Tag: Faith

Christ Teaches Appreciation—Man Healed of Leprosy

Living in the Image of God M02S11

Interactions with a man healed from leprosy convey a message that God expects a recipient of favor (benefit provided by others) to appreciate the favor, appreciate the benefactor, and appreciate God for empowering the benefactor. Further, he expects the recipient to show appreciation by giving testimony. Also, his expectation of a favor recipient is the same even for those that could claim the favor as an entitlement. The man was one of ten healed in the event but he alone returned to give thanks. Christ criticized the nine but acknowledged the one and confirmed his faith had healed him.

Christ Teaches Appreciation—Man Healed of Leprosy 7:56

We discuss Christ interactions with a man healed of leprosy to understand that God expects appreciation from every recipient of favor (i.e., benefit provided by others) and expects the recipient to show appreciation by giving testimony. Even if the favor is done to fulfill an entitlement, God expects appreciation and testimony from the recipient. As we discuss previously in Understanding Appreciation, appreciation means thankful recognition of benefits received, the human provider of the benefits, and God that empowers the provider. Testimony regarding appreciation provides opportunity to share the information with others and inspire them (especially the benefactor) to do more likewise.

The man was one of a group of ten men that Christ healed from leprosy during the event. However, only the one man (a foreigner) returned to give thanks. The other nine did not return. Jesus criticized the nine for failing to return to show appreciation, notwithstanding they could claim to be entitled to the favor because they were Jews from Israel. We learn from his criticism that their response differs from what God expects of a favor recipient. In contrast, his interactions with the one man that returned convey a message that appreciation and testimony regarding appreciation are important to God.

Appreciation pleases God. He wants every recipient of favor to appreciate the favor, appreciate the benefactor, and appreciate God for empowering the benefactor. Furthermore, he wants the recipient to show appreciation by giving testimony. Also, his expectation of a favor recipient is the same even for those that could claim the favor as an entitlement.

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Christ Teaches Appreciation—Woman with Persistent Bleeding

Living in the Image of God M02S09

Interactions with woman healed of persistent bleeding indicate testimony and appreciation are important to God as opportunities to initiate long-term benefits to an increasing population. The woman was healed privately by touching Jesus and could have gone home without interacting with the public if healing her was the only important outcome. However, Jesus stopped activities until she testified publicly and showed appreciation. Her appreciation and testimony were important for motivating her and others to hunger and thirst for righteousness, thus initiating benefits of the healing that potentially could reach countless others.

Christ Teaches Appreciation—Woman with Persistent Bleeding 8:15

The bible provides two events from which we can discern Christ teaching on appreciation. In each event, his teaching on appreciation is conveyed through interactions with a healing recipient. The current study focuses on his interactions with a woman healed from persistent bleeding. The woman was healed privately by touching Jesus. However, after the healing, he provided opportunity for her to testify and show appreciation publicly. After she testified and showed appreciation, he declared that she was healed and released her to go in peace.

The woman could have gone home in peace without interacting with the public after she was healed privately by touching Christ’s garment. However, there was more to her healing that Christ wanted her to share with every person.

We discuss the interactions to understand that her appreciation and public testimony were important for providing an opportunity to initiate the long-term benefits of her healing. As we discuss in a previous study under Call to Appreciation of Compassion, her appreciation would motivate her to be good to others that would, in turn, motivate yet others to do likewise. Furthermore, her public testimony would inspire others to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Thus, her appreciation and public testimony were an opportunity to initiate benefits of the healing that potentially could reach countless others over endless time.

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Benefits of Living in the Image of God

Living in the Image of God M01S06

Building faith by Living in the Image of God arises from commitment to God’s purpose and recognizing that your every task or battle belongs to God and he will guide you to complete his tasks and accomplish his goals. Furthermore, “Living in the Image of God” makes you a beneficiary of God’s promise of blessing proclaimed in the Beatitudes and illustrated in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. Every blessing you earn is yours to keep until fulfilled.

Living in the Image of God Module 01 Session 06 (6:46)

Living in the Image of God begins with commitment to God’s purpose and living according to the commitment. A person builds and strengthens faith by Living in the Image of God—based on recognizing that every task or battle belongs to God and he will guide you to complete his tasks and accomplish his goals. Furthermore, in the Beatitudes, Christ proclaims God’s promise of blessing for every person that commits to the responsibilities of representing God in human interactions: through humility toward others, compassion, motivation for righteousness based on commitment to God’s purpose, and acceptance of individual responsibility for peace and righteousness irrespective of what others do or fail to do. Also, Christ describes the blessing further in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, using compassion as an example for Living in the Image of God.

Thus, faith building is the primary benefit of Living in the Image of God. The other benefit is the promise of blessing proclaimed in the Beatitudes (see Resources for Living in the Image of God and Human Responsibilities in Living in the Image of God) and illustrated in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (see Call to Compassion—Parable of the Sheep and the Goats). We discuss Living in the Image of God as a basis for faith to make a case that a person builds faith of God by committing to God’s purpose and living accordingly.

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Miracles and Human Work

Faith as Driver of Human Effort

God sees and encourages human work and will intervene with a miracle as he considers necessary. If your motivation and methods and approach are consistent with Living in the Image of God; then focus on doing what you can humanly do, because your battle belongs to God and he will guide you to victory. We discuss these principles based on Christ interactions with the disciples in their encounter with two storms. Both ended in miracles. However, he scolded the disciples in one and encouraged them in the other. Differences between the two help us understand human relationship with God regarding faith, human work, and miracles. Also, we examine David’s motivation and faith in his victory over Goliath. He focused on doing what he humanly could and received a miracle to end the battle.

In a storm
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Map showing Sea of Galilee
Map showing Sea of Galilee
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We conclude our study series on Following God’s Schedule with a discussion of human relationship with God regarding faith, human work, and miracles. We begin with a discussion of Christ interactions with the disciples in their encounter with two storms on the sea of Galilee. Both storms ended with a miracle. However, Jesus scolded the disciples regarding their behavior in the first storm but encouraged them in the second storm. We examine the different interactions in relation to the behavior of the disciples during the storms to understand that God encourages human work that is consistent with his purpose; is aware of the human effort; and will provide a miracle as needed based on his consideration.

Calm after a storm
Calm after a storm
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The study leads to an understanding of the basis for faith as a driver for human effort. If the motivation for your effort is consistent with God’s purpose and you are committed to methods and approach consistent with the principles of Living in the Image of God, then the battle belongs to God (see Following God Schedule by Living in His Image). Therefore, he sees your effort and wants you to succeed. He will determine if you need a miracle and what, when, and how. Therefore, focus on doing what you can humanly do—with faith of God intervening as necessary according to his schedule.

We use this understanding of basis for faith to examine David’s famous victory over Goliath. He was motivated to fight Goliath to remove a “disgrace to Israel” due to Goliath’s defiance and confirm that Israel’s army was the “army of the living God.” He expected victory because the battle belongs to God, focused on fighting as he humanly could, and won victory by a miracle that manifested through his human effort. God sees your effort in human work, wants you to succeed, and will intervene with a miracle as he considers necessary.

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Human Relationship with God Regarding Work

Guidance Faith Work and Miracle

Would you end 2018 understanding that God defines work for every person, divides the work into task increments, initiates each task, and provides the person guidance to proceed and complete the task on time? Christ explains and illustrates this relationship through interactions with a man born blind. Each task, if completed, leads to a miracle and ushers in the next task. To receive and complete your tasks, you need to stay connected to God: by praying continually, interacting with other believers in fellowship, and living in the image of God. You will receive his guidance, follow with faith, and complete each task on time to receive your miracle and guidance for the next task.

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Jesus teaching
Jesus teaching
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We invite you to end 2018 learning from Christ’s teaching on human relationship with God regarding work, through interactions with a man born blind. Christ uses the interactions to lead us step by step through an illustration of the relationship. Apostle John provides an account of the teaching and illustration in the first 39 verses of chapter 9 [John 9:1–39]. In the teaching, Christ explains that God defines a work mission for every person, divides the work into task increments with a performance time for each, initiates each task, and provides guidance for the person to continue and complete the task on time. Each task completed on time results in a miracle and ushers the person onto the next task.

The mission for the man born blind appears to be to start proclaiming the gospel message to all, using his life experience as physical evidence that Jesus is the Messiah and to illustrate the work aspects of human relationship with God. He performed the mission in task increments as God guided him. The biblical account describes the first three tasks and the beginning of the fourth. We describe the three tasks using a sketch format to emphasize the relationship they illustrate.

Each task description identifies an objective, initiation, instruction, outcome, and miracle.

Task Objective represents the purpose to be accomplished through the task. The objective of a task could be identified at the end of the task but is usually not obvious at the beginning. For example, when Christ told the blind man to “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” [John 9:7], he did not tell the man the objective was to gain sight.

Go to pool of Siloam and wash
Go to pool of Siloam and wash
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Task Initiation represents something that God does to get the task started. For example, Christ anointed the man’s eyes with moist clay before giving him the instruction to go and wash in the pool: “He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay” [John 9:6]. We encountered an example in a previous bible study under Peter Escapes from Herod’s Prison, when an angel released Peter from prison and left him outside the prison gates to complete his escape from King Herod. God’s initiation of a task is at times contained in the miracle of a previous task. Anointing the man’s eyes with moist clay appears symbolic to illustrate task initiation by God. If all he wanted was to heal the man, he could have accomplished that just by touching him and pronouncing the healing.

Task Instruction represents a specific command to do something. God gives the recipient an instruction to do something: either a clear and direct instruction as in Task 1 or an instruction that becomes evident with the unfolding events as in Tasks 2 and 3.

Task Outcome describes the result of a task and includes a miracle.

Task Miracle Every task includes a miracle with the outcome. The miracle is an aspect of the task outcome that could not have happened through human effort alone.

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Human Responsibility in Adversity—Example from Paul

Perseverance and Diligence through Faith of God

Having received God’s promise of a positive end to his persecution, Paul persevered through subsequent trials and presented his case diligently while showing respect for others, authority, and due process. His interactions during the period reinforce our understanding that faith of God’s intervention motivates human effort and should encourage us to have patience and work diligently while relating to others in accordance with our commitment to worship and serve God in every situation.

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Transferred to Caesarea under high security
Transferred to Caesarea under high security
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Our study series on Responding to Adversity continues with a discussion of Paul’s response to events in Jerusalem and Caesarea following Christ’s promise that the persecution will take him to a positive end in Rome. The events began with a conspiracy in Jerusalem against Paul’s life, his transfer to the governor’s custody in Caesarea, and subsequent trials before the governor. Paul persevered through the events with patience and showed respect for authority and due process through his interactions with Roman commander Claudius Lysias, Governor Felix, and Jewish representatives constituted to make a case against him in Caesarea. He responded to relentless persecution by defending himself diligently while respectful of other persons, authority, and due process (i.e., in a way to uphold the meaning of his commitment to worship and serve God in every situation).

Paul’s interactions in these events convey a special meaning because he had received a promise from God that the persecution will take him to a positive end in Rome: “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” [Acts 23:11]. His interactions following the promise show a motivation to do what he could to defend himself against his accusers, convince relevant authority that he did nothing wrong, and do these while showing respect for authority and due process. His actions provide a message that faith of God’s intervention motivates perseverance and diligence. That is, the promise of God’s intervention should make a person evaluate every situation to determine what needs to be done and apply best effort toward doing it, because God may often fulfill his promise through what we do.

Angel releases Peter from prison
Angel releases Peter from prison but leaves him to flee from Harod by himself
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As we discuss in a previous bible study under Peter Escapes from Herod’s Prison, God provides input to solving our problems but expects us to apply human effort in order to be prepared and positioned to accept his input. Because the nature and timing of his intervention are generally not known a priori, we have to seek solutions by doing what we can with faith of God intervening at his chosen time and in his chosen way.

Paul received God’s promise that his persecution will take him to a positive end in Rome, but did not know how or when he would go to Rome. However, he knew he had a promise from God and will get to its fulfillment by applying his human effort and relating to people with humility and respect.

In jail despite postponed judgment
In jail despite postponed judgment
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Therefore, he persevered through the crisis, worked diligently through the trials, and did so while respectful of others in a way to uphold the meaning of his commitment to worship and serve God in every situation. Also, we have encountered similar response in adversity through previous bible studies such as under Living to Receive God’s Intervention and Mordecai Triumphs Over Adversity. Each of the examples illustrate a person persevering through adversity by working diligently to resolve problems, relating to others in accordance with the principles of living in the image of God, and arriving at a glorious fulfillment of God’s promise.

We discuss the relentless persecution of Paul and his interactions with the authorities and his accusers during the period following his encounter with Christ while in detention in Jerusalem.

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Shunammite Woman Overcomes Adversity

Compassion, Faith, and Persistent Prayer

The Shunammite woman’s compassion for a stranger led her to man of God Elisha, who prayed for her so she was blessed with a son. Later, when the son died unexpectedly, her unwavering faith and persistent prayer by Elisha restored the son to life. Subsequently, she lost her home and land while living abroad to escape a seven-year famine. However, all her losses and more were restored because she was a living testimony of Elisha’s work. On two occasions she lost something she treasured but her loss was restored in full each time because of unwavering faith and persistent prayer.

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We continue our study series on Responding to Adversity with a discussion of interactions between the Shunammite woman and Prophet Elisha, among other (third-party) participants. The interactions began with the woman’s compassion toward a stranger that turned out to be Prophet Elisha and continued with the woman receiving an unexpected but welcome blessing through the birth of a son.

Map showing Shunem and Mt Carmel
Map showing Shunem and Mt Carmel
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However, the blessing appeared to turn into adversity when the son died after a brief illness. She responded with unwavering faith that she expressed in part by seeking out Elisha at Mount Carmel and insisting that he return to his “sanctuary” at her home in Shunem to ensure her son was restored to life. Elisha obliged, returned to the sanctuary, and prayed persistently until the child came back to life.

Several years later, the woman lost her home and land when she and her household relocated to a foreign land to escape a seven-year famine. However, when the king realized she was a living testimony of Elisha’s work (the woman whose son was restored from death), he ordered full restoration of everything she lost while she was away. Therefore, on two different occasions, the Shunammite woman lost something she treasured but the loss was restored in full because of her unwavering faith, human effort, and persistent prayer.

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Gift of Competence—Unbounded for Human Effort with Faith of God

Daniel invoked competence of God, verified to the satisfaction of king Nebuchadnezzar, interpreted his dream, and won the king’s acknowledgement of the power of God. The interactions confirm our understanding that competence is a gift from God, includes capability of verification to win human confidence, and is unbounded as God extends it as necessary to accomplish his purpose.

Gift of Competence - Daniel Interprets Dream
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We discuss interactions between Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar, regarding Daniel’s first dream interpretation for the king, to extend our understanding that competence is a gift from God. His gift of competence includes the capability of verification to satisfy human standards and win others’ confidence in one’s ability to apply the competence to their benefit. Human demand for verification of competence is well illustrated by King Nebuchadnezzar demanding the dream interpreter first tell him his dream so he can rely on the interpretation.

Also, we learn through the interactions that God’s gift of competence is unbounded. He extends competence as necessary to accomplish his purpose.

Cut out but not by human hands
Cut out but not by human hands
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The example from Daniel illustrates that God extends human competence to accomplish an objective consistent with his purpose. Daniel’s recognition that he could rely on the unbounded competence of God defined a clear contrast between him and the Babylonian diviners. The diviners declared the king’s demand impossible to satisfy because they relied solely on human competence [Daniel 2: 11]: “What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.” In contrast, Daniel recognized that human competence derives from the unbounded competence of God and urged his friends “to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon” [Daniel 2:18].

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Conflict Resolution Example from Daniel

During his early years of captivity in Babylon, Daniel and three compatriots faced an internal conflict with fulfilling their commitment to worship and serve God while being obedient to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king had allotted them a daily ration of food and wine from his supply as part of their preparation to enter his elite service. However, Daniel believed the royal diet would compromise his relationship with God but also recognized he owed obedience to the king and his officials. We study Daniel’s interactions with the king’s staff to understand his approach to negotiating a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

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We begin a bible study series based on the experience of Daniel and three compatriots, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-Nego), during their captivity in Babylon. This first session in the series focuses on understanding Daniel’s approach to peaceful resolution of a conflict triggered by the king’s diet requirement for Daniel and his friends.

Royal diet offer
Royal diet offer
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The king had placed them on a diet based on daily allotment from his own supply of food and wine to support a healthy and robust appearance as part of their training for the king’s service. However, Daniel believed consumption of such food or drink would compromise his relationship with God but also recognized he owed a duty of obedience to the king and his officials. He negotiated a peaceful resolution based on substituting a diet of vegetables and water for the king’s delicacies. Thus, he and his friends remained obedient to the king without engaging in any practice that could compromise their commitment to worship God.

The study provides opportunity to discuss some guiding principles of Christian mediation. As we discuss in a previous study under Christian Basis for Mediation: Part 2 of 2, Christian mediation requires a commitment to peaceful resolution motivated by God’s promise of blessing for peacemakers [Matthew 5:9]. Also, successful mediation often will include seeking knowledge and understanding of the facts and a resolution based on respect for the facts. Daniel’s approach to resolving the conflict appears based on similar principles and consists of the following.

  1. He was motivated to resolve the matter peacefully.
  2. He showed knowledge of the chain of command and recognized who had authority for each decision needed to resolve the conflict.
  3. He had faith of God providing a resolution but recognized the need to apply his human knowledge and capabilities while seeking God’s resolution.
  4. He identified the stakeholders and determined their expectations and how the expectations could be satisfied simultaneously.

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David Called to Mission—Messaging Child through Parent

David’s father sent him on an errand to check on his senior brothers at the battlefield and report their conditions back to him. While on the errand, David encountered the challenge of Goliath and transitioned into a mission to kill Goliath, lead Israel to victory over Philistines, and establish himself as future leader of Israel. God called David to the mission by prompting his father to send him on the fateful errand. Through the mission, David teaches all people: if you pledge to worship and serve God and live according to the pledge, then God will be your God and will lead you to victory over every enemy or weapon set against you.

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Shepherd boy called to mission
Shepherd boy called to mission
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We examine the events leading to David’s confrontation with Goliath and draw an example to illustrate that God may send messages to a child through normal parent-child interactions. The study continues our series on understanding that God sends messages to children through their parents. We have identified three categories of such messaging based on previous sessions. In the first category, typified by the Call of Samuel, the message is clear to the parent and consists of information that the child should implement himself/herself with parental guidance. For example, Eli understood that God wanted to speak to Samuel and instructed him on how to respond. The second category consists of a clear instruction to a parent to implement for his/her child. For example, in Instruction to Parent for Child, we discuss God’s revelation to Rebekah regarding relationships between Jacob and Esau. The third category consists of messages delivered as part of normal parent-child interaction with neither the parent nor the child recognizing at the time that the information is a message from God. For example, in Joseph Called to Mission, we discuss Jacob sending his son on what he believed was an ordinary errand that we now understand as God calling Joseph to a special mission to Egypt.

David the slinger
David the slinger
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The current study discusses another example in the third messaging category. The example is based on events leading to David’s confrontation with Goliath. We discuss an understanding that the events illustrate God prompting a parent to pass information to a child that becomes a pivotal input to the child’s development. David’s father, Jesse, sent him on an errand to check on his brothers in the battlefield and bring back information about their condition. The errand took David to his encounter with and triumph over Goliath, leading Israel to victory when they feared defeat, and establishing himself as a future leader of Israel.

We see remarkable similarities between the call of Joseph to the Egypt mission (Joseph Called to Mission) and the call of David to battle Goliath. In each case, a father sends a child on an errand to check on senior brothers and report back to the father, the child runs into an obstacle on the way but presses on toward completing the errand, and the child confronts a situation that transforms the errand into a long-term mission of much greater significance. The events appear designed to provide opportunities for us to learn about clarity of parental communication and the importance of a child listening to the parent with intent to understand and implement the parent’s information.

Also, based on David’s encounter with Goliath, we learn about applying human effort with faith of God intervening in his own way and time through what we do at the human level. David triumphed over Goliath using weapon that would have been inadequate by any human standard. We examine his actions to identify what he did that could have contributed to his effectiveness against a formidable enemy.

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