Archive for 2008

Freedom through Forgiveness

One of the best things you can do to have a good and happy life is to take a few minutes each night to forgive everybody of everything they did that affected you adversely during the day. When you do this, you keep yourself free from all the emotional and spiritual stress that comes from holding on to unforgiveness.

Unfortunately, when someone has offended you, forgiveness is usually the furthest thing from your mind – and the hardest thing to do. Because you feel angry, hurt and betrayed, your flesh would rather find a way to make them pay for what they have done.

While forgiveness may be far from your mind, it is never far from God’s. How could He forget that He has given you forgiveness of all your sins – past, present and future – through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ? According to Romans 6:6, Jesus broke the power of sin over our lives so we wouldn’t have to live as slaves to sin. He also forgave us so that we can forgive others.

Why Should I Forgive?
If for no other reason, you should forgive because Jesus said to. You’ve probably recited the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6 many times, but if you are like most people, you like the “forgive us our trespasses” part a lot better than the “as we forgive those who trespass against us” part. Like it or not, though, the Biblical pattern is, “Forgive and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).

You and I should also forgive because a lack of forgiveness spoils lives. Hebrews 12:14-15 tells us we should pursue peace with all people “lest a root of bitterness spring up causing trouble, and by this many become defiled.” When you don’t forgive, an ugly root begins to form inside you. As you carry the grudge, that root begins to grow and cause trouble for you, for your family and for everyone around you.

You might think that by not forgiving someone, you are getting even or causing them some of the same pain you’ve felt. Actually, the person you hurt the most is you. By refusing to forgive, you open the door for Satan to have access into your life. Depression, fear, sickness, problems with your family, and financial problems are some of the many common results of unforgiveness.

I once knew a man who had become extremely angry and refused to forgive someone who had offended him. Since the incident, a tumor had developed in his body, and he faced a serious surgery. When confronted with what God’s Word says about forgiving others, he realized that he needed to make the choice to forgive. Within an hour of praying to forgive the man who had hurt him, the tumor left his body – he was completely healed!

The effect of forgiving someone isn’t always seen that quickly, but freedom always comes when you choose to forgive.

Who Should I Forgive?
In Mark 11:25-26, Jesus said, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” This scripture covers it all. There are no other options. Anytime anyone hurts you, no matter how deep the hurt, you are to forgive.

Think about what happened to Joseph. In Genesis 37 and the chapters that follow, you can see many reasons why Joseph could have become a very bitter man. His brothers hated him and sold him as a slave. Next, his master’s wife falsely accused him of a serious crime, and he ended up in prison. Then, a government official promised to help him but instead left him in prison to rot. Regardless of all these things, Joseph didn’t allow unforgiveness and bitterness to take root in his life. He forgave everyone who did anything against him and went on to fulfill the destiny God had for him.

Understanding Forgiveness
Forgiveness is not a feeling. Like Joseph, you must make a decision to forgive by faith. If you wait until you feel like forgiving, you may never forgive anybody for anything. Also, forgiveness is not merely pushing a memory to the back of your mind; that’s denial. Offenses and hurts must be dealt with so you can be free from them and the trouble they cause.

Forgiving someone does not negate their wrongdoing, but it puts the responsibility of judgment for their actions into God’s hands. That’s what Jesus did. Despite everything that had been done to Him, 1 Peter 2:23 tells us that “…when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but He committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.”

Forgiveness is a choice. The Bible says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13 NIV). When you think about how much God has forgiven you, forgiving someone else seems much smaller!

Don’t be alarmed if your feelings don’t immediately line up with your choice to forgive. The same devil who tells you you’re no good because you haven’t forgiven someone will try to keep harassing you once you’ve chosen to forgive. Feelings are fickle, but they will stabilize as you follow through by speaking and acting out your choice to forgive.

Forgive Now
Choosing not to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. The longer you carry a grudge, the more damage it does to you. Why risk a physical or emotional breakdown when you can choose to forgive now?

No matter how long ago you were hurt, whether the ones who offended you are living or dead, choose to forgive them. Don’t let unforgiveness and bitterness remain locked up inside your soul. As you line your will up with God’s, you’ll experience the freedom that comes through forgiving.

It doesn’t have to take days or weeks or years to forgive. You can do it right now, right where you are by praying this simple prayer out loud:

Father, I choose to forgive _____________ for everything they did that hurt me. I release them to you because you are the One who judges righteously. I trust you to work in their life and to draw them to you. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Then What?
People often say, “All this sounds good, but what do I do once I’ve chosen to forgive?” Here are some helpful tips from God’s Word:

– Surrender the right to get even. “Do not avenge yourselves…vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

– Surrender your thoughts about the person “…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

– Surrender your words regarding the person. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:29-31)

– Surrender your own resentment, anger, bitterness, self-pity, etc. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Every human being has a deep, sometimes hidden, desire to be forgiven. Ernest Hemingway’s short story about the broken relationship between a Spanish father and his teenage son, Paco, highlights this desire.

Paco ran away from his home to Madrid, and his grieving father looked everywhere for him. In desperation, the father placed an ad in the Madrid newspaper that read, “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office tomorrow at noon. All is forgiven. I love you.” The next morning, 800 hopeful men named Paco were standing in front of the newspaper office!

Someone needs your forgiveness right now, but even more, as you choose to forgive and surrender yourself to your loving heavenly Father, you’ll begin to experience the freedom that comes through forgiving.

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Week 5 – Releasing Hurts and Forgiving Others

Introduction: It is impossible to go through life without experiencing hurts, wounds, and disappointments. Our responses to these often lead to bitterness and unforgiveness. As the people of God, we have been called to a higher walk. Jesus challenges us to love our enemies, even those who hate and plot evil against us. Forgiveness is never easy. However, God always gives us the ability to live according to His Word and example. In this lesson we will cover:

  • Why it is important for you to forgive others.
  • How unforgiveness works destruction in your life.
  • How to overcome unforgiveness and bitterness.
  • Positive steps to take to complete the forgiveness process.

I. Why it is important for you to forgive others

Remember, forgiveness or bitterness-it’s your choice.

A. If you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you. God requires you to forgive everyone for every offense committed.

1. “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. For you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But f you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:12, 14-15 NIV).

2. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other; just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).

3. Biblical example-Matthew 18:21-35: A servant was forgiven an enormous debt, but he in turn refused to forgive a fellow servant a small debt. As a result, his master delivered the unforgiving servant to tormentors in prison until he paid all that he owed. Jesus said, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35 NIV).

B. Jesus said to forgive people” seventy times seven,” which is another way of telling us to forgive others without counting how many times they have offended us. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22 NIV).

C. You can only serve and lead to Jesus those whom you have forgiven. Forgiveness releases the love of Jesus in your heart to others.

II. How unforgiveness works destruction in your life

A. It produces a root of bitterness in you. “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15 NIV).

B. This root of bitterness must be fed and watered by you for it to continue to grow. This occurs when you harbor resentment, rehearse hurts, and seek to justify your unforgiveness. Resentment is like a fire-it needs to be supplied with fuel to live. To maintain an attitude of resentment, you must continually feed on negative, judgmental thoughts, feelings, and desires-toward God, your fellowman, or your situation.

C. If not dealt with, bitterness will cause a breakdown, socially, mentally, and physically in your life. It has the effect of poisoning your life.

D. Unforgiveness and the resulting bitterness cause your family, friends, and those around you to be poisoned as well.

E. Holding on to hurts and past wounds causes your fellowship with God to be broken and robs you of joy, peace, and love.

F. Resentment and bitterness (the fruits of unforgiveness) act together as prison bars for your soul.

G. Unforgiveness allows Satan access into your life to build strongholds from which he can exert controlling influences in your life. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (II Corinthians 10:4 KJV).

III. How to overcome unforgiveness and bitterness

A. Repent of all unforgiveness and bitterness.

B. Confess your sin to God and, if necessary, to the person/s it has harmed.

C. Ask for their forgiveness (be specific). Be careful that you emphasize your sinful attitude and behavior. Do not use this time as an occasion to make others aware of their wrongdoings. You are the one who has been convicted by the Holy Spirit, not they.

D. Receive God’s forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 NIV).

E. Resist unforgiveness. Do not allow ill feelings to take hold of you. Deal aggressively with negative feelings and attitudes. You may need assistance from other believers or counselors to whom you can be accountable. This is an important principle concerning any chronic sinful behavior in the life of a believer.

F. Fill your mind with good thoughts. In Philippians 4:8 you are given a catalog of thoughts that you should entertain in your mind: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”

IV. Positive steps to take to complete the forgiveness process. Confess the following out loud:

A. I have been forgiven of my sins by God. Therefore, I choose to forgive others who have done me wrong.

B. I release from all personal judgment those who have wronged or hurt me.

C. I pray prayers of blessings on those who have wronged me.

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Dealing With Depression

With today’s economy Depression is on the rise. While doctors prescribe anti-depressants like candy to address the feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt, and hopelessness that accompany depression. God’s word gives us insight on how to fight depression and walk in the joy and peace of the Spirit of God.

This article looks at depression as a spiritual issue and uses the Bible as our reference book. We acknowledge that some depression is medical and should be treated with prescriptions. Most is spiritual and needs to be treated from a Biblical and spiritual perspective.

In Acts 10:38 we are told that “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”

Illness, whether physical, mental or emotional, is oppression from the devil. John 10:10 tells us, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” If something is stealing, killing or destroying your quality of life, it must come from the devil since the Bible says Jesus wants you to have abundant life.

The spirits of depression and despair are evil. God’s will for you is to experience peace and joy. The Bible tells us “by his stripes, you are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Healing – even from depression and discouragement – is available to you now. Choose to receive it!

If this is true, why are so many people still depressed?

• Lack of knowledge. Many people do not realize that God wants them healed from depression and that His Word promises freedom.

• Rejecting God. If you depart from the Lord in your heart, depression can easily move into the vacant room in your heart. That is what happened when Saul rejected God. It says in 1 Samuel 16:14 that, “…a distressing spirit…troubled him.” The Living Bible said it was a “tormenting spirit” and that it filled him with fear and depression.

• Sin. Sin opens the door for the devil to attack. In John 5:14, we’re told that after Jesus healed a man and told him to pick up his bed and walk, He said, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” In Mathew 9:2, Jesus again related healing to sins being forgiven when he healed a paralyzed man and said, “Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” Remember this: Jesus defeated Satan at the cross and the only power Satan has over you is the power you let him have.

• Unbelief. In Mathew 9:22, Jesus told a woman who had been sick 12 years, “Your faith has made you well.”

• A broken heart. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” A broken, hopeless heart is ripe for depression.

“The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.” (Ps 29:11)

Strength and peace are blessings God promises His people, but you must receive them by having faith in God’s Word. You can’t pick and choose which scriptures you are going to believe. If you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died on the cross for your salvation, then believe all of God’s word. Choose to have faith in what the Bible says more than in what doctors say, what you have experienced, or what you’ve read elsewhere.

How You Can Get Free From Depression

1. Believe that Jesus Christ is your healer.

2. Decide that you don’t want to live with depression any longer. Deciding involves yielding to a willingness to give up everything that was used to steal, kill or destroy from you in exchange for the abundant life God says is yours. Anger, bitterness, fear, anxiety and the desire for retribution must go to make room for new, healthy thoughts. Remember: what controls the mind controls the man.

3. Identify the relationships and actions (or failures to act) of people that have hurt and disappointed you or caused hopelessness to invade your life. If there have been several, take them one at a time. Be Honest and identify how their actions or failure to act influenced you.

4. Choose to Forgive those who hurt you. You don’t forgive people because they’ve apologized or because they deserve to be forgiven, you forgive because God has forgiven you. You forgive because a lack of forgiveness develops bitterness that will effectively rob your life. You forgive because a lack of forgiveness will only cause you to stay sick and stuck in the place of depression that you hate.

5. Repay Evil with Good. Praying for those who have wronged you will set you free from bitterness, anger and resentment. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus said, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” It unlocks the prison doors in your mind to help set you free.

6. Repent. If you have sinned, confess your sins to God and receive His forgiveness and cleansing. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

7. Exercise your God-given authority. In the name of Jesus, rebuke spirits of depression and despair that may be tormenting you. Command them to leave in Jesus’ Name and they must go. Fill the area that they vacated with Truth from the Word.

8. Release all these things to God and receive His healing now! “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV) Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Choose today to move towards God, and away from despair.

Staying Free

1. Don’t revisit the old places in your heart and mind where hurt has come. Demons are territorial; they live in those old places. Don’t rehash the issues that opened your heart to depression. You’ve given them to God; now leave them with God.

2. Pray constantly. God wants a close relationship with you. Don’t limit your conversations with God to a few minutes here and there or visit with Him only for an hour on Sunday in church.

3. Praise God. If you sense the spirit of depression is knocking on your door, don’t answer it! Instead, glorify and praise the name of the Lord. Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. (Isaiah 61:3) Listening to worship music will create a positive environment for God to move.

4. Spend time with other Christians who will help you stand if you become weary. Do not hang around with bitter, angry, depressed people or seek the counsel of the ungodly.

5. Renew your mind every day. Take control of your thoughts. Your focus will determine your future. God’s Word is your manual for everyday living; you need to read it every day because, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) God says you should, “keep them (His Words) in the midst of your heart for they are life and health to your flesh” Proverbs 4:20-23.

6. Guard your heart. Proverbs 4:23 cautions us to diligently keep our hearts because all the issues of life flow from them. Also, Philippians 4:8-9 tells you to guard what you think about. Think about what is true, honest, pure, just, lovely, or of good report, then it says that the God of peace will be with you.

7. Watch your words. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” You are going to eat the fruit of what comes out of your mouth, so don’t let words of darkness, death, sin or instability come out of your mouth.

8. Finally, make a concerted effort to keep your eyes off yourself. Isaiah 58:10 says, “If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

We trust that you will experience freedom from depression and despair as you apply these truths from God’s Word!

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Week 6 – Overcoming the Devil

A. God’s will for you is victory.

1. Because of Christ’s victory at Calvary over sin, death, and the devil, every believer has the right and ability to walk victoriously in life, free from guilt, condemnation, fear, bondage, and defeat (I Corinthians 15:57). God always leads you to triumph in Christ. (II Corinthians 2:14), and He never leads you to defeat.

2. According to II Peter 1:3, God has given you everything you need for life and godliness. Before you were saved, the devil was your master, controlling your life (Galatians 4:8). Now that you have been “born again,” Jesus gives you whatever you need to face life and live godly.

B. You can overcome the devil.

1. As a believer you can now resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7). Believers in the Bible overcame Satan, and so can you (Revelation 12:11). God will crush Satan’s power under your feet (Romans 16:19-20).

2. The Bible says in I John 4:4 that He that is in you (Jesus) is greater than he that is in the world (the devil). This should give you confidence to face life’s difficulties, knowing God is on your side.

C. You must know the devices, or tricks, of the enemy.

1. To wage spiritual warfare effectively you must know the tactics of your enemy. It is essential that you become aware of his schemes (Ephesians 6:11), not just the fact that he exists.

2. You will find that Satan assumes three basic roles in his attacks and uses three basic weapons with which he hopes to defeat you:

  • As the tempter he entices with temptation
  • As the accuser he seeks to bring condemnation
  • As the destroyer he attacks with destruction

I. How to be victorious over temptation

In Matthew 4:3 and I Thessalonians 3:5, the Bible calls the devil the tempter. Satan has no power to make you do anything. He cannot force you to sin or to give up your faith. However, he does have a “bag of tricks” that he uses to get you to act independently of God and to go against His will. The strongest weapon that Satan has is temptation.

A. How temptation works

From James 1:12-15 we learn how temptation works.

1. The devil looks for an area of your life where you are weak.

2. He then entices you in that area. Temptation is not sin-only yielding to it is.

3. If you give in to the temptation, sin is conceived.

4. After sin gets a “hook” in you, it becomes stronger and stronger (if you do not repent) until it controls you and finally destroys you.

B. Three areas where believers are tempted (I John 2:16).

1. The lust of the flesh -This area deals with the appetites of the flesh and includes such sins as sexual immorality, gluttony, drunkenness, drug abuse, and laziness.

2. The lust of the eyes -This area has to do with man’s relationship to money and possessions. It includes such sins as greed, covetousness, stealing, and lying.

3. The pride of life-This area involves putting self at the center of all things and relationships. It includes such sins as pride, vanity, strife, anger, envy, idolatry, and murder.

C. How to successfully overcome temptation:

1. Use a balanced approach to spiritual warfare by daily putting on the whole armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

2. Build yourself up spiritually through prayer, and Bible study. The importance of this cannot be overestimated!

3. Stay away from evil influences (I Corinthians 15:33; I Timothy 6:11; II Timothy 2:22; I John 2:15). This may mean changing friends, entertainment, jobs, or anything else that could pull you back into the world and your old way of life.

4. Use the Word as a sword against temptation and the devil’s lies (Ephesians 6:17; Matthew 4:1-11).

5. Repent of all known sin in your life, especially unforgiveness, bitterness, rebellion, or occult involvement, as these left alone can allow access to Satan to build strongholds in your life.

6. Be sure to stay in close fellowship with other believers through your local church (Hebrews 10:25).

7. Stand on the promise of God that He will not allow Satan to tempt you beyond what you can handle but will give you a way of escape (I Corinthians 10:13).

8. After you have submitted yourself to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

II. How to overcome the accuser’s condemnation

In Revelation 12:10-11, Satan is referred to as “the accuser of our brothers.” One very effective weapon of the devil is to keep believers looking inwardly at their own shortcomings and failures instead of upwardly to the mercy and help from their Heavenly Father (Hebrews 4:16). This serves to divert them from the work of God they are called to do. It is similar to trying to drive with your eyes always fixed on the rear-view mirror instead of on the road ahead.

A. Satan wants you to quit.

The devil does all he can through accusations and condemnation to get you to give up and quit spiritually. If he can convince you that you are not changed, that God does not love you, or that you will never get victory, then what usually results is discouragement, depression, and dejection, all of which can lead to spiritual shipwreck.

B. Three areas of protection-Revelation 12:11 tells how the accuser of the brethren was overcome by believers.

1. The Blood ­ – “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb.” When the devil accuses you of past failures, inadequacies, shortcomings, and sins, you are to point him to the blood of Jesus. The Bible says in I John 1:7, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Your sins are gone because Christ took them away; therefore, the devil has no case against you before God.

2. The spoken Word -“They overcame him by… the Word of their testimony.” This simply means that you are to speak (or testify) what the Word says about you and your sins. When the devil attacks you with condemnation, speak the Word to the thoughts and accusations coming against you.

3. Absolute surrender to the Lord -“They overcame him… and they loved not their lives unto the death.” They were so sold out to the Lord that not even death could make them turn back. When your commitment to God is sure, the devil’s darts of accusation fall harmlessly off without hurting you.

III. How to turn back the enemy’s destruction

Satan is called the “destroyer” in I Corinthians 5:5 and I Corinthians 10:10. From I Peter 5:8, we learn the devil is like a “roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour.” John 10:10 speaks of the enemy as the one who comes “to steal, to kill, and to destroy.” From these passages and others, you can know that Satan is intent upon bringing devastation and ruin to God’s people.

A. Satan’s major areas of destruction

1. Physical sickness

2. Bondage-especially to alcohol, drugs, or sexual sins

3. Mental and emotional attacks

4. Financial problems

5. Family problems

6. Storms

B. Scriptural ways to resist the devil

1. Stand on God’s promises. Find out what God’s promises are regarding your particular area of need, and claim them for your own life. For example, if the devil is hitting you with sickness, study what the Bible says about healing and believe that for your life.

2. Speak the Word. Speak God’s Word to the need and to Satan when he attacks. This is what Jesus did when He was tempted by the devil in Matthew 4.

3. Obey God. Make sure you are walking in obedience to the known will of God. In the book of Malachi, the people of God were seeing their finances devoured, and they did not understand why. God told them it was because they were not paying their tithes. In Malachi 3:10-11, He said that He would rebuke the devourer if they would obey Him.

4. Bind and loose. Bind the devil in the name of Jesus and loose the blessings of God from Satan’s grasp (Matthew 12:28-29; 16:19). You act as God’s delegated authority in this, and it allows you to enforce the victory that Christ has already won for you over the devil and his power (Luke 10:19).

5. Walk in faith. Without faith it is impossible for you to please God or to defeat the devil. Faith is a shield that is able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one (Ephesians 6:16; I John 5:4).

6. Stand. Finally, stand your ground, and don’t give up. “Stand against the schemes of the devil …, and having done all … stand” (Ephesians 6:11-13). There is no room for cowardice in God’s army. If you are afraid of the enemy and try to run from him, he will devour you, but if you stand against him using your weapons of spiritual warfare, he will flee from you.

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Week 7 – Walking in Faith

Introduction: Faith is the key that releases the blessings of God into your life. Without faith, you will find it impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) With faith, the impossible becomes possible.

“With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

“All things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)

Faith is the channel that makes God’s possibilities available to you. By faith, believers have received financial blessings, been spared from judgment, received strength to endure persecution and hardship, escaped from danger, became mighty in battle, received back their dead by resurrection, and obtained approval from God (Hebrews 11). In this lesson, you will:

§ Discover what faith is according to the Bible.

§ Learn how to release your faith.

§ Find out how to keep your faith strong until the answer comes.

I. What is faith?

A. Faith is a substance and a conviction.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

1. Faith is so real it is actually called a “substance.” The Greek word literally means “that which stands under” something else or “provides the basis for” something else. It is the foundation on which you stand and on which you build your life.

2. Faith is also “the conviction or evidence of things not seen.” Faith deals with things you cannot see-things that are invisible.

“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3)

3. There is a difference shown here between the visible and the invisible worlds. Your senses relate to that which is seen, but faith takes you behind the visible to the invisible. This is where faith works.

For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (II Corinthians 5:7)

4. Faith and sight are opposed to one another. If you walk by sight, you do not need faith. If you walk by faith, you do not need sight. This is contrary to our natural way of thinking. The world says, “Seeing is believing.” The Bible turns it around and says believing enables you to really see! David wrote the following:

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

5. The same Greek word translated as “conviction” in Hebrews 11:1 was also translated “title deed” in some ancient secular documents written during the time of the New Testament. Faith then is like a title deed to property. It is not the property, but it is proof of ownership.

B. There is a difference between faith and hope.

“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you.” (Mark 11:24)

1. Faith receives now while hope looks to the future. Faith is a substance, something that is already here. Hope is an expectation of something to come.

2. If someone says, “I believe God will heal me” what they really mean is “I hope He’ll heal me tomorrow.” That is not faith because faith is not for tomorrow; faith is something that you have now. If you keep directing your expectation toward the future, you are substituting hope for faith.

3. When does Jesus tell you to receive what you pray for? Is it at some undetermined point in the future? No-but at the very moment that you pray. You “ask” and at the same moment you “receive” even though the manifestation of the answer to your prayer may yet be in the future.

C. Doubt corrodes your faith and causes it to diminish.

“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7 NIV)

1. Doubt is like water in a gas tank-it does not mix with the gas and it clogs up the carburetor, causing the engine to miss and malfunction. Doubt and faith do not mix together, and the doubt works to prevent the faith from acting.

2. You must guard your heart from everything that could weaken or undermine your faith.

“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it flow the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 NJV)

II. How to release your faith

A. In Mark 11:22-25, Jesus gave eight important elements in building and releasing your faith.

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:22-25 NIV)

1. “Have faith in God”-Make God the source of your faith.

2. “Anyone”-God will answer your prayers if you will meet the conditions of faith.

3. “Says” and “does not doubt”-You must speak to your mountain of need before it will move.

4. This mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ You are to be specific in your requests.

5. “And does not doubt in his heart“-Give no place for doubt in your heart.

6. “Whatever you ask for in prayer“-Put no limitations on God’s ability to answer your requests.

7. “Believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”-Believe that you receive now, and you shall have what you believe.

8. “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him.”-Guard against unforgiveness (or any other faith robber).

B. Other helps to releasing your faith.

1. Find the will of God, and pray it for your life.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him.” ( I John 5:14-15 NIV).

2. Believe in your heart

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10 NIV)

“And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may… .” (Acts 8:37 NKJ)

3. Keep a good confession regarding your faith.

a) When the woman whose child died went to the prophet for help, she was asked by the servant how her son was doing. By faith she confessed that it was well with her child.

“Run to meet her and ask her, ‘Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?’ ‘Everything is all right,’ she said.” (II Kings 4:26 NIV)

4. Prepare for the answer to your prayers. The widow who needed money was told by the prophet Elisha to get empty pots and to pour the oil she had into each vessel. God filled the number of pots she brought to be filled.

“When all the jars were full, she said to her son, ‘Bring me another.’ “But he replied, ‘There is not a jar left.’ Then the oil stopped flowing.” (II Kings 4:6 NIV)

5. Faith comes! “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 NIV) A single word in this verse needs to grip your heart. The word is “comes.” If you do not have faith, you can get it. By planting the Word of God deep within your heart, your faith will automatically become active and vibrant.

6. Follow the directions! When a doctor gives a person medicine, the directions for taking it are on the bottle. The Word of God is like a medicine bottle; we need to carefully read the directions that are included.

“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight,’ keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health (medicine) to all their whole body.” (Proverbs 4:20-22 NASB)

7. Bind the devil and loose your blessing from his grasp in the name of Jesus.

“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19 NIV)

III. How to keep your faith strong until the answer comes.

A. Keep the promises of God before you as Abraham did.

“Being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:21 NIV)

B. Do not stagger in unbelief, going from side to side, but stay focused on what God has said.

“Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.” (Romans 4:20 NIV)

C. Find another believer who will stand with you in agreement in prayer.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20 NIV)

D. Be persistent in prayer, never giving up.

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1 NIV)

E. Be bold at the throne of grace, obtaining mercy and grace in your time of need.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)

F. Pray and fast to strengthen your faith.

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Week 8 – Walking in God’s Provision

Introduction: How we handle our finances is often a reflection of our relationship to God and our commitment to Him. It is also a means that God uses to witness to others of His faithfulness and love to us as we follow and obey His principles. On the other hand, the devil is sometimes able to bring despair, fear, guilt, and division through attacks on our finances. Some have even wandered from their faith because of a wrong approach to money. In this class we want you to:

§ Believe that God wants to bless you financially.

§ Root out wrong attitudes you may have about money.

§ Establish godly attitudes about money.

§ Apply God’s laws of financial success to your life.

I. Believe that God wants to bless you financially.

A. You are to be spiritually and financially prosperous. “Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers” (III John 1:2 KJV).

B. Let God be your source, and be in right relationship with Him so His blessings can flow down to you. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters “(Psalm 23:1-2 NIV). (Read also, Psalm 37:4, 25; I Chronicles 29:11-12.)

C. God’s blessings under the Old Covenant and the New Covenant include prosperity.

1. OLD-“If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all His commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God. The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity-in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock, and the crops of your ground-in the land He swore to your forefathers to give you” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 11 NIV).

2. NEW-“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NIV).

D. God wants you to be successful. “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8 NIV). (Read also, Philippians 4:13; Luke 11:11-13)

E. Money is not the root of all evil-the love of it is. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10 NIV).

F. You are called to surrender your rights to everything, but this does not mean that you are to be poor and penniless. You move from being an owner to being a steward (one who takes care of the resources of another). With this perspective, God can then “richly provide us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

II. Root out wrong attitudes you may have about money.

A. Acquiring wealth is the most important thing in life. “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26 NIV).

B. Abundance is more valuable than love, godly character, or a good name. “Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil. Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred” (Proverbs 15:16-17 NIV). “Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice” (Proverbs 16:8 NIV). “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1 NIV).

C. You are guaranteed you will be able to keep your material possessions and live to enjoy what you have acquired. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20 NIV). “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-2 1 NIV).

D. Wealth and abundance are more valuable than your faith. “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (Philippians 3:7-9 NIV).

E. The quality and value of life are determined by the amount of money you have. “Then He said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15 NIV).

F. You should not have children because they cost too much. “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one‘s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:3-5 NIV).

G. It does not matter how you get money as long as you have it. “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Proverbs 13:11 NIV).

H. You can earn all the money you want without anyone’s help, even God’s. “But remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today” (Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV).

III. Establish godly attitudes about money.

A. Everything belongs to God, and you are to be a good steward of what God gives to you. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1 NIV). “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV).

B. You are not to love money or what it can bring you, as this can cause you to lose your faith. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (I Timothy 6:10 NIV).

C. God expects you to be honest in all of your financial dealings. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.” (Romans 12:17 NIV).

D. Wisdom and understanding are more valuable than silver or gold. “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!” (Proverbs 16:16 NIV). You should not be proud about how much money you have, but instead, you should glory in knowing the Lord. “This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, Who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:23-24 NIV).

E. Godliness and contentment are to be very valuable to you. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (I Timothy 6:6-8 NIV).

F. Good works are to be more important to you than great riches (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

G. The greatest wealth you have is the riches that are in Christ (Ephesians 3:8).

H. Use your money, wealth, and position to influence and bless others (Proverbs 19:4-6, 17; 22:9; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15).

I. Avoid envy, coveting, and greed (Colossians 3:5, Exodus 20:17, Proverbs 15:27).

IV. Apply God’s laws of financial success to your life.

A. Get your priorities right: Put God’s kingdom first in your life, and your other needs will be met (Matthew 6:25-34, *verse 33).

B. Tithe: If you give the tithe, or 1/10 of your income, to God through the local church where you are committed and submitted, God will bless you financially. If you refuse to give the tithe, you are robbing God, and your finances are cursed (Malachi 3:8-10).

C. Use what you have: If you use what is given to you, you will gain more. If you fail to use what is given to you, you will lose even what you think you have (Matthew 25:14-30).

D. Give generously: According to the portion you give, it will be given to you (2 Corinthians 9:6, Luke 6:38).

E. Treat people fairly: However you want others to treat you, treat them in the same way (Matthew 7:12).

F. Be diligent: If you keep going and persevere, you will eventually overcome problems, obstacles, pain, or difficulties (Matthew 7:7-8, Galatians 6:9).

G. Plant what you want to have in your life: For whatever good crop you want to come up in your life, you must first plant the right seed (Galatians 6:7).

H. Walk and talk faith: You can move mountains by the power of God through faith and a right confession (Mark 11:22-24).

I. Walk in unity: Division destroys, but unity brings success (Luke 11:17, John 17:20-23, Matthew 18:19).

J. Develop a financial plan and budget: To bring discipline to your spending and saving habits, develop a written plan (with your spouse, if you are married) for your financial goals and a monthly budget plan to achieve them. These goals and budgets should be both scriptural and workable (example of Joseph: Genesis 41:33-37).

K. Don’t spend what you don’t have: “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:12 NIV).

L. Avoid the debt trap: “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7 NIV).

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Week 9 – Growing in Christ by Reading the Word

Introduction: Part of God’s plan for you is that you become like Jesus. A key ingredient in your transformation into Jesus’ likeness is the Word of God. In this lesson, our aim is to:* Focus on God’s goal for you to be like Jesus.

* Submit to the Word of God that transforms you.

* Apply the Word of God.

I. Focus on God’s goal for you-to be made into the likeness of Jesus.

A. Recognize God’s plan.

1. Part of God’s plan of salvation for us is to shape us into people who have the character and nature of Jesus.

“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). Paul told the Galatians he was travailing “until Christ be formed in them. (Galatians 4:19)

2. We are changed into Jesus’ image by looking at Him. “But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (II Corinthians 3:18)

James informs us that when we look into the “perfect law of liberty” and continue in it, we will be blessed. (James 1:25)

3. As we change, we are putting off the “old self’ and putting on the “new self.” To do this, we must “let the word of Christ dwell in richly.” (Colossians 3:16)

B. Make your plan.

1. Find a place and time when you can read the Word.

a) Consistent time and place help to make this “habit forming.”

b) Both early and evening times have advantages.

2. Develop a reading schedule.

a) Use the One-Year Bible.

b) Work out a balanced strategy for your reading.

II. Submit to the Word of God that transforms you.

A. Submit to God’s Word that purifies you.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)

  • Pure-free from mixture or contact with that which weakens, impairs, or pollutes; containing no foreign matter, uncontaminated; free from moral defilement.

1. Submit to God’s Word that purifies you from sin.

a) By knowing the Word, I know how to please God and keep from sinning.

“You word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11)

b) By knowing the Word, I know how to be forgiven of sin if I fall. (I John 2:1, 2)

2. Submit to God’s Word that keeps you pure in purpose.

a) Scripture warns us against “double-mindedness.” (James 1:8; 4:8; Ephesians 4:14).

b) Scripture helps to give us singleness of heart. “Seek first the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 6:33, Psalm 119:9, 105, 133).

B. Submit to God’s Word that renews your mind.

1. The Bible says that our minds need to be renewed.

a) This is the key to transformation.

I urge you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God, which is your spiritual service of worship, and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1, 2).

We can bring “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:5).

b) Our minds need to be re-formed to know how we ought to think.

“Have this mind in you…” (Philippians 2:5)

“Whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute… think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8).

2. Right thinking leads to right behavior.

  • Our behavior will conform to Jesus’ image as our thinking aligns with the Word of God.

C. Submit to God’s Word that equips you for spiritual warfare.

1. The Word is called the “Sword of the Spirit.” (Ephesians 6:17)

2. Jesus modeled spiritual warfare using the Word. “It is written…” (Matthew 4:4, 7 &10)

D. Submit to God’s Word that equips you to do good works.

1. Through the Word’s teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, we are equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3:16, 17) Our lives can become a miniature picture of the kingdom of God.

2. Much of the New Testament is practical “how to” instruction.

III. Apply the Word.

A. Ask God to meet you in Scripture.

1. Believe that God will speak to you through the Scripture.

2. Ask the Lord to be your interpreter (help you understand what you read).

B. Read with a repentant spirit.

1. Determine to do what the Scripture asks you to do.

2. Don’t read just for information, but for trans-formation.

C. Meditate on a brief passage.

1. Saturate yourself in a few verses.

2. Read the passage slowly.

D. Take one thought or verse with you through the day.

1. The fruitful person meditates day and night. (Psalm 1)

2. What the mind repeats, it retains.

3. Memorizing Scripture is a powerful means of trans-forming our minds.

4. The Word of God is like water poured into a basket, not all of the water is “caught” but the basket is cleaned.

E. Be a doer of the Word, not a hearer only! (James 1:22-23)

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Week 10 – Knowing What We Believe

Introduction: In his letter to the church, Peter instructs us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV) Knowing basic Christian doctrines is important for the Christian who wants to share the Gospel with others, for the believer who wants to grow in Christ-likeness, and for all who wage spiritual warfare against the devil, who will always try to make you doubt the truth. This lesson is a brief summary of the most important doctrines of the Christian faith. Each section will tell how the doctrine benefits the believer.

I. We believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God.“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (II Timothy 3:16 KJV)

A. The word Bible means “book“. It is a collection of 66 books written over a period of 1500 years by 38 different human authors.

B. The true author, however, is God, for the entire Bible is divinely inspired and without error in the original manuscripts.

C. The Bible is the revelation of God to man and the final authority for the Church and the believer in all matters of doctrine and daily living.

Benefit: The Bible is not merely a textbook for Christian doctrine. It is a guidebook for life-a handbook for Christian living. The Bible is proved true by the fact that when you put it into practice, it works: promises are fulfilled when you meet the conditions, prayers are answered, lives are changed, the sick are healed, etc.

II. We believe that God is infinitely perfect and eternally existent in three persons-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

A. What is God like?

1. The Bible describes many attributes, or qualities that belong to God. Some of them include:

a) God is creator. (Genesis 1:1)

b) God is omnipotent, or all-powerful. (Matthew 19:26)

c) God is omnipresent, or everywhere. (Jeremiah 23:24)

d) God is omniscient, or all-knowing. (I John 3:20)

e) God is eternal. (Psalm 90:2)

2. What is true of God the Father is also true of Jesus and the, Holy Spirit: they also possess the divine attributes. (Colossians 1:15-20; Acts 5:1-5)

B. Jesus Christ, the Son of God

Ten Important Facts about Jesus Christ:

1. As the eternal Son of God, Jesus was involved in creating the heavens and the earth. (John 1:1)

2. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary’s womb. (Luke 1:26-35)

3. While on the earth, He was both true God and true man. (John 1:1-14)

4. He lived a sinless life. (Hebrews 4:15)

5. He possessed tremendous miraculous power. (Hebrews 1:3)

6. He was crucified on the cross where He died as a sacrifice for the sins of all men. (John 19:16-33)

7. God raised Him from the dead on the third day. (John 20:1-9)

8. For forty days after His resurrection, over 500 people saw Him. (1 Corinthians 15:5-7)

9. He ascended to heaven right in front of the disciples’ eyes. (Acts 1:9)

10. He is today at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for believers. (Romans 8:34)

C. The Person of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:2 “The Holy Spirit said …,“)

1. The Holy Spirit’s present ministry is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. He accomplishes this by indwelling, guiding, instructing, and empowering the believer for godly living and service.

Benefit: In the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you, as a believer, can know that you are serving the one true God of the universe. God loves you enough that He sent His Son Jesus to die for your sins. Then, He makes you a new creation in Him and empowers you to live a Christ like life through the power of the Holy Spirit.

III. We believe that Satan and his demons are mankind’s enemy.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)

A. Satan, or the devil, is a fallen angel (Luke 10:18, 19), a created being, who was cast out of heaven because of pride and rebellion (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28).

B. Demons are also fallen spirits, or angels, who work under Satan to undermine God’s kingdom. The devil and his demons come to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).

C. Hell was created for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41), and their eternal destiny is sealed. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and He gave believers authority over the power of Satan. (I John 3:8, Luke 10:19)

“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:18, 19 NIV)

Benefit: By knowing that there is a very real adversary, the devil and his demons, you become more alert in your day-to-day activities to his subtle schemes and temptations that would try to divert your focus from who the real enemy is.

IV. We believe we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9 KJV)

A. Because of man’s fallen, sinful condition, and because the consequences of sin are so very serious, salvation is necessary. God has graciously made salvation possible for all by sending his Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. All God requires of us is that we repent and believe the Gospel (good news).

1. Repentance-is turning away from sin and turning to God. Repentance is necessary for men to receive forgiveness of sins. (Acts 2:37-38)

2. “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 3:19 KJV)

B. Salvation and the New Birth-Man is saved by grace, God’s unmerited favor, through faith in Jesus Christ and His blood.

1. Salvation is a gift of God and cannot be earned by human efforts. A person must be “born again” by the Spirit of God. In this new birth, Jesus comes to live inside the new believer. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

2. “…Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ‘Ye must be born again.” (John 3:3, 7 KJV)

C. Living holy (sanctification)

1. In one respect, we were sanctified the moment we put our trust in God. This instantaneous work places us as sons and daughters of God.

2. Sanctification is also progressive. This means that even though we are holy in God’s sight and do not receive any condemnation from Him, we are to progressively become holy in our daily conduct. The Christian life is a life of putting off the old self and putting on the new self. (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV)

Benefit: You are saved from eternal separation from God. While living on this earth YOU CAN live a holy and sanctified life as you daily put off the old man and put on the new. You are a new creation!

V. We believe that healing of the sick is a sign that follows believers.

“And these signs shall follow those who believe: In My Name.., they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:17, 18 KJV)

A. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus healed the sick while on the earth (Acts 10:3 8), and He paid the price for the healing of your body through His death.

“Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness. by Whose stripes ye were healed.” (I Peter 2:24 KJV)

Benefit: The most obvious benefit of divine healing is that YOU CAN be healed!

VI. We believe that believers are to be water-baptized by immersion.

“Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38 KJV)

A. After you are saved, you should be baptized in water.

1. Water baptism is a picture, or symbol, of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. (Romans 6:3-5)

2. When you are baptized, you are showing your identification and union with Christ. You are dead to sin and must, therefore, be buried in baptism. As you come up out of the water, you come up, so to speak, out of the grave, raised from the dead (old life) to walk in newness of life.

B. Water baptism is an opportunity to publicly confess that Jesus is your Lord.

Benefit: Other than the fact that water baptism is a command of our Lord Jesus Christ, the act of being water-baptized causes you to remember that your body is dead to sin and that you don’t have to give in to the temptations of the flesh.

VII. We believe in the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.

“For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit..” (Acts1:5 NIV)

A. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is a separate experience from salvation in which the believer is endued with power from on high for godly living and service. Speaking in tongues (an unknown tongue) was the normative accompanying manifestation to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and believers filled with the Holy Spirit should expect its accompaniment.

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: …they will speak in new tongues;…” (Mark 16:17 NIV)

B. How do you receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

1. You must be born again. (Acts 2:38, 39)

2. You must recognize that the Holy Spirit is given as a gift. (Luke 11:13, Acts 10:45)

3. You must desire and ask for this gift. (Acts 19:2, 6; Luke 11:9-13)

4. You must receive the Holy Spirit, in faith. (Acts 2:38, 8:15-19, 10:47, 19:2)

Benefit: There are many benefits of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the most outstanding benefit is that He gives you a special language in which you can pray and make intercession directly to God, even when you don’t know how to pray. (Romans 8:26)

VIII. We believe in the Church (local and universal).

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14 NIV)

A. The Church, or the Body of Christ, is a spiritual organism, with Christ as the head. (Ephesians 5:23) It consists of all true born-again believers everywhere. The only way to enter into the Body of Christ is by being born again (the new birth).

B. The LOCAL CHURCH is a part of the UNIVERSAL CHURCH. The Bible says that all believers are to be a part of a local church. (Hebrews 10:25)

Benefit: By being part of a local church, you are submitting yourself to spiritual authority (a spiritual covering). You are protecting yourself from false doctrine, seducing spirits, and deception. You are strengthened and encouraged by the other members of the Body of Christ.

IX. We believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

“To the one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12: 8-10 NIV)

A. The gifts of the Spirit are supernatural manifestations given (as gifts) by the Spirit of God to the Spirit-filled believer.

B. Spiritual gifts are given to equip the Church to carry out its ministry until Christ returns. (Ephesians 4:12) They are given for the edifying and strengthening of the Church, which is the believers. (I Corinthians 14:5)

Benefit: Spiritual gifts enable you to be used by the Holy Spirit to encourage and help other believers grow to maturity. They bring unity to the Body of Christ and allow you to taste of the fuller working of the Holy Spirit that will be yours in the age to come.

X. We believe in observing the Lord’s Supper.

“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (I Corinthians 11:26 NIV).

A. As a memorial, or a reminder of His death, the Lord Jesus ordained the Lord’s Supper (Communion Service).

B. When you participate in the Lord’s Supper:

1. You come into the presence of Christ and remember that He died for you.

2. You affirm that your sins could be taken away only by the broken body and shed blood of Jesus. You also affirm that you need Him and trust Him to forgive your sins and give life and health back to your soul.

3. You receive the spiritual nourishment and refreshment that Christ is giving to your soul. He loves you and has invited you to this Supper!

4. You are united with all other believers who participate in this Supper.

Benefit: As you partake of the Bread and the Cup, you remember that the Lord died for you on the cross; you are reminded of your desperate need for Him; and you can experience thanksgiving and joy in the celebration of this Supper of the Lord.

XI. We believe in the rapture, the Second Coming of Jesus, and the Resurrection of the Dead.

A. The Rapture:

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 NIV).

1. Believers should be ready for the imminent return of Jesus, for we do not know the day or the hour of His return.

2. At that moment, the believers in the grave will be resurrected, and those who are still alive will be caught up to the Lord Jesus in the air. Then, Jesus will personally escort them to heaven.

B. The Second Coming of Jesus:

“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11 NIV)

1. Jesus will come back to the earth a second time to set up His kingdom. This will take place at the end of a seven year period of turmoil on the earth called the Tribulation. (Daniel 12:1; Revelation 6, 8-9, 16)

2. Jesus will return to the earth with His saints (I Thessalonians 3:13) to overthrow the Antichrist and his forces, to cast the devil into a bottomless pit, and to set up His earthly kingdom (Revelation 19).

C. The Resurrection of the Dead:

“And l saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.” (Revelation 20:12 NIV)

1. Just as Jesus was resurrected, all believers will be bodily resurrected to everlasting joy with the Lord.

2. The unbeliever will be resurrected to judgment and everlasting, conscious punishment.

Benefit: Because of God’s great love for you, you know that in life and in death you belong to God. Whether or not you live to see Christ’s return, you have confidence that God has prepared a new glorified body for you in the resurrection and that you will share eternity with Him.

XII. We believe that heaven and hell are literal eternal places.

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away…” (Revelation 2 1:1 KJV)

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever … If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:10, 15 NIV)

A. Heaven and hell are literal places reserved for people to live in after death and judgment.

1. Heaven will be the glorious home for all true believers in Jesus.

2. Hell will be the prison where the wicked will be locked up in torment and darkness forever-fully conscious, without any way of escape.

Benefit: Because you know there is going to be a resurrection of the dead, a catching away of believers, and a literal heaven and hell, you want to live a holy, Christ-like life here on earth. You want to always be ready for His return!

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Membership at LifeWay


Explore Participating Membership at LifeWay Community Church

“…You are a member of God’s very own family…
and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.”
Ephesians 2:19

Perhaps you’ve been attending LifeWay for a while and you are interested in learning what it means to be a Participating Member at LifeWay Community Church.

LifeWay membership is a class where you will join others who want to further their spiritual journey by understanding God’s desire for you to belong to a church family. You will also learn why LifeWay C.C. exists, the uniqueness of our church, our vision for ministry as well as ways to belong.

At the conclusion of this class, you will have opportunity to apply for Participating Membership.

Our next membership class will be conducted in November.

If you’d like to be contacted about the next class, please email Pastor Eli at the attached link

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Week 11 – Laying the Foundation for a Victorious Christian Life

Introduction: Before you can really grow in the Lord and live a victorious Christian life, you must be absolutely persuaded that you cannot make yourself holy and good in your own strength or by your willpower. Seeing yourself as weak and hopeless in Adam, you are then ready to receive Christ Jesus as your Savior from sin and as the giver of abundant life. Truly, without Him you can do nothing (John 15:5). In this class you will want to identify three areas:

  • Recognize you are hopeless to save yourself because you are born a child of Adam.
  • Receive God’s gift of the full payment for your sins.
  • Start living your life as a new creation in Christ in union with Him.

I. Recognize and understand the curse you are under by being a descendant of Adam. (Romans 5:12)

A. The fall of man in the Garden of Eden brought a curse of sin, sorrow, disease, strife, and death to the world and to you.

1. Adam and Eve were created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

2. The devil deceived Adam and Eve and tricked them into surrendering their blessings through disobeying God.

3. The story of the temptation and fall of man in Genesis 3:1-7 illustrates the same pattern that Satan uses on people today to get them to disobey God and “do their own thing.”

4. During Christ’s temptation as recorded in the New Testament, the devil claimed all the kingdoms of the world had been given to him. “The devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to Him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to‘ ” (Luke 4:5-6 NIV).

B. There are eight results of the Fall of Adam and Eve which affect your life.

1. Everyone stands guilty of sin before a holy God as a result of being in Adam. “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners ” (Romans 5:19 NIV).

NOTE: You do not have to do anything to receive the effects of the curse of Adam’s sin in your life-it comes with being a part of the human race. (Psalm 51:5)

2. The Fall resulted in spiritual death. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 NIV).

3. The Fall caused man to hide from God. “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8 NIV).

4. The Fall brought fear. “He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and l was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Genesis 3:10 NIV).

5. Man began blaming others for his sins and shortcomings. “The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me-she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it‘” (Genesis 3:12 NIV).

6. The ground became cursed. “To Adam He said. . . . ‘Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:17 NIV).

7. Man’s mind became perverted and wicked. “The LORD saw how great man wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5 NIV).

8. Man, without Christ, lives in darkness, without hope, and under the power of the devil. “The whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19 NIV). “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ . . . without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12 NIV).

II. Receive God’s gift of the full payment for your sins.

A. Jesus is the payment for sins-He came to pay the price to bring you back to God. “We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:11 NIV).

1. On the great Day of Atonement as found in Leviticus 16, we see in the illustration of the two goats an Old Testament picture of what Jesus did with our sins.

2. Goat one-the sin offering. The blood of one goat was brought into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled over the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant to cover sin. This was to point to the time when Jesus would shed His blood and bring it before God in heaven to satisfy God’s holy anger against sin and to pay the price of justice so that forgiven sinners could freely enter the presence of the holy God (Romans 3:25 NIV).

3. Goat two-the “scapegoat.” The high priest would lay hands on the goat and confess the sins of the people over the goat. Then, he would let it go in the wilderness, where no one lived and where no one could see. This shows that when Jesus removes our sins from us, they will never be remembered again. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12 NIV).

B. These are the steps to salvation:

1. Admit you are a sinner in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23).

2. Repent and turn to God (II Peter 3:9).

3. Believe that Jesus died for your sins and that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9-10).

4. Ask God to forgive you and invite Jesus Christ into your heart (I John 1:9; Revelation 3:20).

5. Confess Jesus as your Lord (Romans 10:9-10).

6. Receive salvation as a free gift and not as a reward for good works (Romans 6:23).

7. Because you are saved, be water baptized. (Matthew 28:19).

III. Start living your life as a new creation in Christ in union with Him.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

A. Believe you have God’s new life within you. Not only have you had your sins forgiven, but also Christ has come to live inside you at the new birth and to give you His life within. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NIV).

B. Live with a new purpose -to be God’s worker.For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).

C. Rejoice in your new destiny. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NIV).

D. Accept your new family.For this reason I kneel before the Father from Whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (Ephesians 3:14-15 NIV).

E. Receive your new inheritance. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18 NIV).

We Inherit:

1. Wisdom (James 1:5 NIV)

2. Clear conscience (Hebrews 9:14 NIV)

3. Divine healing (1 Peter 2:24 NIV)

4. Victory over the enemy (I John 5:4 NIV)

5. Victory over circumstances (Romans 8:37-39 NIV)

6. Victory over the flesh (Galatians 5:16 NIV)

7. The Spirit of life (Romans 8:2 NIV)

8. God’s provision for your needs (Philippians 4:19 NIV)

9. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

10. Success (Joshua 1:7 NIV)

11. Answers to prayer (John 15:7 NIV)

12. Fellowship with God and with each other (1 John 1:3 NIV)

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