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The importance of powerNow let’s talk about God’s power. You can do everything else right, but if God’s power isn’t there then nothing happens. You can talk about it, believe in it and pray for it, but if the power is not there, nothing happens. It’s not something we can control; it’s something we can only seek and wait for until it comes. What is it? Or rather we should ask, Who is it? It’s the active, tangible presence of the Holy Spirit which at times can become so strong that we can actually feel something or observe Him at work. Human efforts to serve God by themselves can be well-intended but very limited in what they accomplish. But when God’s power shows up, those results change dramatically.
Preparing for the SpiritThere beside Jacob’s well Jesus taught us that we must partner with the Holy Spirit if we want to see miraculous harvest. So what must we do if we don’t want to rely on our own human efforts? How do we position ourselves so God’s Spirit can perform His wonders among us? There is many more insights that could be added to this list, but here are a few that are essential. As a disciple of Jesus Christ each of us must:
Great expectationsThis passage is full of great expectations. Jesus was preparing His disciples for supernatural levels of fruitfulness. If they followed His example they too would share in His promise that the power of God would bring people to faith in strange, difficult places, in brief periods of time and in unreasonably large numbers. And Jesus would say the same things to us today. As His disciples, if we will follow His example, the power of God can still reach people today. If we will listen to Him carefully and let His words sink into our hearts, never again will we be able to look at a situation and feel defeated. Instead, we’ll watch for His leadership, wait for His power and expect a great harvest.
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth.”Discussion Questions
2 Kings 18:1-8; 2 Chronicles 29What do you do when the condition of your island home is troubling? Bringing it home personally: what do you do when the condition of your own life, your familia is troubling? What do you do when you see such a great spiritual decline and moral sickness all around? What do you do when things are not what they should be as God had intended? As believers, we should have a sense of disappointment and frustration by all the evil things happening in our island and even in our homes. We should be, but it should also bring us to a decision for action in our own hearts that can bring change. During Hezekiah’s time as king of Judah there was great spiritual, moral and national decline. Everything was going down hill. There was nothing but despair, trouble, problems. Hardly anything good was happening. There was nothing much that was good for Hezekiah to rule over. He was this young king facing all of these problems of the people, of his home land. So what does he do? What do we as believer’s do when we are faced with similar condition in our lives? What should our response be?
1. Make a decision to do what is right in the sight of God (v.3)When you feel that nothing seems to be happening, no sign of revival, no sign of life and it seems as if God is not breaking through. No matter what anyone else does, we need to do what is right in the sight of the Lord. We are to live godly appropriate lives (1 Peter 1-5). If you and I live in such a way all the day long, it will change our lives. Live as God would have you to live. Living a life of victory and blessings begin by living right before the Lord.
2. Remove all idolatry that God points out (v. 4).Hezekiah decided to sanctify the temple, the house of God and committed to sanctifying themselves as well (2 Chronicles 29). When circumstances are troubling or we find ourselves in trouble we sometimes would say, “let’s just start over” or “ let’s forget the whole thing.” But, we cannot start over, we cannot move forward until we first of all deal with sin. Unless sin is dealt with, unless idolatry is dealt with, people cannot move forward or even start over. Idolatry must be dealt with. We can’t say it is not important. It is. Remove anything the Lord would have you remove.
3. Never settle for anything less than God’s best (v. 4).Hezekiah identified that something needed to change and he recognized that the condition of the land, the condition of the people shouldn’t be the way it was. Today, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us recognize when things are not good and not right. We need the Holy Spirit to help us identify what needs to change in our lives, in our island home. And yes, God does help us and shows us the things that needs to change but far too often we don’t see it nor understand it or we just don’t want to accept it. The reason is we get too acclimated and very accustomed to our surroundings or situations that we live in and therefore, assume everything is fine, but in reality it is not. So we end up settling for less than God had intended and accept anything this world offers. We don’t change.
4. Trust God completely (v. 5).Putting all of your hope and confidence in Jesus. Trust God completely for the blessings. Trust God completely for change.
5. Hold fast to the Lord (v. 6).It is persevering with Him. We contend for a lot of things in this life, but we need to contend on holding on to the Lord and abiding to His ways.
John 20:1-31; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are both required for the salvation of humankind. If Jesus had remained in the grave, His death would have only been the death of a martyr. Without the sacrifice of His death, His resurrection would have presented no saving power. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrated that He was indeed the Son of God. Paul wrote, “…and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead…” (Romans 1:4). Jesus resurrection proved that His death was sufficient to cover all the sins of humanity. In the resurrection, God demonstrated that Jesus Christ was and is the perfect Son of God “who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation stone on which the church is built. The Apostle Paul described it this way, “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Resurrection assurance1. Because Jesus lived, died and rose again in resurrection life and lives today, we as believers are now assured of necessary power for life, for serving God and to transform our lives. The Apostle Paul wanted to know the resurrection power of Jesus for his own life. “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10). He also prayed that the believers at Ephesus might know God’s amazing power (Ephesians 1:18-20). This power that is made available to those who love Him and received Him as Lord was the power that defeated death and is sufficient for every day life and every emergency.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19Is there anything that you’re going through or facing in your life today that you’re so clear that God’s presence and help is with you and assisting you? And yet at the same time still have this sense that things are not coming to the completion of the desired goal that you would have hoped would come as fast as you would like them to come about? And because of this do you become weary and sometimes doubt comes, and even tempted to say “I was wrong to believe it could ever come to be?” These types of situations happens to all of us. I know it does with me.
A posture that is productivePsalm 118:25-26 “O Lord, save us; O Lord, grant us success. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you.” John 12:13 “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!”
1. They lifted their voice in praise. John 12:13 “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” The people at that time praised Jesus beyond the present facts.
2. They trusted God before the promise is realized.
Nehemiah 4:1-23When the city of Jerusalem have been destroyed, the people returned from their Babylonian captivity and rebuilt the temple (Ezra 1-6). The temple was the place where the worship of the Lord was reinstated. It was the first stage of the rebuilding. Now, the walls that protected the city and temple have been broken down as well and the gates have been burnt by fire and it too will be rebuilt. The rebuilding of it has been the focus of Nehemiah. As the rebuilding of the walls and gates began, opposition from the enemy began as well. The first thing that their enemy did was to mock and ridicule them in order to discourage and have them give up on their commitment on the work that God is doing (Nehemiah 4:2-3).
1. Prayer to our God. (v. 4, 9)
2. Be on constant guard against the enemy. (v. 11)
3. Encourage and help one another. (v. 14; 19-20)
Matthew 6:19-21Consciously or unconsciously, each of us chooses our own priorities. They are the goals we put at the top of the list. They reflect what we value the most and what we believe is worth living for. These are the things we hope will fulfill our deepest desires. Jesus called them our “treasures,” and challenged us to question them. Listen, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for your selves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mathew 6:19-21 ESV).
Four choices…Below are four choices every one of us must make. They are unavoidable. Each choice is revealed by the way we answer a simple question. And as we review these choices, it soon becomes obvious that Jesus answered them one way, and Judas, the crowd, and even some of the disciples before the resurrection, answered them another way. The question before us today is: How do you and I answer them?
Choice #1:Here or heaven? Which is more important? Does this world seem more real than the next? Some people have spiritual eyes that can see the future. They really believe in life after death, so they use the opportunities and resources they have here to prepare for that future. They understand that their biological life, and even the planet itself in its present condition, will pass away, but the next level of existence last forever. Abraham and Sarah were such people, which is why, though wealthy, they lived like “strangers and exiles on the earth” (Hebrew 11:13 AMP). “All these died in faith (guided and sustained by it), without receiving the (tangible fulfillment of God’s) promises, only having seen (anticipated) them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”
Choice #2:Help or forgiveness? Which do you or I need more? Do we think of ourselves as a good person who may have made a few mistakes, or as a selfish or rebellious or independent person who’s done some really bad things? When Jesus tried to tell people He came to die for their sin, most stopped listening (Jn 6:60-71). He said
Choice #3:Things or people? Which am I spending my life pursuing? Which do I value the most? It takes energy and time to acquire things, just as it takes energy and time to reach people for God. Everyone has to work to provide the basic necessities of life, but after that our priorities determine how we invest what’s left over. Depending on our choice we’ll end up with more things or people.
Choice #4:God’s hand or face? Do we want God to do things for us, or do we want God? Do we use Him or love Him? Is our deepest longing to someday be with Him and see Him face to face? Because if it’s not, sooner or later we too will become disappointed with God. A few “unanswered” prayers or unexpected crises can turn us bitter as well.
ResponseIt’s a matter of priorities. It isn’t that God doesn’t want to bless us here in this life, or work miracles to help us, or generously provide physical resources. He does. But those are not His highest priorities, and they can’t be ours either. The example of Judas is a warning to us that until Jesus’ priorities become ours, we’re walking on a path that will leave us disappointed, and may make us bitter. But when we surrender to the heart of God, and value the things He values, and see this world from His perspective, our disappointments will cease and our hearts is filled with thankfulness.
Commitment to the Lord.I’m sure that God loves stories of people who decides to love Him and live for Him, committed to Him and reaffirm in their minds and hearts of their commitment. We know God is committed to us. He will do what He says He will do. He will always show up and show up just at the right time to fulfill the need that we have. But, how about our commitment to Him? Each one of us is responsible to respond to God by committing our heart, mind, body and life to serve Him, to share the Gospel and to be His witness in this world. Many of us have made a commitment to follow the Lord regardless of the cost. Like everyone else, I am sure that each of us have made mistakes along the way, but yet our determination to follow Jesus remains unchanged. I believe that all of us who are a disciple of Jesus will encounter at times that our commitment to the Lord will be tested especially when difficulties occur. Commitment requires a choice, a decision. Jesus wasted no time getting to the heart of commitment. Either the disciples would be committed to Him and deny their own desires or they would be determined to go their own way and deny Him. This decision to commit is the same for us. Either we deny ourselves and commit to following Him or deny Him and commit to following our selfish ways (1 Samuel 7:3; Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23).
Commitment to the Word.We need to reaffirm our commitment to daily spending time in the Word of God. God’s Word should be the governing principle for our lives. It provides a solid base that will keep us firm and secure no matter what circumstances we face.
The power of God’s Word also brings spiritual life to all who are open to its truth in every area of life. It brings life and fruitfulness to areas of our lives that seems lifeless or stagnant.
Commitments to family relationships, to those we love.Reaffirm your decision to making the people you love in life a priority by staying true to the commitments you made with them.
Wavering commitments.One of the problems that I think is the reason we waver in our commitments is a divided heart. In Psalm 86:11-12, David is praying to God to give him an undivided heart. He is requesting God to unite the focus of his heart towards the Lord alone. Familia, we have a divided heart. Part of us is towards God, and part of it is towards our flesh. We are divided by the desires of our flesh and our desires for God. Our hearts and minds are at times divided between variety of things instead of completely directed, committed towards God alone. We need to ask God to give us an undivided heart where all of our attention and affection is to serve God and glorify His Name.
Taking Authority in PrayerThe most important authority God has given us is the authority to pray. Think how often Jesus said if we believed in Him we would have access in prayer to the Father, and that we could be confident that whatever we needed He would give us (John 14:13-14; 15:7; 16:23-27). By His death and resurrection Jesus not only cleansed our sins and gave us eternal life, but He also restored the spiritual authority God intended for us when He created us.
The Work of Prayer:Many of us realize prayer is a great source of power, but we still don’t pray that much. This may be because we don’t realize how much spiritual opposition there is to our prayers. There is nothing the devil hates and fears more than humans discovering how to destroy his plans through prayer, so he opposes us every time we try to pray. A mature believer learns to expect this opposition, and develops ways to press past it, but someone who doesn’t understand what is happening to them can become distracted and discouraged. Their prayer-life can end up focused on a few of their own personal needs. In effect, their authority goes unused and the devil’s plans go unchanged.
Practical Steps:Here are some practical steps that might help to strengthen our prayer-life:
Discussion Questions:1. Life is challenging and all of us are on our God-given assignments: our family, workplace, school, church, our community…etc. Pick one and tell us how you think God wants you to pray for that situation.
Deuteronomy 8:1-20The Bible teaches us the importance of not forgetting the Lord and the importance of remembering His goodness and love for us. Truly there is a tremendous need for us to remember and not forget all of His benefits (Psalm 103). I would like to propose to you a few of the things we need to remember about God and also about ourselves on how we should live, what we should do and about the kind of person we should be.
The importance of God’s Word.
Live by a simple standard.
Testing of the heart.
The blessings of God in the past.
Understanding spiritual activity.We need to remember that spiritual activity is territorial in nature (v.1). Remember that spiritual activity has to do with God’s desire to redeem and enlarge your territories, but the enemy comes to restrict us from receiving and to never experience God’s best and blessings. Familia, Satan is looking for property, for territory in our lives, in our hearts, in our homes to encroach in and conquer. The enemy is committed this year to stripping us of everything we love. He is committed to move in on all territories that God wants you and I to have and enjoy. He is committed to stealing and destroying the treasures that are special to us (John 10:10). Satan will control everything that we don’t surrender to God. Satan will control territories that we don’t conquer for God.
Joshua 24:13-24Understand that everyone of us will make extremely important decisions regardless of what is happening in our lives and regardless of what’s happening even in our island home and in the world today. Also, remember that the decisions we do make will surely affect not only our own lives but the lives of the people we love and those within our circle of influence. The Apostle Paul like Joshua declared how sure he is of who his God is and what he believes (2 Timothy 1:12). I think that the decisions we make in life will be the evidence that will support who our God is that we are serving and what we truly believe is of value.
Summary from the previous weeks:First is the initial decision of how God fits into our lives. It’s a decision of choosing to have a relationship with Him and putting Him first and serving Him (Joshua 24:15). Secondly, it’s a decision to choose to embrace and obey the values and commands of God (Deuteronomy 6:24). Thirdly, we need to make a decision to truly trust God because it’s one thing to say God is first in our lives, but it’s another thing to trust Him completely. Fourthly, it’s a decision to make our family, our home a priority. And fifth, it’s making a decision to look for opportunities to grow in the knowledge and application of the Word of God.
Making a decision to commit to persevere in prayer.
Making a decision to give the burdens of life to the Lord.
Psalm 23“The Lord is my shepherd” – It begins with a relationship. It means that I have a relationship now with God who says He will guide me, lead me.
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