In life you will experience good things and bad things. Because God is perfect, nothing that happens is wasted. If you have given your life to God, everything will work together for good, and you will become more like Jesus in how you live your life.
Lost in Translation – Part 3
Pastor Stephen Hayes
June 16, 2019
Main Idea– In life you will experience good things and bad things. Because God is perfect, nothing that happens is wasted. If you have given your life to God, everything will work together for good, and you will become more like Jesus in how you live your life.
Take the time to verify what is written in the Bible
- The Bible is occasionally misquoted or misunderstood.
- Believers sometimes trust what is said by someone else. That is not always wise to do.
- With digital technology, it is now easier than ever to research Scripture and discover for yourself what is taught. That discovery process can then be enhanced by learning more from good teachers.
For God’s chosen, everything works together for good
- Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.(NKJV)
- Not everything that happens is good. But, the Bible tells us that even bad things, working together with other things, result in good. There is a special “chemistry of the cross” that finds God combining all things for a good outcome.
- Based on what we see before us in the world, this is a promise that is beyond our understanding. 1 Corinthians 3:19a – “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God”
- Because Jesus was victorious over sin, you have victory over your circumstances.
- Give to God all things in your life: the good and the bad. Let Him work it. Don’t try to figure out the meaning of everything yourself.
- Romans 8:28 gives us certainty
- “And we know” conveys certainty. This is in the Word of God. He said it. It is sure.
- Your hardships do not imply God does not care about you.
- Rather, in fact, your hardships are evidence you are a child of God. Romans 8: 16-17 – The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (NKJV)
- Romans 8:28 refers to the completeness of life
- “that all things” conveys completeness.
- The completeness of life includes some bad things. Bad things are part of the experience.
- We learn from affliction. Somehow, pain alerts us so we can receive and understand new information to better understand the meaning of everything.
- Hardship that leads to blessings is evident from the earliest parts of the Bible.Genesis 50: 19-20 – Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. (NKJV)
- Joseph was an example of someone who experienced many hardships only to find that those events made him more skilled and effective, and led to blessings for the entire family of God.
- The Bible tells you to welcome challenges and tests because they qualify you for a higher calling. James 1: 2-4 – My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (NKJV)
- Romans 8:28 tells us that things are working together
- “work together” is from the Greek word “synergeo”. Synergeo means “to be a partner in labor, to put forth power together.”
- God’s work on earth is ongoing; it never pauses.
- God is timeless. His work is constantly renewing.
- Be patient. Let God do His work. He has promised to be faithful to complete what He is doing. Philippians 1:6 – being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
- Romans 8:28 tells us everything is working for good
- “for good” is the condition in which everything is working.
- God is good. He works all things in His condition of His goodness, for goodness.
- Romans 8:28 tells us everything is working toward God’s purpose
- “for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” is the conclusion of the matter.
- Those who love God are called for His purposes.
- When we are working for God’s purposes, good results happen in the end.
God’s purpose is for you to become like Jesus
- Whatever your circumstance, God has made a promise He is working things so you can become more and more like Jesus.
- Everything in your life – all the good and bad – are working together so you, through the Holy Spirit, will share the mindset and consciousness of Jesus.
- Romans 8: 29 – For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Reflective Questions for Lost in Translation – Part 3
- Think back on something bad that happened to you. What were you able to learn from it? How has that lesson helped you? What good would you say came from it?
- How might you use Romans 8:28 to comfort someone who is undergoing a trial or crisis right now? Why is acknowledging that bad things are bad – and not by themselves any good – necessary for understanding and accepting this verse?
- How does all of this enable you to become more like Jesus?
Money is a good thing. Money is a tool God has given us to accomplish His work. However, if we love money we will assuredly find ourselves alienated from God. Money will be your master if you do not first master it.
Lost in Translation – Part 2
Pastor Ricky Texada
June 9, 2019
Main Idea– Money is a good thing. Money is a tool God has given us to accomplish His work. However, if we love money we will assuredly find ourselves alienated from God. Money will be your master if you do not first master it.
Forgetting the words
- It is common to forget the words of a song. That happens because we might not correctly hear what is being sung. Or, over time, we can unknowingly alter a word here or there.
- To not know the correct words of a song is probably okay most of the time.
- However, to incorrectly quote Scripture is not okay.
Is money really the root of all evil?
- A saying that is not found in the Bible, but is commonly quoted as if it were, is “Money is the root of all evil.”
- The correct quote is from 1 Timothy 6:6-10 - Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of moneyis a root of all kinds ofevil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (NKJV)
- Money itself is not evil. But, if you love money, evil things will develop and happen from that love.
- *It is important to note that the original letter from Paul likely did not contain the words “kinds of”. Those English words were added to some later translations to help make the point.
- The Greek word “philargyria” is the word that has been translated into English as the “love of money” phrase. It can be understood as an insatiable desire to gain money and wealth as its own end; avarice; to hoard and hang onto when the money itself is the purpose.
- An important distinction is that “philargyria” does not involve pure covetousness – which is trying to acquire something you don’t have. Rather, the “love of money” also involves the practice of hoarding and holding onto what you have.
God calls money good
- Genesis 2: 8-12 – The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. (NKJV)
- Money is a good thing. God put it here to be used as a way to do commerce and business among ourselves. Money should be used to steward the things over which we have been given responsibility.
What’s wrong with loving money?
- If you love money, you will use it for selfish pursuits.
- Mark 10: 17-27 - As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’ ” “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (NLT)
- The young man in that story looked religious; he kept many of the commandments, but chose to ignore those that dealt with his personal relationship with God.
- His affections for his money had grown so that he did not really want a personal relationship with God.
- Jesus asked him to adjust his affections, but he was not able to do so.
- If you love money, it will direct your affections away from God.
- Matthew 6:24 - “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (NLT)
- Money is a master. It is the one thing this side of eternity that can challenge your relationship with God. It has the potential to influence every area of your life.
- Money is spiritual because using it involves trust. Do you trust it, or God, to accomplish what needs to be done?
- We need to have money, but it should not have us.
- Money is simply a tool for us to use.
- Tithing is one mechanism God gives us to keep straight our priorities.
- If you love money, it will blind you to the truth
- Matthew 26: 14-15 - Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?" And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. (NKJV)
- Judas’ love of money was so strong he was not able to recognize Jesus for whom He was. Similarly, love of money will blind you to the truth about Jesus.
- 2 Timothy 3: 1-5 - But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (NKJV)
- Those who love money will see it as their savior, not Jesus. It is easy to think if you had more money your problems would be solved. Problems are solved through faith and a relationship with God, not money.
God gives us power to create wealth
- Deuteronomy 8:18 – And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is to this day.
- The acquisition of resources is not for you, but for God’s work on the planet.When you get money, use it to accomplish the things God is doing.
- The pursuit to make money is morally okay. But, don’t make money to spend it on yourself.
- The more effort you spend on developing your personal gifts, the more God will bless you with resources.
Wealth and redemption go hand-in-hand
- Exodus 12: 35-36 - Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
- Like the old Israelites, God saved you so you can make a difference.
- Let your affections be for God.Rule your money, don’t let your money rule you.
Reflective Questions for Lost in Translation – Part 2
- Money is a thing; it can be used for either good or evil.Why does the love of money lead to evil, but never to good?
- As Pastor Ricky asked in his message, is there any one thing (such as a love of money) that is preventing you from having a more intimate relationship with God? If so, what steps do you need to take to focus your affections away from that thing, and toward God?
- Do you have a tendency to try to hoard things? Might that be a form of “the love of money”? Are you able to identify why you have the desire to gather and hoard? What are some steps you can take to free yourself from the bondage of those possessions?
Do you agree, or disagree, with the idea that God would like you to have a lot of money but first needs to know He can trust you with what you’d do with it?
It is common for things in the Bible to be misquoted, or taken out of context. To prevent being subject to false teaching, we should be careful to closely read the entire circumstance from which Scripture is quoted. One way to ensure God’s involvement in your life is to submit yourself before Him with vulnerability, as His child.
Lost in Translation – Part 1
Pastor Stephen Hayes
June 2, 2019
Main Idea– It is common for things in the Bible to be misquoted, or taken out of context. To prevent being subject to false teaching, we should be careful to closely read the entire circumstance from which Scripture is quoted. One way to ensure God’s involvement in your life is to submit yourself before Him with vulnerability, as His child.
The crucial need for accuracy and context
- The Bible is sometimes taken out of context.
- Individual words and phrases can be lifted from the surrounding passages and seemingly made to say something not intended by the original writer.
- Occasionally, something that is actually unscriptural can be presented as truth because it sounds like something from the Bible.
- If you are not knowledgeable about what is actually in the Bible, you can easily be deceived into adopting a false mindset or philosophy.
- A quotation that is not found in the Bible, but can be understood as approximating a Biblical truth:
- “This too shall pass” - Mike Ditka
- 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 – For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
- A quotation that sounds like it came from the Bible, but could possibly be unscriptural:
- “God helps those who help themselves.” - Ben Franklin
- Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
- A passage so graphic one might find it hard to believe it actually came from the Bible:
- Judges 3:22 – Even the hilt went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the dagger out of his belly; and his entrails came out.
- A pop culture quote that begins with a Biblical sentiment:
- “Don’t hate the playa. Hate the game.” Ice T
- Leviticus 19: 17-18 – Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.
- A Bible passage that is commonly miss-stated, even by mature Christians:
- “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”
- Proverbs 13:24 – He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
- Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
- There are two clauses in that verse. The second clause is dependent on the first. In order for God to give us the desires of our hearts, we first must have delighted in Him.
- In Hebrew, the word “delight” is “anag.” Anag is defined as: to be soft or pliable, ie (figuratively) effeminate or luxurious – delicate(ness), weaken, pamper.
- King David wrote Psalm 37:4. He was surely a masculine person, but was comfortable presenting himself before God with – what to him – would have been a child-like vulnerability.
- The Bible tells us David danced before God wearing a linen ephod – a type of light garment worn by priests. 2 Samuel 6:14 – Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet.
- When it came to approaching God, David knew the significance of leaving behind his earthly stature. He easily transitioned from his kingly profile to one of an innocent, playful boy.
Scripture supports Scripture
- The oldest Biblical scripture that contains the word anagis in Job.
- Job 22: 23-28 – (v 23) If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up; you will remove iniquity far from your tents.(v. 24) Then you will lay your gold in the dust, and the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks. (v.25) Yes, the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver; (v.26) for then you will have your delightin the Almighty, and lift up your face to God. (v.27) You will make your prayer to Him, He will hear you, and you will pay your vows. (v.28) You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you; so light will shine on your ways.
- Because those verses were originally written hundreds of years before David, it is likely he well knew the passage and was influenced by it in his own thinking.The similarities between it and Psalm 37:4 are striking.
The four effects of delighting in the Lord, according to Job
- You will be built up (v. 23).
- You will remove iniquity from your life (v. 23).
- God will become your most valued inheritance, or asset (v. 25-26).
- God will hear what you declare, and it will be established (v. 28).
- When you delight in the Lord, and soften yourself in vulnerability before Him, your desires will become what He desires. His desires will automatically be what you want.
- Therefore, your spoken desires will declare what God has also desired.
- Obviously, He will then establish those things you are speaking.
The New Testament supports the Old Testament
- The Apostle Paul wrote a similar truth.
- When you submit yourself to God’s will, His grace will enable your weaknesses to become strengths.
- 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 – And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
- When you acknowledge your vulnerabilities and weaknesses before God, you will become strong.
- Your battles will be won if you soften yourself before Him.
Reflective Questions for Lost in Translation – Part 1
- Which of the examples of Biblical misquotes presented by Pastor Stephen was most interesting, or amusing, to you? Why?
- Psalm 37:4 is sometimes misquoted because only the second clause is cited. Upon reflection, why is it obvious - and a good thing - that God will not automatically give any of us the desires of our hearts?
- Using the definition of anag, explain how the process of weakening yourself before God will enable you to adopt God’s desires in place of your own.
- Does it make sense to you that if you are properly stating God’s desire, that it will be established?
- What things might one first need to do in order to be able to approach God with the attributes represented by the Hebrew word anag?
Many of us have unknowingly become attached to false gods that have sidetracked us from a meaningful relationship with Jesus. One way you can renew your relationship with Him is by giving up things that have diluted, or distracted you from, His rightful place in your life.
Repair the Altar
May 26, 2019
Main Idea– Many of us have unknowingly become attached to false gods that have sidetracked us from a meaningful relationship with Jesus. One way you can renew your relationship with Him is by giving up things that have diluted, or distracted you from, His rightful place in your life.
When we think of altars
- What do you think of when you think of an altar?
- Do you think of a place where one stands when getting married?
- Is an altar a place to pray or worship or experience the Holy Spirit?
- Of all the different ways we use an altar, it is a place to communicate with God free from distractions.
The building of an original altar
- Many Old Testament individuals built altars in places where God had done things of significance. Aside from being places of sacrifice, these altars served as reminders of God’s legacy in their individual lives.
- Noah - Genesis 8:20 – Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.(This is the first mention of an altar in the Bible.)
- Abram - Genesis 12:7 – Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. (ESV)
- Isaac - Genesis 26: 24-25 – And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father.Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac’s servants dug a well. (ESV)
- Jacob - Genesis 35:3 – Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” (ESV)
- Moses - Exodus 17:15-16 – And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, saying, “A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” (ESV)
- Gideon - Judges 6:24 – Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites. (ESV)
- David - 1 Chronicles 21:26 – And David built there an altar to the Lord and presented burnt offerings and peace offerings and called on the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering. (ESV)
Altars must be maintained
- As with anything else, altars must be maintained or they will decay and fall apart.
- 1 Kingsand 2 Kingsmainly tell stories of Israelite kings who rejected God’s primary place in their lives. For political, social, and economic reasons they incorporated false gods into their daily lives.
- When Elijah confronted the prophets of these false gods, he was careful not to sacrifice on their altars. Rather, he repaired a legitimate altar that had previously been constructed but had been neglected and had fallen into disrepair. 1 Kings 18: 29-30 (ESV) – And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered, no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down.”
False American idols
- An idol is anything one believes can bring more happiness and fulfillment than can God.
- Typical American idols are things such as marriage, sex, money, career, fame, or recognition. These things can bring temporary pleasure, but are poor gods.
- If any of those idols occupy a significant place in your life, they will always disappoint you.
- All of our associations and relationships offer the potential of introducing us to false gods.
The true God responded to Elijah
- After Elijah repaired the original altar of God, God responded. 1 Kings 18: 36-38 (ESV) – And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
- In order for God to favorably respond, Elijah had to return to the original ways that had been abandoned.
Rebuild your altar with surrender and sacrifice
- Surrenderand sacrificeare key components of a rebuilt altar.
- God has much to share with you, but your choices are key to making that communication happen.
- You will not return to your original relationship with God by holding onto distracting or damaging activities and interactions.
- Like the old Israelite kings, society and secular culture may have brought things into your life that have caused you to forget how to communicate with God.
Go back to your “original place”
- After Abraham had become distracted by his own initiatives, he returned to the place where God had originally communed with him. Genesis 13:3-4 (ESV) – And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord.
- If any repairs need to be made in your life, make them. Go back to doing things the same way as when your relationship with God was a good one.
- Identify activities and relationships that have distracted you from the right way to have a life with God.
- The things you repair will automatically benefit other areas in your life.
Reflective Questions for Rebuild the Altar
- The 1 Kings 18 account of the confrontation between Elijah and the false prophets is a famous Bible story. Had you noticed before that Elijah did not sacrifice from the same altar as the false prophets? What might be a current day application of that? In other words, what might be today’s “altars of worship” to false gods?
- Leak identified several potential false American idols. Can you add any to that list?
- Why is surrender and sacrifice essential to rebuilding an altar?
- What questions can you ask yourself in order to identify things that have distracted you from your best relationship with God?
Unlike people of the distant past, you do not need to rely on selected individuals to tell you what God is thinking. The Holy Spirit is God Himself, and will speak to you directly “person to person” in different ways.
The Couch – Part 3
Pastor Stephen Hayes
May 12, 2019
Main Idea – Unlike people of the distant past, you do not need to rely on selected individuals to tell you what God is thinking. The Holy Spirit is God Himself, and will speak to you directly “person to person” in different ways.
We are made in God’s image
- Human males and females together reflect God’s image. Together, God is reflected through men and women. We can, therefore, do things He does.
- Through human males and females, God produces beings who are both spiritual and physical.
- That is different from animals or angels. Angels are spiritual, but they do not reproduce. Animals reproduce only physical likenesses of themselves. But animals are not spiritual beings as are humans and angels.
- Therefore, it is only through humans that God’s likeness is reflected.
- The earthly Church is the “maternal” complement to the Father’s “paternal” quality.God the Father works together with the Church to produce His will on the planet.
The Holy Spirit is God’s communicator to you
- There are things God asks of us in response to His free gift of salvation.However, God has no needs Himself. He does not need anything from you. Rather, His desire is to communicate more things to you.
- John 14: 25-26 – These things have I spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (NKJV)
- God is able to communicate to you first-hand, person-to-person, through the Holy Spirit.
The importance of first-hand information
- In the Garden of Eden, Eve likely received her information about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evilfrom Adam. Based on the sequence of how Genesis is written, it could be understood that she, therefore, did not hear from God directly, first-hand, about the tree.
- Genesis 2:16-17 – And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
- Genesis 2:22 – Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
- However, she did receive deception first-hand from Satan.
- Genesis 3:1-7 – Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
- None of this removes, or diminishes, Eve’s responsibility for her own sin.However, it might demonstrate the power of receiving information first-hand.
- It also displays one of Satan’s fundamental tactics to this day: he attempts to get us to question, and then ultimately ignore, something God has already said.
The Holy Spirit is a first-hand communicator
- Acts 2: 1-4 – And when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
- The Holy Spirit is God Himself. He will communicate to you first-hand. When you hear first-hand from God, there can be no doubt about what is right or wrong.
Three ways the Holy Spirit communicates to us
- An inner witness
a.) Romans 8: 14-17 – For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spiritthat we are children of God, and if children, then heirs –- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
b.) God affirms in your spirit who you are. This will have an impact on how you outwardly act and appear to others around you.
c.) You are God’s adopted child. In biblical times, an adopted child could not be disinherited. Therefore, there is nothing that can happen that can remove you from God’s family. He is your Father regardless. This is the inner witness the Holy Spirit will affirm in you.
- With leadings
a.) God opens doors and He closes doors. Acts 16: 6-7 – Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.
b.) The Holy Spirit will tell you when to go, and when to stop. Be alert. Pray that the Holy Spirit will clearly open doors through which you are to walk, and that He will slam shut any doors that appear to be open but are actually not in your good interest.
- With visions, dreams, and prophesies
a.) Joel 2: 28-29 – And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.
b.) It is not likely you will receive visions and dreams if you are too busy with other ideas and thoughts. Schedule time to have no schedule. You will not hear from God if you are too busy “talking” with other things.
Everyone can hear directly from God. Everyone can prophesy
- Prophesy has been simply described as “anointed, Scriptural declaration.” The Holy Spirit will anoint you (give you utterance) to declare what has already been written in the Word.
- In order to be in a position to prophesy you must first have invited God into your heart and soul, and then have diligently studied what He has already declared in the Bible. Romans 10: 8-9 – But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
- Begin prophesying what you know from Scripture, even if you feel you don’t know much. Declare what you do know. As you continue to grow in the Word, the Holy Spirit will bring more to your remembrance. Luke 16:10 – He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.
- If you receive visions or dreams, speak them into existence. Declare them as truth.
- Don’t stop growing in the Word. Continue studying and learning. God will be faithful to speak through you if you are faithful in pursuing Him. Matthew 10: 32-33 – “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”
Reflective Questions for The Couch – Part 3
- Based on what is written in Genesis (above) how is God’s image reflected through both men and women together? What does this say about the significant characteristics of marriage and parenting?
- What is your reaction to Pastor Stephen’s observation of the idea that Eve may have received the information about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evilfrom Adam, and not from God directly? Do you think it is possible that is the way it happened? Why or why not?
- Do you agree that first-hand information has a greater impact than second-hand information?
- If the Holy Spirit will speak to you first-hand, is there even a need for the Bible? Why or why not? (Use the definition of prophecy above as “anointed, Scriptural declaration” to help answer.)
- What might happen to someone who relies on hearing from the Holy Spirit first-hand, but does not place great importance on Bible study? How do the two go hand-in-hand?