Showing posts from April, 2020

Is Faith Over-Rated?

(77) Some things that might be over-rated… We often assume all the lawyers questioning Jesus were “bad,” but blanket assumptions are frequently wrong. So now a rich young ruler brings his question to the poor young Galilean preacher. Read Matthew 19:16, Mark 10:17, Luke 18:18 1.        Have we ever asked this question? What sort of answers come to mind? 2.        Read Matthew 19:17a, Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19 Why would Jesus start his answer this way? a.        Would it be normal to say “Good teacher”? Or to say “good thing”? b.       If not, what might the young man’s saying “good” have meant (in either case)? 3.        When we’re looking for advice, where do we look? a.        How many of us have shelves full of good self-help books? b.       And what does Jesus’ reply tell us about the importance of looking to God for answers? 4.        Then Jesus tells the young man what’s needed. Before reading (if possible) what do you think his answer is? Then Read Matthew 19:17b-

How do you make the Law simpler?

(76) Relationships, Simplicity and Law So here’s Jesus, a prophet from Galilee, wandering Judea, the land of the Law. And of course, the Law is what the lawmakers want to test him on: Read Matthew 19:1-3, Mark 10:1-2 (also Luke 16:17-19, but we read that earlier). 1.        Why are the crowds following Jesus? And why are the Pharisees following him? 2.        Read Matthew 19:4-5, Mark 10:6-8, Genesis 2:22-24. Is marriage a law or a gift? 3.        Read Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:9. Is divorce in the hands of man or in the hands of God? Or – Read Mark 10:12 C ould divorce be in the hands of a woman? (And what about marriage—is that in our hands or His?) 4.        Read Matthew 19:7-9, Mark 10:3-5. Is divorce a law or a gift? 5.        Read Mark 10:10-12 (Luke 16:17-19, Matthew 5:32) Is divorce simple or complicated? a.        How should we react when society makes divorce simpler? b.       How should we react when churches agree that some marriages must be dissolved? For examp

Are we Thankful in a Time of Trouble?

(75) How do we balance our prayers? Jesus’ disciples must be getting the message by now, that there’s a lot to learn. Sometimes we need to get the message too. But, like the disciples, we also need to remember it’s about relationship with someone who knows how much we need to learn, not about getting everything right for ourselves. Read Luke 18:1-8 1.        Verse 1. Jesus tells them to pray and not lose heart. What sort of thing makes us give up? 2.        Verse 2 introduces an “unjust” judge. What do we look for in our judges? a.        What do we look for in political leaders? b.       In church leaders? 3.        At this point, who might the listeners have thought Jesus was going to criticize? 4.        Verse 3-5. Jesus could well be telling a familiar story to his listeners. People did persist in complaining, in hopes that they’d finally be heard. How much effort do we put into being heard by human authorities? 5.        Verse 6- 7. How much effort do we put into

How do faith, forgiveness, healing and thankfulness go together?

If illness is caused by sin, maybe healing is caused by forgiveness. But if illness is just a fact of life, a random chance pandemic perhaps, who do we thank when we're healed? We should all be thanking doctors, nurses and all those front-line helpers risking their lives at this time. Will we pray for them too? And will we thank God as well? (74) Giving Thanks Jesus reminded the disciples that God forgives, we must forgive, and forgiving doesn’t make us heroes. Now he passes into Samaria again, at least according to our chronology. He’s not too far from Jerusalem. The lepers he meets would probably be a mixture of Jews and Samaritans, as they’d got more than enough problems without religious argument. 1.        Read Luke 17:11-19. Lepers generally lived outside towns and villages, perhaps forming communities together. If they know anything about Jesus, they’ll know he is a Jew. What does their crying out to Jesus in verse 13 tell us about them? 2.        Jesus sends them to t

Were we told to Rebuke and Forgive, or Forgive and Forget?

Returning to our chronological Gospel study, Jesus' listeners have probably let the whole "if someone comes back from the dead" bit fly over their heads. But "the Law and the Prophets"--that's the world they know, words they know, and obedience that they can control. We like being in control. We like knowing who's good and who's bad, who's in and who's out, and how to maintain order. We're may be not so keen on the forgiving bit though... (73) Rebuke and Forgive Jesus has just told the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. So now his listeners know: if people won’t follow Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen to someone who rises from the dead. They’re probably not thinking much about rising from the dead at the moment—a weird thought, easily ignored. But they might be wondering how the Law and the prophets apply to people following Jesus. 1.        Read Luke 17:1-2. Who are the little ones? ( Matthew 18:6 and Mark 9:42 mention th