My neighbor always lets his weeds get 2-3 feet high. Sometimes as I am navigating down the footpath, a weed will rub against my leg and I jump in the air and quickly look down to make sure I’m safe. In my mind, I know that he never addresses the weeds. But even still, I look down because there is a small chance that a mosquito or spider or something else is crawling on my leg. I hate bugs.
When I was a pastor, I always encouraged people to look in the Bible to see the verses I was referencing in a sermon. It was important for me to point people to the actual scripture so that everyone could see what God says. Even though most of the time it is only weeds rubbing against your legs, every so often there is a mosquito or spider crawling on your leg. If you are looking in your Bible to see what God says, you can check for yourself. You aren’t trusting it’s a simple grazing of a weed. You’re able to know it is just a weed. This is important for your walk with Jesus—to know for yourself what God says. Yes, you won’t know it all. Yes, you won’t understand it all. But open up His Word and seek Him.
There are a lot of commentators of the Bible. There are thousands of pastors and theologians. Interpretations vary at times because people allow their own misconceptions and traditions to speak into the Word. People read what they want to read. People cherry pick. People have agendas. People are broken. I’m not suggesting that the last sermon you heard was wrong or that commentaries are bad. My pastor shared a great message from God this past Sunday, and my bookshelf is lined with commentaries. My suggestion, my desire for you is to always seek Him and His Word for yourself. Independent Bible reading and study should be a regular occurrence. What is God saying to you today?
“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” – Psalm 25:5 [ESV]
Seeking God Series – Week 1 – Water Baptism
[Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-23, John 1:29-33]
What is Water Baptism?
Water Baptism symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and it is your public declaration that you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.
Baptize – “baptízō” – “immerse, sink, drown, go under.”
NOT GOING TO GET INTO DISCUSSION OF WHAT IS RIGHT OR WRONG WITH METHOD – SOME DUNK, SOME POUR OR SPRINKLE, SOME GO BACKWARDS, SOME GO FORWARDS, ETC.
Ancient Christian art – go into water waist deep & pour water on head.
Philip & Eunuch (Acts 8:38-39) – doesn’t say immersed. Said they went down into the water, Philip baptized him, and he came out of the water. “baptízō” – submerge, immerse (dip under)
Same words used in Luke 11:38
“His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom.”
In Luke, the “baptízō” meant handwashing
Baptism does not save you, but shows the world that you have already been saved.
Water Baptism is a sign of Spirit Baptism
Acts 2:38-39 – Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.
Acts 10:44-48 – While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
Water Baptism is NOT required for salvation, but it is a biblical command and demonstrates your love and obedience to Christ.
Water Baptism doesn’t make you a member of God’s family, only faith in Christ does that. Water Baptism shows you are part of God’s family.
Christ commanded Water Baptism
Matthew 28:19-20 – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus never commanded Water Baptism until here – because He finished His work – this is a new sign of the new covenant
Water Baptism is necessary for obedience
Why is Water Baptism important?
Water Baptism declares your faith, shares Christ’s burial and Resurrection, symbolizes your death to your old life, and announces your new life in Christ. It’s also a celebration of your inclusion in God’s family, God’s eternal family!
It is a physical picture of a spiritual truth and represents what happened the moment God brought you into His family.
Being included in God’s family is the highest honor, the greatest privilege you and I will ever receive. Nothing else comes close.
Read Acts 8:29-38. What are the events that happen from the time of their first meeting until the baptism?
Read Acts 8:12-18.
Why didn’t they receive the Holy Spirit before Peter and John arrived?
Was it possible that Peter and John needed to witness what God was doing with the Gentiles, how they too could receive the Holy Spirit?
Read Acts 19:1-10.
Why did the Ephesus dozen (the 12 men) not receive the Holy Spirit when they believed?
What was different between the baptism of John and the baptism of Jesus?
Seeking God Series – Week 2 – Baptism of the Holy Spirit
[Luke 3:21-22, John 1:32-34]
The focus on Jesus’ encounter with John at the Jordan River is on the anointing with the Spirit rather than the act of Water Baptism.
Luke 3:21-22 – When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
John 1:32-34 – Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him. And I myself did not know Him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Colossians 2:9-15 – For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self-ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Every believer has the power & anointing of the Holy Spirit.
The gift of the Holy Spirit seals the believer. God gives His Spirit only to those who are His.
Joel 2:28-29 – And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
John 7:38-39 – Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Why is it important?
If you don’t have it… you have not believed in Jesus.
MUST BE BORN AGAIN
John 3:5-8 – Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
BEING MADE NEW – FROM THE INSIDE OUT
Galatians 3:27 – And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.
CHILD OF GOD
2 Corinthians 1:22 – and He has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised us.
Galatians 4:6-7 – Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are His child, God has made you also an heir.
UNITED AS ONE BODY
1 Corinthians 12:13 – For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body–whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
Ephesians 4:4-6 – There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
How do you live Spirit-filled?
If you believe – already filled with the Spirit. However, you might now be allowing Him to move freely. “Less of me, more of You.” Allow His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control guide & direct your steps. Live by His power!
Read John 3:3-8. What does this mean?
Read John 7:38-39. What does this mean?
Read Ephesians 4:4-6. Breakdown all of the “ones” listed and what each of them mean.
Seeking God Series – Week 3 – Anxiety
Matthew 6:25-34 – If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Luke 12:4-7 – I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Philippians 4:6-7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
John 16:33 – I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Read Luke 12:25. This verse speaks of adding a single moment to your life. If the answer is no, worrying cannot add a single hour to your life—then what does worrying do?
Read Psalm 127:2. What does this verse tell us?
Read Philippians 4:6-7. This verse speaks about praying with thanksgiving. How does this help us to combat our anxieties and worries?
Read Matthew 8:23-27. In this passage, the disciples are anxious during a storm and Jesus is sleeping. How does Jesus reply? How is worry, anxiousness, and fear related to faith?
Seeking God Series – Week 4 – Suffering
Job 1:6-12 – God leads Job into a season of testing, just like Jesus was also led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (see Matthew 4:1-11).
Testing/Trials are considered positive. They are to help prove someone to be who God created them to be in life. They stretch and grow us.
Temptations are considered negative. God tests us; He allows trials. GOD DOES NOT TEMPT! The devil tempts us to try and cause us to fail.
God says, “All right, you may test him. Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but DON’T HARM HIM physically.” (1:12).
Satan had to get permission. Job was not out of the protective hand of the Father.
Lost his animals, his shepherds, his farmhands, his servants.
Lost his 7 sons and 3 daughters.
Job stood up, tore his robe in grief, shaved head, and FELL TO THE GROUND TO WORSHIP. (1:20)
“I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” (1:21)
JOB DID NOT SIN BY BLAMING GOD.
Job 2:3-6 – God again allows Satan to test Job.
“Do with him as you please BUT SPARE HIS LIFE” (2:6)
Terrible boils from head to foot
Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among ashes. His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” (2:8-9)
“Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” (2:10)
JOB SAID NOTHING WRONG.
Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar – barely recognized him, wailed loudly, tore robes, threw dust into air over their heads, sat on ground with him for seven days in silence. THEY SAW HIS SUFFERING WAS TOO GREAT FOR WORDS.
THE LORD CHALLENGES JOB
Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. (38:2-3)
God exposes Job’s ignorance of who God really is by describing Himself in Job 38-40.
Job replies, “I am nothing – how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.” (40:4-5)
JOB’S FINAL RESPONSE
“I know that you can do anything and no one can stop you… I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.” (42:2-3)
“I HAD ONLY HEARD ABOUT YOU before, but NOW I HAVE SEEN YOU WITH MY OWN EYES. I take back everything I said and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” (42:5-6)
Job prays for friends
The Lord restored Job’s fortunes, giving him twice as much as before.
Read Job 7:17 and Psalm 8:4-6. Consider what Job is saying here… what he recognizes, and how it relates to what the Psalmist notes.
Read Job 12:10. What does this verse declare? Why do we constantly need to remind ourselves of this truth?
Read Job 19:25-27. This passage declares that Job knows His Redeemer lives and he is overwhelmed at the thought of seeing Him with his own eyes.
How has God redeemed us?
What is so overwhelming at the thought of seeing God?
Read Job 23:3. Still Job desires God. Through all of the suffering and back and forth with his friends, he wants to converse with God. There are two options we have when suffering – run from God or draw near. How is this desire to meet God satisfied?
Seeking God Series – Week 5 – Guardian Angels
Psalm 91:11-12 – “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”
Daniel 6:22 – “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” – DANIEL AND LIONS DEN, ANGEL CLOSES MOUTHS OF LIONS
(*) Having angels doesn’t increase safety
Creator of the Universe is your Father (Romans 8:16-17 – The Spirit testifies we are God’s children, heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ)
Lord of the Universe is your Brother (Romans 8:29 – Jesus is firstborn among many brothers & sisters)
Cannot have safer, more exalted position than God
Exodus 23:20 – “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.”
John 16:5-15 – Later the Spirit of Jesus is our companion.
Purpose of angels – to serve and care for God’s people
Hebrews 1:13-14 – “And God never said to any of the angels, ‘Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.’ Therefore, angels are only servants–spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.”
Psalm 34:7 – “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” GUARDS – SURROUNDS & DEFENDS
Angels encamp around the godly, not just one, but MANY to guard the faithful. The care of the entire Church is committed to angels.
2 Kings 6:14-17 – “He sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
Similar to 2 Kings 2:11 when Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven at the appearance of a chariot of fire and horses of fire.
Matthew 26:53 – “Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and He would send them instantly?” – ARREST OF JESUS
Psalm 103:19-22 – “The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.”
(*) The idea that humans in general have an angel specifically assigned to them as a guardian angel for their lifetime is NOT addressed in the Bible.
Acts 12:15 – “Peter’s angel” comment when Peter rescued by angel from prison and he returns to a house full of people praying for him
“You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”
This doesn’t mean that Peter had a specific angel assigned to him always. He had an angel perform a special assignment to rescue him from jail. Some people did hold a belief that people had their own specific angel at all times. AGAIN, THIS ISN’T IN THE BIBLICAL TEXT.
(*) Angels have special privileged access to the Father
Matthew 18:10 – “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”
v. 6 – “Little ones” – true believers in Jesus with a childlike trust in God
This concept of “their angels” could refer to a specific angel assigned to each disciple, or could just be appointed for a specific time.
NOTE: v. 11 is missing from many Bibles
“And the Son of Man came to save those who are lost.”
Revelation 5:11-12 – “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
Read Psalm 91:11 and Matthew 4:11. What do these verses say about angels?
Read Colossians 2:18. The church in Colossae had some false teachers sharing about the worship of angels. Paul addresses the behavior. What is wrong with worshipping angels? What position should they have in our lives?
Hebrews 1 discusses angels at length. Read Hebrews 1:5-14. What can you glean from this passage?
Read Ephesians 2:4-6, 1 Corinthians 6:3, and 2 Timothy 2:12. How are we positioned in comparison to angels, and will that change?
Seeking God Series – Week 6 – Forgiveness
[Hebrews 10:1-18, Psalm 19]
Some believe the number 6 symbolizes imperfection
Sin is sin – don’t get caught in trying to rate sins.
Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. (1 John 3:4)
Everyone sins (Romans 3:23)
Wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)
Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2)
The Purpose of the Law:
Temporary guardian until Christ came
The law identifies sin and reveals spiritually bankruptcy and need for Jesus (Romans 7:7 – law reveals sin)
Relationship with God and one another
Separation from the nations – set apart (Deuteronomy 7:6-11)
True worship – the law is holy, provides standard of righteousness (Romans 7:12)
Old Testament Sacrifices
The law is weak because it depended upon man’s ability to follow
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, (Romans 8:3)
Blood sacrifice gave visual display of the harsh reality of sin. There is a price to pay. Sin results in death.
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22)
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. (Leviticus 17:11)
Ultimate Forgiveness (Once for All)
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:18)
The Sacrifice of Jesus – Hebrews 10:1-18 [MSG]
The old plan was only a hint of the good things in the new plan. Since that old “law plan” wasn’t complete in itself, it couldn’t complete those who followed it. No matter how many sacrifices were offered year after year, they never added up to a complete solution. If they had, the worshipers would have gone merrily on their way, no longer dragged down by their sins. But instead of removing awareness of sin, when those animal sacrifices were repeated over and over they actually heightened awareness and guilt. The plain fact is that bull and goat blood can’t get rid of sin. That is what is meant by this prophecy, put in the mouth of Christ:
You don’t want sacrifices and offerings year after year;
you’ve prepared a body for me for a sacrifice.
It’s not fragrance and smoke from the altar
that whet your appetite.
So I said, “I’m here to do it your way, O God,
the way it’s described in your Book.”
When he said, “You don’t want sacrifices and offerings,” he was referring to practices according to the old plan. When he added, “I’m here to do it your way,” he set aside the first in order to enact the new plan—God’s way—by which we are made fit for God by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus.
Every priest goes to work at the altar each day, offers the same old sacrifices year in, year out, and never makes a dent in the sin problem. As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process. The Holy Spirit confirms this:
This new plan I’m making with Israel
isn’t going to be written on paper,
isn’t going to be chiseled in stone;
This time “I’m writing out the plan in them,
carving it on the lining of their hearts.”
I’ll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins.
Once sins are taken care of for good, there’s no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them.
Not Under the Law
For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. [Romans 6:14]
Not burdened with the Law
Not a way to earn salvation
The Law Today
The Law is fulfilled when we love our neighbor (Romans 13:8, Galatians 5:14) – LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS
Love is the outworking of authentic saving faith
The Law was all about obedience which flows from faith
God’s commands in OT & NT lead to full and lasting joy.
We should delight in God’s Law.
Read 1 John 1:9. This verse notes that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us of our sins and cleanse us. Take some time to pray and search your heart. Write your sin in the sand and cover it up, symbolizing how the blood of Christ covers all sin.
Is there anything that God wants you to stop?
Is there something that is keeping you from His best?
Are you actively engaged in a sin that separates you from Him?
Are you holding on to a past sin you have already sought repentance for previously? The devil often will remind us of our past. Remember, you have been forgiven the moment you asked for forgiveness. Take some time to pray and declare these scripture verses.
Read Acts 3:19.
I have repented. I have turned to God. My sins are wiped out. I welcome the refreshing that comes from the Lord. Continue to refresh me Lord!
Read 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am in Christ. I am a new creation. The old has gone. The new is here!
Read Hebrews 10:17 & Psalm 103:12.
God does not remember my sins. I am forgiven completely. As far as the east is from the west, He has removed my sin.
Read Colossians 1:13-14
He has rescued me from darkness. He has brought me into the kingdom of His son. I have redemption and forgiveness in Him.
Read Romans 6:14.
Sin is not my master. I am under grace.
Read John 8:36.
Jesus has set me free. I am free.
Read Psalm 51. This psalm was written by David. The prophet Nathan approached David following his act of adultery with Bathsheba. Take some time to participate in the handwashing station as a reminder that your sins have been blotted out by the Lamb, and you are considered whiter than snow.
Write your own personal Psalm 51.
Read Psalm 32. Praise the Lord for the righteousness you have in Christ. You are righteous (right with God) through faith in Jesus Christ. Add your “marks” to the reflective art piece as a reminder of the righteous robe that you now adorn because of His great love.
Seeking God Series – Week 7 – Redemption
Redemption – deliverance from captivity by means of ransom price
“Ruth” means “friendship.”
Time Period: During the Time of Judges
Everyone did whatever was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).
Famine in Bethlehem in Judah. As a result, Elimelek and Naomi, and their sons Mahlon and Kilion travel to Moab. (v. 1)
Moab was one of the nations that oppressed Israel (see Judges 3 – when the King of Moab Eglon was killed by left-handed Ehud).
While in Moab, Mahlon married Ruth; Kilion married Orpah. Elimelek and his sons died, leaving Naomi, Ruth and Orpah as widows. Widows typically were taken advantage of or ignored. (v. 3-5)
Naomi decides to return to Bethlehem and instructs her daughter-in-laws to return to their families because she had no other sons to redeem them. Both objected at first, but then Orpah agrees to return to her people. Ruth opted to return with Naomi to Bethlehem, accepting Naomi’s people and God for her own. (“Return” same verb as “Repent”). (v. 6-16)
With joining Naomi, Ruth gave up the possible opportunity she had to have security and children with her own people. When Naomi and Ruth returned, the people celebrated; however, Naomi asked to be called “Mara,” meaning bitter, because of her situation. Some believe this type of situation could be attributed to divine displeasure due to living for ten years in Moab, away from God’s people. (v. 20-22)
Ruth set out to glean in the fields. Gleaning is picking up the leftovers. The Law said that landowners must leave the corners of their land for the poor, and anything that fell to the ground was also available. The field Ruth went to was owned by Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s family. As a relative, Boaz was one of the possible family redeemers. The Law stated that a widow could be married by her husband’s brothers or family members, and this person would be the family redeemer, who would keep the inheritance alive.
Ruth had a great reputation among the people because of her sacrifice and care for Naomi (see 2:11, 3:11). Boaz instructed his workers to allow extra barley to fall down in Ruth’s path so she had more.
Naomi instructed Ruth to visit Boaz at the threshing floor during the evening because she wanted to find Ruth a home and provider. The threshing floor was where the grain was separated and most of the threshing was done at night because the harvesting happened during the daytime. Boaz would have been sleeping there awaiting his turn and preventing any theft.
Ruth followed the instructions of Naomi and laid down at Boaz’s feet. When he awoke, Boaz agreed to redeem Ruth if the first in line refused to accept the position. In the morning, Boaz was a man of his word. The man first in line as family redeemer could not accept the cost so Boaz did.
The willingness of Boaz to undertake the costly duty of being the family redeemer foreshadows the greater cost that our Redeemer would make for each of us. Jesus descends from this very sacrifice.
Ruth + Boaz = Obed = Jesse = David Jesus
The book of Ruth begins with death but ends with HOPE!
The family abandoned Bethlehem during the family; later Naomi returned with Ruth by her side. It was where Redemption was born!
What is the meaning of Bethlehem?
How does Bethlehem relate to Christ and redemption?
Read Ruth 2:8-9, 14-16. Boaz was treating Ruth with incredible kindness, doing more than required. What did he do? How does this remind us of Jesus?
Read Leviticus 25:25-28, 47-55. These passages reference the kinsman redeemer position that is referenced in the book of Ruth, the position that Boaz accepts. How is Boaz similar to Christ as a kinsman redeemer?
Is the marriage of Boaz and Ruth breaking God’s law since Boaz is Israelite and Ruth is a Moabite? Read Deuteronomy 7:1-4, Deuteronomy 23:3, and Judges 21:25.
Seeking God Series – Week 8 – Spiritual Warfare
John 17:11, 15 – Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are… I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.
The Devil is the ruler of this world (John 1:31)
The Devil prowls like a roaring lion seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8)
Satan lies – He is the Father of Lies (John 8:44)
Satan blinds the minds of the unbeliever (2 Corinthians 4:4)
Satan masquerades in costumes of light (2 Corinthians 11-13:15)
Satan tempts people to sin, leading thoughts astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Satan plucks the Word of God out of hearts [seed on the path] & chokes faith (Matthew 13:19)
Satan can cause sickness and disease (Luke 13:16 – 18 yrs hemorrhage)
Satan is a murderer (John 8:44)
Satan fights against the plans of missionaries (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18)
Satan accuses Christians before God (Revelation 12:10)
Don’t give opportunity to the Devil (Ephesians 4:27) – re: anger & sin
Resist (1 Peter 5:9, James 4:7) – Resist the Devil, standing firm in the faith… your brothers and sisters are also undergoing the same kind of struggles… when you resist, He flees!
Take up your Sword of the Spirit (Word of God), praying at all times (Ephesians 6:17-18)
Read 1 Chronicles 21:1-4. In this passage, the Bible says that Satan instigated David to take a census. The man after God’s own heart sinned greatly and God was very displeased. Repentance and punishment followed. What was Satan’s involvement? What is Satan’s objective?
Read Matthew 16:22-23, Luke 22:31-34, and Matthew 26:74. As we look at Peter under the magnifying glass, we see how Jesus calls him Satan at one point. Jesus notes that Satan wants to sift Peter and the other disciples, and later we read of the denial of Jesus by Peter (who previously denied the denial). Peter was certainly under attack in an attempt to try to keep him from being used by God as a vessel to help build the Early Church.
Before the denial, Jesus tells Peter about Satan’s desire to sift. What did Jesus say He had done in response to Satan’s request?
The passage in Luke says, “So when you have repented and turned to Me again.” Jesus notes Peter would deny Him. He would repent. He would turn back to Jesus. What does Jesus tell Peter to do when he turns back? Why is this important?
Read Daniel 10:2-3, 7-13. Daniel was mourning, fasting, and praying for three weeks. What does this passage say happened? What does this mean for us?
Seeking God Series – Week 9 – Love
[John 13, 1 Corinthians 13, Philippians 2:1-11]
Ephesians 5:2 – And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. [ESV]
Types of love (“The Four Loves” by C.S. Lewis)
AFFECTION – Storge – liking someone through fondness of familiarity, family members, people who can relate in familiar ways (share interests with), parent/child love, empathy bond, FAMILY LOVE
FRIENDSHIP – Philia – love between friends as close as siblings, friend bond, BROTHERLY LOVE / FRIEND LOVE
EROS – Eros – “being in love,” erotic bond, SEXUAL LOVE
CHARITY – Agape – UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
How God loves us
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 8:38-39 – And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Corinthians 13
Without love = Nothing
Love will last FOREVER
1 Corinthians 14:1 – Let love be your HIGHEST GOAL
Honor Everyone – Honor means “bestow value upon.”
1 Peter 2:17 – Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Romans 12:10 – Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Jesus loved His disciples during His ministry on earth
Jesus loved His disciples to the very end
Jesus knew that the Father gave Him authority over everything
SO He got up from the table
He gave an example to follow. LOVE IN ACTION. Love isn’t just words.
What is in the heart, comes out in words and deeds!
Love each other as I have loved you.
Love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.
Philippians 2 – Have the attitude of Christ
We MUST be a church that loves one another.
WE CAN’T TAKE OUTSIDE WHAT’S NOT INSIDE
Read 1 Kings 3:16-28. In this story, Solomon judges wisely. Two women claim the same baby.
What does the real mother do?
What kind of love is this?
How can you love people like this?
Read 1 Samuel 18:1-5, 19:1-7, 20:1-17, 20:35-42; 2 Samuel 1:26, 2 Samuel 9:1-12.
How does the Bible say Jonathan loved David?
Jonathan’s love for David is a sacrificial one. How?
David considered Jonathan a brother. What did David do to honor his dear friend after Jonathan’s death?
How can you love people like this?
I was driving my son to the dentist when the truck in front of my van suddenly slowed down, but there were no brake lights. As we got to the fork in the road, the turn signal apparently didn’t work either. Without the signals, driving is not as easy. The signals are a way for drivers of the vehicles to communicate to each other. This makes it clear as to the direction the drivers are taking, and when a vehicle is slowing down or stopping.
Signals are nice. I prefer signals. In life, we have signals for driving. We also have signals (or warnings) when the stove burners are still on (or hot) or when bad weather is approaching. There are other signals too, signals that we have from reading God’s Word. As we read the Bible, we receive the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will remind us of His Word as we do life. We will better know how to navigate in life when we are receptive to Him. We will know when to turn, when to hit the brakes, and when we are off course.
Today, dig into God’s Word. Understand that if you aren’t in His Word, the Spirit cannot remind you of what you received. Often we say God is silent, but we don’t intentionally pursue Him. God is not hiding my friend. If you want to know Him, seek Him. If you want to know His will for your life, walk with Him. Spend time in His presence. Sit with Him. Converse with Him. Engage with Him. Seek and you will find.
“You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13 [NIV]
In Hosea, we read a lot about the sinfulness of God’s people. Judgment was given. In Hosea 5:15, we read that the people needed to acknowledge their guilt. After they acknowledge their guilt, then they must seek God’s face. You cannot seek God, you cannot move in His direction, until you acknowledge you have sinned against Him. You first repent, which means change your mind. You recognize that you don’t want to sin. Read that again. It doesn’t mean you won’t sin. You don’t want to sin. You wish you wouldn’t sin.
The verse says that in the distress of the people, the people would “earnestly seek.” This is a powerful thing. The word choice “earnestly seek,” means seeking early in the morning, seeking diligently, even seeking painstakingly. We are to earnestly seek God—to seek Him diligently. This is a search that should start early. This is a search that you need to be all in for doing. This is also a rewarding search. Remember, God’s Word says if you search for Him with all your heart, you will find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13).
Today, you have a choice. You can acknowledge that you have a great need for Jesus and you can seek Him wholeheartedly. You can recognize that you fall short just like everyone (Romans 3:23). Or you can make the choice to continue forward with life without acknowledging anything. I pray you earnestly seek Him. It will be a blessing!
“I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.” – Hosea 5:15 [ESV]
In the world, we are taught that we should seek and find—we are to go out there and get what we want because we deserve it. It is considered a way of life. No waiting necessary. Technology has made this even easier as people can reach others more quickly. These technological advancements helped to breed a lack of patience.
Consider how often you were able to have some alone time this week—actual alone time, where you were not on your phone. Time when you can actually hear God speak. Consider how many times you lost your patience this week. I know a short ride from point A to point B may have shown us a side of ourselves we would like so much to hide.
In Lamentations 3, Jeremiah writes that it is good for us to “wait quietly.” Not only should we be a waiting people (patience needed), but it speaks of a “soul who seeks Him.” What are you seeking? Are you seeking God? Are you looking for something else? In Lamentations 3, Jeremiah speaks of the hope in the Lord. He recognized that He alone is our great hope, and he spoke of the importance of seeking Him and waiting for Him. Today, may you stop trying to push things forward, but rather, may you hope in the Lord. Rest in Him. Trust in His plan and His timing.
“The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” – Lamentations 3:25-27 [ESV]
In Jeremiah we read: “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart” (29:13). How awesome?!? If you seek God, you will find Him. Yet people so often are seeking and not finding God. Why? Because they are not seeking wholeheartedly.
God has promised that if you seek Him, He will be found. God searches your heart and He understands your plans and thoughts—so He knows if you are seeking Him, if you are truly seeking Him with all your heart. If you are seeking Him, and you are seeking Him with all your heart, you are going to find Him. And when you find Him, you will want nothing more than to know Him more, to be in His presence, to experience His glory.
When I look around, I often see people investing a great deal of time and effort trying to search for answers, for riches, for comfort, for wisdom. Today ask yourself who or what you are seeking in life. What or who has your focus? If you seek Him, He will be found by you. That’s a promise.
“And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.” – 1 Chronicles 28:9 [ESV]
Are You Ready for Solid Food?
[[Read Hebrews 5:11 – 6:4]]
“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.” – Hebrews 5:12 [NLT]
Hebrews 6:1-4 Breakdown:
- Basic Foundation
- Basic Instruction
- Holy Spirit
- God’s Grace
- “And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.” (6:3 NLT)
- God’s Grace allows for Spiritual Maturity
You aren’t meant to stay a child living on milk.
What keeps you a Milk Drinker?
- Laziness (v. 11) – Where is the passion / desire?
- Lack of Influence (v.12) – Ought to be teaching but need retaught
- Dull Discernment (vs. 13-14) – Unable to discern good and evil
From Milk to Solid Food…
- Drink Milk – “Pure Spiritual Milk” (1 Peter 2:2) – The Gospel
- Swallow & Digest Milk – Milk produces renewed mind
- Practice, Practice, Practice
- Satisfaction Promotes Discernment
Psalm 63:1, 8
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water… my soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. [ESV]
We all need fed. We all need the Word of God. We all need Jesus. In John 6, Jesus speaks of people who were seeking Him simply because they were being fed (not spiritually fed, but literally fed). They were not seeking Jesus because they saw God in His actions. It was nothing to do with what Jesus truly offered, but having a stomach filled for free.
There are people every week that look to have their stomachs fed rather than partaking in the Bread of Life. There are those who are not too keen to read the Word of God; they want instead to reap the benefits that are received from the body of Christ. It’s sad but it’s true.
Today I want you to ask yourself—are you seeking Jesus because your stomach is being filled or are you seeking Him because you want Jesus and Him alone. Yes, being a part of the body of Christ sometimes brings about an outpouring of other things; however, at the end of the day, if you are not seeking Jesus, whatever you are seeking is settling for less.
“Jesus answered, ‘You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free.’”
-John 6:26 [MSG]