Inspiration for Today's World

Category: Studies (Page 1 of 7)

A Lesson On Prayer

SCRIPTURE ON PRAYER

Romans 12:12 –  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Matthew 7:7-8 – Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will
be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who
knocks, the door will be opened.

John 16:24 – Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive,
and your joy will be complete.

Matthew 6:6 – But when you pray go in to your room, close the door and pray to your Father,
who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 18: 19-20 – Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask
for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in
my name, there am I with them.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 – Do not be quick with you mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter
anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

Luke 6:28 – bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Ephesians 6:18 – And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Matthew 21:22 – If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

STRUCTURE OF A PRAYER

Matthew 6:9-13

Acknowledgement of authority
  • Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Recognition of power
  • your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Our petition simplified to the basics
  • Give us today our daily bread.
Acknowledgement of our sins and an important footnote
  • Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
A request for His guidance
  • And lead us not into temptation,
Our need for His continuous protection
  • but deliver us from the evil one.

IDEAS FOR CLASS PRAYER

Keeping a prayer log

This downloadable sample represents a sheet that can be reproduced and passed out among the study group. The purpose of this form is to keep a log over time (e.g. 3-6 months, longer is better) and reflect back over our petitions to God so that we may rejoice in answered prayer. There are some rules that help this type of prayer sheet work best.

[1] The prayers should be definitive enough to know if and when God has given his response and of a duration suitable for this log.

An example of a prayer that is too open for this type of class project might be: “Pray that my new grandchild grows up to be a Christian.” A more effective prayer for tracking short term could be: “Pray that my visit this week with my grandchild offers me an opportunity to share Christ.”

[2] Limit the number of open requests anyone person has on the list to one or two.

The idea is to have all participants share and pray for each other. Add new prayers for someone when they have taken the current prayer request off the list.

[3] Review the open prayer requests weekly and check off those that have been answered by God. Keep praying for those that have not. If someone wants to remove a prayer from the list before it is answered, that’s fine.

[4] Ask all class participants to set aside a formal time each day and pray over the list of prayer requests. Ask them to bring the lists with them weekly so that updates may be made to the lists.

Prayer cards

Using 3 by 5 inch index cards, write the name of a person that you are praying for on the top. On the card, write the date of the request, the name of the requestor (for follow-up) and the prayer. Pre-printed cards are nice to use  (Here is a downloadable sample). Make the cards available for anyone to use at any time. The cards should be kept together with the study guide material. Each week the stack of cards are passed out with each member of the class requested to randomly take one or more (spread the cards out evenly among class members). Use a few minutes at the end of the class for silent prayer with each person praying for the card(s) that they have taken on that day. The cards are collected again at the end of the class. This type of activity is excellent for long term prayers. Periodically, review the prayers with those who have filled them out to see if the cards should be removed from the stack. A good thick stack of cards is a wonderful challenge to have to deal with.

Published prayer list

If there is someone who has access to a word processor, then a formal weekly prayer list can be quite convenient. A class volunteer becomes the collector for prayer requests. On a weekly basis, a list of prayer requests is published and handed out to the class. Each class member is requested to find time (one a week to start with growing to once a day) to pray over the list. Refrigerator magnets are great to use so that the prayers are kept visible to the entire family and needs of others remain visible.

Class prayer ideas

The appointee: class participants are asked to share their prayer requests. A single appointee then consolidates and opens or closes the class with prayer. The appointee should be varied each week so all can share in the opportunity to pray for the class.

Silent prayer: class participants discuss their prayer requests and then the class closes in silent prayer.

Circular prayer: This works well if you are seated in a circle. One person begins and prays. Either randomly or, in order, each class participant prays. Participating should be presented as optional since many people may be uncomfortable with group prayer of this type.

A class specifically on prayer

Before starting on a project involving class prayer or adding a formal prayer program to an existing class, it could be beneficial to hold a class specifically oriented toward prayer. Some discussion ideas are listed below:

  • John 16:24 – What is prayer? In whose name should we pray? What results from prayer?
  • Matthew 7:7-8 – What does Jesus teach about prayer?
  • John 15:7, 1 John 5:14-15 – What are some important conditions for answered prayer?
  • Jeremiah 33:3, Ephesians 3:20 – What is the characteristic of God’s answers to prayer?
  • Matthew 7: 9-11 – What kind of gifts does God give his children? How do you think God would respond to a request for something He knew would be bad for you? What do you think God would do if he knew the answer would be better for you at another time?
  • Philippians 4:6-7 – What is the wrong reaction to have toward difficult circumstances? What is the right response? What is the result of this right response?
  • Philippians 4:7 – What results from the peace that comes through prayer?
  • Luke 1:13-14 – What resulted when Zachariah and Elizabeth prayed for a son?
  • James 4: 3, Psalm 66: 18 – What are some hindrances to answered prayer?

Bible Truth Being Taught

Prayer should be an active component of a person’s life.

Our Response

To understand that prayer works.

A Very Short Children’s Story About Amos

Using A Simple Biblical Example to Help Children Learn About Jesus

Amos 7:7-8
7 This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” “A plumb line,” I replied. Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

What You Will Need

  1. A stick about a yard long for each child
  2. A string with a plumb line on the end

Plumbline2The Story

Amos was a shepherd who tended his flock near Bethlehem and Jerusalem. He lived about 750 years before Jesus and was sent to tell the people of Israel that they would be judged by God. This makes Amos a prophet. Amos knew that he had to talk to the people of Israel in ways that they could understand. The people of Israel were very good workers and builders.  You will show what God meant when He had His advice  on how to teach the people of Israel.

Now ask the children to see how straight they can hold the stick (up and down – vertical).  Have them line up their sticks so that they are perfectly straight up. Who has the straightest stick? Are any of the sticks perfectly straight up and down? Well, this is a very hard thing to do. It is even harder to build a wall out of stone so that it is straight. Amos knew that to build something straight, people needed help. Do you know what this is? It is a plumb line.

A plumb line is a very good tool to build with. Hold the plumb line out. As the children to look carefully and see how the string is always straight up and down no matter how it is held.  You might want to lean to side to side and show that the plumb line is always true. If you then hold the plumb line next to each stick, it becomes much easier to hold the stick straight. It is the “Perfect Reference” for vertical.  Now in Amos’s story, the plumb line is also very important if you want to build a straight wall. The straight wall is the nation of Israel.

Amos told the people of Israel that “The God was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the God asked Amos, “What do you see, Amos?” Amos replied, “a plumb line.” Then the God said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.”

What did the God mean? Well, as people, God knew that we cannot build our lives so that we are straight and true without something to measure our life against. Amos was telling the people of Israel that God would give them something to measure their own lives against so that they would know how to behave “Perfectly.” Do you know what God was going to give the people of Israel?

Well, God gave us His son Jesus. You see, Jesus is just like a plumb line. Jesus is always perfect. When we get to know Him so well that we can measure ourselves against Him, we can be just like a plumb line and help us build a straight wall (our life), pleasing to God, but if we try to lead our lives without a measurement, we often find that no matter how hard we try by ourselves, our life ends up just like a crooked wall. Just like our sticks.

That is why is it important to know who Jesus is, how He lived and have Jesus in your life.  And when you are struggling with problems, just remember Amos, the plumb line and that very straight wall.

Review

Why is Jesus like a plumb line?

  • A plumb line is always perfect no matter how improperly you may hold it or use it
  • You need no special training to use a plumb line – It works for everyone
  • A plumb line may very well be the most reliable tool ever created by mankind – That is what God gave us in our Savior
  • We can never be perfect like the plumb line
  • Everyone can use a plumb line – no special skills, no age requirement, you just need to believe the measurement it gives you is TRUE!
  • if we want to be Godly people, we MUST have a plumb line to measure our actions against

Additional Resource

This specific Bible study about Amos is the all-time favorite on Lostpine.com. With our society today seemingly hopelessly divided over serious issues, Amos’s story can also give guidance to adults. Click here for the: Amos The Prophet For Adults

Interactive Exercise for Teens – Understanding How to Commit One’s Life To Christ

Revelations 3:20 

“Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and he with me.”

youth-studiesCount off by fives.

Get together with your group.  Pick a discussion Leader.  Today, one of you leads the group.

Take 20 minutes.

You are to come up with group opinions on the following questions:

  1. How does Jesus knock?
  2. What is the door?
  3. How does Jesus speak to us (His voice)?
  4. How does the door get opened?
  5. What does it mean to eat with Jesus?

Show the graphic at the end to each group.  It represents the simple story of why we all need to let Jesus into our lives so that we can have fellowship with our God.

Get back together and discuss  key learnings.

Group Discussion Points

Group 1: How does Jesus knock?

Jesus speaks in figurative terms, no “real doors or knocking involved”

The knock may be the Holy Spirit providing conviction of some sin, a “conscience” of sorts, or inspiration and some inward guidance.

Jesus knocks by his Word (the Bible as we read it), providing a personal message.

Jesus knocks through others, as we observe them and as we hear then share the Gospel’s message.

Group 2: What is the door?

The door may very well be the human heart, mind or our faith.

Group 3: How does Jesus speak to us (His voice)?

Jesus’ voice or His speaking comes to us through inspired prayer.  As we ask him to come into our lives, to remove the sin and to guide our lives by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 7:7-8  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Group 4: How does the door get opened?

Opening the door is a sequence of steps and acknowledgements that we make:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23

“For the wages of sin is death…”  Romans 6:23a – Death is: Eternal separation from God.

People try a lot of things to try to get to Heaven.  Good works won’t get you there; no one could ever do enough good stuff to make up for all their sins.  They’ll still be sinning and the old sins will still be there.  Look at John 14:6:  “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

Fortunately, God loves us, despite the fact that we sin.  How can we know for sure that He loves us?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Romans 6:23

  1. Acknowledge that you are a sinner
  2. Believe that Jesus died for your sins
  3. Ask for His forgiveness and for Jesus to take control of your life
  4. You will be saved.

That’s how easy it is to open the door!

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9

“The same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”  Romans 10:12b-13

What does it mean to eat with Jesus?

To eat with Jesus is to live your life, not in fear, not in sadness but in the reassurance that you will be with our Lord forever.  Remember, eating is a daily occurrence and necessary for our health and survival.

After groups present to each other, discuss the following areas:

  • How does a person live without Jesus in their Life?

without-jesus

  •  How does a person live after the Door is Answered and Opened?

drawing1

 Prayer of Commitment

Dear God, I know that my sin has separated me from You, and I confess my sin.  I’m sorry.  I know that You love me and that You sent Jesus to die on the cross, in my place, taking the penalty for my sin.  Thank You.  Right now I ask You to come in and to take over my life.  I give myself to You.  Please begin to direct my life. Thank You for giving me eternal life.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Interactive Exercise for Teens – Looking for Proof that their is a God

Read Romans 1:20
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

Count off by threes (exercise requires three groups)

Now your challenge is that your best friend says they will not believe in God unless they are given proof.

Each group is to:

1. Pick a note taker and presenter
2. Discuss your specific topic (15 minutes)
3. Look for the proof (evidence that the apostle Paul says we all have been given
4. Be ready to come back together and convince us, pretending that we are that friend

Group Number One: You are to look for the evidence or proof in the physical world around us.

Group Number Two: You are to look for the evidence or proof in the lives of the people around us.

Group Number Three: You are to look for the evidence or proof in the Bible.

Group One Ideas – The World

1. The magnitude of the universe and the insignificance of man. Looking up at the stars at night.
2. The order of life. From the smallest single cell to the plankton, to the fish of the sea, to the birds, to the animals of the earth, to humans themselves, each is in service to the one below. Are we to conclude that humans are at the top of the pecking order, top of the food chain, and there is none higher?
3. Would not the highest order of life and intelligence be One of peace, One who creates, One who is love? Is that mankind? What in recorded history has ever been created by man from nothing? What has man created that has endured or functioned throughout recorded history without man’s continuing care and intervention.
4. The creation of life. The birth of a child.
5. The lack of proof for evolution. Do we find the skeletons of one-eyed mammals, three-eyed mammals, and horses with six legs or two legs? What we find when we dig is the remnants of a master plan and design that mankind struggles to understand.
6. DNA – has proved that all of mankind has descended from a single man and woman.

Group Two Ideas – People

1. Think about miraculous changes in people that new faith in Jesus has brought about. Example would be Paul, knocked from his horse en route to persecute Christians, changed forever to one of the greatest servants of Jesus. Any modern-day changed lives you know?
2. The “Know God, Know Peace; No God, No peace.” Have you seen people who are at peace even though there are catastrophes in their lives?
3. The silent voice (Holy Spirit) that gives mankind its conscience.
4. Work of the missionaries – unbelievable hardship in the name of Christ.
5. Mankind’s corrupt and sinful nature. There must be a better plan.

Group Three Ideas – Bible

1. The history and accuracy of the prophets and their predictions.
2. The substantiation of Biblical history from archaeology.
3. The lives of the apostles. Men that would die for Christ.
4. Christ and His life.
5. Psalm 119 – The psalm is written in Hebrew with the first eight verses beginning with the first Hebrew letter Aleph. Nine through sixteen begin with Beth. This pattern goes on, as there are eight verses for all of the 22 letters totaling 176 verses. This is equivalent of writing a poem that has each verse start with one of the letters of the alphabet. The psalm (or poem) also uses words to describe the Word of God. The words uses were:
 Law – 25 times
 Testimonies – 22 times
 Ways – 7 times
 Precepts – 20 times
 Decrees – 22 times
 Commands – 22 times
 Judgments – 19 times
 Word – 23 times
 Way of … – 27 times
 Faithfulness – 1 time
 Righteous and Just (hendiadys) – 1 time
 Only 3 verses 84, 122, and 132 do not reference God’s Word.

Now how does that prove God’s existence? No person could write a poem that would last 6,000 years – a poem that made sense to hundreds of generations that began each verse with the letters of the alphabet (in order) and repeated the same topic (the “Word” of God) 189 times. Since its creation, psalm 119 has been used as proof that our Bible is the “inspired Word of God.”

Closing Poem Titled “Knowing”

When we in our bumbling way
Over eons of time and
After exhausting effort,
Stumble over a truth of nature
Wrought from all time,
An infinitesimally small grain of Your truth
In a vast universe of truths,
We nod knowingly,
Connect the dots of DNA and
Pride ourselves for having knowledge.
Understanding escapes us.

“What in the World!” we say,
And in our limited, blind way do not consider
What not of this world.

~Author: Andrea Samson

Rock And Roll

“Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.”

~Job 34:4

Lesson56-image001Materials Needed: Ten or so rock and roll songs recorded on a cassette tape or CD.

Notes to the Leader: This study is intended for teenagers who like rock and roll music. To help frame up the study, you can download a sample of one lesson by clicking here. The Microsoft Word document has an instruction page, the lyrics from 11 pre-1980 rock and roll songs and a closing commentary on an interpretation of the lyrics.

Instructions

You will need access to a lot of old rock and roll records or CDs. Pre-1980’s seems to work best. While there is a lot of rock Christian music, try to stay with the traditional harder rock that is typically not associated with a positive message. The idea is to find three types of rock music:

  1. Has a Biblical theme to the lyrics
  2. Has a worldly theme but the message is positive
  3. Has a worldly them but the message is wrong

Prepare a worksheet with the lyrics on them for each song.  You can print a Sample Rock and Roll Bible Study Material that was used several times for a youth program.  Following the lyrics were the answers for each song and the rational.  This is just a fun way to teach discernment.

Select enough music to fill about half of your time (35 to 40 minutes of music will handle a one hour study)

Using your memory of old songs, try to pick about 3 to 4 songs that will fit in each category. Select entertaining music but something you think they may have heard on the radio.

The Internet is a wonderful place to search for lyrics and other information. In Google.com, if you use the song title followed by the word lyrics, you can quickly get the text of each song you might be interested in. By highlighting the lyrics on the web page and using copy and paste, build a document that your teens can have to read along as you play each song.

Remove the titles and artists from the text. You will be asking them to guess both when the music starts. Put each song’s lyrics on a separate page. As the teens hear a new song, they will turn the page.

At the end of each song, stop the music. Ask them to identify:

If the song has a Biblical theme and, if yes, what the theme is?

If the song is of a worldly theme, what is the message and is it good or bad?

Bible Truth Being Taught

Music was used by David and others to worship, pray, and grow in God’s word. Therefore, it is an acceptable tool in teaching.

Our Response

To learn that each of us is responsible for learning God’s Word and separating the many conflicting messages that are heard every day.

 

Rebuilding the City Walls

So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

~Nehemiah 4:6

Lesson14-image001Materials Needed: None

Notes to the Leader: This lesson covers some interesting history. It is about a wealthy man, Nehemiah, who leaves his life of power and prestige, to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah is the perfect example of the Christian life. He believed that you should depend upon God with a strong faith, work hard physically on God’s behalf and keep a sword strapped closely to his side just in case someone came along and tried to interfere.

As Christians, we are called to do the same, have strong faith but get off the couch and work in our church and communities. Most importantly, we are called to defend God’s plan and be willing to stand up for it. This does not mean fight with other God-fearing people or to take issue with the beliefs of other religions. It means that when God’s plans and desires are clear, we need to defend our efforts against those who seek their self-interests in place of Godly work.

This study has plenty of time at the end to let your group discuss personal experiences. This is excellent practice for learning how to share one’s faith.

Introduction

What to you think about this statement? “Pray like everything depends on God; work like everything depends on you.”

Does it sound biblical?

Do you agree or disagree with it?

Section One: The Walls of Jerusalem

Notes: The walls that Nehemiah directed residents of Judah to erect in August of 445 B.C. encompassed about 90 acres. Forty one building crews worked on forty two different sections of the wall (two miles in length).

Have someone in your group read Nehemiah 3:1-6

The northern wall was the easiest route of attack upon Jerusalem. These workers were the most exposed to the threatened trouble from hostile neighbors (see Nehemiah 4).

What is common between today’s churches and the nobles of Tekoa?

  • While there are many in our churches who labor for the good of the Church, there are always those who consider themselves either too important, too busy, or without sufficient skills to lend a hand. The Church today needs people who are not afraid to get their hands dirty.

Have someone in your group read Nehemiah 3:7-14

This was the longest part of the wall and it was located on terrain that was easy to work on. It is concluded by this scripture that the western wall was not damaged as much as the shorter northern wall.

Have someone in your group read Nehemiah 3:15-32

This was the section of the wall loaded with rubble and the steepness of the valley increased the difficulty of work.

When you read Nehemiah 3, what relevant facts can you conclude about the people, their attitudes and the task that they had undertaken?

  • These were ordinary people of all social levels and not skilled tradesmen.
  • A high priest (v. 1)
  • Merchants and goldsmiths (v. 32)
  • Noblemen worked beside commoners (v. 18)
  • Daughters worked with their fathers (v. 12)
  • Residents of Jerusalem worked next to commuters from surrounding towns and villages (v. 17)

What can you conclude about Nehemiah?

  • He was a masterful motivator and administrator (Nehemiah 2:17-18)
  • He new how to use existing leadership to delegate and accomplish a large and complex task. (Elishib, the high priest, directing the construction of the Sheep Gate (v. 1), rulers of Judah coordinating labors of their people (vv. 9, 12, 14-19).

Section Two: Resistance to the Plan

Have someone in your group read Nehemiah 4:1-6

This was not the first resistance to the rebuilding of the walls. In Ezra’s time, the issue was mostly over religious differences of neighbors. Sanballat, however, considered Nehemiah and the Israelites a threat to his personal authority and power.

How did Sanballat try to de-rail the work of Nehemiah?

  • He mocked their ability to persevere, their disposition toward worship rather than work, their ambitious timetable, and their use of old materials (v. 2). Further ridicule was offered by Tobiah who poured out more sarcasm claiming that the hastily walls would be so flimsy that a featherweight fox would knock it over in passing (v. 3).

When we are faced with personal ridicule such as Nehemiah and the Israelites, what actions can we take to make sure we persevere and succeed?

  • The effectiveness of ridicule depends on whether the listeners believe it.

What was Nehemiah’s response to the ridicule?

  • Nehemiah prayed that God would turn back the evil plans of Sanballat (v. 4) and Tobiah against them and that God would punish their sins (v. 5).
  • Nehemiah also refused to be distracted and kept focused on his work (v. 6).

In what way do we as Christians bear similar ridicule today?

  • The important work of God will usually provoke spiritual opposition from friends, the world, the flesh, and Satan. Some of this opposition is difficult to deal with and it does hurt. However, we should be encouraged by Nehemiah’s example and understand that ridicule alone is harmless and must be resisted.

Section Three: Causes for Worry

Have someone in your group read Nehemiah 4:7-15

The leaders of four opposing nations gathered to plot military action and cause general trouble for Jerusalem (v. 8).

Do you think that these four nations were bluffing? (see Nehemiah 2:7-9)

  • Nehemiah did have written permission from Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem.

What was Nehemiah’s response to the threats of trouble?

  • Nehemiah had no trouble getting intelligence (v. 12)
  • At the rumors of imminent attack, he posted a 24 hr guard (v. 9)
  • The threat changed from that of an all out war to one of sneak attacks (v. 11)
  • His G2 kept him informed of impending raids (v. 12)
  • For a long time, he halted construction (v. 13)

Nehemiah’s instructions to his leaders were: (a) don’t be afraid; remember the Lord; and fight for your homes and families (v. 14).

Was Nehemiah successful?

  • Yes, eventually the enemies got discouraged and left. Then he put all of his people back to work on the wall (v. 15).

Why was Nehemiah successful?

  • Nehemiah had trained himself and his people to turn to God and then turn to action (read Nehemiah 4:4-6)

Now revisit the very first question asked in this study, “Pray like everything depends on God; work like everything depends on you.” Based on Nehemiah’s response in 4:4-6, would Nehemiah agree or disagree with the statement?

Section Four: Winning

Have someone in your group read Nehemiah 4:16-23

What did Nehemiah have to do to win this struggle for God?

  • Half worked and half stood guard (v. 16)
  • Workers kept their weapons at their sides (vv. 17-18)
  • Nehemiah kept a trumpeter at his side to call people to a trouble spot (v. 18) This was to keep those from fear of isolation (v. 19) and everyone could converge at the spot of trouble to fight (v. 20).
  • Nehemiah and the leaders filled every hour of daylight (v. 21)
  • The governor ordered all of the workers to stay in Jerusalem every night for protection and defensive purposes (v. 22)
  • Nehemiah and his brothers set the example by sleeping in their clothes (v. 23)
  • The defensive strategy of the workers became part of their offensive strategy. They worked harder and harder. This was no doubt exhausting but exhilarating too. Great accomplishments seldom come easily.

Summary

Many of these builders were discouraged by the size of the task (4:10) and frightened by the incessant opposition (4:11-12), but they kept their eyes on the Lord and their hands on their swords. These were ordinary people. They prayed and built (4:4-6). They prayed and posted guards ((4:9). They remembered the Lord and prepared to fight for their homes and families (4:4). Together, with the Lord, they won.

What was the hardest spiritual work you ever did? Were you reluctant to start at first? Was it worth it?

  • Use this as open discussion to encourage your group to share experiences. This is the real lesson, practicing the sharing of one’s life experiences.

Why do people tend to avoid spiritually difficult challenges?

  • Again, let the discussion explore personal experiences.

What happens to the church when we do?

  • Building a church, spreading the Good News of Scripture, are not easy. Yet, the only conclusion one can come to is that if we all avoided difficult challenges, there would be little personal growth.

Bible Truth Being Taught

By trusting in God and united together, people can overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.

Our Response

To look for security in God’s power expressed through His united people.

Can This Advice Be Good?

“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.”

~Ecclesiastes 7:20

Lesson57-image001Materials Needed: None.

Notes to the Leader: With literally millions of religions in the world, and all claiming to be the right one, it is not easy to understand nor believe that the only way one can be saved is through Christ. Yet that is the truth found in Scriptures. This study will take a different attempt to support Christianity’s claim. By comparing Solomon’s observations of the world to those of the Apostle Paul’s, a clearer picture of the “way to salvation” emerges.

Don’t force this issue in your study if some in your group struggle with this viewpoint. Just let this study and God’s word work on their hearts.

Introduction

Do you consider people from other religions capable of moral behavior?

  • Morality itself, doing good by society’s standards, is a common theme with many religions.

If other religions teach or promote ethical and moral behavior, What is so special about Christianity?

  • This fact, that many religions promote good behavior, is often used as an argument against Christianity’s superiority. Solomon reminds us that all people fall short of perfection. Many people know what is right. It is, of course, another thing to do what is right. Only faith in the risen and living Christ can provide both the forgiveness we need when we fail and the divine help we must have to consistently do God’s will.

While Solomon was not able to find meaning to life by limiting his view to life itself, What was he able to determine with accuracy?

  • Solomon was able to discern some of the ethical principles which define a good, or righteous life.

Section One: Solomon’s Advice

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 7:15-18.

What was the traditional view of God’s treatment of the righteous?

  • God rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked.

What was it that Solomon saw in his observations of the righteous and the wicked?

  • Doing right does not necessarily pay off. Sometimes, wickedness would pay off.

Re-read verses Ecclesiastes 7:16-17 to your group.

How does Solomon use the term “over righteous?”

  • Solomon seems to be warning against extremes. Balance, keeping one’s options open, avoid extremes because they are dangerous.

What do you think Solomon meant by this advice?

  • Since observation indicated that God did not follow the traditional view of always rewarding the righteous and punishing the wicked, Solomon believed that a person who is “over righteous,” in the expectation that God must reward him, acts presumptuously! To assume that we can manipulate God by our good behavior was to be dangerous.

How would this thinking be explained for someone who was extremely wicked?

  • They are acting as if God is irrelevant or impotent, and will not punish them.
  • To fear God and to avoid all extremes to Solomon means to respect God as Sovereign.

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 7:19-20.

How is Solomon using wisdom with respect to one’s morality?

  • Wisdom can be used to make appropriate moral choices and this is a great aid in choosing the safe course through life.
  • Solomon, aware of human limitations and the impossibility of truly understanding God, knew that wisdom is not enough.

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 7:21-22.

What conclusion can we draw from these verses?

  • Due to our own sinful nature, we should have a greater tolerance of other’s failings.

Read Ecclesiastes 7:23-25a to your group.

Note for your group: The more we learn, the more we discover that we need to learn more. However, there is a trap that can befall us. That is, to become sure we know what God wants for us. Romans 14 speaks of “doubtful things.” It means anything that God has not clearly and unmistakably identified in His Word as sin.

How is it that we as believers can come to terms with “Doubtful things?”

  • We are to look to the Lord for guidance, and to be responsive to His will.

If Scripture does not specifically define an action as a sin, but we have been convicted through the Holy Spirit that this action is wrong, do we have a right to judge or condemn someone’s actions based upon our conviction?

  • We have no such right given to us. Therefore, we can never depend upon wisdom, to provide all of the right answers.

Section Two: The Mistakes

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 7:25b-26.

Solomon concludes that wickedness is stupid. What is the unmistakably wicked?

  • Immorality, because of its obvious nature. Solomon is responding to the person who lacks the ability to distinguish right and wrong and the desire to please God.

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 7:27-29.

  • Solomon is not responding to the opinion that women are no good. How would Solomon’s life among his 700 wives and concubines, most from foreign lands, color his opinion of women?
  • Solomon was reflecting in these verses a report of his personal experience. Most of these women had their own agendas, hence his view that the majority of people “have gone in search of many schemes.”

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 8:1-8.

Solomon calls on us to obey the government’s laws. Why?

It is the right course, and it is the prudent course.

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 8:9-13.

What is Solomon concluding about obeying God?

  • It is the better way to go regardless of what we see. We see wicked people getting away with things and, when judgment is not swift, it tempts others to do the same.

Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 8:14-17.

So what is Solomon saying will happen if we follow all of his good advice?

  • We will not escape the meaningless of life (v. 14).
  • The best we can do is to enjoy the good things life has to offer (v. 15).
  • No one is able to comprehend what God has done or is doing and those who claim to know are just deceiving themselves (v. 17).

Section Three: The Christian’s Advantage

Have someone in your group read Romans 2:12-24.

Is there some special merit in having a religion based upon high moral standards?

  • Paul says no. What Paul is saying is that human beings have been created by God as moral creatures. Mankind is driven by human nature to make moral distinctions, and so to establish codes of right and wrong behavior. Even cultures that have never imagined that God might reveal His standards to them do have standards. Therefore, the existence of these moral standards makes it possible for God to be totally far when he judges.
  • Paul points out further that every person fails to live up to even his own standards, as his own conscience testifies.

What is Paul telling us in all of this?

  • It is not enough to know what is right, but we must also do what is right. What counts is living by our moral beliefs.

Have someone in your group read Romans 3:9-20.

What is the point that Paul is arguing?

  • Each person is aware of the gap between his or her moral standards and their actions.

That is why, “through the Law, we become conscious of sin.” (v. 20)

Why is it so wrong to use high moral standards to contradict Christianity’s claim to superiority?

  • The higher the standards, the more severe the judgment when we fail because these are our own self-imposed standards.

What do you see at this point, is the main difference between Christianity and other religions?

Re-read Ecclesiastes 7:20 to your group.

Other religions have high moral standards, but only Christianity provides a solution to the problem that Solomon describes. Only Christianity meets the sinner, not with more demands, but with the Good News that God loves us and offers us forgiveness based upon Christ’s sacrifice for our sins.

Have someone in your group read Romans 8:1-11.

What is the law of the Spirit of life?

  • The Holy Spirit Himself, who enters the believer and enables the believer must have to live righteously.

Bible Truth Being Taught

Only faith in Christ and reliance on the Holy Spirit can enable a person to do what he or she knows is right.

Our Response

To rely on the Holy Spirit and choose to do what we know is right.

The Church Family

I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea an that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.

~Romans 15:30-32

Lesson54-image001Materials Needed: None.

Notes to the Leader: This study builds a picture of the Christian Church by looking at the Apostle Paul and his relationships with the early Christians in Rome. It is best done in a group where people attend church regularly or have strong feelings about church attendance. Group discussion could be guided to assist someone in finding the answer to the difficult question, “How do I know if this church is right for me and my family?”

Introduction

If you or any one in your study group have ever moved from one state to another, share the differences you found between the welcome that you received from your new neighbors and the new church you finally settled into.

The sharing of a common Savior should have left you with immediate acceptance from your new church members. They should have accepted you at your face value. While meeting neighbors is often pleasant and leads to close friendships over time, membership in Christ’s church should cut through any introductory period.

Read Mark 10:29-30 to your group.

What is the truth (the promise) that Jesus is making to each of us?

  • This promise tells followers of Jesus to expect to be part of a family. He teaches us to expect much more out of going to church that being with a crowd of strangers.

Who are the people that Christ has described as sisters, mothers, brothers, and children?

  • The women of the church are “sisters,” older women are “mothers,” men of the church are “brothers,” church children are our children to care for and influence.

Can a church survive with a homogeneous congregation? That is, all of the same age groups, same interests, same ideals, etc.?

  • If we use Christ’s model of the family, we would find the opposite of homogeneity within a healthy, growing church. According to Paul, homogeneity breeds death.

Section One: Expressing Christian Unity

Have someone in your group read Romans 15:22-23.

What is the difference with respect to relationships that can be found between two believers versus two non-believers?

To further the discussion, read 1 Corinthians 12:13 and Romans 12:5 to your group.

  • The believer becomes part of the body of Christ when he receives Jesus. From that moment, the believer shares a bond with others who have received the Lord.

Is this bond symbolic or real?

  • The bond is real. Believers share the same Spirit. Paul talked of longing to see them. If we truly comprehend God’s gift of fellowship, we should long to spend time with each other, to meet other Christians around our city, state, country and the world.

Have someone in your group read Romans 15:24.

What is the commitment Paul is making to the people of the Christian church in Rome?

  • Spend time together. Paul uses the Greek word sunegmenoi meaning to be brought, gathered, convened, or drawn together; with emphasis upon someone or something drawing them to the gathering.

What is God’s motive behind this togetherness?

  • To work together for Christ and to enjoy each other.
  • If someone who believes in Christ, who would also claim to be a Christian, remains reluctant to spend time in fellowship with other Christians, what could the problem be?
  • Deliberate, habitual separation from other believers is evidence of failure to grasp the essential unity of the body of Christ.

For follow-up to the previous question, read Hebrews 10:24-25 to your group.

Have someone in your group read Romans 15:25-27.

What is the reason you see in these verses for Christian fellowship?

  • So that we may see the hardships of our Christian friends and provide help.

Have someone in your group read Romans 15:30-33.

How did Paul feel about asking strangers to pray for him?

  • Paul had no reluctance. Paul had never met most of the Romans he was writing to.

What did Paul ask them to pray for?

  • For him to be rescued from unbelievers in Judea (he’d faced their opposition before, Acts 9:28-29). His protection is recorded in Acts 21:31.
  • His hope that the offering he collected would be accepted by the Jerusalem Christians (his gift was a Gentile gift). The answer is found in Acts 21:17-20.
  • His desire to arrive in Rome by God’s will (Acts 28).
  • When he arrived in Rome the believers would be spiritually refreshed (the answer in Acts 28:15, 30-31).

Section Two: Paul Travels to Spain

Paul wanted to visit Spain because:

  • It was viewed as the outer limits of civilization. Paul wanted to carry the Good News so far that it could go no farther; and
  • Spain held many great minds and people. Paul thought that if he could reach some of those great orators, Christianity would spread faster and farther.

Section Three: The Design For The Christian Church

Have someone in your group read Romans 16:1-15. Ask them to listen carefully to the greeting.

By this type of greeting, where did Paul place his emphasis in the Church?

  • People — Paul could care less about the temples. He cared for the people.

What else do you notice about the list of people?

  • Women played an important role in the early church. Paul mentions 9 by name and two referenced but without names.

Notes: (vv. 1-2) Phoebe was a Christian “sister” a fellow member of God’s family. She was a servant of the church in Cenchrea. Paul uses the Greek word diakonon, a word without gender used for deacon. The word also translates to minister.

Re-read Romans 16:5 & 8 to your group.

What can you tell about the depth of Paul’s friendships?

  • Paul was not a roll-in, convert them, and hit the road evangelist. He developed deep relationships with the people he converted. Amphilatus was a slave that became a pastor in a Roman church.

Re-read Romans 16:5, & 11 to your group.

What were the characteristics of the “household” churches of early Christian history?

  • The head of the family, household, was probably the spiritual leader and a male.
  • The household included all of the family members.
  • The household also included the servants/slaves/laborers associated with running the household.

How is this model different in today’s average household?

  • We have lost the “head of the household” concept in our families today. The male has also relinquished his role as the head. Today, it is rare to find the average family interested in the spiritual well-being of the entire family (i.e., children) and even rarer to find a household interested in the people that flow through it each day in support of its operation (i.e., baby sitters, lawn care, painters, maids, etc.).

Section Four: Early Church History

Notes: This is some additional information you may want to share with your class:

  • Pastoral and other leadership rose out of the churches themselves. The Lord gave pastoral, teaching, prophetic, evangelistic, and other gifts needed for spiritual care and growth (see Ephesians 4:11). Meetings were marked by mutual sharing (see 1 Corinthians 14:24-33)

Read Romans 16:10-11 to your group.

  • The family of Aristobulus (v. 10) was from the grandson of King Herod the Great. Herodion may have been a leader and was also thought to be related to Herod. Narcissus became Emperor Claudius’s personal secretary. While it is not known whether the actual heads of the households were Christians, Paul’s writings indicate that part of their households were.

Read Romans 15:13 to your group.

  • Also referencing Mark 15:21, Rufus can be traced to being one of the sons of Simon, the man forced to carry Christ’s cross. This experience for Simon was so great that he raised his two sons (Alexander and Rufus to be Christians and to Simon’s own wife, the mother of Rufus. Paul wrote, “has been a mother to me, too.”

Section Five: The Christian Greeting

Read Romans 16:16 to your group.

What is so special about using a kiss to greet someone?

  • A kiss is very personal. It is reserved for those we hold dearest to us. It is personal, intimate, demonstrates caring and love.

If you were to be a fly on the wall of your home or church entrance, how would you rate your upholding of Paul’s calling in verse 16? [Pick only one]

  • Lot’s of hugs and kisses. Loving home or church. Knew what Paul meant by this verse.
  • Fifty – fifty hugs and handshakes. Some people care for each other but everyone is cordial.
  • Once saw a hug and a holy kiss but, then, they had not seen each other for a year.
  • Are you kidding? You could get anthrax or something by doing this kind of thing.

Have someone in your group read Romans 16:21-23.

Was Paul’s attitudes about fellowship unique?

  • Hardly. Those with him, Timothy and Tertius, both shared the attitude of love and fellowship for the Romans even though they had never met.

Section Six: Summary

Have someone in your group read Romans 16:25-27.

Paul really writes his summary for Romans in his doxology. What do you see/hear in his closing statements?

  • It was written to make people able to establish relationship with God (v. 25).
  • It is where Paul preached and Jesus Christ offers (v. 25).
  • It is a trend toward which history has been moving for “long ages past” (v. 25).
  • It delivers results which bring about a spiritual family — a body of believing, obedient people of “all nations” (v. 26).
  • It is a message through which God receives glory (v. 27).

Bible Truth Being Taught

The body of Christ, the Church, defined as a longing to be with fellow members, praying for one another, serving one another’s needs, and maintaining personally connected to one another.

Our Response

That each of us are to deliberately act to strengthen our relationships with the other members of the body of Christ.

God’s Discipline

Now therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.

~2 Samuel 12:10

Lesson51-image001Materials Needed: None.

Notes to the Leader: This study has a lot of history and is not oriented for active discussion unless your group is very knowledgeable about Bible history. The leader must do a lot of the talking. There is an excellent opportunity to have your group do Scripture reading in that there are many verses to read and think about. Use this study to get people comfortable with reading to each other and to looking up verses in the Old Testament.

Introduction

Share with your group: The two most remembered historical events of King David’s life are probably when he killed Goliath and when he fell victim to his want of Bathsheba. This can be remembered as David’s great moment of victory and his great moment of defeat. With Goliath, David’s complete faith in God and His strength established that in faith, we can overcome insurmountable obstacles. However, David’s response to his temptations brought about by seeing Bathsheba reinforces the reality of sin. While forgiveness is brought forth with repentance, it does not necessarily remove the consequence of sin.

Section One: The Sin

Have someone in your group read 2 Samuel 11:1-5. He was a great warrior and normally was with his troops. Now note verse 1.

Why do you think that David was staying behind in Jerusalem?

  • While David had experienced a life of many hardships overcome by his dependence on God, he now was experiencing the good life. For David, this was a time of peace and prosperity.

Why do you think that times of peace and/or prosperity make people particularly vulnerable to sin?

  • People often cease to rely on God.
  • Idle time is also a breeding ground for sin. In David’s case, he should have been with his men, occupied with the responsibilities of war.

Read Leviticus 20:10 to your group. Even though David was king, the penalty was clear. This was the gravity of the sin between David and Bathsheba. Now David is a king and very powerful.

His position no doubt placed fear in many a person’s heart. Do you blame Bathsheba for what she did or was she simply a victim of David’s position and power?

  • A sin is a sin (read Leviticus 5:17). Bathsheba was married and the Jewish law was clear. We can speculate that Bathsheba was also enthralled with the idea that the King of Israel found her attractive.

Have someone in your group read 2 Samuel 12:9.

The letter written by David made him the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband.

What drove David to become a murderer?

  • Absolute authority has a strong tendency to corrupt those who possess it. The only one who can maintain absolute authority without sin is God.

The trap of escalation. David began only with temptation. Once out of hand, it led to adultery. From this, Bathsheba’s pregnancy was about to force their sin into the public. With fear, David began his plan of murder. It even entrapped his friend Joab (who ultimately carried out a plan that killed Uriah). Read Romans 1:21-32 for an excellent example of how great sin can come from simple acts such as failing to place God first.

Section Two: Accountability

This is an example of the importance of accountable relationships. Nathan was God’s prophet and David’s close friend. When David failed to repent, God used Nathan to stir David’s conscience.

Do you have someone in your life that loves you enough to do the same?

  • The only acceptable answers are either: yes or no, but I am going to start building one as soon as this bible study class ends today.

Note: Do remember that accountable relationships take time to build. If you have one or two in a life time, you should consider yourself blessed.

Have someone in your group read 2 Samuel 12:1-4.

Why do you think that parables are so effective for teaching?

There are probably many reasons. The fact that Christ used them testifies to their value and effectiveness. However, in David’s case, he was blind to his own sin but could see it more clearly in a parable about others. This is part of the power of fellowship and accountable relationships. They all work together with the Holy Spirit to convict each of us so that we may transform ourselves into Christ-like people.

Have someone in your group read 2 Samuel 12:7.

Note: This is where the parable is turned into a lesson for the heart of David.

Now read 2 Samuel 12:13 to your group.

While David’s response is one of repentance, what are two key elements that make his repentance acceptable to God?

  • First, David admits that he has sinned against the Lord. While he has used his position improperly, killed Uriah and wronged Bathsheba, David recognizes the authority of God by admitting that it was God who he wronged.
  • David admits that he is the only one to blame. He did not try to include others into his own mistakes.
  • We are reminded by Nathan’s comments that even though the penalty of David’s sin is death, it is God and only God who has the right to forgive David and remove the penalty of Death.

Do you see a New Testament metaphor in this act?

  • Christ and his work on the cross. Through Christ, and only Christ, our sins are forgiven provided we, as David did, come to full repentance.

Note: It is worthwhile to pause here and be reminded that not every action of God’s is in response to sin. While there are those who have lost children like Bathsheba, this study should not lead you to the conclusion that the death of a child or any other tragic event is because of someone’s sin. Each personal story is God’s to write, for His purpose, and in pursuit of His perfect will. Before we begin with this part of the lesson, review the following scripture:

  • Have someone in your group read John 9:1-3 – Disabilities or death cannot automatically be assigned to sin.
  • Have someone in your group read Isaiah 55:8-9 – God’s thoughts are not for us to always understand.

What was God trying to do with David?

  • God’s discipline and the consequences of David’s sin were real. However, it was not God’s intention to break David but to bring his personal relationship with God back on track.

Section Three: Amnon’s Sin

What can such a torrid part of history mean for the Christian today? Read the following verses and establish the characters for our modern day TV soap opera.

  • 2 Samuel 13:1 – We have the king’s son, Amnon, affluent, like our own children today and Tamar, a beautiful innocent young girl.
  • 2 Samuel 13:3 – The third person is Jonadab. He is the young friend of Amnon.

Note: Now imagine a young child today who is faced with the desire for something that is forbidden. It could be sex or drugs or anything sinful, the vary pressures on our children today. Peer pressure works its charm and soon we have a rape. How quickly the consequence of sin takes hold (see 2 Samuel 13:15). The lesson in all of this comes from studying David’s response to his children’s sin.

Section Four: Absalom’s Revenge

David lacked the will to discipline his children because of his own sins. Do you think an adult has the right to tell a child not to do something that the adult has done?

  • Here with David and with Eli (1 Samuel 2:22-24), their permissiveness style of raising of children did not please God. While we may find it difficult to offer discipline in areas that we are weak, not to discipline seems to be worse. God rejected these children in this plans for His nation. They paid a heavy price for their freedom as children.
  • David was to pay “fourfold” for his sin. (2 Samuel 12:6) Bathsheba’s child had died; Amnon had been killed; Absalom would also be killed (2 Samuel 18:14); and Adonijah, another son, would be executed (1 Kings 2:23-25).
A final review of David’s struggle
  • David longed to go to Absalom (2 Samuel 13:39)
  • Joab was aware of David’s longings for his son (2 Samuel 14:1) but not willing to bring him back.
  • Joab finally took control of the situation and sent a woman from Tekoa to David with a sad story about two sons. This was a parable similar to Nathan’s in that Joab wanted to motivate David into action.
  • David compromised the Law and forgave Absalom. Absalom was not led to repentance or punished. The permissiveness of David within his family continued and caused continual problems within his household. In essence, David’s permissiveness only led to the fulfillment of Nathan’s prophecy (2 Samuel 12:10-11).

Bible Truth Being Taught

God is the only authority over discipline. It is our faith in His perfect will that the consequences of one’s actions are for His purpose of salvation.

Our Response:

o understand that God’s discipline may be painful but that it is a result of God’s love for us. Permissiveness is not an act of love. It only leads to pain and destruction. We should be thankful that our God is not permissive.

Lost Opportunity

So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel. … Yet Jehu was not careful to keep the Law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart.

~2 Kings 10:28,31

Lesson50-image001Materials Needed: Whiteboard or easel.

Notes to the Leader: This is a study of four kings: Jehu; Joash; Jehoahaz; and Jehoash. Each missed an opportunity to help Israel experience God’s fullest blessings. Yet God gave His people opportunity after opportunity. This lesson points out one of the reasons we spend time in the Old Testament, to learn from the mistakes of our ancestors and to gain comfort from knowing that God is patience. However, the responsibility for action rests with each of us.

Introduction

Use this part of the lesson to let your group interact and become comfortable with sharing experiences.

Have you ever had a missed opportunity only to find later that another opportunity has come along? Please share.

Read this short story to your group.

“Betty went forward to dedicate her life to missionary service when she was 17. After high school she went to a Christian college to prepare. There she met Alan and began to date him. Betty told Alan she planned to be a missionary, but Alan had his eyes set on a career in business. The two were deeply in love and so, despite misgivings, Betty married Alan and gave up her plans for missions. Today, Alan is successful. He and Betty have two children and three grandchildren. But Betty often wonders if she was right to marry Alan.”

Do you think Betty was wrong to marry Alan?

Did Betty miss out on God’s best for her life?

If you think Betty was wrong, do you think God would give her other opportunities to experience His best?

  • There is no direct answer to these questions. It is not in our power to fully understand personal matters such as these. However, this lesson demonstrates God’s ability to provide more than one opportunity even when we may choose something contrary to what appears to be His service.

For added insight read Isaiah 30:21

Section One: Jehu

Have someone in your group read 2 Kings 9:6-10

Note: In the Scripture leading up to these verses, we find that God delayed Judgment on Ahab because of his apparent repentance after hearing the rebuke of Elijah. In choosing the military commander Jehu as the instrument to execute His judgment on Ahab’s line, God gave Jehu and Israel an opportunity to return to Him.

Now read 2 Kings 10:30-31 to your group.

How do you reconcile the fact that Jehu received blessings from God even though he was not careful to obey God’s law?

  • This is the hope of all Christians, for none are righteous. God limited the reign of Jehu’s decedents to only four generations, eventually bringing about the final defeat of Israel. God remained patient with Israel but did not tolerate their worship of idols.

Can you characterize this attribute of God with a more modern story?

  • While we are a blessed nation of wealth and abundance, God is consistent in that He does not tolerate mediocrity. What most people have and worship today (worldly things) is temporal. This not only means we loose it when we die but we can loose it in the here and now also. Please also note that because we may suffer hardships, that does not directly contrast with sin. In the end, we just cannot comprehend God’s full plan for us, our families, our country and this world. Ours must be a life of complete faith and trust in God.

Section Two: Joash

Have someone in your group read 2 Kings 12:2-8.

Note: Joash was enthusiastic about the reconstruction of the temple. He monitored the priests and when he found that results were not being produced, he revised the funding and construction plan.

What do you see wrong with Joash’s enthusiasm?

  • Joash waited 23 years before doing something about the lack of progress.

Now read 2 Kings 12:13-14 to your group. The money had been improperly used for glitter not substance.

Re-read 2 Kings 12:2 to your group. While Joash was under the direction of the high priest Jehoiada, he lived a righteous life. However, it is implied that as Jehoiada was removed from a direct day-to-day influence on Joash, he returned to things that distracted him from his enthusiasm.

Can you parallel Joash and Jehoiada with an example that we all deal with in today’s world?

  • While there may be many examples, one comes to mind. While we may find our selves impacting some young Christian through our living demonstration of the Gospel, the real question is what happens when we no longer have influence?

As children leave home, can they maintain their Christian beliefs even after parental influence has been removed?

Can a young, new Christian maintain their enthusiastic faith even if they move into a new town or different church?

Can a church survive the loss of a dynamic pastor?

How do we keep this from happening?

  • The finality of belief and faith are personal between God and each person. However, we can work to understand that to impact someone’s spiritual life, it will take prayer, commitment on your part, time, patience, love, etc.

Section Three: Jehoabaz

Make a list on your whiteboard or easel of the things people pray for.

Have your group look for any interesting patterns?

  • Typically, there is a heavy emphasis on petitions requesting God’s interaction with our lives. People tend to ask God for things, services, etc. And our God is generous, He answers our requests most frequently.

Have someone in your group read 2 Kings 13:1-9.

What do you think about God and Jehoahaz “seeking of the Lord’s favor?”

  • God demonstrates His patience and love continuously by overlooking the sinful nature of mankind and listening to our prayers.

Section Four: Jehoash

Have someone in your group read 2 Kings 13:14-19.

This is a story of stopping too soon. How can this story of Jehoash and Elisha, the prophet help us in today’s world?

  • This is an issue of obedience and persistence. Both can be detrimental to even the best of Christian intentions. It is not enough to share the Gospel once or twice, to seek the blessings of stewardship during times of abundance or to petition with deep repentance during times of great need. Each Christian is to do these things and more until God provides us clear direction and/or alternatives. Only God can determine when enough is enough.

Have someone in your group read 2 Kings 13:20-25.

This study and scripture has been about the lives and records of kings of both Judah and Israel who failed to seize opportunities to know God’s blessings.

What then does this short description of a dead man coming to life have to do with our study lesson?

  • The Hebrew kingdoms were dead spiritually, just like the man thrust into Elisha’s tomb. The people had turned to idolatry and leadership proved unwilling to grasp any of the opportunities God gave them to take the path of obedience and blessings. The restoration of the man whose body brushed against Elisha’s bones makes the answer clear. God has the power to restore the dead! It was only the unwillingness of the kings to respond when God opened the doorway to blessings that kept the two nations from experiencing the spiritual renewal symbolized by the restoration of life to the dead body.

Bible Truth Being Taught

God can restore those who are spiritually dead. However, seizing the opportunity is our responsibility.

Our Response

To understand that God invites us to experience His blessings by loving Him completely and serving Him with all our hearts.

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