INTRODUCTION: The prophet Hosea preaches the judgment of God and the love of God. God will judge the sin of the people but God will provide mercy and salvation because of his great love for his unfaithful people. Hosea’s personal story reflects God’s story. God told Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman. Gomer represented the people of Israel who were committing spiritual adultery against God. Hosea’s children became living symbols of the spiritual decline of Israel. Their names tell the tragic progression of sin and God’s growing impatience and ultimate punishment of that sin. The people broke their covenant with God but God in his mercy promises a future hope for reconciliation and forgiveness. God always finds a way for the sinner to return to him.
THE TRAGICCONSEQUENCES OF SIN (1:3 – 9).
*The names of Hosea’s children reveal the steady decline of Israel and the final end of the Northern Kingdom.
Jezreel = “God sows” – Israel would be punished for its idolatry and would suffer military defeat. “So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. Then the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel’” (1:3-5).
Lo-Ruhamah = “No pity, no mercy” – God’s mercy was being withdrawn from the nation Israel. They had moved beyond the point of forgiveness. God’s mercy has limits when continually rejected. “Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Call her Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”), for I will no longer show love to Israel, that I should at all forgive them. Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them’” (1:6-7).
Lo-Ammi = “Not my people” – God dissolves his covenant relationship with Israel and gives them up to destruction. God’s judgments were designed to bring people back but they refused. The covenant formula now becomes the formula for divorce. “After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. Then the Lord said, ‘Call him Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”), for you are not my people, and I am not your God’(1:8-9).
*The deliberate practice of sin leads to the slippery slope of destruction. Sin progresses to the point of no return (see Romans 1:18 – 32). “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).
The reckless embrace of sin leads to tragic consequences.
THE AMAZING GRACE AND LOVE OF GOD (1:10 – 2:1).
*Sin wounds the heart of God, but God has one more word for guilty sinners. The word is always one of forgiveness and restoration. “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ The people of Judah and the people of Israel will come together; they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one’” (1:10 – 2:1).
*There is a future hope for the people of God. God reverses every one of the judgments on Israel and restores his covenant with them.
The people will prosper, increase in number and return to the land.
They will be called “children of the Living God.”
They will have one nation under one Messiah.
They will flourish. Jezreel here means “God will sow in mercy.”
God will reconcile his people to himself and to each other.
*The Good News is that God always offers hope and grace and mercy and reconciliation. “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). God provides a way of restoration.“The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
*Hosea’s prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10).
INTRODUCTION: Modern Christian scholars divide the prophets of the Old Testament into Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) and the twelve Minor Prophets. Each of the Major Prophet books would have been written on one scroll in the Hebrew literature. All of the twelve Minor Prophet books were collected on one scroll. Hosea is the longest of the shorter books and comes first in the collection. The book is included in the Hebrew canon in what is called the “Book of the Twelve Prophets.” The Twelve cover three centuries of Hebrew history but in each book a prophet calls the people to repent and come back to God. Hosea preaches the judgment of God and the love of God. God will judge the sin of the people but God will provide mercy and salvation because of his great love for his unfaithful people. Hosea’s personal story reflects God’s story.
THE NEED FOR PROPHECY.
*Every generation needs a fresh word from God for its time and place in history. God’s word comes to every generation through his prophets. The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel (Hosea 1:1).
Hosea spoke the word of God to his generation in a specific time and place. We need prophets to speak to our generation.
THE NATURE OF PROPHECY.
*Prophecy is the declaration of the word of God to the people of God. Prophecy is not primarily “foretelling” future events but rather it is “forth telling” the truth of God’s word to disobedient people.
*God speaks through his prophet not just in words but also in his experience. Hosea was sensitive to God’s call and obedient to his command. Prophecy comes through actions as well as words. When the Lord began to speak through Hosea… (1:2).
Hosea’s marriage became the means by which God spoke to his people. Hosea’s experience defined God’s pain and God’s love. Hosea’s marriage is a sign.
THE PROPHET’S BURDEN.
*The Prophet’s Burden: Faithfully obey and deliver the word of God even if it means personal pain and sacrifice. The Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son (1:2-3).
*Hosea was told to marry a “wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry” (1:2 RSV). Hosea’s first act of prophetic obedience was to marry Gomer. It was the “word” of God through Hosea. His action revealed God’s heart. God would show Israel through Hosea’s marriage what his relationship with his people truly was. God was married to an unfaithful wife. They had committed spiritual adultery.
* The command to love the sinner is the heart of God. Hosea was told to marry a woman of harlotry. Hosea’s experience with his broken family allowed him to glimpse God’s relationship with his broken people. Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was a revelation of love. Gomer was an adulteress involved in Baal fertility rites. The command to marry a harlot revealed the unmerited love of God. The Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord” (1:2).
*God continues to love the undeserving sinner and restore unfaithful people. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10).
Suffering and crisis were the means of God’s revelation to the prophet Hosea. God can use my painful experience to speak truth and bring healing to the lives of others.
INTRODUCTION: Americans have basic rights guaranteed by our Constitution: freedom of worship, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. As Americans we assume the first freedoms found in the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press: or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. As Christians,we believe that true freedom comes through Jesus Christ who provides the basis for the freedoms we have as citizens of this world. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32 NRSV). Religious Liberty Sunday celebrates our freedom in Christ, our freedom to worship and our freedom as citizens.
WE HAVE LIBERTY IN CHRIST.
-Jesus used the image of slavery to describe you and me. “Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. “They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, "You will be made free'?" Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (v. 31-34).
-Jesus has the authority to set us free from sin. “The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (35-36).
-You will find true liberty when you come to know Jesus as your Savior and Lord: “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Truth is found in a Person, Jesus Christ. “Jesus said to him, `I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).
Have you discovered the freedom found in Jesus Christ?
WE HAVE LIBERTY TO WORSHIP.
-Freedom in Christ assumes personal responsibility and dignity before God. “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
-The First Amendment recognizes our right to full religious
Liberty: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....”
You have the right under God to worship without coercion.
WE HAVE LIBERTY TO EXERCISE OUR CITIZEN RIGHTS.
-Freedom in Christ assumes the right to know the truth and practice it. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).
-Freedom of the press, speech, assembly and pursuit of justice are guaranteed in the First Amendment. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press: or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
You are obligated in Christ to tell the truth and speak your mind.
Gregory C. Magruder Parkview Baptist Church, Gainesville, FL 6/11/17
Tell the World
INTRODUCTION: What is the recipe for a missional church? At Parkview Baptist Church
Every member is a missionary
Every home is an outpost for evangelism and fellowship
Every church is a mission-sending center
Our church slogan is “A Great Commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will grow a Great Church.” How can we obey the Great Commandment and the Great Commission?
ENLARGE YOUR CIRCLE OF WITNESS (11:19-21).
*Our Mission is to lead others to Jesus. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28:19).
*The Lord blesses our witness when we stretch our personal boundaries. Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord (11:19-21).
ENCOURAGE SUCCESS AND GROWTH (11:22-24).
*We are to bring new disciples into the Membership of his church. “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…” (Matt 28:19).
*Don’t try to control or contain the work of the Holy Spirit – set it free. News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord (11:22-24).
EDUCATE AND EDIFY THE BELIEVERS (11:25-26).
*Members must be brought to Maturity if they are to reflect the life of Christ. Jesus said, “And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
*Nurture new believers through doctrinal and practical teaching- orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch (11:25-26).
EXPRESS THANKS AND EXTENDHELP TO OTHERS (27-30).
*Mature believers will Magnify the Lord and find a Ministry in which to show Christ’s love to others. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
*Multiply ministry by loving God and loving your neighbor. During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul (11:27-30).
Are you living out the five purposes of the church?
Gregory C. Magruder Parkview Baptist Church, Gainesville, FL 06/04/17
1 Corinthians 10:14-17
INTRODUCTION: Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper and said “do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24). It is a time to remember what Jesus has done for us through his life, death, resurrection and ascension. The Lord’s Supper signifies his death. The Lord’s Supper has come to be known by several names, each of which has some biblical basis. The Lord’s Supper is also known as Eucharist, Holy Communion, Communion, the Last Supper, the breaking of bread, and the Lord’s Table. One common term is Communion. It is taken from the Greek word koinonia which means sharing, fellowship, and participation. We come together around the Lord’s Table to participate in the mystery of the Lord’s life, death, resurrection, and living presence. God’s people remember Jesus and what he has done for us.
WE CELEBRATE A COMMUNION OF PARTICIPATION.
*The Lord’s Supper provides a time to gather, remember, and proclaim what Jesus Christ has done for us. “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’”(1 Cor. 11:23-26).
*Communion is sharing the reality of salvation in the presence of Christ and other believers. We participate in the drinking from the cup and the breaking of the bread to remind us of the death of Jesus and its benefits. “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” (10:16).
Communion is not a reenactment but rather an act of fellowship.
WE CELEBRATE A COMMUNION OF FORGIVENESS.
*The drinking from the cup together reminds us that Jesus poured out
his life blood so we could be cleansed from our sins. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
*The breaking of the bread signifies the punishment Jesus took for our sins and the healing he brought through his broken body. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
Communion is a time for forgiveness and reconciliation. We have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2).
WE CELEBRATE A COMMUNION OF UNITY.
*Jesus sustains us through his life and presence spiritually just like bread nourishes us physically. Jesus told his disciples one day “I am the bread of life…I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:35, 51).
*The bread of communion represents the body of Christ given as a sacrifice on the cross. “And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” (10:16).
*The one loaf of bread reveals that together we are the body of Christ. We are united as one family, one people, and one body in Christ. We are individual parts of a larger whole. “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body…and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).
Communion is the time to share a family meal with Jesus and each other. We participate in a community of oneness. “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf” (10:17).
INTRODUCTION: We conclude today our series on the Seven Realities of Experiencing God and the post-resurrection experiences of Jesus. We have been asking “Where Do We Go from Here?” God develops our relationship with him, assures us of his love, and invites us to work with him to accomplish his purposes. God’s invitation creates a crisis of belief. Are we going to join him? What we do in response to God’s invitation reveals what we truly believe about God. The good news is that when we accept God’s invitation and join him in his work, we experience God in a personal and powerful way. I come to know God by experience when I obey him and he accomplishes his work through me. Jesus asked the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the gift of the Holy Spirit. He promised them that they would receive power and be his witnesses. The disciples obeyed and experienced God like never before.
GOD IS LOVE. HIS WILL IS ALWAYS BEST (2:1-4).
*You are to focus on your love relationship with God. Be faithful to what God has told you to do already.
Jesus told his disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about” (Acts 1:4).
The disciples obeyed and waited in the Upper Room: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting”(2:1-2).
*God will give you the assignment he has for you when you are ready. “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them” (2:3-4).
Obedience is the outward expression of your love to God.
GOD IS ALL-KNOWING. HIS DIRECTIONS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT (2:5-12).
*God sent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost when thousands of pilgrims had come to Jerusalem to worship. “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven” (2:5).
*When you follow God’s directives, he can do more in a short time than you could ever do in a lifetime. “When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?’... Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’” (2:6-12).
God’s way is the right way because he knows the future.
GOD IS ALL-POWERFUL. HE CAN ENABLE YOU TO DO HIS WILL (2:14-21; 32-41).
*God empowers you to complete the work he has called you to do. Peter had betrayed Jesus but Jesus led Peter to repent and gave him a new mission (John 21). Filled with the Spirit, Peter stands up and preaches boldly to thousands. “Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem…this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (2:14-21).
*God calls and equips you. He gives you the power and gifts to accomplish his will. Peter preached: “’God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it…He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear…Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah’ (2:32-36).
*When the people saw God at work among them through the obedient disciples they were drawn to Christ and were saved and baptized. “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ 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’…Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (2:37-41).
Affirmation comes after obedience. You experience God when you obey him and he accomplishes his work through you.
INTRODUCTION: We are examining the Seven Realities of Experiencing God and the post-resurrection experiences of Jesus in our series “Where Do We Go from Here?” When we are in right relationship with God and sensitive to his leadership, then we will be ready to do what he invites us to do. God speaks in a variety of ways to get our attention and invites us to join him in his work. God develops our relationship with him, assures us of his love, and invites us to work with him to accomplish his purposes. God’s invitation creates a crisis of belief. Are we going to join him? Are we going to follow him? Are we going to accept his invitation? What we do in response to God’s invitation reveals what we truly believe about God.
ONE RESPONSE TO GOD IS TO DENY, DOUBT OR DECLINE.
*God’s invitation for you to work with him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action. Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go…Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:16-20).
*Encounters with God are God-sized and require faith and action. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
*When we refuse God’s invitation to join him, we miss experiencing God and seeing him accomplish his work in the world. Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted (Matthew 28:16-17).
What we do in response to God’s invitation reveals what we truly believe about God. True faith requires action.
THE BEST RESPONSE IS TO ADJUST AND BELIEVE GOD.
*You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what he is doing. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave manyconvincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…” (Acts1:3-5).
*You may need to make adjustments in one or more areas of your life:
Beliefs (about God, his purposes, his ways, your relationship, etc.)
*You cannot stay where you are and go with God at the same time. Obedience is costly and requires dependence on God. Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:6-8).
The One who calls me is also the One who enables me to do his will.
Parkview Baptist Church is facing a crisis of belief. We are going to have to make major adjustments in the days ahead.
We will need to make some decisions that require great faith and dependence on God. Are you ready?
INTRODUCTION: We are examining the Seven Realities of Experiencing God and the post-resurrection experiences of Jesus in our new series “Where Do We Go from Here?” When we are in right relationship with God and sensitive to his leadership, then we will be ready to do what he invites us to do. God speaks in a variety of ways to get our attention and invites us to join him in his work. The reward of relationship is the lasting bond and trust that develops between people over time. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 131:1). People in a good and trusting relationship can accomplish great things together. God wants that kind of relationship with each one of us. God develops our relationship with him, assures us of his love, and invites us to work with him to accomplish his purposes. Peter experienced this when Jesus appeared on the shore of Galilee and restored their relationship. Defeated Peter became dynamic Peter as a result.
THE GRACE FACTOR IN RELATIONSHIPS.
*Relationships are built on grace: I accept you just as you are. “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs’” (John 21:15).
*God’s favor comes through Jesus. Jesus continually brings God’s acceptance to us no matter what we have done. “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people” (Titus 2:11).
*Grace can only be received as a gift. It is never earned. God invites you to join him in his work even though he knows you are not perfect. “For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9 GNT).
God restores us to a right relationship by his grace throughJesus.
THE LOVE FACTOR IN RELATIONSHIPS.
*Relationships thrive on love: I want the very best for you. “Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep’” (John 21:16-17).
*God’s unconditional love comes through Jesus. “But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8 GNT).
*Love works through the problems in a relationship and reaffirms the commitment to the other person. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. “For I am certain that…there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 GNT).
God loves us. God values us. God wants the very best for us.
THE HOPE FACTOR IN RELATIONSHIPS.
*Relationships grow through shared purpose: I want to go forward with you. “Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep...Follow me!’” (John 21:17-19)
*God’s purposes come through Jesus. God wants us to be on mission with him in this world. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples in the upper room and said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
*In general, God has given every disciple of Jesus the Great Commission. More specifically, as we develop our relationship with God through his Son Jesus, he invites us to join him in what he is doing around us. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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” (Matt. 28:18-20).
God provides meaning and purpose and hope through his Son Jesus.
INTRODUCTION: We are examining the Seven Realities of Experiencing God and the post-resurrection experiences of Jesus in our new series “Where Do We Go from Here?” We have discovered that God is always at work around us. We need to look and listen. But what do we do in the meantime? We need to work on our relationship with God. When we are in right relationship with God and sensitive to his leadership, then we will be ready to do what he invites us to do. God invites us to join him in his work. God speaks in a variety of ways to get our attention and invite us to join him in his work. How does God speak to us?
GOD SPEAKS AND GETS OUR ATTENTION.
*As I develop my love relationship with God, God will open my eyes to see where I can join him. Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does” (John 5:19-20).
*Four important factors when God speaks (from Henry Blackaby):
It is unique to the individual: Moses and the burning bush.
The person is sure God is speaking: What is your name? “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex. 3:14)
The person is clear about what God says: “Set my people free.”
When God speaks and reveals truth, that is an encounter with God.
*Jesus revealed himself to the disciples through their normal work of fishing. Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee…“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”“No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” (John 19:1-7).
When God speaks and gets our attention, he is inviting us to join him.
GOD SPEAKS BY THE HOLY SPIRIT IN DIFFERENT WAYS.
*The Holy Spirit leads us to understand spiritual truth and reveals to us God’s purposes and ways. Jesus said, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you” (John 16:13-14).
*The Holy Spirit speaks to us through:
The Bible (1 Corinthians 2:14-15).
Prayer (Romans 8:26-27).
Circumstances (Romans 8:28).
The Church (1 Corinthians 12:27).
*The disciples encountered Jesus in their circumstances through an act that only God could do. “Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead” (John 21:7-14).
God speaks to us by the Holy Spirit to reveal himself, his purposes and his ways. When God speaks, it is an invitation to join him.
How is your relationship with the Father? Are you sensitive to what God is doing around you? What is he saying to you? What is he saying to our church?
INTRODUCTION: Where do we go from here? That must have been what the disciples were asking as they huddled together in an upper room after the death of Jesus. But Jesus arose from the grave bringing a completely new reality. Jesus showed his disciples the way through the new reality in his post-resurrection appearances. We are examining the Seven Realities of Experiencing God and the post-resurrection experiences of Jesus in our new series “Where Do We Go from Here?” Last week we discovered that God is always at work around us. We need to look and listen. But what do we do in the meantime? We need to work on our relationship with God. God is not necessarily looking for those who are able. He is looking for those who are available and willing to follow him.
GOD PURSUES AN ON-GOINGLOVE RELATIONSHIP WITH US.
*Jesus appeared to the disciples at their most vulnerable and critical time.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19).
God loves us and cares for us. He wants a genuineconnection with us.
DEVELOP A REAL AND PERSONALCLOSENESS WITH GOD:
BRING YOUR FEARS TO HIM.
The disciples were afraid. On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders (John 20:19).
Jesus calms our fears and brings us peace and joy.Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. (John 20:19-20).
Jesus renews our purpose for living. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (20:21).
Jesus gives us the power to carry out his mission. And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (John 20:22).
You develop your relationship with Jesus when you trust him with your fears and worries.
BRING YOUR DOUBTS TO HIM.
Thomas stubbornly doubted Jesus’ resurrection and demanded proof. Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (20:24-25).
Jesus confronted Thomas’ doubt and disbelief. A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:26-27).
Jesus encouraged Thomas’ faith and sparked his loyalty. Jesus said, “Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed (John 20:27-29).
Jesus continues to bless all who put their faith and trust in him. Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
When fear and doubt trouble you, go to Jesus. Focus on your relationship with him. Jesus will calm your fears and bolster your confidence.
Where do we go from here? Look around. Listen. Work on your relationship with God. We can discover the way as we follow Jesus step by step.