The Spirit of Wisdom: Sustaining Prayer and Bible Study

On Saturday evening of our 2019 Retreat, several brothers taught on different topics in a session entitled The Spirit of Wisdom. In the second session, Timothy Adams asked whether our times with God equip, strengthen, and refresh us. He then shared many practical lessons from his own spiritual journey that have helped him deepen his relationship with God.

The Spirit of Wisdom: Staying Strong without an Ideal Local Fellowship

On Saturday evening of our 2019 Retreat, several brothers taught on different topics in a session entitled The Spirit of Wisdom. In the first session, brother Mahlon Fisher spoke about Staying Strong without an Ideal Local Fellowship, providing key principles that have helped him continue to grow as a Christian over the past years.

The Holy Spirit (Pt. 3 of 3): Walking in the Spirit

In this third of three foundational lessons on the Holy Spirit, we build upon Old Testament stories (introduced in the previous lesson) to explore what it means to live a life that is led by the Spirit today. We review the Spirit’s role in leading the apostles to “all truth” and inspiring the Scriptures; and consider how Jesus urges us to pray boldly and persistently for (more of) the Spirit. The Spirit also calls us to live holy lives, as Paul calls us to avoid immorality because “our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit”. Finally, we consider the Spirit’s role in helping us toward one of the toughest challenges of all: the unity of all Christians.

The Holy Spirit (Pt. 2 of 3): The Mission of the Holy Spirit

Understanding the nature, purpose, and role of the Holy Spirit is essential to our Christian faith. In this second of three lessons on the Holy Spirit, we begin by looking at the Trinity. We borrow from early Christian insights to understand (and explain to others, including 1.6 billion Muslims in the world) the "oneness" of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as well as their distinct roles and characteristics. Next, we look at pictures from the Old Testament that help us understand the role of the Holy Spirit, including: the pillar of cloud and fire in Israel's exodus journey and the rock which produced water in the desert. These examples provide great insight into the role of the Spirit in our lives individually, as well as collectively in the Church.

The Holy Spirit (Pt. 1 of 3): The Nature of the Holy Spirit

The night before He was crucified, Jesus told His closest disciples that He must depart in order to be able to send them the Holy Spirit: a Helper who would abide with them and be in them. Yet some churches today virtually ignore the role of the Spirit! We start this lesson by recounting the clash in perspectives that took place 100 years ago in the Churches of Christ on this subject, and its tragic aftermath. From there we begin the process of taking a fresh look at the character of the Spirit, starting with key insights from the Old Testament. This is the first lesson of a foundational 3-part series on the Spirit.

Biblical Separation, Pt. 4: Nonconformity through Transformation

In Romans 12, Paul appeals to Christians to be “transformed by the renewal of your mind.” This type of transformation is not superficial, but leads to a new, heavenly perspective on everything we encounter. This lesson explores this transformation, including how Biblical nonconformity affects how Christians treat each another and those outside of the church.

Biblical Separation, Pt. 3: Take Up Your Cross

In Matthew 16, Jesus grants Peter special blessings and privileges, but then promptly rebukes Peter for minding the things of men and not the things of God. This lesson looks at Peter (as well as good and bad examples from the Old Testament) and the temptation to embrace human interests and worldly methods, even as we seek to accomplish God’s purposes. Jesus’ clear direction points to a better way, that the world will simply never follow.

Biblical Separation, Pt. 2: Do Not Be Unequally Yoked

In 2 Corinthians chapter two, Paul directs the Christians not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Instead, they are to come out from the world, so that God might receive them, dwell in them, and be a Father to them. In this lesson we take a close look at Moses’ hunger to know God, His ways, and to have God’s presence with him. Our longing as Christians to meet with God and to have close fellowship with Him is central to our Biblical separation from the world.

Biblical Separation, Pt. 1: Expelling the Canaanites (Judges 1-2)

In this first of a five-part series on Biblical Separation from the World, Ray Wenger describes foundational principles of Biblical separation from the world, including God’s goodness, examples of artificial separation, and how compromise in our obedience to God’s commandants leads to spiritual destruction. May we find decisive victory over our spiritual Canaanites where Israel failed, and reap the rewards that God seeks to bestow upon us.

Now I Call You My Friends (John 15:11-17)

Jesus, the Son of God, through whom the universe was made, opens the door in John 15 for everyone to become His friend. But what does it mean to be Jesus' friend?  What blessings did Jesus promise to give His friends?  And what did Jesus say was required to be His friend? This lesson answers these questions, and reveals how our friendship with Jesus is directly related to the effectiveness of our prayers, the depth of our love for others, and being saved at the end.  

The Vine and the Branches (John 15:1-10)

A  third of the world's population calls itself Christian. Yet most believe that following Jesus and making it to heaven does not actually require obeying what He taught. In John 15, Jesus provides an allegory of the Vine and the branches, a beautiful picture of how to understand our relationship with Jesus and what is required by us to be saved in the end. Grasp this teaching and you will also understand the blessings available to anyone who abides in Christ and allows himself or herself to be pruned by the Gardner. In just ten verses, this teaching may also do more to demolish the foundation of Reformation Theology than any other passage of Scripture.

He Will Teach You All Things (John 14:26b-31)

The night before Jesus died, He promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would teach them “all things” and guide them “into all truth”. The idea that the faith was handed down to the apostles complete, with no improvements or changes to follow later, has revolutionary implications for the church today. In this lesson we will examine other New Testament passages that confirm this teaching. We also will consider attempts to make the modern Christian faith “more progressive” by incorporating popular teaching on radical feminism and homosexuality.

Jonah and Other Prophecies About the Resurrection of Jesus

The entire Christian faith hangs on the resurrection of Jesus on the third day. Paul told the Corinthian Christians that if it did not happen “your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins”. But how can we know for sure? Jesus and the apostles pointed to the evidence of Old Testament prophecies written hundreds of years before. In this lesson, given on an Easter Sunday, we look at several prophecies specifically about the resurrection. This includes one amazing prophecy woven into the details of the famous story of Jonah and the whale. This lesson that can strengthen your own faith, and equip you with the evidence to persuade others.

More on the Holy Spirit (John 14:25-26a)

In this lesson we continue our study of the Holy Spirit. We turn to important passages from the Old Testament that reveal the Spirit as the guide on our journey from spiritual slavery, through the Wilderness of this life, to heaven. We also look at the critical role of the Spirit in guiding the writers of Scripture: the basis of our confidence in the Bible as the inspired Word of God.

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-24)

Before Jesus leaves His followers, He tells them that the Father would send them a Helper, the Spirit of Truth and that this Spirit would be in them. In this lesson we look at the relationship of the Spirit with the Father and the Son, the personality of the Holy Spirit, whether the Spirit actually lives in us, and the danger of quenching the Spirit. We also look at several images that can help us understand the Spirit's role as guide, comforter and protector in our lives individually and collectively as the Church.  

Seek Wisdom

PDF of Lesson Notes

When Solomon was a young man, the Lord appeared to him in a dream and asked, “What do you want?” Solomon requested wisdom in order to govern God’s people properly, and as a result, God blessed him with legendary wisdom. Solomon later teaches about the importance of wisdom: to keep us from laziness, sexual immorality and other sins. In this lesson we explore the importance of wisdom for our salvation, as well as practical steps to obtain spiritual wisdom (or to become even wiser). 

Show Us the Father (John 14:7-14)

In this lesson we take a deep look at the relationship of the Father and the Son, addressing misunderstandings and providing analogies used by the early Church to help us understand the mystery of the trinity.  We also consider what Jesus might have meant when He promises we will do greater works than Him, a statement that should challenge the fruit of our lives. Finally, we consider what Jesus means (and does not mean) when He says “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

You Know the Way (John 14:1-6)

The night before He is killed, Jesus comforts his disciples, telling them He would prepare a place for them, that they would later join Him at that place, and that they knew the way to get there. Thomas objects, saying the twelve did not know where Jesus was going, nor the way to get there. Like Thomas, many Christians are confused about their ultimate destination and the way to get there. In this lesson, we look at Jesus' simple and plain teaching regarding our destination, the way we get there, and the radical implications of this teaching on our lives of Christ's followers. 

The Most Disturbing Story in the Bible (Judges 19-21)

PDF of Lesson Notes

**WARNING - due to the disturbing nature of the subject, this lesson may not be suitable for children**

The Old Testament contains some things that are difficult for us to reconcile: oppression of women, brutal violence, indifference toward the helpless, and even genocidal wars. Perhaps the most disturbing story of them all (containing all of these elements) is the account of the Levite and His Concubine, in Judges 19-21. In this lesson we tackle that story, to see if we can find anything redeeming in it; and uncover some surprising things in the process.