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Bible Study Guide #1: Sexual Intimacy

23 Oct

Getting Started:

 It may seem somewhat awkward to talk about this issue, but it is very important we do look at what the Bible teaches regarding sexual intimacy.  Can you think of any reasons we should discuss this in a biblically appropriate way as a church?

 The Big Idea:

Sometimes people talk as if Christians thought sex were something bad. But that is not a biblical idea at all. God is the one who created sex and He has a good design for sex. The fact that God created and has a design for sex means however He has standards, a plan, a way He wants us to go about enjoying this good gift and that going outside of those standards is sin. It is possible to pursue sexual intimacy in a way that is sinful and harmful to yourself and others. Doing so is a big problem because not only does sinning in this way steal our own joy, it also makes God angry. He will judge sexual sin. Therefore, as believers, we need to think carefully about how we are going to pursue obedience to God in this area. During our time together this evening, we are going to spend some time looking at some passages that will help us know how to fight sexual sin and also discuss with one another how to honor God in this particular area of our lives. 

Into the Bible:  

Let’s take a step back and try to get an overall picture of what the Scripture has to say about sexual intimacy.  I want you to read the following passages together and make observations about what we can learn about God’s design for this area of our lives. Some of the Scriptures may speak more directly about this issue and others may be more indirect, but try to think of how all these Scriptures might help us think more clearly about God’s will for our sexual behavior. After you read the passage you might simply ask:

What does this passage say about God’s design for sex and the marriage relationship? 

Can we learn anything from this passage that is important to remember as we think about God’s commands in this area of our lives? 

Genesis 2:24-25

Proverbs 5:18-20

1 Corinthians 7:3-5

Exodus 20:14

1 Corinthians 6:18

1 Thessalonians 4:3

Deuteronomy 10:12-13

1 Corinthians 10:31

Shooh. That was a lot of verses! But believe it or not, now I am going to give you one more thing to read that sums it up. Read through the following quote and then answer the question that comes afterwards. 

“Sex exists for the glory of God. Certainly there are other secondary purposes for the gift of sexuality — procreation, expressions of love, pleasure, consummation of marriage — all those things are true, but they’re secondary purposes. The ultimate purpose of sex as God has given it is his glory.

 This is important because it changes the way you think about sexual activity. If you relate all of your life to the glory of God, that presents you with a certain ethical framework that sometimes other frameworks don’t allow. In some frameworks, the question is “What is allowed?” And people begin to mine the Scriptures for laws or rules concerning sexuality. Now, everything the Bible says in terms of laws or rules is important, but that’s not the ultimate question we have to ask. The ultimate question we’re asking is “What glorifies God?” Not what is lawful alone, but what glorifies God. So, that to me is a bottom line value we have in pursuing ethics this way.”

I want you to try to summarize what you have learned from that paragraph and the verses you read in a sentence or two. Now, imagine someone asks you what is the Christian view of sexuality? Take your summary and use it to share how you might respond to them?

As we said earlier, this is good news! God is the great and wise creator of the Universe and He knows what is best for us and He has spoken on this very important topic. But, the fact that He has spoken means it is possible to disobey Him in this area, and as we know, many people are living in rebellion to God in their sexual lives.  

Let’s think for a moment about how seriously God takes sexual purity.  Read the following verses and note what they say about what God expects and the importance of obeying God in this area. 

You might ask: 

How does this verse illustrate the seriousness or danger of sexual sin?

How does this verse explain just how pure God expects believers to be? 

Matthew 5:27-29

Ephesians 5:3-6

Proverbs 7:21-27

Hebrews 13:4

Job 31:1

Genesis 39:7-9

Bringing it Home:

Now, it is one thing to know that God has a good plan for us when it comes to our sexual behavior and to know the danger of disobeying God in this area. It is another thing to know how to honor God in this aspect of your life in the face of many different temptations.

Let’s talk together about this by answering the following questions:

A young man comes to you and says that he is struggling with looking at pornography on the internet and needs help staying pure. What are some suggestions you would make to him?

You have been asked to disciple a friend of yours who recently became a Christian after living a number of years in a fairly promiscuous heterosexual lifestyle. He is truly attempting to live a godly life but is struggling with mental flashbacks, periodic pangs of guilt and urges to resume sexual activity which he knows to be sin. He asks you for some practical suggestions. What do you tell him? Would your suggestions differ significantly if he was a homosexual when he came to Christ? If so, how? (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Titus 2:11-3:7)

You are trying to raise your family in a godly way, but there is so much sexual temptation all around. What steps are you taking to protect and train your children when it comes to sexual purity?

Summing Up:

What are some of the main encouragements or challenges you have taken from what we have studied together today? Is there any specific word of praise you would like to give to God for what you have learned about Jesus today? How about questions? Do you have any thing you are still wondering from what we have talked about? What are some of the practical differences what you studied makes on your life? What would you like to share with someone else? Is there any specific issue that this study has brought up that you want the members of our Bible study to be praying for you about?

Simple Family Devotions #8: The sinfulness of sin

22 Oct

It is impossible to appreciate what Jesus has done for you without understanding how desperately you needed him to do it. This means you need to know what the Bible teaches about sin. It is much worse than you think it is. Until you recognize the sinfulness of sin, you will have no comprehension of the remedy God’s provided in Christ. Take some time to look at the following verses and consider what they teach about sin. Some of these verses define sin. Others provide a picture of what sin does. And then others talk about the consequences. It might help to make this personal. You might do that simply by saying, when I sin or my sin…and then filling in the blank from the verse.

1.) 1 John 3:4

2.) Jeremiah 2:13

3.) Romans 1:22

3.) Ezekiel 18:4

4.) Isaiah 55:2

5.) Jeremiah 9:3-6

And, there’s so much more! Before you move on today, think about how this look at sin should impact you. What difference will knowing what sin is really like make on the way you think, feel or act today?

Dads: Day Five

21 Oct

I have been working on a little devotional for fathers and thought I might share some of it with you from time to time. I know I need it!

—–

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12,13

Americans aren’t known for enjoying being told what they cannot do. 

In fact, I’ve always liked the little saying, ‘We are AmeriCANS, not AmeriCANT’S.’ And yet while, it is good to be encouraged to push yourself to do more than you think is possible, it is also wise to recognize your limitations. 

That is especially true for you as a Christian father. 

In the days ahead I want to talk with you about what you can do as a father, but first, I want to remind you what you can’t. You can’t give your children spiritual life. The Bible is very clear about our condition from birth. We are all born spiritually dead. That means even your sweet little daughter or your fun little boy has a problem you can’t fix. 

You can share the gospel. You can give them a godly example. You can pray for them. But you simply do not have the power to resurrect them from the spiritual dead. 

At first that may bother you. 

But whenever you have a job to do, it’s important to sort out who is responsible for what. Ultimately you are not the one responsible for saving your children. That is in God’s hands. He is the only one who has the ability to make someone His child. 

Knowing that certainly should humble you. The one thing your child needs most, you can’t do. Your child needs something even bigger than good parenting if they are going to live a life that glorifies God. They need a miracle. And if that miracle hasn’t occurred, even if you were the world’s best parent, they are going to end up doing what unbelievers do, which is rebel against God. 

I am not trying to be pessimistic. Instead, I am trying to help you focus. Knowing what you are not responsible for allows you to focus on what you actually are responsible for  

What does God want from you as a father? 

He’s not asking you to be the one who saves your child. 

He’s asking you to be faithful. 

Of course, we want our children to be born again. We pray for that. We do everything we can to enable that. But, our success as a father isn’t based ultimately on whether or not our children become Christians. 

Success as a father is you being obedient to your Father.

Take Time to Reflect:

1. How does the Bible describe a spiritually dead person? How does knowing that is true of your child if they haven’t become Christians, impact the way you think about them and about parenting? 

2. Being a Christian is more than being a nice person or going to church, it requires a miracle. What are some evidences that miracle has taken place in someone’s life?  

Practical Suggestion:

If your child desperately needs to be born again, and God’s the only who can produce the new birth, what should you be constantly doing as a father? Praying for God to do what you can’t. Take some time and pray for your children. Ask God to show mercy and give them the gift of new life. If your children already are believers, it’s not genetics, and it’s not because you were such an amazing parent, it’s because God worked in their life, so how should you respond? Take some time and thank Him for the great mercy He’s shown you and your family. 

No surer way to hell…

18 Oct

“Falsehood and pretence before God are damnable.

I cannot use a less forcible word than that. Pretence condemns men fatally, and finally if it be continued in. I have noticed in reference to conversions one noteworthy fact. I would not wish to assert as a general rule that which happens to be the result of my personal observation; but be the rule what it may, all the world over, this one thing is a statement of my own experience, — I have constantly seen almost all sorts of people converted— great blasphemers, pleasure-seekers, thieves, drunkards, unchaste persons, and hardened reprobates, but rarely have I seen a man converted who has been a thorough-paced liar. I might have been still more correct if I had said never to my knowledge have I seen a wily, crafty man of cunning become a disciple of Jesus. The heart which is crammed with craft and treachery seems as if it had passed out of the reach of grace. You remember that the ground which brought forth fruit when the sower went forth to sow is called “honest and good ground.” There was nothing good in it spiritually, but it was honest, true, sincere, and so far “good.”

Give me plain-spokenness and I have hope of a man. If a fellow can look you straight in the face you can deal with him. An open-hearted sailor, honest as the noonday sun, puts on no imitation of religion, but is evidently a bad fellow, a very bad fellow, and yet, when the grace of God enables him to listen to the gospel, how he sucks it in, and with what heartiness he responds to it. How very different it is with that clever gentleman who always attends a place of worship, and knows how to raise quibbles, and to answer texts of Scripture, and to blurt the edge of any truth that touches his conscience! You know him, do you not? He is a great sorrow to me. What a mischief-maker he is in all sorts of circles, and what a fetcher and carrier of religious gossip! He slips in and out of gospel services like a dog in a fair, and nothing ever comes of his running about. He is not good enough to be good to himself. How can you get at him? He knows all you can tell him, and yet knows nothing in truth. He is harder to handle than an eel, for he is all twists and turns. The man is shut up in armour, he is cased all over with his lying self-deceitfulness, and the arrows of truth are blunted when they touch his harness. May none of you ever grow into the like of him.

I charge you, above all things, be true.

If Baal be God, serve him, but say so, and do it in broad daylight. If the devil be your master, do not disown him; but do not be one of those mean sneaks who will serve God on Sundays, and the devil when it pays them better. Be not one who will profess to be a Christian to be respectable, and under the cover of that will indulge in the most disreputable vices. Such a man, though never out of the reach of the infinite grace of God — I never meant to say that— is usually the kind of man that the election of God does not light upon, and that the grace of God seldom visits.

Amidst a very large and wide observation I have noticed the fact which I have stated, and, therefore, I bid all pretenders look to themselves lest their bands be made strong, and their death-irons be riveted on their wrists before they know of it. I would say to young persons beginning life, whatever errors you fall into, whatever mistakes you make, ay, and into whatever transgressions you may wander, be true. Wear no cloak of hypocrisy. Profess not to be what you are not; never dare to jeopardize your soul by a falsehood.

Remember, no way to hell is surer than the way of deceit, for it is written, “All liars shall have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.” He that loveth and maketh a lie shall be cast away from the presence of God and from the glory of his power.”

Simple Family Devotions #7: The Good Life

17 Oct

How would you define the good life?

Jesus’ answer is simple. Knowing God.

Not only is knowing God essential to living forever, knowing God is key to really living life well now. It’s important you take time today to think about God.  You can begin where God begins. The first thing God tells us is that He is the Creator. This seems obvious, but we often fail to appreciate its significance. Look up the following verses and note what they tell us about God as Creator and how that reality should impact us.

1.) 1 Chronicles 16:25,26

2.) Psalm 89:11,12

3.) Isaiah 45:5,9,10

4.) Jeremiah 32:17

5.) Psalm 121:1,2

6.) Revelation 4:11

Now, what is one way you will think, feel or act  differently today in light of what you’ve seen about God? 

 

Speak truth, at all costs…

16 Oct

Christian living 101.

Christians must speak truth, at all costs.

Why is the truth so important?

  1. God loves truth. He is actually the God of truth. He is abundant in truth. His truth reaches to the skies. Jesus is full of grace and truth. He is the truth. The truth is in Jesus. The Spirit is the Spirit of truth. God’s Word is the word of truth. Christianity is called the way of truth.
  2. The devil is the source of lies. He’s called the father of lies. Part of what makes lying so awful is not simply that it is bad form or not good manners, but that lying is ultimately of the devil. In fact if you think about how sin came into the world, you remember that it was a consequence of listening to a lie from the devil himself.
  3. Speaking the truth in love is how Christians grow.
  4. Lying has devastating consequences. If we want to know how important it is we speak the truth we only need look at all the misery and unhappiness that lying has produced. Just take a step back and think about how lying complicates life. This habit of lying is one of the main reasons for how complicated life gets. We can’t trust anybody so we have to have all these crazy rules and administrative procedures to keep us from stealing each other blind. In our own lives, we do something wrong, we lie about it, and then the moment we do that, we have to tell another lie to cover up that lie and then all of life becomes more and more complex and complicated until we are caught up in this whole web of lies and deceit.  
  5. God hates deception and he will judge it. Psalm 5:6 says that God abhors the liar. In Proverbs 12:22 we read, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord but those who deal faithfully are His delight.” Revelation 21 and 22 sum it all up. Listen to this frightening warning in Revelation 21:8, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake of fire and brimstone. “ Or quoting Revelation 22:14 and 15 which speaks of heaven, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters and” get this “everyone who loves and practices lying.” Unrepentant lying has eternal consequences.

When you begin to think about all the emphasis the Scripture places on the truth, it is really no surprise that speaking truth is one characteristic of the radical transformation being saved should make in the way you live your life. Truth is an essential difference between the new way we look at the world as believers and the old way we used to look at the world as unbelievers, and should be an essential difference between the way believers communicate to others on a daily basis. 

Have you really dedicated your life to God?

15 Oct

It is easy to say you have dedicated yourself to God when you are actually living for yourself. 

Jonathan Edwards gives the following six tests to evaluate whether or not you are really acting as if you were own, not God’s.

1.   What are you seeking? You act as if you were your own when you don’t deliberately and wholeheartedly seek the glory of God in all that you do.

2.  Are you willing to compromise? You act as if you were your own when you don’t do what God wants you to do or you do something God doesn’t want you to do simply for the sake of your own comfort or pleasure.

3. Whose wisdom do you trust? You act as if you were your own when you trust in your understanding rather than submitting to Scripture.

4. Are you complaining? You act as if you were your own when you complain about your afflictions.

5. How do you respond when people hurt you? You act as if you were your own when you become angry and bitter and revengeful when people mistreat you.

6. Are you generous? You act as if you were your own when you aren’t willing to happily and liberally give your possessions to those who are in need.