"Loving One Another": Lesson Thirteen 10/20/13

Lesson Thirteen: Positive Commands: A Focus on Actions: Commands 5: "Assemble Together With One Another"

Review: The positive "one another commands" are divided into 2 main categories, the second category of which is further divided into 4 more subdivisions:

1. Verses that Focus on Attitudes – command 1: "Have the same mind with one another"

2. Verses that Focus on Actions

a. Verses which promote spiritual growth and health in the Body of Christ

e.g. Command 2: "Encourage and Build Up One Another", Command 3: "Admonish One Another", and Command 4: "Comfort and Encourage One Another"

b. Verses which promote the good of the Body of Christ

c. Verses which promote unity and peace in the Body of Christ

d. Verses which promote ministry and the function of the Body of Christ

Tonight, we will continue looking at verses which promote the spiritual growth and health of the body of Christ:

Table Discussion (Anyone can be the table leader, be sure to let everyone speak, this is an opportunity to share with and help each other in our understanding of God’s Word, it is okay if you don’t get through every question, discussion and study with each other is more important):

1. Command 5: "Assemble Together with One Another".

a. What are your views as to WHY members of the church are to assemble together?

b. Read Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 10:24-25

c. How does our assembling together relate to our ability to carry out the commands in the above verses to "sing" and "encourage" each other?

d. How does a failure to assemble together affect the individual Christian who forsakes the Christian assembly?

e. How does a Christian choosing to forsake the assembly affect the other Christian who commit to attending the Christian assembly?

f. Discuss is the "primary focus" of Hebrews 10:24-25. Is it (1) "to consider one another" or (2) "to assemble together"?

g. "Consider" is the Greek katanoeo (katanoevw), "to consider attentively, perceive, observe."

h. According to Hebrews 10:24-25, why are we to "consider" one another?

i. How does a failure to "assemble with one another" show a failure to "consider one another"?

j. Discuss how the church can lose focus of the reason we are to assemble together?

k. What kinds of things do we need to be paying attention to regarding one another when we assemble?

l. What type of things do you find yourself talking about to others when you assemble with the church?

m. What types to things should we be conversing to others when we assemble as a church?

n. Why do we fail to talk to each other in a more meaningful way?

* Next week, we will continue looking at verses which promote the spiritual growth and health of the body of Christ

"Loving One Another": Lesson Twelve (10/13/13)

Lesson Twelve: Positive Commands: A Focus on Actions: Commands 3 and 4: "Admonish One Another" and "Comfort and Encourage One Another"

Review: The positive "one another commands" are divided into 2 main categories, the second category of which is further divided into 4 more subdivisions:

1. Verses that Focus on Attitudes – command 1: "Have the same mind with one another"

2. Verses that Focus on Actions

a. Verses which promote spiritual growth and health in the Body of Christ

e.g. Command 2: "Encourage and Build Up One Another"

b. Verses which promote the good of the Body of Christ

c. Verses which promote unity and peace in the Body of Christ

d. Verses which promote ministry and the function of the Body of Christ

Last week, we began looking at verses that focus on "actions" with regard to our loving one another. We began by studying verses which promote the spiritual growth and health of the body of Christ as we looked at the 2nd One another command to "Encourage and Build Up One Another and the background for the need for these verses which promote the spiritual growth and health of the body of Christ (i.e. as Christians we are called to live in a "hostile" environment).

Tonight, we will continue looking at verses which promote the spiritual growth and health of the body of Christ:

Table Discussion (Anyone can be the table leader, be sure to let everyone speak, this is an opportunity to share with and help each other in our understanding of God’s Word, it is okay if you don’t get through every question, discussion and study with each other is more important):

1. Command 3: "Admonish One Another". Read Romans 15:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Colossians 1:28.

a. The word "admonish" is the Greek word noutheteo (nouqetevw), "to put in mind, to admonish, warn, advise, instruct." Actually, the word noutheteo doesn’t refer to casual communication or normal-type teaching. It implies a definite exhortation, correction, and warning. When this word is used, there is always the implication of a problem. It presupposes an obstacle that must be removed or changed. One scholar says, "Some degree of opposition has been encountered, and one wishes to subdue or remove it, not by punishment, but by influencing the nous" (mind). Certainly, there is in this word some kind of a moral appeal for change in behavior through warning and biblical instruction, or putting sense into the mind with a strong appeal to the will through understanding.

b. What do these passages above indicate regarding who in the church should be providing admonishing to Christians?

c. According to Romans 15:14, what two things are required to make us competent to warn, instruct, or counsel one another?

d. How would you define "goodness"? (cf. Matthew 7:3-5; Galatians 6:1-5)

e. Why does a person need to be "filled with all knowledge" in order to be able to admonish another?

f. Read Romans 14:1-12; 13-23; 15:1-13, what potential problems might we run into in trying to admonish another person with regard to "knowledge" and "questionable practices" or "questionable issues"?

2. Command 4: "Comfort and Encourage One Another". Read 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25.

a. The Greek word used in each of the above passages translated as "comfort" or "encourage" is parakaleo (parakalevw). It may mean, depending on the context, "to summon, call to one’s side to give aid," then "to exhort, entreat, beseech," but it is often used in the sense of "to strengthen, encourage," or "comfort, console" as one who comes alongside to give aid, strength, comfort, courage. It means doing whatever is needed to bring courage into the lives of believers. To encourage is to bring courage. "Encouragement is the kind of expression that helps someone want to be a better Christian, even when life is rough." Courage is the quality of mind that enables people to encounter difficulty and danger with firmness and resolve in spite of inner fears, to continue on in the pressures of life by faith so that we don’t throw in the towel.

b. Why did the Hebrew Christians and Thessalonian Christians need "encouragement? (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4; Hebrews 2:1; 3:12-13).

c. Read Joshua 1:1-9. What are some ways we can receive encouragement and encourage one another? (cf. Romans 15:4; Hebrews 12:1-2; 13:5-6, 7; Acts 4:36; 9:26-27).

* Next week, we will continue looking at verses which promote the spiritual growth and health of the body of Christ

"Endure, My Son..." (2 Timothy 1:8 - 2:13) - Bill Dilks

Christian Character:
"Endure, My Son..."
(2 Timothy 1:8 - 2:13)

Introduction:
1. Note the example of a West German runner in the marathon in the 1980 Los         Angles Olympics. In the toughest times of life we, like her, have all the support of heaven and the intercession of the Spirit along with God's love delivered through Christ, but we have to endure. What motivates a person to  endure, to persevere? Why does one quit and another give until there is no more to give just to finish?
2. Background for 2 Timothy: Paul was imprisoned and facing death (2 Timothy         4:6-8) while opposition and unfaithfulness were growing (2 Timothy 1:15; 2:14-18; 3:1-9,13; 4:14-16).
3. In this all Paul is saying "Endure, My Son". But how?

I. I HAVE A PURPOSE IN CHRIST - 1:8-11
A. Lack of Purpose. Shame: over the message and the messenger. The gospel             of success vs. the gospel of suffering. Where is the power? Power equals ability.         A man with the gift of prophecy is turned a doubter - not an issue of power, but of purpose. The power is in the purpose. Suffering becomes meaningful if there is a reason for it.
B. Focus of Purpose. Saved and called with a purpose, the power is in the gospel (Romans 1:16). Paul's reason for teaching, preaching, and being in prison was to share Christ. The first key issue to enduring is to endure for the right reason.

II. I HAVE A CONVICTION THAT GOD IS ABLE - 1:12-14
A. Paul reaffirmation - verse 12a.
B. I KNOW, I'M CONVINCED! - verse 12b. Strong words! I believe that God can do what He said He could! Purpose is only as strong as the conviction behind it. Paul believed in God enough to lay his life on the line for what he believed
C. How to Stay Convicted! - verses 13-14. Hold the example - let Christ be     the standard. Guard the treasure (see verse 12, 1 Timothy 6:18-20). The treasure was his salvation! A matter of priorities: what counts most in your life?

III. ASIDE: PEOPLE - BAD AND GOOD - 1:15-18
A. Why stay convicted? Why do we endure?
B. Struggle against the world and bad examples and dealing with discouragement - verse 15. Turn away = repudiate, reject, desert. Paul is     dealing (word for know is "oida") with an established fact that probably was bugging Timothy.
C. Encouragement of good examples: Onesiphorus. Actively searched for Paul. Not ashamed of his chains. Mercy for service.

IV. THIS I BELIEVE (GUIDELINES FOR ENDURING) - 2:1-13
A. The Work Will Go On - I Believe In Others - verses 1-2. Be strong in grace - note what he did not say here! The chain of continuation: what you     heard, ENTRUST to faithful men, who will teach others. To do what Paul said, Timothy had to trust in others.
B. The Worker Will Endure - I Believe In Struggle - verses 3-7. Two key words that are linked together here are ENTRUST and SUFFER (see 1:12-14). Why endure (examples from life): the soldier's allegiance; the athlete's adherence; the farmer's advantage. Result: you'll understand (word for "insight").
C. The Brethren Need Strength...I Believe in Growth - verse 8. Remember Jesus! Never forget the power of the gospel, the preacher can be bound, but the message spreads.
D. God Is THE Constant In The Struggle Of Life - verses 11-13. This is probably an early Christian hymn. Message: Things change, but God does not!

"By the Grace of Almighty God..." (1 Peter 5:5-11) - Bill Dilks

Christian Character:
"By the Grace of Almighty God..."
(1 Peter 5:5-11)

Introduction:
1. Abraham Lincoln had just finished working on the final draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, when his aid, Mr. Chase, mentioned that there were no references in the earthshaking document to God. Mr. Chase labored that night on putting the right emphasis to what was to be the most controversial, yet monumental piece of legislation enacted in the history of this nation. His addition reads as follows "...with a solemn regard for righteous judgment, and by the grace of an Almighty God..." Needless to say, Lincoln was impressed.
2. What made that statement so great? That fact of dependence on God. If we will depend on God, then our Christian character will grow and develop. But how? Read 1 Peter 5:5-11...
3. The answer is humility! "...by the grace of an Almighty God..."

I. Substitutes to Humility...
A. Forced humility. In a episode called "The Lunch Box" of the "Honeymooners" Ralph Cramden storms in the door and accuses Alice of trying to poison him by fixing a horrible lunch. A fight ensues with Alice retreating upstairs to the Norton's and leaving Ralph to fix his own dinner. After finding Alice's shoes in the oven, left there to dry out, he calls her down and another argument ensues until a coworker comes and apologizes for taking Ralph's lunch box by mistake. He even compliments Alice on the "excellent B-Q chicken sandwiches". Guess what is happening to Ralph??? The situation forced him into humility, much like Phil. 2:9-11. The root for the word translated "humility" deals with those that have been brought low (see Romans 12:16). But N.T. teaching will show us that it is a RESPONSE to the Lordship of Christ and an OPPOSITION to pride. True humility is not forced humility.
B. False humility. Making yourself low = making yourself spiritual (see Colossians 2:18,23). Problem: why do we think of humility? If it is to look or be a certain way, then we've fallen into looking humble to be proud!     Let's take another look at I Peter 5 for the answers.

II. Source of Humility - "by the grace of an Almighty God"
A. A Key issue in 1 Peter - Peter is learning the lesson of Christ: born and died humble, exalted in heaven. Is he learning from Acts 2 and Galatians 2
B. 1 Peter 3:8-9 - summation of the book. Instead of fight it out, Peter says to suffer it out and glorify God. Why? Life inherently is very humbling (e.g.. Jesus). Life is lived to glorify God (1 Peter 3:15). Pride is opposed to grace, yet we should be giving the blessing (1 Peter 3:9; 5:5). Satan eats proud, anxious people alive (1 Peter 5:6-8). KEY: proud people can't and won't submit to authority (1 Peter 5:5).
C. Key points in being humble (1 Peter 5:5-11). KEY: concept of meekness -     power under control, but under whose control? God's! This requires: Submission (verses 5,7,11); In hope (verses 6,10); With fortitude (verses 8-9); Sobriety - self-controlled (see 4:7); Strong defense - set against in faith! If as Christians we stand for something, we must also stand against something!

Conclusion:
1. It stands to reason that we need to be humble, or else we will be humbled!
2.    If we submit to God and His authority, with grace and hope, if we strive to bless instead of curse, if we live in self-control and resistant faith, we'll be humble!
3. The difference between a Judas and a Jesus is that one died for pride, the other died for God. Can we say that we are what we are "but for the grace of an Almighty God"?!?

"Using, Not Abusing" (Romans 12:1-8) - Bill Dilks

Christian Character:
"Using, Not Abusing"
(Romans 12:1-8)

Introduction:
1. Aesop tells of an interesting event in a dog's life. The dog while taking a bone             home crosses a small footbridge. He peers into the water, viewing a dog with  a bigger bone. He jumps into the water to find out he has fought with his reflection in the water and has come out of it wet and without a bone...he goes home.
2. Are we like the dog? Listen to a man by the name of Charles Hummel talk of             another misconception: "Traditional theology and American individualism                 have combined to foster a self-centered approach to spiritual gifts. Christians             are often urged to inquire: 'What is my gift? How can I use it and discover it?'             Our culture pressures us to ask: Who am I? How can I be fulfilled and realize             my potential?' Is this the N.T. emphasis on spiritual gifts?
3. Maybe there is a real temptation to lead a "dog's life" in trying to selfishly                 look for more, but in that pursuit willing we lose what we have? What's the                 answer (Romans 12:1-8)?  It is...

I. A THINKING ISSUE - ROMANS 12:1-8
A. The conclusion: give your life to God! - verses 1-2
1. The gift to God - Me (verse 1)! Faithful surrender in obedience is how we operate (1 John 4:19) and the byproduct is feelings/emotions! Giftedness, as a consequence, is not personality and does not change personality...it is a God-given ability to do something (see 2 Timothy 1:6-8,12-14).
2. The challenge to serve (verse 2). Conformity vs. transformation. What kind of transformation: feeling or thought? Thought! "Prove" = test, determine by doing something. Key: the basis for exercising our gifts is in doing, not feeling.
B. Issue of thinking - verses 3-5
1. Reasonable thinking versus pride...
2. What does being in your right mind involve? Don't try to inflate your image. God has given something to each of us!!!
3. One body/different members (see 1 Corinthians 12:21-26).
C. Gifts that differ - verses 6-8
1. Why only one miraculous gift mentioned (see Romans 1:11-12; 1 Cor. 13)? Prophecy today could be labeled as preaching
2. Gifts categorized into gifts of speaking and service (see 1 Peter 4:10-11): Gifts of speaking: prophecy (preaching), teaching, exhortation; Gifts of serving: ministry, giving, ruling, mercy.
3. Reasons for varied gifts: To enable the body to function in a systematic,                     co-ordinated way; To provide a place for every member of the body to perform a useful service; To expel disharmony from the body; To glorify God (see 1 Corinthians 12:24).

II. A DOING ISSUE - PRACTICE OF THE GIFTS
A. Problems to look out for!
1. Confusion in looking for your place in the body. Where do I belong,                        what can I do?? Remember the principle of faith and obedience being the guiding issue (e.g. a train being pulled by the engine, not by the caboose). Our Christianity is pulled by our obedient faith, not by our emotions.
2. Don't fixate on one "gift" to rationalize away other Biblical responsibilities.
3. "Self-deception"...remember the dog??
B. Where are we looking? In "experience" or in God's word?

"My God And I" (Romans 8:31-39) - Bill Dilks

Christian Character:
"My God And I"
(Romans 8:31-39)

Introduction:
1. A survey of teen leaders done by a Midwestern university uncovered a startling fact: the most intelligent, gifted, good-looking students often belittled themselves because they thought they were lacking in the very qualities that they had. Why did these teens buy into a false concept of self? Image of self is     created from many sources: families, friends, neighbors, even enemies!
2. How should a Christian view his life, what he/she is, their value, their worth? For us the key is found at Romans 8:31-39...
3. Paul states the concept of self image and concept in spiritual terms paralleling the theme of the beautiful spiritual song: "My God and I..." What does that relationship involve?

I. "What shall we say to these things?" - verse 31a
A. These things: Our Motivation - the Christian is not under condemnation, but obligation as an adopted son of God through the Spirit (verses 1-17);                 
1.    Our Expectation - the Christian lives in hope for his/her glorification (verses 18-25).
2.   God's Mediation - God's constant care and guidance as seen in the intercession of the Spirit (verses 26-30).
B. The principle: The Christian's view of self, life, and trials is inextricably bound up in our relationship with God. Self-image is thus seeing self as God sees it! Thus, personal security, self-image (if you like that term) hinges on the strength of the relationship between us and God. The known factor is our dedication to the relationship and God's (verses 5-11,28-30). The unknown question posed and answered is "can anything come between my God and I?"

II. My God Has the Answers - verses 31b-36
A. Who is against us? Notice that this is not a "what" but a "who"! Key principle: you have a Father who gives you all that you need. The cross and         Christ's ultimate sacrifice stands as evidence to this point. "Freely given"is the verb form of the word for grace. Understand grace and you understand who you are and how you got there in God's sight. Key concept: you stand justified, not accused! Word "devil" (diabolos) means accuser (see Job 1 - 2; Zechariah 3). People that try to live in Christ, stand justified in Christ (see John 5:24; Romans 8:1).
B. Who can come between us? The struggles of life personified in the word "who".
1.    The Christian Spectacle: 1 Corinthians 4:8-13.
a.    Is life hard? Life is hard!
b.    Does that matter? This is the key question being raised. If God does not provide answers for life and hope to live it, we have nothing to stand on!
III. I Have the Victory - verses 37-39
A. What type of victory? "Huper-nikeo" denotes super-conquer. This is not just getting by, but routing the opposition.
B. By whom: through Christ.
C. How: conviction!

Application:
1. If I see myself as God really sees me, see God for all He is and has done for me, Paul says that the conviction that comes through this type of insight carries us through the worst that life (Satan) can throw at us!
2. God believes in you.  Do you believe in God? See 1 John 5:1-13!

"Once More With Feeling" (Luke 10:25-37) - Bill Dilks

Christian Character:
"Once More With Feeling"
(Luke 10:25-37)

Introduction:
1. I used to have a Hungarian born piano teacher in college that used to drive me up a wall. He was a stickler on technique, but I knew that I had done well when I reached the point when he would say "once more with feeling!" The idea was that you can add the emotional sense to a piece of music AFTER you get the notes right. Do we have the same standard when it comes to living? Get life right or make sure life is right before we add love?
2. Why is this so important? It was something that Jesus felt toward people (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 6:34; 8:2; Luke 7:13; 15:20) and was part of His life (James 5:11). It is based on the concept of mercy (Matthew 9:13; 12:7).
3. What will it do for us, why don't we demonstrate it more, and how will it help us to grow? The answer is found in Luke 10:25-37...

I. Background for the story - verses 25-29
A. The Lawyer's Test (see Matthew 22:34-40 and Mark 12:28-31 (possible parallel passage)): The lawyer could have been in group in Matthew 22 by his response. He wanted to see if he could put Jesus on the spot. The term here is used synonymously with the term scribe in other passages (see Mark 12). The scribes, because of their obsession with the study of the "traditions of the fathers", became occupied with the  application the law, thus lawyers. They were not paid for this, but received  great honor (an early Jewish quote refers to them above a man's father since one's father gave life, but the teacher gave wisdom...).
B. Jesus' Question: What is written? Paraphrased: "You should know, tell me. What does it say to you?" Jesus turned it around just like He did in John 4.
C. The Lawyer's Response: He could have been there to hear Jesus in Matthew 22 by his response. Why Deuteronomy 6:5? One verse after the most memorized verse in the Old Testament of His day. Anyone here know what John 3:17 says?!? He also added Leviticus 19:18!! Problem: justification. He went to his training, asking - "who is MY neighbor?"

II. The Example of the Samaritan - verses 30-35
A. The Setting: a half dead man.
B. The Priest and Levite: "religious men". Both were taking Leviticus 21:11 over Numbers 9:6-13. This is the same issue is raised by Jesus about the "higher" law in Mark 2:23-27.
C. The Compassionate Samaritan: Same as Jesus, saw, then felt compassion - a FEELING, sensitive to need. Feeling compassion leads to showing compassion. What motivated him? I talked to a couple a few years ago that made it a practice to always stop and help stranded motorists because they had been in the same predicament and no one came to their aid. They allowed the circumstances of life to make them sensitive to other's needs through their own needs. Two denarius was about two days wages.

III. The Application of Jesus - verses 36-37
A. A neighbor is someone on whom we can show mercy.
1.    Look around you. Can you show mercy on everyone here. No! Why? Emotional involvement, squabbles, personality differences.
2.    What does God want us to do? Think before you act! Compassion is something that you have to be before you  can show it. This is why we are compelled to have the spirit of compassion (Philippians 2:1; Colossians 3:12). Note: the word for demonstration of compassion is not used here!
B. Go and do the same!

"Bringing Heaven To Earth" (Colossians 2:29 - 3:14) - Bill Dilks

Christian Character:
"Bringing Heaven To Earth"
(Colossians 2:29 - 3:14)

Introduction:
1. Back in the early 1980's during all the rise in terrorist activities, La Guardia Airport was almost shut down for over two hours as police and security people deal with a suspicious looking package that was ticking. Guess what  was in the package? A clock! Two dynamics were at work here: a worst case  scenario, and fear of the unknown.
2. It seems that this is the way that most people deal with the concept of holiness. They don't know what it is and if they did, it would be bad news for them.  How to we feel about it: guilty, proud, what!?
3. In building Christian character holiness is crucial. Peter in quoting Leviticus 19:2 in 1 Peter 1:15-16 gives the idea that holiness is the link to the moral character of God..."be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy."
4. In dealing with holiness we need to take a look at what makes a person holy and why that matters - a concept of separation, set aside for a special purpose: to bring heaven (its moral system, and love) to earth. This is explained in Colossians 2:20 - 3:14.

I. What Holiness Is NOT - Colossians 2:20-23
A. Dying to Christ
1. Issue of living to God, not decrees.
2. Strange mix of gnosticism, Jewish legalism, and oriental philosophy gave people a strange idea of what the holy life was at Colossae!
B. Externals vs. internals - Matthew 15:1.20
1. God didn't want them to appear holy, but to be holy!
2. Reason why externals don't work: no value against fleshly indulgence     (e.g. prison) you can lock a man up, but they only way you can change  him is to change his thinking!

II. What Holiness Is - Colossians 3:1-14
A. Holy Thinking - verses 1-4
1. Concept of bringing heaven to earth: think on things above.
2. Fill in the blank: "for me to live is    " (see Philippians 1:21).
3. Reference to Christ: Died with Christ; Live with Christ; Raised with  Christ; Hidden in Christ; Glorified in Christ.
B. The Holy Life - verses 5-11
1. Surgery for the Soul: things a Christian can live without.
2. Need to change our appetites.
3. KEY: Putting off and putting on - verses 9-10 (see Matthew 12:43-45). This is done by: A RENEWAL (renovation) TO A TRUE KNOWLEDGE ACCORDING TO THE IMAGE OF GOD.
C. The Mark of Holiness - verses 12-14
1. A list of what holy people do...
2. Why: chosen of God
3. Holiness was internalizing what God was, not externalizing a few do's and don'ts.

Application: Mere externals don't make us holy. We need to preach on the aspects of a holy life, but if the heart is not holy, then watch out! People that make an emphasis on this are usually inconsistent in their practice! Holiness leads to love. In trying to be holy, are we growing in love for God and others? Holiness is trying to be like God.   Are you trying to be like God?

"God's Re-creation" (Ephesians 4:17 - 5:2) - Bill Dilks

Christian Character:
"God's Re-creation"
(Ephesians 4:17 - 5:2)

Introduction:
1. We saw the importance of being what God wants us to be in bringing heaven to earth: holiness of thought. Socrates, the father of classical Greek philosophy, expounded great and high ideals that are still basic even in today's modern philosophy. For such a man of noble thought, he was a filthy, slovenly  man. He knew better, but didn't do better!
2. Does that describe our walk with Christ: knowing better but not doing better?
3. Paul has something to say about that (Ephesians 4:17-24).
5. In this section of scripture Paul like a modern how-to book author tells the brethren at Ephesus and consequently Christians of every age what it means to     be holy: God's recreation, living the new life!

I. You Are Different! verses 17-24
A. Not like the Gentiles - verses 17-19
1. Affirm: the word is actually stronger in intent here - "implore."
2. What? Your life needs to be different!
3. Why? Hardness of heart that causes: Futile mind (lit. wanton, rash); Minds darkened (see Rom. 1:24-32); Alienated or estranged from the life of God; A sensual, impure life - greedy to do anything impure
B. Learning Christ leads to change - verses 21-24
1. Heard and taught Jesus. The interesting concept is that teaching to the Greeks and the Jews was not the mere importation of facts, but the training of a life to do something -  ideal of apprenticeship.
2. Old man laid aside, corrupted: Lust - desire gone astray; Deceit - something that is nothing: "It can't hurt me, we won't get in trouble" attitude.
3. New man put on: Present passive infinitive: constant renewal from God; Created according to God - God wants us to be like Him in righteousness and holiness of truth.

II. So Live Different! 4:25-5:2
A. Speak truth! (verse 25). You have to lay aside falsehood: putting off/putting on. See Zechariah 8:16-17 - the key idea that the Jews needed to restore.
B. Deal with anger! (verses 26-27) Get angry without sinning. How? Attack problems and not people, express emotion without blowing up! Don't wait!
C. Work! (verse 27) Put off stealing, work! Reason: to share with him who has need!
D. Edify! (verse 28) Put off rotten talk, say what is needed, not what is deserved. How merciful are with our tongues?
E. Forgive! (verses 30-32) Put off grieving the Spirit by putting away malice, wrath, slander, etc. by forgiving. Model: as Christ has forgiven you.
F. Imitate God; walk in love! 5:1-2

Application: So What?
1. We need to "squeeze our hearts": see if we are still sensitive.
A. What were you thinking about when you last took the Lord's Supper, when     is the last time went out of your way to show love to someone who didn't deserve it, how long has it been since you were excited about something you learned from scripture, when was the last time a sermon, lesson, or     devotional cut you to the heart?
B. Did we really "put off' the old man, or did we buy into the "I'm really not that bad a person" syndrome?
2. People that think they don't need to change, don't change! Are we trying to be renewed in mind and direction by God, or do we think that we are good enough as we are??

"Loving One Another": Lesson Eleven 10/6/13

Lesson Eleven: Positive Commands: A Focus on Actions

Review: The positive "one another commands" are divided into 2 main categories, the second category of which is further divided into 4 more subdivisions:

1. Verses that Focus on Attitudes – command 1: "Have the same mind with one another"

2. Verses that Focus on Actions

a. Verses which promote spiritual growth and heath in the Body of Christ

b. Verses which promote the good of the Body of Christ

c. Verses which promote unity and peace in the Body of Christ

d. Verses which promote ministry and the function of the Body of Christ

In the prior 3 weeks we have looked at verses that speak about us having the "same mind" towards one another or being "like-minded". We also began looking at how we develop the "same mind" mindset and what it means. We noted that part of what this means is:

1. Striving to know and understand the Scriptures.

2. Thinking with the Word

3. Regular Renewal in the Word

We then noted the effects developing a "same mind" mindset should have upon our attitudes and how this will enable to us better serve one another. Having the "same mind" means having an attitude of: (1) joy, (2) humility, and (3) loving family affection

Tonight, we move from verses that focus on "attitudes" and will begin looking at verses that focus on "actions" with regard to our loving one another. We will begin by studying verses which promote the spiritual growth and health of the body of Christ:

Table Discussion (Anyone can be the table leader, be sure to let everyone speak, this is an opportunity to share with and help each other in our understanding of God’s Word, it is okay if you don’t get through every question, discussion and study with each other is more important):

1. Background of the need for verses which promote growth and health in the body of Christ. Read John 17:15-20; Ephesians 6:10-16; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 2:1-5; 4:1-5

a. In what kind of environment have Christians been called to live? What impact can living in this environment have upon the Christians faith?

b. What has God given us to help us in living in this type of environment?

(Turn page over)

c. Read John 15:18-25.

1. How did Jesus say the world would feel about His disciples?

2. Read John 15:17. In contrast to the way the world would treat Jesus’ disciples, how were Jesus’ disciples to treat one another?

3. Discuss how treating each other according to John 15:17 helps to protect the body of Christ from the hatred and attacks of the world? Discuss how failing to treat each other according to John 15:17 effects the ability of the body of Christ to protect itself from the hatred and attacks of the world?

2. Command 2: "Encourage and Build Up One Another"

a. Read Colossians 1:28-2:2. According to these verses (i.e. particularly Colossians 1:28; 2:2), what did Paul hope to accomplish for his brethren in preaching to them?

b. Discuss was it God’s design for Paul to accomplish this task above all by himself? (cf. Ephesians 4:15-16). What is God’s design to accomplish the task of encouraging and building up each other in the church?

c. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Romans 14:19; 15;2

1. According to Romans 14:19, what things are we to pursue?

2. According to Romans 15:2, who are we to seek to please and why?

3. What is the difference between encouragement and building up?

d. Read Ephesians 4:29; Titus 1:9; Colossians 2:2; 2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:11-13; Romans 15:4-5

1. According to Ephesians 4:29, what kind of words are to proceed from our mouths and what should our words accomplish with regard to others?

2. Where do we get the words by which to encourage each other?

* In our next study we will continue looking at verses which promote the spiritual growth and health of the church with regard to "loving one another".

 

"Taking God At His Word" - Bill Dilks

Christian Character:
"Taking God At His Word"  (Genesis 22)

Introduction:
1. Every great movement has a leader or trend setter: rock 'n roll - Elvis; communism - Marx and Lenin; Christianity - Christ.
2. What person comes to mind if I mention the word faith?
3. If Paul answered that question, His answer would be Abraham (see Romans     4:1-3,18-22; Galatians 3:6-14).
4. Why?!? See Hebrews 11:8-19, especially verses 17-19.
5. In Genesis 22 we'll see the character of faith, the power of God, and the hope that was Abraham's...

I. Faith Involves Following God's Will - verses 1-8
A. The Test - verse 1
1. Why (see verses 11-12)??
2. "Here I am." means "reporting for duty, Sir!" in Hebrew.
B. Instruction and Preparation - verses 2-8
1. Isaac as a burnt offering - verse 2
a. This was totally unfair, EXCEPT from God's viewpoint!
b. What did Abraham think? See Hebrews 11:17-19. To him the Lord of Life was stronger than death!
c. Spirit of faith is the spirit of adventure. Alfred Whitehead, professor of philosophy at Harvard said "When man loses the sense of adventure, civilization falls into decay."
2. God will provide - verse 8
a. Literally "God will see to it."
b. Note: the concept here is not blind faith. God had promised and provided, Abraham had God's word on it (see Genesis 17:19-21).

II. Faith Involves Obedience to that Will - verses 9-19
A. The Test verses 9-12
1. The only one that could stop Abraham has to intervene!
2. Same response "Here I am..."
3. Command to stop...
B. The Substitute - verses 13-14
1. Ram offered in place of his son - note the parallels to Christ.
2. Jehovah-jireh (God will provide). Could our lives have that name, our homes, at work, etc.??
C. The Promise - verses 15-19
1. Promise of 12:1-3 repeated again....
2. Why - because you have OBEYED MY VOICE!  

Conclusion: What about you?
1. Is God's will a mandate for your life, or good suggestions that you just have not got around to doing yet?
2. Have you obeyed God's voice? Do you have God's promise?  It's your choice!

"Where Is Jesus In My Life?"

Christian Character:
"Where Is Jesus In My Life?"
(Luke 14:25-35)

Introduction:
1. It is interesting to note that the effect of God's prophecy on John and Ezekiel: sweet to eat, but hard to stomach (Ezekiel 3:1-3; Revelation 10:9,10).     The section we'll be looking at today parallels this except for the sweet taste.
2. This scripture challenges us where we come from. We've become so individualistic that we are no longer interested in collective freedom except our own!
3. What would it take to make us more loving, more caring and less selfish? What would motivate us in ways that would carry the church to new heights? See Luke 14:25-35.
4. Last time we talked about the concept of the Lordship of Christ. Today the practice of the Lordship of Christ: Where is Jesus in My Life?

I. First Condition: COMING AND BECOMING - Luke 14:25-27
A. Many came, but who would continue to follow?
B. The first two absolutes in discipleship...
1. Holy Hatred: a concept of priorities - can anything come between God and me?
a.    How would I feel about anything coming between me and a loved one? You'd hate that person for trying to break up that relationship.
b.    The issue at work in Matthew 10:34-39 - although the idea of "more than me" may not be at work here! Jesus is THE center of every relationship, or else the relationship is not what it should be. The basic teaching of Christianity: in everything, Christ has control, has the preeminence.
2. Who We Are and How We Follow: concept of position - dying to follow.
a.    Much is said about the death concept: Matthew 16:24-26; "daily" - Luke 9:23; Romans 6:1-11 with John 12:24.26.
b.    We follow "after"     (literally "behind" when used to describe position). The only way  to follow is from behind, or is it (James 4:13-17)?!?

II. Reflection: COUNTING THE COST - Luke 14:28-32
A. The Builder and the Tower: starting to finish.
1. The issue  is going to the end: Gil Dodds was the record holder for the     indoor mile in 1951, but didn't have what was known as a finishing kick. Dodds said, "...in place of the sprint, God gave me stamina."
2. Finish what you start.  To do that takes planning! The word for "sit down" carries the idea of active contemplation (see Revelation 3:2;     Philippians 3:15,16).
B. The King and the Battle: counsel to survival...
1. The old hit of the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive" illustrates the principle here. "Am I strong enough?" is the question.
2. Does this teach compromise? NO! But it stresses contemplation.  Have I done enough reflection on my spiritual life?

III. Second Condition: GIVE IT UP - Luke 14:33
A. What does this mean?? Word for "give up" carries with it the idea of assigning something to someone or saying good-bye to someone or something. "Possessions" mean what it takes to live. The idea of surrender is inherent here (see Matthew 19:16-30).
B. What does Jesus want? Total service free from entanglements  (2 Timothy 2:4)!

IV. Example: SALT: GOOD OR WORTHLESS - Luke 14:34-35
A. No in-betweens in this: Either you are salt, or you are without season: worthless!
B. No gradients. Either a disciple, or not.

Conclusion: Are you meeting the conditions and thinking about the cost of  commitment?

"What Jesus Do You Follow?" - Bill Dilks

Christian Character: "What Jesus Do You Follow?"
(Colossians 1:15-27)

Introduction:
1. After a bridge went down on the NY Thruway a man stopped and then tried to flag down oncoming motorists, the first driver slowed down, then sped up and swerved to avoid the fellow and sped on by in his luxury car, shooting the finger while be sped into the Schoharie Creek to his death. His final message - no one controls my life!
2. How to we feel about Jesus? "He's a good guy, but leave me alone to do what             I want to do!" Is Jesus worth stopping for?? Listen to what Paul says in our                 text...
3. In this passage which many see as being an early hymn, Paul tells what type of     Jesus we need to follow.  We need to see who Christ is and what is our                     response to Him...

I. Jesus: God and Creator (verses 15-16)
A. The Image of God
1. Issue here is to relate Christ to God and consequently us to Christ.
2. This is a main issue in the letter (see Colossians 1:19; 2:9-10).
3. Christ to be Christ, must be deity! Thomas was right in John 20:28 -"my                       Lord and my GOD!" (see also John 8:24).
B. The Supreme Creator
1. "Firstborn" means supreme or sovereign (see Palms 89:27).
2. Christ and creation - He is:
a. The word (John 1:1; Revelation 19:13; Psalms 33:6).
b.    The wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24,30; Proverbs 3:19; 8:22-31).
c.    The beginning of all things (John 1:2-3; Revelation 3:14).
d.    The one that holds all things together (Hebrews 1:2; Colossians 1:17).
                  THUS JESUS IS THE CREATIVE WISDOM OF GOD!!!
3. All things imply everything. Jesus as creator must have honor and glory!

II. Jesus: the Focus of Everything (verses 17-18)
A. The Eternal One
1. Same point is made here as in John 1:2 - existence before creation =  deity!
2. Point: the creator is greater than the creation.
B. The Universal Binder. What would happen if Jesus let go of holding together         atomic and molecular bonds?!? The term "Lord willing" takes on new meaning!
C. The Preeminent Head of the Church. Head, Beginning, First-born from the Dead - when you talk about religion, Jesus is it! Key issue in Lordship of  Christ - He has first place in EVERYTHING! The whole issue of Lordship rests on this!

III. Jesus: God and Reconciler (verses 19-20)
A. All the fullness - why mention this here in relation to His work as Savior??                 See John 1:16!
B. Reconciliation = peace, but only through His blood!

IV. Jesus: Do you trust in Him??!! (verses 21-23)
A. Where we need to be...
1.    Past: alienated, hostile in mind, in deeds.
2.    Present: reconciled to God through Christ.
3.     Future: to be presented to God holy, blameless, without reproach.                           B. Note the conditional statement: if you continue in faith...
 1.    How - grounded/founded and stable (not moved away from THE HOPE                     OF THE GOSPEL).
2.    Why - you  HEARD it preached, and I have PROCLAIMED it and am                     proclaiming it NOW. Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood                     and righteousness.

Conclusion:
1.    Jesus is God, God's Wisdom in Creation, the Supreme Ruler and Head of               Creation and the Church.
2.    What place does He have in your life (see Matthew 7:21-23)?!?

"THE TRULY HAPPY MAN" Psalms 1:1-6

INTRODUCTION
1. Wherein lies the key to true happiness?
   a. We live in a time where boredom, depression and other forms of
       unhappiness are rampant
   b. Is there some basic principle which determines success in finding
       happiness?
2. The Book of Psalms with its very first psalm shares with us a key
    principle that can ensure true happiness...
    a. Notice the very first word of the first psalm - "Blessed..."
        1) The word in Hebrew denotes the idea of "happiness"
        2) The actual force of the Hebrew could be translated "O how 
            very happy is the man..."
    b. Therefore this psalm describes "The Truly Happy Man"
3. In this lesson, we shall...
    a. Take a close look at the first psalm
    b. Seek to glean the principles necessary for one to truly be happy
[The psalm itself can be divided into three sections. The first section
describes...]
DISCUSSION
I. THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE RIGHTEOUS MAN
A. WE ARE TOLD OF HIS CHARACTER (1-2)
     1. Described first from a NEGATIVE point of view - Ps 1:1
         a. There is value in negative commands or statements
             1) For so much that destroys happiness is the fruit of
                 sinful activity
             2) We ought to appreciate the value of negative commands
                 a) They keep us from going astray
                 b) They protect from harm and misery
                 -- Like restraining walls along a cliff, they keep us
                     from getting hurt
         b. Therefore it is said that the truly happy man:
             1) "Walks not in the counsel of the ungodly"
                 a) He does not take their counsel as to how to live
                 b) He does not follow the advice of those who are sinful
             2) "Nor stands in the path of sinners"
                 a) He does not linger where sinners are known to go
                 b) For the temptation to go with them would be great
             3) "Nor sits in the seat of the scornful"
                 a) He does not join himself with those who ridicule and
                     mock those trying to do right
                 b) Which sinners often do to fortify their conduct and
                     defend their actions
         c. Notice the example of Hebrew poetry in this verse
             1) Hebrew poetry stressed "thought rhyme" rather than "word
                 rhyme"
                 a) Where the thoughts are somehow related rather than
                      just the words
                 b) Such thought rhyme was often expressed in various
                     forms of "parallelism" (e.g., synonymous, 1:2;
                     antithetical, 1:6)
             2) Here we find an example of "progressive parallelism"
                 (walk, stand, sit)
         d. This verse may be taken to describe the journey one takes
             into sin...
             1) First, one going along with a crowd
             2) Then, taking a stand with the crowd
             3) Finally, reaching a point where sinning is not enough,
                 mockery is added
     2. His character from a POSITIVE perspective - Ps 1:2
         a. "His delight is in the law of the Lord"
             1) The source of his joy and happiness is the Word of God!
             2) It is truly his "delight" - cf. Ps 119:16,24,35,47,70,
                 77,92,174; Jer 15:16-17
             3) He preferred it over the counsel of the ungodly!
         b. Therefore, "in His law he meditates day and night"
             1) The word meditate means to "moan, hum, utter, speak,
                 muse"
                 a) The picture is one of a man reading and re-reading
                     half aloud to himself
                 b) Another word might be "ponder"
             2) This he does with God's word "day and night"
                 a) Not implying a monk-like existence
                 b) But a concerted interest which goes beyond a casual
                     acquaintance
             3) What it means is that this is something...
                 a) He does habitually
                 b) He takes time to do - setting apart portions of each
                     day
                 c) He does both day and night
B. WE ARE TOLD OF HIS PROSPERITY (3)
     1. "He shall be like a tree"
         a. This figure of speech is often used in Scripture to
             describe the righteous - e.g., Ps 92:12-15; Jer 17:5-8
         b. It had special significance to those living in arid
             climates (like Palestine)
     2. "Planted by rivers of water"
         a. A picture describing a person whose life is rooted in God's
             word
         b. From which one receives constant nourishment
     3. "That brings forth fruit in its season"
         a. Depicting a life which yields something worthwhile
         b. Providing blessings to himself and others
     4. "Whose leaf also shall not wither"
         a. A tree with roots near a river is not likely to be affected
             in times of drought
         b. So adverse conditions do not affect the fruitfulness of one
             whose strength comes from God's word!
     5. "Whatever he does shall prosper"
         a. The figure of the tree is now left behind
         b. This is a general rule, exceptions may occur for reasons
             which only God knows
         c. But a life of piety will generally be blessed by prosperity
             1) For piety will heed God's directions for success in life
             2) And piety will heed God's warnings concerning things
                 that waste life
[Such is the character and prosperity of the righteous man; he is truly
happy and a blessing to others because he abides in the Word of God. He also becomes a monument to God's faithfulness and the value of living by His word.
What of those who do not delight in the Word of God, who do not receive the nourishment found in it?  In the next two verses we are shown...]
II. THE CONDITION OF THE UNRIGHTEOUS
A. THEY ARE NOTHING LIKE THE RIGHTEOUS (4)
     1. The phrase "The ungodly are not so" is more emphatic in the
         Hebrew
         a. Literally, "Not so, are the ungodly!"
         b. Emphasizing that the wicked are not like the righteous
     2. The contrast as illustrated by the Psalmist
         a. He does not even describe them as withering trees
             1) But rather as "chaff which the wind drives away"
             2) Alluding to chaff blown away from wheat as it is tossed
                 into the air
         b. The illustration describes a bleak existence
             1) Their life is one of futility (ending in eternal
                 separation from God)
             2) Their life is no substantial value, either to be blown
                 away and not found, or to be burned (cf. Mt 3:12)
B. THEIR SORRY CONDITION PORTENDS NO GOOD END  
     (5)
     1. "The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment"
         a. I understand this may be a Hebraism (Hebrew idiom)
             1) Meaning that the wicked "shall not be able to maintain
                  himself"
             2) i.e., obliged to sit or fall down in shame when
                 convicted of their guilt
         b. The Final Judgment appears to be under consideration
     2. "Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous"
         a. i.e., in all places where the righteous are assembled, they
            will have no place:
            1) E.g., where they assemble to worship God
            2) E.g., where they meet as His friends
            3) E.g., where they together participate in His favor
         b. But especially, in the last day, when the righteous...
             1) ...shall be gathered together to receive their reward
             2) ...shall be assembled together in heaven
                 ...the sinner has no place!
[The psalm concerning "The Truly Happy Man" ends with...]
III. A FINAL CONTRAST BETWEEN THE TWO "WAYS"
A. THE WAY OF THE RIGHTEOUS (6a)
     1. The Lord "knows" the way of the righteous
     2. The word "knows" suggests interest in, and care for, the
         person known
     -- One could say: "God himself goes with such a person throughout
         his or her life"
B. THE WAY OF THE UNGODLY (6b)
     1. The way of the ungodly person "shall perish"
     2. I.e., shall tend toward ruin
     -- His path becomes less defined until it loses itself (like a
         trail that leads into a swamp)
CONCLUSION
1. Is not the end described for the ungodly a true description of those
    who go through life bored, depressed, or otherwise unhappy?
    a. Their lives are listless 
    b. With no sense of purpose or direction, gradually unraveling
2. Why is this so?  Because they...
    a. Heed the counsel of the ungodly!
    b. Do not meditate upon the Word of the Lord!
3. If we desire to be "The Truly Happy Man"...
    a. Standing strong like well-nourished tree, bearing fruit at all
        times
    b. With the Lord always at our side
    -- Then the key is to delight and meditate in the Word of the Lord,
        and not heed the counsel of sinners!
4. In whose counsel do you delight?  That found in God's word, or that
    provided by the ungodly in this world?  If you seek true happiness,  
    let the Lord be your counselor, and His word your guide!

"SINGING"

INTRODUCTION
1. Our study of spiritual disciplines have so far examined such
    spiritual exercises as...
    a. Prayer - the value of secret, simple, and steadfast prayer
    b. Meditation - contemplating God, His works, His words, and   
        things worthy of virtue
    c. Fasting - as a means of humbling one's self before God, 
        especially when joined with prayer
2. Another discipline in which we engage regularly is singing...
    a. We spend nearly a third of our assemblies engaged in this activity
    b. Rightly so, for it has the possibility of great spiritual benefits
3. But I wonder if some do not appreciate the value of singing...
    a. Do I sing with virtually no emotion or not at all?
    b. Do I complain if there are too many hymns in a worship service
        or do I not attend a worship service if it is devoted to singing?
[Singing as a spiritual discipline is of great value, and should be a
habit engaged by those who desire to grow in godliness.  To appreciate
why, let's review...]
DISCUSSION
I. THE PURPOSE OF SINGING
A. TO PRAISE THE LORD (UPWARD)...
     1. This is the most common concept of the purpose of singing
         a. Indeed, this is certainly the idea inherent in the word 'hymn'
         b. Which comes from the Greek word humnos, meaning "a song 
             in praise of"
     2. The Psalms call upon us to praise God in song
         a. "Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, And give thanks
             at the remembrance of His holy name." - Ps 30:4
         b. "Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King,
             sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises
             with understanding." - Ps 47:6-7
         c. "Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to
             the Rock of our salvation." - Ps 95:1
         d. "Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the
             earth." - Ps 96:1
         e. "Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim the good news 
             of His salvation from day to day." - Ps 96:2
         f. "Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! For He has done 
            marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained 
            Him the victory." - Ps 98:1
         g. "Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence 
             with singing." - Ps 100:2
         h. "Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; Sing praises to His
             name, for it is pleasant." - Ps 135:3
     3. Praising God in song should be a natural for Christians !
         a. David reacted this way to the blessings of God - Ps 28:6-7;
             59:16-17
         b. Christians are taught to sing praises when joyful - Jm 5:13
         c. Paul and Silas even reacted to persecution by singing
             praises - Ac 16:25
     -- Is not God worthy of being praised in song?
B. TO TEACH AND ADMONISH ONE ANOTHER  
     (OUTWARD)...
     1. Singing is not always directed toward God...
         a. Certainly, many songs are
         b. But songs are often directed to each other - cf. Col 3:16;
             Ep 5:19
     2. That's because many songs are designed to teach one another
         a. Teaching and admonishing us to live properly, to enjoy the
             blessings of the Christian life
         b. It might even be said that 'congregational singing' is
             actually 'congregational teaching'!
     -- Do not our brethren deserve the encouragement that comes 
         from singing?
C. TO BE FILLED AND ENRICHED (INWARD)...
     1. David wrote of the personal benefit of singing praises
         a. It made his lips and soul to greatly rejoice - Ps 71:23
         b. He found it to be pleasant and beautiful - Ps 147:1
     2. Singing can be a means to being filled with the Spirit
         a. Paul charged the Ephesians to be filled with the Spirit
             - Ep 5:18
         b. He explained how:  by singing and making melody in one's
             heart to the Lord - Ep 5:19
     3. Singing can be a means to being enriched by the Word of
         Christ
         a. Paul charged the Colossians to let the Word of Christ dwell
             in them richly - Col 3:16a
         b. Again he explains:  by singing with grace in one's heart to
             the Lord - Col 3:16b
     -- For a truly Spirit-filled life enriched by the Word of Christ,
         singing is essential!
[Singing is a wonderful spiritual discipline that blesses God, those who
hear us, and even ourselves as we sing.  How can we get more out this
spiritual discipline?  Here are some thoughts regarding...]
II. THE PRACTICE OF SINGING
A. ENGAGE THE MIND AS YOU SING...
     1. Remember, singing is teaching and admonishing one another
     2. This assumes that we understand what we sing - cf. 1Co 14:15
     3. We must be careful that our enjoyment of singing is not like
         how many people enjoy their popular music (i.e., liking the
         music without necessarily understanding the words)
     -- Give careful attention to the words of the songs
B. ENGAGE THE HEART AS YOU SING...
     1. When we sing, we must do so...
         a. "with grace in your hearts" - Col 3:16
         b. "making melody in your heart" - Ep 5:19
     2. This assumes that we involve our 'heart strings' (emotions) as
         we sing!
     3. To sing without emotion (without grace in our hearts)...
         a. Is hypocritical, and condemned by Jesus! - Mt 15:7-8
         b. Will be evident in our countenances! - cf. Pr 15:13
     -- Put your heart into your singing
C. ENHANCE YOUR SINGING IN WORSHIP BY WHERE 
     YOU SIT...
     1. Sitting alone or spread out discourages many from singing as
         they might otherwise
     2. People become more involved, are more uplifted, edify others
         better, when they sit together and closer to the song leader
     -- One of the first steps to enjoy singing is to sit with others
         who love to sing!
D. UTILIZE OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN TO SING...
     1. Singing is more enjoyable when we are able to read musical
         notes, sing different parts
     2. Churches often provide singing classes
     3. Indeed, every opportunity to sing is an opportunity to learn
     -- Take advantage of any opportunity to learn how to sing
E. EXPAND THE SPHERE OF YOUR SINGING...
     1. Is your singing limited just to the public assemblies, on the
         first day of the week?
     2. Singing, like prayer, ought to be spontaneous, arising whenever
         the circumstances call for it - cf. Ac 16:25; Ps 34:1-3
     3. Take advantage of special opportunities to sing, such as
         monthly and annual singings
     4. As a spiritual exercise, it should be done in private devotions
         as well as in public worship
         a. Sing while you work, travel, or alone in your private
             meditations
         b. Make use of hymns on tapes or CDs when traveling or
             meditating
     -- Increase your opportunities to sing at other times with others,
         and when alone
CONCLUSION
1. David exemplifies the attitude of one who exercises himself through
    the discipline of singing...
    a. "I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with
        me." - Ps 13:6
    b. "I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You
        among the nations." - Ps 57:9
    c. "I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to
        my God while I have my being." - Ps 104:33
2. He likewise calls upon us to sing praises both in public and in
    private...
    a. "Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, And His praise 
        in the assembly of saints." - Ps 149:1
    b. "Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their
        beds." - Ps 149:5
3. As we seek to exercise ourselves unto godliness (2Ti 4:7), consider 
    the discipline of singing as an appropriate complement to other 
    spiritual activities such as prayer, meditation, and fasting...

"FASTING"

INTRODUCTION
1. In a previous lesson we have defined spiritual disciplines as...
    a. Spiritual exercises that bring one closer to God, to become more
        godly in character and behavior
    b. Spiritual activities such as prayer, meditation, fasting, singing,
        giving, etc.
2. Previous studies examined the disciplines of...
    a. Prayer - especially the value of secret, simple, and steadfast
        prayer
    b. Meditation - contemplating on God, His works, His words, and
        things worthy of virtue
3. A discipline closely tied to prayer in the Scriptures is that of
    fasting...
    a. Practiced by men of God - Ezr 8:21; Neh 1:4; Dan 9:3; Mt 4:2
    b. Observed by the early church - Ac 13:1-3; 14:23; 2Co 6:5; 11:27
4. But some questions may come to mind...
    a. What exactly is fasting?
    b. Why would Christians fast?
    c. When would Christians fast?
    d. How should Christians fast?
5. This study will simply summarize the answers to such questions...
DISCUSSION
I. FASTING IN THE BIBLE
A. IN THE OLD TESAMENT...
     1. Only one fast was commanded in the Law of Moses - Lev 16:29;
         23:27-29; Num 29:7
         a. The phrase "afflict your soul" refers to fasting - cf. Psa 69:10
         b. Note also Ac 27:9 (where the Fast refers to the Day of
             Atonement)
     2. But the Israelites (and others) fasted on many other occasions
         a. In war, or at the threat of it - Judg 20:26; 1Sa 7:6
         b. When loved ones were sick - 2Sa 12:16-23; Ps 35:11-13
         c. When loved ones died - 1Sa 31:13; 1Ch 10:12; 2Sa 1:12
         d. When they sought God's forgiveness - Jon 3:4-10; Dan 9:3-5;
             Neh 9:1-3
         e. When faced with impending danger - 2Ch 20:3; Ezr 8:21;
             Neh 1:4; Es 4:3,16
         f. To commemorate certain calamities - cf. Zec 7:3; 8:19
     3. The purpose of fasting
         a. Some fasting was a natural reaction to grief over the loss
             of a loved one
         b. More often, fasting was done purposely to "afflict the soul"
              - Lev 23:27-29
         c. The purpose was to "humble" or "chasten" the soul
             - Psa 35:13; 69:10
         d. By so humbling themselves, they hoped to incur God's favor
             - Ezr 8:21-23; cf. Isa 57:15; 66:1-2
         e. Because they sought God's favor, fasting usually was
             accompanied with prayer
     4. The nature of fasting
         a. Fasting generally involved abstaining from food but not
             water
         b. Sometimes the fast was partial - a restriction of diet, not
             total abstention - cf. Dan 10:2-3
         c. On rare occasions there was the absolute fast - Jon 3:5-10;
             Es 4:16; cf. Ac 9:9
         d. The absolute fasts of Moses and Elijah must have been
             miraculous - Deut 9:9; 1Ki 19:8
     5. The length of fasting
         a. A fast was often for one day, from sunrise to sunset, and
             after sundown food would be taken - Judg 20:26; 2Sa 1:12;
             3:35
         b. A fast might be for one night (hence the term, "breakfast")
             - Dan 6:18
         c. The fast of Esther continued for three days, day and night,
             which seems to have been a special case - Es 4:16
         d. At Saul's burial, the fast by Jabesh-Gilead was seven days
             - 1Sa 31:13; 1Ch 10:12
         e. David fasted seven days when his child was ill - 2Sa 12:
             16-18
         f. The longest fasts were the forty day fasts by Moses, Elijah,
            and Jesus - Exo 34:28; Deut 9:9; 1Ki 19:8; Mt 4:2; Lk 4:2
     6. Warnings regarding fasting
         a. Fasting can easily turn into an external show and ceremonial
             ritualism
         b. When it did, God and His prophets spoke out against it
             - Isa 58:1-9; Zec 7:1-14
     -- Though subject to abuse, fasting played an important role in
         the life of Israel
B. FASTING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT...
     1. In the life of Jesus
         a. He fasted forty days in the wilderness - Mt 4:1-2; Lk 4:1-2
         b. He taught concerning fasting in His sermon on the mount
             - Mt 6:16-18
         c. He implied His disciples would fast after His death - Mk 2:
             18-20; Lk 5:33-35
         d. He spoke of the combined power of fasting and prayer
             - Mt 17:14-21
     2. In the life of the early church
         a. Members of the church at Antioch served the Lord with
             fasting - Ac 13:1-2
         b. Elders were appointed in the churches of Galatia with
             fasting - Ac 14:21-23
     3. In the life of Paul
         a. He fasted prior to his baptism - Ac 9:9
         b. He fasted as part of his ministry - 2Co 6:4-10; 11:23-28
         c. He described how fasting might be appropriate for others
             - 1Co 7:5
     4. In the lives of others
         a. Anna - Lk 2:36-37
         b. Cornelius - Ac 10:30-31
     -- Through both precept and example, the New Testament has 
         much to say about fasting
[Both Jews and Gentiles, Christians and non-Christians, practiced the
spiritual discipline of fasting in Bible times.  Should Christians fast
today?  I believe there is a place for fasting today...]
II. WHY WOULD CHRISTIANS FAST?
A. PEOPLE FAST TODAY FOR VARIOUS REASONS...
     1. Some purposefully, for health reasons
     2. Some without thinking, in times of grief and sorrow
     3. Others, in an effort to gain some kind of self-control
     -- But these are not reasons Christian should fast in their
         service to God - Col 2:20-23
B. CHRISTIANS SHOULD FAST TO SEEK GOD'S HELP...
     1. This is consistent with the majority of fasting in the OT
         a. In times of war or at the threat of it (Israel)
         b. When loved ones were sick (David)
         c. When seeking God's forgiveness (Ahab, Daniel)
         d. When seeking God's protection (Ezra)
     2. This is consistent with the examples of fasting in the NT
         a. When dealing with temptations (Jesus)
         b. When serving the Lord (Antioch)
         c. When beginning a work for the Lord (Antioch)
         d. When selecting and appointing elders (Galatia)
     -- There is certainly apostolic example for Christians to fast
         today
[If fasting has a place in the Christian life, then let's look more
closely at...]
III. WHEN WOULD CHRISTIANS FAST?
A. WHENEVER CIRCUMSTANCES REQUIRE GOD'S HELP...
     1. These may be occasions on an individual level
         a. When faced with difficult temptations
         b. When faced with the serious illness of a loved one
     2. These occasions might be on a congregational level
         a. As when appointing elders
         b. As when sending out missionaries
     -- Not as some ceremonious ritual, but when appropriate for the
         occasion
B. WHENEVER CIRCUMSTANCES CALL FOR MUCH  
     PRAYER...
     1. Is not God more likely to answer our  prayers if we are
         persistent? - cf. Lk 18:1-8
     2. Is not God more likely to respond if we fast in the proper
         manner? - cf. Mt 6:17-18
     -- This may be why fasting is frequently joined with prayer in 
         the Scriptures
[Whenever there are matters requiring much prayer, fasting along with
prayer is appropriate.  Finally, let's take a look at...]
IV. HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS FAST?
A. SOME BIBLICAL WARNINGS...
     1. Not to be seen of men - Mt 6:16-18
     2. Not as some regular ritual - cf. Mt 9:14-17
     3. Not without true repentance - cf. Isa 58:3-9
     -- To be effective, fasting must take such warnings seriously
B. SOME PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS...
     1. Don't fast just because it sounds like a neat thing to do
         a. Take the subject seriously
         b. Fast only when the occasion is a serious one
         c. One in which you deeply desire God's help
     2. If you have never fasted before...
         a. Start slow, fasting only for brief periods of time
         b. End slow, gradually breaking your fast with fresh fruits and
             vegetables in small amounts
     3. Fast when you have time to spend in prayerful meditation
         a. Remember the purpose for fasting
             1) To humble oneself in God's sight
             2) To seek favorable answer to prayer for some important
                 plea
         b. Thus fast when you have time
             1) To pray
             2) To meditate
         c. Remember fasting can be:
             1) Partial abstention from food, not necessarily complete
             2) Just for one day or night, not necessarily for days and
                 nights
     -- Fasting is not an end, but a means to an end; a way to humble
         oneself before God
CONCLUSION
1. Views about fasting have often been extreme...
    a. "Some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and
         reason, and others have utterly disregarded it." - John Wesley
    b. Some consider fasting unnecessary, therefore to be ignored; 
        others think fasting is to be bound as a matter of faith (like
        baptism)
    c. For the Christian, fasting is left primarily to individual
        discretion
2. When properly understood, fasting can be a valuable spiritual
    discipline...
    a. A way to humble oneself before God
    b. When joined with prayer, a way to solicit God's help
3. As we seek to exercise ourselves unto godliness (2Ti 4:7), consider 
    the practice of fasting as an appropriate complement to prayer and
    meditation...

“MEDITATION”

INTRODUCTION
1. Spiritual Discipline is defined as...
   a. Spiritual exercises that bring one closer to God, to become more
       godly in character and behavior
   b. This involves such spiritual activities such as prayer, meditation, 
       fasting, singing, giving, etc.
2.  In a previous studies have examined the discipline of prayer...
    a. Noting especially the value of secret, simple, and steadfast
        prayer
    b. in which we praise God, make supplication for our needs, 
        intercede for others
3. Closely tied to prayer is the disciple of meditation...
    a. A spiritual exercise practiced by men of God - Gen 24:63; Ps 1:
        1-2
    b. A spiritual duty given to those who are Christians
        - Php 4:8; 1 Ti 4:15
4. But some questions may come to mind...
    a. What exactly is meditation?
    b. Why should we take time to meditate?
    c. How should we meditate?
[This study will attempt to provide answers to these questions...]
DISCUSSION
I. MEDITATION IN THE BIBLE
A. WHAT IS NOT MEDITATION IN THE BIBLE...
     1. That practiced by many Eastern religions
         a. Like Hinduism, Buddhism, or Transcendental Meditation
         b. Where the object is to experience truth, peace, or being,
             usually inexpressible
     2. That practiced by Christian mystics
         a. Such as Quakers, and others often found among Catholics and
             Protestants
         b. Who meditate to experience God, or to receive some
             revelation from God
     3. Both Eastern and Christian mystical meditation usually seek to
         empty the mind so as to find or receive truth within (i.e., a
         subjective form of meditation)
B. WHAT IS MEDITATION IN THE BIBLE...
     1. To contemplate on truth or reality already revealed (i.e., an
         objective form of meditation)
     2. For example, the man "after God's own heart" is one who
         meditates on:
         a. The Lord Himself - Ps 63:6
         b. His wonderful Works - Ps 77:12
         c. His revealed Word - Ps 119:15,23,48,97-99,148
     3. In the words of Paul, we are to meditate on "things" - Php 4:8
         a. Things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good
             report
         b. Things that are of any virtue, and are praiseworthy
[There is a very real difference between Biblical meditation and that
commonly practiced by many religions:  Christian meditation dwells on that already revealed in creation or inspired revelation, whereas other forms of meditation seek some new truth or experience to be revealed. Understanding the difference, why is Biblical meditation important...?]
II. WHY CHRISTIANS SHOULD MEDITATE
A. A SOURCE OF JOY AND STRENGTH...
     1. As seen from such passages like Ps 1:1-3; Isa 40:28-31
     2. This alone should motivate us to meditate more often
B. AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR TRANSFORMATION...
     1. The goal of the Christian is to become more like Christ - cf.
         Ro 8:29
     2. This requires a "transformation" - Ro 12:1-2
     3. But notice that this is possible only by "renewing the mind"
         - Ro 12:2
     4. This "renewing" is possible only when we "set our minds" on
         proper things
         a. On things above
         b. Not on things on the earth - Col 3:1-2
     5. Only then, when our minds are "set on things above", will we be
         successful in completing the "transformation" which includes
         "putting off the old man" and "putting on the new man" - cf. Co
         3:1-2 with Col 3:5-14
C. MANY FALL BECAUSE THEY MEDITATE ON THE 
     WRONG THINGS...
     1. They "mind the things of the flesh", which leads to "death" and
         "enmity with God" - cf. Ro 8:5-8
     2. You cannot be a spiritual person if you "dwell" on carnal
         things
         a. "Recent studies conducted by a Stanford University research
             team have revealed that 'what we watch' does have an effect
             on our imaginations, our learning patterns, and our
             behaviors." - Denis Waitley, Seeds Of Greatness, p. 47-48
         b. " First we are exposed to new behaviors and characters.
             Next, we learn or acquire these new behaviors. The last and
             most crucial step is that we adopt these behaviors as our
             own." - ibid.
         c. "One of the most critical aspects of human development that
             we need to understand is the influence of 'repeated viewing'
             and 'repeated verbalizing' in shaping our future." - ibid.
         d. The information goes in, 'harmlessly, almost unnoticed,' on
             a daily basis, but we don't react to it until later, when we
             aren't able to realize the basis for our reactions." - ibid.
         e. "In other words, our value system is being formed without
             any conscious awareness on our part of what is happening!"
             - ibid.
         f. "You are what you watch and think." - ibid., p. 45
         g. "If a sixty second commercial, by repeated viewing, can sell
             us a product, then isn't it possible for a sixty minute soap
             opera or 'smut-com', by repeated viewing, to sell us a
             lifestyle?" - ibid., p. 47
     3. Fill your mind with positive and spiritual thoughts if you
         really want to:
         a. "renew the mind"
         b. "be transformed"
[If Christians are to succeed, they must set their minds (meditate) on
the things of the Spirit, on things above, where Christ is!  Only then
will they with God's help put off the old man and put on the new man.
Finally, a few thoughts on...]
III. HOW TO MEDITATE
A. FIND A QUIET TIME AND PLACE...
     1. For Isaac, it was in the field at evening - Gen 24:63
     2. For David, it was in bed during the night watches - Ps 4:4; 63:6;
         119:148
      -- A time and place free from distraction
B. CONTEMPLATE SOMETHING OF VALUE...
     1. David focused his meditation on three things:
         a. The Lord Himself - Ps 63:6
         b. His wonderful Works - Ps 77:12
         c. His revealed Word - Ps 119:15,23,48,97-99,148
     2. Paul mentioned things that possess virtue and are praiseworthy
         - Php 4:8
         a. Whatever is noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report
         b. Which could include devotional writings by uninspired authors
        -- A subject or object worthy of mindful contemplation
C. LET THE BIBLE BE YOUR PRIMARY FOCUS...
     1. Read it contemplatively every day - Ps 1:2; 119:15
     2. Read it with a prayer in your heart - cf. Ps 119:18
     3. As you read, occasionally read it aloud to yourself
         a. The Hebrew word in Ps 1:2 for meditate means "to mutter"
         b. Reading slowly and audibly helps to focus one's mind on the
             words
     4. As you read, you might ask yourself the following questions:
         a. Is there some truth I should know from this verse?
         b. How does this passage affect a previously held conviction?
         c. Is there something I should stop doing in light of this
             verse?
         d. Is there a practice I should change?
         e. Is there a habit I ought to begin?
     5. You might end with a prayer such as David's - cf. Ps 119:10
      -- "Hold the Word of God in your heart until it has affected
         every phase of your life...this is meditation."
CONCLUSION
1. In Ps 19:14, we find David praying:
   "Let the words of mouth and the meditation of my heart
    Be acceptable in Your sight, "O Lord, my strength and my 
    redeemer."
2. By heeding Paul's command ("meditate on these things" - Php 4:8), 
    we can ensure that our meditations will be acceptable in the sight of
    our Lord!
3. Together with frequent prayer, the practice of meditation will go a 
    long way toward exercising one's self unto godliness...!

4/7/13 “STUDYING THE BIBLE”

INTRODUCTION

1. An important element involved in our walk with God is BIBLE

    STUDY

2. Some new Christians find difficulty getting started in this area

3. But this is an important duty, one which the Bible emphasizes

   - Ac 2:42; 1Pe 2:2

I. WHY BIBLE STUDY IS IMPORTANT

A. BECAUSE THE BIBLE POSSESSES THE POWER OF

     "SANCTIFICATION"...

     1. "Sanctification" means "to set apart"; as used in the Bible,

         to set apart for God's purpose

     2. The Word of God is the means by which God does this...

         a. As praised by David in his psalm - Ps 19:7-11

         b. As mentioned in the prayer of Jesus - Jn 17:17

    -- IF WE ARE GOING TO BE USEFUL TO GOD, THEN WE

       NEED TO STUDY HIS WORD!

B. BECAUSE THE BIBLE POSSESSES THE POWER OF   

     "PRESERVATION"...

     1. A lack of knowledge has always destroyed the people of God

         - Ho 4:6

     2. But the YOUNG can keep their ways pure by the Word of God

         - Ps 119:9

     3. And the ELDERS were exhorted to keep the church by the Word

         - Ac 20:28-32

     -- ONE OF THE FIRST STEPS TOWARD BACKSLIDING IS TO

         NEGLECT GOD'S WORD!

C. BECAUSE THE BIBLE POSSESSES THE POWER OF   

     "SALVATION" AND "CONDEMNATION"...

     1. Received properly, it can save our souls! - Jm 1:21

     2. It will be the standard by which we will be judged - Jn 12:48

[Will the Word save us, or will it condemn us?  Careful study and

application of the Bible will make the difference!]

II. WHY BIBLE STUDY IS OFTEN NEGLECTED

A. SOME PEOPLE JUST "TAKE THE PREACHER'S

     WORD"...

     1. For this reason, they do not study for themselves

     2. Most preachers are good men, but they can still be wrong

         - Ac 18:24-26

     3. It is our responsibility to "test the spirits" (1Jn 4:1-2),

         and to be able to identify "false apostles" (2Co 11:13-15)

B. SOME PEOPLE SAY "THEY CAN'T GET ANYTHING OUT

     OF THE BIBLE"...

     1. This may be because they read it so little, or because they do

         not know how to go about studying it

     2. Often it is because they do not use a modern English translation

     3. Most have simply made little effort to understand it

     4. Yet Paul assumed that people could understand it if they read

         it - cf. Ep 3:3-4

C. SOME PEOPLE SAY "THEY DON'T HAVE THE TIME"...

     1. People who DO study are busy too, but they leave off things

         that are less important

     2. As Jesus commanded, we must put the things of the kingdom of

         God FIRST - Mt 6:33

[There is really no excuse for neglecting the Word of God.  In view of

its importance, we would be foolish to do so. But how shall one study the Word of God?  There are several different approaches...]

III. METHODS OF BIBLE STUDY

A. THE "PLANNED-LESSON" METHOD...

     1. "A Closer Walk With God" is an example of this method

     2. Someone prepares lessons on a subject, then it is studied in a

         class or at home

     3. This is a good way to study, but one's study should not be

         limited to this method

B. THE "SUBJECT" METHOD...

     1. This involves selecting some subject (e.g., "baptism"), then

         collecting and studying each passage in the Bible on the

         subject

     2. This method has its advantages, but it can be easy to take

         things out of context and draw the wrong conclusion

C. THE "BOOK" METHOD...

     1. This consists of an intensive study of a single book of the Bible

     2. Since the Bible was written a book at a time, this is probably

         the best way to study the Bible

     3. DAILY BIBLE READING programs can very easily utilize this

         approach to the Scriptures

         a. E.g., following a program to read through the entire Bible

             each year

         b. E.g., taking a chapter each week to read and study daily, you

             can cover the New Testament in depth over a five year period

         -- Doing both of these will give a person an OVERALL under-

             standing of the Bible and an INDEPTH understanding of the

             New Testament

[To get more out of the studying you do...]

IV. SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR BIBLE STUDY

A. SET A REGULAR TIME...

     1. Regularity is a key to success, so set aside some regular time

         for study

         a. For "night owls", the best time may be late at night, after

             the children are in bed

         b. For "morning larks", early morning before the children

             arise might be better

     2. Family study is a good practice, but each person needs also to

         have a regular time in which he or she can come face to face

         with God's message ALONE

B. PRAY AS YOU STUDY...

     1. Begin your study with prayer - cf. Ps 119:18

     2. As you study, ask God for the wisdom and strength to

         understand and obey His Word - cf. Ps 119:5,6

     3. End your study with prayer - cf. Ps 119:10-11

C. UTILIZE VARIOUS HELPS...

     1. TRANSLATIONS

         a. Using various translations can help make understanding the

             Bible easier

         b. The more reliable translations are:

             1) King James Version (a classic, but somewhat archaic)

             2) New King James Version (my personal choice)

             3) American Standard Version (most literal, but hard to read)

             4) New American Standard Version (a wordy update to the

                 ASV)

         c. Some translations that are easy to read can be used as

             references (e.g., New International Version)

         d. One should not put much stock in versions translated...

             1) By one man (e.g., The Living Bible)

             2) By individuals from one denominational background (e.g.,

                 The New World Translation)

     2. DICTIONARIES

         a. Not knowing the meaning of words is the most common cause

             for not understanding the Bible

         b. An ordinary English dictionary can be used, but there are

             special Bible dictionaries that are more useful and accurate

         c. A good one is "Vine's Expository Dictionary"

     3. CONCORDANCE

         a. This useful work contains words in alphabetical order along

             with a list of verses in the Bible where they are found

         b. It can be a great time saver in finding verses based on a

             given subject

         c. If possible, use a concordance based upon the translation

             you use

     4. ENCYCLOPEDIAS

         a. This type of reference gives detailed articles on the

             people, places, and things mentioned in the Bible

         b. Two good sets are:

             1) Zondervan's Pictorial Encyclopedia Of The Bible

             2) The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

     5. COMMENTARIES

         a. These are books written by scholars commenting on various

             books of the Bible

             1) One must be careful, as these scholars are not inspired

                 and are subject to mistakes

             2) But their insights and the fruit of their own study can

                 be helpful

         b. It might be good to ask mature Christians what commentaries

             they can recommend

     6. These and other reference helps are often found in church

         libraries and may be available for your use; in time, you

         should gradually develop your own library of Bible study aids

CONCLUSION

1. Such aids can be a great help, but make sure that the conclusions

    you draw are based upon your own careful study of God's Word!

2. What is most important is that we are engaged in some sort of

    consistent, systematic study of the Bible so that we are ever being

    blessed by the Word of God!

SOME QUESTIONS TO STIMULATE YOUR THINKING...

1. How long do you study the Bible daily?

2. Do you study the class lessons at home (when available) that you

    have in church?

3. If you are not doing so now, are you willing to spend 15-30 minutes

    daily in Bible study?

4. What's your biggest problem in studying?

“The Practice of Prayer”

“THE PRACTICE OF PRAYER”
INTRODUCTION
1. In our previous lesson, we discussed Principles Of Prayer, such as:
    a. Characteristics of acceptable prayer
    b. Obstacles to prayer
    c. Answers to prayer
2. With a desire to encourage disciples of Jesus to more diligent
   praying, this lesson will offer suggestions as to The Practice Of
   Prayer...
I. WHEN SHOULD WE PRAY?
A. HAVING "SET TIMES" TO PRAY CAN HELP TO CREATE 
     THE HABIT OF PRAYING...
     1. For example, consider the practice of:
         a. David, whom God described as "a man after My own heart"
             - Ps 55:17
         b. Daniel, whom the angel of God described as "O man greatly
             beloved" - Dan 6:10
     2. These great men of God made it a habit to pray at set times
         throughout the day; we would do well to imitate their example
     3. At the very least...
         a. Find some time each day to be alone with God in prayer
             1) Early morning may be best for some
             2) Others might find it easier to be alone late at night
         b. Make it a special time to be alone with your Heavenly
             Father!
B. YET PRAYERS SHOULD NOT BE LIMITED TO "SET 
     TIMES"...
     1. Special needs call for special times of praying
     2. Consider the examples of:
         a. Jesus, praying on important occasions - Lk 6:12-13
         b. Paul, praying in trying circumstances - Ac 16:25
         c. Nehemiah - praying on the spur of the moment - Neh 2:4-5
C. THE GOAL IS TO "PRAY WITHOUT CEASING" - 1Th 5:17
     1. Having "set times" will help develop the experience in praying
     2. Praying "spontaneously" as needs arise will develop the
         disposition to pray in every circumstance (i.e., "without
         ceasing")
II. WITH WHOM SHOULD WE PRAY?
A. JESUS EXHORTED US TO PRAY "IN SECRET" - Mt 6:5-6
     1. Private prayer should occupy the largest portion of our total
         life of prayer
     2. Consider the value of "secret prayer":
         a. It forms a close union, communion and fellowship with God
            (it is just you and Him!)
         b. It is a true test of your sincerity and devotion
             1) You certainly are not doing it to please men (they can't
                 see you)
             2) You can't be trying to falsely impress God (He will see
                 right through you)
         c. Your Father will reward you "openly" - Mt 6:6
      -- Therefore, "private prayer" should be a priority!
B. JESUS ALSO SPOKE OF PRAYING WITH "TWO OR 
     THREE" - Mt 18:19-20
     1. The early Christians prayed together often...
         a. In times of trouble - Ac 4:23-24; 12:5,12; 16:25
         b. In times of departure - Ac 20:36; 21:5
     2. A sweetness of fellowship and sense of strength comes when
         God's people pray together
      -- Therefore, "praying with others" should be done as often as
         possible
III. HOW SHOULD WE PRAY?
A. JESUS TAUGHT HOW TO PRAY - Lk 11:1-4
     1. The "Lord's Prayer", as it is commonly called, is a model, a
         guide for learning how to pray
     2. A careful examination of this prayer reveals that proper prayer
         includes:
         a. To "whom" we should pray ("Our Father in heaven")
         b. Praising God ("Hallowed be Your Name")
         c. Supplication
              1) For God's purposes ("Your kingdom come.  Your will be
                  done...")
              2) For our physical needs ("Give us this day our daily
                  bread")
              3) For our spiritual needs ("Forgive us our sins...")
              4) For spiritual needs of others ("For we also forgive
                  everyone who is indebted to us")
      3. He also stressed the importance of simplicity in our prayers
          - Mt 6:7-8
B. A HELPFUL ACROSTIC IN LEARNING TO PRAY IS "A-C-
     T-S"
     1. A = ADORATION
         a. I.e., praising God
         b. A good example of this is found in 1Ch 29:10-13
         c. Spending time in sincere praise of God's greatness will help
             put us in the proper spirit of humility
     2. C = CONFESSION
         a. i.e., acknowledging our sins before God
         b. When we understand how sin can break the fellowship we 
             have with God, we naturally desire its quick remission
         c. Fortunately, as Christians we can be cleansed by the blood
             of Jesus as we confess our sins - 1Jn 1:9
     3. T = THANKSGIVING
         a. An important part of prayer, even those in which we are
             making requests - Php 4:6
         b. The benefits of giving thanks are many:
             1) Causes us to acknowledge God's existence, love, and care
             2) Reminds us of His goodness
             3) Helps to shift our focus from what we don't have to what
                 we do have
         c. The kind of things to be thankful for:
             1) Things we can see in our lives...
                 a) Health
                 b) Family and friends
                 c) God's guidance, answers to previous prayers
             2) Things we may not be able to see...
                 a) Our adoption as His children
                 b) The forgiveness of sins
                 c) The hope of eternal life
                 d) The assurance of His continued presence
         d. God's people have every reason to be thankful, and to be
             known for "abounding in thanksgiving" - Col 1:12; 2:7; 3:15;
             4:2
     4. S = SUPPLICATION
         a. I.e., making requests of God - Php 4:6
         b. If we are faithful in including the first three (adoration,
             confession, thanksgiving), this last will prevent prayer
             from being simply a spiritual "shopping list"
         c. When we broaden our requests to include others, we enter
             into one of the most noble realms of prayer:  intercession
             1) Something which God wants us to do - 1Ti 2:1
             2) Examples of whom we can pray for are given in the next
                 section...
IV. FOR WHAT SHOULD WE PRAY?
A. IN THE SCRIPTURES, GOD INDICATES THAT HE  
     WISHES US TO PRAY FOR:
     1. Self
         a. For physical daily needs - Mt 6:11
         b. For personal growth in Christlikeness and devotion to God
             - Col 1:9-12
     2. Family
         a. For spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc.
         b. For their nurture and growth in the teaching of the Lord
             - Ep 6:4
     3. Community
         a. For peace to prevail
         b. E.g., Jer 29:7
     4. Church
         a. For love and unity to prevail - Jn 13:35; 17:20-21
         b. For the spiritual growth of each member - Php 1:9-11
         c. For the gospel to have free course - 2Th 3:1
     5. Nation
         a. For national repentance and consciousness of who God is
             - Psa 33:12; Pr 14:34
         b. For leaders to rule wisely - 1Ti 2:2
     6. Nonbelievers
         a. For their salvation - Ro 10:1
         b. For the effort of those involved in teaching them - Ep 6:18-20
     7. The sick
         a. For their restoration to health - Jm 5:14-15
         b. For spiritual strength and peace of mind - Jm 5:16
     8. The poor and oppressed
         a. Such as the homeless, fatherless, unborn children - Pr 29:7
         b. Those in other nations oppressed by their own rulers or
             outside influences
B. IT MIGHT HELP TO HAVE A "PRAYER STRATEGY"...
     1. On Monday - Family
         a. Pray for both immediate and extended family members
         b. For both their physical and spiritual well-being
     2. On Tuesday - Church
         a. For members in the local congregation
         b. For Christians and congregations throughout the world
     3. On Wednesday - Community
         a. For community leaders
         b. For your neighbors
     4. On Thursday - Nation
         a. For elected officials
         b. For efforts to bring peace and righteousness
     5. On Friday - World
         a. For world peace
         b. For nations that are "closed" to the gospel
     6. On Saturday - Afflicted
         a. For the poor, homeless, jobless
         b. For those in prison
         c. For those who are sick
         d. For widows, single mothers, fatherless children
CONCLUSION
1. These are simply suggestions, to help us see that there is much we
    can be praying for; other suggestions could include:
    a. A "daily prayer strategy" (morning-family; noon-church;
        evening-community)
    b. When praying for the nation and the world, pray about the events
        described in the newspaper
    c. Keeping a "list" or "journal" of those for whom you are praying
2. The important thing is to PRAY, and to do so:
    a. "always"
    b. "in everything"
    c. "earnestly"
    d. "being vigilant"
    e. "without ceasing"
3. I hope these last two lessons will encourage us to be more diligent
    in utilizing this wonderful privilege of prayer!
- SOME QUESTIONS TO STIMULATE YOUR THINKING...
    1. Do you spend time each day in prayer to God?
    2. Do you find prayer an easy or difficult activity?
    3. Do you pray with other people at times other than before meals, 
        in Bible classes, or in the assembly?
    4. Do your prayers include the needs of others, or just your own
        concerns?

"Principles of Prayer"

“PRINCIPLES OF PRAYER”
INTRODUCTION
1. One of the greatest blessings enjoyed by Christians in this life is
    the privilege of PRAYER, by which we can approach God
    a. Through prayer, the Christian can find FORGIVENESS for sins
        - 1Jn 1:9
    b. Through prayer, the Christian can find PEACE to replace anxiety
        - Php 4:6-7
    c. Through prayer, the Christian can receive STRENGTH from God
        through His Spirit - Ep 3:14-16
2. For such reasons, Paul frequently exhorted Christians to be diligent
    in their prayers...
    a. "praying always with all prayer and supplication..." - Ep 6:18
    b. "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanks-
        giving" - Col 4:2
    c. "Pray without ceasing" - 1Th 5:17
3. Yet Jesus knew that people would tend to become slack in their
    prayers - Lk 18:1
    a. It is out of a similar concern that prompts two lessons devoted
        specifically to "PRAYER"
    b. It is hoped that you will be encouraged to be more diligent in
        prayer as we examine:
        1) Basic PRINCIPLES of prayer taught in God's Word
        2) Suggestions concerning the PRACTICE of prayer in our daily
            lives
[In this lesson, then, PRINCIPLES OF PRAYER, beginning with...]
DISCUSSION
I. CHARACTERISTICS OF ACCEPTABLE PRAYER
A. IT MUST BE OFFERED "IN FAITH"...
     1. "And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you
         will receive." - Mt 21:22
     2. We must have faith in God, and in His ability to answer 
         - He 11:6
     3. Otherwise, prayer will not be answered - cf. Jm 1:5-8
     4. Is our faith weak?  Then increase it with the help of God's
         Word - Ro 10:17
B. IT MUST BE OFFERED "IN THE SPIRIT OF HUMILITY"...
     1. Notice the example of the Pharisee and the publican 
         - Lk 18:9-14
     2. Remember, "The LORD is near to those who have a broken 
         heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit" - Ps 34:18
     3. As quoted by James:  "God resists the proud, but gives grace
         to the humble" - Jm 4:6
C. IT MUST BE OFFERED "IN HARMONY WITH GOD'S 
     WILL"...
     1. God answers prayer that is offered "according to His will" 
         - 1Jn 5:14
     2. Jesus provided the example for us in His prayers at Gethsemane
         - Lk 22:42
     3. Too often, prayers are unanswered because they are more con-
         cerned with OUR will, rather than GOD'S will! - cf. Jm 4:3
D. IT MUST BE OFFERED "BY THOSE RIGHTEOUS    
     BEFORE GOD"...
     1. "For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears
         are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against
         those who do evil" - 1Pe 3:12
     2. The prayers of the righteous person are effective - Jm 5:16-18
     3. But those continuing in sin He will not hear! - Pr 28:9; Is 59:1-2
     4. To be righteous before God...
         a. Requires that we submit to the "righteousness of God"
             offered in Christ - cf. Ro 10:1-4
         b. I.e., respond to the gospel of Christ - Ro 1:16-17
E. IT MUST BE OFFERED "IN THE SPIRIT OF 
     THANKSGIVING"...
     1. "giving thanks always for all things to God" - Ep 5:20
     2. "in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving"
         - Php 4:6
     3. "...prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving" - Col 4:2
     4. "pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks" 
         - 1Th 5:17-18
F. IT MUST BE OFFERED "WITH PERSISTENCE"...
     1. Jesus illustrated this aspect of prayer through two parables
         a. The parable of the persistent friend - Lk 11:5-10
         b. The parable of the persistent widow - Lk 18:1-8
     2. The virtue of persistence is demonstrated in the prayers of:
         a. Jesus at Gethsemane - Mt 26:44
         b. Paul, pertaining to his "thorn in the flesh" - 2Co 12:7-8
         c. The early church - Ac 2:42
G. IT MUST BE OFFERED "IN THE NAME OF JESUS"...
     1. "Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the
         name of our Lord Jesus Christ" - Ep 5:20
     2. This means much more than simply adding a little phrase "in
         Jesus' name" at the end of our prayers!
         a. We must realize that Jesus is the only way by which we can
             approach God - Jn 14:6
         b. We must view Him as our "high priest" who intercedes for us
             - He 7:24-25; Jn 14:13
     3. Appealing to God in the name of His Son can give us great
         confidence that God will give us what we need! - He 4:14-16
[Such are the conditions that make prayer acceptable to God.  But it
might be helpful to also notice a few...]
II. OBSTACLES TO PRAYER
A. UNCONFESSED SIN...
     1. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear"            
         - Ps 66:18
     2. The BASIS for prayer rests upon our being in fellowship with  
         Him; such fellowship is broken if we do not confess our sins
         to Him!
B. IMPROPER TREATMENT OF OTHERS...
     1. How we treat others has a bearing upon whether God will hear
         our prayers!
         a. E.g., how we treat the poor - Ps 41:1-3
         b. E.g., how one treats his friend - Mt 5:23-24
         c. E.g., how a husband treats his wife - 1Pe 3:7
     2. We must correct our relationships with others (if possible)
         before we can expect God to hear our prayers!
     3. Especially if we desire to receive forgiveness for our sins!
         - Mt 6:14-15; 18:21-23
[Finally, it is important to bear in mind that God answers prayer in
various ways...]
III. ANSWERS TO PRAYERS
A. "REQUEST GRANTED"...
     1. God may answer "YES" , and grant the petitions we ask of Him
     2. Such will be the case the more we try to do His Will in our
          lives - 1Jn 3:22
B. "REQUEST GRANTED, BUT NOT YET"...
     1. God may grant our request, but in time and according to His
         purpose for our lives
     2. "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose
         under heaven" - Ec 3:1
     3. So we may think God is saying "NO", when He is really saying
         "YES, BUT WAIT"
C. "REQUEST GRANTED, BUT NOT AS YOU MIGHT 
     EXPECT"...
     1. Sometimes God says "YES", but answers it in way differently
         than we anticipated
     2. Remember, God's thoughts and methods are often much different
         than ours - Is 55:8,9
     3. Like asking God for strength and perseverance...
         a. He may give us trials to bear
         b. Which in turn develops the virtues we prayed for!
     4. We should be careful and not dictate to God HOW to answer our
         prayers...
D. "REQUEST DENIED"...
     1. Often God says "NO"
     2. But we must trust that God, who knows all and what is best,
         would do so only if granting our request might not be for our
         good - cf. He 12:5-11
     3. We may not fully understand, but we can still fully trust Him!
         - cf. Hab 3:17-19
     4. Especially in light of the promise in 1Co 10:13
CONCLUSION
1. The ability to pray to God and receive answers in our lives is truly
    one of the greatest blessings we can have as children of God!
2. Hopefully, understanding and applying the principles discussed in
    this lesson will assure greater success in having our prayers
    answered
3. Our next lesson will deal with "THE PRACTICE OF PRAYER",  
    offering suggestions on the when, with whom, how and what of 
    prayer
4. SOME QUESTIONS TO STIMULATE YOUR THINKING...
    - Do you find it easy or difficult to pray?
    - Do you believe in the power of God to answer prayer?
    - Should you be disappointed when it appears that God has 
      answered your prayer with a "NO"?
    - Are you spending time every day devoted to prayer?