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.
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).
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.”
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.
**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.
The evening before He went to the cross Jesus told his disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another….” In this lesson we explore what was new about that command. In the process, we demolish some popular misconceptions in the modern religious world concerning the meaning of the Greek word agape (the word rendered love in that passage).
At the Last Supper, Jesus identifies his betrayer by dipping a piece of bread and then giving it to Judas Iscariot. This followed Jesus' statement, “He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against me”, where He quotes a line from Psalm 41. In this lesson we explore the significance of that statement by Jesus, and the detailed prophecies related to the manner in which Jesus would be betrayed. Prophecies like these strengthened the faith for early Christians like Ignatius, who gave up his life as a martyr for Christ.
Jesus said, “I did not come to judge the world”. While many today use that statement to justify tolerating all kinds of sin in the church, is that what Jesus meant? In this lesson we also look at the famous incident where Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Afterward, He called them to follow His example. Did Jesus intend for us to take that command literally (washing each other’s dirty feet), or figuratively (performing the most humble acts of service for one another). Or should we do both?
John tells us plainly that many failed to follow Jesus not for lack of faith, but because "they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." Loving men’s praise (over God’s) is a problem for many of us today as well. In this lesson we look at inspiring Biblical heroes whose commitment to pleasing God brought severe persecution. We also consider tragic counter-examples of those who disobeyed God because they wanted to please people. The lesson concludes with challenges in specific areas, for each of us to lead a courageous life devoted to pleasing God rather than people.
With his death approaching, Jesus uses two puzzling figures of speech to explain both how He would die, and why He had to die. In the course of doing that, He reveals a great mystery that applies also to us: a seed must die in order to produce a great harvest. Jesus then goes on to quote from Isaiah, revealing a wonderful window into the divinity and pre-existence of the Son of God.
All four gospels record Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. Is there special significance in this event? In this lesson we take a look at donkeys in the Bible, the prophecies foretelling Jesus' donkey ride, and how this story can be used to bring others to faith in the Christ.
Judas was most famous for betraying Jesus. However, his underlying sin was greed. His love of money led to deceit, betrayal and other terrible sins. In this lesson we take a wide-ranging look at what the Bible has to say about the sin of greed, and examine both good and bad examples of Biblical characters. We also consider how to respond when we uncover greed in the hearts of religious leaders, and the importance of uprooting greed from our own lives.
After Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead, the Jewish leaders see Him as a growing threat. They convene the council at which Caiaphas, the high priest, speaks. In making the case to kill Jesus, Caiaphas unknowingly utters a prophecy: it is better for one man (Jesus) to die than for the whole nation to perish. In this lesson we look at related prophecies that one man would die for many; and that death would bring catastrophic consequences to the Jewish nation, which were fulfilled in AD 70. We also consider whether God can speak and act through wicked people.
In chapter 11 we have reached the mid-point of John’s Gospel and are rewarded with Jesus’ most remarkable miracle to date. In this story we witness the tremendous faith of Martha and come face to face with Jesus’ humanity and divinity, as he responds to the loss of his friend Lazarus and raises him from the dead. This lesson calls us to trust in God’s timing, to get serious about prayer, and to be prepared for our own death and resurrection.
Life is short and none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Entering a new year provides an opportunity to both look back and look ahead, to examine our lives with the goal of making every day count. We might be surprised, encouraged, and challenged at how God views our past victories, as well as the sins and failures we desire to overcome. This lesson seeks to encourage each of us to take inventory and enter the new year with hope and determination to be our best for God.