Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Week in Review

What could "overturn" such a big house? While this is a exhibit in Wisconsin Dell, it is a good example of what can happen in our lives. God can overturn any forces that come against us.  it doesn't matter how powerful they seem, God is stronger than even our strongest enemy (the devil).  We have victory in Jesus, today.

II Chronicles 20
Taught at Langley Avenue Church of God
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Now we finish the end of this lesson as we review the last verses of this chapter.

Verse 25 through 27"So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, where they praised the LORD. This is why it is called the Valley of Beracah to this day. Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies."

When the battle was over, God gave them the plunder from the battle. There was so much that it took 3 days to gather it. What this tells us is that when we come through the battle, God will give us the increase. He will increase us so much, that we won’t be able to gather it all in on one single day. The increase will come over time. He will increase us from the provision of his riches. He will increase us in power and he will increase us in standing. He increased Jehoshaphat in such a way that the fear of God fell on other nations. God will increase us so that we can put the enemy on notice that God is alive and reigning in our life.

We will face some unusual battles in our lives. We will face those battles were the enemy will come at us even through those that we think should be walking with us, and those situations may shake our faith. But when we put our faith in God, God will never let us down. God wants us to praise him; because that is our greatest weapon we have for the battles were we are being overtaken by great forces. We must acknowledge that we don’t have the power in ourselves, but in God alone.

We must take our position in the battle and be still, stop trying to fix it ourselves, or do things in our own understanding, but wait on God and praise him in the process. As we do that, God says he will show up and save us from the enemy. And when we trust the instructions of God, no matter how strange the instruction, we can win the battle without being wounded or tired from the assault. And then the wonder of it all is when we get to the end he will increase us. He will take what the enemy was using to destroy us, to bring us increase. So I remind you, the battle is not yours but it is the Lords. He will show up and save you, so stand still and know. Where is your faith? Are you trusting in those around you or are you aligning yourself up with God and God alone? So tonight, God says we must put all of our trust in him. When we do, we will be victorious in the unusual assignments.

The Week in Review

The Nature of Salvation
Written January 2006 by Jewel D. Williams

Jesus gathered disciples, who later came to be called apostles, to show them how to have a true relationship with his Father. The lives of two of Jesus’ apostles, Peter and Thomas, will be examined to see how they handled their relationship with Jesus. This relationship with Jesus brought newness to their life in belief and fellowship with God. They both had their own struggles, but they also had successes. These two apostles’ lives will be looked at to see what they can tell believers today about the struggles and successes of being new in Christ.

Thomas, also called Didymus the Greek word for twin, was given power against unclean spirits, to cast them out and heal all manner of sickness by Jesus (Matthew 10:1). Thomas, like the other disciples, was equipped for the service of Jesus. Thomas was willing to walk with the Lord and even die for Christ as we see in this scripture, “Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his follow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16).

Thomas, however, did not always understand the things Jesus spoke of when referring to his death and resurrection. This is evident when Jesus spoke of his death and his leaving to prepare a place for his followers. Thomas did not understand the spiritual implication of what Jesus spoke of as stated, “Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Jesus did not rebuke Thomas but gave him the answer to his question. Jesus responded by telling Thomas he was the way, the truth and the life and that it was only through him that one could get to the father (John 14:6).

Thomas was best known for doubting Jesus’ resurrection. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary states, “For that inability to believe, he forever earned the name ‘doubting Thomas.’” (1247). When the other disciples came to Thomas to tell him of Jesus’ resurrection, he wanted proof. Thomas voices his doubt in this verse, “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” (John 20:25). Jesus came to them and this time Thomas had his proof that Jesus was in fact raised from the dead.

Jesus offered to Thomas the proof he needed when he spoke these words to him, “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” (John 20:27). Thomas was able to believe because his own eyes had in fact seen the risen Jesus. This scripture speaks of what Thomas himself could very well have said, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;” (1 John 1:1). Many look at Thomas’ doubt and condemn him for it, yet Jesus does not. He heard Jesus speak of what was to come, but Thomas did not understand it, so therefore he doubts. It was not until Thomas has the Word before him that he understands and believes. For believers, when faced with difficult situations, doubt can also lead to unbelief or lack of faith. Yet, Jesus in his love for his people, will allow the living word to bring clarity to any situation, to remove all doubt. Even though Thomas walked with Jesus and saw the miracles, he was not able to fully grasp the true message and purpose of Jesus.

This was a new way of thinking for Thomas. Jesus’ resurrection may have been hard to accept because it went against what the physical eyes could see. The apostles walked with Jesus but now they would have to go on without his physical presence. To walk with Jesus without “seeing him”, is still challenging for believers today. Jesus knew this would be a challenge so he called for someone else to walk with the believers, the Holy Spirit, until he returned.

The second apostle reviewed is Peter. Peter was deeply moved when he encounter the Lord. “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). Peter saw Jesus do the miraculous and realized Jesus was more than just a man. Jesus tells him that from that point forth, he would catch men.

“Peter was the first disciple to be called (Mark 1:16-18) and the first to be named an apostle (Mark 3:14-16). His name heads every list of the Twelve in the New Testament” (Nelson 974). Peter had a close relationship with Jesus. He was present for the miracles that Jesus performed (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51). Peter was one of the first to recognize truly who Jesus was when he stated he was the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:13-16).

Peter shows a willingness to trust Jesus when he went to him on the water (Matthew 14:28). Peter sank because he looked away from the Lord, but his willingness and faith to try, speaks about Peter’s readiness to follow Jesus. Peter wanted to understand the deeper issues when he asked Jesus how many times should one forgive (Matthew 18:21). Even though Peter recognized Jesus as the Messiah, he still denied him before men when he felt his own life was in jeopardy (Matthew 26:75). This is important for believers to understand, even in the strongest of relationships, one can be tempted to deny Christ when faced with personal difficulties. Peter was moved with grief when he realized he had denied knowing Jesus. This response from Peter shows what repentance looks like. One should be grieved at their sin because of what it causes to happen to the relationship with God. Jesus’ love, however, was evident when the message sent was to let the disciples and Peter know of his resurrection (Mark 16:7). This is encouraging to know that when one sins and asks for forgiveness, God is ready to forgive and bring you back into a right relationship.

Peter is instrumental in the growth of the Church after Jesus’ ascension. “The earliest information about the early church comes from the Book of Acts. This shows clearly that Peter continued to exercise a key leadership role in the church for a number of years. Indeed, the first 11 chapters of Acts are built around the activity of the apostle Peter” (Nelson 975). Peter received a vision from God about eating “unclean” animals (Acts 10:9-16). Peter’s response was no, but God was showing Peter a bigger message, that the Gospel would be available to all people. Peter was able to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles because he accepted God’s directive.

Peter’s relationship with Jesus was close. If there were questions he willing asked Jesus to give him clarity. Peter did not always get it right. Peter could have clarity one moment and not fully understand something the next. Jesus rebukes Peter when he does not fully understand why Jesus would be crucified (Matthew 16:20-23). Peter was willing to trust Jesus (when he walked on the water). Peter, however, like others when faced with difficult situations, can deny whom they belong to. Yet, Jesus continued to love Peter (when message sent including him to come to meet the risen Jesus).

Thomas’ coming to the Lord is not listed as Peter’s, which was a more stirring encounter. Either way, both became followers of Jesus. This stands as evidence to all that come to Jesus that one’s experience may not be like another’s, but it is equally important to God. These apostles serve to show that a close relationship with Jesus is necessary to be able to do what Jesus calls for believers to do. Peter and Thomas both were given power to do the work for the Lord. Without this power, they could not have accomplished God’s mission or made any impact on the future church.

Both of these apostles were drawn to follow Jesus because they understood he was offering something they could not find in themselves. Their lives show that one can love the Lord and yet struggle. They questioned what the message meant and did not always have a complete understanding of it. Their own doubts were placed before the Lord at times, yet they were able to continue to live for the Lord. These apostles show that when one walks with Jesus, there will be questions, doubts, and regrets. There will also be great successes when one continues to trust in Jesus. The apostles’ lives were changed in many ways. They learned from Jesus the importance of relationship with him (to get to the father) and of a relationship with each other. When Jesus sent them out two-by-two it was to show them the importance of working in fellowship with one another. They had to adjust to a different lifestyle and reevaluate their pursuits in life. The apostles’ gave up their lives for the work of Jesus. He told them their reward would be in heaven. This is a new way of thinking for all believers. The rewards one looks to receive should be eternal. These apostles, regular men, were able to allow Jesus to change their lives, and their thinking, to change the world. God is still requiring his people to be willing to allow him to change their lives and thinking to change this world for Christ.

Work Cited

Alden, Robert L., et al. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995.

Thompson, Frank Charles, D.D., PH.D. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, 5th ed. Indianapolis, IN: B. B. Kirkbridge Bible Co., Inc., 1988.