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Archive for July, 2012

Jeremiah 31:31-34

The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,’ declares the LORD. ‘This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ?Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the LORD. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’

That’s right. The time is coming when I will make a brand-new covenant with Israel and Judah. It won’t be a repeat of the covenant I made with their an cestors when I took their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant even though I did my part as their Master.’ God’s Decree. -‘This is the brand-new covenant that I will make with Israel when the time comes. I will put my law within them–write it on their hearts!–and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about God. They’ll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I’ll forget they ever sinned!’ God’s Decree.

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Kids Bible Study 8-2-2012

A Crooked Woman Healed; The Prodigal Son

Luke 13:11 to Luke 15:32

In the parable Jesus told, the Prodigal Son is lowered to caring for a farmer’s hogs.

JESUS NOW TAUGHT in the cities and villages where the seventy had gone to preach and to heal the sick. In one city he found a crooked woman in the synagog on the Sabbath-day. This poor woman had not been able to straighten herself for eighteen years, but was stopped over in a pitiful manner.

When Jesus saw her he pitied her. Calling her to him, he said, “Woman, you are set free from this infirmity, which has bound you so many years.” Then he laid his hands upon her bent back and immediately she was able to stand straight again.

The woman was very happy, and she praised God because she had been made well. But the ruler of the synagog was displeased with Jesus for healing her on the Sabbath. He said, “There are six days when men ought to work; therefore let the sick come to be healed on those days, and not on the Sabbath.”

But Jesus replied, “You are only pretending to be careful to please God. Do you not loose your ox and your ass and lead them to water on the Sabbath day? And should not this poor woman, who is a daughter of Abraham, be loosed on the Sabbath-day from this infirmity with which she has been bound by Satan for eighteen years?”

The enemies of Jesus were ashamed when they heard his wise reply, and the other people praised God with loud voices because they had seen his wonderful works.

One day some of the Pharisees came to Jesus and pretended to be friendly. They told him that Herod, the King, was seeking to take his life just as he had caused John the Baptist to be put to death. They urged Jesus to leave the country at once, and go far away, lest herod find him and kill him. They hoped in this manner to be rid of Jesus.

But Jesus did not feel afraid of Herod. He knew that his greatest enemies were among the Jews, and among the religious rulers of the Jews. They hated him because he taught the poor people and because he told them about their sins.

Now he said to these Pharisees: “Go to Herod and tell him that I cast out evil spirits and heal the sick today and tomorrow, and on the third day, I shall be made perfect. For I must walk today and tomorrow and even the day following, for it can not be that a prophet shall perish outside of Jerusalem.” Jesus meant that just as the Jews had killed God’s prophets in other days, so they and not Herod would cause him to be put to death.

Many publicans and sinners followed Jesus, to hear his words. And the Pharisees and scribes found fault, saying, “This man receives sinners and even eats with them.”

Jesus knew how they were complaining about him, and he spoke to the people by parables. First he told them the parable about the Lost Sheep. Because the Jews kept many sheep he knew they would understand the story.

“What man of you,” he asked, “having a hundred sheep would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and seek for the one that was lost? And when he finds it he will bring it back and rejoice more over the sheep than over the ninety-nine which did not wander away. So it is in heaven when a sinner repents and forsakes his sins; there is more rejoicing over him than over ninety-nine just persons who have no sin.”

There were women in the crowd listening to Jesus’ words. And Jesus saw them there, so he told a story which they might understand. “What woman,”he asked, “having ten pieces of silver and losing one of them will not forget about the nine and search carefully through the house until she find the missing piece? And when she finds it she tells her neighbors and friends, and asks them to rejoice with her because she has found the piece that was lost. So also,” said Jesus, “there is rejoicing in heaven when one lost sinner comes to God.

Both the men and the women were listening very carefully now, and Jesus told the parable about the unthankful son who left his father’s house and went to live among strangers. This is the story:

“A certain man had two sons, and the younger son was not contented to remain at home with his father and his brother. He asked that his father divide the money which would some day be given to him and to his brother and give to him at once the part that would be his. So the father divided the money, and the younger son took his part and went away. He thought he was very rich, and he spent his money freely. He enjoyed every pleasure that he knew, and he seemed to have many friends. But after a while he spent all his money and he had nothing left. Then he grew hungry; but his friends left him and refused to help.

“In his trouble the young man offered to care for a farmer’s hogs, but he could scarcely keep from starving. And no man pitied him, or gave him any decent food to eat.

“Then the young man remembered his father, and the hired servants who worked in his father’s house. He knew those servants were well cared for. He decided to return to his father’s house and ask to be made a servant there. So he returned to his home country to beg his father’s forgiveness and to ask permission to be only a servant in the old home.

“That father loved his wandering boy, and his heart was sad when the boy left him to live among strangers. Every day he longed for the boy to come back. And when at last he saw his son coming, clothed in rags, he ran out to meet him and wept for joy. The boy began to speak; he said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you–‘; but he had no opportunity to tell the father how he wished to become a servant in the old home, for the father commanded a servant to go quickly and bring the best clothes and dress the young man in them, and to prepare a feast of gladness, for the lost had been found.

“The elder son was in the field at work. When he returned to the house and saw the excitement he asked the servants what had happened. They told him that his brother had come back again. And the elder son was displeased and would not go in to see his brother. Then his father came out and told him the glad news, but still he was displeased. ‘I have served you faithfully all these years and you do not rejoice over me,’ said the unhappy man, ‘and now when my brother comes back from his riotous living you rejoice greatly over him.’

“Now the father understood that his elder son was jealous of his brother. He said, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that I have is yours. Whenever you wished you could prepare a feast; but your brother has been to me like one dead, and now he is alive again. And it is right that we should be merry because he has returned to be with us again; for he was lost, but is found.'”

Prayer 8-2-2012

Dear Father, thank you for all you have given me. Today, I offer up my time, talent, and treasure to your kingdom. Show me how I can serve you and bless others.

In Jesus’ name
Amen

Bible Study 8-2-2012

Psalm 48:1-14

1 Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise,
in the city of our God, his holy mountain.

2 Beautiful in its loftiness,
the joy of the whole earth,
like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion,
the city of the Great King.

3 God is in her citadels;
he has shown himself to be her fortress.

4 When the kings joined forces,
when they advanced together,

5 they saw her and were astounded;
they fled in terror.

6 Trembling seized them there,
pain like that of a woman in labor.

7 You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish
shattered by an east wind.

8 As we have heard,
so we have seen
in the city of the LORD Almighty,
in the city of our God:
God makes her secure
forever.

9 Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.

10 Like your name, O God,
your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is filled with righteousness.

11 Mount Zion rejoices,
the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments.

12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
count her towers,

13 consider well her ramparts,
view her citadels,
that you may tell of them
to the next generation.

14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end.

Many Jews made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate when they heard about Hezekiah’s great victory over Sennacherib (II Kings 18,19). Christians today are citizens of the heavenly Zion and are also making a pilgrimage (Heb. 12:18-24).

As pilgrims, we talk about Zion (vv. 1-3). We talk about the God who has made Zion great and about His protection. We talk about Zion’s beauty. Spiritually, Zion is the joy of the whole earth (Gen. 12:1-3).

As pilgrims, we see Zion (vv. 4-8). We look to Jerusalem and are encouraged in our faith. Hezekiah had no way to fight the Assyrians, but he had the Lord. He spread a blasphemous letter from the Assyrians before the Lord and turned everything over to Him. God acted. The Assyrian army was outside, waiting to plunder the city, but they were gone as suddenly as a woman who is taken by childbirth (v. 5). When we’re in the will of God, we have His protection.

As pilgrims, we enter Zion (vv. 9-11). The Jews went to the temple first. It’s good to ponder history. I trust that when you are at church you think about God’s lovingkindness and about taking His praise to the ends of the earth (v. 10). We have a greater victory to share with the earth: our Lord Jesus died for us and has risen again.

As pilgrims, we walk about Zion (vv. 12-14). This is a triumphant procession of praise. When Nehemiah rededicated the wall, two choirs walked around the wall and met (Neh. 12:27-47). Appreciate what you have and what God has done for you, that you may tell the following generation. Unfortunately, the people of Israel did not stay faithful (Lam. 2:15). Let’s be careful that we don’t take our blessings for granted.

You are making a pilgrimage to the heavenly Zion. Be encouraged, for you have God’s protection. That you are on a pilgrimage should be evident in your daily living. Praise Him for what He has done for you.

A beginner’s prayers are generally an attempt to get God to pay attention to his wants. As we grow in grace, prayer becomes an attempt to turn our attention to God. His kingdom becomes our reference point for every matter that concerns us. Will this thing further or hinder the working of the will of God in me, in those I pray for, in these situations? What is on my mind today? Let me bring it at once into the light of God’s countenance, refer it to his scrutiny, lay it (and my heart with it) open before Him. If I am not prepared to submit something, I am interested in myself, not in the kingdom. “Set your mind on God’s kingdom and His justice before everything else, and all the rest will come to you as well”(Mt 6:33 NEB).

Our dilemma

Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.

Got big dreams and grandiose plans?

Share them with God.  He’s interested in you.  Seek to develop a plan for how you might achieve those dreams or realize your goals.  God places dreams, talents, hobbies, and desires in us for a reason.  How might you be able to start the process of realizing a more fulfilling life today?

Stephen

[Stē’phen] — wreath or crown. One of the seven primitive disciples chosen to serve tables. Stephen was the most prominent of these. Although called to supervise benevolences, he overleaped the limitations of his task and became a powerful preacher. He was also the first martyr of the Christian Church, being stoned to death by the Jews
Acts 6:5-9: – This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.
Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia —who began to argue with Stephen.

Acts 7:59: – 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Acts 11:19: – 19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killedtraveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews.

Acts 22:20: – 20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’

The Man with an Angel Face

The remarkable defense of Stephen in which he summarized Old Testament teachings provoked the Jewish leaders so much that they cast him out of the city and brutally stoned him to death. God, however, can make the wrath of man to praise Him, thus the prominent fruit of Stephen’s martyrdom was the conviction and conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who witnessed Stephen’s illegal murder, unsanctioned by Roman law. Stephen’s character is worthy of emulation. He was a man:

Full of Faith — no room for doubt or fear in his heart (Acts 6:5: – This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism).

Full of Grace — a gift from God proving itself in graciousness (Acts 6:8: – Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people).

Full of Power — the ability of God to do things (Acts 6:8: – Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people).

Full of Light — the Holy Spirit within gave him the face of an angel (Acts 6:15: – 15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel).

Full of Scripture — Stephen covered history from Abraham to Christ.

Full of Wisdom
Acts 6:3: – Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them.

Acts 6:10: – 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.
wisdom from above (Jas. 1:5: – If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you).

Full of Courage — the face and fear of man did not trouble Stephen
Acts 7:51-56: – 51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!
52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him,
53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”
54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.
55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

Full of Love — the stones broke Stephen’s head but not his heart. Grace was his to forgive his murderers (Acts 7:60: – 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep).

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