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Theme: “UNITED TO ADVANCE OUR KINGDOM AGENDA

Matt. 6:33; 16:18; Mark 1:14-17; Romans 14:17

Focus: “TURNING FROM INFERIOR SUBSTITUTES”

Mark 1:17

DIGGING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

WHAT IS OUR KINGDOM AGENDA? The Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The Gospel (Good News) was first preached by John the Baptist (Matt. 3:2). The law of the prophets were until John, since that time the Kingdom of God is preached (Luke 16:16). Soon afterward, Jesus Christ the Messiah came on the scene saying “the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye and believe the Gospel.” (Mark1:14-15). Following His resurrection, Jesus spoke to His disciples for 40 days of things pertaining to the Kingdom of God (1:3). Finally, Jesus commissioned his followers to take the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the ends of the earth, saying “And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt.24:14).

New! Improved! The latest! Fresh! Now! Those adjectives imply that products, services, programs, or information is current and up to date. They are used in advertising to attract customers, pique interest, and make sales. After all, old is ok for history buffs or antiques, but no one wants to be out of style, or out of dated?

Many people carry that attitude into their Bible study, seeing the Old Testament as old and dusty, ancient history that is out of touch. But the New Testament is different, they think. After all, it’s “new”… or at least newer.

In some ways they are right…the New Testament was written after the Old Testament, so it is more recent. But to think that way about old and new is to have a very shallow and superficial view of Scriptures. Throughout the New Testament are many examples that the Old Testament is very much up to date and relevant to our lives. The biblical principles from Genesis 1 through Malachi 4 are timeless–important to know and apply. God inspired all Scripture, so we should study all of it to discover His guidance and will. It would be a terrible mistake to relegate the Old Testament to the dusty shelf of irrelevance.

The New Testament is not called “new” because it replaces the Old Testament, or because it was written more recently. Rather it is “new” because it fulfills the “old.” The Bible is the story of God and His relationship with humankind and with His own people.

What the priests pictured in the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New.

What the prophets predicted in the Old Testament comes to pass in the New.

What God promised in the Old Testament happens in the New.

Actually, the two Testaments fit together and must be understood together. The Old prepares the way for the New, and the New interprets the Old. We can’t fully understand what God intended in the Old Testament without a knowledge of the New. And we can’t fully understand the New Testament without a knowledge of the Old.

As we come to the New Testament, the story of Christ and the church, don’t think of it as “God’s Word, new and improved.” Rather, approach the New Testament as “God’s Word, the rest of the story.”

The Gospels tell us about Jesus, the Messiah; the Son of God. In studying the life of Christ, there are several areas we can find applications.

1. Jesus Lifestyle: Jesus told his disciples that if they wanted to know what God was like, they should look at him (John4:9). He had no respect of persons. Do you want to see God in action, in the flesh? Look at Christ. The goal of the Christian life is to be like Christ(Romans 8:29). “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

How did Jesus evangelize? Relate to sinners, the poor, the sick, and the oppressed? Teach the disciples? Obey his Father? Defeat temptation? Deal with hypocrisy? Asking questions like this can teach us how we should act.

We may assume that Jesus disciples were great men of faith from the first time they met Jesus. They had to grow in their faith just as all believers do (Matt. 14:48-50; 66-72). If we practice Christ’s teachings and share the Gospel with others, we will be able to draw those around us to Christ like a fisherman who pull fish into his boat with a net.

When Jesus called his disciples, they knew what kind of man he was and were willing to follow him. They were not in a hypnotic trance when they followed, but were thoroughly convinced that following him would change their live forever.

Mark 1:40-45

records the story of Jesus healing a leper. Verses 41-42 states “And Jesus, moved with pity, touched the leper and said, “Be thou clean!” Immediately the leprosy was gone–the man was healed.” Two lessons from Jesus’ lifestyle stands out from this passage: his compassion for hurting people “moved with pity” and the fact that he touched the leper “an unclean outcast, an untouchable person in that society.” Do you have a lack of compassion for the needy in your community?

2. Ethical Teachings: Often Jesus gave specific statements as to how people, especially his followers, were to live. 20 centuries later, we still follow him, so those statements also apply to us. Check out the sermon on the mount (Matt. 5-7) and the Upper room Discourse (John 13-17). We could spend months studying, learning and applying just those sections.

In John 16:33, we find a strong word of encouragement from Jesus to his disciples: “I have told you all this so you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have over come the world.” Christ’s teachings for me is clear: as a human being in a fallen world, I will encounter difficulties and struggles, and as a follower of Christ, I will be pressured and tested. But regardless of the problems, I can have hope because I have Christ.

Certain authority is granted to some but not to all. For example, the authority to use weapons and restrain people is granted to police officers, but not to the general public. The authority to imprison people is granted to judges, but not to individual citizens. Jesus had God’s authority, something we cannot have. While we want to live like Christ, we should never try to claim His authority where it has not been given to us.

 

3. Parables: When Jesus spoke to the gathered multitudes, he often used parables–stories with a message. He would explain the meaning of the parable to his disciples. These stories contains principles for us, but we should be careful not to read too much into them. Usually there is one main point that Jesus is making. If there are more, he says so. The parable of the four soils, for example, can teach us much about how people respond to the Word of God (Luke 8:4-15). But we shouldn’t try to fine a special meaning for every part of the story such as the path, birds, rocks, etc.

In the parable of the wealthy man in Luke 12:16-21, the rich man had such an abundance of crops that he planned to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. He thought, “I’ll sit back and say to myself, “friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. But that night the man would die. Jesus ended this parable by explaining “every man is a fool who gets rich on earth but not in heaven” (v 21). Earthly treasures are worthless when seen in the light of eternity.

4. Figures of Speech: Jesus used a collection of word pictures and metaphors to describe himself and his kingdom. Jesus said he was “bread” (John 6:35), “the light” (John 8:12), “a gate” (John 10:7), “and the true Vine” ((John 15:1). The kingdom of God is described as seeds and weeds, a mustard seed, a woman making bread, hidden treasure, a pearl merchant and a net (Matt. 13). How is Christ your bread? What are the weeds in your life?

Doctrines: As the early church was being established, Paul and other disciples spent much time defining and explaining theology to new believers. Questions about the nature of God, guilt and forgiveness, law and grace, eternal destiny, etc;, needed to be answered. Knowing these doctrines is vital for any growing Christian. But we must go beyond being correct and knowing the facts. We must allow these truths to permeate and change our lives. In Romans 8: 1-17, Paul explains the freedom that is ours in Christ, how Christ frees us from the vicious cycle of sin and death (v-2). Although we will always have a sin nature to contend with, we do not have to be controlled by it. Christ gives us the power through his Holy Spirit to do what is right, to “behave like God’s very own children” (v15). The secret is our will, where we yield ourselves and change our behavior. We don’t have to do what is sinful and harmful. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do what is pleasing to God.

Ethics: In Galatians 6:3-5, we read :If anyone thinks he is too great to stoop to this, he is fooling himself. He is really a nobody. Everyone, be sure to do your very best, then you will have the personal satisfaction of work well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to someone else.

Church Conflicts: We can learn from how Paul and other church leaders resolved their conflicts. The letter to Philemon gives a wonderful example of how to resolve a potential interpersonal conflict in the church. We can find many lessons for our lives by seeing how Paul related to both Onesimus and Philemon in this inspired letter. After the apostles were martyred, the Great Commission passed on to the next generation of Jesus’ disciples. The Gospel of the Kingdom still compel true followers of Jesus, in our generation, to cry out for repentance and preach Jesus Christ, preparing the way for the Lord’s Second Coming.

There are many “antichrists in these last times, and they may not be easily recognized as one might suppose. Those who preach a “Jesus who brings you money, wealth and prosperity” or a Jesus who accepts your life-style are preaching another Jesus. Diligent study of God’s Word and knowing the true Jesus is the only sure way to recognize counterfeit Christs and identify false ministers who pervert the Word of God for personal gain.

The antichrist spirit aims to deceitfully draw people away from the true Spirit of God. That deception is so strong, that even the deceivers themselves don’t realize they are deceived (I Tim. 4:1). Not everyone that does good works or claim to come in the name of Christ has the Holy Spirit within them. Many have another spirit. I John 4:1 says “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

PRAYER IS THE KEY AND FAITH UNLOCKS THE DOOR

 

(II Chronicles 7:12-18)  (12) And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. (13) If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; (14) if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (15) Now mine eyes shall be open, and my ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. (16) For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there forever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. (17) And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt observe my statures and my judgments; (18) then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel.

 

This passage is important because it says God’s people have a responsibility for the society in which they live. Jesus said we are the salt and light of the earth (Matt. 5:13,14).

 

 If our country is going down the tubes, we must take personal responsibility because we are responsible to heal wounds and light the way.

 

If we are going through difficulty and chaos as a nation, we as believers must say “Lord have we been failing? Have we been playing and not praying? Forgive us!!!”We must be those who are lights, praying rather than complaining.

 

Months, maybe years had passed since Solomon’s prayer of dedication (chapter 6). After all this time God told Solomon that he had heard his prayer (7:11; 8:1).

 

How often do we look for immediate answers to our prayers and when nothing happens, wonder if God has heard us? God does hear, and he will provide for us, but we must trust that he will answer at the proper time.

 

In chapter 6 Solomon asked God to make provisions for the people when they sinned. God answered with four conditions for forgiveness: (1). Humble yourself by admitting your sins, (2). Pray to God asking for forgiveness, (3). Seek God continually, and (4) turn from sinful behavior.

 

True repentance is more than talk—it is changed behavior. Whether we sin individually, as a group, or as a nation, following these steps will lead to forgiveness. God will answer our earnest prayers.

 

Prayer is defined as speaking or communicating with God. For a person to pray there must be (1) an acknowledgement of God’s existence, (2) HOPE THAT God knows and cares about us, and (3) expectation that God is able and willing to respond to us. Prayer as described in Scripture is an expression of covenant relationship. According to the Old Testament, God established a special relationship with Abraham and his descendants. According to the New Testament, God in Christ, reached out beyond Israel to establish a personal bond with all who would accept His offer of salvation.

 

Faith is belief, confidence, trust, and reliance. In the Bible, religious faith is a life shaping attitude toward God. The person with faith considers God’s revelation of Himself and of truth to be certain and sure. The person with faith then responds to God with trust, love, and obedience. God made promises to Abraham, and the Bible says “Abraham believed the Lord, and God credited to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6).

 

To be righteous means to be rightly clothed. That is what we are when, like Abram, we simply take God at His Word. Righteousness: God thought it. Jesus bought it. The Spirit taught it. Satan fought it. But saints, we got it!! We are robed in righteousness.

 

Isaiah 61:10 states “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garment of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bride-groom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

 

Isaiah’s zeal for his people and his desire to see the work of salvation completed caused him to pray without resting, hoping that Israel would be saved. We should have Isaiah’s zeal to see God’s will done.

 

This is what we mean when we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is good to keep praying consistently for others.

 

In the New Testament, the object of faith is Jesus. Biblical faith has two aspects: on God’s part there is an act of revelation that calls for a response; on man’s part there is a response of faith that evaluates God’s revelation as trustworthy and responds wholeheartedly to the Lord. God presents Jesus as His Son, whose death wins us forgiveness, and we, by faith, rely completely on Jesus for our salvation.

 

 

Bringing Light to the World
If we are following Christ, we will be making disciples.

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ can never be reduced to merely producing Christian character in ourselves or loving one another, as important as those things are. Being a disciple of Jesus means making other disciples, because that is what our Lord has commanded us to do. God’s sovereign purpose in this world is to create a redeemed people to worship and enjoy Him eternally, but He has chosen to accomplish that purpose through human beings. He has made us stewards of the gospel, placing that precious knowledge in earthen vessels, in the fragile container of our lives.

Do you understand that sharing the good news of eternal life through faith in Christ is every Christian’s responsibility? You may know that and still not tell anyone about Jesus. Do you think you do not know enough to be an evangelist? Do you think you need more training?

The problem for most Christians is not knowledge but obedience. It is not that we do not know what we need to do or how to do it. What we lack is the intention to do it. We have not made up our minds that the commands of Jesus will come before the demands of this world. When we genuinely deny ourselves and follow Him, when we offer our lives as living sacrifices, our minds and hearts will be transformed. As disciples of Jesus, our first priority will be to make other disciples for Him.

Why the Church Is Here
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen (Matthew 28:19-20).

Do you ever wonder what our real purpose is in the world? Here is the end of your confusion. Our purpose is to make disciples of all the nations. The risen Jesus Christ gave this command to His apostles just before He ascended to the Father, but He intended it for all of us. That is why these verses are known as the Great Commission. It states the mission of the church.

In the original Greek, there is only one verb here—"make disciples." That is the imperative. The other words that seem like commands are actually participles modifying the main verb. What I mean is that the main verb in the sentence is "make disciples," which you do by going, baptizing, and teaching (all participles).

To make disciples in another nation, you have to go where people do not know about Christ. Once you get there and they come to faith in Christ, you have to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. That is to say, you need to bring them to an understanding of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which is demonstrated in baptism. Baptism is important not because it saves, but because it is the public confession of salvation. Then you instruct them to be obedient to their Lord, teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded. You are not alone in this enterprise. Jesus says, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Until the time is completely done for evangelism, I will be with you helping you to make disciples.

How would you answer if I asked you the reason for the church? Why are we still here on earth? What should we be doing?

Some might say we should be living a holy life. That is a good thing, but it is not the main reason we are here. If that is all the Lord wants, we might as well go on to heaven, because we can’t really live a perfectly holy life down here.

Some might say we are saved so we can be in fellowship. That is good, too, and we do have fellowship with other believers. But the fellowship is very imperfect, as you must know from experience. We have all kinds of problems getting along with one another as Christians. We don’t actually do fellowship very well down here.

Some might say the real priority for us is worship. We do work on worship in the church, but we don’t always get that right, either. Sometimes our minds wander and we find it hard to focus on God. Sometimes our emotions are swept away by music, but they go to a place that has little to do with God. We are fickle creatures, easily distracted.

All of that is to say that our holiness is imperfect, our fellowship is imperfect, and our worship is imperfect. If those were the top priorities, then we would do better to go on to heaven. When we get to heaven, we will be perfectly holy; our fellowship and worship will be perfect. That leaves us with only one reason to stay here on earth. There is one thing we can do on earth that we cannot do in heaven—that is to make disciples of all nations. The Great Commission is given to us individually and corporately as the church.

Make sure you are involved in carrying out this commission. No one is exempt from this joyous duty. Go to people who do not know Christ. Tell them about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Encourage them to acknowledge faith in Jesus Christ and to demonstrate that by baptism. Follow up by teaching them to obey the things Jesus told us to do. And do it all knowing that Christ Himself is with you as you accomplish His purpose for you. He will be with you to the very end.

 

BE SKILLFUL TEAM BUILDING

 BE SKILLFUL IN TEAM BUILDING

Acts 14:26-28

 

(26) and thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. (27) And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. (28) And there they abode long time with the disciples.

 

DEFINITIONS:

(1). Skillful means possessing or exercising skill; expert

(2). Skill means 1. Proficiency, ability or dexterity; expertness 2. An act, trade or  

       technique, particularly one requiring the use of the hands or body. 3. A reason; cause;    

       discernment.

(3). Discern mean to distinguish, detect, discriminate; come to know.

(4). Discerning of Spirits is the ability that the Holy Spirit gives to some Christians to     

      discern between those who spoke by the Spirit of God and those who spoke by false

      spirits.

(5). Build 1. Mean to construct, 2. Metaphorically, to promote Christian growth. The Old  

      Testament pictures God as the builder of his redeemed people (Jer. 33:7-9). The New

      Testament casts Christians as God’s house, with Jesus as the Master builder (Heb.

      3:3-6).God permits Christians a role as fellow builders, who work with him and    

      contributes to the growth of other believers. Ephesians 4:12-16 describes the church,

      its members bound together in unity that is experienced through love, growing and

      building itself up, as each part does its work.

(6). Mature, Maturity: Spoken of persons who achieves the goal of Christian growth,

      who are “grownup” spiritually. The mature Christian, is one who by obedience to     

      God, has trained himself to distinguish good from evil (Heb. 5:14). The mature 

      Christian presses on toward the goal of knowing Christ and becoming more like him 

      (Phil. 3:10-15), and makes a full commitment to do the will of God (Col. 4:12).

 

 

Paul and Barnabas returned to visit the believers in all the cities where they had recently been threatened and physically attacked. These men knew the dangers they faced, yet they believed they had a responsibility to encourage the new believers. No matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable the task may seem, we must always support new believers who need our help and encouragement. It was not convenient or comfortable for Jesus to go to the Cross for us.

 

Paul and Barnabas were persistent in their preaching of the Good News. They considered the cost to themselves to be nothing in comparison with obedience to Christ. At one point Jews from Antioch and Iconium tracked Paul down, stoned him, and left him for dead. But Paul got up and went back into the city and preached the Good News. That is true commitment!! Being a disciple of Christ calls for costly commitment. As Christians, we no longer belong to ourselves, but to our Lord for whom we are called to suffer.

♦Presenter: Missionary Lelia Owens/Walthall Chapel C. O. G. I. C./Golden Gates Of Zion District

Part of the reason Paul and Barnabas risked their lives to return to these cities was to organize the churches’ leadership. They helped believers get organized with spiritual leaders who could help them to grow. Churches grow under Spirit-led leaders, both laypersons and pastors. Pray for your church leaders and support them; and if God urges you, humbly accept the responsibility of a leadership role in your church.

 

When many people approve of us, we feel good, but that should never cloud our thinking or affect our decisions. We should not live to please the crowd—especially in our spiritual lives. Be like Jesus. Know the nature of the crowd and don’t put your trust in it. Put your trust in God alone.

 

We must never exclude anyone whom Christ has called to follow him. Acts 13:2-3 states “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” We too, should dedicate our pastors, missionaries, and Christian workers for their tasks. We can also dedicate ourselves with our time, money, and talents for God’s work. Ask God what he wants you to dedicate to him.

 

The church was involved in sending Saul and Barnabas off on their first missionary journey, but it was God’s plan. Saul and Barnabas were led by the Holy Spirit.

 

SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT:

Solomon requested it from God. Solomon asks for wisdom (“an understanding heart”) in order to lead well and make right decisions, not wealth, but God gave him riches and long life as well (I Ki.3:9-14). While God does not promise riches to those who follow him, he gives us what we need, if we put his Kingdom, his interests, his principles first (Matt. 6: 31-33). If you put God and his work first, he will satisfy your deepest needs.

 

Solomon received great wisdom from God, but it was up to him to apply that wisdom to all areas of his life. He was wise in governing the nation, but he was foolish in running his household. Wisdom is both the ability to discern what is best and the strength of character to act upon that knowledge. Solomon remained wise all his life, but he did not always act upon his wisdom (I Ki. 11:6). “And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father.”

 

While Solomon applied his wisdom to political affairs, he did not always apply it to his spiritual life. He knew the right way to live, but he did not always have to will to do it. Many people have enough wisdom to know the difference between right and wrong, but they do not always do right. We need to develop not only the wisdom to do right, but the will to do it.

 

We can ask God for this same wisdom. James 1:5 states “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask God, that giveth to all men liberally”…. By “wisdom” James is talking not only about knowledge, but about the ability to make wise decisions in difficult circumstances.

♦Presenter: Missionary Lelia Owens/Walthall Chapel C. O. G. I. C./Golden Gates of Zion District

  Whenever we need wisdom, we can pray to God and He will supply what we need. Christians never need to grope about in the dark, hoping to stumble upon answers. We can ask for God’s wisdom to guide our choices. Wisdom begins with respect for God, and leads to right living, and results in increased ability to tell right from wrong. God is willing to give us this wisdom, but we will be unable to receive it if our goals are self-centered instead of God-Centered. To learn God’s will we need to read God’s Word and ask Him to show us how to obey it.

 

Note, Solomon asked for wisdom to carry out his job, he did not ask God to do the job for him. We should not ask God to do for us what he wants to do through us. We should ask God to give us the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to follow through on it.

 

David prayed for spiritual discernment (Psalms 119:18), “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. “ Most of us rebel or reject ruled because we think they restrict us from doing what we want. God’s laws were given to free us to be all he wants us to be. They restrict us from doing those things that will cripple us and keep us from being our best. God’s guidelines help us to follow in his path and avoid paths that lead to destruction.

 

As we travel through life, the Bible should be our road map, pointing out safe routes, obstacles to avoid, and our final destination. We should view ourselves as pilgrim travelers, here on earth, that need to study God’s map to learn the way. If we ignore the map, we will wander aimlessly through life and risk missing our real destination.

 

A discerning spirit was sought by Daniel. (Daniel 7:15, 16) reads “I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.” If you feel as Daniel did about these prophecies, disturbed, and confused…recognize with him, that God has not yet revealed their full meaning. The full implication of these prophecies will not be known until God reveals them to his people.

 

God was able to use Daniel because Daniel was able to forgive Nebuchadnezzar for the wrong he had done him (Dan. 4:19).  Very often when we have been wronged by someone, we find it difficult to forget the past. We may even be glad if that person suffers. Forgiving people means putting the past behind us. Ask God to help you forgive, forget and love. God may use you in an extraordinary way in that person’s life. If you feel wounded and torn by the events of your life, turn to God, so he can heal and comfort you.

 

You might be able to quote theology. You might have countless charts of Eschatology. There might be no end to the knowledge in your head—but until people see your heart, they won’t receive from you.

 

(Hosea 6:1) states “Come, and let us return unto the Lord, for he hath torn and he will

♦Presenter: Missionary Lelia Owens/Walthall Chapel C. O. G. I. C./Golden Gates of Zion District

heal us; hath smitten and he will bind us up.” The people did not understand the depth of their sins. They did not turn from idols, pledge to change, or regret their sins. They thought God’s wrath would last only a few days; little did they know that their nation would be taken into exile. Israel was interested in God only for the material benefits that came from worshipping him.

 

Before judging them, however, consider your attitude. What do you hope to gain from your religion? Do you “repent” easily, without seriously considering what changes need to take place in your life? God had shown his faithfulness to Israel many times. They knew that if they sought to know him and his ways, he would reveal himself to them, and they were right (2:20).

 

The problem was they were so deep in sin they did not really want to know him. They wanted the benefits, but not his discipline or guidance.

 

Spiritual discernment is denied to the unregenerate. I Cor. 2:14 reads “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.” Non-Christians cannot understand spiritual truths, and they cannot grasp the concept that God’s Spirit lives in believers. Don’t expect most people to approve of or understand your decision to follow Christ. It all seem silly to them. Just as a tone-deaf person cannot appreciate fine music, the person who rejects God cannot understand truths from God’s Spirit. The lines of communication are broken, and he cannot hear what God is saying to him.

 

The idea that man is a free moral agent is somewhat of a misconception. Paul told Timothy that men are taken captive by the enemy against their wills, as they are blinded and bound by Satan ((Tim.2; 26). That is why when the natural man hears the Word, it is foolishness to him.

 

Much of our witnessing is ineffective because we fail to pray, “Lord, please remove the blindfold Satan has put on this person’s eyes. Please open his ears. Otherwise, he will not see the real issues and he won’t hear your voice.”

 

No one can comprehend God (Rom. 11:34), but by his Spirit, believers have insight into some of God’s plans, thoughts, and actions. They, in fact, “have the mind of Christ” By the Holy Spirit, we can begin to know his thoughts, discuss them with him, and expect his answers to our prayers. Are you spending enough time with Christ to have his mind in you? An intimate relationship with Christ comes only from consistent time spent in his presence and in His Word.

 

Necessity of a discerning spirit: “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirit” means we shouldn’t believe every thing we hear just because someone says it is a message inspired by God. Perfect Mature Love requires discernment. Perfect Love requires that we test the spirits in order that we don’t fall prey to those who would seek to lure us away from the simplicity of the Gospel. There are many ways to test teachers to see if their message is

♦Presenter: Missionary Lelia Owens/Walthall Chapel C. O. G. I. C./Golden Gates of Zion District

truly from God. One is to check their words with what God says in the Bible. Other tests include their commitment to the body of believers (2:19), their life-style (3:23-24), and the fruit of their ministry (4:6). But the most important test of all, says John, is what they believe about Christ. Do they teach that Jesus is fully God and fully man? Our world is filled with voices claiming to speak for God. Give them these tests to see if they are indeed speaking God’s truth. If a teaching, suggestion or thought is of the Spirit of God, it will affirm both the deity and the humanity of Christ.

 

LUCIFER

 

 

Lucifer

 

 

(Isaiah 14:12-14)  “”How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

 

There are several interpretations of the above Scriptures.  Lucifer is another name for Satan, because the person here is too powerful to be any human king. They could be referring to Sennacherib or Nebuchadnezzar, kings with supreme power. Their people looked upon them as gods. These kings desired to rule the world. Also, they could refer both to Satan and a great human king, probably Nebuchadnezzar since Babylon is pictured as the seat of evil in Revelation 17 & 18.

 

Pride was Satan’s sin as well as Babylon’s. Common to all three viewpoints is the truth that pride is against God and will result in judgment.

 

The name Lucifer comes from the 4th century AD Latin translation of this verse.  The name Lucifer originally denotes the planet Venus, emphasizing its brilliance. The Vulgate employs the word also for “the light of the morning” (Job 11:17), the signs of the of the zodiac (Job 38:32), and the aurora (Ps. 109:3). Metaphorically, the word is applied to the king of Babylon (Isa. 14:12). The Latin word Lucifer is composed of two words: lux, meaning “light” and ferre, which means “to bear” or “to bring.” So the word Lucifer means the bearer of light.

 

The name Lucifer means light bearer and is not used in the New Testament, where the “bearer of light” is Christ. He was once one of the Seraphim (sometimes called the fiery, flying serpents).   

                        Dynamics Of Excellent Leadership

St. John 13:1-17

 

 

Dynamics means the study of the relationship between motion and the forces affecting motion. The physical, intellectual, or moral forces that produce motion, activity, and change in a given sphere. The psychological aspect or conduct of an interpersonal relationship.

 

Jesus displayed the greatest example of excellence in leadership. Jesus was the model servant and he showed this attitude to his disciples. Washing guests feet was a job for a household servant when guest arrived. But Jesus wrapped a towel around him, as the lowliest slave would do, and washed his disciples feet.

 

If God, in the flesh is willing to serve, we his followers must also be servants, willing to serve in any way that glorifies God. There is a special blessing for those who not only agree that humble service is Christ’s way, but who also do it (Jn 13:17).

 

Jesus washed his disciples feet, not only to get them to be nice to each other, but his far greater goal was to extend his mission on earth after He was gone. These men were to move into all the world serving God, serving each other, and serving all the people to whom they took the message of salvation.

 

We know from the other Gospels that John and his brother James were hot tempered and ambitious. Jesus nicknamed them “the Sons of Thunder”. If John, now the author or source of St. John, we can only wonder at the amazing change that his friendship with Jesus has made. He is now so humble that he does not even include his own name. The only thing that matters to him is that Jesus loves him!

 

Jesus followers are made clean by God’s salvation…symbolized in the washing of baptism. After the cleansing of baptism they need only the day to day ‘foot washing’ of forgiveness, after contact with the grime of the world. John makes this same point in his first letter. “If we confess our sins, he (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (I Jn 1:9). Are we doing our day to day ‘foot washing’? Are we seeking a fresh anointing of God Holy Spirit each day after contending with our day to day responsibilities?

 

Jesus has promised his disciples that they will do the same work as he has been doing (Jn 14:12). Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, explains how this promise comes true. The activities of the first Christians reflect the ministry of Jesus.

 Peter and Paul confronts the power of Satan. They win battles over deceit, disease and demon possession. The first Christians also take care of people in need, and organized themselves to share their possessions and protect the weak. Human need is more important than religious formality.