“The Power of Prayer!” Sunday School Lesson, Acts 12:1-11, November 1, 2015

Here is this week’s lesson once again just in case you missed it earlier. Blessings to you all!

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“Totally Free!”

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Photo Credit: Wallpaper4god.com

“Who’s Holding You?”

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Photo Credit: Wallpaper4god.com Click here to visit original

 

There is so much hurt and disappointment in the world today. So many people’s hearts are crying out for relief. These verses were laid heavily on my heart to send out as a spiritual S.O.S. to someone somewhere. I have clung to these in my own times of personal trial and I hope they help you also. Listen to the Mark Schultz’s video below and be encouraged that God Almighty, no matter what you are going through today, is holding you in the palm of His hands!

 

“You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; They shall be as nothing, And those who strive with you shall perish. You shall seek them and not find them – Those who contended with you. Those who war against you shall be as nothing, As a nonexistent thing. For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, Fear not, I will help you,” (Isaiah 41:9b-13, NKJV).

 

GOD IS HOLDING YOU TODAY!

“Search Me, O God!”

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Search me, O God

From the inside out

And see what my life

Is all about.

Am I living true to Your holy name,

Or is my worship just a game?

 

Search me, O God

And know my heart

And see from Your way

Have I thus part.

In my spirit, I am most sincere,

Please search, and to Your side

Draw me near.

 

Search me, O God

And tell if You see

Anything that will keep me

From all eternity.

If it be there, help me dig out the root,

That I might produce Your spiritual fruit.

 

Search me, O God

My blessed Savior,

Save me from my sometimes

Ungodly behavior.

Apologetically I come,

With a heart in deep sorrow,

Pleading for You to lead me

To Your heavenly tomorrow.

 

Search me, O God

And lead me home

To the place where I stand

Before Your throne.

Living in the peace You gave to me,

For Your search dug out who I used to be.

 

“Dealing with Contentions in the Midst of Blessings”

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“And Abimelech said unto Issac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we,” Genesis 26:16, KJV

Oh, how wonderful we feel when God opens the windows of heaven and pours out blessings into our lives, Micah 3:10. It feels good! And, it doesn’t matter if the blessing is material, physical, spiritual or emotional, if there is something that God wants to do that is special for us, we take joy in receiving from the goodness of our heavenly Father.

One of my favorite verses that keeps me in check and reminds me of just how awesome He is in this area is Matthew 7:9-11, KJV. In the verses before these Jesus is teaching His disciples a few of life’s lessons. He just assured them of the “ask, seek, and knock” principle of prayer. Then, to make sure they understood how much the heavenly Father cares He further explains, “Or what man of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

God knows how to give good gifts! The problem with that is everybody is not going to like you for it. Everyone is not going to be on your side. There will be one, if not more, that will be standing in the corner, grimacing every time God decides to shower you with some of His goodness. It’s sad, but true!

Human nature can get almost primal in this area. If you throw a bone to a pack of hungry dogs, what will happen? Only one dog will actually catch the bone, but the others will be on a continual mission to take it from him because they want it for themselves. They’re hungry for it. They want to be fed, too. It’s not fair that the one got the blessing and the rest didn’t. And so, another dog will try to latch onto it to yank and pull it away from the original owner. Another also steps in and tries to get it from the previous two. And on, and on it goes. Until one is successful to lie hold of it and run to safety.

I’ve seen this play out with sea gulls, also. You throw a piece of bread out for one and suddenly there are what seem to be a hundred gulls thinking they can all survive off of that one piece. They swoop down grab the bread and try to fly away with the prize, only another has his eye on it and does the same. It becomes a never ending circle of desire and want that moves to the contentions of, “If I can’t have it, neither can you.” Swoop! It’s mine!

The same scenario played out for Isaac. God was keeping His promise that He made to Abraham and his son was reaping the rewards of it. God had truly blessed Isaac. “Then Isaac sowed in the land and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants . . .,” (Genesis 26:12-14, KJV).

He was blessed! But, the remainder of verse 14 clearly states that not everyone was happy about it. It says, “And the Philistines envied him.” They then put into motion a plan to try to hold down his blessings. “For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth,” (Genesis 26:15, KJV). As they stopped up the wells their hope was to stop the blessings.

Afterward, the king of the Philistines, Abimelech, just out and out told him, “We don’t want you here anymore – get out!” If they can’t stop the blessings then they don’t want to be around you while God is blessing. Why? Because it hurts to see some receive and some don’t. Humanity doesn’t like it like that, unless, of course, they are the ones on the receiving end of it.

It’s a hard pill to swallow. I’ve been on both sides of this fence: the side of being blessed and the side of watching others get blessed. Oftentimes, I didn’t always understand, but that’s just the way it was. Like it or not, I have to believe in God’s sovereignty over it all. Did it always register right away? Um, no. For I am human also and don’t always see things as God does. (If I’m going to write about it, I have to be totally honest about it.)

So, it shouldn’t surprise us that as God moves on our behalf to elevate us and bless us, that contentions can arise. What do we do then? First and foremost, is to trust God. After being kicked out, Isaac went from one well to another, there was always a fight with someone about it. Isaac could’ve gotten ticked off, but he kept trying to find where God was leading. Just because you are blessed by God doesn’t mean you can settle anywhere. You have to be where God wants you in order to continue to grow in Him. That requires trust.

Eventually, Genesis 26:22 tells us, “And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not . . . For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land,” (KJV). If one keeps following the leading of God, God in turn will put you in a place where the gifts and blessings He has given you will thrive. You are not going to just flourish anywhere. You have to be where He can insure your growth.

If that weren’t enough, God made those that hated Isaac to be at peace with him. “We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee . . . let us make a covenant with thee,” (Genesis 26:28, KJV). They came to him. They sought him out to seek reconciliation. How did it all end? Very good, I might say. “And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace,” (Genesis 26:30-31, KJV). All grudges and animosity were gone and peace entered in.

The Bible says, “the same day, that Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water,” (Genesis 26:32, KJV). This was refreshment for the body and soul after dealing with such contentions. I think that means he was finally where God wanted him to be, in mind, body and spirit. The water didn’t come until the covenant for peace was made.

When God blesses there will sometimes be contentions to deal with from others. But, we too, have a responsibility in the midst to try to go as God leads us and to still keep the peace.

Encouragement in God Alone!

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“But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God,” 1 Samuel 30:6b, NKJV

Distressed –  yeah!  Discouragement – you betcha!  Disappointment – inevitable!  Depressed – my middle name!

These were all things that David, the once proud warrior, was facing.  Upon returning back to Ziklag, David found everything was lost.  Not only had the city been raided and burned to the ground, but their families, their wives and children were now the captives of the enemy.

How devastating it must have all been!  Things can be replaced but to have your families at the mercy (or not the mercy) of an enemy – it’s too much to bear.  “David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep,” 1 Samuel 30:4, NKJV.

Have you been there before?  Crying until you can’t cry no more?  That’s a brokenness that can’t be easily healed.  It’s a state of desperation to where there is no quick answer.  Nothing but the tears on the pillows.  No solace.  No comfort.  No peace.  “No more power to weep.”

David’s situation grew even dimmer when the people who were closest to him turned their backs on him.  “The people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved,” 1 Samuel 30:6a, NKJV.  These were the men that rode with him.  Those that fought in battle with him.  Those whom David gathered together as a band and turned a bunch of nobody’s into somebody’s.  Yet, here they are at the brink of committing a great evil against an innocent man.

Everybody needs somebody to blame.  At least, that’s what you hear many say and we see this kind of primitive blame placing here.  To them, David is to blame and David will be the one to pay the price.

Have you ever felt that you were in this alone?  As if the whole world has turned their backs on you as David’s men did with him?  You feel like you are battling alone and everyone else is just ready to cast stones at you?

David’s desperation led him to where all of ours should – the LORD!

“David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.”  The only place where true solace and comfort of heart can be found – in God!

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy,
and find grace to help in time of need,” Hebrews 4:16, KJV.  Thank God we don’t have to go this alone despite what our circumstances may look like.  God has privileged us with an opportunity to invite Him in the process of dealing with our hurts and  disappointments.  How many times have you turned to a friend in a time of need and they were nowhere to be found?  Or, worse yet, they couldn’t do anything to add to your comfort or just didn’t care?

God does not do that!  He openly shows His love and concern by allowing us to dump it all on Him.  Come to the throne that we might get!  Get what?  “Mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

In a time of need?  Yes, David surely was.  He had nowhere else to turn.  He found out the hard way how quickly people will forsake you.  Regardless, it didn’t dim his hope.  David knew from past experiences where his help came from.  He could sing like the other psalmist, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help?  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth,” Psalms 121:1-2, NKJV.  Over and over again, God has proven himself in the life of David and this time would be no different.

I wonder how many of us have that diligent past relationship with God, knowing that when we are in a time of need, we can turn to Him over and over again?  Has our life been so, in following after Him, as David’s was, that the connection of encouragement we receive from the LORD is ever-present?

David initiated the search for God’s help.  He didn’t ask the people’s opinion of what he should do.  He didn’t continue to wallow in self-pity because everybody was against him.  He didn’t give up or throw in the towel because recovery seemed impossible.  “David said to Abiathar the priest . . . Please bring the ephod here to me . . . So David inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I pursue this troop?  Shall I overtake them?’  And He answered him, ‘Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all,'” 1 Samuel 30:7-8, NKJV.

“Without fail recover all.”  God is the only one who could ever make such a promise.

The point of this all is very simple.  God is our source for everything; even encouragement.  It’s nice to get a “Good job!” from people once in a while or a pat on the back – but it is God whom we look to.  Sometimes situations will be so bad that we feel totally isolated from all.  Yet, we are also in a position to be so full.  To be able to recover all “without fail.”

Only what we find in strengthening ourselves in God can be labeled “without fail.”  Only the encouragement we have in Him will endure and never falter or fade.  He is our staying power.  He is our strength when we are weak.  Our shelter in the midst of the storm.  Our hightower.  Our fortress.  And, so much more!

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Sometimes those measures mean turning a deaf ear to everyone else and their negativity about the situation and looking to God for counsel and help.  And He will, “without fail,” be your help through it all.  Find encouragement in God alone!

Minister encouragement to yourself through God’s grace today!

 

“Peter Speaks Up for God’s Gift!” Sunday School Lesson, Acts 11:1-18, October 25, 2015

Just in case you missed it, here is this week’s Sunday School Lesson once again. Have a fantabulous, beautiful Saturday! Enjoy! Blessing!

“Faith is not dependent on anything but the power of God at work in your life.”

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“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,”

Hebrews 11:1.

“My God Shall Supply All Your Need . . .”

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“My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:19).  We do not serve a God of lack.  He will provide!  Whatever you NEED, God’s got it!

“God’s Strength is Made Perfect in Our Weakness!”

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God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.  We don’t have to have all the answers.  We are not relying on our own power, but He whose power is greater in our times of weakness.