He took on the role of submission. The church, in the same way, must learn to submit to the will of Christ.


The maternal side of love cries out for forgiving (Luke 23:34). Many people have asked, as did Jesus, "Why did God forsake Christ when he was on the cross (Mark 15:34).


Jesus is directly referenced to as the lamb that was sacrificed for sin. Christ was begotten of God & not created. He is the same essence, substance, or Spirit as the Father (John 16:27-28; John 10:30).


The lamb (Christ) was slain from the freedom of the world (Revelation 13:8). When the knowledge of good & evil came into existence through the law, the perfect Love (Holy Spirit) in a real sense had to be sacrificed, lest it should forgive Satan. Pure love can never turn away from the children.


The Passover lamb, in contrast to the sin offering, had to be a male lamb (Exodus 12:5-8). The Passover lamb represented represents the reality of eternal death passing over all who take Christ (the lamb) into their life. These are picture types that teach us about God's plan for redemption of all who receive Christ. It also shows us the protective side of love in that we are protected from death through Christ.


God's ways make sense & everything God made reflects something about the Godhead.


Angels were not begotten but rather created. Adam was first & Eve was begotten out of Adam. Planets & moons are one matter & are drawn together by the unknown force called gravity. Adam & Eve are one flesh & drawn together by love. The Father & Son are drawn together by the Holy Spirit of love.


Let us be glad & rejoice & give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, & His wife has made herself ready (Revelation 19:7). We should not think of these pictures types in fleshly terms but rather spiritual.


As the bride of Christ we are to yield (submit) to His will. Remember that in the Spirit there is no giving or taking in marriage but we shall all be as angels. We as His bride, must learn submission to His will & then we shall be exalted. The will of Christ is found in the Sermon on the Mount & Beatitudes. He told us to learn the ways of love.


In chapter eight of Proverbs wisdom speaks to us declaring she was brought forth from God.


Comparison between Christ & Wisdom:

Through Wisdom all things created: Psalm 104:24; Jeremiah 10:12; Proverbs 3:19

Through Christ all things created: John 1:1,9; Hebrews 1:2; Colossians 1:16

Find wisdom find life: Proverbs 8:35; Ecclesiastes 7:12; Proverbs 4:20-22

Find Christ find life: 1 John 1:12; John 14:6; John 10:10

Wisdom established from everlasting: Proverbs 8:23

Christ established from everlasting: John 8:58

Wisdom invites to eat her Bread & drink her wine: Proverbs 9:5

Jesus is the bread of life. Wine is life: John 6:33-48; Matthew 26:28


Satan will try to turn the picture of the Godhead in creation upside down. Evil will grow if left unchecked by power & strength. Evil masquerades as good & takes advantages of innocence.


Imagine a time before evil existed. There was no need for law or protective because there was no knowledge of evil. Because creation was innocence, God had to create a way of understanding what sin was. He spoke into existence or permissive side of love is perfectly explained in I Corinthians 13.


Mankind will attempt to become as god & reinterpret all things through selfish ambition carnal desire & call it freedom.


The world is attempting to cast off God in order to pursue carnal lust & selfish desire. The law of God is hated by those who proclaim freedom. Anyone who stands in the way of this "freedom" will be hated & reviled, even as God is reviled.

Revile: To address scandalous language; abuse; be abusive in speech or act.


When there is no longer anything to stop sin, it will run rampant.


Evil must be resisted. God the Father must turn away from His own children (fallen angels, sons of God) & eventually separate them from the family. The disease called sin must be put away into a quarantine zone forever. That zone is known as hell.


There is a concerted effort in this day to make boys more like girls in their emotions. When men become emotionally driven instead of righteously driven there will be an eroding of strength in society.


Bruce Campbell is the author of The Beginning Prelude to the Apocalypse Companion Study Guide. He has been a pastor, evangelist and a successful business man. He currently runs The Secret Place, an international ministry to ministers. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Divinity degree. He, along with his wife and daughter live in Picayune, MS


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Saturday - Thankful for God's Steadfast Love - Psalm 40:1-10 - 3/4/17

Waiting for God to help us is not easy, but David received four benefits from waiting: God (1) lifted him out of his despair, (2) set his feet on firm ground, (3) established his goings (steadied him as he walked), & (4) gave him a new song.


The religious ritual of David's day involved sacrificing animals in the Tabernacle. Today we often make rituals of going to church, taking communion, or paying tithe. Make sure you give God the obedience & life-long service he desires from you.


Jesus portrayed this attitude of obeying & serving God (John 4:34;5:30).


God shows his righteousness & faithfulness to his people in his offer of salvation. David boldly proclaimed this to those around him. We want to tell other people what God has done for us. Since it is natural to share a good bargain with others or recommend a skillful doctor, then we should also feel natural sharing what God has done for us.


People who are faithful to us accept & love us, even when we are unloveable. Faithful people keep their promises whether promises of support or marriage vows. He loves us in spite of our constant bent toward sin, & he keeps all his promises he has made to us, even when we break our promises to him.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois

Friday - Loving God & Brothers & Sisters - I John 4:20-5:5 - 3/3/17

It is easy to say we love God when it doesn't cost us anything more than weekly attendance at religious services. But the real test of our love for God is how we treat the people right in front of us - our family members & fellow believers. We cannot truly love God while neglecting to love those who are created in his image.


When we become Christians we become part of God's family, with fellow believers as our brothers & sisters. We are simply called to accept & love them. How well do you treat your fellow family members?


Jesus never promised that obeying him would be easy. The hard work & self-discipline of serving Christ is no burden to those who love him. And if our load starts to feel heavy, we can always trust Christ to help us bear it (see Matthew 11:28-30).

Reference summary is used from the Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois

Friday, March 3, 2017

Monday - Christ Died for Us - I John 3:11-17 - 2/27/17

We must love other Christians.

Cain destroyed his brother Abel when God accepted Abel's offering & not Cain's (Genesis 4:1-16). People who are morally upright expose & shame those who aren't. If we live for God, the world will often hate us because we make them painfully aware of their immoral way of living.


John echoes Jesus' words that one who hates another person is a destroyer at heart (Matthew 5:21,22). Christianity is a religion of the heart; outward compliance alone is not you is an evil cancer within you & will eventually destroy you. Don't let a "root of bitterness" (Hebrews 12:15) grow in you or your church.


Real love is an action, not a feeling. Sometimes it is easier to say we'll die for others than to truly live for them, which involves putting others' desires first.


Christians must show their love, & one way to do that is to provide money or material possession to help others' needs. How clearly do your actions say you really love others?

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stand - Book Review

Staying Balanced with Answers for Real Teen Life

The advice offered herein does not constitute a substitute for professional treatment, therapy, or other types of professional advice & intervention. The author nor publisher does not assume any responsibility for use of these materials & information.


Stand:

a. An attitude toward a particular issue, a position taken in an argument

b. Have or maintain an upright position, supported by one's feet

c. Withstand an experience or test without being damaged


When a guy is controlling, checks your phone, manipulative or a cheater, he is not Christ-like & he is not for you. We are reminded in 2 Corinthians 6:14 that we are not to be "yoked together" with unbelievers. In biblical times, a yoke was used to keep oxen together when they would plow the fields.


Cute guys don't always have cute character. Proverbs 27:19 says, "As water reflects the face, so one's life reflects the heart." We know a person's heart by the way they live. You may be dating a cute guy, but does he treat you one way in private & another way in public?


When a guy truly cares about you, he will treat you with the same respect & adoration in public that he does in private.


Don't "sugar coat" how you feel & state upfront that you are only interested in being friends.


When your friends motives are pure, he can see things in other guys that you may not see & help protect you from making a mistake.


It is okay to say, "NO!"


Taking Out the Trash: "A woman is not written in braille. You don't have to touch her to know her." - Unknown


Why is it so important that we keep our morals? Our study group would like to assure you EVERYONE IS DOING IT. The girls in our study group have made a commitment to save themselves for their husbands.


You must be the one that is worthy of the chase.


In case you're still tempted to experiment with sex outside of marriage, knowing that approximately 750,000 teenagers get pregnant every year may help yu reconsider ("Teen Pregnancy Facts"). If you fantasize about quitting EVERYTHING in your life to take care of someone else for the next 18 years, you are definitely in the minority. I have never spoken to an unmarried teen who said, "I'm so glad I got pregnant." Their friends eventually went off to college & they were left alone. Contrary to what "Hollywood" promotes, most guys do NOT stay with or marry the teen mother of their child.


God loves you & you will never find a love greater than His.


Compromising your morals & your values is going too far.


So what if we've already messed up. I've got good news! Jesus Christ gave His life so that we can be healed from past mistakes. He can forgive you & give you a new start TODAY when you ask HIM for one. This is what His grace is all about. We've all messed up, & we all need forgiveness. Don't allow shame to tell you it's too late to start over. THAT IS A LIE. God wants to walk with you into every situation in your life. I John 1:9 say's, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful & just to forgive us & PURIFY us." He can restore the purity you have lost & make you a new creation in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). He loves you & has great plans just for you when you turn away from making your own decisions & allow Him to help you make the right ones.


Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend loves at all times." Friendship is an "equal opportunity" relationship, & both friends must take responsibility for the friendship to work.


Communication is crucial in friendship because when we stop talking, problems arise.


Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8


Trust is a key characteristic in friendship.


God NEVER Changes!


ask God to till the hole that is there with the "high" only He can give.


Choices are life-changing.


It's our job to share the truth. It's God job to do the changing.


Beating the Bullies: Your values doesn't decrease based on someone's inability to see your worth. Idiot. Ugly. Fat. Loser. For most of us, nothing is more painful than rejection. Bullies feed on their victims reactions such as hurt, fear, insecurity, & weakness. God did not design us to be mistreated or bullied. Bullies do not get to defines us, GOD does.


The most important thing you must DO is to notify your parents & health officials immediately after the rape occurs, whether it is by a boyfriend, family member or a stranger.

Shannon Perry is an author, conference speaker, recording artist & TV host. She worked in the public school system for over fourteen years as a school teacher & counselor before entering full-time ministry. She helped create an Anti-bullying program which is still used by one of the largest school systems in America. She has one son who is a Captain in the U.S. Air Force.

She is the creator of the "In Her Shoes" Conference written especially for Moms & their teen daughters.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sunday - The Source of All Love - I John 4:7-19 - 3/5/17

In reality, love is a choice & an action. God is the source of our love: he loved is enough to sacrifice his son for us. Jesus is our example of what it means to love; everything he did in life & death was supremely loving. The Holy Spirit gives us power to love; he lives in our hearts & makes more & more like Jesus. God's love always involves a choice & an action, & our love should be like his.


The world thinks love is what make you feel good, & it is willing to sacrifice moral principles & others' rights in order to obtain such "love." Our definition of love must come from God who is holy, just, & perfect. At the same time, if we truly know God, we must learn to love as he does.


"Only begotten" means God's unique Son.


Love explains (1) why God creates; (2) why God cares; (3) whey we are free to choose; (4) why Christ died; & (5) why we receive eternal life.


Nothing sinful or evil can exist in God's presence. He cannot overlook, condone, or excuse sin as if it never happened. We can be acquitted (Romans 5:18) by his atoning sacrifice ("propitiation").


Jesus is the complete expression of God in human form & he has revealed God to us. When we love one another, the invisible God reveals himself to others through us, & his love is made complete ("perfect").


John isn't telling us how many people to love, but how much to love the people we already know. Our job is to faithfully love the people God has given us to love, whether there are two or two hundred of them. If God sees we are ready to love others, he will bring them to us. God provides us the strength to do what he asks.


When we become Christians, we receive the Holy Spirit. God's presence in our lives is a proof that we really belong to him & gives us the power to love. If you lack assurance of your salvation, listen to the Holy Spirit within you (Romans 8:16).


The day of judgment is that final day when we will appear before Christ & be held accountable for our actions. We can look forward to the judgment, because it will mean the end of sin & the beginning of a face-to-face relationship with Jesus Christ.


If we ever begin to dear eternity, heaven, or God's judgment, we can remind ourselves of God's love. We can be confident of what lies ahead if in this life we have determined to be more like Jesus.


God's love is the source of all human love, & it spreads like fire. In turn, they love others, who are warmed by God's love through them.

Reference summary used from Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday - Christ Creates Holy Living - Galatians 5:18-6:10 - 2/26/17

Live each day controlled & guided by the Holy Spirit. Then the words of Christ will be in your mind, the love of Christ in your actions, & the power of Christ will help you control your selfish desires.


In order for us to follow the Holy Spirit's guidance, we must deal with them decisively (crucify them). These desires include obvious sins such as sexual immorality & witchcraft.


The Spirit produces character traits, which are found in the nature of Christ. The result will be that we will fulfill the intended purpose of the Law - loving God & man. Which of these qualities do you desire to produce in you?


Because the God who sent the Law also sent the Spirit, the by-products of the Spirit-filled life are in perfect harmony with the intent of God's Law.


When you do your very best, you feel good about the results & there is no need to compare yourself with others. When you are tempted to compare look at Jesus Christ. His example will inspire you to do your very best, & his loving acceptance will comfort you when you fall short of your goals.


It would be certainly be a surprise if you planted corn in the ground & pumpkins came up. Every actions has results. If you plant to please your own desires ("soweth to the flesh"), you'll reap a crop of sorrow & evil; if you plant to please God you'll reap joy & everlasting life.


It is discouraging to continue to do right & receive no word of thanks or see no tangible results. In due time, we will reap a harvest of blessing.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday - Practice Mutal Discipline - Matthew 18:15-20 - 2/24/17

These are Jesus' guidelines for dealing with those who sin against us. Jesus' words are not a license for a frontal attack on every person who hurts or slights us. They are designed to reconcile those who disagree so that all Christians can live in harmony.

By contrast, we should go to the person first, as difficult as that may be. Then we should forgive that person as often as he or she needs it.


Ideally, the church's decisions should be God-guided & based on discernment of his Word. Handling problems God's way will have an impact now & for eternity.


Jesus looks ahead to a new day when he will be present with his followers not in body, but through his Holy Spirit. Two or more believers, filled with the Holy Ghost, will pray according to God's will, not their own; & thus their requests will be granted.

Reference summary used from Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thursday - Wholeness by Prayer & Action - James 5:13-20 - 2/23/17

James refers to someone who is incapacitated physically. Thus oil can represent both the medical & the spiritual spheres of life. Jesus Christ is Lord over both the body & the spirit.


The elders should be on call to respond to the illness of any members & the church should stay alert to pray for the needs of all its members.


"And the prayer of faith," does not refer to the faith of the sick person, but to the faith of the church. God heals, faith doesn't, & all prayers are subject to God's will. That is why God often waits for our prayers of faith before intervening to heal a person.


"Confess your faults" can be translated "Confess your sins." Christ has made it possible for us to go directly to God for forgiveness, but confessing our sins to one another still has an important place in the life of the church. In Christ's Kingdom, every believer is a priest to other believers. We must help others come to Christ & tell them of Christ's forgiveness.


The Christian's most powerful resource is communion with God through prayer. Since God's power is infinitely greater than our own, it only makes sense to rely on it - especially because he encourages us to do so.


For more about the great prophet Elijah (Elias), read his Profile in I Kings 18.


Clearly the person who has slipped away is a believer who has fallen into sin - one who is no longer living a life consistent with his belief. Christians disagree over whether or not it is possible for people to lose their salvation, but all agree that those who move away from their faith are in serious trouble & need to repent. James urges Christians to help backsliders return to God. By taking the initiative, praying for the person, & acting in love, we can meet the person where he is & bring him back to God.


The book of James emphasizes faith in action. Right living is the evidence of result of faith. The church must serve with compassion, speak lovingly & truthfully, live in obedient to God's commands, & love one another. The body of believers ought to be an example of heaven on earth, drawing people to Christ through love for God & one another. If we truly believe God's Word, we will live it day by day. God's Word is not merely something we read or think about, but something we do. Belief, faith & trust must have hands & feet - ours!

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tuesday - The Sower & the Seed - Luke 8:4-15 - 2/21/17

Jesus often communicated spiritual truth through parables - short stories or descriptions that take a familiar object or situation & give it a starting new twist. By linking the known with the hidden & forcing listeners to think, parables can point to spiritual truths. A parable compels listeners to discover the truth for themselves, & it conceals the truth for themselves, & it conceals the truth from those too lazy or prejudiced to look for it. In reading Jesus' parables, we must be careful not to, read too much into them.


Why would a farmer allow precious seed to land "by the way side," upon rocks, or among thorns? He is using the acceptance method of hand-seeding a large field - casting it by handfuls as he walks through the field. That some of the seed produced no crop was not the fault of the faithful farmer or the seed. The yield depended on the condition of the soil where the seed fell. It is our responsibility to spread the seed (God's message), but we should not give up when some of our efforts fail. Remember, not every seed falls on good soil.


God told Isaiah that people would hear without understanding & see without perceiving, & this is what happened to Jesus. The parable of the soil was an accurate picture of the people's reaction to the rest of his parables.


Wayside people, like many of the religious leaders, refused to believe God's message. Hard-rock people, like many in the crowds who followed Jesus, believed his message but never got around to doing anything about it. Thorn-patch people, overcome by materialism, left no room in their lives for God. Good-soil people, in contrast to all the other groups, followed no matter what the cost.

Reference summary used from the Life Application Bible KJV, Tyndale House Publishing, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois