Open Study Discussion: Judgement

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made the statement, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”  (Matt. 7:1)  If someone today says, “Don’t judge me” when confronted regarding a particular wrong-doing, is that a proper application of the intent of Jesus’s words, or is such a usage simply a way to dismiss accountability for sin? Does “Do not judge” mean we should avoid making any type of judgements?  If not, what are some judgements we are to make?  And, if we do make them, how should those judgements be exercised?  What is the most important judgement that anyone can and should make?  What is/are the judgement(s) that we are to avoid making, that Jesus was referring to in verse 1?  Please utilize any Scriptures you can locate to support your answers.

What type of spiritual attributes would you expect to be developed in an individual who always kept verse 2 in mind when interacting with others?

Define what a hypocrite is.  How do verses 3-5 tie in to the subject of judgement?  What motivation might a person with “a plank” in their eye have for offering to remove a “speck” from their brother’s eye?  What does verse 5 teach us about dealing with sin?

Verse 6 requires discernment if it is to be put into practice, and the judgement it asks you to make is certainly not a flattering one.  Explain what you think Jesus meant.  Can you find any other statements he made that correspond to this command?  (Notice that do not is a command, not merely a suggestion)  Can you find any examples in the new testament of this principle being put into practice?

Finally, do you view verse 7 as a transition to a new and separate topic, or as a continuation of the train of thought from verses 1-6?  What is the rationale in support of your answer?

Ecclesiastes Open Study Discussion

Hi all,
This open study discussion will be from the book of Ecclesiastes.  Your participation is always welcome!
Ecc. 1:2 — Solomon says, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”  The NIV translates this as “Meaningless! Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.”  What do you think he meant by that?  Do you agree with him?  Why or why not?
1:18 — In what way does growing in wisdom bring sorrow and why would increasing in knowledge add more grief?
2:13 — Is it contradictory for Solomon to claim that wisdom brings sorrow, and then say “wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness”?  Support your reasoning.
2:15-16 — Since the fate of  the wise man and the fool are the same, in that both must eventually die, what does a person gain by being wise?
3:10-14 — How do you interpret these verses?  What is the burden God has laid on men, which Solomon references in verse 10?
5:18-20 and 8:15 have a similar message; one which appears to be opposed to the statement in 7:2-4.  How would you reconcile these passages?  How can a sad face be good for the heart?
7:8 — Why is the end of a matter better than its beginning?  How is patience better than pride?
Like the sun which rises and sets only to hurry back to where it rises, and the streams which return to the sea from whence they came, Solomon concludes the book back where he began it — with the observation that all is vanity. (1:2 and 12:8)  What was the main point of chapters 1-12?  What do you think he wanted his audience to understand?  If someone asked you what the meaning of life is, what would your answer be?
I look forward to hearing from you!  As always, I will make it a point to reply back to all responses!
Regards,
Adam

Psalm 106: Open Study Discussion

The topic for this particular study discussion is Psalm 106.

  1.  What is the purpose of this psalm?  How would you summarize it, and why do you think it was written?
  2. The author of the psalm counsels that all people should praise God, yet when he expounds upon his reasons why, he speaks only of events that occurred centuries before his lifetime, rather than providing examples of God’s personal involvement in his own life.  What might his reason(s) for doing so have been?
  3. The psalmist’s lifetime was far removed the day in which the events he referenced occurred, and today, we are more than 2,ooo years farther removed from when the psalm was written.  After the passage of so much time, what relevance does the psalm retain for you?  What lessons can still be learned from the events of which it speaks?

As I read this psalm, some of the verses that stood out to me as discussion points were verses 3, 19-20, and 36.  To my mind, the Exodus of the Israelite’s has many parallels to the trials and tests a Christian will be faced with as they walk with God.  With that in mind, here are some additional questions regarding these specific verses:

Verse 3:  Why is it so difficult to constantly do what is right?  How does one become more consistent in doing right?

Verses 19-20:  What do the gods a person worships reveal about that person?  What would you say the idol the Israelite’s cast and worshiped at Horeb indicates about them?

Verse 36 states, “They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them.”  Since an idol is a lifeless thing, how is it possible that it could become a snare to them, or have any effect on them at all?  How might its influence manifest itself in their lives?   Construct a train of thought that connects these verses together.

As always, I look forward to your input!

 

 

Open study discussion

Hi all,

During his time on earth, Jesus had much to say about the cost of being his disciple and the responsibilities inherent to being a Christian.  For this study we’ll be exploring some of the passages relevant to these themes.  The first three relate to the cost of following Jesus.  They are:

Luke 9:57-62

1.  Why do you think these short snippets of conversation are included in the gospel account?

2.  What connection does the Lord’s response in verse 58 have to the statement which prompted it?  What is the take-away of the entire passage for would-be Christians today?

Luke 14:15-35

1.  Why do you think Jesus chose to answer the statement made in verse 15 with the parable in verses 16-24?

2.  Think of the responses given by those who were invited to the banquet, and then read Matt. 9:37.  Do you think there is a connection?

3.  In verse 27, Jesus states, “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”  This is a hard statement, isn’t it?  What does “carry his cross and follow him” mean to you?

4.  Pair verse 27 with John 12:25-26.  Compare the standard outlined in these two short scriptures with the modern view of what being a Christian means.  In your opinion, are the standards consistent?  Why or why not?

5.  What is the point Jesus is making by following the pronouncement in verse 27 with what he says from verses 28-35?

and Matt. 10: 34-39

1.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), so why would he ever make the statement found in verses 34-36, and how can it be reconciled with what he says at the end of Mark 9:50?  How should we properly understand this passage?

2.  Based on this passage, should a Christian be at peace with the world?  Why or why not?

Let’s conclude with two passages that address the responsibilities inherent to the Christian calling:  Matt. 5:13-16 and Mark 4:13-29.

1.  List as many qualities and attributes of salt and light as you can.  How do these qualities correlate to the attributes the Lord expects his followers to possess?

2.  In the context of Mark 4:21-23, and also in the larger context of this study, what do you think verse 22 refers to?

3.  When you combine Mark 4:13-19 with another parable Jesus gave regarding a wedding banquet, found in Matt. 22:1-14, what is the message you come up with?

Open Study Discussion

Hi all,

The first passage for this study is 1 Cor.  2: 6-16.

1.  What is the “wisdom of this age” in verse 6?  What type of counsel and instruction might a person with this sort of wisdom impart to you, if you were their protege?  List the attributes and qualities that an individual would develop if they embraced this wisdom.

2.  What does “God’s secret wisdom”, or the wisdom of the Spirit, found in verse 7 refer to?  List the character attributes and personal qualities you would expect to be produced as a result of this type of wisdom.  Compare the lists and contrast the teachings of these two groups.  Are there any similarities?

3.  Can you paraphrase verse 11 in your own words?  What is Paul’s meaning, and what is the implication of it?

Next, please read all of Numbers 13 and 14:1-38, then read 1 Sam. 17: 4-11; 32-37; and 45-50.  Contrast the perspectives of both Israelite armies with that of Joshua, Caleb, and David.

4.  The way we view the world and the events that occur in it is shaped by our belief system which, in turn, is influenced by the perspectives of the people we interact with, and vice versa.  Within that context, use the two preceding accounts, along with the implication of 1 Cor. 2: 11, to construct an argument advocating for the benefits of baptism.

As always, I look forward to your input!

Open study discussion(The Beatitudes)

Greetings, friends!  This study will be on Matt. 5:1-10.

The sermon on the mount begins with what are known as the Beatitudes.  What do you suppose Jesus’s reason was for starting his instruction with them?

What does it mean to be poor in spirit?

Verse 4 states that those who mourn are blessed.  Why?  The reason provided is the fact that they will be comforted.  But to mourn is to grieve deeply — and no one enjoys having things to be sad about.   Wouldn’t it be better to not have things to be grieved about than to be comforted after the fact?  What do you think this verse really means?  In the context of the sermon, might there be specific things we ought to be mourning if we are to be considered as blessed?  If so, what might they be?

How do you define meekness?  How does it differ from being poor in spirit?

What does it mean to be pure in heart?  What do you think Jesus meant when he said the pure in heart will see God?

Now step back from viewing each beatitude individually and examine them collectively.  Do you see a logical progression to the Lord’s train of thought?  Please elaborate on your answer.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Open Study Discussions

Hi all!

 

For this study, we’ll be  discussing 4 short sets of scriptures which, when the dots are connected, draw a picture of dueling perspectives.  The first passage for everyone to read is Ephesians 4:17-24, and the questions to discuss from it are as follows:

1.  What is “futile” or “vain” about the thinking of the Gentiles?

2.  How are their hearts hardened?  What does this mean, and what is the ignorance that is in them?

3.  What is the end result of this futile thinking and hardening of the heart?

4.  To what is Paul referring when he speaks of “the truth that is in Jesus”?

5.  Give examples of deceitful desires and how they can corrupt.

The remaining set is 2 Corinthians 12:1-6, Philippians 3:7-12 and Ephesians 3:16-21.

How might the experience Paul recorded in 2 Cor. 12 have informed his sentiments expressed in Ph. 3:7-12 and Eph. 3:16-21?

Putting it all together now, think about what your individual goals are.  What do you desire from the life that lies before you?  How should these Scriptures govern your way of life, and your expectations for it?

I look forward to the discussion!