Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Growing in Jesus - lesson 5 "Playing with the devil’s bait"

Growing in Jesus                        - lesson 5

Playing with the devil’s bait

     “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” - Matthew 6:24

     This verse is again dealing with where our treasure is there will our heart be also. What our hearts are set on is what we serve.

     Every day it seems like there is always something trying to turn our attention back to some desire for the world. Some little thing grabs our attention and we step back into thinking that those things are more important than they are, again. What a battle it is to keep our hearts fixed on our Heavenly Father! Why does it seem to be so easy to step back and forth all the time. Going back to our old distractions (or some new one) is like taking a flower and carefully planting it in  fertile and well watered soil and then uprooting it suddenly and putting it in sandy and dry soil and then repeating the process over and over again. Then we  wonder why their seems to be no growth! This is how we are when we spend time letting go of our old lives and start spending time with the Lord and then get distracted and put the Lord to one side and focus back on the old things again. Then we wonder why we have no joy or growth in our Christian walk!

     Our adversary is continually trying to slip things into our lives to see if we will bite for his bait again. If we do it will be inevitable that we will also get the hook and line that goes with it. This line is impossible to get free from in ourselves. Just like the fish could have a full understanding about the fishing line to, but it has no physical way to free itself and quickly discovers again that it has no will in the matter as to where it goes from then on. It can’t stop itself from being pulled up. It’s will has no overriding authority on the hook and line. So we don’t want to be enticed by the bait anymore do we? Because at some point the hook will grab us again if we keep playing with the bait.

     This is why it is so important not to look back at our old lives and to be careful and watchful for any new ways that will come up to lure us in again. We don’t want to trade the good soil Jesus has just planted us in, for dry dusty sand. We will never grow in that environment but will wither up and die. 

     _ Write out a list of things you know are stealing your time. Things that come up every time you had planned to enjoy being with the Lord. These are the things that the devil is using to rob you of the water you need to survive. What can you do to not let these things get in the way anymore?
     _  Write out a verse or two that illustrates how your time with the Lord will change your life.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Growing in Jesus - lesson 4 "Our treasure in heaven"

Growing in Jesus                              Lesson 4

Our treasure in heaven

     “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroys, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” - Matthew 6:19-21

     What makes us complain? What makes us get upset or angry with God? What makes us get upset or angry with another person? Is it because our will has been crossed? Is it because something we have wanted has been delayed? Examine what makes you upset. Is it something that helps others or is it something that helps you? Do we spend a lot of time being upset about what happens to us? Do we spend much time being upset about what happens to others?

     Our treasure in heaven is made up of things that happen to others and our treasure on earth is made up of things that happen to us. As long as we are consumed with despair and anger about things that happen to us, we have our hearts fixed on treasure on earth. And as much time as we are in sorrow and concern for others our treasure is in heaven. So the more time our thoughts are consumed with others the more we are setting our treasures in heaven. For Jesus said that if we give even a cup of cold water in His name to the least of these, we are doing it to Him.

     The devil would have us to be continually consumed with going in circles in our own troubles and we could be caught up in that forever. But Jesus would have us consumed with concern for others. It always comes back to setting our hearts on serving others instead of ourselves. How can we help someone today? Who am I helping today? Who’s need is my most pressing concern today? Who needs me the most? These are the thoughts of those who’s treasure is in heaven.

     It always comes down to how much time we will step out of ourselves and what is bothering us and how much time we will give to the needs of others. If we let the devil fill our thoughts with what makes us upset then we will never have the time to step out and be a blessing to others. If our hearts are struggling with resentments or self pity, we are in no good spirit to brighten someone else’s day. We can only brighten someone’s day if we have given all of our own struggles to Jesus and allowed Him to be our peace and confidence. Then we will be a blessing to others and it will be the fact that we have difficulties in our lives and yet are full of joy that will draw people to want Jesus in their lives to! They will see that He really does have the power to give us peace and joy in the midst of real problems.

     I’ve been contemplating how unforgiveness is at the heart of every despair and discouragement that we have. Jesus says in verses 14 and 15 of Matt. 6 that if we don’t forgive each other of our transgressions  our heavenly Father will not forgive ours. Did you realize that when you doubt God’s goodness toward you and His answers to prayer its because you have unforgiveness in your heart towards Him? It is unforgiveness that makes us not want to turn our hearts to joyful expectancy because we want to be upset with Him. Unforgiveness is at the root of every depression and despairing countenance because if we don’t hold onto any unforgiveness than we intentionally believe the best of people and of God and from that mind-set, joy springs up.  The minute we begin to believe good of God we can’t be anything but joyful from then on! 


_ Our treasure in heaven is made up of things that happen to others and our treasure on earth is made up of things that happen to us.  Find some verses that illustrate this point.

_ Give some ways that can help us be pulled out of our own problems so that our hearts can be fixed on the problems of others.

_ Encourage at least one person or talk to at least one person about Jesus that you don’t normally come in contact with.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Growing In Jesus - lesson 3 "Going the second mile"

Growing In Jesus                                                Lesson 3

     “And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two.” Matt. 5:41

     None of us like to be forced to do anything against our will, but if our will is involved we are quite happy to be doing whatever the task is. Just think about the last thing you wanted that was impossible to get and how somehow you managed to achieve it in spite of all the obstacles. Think of how many obstacles the Lord puts in our way of things that would get us into trouble and yet we are able to override them to... There are are quite a few verses in the Bible telling of the nature of man to keep pressing on in sin in spite of the discipline the Lord has sent to be a deterrent to it.

     I used to tell my employees when they would start complaining about a job I had given them, that if they would just change their words and say, “I love doing this” and then begin to put their heart into it, that suddenly the job would be fun and not a hardship. I remember having to use this on myself quite a few times to! One of my friends used to work for me and we had an understanding between us that when things were really stressful in the restaurant, we would check in with each other and give each other the thumbs up and say “it's going great” with that smile that says we will make it through yet again! That got me through a lot of stressful nights and added quite a bit of humor and encouragement at the same time.

     This verse is a good way to be instructed on this very principle. When we are being forced or taken advantage of, if we will commit ourselves to doing more than we have been made to do, our will, will suddenly be engaged and whatever it is we are being forced to do will no longer seem unbearable to us.

     Jesus is always wanting our hearts to be free of resentments. He is always wanting to make it clear to us that there are no resentments in His heart and there must be none in ours either. So in His way of showing us how to live, He explains that there is no such thing as considering yourself too good to be forced to do something against your will. We are to have the mindset of being a joyful servant in the midst of any unfairness that might come upon us. It’s amazing to think that Jesus has the very heart that He expects us to have. A heart of joyful unselfishness that is already committed to going the extra mile before it has even been required of it.

     So now instead of every new and challenging circumstance causing us to grumble and complain, we will already be prepared to go forward joyfully and with no bitterness or resentment to mar our countenance. Going the extra mile has the ability to affect how we live every day!


_ Give an example of something you have been praying about and that God has been giving you victory in.

_ Find another verse or two in the Bible that also illustrate having a joyful attitude when hard things have been required of us. Share your thoughts on how they apply to you.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Growing in Jesus - Lesson 2 "Turning away"

Growing In Jesus                                                Lesson 2

     “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” - Matt 5:42

                    What do we consider our own and what belongs to God? 

     First let us understand that if Jesus tells us this verse is how to live than this is the way He lives towards us. He is always ready to do things simply because we have asked Him. Many times what we ask is not even important but He answers because we went to Him about it. In these verses there are no stipulations made as to what qualifies for an answer. Jesus doesn't say give to him who asks because he is worthy of your answer or because he will make good use of what you give him. It's just give to him who asks. He doesn't say lend to him because he will bring your property back in one piece or he is always making the best use of what he borrows. Jesus just says don't turn away. It's a good thought for when you are feeling discouraged about your own requests to the Lord. It is good to know that He thinks like this to.

     Beginning to do things that others have asked is the thing that stirs our heart to their needs and pulls us out of our own world for a moment. It also challenges our selfish nature on what we consider our own. It challenges us on what we have said belongs to God and causes us to discover what really belongs to Him. It is only when we are asked to surrender things that we begin to understand how much those things matter to us. It might be our time, our things, or people, or it might be combination that includes all of them. 

     “Turning away” is a great definition to ignoring a need because it takes a person physically turning away from helping someone in order not to help them. It is a choice made in the moment. It is a choice made when we look the other way and don't stop to help. It is a choice that is a response to a direct request or plea. In other words, it’s not accidental and we must claim ownership of what happens if we did not do it.

          Here is the convicting part

     Someone or many people are hurting because we are disobeying the Lord. While we are seeking our own happiness and self fulfillment very often we are turning a deaf ear to what God would have for us to be doing or sacrificing for Him. As a result of this there are people suffering who did not have to be. Because we have refused to leave the comfort of our own things and our own plans, we have made ourselves unavailable to go and help those the Lord had intended for us to help. How many people right now could point to you and say why have I suffered for no reason because you didn’t come when God called? Why have I suffered needlessly for years because you refused to leave your TV and pursuits and would not heed the call your Heavenly Father had made to you in order to rescue me? 
     These are sobering words and ones that the Lord has been bringing to my attention. There are so many people in distress who could turn and complain to the Lord that their rescuer never came. They could cry to the Lord and ask why I refused to heed His will, and had not come. In their their distress they could cry to the Lord and say how they could have been free from their misery so much sooner if I had obeyed. How many people have that claim upon me right now before God because I am in Christ. I have a very responsible position as an older brother. The minute we get saved we become an older brother or sister to someone.

     So what are we doing that actually changes someone’s life? What are we doing that pulls them out of their horrible circumstances, their griefs and their despairs?

     I’ve been thinking that if people come here and immediately feel a deep compassion and need to be helping someone, so much so that when they leave here they are anxious to go and find the first person they meet in order to help them, than we have done our job as a Bible School.

          So the question is, who and I helping today?


_ Pray for opportunities to help at least one person today that you don’t normally come in contact  with.

_ Share what God opened up and gave you as an opportunity.