Archive for the ‘bible study’ Category

Our students are engaged in a battle and while they have all the spiritual tools they need to overcome, they lack the training on how to use them. So their spiritual blessings remain idle and our kids remain vulnerable.

I am helping prepare a discipleship program for our high school students at church. I searched and researched, but could not find an inductive study that kept the kids noses in the Word and forced them to think about it. We also wanted to be very intentional about teaching the kids how to practice the presence of God in prayer while allowing the Word of God to transform their lives. Out of that desire emerged Crave Bible Study and Discipleship. This is the first week handout the kids receive. The following weekend they receive a 20 minute teaching and then discuss what they learned by exploring the scriptures the previous week on their own.

The handout folds in half and fits in their Bibles and requires about 20 minutes of study time each day. You are welcome to download the first handout to share. If you want the whole study, shoot me an email or just comment on this post. Have a very blessed day!

1/27/14 update
What a blessing to receive requests all over the world! Yes, I am still emailing the study to all who request it. May God be glorified!

Ephesians ch. 1

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“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:13-18

When my four children were preschoolers, they bickered constantly, I could hear their voices quickly rising in the playroom and I knew the inevitable, “Mmmmmoooooommmmm!!!” would soon follow. With the authority of parenting comes the responsibility of administering justice and offering wise counsel. Why me? Why don’t they take their grievances to one of their little friends? We all instinctively call upon those we know to be wise and understanding to settle our differences especially children.

It takes wisdom and self-control to bridle my own anger and patiently bear the anger of others. Who is wise and understanding among you? Are you the woman others go to for council? With maturity in Christ comes great responsibility. Not only do your friends and family draw on your wisdom, but the community is watching how you live your life and drawing conclusions about your God from what they observe. Knowledge of Christ is born of wisdom from heaven which qualifies you to enter into the King’s service. Let your prayer today be that your life demonstrates that wisdom so that in humility you will serve Him well.

Obedience is evidence of faith. God’s call to the Israelite nation to trust and obey permeates the book of Joshua. To receive the promise, they must trust and obey; they must exhibit evidence of faith. When Israel trusts Yahweh, she triumphs regardless of the circumstances or however formidable the foe. God established Israel as a testament to the nations of His power and faithfulness.

“For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all of the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” Joshua 4:23-24

Whether we war against physical enemies of life and well-being, or we war with sin in a spiritual battle; the battle belongs to God. The victory is His. It is in the area of spiritual warfare that the book of Joshua is applicable for the church today.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

Peter Kreeft wrote, “The life-or-death battles in the Old Testament, especially in this most warlike book, are apt symbols of the no less life-or-death spiritual warfare of the New.” While God gives us promises, He does not relinquish His people of responsibility. We are called to obey as evidence of our faith. God ties obedience to success in warfare. We learn much from this handbook of warfare:

1. The church has received a promise and a responsibility to partner with God in His Kingdom work to fight the good fight. Joshua 1:6 and 1 Timothy 6:12

2. Our enemies are defeated before us and God will cause Satan to flee as we resist him.. Joshua 1:5 and James 4:7

3. The Lord will be ever present for us and will never forsake us. Joshua 1:5 and Matthew 28:20

4. All who receive salvation are called to obedience. Joshua 1:8 and Hebrews 5:9

5. We receive blessings by grace through faith, including the blessing of salvation. Joshua 8:33 and Romans 4:16

Indeed, it was the call to trust and obey that were the last words of our savior before he ascended to the right hand of the Father.

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

As believers we cross over from death (the Jordan) into life (the land of Promise). The Book of Joshua is a handbook of warfare to guide us as we continue to battle the enemy until we are called home. The book’s geographical and historical background show us how even as we live life, it is not our own. This is God’s story. Yahweh is salvation. As we imitate Joshua in his commitment to faithful obedience we too can experience victory in life as we are transformed into the likeness of the glory of Christ.

Welcome to another edition of, “Does the Bible really say THAT?”

Has this ever happened to you? I’ll be sitting in Sunday School or in Church service and the teacher or pastor refers to a passage of scripture to support his or her teaching and I’ll cringe a little. Not out of conviction from the Holy Spirit, but because I know that the passage does not teach the principle stated and that everyone within hearing is missing the truth.

Now any teacher, myself included, is guilty of making this mistake. It is often an innocent mistake motivated by pure intentions, but it can lead others astray nonetheless. It is often caused by careless preparation and mishandling of the text. And the errant teaching is often a regurgitation of popular Christian sayings or traditions. It is the sin of prooftexting.

I’ll give you an example.

You have heard it said, “Don’t go to bed angry.” It is a popular Christian principle to resolve conflict before you go to bed. While this may be a great principle to live by, it is not a principle taught by this passage. This is a prooftext of Ephesians 4:26-27 (NAS)

“BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

What does the text say?

The NAS translation is very true to the original language except it adds “yet”.  The Greek says, “Be angry and do not sin.” Also the translators took liberty with the word translated “opportunity.” The word means “place” as in “foothold”, but the meaning of the phrase is a warning against giving the devil an opportunity to tempt a believer into unrighteous behavior. The phrase “do not let the sun go down on your anger” means “do not let your anger end.”  

What does the text mean?

The context of the passage is Paul’s call for the believers in Ephesus to live holy lives, remain righteous and to not grieve the Holy Spirit. Righteous anger toward sin is not permitted, it is commanded. “Be angry.” Because you and I are sealed with the Holy Spirit, we have a new relationship with sin. The sin we once loved, we now hate.  We are commanded to not relax that relationship, for if we do we will give the enemy a foothold. Paul contrasts righteous behavior with unrighteous behavior throughout this passage and the entirety of the letter. He warns us to no longer walk as we once did, depraved, callous and greedy. He calls this our former life. We have been taught in Christ to put on the likeness of God in holiness and truth. We are commanded to guard our hearts by remaining angry with sin and not let down our guard.

What is the application?

You have heard it said, “Don’t go to bed angry.” But I tell you, “Go to bed angry and do not sin.” Guarding our hearts and minds requires a diligent and tireless commitment to righteousness. Speaking truth is often not the most popular thing to do, but speaking the truth with gentleness and respect is always the right thing to do.

Jesus often taught the Israelites by quoting a popular Pharisaical teaching and correcting that teaching. It was necessary for him to do that because many of his hearers did not know the word of God and so they were ill-prepared to challenge the teaching of their leaders. Paul commended the Bereans because they did not just take his word when he gave them the gospel. They tested his words against the truth they were already given in the Hebrew Scriptures. Unfortunately, in a country where the Bible can be readily accessed with a touch of a button this is the most biblically illiterate generation since the founding of our country. We now gain our theology from popular Christian sound bites rather than engaging scripture for ourselves. When the church is content with being told what to believe without testing the spirits, we not only give Satan a foothold, we give him command of the house.

“Be perfect as I am perfect.”

Our Sunday school teacher said we need to be perfect as Jesus was perfect. But is that true? What does it mean to be perfect? Surely Jesus does not expect us to be as perfect as God? If so, then we have all been set up for failure. What did Jesus mean?

First of all, the teacher quoted scripture blending two passages:

Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Leviticus 19:2  “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.”

Secondly, the context of the passage in Matthew is a comparison of the righteous versus the unrighteous (Mt. 5:45), but it is not limited to behavior. He is correcting traditional pharisaical teachings throughout chapter 5. Verse 48 is the summarizing statement of Jesus’ discourse. To gain an accurate interpretation, we need to consider not only the context of Matthew, but also the context of the Leviticus passage. When a New Testament writer quotes from another source, he is not just invoking the semantic text, he is invoking the context of the passage as well. When we consider the context of Lev. 19 we see that the Lord is expressing His wholehearted covenantal devotion to His people. He loves us completely, never wavering, always steadfast. It is to this covenantal devotion that Jesus is calling his disciples to as they gathered around him listening to his teaching.

Finally, to love the Lord completely means that we must love our enemies, just as Christ loved those who spat on him, those who cursed him, and those who drove the nails into his hands. We must remember that we were once enemies of God, worthy of His wrath. It is easy to love those who love us back, but what of those who want to destroy us, those who hate us, and those who wish that we would just shut up and die? I don’t know about you, but the closer I draw to the Lord the more the world hates me. Members of my own family detest when I speak about God, what He is doing in my life, His Word, or pray for them accusing me of “advertising” my faith. What a compliment from someone who wishes I would just shut up!

Dorothy Day once wrote, “I really only love God as much as the person I love the least.” Who do you love the least? Commit today to love completely as Christ with wholehearted devotion, perfectly. I am so in awe that God loves such an imperfect mess such as me. I am so grateful He is not willing to leave me this way. For as long as God allows me to breathe, I pray I have the courage to advertise my faith in this broken vessel.