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Acts 2:41-47Is prayer a priority in our lives? I have been personally sensing the Lord impressing about a need for renewal in my heart about prayer. I have been expressing to the Lord that the one thing I want to do is to finish well. If you and I want to finish well in our walk of faith, then the best thing to do is to pray everyday. To have an earnest prayer that day by day it causes us to hunger for God.
Why you and I should pray?1. We should pray because it spares us from incredible number of times of pain and grief. It spares us from a lot of trouble because God knows the roadblocks ahead and He knows the detours ahead. He knows what is ahead and we don’t.
The early church prayed.
Two basic things about the prayer life of Jesus.1. Jesus was balanced. The times He spent time with the Father followed prolonged times of intense public ministry. Jesus knew the need to balance times with God and times with people. It is so easy to loose this balance. Do you ever get so involved with your family, with your work, ministry, friends, things to do around the house that you rarely have time alone with God? Are you the kind of person that find yourself so involved with many things and find it difficult to find time to be with God? Jesus discovered that taking time to pray and be with the Father makes you more effective with people and closer to God. When you have received from God, then you have something to give out to people that did not come from you but from the Lord.
We are called to pray.
Signs of the Christ’s ReturnJesus began His public ministry with the simple message, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is near.”
1. DECEPTIONMatthew 24:4-5 “Jesus answered: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.’”
2. WORLDWIDE BIRTHPAINSMatthew 24:6-8 “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
3. PERSECUTIONMatthew 24:9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”
4. FALLING AWAYMatthew 24:10 “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.”
5. FALSE PROPHETSMatthew 24:11 “And many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”
6. WICKEDNESSMatthew 24:12 “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”
7. WORLDWIDE EVANGELISMMatthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Psalm 46:10God desires to be a part of every area of your life. He wants to give you direction and meaning in all that you do. We no longer need to “juggle” different things but seek God to bring balance to our lives. We are pulled in many different directions. Most of us work, go to school, single mom/dad or care for sick loved ones. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed or stuck in a rut or wonder what’s next. God never intended our life to be filled with chaos but rather embrace His will and seek Him for guidance in every aspect of our lives.
1. Be still and know that He is God.
2. Be still under God’s covering.
Committed to the ones He loves.
Applying this definition of love.
Committed to helping you and me.
Concern about our future.
The many blessings of the Lord. (v.4, 7-18)
Five simple things to decide on.
Deuteronomy 8:1-3Many times, God puts us through testing in life not to prove to Him anything about us for He already knows about us, but it is to prove to us and show areas of weakness in our hearts, in our life. God tested the Israelites not because He did not know their hearts, but because the Israelites did not know the condition of their own hearts. God puts us through a test to show us how weak we are and how we need to depend on Him. We simply cannot depend or rely on ourselves, we need to rely on the Lord. Again, the Lord knows the condition of our spiritual heart. It is us that do not know everything in our own heart. And in the midst of circumstances is when we discover what’s really going on within our own hearts and lives (v.2). God allows us to experience circumstances and be exposed to certain conditions in life to test our hearts. He is using those situations to do one thing, and that is to reveal the condition of our own heart to ourselves.
1. God knows that our heart is wicked.
2. God knows that our hearts are filled with secrets. (Psalm 44:21)
3. God knows that our hearts is what brings life and health to you and me.
1. My heart affects how I feel about myself.
2. My heart affects my relationship with others.
3. My heart affects my relationship with God.
1. I need to believe that God can change even me. (Romans 10:9-10)
2. What can I do? We believe that we are saved by grace and not works.
3. To daily exercise 1 John 3:23, “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”
Mark 6:45-51; John 6:15-21; Matthew 14:22-33When you and I are overwhelmed in the middle of a storm, there is no doubting that the Lord wants us to know today that He is not far away and distant from us. Understanding that the Lord have not forgotten about us, that He will show up just in time and take us through the other side of life’s challenging circumstances. Yes, the struggle is real, the physical issues we deal with doesn’t seem to go away, circumstances are against us and whether we got into it by some failure on our own part or it was just thrown in our way or maybe it seems that the forces of darkness is coming right at us, you and I need to believe that we will not go under and sink because God is with us.
What to remember when we are overwhelmed in the middle of a storm.1. You and I need to settle in our heart and accept that God has a plan in all of it. His hands are in the circumstance.
Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-51; John 6:15-21This event where Jesus walks on the water and eventually Peter walking on water as well is a good illustration of the life of discipleship being a constant experience of testing and deliverance. The disciples were not in this situation of difficulty because of being willfully disobedient or stubborn, but they were in this predicament again (Mark 4:35-41; Matthew 8:23-27) simply because of their obedience to the commands of Jesus. In other words, they found themselves in this danger because of obedience. Being pounded by the waves because the wind was against them does not mean they have strayed from the path of God’s will, but instead, God’s path for them lay through the storm. In Matthew’s account includes an event about Peter asking Jesus to walk on the water and come to Him. Let us look at this particular event and then ask the question: why did Peter want to walk on water and be open to listening to what God may speak to our own hearts.
The amazing event.· Walking On Water - Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-51; John 6:15-21
The Apostle Peter· People often make fun of Peter, I know I do. He is sometimes labeled as being proud or foolish. It is one way to look at this man who had the courage to ask questions, who tried to answer difficult questions, who tried to do things too hard for him, or was willing to fight to protect Jesus from harm. I think the way we react to Peter reveals much about our own approach to life. Fearful people think of him as foolish, but bold people think of him as someone brave enough to take a risk and fail. But whatever we might think about Peter’s behavior before the Day of Pentecost, there can be no argument about who he became afterward. Remember that he became one of the main leaders for the early church and performed miracles as remarkable as those done by Jesus Himself. We have to admit that Peter’s aggressive approach to discipleship doesn’t seem to have damaged his spiritual potential. No doubt he became a great leader. He was vital in welcoming Gentiles into the Jewish church, he wrote two great letters that we still use today, and he died as a martyr, bravely confessing Jesus to the very end.
One simple question.· Why did Peter want to get out of the boat? Why did Peter want to walk on water? The answer to this question will explain why you and I also want to walk on water. But first, we need to recognize that no answer is given in the text. We only have a description of what Peter and Jesus did and said, but we are not told why. So, we have to guess.
Several possibilities.1. Peter simply wanted to be near Jesus. This was a common characteristic of him. He followed Jesus and waited in the courtyard during Jesus’ trial (John 18:15). He ran to the empty tomb after Jesus was resurrected (John 20:3-4). He even jumped into the lake and swam to shore when he recognized the resurrected Jesus (John 21:7).
Growing Deeper.· Has God ever asked you to “step out of the boat”? What did He want you to do?
Psalm 96Why is giving worship and praise so essential and important in our lives? I think worship is all about redemption. It’s obvious that it is all about our salvation. The reason we gather together in our services is because of Jesus. We come to praise, worship and glorify Him because of who He is and all that He has done. Worship has often been misunderstood as the musical prelude to the sermon, rather than how we, as the people of God, invite the rule of His kingdom to be established on earth. Worship is ascribing or giving worth to something or someone. But true worship is also a matter of the heart. It must be felt. It can't be a ritual we do. It can't be just an external going through the motions. True worship is a heartfelt expression of love, adoration, admiration, wonder and celebration. It is something that happens in our heart and soul when we begin to praise God for who He is and thank Him for what He has done. Wherever God’s people come together to worship, and where that happens, all His glory, His rulership, and His rule are present. In situations where worship ushers in the presence of God there are important things that take place:
Worship keeps our affection and our focus on Jesus
Worship forces us to deal with issues of sin.
Worship makes us receptive to the fullness of the Spirit of God.
Worship causes us to keep moving forward on the things of God.
Worship keeps us from falling away.
Worship frees us from the failures of the past.
Worship equips us to face difficult situations and circumstances.
Joshua 5:13-6:20Familia, as Christians God has given us an inheritance to possess (Joshua 6:2; 2 Chronicles 20:11). He has given us our family, our well-being, our health, provisions, purpose in life, our ministry, people that we want to see come to Jesus, promises that has to do with every aspect of your personal life and mine. These are God’s possessions and He wants to give to us to receive and inherit. Today we read about this incredible story about the walls of Jericho and the fact that it fell, and the city was given to the Israelites. When it comes to experiencing a breakthrough in peoples lives and mine, how does it happen? I know that God does it, He brings the breakthrough and that the Bible says that He does. I know that He has done it in the pass and is doing it today. But when it comes to God’s deliverance in people’s lives, how does it really happen? What are some of the elements to experiencing God’s miracle breakthroughs. Adding to some of the things we have learned in the last several weeks regarding this subject, let us look at other things that I think characterizes people who experiences God’s blessings in their lives.
Understanding what it is that God has purposed for my life. (v. 1-2)
Knowing the importance of obedience. (v. 3-6)
Breakthrough comes to people of faith. (v. 5)
Most important is relationship with Jesus. (Joshua 1:1-9; 5:13-15; 6:6-13)
For the Battle Is Not Yours, But God’s (2 Chronicles 20:1-24)A word has come to Jehoshaphat the King of Judah of an invasion of a vast army by several nations coming together and was advancing towards them. Jehoshaphat feared for the nation because he knew they lacked the power to defend themselves. They were hopelessly outnumbered, there were no human solutions. Their situation was difficult and overwhelming, and they did not know what to do (v.12). Familia, there comes a time in our lives when we are faced with what looks like impossible situations. We all face problems or crisis in life. These uncertain, difficult, painful situations come in a variety of forms and sizes. We encounter relationship issues, school, work and home related stresses, health issues, financial hardship and so on. No matter what the crisis may be, they disrupt our lives. Therefore, it is important that we are prepared and ready to face them regardless what come our way. The questions that we need to answer for ourselves are the following: How do I conduct myself during times of crisis? Can I really be prepared for them? When crisis comes, will I be ready? What am I to do? Today, let us look at what Jehoshaphat and the Israelites did during this situation when they came under attack and won this great battle.
An inheritance given by God.“See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance (v.11).” Whose possessions? The Lords. Which He has given to whom? The people of God. Understand that it is God’s possession and He had the right to give it to the people to receive as an inheritance. Familia, as Christians this concerns us. God has given us inheritance to possess. He has given us homes, your family, your business, your well-being, your health to possess, His provisions to possess, promises that has to do with every aspect of your personal life and mine. He has given us to possess our purpose in life, our ministry, our love ones we want to see come to Jesus. Remember that Jesus died to purchase our love ones and to bring them to Himself. They belong to the Father and Jesus paid the price. There are things that belongs to God; it is His possessions and He wants to give to us to receive and inherit. But then there are others that wants to hinder us from receiving the inheritance God is giving or wants to take it away from you and me. Therefore, the warfare.
Inquire of the Lord, ask of Me.“Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all of Judah (v.3).” I believe the word “alarmed” or “feared” here surely has to do with the overwhelming situation at hand, but I think it has to do more about respect than panic. It is not panicking but turning to prayer and respecting and regarding what God has to say about the situation more than what the circumstances is saying. It has to do with respect to God’s principles and ways (v.3-4, 12). There is an element of reverence because they had faith in the one and only true God. It is realizing they have a great Judge in the middle of their situation that cannot be defeated if they would appeal their case to Him. So, they turned to prayer and inquired of the Lord. Familia, we are not called to walk in panic, we are not called to voice our complaints, but we are called to have Faith in Him and ask of Him (Psalm 2:1-8).
Proclaiming a fast.“Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all of Judah (v.3).” The people of Judah were in a situation where the oppression is coming and so, Jehoshaphat called them to a fast. The discipline of fasting is something that I know is important but have been a constant struggle in my own life. God calls us to a fast because it is the means to where the oppress goes free. It is significant to the release from spiritual bondage (Isaiah 58). One of the things we can do to break the oppression is fast. For your personal need, for your home, your familia, for others, for our island and for our nation.
The battle is not yours, but God’s.“He said: Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s (v.15).” Praise God knowing that the battle is His. Familia, you and I come to an important turning point in our lives when we recognize that the battle is the Lord’s. But understand that this doesn’t leave us sitting on the sidelines. God involves us in some way, but I must keep in mind that what brings about the victory is entirely up to God. “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you (v. 17).” I believe that the challenge to our faith is to stand firm or stand still and actually be crushed.
Get before the Lord in worship and praise.“Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with very loud voice (v.18-19).” Get before the Lord, worshipfully and seeking after Him for the solution to the problem or solution to the vast circumstances coming to oppress you and me. I need to come before God in worship and waiting on Him and not running away because of fear and panic that arises within my own nature.
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