The title of today’s Bible Study is “Overlooking Insecurity.” A definition is “one not founded or grounded in a secure foundation.” Read Lucas 18:9-14:
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
How does security define us as individuals? Success is refusal to accept defeat. Are you quick to give up? Do you give up easily?
My mother did not allow me to quit or give up. I learned to “stick with it,” and I taught this to my oldest daughter, Amy, who eventually graduated from the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical School with the highest honors.
“My mother set a standard and she wouldn’t let me quit.
I had to learn myself that that I could not let myself feel inadequate. I was never smart enough, not pretty enough, but I learned to get past my insecurity, which is a sign of maturity because I learned to push through.
When we feel offended, examine yourself first. If you are not responsible, then look to others. They may be responsible. So how do you treat them?
The Bible says we need to love others as we love ourselves.
You need to allow Christ to increase in you. You are stabilized and not subject to our old insecurities.
You suppress you self-centeredness by putting other people first. Keep quiet and listen is good advice.
“Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled,” Jesus taught us. So, here are some points to help us learn.
- Get an understanding of your salvation by grace. Look to the Lord as the source of everything.
- Do not be self-centered
- We have a fear of rejection and failure.
- God has a plan for all of us. Don’t let fear hold you back.
Every Monday afternoons, at 3:00 p.m., a group of female prisoners are called out of their cells by the sheriff’s deputies. They are marched off to a room at the Tuscaloosa County (Alabama) Jail, usually reserved for lawyers meeting with their clients. Instead, three friends who serve as “ministers” to the ladies arrive at the jail.
“The Church Ladies”—as they are called by their congregation—are back to tend faithfully to their flock of inmate Christians. Some are incarcerated for crimes as petty as passing a bad check. At the other end of the spectrum are those accused of murder.
For an hour or two, the ladies and the inmates are in church, never mind the Spartan surroundings of simple wooden tables and chairs, an old blackboard, and one phone to call the deputies if need be. They are in church, inspired and lifted by the ladies to a higher calling, one that can potentially rescue them from their circumstances. The “girls,” as the inmates are affectionately referred to by the ladies, are all dressed the same, in bright orange or white prison tops and pants, guaranteed to flatter no one and be recognized by all as a prisoner.
The ladies and the girls mingle and study the message of Christ for the next hour and a half, sometimes going on for two hours since the ladies have found favor with many of the guards. By the end of the time, there are no “ladies” and “girls.” They pray and worship together as one body, united by the bond of faith and the promise of leading them from desperation, anguish, frustration, poverty, crime, addiction, shame, and cynicism. In a word, to be “born again,” as Jesus told Nicodemus the Pharisee if he wishes to understand the Kingdom of God.
As part of the learning experience Pastor Louise Clayton, with several other ladies who have shared in the ministry over the years, such as Lesley Almond, Lucy Mills, Melissa Adcox, Kim Kreiger, Suzanne Moorer, and Mallie Browder, encourage their congregation to write letters telling of their lives and sometimes ask the girls to do “homework” in the Bible for the next week. This way, they learn to grow as individuals and as friends by being responsible, doing their own work, as well as listening and talking on Monday evenings. The Apostle James perfectly addresses the relationship between words and works, or faith and actions, and the ladies firmly believe that their congregation can only grow by not only listening but also by doing.
Over the years, a large body of correspondence has accumulated, and it is some of the most poignant, touching, honest writing I have ever seen since I was elected to transcribe some of it and publish it—with the girls’ permission, of course—on the class web. These women are at the bottom of the curve, drug addicts, alcoholics, abused by the men in their lives, abandoned by parents and friends, pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel with little hope for seeing the light of life and love and even liberty again.
They have all committed some form of crime, from pinching something at Wal-Mart to murdering abusive husbands and boyfriends. “I would like to thank you, ladies,” wrote one, “from the bottom of my heart for you all taking time to teach me about Jesus.” A recovering addict, in and out of jail for five years, “this time for almost five months,” but “I am a brand-new person through Jesus Christ.” She was going home for Christmas when she wrote, the first Christmas at home with her two children and family in four years.
The inmates suffer from a high rate of recidivism, which is fancy prison-speak for returning to jail or prison multiple times. So, it’s not unusual for Mary or Jane, or Sheila to show up again after a few months or years. When they do return, they are usually quiet and a bit reserved, perhaps even shamed by having failed on the “outside.” But, providing they behave and conform to the rules of the class, they are welcomed back with open arms for more instruction.
Rules in the class are very strict since discipline is not one of the congregation’s strong suits. Acting “up,” not paying attention, sleeping, or nodding in the class, back talking, and other forms of misbehavior bring a quick admonition. If they persist, they are “pulled off the list” of approved prisoners for the class, and there is always a waiting list. So, as a matter of course, the girls quickly learn that the ladies can be every bit as tough as the guards, but the ladies have a lot more to offer, and the girls have a lot more to lose by being banished from the class.
It is painful when it happens, and sometimes it is not even the ladies who impose discipline. One girl offended a nurse recently and was stricken from the list. “I hate that I will be missing class,” she wrote. “It’s all that I look forward to. I have been reading my Bible a lot lately. I have been really depressed. I just can’t seem to shake it. Anyhow, I just wanted to let you know my latest news. I hope to see you Tuesday night….”
Before Covid, a group of twenty to thirty Christian men and women—many of them pastors, deacons, lay leaders in their churches—, came once a week on Tuesday nights to share the message of Jesus Christ. Pastor Louise returned to the jail with them as part of this Tuscaloosa Christian Jail Ministry.
The “girls” are always happy to see Miss Louise on Tuesday night when all the other “ministers” show up. She is their pastor, and Louise feels the strong bonds and the responsibility that comes with being their shepherd, even if just for a few weeks or months while they are doing “hard time.”
This is self-evidently a good program, faith-based in the argot of the twenty-first century, lending a hand to pull people up to what God truly would like them to be. As Jeremiah wrote in Chapter 29, verse 11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
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This bible lesson started out with the title “Why Does God Allow Things to Happen?” Read/listen on for a great message on God’s presence in our lives, his promises, and his expectations for how he expects us to receive his gifts and powers.
There’s a deception out there in the Church community. We ask ourselves why does God allow hurricanes, wars, cancer, Corona virus, etc.? If he’s such a good God, why does he allow all of this to happen?
My God is, however, all and always Good. See John 10:10: he thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Satan came to kill, steal, and destroy. God does not do these things.
Pastor Louise begins with Adam, who disobeyed God and so opened the door to Satan.
Satan’s temptations made to Jesus in the 40 days in the wilderness meant that Satan owned the earth and was all evil. Jesus turned down all he offered with his answers.
God sent Jesus to win back what Adam had lost, so Jesus is often called “the Second Adam.”
When Jesus returned from death and resurrection, he gave us authority to do right, to reject Satan and his temptations. To be “born again” describes this gift from Jesus to us.
See Acts 10:38. “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” and Matthew 4:23: “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”
And read Matthew 8, 1-4 again: “When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy[a] came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
The leper is like all of us. God can do anything, but we need to let Jesus know what–like the leper–we need or want.
Continue with Isaiah 53:4
“Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.”
Look up “grief.” The original was translated from the Greek as “grief,” but it also means physical sicknesses and illnesses.
Jesus bore all our sicknesses and illnesses at the Cross, the Atonement. This meant not just spiritual, but ALL physical illnesses.
The biggest weapon that Satan has against us is our ignorance. God has given you the weapons to defeat Satan but YOU have to draw on Scripture or the Word to bring it to pass in your lives.
God will not put any disease or sicknesses on us, but he will “allow’ it.
Pastor Louise then described how experiences with tennis lessons got out of hand, getting involved in strife, etc. with the ladies at the court. “I was out of God’s will,” she said. Hand pain followed, then she had to listen to God who was allowing tennis to put Louise into disobedience to his word. She allowed her flesh to take over. Then she turned away from the obsession with tennis and to God’s word.
You have to judge yourself. Be honest, then Louise gives a short description of End Times, the Rapture, Tribulation, etc.
But God DOES NOT put sickness on you. Satan wants to take you out, you, as a Christian, have a target painted on your back.
You can speak life, or speak doubt and death over your life.
Louise finishes this lesson with the story of a tornado that roared through our neighborhood on April 27, 2011. The power of God saved us.
Today we are living in hard times. All around us circumstances are driving us away from God. The story of Ahab and Jezebel read by Louise, as evil individuals, like so many today, committed to themselves rather than God, unlike the prophet Elijah who told their story.
So, the question as we contemplate our world is: who are you committed to?
Ahab lost all moral compass when Jezebel was concerned, who was a spirit driven demonic woman. Nobody wanted to challenge her until Elijah stepped up.
Where we going with this? Today we have people leading us who do not serve God. But just like many in Israel, many thousands, on the other hand, have their eyes on God.
We do it through prayer. We need to focus on God and his ability and what he can and will do for us. As Christians, we need to stand up, quit being cowed. Where is your confidence?
You can’t win the whole world, but you can reach those who need to hear the truth which will set them free.
You will be asked, what have you done for God and Christianity today?
We have a job to do. Christianity is going about the Lord’s business.
Teach, heal, and preach. Daily!
In this lesson on healing, and on believing, and receiving your healing, Pastor Louise taught that you have to persevere, line up your confession of healing daily, really walk in faith and belief in healing.
Healing takes patience, one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Your weapon of warfare is God’s word. The word speaks the truth to us.
Many Christians today don’t actively believe God’s word, literally. Don’t be persuaded by continuing symptoms for example in the area of healing. They are transitory.
On many things, if you can’t keep your own word, why should you believe God’s word?
See a wonderful teaching book, Christ the Healer by F. S. Bosworth. And the Kindle edition is FREE!
If you are learning about faith and healing, and are in a church that is not teaching faith and healing as the Bible teaches us, you will probably not receive healing based on Scripture
So, where are you going to hear or read the word of God, the full word?
Pastor Louise comes down hard on the theory that God puts diseases and illnesses on us to “glorify” God and teach us patience and obedience.
God gave us doctors, hospitals and medicines to help us as we move closer to truly believing God for full healing.
The only thing that limits us is our not truly believing that God can and does heal.
We need to deal with anger and unforgiveness and other sins in us, however, before God will heal.
Louise teaching on Receiving Your Healing, Friday August 12 2022. The broad subject is Divine Healing, and Louise is teaching more on healing in this sermonette, especially, “so you act on its promises.” See Matthew 8:16
16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.”
What Christ did for us on the Cross–the Atonement–and healing is prophesied in the Old Testament. See, for example, Leviticus 16:24
24 “He shall bathe himself with water in the sanctuary area and put on his regular garments. Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people, to make atonement for himself and for the people.”
In Matthew Jesus specifically teaches us that he bore our sicknesses in the Atonement.
Jesus healing a blind man.
Today we tend to live in a “sense” world, like the Apostle Thomas who wouldn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the grave until he actually saw Jesus for himself.
Then Louise told of some personal experiences, that she’s been going through in dealing with symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in her hand. She understands that Jesus already healed us in his atoning sacrifice on the Cross. “I am a healed persen refusing sickness,” Louise summarized her learning, and leaning, on Jesus.
When you receive Jesus by faith, you are saved across the entire board of our experiences and lives. When you talk about salvation, for example, you are talking about the whole person, not only your Spirit, but your body and soul.
You have to renew your spirit and your body daily. In other words, stay in the Word, studying and applying it daily.
This week she went to her doctor. Her doctor, a woman with a distinguished pedigree in medicine and well recommended, told Louise about the various types of arthritis, etc. The first doctor she had seen, a month or so ago, in another office, another city was all gloom and doom. But her new doctor at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham told her, as part of her analysis, “this may very well go away in time.”
God wants Louise healed and has provided for her healing by the Atonement and promises of Jesus. This may take time, and Louise used the “healing bootcamp” metaphor. Like soldiers, and sailors, and Marines in bootcamp, you are being programmed and are in a process. She has been healed, but the symptoms may only gradually be extinguished. Faith has action. And in summary, Louise made four points:
- Identify your problem
- Speak to it
- Take authority over it
- Quit judging your process by symptoms