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Archive for the ‘Bible Study’ Category

Thesis: We are the tools God will use to reshape the world in which we live.

The reason God interacts with the world is to draw all of mankind toward a relationship with him. One of the primary ways God builds relationships with people is through those who already have a relationship with God. God calls each of us in relationship with him, regardless of our earthly past, to reach out to the lost of this world. God promises that all who seek a relationship with him will find it and God is a faithful God who will never go back on his promise.

Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else on earth is righteous; rather righteousness is something that God develops within each person once we are in a relationship with God. As God grows this righteousness it will affect how the world sees us. As God shapes and changes us we must bathe all of our activities in prayer. The work we are called to do, as children of God, is to reveal God to the world around us. We can be confident in this work that God will save all those who turn to him. (more…)

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A Sermon

“Friends: The one with the gardener”

– John 15:9-17

The intended audience is a rural Friends church of about 65 in eastern Illinois. The Society of Friends (more commonly known as Quakers) was founded by George Fox in seventeenth century England. It was founded on the principle that all persons had the ability to directly experience God; a priest or other church officiant was not required to communicate with God.

The Society of Friends took their name from John 15:14. In that passage Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” Friends would later be branded with the name Quaker. This pejoratively intended name was first used in 1650, when George Fox was brought before Justice Bennet of Derby on a charge of blasphemy. According to Fox’s journal, Bennet “called us Quakers because we bid them tremble at the word of God.” (more…)

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One only needs to read the phrase, “In the beginning was the word,” to realize that the Gospel of John approaches the story of Jesus in a manner that is truly unique. The gospel of Mark may represent the first unpolished record of the gospel message, and Luke may have finally written “an orderly account,” but it is the author of the gospel of John that truly delves into the theological implications of God coming to earth and dying for humanities transgressions.

There are many times throughout the gospel of John where Jesus tries to make it clear to his disciples that he is God incarnate, who has come to this earth as their savior; as their messiah. Jesus also tries to make it clear that he will die; unfortunately, the disciples never fully understand. One of these occasions occurs near the oratorical climax of the text, while Jesus and his disciples are eating what will be their last Passover meal together. Judas has just left the room to setup his betrayal and Jesus tries to explain to his disciples what is about to happen. The vast majority of John’s account (13:31b-36) of this event is entirely original and holds no semblance to any part of the other three gospels. (more…)

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Melchizedek, the king of Salem, is a character that fascinates me. He is called a “priest of God Most High”. Melchizedek blesses Abram and blesses God. Then Abram gives Melchizedek a tenth of everything he owned. The king of Sodom then asks for the captives from a recent military campaign to be returned to him in exchange for Abram keeping the valuables. Abram declines because he does not want anyone to think he became wealthy due to the king of Sodom; Abram wants everyone to know it was God who gave him all his possessions.

I need to freely give to those who are true ministers of the word of God. I need to be careful who I associate with. I need to make sure my focus is on being an example of Jesus, and not on becoming great, or wealthy.

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Abram and Lot were so blessed by God that the land could not support both of their flocks and herds. So Abram allows Lot to pick which way he would like to go and Abram goes the opposite. God then speaks to Abram again and tells him that he will be blessed.

There are times in life when God blesses us so greatly that we have to change our course. A question that has been on my mind recently is this: is it better for a church that has been blessed to expand itself or to plant a daughter church in the same town? To expand allows us to grow larger and to be able to do more and greater ministries; but it can also feed into our ego and make us think that we are the important players. To plant a daughter church forces us to give up control (which is a scary thing), and it keeps us from growing as large which may limit our ministry; but in the long run it is probably a more efficient and affective way of growing the kingdom of God and would provide a positive example of a church split.

When Abram and Lot split, God continued to bless Abram. I would argue that planting a daughter church is probably a better path to go down then expanding a growing church.

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“Then the Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’”

Sometimes God speaks to us very clearly and we choose either to listen or not to listen. In Genesis 12 God spoke to Abram very clearly and Abram listened. Abram’s life would have been completely different if he had ignored or disregarded God’s calling. But Abram listened. Even though he had never seen the land and even though he was leaving behind everything he had ever known Abram listened. Life was not easy for Abram (life is never easy for anyone), but God blessed Abram because he listened.

What is God calling you to do? Are you ignoring him?

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Genesis 11 – Legacy

I have never been a fan of ultra-tall skyscrapers. It seemed like a bad idea to me to create a building that is difficult to clean and maintain, is problematic in case of fire or other emergency, and are difficult to demolish. The ultra-tall skyscraper always appeared to me to be an artifact from a modern mindset that said we can completely control our world and bend it to our will.

This modern mindset is related to the ancient mindset of the people of Babel. The people of Babel wanted to make a name for themselves by building a tower that reaches to heaven. How often do we want to make a name for ourselves by doing or building something impressive that everyone will see and will last after our death? This is not our purpose in life. We are here to honor God with our lives and lead others into a closer relationship with God. That is our legacy.

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