Wednesday, October 23, 2013

LifeShape Prayer & Discipleship Module 4 – The Future Block 4 – Heaven

Gtcotr/ws102313

This life block is designed to be an initial and very simple introduction to heaven. We could spend the rest of our lives learning all that has been revealed about this wonderful place and still not exhaust its comprehensive expanse and glory. Thankfully we will have a whole lot more time than merely our earthly life to explore heaven’s grandeur. However, in the time we have together now; allow me to begin our study on the adventure called heaven.

The word “heaven” is used 551 times in the KJV of the Bible. On top of that the place and purposes of heaven are mentioned hundreds of more times and referenced from Genesis to Revelation with great expectations for the future.

What we most often intend when we talk about heaven is the place where God lives and where we want to go when we die. This is totally the right definition of heaven. Heaven is where God lives and carries on the operation of the universe. Heaven is where God has established His throne and where He speaks from, receives prayers into, dispatches angels from, and welcomes His children into when they die and leave planet earth. That is the heaven we all know and look forward to enjoying.

However, when we read the word “heaven” in the Bible, it is not always referring to that place where Jesus is presently seated at the right hand of God’s throne. In fact, there are 3 distinct heavens spoken of in the Bible.

Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished …

We can clearly see the scriptures referring to heavens as being plural in the creation. But, how do we arrive at the understanding of 3 heavens?

2 Corinthians 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a one was caught up to the third heaven.

·        The first heaven is the air we breathe - the atmosphere of earth held under the canopy of our sky. This heaven is separated from the expanse of the universe that we know as space or the heavens.

Genesis 1:8  And God called the firmament Heaven.

Luke 21: 33  "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

This first heaven is the heaven that will pass away when the earth melts with a fervent heat.

·        The second heaven is what we see when we look up at the heavenly bodies of planets, stars and galaxies in outer space

In Psalms 8 David considered the sun and moon and all the heavenly handiworks of God. In Genesis 15 God told Abraham to number the stars of heaven – the heaven he could view from earth which stretches beyond our understanding and contains the stars we see at night.

God is the creator of those heavens and they praise Him. I have no idea what was or is intended for them. (We hear that the universe is continually expanding at the speed of light. Perhaps one of the reasons is because, as far as we were told, God said let there be light and He did not tell it where to stop. I suppose Light has continued to spread in all directions from that time creating that heaven.)

·        The third heaven is God's abode. It is where God’s Angels and saints who have passed on, reside and prepare for the end of this world and the beginning of the next.

Isaiah 66:1  Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool.

This is where Jesus lived with God before He became flesh and blood as the incarnate Son of Almighty God. And it is where He ascended to so that He could spend time preparing a house for us so that we could live with Him eternally as His bride. (Acts 1:11; John 14:1-3; Revelation 21:2;9ff)

For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. (John 6:33 NKJV)

Jesus came down from heaven to be born of a virgin and save souls.

Key Scripture

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (I Thessalonians 4:16 NKJV)

Jesus ascended back into heaven and is coming again from heaven soon.

Heaven is more real than our temporary existence on earth. Heaven is eternal but we are not meant to live there forever. Heaven is a temporary residence for the souls of God's children until He cleanses the earth of sin and begins a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness.

God gave us a picture of His will for man on earth from the first 2 Chapters of Genesis. One day we the redeemed will begin that world once again. In the mean time, between Genesis 3 and Revelation 22, we are in a parenthetical moment of God dealing with rebellion in heaven and sin on earth. During this time God welcomes and rewards His children in His eternal abode until all things have been made ready, the marriage supper of the Lamb enjoyed, all rebellion abolished and every rebel banished.

Our earthly hope is heaven - our heavenly hope is a new earth.

Heaven will one day be the place where the judgment will occur before God's throne. The devil and his angels along with the souls of every man and woman who refused the blood of the Lamb of God will be cast out from God's presence forever. Only those who are covered by the blood of Christ will be given entrance into the eternal Messianic Kingdom and live with Jesus in the city of New Jerusalem on a new earth without sin, sickness, poverty, pain, worry or fear forever and forever.

Heaven is also the place where our thoughts, intents, and actions will be revealed and rewarded. Great rewards will be given some and others will have nothing to offer God and the Lamb who saved them and redeemed them from eternal destruction. There will be so many sorrows and tears that God will give special time for them to dry before continuing with His plan.

Some may say: I don't want or need rewards ... Just getting into heaven will be reward enough. To quote a dear friend and scholar:

“To place little value on what heaven says has great value insults the very Lord who offers these rewards.” (David Shibley – Living as if Heaven Matters)

A casual attitude towards the prized rewards of heaven could be considered an insult and an offense to God. You see, Heaven is not a reward - heaven is our Father's home and we are welcomed there not by reward but by grace. No works can grant one entrance into God's presence or His palace - it is by grace and grace alone. We are given sanctuary in His presence because we are family. Rewards however, are earned. It seems they are very important to God and they should therefore be to us.

How can we consciously be on our way to God's home and take Him no gift.

Important Points
1.  Our citizenship is in heaven.
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Philippians 3:20 NKJV)
2.  We have a family in heaven.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (Ephesians 3:14, 15 NKJV)
     3. Heaven is a temporary place of man's residence. Not because it will pass away but because we will one day live again upon the earth.
     4. Heaven is not a reward but a welcomed entrance into our Father's house.
     5. Your eternity depends on heaven.

Supporting Scriptures     Colossians 1:16; 3:1-3
Genesis 22:11             Deuteronomy 10:14    2 Chronicles 18:18

Jeremiah 23:24           Psalms 119:89            Revelation 21:1

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

LifeShape Prayer & Discipleship Module 4 – The Future: Block 3 – Death & The Grave

Gtcotr/ws101613

Death is a fact.

The Bible says; “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,”
(Hebrews 9:27 ESV)


We don’t prepare for death – spiritually or otherwise

…and yet it is the one event common to all humanity

All of us will face it. We try to dress it up.
We try not to think about it. We push it to the back of our thoughts.

Statistically, very few of us even make a basic plan relating to our death – less than half of adults in America actually make out a will.

A survey in 2007 revealed that about 55% of all adult Americans do not have a will. Of those, only 32% of African Americans and 26% of Hispanic Americans had wills.

Another survey in 2012 showed approximately the same percentage. Also in the 2012 survey, 63% did not know what would happen to their digital assets…online passwords and accounts, ebooks, etc.

I would encourage everyone to seriously engage in some estate planning, obtain life insurance, get your wills done or updated, develop a business succession plan, etc, and don’t forget about including the church and the kingdom of God in your estate giving!

“for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” (1 Timothy 6:7 ESV)

It has been said that it wasn’t until the late 1960’s that the medical community began to become more aware of the need for supporting the dying and grieving from a psychological perspective. The seminal work of Elizabeth K├╝bler Ross published in her book “On Death and Dying” after interviewing hundreds of patients for many years and the development of her now well known “stage theory” of grief helped many come to grips with death and grieving and counsellors to give needed support, perspective, and comfort. While not universally accepted, the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) are certainly identifiable, experienced by many, and are useful for patients and counselors alike.

Now there is a greater proliferation of grief counseling available. In fact, next week here in Beaumont, there is a training session on supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through life ending illness, grief and loss.

Life Expectancy in the USA
The average life expectancy in the USA in 2011 was 78.7 years. In 2011, the age adjusted death rate for the United States was 740.6 per 100,000 people. Hispanic females had the longest life expectancy.

The state of Hawaii had the lowest death rate, and Mississippi the highest.
States in the Southeastern region (OK, AR, LA, MS, AL, TN, SC) had higher death rates, along with KY, IN and WV.

Causes of Death
The leading causes of death in 2011 for ages 1 through 44 were accidents, homicide, and cancer.  For ages 45 to over 65, the leading causes were cancer and heart disease, with heart disease taking the lead for the over 65 group. 

Key Scripture: 1 Cor 15:55 “O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”


Before we understand more about death, we have to understand what man is—

We need a Biblical view of human nature .

The Judeo – Christian view of human nature holds that man is not an eternally pre – existent being, but is a conscious, immaterial soul which is a separate entity from the body (mind – body dualism) that will live on in eternity after physical death. The soul, which is not the same as the brain, uses the brain and body to communicate with the natural world. Man has various characteristics that distinguish his nature from the rest of the created order such as posture, larger brains, articulate speech, cumulative cultural traditions, aesthetic appreciation, and religious expression.

Why death?

Death was not part of the natural order or cycle intended by God – it is the curse for disobedience.

“but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.””
(Genesis 2:17 ESV)

Death passed on to all men, because all sinned because Adam sinned.
Death entered the world through sin. Death is part of the curse of sin.

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—”
(Romans 5:12 ESV)

“But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”
(Romans 8:10 ESV)

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
(1 Corinthians 15:20–22 ESV)

Death encompasses the entirety of man’s makeup:
The curse of sin involves physical, spiritual, and eternal dimensions.

The wages or payment for sin is death – physical, spiritual and eternal.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Romans 6:23 ESV)

As Michael Horton says; “As it is, after the fall, we are dying from the moment we are born.” (Pilgrim Theology, Zondervan 2012)

Death is called “the last enemy.”

“For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
(1 Corinthians 15:25–26 ESV)

What happens at death? What is death?

Physical death is variously represented in Scripture.

It is spoken of as:

- as the death of the body, as distinguished from that of the soul, Matt. 10: 28; Luke 12: 4,

- as the termination or loss of animal life, Luke 6: 9; John 12: 25

- as a separation of body and soul, Eccl. 12: 7; Jas. 2: 26.”
It is never an annihilation, but may be described as a termination of physical life by separation of body and soul.

Louis Berkhof (2013-04-30T05:00:00+00:00). Summary of Christian Doctrine (Kindle Locations 2309-2313). Kindle Edition.

Berkhof on the nature of man and death:

“…according to Scripture, physical death is a termination of physical life by the separation of body and soul.”

“For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”
(James 2:26 ESV)

Death is also described in the Bible as an “exodus” that involves departing from your body. Luke uses the term when he writes about the experience on the mount of transfiguration – Moses and Elijah are speaking to Jesus about His “departure” – the greek word used here is “exodus.”

“And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”
(Luke 9:29–31 ESV)

Peter uses the same word and also uses the metaphor of “the removal of his tent”:

“I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off (gk – removal) of my body (gk..tent) will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure (gk-exodus) you may be able at any time to recall these things.” (2 Peter 1:12–15 ESV)

“Death is not a cessation of existence, but a severance of the natural relations of life.”

Louis Berkhof (2013-05-08T05:00:00+00:00). Systematic Theology (Kindle Locations 15076-15079). Kindle Edition.
In Pastor Ron Hammond’s oft-used illustration, our body is an “earth suit” for our soul (our mind, emotions, and will) that gives us legitimate expression and communication on this earth. Once the earth suit dies, we no longer have a way to express ourselves, communicate or to exist in the natural world. All continue to exist after death, but in another plane, in heaven for believers in Christ, or in hell.

““The two words ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ are used interchangeably. Death is sometimes described as:
- a giving up of the soul, Gen. 35: 18; 1 Kings 17: 21
- sometimes as the giving up of the spirit, Luke 23:46; Acts 7: 59.

The dead are in some cases named “souls,” Rev. 9: 6; 20: 4,
in others, ‘spirits,’ I Pet 3:19; Heb. 12:23.

The two terms of spirit and soul denote the spiritual element in man from different points of view.

As spirit it is the principle of life and action, which controls the body, and as soul it is the personal subject, which thinks and feels and wills, and in some cases the seat of the affections.”

Louis Berkhof (2013-04-30T05:00:00+00:00). Summary of Christian Doctrine (Kindle Locations 784-788). Kindle Edition. (editing mine)

At death, the souls of believers immediately enter God’s presence and enjoy direct fellowship with Him.

“Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
(2 Corinthians 5:8 ESV)

“And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.””
(Luke 23:42–43 ESV)

(Paradise is heaven) - “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—” (2 Corinthians 12:2–3 ESV)

For Christians, death is not to be met with fear, but with joy, because of the prospect and promise of going to be with Christ.

“in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalms 16:11 ESV)

“as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”
(Philippians 1:20–24 ESV)

Physical Death cannot separate us from God’s love
For I am sure that neither death… nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Romans 8:38–39 ESV)
The Bible uses analogical and metaphorical language to describe a number of things about God and His relationship with man, including death.

 The Bible likens death to ‘sleep’ in a number of cases:

One reason sleep is used as a metaphor for death is because death is viewed Biblically as only temporary for Christians, just as sleep is temporary.
The Souls of the Dead are Conscious not sleeping

When a Christian dies, they are immediately present with the Lord.

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6–8 ESV)

““Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep.” (John 11:11–13 ESV)

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:8–10 ESV)

“My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (Philippians 1:23 ESV)

Revelation tell us that at some point there are souls of martyrs under the altar in heaven – souls that are speaking, praying, communicating with the Lord.  They are in heaven and not in the ground, and they are not unconscious or sleeping.

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”” (Revelation 6:9–10 ESV)

Jesus said his Father is the God of the living, not the dead.
“But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”” (Luke 20:37–38 ESV)

Moses and Elijah were talking with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration – they were in recognizable form, and were able to communicate with Jesus and he with them. (Matthew 17)


What about other false ideas about death?

-      Naturalism/Materialism

The teaching of Scripture is that man was a direct creation by God, made a “living soul” by breathing into the body the breath of life.

We are not a mere collocation of random atoms that by sheer chance evolved into the highest order on earth.

True materialists cannot say that they care for anything or anyone, nor for life itself and still remain intellectually honest.

-      Universalism / rejoining the universal soul

Individual souls matter to God.  Jesus died for a humanity of individual souls who EACH must make their choice to believe and obey the Gospel.

-      Reincarnation

Death seals the eternal state.  Scripture knows nothing of returning as a fly or a beetle if you were sinful in your life. You cannot pay off your old sins in the next life because you too busy committing new sins in your current life!

For believers, a greater life awaits.

Those in Christ will be made alive.

Christians have a “blessed hope” – a confident assurance beyond the grave, because Jesus himself conquered death, and will reign until death is completely done away.

“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
(1 Corinthians 15:12–26 ESV)

Through his sacrifice on the cross, Jesus destroyed death and delivered us from the bondage of the fear of death.

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Hebrews 2:14–15 ESV)




The Story of The rich man and Lazarus

-      2 distinct, and fixed destinations
-      Were conscious of their environment – one a place of bliss, the other of torment
-      Neither could cross to the other
-      Could see, communicate, feel
-      Expressed concern for family
-      Rich man was not repentant

““There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried,and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’””
(Luke 16:19–31 ESV)

           





Important Points
1.   When we die our soul does not simply go to sleep and await the resurrection.
2.   Death separates the soul from the body.
3.   When separated from the body, a believer’s soul is immediately present with the Lord.
4.   The grave holds a believer’s body until the resurrection.
5.   Death has no victory and the grave loses its sting in Christ.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

LifeShape Prayer & Discipleship Module 4 – The Future - Block 2: Dreams & Visions

Gtcotr/ws100913


Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho, pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea, which by the way holds the distinction of being the largest Church in the history of Christendom thus far at one time boasting an active membership near 1,000,000 people, says that “dreams and visions are the language of the Spirit.”

In his seventies, Dr. Cho set new goals for his church, which included a decade committed to the establishment of 5,000 satellite churches and 500 houses of prayer. Dr. Cho is an example of what God can do with the future through those who believe in dreams and visions they see which other cannot yet see.

Joseph, the son of Jacob, was also a man of dreams and visions.

Genesis 37:5 Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more.

At this point in Joseph’s life, he was 17 years old and near last in a long line of brothers. Joseph had no claim to the inheritance or the covenant of his father. Yet Joseph dreamed a dream that encouraged him to believe that one day he would lead his whole family. At the time, this seemed impossible, yet the Holy Spirit bore witness to Joseph in a dream.

When Joseph was 17 years old he spoke about his dream, later in his life, Joseph’s dream spoke about him.

The scriptures tell us God knows the end from the beginning. His way of communicating with us concerning the future is often done through dreams and visions. The prophet Joel spoke of a time when God would interact with His children by pouring His Spirit out upon all flesh.

Key Scripture: Joel 2:28
“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.

This began to be fulfilled at Pentecost, just seven weeks after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. When bystanders questioned what they were hearing, the Apostle Peter responded:

Acts 2:16-18
16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.

LUKE WRITES THAT PETER ACTUALLY REVERSES THE ORDER OF “YOUNG MEN” SEEING VISIONS AND “OLD MEN” DREAMING DREAMS IN COMPARISON TO THE JOEL PASSAGE.

THIS MIGHT BE INDICATIVE OF SOMETHING, AS IN ACTS, PRIMACY IS GIVEN TO VISIONS RATHER THAN DREAMS.

(ONE SCREEN PLEASE)
VISIONS IN ACTS:

-      ACTS 9 – SAUL CONVERTED
-      ACTS 10 – CORNELIUS
-      ACTS 10 – PETER
-      ACTS 16 – PAUL
-      ACTS 18 – PAUL
-      ACTS 23 – PAUL
-      ACTS 27 – PAUL


The Holy Spirit’s interaction with us often produces dreams and visions to aid us in our understanding and our approach to what God wants in our future. Even Job, in his pain filled dilemma of life, was encouraged by a friend to hear that God opens our ears and seals our instruction while we sleep at night, having dreams and visions (Job 33:14-15).

Every dream is not given by God as Solomon revealed when he said that some dreams come because we have been so busy minded. However, many dreams are given to us by God so that we can:

·       Know how to pray
·       Know what to do
·       Understand what will happen in the future

Not every dream comes to us at nighttime nor do visions always open spiritual portals into future events. Some do, however, many can merely be spiritual impressions which speak to our heart, strengthen our faith, and lead us forward.

When we receive some strong spiritual impression, a dream in the night, or a vision we feel is connected to our future, we must always do our due diligence to make sure it bears witness to the word of God before using it as a cause for pursuit. The Holy Spirit will never violate the word, the will, or the way of God. Make sure your dreams and your visions line up with God’s Word, His purpose, and His ways before you act.

SIMEON, FOR EXAMPLE, HAS REVELATION ABOUT THE MESSIAH, AND COMES INTO THE TEMPLE, AND SPEAKS OVER JESUS A PASSAGE FROM ISAIAH.

THIS PROPHETIC WORD DIDN’T JUST COME OUT OF NOWHERE. HE WAS FAMILIAR WITH THE SCRIPTURES.

+ VISIONS, DREAMS, REVELATION CAN BE PRIMARILY FOR YOUR BENEFIT
         FOR EXAMPLE – PAUL SPEAKING OF HIS BEING CAUGHT UP TO THE THIRD HEAVEN – THE CHURCH AND BELIEVERS WOULD PROBABLY ONLY INDIRECTLY BENEFIT FROM IT, AS HE WAS UNABLE AND NOT PERMITTED TO TALK ABOUT IT.

+VISIONS, DREAMS AND REVELATION CAN BE FOR BOTH YOUR PERSONAL AND OTHERS BENEFIT
         EXAMPLE – THE LORD’S ENCOURAGEMENT TO PAUL IN CORINTH TO KEEP ON PREACHING DESPITE ONGOING RESISTANCE AND POTENTIAL HARM FROM PERSECUTION.

+VISIONS, DREAMS AND REVELATION ARE OFTEN GIVEN IN THE CONTEXT OF EVANGELISM – FULFILLING THE COMMAND TO PREACH THE GOSPEL AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS.
         EXAMPLE – ACTS 16 – AFTER PAUL SHARED HIS VISION OF GOING TO MACEDONIA, HE AND HIS TEAM TOGETHER CONCLUDED THAT GOD HAD CALLED THEM TO PREACH THE GOSPEL THERE.

+SOMETIMES GOD HAS TO MAKE THINGS CLEAR – EVEN WHEN THEY COME BY DREAMS AND VISIONS, PROPHETIC SPEECH OR OTHERWISE:

Phil. 3.15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

+SOMETIMES WE CAN HAVE RECEIVED REVELATION AND NOT EVEN BE AWARE OF IT:
PETER HAD TO BE TOLD HE HAD RECEIVED REVELATION FROM THE FATHER!
Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.


2 QUICK EXAMPLES OF VISIONS AND THEIR EFFECTS AND LESSONS:

ACTS 9:  A VISION DOESN’T MAKE YOU OR GIVE YOU EVERYTHING


SAUL ON THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS – SEES JESUS
         -LEFT HIM CONVERTED & CALLED
         - LEFT HIM BLIND AND IN NEED
         - HE STILL NEEDED DISCIPLING AND DISCIPLES:
                
ANANIAS BROUGHT PAUL:
-      UNDERSTANDING
-      CONTEXTUALIZATION
-      SCRIPTURE
-      HEALING
-      BAPTISM
-      INFILLING OF THE SPIRIT
-      LAYING ON OF HANDS

BARNABUS – ABOUT 12-14 YEARS LATER GOES AND GETS PAUL AND HELPS HIS MINISTRY IN THE LOCAL CHURCH AT ANTIOCH – WHICH BECAME PAUL’S SENDING CHURCH FOR HIS MINISTRY.



EXAMPLE 2



ACTS 16 – PAUL’S SECOND MISSIONARY JOURNEYPaul's Second Missionary Journey from ESVStudy Bible map-44-08.jpg
Paul's second missionary journey Google Earth.jpg




ACTS 16:
-      PAUL AND SILAS WITH TIMOTHY, EVENTUALLY LUKE
-      GO THROUGH Phrygia and Galatia (basically modern Turkey)
-      Saw believers in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and probably Pisidian Antioch
-      They were stopped by the Spirit from speaking in Asia
Minor

Verse 7 – Forbidden by the Spirit of Jesus to preach at Bithynia (yet Bithynia was evangelized later – 1 Peter 1:1, Peter writes to believers there, and around 111 A.D., Pliny the Younger, the then governor of Pontus/Bithynia writes to Emperor Trajan about how to handle the persecution of Christians.

Verse 8 – through Mysia and down to Troas by the sea

Verse 9 – Paul receives a vision from the Lord – sees a man from Macedonia saying “come over and help us.”

***NOTE:  A VISION DOESN’T MEAN THERE WON’T BE ANY MORE WORK TO DO!!!

***THEY HAD TO GET ON A BOAT, STOP OVERNIGHT ON THE ISLAND OF SAMOTHRACE, THEN ANOTHER DAY AT SEA. WHEN THEY GOT OFF, THEY HAD TO WALK ABOUT 10 MILES TO GET TO PHILIPPI.

THEN THEY HAD TO FIND PROSPECTIVE PEOPLE TO HEAR THE GOSPEL.

THE FIRST FOLKS THEY PREACHED TO ON A SABBATH WERE NOT MACEDONIAN MEN AT ALL – THEY WERE WOMEN, JEWS AND GENTILE PROSELYTES TO THE JEWISH FAITH THAT WERE MEETING DOWN BY A RIVER!


Important Points
1.   God is a Spirit and He interacts with us on a spiritual plane.
2.   God knows the future and often desires to make us aware of it.
3.   Dreams and visions are the language of the Spirit.
4.   The Holy Spirit will never violate the Word of God.
5.   Ask God to speak to you about the future and what you should pray and do to accomplish His will.