Fear of the Holy Spirit

Here are my notes for the second session of The Forgotten God, by Francis Chan, which includes questions for my small group, quotes from the book, and other observations. Remember these are notes, and not a complete article on the topic. Please purchase the book to support the author. 1. Think about a time in your life when you were afraid (real or imagined). How did you feel? How did you respond? 2. Why do you think it is easy to become defensive and fearful of change when it comes to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit? 3. With which camp do you most identify? What fears and stereotypes do you have with the other camp? 4. Do these fears prevent you from changing your … Continue reading

Building Compassion

This lesson deals with Jesus building into the lives of the disciples a character trait that is necessary for reaching people with the gospel. The disciples needed to learn about compassion. A lack of compassion will cause disciples to not see the needs of people around them, and will prevent them from engaging people in hopes of sharing the gospel with them. Jesus’ mission was to seek, serve, and save the lost (Matthew 20:28, Mark 1:28, 10:45, Luke 4:43, 19:10). Read Matthew 9:9-13 Once these two pairs of brothers committed to follow Jesus in order to be trained in evangelism (Luke 5:1-11), Jesus led them into one of the cities near the Sea of Galilee. A man full of leprosy saw Jesus and bowed down … Continue reading

Who Needs the Spirit?

Here are my notes for the first session of The Forgotten God, by Francis Chan, which includes questions for my small group, quotes from the book, and other observations. Remember these are notes, and not a complete article on the topic. Please purchase the book to support the author. Our western mindset: we tend to assume that God won’t work supernaturally in our lives. We read some crazy stuff in the book of Acts but we don’t expect the supernatural. In John 14:16, Jesus promised “another” counselor to be with them. This is not another of a different kind, but another of the same kind! Jesus says the Spirit would be like him! When we are honest, we would prefer a real and physical Jesus … Continue reading

I Said, You Are Gods

Wow, here is one that will knock your socks off… What did Jesus mean in saying men were gods (John 10:34-36)? What has been popularly termed the “little god controversy” originated with Word of Faith pastors and teachers. The basic idea behind the controversy is that humans are actually divine, created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27) not only in having a soul, having dominion over the earth, or living in relationship with others, but by being of the same “spiritual class” as God Himself. Evangelicals say this concept as misguided at best, or heretical and cultic at worst. Take a look at this brief documentary style video on this “little gods” heresy. You’ll be surprised at who teaches this doctrine. The main tenant … Continue reading

Don’t Be Afraid of Fishing

This lesson deals with the disciples going back to fishing after they spent about nine months investigating the words and works of Jesus. Fear causes many today to drop out before they are fully trained and convinced of the claims of Jesus. Background: These men spent nine months off and on with Jesus so this passage is not their first exposure to Jesus. After those initial nine months, Jesus stopped by their places of business and called to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Perhaps Jesus had hoped these men had developed a heart for the harvest and reaching lost souls for Christ. They dropped everything and followed him. We don’t know what caused them to return to … Continue reading

Come and Follow Me

Having completed the first six commands at the Infant Stage, we are now into the first of four commands in this Youth Stage. In John 1 Jesus called to the disciples, “Come and see” (John 1:39), indicating that Jesus is a person worth investigating. Now Jesus calls this fishermen to “Come and follow me” (Matthew 4:19-22). For nine month between the events of John 1 and Matthew 4, the disciples were investigating the words and works of Jesus. At the wedding at Cana the disciples became believers (John 2:11) They went to Capernaum and visited with Jesus (John 2:12) They celebrated the Passover in Jerusalem (John 2:13-25) They were present when Jesus and Nicodemus had their nighttime meeting (John 3:1-21) They spent time in Judea … Continue reading

Love Your Enemies

This is not so much a hard saying to understand, but it is certainly a difficult one to live out, “Love your enemies” and “Turn the other cheek” (Luke 6:27-36). Let’s get to know each other a little bit more: Who was your favorite villain on Saturday morning cartoons, or TV show? Why has Jesus made this shift in the object of love (Leviticus 19:18)? What are we to do to our enemies? Is that a noun or a verb, maybe an emotion or action? How can Luke 6:29-30 reinforce bad behavior? What is Jesus’ point (Luke 6:31, 36)? Jesus assumed that anyone who attempted to live by his values would get in trouble with the world’s crowd. To be the salt of the earth … Continue reading

Judge Not, Lest You Be Judged

This may be one of those passages that prevents us from confronting a sinning brother, so let’s seek to understand it. Here is a question to get us started: “What is Jesus calling for in this passage?” no judgment? self-judgment? fair judgment? divine judgment? The religious leaders were guilty of exercising a false judgment about themselves, other people, and even the Lord. Their false righteousness helped to encourage their false judgment. It may be why Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount with a discussion on judgment. There really are three judgments: Our judgment of ourselves (Matthew 7:1-5) Our judgment of others (Matthew 7:6-20) Our judgment by God (Matthew 7:21-29) Our passage today brings us to the first section, judgment of ourselves. This is the … Continue reading

Calling Someone a Fool

Here are a few questions to get us thinking today: How did your parents settle disputes between you and your siblings when you were a kid? What was the best advice you have been given on how to deal with anger? In this passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers that when someone is angry with his brother, saying “Raca,” he is answerable to the court, and one who calls him a “fool” will be in danger of the fire of hell (Matthew 5:21-22). What legal case has especially cause your attention? How are murder and anger related? What new standard of right and wrong is Jesus creating? Does Jesus say that anger leads to murder? NO, he says anger IS … Continue reading

Jesus Cursing the Fig Tree

We don’t often find Jesus cursing anything, so this is an odd saying, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again (Mark 11:12-14, 20-26) – the cursing of the fig tree. The account of Jesus cursing the barren fig tree is found in two different gospel accounts. First, it is seen in Matthew 21:18-22, and then also in Mark 11:12-14. While there are slight differences between the two accounts, they are easily reconciled by studying the passages. Like all Scripture, the key to understanding this passage comes from understanding the context in which it happened. In order to properly understand this passage, we must first look at the chronological and geographical setting. For example, when did this occur, what was the setting, and where … Continue reading