Tag Archives: Bible study

How Quickly

One minute we seem to be all about Jesus, and the next minute we have changed our focus. Sometimes this means that we are not deeply rooted, or not rooted at all. When things are going well or when God is at the forefront of our lives, we are all about worshiping God and serving His people. We are attending church on Sunday and perhaps even interacting with a Bible study group. But then something happens. Boom. Something shakes our world and oh how quickly we do an about face. We change direction. It’s as if we are a different person. What happened to the way we were living? What happened to our focus on God?

It is important for us be deeply rooted in Christ, to have a strong foundation that will stay standing despite any circumstances that will come our way. Yes, we will falter from time to time; however, we should not sway every time to wind blows. Focus on your roots. Study the Word. Hear the Word. Spend time with fellow believers. Pray daily. Do whatever you can to be closer to God. Allow your eyes to be fixed on God. Understand that the moment will come when your world will be shaken. Hold on tight and keep pressing forward.

“At the end of the forty days and nights, the LORD handed me the two stone tablets inscribed with the words of the covenant. Then the LORD said to me, ‘Get up! Go down immediately, for the people you brought out of Egypt have corrupted themselves. How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! They have melted gold and made an idol for themselves!’” – Deuteronomy 9:11-12 [NLT]

Strong Vines

As I was trying to prepare the flower beds for Fall, I made yet another attempt to tear out the vines that are planted in many areas of my yard. These vines drive me crazy every time I take the effort to remove them. If you are not familiar with vines, you do not understand the nuisance it is to remove them. You begin to pull some of the vine, but soon realize you are not close to the root. Instead, you are pulling different strands of new growth, connected to other growth. It’s hard to even pull anything out because everything grows connected and is bound together underground, connected with the strong root. The root system keeps me from ever getting rid of the vines.

Imagine now how Jesus speaks of our need to abide in Him. He promises if we abide in Him, He will abide in us (John 15:4). He is our strong root system, our foundation. Paul wrote that we should let our “roots grow down into Him.” If we are rooted with Him, we are like those vines with the strong root, that is difficult to move. When we are rooted in Christ, our “faith will grow strong.” When we are rooted in Christ, we “overflow with thankfulness.”

Ask the Spirit to reveal to you your root system. If you are unsure if you are abiding in Him, consider how much time you devote to prayer, Bible reading and Bible study, and walking in the will of God. If these things sound foreign, or if these things are not of most importance on your list of priorities, it is time to start reviewing your list. Look at what you are trying to grow. Look at where you are investing yourself. Do you want to live a life growing with the strong vine, or are you trying to grow yourself to build yourself up? You’ll find that the little sprouts are easy to pull from the ground, very different from the strong rooted vines. Don’t live like a little sprout.

“Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:7 [NLT]

Grass Clipping

I have a lot of OCD tendencies. When it comes to the lawn, I like the grass to be cut weekly. In my opinion, there is an acceptable height to the blades of grass. If the grass is not clipped at the right time, it will continue to grow unattended and then there’s overgrowth. On my walk with the dogs, I always come upon a lawn that is overgrown. The owners let the grass grow unattended for weeks. By the time the lawn is cared for, there is grass growing over the footpath.

Just as we need to clip our fingernails, get a haircut, and brush our teeth, so we need to care for our yardwork, cleaning, and laundry. But it doesn’t end there!! We cannot forget our spiritual health. Our spiritual health needs attention. God is great at pruning. As you walk with Him, He will continue to prune you and help you to grow the way He always intended. Our part in all of this is to dive deep into His Word. We cannot become dull. Continue to take in God’s Word. Write it on your heart. Allow it to reveal to you our heavenly Father. It’s all about knowing God.

As you desire to know God more, as you continue to read His Word and follow His will, He will continue to prune and grow you. Listen closely to His voice. Remember when He asks you to loosen your grip on something, it is because it is for your best. Every clip. Every snip. Every word. It’s all for your very best.

“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” – John 15:2 [ESV]

Made for More

Did you know you were made for more? Jesus said that we would do greater things than even He did during His earthly ministry. It’s true. Sadly, many of us never step into what God has prepared long ago. We allow our fears to dictate our steps. We make up excuses for not stepping out. We think that others have a ministry, but we don’t have our own ministry. For others, it simply is a matter of not being all in when it comes to walking with Jesus.

Each of us has a ministry. If you think you don’t have a ministry because your spouse is in ministry, that’s incorrect. You each have a ministry role. Each of you have important roles. If you don’t reach out in faith because you believe you are limited, realize that you have the Spirit of God living within you. That is the MOST POWERFUL FORCE in the world inside you! The Holy Spirit with equip you and empower you (Romans 15:13). Simply show up. You have an important ministry.

If you have a list of excuses as to why you don’t do something, consider the reason for the excuses. Are these excuses justified? Maybe you don’t show up to Bible study because you don’t feel like you know enough about the Bible. Guess where you should be then? Bible study. Maybe you don’t help out with the mission work because you feel unqualified. Who is qualified? No one is qualified by their own merits. God alone qualifies (2 Corinthians 3:5). Perhaps you don’t attend church because you feel unworthy. Everyone who attends church is unworthy. We all fall short (Romans 3:23). It is only because Jesus died on the Cross that we can approach God.

Today, remember you were made for more. Reach out for the more. Don’t stand for less. God is a big God and He has big plans. Embrace them.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” – John 14:12 [NIV]

 

Core Exercises

Yesterday’s appointment at the chiropractor wasn’t a fun one. Typically, one of my favorite times of the month is when I go in for my monthly alignment. Last month, something didn’t feel right. As the doctor and I discussed the situation from the previous appointment, he discovered that the other doctor never gave me the next step of exercises. I was faithfully doing the stretch exercises I was given long ago; however, I was supposed to receive core exercises thereafter, exercises that would get me to the next level. Without having the core exercises, my weak joint continues to give me great problems.

Just like I needed to go from the basic stretch exercises to core exercises, so we as followers of Christ, are not to just stay stuck on the basics of our faith. There is a time for spiritual milk, and then there’s a time when we are able to have solid food. If we stay milk drinkers, never attempting to take a bite of the solid food, we will never get to where we are meant to be, nor will we grow into who we are meant to be, because we will be stuck. Solid food is for the mature (Hebrews 5:14).

Remember friends, you are a child of God. By faith in Jesus Christ, not only are you a child of God, but you have the Spirit of God within you. That being said, you have the option to continue drinking the basics of Christianity, or to continue to grow. The Psalmist speaks about a desire for God, as he says, “Earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You” (Psalm 63:1 NIV). This is the thirst we should always have in our walk. In 1 Peter 2:2, we read of the importance to long for, to crave pure spiritual milk. We can note that there is a time for milk, and a time for solid food (1 Corinthians 3:2). Today, consider where you are at with your walk. Ask the Spirit to reveal to you if you need a refreshing of spiritual milk, or if you should be moving on to some solid food. May He continue to break you, mold you, and continue to reveal Himself to you.

The Response of Nehemiah

In Nehemiah 1, we read about a report that Nehemiah receives from Jerusalem. When he hears about what is happening to God’s people and to the state of Jerusalem, he weeps. Not only does he mourn for days, but he fasts and prays continuously. He is more than a little upset. He is unsettled. He is grieved.

When I read about this grief, this mourning by Nehemiah, I cannot help but wonder if we ever grieve like that because of the spiritual state of others. Are we uncomfortable because God is not honored, when we know He alone deserves all honor, glory and praise? Is it upsetting when we see something that once glorified God, now broken and in disarray? When we see brokenness, do we seek out God to heal, restore, and redeem?

Today we are not looking to rebuild a wall. Nehemiah took care of that great work. But God has put a vision in your heart. He wants to do great things through you to glorify Him. Seek Him. Ask Him to reveal this great work. Ask Him to strengthen your feet. Ask Him to help you speak boldly. Press forward and watch Him move in mighty ways.

“When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” – Nehemiah 1:4 [NASB]

 

 

Keep Alert

This morning during our walk, Max once again proved that he is a horrible hunter. As a Labrador Retriever, his breed is known for hunting and retrieving. The only thing Max is good at retrieving is tennis balls and food that may fall to the floor. During our walk, I could see up ahead that there were two small dogs. Marci saw them too. Max, however, caught the scent of the dogs with his nose, and his head went down. With his nose to the ground, he tried to sniff them out though they were right in front of us. Simply lifting his head and the great mystery would have been solved.

All laughs aside, the truth is that many of us find ourselves not staying alert. Rather than lift our heads or open our eyes, we walk around blind to what is happening. But the Bible tells us often to stay alert. We are to keep alert because we don’t know when the Lord will return. We are to keep alert because the devil prowls around trying to steal, kill, and destroy. Sadly, we oftentimes live life very much like we need a few cups of coffee—dazed and confused.

How can we be on the alert? It takes a lot more than coffee, though I love coffee. If we are so focused on God and His Word, we are more likely to recognize God moving around us. If we are fixing our eyes on Him, it is easier to know what is not of Him. As you continue to drown yourself in the Word of God, you will be more familiar with the great I AM, and His attributes. As you quiet the noise of the world, and spend time communicating with Him (prayer), He will open up to you with revelation.

 

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8 [NLT]

Ephesians Study: Prepared for Battle

[Ephesians 6:10-24]

“We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

“He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.” (Isaiah 59:17)

11, 13 – Put on the WHOLE armor of God – Don’t walk around half-dressed, under-dressed or naked

WHY? You put on the whole armor of God TO STAND AGAINST THE SCHEMES OF THE DEVIL (v. 11), to WITHSTAND IN THE EVIL DAY & TO STAND FIRM (v. 13) [SATAN]

12 – The battle is not against flesh and blood. It is against: rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over present darkness, spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places [DEMONS]

14-18 – The Whole Armor:

  • Belt of Truth (v. 14) – Ephesians 4:14 – “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.”
  • Breastplate of Righteousness (v. 14) – Righteousness of Jesus – Romans 3:22 – “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”
  • Shoes of the Gospel of Peace (v. 15) – Inner peace and readiness – Confidence of God’s union with – Ephesians 2:14 – “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.”
  • Shield of Faith (v. 16) – Trusting God – walking in faith – Hebrews 11:1 – “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
  • Helmet of Salvation (v. 17) – Salvation through faith in Christ – Great hope of salvation – 1 Thessalonians 5:8 – “But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.”
  • Sword of the SpiritWord of God (v. 17) – Countering deception and accusation – Hebrew 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
  • PRAYING AT ALL TIMES (v. 18) – 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – “Pray without ceasing.”

With JESUS – VICTORY [STANDING FIRM]

But it’s not automatically passed down – must take possession. Even after conversion Satan can still defeat you if you disobey God.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7)

Stand firm – “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)

 

Bible Study Questions

The Helmet of Salvation (v. 17) is crucial for battle. A soldier does not enter battle without proper headgear, just as a football player would not run on the field without his helmet. A helmet is crucial to life, protecting your head from fatal blows. Why is the Helmet of Salvation crucial to battle?

Read Ephesians 6:16. This verse speaks of the flaming darts (fiery arrows) of the devil.

  • What are the flaming darts?
  • How does the shield of faith stop them?

Righteousness is important. We cannot be righteous. We clothe ourselves in the righteousness of Christ. We are called to put on the Breastplate of Righteousness for battle. Read Colossians 3:2 and Philippians 4:8. What does this have to do with putting on the Breastplate?

The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace are the footwear for battle. The Bible reminds us that because of Christ we are at peace with God. God is for us. Through Christ we are no longer separated from God. How do the Shoes fit us for battle?

This is one part of a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on Ephesians. The 12 weeks include:

1- Sons and Daughters

2- Immeasurable Greatness

3- God’s Workmanship

4- Our Cornerstone

5- Least of the Saints

6- Love of Christ

7- Abundantly More

8- Unity of the Body

9- Anger Management

10- Exposed by the Light

11- Submission

12- Prepared for Battle

 

 

 

Ephesians Study: Submission

[Ephesians 5:21 – 6:9]

21 – Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

  • To submit oneself
  • To be subject
  • To be obedient

21 – submitting – to one another

22 – submit – wives to husband

24 – is subject unto – Church to Christ

Must have the Spirit (see verse 18) – can’t do it alone

God puts people in position of authority

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” (Romans 13:1)

Different ways of submission

  • Submission to God (James 4:7)
  • Submission to government leaders (Romans 13:1-7)
  • Submission to church leaders (1 Peter 5:5)
  • Submission of wives to husbands
  • Submission of children to their parents
  • Submission of slaves to masters

Reason We Submit

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. This is a fear that acknowledges that Christ is Lord of all, and everything is under His rule.

  • To Accomplish His Purposes
  • To Develop Godly Character & Grow in Wisdom

Even God submits

God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All are equal. But they submit to each other to fulfill the Divine Plan. The Son submits to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:28). The Spirit submits to the Father (John 14:26) and the Son (John 16:13-14).

Submit Joyfully

  • Know & trust God’s great plan
  • Submission to human authority is submitting to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-24)

 

Bible Study Questions:

What comes to mind when you hear the word “Submission”?

How does the world define submission? How is this definition different from God’s definition?

Romans 13:1 says that we are to submit to our government leaders. What makes this difficult? Why must we do this? When should we object if ever? How?

We read that within the Trinity there is submission. What does this mean?

What are the benefits of submission? How does submitting benefit the Church? What have you personally learned from submission?

Read Philippians 2:1-11. How does this passage tell us to submit? How did Jesus demonstrate this best?

This is one part of a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on Ephesians. The 12 weeks include:

1- Sons and Daughters

2- Immeasurable Greatness

3- God’s Workmanship

4- Our Cornerstone

5- Least of the Saints

6- Love of Christ

7- Abundantly More

8- Unity of the Body

9- Anger Management

10- Exposed by the Light

11- Submission

12- Prepared for Battle

Ephesians Study: Exposed by the Light

 

[Ephesians 5:1-20]

8 – For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. [NIV]

9 – For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. [NLT]

11 – Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. [ESV]

13 – But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible. [ESV]

15 – Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise. [NASB]

16 – Make the most of your opportunities because these are evil days. [GW]

17 – So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. [NASB]

18 – And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit. [HCSB]

Taking the Next Step

  • Share Truth with Grace – this exposes the darkness
  • Make the most of your opportunities – even if you are a small flicker, it’s light
  • Understand the will of God – Prayer and Bible study crucial
  • Allow the Spirit to move through you rather than the world deciding your path

Bible Study Questions:

GOD IS LIGHT:

  • Read 1 John 1:5. This verse says that God is Light. Further it says that in Him there is no darkness. What does it mean when John writes that “God is Light”?
  •  God is Light but He is also the Father of Light (see James 1:17) and the Possessor of Light (see 1 Peter 2:9). What does this mean? How has God shined His light in your life? Consider this and share on the rays of light paper.

UNAPPROACHABLE LIGHT:

  • In 1 Timothy 6:16, it says that God lives in unapproachable light. This passage is a great reminder that God is pure and holy. We read in the Bible that no one can set eyes on God. When God passed by Moses, recall how God had to cover Moses until He passed (see Exodus 33-34). We are able to approach God now through Christ Jesus alone. The veil is torn. Remember that nothing can stand in the way of you and your relationship with God. Jesus has bridged the gap. Consider what gets in the way of you and God. Take a piece of paper. Write down what gets in the way. Tear the paper, remembering that the veil is torn. Nothing need come between you and your Father.

UNEXTINGUISHABLE LIGHT:

  • In John 1:5, we read that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. What does this mean to you? Why can’t the light be extinguished? Pray for the Spirit to reveal how you can shine His light in the darkness.

REBELS OF LIGHT:

  • Read Job 24:13-14. There are people who are rebels of light. They do not know the ways of God. These people walk in the darkness.
  • Read Isaiah 5:20. This verse speaks about those who call evil good and good evil. We see these people so often in the world. How can we share some light in this dark world? Take a candle. Light it using one of the lit candles at the table. Place it with the other candles and pray for this light to multiply out into our streets.

This is one part of a 12-week Sermon Series and Bible Study focused on Ephesians. The 12 weeks include:

1- Sons and Daughters

2- Immeasurable Greatness

3- God’s Workmanship

4- Our Cornerstone

5- Least of the Saints

6- Love of Christ

7- Abundantly More

8- Unity of the Body

9- Anger Management

10- Exposed by the Light

11- Submission

12- Prepared for Battle