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Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Much Better Understanding (Hosea 2-3)

Unfaithfulness versus Mercy
Hosea 2-3



  
In the last lesson of Hosea, a severed relationship with God was the theme.  We didn’t talk much about the holiness of God, which is also emphasized in the 1st and 2nd chapter of this book.  How we see Him respond to a person like Gomer with her unfortunate station in life also shows His consideration for the nation Israel. even though she was fickle and unloving. She still is in many ways…especially when it comes to accepting the truth of the Messiah. 
Emphasizing His holiness.

When we recognize His holiness we gain a much better understanding of how  loving our God truly is.

In Warren Weirsbe's writings, he reminds us of 1 John 4:8, 16 which speaks about the LIGHT of God and the fact that in God there is no darkness at all. But in the case of Gomer, we see only darkness through her  life of hypocrisy, ingratitude, and  idolatry.

Even though God was compassionate Lord to Gomer (to Israel), He still did not nor does He now condone sin. He will not give way to or pamper anyone who sins. 

God's Standards are shown to us in Psalm 119.  Those standards do not include compromise or tolerating what's wrong or accepting that which goes against one's faith. The Apostle Paul wasn't afraid to stand for his faith.  How about you and I? 

In the last lesson we looked at the severity of being faithless.

Hypocrisy --. (Falseness, Insincerity, Deviousness)  Gomer was filled with hypocrisy. 
Ingratitude -- (lack of care or concern) When she went back, she showed little for all Hosea was doing for her
Idolatry -- (Obsessions/False Ideals/ Symbols/false gods) In Gomer's case, it included a return to her harlotry.        

Israel was so guilty of revering pagan nation gods -- specifically the rain god Baal. She kept returning to her old ways.

God even had to tell Gomer's children to rebuke their mother, figuratively speaking. We read this in 1 Kings 18 and 19. Why would He do that?

God wants HIS own to have nothing to do with pagan worship.

I.      PAGAN WORSHIP
Read again Hosea 2:1-9

What were some of the forms of pagan worship back then?
   Becoming as or acceptance of male or female prostitutes or Symbolically living as a harlot
       Making use of fertility rites and/or selling oneself.
       UNFAITHFULNESS.

HOW DOES A PERSON SELL HERSELF TODAY?

How else might we describe some  forms of pagan worship and or ways in which unfaithfulness is expressed in the actions of people today?

  1. Forms of Idolatry
When we speak of a certain form of idolatry, we are talking about "the state of being pagan; the worship of idols or false gods, the system of unsavory religious opinions and worship maintained by pagans; i.e., heathenism" You can read online what paganism represents: http://www.answers.com/topic/paganism#ixzz1XI1ZrQw8  

It's so easy to be untrue to God or unfaithful and ungrateful or unmindful to God about things that happen which make you begin to look elsewhere for answers. 

Sometimes, people fall into that trap when things are going too well. It is then that a person can easily FORGET to be thankful to God for seeing her or him through a situation, and perhaps take the Lord for granted.

At other times, when life is filled with what at the time seems like an over-abundance of trials, some get to the point where they will find themselves holding God accountable for those problems. What that person is overlooking is how God can and will minister and bless THROUGH the trial.  1 Kings 18-19, Deuteronomy 11:8-17, Romans 1:21, Colossians 3:16, Psalms 100:4  

Why is unfaithfulness to the Lord such a sin?

Warren Weirsbe says, "90% faithful…isn't faithful at all."

Israel (Gomer) lived with the temptation to forsake God for her idols by rejecting the Messiah, and by thinking her own ways and not living with God's standards. The church today like Gomer will sometimes turn to the world system for answers by compromise. This is no different than turning partially away from God.

Anytime we make excuses for the world or favor worldly ways over godly ways, we are showing where our hearts are straying. 

What are other ways you see compromise dangerous 
to you as a Christian?

It says In verses 6 and 7, "I will hedge up your way with thorns, and wall her in, so that she cannot find her paths" A person can never find satisfaction from the things of the world or from the flesh. The hedge as described in verses 6 and 7 is as a wall that we will keep running into when we take our focus off God. Having true. Satisfaction from being too involved in the world will always be just out of our reach.

I'd rather be under that hedge of protection 
with the Lord than out of His reach.

In verse 9 we read on about Gomer's ungratefulness which is also recorded in Deuteronomy 11:8-17But in Romans 1:21 it admonishes us in this way: "because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened."

Being under the protection of God comes from doing His Will. The will of God is simply that. His Will not Ours. The giving of thanks is also God's will. Does this apply to you today?

Colossians 3:16 and 17 says: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (God's Will active in our lives)

Psalms 100:4 says: Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. (God's Will active in our lives)

II.               EVIDENCE OF HIS HOLINESS
Hosea 2:10-13

When Baal was trying to get the glory, God decided to judge the people. After He allowed them to go in the way they wished, He could only allow them to enjoy their sinful living for a very short time. The world only thinks it will keep that pleasure. But the world is wrong. That pleasure is always only for a season. 

God in His holiness wants us to see the benefit of living separated lives for Him, not for the world -- the evidence of holiness shining through this situation.

III.    OUR HOLY GOD IS OUR  GOD OF LOVE
Hosea 2:14-end
Through Gomer, we have been getting a good Look at God's holiness due to His love and compassion. Through the children we got a great look at God's grace. It is through HOSEA, the prophet we get a better understanding of the working of obedience, God's will and again His love.

It isn’t easy for anyone to love someone with a vile behavior -- but Hosea continued to love Gomer just as Go in spite of Israel's unbelievable attitude and lifestyle continued to love her. Gomer broke her husband's heart; Hosea went back and got her anyway.

How do you respond when someone breaks your heart?


THE I WILL FACTOR:

14. I will ALLURE (to the wilderness) This speaks of a lover wooing his beloved -- drawing her hand to marriage -- it also is speaking to an alluring through the wilderness but for the reason of getting one to the other side.

15. I will give her vineyards and hope In other words I will give a door of expectation, which speaks of a new life to those who seek Him.

Romans 8:28 speaks of how anything that causes a person to live in defeat, God can turn around and make it a situation of victory if we allow Him to.

16-17 I will take away her speaking the name of Baal. In other words, idolatrous living will no longer have rule over this life. "Israel will no longer prostitute herself before idols, but will love and serve the true and living God." Warren Weirsbe. 

THAT IS YET TO COME.

18-20 I will make a covenant and betroth her This speaks of yielding and entering into a relationship that's everlasting -- a restored  creation. (Romans 8:18-22)

21-22I will respond Or I will hear… When the Lord speaks, the earth will respond, Heaven will send rain, the earth will produce vegetation.

23 I will plant with mercy In other words, sowing and reaping grace.
  
We see here more of the evidence of HIS COMPASSION. When God spoke in Chapter 2 about how He would judge Israel for their wrong doing He also shows there His compassion for those He dearly loves.

IV.              THE NEED TO BE DISCIPLINED
Hosea 3

Chapter three is a very short chapter that continues to show us a bit of Hosea's personal life story. Hosea is once again commanded to take Gomer even when she's unfaithful. Gomer, his wife, had cheapened herself so much by her sleazy lifestyle that she was now up for sale on the auction block.

The price was cheap, about half the price of a normal slave. But Hosea still bought her for himself.

We might wonder why God asked Hosea to purchase back his adulterous wife for apparently Gomer has been on her own for quite a while. By this time Gomer was not worth much in the eyes of many because she was no longer being sold for a high price.

But in  Psalm 40:2 we read: He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. (Will God do this for Gomer?) 

Have you ever wandered from God, the way Gomer did from Hosea? How did God reconcile you to Him when you did?

  • God pursues us with His love. His greatest desire is that we reunite with Him and stay united with Him..
  • Chuck Smith writes: "We may not have been worth much before, after the world had its way with us, but Jesus came along and bought us. What does it say in Romans 5:8  'While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.'" 

Ø  Israel needed that time of purification. We all need that time of purification. 
Ø  God showed Israel His love for them, in spite of what they'd done. He continues to love us in spite of what we do and just as He will not stop loving us
Ø  This part of Hosea shows us there is a great danger with continued rebellion. We don't know when God will say enough is enough.
Ø  There is also a great danger when one reverts back to where she came from. Many backslidden Christians will discover that which shows us how importance prayer is today. 

When we take breaks from God, it is  easy to begin taking Him for granted  --  playing around with the things of the world so much that we get caught in the middle and can't find our way out.

Read again Hosea 3:5.

The key message in Hosea Chapter 3 is to RETURN to God.. The word return in fact is used 22 times in this book. 

These early chapters of Hosea are very much like the message of the parable of the prodigal son which is also about returning to God. Do you think it will be that way for Israel when they finally turn to and recognize their Messiah? 

Israel still has much to go through before she  will choose to humble herself before God as we all know, this being the last days. But when Israel does return during the Great Tribulation, it is then that she will once again seek the Lord and accept Him as her Messiah..

I look forward to when that day comes for the Jewish people.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Severed Relationship (Hosea 1)

The Harlot Bride - A Severed Relationship
Hosea 1
Shirley Connolly




Introduction: 

In Chapter One of Hosea, the prophet is about to marry Gomer - the harlot. This might not have been something Hosea, a prophet of all prophets, or actually any prophet of God might normally do. But God had His reasons for telling Hosea this is what HE wanted. And once the LORD decides something, no matter who it's about or for what reason, God also expects obedience.

Hosea's forthcoming obedience to God would ultimately change his entire future.

WHAT WAS GOD'S PURPOSE?

The Lord wanted to get a precise message to the people. He looked for the best way. He figured this was the one He'd use to reach the Israelites, who were at this particular time in a very bad state.

This is a very important message is here for you and me as well. Have you asked yourself lately, what God's purpose is for you?  

Perhaps you don't think your life is anywhere close to that of harlot's life or maybe that this book of Hosea might prove interesting but not related to you in any way

But what does God see in us? What does He see when He looks in your heart?

As we study Hosea, we will have the opportunity to compare what we are really like on the inside; maybe not so much with our outside actions, but what is truly in our hearts.

God knows our hearts better than we do.

In the book of Hosea, we'll learn how the harlot Gomer will choose to continue on with her questionable ways even after she's married, and against her very own husband. She will show how she's a person who never once deserves the kindness she receives from a very giving person.

But there is something deeper here too -- something I believe we can take to heart. God wants you and I to fully grasp through this book of Hosea just how much compassion He truly has not only for what happened in this situation but for us and for the entire world. For you personally and for me.

Sometimes it is difficult to get our hearts and arms around just how all-embracing the depth of God's love really is.

I.                WHO and WHY HOSEA?


Hosea was one of God's wonderful prophets. Some commentators gave titles to the prophets as either major or minor, but you wouldn’t necessarily have found that emphasized in any Hebrew translation of scripture. All PROPHETS had a major purpose in the Lord's eyes for they had something important to get across to the people then and now.  

God decided to use these prophets who belonged to a particular period in what we now know as the divided kingdom. We read about them in several important books of the Old Testament.

We might wonder why God chose to raise these men up when He could have used anyone if He'd wanted to. But just like today, God can use anyone He wants to serve His purpose.

During this time in history there were ruling Kings all over the place but most were filled with their own problems. Many, if not most of those Kings continually failed. With failing Kings, God chose to look to these prophets instead to get the right words out to the people.

The Divided Kingdoms: Jeremiah was the last prophet of the Southern Kingdom. Hosea was a prophet of the Northern Kingdom. He came to warn the nation of its forthcoming captivity. In his book, we will come to understand the results of a Broken HOME or having a Broken HEART, while Jeremiah, we see the illustration of a Broken NATION. Since Hosea was a man with a broken heart, he was the best person God could use to convey what He wanted to the people. What He can convey to you and me.

  • He wanted Israel to see it, acknowledge it, and believe it
  • He still wants Israel to see, acknowledge, and believe…but they don't yet.
  • He wants you and I to know and live according to God's ways  

For these prophets, and especially for Hosea, the message seems severe, yet in the end through the tender mercies of God, there's always a way out and a communication infinitely important to learn and comprehend -- to take to heart.

Hosea's wife Gomer shows us a woman who either already was a harlot when Hosea went out to get her, or a woman who became a harlot after he took her to wife. Different commentators bring it out differently, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. The message is clear. God's message is that many continue to live apart from Him.

So often, we think the Old Testament Standards don't apply to us but they do…

God wants people to see just how far they have come from living up to His standards and how easy it is to do so. God has set those standards for everyone. The Book of Hosea will show us just how unfathomable God's feelings are for us, in spite of the many ways we so often let Him down. This book will also show us the mercies of God and how amazing they are if we will only continue forward in our Christian walks, rather than slip back.

HIS MERCY and HIS FORGIVENESS -- True grace in action

II.             BECOMING OBEDIENT TO THE CALL
Hosea 1:1-6

If you’ve taken a moment to read these verses, you'll find it pretty startling what the Lord is asking Hosea to do. Either wed a woman already a harlot or one that God knows is going to go in that direction.

A.    Hosea, the Prophet
1.     God knew what He was asking of Hosea. Hosea chose to be obedient to it.
2.     When God says "This is what I want you to do, to anyone, including the prophet Hosea" He didn’t mean it as a request, it was a command.
3.     God was not just granting Hosea permission to marry a specific person so God could turn around and make things go wrong. God had a plan to fulfill. He would show both Hosea and Hosea's wife in the story what she was really like.

{APPLICATION}
The Lord knew exactly what would happen. God always knows. It shouldn’t be difficult for us to remind ourselves that if we belong to the LORD, He knows --- He knows --- He knows
Ø  He knows where we came from;
Ø  He knows where we're going,
Ø  He knows what was on our mind and in our hearts yesterday,
Ø  He knows where our hearts were, and are, and whether to the good or bad,
Ø  He knows what is on our mind and in our heart right now.

Stop and think for a minute what has been on your heart this morning.
HE KNOWS.  YES, JESUS KNOWS.

Ø  He also knows what we are going to think about and then ultimately do tomorrow!
Ø  He also knows what is His will and what is not
                                Do You? Do I? 

It's perilous to play around with what some call God's perfect will compared to God's permissive will. We either are in His will or we aren’t. There is nothing in the Old Testament scriptures that teaches us about permissive will in difference to God's only will. And if we aren’t living in God's will -- then we are doing our own thing.

Perhaps that is one reason God gave us the scripture: And every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

When God shows you or tells you through His Word something He has planned for you how do you go about finding out just what it is?

B.    Gomer, the Harlot
According to Mosaic Law it would have been proper for Gomer to have been stoned to death once Hosea learned what she was and that she had a life of harlotry. But what God is showing is the parallel between physical harlotry (as with Gomer) and Spiritual Harlotry (as with Israel, who Gomer represents in this story)

Gomer's infidelity is best described as Israel's infidelity

In God's eyes, there is little difference between the two whether it's PHYSICAL harlotry or adultery and SPIRITUAL harlotry and adultery. But how does this apply to you or me today?

{APPLICATION}

There is a real parallel here. There might be someone who tries to play fast and loose with the Lord and in their Christian walk. Maybe you know someone like this. That's a very dangerous place to be. In God's sight, He sees that, by itself, as SPIRITUAL harlotry.

C.    Physical vs Spiritual Harlotry?
One way to observe this is when someone chooses not to cling tightly to the Lord and in her relationship with Him. It's so easy to play fast and loose with the Lord in one's Christian walk.

In other words, we don't look to Him for all our answers, because we simply spend too much time doing our own thing. As we do, we find ourselves playing on the fence, or maybe even leaning toward the ways of the world better than is spiritually healthy for us. It begins to get harder and harder to live with our focus in tact, and in a place that is always pleasing to God.  We begin to lose the fire in our life that was once there.

This that we do physically by our actions can slowly turn to spiritual harlotry. Selling ourselves too short -- Promoting worldly ways more than Godly ways.

As we read here in scripture, God used plain language to make it easy for us to understand. He didn’t hold anything back. Now, in the pulpit and in so many other places where faith is shared and discussed, we hear the importance of being politically correct. But the Word of God never changed and it won't now. It still says and means the same thing it did when God inspired it. (God couldn't care less about being PC)

D.    That Spiritual Lesson

We read now about Gomer and Hosea's children. God will use the children of this marriage to teach an object lesson to us.
1. Jezreel, the name of Hosea and Gomer's first son is given to mean "God will scatter" which is exactly what happens. Jezreel (a city) turns into a place with a bloody history. God is going to show here that the Northern Kingdom where Hosea lives the people will be scattered, and they were.
2. Lo-Rummah was the daughter to Hosea and Gomer. God instructed them to give her that name, which meant she "never knew her father's pity"

What did that come to mean? Some commentators intimated that she did not know who her true father was.

How I see this revealed is when we look at the scandal going on in Hosea's house. God is basically saying: YOU WON'T KNOW MY PITY FOR I AM NOT YOUR FATHER  (Another way to say that is because of what you are doing, you are living as if I am not your father, or as if you have no relationship with me.)

We know His grace is sufficient for all of us as it is with everything. But how many times do we find ourselves persisting in rejecting God's mercy and His grace in our lives? Our free will is sometimes a dangerous thing. 

It's too easy to live in defeat when we try to think things through by ourselves. The choices we make mean so much more than we ever realize until we suddenly see after we make the decisions we do -- the effect our decisions have on others.

Yes, everything happens for a reason. But how far do we go before we step beyond the boundaries with God? How far below the lines of God's grace will a person actually go and still think he or she can get away with it, sinking so low in sin, the Grace of God cannot be reached.

A person can trifle with God only so long.

That's what the nation of Israel did. God is really trying to show them themselves through showing them what is happening here through Hosea's actions and GOMER'S actions. Do you think they are opening their eyes even yet?

III.           GOD DELIVERS
Hosea 1:7- end
By what we see here in the seventh verse and on, you can also find a parallel to it in 2 Kings 19, and Isaiah 37. There is another prophecy of Hosea there (we find them filtered throughout the book). I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them…

We see how God miraculously delivers the people of the Southern Kingdom but He does not deliver those of the Northern Kingdom. Some of this is shown by the children we just described and the one that follows. 

In verses 8 and 9 we read about the next child of Hosea.

3.     Lo- Ammi, this one is called. It means "not my people" or not my child, speaking specifically about the nation Israel. But I added it to this next section because it must be read in the context of the verses to come more than the verses from before like the other two kids.

It looks at first like God is ready to give up on Israel, but I called this section "God Delivers" because it is not so. In the next few verses it shows He instead shows more grace than ever Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered…)

His prediction shows that there will be a rejection of Israel for a while, but God in His patience, and even with Him knowing they wanted nothing to do with Him, He still is filled with mercy and compassion for them. God's hand is stretched out to so many to try to bring them back to Him.

{Application}

It's a precious promise of just how much He wants us to know of HIS love for us too. God does not give up on the ones He claims as His. The Jewish people still can't see it.

But do we as Christians take Him for granted, or do we as Christians live our whole hearts for Him because of that love, compassion, and mercy He has for us?

IV.           FAITHLESS WONDER
Hosea 2:1- 11

When man or woman proves faithless, God still finds a way to prove just how faithful He is. After we read of all the tragic things that come to Israel because of their faithlessness, we also read how God will come through for them.

Two tremendous promises are shown in what we've read.
Ø  That they (Israel) would experience an increase in growth or population.
Ø  Also that the nation would begin to turn back to God.

Remember how He said the Northern and Southern Kingdoms would come together again and the twelve tribes would again become a single nation? That too was a remarkable promise of God.

Before that we read several "I WILL" verses which spoke of what God had in mind that didn’t seem so great. For your challenge, take the time to look them up and jot them down.

~ I will avenge Israel's blood
~ I will break the bow
~ I will show no mercy
~ I will utterly take Israel away

THEN to Lo Ammi
~ I will not be your God

In those ways, God was showing His purpose in its severity. And yet, we read also of His compassion which is so much greater. It's so important to see the entire picture. God, BECAUSE of His love had to act in judgment because of the infidelity going on in Israel. But His love never changes.

{Application}

  • How many times will a person turn back from the blessings of an Almighty God? 
  • How many times will we take our Lord for granted and do our own thing?

When I think about this, the darkest period of Israel's history, I also have to apply it to today with the attitudes of so many people … with my own attitude of heart about my relationship with God

Thankfully God is still showing His purpose with us, whether it is with hope or with discipline first. In other words, Calvary is the ultimate expression of what Love really is.

G. Campbell Morgan said "God interprets Himself to us through our own experiences, an experience we are on cannot always be understood at the moment we are going through it."

In other words, in the midst of tragedy anyone can find the love of God. We need only to look for it.

Summary:

It's a tragic and heartbreaking story thus far -- this story in Hosea. Someone is taken in and accepted, love and cared for. That same Someone turns away and descends as low as she can go in spite of the goodness of another. And that Someone is restored again

So what is the lesson we are learning from this so far?

The story of Hosea (which allegorically tells us of God's love and also of Israel's rebellion) shows
Ø  How HOSEA came to understand the HEART of GOD.
Ø  We see now or we will begin to see what God suffered when His people sinned.
Ø  It tells you and me what God STILL suffers when you and I sin against Him.

Hosea would best be described as the prophet with the broken heart. He reveals through his book of prophecy the real nature of sin and the strength of divine love.

Never forget how Sin wounds the heart of God. God's agony is also revealed when His people choose to no longer be His.
Thankfully, in spite of sin and rejection, however, God finds that perfect way that makes it possible for the sinner to come home.



Sources gleaned from G. Campbell Morgan, Matthew Henry, Warren Weirsbe




Friday, May 8, 2015

It's Not a Feeling - It's a Choice

A Study of 1 John 

Chapter 2
Every Step of Our Walk

Shirley Connolly



In the last lesson we spoke about the dangers of Gnosticism, our fellowship with God and one another, and our growing knowledge of Him and faith in Him.  In Chapter 2, John will focus on the law of love and the compassion God has toward his children.  He begins that emphasis right from the beginning.

As we study, we will need to ask ourselves who we are in the Lord, and why it is so important for us to have our minds and hearts staid on him.

I.                    That True Relationship
Read 1 John 2:1-11

(My Little Children) The real relationship between a father and his son is shown to us here in an attitude of love. John is speaking to us as our spiritual father. He's been there. He knows. What does he write to us here? 

As a son should listen to his dad; a daughter should listen to her mother.

By this time the body of believers were in a state of feeling guilty and condemned for their attitudes and actions, neglectful when it came to their God-relationships. They were allowing sin to interfere with their fellowship with God.

But Satan was then and is today nothing more than the great deceiver and condemner. He our chief accuser. He wants to convince us the spiritual death penalty will come to any who he can convince that God would no longer forgive them for their sins.

John who had the credentials to call the Ephesian church his son is sharing that they should NOT be disheartened.The message is to us, as well. We will fail. But if and when we feel guilty or condemned, God doesn’t want us to give up our hope. Our best and only defense is to go to Jesus and ask to be forgiven for our wrongs; He already paid our penalty. It is finished. 

We have Him to go to at any time in any place and for every reason.

We have successful fellowship with each other when we receive the love, forgiveness and acceptance Jesus has for us. Jesus, our propitiator (our atoning sacrifice) stands before God daily for us. John is hoping the church will see that and respond appropriately.

Romans 8:33, 34
Hebrews 7:24, 25


It's sometimes difficult to forgive those who have wronged us. But because of a God who loves us, no one is beyond forgiveness. But do we know Him enough to realize just how much He does love us? 

Those that say they KNOW Him, who are they?

  • Those who keep His commandments by faith                
  • Those who keep His word                                         
  • Those who allow the Love of God to be perfected in their hearts and let it show by their actions      
  • Those who refuse to walk in immaturity
  • Those who believe God will forgive them the moment they humble themselves before Him
  • Those who choose to walk in God's love
That last point is the commandment we have…to love others. (John 15:13) The Application Bible says: "Love is the key to walking in the light…our growing relationship with God will result in growing  in relationship with others. It's the identifying mark of the Christian community."

John is focusing here on attitudes. Christian love is NOT a feeling. It's a choice.

As we make the choice to love others with His love He will help us express our love without being tolerant of sin or of someone's disagreeable nature.

II.                  The Christian Walk (It is a family thing)
1 John 2:12-14

That spiritual state in the Christian family. What exactly is the difference between little children, father, and young men in Christ?  What does John write in the verses mentioned above?

12: Little children - Who are they? Born again believers - Just beginning their spiritual journey. New believers who have experienced forgiveness.
13: Fathers - Who are they? Mature believers, also forgiven, but with Long-standing relationships with Christ.
14: Young Men - Who are they? Those who are gaining victory with His strength but who still struggle with Satan's temptations. They struggle, yes, but they are determined to win the battles.

In these three verses, John writes to every Christian believer at every step of their walk. Each stage of the Christian pilgrimage builds upon the other. 

John, who has been around the spiritual block, knows the score.  In Lesson 1 he shared of his privilege of being not only near the Lord Jesus, but right beside him throughout his ministry up through the day of his crucifixion and resurrection. 

Whether as a child, or as a young man, or as someone maturing, we are all in a battle every day. God wants full control of our lives during all our battles. 

Unfortunately, Satan does too. He will use force, deceit, and guile to bring us back into bondage. 

What will we do? How will we respond? 

  • Stand on the freedom that the Lord gives us 
  • keep looking up
  • choose to be a bond servant of God, put the enemy at bay      

The best defense and only defense we can have in this spiritual battle is the WORD OF GOD 
and hiding it in our hearts.

Question to reflect on: Are you moving from VICTORY to VICTORY today in your personal battle?
Psalm 119:11, Psalm 119:9

JESUS ALWAYS RELIED ON SCRIPTURES

III.                How are we living our Lives?
1         John 2:15-17

In Chapter 2 John show the church how much better it would be to live lives of holiness in contrast to getting caught up on the things of the world. 

Worldliness is not limited to our external behavior, Even as we think it in our minds it is as doing it, according to scripture: where we spend our time, who we hang out with reaches the heart which deals with

·         our lust of the flesh, our physical desires,
·         our lust of the eyes, what we crave,
·         our pride of life, our obsession for status, importance, recognition.

Remember Satan tempted Eve in every matter. Genesis 3:6. When he tried to tempt Jesus he did the same in Matthew 4:1-11.

But you and I don’t have to get stuck there. Jesus didn’t and He has shown us how to get away from the temptations.

Here, John gives us the formula for continuous right living. Romans 8:34    Hebrews 7:25

I always like to remember this verse when i'm struggling: 

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,
who walk NOT according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 
Romans 8:1

God doesn’t want us to get overly fixed on anything of  this world, on those things that are enticing to our eyes, to our flesh that will only satisfy for a little while. 

The truth is, when we get too hung up on the world or the things of the world, or on any person in this world, we are not attached enough to our Lord Jesus Christ. It's difficult to believe that what we want and what we are used to, which include our attachments and possessions can all have such a strong hold on us if we allow them to.

John's conviction in this chapter is based on the life, death, resurrection, and promises of Jesus Christ. He knew then, as we do now, that this evil world and our desires for all its pleasures keep us from having the courage to control our greedy appetites and self-indulgent behaviors.  

But this evil world WILL end and because of that we can seek more after doing God's will first. Verse 17 tells us the world is passing away…That and everything that’s in it. I believe this; do you?

IV.                The Last Days
1 John 2:18-22

Take a look at these verses. John is talking here about the last days and the Lord's return for his church before the antichrist is revealed. I can say with a certainty, these are the days we live in right now.

The believers from the first century, who died ahead of us, were also waiting just as we are now for that time to come -- that moment when we will meet together in the air. 

They were in their own last days just as you and I are in ours.  

Back in the old times, antichrists abounded, false teachers expressed themselves, many people  pretended to be Christians and  filled the churches and synagogues. 

Can we say it's different today?

John brought this to their attention then, just as he brings this to our attention in these verses. It's important to read it all, though, for he says in verse 19 (and it's for our encouragement):

  • They went out from us
  • They weren’t of us
  • If they'd been of us they would have continued with us
  • They went out that they might be made manifest that none were of us
The antichrists and Christians who were not as they claimed to be were not strangers to the church, nor are they today. They were a part of the church but they didn’t really belong. John was showing that their reason for joining was wrong from the start. Thankfully, the holy spirit can give us the discernment to see the truth from error so we don't have to be taken in by the false. We do not have to be deceived by any of them.

John shows the reader as a reminder of how it is important to expose the heresies of cultists today -- those who deny the divinity of Christ. Our Lord's sacrifices for our sins were permanent. He expects us to freely share this and stand firm on our convictions.

The Bible tells us you and I have the anointing from the Holy One. What does that mean to you?

I love it when i consider that anointing we can receive from the Holy One. This basically means,  the pouring out of special olive oil. 

In the OT times, oil was used to consecrate kings and special servants for service.1 Samuel 16 describes it well. We can also read about this anointing  in the book of James.

The Holy Spirit always guides the believer to Jesus.

V.                  The Visible Proof
1 John 2:24-29

Though the Christian of that day had fully heard the gospel and knew that Jesus Christ was God's Son -- that He died for their sins and raised again from the dead -- that He would return again to receive them in the clouds, their fellowship with Him was still being infiltrated by those who denied some of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. 

John encouraged them to hold on to the truth they had learned at the beginning and teach those truths to others. He encourages us to do the same.

Ephesians 2:8, 9                      
James 2:14-17

We know those who claim faith and are true believers consistently strive to do what's right.

When I start my days with the following questions on my mind, it helps me remember how important it is to not only tell others how important it is to walk in the faith of the Lord, but to live it and show it by my actions. 

                                                     What is your visible proof today? 
                                              How do you know who you are in Christ?  
                   Would you consider yourself as Women of Faith by the way you live right now?