Friday, May 28, 2010

Psalm 19 - The Book of Hope

Psalm 19 is a psalm that proclaims the sweetness of God’s Word even describing it as “sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” (vs. 12).

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,
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

The Supreme Reconciliation

Colossians 1:19-23
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

The Preeminent Christ

1. What is your favorite worship song? Do you have a favorite hymn? What makes it your

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