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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Personal Not Private Message Outline

Personal Not Private Outline
2 John 
Face Time, Part 1

Joy results from personally pursuing love and truth through a specific local church.

What is the path to pursuing joy when there is so much happening to us and around us that is discouraging

1. Pursue a love and truth driven ministry

2 John 1–3 (ESV) The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love. 

2. Protect yourself and others through truth and love

2 John 4–11 (ESV) I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 1If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked work.

3. Participate face to face

2 John 12–13 (ESV) 12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. 13 The children of your elect sister greet you

Questions to guide further study on this passage:
• Discuss the biblical concept of an elder? 
• The best interpretation of “elect lady” is that John is speaking of a specific local church? What evidence do you see that backs up that interpretation? What might argue against this view? Why does it matter?
• Note how many times John uses the word “truth” in this short letter. What is the significance of this? 
• What does it mean to walk in the truth? How would you be helped to actually use this phrase to shape your thinking about how you live the Christian life?
• It’s not surprising that John is emphasizing truth when he is going to talk about watching out for false teachers, but why do you think he also emphasizes love as preparation for responding to false teachers? 
• Discuss the meaning of all three phrases in verse 8: “watch yourselves”, “so that you many not lose what we have worked for” and, “but may win a full reward.”
• Discuss the practical application now of verse 11. 
• Discuss the significance of John’s desire to speak to his readers face to face? What are the implications for our individual lives and collective ministries? How does our obsession with technology (smartphones, etc.) affect this?

Supporting resources:

Probe the Bible with Questions by Rick Warren 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Do You Need Therapy or Redemption?

Words reveal beliefs. We can say that we love God, that we believe the Bible, even that we believe that the Bible is without error. Yet if we talk about our problems as if the solutions to them are more psychological than spiritual, our words show our confidence in Biblical solutions is weak. I would agree, for instance, that when someone struggles with depression, it is wrong to imply that that is only a spiritual issue. Depression involves emotional, physical, and medical issues as well as spiritual dynamics and so it can and should be addressed from all those angles. However, when we attack a problem and ignore that there could be a spiritual component, that may reveal that we don't really think God has much to do with our real lives. When there is a conflict between people usually we talk of issues that need to be worked through rather than sin from which we need to repent. As the old saying goes, if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If we treat most of our issues as if what they need is therapy, we have a more to learn about using God's word, about faith in God, and about confession of sin to address problems that we face in our hearts and minds and in relating to other people.

Jesus came to this world; not some imaginary one. His coming is grounded in reality, in history, at a real place. He came to help us in our real lives. We are dangerously close to thinking of Jesus as if he was part of a fairy tale if we don't look to him for any real help. The reality that Jesus needed to be crucified reveals the kind of help we ultimately needed. We didn't just need a positive influence, we needed a Savior. We were dead and needed to be made alive. We were sick and needed a doctor. We were not just misguided and needing a mentor, we were not just off track and needing direction. We were not just confused and needing instruction. We were not just just uneducated and needing to go to school. As Paul says we were without hope and without God in the world. Jesus is our only hope to address that problem. And we must look to him early and often for help in all our other issues as well.

Sunday at Bethany Place I'm preaching a message called Are You Calling God a Liar? It's my prayer that it will be a clear and compassionate word about our need for a Savior. Audio will post here on the blog when it becomes available.

Are You Calling God a Liar? Message Outline

Are You Calling God a Liar?
1 John 5:6-12
from Knowing and Loving

We can only find what our heart craves in Jesus. Seeking elsewhere is calling God a liar.

Three ways to call God a liar

1. I'm not so bad

1 John 5:6–8 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.

2. I will only believe what I can see

1 John 5:9-10 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.

3. I don't want to miss out

1 John 5:11-12 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Questions for further thought and discussion

  • Why do bad experiences turn us off? What do businesses that disappoint us have to do to get us to try them out again? What stories do you know of people who have turned against faith in Jesus because of bad experiences they have had in church or with Christians? 
  • How does it make you feel when someone lies to you? How does it make you feel when someone accuses you of lying?
  • Why is it important to understand and then believe that God is both fully man and fully God? 
  • What dangers are there in overemphasizing one over the other?
  • How do you deal with the objection that believing is more like "hopeing so" rather than "knowing so"? 
  • How do you answer the challenge that if Jesus is the only way to the Father, what about those who have never heard? What is the healthiest response that we can make to this challenge?
  • When we sin we are calling God a liar. Do you agree or disagree with this statement and why?
  • How do we learn to trust what another person says?
  • Can you name examples where scientific findings are reversed by later studies?
  • This may seem hard, but discuss the nature of eternal life. In what sense is it "in" Jesus? The New Testament often uses the phrase "in Christ." What does that mean and how could holding that fresh in our minds help practically on a moment by moment basis?

Friday, September 5, 2014

No More Whack-a-Mole Message Outline

No More Whack-a-Mole
from Knowing and Loving
1 John 5:1-5

Temptation often blindsides us when and where we are not are expecting. Is there a way to defeat it other than a spiritual version of whack-a-mole?

Believe rightly

1 John 5:1
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

Test for results

1 John 5:2-3
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Apply your faith

1 John 5:4-5
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?