February 23, 2014 Called by God

Called by God

Christ-followers in Berea and Antioch illustrate growth in Christian maturity.  Berean believers began at the same point as those in Antioch, just like you.  How could believers in Antioch become as mature as those in Berea?  Who helped you grow in Christ’s knowledge and faith (Ephesians 4.13)?  Whom are you helping?  How?  Perhaps you can pick up some pointers from this study.

Believers in Antioch

Believers in Berea

Who calls the teachers to teach?

  • Jesus; see Ephesians 4.11.
  • The professions named have specific functions in instructing believers.  Jeremiah 1.5, 7-10 illustrate Jeremiah 29.11-13 and relate to this in that the Holy Spirit will give you the gifts you need to perform the function He has assigned to you (1 Corinthians 12.4-11).  Your part is to ask for clarity of your assignment and His wisdom to perform it.
  • Jesus’ plea in Matthew 9.35-38 reveals to you the need for leaders with varying passions and abilities, all given by the Holy Spirit.
  • Notice in verse 35 what Jesus was doing: teaching, preaching, and healing.
  • In verse 36, Jesus gives you the right perspective for the masses you view every day. They are like sheep being harassed by satan (1 Peter 5.8; Ephesians 4.14-16; Colossians 2.8-10).
  • [Perhaps, Jesus view of the many was like Moses’ view of the 600,000 men lined up daily for his wisdom before Jethro gave him a better way (Exodus 18.13-24).]
  • Jesus’ appeal was to His disciples (verse 35) for leaders to step forward for training and assignment (verse 38).  God identified 12 that Jesus called (Luke 6.12-16) to lead and teach the others (Acts 6.1-4).
  • Is Jesus calling you to step forward to a deeper maturity in His knowledge and faith and to lead other believers to a deeper maturity in Him?  Ask Him; He will tell you (James 1.5-8).  Depend upon Him (Luke 12.12, 21.15; John 14.26).
  • Proverbs 3.5-6.

Wherever He leads, you MUST follow!

Praise God!!!  Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2014.  www.sozoclass.com

 

February 16, 2014 Spreading the Good News

Spreading the Good News

Poet and writer, Samuel Johnson said, ‘Nothing focuses the mind like a hanging.’  [He was ‘arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history’ (Wikipedia).]  It was the stoning of Stephen that had this effect on Christ-followers in Jerusalem in the first century.  Many remembered Jesus’ teaching about discipleship, from Matthew 10.16-26, to expect such persecution.  His strategy: move to another town…and proclaim the Gospel there.  Paul did just that, recorded in Acts 13.13-14.27.  Later, he commented about this to Timothy; see 2 Timothy 3.10-12.  This was just what Jesus had warned him about; see Acts 26.16-18.  But, the prize was worth the struggle!  Paul was never alone, however, for Barnabas was with him, and they knew that the Apostles and church in Jerusalem prayed for and encouraged them (Ecclesiastes 4.12).

New Work in Antioch

  • Acts 11.19-26 tells of the planting of a new church of Christ-followers in Antioch.
  • The persecution of Stephen drove many believers from Jerusalem.  How did they wind up in Antioch?  Romans 8.14 and Isaiah 30.21 explain their choice; see Isaiah 55.5, too, as another evidence of Jehovah-rohi’s leadership.  Disciple Phillip provides another example; Acts 8.5-8.  Where does He lead you so people can know Him better?
  • Paul would later comment about God’s reason for such dispersion in 2 Corinthians 5.18-20.  See 2 Peter 3.9 and 1 Timothy 2.4, also.
  • Barnabas was sent by the Jerusalem church to investigate the good reports the leaders had heard about people being saved through the preaching of faith in Jesus Christ (John 14.6).
  • The reports were true and the need for discipling the new believers in the teachings and ways of Christ kept him there.  He, even, sought out Paul to help.  They stayed there one year.
  • God’s sending Jethro to Moses (Exodus 18.1-24) is another example of God providing His wisdom through His chosen messengers.  Would you go to a new church to help disciple new and seasoned believers?

Evaluating New Work in Ephesus

  • During his Second Missionary Journey (AD 53-56), Paul went to encourage the new believers in Ephesus, modern day Turkey.  See Acts 19.1-10.
  • He discovered that believers had not been taught all they needed and, so, he taught them about the Holy Spirit.
  • How did he know what they needed to hear?  Again, Romans 8.14 explains the role of the Holy Spirit in your life.  Paul wanted them to know all that he knew about Jesus; see Philippians 3.1-17, especially verse 17.
  • Paul continued teaching there for three months – ‘reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God’ – until Jews rose up in resistance.
  • He split with the synagogue, rather than compromise his teachings about Jesus, and began discipling the believers in another building, the ‘hall of Tyrannus’.  This continued for about three years (Acts 20.31).  Although he did not leave town, Paul left for another part of Ephesus.

Staying Focused When satan Roars

  • Should we expect satan to sit by quietly as Christians spread the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus, alone?  (1 Peter 5.8-9).
  • Paul seems to have thought so, by his recounting of Jewish resistance of Acts 13.1-14.20 in 2 Corinthians 12.1-10.  He and Barnabas had been sent out by the Holy Spirit but the legalists objected to their message of grace.  Paul, and Barnabas, finally understood Jesus’ message: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ [Remember that grace is God’s word of promise and His willingness to use His mighty power to bring it to your reality.]  Paul learned, as He confessed in verse 10.  His actions in Acts 14.20 prove this.  Keep persevering through pushback, asking God for help.
  • Paul, and Barnabas, had learned the reality of Jesus’ warning when He called Paul to be His evangelist; see Acts 26.16-18.
  • satan will attack when God’s word is taught.  Anticipate it!  Jesus described this in His Parable of the Sower; see Matthew 13.1-9, 18-23.  Notice that satan ‘snatches away’ the word sown in a person’s heart/mind (verse 19), or he dissuades through ‘persecution…because of the word’ (verse 21), or he displaces the word with ‘riches [that] choke the word…[to] unfruitful[ness]’ (verse 22).  How can you alert others to this?
  • One illustration of such satanic attack against Paul was in Ephesus and recorded in Acts 19.23-20.1.  [It can be assumed that Barnabas faced similar attacks, although these are not recorded in the Bible.]
  • What was Paul’s response to satan stirring up the merchants that worshipped a rock (Acts 19.35; Deuteronomy 4.28; Isaiah 44.9-20)?  Acts 20.1; he called together the believers, encouraged them, and followed the Holy Spirit’s leading from Ephesus into Macedonia/Greece (Acts 19.21-22).  Jesus’ protocol practiced by Paul (probably Barnabas, too).  But, before he left, he encouraged.
  • Encouragement is needed to sustain new believers (and mature ones, too).  This was Paul’s habit, as is illustrated in Acts 14.21-22.  Notice his message: expect resistance from satan. Later, in AD 56, Paul would write the assured encouragement of 2 Corinthians 2.14.  ‘Always’, even when we don’t see it!  The word of God is effectual; Isaiah 55.11!
  • When Paul was being led by the Holy Spirit to return to Jerusalem from his second missionary journey (AD 53-56), he sent for the elders of the Ephesian Christians to come to him in the seaport town of Miletus, 36 miles away.  There, Paul encouraged them again; see Acts 20.28-32.
  • Encouragement includes warnings about specific attacks from satan and to always compare these schemes against the Gospel truth.  See Colossians 2.8-10 as an example.
  • Note his ‘commendation’ in verse 32.  Consider, too, Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 3.15-17. Only the word of God is the grace to build you up and give you a Heavenly inheritance, contrasting the wrath of God on earth and separation from Him forever!
  • Remember Ephesians 6.10.18 and Jeremiah 1.9-10!
  • Be encouraged and encourage the faith of others in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord…wherever God the Holy Spirit sends you!

Praise God!!!  Copyright (c) by Maurice L. Painter, 2014.   www.sozoclass.com.

February 9, 2014 Bold Giving

Bold Giving

The Bible studies for the next few weeks will align with the emphasis of Brentwood Baptist on the Middle Tennessee Initiative. As much as is possible, these studies will be focused from the perspectives and teachings of the Apostle Paul gleaned from his many writings in the New Testament.

Acts 4.32-37 is an interesting story about what can happen when Christians walk with the Holy Spirit (Romans 8.14).  It presents the ‘social gospel’ in its proper light, but not as an example of socialism or communism (directed by state [man], not God).  The story is, also, an illustration of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (1.18-19), showing the connection of God’s assigned task, His reserved resources, and the power of God to produce the result He has in mind.

Barnabas is a primary player in this story.  You will learn about his connection to Paul and about his walk with the Holy Spirit.  Your takeaways should include your comparison to Barnabas.

Pentecost

  • Jesus had promised the Holy Spirit (John 14.26) and encouraged the apostles and disciples to remain in Jerusalem until He would arrive (Acts 1.8).
  • The Holy Spirit arrived with great fanfare, calling attention to Himself through the Apostles and disciples (Acts 2.1-13).
  • The Holy Spirit of God demonstrated the power of the name ‘Jesus’ by healing a paralytic, just like Jesus had on earth (Acts 3.1-16).  The Holy Spirit proclaimed healing as a continuing confirmation of Jesus’ presence, now in Spirit, to the religious leaders (Acts 4.8-12).
  • He overcame rabbinical resistance by a show of force (Acts 4.29-31).  God, again, showed Himself to be Lord (Exodus 6.3)!
  • The result of God showing up that first day was the salvation of 5,000 people (Acts 4.4), and more became believers in Jesus (John 14.6) in the next few days (Acts 2.41, 47).
  • It is not unreasonable to conjecture that these new believers in Jesus lost their jobs, families, and homes, since the Sanhedrin had persecuted Peter and John (Acts 4.1-22, 5.17-20) and would drive the disciples from Jerusalem (Acts 8.1).  satan does not like it when the Good News of Jesus takes hold in the hearts of people to disable his schemes!
  • Could such loss of jobs, families, etc. have already been happening to Jews who believed in Jesus during His days on earth?  Could this have been the context for Matthew 25.31-46?

‘There’s a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place.’

  • These lyrics message a reality of God’s love and care.  Remember that God fed the Hebrews manna from Heaven during their 40 years (Exodus 16.14-18; Joshua 5.12) and Jesus fed the 5,000 and 4,000 with a few fish and loaves of bread (Mark 6.30-44; Mark 8.1-9).  Paul wrote about this in Philippians 4.19.
  • The Holy Spirit led the new but disowned believers into a fellowship like unto the Heavenly banquet with Jesus (Revelation 19.6-9)!  Acts 2.42-47 illustrates the sweet Spirit that brought unity, discipleship, worship, and sharing from believers with provisions to believers without provisions.  Acts 4.32-33 captures the prevailing spirit of these meetings.

His!

  • Who owns anything anyway?  Only Him; Psalm 24.1!  If He owns everything anyway, why do you possess it?  Remember Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 8.11-18.
  • Acts 2.44-45 and 4.34-37 records the actions of believers who might have heard Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 and, certainly, heard the Holy Spirit bring them to mind (John 14.26).
  • Barnabas was among those who heard the Holy Spirit.  Being a Levite, he could not own property in Israel (Deuteronomy 18.1-5).  But, Barnabas (nickname meaning son of encouragement; real name Joseph) was a native of Cyprus, and the property he sold must have been in his native country, perhaps part of his inheritance which he may have sold to a relative (typical of the day).
  • Barnabas may have known Paul as a fellow rabbinical student of Gamaliel in Jerusalem. Paul had come from Tarsus, to which town Barnabas would later travel to enlist Paul’s help with the church in Antioch (Acts 11.25-26).  The Holy Spirit commissioned Barnabas and Paul for their first missionary journey in AD 45-49 (Acts 13.1-3).
  • Note in Acts 11.27-30 that Barnabas gathered an offering among believers in Antioch to take to believers in Judea who were suffering through a famine.  Paul, too, made a habit of collecting and sending monies for the persecuted saints in Jerusalem, as in 1 Corinthians 16.1-4.  
  • 2 Corinthians 8.1-15 is Paul’s commendation of churches in Macedonia who responded to the Holy Spirit’s charge to, perhaps, liquidate assets He had entrusted to them in order to meet the needs of believers in Judea.  Here, he also encouraged the Corinthians to do likewise.
  • Note in verse 15, Paul’s reference to Exodus 16.18, which is a like expression of everyone’s needs being met.  God gave enough manna for everyone.
  • Another example of God ‘crowdsourcing’ is Moses gathering materials for the tabernacle (Exodus 26.1-37; 35.4-9; 36.2-7).
  • The point is that God sets up ‘reserve accounts’ among believers which He may call upon for His purposes at a later date.  So, why has God given you the possessions you enjoy? Has He entrusted them to you for later use?  How will you know when He is calling for them?  The same way that Barnabas did: the Holy Spirit will prompt your participation in satisfying the need (Romans 8.14).  Remember, your largess is His anyway!
  • Don’t miss out, like the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10.17-22) did, in becoming a funnel into which God can deposit abundance and count on your faithfulness to disburse it when He calls.

God’s Apparent Protocol

  • Paul summarized a glimpse of how God works in Ephesians 1.18-19.  He showed a linear progression from His assigned task, to gathering His allocated resources, and to God’s part of connecting these together to accomplish what He wants through the task.
  • God tasked Moses with constructing a tabernacle according to the plan God had shone him on Mount Sinai.  God had instructed the Hebrews to ask the Egyptians for materials as they exited Egypt (Exodus 3.21-22, 12.35-36).  God called for their use in the desert.  He accomplished His task of providing a tabernacle where He met with Moses in the sight of the people.
  • God’s task for the apostles was to nurture the new Christ-followers, including providing for those who gave up everything to follow Jesus (Acts 6.1-2).
  • Barnabas and others realized that their assets were on deposit from God and were needed. They willingly gave up what was His anyway.
  • Unity in the body of Christ!  It still happens today!

Which role do you play?

  • If you have been tasked with an important assignment from God, trust that He has allocated the resources you need and will provide them.  Just ask Him.
  • If you have been assigned the holding of God’s resources until He needs them, trust that the Holy Spirit will ask you for them at the right time.  Proverbs 19.17 says that God will refill your funnel (Luke 6.38)!
  • Romans 8.14 is critical to whichever role you play!

Are you ‘Barnabas’?

Praise God!!!  Copyright by Maurice L. Painter, 2014.  www.sozoclass.com

February 2, 2014 Understanding the Fear of the Lord

Understanding the Fear of the Lord

In the last study, you learned that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge’ (Proverbs 1.7).  Because God wants you to understand ‘the fear of the Lord’ deeper, this study will consider uses of the phrase in the Old and New Testaments, including those by the Apostle Paul.  This is important because of the carelessness of Christians today, perhaps you too, in giving in to satan’s ‘enlightenment’ of philosophies as ‘fairness’ to other people (Hebrews 2.1, 10.31).  God is not willing to share the platform of your heart with philosophers (Isaiah 42.8, 45.22)!  You will be held accountable for this on the final test (Revelation 20.11-15, Ecclesiastes 12.13).

Uses in the Old Testament

  • “’The Fear of the Lord’ was used in the Old Testament as a designation of true piety.” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary)  ‘True’ piety is the opposite of ‘false’ piety; see Proverbs 14.12 and 2 Timothy 3.5.  False piety hates true piety, as Proverbs 8.13a states when paraphrased as ‘the fear of the Lord is the object hatred of evil.’  No accountability!
  • True piety is only the teachings and ways of God; Hosea 14.9 (Psalm 19.9-11).  Compare your ‘piety’ against God’s word to reveal any ‘leaven’ (Exodus 12.15; Galatians 5.7-9) to discard!  True piety is Isaiah 33.14-16 and Proverbs 3.7-8, 14.16, 16.6-7.
  • Notice the use of true piety by Jacob in Genesis 31.42 and 53.  He said that God and His ways were the ‘true piety’ of his father Isaac.
  •  Job lived before Abraham and expressed in Job 28.28 what Moses would later declare to the Hebrews escaping Egyptian bondage, in Deuteronomy 4.5-8.
  • The Fear of the Lord ‘is a fear conjoined with love and hope, and is therefore not a slavish dread, but rather filial reverence.’ (Easton’s Bible Dictionary)  ‘Filial reverence’ expresses a loving relationship between a child and parent; you and God.  It is filled with love and hope, experiences that hopefully described your relationship with your earthly parents.
  • It is respectful, not fearful; 1 John 4.18.  It looks forward to time together; Micah 4.1-2, Psalm 122.1!  It is hope-filled; Deuteronomy 32.7-9; Jeremiah 29.11! 2 Corinthians 5.1-10!
  • Thus, in the Old Testament, ‘the fear of the Lord’ was the absolute of truth, the epitome of respect and the height of allegiance.  Read how King David expressed this in Psalm 84.10.

Uses in the New Testament

  • ‘The fear of the Lord’ is used in the New Testament to nurture the respect for and allegiance to truth developed in the Old Testament.  Isaiah 66.2 states this foundation.  God’s regard is for you when you wait for Him, confess your transgression of His righteous words and ways, and are ecstatic in the worship of His personal word to you!  2 Chronicles 16.9a and Isaiah 26.3, 64.4 describe His resulting regard.
  • Spiritual relationships, especially, must be nurtured.  In Philippians 2.12-13, Paul implores his readers to nurture your understanding and skillful use of the reality that you have been given;i.e., the most power-filled name ever heard: Jesus!  This name is God’s ‘good pleasure’ through which He continues to show Himself strong for all whose allegiance is to Him!
  • Nurturing your ‘fear of the Lord’ becomes your preventive of carelessness, as Paul explained in Colossians 2.8-10.  Jesus is the only comparison you need for discarding the yeast of philosophies that minimize Him and God and maximize satan’s imaginations of men.
  • Paul encouraged the same in 2 Corinthians 7.1 and Hebrews 12.28-29.  Also, understand 1 John 3.3 and 1 Peter 2.11-12.

However, if, for whatever reason, you might choose to nurture respect and allegiance for what is not God (Isaiah 44.8) or to mix philosophies with Godly righteousness (Isaiah 42.8), you should heed Jesus’ words in Matthew 10.28.  ‘Fear of the Lord’ has consequences!

Praise God!!!  Copyright (c) by Maurice L. Painter, 2014.  www.sozoclass.com