Opposition Begins

Many of you can identify with the “Power of Faith.”  It can be different in each of our lives.  Lesson seven in our study on the book of John was centered on John 5: 1 – 47.  The title identified was “Opposition Begins.”  Some of the headings found in Chapter 5 in the book of John, in the bible are:  “The Healing at the Pool; Life through the Son; Testimonies about Jesus.

 

The many toils of strife were chronicled by the apostle John, among others.  John was the messenger who told of the Messiah.  Jesus was faced with opposition, even though he did good.  He healed the lame and cured the sick.  Even though he performed miracles, the Jews considered him a mere man.  Jesus realized that he would be fighting an up-hill battle at the very beginning.  Those in power did not want to feel challenged for their stations in life (positions).  They also wanted to limit anyone from gaining a position that they did not support.

 

Jesus saw an invalid lying by the pool at Bethesda.  Jesus learned that he had been an invalid for thirty eight years; which to many of us is a long time.  Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well. After listening to his reply, Jesus told him to get up and walk.  Ordinarily, Jesus would have healed the man based on his faith.  Faith would have been a requirement, a pre-requisite., for the man to be cured.  In this particular instance, the man did not even know who Jesus was.  Jesus is not limited by a person’s lack of faith, even though he usually heals in response to faith.

 

The Jews questioned the man who had been healed.  They wanted to punish him for performing work on the Sabbath.  Per the NIV footnote of John 5:10 and the Life Change study guide text notes on page 69; “The Law of Moses forbids work on the Sabbath. The rabbis minutely spelled out what constituted work (by 200 AD thirty-nine classes of work were defined). Nehemiah 13:15 and Jeremiah 17:21-27 condemn carrying loads for commercial business on the Sabbath, so the rabbis decided that “taking out aught from one domain into another”(1) was always work. This included carrying a mat. The rabbis had a theory that each commandment should be applied as widely as possible to avoid even accidentally breaking the law.”  They interpreted that the law forbade his carrying of the mat in his possession.  They interpreted that the law forbade the carrying of loads of any kind.  The Jews held Jesus accountable for permitting the man to carry the mat on the Sabbath.  The Jews then persecuted Jesus because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.

 

Jesus was prepared for the opposition.  He was ready to do what it took.  He understood what lengths humans would go to, to maintain their authoritative positions, and positions of power.  Jesus understood that prophecy had to be fulfilled.

 

Sources:

Life Change Series, A NavPress Bible study of the book of John, NavPress, 1987.          (1) Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1971).

NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, 1995

 

   The Widow of Zarephath – 14 Key Points for Bible Study October 17, 2015

Key Scriptures: I Kings 17:8-24; Luke 4: 25-26

Supporting Scriptures: I Kings 17:1-7; Ex.16:4, 8a; Jer. 1:5; Is. 55:8; Phil. 4:6; I John 5:14b

Her Character: “A foreigner facing starvation, she showed extraordinary hospitality to one of God’s prophets, providing a safe harbor for him”.  (2; pg. 123)

  1. GOD’S OMNISCIENCE

I Kings 17:1—“… As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives,

whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”

  1. WE CAN STAND ON GOD’S PROMISES

I Kings 17:4— “You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there”.

I Kings 17:5-6— “So he did what the Lord had told him…the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook”.

NOTE: When Going Thru Remember What God Has Already Done

See Exodus 16: 4, 8a—–“Then the Lord said to Moses, I will rain down bread from heaven for you….you will know it was the Lord when He gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning,..”

  1. GOD IS ALWAYS AT WORK AND CAN USE ANYONE

I Kings 17: 7-9— “…later the brook dried up because there was no rain in the land…Then the word of the Lord came to him: Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.”

NOTE: EVEN UNBELIEVER’S CAN BE USED BY GOD

# 1: See NIV Footnote I Kings 17:9—Zarephath was a coastal town in the territory ruled by Jezebel’s father, Ethbaal. God sent Elijah to the area where Baal worship was predominant. The widow was therefore from a pagan nation and completely outside of God’s own people.

#2: See Luke 4:25-26 (Jesus said) “I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time….yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.”

NIV footnote Luke 4:26-27—“Jesus’ point was that when Israel rejected God’s messenger of redemption (Elijah), God sent him to the Gentiles.”

  1. WE MUST WALK BY FAITH

I Kings 17:10— “So he went to Zarephath”.

  1. FAITH REQUIRES OBEDIENCE

I Kings 17:10b-11—“…..a widow was there…he asked… would you bring me a little water in a jar…and bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

NOTE: ELIJAH FOLLOWED GOD’S INSTRUCTIONS BY APPROACHING THE WIDOW.

  1. GOD IS ALWAYS WITH US

I Kings 17: 12a— “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, (NIV Footnote I Kings 5:7—-“in polytheistic Cultures, it was common practice for the people of one nation to recognize the deities of another nation”.

I Kings 17:12b—“I don’t have any bread only a handful of  flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug….to take home and  make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die”.

NOTE: NO MATTER THE SITUATION, SEEMINGLY GOOD OR BAD, LOOK FOR GOD IN IT—HE IS THERE!

“When Elijah came and asked the widow for bread, it appeared as though he were asking her to give up the last food she had for herself and her son. Actually, he provided her with sustenance that would last until the famine was over”. (2; pg. 124)

Often when we are in the midst of crisis, we can only see the immediate. As believers, we must stand on faith, trust and know that God has the answer.

  1. BOLDLY SHARE GOD WITH OTHERS

I Kings 17:13-14—“Elijah said..don’t be afraid..make a small cake of bread for me..then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord God of Israel says: The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.”

  1. OBEDIENCE BRINGS REWARDS

I Kings 17: 15—“She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.”

THOUGHT QUESTION: WHY DO YOU THINK THE WIDOW DID AS ELIJAH INSTUCTED?

  1. GOD’S PROMISES ARE ALWAYS FULFILLED

I Kings 17: 16— “For the jar of flour was not used up and

the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

  1. GOD KNOWS

I Kings 17:17— “Sometime later, the son of the woman

….became ill….and finally stopped breathing.

NOTE: SEE JER. 1:5— “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”.

  1. SHOULD WE QUESTION GOD?

I Kings 17:18b—“She said to Elijah…did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son”.

I Kings 17:20— “he (Elijah) cried out to the Lord…have you brought tragedy also upon this widow…by causing her son to die?”

NOTE: Is 55:8—“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

  1. TAKE EVERYTHING TO GOD IN PRAYER

I Kings 17:21—“Then he…. cried to the Lord, O Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him”.

NOTE: Phil. 4:6—“Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.

  1. GOD LISTENS

I Kings 17:22—“The Lord heard Elijah’s cry and the boy’s life returned to him and he lived…..He gave him to his mother and said look your son is alive”.

NOTE: I John 5:14b—“….if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us”.

  1. GODS WANTS A PERSONAL, INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH US

I Kings 17:24—“Then the woman said to Elijah, NOW I KNOW that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth”.

  1. NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 1995
  2. Women of The Bible, 52 Bible Studies For Individuals And Groups,

Jean E. Syswerda, Zondervan 1999

Rachel Bible Study, 10 Points for Bible Study 4/25/2015

Rachel-A Woman of the Bible
By Ethel Robinson

Our Lesson of Rachel, comes from the book of Genesis 29-35; Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:18

1. Her name means “Ewe”

2. Rachel was manipulated by her father; she has little to say over her own life circumstances and relationships. But rather than dealing creatively with a difficult situation, she behaved like a perpetual victim, responding to sin with yet more sin, making things worse by competing with her sister and deceiving her father in return. (2, page 32)

3. The Daughter of Laban and the younger sister of Leah.

4. Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.

5. Jacob was in love with Rachel, and told Laban he would work seven years for him in the
return of his youngest daughter Rachel.

6. Rachel’s sister Leah was married to Jacob by deception
Genesis 29: 19-20 Laban said, “It is better that give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed to like only a few days to him because he loved her. Then Jacob said Laban, “give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”

7. Rachel was deceived by her father.
Genesis 29:22-23 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her (Leah).

8. Rachel eventually marries Jacob after another seven years goes by.
Genesis 29: 26-28 Laban replied, “It is not our custom her to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work. And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife.

9. After being barren God answered Rachel’s prayers.
Genesis 30:22-24 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, God has taken away my disgrace. ”She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.

10. Rachel bore two sons Joseph and Benjamin.

1. The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan 2008 Edition (All scriptures)

2. Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Jean E Syswerda, Zondervan, 1999, pg. 221.

“Thank You God, for The Times You’ve Said “No”

When we ask God (through prayer) to meet our needs, we expect Him to answer “yes,” every time. We’ve already had the time to assess and examine our situation; therefore, we know that we do need God’s help. The help we want from Him (as our Father) is His endorsement, His permission, and His granting of our wish. God’s love for us and His moral attributes will not allow Him to give us His endorsement, His permission, or His wish fulfillment to all that his beloved children request of Him.

“God is just and righteous because He reacts to law—His Law. His love has a self-imparting quality that leads God to seek the highest good for His Creation (us) and to seek complete possession of us”. Psalm 145:9, 15-20a: – “The Lord is good to all he has made. You give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love him.” Romans 2:2-4 “You, therefore have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance, and patience not realizing that God’s kindness leads toward repentance?” (Cook pg. 6) Thank you God, for the times you’ve said “no.”

“God’s love seeks to reclaim those who wander from Him”. Jeremiah 50:6 – “My people have been lost; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountains and hill and forgot their own resting place. Whoever found them devoured them; their enemies said, “We are not guilty, for they sinned against the Lord, their true pasture, the Lord, the hope of their fathers.” (Cook pg. 7) Thank you God, for the times you’ve said, “No” to us economically. You’ve changed our financial structure, financial contracts, resources, job security, positions, titles, and our tenure. This has caused a domino effect in the whole world’s finance system.

“He desires to seek and to save those who are lost because of His Love.”

2 Peter 3:3-9 – “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is the coming he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation. But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water by water. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (Cook Pg 6) Thank you God, for the times you’ve said “no” to our hanging out with the wrong crowd.

“God is all powerful. He can do any/all things consistent with His nature and purpose. He is able to do all that He wills to do. God does what is right.” Romans 1:16-17a – “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation of everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith.” (Cook pg 5) Thank you God, for the times you’ve said “no” by preventing us from moving forward, without your direction. We were packed up and ready to go to what we perceived as the next logical step, you, God were able to bring everything to a screeching halt.

We often respond negatively to God’s refusals to us, His answers of “no.” Some of us truly grieve at the loss of God’s endorsement, His permission, and His granting of our wishes. Others may resort to pouting, complaining, passive-aggressive behavior, or by shutting down to a life-long pity party. Still others may decide to try another god who is permissive, and caters to all of their whims until it’s time for the natural and logical consequences to occur. James 1:2-8 reminds us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If anyone likes wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”

When we are faced with any situation, know that all things begin and end with God for the Believer. When answers are needed, be humble and courageous enough to go to the source (God) for all answers, for the Believer.

Prayer: Thank you God, for restraining us by saying, “No.” We humbly receive your corrections with gratitude to you, in the matchless name of Jesus, Amen.

Rev. Glenda Brunson

1.All scriptures from the NIV Study Bible, The Zondervan Corporation, 1995

2.Cook, James L., Introduction to Theology, A Summery Outline, St. Petersburg Theological Seminary

(Reprint from August 2010 Facebook)

God is…

These are my reflections from the teachings of a sermon series called God is…

Who is God to me and more importantly how can I grow to know him more fully in order to establish and foster a relationship with him.  During our study we looked at scripture to first glean why it is important to God that we know him.

Jeremiah 9:24(NIV) …but let him who boasts boast about this: that he who understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord.

We can learn who God is by his own words and how he describes himself. In the earlier verse (v.23) he chides us about our own placement of importance on such things as wisdom, strength and riches. We have a tendency to boast about these things and place them high on the list of how we feel about ourselves and our accomplishments. We decide that being smart and having the money to purchase and use the latest smart phone is important. These things have no value to God; they are not important to him. What is important, God declares, is our knowledge and understanding of him, that we know that he is the Lord. He teaches us in his word that our knowing his attributes, what he does for us, his purpose, his love for us – in all of these he delights.

Another scripture we studied in the God is… series was Isaiah 6:1-3 where Isaiah looked upon the Lord and described him seated on a throne with a robe that filled the whole temple. Seraphs or angels called to one another:

Isaiah 6:3 (NIV) Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory.

We learned that triple repetition of the word holy denotes God’s infinite Holiness; a way to exclaim before there were exclamation marks. Holy is defined in Webster’s dictionay as revered, set apart, awed. The majesty, splendor and grandeur of God is described by Isaiah who is so awed and inspired that he answers God’s question to be the one God sends to deliver his message. Will we be so inspired and not run away from the tasks, the challenges that God puts before us? Will we listen and obey; will we run to him and welcome the relationship offered to us. God’s invitation is clear.

We can learn who God is by exploring how God describes himself. This time we looked at scripture where The Lord asks:

                 Isaiah 40:25 (NIV) “To whom will you compare me?”… and in V.28 Isaiah responds “The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth.”                 

There is none to compare to him. He can name every star by name; he most assuredly knows who we are and wants us to know who he is. He wants us to understand who he is and to develop a relationship with him.  We are to be in awe of his power and his majesty but we also are to be aware of his love, his kindness and his righteousness provided for us the faithful, obedient people he created. God you truly are Awesome, awesome, awesome to me. You are wonderful and to be praised.

Instructor’s Comment 3 – “The Erector Set of Hope”

Lesson Two – Naomi and Ruth Return (Ruth 1:1-22)

RUTH 1: 19-22
So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem.
When they arrived in Bethlehem the town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth, the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.

After Naomi either finally understood Ruth’s level of commitment to her (1:16-18), or was just too exhausted to argue/debate the fact that she (Ruth) would be better-off if she just “went home to her people, land, and customs.” Naomi and Ruth travel back to Bethlehem. The whole town was “stirred because of them.”(1:19). It is evident that Naomi’s mood had not improved by arriving safely back in her home-town.

Naomi’s assessment of her situation was that it was dismal. She assessed that she “left Bethlehem full”: she was young, vibrant, had a husband, and two sons. Her husband, Elimelech, was her everything— he filled her life, providing love, emotional support, companionship, and took care of her financial/household needs. Hers sons, Mahlon and Kilon, though frail, were prized heirs, who would continue to care for her, should anything happen to Elimelech. But God, had other plans for Naomi—and she was still so “grief-stricken” that she could only see emptiness with the deaths of her husband and both sons. Naomi had land in Bethlehem, but had no access to it as a female head-of-the-household because of the laws at that time.

What can we learn from this phase of Naomi’s life? Naomi saw “no hope” for her future. She thought the Lord had abandoned her. We sometimes interpret “hope” to mean “a wish.” That’s evident when we use terms like, “I hope so,” or “I hope this gets better.” As Believers, we should remember the “Erector Set of Hope.” We can’t build anything on a “wish,” but lives constructed on Jesus’ blood as the “Hope”, can withstand anything life hands us.

Some Scriptural references for “Hope”:

Jeremiah 29:11-12 –“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Job 13:15 –Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.

Psalm 42:5- Why downcast , O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God,

Psalm 62:5 – Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

Isaiah 40 :31 – But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength,
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.

Prayer: Father, we thank you for your guidance through this study of Ruth. May we continue to listen to your instructions, and pass it on to those who join us for the study of your Word! Amen.

Reverend Glenda Brunson