November 27, 2011 The Power of Two

The Power of Two

Have you noticed how ‘two’ is an important part of your life?  Two chocolate chip cookies are better than one.  You need at two teeth to chew a nut or piece of candy. Two cups of coffee are better than one, as you leave your favorite shop.  Round trips are better than one way.  You usually travel with a ‘companion’.  You swim or workout and, women, shop with a ‘buddy’.  ‘Two’ is important to your lifestyle.

God made ‘two’ important. He created male and female man, for mutual support and procreation (Genesis 1.27).  He said that a man should marry a woman to bring forth children (Genesis 2.24).  God said that at least two witnesses would be required to convict a guilty party (Deuteronomy 17.6).  King Solomon wrote a paragraph about the advantages of two (Ecclesiastes 4.9-12).   Mary and Joseph brought two turtledoves or young pigeons when Jesus was presented in the Temple (Leviticus 12.8, Luke 2.22-24).  Two thieves were even crucified with Jesus (Luke 23.32-33).

The Holy Spirit chose Barnabas and Saul for His special mission (Acts 13.2-3).  Apostle John wrote of two witnesses for God after the Rapture (Revelation 11.3-12).  Jesus sent the 70 out by twos to proclaim and illustrate His kingdom (Luke 10.1).  So, it was natural for Him to repeat the importance of two to His disciples before He left for Heaven. Matthew 18.19-20 is His teaching.  Look at 20 first.

Verse 20: ‘For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.’ (NKJV)

  • John 20.19-29 and Luke 24.13-32 illustrate this from Scripture.
  • What does Jesus mean by ‘gathered in My name’?  Does this restrict Him to church?
  • How did Apostle Paul state this in Colossians 3.17, 23?
  • He joins you in Sozo Class, at Panera Bread, or at City Café.  Does He join you at the ball game or grille?  How should this affect your actions and conversations?
  • Psalm 139 reflects King David’s understanding of this, especially verses 1-12.

Verse 19: ‘Again, assuredly, I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.’  (NKJV)

  • James 5.14-15, Acts 3.1-10, and Mark 16.20 are founded upon this promise of Jesus.
  • What are some ways this could transform your marriage and home?  What could spouses or child and parent agree upon?
  • What are some ways this could transform your office or classroom?  What could coworkers or teachers and/or students agree upon?
  • What are some ways this could transform your gym or court activity?  What could you and your workout partner agree upon?
  • Find someone in each setting to agree with to transform all environments!

Who’s your ‘two’?

Do you come together in Jesus’ name?

Do you agree about the things you ask of God?

It’s not just spiritual.

Remember what Jabez prayed about (1 Chronicles 4.10; who agreed with him before God?).

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

November 20, 2011 Protocol for End Times

Protocol for End Times

Suppose you were about to be deployed in the military and would only have voice and picture contact with your family and friends.  How would you prepare them for this physical separation and for carrying on your business while you are away?  This was Jesus’ subject during His discussion with His apostles after His last supper.  How should they live in close relationship with God and with Him?  How would they get important things done?  This lesson is intended to draw you to the protocol you need in the growing persecution of these ‘last days’.

Persecution in the end

In John 15.18-25, Jesus warned His apostles of persecution by people who would despise them because they reflected Him.  This is a repeat, at the end of His earthly ministry, of the warning He gave them three years earlier, in Matthew 10.22.  This warning is for you, too! 

Are you holding more tightly to Jesus than you are to the world? 

How do you know? 

Do your preferences confirm this?

Who do you look to for affirmation? 

Do people around you know enough about your faith to criticize you or welcome you?

On what positions do you compromise with those who disagree? 

On what Scriptures do you establish your positions? 

Who holds you accountable?  How?

Persecution will be coming to your street soon! 

Are you ready?

Protection to the end

You only need what you already have…Jesus!  Consider 1 John 5.4-5.

John 15.7-8 is Jesus’ assurance and His desired result in your life.

Jesus had commented on this earlier in John 8.31-32.  In both references, He discusses ‘abiding’.  What does this mean to you?  Abiding frees you from what restraints?  Consider 2 Timothy 1.7.

Philippians 2.9-11 reminds you of the most powerful weapon known to man and freely given to you to use.  How do these verses explain 1 John 3.7-8What picture comes to your mind?  How do Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John illustrate this?

Do the words of 1 John 2.14 describe you?  (Change the gender to fit you.)

Now, how do you see yourself relative to the increasing persecution?

Full of Joy!

Is this how you describe your walk with our Lord Jesus?  Why or why not?

What are you encouraged to do in John 16.23-24?  What result should you experience?

John continued to write from his own experience to encourage you, in 1 John 5.14-15.  God hears you and provides from His wealth!  Any limitation?  How can you meet the requirement?

Did Jesus say the same thing in John 14.13-14How can you apply Colossians 3.17 paraphrase of Jesus’ words in your daily activities?  What result should you see?  Does John 15.16 agree?

Psalmist David expresses a sure declaration in Psalm 124.8

Do you agree?

Praise God!!! 

Copyright © Maurice L. Painter, 2011.

November 13, 2011 Persistence Pays Off

Persistence Pays Off

In training His disciples who would carry the Christian banner after He returned to our Father, Jesus taught them the persistence that characterized His ministry and should characterize our lifestyles. Acts 10.38 is Apostle Peter’s summary statement about this; Matthew 4.23-24 gives further description.  Notice that ‘all’ were delivered of the demons that abused them; Peter even names satan as the instigator of the abuse.  Mark 9.14-29 tells the story of one instance…a difficult case, where Jesus overcame the demon, which stubbornly resisted the underdeveloped disciples, to let go of the child.  (The disciples developed under the Holy Spirit; see Acts 5.12-16.  This same Holy Spirit empowers our faith, too.)

Do you persist until you receive what is promised by God? The following is a study of Jesus’ encouragement to persist, from Luke 18.1-8.  He states this emphatically in verse 1; then, challenges His hearers with the question at the end of verse 8.  How would you answer?  What would evidence your answer?

Meet the characters in the parable.

  • The Judge who did not ‘reverence’ or ‘fear’ God or respect people (verse 2).  In the conversation between satan and the Lord Jesus, in Matthew 4.1-11, satan shows no reverence for or fear of the Lord.  Apostle Paul names the judge ‘the god of this age’ and describes his disrespect for people in 2 Corinthians 4.3-4.  The Judge did not want the result of 2 Corinthians 5.20-21.
  • The Adversary who continually troubled the widow (verse 3). Luke 13.10-16 and Mark 9.14-29 describe such adversaries.  What are the names of your adversaries?
  • The Widow who does not give up.  A similar person is described in Matthew 15.21-28.  Notice what Jesus says about her in verse 28Are you like her?

What the Judge said, and what Jesus meant.

  • Jesus made His point in Luke 18.6: ‘HEAR what the unjust judge said’ (my emphasis).  Don’t just read the verse; study the verse; ‘hear’ what Jesus wants you to hear!
  • What do you hear in the Judge’s words in verses 4b-5?
  • How do his words encourage your lifestyle after reading of Luke 10.17-19, James 4.7, 1 Peter 5.8-9, 1 John 5.4-5, and Ephesians 6.10-18?  Luke recorded Jesus’ words of authority.  James, Peter, and John wrote to people like you, who were being abused by satan and his ‘adversaries’.  Overcome, like John wrote in Revelation 12.11What is your testimony?
  • ‘Disciples, in the world, you will have to continually repulse satan’s abuse.  Be assured of God’s immediate help’ (my summary of the parable, including verses 7 and 8a).  Consider the assurance of Mark 16.20.

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”  Sir Winston Churchill, speech, 1941, Harrow School, England.

If Jesus walked with you today, would He ‘really find [your] faith’ to be like that of the widow…sufficient to overcome the trouble?  May it be so, indeed!

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

November 6, 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 9.19How 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 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)?
  • Jesus explained His lifestyle as ‘seeing, then doing’ (John 5.19) and ‘hearing, then speaking’ (John 12.49).  His Source was God.  What’s yours?
  • 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.  Now, apply this to what God says in Jeremiah 7.23.  Will He do the same for you?  With zeal!
  • 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? What does Ephesians 3.20-21 say about you?
  • 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?
  • So, practice Isaiah 30.21 and look for Isaiah 64.4!

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.