Monthly Archives: November 2015

God’s Power Can Work in Your Life.

God’s Power Can Work in Your Life.

The Bible promises that anyone is able to know God’s will, be forgiven of sin, resist temptation, endure hardship, serve obediently, and receive eternal life. God provides the power we need through Jesus’ blood, the Scriptures, prayer, hope, love, and other Christians. No one needs to be lost. Anyone can overcome their past, achieve victory over sin, and become what God requires him/her to be.

Introduction:

Joshua 1:7,8 – Most people want to succeed in some area: business, family relations, music, athletics, politics, education, etc. God promised Joshua he could succeed in the most important activity in life: serving God.

People today also need reassurance that we can succeed in being right with God.

People who are not Christians are sometimes overwhelmed by the sacrifices Christians must make, the work to do, habits to change. They become so discouraged they do not even try.

Christians may also become discouraged as they try to live for God and find they have failed in some area. Some give up entirely. Others pretend to serve God while living in sin and excusing themselves by saying they simply cannot accomplish what the Bible says.

The purpose of this study is to show that God has provided all the blessings we need to serve Him successfully and receive eternal life.

These blessings are available to everyone. We must meet conditions that require effort and sacrifice, but all of us are capable of meeting these conditions. You can have God’s power working in your life!

Consider the Bible promises. Note words referring to power, strength, and ability in these verses.


I. What Power Does God Make Available?


A. You Can Have the Power to Know and Believe the Truth.

Some people get confused by the different teachings they hear. They say, “I don’t believe I can ever understand the Bible. One person teaches it one way and the next teaches it differently. I’ll never know what to believe.” But God can meet this need.

2 Timothy 3:15-17 – The Scriptures are inspired of God and able to make us wise to salvation. They are profitable to provide us to every good work.

1 Corinthians 2:4,5 – Paul’s preaching was in the demonstration of the Spirit and power, so our faith can stand in the power of God.

Romans 1:16 – The gospel is the power of God to save those who believe. But faith comes by hearing God’s word (10:17). The gospel is able to produce true faith in the heart of any honest person.

By human power alone truly we never could determine how to obtain eternal life. But God meets our needs by giving us the means to know and believe the truth if we study diligently with an honest, open heart.

[Mark 7:14; Eph. 3:3-5; John 8:31,32; Isaiah 55:11]

B. You Can Have the Power to Become a Child of God.

John 1:12 – Jesus gave the right (“power”) to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. Faith alone, without obedience, does not make one a child of God, but simply gives the power to become a child.

1 Peter 1:22,23 – The power to make us children of God is in God’s spiritual seed, His word. To be purified and born again, we must obey the truth. This includes repenting, confessing, and being baptized (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 17:30; Mark 16:16; Rom. 10:9,10).

Hebrews 7:25 – Jesus is able to save us to the uttermost. By human power alone we could never obtain forgiveness and become children of God. But God has made this power available to us.

C. You Can Have the Power to Resist Every Temptation.

People often excuse their sins saying obedience is just too hard. “I just can’t do it. God will just have to understand.” We may even blame God for being too demanding.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. This is true of every temptation. We can be sure this is true because it is based on God’s faithfulness.

Ephesians 6:10-18 – The Lord provides strength and power such that we are able to stand against the power of Satan. We can quench every one of his fiery darts (temptations). Again, this is not possible by human power. Perhaps Satan can defeat us if we face him alone, but we can succeed by the power of God’s armor.

These verses teach that a Christian can overcome every temptation. There is never any excuse for committing even one single sin. In practice we all commit sin, because we fail to use the weapons properly (1 John 1:8,10). But this is not necessary. If we believe our human nature compels us to sin and nothing can be done about it, we are looking at human power when we should be looking at God’s power.

[James 4:7; 2 Cor. 10:4,5; Jude 24]

D. You Can Have the Power to Endure Suffering and Hardship.

Often hardship, grief, sickness, and persecution tempt us to quit serving God. We think, “What’s the use?”

2 Corinthians 1:3-10 – Paul suffered beyond power such that he despaired of life. Someone may ask, “Doesn’t that prove there are temptations which are beyond our power?” Yes, perhaps we may face temptations beyond our power, but not beyond God’s power. Paul here says we should learn to trust in God.

Romans 8:31-39 – No suffering or hardship of any kind is able to separate us from God’s love. Rather, we are more than conquerors! We can defeat them all if we are on God’s side.

Nowhere does God say He will remove all our problems. Rather He promises we can endure, remain faithful, and receive eternal life despite our problems.

[Phil. 4:11-13; Heb. 11:34]

E. You Can Have the Power to Serve Others.

Discouragement sometimes comes when we try to help others, but we see no positive results. We may decide to quit trying, thinking, “It just doesn’t do any good.”

2 Corinthians 9:8-10 – God is able to supply all our need, so we can abound in every good work and increase the fruits of righteousness.

John 15:4-8 – Jesus is like the vine that supplies the needs of the branches. Apart from Him, acting by human power alone, we can do nothing. But in Him we can bear much fruit.

2 Timothy 2:2 – Faithful men shall be able to teach others. This is part of the power God promises us.

Romans 15:14 – We shall be able to admonish one another. As in other areas, degrees of ability will vary, but all can develop some ability in teaching.

There is no need for Christians to live barren, unfruitful lives. We can accomplish much good for God if we will make use of His power.

[2 Thess. 1:11,12; 1 Peter 4:11; 2 Tim. 1:7,8; 2 Cor. 1:4]

F. You Can Have the Power to Do Everything Necessary to Receive Eternal Life.

Ephesians 3:20,21 – God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think according to His power that works in us.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

1 Peter 1:3-5 – By God’s power we are guarded to an eternal and incorruptible inheritance in heaven.

2 Peter 1:3 – His power grants us all things that pertain to life and godliness.

The Bible nowhere teaches that it is impossible for a child of God to fall from grace. But it most certainly teaches that it is not necessary for us to fall!

[Mark 9:23; Isaiah 40:28-31; Eph. 1:19,20; Acts 20:32; Jude 24]


I. What Methods Does God Use to Provide This Power?


This power does us no good unless we know how to obtain it. As we study the methods God uses, note that all of them require effort on our part. There are conditions we must meet in order to have God’s power.

A. There Is Power in Jesus’ Blood.

1 Corinthians 1:18,23,24 – The power of God is the word of the cross, the message of Christ crucified.

Hebrews 7:25; 9:14 – Jesus’ sacrifice is able to save to the uttermost.

“There is power in the blood.” But the power is conditional. To receive it, you must repent and be baptized (see earlier discussion). If we sin afterward, we must repent and pray (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9).

B. There Is Power in God’s Love.

Ephesians 3:16,17 – We may be strengthened in the inner man, being rooted and grounded in love [cf. v19-21]. All of us need to know that we are loved and cared for.

When a person knows he is wrong, he may not care if he does more wrong. He is already alienated, so what will it hurt? But when he knows he has been right and he feels a sense of being loved, he does not want to do anything to break that bond.

1 John 4:9,19; 5:3 – God loves us so much that He gave Jesus to die for us. This knowledge compels us to love God and obey Him. People in sin often talk about the sense of loneliness they feel, knowing they are alienated from God.

Love is a powerful motivation. God’s love is the most powerful love there is. It is a bond that draws us to God and motivates us to serve Him successfully. But there are conditions: love must lead to obedience.

[John 14:15]

C There Is Power in the Scriptures.

Romans 1:16 – The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

1 Corinthians 1:18 – The word of the cross is the power of God.

Ephesians 6:13-17 – Every part of the armor of God is related directly or indirectly to the word: loins girt with truth, feet shod with the preparation of the gospel, the sword which is the word, etc.

Further, the Scriptures are involved in every area in which we need power: they are the basis of knowledge and faith, they tell us how to become children of God, they strengthen us to overcome temptation and comfort us in trouble, etc. [Matt. 4:4,7,10; Rom. 15:4]

Joshua 1:7,8 – To be successful in God’s work, Joshua had to meditate on God’s law. Again, the power of the word is conditional. We must study and follow the word in order to benefit from the power it provides.

[James 1:21-25; Acts 18:27,28; 20:32; Rom. 15:14; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Heb. 4:12f; 1 Cor. 10:12f; 16:13]

D. There Is Power in Prayer.

Ephesians 6:18 – There is power in God’s armor, but we are to take it on with prayer. We should make our requests known so God can supply what we need to serve Him.

Psalms 138:3 – In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul.

James 5:16 – The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

There is no need to bear our burdens alone. We can give them to God. But again there are conditions. We must use the privilege of prayer.

Too many of us are like a man with a powerful automobile who, instead of getting in and turning on the engine, stands behind the car pushing it. He tries to do it all himself and gets nowhere.

[1 Peter 5:7,8; Col. 1:9-11; 2 Thess. 1:11; Phil. 4:6,7]

E. There Is Power in Associating with Other Christians.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 – Two are better than one. If one falls, his companion can lift him up. An enemy might prevail against one alone, but instead there are two to withstand him. A threefold cord is not easily broken. There is strength in working together.

Galatians 6:2 – Christians bear one another’s burdens.

2 Corinthians 1:4 – They comfort one another in times of affliction. Sometimes our problems are bigger than we can handle alone. We need help. But remember, if we want others to help us, we need to be willing to help them when they have needs.

Hebrews 10:23-25 – One excellent time to strengthen one another is when the church meets. We can provoke one another to love and good works. We can exhort one another.

Again, the strength God supplies is conditional. We must make use of it. Strangely, many Christians neglect or flat refuse to use this source of strength at the very times they need it most. Facing the greatest spiritual dangers of their lives, when they are tempted to fall away, they neglect to attend church meetings.

We can only be strong when we use what God provides to make us strong!

[Heb. 3:12-14; Eph. 4:16; Col. 3:16; Rom. 15:14]

F. There Is Power in the Hope of Eternal Life.

2 Peter 1:8-11 – The desire to enter the everlasting kingdom motivates us to make our calling and election sure by developing the needed qualities in our lives. Instead of being near-sighted, we should keep our eyes on our goal.

1 Corinthians 9:25 – Goals motivate us to work hard, as illustrated by athletes. Without a clear vision of our goal, we may easily give up in hardship. With a clear and valuable goal, we are strongly motivated to persevere.

Matthew 6:24,33 – But again there are conditions. We must keep our eye on the goal and not become overly involved in affairs of this life. We cannot serve two masters, but must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. We must keep our priorities straight.

[1 Peter 1:3-5; Acts 20:32; Jude 24]

Conclusion

Acts 10:34,35 – God is no respecter of persons. In every nation, those who fear Him and work righteousness are accepted by Him. Everyone can serve God successfully. This is not just for other people. It includes you and me. [2 Peter 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4,6; Titus 2:11-14; Acts 2:38,39; Mark 16:15,16; Matt. 28:18-20; Rom. 1:16]

Why then are so many people being defeated in God’s service? Because they are not using the armor properly!

Imagine an army of soldiers sworn to protect the country where you live.

Suppose a powerful enemy is coming to attack your city, destroy your wives and children, causing great pain and grief. The enemy has a powerful weapon which your army is convinced it cannot defeat.

Then the soldiers learn of someone who has a powerful new weapon. Everywhere it has been used, the enemy has been defeated.

The new weapon is obtained so every soldier can have one. The weapons come with an instruction manual. Meetings are set up so the soldiers can learn how to use the weapon. Your army can successfully win the victory! All the soldiers have to do is attend the meetings, study the manual, and use the weapons provided.

Would you want those soldiers to stay home from 1/2 to 2/3 of the meetings, when they could come? Should they daydream through the meetings? Should they take the manuals home, lay them on the shelf, and rarely read them?

The enemy is Satan. You and I are the soldiers. We will surely lose, not just our lives, but our souls eternally unless we learn how to defeat Satan’s forces. God has provided armor that is guaranteed to defeat Satan, but we must learn to use it. It comes with a manual we must study – the Bible. The church is instructed to provide meetings so we can learn to use the weapons.

You can successfully win the battle against Satan by the means God has supplied. Are you studying and attending the meetings diligently so you can be successful? Are you as diligent as you would want soldiers to be if they were defending you and your family in wartime? Have you even yet enlisted in the army?

Our Resting Place

Matthew 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

 

In the first part of this chapter Jesus taught the solemn truth of human responsibility, and afterwards he had joyfully proclaimed in prayer the doctrine of election. Now he turns to give a free and full invitation to those who are needing rest. We must remember who it is  who is inviting men to come to him. The Son of the most high God, bids men to draw near to Himself without fear, and he will give them rest.

Christ said I will give you rest, not I will show you rest, nor tell you of rest, but I will give you rest for your soul. Christ said believe in me and I will give you rest, I will give you peace with God and peace with conscience. I will turn your storms into everlasting calm. I will give you a rest the world cannot take from you. The more we learn of Jesus the more we can take rest in His promises. Many are wondering through a vast wilderness of doubt, disbelief, and worry because they don’t know enough to know Christ as a way out of no way. Christ said “Learn of Me”.

We learn of Him as we draw near to Him through the study of His word. God said “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge”, it is not that the knowledge is not available, it is that many do not make themselves avavilable to receive the knowledge. Let us take His yoke upon us, let us learn of Him that we might be better witnesses to a dying world, of the good news of salvation

Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens

  Sunday School Lesson

                                                           November 22, 2015

Introduction :Acts 16 set the stage for the gospel going up and down the social ladder. Acts 16 illustrated the truth discerned in Acts 15. If Gentiles did not have to become Jews to be Christians, then that is good news for everyone. People like Lydia (Acts 16:11-18), the slave girl (vv. 16-24), and the jailer needed the gospel (vv. 25-40). In Acts 17 the gospel goes up the social ladder to the prominent (financially and philosophically). In Acts 18, 19 the gospel goes down the social ladder to the corrupt in Corinth and Ephesus.

Line It Up 

 Acts 17:1-4KJV

1Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:

And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

Paul and Silas left Philippi under duress yet with dignity. They had been imprisoned for the gospel but received an apology from the city officials that would ensure the church’s safety for the time being (Acts 16:35-40). They journeyed south through the military posts of Amphipolis and Appolonia toward Thessalonica. This was the capital city in Paul’s day and still flourishes today as a favorite resort city with 200,000 residents. This apostle to the Gentiles went first to the Jews in the synagogue. Paul reasoned with them from the Scriptures. The word reason is where we get our English word “dialogue.” This dialogue took the form of explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. Paul’s method of explaining (to go through the mind) and proving (to place before) seemed to line up the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah in one column and show how those were fulfilled in another column. This happened for three Sabbaths. Paul probably did not spend much more time in Thessalonica beyond those three weeks.
The method worked. Jews and Gentiles were persuaded and quite a few prominent women responded. The word for prominent is “first.” Are we sometimes guilty of not thinking about those above us on the social ladder?

Check It Out 
 Acts 17:10-12KJV
10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

Paul’s Thessalonian ministry was cut short by persecution. A man named Jason took the hit for Paul and Silas, who had been ushered out of town in the dead of night. The missionaries went to Berea. They followed their typical strategy in going to the synagogue. The Bereans were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica. Noble character means “good raced,” but what made them special was not their skin color; rather their eagerness to examine (critique thoroughly) the Scriptures to see if Paul was telling the truth. Paul’s ministry quickly ended in Berea with similar success between both genders of prominent people, as well as similar opposition from the Jews in Thessalonica. Silas and Timothy stayed for more ministry, but Paul was sent to Athens.

Lay It Straight

Acts 17:22-25, 28KJV

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

When Paul arrived in Athens, the city was living on past laurels. But it was the city of the three great philosophers (Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle). Financially and demographically Thessalonica was more prominent. But philosophically Athens was still the most prominent. Paul was deeply troubled in the idolatrous city (Acts 17:16). Even though they referred to him as a babbler (seed picker, v. 18), Paul proceeded to undercut the major presuppositions of the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers. With the great Parthenon in the background, Paul stood up at the Areopagus (a large rock formation) and did more than occupy their attention with something new (v. 21)—he scratched where they itched. He admitted that they were very religious (the word almost means superstitious or demonic), but they needed knowledge of the Creator God and his Son, Jesus Christ. So Paul laid it out straight. Paul found his starting point by an idol with the inscription, to an unknown god. There is much background to the origin of this inscription, but Paul did not even document his sources. Normally in the synagogue Paul would start with Genesis 12. This time he started with Genesis 1. God made the world, so he cannot be served by human hands. God is the life giver—not some “dumb” idol. Again Paul gave evidence of his great learning by quoting one of their ancient poets: “We are his offspring.” Paul is laying it out straight to them on their own turf. Paul literally went from Genesis 1 to Revelation 20—the great white throne of judgment (Acts 17:30, 31). Some suggest that Paul’s approach did not meet with success, but try telling that to Dionysius and Damaris and others (v. 34). The gospel is so powerful that even the prominent can be saved.