Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 22 - 29

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Dec 22: Heb 7-10
Dec 23: Heb 11-13
Dec 24: 2 Timothy
Dec 25: 2 Peter; Jude
Dec 26: 1 John
Dec 27: 2/3 John
Dec 28: Rev 1-5
Dec 29: Rev 6-11

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15 - 22

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Dec 15: Colossians; Philemon
Dec 16: Ephesians
Dec 17: Philippians
Dec 18: 1 Timothy
Dec 19: Titus
Dec 20: 1 Peter
Dec 21: Heb 1-6
Dec 22: Heb 7-10

Thursday, December 8, 2011

December 8 - 15

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Dec 8: Rom 4-7
Dec 9: Rom 8-10
Dec 10: Rom 11-13
Dec 11: Rom 14-16
Dec 12: Acts 20:4-23:35
Dec 13: Acts 24-26
Dec 14: Acts 27-28
Dec 15: Colossians; Philemon

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 1 - 8

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Dec 1: 1Cor 9-11
Dec 2: 1Cor 12-14
Dec 3: 1Cor 15-16
Dec 4: 2Cor 1-4
Dec 5: 2Cor 5-9
Dec 6: 2Cor 10-13
Dec 7: Acts 20:1-3; Rom 1-3
Dec 8: Rom 4-7

Monday, November 28, 2011

Live Free or Die

Read Galatians 5:13-15

From what fears are we freed when we are freed from the law?

What are the twin enemies of freedom? (It may be helpful to remember Ryan’s wording: losing our freedom via ___________ and abusing our freedom via ______________.)

How does Paul portray our freedom as a gift? Who is the primary actor in this process? How did Ryan describe the story of God’s people from cover to cover of the Bible?

According to Paul, do we have to keep the law? Why ought we to?

How is our freedom in Christ a “burden”? Hint: It may help to think through the paradox that Ryan gave us regarding self-control.

What is the primary focus of the burden? What is our freedom to be used for, in these verses? What is “responsible use” of Christian freedom?

What does our culture consider the best use of our freedom? What would the result of this use of freedom be—what sort of people might it turn us into, according to the text?

What is the shame of Christians using their freedom for themselves—what sort of people does it turn us into? What is the tragedy of Christians using freedom for themselves—what does it exchange true freedom for?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

November 24 - December 1

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Nov 24: Gal 1-3
Nov 25: Gal 4-6
Nov 26: Acts 17-18:18
Nov 27: 1/2Thess
Nov 28: Acts 18:19-19:41
Nov 29: 1Cor 1-4
Nov 30: 1Cor 5-8
Dec 1: 1Cor 9-11

Monday, November 21, 2011

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

Please read Galatians 5:2-12.

Reflect and share with each other: where does your life feel like a race?

Copy and paste the following if you’d like to hear a live version of the song that inspired the title of the sermon: How is this a picture of Christian life?

Ryan suggested that often the places we run to when we run away from God are places we feel we are doing great. What is the motivation behind going to these places? What do we think they will accomplish for us?

When/if we do run from God, what reasons or motivations does Paul give for coming back?

If the Galatians turn to circumcision, what else do they have to do? Why?

Copy and paste the following to see a video of the subway ad Ryan referred to in the sermon: What significance did Ryan draw from this image? What does it mean for the Christian life?

The good news, Ryan said, is that our standing before God depends not on ourselves. This leads to _____ hope, as opposed to  ______________hope.

What does it mean, then, as Paul says, to eagerly wait? How do we sometimes lose sight of what is our highest vocation? Why?

Return to the opening reflection on running a race. Paul uses this imagery too. Why does he use it? What are the connotations and associations of running that Paul is drawing on? (Leisure, competition, exhaustion, drive, etc.?) How can we use this notion of running a race as we pursue our primary vocation? How does it change the way we view our vocation(s)?

Ryan said that we often schew one of two ways when we consider our vocation: What are those two ways, and how do these two camps often pursue each other?
How does turning to the cross remind us how we are to run this race? What motivation does it supply?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Freedom Fighting

Please read Galatians 4:21-5:1.

What did it mean for the Galatians to have either Sarah or Hagar as their mother? What would be the implications of either of those?

Eric said that for those with Sarah as mother were free and could rest in the promise of God’s work. What about those with Hagar as mother?

Paul quotes Isaiah in this week’s passage. Who is the “barren woman” he addresses? How is the prophecy being fulfilled among the Galatians?

Like practicing a musical instrument over and over, for hours and hours so we can play by feel or intuition, where do we as Christians go, what do we do, to “preach the gospel to ourselves”?

Who were trying to strip the Galatians of their freedom and how? How might your freedom in Christ be threatened today?

Eric suggested we could discover those hidden things that our hearts would try to add to Christ by filling in the following blank: “The only good Christian is a ______________ Christian.” For example, the Judaizers would have put “circumcised” in the blank. What are you tempted to say, or have said in the past?

November 17 - 24

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Nov 17: Acts 4-6
Nov 18: Acts 7-8
Nov 19: Acts 9-10
Nov 20: Acts 11-12
Nov 21: Acts 13-14
Nov 22: James
Nov 23: Acts 15-16
Nov 24: Gal 1-3

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Adoption, Gal. 3:26-4:10

Does God want you? Does he begrudge having you in his church? Do your heart and head sometimes disagree in response to this question? Why?

What does baptism stand for in verse 27? What does it have to do with the statement in v. 28? How do we now see one another?

Given your answers above, why is diversity valuable in the church?

For a largely homogeneous congregation, where does its oneness come from? What about a highly diverse one?

What do you inherit as one of Abraham’s heirs? (It may help to consider how it may have been originally understood: the land of Canaan, the nation of Israel, and a relationship with God)

What does this phrase from the Puritans means: “Living below our privileges.” Explain it, with reference to the passage and sermon.

What is meant by the term “basic principles”? (Other translations, “elementary principles”) What was Ryan referring to when he talked about being a 35-year-old in kindergarten?

What does it mean to live as a slave? What about as a son/daughter?

Finally, consider this thought from J.I. Packer: “If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child.”  Share your response to this quote: How much have you previously made of being called God’s child? What factor has it played in your own conception of your identity? How will you respond to and act upon this knowledge? What difference, if any, will it make in your personal life, or family, or church life? How will you keep yourself in this truth?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Who's On First? Galatians 3:15-25

Have you ever felt anxious or concerned that you hear too much an emphasis on grace? Or heard others express this? What is the underlying concern—what is it assumed that “too much” grace would lead to?

How have the Galatians been understanding the relationship between Law and Grace?

How does Paul explain this relationship chronologically?

How does he explain it relationally? (Think of the difference between a vocabulary of promise and a vocabulary of law.)

What is the law unable to do/never intended to do? What can it do?

How do we often misuse the law to drive us to…self righteousness? …despair? Why are these misuses of the law?

Where should the law drive us?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Where Your Story Begins - Galatians 3:6-14

Sermon discussion questions:

Reflect on “your story,” as you typically tell it—does it begin with yourself? What are the benefits and drawbacks of this as a beginning?

Where did Paul and the Judaizers agree that the Galatian Christians’ story began? How do they differ on that point?

How is our faith the same as Abraham’s? Revisit his account in Genesis to review together. How would you describe “the gospel according to Abraham”? What makes the gospel hard to believe in the modern world? Abraham’s world?

Why do our children sing “Father Abraham had many sons/and many sons had father Abraham”?

How did the Judaizers believe the Gentiles were to be included in God’s covenant people? What was Paul’s critique of their anwer?

Fill in the blank: According to Luther, when Christ took on the curse of the law, it was as if Christ had said, “Judge me as if I am _________.”

Extra credit, on the sermon that Ryan didn’t preach: Why do I need to be connected to Abraham? (Hint: It would be better to ask, Why do we need to be connected to Abraham?)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Galatians 3:1-5

Good News Never Gets Old

How have the Galatians been “bewitched”? What has been the effect on them? How should they live instead?

What was the effect of Christ being proclaimed vividly? How should this impact the Galatians added toward the gospel?

How by our own attitudes do we demonstrate that we think we can add to the gospel?

When you sin, what do your thoughts afterward focus on—yourself, your sin itself, your determination not to do it again? What does this say about your heart’s deepest desire? What should your focus instead be and why?

How do we tend to understand the basis of our continued success? What about us as Christians helps us to counter this assumption?

Which Christians are Spirit-filled?

Using our passage, at what points in the Christian life is the Spirit involved?

What did Ryan mean by the term “functional deism”? How are we guilty of it? How can a robust theology of the Holy Spirit correct this? What does the Spirit do that makes him so significant a person in the Godhead?

How do we move further away from, and back toward, the cross?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October 6 - 13

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Oct 6: John 2-4
Oct 7: Mark 2
Oct 8: John 5
Oct 9: Matt 12:1-21; Mark 3; Luke 6
Oct 10: Matt 5-7
Oct 11: Matt 8:1-13; Luke 7
Oct 12: Matt 11
Oct 13: Matt 12:22-50

Monday, October 3, 2011

What The Gospel Makes New (10-2-11 sermon)

Read Galatians 2:17-21.
Reflect: Can there be such a thing as too much grace? We may automatically answer no, but how have you yourself, or how have you seen others, treat this question? What assumptions do Christians tend to make about what too much grace might lead to?

How does Paul describe the new life in Christ? What do the “before” and “after” snapshots look like? What is the “theological shorthand” phrase that Ryan used to describe it? Can you use our passage to explain Calvin’s phrase “animated by the secret power of Christ?

Fill in the blank: “The Son of God loved ____ and gave himself for _____.” How does understanding grace in this way particularly shape our response to it? Why is license not an adequate response to this very personal understanding of grace?

What, then, is the appropriate response to grace? How are we equipped to respond to it appropriately? How would you describe the new attitude of life in Christ?

If you care to share, what area(s) of your life that brings you despair can you bring the gospel to? How?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Walk the Line," September 25, 2011

Read Galatans 2:11-16.

Explain in your own words Peter’s story in this passage. What had he been doing in Antioch? Who came visiting? Why and how did they change Peter’s public demeanor toward the Gentiles? How does Peter cave in to them? Hint: He ends up hypocritically teaching you must first become a _______ before you become a _______________.

Ryan said that in this passage, Peter gets caught doing something right! To what does that refer? Why does he feel “caught” doing this, i.e., what makes him think that what he’s doing right is wrong?

What measurement is Peter mistakenly assuming/falling back on? Are you prey to this tendency as well? How?

The stakes of this issue for Peter are whether his righteousness is based on ____________ or _________________. Explain. How would this issue affect other believers, whether Gentile or Jewish?

Ryan stated that the truth of the gospel is imputed righteousness. What does this mean? How do Peter’s actions say otherwise? How do ours say otherwise? What would it look like for our lives to affirm this truth?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22-29

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Sep 22: Zech 8-14
Sep 23: Est 1-5
Sep 24: Est 6-10
Sep 25: Ezra 7-10
Sep 26: Neh 1-5
Sep 27: Neh 6-7
Sep 28: Neh 8-10
Sep 29: Neh 11-13; Ps 126

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sermon: Gospel Confidence, Galatians 2:1-10

Reflect: When was the last time you were challenged and felt yourself undermined? Did you ask yourself some version of, “Am I strong enough? Am I smart enough?” What did the experience do to your self-confidence? How do these questions reveal our underlying heart attitudes about what we value and what we really rely upon?
Read Galatians 2:1-10. To get your bearings, it may help to reconstruct the story Paul is telling here into a timeline. (Leaders: You may also want to review Acts 15 for another telling of the events.)
What was the situation regarding circumcision for Timothy or Titus? Why was Titus’s situation unique enough to make it what Ryan called a “test case”? Was Paul a hypocrite for treating these two men differently? What was it a test case of?
What were the “spies” in verses 3 and 4 after? What did they despise about Paul’s teaching? How have you seen Christian freedom attacked by fellow Christians? What standards have you been tempted to add to the formula, “Christ + _____________”?
Paul says “God does not show favoritism”; who was? How? In light of this, explain why the Titus situation is so important to Paul?
What does the phrase “living below your privileges” mean? How can you apply it this week?
What different callings do the people in today’s text have? Did these callings have a unifying, or a divisive effect? Why?
Why does Paul find it significant to record that he and Barnabas received the right hand of fellowship? How does that add to our understanding of whether the gospel holds water?
Ryan said the test of the gospel is whether it holds the weight of your needs, hopes, fears, etc.: Does it? How so? And how does today’s text reinforce that?
Finally, reassess your initial reflection in light of this discussion.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15 - 22

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Sep 15: Dan 4-6
Sep 16: Dan 7-9
Sep 17: Dan 10-12
Sep 18: Ezra 1-3
Sep 19: Ezra 4-6; Ps 137
Sep 20: Haggai
Sep 21: Zech 1-7
Sep 22: Zech 8-14

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Enslaved by the Free Gospel

Sunday, September 11, 2011
Sermon: Enslaved by the Free Gospel
Text: Galatians 1:10-24
Pastor: Ryan Laughlin
Please read the passage above. Bear in mind it tells a before-and-after story. As you read, watch how the effect of Paul’s conversion shapes how he behaves, particularly as it changes whose approval he is seeking.
Reflect: As you imagine freedom for your life, whose interests take center stage? Whose approval is most important to you now? In your current state, whose interests and whose approval are at the center?
From what you know of Paul, whose approval would you say he was seeking before his conversion? At the time of the writing of Galatians, why do Paul’s critics say he is seeking the approval of men? Whose approval have you made a priority in your life? How does Christianity relieve this need to seek approval?
Ryan also said that the gospel frees us from seeking superiority, a position that puts us in comparison mode at all times. How does this differ from the pursuit of excellence instead?  How was Paul seeking superiority? With Christ at the center of your life, how does seeking excellence differ from seeking superiority? Think in terms of motivation and reward.
Outline what Paul does after his conversion. What do the details here suggest regarding whose glory Paul is working for?
One of the concluding remarks was that it is tyranny to make much of yourself instead of God. In your own words, what does this mean? How do you see this reflected in the text?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 8-15

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Sep 8: Ezek 38-39
Sep 9: Ezek 40-41
Sep 10: Ezek 42-43
Sep 11: Ezek 44-45
Sep 12: Ezek 46-48
Sep 13: Joel
Sep 14: Dan 1-3
Sep 15: Dan 4-6

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September 1 - 8

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Sep 1: Ezek 18-19
Sep 2: Ezek 20-21
Sep 3: Ezek 22-23
Sep 4: Ezek 24-27
Sep 5: Ezek 28-31
Sep 6: Ezek 32-34
Sep 7: Ezek 35-37
Sep 8: Ezek 38-39

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25-September 1

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   
Aug 25: Lam 1:1-3:36
Aug 26: Lam 3:37-5:22
Aug 27: Ezek 1-4
Aug 28: Ezek 5-8
Aug 29: Ezek 9-12
Aug 30: Ezek 13-15
Aug 31: Ezek 16-17
Sep 1: Ezek 18-19