“SHINE!”

Photo: Pixabay/Merio

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and
more unto the perfect day,” Proverbs 4:18

Some days are glorious and some days are not.  Some days you need an umbrella and some days sunscreen.  Some days call for winter scarves and gloves, and some call for shorts and gear for swimming.  Some days are bright and beautiful, while some days never seem like they come out of the dreary season.

I would venture to say that this world is in a dreary season no matter what the temperature is outside. But you and I, we bring a taste of something better in the midst of all the gloominess. We are like the sun breaking through the clouds giving people a glimpse of hope. Our lives are as a “shining light” showing people a better way to live.

Turn on the local news in any city and most likely it is riddled with violence, tragedy, and suffering. Very rarely are there any good deeds or acts of kindness spotlighted. It seems the longer the world remains the tougher times get. The epidemic of sinfulness that began in the Garden of Eden keeps spreading and infecting men and women everywhere.

Oh, but the “just.” Those who are made right in the eyes of God we don’t walk the way of the world. We glow differently! We sport in our being the essence of the ultimate light, our Lord Jesus Christ. “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life,” (John 8:12). We have the “light of life” and we shine!

Proverbs 4:18 goes on to tell us that we shine “more and more unto the perfect day.” While we are in Christ we are getting better and better, and as a result, our light should be shining brighter and brighter. How else would this world ever get a break from always viewing the dreariness of life if we don’t shine?

Our “paths” make a difference. The things we do and the things we say show people something wonderful that they’re not used to seeing. The way we carry ourselves and our dispositions make people wonder, “What’s gotten into you?”

The light of Christ, that’s what! I can’t help but shine!

When we shine people become attracted to us like a magnetic pull. The more they see the more they may want to know what makes you glow. Then, they, in turn, may want to learn how to glow, too.

No matter what the thermometer says or what the temperatures are predicted to be.  No matter if we have sun or not, warm or cold temperatures, you can still be that ray of light shining in someone’s life today.

SHINE ON!

 

8 Encouraging Bible Verses for Not Quitting

image-137

On your marks.  Get set.  Go!  Once you have accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Savior you have officially entered the Christian race.  The prize is before you and the contest is around you and the only way to make it to the finish line is by focusing on He who paved the way ahead of you.  The struggle may seem hard at times but Jesus promised, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,” (Matthew 24:13).

Quitting is not an option and endurance is the key.  We cannot give up now.  He has brought us too far.  We must continue in our holy pursuit of Him.  May these verses help you to reach the finish line where our only prize is found in Christ.

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9

“Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

 

Sunday School Lesson – “4 Keys to Powerful Prayer” Luke 11:1-13

Photo: Pixabay/Prawny

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 11:1-13 (KJV, Public Domain)

The operation or workings of prayer have been a mystery to some through the ages.  For some prayer seems to be some mundane Christian civic duty; a check off list, if you will, of something that needs to be done.  For others, prayer seems to be elusive; difficult to understand the concept of and even more difficult to do.

Good news!  Prayer is not either of those things.  Prayer is something that is given to us as an honor; as a way to reach the heavenly Father personally, one on one.  How awesome is that?  Prayer is as essential to the Christian life as breathing or eating.  It is necessary to stay spiritually nourished in Him.

So, when Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He gladly obliged because He Himself knows the significance and power in prayer.  In this lesson, there are four key components that can help us have a more powerful prayer life.  The good news is, we’re learning from the best.  We are sitting at the feet of Jesus and taking in these points as He shares with His disciples.  Blessings ~

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

Luke 11:1 “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

One’s life speaks volumes; more than one’s words ever will.  Most people will judge you by what they see and what Jesus’ disciples saw was a man who was dedicated to prayer.  While He walked on the face of this earth, He was known for offering up “prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears,” (Hebrews 5:7).  Witnessing personally His uninhibited habit of going before the Father with His petitions and the outpourings of His soul, the disciple wanted to know more.

How awesome it is for the disciple to see such a one as He doing the miraculous and being identified as the Son of God, still find a need for prayer?  It’s huge!  It lets us know that if Jesus needed constant contact with the Father to do life on earth, then so do we.  Perhaps this is why a disciple of His questioned Him on prayer and wanted to know more on how to do it?

So, after He was finished “praying in a certain place . . . one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray.”  The Bible doesn’t tell us which disciple it was that asked, and it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is the disciple’s willingness to learn from the Master.  When one sees something genuine and real, they want more of it and want to know how it’s done.  I believe the disciple saw a treasure in prayer and longed to experience it as Jesus did.

Asking to be taught the ins and outs of this valuable resource was the beginning of a great discovery that Jesus was all too willing to share.

Below are four key points that popped out at me during this study on this model prayer that Jesus taught.  These are key elements that I believe will help boost our prayer life, taking it out of the mundane onto a platform where it makes a real difference in our lives.

KEY #1:  ONE HAS TO HAVE ACKNOWLEDGING PRAYER

Luke 11:2-4 “And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.  Give us day by day our daily bread.  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.  And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.”

When one acknowledges something or someone they are ascribing or giving them credit that they deserve.  Here, opening His teaching on prayer, Jesus jumps in without hesitation, stating, “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven.”  Now, notice first that Jesus didn’t say “if” ye pray.  He point-blank expected that His people should have an active and working prayer life so He said, “When ye pray.”

Starting with the statement, “Our Father which art in heaven,” Jesus acknowledges to whom one’s prayers should be directed.  And, in the verses following God gets the credit for everything!  This is acknowledgment.

“Our Father which art in heaven,” points one in the right direction.  There are many voices that try to offer advice and insight to the world we live and to the troubles and woes we face.  Yet, none can have the insight as He who created all things.  None is Sovereign as He to really be our champion for real change.  That can only come from He who is enthroned in heaven for all eternity; by He Whom everything takes its commands: “Our Father.”

“Our Father” describes the intimate, relational context in which God wants to be committed to us.  Did you get that?  God wants to be “Our Father” so much that Jesus, God incarnate, instructed us to address Him as such in prayer.  Man may not always step up to the plate to fill this role, but God does.  He willingly takes on the role of “Father,” meaning more than provider in my view.  He takes on the responsibility to love, care and nurture them who come to Him seeking Him as daddy.  Romans 8:15 describes it as this: “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”  This adoption is an on-purpose act of love that He is seeking to fulfill as role of “Father.”  God “will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty,” (2 Corinthians 6:18).

“Hallowed be thy name.”  Part of acknowledging prayer is respecting His holiness.  Oh, I cringe when I see people take the name of the Lord in vain.  God’s name is not like any other and should not be treated as it is.  His name is holy (Isaiah 57:15), and He is the one who “dwell in the high and holy place.”  When one invokes God’s name in prayer it is not a plaything.  We are seeking His holiness to come in on our behalf; garnering His stamp of approval.  Heaven knows how to treat His name so much that they speak the word “holy” three times: “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts,” (Isaiah 6:3).

Acknowledging prayer recognizes God’s authority, His power, His Sovereignty, His control, His kingdom and His will overall. “Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”  No wonder at the end of the parallel of this prayer found in Matthew 6:13 it states, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen.”  We should want to see the glory of God’s will take over the atmosphere of this old stale world “as in heaven.”  We should have heavenly visions of God’s power reclaiming this earth.

Acknowledging prayer recognizes that God is the provider of all.  “Give us day by day our daily bread.”  “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Corinthians 3:5).  We, as all other things created, are dependent on Him as our provider.  “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26).  God will provide.

Acknowledging prayer knows that forgiveness comes from God: “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.”  2 Chronicles 7:14 declares, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  God wants to spiritually heal people from their sin-sick ways.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).

In return, we are expected to offer forgiveness to those who ask for it.  Gulp!  Yes, forgiveness in any form can be a hard pill to swallow.  But, let me ask you this.  How many times has God said no to us whenever we sought for healing and restoration for the wrongs we have done?  Exactly, He hasn’t!  Forgiveness, much like love, is nothing to be played with.  It is not a lip service to please others rather, it is a heart service to the Lord.  It is, in a sense, showing to others the same grace and mercy that God showed toward us.  And, we acknowledge that this is His will for us.

Acknowledging prayer shows God as a deliverer: And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” God doesn’t tempt people into sin.  “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man,” (James 1:13).  Sin is a choice and so is choosing to let God lead and trusting Him to keep you in those hard times.  “O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee,” (Psalm 25:20).  “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me . . .” (Psalm 19:13).  He is a keeper to them that know Him as a deliverer and He is a protector against the ultimate enemy, the devil.

KEY #2: ONE HAS TO HAVE PERSEVERING PRAYER

Luke 11:5-8 “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?  And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.  I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him, as many as he needeth.”

The scenario is simple: it’s late in the midnight hour and someone has dropped in unexpectedly.  The problem with the scenario is due to the lateness of the hour and the unexpected nature of the visit there was not enough time to gather resources to care for this visitor.

The proposed solution: knock on the neighbor’s door who is a friend and ask for some help.  The problem with the solution: again, stating the obvious, it’s midnight.  We are in bed.  Are you trying to wake up the kids with all that knocking and yelling out there?!  “I cannot rise and give thee.”

Now, I don’t know about this neighbor, but waking up at midnight is not exactly a welcomed intrusion into my otherwise restful night.  Then, to have the audacity to show up banging on my door and asking for food at that time… well, that’s a whole other story!  But hospitality was central to the culture of the day and was expected to be doled out accordingly.

Also, in those days, sleeping arrangements were generally shared by the whole family.  Doors had big, heavy bolts that clanged and banged if moved.  To get to the bread one would have to step over kids, make noise to get the bread and bang and clang the door opened and shut again.  At this point, the whole house could easily be disturbed.

Jesus stated that the neighbor eventually will give his friend what he is asking but not because he is a friend.  He will only get up out the bed because of his “importunity;” or his persistence.

Jesus uses this scenario to teach us the power of persevering prayer.  One cannot give up so easily.  We have been afforded the privilege to come before the throne of grace “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16).  We must be persistent in that privilege.

One’s lack of persistence in prayer can be tied to a lack of faith.  Jesus told the parable of the unjust judge and the widow to illustrate His point: “Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me,” (Luke 18:5).  Jesus then asked, “Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.  Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8, emphasis mine).

A powerful key component of prayer is not to give up too quickly.

KEY #3: ONE HAS TO HAVE EXPECTANT PRAYER

Luke 11:9-10 “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

When one prays expect to receive an answer; expect to see some sort of fulfillment to come from your prayers.  Look for something to happen as a result of your praying.

He doesn’t tell us to “ask” without the expectation of receiving something.  No, He says if you do this, then this will happen; and so, it goes with the other instructions to “seek and knock.” 

Even if the answer doesn’t look the way you imagine it should, your prayers do not fall on deaf ears.  Be confident that God hears you.  God is attentive to you.  God does not leave you in a state of wanting.  David said, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want,” (Psalm 23:1).  There will be results.

When I plant a seed in the ground, I expect to see some sort of growth come out of it.  It may take a while but eventually, I should start seeing a little sprout begin to poke its head through the surface of the dirt.  As I watch it grow to full fruition, I expect to be able to reap off of what I have sown.

Your prayers are like you planting a seed, and what is being said here is that when you do these things: ask, seek and knock; growth is going to come from it.  Expect it!

The word “shall” appears as reassurance four times in just these two verses meaning this is what will happen as a result of praying in this manner.  Let me remind you that Jesus is the one who is teaching this lesson and He is the one telling us to “Ask . . . Seek . . . Knock.”  He is the one who speaks of “receiving, finding and opening” as a result of praying. 

Whatever it is, keep looking to God for the answer.  “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God,” (Philippians 4:6).  Make it known unto God and keeping making it known with the anticipation of seeing something happen.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him,” (1 John 5:14-15).  Therefore, we can expect to see results.

KEY #4: ONE HAS TO HAVE BELIEVING PRAYER

Luke 11:11-13 “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer a him a scorpion?  If ye the, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

Believe in the goodness of God.  Believe in your relationship with Him as a child of the heavenly Father.  Believe that He always seeks to give you His best (ex. John 3:16).  I often refer to God in my personal prayer as the Good Father who gives good gifts to His children.  It’s something we must hold on to and depend upon.

Believe that God knows how to answer our prayers.  I am a mom who is not perfect, but I love my children to distraction.  I want what’s best for them.  If they ask for food, surely I will not make a stone sandwich and expect them to eat.  I want them to experience good things.  I want them to be satisfied with the goodness of my house.  God is perfect in all that He is and does, so doesn’t He too have the same aspirations and love toward them that are His? He is not aloof but caring.  He is not unapproachable; rather, He invites us to ask for the good.

We have to step out of ourselves and believe with childlike faith that our heavenly Father knows and cares about our petitions that go up before Him.  This is a trust issue in our relationship with Him.  We rely on Him to supply: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:19).  He is well able and wants to answer our prayers.  “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive,” (Matthew 21:22, emphasis mine).

Believe it today.

And, the most precious gifts of all that He is more than willing to give to those who ask is the gift of the “Holy Spirit.”  We need the “Holy Spirit!”  He is our comforter (John 14:16).  He is our sealed promise (Ephesians 1:13).  “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us,” (Romans 5:5).  The “Holy Spirit” teaches us the things of God, (1 Corinthians 2:12-13).  We need the gift of the “Holy Spirit” in order to make it in this world.  Therefore, ask with a believing heart, and God will give!

Prayer is powerful!  Jesus lists key points for every believer to enrich their own prayer life.  It’s up to us to use this valuable information to the fullest.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer

Suggested Resources:

Draw the Scene: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Draw the Scene

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Prayer Journal Page

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Prayer Journal Page

Word Search: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Word Search  Answers: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Word Search Answers

Crossword: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Crossword  Answers: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Word Scramble  Answers: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Word Scramble Answers

“Prayer Chain Craft” (A simple, easy and affordable project to throw together for your students. A prayer chain becomes an easy, take-home reminder where students can link together names of people, things, and situations they are praying for.  Example below. Enjoy!)

My Project 263-001

“Prayer Book Craft”

“The Lord’s Prayer Coloring Sheet” (Younger students)

“Teach Us to Pray Maze”

“Prayer Bear” (Cute! Cute! Cute!)

“Ribbon Prayer”

“Bible Lesson: Ask, Seek, Knock”  (Wonderful object lesson)

“Knock, Knock. Who’s There?”  (Links to printables and group activities.  Enjoy!)

“Sitting Around Won’t Win the Battle!”

Photo: Pixabay/raincarnation40

“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat,” Proverbs 13:4

 All of us have goals and dreams, or at least, we should.  All of us “desire” things we would like to see accomplished in our lives.  But, desire can only get you so far.  There has to be a proactive approach in order for one to see the fulfillment of these aspirations come to pass.

I love the Bible because it gives us so many true to life examples of these valued lessons.  For instance, in 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat and his people were getting ready to be attacked.  The enemy had come against them and “Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord,” (vs. 4).

I want you to look at this picture Scripture represents.  It’s one of great sadness.  In verse 13, it describes “All Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.”  It’s as if they were saying, “If not for us, Lord; then please remember our wives and children.”  Awwww!!!

God’s response was, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s,” (vs. 15).

“That’s what I’m talking about!  We don’t have to fight!  Woo-hoo!  Let’s go home and watch some TV!”

I’m playing.  We all know they didn’t have TV, but what they probably had was a sense of relief that they didn’t need to proactively do anything to win the battle.  Time to hit the couch!

Wrong!

While God did declare the battle was His, He has never been the promoter of laziness.  Too many people want the victory without ever really doing anything.  Too many people want to reach the next level without ever having to walk up the stairs to get there.

It’s too much work!  Too many people get in prayer lines and the like; want God to do everything without themselves ever putting a hand to the plow to till something up.

God works in miraculous ways.  God is a prayer answering God.  Jehoshaphat and his people will find both of these to be true.  He’s going to work a miracle and they are going to get a tremendous answer to their prayer.  But, God has something that He wants them to do.  He said, “To morrow go ye down against them . . . ye shall find them,” (vs. 16).

GULP!

Then God reiterates, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle,” (vs. 17).

Yeah!

Then, He proceeded to tell them, “set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you… go out against them…,” (vs. 17).

Hold up!  Wait a minute!  If the battle belongs to God, I don’t understand why I have to go down there and set myself up like I am sure enough going to fight these people.  Huh?

Because God said so.  That’s why many of us lose out.  We want to sit on the couch instead of getting up and following the instructions He gives.  The “sluggard” wants the glory without the work.

In opposite of that, he that is diligent pushes forth to follow through.  Sometimes it’s a hard thing to do.  These people were put in the terrifying position to get in battle formation before the enemy; in front of people who were ready to annihilate them.  Gulp is right!

Yet, they maintained their ground believing God’s promise.  Verses 18-22a tell of the people actively praising God.  Then, the tables turned on the enemies, (vs. 22b).  “Every one helped to destroy another,” (vs. 23), and “none escaped,” (vs. 24).

The result they received was due to their diligence to follow through with the Lord’s instructions.  “Jehoshaphat and his people came to take  away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days gathering the spoil, it was so much,” (vs. 25).

You may not have to go fight an enemy but you have a goal to reach that will only come by diligence and obedience to God.  I’m not promising you riches, but know this; any time you are diligent to work with God you will see success at the end.

Seek the Lord, He will help you to receive that “expectant end” Jeremiah speaks of, Jeremiah 29:11.  Then, we can rejoice like Jehoshaphat because we saw the fruition of hard work pay off.

“The soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

“My Promise is Coming!”

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall
speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come,
it will not tarry,” Habakkuk 2:3, KJV

I’m excited!!!! It’s coming!!!! It can’t hold off too much longer!!! It’s almost here!!!

I see something that has me positively giddy.  BUDS!!!  That’s right, tree buds!  Oh, does it get me worked up.  When I see those pretty little things start to form on the end of barren tree branches it sets my soul soaring because I know spring has sprung.  The season has come.  It couldn’t hold off forever no matter how dim and dismal the weather may seem right now.

This anticipation is much like our spiritual lives.  We know the promises of God.  We read them daily in His Word.  We have rehearsed some of them.  Bound them in our hearts.  Hold with a death grip on them.  Yet, they are not here at this moment.  But, it’s coming!

Often times the branches of hope in our lives can seem so barren as if no fruit or leaves will ever produce on them again; dry and lifeless things just blowing in the wind.  But, it can’t stay like that forever.  There is hope on the horizon that the promise of new life and productivity will once again blossom for you and me, bringing to pass the vision that God has for you in your life.

The Bible tells us, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  We don’t know why we often seem to be in a holding pattern but we can be assured that during the process God is working out His purpose in the midst of it all.

“Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come!”  When God appoints the process to be done and the vision plan to initiate, it CAN NOT hold off.  It has to COME!  I know, I know!  It’s the waiting part that’s hard – tell me about it!  But as a mother carrying a child, the vision has to be birthed when the term is up.  It can’t stay in that holding pattern for long.  It has to come forth.  It’s coming!

Do you want to know something else?  One day I heard the birds chirping.  A sure sign that Spring has arrived.  Pretty soon I’ll be planting flowers and such but right now I’m giddy over the fact of the potential for what’s on the way.  It’s coming!

What are you waiting for today?  The Bible says, “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,” Psalm 84:11.  God is not our magic genie but He is a promise keeper.  “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations,” Deuteronomy 7:9.  If it’s in His will and we are doing what we are supposed to be doing – It’s Coming!

We have a hope to hold on to today.  Though we may not see it at this moment, the signs are around us.  My promise is coming!  “It will surely come and will not tarry!”  Don’t Give Up!

SAY TO YOURSELF, “MY PROMISE IS COMING!”

Text Free Photo Source: Pixabay

“Greater Is He!”

Photo: Pixabay/go_see

Greater is He that is in me!

The life inside that I cannot see.

Only feel with the passion and the burn

Love from the cross that flows unearned.

 

Glowing embers His spirit unfolds.

Power inside of stories untold!

Ripping away all the fear and frights;

Layering on His love’s holy light.

 

The life inside has been swept and cleaned

By the Master who defeats enemies unseen.

Foes tremble, their strength can’t compare,

‘Cause greater is He now resides there.

“Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world,” 1 John 4:4

Sunday School Lesson – “Zacchaeus Meets Jesus” Luke 19:1-10

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 19:1-10 (KJV, Public Domain)

Can wealth make you happy?  Many people seem to think so.  They pursue it as if this will be the answer to all their troubles.  While money in and of itself isn’t bad, one’s attitude toward it can be.  If it becomes the main focus of life and is managing you more than you are managing it, then it’s a possibility that there’s a problem.

The fact is many people every day look at money, prestige, titles and the like as a gold access card to carry them through life; depending on it to be there to fill every need imaginable.  For some, it may not be money rather it may be certain people and vices that have this hold on them.  But, when the truth of it all boils down to nothing, often the pursuer of such things still find they have an unanswered void that remains in their life.

Material things and people can only take you so far in life.  Not until we meet Jesus face to face; not until we see Him for who He is in our own lives and depend on Him for salvation and to fill that void, do we find the peace and rest that our souls so desire.

Zacchaeus was such a man in today’s lesson.  He had money.  He had a title.  But his life was not all that it cracked up to be.  On the outside, it may appear that he had everything going for him.  But, on the inside, there was something still missing; something that drew him to want to be where Jesus was on that day of their meeting.

No matter how bad a sinner someone is considered to be, or the negative way people view them when they meet Jesus with a surrendered heart, their life can be changed.

Lesson Summary

Luke 19:1-4 “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.”

Being a “publican” (tax collector) is a title that left an awful aftertaste in the mouth of the ancient Jewish people.  Due to their role in extorting monies from their fellow countrymen and working side by side with the occupying forces of the enemy Romans, this made them especially despised in the eyes of their own people.  And, he who would dare to be considered “chief” among these could be looked on possibly as a chief sinner as well.  His sins against his people were even greater considering he most likely came to that position through bidding with the enemy for the right to tax his own people and to hold back monies for himself adding to his “rich” status.

Yet, it is the same man such as the one described above who hears of Jesus coming to town and wants to get a better view of Him.  The Bible doesn’t specify his cause for wanting to be near to Jesus when He comes, but the fact that he went through great lengths to gain a bird’s eye view is nothing to sneeze at.  Something (as we say, but know it had to have been the Lord), was working on the inside to draw this man closer to where the Savior would be for a divinely appointed encounter that would change his life forever.

“He sought to see Jesus who he was.”  At this point in His ministry, Jesus is coming to the end of His course on this earth.  By now many people in many cities have seen or at the very least heard of this man who teaches with such power and authority; a man who raises the dead and opens the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf.  Some identified Him as a man who restores the lepers to a whole state and frees people from spiritual bondage.  Some thought of Him as John the Baptist come back to life or Elijah or one of the prophets (see Mark 8:28).  Very few saw Him for who He really was – the “Christ,” the Son of God (see Mark 8:29), who came with a divine mission to save mankind from his sins.

With such a reputation preceding Him it is not surprising that when He comes to town people want to clamor to at least get a glimpse of Him to see “who he was,” even this publican.  Was it mere curiosity or was there something more going on in the heart of Zacchaeus?  We may never know what started his pursuit to be near Jesus, but we are sure told how the story ends – and that, my friends, is the best and most important part of it all.

With the crowds forming Zacchaeus’ size posed a problem in his desire to see Jesus better.  It is recorded that he was “little of stature,” meaning he was shorter than the average males present there.  We are not told exactly how tall he was, but it had to have been significant to point out as a hindrance to see Jesus.

With that, “he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.”  Although I am a girl, climbing trees used to be one of my favorite things to do as a child.  I mean, literally, almost every day we were climbing trees.  We would pretend this tree was my house and that one was yours and so on.  Oh, for the imagination of youth…

Yet, it was not imagination that drove Zacchaeus, but a real-life desire.  Determined to not let anyone or anything get in his way, in the most undignified fashion imaginable for a grown man who had the status of “chief publican”, he acted as a school-aged boy and climbed a tree just to see Jesus.

What lengths do we go through to be near Jesus?  Our western culture offers us opportunities that others may not be privileged to, and yet how do we use our unrestricted access of the Lord?  Perhaps if we were forced into hiding just to worship, we would understand the simple desire to climb a tree to see Jesus.

A clear vision of Jesus, no matter where we find ourselves in life, is imperative to our Christian faith.  It requires determination and commitment to be where He is.  The question is, “How bad do you want Him?”

Zacchaeus didn’t know Jesus personally, yet, but from what he heard he, a sinner, had a made-up mind to find out more, even if it meant suffering the scoffing of others.  Not caring what they thought, he mounted the “sycomore tree” branches that went out some, giving him the perfect place to perch himself for a better vantage point to see Jesus.

Luke 19:5-6 “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.  And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.”

Jesus has always had an amazing focus for people.  He had a perspective of souls that others couldn’t possibly see on the outside.  When they looked at Zacchaeus all they saw was his sins and with condemning attitudes brushed him off as not being worthy of their time.  After all, he consorted with the enemy, so why should they.

Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t see him or us that way.  Outward markers that try to identify us are not what He’s most concerned with.  I have always said that He is more interested in what goes on inside.  Jesus pays attention to the needs of the inner man that the whole man might be saved.  Inside every real person is a real soul that needs to be filled by the Lord Jesus Christ.

What would it have been like to be the most unwelcome guest at the party, but the honoree comes along to point you out and elevate you above all others in attendance?  Sweet!   This is something akin to the way I believe Zacchaeus must have felt when, despite the crowds of “worthy” people in the press, Jesus centered on him alone, saying, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.”

I love this because it really personifies what Jesus taught when He told the parable of the lost sheep saying, “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:4).  This was a picture of Jesus caring enough about each individual to go after that one soul.  Make no mistake about it, Jesus cares about you personally.

It was simply unheard of for a rabbi or a holy man to go to the house of a sinner such as him.  Being the Savior that He was, Jesus often ruffled the feathers of other’s opinions in a desire to draw people closer to Himself.  This was not the first time His actions upended other’s views.  Earlier, explaining His choice to eat with sinners, Jesus taught, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick,” (Luke 5:31).  Jesus was not, and has never, and never will entertain sin.  Please get that right.  However, Jesus knows that people from all manner of life need a Savior regardless of how the rest of the world views them.

Sticking to His guns, as we would dub it modern terminology, Jesus invites Himself to Zacchaeus’ house.  Zacchaeus surely knows how people viewed him.  He probably would have never thought to ask Jesus to come but Jesus has opened the door and called to him out of the crowds.  Quickly he came down from that tree and “received him joyfully.”

He had something to be happy about.  Jesus chose to be with him out of everyone else.  The world had written him off as a no good, no good.  But, not Jesus.  There’s a phrase that most are familiar with called “carpe diem,” which many interpret as “seize the day.”  It means don’t let this moment go by.  Take hold of what is presented before you before it slips through your fingers.  It may never come around again.  He must take a step of faith now.

Zacchaeus saw Jesus before him.  Zacchaeus received Jesus’ beckoning to allow Him to come to his house.  There are a lot of spiritual underlying references here.  The Bible tells us to “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near,” (Isaiah 55:6).  The time is now.  The day is at hand.  For anyone who wants to be saved, tomorrow is not promised.  When Jesus knocks at the door of your heart, right now is the time to open it and let Him in; to receive Him joyfully.

The Bible also lets us know, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,” (John 1:12).  What would have happened if Zacchaeus would have denied Jesus’ request?  Little did he know that Jesus was making His way closer to the cross to be sacrificed for the sins of all mankind past, present, and future.  Jesus would not come through here again.  This was the time to receive Him.  It was not going to come around once more.  He would have missed out on the best life-altering experience there is.  Don’t let it be said too late.

Luke 19:7 “And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.”

The others in the crowd complained when they saw the interaction between Jesus and Zacchaeus.  It is amazing, that despite the grace of God in each individual life, how we can get selfish and nick pick when God wants to do something for someone else.

People talk about what they don’t understand.  God said in Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD,” (55:8).  They couldn’t understand why Jesus would want to even talk to the likes of this tax collector, better yet, why He would want to go to his house.  They couldn’t understand that Jesus looks beyond what people are right now and sees what they can become.  They couldn’t comprehend that love, grace, and mercy were at work there that day and every day to any and all who would receive Him joyfully. He might be classified as a “sinner” right now, but before this event is over with, he shall be called a child of God.

Luke 19:8-10 “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

A changed heart is reflected by changed actions.  What people witness in your life will resound more than the words that are coming out of your mouth.  Something remarkable transpired there that day between Zacchaeus and Jesus.  We don’t know exactly what, but at the end of the day, Zacchaeus was a new man.  The art of greed and getting over on people to make a quick buck were no longer his priorities.  His priority now was living right before the Lord.  And with that, he seeks to pay back some of the wrongs he has committed toward his fellow man.

He offers, of his own accord, to give half of his goods to the poor.  This was not something that was required but wholly testifies to the new nature his heart has undergone.  You can never be saved by your works, but faith without works is dead (James 2:17,20,26).  What has transpired on the inside should be made manifest on the outside.

For this man, who gained his wealth by stealing and extortion, sought means along those same lines to recompense his wrongdoings.  Therefore, anything he had taken from any person through the means of “false accusation” Zacchaeus promised to “restore him fourfold.”  He was ready, and his heart was in proper position, to go above and beyond what was necessary to work to undo some of the wrongs he had done.  

Jesus, the true teller of a true heart transformation proclaims, “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”  True repentance is an inside job.  Faith is personal and Jesus knew, not from his giving, but because He is the only one who can see where man can’t, that this man is a new creature with a new nature.  Jesus knows this man is fit for salvation, and as Zacchaeus received Him with joy into his home, Jesus gladly welcomes this repentant man into the family of faith.

Isaiah tells us, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon,” (55:7).  And, this is what we see play out in Zacchaeus’ story.

God has from the beginning always sought the side of pardon.  Man has often gone in the opposite direction.  But, when one wants to make that spiritual U-turn in life and gets back on the right path where He is, God does not reject him.  God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9).  And, “He that believeth on him is not condemned,” (John 3:18).

The murmurers and complainers had condemned him already, but Jesus saw more.  He was still a child of promise, the seed of Abraham (compare to those of us who are now in Christ, who through faith are now the seed of Abraham as well – see Galatians 3:7,16,26), just as they were, and if he was truly repentant, he deserved another chance. Earlier Jesus taught, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” (Matthew 9:13; compare to Paul’s personal testimony in 1 Tim. 1:15).  And, judging by Zacchaeus’ outcome, I’d say, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Changed hearts and changed lives are what Jesus’ ministry is all about.  He didn’t wash His hands of him and consider him out of the game.  Rather, He sought for that lost soul, stating, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” 

Jesus’ life was marked with the undeniable cause to save men from their sins; to redeem a people unto God.  The ministry that He operated in would heal; bring peace and deliverance, eventually fulfilling all through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross.  “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved,” (John 3:17; see also 1 John 4:14).

Conclusion

Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”  Zacchaeus joyfully received Jesus with faith.  Will you?

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Zacchaeus Meets Jesus

Suggested Activities:

Object Lesson: “Gum and Money Object Lesson” video 

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Jesus Christ is a Personal Savior

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus Christ is a Personal Savior

Blank Journal Pages:  Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Word Search: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Word Search  Answers: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Word Search Answers

Crossword: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Crossword  Answers: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Word Scramble  Answers: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Memory Verse

How Many Words: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus How Many Words

“A Little Man with a Big Problem”

“Tree Paper Craft”

“Jesus and Zacchaeus Bible Lesson”

“Zacchaeus is Found”

“Zacchaeus Come Down”

 

 

God Gets Personal!

 

Photo: Pixabay/StockSnap

Omnipresent and personal, those words are kind of an oxymoron, don’t you think?  Yet, that’s what God is known as.  He is never kept within the walls of the status quo erected by the human mindset anyways.

Yes, omnipresent (everywhere at the same time) and personal (individually based)  are contradictory in the finite statement of the human mind, but not in the loving nature of God.  When we think of omnipresent we think of God’s work as being far-reaching.  He can extend His love, power, and authority through an infinite number of channels to touch an infinite number of lives all at the same time.  Yet, the heart and life of each individual soul are precious to Him.  You and I are a special creation to Him.  Fashioned uniquely.  Designed particularly to be you.  And, loved personally.

This is a role only God can fill.  He can govern the universe while at the same time lean in close to hear from you; paying special attention to just you.

So, if you feel lost in the vastness of all that is going on in your world today, be encouraged.  The same God that is running everything also has His eyes focused on you personally.  The same God that is everywhere all at once is reaching specifically to your heart.  And, there He gets personal with you.

 

The Anointing Breaks the Yoke! | An Isaiah 10:27 Prayer

Father God, we know Your Word declares that it is the anointing that destroys the yoke that tries to bind Your people (Is. 10:27). We are praying that You would rain down Your anointing this day and break every chain that tries to hold Your people down. We pray for release to walk in the power of all You have declared for us over our lives. We believe in You! We know that You are at work on our case even as speak. You are our hope and confidence in everything we face. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Text Free Photo Credit: Pixabay

“Again!”

 

God can do it again!

God can restore again!

God can touch your land again!

God can cause fruit to grow in your life again!

God can turn your captivity into prosperity again!

God can do it for you even when it seems all hope is lost again!

Our God specializes in restoration, healing relationships with Him again!

He majors in turning the ashes of our lives into something beautiful again!

Turn to God because He can do it for you again!

“For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.” (Jeremiah 32:15)

Photo: Pixabay