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Weekly posts and an opportunity to ask questions or give your perspective. Let's study the Bible TOGETHER!

30 March 2012

Living in Love - 30 March

So where did Jesus get His idea that these two commandments even existed?

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deut 6:5 (ESV)

Who are you to love?
How are you to love Him?
What does that mean – how will it look in your life?

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18  You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Lev 19:17-18 (ESV)

Who are you to love?
How are you to love them?
Why are you to love them?

Next, we’ll look at the Law – we call it the 10 Commandments.

1.    “You shall have no other gods before me.
2.    4  “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3.    7  “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
4.    8  “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
5.    12  “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
6.    13  “You shall not murder.
7.    14  “You shall not commit adultery.
8.    15  “You shall not steal.
9.    16  “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10.    17  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Ex 20:3-17 (ESV)

Which commands deal with our relationship to God? Make a list.
Make a second list of all the other commands. 
What is the central theme of each list? How does that relate to our study?
What did Jesus say was the most important command?
What did Jesus say was the second most important command?

Love is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions. The Pharisees saw the Law as a checklist to earn righteousness. Jesus said that the Law was  a guide to show us how to love God and love people. The result of loving God is loving people. Loving people shows that you love God. We must balance the two .

Are you living your life out of love for God? Is it showing in your love for people?

Perhaps you’re reading this study and you’ve not become a Christian – you’ve not accepted the free gift that God offers to all of us. Salvation is free. There is nothing you can do to earn it – you can’t be too bad or too good for God, because we are all sinners! If you have not placed your trust in Jesus Christ and asked Him to forgive you of your sins, do it now. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed. He already knows what you’ve done wrong. He already knows what you struggle with. But He went to the cross for you – just you – and He died so you could live eternally!

There’s not a special prayer that will make you a Christian. All you have to do is admit that you sin and ask Jesus to come into your heart. Ask Him to help you turn away from your sins and cleanse you. Thank Him for dying on the cross for you and for offering you the free gift of salvation.

When you become a Christian, will things magically get better? Nope. You’ll still be stuck with the same problems you had before you came to Christ. But there will be a big difference! You will have the confidence in knowing that you have a relationship with the Holy and Mighty God of the universe. You will have Someone to talk to (that’s what prayer is). You’ll have other people who struggle just like you that will pray for you. You will know that you are free because of God’s amazing grace.

Do you want more information? Ask the pastor, ask me, or ask someone at the church!

What’s the next step? GO TELL! Tell someone that you’ve received God’s free gift! Testify to His amazing grace. Then talk to the pastor. He can answer any questions you have and set you up for baptism.

If you’ve just accepted Jesus’ free gift, welcome to the FAMILY!

28 March 2012

Blog Extra!

As we study the Bible together, we see that God expects us to live holy and perfect lives. We also know that it's impossible to live that life -- but He offers us His grace through the life and death of  His Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus came to the earth to be the perfect, obedient Servant, willingly dying for your sin (and for mine). We celebrate His death and resurrection during Holy Week which culminates on Easter Sunday.

If you haven't been to church in a while, why not come and show the Savior that you're thankful for His sacrifice? And when you're making your plans, be sure to ask your friends to come. For some, Easter and Christmas are the only time they set foot in the church building. It's also the only time they can hear the Good News of salvation.

We look forward to seeing you at church on Palm Sunday and Easter!

Living in Love - 28 March

On Monday, we saw Jesus tell the lawyer (who had been sent to trap Him with His answer) tell those assembled that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. Today, we go to Paul’s writings to see how the law applies to the Christian.

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:8-10 (KJV)

So what does love look like? When we love, we don’t commit adultery, kill, steal, gossip, covet. We want to do no harm to a person. We delight in our loved one’s joys.

As Christians, are we to be more interested in “keeping the rules” or “acting in love”? Does acting in love mean we keep the rules?

We see the same story of the question/answer session in Mark’s gospel, but he has recorded an expanded conversation.

And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. Mark 12:32-34 (ESV)

How does the Pharisees’ answer help us to understand the importance of the two commandments? Do you see that it’s our heart that God wants even more than our ritual offerings?

How does this all apply to your life? Are there areas where you do well? Do you try your best to treat everyone as you would want to be treated (in thought, word, and deed)? Do you spend time with God, searching His scriptures, praying, singing joyfully to Him?

Are there areas where you don’t excel? Do you gossip? Do you look at the fancy car your boss has with jealousy? Do you forget to read the Bible regularly? Is your prayer life weak or nonexistent?

Take some time to assess your life based on the scriptures we’ve studied so far. Thank God for the places where you are doing well, and ask Him for help in the places where you are weak. If you would like me to pray for you, or help you in any way, email me or leave a comment on the blog.

One more study this week – see you Friday!

26 March 2012

Living in Love - 26 March

Welcome to this study! We will focus on Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees regarding the greatest commandment – and how it applies to our lives today.

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35  And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matt 22:34-40 (ESV)

(When Jesus said the Law and the Prophets, He was referring to what we know as the Old Testament).

These two commands seem simple, but with our sin nature, they are impossible to follow. Love God with everything – our heart, our soul and our mind?  We recently learned what it takes to walk the talk, and we know that it’s impossible without the Spirit of God living in us. Love my neighbor? Do you think Jesus meant your literal neighbor, or was He also talking about your family, your co-workers, your small group members?

And was Jesus’ intention to abolish the law that the Jews had lived under for all those years?

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19  Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:17-20 (ESV)

So, what was Jesus saying? How could two commands sum up all of the Law and the Prophets? That’s what this study is about! In previous studies we’ve learned how to pray, forgive, and walk the talk – now it’s time to see all we’ve learned put into action.

On Wednesday we will see what Paul says about the law and our Christian faith. Until then, if you have prayer requests , questions or comments, feel free to email me or leave a comment at the end of this post!
Remember to stop by my other blog – readthroughthebiblechallenge.blogspot.com – to keep up with the church challenge of reading the Bible in one year.
See you Wednesday.

19 March 2012

Walking the Talk - 19 March

This is the last day of the study. We’ve seen every genuine believer is inhabited by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our helper in our struggle to walk the talk. We’ve also found that believers no longer walk in the darkness, but in the light. We seek to walk as God would have us to – and to turn from the desires of the world. We also know that it’s difficult to do!

If we are living with the Spirit, we should have a relationship with Him. That relationship should show in our relationships with others.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20  giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21  submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Eph 5:15-22 (ESV)

Looking at these verses, we see that God wants us to focus our lives on Him, not on the pleasures of the world. Instead of  drunken revelry (or maybe too much TV or other unwholesome pleasures) we are to fill ourselves with the Spirit, focus on  our joy in Christ, and submitting to one another – because we understand God’s will.

Is there an aspect of these verses that you find easy to relate to and to accomplish? Is one area more difficult? Can you, for example, easily submit yourself to other Christians in accountability groups, follow your pastor’s leadership, and help disciple people? Is it easy to turn off the partying and focus on singing and praising God? In what areas do you need to ask God to help you?

We’re DONE! I hope that you have learned something about yourself as we explored  the Biblical mandate to walk the talk. Next week, we’ll begin to learn about the two greatest commandments: Loving God and Loving People.

How has this study impacted you? Have you been challenged? Convicted? Confirmed? Are you taking the Read Through The Bible Challenge? How’s that going? Let me know!