Deposed - 2 Samuel 15:1-30

1.      Where do you find it most difficult to wait your turn? (Record answers on the board.)

2.      Why are we so impatient?

3.      When can impatience be dangerous?

4.      Think about a time when your impatience and/or ambition overrode good sense. What were the consequences? (Lead your class to suggest situations where impatience has widespread consequences.)

5.      Speaking of ambition, when is it good and true? (Beyond business or politics, we could include reaching people for Jesus, being good parents, becoming the best you can be in your field, championing your child’s accomplishments, exceeding today what you contributed yesterday, setting wise goals, making the most of your time, etc.)

6.      When is ambition selfish and hurtful? (When it is all about you and getting more or getting that promotion at all cost! Motive is the difference between good and bad ambition.)

7.      What are the dangers of failing to wait and taking on a task before we are really ready?

 

Today, we will discover how Absalom’s impatience and selfish ambition created problems for David, and the nation of Israel.

Read 2 Samuel 15:1-9.

1.      How did Absalom wrestle control away from David?

David had 19 sons who survived infancy and two that died in infancy. Absalom was third behind Amnon and Kileab. Amnon had been murdered, so there was only one other between Absalom and the throne. Patience was all Absalom needed to exercise!

2.      How was Absalom’s request to go to Hebron a cunning move on his part? (That was the capital initially and Absalom was born in Hebron. He had connections there.)

 

Entitlement! Read 2 Samuel 15:10-12

3.      What were Absalom’s actions here and how did they appear legitimate?

4.      How would you describe Absalom’s character?

5.      How were others unwittingly drawn into this conspiracy?

6.      Can you recall when you’ve been drawn into a situation which later proved different from what had been presented?

7.      What were the results?

8.      How can a person’s loyalty get in the way of the truth?

9.      What are the dangers of blind trust?

10.  How can we stop selfish ambition and self-inflation from growing in us?

11.  What questions could help? (How will this affect at least three people besides me and in what way? Where is the least little bit of selfishness in this action? How might I be justifying my self-interest with holy-sounding words? What fear am I easing? Is this truly what is best for all concerned?)

 

Consider these questions: Is it possible that David had been neglecting some of his duties as king? Had he secluded himself in the palace and was totally ignorant of what was happening?

Fright! Read 2 Samuel 15:13-16

 

1.      What was David afraid of here?

2.      Why were his servants so loyal? (Although David was a fearsome warrior he treated his subjects with generosity and dignity.)

3.      Was David’s response what you would expect of one described as a man “after God’s own heart”?

4.      What seemed to be David’s greatest concern in verse 14? (David seemed to be very concerned about the city of Jerusalem and the inhabitants.)

5.      What are some ways we can show loyalty to a friend encountering opposition?

6.      How does a person weigh the cost of being loyal against their own sense of security? (Are my actions demonstrating integrity and is it the moral action to take, regardless of the loss I might have to take?)

Flight! Read 2 Samuel 15:24-30

 

1.      Does it seem that David had any selfish ambition here? (Not to me. He did a prudent thing by asking the priest to keep him informed as to what was happening, but yielded himself to the will of God, whether it bring life or death!)

2.      Why do you think David sent the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem? (It wasn’t David’s ark; it represented God’s presence among His people, Israel!)

3.      What did David’s returning the ark to Jerusalem say about David’s relationship with God?

4.      How was this decision practical?

5.      How do you respond to the statement, “Faith and grief are not mutually exclusive”? (There are numerous places in the Bible where people were grieving deeply and yet had strong faith.)

6.      How did David show both faith and grief?

7.      Read Psalm 3. How would you describe the interaction of faith and grief in this Psalm?

8.      How can we grieve betrayal in life and still maintain trust in God?

9.      Where is the balance between “common sense” and faith? (We must admit that sometimes they seem to be in opposition. We must bathe our decisions in prayer seeking God’s guidance and have the courage to follow Him!)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

In the PSG Brett Selby makes the following statement on page 74: “Unfortunately the work of evil sometimes intimidates the people of God. The diversion of their focus from the power of God to the schemes of man brings fearfulness and anxiety.”

1.      How is this truth demonstrated in today’s study?

·         Selfish ambition leads to self-inflation of our abilities and entitlements.

·         Opposition becomes an opportunity for true friends to demonstrate their loyalty.

·         Believers must weigh the risks in the face of threats, trusting God for deliverance.

2.      Evaluate for a moment your life goals. What adjustments do you need to make to ensure all your goals are God-honoring?

3.      Can you name any sin that does not have its root in selfishness? (When we’re on the throne, we create destruction—no matter how we try to excuse it. When we move off the throne to truly show care for others, we give life—and find it.)

We experience the most fulfilling life when we spend our life for God and others! In giving we receive!

 

Close in prayer, asking God to help all of us to remain focused on God’s will and not be distracted by the devil’s schemes. Thank God for His protection when we’re surrounded and besieged by dangerous and evil situations.

 

David’s Sons

 

1.      Amnon

2.      Kileab

3.      Absalom

4.      Adonijah

5.      Shephatiah

6.      Ithream

7.      Shimea

8.      Shobab

9.      Nathan

10.  Solomon

11.  Ibhar

12.  Elishua

13.  Elpelet

14.  Nogah

15.  Nepheg

16.  Japhia

17.   Elishama

18.  Elada

19.  Eliphelet   Plus two unnamed who died in infancy.

 

Grieved - 2 Samuel 13:1-39

Use the word “FAMILY” as an acrostic. Have members identify words or phrases starting with each letter that describes God’s ideal for the family. (Examples: F—fidelity, faithfulness, forgiveness;               A—acceptance, assurance; M—motivating, molding, mercy; I—inspiring, integrity, in harmony; L—love, loyalty, lasting; Y—you before me, young and old cared for.)

(Draw a jagged line across the entire FAMILY acrostic as you state. God established the family for loving relationships; sin destroys relationships and families. That truth is sadly evident in David’s life!

1.      How much influence does family have on our spiritual lives?

2.      How can one’s spiritual life impact his or her family? (Just because the parents are strong Christians who are very involved in church and makes sure their children are exposed to church activities all the way through high school doesn’t mean the children will turn out to be strong Christians! Each individual must make their own choice. But at least the children were exposed to God’s Word and Christian principles!)

God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. God established the family for loving relationships; sin destroys them. Another way to say it is: Sin is the “Round Up” that keeps loving relationships in a family from blooming!

(Summarize 2 Samuel 13:1-14.)

 

Shattered! Read 2 Samuel 13:15-20

 

1.      Who in this saga was affected by the sins of David and Amnon? (The whole family! Sin is like a cancer eating away until it destroys all who are influenced by it.)

2.      How would you describe Amnon’s response after he took what he wanted? (What Amnon actually felt was lust not love and he nursed it until it became an act of sin instead of just thoughts.)

Sin always leads to grief because it fails to satisfy and deliver on the promises it makes! This may be the most graphic example!

3.      After the rape, which was traumatic and sinful enough, how did Amnon shatter Tamar even further?

Even though David probably would not have agreed for Amnon to marry his half sister, he could have at least sought to do so. His dismissal of Tamar meant her unmarried status would be permanent. How he referred to Tamar indicated his mockery and disrespect, meaning Amnon saw her as an object. He shattered Tamar’s purity, sense of safety, and dreams of having her own family!

Nothing shatters a person’s sense of identity and self-worth like that of being treated like an object. In loving relationships, people are treated as created in God’s image, and as persons, not things.

4.      How would you describe Tamar’s response? (The typical responses of assault victims are feelings of desolation, anger, fear and anxiety, shame, guilt, and isolation.)

5.      How might Absalom’s response have shattered Tamar as well?

6.      What actions could be taken to assist victims of abuse or other crimes to begin the recovery process? (Being there; listening; assuring them of your love, support, and unconditional acceptance; assuring them they are not to blame and have great worth; offering them the hope of restoration in Jesus; and offering practical help—making their homes more secure or going places with them, especially at night.)

7.      How do some excuse living together without being married? They may say: “A piece of paper can’t make a relationship.” Marriage is the foundation, but love must be built upon that foundation. We must marry people who’ve shown they will build love. To simply live together is saying “when I get tired of this relationship I’ll just move on.”)

 

Tamar wasn’t the only one shattered by Amnon’s sin; its devastating effects were far-reaching!

(Summarize 2 Samuel 13:21-30. Absalom kills Amnon.)

Devastated! Read 2 Samuel 13:31-36

 

1.      What words of Nathan do you think came flooding back into David’s mind as he heard this news?

2.      Jonadab, the cousin who helped Amnon plot the rape of Tamar, resurfaced. What did he do this time?

3.      Why did Jonadab give each report to the king? (People are motivated by a variety of reasons other than obedience to God.)

Amnon fed his lust, which led to his sin of rape. Absalom waited two long years before he acted on behalf of his sister. Absalom’s behavior may not have been rooted in revenge as much as wanting to help his sister.

4.      How did Absalom feeding his revenge lead to murder?

5.      What makes revenge such a powerful emotion?

6.      Why do you suppose the Bible listed many grieving over Amnon’s death but records little agony over the rape of Tamar?

7.      What situations have you witnessed in which a response to a sinful act brought greater evil and sin?

 

Separated! Read 2 Samuel 13:37-39

 

1.      David lost two sons: Amnon who died and Absalom who fled. What might have caused David to reach out to Absalom? (David had finally accepted the fact that Amnon was dead and it was time to move on. He also mourned for Absalom.)

2.      Does sin always lead to separation and broken relationships?

3.      What practical actions stop the cycle of revenge? (Revenge can lead to repeated sin, greater sin, and persistent conflict!)

4.      How would you have advised David to act amidst his family members’ cruelties? (Managing misbehavior of adult family members is tricky. Such situations are wrought with emotions and accusations.)

David most likely felt a certain amount of guilt for what was happening in his family. As time passed it seemed David’s influence in the kingdom and his family grew weaker! David’s seemingly loss of influence may be because knowledge of his own sin became common knowledge and people lost respect for him.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Lust, plotting rape, the act of rape, and refusing to punish rape are serous sins. Left untreated sin is like a cancer eating away, coming back in a different form but still just as devastating!

1.      How can believers effectively address the issue of sin? (As believers we have a responsibility to restore people who have been hurt by sin and to protect them from further wrong.)

2.      In families, what role should parents take when sin threatens family relationships? (Bathe the situation in prayer. In love, confront the issue with the family members involved.)

When family relationships are strained, first ask yourself how you have acted selfishly. Develop patterns of showing true interest, accountability, and forgiveness!

3.      How can we be a positive influence for change regarding the issue of sexual violence in our world?

 

Pray, asking God to give us peace and healing in our broken relationships!

 

Accountable - 2 Samuel 12:1-14

1.      Can you think of a time when you were a child and you were caught doing something wrong?

2.      How did you respond?

3.      What systems do we have in the workplace to hold us accountable for our time and resources? (Check in with time clocks. Set work hours and we are held accountable by our supervisor.)

4.      Can you have freedom without accountability? (Freedom can’t be separated from accountability. We may be free to do as we desire but we are not free from the consequences of our behavior!)

5.      What are the pros and cons to being held accountable for our actions?

6.      Should you dread or welcome an audit in your workplace?

Have you heard the old adage “An idle mind is the Devil’s workshop”? Today’s study is a great example of that old saying.

2 Samuel 8 is a chapter that gives a summary of the people group God used David to defeat during his reign as King of Israel. The events in some of the following chapters actually took place during that time period. Today’s study is one of those events that the writer tells us about that occurred during the events of that chapter. 2 Samuel 11 is the narrated event that led to the confrontation we find in chapter 12.

Read 2 Samuel 11:1

7.      What does this one verse tell us about David in this incident? (David neglected his responsibility of being out in the battle with his men!)

Neglecting our duty is many times the first step to disobedience.

(Tell the story from here about David’s sin with Bathsheba, her subsequent pregnancy and finally the murder of Uriah!)

Nathan the prophet, whom God used to deliver His gracious promise to David, was now sent to deliver a far different message. God was about to call David to account for his sins.

8.      If David was called a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22), then how can he have also created such deep pain through certain choices? (None of us are immune to sin!)

 

Nathan Confronts David! 2 Samuel 12:1-4

 

1.      Why would King David not think it odd that Nathan was telling him about such a great miscarriage of justice? (As King he was the “Supreme Court” for Israel.)

2.      If we take this story Nathan told at face value, what kind of emotions does it stir up in you?

3.      Why do we resist confrontation—anyone telling us that we’ve done wrongly or failed to do rightly? (People compliment us when they confront us. They show confidence that we can repent and do rightly, and they believe we have a future rather than just a past.)

Helpful confrontation might ask questions rather than make declarations. It listens. It truly loves rather than condescends.

4.      How did Nathan manage to confront David with his sin without him realizing it at this point in these verses?

5.      How do you think David had justified his own actions in his heart? (Though the situation may be complicated, we have a choice and “a way out” of sin—1 Cor. 10:13. See Num. 32:23)

6.      How might God confront a person today about his or her sin?

7.      Should we expect to be confronted in some way about our sin?

 

David Judges! Read 2 Samuel 12:5-6

 

Notice David did not pass the death penalty, he simply said, “This man deserves to die.” But he did give the punishment stated in the law-four lambs for that one must be paid!

David seems to be blind to his own sin at this point.

1.      Why is it so easy to see sin in others rather than ourselves?

2.      Who was David judging when he judged the rich man?

3.      What does David’s response to Nathan’s story reveal about himself?

4.      What does a person’s response to sin reveal about that person?

5.      Who do think was aware of David’s sins in 2 Samuel 11? (Everyone! People are not as ignorant about what is going on in our lives as we may think they are. In David’s case everyone in his household had to know or at least suspect something wasn’t just right. Joab had to know!)

6.      What is God’s role in justice? Our role? Society’s role? (Justice often comes through natural consequences. God warns us to avoid certain actions because of what happens when anyone does them. Some human pictures of justice match the Bible and some do not. But it is not our job to pass judgment on what God does or doesn’t do in this area.)

 

God Punishes! Read 2 Samuel 12:7-12

 

David may have thought he’s covered his sins well and gotten away with it. But Nathan made it clear his sin was not secret and carried consequences.

1.      What had God done for David?

2.      What was God willing to do for David?

Ultimately all sin is ingratitude toward the goodness of God!

Notice how God detailed David’s transgressions through Nathan. Not only had his sin not gone unnoticed to the people it had not gone unnoticed to God!

3.      Are sins ever really secret?

4.      To what examples can you point in support of your answer? (Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. Judah unknowingly slept with his former daughter-in-law, Tamar after her two husbands died and he had not planned to send another son to be her husband.)

5.      Is there a sin that hurts nobody? (Sin is never without ramifications. It may seem that no one knows but you know and God knows. Even if no one else knows, your sin comes between you and God!)

Nathan revealed that David was the rich man in the parable, having taken Bathsheba from Uriah and murdering Uriah.

6.       How does misbehaving show how we currently feel about God?

7.      How do the misdeeds of leaders affect those who follow them? (Leaders are to set the moral example for those who follow them. Nathan explained that the Lord would bring public disaster on David’s household.)

8.      Are sins ever really secret? (Sin is never secret or without ramifications!

9.      To what examples can you point in support of your answer?

 

David Responds!

 

1.      If you were reading this account for the first time, how would you expect David to respond?

Unlike many people, David responded to the confrontation of his sin with immediate and complete repentance rather than denials or excuses.

2.      Was God’s forgiveness immediate and complete? (Yes—BUT the consequences can be long lasting and very painful!

 

Read 2 Samuel 12:13-14

 

3.      What is the nature of repentance? (Changed behavior and taking responsibility are two indications of repentance.)

4.      How can we tell if repentance has really happened in someone’s heart?

David hurt many people with long-term consequences. He hurt God too.

Read Psalm 51

5.      What do we learn about repentance from Psalm 51? (Repentance looks at one’s self honestly and agrees with God about the gravity of sin; it acknowledges God is fully just and blameless in His judgment of sin; and recognizes that sin is great, but God’s grace is greater and so asks for forgiveness and restoration.)

Psalm 51:10 “God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Note that David didn’t pray for the consequences of his sin to be reversed, but for God’s grace to restore and transform him!

6.      In what ways could we draw on God’s grace while enduring the current consequences of sinful behavior?

7.      How can we tell if repentance has happened in ourselves?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      How possible is it to stop our foolishness before we do it? (When God finished creating mankind He said, “It is very good!” That includes all of our desires, but He also provided godly ways to satisfy all of our desires. When we try to satisfy them any other way we sin.)

2.      Do we need someone to point out our sins or can we listen to God on our own?  (Most of us need an accountability partner. Sometimes that might be our spouse to help us.)

3.      Do you believe that Christians should expect to be confronted about their sins?

4.      Do we recognize sin and understand that judgment accompanies it?

5.      Do we really believe that sin carries consequences and that it is never secret or without ramifications?

 

The wonderful news is this: when we sin if we confess our sin God is faithful and will forgive our sin and restore a right relationship between us and God! 

Read 1 John 1:9

 

Pray.

Valued - 2 Samuel 9:1-13

1.      Can you recall a time when you were extended an unexpected kindness?

2.      How did it make you feel? (Valued, loved, important to that person, humbled, I had dignity, etc.)

3.      What effect did it have on you past the immediate impact?

God made a promise to David in 2 Samuel 7 that we studied last week. Chapter 8 tells us how David conquered the Philistines, the Moabites, the Syrians of Zobah and Damascus, the Edomites, and the Ammonites. The empire of David and Solomon would never be equaled in Israel’s history! This was the fulfillment of God’s promise in Exodus 23:31—“I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates River. For I will place the inhabitants of the land under your control, and you will drive them out ahead of you.”

David recognized all his wealth and power resulted from God’s kindness to him. He honored God by extending that kindness to others and fulfilling promises he made to Jonathan!

            Our focal passage today emphasizes that God expects and empowers us to honor Him by making a difference in others’ lives by extending kindness to them!

 

Searched! Read 2 Samuel 9:1-5

 

It was rare for ancient kings to show kindness to a former king’s family, usually kings killed any perceived rival to their throne.

1.      Why did David want to show kindness to King Saul’s and Jonathan’s descendants? (David had made a promise to Jonathan that he would show kindness to his family.)

2.      What do you think Ziba was thinking when he was summoned to the king’s house? (King Herod told the Wise Men to come tell him where Jesus was so he could come worship him also. Falsehoods were rampant to protect one’s own interest!)

Lo-debar was on the east side of the Jordan River and was a Gentile city controlled by David.

3.      What are some pros and cons of the pop-culture mandate to practice “random acts of kindness”? (Motivation is the key. To show the kindness of God to others; to receive recognition )

Spontaneous acts of kindness are great but must not take the place of planned acts of kindness. We are not to wait for opportunities to be kind to drop in our laps, but put forth effort to find those who need kindness.

4.      Why was Mephibosheth in need of kindness? (Most likely he was living in fear of what David would do if he was found. He had no property and no obvious means of income, although he did have a family. He was most likely keeping a low profile so as not to be found.)

Mephibosheth was an outcast in every since of the word. Physical disability was cause for great shame in that culture. Mephibosheth didn’t even have a house of his own but was cared for by Machir as he hid in Lo-debar.

5.      What roadblocks might a person need to overcome to keep a promise? (It takes effort. The receiving party may not be receptive.  Motives may be questioned.)

6.      How do the potential roadblocks add to the value of the promise? (It takes a real effort to overcome obstacles which makes the kindness shown more valuable.)

7.      When you face obstacles to showing others kindness do you give up too easily and say, “Well, maybe it wasn’t meant to be”?

At least 20 years have passed since David made his promise to Jonathan. Mephibosheth has a family of his own. It’s never too late to extend kindness!

8.      How can a person show kindness to others in a way that ensures the praise for that act is attributed to God? (Do everything you can to make it anonymous!)

Kindness is not a feeling but a fruit of God’s Spirit. Kindness takes deliberate decision and purposeful action.

 

Extended! Read 2 Samuel 9:6-8

 

1.      What emotions might Mephibosheth have felt as he approached David? (Fear, anxiety, etc.)

He expressed his dire situation: “take an interest in a dead dog.”

2.      What are some principles for extending kindness we might draw from David? (Treat people with dignity, call them by name, speak kind words, and show unconditional love.)

Notice David didn’t put any conditions on his kindness.

3.      What factors contribute to people becoming angry or defensive as a response to kindness? (They might respond—“What makes you think I need your help?” Or “You think you’re better than me, don’t you!”)

4.      What was David’s two-fold restoration of Mephibosheth?

5.      What was significant about each? (By giving him the property that had belonged to Saul he was giving him a means of income to support his family. By telling him he would eat at the king’s table David was saying “You are like a son to me.”)

6.      How was the kindness of David like the kindness that God shows us?

7.      Notice how Mephibosheth responded! How does his response mirror the way we should respond to God? (Thankful and obedient as a servant to God.)

David didn’t just do a one-time nice thing for Mephibosheth to appease his conscience, but he also made plans to continue caring for him!

 

Planned! Read 2 Samuel 9:9-13

 

1.      Note Mephibosheth’s feet were not restored. What was restored? (Dignity, confidence, joy, a since of worth, etc.)

2.      What actions can we take today that would give another person dignity, confidence, and joy?

3.      How do the things David provided Mephibosheth compare to the things God provides us?

4.      What does God provide for His children?

5.      How can we celebrate God’s divine provisions? (Share them with others!)

Every person needs to contribute to the good of the community and be willing to accept help when they are in need!

 

 

Summary and Challenge!

1.      Some people say that their faith is a private matter. What do you think our focal passage today says about that?

2.      Why is faith an expression rather than something to have or to claim? (We show what we believe in our acts of kindness or lack of it. Read James 2:14-19.)

Read Psalm 40:10

3.      Am I following the example of the psalmist by spreading the good news about how God loves and redeems us?

 

Prayer.

Established - 2 Samuel 7:1-21

1.      We are going to start by thinking a little deeper today than we are accustomed to thinking. What would you like to accomplish in your lifetime?

2.      What would you like to be your lasting legacy?

3.      Do you agree or disagree with this statement on page 37 of your PSG and why? “We want to feel that our lives have made a difference.”

4.      What makes being remembered, in a positive way, by future generations so motivating?

5.      How can a person impact what future generations remember about him or her?

If we want to do something that will endure, we must join God in His work. When we join God in His work, then we find a lasting legacy marked for eternity.  If we have a positive impact on someone’s life and they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior we have a legacy that will last through eternity!

Today we will explore how to leave a lasting legacy from a pivotal event in David’s life.

 

Read 2 Samuel 7:1-7 to understand the context.

1.      When Nathan gave David the “red light” in this passage, whose opinion was he stating?

2.      How often do we go off “half cocked” with our own ideas without consulting God first?

 

Rest! Read 2 Samuel 7:8-11a

 

1.      Was what David initially wanted to do in his heart a bad desire? (No, it wasn’t. But it was not in God’s plan.)

2.      How many times is the word “I” used in these verses? (7)

3.      Who brought about all the wonderful things in Israel’s past and in David’s life? (Let there be no mistake, God has brought you to where you are!)

4.      What are some reasons God-centered lives leave lasting legacies?

Notice that David focused on what he wanted to do for God, while God focused on what He had done and would do for and through David.

While we should desire to live a life pleasing to God, there is nothing we can do to add to God’s glory, majesty or power! God needs nothing from us but He does desire a life of obedience!

5.      Read 2 Sam. 7:9. We’ve been challenged to commit this verse to memory. How can committing this verse to memory compel you to gratefully reflect on how God has worked in and through you?

6.      How can grateful God-centered reflection empower us to leave a lasting legacy?

7.      How has God gone ahead of you into a particular situation?

 

Rule! Read 2 Samuel 7:11b-17

 

1.      How did God promise to continue working for and through David? (David’s son, Solomon, will build the temple. Through David’s lineage the King of kings would come into the world. God would discipline his people ultimately by allowing Babylon to remove the last of David’s earthly descendants from the throne of Israel in 586 BC as discipline for disobedience.)

Many biblical promises had a literal, immediate fulfillment and will also have a spiritual, ultimate fulfillment.

From the time Joshua led Israel across the Jordan River there had been conflicts with the people who inhabited the land of Canaan. We don’t know exactly when this event occurred but it was somewhere in the middle of David’s 33 year reign, so it had been some 500 years since the days of Joshua.

2.      How would you describe the ultimate fulfillment of this verse?

3.      Look at verse 15. What else will endure forever?

4.      When is this verse most comforting to you?

5.      How should the affirmation of God’s covenant have impacted David’s life?

6.      How does God’s promise to David impact us today? (Hope eternal!)

7.      In one sense Jesus rules over the entire universe, but where does He rule specifically? (In the heart of a Christian!)

8.      Does He rule in your heart?

 

Rejoice over! Read 2 Samuel 7:18-21

 

1.      What are some adjectives you would use to characterize David in this passage? (Humble, overwhelmed, thankful, grateful, etc)

David appeared to be stunned at how God chose to bless him.

2.      When has God just stunned you speechless?

David understood that what God had done so far in his life didn’t even tax God’s great power—He was just getting started!

3.      How does what God has already done for us in the past secure what He will continue to do now and on into eternity? (We can trust our future to Him based on the evidence of His great love and presence with us in the past.)

God’s promise of an eternal throne to David was a revelation for mankind. God’s covenant with David in no way invalidated God’s covenant with Abraham, it simply gave more details of things to come.

4.      What is the relationship between humility and thankfulness?

5.      How do people’s attitudes about themselves impact their ability to express thankfulness to others? (If we do not have a heart of humility there is only one other choice and that is “pride”.)

6.      How can these verses help us voice our own prayer of thanks to God?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

·         It is only by having a humble spirit that we can thankfully reflect on how God has worked in and through our life!

·         Jesus’ rule will endure forever!

·         As believers, we should humbly thank God for His gracious blessings, the greatest being salvation He provided—to us free but very costly to Him!

 

We may not see the ultimate results of our obedience. We are to simply be obedient trusting God for the ultimate results—our legacy!

David could have gotten mad over this situation, had Nathan killed, and gone ahead with his own plans. Yet he humbly yielded to God’s will!

Is there an area of your life that you need to completely turn over to God’s will for your life?

 

Prayer.

Celebrated - 2 Samuel 5:9-6:19

1.      What are some ways your family celebrates Father’s Day? (Record responses on the board.)

2.      What are some ways your family celebrates Independence Day? (Record responses on the board.)

3.      What might be some wrong ways and right ways to celebrate these days?

4.      What are some ways you might celebrate or worship God this week?

5.      How does our worship take on physical demonstrations? (Raised hands, eyes closed, singing with deep passion, etc.)

It is one thing to express joy in God through a specific type of worship; it is another thing to demand that everyone embrace the type that we consider most appropriate.

6.      What factors go into a person’s worship preferences?

7.      Is a person’s worship preference more an expression of culture or personality?

Today we will read about how King David worshiped as the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem.

 

To refresh our memory a little, last week we learned about how Abner, the commander of Saul’s army, gave his allegiance to King David. He pledged to lead the northern tribes of Israel to follow David. Since then, Abner and Ish-bosheth were both assassinated.

In 2 Samuel 5:1-8 the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and anointed David king over all the tribes of Israel. Then Israel marched against Jerusalem, which was occupied by the Jebusites. The city of Jerusalem has had several names throughout history; among them are Salem, Jebus, Zion, City of David and Jerusalem.

Read 2 Samuel 5:6-8.

 

Recognized! Read 2 Samuel 5:9-12

 

1.      What are some reasons David had to celebrate?

2.      What are some reasons David chose Jerusalem as the capital? (It was more centrally located; it was on high ground, easier to defend.)

David’s daily work was to build the city and establish regional power.

God’s provisions indicated He was fulfilling His promises to David and accomplishing His plans for the sake of His people.

3.      Why should what God did for David cause us to celebrate as well? (In His provisions for David, God was fulfilling His purposes for our redemption through Jesus, who came from the line of David and was crucified and arose from the dead in the city of David.)

4.      Through what people and processes did God provide resources for accomplishing His plans for David?

5.      Through what people and processes has God done this for you?

6.      Compare David’s building program to the building program of a successful church. How is the physical structure a mark of God’s favor?

7.      How can it also pose a spiritual danger? (We become proud of our buildings and brag (in a spiritual way) about how much God has blessed us, just look at all of these beautiful buildings we have!)

Sometimes it is difficult for us to keep the focus on God and what He is doing. It is so tempting to say “Look what we have done!” when it is God and only God who deserves the praise!

 

Honored!

 

In the mean time, David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem; defeated the Philistines and made plans to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  The Ark was at Kirieth-Jearim, which was about 12.5 miles from Jerusalem. His first attempt ended in the death of Uzzah simply because they did not use the proper method to transport the Ark. When the oxen stumbled and the Ark tilted Uzzah reached out to steady it and God killed him immediately. So they left the Ark at the home of Obed-edom. God blessed him so much that after three months David decided to make a second attempt at bringing it to Jerusalem.

Read 2 Samuel 6:12-16

 

1.      What are some ways the people celebrated this great event?

This time he did his research and moved the Ark the way God had told them to move it. The Ark was to be carried with two poles and two priests on each pole!

2.      What elements are required by God for honorable worship? (Humility. Sacrifice. The expression of reverence and adoration.)

3.      Are any sacrifices required today when expressing worship?

4.      Why is obedience the most powerful way to worship God? Read Micah 6:8 (Our actions can appear to worship God while instead glorifying ourselves.)

5.      David took on the role of a priest. How did David conduct himself differently than some people might expect of a priest?

6.      Has your opinion of Michal changed as a result of this study?

7.      How can we avoid being critical of those who worship in ways that might make us uncomfortable?

8.      Why might we be far less likely to criticize others if we’re wholehearted participants rather than spectators during worship celebrations? (If we are wholehearted participants in worship, our focus will be on God not others!)

 

Celebrated! Read 2 Samuel 6:17-19

 

Notice that David continued to lead the people in worship as he “offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings in the Lord’s presence.” He also pronounced a blessing on all the people in the presence of the Lord of Hosts!

1.      The Ark symbolized the presence of God. How can we recognize the Lord’s presence in our world today?

2.      How should the awareness of God’s presence impact us?

3.      How is planning a part of honoring God?

4.      What would we miss if we limited celebrations to those that are spontaneous or emotional only? (Worship is an ongoing process of living our lives in honor of God, as well as commemorating special moments!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Every Christian has reasons to celebrate because our heavenly Father has declared our independence from sin and death through His Son, Jesus Christ. This is why in our worship we exalt and celebrate our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, for His love and His sacrificial death on the cross!

 

How can we express appreciation to God for the people He has placed in our life to encourage us?

 

This week, worship God at work, at home, and during special occasions, like Father’s Day.

How can we best honor our Heavenly Father today?

 

Prayer.

Crowned - 2 Samuel 3:1-21

Consider the following statement from the Personal Study Guide: Change rarely happens without some type of conflict and pain.

1.      Do you agree or disagree, and why? (Some changes are small and relatively pain free while other changes take us out of our comfort zone.)

2.      If change brings conflict and pain, why should we accept, and even work for, change? (Sometimes change is required in order to follow God’s will.)

When we read 1 Samuel 16 and see that David is anointed to be the next king of Israel we may immediately assume this will be an easy transition because it is obviously God’s will. Such is not the case. David’s life illustrated that the fulfillment of God’s purpose may not happen easily or automatically.

After King Saul’s death we see a very difficult and drawn out civil war where David becomes stronger and the northern tribes become weaker. Some of the bloodiest wars are civil wars that pit brother against brother! Saul’s commander of troops, Abner, garners more and more support while it becomes more evident to all that Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth is not prepared to be a king.

As the civil war wore on, Abner killed Asahel, Joab’s brother and later Joab murdered Abner.

3.      What do these changes reveal about human nature and God’s sovereignty? (It doesn’t matter what actions we take, God’s sovereign will is bound to be accomplished! We may resist what God is doing but it will be to no avail.)

(Read 2 Samuel 3:1-7 to set the context of the following verses.)

Taking a defeated king’s wife as his own was considered the final act of total dominance over the defeated king. We see this happen several times in Scripture. (Absalom taking David’s concubines.)

 

A New Ally! Read 2 Samuel 3:8-11

 

1.      What would you say is Abner’s level of confidence that he has the support of his troops?

Abner was expressing his commitment to see the entire nation unified under David’s rule.

2.      What do you see in Ish-bosheth’s nature that may have influenced Abner to change allegiances?

3.      Anger and fear are strong motivators. What role did these play in Abner’s actions?

4.      What role did they play in Ish-bosheth’s actions?

5.      In what ways do you see Ish-bosheth and Saul as being similar?

Abner may have switched allegiances because he didn’t want Israel to suffer under another paranoid, weak king. He also may have switched loyalties because human nature doesn’t like being accused and disrespected.

6.      Did Abner’s change of allegiance reveal hypocrisy or a change of heart? (I believe he truly had a change of heart, especially knowing that David had already been anointed as the next king by Samuel some 20 years or so earlier.)

Once again we see God’s sovereignty in Abner’s actions. God can change the heart of even the most devoted person. We can be assured that God’s purposes will be accomplished.

7.      How does a person who is confident in the fulfillment of God’s purposes live and respond differently to life’s challenges than someone who isn’t? (Those who have confidence in God’s sovereignty have peace in the midst of the challenges that God is in control.)

 

A Restored Relationship! Read 2 Samuel 3:12-16

 

1.      How could Abner send a proposal to make a covenant with David when he is just the commander of Israel’s army? (For all intents and purposes Abner was in control of Israel. Ish-bosheth was afraid of him; after all he was Saul’s cousin and had a great following among the Israelites.)

2.      To whom did David send his response to Abner’s proposed covenant and what was the non-negotiable term? (That Michal be returned to David as his wife was the stipulation. Michal’s return was to restore not just his relationship with her but a state of righteousness to the land. David’s family relationships certainly do not embody the New Testament ideal of marriage!)

Because human nature is sinful, relationships and righteous standards will be broken. Believers, like Abner and David, had to take decisive actions to restore relationships and righteousness, even when those changes are painful and difficult.

3.      What benefit might Abner’s covenant with David have brought to Abner? To David? What complicated their agreement?

4.      Which do you think is more difficult—seeking restoration or granting restoration? (One requires humility the other forgiveness—letting a wrong go unpunished!)

5.      What decisive actions can we take to restore righteous actions in our own behavior? (Determine—“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”)

As we look at David’s life, having multiple wives was culturally acceptable. But just because something may be culturally acceptable doesn’t mean it is in God’s plan for our lives! Although it was culturally acceptable, throughout 2 Samuel we will see the destruction this family structure created in David’s house!

 

A Consolidated Kingdom! Read 2 Samuel 3:17-21

 

1.      What changes in allegiances do these verses indicate had occurred?

2.      How did Abner use his influence to encourage others to follow God’s plan? (Saul and Abner were from the tribe of Benjamin and it was important that Abner have their allegiance!)

3.      In making crucial decisions in life, believers should always seek to base their actions on the affirmations made by God in His Word. How would that empower us to make and navigate difficult, but necessary, changes?

4.      What are some difficult changes we must make as individuals?      As a church?

God’s purposes will be fulfilled, and He honors leaders who are committed to His propose. God will fulfill His purposes with or without you. The ideal situation, for us and for God, is that we would allow Him to use us in fulfilling his purpose! We will be rightly blessed!

5.      How did David demonstrate his trust in God by patiently waiting for what God had promised?

6.      In what ways does David’s patient waiting on God’s blessing foreshadow Christ’s example?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      What did we learn from Abner and David about how to respectfully implement change so God’s purposes are fulfilled and Jesus reigns as King in lives, homes, and churches?

We, as believers, can use our influence to encourage others to follow God’s plan.

2.      Think for a moment: Who does your life influence?

3.      What difference does it make how you live?

4.      What hindrances are keeping you from using your influence to encourage others to follow God’s purpose?

5.      How can you minimize these hindrances and exert your influence more effectively in a positive way?

 

Pray, asking that God’s purposes will be accomplished through us as He shows us how to use our influence to guide others to follow His plan!

Respected - 2 Samuel 1:17—2:7

1.      Should all leaders be given respect? (If, because of a personal moral failure of some kind or a complete lack of integrity, we cannot respect the individual leader we are to respect the office or position they hold.)

2.      What are the dangers of failing to respect leaders? (If we believe that God is in complete control, and I do, we must respect leaders because God has allowed them to hold that position!)

3.      What makes a leader someone you respect? (For me, it is a leader who leads with integrity, has moral purity and seeks to follow God’s direction.)

When we are talking about God’s leaders, God has placed them in that position and when it’s time for them to go God will remove them. “Ultimately, respect for God’s leaders is a matter of the heart!”—Do we trust God?

Today we start our study in the book of 2 Samuel. First and Second Samuel along with First and Second Kings gives us the history of Israel from the time of the last Judge--Samuel, through the time Israel was ruled by kings; the split of the kingdom into north-Israel and south-Judah; the Assyrian’s defeat of the northern kingdom in 722 B. C.; and finally the fall of Judah to Babylon in 586 B.C.

First Samuel is the record of Samuel’s birth, Samuel’s time as a judge, the crowning of Saul as King and his roller coaster reign of the Israelites and finally, King Saul’s death on Mount Gilboa. Of course, David is introduced and Saul’s determination to eliminate David after the people praised him more than they did Saul after David killed Goliath, and somehow it had evidently became known that Samuel, under God’s direction, had anointed David to succeed Saul as king of Israel. Jealousy is a terrible thing to deal with!

            Second Samuel narrates the rule of King David over Israel. Almost all of David’s mighty accomplishments occurred in the first half of his 40 year reign. The Bathsheba affair was not the only exception to a great career as king of Israel. It was a sin that wounded David so badly that he never fully recovered, and it tore his family apart.

 

Key Themes in 2 Samuel:

·         The sovereignty of God!

·         The consequences of sin and God’s grace!

·         The covenant relationship with David that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ! The entire book hinges on chapter seven and God’s promise to establish the throne of David forever       (2 Sam. 7:11b-13).

 

(Summarize the events in 2 Sam. 1:1-16.)

Commemoration! Read 2 Samuel 1:17-27

 

1.      What was David’s response to the news of King Saul’s death? (Notice that David’s men followed his example by tearing their garments in grief as well.)

2.      What does David’s song reveal about David’s heart concerning King Saul and Jonathan? (Note that verse 26 must be understood in the context of the culture of that day. Even today in some cultures it is not uncommon for a man to hold another man’s hand while walking. The same is true of women in that culture. It seems strange to us and we even might place a negative connotation sexually to it in our culture. David is simply saying Jonathan was his best and most trusted friend. David’s very life was in Jonathan’s hands on many occasions.)

Showing honor to the valor of such soldiers is not the same thing as idealizing warfare. Sometimes we must fight to defend our freedom!

3.      Why might it be surprising that David didn’t celebrate Saul’s death?

4.      What did he recognize about Saul?

One principle for respecting leaders gleaned from David’s example is to focus on the positive aspects of the leader and speak positively about them to others.

Even when David was being pursued by Saul and his army he refused to raise his hand against the King. On at least two separate occasions David could have killed Saul and gave proof by cutting off a piece of his robe once and taking his weapon another time, as Saul slept.

5.      What do we reveal about our hearts when we speak disrespectfully about our leaders?

6.      Why will we show respect for human leaders when we honor Christ as Lord in our hearts?

7.      In what ways should a church celebrate its leaders, especially its pastors?

 

Because David respected God as his ultimate Leader, he respected Saul as leader and he demonstrated characteristics of a godly leader!

 

Coronation! Read 2 Samuel 2:1-4a

 

Note: More than 15 years had passed since Samuel anointed David as king, and seven more years would pass before David became king over all Israel, but David never rushed to claim what was rightfully his. He waited on God’s timing.

 

1.      In what ways do we typically respond when faced with a major decision?

2.      What are some examples of small and big decisions we discuss with God? (Relocating our family. Changing jobs. Taking a position in the church like teacher, deacon…literally anything.)

3.      In what ways does our response reveal in who or what we place our trust?

4.      How does David’s first seeking God’s guidance demonstrate David’s respect both for Saul and the leadership position God had given him?

Hebron is half way between Jerusalem and Beersheba and in the territory of Judah. God sending David back to his ancestral territory indicates He was working His plan of bringing the eternal King, Jesus Christ, out of Judah.

The next step in David’s becoming king over all of Israel was to be anointed king of Judah!

5.      In what ways are believers today set apart for God’s service? (For all Christians, baptism is the first step in obedience and an indication we yield our will to follow God’s will in our lives. We have ordination services for ministers and deacons. Some churches have a formal induction service for teachers, setting them aside for God’s service.)

6.      What is the difference between serving God in our life and being called to be a leader? (All believers must accept their anointed role as God’s servants, including leadership. If there are leaders then there must be followers. That is where most of us are. We must be effective followers before we can be effective leaders!)

7.      What makes it easy to obey God? (God’s decisions are perfect!)

 

Note that David did not push himself into the position that was rightfully his. He waited on God’s timing. It would take some time for the other tribes of Israel to recognize David as their king.

True humility in a godly leader shines like a bright beacon to others but is not seen by the leader!

 

Commendation! Read 2 Samuel 2:4b-7

 

1.      What characteristic of a godly leader do we see in these verses?

The men of Jabesh-Gilead honored King Saul’s memory and took a risk in retrieving the body!

2.      What are some appropriate ways to express loyalty and kindness to those who lead?

Godly leaders aren’t threatened by other leaders, past or present, but instead encourage people to respect all those God has placed in leadership. One of the most destructive elements in a church is jealousy among the staff. This can be on the pastoral staff or other servants in the church, teachers, deacons, directors, choir members—literally it can rear its ugly head anywhere and is very destructive!

3.      How can you tell David was sincere in his commendation as opposed to being politically motivated? (David took action rather than just speaking!)

Courageous and wise leaders are rare and valuable.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Think of leaders from your past and present.

Identify two leaders along with an action and a phrase that honors each.

No leader is perfect! If they don’t display the characteristics of a godly leader, don’t mock or criticize them; we pray for them and ask God to bless them and develop godly characteristics in their lives.

Instead of focusing on the negative, we focus on the positive qualities they do display and affirm them for those qualities.

 

Father, help us to be the followers and leaders You would have us be. Help us to stay focused on Your will and Your timing! Help us to appreciate the qualities You have given to other leaders around us. Help us not to be jealous of other’s gifts but to find the place You have for us to use our giftedness!

Giving Faithfully - 2 Corinthians 9:1-15

1.      Who is the most generous person you know? Not who gives the most?

2.      What is the difference between the most generous person and the person who gives the most? (Sometimes we label a person as generous who gives out of their surplus, but really their giving is no sacrifice at all!)

3.      Why might a person question someone being generous? (Their attitude. They seem to have so much left over. They talk about it.)

4.      What motivates people to be generous toward others? (Love.)

One doesn’t need to be rich to be generous, but one simply must be giving to be generous!

5.      When have you seen this to be true? (In Mark 12:41-44 many people were giving their offering in the temple. Among them was a widow who gave all she had and Jesus said she had given more than all of the others had given.)

I’m relatively certain that the most generous Christians give the way Jesus told us to give, so that others may not know they are giving at all!

6.      What is the difference in “Tithe” and “Offering”? (Our offering is over and above the tithe God said we are to give to support His kingdom’s work.)

The Lord sometimes can use money to expose the condition of our hearts. For many, riches and wealth are a hindrance to entering the kingdom of God!

The background for our focal passage today deals with the great financial need of the church in Jerusalem. Of course, most of the Christians in Jerusalem were converted Jews. Once they professed Christ as Savior many lost their employment and were ostracized by the Jewish community. The church there seemed to be in deep poverty. As Paul traveled on his missionary journeys he spread the news about how the church in Jerusalem was in such great need. Churches were challenged to give to help them.

Paul had come through Corinth a year or so before this letter was written. The church there had pledged to regularly put back an offering for the church in Jerusalem. It was getting close for the time for Paul and his companions to come collect the offering and take it to Jerusalem. In 2 Corinthians 8:1-7 Paul tells them that the churches in Macedonia insisted on sending an offering, even out of their “deep poverty”. The church at Corinth was a wealthy church in comparison. Paul didn’t want the church in Corinth to be embarrassed by their small gift, so he urged them to be faithful to their pledge to take up this offering.

There is a huge difference in giving out of one’s poverty and giving out of one’s surplus! From time to time a person or couple comes to a minister with the question: “How much should we give?” No one can answer that question for you. Guidelines can be given but how much you should give is between you and God!

 

Confidence Expressed! Read 2 Corinthians 9:1-5

 

1.      How did Paul express belief that they would resume their commitment to the offering he was collecting?

Notice that Paul was not criticizing them but encouraging them to keep a commitment they had made to participate in this offering.

2.      Do you think Paul had a responsibility to talk to them like this?

3.      What did Paul understand about the Corinthian believers’ attitude toward giving? (Paul seemed to believe they were willing to give, so he questioned whether he needed to send a reminder.)

4.      Do we ever need reminders about our responsibility in the area of stewardship?

Paul had just provided some practical guidelines on giving to the Corinthian church earlier in the letter (2 Cor. 8:11-15). He helped them understand what to do and what to expect.

5.      Why is it important for leaders to hold believers accountable for meeting the needs of others? (Sometimes we are unaware of the needs and we forget our responsibility in this area.)

6.      How might we be held accountable today? (Lessons like this. Sermons on giving and stewardship. Sometimes we simply need to open our eyes to the needs around us!)

7.      What would you say is the result when we give out of extortion or compulsion or pressure from someone? (It’s not “giving” then and there is no reward for it.)

 

Benefits Found! Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11

 

1.      What are the benefits of giving as God directs?

Paul described giving that is motivated by the gospel. His motivation was not receiving but rather the blessed act of giving itself.

2.      How would you explain the correlation Paul made between giving and sowing seed? (If the farmer had a poor crop and decided to use all of the grain to feed his family, there would be no crop the following year because there was no seed grain left for next year’s crop.)

3.      Is receiving back for what we give proper motivation for giving?

4.      Read Malachi 3:10. Does this verse mean that if we give money we will receive money in return, even more than we gave? (No! The blessings God gives may come in many forms but will always be more than we’ve given! Read 2 Cor. 9:10-11 again.)

5.      Read Palms 112:9. How do the words of the psalm support what Paul wrote concerning generous giving?

The PSG makes this doctrine statement about “Stewardship”: “Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer’s cause on earth.”

6.      How does that statement fit in with these verses we just read?

7.      For the cheerful giver, which comes first, the gift or the cheer?

8.      How is giving a source of cheer?

9.      How does a cheerful heart move a person to meet the needs of others?

Read Romans 12:6-8. Here again we are commanded to be generous in our giving!

There are more than 27 passages in the Bible that deal in some way with giving other than 2 Corinthians 8-9!

Paul prayed that God would multiply the money the Corinthians gave and increase the results of their ministry. One of the reasons God blesses believers is so that believers can bless others!

 

Adoration Gained! Read 2 Corinthians 9:12-15

 

1.      What is the outcome of giving to others under God’s direction? (You will be enriched; thanksgiving to God; supply the needs of the saints; overflows in many acts of thanksgiving to God; glorify God; confession of the gospel; recipients will have a deep affection for you.)

2.      How does giving reflect God’s grace? (God uses our gift to Him as a gracious act to meet someone else’s need!)

3.      How can giving be an act of worship?

4.      How can giving be a means of honoring God?

5.      How can the person receiving the gift honor God?

All Christian giving is carried out in light of God’s indescribable gift to us: his Son. Recite John 3:16.

6.      In what ways does God’s generosity in the gift of His Son challenge believers to meet the needs of others?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

1.      How is a believer showing their trust in God by using their resources to meet the needs of others?

2.      What should be our attitude toward giving to God? (Give from a willing heart, not grudgingly or out of obligation. This will often motivate others to give.)

3.      How does our giving impact the needs of people both inside and outside of the church?

4.      What are some appropriate ways for us to challenge each other to meet the needs of others in the community and to meet the needs of our church?

5.      What adjustments need to be made within our group based on our discussion?

Consider whether you give your tithes and offerings grudgingly or joyfully.

Understand that God will bless you based on the attitude of your heart and not on how much you give!

Close with prayer.

Bible passages that deal with giving:

 

Deut. 15:10; 16:17

1 Ch. 29:9; 29:14

Ps. 37:4, 21

Prov. 3:9, 27; 11:24-25; 18:16; 21:26; 22:9; 28:27; 31:9

Neh. 8:10

Mal. 3:8-10

Matt. 6:2-4; 10:8; 19:21

Mark 12:41-44

Luke 6:30, 38; 3:11

Acts 20:35

Romans 12:8

1 Cor. 13:3

Phil. 4:15-17

James 2:15-16

Becoming New - 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2

The world we live in is filled with all kinds of broken relationships.

1.      What are some broken relationships we see all around us? (Divorce; countries at war; companies suing each other; employer/employee;  children and parents; friendships; etc)

The closer the relationship, the greater the hurt if that relationship is broken!

2.      Can any broken relationship be fixed?

3.      How does the restoring of a once broken relationship change the people who were once at odds with each other?

The restoration of a broken relationship requires at least one of the parties involved to take a step toward the other, offering a solution to the problem.

God created us to relate to one another and to Him. Because of sin, our greatest need is to be reconciled to God. When we get our relationship with God fixed, our relationship with each other will improve as well.  Churches that reconcile fractured relationships will be more effective in proclaiming the gospel message!

            In our study today, we’ll see that Paul thought deeply about reconciliation and insisted that genuine reconciliation comes only through a right relationship with Jesus!

 

Read 2 Cor. 5:14-15. These verses leading up to our focal passage emphasize the driving force in Paul’s life and should be the driving force in our life.

 

Reborn! Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

 

1.      Paul explained that we are made different by the Holy Spirit. How should this change cause believers to regard one another? (We no longer look at the flesh or outward appearance of people. He wanted them to look at the heart. Our view should go from temporal to an eternal perspective.)

2.      Before Paul’s conversion, how did he view Jesus? (He viewed Jesus as a mere man of flesh and blood, but now he understood who Jesus was and knew Him as the Messiah!)

3.      How did Paul explain the transformation process that takes place in believers? (“New creation.” In other passages we are told we will be “born again.” When we accept what Jesus did for us on the cross we become a new creation—new on the inside.)

In this transformation, nothing changes on the outside, but our perspectives, deep prejudices, wills, and love of sin are changed. Only God can make this change!

4.      Christ is said to be in believers. Being united with Christ involves both aspects, revealing a complimentary relationship between our being in Christ and Him dwelling in us. What are the benefits of being united with Christ? (We have His power indwelling us, which helps us resist sin as well as empower us to live in right relationship to Him.)

Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus!

 

Reconciled! Read 2 Corinthians 5:18-21

 

Some form of the word “reconcile” is used five times in these verses.

1.      In your own words, how would you define “reconcile”?

Our author offered this definition: Reconciliation is the restoration of a relationship that has been broken or severed; it is the reunion of parties separated by the consequences of sin or wrong doing.

Note that God initiated reconciliation with humanity, taking all the actions necessary for that reconciliation to happen.

2.      How should being reconciled to God serve as motivation for serving Him?

3.      What does God initiating the reconciliation with us reveal about how God feels about humanity in general and you in particular?

4.      How should the love God demonstrates motivate us to serve Him?

5.      If we have accepted Jesus’ offer of reconciliation, according to verse 20 to what position have we been appointed? (Ambassador.)

6.      How does being reconciled to God qualify a person to be an ambassador for Christ to a lost world?(Heavenly ambassador.)

7.      What responsibilities does an ambassador carry and how do those responsibilities inform believers of God’s expectations for them?

Two definitions for an ambassador include (1) the highest-ranking representative of the president or leader to a specific nation or international organization abroad, or (2) a messenger or representative who tells or reveals truth.

8.      How do these definitions help you understand God’s expectations for believers?

9.      Whose message does an ambassador share with those he is sent to, his own message or the message from the One who appointed him? (We are sent to be ambassadors to a lost world by the One who loves them with a message of love and acceptance through the blood of His one and only Son.)

Our message is a message of reconciliation as a desperate appeal for people to return to God. The message should also include an explanation about the transformation that takes place in the lives and hearts of those who believe!

 

Ready! Read 2 Corinthians 6:1-2

 

1.      What warning did Paul extend to the Corinthian believers? (We are called to work alongside of Christ. He also made a strong appeal that they take their position with Christ seriously.)

2.      What are some reasons people may give for waiting to accept the gospel? (I don’t believe all that stuff. I’ll do it someday but I’m too busy now. I know too many professed Christians who don’t live like it. Like the King told Paul—some more convenient time. Any old excuse will do.)

Paul reminded the Christians that the time to share the good news of the gospel is now. He also reminded those who heard the good news that now is the time to respond and accept this offer of grace and mercy!

The message of reconciliation with God is too important to overlook or push off for another time.

3.      What can a believer do to emphasize to others the urgency for accepting Christ?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      What does this text teach us about the change that takes place in believers? (The Holy Spirit has changed our hearts, giving us new lives and new perspectives of the world. We no longer desire to participate in sinful activities.)

2.      How do some people seek to become reconciled with God on their own terms?

3.      What actions can we take to help others know that reconciliation with God only comes through faith in Jesus? (Be using the Word of God! See Hebrews 4:12!)

 

This week, take time to people watch. Your transformation and reconciliation should have changed the way you view others. As an ambassador for God and a coworker with Christ, take time to think about what Christ would say to the people around you.

Displaying the Gospel - 2 Corinthians 4:5-18

(Write the following statements on the board.)

·         Religious Liberty is on the decline in America.

·         American Christians face growing intolerance.

(Ask your class for a show of hands if they agree with the statements individually. Share the following with the class from the Leader’s Guide.)

“LifeWay Research surveyed Americans about their perceptions regarding religious liberty. Sixty percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement “Religious liberty is on the decline in America.” Almost two-thirds [63%] agreed with the statement, “American Christians face growing intolerance.” Religious liberty has become an increasingly contentious issue in American culture.”

 

1.      What actions should be taken in places where Christianity is actively persecuted or suppressed?

2.      Are we like the frog in the pot of tepid water, with the fire heating it up ever so slowly until we die without resistance?

Will we sit idly by while those who defy God’s values take control and make laws designed to silence God’s people!

      Christianity was not tolerated as a legal religion anywhere in the Roman Empire of the first century. False religions had infested the city of Corinth. When Paul wrote to encourage believers who faced persecution, he was dealing with a much more challenging cultural situation than most of us have faced up to this point. Amid these challenges, Paul focused on how God was shaping him and using him to share the gospel!

Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-4

The “god of this age” is Satan and his influence was and is strong!

 

Proclaim! Read 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

 

1.      What is Paul trying to make clear to his readers here? (He is not promoting himself but Jesus! He is simply a “slave” to Jesus.)

2.      Sharing the gospel with power is one of the principles Paul taught. What did he express as the essentials for sharing the gospel? (Paul explained that he did not talk about himself when he preached. The gospel message is exclusively about Jesus Christ; therefore Paul focused his message on Christ!

Paul did not want to rule over the Corinthian church. He saw himself as a servant of God and the church. Jesus is the One to whom everyone should submit.)

3.      How would you describe God’s illuminating work in the hearts of His people? (Jesus shines in the darkness of our hearts as we allow Him to live in us His light overcomes our darkness!)

Moses face shone brightly simple reflecting God’s glorious light and he had to wear a veil over his face, but Jesus’ face is shining brightly to overcome the darkness in our hearts. Christ alone is the One to proclaim.

Christians have the Holy Spirit living in them!

4.      How can we allow the “light” of God to be seen in us?

5.      Taking verse 5 and 6 together, what are the implications and consequences for proclaiming someone or something other than salvation in Christ alone? (We will live in darkness without God’s illuminating truth in Jesus!)

Heb. 1:3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature.” Jesus is “the image of God”!

* When Paul preached he did not say, “Look at me!”He said, “Look at Jesus Christ! And there you will see the glory of God come to earth in a form that a man can understand.”

 

Live! Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-15

 

1.      What “treasure” is Paul referring to in verse 7? (The indwelling Spirit of God! Along with the gospel that brings light to us.)

This “treasure” is valuable and costly, while “clay jars” are weak and common! The weakness of the vessel allows God’s extraordinary power to be shown and for others to realize the power came from God and not from us.

Read 2 Cor. 8-9. (Discuss each paradox.)

* After he has stated the great paradoxes of the Christian life Paul goes on to give the secret of his own life, the reason why he was able to do and to endure as he did.—He was well aware that if a man would share the life of Christ he must share his risks, that if a man wished to live with Christ he must be ready to die with Him. Paul knew and accepted the inexorable law of the Christian life—“No Cross, No Crown.” … When a man has the conviction that what is happening to him is happening literally for Christ’s sake he can face anything.

 

Reflect on the challenges or difficulties you may be facing. Write in the margin of you book “I am __________. Briefly describe your situation in the blank. Then complete the rest of the phrase “but not ________. Write the words that reflect God’s power.

Earlier this week I had to write several large checks and found myself complaining about it. I was reminded that I should be thanking God that the resources were there to cove these unexpected expenses. God had provided once again!

Read Gal. 2:19-20

2.      How is it that we must carry the death of Jesus in us so that the life of Jesus can be revealed in us? (The more of self we have living in us the less influence Christ has in us However, the more we die to self the brighter the light of Christ shines through us!

3.      What is the hope expressed in verses 14-15? (We have the hope of resurrection with Christ! We are not forsaken.)

4.      Why did Paul continue to preach the gospel of Christ despite the dangers? (For the sake of those who have not yet heard the Good News about eternal life in Christ!)

 

Paul didn’t dwell on death, but instead magnified life!

 

Focus! Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

1.      How did Paul contrast life on earth with eternal life in Heaven?

2.      How does the inner person get renewed daily?

3.      How does that daily renewal fuel and motivate the believer? (Read Lamentations 3:22-24.)

4.      How may Paul’s suffering cause some believers to be discouraged? (We must look at the whole picture. Paul’s sufferings did not cause him to become discouraged. He maintained his focus on the message of Christ no matter what else was happening to him.)

Paul believed that the sufferings he endured did not compare to the glory that lay ahead of him!

Paul encouraged other believers to focus on the “unseen,” which Paul said is “eternal,” and not on the “temporary,” which is what can be “seen”. Paul reminded them that focusing on the eternal would produce an incomparable reward in heaven!

5.      How does the glory reserved for us in the future serve as motivation in the now to be faithful and courageous in suffering?

 

We think of salvation completed in three distinct stages: Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification.  We can also think of it this way: God loves us so much He accepts us just as we are, but He loves us to much to leave us just as we are. Sanctification is the process of our earthly man dying and Christ living through us!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Recap of truths:

·         Christians are to exclusively proclaim Jesus as Savior!

·         All people can live victoriously through faith in the resurrected Jesus!

·         As Christians, we are to focus on things with eternal consequences!

 

Even though we are frail (jars of clay) we hold a great treasure (the gospel of Jesus). We are commanded to share this treasure. Though we are weak God’s power can impact others through us!

 

Pray thanking God for His grace and intrusting us with this great treasure! Pray we will be faithful in sharing it with others.

 

  *  The Daily Study Bible Series, The Letters to the Corinthians Revised Edition by William Barclay

Enjoying God’s Comfort - 2 Corinthians 1:1-14

Where are you in relationship to the storms that come into our lives? No one is immune from storms. People with a deep love for God face painful and intense trials in life just like those outside the body of Christ. Being a Christian does not immunize us against the difficulties and trials of this life. Just last week Dr. Fannin repeated a truth we all know: Everyone falls into one of three categories—(1) You’re currently in a storm. (2) You just came through a storm. (3) You’re headed into a storm. As I write this, scattered thunderstorms and rain storms are moving through our area. How apt! We are either in a storm, just finished a storm or one is coming our way! We can’t avoid them! Storms in life can be physical, relational, financial, vocational, or spiritual. Storms of life generally surface with no warning.

            Trials can be fertile soil for spiritual growth if handled God’s way. God never wants His people to waste a hurt or trial. Joseph faced hatred from his brothers. God placed Joseph in a place of authority. He had the chance to get even with his brothers. However, Joseph pursued a redemptive path, saying to his brothers, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about…the survival of many people” (Gen. 50:20). Joseph saw God’s hand in his suffering.

            The Corinthian church was dysfunctional and filled with hurting people. The church needed to know God’s nature. In times of trials and storms, God’s presence was with them. God’s comfort equipped those suffering for ministry. Trials and storms serve as theological classrooms for God’s people!

Read 2 Cor. 1:1-2.

            Our focal passage today reveals how we can apply what we learned these last two weeks about our spiritual gifts and the characteristics of love God desires to show others through us!

1.      To whom do you turn for comfort during times of stress or distress?

2.      What object or activity most comforts you?

Paul’s experiences placed him in the category of one who needed comfort. He shared with the Corinthian believers what he had learned, so they could be comforted.

 

Comforted! Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

 

1.      What did Jesus mean when He told His disciples in Matt. 20:23, “You will indeed drink my cup.”? (His followers would suffer as He suffered. As we know now, looking back on Christian history, suffering as Jesus did is common for Christians throughout the world—even to being martyred.)

In verse 5 Paul says we will experience suffering as Jesus did but we will also be comforted as He was.

2.      How does a person’s attitude when facing suffering influence others? (Jesus said, “Not My will, but Thy will, Father.” From the cross.)

3.      How might the sufferings of a believer be used by God to impact the lives of others?

4.      What hope did Paul offer those who are suffering? (We will share in the same comfort also. Another name used for the Holy Spirit is “Comforter.” He lives within us and will bring comfort to us!)

5.      The disciples were in an epic storm one night on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-41). Where was Jesus? (He was not only in the boat with them but was asleep! The amazing lesson to learn here is: if you’re in a storm, whether self-inflicted due to sin or brought on by outside circumstances, Jesus hasn’t abandoned you.)

 

God allows trials in the lives of His children for a reason. Paul listed situations that highlighted his weakness as a human in contrast with God’s power as demonstrated through the gospel.

Tested! Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

 

1.      What emotions did Paul say he had as he faced this most trying storm in Asia? (Completely overwhelmed, beyond our strength, despaired of life, and believed he was going to die.)

2.      Do you ever feel guilty, like your faith is too weak, for being completely overwhelmed by the situation in which you find yourself?

3.      What situation might cause a person to feel completely overwhelmed?

4.      What positives can come from these situations? (When we are at the end of ourselves we have nowhere else to turn but to God. It is then that God teaches us the greatest lessons about trusting Him!)

Though many have speculated about this experience Paul had, there are no details on what he endured. After relying on his own strength, Paul remembered the power of God to raise the dead and turned to God for help.

5.      How were the Corinthian believers involved in Paul’s experience? (They were praying for Paul. He understood intercessory prayer’s power in our lives!)

Paul passed a test of faith, growing as a result of what he faced in Asia. Believers can celebrate a testing of their faith, knowing that God will strengthen them and demonstrate His power.

 

Accepted! Read 2 Corinthians 1:12-14

 

Paul called for the Corinthian believers to accept him as a proven apostle, even though he had been delayed in his visit. His integrity seemed to have been at stake. Even though Paul had poured his life into this church, they still only partially understood him and his ministry among them.

Paul wrote that he had been straightforward with the Corinthian believers about everything. There were no hidden meanings or agendas.

1.      In what sense can we take pride in those to whom we are called to minister? (Pride in what God is doing in the lives of those you minister to and how God is using them for His kingdom! The emphasis is always on God’s activity and power.)

2.      What would be a greater source of pride—being a person of integrity or being recognized by others for the work you do? (Our integrity should be our greatest concern here.)

Paul wasn’t boasting in himself or his own human wisdom. Rather, he admitted that anything good and praiseworthy is because of God’s grace. Read 1 Cor. 15:10.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      How is God using someone who is suffering and the way they are facing that suffering to encourage you? (John DeHart! Linda Boston! Chuck McMillen! Angela Leu! Ben Owens!……….)

2.      What can we do to be encouragers to others?

 

People need our empathy. If you’ve battled cancer, divorce, the death of a child or spouse, the heartbreak of a prodigal child or an addiction, and you’ve been touched by God’s comfort, other people need to hear your story. Your works have power and relevance. You can speak to others from experience. That’s an amazing platform for ministry!

As you face trials and storms, remember that you’re in a theological classroom for a divine reason. And always remember, the Lord comforts and uses broken people.

3.      How is God testing your faith?

4.      What are you learning about Him and yourself through that test?

5.      Who can encourage you through your difficulty?

6.      With whom can you share insights you gained from this lesson?

7.      How can you share those insights in an encouraging way?

Understanding Love - 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

1.      When you hear the word “love” what thoughts come to your mind? (It depends on the context the word “love” is used. Perhaps our spouse, children, best friends, a favorite food, etc.)

2.      How many different emotions do we use the word “love” to describe our feelings toward someone or something? (We certainly don’t have the same feelings for a spouse and a friend, or our children and a favorite food, etc.)

I love God. I love Linda, my wife. I love my best friend. I love my children and grandchildren. I love shrimp. I love my neighbor.

Love is a choice we make and is expressed through our actions.

Every believer has received love. It is a wonderful gift from God and helps us to grow in our relationship with Him. But God wants us not only to love Him; He wants us to love one another.

There are several Greek words for love, depending on the object of our love. “Eros” is the passionate love one has for their mate! “Philio” is affectionate regard, or close friendship. “Storge” is affection between parents and children. “Ludus” is playful love, affection between children and casual friends. “Pragma” is mature love that develops between long-married couples.

While love is a common human experience, the uniquely Christian love is “Agape”! It describes the love God has for us. Agape is sacrificial giving of oneself to others, whether they deserve it or not. In this week’s study, we’ll seek to understand Paul’s view of agape as he challenged the Corinthians (and us) regarding the necessity for this kind of love!

Last week we studied “spiritual gifts” in chapter 12. Paul closes chapter by saying in verse 31 “But desire the greater gifts. And I will show you an even better way.” Paul wanted to show the Corinthians the way of love. Believers who use their gifts motivated by love will make the greatest impact! In fact, as we will see, if we do not use our gifts motivated by love they are of no impact!

 

 

Necessity of Love! Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

 

(Consider having an annoying sound in the background.)

1.      Of what importance did Paul say love is in regard to the use of spiritual gifts?

Note: from here on the use of the word “love” is the Greek word “agape.”

If a person does not have love, the exercise of his or her spiritual gift is useless.

2.      How should believers communicate love? (Love is more than a feeling, it’s also a willful action. Paul wanted us to know that love is more powerful than our spiritual gifts. In fact, without love our spiritual gifts are useless.)

Love should demonstrate God’s character in our lives. Many in the Corinthian church felt that speaking another language or speaking the language of angels was prestigious, so they desired these gifts above others. Paul said a person who speaks a language that is meant to edify the body of Christ is doing nothing but loud talk if that person is not motivated by love.

3.      How can our ministry impact the lives of believers?

4.      How can our ministry impact the lives of unbelievers?

If the goal of ministry is to impact others for Christ, then love must be the motivator!

5.      What would it look like for spiritual gifts to be used without love? (It would simply be self-serving. The impact of the gifts used without love would exalt the individual not God!)

Notice that Paul positioned love as a necessity before describing what love is! Now Paul presents a series of descriptors to illustrate the nature of love and what love in action looks like.

 

Nature of Love! Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

 

1.      What other characteristics of love can you think of that isn’t listed in these verses? (Generous, Truth telling, Sacrificial, Not Irritable, Does not keep a record of wrongs, Does not enjoy seeing others embarrassed, Expects the best outcome, endures all things or puts us with other’s faults and insults.)

Some of these may seem the same but have a slightly different nuance.

(Create teams of three or four people. Give each group a list of Love’s characteristics and have them brainstorm what would be the opposite of each assigned characteristic. After about 3-4 minutes bring them back together and have each group share what they came up with. The list of Love’s characteristics can be found at the end of this outline.)

We have a list of characteristics others should see demonstrated through the life of a Christian and the list of those negative characteristics that should NOT be seen in our lives.

2.      Which of these positive characteristics give you the greatest trouble?

3.      What action stands out as most significant in your life?

4.      How do you see the positive and negative demonstrated around you every day?

God is characterized as love, and those of us who follow Him should exhibit that same kind of love.

5.      How is the description of love given by Paul seen in God’s character? (Everything positive about God is directed to us!)

6.      How does substituting the word “love” with “God” give you a better understanding of the relationship between the love defined by Paul and the character of God?

7.      What do others see in my life?

 

Permanence of Love! Read 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

 

Paul contrasted love with other things valued by the Corinthians, emphasizing that of all the things valued on earth, only love is eternal.

1.      Based on the fact that Paul taught that love will outlast every spiritual gift, how can believers make love their priority? (Place love at the top of our priorities and demonstrate love in everything we do. Love alone will endure.)

2.      How do you interpret what Paul has to say about “faith, hope and love”? (Our “faith” will become sight! Our “hope” will be realized! We will live in the presence of God’s “love” forever.)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

·         When we serve motivated by love we will make the greatest impact for Christ!

·         We should be characterized by actions that demonstrate godly love for others.

·         We should base our lives on things that have an eternal duration, with love leading the way!

 

1.      If my actions this past week were to be evaluated by this chapter, what did others see in me? Self? Or God?

2.      What actions can I take to ensure I make improvements this week so that God is seen in all I do?

 

Love seeks reconciliation and will even suffer an unfair loss if doing so brings glory to Christ before a lost world!

We are never more like Christ than when we graciously limit our freedoms to help others!

 

Reflect on ministry priorities. If showing genuine love is not a motivating factor in your life, commit to let others feel love and see love in you as you minister to them!

 

Characteristics of Love!

 

1.      Giving/Generous

2.      Truth Telling

3.      Humble

4.      Sacrificial

5.      Patient

6.      Kind

7.      Does not envy

8.      Does not boast

9.      Is not arrogant/conceited

10.  Is not self-seeking

11.  Is not rude

12.  Is not irritable

13.  Does not keep a record of wrongs

14.  Forgiving

15.  Doesn’t delight in unrighteousness

16.  Rejoices in the truth

17.  Does not want others embarrassed

18.  Gives others the benefit of the doubt

19.  Expects the best outcome

20.  Puts up with others

 

Opposite Characteristics of Love!

 

1.      Stingy

2.      Lying

3.      Boastful/proud

4.      Selfish

5.      Self-aggrandizing

6.      Impatient/short fused

7.      Harsh

8.      Envy/Jealousy/resentment

9.      Conceited

10.  Only looks out for self

11.  Rude/Contentious

12.  Irritable/Touchy/Easily offended

13.  Keeps a record of wrongs

14.  Unforgiving/Resentful

15.  Gloats over other’s misfortunes

16.  Loves lies

17.   Loves seeing others hurt.

18.  Jumps to evil conclusions

19.  Is sure of the worst outcome

20.  Not patient while others mature

Serving God’s People - 1 Corinthians 12:1-26

(Display a Mr. Potato Head toy with all the parts in their proper place. We will move them around later.)

1.      What are some common misunderstandings people have about spiritual gifts? (Spiritual gifts are a thing of the past. Only certain people, like pastors; music ministers; etc have spiritual gifts. If I have one, I don’t know what it is. People don’t have them today like they used to in Biblical times.)

2.      What are some things that foster misunderstandings about spiritual gifts? (Some people might feel that acknowledging the fact that I have a spiritual gift and actually using it is bragging about your own special ability. They are misunderstanding the fact that God chooses who gets what gift and you cannot exercise your gift effectively without the Holy Spirit’s leading. Your gift is not for your edification but for that of the Church or Body of Christ!)

Our spiritual gifts are to be used most effectively in love and humility, giving God all the glory!

3.      How can we use Mr. Potato Head to illustrate some truths about spiritual gifts?

We will see today that every Christian has received at least one spiritual gift! In today’s study, we will see how Paul corrected the misunderstanding and misuse of spiritual gifts in the church at Corinth!

(Read 1 Cor. 12:1-3. One sure test we have to see if a person was of God or not was what came out of one’s mouth. The Spirit of God would not say “Jesus is cursed”! No one can say with assurance that “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwelling in a person also gifted that person with special gifts.)

 

Diverse! Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

 

1.      What words follow the word “different” in each verse? (Gifts; ministries; activities.)

2.      What words follow “same” in each case? (Spirit, Lord, God.)

Spiritual gifts are the special abilities from the Holy Spirit to each believer. While ministries are the specific offices (such as teacher, pastor, and so on), activities are the works of God through different believers.

The same Spirit gives gifts, but those gifts might manifest themselves through various ministries in the church and also through a broad range of activities that equip and edify God’s people.

3.      What are some different areas the gift of proclaiming the truth of God’s Word might be evident? (Pastor; SS teachers at all the different age groups; those in jail ministry; music ministry; etc. The gift is just demonstrated in a variety of ways, none superior to the others but all are important!)

In the body of Christ, not all have the same gifts or assignments, but they do share the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God! The three different references to God in these verses clearly represent the Trinity, or God’s three-in-oneness. Recall the old hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” by Reginald Heber, which is based on the reality of the Trinity!

To help the church at Corinth begin to function with unity in service to God, Paul wanted them to see that spiritual gifts were given by God to them and for them to all work together in unity!

4.      What would help a divided church begin to function with unity in service to God? (Recognize the spiritual gifts others have and appreciate the way God has gifted us differently. Don’t get upset when someone does not have a passion for the same ministry you are passionate about. They are gifted differently and minister in another area of the Body!)

All believers are gifted to fulfill a God initiated role in the ministry of the church. The Holy Spirit initiates and determines what gifts will be given to what believers. In the next section of verses, Paul identified specific spiritual gifts.

 

Specific! Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-10

            (Handout kit item 8—Paul’s List of Spiritual Gifts)

There is no one place in Scripture that gives a comprehensive list of spiritual gifts. There are lists in several letters Paul wrote for us to use. But there may be other gifts than those listed.

1.      Why would it be important to know that every believer receives a spiritual gift? (Every member of the Body is important for the Body to function properly. The Holy Spirit manifests the gifts within each believer for ministry. They should not be used to compete against one another. In fact, we should rejoice when any part of the Body grows or demonstrates success in their area of ministry!)

The list Paul gives here is representative rather than exhaustive.

--The Message of wisdom most likely refers to declaring how the gospel applies to a particular situation.

--The Message of knowledge may mean knowledge that comes from direct revelation or the ability to teach correctly.

--The gift of Faith is distinguished from saving faith, which all Christians have. Perhaps it reflects the strong conviction that God will act in a particular way in a specific situation.

--The Gifts of healing may refer to the many miraculous examples found in the Gospels and Acts. There may be different kinds of healing, medical, mental etc. Perhaps even through the miracle of medicine.

--Performing of miracles refers perhaps to supernatural intervention in situations other than bodily healings, like the feeding of thousands with a small amount of food; calming the storm and those recorded in Acts.

--Prophecy is foretelling as well as forth-telling. Paul later taught that prophecy builds up believers gathered for worship!

--Distinguishing between spirits is telling the difference between true prophets of God and false prophets.

--Different kinds of tongues. Paul makes two points later about this gift which are important to note: not all Christians have this gift (12:30) and those with this gift are to control when and how they use it (14:27-28). (Unfortunately I have seen people who claimed to have this gift and looked down on those who didn’t.)

--Interpretation of tongues. If a person gifted in languages did not understand what they were saying, then it was important for a translator to be provided. Paul later taught that in public worship there must be no more than two or three people who spoke in a different language, each in turn, and that a translation or interpretation must be provided. (14:27-28.

2.      Why do you think Paul mentioned the Holy Spirit so frequently in this passage (five times in vv.7-9)?

3.      How should that emphasis impact the way we view spiritual gifts? (Much the same way we should view our salvation, it is only by the grace of God and nothing we deserve!)

4.      What are some ways in which a person might use a spiritual gift to benefit himself or herself rather than the church? (Exhibit pride in what God had done through them.)

5.      How can we guard against those tendencies?

We must humble ourselves before God. The exercise of our spiritual gifts will soon become like second nature and we don’t think about using it when we are following God’s will for our lives.

6.      How does knowing that it is the Holy Spirit who gives the gifts create confidence in a believer to exercise his or her gift?

7.      How can receiving and using a spiritual gift be part of our stewardship?

 

Every spiritual gift is important to the church and strategically intentional in its placement. Just as the human body must function as one unit, so too must the body of Christ. God knows exactly what each church needs and “gifts” individuals to meet those needs. When one part isn’t functioning as it should, the Body is crippled! See 12:18

 

Intentional! Read 1 Corinthians 1211-12, 21-26

 

1.      What is the likely result when believers don’t use their spiritual gifts? (Paul used the human body as a metaphor to describe the workings of the spiritual gifts within the church. Each part of the body has a specific function to the life of the body, just as each member in the church has a specific function to the life of the church. When that function is left undone the whole body or church suffers!)

2.      We’ve been talking about how we should regard our spiritual gifts to this point. How should we regard the spiritual gifts of another Christian? (We should never allow pride to get in the way of allowing others to use their spiritual gifts. All spiritual gifts should be recognized for their significance in the church. Believers should care for one another because they are all part of the same body.)

3.      How does the variety of gifts in a church give greater value to the giftedness of an individual? (I’m the one God has chosen to do this task. I need to take it seriously and do the best I can in God’s strength.)

4.      Why might a person devalue the role or gift God has given him?

5.      How can a person protect himself from devaluing his giftedness?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

A quick review:

·         All believers are gifted to fulfill a God-initiated role in the ministry of the church.

·         Believers receive specific gifts given at the Holy Spirit’s discretion.

·         Believers add value to the church when they use their God-given spiritual gifts in kingdom work.

 

1.      How can we as believers come to know and understand what particular spiritual gift we have been given?

2.      How can we help each other discover and exercise our gifts?

 

Seek to identify the spiritual gift(s) God has given you. You can find a spiritual gifts inventory in the downloads under the resources tab at Blog.LifeWay.com/ExploreTheBible.

 

3.      Are you using your gift to build up your church?

4.      What action do you need to take to be more effective?

 

Thank God for each believer’s special gift from God.

Pray that we will use our God-given spiritual gifts to build God’s kingdom!

Remembering the Sacrifice - 1 Corinthians 11:17-29

1.      What are some dates and places here in the United States that we set aside to remember certain events or people? (The USS Arizona; Memorial Day; MLK Day; President’s Day; Gettysburg; Thanksgiving Day; Christmas Day; etc.)

2.      What memorial places are special to you? (Most will have a marker in a cemetery that is especially significant.)

3.      What makes that place special or significant?

 

Jesus took the occasion of eating the Passover Meal with His disciples the night before His crucifixion to establish a new memorial, the Lord’s Supper. In our study this week, we’ll look at what Paul taught the believers in Corinth about the right way—and the wrong way—to remember Jesus’ death through the Lord’s Supper!

 

With Worship! Read 1 Corinthians 11:17-22

 

1.      How did Paul describe divisions within the church in these verses? (There are divisions in the church, different than the cliques earlier mentioned; when you come together for a fellowship meal (potluck) you do not share with all; the rich ate their meals and the poor had little or nothing to eat.)

2.      How had divisions impacted the Corinthian worship services? (Paul’s conclusion for what he had heard was that the believers there were worse for coming together. They did not demonstrate brotherly love toward one another. The divisiveness seemed to grow out of the way the fellowship meal and the Lord’s Supper was celebrated.)

The intention of the church, of course, was to observe the Lord’s Supper as they met together—and Paul had every expectation they would follow his instructions. But instead, at the meal, each one ate…without regard to other believers. Unlike the observance of many churches today, when the Lord’s Supper is part of a corporate worship service, the Corinthian believers included the Lord’s Supper as part of a meal they would eat together. Some rich members were greedily eating most of the food, leaving little or none for those who were poor. If the rich were hungry, Paul implied that they should eat at home.

Scripture clearly gives us guidance: Luke 14:8-11—Jesus says take the last seat not the seat of honor; James 2:1-9—rich man and poor man come to church; Phil. 2:3—consider others first; Eph. 5:18—don’t get drunk with wine.

3.      What are some ways a religious observance can become misguided?

4.      What factors contribute to the observance becoming misguided? (Sometimes frequency leads to simply going through the actions without a meaningful worship experience.)

5.      What do Paul’s instructions here reveal about the nature of the Lord’s Supper? (It is a time to care for one another. When the Lord’s Supper is shared in a spirit of selfishness, it is a farce. Believers should approach the Lord’s Supper with reverence for God and respect for one another.)

6.      What can be done to keep the focus of a religious practice on God and His purposes?

7.      What lessons can we learn and apply to our gathering together each week for Bible Study and Worship? (Don’t allow it to become simply a ritual we go through without thought, but a true time of learning and focused worship!)

Paul did not simply rebuke the Corinthians’ actions without offering truth to help them recover a right focus on the Lord’s Supper.

 

With Remembrance! Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

 

1.      How did Paul re-focus them on the meaning of the Lord’s Supper?

2.      How did Paul’s use of the plural “you” in these verses confront the selfish individualism of the Corinthians that Paul was addressing? (He was speaking to the church body as a whole. They were united in several ways and Paul wanted them to realize they were all part of one body—the body of Christ.)

3.      How would you summarize Paul’s instructions? (Believers should be mindful that the words Paul spoke in this passage are the words of Jesus. This should provide even more credibility to the correct observance of the Lord’s Supper.)

4.      Why did Jesus tell His disciples to observe the Lord’s Supper? (It is done in remembrance of Jesus and the sacrifice He made on our behalf.)

5.      What emotions well up in you when you hear the words of these verses repeated during the Lord’s Supper? (We should honor Jesus in His humanity as the incarnated Son of God and remember how His broken body endured the suffering of the cross.)

6.      What does the “New Covenant” mean? (The old covenant consisted of the laws that God gave Moses. These laws defined the relationship between God and His people and helped them to live in righteousness before God.)

The blood of Jesus represented the new covenant, which changed the relationship between God and the followers of Christ. Christians are not governed by the written laws of Moses but by laws that are written on the heart. In Hebrews 9:15-17 the writer tells us that Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant between God and Man. In Hebrews 10:4 the writer tells us “The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin.” That is why Jesus had to come and be the ultimate Sacrifice so that our sins are atoned for once and for all!

7.      How often are we supposed to observe the Lord’s Supper? (Jesus didn’t tell us how often it should be observed. He simply said that when we do we are remembering and proclaiming the Lord’s death until He returns!)

8.      How can the Lord’s Supper be a means of sharing the gospel with others?

9.      How does observing the Lord’s Supper give a believer confidence in his or her salvation?

 

After recalling Jesus’ Last Supper, Paul returned to instructions for the Corinthians.

 

With Examination! Read 1 Corinthians 11:27-29

 

1.      How might a person approach the Lord’s Supper in “an unworthy manner”? (Flippantly; without considering what the bread and juice represents; etc.)

2.      What are the consequences of receiving the Lord’s Supper in “an unworthy manner”? (Paul warned the Corinthians that if they didn’t practice the Lord’s Supper with reverence, then they were dishonoring Christ. They would be guilty of sinning against the body of Christ, mocking what Jesus did and not taking it seriously.)

3.      How should Christians prepare to observe the Lord’s Supper? (The reverence believers show during the Lord’s Supper has everything to do with their hearts! Our sin should drive us to the Lord’s Supper and not away from it. Therefore, when we sin we should repentantly approach the Lord’s Supper.)

When an offense that results in discord occurs between believers, they should seek forgiveness. Believers should always seek to practice the Lord’s Supper in unity with one another. After an honest appraisal of our attitudes toward God and fellow believers, Christians should partake of the Lord’s Supper in reverential awe.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      How can we make the Lord’s Supper a meaningful experience between them and God? (The Lord’s Supper is a serious and sacred ordinance that Jesus initiated Himself; believers should give their heartfelt focus.)

2.      What actions do you need to personally take to safeguard against abusing or ignoring the observance of the Lord’s Supper?

 

One of the most meaningful times of observing the Lord’s Supper was when we had the observance in complete silence! It was deeply meaningful and moving!

 

May our observance of the Lord’s Supper always be a time of worship, remembrance and self-examination!

Assurance of the Resurrection - John 20:2-9; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

(In advance, write the following on the whiteboard or large sheet of paper: “Stormy forecast,” “Tornadoes,” Hurricanes,” “Floods,”       “ Random Bombings,” “School Shooting,” “Many massacred in church shooting,” “Identity Theft,” “Sexual Abuse,” “Physical Abuse,”…there seems to be no end to the evil in today’s world!)

Ask the class members:

1.      What feelings and emotions do you feel when reading about these events? (Consider recording their responses on the board.)

Like today, life was not guaranteed as safe and secure for first-century Christians.

In some ways, life in the first century was like our own, taking into account they did not have the advanced technology that we do.

—various groups did not trust each other.

—the Roman army was brutal.

—Justice was often meted out by corrupt emperors and other

     Politicians.

—Life was not guaranteed safe and secure.

—There was very little that people could be certain of.

Human nature has been remarkably consistent when it comes to exploiting others.   In a world where it seemed no one could be trusted, Paul wanted the new believers in Corinth to understand the crucial connection between Jesus’ resurrection and the coming resurrection of all those united with the Lord Jesus. There was someone who could be trusted—the Lord Jesus Christ.

2.      How is a person’s sense of security related to what one is willing to trust for their security?

Paul was well aware that life is unfair and little, if anything, in this life has been guaranteed. That’s why he placed all his confidence in the resurrection of Jesus.  Paul was trying to help his readers understand the crucial connection between Jesus’ resurrection and the coming resurrection of all who place their trust in Jesus!

As we study our passage today consider this question: How does the resurrection of Christ impact your daily life?

Believing in the Resurrection! Read John 20:1-9

 

I can’t read this passage without being amazed by John’s remark in verse 2—“The one Jesus loved.” John felt Jesus’ love so deeply that it was as if he was the only one Jesus loved!

1.      What emotions would this experience bring out of those involved?

2.      What is significant about the linen cloths being left in the tomb? (If it were grave robbers who took Jesus they would have taken the linen cloths with them.  This was a deliberate act to fold the linen cloths that was around Jesus’ head. The other grave cloths may have been there as if the body just vanished through the cloths.)

3.      Do the details included by John give more credibility to his account of Jesus’ resurrection?

4.      What conclusions could Peter and John draw following an examination of the tomb?

5.      What did John finally believe about the disappearance of Jesus’ body? (Based on what he saw, John believed that Jesus was alive. Although they knew something unusual had happened they did not know what had occurred!)

6.      What is the connection between seeing and believing?

7.      How can a person believe in Jesus without fully understanding? (It is by faith we believe, not seeing! If it is by seeing there is no faith involved. They saw that Jesus was not there but could not explain where Jesus was or how His body was removed.)

(The Scripture referred to in verse 9 may have been Isaiah 53; Psalm 16:10 or Hosea 6:2.)

 

(If you have the Resource Kit, hand out copies of Resurrection appearances in Scripture.)

 

The resurrection of Jesus grounds our faith, undergirds our mission, and establishes our hope in the life to come. In nearly all of his letters found in the New Testament, Paul had something to say about the resurrection of Jesus and its impact upon our lives.

 

 

Made Alive Through the Resurrection!

Read 1 Cor. 15:20-22

 

The term “firstfruits” was taken from the history of the Jewish people. It referred to the first sample of agricultural produce which indicated the nature of the entire harvest that was soon to follow.

1.      In what sense was Jesus’ resurrection the “firstfruits”? (Jesus was the first person to ever be resurrected. Jesus was the first of many to follow, and their resurrected bodies would be like his.)

2.      In what sense is Jesus the second Adam? (The first Adam brought sin and death while, for those who believe in Jesus, He brings forgiveness and eternal life. 1 Cor. 15:45 “So it is written: the first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.”)

3.      What do these verses reveal about the results of Jesus’ resurrection?

4.      How do the results identified by Paul give hope? (In Christ, we have a second chance!)

5.      Hope for what? (Believers will follow Jesus in physical death but we will rise from the dead, just as He did! 

Read 1 Thess. 4:16. Jesus paved the way for the believers!

 

Future Found in the Resurrection! Read 1 Cor. 15:23-28

 

1.      What event will signal the end of time, as we know it?

2.      What enemies will Jesus defeat once and for all? (Satan and death. When the events we read about a moment ago in 1 Thess. 4:16 take place the final enemy—death—will be defeated. From that point on, no one will die. Everything will be under the rule of the Son who has yielded Himself to the Lordship of the Father. Note this is not one being greater than the other, it is the role and function of each Person of the Godhead!)

Christ will take full authority over the evil on the earth, subduing those who rise against Him and those who refuse to accept His gift of eternal life.

3.      How does Paul’s view of eternity compare to how most people view eternity? (Paul looked forward to the time when Christ would bring a complete resolution to earthly sin and present it to God, the Father.)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

We, as believers, find assurance for this life and the life to come through the resurrected Lord!

Persons live beyond time, not because of any inherent immortality, but because God gives them life. Ref. 2 Cor. 5:1-10.

 

Reflect on the time when you first placed your trust in Jesus. (If you haven’t done so read the inside cover of your PSG and consider doing so.)

With whom can you share about your salvation this week?

 

What a sad commentary it is to see a life with hope only in the span of time they live here on this earth. Our Hope is placed in Christ to live with Him eternally for we too shall rise from the grave with a new body but only through God’s grace and mercy.

 

Last Sunday morning in our Department time we sang the old hymn “I Love to Tell the Story.”  There is a phrase in the song that goes like this, “And when in scenes of Glory I sing a new, new song, it will be the old, old story that I have loved so long.”

We will have eternity to praise and thank Jesus and the Father for His sacrifice that secured our salvation!

 

Share the “Old, Old Story” with someone this week!

Influencing for Christ - 1 Corinthians 9:19-27, 10:31-33, 11:1

   Over the last three Sundays we have seen the Bible provide ample wisdom and counsel about unity, sexual immorality and marriage. However, many Christians have fallen short in learning and using this knowledge to impact the lives of those around us. Many of the citizens of Corinth operated under the notion that “Everything is permissible for me.” Before we beat up and chastise the Corinthians for their thinking, we should look at our world today and realize that Paul’s messages are still right on target. First, as believers, we share the same salvation and therefore should be unified by that confession. Second, as believers, we can live holy lives by focusing on Christ’s Lordship and not temporal things. Then last Sunday, as believers, we honor God by keeping our marriage and purity vows. Basically, through these last three lessons, Paul has challenged us, as believers, to embrace God’s standard of holy, righteous living.

      

   Our lesson today is “Influencing for Christ” and we see Paul continue to answer questions posed by the Corinthians. Hopefully their questions today are not as challenging and sensitive as those of the last couple of Sundays. Today Paul will remind us that as believes we represent God by using our influence to bring others to Him. We are to live as examples of what it means to follow Christ.

 

   In our first group of verses, Paul explained why he did not insist on certain rights that he possessed as an apostle of Christ. We will see that he was motivated by a greater desire.

Read 1 Cor. 9:19-23 “Walking In Their Shoes”

   What was Paul willing to give up so he could share the gospel with others?

   What rights did Paul have?

   Paul had a passion to see lost people saved. He knew that his free status and gospel calling included having certain rights and benefits. He willingly put aside those rights and benefits for the sake of focusing people’s hearts on Christ as Savior and Lord.

   What was Paul’s concern about sharing the gospel?

   What are cultural concessions?

   Christ had called Paul to present the gospel to lost people and build up the church. He avoided all potential hindrances to that calling.

   What influenced Paul to sacrifice his own time and attention to himself so he could impact others for Christ?

   What method did Paul use to influence people?

   Why would Paul become weak?

   What do you think was the most important element in Paul’s life?

   When we apply these verses to our world today, we must understand that as believers we need to be motivated by Paul’s example. We will never win others to genuine faith in Christ by joining in sinful behavior. We can establish friendships through appropriate common interests that give us opportunities to share the gospel. However, it will be our transformed lives and true testimony that point others to the only One who can save them.

   In the next three verses Paul continued his emphasis on doing whatever was required to faithfully fulfill his gospel calling. He illustrated his point with an analogy of athletes.

Read 1 Cor. 9:24-27 “Running the Race”

   Lots of comparisons of the Christian life to running. With Corinth hosting the Isthmian Games (similar to the Olympics in Greece) Paul’s use of runners in a stadium would have been readily understood by the Corinthians.

   How did Paul associate his goal of winning people to Christ to the athlete’s goal of winning the race?

   What boundaries did Paul establish for himself?

   We need to understand what Paul was and was not implying with his analogy. He was not implying that Christians are somehow in competition with one another for salvation or that only one believer would win that prize. His point was that believers must strive with all our strength for God’s will in our lives, just as athletes strive for their prize.

   What did Paul think would disqualify him from sharing the gospel?

   When have we disqualified ourselves from sharing the gospel?

   Paul was not competing against other apostles. Just like us today, Paul was competing against the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Bring the lesson into today’s world, isn’t our main obstacle to success in the Christian life an undisciplined lifestyle that yields to sinful desires?

 

   As we studied the past few Sundays, the Corinthian’s were coming from pagan religions built around sexual immorality and idolatry. Just as we must be on guard for today, Paul knew that the new believers in Corinth would have many temptations to return to their sinful past. These next verses encourage us to keep our eyes on Jesus and our wills under the Spirit’s control. We are to use our influence to lead others to do the same.

Read 1 Cor. 10:31-33; 11:1 “Following Our Leader”

   What was Paul’s challenge to the Corinthian believers?

   What did the believer’s influence have to do with what they ate or drank?

   We have studied the issues of eating or not eating many times over the years. For believers who knew that all food was from God and idols were not really gods then eating food that had been used as a pagan sacrifice was acceptable. However, Paul did not want to eat sacrificed food if it would hinder the faith of a less mature Christian.

   Was Paul being proud or arrogant in 11:1 when he said, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ”?

   Who was Paul’s model of influence?

 

Summary: How can we follow Paul’s example to influence people and win them for Christ?

·         Be willing to be flexible for winning others to Christ.

·         Restrict our flexibility so we do not disobey biblical principles and compromise our witness to the gospel.

·         Practice Bible reading and prayer disciplines so that we are strong.

·         Christian freedom does not mean we can force others to follow our practices.

Close in prayer, thanking God for His presence and power as we use our influence to represent Him.

Marriage and Purity Vows - 1 Corinthians 7:1-16

(Give each person in the class a postcard as they arrive. Ask each person to write on the card one piece of advice you would give a newly engaged couple about marriage! Collect them and read them or have individual members read what they wrote.)

Good marriages involve keeping God at the center, spending quality time together, effective communications and more. Cultural changes have weakened the institution of marriage, including changes that make it easy to obtain a divorce. Many couples marry, citing divorce as a backup plan if faced with problems in the marriage.

[Unfortunately, some preachers have misquoted research results done by George Barna. His research actually found that the divorce rate among professed believers to be not that much different from the non-churched. But the divorce rate for Christians who are involved in their church and attend 3 out of 4 Sundays is about half that of the non-churched. The top three reasons for divorce are money, sex and children—in that order.]

(The above information was provided by Bro. Curtis Owens.)

Relationship advice abounds, and it can be difficult to sort valid from invalid counsel. Today’s focal passage provides a scriptural basis for how believers can honor God by keeping their vows related to marriage and purity.

Paul wrote chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians in response to questions from the church at Corinth related to marriage after conversion and what place sexual intimacy had in marriage. This chapter is only a beginning point for the discussion on marriage, not a complete statement about marriage or its ethical implications. In other words, Paul gave a broad stroke of the brush on some marriage issues without a lot of detailed explanation.

 

The following is an overview of our verses today:

·         Principles of sex in marriage

·         A word to the unmarried

·         Advice about married people

Marriage and Intimacy! Read 1 Cor. 7:1-7

 

1.      Review these verses. What counsel did Paul give to husbands?

(Men should have one (implied) wife; fulfill the marital responsibility to his wife; husband does not have right over his own body; do not deprive his wife sexually unless it is a mutual agreement for a specified time and purpose)

2.      What counsel did Paul give to wives? (Wife should have one (implied) husband; fulfill the marital responsibility of her husband; wife does not have right over her own body; do not deprive her husband sexually unless it is a mutual agreement for a specified time and purpose. Note: Illness and other medical reasons may also prevent sexual relations.)

Sexual relations in Corinth were strongly tied to pagan worship. Corinthian Christians had been impacted by their culture. Sexual immorality in Corinth was unchecked, and sexual temptations were everywhere. For this reason, the Corinthian believers had questions and Paul provided answers.

3.       How does this teaching of duty and rights in marriage contrast with contemporary views about marital relationships?

4.      What corrections need to be made for a healthy view of sex within marriage? (The world we live in has so perverted sex as to make it something dirty and vulgar rather than a beautiful union of man and wife, as God intended!)

5.      What are some implications to be avoided? (The marriage relationship does not give them license to be controlling, vindictive, or abusive.)

God provided for the natural sexual urges of men and women through the institution of marriage—a God-ordained relationship.

6.      How do Paul’s directives strengthen a marriage? (God designed marriage so that the sexual relationship between a man and woman would be the one thing that would not be shared with any other person.)

7.      What should be some of the distinctives of the Christian view of sex?

Sexual relations within marriage are to be on mutually agreeable terms.

 

Marriage and Singleness! Read 1 Cor. 7:8-9

 

(Read these verses in several different translations.)

1.      How did the different translations add clarity to the meaning here?

2.      How would you summarize Paul’s counsel to the unmarried and widows?

3.      How can singleness as an alternative to marriage be satisfying? (Paul considered himself to be a successful single person, and he wanted to help other single people to be successful and satisfied in their status.)

The Scripture is silent on whether Paul was married at one time and whether he was a widower at the time of this writing. Paul recognized singleness to be a “good” thing, meaning not everyone would fulfill the requirements of singleness. He also emphasized that marriage was God’s way of meeting the sexual needs of people who are single. God has not gifted anyone for sexual immorality!

4.      “Believers are to be content regardless of marital status.” How does the statement summarize Paul’s point?

5.      What is the relationship between what Paul was teaching and God’s expectation of His people living in a God-honoring way?

 

Marriage and Divorce! Read 1 Cor. 7:10-13

 

1.      How does Paul address divorce in verses 10-11? (A wife or a husband is not to leave a marriage. But if they do, they are not to remarry.)

2.      How does Paul address divorce in the situation where one is a believer and the other is not a believer? (If the unbeliever wants to stay then remain together. If the unbeliever chooses to leave then divorce them.)

3.      Why should a believer stay married to an unbeliever? (See verse 16. That is exactly what happened with Sterling Eggleston! His wife was a Christian and continued to live a committed Christian life before him, including attending church week after week. He was finally marvelously saved!)

4.      How does this passage help us understand how to relate to people who were friends prior to our accepting Christ?

Paul’s directives to remain married affirm God’s design for all marriages. Not to divorce applied to all married couples to whom Paul was writing, even believers who had unbelieving spouses. Leaving a spouse because that person is an unbeliever is not a valid reason to divorce. God mandate is for couples to remain married!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      Paul responded to specific questions about marriage for a specific group of people during a specific time, but how do Paul’s answers translate to today’s marriages? (If you are married, you have the responsibility to care for your spouse and to fulfill all his or her needs and desires. We should view being single and being married as gifts from God. To avoid frustration with one’s natural desire for sex, one should pursue marriage.)

2.      Regardless of your marital status, what are you doing to make sure your sexual expression honors God and His design for creation?

3.      How can you help others understand God’s expectations?

 

Our view of marriage and divorce should be the same as God’s view: marriage should be embraced as a permanent relationship between a man and a woman. Consider, too, that Christians who are divorced and remarried are not disqualified from receiving the mercy and grace of God. Determine to encourage others no matter what their marital status is!

Glorifying God - 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

1.      How would you characterize our culture’s view of sex?

2.      How would you characterize our culture’s view of immorality?

The Bible provides ample wisdom and counsel about immorality; however, Christians have fallen short in learning and using this knowledge to impact their lives and lives of people around us.

We have become so desensitized by our culture that what used to be completely unthinkable is common place.  There are few books in the Bible that does not deal with sexual immorality in some way!

Before Christ, the Corinthian believers may have been entangled in unrighteousness. After their conversion God demanded holiness in all areas of their lives. However, one believer had either continued to sin or returned to it, and the church had not dealt with the sin.

There is hardly a week that passes without a teacher, coach, high visibility political figure, pastor or church staff member being charged with some kind of sexual misconduct. It is destroying our lives and Satan is enjoying every minute of it!

3.      To what degree do you think it matters how a person uses his or her body?

4.      How would you describe the connection between your body and your spiritual life?

Through Paul, this session provides an understanding of what God expects of Christians regarding sexual morality. Paul challenged the believers in Corinth, and thereby all believers, to embrace God’s standard for holy, righteous living.

5.      Is this message needed for the church today? (I think one would be hard pressed to find a book in the New Testament that does not deal with sexual immorality in some way.)

Some people embrace the notion that what they do with their own body is their business. The first-century Christians thought similarly. They came out of lifestyles of physical indulgence and supposed that once they were followers of Jesus, everything bodily was still permitted.

 

Focused on Christ’s Lordship! Read 1 Cor. 6:12-14

 

We all have cultural habits or practices that are hard to overcome once we become Christians. Paul possibly quoted something he had said previously or slogans from the broader Corinthian culture. The verses fall within Paul’s larger discussion of Christian liberty and freedom in 1 Cor. 5-11. Either way, the Corinthian believers misapplied the quoted phrase, using them to pursue ungodly actions and selfish ends.

1.      Read John 8:36 and Gal. 5:1. What is the Scripture talking about in these verses about being free? (From the bondage of sin.)

Freedom in Christ is never meant as a license to sin. See Heb. 10:26. We cannot presume on God’s grace. If we choose to sin, saying God will forgive and all will be well, we are wrong! There may be confession but there is no repentance in this case!

2.      What other areas beyond food and sex might master a Christian’s life if left unchecked or unchallenged? (My mouth.)

3.      When we become a Christian do all temptations go away? (Absolutely not. But God doesn’t tempt us, it comes from Satan. See James 1:13-15.)

4.      What is the relationship between freedom and responsibility?

5.      What might be said to believers who think they are free to do as they please?

Paul stressed that believers can live holy lives by focusing on Christ’s Lordship and not being controlled by temporal things, such as food and sexual appetites.

 

Joined with Christ! Read 1 Cor. 6:15-17

 

1.      If Paul were saying these words instead of writing them, what inflection do you think he would use?

As we have already hinted at, there were those who believed that the physical body and the spirit were separated and one had nothing to do with the other. That is not the case!

2.      What did Corinthian believers misunderstand about the nature of sex? (Just as a husband and wife become one through sex, a believer becomes one with a person through a sexual encounter.)

I recently heard about one single adult asking another single adult, “How do you satisfy your sexual needs?” The reply was, “I give it up to God.”! Nothing satisfies more than our relationship with Christ, which unites us with God!

3.      In what way are we part of Christ’s body? (Believers are part of Christ’s body—the church. But we also have the Spirit of God living in us! The two are inseparable. So when we join ourselves with a prostitute God’s Spirit is right there too!)

As members of the church, there is accountability with one another for how we behave!

4.       Why might a person bristle at the thought of accountability with another person?

5.      How does being held accountable by others help a person use his or her freedom for good?

6.      How should being united with Christ impact how a person views what he or she does with his or her body?

Think of it this way. Wherever I go I visualize Jesus being right there with me! Would I go to a prostitute with Jesus right there in the room with me? I think not! The truth is He is right there with us in the Person of the Holy Spirit!

 

Bought with a Price! Read 1 Cor. 6:18-20

 

1.      How are we told to respond when we face sexual temptation? (RUN! Not walk but run as Joseph did from Potiphar’s wife!)

2.      What must the Corinthian believers do to strengthen their ability to flee sexual immorality? (Stay in the Word of God. Stay connected to the body of believers—the church! Hang out with fellow believers. Make wise choices when choosing friends.)

We cannot take chances when faced with sexual immorality. It is powerful, and one cannot reason with it. I’ve known strong Christians who were trapped in this sin. RUN!

3.      To whom did Paul say the Corinthian believers belonged? Why? (They were “slaves to Christ”. They had been bought at a high price!)

We too have been bought at a high price and we should seek to honor Christ with how we use our bodies! Hosea and Gomer.

4.      How does realizing you were bought for a high price encourage you to honor God with how you use your body?

5.      Read 1 Thess. 4:3-8. How does what Paul wrote in this passage compare to what he wrote to the Corinthian believers?

Sexual immorality has a deep spiritual impact on a person’s body, because of the nature of this sinful act. It physically and spiritually corrupts the inside of the body, while other sins corrupt the outside of the body.

Our bodies are sacred vessels that house the Holy Spirit. Therefore, our bodies should be treated with honor and respect!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Unless one lives in a vacuum, no one can escape the widespread exposure of immorality in today’s culture.

1.      How can Paul’s challenge to the Corinthian believers strengthen our resolve to resist the practice of immorality and live holy before God?

Sexual temptation knows no limits. Some have the opinion that as you age your temptations become less and less. But, as I heard someone say just the other day, “My body may be 80 years old but in my mind I’m still 18!”

2.      Are you more focused on Christ or on temporal things?

3.      What evidence would you point to in support of your answer?

4.      What needs to change and how?

5.      Do you think we are responsible to holding each other accountable?

6.      How can we hold one another accountable without judging, condoning, or ignoring? (We become desensitized to sin.)

Some Christian groups form accountability partnerships, or pairs of believers who will help each other be mutually accountable for honoring God with their bodies. These would need to be prayed over and be very, very good friends and keep things confidential!

It is difficult in the world we live in, but we should resolve to guard our minds from the influence of immorality. This means filtering what we watch on TV and other media and what we read!

We must aggressively turn away from every temptation!

United in Christ - 1 Corinthians 1:1-25

1.      What is the purpose of a sports team? (Ultimately, the purpose is to win games.)

2.      What is important for a team to be successful? (Each team member must understand the purpose of the team; their part in contributing to the achievement of their purpose; and their willingness to do their assigned task.)

3.      What happens when there is a team member who doesn’t understand their part or wants to do someone else’s job?

The point: In order to be successful a team must be unified in purpose and be willing to do their part! I have seen team members get so focused on a nonessential that they lost focus on their main purpose!

4.      Have you ever been part of an organization or team driven by a common purpose?

5.      How did that purpose help you deal with differences within the group?

 

Our church is made up of people from many different walks of life, backgrounds and interests, who find their unity in the gospel, in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we let our preferences get in the way of our love and mission, and believers are unnecessarily divided. In this week’s study, Paul addressed divisions in the church at Corinth and called believers back to unity!

 

The gospel arrived in Corinth around AD 50. After Paul and his team had established churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea and proclaiming the gospel in Athens Paul went on to Corinth. There Silas and Timothy as well as the Jewish-Christian couple, Aquila and Priscilla joined him.

During Paul’s third missionary trip, near the end of his two years in Ephesus, Paul wrote the letter we know as 1 Corinthians around AD 55. Paul addresses at least five important themes: Christian unity, sexual morality, women’s roles, spiritual gifts, and the resurrection.  At least part of this letter may have been in direct response to questions that had been asked.

(Point out the location of Corinth on a map and note that it was a major crossroads for land and sea travel.)

 

Call for Unity! Read 1 Cor. 1:10

 

1.      How did Paul address the church in this verse? (“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”)

2.      What difference does it make how Paul addressed the church here? (Paul used the name of Jesus nine times in the first ten verses of this chapter. Paul wanted them to be certain of whom they were to follow!)

(Use the poster from the Pack Item 4, Poster: Problems in Corinth.)

3.      What three specific ways did Paul call the church to unity? (Paul was focusing on basic doctrinal convictions and goals as opposed to unity of opinion about everything-color of paint.)

4.      What factors could potentially threaten unity in a church?

5.      What steps might be taken to ensure that a local church remains unified?

(Consider a brief lecture on “Unity in the Church”. 

Unity is God’s idea from the very beginning. “The Lord your God is one Lord!”

Human’s history is a story of sins disruption of God’s ordained unity! Marriage where man and woman become as one but sinful lust enters; One Language but sinful pride enters; uniting the peoples of the world under one Lord [see Zech 14:19] but self-centeredness enters; Disciples to experience unity as the Son has with the Father; Jesus prayed for unity in the early church in Acts 2:1, 43 and 4:32 but sin enters.

Paul spoke repeatedly of believers as “one body in Christ.” For Paul their unity in the church reflects the unity of the Godhead: One God; One Lord; and One Spirit.)

6.      What are the aspects of Christian unity? (Christ is Lord; One baptism; One mission; Our shared concern for one another; Same love; Shared experience of suffering for Christ.)

When our focus is on the mission we were given by Jesus, Himself, the minor differences become meaningless! Where is our focus!

Contempt for Divisions! Read 1 Cor. 11-16

 

1.      How would you describe the divisions in the church in Corinth? (They each picked their favorite church leader and thought everyone else was wrong. The people who claimed Jesus felt they were more spiritual than others, perhaps.)

2.      What part does selfishness play in the Corinthian believers’ identification with different leaders? (Selfishness is at the heart of divisive spirits. Believers at the church in Corinth were boasting with pride about specific leaders they followed.)

3.      What purpose did Paul’s rhetorical questions serve? (Paul challenged the Corinthian believers to recognize the false doctrine that their divisiveness showed they believed.)

The truth is that Christ is not divided, Paul did not die for their sins, and they were not baptized in Paul’s name!

4.      Why was Paul glad he did not baptize many of the Corinthian believers? (Proof that Paul did not baptize any in his own name. Also, those baptized by Paul did not have any advantage over those baptized by other ministry leaders!)

5.      Where do you see this kind of division in the church today? (Some may choose a particular tele-evangelist; Some a favorite pastor; Some a favorite staff member; the list goes on.)

6.      How does rivalry get in the way of God’s work?

Even though these leaders helped the church in Corinth to grow, Paul’s contempt for this rivalry and division is clear in these verses. Basing allegiances on human personalities leads to prideful boasting and divisions within the church. Every member has his or her role in helping the church reach its mission! See 1 Cor. 3:6-7!

 

We will see that what unites Christians also separates us from the world!

The Cross That Divides!

As someone reads 1 Cor. 1:17-25 listen for references to the cross of Christ. (It’s mentioned 4 times.)

 

For Paul, the cross was a rallying point and unifier for the church. But the cross also divides: it divides those who are perishing from those who are being saved.

1.      According to Paul, what makes preaching ineffective? (Those who preach to impress others with flowery or eloquent speech lose the message of the cross. The listeners tend to be caught up in the antics of the preacher.)

It is through a genuine presentation of the gospel that people will either reject or accept salvation through Jesus Christ. It should go without saying that we should prepare to our very best but we depend upon the power of the gospel message and not the eloquence of our delivery.

The gospel isn’t something we can “talk” a person into accepting. It is through the power of the cross and the convicting activity of the Holy Spirit in that person’s heart! Sorry, but we get no credit!

2.      In what ways does the cross divide? (Paul revealed that those who were unsaved did not take the message seriously, but believers in Christ saw the gospel as powerful.)

3.      How is the cross of Christ divisive in our world today?

4.      In what way was the gospel message a “stumbling block” to the Jews? (The Jews, generally speaking, could not accept that the King of kings and their Messiah would come as a “Suffering Servant”, be nailed to a cross and die a shameful death!)

5.      In what way was the gospel message “foolishness?” (The gospel message that Jesus had died, was buried and arose from the grave three days later is simply foolishness!)

6.      All of us who believe the gospel have come to enjoy God’s wisdom and God’s power. Therefore, we are to exalt nothing above the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving death. What “power” or “wisdom” do nonbelievers today rely on to answer questions of eternal significance?

In all of our studying and seeking, whether in the universe or in God’s word there are no new truths discovered. The truth is already there, we simply discover what has already been placed there by God in the beginning!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Review the summary statements on page 18 of the PSG:

·         Believers are to be unified by their confession of Christ

·         Basing allegiances on human personalities leads to prideful boasting and divisions in the church.

·         The only dividing line believers should recognize is the division between those who are saved and those who are not.

 

1.      Which of those do you feel is the biggest insight you gained during this session?

2.      What walls have you built between yourself and other people?

3.      Which of those walls get in the way of your building relationships with other believers?

4.      What actions do you need to take to begin to remove these walls?

5.      What is one action you can take to begin to remove these walls?

 

I thank God for the unity we experience in our church. There are small disagreements from time to time among our members but they are generally quickly resolved and the mission isn’t hard.