Friday, June 18, 2010
1. What is your favorite frog story? Consider this one:
The story is told of two ducks and a frog who lived happily together in a farm pond. The best of friends, the three would amuse themselves and play together in their waterhole. When the hot summer days came, however, the pond began to dry up, and soon it was evident they would have to move. This was no problem for the ducks, who could easily fly to another pond. But the frog was stuck. So it was decided that they would put a stick in the bill of each duck that the frog could hang onto with his mouth as they flew to another pond. The plan worked well--so well, in fact, that as they were flying along a farmer looked up in admiration and mused, "Well, isn't that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of it?" The frog said, "I did..."
2. Read Colossians 2:1-5. The Apostle Paul obviously has some deep concerns for the church at Colosse. Paul did not found this church and had not met most of its people. Yet he felt an ardent connection, responsibility and exhibited a shepherd’s protective heart in his feelings for the Colossian Christians. Upon the first reading of this passage what may have been the nature of his concerns?
3. According to this section of Scripture, where is true wisdom and knowledge found?
4. What is the nature of Paul’s concerns in verse 4?
5. Paul was concerned because the church at Colosse faced a serious theological threat in the form of a heresy. Webster’s 1913 Dictionary gives this definition of heresy: Religious opinion opposed to the authorized doctrinal standards of any particular church, especially when tending to promote schism or separation;…”
The form of heresy facing the Colossian church came in the form of Gnosticism which claimed a exclusive knowledge and special spiritual experience. People caught up in this heresy were proud of how much they thought they knew, looking upon themselves as spiritually elite. The point was to make other believers feel inferior in their faith. According to I Corinthians 8:1 what is the outcome of knowledge simply for knowledge’s sake?
6. Why is spiritual pride so dangerous?
7. Read II Corinthians 12:1-10. The Apostle Paul was given a special spiritual experience from the Lord. According to verse 7, what else did the Lord give Paul and why?
8. Author F. F. Bruce tells us, “Paul learned to accept this physical affliction, whatever its precise nature, as a prophylactic against the spiritual pride that was prone to beset those who had made the heavenly ascent. If ever he was tempted to rely on the “abundance of revelations” received then, the thorn in the flesh would remind him to rely on the Lord alone, apart from whose grace he would be useless.” Why was it important that Paul stay humble? What might have happened if Paul fell into spiritual pride? What would the impact of that pride have on his personal ministry relationships? His shepherding of the churches? The growth of Christianity?
9. Another quote by F.F. Bruce tells us of the dangers of spiritual pride today. “Some people today, as then, love to make a parade of exceptional piety. They claim to have found the way to a higher plane of spiritual experience, as though they had been initiated into sacred mysteries which given them an almost infinite advantage over the uninitiated. Others are all too prone to be impressed by such people. But Paul warns them against being misled by such lofty claims. Those who make them, for all their lofty pretensions, for all their boasting of the special insight which they have received into divine reality, are simply inflated by unspiritual pride and are out of touch with Him who is the true Head and Fount of life and knowledge.” Explain in your own words what you think could happen if influential individuals who are out of touch with the heart of Christ were allowed to gain control in a church?Does your answer give you insight to the concerns of Paul?
10. Pastor David pointed out in Sunday’s message that the false teachings were poisoning the early church at Colosse. What in his message and in this study give you insight into the concerns of Paul for the Colossian church and the concern that pastors, leaders and shepherds have for the believers entrusted to their care?
11. Read II Timothy 3:16-17. Since warnings against heresy and false teachers are clearly spoken about in Scripture, what is the application today? Why do you feel it is important to study and understand the Bible? Why is it important to gather with other believers in a church setting and study the Bible together? What impact does humbly seeking God’s truth through His Word have on your relationships? Your role in the body of Christ? The growth of Christianity in this community?
 Today in the Word, April, 1989, p. 34.
 Melick, Richard R. Jr. The New American Commentary – Philippians, Colossians, Philemon 170;
 Bruce, F. F. Bibliotheca Sacra – July-September 1984
Friday, June 11, 2010
1. Are you more talkative or quiet? What is your most comfortable form of communication? Face-to-face private conversations, back and forth conversation in a small group of people, “having the microphone,” talking on the telephone, e-mail, texting, facebook or something else?
2. Read Colossians 1:24-29. When confronted by the risen Christ, Paul absolutely and completely embraced the Lordship of Jesus. “His thinking about Christ is vast, majestic, overpowering, dynamic.” “Paul’s sense of mission and center of thought were transformed utterly by his encounter with the Christ of the Christian proclamation. The persecutor-preacher of Jewish persuasion became the persecuted preacher of Christ.”
What do you think of when you hear the word “preacher?” What dynamics in our culture have created an image of someone who is a “preacher?” Do you think being persecuted and preaching go together? Why or why not? Is there any Scripture you can point to that would validate your answer?
3. Read Acts 9:1-16. From the beginning of his conversion and ministry Paul understood that unique suffering would be a part of his life. How might this knowledge have strengthened Paul?
4. When Paul was converted, instead of a self-righteous murder, he became a lover of people who willingly suffered, most likely to the point of martyrdom, to bring many to a saving knowledge and eternal redemption in Christ. Paul, the former angry enforcer of legalism became a dynamic apostle of grace reaching out to people of all backgrounds with no prejudice, becoming “all things to all men” in order to have the privilege of sharing God’s plan of salvation to many.”
Paul was not only willing to suffer but rejoiced in his sufferings for the Colossian church (Colossians 1:24). Why do you think he could rejoice in suffering?
5. Paul had a special mission of inclusion for the Gentile believers. Paul planted churches in Gentile, pagan territory. How might this have made Paul a target for persecution?
6. Paul mightily exercised the powerful communication tool of the spoken word. We find two diverse viewpoints on the power of Paul’s verbal abilities. One fact is certain - Paul talked ‘all the time’. While for some people this attribute might be considered a weakness, perhaps even an annoyance - for Paul, empowered by the Holy Spirit, it was a magnificent strength. Paul did not consider himself eloquent, yet he seemed to take every opportunity to speak to, implore, reason with and persuade individuals, as well as crowds, concerning His Lord Jesus Christ and His power to give everyone who confessed their sins and expressed belief in His deity, eternal salvation.
According to Colossians 1:28 what was Paul’s motivation?
7. Read I Corinthians 2:4-5. Paul’s preaching provoked his listeners to action. “The normal response to the preaching is that listeners are called to decision; they either believe or refuse to believe.” Paul’s self-perceived lack of eloquence was not a weakness and actually a positive factor in his spiritual life for he rightly understood that the gospel’s power did not come from a polished delivery, but from the Spirit’s supernatural power.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being terrible and 10 being fantastic, how do you think Paul would rate himself as a speaker? Do you like to speak publicly?
8. Read Exodus 4:10-12. Jill Briscoe tells us, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that all God’s heroes were very ordinary people. The thing that made the difference was that they had a relationship with an extraordinary God living within them, and this is a privilege accorded to every one of us who recognizes our need to know God in a personal way.”
In the case of Moses and Paul, why do you think God chose to use spokesmen that didn’t feel very positive about their speaking abilities to communicate God’s message?
9. Paul said, “I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church…” “Clearly Paul expected the willingness to work hard to be a normal characteristic of the Christian leader. Human hearts are the soil where the Christian leader sows the seed of the Word of God and where the fruits of his labors are produced. While never easy work, it is for the sake of the harvest that the Lord’s husbandman gladly engages in the demanding toil.”
When we consider what Paul’s “share” was for the church, how might that understanding cast a light on what our “share” might be? After considering Sunday’s message and this study, how is your level of passion for the things of God, and in what area do you feel God stretching you?
 Shillington, George, Paul’s Success n the Conversion of Gentiles: Dynamic Center in Cultural Diversity [Direction 20 no 2, Fall 1991], 129. http://firstsearch.oclc.org/WebZ/DARead?key=0384-8515%2528199123%252920%253A2%253C125%253APSITCO%253E%26fsapp4-32843-g1mzcks3-fjchm4%26b881ef3d6cc2f594daa2cca2e94706f028641bf7faffad09586d57f6bf7cfeb5&sessionid=0&db=ATLA_FT&format=PDF
 Shillington, George, Paul’s Success n the Conversion of Gentiles: Dynamic Center in Cultural Diversity [Direction 20 no 2, Fall 1991], 126. http://firstsearch.oclc.org/WebZ/DARead?key=0384-8515%2528199123%252920%253A2%253C125%253APSITCO%253E%26fsapp4-32843-g1mzcks3-fjchm4%26b881ef3d6cc2f594daa2cca2e94706f028641bf7faffad09586d57f6bf7cfeb5&sessionid=0&db=ATLA_FT&format=PDF
 Melick, Richard R. Jr. The New American Commentary – Philippians, Colossians, Philemon [Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press 1991], 237.
 II Corinthians 11:29 (New American Standard)
 I Corinthians 9:22 (New American Standard)
 Colossians 1:24 (New American Standard)
 Melick, Richard R. Jr. The New American Commentary – Philippians, Colossians, Philemon [Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press 1991], 237.
 Romans 1:16 (New American Standard)
 Thompson, James W. Paul’s Preaching Ministry: Evangelistic and Pastoral Preaching in Acts [Restoration Quarterly], 22.
 I Corinthians 2:4-5 (New American Standard)
 Briscoe, Jill Here Am I Lord…Send Somebody Else! [Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2004]. 4.
 Hiebert, Edmond D. Pauline Images of a Christian Leader. [Bibliotheca sacra 133 no 531, 1976], 220.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Read Psalm 51
For those of us who enjoy cooking or eating Italian food, there is an important ingredient that adds incredible flavor and aroma, and also makes necessary the need for after dinner mints. It is garlic. Garlic has an analogy to our spiritual lives because an aspect of this aromatic seasoning requires it to be crushed to release the essential oils within. If we want garlic to be at its flavorful best, it must be crushed. The fiber and essence of the garlic clove needs to be broken to set free its special taste and aroma.
1. Do you like garlic? If so, what is your favorite garlic-laden food?
Likewise the Scriptures instruct us of the release and freedom in the spiritual realm that comes with brokenness. The Treasure of David Commentary tells us that “A heart crushed is a fragrant heart”.
Indeed David’s heart became crushed and broken after the prophet Nathan confronted him of his sin with David’s involvement with Bathsheba and his orders to place her husband in harm’s way, then attempting to cover it all up.
But as David recognized the deception in his heart and the depth of his offense against God and the people involved (the repercussions of which were far-reaching for David was a leader). David became broken. In Psalm 51 we not only get to be eyewitnesses to the state of his heart, we see a Biblical pattern for repentance and restoration. Though the choices he made and the choices we make when we are enticed to sin do great damage, God is absolutely ready and willing to restore broken hearts and bring good out of bad, even when the bad has been our own doing.
Some of our best life lessons are learned in seasons of brokenness. Brokenness isn’t always the result of wrong choices on our part. Sometimes we become broken by the sinful choices of others, and sometimes life’s circumstances cause a process of brokenness in our lives. We can choose by an act of our will to humble ourselves before God and become broken in attitude without encountering adversity, and that is the best choice of all.
2. What in your life has come into a proper perspective or an area in which you have more clarity because there has been a sense of brokenness in your life?
We usually consider something that has been broken to be in a state of disrepair headed for the landfill. In this information age of electronic gadgetry it is often more cost effective to buy a new appliance or tool than to have it repaired. Broken in this instance is not a good word. But Biblical brokenness is a state where we have come to the end of ourselves, and that, accompanied by a humble spirit is indeed is a good thing.
David surely sinned against some people directly and a larger group of people indirectly. But how did David sense that he had sinned? (verse 4).
Consider some of the “innocent” victims of David’s sin. They did nothing in the situation yet their lives were impacted. When someone dear to us is hurt we recognize our powerlessness and need of God. We are incapable of protecting all who are close to our hearts. Do you relate to this scenario and if so, what did you learn about trusting in God’s goodness and sovereignty in the situation?
In verse one, how does David describe God’s character?
How has the graciousness, lovingkindness and compassion of God ministered to you in possible situations of:
feeling like everyone has let me down but God alone.
being powerless over my reputation when others have spoken ill of me.
feeling like my prayers are “hitting the ceiling”.
working hard to plan something good and having it turn out bad.
seeing my dream die.
experiencing a season of loss.
facing the reality of aging and changing health.
having to depend on the goodness of others, losing my sense of independence and self-
ending up in a place I thought I would never be and in foreign circumstances with no
foreseeable light at the end of the tunnel.
behaving badly and not liking the part of me that is revealed.
What do verses 10-13 tell us about God? What is God willing and able to do with a “broken” life?
Did David believe that God would forgive and restore him? What was David’s confidence level in God and His love for him?
Was David able to receive God’s forgiveness and then forgive himself?
How about you? Can you completely receive God’s gift of forgiveness and believe that God wants to totally restore every area of your life?
Psalm 51 (New American Standard)
Friday, May 28, 2010
In this Psalm of David’s we find his personal life story as relating to how much the Word of God has meant to his life. In church language it’s called a testimony. As we study this section of Scripture together, let’s put to words – both written and verbal how much the Lord, through the study of the Bible, has impacted our lives. Let’s share our own life stories – our testimonies of how our lives have been transformed by listening to God’s Word and applying it in practical concrete ways.
There are so many descriptions of what the Bible is, and for me the phrase that resonates in my life is that it is the “book of hope.” When considering my own struggles, issues and life problems (we all have them, don’t we?) it has been in my quiet communion with the Lord, reading His Word that has invariably brought me through. It is in seeing again and again that God loves me, has a plan for my life, has significant purpose in the things I go through and promises for me to act upon that renews my sense of hope. Artist that I am, I am prone by creative temperament to the ups and downs of intense emotions that can color my sense of optimism for the future. The Word of God has been a constant source of equilibrium in my life. My focus on my problems are lifted to a sense of relief that God has not forgotten me or has allowed something in my life that would be an agent of destruction with no way out. The precious things I have learned about God in these times have given me courage for the day and hope for all of my tomorrows, as many as the Lord chooses to give me on earth. Yes, I can concur with King David that in my life God’s Word is sweeter than honey, and if I may, sweeter than chocolate, peppermint, coconut, and all the other favorite flavors that define sweetness to me. The Bible is delicious to my soul. Yum.
What flavors define “sweetness” to you?
Bible Scholar Reverend Derek Kidner (1913-2008), makes the statement of Psalm 19 that “its theology is as powerful as its poetry.” The American Heritage Dictionary tells us that theology is “The study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions.” After reading Psalm 19 what would you say God is like? What is His nature?
Read Psalm 19. Commentators Walvoord & Zuck give this description of this Psalm. “This Psalm…surveys both God’s natural revelation and His specific revelation, which prompts a response of self-examination”.
It is possible to read all kinds of literature but not be moved to personal change by having been exposed to it’s message. We have the capacity to process information in so many ways. For example, if we are studying for a test in school in a subject that has no personal significance to our lives we inadvertently store that information in our short-term memories. It goes in, it comes out, then it’s gone.
Why is it crucial in the life of someone who follows Christ to receive the Bible’s information differently than we would all other sources?
What is it about seeing God’s handiwork – nature – that compels you to give God praise? What does God’s creation tell you about God?
Verse 7 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” Can you share a time when the reading, studying or listening of God’s Word “restored your soul?” Is there a time when God’s Word made you wise and you recognized it wasn’t “human wisdom” but something that you learned from the Scriptures?
Psalm 19:11a says, “Moreover, by them Your servant is warned…” Can you point to a time in your life when God’s Word warned you about something? Did you listen? What were the consequences?
In Psalm 19:14 David says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” What parallel is there between a heart that is “in the right place” and the ability to receive insight from God’s Word?
What blocks our receptivity to hearing what the Lord through the Bible would say to us?
Three points Pastor Mike gave us in his message this week were: God speaks to us in the skies, God speaks to us in the Scriptures, and God speaks to us in our soul.” Can you share how God has spoken to you in one or more of these ways?
The study and hearing of God’s Word should be like salt in our lives. Tasting a little should make us want more (like eating just one chip usually causes one to want the whole bag). What have you heard in this week’s message or in this study that makes you want more of God’s Word in your life?
American Heritage Dictionary, http://www.ask.com/web?q=dictionary%3A+theology&content=ahdict%7C39421&o=0&l=dir
Kidner, Derek, Psalme 1-72 – An Introduction Commentary 97
Psalm 19 (New American Standard)
Walvoord, John F. and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary 807-808
Friday, May 21, 2010
1. What is the most memorable “fight” you ever saw on T.V.? Prehaps it was in the days of the “Roller Derby,” or a famous boxing fight between major contenders or some “ultimate boxing.” What made that fight so memorable?
2. Read Colossians 1:19-23 in the version you normally read, and then read it again in The Message:
19 So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. 20 Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe - people and things, animals and atoms - get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the Cross. 21 You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. 22 But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. 23 You don't walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message - just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message.
Some people think boxing is the purest of sports - just one guy punching it out against another. Some abhor boxing and consider it barbaric. Whatever one’s opinion, boxing gives us a mental image of being at war with another person.
Describe an image or picture of what it is like to be at war with God.
2. Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe explains, “When the first man and woman sinned, they declared war on God; but God did not delcare war on them. Instead, God sought Adam and Eve; and He provided a covering for their sins.”
Have you ever been in a situation where someone was angry with you and you were innocent? What does your experience lend to your concept of “reconciliation”?
3. Bible scholar Richard R. Melick, Jr. tells us “First Corinthians describes Christ as the one who subdues hostile and opposing parties.”
Have you ever had to be a peacemaker? How does your experience add to the appreciation of what Christ did for us when He gave us peace with God? Describe the intervention that took place when Jesus bridged the gap between God and ourselves by taking responsibility for our sins.
4. Foundationally, reconciliation relates to the restoring of a broken relationship. What must happen in order for two estranged people to be reconciled?
5. In most instances there are two ingredients in a reconcilation. There needs to be a willingness on the part of both individuals to reconcile and there is typically an occasion to bring them together.
Were you ever reconciled to someone? What occasion brought you together?
6. Read Romans 5:6-11. Think back on the time you received Christ as your Savior, thus ending your “peronal war with God.” What was the occasion that brought you together with God? At what time was God willing to be reconciled to us? What did it cost God to be reconciled to us (verse 8)?
7. The One (Jesus) who died (and rose again) to reconcile us to God did all the work in making peace with God available to us. After considering the magnitude of such a sacrifice how does or how has this knowledge affect(ed) your life?
8. What has “Peace with God” meant in your own life, and how would you explain what you have experienced to someone who does not know Christ personally?
Colossians 1:19-23 (New American Standard); (The Message)
Melisck, Richard R. Jr., The New American Commentary - Philippians, Colossians, Philemon 224-228
Romans 5:6-11 (New American Standard)
Wiersbe, Warren The Bible Exposition Commentary 118-121
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
2. Read Colossians 1:15-20. Bible Scholars consider this section of Scripture a Hymn to Christ. This passage is a poetical description of the nature of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. As such, it reflects the worship of the early church.
Re-read this section of Scripture slowly. What words and phrases cause your heart to worship the Lord? Said in another way, if you wanted to “rave about God,” what words from this passage would you use?
3. According to the New American Commentary, “the criteria for determining the presence of hymns includes lyrical style and linguistic abnormalities.” There is a “certain rhythmical lilt” to the words. And, there are “distinctive theological expressions”. Thus, Hymns used in worship both express the love and honor in our hearts for God and articulate theology.
Name some reasons why it might be significant in the life of the Christian and life of the Church to use hymns as a part of our worship?
4. The Apostle Paul had some good reasons to use this opening Hymn to Christ at the beginning of this letter to the saints at Colosse. Whether Paul used or wrote this hymn, it certainly was a reflection of his theology. Or perhaps this hymn spoke specifically to the false teachers at Colosse.
Have the words of a song ever “spoken” to you and helped you to put into words something that you felt in your heart? How might the inclusion of this hymn counteract the false teachings of some who were seeking to steer the Colossian church into Gnosticism?
5. In the New Living Translation, Colossians 1:15 says, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before God made anything at all and is supreme over all creation.”
Read Genesis 1:26. Who is the “us”? Read John 1:1-5. Who is “the Word?.” Why might false teachers and cults attack the concept of the Trinity?
6. If Jesus is not God, but a lesser being as some cults claim, how would the significance of Christ’s death on the cross be altered? Why is the true identity of Christ so important to our belief system?
7. “Christ is the One through whom God created everything in heaven and earth.” Colossians 1:16a NLT What does this say about Christ’s position? What does this say about Christ’s power and authority?
8. The second part of verse 16 in the NLT states, “He made the things we can see and things we can’t see - kings, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities. Everything has been created through Him and for Him.”
Warren Wiersbe states, “If everything in creation exists for Him, then nothing can be evil of itself (except for Satan and fallen angels, even those God uses to accomplish His will.) How does this section of the Bible counteract the Gnostic belief that all matter is evil?
9. Verse 17 in the NLT states, ”He existed before everything else began, and He holds all creation together.” How does the fact that Christ holds all creation together give you hope and confidence for the future?
10. How, in this section of Colossians did Paul do battle with the false teachers trying to infiltrate the church at Colosse? What principles can you glean to fight against wrong thinking in your life? How can you grow in the area of becoming more knowledgeable of God’s Word, using your God-given intellect and worshiping with more focus and intentionality?
11. This week, in your life, what steps will you take so that Christ might be more preeminent in your life?
Colossians 1:15-20 (New American Standard); (New Living Translation)
John 1:1-5 (New American Standard)
Gaebelein, Frank E. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary 181-183
Genesis 1:26 (New American Standard)
Henry, Matthew Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible 1164
Melisck, Richard R. Jr., The New American Commentary - Philippians, Colossians, Philemon 210-221
Wiersbe, Warren The Bible Exposition Commentary 115-117
Friday, April 16, 2010
2. In many of these shows, in order to keep up ratings and heighten drama, there is a process where a player is eliminated in each round. Often alliances are formed between players where they agree (behind the scenes) to not vote each other out. They establish some sort of trust based on mutual self-interests. Sometimes these agreements are broken, and on T.V. they refer to it as “game play.” In real life, when agreements are broken between individuals, friends, family, co-workers and others, it is often called something more serious - betrayal. Read Isaiah 53:3-9. Who was betrayed?
3. Read Matthew 26:1-16. What action seemed to upset Judas? (vs. 8-9).
4. Read John 12:1-6. What was a huge character weakness in Judas’ life? How did Satan manipulate that weakness to plant false thoughts in Judas’ mind about the identity of Jesus? What responsibility did Judas bear for deciding to receive and consider those warped thoughts? (Read Matthew 26:24-25). What does this say about the significance of our thought life and the ideas we entertain?
5. Read Psalm 41:9 and Psalm 55:12-14. The Psalmist talks about betrayal. The betrayal listed here is not from an enemy or causal acquaintance. The pain of this betrayal comes from a one time close and trusted friend. Why does betrayal from a close trusted relationship hurt more deeply than the attack from an enemy?
6. Read Matthew 26:20-25. In the NLT translation, verse 22 reads, “Greatly distressed, one by one they began to ask Him, “I’m not the one, am I Lord?” This reveals how Jesus treated the one whom would eventually betray Him. No doubt, Jesus knew all along that Judas would betray Him, yet Jesus treated him so much like the others that they had no idea. What example does Jesus provide for us in the way He treated Judas?
7. Commentator Frank E. Gaebelein points out some of Judas’ character issues and what might have prompted his horrifying actions. “Like most human motives, his were mixed and doubtless included avarice and jealousy combined with profound disappointment that Jesus was not acting like the Messiah he had expected.”
It is hard to imagine that someone who walked with Jesus, lived with Him, saw the miracles, heard not only the teaching to the multitudes and Christ‘s instructions as He “poured into His inner core” of believers, ended up betraying the most beautiful and only perfect person who ever lived, this completely God and completely human, “God in the flesh.” Yet, He did. What warnings does this give us about the capabilities of human nature?
8. Avarice is an intense greedieness - a self-serving desire for money, wealth, power or possessions. When someone is jealous they want what another person has and is angry that they cannot have that something. Answers.com defines disappointment as “a feeling of regret or dejection upon the frustrations of one's expectations.”
Where did avarice, jealousy and disappointment have a start in Judas’ life? Was it in things that happened to him, or was it his reaction to circumstances and his own decisions and mind processes under the control of his free will that sent Judas‘ life on a downward spiral?
9. How can someone who was so close to Christ have betrayed Him?
10. Read Galatians 5:22-26. Contrast these descriptions of the Spirit-filled life to that of Judas. The person who is filled with the Spirit spends a lot of time in Christ’s presence. Judas spent a lot of time in the presence of Christ. What constitutes the difference?
11. Authors Harold Myra and Marshall Shelley in their book The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham wrote: Perhaps you will never experience betrayal. Then again, it’s one of the more likely experiences ahead, a time when someone turns on you, opens you to shame and ridicule, or subverts your labors of love, your relationships and aspirations. How you respond when it happens can make the difference...”
What steps and decisions can you make to insure a healthy and Christ-honoring response when something like a betrayal comes in to your life? How does Christ’s example impact you? How can this group pray for you in this area?
Gaebelein, Frank E. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary 258
Galatians 5:22-26 (New American Standard)
Isaiah 53 (New American Standard)
John 12:1-6 (New American Standard)
Matthew 26 (New American Standard)
Myra, Harold and Marshall, Shelley The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham 178
Psalm 41:9; 55:12-14 (New American Standard)
Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary 95-96
Friday, April 9, 2010
1. American Idol, The Bachelor, and Dancing with the Stars have all been popular t.v. programs in recent years. What message do these shows send regarding society’s view of physical beauty?
2. Read Isaiah 53:2-3; I Samuel 16:7; Proverbs 31:30 and II Timothy 2:9-10. From reading these portions of Scripture, what value do you think that God places on physical beauty?
3. Read Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15, Psalm 27:4 and I Peter 3:3-4. What is beautiful to God?
4. Please read Isaiah 53 in it’s entirety. How did people respond to the appearance of Jesus the Messiah?
5. Isaiah 53:3 reads: “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” Do you equate with any of these descriptions? Have you ever felt:
Sorrowful, acquainted with grief?
6. Hebrews 2:17 says “Therefore, it was necessary for Jesus to be in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. He then could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since He Himself has gone through suffering and temptation, He is able to help us when we are being tempted.” (NLT)
How does it impact you to know that Jesus Christ suffered and willingly allowed people the choice to despise and forsake Him, esteeming Him not? Can you relate to this kind of love?
7. Truly the people in Jesus’ day struggled with the concept of a suffering Messiah, even though Isaiah 53 clearly indicates that this is how He would come. Why do you think this was true?
They could not relate to this kind of Messiah even though it was written. They did not want this kind of Messiah so they rejected the message. This passage did not fit with their theology so they dismissed it. Other.
8. Matthew Henry, Bible commentator who lived from 1662-1714 said, “The low condition He submitted to, and His appearance in the world, were not agreeable to the ideas the Jews had formed of the Messiah...He had nothing of the glory which one might have thought to meet with Him. His whole life was not only humble as to outward condition, but also sorrowful....Carnal hearts see nothing in the Lord Jesus to desire an interest in Him.”
Why can a Messiah that is humble and sorrowful be such a delight to those who have invited Him into their heart yet be regarded as irrelevant by the rest of the world?
9. Henry goes on to say, “It was for our sins, and in our stead, that our Lord Jesus suffered. We have all sinned, and have come short of the glory of God...Our sins deserve all griefs and sorrows...We are saved from the ruin, to which by sin we become liable, by laying our sins on Christ.”
Why would Jesus, who never committed a sin or did anything wrong, willingly take on Himself all our human wrongdoing - accepting the blame for our most henius acts and harmful motives turned into shocking and shameless actions? What kind of love is that? What kind of Messiah is that? What kind of God?
10. As you consider the significance of this suffering Messiah described in Isaiah 53, what response in your life do you think is appropriate? Is there a decision to be made, a commitment to take, or a change of life direction to embrace?
Henry, Matthew Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible 682-683
Hebrews 2:17 (New Living Translation)
Isaiah 53 (New American Standard)
I Peter 3:3-4 (New American Standard)
Proverbs 31:30 (New American Standard)
Psalm 27:4 (New American Standard)
Romans 10:15 (New American Standard)
I Samuel 16:7 (New American Standard)
II Timothy 2:9-10 (New American Standard)
Walvoord & Zuck The Bible Knowledge Commentary 1107
1. Let’s take a trip down memory lane. This may go way back into childhood or something not realized until one’s adult years. When was the first time you realized you were “good” at doing something in particular? It might have been a sense of accomplishment you felt after completing something. It may have been because of the encouragement or praise from a parent, teacher or peer. What was that “thing” and how did that realization affect your life?
2. Read John 3:16. What was Nicodemus “good at” - what were his accomplishments?
3. Nicodemus was a Jewish leader and a Pharisee. He had a place and identity in life. When he was confronted with the evidence that Jesus was clearly sent from God, it meant he had to do some deep thinking and consider that perhaps his life choices, admirable though they might have been, might keep him from discovering the most important truth of all.
According to John 3:1, what kind of life choices had Nicodemus made? Why do you think the direction he chose to pursue in life might have caused him to miss the reality of who Christ was?
4. Theologians differ concerning the motivation of Nicodemus. Some say he was deeply sincere in seeking truth as he sought out Christ by night. It is thought he simply wanted an uninterrupted quiet conversation. Others argue that Nicodemus was afraid or ashamed to be seen with Christ. Like many, it is possible that Nicodemus had fear of identifying with Christ in the daylight - in front of others. Yet, he had enough faith to approach Him under the cover of darkness.
What would cause Nicodemus to fear in identifying with Christ? What were the consequences then? What are the consequences now in our culture? What are the consequences for identifying with Christ in other cultures around the world?
5. Surely Nicodemus was a good upstanding citizen of his culture. Being a Pharisee likely meant a life of dedication, faithfulness, service, knowledge, piety, focus, and devotion - all of which are good things.
Are there good things in your life that are keeping you from that which is most important?
What life choices - even those that may be “religious” or “ministry-minded” in nature have presented obstacles to your spiritual growth?
6. Nicodemus needed clarification. He was honest when he asked, “what do you mean?” Nicodemus saw something in Christ that made him want to be around Him to hear and understand. There was something extraordinary in the life of Jesus. Nicodemus had honest questions for Christ.
What honest questions do you have for Christ?
7. Jesus gently rebuked Nicodemus and “put him in his place.” There is some thing about the light, purity and clarity of Jesus Christ that makes our worldly accomplishments small in comparison.
What worldy accomplishments, when compared to knowing and following Christ, are small in comparision? Do any of these accomplishments get in the way?
8. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
It is the will of God the Father that all come to a saving knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ. Read Matthew 28:18-20. This is called the Great Commission. As believers we are commanded by Christ to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations...” What is your role? What is in your way?
Gaebelein, Frank E. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Volume 9 50
Henry, Matthew Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible 983
John 3:16 (New American Standard)
Matthew 28:18-20 (New American Standard)
Wiersbe, Warren The Bible Exposition Commentary 295
Sunday, March 28, 2010
1. Have you, or do you know of someone, who has been the victim of identity theft?
2. Jesus and His disciples walked to Caesarea Philippi which is in Northern Israel. In contrast to parts of Southren Israel, Philippi has green areas, is on the southwestern slope of Mount Hermon and is a beautiful area with waterfalls. Caesarea Philippi was also at that time a place with diversified religious beliefs. There was a center for Baal worship, Shrines to the Greek god Pan, and a temple that was built to honor Augustus Caesar. It was a very pagan place. What contrasts would Jesus’ disciples have seen in the people in this environment versus what they personally witnessed in the person of Christ?
3. Read Matthew 16:13-21. It is interesting that when Jesus asked His disciples “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” that they were quick to name some prophets who had already died, or in the case of Elijah, had been whisked away to heaven in a chariot. Clearly this was a population that struggled with faith yet held out hope for a resurrection. Consider the words of Job 19:25-27. Who is Job’s redeemer? Read Hebrews 11:17-19. What did Abraham believe?
4. Read II Kings 2:1-14. Read Malachi 4:5-6. What do you think some people saw in Christ that made them think He might be Elijah? Why do you think that at this time they did not realize Jesus Christ was the Messiah?
5. Read John 10:19-21. Do you think the people were confused about Christ?
6. Re-read Matthew 16:15-17. How did Peter know that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God? How do you know who Jesus Christ is?
7. In Matthew 1:21 we read that Jesus was to be given this name for “He will save His people from their sins.” The word “Christ” (in the Greek Christos, in Hebrew, Mashmiah) means “the anointed one.” Read Luke 4:18-19. How would you explain this “job description” for the Messiah?
8. Which of these descriptions of Christ resonate with you?
Jesus is my Savior - He has saved me from the penalty of my sin and shame and even from “myself.” Jesus has saved me from my own human nature. I can’t imagine what kind of person I would be without Him.”
Jesus is my Redeemer. He has redeemed my life and brought about good out of bad.
Jesus Christ is my King - the One I worship and seek to give honor.
Jesus is pure love. He is the object of my unrestrained affection.
Jesus is my compassionate counselor. He is the One to whom before I weep unresevedely and receive comfort and peace for my soul.
Jesus is my healer and the One who has healed my broken heart.
Jesus is my model. When in confusing circumstances when I contemplate what action to take or attitude to embrace, I look to Christ for my example.
Jesus is my liberator. In Him I experience true freedom.
Jesus is my encourager. Even in a season of life when nothing seems to go right, He loves me, gives me purpose, guides me and encourages me.
Jesus is my hope. Because of His grace and forgiveness to me, someday I get to be with Him in heaven.
9. Jesus Christ has many other names in the Bible. Some of them are Lord, Shiloh, Immanuel, Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, The Branch and The Word of God.
Who do you say that Jesus is?
10. What name or description of Jesus makes you want to know Him better?
Barbour Publishing, Know Your Bible 26, 33
Gaebelein, Frank E. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Volume 8 367-370
Hebrews 11:17-19 (New American Standard)
Job 19:25-27 (New American Standard)
John 10:19-21 (New American Standard)
II Kings 2:1-14 (New American Standard)
Luke 4:18-19 (New American Standard)
Malachi 4:5-6 (New American Standard)
Matthew 1:21; 16:13-21 (New American Standard)
Unger, Merrill F. Concise Bible Dictionary 103
Wiersbe, Warren The Bible Exposition Commentary 57-58
Friday, March 19, 2010
2. Can you give an example of something that was initially good, but taken too far became bad?
3. Proverbs 21:17 in the New Living Translation says, “Those who love pleasure become poor; wine and luxury are not the way to riches.” Please put into your own words why the love of
pleasure ultimately causes one to become poor.
4. Author Leo Sandon Jr. writes, “Pleasure, broadly considered, is the gratifying of the desires of the senses or the mind...To engage in the idolatry of pleasure is to make pleasure the central aim - the crucial value - in human life. As in the case with all idolatries, it involves the inappropriate elevation of a good to the Good.”
According to Psalm 26:2, Psalm 139:23-24 and II Corinthians 13:5 what can we do to make sure that something that is a “good” pleasure does not become so central to our lives that it becomes elevated to the point of idolatry?
5. Society has quite a different spin on pleasure. Consider these two quotes: “Passion is God wanting to say ‘hi.’...You need no outside authority to give you direction, no higher source to supply you with answers...If you look to see what you feel about it, the answers will be obvious to you, and you will act accordingly.” - From the New Age best-seller of Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God
“With no effort other than paying attention to how we’re feeling, we can mold our lives exactly as we choose with relative ease and speed.” - From self-help book, Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn
What are the consequences of making life decision’s according to one’s feelings alone, leaving out the authority and direction of God?
6. Associate Professor and Author J. Budziszewski writes, “The morality of pleasant feelings is quite simple: seek pleasure and avoid pain. In its individualistic form, this is Hedonism. Consider this quote that Budziszewski attributes to a famous ad campaign: “We are Hedonists and we want what feels good. We are all basically Hedonists. That’s what makes us human. And we were made to want pretty simple things: Food. Water. Shelter. Warmth. And pleasure. We want what feels good...If it feels good then just do it.”
As someone who follows Christ what Scripture would you offer to approach someone with this line of thinking?
7. Contrast the above quote with that of Leo Sandon, Jr. who writes, “The Christian affirms the experience of pleasure insofar as it is offered to the greater glory of God and inasmuch as it serves the needs of self and neighbor. Pleasure, however, cannot be elevated as the chief end and aim of human experience.”
8. Read Ecclesiastes 2:1-11. What did the teacher, who is thought to be King Solomon, conclude after indulging in every pleasure imaginable?
9. This passage described a grand experiment with pleasure and how it resulted in total failure. What do you think the writer of Ecclesiastes gave up in pursuit of this “grand experiment?”
10. Commentator Duane A. Garrett writes, “Laugher was insanity, and fun accomplished nothing. He does not imply that all laughter is to be squelched as an evil; rather, as a solution for the basic problems of life (above all the problem of death), it is a total failure. Throughout the book the Teacher will recommend enjoying life, but here he warns that partaking of pleasure does not of itself give meaning to existence.”
What has brought the greatest meaning to your existence?
11. What, in your own words, did Solomon express in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14? How does Solomon’s conclusion increase your understanding of “living for pleasure?”
II Corinthians 13:5 (New American Standard)
Ecclesiastes 2:1-11; 12:13-14 (New American Standard)
Feeling Moral Author: Budziszewski, J. Source: First Things no 127 N 2002, p 9-11. Doc. Type: Article Libraries Worldwide: 746
Garrett, Duane A. The New American Commentary Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs 291
Idolatrous Pleasure. Author: Sandon, Leo. Source: Christian Century 96 no 12 Ap 4 1979, p 367. Doc. Type: Article Libraries Worldwide: 3266
Proverbs 21:17 (New Living Translation)
Psalm 26:2; 139:23-24 (New American Standard)
Sunday, March 14, 2010
1. Did you play ‘hide and seek’ when you were a child? Did you have a favorite hiding place?
2. Read Mark 4:35-41 and Luke 8:22-25. What additional information did Mark give us that
Luke left out?
3. The NLT translation tells us the disciples “Frantically woke Him up, shouting, 'Teacher, don’t
you even care that we are going to drown?’” From the words of Mark’s unvarnished
perspective, do you think the disciples comprehended who Christ was at this time? Why or
4. Read Mark 4:40; Matthew 13:58; Matthew 17:19-20; Mark 6:5-6; and Hebrews 3:12-19.
What was the greatest spiritual danger for the disciples at this time?
How often, at least in our thoughts, do we imitate the faithless disciples and cry out, “Lord
don’t you care?”
5. Bible commentator Dr. Warren Wiersbe writes, “The greatest danger was not the wind or
the waves: it was the unbelief in the hearts of the disciples. Our greatest problems are
within us, not around us.” Discuss.
6. At what times are you most prone to doubt?
7. Read Psalm 143. Can you relate to any of David’s prayer and plea? What part especially
pinpoints your thoughts or emotions?
8. At what point in Psalm 143 did David’s thoughts turn to express faith in the Lord and His
9. Commentator Matthew Henry says, “The more we consider the power of God, the less we
shall fear the face or force of man.”
What comes to mind when you consider the power of God?
A specific time when you witnessed God’s power in your life?
10. Read John 2:22. A key to bolstering a sagging faith is remembering the great things God
has done for us and His faithfulness in the past. Can you think of ways that God has shown
Himself to be real to you?
In what ways has God been kind and merciful to you?
Can you remember a particular time of blessing in your life?
How has God shown Himself faithful to you?
Who has been a great blessing from God in your life?
In what ways has God saved you from yourself (where would you be in life without Him)?
11. Author James A. Brooks says of Jesus stilling the storm, “the entire story reassured the
believers who had already experienced popular abuse and were facing the prospect of official
persecution. Although Jesus may not always appear to be present or to care, He will deliver
His people who are in various kinds of trouble. Therefore His disciples should never doubt.”
Has there been a time recently when it felt like God was hiding or asleep? What impact did
that have on your faith?
12. Read Hebrews 13:5b-6. What is this great promise that can give the believer confidence and
Brooks, James A. The New American Commentary on Mark 88
Gaebelein, Frank E. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Volume 8 656
Henry, Matthew Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible 573
John 2:22 (New American Standard)
Mark 4:35-41; Mark 6:5-6 (New American Standard)
Matthew 13:5b-6; 58; 17:19-20 (New American Standard)
Luke 8:22-2 (New American Standard)
Psalm 143 (New American Standard)
Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Expostion Commentary Vol. 1 125
Friday, March 5, 2010
1. Read Genesis 2:8-9. Who was the first gardener?
2. What kind of gardener are you?
I have a “green thumb”.
I like gardening on a small scale - some flowers, perhaps a few vegetables.
I love gardening and you might see some of the results of my work at the Humboldt County
Fair or the Farmer’s Market.
Gardening for me is part of my life’s work.
I have a black thumb, and anything green I touch evenually dies.
3. Read Mark 4:1-20. In ancient Palestine sowing seed differed some from our modern method. In Jesus’ time the seed was sown first by broadcasting the seed widely, and then plowing the seed under. It was inevitable that some of the seed would go among the thorns, some seed would fall on the hardened path while some seed would land on good ground. How does the ancient method of sowing help to explain how God’s Word is to be communicated?
4. Evaluate the following statements with your answer to question #3 in mind:
I wait to share my faith in Christ until there is “an open door.”
I like to be very strategic with my witnessing and only share when there is a large group
I only share my faith with people with whom I relate to easily.
5. The parable of the Sower could also be called the Parable of the Soils. It tells us why so many
people are unreceptive to the gospel. What hinderances to the gospels are described in the
hearts of the hearers?
6. Gardening in Humboldt tells us, “The soil in your yard is a mixture of manythings inherited from its past. Included are bits of rock, living and dead plants and animals--mostly of microscopic size--, air and water. What types these are, and their proportion in the general mixture, decides your soil's characteristics.”
Using the anaolgy of the characteristics of soil to describe the characteristics of the human
heart - what kinds of things in our hearts produce it’s attitude? Are there things from the
past? What kinds of things can be like “bits of rock” “something living” “something dead”
“air ” “water?” Describe in form of analogy what might be an application of “proportion in
the general mixture?”
7. Mark 4:4 describes seed that fell beside the road. The condition of this soil representing the condition of some people’s hearts are likened to a hard beaten path where the seed had no chance to take root. Satan could easily steal away the seed before the Word had opportunity to steady down.
In the King James version we read the phrase “He hath said in his heart,” which other translations express as ”He says to himself.” Either way the truth brought to light is that our thought life has much to do with the condition of our hearts. What kinds of thoughts lead to a hardening of one’s heart?
8. Read Luke 4:1-13. In the temptation of Jesus, our Lord used the truth of Scripture to resist Satan’s assault of warped words. Satan tempts people by planting thoughts about God and ourselves that aren’t true. Believing things about God and ourselves that are not based on truth can turn our hearts from the One that can give us abundant and eternal life.
What weapons as believers do we possess when we are bombarded with thoughts that have the capacity to harden our hearts toward our loving God? What can the believer actively do to keep one’s own heart from becoming hard?
9. Another soil Jesus talked about in this parable is the rocky ground. This seed takes root but is shallow because of the condition of the soil. Persecution and trials can be like rocky ground. A shallow faith can be easily uprooted. One can “fall away.” The Greek word for “fall away” is skandalizomai. According to Gaebelein’s Commentary, “A skandalon was originally a stick placed in a trap or snare that, when touched by an animal, caused the trap to spring. In the New Testament it means “cause to stumble.”
What traps or snares can cause people to stumble? How can each of us guard ourselves from allowing these things to cause us to stumble spiritually?
Brooks, James A. The New American Commentary on Mark 79Gaebelein, Frank E. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Volume 8 651Gardening in Humboldt http://humgardens.com/contents/soils/Mears, Henrietta C. What the Bible is All About 384New American Standard Version of the Bible
Thursday, February 18, 2010
February 14, 2010
1. What movie resonates with you when you consider the word “family?”
2. What three or four words describe your family of origin?
3. Read Mark 3:20, 31-34. From this section of Scripture what is your initial reaction to Jesus’ words in reference to His family?
4. It is said that the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible. This means as we come upon a passage that seems a little puzzling to us or we need more explanation, searching the rest of the Scriptures for illumination is the best way to find clarification. It is obvious from the other parts of Scripture that Jesus greatly valued His physical family. Jesus, on the cross in excruciating pain, instructed John to take care of His mother, Mary. Considering your knowledge of the whole of Scripture, what do you think is the main point Jesus is trying to get across?
5. The New American Commentary on Mark tells us, “Of course Jesus did not teach that physical relationships have no value, only that they must be subordinate to spiritual relationships. Even so, His teaching was radical. It seemed to threaten the most important human institution.” What is it about a spiritual relationship that makes it more significant than even a family relationship?
Digging a little deeper...
6. Author James Brooks says, “Those seated in a circle around Him” obviously are Jesus’ disciples. Despite all their failures, Jesus acknowledged them as those who did God’s will and therefore His true family . . . . Christians have been encouraged that relationship with God is not a matter of genetics but of obedience to God’s will.”
Reflection question: if obedience to Jesus is His measure of ‘family,’ how closely related to Him are you?
7. Author Robert Ellsberg writes, “The ‘family’ that Jesus gathers around Him is hardly what we would call an ‘exclusive club’ ; instead it includes every type of ‘wrong’ person, every type of person who feels marginalized and excluded by the prevailing standards of social value. It is these people, in particular, who experience the call to join Jesus’ family as a genuine blessing.”
Explain in as many ways as possible how ‘radical’ Jesus’ teaching is as relating to calling people who were at one time indifferent rebellious or even enemies, now, because of Christ’s grace and forgiveness, ‘dear family.’
8. Matthew Henry writes in Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, “It is a great comfort to all true Christians, that they are dearer to Christ than mother, brother, or sister, merely as relations in the flesh.” How do you respond to being dearer to Christ than people who shared their history, experiences, nurture and day-to-day living? How would you put into words the thought that you – personally – right here and right now are very dear to Christ?
9. As you pray for your own needs and concerns this week, please consider thoughtfully and prayerfully how dear you are to Christ.
Brooks, James A., The New American Commentary on Mark, 74Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
What will I do this week to grow in wisdom?1. PRAY - ask God for wisdom.2. READ a section of Scripture each day.3. APPLY what I have read to my life.