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., 21 & 28 Nov. 2023 Lesson 4, Parts 1 & 2
Max Lucado, God Never Gives Up On You © 2023
Quiet Time: Max Lucado, God Never Gives Up, Pages 37-49
God Is Not Like Us – Although God loves us, He is not “like us.” One reason a person may be prone to think God has given up on them, is because we want God to meet our expectations at specific areas of our needs and wants, at all times. God, some feel, is great, until our specific prayers seem to go unanswered. We must realize that while God may not give us everything we ask for; He is far more familiar with what our needs are, than we ever could be. We may recall how the Apostle Paul pleaded incessantly for the cure of a protracted, nagging illness. Paul said God did not remove the cause nor the consequences of his infirmity; but sustained his health and well-being through His grace. God’s care of Paul gave him the strength and healing to continue in his ministry. (See 2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV). Paul became in ancient times, the world’s greatest missionary. God knows us; loves us; and is so familiar with us; but the Scriptures remind us, we are not equal to God. Although God has delegated to humans many abilities and stewardship of the environment; our humanness is pale in comparison to God’s majesty and divinity. (Read, Psalm 8:1-9, NIV). God’s rule and authority is in heaven and on earth (Read, Isaiah 6:9-10, NIV). This means, there are no boundaries affixed to God’s sovereignty. Although in our humanness, we may feel abandoned by God when things go wrong in our lives; we must always be aware that because God never gives up on us, our deepest needs will be met by His love and compassion. We are wired to look for an immediate solution to our problems, so when God doesn’t appear to move in our time, we become disillusioned and often angry. Jesus was keenly aware of these human needs, so He taught us to pray, recognizing at the outset God as a Heavenly Father, who is different than us, but whose greater purposes are for our well-bring. (Read, Matthew 6:9-10, NIV). Praying for the Kingdom “to come;” is asking God for His “imminent” presence, rule, and protection in our lives. Jesus is assuring us that there is “nearness” of God’s presence; for He will “never leave you nor forsake you.” (See, Hebrews 13:5, NIV). The Scriptures provide us with confidence in trusting God for doing the things He said He would do. Unanswered prayer is not abandonment. Often, a prayer that seems unanswered is God’s way of letting us know He has another plan; one, that inevitably will work for what is best for us. A prophet of old spoke concerning an aspect of God’s divine nature. God does not resort to human proclivities in dealing with us. God loves us, but isn’t like us; nor are we always like Him (Read, Num. 23:19, NIV). When Jacob found himself challenging God, he based his loyalty to God on the condition that God would meet his expectations. This is not how our relationship with God should be. (Read, Gen. 28:20-21, NIV).
God Is Not Like Us - Part 2 - While Jacob acknowledged how “awesome” the place was where he experienced the God-encounter; he still struggled inwardly. Jacob’s promise to serve God, was a conditional promise. If God complied with Jacob’s wish-list, he would then have Jacob’s full endorsement. Our relationship with God should never be predicated on what we expect we will receive from Him. An insincere vow, has no validity before God (Read, Ecclesiastes 5:2-3; 5, NIV). Jacob’s name, after it is changed to Israel, is said to also mean, “One who strives with God.” (Read, Genesis 32:26-30, NIV). The Scriptures revealed in ancient times; God often would communicate His will and revelation to people, through divine emissaries, He would send to earth. Jacob’s “struggle” with the unnamed emissary, or perhaps an angel, was a wrenching experience. They wrestled until the very early hours of the morning. Jacob apparently felt he had an advantage over the stranger, so he bargained with him. Jacob told the messenger, “I will not let you go, until you bless me.” The messenger replied, only after he changed Jacob’s name to Israel. The changing of Jacob’s name was an act of God’s mercy and grace. Jacob was not destroyed by God, but understood that the relationship would be a perpetual struggle. However, Israel and the nation that bore his name, would ultimately prevail in the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham (Read, Romans 4:16-17, NIV). All believes in Christ are heirs to the promises of God. We acknowledge the faith of Abraham and the saints of old; whose righteousness and obedience to God was credited as faith. (Read, Hebrews 11:1;8, NIV). When we trust God for the details of our lives, we can experience His gracious favor; kindness, and mercy. Jacob always wanted to be ahead of others; so much so, that he frequently engaged in deceptive practices. God is so unlike us; such that He never does anything that compromise His divine character. Sometimes our reach and grasp as humans, go only as far as our limitations. When, after 20 years, Jacob learned his brother Esau was much closer to tracking him down; and avenging the wrong Jacob had committed. Jacob preemptively sent a servant ahead of him with gifts, in an attempt to appease his brother; whom, he had hurt two decades previously (Read, Genesis 32:19-21, NIV). The Scripture reminds us, that our best plans can be futile. The wisdom writings warn humans, God has the final authority over our plans (See, Proverbs 19:21, NIV). Jacob’s clever skill at creating schemes to gain advantage over others, would ultimately work against him. By the time Jacob faced Esau, he was leaning on his staff with a disjointed hip, that gave him a permanent physical disability (See, Genesis 32:31-32, NIV). What Jacob’s mind could conjure; his body could not do. The reconciliation between Jacob and Essau would not be mediated by him, but made possible by God’s work on Essau’s heart; and the need for reconciliation. In 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, we read that our faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from God, so that we can be reconciled to Him. The term reconciliation means, “to be brought back;” “to become restored.” God’s merciful and gracious favor for us, reveals His divine love, which is reconciling. God’s love for us can never be exhausted. We should ever seek to be like Him.
Key Idea: What We Believe!
“God’s grace never quits.” – Max Lucado
Psalm 8:1-9, NIV “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them. You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Isaiah 66:1a, NIV This is what the Lord says, “Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool.”
Matthew 6:9-10, NIV “This then is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Numbers 23:19, NIV “God is not a man that He should lie, not a human being that he should change His mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
Genesis 28:20-21, NIV
“Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God…”
Ecclesiastes 5:2-3;5 NLT
“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few…It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.”
Genesis 32:26-30, NLT
“Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name!” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
Romans 4:16-17, NLT
“Therefore, the promise comes by faith so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring- not only to all who are those in the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, whom we believed – the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.”
Hebrews 11:1; 8, NIV
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance for what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for …By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place where he would later receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
Genesis 32:19-21, NIV
“He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: “You are to say the same thing to Essau when you meet him. And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coning behind us.’ For he thought, “I will pacify him, perhaps he will receive me. So, Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.”