Posts Tagged ‘bible study’

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.

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.

This is in reponse to more “God Questions.”  If you are seeking answers, forward your questions. Let’s find the answers together.

Did Judas go to hell because he committed suicide?

Also, do you go to hell if you commit suicide?

 Matthew 27:3–5 (NIV) 3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

Ephesians 2:8–9 (NIV) 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

First, it is important for us to recognize how it is possible for any of us to escape eternal separation from God (hell) and that is by faith. We did nothing to earn our salvation therefore we can do nothing to lose it. How are we condemned? We all sin because we are sinners, I am not a sinner because I sin. A sinner is who I am and I am condemned on those grounds. I am saved because of who God is, not because of who I am.

So the question might be, was Judas saved by faith?

John 6:64 (NIV) 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.

The answer is clearly no. And I think it is worthy to note here that Judas was not a mere pawn in God’s plan. All that he did, he did willingly. Even Judas recognized his own guilt. The word used here for remorse in Mt. 27:3 indicates a change of mind, not a change of heart. It is an intellectual remorse not spiritual repentance.

You and I cannot see Judas’ heart, but we can judge his fruit. Did Judas’ fruit demonstrate a saving faith?

John 12:4–6 (NIV) 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Judas’ character as revealed by the scriptures showed him to be miserly and a thief void of compassion clear up until his betrayal of Christ. So it is that Judas died a condemned man because he did not believe Christ, not because he violated the sixth commandment.

Does a person go to hell because they commit suicide?

Suicide does not damn a man although murder, even committing one’s own murder, is still a sin even if it can be forgiven. We are condemned because that is who we are without Christ.

The next question that might follow is: Can someone be a believer and still commit suicide?

To that I would answer with a question, “Are you as a believer without sin?” People commit acts of sin throughout their entire lives, even believers. And people commit suicide for many reasons, including chemical imbalances in the brain.

1 John 1:8–10 (NIV) 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

The Christian faith is unique in that it is not a works based righteousness that saves a man from the condemnation of hell. We are saved apart from our deeds, thereafter our deeds reveal our faith. James 2:24 (NIV) “24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” We are justified before men by our deeds because how we live betrays what we truly believe.

As believers we are secure in our salvation because of the way God saves us.

Ephesians 1:13–14 (NIV) 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Romans 8:37–39 (NIV) 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In conclusion, if one goes to hell it is because they died apart from Christ, not because of their deeds. Suicide can no more cancel the seal of the Holy Spirit or the finished work on the cross than lying, gossiping or sexual immorality. But if we are living like we do not believe God exists or like we do not fear God, then we would be wise to examine our selves to determine if we are in the faith.

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) 5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?