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Bible Study Archives

Pleasing God

Spring 2023

Lesson01_PleasingGodNotes

Peace and grace all–

This week begins our seasonal Bible Study. We pray you have enjoyed a time of ‘rest’ while living and sharing your faith–
as we now return to learning and discussing more deeply the things we believe concerning God word.
 
Join us this Wednesday, March 1st (6:30pm). Please note the new start time.
For the next few months we will challenge ourselves with the Union Gospel Press curriculum and material theme:
PLEASING THE FATHER – The Example of Christ’s Works, Sacrifice and Teaching
 
Attached (pdf) is a full study syllabus with dates, lesson themes, and scripture text for every week and the first lesson. Prior to our joining in discussion, we will always send you the lesson exposition, a few study questions and ideas in which to immerse yourself. You may use your own Bibles and study enhancements and of course come with perspective and any questions that come to mind. Our Bible Study is always the Wednesday before the Sunday posted in the syllabus, hence our Sunday sermon message and youth Sunday School lessons will all be in sync. This should make for a very cohesive approach and good discussions within our church.
 
Let me add, even if you don’t join in the weekly Wednesday night Bible Study, you should still read through the weekly lesson’s scripture text and exposition to be prepared for Sunday service and worship. We will regard you as the “home schooled” people of the church and you will be fully aware of what is being taught and preached each Sunday. (smile) Make it easy by choosing a specific night each week to do your lesson, as we will try to send the new lesson info each Sunday eve.
 
Here is Lesson One and what you can expect weekly….
 
—>> Unit I: Jesus Pleases the Father by His Works <<—
 
—-> LESSON 1 Scripture and Study Questions <—-
       Jesus’ Baptism — Mark 1:4-13
 
1. Why is Jesus a partaker in John’s baptism of repentence? Do you consider baptism a work?
2. The curriculum suggests John’s baptism and our own is different. Is this true? Elaborate.
3. Define and explain the concept of REPENTING? Is it still relevant for us?
4. (Bonus) What Old Testament ritual, practice or feast is associated with the concept of repenting.
 
[Note: On the attached, the second page of the Lesson 1- Exposition is missing. We will try to
send it to you before Wednesday.]

Lesson Two – Pleasing God

Peace and grace WORKERS in God’s vineyard —

Attached are the Lesson Two Bible Study exposition (pdf) and a puzzle (jpg).

 
Join us this Wednesday, March 8th (6:30pm). Please note the new start time
 
For the next few months we will challenge ourselves with the Union Gospel Press curriculum and material theme:
PLEASING THE FATHER – The Example of Christ’s Works, Sacrifice and Teaching
 
Use the lesson exposition and a few study questions and ideas (below) to immerse yourself. You may use your own Bible and study enhancements. Come to the study and worship with a personal perspective and any questions that come to mind. Our Bible Study and Sunday School lessons are the same, hence our Sunday sermon message and thoughts will all be in sync. This should make for a very cohesive approach and good discussions about Pleasing God within our church.
 
Let me add, even if you don’t join in the weekly Wednesday night Bible Study, you should still read through the weekly scriptures, lesson text, and exposition to be prepared for Sunday service and worship. We will regard you as the “home schooled” people of the church and you will be fully aware of what is being taught and preached each week (smile). Make it easy by choosing a specific night each week to do your lesson, as we will try to send the new lesson every Monday.
 
Here is Lesson Two and an idea of what you can expect weekly….
 
—>> Unit I: Jesus Pleases the Father by His Works <<—
 
—-> LESSON 2 Scriptures and Study Questions <—-
       Overcoming Temptation —
       Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13; Hebrews 2:16-18
 
1. Read the scripture lesson in Matthew and Luke’s gospel.  What differences do you see? How do you feel about them?
2. In general terms, how does Satan tempt Jesus? Does he use the same tactics in tempting us? Elaborate.
3. In resisting temptations and sin, how important is the Word of God? What other means of help can we call on?
4. Does the power that Satan has on the earth surprise you? Have you thought about this to any extent before now?
5. (Bonus) An age old question has always been debated because Jesus is both fully divine and fully human.
Read James 1:13-15 and Hebrews 2:16-18 and 4:14-16. Then, in your opinion answer the following:
     Does Jesus refrain from sin because ‘As God Himself, He simply cannot sin?
     Or, Does Jesus refrain from sin because, ‘As a full human, Jesus chose not to succumb after being genuinely tempted just like us?
 
Amb Ross
 
Peace and grace saints–
 
How did you make out answering the four (4) questions assigned from the Lesson booklet (pg 17)?
 
As promised, see the attached NOTES (pdf) and the Bible Study approach we will take to Lesson 3,
Pleasing God – Jesus Represents the Father (by doing the Father’s work).
 
We have seen Jesus work via ritual or sacrament (Baptism). We have seen His work is resisting temptation (fighting and resisting the enemy, Satan). Now we study and dialog concerning Jesus work in everyday living and His interactions with others (Kingdom work or Christian practice). Truly, if we call all of Christian living, A Practice in Righteousness, we should discuss what it means, what it looks like, and what is the end result. This is a very important lesson for today and the season we find ourselves in as a Church.
 
Read the scripture texts and work through the five (5) Questions on the attached in preparation for Wednesday (6:30pm) and this coming Sunday. We also pray that our discussions on this topic will benefit those teachers leading our youth in Sunday School.
 
Permitting things that fulfill all righteousness for now,
 
amb ross
 
Peace and grace saints–
 
We have been studying and preaching Pleasing the Father – Unit I: Jesus’ Example thru Works. We looked at Jesus’
  • Work in Rituals (Baptism, Holy Communion),
  • Work in Warfare (Fighting Temptation, Resisting the Devil), and
  • Work in Practice (Representing the Father, Participating in Ministry, Living the Faith).
 
Unit II is Jesus’ Example thru Sacrifice. Please read the attached Lesson 4 scripture (Matthew 26:36-50) and Exposition, and prepare answers to the following six (6) questions for our Wednesday (6:30pm) ZOOM Bible Study.
  1. Recall a time when you were sorrowful or deeply distressed about something about to happen.Did you have anyone close to you help or assist you in going through it?
  2. Have you ever prayed earnestly to God for a situation to have a different outcome than what occurred?Have you come to peace with the outcome although it wasn’t what you prayed?
  3. What are some practices when facing the reality that God’s will is different from your will in a matter?
  4. What do you make of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 26, verse 45 –“The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.”
  5. Describe who is in the mob found in Matthew 26, verse 47.
  6. How do you feel about Judas kissing Jesus to identify Him as the one to be accosted and arrested?
Permitting things that fulfill all righteousness for now,
 
amb ross
 
Blessings all–
 
we are in that panoramic part of scripture where Jesus goes from Palm Sunday to Good Friday. Many times in church lectionary, there is not sufficient time to deal with the fast moving scriptures for the six day period, hence the Maudy Thursday, Seder Meal Supper, Foot Washing, and Seven Last Words services have all become events that many churches hold to dig into the text. Our UGP curriculum lesson jumps right into the crucifixion and gives us an opportunity to deal with some truth in understanding what happened on the cross a week in advance of the events.  
 

Unit II is Jesus’ Example thru Sacrifice. Please read the attached Lesson 5 scripture (Matthew 27:38-54) and Exposition, Crucified for Sinners. We will discuss how suffering pleases God. Prepare answers to the following four (4) questions for our Wednesday (6:30pm) ZOOM Bible Study.

  1. What do you feel is the real motivation for the crowd going from praising Jesus with palms and singing, “Hosanna,” on one day and screaming “Crucify Him,” a week later?
  2. While Jesus is on the cross, what can be said of the people’s mood based on Matthew’s text (v39-49)?
  3. Read Matthew 27:50-54. In your own words, write down what is to be understood by the veil being split (top to bottom) and the graves opened with bodies of saints moving?
  4. Jesus gave His life for us physically and spiritually. While God has not asked us to die physically for the Kingdom, what should die spiritually in us as believers? Finish this sentence:Since becoming a Christian, in my spirit I have died to…                  a.                  b.                  c.
Permitting things that fulfill all righteousness for now,
 
amb ross
 
Peace and grace all–
 
we are in the period of the year considered HOLY WEEK, and what an appropriate Bible Study lesson for our consideration. We are continuing to understand what it means to Please God by carefully examining the lessons and teachings of Jesus our Savior, who pleased God in all He did (works) and sacrificed.
 

Unit II is Jesus’ Example thru Sacrifice. Please read the Lesson 6 scriptures (John 20:1-10, 19-20 and Ephesians 1:15-23) and the attached lesson exposition, Risen from the Dead! We will challenge the class to determine what sacrifice Jesus is making in this lesson. Prepare answers to the following five (5) questions for our Wednesday (6:30pm) ZOOM Bible Study encounter.

  1. Why does the Christian church worship on Sunday when the Biblical Sabbath is still Friday eve (sunset) thru Saturday?
  2. What do you feel about the entire tomb scene (ie rolled stone, cloths, head wrapping, missing body)?
  3. In John 20, verses 1 and 19, emphasis is made that it’s the First Day. If one still keeps God’s creation week of seven days intact, the Sunday after is considered the 8th day. Research and describe the phenomena of the 8th day? Can Christians be considered an 8th Day creation?
  4. What negates the conversation that Jesus’ body was simply stolen and there is no resurrection?What three things should all Christians have according to Paul’s letter, in Ephesians 1:18-19?
  5. What do you make of a resurrected Jesus saying, “Peace to you!” the first time He is seen by His followers who were thinking the worst?                  a.                  b.                  c.
 
 
 
Permitting things that fulfill all righteousness for now,
 
amb ross
 
Pleasing the Father – Jesus’ Example thru Works & Sacrifice:
  • Work in Rituals (Baptism, Holy Communion),
  • Work in Warfare (Fighting Temptation, Resisting the Devil), and
  • Work in Practice (Representing the Father, Participating in Ministry, Living the Faith)
  • Sacrifice in submission
  • Sacrifice in suffering

Spiritual Formation

Fall 2022

Spiritual Formation – Lesson0

Peace and grace all–

Ou Fall 2022 Bible Study on Spiritual Formation begins TOMORROW eve, Wednesday, Sep 14th (7pm). The study will be interactive and stream LIVE to via Zoom, Restream.io and Facebook. We will be able to field and answer chat questions from facebook Live this time. Below and attached is information to prepare you for the pre-study Lesson-0.

You should acquire a composition type notebook for this study. This will serve as your personal journal. Each week’s assignment will ask a few questions and you should write your answers and thoughts in your journal. When we get on the Zoom/Facebook meeting, you should be sharing from your journal writings. You can also jot down new questions you have and present them during the study.

Read the overview below and the Lesson-0 wording attached. Write in your journal what you understand about…

  1. where we are headed in this study,
  2. the Christian journey and spiritual formation in general, and
  3. if you AGREE or DISAGREE with statements on page 1 under the RED lettering.

Process of Becoming2 (Tang)

Peace and grace all–

Fall 2022 Bible Study on Spiritual Formation continues on Wednesday, Sep 21st (7pm). The interactive study will stream LIVE to via Zoom and Facebook. Below and attached is information to prepare you for the week2 lesson.

You should acquire a composition type notebook for this study. This will serve as your personal journal. Each week’s assignment will ask a few questions and you should write your answers and thoughts in your journal. When we get on the Zoom/Facebook meeting, you should be sharing from your journal writings. You can also jot down new questions you have and present them during the study.

Read the definitions of spiritual formation below and the Process of Becoming wording attached pdf.
Then read Colossians 3:8-14, to answer the following:

Write in your journal about…

  1. What do you feel about Calvin’s view on Spiritual Formation in the paper (attached pdf)?
  2. What consistency or difference do you see in what we discussed last week (Regent excerpt)?
  3. Do you AGREE or DISAGREE that Calvin’s teaching on process is consistent with what Paul is saying in Colossians 3?

———————————————————-
Differing Definitions for Spiritual Formation

  1. Used within the Catholic Church to denote the training of full-time ministers in both the academic arena and spiritual disciplines such as prayer, bible reading and fasting (Sheldrake, 2005).
  2. Some proponents of spiritual formation have expressed it as the practice of spiritual disciplines such as Lectio Divina where there is a strong emphasis on prayer, meditation, and contemplation on God’s word derived from the bible (Tang, 2014).
  3. Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) has defined spiritual formation as “the biblically guided process in which people are being transformed into the likeness of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit within the faith community in order to love and serve God and others” (CCCU, 2011, p. 13).
  4. Hull (2007) has equated spiritual formation as the same as discipleship but expressed in a modern term that will relate better with believers today.
  5. Willard distinguished discipleship as the decision to follow Jesus as an apprentice whereas “spiritual formation is the direct action of the Holy Spirit upon the inner person” (Hull, 2010).
  6. The group of 2009 spiritual formation leaders has defined spiritual formation as the “process of being shaped by the Holy Spirit into the likeness of Christ, filled with love for God and the world” (A Call to Spiritual Formation, 2009).
  7. Throop’s Five (5) Facets of Spiritual Formation: reflective reading, active repentance, total stewardship, penetrating prayer, and community accountability.

Amb Ross

SpiritualFormation_Syllabus

Pray you are living in the imago Dei–

Fall 2022 Bible Study on Spiritual Formation continues to week3. We will move this coming session ONLY to TUESDAY, Sep 27th (7pm), because of the Bishop’s town hall meeting via Zoom on this coming Wednesday. The interactive Bible study will stream LIVE to via Zoom and Facebook. Below and attached is information to prepare you for the week3 lesson.

On the attached Spiritual Formation syllabus (pdf), READ pages 25 thru 28 and complete the very short exercises:

  • Exercise 1 (page 25)
  • Exercise 2 (page 26)
  • Exercise 3 (page 27)
  • Exercise 4 (page 28)

Be ready to share YOUR answers to the four (4) short exercises while on the Zoom/Facebook meeting Tuesday.

Also, read the italicized instructions at the bottom of page 29 and make a spoke-like drawing (like the one on page 30) in your journal. Then evaluate yourself on a scale of 1-to-10 in each of the spiritual formation areas and construct YOUR very own wheel of balance! The specific areas include Holiness, Contemplative, Incarnational, Charismatic, Social Justice, and Evangelical.

Given the short turn-around to Tuesday, I wanted to send you this early,

Amb Ross

 
Blessings all–
 
This Wednesday, October 5th (7pm), we continue our Bible Study in Spiritual Formation. Attached is a short (pdf) reading on the Contemplative Tradition, our first of six (6) traditions that we will cover. Be ready to discuss the Contemplative Tradition as explained..
 
The scripture for our session is Mark14:32-36. Read the passage below (or in your Bible) and write in your journal concerning:
 
1. What impresses you the most about this passage?
2. Jesus asked God to “remove this cup” from Him– the cup symbolizing His destiny to die on the Cross. Why do you think He prayed this prayer?
3. Think of a moment in your life when you felt very close to God.
Can you describe the setting (what you were doing and your surroundings) as well as the experience?
 
———————————- read —————————-

The Prayer in the Garden

32 Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and horrified. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow[i] —to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.” 35 Then He went a little farther, fell to the ground, and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

Blessings all–
 
This Wednesday, October 12th (7pm), we continue our Bible Study in Spiritual Formation. Attached is a short (pdf) reading on the Holiness Tradition, our second of six (6) traditions that we will cover. Be ready to discuss the Holiness Tradition as explained..
 
The scripture for our session is Matthew 4:1-11. Read the passage below (or in your Bible) and write in your journal concerning:
 
1. Have you ever had someone tempt you with an offer that was hard to refuse? Describe the circumstances.
2. After reading the scripture text, why do you think Jesus did not yield to any of the temptations?
3. Do you know of an instance where disobeying God or yielding to the power of sin destroyed a person’s life?
4. outward actions and inward actions are a large teaching theme with Jesus. Do you understand the differences?
 
———————————- read —————————-

The Message Bible [Mathew 4:1-11]

1-3 Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.” Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” 5-6 For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.” Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.” 8-9 For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.” 10 Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.” 11 The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.

 
Blessings all–
 
This Wednesday, October 19th (7pm), we continue our Bible Study in Spiritual Formation. Attached is a short (pdf) reading on the Charismatic Tradition, our third of six (6) traditions that we will cover. Be ready to discuss the Charismatic Tradition as explained..
 
The scripture for our session is 
  • John 14:15-17 & 25-26
  • John 15:26-27
  • John 16:7-15Read the passages above and write in your journal concerning:
 
1. Have you ever had an advocate, someone who pleaded your case before an arbitrator or a referee– or a parent or teacher?
   What did the advocate do for you?
2. After reading the scripture texts, how do you understand the Holy Spirit’s work in your own life?
3. Which of the following best describes the work of the Spirit in your life? Explain?
    a. The Spirit has not been a major part of my spiritual life.
    b. I am beginning to see signs of the Spirit’s presence in my life.
    c. The Spirit has been an integral part of my spiritual life.
 
———————————- read —————————-

BONUS Question:  What do you make of this scripture from Acts 19?

 

Paul at Ephesus1It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. 2He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. 7There were in all about twelve men.

 
Blessings all–
 
This Wednesday, October 26th (7pm), we continue our Bible Study in Spiritual Formation. Attached is a short (pdf) reading on the Evangelical Tradition, our fourth of six (6) traditions that we will cover. Be ready to discuss the Evangelical Tradition as explained..
 
The scripture for our session is 
  • Luke 4:16-20a; 42-44 Read the passages above and write in your journal concerning:
 
1. How did you first become aware of the good news of the Kingdom of God?
   How was it proclaimed by a person or did you read it in the Bible?
2. What does Jesus’ word about “release of captives” mean to you?
3. What do you think of when people say evangelism?
    Can you expound on your definition and include written word, lived Word, and proclaimed or spoken Word?

Amb Ross

 
Peace and grace all–
 
This Wednesday, November 2nd (7pm), we CONCLUDE our Bible Study in Spiritual Formation. Attached is a short (pdf) reading on the Social Justice Tradition; 
also attached are extra exercises for all six (6) of the traditions, as promised. 
 
Our wrap-up lesson and discussion will combine the Incarnation and Social Justice Traditions and the scriptures and questions below should get you prepared:
 
The scriptures for our session are: 
  • Luke 10:13-17
  • Matthew 25:31-46Read the passages above and write in your journal concerning:
Incarnation questions
 
1. Did you ever feel guilty while doing work on a Sunday (or Easter or Christmas)?
2. How would you feel if a needy person came to the pastor for rent money while service was ongoing?
3. Have you ever looked at the everyday aspects of your life (i.e. cleaning the house, loving your spouse or kids, going to work, etc)
    as being important to God and spiritual in a sense?
4. How does it make you feel to think that God works through you to do His work in the world?
 
Social Justice questions…
 
1. Have you ever been “the stranger” in an environment? How did you feel?
2. After reading the Matthew scripture, who does the Bible call the least of these? Can you think of any additional?
3. What are some factors that keep us from getting involved in social justice activities?
 
   

Amb Ross

Galatians

Spring 2022

Peace and grace all–

The Letter to the Galatians is often called the Magna Cart of Christian liberty, as it deals with the age old question of whether a Gentile must become a Jew before he can become a Christian. Certain Judaizing teachers had infiltrated the churches of Galatia in central Asia Minor, which the Apostle Paul had founded. They claimed that in addition to faith in Jesus Christ, believers were also obligated to keep the Mosaic law. Paul’s letter is an attempt to set the record straight and show the church once and for all that faith is Jesus is the only requisite for full salvation.

Peace and grace all–

On last week in the first lesson, we established the problem the early church in Galatia faced, namely, religious legalism had been championed by certain Jewish converts to Christianity. They had convinced the Galatians that many of the Mosaic laws and traditions had to be followed for the people to be “true Christians.” It is not surprising that in our day almost every cult and distorted form of religion involves some type of legalism. Even within the major Christian churches, there is always the danger that we will substitute our own requirements for God’s way of redemption.Paul took offense to this and penned the letter that strongly argues against all false gospels. He begins his argument with an appeal through his personal history (Chapters 1-2), an appeal through doctrinal or theological considerations (Chapters 3-4, and finally an appeal by a challenge to spiritual living (Chapters 5-6). We pick up where we left off last week, chapter 1 verses 11-12 and go to the end of the chapter 1. See if you can identify with anything Paul reveals about his own conversion and introduction to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 Galatians – Week3Peace and grace all–Last night, Wednesday, Jan 26th, (7pm), we shared in Lesson 3 of the Galatians study. See the attached Lesson 3 study notes and map of the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys and trip to Rome.Feel free to revisit the Zoom meeting of the lesson on our church FaceBook page.https://www.facebook.com/DiscipleshipAdventure/videos/2690090574620959Amb Ross https://strawbridgeumc.org/live

Galatians – Week5

Peace and grace all–

On last week in the fourth lesson, the Apostles Paul and Peter meet in Antioch and a public confrontation ensues. Paul accuses Peter of being a hypocrite and confusing others (like Barnabas) because Peter first participated in full fellowship with Gentile converts and only pulled back after friends of James came to town and instigated. Peter appeared to have been more afraid of the Circumcision Party than protecting the truth of the gospel. We learn that Christian leadership can be in error and gravely lead others to errors as well. Paul goes on to show that our salvation is built on two principles, justification and faith.

Justification is the ability to be made right (or righteous) by one who is the Judge. Faith is then the belief that justification is made possible and available, and knowing that it comes only on account of Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith and propitiation for our sins. In this lesson, we dig deeper and explore the opposite of justifying faith, works of the law or the “works” gospel.

See the attached notes (pdf) for TONIGHT’S encounter.

Peace and grace all–

Tonight we venture into Chapter 3 of Galatians, and we warn some of you, this is some of the most radical theology Christianity has to offer.
While you know well how Jesus died, do you recall the reason He was put to death? I challenge you to research how the following pioneers of the faith were subsequently put to death:
John the Baptist
Peter
Paul
John the disciple
James
If you thought this gospel message and faith of ours came easy, your eyes will be widened in tonight’s study. The sixty verses of Galatians 3 and 4 are some of the strongest writing Paul ever penned. My description of it (and message on Sunday) will call it “gangster.” Paul was in a battle to prove salvation is by GRACE ALONE, and not by works of the Law. The Apostle is no amateur when it comes to debate and uses six different arguments to prove that God saves sinners through faith in Christ and not by human effort through works. Here is the scripture argument category breakdown:
personal argument – Galatians 3:1-5
scriptural argument – 3:6-14
logical argument – 3:15-29
historical argument – 4:1-11
sentimental argument – 4:12-18
allegorical argument – 4:19-31
Examining these critical scriptural text gives us clarity for Jesus’ response in Luke 18:26-27, when He was asked “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus responded, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Join us in the study and let’s together fully understand this Radical Provocation: Justification by Faith Alone!

Blessings students of the Bible–

see the links below for two short videos on Galatians. We are halfway through our winter Bible study and we want to make certain we are on the same page concerning this important epistle. The videos give further insight into the purpose of the letter and our correct handling of the primary message:
Justification from God by faith in Jesus Christ alone. After viewing each, please feel free to let me know if these items were helpful to you and our study.

1. The Galatians Effect

2. Galatians – #BibleProject

Amb Ross
https://strawbridgeumc.org/live

Galatians – Week8

Peace and grace all–

TODAY is ASH WEDNESDAY and our SEASON of LENT 2022 begins!

We invite you to share in the 5 minute ceremony and imposition of ashes at 7pm tonight. Each of us will apply the ashes at the beginning of Bible Study, streamed live via Zoom and Facebook. The scripture text for the imposition of ashes is Joel 2:1-2 and 12-17.

Ash Wednesday Observance:
Prepare the ashes ahead of time by completely burning either a piece of the palm from last year, a small piece of paper, dead leaf, or a stick match. Burn the item completely in a small glass bowl and pulverize or crush the remaining black ash. Finally, add a few drops of olive or other oil and mix to make a slurry.

Tonight as we gather, apply the ash in the shape of the cross to either your forehead or back of your hand with a finger or Q-tip. Do this for all members in your household. Even if you do not join us on the media platforms, you may participate with your family in the Ash Wednesday observance at 7pm. Simply read the scripture aloud, Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; offer a short prayer and apply the ashes saying,
“from dust I came, and to dust I return as my spirit is set free.”

Bible Study – Galatians chapter 4:
See the attached notes (2 pdf files) for last week and tonight’s study. We are in week 8 and will study the entire chapter 4 tonight.
The Apostle Paul makes his final arguments for justification by faith in Jesus Christ alone!

Join us in the study as we begin the Lenten season.

GospelTruth_compared

Peace and grace all–

TODAY is ASH WEDNESDAY and our SEASON of LENT 2022 begins!

We invite you to share in the 5 minute ceremony and imposition of ashes at 7pm tonight. Each of us will apply the ashes at the beginning of Bible Study, streamed live via Zoom and Facebook. The scripture text for the imposition of ashes is Joel 2:1-2 and 12-17.

Ash Wednesday Observance:
Prepare the ashes ahead of time by completely burning either a piece of the palm from last year, a small piece of paper, dead leaf, or a stick match. Burn the item completely in a small glass bowl and pulverize or crush the remaining black ash. Finally, add a few drops of olive or other oil and mix to make a slurry.

Tonight as we gather, apply the ash in the shape of the cross to either your forehead or back of your hand with a finger or Q-tip. Do this for all members in your household. Even if you do not join us on the media platforms, you may participate with your family in the Ash Wednesday observance at 7pm. Simply read the scripture aloud, Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; offer a short prayer and apply the ashes saying,
“from dust I came, and to dust I return as my spirit is set free.”

Bible Study – Galatians chapter 4:
See the attached notes (2 pdf files) for last week and tonight’s study. We are in week 8 and will study the entire chapter 4 tonight.
The Apostle Paul makes his final arguments for justification by faith in Jesus Christ alone!

Join us in the study as we begin the Lenten season.

Gal_chptr5a

Gal_chptr5b

Happy Thursday all–

Given, Chapter 5 of Galatians is a good summary of the entire book, and in chapter 5, the Apostle Paul makes the turning point of discussing Saving Faith and Living Faith, I wanted you to have some commentary on this all important chapter. The two(2) pdf files attached are from The Message of Galatians (revised edition, IVP 2020) by John R W Stott. The markings in the pdf are my personal emphasis and notes and indicate how I prepare for Bible study and sermons. For readability, the pdf files can be enlarged to your preference via computer, tablet or phone.

Be encouraged,

amb

Peace and grace all–
this message serves as a gentle reminder that our study of the book of Galatians did end on last Wednesday. I didn’t want for any of you to be sitting on Zoom or Facebook waiting for the study to begin later this eve. We will take a short break before beginning another study.

That said, I awoke this morning to a Joyce Meyer event on TV and she was confirming what we learned in the final two weeks of studying Galatians. She explains in her own way how the Spirit in us should take control of our living and thinking. I don’t often listen to Joyce but this teaching is dead on. She explains that salvation in Christ is separate from living in Christ and uses some personal examples to encourage us. Please take a listen and let me know what you think. On her website, it is the show for today (Mar 23rd).

https://joycemeyer.org/todaysshow

Be blessed and RUN WELL,

amb

The Ark of the Covenant

Fall 2021

Ark of the Covenant – Overview

Ark of the Covenant – syllabus

Peace and grace saints–On next Wednesday, September 15th (7pm), we begin our Fall Bible Study on the Ark of the Covenant, also in scripture called the Ark of the Testimony. We will uncover what Almighty God intended when he instructed Moses and the Israelites to build this spiritual vessel and what it means concerning Christ and us, the Kingdom of God.As always, we want for you to be thoroughly prepared and ready to dig in to the scriptures. For that purpose, attached is a short summary (pdf) of some things you need to know concerning the Ark of the Covenant. Read through it and jot down any questions or thoughts you would like to share as we study. The study will be accessible via ZOOM and FaceBook.

Peace and grace all–Our week 2 lesson for Fall Bible Study is tomorrow Wednesday, Sep 22nd (7pm) via Zoom and Facebook.In last week’s lesson we covered overview information about the Ark of the Covenant and also delved into details as described in the Book of Exodus chapters 25 and 31. The take home or preacher’s message for last week should ensure you know these facts:

  • God desires to come and meet His covenant people and tabernacle with them via sanctuary
  • The single thing preventing this Holy convocation is humankind’s SIN
  • God gives Moses detailed instructions in how His desire can be achieved and they have to be followed exactly
  • To build the sanctuary where God will dwell amongst us requires an offering, but only from WILLING givers
  • The specific things that make up the offering are treasures and will be used to make the tabernacle and all it’s furnishings
  • God also instructs Moses to appoint Bezalel, of the tribe of Judah, to craft and build the sacred items
  • The Ark of the Covenant will serve as the actual meeting place and the glory of the Lord will be over it
  • The testimony or commandments of the Lord will reside inside the Ark of the Covenant
  • The lid of Ark of the Testimony will be made of pure gold, with two cheribum facing each other and a mercy seat is between them
  • very careful instructions concerning this Ark’s building, transport and placement must be strictly followed

This weeks lesson has us focusing on Exodus chapters 35, 36 and 40. In your reading, you should first determine if Moses does everything God instructs. You should also begin to understand the things that are required for God to dwell amongst us and their spatial juxtaposition. The following terms and items should be so clear to you that you can visualize them. There are many pictures and artist renditions of these items on the internet and in your Study Bibles. Take a look and compare what you see to your own church or worship facility. Write down how much we still have in common and what things have been replaced. The list of items and terms in no particular order are:

  1. The Tabernacle
  2. The Tent of Meeting
  3. The Ark of the Lord
  4. The Table
  5. The Lampstand
  6. The Altar of Incense
  7. The Bronze Altar
  8. The Basin
  9. The Courtyard
  10. The Garments for Aaron
  11. The Holy of Holies
  12. The Curtain or Veil
  13. The Cloud by Day and Fire by Night

This may appear to be a lot, but a picture is really worth a thousand words. Find and study a few pictures and it will make sense and be easily visualized. Next week in preparing for Worldwide Communion Sunday, we will go to the Book of Leviticus and look another set of Offerings that get offered in the tabernacle [Burnt, Grain, Fellowship or Peace, Sin & Guilt Offerings]. We will also see the penalty for not presenting an offering as God desires. (Leviticus chapters 10 and 16).

Peace and grace all–

Our week 3 lesson for Fall Bible Study is tonight Wednesday, Sep 29th (7pm) via Zoom and Facebook.In last week’s lesson we covered the arrangement of items in the Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) and the courtyard. We preached on the strategic plan of God in making this “arrangement” the blueprint for how salvation for all would come to the earth and also, how we can obtain the same salvation by willingly walking thru the “Gate,” going thru each item and being presented in the Holy of Holies before God. To recap, here are the items again (Exodus 40)

  • The Ark of the Covenant – God sends His only begotten to earth
  • The Veil – Jesus went amongst His own and they knew Him not
  • The Incense Altar – Jesus was in constant communication with the Father (not My will, but Thy will be done)
  • The Lampstand – Jesus is the Light of the World
  • The Table of Showbread – Jesus is the Living Bread and the Word made flesh, a Life-Giving food
  • The Lavar or Bronze Basin – Jesus is the Living Water; one is re-born of water and Spirit
  • The Altar of Sacrifice – Jesus laid down His life as the sacrificial Lamb to atone for humankind’s sin
  • The Gate or Door – Resurrected Jesus is now the Way to access the Father; Jesus is the Door

By traversing these items in reverse, we realize and live in the free salvation offered to us thru Jesus. 1) We come in at the Door (Jesus), 2) we lay down our own way of living and thinking on God’s altar (self-sacrifice), 3) we are baptized via water as an outward sign of regeneration and we accept the Living Water that is Christ, 4) we eat of His body (bread) and drink of His blood (vine) and take the Word into the world as He instructs all disciples to do, 5) we become His light in the world and are called Salt and Light to the nations, 6) we learn to communicate with the Father (pray without ceasing) and meditate in the Word to learn His will for us, and 7) Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross rips the Veil from top to bottom [that is, we know Jesus’ true identity – Colossians Chptr 1], and 8) like the Cloud over the Ark, the Spirit of the Living God (Holy Spirit) rest on us, speaks, teaches, comforts and guides us in this life and into the next.Bless the LORD, YOU GOT IT!For tonight, we are going to see the danger of approaching this Ark of the Covenant in a way God did not intend and we will see how the forgiveness of sin (atonement) requires blood be applied or sprinkled on the MERCY SEAT. Read Leviticus 10:1-7 and chapter 16.Pay strict attention to how often the atonement sacrifice is made, what is the procedure and what on earth is the meaning of Azazel. On this coming WORLD COMMUNION SUNDAY, all these things will be part of the message.

 
Grace and Blessings all–let’s keep this idea and theme of Model versus the Real Thing going as we continue our pursuit of understanding all things: Ark of the Covenant or Ark of the Testimony of God.Returning to some definitions for the Ark (n. ark, box, chest), we have the following:-> a box for carrying something, [i.e. the dead, a coffin (Gen 50:26) or money chest (2 Ki 12:10)]-> the chest in which stone tablets of the 10 Commandments, the “Testimony,” are placed (Ex 25:16, 40:3, 20);
made by a craftsman from the tribe of Judah (Bezalel, Ex 37:1), covered with a gold mercy seat between two (2)
stationed cheribum, where God’s presence will manifest itself and He will commune with His people.-> the Ark is placed in the tabernacle’s Most Holy Place, behind the inner veil (Ex 26:33-34) and is anointed by Moses
(Ex 30:26); it is the place where sacrificial blood of atonement is applied and forgiveness is granted (Lev 16);
-> the Ark has rings into which poles are inserted so that it can be carried without being touched (Ex 35:12).
-> the Ark is oblong and made of shittim (acacia) wood, overlaid within and without with gold.Then, during last week’s study, we came to a revelation: Maybe the ARK is symbolic of the new covenant people of God
(i.e., us, the individual people of God in the last age).With all these things in mind, and knowing Christ’s atoning work and entrance in the real, heavenly tabernacle, once and for all,
let us follow the model, Ark of the Covenant and see what fresh revelation we learn about our faith walk and potential in different

situations and settings.Read the following scriptures and make notes concerning any BIG PICTURE ideas you get–

  • Numbers 3:1-4 and 11-13 (understand the ordinance of Levites and Firstborn)
  • Numbers 4:4-6 (preparing the Ark for movement and travel)
  • Numbers 7:89 (the Lord speaks from His Ark)
  • Numbers 9:15-23 & 10:11-13, 33-36 (the Ark was not to move unless the Lord moved)
  • Numbers 14:36-45 (fool-heartedness of going into battle without the Ark)
  • Numbers 17 (God establishes the Levites as caretakers of the Holy Place).

Until we meet…

Priestly greetings all–

In last week’s study in the Book of Numbers, we saw how the Ark of the Covenant was to be made mobile. The levitical priests had to first cover it with the veil that separated the Holy of holies and shoulder the Ark via the poles during transport. They only moved when the pillar of cloud (symbolizing God’s presence) was taken up and moved. When the pillar of cloud rested, the nation rested and the tabernacle was set up again. They left the foot of Mt Sinai and continued on the journey towards the land God promised Abraham, a land flowing with milk and honey.Twelve spies were sent into the Promised Land and asked to bring back fruit from the land and a report concerning the inhabitants. Ten spies gave a bad report, while two (Joshua and Caleb) testified that everything the Lord had spoken was true and the land could be immediately taken and occupied. The people believed the ten and begin to complain to Moses; they longed to return to Egypt and slavery, fearing they had been led into the wilderness to die. After the ten were struck down by the Lord, the people foolishly tried to take the inhabitants of the Promised Land by force and failed miserably. Neither Moses nor the Ark went with them on this fool-hearted escapade. The resulting punishment from God was they wandered in the desert 40 years until all the adults who came out of Egypt and passed through the Red Sea had died (including Moses); Caleb and Joshua were spared. The mantle of leadership was passed to Joshua and they are now poised again to enter the Promised Land.Exercise–1. Read Joshua 1:1-11    a. What do you learn from this text?    b. What book is being spoken of in verse 8?2. Read Joshua chapter 3 and chapter 4:9-11 & v14-24    a. What amazing powers are given to those carrying the Ark?    b. Do you feel you have the power to stop ‘troubled waters?’ Why or why not?    c. Read Joshua 5:1 Do you feel people outside the church fear God’s people?3. Read Joshua 6:1-20    a. What is different about the arrangement concerning the Ark?    b. Describe the transfer of the power of God in these text.    c. Is there a fortified stronghold or thing in your life (or your family’s) where you need the wall removed?    d. Given the new found revelation of God in you, what do you propose to do about the obstacle?

ArkofCovenant – Week7

Greetings carriers of God’s covenant —

In last week’s study in the Book of Joshua, we saw the passing of the leadership mantle from Moses to Joshua and we witnessed the power of God passing to those carrying the Ark of the Covenant. This was no accident, but Almighty design and begins to display a pattern with God. His power and conversation was first with His servant Moses and passed to the Levitical priests; similarly His anointing and power was with His only Son, Yeshua (translated Jesus), before being passed to His church, a royal priesthood. Not incidentally, that means YOU and me.While carrying the Ark, the priests were able to stop the waters of the Jordan (Josh 3-5), defeat the massive wall around Jericho (Josh 6) and take the land God promised by conquering foes and inhabiting the land (Josh 7-22). In Joshua 23 and 24, the new leader begins giving his farewell address, dies, and is buried in Ephraim. In chapter 18 of the book, we hear the last mention of the Ark of the Covenant (for a while at least) as we are told it resides in Shiloh. Joshua 18:1 reads, the entire Israelite community assembled at Shiloh and set up the Tent of Meeting there; the land had been subdued by them.God is now shifting again and will appoint leaders for the nation called judges and kings. Just to be clear, the leadership for this nation has been a founding father (Abraham), forefathers (Isaac, Jacob), prophets (Moses), priests (Aaron and Levites) and (now) judges and kings — all roles and titles we will ultimately realize in Christ Jesus. The name of the place, Shiloh, is interesting because the Hebrew word is used as the title for Messiah (Gen 49:10). This now is the site of Israel’s early sanctuary and the Ark is only mentioned once in Judges 20:27, as Israel consults with it to fight there cousins, the Benjaminites. Hitherto, our study will pick up in the Book of 1st Samuel.EXERCISE for Preparation–1. Read Deuteronomy 10:1-5    a. Based on what you know, what troubles you concerning all you read in this text?    b. Given what you learned from the JEPD Theory, how can your concerns about the text be eased?2. Read 1 Samuel 2:12-14, 22-24 & 27-35; also 3:1 & 19-21    a. What nationality is Eli, Hophni and Phineas?    b. What nationality is Samuel? What is odd about v21, the Lord revealing Himself to Samuel?    c. [*Bonus question] Base on the authors of JEPD, which type of writing is this? (J, Yahwist; E, Elohist; P, Priestly)3. Read 1 Samuel chapters 4, 5 and 6    a. Look at the attached map and locate Shiloh and Philistia.    b. The Israelites took the Ark of the Covenant into battle. Why did they suffer a horrible defeat?    c. Did God make good on His promise to Eli and his family from chapter 2?    c. What do you discern is the plight for non-covenant people possessing the Ark of God’s Testimony?    d. How long did it take the Philistines to surmise they should return the Ark to it’s owners? What is seven?    e. What do you make of their idea for an offering and manner of return in 6:4-9?

Greetings God’s representation in all the earth —

In last week’s study in the book of 1 Samuel, we saw the passing of the leadership mantle from Eli to Samuel (both of whom served as priest, judge and prophet) and we witnessed the glory of God dissipating over the Ark of the Covenant because of the desecration of the sacrament and offering by the servant priests, Hophni and Phineas. The resulting outcome was the Ark of the Covenant was captured (by a non-covenant people) and Hophni and Phineas perished at the hand of God.The Ark in enemy hands did not work out for those who captured it, as their cities were plagued with diseased rats and the people (mostly men) suffered tumors and death. Ultimately, they returned God’s Ark to the rightful owners and returned it with an offering. Whenever the enemy takes advantage of us, God demands our freedom and it must come with reward and increase granted us [note the similarities in how Israel left Egypt]. The Ark of God was in Shiloh and after capture and return, it remained for more than 20 years at Kiriath-Jearim in the custody of the priest, Eleazer. The nation Israel have moved from judges as leaders and now have kings. Saul the Benjaminite was the first king (chosen by the people) and David is the second (hand-picked by Yahweh). The issue of the Ark is revisited under David’s reign.This week we look at scriptures in 2 Samuel 5, 6 and 7, and 1 Chronicles 13-17, that divulge more Ark revelation. Read the following excerpts from scripture and answer the questions for discussion:EXERCISE for Preparation–1. Read 2 Samuel 5:1-12    a. In verses 4-5, David’s reign is defined by years. Do these numbers make you think of anything else in our faith?    b. Note the names of the places David conquers. What different names are given to the area occupied by Jebusites?    c. In verses 10-12, what are we told is a hallmark of King David?2. Read 2 Samuel 6:1-23 and 7:1-17    a. What huge mistake does King David make in moving the Ark of the Covenant? What event shows God’s anger?    b. What reason is given for the death of Uzzah? Do you feel this was fair?
        Can you understand how poor or errant leadership can set one up for failure?    c. After the event of God’s anger, where does King David send the Ark? What happens there?    d. As the Ark was heading to the capital city, what is David’s wife, Michal’s disposition? Why do you suppose this is so?    e. In chapter 7, what does King David purpose to do with the Ark? What does the prophet Nathan tell the king?    f. Why do you suppose some commentators believe verses 11b-16 speak of Jesus Christ?3. Read 1 Chronicles chapters 13, 15:1-15, 25-29; 16:1-6 and 17:1-15    a. What major differences do you find in this set of scriptures?    b. [* Based on your JEPD understanding, which tradition is the 2 Samuel text versus the 1 Chronicles text?]    c. [* How do the verses in 17:10b-14 (again, who commentators say refer to Christ) read different?]

Peace and grace all —

 

You made it to the final lesson in our fall Bible Study where we took up the task of learning and following the Ark of the Covenant, the sole object of God’s presence in the earth during the time of the Old Testament nation, Israel. Last week with King David’s help, we discovered “the ark is called by the Name, the name of the Lord of Hosts who dwells between the cheribum.” [2 Samuel 6:2] King David was the anointed leader of the single nation who God made covenant with to make him an “everlasting kingdom.” The joy for us is, through David’s seed (or offspring), the Messiah would come and God’s glory would never again depart from Him. David had many characteristics and attributes that elude to Christ, namely being born in Bethlehem, of the tribe of Judah, anointed King, age 30 when ministry begins and crowning achievement is to get the Ark called by the Name into the City of Zion, a city of Shalom (His peace). Jesus fulfilled all these things in His birth, earthly ministry, sacramental death on the cross, resurrection, appearance 40 days and ascension into heaven. He now sits in the Holy of holies at the right hand of God, interceding for those He came to save.Our final lesson will trace the last OT scriptures that speak on the Ark and a few others that will give us a clue as to what became of it after the single nation (Israel) split into two (Israel & Judah) and ultimately went into exile in both Assyria and Babylon. The nation Judah ended up (after Babylonian exile and Medo-Persian reign) returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding the temple (Ezra), wall (Nehemiah) and nation state. Sadly, the coveted Ark was not part of this rebuild and the nation went some 400 years before the covenant promise to David was realized in the birth of Christ. The world had changed drastically of course, and Rome became the dominant national force in the area. The New Testament began and the words reminding us of the two sacred covenants are telling: “The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.”This week we look at scriptures in 1 Kings 5:1-5; 6:1-28 & 37-38; 8:1-13; and 14:21-31. Read the following excerpts from scripture and answer the questions for discussion:EXERCISE for Preparation–1. Read 1 Kings 5:1-5 and 6:1-28, 37, 38    a. Who becomes king of the single nation after King David?    b. What new thing do we learn about why David was not allowed to build God an earthly house?    c. Note some differences between the temple and the Tent of Meeting?    d. Is there a place in the temple called the Holy of holies? What is it called and what does it look like?    e. [*How long does it take to build the temple?]2. Read 1 Kings 8:1-13    a. [*When does the dedication of the temple take place?]    b. What is inside the Ark? How many animal are sacrificed?    c. Read verse 7 — Can you draw a picture of this?    d. What comes to mind when you read verses 10-11?    e. (Extra credit: Pray Solomon’s prayer 8:23-30 over yourself once a day until Sunday, Nov 14)3. Read 1 Kings 14:21-31    a. In this text, the kingdom is now divided: Jeroboam is Israel’s king and Rehoboam is Judah’s.        What event do you recall concerning David is the reason for the divided kingdom?    b. Name the grievous sins the Kingdom of Judah commit?    c. Who does the Lord raise up to attack Judah as punishment?    d. In addition to the Ark, what do we learn is kept in the temple as “treasuries?” (see 1 Kings 7:48-51)    e. [* What does 1 Kings 14:25-26 tell us Shishak takes from Jerusalem?]    f. Given what he took, do you think Shishak would leave anything as beautiful and mobile as the ark?   g. One location for the Ark today is a small church in Ethiopia. Is this plausible based on what we read?

ArkofCovenant – Week9

Thank you all much for a great fall Bible Study on the Ark of the Covenant. In nine short weeks, we covered a lot of scriptural territory and discovered a lot about our God and ourselves. Attached are the final notes from lesson 9 and below is a short (10 min) video that encapsulates the Garden of Eden, the Tent of Meeting and the Temple built by King Solomon. The video is nicely done and will give you a visual while explaining many of the things we covered in the study on the Ark. Of course, it all points to Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

The Book of Habakkuk

Spring 2021

 
Peace and grace all,
 
our Spring Bible Study via ZOOM and Facebook begins tomorrow evening, Wednesday, April 17th (7pm). We are excited to see where the Spirit of the Lord leads us as we tackle the prophetic writing of Habakkuk. The study guide is a pdf sent last week and attached again for convenience. Please prepare by reading pages 6 thru 8 covering the topics:
  • The role of a Prophet
  • The prophet Habakkuk
  • The History

Again, remember that the study guide is meant to be printed landscape and double-sided; therefore, one has to zig-zag down the screen to follow correctly on a computer, phone or tablet, or simply follow the page numbers in the document. Also, see the attached picture. In Lesson 1, we will discuss the role of a prophet and the history of Israel while making certain you understand the layout of the Old Testament, the chronology of the history and know to whom each prophet was speaking. While you don’t necessarily have to remember all this information, you should easily be able to have a reference and be able to tie simple things together to enhance your understanding of Old Testament scripture.

 
Focus your attention on answering the following questions:
  1. What makes Habakkuk a prophet?
  2. What time period did he prophecy?
  3. What is the status of the Israelite nation when Habakkuk speaks?
Blessings all–
this Wednesday, April 24th is the second lesson in the study of Habakkuk. In preparing, I want you to read for yourself what is happening in the Southern Kingdom of Judah during Habakkuk’s time. Read the following and write down your answers. For each king (beginning with Manasseh), write what you see as:
  1. The major crime against God committed?
  2. The gist of the message or punishment God sends given the king’s actions?
  3. Do you feel the punishment fits the crime?

Answer the questions above for each of these persons:

  • King Manasseh – 2 Kings 21:1-18
  • King Amon – 2 Kings 21:19-26
  • King Josiah – 2 Kings chapters 22 & 23
  • King Jehoahaz – 2 Kings 23:30-34
  • King Jehoiakim (aka Eliakim) – 2 Kings 23:34 thru 24:6
  • King Jehoiachin – 2 Kings 24:6-17 [imprisoned in Babylon]
  • King Zedekiah (aka Mattaniah) – 2 Kings 24:17 thru 25:7 [gouged out his eyes, taken to Babylon]

This may seem like a lot, but it reads quickly and is meant to put you in the mindset of the prophet before he speaks to God.

 
Finally, for your pleasure, attached is one more graphic chronological timeline of the Prophets and the Kings.
Peace and grace all–
this Wednesday, April 28th is the third lesson in the study of Habakkuk. Please read the following a couple time to make certain you can understand. Sometimes, to help our understanding, we retell what was said out loud to ourselves and/or others:
 
 
Reading 1: Jeremiah 29:1-19
  • What specifically is the prophet Jeremiah telling the Babylonian exiles to do?
  • To whom is he telling them not to listen?
  • What promise from God does Jeremiah give the exiles if they do as he says?
Reading 2: Habakkuk 1:1-4
  • Name three (3) of the prophet Habakkuk’s complaints to God?
  • Do you feel the prophet’s complaint is a prayer?
  • What reason does the prophet give for why justice never prevails?
 
 
See you on Wednesday as I pray you have changed from your prison garments!
Peace and grace all–
this Wednesday, May 5th is our 4th lesson in the study of Habakkuk.
For preparation, read the following scriptures and write your own answers to the questions:
 
 
Reading 1: Psalm 24:1-2 and 1 Corinthians 10:23-26
  • What is the context of the two scriptures? Are they different or the same?
  • What do the Old and New Testament Bible teach us about God’s sovereignty?
  • Do you feel someone can do whatever they wish with what they rightly own?
Reading 2: Zephaniah 1:1-7a
  • Why do you suppose you were asked to read this text?
  • In verses 4 & 5, to whom is God’s anger directed?
Reading 3: Habakkuk 1:5-11
  • Do you feel God is speaking directly to our day in verse 5? Explain your answer?
  • Write down three (3) things that God reveals about the Chaldeans (Babylonians)?
 
 
Extra Credit— Reread the scripture about Abraham and his father Terah (Genesis 11:24-32).
What do you find absolutely amazing about this text and what we are studying?
(Note: a prize may be given to you for the correct answer here)
Blessings all–
this Wednesday, May 12th is our 5th lesson in the study of Habakkuk. We want to introduce a word or term that is essential for Christians to know and understand (to the degree it is possible). In last week’s online notes, I began writing a statement that I purposely did not finish. The statement read, “The primary reason [or instigator] for God’s [intervening in human affairs with] wrath is…”
 
The bracketed words are aded for clarity as we fill in the blank and complete the statement. The word or term we will investigate thoroughly is apostasy and apostate. We will give a brief definition of the term and a few scriptures where God’s wrath is on full display. Your job and homework in preparing for Wednesday is to determine if there is a connection, a clear pattern, and a prophecy concerning the Church age and the Second Coming of Christ. For preparation, read the following text and scriptures; also, write your own answers to the questions:
 
Wikipedia definition of Apostasy–
Apostasy (/əˈpɒstəsi/Greekἀποστασία apostasía, “a defection or revolt“) is the formal disaffiliation from, abandonment of, or renunciation of a religion by a person. It can also be defined within the broader context of embracing an opinion that is contrary to one’s previous religious beliefs. One who undertakes apostasy is known as an apostate. Undertaking apostasy is called apostatizing (or apostasizing – also spelled apostacizing). The term apostasy is used by sociologists to mean the renunciation and criticism of, or opposition to, a person’s former religion, in a technical sense, with no pejorative connotation. Occasionally, the term is also used metaphorically to refer to the renunciation of a non-religious belief or cause, such as a political party, social movement, or sports team.
 
Apostasy is generally not a self-definition: few former believers call themselves apostates due to the term’s negative connotation. Many religious groups and some states punish apostates; this may be the official policy of a particular religious group or it may simply be the voluntary action of its members. Such punishments may include shunningexcommunicationverbal abuse, physical violence, or even execution.
 
 
Reading 1: Why God sent the flood in Noah’s day – Genesis 6:5-8
  • According to God, what was the disposition of mankind? Is this apostasy?
  • What is the punishment God sends?
Reading 2: Why God removed the Northern Kingdom, Israel  – 2 Kings 17:7-20
  • What is the disposition of those in the Northern Kingdom? Is this apostasy?
  • What is the punishment God sends?
Reading 3: What is paradoxical for the prophet about God raising up Chaldeans
                 Habakkuk 1:12 thru 2:1
  • What is the prophet’s confusion about the Holy God? (verses 12-13)
  • Does the prophet accuse God of rewarding the wicked? (verses 14-17)
 
 
Extra Credit— The New Testament speaks of a coming Day of judgment and wrath of God (2 Thessalonians 1:3-12). In chapter 2 of the same book, mention is made of an apostasy that must occur prior to the Day (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 and 2 Peter 2:1-3). Do you believe (as some do) that the apostasy already happened during the time Protestants rejected and split from the Roman Catholic church or do you believe their is yet another apostasy of the church that is to come (maybe in our time)?
 
Again, for your pleasure, here are some Wikipedia notes on the “Great Apostasy:”
 

The Great Apostasy is a concept within Christianity, identifiable at least from the time of the Reformation, to describe a perception that the early apostolic Church has fallen away from the original faith founded by Jesus and promulgated through his twelve ApostlesProtestants used the term to describe the perceived fallen state of traditional Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic Church, because they claim it changed the doctrines of the early church and allowed traditional Greco-Roman culture (i.e.Greco-Roman mysteries, deities of solar monism such as Mithras and Sol Invictuspagan festivals and Mithraic sun worship and idol worship) into the church on its own perception of authority. Because it made these changes using claims of tradition and not from scripture, the Church – in the opinion of those adhering to this concept – has fallen into apostasy. A major thread of this perception is the suggestion that, to attract and convert people to Christianity, the church in Rome incorporated pagan beliefs and practices within the Christian religion, mostly Graeco-Roman rituals, mysteries, and festivals. For example, Easter has been described as a pagan substitute for the Jewish Passover, although neither Jesus nor his Apostles enjoined the keeping of this or any other festival.

The term is derived from the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, in which the Apostle Paul informs the Christians of Thessalonica that a great apostasy must occur before the return of Christ, when “the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction” (chapter 2:1–12). The Catholic ChurchAnglican ChurchEastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches have interpreted this chapter as referring to a future falling-away, during the reign of the Antichrist at the end of time.

Peace and grace saints of God–
this Wednesday, May 19th is our 6th lesson in the study of Habakkuk. As we look at God’s response to the prophet’s second set of inquiries, we also want to dig deeper into understanding the way of God in the environment of apostasy. A sermon theme for this study may be called: A Deluge of Delusion.
 
Our goal up to now was threefold: 1) declare and show scriptural proof that God does not change; 2) show via scripture that in every case where God’s wrathful judgment is experienced on the earth, apostasy was the root cause, (we didn’t show you this but, the devil and his angels were thrown out of heaven for the same crime [Isaiah 14:12-15 & Rev 12:7-12]); 3) show via scripture that another great apostasy must take place prior to the end of days and coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
 
Looking at God’s answer in Habakkuk 2:2-5, God proclaims that the [true believer or] just one shall live by his/her faith. Moreover, those who practice apostasy are actually given a strong delusion which causes them to fall away from God all the more. This is profound revelation for us as we share the gospel and evangelize our communities and the world. But, like all of God’s word and actions, we need to fully understand this strange phenomena if we are to be fully effectual in our individual and combined ministry. To prepare for Wednesday’s lesson, read the following scriptures and write your answers to the following questions:
 
 
Reading 1: Habakkuk 2:2-5
  • Why do you supposed God instructed the prophet to write this time?
  • In verse 3, what specifically does God declare about The Vision? Are these only for Habakkuk‘s day?
  • Why is verse 4 so important for Christians? [hint: Romans 1:16-17 and Matthew 4:1-4
Reading 2: Exodus 7:1-5
  • What is strange about God’s word to Moses concerning Pharaoh?
  • What precipitates God’s people being released from bondage in Egypt?
  • Do you now see a pattern in God’s judgement and the liberation of the righteous (even going back to Noah)?
Reading 3: 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
  • Who does the scriptures say sends a strong delusion to unbelievers?
  • Can you see any connection between this scripture and the text of the prophet Habakkuk?
 
Greetings to all who know the righteous shall live by faith–
 
This Wednesday, May 26th, in our 7th lesson in the study of Habakkuk, we dig deeper into The Vision God told Habakkuk was for an ‘appointed time’ and ‘speaks of the END.’ While the righteous have been instructed to LIVE BY FAITH, no matter what, the vision does guide us in the prophecy for those who are not counted among the righteous.
 
By now we know that a great apostasy [turning away from God] has to take place and a strong delusion will also hinder the non-righteous from believing the truth and coming to know the saving power of Jesus Christ. As we prepare for this week’s lesson, we want to clearly understand the manifestations that take place “on the ground” [so to speak] and are recognizable in our lifetime.
 
We pick up the study text in Habakkuk 2:4-14, asking also that you read the following scriptures and write your answers to the following questions:
 
 
Reading 1: Habakkuk 2:4-14
  • Name three (3) attributes of the non-righteous as described in verses 4 & 5?
  • Who does the vision describe as mounting an uprising? What are some of it’s facets? [verses 6-13]
  • What do you make of verse 14 in the midst of all the described “woes?”
Reading 2: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
  • What is oddly happening to a church whose faith is growing and love for each other is increasing?
  • According to Paul, your answer to the prior question is called what? [verses 5-6]
  • In this text, what clearly happens when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven?
Reading 3: 2 Timothy 4:1-4
  • What does Paul say in this short text that is disturbing to you?
  • While this letter is written to Timothy, who do you believe is the “They,” Paul speaks of?
Greetings all–
 
Tonight Wednesday, June 2nd, is the first of our final two (2) lessons in the study of Habakkuk. We pray you have been growing spiritually from the prophet’s writing and the in depth teaching of it. Our church theme for the year has been, “I pray your strength in the Lord,” and some of you have not only been using it verbally, but you have it as a salutation on your email and texting. Here we are approximately midway through the year and in next week’s final lesson, the prophet gives us the ONLY appropriate response to our themed sentiment — Habakkuk 3:19a reveals the response, “My God is my strength!”
 
We pick up the study text in Habakkuk 2:15-20, asking also that you read the following scriptures and write your answers to the following questions:
 
 
Reading 1: Habakkuk 2:15-20
  • Write your thoughts on terms like:      a. drunkeness or drunk with wine      b. expose one’s nakedness      c. uncircumcision
  • What is in the Lord’s right hand? [verse 16]
  • What does God say about idols? [verses 18-19]
  • Why do you think verse 20 is often used as a Doxology in church worship?
Reading 2: Revelation 12:7-12; 13:11-18 and 14:6-13
  • What “woe” is pronounced to the earth and sea?
  • What attribute is given to an image in the chap 13 reading?
  • What is the prophecy for those who worship the beast and have his mark?
 
Blessings all–
 
Our final lesson (10) in the book of Habakkuk is this Wednesday, June 9th (7pm). Following this lesson we will take our usual summer break before picking a new subject or book in God’s word to study this fall. We also certainly foresee sticking with the online platform for future Bible studies.
 
Now that you are fully aware and knowledgable of the vision God gave Habakkuk and you understand the two “cups” that are offered to humankind concerning the end, Habakkuk chapter 3 offers a song and prayer for us to consider. The prophet is elated that God has thoroughly answered his complaints and questions and more importantly, God has settled the believing inquirer’s spirit.
 
To prepare for lesson 10, read and make written answers to the following:
 
 
Reading 1: Habakkuk 3:1-9
  • Verse 1 mentions Shigionoth, which suggests this may be a passionate songwith rapid rhythm changes or a dirge — Can you see or sense this while reading?
  • Why would the prophet be singing? How often and for what reasons do you yourself sing?
  • What images jump out at you or what feelings do you have while reading these verses?
  • Be sure to look up unfamiliar words or terms (i.e. Teman, tents of Cushan, etc)
Reading 2: Habakkuk 3:10-15
  • Does the prophet rightly summarize the vision he received? Which verses in particular retell the vision?
  • Does verse 13 reiterate Sunday’s message concerning two cups offered by God?
  • Who in prophecy or Revelation is the “leader of the house of the wicked?”
  • Verse 14 says this leader’s head will be pierced. Compare this with Genesis 3:13-15.Do you see any connection in these scriptures?
Reading 3: Habakkuk 3:16-19
  • Describe the prophet’s final feelings? As a Christian thinking about it all, have you ever had similar feelings?
  • Reading these verses, do you feel Habakkuk is committed to (Hbk 2:4b) “just living by faith?”
  • As a church, our theme for the year is — “I pray your strength in the Lord.” What perfect response does the prophet give us to this sentiment in verse 19?
  • Do you feel you have grown and/or been enlightened by this study? Explain you answer.

Habakkuk – Lesson09

Seven Spiritual Strength Exercises

Spring 2020

Peace and grace all —
TONIGHT, Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021 (7pm), we begin our Bible Study on the theme, “Pray my strength in the Lord.” We will try to broadcast on both ZOOM and FaceBook Live. There is also a call-in number below for those wishing to share in the study by phone.
 
Attached is our blueprint for the Bible Study and sermon series. The (pdf) document is entitled, Seven Exercises for Spiritual Strength, and it outlines 7 practical things we wish to employ to grow strong in the Lord. You will notice that by design the document does not contain any scripture, and it will be each of our responsibility as part of the study, to find supporting Biblical scripture for all seven exercises. For example, the first exercise is Spend More Time with Loving, Encouraging Family/Friends; one scripture that comes to mind to support this exercise is Genesis 2:20-24, where God creates the first family. Bible Study preparation will involve finding and sharing Biblical text for whichever exercise we are currently examining. While we will go through the exercises in order, it will not be unusual for us to spend more than one week on a particular exercise. Your input will be vital to a robust study and help all of us see how the scriptures support the 7 exercises as stated. The Sunday sermons will be fueled by our discussions.
 
Our theme was derived from the Biblical text: 2 Timothy 2:1-7 and Ephesians 3:14-19 & 6:10. 
 
TONIGHT’s focus will be on Exercise 1 and we will discuss and develop the concept of relationships (family, friends, others):
 
  1. Understand God’s desire for humankind
  2. Understand the establishment of the family
  3. YOUR TASK: share scriptures that deal with family relationships is the context of the following:

    1. SPEND MORE TIME WITH LOVING, ENCOURAGING FAMILY/FRIENDS. 

    Think of your relationships for a moment, does it paint a picture that you’d like to improve? 

    Some of your best moments in life can be with family, but some others may not be so memorable.  Don’t hold on to the negative memories – they’re too much of a burden to bear.  Release them and know that they will be taken care of for you.  You are meant to be happy and enjoy life, especially happy times with those who you are close with.  When you’re focused on being spiritually centered, you are always divinely protected.  Some negative thoughts can come up and try to bring you down, but you can be confident in your spiritual strength, letting it speak for you – kind of like a bodyguard! 

    Give this time with your family or friends the attention and love it deserves. When your heart opens up to your loved ones this way, new patterns and thoughts develop in you. From these new thoughts, you can build the foundation to healthier relationships. 

    Take action to show those important to you how much you appreciate them. It can be as simple as a phone call or email to warm someone’s heart.  It could even turn their whole life around. 

Blessed Inauguration Day all —
TONIGHT, Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021 (7pm), we continue our Bible Study on the theme, “Pray my strength in the Lord.” We will broadcast on both ZOOM and FaceBook Live. There is also a call-in number below for those wishing to share in the study by phone.
 
Our guide, Seven Exercises for Spiritual Strength, outlines 7 practical things we wish to employ to grow strong in the Lord. You will notice that by design the document does not contain any scripture, and it will be each of our responsibility as part of the study, to find supporting Biblical scripture for all seven exercises. While we will go through the exercises in order, it will not be unusual for us to spend more than one week on a particular exercise. Your input will be vital to a robust study and help all of us see how the scriptures support the 7 exercises as stated. The Sunday sermons will be fueled by our discussions.
 
 
TONIGHT’s focus will again be on Exercise 1. Last week, we discussed and developed the concept of relationships and how the family is the major unit of measure for God’s interaction with humankind. Since we cannot escape relationships, we need to make certain we manage enough of them that support our spiritual strength. We looked at the first family in scripture and saw how they were not spared trouble and tribulation. Tonight we will look at another family and expand the concept of family to include close friends. Our definition of family will broaden to include family, family of friends, and church family before we are done. Read the following scriptures and consider the concepts below: 1 Samuel 19:1-14 and 2 Samuel 3:1-5 & 2 Samuel 13:1-36
 
  1. Notice how singular and combined events in the family define the overall relationships
  2. Understand how true friendships are established and why these bonds turn into family
  3. Look closely at Exercise 1 again– what is the key word or words

    1. SPEND MORE TIME WITH LOVING, ENCOURAGING FAMILY/FRIENDS. 

    Think of your relationships for a moment, does it paint a picture that you’d like to improve? 

    Some of your best moments in life can be with family, but some others may not be so memorable.  Don’t hold on to the negative memories – they’re too much of a burden to bear.  Release them and know that they will be taken care of for you.  You are meant to be happy and enjoy life, especially happy times with those who you are close with.  When you’re focused on being spiritually centered, you are always divinely protected.  Some negative thoughts can come up and try to bring you down, but you can be confident in your spiritual strength, letting it speak for you – kind of like a bodyguard! 

    Give this time with your family or friends the attention and love it deserves. When your heart opens up to your loved ones this way, new patterns and thoughts develop in you. From these new thoughts, you can build the foundation to healthier relationships. 

    Take action to show those important to you how much you appreciate them. It can be as simple as a phone call or email to warm someone’s heart.  It could even turn their whole life around. 

Peace and grace all —
TONIGHT, Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021 (7pm), we continue our Bible Study on the theme, “Pray my strength in the Lord.” We will broadcast on both ZOOM and FaceBook Live. There is also a call-in number below for those wishing to share in the study by phone.
 
Our guide, Seven Exercises for Spiritual Strength, outlines 7 practical things we wish to employ to grow strong in the Lord. You will notice that by design the document does not contain any scripture, and it will be each of our responsibility as part of the study, to find supporting Biblical scripture for all seven exercises. While we will go through the exercises in order, it will not be unusual for us to spend more than one week on a particular exercise. Your input will be vital to a robust study and help all of us see how the scriptures support the 7 exercises as stated. The Sunday sermons will be fueled by our discussions.
 
 
TONIGHT’s focus will be the last part of Exercise 1. We saw in Genesis how God established the family as the primary unit for humankind in the world. We expounded on how the “family” has been enlarged to include those we determine as friends. Tonight we look at God’s ultimate plan where family is defined as the body of believers on the Lord Jesus Christ. Our scriptural text for focus include Ephesians 2:11 – 3:13 and Matthew 12:46-50.
 
  1. Can you understand God’s kingdom plan and who is included as family?
  2. Do you understand the major ministry for the church?
  3. As you plan to incorporate Exercise 1 in your life, is it clear who you will include?

    1. SPEND MORE TIME WITH LOVING, ENCOURAGING FAMILY/FRIENDS.

    Think of your relationships for a moment, does it paint a picture that you’d like to improve?

    Some of your best moments in life can be with family, but some others may not be somemorable.  Don’t hold on to the negative memories – they’re too much of a burden to bear.  Release them and know that they will be taken care of for you.  You are meant to be happy and enjoy life, especially happy times with those who you are close with.  When you’re focused on being spiritually centered, you are always divinely protected.  Some negative thoughts can come up and try to bring you down, but you can be confident in your spiritual strength, letting it speak for you – kind of like a bodyguard!

    Give this time with your family or friends the attention and love it deserves. When your heart opens up to your loved ones this way, new patterns and thoughts develop in you. From these new thoughts, you can build the foundation to healthier relationships.

    Take action to show those important to you how much you appreciate them. It can be as simple as a phone call or email to warm someone’s heart.  It could even turn their whole life around.

Strength in the Lord to all —
TONIGHT, Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021 (7pm), we continue our Bible Study on the theme, “Pray my strength in the Lord.” We will broadcast on both ZOOM and FaceBook Live. There is also a call-in number below for those wishing to share in the study by phone.
 
Our guide, Seven Exercises for Spiritual Strength, outlines 7 practical things we wish to employ to grow strong in the Lord. You will notice that by design the document does not contain any scripture, and it will be each of our responsibility as part of the study, to find supporting Biblical scripture for all seven exercises. While we will go through the exercises in order, it will not be unusual for us to spend more than one week on a particular exercise. Your input will be vital to a robust study and help all of us see how the scriptures support the 7 exercises as stated. The Sunday sermons will be fueled by our discussions.
 
 
TONIGHT’s focus will be Exercise 3. Each day, we are all inundated with messaging from TV, radio, internet, news and social media. In this Covid19 and socially distanced environment, we feel especially obligated to to stay connected and keep up with current events. The problem with all this attention to media is we are zapped in spirit having to juggle our attention to do the necessary things for life and tend to the stimuli appropriately. Scripture teaches that there has to be balance in our lives and sometimes we must disconnect from the additional stimuli to remain spiritually strong and healthy. As you read through the scriptures for the week, take notice of the environment and the spiritual strength of the Biblical characters who disconnected: Read 1 Kings 19:7-13, Matthew 4:1-11, & Revelation 1:9-20, and consider the following questions–
 
  1. In 1 Kings 19, how did Elijah disconnect from all that was bothering him and what was the resulting outcomes?
  2. Read Matthew 4:1-11; Who led Jesus to the wilderness? What can you define as a place of wilderness for your life today?
  3. Where is John when he gets the inspiration of the Revelation? Why do you think the place is important?

What is another ONE WORD religious practice that we can employ to participate in this particular exercise?

 

3. REDUCE DISTRACTIONS (TV, RADIO, INTERNET, NEWSPAPER)

Media can fill your mind with thousands of ads, episodes, and events that are nowhere near vital to living your best life. When you reduce the absorption of participating in these activities, there is far less manufactured stimuli being fed in, and your brain has a chance to be silent. These moments of silence gives you an opportunity to strengthen your spiritual connection and those around you.

And if you’re not ready to give these things up or reduce your intake (we understand), just try to sharpen your focus on what you DO want to see (like Power of Positivity), rather than what you don’t.

Strength in the Lord to all —
TONIGHT, Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021 (7pm), we continue our Bible Study on the theme, “Pray my strength in the Lord.” We will broadcast on both ZOOM and FaceBook Live. There is also a call-in number below for those wishing to share in the study by phone.
 
Our guide, Seven Exercises for Spiritual Strength, outlines 7 practical things we wish to employ to grow strong in the Lord. You will notice that by design the document does not contain any scripture, and it will be each of our responsibility as part of the study, to find supporting Biblical scripture for all seven exercises. While we will go through the exercises in order, it will not be unusual for us to spend more than one week on a particular exercise. Your input will be vital to a robust study and help all of us see how the scriptures support the 7 exercises as stated. The Sunday sermons will be fueled by our discussions.
 
 
TONIGHT’s focus will be Exercise 3. Each day, we are all inundated with messaging from TV, radio, internet, news and social media. In this Covid19 and socially distanced environment, we feel especially obligated to to stay connected and keep up with current events. The problem with all this attention to media is we are zapped in spirit having to juggle our attention to do the necessary things for life and tend to the stimuli appropriately. Scripture teaches that there has to be balance in our lives and sometimes we must disconnect from the additional stimuli to remain spiritually strong and healthy. As you read through the scriptures for the week, take notice of the environment and the spiritual strength of the Biblical characters who disconnected: Read 1 Kings 19:7-13, Matthew 4:1-11, & Revelation 1:9-20, and consider the following questions–
 
  1. In 1 Kings 19, how did Elijah disconnect from all that was bothering him and what was the resulting outcomes?
  2. Read Matthew 4:1-11; Who led Jesus to the wilderness? What can you define as a place of wilderness for your life today?
  3. Where is John when he gets the inspiration of the Revelation? Why do you think the place is important?

What is another ONE WORD religious practice that we can employ to participate in this particular exercise?

 

3. REDUCE DISTRACTIONS (TV, RADIO, INTERNET, NEWSPAPER)

Media can fill your mind with thousands of ads, episodes, and events that are nowhere near vital to living your best life. When you reduce the absorption of participating in these activities, there is far less manufactured stimuli being fed in, and your brain has a chance to be silent. These moments of silence gives you an opportunity to strengthen your spiritual connection and those around you.

And if you’re not ready to give these things up or reduce your intake (we understand), just try to sharpen your focus on what you DO want to see (like Power of Positivity), rather than what you don’t.

Blessings to you on this Ash Wednesday —
TONIGHT, Wednesday, Feb 17, 2021 (7pm), we will share a 5min Lenten message from our episcopal leader, Bishop Easterling and continue our Bible Study on the theme, “Pray my strength in the Lord.” We will broadcast on both ZOOM and FaceBook Live. There is also a call-in number below for those wishing to share in the study by phone. The link for the Bishop’s message is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJtbVHIZTOA&feature=youtu.be
 
TONIGHT’s focus will be Exercise 4. This lesson and exercise is essential in more ways than we may realize, as it involves each of our personal outlook when it comes to others. We will spend two weeks on this exercise to dig deep and examine our own motives while looking at scriptures that will help us understand the dynamics involved and why they may serve or not serve us well. The scripture lessons for tonight include Esther 3:1-6 and Proverbs 5. Read both sets of text and consider the following:
  1. In Esther 3:1-6, what is the tension described and who would you say has the problem?
  2. What is the reason for Mordacai’s actions or inaction? Is he justified, in your opinion?
  3. In Proverbs 15, jot down a few scriptures that speak to you? Tell why?

4. OBSERVE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU.

 

It’s very important to send positive energy to others as well as opening up to receive it yourself. There’s no room in this life to judge others, as you may be judged by others for your own actions. Focusing on pain, gossip, fear, or sadness does not serve anyone.

The energy you send others can help them hurdle their challenge, or stumble trip and fall. Be kind to all people. See the good (and the God) in them and help try to amplify that voice to help lead them to their best life. You may have no idea the kind of battle they’re fighting right now – the energy you send them is very important.

Peace and grace on this beautiful day —
TONIGHT, Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021 (7pm), we continue our focus on Exercise 4. This lesson and exercise is essential in more ways than we may realize, as it involves each of our personal outlook when it comes to others. Last week we dug deep and were asked to examine our own motives, however premature, concerning our thoughts toward others. On this second pass, we are asked to evaluate the reasons (if there are any) for others to have negative feelings toward us. We will have to take an honest look at our past and determine if the negativity toward us is “justified” while always keeping in mind the power we have in sending energy to convince others to be their best selves. Of course, this will take some work on our part. The following two scriptures involving King David illustrate where this conversation is headed. Read 2 Samuel 6:12-16 & 20-23 and 2 Samuel 16:5-14.
 
looking at scriptures that will help us understand the dynamics involved and why they may serve or not serve us well. The scripture lessons for tonight include Esther 3:1-6 and Proverbs 5. Read both sets of text and consider the following:
  1. What bothered David’s wife Michal when he brought the Ark of the Covenant into the City of David?
  2. In this particular instance, who do you feel is in the right?
  3. In the second reading (chapter 16), what odd thing does King David say about Shemei cursing him (verse 10)?
  4. Why is what David says profound to Christians and the community of faith?
  5. Have you ever given a person a reason to curse you? Have you resolved the ordeal?

4. OBSERVE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU.

 

It’s very important to send positive energy to others as well as opening up to receive it yourself. There’s no room in this life to judge others, as you may be judged by others for your own actions. Focusing on pain, gossip, fear, or sadness does not serve anyone.

The energy you send others can help them hurdle their challenge, or stumble trip and fall. Be kind to all people. See the good (and the God) in them and help try to amplify that voice to help lead them to their best life. You may have no idea the kind of battle they’re fighting right now – the energy you send them is very important. 

Praying your strength in the LORD —
On, Wednesday, March 3, 2021 (7pm), we tackle Exercise 5, Stepping Out in Faith. This lesson and exercise is essential and may really hold our greatest impediment to spiritual strength. Faith is like any of our other bodily muscles, as it must be exercised to develop and grow. Many times in life we do not operate in faith, but we succumb to FEAR. Fear is the opposite of FAITH in every regard, and as Christians, we need to constantly ask ourselves, did faith win the day of did fear? The following scriptures will help us gain perspective and insight into our Lord’s expectation concerning our faith and walking in it. Read Matthew 8:23-27, 1 Kings 19:1-5 and Esther 4:1-17.
 
Pray and think through all the scriptures and consider the following:
  1. At this juncture in your life, what is YOUR GREATEST FEAR? Be honest and name it?
  2. Consider (again) the 1 Kings 19 reading. Why is the Prophet Elijah afraid given all the Lord has done for him?
  3. In the Matthew 8 scripture, what direct question does Jesus ask the disciples? What is your answer if the Lord ask you the same?
  4. In Esther 4, Queen Esther names her fear– write down what it is?
  5. In the final verses of Esther 4, the Queen makes a declaration showing she has moved to Faith — What is it?

5. STEP OUT IN FAITH

Be confident to stand strong in the face of adversity. Know that the Divine has got your back, and that a bigger breakthrough is in store for you beyond your challenges. There may be forces that have an investment in keeping you from receiving your best life, but when you decide to stand up or speak out, knowing that your faith is bigger than your fear, the illusion of fear that’s trying to hold you down will diminish and eventually disappear.

You become stronger and wiser when you step out in faith. The lessons brought about by all people and situations we come into contact with are our teachers AND our exams – take this chance to get an A+! 

 
Enjoying the mild weather —
On, TONIGHT, Wed, March 10, 2021 (7pm), we tackle Exercise 6, Service to Others. This lesson and exercise is another essential one and will really boost our spiritual strength in many ways. Some physical exercises are good because they work on several body parts at the same time. Being of service and compassionate to others is similar in its multifaceted effects. For tonight’s study, see if you can find and name acts of compassion or service for the following Biblical characters:
  1. RUTH
  2. DORCAS
  3. JOSES, also called BARNABAS
  4. The GOOD SAMARITAN

6. BE OF SERVICE TO OTHERS

History shows that the most spiritually strong, peaceful, loving people were focused on being of service to others. Jesus, Buddha, Mother Teresa, Gandhi… the list goes on. There is real power and peace in service for its own sake. Take time to help someone in need or share a contact with them who can. You don’t have to be special to be the turning point in someone’s life – every person you encounter is brought to you for a specific reason. 

Serve the situation and your spiritual strength will surely grow. 

 
 
Peace and grace all —
On, TONIGHT, Wed, March 17, 2021 (7pm), we begin Exercise 7, Making Prayer/Meditation a Habit. This lesson and exercise is an essential we hope becomes part of our everyday regimen given the power and strength we reap from the presence of the Holy. We will examine the practice of a couple Biblical icons and look to see if we can implement some of their best habits in prayer and meditation. Preview the following scriptures while looking for a regular practice.
  1. Job 1:1-5
  2. Daniel 6:1-14

7. MAKE PRAYER/MEDITATION A HABIT.

Regular observance of the “unseen” helpers and guides, angels, or whomever you call on that surrounds you, will cause a change in you. A great exercise for spiritual strength is to pray or meditate (however you prefer) at least two times a day.

Prayer or meditation usually has a formal beginning like “Dear God,” or “Dear Heavenly Father,” or “Oh Great Healing Spirit.” Other faiths have specific rituals, such as the Muslim religion reciting “The Opening” in a specific posture. It can be practiced in a variety of ways and positions, but all will ultimately help build your spiritual strength and lead you to your best life. As you pray/meditate, sit quietly and allow the divine to come into you to strengthen and illuminate your spirit. Keep your requests in the positive tense, focusing on healing instead of sickness or disease, abundance instead of scarcity, and so on. If you acknowledge the negative energy, you claim ownership to it and allow it to stay in your life. Flood it with the positive! 

 
 

Peace and grace all —

On, TONIGHT, Wed, March 24, 2021 (7pm), we finish the study on  Seven (7) Spiritual Strength Exercises. The attached grid is for you to begin to build your own life schedule where you will engage in each exercise. In tonight’s session, we will go through each and see if our Lord, Jesus committed to any. If He is our example, we should be able to easily recall clear examples. Following a review of the 3-year life of Christ in these regards, we are asked in scripture to simply, “GO and DO LIKEWISE.
 
See the attached pdf.