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Exploring Joseph's Story, part 14

Wednesday Evening Bible Study, 4/20/11

Songs

Exploring Joseph’s Story

Part 14: Today’s Decision is Tomorrow’s Destiny

– Pastor Ulysse

Genesis 49:1-33
  1. And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.
  2. Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.
  3. Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:
  4. Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.
  5. Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.
  6. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.
  7. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.
  8. Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.
  9. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
  10. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
  11. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:
  12. His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.
  13. Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.
  14. Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens:
  15. And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.
  16. Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.
  17. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
  18. I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.
  19. Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.
  20. Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.
  21. Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.
  22. Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
  23. The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:
  24. But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)
  25. Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:
  26. The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
  27. Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.
  28. All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them.
  29. And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
  30. In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a buryingplace.
  31. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.
  32. The purchase of the field and of the cave that is therein was from the children of Heth.
  33. And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.

Last time we left with Jacob. He had met with the two sons of Joseph. And now we see him in his last days. He said,

Genesis 49:1
  1. And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.

He is about to tell them what would happen to them. Would you like to know what would happen to you? Especially if you knew you were not right? Everybody wanted to be there; it was like the reading of a will.

I underestimated this chapter; we will have to come back to it as a series by itself. Everything I read in this chapter, I see in the church today, as we are also the children of Abraham by faith. Every one of us tonight should find something in this chapter; we all belong to one of those tribes. Now it is said, (I don’t know if it is true or not; I would have to ask Jim), that you don’t teach old dogs new tricks.

> No, you can.

I am glad, because Jacob knew their character, and most of what he was saying was based on their character. I know my children. I will not pronounce their blessing right now, but I will not be surprised at what they will become.

It is also said that if you have habits that you don’t fix before forty, after forty you will have them for life. So Jacob being with them for so long, he figured “Well, they are not going to change any more; that’s it.” But some of you are still young, spiritually. Some of you can change.

Jacob told them by looking back at his children’s lives. That’s why we say, “Today’s decision is tomorrow’s destiny. There is a time when we have to change course, when we have to stop, when we have to accelerate, or whatever. But we can not go on without paying attention to our behavior, because it will affect us for the rest of our lives.

I can tell you that I have a better future right now because I look back and see my mistakes; and I work with caution right now, so I do not make those mistakes. I expect a better future, because I will not repeat the mistakes of the past. Unfortunately, if you are young, you look to the future, because you do not have any past to look back on. That’s why you should have older people around you, so you can benefit from their experience.

Jacob started with Reuben the eldest, and finished with Benjamin the youngest, but he didn’t exactly go by age. He went in order by their respective mothers. I think he did that because that was easiest for him to remember.

So whenever he started with each one, he started with the main character that one had. As we read, I want you to look and decide to which tribe you belong.

Genesis 49:3
  1. Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:

Unstable as water. That was his quality; that was his character.

Genesis 49:4
  1. Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.

He could not control his emotion. He was up and down, up and down. We need to control our emotion, because it will affect our life. You have to have self-control. Reuben was unstable, but he was talented. He was strong and so forth, but he did not have the blessing, although he was the firstborn. You can see that he was unstable by remembering how he proposed to his father that he kill his sons if he failed to bring Benjamin back. He was unstable because he was double-minded.

Some people are unstable because they have too many choices. I like having only one or two suits and only one or two shoes, because it makes my choices easier.

Reuben was unstable, and he did not have the respect of his brothers. He was the first, but he did not act like it. When they were about to sell Joseph, he told them not to, but they did not listen to him. They went and sold Joseph behind his back. If they had respect for him, then they would have said, “Well, Reuben said no, so we will not.”

When I was in Haiti, I lent my clothes to a senator. We were friends, but when this man was at home, he had no respect. At work, he was a great man, but at home, his wife and children gave him no respect. He came to me one day and said, “Pastor, I need to talk to you. Nobody at my house respects me. What do you do to get respect from your family?” I don’t know. You have to earn it. You have to respect yourself first. If you have to ask for respect, then you haven’t earned it.

Stability comes from oneness of mind. Have focus, and you will be stable.

Genesis 49:5-6
  1. Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.
  2. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.

I think they caught an animal’s legs, and they killed a man, and you know the story; they went and revenged their sister. But their quality is self-will. They don’t listen to anyone. They think of something, and it sounds good, and they went and did it. And you know that when they revenged their sister, they put everyone in trouble. They had a strong bond of brotherhood, which you would think to be a good thing, but when they went together to make trouble, it was a bad thing. So Jacob said that he would separate them.

Levi at the end became a priest, and that was because he changed. He was the only one to stand and come back; so he earned that. It was a privilege, and God’s grace was still there. We should not be discouraged because a blessing or a cursing is upon us. There is always a chance. Of course, Jacob is saying, “These are the final words. There isn’t anything you can do about it; this is the path you chose, and this is the path where you will end.” What if you have a bad habit or whatever and you say, “I am over forty; no one can teach an old dog new tricks.” No, there is always a chance. Whatever major things I have in my life, I see it, but I cannot do anything about it. But it helped me, because I am not surprised. I am expecting it; I say “Where is it?” I am ready for it to be behind me. Jacob said, “There is nothing you can do; that’s it.” But God can still change things.

Genesis 49:8
  1. Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.

Judah’s name meant “praise”. Isn’t that great? So some of us are unstable; some of us are self-willed; but some of us give praise. Judah was the one to gain the birthright. So birth order does not determine the blessing. If you are firstborn but you are unstable, uncontrollable, or self-willed, then you will lose it. Judah proved his character and stability when he gave his speech in front of Joseph. The Bible says “show yourself approved,” whether you are the firstborn or the last.

Jesus taught his disciples not in a classroom, but by letting them follow him. This is how we prove ourselves, by doing what Jesus did, or what our parents did, or what our teachers did.

Genesis 49:13
  1. Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.

This is the gift of caring. His job was to care. Being a haven, he was a safe place to be. So it was a port, a safe place, a consoling place, a comforting place, a refuge. He was like a lighthouse. Some of us have this character. We may not be the praised one, or the unstable one, or the self-willed one, but we may be the safe one.

Issachar was the lazy one. Unfortunately, spiritually, some of us are from this tribe.

Genesis 49:14
  1. Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens:

I’m not sure you can understand this more than I can, because I grew up with donkeys. They can be walking along just fine, and the next thing you know, they drop down with their loads, and they will not get up. You can beat them and shake them and shout at them, but they will not get up. When you are buying a donkey, you have to find out whether the people are selling them because they have this bad habit. When the donkey is down, they still have this load. So they are strong, but lazy. This is those of us who only want the easy path. You are searching for whatever is easier.

Genesis 49:15
  1. And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

You become the servant when you could become the master. I know some people who will not take responsibility because they want time. They want to go home and have it easy. So this is the tribe of Issachar.

Now you have Dan, of whom it was said that he would be the judge of his people. But when you look at it, it does not sound like a positive thing.

Genesis 49:16-17
  1. Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.
  2. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.

That’s not good. This is what you would call a “backbiter.” This is like slandering. This is like being judged, but not according to facts, not according to knowledge. It is not righteous judgment. We know for sure that he is one who will be like a serpent and make the rider fall backward. That is not a good way to fall. Falling forward is better. And he stopped right there and said,

Genesis 49:18
  1. I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.

He realized, “My time is come. I’m going for real.” This is the first time that salvation is mentioned in the Bible, and Jacob saw glory in it. He is telling them what will take place, but as for him, he sees a much better place.

And he says of Gad, “You are the overcomer.” Some of us will be overcomer. We will always find things to humble us, but we will overcome them at the last. You know that the Bible says that all those who will live righteous shall suffer persecution, but if you are of the tribe of Gad, you will overcome.

He says that Asher shall be fat of bread. You know that it is said there are not many rich among us. You read about the national debt being something like 400 trillion dollars, but there are less than 300 million people, so why don’t they just give each of us one million? Do you think that will be good for the country?

Genesis 49:20
  1. Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.

So Asher was rich, and wherever you have givers, you also have takers. Remember when David prayed, “Let me be neither rich nor poor.” I think it is good that they don’t give each of us one million. Some of us would not go to work. So Asher was the one who was materially blessed, and he blessed others.

Genesis 49:21
  1. Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.

These are the joyful Christians. They always have a smile for you, and they stand fast in the liberty of God. There is nothing so bad that they could not give you good words. They are free. Being free, you feel free, and you have nothing hindering you. That’s Naphtali.

Of course, Joseph has been blessed, like Psalms 1:1. His branches are so blessed that people come by and take the fruit of them. And the other quality is that he does not retaliate. God held him from showing his human nature. He had his human nature, but he held back. That’s what happens, if we can. There is a saying in Creole about Thermos Christians. You fill up a Thermos with hot water, and it stays hot. But you can also fill it with cold water, and it stays cold. Some Christians are in church and they are nice, but if you see them outside of church, they are somebody else. But Joseph demonstrated his true transformed nature; he truly became that new creature, and so he received the blessing.

Benjamin was a tough fighter. Both Sauls came from him.

So this is the character of the children of Israel. I hope and pray that you can get something out of it, and put yourself spiritually with one of the sons of Israel. Remember it says,

Genesis 49:28
  1. All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them.

Everybody got blessed. Think about what kind of blessing you would get, and what kind of blessing you would want to have.

Finally, Jacob told them about his death and where he wanted to be buried. I want you to look with me at what he said about his burial site:

Genesis 49:31
  1. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.

That’s where he wanted to be buried. Doesn’t that say anything to you? Remember where he got Leah from? He was tricked. That wasn’t fair to him. He wasn’t happy about it. He spent so many years for the beautiful one, and they gave him the ugly one. The Bible says that, not me. The Bible says you couldn’t even look at her straight. So he had to work seven more years for Rachel. But now this man is about to die, and he asked to be buried by Leah, instead of Rachel. I know us guys have been tricked. The ladies get us by words or however. I don’t remember how I was tricked, but once you are trapped, that’s it. Because God can turn things out. The option is there, “Because I was tricked, I can get a divorce.” But not so. Jacob made a wise choice, because at the end, Judah came from Leah, and Jesus came from Judah. If you have a marriage, stay in it, regardless of how it got started. It’s like having a child. It is not an accident. I thought about how I was conceived, and I was an accident, but I wasn’t an accident.

I want you to think about how you can maximize your abilities so you can maximize your fruits. This will change the rest of your life. There may come a time when you will hear “Well done,” or else… We want to control our behavior. If we want to get Joseph’s blessing, then we know what we must do. If we want to have Judah’s blessing, then we know what we must do. There is a difference between engaging yourself and just participating. Try to engage. Take initiative.

There is a verse in John:

John 8:31-32
  1. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
  2. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

I would like to have that gift, to be free to preach or whatever. We need to abide in God’s word.

This is a great chapter; I hope you will go back to it and get what I cannot explain. If you spend time in it, you will think, “Oh, my goodness. What if I were one of them?” And if you are the wrong one, then you still have a chance, because God’s grace is there until you die. But be aware of what tribe you belong to.

Exploring Joseph's Story, part 13

Exploring Joseph’s Story, part 13

– Pastor Ulysse

Genesis 48:1-22
  1. And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
  2. And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed.
  3. And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me,
  4. And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.
  5. And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.
  6. And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.
  7. And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem.
  8. And Israel beheld Joseph’s sons, and said, Who are these?
  9. And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them.
  10. Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them.
  11. And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed.
  12. And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.
  13. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him.
  14. And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.
  15. And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day,
  16. The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
  17. And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head.
  18. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.
  19. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
  20. And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.
  21. And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers.
  22. Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.

Of course, this is continuing from chapter 47, where Joseph established a possession to give to his family. Now it’s about seventeen years later. Somebody came to Joseph and said, “Your father is sick.” He took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Something wonderful is about to happen here. Joseph knows this will probably be his last time to see his father alive, and he is expecting a blessing. He hurried, because he wanted the blessing. He said, “I must go.” I’m sure he was sad to see that his father would die, but he was also excited, because he was about to receive a blessing, and his sons would also receive a blessing.

I have never had the opportunity of having somebody rich to die and leave me in their will. I remember a time in our ministry; every day when you woke up, you would pray to God for an opportunity, “God, let me bless you.” It’s like the Samaritan lady, to whom Jesus said, “If you knew me, you would not offer me water, but you would ask me for water.” We sacrifice things our material things to get blessings, but we are not as eager as Joseph was to receive a blessing.

We read that when Joseph’s father heard he was coming, he strengthened himself. I look at this like the impact that a visit can bring. I mention this to say that, even when I was a senior pastor, I still did not like going to hospitals. But I know that I have to force myself, because somehow when someone knows you are going to visit them, they are happy. They want you to be there. I definitely do not want to be in the room when my wife is delivering, but she wants me to be there. So it means something to the sick. So in Joseph’s case, he went and received a double blessing.

Jacob spoke to Joseph and told how God appeared to him, and that God promised he would be fruitful and multiply. Then he adopted Joseph’s two sons, saying “They shall be as Reuben and Simeon. They shall be mine.” Joseph, you remember, was Rachel’s son, and Rachel was Jacob’s first love, the one he worked seven years and then seven more years for. Joseph was supposed to be Jacob’s first son, but God switched it around. God has some amazing ways to bring things back where they belong. It reminds me of Lazarus when his sister told Jesus, “I know there will be a resurrection,” and Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me shall have life, even if they were dead.” She didn’t understand how God could save us by killing us. But God has ways. There is not anything that God doesn’t have control.

So now there are fourteen tribes, but you don’t usually count the Levites as a tribe, and you don’t usually count Joseph as a tribe, but his two sons were two tribes.

Jacob is giving provision to his sons for the future, and how he should not stay in Egypt, but he should leave Egypt because he was just there for a mission. Jacob did not see Joseph as an Egyptian; he saw Joseph as his son, and he was giving advice to his son. He said, “The better days are yet to come. I want to tell you that spiritual promises are worth more than your worldly accomplishments.” God appeared to Abraham and gave those promises. God appeared to Isaac and renewed those promises. God appeared to Jacob and renewed those promises. But the Bible does not record anywhere that God appeared to any of the sons of Jacob.

Genesis 17:6-8
  1. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
  2. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
  3. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
Genesis 26:4-5
  1. And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
  2. Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
Genesis 35:11
  1. And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;

I don’t know if you make anything of this, but I make something of it. God told Abraham and Isaac that the will make them to exceed. But to Jacob he said, “Be fruitful and multiply.” After he told that to Jacob, that was it. He didn’t say anything to his children, because that was it. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, and the children of Israel became the several tribes, and it was complete. There are times when God does not have to add anything to your life, because he has already added everything that you need.

It’s like the vine he spoke of in Jeremiah. He said, “I have done everything I could for this vine. What more could I have done?” It’s like raising children. There comes a time when you have to say, “You are complete. You are grown; you have an education. It’s time for you to be fruitful and multiply; it’s time for you to go.” So now God tells Jacob, “Be fruitful and multiply.” There comes a time when God says, “You have been evangelized; you have been educated; you have been equipped. Go and be fruitful and multiply.”

Genesis 48:8
  1. And Israel beheld Joseph’s sons, and said, Who are these?

I don’t think that Jacob didn’t recognize his own grandsons. I think it’s possible that it’s like a legal ceremony. In a wedding, the preacher asks, “Who gives this woman?” And someone answers, “I do.” So I think that it’s possible that Jacob was performing like a legal ceremony. And again, it is possible that Jacob didn’t want to make the same mistake his father did, and bless the wrong one. Remember that these are not little kids; they are now in their early twenties.

So Jacob says, “Lo, I had not thought to see thy face, and now I have seen thy seed.” And Joseph was getting ready for the blessing, so he put Ephraim toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh toward Israel’s right hand. The right hand is for the firstborn, and the left hand is for the next one.

Genesis 48:16
  1. The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

Even though Israel was old, he was still smart in the head, so instead of putting his hands out straight, he crossed his hands.

Genesis 48:17
  1. And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head.

Joseph was angry. He said, “Not so, my father! This is the firstborn, and should receive the greater blessing.”

Genesis 48:18-19
  1. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.
  2. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.

When you are sure of what you are doing, you know it is of God, do you know the confidence that gives you? Even though your son is the prime minister, he cannot make you do any different, because this doesn’t have anything to do with flesh and blood. You know.

It wasn’t clear to Joseph at all. Joseph was frustrated. That really ruined his day. He came for a blessing, and that disturbed him. He probably was saying, “That doesn’t’ make any sense!” But remember that we are as clay in the hands of God. The law says that the firstborn will be blessed, but God is God. He can do whatever he wants. Jacob told Joseph, “You are prime minister. Your kingdom is Egypt. Relax and let me do my job. Mind your own business.”

I heard of a captain of a ship who was going to sail and the tourists came on-board, and he sent somebody to tell the passengers that a big storm was coming in a couple days, and they should be aware of that ahead of time. A lady sent a message to the captain, saying “That doesn’t make any sense. If you know it’s coming, why don’t we wait for it?” The captain sent back a message and said, “First, you must relax.” That is a way from him to say, “Mind your own business and let me do my job.” Secondly, he said, “This ship was built with that storm in mind. So we don’t have to wait for it to pass.”

God knows everything; he created the world. So we truly should relax, because God is in control.

Genesis 48:20-21
  1. And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.
  2. And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers.

What is the most desire you have for your children? He is dying, okay? Joseph was in a pretty good position. But instead, Jacob desired that Joseph go back. He desires that, “Hey, you return to your shepherd life and don’t be blinded by Egypt’s luxury. You still have to go back.” And today, our communication to our children in this world we live in is success, depending on how you define it. Do we desire that our children be blessed spiritually, and look at heaven more? Do we let them know that they are in Egypt, but they are not Egyptians? They are of Canaan; they are not of this world. There is a very good illustration in Exodus, where Pharaoh was trying to convince Moses to go, and leave the children behind.

Exodus 10:8-11
  1. And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the LORD your God: but who are they that shall go?
  2. And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD.
  3. And he said unto them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you.
  4. Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.

Pharaoh said, “Hey, I’m going to let you go, but tell me: who else is going?” And Moses said, “We are not going to leave our sons and daughter behind. Whether small or big, they are all going.” But you know how it works nowadays. We love church; church is okay, but if they can be successful somewhere else; they are still Christians; they can go to church wherever they are. But church is not emphasized. You know how it goes; give Satan an inch and he’ll become the whole ruler.

It’s not easy; it’s very, very hard. But we cannot feel comfortable as parents if we are in church and our children are not. It really hurts. Some of us, we desire them to be there, and we do our best, but their will is not under our control. But for many, they say “I will let them go their way and make their own choice.” Before they are eighteen, they don’t have a choice. You don’t give them a choice of whether to go to school. It’s the same way for church. You emphasize spiritual blessings over the material blessings. Definitely if you want to leave one things to your kids, definitely it should be spiritual blessings. If you are dying like Jacob was dying, you would definitely want your children to embrace a spiritual life.

There is one more scripture that I truly, truly like. It’s about Abraham, and God said that he knew Abraham. You know, he was talking about Lot, and God said, “I cannot do this thing without telling Abraham. I know this man; I know he will teach his children, so I have to tell him.”

Genesis 18:17-19
  1. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
  2. Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
  3. For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

God says, “I know him. I know he will command his household, and his children after him.” That’s what Jacob is doing. He isn’t counting how many cows he has or how much money in the bank. No, he is making sure that he passes on a spiritual blessing. Are we doing that nowadays? Are we teaching our children the value of spiritual blessings? Or are we teaching them about money and how to manage it? I don’t know how you do it. We should teach our children how to manage money, but if you know how to manage money and you don’t know how to manage your spiritual life, it won’t make any difference. We definitely need to know how important it is to be ready for eternal life. The blessings we have today, that’s what will carry us through. And the things we teach our children, God is observing.

Today I learned something I thought I would never learn. I try to learn something every day, but today I had to ask, “Did I really learn this today, or did I know it already?” We are the light of the world, but it seems like we are all flashing our lights at each other. We are become the light of the church, not the light of the world. Everybody is nice in church, because all the lights are there. There is no dark spot. But we need to shine our light outside of church. If we don’t start at home, then our children will not know how important it is, if we don’t command them. And God said, “I know that Abraham will command his children, and their children after them.” And this is what Jacob did. So whatever we teach our children, the most important thing is to teach them to receive spiritual blessings.

Matthew 6:33
  1. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Be Not Weary in Well-Doing

Be Not Weary In Well Doing

– Jay Hunemuller

Galatians 6:9
  1. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Who knows the difference between being weary and being lazy?

  • Being lazy means you have the ability but not the desire. Weary means you have the desire and you’re doing it, but it’s wearing you down.

  • Being lazy is an attitude. You can’t be weary if you haven’t done anything, but you can be lazy and not do anything.

weary:
to be (bad or) weak, i.e. (by implication) to fail (in heart) – faint, be weary.

The scripture tells us to not be weary in well doing, for in due season, after having passed through this life, we shall reap

lazy:
disinclined to activity or exertion, not energetic or vigorous.

moving slowly or sluggish, not rigorous or strict.

Laziness likes company. There’s nothing really wrong with taking rest, but we’re going to talk about some of the reasons we become weary.

Proverbs 21:25-26
  1. The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.
  2. He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.

So the desire of the slothful killeth him. He has a desire, but no motivation behind it to get that desire. It’s not necessarily talking about coveting money; the scripture goes on to say that he won’t get up to eat because there may be a lion in the streets.

Name some things that can cause you to become weary:

  • I’m the only one doing it.
  • Rejection
  • Overburdened
  • Eyes on yourself
  • Continuing in the same thing, day after day.
  • Not being focused.
  • Much study is a weariness to the flesh.
  • Lack of progress.
  • Expectations too high.
  • Didn’t count the cost; bit off more than you could chew.
  • Burnout
  • Frustration
  • Sin, weights, cares of this life
  • Loss of purpose, relationship
  • Lack of faith, discipline
  • Distress, grief

The Bible says that Satan would try to wear out the patience of the saints. But it also says that we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices.

Burnout

Let’s talk about burnout. That’s what would have happened to Moses, but fortunately he was able to overcome it through a scriptural remedy.

Exodus 18:13-18
  1. And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.
  2. And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?
  3. And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God:
  4. When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.
  5. And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.
  6. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.

How many people, at a minimum estimate, was Moses trying to judge?

> Over a million people.

That’s a lot of people to be trying to handle their problems, every day. Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law. He said, “You’re going to get burned out fast. You can’t do it alone. You’ve got to build a team.” We mentioned biting off more than you could chew. Got gave him this responsibility, but if he would have tried to do it all by himself, he would have bitten off more than he could chew. So Jethro gave Moses a good plan. He said to build a team and a hierarchy, so that the smaller matters could be handled at the lower levels, and the big things, they’ll bring to Moses.

Ecclesiastes 10:10
  1. If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.

Jethro gave Moses some wisdom, and it’s like giving him an axe. The sharper it is, the better. He gave Moses a plan, and Moses implemented that plan. It came through his father-in-law, but it was from God, because it was wisdom.

Lack of Discipline

Who knows the story of Samson? It’s in Judges, from the end of chapter 13 through chapter 16. Samson was someone of whom it was prophesied that he would deliver Israel. The one thing that God told him never to do was, he was not supposed to cut his hair. But the problem is, he kind-of did whatever he wanted to. He fell into sin, and gave up his secret to the enemy, so they cut his hair, captured him, and put out his eyes. He was made weak through sin and lack of discipline in his spiritual life.

Proverbs 25:28
  1. He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
Proverbs 29:18
  1. Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Loss of Focus

Let’s look at another example, involving Peter:

Matthew 14:29-31
  1. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
  2. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
  3. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

So we see that first he lost his focus, then he became afraid. When he began to sink, that’s when he began his recovery. That was a pretty quick thing, but we can do the same. If we lose our focus, and cry out to God, he’ll put us right back on track. The sooner we do that, the sooner we’ll be all right. We don’t have to sink and blubber and hold our breath and so on.

Sins and Weights

Another story is about David and Bathsheba. Is there anybody who is not familiar with that story? It begins with 2 Samuel chapter 11. He saw this beautiful woman, Bathsheba, and he sent for her and had sex with her. When he found out she was with child, he called in the husband and told him to go to his wife. But the man had so much integrity, that … He was the king of Israel, so God had a big problem with that, and he had to suffer the consequences for the rest of his life. The consequences were the wars that he fought, and then his son Absalom who tried to take the kingdom away from him. David repented, and God saw fit to forgive him. We can read in Psalms 51 where he sought restoration and renewal.

So if you find yourself in sin, whether big or small, you can repent and seek restoration.

Psalms 51:10-13
  1. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
  2. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
  3. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
  4. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

If that worked for David, most of us aren’t dealing with adultery and murder, but even if you are, God has restoration for you.

Absalom died in battle, because he was going to take over the kingdom, and that wasn’t part of God’s plan, and David was struck with grief. His grief caused him to lose sight of the kingdom. His captain, Joab said, “Hey, do you love your enemies and hate your friends? All Israel will leave you if you don’t speak comfortably to them.” Joab reminded David of his purpose. Sometimes we need to be reminded of our purpose, too.

Proverbs 20:18
  1. Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.

So if you’re losing sight of your purpose, if you start wondering why you’re doing what you’re doing, then get counsel. That’s what Moses got from Jethro. Every purpose is established by counsel.

Loss of Love

Revelation 2:3-5
  1. And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
  2. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
  3. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

The love and the works kind-of go together. When you love someone, you do something about it, and when you love God, you do something about it. Love is an action verb.

How to Overcome Weariness

  • Get counsel; get wisdom
  • Build a team

    Even the strong are sometimes weak. So even if you’re not going to lead a team, be on a team.

  • Renewal, restoration, re-energize

  • Have a clear vision and purpose
  • Put legs on our faith

    We didn’t have time to cover this, but James chapter 2 covers it, as well as Proverbs 16:3

Ecclesiastes 9:10
  1. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

This talks about overcoming weariness through faith and a relationship with God:

Psalms 91:1-8
  1. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
  2. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
  3. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
  4. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
  5. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
  6. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
  7. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
  8. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

So stay in that dwelling-place, that habitation with God. Keep a close relationship with him, because you’ll be delivered. Things will happen to other people, but not to you. You want to be that example. How else will people know to come under the shadow of God’s wing?

Fighting the Good Fight of Faith

Endurance is important. Sometimes we just need to be able to see beyond the current circumstances of our existence.

1 Timothy 6:11-12
  1. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
  2. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

So basically, it’s saying to flee from the works of the flesh and fight the good fight of faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2
  1. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
  2. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Why Should I Get Married?

Practical Application Study, 3/23/11

Songs

Intro

– Jonathan Santiago

Our goal is not to win the argument, but to win the soul. There are people walking around who know the word of God, but all they want to do is argue with Christians. No matter how well you argue the scripture, you won’t win with these people. But we can hold up the word of God while we reach out to their soul. When we talk to those people, we shouldn’t just answer them out of a knowledge of the scripture, but out of a concern for their soul.

Why Should I Get Married?

– Mike Jackson

You’re going to hear that question in many forms. “Why should I get married?” “What’s the big deal with marriage?” We’re going to answer these questions from the word of God. If we were going to answer outside the word of God, the answer is simple: “Do whatever you want.”

Why is marriage a big deal to God?

Marriage was instituted by God. It’s not an invention of man.

Genesis 2:18
  1. And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
Genesis 2:21-24
  1. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
  2. And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
  3. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
  4. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

I look at this like God performed the first marriage. He made Eve, his daughter. We are all the children of God; Eve was his daughter. And as a father would give his daughter’s hand in marriage, God did so to Eve. So God didn’t just say to Adam and Eve, “You guys can hang out; it’s all good.”

Hebrews 13:4
  1. Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

I want you to hold onto this part, because I’m going to come back to it. “Marriage is honorable in all.”

1 Corinthians 7:8-9
  1. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
  2. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

Marriage was sanctioned by God. It’s not just something that man made up. You hear people talking about the different marriage traditions and customs, but it’s not about that.

The very first miracle that Jesus performed; do you remember where it was?

> It was at a marriage.

That may just have been a coincidence, but there’s not many coincidences in the Bible. I don’t know if that has any significance, but I just thought it was kind of cool. If you want to read about it, look at John chapter 2.

What is marriage?

First and foremost, marriage is a ministry. Within that ministry, God has ordained companionship.

Malachi 2:14
  1. Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.

It’s not necessarily the ceremony that is important when it comes to marriage. What’s important is the covenant of commitment to God. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not saying that the marriage ceremony isn’t important. A lot of people say, “It’s not for me; it’s for everybody else. I don’t need to prove my love and devotion to this person. God already knows.” This is the stuff that some people truly believe. But the Bible has an answer for everything.

At my job, I’m a tester. I test things to see if they meet the requirements. As I’m doing that, I say, “These are the things that it’s supposed to do, without fail.” But then I find that there are other requirements that should also meet. We tend to call those “derived requirements.” It’s the same thing with the Bible. There are some things that aren’t there as far as the letter goes. The Bible doesn’t exactly say, “Don’t smoke.” But there are some things that you can derive that message from.

Romans 12:17
  1. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Remember that we said the marriage bed is honorable. Have you ever heard it said, “I’m going to make an honest woman out of her.” Maybe not; you don’t hear it much anymore. They used to say that because, maybe some things were going on that weren’t supposed to be going on, so to make those things legitimate, they’ll get married.

2 Corinthians 8:21
  1. Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

Some people say, “My testimony is between me and God. That’s it. But is it? Is it just you and God? Your testimony is not only seen by God, but it’s seen by every person you meet, every day.

1 Timothy 5:14-15
  1. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
  2. For some are already turned aside after Satan.

Here’s the question that I pose. If you’re so against getting married, ask yourself “Why?” Some people just want to be rebels. They don’t like to conform. But the question is, what’s the problem with it? What is keeping you from it? If that significant other that you have is the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with, and you say, “Living with that person is showing my dedication; it’s fulfilling the scripture that says two shall become one flesh, so it’s like being married.” People who say that are kind-of tripping over their own words. If it’s like being married, then it’s not the same as being married. So why not just get married? Go to the justice of the peace and stand there before men and God. Just do it. Why not?

People say, “God knows my heart.” God does know our heart. People try to dance around God, but God isn’t fooled.

Romans 13:1-2
  1. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
  2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

You live in this world; there’s no denying that. There are laws and ordinances that we have to live with, whether we agree with them or not. Some people don’t think there should be a speed limit. Go ahead and tell that to the nice guys who wait by the side of the road and always want to talk to you when you’re in a hurry. You know, the guyss with the lights on the top of their cars? Go ahead and tell one of those guys that the speed limit doesn’t apply to you. Keep that same story as you go before the judge and see how that goes for you. So it doesn’t matter whether you agree with it or not. It’s not about customs; it’s not about a show. It’s about doing what God said.

Romans 7:6
  1. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Some people point to the Old Testament and say, “There’s a lot of people in the Old Testament who didn’t get married.” They probably can’t show you very many examples, but guess what? There are a lot of things in the Old Testament that don’t apply to us today. And there are a lot of things that do. All those things were done for our example.

Living together without beiing married

The main reason that marriage exists is simply to encourage us, to prevent us from committing the sin of fornication. That word “fornication” is an ugly word. I don’t even like saying it.

Fornication:
Sexual immorality, or illicit sexual intercourse.

We know and understand that any sex outside of marriage is fornication. In the Old Testament, the penalty for that sin was death. If you got caught, I’m sorry. I hope that for you, it was working out.

Let’s go back to our key scripture:

Hebrews 13:4
  1. Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

If you’re unmarried, and you’re living together with someone, can you really have a ministry? What type of ministry can you have? People who are single focus solely on the things of God. People who are married also focus on the things of God, ministering to their families and other married families.

So, you’re in a relationship, and you’re not married, but you’re living together, so it’s kind-of more than dating. If you’re in-between, what type of ministry do you have? What is your focus in ministry?

1 Corinthians 7:32-35
  1. But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
  2. But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.
  3. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
  4. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

There’s something that I really like in verse 34: “There is a difference also between a wife and a virgin.” You’re either married, or you’re not. There’s no in-between.

If you go on a date with somebody, and you find that you’re not compatible, do you go out on a second date?

> No.

So you find that person who is compatible, and you go out on a second date. You don’t date that person year after year after year after year. You don’t keep stringing them along. Usually one or both parties are looking to move on to the next phase.

So if you’re single, and you’re dating, and living together, but you’re not really dating, because you’ve moved beyond that, because you’re living together, but you’re not really married, but sort-of like married, …

Am I confusing anybody? If it’s confusing, is it of God?

There is a part of the law that’s there for a reason. It’s called “common-law marriage”. Even the law recognizes that, if you’re going to hang together that long, (I think in most states it’s seven years), then you’ve got to be committed.

Some

In the next portion, I’m going to read a lot of scriptures, and there’s not going to be a lot of commentary, because these things are kind-of cut-and-dried.

1 Corinthians 7:2
  1. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

“To avoid fornication.” I mentioned that marriage is for that. Some people think that just sharing themselves with one another makes them marriage. If that’s true, then there are a lot of people practicing polygamy. If that’s the case, how can it be considered immoral by God? The scripture says to avoid this, let every man have his own wife. There is absolutely no Biblical support for polygamy.

Let’s look down at verses 8 and 9:

1 Corinthians 7:8-9
  1. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
  2. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

If having sex means you should get married, because it’s better to marry than to burn, then obviously there’s something wrong with sex outside of marriage.

Acts 15:20
  1. But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
1 Corinthians 5:1
  1. It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

Some people say, “I don’t understand what the big deal is. We can live together and not do anything.”

My answer to that is: “Right. Sure.” But let’s go with that for a minute. What does the Bible say about appearance? It says to avoid the appearance of evil.

Galatians 5:19-21
  1. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
  2. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
  3. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Ephesians 5:3
  1. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

I just read where it says “abstain from every appearance of evil.” And here it says, “Let it not be named once among you,” if you are saints.

1 Corinthians 7:1
  1. Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

You don’t have to get married. I didn’t read any scriptures that say you have to get married. But here’s the caveat: as long as you are willing to be celibate. A lot of people aren’t willing to live with that caveat. So guess what? It’s time for those people to move on to the next phase of their ministry, the next phase of their life.

Q&A

– Jonathan Santiago

You are doing people a disservice and a discredit to God if you are lenient with people, as far as what the word of God says. We want to be as approachable as possible, but if you alter what the word of God says, you aren’t helping that person at all.

Question
Why do I need to get married? I don’t understand what the big deal is.
Answer
Technically, you don’t. The Bible doesn’t say every man and woman need to get married. Why do you ask? Do you have a girlfriend or something?
Question
Yeah, I’m in a relationship, and we’re committed to each other. But I don’t see what’s the big deal with getting married.
Answer
Do you see this relationship as being romantic, and are you guys doing what comes naturally?
Question
Well, yeah, of course.
Answer
The Bible says that fornication, which is sex without marriage, is sin. God has given us fornication to avoid this sin. I assume that you want to have sex, and I can understand how having sex with only one woman would seem like a sacrifice, but the Bible says that whoever finds a wife finds a good thing and favor from the Lord. So yes, it’s a sacrifice, but it’s also a huge blessing.

Question
So me and my girlfriend, we love each other. I’ve told her I love her and she’s told me she loves me. Does getting a piece of paper in front of a judge and witnesses really matter?
Answer
I look at it this way. We’re subject to the laws we live under. God says that he has given authority, and we need to submit to that authority. The law even has something called common-law marriage. If you want to stand against all that, can you really say that you are following God? So the
Question
So the Bible says that you shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage, and I’m okay with that. But couldn’t me and my Christian girlfriend live together and just not have sex until we decide to get married?
Answer
The Bible says that you should avoid the very appearance of evil. Do you really want to fight the battle of defending your relationship and testimony against the assumption that you’re doing what comes naturally behind closed doors? You could very well be living together and respecting each other, but what does it look like from the outside? And do you really want to expose yourself to that kind of temptation? Unless you have some kind of super-human super-Christian strength I wouldn’t if I were you.
Question
Me and my girlfriend really, truly love each other. And eventually, we’re going to get married. We’re committed to each other, and we’re living with each other, but we’re not doing anything. What’s so wrong with that?
Answer
I admire you for knowing the word of God and that it forbids sex outside of marriage. For me, if I saw a guy and a girl going into the same apartment at night, and leaving in the morning, you kind-of know what happened, right? I keep some scriptures on the wall to motivate me, and one of them just says, “Don’t be an idiot.”
Question
Is that really a scripture?
Answer
If it isn’t, it should be. So even though my flesh would like to snuggle on the couch with Holly all night, I respect Holly and I respect God too much to do that. I know it’s wrong, and even if I didn’t, the spirit of God says to me, “Don’t be an idiot.”

Question
My girlfriend and I love each other and everything, but I just don’t understand what’s so important about getting married?
Answer
Before I answer your question, I need to ask you something, just to establish where you’re coming from. Are you looking to make it into the kingdom of God?
Question
Yeah, sure.
Answer
Awesome! So now I know that I can share with you about the word of God. Because the wold can do whatever they want to do, but we are held to a higher standard. The Bible says very clearly, (Genesis 2:18) I can show you a lot more when we have time, but the scripture is very clear. If you want to avoid fornication, then marriage is the way to avoid fornication. It isn’t just something you do in front of a justice of the peace and other people, it’s an adherence to the word of God.

Question
My girlfriend and I really love each other, and we’ve talked to each other about getting married. But I don’t see what’s the big deal about having a piece of paper to prove that you’re married. What is the difference between a spiritual marriage and having a piece of paper to prove it?
Answer
Are you interested in having a spiritual marriage? Do you want to know what the word of God says about it?
Question
That’s kind of why I asked.
Answer
One of the things I’ve learned is that God judges us by our actions, and not only our thoughts. If God judged me by every time I had an angry thought, I’d be in trouble. The Bible says in Corinthians that marriage is honorable in all, and to provide things honest in the sight of all men. So God is a judger not just of what you think, but of what you do.

Question
My girlfriend and I have been living together for a while, and we’re pretty committed. We’re eventually going to get married. What’s the problem with living together if we’re going to get married anyway? I want to let you know, that we’re not doing anything. So what’s the big deal? what’s the Bible say about it?
Answer
It’s a good thing that you’re looking to find answers from the Bible, because God and his word is very clear about marriage. God instituted the first marriage between Adam and Eve, and it’s really a commitment between two people. The Bible talks about having a testimony before God and man. So when you get married, you’re taking those vows before God and man, and you’re not leaving yourself an “out”, so to speak. The Bible says that marriage is also a way to avoid fornication.
Question
But we’re not doing anything.
Answer
And I admire you for that. You’re a very strong person. But what does it look like to other people? The Bible says to avoid the very appearance of evil. And temptation works both ways, for yourself and your girlfriend. So the Bible gives us a way to avoid those things.

Does God Hate Gay People?

Practical Applications Study, 3/16/11

Songs

Intro

  • Mike Jackson

We’re going to be going over a topic that has a lot of emotion attached to it. One of the things we’ll be doing is to look at the topic and what God has to say about it. There are a lot of radicals who are excited, to say the least, to get out what they have to say about this topic. And the reason is, they have a hard time separating the sin from the sinner.

Does God Hate Gay People?

  • Scott Shepherd

There are two sides to this issue that really get put out a lot. There’s the side of the gay movement people who march and have parades and get their lifestyle out front and center. The other side is people who go to funerals and wave picket signs that say “God hates gay people.” It is unfortunate that these appear to be the only two sides, because neither one is really Christ-like.

2 Timothy 3:16
  1. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

I can say with great that God does not hate gay people. God does not hate anyone. Let’s look at the example of the woman that the well to illustrate how God deals with this topic.

John 4:1-6
  1. When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
  2. (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
  3. He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
  4. And he must needs go through Samaria.
  5. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
  6. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

The shortest route from Jerusalem to Galilee was through Samaria. But the Jews did whatever they could to avoid the area, because they considered the Samaritans to be unclean. They had a history of intermarrying, and the blood line wasn’t pure anymore. The religious people of that time didn’t want to interfere with what was going on in Samaria, and the religious people of today don’t wan to have anything to do with the homosexual movement, unless they’re picketing funerals or something.

[John 8;48]

It’s like in today’s society when we say, “That’s gay!” But Jesus ignored the prejudice, and he walked right up to the woman at the well.

The reason is this:

Luke 19:10
  1. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

In another scripture it says, they that are whole need not a physician. God came for those who are sinners, and by the way, that includes all of us.

John 3:16-17
  1. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
  2. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

The word “world” is not exclusionary. There is nobody who is left out by that. God loves everybody. He loves me; he loves you; he loves all of the idiosyncrasies about us. When people are dealing with something, they need to know that God loves them, first. Jesus even taught us to love our enemies. We were all once enemies of God when we were sinners, but he still died for us, because he loves us.

John 4:7-9
  1. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
  2. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
  3. Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

Paul writes about this, and Jesus extends himself to this woman. Before he says anything else, he engages the woman to find out more about her.

1 Timothy 2:3-5
  1. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
  2. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
  3. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Christ came to save everyone, and he is the one we should direct people to. We should teach people, “You need to know the love of Christ.” Jesus did that to the woman at the well.

John 4:10-14
  1. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
  2. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
  3. Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
  4. Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
  5. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

So it was about the sixth hour, or about noon. This was the heat of the day. This isn’t when most people came to the well; most of them came in the morning. But this woman, aware of the sin in her life, avoided the other people and their snide comments. People who are dealing with the sin of homosexuality don’t need a diagnosis of their lifestyle; they need the cure. If you would ask a homosexual, “What do Christians think about your lifestyle,” most of them would say “They think I’m going to hell.”

Romans 5:6-8
  1. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
  2. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
  3. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus came and died for each and every one of us. No one sin is greater than another sin. God came to save all the sinners, not “all sinners except for the homosexuals” or “all sinners except you crazy drunks.”

Continuing with the story, we find that the woman responds to the love that Jesus showed her:

John 4:15-19
  1. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
  2. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
  3. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
  4. For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
  5. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

Jesus already knew the sin that was in her life, so he gently coaxed it out of her. Not only was she living with a man outside of marriage, but she had had five husbands, so she was technically living in adultery. So Jesus, upholding the Biblical principle of marriage, let her know that she wasn’t doing right.

There is another scripture that really highlights this topic and what we should do about it:

Matthew 19:4-8
  1. And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
  2. And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
  3. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
  4. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
  5. He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

What Jesus was referencing was:

Genesis 2:24
  1. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

The Bible gives one man one woman, and makes a distinction between male and female. There is a Biblical standard that we as Christians should uphold, and we can’t shrink away from it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a consenting adult or not. If you’re a Christian, anything outside of heterosexual marriage is sin. So God specifically chose to do things a certain way, and because of the sin in our life, it got perverted.

1 Corinthians 6:15-20
  1. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.
  2. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
  3. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
  4. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
  5. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
  6. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

God came as the man Jesus Christ, and died and was crucified for our sins. Yet somehow we have the audacity to say, “Oh, no. I know better.” Sin has a way of puffing us up with our own ideas. But the fact is, our bodies are no longer our own; we’re bought with a price. We have to bring every thought into captivity. Every thought that is not of God, we must cast out into the depths of hell.

Continuing the story:

John 4:20-26
  1. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
  2. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
  3. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
  4. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
  5. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
  6. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
  7. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

This is one of the few times that Jesus revealed himself as messiah to anyone beside the disciples. But Jesus wants to reveal himself as messiah to everyone. When we go out and witness to people, we need to represent Christ, and not our own prejudices and ideologies. Some people say, “I’ll try anything once.” And what happens is, people identify themselves by their sexuality. But we need to identify ourselves not as gay or straight or bi or any other orientation. We need to identify ourselves by Christ.

Jesus didn’t condemn the woman at the well, but neither did he justify her:

John 8:10-11
  1. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
  2. She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

It’s not our job as Christians to excuse the sin in anyone’s life. It is our job as Christians to hold up the mirror, show them the sin in their lives, and teach them how to sin no more. Jesus seeks people who will worship him in spirit and in truth. We have to abandon the fleshly desires, and seek the desires of God.

We all struggle with sexual temptation in our life. We need to not excuse sin, but call it for what it is.

Romans 7:18
  1. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

We have a sinful nature. We of ourselves are not good. There are people who will try to tell you that “people are basically good.” That’s not true. If we would do things of ourselves, we would destroy ourselves. We have to accept that.

There are specific scriptures that talk about homosexuality. We’re not going to go into all of them, but we’re going to look at these four:

Leviticus 8:22
  1. And he brought the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram.
Leviticus 20:13
  1. If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
  1. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
  2. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
  3. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Timothy 1:8-11
  1. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
  2. Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
  3. For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
  4. According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

The gospel is committed to our trust, and we have to call sin what it is. But we have to be careful not to say, “Oh, I just read that homosexuality is an abomination.” It says in Proverbs 6 that seven other things are also abominations:

Proverbs 6:17-19
  1. A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
  2. An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
  3. A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
1 John 3:15
  1. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

We shed innocent blood when we spew hatred to other people. Yes, homosexuality is an abomination, but so are lying and a proud look. If you say to someone, “I’m better than you, because at least I’m not a homosexual,” that’s a proud look, which is an abomoniation.

Paul said,

1 Corinthians 6:11
  1. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

He went on and listed all these things: fornicators, idolators, adulterers, abusers of themselves with mankind (which is homosexuality, by the way). These are people who were living that life, and now they are washed in the blood of Christ. There is hope for these people; through Christ we can be changed. Through Christ, I don’t have to give in to my desire to go out and have sex with every beautiful woman I see.

We need to approach people on an equal playing field, knowing that the only thing that separates us is that I have the love of Jesus Christ in my life. Some people say, “There are only seven scriptures in the Bible about homosexuality.” So? How many do you need, thirty? Some

The four scriptures I listed are probably not the best place to start when you’re dealing with someone who has sin in their life. We need to show them Jesus Christ and him crucified. When they acept that, then we share with them about letting go of their old life and becoming a new creature in Christ.

Some Christians say of those who are gay, that they chose to be gay. Someone who is dealing with the temptation of homosexuality in their life didn’t chose that temptation. So a better thing to say is, “I know that you didn’t chose that temptation, but there is a way out of it.” We all have temptations, but none of us went to the supermarket and went down the aisle tossing temptation into our shopping basket. Satan chooses our temptations based on our weaknesses. Whether we choose to act on that temptation is another story. We need to run from sin as fast as we can. I heard one preacher say, “You need to have your own track shoes, because temptation is coming.”

1 Corinthians 10:13
  1. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

We need to run as fast as we can from sin, especially sexual sin, because it is a part of our biology. Sex feels good, so people are going to want to do it. You need to flee from sexual sin.

We all deal with different types of temptation. For me, life is like a “Where’s Waldo?” book. Only for me, it’s “Where’s the hot girl?” If “Where’s Waldo?” was “Where’s the hot girl?” then I would have a gold medal. I would be the world champion.

There is sin in our life, and we have to run from it. We have to understand that we are not good in and of ourselves.

We’ll finish up the story of the woman at the well, then we’ll move on to practical applications.

John 4:27-39
  1. And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?
  2. The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
  3. Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
  4. Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.
  5. In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.
  6. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.
  7. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?
  8. Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
  9. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
  10. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
  11. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
  12. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
  13. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

It’s not our job to clean people up and bring them to Jesus. It’s our job to bring people to Jesus and let him clean them up.

2 Corinthians 5:17
  1. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

We’re supposed to go out and sow, and reap, and bring people to Christ. It’s not our job to judge other people’s life. Some people will bring up the question of whether some people are “born gay.” I would avoid the subject altogether, because it really doesn’t matter one way or another. The Bible is very clear on what must be done.

Practical Application (Q&A)

– Mike Jackson

Question
Scott, if someone is gay, are you saying they can’t get into heaven?
Answer
What do you mean by “gay?” Is that someone who is attracted to the same sex, or someone who is actively engaged in homosexual activity?
Question
Either one. Okay, if someone is attracted to the same sex.
Answer
For someone who is attracted to the same sex, I’m not saying that at all. That’s no more sin than my own attraction to women. But for someone who is actively engaged in homosexual activity, the Bible says they shall not inherit eternal life. It’s the same as any other sin that God came to separate us from.
Question
Mike, why do Christians seem to hate gay people so much?
Answer
First of all, I don’t think they do. The God I serve teaches us to have compassion, so someone who truly serves God won’t hate anyone. If someone says that they hate gay people, then the true question is whether that person is a Christian. A lot of people have trouble separating the sin from the sinner. But if a Christian is truly being Christ-like, they won’t have that hate in their life.
Question
I’m gay. That’s me. Are you telling me that I can’t be saved?
Answer
I understand that you feel like being gay defines who you are. But that doesn’t mean that God hates you. It just means that you have to give that struggle over to a God who loves you. He loves you so much that he who was perfect died for you. So no, God doesn’t hate you, but he does want something better for you. He wants you to have a life that is eternal, not temporary. When we live in our own bodily desires, we live a life of corruption. But when we turn our desires over to Christ, we learn that he truly loves us and wants the best for us.
Question
Why is being gay a sin?
Answer
It’s one of those things where we have to examine the scriptures and line up ourselves with the word of God. You see the plan of God, how that he made woman for man, and man for woman. In the context of the scriptures, there were those who were married, and those who stayed single. Both could be effective in ministry.
Question
Why does the church tolerate other sins, like prostitution in Nevada, and bars open on every street-corner, but condemns homosexuality?
Answer
The Bible also says that drunkenness is a sin, even though many churchgoers get drunk all the time. You can’t lump all those people together and call them “the church.” You were talking about things that the government has done. But if you’re talking about the church of God, that’s entirely different. We have to look at the gospel of Christ and let that judge our lives, not what other people do.

Why Do I Need To Go To Church?

Practical Applications Bible Study, 3/9/11

Songs

Introduction

– Scott Shepherd

We wanted to reiterate the purpose of this series. It is not to give you a set response to every question. I want to remind you of what Jesus said to the disciples:

Matthew 10:16-20
  1. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
  2. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
  3. And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
  4. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
  5. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

The disciples walked, talked, and had a relationship with Christ. If we seek out that same relationship, that same communion with God, we won’t have to seek out the words to speak; we’ll have the words to answer. So this series is not to give you the words, but to give you the concepts and the confidence you need.

Why Bother Going To Church?

– Adam Paine

> I’m a Christian. Why should I have to go to church?

A co-worker of mine came to me and said, “I used to go to church when I was a little kid. But now I pray; I study my Bible, and I’m okay with that.” I don’t doubt it. I said, “That’s great. But is God okay with that?” We have to let that be our focus. It’s not about what we want, but about what God wants.

People who ask this question believe they have a relationship with God. You don’t hear people say, “I don’t believe in God. Why should I have to go to church?”

Hebrews 10:24-25
  1. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
  2. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

What is “going to church”? Obviously, we’re here on Wednesday because we have so much fun on Sunday that we said, “Let’s do it on Wednesday, too.” But the main church day for most people is Sunday. The word “sabbath” is referenced in the ten commandments. One of the ten things written in stone was to observe the sabbath.

Exodus 20:8-10
  1. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  2. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
  3. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

The sabbath is observed on the seventh day, in remembrance of God resting on the seventh day from all his work.

Genesis 2:2-3
  1. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
  2. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

When you look at the sabbath, you think “Okay, it’s a celebration of God resting.” But did God rest? No. The sabbath is a gift from God. Creating the world in seven days did not wear God out. He didn’t say “I want to sit back and watch football.”

Exodus 31:13
  1. Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.

So it’s for everybody in the “children of Israel”. We know that Jesus came, and now we are counted among the “children of Israel”.

The Jews have 89 rules about what you can and cannot do on the sabbath, but these are rules created by man. This gets into what we call “legalism”. But God just said to observe the sabbath.

Here in Mark it says that Jesus and the disciples were working through the fields and began to pluck the corn; in Matthew it says they rubbed the kernels between their hands.

Mark 2:23-28
  1. And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.
  2. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
  3. And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?
  4. How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?
  5. And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
  6. Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

So this is Jesus making reference to something that David did. The story is, David and his men were hungry, so they went to the high priest. The high priest said, “All I have is the shewbread.” Now the shewbread, according to one of those 89 rules, was something you couldn’t eat. Nobody could eat it but the high priest. But David said, “We’re all sanctified; feed us,” and he did. If you want to read more, it’s in 1 Samuel chapter 21.

Saturday or Sunday?

Some Christians observe the sabbath on Saturday; some observe it on Sunday. That’s kind of why we have a five-day work-week and a two-day weekend, because we didn’t know which day to observe the sabbath on, so we get both. You gotta love the American way.

Colossians 2:16-19
  1. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
  2. Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
  3. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
  4. And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

It’s about having a good conscience toward God.

There are many reasons people give about not wanting to go to church on the sabbath, but when you get down to the heart of the issue, it’s a Lordship problem. We are bought with a price. That means we are owned by God. A lot of people say, “Well, this works for me.” You hear about people “church-shopping” like we shop for shoes.

James 4:7-8
  1. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
  2. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

When we talk about the fact that we’re sinners, I’m not going into it in depth; Jonathan did a very good job of that in week one.

Romans 13:1-2
  1. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
  2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

We’re all members of the body of Christ, and the body has a diversity of gifts. I think there are many people we will meet in heaven who have never been to church in their life. But if you’re in a place that God has provided to you, to grow in the truth, and you are forsaking that, that’s what we’re talking about tonight. So if you are forsaking all that, you are forsaking the gifts that God has for you. And if you say that you don’t need those gifts, then the gift you lack is the gift of self-awareness.

1 Corinthians 12:4-31
  1. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
  2. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
  3. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
  4. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
  5. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
  6. To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
  7. To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
  8. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
  9. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
  10. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
  11. For the body is not one member, but many.
  12. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
  13. And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
  14. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
  15. But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
  16. And if they were all one member, where were the body?
  17. But now are they many members, yet but one body.
  18. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
  19. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
  20. And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
  21. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
  22. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
  23. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
  24. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
  25. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
  26. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
  27. Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
  28. But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

So this is a recapping of, “Here are gifts; here is how they are placed in the church. Nobody has them all; the body of Christ has them all.” Saying that we don’t have to go to church is like saying that I’ll do all my lifting with my right hand. God gave me two hands.

That’s a brief outline. Now let’s cover some of the excuses that people use for not going to church:

I get all my spiritual needs at home

Some people say that they don’t need to go to church because they get all their spiritual needs at home. I can respect that viewpoint, but it is self-centered. Number one, those people are thinking about nobody but themselves. Number two, we will never get all we need in Christ without the teachers that God has provided for us.

Jeremiah 3:15
  1. And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
1 Peter 5:5-10
  1. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
  2. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
  3. Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
  4. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
  5. Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
  6. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Let’s talk about Philip and the eunuch. God calls Philip, and he goes to the eunuch. The eunuch was reading Isaiah. He didn’t have the New Testament yet, so he was reading the most up-to-date stuff there was. …

Acts 8:30-31
  1. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
  2. And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

The New Testament is filled with stuff we’re supposed to do for one another. We’re supposed to comfort one another, confess our faults one to another, pray for one another. How can we do those things if we forsake the gathering of ourselves together.

1 Thessalonians 4:18
  1. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:5-11
  1. Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
  2. That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
  3. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
  4. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
  5. But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
  6. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
  7. And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
James 5:16
  1. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

There are 52 Sunday mornings in a year. If you come to every one, there’s a chance that you’ll get your cup filled 26 times. There are some days when you get exactly what you needed. On other days, you might help minister to someone else. You can get-get-get on your own, but you can’t give-give-give on your own. It’s kind-of like basketball. Everybody wants to play offense, but you’ve got to play defense half the time. That’s just how it worked.

> I said I’d never tell it to a living soul, > How he wrought salvation and made me whole. > But I found I couldn’t hide this love, > That Jesus did impart.

If you’re living your life as a Christian, then it’s going to shine through you. We see that example in Paul. New Testament, he’s basically the Starbucks of Christianity. Everywhere he went, he built churches. So we have an example of what to do.

Mark 16:15
  1. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

It’s boring and predictable.

> It’s boring. I went there last week. I don’t want to go this week, because I know what’s going to happen.

I feel that way about work sometimes. Everything we do in life, we have routinely. We eat routinely. We sleep routinely. We even have fun routinely. What’s the expression? “I need a little ‘me’ time.” If I slept once a month (because I slept last night – I don’t need to do it again), it wouldn’t be healthy.

If you don’t go to a church that preaches the true Christian gospel, you’re living on junk-food. It’s like three meals a day of Snickers and ice-cream: “It tastes great! I love it! But I feel awful all the time.”

1 Corinthians 7:24
  1. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

The keyword there is “abide”. So we’re talking about doing something with consistency.

I had a bad experience.

I was hurt. I was betrayed. Somebody did something that hurt me.

I don’t know what that feels like. A lot of us don’t. But it is important to never minimize people’s pain. We act as an ambassador for God, laying ourselves naked before God, and somebody betrays that trust. How do you get over that? A lot of people don’t.

Here’s what we have to remember. One, God is a god of reconciliation. Another thing is, whatever was done to them was done by man. They may have done it in the name of God, and that’s a shame. But God gave himself for us, the ultimate sacrifice, so we wouldn’t have to suffer. Don’t let a man come between you and God. If somebody does something bad to you, and you let that come between you and God, then you have put that man before God. I don’t mean to minimize the pain, but we have to go to God for reconciliation. When you’re in trials., in pain, that’s when you need him the most.

2 Corinthians 5:19-20
  1. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
  2. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

We’ve got to remember, we’re always pushing God, not our church social club. I like church. All my friends go there; I spend a lot of time there. But we’ve got to keep our focus. Why do we go to church? Because God wants us to learn there.

Practical application (mock Q&A)

Question
So Adam, I know you go to church, but I don’t know if I should. The last time I went, they seemed more worried about how I look than if I needed God.
Answer
I’m sorry you had a bad experience. The reason I go to church is that I’m always looking to strengthen my relationship with God. The church is the family that God has called me to.
Question
I have a lot of bad memories associated with church. My mom used to force me to go. I feel like I was treated poorly, and it’s too painful for me to go. It just brings back bad memories.
Answer
I’m not hearing you say that you’re against God; you just have a problem with church. If you want to have a relationship with God, what do you think the best way to go about that?

That’s good. I like to follow up these questions with more questions. And I ask not because I’m trying to say the right thing, like I’m selling them a car or whatever. I ask because I genuinely want to know.

Question
I grew up in a church that says you have to go church on Saturday. Your church goes on Sunday. How do I know I’m not breaking God’s commandment by going on Sunday instead of Saturday.
Answer
Jesus said that the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. I don’t think it matters when we observe the sabbath; only that we do observe it.
Question
I know you go to church, but I pray on my own; I read the Bible, and I don’t feel like I need to go to church.
Answer
In your daily life, do you ever come across things you don’t have answers for? I find that when I go to church, if I don’t understand something, I usually find someone who has an answer. There are a lot of people who have experience and answers that I don’t have.

I like that, because Pat based his answer on personal experience. He shared about why he goes. If you can’t tell someone about why you go, you can’t expect them to want to go.

Question
I’m not a big church guy. It seems like the “same-old, same-old.”
Answer
I can’t tell you why you should go, but I can tell you why I go. I enjoy meeting and having fellowship with other people. I’m blessed by the music and the message, and it gives me the fuel I need to continue throughout the week. I couldn’t imagine not going.
Question
I used to love church, but I had a bad experience, and I just don’t see myself going back.
Answer
I’m sorry that you had a bad experience. You had a real hurt in your life, and I think you should ask God about what kind of church you should go to. Maybe you can even ask your dad to go along.

This is about God’s church. I want to be clear on that. I love Christian Fellowship, but this not a commercial for Christian Fellowship. This is about being a member of God’s church.

Question
I like taking care of my spiritual needs in the middle of the week, so my weekends are free for competitive bowling. What do you think about that?
Answer
I can read the word and pray, but there are a lot of things in the Bible that I don’t understand. There are people who are called to teach and preach the word a lot better than I can. So I go to church, and God speaks through his people. For me, I go to church because there are a lot of souls out there who don’t understand the word, and I want to be able to share with them.

Sharpening Your Vision

Men’s Fellowship Bible Study, 3/4/11

Testimony

– Ken Portal

I’m going on deployment tomorrow night. All week, I’ve been packing and repacking. This morning, our Base Commander gave us the day off to spend with friends and loved ones. I was so tired, I just wanted to sleep in. But at seven o’clock this morning, the spirit moved me to put together a Bible study. I sat down and the spirit just dictated scripture after scripture about water baptism. Then God told me to share with my co-worker, and this afternoon she got baptized in the name of Jesus.

Study: Sharpening Your Vision

– Jay Ugali

I used to work at LensCrafters in Waukegan. I think I pre-tested some people here, teaching them how to wear contact lenses. If you’re around 40 or 45, you tend to lose your vision. You tend to find yourself doing this.

> (holding Bible at arm’s length and trying to read it)

That’s natural. I learned that it’s because of a muscle in your eye that is no longer able to flex the way that it used to.

A lot of things have been going on in our ministry. Satan is really trying to tear us up. We are the men, and we are the backbone, and God has chosen us.

John 20:22-31
  1. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
  2. Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
  3. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
  4. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
  5. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
  6. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
  7. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.
  8. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
  9. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
  10. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

When we first get saved, we get a lot of things thrown at us. How many of you remember hearing the message when you first got saved, and saying, “Wow! I never heard this before!”

I remember thinking that if there was a Buddhist God, then I wouldn’t be able to understand him unless I was born in India. I didn’t know who God was; I didn’t know what to believe. I remember the teachers sharing with me that there’s not a Catholic heaven or a Buddhist heaven – it’s all the same God for everyone.

John 21:1-3
  1. After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
  2. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
  3. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.

How many times do we do that? Sometimes things cloud our vision, and we allow them to blind us.

1 Samuel 2:27-28
  1. And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house?
  2. And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?

So who was this man of God? Who was supposed to be the chief priest? Who was supposed to know it all? Eli.

1 Samuel 2:29
  1. Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?

Here’s one thing we know about Eli. He put his sons above God. We are a royal priesthood. What are we putting above God? What examples do we see in the Bible of men of God putting God above their own family? How about Abraham? Things of this world will cloud our vision. That’s why we should set our affections on things above. (Colossians 3:2) The Bible says that sins are pleasurable for a season. (Hebrews 11:25) All things are lawful, but all things are not expedient. (1 Corinthians 6:12) The Bible says to lay aside every weight and sin that besets us. (Hebrews 12:1)

I drive a schoolbus, and I find myself saying to the kids, “Hey! Stop doing that!” They keep doing it. And guess what can happen while I’m paying attention to those kids? I could get in an accident. So I’ve got to focus. I hear them saying, “Mister Jay, are we there yet?” And I’ve got to say, “Not now; I’m driving!”

1 Samuel 2:30-32
  1. Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
  2. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.
  3. And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.

So the rest of it is about Eli losing the priesthood. And in the next chapter:

1 Samuel 3:1
  1. And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

It says that Samuel ministered to the Lord, but what was he doing? The Bible says that in those days there was no open vision. So did God speak to Eli, or did he speak to Samuel?

1 Samuel 3:2-6
  1. And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;
  2. And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep;
  3. That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.
  4. And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.
  5. And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again.

So right now, Eli is catching a clue, but Samuel, oh my gosh, he is getting it.

1 Samuel 3:7-9
  1. Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him.
  2. And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child.
  3. Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

A lot of us are just starting to get to know Jesus. God loves you. God wants to work with you. Samuel was just a little child. You’re going to see a lot of “old-heads” who don’t want to do anything for Jesus. But don’t allow anybody to cloud your vision. People will mess up and offend you, but you focus on your walk and don’t let them get in your way.

1 Samuel 3:10-14
  1. And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.
  2. And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.
  3. In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end.
  4. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.
  5. And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.

So how do you think Samuel is feeling, hearing this? We can look in our lives right now and think of the people who taught and shared with us. A lot of them are not around anymore. But what is more important? The word of the Lord, or people’s feelings? So God called Samuel, and he paid attention. And God said, “All right!” and he told him what was going on.

1 Samuel 3:15-18
  1. And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.
  2. Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I.
  3. And he said, What is the thing that the LORD hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee.
  4. And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good.

I read that and I think, “C’mon, Eli! No repentance? What are you going to do about it? Come on, set your house in order!”

1 Samuel 3:19-20
  1. And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.
  2. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.

Stay faithful, all you young people who are just getting started. You never know what God has for you. The answers are right in front of you. Do any of you wear progressive bifocals? How many of you know that the prescription is inscribed right there at the bottom of the lens? Can you read it? Why not? It’s right in front of your face. I used to make glasses, and I used to tell people their prescription, and they’d have to take my word for it. Sad but true.

The Bible says in Romans 10 that people had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (Romans 10:2) So have a zeal of God, but continue to get knowledge. Look to your own personal ministry.

1 Samuel 4:1-10
  1. And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek.
  2. And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men.
  3. And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.
  4. So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
  5. And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.
  6. And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp.
  7. And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore.
  8. Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.
  9. Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.
  10. And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.

Oh. My. Goodness. A lot of talk doesn’t mean anything. We tend to hold onto the old ways, but God wants you to be on fire. Don’t depend on what you did last week or last year. Be on fire for God now. You’re on the plow, looking forward. What does the Bible say happens if you look back? You’re not fit for the kingdom. (Luke 9:62) What happened to Lot’s wife? So keep looking forward.

We know the story of God telling Moses to send out spies to spy out the promised land. So they went out, and they said, “Yeah, this is the promised land.”

Numbers 13:21-25
  1. So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath.
  2. And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
  3. And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
  4. The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence.
  5. And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.

So how many people think they believed that this was the land of promise? Oh, yeah. They wanted to show it off.

Numbers 13:26-27
  1. And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
  2. And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.

So they were already convinced. They saw it with their own eyes, and the witness came out of their own mouth. But what happened? They started looking around and saw the enemies that were all around. It’s like Peter walking on the water. He took his eyes off Jesus and saw the waves, and started to sink.

Numbers 13:28-30
  1. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
  2. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
  3. And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.

That’s the attitude we’ve got to get. “Hey, we can do this!” God blesses us with a great opportunity. He touches us in some way; he does a miracle in our life. We look at it and say, “Wow!” But is that the end of it? It shouldn’t be. It’s like Peter. He saw Jesus, and he saw the miracles, and he said, “Wow!” Then … “Hey, guys, you wanna go fishing?” And you read in Acts chapter one, they’re still doing it. Jesus went up, and they stood there staring, and finally God had to send an angel to say, “What are you guys doing! Get to work!” And what about the transfiguration? They saw Jesus and Moses and Elijah and they got all excited. It’s like they saw some celebrities, and they said, “Hey; let’s build three altars. We’ll build one for Moses, and one for Elijah, and one for you. What do you think, Jesus?”

Numbers 13:31-33
  1. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
  2. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
  3. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

I believe that David knew about this story when he went to slay his giant. So he heard this guy blaspheming God, and he said, “Who does this joker think he is? C’mon, guys, we can do it!”

Numbers 14:1
  1. And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.

My goodness, they didn’t even go into battle yet! You’re going to get a lot of crybabies in church. This is proof. “Oh, I get persecuted so hard! Oh!” I just wanna slap people, sometimes.

Numbers 14:2-4
  1. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
  2. And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
  3. And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.

Where is your focus? Where is your vision? They were looking back, and saying “It was better in Egypt. And they wanted to make a captain. They wanted to stone Moses and Aaron.” So all you young ones, don’t let the nay-sayers bug you. They’re like black holes; they just suck.

Numbers 14:5-10
  1. Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
  2. And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:
  3. And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
  4. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
  5. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.
  6. But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.

Who? Who? All the congregation.

Numbers 14:11-13
  1. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
  2. I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.
  3. And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)

This is what I love about Moses, man.

Numbers 14:14-21
  1. And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.
  2. Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,
  3. Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.
  4. And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my LORD be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
  5. The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
  6. Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
  7. And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word:
  8. But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.

So where was Moses’ focus in this situation? He was taking care of the children of Israel. God was even bargaining with him. God said, “Separate yourself from these people, and I’ll make of you a greater and mightier nation than they.” But Moses argued with God. Isn’t it awesome to have such a relationship with God that you can convince him to change his mind?

What does the Bible say about love? You’ve got to love your neighbor as yourself. That’s the hard part: you’ve got to love the naysayers, too. You’ve even got to love your enemies.

I was thinking about Job, also. A lot of bad things happened to Job. He lost everything; his money, his children, his servants. And the one who was supposed to be closest to him, his wife, said “Curse God and die.”

We read about the children of Israel looking at all their enemies and not wanting to fight. But without a battle, there can be no victory.

2 Corinthians 4:1-4
  1. Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
  2. But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
  3. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
  4. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

There are people around us that are lost. Our focus has got to be about sharing with them. Some of you don’t know this, but I had a bus assistant, and we were always talking about the word of God. And just before the holidays, she was shot and killed. When I think of all the times I shared with her, it’s kind of sad. But we’ve got to keep focused.

2 Corinthians 4:5-7
  1. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
  2. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
  3. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

See, here’s the problem. We’re going to go through battles.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9
  1. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
  2. Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

Why do we go through all that? Let’s not focus on those things we’re going through. Let’s focus on heaven. Hey, those who live godly in Christ Jesus what? Shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)

2 Corinthians 4:10
  1. Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Manifest where? In our body. People who want to know Jesus need to see how we live. Let your light so shine before men. (Matthew 5:16]

2 Corinthians 4:11-12
  1. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
  2. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

That’s Paul taking charge, and talking to the church. Hey, we know that not everyone who comes to church will be the same mind as Christ. But you’ve got to keep a right attitude.

2 Corinthians 4:13-15
  1. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
  2. Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
  3. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

It’s a lot of work, sharing with people. Think about the people who used to look you up and make sure you get invited out to church. I used to think it was the most annoying thing in the world. This one brother used to come into my barber shop to invite me out to church. I used to be a runner and a dodger. I used to see Bill Griffith and just cringe inside. I knew he’d have something encouraging to say, like “Praise the Lord” or something. But now I look back and I think, “Those guys were really looking out for me. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”

God has called us to work together, so we can go out there and be a testimony. The world teaches you to hang out with your own.

2 Corinthians 4:15-17
  1. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
  2. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
  3. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

I hear that and think, “How dare you call my affliction ‘light’?” You should say, “our heavy affliction.”

2 Corinthians 4:18
  1. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Romans 8:18
  1. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

So all those trials and tribulations, don’t even put them on the same level. Imagine experiencing heaven for just five seconds. Snap! And you’re in heaven. “Wow! Look at all this stuff!” and Snap! You’re back here. Then imagine experiencing five seconds of hell. Snap! “Oh, the pain!!!!” Snap! How much different would we be?

If God is Good, why do Bad things happen?

Practical Applications Bible Study, 3/2/11

Songs

Introduction

– Adam Paine

Jonathan has a study prepared, so let’s introduce what we’re doing. We surveyed a lot of people and asked, “What are the most common questions that people ask you as a Christian? What do people want to know?” We took five of the top answers, and we’re going to go over one topic each week. Our goal here is not for you to memorize a script; our goal is for you to learn these topics. The best way to handle a question is to know the answer.

Our topics are:

  1. If God is good, why do so many bad things happen?
  2. Why bother going to church?
  3. Does God hate gay people?
  4. Why bother getting married?
  5. How do you know your way (Christianity) is the only way to get to heaven?

As we begin these topics, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

1 Peter 3:15
  1. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
2 Timothy 2:24-25
  1. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
  2. In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

This series is not a forum for questions and answers; it’s a forum for practicing our answers. So after each study, we’re going to hold a mock “Q & A”. If you’re willing, we’re asking you to join us. We’ve asked the pastors to join us in the fellowship hall for answers to your real questions.

I heard a pastor ask one time, “Do you win people? Or do you win arguments?”

Here, we’re learning the Bible, and we’re learning how to win an argument, but remember that the goal is always to win people.

If God Is So Good, Why Do So Many Bad Things Happen?

– Jonathan Santiago

Suffering. Talking about suffering is like walking through an emotional minefield. This is a Bible study. I’m finishing my masters at Regents right now. I remember one of my first assignments was to write a definition of faith. I thought, “That’s easy; I’ll use James.” But they said, “You can’t use the Bible. Use Christian theology.” If the fact that I’m going to use the Bible is a turn-off to you, I’d ask you to listen to the study anyway, because the Bible is a guide for how we should behave as Christians.

The people who will ask these questions are going to be one of two types. The first will be atheists or people who basically don’t believe the Bible. But we’re going to address the second type, because we’re going to use the Word of God to answer these questions. There is power in the word of God. It’s what you believe, anyway.

So if someone asks, “If God is so good, why is there so much evil?” You could say, “Because of free choice.” And that’s the correct answer, but it doesn’t always help. Suppose a woman says, “I gave birth to a stillborn. You can’t honestly tell me that God is good, can you?” That’s the same question, isn’t it? To answer this type of question, you have to know the scriptures and live them. You have to internalize them.

No matter how long you’ve been saved, suffering is a part of life. It’s easier to feel the love of God on your wedding day than when you’ve fallen on tough times. It’s easier to feel the love of God when you get a raise than when you’ve been fired. It’s easier to feel the love of God when your loved ones are healthy than when they’re dying of cancer. It’s easier to feel the love of God when you’re winning than when you are losing.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
  1. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
  2. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
  3. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
  4. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
  5. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
  6. A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
  7. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
  8. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
  9. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
  10. I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
  11. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

> (prayer for the study)

We’re going to talk about suffering in general.

  1. God loves us.
  2. God is more concerned with our spiritual well-being than your physical well-being.
  3. God is no respecter of persons.
  4. God is just.

God loves us

You can never assume that people know that. You can never emphasize it enough.

Romans 8:35-39
  1. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
  2. As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
  3. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
  4. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
  5. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Those are a lot of things. It covers the angels and the supernatural; it covers life and death and anything else that can come along. It could have been said a lot shorter, but it’s like a love poem. “How does God love me; let me count the ways.”

2 Peter 3:9-10
  1. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
  2. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

What is “slack” ? It’s like slow, right? And what is longsuffering? It means patience, forbearance, slow to anger, slow to punishment.

A lot of times we say, “I wish God would punish him right now!” But at some time, someone was probably saying the same thing about us. So I’m glad that God is long-suffering.

God is more concerned about our spirit than our flesh.

The scripture says that we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. But then it says we are conquerors. How can this be?

1 Corinthians 15:50
  1. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

God is not particularly concerned with our bodies. He loves us, but our bodies won’t go to heaven.

John 4:24
  1. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

You can’t give a spirit physical things and expect them to be of much use. Our spirits yearn to please God and to be more like him.

Romans 8:5-8
  1. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
  2. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
  3. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
  4. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

We’re talking about life and peace. Peace is a fruit of the spirit. A lot of times, we’ll look for the fruits of the spirit in fleshly things. But there is no peace in the flesh. There is violence. There are things that are contrary to peace in my life. But do you have the peace of God in your life?

Romans 8:10
  1. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Technically, our bodies should be considered dead, anyway. So I’m going to put my stock in spiritual things.

God is no respecter of persons.

Have you heard the story of Job? Job was so righteous that he prayed for other people in case they sinned. He said, “It may be that my family has sinned,” so he prayed and gave sacrifices for them.

God allowed Job, a just man, to have much suffering. If you ever get confused about suffering, read the story of Job. So God allowed Satan some leeway with Job. And Satan timed it perfectly. He was sitting down to dinner, and one by one, people came in and reported that he had lost his servants, his wealth, and his family, except for his life.

Sometimes we think that rich people don’t suffer enough, but what is happening to them, spiritually?

God is just.

Matthew 7:9-11
  1. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
  2. Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
  3. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

In general, you would think that parents know how to give good things to their children. Imagine a perfect parent. That’s what God is. I remember when I was a child, I was going to run away, so I put my cat in a box, and I got out my bag, and my Dad said, “I’ll help you pack.” So he filled it so full that I couldn’t lift it. I struggled and

Mark 10:18
  1. And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

So was Jesus good? Yes, he was perfect, as a matter of fact. But he said, “As long as you’re flesh, you’re not going to be good. Only your father in heaven is good.”

Romans 7:18
  1. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Ecclesiastes 7:20
  1. For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

I’m not saying that you guys aren’t good people and do good things; but the Bible says that spiritually, there is none of us good.

Romans 3:23
  1. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 6:23
  1. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What are wages? If you got to the end of the month, and your boss didn’t pay you, you would say “That’s not fair.” And it’s not fair. So if the wages of sin is death, and God doesn’t punish us, that’s not fair, either.

Psalms 103:10-12
  1. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
  2. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
  3. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

So thank God he isn’t fair.

Another way to ask the same question is, “Why does salvation happen to bad people?” Maybe we should be asking, “How can a holy and just God allow any of us into heaven?”

Why Is There Suffering?

Let’s talk about five reasons why.

  1. Free will. There is evil, and people have a choice to do evil. If you’re one of those people who don’t believe in free will, then I don’t know what to tell you.
  2. So God will be glorified.
  3. So we can grow; so God can shape us and use us.
  4. Sometimes suffering is self-inflicted.
  5. Mysterious Suffering

Free Will

In the Bible, Joshua told the children of Israel, “Choose ye this day whom you will serve.” God gave them free choice.

So God Would Be Glorified

On Sunday, we talked about the man blind from his birth. I don’t know which would be worse, losing your sight or never having it. So the disciples asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parent?” Nobody did. It just happened so that God would be glorified. God will do whatever it takes.

God wants to use us and shape us.

1 Peter 5:8-10
  1. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
  2. Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
  3. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

The image of a potter is a good analogy.

Self-inflicted Suffering

If there’s a flame and I stick my hand in it, I’m going to get burnt. If I didn’t know it was hot, I should have read the manual.

Galatians 6:8
  1. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Mysterious Suffering

Sometimes we just don’t know.

Romans 11:34-35
  1. For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
  2. Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

God created us and everything we have. We couldn’t really give anything back to him physically if we wanted to.

Isaiah 55:9
  1. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Remember we were talking about Job? After God has stripped Job of everything he has, but hasn’t struck him with sickness.

Job 2:3
  1. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

This is God in heaven, having a conversation with Satan. Job can’t see that. Job can’t see that God would use him to be glorified. At the end, God blessed Job. Did he have to bless him? Sometimes our blessings come in physical form, and sometimes they don’t.

When you are suffering, and nobody knows it, not even your pastor, that’s a good place to be.

How should we react to suffering?

Romans 12:15
  1. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Some of you are suffering right now. Others might not be in the season of suffering. If so, that’s good. You can help those who are suffering; you can help bear their burdens.

Matthew 5:16
  1. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

We can’t waste our suffering. We have to put it to use. That’s God trying to use us. Read about the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering. If those fruits aren’t present during adversity, you won’t stand out before anyone. We can’t use anger, frustration, or emotions as an excuse to lash out. When we have those emotions of anger and strife, they’re the works of the flesh. We have to overcome them with the fruits of the spirit.

1 Corinthians 10:13
  1. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
1 Peter 3:17
  1. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
1 Peter 3:12-14
  1. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
  2. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
  3. But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

I’d rather suffer than to have God’s face turn away from me. Suffering is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Having the face of God turned away is. Being the enemy of God and going to hell is far worse than suffering.

People who are in the world are suffering, whether as drug addicts, prostitutes, or whatever. Our primary goal isn’t to relieve their suffering. That’s great if it happens, but our primary goal is to lead them to Jesus. So go ahead and serve in a soup kitchen, but share with somebody about Jesus when you do.

Summary

Suffering in General

  1. God loves us
  2. Spirit versus Flesh
  3. God is not a respecter of person
  4. God is just

Reasons for suffering

  1. Free will.
  2. So God will be glorified.
  3. So God can shape us and use us.
  4. Sometimes suffering is self-inflicted.
  5. Mysterious Suffering

Mock Q&A

– Adam Paine

Explain to me, if God is good, why he allows people to suffer?

– Jonathan Santiago

That’s a good question. Sometimes it happens because of free will. Sometimes it happens so that God would be glorified. Sometimes it is self-inflicted. And sometimes we just don’t know. As I look back on my life, God has never let me down, spiritually. God has proved himself time and time again.

– Adam Paine

So basically, as a Christian, no matter what happens, it’s all God’s will, so it’s all just fine.

– Jonathan Santiago

As Christians, we walk by faith. We trust in things that we can’t see and can’t understand. But I thank God that there are some things that are clear, and they’re in the Bible. When we follow God, he gives us gifts in our life; they’re called the fruits of the spirit. Some of them are love, peace, joy, and long-suffering. Can I tell you a little more about them?

– Adam Paine

So that’s one way to answer the question. Would anyone else like to demonstrate how to answer that question? Rick Hahn, come on up.

– Jonathan Santiago

If your God is good, why is there war? Why do bad things happen?

– Rick Hahn

Jonathan, I think it’s about perspective. God created all things. Your life is a gift. If God gave one man a year, and another man a hundred years, is God unjust? But from God’s perspective, everything we suffer is nothing; it’s a knee-scrape compared to eternity. I’d rather focus on eternity. I’d rather focus on the gifts that God gave me.

– Jonathan

Jesse, what’s up with people like Hitler and people who do evil things. That doesn’t make any sense. How can you serve a God who allows that?

– Jesse Rairdon

We’re all evil. How can God love us? But he loves us, every one. And nothing can separate us from that love. We can’t stop the evil; it’s going to be here until the Lord takes us home.

The Word Of God

Wednesday Home Bible Study, 2/23/11

Songs

Message: The Word Of God

– Clarence Willis

There are three parts to this study

  1. Purpose
  2. Importance
  3. Salvation

Purpose

Psalms 119:9-11
  1. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
  2. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
  3. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

This is what the word of God is for – to help us cleanse our ways. And even though it says “young man”, the same applies for the aged and for women.

Mark 4:2-20
  1. And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,
  2. Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
  3. And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
  4. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:
  5. But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
  6. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
  7. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.
  8. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
  9. And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.
  10. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:
  11. That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
  12. And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?
  13. The sower soweth the word.
  14. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
  15. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
  16. And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
  17. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
  18. And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
  19. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

There the mystery of the kingdom of God is revealed. What does the Word provide, when it falls on good ground? Fruitfulness. The Word of God is for us to bear fruit. In this Bible Study, I threw some seeds out. Maybe it will help you later on when you’re feeling depressed, or maybe you’ll be able to share it with someone else. The Word is always available for us, to help provide that fruitfulness.

So the purpose of God’s word is to cleanse our ways, help us to not to sin against him, and to help us to bear fruit.

Importance

Romans 10:8
  1. But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
Romans 10:16-17
  1. But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
  2. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

The Word of God is our doorway into faith, and into hearing what God says. Without it, we’ll just have our own philosophies and our own ways of doing things. God has provided a way for us to know for sure what His will is for us on this earth. So if you want your life to have spiritual meaning and direction, you need the Word of God.

Psalms 119:105
  1. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

We’re not left without direction; we don’t have to go blindly through life, wondering if we’ll make it to heaven. But the Word can only guide us if we listen to it.

God gives us his word, but God is not ink on paper.

John 16:13-14
  1. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
  2. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

There you go. You have the spirit of God and his truth. We don’t just have the Bible to figure out on our own; God’s spirit is there to guide us and lead us into all truth. (John 14:26)

The Word of God is a judger of our actions and the purity of our souls.

Hebrews 4:10-13
  1. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
  2. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
  3. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
  4. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

So if you want an honest opinion of yourself and where you are with God, you can look in the Word of God. You can ask me and I can tell you that you’ve got a great walk with God, but God knows. Everyone and everything is naked before him. Sometimes we even fool ourselves, but never God.

Proverbs 3:5-7
  1. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
  2. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
  3. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

What is trusting in God? It’s trusting his word. And in order to trust in his word, you have to know his word. So how do you know you’re not wise in your own eyes? You check what you know and what you say by the Word of God. Many people think they’re not leaning to their own understanding, but if you compare what they say to what the Word of God says, you’ll know for sure.

Salvation

How does all this relate to salvation? We read in Romans

Romans 10:17
  1. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

So in order to know what you need to believe and do, you’ve got to dig into the Word of God. Whether that’s through a message from a Pastor, or through a Bible Study, or through the technology of the internet, ultimately, we have to hear and obey the Word.

When we obey the Word through baptism, God plants a seed in our lives, and continues to nurture it.

Acts 2:38
  1. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

If the Word of God says it, that’s what we’ve got to do.

Galatians 3:26-27
  1. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
  2. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

We’ve got to put on Christ. How? Through baptism in Jesus’ name. It’s pretty simple, but people complicate it by leaning to their own understanding. Does the water save us? No, the placement of God’s spirit in our lives saves us.

1 Peter 3:20-21
  1. Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
  2. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

God loves us and wants his spirit to continue in our lives. How do we let that happen?

2 Timothy 2:15
  1. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

If we stick to that simple formula, the Word of God will tell us what to do to be saved, stay saved, and make it to heaven. It’s not a guess; it’s a fact.

Communication

Wednesday Bible Study, 2/9/11

Songs

Testimonies

> Pastor Taylor

That song has a lot of sentimental meaning for me. When I was just a teenager, I remember my grandpa singing it to me.

Has anyone tried for one day to not be negative?

 
(Several hands raised)

I’d like three people to come up and share about it.

> Jay Ugali

As you know, I’m a school-bus driver, and some of the kids like to talk about God. They say to each other, “You’re not supposed to that. You go to church. Mister Jay!” I told them, “You know, you guys should come out and visit my church.” Even though the kids come on-board with a negative attitude, some of them were so encouraged by my positive attitude that they asked if I could be their permanent bus driver. To myself, I was thinking “Oh, no!” But I said, “You’ll have to talk to my supervisor about that.”

> Jaucelin Fenelus

I’ve thought about that challenge every day. Since that day, I’ve failed. But I learned that every day is a new day, and a wise man falls seven times and gets back up. The Bible talks about the beam in our eye. God doesn’t compare sin, but he teaches us to focus on improving ourselves rather than the faults of our neighbors.

> Bob Vincent

This actually happened a long time ago. Bruce Avants noticed that I always have a snide remark to make about something, and he challenged me to go a whole week without making a snide remark. So, I bit my tongue a lot, and I think I almost made it. And along the way, the scripture that helped most was:

Romans 8:28
  1. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I learned how to look for the good in things that I didn’t feel good about. And it really helps.

> Pastor Taylor

For those of you who don’t remember, last week I taught on being a living sacrifice, and challenged everybody to go a whole day without saying anything negative.

> Jaucelin Fenelus

It’s funny that the living sacrifice study brought about that challenge. I heard a lot about communication, and that’s what today’s study is about.

Explain how we communicate with God.

Communication is a two-way interaction between God and man. God gave his spirit to pray within, that we may know and understand his will. The one scripture that really jumped out at me was:

Romans 8:26-27
  1. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
  2. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

This scripture is personal to me. How does the spirit utter things we don’t even know about? People who get saved often look back and remember seeking for things that they didn’t know anything about at the time. I remember looking for a small church. As a single sailor, you tend to spend a lot of evenings watching TV. In my case, I got woken up the next day by a brother inviting me out to church. And when he did, God said, “There’s the answer to your prayer.” I didn’t even know it was a prayer. Communication can make us or break us.

Ephesians 3:20
  1. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

I thought about how I came into the ministry. I remember asking, “Where is God in all this?” I was seeking for a truth, even though I didn’t think there was a truth to be found. God that day did more than I could have asked or thought.

Explain why communication with the pastorship is vital.

Ephesians 4:11-12
  1. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
  2. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
I looked up the word “perfecting” because this is what is happening to us.

To complete thoroughly, to repair (lit. or fig.), to make perfect, perfectly joined together, to restore.

When we go to doctors, it sometimes doesn’t feel good while we’re getting fixed. And sometimes we feel injured when we haven’t been communicating, and then we communicate and get a message that doesn’t feel good. It’s like Daniel’s book which was bitter in the mouth and sweet in the belly. Anything worth having won’t come easy.

Romans 13:2
  1. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

A lot of times we make the mistake of looking at things with our eyeballs instead of with our spirit. And sometimes we want to shoot the messenger instead of receiving the message. Most of the time, we aren’t communicating because we’re doing something wrong. We don’t want to hear the answer because we already know it’s wrong. I remember communicating with ET2 Glander back in 1993. It was hard, but I thank God for it. I was fellowshipping and sharing with “all these girls!”, but I finally communicated about it, and he shared with me that I was going down the wrong path. How is it that we communicate peace with a lost person? The best thing about our ministry is the people. And the worst thing about our ministry is the people. God uses imperfect people to work his perfect will.

Hebrews 13:16
  1. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Who is well-pleased?

 
God.

We say, “Who is he to demand anything of me? He’s just a man.” But it’s God that wants us to do this thing. God has placed our pastors there for a reason, and a lot of times we don’t know what they go through.

Explain the importance of communication throughout the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:14
  1. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

Why are we finding younger brothers and sisters with different doctrines? There was a saying about Christian Fellowship: everywhere you went, people were able to tell, “You must be from Christian Fellowship.” Why? Because there was one mind and one accord. Why is that so tough for the younger brothers and sisters nowadays? We’ve got to share with them. We’ve got to share our victories. We’ve got to share the word of God, standing firm on that foundation. This is the spiritual gas-station.

1 Corinthians 3:6-9
  1. I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
  2. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
  3. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
  4. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

How can we labor together with no communication? That doesn’t work in the world, either. We’ve got to be a spiritual tag-team. If you can’t do it alone, then pull someone else in. Pastor has said, “Don’t be in such a rush to get to the church building that you run over someone along the way.” Sometimes when we’re in the church building, we’re in such a hurry to get our church-work done that we run over each other, spiritually. I grew up in church. My Dad was a pastor of the church. But when I first got here, I was wondering, “Why are these people so nice? Maybe it’s because I’m new.” But after all these years, I became one of “these people.”

Communication is important. Not only do we need it, but some poor soul that just came in needs it, too. We need to hold each other’s hands and be united to see souls saved. God didn’t allow us to come here just so we could have a club. This last message was about the light-house that was run-down, but the people were alive, until they became an exclusive club. We are a city set on a hill, and we’ve got to shine that light. Even though we’re busy throughout the week, we’ve got to communicate in order to grow and be confident in why we drag ourselves to church on Sunday mornings. Yes, we know why, but that knowledge is reinforced by communication.

Philippians 1:27
  1. Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

We need to be encouraged while we’re here, so we can take the message out there.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
  1. Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
  2. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
  3. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
  4. And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

If there’s any doubt about whether it’s better to get fellowship than to go it alone, refer back to this scripture.

Hebrews 3:13
  1. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Sin’s deceitfulness won’t get a chance to enter in, if we communicate. On the topic of assuming:

  • My brother looked at me wrong.
  • My sister was talking about me.

Then we bring someone else in:

  • Did you hear about what so-and-so said to me?

If we’re bold enough to talk to someone else about it, then we should talk to the right person. Gossip is like rats that sneak in through holes in the wall to steal up all our groceries. But communicating the right way is like stopping up the holes. God called us for a global purpose, and Satan definitely desires to sift us like wheat. But the only power that Satan has is the power we give him, when we don’t communicate.

Romans 12:5-13
  1. So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
  2. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
  3. Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
  4. Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
  5. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
  6. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
  7. Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
  8. Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
  9. Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

People can’t act on what they don’t know; we’ve got to share. We don’t all know everything; we’ve got to “distribute to the necessity of the saints.”

When it says “let love be without dissimulation,” the word “dissimulation” means hypocrisy.

Psalms 133:1-3
  1. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
  2. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
  3. As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

What are blessings? They are gifts. We can’t earn them. This is the one place in the Bible where I found that God commanded a blessing. Why did he command it? Because it’s our life-line. To not have this unity is committing spiritual suicide. You might as well hang yourself like Judas did. He did that because he was all by himself, alone. Even though the other disciples were there, he wasn’t communicating with them; he was all lone.

God says that he hates those who sow discord. Hate is a strong word, but God used with. See which side we wind up on, right or left, if we keep sowing discord?

Explain why everyone is responsible for communication in the ministry and give examples from the Bible and from daily life.

Genesis 4:9
  1. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?

Whether we communicate or not, God still holds us accountable. How many times have we seen a brother or sister doing something wrong, and we let ourself off the hook by saying, “I’m not going to be a snitch or a tattle-tale?” That attitude was from high-school. But to give an example,

 
(dropping a pen on the floor)

Whose responsibility is it to pick that up?

 
Everyone who sees it.
Hebrews 13:16-17
  1. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
  2. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

God holds the pastor accountable for our souls, but how can he give account if we’re not communicating? How can he know what to pray for, or how to minister?

Give two examples of how communication benefits the church body.

If Paul never communicated with Peter about how his actions were causing dissension in the church, where would that have left the church? But he did communicate, and I believe that it benefited the whole world.

1 Peter 5:5
  1. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

First he says, “ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.”

> You just got saved. You don’t know nothing. You’ve got to listen to me.

But then he says, “all of you be subject one to another.” Shouldn’t we who are older in the faith be clothed with more humility? We’ve all got to be willing to learn from one another.

Matthew 18:15-18
  1. Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
  2. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
  3. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
  4. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

In that last verse, what does “verily” mean?

 
Truthfully

And who was speaking?

 
Jesus

I believe that Jesus knew what he was talking about. Then he says, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” How does that happen? Through our words. Let us be careful to communicate good things.

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