Scriptures: Joshua 3:1-4
In all our lives there are times when we deal with things we have never dealt with before. We come to a new a situation and like the people in Joshua chapter 3: " we have not passed this way before." This type of sitatiuon presents challenges we have never faced, so we ask the question: what does it take to cross the Jordan River?
1) We must obey the command of God- "And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it." Joshua 3:3 shows that the people were told when the ark came to them it was time to get moving. When God gives instruction, we must follow it! Obedience is essential.
2) Whatever God tells you is enough- "And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the LORD of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap." God operates on the need-to-know basis and He will give enough direction to get us started. The problem is all of our questions: "how deep is the water," "whats in the water," or "how is God going to do this?" We must remember there is no miracle without an impossible situation and there is no victory without a fight. Nothing will happen till someone's feet get wet.
3) Give God some space- "Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it..." God changes things in His time. We can try to force God before He is ready to respond, but that will only effect us, not Him. God is the only one who change things that appear impossible.
As this year comes to close, we are entering into a time and territory that is new, a Jordan experience, for we "have not passed this way before." Let's endeavor to obey God, listen for His leading and wait for His timing because through Him "nothing shall be impossible."
Scriptures: Thessalonians 1:1-10
In this week's lesson we will study the characteristics of a Biblical church to see what a Biblical church should look like.
First we ask the question: "what does a Biblical church major on?" A Biblical church majors on strong faith: "for our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost." Second it majors in loving deeds: labors of love. Third a Biblical church shows evident and definable deep commitment, Paul wrote it this way: "ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake." Finally a Biblical church majors on the gospel.
The second question to ask is: "who is it ministering to?" In the book of Thessalonians we see a church that sounded out the Word of the Lord. They reached their hometown Macedonia and then wherever they were they ministered. The Bible says it this way: "Your faith to God-ward is spread abroad." A Biblical church is always ready to minister.
The third question to ask of a Biblical church is "what message is it proclaiming?" A message to turn from idols, serve the living and true God, and to wait on Jesus. A Biblical church proclaims the same message that Jesus and his disciples proclaimed.
Scriptures: James 1:17, Matthew 2:9-11
Everyone wants to give their loved ones the perfect gift. Studies have shown that the average person for "Christmas spends $630.00, shops fifteen hours and walks in stores over twenty miles." All of this effort in search of the perfect gift.
In Matthew 2 we read about the wise men from the East who gave Jesus the perfect gifts. Why were their gifts perfect? Two reasons, first their gifts were symbolic. Gold was the gift for a king. Frankincense was the gift for a high priest and myrrh was the gift used to embalm the dead. The second reason was that their gifts showed who He was, what He came to do, and what it would cost Him.
God delights in giving the perfect gift, His words says it this way: "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights."
1) He gives us the gift of salvation- "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord," proclaims Romans 6:23. This gift helps us overcome who we are.
2) He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit- "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," Acts 2:38. This is the gift that empowers us to become what God wants us to be.
3) He gives us the gifts of the Spirit- "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant," 1 Corinthians 12:1. These are the gifts that give us the ability to finish what He started.
God offers the perfect gift to you this season, are you ready to accept everything He has to offer?
Scriptures: Psalm 48:1-14, Revelation 21:1-5
God is our defender and His presence is our joy, security and salvation. He is our refuge. and our guide even unto death. The Bible is our map and the Holy Spirit our constant guide.
In Psalm 48 we read about the city of Jerusalem, which is called "the city of the great King." For the Jewish people Jerusalem is a landmark, the center of God's presence in the world. The Jewish temple was located in Jerusalem and it was their place of refuge from their enemies. Jerusalem has been destroyed several times since this Psalm was written.
In verse 8 of this Psalm it says: "God will establish it for ever." To find security in God we must be heading for the right city and going in the right direction. The city of our God is beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth and the city of the Great King.
Could this Psalm have a prophetic meaning? Take a look at Revelation 21:1-5. These verses describe a city this world has never seen with a new earth, the old has passed away. A new Jerusalem, the holy city coming down from our God out of Heaven. Its never touched by man, never destroyed, and never defiled. Its a city with no tears, no death, no sorrow, no pain, no sickness, etc. Its the "city of the great King."
We need to be looking for this city: using our Bible as our map and the Holy Spirit as our guide and constant companion. This journey will take you beyond this world, but we cannot waste time trusting in places or things that can be destroyed. Let's get the desire to live forever in the "city of the Great King."
Scriptures: Ezekiel 21:18-24
"The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying, Also, thou son of man, appoint thee two ways, that the sword of the king of Babylon may come: both twain shall come forth out of one land: and choose thou a place, choose [it] at the head of the way to the city. " In these verses (18-19) we see that the the prophet is told to draw a map, which shows us that: God gives instruction to His leaders. Sometimes as saints we are not able to make the right choices, because we are too busy to think or hear clearly, but we still need to move forward regardless of our inability to hear or think.
The next verse: "Appoint a way, that the sword may come to Rabbath of the Ammonites, and to Judah in Jerusalem the defenced." The Prophet is told to draw a map to bring destruction to the children of God and this map is to be given to the enemy. Destruction and judgment were going to happen, it was just a matter of time.
1. Bigotry and racial divide.
2. Financial quagmire or financial storm
3. Health & Sickness problems
Verse 21: "For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made [his] arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver." God chose to bring judgment and destruction, while the king of Babylon used divinations and witchcraft to determined his next move. But when something is ordained of God is doesn’t matter what it will come to pass!!!
"At his right hand was the divination for Jerusalem, to appoint captains, to open the mouth in the slaughter, to lift up the voice with shouting, to appoint [battering] rams against the gates, to cast a mount, [and] to build a fort. " God allowed for the answer from the divination to read “Jerusalem," which was a city where the people felt secure. In this verse Jerusalem represents the people of God and His people are given the open to: obey that what you know to be right and true or be part of those that will be destroy and have their actions judged.
Verse 23: "And it shall be unto them as a false divination in their sight, to them that have sworn oaths: but he will call to remembrance the iniquity, that they may be taken." There are some Christians that feel as though nothing can harm them, because sin and iniquity has taken root and with that comes an air of impenetrability or the idea that nothing can harm them. When truly it is this sin that allows for destruction and offences to find you out and wreak havoc in your life.
God always explains where we are at and what we need to do to be restored in good standing with Him. He desires for us to:
"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 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]. To him [be] glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 5:6-11
Scriptures: Mark 12: 41-44
In these verses, we read that Jesus went to a church and sat near the offering box watching as people were giving their offerings to God. The Word tells us that the rich cast in much, but that Jesus was not impressed because something was missing from their giving. In their offering there was no sweet savour, no "aroma pleasing to the Lord." When we offer something to God it should have the right aroma: it should taste and smell good.
The book of Leviticus gives us instructions for offerings. It describes for different types of offerings:
1) Burnt Offering: also known as a sacrifice offering, which is an offering of blood.
2) Grain Offering- this is the offering of man's labor.
3) Peace Offering- This is the offering of fellowship.
4) Sin Offering- This is an offering for the atonement for our soul.
All of these offerings when correctly offered create an aroma that pleases the Lord. We need to evaluate what we are offering to God and see what kind of aroma it is giving off. We need to ask ourselves the question: how does my offering taste to God?
In these scriptures we also read about a poor widow who God uses to show us what a great giver looks like. She threw in two mites (basically the worth of two pennies) and He said "she gave more than anyone else." Now when we look at this literally, the math does not work. With many rich people giving offerings, her two cents was not physically the largest offering, but to God is was because she gave all she had. Her's was an offering of faith.
Romans 12:1 tells us to "present our bodies as a living sacrifice." We need to get past the thinking which says "who am I" or "what do I have to give." Jesus honored a poor widow because her offering was given with a sincere heart taking a step of faith. What do you have to offer to God today?
Scriptures: Luke 1:30-38, Genesis 18:9-14, Judges 13:1-3,22 & Luke 1:11-20
The Bible tells us this concrete truth: "For with God nothing shall be impossible." When something is humanly impossible God does His best work. One of God's most amazing works is when He provides a child, especially in cases where it had proved humanly impossible. Today we are going to look at four miracle births and also study the human responses to God's announcement of a child.
The first child is Issac, the child of promise. His birth was a miracle because the Bible tells us that Abraham and Sarah were very old, and had never before had a child. When they were told that they would have a child, Sarah laughed, scoffing at the idea. She refused to consider God's promise seriously, and He responded to her disbelief with: "is anything too hard for the Lord?"
The second child is Samson, the child of delieverance. Another miracle was performed here, because Samson's mother was declared barren. When the news of his impending birth came, Samson's father Manoah panicked; his primary response was fear! We must rememeber that God does not play with our emotions and He is not the author of fear. When He promises something to us He makes it happen!
The third child is John the Baptist, the child of a mission. Zacharias and his wife were very old, the Word calling them "stricken in years." When the message came of their miracle Zacharias doubted the Lord and in response the Lord took away Zacharias' speech until the day his son was born. Why did God do this? Because Zacharias did not believe in God's messenger.
The fourth child is Jesus, the child of salvation! His miracle birth came from a virgin mother. Mary's response to the message was the most powerful as she said: "be it unto me according to they Word." Mary submitted to the miracle, because she believed that "with God nothing is impossible."
How do these stories relate to our lives? They teach us out to respond to God's promises for our lives. We should not respond in laughter, fear or doubt! We should willingly accept His will and desires for our lives. Ask yourself the question: "Am I dealing with a humanly impossible situation?" If so, its time to realize that when's God does His best work!