Amazing Grace – Part 4

6. What do the following verses suggest about God’s plan for our lives?

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Psalms 84:11)

This verse is such a beautiful reminder that God longs to do good to us.  He longs for us to enjoy the bounties of His love but He does not force His ways on us.  He lets us choose.  This verse also reminds me of Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

I also like the NIV version of this:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “

God desires to give us good things. He desires good for our lives.  He has given us His word to guide us into the path where we can enjoy the good He has for us and the many blessings He wishes to bestow upon us.  We just need to choose if we will accept or not.  He does not force Himself upon us.

“Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalms 37:4)

God wants to make us happy.  He wants our life to be joyous and peaceful but He knows that if He always gave us our human passions and wants that we would not be happy for long and that it would eventually destroy us.  That is why we need to delight ourselves in the Lord.  As we draw closer to Him and ask His Spirit to dwell in our hearts, our thoughts and desires will change as He gives us a new heart and new mind (Ezekiel 36:26).  Thus our desires become what God has wanted for us all along. For our life to be happy and full, to be in perfect harmony with God and man.

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

How can we misunderstand God’s desire for our lives when we see this.  If God was willing to deliver up His Son to us (who we killed and crucified) we must understand that He desires the best for us and will also give us freely all things (those things that are good for us).  He will withhold no blessing from those who choose to follow Him and His ways of love.

7. How should we respond to God’s plan for our lives?

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

We should respond with faith, believing that God does desire good for us and we can safely follow in His path. There is nothing more exciting that a life of following God.  You never know where He will lead you, and though sometimes it may be tough, you can safely trust that in the end, you will be happiest in the plans He has for you.

8. What does Jesus say about faith in the following verses?

“Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.” (Matthew 9:29)

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” (Mark 9:23)

We need to believe & trust God to receive the blessings He longs to give us.

“There is, it seems, and underlying law of the universe: that the fulfilment of God’s plan for our life is directly connected to our faith in God’s longing to make us successful and happy” (FAST Survival Kit p6)

9. In light of the facts we have studied so far, what emotion should fill our hearts?

“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4)

We serve an amazing God.  A God who not only created us, but loves us very deeply and desires the very, very best for our lives.  His plans for us are for good and He gave all of heaven in Jesus Christ so that you and I can be apart of His plan.  The question just remains…Are we willing to trust Him and be apart of His plan today?  Let us reach out our hand in faith to the One who loves us more than life itself and trust our lives into His gracious care.

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Amazing Grace – Part 3

This clip is the NKJV version of Jeremiah 31:3 the FAST memory verse for this lesson and answers the question for number 5 in this study.

5. What are God’s thoughts towards us? Jeremiah 31:3

God’s ultimate desire for our lives is good.  He gave us His word to follow saying in Deuteronmy 28:1-2

“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.”

God’s desire was to bless the children of Israel and to make them an object lesson of His love to the nations surrounding them that they also may learn of the love of God and the true blessings from following Him.  Unfortunately they did not listen and the Old Testament of the bible is the story of God again and again trying to woo them back to Him.  Many times that involved suffering under the hand of the ruler they had chosen (satan) but God never left them there.  Through His grace and mercy He brought them again back to the land He had given them for and inheritance and tried to show them again that His commandments were for good and not for evil – to give them hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  That is why He gave them to them. 

The ultimate demonstration of His love for them (and us) was when He sent His own Son to live on this earth as an example for us of the kind of life we could live if we obeyed His commands. (Imagine if we all lived like Jesus what a beautiful world this would be).  Then after suffering at our hands, He died for our sins and opened the way for us to have open communication with God again and access to His Spirit to empower us to live a life of unselfish service to God and man. 

“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

God has loved us with an everlasting love a tie that will last for ever – Jesus Christ.  He has drawn us to Himself through Jesus showing us that He is truly a God of love.  Satan has tried to deceive us in showing God as authoritarian and restrictive, but God has shown us through Jesus Christ that His ways are ways of peace, hope & love.  His rules and commands are given because He loves us (just like a parent with their child) to protect us and prosper us.

Won’t we accept His gift to us and ask for His Holy Spirit to help us to live like Jesus.

“God has a special plan for our individual happiness and is waiting only for our cooperation to bring it to pass!” (FAST Survival Kit p5).

Amazing Grace – Part 2

2. How is God Involved in our world today?

This is the big question that many people ask.  If there is a God how is He involved in our world today? We don’t see the mighty miracles that they saw in times past.  Was it all fairy tales? Did God give up on the world? Or is He still working on our behalf?

“Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.” (Nehemiah 9:6)

How is God working in our world?  He is preserving us all.  If it weren’t for the work of the Holy Spirit and heavenly angels, Satan would have destroyed our world already with His evil deeds.  You just have to look at some of the nations, and places where people have completely rejected God and look at the devastation wrought.  Where there is no freedom of religion there is persecution and and often the general population living in abject poverty with little purpose and meaning to life.  Nations do not move forward in knowledge and development the same as their counterparts who acknowledge God and give freedom of religion.

It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

We are completely undeserving of God’s protection and care.  By our sins we have chosen Satan as our master and God could have left us there to be destroyed by him, but in His great love and mercy, He (did not send someone else to save us for no one else could) but He himself came to our world, lived a perfect life for us and died on Calvary so that we could live.  His grace has forgiven our sins, and His mercy is protecting us from the power of him who reigns in our world. It is by His mercy that we awake to new life every morning.  How much better our lives would be if we remembered day by day and moment by moment that each breath we take is a gift from God and we owe our lives to Him.

God has not just created the world and left us to our own devices, the bible unveils “our Creator as intimately involved in our continual existence preserving and sustaining us, day by day” (F.A.S.T Survival Kit p3)

3. What do the following verses tell us about God?

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” (Psalms 90:2)

God has always been in existence and will always be in existence.  This is such a hard thing for finite beings who have a beginning and and end to comprehend but that is why He is God, for He created all!  And we just have to look at the intricacies of nature to see that truly these could not have evolved.  When we look the His works of His hand we see the evidence that He is there.

“Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)

All glory and honour, and majesty belong unto God for He created all.  All that we see and all that we have are His, from His hand for our pleasure and for His glory.  He is over all creation.  EVERYTHING we have comes from God. All the riches of the world are His.  (How do we use the things that He as given us?  Are we using it to bless others as He has blest us?) It is He that makes us great. Any gift and talent that we may have also comes from Him.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)

As finite human beings, how can we understand God?  It is like asking a toad (or a duck) to understand us.  It is past his small mind to understand and comprehend our ways. (see the story in this link.  It is a really beautiful read “The Man & The Birds”)

There are many things that we cannot understand about God, but He has given us plenty of evidence that He does exist, that He is a kind and loving Father taking care of all He has made.

4. What is the special object of God’s attention?

“O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” (Psalms 139:1-6)

“Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)

You and I are the special object of God’s attention.  As our memory verse states: “…Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love.  Therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

God looks with tender love and mercy on each one of us and He longs for each one of us to seek and find Him.  He wants our life to be so much better than it is now and that can only result from a deep and meaningful relationship with Him.  He has promised that if we seek Him with all our hearts He will be found (Jeremiah 29:13).

Let the soul be drawn out and upward, that God may grant us a breath of the heavenly atmosphere. We may keep so near to God that in every unexpected trial our thoughts will turn to Him as naturally as the flower turns to the sun. 

Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. He who numbers the hairs of your head is not indifferent to the wants of His children. “The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” James 5:11. His heart of love is touched by our sorrows and even by our utterances of them. Take to Him everything that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up worlds, He rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. No calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3. The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son” (STC p 99-100).

Amazing Grace! – Part 1

We are currently going through the FAST Survival Kit program in our prayer meetings on Wednesday at 7.00pm at Salisbury SDA Church (anyone is welcome to join), and I thought I would share some of the thoughts I got out of the bible study to encourage those who have never done the FAST program to do it for themselves.  It is such a blessing.  You only need two people willing to keep each other accountable to do it well.  The material is available at this web site: https://www.fast.st/fast/store/digital&file=sk.

The first lesson is titled “Amazing Grace”.

Memory Verse: JEREMIAH 31:3 “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” JEREMIAH 31:3

  1. How does the bible introduce God? Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning God [Elohim – Plural indicating God not just a single self but a unity] “There is some sense in which God is composers of an Us and an Our, not merely and I and Me.  God’s own reality, apart from and before Creation, involves a plurality of personhood. God is Elohim – the Plural One”…..”God is not a solitary self, but rather a social unit of self-giving love in perpetual motion” (Ty Gibson – Truthlink “The Heart of God) 

The Father giving love to the Son, The Son the to Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit to the Father, and all that love overflowing on to us.  How blest are we to serve a relational loving God who desires for us to know and love Him of our free will!

Back to our bible verse:

“In the beginning God created – made everything beautiful, not for His own pleasure but for ours & He made us able to enjoy it.  Beautiful sunsets, melodious bird songs, warmth of the sun on our skins, pleasure of human touch, explosive tastes of wonderful food, smell of sweet roses & summer days.

“God is love” is written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass. The lovely birds making the air vocal with their happy songs, the delicately tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming the air, the lofty trees of the forest with their rich foliage of living green — all testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy. (STC p10)

“In the beginning God created heaven and the earth” Genesis 1:1

God created all that is.  Nothing evolved, nothing happened by chance.  All was created by purpose, for a purpose, including you and me.

In this short verse I see a God of love, who in His very essence is a social and relational being of love, creating a beautiful world for us to live in and enjoy.  God a relational Being who wants to have a relationship with me.  I am in awe, overwhelmed at such a God as this.