Tag Archives: Bible study

Meet the Teacher: You!

cross-trainingSchool starts this week. Algebra and adverbs. History and health. Social studies and Spanish. Teachers enjoy a captive audience as they share their particular passion. Kids teach lessons too through the power of peer pressure.

So where do parents come in? What are we to teach? David tells us in Psalm 34:11, it’s the most important lesson of all:

“Come, my children, listen to me; and I will teach you the fear of the LORD.”

Fear, not in that we are afraid, well, maybe a little, but fear in that we have a proper perspective of who God is and who we are.

A recent trip to the beach reshaped this perspective for me. The ocean’s vastness astounds me. Yet Scripture says God stores it in jars. (Psalm 33:7 NIV) Really? The Pacific Ocean fits in one of God’s jars? My Texas mind sees images of Mason quart jars filled with canned veggies. I picture God’s pantry shelves loaded with jars neatly labeled Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and so on. As my picture of God grows, so do my fear and respect for Him. The God who stores the sea in His personal Mason jars can handle anything coming my way. He’ll do the same for you. For your kids and mine.

School is back. Class starts today. What are you teaching?

Questions:

What things have colored your picture of God?

Are you familiar with the song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”? Does nature affect your view of God? How?

Disrespect is rampant in our culture. Do you have personal struggles with respect, especially with authority figures?

How does our culture encourage disrespect?

Does this culture clash make it difficult to give God the respect He deserves? The time He deserves?

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Unchained

cross-training“Paul replied, ‘Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.’”(Acts 26:29)

Shackles.

Unwieldy things. Heavy. Noisy. They don’t go with anything, yet Paul wore these less than lovely accessories for over four years. Look at the final verse of Acts:

“Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about

the Lord Jesus Christ.”(Acts 28:31)

Boldly, clinking and clanking with every step, yet without hindrance.

Are you dragging some chains? Demands at work? Demands at home? A wounded heart? How about the kids? Oh, kids wear chains too. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words can cause internal bleeding and sometimes, chains. Chains like:

Anxiety over tests and grades

Sibling rivalry

Body or image issues

But look at Paul. Boldly. Without hindrance. In spite of his chains.

Paul’s God was bigger. So big, the chains were overshadowed and forgotten.

God’s bigger than our chains too. Look past the chains and focus on Him. Allow the shackles to dwindle in the light of His Presence. Be bold. All things are possible.

Questions:

What chains are you dragging? Worry, pressure, hurt feelings, insecurity?

How have they hindered you? What have you been afraid to do because of ___________?

Paul is arrested in Acts 21. Skim through Acts 21-28. Look at Paul’s physical situation and contrast it to his spiritual state.

Bring your chains to Jesus and ask for help in overcoming them. Keep a journal over the next several days and weeks. Record His response.

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Pick Up Please

cross-training“Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call to him. (Psalm 4:3)

Sometimes I don’t hear my phone.

Sometimes I choose not to look when I receive a text.

This drives my family crazy, but I refuse to be tied to the thing. Especially when certain children text me from school (Aren’t you supposed to be doing something–like school work?) asking me to pick up sundry items while I’m at the grocery store. Really?

Thankfully, God is different. He doesn’t mind being on call 24/7, 60/60. When I call, He always picks up. When I shoot a quick text, His reply may not be immediate, but His attention is. I’m not just some random number. I’m in His contacts.

Are you?

If so, He hears. He knows. From the toddler praying over a boo-boo to the mom praying over an undiagnosed lump, He hears. He cares. He’s picking up, even as we speak.

Talk to Him. His plan includes unlimited texts and minutes, free long distance, and no dead zones.

It’s the family plan, so call.

Questions:

What are your thoughts when a random number appears on your phone versus a name you recognize?

Do you respond differently to the two? Do you think God’s response is different for one of His children versus one who is not a believer yet? (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9)

How about close contacts? Do you have a special ringtone for them? What would God’s ringtone for you sound like?

Does the fact that God’s response is not always immediate affect your belief of whether He is listening?

How can you and your family cultivate the habit of calling God first?

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Cross Training

cross-trainingDon’t Jump

“The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”(Proverbs 18:17)

In Norton Juster’s novel, The Phantom Tollbooth, Milo, Humbug, and Tock find themselves on the Island of Conclusions:

“Now will you tell me where we are?” asked Tock as he looked around the desolate island.

“To be sure,” said Canby; “you’re on the Island of Conclusions. Make yourself at home. You’re apt to be here for some time.”

“But how did we get here?”asked Milo, who was still a bit puzzled by being there at all.

“You jumped, of course,” explained Canby. “That’s the way most everyone gets here. It’s really quite simple: every time you decide something without having a good reason, you jump to Conclusions whether you like it or not. It’s such an easy trip to make that I’ve been here hundreds of times.”

“But this is such an unpleasant-looking place,” Milo remarked.

“Yes, that’s true,” admitted Canby; “it does look much better from a distance.”

Jumping to conclusions comes quite naturally. Hear some juicy gossip—jump. See something suspicious—jump. Your things not where you thought you left them—jump.

The verse above encourages us to stay put and gather more information before we take a flying leap. Think of Mary and Joseph and a certain unexpected and early (as in before the wedding) pregnancy. No one likes to be judged before all the facts have been presented, so give others the benefit of the doubt. As Tock, Milo, and Humbug will tell you, getting back from the Island of Conclusions requires a long swim.

Questions:

Describe our ability to reason. How does it work?

Does this ability come from God? Why?(Exodus 4:10-12)

Do you think we have a tendency to jump? Why?

How do we reconcile this ability to reason with a tendency to jump to conclusions?

When have you jumped and regretted it? Has anyone jumped to a conclusion regarding you?

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Cross Training

cross-trainingGuard Duty

Judea. Not the best assignment for a Roman legion. Nor for a governor. These men entered a hostile country with a culture and religion vastly different from their own. Temples and sacrifices, they could relate to, but one God? A coming Messiah?

Seriously?

Yet numerous Romans are drawn into the Easter story:

  • Pilate and his wife with her strange nightmare (Matt. 27:19)
  • The soldiers at the Praetorium responsible for Jesus’ flogging, his crown of thorns, and royal robes (Matt. 2:27-31)
  • The centurion at the cross who not only experiences an earthquake, but proclaims, “Surely he was the Son of God.” (Matt. 27:54)
  • The soldiers posted at the tomb who witnessed yet another earthquake and an angelic appearance. Scripture records they shook from fear and became as dead men. (Matt. 28:1-4)

Think of the conversations over the next week: Friday afternoon soldiers with Sunday morning guards, Friday afternoon soldiers to Friday afternoon centurion, Friday afternoon centurion to the legion commander, the legion commander and Pontius Pilate, Pilate and the missus. Up and down the chain of command, eyewitness reports flew. Was the information just another briefing, a report to be filed (or scrolled?)?

Or was it life changing?

Questions:

Look at Matthew 28:1-4 and 11-15. Note, not all of the soldiers on guard went to the chief priests. How do you think the scene played out when both sets reported to their CO? (That’s Commanding Officer for you civilians.)

Look at Matthew 27: 50-55. Why would the centurion and the other soldiers identify Jesus as the “Son of God”? Was it a term they heard from the crowd (vs. 36-44) or did something in their own religion connect with what they witnessed?

Pilate also struggled with Jesus: who He was and how he (Pilate) should handle the case. What made this case a special challenge for the Gentile governor? Normally Pilate would not have cared. What changed?

Do you identify with any of these groups?

Have you seen similar struggles in people you know?

What has made this same information life changing for you?

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Cross Training

cross-trainingUnbroken

The little donkey had no idea he would make history. As he trotted in the corral and ate his hay, he never fathomed he would fulfill prophecy. He was a youngster and still close to his mama. Unbroken to saddle,he entertained no thoughts of carrying a rider that day, much less a royal one.

I’m sure he was puzzled when two strangers untied him and led him away. Perhaps even more so when his master permitted it. As these strangers laid cloaks on his back, did he shy and put his ears back in warning? Was he nervous as his first rider approached?

I’m guessing as the donkey looked into the eyes of his Creator, his choice was simple. Submit and obey. His King required his service and the little donkey was willing.

Are we willing too?

Psalm 32: 9-10 (NIV) says:

“Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.”

If a stubborn little donkey who had never been ridden can submit to the King of kings, why won’t we?

If a simple farm animal recognizes the Ruler of the universe in a Nazarene carpenter, shouldn’t we see Him too?

What makes you dig in your heels and put your ears back in warning?

Let it go–and come.

Questions:

Why do you think Scripture records the detail of the donkey colt being unbroken?

Put yourself in the donkey’s horseshoes. What do you think the day was like for him?

Jesus bids us “Come.” What is your response? Fear, excitement, reservation, humility? Why?

Psalm 32: 10 reminds us the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds those who trust him. How does your level of trust compares to the donkey’s?

When have you trusted God and He came through? Choose one thing you will trust Him with today and come to Him.

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Cross Training

cross-trainingWho Are Your “Least of These”?

During the last week of Jesus’ life, Matthew records the teaching of the parable of the sheep and the goats. Take a look at Jesus’ words:

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” . . . “He will reply, ‘whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” (Matthew 25: 40, 45 NIV)

As we scan the globe, the needs overwhelm us: Africa, Haiti, tsunami victims, child trafficking, hunger, poverty, and sickness. Can one person really make a difference in the flood of human depravity and need?

The King says, “Yes.” Not only yes, but He counts such service as rendered to Him. Conversely, He reckons the lack of it as a personal neglect. Yikes. God appears to take our treatment of our brother (or lack of it) seriously. Maybe we should too.

So, who is your “least of these”?

As I began to pray about my “least,” God’s answer surprised me. He placed His hands on my shoulders and turned me, not towards Africa or Asia, but to my neighbors and my family. While we still send checks across the globe, God has called us to active service here.

Honestly–sending the check is easier.

Sometimes tears for the starving child in India come more easily than for the relative who has repeatedly hurt my feelings. Ouch. It appears I lean towards the goat side of things.

Lamb of God, make my heart like yours.

As we prepare for Easter this month, will you join me in asking God, “Who is my “least”?

Questions:

In the story of the sheep and the goats, what are some things Jesus lists that were done (or were neglected)?

Why does Jesus count the service (or lack of it) as done unto Him?

How does this story tie to the two greatest commandments: to love God and love your neighbor as yourself?

Do believers have a responsibility to address the needs of the world? Why?

Pray about your “least.’ Share your answers as a family.

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