We have a responsibility to represent Jesus to our world, which raises the question, “How well do we understand our world?” This lesson, consequently, considers a few findings reported by the Barna Group (a non-profit organization that tracks trends in the thinking and practices of Christian religion in the United States) that offer us some insights into evangelism in our world.
Paul included a general command in his final comments to the Colossians – Christians are to “walk in wisdom toward outsiders” (Colossians 4:5). While his comment about walking in wisdom focuses on conversations with non-believers (Colossians 4:6), that wisdom offers an expression of the larger discussion Paul has in his letter about Christian living. This lesson considers that discussion and its meaning for our practice of evangelism.
Hosea 11:1-9 Hosea’s message addressed the northern kingdom of Israel, a nation formed from the eleven Jewish tribes God stripped from king Solomon as punishment for his disregard of his covenant relationship with God (1 Kings 11:9-13). Even though God formed the Israel in response to Solomon’s unfaithfulness, the northern kingdom did not pay attention to Solomon’s example and itself embraced unfaithfulness (2 Kings 17:7-17). God consequently sent Hosea to deliver to Israel a message of coming punishment and future restoration.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-11–While the Bible teaches about God’s generous forgiveness, it also includes passages that point out its limits. This lesson will consider some of those passages to help nuance our understanding of God’s forgiveness.
Jesus’ responded to his disciples’ debate about “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” with a surprising teaching – the greatest are those who purposefully give up status (Matthew 18:1-4). His comment prompted a conversation with his disciples about forgiveness that this lesson explores.
Matthew 11:28-30 We need rest. Do we think about how we rest? Do you think God understands our need for rest better than we do? Sunday morning we’ll study the concept of rest as physically & spiritually renewing as well as the rest God promises in Christ.
God calls Christians “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). Conforming to Jesus’ image means pouring one’s self into the template of his life and teachings. That pouring, however, reveals areas where Jesus acted very differently than we might act. We will consider one of those areas in this lesson – Jesus’ practice of forgiveness – and think about what his example means for our lives.
Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for neglecting “the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faithfulness” in Matthew 23:23. This lesson will consider why he included faithfulness in his list of weightier matters, how God develops it in the Bible, and the place it should consequently have within our lives.
John 14:15 – Few things make Christians more uncomfortable than the topic of evangelism, yet the Bible emphasizes its essential place in the church’s identity and mission in the world. This lesson will consider the place that Jesus gave to love in evangelism and what it means for our practice of evangelism today.
Rather than exalting God through the spiritual authority they claimed, Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for exalting themselves at the expense of the people they claimed to teach and lead. In particular, Jesus censored them for neglecting the mercy, one of the “weightier matters” of God’s law. This lesson will consider mercy’s place in the Bible and in our lives
James 1:17 — The connection between the Old and New Testaments offers one example where readers today sometimes miss the elements God intends to unite the two parts of the Bible. We will therefore take time to explore some of the features of the Old Testament that extend into the New Testament, their connection to Jesus, and how Jesus’ place in them both creates continuity and change.
Job 31:1-12. In this passage, Job is defending himself against the accusation of adultery. This is quite an accusation for a guy who has just lost everything. The Bible understands a lifelong commitment to purity can be challenging. And so we get more than a list of rules. We see in Job’s response that his idea of a pure heart goes beyond not committing adultery. This is surprisingly similar to Jesus! For Job, a pure heart that translated into pure actions protected the well-being of his family and resulted in a community better able to recognize the values & purposes of God.
We thank our God for you always. Report from Mel Latorre on the work in Brazil.
Jesus’ identification of justice as one of the “weightier matters of the law” did not offer a new insight to the audience listening to his condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees. The Bible’s persistent teachings about God’s justice provided an anchor for the Jewish peoples’ hopes; they were awaiting the day when God would exercise His justice on their behalf and free them from oppressing nations. Even though the people listening to Jesus teach would have given God’s justice a “weightier” place, Jesus applied God’s justice in a way that resonated with the Bible’s teachings while, at the same time, challenging conventional understandings. We will therefore consider the weightier place Jesus gave to justice and explore the place it should have within our lives.
In Matthew 23:23, Jesus indicated that justice, mercy, and faithfulness hold priority in obedience to God. This lesson will consider the balance Jesus’ comment pointed toward and will explore other passages that help map out that balance and the place it ought to have in our lives as followers of Jesus.
Matthew 5:33-37 God is a God of truth, honesty and plain speech. He calls His people to tell the truth, even when it hurts.
Selfless & Faithful: The story of Ruth
1 Corinthians chapter eight contains part of Paul’s response to a question raised by the Christians in the city of Corinth – he told them to think less about their rights and more about their selfless service to one another. This lesson examines Paul’s response as part of our series examining the selflessness that ought to define our lives as followers of Jesus.
Paul told Timothy to give attention to the public reading of scripture. This lesson uses that instruction as the motivation for its public reading, and exploration, of Genesis 18.
Luke 9:23-26 The four gospels repeatedly record Jesus warning the crowds of interested people who listened to him about the high cost associated with following him. This lesson considers that cost and its meaning for our lives.