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nChrist
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« Reply #1905 on: July 15, 2013, 06:18:17 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 15, 2013
Topic: Prayer

Pray with Focus

Earnest prayer comes from the heart; it's sincere, focused and real. It's not about impressing others and putting on a big show of spirituality. But what's in the heart will come out in our expression and our actions.

Receive

Jesus gives us a vivid example. As He prayed in the Garden before He was betrayed, His prayer was so earnest and intense that "his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44, ESV). That probably won't happen in your life, but it reveals to us the incredible focus and depth of Jesus' prayer.

Jesus also offered two parables that show us earnestness in bringing a request or need before God. In Luke 18:1-8, He talks about a widow who is persistent in seeking justice from a judge. She didn't give up; her "prayer" was specific, focused and from the heart. She didn't take it lightly.

Then Jesus goes on to describe two men in the temple and their contrasting prayers. While the story in Luke 18:9-14 is a warning about trusting in our own good works, we also see earnest prayer from a repentant man. "But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'" (Luke 18:13, ESV). If you saw him, you could tell his prayer was real.

You can find many other prayers in the Bible that are earnest and sincere. But they're also prayers that are focused, actively seeking God's will, confident that He will hear.

Reflect

It's easy to dash off quick prayers or a long list of needs or even address God with a glib attitude that says, "God, if you're listening, would You mind...?" That's not earnest and effective prayer. Take a look at these verses and jot down the characteristics your prayer should have:

James 1:6
2 Chronicles 7:14
Deuteronomy 4:29
1 John 5:14

We're also warned about what prayer is not to be like. Describe what you find in Matthew 6:5-8 and Mark 12:38-40.

    Which descriptions fit your usual prayer?
    What's missing from prayer in your life?
    What's the outward evidence of your inner prayer life?

Respond

One of the biggest challenges to earnest prayer isn't time but focus. You've probably had those moments when your mind drifts from one thing to another and soon you're planning next week instead of praying about today. It takes discipline to pray with focus.

Start small. What's the one thing you really need to bring before God today? Use a set time to pray about that one thing, even if it's just two or three minutes. Set a timer or clock if you have to. What usually distracts you? The phone, other noises, your own thoughts? Turn off what you need to; close a door; jot down those thoughts so they're out of the way; then focus your attention on God.

Remember, prayer is serious business--it's your personal appointment with the Creator and Lord of the universe. Make it a "big deal" because you have a big God.
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« Reply #1906 on: July 16, 2013, 10:48:22 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 16, 2013
Topic: Jesus, Christian Living/Situational, Prayer

Recognize Emotions

When you describe a person as "emotional," is it a compliment? To many, it's a criticism. When they say, "She's really an emotional person" they mean, "She is weak" or "She can't think through her problems logically and sensibly; she relies totally on how she feels." So, it'd be a surprise to them to know that Jesus, God in human flesh, was an emotional person.

Receive

Jesus was a great Teacher, and He was a man of action. But He was also a man of deep feeling and emotion. His feelings did not develop when He took on a human body. God has feelings. That's why He designed us to be people who have feelings and who express emotion.

From the following passages, identify the emotions Jesus exhibited.

John 11:38
John 12:27
Matthew 21:18
John 4:6
Mark 3:5
Mark 6:6
Mark 8:12
Mark 10:14
Mark 10:21
Matthew 9:36
John 15:9
John 19:26

Reflect

    Describe how knowing Jesus has emotions makes a difference in your relationship with Him?
    Jesus expressed His emotions openly. How does that help you deal honestly with your emotions? Write out at least three ways.

Jesus had feelings, and He expressed them openly, so we should never be afraid of revealing our true feelings to Him. Jesus not only understands; He cares about us--our thoughts, our words, our actions and our feelings.

Respond

There are two areas in our Christian lives where we need to recognize emotion. The first has to do with God's purpose of shaping every Christ-follower into Christ-likeness. God intends we become more like Jesus. That means we need to accept our feelings and emotions as Jesus did and, with His help, stay in control of our feelings.

Second, if we are to pray for others in a specific and helpful way, we must recognize their feelings. Knowing how someone feels will help us pray in a more focused way.

So, how do you feel about feelings? Talk to God about your feelings right now, and ask for His help with all that He designed as a part of who you are in Christ.
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« Reply #1907 on: July 18, 2013, 03:15:35 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 17, 2013
Topic: Prayer

Serious Business

It's really encouraging to have a God you can pray to anytime, anywhere, for any reason. But prayer can become meaningless and ineffective when we take it for granted. Let's see what kind of an attitude God's Word says we should have toward prayer.

Receive

If you were to have a conversation with a king or a president, you wouldn't just waltz in and say, "Hey, how you doin'?" You'd prepare yourself; you'd be respectful and thoughtful and take it very seriously.

Prayer is conversation with God--but don't forget who God is. "For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God" (Deuteronomy 10:17, ESV). When you come into His presence, remember that:

    "Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and beauty are in his sanctuary" (Psalm 96:6, ESV).
    That's nothing to be taken lightly.

However, don't be afraid to come before God. Hebrews 4:16 says "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (ESV). We're welcome to come to God, to seek Him for all that we need, the questions we have, etc. But we have to balance the fact that we can come to God without fear with the fact that He is God. We can't lose sight of who we are before Him.

In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God gave Solomon one of the keys to privileged prayer: a humble heart. "'If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven'" (ESV).

Reflect

What attitude do you bring before God? Do you take Him for granted and treat prayer like a nice way to get something good? Or is it serious business for you?

Jesus told a story about two men praying in the temple. Read Luke 18:9-14; then describe the prayers of these two men.

    What's the attitude of each heart?
    Which one was more pleasing to God?
    Which prayer sounds more like yours?

Respond

Don't be afraid to come to God in prayer but don't take Him lightly. Prayer is a privilege we enjoy because Jesus died to give us a relationship with God the Father. Because of Jesus, 1 John 5:14-15 says "this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him" (ESV).

So, how are you going to pray today? When you do, pray with humility and confidence, seeking God's will. And ask Him to show you how to become intimate with Him but never take Him for granted.
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« Reply #1908 on: July 18, 2013, 03:18:25 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 18, 2013
Topic: Prayer

Prayer That Touches Home

Two of the most famous and influential Old Testament prophets never wrote a Bible book. Their names were Elijah and Elisha. Elijah was a rugged outdoorsman who sometimes made his home in caves. He challenged the idolatry and wickedness of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. God blessed his service and took Elijah alive into heaven at the end of his ministry.

Elisha was Elijah's successor. For 50 years he prophesied, worked miracles and led a school of young prophets. The Bible records twice as many miracles for Elisha as it does for Elijah. Though Elisha was not as "rustic" as Elijah, his ministry for the Lord was every bit as effective. You can read about these two prophets in 1 Kings 17:1 through 2 Kings 13:21.

Elijah and Elisha are both known for their powerful prayer ministry. James 5:17-18 (ESV) refers to one of Elijah's prayers in this way: "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit."

What does that kind of prayer look like? You can catch glimpses of Elisha's passion in prayer by reading the account of his restoration of a little boy from death to life in 2 Kings 4:8-37 (note especially verses 32-37).

Receive

Elisha's prayer for the Shunammite's son models many aspects of prayer that Christian believers do well to pay attention to. Open your Bible to 2 Kings 4:32-37. Consider how Elisha dealt with a tough situation; then compare some New Testament statements about prayer and answer a few questions.

1. Elisha faces the impossible (2 Kings 4:32).

    What situation did Elisha face that was humanly impossible to solve?
    What response might you have had at this point?
    How did Jesus view humanly impossible situations (Mark 10:27)?

2. Elisha shuts out distractions (2 Kings 4:33).

    How many people were in the room after Elisha shut the door?
    What was the first thing Elisha did?
    What did Jesus say about privacy in prayer (Matthew 6:5-6)?
    How might you shut out your distractions?

3. Elisha's personal touch (2 Kings 4:34).

    What happened when Elisha made personal contact with the dead child?
    Read 2 Kings 4:8-17 to see why Elisha had special concern for this boy.
    How did the apostle Paul feel about the importance of specific prayer for those he knew (1 Thessalonians 3:9-10)?

4. Elisha doesn't quit too soon (2 Kings 4:34-35).

    Did Elisha consider his prayer work to be over when the boy's body became warm?
    What happened to show Elisha that the child was truly alive again?
    What did Jesus say about giving up too soon in prayer (Luke 18:1)? What did Paul say (Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:17)?

5. The powerful work of Elisha's God brings great joy (2 Kings 4:36-37).

    What was the Shunammite mother's response to God's miracle?
    In the last part of James 5:16, what do you see about prayer?

Reflect

God will not always heal or work a miracle in answer to your prayers, but He does tell you these things:

    You should always pray for every need you face.
    You should seek to shut out distractions in your private prayer times.
    You should pray with a heart of genuine personal concern for others.
    You should not give up simply because God has not answered your prayer immediately or in the way you thought He should answer.

Respond

Elisha prayed with deep concern for this child because he knew the boy and loved his parents. Here is something important to remember: You may be the only person who upholds certain people in prayer, such as members of your family, friends, people you work with, people you know who are in danger and others. If you don't pray for them, who will? If you are not upholding them, then who will?

Take time to write out a list of people you honestly know God wants you to pray for regularly. Then, be their Elisha!

"The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working" (James 5:16, ESV).
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« Reply #1909 on: July 19, 2013, 05:47:54 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 19, 2013
Topic: Prayer

God's Answer to Your Prayers

Dr. Helen Roseveare, a missionary to Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo), told the following story: "A mother at our mission station died after giving birth to a premature baby. No incubator was available--not even a serviceable hot water bottle. So during morning devotions we asked the children to pray for the baby. One of the girls responded: 'Dear God, please send a hot water bottle today. Tomorrow will be too late because by then the baby will be dead.' That afternoon a large package arrived. The children watched eagerly as we opened it. Much to their surprise, under some clothing was a hot water bottle! The heavenly Father knew in advance of that child's sincere request, and 5 months earlier He had led a ladies' group to include the needed item."

We've all heard stories of answered prayers and even experienced them in our own lives. But, sometimes, months or years will go by and a specific prayer will seem to elicit no answer. Let's allow God's Word to clarify our understanding of prayer.

Receive

"You don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it" (James 4:2, NLT). James is clear. If there is something we need, we have to pray for it. Often, for the Christian, the problem is not unanswered prayer but unasked prayer. Let's remember what Paul told us: "Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying" (Romans 12:12, NLT). He also tells us, "Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart" (Colossians 4:2, NLT).

The preceding verses urge us to pray, but what about the times we feel that our prayers are not answered. There are a number of reasons that may happen: we're praying outside of God's will; we don't understand completely the repercussions of what we're asking; it's not the right time. But the Bible makes it clear that there are other reasons. Read the following Scriptures and write out some of the reasons you find for unanswered prayer.

    Psalm 66:18 (KJV)
    James 4:3 (ESV)
    Proverbs 1:28-30(NLT)
    Isaiah 1:15 (NLT)
    Isaiah 59:1-2 (NLT)

Reflect

Read the following Scriptures. What does God require for answered prayer?

"Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully" (Psalm 24:3-4, ESV).

"Wash yourselves and be clean!
Get your sins out of my sight.
Give up your evil ways.
Learn to do good.
Seek justice.
Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows" (Isaiah 1:16-17, NLT).

"So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor" (James 4:7-10, NLT).

Respond

Now, take a few moments to pray for God's help; confess any wrongdoing to Him, consciously recognize your dependence on God; trust Him to hear your prayer.
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« Reply #1910 on: July 22, 2013, 07:43:38 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 22, 2013
Topic: New Life

Object Lessons

The passage of the Bible we're looking at today begins with Jesus' announcement: "'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified'" (John 12:23, ESV). That sounds like a very exciting prospect. It reminds me of the movie Aladdin where the boy wishes to become a prince. A huge celebration breaks out and the newly-made Prince Ali is paraded through the capital streets.

But Jesus was not about to be celebrated in such a princely fashion.

Receive

"'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life'" (vv. 24-25, ESV).

    How are Jesus' words in verses 24 and 25 different in tone from verse 23?
    Why did Jesus use an agricultural-type example to teach this truth?
    What allows the grain of wheat to bear fruit?

Jesus' path to glory would ultimately end in heaven's throne room, but not before leading Him to the grave. Jesus was teaching His disciples a very important object lesson--you have to die in order to live. You have to give yourself to something larger than yourself in order to be of any value.

In Aladdin, the pauper-turned-prince had to drop his ruse in order to save the day. He had to put to death His princely persona. God created all of us with incredible potential: the ability to change lives forever. But before we can have any lasting value in His service, we need to embrace His life and His goals and leave behind our own.

Reflect

What do Jesus' words in the next verse mean for you today? "If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him" (v. 26, ESV).

Respond

As you think about how God might be calling you to serve Him today, take some time to express your worries and doubts to Him. God understands this isn't an easy calling, so give Him the opportunity to calm your fears and prepare you for greater things to come.
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« Reply #1911 on: July 23, 2013, 10:35:38 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 23, 2013
Topic: Obedience/Discipleship

Get a Life

Maybe someone has said to you (or you've said to yourself), "You need to get a life!" If your heart was beating and your lungs were breathing in air, you knew the person wasn't talking about a physical life. Instead, your adviser was suggesting you needed to focus more on the things that make life enjoyable.

Jesus, on the other hand, tells us just the opposite. In John 12:25 (NASB), He says, "He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal." Jesus expands upon this seeming contradiction in the Book of Matthew. Let's take a look.

Receive

Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done (Matthew 16:24-28, ESV).

    What must a follower of Christ do?
    What does Jesus mean by losing your "life"?
    What promise do these verses end with?

Reflect

On the surface, it seems like Jesus is talking in contradictions. "Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." It's only when we look at the context that it makes sense. Jesus is looking beyond the few years that we spend on earth. He has eternity in mind. The people who live totally for the "now," might gain great wealth and power, but they will leave it all behind when they die. Those people will lose everything they felt was worthwhile in life.

Even Christians can get sucked into focusing on things that are only temporal and forget that it's those things of eternal value that really matter. The life we want to be sure to "get" is not this life but the next one.

Respond

What is the focal point of your life--the things of the world or the things of Christ? Make a list of the most important things in your life. Put a star beside those things that have eternal value. Determine to focus on these items and put a lower priority on all the rest.
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« Reply #1912 on: July 24, 2013, 04:18:30 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 24, 2013
Topic: Obedience/Discipleship, Worship/Praise/Worthiness

Reflecting Glory

We say it--"the chief end of man is to glorify God."
We sing it--"glorify His name"
We believe it--"Christians are to glorify God."

What that means and how to do it, however, few seem to understand. Jesus helps us know how we can give glory to God.

Receive

"'I brought glory to You here on earth by doing everything You told Me to do'" (John 17:4, NLT).

Jesus brought glory to the Father by living obediently every day. We can do not only the same through our obedience, but Paul tells us that glorifying God permeates the life of the Christian. Here's how Paul puts this truth:

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV).

So, if we are to follow the example of Jesus and bring glory to God, we must purpose to live reflecting Christ's glory and walking in obedience.

Scripture gives us specific actions that will bring glory to God. Here are two examples from the Bible.

"'You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven'" (Matthew 5:14-16, ESV).

"Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:18-20, ESV).

In light of the verses in Matthew and 1 Corinthians, summarize the two things we can do to bring glory to God. What are two things that will not glorify God?

Reflect

Living to glorify God comes down to our choices. It doesn't depend on our parents, friends, church family, fellow employees or students or the government. Read the following Scriptures and write down ways that you could choose to glorify God.

I can glorify God by choosing to

Romans 4:20 _______________________________

Psalm 50:23 _______________________________

John 21:19 ________________________________

Philippians 2:11 __________________________________

1 Peter 4:14; 1 Peter 4:16 _____________________

2 Thessalonians 1:12 _______________________________

John 15:8; Philippians 1:11 _________________________

1 Peter 4:11 ________________________________

Respond

Will there be glory in heaven? Oh, yes! The Father, Son and Spirit will be there in all their glory. Can there be glory on earth? That depends on whether Christ-followers live to glorify God. Make your choice today.
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« Reply #1913 on: July 25, 2013, 05:33:49 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 25, 2013
Topic: Holiness

Stay Spotless

When Hebrew believers in Old Testament times wanted to present a blood sacrifice to God, they searched out a lamb or other proper animal with absolutely no imperfections or injuries, so the Lord could accept the offering. God's requirement for perfection was to teach the people of Israel the gravity of their sin and the necessity for a perfect substitute to die in their place.

All of the Old Testament sacrifices were a foreshadowing, or an object lesson, predicting the coming sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, on the cross.

Receive

First Peter 1:17-19 (ESV) refers to the priceless blood of Christ as follows: "And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot."

Christ, the spotless Lamb, took your place to pay for all of your sin. His sacrifice was completely acceptable to God. Nothing more is needed for your salvation and nothing less is sufficient. When you are saved by the blood of Christ, you are washed spotlessly clean and made acceptable to God. In God's sight, you are completely forgiven and there is no spot of sin to keep you from being His child.

Read about spotlessness in Ephesians 5:25-27 in your Bible.

    To what does the apostle Paul compare the proper love of a husband for his wife?
    What did Christ give up for the Church?
    To whom will the Church be presented in the future?
    What qualities will characterize the Church of the future?

Reflect

So, as a Christian, saved by the blood of Christ, you are made spotless by Christ. But wait a minute! Why did Peter write 2 Peter 3:13-14? Look that up and answer these questions.

    Is Peter writing to Christians or unbelievers?
    What are the recipients of his letter to be careful to do (v.14)?

You see, then, that although Christ has made you spotless and perfect, you are still responsible to get rid of any spots that you might get as you travel along in your Christian life. So, how does that work?

In John 13:3-10, you'll find a lesson about keeping clean. Read that passage of Scripture now.

    What was Jesus going to do that shocked Peter?
    What was Jesus' warning to Peter?
    How did Peter respond to Jesus' warning?
    After a person has a complete bath, what gets dirty first?

Jesus is saying that when you take a bath, you are clean; but when you walk on a dusty road, you'll need to wash your feet before you come back into the house. Your spiritual life is like that too. When you are saved, Jesus has completely washed your sins away. You are totally forgiven. But because you live in this world and because you will sometimes be stained by sin, you will need an occasional footbath. That is what 1 John 1:9 tells you. If you sin, you don't lose your salvation. You just need to truly confess your sins in order to be entirely clean again and restore your fellowship with God.

Respond

Do you have a spot that needs removing? Feet that need washing? Does your fellowship with God need to be restored? Keep 1 John 1:9 in your head and heart: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Write out a prayer of confession.
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« Reply #1914 on: July 26, 2013, 07:19:29 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 26, 2013
Topic: Jesus

One and the Same

I knew this would be a challenging topic to write about as soon as I opened a theology book and read, "This concept of the hypostatic or one-person union of the divine and human natures in one person is probably one of the most difficult concepts to comprehend in theology."*

Why do Christians even bother with such a complicated concept? Why don't we just say that Jesus was fully God--or fully man--and get on with it? Well, because the Bible won't let us get away with that. In fact, in many cases, it's Jesus' own words that clue us in to His utterly unique person.

*Charles C. Ryrie "Basic Theology" 1999 p. 287.

Receive

It's easy to grasp that Jesus was a man. We have stories of His birth in Bethlehem, His growing up in Nazareth. We see Him eating with friends and dying a horrible death.

But He was also fully God. How do the following verses convince you of that fact?

    Read John 10:30. What is Jesus saying about Himself in this verse?
    What does Jesus tell His disciples in Matthew 16:21?
    What is Jesus doing in Mark 5?
    What miracle does Jesus perform in John 11:42-45?

In John 14, Jesus comforts His disciples by saying, "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me" (v. 1, ESV). Here again, Jesus was saying that as a man, He is every bit as worthy of our belief and trust as God.

In the end, we can only conclude that Jesus was an utterly unique individual--"full Deity and perfect humanity united without mixture, change, division, or separation in one person forever."*

*Charles C. Ryrie "Basic Theology," 1999 p. 284.

Reflect

    Why is it important that we understand that Jesus was fully God and fully man?
    Could Jesus have carried out His mission on earth if He had not been fully God and fully man?
    What are the dangers of ignoring one or the other aspect of Jesus' unique nature?

Respond

Take a piece of paper and make two columns. Label one column as "Man" and the other as "God." Read through the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life. List under the appropriate column those verses that indicate the humanity of Christ or the deity of Christ. Give thanks that He was both "man" and "God."
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« Reply #1915 on: July 29, 2013, 06:49:00 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 29, 2013
Topic: Faith/Trust, Christian Living/Situational

Promises, Promises

I'm looking for a new place to live and that means all those crazy questions I hate to deal with. Do I get an apartment or a townhome or a house? Should I rent or buy? And then there's the packing and moving. Not something I'm excited about. That's one reason I look longingly at a promise Jesus made.

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In John 14, Jesus is preparing His disciples for what's ahead: His death, Resurrection and return to heaven. He promises them several important things including, "In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also" (John 14:2-3, ESV).

Take a few minutes to read through John 14.

    What promises do you find Jesus making?
    Which promises have already been fulfilled?
    Which ones are you still waiting for?
    How is God the Father involved?
    What reassurance does Jesus give you as you wait on His promises?
    How do you find peace and comfort?

If you want to do a little more, read John 15 and 16, too, asking the same questions.

Reflect

One reason Jesus returned to heaven was to prepare a place for those who believe and follow Him. I like that--there's a home waiting for me--one I don't have to worry about or pack for, and that's a very good thing.

Jesus goes one better in His promise. Not only is He getting it ready, but He will come back and take us there. Personal service from the Lord Himself!

This is a future promise; it hasn't happened yet. But we can trust that it will because it fits with all the other promises made by Jesus the Son and God the Father. For example, in John 14:15-17, Jesus promises "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you" (ESV). What will this helper do? John 14:26 tells us, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."

The Spirit has come; He takes up residence in all who believe. That's a promise kept. And it gives us confidence that God keeps other promises too.

Respond

From the very beginning God made and kept promises--to Adam and Eve, to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, etc. Through Jesus, He kept the promise of redemption and eternal life. And through Jesus, we're also promised help for living today and peace for what comes in the future. God's track record is superior in the promise department; it's based on His faithful, purposeful, unchanging character.

So, how have you seen God deliver on His promises? Which ones do you struggle to trust Him for? Which promises have you found in the Bible that mean the most to you?

Take a moment to thank God for making and keeping His promises, and ask Him to help you trust Him for those you still struggle to understand.

"All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen" (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
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« Reply #1916 on: July 30, 2013, 11:12:52 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 30, 2013
Topic: Salvation, Jesus, Evangelism

The Only Way

Do you realize all religions contradict each other? And, logically, there are only two reasons: Either they are all false or there is only one that is true. And the Bible makes it clear that the one true religion is Christianity and that Jesus is the Way--the only way to God.

Receive

    What name recorded in Acts 24:14 were the early Christians known by?
    What does Jesus call Himself in John 14:6?

The Bible teaches us about the Way to God.

    Why does John say he wrote down the miracles Jesus performed (John 20:30-31)?
    Whom does Acts 10:43 say that everyone must believe in to receive forgiveness of sin?
    Who does Acts 4:11-12 tell you is the "stone"? What does the verse mean by that term? By what name do you receive salvation? Is any other name mentioned?
    Paul stated the truth that Jesus is the only way to God firmly. To him it was unquestionable.

"For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity--the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5, NLT).

"There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles" (Romans 3:30, NLT).

Reflect

    Who/what is the narrow gate referred to in the verse below?
    Why do so few find the narrow gate?
    What makes the way that leads to destruction the easy way?
    What does the narrow gate lead to?

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matthew 7:13-14, ESV).

Respond

Remember, God did not send Jesus to exclude people from heaven but in His love and grace, sent Jesus so we could go to heaven.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:16-17, ESV).

Are you on your way to heaven? You can be, if you will trust Jesus as your Savior and Lord. You'll be a part of God's family and all those who have discovered that Jesus and only Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
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« Reply #1917 on: July 31, 2013, 10:02:51 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Jul 31, 2013
Topic: Obedience/Discipleship

Like the Father

H.G. Wells, the English science fiction writer, was not known as a religious man. But after he studied the history of mankind and observed life, he decided this: "Until a man has found God and been found by God, he begins at no beginning and he works to no end. He may have friendships, partial loyalties, even some honor. But all these things fall into place and life falls into place only with God."

Has your life fallen into place? Perhaps, as H. G. Wells suggests, you need to get to know God better. Let's see how you can do that.

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"Philip said to him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.' Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, "Show us the Father"? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves'" (John 14:8-11).

    How does Jesus respond to Philip's request to be shown the Father?
    According to Jesus, on whose authority did He speak and act?
    What effect were Christ's works to have?

Reflect

The disciples had spent nearly three years with Jesus. They heard Him teach and they saw Him do many miraculous things--healing the sick, raising the dead, walking on water. Through the eyes of the Gospel writers, we, too, have seen those things.

And for what purpose? John made a point to call these works "signs" (John 2:11,4:52,6:14,12:17-18.). They were like neon arrows pointing to the Savior. See Him have compassion for those who were in trouble; see His power over nature and even death itself. That's what the Father is like.

Respond

The better you know Jesus, the better you know the Father. And how do we get to know Jesus? By reading God's Word. Plan to read through the Gospel of John during the next week (that would mean three chapters a day). Take special note of those passages where Jesus performs a "sign" (a miracle). Write down the "sign," and indicate what it reveals about Jesus and the Father; also indicate what it means to you.
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« Reply #1918 on: August 01, 2013, 10:56:13 PM »

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Bible Study

Title: Ponder Prayer's Condition
Date: Aug 1, 2013
Topic(s): Prayer
Scripture: 1 John 3:22, Matthew 21:22, Psalm 145:18-19, Psalm 37:4, Proverbs 15:29, John 15:7, Luke 18:1, John 14:13


You may have heard someone say, "That promise of God in the Bible is conditional." What does that mean?

Well, suppose you walk into a bank, go up to the teller and say, "I need some money. How about giving me 50 dollars?"

The bank teller says, "I'll have to ask you a few questions. Do you have an account here?"

"No," you reply.

Then the teller says, "Well, here are the conditions. First, you'll have to set up an account and deposit some money in it; then you can get a checkbook and you'll be able to write a check for the amount you need--but not for more than you have in the account. You will have to furnish your Social Security number and some other form of identification. And, by the way, our hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m."

"All I wanted was 50 dollars," you complain.

"Sorry. Have a good day," she says.

Well, there are likely times when you have had a bad day in prayer. Is there a chance it could be that you came to God without paying attention to the conditions?

Receive

Let's say you open your Bible and read John 14:13-14.

"Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it" (ESV).

You pick out, "Ask whatever." "This I will do." "Ask Me anything." "I will do it."

So, you pray. But, hey, wait a minute! Did you miss something? Are there possibly some conditions there?

How about these for starters: (1) Are you asking in Jesus' name? (2) Does what you are asking glorify the Father? Both conditions must be met.

Asking in Jesus' name doesn't mean tacking that phrase on the end of your prayer. That's not the condition Jesus was talking about. When you ask in Jesus' name, you are asking for what He would pray for, by His authority, in His will.

Glorifying God the Father means what you are asking will bring honor--glory--to Him. That doesn't mean everything you pray about has to be something super-spiritual, but it does mean that pleasing God is a consideration when you ask Him for needs or wants.

Here are some other prayer promises. Read them in your Bible and jot down any conditions you see:

    Psalms 37:4
    Psalms 145:18-19
    Proverbs 15:29
    Matthew 21:22
    John 15:7
    1 John 3:22

Reflect

Sometimes at the bank, even though you have met the conditions, you can't get your money. For example, the bank may not be open on holidays or the computers might be down.

Likewise, there are times when, even though you have come to the Lord in the right way, He, for His own purposes, may delay the answer.

That doesn't mean God goes on vacation or that His computer needs maintenance, but sometimes God has a greater purpose, unknown to the person who is praying, such as some work the Spirit of God is doing in the life of a person he or she is praying for. But Jesus says that we "always ought to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1, ESV). And always keep in mind that God supernaturally works beyond the realm of our knowledge.

Respond

Before you pray, take time to think about what God's will may be in the matter. We are accustomed to saying, "If it is Your will" while we are praying, but it is better to see what God's Word has to say and what the true need is before you pray. You might ask yourself, How would Jesus pray in this matter?
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« Reply #1919 on: August 09, 2013, 06:32:55 PM »

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Daily Bible Study

Date: Aug 2, 2013
Topic: New Life

Jesus' Last Will

Imagine receiving a spectacular inheritance, and then ignoring it. The Bible talks about something Jesus left for all of us in His will that many Christians ignore.

Wait. Jesus left a will? John 14:27 records for us Jesus' last will, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" (ESV).

Many Christians don't seem to have this peace in their lives. So, how do you embrace your inheritance? Paul has the answer to finding peace in his letter written, strangely enough, while in prison.

Receive

Near the close of his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:4-7, ESV).

    What does Paul tell us to do first?
    What does "let your reasonableness be known to everyone" mean?
    How does "do not be anxious," relate to "rejoice in the Lord"?
    How do we need to make our requests to God?
    What image does "guard your hearts" create in your mind?

In the times we need peace the most, rejoicing may not be the first thing on our minds. But it's not just, "rejoice"; it's, "rejoice in the Lord." And it's not just "rejoice in the Lord" when things get bad; it's, "rejoice in the Lord always." The first step to finding the peace that Jesus promised is to always keep your mind focused on the blessings He provides every day.

Paul also talks about not being anxious about anything and bringing our requests to God in prayer and supplication. Now, this doesn't mean that God will just remove us from whatever stressful situation we might be in. He might, but often what He'll do is give us a fresh perspective on our situation. He'll show us that He is in control.

Reflect

Peace--it may sound good to be true. But look at Paul's own example. Read Philippians 1:12-14 and see how and why Paul rejoiced even while in prison.

    What was Paul's concern even more than his own comfort or advancement?
    What did Paul find to be happy about?
    What situation in your life can you apply these verses to?

Respond

Are you struggling to find a reason to rejoice in God these days? Believe me, I know--it's hard to find them some days. There have been times when all I could do is repeat Romans 8:28 over and over to myself.

Find that verse, and memorize it. And as you spend time with God in His Word each day, ask Him to speak to you the words you need to hear. And pray for His peace that surpasses all understanding.
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