November 28, 2010 Do Not Stop Trapping Evil!

Do Not Stop Trapping Evil!

This title could be applied to Paul’s encouragement in 2 Corinthians 10.4-6: ‘…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ….’  Interestingly, the Aramaic word for ‘prayer’ means ‘to set a trap’.  You can set traps for good, God ideas and for bad, satan ideas.  Trapping good, God ideas is illustrated by Peter and John’s actions in Acts 3.1-16 and Acts 4.29-31, which is the subject of the study titled, ‘Imagine the Possibilities’. 

Jesus’ Parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18.1-8 will encourage you to set traps for bad, satan ideas.

Understand the characters and context of the story.

  • The heroine is a woman of great faith because of what she said and to whom.  ‘Tenacious’ and ‘faith-filled’ would be words to describe her.  Further, she clearly understood what she wanted and would not settle for less.  She imagined freedom from oppression and pursued it with endurance!
  • The second character is none other than satan himself; note in verse 2 that he did not fear God or regard/respect man.  satan is described by God in Isaiah 14.12-15 and by Jesus in Luke 13.16, to confirm his statement about himself.
  • Apparently, the third character is one of satan’s demons which he has assigned the task of tormenting the widow; the ‘adversary’ in verse 3.
  • The greatest characteristic of the widow reveals the weakest characteristic of satan, in verse 5.  The scene is best illustrated in Judges 16.16-17.
  • Like Samson, satan reveals his vulnerability to being trapped – endurance!

And, that is Jesus’ point of the parable.

  • As He says in verse 1, ‘always…pray’ and never ‘lose heart’.  In other words, do not stop trapping satan; be persistent!  he will give in!  Actually, he must when you use the name ‘Jesus’ against him.  See Philippians 2.9-11.
  • Defend yourself, your minor children, and all who ask your help from satan’s torments of stealing, killing, and destroying (John 10.10a).
  • In verse 6 of the story, Jesus calls your attention to what satan said; to paraphrase: you will wear me down by standing firm in the faith you speak!  Remember Mark 11.22-24 and James 1.5-8.
  • Jesus’ other point in the story, in verses 7-8a, is that you do not have to continually ask God for what you need.  He does not need to be talked into giving it to you; no begging.  He just needs to see your faith; see Hebrews 11.6.  He, even, tolerates your little faith!  He will move ‘speedily’ to protect and provide for you!  The greater your faith, the faster He acts!

‘Nevertheless’, that is, however or in spite of that….

  • In spite of the facts (1) that satan can be overcome by persistent words spoken in faith and (2) that God answers quickly, especially when He sees faith (like that illustrated in Matthew 9.22), will Jesus find great, little, or no faith when He returns for you?
  • Will He find you pushing satan out of your life and away from your property, employment, and relationships?  See James 4.7.
  • Will He find you calling upon the only name by which you can be saved in this life and for eternity?  See Acts 4.12.
  • Your assignment is to trap and implement the good, God ideas He gives you and to trap and defeat the bad, satan ideas he uses to torment you.

Keep Praying/Setting Traps!!!                 Remember Luke 21.28!!!

November 21, 2010 Imagine the Possibilities

Imagine the Possibilities

In the teaching, Jesus and Imagination, we reviewed Jesus’ criticism of His Jewish followers for their ‘little’ faith and His applause of two Gentiles for their ‘great’ faith.  Imagination made the difference. 

Apostle Paul states this in Ephesians 3.20; consider Hebrews 11.6

and 2 Chronicles 16.9a, too. 

The Gentiles expected Jesus to heal and deliver their loved ones.  Imagine the possibilities of a lifestyle that expects Jesus to heal and deliver those God brings across your paths.  That is what Apostles Peter and John did.

Peter and John practiced Jesus’ ‘whatever’.

He would give them a great commandment and assure them of His presence; see Mark 16.15-20

HE would go with them and do the work!

  • So, shortly after Pentecost, Peter and John imagined great possibilities, as God crossed their path with a crippled man. 

Read the story in Acts 3.1-10.

  • ‘What I have I give you!’  Not money, as the man expected; but the most valuable currency ever known! 

Consider Philippians 2.9-11.

  • Peter and John’s imagination of God’s abilities and willingness prompted their action in Acts 3.7
  • The crippled was no longer! 

Verse 8 describes ‘exceedingly abundantly above’ what P and J had probably imagined; their ‘whatever’.  Just think about the ‘big’ God Who could instantly develop joints, bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that had never walked (verse 2) to, now, walk and leap – running around and showing off like he had never done before!

  • Isn’t that what you want when you see a crippled child or someone in the hospital? 

Can you imagine, not just leaving their chair or bed behind, but running, leaping, and praising God? 

Imagine the possibilities!

  • When and how did Jesus do the work of healing (Mark 16.20)? 

When Peter became the conduit through whom Jesus reached out to grasp the man’s hand (verse 7). 

When Jesus tells you to reach out your hand to grasp someone in need, it is because He wants to heal and deliver them from satan’s clutches.  Just do it!

Others cannot imagine the possibilities and must be taught.  So, teach them.

  • There is nothing better than the teachable moment, when the world around you is stopped by the curiosity before you.
  • What just happened? 

How did you do that? 

These questions from the crowd were answered by Peter in Acts 3.16, referring to Jesus. 

The formerly crippled man had Hebrews 11.6 faith. 

Peter and John had Ephesians 3.20 and John 16.24 faith!

  • The 70-member ruling Sanhedrin was more critical than curious, wanting to silence the name Jesus.  But, in Acts 4.8-12 the Holy Spirit spoke through Peter (Matthew 10.19-20) and explained SOZO to them; i.e., the complete salvation that is only available through the name Jesus; verse 12!
  • Repetition of information learned is a principle of education.  So, Peter, John, and the other disciples prayed for more opportunities to proclaim the name Jesus and to allow Him to demonstrate His great power through them

(Acts 4.29-31). 

How does verse 30 define their word ‘boldness’ in verse 29?  Whose hand are you really stretching out when you heal and do signs?

Peter and John imagined the possibilities of great faith.  What about you?

November 14, 2010 Jesus and Imagination

Jesus and Imagination

‘Imagine the possibilities’ is the tag line of a commercial for a local furniture retailer.  Its impact is broader than designing a room.  It is a great visional statement.  Mark Batterson connects imagination to faith, using Ephesians 3.20.  In Primal, a Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, he writes on page 112, ‘Lack of faith is not a failure of logic.  It’s a failure of imagination.  Lack of faith is the inability or unwillingness to entertain thoughts of a God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine.’  Could imagination really be the difference between ‘great’ and ‘little’ faith, as Jesus used the terms?  Could imagination be the distinguishing answer I have long sought?

When Jesus criticized ‘little faith’:

  • In Mark 9.19, Jesus’ frustration with the disciples’ growing faith from His examples is expressed in His words: ‘How long shall I put up with you?’  Wow! His expectation was that their faith would have grown by this event to expel the demon trying to kill the father’s son.
  • In Mark 6.37, Jesus encouraged the disciples’ faith to do the work it was designed for; in this case, to feed hungry people when there was no caterer to show up.  Is the purpose of faith is to produce a result?  See James 2.18.
  • In Mark 4.40, after Jesus rebuked the wind and calmed the sea, He asked the disciples, ‘Have you still no faith?’  ‘Still?’  They should have done that work, too?
  • In Matthew 14.31, Jesus rescued Peter when he stopped walking on water and started to sink because he looked at the wind-blown waves.  He said, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’  Was Peter climbing waves?
  • In Mark 6.6, Jesus was amazed that only a few sick folk were healed in His hometown because the rest had no faith.  What did they expect?
  • Thus, we conclude that people with ‘little faith’ do not see the possibilities and are unable or unwilling to believe that God CAN do more than they can think.  ‘Little faith’ has no imagination!
  • Can you do the things Jesus criticized other for not doing?  Little faith?

When Jesus applauded ‘great faith’:

  • A Gentile woman from Syria heard that Jesus was nearby and went to implore Him to cast out the demon from her daughter which was trying to destroy her.  When He protested that His mission was to generate the Jewish ‘nation of priests’ (Exodus 19.6), she reasoned aloud their servants’ need for the benefits they are unable to give.  She had come for the ‘crumbs’!
  • Jesus’ words in Mark 7.29 grant her request with this emphasis: ‘for this saying…, the demon has gone….’  Her ‘saying’ expressed her imagination of the results of the sequence: Jesus to the ‘nation of priests’ to people everywhere!  She simply skipped a link in the supply chain.  No obstacle too great; go around or through it; go to the Source!
  • Another Gentile, a Roman officer, was that only other person to whom Jesus bestowed the ‘great faith’ award; see Matthew 8.10.  Being experienced in giving commands and expecting them to be carried out, he imagined Jesus’ words as soldiers carrying healing to his servant; words doing their work, like Jesus stated in John 6.63, spirits doing work!
  • Missionary William Carey said, ‘Expect great things from God….’  He could have referenced Hebrews 11.6 and Ephesians 3.20.
  • Do you expect great things from God?  How can your faith be ‘great’?

Getting from ‘little’ to ‘great’ faith:

  • Apostle Paul’s instruction for praying in Philippians 4.6-7 infers great imagination: see the end desired from the beginning and continue thanking God until the end is seen.
  • Jesus encouraged great imagination in John 16.23-24.  ‘Whatever’ is the end desired.  What’s your ‘whatever’?  What do you imagine?
  • God helps us to understand ‘whatever’ in the strong language of Isaiah 45.11: it is what God has promised about the particular situations of your life.
  • Since God is capable of doing more than we ask, should we not imagine more than we ask?  When will your imagined result equal God’s promised resources?  Listen closely to God’s words to Jeremiah 32.27.  Now, answer the question again.  More!

Assignment: analyze the characters and events in Acts 3.1-4.31, looking for ‘little’ and ‘great’ faith.  We will discuss this application next time.  And, what is the warning of Jeremiah 13.10?

Praise God!!!  Remember to look for Jesus; Luke 21.28.