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When God Shows Up

People generally come to God for one of two reasons: either their life has ended up in a mess and they’re left with no other option. Or they find themselves in a situation where the presence of the Holy Spirit becomes so strong that their resistance and confusion melt away and they rush into God’s arms. In other words most people turn to God either because they’re desperate or because they’ve been awakened by the power of the Holy Spirit (John 4:27-42).
What Jesus taught His disciples before the crowds of Samaritans arrived at Jacob’s well was that they were about to see many turn to God because a miracle would take place. Large numbers of people were going to quickly come under conviction and surrender to God. The time between hearing and believing would be miraculously shortened to such a degree that those who were presenting the gospel would end up working side by side with those who were helping people receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord. The disciples were about to be part of a quick work, so Jesus was preparing them so they would understand what was happening; and at the same time He was cautioning them to remain humble in the midst of such amazing fruitfulness.
In Judea Jesus had already begun seeing great fruitfulness (John 4:1), but in the future the fruitfulness would only continue to increase, and His disciples needed to know why it was happening. They needed to know how to react when it happened. They needed to understand that the huge in gathering of souls (more story tellers) that would begin was the result of the power of God.
The importance of power
Now 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.
When we proclaim Jesus Christ, or pray for the sick, or help someone receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, or engage in some type of spiritual warfare, the outcome will be decided not so much by what we say or do but by whether or not God actually shows up. And when He does everyone knows it (John 3:8).
Preparing for the Spirit
There 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:
1) Make a deep commitment that we will never minister apart from God’s power.
2) Realized that the Holy Spirit will always come to help us when we as Jesus’ disciples see Him. (John 14:16, 14:26).
3) Understand that preparing for power is a process that may vary in length and intensity depending on the situation, but will usually require such forms of preparation as intercessory prayer, fasting, worship praying in the Spirit, spiritual warfare and even physically cleaning a place before we begin to minister.
4) Watch for God to initiate and lead all ministry. He alone knows what that person needs to hear and when they are ready to receive. If we lead, the entire process breaks down.
5) Expect miraculous results. When God initiates and the power shows up, amazing things will always happen.
6) Never lose perspective and think we caused such wonderful results. We must remember that God was at work long before we arrived and that He will continue working long after we leave. Joyful thanks is our proper response for the privilege of ministering in the power that comes only because we belong to Jesus.
Great expectations
This 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
1. Can you think of a time when the Holy Spirit led you to do or say something to someone and you obeyed? What happened? Did God show up?
2. Have you ever been surprised to find that someone you thought would never be interested in God had become a believer? Did you ever find out why? If so, what did God see in them that you couldn’t see?
3. Have you ever felt the power of the Holy Spirit? Tell us when and where. What did you feel or see?

Our Response to Troubling Times (2 Kings 18:1-8; 2 Chronicles 29)

2 Kings 18:1-8; 2 Chronicles 29
What 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.
  • Judges 17:6 “…everyone did as they saw fit.” Everyone did what was right and pleasing in their own eyes.
  • Deuteronomy 12:28 “Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.”
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.
  • Recognizing Idols:
◦ Idols always reflect our culture. We tend to turn to our culture to worship what is known. The Israelites wanting to go back to Egypt.
◦ Idols always have a repetitive nature attached to them. It has an addictive power to them. Once you start to worship these addictive idols, it will own you. It won’t let go easily and you won’t let go of them easily.
◦ Idols will always compete for the place of God in your life. It will get your focus, your time and your energy away from the true God. These idols will get the best part of your day, time, energy and commitment.
◦ Idols are fiercely defended. You will rationalize and defend idols.
  • Some modern day idols: the god of materialism. To god of winning or success. The god of “me.” The god of relationships. To god of religion. The god of intellectualism. The god of pleasure. The god of power, control. The god of “social media.”
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.
  • How do you know when things really need to change? The answer is get closer to Jesus. The closer you are to Him the more you see how things should be. A person who wants to be clean needs to get closer to the Holy and Pure God.
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.

Resurrection Assurance (Jn 20:1-31; 1 Cor 15:1-4)

John 20:1-31; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
The 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).
Familia, when it comes to Easter Resurrection morning and we hear the talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are talking about a pretty major event. This is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to this world for you and me. When it comes to hearing afresh our Savior’s death and resurrection, we need to respond with thanksgiving in our hearts about all the assurances that are made available to us because Jesus lived, died and rose again.
Resurrection assurance
1. 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.
2. The resurrection is an assurance that there is hope for you and me. Easter is a reminder that Jesus is at work accomplishing things in our lives and in the lives of the people we love. It gives us hope that God can turn things around especially when life situations looks so hopeless.
3. The resurrection guarantees that there is God’s help for you and me. Otherwise, if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead then we would be left to our own selves, to our own ways which leads to destruction.
4. The death and resurrection of Jesus assures us that we have an advocate, a representation in heaven. 1 John 2:1 “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” When Satan lays out all the accusations against you and me, Jesus will answer on our behalf. Because of His death, the shedding of His blood and rising from the dead, He has covered all of our sins and the Father sees no fault in us. There is great assurance of the forgiveness of sins. The resurrection gives us as believers confidence the God was satisfied with the sacrifice Christ made on behalf of all sinners. Peter wrote that the new birth is accomplished because of Christ resurrection: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
5. Because Jesus lived, died and rose again in resurrection life, I too will die but have an assurance that I will rise again. All who believe and who are identified with Christ by faith will be raised at His second coming. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes through another man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”

A Posture That Is Productive

Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19
Is 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 productive
Psalm 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!”
  • As the people were declaring this Psalm, this was their hope. This event was not long after Lazarus was raised from the dead. The people had all the evidence from all that they have heard and seen for themselves that Jesus is the Messiah. There was this great moment where they began praising Him as they moved towards the city gates. But they did not know that what they where hoping for wasn’t going to happen yet. Still there was hope in their hearts.
  • All of us are waiting and facing situations that is taking longer to coming about than we anticipated. Somehow we know we are moving with the King as they did that first Palm Sunday. And you and I have seen God’s grace with us but things hasn’t all happened or come to being completed yet.
The people went out to meet Him. (v. 13)
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.
  • First fact: there was a deepening in the oppression in their location. They, the Jews were not in control of their land but the Romans were in control. They where oppressed by the Romans and this oppression intensified during the Passover season.
  • They lifted their voice in praise of a King who will break the oppression when at the very moment the number of Roman soldiers coming into town was increasing. Still they shouted out in praise.
  • Second fact: they knew (aware) of the conspiracy of a plan by the Pharisees that will lead to Jesus’ death. There was the scornful attitudes of those opposed to Jesus.
  • Similar to our own personal lives where we begin to move toward God and are excited about what He is going to do with His power in our lives or in the lives of others especially of those we love, and in situations we face but instead of the establishing of full victory there comes an increasing of oppression and mocking of Satan, our adversary. Still they lifted up their voice in praise.
2. They trusted God before the promise is realized.
  • Psalm 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!”)
  • Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (John 12:15 “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”
  • The people who were praising the Lord with one text of scripture did not recognize that another passage of scripture was being fulfilled at the same time.
  • How many of us ever faced situations and trials and as we face the trial we found a promise of God from His Word and embraced the promised? As we moved towards the realization of that promise sometimes slow and sometimes fast, but often times very slow, we wonder if it will ever come to where the trials are gone and the promise we embraced is realized. Nevertheless we held on to the promise of God. We trusted God before the promise is perfected in our lives. And in the waiting, in the trusting and after the victory is realized we then see all the other things God did.

Our Response to the Oppositions (Nehemiah 4:1-23)

Nehemiah 4:1-23
When 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).
Last week we exposed the tactics of Satan and how he plots to oppose the works of God and our personal commitment to that which God is doing in and through our lives. Familia, we are in a real battle against the adversary. As a reminder, the tactics he often uses is to discourage us. He does this by causing you and I to see and focus on the great rubble in the situations in front of us and in doing so make us feel that the work at hand is too great and can never be accomplished. He mocks and ridicules and make fun of our faith, our commitment, our lack of it. But when these tactics fails, he then tries a direct assault against us (v. 8).
How Nehemiah responded. (Our response to the opposition of the adversary)
1. Prayer to our God. (v. 4, 9)
  • Nehemiah called upon God in prayer. We too should do the same. Prayer should always be our first response. We should realize and accept our limitations and take an honest view of our strength and abilities. Then immediately recognize who we are and what we have in our relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to truly believe that our God is our source of unlimited help, resource and strength, in Christ.
  • Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and His mighty power.”
  • 2 Corinthians 10:4 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
  • Nehemiah believed that prayer to his God was essential to the rebuilding work to be successful. Let us learn this lesson from him and make our prayer unto God and see Him do mighty works on our behalf (v. 9).
  • Yes, prayer is important. But my praying is not an excuse to be lazy and not act on the part God has given us to do. We pray and ask God for help and guidance, then we do our part in cooperation to what He tells us to do.
2. Be on constant guard against the enemy. (v. 11)
  • Be vigilant, be alert, be prepared for the attacks of the enemy. (v. 13; 16-18)
  • How? By knowing the truth of the Word of God. “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints (Ephesians 6:17-18).” When we know the absolute truth of the Word of God, we can easily recognize the counterfeit, the lies of the enemy.
  • Let the enemy hear that we are aware of his schemes (v. 15).
3. Encourage and help one another. (v. 14; 19-20)
  • Because the enemy is so relentless to discourage and get us to give up, it is vital that we be relentless in regularly encouraging and motivating one another with who God is and what He has done for us.
  • Nehemiah directed the people to the Lord. He was a great encourager. He encouraged the people to remember the Lord and not look at the power of the enemy, but look at the power of God. He reminded them that the Lord is great and awesome and will fight for them.
  • The Lord will fight for us today. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).” “If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?”

God’s Greatest Priorities (Matthew 6:19-21)

Matthew 6:19-21
Consciously 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).
In other words, He’s asking us, “What’s your treasure?” or actually, “Where’s your treasure? Are you going to pursue money, pleasure and safety here in this life, or are you going to use your days and resources to prepare for heaven? Do you want to be rich or take people with you into eternity?” What’s the greatest investment of your life? Is anybody going to be in Heaven because of you? It’s a matter of priorities.
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
it’s the sick who need a physician (Mt 9:12), and by “sick” He meant people who knew they were sinners, who understood they would be judged by God, so they longed for His mercy. Those who don’t consider themselves to be sinners and confused by all the talk about Jesus dying on the cross. Inside they’re saying, “Buy why? I’m not that bad!
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.
Asaph, the psalmist, described his own struggle with this choice in Psalm 73. He said he watch unbelievers prosper while he was facing hardship, and he grew bitter toward God. But then he said he went into the sanctuary of God and worshipped, and, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, he changed his priorities. He realized there is nothing greater than knowing God. He said, “Whom have I in heaven (but YOU)? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” (Psalm 73:25). He called God his “portion forever,” and said, “…But as for me, it is good to be near God.” (Ps. 73:26; 28). In worship Asaph changed his answer to this question. He chose God’s “face” rather than His “hand.”
It’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.
Growing Deeper in Christ Questions:
1) Pick one of the “Four choices” listed above, and tell us the choice you made. Was the choice easy to make or difficult? Tell us why.
2) Do you know someone who grew disappointed or bitter at God? What was their reason? Are they still that way, or have they changed?
3) Do you need to change any of your priorities? Would you be willing to share that with us and why it’s a struggle?

Reaffirm Life’s Commitments

It is important to remind ourselves of the need to reaffirm the commitments that we have made in our lives and to see to it that we fulfill them. In other words, it is affirming the fact that you and I made decisions, made vows about things in life and that we are going to fulfill these commitments and do it. Today, we need to remember to remain strong in our commitments and vows.
Definition: Reaffirm – to affirm (validate, pledge, vow, assert, uphold) something again especially so as to strengthen or confirm. Commitment: (1) the entrusting of something valuable to another person. (2) the responsibility to practice specific activities. What is commitment? By definition: a pledge to fulfill, a promise to do or give something. It is a responsibility, a promise, a devotion, a determination.
The commitments we make is to be guarded, to be protected and at various times needs to be reaffirmed. Familia, we live in a world of uncommitted, compromising people. We are living in a time where it does not seem that commitment is something of importance anymore. And that is why I believe that God will test us to see if we will keep the commitments that we have made with Him – to love and obey Him (Mark 12:28-31). He will also test to see if we will keep the commitments we have made to other people, especially to those we love. Hopefully and by the grace of God, you and I will be found committed and faithful.
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.
  • Deuteronomy 8:3 “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
  • Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”
  • James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
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.
  • Isaiah 55:11 “…so is my word that goes our from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Reaffirm our commitment to making the Word of God the solid foundation of our lives because when the foundation is wrong then you and I will always be making adjustments. The Word of God is the only conclusive source of truth, of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. It is filled of practical principles that can set free and enrich the person who will pursue its truth and make it their foundation.
  • Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
  • Joshua 1:8 “Do not let the Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
  • Ephesians 6:17 “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
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 Prayer

Taking Authority in Prayer
The 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:
1. Realize that much of the weakness and failure we experience, and even the struggles of others around us, can be changed when we learn to pray as we should. Listen to Paul: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (Ro 8:26). With this in mind, should we be surprised that when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, God touches our lips and gives us a gift that empowers us to pray what we “ought to pray”? “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” (Jude 1:20).
2. Realize there will always be a spiritual struggle to prevent us from praying because the devil knows this is the key to his defeat.
3. Make prayer a discipline. Develop ways of reminding yourself of areas you need to consistently hold before God, but listen for the Spirit’s guidance each time you pray. Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8).
4. Find a regular place and time; use a journal; write down revelations and answers to prayer.
5. Make the effort to gather with others to do intercessory prayer. We need to be part of gathered-prayer just as we need to be part of gathered-worship. Praying with others strengthens our private prayer.
6. Continually remind yourself not to beg or bargain when you pray. Ask Him to show you how to pray for that person or situation, and recall the promises God has given us in Scripture. Then pray boldly and with the authority God has given you, even if you don’t feel it at the time. Trust and remember that God rewards and blesses those who earnestly seek Him. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exits and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Heb.11:6).
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.
2. Name someone (or feel free not to use their name) who God wants you to fight for in prayer. Why?

The Need to Remember (Hinasso) Deuteronomy 8:1-20

Deuteronomy 8:1-20
The 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.
  • We need to remember this year to take God’s Word more seriously than we have ever done before (v.1; Deuteronomy 4:1-14). How well we remember and obey the Word of God will be evidenced by the way we live and the decisions we make.
  • Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The Word of God will show us how to live a godly life. God’s principles will guide us where to go and what to do accordingly. There is no confusion in the Word. Some of us get our wisdom from the world, but God is suggesting to make His Word, His commands to be the way of life for us. If we follow the Word of God and take His Word seriously, then we can assume and know and be assured in our hearts that the Lord will make things clear. The Word of God shows us the path we should take, but it will also shows us when we are off the path He has for us. And when we fall away from the path of God, His Word makes clear the way to come back to the path He has designed for us.
  • Familia, we should not forget how valuable the Word of God is. When we follow the Word of God, then we will not stumble as much as we use too, not as many mistakes because God makes clear the path. The Word of God is filled with warnings, filled with counsel, filled with answers for life’s relationships. Remember that we cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (v.3; Matthew 4:4). Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:35;41;48). In Jesus, you and I will never be hungry again. We will never be hungry for love again, never be hungry for purpose again, never be hungry for a sense of direction again, never be hungry for peace again. Everything will be satisfied by Him. We are too inexperienced to try to make it through life without a guide. God’s Word is that guide that brings life.
Live by a simple standard.
  • We need to remember to live our daily lives by a simple standard that comes from trusting God and observing His commands (v.1-2, 11; Deuteronomy 13:4). This is the way of God. Life is complicated and becomes very difficult without God’s help. Everything isn’t always ideal because life throws a curve and can go sideways in an instant. But frustrations come when we refuse to live by a simple standard of trusting Him, obeying Him and walking with Him. We need to remember and be aware to guard our hearts to not ignore His ways.
Testing of the heart.
  • We need to remember that life is filled with the test of God (v.2-3, 16; Deuteronomy 13:3; Genesis 22:1; Exodus 16:4). God will test and try us with adversities to prove our faith and constantly remind us that we can’t make it on our own without Him.
The blessings of God in the past.
  • We need to remember all of yesterdays blessings from God (v.10-18). David in Psalm 103 remembers the faithfulness of God in his life and writes down specifically the blessings, the benefits he had received. When we are faced with problems that seems so insurmountable it is so easy to forget what God has done 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.

Decisions For The New Year (Part 3) Joshua 24:13-24

Joshua 24:13-24
Understand 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.
Familia, I would like to continue today by suggesting the following that I believe are significant decisions you and I will need to make this year.
Making a decision to commit to persevere in prayer.
  • The Bible is clear to teach that God hears and answers our prayers (Psalm 3:4; 4:3; 18:6; 55:17). I truly believe like most of you do that the Lord hears our prayers and will answer them but not always in the way we would like them to be answered. Understanding this is important as we decide to commit to prayer.
  • Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
  • Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; He who seeks finds; and to Him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
  • Do you believe in God who answers prayers? If you do, have you decided to commit to persevere in prayer? How does your prayer life look like today?
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
  • Proverbs 3:7 “Do not be wise in your own eyes.” Because it will lead us to the wrong path. Being wise in our own ways dictates the direction of our own lives and no longer led by God. Familia, you and I need to make a decision to be led by God even though we know at times that He will lead us into the wilderness. Even though it is not the place we want to go or the things we want to do, but in the end believing it is where we need to be and doing what we need to do. Do you have confidence in God to lead you?
Making a decision to give the burdens of life to the Lord.
  • Truly there will be burdens and things to carry but the burdens will be lighter and easier when you and I decide to give them in full surrender to the Lord.
  • 1 Peter 5:7-8 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
  • Satan is looking for people who are anxious and worry because he feeds on the worries of their lives. When we are weighed down, heavy laden then we become vulnerable and Satan can easily devour us. He will eat away and destroy our confidence, our joy, our peace, our hope. Familia, God wants to take every care, worries, burden you and I have, but we need to make a decision to surrender them to the Lord. What are the worries, burdens in your life today? Make a decision to give it 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.
“I shall not be in want” – I get to enjoy God’s supplies for my life this year. It means that if provisions are needed, God will provide the very thing I need.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters” – I get to know what real rest and refreshing is that comes from God.
“He restores my soul” – In the midst of trouble and sickness the Lord is saying, I am going to heal you.
“He guides me in paths of righteousness” – The Lord is going to guide and direct my life. Trusting Him and not leaning on my own understanding.
“I will fear no evil for you are with me” – real assurance of God’s protection and that He will see me through. I am not alone.
“Your rod and your staff, they comfort me” – The peace of God.
“My cup overflows” – The joy of knowing God’s abundant life. He will give me more than what I desired.
“I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” – The blessing of the future. Security and blessed hope for tomorrow. To be in eternity with the Lord.
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