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Bible Study Notes 10/31/2023

Word Alive! Bible Study ©2023

Fall /Early Winter Series:

God Never Gives Up On You!

Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton

Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor

Tues., 24 & 31 Oct. 2023 Lesson 2, Parts 1 & 2

Max Lucado, God Never Gives Up On You © 2023

Quiet Time: Max Lucado, God Never Gives Up, Pages 13-30

Short-CutsCan Deceive – It’s possible many, or most,’ of us have taken “short-cuts.” God wanted us to follow a different path. We’ve done this, because to achieve what we wanted, would have taken longer. We take these shorter routes thinking we can arrive at the points in life we seek much sooner. Then, there are times we assume our way is more immediate. As such, we believe it is the better approach to take. It is this human proclivity, that becomes sin. The Scriptures say “all have fallen short” of God’s requirements, at some point in our lives. We’ve fallen short, because we’ve taken “short-cuts.” (Read, Romans 3:23, NIV). The reason given for these shortcuts, is sin. The Greek New Testament more often uses the term hamartia, for sin. The word is translated to mean, “to fall short of God’s instructions;” or “to move away from God’s teachings.” We note in Romans 3:23, that no one is left unindicted of this. This does not mean that we “willfully sin” all the time; but it means that in our human frailty, we’re all more prone to sin. Our short-cuts can deceive us, and cause us great harm (Proverbs 6:10, NLT). Because God does not give up on us, we should use our waking moments to engage in a life of meaning and purpose. In his very helpful book, God Never Gives Up On You, author Max Lucado says: “But can we agree that all of us at times have chosen the quick and easy route? That sin, at its root, is the unwillingness to wait? To trust? To follow God’s plans? We take matters into our own hands.” Even when we’re given a choice about the next steps we will take; we may neglect to seek discernment from God, before we make a decision. While a person may feel God has given them the ability to “think for themselves;” it is always wise to acknowledge God in all that we do. The Scripture instructs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” (See, Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT). The relative of Abraham was given an opportunity to choose the land he desired. Lot, the nephew, instinctively chose what seemed to be the more appealing land; conveniently situated by a trade route, and several bustling towns. (Read, Genesis 13:8-9a; 11-13, NLT). Lot’s choice inevitably brought him much trouble; sorrow, and the death of his wife. Despite his failures, God didn’t give up on Lot and saved him from destruction. Abraham also provides us with an example of how we should never seek to enrich ourselves, through means other than what God blesses us with. Abraham turned down any special favors, that would compromise his ability to credit God for his victories (Read, Genesis 14:22-24, NLT). Short-cuts may ease and comfort; but only God’s way, gives us grace, meaning, and purpose! It is never God failing us, but we often fail to trust Him.

Short-Cuts Can Deceive, Part 2, - In the narrative which describes the birth of Isaac and Rebeka’s sons; the grasping of Esau’s heel, was a sign of his younger brother, Jacob’s tendency to elude others in attaining what he wanted. Jacob’s name meant “one who trips heels.” Consistent with his birth countenance, and character development; Essau, meant, “The red or rugged one.” Although Jacob was destined to be the father of a great nation, Israel, he was not exempt from the consequences of his actions (Read, Genesis 25:23-26, NLT). Our clever ways are pale when compared to God’s divine plan. In his book, God Never Gives Up On You, author Max Lucado offers this sound perspective: “There are no shortcuts with God. None…He doesn’t need your foot on the accelerator. He doesn’t need my help with his plans…” God will reveal His plan to us when we are faithful to him. When Jacob was dying, he included the sons of Jacob, Ephraim and Manasseh, in his inheritance. When he confirmed the inheritance, he gave the greater portion to the younger son, Ephraim, causing the disappointment of his father Joseph. When Jospeh complained, Jacob told him each of the sons would be great; but the younger would extend the inheritance through many nations. If Jacon had pronounced the inheritance hastily; or as they were customarily passed on, he may have interfered with God’s plan and promise (Read, Genesis 48:14; 17-20, NLT). While we cannot frustrate God’s plans; we can incur delays, and forfeit certain blessings, if we decide to engage in initiatives on our own. The psalmist encourages us to: “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him and He will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.” (See, Psalm 37:5, NLT). Often, we may assume we can do everything by ourselves. But the Scripture tells us to “remove our thoughts to make way for God.” The Old Testament Hebrew word often used is galal; which has the sense of “removing doubts” or any thought which is contrary to God’s will. To be committed to God is to avoid shortcuts, and behavior that is inconsistent with God’s plan. In today’s language, we should be ‘all in,” when it comes to God’s will; and with the purpose He has established for the fulfillment of our lives. This sense of commitment is beautifully illustrated in the life of Ruth. Left without support, because of the death of her husband, Ruth made a crucial decision to accompany her mother-in-law Naomi back to Israel. This could have been a difficult decision for Ruth, who was from the land of Moab, which was not looked upon favorably by the Israelites. Undaunted and committed to her mother-in-law, Ruth left her homeland and journeyed with Naomi to Bethlehem. It was there, Ruth’s destiny was fulfilled. She married and became the great grandmother of David, who became king of Israel, and through that linage Christ was born. The pleading of Naomi through Ruth, was a powerful symbol of faith and commitment. (Read, Ruth 1:14-19a, NLT). Ruth could have taken the very short route and remained with her people, but she knew God’s purpose would always prevail. When God has a purpose in your life and you have come to terms with it; you will find yourself doing what is necessary, even if it means taking a longer route in life. God will be close to us!

Key Idea: What We Believe!

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

Key Verses:

Romans 3:23, NIV “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Proverbs 6:10 NLT “A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest- then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”

Proverbs 14:12, NLT “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”

Genesis 13:8-9a; 11-13, NLT Finally Abraham said to Lot, “Let’s not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives! The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate…Lot chose for himself the whole Jordan Valley to the east of them. He went there with his flocks and servants and parted company with his uncle Abraham. So Abraham settled in the land of Canaan. And Lot moved his tents to a place near Sodom and settled among the cities of the plain. But the people of this area were extremely wicked and constantly sinned against the Lord.”

Genesis 14:22-24, NLT

Abram replied to the king of Sodom. “I solemnly swear to the Lord God, Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, “I am the one who made Abram rich.” I will accept only what my young warriors have already eaten and I request that you give a fair share to my allies – Aner, Eschol, and Mamre.”

Genesis 25:23-26, NLT

“And the Lord told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.” And when the time came to give birth, Rebekah discovered that she did indeed have twins! The first one was very red at birth, and covered with thick hair like a fur coat. Then the other twin was born with his hand grasping Esau’s heel. So they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when the twins were born.”

Genesis 48:14; 17-20, NLT

“But Jacob crossed his arms as he reached out to lay his hand on the head of Ephraim, though he was the younger boy, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, though he was the first born…But Joseph was upset when he saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head. “No, my father.” he said. But his father refused. “I know my son; I know,” he replied. “Manasseh will also become a great people. But his younger brother will become a multitude of nations.” So Jacob blessed the boys that day with this blessing: “The people of Israel will use your names when they give a blessing. They will say, “May God make you as prosperous as Ephraim and Manasseh.” In this way, Jacob put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.”

Ruth 1:14-19a, NLT

“And again they wept together and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same. But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely, if I allow anything but death to separate us. “When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more. So the two of them continued on their journey…”

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