Bible study


angelA higher functioning person in Special Gathering wanted to know how to get in touch with a medium so that he could speak with his dead relative.  Because of the teachings in the Scriptures about angels appearing to people, he had become confused.  In addition, a member had been medically dead for a very short time and he had reported that he had gone to heaven. This was my explanation to him regarding this important.  

A Brief Explanation of Angels

Part of the problem may be a misunderstanding of who angels are.  It is the popular misconception that when people die they become angels.  Even though it is commonly accepted by modern culture, this is not true.  And it is not supported anywhere in the Scriptures.

Angels are not human beings and people don’t become angels.  Angels are a separate creation by God who predate human beings.  There were angels before there were humans.  They are similar to humans in their form; but they are not humans.  They have supernatural powers that we do not have.

The Bible does not speak of angels as male or female.  They appear as large, strong males most of the time.  However, in modern and ancient cultural pictures, they are depicted as babies with wings or in a more feminine form.  In the Scriptures, angels are given what we in the Western Culture would call male names.  However, they are non-sexual because they do not reproduce.  They are spiritual heavenly beings who live forever.  In the Old Testament, Jesus is spoken of as The Angel of the Lord.

When the angel Lucifer sinned against God (He wanted to be equal with God), he was thrown from heaven and it is indicated in the Bible that Lucifer was given dominion over the earth.  It is believed that Lucifer totally destroyed the earth to such a point that God reclaimed the earth and gave dominion to Adam to “keep”  (the Hebrew word used means safeguard and protect) the earth.  When Adam sinned, the effect was that Adam gave dominion of the earth back to Satan.

When Jesus died, he took dominion over death and hell.  He reclaimed the earth for God and for man.  His resurrection sealed the defeat of Satan.  That is why Satan killed Jesus.  Satan did not understand that Jesus would pay the price for our sin and be resurrected.

When we are born, we are spiritual beings because we are part of God’s creation.  God breathed into Adam a human spirit.  After the fall, we are still part of God’s creation and spiritual beings but we are part of the Kingdom of Satan until we make a free-will choice to accept Jesus as our Savior.  Then we are children of God.

It does not matter whether we are born-again or not, attempting to speak with the dead is forbidden.

Jesus told us in the New Testament that we all have an angel that is with us at all times.  They are there to protect us.  They are not the Holy Spirit who is our guide and teacher.

These are not things that would be taught in a Sunday school class at Special Gathering.  But they are things which the Bible teaches.  Much of what we know about angels is found in the Old Testament.  When Jesus speaks of angels and the New Testament speaks of angels, it is always in the context of what we know about angels from the Old Testament.

Again, trying to speak with a dead person is forbidden.  You want to stay as far away from any hints of this kind of practice.

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jassmineGod is Patient

II Peter 3:9

Central Theme: God is patient with everyone.

Introduction– I had purchased a new jasmine vine that that I brought to show. My other vine was killed in a hurricane.  It took me a long time to replace it because I was really sad that the other one  died.  It had grown so large that it was a shelter for my back yard. Do you think a man of God should be more concerned about a dead plant than he is a city like Vero Beach  or Melbourne, Florida?  (Insert your city.)

I. Have a member read II Peter 3:9

  1. Tell the story of Jonah.
  2. Show a dead plant.
  3. Jonah wanted God to kill all the people in the city on Ninavah. But he was so angry he wanted to die rather than live because his vine had died.   (Jonah 4)

II. God is patient with everyone.

  1. He does not want anyone to have an unhappy life or die without Him.
  2.           A. There was a time that I got angry with some people who were gossiping about me.  There were actually times I wanted them to die.
  3.           B. God helped me to love them because He loves them.
  4. This is how God will help me to be patient with people, especially people who are being hateful to me.

A. God helps me remember that God loves that person as much as he loves me.
B.  God  helps me find out good things about that person.
C. God  helps me think good thoughts about the person when he or she is not with me.  I find that we usually like people when we are with them.  But we will think bad thoughts when there are not with us.

a. Many times when they are not with us, we think about what the people did or said.  Then we get angry.

Conclusion–God is patient and he can help me to be patient with other people.

Bible studyIn studying the life of Jesus, it is impossible to ignore miracles.  This quarter as we delve into the ministry of Jesus, the members of Special Gathering–a ministry within the intellectually disabled community– have asked lots of questions.  Their questions have led me to think again about miracles and how God uses them in the lives of the believer.

From my study of the Scripture, I found that miracles an interesting phenomena.  There are many misconceptions regarding miracles.  Here are a few of them.

Miracles are not magic.  Magic is not a miracle.  A miracle is when God breaks his own laws for a purpose.  Magic is an illusion or trick used to make it seem as though God’s laws have been broken.

Miracles happen instantaneously. 

A miracle is not healing.  Healings happen over a period of time.  Often people pray for healings, expecting a miracle and without understanding there is a difference.  If a healing happens instantly, then it is a miracle.  A healing may take a matter of minutes, hours or years.  Healing is a process.  Miracles are instantaneous activity from the hand of God.  This may seem like a matter of somatic.  However, it has caused a lot of people to doubt their healing because it did not happen instantly.

sunsetMost miracles involve inanimate objects. Even thought, miracles may happen within our bodies or outside our bodies.  On that rainy day when the car in front of me slammed on its brakes, I knew that there was no way our car could miss the stopping automobile.  I called out, “Jesus, help us” and slammed on my brakes.  Our car stopped instantaneously which is impossible.  My teenage son asked in wonder, “Mom, did you see what just happened?”  It was a miracle.

People don’t perform miracles.  God is the miracle-worker, not humans.  We may speak the word but the work is done by our Heavenly Father.

Miracles demonstrate God’s power and glory, not the faith of the individual. While the individual may have faith for a miracle, there is never a guarantee that God will perform a miracle.  The Lord has knowledge and understanding that is beyond our depth.  God may know that this supernatural act would harm the person and withhold the miracle.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list.  Yet, these are things which too often cause problems within the church regarding the miracle-working power of the Lord.

Chemistry Teacher with Students in Class

The value of learning is understood worldwide.  In the Western Civilization, our emphasis has always come from the Greek understanding of learning.  That is, having knowledge for its own value.  Knowledge, facts and intellectual pursuit are paramount.  It does not matter whether the information can be actually used.

The Eastern world has only valued knowledge that can be used in our daily lives.  There is little value placed on learning without application to real life.  In one of the karate films, the young man spent weeks taking his coat off of a hook and putting it back on the hook.  He felt this was a total waste of time.  However, when his karate master approached him with a surprise attack, the young student found that he automatically knew how to defend himself because the coat-removal movements had become automatic to him.  This is knowledge that can be experienced.

TransformationIn teaching our members, we strive to impart knowledge that can be practiced in their daily life.  There are three levels of knowledge:

1.  Head knowledge

2.  Knowing that you cannot facilitate the knowledge learned.

3.  Facilitating the knowledge and putting it to practice in your life.

Especially within the disability community, we must teach realizing that our members need to be able to reach the third level of knowledge.  That is why, when teaching a Bible study class, I replay the same Bible lesson several times.

However, there must also be a practical application that is connected to the Bible passage studied.  Unless a practical way of implementing the Scriptures is emphasized, it will remain head knowledge.

In addition, if this knowledge reaches only the second level, it will add to the sense of failure that our members live with on a daily basis.  Rather than elevating them into a place of transformation, this knowledge may add another level of defeat in their lives.

Head knowledge has no value in any Christian life unless it reaches the third level of knowledge–the ability to facilitate that understanding into your life.  It is especially true with a person who is intellectually delayed.

The Word of God was never meant to give us the puffed up attitude that head knowledge germinates and propagates.  It is always meant to change our hearts and thereby, change our way of living.