Description We all like to be self-sufficient, do things for ourselves. With this perspective, we tend to limit our responses to the genuine needs of others based on our ability. This in turn, limits what God can do through us. We easily forget that little is much when Jesus has it. There are many examples from the Bible where there seemed to be not enough to meet the need and God made it more than enough. God will allow circumstances and situations where do not have the ability to solve the problems on our own. He wants us to rely on His power. We must come with faith in His power, allow our vision to grow, and know God wants to use us to rescue those in need.
John 6:5; 1 Kings 17:12, 16; 2 Kings 4:2, 6; John 2:3, 7-9; John 6:7, 12-13
Jesus Died for Our Sin
Description Gain insight and understanding as we dissect this one verse word by word. Isaiah 53:5 begins, “But He was wounded for our transgressions.” In spite of what has previously happened, Jesus was pierced with penetrating wounds that would kill Him. For what? Our transgressions. He suffered not for His own, but for our sins. This simple truth has profound meaning for us.
Description Did you realize one third of all the teachings of Jesus were done by parables. Parables use an earthly story to communicate a heavenly meaning. Parables do two things, they reveal and they conceal; and it all depends upon the heart of the listener. There is a definite difference between auditory hearing and spiritual hearing, which leads to belief. In the parable of the Sower, Jesus is teaching about different hearts receiving the same message but responding in different ways. The parable is about God’s kingdom and the Sower is Jesus; He sows “the word of God.” Seed will produce if the soil is good. So let the Word fall on the good ground of your heart. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. If you have spiritual ears to hear, you will discern what the Lord is saying. Faith is relying on, trusting in, and believing with full assurance what the Lord has said in His Word. Life is imparted to those who believe.
Description Isaiah 53 starts out with Who has believed our report? Isaiah is writing in both future and past tense about an event yet to happen. The whole chapter describes a Person and events that people then and today find hard to believe. It is a very detailed prophecy. The exact fulfillment centuries later proved the prophet was inspired and the Bible is true. The question is – Why did Jesus have to die? Isaiah 53 perhaps gives Scripture’s clearest and most complete answer to the question. Jesus died as a sacrifice Who took our sin upon Himself. Jesus died for our sins! This first session in the 5-week series will offer an introduction and the following sessions will focus in on Isaiah 53:5 and all that it means for us.
Description Our focus should always be Jesus, but from time to time it is good to remind ourselves that Satan is real. He exists. He is the enemy of God and of our soul. In James we are told to submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from us. So, from Scripture we will talk about how Satan is described and what he does and how we can resist him. God wants us to live in victory. We are warriors in the battle between good versus evil. God has given us His Word and His Spirit to equip us for victory!
More Than a Resolution
How many resolutions have you already made and broken? Statistics say most New Year Resolutions last less than two weeks. In Philippians 3, Paul is looking at things that he had wasted in life and thinking about his eternal future. It is more than a resolution; it was a lifestyle. He gave us a great example to follow. In these brief moments we will look a few things to NOT WASTE YOUR LIFE on and a couple goals to set for the new year.
Philippians 3:13-14; 1 John 1:9; Psalm 103:12; Matthew 6:12; John 20:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; Philippians 4:6; Luke 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Philippians 4:8-9
A Renewed Ear
Description It is that time of year when we hear those New Year resolutions. 1 Peter 1:13-16 gives us the perfect New Year resolution. A renewed ear. What does that mean? When we allow our ears to listen to the call of the flesh, or the lies of the world, we have a hard time getting our spiritual ears tuned to the Holy Spirit. When we let Jesus Christ dwell in our hearts, He can wake our spiritual ears with an attitude of listening. Ears that hear the call of God and have understanding. We can fall into a mode of spiritual sleepiness and need to be awakened daily with desire to meditate upon God’s commands and precepts. We make a choice every day to be closer to God or further away by what we allow to rule in our life – Spirit or flesh. To have an undefiled ear means to have a heart that seeks after God. Hearing from the Lord requires sacrifice of time, effort, and sometimes even money. Be willing, allow Jesus to critique us so we can walk instep with the Holy Spirit as He illuminates us with the written Word of God.
1 Peter 1:13-16; Galatians 2:20; Psalm 22:31; 1 Peter 2:9-10; Isaiah 50:4-5; Luke 21:37-38; Luke 24:32; Luke 245; Nehemiah 8; Acts 20:7-12; Ecclesiastes 5:1; Romans 12:1
What If God Skipped Christmas?
Description Thinking about whether I had time to get this study together, I thought maybe I’ll just skip it this week. But as soon as I did this thought came to my mind, “What if God skipped Christmas?” I am so glad He did not. When the time was right, God sent His Son Jesus. He was born as a baby, grew to be a man, died for us. We are no longer under the law because of what Jesus did. He gave us the Holy Spirit and is our High Priest who understands us. His resurrection gives us hope! Thank God He did not skip Christmas so He could give us the greatest gift of all!
Galatians 4:4-5; 1 John 1:9; Isaiah 53:5; John 14:16; 1 John 2:1; Hebrews 2:17-18; 1 Corinthians 15:17-19; John 3:16
It is Christmas
Description It’s Christmas Eve! Today we join in a long line of Christ-followers who have, for centuries, remembered the arrival of God through the birth of His Son, Jesus. We all need to be reminded of the wonder of this night and the hope, peace, joy, and love that it ushers into our busy, hectic, distracted, and chaotic lives. Jesus is the heart of Christmas. It is all about him, and it is all for Him. To fully embrace Christmas, we must turn our attention toward Him. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. The arrival of Jesus was to save people from their sins and so God could be with us. We need Jesus! God’s heart is for us to awaken to the fact that this world is not our home. Ever feel lost in this life? Jesus left His home to show us the way home. The key to finding our way back home is belief in Jesus. Accept Jesus as your personal Savior. Receive the gift of eternal life.
Often the Christmas season seems to be just a holiday rush about gifts, shopping, decorating, and trips to visit family and friends. Simeon and Anna were two senior adults in the Christmas story who had outlived many friends and family. And, according to some people’s view, perhaps even their usefulness. They could no longer rush to do anything. Sounds like a lot of seniors today. Too old and too tired to do the things that were once so much a part of their life. But…life for Simeon and Anna was not over. And it does not have to be over for you just because you are no longer young. Simeon and Anna in one day had an encounter that renewed their hope, gave them purpose, and let them know that even at their age God could still speak to them and use them. In one moment, they knew they were important to God and important to others. Maybe you can relate. Know that no matter your age, life is not over and life can still have meaning. May God fill you this Christmas season with renewed purpose knowing you can still make a difference!
Description At just the right time, Jesus came to the world. He came to free us from the crushing weight of the law. We could never be good enough to earn salvation, so Jesus lived a perfect life on our behalf. Why? Because of love. God wanted us to b e a part of his family. Out of love, He adopted us through the work of Christ. We are now the sons and daughters of God. We can rest in the love of the Father.
Shepherds on the night-shift, expecting nothing. Ever feel like you are on the night-shift of life? That in-between, dull, going nowhere time of life. Everything is just routine so there are no expectations. Well, that’s where the shepherds found themselves. It started like any other night, but then there was a heavenly interruption. An angel of the Lord stood before them. It was an upfront and personal encounter. These shepherds, who probably felt unimportant, forgotten, and possibly unloved by God, had been chosen to visit the Christ child. They must go immediately just as they were. There was no time to clean up. Each had to decide, go, or stay. They went! They found proof confirming the message the angel told them. They were too excited to keep the discovery to themselves. They were telling the good news to everyone who would listen. After this life-changing encounter with Christ they returned to their everyday responsibilities. These men were real people, with real jobs, struggles, temptations, burdens, and responsibilities. None of that changed. But back at their daily work they now had a new glow, a new determination, and a new spirit. God sees you and loves you. He invites you to come just as you are, believe the good news message of Jesus, and experience the change He can bring.
Luke 2:8-20; Isaiah 9:6
The Heart of Christmas Brings Joy in All Circumstances
Description The circumstances of life have a way of robbing us of joy. Disappointment, frustration, and loss can suck the very life from us. Jesus’s birth reminds us that, no matter how hard life is, we do not have to go through it alone. God has come to us full of grace and truth, and that should bring us joy. We can trust that Jesus’s presence with us will reveal the truth about our lives and at the same time offer us the grace to see things change.
Description Ever feel like it is the Christmas season, and everyone is happy, celebrating, looking forward to the future…everyone but you. How can you be with friends, or even God, amid disappointment grief, and loss? Not all grief stems from death. But all loss causes grief. Grief is a natural reaction to any kind of loss and can be all-consuming. So, whether we are experiencing grief or we are an onlooker to someone else who is, we can learn some things from Joseph about dealing with it.
In the Christmas story, Joseph did not experience a death, but he did go through loss. Loss of a dream, a wedding, tradition, his wife to-be was pregnant, and the list goes on. This rapid accumulation of losses was profound and led to bereavement overload. As we look at Joseph’s dilemma, we will see how he responded, was ministered to by God, and how he moved forward. Be encouraged that God will do the same for us and we can live in the hope that He has a good future for us.
Description The announcement of Jesus’s birth was delivered to shepherds who lives on the fringe of society, in the fields, watching their sheep by night. If a king were born in the world, you would expect these shepherds to be the last ones to know about it. Yet, the heavenly angels told them that peace was coming to the earth for those on whom God’s favor rested. What a shocking message! God’s favor was even on the shepherds. They were being offered peace; and if it could be given to them, we can rest assured it is offered to us as well. Now that is good news for a world in turmoil!
Description Ever feel the stress of the holiday season, too much to do, too little time? This first session in the series, Christmas Dilemmas, we will discover some valuable lessons about time. Mary was busy preparing for a wedding, dreaming of the home with Joseph, anticipating when they would finally get married. Then, things change. Gabriel shows up with an announcement that turns her world, her plans, upside down. Life suddenly went from busy to overload. Her “to do list” quadrupled! Now that’s stress! How did she cope? She trusted God. God knew all about Mary’s situation and when the time was right for her to give birth to His Son Jesus. He worked all the details out just the way it was supposed to be. He knows what you are facing in this season too. Don’t be overwhelmed or caught up in the circumstances. Enjoy the moment and know that what God has planned for you will come at just the right moment.
Description The Christmas season is here, and we begin a series that will be looking at how hope, peace, joy and love are at the heart of Christmas. In this first message we will discover the hope that comes to us through the birth of Jesus Christ. His arrival was fulfillment of prophecy found in Isaiah, a child born as a light in the darkness and a hope for all people. It is important to revisit the prophetic words of the Old Testament and fulfillment that comes through the birth of Jesus because it reminds us that God can be trusted to come through and to meet us in our greatest time of need. Our God is right on time. Express your hope in Him today by bringing him the things that weigh heavy on your heart.
Description There is much controversy over the facts and reasons for that first Thanksgiving. However, most agree despite the harsh winter that killed nearly half of the passengers and crew of the Mayflower, at the end of the good harvest the next fall there was a time to thank God. The question for us: How and why could they thank God for all the hardships they had been through? We want to thank Him for all the good things like provision, love, easy times, good reports. But what about the bad things. It is not so much about the good and the bad, but true thanksgiving starts with understanding the character of God. We are responding to Him, not our circumstances. Abraham is one of the best examples of this concept.
Knowing God’s character helped Abraham have the right perspective when it was all over. He knew God provided the substitute for Isaac. He knew that God was responsible for the outcome. He knew Who to thank when it was over.
Two Seasons of Life
Description Inevitably all of us go through two seasons of life, a season of waiting and a season of fulfillment. As Christians, there is a purpose behind our waiting. But waiting is not fun. It’s hard. It’s discouraging. It’s confusing. It’s testing. It’s challenging. But take heart, just as waiting is real, so is fulfillment. It’s coming. Proverbs encourages us that longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
So, what should we do while we wait? Realize God is preparing us for His purposes. There are numerous examples in Scripture of those who had to wait, but in due time God fulfilled the purpose for their lives. And in the waiting, He prepared them for that purpose. And He does the same for us. So be faithful in the waiting seasons. Focus on God, not the thing you are waiting for. When we focus on God, we begin to understand that he has good things in store for us.
Description There are three distinct parts of the ancient Jewish wedding: Arrangement by the father of the groom and their mutual commitment; engagement or betrothal; and the wedding and marriage. The wedding is what this final session focuses on and how this parallels with the bride of Christ and the return of Jesus. The engagement period ends when the father approves of the place his son has prepared for his bride. Now he returns to get his bride. She is often surprised by his unexpected return. This arrival preceded by a shout is compared to the unexpected return of Jesus at the Rapture of the church. The wedding party returns home with an already accredited bride to her covenanted husband. Preparations of the bride are complete, then comes the wedding ceremony, which parallels with the Marriage of the Lamb in heaven, where Christ is finally united with His bride.
After the ceremony the marriage is consummated, and the groom reveals evidence of the bride’s purity and a seven-day celebration began for the wedding guests. The bride is hidden away during this time. Then the couple would return to the bride’s home for the wedding feast. There will also be a change of venue in our future. At the end of the honeymoon week in heaven and simultaneous 7-year tribulation period on earth, the Millennium begins. This is when Jesus with His bride will return from heaven to earth. They will attend the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Jerusalem where believers will rule and reign with Him.
At the end of the wedding feast, the couple leave the banquet hall to begin their new life together. They go to the place the groom has prepared for his bride. Jesus is preparing a place for His bride. It is the New Jerusalem where believers will be with Him for eternity. Jesus is asking you to become His bride. Will you say, “I do” to Jesus?
Matthew 256:1-13; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7-8; Isaiah 61:10; John 3:29; Deuteronomy 22:13-21; Matthew 22:2-12; Judges 14:10-13; Daniel 9:24-27; Genesis 29:27; Joel 2:16; Zechariah 2:10, 12; Revelation 19:9; John 14:3; Revelation 21:1-3; Hebrews 12:22-24; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:17, 20
Description Gideon met the Angel of the Lord face to face and received a message from the Lord. The message contained instructions for two of the most difficult tasks Gideon would ever be asked to do. Would he be up for the challenge? Would he obey? It would take courage and he would be risking the wrath of his own family, but he was willing to obey. Was he still scared to do it openly? Yes, so he completed the task at night. God never condemned him for being careful or prudent. And he had ten servants willing to go with him and support him knowing the risk. Gideon completed the task and God was pleased. He tore down the altar of Baal and built an altar to the Lord alone.
Be challenged by the message. What idols in our lives need to be torn down? Are we willing to worship God in front of others?
Description The Jewish wedding is one of the cornerstones of Scripture. First was the betrothal and then the wedding. The woman was legally married during the betrothal period, although she stayed in her father’s house. At the wedding the betrothed woman, accompanied by fanfare and friends, was taken from her father’s house to the house of her groom, and the marriage was consummated. Traditionally, in preparation for the betrothal ceremony, the bride is immersed in water in a ritual symbolic of spiritual cleansing. As the bride-to-be of Christ, we are also asked to be immersed. The ceremonial act of purification by immersion in water indicates a separation from a former way to a new way. To complete the betrothal the groom gives something of value as symbols of love, commitment, and loyalty to the bride and she accepts. Our gift as the bride of Christ is the Holy Spirit. The cup of the covenant was shared and sealed. In the same way, believers take of communion proclaiming the Lord’s death, the price He paid for His bride, until He comes. As the bride had to be prepared at anytime for the return of her groom to snatch her away, so the church must be prepared to the return of Christ. It will occur at the “twinkling of an eye” for only the Father knows the return of His Son.
1 Peter 1:18-19; 2 Corinthians 1:20; Mark 16:16; Ephesians 5:26-27; I Corinthians 6:11; Genesis 2:23-24; Ephesians 5:31; John 3:5-6; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 1 Corinthians 11:25-26; John 14:1-3; Mark 13:32; John 14:26; John 15:26; 2 Peter 3:9-10; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Matthew 25:1-13; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58
Description In the story of Naaman in the Bible we see he was faced with some challenges that tested his willingness. I believe we can all identify with these same challenges whether we have yet to become a Christian, we are already a Christian, or we are trying to reclaim our Christian life. So let’s talk three simple aspects of “being willing” from this story – Listen, Obey, and Worship. When we are willing to listen, obey and worship, we are well on our way to an adventurous journey with God!
Description This study will focus on how the Biblical Jewish Wedding helps the Bride of Christ today prepare for the future Wedding of the Lamb. Like weddings today, the biblical wedding ceremony of Jewish people was an involved process from start to finish. The process serves as a pattern for the future Bride of Christ and the Wedding of the Lamb. Marriage was instituted back in Eden when man was in innocence. There is no one specific checklist. Scripture gives many examples to fill in some details, and that is what this study will talk about.
Judges 14:1-5; Ephesians 1:4; Genesis 24:2-4; Nehemiah 10:30; John 16:7-8; Ephesians 5:25; Genesis 24:53; Genesis 29:20; Genesis 34:12; Matthew 26:39; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Genesis 24:57-58; 1 Peter 1:8; 2 Corinthians 1:20-22; Ephesians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 12; Jeremiah 31:33; Luke 22:20; John 14:1-3; Revelation 22:20
Caring Enough To Fight
Description The life and love of Jesus – He cared enough to fight for the good of others, to speak truth when needed. To love like Jesus, we cannot shy away from what we know is right and true. Love is not passive. Love will act. Love will affirm the potential in every life. Love will affirm truth that can protect every life.
Do we care enough to fight for those around us? To develop a foundation of caring, we must consider our motives. Our responsibility is not simply to punish, control, or simply serve every whim of those around us, but to care for them. Speak the truth with love. Be willing to risk experiencing discomfort, resentment and rejection. Jesus captures a vital truth for all of us: You cannot lead or live well if you need everyone to be happy with you. If the goal is to have as many people like us as possible, then we will not love people well. The task is to be true, not popular. Caring is not controlling, but using what we do have, influence. Then allowing others to choose how they will respond. Embrace a position of humility and be honest about our own challenges. This is key to engaging more genuine relationships.
Is there someone you could see taking a step to connect with more deeply, either by sharing our own struggles or our concern for theirs? We can do this when we dare to let Jesus love us. He has shown us unconditional love. We can risk rejection when we receive His love.
Description The Book of Acts gives an account of how the church began following the resurrection of Christ. Jesus invited them, and us, into a mission of eternal proportions. In Acts 2, we find a scene filled with excitement as well as hostility. The crowd has swelled to massive proportions and there was some confusion about what was happening. Peter stood up and raised his voice. The result is powerful. Three thousand lives joined in the life of Jesus. What began as confusion ended in clarity and a crossroads into new life. Peter had experienced radical love and he was going to share that love. That’s why he spoke up. And that is what we are called to do – Speak up! We need to be bearers of this message of life. Jesus came bringing signs and wonders of the kingdom. These signs caused people’s hearts and minds to wonder. He told his told his followers to go out in power and compassion. Peter was interpreting what God was doing. He helped make sense of life. And that is what is often needed, then and now. He pointed them to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Good News. Will you get on the ultimate mission? Will you finish the work assigned by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about wonderful grace of God?
Description Imagine sitting back to watch a football game or a cooking show or a concert. Now imagine you get a call from the football team telling you that you are going to be playing…or the cooking show saying you will be hosting…or that you will be singing in the concert. Now that would put you in a very different state of mind. When you are going to participate you feel the significance of being prepared. There may be fear about the challenge as well as energy and excitement. That is the transforming nature of the call we are engaged in today. After Jesus resurrection from the dead, He showed the disciples He was alive. He had broken through the powers of sin, death, and separation. Then Jesus gave instructions before when He went away to the disciples and to us. We have been given proof of victory, we have been given His power and we have been given a mission. Our mission is to spread the good news message of God’s love to all.
The Fall Feasts - The Feast of Tabernacles and The Eighth Day
Description This last annual seven-day feast was characterized by joy giving thanksgiving for the blessing they had received in the harvest. They dwelt in “booths” as a memorial for future generations of the grace, care, and protection God gave His people in the many terrible circumstances of the wilderness following their exodus from Egypt before entering the Promised Land. The feast also consisted of many ceremonies including water and light. The feast commemorates the time of God’s dwelling with the Israelites while in the wilderness. And its prophetic fulfillment comes in the Millennium when the Lord will once again dwell among His people.
Following the feast comes the Eighth Day marked by the dismantling of the temporary booth and a return to home. It should serve as a reminder of the temporary nature of our physical life. John was given the revelation of the fullness of all the feasts which will ultimately be fulfilled when Jesus comes to dwell – tabernacle among where He will be worshiped into all eternity!
Description We all need a miracle. All of us, young and old, sick and not so sick, healthy and not healthy, employed or not employed, persecuted or well liked, we all need a miracle. When we look in the Bible, we see David lived miraculously and the Apostle Paul lived miraculously. So how can we have such a life? How do we access God’s miracles? It is through prayer. Prayer is one of the mightiest weapons God has given His people. Prayer, like the reading of God’s Word, is seldom accessed. There are a couple aspects regarding prayer that are important to producing the miraculous. As we discover and apply those truths, we can expect miracles to be the common place in our lives. Realize we may not see a miracle every time we pray. Consider Jesus and the miracles He provided. He had all the power of heaven and yet He said that He only did what He saw the Father doing. So we should check our motives for asking along with keeping right attitudes. Pray for God’s will to be done and expect to live miraculously!
Psalm 142; 2 Corinthians 4:7-9; Matthew 6:33; Luke 1:37; Mark 16: 17-28; Matthew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Hebrews 13:8; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:1; Romans 5:8; Philippians 4:6-7; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Acts 8:20; James 5:16-18; James 5:14; Matthew 17:19-21; Daniel 9:3; Jeremiah 29:12-13; 1 John 5:14; John 5:19; Isaiah 5:20
The Fall Feasts - The Day of Atonement Part 2
Description How did the Day of Atonement point to Jesus? As we study the correlation between the Day of Atonement and the Second Coming of Jesus in Scripture it is fascinating. Jesus first came as a prophet, but now He is our High Priest and is coming back as King. The saints will give account for deeds and the church will be cleansed and made beautiful for the marriage of the Lamb. Repentance (The Feast of Trumpets) must precede redemption (Yom Kippur). God divinely place Yom Kippur before the Feast of Tabernacles, which is called “The Season of Our Joy.” There are exciting days ahead for the church.
Hebrews 7:25-26; Hebrews 9:12; Psalm 103:12; Hebrews 9:29; Hebrews 9:11-12; Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 9:28; Isaiah 27:13; Matthew 24:31; Matthew 25:31-46; Isaiah 52:13-14; Isaiah 52:15; Isaiah 63:1-3; Joel 2:15-16