Teacher: Charles Stanley
(Teacher: Tim LaHaye)
There are three specific ways that God has revealed Himself to mankind.
1. Through Creation
Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork.” Romans 1:19,20 states, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”
These and other Scriptures clearly indicate that God has given ample evidence in creation that He exists. There are serious limitations to that form of revelation, however, however, for we do not learn a great deal about God’s personal nature and nothing about His grace, love, and mercy for man.
2. Through Jesus Christ
God has given a more specific revelation of Himself to man. Hebrews 1:1-3 says, “God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Jesus Christ revealed God to man in everything He did; that’s why if you want to know about God, then study the life of Christ. All man really needs to know about God is found in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. But unless you happen to live during the time of His life, you would never have known about that revelation of God were it not for the Bible.
3. Through The Bible
Of the three revelations from God, the 66 books of the Bible provide us the most complete revelation information about Him, and because the Bible is permanently in our grasp, we can study at our own discretion. God has promised to illuminate us through His Spirit as we carefully read and study this third revelation.
The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him. PROVERBS 15:8
(Teacher: Chris Tiegreen)
Read and consider Proverbs 15:8-11
Several Bible passages tell us that the fear of God is where wisdom begins (Proverbs 9:10, for one example). If we are to be truly wise, we must understand who He is. All of creation was based on His character. His heart is written into the fabric of every part of this universe, even if sin obscures it. Those who find understanding will be those who can recognize the imprint of God in the depths and design of creation. They wil be ardent observers of the way He deals with humanity. They will take their cues from Him.
The proverbs point out numerous such clues. This one in 15:8 tells us something profound about our Creator. He desires the essence of worship more than its demonstration. In Old Testament times, the sacrifice would have most often an animal or a grain offering. Today, it comes from our finances at one level and our time and talents at others. In any case, it’s not the gift that matters most. God already owns everything anyway. What really matters is the heart of the giver. Why? Because things do not honor God nearly as much as does a devoted, living being.
Why does God hate the sacrifice of the wicked? Because it is superficial. It is an attempt to brush Him off and get on with the self-life. It bears the appearance of devotion, but there is nothing of relationship in it—no love, no honor, no passion. That tells us volumes about the One who made us. He is no distant force, a cosmic “first cause” who observes us from afar. He is deeply, intensely personal.
Have you really considered the implications of that? That means that when you think He’s far off, He isn’t. It means that those deep longings in your heart—you know, the ones that leave agonizing, gaping holes when unfulfilled—are longings He wants to satisfy in the right way at the right time. It means that your soul is a place of warm communion, not cold solitude. It means that what you thought was too good to be true—His unconditional love and His enjoyment of your personality—is real.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of your body, you will live (Romans 8:12,13).
(Teacher: Joyce Meyer)
Many people have been controlled all their life by wrong thinking. They think all their problems are caused by the devil, other people, the way they were raised as children, etc. But the truth is that in many cases the problem is simply a lack of knowledge or a lazy spirit that refuses to act on the knowledge available.
Thinking right thoughts will often resemble warfare. The mind is the battlefield on which Satan tries to defeat us. In the Bible we are told to “cast down” wrong thoughts, but what does that mean? It means once wrong thoughts present themselves to us, we are to refuse to receive them and turn them over and over in our mind. We are not to give them strength by meditating on them.
The real key to victory is not only to cast down wrong thoughts, but to replace them with right ones: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8).
It is virtually impossible to think two things at the same time. When a new thought comes in, the old must go. Go ahead, try it! Start thinking about your name for example. Now begin to think about your address. When you changed to thinking about your address, you stopped thinking about your name.
We get rid of the darkness by turning on the light. In the same way, we rid ourselves of wrong thoughts by deliberately turning our attention to right thoughts.
Be determined to love God, yourself, and others with your thoughts. Ask the Lord to reduce you to love. It is the only road to true happiness, and the only way we can be a witness in our world today.
(excerpt from ‘Reduce Me to Love’ by Joyce Meyer)
(excerpt from “The Everlasting HATRED-The Roots Of Jihad” by Hal Lindsey)
Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, while on his Palestinian campaign, asked one of his generals, “Can you give me proof that the Bible is the Word of God?” he replied, “Your Majesty, the Jew. Against all historical precedence, he has survived centuries of dispersion and yet has remained a distinct people—a nation in exile—though scattered over the entire world and terribly persecuted, just as the Hebrew prophets predicted he would be, patiently waiting for his promised return to the land of his fathers.” – NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, 1798
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict occurred more than 4000 years ago. A man was called for a special mission that would forever change the course of human history. It is impossible to understand the present Middle East crisis without knowledge of exactly what happened then and why.
This all began at a time when all nations were determined to push the knowledge of the one true God out of their culture and memory. The Bible records that because of this, God chose a man for the purpose of creating a special nation. God’s purpose for this nation was to preserve a true revelation about Himself, to reach out to the world through it and ultimately to provide salvation for all mankind.
The Bible records how God chose a man named Abram, whom He later renamed Abraham, from Ur of the Chaldeans and made a special covenant with him and his descendants to facilitate this purpose.
In this covenant, God’s plan for all mankind is laid out in broad outline. In terms of its effect upon the history of mankind, nothing else can compare with it. It is truly amazing, but the rest of the Bible is commentary on the promises it contains. To put its importance into perspective, the main focus of the Bible message from Genesis chapter twelve to Acts chapter two are the recipients of its promises—Abraham and his descendents.
(Next: The Irrevocable Covenant)
Read and Consider 1 Corinthians 13
(Teacher: Joyce Meyer)
Where does love fit into your list of priorities? Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you . . .(John 13:34 NKJV). It seems to me that Jesus was saying love is the main thing on which we should concentrate.
The apostle Paul stated that . . . faith, hope, love abide . . . but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Love should be number one on our spiritual priority list. We should study love, pray about love and develop the fruit of love (according to Galatians 5:22,23, one of the nine fruits of the Spirit available to those in whom God’s Holy Spirit lives) by practicing loving others.
God is love, so when we walk in His love we abide in Him. Because we walk in God’s love by receiving and expressing it, we should not deceive ourselves into thinking we can love God while we hate other people. (See 1 John 4:20)
Love is the greatest thing in the world. It is the best thing to commit our life to, to seek to excel in.
We seek many things in the course of our lifetime. We hope to find fulfillment in each one, but most of them fall short of the desired goal. When we put our time and energy into things that do not fulfill us, we feel frustrated.
The commitment to learn how to walk in love is the single best decision you can make as a Christian. Love not only blesses others; it also blesses the one doing the loving. Concentrating on being a blessing to others will bring you joy. It’s exciting. It’s challenging.
All of us must become students of love; we must pray that God will reduce us to love.
(from the NIV Student Bible)
No Second-Class Christians
A protest against treason
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemed! (Galatians 1:8)
Paul is angry. You can almost see his face: flushed red, with lines of tension working in his jaw. Typically, he greets his readers briefly and then launches into warm praise of them. But in this letter shock and dismay replace the usual warmth. A crisis threatens the Galatians, and Paul opens with a withering blast against the people responsible.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Yet, when you read a few chapters, you may wonder why the apostle is so upset. Galatia seems innocent of the kinkiness of Corinth; Paul describes no incest or idolatry here. Instead, he brings up common, everyday Jewish affairs such as the observance of festival days and the practice of ancient traditions, especially circumcision. Where is the big crisis?
Paul could foresee the outcome of the Galatians’ thinking: by unduly stressing their Jewish heritage, the Galatians would soon devalue what Christ had done. They would start trusting in their own human effort (their keeping of “the law”) to gain acceptance by God (Galatians 3:1-5).
If the Galatians continued their policies, the bedrock of the gospel would crumble. Faith in Christ would become just one of many steps in salvation, not the only one. The gospel itself would be perverted (Galatians 1:6-9).
A DANGEROUS CLASS STRUCTURE
Paul saw other ominous dangers ahead for the fledgling Christian church. As a Jewish Roman citizen who spoke Greek, he knew well the innate human tendency to look down on people. Roman citizens snubbed non-Romans; Greeks looked down their noses at Romans; and Jews, with their exalted history and highly developed religion, felt superior to other cultures.
The Galatians’ insistence on strict Jewish rules would bring side effects. Subtle distinctions between Christians would inevitably creep in: faith in Christ is fine, but a circumcised person who keeps the Jewish law . . . that’s far better. Already, such thoughts had infected two esteemed apostles, Peter and Barnabas. Circumcised Christians were snubbing uncircumcised ones as second-class citizens.
The letter to the Galatians, then, is protesting against treason. It lashes out against subtle dangers that can ultimately pervert the gospel and divide the church. Paul insists that Jesus Christ came to tear down walls between people, not to build them up. In him there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female (Galatians 3:28). Faith in him, not anyone’s set of laws (Galatians 2:16), opens the door to acceptance by God.