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Monday, March 28, 2016

I Am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25-26)

Outline: John 11:25-26
  1. Explain John 11:25-26
  2. See John 11:25-26 in light of the little story in which it is embedded 
  3. See John 11:25-26 in light of the big story of human history
Summary: Lazarus died so that God might be gloried when Jesus raised him from the dead (11:4).  The story makes it clear that, in God's providence,  Lazarus' death provided a context for Jesus to tell us that He is the resurrection and the life and to prove it by raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus says He is both the means of getting to heaven and the destination itself. Through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we are promised life beyond the grave and escape from the second death.

Discussion Questions:
  • How does Jesus think about and respond to the news of Lazarus' illness and death? What might this teach us about how we should think about and respond to God's providence in our lives?
  • What is the general resurrection alluded to by Martha (11:24; cf. John 5:28-29; Dan. 12:2; Acts 24:15). 
  • What are some of the other "I Am" statements and what do they have in common?
  • What is the meaning of the statement "I am the resurrection and the life"?
  • What promises does Jesus make in vv.25-26?
  • What condition must be met in order to enjoy the promises?
  • To whom does Jesus offer these promises? 
  • How does the resurrection of Lazarus relate to Jesus' resurrection and our resurrection?
Application Questions:
  • How aware am I of God's providence in the circumstances of my life? 
  • What effect should the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead have on my faith? 
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for drawing you into the arms of His Son so that you would be raised with Him on the last day.
  • Praise Jesus for being both the means of getting to heaven and the destination itself.
  • Ask God to help your faith and hope and joy be more fully shaped by the glorious reality of the resurrection.
  • Ask God for courage to tell others that, through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, there is hope of life beyond the grave and escape from the second death. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Praying in Light of Our Real Needs

Outline: Matthew 6:11-15
  1. Petition #4: Provision (v.11)
  2. Petition #5: Pardon (vv.12, 14-15)
  3. Petition #6: Protection (v.13)
Summary: Jesus teaches us to pray by giving us an example, a model prayer known as the Lord's Prayer (6:9-15).  The Lord's model prayer includes six petitions that are to be infused into our everyday prayers, shaping our communion with our heavenly Father.  The first three petitions teach us pray in light of our Father's top priorities: His glory, His kingdom, and His will.  In the last three petitions Jesus teaches us to pray in light our real needs: provision, pardon, and protection. It is when the Father's priorities become our priorities that we we are able to discern what our real needs are and to confidently ask our heavenly Father to meet those needs.

Discussion Questions:
  • Review: What does it mean that the Lord's Prayer is a model prayer?
  • Review: What is the basic structure of the Lord's Prayer? Significance? 
  • Review: What two truths must we keep in mind when addressing God in prayer? (v.9) 
  • What is meant by "daily bread" and how should the Father's priorities shape these prayers?
  • How does asking God for forgiveness relate to forgiving others?  
  • What is the relationship between "lead us not into temptation" and "deliver us from evil"?
  • Discuss this statement: "God tests, Satan tempts."
Application Questions:
  • To what extent are my Father's priorities shaping my prayers?
  • How aware am I of my real needs?  
  • Do my prayers align more with what think I need or what God knows I need? Explain.
  • Am I withholding forgiveness from anyone?  If so, how might this me effecting my relationship with God in general and my prayer life in particular?
  • In what areas of my life do I tend to fail often when tempted and thus need extra protection?
Prayer Points:
  • Confess to God your tendency to pray in light of your priorities instead of God's and your wants instead of your real needs.  
  • Praise Jesus, the Bread of Life, who has come to satisfy your deepest needs.
  • Thank God for providing so bountifully, above and beyond the basic necessities of life.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help more consistently pray in light of your real needs.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Psalms for Each Day of Holy Week

Here is a reading plan for Holy Week that focuses on a Psalm (or two or three) that are prophetic of the events of each day. The best way to read each of these Psalms prophetically is by reading each with the voice Jesus Christ and not the original author. 

[Matt. 21:1-11]

MONDAY: Ps. 8 
[Matt. 21:12-17]

TUESDAY: Ps. 110 
[Matt. 21:20-25:46]

[Matt. 26:1-15]

[Matt. 26:17-46]

GOOD FRIDAY: Ps. 22, Ps. 69 
[Matt. 26:47-27:61]

[Matt. 27:62-66]

RESURRECTION SUNDAY: Ps. 18, Ps. 16, Ps. 2 
[Matt. 28:1-10]

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Praying in Light of God's Priorities (Matt. 6:9-10)

Outline: Matthew 6:9-10
  1. Petition #1: Hallowed by your name
  2. Petition #2: Your kingdom come
  3. Petition #3: Your will be done
Summary: As an introduction to the Lord's Prayer, Jesus taught us two basic prayer principles.  First, our prayers should be fueled by pure motives (6:5-6). Second, our prayers should be characterized by deep trust in our Father's care for us (6:7-8).  What it would look like to infuse these prayer principles into our everyday prayers? Jesus shows us by equipping us with a model prayer, which is known as the Lord's Prayer (6:9-15).  The six petitions in this model prayer give us "hooks" to hang our prayers on. This week we focus our attention on the the first three petitions in which Jesus teaches to pray in light of our Father's top priorities: His glory, His kingdom, and His will.

Discussion Questions:
  • What does it mean that the Lord's Prayer is a model prayer?
  • What is the basic structure of the Lord's Prayer? What significance is there to that structure? 
  • What must we keep in mind when we address God in prayer? 
  • What are we requesting when we pray "hallowed by your name"?
  • What are we requesting when we pray "your kingdom be come"?
  • What are we requesting when we pray "your will be done"?
  • In what way does the phrase "on earth as it is in heaven" serve as an interpretive "key"?
  • What practical steps might we take to see our motives more fully shaped by God's priorities?
Application Questions:
  • To what extent are my Father's priorities shaping my prayers?
  • Am I more concerned about my glory, my kingdom, and my will or vice versa? Explain.
  • If my motives more fully aligned with God's priorities, what powerful effects might this have on my life and the lives of those around me? 
Prayer Points:
  • Confess to God your lack of concern for His priorities.
  • Praise Jesus for being the perfect model of reverence, submission, and obedience.
  • Praise Jesus for dying on the cross to forgive your self-centeredness, that is, your (very human) tendency to make life about your glory, your kingdom, and your will.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you align your motives with God's priorities.
Here are three new kingdom-focused worship songs!

Build Your Kingdom Here - Rend Collective

Let Your Kingdom Come - Sovereign Grace 

All Glory Be To Christ - Kings Kaleidoscope 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sincere Praying (Matt. 6:5-8)

Outline: Matthew 6:5-8
  1. Sincere praying is fueled by pure motives  (vv.5-6)
  2. Sincere praying is marked by child-like trust (vv.7-8)
Summary: Just when we've been freshly inspired to radically obey God's word and display God's character (ch.5), Jesus hits us with a sobering warning in Matt. 6:1: "Beware of doing the right things from the wrong motives!"  Jesus warns us that God will not reward an obedient act if that act was fueled by wrong motives.  Motives matter to God--big time!  In His second illustration of this warning, Jesus teaches us that sincere praying comes from pure motives and a deep trust in our heavenly Father's care for us.  Our praying should be fueled not by a craving to be seen and praised by others, but by a desire to be seen and rewarded by God.  Our praying should be marked not by the empty and mindless repetitions of a pagan, but by the assurance and confidence of a well-loved child of God.

Discussion Questions:
  • Review: what is the relationship between ch.5 and the warning given in 6:1? 
  • What is it about the activity described in v.5 that is hypocritical?
  • Is it possible to be unsaved and still have a passion for prayer? Explain.
  • What reward does a hypocrite receive?
  • Why is God's special presence in the prayer closet and not on the street corner?
  • What does it mean to have pure motives?  What motives should fuel our prayer lives?
  • What difference is there between how Gentiles pray and how God's children pray? (vv.7-8)
  • What rewards can be expected by those who pray out of pure motives and deep trust? 
Application Questions:
  • How much do my motives matter to God?
  • What motives have been fueling my prayer life as of late? What should be fueling me?
  • What habits of empty, mindless prayer have I formed?  What are some remedies?
  • What would it look like to pray like a pure-motived, active-minded child of God?
Prayer Points:
  • Confess to God any impure motives or distrust that have hindered your prayers as of late.
  • Praise Jesus for shedding his blood to wash away all your bad motives and distrust.
  • Praise God for adopting you so that you can relate to Him in prayer as a well-loved child.  
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to deepen your prayer life by purifying your motives and increasing your trust in your heavenly Father's care for you.