Stick With It

March 31, 2009 Leave a comment

First, before we get to this weeks study I wanted to make you aware that we are now on Twitter. Follow us here.

Second, if you haven’t seen it yet, we are really excited about our new Sermon Videos Site. We hope you grow from it and also add your favorite sermons from YouTube or upload them right to the site.

OK, now on to the study.

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But Benjamin’s warriors . . . came out and killed twenty-two thousand Israelites on the battlefield that day. –Judges 20:21 (NLT)

In an effort to deal with a serious sin committed by the Tribe of Benjamin, Israel went to war against her and lost 22,000 men. Israel knew their cause was right, but the casualties caused them to reconsider if war was the answer. They asked the Lord if this was what they should be doing, and He assured them that it was (Judges 20:23).

Israel went to war against Benjamin the next day, and this time they lost another 18,000 soldiers. This wasn’t the result they were expecting. God had told them to do this. They knew it was the right thing. But why were there so many casualties?

Again, they sought God’s will, and He assured them that this was what they were supposed to do-despite their previous losses. So for the third day in a row, Israel went to war against Benjamin. However, this time they prevailed (Judges 20:28-48).

While the Lord probably isn’t calling many of us to be involved with war, we are going to be engaged in conflicts that are spiritual in nature. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we are at war against spiritual powers in heavenly places. Whether we realize it or not, we’re waging war against the spirit world right now.

Battles are taking place all around us. Marriages need rescuing, spouses need saving, the hurting need healing, and our own hearts need cleansing. But what do we do when the battle doesn’t seem to be going our way? Two options are open to us. We can fold and surrender. Or we can do what Israel did. We can stick with the war-even when it looks like we’re losing it.

Discuss, Dig, Decide:

Discuss perseverance with your group. Share about a time when you were clearly following the will of God but the results weren’t what you expected. How did this affect your faith?

Dig into Judges 20:20-48. What lesson can we learn here? How do the disturbing accounts of warfare and death remind you of the consequences of sin? How would you have responded if you had been leading Israel?

Decide as a group to come to the aid of someone who has been bruised in battle. Is there a war veteran in your church or community that you and your group could bless in some way? Show the person gratitude for his or her perseverance, and offer an expression of thanks.

This study is from Pastor Bob Coy of The Active Word.

View more bible studies from Judges.

It’s How You Finish

March 16, 2009 1 comment

Gideon made a sacred ephod . . . . soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his family. –Judges 8:27 (NLT)

The battles were all over, all of the enemies were dead & once again it was peaceful and safe in Israel. Sounds great, right? It could have been, but unfortunately for Gideon, the glow of past victories blinded him to this simple fact: A great past doesn’t guarantee a glorious future.

Gideon did something in Judges Chapter 8 that would have seemed unthinkable back in Judges Chapter 6. When the fighting was all over, he made an ephod, which was an object of worship in those days. Keep in mind that the first thing God told Gideon to do was to tear down his own father’s pagan altar of worship.

So we see Gideon repeating his father’s sins, and sadly, all the people of Israel followed him. Even more sad, this is the note Gideon’s life ends on, leaving him with a tarnished legacy complete with a spiritual asterisk next to his name.

What did Gideon do that took him so far off course? It’s not what he did. It’s what he didn’t do. He didn’t keep up on his relationship with the Lord. He let the spiritual things in his life go. He let them slip. And he let them drift. This is exactly what we are warned against in Hebrews:

So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. (Hebrews 2:1 NLT)

Simply put, the danger of drifting away from God’s truth is real. We see it in Gideon’s life, and it’s a sober reminder that it’s how you finish that really matters, not how you start.

Discuss, Dig, Decide:

Discuss and share with your group the tragedy of failing to finish strong. Who do you think of when you think of someone who finished strong? Who comes to mind as someone who didn’t finish well? What happened ?

Dig into Judges 8:22-35. What change do you see in Gideon’s heart? How did his choices affect the future of Israel? What legacy did Gideon leave? How does this story inspire you?

Decide with your group to guard against a faltering finish. Establish some group accountability to help maintain your spiritual health. Connect weekly to encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

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Free Video Sermons to Help You Grow

March 9, 2009 4 comments

Instead of a bible study this week I wanted to share with you a very new project we launched this week. We’ve created a little community where we and you can post our favor video sermons. We love video sermons because you are able to capture the passion, emotion and Spirit behind the words of the teacher.

Click here to visit the site.

The best part is you can upload video sermons you love or even share ones you’ve found on YouTube. Please share with us all so we can all grow!

Please know that we do hold each submitted sermon and it will not show up until we approve. We do this to prevent abuse of the system and so that no sermon is submitted that has questionable biblical doctrine.

Make It Right

February 25, 2009 1 comment

If you are a thief, stop stealing. Begin using your hands for honest work, and then give generously to others in need. -Ephesians 4:28 (NLT)

If you’ve ever been guilty of stealing on a consistent basis, you know what it’s like when the Holy Spirit comes into your heart and puts His finger on that area of your life. Not only is there an understanding that this way of life needs to stop, but there’s also a desire to repay and make restitution.

That’s what’s being described for us here in the Book of Ephesians, and it’s the same spirit Zacchaeus had when He had a heart-to-heart encounter with Jesus:

Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” (Luke 19:8 NKJV)

Undoubtedly, there were those who Zacchaeus had cheated at the tax table. But he wouldn’t be content to sweep them under the rug. After being in Christ’s presence, he knew what he had to do. He had to make personal restitution to those that he had stolen from.

If that doesn’t also happen in our hearts, then something is drastically off. It ought to become our personal mission to make things right with the people we’ve ripped off. That’s because our nature changes from “taker” to “giver” once God’s Spirit resides within us.

It may be uncomfortable, it may be awkward, it may even be risky to own up and give back to those whom you’ve taken from. But know this: It will also be right, and that’s the real measure of what we should do. If you’ve stolen from someone, then make it right by giving back.

Discuss, Dig, Decide

Discuss and share with your group the importance of righting your wrongs. Share about a time when you have seen restitution done right. What impact did it make?

Dig into Ephesians 4:28. What is the specific instruction given here? Why is this critical for the Christian to understand? Dig into Luke 19:1-10. How does Jesus respond to Zacchaeus’ willingness to give back? What does giving back reveal to the victim about the giver?

Decide as a group to make restitution a priority. Challenge your group to do their own “moral inventory” to discover where there needs to be genuine repentance followed by restitution. Share with each other next week how God was glorified by your willingness to right your wrongs.

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Always Provides An Escape

January 29, 2009 Leave a comment

God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

“I couldn’t help it! There was no way out! I had no choice!” Have you ever found yourself leaning on these excuses after you’ve stumbled in a specific area of sin? It sounds OK at first, but deep down in your heart you know it isn’t true.

Here’s what is true: God always provides an escape for us when we’re tempted. If we sin it’s because we choose to, not because we have no choice but to. No matter what the conditions or circumstances, God always gives us the option of righteousness in the midst of sinfulness. Always.

“That sounds great and all, but if God is really giving me a way out, why am I always falling? I never seem to be able to find that fire escape.” Understand, God’s way of escape isn’t outside but inside of you. It’s the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, who resides within each and every believer (Ephesians 1:13).

When temptations arise, we need to drop whatever we’re doing and ask God to strengthen us according to the power of His Spirit within us. “Lord, I know I can’t handle this. But I know you can. So please fill me with your strength so I can resist.” When we sincerely pray that prayer, we’ll find the strength to escape the sinful snares that tempt us (Galatians 5:18-25).

God always provides a way of escape for us, and it’s actually inside of us. But the question is whether or not we’re willing to use it.

Discuss, Dig, Decide

Discuss God’s plan for facing temptation. Talk about the patterns of behavior you see in most people who face temptation. How should it be different for a Christian?

Dig into 1 Corinthians 10:13. What does this verse tell you about God’s love and care for those feeling entrapped by the evil one? What is the responsibility of the person being tempted? How have you found this verse to be true in your own life? How are you relying on His Spirit to keep you from stumbling?

Decide to establish some accountability and encouragement among those in your group who are ready to get serious about eliminating sinful patterns in their lives. Define a “prevention plan” and an “escape route” to put into practice. Exchange phone numbers so that a timely call for support and encouragement can be made in the face of temptation.

Study by Pastor Bob Coy of The Active Word.

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Always Willing To Forgive

January 15, 2009 3 comments

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. –1 Timothy 1:15 (NKJV)

Ever consider yourself beyond forgiveness? Have you ever done something so horrible, so heinous, so hideous that you can only shake your head and ask yourself, “What was I thinking?” It’s in these moments that a thought can begin to sprout in our minds, a notion that our sin has exceeded God’s grace and that He’s unable or unwilling to forgive us.

Paul’s life proves otherwise. If God ranked our sin, Paul’s would be a solid ten. The Bible tells us that prior to his conversion, he was completely committed to wiping out every trace of Christianity. He was there holding the robes of those who executed Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and soon he was rounding up Christians and throwing them into prison (Acts 8:1-3, Acts 22:20). He even forced them to blaspheme Christ (Acts 26:11) and killed those who would not renounce their faith (Acts 22:4).

So Paul isn’t exaggerating or being diplomatic when he identifies himself as the chief sinner. If there was ever a person who seemed worthy of being disqualified from God’s forgiveness, it was certainly Paul. And yet, the astounding truth is that God was still willing to forgive Him. In fact, Paul points out that God forgave him in order to demonstrate that anybody can find forgiveness:

However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. (1 Timothy 1:16 NKJV)

God is always willing to forgive, no matter what we’ve done or how far we’ve run from Him. That’s a truth that ought to embolden and humble us.

Discuss, Dig, Decide

Discuss forgiveness with your group. Would you agree or disagree that God is always ready to forgive us, regardless of our sin? What Scriptures support your position? Why do you think we find forgiveness so difficult?

Dig into 1 Timothy 1:12-16. How does Paul view the mercy and grace of God? Read Luke 19:10. How do these two passages reveal God’s heart to forgive? How have you experienced the truth of these passages?

Decide as a group to memorize some key passages that can be recalled as you face the accusations of the deceiver. Memorize verses like 1 John 1:9 and Romans 5:8-10. Learn the value of confronting lies with truth, and as a group, begin to exercise the Scripture memory muscles God gave you!

2 Timothy Bible Studies

A Gift to Grow By

December 8, 2008 2 comments

“If you knew . . . you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10 (NKJV)

A few Christmases ago, my wife and I decided that from that point forward we would give our children gifts that would be both enjoyable and educational. As much as I appreciate the value of enjoyment and entertainment, I also understand the added value of receiving something that offers the opportunity to learn. The benefits go way beyond the knowledge they gain; for as they open themselves to learn, it also opens the opportunity for me to teach as I come alongside them. “Christian, Caitlyn, here’s how you put that together.” And in the process of teaching and learning, we grow together and our relationship is deepened.

God hopes to do the same thing with us when it comes to the gift of His Son. There’s so much to be learned from Jesus. From the moment we accepted Him into our hearts, we were immersed into a new world of learning and divine discovery. As we continue to open ourselves to know and understand Him better, God sends His Spirit to teach and instruct us about this wonderful gift:

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. & But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things . . .” (John 14:10, 26 NKJV)
Jesus made a powerful point to the woman at the well in John’s gospel. After they had gone back and forth a bit, Jesus cut to the chase. He told her that if she would accept God’s gift, He would teach her what it meant to find true and lasting satisfaction. She would be set free from the world’s dryness.

Jesus is certainly an enjoyable gift, but He’s also an educational gift. He never leaves us as we are but is always seeking to grow us and take us deeper into the ways of God. The question is whether or not we’re willing to learn.

Discuss with your group the greatest gift you ever received at Christmas. What was it and who gave it to you?

Dig into John 14:23-26. What promises are offered here? What does this tell you about Jesus’ love for you? How have you found verse 26 to be true in your life? Why is it essential to understand this truth?

Decide to journal about what Jesus has taught you recently. What lessons have you been learning? Record some things His Spirit has revealed to you.