The Christian Life

April, May, June 2009

Want to learn more about The Christian Life? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: Love (Matthew 5 & 22, 1 John 2, Romans 13)
We just finished our series of lessons on the gift of prophecy. 1 Corinthians 13:2 tells us that if we have the gift of prophecy, but do not love, we are nothing! How appropriate it is to start our new series of lessons on the Christian Life by studying love. Let's dive into the Bible and see how we can go from nothing to something by being loving!

Lesson 2: Faith (Hebrews 11, Psalms 19, John 20, 1 Peter 1, Luke 8)
We are told that faith is not a rational conviction. Do you agree? Consider that the disciples believed Jesus was coming back during their lifetime. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). It is now about 2,000 years later. I've waited for people who are late, and I've been late. But, on the face of it, this seems a little ridiculous. Have you ever believed anything which was completely irrational? Something on which there is not a scrap of evidence? We call these superstitions! What does the Bible say about faith? Is it beyond evidence? Are we expected to wait thousands of years without any proof whatsoever that we are not fools? Or, does faith have an evidentiary root on which we can build? Let's dive into the Bible and find out!

Lesson 3: Hope (Psalms 33, 39, 43, 71 & 146, 1 Peter 1)
Do you feel that your hopes are sinking? When I was in my early 20's, I believed that the United States was heading into its sunset years. Why not? All sorts of nations rise and decline. Why should we be different? Then Ronald Reagan was elected President and my attitude was completely changed. I had hope about the future of my country. Now the United States, and the world in general, looks like it is entering difficult times. How should a Christian look at these things? We all live in different countries, does our hope for the future turn on the future of our country? Be honest, do you want to be sitting in a dark, cold basement holding onto spiritual hope alone? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what kind of hope God offers to His followers!

Lesson 4: Life (John 10, Acts 27 & 28, Luke 12)
Have you ever contemplated your life? What course is it taking? Where would you like it to go? With our jobs, television, the Internet, kids, housework, and errands, it is easy to be occupied with the "immediate" all day. If we get a moment to rest, we spend it on something other than just sitting and thinking. Meditation is probably something related only to yoga, as far as we are concerned, and not part of our life. Let's take some time and contemplate, through the words of the Bible, what it means to live. Let's consider what goals God has for you!

Lesson 5: Revelation (Romans 1, Hebrews 1 & 4, John 16)
Does it seem reasonable that anything as complex as the universe, or even as complex as you, came about by accident? Isn't it more reasonable to believe that Jaguars (the car) are assembled by chimpanzees(the animal), then to believe the universe came about by chance? The more reasonable questions are these: What kind of a God do we have? Has He decided to talk to humans and tell them about Himself? How can we find His messages? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what it reveals about all of these questions!

Lesson 6: Sin (Genesis 3, Romans 5, 6 & 8)
Imagine a spouse who deliberately irritates you. (Hopefully, this is hard to imagine!) Is an attitude like that one of love? Does this teach us something about sin and God's law? A troubling number of Christians claim that they can do anything they want and still be loving followers of Christ. They argue that the law is no longer in effect, so there is no need to pay any attention to God's desires and directions. Is this true? Is it sensible? Why does God give us directions? Let's dive into our Bibles and find out more about sin!

Lesson 7: Grace (Isaiah 53, Romans 5-7)
When a Jewish friend of mine discussed religion with me, he claimed that Christians "highjacked" his religion. In response, I would say we "completed" his religion. To make the logical point, I would ask him what the sanctuary service and the offering of the lamb was all about? If it was merely about killing animals to take away sin, why not carry on with the tradition? A temple is not necessary to have sacrifices! Consider this: Judaism, Islam and Christianity all accept the Old Testament as the word of God, but it is only Christianity that completes the logical connection to grace. Jesus, the Lamb of God, takes away our sins. That is what the Old Testament sanctuary service was all about! Let's jump right into our study of grace!

Lesson 8: Rest (Exodus 20, Matthew 5, Colossians 2, Hebrews 4)
If something needs to be done, I want to do it now. If you are wired like me, then "guilt-free" rest is of great value. That is why I love the Sabbath so much. I know I'm not supposed to be working on it, and therefore I can rest without feeling guilty. During law school it was wonderful. My diligent friends would be studying every day in order to get the best grades. On Sabbath I did not study law and I was blessed for it. Let's dive into the Bible and find out why a Sabbath rest is still a central part of God's plan for us!

Lesson 9: Heaven (2 Kings 2 & 13, Matthew 17, Revelation 21)
What motivates you in life? Money, reputation, power, love, success, God or all of the above? Why did I list God among human motivators? Because God is in the motivation business. One major motivator is His promise of heaven for those who are faithful. Last week I asked you to consider Satan's strategy when it comes to undermining the authority of God. What do you think is Satan's strategy when it comes to the issue of heaven? If heaven does not exist, sin (which does exist) looks pretty good, right? At least at first. Let's dive into the Bible and see what it says about our eternal reward!

Lesson 10: Discipleship (1 Corinthians 12, Exodus 18, Matthew 20, Mark 8)
"Lead, follow or get out of the way" is a saying attributed to Thomas Paine, a "founding father" of the United States. If I gave you the choice of those three, how many would choose "follow?" I suspect not many. Most like to lead or go their own way. Our lesson this week is about following. What does it mean to be a disciple of God? Is it the traditional kind of follower? Or, is this a follower who also gets to lead? Let's dive into the Bible and find out!

Lesson 11: Stewardship (Matthew 25)
The order of the lessons is backwards, right? We enjoyed the lesson about the weekly day of rest, then we learned about that eternal vacation, Heaven. Last week we started to get back to work with "discipleship," and now (horrors) "stewardship!" Shouldn't we be ending on a rising note? Or, is stewardship a rising note? Whenever some official shows up at my church to discuss stewardship, it almost always means they want more money or more work out of me. But, I think we will discover this week that the Bible has a more positive approach to the idea. Let's plunge into our Bible study and learn what is great about stewardship!

Lesson 12: Community (1 Peter 2, 1 Timothy 5)
My uncle was a godly man. Born shortly after the turn of the century, he spent his entire life as a pastor and administrator in the Salvation Army Church. One day I asked him what change he saw in the Christian community over the years. He told me that television had replaced the church as the center of community. Before the advent of television, churches (and, I assume, bars) were the focus of social interaction. Now, he said, people stay at home and enjoy community through television. If he were alive today, I suppose he would name the Internet and cell phones as the community of the next generation. What plan does God have for community? What is His goal for those who follow Him? Is technology a help or a hindrance? Will the church make a comeback? Let's plunge into our study and find out what the Bible has to say about community!

Lesson 13: Mission (Acts 1 & 18, 1 Corinthians 1)
Do you know someone "on fire" for Jesus? Was that you at some point in your life? Next question: do you know someone who is on fire for Jesus their entire life? I've seen plenty of people who are "fired up" at first, but I do not recall anyone who maintains their initial level of fervor. Why is that? Is that a normal part of our Christian mission? Is that consistent with God's will? When we are called by Jesus to mission, what does He expect of us? Let's plunge again into the Bible and see what we can learn!

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