Scriptures: Leviticus 19:23-25, 1 Timothy 4: 1-5
When is it time to move beyond the leftovers? Israel was to possess a land which others had prepared, a land flowing with milk and honey. But when Israel possessed the land they were to begin making it their own, not just surviving on what others had produced.
God has a process which will provide an increase in our lives:
1) Plant all manner of food: Take possession through your own effort and do not count on the labor of others.
2) Count the increase for three years as uncircumsed: Uncircumsed means outside the convenant of Abraham. They were to pluck off the young fruit and throw it away. Why? Because the early beared fruits hinders the tree's growth.
3) The fourth year count all the increase as God's: This is called the second tithe, when all the tree's harvest is invested into God's kingdom. It was given to the priests, because they were to survive off the tithe, or they were to eat before the Lord with joy, not to store up.
4) The fifth year is when the increase becomes our possession: We are taught not to be overhasty, settling for any comfort. We are to learn patience to wait for the time of enjoyment, also to recognize that without growth we are not worthy of the increase.
So how do we implement this in our own lives to live in the increase? We plant and stop living on the leftovers. We must decide to live beyond worldly comforts and pluck off the young fruit in our lives. We cannot live in potential blessings! We must choose to the make the things of God first in our lives: santifying the increase by the Word of God and prayer. Then we can possess the increase with the knowledge that we gained from the process.
We should be living off God's increase, not the world's leftovers!
Scriptures: 1 John 4:7-12, Romans 7:14-25
Everyone believes that love is important and many would define love as a feeling. God desfines love as a choice that leads to actions, and He manifested His love by redeeming mankind.
God told us to love one another: we are to make the choice to love. God will dwell in that relationship because of our decision to love, but life can sometimes cause us to lose faith in mankind. Human relationships can be painful.
We all face the struggle within us that Paul writes about in the Book of Romans.
The person we truly want to be versus the person constantly fighting aganist sin. Evil is present and it's goal is to destroy relationships, trust and faith.
The Christian walk is a constant struggle against sin. Some give up. Why? Because they have tried to face sin with human willpower. Sin brought them into captivity and captivity in painful. Only through the power of Christ can we overcome sin, we can find delieverance through Jesus Christ.
Holding onto our faith is a life-long process and it begins with a choice, a choice to: love, forgive, trust, and believe. To have faith in Jesus, follow His ways and look for the good in others.
Scriptures: Acts 4:31-33, Isaiah 1:18-19, Psalm 22:3, 2 Chronicles 20:21-22
Apostolic identity is revealed through worship: we worship in spirit and truth. Apostolic prayer will cause a shaking: "the place was shaken," the Holy Spirit gave the apostles great power and they were given boldness to witness. The Bible says that "great grace" was upon them all.
We can win through worship!
1) Apostolic worship brings rewards: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." In the natural a deep stain is virutally impossible to remove, but God removes the stain of sin from our lives permanently. Repentance is a powerful part of our worship experience, it: removes barriers and demonstrates our willingness and obedience to God. Our reward: "you shall eat the good of the land."
2) Apostolic worship brings intimacy: "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." To inhabit means to "reside in, to dwell and to possess." Worship brings a familiarity and an established relationship with God. Its brings an understanding of the leading of His spirit.
3) Apostolic worship will defeat the enemy: "And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten." The Lord set ambushments and their enemies began fighting amongst themselves. They destroyed each other. Through worship we learn to give our battles to God and with God's help we will will.
In our worship we: lift our hands, clap, sing, shout, bow, fall prostrate, are still, quiet, dance, run, play instruments, speak in tongues, etc. We worship in spirit and in truth, and with this worship we can win!
Scriptures: Judges 6:11-16, Philippians 3:14
In our society the word "extreme" is used regularly: extreme sports, extreme politics, etc. The word "extreme" is defined as: "very intense, far beyond the norm, drastic, and on the edge." Our society directs us to be moderate, average, and calm, not extreme.
God is a discomforter and following God sometimes takes us through a crisis with personal discomfort. Let's look at Gideon's story from the book of Judges. Gideon is threshing some wheat, but not out in the open. He is behind a winepress, which is a vat where the juice is pressed from grapes. The juice is in the grape, but only pressure will extract it.
God began to put pressure on Gideon, and an angel said to him: "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour." Gideon responded asking where his help could be found. God was telling Gideon that he was the help that his people needed, saying: "go in this thy might and thou shall save Israel...have not I sent thee?"
Gideon was called to extreme discipleship and to face his crisis with action initiatives.
Our time is the hour for extreme discipleship: its our time to stop hiding from the pressure. Its time to press towards the mark and strive towards our high calling. When we put ourselves in a position where we may fail then we can grow! We must face the crisis of personal discomfort, because God does not see us as average. "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour," our crisis is purposed to release the possibility out of us.
Scriptures: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Ephesians 2:8
We live at a time when there is continual unrest in the world: wars, terrorism, financial collapse and natural disasters. We are facing things we would never expect, but we are told to watch and be sober.
Starting now we must be prepared by receiving our salvation, accepting God's forgiveness and His power. We must stop procrastinating, despite our human nature which desires to delay the uncomfortable.
How should we respond in these times of unrest?
1) Pray, do not panic! -When panic takes over prayer ceases. The Bible tells us to "pray without ceasing." The natural man will panic, but the supernatural man prays.
2) Have faith, not fear- Fear is a normal emotion, but not a spiritual response. Fear does not comfort: it brings anxiety and distress. Ephesians 2:8 tells us: "for by grace are ye saved through faith."
3) Believe God, do not blame Him.- Humasn feel better through assigning blame, but we need to instead believe in the God's power and know He has greater plans for us. The shaking of this world is a result of sin and God allows the unrest for a higher purpose: He is still in charge!
We have been called to God's kingdom for such as time as this. We must respond, not run way. Be assured and not angry. Watch, pray and keep and sober mind. Hold on to our faith and receive our salvation.
Scriptures: 1 Peter 2:9-10, Psalm 101:2-3, Joshua 7:20-21, 1 John 2:15-17, 2 Timothy 2:15, Revelation 1:3, Romans 10:17, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, 1 Peter 4:1-4, 1 Kings 11:1-9, Psalm 84:1-4
Christians are called to be a separated people . "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light..." Living a holy lifestyle is a progressive thing and our development depends on our obedience. Disobedience in an area freezes our growth!
We are set apart in specific areas of life, in today's lesson on Apostolic Identity we will look at two of those areas:
1) We are set apart in what you see and hear: Our eyes and ears are the gates to the mind. We need to guard what we see and hear. The world tries to appeal to the "lust of the eye," but we must shield ourselves from those temptations. Ungodly things affect our walk with God, things like: what we see, read or watch. Also what we open our ears to, such as: filthy talk, gossip or ungodly music. Romans 10:17, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, " tells us that faith comes from hearing! What are you listening to?
2) We are set apart by where we go and what we do: Ask yourself the question: "Where do you take your physical body?" Our actions tells a great story to the world about who we are and what we believe in. "Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you." 1 Peter 4:1-4
As children of God we are called to be separate from the world and its actions, we are called to follow in the footsteps of our Savior. Check back next week for the rest of these lesson!