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Archive for the ‘Bible Study’ Category

Many of us are dealing with different struggles and situations that overwhelm us. We try to pull ourselves up by our boot straps and forge on but some days are just tougher than others.

For those of us that are Christians (have accepted Jesus as Leader and Forgiver in our lives by acknowledging with our mouths and believing in our hearts that He is the Son of God who died and rose again for us and have repented of the old life and now following Him), there is some encouragement in those days in some writings of King David.

(If you are not a Christian and want the hope and forgiveness of Christ in your life, touch base with me and we’ll chat more…. 740-382-3500)

King David was not born royalty. In the early days, the rest of the world just considered him a nobody kid who, at best, had good potential as a shepherd. God saw much more and through years of trials and situations, raised David up to be king. As we learn more about David’s story, we know it wasn’t all money and power for him. There were many seasons of pain and persecution from others. There were days that would knock most of down but God saw David through.

It was in such a time that David wrote Psalm 56 and I wanted to show you what David found that might encourage you as well.

Psalm 56: 1-4 says “Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;all day long an attacker oppresses me;my enemies trample on me all day long,for many attack me proudly.When I am afraid,I put my trust in you.In God, whose word I praise,in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.What can flesh do to me?

At first glance, you might think just how strong David appears to not worry about his struggles. You might even be tempted to think you are so weak for not being like him . Look again.

He starts out with “Be gracious to me, O God”. To me, he’s struggling. It seems that he is saying I am hurting, I am afraid, and I am overwhelmed. I wish I was stronger Lord and I feel like I’m letting you down. Be gracious to me. Don’t be upset with me. I am but a mere mortal. He admits he gets afraid. Maybe you have been there.

But he doesn’t stop there. He goes into stating truths to recenter himself in God. I praise you God in midst of this trouble. I trust in you and what can flesh do to me? He goes from “when I am afraid” to “I shall not be afraid.”

Now that’s enough to make you feel a little encouraged and maybe even give you a second wind. A reminder to claim on to the promises of God and give it another shot. However, David goes on….

All day long they injure my cause;all their thoughts are against me for evil.They stir up strife, they lurk;they watch my steps,as they have waited for my life.For their crime will they escape?In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

You have kept count of my tossings;put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?Then my enemies will turn backin the day when I call.This I know, that God is for me.In God, whose word I praise,in the Lord, whose word I praise,in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.What can man do to me?” (56: 5-11)

This is not a one time hit where you claim God’s promises and then life is all rainbows and unicorns. The problems did not change. This even hints that after claiming hold of God’s promises that David is struggling still emotionally at times. However, He keeps coming back. He keeps claiming the promises. He is not playing the victim card. He is holding onto the Victor.

If you are going through tough times and sleepless nights, don’t add to your burden by trying to be “Super Christian” and feeling like your failing. Keep coming back to the well for nourishment. Keep coming back to the promises for reassurance. Keep thanking Him for His grace and talk honestly with Him about where you are today.

And what else do you do as you walk through this path with Him?

I must perform my vows to you, O God;I will render thank offerings to you.For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before Godin the light of life.” Psalm 56: 12-13

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As we continue our look at being mobilized in the mission God has called you, we all agree that everything we have addressed quickly gets undercut when we act differently than the way we say we believe. People have seen enough hypocrites and it takes time to earn that trust back.

However, is it just acting “right” when people are looking or does it go much deeper? What does is look like to be a good steward so someday we hear “Well done, good and faithful one”?

In this study, we dive into the Word for encouragement and a warning in the area of being “Principled”. There is a difference between calling yourself a Christian and being a Christ follower. It impacts every area of your life.

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As Christians, we have received freedom, mercy, grace, and purpose! We are adopted into salvation and called to a great mission of telling others of God’s love! Through the sacrifice of Christ, we have victory over death and sin!

So why does it seem that life is as grey for us most of the time like we were still of this world? What does it take to move past the fray, the despair, and the grind?

This week, we are looking at what changes everything and leads us to a life of power and passion by looking at the testimony of Acts 2. If you are tired of this life not being more than surviving at best then dig in with us as we look at all God has for us!

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Being a church leader is not always easy or fun. There are seasons you go through where people who are focused on themselves and their motives shake things up and you get caught in the middle of the muck and mire slinging. It’s not a comfortable place to be in. This all came back to me this morning when I was reading Mark 15.

Up to this point, the religious leaders were getting more and more upset with Jesus. He had been teaching truth and challenging their comfort zones in many of their ways and traditions. They noticed that people had been starting to take heed to his way of teaching which threatened their places of power and desires.

They designed a plan to undercut Jesus, arrest Him, accuse Him falsely, and send Him to Pilate to be investigated. Ths is where we pick up the story….

 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.” Mark 15 2-5

While they made accusations against Jesus (which were false as we see in the preceding chapter), Jesus remained quiet. Pilate took note and was amazed.

Now Pilate had a choice. He could gather himself together and address the problem with the people who were causing the problem or look for an easy way out. He looked for an easy way out.

“Now it was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him.” Mark 15: 6-10

Note, he knew it was out of ENVY that the religious leaders were doing this to Jesus. He should have addressed it but wimped out. He hoped the crowd would take the pressure off his shoulders by making the decision that he was in place to make. I have seen this often growing up in democracy based churches. There is a challenge, the pastor refers to the church for a vote, and hopes they make the right decision so he can place it on them. “What can I say? The majority wants it.”

Well, here’s the problem with this mentality (besides the fact the leader is ignoring their responsibility). Antagonists work hard to get people on their side and through pity, confusion, and pretend empathy… they are very effective.

“But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.” Mark 15: 11

I have been in this position before. People I considered my best friends…. Christ followers….. people who tell you what a difference you have made in their lives and their families…… now trashing you, yelling at you, and gossiping about you around town. It’s confusing, hurtful and you just want to ask, “what in the world is going on here?” It makes no sense!

Pilate faces this in the next section….

““What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” Mark 15: 12-14

Notice how the crowd never answers the “Why?” question…. Chances are they really don’t know why. They have been worked up with half truths and victim mentality so instead of seeing the whole picture and walking in faithfulness, they charge ahead full of emotion.

Now, Pilate has had several chances to expose the truth, challenge the wrong, and shut down the false motives. Surely, he will stand up now as he knows the accusations are false, they are acting in envy, and there is no justification for the act they call for. Right?

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” Mark 15: 15

Church leaders, stand up and be ready to move for what is right and what is true. You may become unpopular, you may lose friends, and you may lose your job but never be the one who crucifies truth to avoid making others unhappy.

Random thoughts….

 

As follow up….here are some thoughts from Gene Edwards in the book “Preventing a Church Split”

Over the years I have gleaned a few points that seem to be common to church splits and raids. A raid is when a person comes into a church and leads a handful of people away to his cause. His style is very important. He is not rude, pushy or insistent. Polls show, that all who listen agree that this brother who raised these issues was doing it out of a pure heart. But the division still took place.

1.

The one who is leading the raid or split if stopped at any point before he leaves with his stolen sheep will declare that he is innocent and is falsely accused.

2.

Just about everyone will believe him; even those who do not follow. He is seen as innocent and mistreated by the church’s leadership and they look like the villain.

3.

The one leading the raid or split plays himself as simply too spiritual to criticize his persecutors, even while criticizing them. Either way, the church’s leaders, if they dare try to stop him, get hung out to dry.
4. His followers vow that they are in no way being influenced by him. I have never met a Christian who would admit that he was following a person in a raid or split. This statement help lead the people out: “We Christians should not have leaders. Only the Lord should lead us.”
5. After the split the ones departing will continue their friendships with Christians in the church which they split! This creates a great problem of leaders in the church that has been raided or split. The exception is when the membership is committed to leadership. Then they can have fellowship with Christians of other churches.
6. The leader of the split declares that God told him that, we are right and they are wrong, that the church he is splitting was a cult (or wrong doctrine) and not worthy to exist. (With God on your side, anything is ethical, is it not?)
7. The Church responds like they did in Church history. They will brand them as “heretics.” Both sides have no idea how deeply this division is going to hurt, discourage and destroy people. Nothing is going to stop some people from causing splits and raids. And never will they admit they are causing that split.

Whole article here…..

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The final study in the series….

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The third in the Great Omission Series….

 

 

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Last weekend, I was on sabbatical for a few days. Just some time out in the woods for some rest, family time, and solo Bible Study. One of the stories from the Scripture I revisited during this time was the story of Jacob in Genesis. As I read through it again, I caught something in one of his stories that I had not caught before….

Jacob was a sequel to a few other people’s stories. His grandfather was Abraham who was man of great faith (and his share of mistakes) who God made a promise to give him many descendents. He promised Abraham to kick things off with a son even though he and his wife, Sarah were past the age of having children. In God’s time, they did have a son whom they named Isaac. When Isaac grew, he too got married and had two sons. They were twins and their names were Esau and Jacob.

(more…)

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