Sunday, March 28, 2010


Matthew 16:13-21

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

Pleasure, Power, Prejudice (part I - Pleasure)

1. What is your favorite “pig out” food?

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

Jesus Calming the Storm

Mark 4:35-41

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
why not?

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?
The Resurrection?
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
stronger faith?

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

The Parable of the Sower - Part 2

THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER - pt. 2 Matt 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, Luke 8:1-21March 7, 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, Henrietta C. What the Bible is All About 384New American Standard Version of the Bible