Friday, April 16, 2010

Isaiah 53 - Part 2 - Betrayal

1. Have you been or are you currently a fan of “Survivor,” “The Biggest Loser,” or another competitive, so called “reality” TV shows? Why or why not?

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. 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

Isaiah 53

April 11, 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?
Not esteemed?

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

"3:16 The Numbers of Hope"

John 3:1-16

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