Weekly Reading Plan – May 3-10, 2020

Weekly Reading Plan on Acts 5-7

DAY 1 – Acts 5:12-16 – Pray for Signs and Wonders

DAY 2 – Acts 5:17-41 – Pray for the Teaching about Jesus to fill JoCo

DAY 3 – Acts 6:1-7 – Pray for Oakland to be faithful to our elderly

DAY 4 – Acts 6:8-15 – Pray for us to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.

DAY 5 – Acts 7 – Pray for bold suffering.

While we are not gathering in our building every week, it is the perfect time to reconsider what is the Church? We’ll start by reading in the book of Acts.

  1. Before reading, consider the following: what did you learn about church last week? How is social distancing changing your understanding and appreciation of the church?
  2. The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. Do signs and wonders still happen? Should the church perform signs and wonders? Has God every performed a miracle through you? Have you asked him to? Have you given him opportunity to? Have prayed for the sick or bedeviled?
  3. What do you think about Acts 5:13 and 5:14? How are these both true? What didn’t people dare join the disciples? What were they afraid of? Does this same kind of fear still pervade churches?
  4. The Sadducees act out jealousy. What have you done because of Jealously? What currently causes you jealously or covetousness or discontent? How can you take that to Jesus instead of sinning?
  5. How could a Jerusalem be filled with the teaching about Jesus so quickly? Who is doing this teaching? Has to be more than the disciples. Who have you taught about Jesus? How could we fill Cleveland/JoCo with the teaching about Jesus?
  6. How does Gamaliel’s argument support the validity of the disciples claims? If Jesus were not the messiah, what would have happened?
  7. “for if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.” When have you failed by following human wisdom or your best plans? When have churches and Oakland failed by following human wisdom?
  8. “But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourself fighting against God.” How is this encouraging for believers? What will stop the church on the mission of God? What is God’s will for the Church?
  9. How long did the church make it before there was complaining? Why does complaining happen in God’s people (Israel in the wilderness and the church in Acts)? Was something actually wrong? Yeah there was. What does this teach us about addressing failures in church? Why will the church fail us sometimes?
  10. How can you tell if someone is full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom?
  11. Should we be like Stephen? How? Spend time praying for the same wisdom, Holy Spirit, and boldness that lead Stephen.

BLOG – Training Smarter Not Trying Harder

Last year, John Ortberg (my favorite preacher), preached a sermon, "Feasting as Fasting" that wrecked me wonderfully.

 

In it he said:

How many of you could go out right now today and run (not walk, run) every step of a marathon? I'll put it a second way. How many of you could go out right now and run (not walk) every step of a marathon today if you tried really, really hard? Not many more.

Now my guess is a lot of us, maybe most of us, could eventually run a marathon if we did one thing, and that is to train. What does it mean to train? To train means I arrange my life around those activities that enable me to do what I cannot now do by direct effort. We tend to overestimate what we can do by trying really hard and underestimate what we can do by training. As a general rule (this is just wisdom about the human condition), transformation involves training, not just trying.

This is true in athletics. It's true of music or intellectual life. It is no less true of character formation or spiritual life. This is why Paul says, "...train yourself to godliness." This is why Jesus says, "The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher." So now the spiritual disciplines are practices or activities that train us or give us power to live in the goodness of the kingdom.

I know. Words like discipline or training are awful words. They just sound really unattractive. Who wants to do that? This is really key. Spiritual disciplines are not necessarily unpleasant. What discipline you need to practice depends on for what you're training. If you're training for a race, you will need to practice running. If you were training for a pie-eating contest, what would you need to do? You would need to practice eating a lot of pie. If you eat a lot of pie every day, a year from now, you'll be able to eat much more pie than you could today by trying really hard.

Please watch the whole thing or read the transcript if you want to be encouraged and fall in love with the Spiritual Disciplines.

As I ruminated on that insight, God showed me an incredible correlation between the Fruit of the Spirit and the Spiritual Disciplines.

According to Galatians 5:22, the Fruit of the Spirit are:

  • love, 

  • joy,

  • peace, 

  • forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 

  • gentleness

  • self-control.

Are you experiencing the spiritual fruit in your life?

Which ones are not coming?

Why are these fruit not coming?

  • Are you a Christian? Do you have the Spirit?
  • Are you cultivating the fruit of the flesh?
  • Are you cultivating the fruit of the Spirit?

Are you trying harder or training smarter to partner with Jesus to grow these fruit?

 

1 Corinthians 9:24-27, the Apostle Paul writes:

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

The Apostle Paul wants us to train ourselves and order every area of our lives to cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit. I am not saying that we can produce the fruit any more than a farmer can make plants grow - ONLY GOD CAN DO THAT. But every good farmer still tills, fertilizes, waters, and tends while depending on God to provide the increase. We do the same spiritually. The tools, rhythms, or training exercises the Bible lays out for us are often called Spiritual Disciplines.

Here is a non-exhaustive list.

Spiritual Disciplines:

  • worship
  • study
  • prayer
  • service
  • evangelism,
  • fasting,
  • stewardship,
  • silence
  • secrecy
  • sabbath
  • solitude,
  • journaling,
  • learning.
  • confession,
  • accountability,

 

  • celebration,
  • affirmation,
  • meditation,
  • singing,
  • simplicity,
  • submission,
  • worship,
  • guidance,
  • hospitality,
  • gratitude.

Worship, Prayer, Study, Service – are basic assumed practices that inform all the fruit. But just as in atheletic training there are exercises that target certain muscle groups, so too in the spiritual realm there are certain exercises to target certain spiritual muscles (fruit). Let's briefly work through each Fruit of the Spirit and identify training exercises I can imploy to allow God to conform me to Jesus. 

Love:

  • Service – act lovingly until you love
  • Community – learn to love real people in all their messiness and be loved. Be in real enough community that you know annoying habits and love anyways
  • Evangelism – Supreme gift of love to share the gospel.
  • Worship – let God love you, so you can love others.
  • Hospitality -

Joy:

  • Celebration – Music, food, people, parties, celebrate every little thing
  • Gratitude – make a gratitude list
  • Worship – Enjoy God
  • Feasting – the world is more delicious than it has to be

Peace

  • Solitude – be alone with God.
  • Silence – Don’t speak, just let God speak.
  • Confession – guilty consciences know no peace
  • Prayer – carry all anxiety to God in a fear inventory

Forbearance

  • Accountability – intimate community of carrying one another’s faults and pushing one another alone. Covenant fellowship.
  • Confession – Admit your own faults to another human being to humble yourself when you want to judge others
  • Silence - hold your tongue regularly so you can hold it when angry
  • Community – carry other’s burdens.
  • Prayer – resentment inventories

Patience

  • Fasting – wait on food, you can wait longer than you thought
  • Service - intentionally put others ahead of you in checkout lines and parking spaces. Delay yourself to convenience others.
  • Silence – hold your tongue, save your words, quick to listen, slow to speak
  • Mediation – Stay open, listen without presenting requests to God.

Kindness

  • Service – Do something gracious and unseen
  • Stewardship – set aside money, so you don’t have an excuse not to bless someone
  • Affirmation – Speak life over others. Call out their God given gifts. Bless them.

Goodness

  • Accountability – Push one another towards godliness, set standards of life and hold one another up
  • Submission/Guidance – invite a wiser Christian to help you examine your shortcomings and grow you in Godliness.
  • Confession – name failures
  • Study – study God’s goodness, know his holiness, hide his word in your heart that you might not sin against him.

Faithfulness

  • Community – 90% of life is just showing up
  • Stewardship – Keep your commitments
  • Accountability – keep your word
  • Truth Telling – Yes/No

Gentleness

  • Submission/Guidance – Submit yourself to someone who is gentle and learn from how they respond to your mistakes and when you make them angry
  • Journaling – process your emotions before you speak and try on the words you will say
  • Silence – train yourself to hold your tongue

Self-Control

  • Fasting – say no and depend on God. You will not die if you do not sin.
  • Simplicity – live below your means
  • Stewardship – Give it away so you don’t have it.

 

Since Spiritual Disciplines are not regularly taught or trained, it maybe helpful to now define in brief outline what these disciplines are. For a further treatment PLEASE READ CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE BY RICHARD FOSTER or RUNNING ON EMPTY BY FIL ANDERSON.

Brief Explanation of Each Spiritual Discipline

  • Corporate worship– This is time in regular worship with others. IT involves singing, preaching, prayers, and fellowship. I never follow Jesus alone, and being with others trains me to defer to others’ needs and preferences, while forgiving and confessing faults.
  • Bible Study– We must schedule time to study God’s word. A simple method involves reading and writing a verse of Scripture and then answering the questions – What does this teach me about God? About humans? What command should obey? What example should I imitate? A more thorough Bible Study is called Inductive Bible Study and resources are available on our website and others to train one to study the Bible closely.
  • Prayer– Prayer should happen all the time, but I learn to pray spontaneously by praying regularly. I schedule time to pray often beginning and ending the day and at mealtimes. A simple recipe to structure our prayers is P.R.A.Y. – P.raise God; R.epent for Sin; A.sk for Others; and Ask for Y.ourself.
  • Service– In service, I intentionally serve other people, putting their needs above my own. I force myself to do things that are “below me” or menialto humble my pride and bless other people. I might take out the trash, clean the bathroom, or do the dishes.
  • Evangelism– Evangelism is the discipline of sharing God’s message with others. I train myself to do so by practicing telling my story and telling God’s story. I train myself to see opportunities to bring up Jesus in everyday conversations around my home, office, and play. Often these will come as I am honest about the ways Jesus has changed me.
  • Stewardship– In stewardship I budget my money as God’s money. I intentionally set aside God’s tithe and my offerings first. Then I set my savings and finally I delibertately prioritize my money to reflect God’s and my values and needs.
  • Fasting– Fasting is simply abstaining from food for a set period of time, during which I use my natural hunger pangs as an alarm clock for prayer. Everytime I get hungry, I remember I need Jesus more than I need food. I also replace my meals with times of Bible Study during which I feast on God’s word. I calculate the money I saved by skipping meals and give this away to the poor.
  • Silence– Silence is scheduled time without speaking or excess noise. These can be a few hours on a hike or a few days on a retreat. During periods of silence, I do not talk unless necessary, and I don’t turn on music or podcasts or use my electronics. This gives me room and time to hear God speak to me. I train myself to listen to others and to God. It trains me to value and measure every word I say.
  • Secrecy– Secrecy is the doing nice things without seeking others approval. I do so by doing acts of service or devotion that no one will ever know I’ve done. I can give in secret, study in secret, pray in secret or serve in secret because I am doing it for God and not for the approval of humans.
  • Sabbath– Sabbath is regular scheduled time of rest during which I refrain from my professional endeavors in order to be refreshed spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally, and relationally. I am refreshed spiritually by extra time in Bible Study, prayer, and worship. I’m refreshed physically through sleep and relaxed schedule. I refresh emotionally by joy-giving recreation. I refresh relationally by either scheduling time away from people or with people depending on whether I am an extrovert or introvert.
  • Solitude– Solitude is not avoiding people, it is time spent with God. It is time scheduled to be alone with God, to give God my full attention. I can do this in a deerstand for a few hours or in a cabin for a few days. It is time, where I disconnect from others to plug into God. It is often helpful to disconnect from technology as well, though listening to worship music, sermons, or books can be powerful.
  • Journaling– There are a thousand ways to journal, but the two most common for Christians are to journal God’s Word in prayer or to write a letter to God. When journaling scripture, I write a verse and then start to write my associations with the words, imagines, and meaning of the verse. I journal questions about the verse to God and try to answer them witht the help of the Holy Spirit. I can journal “What does this verse teach me about God? About humans? What commands should I follow? What examples should I imitate? When writing a letter to God, I will parse my day, feelings, and thoughts before God. It can be helpful to follow the P.R.A.Y. recipe – P.raise; R.epent; A.sk for others; and ask for Y.ourself.
  • Learning– Learning allows me to make a plan to gather more information or training related to a particular area of my life. I might read a book or attend a conference or enroll in a class, but I set up a specific way I will learn more about Jesus, theology, history, or spiritual living.
  • Confession– Confession is telling God and another human being the exact nature of my faults. If I have wronged another person, I coness that to them and another in order to make amends.
  • Accountability– Accountability is a covenanted relationship among a small group of people to regularly confess sin and report on progress towards spiritual goals. This takes immense trust, because I cannot hide anything from these people.
  • Celebration– Celebratoin and feasting are times when I deliberately party to enjoy the Joy of the Lord. During times of Celebration, I eat good food, listen to good music, and do fun things to remind myself of the lavish generosity of God. I practice wonder and awe by attending to the beauty, flavor, and music of the world.
  • Affirmation– Affirmation is telling myself God’s promises and my God-given identity regularly to fight the lies I’m tempted to believe that I am worthless, stuck, and alone. I can write these messages on my bathroom mirror or Post-it notes, or I can memorize them and recite them daily.
  • Meditation
    1. Pondering/Chewing – In Western Spirituality (Judeo-Christian) mediation is pondering the Bible or a devotional slowly, savoring it like a meal. I roll it around in my mind like a gem in a rock tumbler. This is often less structured than Bible Study.
    2. Mindfulness – In Eastern Spirituality (Buddhist and Hindu) meditation is a self-emptying exercise or a mindfulness exercise used to train me to be aware of my emotions and thoughts in a nonjudgmental space. For Christians, I am never alone, and so mindfulness meditation is about cataloguing my emotions and thoughts before God, who does not judge me but empathizes with me. prayer, fasting, study,
  • Simplicity– Simplicity is intentionally living without things I can live without. It may mean eating less decadent meals, wearing less conspicuous clothing, driving a used car, or simply not buying the newest, baddest whatchamacallit. Historically Christians might cap their income at a comfortable living wage and give all money above that figure to the poor. Though an international spiritual superstar, John Wesley gave away all income above $30,000.
  • Submission– Submission is yielding to the leadership, direction, and judgment of another. The closest modern equivalent might be 12-Step Sponsors, who give advice and set schedules and even make decisions for someone in spiritual recovery. I yield to my mentor in all matters as a way of dying to my will and surrendering to God’s will.
  • Singing– Singing is a discipline. I train myself to worship God with my whole body whether I like it or am skillful. Singing trains me to do uncomfortable things for God’s glory and not the approval of others.
  • Guidance– Proverbs says that the “fool listens to his own counsel and thinks himself wise, but the wise submits to counsel and becomes wiser still.” Before big decisions, I consult more mature people who love God and love me.
  • Hospitality– Hospitality trains me to welcome others as if they were Jesus himself. I put their needs and comfort above my own. I can do this by hosting meals, housing travelers, or fostering children. I welcome them because they are loved by God and that is a big deal.
  • Gratitude– A gratitude list is a common means of inculcating a thankful heart. Everyday I write down 3 things for which I am thankful.

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – Sept 25 – Oct 2

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.

worship-together-reading-plan-sept-25-oct-2-2016-pieces-of-worship

Questions to Guide You:

This week, we will take a slight step away from Matthew in order to talk about the pieces of our weekly worship together. On Sunday, we’ll dissect our worship services, the pieces, and the intentional arrangement thereof. Our hope is that it will make us more active and receptive worshippers this fall.

  • Over and over, the Psalmists exhort us to “Worship the LORD,” and specially to do so “in the congregation.” Why do you think it is important to worship together and not just alone? Why do you think Jews and Christians have always intentionally worshipped together?
  • When the Psalmists are at their best, they don’t just tell us what to do, they tell us why we should want to worship. What reasons does Ps 11 and Ps 89 give to make us want to worship? When you don’t feel like worshipping what things do you remind yourself about God?
  • Every week, we take time to confess our sins together. Why is this so important? Why not just jump right into worship and preaching? What happens to Isaiah when he comes into God’s presence in Isaiah 6?
  • What does 1 John 1 tell us happens when we come in the light? What must we do?
  • 1 Timothy 4 contains instructions for a pastor/elder, Timothy. What does Paul tell Timothy to do with his congregation? Why does he talk so much about teaching and teaching correctly? Why do you think Christians have always emphasized teaching/preaching in their time together?
  • Acts 6 talks about the appointment of people to manage the collection of funds and the distribution of help for the church. Why is worshipping God with our moneys so important? Why do we wait to give our gifts until after we’ve preached the Gospel?
  • What is the last thing Pastor Andrew does each week? Why is this so important?

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – Sept 18-25

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.

matt-19-13-15-reading-plan-sept-18-25-2016-gift-of-children

Questions to Guide You:

This week, 

we will turn from the gift of singleness to the gift of children. Christianity honors children as a gift and as members of the community of faith. We will look at a theology of kids and our privileges as parents and members of the Church.

  • How does Jesus interact with kids? Why do you think the disciples tried to chase them away? How are their difference actions indicative of different thinking about kids?
  • How can we as parents, a society, and a church spend more time rebuking kids rather than welcoming, blessing, and celebrating them? How can we as parents and a community bless our kids?
  • What does Psalm 127 and Prov 17:6 call children and grandchildren? How does viewing kids as “gifts from the LORD” change our relationships with them? How would we interact with them if we believed that all kids whether ours, others, or orphans were gifts from God to creation? How would our society change?
  • How does “gift” language change our view of unloved or unwanted kids?
  • Prov 22 and 19 tell us how we are to instruct our children? Children are not just a “gift” they are also a “calling.” That means they are a mission from God? What should we do for kids?
  • Ps 8 talks about kids worshiping and praising God, and Deut 11 talks about teaching kids to worship. How do we teach kids and how do they teach us?
  • Isaiah 54 is one my favorite chapters. How is it good news for those who are childless or wrestle through infertility? What is God’s promise to those who have no bio-kids here? What will he do through them? 

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – August 8-15

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.

Matt 18.21-35 - Reading Plan -  Aug 6-13.2016 - A Beautiful Mess - The Forgiving Church

Questions to Guide You:

n this series, “A Beautiful Mess”, we learn the Church is full of people that are simultaneously sinners and saints. This week, we’ll see that in church, we’re going to get hurt. People will sin against us, and we will have to forgive more times than we ever thought possible. This is how we learn grace.

  • “Brother or sister” refers specifically to fellow Christians, so why does Peter ask, “How many times,” if no one hurts one another in church? What does the huge number “7 times 7” or “77 times” tell us about the number of times we’ll have to forgive?
  • Can you think of times, when people in church hurt you? When you hurt them or disappointed them or neglected them? Where you forgiven?
  • How do we process the anger that comes with being hurt according to James 1:19-20?
  • Neh 9 is a prayer of confession, cataloguing Israel’s sin? How many times does God forgive Israel in Neh 9? How does God practice James 1:19-20 in his relationship with humans? How would you respond if you were God? When would you have given up?
  • Who does the King represent? The debtors? Why does the first servant extort the next? What would have prevented this? How are we like the first servant?
  • How does our awareness of God’s forgiveness impact our ability to forgive? How much has God forgiven you? Try to think about the ways God has spared you from consequences?
  • In Luke 7, Jesus says, “Whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Why is this? How can we remind ourselves of our great debts so that we can be more willing to forgive others.
  • In Matt 18 and Luke 7, we see the true nature of forgiveness. When the debt is “forgiven” it is really paid by the king. Forgiveness means I will pay the consequences of your mistake. I will bear the cost, and I will not force you to pay the price. How is forgiving another human for lying, cheating, etc. like paying another’s debt?
  • Write Jeremiah 50:20 out? Where has the record of our guilt and debt gone? How does Jesus pay the debt that was mine to pay?

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.

Which Bible Do You Recommend for a Middle Schooler?

Which is the best Bible?

THE ONE YOU READ.

No matter how good the translation is, how pretty the cover is, how scholarly the notes are, how relevant it is, NO Bible is any good if you don't read it. But if you do read it, any Bible is good enough. So the Best Bible is a READ BIBLE.

Recently, I was asked to recommend a Bible for a rising 6th Grade Student. These are some of my favorite questions, but also hard to answer. If you're looking for a Bible for a Young Teen or Tween (4th-7th grader), maybe my advise to them, will help you out. For young elementary kids, I'll have to write another blog, but for now, I like The Jesus Storybook Bible, though it is not technically a Bible, it will help young students learn the whole story of Scripture and learn to see Jesus on every page.  

41LMG+8cE+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A couple of our younger youth (6th and 7th graders) have this Teen's Quest Bible, and I think it is really cool. It is probably one of my first choices since it is designed with questions that teens/tweens ask. Really good at those things. It may or may not lack some of the more advanced features like cross-references and a concordance, but should be pretty good. 
287706An older youth, 17 years old, really likes this Revolution Teen Guy Bible, but I think it is more for 16-18 year olds. It helps students think about dating relationships, sex, peer pressure, school performance, family dynamics, alcohol/drugs, gossip, etc.
411LjKlkk4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_My old reliable, i.e. what I give to people when they ask for a Bible and give to High School Graduates is this Zondervan Life Application Bible - it is simple and yet has everything you need to do deep study. I started using it at age 18 and it was awesome. I used it until I was probably 21, and it taught me to read the Bible and apply it to my life. Claire still carries it to church weekly. At some point, a Life Application Bible and especially the footnotes may feel “too simple” like “Sunday School answers,” but that is a sign of growth in you not failure in the commentators.
Of them all, I'd probably go with the top one, QUEST, for a 4-7th grader. Just seems like a good age appropriate Bible if they are going to start using it and reading it immediately. If you think he or she will put it on the shelf for 4 years, then maybe the middle one, and if you want to give him a Bible he can carry to church for the rest of his life, then the last one. 
Personally, I think a Bible should only last 3-5 years, because if you use it regularly, carry it around, mark and study it, they fall apart, even the leather ones and hardback ones. That or they’re so full of highlighting and underlining that they’re hard to use. That’s ok. That’s what’s supposed to happen. I have my old Bibles on the shelf (except for the ones I gave away to someone who I led to the Lord). My prayer is that the next Bible you buy will be worn out in 5 years, and you’ll be emailing me again about Bibles for college students or young adults or mothers or dads or business men.

Sept 9 – Presbyterian Women Kickoff

Presbyterian Women is a place for women to be women.
Being a woman, a wife, a professional, a mother, and a friend is not easy and it is nice to figure it out with the help of good friends and God’s Word.
The PW meet every month, starting September 9th at 7:00 in the Fellowship Hall.

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – Aug 2 – Aug 9

Matt 7.12-28 - Reading Slide - The Kings Speech (part 7)

Questions to Guide Your Study:

  1. Which verse in Matthew 7:13-29 grabs your attention? Which verse will you memorize? Write it down.
  2. Jesus uses 3 different images to talk about 2 groups of people, what are the characteristics of those people? What does each simile teach us about these people?
  3. What do you think the “narrow gate” and the “broad road” represent?
  4. What do the people in verse 22 trust will give them access to Heaven? What does Jesus claim they lack? So what is necessary?
  5. What is the difference between the people on the rock and the sand? What does James say in 1:22-25 about these 2 groups of people? Where are you?
  6. What is one way you can “put these things into practice” this week? Write it down.
  7. How do you think we are like the men who use “Jesus’ name” ignorantly in Acts 19? What things do we have that we could and should burn now that we’re following Jesus? 
  8. How can we identify false prophets, preachers, and teachers?

For a printer-friendly copy of this reading plan, including sample questions to augment your study of Scripture, Download the PDF.  If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book.

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – July 5 – July 12

Matt 5.38-48 Reading Slide - The Kings Speech (part 3)

 Questions to Guide You:

  1. If you took these words as seriously as possible what would it look like? What would it require to live like this?
  2. When you read these commands/invitations what do they make you feel? Do you naturally want to do them, or do you find yourself looking for exceptions, objections, and loopholes? Why do you think that is?
  3. What exceptions does Jesus list? What do you make of this?
  4. Who are your enemies? Name them so you can pray for them.
  5. What situations are you experiencing right now, where you can choose to seek reconciliation rather than retaliation?
  6. Do you give money like Jesus says? If not, why not? If so, what gives you the freedom to give generously?
  7. Why do you think Jesus wants us to give to “everyone who asks?” What benefit do they gain? What benefit do I gain?
  8. How is obeying these commands an extreme test of faith? Is it possible to live like this if Jesus is not the Savior Lord that saved us from Hell, promises Heaven, and gives the Holy Spirit?

For a printer-friendly copy of this reading plan, including sample questions to augment your study of Scripture, Download the PDF.