Tag Archives: Culture and Society

A Daring Dilemma


A Daring Dilemma


John 7:1-24



It would be an understatement to say that Jesus was a brave man. After all, He took the punishment for the sin of the whole world! However, as I look at this chapter, there are places where I see that Jesus had to be brave and “suck it up” at so many points in His life. There is no wonder they call Him the “Man of Sorrows,” and even though He had to be in constant emotional pain, He was able to keep it together to accomplish the Father’s Will. WOW!


One of the first things I notice in John Chapter 7 is even Jesus’ brothers really didn’t believe that Jesus was who He claimed to be. During the Feast of Booths, they wanted Him to go to Galilee with a dog and pony show to prove to those people He could perform miracles. You can almost hear an audible sigh when He sent them on their way, but Jesus did have a plan. It just didn’t include his family.


Once the brothers were gone, Jesus went up to Galilee to hear what was being said and to teach in the synagogue. His idea was not to put on a show but rather to educate His people.


Knowing that the Pharisees were out to kill Him, He had to be careful. Whatever He said had to be accurate and to the heart. Jesus is so good at that, isn’t He?


When He got there, He saw that the Jews were looking for Him. He heard various comments in the crowd about who people thought He was and what He was doing. There were people who were for Him and against Him, but He was certainly part of the gossip rag that day.


When He went to the temple, the people were amazed at His teaching; for they knew, He had no formal training. They probed Him for information about how He knew what He knew. That sure was the wrong thing to ask…there He goes again, saying what He says only comes from the Father. Who did He think He was? God? Yes, that is exactly what He was saying. In addition, He was challenging the big-guys on how they practiced their religion. He was reprimanding them on their Sabbath rules. The nerve of Him! What Chutzpah! Amazingly, the Pharisees did not challenge Him! They were in a pickle! What could they do to stop this man?


The astounding thing was that public opinion started to change. Not because of what Jesus was saying, but rather, because of what the Pharisees were not saying. Next week, we’ll see what that was.


See Ya Next Time!


 You are free to use this study on your website or blog as long as you include the following:

Rev Dr. Cheryl A Durham, Biblical Counselor, Discipleship Coach, Above and Beyond Discipleship Ministries, provides services for individuals and groups online and via teleconference. www.abovenbeyonddiscipleship.com





Questions: Read John 7:1-24


In verses 1-9


1. What was Jesus’ brothers’ agenda?

2. Why did they think that Jesus needed to market His miracles?

3. Why do you think they took that approach?

4. How did Jesus respond to them?

5. Discuss why He remained in Galilee?


In verses 10-13

6. Why do you think Jesus wanted to go “in private”?

7. Why were the Pharisees looking for Jesus?

8. What were the various opinions of Jesus?

9. Discuss how these people were just like us today.

10. Why do you think people were afraid to speak out?

11. Is it like that today? Why or Why not?


In verses 14-24

12. Discuss the themes of denial, pride, right and wrong judgment that you find in these passages.



You are free to use this study on your website or blog as long as you include the following:

Rev Dr. Cheryl A Durham, Biblical Counselor, Discipleship Coach, Above and Beyond Discipleship Ministries, provides services for individuals and groups online and via teleconference. www.abovenbeyonddiscipleship.com


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Jesus: the Renaissance Man

Jesus: the Renaissance Man

John 4: 1-30


Jesus’ encounter with the woman at Jacob’s Well in Sychar is a great story. It breaks all the cultural norms, and shows Jesus for the counter culture hero He was and still is.


After His disciples go looking for food, Jesus asks a woman to give Him a drink from the well. This was unusual because she was a Samaritan and He was a Jew; they didn’t associate with one another. She was female and He was male, yet he talked to her as if she were a first class human. He answered her questions and told her things about herself that only God, or a clairvoyant, could know. He told her things about Himself that He rarely shared with others.


The interchange between them was brief, but it spoke volumes. Jesus used the metaphor of water to explain the power of eternal life and the Holy Spirit. He told her that worship is from the heart and spirit of persons rather than in a place. His testimony to her seemed to answer every question she ever had about religion and God. She was convinced that she had seen and spoken to the Christ.


Another metaphor is the “drawing idea.” She drew water for Him; He drew her spirit to God. She gave Him well water; He gave her living water.


She helped Him quench His earthly thirst; He quenched her spiritual thirst. He spoke to her clearly and to the point. He gave her the respect that apparently no man has ever given her.


The encounter changed her life, and she told the world about it.


Is that the way Christ affects you? Where in your life have you had an exchange with Him that has made all the difference to yours?


If you haven’t had such an encounter with Christ, perhaps you should consider talking to Him. Perhaps, He can draw you a drink…..


You are free to use this study on your website or blog as long as you include the following:

Rev Dr. Cheryl A Durham, Biblical Counselor, Discipleship Coach, Above and Beyond Discipleship Ministries, provides services for individuals and groups online and via teleconference. www.abovenbeyonddiscipleship.com











Questions: Read John 4:1-30


Verses 1-6

1. What was the significance of Jesus’ passing through Samaria to the Jewish People?

2. Why do you think He did that?

3. What do you think that the disciples were thinking when they came back and saw Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman?

4. Read Luke 13:33, what does this have to do with this passage?

5. Is there any significance to Jacob’s Well? Look up the cross references and discuss it.

6. (Read John 19:28; Matt 4:2; 8:24; 21:18) Discuss the idea of Jesus’ humanity and its importance in this story.

7. In verses 7-27, discuss the various aspects of this conversation. What was remarkable, what was mundane?

8. What do you think the impact of this conversation had on the woman? Why?

9. Verses 27-30. What insight, if any, did the disciples have when they came back?

10. Do you think Jesus intentionally waited for them to leave before He spoke to the woman?

11. Why or Why not?

12. What impact did the woman’s actions, after her conversation with Jesus, have on the disciples?



You are free to use this study on your website or blog as long as you include the following:

Rev Dr. Cheryl A Durham, Biblical Counselor, Discipleship Coach, Above and Beyond Discipleship Ministries, provides services for individuals and groups online and via teleconference. www.abovenbeyonddiscipleship.com

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Trusting God’s Faithfulness

Trusting God’s Faithfulness

James 1:12-18


Being equipped for faith does not always mean that we will appropriate that grace given to us. In fact, almost on a daily basis, we thwart the very purpose of our faith. We do this because we desire our own will, even to our detriment. There is a reason that God equips us with our own ability to trust Him and there is a reason that God calls us to use that trust–or faith–during trials that we all know will come.

If we persevere, and it is our choice, God will give us the Crown of Life.


Christ told us that we would be persecuted; that we would be hated, and that if we stuck it out, there would be a reward. St. Peter told us that when we do suffer, even for righteousness sake, we should not fear or be troubled. His advice was just to respond in holiness–set apart for God’s use. He told us to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have in Christ. St Paul told us to act like an athlete in a race, keeping your eye on the prize. In the end, your Savior will reward you for your loyalty to Him. If we remain loyal, we will certainly remain blessed.


But look what we do. We desire things that are unholy. We desire things that do not honor God. Those things constantly war inside us for control. When we want something, we sometimes even blame God for the temptation. However, we cannot do that; God is not a tempter, nor can He be tempted. Our sin comes from our desires, and if we do not get them under control, they will eventually kill us. Our desires bring us to the temptation. Giving in to those temptations leads us on the deadly sin trail.


What do we need to do? We need to remember who God is and whose we are. God only brings good things. We do not have to fear that if we are obedient to God that we will not have good things. We know that God never changes…He is always faithful. It is we who are not. The good news is that on His own He brought us forth; and it is He who will be faithful, even when we are not. We can trust Him even when we can’t trust ourselves and He will bring us forth as Gold. 


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Equipped for Faith

Equipped for Faith

James 1:5-11

Two crucial elements are important if faith is going to be able to stand the trials that will most certainly beset our lives. They have to do with where wisdom comes from and whom we can trust. Those elements are a right attitude toward God and a right attitude about ourselves.


 In verses 5-11 of the first chapter of James, wisdom is the first thing we need if we are to weather what the world throws at us. Additionally, we are not equipped with the ability to handle the kinds of situations in which we will find ourselves. God is the only source of that kind of wisdom. In order for us to have solid faith, we need to have a right attitude toward Him, because as James tells us, we have to ASK God for that wisdom. Also, the caveat he gives us is that we must ask in faith…with no doubting.


Wait a minute; I thought you said that we need the wisdom for the faith! How can we get the faith before we get the wisdom? Well, that’s the amazing thing about God. You don’t have to doubt that He will give you what you need. When you ask for the wisdom, you already know that He will give it. Remember He said, “if you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). This means that our trust, in Christ and HIS abilities, not our own abilities, as well as our constant abiding with and in Him through His Word, gives us strength even when we have none in and of ourselves. Our faith, as I have said before, is not ours. It is just a confirmation that Jesus is who He says He is.


James goes on to say, the person that doesn’t have the ability to trust Christ’s power, or doubts that power, is a double minded man who is unstable in all his ways. You know these people; they are always looking for God’s will under a rock somewhere and not in His Word where it is. They are always afraid God will let them down. They are always afraid of what they think MIGHT happen. They don’t really have any idea what WILL happen, but God does. We can trust that. When we acknowledge God for who He is, and ask for the wisdom to act in faith, HE does it because it glorifies Him, not us. A double-minded person should not expect God to answer, because on some level, the double-minded man doesn’t trust in God. Hebrews 11 talks about all of the examples of those who trusted God, their “faith,” acknowledging what they knew about God, led to God giving them righteousness. What a deal!


The second element to be equipped for faith is to have a right attitude about ourselves. He must increase; we must decrease. Verses 9-11 tell us that the lowly man can boast about how God has exalted him, and the rich man can boast in humility. This is justice. A person, who is excluded and shunned in the world, is the one that God often uses to do GREAT things. Our cultures look down on certain classes or types of people like women, the poor, children, the aged, and the untouchables. God sees differently. He sees the heart of a person. Our definitions of ‘different’ are not the same. Only God can make just judgments about the heart of a person. A lowly person, who is used by God, can boast because the God of the universe has given him or her power that he or she would not normally have.  A rich man, despite his riches, has no power with God like he has in the world. He must yield to God’s sovereignty, as his riches cannot protect him from God, but if his heart is yielded, he can have power that none of his riches can attain.


 Both the poor and rich know that their lives are but blades of grass in season to God. Our mere 80 or so years on earth are but a nanosecond in God’s economy. We are dust; He is everything. In view of that, our faith MUST Grow. We have no power; we have no resources except God. Our faith, which is just the acknowledgment of God and His Glory, gives us all the power we need to do anything He has called us to do. 2Peter 1:3-9 Our equipment or elements for faith is the ability to say YES to God and NO to self.  Our faith is a dependence on His goodness, and His greatness. So how is your faith today? Any better?

See Ya Next Time

You are free to use this study on your website or blog as long as you include the following:

Rev Dr. Cheryl A Durham, Biblical Counselor, Discipleship Coach, Above and Beyond Discipleship Ministries, a Living Truth Ministry, provides services for individuals and groups online and via teleconference.  www.abovenbeyonddiscipleship.com

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Questions: Faith through Trials


Read: James 1:1-4; 1Peter  1:6-7; Romans 5:3; Hebrews 10:36; and 2Peter 1:6)


1. In your life, what are some trials that you and your church are experiencing?

2. What lessons have you learned in that suffering?

3. In what ways can you now identify more with Jesus?

4. In what ways is a tested faith less perishable than gold in a crucible?

5. In what ways can a faith become stronger?

6. In what ways can you rejoice in suffering?

7. In what ways to you find it hard to rejoice in suffering?

8. What do these things say about your faith?

9. Read 2Peter 1:6

10. Trace your “trial history.” Discuss how these virtues in the passage can be learned from suffering…

11. Pray, ask God for the wisdom to see that which you cannot see.

12. Thank Him for the experiences He will give you to learn.


You are free to use this study on your website or blog as long as you include the following:

Rev Dr. Cheryl A Durham, Biblical Counselor, Discipleship Coach, Above and Beyond Discipleship Ministries, a Living Truth Ministry, provides services for individuals and groups online and via teleconference.  www.abovenbeyonddiscipleship.com







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A Day in the Life– questions/study

Bible Study Colossians 3


Sometimes we humans do pretty silly tricks in an attempt to earn God’s favor.  We think if we are “holy” (meaning sinless or trying to be) we are mature Christians. That is not the case according to this passage.  This letter, written to the Colossians, indicated their wrong idea of how to live the Christian life.  They were worshipping angels and practicing asceticism or harming their bodies.  Paul corrected them by saying that the true Christian life is living out the reality of the understanding of one’s death and resurrection with Christ. It is not about getting God’s attention; we have that. It is about being the ambassador of the message, method and character of the King. We are to do what He would do in order to win others to Him. The Colossians practice did the opposite. Their life looked weird, not wonderful. Christian maturity is not magic, and it takes a lifetime for God to perfect us. The Christian life is walking day to day, putting off what is idolatrous and putting on Christ.


Read Colossians 3


  1. In verse 2, what are the “things above” that Paul is talking about? How do they relate to verses 12-17?
  2. List the items given in verses 12-17 on the left side of a piece of paper.
  3. What are the “things below” that Paul says to put to death in verses 5-10?
  4. List them on the right side of the same paper.
  5. Match the words on the left (things above) with their opposites on the right (things below).
  6. How did the Colossians miss the point of Paul’s message?
  7. Are you missing the point? How?
  8. What can you do differently?
  9. Ask God to show you those things in your daily life this week.
  10. Ask Him to help you change.










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Psalms 23: Makarios and Peace with God

Makarios and Peace with God

Psalms 23: Makarios and Peace with God

As I write this, my husband and I are anchored on the Bay in our sailboat. The name of the boat is Makarios. In Kaine Greek, the name means, “supremely blest,” or well off. It is the nature of a believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Sitting here, on my boat, I am Makarios. Not many people have the opportunity to spend Sunday afternoons just floating, or sailing on the water in quiet calm. I am reminded of Jesus, who sailed to get away from the business of life, to be with the Father. In good weather, and when tourist season is not in full swing, you can hear only the gulls, and the lapping of the water against the boat. You can imagine how the apostles felt when they cast off on the water with Jesus in tow. They were Makarios! Just like the Sea of Galilee, squalls or quick storms can suddenly appear, and things are not the same. In fact, they are far from tranquil. You have to take cover quickly, or you could be tossed into the water with potentially dire consequences. Far from home, with no friends around, that describes David’s situation when he wrote Psalm 23.

David was far from home and being chased by King Saul. He was a small vessel at sea in a serious situation; yet he was not afraid. He knew that the person he trusted for his very life would be at the helm, protecting him.

When God found David, he had been a Shepherd. It was his job to protect the sheep from enemies. He was well aware that shepherding was not lolling around a bucolic environment. David knew that there were predators he had to deal with. It is in this spirit that David trusts the “Good Shepherd,” who watches over his people, and is always with them. David was surely Makarios. He strongly acknowledged God’s protection in his life, and for this reason he could say, “I shall not want.” What does it mean to, “Not want”? Let’s look at how David describes it.

In verse 1, the fact that David acknowledges God as his Shepherd shows that David is trusting God for his life. Even if he dies, David is confident in God’s goodness. In verse 2, David tells us that God provides “green pastures,” or a comfortable environment for him, and within that environment, God provides peace. Shepherds know that green pastures and quiet waters are important to sheep because they frighten easily. Humans also frighten easily.

In verse 3, David tells us that after calming us down in green pasture, God “restores our souls.” This means that he turns the creatures he made and loves, back to Himself to realign our thinking in order to give us a better perspective. As we yield to Him, he leads us. He sets our path straight, so we do not stumble. God does this for his name’s sake or because of the nature of His character as we have spoken about in the last few chapters. What a God we have, huh?

In verse 4, the going gets rough. As David walks through dark and terrible places in his life, or the Valley of the Shadow of Death, God is leading the way. His way leads David through to a better place. Because of this, David says he “fears no evil,” meaning that he will not anticipate any wrong to be done to him. He will have an expectation that God will always help him, which is demonstrated in several ways. God will protect him with His rod by keeping him from predators and God uses His staff to protect David from himself.

In verse 5, God will supply all of David’s needs, even in the presence of David’s enemies. God is symbolically responding to David’s worship by anointing David’s head with oil. David’s worship cup “runs over.” Consequently, by trusting and following his God, David will constantly be filled with the joy of the Lord.

Verse six sums up what “Makarios” means. David says, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” David is saying that when he is indwelled with God’s spirit. He will experience what believers today call “the fruit of the spirit.” He is most certainly makarios.

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