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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