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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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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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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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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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Psalms 22: A Skeptics Answer: Why Trust God? P4.


Psalms 22: A Skeptics Answer: Why trust God?

Part 4: God is Sovereign and Ubiquitous

Sometimes we think God is not there. That is not possible because God is Ubiquitous, and cannot deny His own nature! What is Ubiquitous you may ask? Well, that means He is omnipresent, or present everywhere at the same time. Some people confuse this attribute of God with a concept that states, “if God is everywhere, then everything is God.” That is simply not true. God’s holiness, and omnipresence, tell us that He may be available everywhere, but it doesn’t make Him part of us. He may have created us, but we are separate beings.

Sometimes we think He is not there. That is our mistake. While God may not seem to answer every prayer, He does in one of three ways: Yes, no, or not yet. When the answer is “yes,” it is obvious; and of course, “no” can be disappointing. Finally, the answer “not yet” can be troublesome for an impatient human.

All of these answers have a purpose. We know these things about God: His law is perfect, He doesn’t change, and He is faithful to His people. Because we know this, we can conclude that God wants the best for us. Unfortunately, for us waiting is torture. One good way to “bide the time” while awaiting his answer would be to praise Him for His sovereignty. Show God how you are waiting for His answer.

David did this all the time in spite of how he “felt.” David’s feelings did not drive his life. His faith in a sovereign God did. In verse 1-2, we see David “feels” abandoned and His situation is dire. He uses the words that Christ would later use on the cross when he died for our sin.

In verses 3-8, David remembers God’s nature, His faithfulness to His people in spite of how the situation looks to the casual observer. In verses 9-11, David recounts God’s faithfulness to him from the beginning of his childhood. David strengthens when he recalls God’s work in his life.

Verses 12-19 are a parallel to Christ on the cross; however, in David’s situation he describes his peril to God, and commits himself to God’s sovereignty. He awaits God’s answer, and implores God to come quickly. In verses 20 -31, in spite of the feelings he has, David extols the greatness of the Lord. He asks people to join him in praising God for His mighty works. David expresses expectant anticipation of God’s great answer to his prayer. Do you praise him in your time of need? What’s stopping you?

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