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Category Archives: Scripture reflections

The Spirit (discussion questions)

Chosen Words Series Gfx_4x3 TitleHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “The Spirit,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This continues the series, “Chosen Words,” where we will journey through John 13-17 over the next number of weeks.

Discussion Questions:

1. When you think of the Holy Spirit, what comes to your mind? 

2. This week we continue our series, Chosen Words, by looking at Jesus words about the Holy Spirit in John14:15-31 and 15:26-16:15. Before you read these two passages of Scripture aloud, take a moment to ask God to speak to you as you read His word.

3. The word Advocate (Greek: parakletos) appears four times (14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7) in these two passages we are studying. The term literally means helper, advocate or intercessor. In chapter 14, what is Jesus telling His disciples  and us  about the Holy Spirit by His instruction around the term Advocate?

4. This first passage we are looking at, John 14:15-31, falls between Jesus repetitions of the phrase, Do not let your hearts be troubled(14:1, 27). How might Jesus teaching on the Holy Spirit address the coming troubles in which the disciples will find themselves?

5. At the end of John, chapter 15, Jesus talks about the challenges His followers will face at the hands of others (15:18-25). He follows this by talking about the Holy Spirit and His disciples testifying about Him (15:26-27). What do you think the connection is here between trouble and testifying? What does it mean that the Holy Spirit and the disciples must testify about Jesus?

6. How are you personally testifying about Jesus in your life? Can you give an example? How have you worked with the Holy Spirit in this?

7. The phrase Spirit of truth appears three times (14:17; 15:26; 16:13) in the passages we are studying. Consider this phrase in light of Jesus words in John 14:26 and 16:13. What is the Holy Spirits work in relation to truth? What truth is being talked about? 

8. In what ways have you experienced the Holy Spirit as an advocate or spirit of truth in your life? How might you want to grow in this way?

9. What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you about life with the Holy Spirit through this study? How will that shape your life in the next week? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.

[Next week we will hear from guest speaker, Pastor Oscar Muriu, of Nairobi Chapel in Kenya. The 40-day journey associated with the “Chosen Words” series will still continue through the week.]

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2015 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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Trouble (discussion questions)

Chosen Words Series Gfx_4x3 TitleHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Trouble,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This continues the series, “Chosen Words,” where we will journey through John 13-17 over the next number of weeks.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When did you face deep troubles in your life? What happened and how did you deal with?
  2. We continue our series, “Chosen Words,” by studying John 13:18-14:4, where Jesus faces into deep troubles. Before you read those verses aloud, take a moment to ask God to speak to you as you read His word.
  3. The first section of this passage, verses 18-30, focuses largely on Jesus’ expectation of betrayal at the hands of Juda. Judas is mentioned five times in John 13 (vss 2, 26, 27, 29 30). What do you notice about Judas from these verses?
  4. Jesus clearly knows that someone will betray Him (vs 21), but it also appears that this is part of God’s plan (vss 18-19). How could these both possibly be true?
  5. In the second section of this passage, verses 31-38, how would you summarize Jesus’ description of what He will face next? What do you think this means?
  6. In verses 34 and 35, Jesus offers “a new command.” Although this may be familiar, what do you think it means practically to fulfill this command? Why do you think there is a direct connection between this command and identification of Jesus’ disciples?
  7. Jesus confronts Simon Peter’s bold declaration with a hard truth about his upcoming failure. Why do you think Jesus said this to Peter?
  8. When do you think it is the loving thing to do to confront someone with a hard truth?
  9. The third section is found in 14:1-4. Here, Jesus balances words about His departure (13:31-33) with the reassuring work of God. What does Jesus promise to His followers?
  10. How do Jesus’ words here help your perspective on the challenges of your own life or the global events unfolding around us?
  11. What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you about life with Him through this study? How will that shape your life in the next week? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.

 [Next week we will study John 14:1-31; 15:26-16:15. Read it ahead of time to prepare. Join the 40-day journey associated with this series by visiting http://www.eastbrook.org/chosenwords.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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Free to Live (discussion questions)

We continued our series, “Free: A Study on Galatians,” this past weekend at Eastbrook Church look at what it means to live in light of new life in Jesus Christ from Galatians 6. Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Free to Live,” which is the sixth and final part of our series.

Discussion Questions:

  1. This week we conclude our series Free: A Study on Galatians by looking at Galatians, chapter 6. Before you begin, pray that God would speak to you through your study of the Scripture. Next, read Galatians 6 out loud.
  2. The first part of Galatians 6, verses 1-10, continues Pauls train of thought begun in Galatians 5:13 about living by the Spirit. How does Paul practically instruct the Galatian believers about life in the Holy Spirit in verses 1-7? 
  3. Why do you think Paul brings together the ideas of carrying anothers burden and taking pride in ourselves in these verses?
  4. Have you ever struggled with pride when confronted with anothers sin or difficulties? What did you do?
  5. With verses 8-10, Paul confronts the tendency to take advantage of freedom in Christ for acts of the flesh (5:19). What does Paul call the believers toward in these verses? 
  6. Why do you think Paul includes phrases like let us not become weary or if we do not give up in the context of doing good deeds?
  7. How would you describe what it practically looks like to sow to please the Spirit (6:8) in our lives?
  8. In the second part of Galatians 6, verses 11-18, Paul summarizes and concludes the letter. He emphasizes  see what large letters(6:11)  the contrast between him and his opponents. What is that contrast and why is it important?
  9. What would you say Paul means by his strong statement in verse 14? What does that truth mean for you in your life?
  10. What is your biggest take-away from this study or the entire series on Galatians. If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone this week.
 
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Posted by on February 9, 2015 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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Spiritual Freedom (discussion questions)

As we continued our series, “Free: A Study on Galatians,” this past weekend at Eastbrook Church we looked at the power of spiritual freedom in Jesus Christ from Galatians 5. Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Spiritual Freedom,” which is the fifth part of our series.

Discussion Questions:

  1. We continue our series on freedom in Christ this weekend as we make our way into Galatians, chapter 5. Before you begin, pray that God would speak to you through your study of the Scripture. Next, read Galatians 5 out loud.
  2. Galatians 5 is built around two major declarations by Paul related to our freedom, found in verses 1 and 13. Verses 1-12 carry forward themes Paul has discussed throughout the letter so far. What would you say is Paul’s main point or points in this first section of Galatians 5?
  3. Once again, Paul makes some fairly dramatic statements about those who rely on legalism or religious performance to make themselves right with God, particularly in verses 4 and 12. Why do you think Paul get so upset by this situation?
  4. With verse 13, Paul begins talking about the everyday way we relate to others as Christians, commonly called ethics. In verses 13-18, Paul contrasts the way of the flesh with the way of freedom. What characterizes the way of the flesh and what characterizes the way of freedom?
  5. Do you resonate with Paul’s description of the conflict between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit? How do you deal with that conflict in your own life?
  6. Paul outlines the ‘acts of the flesh’ in verses 19-21, saying “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” How do you think this relates to Paul’s strong words that “a person is not justified by the works of the law” (2:16)?
  7. Paul’s words on the fruit of the Spirit in verses 22-26 are well-known. Look over chapter 55 and see how Paul talks about the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life. What does it mean to truly by led by, walk with, and live by the Spirit?
  8. What is one practical way you need to surrender more to the influence of the Holy Spirit and less to the acts of the flesh this week? If you are with a small group, take some time to discuss these things with one another. If you are alone, share that with someone this week. Close in prayer.
 
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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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Receiving the Promise (discussion questions)

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, we continued our series, “Free: A Study on Galatians,” by looking at the promise God gave us based out of Galatians 3:1-29. Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Receiving the Promise,” which is the third part of our series.

Discussion Questions:

  1. This weekend we continue our series, “Free,” by delving into Galatians, chapter 3. Take a moment to begin with prayer, asking God to speak through your study of the Scripture. Next, read that Bible passage out loud.
  2. At the beginning of Galatians 3, Paul calls out the believers for losing focus on Jesus and the real gospel by asking them a series of questions in verses 1-5. Identify the questions Paul is asking as well as what Paul is trying to reveal through these questions.
  3. Like the Galatian churches, all of us are subtly tempted to stray away from the real gospel of Jesus Christ. How have you or are you being tempted to lose this real gospel in your life or church?
  4. Continuing forward with his argument, Paul takes his readers back to the founder of Israel’s faith, Abraham, and God’s covenant promises to him (3:6-9). What does Paul claim about Abraham and why would this be important in light of those in Galatia asking Gentiles to submit to Jewish religious regulations?
  5. In verses 10-15, Paul outlines both the redeeming and sacrificial work of Jesus Christ in relation to the Jewish law. How would you summarize what Paul says here?
  6. When did you come to realize the meaning of Jesus’ redeeming and sacrificial work for you personally? What happened? How did it change you?
  7. Galatians 3:15-25 outlines the role of the Jewish law – what we call the Old Testament – to the Christian faith. How does Paul answer his own questions in verses 19 and 21? What would you say is the role of the law for Christians?
  8. If you were talking to another Christian who was legalistic, how would you describe to them the place of the Jewish law in our everyday lives as Christians?
  9. In conclusion, Paul summarizes what it means that we are ‘in Christ’ in verses 26-29. It is important to remember that the point of departure for this discussion in Galatians 2 was the disunity of the church between Jew and Gentile. How does the real gospel lead to unity according to Paul here?
  10. Name one thing you will take away from this study on the real gospel? If you are with a small group, take some time to discuss these things with one another. If you are alone, share that with someone this week. Close in prayer.
 
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Posted by on January 20, 2015 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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The Life I Live in the Body (Galatians 2:20, part 3)

Today, I conclude my reflections on Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20 with attention to the final phrase: “the life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

If we have been crucified – killed – with Christ, and if we have been overtaken by the resurrection life of Christ, then our daily, bodily lives must be different. Christianity is not an abstract philosophy, but an embodied approach to living. We cannot rust to heaven and live like hell. If our body-living is not reflecting the present, dynamic life of Christ, then there is a problem.

Paul declares our bodies to be temples of the Holy Spirit while calling the Corinthians to repentance from sexual sin. Paul’s exclamation at the end of this challenge is: “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:20). What does honoring mean other than letting God’s plans be preeminent and God’s presence be pervasive in our daily living? Our physical life – eating and drinking, work and rest, affection and sexuality – must all honor God.

“Faith in Christ” is the theme of Galatians, permeating the entire letter. The word ‘faith’ or derivations of it appear over 20 times in this brief letter. Paul lives by the words of the prophet Habakkuk: “the righteous shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11).

Yet this faith is not a generalized faith in ‘something more’. Rather, it is a faith rooted in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He faithfully lived without sin, displayed the truth and grace of God, died through crucifixion, was buried, and rose victorious over sin and death. It is this Faithful One in whom we place our faith.

Yes, we know that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son” (John 3:16), but here again Paul gets personal. Jesus “loved me and gave Himself for me” [italics min]. Through the cosmic truths of God that echo from eternity in Christ, we experience the personal love and sacrifice of Jesus. “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith” (Galatians 3:26).

Lord, thank you for buying me at a price.
May my living in my body reflect my relationship with You.
Thank You, Jesus, for Your faithfulness to the Father that gives birth to my faith.
Help me to live each day full of faith in You, my living Savior.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2015 in Scripture reflections

 

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I No Longer Live But Christ Lives in Me (Galatians 2:20, part 2)

I continue my reflections on Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20 today by looking at the second phrase: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”

If through Christ’s death we participated in death, then through Christ’s risen life we participate in life. We die with Jesus and rise to life in Jesus. Elsewhere Paul writes, “if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him” (Romans 6:8). In John’s Gospel, Jesus consistently teaches about a real, indwelling relationship that we can have with Him. Praying before His arrest, Jesus asks the Father that future followers would experience the unity with one another like they – the Father and the Son – experience with one another: “that they may be one as we are one – I in them and You in Me” (John 17:22-23).

Jesus lives within us as a community of followers of Him, but also lives within us individually. Augustine said this unifying bond of love between the Father and the Son was the Holy Spirit. So, the unity we experience of Jesus (“I in them”) comes by the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. Because of this, Paul can describe us corporately as “the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16), but also individually saying “your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Both the corporate and individual aspects are true. How could it be otherwise?

Here in Galatians, though, Paul is referring to himself as individually being completely overtaken with the life of Christ. He is, as he states in another letter, “a new creation” in which “the old has gone” and “the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Boiling it down to the basic level in another place, he says: “for to me, to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21).

Lord, I never though it would be good to stop living, but thank You that You live in me.
Thank You for the gift of life that I experience with and in You.
May it be true for me that to live is Christ.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2015 in Scripture reflections

 

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