Prophecies

Spiritual Maturity

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Family Devotional Adult 9-10-17Family Devotional Kids 9-10-17

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Life is a journey. From birth, to childhood, to adolescence, all the way to our twilight years, we’re never really static – we’re always growing. In the same way, Christianity is a lifelong progression, as we grow to become more like God, and know Him better. Growth is God’s expectation for all of us, and it happens best in the context of relationships.

2. Bible Verse

1 Corinthians 3:1-2 [NLT] Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger.”

Paul is addressing the spiritual maturity of the Corinthian church. Regardless of our age, we’re all spiritual infants when we join God’s family – but He doesn’t expect us to stay that way.

Romans 12:2 [ESV] “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

3. Discussion

How do we renew our minds? By being discipled – learning and applying God’s ways of thinking. This is a lifelong process that happens best in relationships with other Christians. 

Q: Which individuals in your life have had the biggest impact on your spiritual growth? Is your relationship with them close, or distant? 

Q: Outside of pastors, authors, and public speakers, who are the spiritually mature people you look to for inspiration and guidance? If you don’t have anyone like that, how might you go about building a relationship with someone?

Q: Who are the people in your life that are less experienced in their relationship with God than you are? Are you actively building them up in their faith? If not, how might you start helping them to grow?

4. Prayer Focus

God’s will for us all is to be part of this process. Never stop learning from others. Never stop teaching and helping others.  Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for the growth-inspiring relationships in your life. Ask Him to help you strengthen those connections, so more and more people can become more like Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

John 15:13  “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 

“I Will Stand Up For Others – No Matter What The Cost!”

This week we continued our series, “Never Too Young.”  In this week’s lesson, the children learned a powerful message from the life of Esther about how to stand up for those who are in need!

2. Discussion

Read Esther 4:7-8, 15-16 “Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him. He told him about the exact amount of money Haman had promised to add to the royal treasures. He said Haman wanted it to be used to pay some men to destroy the Jews… It commanded people to wipe out the Jews…

Mordecai told Hathak to show the order to Esther. He wanted Hathak to explain it to her. Mordecai told him to tell her to go and beg the king for mercy. Mordecai wanted her to make an appeal to the king for her people.  15 Then Esther sent a reply to Mordecai. ‘…Then I’ll go to the king. I’ll do it even though it’s against the law. And if I have to die, I’ll die.”’

Q. Do you remember who this week’s Bible story was about?

Q. What did Esther do for her people?

Q. Why was this so important?

3. Activity 

Discuss with your children why what Esther did was so important and how difficult it must have been to stand up for others.  Share a time in your life where you had to stand up for someone or something.  This can help your children identify with this story.

Q. What do you think it means to “stand up for others?”

Q. How does this make God feel when we “stand up for others?”

It’s important that we stand up for others and what is right.  There may be people at your school who are being bullying, and you could be the person to stop them.  There may be a person who needs new friends, and you could be that new friend for them.  Or, maybe God wants you to help those less fortunate than you like the homeless or poor.  It’s important that when you see other people in need, you respond and help them.

4. Prayer Focus

Discuss with your children ways they can “Stand up for others.”  As a family, make a plan to give back to those in need.  Pray together that God will use your family to make a difference in this world!

Hearing God’s Voice

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Family Devotional Adult 9-3-17Family Devotional Kids 9-3-17

 

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

1. Primary Statement

Before Jesus came, God only spoke to a few select people, and only in special ways and on special occasions. Many Christians live like God still operates this way, but Jesus promised that when He sent the Holy Spirit, we would be able to hear from God anytime, anywhere.

2. Bible Verse

Elijah only heard from God in certain instances.

1 Kings 18:1 [ESV] “After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah…”

1 Kings 19:9 [ESV] “There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” 

1 Kings 21:28 [ESV]  “And the word of the Lord came to Elijah…”

 

God spoke to others in that era – people like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and even John the Baptist. They were known as “prophets” – people who spoke on God’s behalf.

3. Discussion

Jesus told us His Word would not only be available to us – it would live in us.

John 15:7 [ESV]  “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” 

John 14:16–17 [ESV] “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

Q: If you can hear directly from God, does that make it less or more important to know what He said in the Bible? Why?

Q: In what ways has the Holy Spirit spoken into your life? Do you think He wants to say more?

Q: If the Holy Spirit is speaking all the time, should we expect the gifts of the Spirit to operate only on special occasions, or more day-to-day?

4. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family and thank God for speaking to you through the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to work in your life to impact others as He reaches out to them through you.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

1. Power Verse

 Romans 8:31  …If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”

“If I Take A Risk, God Will Bring The Victory!”

This week we continued our series, “Never Too Young.”  In this week’s lesson, the children learned about the importance of “Taking A Risk” in their lives.  It is important that our kids know that they can tackle any “giant” that may stand before them with God’s help!

2. Discussion

Q. What giant did you learn about this week?  (Goliath)

Q. Who defeated the giant?  (David)

Q. How did David defeat the giant?  Do you think David was scared or worried when he stood before the giant?

It’s natural to be scared when we stand before a “giant” in our own lives.  David may have been scared too!  But, David didn’t worry because he knew God was with Him and God would help him defeat the giant.

Q. What “giant” can you think of that you are facing now in your own life?  (Help your child identify problems that seem bigger than they are.)

Q. What are some things you can do to help defeat your giant?

Q. What would God want to tell you about your giant?

3. Activity 

God wants us to know that with His help we can defeat our giants and do great things for Him!  We have been talking the last few weeks about how you are “Never Too Young” to do things for God.  With God’s help, you can do anything!  

Be willing to take a risk for God!

Read This Scripture:

Romans 8:31 “…If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”  

Spend some time helping your child memorize this scripture for the next time they face a giant in their lives.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your child will be strong and with God’s help can stand up against their giant!  Pray that they will be willing to take a risk in order to do BIG things for God!

Signs of the End

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If you are a regular attendee at Abundant Life in Alton you know that we are finishing our study of the book of Revelation on Wednesday nights. It has been a remarkable journey as we have progressed through God’s judgment upon mankind and now, in the last chapter and a half we are investigating the revelation of God’s eternal kingdom coming to earth and the final restoration of the fellowship between man and God that God always desired. This study has created a viewpoint in my mind that is stirring a desire to see as many people saved as soon as possible and a renewed awareness of scriptures that speak of the end of times. I was reading this morning and came across Jesus speaking in Matthew 24 concerning the time just prior to his return. Consider with me verses 10-12.

Matthew 24:10–12 (NLT)

10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.

It’s verse 12 that always gets me, “Sin will be rampant, and the love of many will grow cold.”

The descriptive language, “Sin will be rampant,” describes the atmosphere that will exist in the world just prior to Christ’s return. The word rampant is the English translation of a Greek word that means “increase.” In other words, sin will get more and more common and this increased atmosphere of sin will cause people’s love for God to grow cold. It’s a sad picture when I think of it. My question is how?

How does sin in the world make people’s love for God grow cold?

I think it’s just like marital love. My wife’s name is Leighanne. Should I start having intimate discussions with another woman and sharing my life with her, allowing her to take Leighanne’s place in my life, then the unavoidable consequence of that is that an emotional bond will be formed which will, over time, lessen my love for Leighanne. If this relationship is allowed to last, then eventually my love for my wife can be damaged to the extent that my marriage will not endure.

In a world where sin is growing increasingly common and socially permissible Christians must be careful of the things that we embrace. Sin is alluring and deceitful and if we are not careful we can find our love for God and his Kingdom diminishing and our love for the things that sin offers growing. The better option and the shield against this slide away from God is to move towards him. Also just like marriage, if I make a determined effort to communicate and show my love for my wife, I strengthen my love for her and our relationship strengthens. Move towards God! Spend time in his presence daily, meditate on the Word, give Him praise and tell others around you of His importance in your life.

Growing cold in your love for God is a choice but, the good news is; so is growing hot in your love for Him! God’s wonderful invitation of fellowship with him is based upon the truth that we get to choose! Determine today that you will not be in this group of people whose love for God has grown cold but instead whose love grows stronger with each passing day.

Be careful! It’s dangerous out there!

Blessings,

Pastor Roy

An Uncomfortable Revelation

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As I was preparing for our Wednesday night class on the book of Revelation I came across a statement that stopped me in my tracks. The statement was this, “the final form of world religion will be apostate, satanic, and blasphemous.”

I absolutely believe that this will be the end state of the world as we know it so this thought didn’t surprise me. We believe that ultimately, much of mankind will forsake God and turn towards a false leader who will bring into being a completely apostate and heretical world religion. The thought that caught me off guard was the potential existence of intermediate steps that would move the world to this state and further, that some of those steps were most likely occurring right now.

As with any societal change I suspect that there will be a whole series of small changes that will feel as if they are inconsequential and perhaps even wholesome while actually being a step away from God and towards Antichrist. These changes won’t feel that way because following the old adage, “How do you eat a elephant? One bite at a time.” holds true here as well. World-shaping societally accepted change does not occur in a moment but rather over long periods of time with few rapid changes, but rather with many small changes.

I guess what I’m hoping for in writing this blog, is that some of those who believe that the recent changes in both the church and society are for the good, will examine those changes and conclude that the direction of change is not towards God but rather away from Him. These are indeed incremental changes moving us towards a religion that is indeed anti-christ.

The scriptures speak of this time in many places. Consider these verses:

Matthew 24:24 (ESV)  “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

Matthew 24:12 (ESV) “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.”

2 Timothy 4:3 (ESV) “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”

If the ultimate outcome of this world is a religious state completely void of God, if this state evolves slowly over a great deal of time, and these small changes are occurring today, what should we do?

Here are a few things that I think we would be well served by doing:

  • Be very careful about what we embrace and the beliefs that we hold.
  • Maintain a very close attachment and devotion to the scriptures as our final authority on all things.
  • Be willing to challenge each other in love concerning our lifestyles and what we embrace.
  • Be unwilling to compromise scriptural truths even when we might be shunned for our beliefs.
  • Openly share our beliefs and evangelize to those around us.

God promises to bless those who follow Him. Be careful of the life that you live because the enemy of our souls is cunning and I believe this movement away from the things of God is both obvious and increasing in magnitude.

Blessings,

Pastor Roy

 

 

 

Seven ‘Sevens’

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Let’s look at another amazing prophecy from the book of Daniel. 

In Daniel 9:24-27 we read…24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. 25 “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

I want to focus our attention on a single aspect of this multiple part prophecy. 

In verse 25 we read that, “From the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One…” would be a series of seven “‘sevens’ and sixty-two ‘sevens’”.  These “sevens” are seven year periods.  Therefore if we do the math Daniel is saying that sometime in the future a decree to rebuild Jerusalem will be made and then 483 years later (seven sevens and sixty-two sevens = 49 years + 434 years) the Anointed One will come.

Here’s where it gets amazing!  Jerusalem was indeed destroyed and on the 1st day of the Jewish month of Nisan 444 B.C. Artaxerxes King of Persia issued a decree that the city of Jerusalem should be rebuilt. 

Now the math…

The Prophecy said that it would be 483 years from this edict until the Anointed One came.

Since we are not using the Jewish calendar but the Gregorian one, we have to convert the 483 years based on the Jewish calendar into solar years which the Gregorian calendar uses.  360 days divided by 365.25 gives us a conversion factor of 0.9856.  If we multiply the 483 years of Daniels prophecy (which used the Jewish calendar) by this conversion factor we get 476 solar or Gregorian years which is what our calendar uses.

476 solar years from 444 B.C brings us up to A.D. 33.  If we look at the exact date of 1 Nisan and go from there factoring in the conversion from Jewish to Gregorian we come to 10 Nisan which is March 30, 33 A.D.

That may not seem like much to you but do you know what that day was? 

March 30, 33 A.D. was a Sunday and it was the exact day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt.  Today we call that day “Palm” Sunday because the people waved palm branches and laid them before Jesus indicating that He was their king as he entered Jerusalem.

Let me help you put all of this into perspective. 

Daniel prophesied about an edict to rebuild Jerusalem 160 years before that edict was made and that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem.  That prophecy was 636 years before Christ entered Jerusalem and Daniel prophesied the EXACT DAY!

What an amazing book the Bible is!

More scripture later!

Prophecies Fulfilled

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Oops, I forget to get into the fulfilled prophecies that support the Bible as a truly unique book.  There are so many of them in so many different areas perhaps it would be good if we limited the course of our investigations a little.  Let’s just look at the prophecies that are given concerning the possibility that Jesus was and is the Messiah.

Let’s take an objective look at just a few of the prophecies concerning the Messiah and see if we find the fulfillment in the life of Jesus.  In order to make it a little more difficult… that someone might try to live in such a way as to only seem to fulfill them, let’s look at eight prophecies that would be beyond the ability of a person to arrange their life so as to seem to fulfill them.

Here are eight prophecies about the Messiah that would be beyond the ability of a person to control them for obvious reasons.

1. Place of birth                     (Micah 5:2)                                       

2. Time of Birth                     (Daniel 9:25, Genesis 49:10)          

3. Manner of Birth                (Isaiah 7:14)                                     

4. Betrayal

5. Manner of Death               (Psalm 22:16)

6. People’s Reactions

7. Piercing

8. Burial

In Jesus every one of these was fulfilled exactly!  You might say, “but that’s only eight things.”  Those aren’t all of them.  In the life of Jesus there are

over 300 fulfilled Old Testament Prophecies!

But just considering those eight and all the variables that might occur within those eight, Professor Peter Stoner in His book, “Science Speaks” writes…

“We find the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies in 1 in 1017  (that’s 17 zeros after the one).  In order to help us understand this staggering probability if we took 1 in 1017 silver dollars and put them on the face of the state of Texas they would cover all of the state two feet deep.  Now mark one of those silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state.  Blindfold a man and tell him he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one.  What chance would he have of getting the right one?  Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man.”

Imagine what the odds would have been if we considered all 300 fulfilled prophecies and remember these are only the prophecies concerning the Messiah.  The Bible has hundreds and hundreds of other fulfilled prophecies to its credit.

It is truly a divinely inspired book!

Let’s look at a little more if it.

In Mark 1:35-45 we read….

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. 40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” 41 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. 43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

Answer these questions:

  1. What time of day did Jesus pray? (Mark 1:35)
  2. When the man with leprosy asked is Jesus was willing to heal him, what did Jesus say?  (Mark 1:41)
  3. What did the man with leprosy do after Jesus healed him? (Mark 1:45)

Remember to post your comments and questions.