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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
When Jesus states that He and the Father are one, his Jewish hearers want to stone Him for blasphemy. Jesus defends Himself by pointing to an obscure passage in Psalm 82 where God tells people, "you are gods.” Then Jesus challenges his hearers, "…and the Scripture cannot be broken". In this lesson we explore the unity of the Father and the Son, then tackle the meaning of the puzzling “you are gods” statement, one which has significant implications on our day-to-day living. We close the lesson by looking at the confidence Jesus had on the inspiration and integrity of the Scriptures: down to the word.
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.
One of the great treasures of the Old Testament is how it helps us understand the true nature and character of God. There are many things that distort our understanding of God's nature: the character of our own human fathers, our tendency to make God into something He is not, and Satan's consistent attack, trying to deceive us to believe God is different than He truly is. Ezekiel 18 provides a beautiful picture of God, communicating His great mercy and kindness offered to all mankind. May this help us grasp God's nature in a deeper way, and transform how we view and treat others.
In John 2 we read two stories: Jesus performing his first miracle at a wedding in Cana and Jesus clearing out the temple. Jesus would go on to perform many miracles; why did He begin with turning water into wine? We also look at whether Christians should drink alcohol, and how we should relate to disciples who have different convictions on this. In the second story, we are challenged to imitate the zeal Jesus had for his Father's house, as well as the zeal of other heroes of faith in the Scriptures. Finally, we see Jesus proclaiming to skeptics that there would be one sign of His authority: His resurrection from the dead on the third day, the foundation of the Christian faith.
John the Baptist identifies Jesus as "the Lamb of God". Why a lamb, and not some other animal? Does this simply mean that Jesus was meek and harmless, or is there more to it? How would John's hearers have understood this expression? In this lesson we look at what this would have meant to John’s hearers, and the profound implications for all those who want to follow Jesus today.
The opening lines of the gospel of John are some of the deepest, most profound lines ever written. They introduce us to the divinity of the Son of God, His involvement in Creation, and His relation to the Father. In this lesson we begin our journey through this gospel, the favorite of many, and touch on its importance in our spiritual foundation.
Does God treat everyone the same, or does He play favorites? James A. Harding, an inspiring Christian teacher and preacher, tackled this question in the early 1900's and provided a startling and unforgettable answer. That answer takes us to Scripture that teaches us much about the character of God, as well as what can be expected by those devoted to and treasured by Him.
(To learn more about Harding's inspiring life and convictions, see James A. Harding, Evangelist and Teacher by John Mark Hicks)
Many wrestle with the goodness of God. If God is good, why does He allow evil things to happen? This might lead one to conclude that God is not all powerful, otherwise he certainly would stop evil from happening. In fact, it often seems good people experience much bad, while people who engage in evil seem blessed. This lesson explores the nature of God, what the Scriptures teach about His goodness, and how He works to bring about both justice and mercy in His timing.
In this story, the Syrian army surrounds the city to take Elisha. There with his servant, Elisha works a tremendous miracle with an unexpected twist. This lesson looks at the theme of spiritual blindness and the love God has for his enemies.
(For further study, see Those Who Are With Us from 2 Kings 6)
As the story of Elisha continues, we see the prophet work two miracles of provision for a group in need. We are then introduced to Naaman, a famous commander of the Syrian army, who also happens to be a leper. There are many gems to mine from these stories as we see God's power and compassion, God's desire and ability to provide for his servants in need, the faith of the prophet, and the shortcomings and humility of Naaman.
This opening devotional for our retreat was a call to open our eyes to the spiritual battle we are in, and to recognize that God's supernatural power is far greater than the power and authorities that oppose God. May we have the faith of Elisha and the righteousness described in Scripture, to see God's Kingdom advance in our lifetimes.
Sometimes we read the Bible and stumble across a passage that is troubling. We might even wonder why this is included in the Scriptures. This lesson includes two (of three) disturbing stories that take place between the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the birth and sacrifice of Isaac....
In Genesis 17, God gives Abraham and God's people the "everlasting covenant" of circumcision. What is this covenant? Does circumcision have anything to do with Christians today? Why should we care? This lesson is packed with the heart of God....