Lukewarm & Loving It! Francis Chan

February 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Francis Chan brings a great word that is sure to humble us. Upon listening to this I realized how lucky and wealthy I am. At the same time we are challenged, what can I do to use our resources for the Kingdom?

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Categories: Humility

Completely Credible

January 12, 2010 2 comments

The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. -Psalm 12:6 (NKJV)

When was the last time you had one of “those” conversations. You know- the kind where you walk away and something in your gut doesn’t sit well. Perhaps a vow was made, or maybe there was a smattering of flattery. On the surface everything seemed and sounded fine, but there’s that check in your gut that just won’t go away.

A day or two goes by, and you come to discover that the vow was void and the flattery was fake. The words of the person you trusted were worthless because truth was mixed with lies. You don’t know what to believe, and you’re left to wonder if there’s anyone left whose word you can trust.

Listen, you’ll never have to question or doubt God’s words. They’re pure and untainted by the falsehood and insincerity that winds its way through the human heart. When God says something, it’s absolutely true all the time-with no exceptions whatsoever. Not only is it exactly true, it’s also reliable and credible. With God, what He says is what we get.

Notice that the Psalmist compares God’s words to silver that’s been through the refining fire seven times. In the Bible, the number seven conveys the idea of perfection and completion. In this case, it acts as a sort of exclamation point. It’s saying that God’s words are perfectly pure and completely trustworthy! How reassuring to know we’ll never need to second-guess God’s words to us, which are really the most important words we’ll ever receive in this life. Man will let us down and lie to us, but God never will.

What does this passage reveal to me about God?

What does this passage reveal to me about myself?

Based on this, what changes do I need to make?

What is my prayer for today?

The Message is Greater Than the Messenger

October 20, 2009 2 comments

This is the prophecy Balaam delivered: “. . . A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel.” (Numbers 24:15-17 NLT)

Sometimes prophecies came from an unexpected source. That’s the case with the prophecy above, which was given by Balaam, who happens to be one of the more curious characters in the Bible.

He was not an Israelite but was said to be a diviner from the region of the Euphrates River. Balak, a king who was hostile toward Israel, hired Balaam to curse God’s chosen people as they wandered through the wilderness. At first, Balaam wouldn’t comply because he knew that God was with the Israelites. But Balak upped the ante, Balaam’s greed got the better of him, and he agreed to pronounce a curse upon the people of Israel.

Instead of getting a curse out of Balaam, Balak got the prophecy that a “star will rise from Jacob” and “a scepter will emerge from Israel.” In other words, a mighty King would arise out of Israel and a star would signal His coming. This is actually a prophecy pointing to Jesus Christ and adds significance to the star that led the wise men to Him ( Matthew 2:2). Moreover, Balaam went on to say that Balak’s nation, Moab, would be cursed instead of Israel (Numbers 24:17). This certainly wasn’t what Balak had paid for!

This unexpected turn of events underscores something fascinating about prophecy. It shows that God can even use a covetous mercenary like Balaam to proclaim His truth. The message is what truly matters, not the messenger who delivers it.

Balaam eventually provided Balak with a strategy to corrupt the Israelites and was killed when God called His people to do some spiritual housecleaning (Numbers 31:1-16). He stands as a tragic figure in God’s Word. And yet, even his sin wasn’t enough to prevent the prophetic word concerning Christ from being proclaimed. The message is always greater than the messenger, and in Balaam’s case, it was much greater.

Discuss and share with the group about a time when you received something significant from an unexpected source. What message did you receive from the messenger?

Dig into Numbers 24. Where do you see the difference displayed between the message and the messenger? What were the prophetic words pointing to the future? When have you compromised with the truth God has entrusted to you? What can you learn from this lesson?

Decide to be messengers to those who have given their lives to giving the message. As a group, write a letter of encouragement and support to someone on the mission field. Remind them of the importance of their faithful service and sacrifice.

Perfection or Deception

October 13, 2009 Leave a comment

“And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’; when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”-Deuteronomy 18:21-22 (NKJV)

Satan is the ultimate counterfeiter. Where there’s something of spiritual value and benefit for God’s people, you can be sure that our adversary has devised a deceptive “stand-in” to lead us astray. Prophecy is no exception. The devil was hard at work during Israel’s infancy as he sought to infect the Israelites with false prophets who said they spoke “in the name of the Lord.” His agenda? To get God’s people off-track by convincing them to follow false prophets.

The problem with counterfeits, however, is that there’s always a test to reveal their true colors. When people are patient enough to apply the appropriate test, the deception will become evident and the deceiver will be exposed. God gave the Israelites a specific test when it came to the false prophets in their midst. It was really simple. If their prophecies came to pass, they were true prophets of God. If their prophecies didn’t go down as predicted, they were to be marked as false prophets and executed. No gray ground there!

By establishing this standard, God teaches us three things. First, there will be false prophets we need to watch out for. Second, true prophecy will always have a perfect track record. And last, any prophecy containing the slightest bit of error is part of the devil’s deception. When it comes to prophecy, it’s either a matter of perfection or deception, absolute acceptance or utter rejection.

This is the standard we apply to the Bible in determining it is God’s Perfect Word. There is not a single prophecy in the Bible that has proven incorrect or inaccurate in the slightest degree, and keep in mind that nearly one-third of it is prophetic in nature! This should produce a healthy appreciation in our hearts for prophecy. May we seek out opportunities to share about the Bible’s perfect prophetic track record.

Discuss an experience where you learned something was not as you had thought. How did God teach you through this?

Dig into Deuteronomy 18:15–22. What is the true test of a prophetic utterance? What was the penalty for the false prophet, and why do you think this was the case?

Decide as a group to enjoy the blessing of prophetic preaching. Set aside a time to meet together and listen to one of the messages from the Active Word archive. Choose from hundreds of messages found at ActiveWord.org.

Follow the Template

August 17, 2009 Leave a comment

We tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.

— Colossians 1:28

My objective never has been to have a large church; it always has been to have a biblical church and a strong church. The growth is up to God.

Not every church is going to be a large church, but every church should be a growing church. On that final day, Jesus is not going to say, “Well done, good and successful servant. By the way, how many numbers were you running?” Rather, He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

I believe the church exists for three reasons: the exaltation of God, the edification of believers, and the evangelization of the world. Another way to think of it is upward, inward, and outward.

Upward. The church exists for the exaltation of God. This idea may come as a revelation to some people who think they exist to find personal happiness. The Bible says, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

Inward. The church exists for the edification of other believers. The apostle Paul said his goal was not merely to evangelize, but to warn believers, teach them the wisdom God had given him, and present them to God mature in their relationship with Christ (see Colossians 1:28).

Outward. The church is called to evangelize the world, which is the natural outgrowth of exalting God and edifying other believers. Healthy sheep will reproduce themselves.

The church is not to emphasize one of these at the expense of the other or take them out of order. You see, we are not to customize the church. We are to follow the original template Jesus gave us.

This study was prepared by Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship.

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Three Promises

May 14, 2009 3 comments

To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17 (NKJV)

After rebuking the Church of Pergamos for their spiritual compromise, Jesus ends on an encouraging note by promising them three things. He promises to sustain them with “the hidden manna,” He promises to give them a white stone, and He promises the stone will have a new name written on it. What’s the significance here?

Keep in mind that the Church of Pergamos was struggling with compromise. When you examine compromise closely, you often find that it’s based on three desires: the desire for security, the desire for approval, and the desire for an identity. We’ll lower our standards to unthinkable levels for these three things, and it’s likely that this was what was going on in the Church of Pergamos.

Jesus promises to provide all three of these things for them. He promised to be their security by providing them with hidden manna. As long as they remained true to Him, they would not lack for their basic needs. He also promised to provide them with the approval they were looking for by giving them a white stone. In biblical times, a black stone was used in legal proceedings to represents a person’s guilt and condemnation, while a white stone represented innocence and approval. Lastly, He promised to give them a sense of identity by giving them a new name, chosen by Him, that would now represent who they were in Christ.

Once we understand that our security, approval, and identity are found in Jesus, the temptation to sell out and compromise our spiritual standards loses its power. When He’s the only one we need, He becomes the only one we need to please.

Discuss with your group those things that convince you to compromise. How has the desire for security, identity, and approval motivated you to lower your standards? What lessons did you learn?

Dig into Revelation 2:17. What is the significance of “hidden manna”? How can the promise of this provision take away the temptation to compromise? How do you feel knowing that the Lord has a special name reserved in heaven for you? What would you say is the basis for your identity right now?

Decide as a group to get honest about what makes you who you are. Ask each member to identify those things that are shaping his or her identity. Spend some time looking at Ephesians Chapter 1 and other Scriptures to find “who you are” in Christ.

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Away With the Rulebook

April 8, 2009 2 comments

“And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29 (NKJV)

“Who’s my neighbor?” That was the question posed to Jesus by a man who wanted to know what it takes to get to heaven. Initially, Jesus revealed that it all came down to a love-based relationship-with God first, then man. But this wasn’t enough for this man. He wanted to know who exactly his neighbor was, as if salvation was a matter of following some sort of rulebook.

Jesus wanted to get the point across that salvation is about mercy and grace, not abiding by a checklist of rigid definitions. To do so, He shared the parable that we all know as the Parable of the Good Samaritan:

“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. A certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. A Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. A certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. and took care of him. (Luke 10:30-34 NKJV)

After painting this contrasting portrait of indifference versus compassion, Jesus springs a question on His listener:

“So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37 NKJV)

Being neighborly isn’t a matter of drawing a line of exclusion. It’s about inclusive mercy. Jesus’ point is simply this: In God’s Kingdom we’re called to put away the rulebook and allow the mercy God has shown us to flow through us to as many people as possible.

Discuss, Dig, Decide

Discuss the difference between Jesus’ outlook on life and the outlook held by the man who asks Him the question. Which outlook best reflects the view maintained by each person in your group?

Dig into Luke 10:30-37 and identify the main point Jesus is making. How does this relate to the original question posed to Him, and how does it serve as a teaching tool?

Decide as a group to be neighborly to the people God has placed in your lives. Take some practical steps to help remind you of Jesus’ outlook and perspective.

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