My son is quite the tea tosser. What is a tea tosser? One who tosses tea! I am a coffee drinker, but even more so, I am a bigger tea drinker. One of my mugs is black so it is not as easy to distinguish if the mug is completely empty when the beverage is closer to the bottom of the mug. When my son had seen my mug sitting on the counter top and it appeared to be empty, he thought he would be funny. He grabbed the mug and attempted to juggle it around. Needless to say, he dumped my tea all over the place. We had a good laugh. He truly thought the mug was empty. The joke was on him, as was the tea!
Many times, things are not like they appear. We look at the outside of a person, but we do not see the heart. We see outward actions, but we do not know the inward motives. The Lord looks at our heart. No matter how hard we try to disguise ourselves, how much we pretend to be something we are not, God sees. He knows how much tea is in the mug, and He knows how pure and how deceitful is the condition of your heart.
The Bible tells us that the heart is the most deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). It is clear our hearts are in need of some deep cleansing. Thank God, He has the perfect cleaner to get that accomplished (Titus 3:5). Our heart is purified by faith and cleansed by the Spirit (Acts 15:9). Ask the Lord today, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 NIV).
My daughter went out to eat for her first sit down dinner with a group, where she was then required to take care of her own bill and tip accordingly. She was well prepared for the trip and was excited to have some time to spend with her friends dining out. When it was time to pay the bill, my daughter figured out the tip like I taught her using a simple math trick. She rounded up as well, something else I taught her. Hey, I like my kids to be equipped.
My daughter was ready to pay, but then a few people questioned the tip she was leaving. You aren’t leaving that amount are you?!? That’s too much. A few gasped at the thought. But she was determined to bless the person with a good tip like she saw in action so many times. Nonetheless, there were more gasps and some people telling her it was too much to give. Just an FYI, it was only $5 for a $15 meal; it wasn’t something outrageous. Even so, she didn’t give the tip she planned. She listened to her friends who told her it was too much, and followed their instructions to get change and leave precisely the exact percentage down to the penny as best she could get.
Often during tip time, people do what reminds me of doing a duty, giving what had to be given by society’s terms. Like paying union dues or a gas bill. My daughter felt bad that she caved in. I told her that for the next meal, she can say she wishes to bless the person and just give what is placed on her heart. This was the first time she was in this situation, and with her innocent eyes, she hasn’t witnessed people trying to tip the minimum. All she sees is an outpouring of generosity. Today, stand bold. Don’t allow the people around you to dictate your actions. God is generous, more generous than anyone. You will never out give God. Truth. If the Spirit leads you to bless someone, whether it be a nice tip, some cash, a gift card, some manual labor, etc., listen. We are blessed to be a blessing. And it’s such a blessing to be a blessing. This world is a dark place. We are called to be the light. Don’t hide it. Shine it. Be the difference. Show the love.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7 [NIV]
“And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35 [NLT]
I am very particular about things. Some say I have OCD, but the doctor said it is only OCD tendencies. When it comes to scents, I like to stick with vanilla and honey or like ocean mists. Typically, the flowery scents attack my nose. Today I asked my daughter to pick out two hand soaps. I did not realize what I was getting myself into by giving her control of the hand soap selection. When I saw what she picked, after we were already home, I cringed at the one bottle. It was a flowery scent.
When I asked her why she selected the flowery hand soap, she said she didn’t look at the scents for the hand soaps. She did not consider scent at all. She selected the hand soap by picking up what was “pretty.” She thought the soap she selected—which she also noted was “special edition” – looked nice. Sadly, the smell leaves more to be desired.
In life, we often make decisions by the looks of things, including our decisions on the people with which we engage. We pass judgment. We turn our noses. We engage with people who look like us. We sometimes avoid people who look a certain way, whether it be due to lack of knowledge, a fear issue, or something else. We read what happened when God’s people wanted a king. They were given a king—King Saul. This man was the one who looked like a king. We later find out that though Saul looked like a king, he certainly was not someone who would lead his people in the right way. But then comes along David. He was a man after God’s own heart. He did not look like a king, but he sure had a heart for God. King David allowed God to do awesome things through him. He continued to keep His eyes fixed on the Lord. Today, be open to how God wants to use you. Be ready to receive anyone God sends your way!
“And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’” – Acts 13:22 [ESV]
Look Back – Remember what God has done
Joshua 3-4 – REMEMBER WHAT GOD HAS DONE
Remember personal experience
Remember to share faith – John 21:25
NO ONE CAN TAKE AWAY YOUR TESTIMONY- IT IS YOURS ALONE
Look Back – Remember past events and old life
Dwell on past sins – missing old life – longing for what was
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Leave your old self behind – put on new self (Ephesians 4:17-24)
Old self – “the flesh” is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so (Romans 8:6-7) – old self is all about us
Lot’s Wife – Genesis 19, Luke 17:32-33 – Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it
Harboring unforgiveness towards others / holding grudges
FORGIVE means to NOT TALK ABOUT IT and to NOT THINK ABOUT IT
Forgive just as Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13)
FORGIVE LIKE IT NEVER HAPPENED
Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. (Matthew 6:12)
Guard your heart – Proverbs 4:23
Pray for them – But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28)
Look Back – Remember Past Mistakes
Romans 3:23 – All fall short of the glory of God
Everyone makes mistakes:
- Abraham fled to Egypt because of drought (Genesis 12-13)
- Moses killed Egyptian (Exodus 2) & struck rock in anger (Numbers 20)
- Peter denied Jesus THREE times (Mark 14:66-72)
Today’s Passage: Conception and Birth of Jesus – Matthew 1:18-25
“Verse 21 – “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Nathan Rebukes David – 2 Samuel 12:1-14
- David – man after God’s heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22).
- David commits adultery & plans murder to cover up sin (2 Samuel 11).
- David’s repents – TRUE REPENTANCE – David’s prayer – Psalm 51
Knowing if it is a sin
- Sin is going against God and His Word. Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. (1 John 3:4). Know God’s Word. Know His Commands. READ BIBLE & PRAY – REQUIRES AN ACTIVE, INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP
- Believers have His Spirit (the Spirit of God) to teach (Ephesians 1:17) and convict (John 16:8)
You must admit sins
- To be healed (James 5:16)
- To get another chance (Proverbs 28:13)
- To be changed (Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5)
- To share with others
Your sins are forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ
- Declare with your mouth and believe in your heart (Romans 10:9)
- While you were dead in sin He forgave ALL our sins (Colossians 2:13)
- The debt was cancelled – Jesus nailed it to the Cross – paid in full (Colossians 2:14)
- He blots out our transgressions (Isaiah 43:25)
- He will not even remember our sins – acts as if they never happened – forgives as far as the east to the west (Psalm 103:12)
Confession isn’t necessary for forgiveness – Jesus finished that once for all – but it is important
There is NO ONE between you and God.
- Jesus encourages us to confess to the Lord (Matthew 6:12, Mark 11:25, Luke 11:4)
- We were given an Advocate with the Father – Mediator – Holy Spirit (1 John 2:1)
- We should reach out to Him daily for a spiritual washing (1 John 1:9)
- We should confess to each other because it’s beneficial to the body (James 5:16)
- Not only do others realize we all struggle, but there is ACCOUNTABILITY. We all need an accountability partner who will SPEAK TRUTH.
Philippians 1:6 – He will complete the work He began in you – TRUST
Jonah [Jonah 1-4] and Paul [Acts 27]
“Where [God] is, tragedy is only provisional and partial, and shipwreck and dissolution are not the absolutely final thing.” – William James
Acceptance of God
Paul was all about joy, so joyful to take the message of Christ anywhere – even wanted to build on a new foundation and reach those who haven’t heard
“And Paul said, ‘I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.’” – Acts 26:29 [NASB]
Jonah angry that God showed mercy – Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh because He knew God would have mercy – Jonah had a covering from Lord and then it died and he got angry, had mercy on plant but not happy with mercy God showed to those who he didn’t believe deserved it.
“But the Lord said, ‘You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?’” – Jonah 4:10-11 [NIV]
JOY OR ANGER
Boldness for God
Both knew what to do on the ship. Jonah slept & kept silent until late – Paul tried to vocalize what to do Are you vocal or quiet?
“Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 [NASB]
SPEAK UP OR KEEP SILENT
Closeness to God How close are you to God? “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” – James 4:8a [NLT] Always moving toward or moving away. Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh (Jonah 1:2-3) – Paul wanted to go to Rome (Acts 19:21)
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” – Psalm 145:18 [ESV] “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” – John 14:21 [NIV]
CLOSE OR DISTANT
Bible Study Questions:
[Jonah 1-4 & Acts 27]
Tonight we discussed two different people (Jonah and Paul) who both were called by God to deliver His message. Fully understanding our calling from God requires a lot more than biblical knowledge.
Acceptance of God
1) Accepting God for Who He is includes accepting that He is merciful. What is mercy?
2) How does mercy differ from grace?
3) How do Paul and Jonah differ in their degree of acceptance of mercy?
4) Do you find some people more difficult to show mercy?
5) Read Jonah 4:10-11. What do you think God telling us?
Boldness for God
6) Paul knew what to do on the ship and he spoke up. When is it easy for you to speak up and to be bold for God?
7) Jonah slept and was silent about the truth until he was approached by others. What keeps us from stepping forward and speaking up?
8) Has there been a moment in your life when you kept silent? How did you feel?
Closeness to God
9) Who determines how close we are to God?
10) What are we supposed to call on Him in?
11) What does John 14:21 tell us about the results of calling upon God?
12) What keeps you moving away from God? Toward God?
Peter and John were proclaiming the Good News. It disturbed people and they were put in prison. Annas the high priest and Caiaphas questioned them. They spoke of Jesus and the salvation only possible through Him. They were commanded to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus.
“As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” – Acts 4:20 [NIV]
- “We cannot stop telling” [NLT]
- “We cannot stop talking” [GW]
- “There’s no question – we can’t keep quiet” [MSG]
Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch
Told to “Rise and go toward the south” (v. 26) “he rose and went” (v. 27)
2) Spirit Led
Ready to listen to God’s instruction – an angel of the Lord said (v. 26)
3) Specific Instructions
Spirit said go over and join this chariot (v. 29)
4) Concern for Others
Concerned about others understanding
“Do you understand what you are reading?” (v. 30)
5) Wait for the Open Door
No I need help – BOOM – DOOR OPEN
Begins with Isaiah passage and then speaks about the Good News of Jesus (v. 31)
6) Don’t stand in the way
What prevents me from being baptized?
Nothing (v. 37-38)
7) Don’t miss a beat
Spirit of Philip is carried away
His service is done – Onward and upward (v. 39-40)
This is one of the 4 part Acts series:
In 1 Samuel 29, we read of Achish telling David that he is “blameless in (his) sight as an angel of God.” Those are some kind words for David. Even so, the Philistines were going off to battle, but they didn’t want David to go with them. They were concerned that he would become an adversary if he accompanied them.
In verse 3, we read, “I have found no fault in (David) to this day” (ESV). Though “the lords do not approve” Achish recognized David as “honest” and “found nothing wrong” (v. 6 ESV). David was a man with a good reputation. He was trusted by those who knew him.
Today consider the words one would say about you. Would people say you are honest? Would people find any fault with you? Would they speak kind words? We are to please God rather than man (Acts 5:29). As we live a life pleasing to God – obeying His Word and following His will, we too will be on the receiving end of kind words. People will take notice as you rebel against the world, as you live differently than what the world says. Stand up for the truth and you will stand firm.
“And Achish answered David and said, ‘I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an angel of God. Nevertheless, the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He shall not go up with us to the battle.’” 1 Samuel 29:9 [ESV]