October 30, 2011 Faith in the Kingdom

Faith in the Kingdom

If ‘the kingdom of God is within you’, as Jesus said in Luke 17.21, how much faith does it take to get it out of you?  That is, when does faith in God’s promise become reality you can see?  This challenge for you was also a challenge for Jesus’ disciples.  He scolds them for their lack of faith in Mark 9.19.  How long does it take to develop faith that can be seen?  How should faith be taught and learned?  Remember that the measure of your faith and knowledge is Jesus’ faith and knowledge; Ephesians 4.11-13.  This is the purpose of this and each of my Bible studies.

You hold the key.

  • This is literally true when you hold the Bible in hand.  Consider Apostle Paul’s statement in Romans 10.17.  Read it slowly: faith comes…from hearing…God’s word.  Find a promise that is not part of your ‘treasure’ (Matthew 13.52) and ask God to explain it to you through the history and prophets of the Old Testament and the dynamic experience of Jesus and the New Testament writers.  ‘Hear’ it again and again.  Later, follow the instructions of the Holy Spirit for implementing it in your life.  Give it time and ‘expectant’ listening!
  • Paul illustrates this in 2 Corinthians 12.1-10, which is his recounting of Jewish resistance encountered in his first missionary journey, recorded in Acts 13.1-14.28.  He reminded Timothy of the resistance in 2 Timothy 3.10-11Paul learned faith each of the three times Jesus answered his prayers for deliverance from the Jews; ‘My promise is all you need’ (my paraphrase).  His confidence became great to overcome ‘infirmities, reproaches, persecutions, distresses’ (2 Corinthians 12.10).  Apostle John would later summarize this in Revelation 12.11a.
  • Jesus repeated His protocol twice when feeding the 5,000 (Mark6.30-44) and 4,000 (Mark 8.1-10).  Yet, the disciples were dull for learning this, as Jesus remarks in Matthew 16.8-11.  What should they have learned?  What did Jesus pray about the bread and fish (Mark 6.41)?
  • How does Isaiah 45.22 summarize what you have learned so far?  Does this conform to Hebrews 11.6?
  • For emphasis, consider what God said to Ezekiel (20.14) about the importance of His name.  Now, consider what King David came to understand about the relationship of God’s name and His promises, in Psalm 138.2What is your conclusion?
  • God is zealous!  Consider Isaiah 37.32b.
  • You hold the key!  What will you do with it?

Jesus’ exercise for applying faith.

  • Jesus made His disciples curious about faith by drying up a fig tree (Mark 11.12-14).  He used that occasion to teach them how to exercise faith, in Mark 11.20-26.
  • ‘Say what you mean, and mean what you say.’ This paraphrase includes the two requirements for releasing faith: speaking what you want and believing wholeheartedly that it is yours (verse 24).  Is there any limitation to Jesus declaration?
  • Why not allow a little bit of uncertainty about the results?  James 1.5-8 answers this question about doubt.  Pray without doubt, like Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2.8.  When should you pray ‘if it be Your will, God’?
  • What is the implication, regarding exercising faith, of Jesus’ caution in Mark 11.25-26Pray without wrath, like Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2.8.

Live by faith!

  • How does Proverbs 4.18 illustrate how faith increases?  Why does light increase in intensity? How does turning toward God increase the intensity of faith?  Consider, also, Isaiah 60.19-20.
  • How do Psalm 32.8 and John 14.26 assure the right result of your faith?
  • In Romans 1.16-17, Paul stated the importance of the truth of the Bible and the acceptance of Christ Jesus in the life of believers.  What does his quotation of God’s words to Habakkuk (2.4) mean to you?

God intended for you to look to and have faith in His salvation…in everyday circumstances.  Remember Revelation 12.11a!

Praise God!!! Copyright © Maurice Painter, 2011.

October 23, 2011 Traditions Diminish Truth

Traditions Diminish Truth

Did God change His intent for Israel to become a ‘kingdom of priests’ (Exodus 19.3-6)?

Did Jesus’ apostles and disciples fulfill God’s intent (1 Peter 2.4-10)?

A foreign woman understood God’s intent, and Jesus said this evidenced great faith within her.  See Matthew 15.21-28.

Why did the Pharisees choose not to become a kingdom of priests?

John 5.44 provides a simple answer.

Consider how Luke 16.1-9, 14-15 and Mark 8.31-33 explain this.

Do you agree with Apostle Paul’s statement in Galatians 1.10?

Their desire for wealth and acclaim led the Pharisees astray, resulting in Jesus’ assertion of forsaken loyalty in Matthew 15.3-6 and of inconsistency in Luke 14.1-6.

Is this a problem for Christians today? For you?

How does the Pharisees (and your) behavior illustrate Isaiah 5.20-21, 8.20 and Jeremiah 13.10?

So, they became the contrast for Jesus’ training His disciples.

Jesus lists the offenses of the scribes and Pharisees in Luke 11.37-54.

How do His words in Matthew 15.3-6 explain the ‘key’ in Luke 11.52?

What does this mean for you today?

How can you be guilty, as they were, of the transgression of Psalm 78.35-37 and Isaiah 29.13 today?

Do Jesus’ words in Luke 12.5 bother you?  How should they change your behavior?

  • In the light of all of the foregoing about the Pharisees, what did Jesus mean by His metaphor in Matthew 16.5-12? See Luke 12.1, too.

How does this teaching explain Jesus’ answer in Luke 13.22-30?

Did Jesus’ disciples get the point?

  • The Acts of the Apostles records their faithfulness to Jesus’ teachings.
  • Has the church remained faithful, too?
  • When do traditions become substitutes for commandments?
  • What should you do with those that have?

Praise God!!!

Copyright © by Maurice Painter, 2011.

October 16, 2011 Sales Training–Envision the product in use

Sales Training – Envision the product in use

Every good salesman knows that the customer must visualize using the product being offered.  So, salesmen use lots of word pictures.  Sales managers train their charges to create descriptions appealing to as many human senses and situations as possible.

Jesus was an expert manager of salesmen (disciples).  He had sent them to preach ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matthew 10.7).  They were to prove this by actions listed in verse 8.  But, what if there were questions about the ‘kingdom of heaven’?  How should they answer?

Why Jesus said to preach the ‘kingdom of heaven’.

  • Before Jesus’ generational grandmothers, even, were conceived, His ‘kingdom’ had been established by God and described in Isaiah 9.6-7.  It was later discussed with Daniel (2.44) and with His mother, Mary, in Luke 1.33.
  • Notice in Isaiah 9.6-7 that ‘the government will be upon His shoulder’…’to order [His kingdom] and establish it with judgment and justice…forever….’  The Guarantor of this would be God Himself, as seen at the end of verse 7: ‘The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.’  Understand God’s zeal through Isaiah 37.32 and 46.11.
  • So, Jesus preached about and was training His disciples to preach about His kingdom on Earth.
  • This last statement is supported by Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 6.9-13.  He declares that His kingdom be just like His Father’s in Heaven, gives illustrations, and reaffirms God’s kingdom in His earthly kingdom.

How should the disciples describe the kingdom so people identify with it?

  • Notice in the following that Jesus describes the ‘kingdom of heaven’, on earth.
  • Matthew 13.24-30 is the core passage that the other verses explain, especially verses 37-43 and 47-50.
  • Life today is part of this time period and looks toward the ‘harvests’ of bad seed and good seed.  Verse 38 explains that Christians are the good seed and are sown by God.
  • All philosophers diminishing this truth are the bad seed and are sown by satan.  Notice, in verse 25, that slumbering Christians have permitted satan to sow deceptions (1 John 2.15-17).  Is this because of tolerance?  Consider Apostle Paul’s solution in Colossians 2.8-10.  And, note his confrontation technique in Acts 17.16-33.  Lastly, note what will happen to the products from the bad seed; Matthew 13.30, 41-42, and 48-50.
  • Jesus’ Parable of the Sower differentiates, even further, among the ‘good seed’.  Notice the degrees of commitment to God, or conversely vulnerability to satan, that He describes in Matthew 13.1-9 and explains in verses 18-23Which seed are you?  How do you know?
  • Psalm 102.18-22 and Isaiah 58.6-14 and 61.1-3 give some criteria for differentiating seed types.  Contrasts these with shallowness of knowledge of God’s word/righteousness, fear of persecution for being known as a Jesus-follower, and ‘cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches’ in the parable.
  • The leavening process described in Matthew 13.33 and Luke 13.20-21 may explain this as not being fully saturated; the difference between bapto and baptizo baptism.  Jesus’ point: in His kingdom, followers are fully saturated, not just washed off.
  • The story of the mustard seed in Matthew 13.31-32 describes the kingdom as a place of growth in knowledge of God’s right ways (Hosea 14.9; Proverbs 4.18).  We grow from simple faith that Jesus substituted His blood for our payment for sin against God to the faith that speaks the promises of God and believes they will result, like the centurion in Matthew 8.5-10.  ‘Birds’ can nest in our branches!
  • This growth of faith Jesus likened to finding hidden treasure in a field (Matthew 13.44), maybe a gem of great worth (verses 45-46).  Note that the finders wanted this new treasure so badly that they gave their all to have it!  Just the same, we know that Jesus’ kingdom (the kingdom of heaven) is all that we could ever want or need and is greater than all that we could ever give up for it!
  • So, we become like householders who relish newly-understood promises as much as the promises that we have enjoyed for years (Matthew 13.51-52).  That is, we continually find new benefits from the study of God’s Word and add them to those we have enjoyed for a long time.

See Luke 17.20-21.

How would you describe the kingdom of heaven to someone?  Become a good sales manager!

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice Painter, 2011.

October 9, 2011 Astonishing People

Astonishing People

How does Jesus’ declaration in John 4.48 explain God’s declaration in Exodus 34.10?  Was Jesus speaking a truism for people of all time, including today?  How does this explain why Christians are so shallow, confirming Hosea 4.6a?

You like the occasional fireworks display because it differs from your humdrum life.  If too frequent, it becomes part of the humdrum.  But, what about healing people from diseases and sicknesses that abuse them, or having food, toys, or monies enough to satisfy beyond available means?  Can there be too much of this?  Not in Jesus’ day and in the early Christian church, even today in some parts of the Earth.

Follow along and see the reaction of people who witnessed what they had not seen and heard before but should begin to practice for themselves.

Jesus wows the crowds!

  • Jesus was visiting the cities and towns of Galilee, preaching ‘the kingdom of Heaven’ (Matthew 10.7) and casting out demons (Mark 1.39).  You can read of one such event in Mark 1.21-27.
  • Verse 27 describes an ‘amazed’ crowd.  Why was what they witnessed amazing?  What change did it indicate?  What does Jesus say about a similar event in Luke 10.17-20?  What does He say about this change in Mark 16.15-20?
  • Jesus amazed another crowd by healing a paralytic in Mark 2.1-12.  [This is expanded in the lesson titled Connection of Sin to Sickness and taught on August 13, 2011.]  What did they hear and see that amazed them (verse 12)?  What did they say about this?  How do their words expand in Matthew 9.8?  How do their words in Luke 5.26 denote a ‘new beginning’?  Who did the people credit, as we should each time He evidences Himself?
  • Soon after this healing (Luke 5.24), Jesus told the crowd a parable about new wine and old wineskins, in Luke 5.37-39.  How are the crowd new wineskins?  Was their transformation the purpose of John the Baptist?  Is the ‘old wine’ the original truth from God minus the ‘new’ philosophies that satan added over time through men?  How is Apostle Paul’s encouragement in Colossians 2.8-10 the same thing?
  • With this in mind, was Jesus teaching the people really a ‘new doctrine’ (Mark 1.27) or simply revealing God’s original intent (the ‘old wine’ illustrated by Elijah in 1 Kings 17.8-24 {note the amazement of the woman in verse 24} and Elisha in 2 Kings 4.1-6.23 {various miracles})?
  • So, by adding Jesus’ words in John 17.18, should you conclude that this change – this authority to quiet demons and cast them out – was what God wanted for people to practice henceforth, including yourself?  Consider the illustrations below?

Peter, James, Paul, and Philip wow the crowds!

  • Acts 8.1-8 presents the dispersal of the disciples away from Jerusalem.  Note what Deacon Philip said and did in Samaria.  How did the people express their amazement in verse 8?  Why do you think the Apostles were not driven from Jerusalem (verse one)?
  • Acts 3.1-26 tells the story of the healing of a paralyzed beggar at the Temple entrance in Jerusalem.  Note what Peter and John say and do in verses 6-8 and the reaction of the crowd in verses 10, 12, and 16.
  • Acts 14.8-11 records Paul’s visit in pagan Lystra and the healing of another crippled man.  Note the misguided search of the people for the true God in verse 11.  They recognized supernatural power available to Paul but did not know the Source.
  • Paul summarizes, in 1 Corinthians 2.4-5, the proper view of these illustrations and of whatever event shows God’s presence today.

So, is Jesus’ declaration in John 4.48 true today?  What is your part in retraining the crowds, like Jesus did?

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice Painter, 2011.