New Bible studies posted

EcclesiastesI’ve recently posted the study we just finished on Wednesday evenings, “Rise Up, Men of God – A Study of Leadership in Nehemiah”. We had some great discussion, and as I have every time I’ve spent time in Nehemiah, I came away with some great principles and pointers for leadership, and a deep appreciation for the man himself. You can click “Small Group Studies” above to download the pdfs.

You’ll also find there a new study of Ecclesiastes, “Finding True Depth in a Shallow World”. These are being posted as we progress, so a new one will pop up every week (ch. 1 & 2 now available).

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Living Generously

Living Generously

For the month of June our message series at the Early Church of Christ was on generosity and giving. While this topic is one that I probably preach too little on (I’m a native West Texan, avoiding it is in our blood), I really enjoyed the study and challenges in this series. I hope that you find these encouraging; the lessons are meant to come at this important Christian value (Jesus spoke on it all the time) in a very positive way.

A Little is Enough (when God is in it) – Matthew 14:13-21
What to Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek, a tiny bird on its back, two dead fish and your wallet have in common?

Blessed to Be a BlessingII Corinthians 8-9
“God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, ‘He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.'” –II Corinthians 9:8-11, The Message

The Prodigal FatherLuke 15:11-32
It is said that charity begins in the home, and in the parable of the prodigal son, we see that charity began in the heart of a loving, generous-beyond-reason father.

Imitators of GodActs 4:32-35
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” Acts 4:32-35, NIV

 

 

 

 

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10 Attitudes and Outcomes that are Like Oil and Water

Oil & Water

 

You’ll never find these 10 attitudes attain these outcomes.

  1. Arrogance and Caring
  2. Self-Indulgence and Healing
  3. Navel-gazing and Progress
  4. Nit-picking and Unity
  5. Stubbornness and Growth
  6. Selfishness and Love
  7. Wallowing in self-pity and Joy
  8. Harshness and Peacemaking
  9. Grudges and Grace
  10. Isolation and Friendship
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Grace in the Old Testament?

Grace. To a lot of people, this was a new concept introduced by Jesus. It wasn’t. As he said in John 5:19, his own acts of grace and mercy were rooted in what he’d watched the Father do from the beginning. This is actually one reason so many of the Jewish believers who followed Jesus knew he was from God. God was a source of grace, and Jesus was a source of grace, so Jesus’ claims to be from God rang true to them. (<–Hey…there might be a parenthetical message in there)

For an example of how Israel saw the grace of YHWH in the OT, just check out this excerpt from Nehemiah:

“You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.” – Nehemiah 9:17-21, ESV

Grace.

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Quote: “When we cannot laugh at ourselves…”

“When we cannot laugh at ourselves, we are taking ourselves too seriously. We must be able to admit our misdirections and inconsistencies before we will accept any proper change. Where teaching and logic fails, sometimes a good laugh at ourselves can prevail.”
~Cecil Hooks

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Love works through the petty differences…

Just as no husband would be considered “loving” who deserted his family every time he and his wife disagreed over petty decisions, no Christian can be considered loving who abandons their church family over every little disputable matter. Love walks together, grows together, learns together, stays together.

1st Corinthians 13 was written about weddings and etsy crafts, it was about the body of Christ becoming an outpost of love, unity, and reconciliation in world of division and wedges.

#unitymatters

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Christianity is a team sport.

But if it’s true that we don’t live as Christians all by ourselves in the sense that we are promised the Holy Spirit within us, it’s also true that we don’t do it all by ourselves in the sense that there is no such thing as a solitary Christian. Christianity is a team sport. The ancient pagan virtues were designed to produce great individuals, hero-figures who would lead nations in politics and war. The Christian virtues, supremely faith, hope and love, the great signs of resurrection that well up within us, are designed to produce communities in which each individual has their own unique part to play but within a much larger whole. And the point of it all is not to draw attention to ourselves, but rather to put ourselves out for everyone else, to spot what needs doing in God’s world and to get on and do it, without making a song and dance about it. Thank God that so many Christians in our society are doing just that – so many, in fact, that if they all suddenly stopped doing it our whole country would feel the draft. But you, newly baptised and confirmed Christians today, you need to pray for God’s wisdom and direction to see where you belong in this work. You are part of the family and you will have your tasks to perform, the things God wants to do in this community which we’ve been needing you to do, to make your unique contribution.

~from the sermon “Living in God’s Future – Now!” by the Bishop of Durham, Dr. N. T. Wright

 

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