Thursday, September 24, 2015

1 Thessalonians 2: Notes on God's Character

1 Thessalonians 2
Notes on God's Character

GOD’S CHARACTER - 1). Why does God let us suffer at all? (v.2) This is a question that almost always accompanies discussions about pain and the persecution of believers. But we ask that question with an assumption that we deserve a carefree life without issues, and we forget that God set us free when we didn’t deserve it. If we freely want His freedom, we must accept His will in tough times as well. If God was truly fair to us, we would never have been given salvation at all, let alone in specific trying situations. 2). Paul said that God was their witness. (v.5) He would defend them against false accusations. When we live for God, He knows we’ll face opposition and He’s prepared to defend us according to His will. We must let Him lead our defense, and trust Him wherever it goes. Sometimes, God wants us to be defenseless, like Jesus before Herod and Pilate.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

1 Samuel 9: Notes on Leadership

1 Samuel 9
Notes on Leadership

LEADERSHIP - 1). The servant realized that Samuel was nearby. (v.6) He suggested that they continue their search by approaching the man of God. He knew that the man of God could help them find their way. People need to realize that God places leaders in our lives to help us find our way. 2). The girls helped Saul and his servant. (v.12,13) They gave them all the details they needed to find Samuel. They helped them find their way. They were looking for Samuel to give them directions, and these girls gave them directions instead. Leadership is not just reserved for those in special positions, God will provide us with many opportunities to step up and be leaders for Him throughout our lives. 3). God brought Samuel to Saul, the next leader of Israel. (v.15,16) The up and coming leader had to find the current leader, and vice versa. They each had a part to play in the transition of leadership. When we move in and out of leadership, we must meet in the middle to make it a smooth transition. 4). Samuel saw Saul and God told him that this man was the one that would be King. (v.17) God confirmed to Samuel what he had seen with his own eyes. As leaders, seeing alone should not produce belief, we must allow God to speak to us to help us recognize truth in what we are seeing. 5). Samuel sent the servant ahead of them so he could give Saul a confidential message. (v.27) There are times when we must know when to speak in confidence and keep others from hearing what God wants us to say. This is not so God can be deceptive, but rather, so God can unveil His plan according to His timeline.

Monday, September 7, 2015

1 Kings 8: Notes on Attitude

1 Kings 8
Notes on Attitude

ATTITUDE – 1). Solomon has now had a few moments where he did something for God in such a great capacity that it couldn’t be measured. (v.5) He may have tried to measure it, but couldn’t. Just a sign of the great prosperity God had given him and Israel during this time. In times of blessing, we must keep our eyes on God as the supplier of all that we have and worship Him. 2). The smoke in the temple. (v.10) These people were living in a time when God had done amazing things, and they believed in the miraculous. And now they were taking an extremely bold step in moving the Ark. Many had done so previously to their own peril, but Solomon felt that he had a strong word from the Lord to move forward. He had confidence, because he had done his best, and he trusted in God’s words. Now, would it be good enough? And just as he might have been pondering that question, then came the smoke. The smoke was proof to the people that they were doing what God wanted; it endorsed Solomon as the true King. 3). Solomon declared that he had built God a great temple. (v.13) Though he gave God the credit later on in the chapter, this verse shows a hint of the pride that would well up in Solomon as the wisest leader in history. We must be careful to guard our hearts in the victories we experience in God’s service, so we don’t let pride well up in us to bring about our downfall as well. 4). ‘with His own hand’. (v.15) Solomon gave God the credit. Though he had worked so hard, as had so many people in his service for seven years, it was still all because of God. This shows that his humility, which we had seen earlier in his career, is still intact.

VERSES 22-61
ATTITUDE –  1). People will pray to God when they become aware of the afflictions of their own hearts. (v.38) It’s not only the things that happen to us in this world that can drive us to God, but so can the attitudes we discover within ourselves. Regardless of our outlook, we can find the need to search for God. 2). We should fear God in our lives. (v.40) The fear of God is the respect we give Him by honoring Him with our lives. It’s an acknowledgement that He is active among us and we seek His favor. We should fear the Lord because everything we are and everything we have is because of Him. The moment we stop fearing the Lord is the moment when we should be afraid of the Lord. 3). Solomon asked that God would respond to foreigners prayers so that the whole world would know that God’s name is on the temple that Solomon built. (v.43) Solomon was probably the most important man in the world at that time, and he had just built an amazing temple for God. But even after all of his accomplishments, he wanted the world to know that it was God who empowered him and made him great. We should always direct praise for our efforts to God, who makes us successful in what we do. 4). ’For there is no one who does not sin’ (v.46) Solomon was a wise man because he realized that no one is perfect, no one is without sin. Only a humble man could say this, because he is pronouncing judgment over himself as a sinner as well. 5). Solomon knelt and prayed to the Lord (v.54) Kneeling wasn’t actually all that common. Most people would pray standing up with their arms outstretched. Maybe he was moved by the supernatural dealings of the moment, and he knew that he must lower himself in some act of humility. We should always be prepared to kneel before our God in submission to His command.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

1 Corinthians 7: Notes on Family

1 Corinthians 7
Notes on Family

FAMILY - 1). Paul encouraged them to stay sexually pure by keeping sex in the confines of marriage between one man and woman. (v.2,3) As they become one and stay faithful, it feeds the physical needs of our lives and protects us from the pain and tragedy associated with sexual sin. The Bible condones traditional marriage, and so should we. The greatest weapon we have against sexual temptation is a Godly marriage. 2). Sex is one of the enjoyable duties of marriage. (v.3) This has been a tough subject in the church, often avoided and therefore unintentionally discouraged. But in this passage we have freedom to prioritize it, work at it, become excellent, and enjoy it. 3). We shouldn’t be apart from each other in a marriage too long. (v.5,6) We can decide for ourselves, but the longer we stay apart, the more that Satan will tempt us to sin sexually. God made married couples to enjoy intimacy and remain close to one another. Time apart can be wasted time unless God is at the center of it. 4). Paul gave some important foundational thoughts about marriage. (v.10,11) Marriage is equally between a man and a woman for life. And marriages will have difficulties, but they are worth it. 5). People with unsaved marriage partners shouldn't abandon them. (v.12,13) They can't control their partner if they give up, but Christians are people who persevere. God doesn't want us to be quitters. 6). Children should always be a priority for reasons to stay together. (v.14) Even in situations where only one spouse is a Christian it would still be better for kids to live with both parents rather than one or the other. Parents are responsible for their children and their spiritual awakening.

VERSES 25-40
FAMILY - 1). Paul encouraged them not change their relationship status during times of crisis. (v.27) He understood that difficult times are made much more challenging when the family isn’t secure. Families were meant to be an anchor in our lives during troubling times. It is the desire of our enemy to make the family the reason for the troubles, so we should strive to keep it as a force for good within our community. 2). Paul admits that marriage can be hard. (v.28) Many troubles can be associated with marriage. This is a good thing to remember when counseling those starting a family. They shouldn’t shy away from troubles, but expect and prepare for them. Though challenging, it is also incredibly worth it in God’s eyes. We must have God’s approval because His plans for us our more important than even our plans for ourselves. 3). Married couples must have divided interests in their pursuit to please God because they should please each other as well. (v.33,34) Though written with a more negative outlook, this is a blessing in our life and one that God created for our enjoyment. We please God by caring for the relationships in our life, with the most important being our marriage and families. We can please God and our families at the same time, when they are aligned together and pursuing His will. 4). Marriage is a protection from sin. (v.36) Not only is it a blessing from God but it also can keep us holy in a sinful culture.  5). Marriage is a commitment for life. (v.39) Death is the only act that can break the marriage bond. Even then our commitment to God remains. We can remarry but we can never find another God. Our priorities should always be God first and then marriage and family second.