“Increase Our Faith” Sunday School Lesson, Luke 17:1-10

Here is this week’s lesson once again just in case you missed it. Enjoy!

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“God Keeps Me”

“And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be,” Exodus 8:23, KJV

I really admire people who can or preserve their own products at home. I had a neighbor who does her own canning and her strawberry preserves were really sweet. You didn’t need to add much of it to flavor whatever you were using it on. Delicious!

I think it’s an awesome thing to grow your own produce out of your own garden or to make your special homemade soup and such, and then store them for a future use. Everything I have read about canning encourages me but also frightens me a little bit. It encourages me because it gives the idea that this is something special I produced. Look how beautifully they’re lined on the shelves for me to take down and use at will. But, it also frightens me a bit because of the potential for bacterial growth if everything is not sterilized and handled correctly.

I know somebody out there who is an experienced canner is shaking their head at me right now. That’s okay, I’m not offended. But, you guys are awesome!

I have been reading through the book of Exodus lately and today I came across the story of the plagues. I was reading about the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart each time a plague had come. Even after dealing with an invasion of lice and flies he still refused God. Some people have to learn lessons the hard way, I guess.

As I continued reading, I came to Exodus 8:22-23 where it says, “I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be,” (KJV). This is what had me thinking about the ability preserve and can one’s own stuff.

I am amazed at the keeping power of God. Thinking from a human perspective, how difficult would it be to keep flies and other plagues from entering a land adjacent to the one being afflicted for their wrong? This wasn’t a bother-you-at-a-picnic-fly-issue. This was nasty!

Verse 21 in the NKJV really opens our eyes to the severity of the situation. “I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand.”

Swarms of flies in the house – EWW! Flies all over the ground that you are stepping on – YUCK! I can imagine the difficulty of opening your mouth to speak to one another without a fly taking refuge on your tonsils – GROSS!

It was very intense, but God kept His people separate. He put a “division” between good and evil; between those who were for Him and those who were against Him. Those that were for God didn’t end up singing the same song as, “I know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly.”

God is a keeper of them that put their trust in Him. Ps. 16:1, KJV, says, “Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.” There’s a lot of junk that goes on around us each and every day but God has a special watch over them that belong to Him. What seemed like an impossibility of not having any flies enter Goshen, God did it! “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:37, KJV).

There are a lot of things swarming around us every day. Whether it lands on us or not, God is my keeper in the midst of it all. Trust Him today! He is preserving you to take you off the shelf to use one day.

I may not be confident in my abilities to sterilize, keeping bacteria from entering in (I need a garden first, anyways). But, I don’t have to question God’s ability to properly preserve me. “CAN ME UP, LORD – AND KEEP ME!”

 

“What God Has for You, it is for You!”

If God made you a promise it will come to pass, rain or not. Your circumstances don’t dictate God’s promises.

Word For Life Says...

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A thought to share:

This morning while dropping my daughter off at school I spotted a rainbow in the sky. There was no rain, no storms; just sun and rainbow with some clouds. I thought about the symbol of the rainbow standing for God’s promise.

Then, I thought about the idea of having a rainbow without the rain is almost like having the promise without the storm. I said within myself, “Lord, any time you want to give me a promise without a storm or rain, that’s alright with me lol.”

It was just a nice thought but it reminded me that no matter what goes on in life, if God made you a promise it will come to pass, rain or not. Your circumstances don’t dictate God’s promises. Yes, there will be rainy days and more often than not we have to go through them to reach the promise…

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“Be Fruitful”

he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth
his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth
shall prosper,” Psalm 1:3, KJV

I believe right there the trees stop and laugh at us. Whether it is planted in the inner city or deep in the countryside, as long as it has soil, water and sunshine it will grow. The tree doesn’t look for excuses for why it can’t do what it was purposed to do. It just does it. It grows and bears fruit.

We have to learn to be abundant where we are planted. Take inventory of where you are right now. What is there that can be done by you? What gap can you fill? What soul can you reach out to? What aspect of ministry can you lend your talents to? Don’t always look at the big stuff; there are little tidbits of things that can be done by each of us. There are small ways to minister (serve) that God can put to good use to cause increase in His kingdom.

Psalm 1:1-2 speaks of the choice of the individual to do right. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night,” (KJV). Now it’s time to walk in the fruitfulness of vs.3, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper,” (KJV).

So, if you have already made the same choice and are now planted, it’s time to let some fruit grow. Nobody will know anything about you unless you start growing fruit; until you start producing something. An apple tree is not an apple tree if it does not produce apples. Matthew 12:33 declares, “. . . for the tree is known by his fruit,” (KJV).

Today, I urge you to make a proclamation to yourself and say, “Self, today, right where I am planted, I will produce!” Do you not know that God will honor that? The Word of God emphatically says, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed,” (Matthew 17:20, KJV). God doesn’t need you to try to grab hold of the biggest thing in ministry there is. But, if your heart is sincere and your faith is genuine, He will honor the fruitfulness of every little step you take.

Don’t let intimidation stop you from being effective for the Kingdom of God. If all I have is a small measure to work with then, I’m going to work that small measure until I see the increase. So, I declare that, “Today, right where I am planted, I will be fruitful!”

“Of Seasons, Stages, and Shades”

of seasons stages and shades

 

Times of transition can be good and bad.  When one is engrossed in unpleasant circumstances a nice change of pace can be just what the doctor ordered.  It breathes new life into you and lifts your spirits high making you feel as if you are on cloud nine.  At the same time, when one is entering into times of affliction, lack or any sort of substandard anything compared to what they are used to, the feelings of dread and just suffering through take over.

Winter for me is not the best season.  I am seriously beginning to see why people move to warmer climates.  Over the past couple of years winter has taken its toll on me and I grow more and more weary of it with each passing year.  Thank God for deliverance and we are deep in Spring once again.  Days when the trees begin to get green and lush once more; when there is a fresh breeze in the air that causes you to inhale deeply hoping to savor as much of it as you can.

Today, while I was driving I experienced one of those Spring savoring moments.  Riding with the windows down, just running errands and grocery shopping, I couldn’t help but to admire God’s handiwork shown in the changing seasons.  I was silently praising Him that it’s not always winter.  That as long as the earth is here we have these times that transition out of the funky icky blahs of one season into the brilliantly colored warmth of the next.

Life is a lot like those transitioning seasons.  Stages, if you will, that carries you from one level to the next.  Each brings with it certain blahs, and yet each brings the brilliantly colored.  It’s just pushing through the blended, muddled messes to arrive on the other side.

I have on my balcony outside an old multi-colored faded rug that has suffered through many summers and winters.  The wear and tear on it more than shows.  For right now the shades and hues are nowhere near reminiscent of what they used to be.  The muddled colors have to go.  To breathe life back into one of my favorite reading, writing, and relaxing areas I will replace this rug in the very near future.  Its usefulness has held up and endured, but now is time for something different.

That’s what these stages do.  They bring us to something different.  If life were the same all the time; the same shade, the same level, the same, the same season – one may not appreciate it as much.  Someone once said, “There is no rainbow without the rain,” to which I wholeheartedly agree to.

Does it make me like winter any more than I do now?  Nope.  Nor, do I like trying times and circumstances, but when God brings you to a place of deliverance; a place where you can deeply inhale and breathe in the freshness of the season and take in all the new shades that brilliantly light up your life, you appreciate the new level and just thank God for seeing you through another stage of life.

“Stop the Madness!”

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“. . . And bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5

 “I can’t get this thought out of my mind!”  That’s the howl of frustration that has come from many a persons I know.  It has probably come from you, too.  The relentless, almost like water dripping from the faucet thoughts that drip, drip, drip their way into your mind.  Sometimes making your head spin with a bothersome problem.  If the thoughts were pleasant to us then we wouldn’t mind so much.  It would cause us to feel as though we were walking through a field of flowers all day long.  It’s when the invasion of the unpleasant stuff comes and messes with our peaceful reverie that we have a problem.  These things continually bounce off the mind, not allowing rest for the soul.

The apostle Paul taught, “Take every thought captive.”  The Christian has to make the conscience effort to have a fly trap mentality.  There is a barrier that every individual is to put up to guard their precious mind.  That barrier is the Word of God.  Whatever does not fall in line with Him and His Word is to be trapped and discarded as refuse like that old, dirty fly trap.  There’s some really bothersome stuff that people put up with every day. They are buzzing around your head and just plain ole getting on your nerves.  I mean, you really just wish you could tear it out of there and throw it away.  Guess what? I have good news for you, you can.  Today, you can stop the madness because the Word of God declares, “You will keep him perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trust in You!” (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV).

When you are dealing with all that annoying stuff, it is robbing you of the peace that God wants you to have in Him.  As I am writing this I’m looking at my cats, Charlie and Rusty, stretched out on the floor sleeping.  Outside, there is some kind of stone work being cut with a loud machine not far from my window.  When the work first began it caused their ears to perk up and I think they were wondering what is going on out there.  As time went on they stopped wondering and started sleeping.  I guess they figured, hey, whatever is going on out there doesn’t affect me in here.  I’m in my safety.  I’m in my shelter.  I’m in my place of trust.

That’s what God wants each of us to experience.  This rest and peace that only comes with first, trusting Him, and secondly, taking every thought captive.  These two working together will give you the peace you so desire.  After all, who doesn’t want more peace?  One can have all the money in the world and be miserable because there is no peace of mind.

Stop the madness.  “Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  I once heard this described as a wrestling match.  I forget who I heard it from but the idea is taking hold of that thought, pinning in to the ground, and making it obey Christ.  If that thought does not profit my spiritual growth in God or my relationship with people, or any of the good stuff God wants for me, then it is to be pinned down.  It is not allowed to get the victory today.  It’s not even allowed in the ring with me.

How do I do that?  “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” (Phil. 4:8).  That’s how you do it.  I know from personal experience how easy it is to focus on all the negative stuff that tries to rob you of peace.  But, if you will change, on purpose, the focus of your thought life you will begin to experience what He said you can have.  I have heard it said that if you keep doing the same thing, then you will keep getting the same results.  No truer is that than here, in dealing with what you think throughout the day.

So, instead of letting all that madness overrun you, today, stand up against it.  Take control of it and capture it.  It is not allowed to have access.  For today, I declare, it is time to “Stop the madness!”

God has loved us from the beginning.

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