GreatER Series: “Open My Eyes”

Text: Ephesians 1:18-21 “18. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19. and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20. he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21. far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”

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  • What is the greatest threat to us (God’s people) living in the Greater?
    Contentment with living in and with the just plain ordinary. Once we settle for “this is it” and lose our zeal and passion to pursue Greater, the hope of living in it is all but gone. To be content with ordinary is not the same as being content with what you have or where you are. In this sense, we are talking about being content not living out God’s purpose for your life. We are not talking about not having joy despite circumstances. Peace with ordinary is to roll over and play dead to life. Why would you do that when you want more? When you are designed for more? When there IS MORE out there for you?
  • Maybe the REASON some of us feel SURROUNDED BY OPPOSITION as we try to live for God is that we are surrounded by or with THE WRONG PEOPLE.
    Bad company does corrupt good character. The saying that one bad apple spoils the bunch didn’t come from nowhere. If you are not careful, that company that you keep because they’ve always been there may very well drag you into a life well below what God intended for you. Most of us are simply carrying too much dead weight to really take off into Greater. How can you, when you have these friends who add nothing to your life’s purpose or direction or advancement dragging you down at every turn? The truth is we keep some people around because we are not ready to face the responsibility of being or living Greater. These people are comfortable and safe… but they are also killing you slowly, honey.
  • True or False: The people who have significant input into our lives shape who we become and what we will do. TRUE
    Be careful. Be intentional. Be bold. Too often, we are very laid back about the space and access we allow people in our lives. But remember that your life and your destiny are on the line. Who you allow in and what they bring to the table or take away will have lasting and often resounding impact. It may not seem like a big deal to keep a friend or two or conflicting beliefs, until one day you look up and you not only don’t mind their beliefs, but you make allowance for or condone them. Look for people who have something you desire to cultivate in yourself. Look for people who will challenge you. One of the greatest threats to us meeting our great expectations so to speak is the knowledge that to do so will mean rejection and oppostion. We’d rather bypass that. But if you are going to live in your Greater, there needs to be somebody in your life that you submit to; someone who can tell you about you–right or wrong.
  • What are four critical questions we must ask ourselves to see if someone should be put out of our lives for a season or altogether?
    1. Who in my life leads me to attitudes or actions outside of what God prescribes in His word?
    2. Who leaves me drained rather than empowered after a typical conversation?
    3. Who keeps me thinking smaller rather than helping me dream bigger?
    4.Who constantly asserts that what I’m trying to do for God will not work?
  • Besides NEGATIVE people, we will also face an army of DISTRACTIONS AND COMPETING IDEAS, VALUES, INTEREST AND EVENTS. Who (of course) is behind this?
    Satan is the mastermind of mediocrity. He works tirelessly to keep you from receiving the truth about you into your spirit. He keeps you busy doing “things” so you can’t hear or answer the “call”. He keeps you talking to yourself so you won’t be able to distinguish the voice of God from your own random thoughts. He keeps you up at night doing things that don’t feed you spiritually, all the time “proving” that you don’t have time for God… so you sqeeze him in.
  • Especially powerful point: If you want to be surrounded by God’s MIRACLES we have to come to terms with the fact that we will be surrounded by God’s ENEMIES. (2 Kings 6:8-20)
    Story: Picking up where we left off in 2 Kings, we find Israel at war with Aram. Elisha, being the man of God, is given divine knowledge of the plans of the King of Aram and everywhere the Aramaens plan to attack Israel, the king of Israel has already been warned by Elisha and has prepared. The king of Aram is enraged and believes there is a traitor in his group, but no. He is told Elisha, camping in Dothan, is the source of the prophecy and the king of Aram sends men to capture him under the cover of night. Elisha’s servant awakes and discovers they are surrounded. Elisha tells him not to worry–they are not outnumbered. There are more with Elisha than are with his opponent. Then he prays simply “Open his eyes that he may see.” When the servant looked again, the hills were filled with horses and chariots of fire. And as he watched them descend the hill, Elisha prayed that they be blinded and the servant bore witness to the event. So that when they reached the bottom, Elisha was able to tell them that they had not arrived at the road or city they had intended (tricking them). Then he led them calmly into the hands of the king of Israel in Samaria, where he prayed again that their sight be restored.
  • In order for us to be greater, we have to SEE what God SEES instead of our LIMITED PERSPECTIVE.
    If you cannot see yourself out of a situation or better than your circumstance, how can you ever expect to ascertain it or to strive for it? In order to become whom God has destined you to become you have to see the destiny. You have to believe the destiny is a possibility within your capability and not just wishful thinking. You have to see beyond your own scope of thinking or vision and look with God’s eyes at where he is taking you.
  • God sees something MORE than we see. Even when we don’t know so, WE REST IN THE REALITY THAT GOD SAYS SO.
    To live in a GreatER life, you must judge your life based on what God says about you, and nothing else. Nothing else defines your life or you, for that matter. You need to develop a “Daddy says I am mentality” and believe everything he says about you… everything he promised to you… everything available to you. Your esteem of yourself in God is critical to you living out the GreatER life. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. HAVE NEVER BEEN ALONE. WILL NEVER BE ALONE. GOD HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERE.
  • How should we interpret Ephesians 1:18-21 about how God sees us?
    It is a reminder of the power that we already possess. Our issue is that we don’t tap into it. We let the enemy punk us unnecessarily. We wait until we’re in the enemy’s corner before we try to use our power. 
  • True or False: We live by what God sees and says, which allows us to open our eyes to God’s power and potential. TRUE
    Moral: Step out in your mighty strength!!!
    Pursuing God’s purpose is exhilarating and terrifying. You can tell how valuable you are to the kingdom by the lengths to which the enemy will go to take you out.
    But you need to make up in your min and in your heart, I AIN’T GON’ BE PUNKED NO MORE!!
    Elisha prayed only that the servant’s eyes would be opened… that he would see what was already there. The miracle was not a sudden appearance of people, but rather the servant’s sudden ability to see clearly what had been present all along.
    TD Jakes gives the illustration of a man in a car having a wreck because there’s an insect in the car, so he goes to swinging at it. Be careful you don’t crash your car swatting at gnats and mosquitos. FOCUS!!! Focus on what matters. Focus on your true strength and not on your troubles, obstacles, hurdles or issues. FOCUS on the source of your strength and step out in your power.

GreatER Series: “Where Did It Fall?”

February 14, 2013 was my first visit to Tabernacle Baptist Church. I knew that first night that this was the church God was sending me to. Knew it. No questions. And I wept like a baby to know that God loves me, His people, enough that if we thirst after knowledge He will send a teacher. That very first bible study had me writing so fast I could barely keep up with the thoughts in my mind or the lesson being taught. I promised the Lord to spend more time meditating on the word and on what I’ve been and am being taught. To help me do that, I have decided to keep my notes on this blog as a way to share and to retrieve later.

Not that it matters terribly, but I want to give a little bit of a key to reading these bible study notes. Pastor Goodman provides handouts that leave blanks for us to fill in as he goes. The words that I have filled in to his notes are CAPITALIZED and in BOLD FACE. My thoughts as occurred to me during the lesson or thereafter are in italicized type.

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Text: Proverbs 24:16 “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.”

  • On the path to GREATER, we can lose out SPIRITUAL MOMENTUM and begin to BACKSLIDE into the realm of the ordinary.
    Our momentum slips away in the things of life, the everyday realities. We become beholden to and satiated by the humdrum regularity of life.
  • GREATER is not an AUTOMATIC, PERMANENT position, it’s an INTENTIONAL decision.
    Life is not on cruise control. Expect delays, but be intentional every single day, to meet your great. DO NOT be pacified by complacency. Contrary to what some may believe it is completely normal to lose your edge in the course of the day, in the course of life, but you can’t be willing to simply let it be lost.
  • What story in 2 Kings 6 illustrats this lesson of “losing our edge”?
    Story: In 2 Kings verses 1-7, we find Elisha “in the company of propehts” (NIV) and they say to him that there meeting place is no longer adequate for them–it is too small. They suggest going down to the Jordan where there is plenty of lumber (trees) to build something more suitable. The man of God agrees with both the suggestion and to go with them. As they are cutting down the trees to build their new meeting place, one of the prophets (notice: this is not an endentured servant, a tax collector, or something… this is one of God’s men in the midst of a menial but necessary work) swings his axe and the axe head falls off into the river. He cries out “It was borrowed!” Elisha asks the prophet “Where did it fall?” and once the place is pointed out, Elisha throws a stick in the water and the axe head simply floats to the top.
    Observation: Sometimes in life you will be in a place where you are simply doing what you have to do, not what you are called to do. Your life is not all miracles and wonders, healings and prophecies, dancing and teaching. Day to day living still has to take place. Even in the presence of the man of God, of Elisha–whom the hand of the Lord was clearly on–it was possible for the prophets to lose their “edge”. The same is true of you.
  • True or False: God is only present for our epic showdowns and life-altering crises. FALSE
    Of course God is there for us in the trying times! But we serve a God who is just as available in the everyday things. He wants to be Lord of your whole life, not just your trials, not just your ministry gift. He wants to be in every facet of your life. He’s always present, even when seemingly “nothing” is going on or when just the ordinary is happening. It is in those ordinary moments, where we without thinking, exclude God from our lives and find our edge slipping away.
  • What is the first step to getting our edge back?
    You have to realize that YOU can’t get it back yourself. Once you’ve discovered it’s lost you have to go BACK WHERE YOU LOST IT to retrieve it. The man of God asked the prophet “Where did it fall?” It is too easy to just ask God to give us our anointing, our zeal, our power, our thirst back. But Elisha is showing us here that you have something to do in regaining your edge. You need to acknowledge that it is lost and you need to pinpoint where the edge was lost. There is real value in finding that spot because you can learn something about yourself–what distracts you, what attracts you, what has your attention, where you have a weakness. The prophet points to the river… not the ground, the bushes, the trees. Ain’t no need in you looking on the ground for your edge when you lost it in the river.
  • What is God’s expectation of us as we recover our lost edge?
    That we do the work it takes to know where to look. God can’t(?) restore your edge until you show him where to look. Once you show him, he is willing to defy gravity (make the axe head float) to put your edge back within your grasp. (Notice: all Elisha did was make the head float… that prophet still would have had to retrieve it. Don’t be lazy in seeking your edge. Know that there is some work expected in getting it back.
  • What principle does the text (Proverbs 24:16) teach us?
    The righteous is going to find himself in moments where he is not where he should be, where he is going through the motions, where he is discouraged, where he has even gotten away from unshakable faith in God, but he can be restored. Truly all is not lost. Proverbs 24:16 tells us that we can get back up, we can get back in the fold; that we don’t have to fall apart at the realization that we are in trouble. (Trust me: if you are out trying to do the work of the Lord without your “edge”, you are in trouble.)
  • What is our proper response to losing our momentum in daily life as we chase after God’s Greater?
    Don’t give up. God can bring your edge back as many times as you need it. As many times as you can show him you have lost it. As many times as you can ask. Our prayer is “Lord, help me get back to the place where I belonged to you.”

Extra gem from bible study: If you ever skip over your Jordan, you will miss a miracle. (This is given greater support in the February 28 lesson.)