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., 23 & 30 Jan. Lesson 8, Parts 1 & 2
Max Lucado, God Never Gives Up On You © 2024
Quiet Time: Max Lucado, God Never Gives Up, Pages 89-101
Facing Self & Finding God – One of the most challenging persons an individual may have to face in life is one’s self. Although this may be uncomfortable for many; it is a period of self-examination that places us more in line with God’s great purpose for our lives. Often for some in the Scripture narratives, coming to terms with self was a foreboding experience. However, the results brought healing, maturity, and a benefit to each person’s part in God’s plan. Isaiah comes to mind easily. He was a member of a prominent priestly family, who served God and the people through the ministrations of their priestly work. On a day Isaiah would never forget, he traveled to the temple, but it was no ordinary visit. Upon seeing the angelic hosts orbiting around the throne of God, and beholding His glory of God, Isaiah turned inward. Coming face-to-face with himself, Isaiah confessed verbally, “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips. And my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (See, Isaiah 6:5, NIV). That honest confession brought healing from God. as the angels, at the direction of God purged the lips of Isaiah, bringing forgiveness and renewal to him. When God made the plea for a servant to prophesy the Word, Isaiah eagerly accepted the call to prophetic ministry. He said, “Here am I, send me!” (See, Isaiah 6:8. NIV). The Scripture help us understand that human failure is a part of the human condition. We note Isaiah said he was sinful, but he,” lived among sinful people.” In becoming our best selves, as God would have us to; each of us must come face-to-face with our shortcomings; confess and be changed. Jesus said our best-self begins with the qualities and condition of our heart (Read, Luke 6:43-45, NLT). There is a casual relationship between our thoughts and our actions; a link between what we possess in us, and our behavioral responses to others. The Scripture stresses the need to have a healthy character; one that is not given to disingenuous behavior. The wisdom writings in the Old Testament stresses the need to avoid a begrudging or insincere spirit. Such a spirit does not develop healthy relationships. (Read, Proverbs 23:6-8, NIV). In ancient times the failure to share a hospitable spirit was both an insult, and it was sinful (See Hebrews 13:1-2, NLT). There are few persons who had to come face-to-face with their past wrongs, as did Jacob. His episodes of deceit are clearly documented. However, when God told Jacob to leave his father-in-law, Laban’s homestead to return home to Canaan, some 900 miles away; he finally was alone. It was in an obscure place where Jacob realized he was undeserving of God’s grace. This was a confession, that likely changed his thinking. (Read, Genesis 32:9-13a, NLT; Gen 32:13b, NLT).
Facing Self And Finding God, Part 2 – During the sacrificial period of the religious life of ancient Israel, animals were given to the priests to serve as an atonement – to forgive sins. God later told David forgiveness 0nly can be achieved through genuinely offering our broken selves to God. This is the only requirement necessary, as we seek God’s forgiveness and restoration. (Read, Psalm 51:16-17, NLT). It is who we are, with our faults and shortcomings; that God seeks to forgive, renew, and make whole. Our brokenness sometimes, is not merely a lack of resources; but it is fundamentally, the condition of our heart and our spirit. In Part 1 of this study, we note that Jacob had accrued great wealth and a large family; however, his deceitful ways toward his brother Esau, endangered both his body and soul. It was in a lonely place, where Jacob confessed, he was “the least deserving of his blessings.” There are times a person could reach a point in life, when one realizes they may not have deserved God’s favor at a given moment. The Psalmist bears this truth about God, when he honestly confesses: “He does not punish us for all our sins; He does not deal harshly with us as we deserve.” (Psalm 103:10, NLT). In facing self, we must be willing to submit ourselves to God’s will for our lives. This will, according to the Apostle Paul, help us conform to God’s plan; while avoid being squeezed into the customs and life-styles of this temporal world. (Read, Romans 12:1-2, NLT). A key word in that Scripture appears in the Greek text. That word is morphe, which is translated in the English as “transformed.” We are being told, we must be formed into a new and better self; one that is completely different, than what the world expects us to be. In doing so, we will become good, pleasing and mature, in this life and before God. In his letter to the Christians in Colossae, Paul explains further the character qualities we should possess and demonstrate toward others (Read, Colossians 3:11b-15, NLT). The world needs our witness as Christians; provided we are living as Christ teaches us. Paul advises, “Let the message about Christ in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives… And whatever you do or say do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:16a;17, NLT). In ancient times people were separated from the presence of God (Shekina) through a veil that extended from the ceiling of the Temple to the floor. When Christ died on the Cross, the veil which hung in the great Temple in Jerusalem, was torn from top to bottom (See, Matthew 27:51, NLT). This was a sign that through Christ’s atoning death; all who place their lives and trust in Him, will have the freedom to worship in the presence of the Lord. We have the freedom to worship and approach our Lord; and God the Father. In living by what Christ has taught us, we can become more like Him in character. (Read, 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, NLT). When we come to terms with ourselves, we will inevitably realize that God never gives up on us. When Peter stopped hiding behind a façade of perfection, he quickly conceded to his shortcomings. Peter did not become completely mature right away; but acknowledgment of his human imperfection, was a start. (Read, John 13:7-9, NLT). God loves us unconditionally, and He is closer than we often realize!
What We Believe!
“God’s grace never quits.” – Max Lucado
Luke 6:43-45, NLT
“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”
Proverbs 23:6-8, NIV
“Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the costs. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments.”
Genesis 32:9-13a, NIV
“Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac – O Lord, you told me, ‘Return to your own land, and to your relatives.’ And you promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly.’ I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps! O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother Esau. I am afraid he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. But you promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore – too many to count.’ Jacob stayed where he was for the night…”
Genesis 32:13b, NLT
“He selected… gifts from his possession, to present to… Esau.”
Psalm 51:16-17, NLT
“You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”
Romans 12:1-2, NLT
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect...”
Colossians 3:11b-15, NLT
“Christ is all that matters, and He lives in us. Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all clothe yourselves with love, which binds us altogether in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.”
2 Corinthians 3:16-18, NLT
“But whenever someone turns to the Lord the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. So, all of us who have that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is Spirit – makes us more like Him, as we are changed into His glorious image.”
John 13:7-9, NLT
“Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “You will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord not just my feet.”