The Strength of Love

The 611 was coming Memorial Day weekend.

“What’s that?” you ask. Well, it’s a very old train.

Sure enough, Memorial Day weekend came and people paid hundreds of dollars to ride this historical train, while many more lined up at every possible sighting along the tracks to take pictures of the restored and polished engine and cars. It chugged along and blew its whistle in pride, the picture of strength and beauty. One car had “St. Augustine” on it. Around the curve it came, while cameras rolled; tv crews from stations were on hand to give the background of this amazing piece of America’s past. After it had passed, the crowds slowly dwindled and eventually left. But something was left behind–unnoticed.

Your husband comes home and announces a newly-received promotion. You attend the dinner in his honor and he politely gives a few seconds of thanks to his family and team for their support. The proud team watches and cheers as he talks about where he’ll take the company now. But you know something is left behind. The family group; the children’s time—but it’s not thought about.

The train made the tracks pound as it powerfully went down the line, into view of those watching, around the curve and on out of sight. The tracks were strong and level, and the safety of the passengers depended on them. They held the weight of it all. Not a crack or problem could be permitted or the train could possibly crash.

The wife at home watches the children, cleans, tries to have dinner ready when it’s time for her husband. She now answers the phone to hear another “I’ll be late because of work” call. There are arguments and tears and no recognition for all the hard work she does. An occasional “thank you,” would be appreciated. But she must be strong and level headed for the children, pulling the weight of two parents. The crack starts to widen and she needs strength.

We admire and give honor to some things, often forgetting what upholds it. The tracks are old but strong. The train could not safely go down the track without them being tested often. But no one gives recognition to them or takes pictures of them: after all, they’re not seen as anything special, and no one recognizes that it is their sturdiness and reliability that keeps the train going.

The husband works hard, but doesn’t give a thought to his clean clothes, his clean bed, towels, meals, obedient children. He thinks it’s because he works. He doesn’t notice the strong woman who is raising his children, keeping his house

We treat God the same way as the train tracks or the wife many times. He’s there and we give a quick prayer as needed (“thanks for the food,” “thanks for my new bride,” “help me get more money,” etc.,) but as we ride along constantly on Him, we take Him for granted, always expecting to have Him under our feet.

The tracks get driven often during the week by those whose job it is to look for any hint of a problem. If they weren’t extremely conscientious of the importance of what they do, repairs would not get done as needed. In the same manner, if we don’t check for ‘deficiencies’ or ‘cracks’ in our relationship with Jesus, then they will get bigger and eventually break—and we will fall.

Galatians 5:19-21 lists some of our sinful natures: 19) When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20) idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21) envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.

Galatians 5:22 starts listing our fruits from the Holy Spirit, and our strength: 22) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23) gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Which track do we follow? Which one do we strengthen? Which one do we recognize? Do we idolize the person who is receiving man’s honor or do we look for the real source of strength and build on that?

In this week’s sermon at Thomas Road, we continue to look at the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This week we’re focusing on the strength and love that comes from Him directly to us. We’ll look at many things He says and promises to those who love Him, and as we do so, we’ll find that any “cracks” in our relationship with Him will be filled if we let Him; He will undergird us with all the necessary strength to live a holy, fruitful life! Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and select “Not My Jesus: What Did Jesus Say About YOU?” Get your notebook for notes, watch how you grow as you lean on Him, study His will for your life, and spread the good news that He has come to seek and save those who are lost!

Not My Jesus: What Does Jesus Say About YOU?                                                                                               

Pastor Jonathan Falwell

 

Open:

Love has become a common word used for everything from our feelings for a chocolate cake, pizza, certain cars to people we know. Can you share or think of an example from your life when you’ve been challenged by the word “love”?

Having carefully examined evidence by secular historians showing that Jesus lived, reading records of the witnesses who saw Him during His ministry and after the resurrection, studying His own words about Himself, and the witness of God as to who He is, we should now know we can trust the truth of what He says about you in our relationship with Him. Let’s look at how He values those who choose to obey Him.

Focal Passage: John 15:1-27

Think About or Discuss:

You are Ready

  1. Read verse 2. What does Jesus say happens to you at salvation? What does this make you ready for?
  2. Perhaps you have a “green thumb”; what occurs when you take care of your flowers or plants? How does God take care of you?

You are Protected

  1. In verse 5a, what did Jesus say your relationship to Him is like?
  2. If you break a branch off a tree, what happens to it? Can you exist as a believer, without Christ? Why?

You are Powerful

  1. Read 5b. How do you “remain” in Jesus? What is the evidence in the life of a person who is abiding in Christ?
  2. What is promised to believers in this verse? What is the warning?

You are Loved

  1. Read verses 9-10. What are some terms you could use to describe God’s love for His Son (who was worthy)? Can you comprehend that Jesus loves you (who are unworthy) with that same love? How?
  2. How do you remain in His love? What is the greatest example that you know that Jesus obeyed God’s will, remaining in His (God’s) love?

You are promised Joy

  1. Read verse 11. What “things” was Jesus referring to?
  2. How much joy does He promise you if you love and obey Him?

You are His friend

  1. Read verses 14-15. What do you call those with whom you have just a “waving” relationship? What about those with whom you share time, food, fun?
  2. In Amos 3:3, God asks, “Do two people walk hand in hand if they are not going to the same place?” This implies an answer of No! In verse 15, how does that confirm what Jesus is saying about your being called His friend?

You are Chosen

  1. What does Jesus say in verse 16? How should that impact your life? When you “choose” anything, why does it become special to you just by the fact that you are making the choice to embrace it (a spouse, a car, a house, etc.)?

You are given great help

  1. Read verse 16. Do you remember the old hymn, “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” and if so, can you recall the first verse? If not, look at Matt. 6:30, 33, and John 14:16. Who is this Comforter? How will He help you?

You are Forgiven

  1. Have you ever seen a dead person or animal sit up? What can they do? How does this illustrate what God has done for you when you believe? Read Romans 10:9, 10 if you need to clarify this.

Close:

Did you grow up in a dysfunctional family, where love was not a priority as much as discipline? Or possibly yours was just an undemonstrative family, and you never learned to show your love. Both are common, and make it harder for us to understand God’s love for us, as we are full of sin! Yet as we read the scriptures, Jesus not only speaks of His love for us, but also has shown it by dying for us, and we see that His is an active love, full of grace and longsuffering, with “mercies that are new every morning” (Lam. 3:22, 23). We should take heart! Phil. 4:13 assures us that through Christ, we can accomplish anything—showing love to the unlovely, grace to those who don’t deserve it, even prayer for our enemies to know Christ. A life full of joy is promised to us if we are steadfast in our walk with Him, not worrying about tomorrow. As the song says, we should not be discouraged because—if His eye is on the little sparrow—how much more does He love us, who are “but dust”! Carry that thought with you this week!

Memory Verse: John 15:11: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

sdayfarm@aol.com

Rachel Coleman, contributor

 

LOVE LIFE AND SEE GOOD DAYS…

Math. Either there was just a collective groan, a sigh, or something in between–like okay, what now? Well, there isn’t much I remember from those “good ol’ days,” but as far as I know, I’ve never used the multitude of stress placed upon me to pass Trig class, or even Algebra; I’ve never dissected a frog or used a Bunsen burner. But one thing I remember well: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Or maybe it wasn’t math, maybe it was Science–but no matter, the lesson  is the same. 

I say this because I have had a crisis too big too handle, and something had to go from my time allotment: sleeping and eating were rather necessary, so that left writing, cleaning house, and “life.” For that, I feel I owe (the opposite reaction to letting it go), an apology. I think I hoped that some would actually click on the latest service at Thomas Road and listen.

Yesterday, which you’ll hear if you haven’t already, it was made plain to the congregation that a change is coming. Not something we (the members) would have chosen, but one lesson was made plain, and it fits here. When God speaks to your heart, only a very foolish person would ignore the King of the universe. That is not happening within our staff, because the person desires a holy and obedient life, and truly, the sorrow over losing one whom we love is outweighed by the fact that God has chosen to send him elsewhere. And in tying that together with my own life, I had decided, based on internal situations that seem out of my control, to stop this blog. I felt a failure for not being able to do it twice in over a year. Fifty two (plus) weeks, and I was going to let it quit because I let Satan tell me I was a failure for not being able to do it last week. Shame on me.

 If you’re familiar with Thomas Road now, you know we feature a “My Road” video, where someone tells his/her story. Yesterday, answering my feeling of inadequacy, the person interviewed said that the person who was using social media to try to spread the gospel should NOT quit. That was a paraphrase, but it hit home. Was it God who had orchestrated that person to speak on a Sunday when I was going to throw in the towel? Without a doubt. Do I reach even one person who wants to know God better? I have no clue. But like our staff person, I would be a fool to quit when I have nothing more to claim than a lack of strength to continue. “To him who knows to do (something that is) good, and does not do it, to him this is sin.” End of story.  I was convicted, chastised, and will continue to strive to set out the sermon studies for Thomas Road, not knowing if anyone is encouraged by them. My email is at the bottom anytime anyone wants to write. And to add a final thrust, God chose the sermon to be on doing those things that bring happiness–not external through “things,” but internal through molding us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Are you ready to settle back, get your notebook, and listen as the service is broadcast, with singing, with tears, with heartache, and with joy. Obeying God is always going to bring joy, no matter the tears. Remember the reaction? The tears of pain and separation will still result in joy by doing God’s will. We would not know joy if we did not know pain. My daughter pointed that out earlier: that only by knowing sadness can we recognize happiness. Let’s click on the service from Sunday, May 15 (Happy Mother’s Day to any mom reading this!), and see what God has in store for us this week. Joy, God promises, comes in the morning. That’s a promise! Let’s look for the morning.

Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and select the main sermon from the series “Not My Jesus.” We continue to search our hearts to see that our lives are being transformed daily into who Christ wants us to be. If you have a Strong’s Concordance, it will be a special help for some of the words used in the focal passage. Get you a drink, a friend if possible, and let’s dig in, having a special treat of the children being part of the song service. May you be “blessed” as you watch and listen!

Not My Jesus: What Jesus Really Said                                                                                                                                  Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

If you’ve heard of the Autobahn in Germany, you know it’s an open speed limit highway; that seems like a driver’s dream, doesn’t it? Especially days when you’re trapped behind cars going less than a stated speed limit and you can’t pass. Why would no speed limit seem so great, and do you think that’s the way it is in reality?

This week we want to carefully grasp some of the instructions for Christians to have a life blessed by God, from Jesus Himself. In this series, “Not My Jesus,” we’ve looked at the myths surrounding Jesus, the views the world has, Jesus’ own witness of who He is, and the witness of God the Father. Now we will look at several of His guidelines for happiness, apply those truths to our daily living and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas where we need to become more like Him!

Focal Passage: Matthew 5:1-12.                                                                               Video: Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr., 1975

Think About or Discuss:

The Humble in Heart

  1. Read verses 1-3. Why does the Bible specifically say, “He opened His mouth and taught them”—does anyone remember?[i]
  2. What characterizes someone who is “poor in spirit”? Why would they attain happiness?

The Mourners

  1. In verse 4, what type of mourners did Jesus mean?
  2. Read Luke 18:13, and 1 Tim. 1:15, 16. How do these two passages illustrate the need for people to mourn their sinful state, and what does God do to comfort them?

The Inheritors

  1. What do you think of when you hear the term “meek”? What are some of the Biblical meanings of meek? After discussion, or writing, did you have the meaning correct?[ii]
  2. When you think of something being “inherited,” what comes to mind? How or why would these meek people inherit the earth? Someone read Phil. 4:11-13. How does being content within your circumstances give you blessings?

Those Who Hunger and Thirst

  1. Verse 6: When is the last time you were truly hungry, or extremely thirsty? How can you develop your spiritual appetite so that you desire God’s word daily, meditating on it even “in the night watches” (Psa. 63:6,7)?
  2. Read Job 23:12b. How does this passage illustrate verse 6 of Matthew 5? What will change in your life if you desire God’s word with the same craving you exercise in your food life?

Close:

You’re probably wondering, how does the Autobahn illustrate our spiritual life? Many live their lives as if there are no rules or consequences, which isn’t the true reality. Yet the world assumes following Jesus is a life of do’s and don’t’s, and perceive it as taking away everything they think they enjoy—their “speed limits” if you will. The truth is, Jesus says following Him results in a life of being blessed (happy). In today’s sermon, we were so privileged to hear a forty-two-year-old message by Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr., as he reiterated that blessings come on the lives of those who live in a manner that pleases God. Just as we are pleased to give our approval to our children when they obey with a great attitude, so God chooses to bless us when we strive to live holy, sanctified lives. Is that something you desire, as Job did? After hearing the message, did you weigh your lifestyle against the message Jesus taught on living a life of peace with God? It’s never about rules: it’s about the heart attitude, and the desire to please the God who bought us with His own blood! This week, as you go about your daily routine, take your spiritual pulse often to make certain your heart is beating in sync with His. Share His love when the opportunity presents itself. What if God has placed you here for such a time as this?

Memory Verse: Matthew 5:1,2: “And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them saying.”

[i] It means “listen up!” “Pay attention!”

[ii] Meekness is “strength under control.”

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He Didn’t Intend to Die That Day..

Two caskets. One, a close friend, the other a brother-in-law. Their stories were so different, their lives both lived in opposite directions.  The deaths  hit us hard. Not because we’re immune to the real life situations that pass us by, but because the deaths were too soon–both of these men still had time to live. (From a human perspective). One had surgery, didn’t heal properly, got pneumonia, and one catastrophe after another occurred, and he closed his eyes in death. The other had surgery, went to a rehab facility, caught a respiratory infection which didn’t heal, and eventually was sustained by life-support. He chose to be taken off, and two minutes later was in the presence of the Lord whom he loved.

We juggled schedules in order to pay our last respects to both of these men whom we had loved. And at each casket the only question we cared about was their relationship to the One who had died in order that they could live eternally with Him. Because, in the end, that’s all that really matters. The one didn’t go to heaven because he was a good citizen, had raised children who are an asset to their communities, and had served faithfully those who needed him. He went because years ago he had heard the message of salvation, knew he was a sinner who had a debt of sin that nothing could remove except the blood of Jesus–and accepted that as Truth. The other had led a life of sin for many, many years, and would have faced an eternity in hell, but he saw in the lives of those with whom he lived a peace, and he wanted that same peace for himself. He went to church, heard the gospel message preached, and gave his life to Christ. They both got it.

Whether you believe in heaven or hell, Jesus as the Son of God, Jesus as the only way to heaven, doesn’t change the truth one bit. All that matters is that it is Truth, and your believing or not believing it doesn’t change the fact that it is. What it will change is where you spend your time when you close your eyes in death. If you’re reading this, you still have time to know that you know–or choose not to. Jesus won’t force you to accept His free gift, but it’s yours for the taking if you do.

How about a great sermon on who is YOUR Jesus? Get your notebook, a good chair, some cool or hot drink, and sit back, ready to listen to the sermon for yesterday, April 30, 2017, preached by Jonathan Falwell at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Click on http://www.trbc.org/sermon-archive and select the current sermon. Join in the singing as it lifts up the name of the Lord! After the service is over, scroll down to the study notes and see how much you absorbed, and check the sermon against your own belief in Jesus! Do you have a Biblical view of His Deity, or have you let unsound doctrine get you confused? Don’t let an unplanned death keep you out of heaven–Jesus has rooms prepared just for you!

Not My Jesus: The World’s View of Jesus                                                                                                                      Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Can you think of a time you became involved in something because you didn’t have all the true facts about the situation? Write your experience in your notebook, or if you’re with a group of friends, would you share?

Today the world has a very confused idea of who Jesus Christ really is, and why He lived. We must be careful in conversation that we are not agreeing with a statement someone is making about Him until we know that their idea of Jesus is in line with the word of God. As we saw last week, no serious historian denies that Jesus actually lived, but few believe Him to be the Son of God. This week we continue the new series in which we determine that our view of Jesus not only must be true, we must know why it’s true.

Focal Passages: Matthew 16:1-17.

Think About or Discuss:

The World is always looking for a sign

  1. Read Matt. 16:1-4. Had these scribes and Pharisees been following Jesus as He had been performing miracles? If so, what was the real reason for their statement in verse 1?
  2. What did Jesus say would be the evidence of His claim that He was the Messiah? If they had really wanted to believe, what would they have done?
  3. How is that like people today who beg God for a miracle (for the life, health, etc. of someone perhaps), saying they will then “believe”? Can you discuss what comes to mind?

There are signs from above and signs from below

  1. In verses 5-12, what were the disciples missing? What had they seen—probably nearly every day—while they had been with Jesus?
  2. Jesus still needed to warn them to be careful not to believe false doctrine. Why was it necessary for Him to counsel them to not to be swayed by error?
  3. Taking the world religions individually, why did the Jews not accept Jesus as the Messiah the prophets had written of? Islam denies Jesus’ deity; whose word are they ignoring? They deny the crucifixion: last week, how many witnesses saw Jesus alive after the crucifixion? Hinduism embraces thousands of gods; can you think of Jesus’ own words that would refute this doctrine? Buddhism also denies He is the Son of God. Atheists For Christ, like Islam, deny the crucifixion. How then, do they think they can be saved? (If you need to, look at the end!)
  4. Why do we need to be so diligent to teach the next generation there is only One Way? Do you know what the public school system is teaching the children?

The greatest revelation of who Jesus Is? Himself!

  1. In verses 13-17, what had Jesus asked His disciples? Who revealed this to Peter?
  2. If you were asked by anyone who He is, what would you say? What evidence do you have? (Hopefully, a changed life!)

Close:

Because the world does not have a correct view of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scripture, it has gone crazy making up its own rules concerning sinful lifestyles. It has become vital that we know without error the Biblical guidelines God has set. Jesus knew the disciples were going to face “wolves” among the believers, and warned them in our focal passage to guard against accepting people or beliefs at face value. Now, two thousand years later, we are in an even more dangerous position, as we see our values taken away. We are not allowed to have an opinion that goes against society, and are  in danger of “hate crimes” if we label Biblical sin as sin. Paul warned believers in Eph. 4:14 to not be carried away by every “wind of doctrine,” and in both letters to Timothy, as well as Titus, he warns us to hold fast to sound doctrine—that men, in fact, will come to hate it. We see this today all around the world. Doctrine—a scary word to many—is simply the set of principles God has established as guidelines so that His people may strive to live holy, sanctified lives. Paul writes in 1 Thess.  4:3, “For this is the will of God for you, your sanctification!”  Let us go forward toward that goal, reaching out in love to the many who have an inaccurate view of Him!

Jews: They expected someone who would rise as a military leader. Islam: Jesus Himself stated He and the Father are One (John 10:30); also, John 1:1-5; and denying the resurrection, they ignore the 515+ people who saw Jesus alive. Hinduism: Jesus stated, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6).  Atheists for Christ also ignore the witnesses who saw Jesus after the resurrection; they believe their good works will get them to heaven.

 

 

HAPPILY EVER AFTER…

 

 

 

 

 

It was a book I could hardly put down. Each chapter ended with such a sense of standing on the edge of a cliff that you just HAD to keep going! When something caused me to be disciplined enough to actually lay it down, the plot would be going through my head as I did the duties that were required of me while being on auto-pilot. Oh, man! I just wanted to see what the next page had… but, of course, that didn’t work, because I kept turning the page after that one. Even at bedtime, during my ritual reading for maybe twenty minutes, I found my eyes shutting, yet still trying to see what lay ahead. Finally, when my brain realized I wasn’t comprehending the last sentence, I would lay it down, go to sleep, and know I had to wait for tomorrow.

Finally I was getting through it. I had no idea how it was going to turn out–of course there were “good guys” and “bad guys” and intrigue, but how was it going to end? I didn’t know. All I knew was that every other book by this author had been fantastic.

I was nearly done. As I turned the last page, I read the last couple of sentences. WHAT?????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? I felt like I was falling off that cliff and there were no nets below! If I hadn’t had the self-control to realize I would break something (probably only something expensive, as my aim is lousy), I would have thrown the book across the room–or across the state if I could have! (No, I’m not telling you what it was–you’ll have to find me, then I will). There just has to be a serial, I reasoned, so I headed for the computer to (of course) Google. “Is there a sequel to…..”? Nothing. “List of books by….” Nothing that I could see different, or that looked like the 2nd of a trilogy or set. There was one I didn’t recognize; it had another title and didn’t look like what I wanted but I still ordered it. Frustration was rampant. Have you been there, done that? You want to know the end, but it’s not out yet. You want to know if they live happily ever after, but it’s expected to come out at Christmas. Shucks, if you’re like me, you’d have to read the first one again, just to remember why you were waiting.

I will say, on behalf of the author who has remained nameless, that when the other book came, it was the same “can’t put it down” situation, and when I finished (and this is very rare), I turned back to page one and read it again. Stupendous. But this time I knew how it was going to end. I still haven’t found a sequel to the other one…

How often have you cheated and gone to the end, just so the stress level is alleviated as you read? The older I get, the more I do that. Eliminating stress has become my mantra as I age. But there are times when reading the ending is something that brings joy!

You think that would ruin it for you? Look at it this way: as Moses penned the books that begin the Bible, he didn’t have the benefit of the prophets. As the prophets wrote their lengthy prophecies, they did not know the fulfillment. As Jesus said in Matthew 13:17, they longed to be able to see what the people around Him were hearing and seeing, but couldn’t. And think of the New Testament, those who were writing it did not have the benefit of reading the end of the book to know how it was going to turn out. And although Jesus told them what to expect, it took the crucifixion to bring it all into focus.

Now is a great time to get your Bible, a notebook to make notes so you can see your progress as you study the sermons, and a comfortable chair. If you want some coffee or Coke, or if you have a friend, get ready to click on the sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church Easter Sunday, April 16, and prepare to worship the Lord with the congregation at TRBC. Click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and click on the Easter service. Take your time to work through the questions below, and enjoy the fact that you know how everything ends! Glorify God as you worship!

Outsiders: Truly He Is The Son of God                                                                                                                                                                           Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Sometimes it takes more than one circumstance to finally “connect the dots.” Can you think of an instance when this has been the case for you? Write it in your notebook unless you have a chance to discuss it with a friend.

This week we finish looking at four people who were personally affected by the events surrounding the crucifixion, and their reaction to Jesus Christ. The centurion, who—no doubt–had been involved from the night of the arrest to the last breath taken by Jesus, had the light of understanding hit him as he watched Jesus die. As all the dots began to be connected, this man, intimately involved in the crucifixion, made a profound statement that has gone into the very Word of God: “Truly this was (is) the Son of God!”

Focal Passages: Mark 15:20-39; Mark 16:1-7.

Think About or Discuss:

The Prologue

  1. Looking back at the events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, one’s mind finds it hard to cope with the series of situations that ended in such an inhumane way. What seems to have been the beginning of this ending (from a human view point)?
  2. As the jealousy among the Jewish religious leaders escalated, what did they do next?
  3. They plotted how best to get Jesus alone to kill him; who played into their hands? What do you think the other disciples would have done if they had realized Judas was about to betray Jesus (speculation)?
  4. What happened when Judas told the Jews where they could find Jesus? Who all came to the garden the night Jesus was praying? About how many came, and what was their intention?

The Terrible Hours

  1. The Roman military came to arrest Jesus. Who was probably one of the main authorities, one who would give orders, and be on hand throughout the following day? What events did he see occur in the Garden of Gethsemane?
  2. When Jesus’ “case” went from the religious leaders to the governing authorities, how did they react? How did they keep “passing the buck”?
  3. What happened next?
  4. As Pilate ordered the crucifixion, who probably had to carry it out?
  5. What did Scripture predict the Messiah would do (Isaiah 53:7)?

The Death

  1. Who, more than likely, was in charge of the order to nail Jesus to the tree?
  2. As he watched the events now out of his hands, what did he see happen before his eyes?
  3. How did all those events affect him? What were his words?

The Victory!

Close:

As believers, we know the victory that was just around the corner! The hurt, pain, sense of loss, despair—and so much more—that the disciples and followers of Jesus went through during those three days can only be speculated about. We, on the other hand, have read “the end of the story,” and know that Sunday morning the tomb Joseph gave to the family of Jesus was empty! Tradition has it that the stone was guarded by the same centurion who had doubtless overseen the soldiers in the garden the night of His arrest, then in charge of those who carried out the crucifixion on Friday, and was afterward given charge to guard the tomb. If so, he could have seen the sight of the angel rolling the stone away, giving the guards on duty a shock so great they fainted. All we know for sure is that He came out of the tomb and appeared to the women, to the disciples, and before ascending into heaven, more than five hundred or more people. Seeing Him caused them to believe, and change the world. And He is still changing it today!

Which group do you belong in? Those who are familiar with the events of the crucifixion and have had your life changed because of it, or the group of those who know about it, but have no interest in a changed life? It’s a choice that must be made this side of eternity. One rich man in hell begged Abraham—across a chasm—to send someone to tell his family that hell is real, only to be told it was too late (Luke 16:19-31). Don’t wait—if God is speaking to your heart, answer Him today!

Photo Copyright by Sandra Day

sdayfarm@aol.com

 

                                   

Did You Find the Rose Garden?

Once upon a time… someone was promised a garden of roses.

We thought that was how it worked, didn’t we? Raised on Fairy Tales that all ended “happily ever after,” it seemed life–once we were grown–was going to be full of love, joy and roses. Shall I break it to you? It doesn’t happen that way very often.

We prepared for marriage, and hoped to get someone who would always love us unconditionally; we prepared for jobs, and were so fortunate if we got one that paid well. There were some where we had to follow orders simply because we were employed–orders that we sometimes questioned, or felt uncomfortable with.

One, I recall, was a huge, financially sound corporation. A directive came down the line from the people who sat in the plush offices several states away, who had little “hands on” experience to know how their decisions would impact those very people who made them profitable. This was one of the largest banking firms in the nation. A meeting was called, and the employees, all titled, sat at the conference center desk as the President laid out new rules: there would no longer be renewals on loans that were on the books, unless the customer had the cash to back up the loan. We’re not talking about small credit card debt, but commercial loans that might range up to a few million.

As the customers came in when their loan was up for renewal, and found it wasn’t going to be automatically turned over, they were floored. “I’ve never missed a payment, have impeccable credit, and a value of twice what I owe! How can you do this?!” These were real people, people we knew people well, and as we looked into their faces, we knew how incredibly hard it was going to be for them to keep bankruptcy at bay, just because corporate had made a decision, and now it was going to be mandated. So many went under. Our souls were full of guilt: should we fight or flee? How badly did we need the job?

Have you found the working world–or even school–full of favoritism, double standards and politics? Perhaps discrimination when one student, team, employee or person is favored above everyone else for no reason you’re aware of? That’s life today, isn’t it? At least we tell ourselves it is.

That was life thousands of years ago, as well! “There is nothing new under the sun,” Solomon wrote, and while he may have not meant technological advances, the incredible strides made with each generation still blow you away! Kitchen strainers and tableware artifacts have been found that are thousands of years old–and look like they are yesterday’s items.

The sermon yesterday at Thomas Road Baptist Church picks up on an employee–a soldier actually–who was ordered to do his job, and went out to do it. He had no choice, or probably his own life would have been in danger. This amazing story leaves you wondering what happened at the end, how did it turn out, was there a sequel?! Nowadays we would expect a trilogy, or even more. Click on http://www.trbc.org/sermons and then click on “Outsiders: Jesus at the Center,” preached by Charles Billingsley on March 26, 2017. You’ll be enthralled every moment as Charles brings one of the characters to life, fleshes him out, and gives you a beautiful picture of the love of Jesus Christ for each of us. Get your notebook to jot answers to the study below, a drink, a comfy chair, and if you have a friend to share the time with you, worship and study together. It will be a meaningful time of fellowship and feasting on the Bread of Life. Most of all, remember to praise God for the wealth of great teaching that we have available, and the possibility of changing someone’s life for eternity!

Outsiders: Jesus at the Center                                                                                                                                                                                                      Charles Billingsley

Open:

Sometimes we can attend a function, meeting, or study that is really important, but sit there feeling very disconnected from the group for any of a number of reasons. Can you think of an example? Jot your answers down if you’re alone, so you can keep a record of your thoughts.

This week we begin a new series, looking for four weeks at people who were part of the crucifixion of Jesus, but did not recognize His deity, and yet were touched by His grace. Whether their heart was changed, we will not know until eternity. Is it possible we—or someone we know—could hear the story of Christ week after week, be touched by His power, but never open our hearts to Him? Let’s look at the story.

Focal Passage: John 18:1-11 Further Passages: John 10:17-18, Luke 22:49-51, 52,53; Matt. 26:53,54; Rom. 8:38, 39.

Think About or Discuss:

The Power of Jesus is Undeniable

  1. Read John 1:3 and Rom. 1:20. What is said of Jesus in these passages? In Romans, what gives evidence there is a Creator? How would you describe His power?
  2. Read John 18:1-7. When Jesus answered “I AM HE,” what was the significance of the words? We think of people falling backwards; what if the soldiers fell forward, or their legs gave out: what would be their posture? What Scripture would have been fulfilled in the lives of those men? (Rom. 14:11)

The Love of Jesus is Unconditional

  1. Read verses 8-9. Who was Jesus concerned for as the guards came to arrest Him?
  2. Read Col. 2:13,14. What kind of love would cause someone to die for persons so vile as to be “dead” in their sins?
  3. Read Rom. 8:38, 39. How would you describe unconditional love? Do you struggle with loving like that?

The Grace of Jesus is Indescribable

  1. Read verse 10. What was significant about Malchus’ position in Jewish hierarchy? What was Peter’s intent (probably)?
  2. Read verse 11. Who can tell what happened next (from Luke 22:51)? Why was Malchus not “deserving” of the grace of Jesus?
  3. Think: Does anyone owe you something—perhaps money? Does it bother you? How does that compare with the grace you received from God?

Close:

There are not enough words for us to describe the power of God, with our finite minds and vocabulary. How can we comprehend a universe where the stars alone exceed a number over 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000—and He knows them all by name? Such power is indescribable. The creation (Rom. 1:20) alone testifies to all men that there is a Creator, so no one who will stand before God has an excuse. When Jesus answered, “I am He,” He was using the words God used for His Name: the great I AM. It’s scary to think that perhaps we’ve become so used to going to church, talking about the Lord, singing, praying and even praising Him, that we have lost the awe and reverence of His power! Perhaps He is no longer  held in such high esteem that we, like Isaiah, would cry out, “Woe is me!” To be the recipient of the kind of love available to men by calling on His name is unfathomable. To have Him remove your vilest sins, casting them as far as the east is from the west, is incomprehensible, and yet we get upset or turn away when He does not answer our prayers, or give us what we want. Our knowledge is a drop in a bucket and His is as limitless as possible, and yet we often treat Him like a servant, or a genie in a lamp. We all need to fall to our knees and cry “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty!” Won’t you take the message of salvation you’ve been given and tell those whose hearts need to be changed by His love that it is available to them? It matters so much!

Memory Verse: John 3:17: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Thoughts to Take Away:

  • (Verse 3): The soldiers came with “lanterns and torches” against the Light of the World;
  • They came with weapons against the Prince of Peace;
  • (Verses 4-8): Jesus was in Total Control: He knew all things; He went forward; He took the initiative; His words took them to the ground in response to His majesty; He told them what to do;
  • Nothing can stop the will of God;
  • We are protected by His love; we are perfected by His love;
  • As trials come, will we flee or fight?

Quote: “For evil to flourish, it requires only for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke.

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GETTING CONTROL OF DISCOURAGEMENT!

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There was something wrong about the contents of the small drawer that I pulled out from the buffet in the dining room. Any mystery writer will show their PI’s, detectives, or Fed agents always pay attention to a women’s “sixth sense!” Carefully I removed the things in the drawer, and saw, hidden at the back, a small, valuable Depression Glass bowl, broken into pieces. The thought of my young daughter was instantly rejected, but her slightly older brother definitely fit the role of a Person of Interest!

Bringing him into the room and showing him the open drawer confirmed my suspicions. It wasn’t so much the broken bowl that disturbed me as it was the fact that he had hidden the evidence, thinking, I’m certain, that he would be buying himself time, or possibly I would never see it! Wrong. Mom’s are about 80% Superwoman and 20% normal, functioning women.

Discipline had to be meted out, but the cover-up of the accident (I knew it had to be) was my main concern, and the issue that would have to be addressed. Afterward, I’m sure the discipline yielded the peaceable fruit of righteousness, and he was sorry he had tried to get by with not telling me (I would have understood that accidents are a part of growing up). I was sorry, as the bowl was a family heirloom, and the consequence of his action was that it could not be replaced.

Now, many years later–too many to count–I’m in the same position again, with the children of either the daughter or that same little boy, now a dad! I found (to my discouragement) a beautiful Delft lamp stuffed into a waste bag in the den. It was in tons of pieces. I figured my husband was a little old to hide the evidence, but 7 grandchildren who are often down there certainly became POI’s!! I now have to take them one by one, addressing the issue, not of the breakage, but of hiding the evidence. Doubly so since someone younger may have been cut badly had they stepped on one of the smaller pieces overlooked on the floor. Again, a consequence that means my lovely lamp cannot be replaced.

Now is a good time to get your notebook, a hot drink, cookies, and maybe a friend (or several!) and watch the sermon from Thomas Road Baptist Church, preached Sunday, February 5, 2017. Click on the link http://www.trbc.org/sermon-archive and select the right date. This sermon on actions, consequences and how to rise above them will really hit home if you have things in your past that scream “Unworthy!” at you as you try to live the Christian life. Invite others who may benefit from the wisdom in the message, and let God do a work in your life as you continue with the sermon study below. If you have time, watch the entire program, as LU Praise presents a song of worship!

Overflow: The Biggest Connection to the Right Direction                                                     Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

Inevitably, as a human being, we will sin. That sin may eventually result in consequences that can cause us to be discouraged because of the pain it caused. Can you think of something you can share? If you are doing this on your own, write your answers in a notebook.

Today we look at Hebrews 12, focusing on laying “aside the sin that so easily trips us.” We want to examine the first of two types of discouragement: one that results when our own sinful choice or action causes consequences that may result in our becoming depressed. (The second—caused by others—will be looked at next week). The discouragement can be a tool Satan uses to rob us of our joy as a believer, crowding out our effectiveness.

Focal Passage: Hebrews 12:1, 5-13

Think About or Discuss:

All sin has consequences

  1. Read Rom. 3:23. What sin is specified here? How does God view sin?
  2. What about the consequences of sin—can they differ? How?
  3. Read Heb. 12:5 If sin is continued, or left unconfessed, as a loving Father, what must God do?

Those consequences can leave us discouraged if we don’t see their value

  1. Does confession to God eliminate the consequences? Think of examples.
  2. Read verse 6. Why is it important to examine the consequences to see their value?

God’s discipline is a clear picture of His love for us

  1. Read verses 7-8. Why must you be disciplined because of sin?
  2. Read Prov. 3:11-12 and 14:34. Why should these verses bring you comfort?
  3. If God does NOT discipline you for sin, what may this mean?

This discipline will ALWAYS make us better

  1. Read verses 10-11. What is the purpose of God’s discipline? In verse 11, what should be the result?
  2. Don’t allow these moments to get you down; let them raise you up
  1. Read verses 12-13. What is the picture this passage paints of the effect of discouragement on the physical body?
  2. How can Satan use discouragement to rob you of your usefulness to Christ, and your joy as a Christian? Read Phil. 3:13-14. How can you apply this verse to yourself?

ACTION  APPLICATIONS:

1) Make a list of consequences you are facing, or have faced, as a result of bad decisions or sin;                                                                                                                                                           2) Evaluate each one from the viewpoint of what you learned from those consequences; 3) If you can’t find something you’ve learned, take some time to determine what you should learn;                                                                                                                                             4) If there is unconfessed sin that is part of this, confess it and ask forgiveness;               5) If you need to seek forgiveness for something you’ve done to others, do so.                                                                                                                                                                 6) Is there an action you need to take to move past it?                                                                 7) Move on!

Close:

Discipline! Not a word we really like, as it indicates a certain action has been done and is going to have a “reaction.” If someone has a child who begins doing something that can have dire consequences if continued, the parent will want to stop it before it becomes a habit, and institute a punishment to change or correct the behavior. God also has standards for us, and when we violate those standards with our living, He must discipline us. The comfort found in God’s discipline is that He only does this to those whom He calls His children. (To be sinful but see no discipline should cause you to closely examine your life to make sure you are saved.) And often our actions have consequences that may go on for the rest of our lives. If we are not careful and intentional, we may find the discouragement of long-standing consequences can ruin our joy, rob us of being useful Christians, and affect our health. Don’t let Satan “devour” you by telling you that you are worthless, but pray constantly that your life lines up with the biblical standards God has given. “Lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares you,” and run your race with strength!

Memory Verse: Hebrews 12:11: “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Thought: Sometimes, when we are in sin and discipline does not come immediately, we may feel we have “gotten away with it.” This is addressed in Romans 2:4 when Paul writes, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” God may extend His patience and mercy, allowing us time to realize how badly we are hurting Him, but not at all ignoring the sin. To continue without discipline should bring us to our knees even more quickly, as His goodness should lead us to an even greater repentance! If not, we may be despising the “riches of His goodness” and incur even greater wrath.

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LOSE THOSE WEIGHTS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

dreamstime_xxl_82954493Mother was no match for the angry waves. She was such a small woman, barely 5’4″, and maybe 115 lbs., and when she grabbed my eight-year-old hand to go walking in the sand as the ocean waves came in, she had a frantic child on her hands. Gradually, tiptoeing in the water where it dissipated into the sand, my fears calmed. Then she decided to go further out. Having been taught to take a bath in an inch of water, this was going to be a death march.

She tugged me out further, and the little swirling, sudsy water was not quite as fearsome as I thought. One little breaker would come to shore, followed by one a couple of inches higher. By finesse she walked us at a slight angle, and I didn’t realize we getting further from shore until the breakers were hitting my knees. They were various sizes, some small, some a little larger.

Mother didn’t know much about the ocean either. Soon she had tugged me until the waves were around my chest, and I was in a panic. At the same time, out of nowhere came one that went over our heads–and she let go of my hand. That seems millions of years ago, or yesterday. Whichever it was, I was rolling under the water, unable to process anything except strangling fear. Soon, either my mom or my dad found me and got me to shore. Being under the water is the lasting memory I have from the experience, and I hate the ocean to this day.

I have learned as an adult that worry can immobilize you just as surely as fear can. Both make you incapable of rational thought, both can lead to giving up. They are like chains: the link that is fear becomes a link of discouragement; we feel we are not capable to overcome something–an action, a habit, a spouse’s habit–and finally, we give up. Not good! So what can we do about it?

None of us are in this life to lose, are we? No one sets out to fail, with the intention strong in their heart “I’m going to start this day and FAIL just as big as I can!” No, we all want to win. Desiring to win is a great motivator, but before we can do that, we have to get rid of the extra baggage that we are carrying. How do we do that?

Get your Bible, your notebook for jotting thoughts down, and something to drink, then click on the link for the sermon from this past Sunday, preached by Jonathan Falwell at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Go to http://www.trbc.org/sermons and click the one for January 22, 2017. Gather everything you need, and settle in as the church learns how to get unchained from those things that would hold us back from being a winner. We are studying Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Planning University” series, and look forward to breaking free of the financial bondage that enslaves us. Study with us as we prepare our hearts to win this war with the enemy of our souls, set our lives and spirits free, and live an abundant life!

Overflow: Losing Weight to Win                                                                                           January 22, 2017                                                                                                                  Pastor Jonathan Falwell

Open:

If you are desiring to engage in exercise, training, or athletics, there are some common sense principles that can hold you back; for instance, running with a heavy weight in each hand. Can you think of some examples?

This week we continue the series entitled “Overflow,” learning to rid ourselves of those things that keep us enslaved with debt. God’s will is that we live life abundantly, and to do so “owing no man anything” (Romans 13:8). As you prepare to work with Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Planning University” materials, spend time studying the weekly sermon—it will help you further equip yourself to be all that God desires.

Focal Passage: Hebrews 12:1-4

Think About or Discuss:

You’re Not Alone

  1. Read verse 1a. What are some reasons we buy into Satan’s lies that we are alone in our entanglement of problems? If you said “most people are ashamed to share their troubles,” you are very true. It is much easier to wear a mask, especially at church, and be thought “super-holy” or “super-successful!” Who are the witnesses the writer to the Hebrews was referring to in this section of verse?
  2. What are some by-products of being lonely? (Try to think of as many as you can, but they will also be listed at the end of the study.)

Let It Go!

  1. Read verse 1b. As you think back upon the opening statement, what are some encumbrances that hold you back from living your life to the fullest? How many things would you like to do for God that you cannot because of a lack of funds? Or lack of good health?
  2. Read James 1:5-8. What will God give you when you are not sure of the right way, the right purchase, or the right decision? How are you to ask?
  3. Read Isaiah 59:2. What will cause a disruption in your relationship with God? Just as sin hurts human relationships, can you see that it also hurts your relationship with God?
  4. How can you lay these “weights” aside? An “Action Plan” is included at the end as well.

Clean It Up

  1. Read verse 1c. How do you know that God does not tolerate sin? Why would even small sins trip you up in your walk with Him? When you have “gotten by” with a sin, what is your natural reaction (in the flesh)?
  2. Read Daniel 4:27-29a. How long did God give Nebuchadnezzar to repent after Daniel had warned him of consequences to his sin?

Never Quit

  1. Read verse 1d. Why should we never quit? Will you win if you quit?
  2. Read James 5:10, 11, and Revelation 3:10. What is the mark of a true believer in Christ?

Know What Matters

  1. There is only one way to end the race well. What is it?

Close:

The outcome of any race, athletic event, or even a healthy lifestyle with all its benefits comes only by ridding ourselves of the things that hold us back—those “weights” that so easily beset us. Did you list “worry” as one? Shoving through the fog of sleep to discipline our bodies (I Cor. 9:27)? No pain, no gain, is a common saying when it comes to training, and is so true, even in freeing ourselves from money traps. As we focus on financial freedom, we must lay aside the hindrances that got us ensnared in the first place! Was it to keep up with the neighbors? To have the latest and best electronic or the Toy of the Year? In all cases 1 John 2:16 tells us that these things come from lust: either of the eyes, the flesh, or pride. Lustful thoughts—desire—gives way to actions, which lead to sin, and ultimately we find ourselves in a bad relationship with God. By categorizing these weights, we can eliminate them one by one, until we are in a place where we can start the “Baby Steps” (Dave Ramsey, Video 1) to living a life free from financial chains!

Memory Verse: Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The Degrees of Loneliness (Point 1): Loneliness leads to Discouragement (at where we are), which leads to Fear (of what’s coming), which leads to Inadequacy (I can’t do this), which leads to Apathy (I’ll just quit trying.)

ACTION POINTS FOR LAYING ASIDE HINDRANCES: 1) Look for the weights; 2) Come up with a plan; 3) Stop sinning by getting into God’s Word; 4) Find out what our race is, and start it!

For a deeper study time, get comfortable with using the tools on www.Biblegateway.com or www.blueletterbible.org. They are very user-friendly!

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BREAKING THE CHAINS THAT BIND YOU!

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I entered the sanctuary, thinking (to my shame) that there was nothing I was going to learn during the next hour. I mean, really, how can you be married to a banker for a hundred years and not have heard everything about money that can be said? Or so I thought. I had gotten great at listening to the multitude of conversations with my husband as he told me loan request stories, the financial report stories, those to do with investing, stock graphs, dividends, ad nauseum, as I murmured a quiet “Oh, my!” or “Wow!” or just “Hmmm,” every few minutes while my mind was figuring out how I was going to decorate the hallway with new wallpaper. Budgets? Forget it, we had tried it and failed.

One thing about being married to someone in a profession where they serve the public is that requests for advice is a regular occurrence. It was quite often that someone would come up and ask if he could meet with them to discuss a financial situation. We considered this a good thing: it meant that God was using his knowledge of finances to benefit friends or family, and we considered it a ministry for him, outside of church commitments. One time he met with Joan and Barry (this was in another state, no one around here). They had been married for several years, had both been out of a previous marriage, and had been practically destitute of material goods; they had to start over at that time. Furniture, household goods, all the things that are taken for granted every day, had to be bought–which they had done with credit cards. Meanwhile, Barry was paying child support, and their outgo in those early years was more than $500 per month more than their income. They had decided to get their spiritual lives back in order, but tithing seemed an impossibility. By the time they sought my husband’s help, they were more than $65,000 in debt, and were getting ready to declare bankruptcy. Had they come in much earlier, he could have helped, but at that point it was almost like shooting a dead horse. Eventually, with his constant help, he did see them turn their lives around, and become debt free.

When Dave Ramsey came up to the platform at Thomas Road Baptist Church to begin speaking, from the first word he had my solid, undivided attention. Here was not only a motivational speaker, but someone who had been on top, been on the bottom, and probably every place in between. Those things I could relate to in a small way. But when he said that he made the decision to do it if it was in the Bible, or not do it if it wasn’t, he crossed the line into my box. I want to do God’s will, and the Bible is my guide. He had just become my brother and a mentor. He had given me a reason to listen to him.

My husband–who I thought knows everything that has a dollar sign in front of it–must have been as motivated as I, because, at the end of the service, he bought one of the Financial Peace University packets. We are both excited to see what God is going to do.

Grab you Bible, your notebook, and a cup of something hot, and get ready for a tremendous service from Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA., that may change your life, depending on where you are with your finances. Click on http://www.trbc.org/sermons and hit the play button for Sunday, January 15, 2017. If you have a little extra time, listen to the congregational music, relating the words to your situation of debt. God will be so faithful as you commit your heart to Him, releasing you from the biggest debt you’ll ever carry: that of your sin. Start this FPU series with a life that has been turned over to the Creator, and have all your sins forgiven! It will make life so much easier as you work to get freedom from the bondage of financial entanglements. If you have someone who can watch this with you, carry on a conversation about the things Dave Ramsey says; push pause often if you want to hear something again, or discuss a comment. However you listen, do it with a full heart, ready for God to break the chains that hold you prisoner!

Overflow: Proven Biblical Money Principles                                                                                  Dave Ramsey

Open:

It probably comes as no surprise that money problems are one of the greatest causes of dissension in a family, or stress on an individual. Can you think of reasons this is true?

Today we begin a new series entitled “Overflow.” With all the advertising thrown at us daily, it’s hard not to get caught up in having the latest version of everything available. However, in doing so, debt accumulates, which in turn causes problems for anyone trying to live the “American Dream.” At the same time, the Bible states that the borrower (the one in debt) is a slave to the lender (the bank, the credit card company, etc.) We are going to work our way through this series, hoping the reward will be financial freedom in our lives.

Think About or Discuss:

Live on a written Budget

  1. Read Job 25:2, and 1 Cor. 14:33. What is one of the attributes of God? How is a budget a thing of “order”? If you are by yourself, jot your thoughts down in a notebook; if you are with others, discuss the comments.
  2. Read Luke 14:28. Who is speaking here? What point is Christ trying to get across to the people? What eventually happens when spending is not controlled?

Avoid Debt

  1. Read Prov. 22:7. How does this verse translate to your paycheck and your bills?
  2. Read Romans 13:8. This is God’s word to you; what does it say? Is this God’s best for you?
  3. Read Luke 7:41-43. When Christ died on the cross of Calvary, what was happening to the sin debt that you were burdened with? Can you think of a greater example of freedom from debt than this?

Foster High Quality Relationships

  1. Read Prov. 13:20. Why are your companions so important? Can you think of examples, perhaps of friends who gravitate to those who are like-minded? Think about your own friends for a moment: are they the type that will build you up, or pull you down? Should you change your closest circle of friends?
  2. Read Isaiah 41:6. What happens when a rotten apple or a potato are in a bag with many good ones? What lesson does that teach you about having companions who are not serious about their walk with Jesus?

Save and Invest

  1. Read Eccl. 11:1-2. How are these verses a good plan for investing? Why does it make common sense?
  2. Can you paraphrase Matt. 25:10-29. What point was Jesus trying to make?

Be Incredibly Generous

  1. How does this principle illustrate the second of the “Two Greatest” commandments that Jesus gave?
  2. Read Deut. 15:10. This is Old Testament! What was God trying to get you to see in this verse?

Close:

Five things! Five ways to organize your finances that will eventually result in freedom from bills that seem to come every day. Credit card companies assume a payoff time of thirty years—the length of most mortgages. Meanwhile, you are working many of your hours per week just to pay the interest on those material things you charged—things that will soon be broken or tossed away, or possibly put in a yard sale. Take the first step and write out a budget: one that is sensible, yet gives boundaries for impulsive purchases. But as your finances need to be dealt with, be certain that you have also taken care of the greatest debt you’ll ever be chained by: that of your sin which can separate you from God! If someone came along and wrote you a check to cover all you owe, you would probably fall to your knees and cry. How much greater to know that He who had no sin became sin for you, so that you could [become free from your debt of sin, and] become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Start with being free from that debt, and then move to your finances.

Memory Verse: Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

There are many verses that need to be read in today’s study, helping you realize God cares so very much about the way you handle money! He has told us that the love of it is the root of everything that is evil; He has also told us that He wants us to be good stewards of what He has entrusted to us. Take extra time on www.Biblegateway.com or www.blueletterbible.org, and study on your own some of the many examples that are written for us to learn to manage our finances well. He wants us to have life, and have it more abundantly!

If you can, attend Thomas Road Baptist Church and hear for yourselves the ways in which you can get financial freedom! Be sure to search out the study notes each week as well. May God bless you!

 

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DON’T GIVE UP IN THE STORMS!

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A whiteout! This was something I had only heard of, but never seen. This surely was what was being described when people mentioned snow falling so thick and fast that you could not see. I had given my word to deliver something to a friend, and it didn’t occur to me that snow–even snow like this–released me from making the delivery. Walking out of my subdivision, seeing no one outside, nor any cars on the road, was a giant tip-off, but promises were sacred. Or so I thought. I had on a jacket, mittens, jeans and tennis shoes but no boots (who owned boots in my world?) It was probably a good thing, as I could still feel the edge of the pavement through the soles of the shoes. Crossing the intersection, for a moment I looked longingly at the church on the corner. It was probably opened and heated–I could rest for a few minutes and let my feet thaw. But that ended up being a passing thought, as the sky got darker and darker with snow. By now it was closing in on 4:00 pm, and definitely daylight was not far away!

The house where I was headed was another three-quarters of a mile, about 1 1/2 miles total. Then the walk back. I didn’t know if I would make it. The world was like nothing I had ever seen before, with almost no vision, but I was tenacious about making the delivery. Singing songs helped the steps to pass, walking to the beat, almost not feeling my feet anymore.

Having moved only a few months earlier from a warmer climate, it didn’t occur to me that my life was in danger. Not stupid, just ignorant of the ways of blizzards. Finally! The house came into view, and I made it to their porch. I knocked and knocked but no one answered. Oh, dear Lord, I prayed, what do I do now? I tucked the item safely between the screen and the front door, but there was nothing to do but turn around and head slowly back.

This time I decided I would step inside the church for a moment to thaw. Unfortunately, the walk, although not all that long had it been spring, had given the pastor time to lock the door, and my decision was made for me. I plodded on, not realizing how close to freezing to death I was getting. The thought of my mom worrying about me, possibly going out in the snow herself, kept me going, although all I wanted to do was lay down and build a snowbank around me, to try to keep out the driving flakes that were coming so thick and fast.

Home appeared half-way down the last street. Somehow, I made it to the door, and practically fell inside. It’s funny–although I can remember the walk, the blizzard, and all the pain, I have no recollection of anything once I crossed the threshold of my home. Subsequently, I had to deal with frostbite, but had I been in a marathon, I would have gotten a prize for keeping on “keeping on!”

The sermon at Thomas Road Baptist Church, located in Lynchburg, VA, continued this past Sunday with the series “Unfinished: Don’t Quit! Never Give Up!” Click on the link http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and select the sermon for Sunday, October 9, 2016, preached by Dr. Ben Gutierrez. If you have time, worship with the congregation during the song service, or forward through until you reach the message. Be prepared to experience a powerful message encouraging us to continue when the going gets really tough! If you are doing the study by yourself, grab a notebook and take notes of your thoughts; if you have family or friends who can join you, discuss the questions below as you dig deeper into the section of Scripture Dr. Gutierrez preaches on. Above all, don’t let Satan defeat you, tell you life is hopeless, or ruin your peace and joy. He is a defeated enemy, and he knows it.

Dr. Ben Gutierrez

Open:

The temptation to quit is so very real when your circumstances have become over-whelming and there seems no way you will make it out. Have you kept on when you thought you couldn’t? Can you give an example, and write down or share the outcome?

This week we continue the series, “Unfinished.” Paul is very close to the end of his life, and desires that his last words encourage believers to never give up. If ever anyone had been in conditions where quitting would have seemed the best way out, it was he. Yet he knew that God would get him through, and heaven would be his reward. He pens instructions to all believers as to the importance of trusting that God will never leave our side, and will bring us safely through any storm.

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 3:10-17

Think About or Share:

Paul’s “Last Will and Testament”

  1. Verse 14, in particular, resounds with Paul’s message of not giving up on God when it seems as if we’re alone. We cannot go by feelings! What do we go by? What had kept Paul anchored in his faith?
  2. Can you think of an example of someone who has given up on God when the going got rough, rather than holding to Him with all their might and trusting in His promises?

“The Faith” is now established—Defend it and Live it!

  1. Paul’s admonition is that believers would put what they have learned into practice, just as he had done. Timothy had been taught the Word of God from childhood. Read Galatians 1:6,7 for a description of those who turn away.
  2. How does verse 16 describe God’s word? Do you believe that? How do you know your foundation is secure?

Many people were giving up on God!

  1. In I Timothy, Paul had referred many times to “some” people who turned away from God. Now in II Timothy, he mentions “all,” and several close friends in particular. Why do you think people were turning away, rather than holding on to God?
  2. When you think of ISIS, and the beheadings, Paul saw the same scenario. In fact, he was facing it in a matter of days. How would this affect your faith?

Three Spiritual Anchors

  1. 1) God’s Faithful Followers

God has left many examples to look to when you need your faith to be strengthened (Hebrews, Chapter 11 for example). Not only is the Bible full of faithful men and women, but you have only to look at your own path to see He has been not just good, but Great and Mighty in taking care of you. Can you think of an example? Don’t forget to write it down.

2) God’s Trustworthy Word!

When you are having the worst day possible, what happens when you sit down and absorb God’s word? What are some of the most comforting verses for you in the midst of crisis?

3) God’s Perfect Work!

Even when you think God is not listening, or not working for your good, or when you don’t understand why so much is going wrong, He is still working out His plan for your life. How do you know this to be true?

Close:

Paul was no longer teaching precepts for believers to live by—now he was giving them the most important words he could leave with them. “Don’t quit, don’t stop trusting, don’t give up!” He had seen the rise of Christianity, had seen a vision of the risen Christ that so deeply affected him, that beatings, shipwreck, starvation, and other situations could not cause him to turn away from telling everyone about the love of Jesus. Now he was seeing them give up because of the tremendous hatred toward believers. Above all, his message to us today in the midst of an anti-Christian world, is “Don’t give up!” Pray for each other daily, pray for strength to endure trials and testing (verse 12). God will never fail you, never leave you, and you have His promise in His word that He will be bearing your burdens and helping you carry your load. Get in His word and absorb it, so that in times of crisis it will not cross your mind to leave the faith!

Memory Verse: 2 Timothy 3:14: “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them.”

Focal Passage: 2 Timothy, Chapter 3:10-17

Extra Study this week: Read 1 Timothy to see how many times he mentioned those who were “falling away.” Hebrews  chapter 11 contains a list of people who lived and died, sometimes falling short but always coming back to God. It is a great encouragement to those who want to know that, with God, there are always second chances.

Photo: copyright, Sandra Day

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