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Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Promised Priest (Psalm 110:4)

Outline: The Promised Prophet
  1. The Shadow: Melchizedek
  2. The Reality: Jesus Christ
Summary:  As Christians we recognize that Jesus came to us not only as the Son of God but as the promised Son of God.  Last week we considered Jesus as the promised Prophet.  This week we meditate on Jesus as the promised Priest.  And, as we meditate, we learn that Jesus is of an order that is completely different than that of the Old Testament levitical priesthood.  For Jesus is a high priest "after the order of Melchizedek."  Melchizedek, as a "priest of God Most High," was a type, a picture, a shadow of the ultimate and greatest high priest, Jesus Christ.

Main Point:  The high priesthood foreshadowed in Melchizedek is brought to reality in Jesus.

Discussion Questions:
  • Review: the whole Old Testament is ultimately about ____ ? (cf. Luke 24:25-27,44)
  • In Gen. 14:17-20, what can we learn about the rather mysterious person named Melchizedek?
  • What does Psalm 110, especially v.4, teach us about the coming Messiah?
  • Read Hebrews 5:1-10; 6:13-20; 7:1-28.  How does the writer of Hebrews seek to establish the legitimacy of Jesus' high priesthood?
  • As new covenant believers, what blessings and benefits do we get to enjoy and celebrate since we have Jesus as our great high priest? (It will be helpful to read and meditate on the following passages as you answer this question: Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:14-16; 7:25-27; 9:11-14).  
Application Questions:
  • Have I been confidently drawing near to the throne of grace to find mercy and help (cf. Heb. 4:16)? Why or why not?
  • What blessing of having Jesus as my high priest is particularly impactful right now? Explain.
Prayer Points:
  • Praise Jesus for His perfect, once-and-for-all sacrifice that made it possible for us to enter confidently into God's holy presence
  • Praise Jesus for being a faithful and sympathetic high priest who speaks to God on our behalf
  • Confess ways you have been slow to draw near to the throne of grace to find mercy and help when your sympathetic high priest sits there so able and willing to help you
  • Ask God to grow your understanding of what it means for Jesus to be our great high priest and for a stronger confidence to more readily draw near to Him for mercy and grace. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Promised Prophet (Deut. 18:15-19)

Outline: The Promised Prophet
  1. Promise 
  2. Fulfillment 
Summary:  As Christians we recognize that Jesus came to us not only as the Son of God but as the promised Son of God.  We believe that Jesus' arrival came after hundreds of years of anticipation.  Therefore, Jesus' arrival is a breathtaking testimony of God's faithfulness in fulfilling the promises He made.  Among those promises was the promise to send a prophet like Moses.  God fulfilled this promise when He sent One final prophet, One who is greater than Moses, One whose words all people are called to heed, One who would lead His people into the Promised Land.  Jesus Christ is the Prophet we've been waiting for.

Main Point:  Jesus is the promised Prophet spoken of long ago.

Discussion Questions:
  • What do we learn about how we should read the Old Testament from Luke 24:25-27,44?
  • Define what a prophet is from Deut. 18:18-19.
  • What do we learn about the promised Prophet from Deut. 18:15-19 & Deut. 34:9-12? 
  • Read John 1:20.  What were people even in Jesus' day expecting?
  • What do Acts 3:22-26 & Acts 7:27, 51-52 teach us about the identity of the promised Prophet?
  • What does Heb. 1:1-2 teach us about how Jesus relates to the prophets who came before Him?
  • How does Matt. 17:1-13, Jesus' transfiguration, show Jesus' superiority over all other prophets?
  • "Jesus is greater than Moses."  While statements like this were fighting words to many Jews in Jesus' day, they are good news to all Christians today.  Why?
Application Questions:
  • How aware am I that Jesus is the fulfillment of hundreds of years of God's promises?  How should the fact that Jesus came make me think about and feel toward God?
  • How should I respond to Jesus knowing that He is the promised Prophet?
Prayer Points:
  • Praise Jesus for all the ways He is greater than Moses 
  • Praise Jesus for being the one who can change our hearts and lead us into the Promised Land
  • Confess ways you have not been heeding the words of Jesus, God's promised Prophet
  • Ask God to help you listen more carefully and wholeheartedly to His Son, the promised Prophet

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Letter to the Church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22)

Outline: The Letter to the Church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22)
  1. Rebuke (vv.14-17)
  2. Correction (vv.18-20)
  3. Promise (vv.21-22)
Summary:  We now focus our study on Jesus' final letter, His letter to the church in Laodicea.  Laodicea, of all the churches, was perhaps the most unhealthy.  They were so self-deceived and so self-reliant that they failed realize just how disgusting their spiritual condition had become.  In a word: Laodicea was lukewarm and Jesus was sickened when he "tasted" the stagnant waters of their halfhearted devotion. Jesus counsels them to come to Him as the true source of all value, security and vision.  Jesus then lovingly urges them to repent in earnest, so that they can again enjoy Him in genuine fellowship.            

Main Point:  All churches and Christians are called to conquer their lukewarmness by earnestly repenting of it and by coming to Jesus as the source of all value, security, and vision.

Discussion Questions:
  • How does Laodicea's witness compare to Jesus' track record as the "faithful witness"? 
  • What is it about Laodicea that Jesus finds so repulsive? (vv.15-16)
  • How do lukewarmness (v.16), self-sufficiency and self-deceit (v.17) relate to one another?  
  • What is Jesus counseling the Laodiceans to do in v.18?
  • Reread 3:14-22.  Do Jesus words strike you as loving? Explain (cf. v.19; Heb. 12:5-11).  
  • What does the picture of Jesus knocking at the door teach us about what Jesus is like? (v.20)
  • What promise does Jesus motivate the church with in v.21?
Application Questions:
  • Do I consider Jesus words in 3:14-22 to be loving? Why or why not?
  • Is there any evidence of self-sufficiency or lukewarmness in my life? Explain.
  • Am I looking to Jesus as the source of value, security, and vision in my life? Explain.
  • How does Jesus want me to respond if I have been lukewarm?
  • According to v.20, how willing is Jesus to fellowship with me after I have sinned?
Prayer Points:
  • Confess any self-sufficiency or lukewarmness God has exposed in your life
  • Praise Jesus for loving us enough to say hard things to us and to call us to repentance
  • Praise Jesus for loving us enough to pursue fellowship with us after we have dishonored Him 
  • Acknowledge Jesus as the true source of value, security, and vision
  • Ask God to help you conquer lukewarmness and to be faithful in our devotion to Him

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Letter to the Church in Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13)

Outline: The Letter to the Church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13)
  1. Affirmation (v.8)
  2. Earth-bound promises (vv.9-10)
  3. Exhortation (v.11)
  4. Heaven-bound Promise (vv.12-13)
Summary:  We now focus our study on Jesus' letter to the church in Philadelphia.  Philadelphia, like Smyrna, was a healthy church.  Therefore, Jesus did not speak words of rebuke, correction, and warning but words of affirmation followed by promises that were designed to encouraged and inspire them to stay their faithful course.  Jesus promised to help them triumph and endure the sufferings of this life and to lavish blessing on them in the next life if they conquer, that is, if they continue in patient endurance to the end.         

Main Point:  All churches and Christians are called to conquer, that is, to patiently endure suffering and trials though faith-filled obedience to Jesus.

Discussion Questions:
  • Is v.7b an accurate, one-sentence summary of John's vision of Jesus in 1:12-20? Explain. 
  • What is the church of Philadelphia affirmed for in v.8?
  • What is the relationship between keeping Jesus' word and not denying Jesus' name?
  • How is it possible that Philadelphia had "little power" yet was considered a healthy church?
  • What earth-bound promises did Jesus give (vv.9-10)? What effect are they meant to have?
  • Jesus exhorted Philadelphia (v.11)? Why do even healthy churches/Christians need such exhortations?
  • What heaven-bound promises did Jesus give (vv.12-13)? What effect are they meant to have?
  • What promise is particularly meaningful to you right now and how might you use it as motivation to patiently endure in the midst of your present circumstances?
  • What form does conquering take in the first five churches? How about for Philadelphia?
Application Questions:
  • What am I clinging to in order to make it through? What does this reveal about my heart?
  • How am I obeying God's word in the midsts of my circumstances? 
  • What is it going to take for me to patiently endure to the end?
  • How is my weakness an opportunity for God to show His power? (cf. 2 Cor. 12:9-10)
  • What brother or sister is currently in special need of endurance? What can I do to encourage them? 
Prayer Points:
  • Praise Jesus for using His loving authority to open and keep open the door of salvation to us
  • Praise Jesus for His power and acknowledge His ability help us endure in the midst of trials
  • Ask God to help us not be disheartened by our weakness but to trust all the more in His power 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Letter to the Church in Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6)

Outline: The Letter to the Church in Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6)
  1. Rebuke (vv.1-2)
  2. Correction (vv.2a, 3a)
  3. Warning (v.3b)
  4. Promise (vv.4-5)
Summary:  We now focus our study on Jesus' letter to the church in Sardis.  From man's perspective, the church in Sardis was a success, but, for God's perspective, they were spiritually sluggish and therefore in great need of a wake up call.  In fact, Jesus said that they were spiritually "dead" and that their works fell shamefully short of what God expects His redeemed people.  And, while there were some happy exceptions who had not "soiled their garments" with sluggish devotion (v.4), Jesus clearly desires every Christian and every church to conquer their spiritual sloth, to be fully alive and genuinely awake in the eyes of God.

Main Point: All churches and Christians are called to conquer their tendency to spiritual sloth by actively remembering and obeying God's word.  

Discussion Questions:
  • Is it possible for a Christian and/or church to not have much by way of outward or obvious sins and yet still be in a seriously unhealthy spiritual state? Explain.
  • Why does Jesus rebuke the church in Sardis? (vv.1-2)
  • What is the differences between sins of omission and sins of commission? (For extra study on on sins of omission see James 4:17; Rom. 7:14-20; Lk. 10:30-37; Matt. 25:31-46).
  • What steps does Jesus give to correct and conquer the tendency to spiritual sloth? (v.2a, v.3a)
  • What can people expect from Jesus if they do not conquer their spiritual sloth? (v.3b)
  • What promises are made to those who do conquer their spiritual sloth? (vv.4-5)
Application Questions:
    • Am I spiritually awake or spiritually sleepy? Explain.
    • What are things that I know God would have me doing that I am failing to do?  
    • How important is it to God that I live an active and obedient life marked by good works as opposed to merely avoiding doing bad things? 
    • What changes should I make or what strategies should I employ in order to conquer my tendency to be spiritually lazy?
    • How can we believers help one another stay spiritually awake on our journey to heaven?
    Prayer Points:
    • Praise Jesus for securing our acceptance before God by His active obedience to the Father
    • Praise Jesus for this merciful wake up call
    • Ask God to help you say no to temptation AND live a life of Christ-like, active obedience

    Sunday, November 6, 2016

    The Letter to the Church in Thyatira

    Outline: The Letter to the Church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29)
    1. Affirmation (v.19)
    2. Rebuke (vv.20-21)
    3. Warning (v.22-23, 29)
    4. Promise (vv.24-28)
    Summary:  We now focus our study on Jesus' letter to the church in Thyatira.  While affirmed for their continued growth in love and faith and service and endurace, Thyatira was rebuked for tolerating a false teacher, "Jezebel," whose seductive teachings have lead some church members into great moral compromise.  Therefore, Jesus warned them (and all churches) that He searches minds and hearts and will exercise His authority to repay every person according to what they actually deserve (vv.18,23).  On a brighter note, Jesus acknowledges that, in spite of "Jezebel's" influence, there were some in the church in Thyatira that did not embrace her teaching nor practice her works (just as there were seven thousand in Elijah's day that resisted her influence by refusing to bow the knee to Baal).  It is those who hold fast to Jesus' teachings and embrace His works to the end who will receive the promise.    

    Main Point: All churches and christians are called to conquer by resisting false teachings and deceitful influences that cause one to stray from faithfully following Jesus.

    Discussion Questions:
    • What effect should the words "I know" have on the church in Thyatira? (v.18)
    • What is Thyatira affirmed for? (v.19) How does this compare with Ephesus? (2:4) 
    • What is Thyatira rebuked for (vv.20-21)? 
    • Why did Jesus call the false teacher(s) in Thyatira "Jezebel"? What dots were they to connect?
    • Background study: Read 1 Kings 16-21; 2 Kings 9:21-37.  Who is Jezebel? What does she do?What effect does her influence have on Israel?  How do things turn out for her in the end?
    • How does the character, actions, influence, and demise of the Jezebel of the Old Testament   serve as a warning to all churches? 
    • What will Jesus do to those who embrace Jezebel's teaching and practice her works? (vv.22-23)
    • What does Jesus promise those who embrace His teachings and practice His works? (vv.24-28) 
    Application Questions:
      • What past or present teachings or influences have pulled or currently pull me away from God? 
      • What would it look like for me to resist those influences in order to stay faithful to Jesus?
      • Take time to dream about the honor it will be to reign with Christ. 
      • Is there a brother or sister in my life who is wandering from the truth? If so, what actions should I take to help bring them back?
      Prayer Points:
      • Praise Jesus for proving who He is so that I can know with confidence I follow the real God
      • Praise Jesus for his long-suffering, His patience willingness to receive those who repent
      • Ask God to help you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to resist any teachings or influences that would draw your heart away from Him
      • Ask God for wisdom as to how to lovingly help bring others back from their wanderings 

      Sunday, October 30, 2016

      The Letter to the Church in Pergamum (Rev. 2:12-17)

      Outline: The Letter to the Church in Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17)
      1. Affirmation (v.13)
      2. Rebukes (vv.14-15)
      3. Correction (v.16a)
      4. Warning (vv.16b)
      5. Promises (v.17)
      Summary: We now focus our study on Jesus' letter to the church in Pergamum.  While affirmed for clinging to Jesus in the face of persecution, Pergamum was sharply rebuked for the fact that some among them were compromising both in terms of lifestyle and doctrine.  These compromises, like all compromises, start to become a stumbling block to others within the church and dim the overall witness of the church.  Therefore, Jesus calls the church to repent, to turn away from all such compromises lest He war against them with the sword of His mouth.  

      Main Point: Jesus calls all churches and all christians to conquer, to express loyalty to Him by rejecting all forms of compromise.

      Discussion Questions:
      • What effect should the words "I know" have on the church in Pergamum? (v.13)
      • What is significant about "Satan's throne" being in the place were Pergamum is? (v.13) 
      • What is Pergamum affirmed for? (v.13) How might this encourage and spur on other churches? 
      • What is Pergamum rebuked for (vv.14-15)? 
      • Read Num. 31:16 and 25:1-9 (cf. Num. 22-25).  How should this OT event regarding Balaam's advice and Israel's rebellion serve as a warning to churches? 
      • Why did Jesus call the entire church to repent when only "some" were compromising? (v.16a)
      • What will Jesus do to those within the church if they do not repent (v.16b)?
      • What promises does Jesus set before those who reject all forms of compromise and follow Him faithfully? (v.17)
      Application Questions:
        • How loyal am I to Jesus?
        • What compromises am I currently making or am I tempted to make? What would repentance look like for me?  In other words, what must I do to heed Jesus' warning?
        • Am I aware of compromises in the lives of others in the church that need to be addressed? Make a plan for how to address them biblically.
        • How can Jesus' promises of hidden manna and a white stone spur me on to greater faithfulness?
        Prayer Points:
        • Praise God for the promise of hidden manna to sustain us throughout this life and for the white stone inviting us to enjoy the life to come 
        • Thank Jesus for loving us enough to warn us against dangerous compromises that can plague us spiritually
        • Ask God to help you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to conquer any compromises you currently face and to become a more loyal follower of Jesus
        • Ask God for wisdom as to how to best address any compromises that you see in the lives of your brothers and sisters at FBC

        Saturday, October 22, 2016

        The Letter to the Church in Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11)

        Outline: The Letter to the Church in Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11)
        1. Comfort (vv.8-9)
        2. Instruction (v.10a)
        3. Encouragement (vv.10b-11)
        Summary: We now focus our study on Jesus' letter to the church in Smyrna.  Smyrna, unlike Ephesus, was a healthy church, which is why rebuke, correction, and warning are absent from this letter.  But to say that Smyrna was a healthy church does not mean that life was easy for them. Rather, the believers in Smyrna were well acquainted with pain, poverty, and persecution and Jesus, the One walks among His lampstands (1:12-20), was totally aware of their circumstances.  Therefore, in this letter, Jesus' comfort, instruction, and encouragement was designed to help them conquer, that is, to remain faithful in the midst of their circumstances, no matter the cost.   

        Main Point: Jesus calls all churches and all christians to conquer, to remain faithful to Him in the midst of our circumstances, no matter the cost.  

        Discussion Questions:
        • What circumstances was the church in Smyrna experiencing? (vv.9-10)
        • Should the fact that Jesus is present with the church in Smyrna and intimately aware of all their circumstances be a terrifying or comforting reality for them? Explain.  
        • How does Jesus comfort the church in Smyrna? (v.9; Hint: "I know ____")
        • What instruction must Smyrna heed in the midst of their trying circumstances? (v.10a)
        • What does the phrase "ten days" symbolize? How should it impact the church in Smyrna?
        •  What promises does Jesus seek to encourage the church with?  (vv.10-11) What conditions are attached to those promises?
        Application Questions:
          • What trials am I currently experiencing?  And how am I responding to such trials?
          • How should Jesus' presence with me and intimate knowledge of all that I am going through serve to comfort me? 
          • How am I doing in terms of heeding Jesus' instructions to not fear future trials and to remain faithful no matter how hard things get?  
          • If faithfulness to Jesus meant dying for my faith, would I be willing to do so? How can I live now that would prepare my heart to make such a sacrifice?
          • How should the promise of being awarded the crown of life and being protected from the second death serve to fuel my present faithfulness to Jesus? 
          • What fellow believers can I comfort and encourage with these truths?
          Prayer Points:
          • Acknowledge that Jesus is present with you and intimately aware of all your circumstances
          • Praise Jesus for being a Savior can sympathize with you in the midst of all your trials
          • Ask God to help you to conquer, to be faithful in the midst of your trials, no matter the cost
          • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you run to win the crown of life and dodge the second death
          • Ask God to help your brothers and sisters at FBC to remain faithful through trial so that, as a church, our witness would be strong and bright for the glory of Christ

          Saturday, October 15, 2016

          The Letter to the Church in Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7)

          Outline: In Revelation 2:1-7
          1. Jesus' Affirmation (vv.2-3, 6)
          2. Jesus' Rebuke (v.4)
          3. Jesus' Correction (v.5a)
          4. Jesus' Warning (v.5b)
          5. Jesus' Promise (v.7)
          Summary: After communicating the sobering vision of who Jesus is and what the church ought to be, John now relays a personal letter from Jesus to each of the seven churches (Rev. 2-3). These letters show that the Jesus described in John's vision is the Jesus who is present with and intimately aware of each church and their circumstances. This can be either terrifying or comforting depending on the health of a given local church.  Jesus wants every local church to be a faithful, conquering church regardless of the circumstances they face; therefore, He brings clear affirmation, rebuke, correction, warnings, and promises according to what each church needs to hear and heed.  The first letter is to the church in Ephesus, a church affirmed for their steadfast commitment to the truth but firmly rebuked for their sad and serious neglect of love.  Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms what they must do in order to conquer their sin and receive the promise.      

          Main Point: The church in Ephesus must remember the way they used to love one another, repent of their neglect of that love, and renew their efforts to love as they have in the past.

          Discussion Questions:
          • What does it mean that Jesus "walks among the seven golden lampstands" and what impression should this truth make on all churches, including FBC? (v.1cf. 1:13; 2:23)
          • What does Jesus affirm about the church in Ephesus? (vv.2-3,6)
          • What about the church in Ephesus provokes Jesus to firmly rebuke them? (v.4)
          • What three steps does Jesus command Ephesus to take when He corrects them (v.5)?
          • What is the meaning of the term repent?
          • What warning does Jesus give them if they do not mend their ways (v.5b)?
          • What promise does Jesus extend to them if they do mend their ways (v.7)?  
          • Why is it so important that we have strong minds committed to truth and big hearts engaged in acts of love?
          Application Questions:
            • How firmly am I committed to learning and applying the truth of God's word in my life?
            • How engaged am I in showing acts of kindness, compassion and self-sacrifice toward my brothers and sisters in Christ?
            • Do I need to repent and mend my ways in one or both of these areas?
            • What would it look like for me to be a head/heart person (one marked by truth and love)?
            • Does my individual commitment to truth and love effect the brightness of our lampstand at FBC? Explain. 
            Prayer Points:
            • Praise God for any ways we are excelling in our commitment to truth at FBC
            • Praise God for any ways we are excelling in our love for one another at FBC
            • Repent of any ways you have been personally neglecting truth and/or love
            • Pray that God would help FBC to shine as a head and heart people
            • Ask God to help you grow in your commitment to truth and your engagement in love so that you might do your part to help FBC shine brighter

            Saturday, October 1, 2016

            John's Vision of the Son of Man (Rev. 1:9-20)

            Outline: In Revelation 1:9-20
            1. John's vision of the Son of Man & the churches (vv.12-16, 20)
            2. John's response to the vision (vv.17-19)
            3. How should churches respond to this vision? 
            Summary: John is given a vision packed with symbols designed to tell us about who Jesus is and what the church ought to be.  This vision terrifies John nearly to death.  But Jesus tenderly comforts John with the gospel and then commissions him to write the things that he has seen (and will see) to the churches. This vision of the Son of Man is meant to shape the life and mission of every local church.

            Main Point: John's vision of the Son of Man is designed to both frighten and fortify every local church into faithful living as they await the return of the Son of Man.

            Discussion Questions:
            • Discuss the descriptions of Jesus in vv.13-16. Taken together, what does John want the churches to know about who Jesus is?
            • The churches are symbolized as "seven golden lampstands." What does this symbol say about what churches ought to be? (cf. Ex. 25:31-40, 37:17-24; Lev. 24:1-4; Matt. 5:14-16).  
            • How does John respond to the vision? Why do you think he responded that way? 
            • What effect do you think Jesus' words in vv.17b-18 had on John?     
            • How should the churches in general and FBC in particular respond to this vision of the Son of Man and the seven golden lampstands? 
            • Why might it be important to keep this vision (vv.12-16) in mind as we study the letters to the churches in chapters 2-3?  
            Application Questions:
              • How has this vision heightened my view of Jesus and who He is?
              • How has this vision heightened my view of churches and what they are meant to be?
              • In what ways is God calling me to live more faithfully in light who Jesus is and who we wants me to be as a member of my local church?
              Prayer Points:
              • Praise Jesus as the glorious Son of Man 
              • Ask God to open your eyes to see more of the glory of Jesus
              • Ask God to help you develop a higher view of the local church
              • Pray that God would help FBC to shine brightly for the glory of the Son of Man and for the good of those who desperately need to see Him for who He really is
              • Pray that God would awaken you to be more faithfully devoted to Him so that you might do your part to help your local church shine brighter

              Sunday, September 25, 2016

              John's Greeting to the Seven Churches (Rev. 1:4-8)

              Outline: In Revelation 1:4-8
              1. John's greeting to the churches
              2. John's desire for the churches  
              Summary: The Book of Revelation is a gift from God (v.1) addressed to the "seven churches" (v.4; cf. v.11).  Here John is using the number seven as a symbolic tool referring to the full number of churches (from all times and places), of which the "seven Asia" are representative.  In light of all that he has been shown, John uses his greeting to express his desire that the triune God (Father, Spirit, Son) would use this revelation to strengthen and reassure the churches as they eagerly anticipate the coming of Christ.

              Main Point: John wants the churches to be experience much-needed grace and peace from the triune God through the message of Book of Revelation.

              Discussion Questions:
              • Who is the Book of Revelation written to?
              • How are numbers often used in apocalyptic literature? 
              • How is John using the number seven in v.4?
              • What effect does John hope that the message of Revelation in general and the descriptions of the Father, Spirit, and Son in (v.4) in particular will have on the churches?
              • How does the gospel both save us and send us (vv.5b-6)? 
              • Why will many people wail at the sight of Jesus' coming?  What effect should this have on us in terms of witnessing to the unbelievers that God has placed in our lives?
              Application Questions:
                • What circumstances are troubling me at present?
                • How might the descriptions of the Father, Spirit, and Son in v.4 be used to strengthen and comfort me?
                • What people in my life would wail at Christ's coming? How should this influence my interactions with them?
                Prayer Points:
                • Praise Father, Spirit, and Son for who they are according to vv.4-8
                • Ask God to strengthen and comfort you in light of who He is
                • Praise Jesus for saving you and and for sending you.
                • Plead with God to help you urgently share the gospel with unbelievers so that they will worship and not wail when Jesus comes back.  

                Tuesday, September 20, 2016

                Introduction to the Book of Revelation (Rev. 1:1-3)

                Outline: In Revelation 1:1-3
                1. Introduction: the Book of Revelation as apocalyptic literature
                2. The Book of Revelation is a gift
                3. The Book of Revelation is a gift to the churches
                4. The Book of Revelation is for our joy
                5. The Book of Revelation is meant to produce urgency
                Summary: This sermon serves as an introduction to the Book of Revelation in general and the first three chapters in particular.  To help us get our bearings, we began by focusing on the meaning of the term revelation and how "the things that must soon take place" come to us in the form of apocalyptic literature, that is, laden with words of prophecy, symbols, numbers, and Old Testament quotations. Revelation is a gift from God to the Church and it is designed for our joy in this life and our eternal joy in the life to come.  And Revelation is framed by one all-consuming truth--Jesus is coming soon!  Therefore, we are called to hear and heed the message of Revelation with great urgency.

                Main Point: Revelation is God's gift to the Church to produce conquerors who will live with joyful urgency in light of the Jesus' return.

                Discussion Questions:
                • According to v.1, what is being revealed or made known in the book of revelation?
                • In vv.1-2, note the sequence of how the Revelation is passed on: Revelation is a gift from God passed on to _____, _____, _____, and finally to the _____.
                • "The things that must soon take place" are revealed to us in the form apocalyptic literature.  What are some of the features of apocalyptic literature?  Why might it be helpful to keep these features in mind as we study the Book of Revelation?
                • How do these characteristics of apocalyptic literature serve to "turn the volume up."
                • Who is the one who is truly blessed in v.3? (cf. James 1:22-24)
                • Discuss this point: we can understand the message of the Book of Revelation without understanding every detail within it.
                • What do you think is the basic message of the Book of Revelation?
                Application Questions:
                • What does God want to do in my life through the Book of Revelation?
                • What is one thing that stood out in this sermon that I want to keep in mind throughout this study of the Book of Revelation?  
                Prayer Points:
                • Praise God for the hope of Jesus' return and the fact that the darkness is almost over
                • Ask God to help you understand message of the Book of Revelation
                • Ask God to help you be a doer and not just a hearer of the message of the Book of Revelation

                Tuesday, September 13, 2016

                Godly Submission to Governing Authorities (1 Pet. 2:13-17)

                Outline: In 1 Peter 2:13-17
                1. God ordains governing authorities
                2. God commissions governing authorities
                3. God commands his people to submit to governing authorities
                Summary: This is the second of two sermons aimed at preparing our minds and hearts for the upcoming elections.   After telling us that we are a chosen and set apart people living as sojourners and exiles in this world (2:9-12), Peter goes on to explain how we are to conduct ourselves among unbelievers.  He begins on the societal level, calling God's people to exercise godly submission toward governing or civil authorities (2:13-17).  Christians must recognize that it is God who or ordains and commissions these authorities and therefore our submission to them is in fact another evidence of our submission to God himself.  Godly submission looks like doing so much good that the ignorance of fools is silenced and civil authorities cannot help but praise our good behavior.

                Main Point: Christians are called to honor God by exercising godly submission to civil authorities.

                Discussion Questions:
                • How should the fact that it is God who ordains governing authorities shape the way that we think about the upcoming election? (cf. Rom. 13:1)
                • What does God commission governing authorities to do? (v.14; cf. Rom. 13:3-4)
                • According to 1 Pet. 2:13-17 (cf.Romans 13:1-7), what motivations should incline us to submit to governing authorities? 
                • Are there biblical limits to this command to submit to governing authorities? (cf. Peter and the Apostle's example in Acts 5, esp. vv.29,40-42)
                • Exercise: read 1 Pet. 2:18-3:6.  How does God expect believing wives and slaves to respond to disobedient husbands and masters? How might this help us think through how to respond when civil authorities are disobedient to God's commission?
                • How might Jeremiah's exhortation to Israelite exiles in Jer. 29:4-7 be instructive to us in our cultural moment? 
                Application Questions:
                • Am I marked by godly submission to the authorities God has put in my life (civil authorities, employers, a husband, church leaders, etc)?
                • In what ways do I honor or dishonor the civil authorities God has put in place?
                • What changes need to be made in my thinking and in my heart attitude in order for me to honor God with my words, attitude, and actions this coming election season?
                Prayer Points:
                • Confess ways you have not had a submissive heart toward authorities He has placed in your life
                • Praise God for sending Jesus, the King of Kings, who who has acted and continues to act for our greatest good and who is preparing an eternal kingdom where peace and quite and comfort and lavish provision will be enjoyed by all His loyal subjects. 
                • Ask God to help you grow in godly submission so that you can have a more winsome witness in your different spheres of influence. 

                Friday, August 5, 2016

                Grieving the Loss of the Pals Family

                Dear Brothers and Sisters of FBC,

                Many of you have heard the heart-wrenching news regarding the Pals family.   For those who haven’t, just a few days ago, on July 31st, the Pals were driving to Colorado for their final training before heading off to the Japan as long-term missionaries when they were rear ended by a semi while stopped at a construction site.  The semi rode over them and caused their van to burst into flames, killing the whole family--Jamison (29), Kathryne (29), Ezra (almost 4), Violet (almost 2), and baby Calvin (2 months).  

                These dear friends were just at FBC in April sharing their heart to bring the gospel to the unreached people people of Japan.  This news has pierced many hearts with grief.  Karin and I counted Jamison and Kathryne to be some of our dearest friends and we cannot begin to tell you the sadness we feel.  But, as with so many others, we grieve as those who have hope.  As Christ-followers, our hope is completely bound up in Jesus Christ.  So we lift our tear-filled eyes to the One who conquered the grave, realizing that death does not have the final word for those who have found refuge in Jesus Christ.  For the the Pals, to live was Christ and to die was gain (Phil. 1:21).  For the Pals, death was not a brick wall but a portal into the presence of Jesus.  

                It is right to grieve, to mourn deeply this traumatic loss of life.  But let us grieve with hope.  And let us be inspired by the way the Pals allowed their hope in Jesus to define what they lived for.  They lived for the fame of Jesus and the everlasting joy of the Japanese people.  Please join me in lifting up the follow requests to our heavenly Father: 
                1) Pray for comfort for all those who are grieving, especially Jamison and Kathryne’s family members.  
                2) Pray for the fame of Christ to spread as more and more people learn about the life and death of the Pals family.  Pray especially that God would be glorified through the memorial worship service that will be held this Saturday (learn more here:  
                3) Pray that God would be pleased to raise up, in the Pals' stead, 100 warrior families to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the Japanese people.  
                Let's keep looking to the One who works out even the most heart-wrenching  for our good and His glory.

                Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing,

                Pastor Brandon

                Ps. If you would like to learn more about the Pals family you can read the article posted at World Venture’s website at

                Also, a fund for missions has been set up to in memory of the Pals and, should God stir your heart to give to such an effort, you may click on the following link:

                Wednesday, July 27, 2016

                I Am a Child of God (1 John 3:1-3)

                Outline: (1 John 3:1-3)
                1.     A Child of God made through God’s love
                2.     A Child of God is misunderstood by the world
                3.     A Child of God is transformed when Jesus returns
                4.     A Child of God is passionate for purity

                In the past weeks we have been meditating on our core identities, that is, what it means to be a Christian.  We are a new creature in Christ, we are Priests in a Kingdom of Priests, we are Temples of the Holy Spirit, and last Sunday we learned we are Sojourners and Exiles. This week we studied 4 characteristics of a Child of God. First, we a Child of God made through God’s love. Second, a Child of God is misunderstood by the world. The third characteristic is that the Child of God is transformed when Jesus returns. And lastly, the Child of God is passionate for purity.

                Main Point: 
                Elderly John wants us to know the love of the Father, the beauty of what it means to be God’s children, that we would behold the love that the Father has given us that we should be called the children of God.

                Discussion Questions:
                1.     How does a person become a child of God? (v. 1)
                2.     Why is a child of God misunderstood? (v. 1)
                3.     A child of God is transformed when Jesus returns, so what 3 things define us as we cling to these promises? (v. 2)
                4.     Why should a child of God live a life that is passionate for purity? (v. 3)

                1.     Praise God for making you a child of God through His love, and as you live in hope for the brighter day to come when Jesus returns when everything will be changed.
                2.     Confess the ways that you forget your identity as a child of God.
                3.     Ask God to help you to daily remember your identity as a child of God so that you can live a passionate, pure life. 

                Written by Elder Galen Janson

                Tuesday, July 19, 2016

                I Am a Sojourner and an Exile (1 Pet. 2:11-12)

                Outline: In 1 Peter 2:11-12
                1. God's Pilgrims abstain from the passions of the flesh
                2. God's Pilgrims indulge in a life of good works
                Summary: This week we held the gospel "diamond" up to the light, turned it, and gazed at its beauty from 1 Peter 2:11-12.  Here Peter again draws on the Old Testament and applies it to the blood-bought, Jesus-trusting, new covenant people of God.  To be God's holy people, set apart and marked out from the unbelieving world makes us sojourners and exiles, a pilgrim people who live in a place that is not their home.  And, as pilgrims, Christ-followers are called to abstain from the things that will do harm to their souls and to indulge in a life of good works.  This holy abstinence and indulgence is motivated by a desire for unbelievers to come to know Jesus Christ.

                Main Point: We are God's pilgrim people called win the lost by living holy lives.

                Discussion Questions:
                • What is a sojourner?
                • What does Peter mean by the phrase "the passions of the flesh"?
                • Why is it so important to abstain from rather than indulge in the passions of the flesh?
                • Why is it so important to fight sin at the desire level?
                • What is the relationship between  "abstaining from the passions of the flesh might cause an unbeliever to scratch their heads but indulging in good works."
                Application Questions:
                • How does it make you feel to know that you are God's pilgrim?
                • What passions of the flesh am I most tempted to indulge in and what efforts and I making to abstain?
                • How much does the salvation of unbelievers in my life serve to motivate my own efforts to grow in holiness?
                Prayer Points:
                • Confess to God ways you have been indulging instead of abstaining from the sinful cravings
                • Praise God for sending Jesus, the ultimate Pilgrim, who would abstain where we indulged and indulge where we abstained so that he could die for our sins and bring us to God (1 Peter 2:23; 3:18)
                • Ask God to help you to live a holy, set apart lifestyle so that unbelievers might see your good works and come to faith in Jesus Christ. 

                Sunday, July 3, 2016

                I Am a Priest in a Kingdom of Priests (1 Peter 2:9-10)

                Outline: In 1 Peter 2:9-10, Peter tells us two things:
                  1. Who we are
                  2. What we do
                Summary: This week we held the gospel "diamond" up to the light, turned it, and gazed at its beauty from 1 Peter 2:9-10.  Here Peter draws rich and lavish language from the Old Testament and applies it to the blood-bought, Jesus-trusting, new covenant people of God.  Yes it is those who submit to Jesus by faith that Peter refers to as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession.  As a fulfillment of His OT promises, God made a new covenant with a new people who will render renewed spiritual worship to the One who has redeemed them by the precious blood of Jesus.    

                Main Point: We are a chosen, privileged, and set apart people who belong to God.

                Discussion Questions:
                • What does it mean that we are a "chosen race" and on what basis are we chosen?
                • How does being a "chosen race" relate to being a "holy nation"?
                • How is God possessive in the best sense of the term?
                • What does it mean that we are a "royal priesthood"? Why is this such a privilege?
                • What are we to do in light of who we are?
                • What are some of God's excellencies?
                Application Questions:
                • What effect should the design of divine election have on me (i.e. that God created a new race and chose me to be part of it on the sole basis of His own goodness and love)?  
                • To what degree am I allowing who God says that I am (e.g. a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession) shape how I view myself?
                • What spiritual service am I offering to God?
                Prayer Points:
                • Praise God for some of His excellencies 
                • Praise God for choosing you in Christ before the foundation of the world to be part of a new race made up of people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
                • Praise God for making you holy through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and for His loving ownership over your life.
                • Ask God to help you to live a holy, set apart lifestyle that is noticeably different from the unbelievers around you, a lifestyle marked by a continual offering of spiritual sacrifices and a natural and habitual proclamation of God's excellencies.  

                Wednesday, June 29, 2016

                I Am a New Creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17-21)

                1.  New Creation
                2.  Reconciliation
                3.  Ambassador

                Summary: Two weeks ago we sought to understand the biblical view of meditation. Last week we were given practical instruction on how to meditate and the necessity of meditating on specifically the gospel. This week we meditated on the three fundamental identities that are true of anyone who is in Christ. Our first meditation was that we are new creations in Christ Jesus. This is an act of God causing us to be born again. Our second meditation was that we have been reconciled. We saw that this essentially means that Christ has become our sin while simultaneously imputing or crediting his righteousness to our account. Our final meditation was that we are ambassadors for Christ. We have been entrusted with the work of bringing the gospel to a dying world. We have been called to be faithful ambassadors by proclaiming and protecting the gospel.

                Main Point: For anyone who is in Christ God has made us new creatures, reconciled us to God and appointed us as his ambassadors.

                Discussion Questions:
                •   What does it mean to be a new creation (v.17)?
                •   Meditate on the caterpillar/butterfly transformation and/or the birth of a new baby and how it points our new birth.
                •  How have we been reconciled to God (v.21)?
                •  What is an ambassador?
                •  What does it mean to be Christ’s ambassador (v.20)?

                Application Questions:
                Meditate on these three realities (and their scripture references) until you can clearly articulate their meaning, have become sweet to your soul, and you have a resolution to live out in your life:
                1.   We are a new creation in Christ Jesus (v.17)
                2.   We have been reconciled to God (vv.18, 19, 21)
                3.   We are ambassadors of Christ (v.20)

                Prayer Points:
                •  Thank God for the work of new birth he has done in our hearts
                •  Praise God for sending his Son to take your sin upon his shoulders and in giving his righteousness to you.
                •  Confess any way you have not been a faithful ambassador of Christ.
                •  Ask that through the Holy Spirit these realities would shape our hearts and our minds.
                   Written by Caleb Janson

                Saturday, June 18, 2016

                A Battle Plan for the Mind: Strategies for Meditating on Scripture

                General Strategies for Meditating on Scripture:
                1. Make time for meditation.
                2. Choose a place for meditation.
                3. Learn to linger in meditation.
                4. Keep consistent in meditation.
                5. Remember the goal of meditation.
                6. Choose a subject for meditation.
                7. Pray for help with meditation. 
                Specific Strategies for Meditating on Scripture:
                1. Memorize the text.
                2. Read different translations of the same text. 
                3. Reread the same text several times.
                4. Record observations of the text.
                5. Relate propositions to one another by tracing the logic of the text.
                6. Repeat the verse or phrase emphasizing a different word each time. 
                7. Rewrite the verse or phrase in your own words.
                8. Retell the story or explain the text aloud.
                9. Recall past experiences when you or others have witnessed the truthfulness of this text.
                10. Research cross-references to shed more light on the text.
                11. Respond to the text.
                12. Ask relevant questions of the text:
                  • Philippians 4:8 questions: What is true or what truth does it exemplify? What is honorable about it? What is right about it? What is pure or how does it exemplify purity? What is lovely about it? What is admirable or commendable about it? What is excellent about it? What is praiseworthy about it? 
                  • “Joseph Hall” Questions: What is it (define and/or describe what it is)? What are its divisions or parts? What causes it? What does it cause (its fruits and effects)? What is its place, location or use?  What are its qualities and characteristics? What is its opposite or what is different from it? What compares to it? What are its titles or names?  What other scriptures serve as testimonies or examples of it?
                1. Discern the main point of the text.
                2. Formulate a principle from the text.
                3. Pray through the text.
                4. Invite others to meditate on the text with you.
                *Some of these strategies are adapted from Don Whitney’s Methods of Meditation on Scripture ( and David Saxton’s fine work entitled God’s Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation.

                The Importance of Meditating on the Gospel (2 Pet. 1:3-11)

                1. Strategies for meditating on Scripture
                2. The importance of meditating on the gospel
                Summary: Last week we considered the necessity of biblical meditation and set out a general framework for understanding it.  This week we get more practical.  The first part of the sermon provides strategies for how we can go about meditating on Scripture.  The last part of the sermon focuses on the foundational importance of meditating on the gospel in particular.  In 2 Peter 1:8-9 we see that forgetting the gospel is the cause of ineffectiveness and unfruitfulness in the Christian life. But it is encouraging to realize that if forgetting the gospel stunts our growth, then remembering the gospel will stimulate our growth.   

                Main Point: The habit of remembering the gospel through biblical meditation will increase our effectiveness and fruitfulness in the Christian life.

                Discussion Questions:
                • What three parts make up a balanced definition of biblical meditation?
                • Why is it necessary for Christians to practice biblical meditation?
                • What general or specific strategies for meditation do you find most challenging?
                • What specific strategies for meditating on Scripture have you found helpful in the past?
                • What specific strategies would you like to put into practice and why?
                • Discuss this statement: "there is no such thing as neutral in the Christian life."
                • What causes us to be spiritually ineffective or unfruitful?
                • What habit would increase our effectiveness and fruitfulness in the Christian life?  
                • How much energy should be given to meditating on the gospel in particular? Why?
                Application Questions:
                • What specific strategies should I utilize in order to deepen my meditation on Scripture?
                • How can I use this sermon series to help me cultivate the habit of meditating on the gospel? 
                • If meditation on the gospel became a habit in my life, what effects might it have on me?
                Prayer Points:
                • Confess any unfruitfulness that has resulted from your failure to remember the gospel.
                • Thank God for the blessing of learning the importance of meditating on the gospel.
                • Praise God that the day is coming when your mind will always be filled with pure and noble thoughts, your heart with intense and holy feelings, and your life with perfect obedience.  
                • Ask God to grow your capacity and sharpen your ability to meditate on His Word.
                • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you cultivate the habit of remembering the gospel.

                Monday, June 13, 2016

                A Framework for Biblical Meditation (Joshua 1:1-9)

                Outline: Biblical Meditation
                1. Where is Biblical Meditation in the Bible?
                2. What exactly is Biblical Meditation?
                3. Why is Biblical Meditation so neglected?
                4. Why is Biblical Meditation so important?
                Summary: This sermon is designed for two main purposes.  First, it is meant to be a general introduction to the new sermon series entitled Gospel Meditations: Fuel for Becoming Who You Are in Christ.  Second, and more specifically, this sermon is designed to help us to better understand biblical meditation, which is perhaps the most foundational discipline in the Christian life. But where is such an idea found in the Bible? What is biblical meditation, anyway?  And why is it so neglected if it is so important? These questions and more will be considered in this introductory sermon.    

                Main Point: Biblical meditation is the prayerful pondering of spiritual realities to the point that the mind is being renewed, the heart is being stirred, and the behavior is becoming more Christ-like.

                • To meditate is to sink the roots of one’s mind into the spring of God’s word in order to draw the nourishment and energy necessary to grow and bear fruit.
                • To meditate is to hover next to the flower of God’s word until one's mind and heart are full of its sweet nectar. 
                • To meditate is to so patiently brood over God’s word that new life hatches in the heart.
                Discussion Questions:
                • A balanced definition of biblical meditation is made up of three parts.  What are they?
                • What is deliberate meditation?  
                • What is occasional meditation? Can you think of any biblical examples?
                • How might occasional meditation be a sweet encouragement to the working man or woman?
                • How do deliberate and occasional meditation relate to one another? 
                • What reasons might explain why biblical meditation is so often neglected?
                • Why is biblical meditation so important? Or, what happy benefits result from it?
                • How might our corporate worship times be enhanced if more people gave themselves to the practice biblical meditation?
                • How will practicing biblical meditation fuel the culture of discipleship being formed at FBC?
                Application Questions:
                • How much of my energy do I devote to biblical meditation? 
                • What typically hinders me from making biblical meditation more of a habit in my life and how should I respond to such challenges?
                • What happy effects might the diligent practice of biblical meditation have on my daily life? 
                Prayer Points:
                • Confess to God any lack of delight in His word that has lead to slothfulness in mind and heart  
                • Thank God for filling the world with His glory so that you can fill you soul with it each day
                • Praise God that the day is coming when your mind will always be filled with pure and noble thoughts, your heart with intense and holy feelings, and your life with perfect obedience.  
                • Ask God to increase your desire to devote more and more energies to biblical meditation.
                • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you think hard and often about true and beautiful things (Phil. 4:8)

                Saturday, June 4, 2016

                Building Your Life on the Rock (Matt. 7:24-29)

                Outline: Matthew 7:24-29
                1. Wise people will build their lives on Jesus' words
                2. Foolish people will build their lives on something other than Jesus' words 
                Summary: To conclude His sermon, Jesus reminds us that there are really only two types of people in the world: those who build their lives on His words and those who do not.  After telling us that people who do not do the will of His Father will not get to be with Him in His eternal kingdom (7:21-23), Jesus illustrates the same point by using the analogy of two builders.  A wise builder did the hard work of digging a foundation so that he could build his house on the rock and was therefore able to endure the storm. A foolish builder, however, did the easy work of avoiding a foundation altogether and was therefore swept away when the storm came.

                Main Point: One will either stand or fall based on whether or not one hears and obeys Jesus' words

                Discussion Questions:
                • In what specific ways has God challenged you through the Sermon on the Mount?
                • Discuss: "Jesus didn't preach this sermon in order to be admired and applauded but obeyed."
                • Describe the labor involved in building upon the rock vs. building upon the sand?
                • If the rock represents Jesus' words, what does the sand represent?
                • What do rain, floods, and winds represent? Can you find any helpful clues from the context? 
                • How will obedient people fare when trials and judgment come their way?
                • How will disobedient people fare when trials and judgment come their way?
                • Is obedience necessary in the Christian life? Explain. 
                • How does gospel-grace relate to gospel-obedience?
                Application Questions:
                • Am I astonished at the authority of Jesus' teachings? 
                • In what ways am I taking to heart and obeying Jesus teachings? 
                • In what ways am I ignoring or failing to obediently live out Jesus teaching?
                • What would I be doing differently if I was truly taking Jesus' teachings to heart?
                Prayer Points:
                • Confess ways you've ignored or failed to obey the teachings of Jesus
                • Thank Jesus for leading you to the Father's heart through His preaching and teaching and the ways that Has spoken to your heart throughout this sermon series 
                • Praise God for the ways He's helping you walk in Spirit-empowered obedience
                • Ask the Holy Spirit to to help you more faithfully and radically obey Jesus' words