God is always calling you!

God is always calling you! Believe it or not; accept it or not! God is always searching for His lost sheep to restore them in relationship with God. Too often we are not listening like Samuel, we ignore God’s calling to pursue other temptations. But God is always calling you to Him; slow down and listen!



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God is always calling you!

Lesson 2:

God was thinking about you long before you were thinking about Him. God is calling us all of the time; the only problem is that often we are unaware, we’re too busy, and ignore God’s calling.

1. Some of us answer the calling immediately; these people are truly blessed.

2. Some of us need to be told over and over, we need to be called many times before we even recognize that God is even calling us.

3. And then there are some who are so deaf to God’s calling that God has to literally strike us with a life-threatening bolt of lightening to get our attention!

When Jesus called his first apostles they came immediately and without hesitation:

16As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17”Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 18At once they left their nets and followed him.

19When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Mark 1:16-20 NIV



To me this is amazing; dropping their nets and immediately and following Jesus! How often do we drop whatever we’re doing and follow Christ? At the beginning of my faith journey with Christ dropping everything, giving everything up, completely trusting in God was unimaginable, difficult to comprehend, and almost unconceivable! We are self-centered and selfish by human nature. Surrendering ourselves to God and Trusting in God is often a lifelong struggle with God. Why? Why? Why?



At the other end of spectrum is Saul/Paul who had to literally be struck by lightening to get his attention!

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples…. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Acts 9:1-9 NIV



Paul the Worst of Sinners

If Jesus can use Paul, Jesus can use you!

And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.

(Stephen)
Acts 8:1

Paul was an Apostle of Jesus, he originally was named Saul. Paul was the prolific author of the New Testament and authored (or it is attributed to Paul) 13 books of the Bible: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Paul is very much responsible for bringing Jesus to the gentiles and spreading Christianity throughout the world.

It is hard to believe that originally Paul persecuted Jesus and early Christians. Paul is often marked for being responsible for the stoning (death) of the Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

Saul began to destroy the church.

Acts 8:3



“This man

(Paul) is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings,
and before the people of Israel.
I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Acts 9:15-16 NIV


Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes,
and he could see again.
He got up and was baptized.

Acts 9:18 NIV


At once he began to preach in the synagogues
that Jesus is the Son of God.
All those who heard him were astonished....

Acts 9:20-21 NIV




I have declared to both the Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. - Acts 20:21 NIV


I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. - Acts 20:24 NIV




The Lord's Grace to Paul

13Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
1 Timothy 1:13-16 NIV

The Lord’s Grace to Paul gives us great Hope, that even though we are sinners, even if we are the “worst of sinners” that Jesus loves us and if we come to Christ in repentance, Christ will forgive us even though we are still sinners! No one is beyond the Grace of God; no one is beyond redemption. Anything is possible through God. God’s love, grace, forgiveness of sins, and salvation all come through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Now he began to pray after another manner than he had done;
before, he said his prayers, now, he prayed them.

- Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary


Graciously Free Spiritual Formation Group





Out on a Limb

Zacchaeus the Tax Collector

1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

7All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' "

8But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."

9Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
Luke 19:1-10



Jesus wasn’t just passing through, Jesus, like his Father is always about, working, looking, seeking workers to work in His fields (Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard Matthew 20:1-16). Jesus was looking for Zaccheus and Zaccheus was looking for Jesus. If you seek Jesus – you will find Him! Jesus was looking for Zaccheus even though he was a sinner, a hated tax-collector/Roman collaborator, considered to be a dishonest traitor to the Jewish people, extorting higher taxes than required for his own personal selfish gain!

Zaccheus literally “went out on a limb” for Jesus. Zaccheus was a small man in stature, when Jesus was passing by, Zaccheus climbed up a Sycamore tree to be able to see Jesus over the crowds of people. Zaccheus may have looked silly to the crowds up in a tree, but Zaccheus didn’t care (much like Bartimaeus when he called out to Jesus as the crowd rebuked him). Zaccheus is an example of how sometimes a Christian may look silly and ridiculous to non-believers. Following Jesus may not be following the crowd or be popular. Jesus is always calling sinners to repentance.

Repentance is when we stop and turn around, to turn away from sin, to turn toward Christ, to follow Christ, and to be imitators of Christ, to be Christ-like, to continue our faith journey following, listening, obeying, and serving Christ.

The grumblers were very similar to the crowds in Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. These grumblers were judging Zaccheus harshly. They felt that Zaccheus was a “Sinner” not worthy to come to Jesus. They felt that Zaccheus had done nothing to deserve, merit, or earn this Grace, which Jesus was bestowing upon him.

We should always be thankful that God does call us to Him (Prevenient Grace) even though we have done nothing to deserve, merit, or earn this Grace, this Gift of Love. Jesus is a Friend to Sinners. TBTG.



Zacchaeus the Tax Collector story is very similar to the Calling of Levi/Matthew (they were both tax-collectors). The calling of Levi/Matthew is in all three of the Synoptic Gospels:

The Calling of Levi;
The Calling of Matthew;

Matthew 9:9-13
Mark 2:13-17
Luke 5:27-31

The Calling of Matthew

9As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples.

11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

12On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Matthew 9:9-13

Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary: Zaccheus



The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Luke 15:3-7;
Matthew 18:12-14

3Then Jesus told them this parable: 4"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Luke 15:3-7 NIV



God does not leave any “one” behind.

Are YOU a lost sheep? This parable tells of God’s love for YOU and the great rejoicing in heaven over the repentance of just one sinner…YOU! In business losing one out of one-hundred could be considered an acceptable loss, just shrinkage, and a profit loss of just 1%. But to God the loss of just one sheep is an unacceptable number to loose. God wants to find ALL of His lost sheep!


“I am the good shepherd;
I know my sheep
and my sheep know me.”

John 10:14 NIV

Remember, Jesus is the “Good Shepherd”
who lay down his life for his sheep.

“...and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
John 10:15 NIV

“Greater love has no one than this,
that he lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13 NIV

This is how we know what love is:
Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

I John 3:16 NIV



Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary: Parable of the Lost Sheep






Bible Basics... Layers of Understanding YouTube Video:
"Jesus, The Good Shepherd"
with Adagio for String by Samuel Barber.
This is a very nice mellow meditative video.





The Good Shepherd
Power Point Presentation
By Bible Basics





"Here I Am Lord, Send Me."

To hunger for use and to go unused...
is the worst hunger of all.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Matthew 5:6
From The Beatitudes Gospel of Matthew 5:1-10

I find it hard to relate with the first disciples, who came immediately when called but I’m not quite so hardheaded that I have to be hit with lightening to get my attention. I have always been hardheaded, though. As a child I had to be told many times “to wake up,” “to get dressed,” “to get ready for school,” “to eat my vegetables,” “to do my homework” “to go to bed” and “go to sleep.” If my parents told me once they told me a million times.... Even today I hit the snooze alarm again and again! For me it is not surprising that God has called me many times before I ever paid attention and listened; I can relate well with the Calling of Samuel:



The LORD Calls Samuel

1 Samuel 3:1-19 NIV

1 The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.

2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the LORD called Samuel.

Samuel answered, "Here I am." 5 And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." So he went and lay down.

6 Again the LORD called, "Samuel!" And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." "My son," Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down."

7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD : The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

8 The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."

Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!"

Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

11 And the LORD said to Samuel: "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them.

14 Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, 'The guilt of Eli's house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.' "

15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the LORD. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, "Samuel, my son." Samuel answered, "Here I am."

17 "What was it he said to you?" Eli asked. "Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you." 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, "He is the LORD; let him do what is good in his eyes."

19 The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD. 21 The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.
1 Samuel 3:1-19 NIV


YouTube Evangelsim - Here I am Lord, Send me.


Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary: The Calling of Samuel


FLASHBACK

Hannah Dedicates Samuel

21 When the man Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vow, 22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, "After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always."

23 "Do what seems best to you," Elkanah her husband told her. "Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the LORD make good his word." So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.

24 After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. 25 When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, "As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. 27 I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD." And he worshiped the LORD there. 1 Samuel 1:21-27 NIV



What is amazing is even though Samuel lived in the synagogue and was literally raised up in the synagogue by the head priest Eli; Samuel did not know God. Even though Samuel lived in the synagogue he was not familiar with God. Samuel went through all of the motions and ceremonies of the faith but Samuel did not have a relationship with God.

How often are we right in church, going through the motions and the ceremonies, but we do not see, recognize, or hear the Word of God. Just going to church is no guarantee of true faith! What are the many similarities and truths with Jesus Calms the Storm? (Mark 4:35-41)



The Woman Taken in Adultery

Gospel of John 8:1-11



1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

"But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. "10Jesus straightened up and asked her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11"No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."



The Woman Caught in Adultery. This sin cannot be committed alone, so the question arises as to why only one offender was brought. The incident was staged to trap Jesus (v 6), and provision had been made for the man to escape. The woman’s accusers must have been eager to humiliate her, since they could have kept her in private custody while they spoke to Jesus. NIV Note 8:3

Caught in the act Compromising circumstances were not sufficient evidence, as Jewish law required witnesses who had seen the act. NIV Note 8:4

to stone such women. They altered the law a little (to suit them). The manner of execution was not prescribed unless the woman was a betrothed virgin (Dt. 22:23-24). And the law required the execution of both parties (Lev. 20:10; Dt.22:22) not just the woman. NIV Note 8:5

using this question as a trap. The Romans did not allow the Jews to carry out death sentences (18:31), so if Jesus had said to stone her, he could have been in conflict with the Romans. If he had said not to stone her, he could have been accused of being unsupportive of the law. NIV Note 8:6

let him be the first to throw a stone at her. Jesus’ answer disarmed them. Since he spoke of throwing a stone, he could not be accused of failure to uphold the law. But the qualifications for throwing it prevented anyone from acting.

Without sin. The phrase is quite general and means “without any sin,” not “without this sin.” NIV Note 8:7

Began to go away. Because they were not “without sin” (v.7), the older ones. They were the first to realize what was involved.. But all of the men were either conscious-stricken or afraid, and in the end only Jesus and the woman remained. NIV Note 8:9

Woman Not a harsh form of address (cf, its use in 19:26)

3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.

The Pharisees brought the woman to trap Jesus. Adultery cannot be committed by just one person; the man was allowed to escape but the woman (more defenseless) was humiliated. and dragged out into public in disgrace.

· This shows how the Pharisees who pretended to be so reverent and knowledgeable of the law were so willing to break the law that they professed to love.

· This also shows a double standard, a great inequity, which disadvantages women still to this day!

· It is also an example of how the strong and powerful can overpower and overwhelm the weak. - The law is so the powerful will not devour the weak.

· The whole world may be against and condemn you; but Not Jesus Christ!



Where the story ends... our lesson begins.

Who is left at the end of the story?

Think about it!

Who is left at the end of the story? Just Jesus and the woman. Jesus is a Friend to sinners. When the whole world was against the woman, when everyone, including the religious leaders, the Pharisees, wanted to judge and stone the woman to death… Jesus who is not of this world, stood with the woman when everyone else had judged and abandoned her. Jesus is the Friend of sinners.


Jesus could have cast the stone, for he was sinless; but he was more concerned with the rehabilitation of the sinner than with seeing the Law meticulously satisfied. If his word, “Neither do I condemn thee,” sounds to lenient, it is balanced by the sequel, “Go and sin no more.” The Searcher of Hearts saw that there was penitence in the heart of the woman. All that was needed was a warning for the future.
– The New Testament and Wycliffe Bible Commentary




Jesus may not condone your behavior but Jesus loves you... the person. Just like a loving parent may scold a child for doing something wrong; they still love their child.

Jesus could have thrown the stone at her for He was the only one “without sin,” for Christ is sinless. BUT…

For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world
to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.


John 3:16-17

The Woman Taken in Adultery is a graphic illustration of God’s unconditional everlasting love, grace, and forgiveness for us – The Sinner – and that Jesus IS the Friend of sinners who accepts us just as we are, where we are, and at any time! Jesus did NOT come into this world to condemn us but to save the world; TO SAVE US!!! With a repentant heart we can all come to Jesus.

A Sinner's Prayer

Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary: Woman Taken in Adultery





What a Friend we have in Jesus

Text: Joseph M. Scriven, 1820-1886
Music: Charles C. Converse, 1832-1918

What a Friend we have in Jesus Hymn

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!

what peace we often forfeit, what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

(The last verse on not included in the Methodist Hymnal.)

14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. – John 15:14-16

THE CYBER HYMNAL ™ Dedicated to the Glory of God THE CYBER HYMNAL



Ask, Seek, Knock

“Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened for you.
For everyone who asks receives;
he who seeks finds;
and to him who knocks,
the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8
Luke 11:9-10



An open Bible is an open door.
Prayer is a stairway to Heaven.



Open Hearts * Open Minds * Open Doors



Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary: Ask * Seek * Knock



Unfortunately many unbelievers on the outside of the church believe that churches DO NOT have open hearts, open minds, and open doors, and unfortunately sometimes this is true! See: Modern Day Pharisees.



God Answers

...for the LORD searches every heart
and understands every motive behind the thoughts.
If you seek him, he will be found by you....


1 Chronicles 28:9 Adapted


The Lord is with you when you are with him.
If you seek him, he will be found by you,
but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.

2 Chronicles 15:2 Adapted


I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.

Proverbs 8:17


"I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, 'Here am I, here am I.'

All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations.
Isaiah 65:1-2 NIV


I will answer them before they even call to me.
While they are still talking about their needs,
I will go ahead and answer their prayers!

Isaiah 65:24 (New Living Translation)




29 But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him.
Deuteronomy 4:29-30


19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
Revelation 3:19-22 NIV



Devotional Reflections from the Bible is a truly wonderful website that I recommend! The "Devotions by Bible Reference" section is wonderful!

Answered Prayers Here is a series of Bible Devotions discussing answered prayers. Do you find yourself asking, why do my prayers go unanswered? Let us take some time to see what the Bible says about prayer, and some specific times when a prayer was answered.

Please check out God's Will - Wellness at
http://www.godswill-wellness.com/index.html

In Gods will for us is wellness-nothing missing, nothing broken. Come to a place of understanding the kingdom of God, Christian living and walking with God daily. As your soul prospers- prosper in all things be in health 3 John:2. Websites teaching Christian Beliefs & inspirational Bible verses.

Next: Understanding the Bible

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