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Bible Study Notes 1/16/2024

Word Alive! Bible Study ©2024

Winter Series: God Never Gives Up On You!

Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton

Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor

Tues., 9 & 16 Jan. Lesson 7, Parts 1 & 2

 

Max Lucado, God Never Gives Up On You © 2024

Quiet Time: Max Lucado, God Never Gives Up, Pages 77-88


Finding God In Chaos - We should be encouraged to know, that some of the chaos we encounter in life, is God’s way of causing us to trust Him more.  We don’t need to look very far in the Scripture to learn this. One incident that comes to mind is the Prophet Elijah, who amid the strong winds, earthquake, and fire; came to hear the “distinct voice of the Lord.” Under great stress and overwhelming anxiety over the sins and apostacy of the nation, Elijah fled to a cave, in the Sinai mountainous region. The chaos swirling around Elijah, along with his inner stress, eclipsed his view of God. He must have thought, ‘Where is God, in the midst of this chaos?’ After reciting a litany of the problems he faced, Elijah had concluded, “He alone,” was left to challenge a decadent people. (Read, 1 Kings 19:10-13, NLT). Elijah learned as we all can; God is never far removed from the predicaments we face in life. God appears in many ways, but the voice spoken becomes clearer and reassuring, the more we place our trust in Him.  God told Elijah, return to the place where his call to prophetic ministry had occurred. Elijah was re-commissioned for more service. The prophet was told that despite his belief that he alone remained faithful to God; some 7,000 people would serve God unflinchingly; while Elijah would be protected, and given a successor in Elisha, to continue the work. (Read, 1 Kgs. 19:14b; 15-16; 18, NLT). No person likes to feel they have been taken advantage of by others; or, the actions of others, have contributed to the whirling tempests in which they find themselves. It is in such times a person should listen to hear the assuring voice of God. In his book, God Never Gives Up On You, Max Lucado looks at how Jacob felt when he realized that his uncle/father-in-law, Laban, had been deceitful with him. A series of insincere promises, and conniving actions by Laban, contributed to anxiety, and fueled his anger.  In the midst of Jacob’s trials, God was present. The Lord assured Jacob in a dream He was with him. He directed Jacob to gather his family, and return home to the land of Canaan. (Read, Genesis 31:12b-13, NIV). The remaining six years that Jacob worked for Laban were unpleasant; yet, during those years, God increased Jacob’s family; added significantly to his household, and gained wealth through the increase of his livestock. Despite Jacob’s successes, Laban orchestrated schemes to set him back. Regardless of the chaos, the ever-present God had a plan to restore Jacob’s losses despite Laban’s deceptions. Max Lucado comments: “God rewarded Jacob’s faith! God used Laban to teach Jacob to trust God.  Jacob didn’t like Laban. He wanted to leave Laban, yet he was better because of Laban.”  God can bless us, amid the chaos others bring into our lives. King David said, God allowed him “to eat before his enemies.” (Psalm 23:5a).


Finding God In Chaos - Part 2 - There is no place we ever could be, where God is not present. Our fear is finding God’s presence during difficult times. Strong winds do have a way of distracting our attention. This was Peter’s problem when Jesus permitted him to walk on the water’s surface in the storm. Peter maintained his balance; except, when he became distracted by the wind, and began to sink. Peter’s problem in that moment was that he allowed his faith to be compromised by fear. He succumbed to a distraction, which triggered a fear; usurping his faith. (See, Matthew 14:28-33, NLT). In the midst of chaos, human nature will cause us to panic inwardly. Distraction will follow, and the presence of God becomes blighted in our view. The maturity of our faith, will help us maintain an unswerving belief that whatever the circumstances are, God is ever- present. Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God assured, and assures, the faithful, that He was/is with them/us. Regardless of life’s chaotic moments, God is present; and reveals Himself through our ability to survive and conqueror difficult circumstances. (Read, Isaiah 43:1-3a, NLT). We cannot always wrap our heads around what we’re going through. Nor are we able to unravel some of the mysteries we encounter in life. For sure, we will experience some shadows; dark clouds; and unlit places along our journey.  Of these myriad and strange places, David said, “Even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.” (Psalm 139:10, NLT). The prophet Isaiah said, we should be in awe when we consider how mysterious, God operates. (Read, Isaiah 45:15, NLT). There truly is no issue to difficult for God. The song writer Jeremy Riddle, wrote: “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.”  God does not have to appear as we would like. We need only to know, and be assured, that there is no chaos too great for God. What we cannot handle, God is present to navigate our storms; douse the fires around us; and to cause the floods in our lives to recede and dissipate. We also must realize that we cannot be separated from God’s love; which is, the sign and assurance of His presence. The Apostle Paul made this clear to the Christians who lived in provinces controlled by the Roman Empire. Persecution, death, and famine, caused some Christians to wonder aloud, ‘Where is God in this chaos?’ Paul first assured the Christians that God was near; He was at work in the circumstances and confusion, which confronted their lives. God was not present in the chaos as an observer; but as the One, persistently working to resolve the confusion. (Read, Romans 8:28, NLT). Paul made it clear that God has a purpose in every aspect of our lives. This also is a point David made, when he said of God, “[You] know everything about me.” (Psalm 139:1b, NLT).  The love of God speaks to His abiding presence in our lives. Whatever is at work to separate us from God’s love, will not be successful. God has placed His love in us, through faith in His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. No force is powerful enough to defeat God’s great plan and purpose for us. Paul states this assurance with great passion to all Christians. (Read, Romans 8:35;37; 38-39, NLT). Because God is working in us, we should live in this assurance and not succumb to complaining. (See, Phil. 1:13-15, NLT).


Key Idea:

What We Believe!

  1. “God’s grace never quits.” – Max Lucado


Key Verses:

1 Kings 19:10-13, NLT

“Elijah replied, I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed everyone of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.  “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face and his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here Elijah?”


1 Kings 19:14b;15-16; 18, NLT

“I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” Then the Lord told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. Then anoint Jehu grandson of Nimish to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abelmeholah to replace you as prophet…Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him.”


Genesis 31:12b-13, NIV

“…For I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.”


Isaiah 43:1-3a, NLT

“But now, O Jacob. Listen to the Lord who created you.”  O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name, you are mine. When you go through the deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through the rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel your Savior.”   


Isaiah 45:15, NLT

“Truly, O God of Israel, our Savior, you work in mysterious ways.”


Romans 8:28, NLT

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”


Romans 8:35;37; 38-39, NLT

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?”   No, despite all these things overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us…And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


Philippians 1:13-15, NLT

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”

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