Hosea Teaching Notes

Students ask me to send them study notes all the time. Here is all my teaching through the exciting book of Hosea. These notes are designed to help you study with your Bible open, verse by verse. Let me know if anything is unclear!

Understanding God: What Happens When We Keep Willfully Sinning?

The book of Hosea was originally given as a series of prophecies between 755 and 722 BCE (during the waning years of the Northern Kingdom before their deportation to Assyria). The prophecies were given by God to His followers through the ages understand His heart in times of discipline and estrangement from Him – to fully grasp what is GOOD and RIGHT about God in the difficult times of our walk with Him (Hosea 14:9). Hosea walked with God for more than 50 years when that bucked the trend around him! Further, the book offers a graphic picture of four characteristics of God:

Israel’s Sin Illustrated: Ch. 1-3-God is Faithful

Israel’s Sin Intolerable: Ch. 4-7-God is Holy

 Israel’s Sin Punished:Ch. 8-10-God is Just

Israel Restored: Ch. 11-14-God is Loyal

In the first section (chapters 1-3) God instructed Hosea to offer three prophecies (verbal in 1:1- 11; 2:1-23; by example in 3:1-5). These prophecies expose four themes:

1:1-11 Seven Principles of God’s Judgment

2:1-7 The Love in God’s Judgment

2:8-13 Seven Results of Willful Resistance to God

2:14-3:5 The Purpose of Judgment Pain – The “Long View” of Restoration

In our first session, we want to explore the revelation of God concerning the important subject:

“Prone to Wander – Seven Principles of God’s Judgment” (Hosea 1:1-11)

What General Principles govern the ground rules of God’s use of judgment?
– Principle 1: Sin Hurts – Our sin “feels” like a personal betrayal to God (1:1-3).

– Principle 2: Sin Matters – God does keep track of specific acts of sin and refers back to it in judgment of individuals and nations (1:4).

-Principle 3: Judgment is measured – The judgment is often measured commensurate with the sin that caused judgment (1:5). In fact, in trying to stop the rightful line of Israel from ascending to the throne, God obliged Jehu’s attempt by taking it away from all of them!

-Principle 4: God Offers Warning – God offers grace time before judgment, which is the greater purpose to most prophecy (1:6).

-Principle 5: Judgment Levels – The uneven field is often leveled by God’s judgment (1:7,8). God used the judgment against Israel and the abstention of Judah to rebalance their respective power bases.

-Principle 6: Warnings are His Deterrence – God’s warning of impending judgment offers us a unique look at His way of thinking. God wants us to see the horror of losing a specific walk with Him and repent now (1:9)!

-Principle 7: Judgment is carefully controlled – God does not discipline His people RASHLY, but with a view toward pulling them back to His love (1:10-11)!

Hosea 2: 1-13 Understanding God: “The Love of God involved in His Judgment”

In this section we are again we are examining God’s judgment, this time from the perspective of His Love:

1. Initiative: God calls the sinner from a wounded heart to turn to Him (2:1).

2. Realistic: God calls sin what it is, and tries to get the sinner to turn by acknowledging a coming break in the relationship if they will not turn back (2:2). We cannot cling to sin and be close to God, one will drive us from the other! (2:2b).

3. Conditional: Privileges are removed based on the choices of the violator:
a. Circumstances destroyed (3).
b. Fruits of life sifted (4).

4. Specific: God accurately diagnoses will disobedience as exactly that! He does not beat around the bush concerning the cause of the judgment. He also notes how desperately we cling to our sin (5b).

5. Purposeful: God uses judgments (disciplines) to:
a. make further defiling difficult (6)
b. push His children back to Him (7).

As the chapter continues, note how the theme of resistance to God is presented:

Seven Results of Willful Resistance to God (2:8-13)

1. Memory loss (2:8).
2. Material loss (2:9).
3. Exposure (2:10).
4. Joy loss (2:11).
5. Future withered (2:12a).
6. Plunder: others get the benefit of their work (2:12b).
7. Withdrawn relationship with God and the truth (2:13).

Hosea 2: 14-3:5 Understanding God: This passage offers ten steps back to restoration:

A. First, it happens where they are! GOD MEETS US IN THE ASH PILE.

1. The Lure in the Ashes: Though the rebellious believer forgets the Lord in their thinking (2:13), yet God “lures” them back into a walk by taking them to the wilderness (the place of need) and speaking “to their heart” (literal Hebrew translation – 2:14).

2. The Lesson of the Ashes: God gives them back a future provision from the unmistakable place of their own failures. It is a literal rebirth from the midst of the ashes of destruction (2:15a).

B. Second, it happens inside them! GOD PROVIDES EMERGENCY HEART
REPLACEMENT.

3. Replaced Hope: A renewed joy swells up inside the repentant believer as God floods the memories of failure with powerful images of His victory (2:15b).

4. Renewed Thankfulness: The wound of the failure gives way to a renewed sense of humility and overwhelming appreciation that God loves us. The “list” gives way to “love” (2:16).

5. Returned Strength: God pulls the hooks of the old selfish life out of the renewed follower, and crushes the memory and hunger for the old lifestyle. The wicked past seems a distant memory (2:17).

C. Third, it happens around them! GOD ARRANGES REST.

6. The struggle against everyone and everything gives way to rest and peace at God’s hand (2:18).

D. Fourth, it happens between them and God! GOD RENEWS AND STRENGTHENS THE RELATIONSHIP.

7. Security: The security of the relationship with God becomes a strong bond, causing their decisions to reflect the love they have for God (2:19-20).

8. Desire: The desire to talk to God – and for God to answer – becomes the most important and common part of life (2:21).

9. Empowering: The former struggles will now give way to a firm understanding that all things come from my Father’s hand, at His will (2:22).

10. Testimony: God will openly use the testimony of their renewed walk, and publicly proclaim them to be His alone (2:23)!

The picture:
3:1 Go love a current adulterous (example of “where they are” principle above).
3:2 Purchase her from her bondage with the full price of her slavery.
3:3 Put her in a secluded time of cleansing (this will explain what Israel will go through when I
turn and leave them leaderless, until their return 3:4-5)

Hosea 4:1-19 Israel’s Sin is Intolerable – And God is Holy! “Straight Talk From a Holy God”

I. The Indictment: God offered a seven-part indictment of His wayward children that brought judgment on their houses (4:1-2).

-Charge #1: No firm stand (4:1a) “Hear what God says about you: you take no firm stand for God…”

-Charge #2: No loyalty to defend His ways (4:1b) “…you have no enduring loyalty to His ways, you do not perceive Him in your daily life!”

-Charge #3: No “close connection” in daily walk (4:2a) “Your faithless walk works out in misusing your mouths…”

-Charge #4: Deceitful words (4:2b) “…walking deceitfully…”

-Charge #5: Violence (4:2b) “…killing…”

-Charge #6: Ill-gotten gain (4:2b) “…smuggling…”

-Charge #7: Lustful lifestyles (4:2b) “… and sexual unfaithfulness – sinning constantly and in rapid succession.”

II. Chances Suspended (4:3-5): God offers an explanation to those who He knows will feel cheated when they suffer after trying to do good works.

1. First you will sense a decline in prosperity and position (4:3). “Therefore I will reduce the prosperity of your land and work.”

 2. You will attempt to find another to blame, hoping that changing the others will avert judgment (4:4). “Don’t bother trying to change each other!”

3. Because of the sin, even those who have made attempts to follow will suffer with the brash sinners (4:5). “When judgment comes, even the religious will go down with you as your nation is torn apart.”

III. The Nine Penalties (4:6-19):
-Penalty #1: Your special blessed position is lost for a time because your heart left following Me! 4:6 My people are crushed by their dullness of heart toward Me, so I will remove your special status before Me for you and your children.

-Penalty #2: You will feel the void of loneliness when I back out of the relationship. 4:7
With each generation you longed to live apart from My walk, so I will give you the loneliness you desire!

-Penalty #3: Shame will depart your streets. 4:8 People now hunger to do wrong
shamelessly.

-Penalty #4: The self-justifying religious leaders will lead many by spewing their own rules to a special judgment! 4:9 They have followed the religious nonsense of leaders, and they will bring on themselves the punishment they deserve.

-Penalty #5: Family and physical security will fleet away as the relationship with Me slips away. 4:10 They will be unfulfilled in all they want, supplies and security of children – for they left their walk with Me.

-Penalty #6: They will find no lasting peace, though trying drugs and people relationships. 4:11 They will seek comfort in each other and a bottle, but draw further from true help.

-Penalty #7: Truth will die – they will reinvent righteousness and truth to their own standard, but it won’t produce what a walk with Me does! 4:12-13 Their false
religious practices keep them believing they are “trying” to do good, but nothing
good comes of it.

-Penalty #8: Sin will grow and be unpunished. 4:14 I will allow sin to go unpunished and
unrighteousness to fill the land with loyalty left trampled under foot.

-Penalty #9: I will withdraw My Word and your testimony from those who do not want truth. (4:15-18) Let the people of Israel go after their sinfulness stubbornly, and do not try to intervene from Judah. Do not exchange religious participation with them – let them alone in their sin. (19) The judgment will come, and they will have their day!

Hosea 5:1-15 Israel’s Sin is Intolerable – And God is Holy! “The Vacuum Effect- God’s Wrath Explained”

The Problem (5:1-5): What the people did –
1. As the Leaders go, so goes the nation! (5:1).
2. People will get a hunger for the externals without a solid understanding of the correct path, and they will fail to understand correction (5:2).
3. God has not withheld judgment because He has not seen it! He knows and sees. (5:3).
4. There comes a time when people prefer the “spiritual” externals more than the truth! (5:4). They enjoy the “violating spirit” of their own standards.
5. There is a snowball effect to the sins of a nation, and God looks for a softness and vulnerability in the hearts of men to direct them (5:5).

The Pronouncement (5:6-15): What God will do –
6. God will withdraw from the people no matter if they keep practicing the right things or not! (5:6)
7. In their deception, they have born fruits of falseness, and God will bring their system down (5:7).
8. Judgment is sure (5:8) and will be swift (5:9). Your borders have been breached by your own works, and the fences have now removed protection from you! (5:10).
9. God is about to let you fall in line with His prophesied course (5:11) and decay as promised (5:12).
10. When I sent warnings to you, you dug in further by reaching for contentious ones that only increased your pain (5:13). As a result, I will pull back my protections and cause your calamities! (5:14).
11. I will await only one thing – your repentance before Me (5:15).

Hosea 6:1-7:16 “The Party Is Over and The Place is a Wreck!”

Introduction: God hurts over our sin. He expresses both pain and a parent-like desire for us to learn from life’s temptations. Tonight we will look at how our sin moves His heart, and how He desires us to change. Have you ever walked in coldness toward God? This message will tell you (from God’s perspective) what that time felt like to Him! Now, let’s look at “God the Father’s” perspective on the post-party mess made by His sons:

I. The Call of the Prophet (6:1-3)
1. First Call: Turn Back to the Lord (1) and God Will Heal Our broken
nation (2a). It will take time (2b), but we WILL LIVE IN HIS PRESENCE!
2. Second Call: Focus our Perception on the Lord (3), and God will SURELY return to us (cp. Ps. 78:23).

II. The Works of the People (6:4-11a)
1. Your love evaporates (4), so I have sent HARD words, and REAL troubles
(5)! (cp. “first love” of Ephesian church in Rev. 2).
2. Your outward work has replaced your heart (6)! (cp. Lk. 11:37ff)
3. Your heart has strayed into unfaithfulness (7).
4. You love violence (8).
5. You fleece people out of greed (9).
6. You have raised up idols (10).
7. You force a stored up judgment (11).

III. The Cry of the Father (6:11b-7:3)
1. I feel totally robbed – when I want to reach out to you, you cheat me out of the blessing (11b-7:2).
2. I feel trashed because you flaunt sin in front of Me (7:3).

IV. The Four Examples of Deceit (7:4-16)
1. Example #1: Unstirred Fire – Hot and Ready Sin (7:4-7)
2. Example #2: Unevenly Burned – Blind Victims (7:8-10)
3. Example #3: Lost Homing Pigeons – Directionless and Purposeless (7:11- 15)
4. Example #4: Unreliable Weapon – Useless to Reach Out (7:16)

Hosea 8:1-14 “Selling Myself Short”

Introduction: How do people end up “stuck” in a sin pattern? It begins with a misunderstanding about God and themselves. Tonight we will look at the pattern to help us avoid the “potholes” of life. As we begin a new section, we see God calling out a pattern that many people become stuck inside. Consider the description of the believer that has walked away. They walk in:

-Dread: God has made it clear that disobedience leads to judgment. They know
something is wrong, and see the coming of judgment, but do not change (8:1).

-Distance: They have walked away from their own promise to follow, and feel
guilty – yet do not change (8:1b).

-Defiance: They have rejected truth they know and believe, because they choose a path of their own making (8:1b).

-Double-mindedness: They claim a desire to follow God, but do not DO the things
He desires of them (8:2-3). What have they done?
1. Choose and support leaders that don’t reflect God’s standards (8:4).
2. Put other priorities and things in the place of God (8:4b). Stop this (8:5)! Do you not see that YOU have made the things you worship (8:6; cp. 1 Ki. 12:28- 33) and I will destroy all of it!
3. Choosing to sow evil reaps:
a. a mountain of evil compounded (8:7a).
b. a useless productivity (8:7b).
c. a slavery to greater forces (8:7b).

Four Problems in the Specific Case of Israel:
1. She is becoming a consumed commodity (8:8).
2. She has made a conscious choice (8:9).
3. She faces a conspicuous result (8:10).
4. She keeps a religious appearance, but makes her own rules (8:11-13).
a. She ignores the Biblical prescriptions, and treats them as strangely irrelevant (8:12).
b. She plays out a self-affirming religion without a heart to obey Me (8:13).
Result: God will not forget, even if we do (8:13b-14). Judgment will come as promised.
***************************************************************

The end of Hosea 8 offers an interesting closer look on the subject of the slide into sin. Note the operation of the principle:

Evil repays ten-fold (8:7)
1. I become a consumed & used commodity ( 8:8)
2. I make a conscious choice to follow (8:9)
3. I give a conspicuous result (8:10)
What does the slide look like?: ( Six steps down)
1. I can keep looking religious- but it is a religion of my own rules (8:11)
2. I will view God’s principles as unrealistic & foreign (8:12)
3. I will build a religion of self-benefit (8:13a)
4. I will reduce the message of judgment (8:13b)
5. I will take my joy & success in other ventures (8:14a)
6. I will live to see the vanity of them (8:14b)

Hosea 9:1-17 God’s Great Invitation: Turn Before It’s Too Late!

God offers people at least one opportunity (and often more than one) to turn from sin and get His help. Tonight, we will look at the invitation, and then at the steps that follow the rejection of it. Our passage ends with God view and the prophet’s view of the tragedy of the wasted life.

Section One: “Ten Truths to Grasp for those who are sinking but think they are enjoying it!”

1. Stop mindlessly joining in to the frivolity of the nations, one who understands the seriousness of eternity values cannot simply escape truth (9:1).
2. Recognize the reality of sin and its sad consequences in the strained relationship with God – the most devastating consequence (9:2a).
3. Understand the bondage of the sinful lifestyle – you will act with short term values that lead to destruction (9:2b).
4. Acknowledge that your stubbornness is causing you to lose past blessings of God (9:3a).
5. Grasp the reality that your desire to be like the world will force you into the mold of the world (9:3b).
6. Face the sobering truth that freedom to choose a walk with God will be withdrawn from your next generation (9:4a).
7. Feel the pain of sin left uncared for – the distance from God will grow and grow (9:4b).
8. Note the practices of religion as they become more and more empty and meaningless (9:4b).
9. Remember the great moves of God of yesteryear – with only envy. They are long gone! (9:5).
10. Surrender to the trapped feeling (9:6a) and watch as the victories of the past become buried under dust (9:6b).

Section Two: “Eight Signs of the End of the Joyride!” Days of punishment are coming! (9:7) How do I know?
1. People of God are increasingly viewed with contempt by the masses (9:7b).
2. People will set traps to rid society of God’s spokesmen (9:8).
3. People will do despicable things to trick the people of God (9:9).
4. Many people who once followed God with great promise will show themselves to be selfindulgent and uncommitted (9:9b-10).
5. The previous marks of blessing will become a burden, and My face will turn away from them (9:11-12).
6. People will search even the unthinkable options in hopes of blessing when the realize their emptiness and trouble (9:13).
7. Nothing they try will seem to really work, and they will blame the sources of blessing with praising the sources of trouble (9:14).
8. Eventually, overt judgment will come, and they will feel its power (9:15-17)

Hosea 10:1-15 Looking for Truth in all the Wrong Places “Ignoring the Guilty Heart”

Introduction: Did you ever spend alot of time trying to fix a problem that you knew in your heart was caused by your own sin? Did you do it while refusing to deal with your sin? Let’s look at what God says about clearing the path of problems like this!

The Description of the Wayward (10:1-2)
1. You had prosperity, but were self-oriented (10:1a)
2. You were religious and showy and used your prosperity to decorate your religious life (10:1b).
3. Key: You didn’t deal with personal sin and have it forgiven (10:2)!

The Penalty to the Wayward (10:3-7).
1. Lost freedom: The Lord will remove your freedom to worship (10:3)
2. Lost values: When your freedom is gone people will know they lost it, but not see the real value of it anyway (10:3).
3. Lost cohesiveness: Without the truth that comes from proper worship, the bond that holds society together will break down into unending legal actions of dishonest people (10:4).
4. Lost sense of truth: The lost love in captivity of your idols, false gods and all that is wrong will bring more tears to your eyes than a loss of truth (10:5).
5. Lost power: Your false gods (all that you trusted so dearly) will be powerless to help you in the disgrace and shame of your captivity (10:6).
6. Lost leaders: The power and influence of those who enticed you into wickedness will evaporate (10:7).

The Move of God and Its Purposes (10:8-11)
1. Removing the Influences: God will help you by destroying THE wickedness of your kingdom – a love prostituted to other gods (10:8a). He will bury your shameful altars and symbols of rebellion (10:8b).
2. Refocusing your eyes: He will make clear your sin to you! You have been motivated by a deep desire to forsake God and hurt those around you to have more for yourself (10:9).
3. Reestablishing the Truth: (YOU ARE ALREADY SPIRITUALLY IN BONDAGE!) God will choose the time of discipline, using any tools He decides to among the nations (10:10). He will enslave you to finally bring you to see the fruits of their sin (10:11).

The Great Invitation to Come Home (10:12)
1. Open to God’s Healing Hand: Deal openly with your heart and invest yourself in a right walk with God, and you will experience the HESED of God (10:12a).
2. Recognize your Individual Power: The secret to national salvation is personal
confrontation of your own sin, personal hunger to seek God until God refreshes you (10:12b).

The Sadness of your choice: (10:13-15)
1. Living in Deception: Yet you sow evil, reap bad fruit and consume it as a lie (10:13).
2. Living in False Hope: You think you have the strength to make it on your own (10:13b), yet you will be proven helpless when the real battle comes (10:14-15).

Hosea 11:1-12 Israel Will Be Restored: “Eight Methods God used to raise His adopted children”

When a couple adopts a child that strays it is intensely painful and heartbreaking to the faithful family. God experienced this pain and describes Himself in this unique portrait view into God’s heart!

1) 11:1 I loved him and called him out of the crowd of despair.
Selection of you: I remember when I walked into the room and chose and adopted you from a home filled with hopeless and hurting children. You came home with me and accepted a place in our family, but then turned. Your rebellion has left me empty and hurt, with a strong feeling of injustice.

2) 11:2 THEY (Not “I” as in NIV) cried louder and louder their allegiance, and yet they moved away from Me, bowing themselves to false gods. Battle for you: I watched you say you wanted to be a part of the family even as you kept pulling
farther away. I watched you lower your standards and you left me tear-filled and empty.

3) 11:3 I taught them to walk and lifted them when they fell, but they didn’t understand that I cared for their pains. Teacher for you: I taught you how to take your fist steps and winced when you took your first tumble. I was there for every scrape and cut, and yet you have no concept of my love!

4)11:4 I bonded them with our family and united them in love. I patiently taught them to have direction and stooped to feed them. Guardian over you: I guarded you through life with a strong loving tie of belonging to all of us, watching out for those influences that would bind and blind you. No place was too far, no job to low to stoop, if it protected you.

5) 11:5-7 Is it not inevitable that you will end up imprisoned because of your relentless pursuit of trouble? 11:6 Violence, trouble and destruction will be their certain future. 11:7 Because you have determined to pull far from me, the time will come when I will be unable to lift you from the pit you have dug, no matter how willing you will be! Warning for you: I will not sugar-coat your future, you are heading for real trouble! You will be hurt and taken advantage of, and at a certain point you will move beyond turning back, as terrible as it pains me!

6) 11:8 No matter what you have done, I simply cannot turn and walk away. I love you too much to be unaffected by your life! Enduring for you: I can’t turn off my love for you, even if I know it will just keep hurting me. My love for you was so long ago ignited, there is no way for me to turn the clock back!

7) 11:9 No matter how hurt I am, I will not unload my pain by putting you through all that you truly deserve. I will feel like truly hurting you, but I will not – for I am God and not like man! Reserving for you: You break my heart and make me want to visit pain on you for what you are doing – but I will not. I will hold back what you deserve, because I can.

8 ) 11:10 They will come back and follow me. They will see their needs, turn and call many back to me. 11 They will flock back into the safety of my house, and they will desire to live again under the rules and protection of my security. Hoping for you: You will eventually turn around, I will wait and watch in earnest expectation that you will learn from you painful mistakes.

Hosea 11:12-12:14 Israel Unmasked: Sinners in the Hands of a God Who Sees

Think you can out wit God? You can’t! He has a message to you:
#1: The heart of your problem is the lie you are telling – making yourself a victim! 11:12 You say I abandoned you, but you lie! YOU rebelled against Me! I have been faithful!

#2: The symptom is compromise in your life that you feel inside! 12:1 You sustain yourself on empty nonsense, lie and intrigue, you fill your lives with fallacies and compromise! The northern tribes pastures (raw-waw) on wind (ruach) and pursues (rawdaf) eastward or east winds (qadeem)

#3 The tricks you pull will come back on you – you have tricked others and I will use them to trick you! I will do this because I want you to remember Me! 12:2 God has an indictment against you: You tricked the people and I will sting the trickster!
12:3 You were born in struggle against others.
12:4 You lived in struggle, and God granted you room to grow in grace. He met you at Bethel and talked.

#4 There is a way out! You must come back and remember Me, you must trust Me!
12:5 Don’t you recall Yahweh Elohim Tsabaw is His Zayker (Memorial)!
12:6 Now you must turn back to God. You must guard your faithfulness and judgment and bind your weakness in His strength.

#5 Listen Carefully! I see past your surface veneer, and I am able to peel you back to a place of vulnerability. I keep warning you!
12:7 The trader cheats on the scales in delight.
12:8 Your nation believes it can use its wealth to hide its guilt in its prosperity.
12:9 I brought you from the wilderness and can make you live like then as I do in Sukkot!
12:10 I have warned you repeatedly in prophetic messages!

#6 Stop acting and start following! I see your religious rites, but they are no help to you!
12:11 Is Gil’ad troubled? It’s people are dangerously empty. They observe religious rites in Gilgal, but the altars are like danger stone piles in the plowed field!

#7 Know my plan! I will take you away again, as I have in the past, to bring you back into blessing. I will lead you out, and I will lead you back in, but not until you have paid your bill!
12:12 Israel had to leave his land to go and tend sheep and earn a wife.
12:13 Israel used a prophet to bring him home again from Egypt.
12:14 Yet, Israel has provoked God such that He will leave their guilt on them until they have paid for their crimes.

Hosea 13 and 14 Israel Will Be Restored: Judgment’s Rain Bears Righteous Fruit

Introduction: The book of Hosea was originally given as a series of prophecies between 755 and 722 BCE (during the waning years of the Northern Kingdom before their deportation to Assyria). The prophecies were given by God to His followers through the ages understand His heart in times of discipline and estrangement from Him – to fully grasp what is GOOD and RIGHT about God in the difficult times of our walk with Him (Hosea 14:9). Hosea walked with God for
more than 50 years when that bucked the trend around him!

(Chapter 13) As we close the book, in this lesson we will see how God viewed the discipline He placed on the people, and what fruit He saw as the outcome. This helps every believer understand WHY GOD DOESN’T REMOVE CONSEQUENCES immediately when we turn to Him:

1. Testimony Principle: The only clear way for the nation to see the need to follow God is for them to live with the results of their sin. Slighter disciplines sometimes don’t work, and the entire reputation needs to be carefully considered. Israel used to be powerful, but idolatry killed her. (13:1) Their sin has only increased in discipline (13:2) They have a fixed reputation as idolators, so they are dissipated in discipline. (13:3)

2. Assertion Principle: God needs to assert His rights to our obedience in graphic ways that help us understand truth. Real love insists on exclusivity! Since I am the Lord, and I redeemed them from Egypt- I took care of them in the wilderness and fed them, I have the right to insist they exclusively stand with Me, but they were filled and proud, and forgot Me. (13:4-6)

3. Measured Severity Principle: God brings discipline on nations in direct proportion to their insistence to walk away. He is tougher in discipline when they are harder in heart, For their pride I will bring judgment – powerfully pounce like a lion, quietly sneak up like a leopard, viciously rip them as a bear protecting cubs, consume them as a lion – tearing them apart. (13:7-8)

4. Effect Principle: When sin is conceived, it bears fruit. You chose to stand against Me, and that choice will destroy you. Kings and rulers cannot protect you – I gave them and took them away! Your sins are recorded and will not be overlooked. Your pains are like a woman in breach labor, unable to deliver. (13:9-13)

5. Remembrance Principle: Even in judgment, God remembers mercy! You will face death, but I will buy you from permanent death – you will live again! (13:14).

6. Justice Principle: There is a just repayment penalty for every transgression, measured by the transgression. You will face judgment without compassion though you have flourished, for Assyria is coming to destroy you and plunder you. You must pay for your rebellion with the lives of your women and children. (13:15-16)

The Expected Outcome of God’s Remembrance Hosea 14:1-9

God’s offer: Return to Me (14:1) and bring true words of offering, asking deliberately for forgiveness (14:2). Commit to finding all your help in Him (14:3).

God’s promise: I will turn back to you (14:3), and renew the land, transplanting you back to your home (14:4). I will make you prosper again with gifts I give (14:5-6). I will offer security, care, abundance, rebirth and a new reputation (14:7). Since you turned to Me, I will refresh your life and vitality – and you will know where it comes from! (14:8)

God’s expectation: Wise men will see the truth in the discipline, and know I am just for doing all of this! (14:9)

Principle Approach Studies in the Book of Jonah

OK, so I am new at blogging! I was trying to put my teaching notes on the web for my students, and finally someone let me know a faster way to do it! I can put the outlines in pdf format and make them instantly available! Who knew? Probably everyone but me.

Anyway, the story of the prophet from the Galilee, Jonah of Gath Hepher (near Nazareth) is the story of a believer who plunged into rebellion and its accompanying behavioral depression. There is hope! Here are the four parts of the study in one easy to read, print or teach format!

The Principle Approach: “THE STORY OF JONAH”

Four Acts of a Drama on one who wants to “cut their own path” and not follow God’s call for their life.

ACT ONE: Song of the Pouting Prophet (Walking Away From God’s Best for You)

God has a desire for your life. He made you with specific gifts, talents and abilities – the way you are. Unfortunately, many of us spend a large amount of time running from right (because we feel doing wrong will somehow empower us with freedom) and following our call (because we have better plans for ourselves than God appears to have).

Quick outline:

  1. Will Disclosed (vv.1.2) — GOD MAKES HIS WILL KNOWN WHEN WE FOLLOW HIM.
  2. Way Declined (3) — GOD’S WILL IS CHOICE NOT COERSION.
  3.  Wind Devloped (4) — DISRUPTION IS TO GET OUR ATTENTION NOT TO “PUNISH”
  4.  Wares Destroyed (5) — GOD’S DEALINGS WITH US MEANT AS A TESTIMONY TO ALL
  5.  Wayword: CHOOSING NOT TO FOLLOW GOD ENDANGERS OTHERS
  • Disturbed (6) — GOD CAN USE A TESTIMONY EVEN WHEN BELIEVER HAS BEEN WRONG
  • Disclosed (7-10) — PEOPLE CIRCUMVENT GOD’S PLAN OUT OF COMPASSION
  • Disposed (11-15a) — CRISES BRING PERSPECTIVE. BEST RESPONSE: OBEDIENCE

6. Watchers Delivered (15-16) ONE SIN DOES NOT A FAILURE MAKE! GOD’S PLAN WILL CONTINUE

7. Wrong-doer Detained (17)

 Application: Are YOU a pouting prophet? …an innocent bystander? …or are you in the mainstream of God’s desire for you??

ACT TWO: The Pickled Prophet: Finding God the “Hard Way”

When I kick against God, He makes life harder. It isn’t because He doesn’t love me, it is because He DOES. Look at some principles from this prophet.

1. The classroom of the prophet’s prayer (1-6).

Principle #1: It doesn’t matter: a) where you are (1); b) how you feel (2); c) why you are calling (2); d) what you’ve done (3) …YOU CAN FIND GOD!

Principle #2: Finding God involves: a) a commitment (4); b) helplessness (5); c) acknowledgement of God’s control (6)

2. The confessions in the prophet’s prayer (7-9).

Principle: Four areas of disobedience: a) “forgot God”; b) neglected prayer c) believed lies -“you can run from God…”; d) lost thankfulness

3. The completion to the prophet’s prayer (9b-10).

Principle: God only delivers a man for the purpose of SERVING HIM. God did not send him back to ship he was running on, but onward to the place of his mission!

Application: What must God do right now in your life to become your highest priority? What has God called you to do; Are you busy about His work?

ACT THREE: The Preaching Prophet: “The best kind of broken heart”

I. The Prophet Preaching Repentance (3:1-4b)

A. The Commission of the Prophet (1,2)

B. The Cooperation of the Prophet (3,4a)

C. The Call of the Prophet (4b)

II. The People Understanding Repentance (3:5-9)

A. The Pattern of Repentance: (5,6)

1. agreeing with God (believe) about sin.

2. changing habits (proclaim fast).

3. changing appearance (sackcloth).

4. eliminating distinctions (greatest).

NOTE THAT THIS PATTERN IS REPEATED

B. The Proclamation to Repent: (7-9)

1. Don’t continue in present lifestyle.

2. Change focus: look UP!

3. Understand HIS control.

III. The Perfect One Accepting Repentance (3:10)

Repentance implies: a change in “works”

Repentance demands: a turning from “evil”

Repentance includes: a change in penalty

Application: Have you “repented” of sin? Are you ready to agree with God about your sin, change habits and lifestyle to conform to HIM?

ACT FOUR: The Praying Prophet: “Fighting the Battle of Depression

Principle: JONAH TEACHES US THAT DEPRESSION IS A BATTLE EVEN FOR THE Follower of God! God includes in His Word insight in dealing with DEPRESSION:

  1. Jonah had an understanding of the character of God (4:2b) and a developed theology, yet he became depressed.
  2. Even when Jonah did the “right things” (preach in Nineveh, pray, etc.) he still became depressed.

Depression begins when we feel mistreated by someone. (1)
Depression is really an issue against the control of God- we don’t like the way HE is working the plan. (2)
Depression usually leads to the wrong conclusion. (3)
Depression is usually associated with (accompanied by) guilt. (4)

A depressed person fails to see the provisions God has given. (5)

A depressed person spends much of their time occupied with personal comfort and satisfaction. (6-8)

3.  God has a message for the depressed believer:

a. understand that GOD is at work in all things to teach us (9).

b. allow GOD to redirect your feelings for HIS purpose (10).

c. open your eyes to many who are LOST around you! (11)

There’s a job to be done!!!

Jonah 2: I Can Be Restored!

When you have walked away from God’s best for you, there is a way back to total restoration in your walk with God. Jonah offers a model of restoration in four stages:

1. The classroom of repentance (vv. 1-3). Principle: Recognize it doesn’t matter where you are (v. 1); how you feel (v. 2a); when you are calling  (i.e. “at death’s door”, v. 2b); how far you have sunk because of what you’ve done (v. 3)…YOU CAN FIND GOD when you choose to turn back to Him! It is incredibly important to remember. Sin isolates us and drives us to hide from others. In the classroom of repentance, I learn the lesson of my need – restoration. Standing alone in the cold, I can see there are no “God-forsaken” places or people!

 

2. The causeway of repentance (vv. 4-6). Principle: Understand that finding God involves a commitment to face God (v. 4); recognition of our utter helplessness when living in self will (v. 5); an acknowledgement of God’s control and desire (v. 6). The longer I live the more I am convinced that sin can never be satisfied by placating and feeding – it is insatiable. If I want victory, I am going to need to face my hardness and admit it before God so that blessing will again be renewed.

 

3. The confession of a repentant heart (vv. 7-9). Principle: Examine the areas of disobedience that brought you to this place. In Jonah’s case he “forgot God” (7a); neglected prayer (7b); believed lies (“you can run from God…”v.8); lost thankfulness (9a); forgot to obey his vow to give God his life (9b). Sin doesn’t make us HATE GOD, it makes us FORGET GOD. We act like He doesn’t see us where we are!

 

4. The completion of repentance: a renewal (9b-10). Principle: God delivers a man for the purpose of SERVING HIM in obedience. God did not send him back to ship he was running on, but onward to the place of his mission! He has a purpose for us, and He knows what He was buying when He redeemed us. He is not surprised. It is not for myself I have been redeemed, but for my Redeemer. The longer I live, and the better I know Him, the better that truth sounds.

Jonah 1: Finding God's Best For You

God has a divine purpose for struggle in the life of a disobedient believer. We can heed the example of a model, or we can pass through the painful process. The only ways we learn are by experience or example. Jonah modeled for us nine important principles to finding God’s best:

  1. Will Disclosed (1- 2) – Principle: God makes His will known when we follow Him.

  2. Way Declined (3) – Principle: We must understand that God’s will is a choice, not coercion.

  3. Wind Developed (4) – Principle: God often disrupts our lives as a way to get our attention, not to hurt or punish us. We must take heed early!

  4. Wares Destroyed (5) – Principle: Those around us are affected by our disobedience, for God deals with the believers as a testimony to all. Choosing to walk away from God endangers others.

  5. Wayward Disturbed: (6) – Principle: God may call upon you to be a testimony even when you are walking in disobedience. This is designed to bring you back to Him!

  6. Wayward Disclosed (7-10) – Principle: In the absence of the knowledge of the love of God and relationship with God, people respond only in fear of the power of God. Even in judgment, God reveals our relationship.

  7. Wayward Disposed (11-15a) – Principle: We cannot “rescue” another from their personal responsibility to follow God. When they know what must be done to reconcile the relationship, we should not attempt another path.

  8. Watchers Delivered (15b-16) Principle: God desires to use a believer in obedience, but He can and will use the testimony of disobedience to reach some.

  9. Wrong-doer Detained (17) Principle: Sometimes the best thing that can happen to us is a time of waiting and reconsidering our way. God sometimes prepares detours to help us settle down and recount where we have been.

At the end of the day, we can heed the example and avoid the painful experience of needing to “detour” our lives!

Obadiah: Reasons Why Nations Fail

Edom (from the word for ground or red in Hebrew) was a red-colored mountainous region with rock carved cities (now in the Kingdom of Jordan), where camel caravan traffic brought delicacies from the east to the west. They had a mixed history we should remember to set the scene for Obadiah’s prophecy of destruction on them. First, they were descendants of Esau, and as such they had an ongoing battle with the children of Israel. Moses long ago asked to pass through the territory on his way to the Promised Land, and the Edomites refused them passage and threatened them with arms (Num. 20:14-21). When the children of Israel were established in their land, Israel attacked Edom under King Saul (2 Sam. 8:14) and King David (2 Kings 8:20-22). As Israel grew weaker in the Divided Kingdom, Edom was able to shake free in independence at the time of Jehoram (2 Kings 8:20-22, about 840 BCE).


The Kingdom of Edom was well known as a bastion of security. The cities were nearly impregnable. Their reputation in was battle fierce. They had natural barriers protecting them, as well as world class skilled defense systems for the time. Their thriving capital at Petra was carved out of rock, and eventually housed some of the most luxurious buildings that stood in the ancient Near East (a theatre for 2000, etc.). They were noted for their national pride (Prov. 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”) and they defiantly rejected the God of Israel in favor of their own strength and position economically and militarily, with almost cultic devotion their own victories of the past.
Three unique prophecies haunted Edom: First, God promised to completely desolate the land. Their cities still exist, but they are eerie tourist destinations of deserted ruins (Ezekiel 35:3-4)! Second, God promised the caravans would cease and the economy of the people would die off (Ezekiel 35:7). Finally, God revealed that he would completely wipe out their national identity (Ezekiel 35:13; Obadiah 18). Today, there are no nations that identify Edom as their ancestry!

What are the reasons for Edomite failure according to Obadiah and what can we learn from them? First, they had great pride in their defenses (3,4). Next, they combined their pride with an unwise trust in allies (5-7). On top of that, they had misplaced trust in three things: Wisdom (discernment) of experts (8); Knowledge (forecasting) of prognosticators (8); and Might of military strategists (9). What finally caused God to turn from them, however, was the unmerciful treatment of God’s people (10-14). They watched as invaded and offered no help to protect God’s stated agenda (11). They rejoiced in the losses of God’s people (12). They looted God’s people (13) and set up traps (roadblocks) to snare God’s people (14). What was God’s Response to Edom (and other Godless Nations)? He will judge them with their own wickedness (15-17). He will Sap their life as they sponged the life of God’s people. Further, He will give their fortunes back to His own people (move His blessing! V.17) and cut the offenders off completely (18). He will give to their “allies and friends” their fortune (19,20) and restore His message and His people (21). YOU CAN SAVE A NATION!

God always offers nations the opportunity to follow Him. In a pluralistic and democratic nation, we do this by persuasion. We MUST be prepared to graciously and lovingly share Jesus with our neighbor, it will preserve our future as much as missiles and alliances!

Exodus 24 Learning the Value of the Community of Leaders

Following the Amalekite war, Moses went through the painful but profitable experience of correction by Jethro, his father-in-law. Moses placed himself in a position of unrealistic expectation, trying to accomplish more than anyone could expect – a mistake common to driven leaders. The result was an overuse of his abilities, a slow draining of all of the creativity and leadership vision by the wearing grind of daily administration. Jethro told him to delegate administration, and in those words, God used a man that could get Moses’ attention, and get him to change the pattern of his work habits to refresh him and pull him back on track (Ex. 18:24). After the departure of Jethro, Moses brought the people to the edge of the Mountain of the Law, as God instructed. The time came that would later be memorialized in Shavuot (or “the Feast of weeks”), a holy convocation instructed in Levitical law (Lev. 23:15). This feast was an agricultural celebration, but its true importance is underscored in the Biblical instruction that included it as one of three mandatory offering appearances before the Lord annually (Dt. 16:16). God did not want this day forgotten! This was a day He gathered the children of Israel and God blew a shofar (ram’s horn trumpet) before them that shook their camp (Ex. 19:16)! God has seldom made Himself so obvious in the affairs of men – this day was not common! They had already traveled fifty days from the departure from Egypt (Ex.12: 15-20) to the time of the arrival at the mountain (Ex. 19:1). The term “fifty days” was captured in the word “Pentecost”, still a holy memorial each year among observant Jews recalling the encounter with God at the mountain, and the giving of the law. The Sabbath days between Passover and Pentecost were counted according to God’s instruction (Lev. 23:15).

God invited seventy elders and a specific guest list of leaders to the mountain to worship Him (Ex. 24:1). They were not allowed to move up the mountain with Moses, but they were instructed to come together for a corporate time of reverence (the Hebrew verb shakhaw means to bow before, prostrate one’s self, or revere, Ex. 24:1) some distance away from Moses. Moses prepared himself for the meeting. He rose early in the morning, wrote down the words God had given him in the previous encounter, raised up an altar and standing stones for the tribes, and sprinkled the blood of offerings on the altar. He read over the words he had written before the people, and they affirmed their commitment to God’s holy covenant. He took the elders and leaders up to the mountain.

The event that followed was unprecedented in human history. God passed by before the men, and they beheld a brightness that seemed like the sun. The mystery in the event was not simply that they gazed upon the path of God, and stood before a striking brightness. The shocking part of the story was their response! They were called there to worship, and yet the text reveals they “saw God, and did eat and drink.” What a response! God came, and they had a banquet together.

At a certain time in the meal, God instructed Moses, “Come up before Me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tablets of stone…” Moses arose, and took Joshua with him (Ex. 24:13). God made it clear that Moses was to appear alone (24:2) and either Joshua stopped some distance away or was considered necessary by God to help Moses in and out of His holy presence. The text does not say clearly, and only Joshua, Moses and God know for sure. One thing is certain: Joshua learned an important lesson in his preparation to the lead the nation that day.

Having grasped that intercession by a leader was essential, it was obviously not the whole training course. Joshua saw something new at the mountain of God’s appearing. He learned a graphic lesson that Moses heard from Jethro weeks before this encounter. Joshua saw a picture of a communal team that honored God. He ate with the others, drank with them, and communed with them. He saw a team leadership formation in corporate worship. There is a time for personal time with God, but there is equally a time for team.

The passage not only stemmed any uprising concerning the veracity of God’s authorship of the commandments (some might have thought Moses was making the commands up on his own), but it also gave the elders the opportunity to commune together and feast and worship. What an important lesson: Leaders need to lock arms with other leaders. We are not called to be “Supermen” that face the forces of darkness alone, depending solely on our “superhuman” ability or even the work of the Spirit within. We need each other, and grow when we can worship corporately, not only individually. We are stronger in communion, not in “Lone Ranger” mode.

Moses learned this in a rebuke by an older priest and relative. Joshua avoided the painful experience of sapping his own strength and “burning out” by observing the incredible benefit of corporate strength. The team can worship together, eat and drink together, and help to strengthen one another! It is significant that we have no Bible record of Joshua hoarding power, nor of him taking on responsibility that God had not ordained. His record of leadership and delegation is impressive. He may well have grasped the lesson at a banquet on a mountain!

The Divine wisdom penned out in the words of King Solomon recall: “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they can have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, KJV)

Joshua’s training included the graphic display of the advantages Solomon later cited. The wise king reminds us ‘Together-

We can accomplish more, so the rewards are greater (Eccl. 4:9).

We can assist and rescue one another, so the endurance is greater (Eccl. 4:10).

We can comfort one another, so the encouragement is greater (Eccl. 4:11).

We can defend one another, so the strength is greater (Eccl. 4:12).’

Often leaders fall into the trap of believing their own press, subscribing to the affirmation of the positive view of their followers and not remembering their own weaknesses. It is part of the fabric of our makeup. We lead – they follow. We know – they don’t. It is a dangerous tendency to distance ourselves from the accountability that helps refocus and redirect us. We need other leaders. Joshua could have duplicated Moses’ mistake, but in this awesome display God accomplished another step in his training. It all happened at the buffet table on the mountain!

Exodus 17:8-14 Learning the Power of Intercession

Out of the story of the Amalekite attack in Exodus 17 came the first of seven great training lessons to the “Chief in the making” – Joshua. Moses faced a tough situation, and Joshua watched the solution unfold. He was able to pick out what any leader needs to quickly understand: Everyone can see the problem, leaders devise solutions. That is what the people needed, and that is what Moses provided. Moses focused immediately on the six things a leader must know to make good decisions, and Joshua got the benefit of seeing the lesson close up:

  1. Leaders must know the circumstances, the situation they are faced with. Nobody conquers a demon they don’t know about. Every significant move of a leader is preceded by an accurate assessment of the circumstances that they face. (17:8).

  2. Leaders must know the enemy they face. Sometimes reconnaissance is necessary to gain knowledge (Num. 13 and 14), as knowledge of the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses make all the difference in battle. Whether physical or spiritual, battles are won or lost often on the enemy assessment. Understand where and how an enemy will attack is essential to preparing defenses that will withstand his onslaught (17:9).

  3. Leaders must know their resources for problem solving. Foolish leaders tackle every problem on their own. Wise leaders assess their own team to meet the demand of battle (17:9).

  4. Leaders must understand that even the physical problems of God’s people are fought in Heavenly places. This is a critical area often neglected. Paul later addressed the physical disturbances to his work with the truth that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers” (2 Cor. 10:3ff). Moses didn’t need a simple head count and weapons assessment, he needed to bow before God and intercede for the battle. (17:10-13). The upward palms have long been understood by rabbis as a position of prayer. In the Hebrew world of long ago (as in Orthodox traditions today), prayers of supplication were symbolized by holding the hands palms up. In times of extreme need, the arms were lifted upward and palms were held up, a position probably referred to in the instruction of Paul to Timothy (1 Tim. 2:8). If understood in this way, there was nothing mystical about the hands of Moses, but POWER lay in the intercession of the leader. What a great lesson for any leader that gets caught up in the mechanics of the problem to the exclusion of the spiritual reality!

  5. Leaders must be good followers (17:9-10). Look at the unquestioning obedience of Joshua. Moses said, “Jump!” Joshua jumped. It is worth highlighting that Joshua was not prepared to lead if he was not prepared to follow.

  6. Leaders must acknowledge where true victory comes from. Note the instruction at the end of the battle (17:14). Joshua was to be brought in to hear the specific promise of God; He would cut off Amalek from the earth because of this attack. Joshua needed to hear it, and understand that any work that he would do in that cause was not his victory, it was God fulfilling His promise. Leaders need to feel responsible to faithfully execute the work of God, but not to own the work. It is God’s work, and we are privileged to be a part of it.

In the final analysis, Joshua needed to see the power of an interceding leader. The troops can do the work, but they will easily believe that it was at their hands that victory was attained –because of their skill, their ingenuity, and their power. They, of course, would draw the wrong conclusion. It is only an interceding leader that can see the truth.

Acts 2:37-47 The Measure of An Authentic Fellowship

In the 1990’s an author wrote in Stop Dating the Church: “We live an increasingly fragmented world. That mindset has infected the way we approach our relationship with God. Faith is (now) a solo pursuit. These days experts describe America as a nation of “believers” but not “belongers” – and the numbers confirm it. According to pollster, George Barna, while the adult population in America is increased by 15 percent during the nineties, the number of adults who either didn’t attend church or only went on major holidays increased by 92 percent.” Perhaps some of you noted in Acts 2:37-27 the six responses to the Spirit-empowered preaching of Peter that Pentecost morning:

 

  1. Rending(2:37) katanouso, “cut to the heart”. Where the pain of Christ is exposed, where the power of freedom from the darkness of Satan’s dungeon is clearly taught, there will be those who will be cut into deeply! 
  2. Requesting(2:37b) “What shall we do?” When the Gospel is clear, a choice is demanded. The lost who are now fully exposed to their lostness and lack of fulfillment will desire to know more! 
  3. Repenting(2:38) metanoeo, “repent” is meta: with, after or behind plus noeo-ponder, think. It is used 32 times in the NT and 14 by Luke. It was the preaching in Acts of Peter (2:38, 3:19, 8:22) and Paul (17:30 at Mar’s Hill, 26:20 before Agrippa II). It is a change due to reflecting on the truth one has heard.
  4. Realignment: (2:38) be baptized, from “Baptidzo”: Not to be confused with “bapto”. Christ said that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a unionwith him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle! 
  5. Reception: (2:38) receive the Holy Spirit. As with Jesus in the initiation of His ministry (John 1) the coming of the Spirit for empowering of the work was the key. 
  6. Recognition: (2:39) the promise, they understood the Words preached were the fulfillment of God’s Word, and that they were for their people both near and far. True salvation is not selfish. It is a message so thrilling, so life-changing, that it is impossible to truly contain.

So the people believed and followed (2:40-41). How could you tell? What could be done to measure the reality of their life change? Look carefully – Luke has recorded for us six descriptive experiences that were occurring in the lives of the first century Christians.

Note that all the experiences were perform WHILE DEVOTED TOGETHER (2:42).


  1. 2:42a – Instruction: (Greek: didache) 
  2.  2:42b, 46 – Participation: they “fellowshipped” (koinonia from koynos “common”), which included BOTH public and private (2:46) time with one another. The time included participating in the bread and cup, as well as prayer times together, praise of God’s goodness. 
  3.  2:43 – Manifestation: Leaders flowed with the power of the Spirit, manifest presence of God, and people reverenced and worshipped the God that made Himself known. 
  4.  2:44-45 – Contribution: Because they were together enough to know what others needed, and because they were surrendered enough to part with their things, God nudged them to care for one another as the needs became apparent.
  5.  2:47a – Attraction: “enjoying favor” of all the people, a spirit of freedom and joy sweeps away the selfish and complaining spirit that overcomes a group that has lost its focus and vision. When Jesus is lifted high, all others shrink in the scene. His sufferings and selflessness become the pattern of our intense focus. The other-person-centered life is attractive to a needy and harsh world, and we become a natural refuge for the hurting and lost.
  6.  2:47b – Evangelization: God added, because he could trust them to have His heart in focus.

Acts 2:1-36 Three "Timing Principles" of God's Empowering

What does God use to empower people today in their walk with Him? How can we know God’s power and use it for His glory? Our second part in a series on the Book of Acts will uncover the principles of God’s empowering work for believers both individually and in the “called out” group we know as the “church”.

I. Before – The Early Church Leaders Got Empowered Only After:


A) They were promised by Jesus (1:8; cp. John 16:8). B)
They were prayer-filled (1:14). C) They were peaceful (united, 1:14b; 2:1). D) They were prepared (1:26-2:1). Preparation involved: Obedience (1:4) and being at “full strength” (1:26).

The “Before” Principle: God empowers prayerful and obedient believers that are working together and ready for Him to control them to do a great work. God can use anybody in any situation, but the richest blessings are to those who follow this pattern!

II. During – The Early Church Leaders Got Empowered When:


A) God chose the time and place to suit His purposes (2:1, “Pentecost”). B)
God showed it was from Him because it was: 1) Consistent in appearance with His previous works (2:2-3) and 2) Consistent in purpose with His previous works (2:4-11).

The “During” Principle: God empowers believers in accord with His previously stated purposes in a way consistent with His past work.

III. After – The Early Church Leaders Found the empowering work:


A) Brought skeptical reactions in the world: 1)
Some were shocked and could not understand what God was doing (2:12). 2) Some mocked and thought it was a prank (2:13). 3) Others Needed clarification (2:14-41):

1.       With a Requirement: Only those who carefully considered the claims would grasp the meaning of the events (2:14-16)

2.       Using a Standard: The evidence for the validity was not their experience, but the promises of God’s Word (2:17-21).

3.       Offering a Message: The central message was the death, burial and Resurrection of Messiah the signs pointed to – not the signs themselves (2:22-28). This was consistent with God’s promises to David (2:29-31).

4.       By a Witness: The personal experience of the disciples led them to witness to what happened to Jesus (2:32-36).

B) Forced people to make a choice concerning the truth of Jesus (2:37-40). C) Pressed open the hearts of some hearers of the message (2:41-47).

C) Real responders:

1.       Went Public: Accepted the message and were public about their desire to change direction (2:41)

2.       Stuck by the Stuff: Committed themselves to understanding the Word of God and sharing their lives with the other believers (2:42;46).

3.       Were Expressive: Shared the joy and wonder of God’s work among them (2:43).

4.       Became Generous: Shared the things God provided for them with others (2:44-45).

5.       Got Loud: Praised God and enjoyed unity (2:47).

6.       Saw Growth: God added people to them (2:28).

The “After” Principle: God empowers believers when they commit to His truth, and they get the benefit of an exciting and powerful journey that attracts others naturally!

Acts 1: Questions to Pose before following a New Leader

Religious leaders often claim they are following God’s leading. How can we know? How does God lead people today? How can we know it isn’t just the manipulation of some leaders, or the misguided sense of some group that we may follow? As we begin a series on the Book of Acts, we will uncover the questions we can pose as we consider who should lead us spiritually:

Questions to Pose Before you commit to follow a leader:

Jesus intended to begin a work that continued in other’s hands when He left (Acts 1:1). Question: Is the nature of the ministry objectives of any leader that is claiming to be of God in harmony with the kinds of ministry Jesus BEGAN?

Jesus’ plan was exposed in His Spirit-empowered teaching to leaders that He chose to be His messengers (Acts 1:2). Question: Do people that claim to be leading us by God’s direction have a track record of both knowing the teachings of God’s Word and leading others to understand that Word?

Jesus spent time carefully instructing the Apostles, convincing them of His Resurrection with specific evidences for a period of time (Acts 1:3). Question: Do the people that would lead you spiritually have real and measurable time invested considering the claims of Messiah and are they convinced of the truth of the message?

Jesus instructed the men to remain at Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Spirit of God to empower them as the Spirit had empowered Jesus for ministry Acts 1:4-5). Question: Is the leader walking in obedience to the specific teachings of Jesus found in His Word?

The disciples, even after 40 days of intense training, were still not fully comprehending the program of God (Acts 1:6). Question: Does the leader have to be perfect in his understanding of the Word of God? No, but they do have to be humble enough to be open to the fact they do not know it all.

Jesus told the disciples not to put their emphasis on trying to decipher how God works, but to put their energy into reaching out with the Good News, and ministering both near and far simultaneously (Acts 1:7-8). Question: Is the leader consumed with a theoretical faith and a theological definition, while they seem reticent to minister the Gospel to people?

Jesus was lifted off the Mount of Olives, and the apostles stood in wonder gazing upward until some angelic messengers prompted them to go (Acts 1:9-11). Question: Does the leader have his head “in the clouds” with no sense of what God wants done in the here and now?

The Apostles returned to Jerusalem and met together in a room for constant prayer and unity together (Acts 1:12-14). Question: Is the leader divisive and self-willed, or does he show a willingness to work with others prayerfully?

The Apostles realized the need to replace among their ranks the leaders when they lost them (as the position of Judas was now vacant), and they sought the Lord about the hearts of each men, trusting God to lead them (Acts 1:15-26). Question: Do the leaders see themselves as accountable to one another, or does anyone feel “above the law”?