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Bible Study Notes 9/19/2023

Word Alive! Bible Study ©2023

End of Summer Series: Dare to Dream and Grow Your Faith!

Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton

Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor

Tuesday, 12;19 Sept. 2023 Lesson 6, Parts 1 & 2

Rick Warren, Created to Dream, © 2023

Quiet Time: Rick Warren, “Dream,” 89-101

Upending Dead Ends Just like delays confront us in life, there are moments when we will feel we’ve reached a dead end. Our plans and aspirations may seem, at least temporarily, they aren’t going anywhere. The road to better things in life is not always a straight or continuous line. There are twists; turns; and for sure, dead ends when things seem to be going nowhere. As people of faith, we should see a dead end, as yet another opportunity for God to demonstrate His power. A road block in plans may be a beneficial delay; a pause, to consider who is really in charge of our destiny. Then too, what may seem to be an insurmountable task, may really be an opportunity to experience far better than we imagined. Persons who were excited about following Jesus, must have felt they were approaching a dead end, when Jesus warned them that personal sacrifices were necessary to attain the best possible with Him. God’s faithful people in the Scriptures, encountered what may have seemed to them a dead end, which offered little hope for something better. Jesus told His followers, and others who thought they would follow Him; many things are impossible in our human way of thinking; but with God there is always possibility. (Read, Luke 18:26-30, NLT). Pastor Rick Warren advises: “When you face a dead end, don’t focus on what you can’t do; focus on what God can do.” Our focus often is gauged in the wrong direction. We are living in an era with far more distractions, that perhaps civilization ever has known. It is our faith that should provide our directional signals in navigating life’s circumstances. We should avoid allowing too many distractions to take us off course in life. Sometimes we make the mistake of focusing only on our immediate issues, and our attention is deflected away from God. After God led the Israelites out of bondage, away from their Egyptian captors they rejoiced. It was not long before they heard the sound of chariot wheels coming toward them. The people realized they were trapped. There was no place to go. No one could imagine a sea opening before them; nor less, walking on dry ground at the bottom of the sea. In their panic, the people blamed Moses, their deliverer for leading them to a dead end. Moses challenged them to focus on God, who would deliver them. (Read, Exodus 14:10-11; 13-14, NLT). if it were not for our faith, we would be tempted to always feel betrayed by God. This is true, especially when we’re called upon to sacrifice what was promised to us, then abruptly taken away. Abraham was challenged to sacrifice his son of promise, but he did so, not knowing exactly why or where on the mountain Isaac would breathe his last breath. The trial didn’t eclipse his faith in God (Read, Genesis 22:2, NLT). Faith is that sure confidence. (Read, Hebrews 11:1-2, NLT).

Upending Dead Ends, Part 2Where are the exit points when all hope seems lost. When Abraham received God’s summon to surrender his only son of promise, he did not have much time to ponder this dilemma. After all, Abraham and Sarah had waited 25 years before Isaac was born. Now, Isaac was to be offered as human sacrifice. We learn later in the Scripture that in spite of this predicament, Abrham’s faith gave him the assurance that if God took his son; Isaac would be restored to life. (Read, Hebrews 11:17-19, NLT). The ancient Christian interpretation of this event raises hope for the Resurrection; in that, Abraham received his son back from a death sentence. Our dead ends are not locked doors; through faith, they become a new way toward greater life and opportunity. This was Abrham’s belief that inspired the Apostles and early Christians. (Read, Romans 4:17b, NLT). The example of Abraham’s faith benefits all Christians, in that we too can experience the work and power of God in our lives. (Read, Romans 4:20-25, NLT). Some believe that what happened in the Biblical narratives are of no consequence to us. However, this is not true. The true and tested faith of the believer still works, and is efficacious for change in our lives. Abraham and the men and women of faith in the Scripture, believed God had something better for them. More so, they had an expectation that God would bring about a result that benefited them. They knew God would neither harm them; nor cause them to be fatally harmed by their circumstances or adversaries. Pastor Rick Warren says, “God works in your life according to your expectation.” The Scripture defines “hope” as an expectation. We may recall “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…” (Read, Romans 4:18, NLT). The Apostle Paul told the Corinthian Church how, what seemed to be a dead-end in his mission efforts, became a great opportunity to further the work of the Lord. Paul’s candid admission was that his dead-end encounter, helped him and the others with him, “rely” on God, than merely on themselves. (Read, 2 Corinthians 1:8b-10, NLT). The Apostle James further reminds us that a lifeless faith can put us in dead-end situations. He says, “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces [actions], it is dead and useless.” (See, James 2:17, NLT). On an occasion, Jesus entered the home of two blind men who needed healing. Jesus asked them if they wanted to be healed. They eagerly answered, “yes.” Touching their eyes, Jesus said, “Because of your faith it will happen.” (Matt. 9:29, NLT)

Key Idea

What We Believe!

  1. When you face a dead end, don’t focus on what you can’t do; focus on what God can do.

Key Verses

Hebrews 11:17-19, NLT

“It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.”

Romans 4:17b, NLT

“Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.”

Romans 4:20-25, NLT

“Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in Him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and He was raised to life to make us right with God.”

Romans 4:18, NLT

“Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping – believing that he would become the father of nations. For God said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!”

2 Corinthians 1:8b-10, NLT

“We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it…We expected to die…We stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely on God who raises the dead…He rescued us from mortal danger and He will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in Him, and He will continue to rescue us.”

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