FMBS 017 John 4:1-24 Jesus Goes a Slummin’

Last week in John Chapter 3 we saw how Jesus dealt with the ultimate insider; a guy named Nicodemus.

Nicodemus was well-connected: a member of the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee, the ultimate insider, the ultimate religious professional.  And when he comes to Jesus by night, Jesus graciously and carefully deconstructs his entire religious worldview.  He tells Nicodemus that the relationship that God seeks is in the heart; not a national, not a surface, not a traditional relationship, but one that radically changes a person and makes them different.

So as we come to Chapter 4 today, Jesus goes from the insider to the ultimate outsider as he goes through Samaria, the equivalent of the slums for the Orthodox Jew in Jesus’s day.  And instead of a man imbued with power and cloaked in religious approval, Jesus engages a woman; a scandalous woman with a secret, with a past.  He engages her about her need for the kind of water that only God can give.

These two passages illustrate beautifully that Jesus Christ came to change something, not about our behavior, but fundamentally about our existence.  To be born again is not just to have a religious agenda, but it’s to receive the greatest gift that God can give a human being.  All of this today on Friday Morning Bible Study.

FMBS 016 The Greatest Gift You’re Ever Going to Get

Friday Morning Bible Study is a 20-minute verse-by-verse study through the Book of John.  It’s intended to be used in your small groups, or in your drive to work.  The length is long enough to dig deep, but not too long for those on a tight schedule.

Today we come to John chapter 13 through verse 36.  This passage contains the first Scripture I ever learned and is still the best verse I’ve ever known. It’s the verse that assures us that God loves us so much that He sent His Son to die that we might have eternal life.

There’s also some interesting back-and-forth in this passage between John the Baptist and his followers and Jesus and his gaining popularity.  Just as in our day, we have people who try to cause trouble, to stir up jealousy and competition, it was true in Jesus’s and John the Baptist’s day.  And how John the Baptist faced it is also a great learning for how we can face it in our own life.

This passage ends with the powerful statement that flies in the face of a lot of the current teaching in American Christianity.  There seems to be a controversy in some people’s minds about the essential nature of Jesus. Can you know God without Jesus?  Can you go to heaven without accepting Him as Lord? Can you stand before God and be forgiven even if you haven’t repented your sins, you don’t love God, as a matter of fact you hate everything righteous and holy, and want nothing to do with God?  Is it true that in eternity God forces Himself on those who refuse to love Him and bow to Him on this earth?  The Scriptures make it very clear and it’s a fascinating read.

FMBS 015 A Beautiful Anger

We continue, today, in our weekly verse-by-verse study of John by beginning with John 2:13.  Here are introduced the most intriguing aspects of Jesus’s ministry, of his ability to become angry and remain righteous and sinless, all at the same time.  Oftentimes we teach Christians that anger and frustration and other such emotions have no place in Christ or in the spiritual life.  And yet Christ was angry.  He got upset. He wasn’t just some nice pushover that people could treat just any way and he would “turn the other cheek.”

We are also introduced to another character, Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin by night.  Without a doubt he got more than he bargained for and certainly a different story than he had heard before he met Jesus. Why did he come at night?  How did he respond?  And what does this story have to do with your life and mine in the modern world?  Why the phrase, you must be born again, makes all the difference in your relationship with God and your future.

FMBS 014 John 1:39-2:12 Two Words That Change Everything

As we continue our verse-by-verse study of the Book of John, we are introduced to the disciples that Jesus is now gathering around Him.  And as they come around Him, each one of them is so transfixed with Jesus and who He is and what He’s here to do, he goes and finds his friend or his brother.  As they come around Jesus asking Him what He wants them to do, He simply says, “Follow me.”

These are the two words that change everything, aren’t they?  It’s not, “Admire me,” “Add me to your life,” or even, as I was told as a child, “Make a decision for me.”  That’s how my spiritual life began; down front, signing a “decision card.”  The next was to be baptized.  The next was to join the church, and after that was pretty much set. And yet Jesus never asked you to join the church. He never asked you to sign a decision card. He asked you to simply follow Him.  And as the disciples began to follow Him, He took them on a journey and an adventure they could only have imagined.

As we start Chapter 2, we see Jesus launching His public ministry at the most unlikely place – a public wedding, by doing the most unlikely miracle – turning the water into wine.  There’s a lot there, as we walk through these verses together.

FMBS 013 John 1:15-38: God Gets Down and Dirty

We continue in our study of John in today’s episode.  We talk about the power of John the Baptist as he presents with great boldness and clarity, Jesus as the Messiah.

He talks about a new kind of grace, a power that will accompany the words and work of Jesus with the Holy Spirit.  We get introduced to the idea of the Trinity; that God is One expressed in three persons, with three very separate tasks to accomplish.

As you study these next verses, think about the richness of what it means for God to give us a new kind and a better kind of grace; what it means when they call Jesus, “Rabbi.”  What does it mean that He is a Teacher?  What did He come to teach us?  What’s the content and mission?  Is it being pushed forward today by the church, or has the church lost its way on a mission of its own?

FMBS 012 John 1: Why Jesus is a Big Deal

Well today we turn the corner in our Friday Morning Bible Study in two ways:  a brand new book, and a newer, shorter format.

For our first eleven episodes, I taught from the Book of Romans in a a live forum.  But for the Book of John, I’m going to record the lesson on Thursday in my studio and have it posted by 5:00 AM every Friday morning, so that you can download it and have it for your Friday Morning Bible Study or whenever your small group, family, or work group gets together and studies.

The 20-minute format gives you plenty of time to play the study in your group, and time for intro and discussion.  Twenty minutes is about the average commute, so it gives you time to listen to it on your way to work each Friday.  I hope you find it helpful.

We’re starting with John Chapter 1 in the first 14 verses where John tells us that Jesus is a big deal; that He is preincarnate, eternal, He is the agent of creation, He is the Light of the world, and He chooses people that we wouldn’t have.

This is a rich couple of paragraphs full of meaning that really sets the standard for what makes Christianity so unique and gives you some reasons why it has been so successful over these two thousand years.

FMBS 011 It’s Not All About Me

Today we’ve come to the conclusion of our study of the Book of Romans with chapters 15 & 16 convincing us our lives should be lived not out of our weakness, but out of Christ’s strength.

Today we’ll talk about the power of hope and the transformation that happens when the Holy Spirit comes into the world not only to restrain evil and to convict and draw the elect, but also to energize our hope and to give us power for service.  As a Christian it is never just about me.  It’s about serving the movement. It’s about living out of strength to weakness.

One of the other fallacies we deal with in this Bible study is the whole idea that I’m just a sinner saved by grace.  I heard that all my life growing up.  But we are more than sinners.  Paul says we’re saints – holy ones.  We have a new position and orientation to God and therefore, to the world.  We’re no longer living out of weakness; we’re living out of strength.

Again, we are very careful to understand that it’s God’s strength in and through us, but a strength, nonetheless; strength enough to go out and pioneer the good news, to go into a dark world where people are losing their lives every single day around us and still smiling all about it, seeing past the facade and offering the hope of Jesus Christ;  caring, loving, serving, and pouring our life and our resources into this epic movement that God cares so much about.

As you use the study today in your small groups or Bible studies, particularly ask yourself these questions, “What does it mean to say that life is not all about me?  What is the true Christian hope?  What is the Holy Spirit’s role in my life and in the world these days? What should I do about those who cause divisions among us?  What about those who are in need? What are my responses to others who are suffering, and especially suffering for their faith?”

FMBS 010 Not Everyone Can Do What You Can Do

We began in Romans 14 in our study, this week, with really practical teaching on Christian liberty.

Too often in an effort to live Christian-ly we end up judging each other over the things that we can and cannot do and maintain our Christian testimony.

The truth of the matter is, not everyone can do what everyone else can do.  And not everything that is sinful or unwise is true for everyone.  There’s not one blanket statement, unless of course you’re talking about the principles and the absolutes of the faith.

And even those sometimes are up for debate.  But I think we can agree that adultery, lying, greed, gossip, bitterness, back-biting, and taking the Lord’s name in vain are all things to be avoided.  They lead to no good place.

But what about the other things such as what you eat, what you wear, the Holy days and festivals you observe, things you abstain from – one person’s a vegetarian, while other people love bacon.  How can we all be right when we have to make moral decisions about these questionable habits?  It’s called Christian liberty and maturity.  And that’s what we delve into and get insights on today in Romans 14.

FMBS 009 – Romans 12 and 13: Let’s Get Down and Dirty

As we continued our journey in our Friday Morning Bible Study this week ,we dealt with Romans Chapters 12 and 13.  These are the verses where we get practical, down and dirty, about the living-out of our faith.

It’s almost poetic and comical that Chapter 12 begins with the word “Therefore.”  We’ve always learned that when we see a “therefore” in Scripture, we have to see what it’s there for.  In other words, is it looking forward to what’s coming, or looking back at what’s already been taught.  In this case, it’s obviously looking back at the first 11 chapters.

Paul goes to great lengths, 12 chapters worth, to help the Romans understand the majesty of their faith, the depth, the breadth, and how great it is in light of how bad the bad news is. And sometimes when he uses words like election, predestination, justification, transgression and the like, we can get confused.  But trust me, he speaks plain emotional language that’s too hard to misunderstand, and too good to ignore.

I thought it was interesting at the recent wedding of Prince William and Princess Kate, this chapter was read by Kate’s brother, almost in it’s entirety. Chapter 12 leaves no doubt as to what God is up to in the knowledge of all of this theological content.  It’s the transformation of our mind.   That’s what Christianity really is, isn’t it? Transformation.  Religion is about reformation.  Fundamentalism is about devastation or judgment.  But true, Jesus spirituality is about being transformed from the inside out.

As you listen to this session, look at all the practical things we’re told to do about loving one another.  The chapter ends with this bold, radical statement that you overcome evil not with bombs, guns, and filibusters, but with love, or with good.  Chapter 13 gets even more into our face and down to our business when it tell us our obligation to the government.  I  think you will enjoy the Q & A time at the end of this session as well, as we talked about some of the practical implications of the teachings of Romans.

FMBS 008 Romans 10 & 11: God Makes No Casual Covenants

It’s hard to believe we’re already up to Chapters 10 and 11 in our Friday Morning Bible Study.  But we have arrived at two verses that make it very clear that when God makes a promise, He takes it seriously.

The great teacher, Paul, turns our attention to God’s covenant with Israel.  Even though their disbelief has worked out to the benefit of the outsiders, namely the Gentiles; namely, you and me, God still is going to keep His promise to Israel.

It’s a fascinating study that helps us understand:

  1. God takes His promises seriously.
  2. This means that God is not only personal, but very relational.
  3. God is incredibly creative in the way that He fulfills His plans, even when fallible, fickle people refuse to cooperate.
  4. And last, but not least, God’s grace has been extended for those who are aliens to the promises of God.

That makes this a good day.

FMBS 007 It’s God’s Way, or the Highway

This week at our Friday Morning Bible Study we dealt with the last verses of Chapter 8, and all of Romans Chapter 9.

Romans 8 ends by talking about these good, glorious ideals; that we are more than conquerors in Christ, that nothing can separate us from the love of God: not life, not death, not the future, nor the past, nor any other creature could ever separate us from the love of Christ.  And then we go to Chapter 9.  Oh, what a headache!

It’s in Chapter 9 we’re told that God will have mercy on whom He’ll have mercy. That as the Creator He’ll have full sway and right to say what He will or will not do with and for His creation.  These are deep thoughts, deep ideas that most Christians, in my experience, turn away from to embrace the more shallow truths; that God loves everyone, that no one is going to hell, that no one is estranged from God, that everyone is a friend of God, that God is a big grandpa in the sky without the right to rule and reign and judge His own creation.

Bottom line of what we learned this week in Romans: this indeed is my Father’s world, He is a big God, a good God, an awesome God; and He will reign with absolute sway over His creation.  He will do as He pleases.  The only obligation He owes us is to be fully who He is and do what He does. Ha cannot violate His nature.  He is righteous, holy and without sin, absolutely. If we’re going to be loved and included, there has to be another story added.  It’s called the gospel, the story of grace.

FMBS 006 Romans 8: What Do You Do When Things Go Bad?

We began studying Romans Chapter 8 this past Friday at our Friday Morning Bible Study.  We talked about God’s promises to the elect, to those whom He has called.  We talked about issues like predestination and election.  What did God mean when he said, “To whom the Lord calls, He justifies, and whom He justifies He glorifies”?  What are the promises that we’re missing when we turn away from concepts like election, destiny, calling, and predestination?

Don’t forget that at the end of each one of our studies, which is about an hour long, there is a 15-minute session of Q and A that sometimes is as interesting or more interesting than the studies themselves.

FMBS 005 The Two Me’s

Have you ever wondered if there are really 2 “You’s” inside of you: one wanting to do the right thing with all its heart, and the other, lazy and hard to discipline?

In our study of Romans 7 this week, we talked about why it’s so hard to live out faith, and why it’s so easy to compromise on the very things we say we believe.

To understand the conflict between the old man and the new man is to be able to stand against the temptations to compromise when they come.

There are several questions after this week’s study, and an important one at the very beginning when one of our students asked to describe the difference between a transgression and a sin.

FMBS 004 What’s the Big Deal About Being Christian?

In the fourth edition of our Friday Morning Bible Study, we arrived at Romans, Chapter 5.  It’s a welcome summation and declaration about what’s so important about being Christian.

In the first four chapters of Romans, Paul paints a bleak picture that we are helpless and hopeless on our own, estranged from God with nothing to offer for reconciliation.  And yet as we arrive in Chapter 5, we see the benefits of being Christian.

What scares me about what passes for Christianity these days, is that I am afraid it is nothing more than religious moralism.  Be better, be good, be more like Paul and everything will be ok.  Because after all, God is God and He can give anything he wants, love anything He wants, without regard to anything inside or outside of Himself.  But nothing could be further from the truth.

Not even God can violate who He is.  His holiness is the core of His character and His existence. For Him to love us, who are totally unholy, He has to do something to make us absolutely holy. And that is the story of the gospel and what we learn in Romans Chapter 5.  That while we were powerless, dead in our sin, and hopelessly estranged from God, God moved in our direction in a mighty, grace-filled way; not only to redeem us, but to reconcile us so that we would have peace with God.  Not just a cosmetic, surface, emotional peace, but a true peace.  The war is over, and now we’re in the process of restoration.

As you listen to this podcast of our Friday Morning Bible Study, ask yourself this question: “Do I live every single day in the awe and wonder of the privilege to be at peace with God?”

FMBS 003 A New Radical Way of Relating to God

I am loving our new Friday Morning Bible Study.  Three weeks in, and I can’t wait to get up and get there every Friday morning and really dig in to the meat of Scripture.

So this week we dealt with Romans 3 and 4: a new way of relating to God.  How are we justified?  How do we “earn” the right to come to God and call Him Father after we’ve rebelled and wandered so far away?  By this radical idea called faith, believing.

It’s hard to believe that God would care so much about me and you that He would put into place a radical plan of redemption based upon hundreds of years worth of planning and fulfillment, the incarnation of God into human form, the sinless life, the vicarious death, and the victorious resurrection: all so we could relate to God by faith.

I am convinced it’s not until you understand how dark the story is without the gospel that you’ll ever truly understand how overwhelmingly amazing the story is with it. Listen and enjoy.