Week 4 Summaries and Questions for The Life of Jesus Reading Plan


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If you haven’t downloaded your copy of The Life and Teachings of Jesus 2020 Reading Plan it’s always a good time to get started.

Week 4 – January 27-31:

Monday – Mark 1:1-8 (cf. Matthew 3:1-6; Luke 3:1-6): If Mark intends for his gospel to have a title, this is probably it, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (v. 1). Echoing Genesis 1:1, the introduction of Jesus is no less momentous than the creation of the world. Then Mark quickly moves to discussing the work of John the Baptist. John is important in all the gospels, not for his own sake, but as the beginning of the unfolding story of redemption which centers on Jesus.

In your own words, describe John’s mission (vv. 2-3), work (vv. 4-5), appearance (vv. 6), and preaching (vv. 7-8). What do you think it would be like to meet John?

Tuesday – Luke 3:7-18 (cf. Matthew 3:7-12): With a forceful and uncompromising tone, John bursts on the scene proclaiming a message of repentance and judgment. As the “crowds” flock to John, he challenges their motives (vv. 7-9; cf. to Matthew 3:7, “Pharisees and Sadducees”), calls for them to live out their repentant spirit by “bearing fruit of repentance” (vv. 10-14), deflects their Messianic expectations from himself (vv. 15-16) and warns them of the Messiah’s judgment to come (v. 17). Luke summarizes John’s work by saying, “With many exhortations he preached good news to the people” (v. 18).

Repentance and judgement aren’t always popular topics. How could you explain that these two elements of John’s message are indeed “good news” (v. 18)?

Wednesday – Matthew 3:13-17 (cf. Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22): The first appearance of John in Matthew’s gospel takes place in the context of John’s baptism. Unique to Matthew’s account is the exchange between John and Jesus in vv. 14-15. John, recognizing his inferior state (ref. Matthew 3:11-12) to the Savior states, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (v. 14). The substance of Jesus’ reply is clear enough: John is to overcome his objections and carry out the baptism as requested, “Let it be so not, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (v. 15). Jesus never rebelled against the Father’s will (see: 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22), so He did not need to be baptized for repentance of sin. However, the exact why behind Jesus’ words to John, “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” is not spelled out in Matthew.

Using the following verses: John 1:31-34; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 2:3-11; Hebrews 2:17, how would you answer someone you questioned why Jesus was baptized?

Thursday – Luke 3:23-38: Whereas Matthew records Jesus’ lineage from Abraham thru David to emphasize Jesus’ Jewish heritage, Luke traces Jesus through seventy-seven men back to Adam to connect the Savior with all of humanity. From Matthew’s perspective, Jesus is the fulfillment of Abrahamic and Davidic promises, but in Luke, Jesus is the fulfillment of humanity’s hope of redemption. By placing Jesus in a human lineage that ends with God, Luke signals His dual identity, human yet divine, both Son of Man and “Son of God.”

Reflect on this idea, Jesus is one of us! He stands with humanity, sinful humanity nonetheless, which He came to redeem. How does this idea deepen your appreciation of Him?

Friday – Matthew 4:1-11 (cf. Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13): Immediately after identifying with humanity through baptism and heritage, Jesus goes into the wilderness to be tempted as a man. Three times the Devil tempts Jesus (vv. 3, 6, 9), three times He counters with the authority of Scripture (vv. 4, 6, 10; cf. Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:13, 16). The scriptures make God (the Holy Spirit here in Matthew) the author of “testing” (see: Genesis 22:11; Deuteronomy 13:3; Psalm 81:7), not in seeking to make a person fall but in the sense that He proves the depth of a person’s commitment. Having proven His commitment to God’s plan, Jesus will now embark on His public ministry. Jesus’ temptations appear to have little resemblance to ours. Yet, Hebrews 4:15 tells us that He was “in every respect tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Think of your fiercest temptation. In what way(s) is it like one of Jesus’ temptations? How will you combat your temptations in the same way Jesus did?

Week 3 Summaries and Questions for The Life of Jesus Reading Plan


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If you haven’t downloaded your copy of The Life and Teachings of Jesus 2020 Reading Plan it’s not too late to get started. One aspect of this reading plan is that it’s short enough for children and teens to easily do as well as adults.

Week 3 – January 20-24:

Monday – Luke 2:8-21: Rather than announce the birth of the Messiah to Israel’s official shepherds in Jerusalem, a heavenly host of angels proclaim the “good news” (v. 10) to lowly shepherds “out in the field keeping watch over their sheep” (v. 8). Upon hearing the angelic message proclamation, the shepherds “went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger” (v. 16). The Savior of the world was not the mighty Augustus in Rome, but an infant lying in a feed trough in the little town of Bethlehem. The testimony of the shepherds results in three responses: the amazement of the hearers (v. 18), the pondering of Mary (v. 19), and the praise of the community (v. 20).

Going back to the message of the angels (v. 14), to whom does God assure peace? Why to them? Trace the idea of God’s pleasure in Luke 3:2; 10:21; 12:32 what do you find?

Tuesday – Luke 2:22-38: In keeping with the piety of Mary and Joseph, Jesus is circumcised on the eighth day (Luke 2:21) and He was, “according to the Law of Moses” (v. 22; see Exodus 13:2, 12, 15; 14:19-20; Leviticus 12), presented to the Lord. As the family enters the temple, no high priest, nor any other temple official, such as a priest or Levite, receives them. Rather, two otherwise unknown persons, Simeon and Anna, announce the Lord’s arrival. Although they hold no temple office, together these two embody the sincere faith of the common people of Israel. (Not unlike what we saw with the shepherds.)

Write a short description of Simeon and Anna. What do they each add to your understanding of the coming of the Messiah?

Wednesday – Matthew 2:1-12: As much as two years has passed since the night the Savior was born. (This time frame comes from combining Herod’s question in v. 7 with his orders in 2:16.) “Wise men” or “Magi” (v. 1) come to Jerusalem from the east to worship the new born King.  Within Matthew’s narrative this visit suggest three things: First, their coming and bringing gifts, recall the story of the Queen of Sheba’s visit to the other son of David, King Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-10; cf. Psalms 72:10-11, 15; Isaiah 60:5-6). Secondly, the star which plays such a prominent role in the story echoes Balaam’s prophecy in Numbers 24:17, “A star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.” Lastly, these foreign dignitaries become the first example of Gentile faith (cf. Matthew 8:5-13; 15:21-28; 27:54).

The Magi not only found Jesus, but worshiped Him and told the entire city of Jerusalem concerning His coming (vv. 2-3). In what ways has your search for the Lord resulted in your worshipping Him and telling others about Him?

Thursday – Matthew 2:13-23: Warned in a dream to flee, Joseph and family immediately depart “by night” (v. 14) to Egypt. God’s direction to the wise men in Matthew 2:12 has bought time for the family’s escape, but it has only added to Herod’s frustration. Unable to secure the child’s identity leads to the indiscriminate slaughter of males two years and younger. When the threat has passed (literally), Joseph and his family are brought back to Galilee. Throughout this portion of the narrative, Matthew carefully demonstrates how these actions fulfill Old Testament scripture (vv. 15, 17-18, 23).

Why do you think God instructs Joseph and his family to flee to Egypt rather than confront the enemy? What do these early incidents teach you about what was to come?

Friday – Luke 2:41-52: This is the only story of Jesus’ youth among the four canonical Gospels. There were many apocryphal gospels that attempted to fill in the lost years of Jesus’ life. By and large, these extra-Biblical accounts present a miracle-working Jesus with the temperament of a preadolescent. (For example, in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas Jesus turned a rude child into a goat, then back again after the child repented.) In contrast, the Bible’s lone youth narrative focuses on Jesus’ wisdom and humility.

From vv. 46, 49, 51, 52, in what ways is Jesus a model for Christian children today?

Week 2 Summaries and Questions for The Life of Jesus Reading Plan


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If you haven’t downloaded your copy of The Life and Teachings of Jesus 2020 Reading Plan it’s not too late to get started.

Week 2 – January 13-17:

Monday – Luke 1:39-56: Today’s reading brings the two previous passages together into one event. Mary’s visit brought a reaction from John in Elizabeth’s womb. Through the Holy Spirit (cf. Luke 1:15, 41), the Messiah’s forerunner gives testimony to the Messiah even before he was born. Elizabeth praises Mary for filling an important role in the history of salvation (vv. 42-45). Mary replies to Elizabeth with an inspired utterance. Her hymn of praise in vv. 46-55 is known as the Magnificat, (Latin for “Magnifies”). There are strong echoes of Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 in Mary’s words. A striking feature of this hymn is the fact that Mary views God as overthrowing established authorities in favor of the weak and poor.

Respond to God’s deeds of salvation for you in the model of Mary and Elizabeth. Write a few lines praising God (or copy a few lines from your favorite hymn). Share your words with a friend or post them on social media so that God may be praised by others.

Tuesday – Luke 1:57-66: The next two readings complete the birth narrative of John. In keeping with Gabriel’s words (Luke 1:14), the surprising news of John’s birth gladdens the hearts of Zechariah and Elizabeth’s neighbors. Next, the focus of the narrative turns to the circumcision ceremony that occurred eight days after John’s birth (cf. Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3). It’s during this time that a male child receives his name. Those present (the priests performing the ceremony perhaps?) want to name the child “Zachariah after his father” (v. 59). However, when the parents demand the child be named “John” (v. 60, 63; cf. Luke 1:13) Zachariah’s “mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God” (v. 64; Luke 1:20).

Note, that three times Luke described people’s spontaneous reactions to the happenings surrounding John’s birth (vv. 58, 63b, 65-66). What do you think might be Luke’s purpose in repeating this fact?

Wednesday – Luke 1:67-80: Often referred to as the Benedictus (Latin for “Blessed”) the prophecy of Zacharias ends the birth narrative of John. The one who disbelieved (Luke 1:20) now believes, and his first response is to praise God. His prophecy (v. 67) has two sections. The first part (vv. 68-75), set in past tense, declares God’s faithfulness to the covenant with Abraham. The second part (vv. 76-79), set in the future, foretells the redemption promises to Israel that are signified in the birth of John.

For what character qualities and acts does Zechariah praise God? In what way(s) might this prayer influence your own prayers to God?

Thursday – Matthew 1:18-25: Matthew tells the story of the birth of Jesus from the standpoint of Joseph rather than Mary, as Luke does. In his narrative of events, Matthew simply states that Mary became pregnant due to activity of the Holy Spirit, then goes on to tell what Joseph does. When Mary was “found to be with child” (v. 18) that was not Joseph’s, it was expected that he would divorce her (even an engagement required a formal divorce). Nevertheless, an angelic visitor tells him not to do so because all this has happened to fulfill the prophesy of Isaiah 7:14.

These extraordinary events bring Joseph face to face with a difficult decision. What personal qualities does he display in the way he handles the situation?

Friday – Luke 2:1-7: Luke anchors Jesus’ birth in history, in the powerful world of Rome. Our Savior’s advent is not a myth, but rather it is a record of divine activity in historical time. “In those days” (v. 1), God used a Roman emperor’s decree to fulfill the plan He announced in Micah 5:2. Because Joseph was of the lineage of David, he was required to register for the new tax at his ancestral home of Bethlehem (cf. 1 Samuel 17:12). It’s popular to imagine Mary arriving into the town, riding a donkey while in active labor, or at the very least having contractions. Luke however, clearly implies that the family had been in there for some time, “While they were there,” he states, “the time came for her to give birth” (v. 6). In the crowded confines of the village, the only comfortable place to lay the newborn Messiah is a “manger” (v. 7) the lowly feed trough of cattle, sheep, and goats.

Why do you think God had His Son born in the circumstances described in 2:7, rather than in a royal or at least a comfortable household? (consider: 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:1-10)

Week 1 Questions for 2020 Reading Plan


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If you haven’t downloaded your copy of The Life and Teachings of Jesus 2020 Reading Plan it’s not too late to get started.

Week 1 – January 6-10:

Luke 1:1-4: Luke artfully introduces his gospel of the life and teachings of Jesus with a formal dedication following in the classical style of his day. Luke informs us that: 1) Others had sought to compile gospel narratives of the things believers had been taught by eyewitnesses and ministers of the word. 2) It seemed good to him, after careful research, to write his own “orderly account.” 3) Since he had “traced the course of all things accurately from the first,” Theophilus could have certainty concerning the things he had been taught about Christ.

As you begin this New Year exploring the life and teachings of Jesus, what do you hope to learn? How do you want your faith affirmed?

John 1:1-18: In the sublime opening lines of his gospel, John sets forth to introduce the great truths and themes which we will continually visit throughout our reading, such as: Jesus’ eternal nature (vv. 1-3), His incarnation (vv. 4-5), the work of John the Baptist as the forerunner of the Messiah (vv. 6-8), the Lord’s rejection by His own people (vv. 9-11), His saving work (vv. 12-13) and the magnificent Savior, Jesus Christ (vv. 14-18). Over the many entries of our reading plan we will see the richness of each of these topics.

Write down everything 1:1-18 says about the Word, noting who or what He is and what He does.

Matthew 1:1-17: At the outset of his gospel, Matthew, writing for a Jewish audience, establishes Jesus’ heritage as the “son of David, the son of Abraham” (v. 1).  With a series of three “fourteen” generational groupings (v. 17), Matthew demonstrates that Jesus is not only a direct decedent of Abraham and David, but ultimately the fulfillment of the covenant God made with each man (see Genesis 12:1-3; 2 Samuel 7:12-16).  Secondarily, Matthew wants to demonstrate God’s providential working to bring the Messiah into the world. He didn’t forget His promises to Abraham and David but worked to bring the Anointed One at just the right time (cf. Galatians 4:4, 29).

Look over the various names Matthew includes, which ones do you recognize? Other than Abraham and David, what significance can you attach to any of these people?

Luke 1:5-25: Following his introduction, Luke begins his narrative with the dramatic account of the foretelling of the birth of John the Baptist. In Jesus’ day most Jews believed that for more than 400 years God had actively spoke to His people since the prophet Malachi lived. Malachi ended his work with a promise from God to raise up Elijah and usher in spiritual renewal in Israel (Malachi 4:1-6). Now with the foretelling of John’s birth, God is remembering His long made promise by raising up Elijah in the figure of John (compare Luke 1:16; Malachi 3:1; 4:6).

From the text, describe Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth.  What, in Zechariah’s mind, made the promise of a child unbelievable? Have you ever responded to God’s promises as Zechariah did? Explain.

Luke 1:26-38: Next Luke turns his attention to the foretelling of Jesus’ birth. This section parallels the one immediately preceding (Luke 1:5-25). Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus as he had John’s (cf. Luke 1:19, 26). Again, a divinely initiated birth announcement shows the unique significance of the individual to be born. In the preceding section the father was the main figure, but in this one the mother is the center of the story. The significant feature of the birth of Jesus is that His mother was a virgin. The importance of the virgin birth cannot be overstated. A right view of the incarnation hinges on the truth that Jesus was virgin-born. Both Luke (v. 34) and Matthew (Matthew 1:18-25) expressly state that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived. The Holy Spirit produced the conception through supernatural means (v. 35). The nature of Christ’s conception testifies to both His deity and humanity in one.

How does Mary respond to the angel’s proclamation (v. 34, 38)? Compare Mary’s response to Zechariah’s in 1:18. Why did Mary receive no rebuke? How can you cultivate Mary’s attitude?

See you next week. Keep reading and meditating on the Life and Teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus. ~Clay

The Life and Teachings of Jesus – 2020 Reading Plan


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Our relationship with Jesus is like a journey, the more we walk with Him the more we know Him. Would you like to know Jesus on a deeper level? If so, then let me invite you to join me on a journey through The Life and Teachings of Jesus. Through a combination of the four gospels, we’ll chronologically trace the footsteps of Jesus’ life from His preexistence with the Father, through His ministry in Galilee, to His submission to the cross and His ultimate triumph in the resurrection. Through short daily readings (starting Monday, Jan. 6th), along with insightful summaries and challenging questions, there’s much to learn. Download your copy today. It is my hope that as we journey together through the greatest story ever told we’ll find, as did the apostle Paul, that “everything is loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). ~Clay Gentry 

The Life and Teachings of Jesus 2020 Reading Plan

A Simple Way to Serve a Memorable Thanksgiving Meal


Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred” (Proverbs 15:17).

This proverb, contrasting two meals, bases the pleasantness of the meal on the heart of the participants and not the food. A simple salad or a pot of vegetables can be a feast if love unites the the souls of those at the table. But if there is hatred or strife present, even succulent filet mignon disappoints.

This week, families will gather together for the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Unfortunately, many will have meals mingled with strife and tension. The conversation among relatives will be negative, critical and sarcastic; while others will remain sullenly silent in quiet rage. Such behavior becomes a habit; strife becomes a family tradition and they do not even know their error. The time and expense of the Thanksgiving meal will be spoiled by strife (cf. Proverbs 17:1). At the end of it all everyone is just thankful that it’s over. These things should not be among Christian families, but sadly they are.

So this year, heed the Wiseman, prepare a memorable Thanksgiving meal for yourself and those you love. Foster peace, harmony, unity, and love one for another – no matter what you eat. The result will be a balm to each soul present and a joyful pleasure to every heart. With love as the centerpiece of your gathering, it won’t even matter if the turkey is dry.

A few questions to consider:

1) Recall a time when you had a meal mingled with bitterness, hatred, contention, or resentment. Describe the tenseness and the stress. How did these bad attitudes ruin what should have been a pleasant event?

2) Think of a time when you had a wonderful meal with just a few simple things, because you loved the person(s) you were with, and they loved you. Describe the love and companionship. How did these good attitudes contribute to the happiness of the simple meal?

3) With holiday gatherings approaching, examine yourself. Have you offended others? Have they offended you? If so, are you harboring bitterness in your heart toward them? What will you do today to correct and/or perfect relationships in your home or within your extended family so that meals together are pleasant, soul strengthening experiences?

Week 23 Questions for 2019 Bible Reading Plan


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The early church had learned how to deal with persecution from outside the community, but needed help defending themselves against those who would destroy her from the inside. Differences within the church were not uncommon – but the recipients of Peters second epistle, Jude’s little letter, and Paul’s communications to the Corinthians faced something altogether different those who purposely distorted the gospel for their own gain and immorality. Peter and Jude denounce these false teachers, while Paul calls the Corinthians to a life of holiness, all three encourage their readers to stand firm in the faith, holding to the promise that Jesus would someday return.

This week in New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs Reading Plan we’ll read 2 Peter and Jude and start 1 Corinthians. Along with these New Testament epistles, we’ll read Psalms that call us to communal thanksgiving and wisdom from Proverbs that challenges to be better parents for our children along with a prescription for a peaceful heart. It was good to be back writing this week after an extended break. Blessings to you friends and keep reading God’s word.

Monday, June 3 – 2 Peter 1; Psalm 64

After writing an earlier letter telling his readers to expect suffering as a part of this life, Peter now writes a second letter. This time he points toward the end of life: our eternal reward. It’s not uncommon to sometimes see v. 3 called the key to Peter’s second letter. What all would you expect to find in a book with this verse as an introduction? How are knowledge of Jesus and godly living related to each other? If you were to increase your knowledge of Jesus and more fully draw on His power for your life, what changes would you hope to see in yourself?

In Psalm 64, David asks God to judge the enemies of the righteous. This psalm begins with a vivid description of the devious ways of the wicked, especially their speech (vv. 3-5, 8). Still, David does not fear that God will lose control of the situation. He requests divine protection and voices confidence that God will judge his wicked foes. The godly should commit their case to God in prayer when they become targets of malicious gossip. They can also rest in the assurance that God will eventually turn the antagonism of the wicked back on them (ref. 1 Samuel 25). He will do so for His own glory and for the welfare of those who trust in Him. Why is gossip so hurtful? Recall a time when someone’s gossip especially hurtful. How did you respond? After reading Psalm 64, in what ways will you react the same or differently the next time someone spreads gossip about you?

Tuesday, June 4 – 2 Peter 2; Proverbs 14:22-29

As Peter continues preparing his readers to hold onto their faith without him (ref. 1:12-15), he addresses the dangers of heresy and targets the “false teachers” of his day who tempt Christians. Here Peter makes a stand for truth against heresy, providing us with an example of standing up for truth in a relative society. With so many different views about God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, how can we identify “false prophets” and “false teachers”? Study vv. 4-9 and any cross references you have, what did Peter want his readers to learn from these Old Testament events? Why are false teachers and their heresies like “waterless springs and mists driven by a storm” (v. 17a)? In what ways can you protect yourself from the influence of false teachers?

“In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death” (vv. 26-27). The catchword connection between these two proverbs is, “The fear of the Lord.” A life committed to reverential awe of God reaches beyond its own existence. Since evil not only attacks but also attracts, a parent must know and show their family something both stronger and better. Through faith the believer finds the abundant life that saves him and others (namely his children) from death. How would you define “The fear of the Lord” in terms a child would understand? In what ways will “children… have a refuge” in a parent who’s life is rooted in “the fear of the Lord”? Think of several concrete things you can do as a parent (or a parental figure) to show a child the joys of living for God.

Wednesday, June 3 – 2 Peter 3; Psalm 65

Nearly everyone is in agreement that the world will someday end, folks just differ on how it will end. From nuclear holocaust, to global-warming, to drug-resistant disease, or even alien invasion it seems there’s all sorts of end-of-the-world theories (or fantasies). The final chapter of Peter’s final letter speaks of the end-times destruction of the earth but not through catastrophe but through the return of Jesus. Naturally, there are those who scoff at the prospects of divine judgment. Peter and the church of his day had to contend with scoffers who cast doubt on the Lord’s returning, judging His creation and redeeming His people. Unfortunately, scoffers still abound. How does Peter answer the questions raised by the scoffers (vv. 5-7) and the faithful (vv. 8-10)? What words and phrases throughout this passage help describe the day of the Lord? Answers Peter’s question in v. 11, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people out you to be…?” Why might living this way prepare you for the kind of day described here?

Psalm 65 is a praise psalm, full of hopeful, confident, even enthusiastic feelings in response to God’s goodness through His spiritual and natural blessings. This psalm is a communal song of thanksgiving that celebrates God blessing His people with forgiveness and a bountiful land (note the plural pronouns in vv. 3, 4, 5). Other communal psalms of thanksgiving are 66, 107, 118, 124, and 129. In spite of our sins, God provides atonement and blesses His environment with many good things so we can prosper and rejoice. It is only fitting that together we give God thanks. List four or more blessings this psalm expresses gratitude for. How do God’s wonders and blessings call forth songs of praise? What value does expressing gratitude to God in a communal setting hold for you? If you church doesn’t already do so, organize a thanksgiving service of songs, prayers, and testimonies of God’s blessings. Make sure you incorporate some of the communal thanksgiving psalms.

Thursday, June 4 – Jude; Proverbs 14:30-35

Jude lived in a time when Christianity was under severe attack from without by the political forces of the day and more importantly from within by aggressive false-teachers. Jude paints a bleak picture of the situation the church faces. He sees an apostasy that undermines grace, disdains authority, and appears beyond repentance and redemption. Thus, Jude calls the church to fight, in the midst of intense spiritual warfare, for the truth. In face of the problem of false-teachers, Jude gives his readers two sets of instructions: “remember” (v. 17) and “build yourselves up” (v. 20). Notice the specific instructions under each of these. How would remembering in the way Jude describes help believers keep the essential ingredients of the Christian faith? How would building ourselves up in the ways Jude outlines (vv. 20-23) help us keep on living in a way that is true to our faith? What errors in faith and life do you see as subtle dangers to today’s Christians? Using Jude’s little epistle as your source, how can you protect yourself, and other believers whose lives you touch, from falling into these errors?

“A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones” (v. 30). Here the Wiseman contrast the peace of contentment with the cancer of jealousy. A contented, peaceful heart will preserve one’s life, but jealousy will kill him. A person who is content with what they have in life possess a peace of mind that leads to a healthy mind, body, and soul. While on the other hand, a resentful mind, which focuses solely only what others have, is like bone cancer that rots the most firm components of the body and shortens a person’s life. Why do you think peaceful contentment leads to a healthy mind, body, and soul? How is jealousy like a cancer to rots a person from the inside? When do you find yourself tempted to be jealous of someone else? When those times come, what will you do to bring peaceful contentment into your heart? Ask God to give you a peacefully content heart.

Friday, June 5 – 1 Corinthians 1; Psalm 66

The church in Corinth was far from perfect. While in Ephesus, Paul hears from several sources a long list of complaints about this eager but misguided flock. From division and factions, to sexual immorality, to abuse of spiritual gifts, to false teaching about the resurrection and much in between the Corinthians were church in trouble. The most serious problem of the Corinthians was worldliness, an unwillingness to divorce themselves from culture around them. I think it’s safe to say, that of all the churches in the New Testament, the church at Corinth was perhaps the most dysfunctional. In light of the topics Paul will discuss throughout this epistle, why do you think he describes himself as “called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus” (v. 1)? And why do you think he identifies his readers as “to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (v. 2)? Next, Paul surprisingly affirms his readers by giving thanks for them. What does he say about why he is thankful for them? How does Paul’s view of the Corinthians in these opening verses challenge you to view dysfunctional churches and Christians?

Psalm 66 is a song of thanksgiving, as was the previous one. We do not know the writer or the occasion for sure (though a crises of some sort is referenced in vv. 10-12). This joyful psalm begins with group praise (vv. 1-12) and then focuses on individual worship (vv. 13-20). The psalmist rehearses the Red Sea and Jordan River crossings from Israel’s past (v. 6a; ref. Exodus 14; Joshua 3-4) and testifies that God has always been faithful in the midst of serious troubles. First, communally then individually God’s people acknowledge His deliverance and invite other people to join them in praising Him (v. 8a). How might communal praise mentioned in Psalm 65 and here in vv. 1-12 encourage and foster individual worship (vv. 13-20)? How should the giving of thanks and recounting the Lord’s awesome deeds motivate our hearts to call others to know and worship God (v. 8a)? The psalmist ends with a note of his righteousness before God (vv. 16-20). What role should thanksgiving play in promoting a righteous life?