For this study, please read the book of Ephesians, chapters 1-4. Here are some questions for discussion:
1:9-10 What does “the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure” refer to?
1:4-5 & 11 speak of predestination. What is your understanding of Paul’s meaning in using this term?
1:17 In verse 15, Paul had just stated that those he was writing to had been marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit, so why would he then continue to pray that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation? Wouldn’t someone with the Spirit of God dwelling in them already possess these things?
1:19-21 What is the relevance of this discussion of power to the preceding verses?
What is Paul’s purpose in writing this first chapter? Summarize and paraphrase his main points.
2:1 Why do you think Paul is drawing attention to this fact? Is there a connection to anything he said in the first chapter? If so, what is the point he is making?
2:3 Why are those who are without God’s Spirit “objects of wrath” by nature?
2:10 In what way are we God’s workmanship? What does it mean that God prepared good works in Christ Jesus for us to do? What works are we to do? And if we have works to do, how is it that we are saved by grace?
2:11 What is the reason Paul told the Gentiles to remember that there was a time when they were separate from Christ — without hope and without God in the world?
2:14 Explain the meaning of “he himself is our peace.” Who does the “two” made one refer to? What was the “dividing wall of hostility”?
3:2 This verse begins an interjection into what Paul was starting to say in verse one. Where does the interjection end? What was the purpose of the interjection? In other words, why did Paul feel it was important to include these verses before finishing his thought from 3:1?
3:17 What does it mean to have Christ dwelling in your heart?
3:18-21 These verses discuss again the power that should be at work in us, which links back to the prayer from 1:18-23. Why is this given such emphasis?
4:1 I consider this verse to be the key focal point of the whole book — Paul’s main purpose for writing the Ephesians — the discussion of which is also my motivation for sharing this study. Because of the length, it may take two studies to get here but, if possible, I wanted to maintain the continuity of thought that brought us to this point. The question I’ll conclude with, then, is:
What would a life worthy of the calling we have received be like?
In John 16:33, it is recorded that before he died, Jesus said “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Also, in 1 John 5:3-4 we are told, “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.”
From that, it is understood that the children of God are expected to overcome the world, following the example laid down by the Only Begotten Son of God. So imagine now that you are given an assignment for school, or a job to complete for work. How well do you think you would perform if you didn’t fully understand what the task required? With that principle in mind, for this study we’ll discuss what it means to “overcome the world.” In what ways did Jesus overcome the world? What are the things which we need to overcome? As our awareness of the responsibilities children of God have increases, what should that growing understanding produce in us? Please reflect upon the following scriptures as you consider your answers: Luke 10:19, Romans 12:21, 1 Timothy 5:11, 1 John 2:13-17 and 4:1-6.
For this study, please read Luke 18:1-30 and all of Hebrews 11.
In Luke 18:8, Jesus asked, “However when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”. How do you interpret the intention of his question? After all, there are many aspects and applications of faith — even superstitions are a form of faith. Do you take it to mean that it’s likely that faith will not exist at all prior to the Lord’s return, or was Jesus concerned with a narrower focus on the subject? Consider your answer in light of verses 1-30.
Starting with the parable of the persistent widow, what belief(s) might she have had that could have motivated and reinforced her persistence?
Now please turn to Hebrews 11 and analyze the examples of Cain and Abel, highlighted in verse 4. Are there any parallels between them and the Pharisee and tax collector from Luke 18:9-14? If so, what are they? Also, please consider the following questions:
- How can Abel still be speaking, even though he is dead?
- If he is still speaking, what is his message?
Returning to Luke 18, please discuss the faith demonstrated by the people in verse 15 and what we can learn from verses 16-17.
Next, what can be learned about the beliefs held by the rich ruler from his conversation with Jesus? What was the “one thing” he lacked? Why is it hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God? And to close out Luke 18 and segue back to Hebrews 11, what is the theme that ties verses 1-30 together? What connection is there between Luke 18:29-30 and Hebrews 11:6?
Finally, Hebrews 11 recounts several individual examples of applied faith. Please isolate the specific action taken in each case and then discuss what the individual must have believed in order to take the action they did.
For this week’s study, please read the following Scriptures:
John 18:4-8; Matt. 21:12-13; John 10:11-18 and Matt. 23:8-12
A Christian is identifiable as a Christian, in part, by their character; and character is to a great degree shaped by how we answer two questions:
- How do you use the power committed unto you?
- How do you respond to injustices, both personal and general?
In our last two studies, we discussed the subject of judgment; and we know that a Day is coming when everyone will be judged for how they lived and the character they developed. Bearing these things in mind, what do the above Scriptures have to teach us about a Christian’s use of power and how we are to respond to injustice?
Some additional questions:
1. Was the arrest of Jesus an example of justice? What caused all those who were gathered together to arrest Jesus to draw back and fall to the ground? (John 18:6) What does the answer to that question imply about the reality of the situation?
2. As it applies to power and its use, what is different between the Lord’s example from John 18:4-8, and his behavior in Matt 21:12-13?
3. Putting all these Scriptures together, is a Christian expected to use power differently when responding to personal injustices versus those which broadly impact others?
4. From an eternal perspective, why is this an important topic?
May the Spirit of God guide and direct you in your study.
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?
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!
The topic for this particular study discussion is Psalm 106.
- What is the purpose of this psalm? How would you summarize it, and why do you think it was written?
- 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?
- 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!