Deeper Christian Life Ministry – Search The Scripture 19 December 2021 (Lesson 1031)
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Topic: Full Participation For Maximum Benefit (STS 19 November 2021)
MEMORY VERSE: “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat” (Mark 6:31).
TEXTS: Matthew 14:13-22; Mark 8:1-9
Our Lord prioritises the spiritual welfare and well-being of His children above other things. No matter the level of their engagement in His service, He wishes that they prosper, be sound in spirit, soul and body (3 John 1:2) at all times and in all circumstances. Even now that the coming of the Lord draws nearer, the significance of our spiritual preparation and readiness for our home above demands more frequent and greater mention. It is not the will of God for any of His children and servants to be lost in the din, dung and duties of earthly pursuits. However, this can only be possible when children of God take out quality time to retreat and reexamine, reevaluate and renew their spiritual identities. To this end, it behoves the people of God to gather regularly at a dedicated location for the common purpose of listening to and meditating on God’s undiluted word with all solemnity, sincerity and sobriety. The retreat period is always a moment of unforgettable encounter with the Lord. It is always a time of concentrated and uninterrupted fellowship in His presence. Spectacular miracles occur and participants receive abundant blessings as they gather in the presence of the Lord (Ezekiel 34: 26; 1 Corinthians 2:9,10). The Lord has made all things ready for us as Christian leaders, workers, members and non-members of the church. He has provided in abundance all things that pertain unto life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). There will be salvation from sin, healing from sicknesses, deliverance from afflictions, and experience of holiness and the power of God. The Lord will saturate our lives with heavenly blessings to enable us run this race without getting weary; an end will come to the tyranny of the devil in the lives of the people. Therefore, this opportunity to assemble in God’s presence should not be wasted on end-of-year activities, business and commercial engagements or marriage ceremonies.
Question 1: Why is it important for believers to come together for uninterrupted teaching and hearing of God’s word?
COMMITMENT OF SINCERE SEEKERS (Matthew 14:13; 15:32; Mark 6:31-33•, 1 Kings Acts 8:26-39; John 12:20-23; Jeremiah 29: 11-13; Psalms 63:1,2; 27:4,8; Isaiah 45:19,22; Matthew 6:33)
Our text reveals the sterling quality of great commitment in the lives of the followers of our Lord Jesus Christ. “They were determined to seek His hallowed presence because of the attendant benefits. When “…he (Jesus) departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities” (Matthew 14:13). They followed Him to wherever He was going so they could hear the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth. Their action shows the extent to which people of purpose could go just to hear the sound word of God. Likewise, as believers in Christ, we should be ready to go as far as the Lord would have us go to hear His word and do His will. This might not always be easy or convenient, but it is a mark of commitment to the will of God.
Question 2: How can we identify sincere seekers of spiritual blessings?
It is easy to identify people seeking spiritual blessings and endowments, and those ready to pay the price to get to heaven. For Christ’s audience in our text, their commitment was reflected as follows: one, they “followed him on foot”; they were willing to travel the distance even if there was no vehicle to convey them. Going on foot might not always be easy because of the supposed labour involved, but these sincere seekers braced the challenge and got to where Christ was. Two, they were in the desert place outside the conveniences of their homes (Matthew 14:15). Comfort or none, all that was important to them was the teaching from Christ. Three, they converted the grasses to seats, not minding the uneasiness. Four, the passage also suggests that regular meals were not served. They endured temporary hunger since “…It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). Five, it is obvious that children and youths were in Jesus’ retreat in the wilderness. It follows then that parents should not leave their children and wards behind when they come for retreats. Some individuals in the Scripture travelled great distances in order to benefit from spiritual matters. Others forsook personal conveniences so they could seek the Lord’s face. The queen of Sheba heard about the wisdom of Solomon; curious, she came with her entourage to Jerusalem and went back home a satisfied woman. The psalmist sought the Lord’s face early. God will never overlook sincere seekers of His grace and blessings; He will surely step in to answer His people. It follows from the foregoing that the Lord expects every sincere seeker to demonstrate the same commitment by one, residing with Christ at the camp for the duration of the programme. Two, looking away from normal temporary inconveniences remembering that it is but for a few days. Three, paying full attention to the word of God and determining to obey them. Four, being focused on their individual needs — physical, spiritual, marital etc. — and praying for God’s touch on same. Five, if need be, individuals may decide to wait on the Lord. Six, spending quality time to pray. If all participants will adhere to these scriptural counsels, they will not miss the Lord’s visitation, but will receive His best.
Question 3: Mention some likely inconveniences we have to brace in order to get the best from our camp meetings.
THE COMPASSION OF OUR SUFFICIENT SAVIOUR (Matthew 14: 14; 8:1-9; Psalms 78:38; 111:4-6; 145:8-12; Matthew 20:34; Mark 1:40-42; Luke 7:11-17;15:17-22; Exodus 3:7,8; Deuteronomy 30:1-6)
The Saviour’s compassion reached out to the participants who attended the Lord’s retreat in the wilderness. “And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick” (Matthew 14: 14). Their sacrifice and focused disposition induced the compassion of Jesus and He healed their sick; delivered those who were oppressed of the devil; and fed them with His word. “And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34). No participant’s needs can escape His all-seeing eyes and compassionate heart, no matter the crowd. Sinners who are conscious of their need for salvation, backsliders who know they have wandered far away from their Saviour and Shepherd, sick folks who believe in divine healing, oppressed and afflicted ones who recognise the great Deliverer, will not be disappointed. The Lord cares enough to meet all needs (Psalms 78:38; 111:4-6). He was anointed and went about “doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil” (Acts 10:38). After His ascension, the Lord gave His Holy Spirit to His apostles and ministers to continue the destruction of the works of the devil. His anointed servants will be on ground to bring the blessings of heaven to all participants.
Question 4: Give instances of the manifestations of divine compassion in any of our previous programmes.
COOPERATION FOR SUPERNATURAL SUPPLY (Matthew 14:15-22; Mark 3:1-5; Exodus 15:26; 2 Kings 5:10-14; Job 36: 1 1; Isaiah 1:19; Jeremiah 7:23; John 2:1-11; 9:1-7; 11:39-44)
For the Lord to supply abundantly “all your need according to his riches in glory”, there must be divine- human partnership. It is expected that every participant cooperates with God and His appointed servants who will be sent to convey His love to us (2 Chronicles 20:20). In order to receive abundantly from the Lord, participants must ensure, first, that their participation is not only physical, but with all their faculties. “Those whose attentions are elsewhere might miss vital messages and scriptures that hold the solution to their problems. Second, participants must come in full assurance of faith (Hebrews 4:15, 16; Philippians 4: 19) knowing that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 1 1:6). Third, participants must avoid distractions from all quarters — fellow members, acquaintances, friends, family members, church workers, business partners, etc. Four, they must brace up for the temporary and minor inconveniences and set their focus on the higher goals of receiving eternal benefits. Fifth, they must set apart time to pray and seek the face of the Lord for all their needs — physical, spiritual, material, marital, financial and academic. Above all, the Lord expects obedience to His word and various instructions that will bring His blessings on our lives. Obedience brings blessings. Naaman had a great problem in his life and could not solve it despite his great position in the Syrian army. But when he obeyed Elisha’s simple instruction, “…saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (2 Kings 5: 10), he obeyed and got his miracle. Also, when the pots of wine were empty at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, the simple command was, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” (John 2:5).
Question 5: Why is it important to obey the Lord and His anointed servants?
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