Tag Archives: Discipleship

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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Grace as the Basis for Gifts

Grace as the basis for Gifts
 
Romans 12
 
In Romans 12, Paul again gives us a basis for gifts. In verse 1, he tells us that we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship. This verse is a little cryptic. What does Paul mean by “sacrifice” here? What does he mean by suggesting that this is our worship? Let’s look at this closer.
 
In order to worship God, which is a sacrifice in and of itself to us; we are to put away our self-interest in whatever we are doing. I used to attend a church where the people were pretty intent on having what they called worship, and what most would call music, be attractive to those in attendance. I believe this is the opposite of worship. I see this as putting self-first and God last. When I come to God with an agenda of my own, when I have to be pleased with the way I am worshipping God, then I am not worshipping God; I am worshipping my own preference. Our own way is what God wants us to sacrifice. We are to come saying, “God, here I am, use me.” Whatever YOU want, God, not my will but thy will be done, sound familiar?
 
Paul goes on to tell us that we are not to be conformed to the pattern of the world. We should be transformed by the renewing of our minds, during testing, that we may discern what the will of God truly is and what is good and acceptable to Him. To do this we must be prepared to face things that are not pleasant, and learn from them. Your suffering is not a lack of faith; it is the means to faith.
Another thing that this sacrificing will do is let us experience God’s grace more acutely. It will teach us who we really are, or are not. We should each consider the “other” more important than we are, which is something we don’t do easily. Our measure of faith is used to assess our situation. As we start to become more like Jesus, our faith grows and changes.
 In this context, Paul begins to talk about gifts. Each of us has been given certain gifts to accommodate the situation we find ourselves in. No one is a superstar; no one is a hero. Each of us has gifts that are in proportion to our faith and are used for the good of the body, not for us. (1Cor 12:10) (Acts 13:1) (v3-6)
 
In Verses 7-8, he names particular gifts as examples of how Christians should be working together and not competing for “show” gifts. Whatever the gift, it should work in harmony with the other gifts that are present in the church. There is room for everyone. If there is competition, someone is being selfish and not using their gifts for the good of others, but for the good of themselves.
 
In verses 9-21, Paul gives rules that will reveal whether or not the gifts are being used correctly. Love, as we saw in 1Cor. 13, is the primary and underlying principle which drives all gifts. Here in Romans, Paul tells us that the love exhibited must be genuine. There is nothing worse than a person who thinks they are exhibiting love when everyone around them knows it is fake. Real gifts should be exercised with the behaviors outlined in verses 9-21. Otherwise, there is no point to the gifts.

 

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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Christian Life How to’s

How to have a Vibrant Prayer Life

Dr. Cheryl Durham, Director

Above and Beyond Discipleship Ministries

A Living Truth Ministry

 

Being in missions, I have often heard that there is no retirement clause in the Bible. The Gospel just commands us to go. There is no stop. So what happens if you cannot go? What happens if you are incapacitated or just plain old?

 

 I have thought about this a lot. In fact, this was the idea that created Living Truth, a transdenominational mission agency that I work with that helps small ministries do what God calls them to do. All of us can work well into our old age.

 

Well, what if I have no particular ministry, what do I do then? The answer is the most important ministry is always right before you; it is intercessory prayer. It can be done by anyone, anywhere, anytime. You do not need special equipment or skills, and you are naturally gifted in it. We can all talk to God.

 

If the truth be known, at least where I live, intercessors are theoretically well-meaning, but practically rare. How do you start, or jumpstart, a lagging prayer ministry? Where do you go to get one started? Here are seven steps that will get you on your way.

 

Step One: Get a Journal

 

A friend of mine got me a really pretty wooden journal from Honduras. It is beautiful. I use it for special entries. I also have a spiral bound notebook because it is easier to write in, you can file it in a three ring binder on a shelf, and they are incredibly cheap. Ten for a dollar in August before the kids go back to school. If you do not have any of that, you can do it through an e-mail program like G-mail or Yahoo Mail. The address is free, you can check it anywhere, and it makes it easy to file any way you want. It also makes it easy to stay in touch with those for whom you are praying.

 

Step Two: Find things to pray about.

 

There is never a lack of prayer needs. All you have to do is to start reaching out. If you do not know any people, there is the church bulletin. If you do not have a church, there is the news, the internet, the television, and even radio. Just pray for the needs that you hear. Do not forget to ask God! He can bring to mind people that you forgot you knew and maybe people that you do not. If you are really stuck, or are fond of foreign people group prayer, there is a book that has been out for years called “Operation World” by Patrick Johnstone, this book lists almost every people group in existence, their environment, and their prayer needs.

 

 

 

 

Step Three:  Keep Records.

 

Make sure that you write down whom you are praying for on one side and what you pray for on the other. Later, you will see that God answers all of them in some way or another. It is this step, combined with the next step, which really keeps the process alive and lets you know why God thinks prayer is so important. It demonstrates the interactive relationship between you, God, and the world that is, when you think about, quite astounding. The God of the universe is using YOU to help Him bring about His Kingdom on Earth. Wow!

 

Step Four:  The Feedback Loop

 

You are going to want to know how God is working, and how your people are doing in their lives. If you do not have any people that you know, you might watch the news to see what is happening in the world. God can do anything and He does amazing things. This step will not only show you how great God is but it will build intimacy with the people you are praying for, even if you do not know them. You will know that they are special to God and that one day, perhaps you will know them. This is what is known as koinonia.

 

Step Five: Go to God for Wisdom and Read the Word of God

 

Step Five can come anywhere in the process except the end. You need wisdom from God to pray effectively. The best way to know that is through prayer and the Word. When you pray, you talk to Him and when you read the Word, He talks to you. His Holy Spirit will guide you in both prayer and study. After all, the Holy Spirit knows exactly what to pray for, right? Just remember that if you start a book, be careful to read it through before you start another. Do not jump around.

 

What you will start to see is a few patterns emerge as you pray for people. For example, I have led discipleship groups for many years, but each time I do, God has a way of joining the hearts of those in the group in such a way that no matter what book of the bible they are reading in (and they are all different), God talks to each about the same issue. When we come back together and hear what God is doing in each life, well, you have to be there to appreciate it. So ask for wisdom and watch for patterns. Let Him surprise you.

 

Step Six:  Piggy Back Prayers.

 

As people give you requests, and as you see a pattern emerge, ask God what additional things you can pray for concerning this person. Wait for God, pray about what He gives you, and let what you learn from God shape how you pray for that person. Let it shape their requests.

 

Step Seven: GIVE THANKS

 

Always give thanks to God and let people know how good God has been to you as well and how He has answered your prayer for them. Show them that they can depend on God.

 

If you follow these seven steps, you will be truly amazed how much you have missed by avoiding prayer. Intercessory prayer can be one of the most rewarding ministries and it is the one you can do anywhere, with very little effort. I think that anyone can do it.  That is why there is no retirement clause in the Bible. You can always talk to God.

 

YOU CAN USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, E-ZINE, OR ON YOUR WEBSITE AS LONG AS YOU INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

 

Chaplydia,  Biblical Counselor and Discipleship Coach Helps individuals and groups develop and enhance their calling and their lives using a Biblical World View.  Go Above and Beyond the NORM!

 Get your free Bible study and Newsletter by visiting

 www.livingtruth.us/chaplydia.html Question?  E-mail Chaplydia@livingtruth.us

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Generational Curses

Generational Curses

 

 

Recently someone sent me a letter about generational curses.  They believed the sin they were caught up in was because of the sin of their parents. They believed that placing their faith in Christ was not enough to set them free. This is unbiblical and unsound.

 

There are a few verses in the Old Testament mention God cursing generations. They are Exodus 20:5; Numbers 14:8; and Deuteronomy 5:9. In each case, however, it never talks about a generational curse. It talks about the character of God and His expectations of His people. For example, in Exodus 20:5b says “I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generations of those who hate me’

  This verse shows how horrible it is to God when we worship something other than Him. This is not just another religion, or some statue, but it is anything that gets in the way with your relationship to God. He wants to be first in your life. He does not want to come second or third after your family, or your activities and other pursuits. God had a covenant with Israel. He was to be first in their lives. However, look what God says about those who love Him in the next verse. He says in verse 6 “but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love me and keep My commandments”. This verse is a contrast to verse 5. When taken together, the verses show the greatness of God. What He actually says is that He will punish the generations of people WHO HATE HIM, but that He will bless the people who love Him. This is not a generational curse. It is the direct result of a person’s choice to love or hate God. God does not punish innocent people. If He did, He would not be the God who would also go to the Cross-to atone for all sin.

 

When we take Exodus 20:5-6 together, we see that in context God is not talking about generational curses, but rather idolatry and unfaithfulness to Him. This is clear in Ezekiel 18:2, where God actually says

 

“What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge?” (2) “As I live declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel.(3)” “Behold, all soul are mine:  the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die”(4)

 

In the rest of the chapter, God goes on to say, that if a man is faithful to God and keeps His rules, then he shall live. This verse denies generational curses. Therefore, if we choose to believe in generational curses, we choose to defy God. That is not a good position to take.

 

The other examples are the same. Each of them show the goodness of God to those people who love Him back. God is calling for loyalty and love, not stern punishment.  The point is not to blame sons for their fathers’ sin. It is for fathers not to teach their children to hate God by not honoring God, and keeping their covenant with God. This was the Old Covenant with Israel.

 

The second problem with the idea of generational curses is that it denies the sufficiency of Christ for the atonement of sin, as well as denying the New Covenant of Grace.  This was a problem for a few of the early churches.  Paul wrote much about the sufficiency of Christ in 2Corinthians, Galatians, and Colossians. Let us take a look.

 

When Christ came to fulfill the Old Covenant of Works, and to bring in the New Covenant of Grace, believers were still credited righteousness because of their faith and not by their works (Ephesians 2:8-9). The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that this was the same way that Israel was granted righteousness as well. In chapter 11, the faith chapter, we see example after example of this. God expects His people to be faithful. There is a difference between the Old and the New and that difference is Jesus.

 

Before Jesus came, Israel showed their righteousness by honoring the covenant they had with God until the Messiah came. They had rules to follow that showed God that they cared. When Christ came, however, He fulfilled that covenant. He told the people in the synagogue that He was here to proclaim the year of Jubilee. Jesus had come to bring in the Kingdom of God, where the rules would change. Now the covenant was open to all nations just as God had promised Abraham. Anyone who would believe in Messiah (Jesus) would be able to enjoy a covenanted relationship with God. It is by faith, not by works.

 

This presents a problem for those who would believe in generational curses. Generational curses are based on works. One has to “be good” to get blessing. God’s covenant, however, is based not on works, but on a loving relationship; it had always been that way.

 

Paul addressed this in 2Corinthians 5:17-21. He tells us that when we accept Christ, we are a new creation, and the old is gone. That would include generational curses. To say that generational curses exist says that God is a liar.

 

Colossians 2 says that we are already complete in Christ. To believe in generational curses says this is not true. In Galatians 3, Paul tells us to remember the freedom we have in Christ. This idea also contradicts the idea of generational curses. It says that Jesus is not enough to take away sin.

 

We have seen that the idea of generational curses is not biblical. It is an idea that, taken out of context, focuses on man. It gives some people a way to justify their sin and it denies the good character of God and denies the power of Jesus Christ.

 

I would encourage you to study the following verses. Pray, ask God to show you the way.

 

Using a unique combination of traditional and modern electronic musical elements, David Acton produces inspirational and moving music. The album “Prodigal” presents a personal and honest collection of songs that could be described as the soundtrack for the life story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).”Prodigal” takes the listener to a place where the timeless, unconditional love of God is experienced.

 

You can buy David’s Album at www.davidacton.net

 

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A Biblical Counselor’s Prayer

A Biblical Counselor’s Prayer

 

As a Biblical Counselor, I talk to many people in search of discipleship and advice on living life as a Christian. I draw the answers to my counselees’ questions from Scripture because the Bible speaks to every human condition of the heart.

 

 You might ask how I can say that a book written by old dead white men can answer the complex problems of life today, because biblical writers had no clue about technology, or modern concepts. They had no concept of the complexity of life in this century.

 

I would grant you that those people did not have technology, nor did they have all the complex relationships that we have today. However, I would take issue with the fact that technology and complex relationships are irrelevant when it comes to the motivation of the human heart. The ways people respond to the stress of their lives are not all that complex. The complexity is an effect not a cause. The Biblical writers struggled with the same issues of humanity that we all face today. There is nothing new in that regard; and it is to those issues that the Bible speaks. It is a transcultural document. (Ecclesiastes 3)

 

Paul was a Biblical Counselor. He received many questions from various churches seeking his advice on how to live a godly life in a hostile environment. Even then, Christianity was unpopular. Let us take Colossae for example.

 

In Colossae, the believers heard a teaching, which doubted the sufficiency of Christ for salvation. Some believers feared pagan deities that claimed to have power to disqualify believers from life with their God. They feared the loss of their salvation.

 

Paul wrote to them to show that the one true God secured their salvation and that no one could usurp His will. The seal God placed on their souls marked them with His ownership.

 

In verses 9-12 of Chapter 1, Paul tells them that he has been praying a great prayer for them that would equip them with everything they need. This powerful prayer, says Charles Stanley (of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta Georgia in the U.S), is the best you can pray for anyone. It calls on the power of God to equip a person with His very wisdom and discernment so that they can know and act on God’s will for their lives. In verses 13-25, Paul tells them exactly what power is behind the answer to that prayer and how they can be certain that Christ is sufficient for them.

 

A Biblical Counselor hears this problem many times and in many ways. Counselees often think that Christ is not sufficient for their lives. They also think that the deities of their world are able to overcome Christ. In that regard, nothing has changed except the deities of scientism, materialism, and technology. These deities are no more powerful than the ones of old; they just have new names. The fears of the Colossians are the same as the fears of 21st century people. Fear is transcultural, fear is common to humanity (1Cor. 10:13).

 

In counseling them, I encourage my counselees to pray this prayer not just with me in their sessions, but also to pray it at home. Christianity is a lifestyle not an activity. It must be lived on a day-to-day basis. The Colossians prayer is a good way to enable the Christian life.

 

The verse asks to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will with all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of His call on their lives, and to have fruit in their lives that shows a growing and intimate relationship with Him.

 

This very powerful prayer can be the mechanism that heals people from their problems. It is a unique prayer I pray for each of my counselees. As a Biblical Counselor, it is the best prayer I can pray.

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