What did Jesus mean when He announced, “I am the Good Shepherd”? Was this simply an illustration He came up with on the spot, or was He pointing back to prophecies or foreshadowings from the Hebrew Scriptures? In this lesson we consider five good shepherds in the Old Testament, as well as five significant prophecies about a good shepherd to come. Taken together, they provide a multi-faceted picture of the personality and mission of Christ.
Jesus has healed a young blind man who stands up to and is rejected by the Pharisees. To put this in perspective, Jesus tells a parable about a sheepfold, a shepherd, thieves and robbers, and explains that He is "the door of the sheep." This confuses his hearers, but Jesus' teaching is profound and reveals deep truths, foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament. We also consider how Jesus’ subsequent promise of “the abundant life” for his followers has been terribly distorted by many, and what Jesus' promise does (and doesn’t) mean for His Church.
In John 9 Jesus performs an extraordinary miracle, giving sight (in an unusual way) to a young man born blind. Through this one event, Jesus answers the question of who sinned (the man or his parents), fulfills prophecy, reveals his divinity and identity as the Son of God, and comforts the afflicted. This lesson encourages us to deal with our own spiritual blindness and to recognize the spiritually blind world around us, that we may help them see.
At the end of John 8 Jesus makes several remarkable statements for which the Jews take up stones to kill him. In addition to calling the Jews liars, Jesus says "if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death", that "Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad" and "before Abraham was, I am." What do these statements mean? And why did they prompt the Jews to try to stone Jesus? The answers to these questions reveal much about Jesus' identity as God's Son, His divinity, His power over death, and His purpose for coming to earth — all of which should shape our understanding of Him, strengthen our faith and sharpen our priorities.
In John 8 Jesus called his enemies “sons of the devil”. He then describes Satan as a murder from the beginning, a liar, and the father of lies. Although Jesus had much to say about Satan, most professing Christians today do not even believe in the existence of Satan as a real spiritual being with a personality. However, understanding Satan is critical to understanding the condition of the world around us, the cause of suffering, and even the mission of Jesus. In this lesson we explore the nature of Satan, where he came from from, tactics he uses, and how we can defeat him with God’s help.
Jesus tells the Jews who believe in him that if they abide in his teaching, they will be set free. Those who hear him are puzzled; they are already free men and have never been slaves! But Jesus is speaking of spiritual slavery: being enslaved to sin. In this lesson we explore the freedom Jesus offers us, which is much different from what the world (and many Christians today) are seeking.
Jesus boldly announced, “I am the Light of the world.” Why did he say that? Was there some prophecy in the Old Testament Scriptures that spoke of a great light that would come? And in what ways is Jesus similar to light? In this lesson we explore the great theme of light versus darkness in the Scriptures, and its powerful implications for how we live our lives and how we share our faith to a world in utter spiritual darkness.
Oh what blessings are available if we exchange our lower thoughts for God’s higher thoughts. This lesson looks at more examples in Scripture of those faced adversity with God’s wisdom and perspective — and were used mightily to accomplish His purposes in His timing.
We were blessed to have our friends Ray and Rhoda Wenger come and visit this past weekend, with Ray teaching four lessons for our house church. The first of a two-part series asks us to consider individuals in Scripture who were able to embrace God’s higher thoughts during times of adversity and perplexity. In so doing, they were taken to a new level of faith and used by God in miraculous ways. May we be inspired to do the same!
For more about Ray and Rhoda and to hear more teaching from Ray, visit www.wengerministries.org.
In our second in a series of lessons on Biblical submission, we take a look at what the Bible teaches regarding being a bondservant, both literally (under another person’s authority) and figuratively (as servants of God). The examples of Christ, Paul, Peter, Joseph, Philemon, Onesimus, and the early Christians, provide insight, instruction, and inspiration as to how God views bondage, suffering and freedom, as well as what God expects of us in our relationships with those who may have authority over us, including our employers.
[PDF of Lesson notes to be posted shortly]
Hidden in plain view, in the famous story of the Exodus from Egypt, we find a detailed map of the Christian journey of faith. The connection is suggested in one of the psalms, but revealed by insights from three books in the New Testament and by early Christians. This is an unforgettable, faith-building lesson that sheds light on a number of foundational teachings: on sin, eternal security, baptism, Satan and the goal of our faith.
In the story of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus famously tells the woman that He does not accuse her. This has been used to justify a “Who am I to accuse anyone?” attitude of tolerating sinful lifestyles in the modern church. In this lesson we take a deeper look into this story, to get a clearer picture of who Jesus is: willing to extend mercy; yet insisting on repentance. We also consider an example of how this story was used to challenge and instruct leaders in the early church.
For those who are serious about following Jesus' commands, the Enemy has many tactics to seek to destroy us. One of those is to get us to focus on external things that we can see and measure, which is easier than dealing with the condition of our hearts. God's Word has much to say on this topic to help us embrace all of His commandments, focusing on the greatest, without neglecting the least.
In Matthew 5 Jesus tells us that unless our righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Fortunately the Scriptures provide us with many examples of men and women who lived righteous lives, which instruct, convict, and inspire. This lesson looks at the example of Job, so that we can take inventory of our own lives.
The Jews are wrestling with the question of whether Jesus is the Christ. On the one hand, he is performing miracles and teaching powerfully. On the other hand, the prophets had written that the Christ would come from Bethlehem (in Judea, in the south); however it appeared to them that Jesus was from Galilee (in the north). In this lesson we look at how Jesus fulfilled prophecies that speakboth about Bethlehem and Galilee: the great king to come who would also bring light into a dark world.
What a marvel to listen to Jesus teach the crowds! In this passage, Jesus uses the Old Testament to confront hypocrisy, reveal His identity as the Christ, and promise the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. His enemies were confounded; others were convinced and began to follow Him. There are lessons here for us as well, including God's provision of "rivers of living water," which alone can quench our spiritual thirst and satisfy our souls.
[Our apologies! We forgot to hit the record button today. Attached are the notes from our study. May they serve as a starting point for your study on the Temple of God!]
In the book of 2 Samuel, God tells David that from David's seed will come a king who would build a house for God's name and establish a kingdom that would reign forever. David's son Solomon would go on to build the temple, about which much is written in the Old Testament. But was Solomon the fulfillment of this prophecy? Understanding the temple in the Old Testament provides important insight into Jesus' and the apostles' teaching, and the implications of these teachings on our lives today.
Do the New Testament teachings on submission apply to Christians today? Or are they culturally relevant, only applying to those who lived during Jesus’ and the apostles’ time? This lesson, the first of a series on Biblical submission, examines what the Scriptures teach on submitting to the government authorities we happen to find ourselves under, whether friendly or hostile to our faith. We also consider God’s and Satan’s roles and authority over the governments of this world, and are challenged by Peter’s life and teaching.
If Jesus came into the world to demonstrate God’s love and grace, why would He be hated? Jesus says He was hated by the world, “Because I testify of it that its works are evil.” If we grasp this aspect of Jesus’ character and ministry, it will have profound implications for our own lives and our churches. When you follow in His steps and do not cave in to modern culture, be ready to be hated by the world.
In John 6 Jesus tells his followers that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will have eternal life. This teaching offended many of Jesus' followers and many "walked with him no more." Why was this teaching so offensive? What did Jesus mean by it? Certainly, this was meant figuratively and not literally, right? This lesson also examines the Lord's Supper, what one early Christian called "the medicine of immortality."