Sunday, March 13, 2016

Inductive Bible Study March 11

Friday March 11, 2016

Matthew 18:15
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.”

People have feelings. If you push someone the wrong way, they will react, but if you handle it properly you can prevent a flood of anger. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Relationships are too precious to mess up. Something so small can turn into a huge conflict just because someone says something the wrong way or lashes out a little anger on someone else.

Matthew 18 is a great guideline to preserving peace in relationships. Early in the chapter, Jesus warns us that we need to be sensitive in how we deal with children and those who are lost. If we cause someone to stumble because we can’t exercise love, we’d be better off never even coming into the picture. Then in verse 15, we are told to deal with strife privately and reconcile if possible. But, if you can’t reconcile with that person, then it would become appropriate to bring other people into the picture. In verse 16 it says, “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.” So, if you can’t reconcile with a person privately because the other person isn’t willing, then other people should get involved. Towards the end of chapter, we are told to be forgiving of others. If we don’t forgive our brothers for what they’ve done against us, God will not give us grace. God has given us so much grace that we should be compelled to extend that grace to anyone else who offends us.

Being someone who usually won’t say anything when strife comes up, I realize that I need to heed the words of Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” Often by not saying anything, I have stirred up strife in itself. Either by not being forgiving or showing an attitude of anger towards someone, I have non-verbally communicated something in opposition of love. I have come to understand this about myself recently. Simply by opening my mouth with a soft answer, I can prevent a lot of confusion and anger among others.

Prayer: Help me to be more open with my brothers and find people I can trust and begin building that trust with them.

Helping Those Who Can't Help You Back

Wednesday March 9, 2016

Romans 12:15

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Walking in unity should be a constant state. Unfortunately, most people will only be there in your times of rejoicing. As soon as your life goes downhill, many if not all will abandon you. Romans 12:15 is a call to be there for those who rejoice, as well as those who weep. The following verse says, “Be of the same mind toward one another.” This doesn’t just mean among friends but all people. We always hold our friends on a higher level of importance than those who are on the “outside.” However, God wants us to treat everyone with the same mind. Even your enemies are included in this.

Luke 6:32-36 says,

“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”

I serve a merciful God. He’s a God who is kind to even the worst of people. He gives us a freewill and allows us to suffer the consequences of our own actions. However, to be a son of Him, we need to walk in the light, helping those who can’t return the favor. It is better to give to those who can’t give back. Most of my friends are capable of returning the favor when I do something for them. That’s one of the reasons we are such good friends. When one of us is down, we help each other back up, but it’s usually based on a past obligation. If one of us pays for lunch or gasoline, the other is sure to return the favor. It’s great to have those relationships, but God rewards us for helping those who are incapable of repaying us for our help.

It can be such a joy to give without receiving anything back. Sometimes it almost hurts though, because we are so used to receiving. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” God is the God who rewards what is done in secret. If we give openly, we will have our reward right then and there, but if we give in secret, God will reward us in a much more satisfying way.

As Acts 20:35 says, “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Application: Today I am going to do something for someone who can’t help me. As I am in Antigua, Guatemala, there are many poor people who are incapable of doing anything to give back. Also, I am going to ask the Lord that He would help me to give with the right heart, not to make myself feel better or get noticed by someone else, but out of gratitude to God who has had incredible mercy on me. All I am doing is sharing the mercy that God has shown me.

Inductive Bible Study March 8

Tuesday March 8, 2016

1 John 1:5-7

This message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

I want to walk in the light. As a sinner, I can’t deceive myself by saying I have no sin. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” The first step to entering into fellowship with God is admitting who we really are, sinners. Confessing this to God, we are forgiven and cleansed from our sin. By confessing our sins, His word is now in us. This word means living in the light in fellowship with Him. Another bonus to walking in the light is having fellowship with one another. In chapter 2, verse 10, it says, “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” Jesus’ two commandments are that we love God and love our neighbor. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light,” as 1 John 1:7 says, “we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

As a Christian, this light is not always in me. Sometimes I deceive myself and say that I am walking with God, even though I have not confessed my sins. I have to come back to God so I can walk in the light again. 1 John 2:1 says, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” I do not lose my salvation after I’ve put my faith in Him, but I can walk out of fellowship. I do not want to enter into heaven on a thread. I want my salvation to be assured, without any doubts. Verse 28 of 1 John 2 says, “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” I want to have this confidence, without any shame, when Jesus appears again at the end of the age when He comes.

Application: Today I want to truly be in fellowship with God and with others. I don’t want to walk in darkness, with blinded eyes. I want to be confident in my salvation, without any shame. Today I am going to set aside an hour of my day to seek God and pray for this fellowship.

Inductive Bible Study March 7

Monday March 7, 2016

Amos 3:3
Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?

This sounds like common sense. Many people who don’t even know the Bible would see this verse and see that there is wisdom in it. The book of Amos is God correcting Israel for going the way of the world. God wanted Israel to return to Him and His commandments, but they hardened their hearts. This question, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” is signifying how Israel’s sin has separated them from God. Throughout the Bible, the pattern is seen that when Israel was walking with the Lord, they were obeying God’s commands and giving Him the glory. When they were not walking with the Lord, they were disobeying God’s commands and giving themselves the glory.

In these days, we can look at ourselves in the same way God saw Israel in the book of Amos. When we are disobeying God, we are not walking with the Lord. Only when we are living in agreement with God and obeying His commands, we find that we are walking with the Lord. God wanted to pour out His grace on His people, but their hearts were hardened. It’s similar to a friendship that is broken. Sometimes we have a friend that we have come to be close with, but they begin going down a dark path. The unity becomes broken because the two friends are not living in agreement. The good friend is trying to amend the friendship, but the other friend is going astray because they refuse to put their selfishness to the side. It hurts so much to see a friend walk out of union because they are too selfish to make things right. Just like God to the Israelites, we can warn our friends and even try to make amendment to them. Sometimes it just doesn’t work because two people can’t walk together if they do not have unity. I have had to reject friends in the past because they refused to give up their selfishness and make things right, even though I had done my part to make things right.

Application: I want to walk in unity with my friends. When things come up that try to break that unity, I want to be so united that the bond can’t be broken. For the next seven months I am going to be with three others guys, Chris, Christian, and Ryan. I want us to be a team that can’t be broken. There may be many things that will come against us, so I want to be on good terms with them. When we all come back together tonight, I am going to talk it out with them and do my part in building up our unity by discussing how we can build each other up.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Inductive Bible Study March 4

IBS Friday March 4

Luke 12:37-40

“Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

This passage is saying that if we are found watching when God returns, we will be blessed. We should always be on the watch so that we can stop the thief from breaking into the house. Jesus, our Master, will come at a time we don’t expect. This verse is a call to be ready. Being ready means being faithful in where God’s placed you at any given moment, assured that He will be coming at any time. Matthew 24:45-47 says, “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.” 

We are assured of this. We can have confidence that if we are faithful over the house that God has given us to rule over while we wait for His return, that when He does return and find us doing well, we will be greatly rewarded. If we are not walking faithfully in what we’ve been entrusted, there’s no condemnation because we are in Christ Jesus. Yet, we are called into a deeper relationship than just simply believing, which still results in salvation. But, God wants to give us so much more than the basic things.

Psalm 1 explains this higher calling,

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

The household that God has made us ruler over is His church. We are asked to “feed” this house. Being faithful and wise as a servant of God, we will be blessed as we feed this household. It may not mean any visible blessings that the world is so accustomed to expecting, but our reward will be great in heaven.

As a child, I used to wait so anxiously for when my Dad came home from his business. Every day I eagerly waited in the front of our house for when he came home. When I saw the reflection of his truck as he pulled in the driveway, I would run outside to give him a hug. There was never a day where I wasn’t excited to see my dad come home from working. I’d make sure I had all my chores done before so that when he came home we could go out to the motorcycle garage and spend some time together and even take the dirtbikes to the track. In the same way, I should have this kind of a relationship with my heavenly Father.

Application: today I am going to dig into God’s word and ask Him how I might be more like a tree planted by rivers of water and that I would ready for His return when He comes.

Inductive Bible Study March 3

IBS Thursday March 3

John 15:15

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

I am not a blind servant of Jesus. He has made it known to me what God is doing. As a friend of Jesus, we have a different relationship than if we were just servants. He chose us, as John 15:16-17 says: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.” He loved us and asked us to love others in the same manner.

Jesus, I want to love you the way you loved me. I want to be a friend, not just a servant who doesn’t know what his master is doing. I want my relationship with you to be real. Teach me what it means to be chosen and appointed by you so that I would bear fruit that would remain. Teach me how to love others the way you loved me.

Application: Today I am going to search the scriptures and ask the Lord to show me how He loved that I may love others in the same manner and how to live in greater intimacy with Him.

Inductive Bible Study March 2

IBS Wednesday March 2

Matthew 20:26-28

Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

This is a verse that I have come to many times before, but I never really got the full context. Becoming great is the complete opposite from Jesus’ perspective than from the world’s understanding. To be considered great in many people’s opinions means being an authority. As an authority in the world, you lord over others, making yourself more important because of your position. In verse 25 Jesus tells his audience, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them,” and then He says, “Yet it shall not be so among you.” Jesus tells us that we do not exercise this authority to rule over others in His kingdom. The story leading up to this answer from Jesus begins when a mother asks that her two sons would sit at the right and left hand of Jesus in His kingdom. All Jesus can answer to her is that it is not His authority to give, but God the Father prepares it for those He chooses. What Jesus says is that if anyone desires to be great in His kingdom, he must become a servant. To wrap it up Jesus explains, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

I want to be first. I want to be great. In scripture, I have found the answer. Being great means being last and being a servant. Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Presenting myself as a living sacrifice to God to be His slave is what is accepted by God. Later on in Romans 12, it says, “That you may prove what is that good acceptable and perfect will of God is. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Being a servant that is acceptable to God means living out His perfect will. As I present myself as a bondservant of God, I will begin living out His perfect will in my life. I need to keep a sober mind, not being prideful, but faithfully doing my duty to my Master. Luke 17:10 says, “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.”

Application: Lord, I want to present myself a living sacrifice to You that I may prove Your perfect will in my life. I ask that you would give me the mind of a servant. I want to serve You. Today, this is my prayer, that you would accept my body as a living sacrifice, a sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to You. Amen.

Inductive Bible Study March 1

IBS Tuesday March 1

Luke 17:7-10

And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”

Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. This is Christianity 101. As Christians, we are servants of the Lord. Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without complaining and disputing.” We need to serve with the mindset that we are unprofitable servants. God doesn’t need us. All we do is attend to our duties. Expecting to be thanked for our service shouldn’t be important to us. God will give more to those who increase what He’s given them, but if we desire to be great in Heaven, we need an attitude of service without expectation of reward.

Application: I have been given a duty to do, but I need to change my attitude about it. So tonight I am going to finish all the homework that has been given me to do to the best of my ability without seeking a reward.

Inductive Bible Study February 29

IBS Monday February 29

John 12:26

If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

This verse is Jesus speaking about how to live. The verses leading up to it explain that one must die to live. A servant of Jesus must die to himself. To hate one’s own life in the world means to gain eternal life. By serving Jesus, one is following Him to where He is. God will honor anyone who serves Jesus.

Dying to self is such a hard concept to grasp when you are holding so tightly to your life. To be honest, I have had a hard grip on life. I had my ideas about life, and I was not giving God much control. I heard this illustration a few days ago that we are to loosen our grip on the item that is in our hand so that it is free to move. In the same way, I need to loosen my grip on my plans and possessions so that God can move them in my life in a way that He will be glorified. My dreams of becoming a business owner, traveling the world, and living the high life will only cripple my spiritual hands until I open them up so that God’s will can be done.

The fact that I am in Antigua, Guatemala, is a result of surrendering my plans to God and letting Him move my life in the direction He has for me. One year ago I was signing the documents to go to business school at George Fox University near Portland, Oregon. I had already applied and been accepted. I even had scholarships and was working towards raising more money for tuition. Little did I know that God had a completely different plan for me.

Three men came into my life that messed up all my plans, all for the better. Jesus wanted me to get out of the United States so I could get away from all the noise that was dictating my life so I could truly seek Him. Ralph, one of my mentors, told me about this program in Guatemala where I was able to accomplish this. Larry, another mentor, offered me a job for the time leading up to my departure as well as significant financial support. Everything in my life was screaming so loudly in my ear that I had almost missed this opportunity, but I wanted His will to be done in my life above my own will. I had faith that God had me in His hand and had something amazing in store for me.

This time hear in Guatemala has been breaking me to the core. I have so many issues under the surface and some of them were beginning to hurt other people in my life. I was becoming a product of my own selfishness, pride, and anger. God was burdening and convicting me so much that I just couldn’t ignore Him any longer before falling off the deep end. I was riding that fine line. I was getting so close to the edge, but God loved me too much to let me go too far. He didn’t want me to hurt myself or anyone else. He wanted to use me to be a blessing in other people’s lives. He wanted me to seek Him. In order to do that, though, He had to completely remove me from the world as I knew it. He needed to break me so that He could turn me into His new creation.

God, You are the Potter and I am the clay. Break me and mold me into the creation you see fit. I surrender my life to You so that You would use me as a servant to do Your will. I am incapable of serving You on my own strength. Take my life, my possessions, my plans, my heart, my mind, my soul, my strength; and do with me what is pleasing in Your eye.

Application: This morning I am going to surrender my plan for the day to do what is pleasing to the Lord instead. I am going to pray that God would break me today and use me as His vessel to accomplish His will in and through my life. I ask that in all that I do today, His Spirit would be at work: in my conversations with others, in my thoughts, in my mind as I continue learning about Him, and in every action that springs forth from my spirit. Lord, have reign in my life today. Amen.