I don’t know any bad dads. I know of a few who have made some bad choices. But even these want to do better. Usually by “doing better” they mean spending more time with their children, teaching them the stuff dads usually teach their children like riding a bicycle, fishing, camping, baseball, etc…
What about spiritual heritage? Is a dad responsible for passing on the faith? Look at Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
- What methods are encouraged in passing on the faith?
- The first commandment is quoted in these verses. Can you say it by heart?
- Do any of these verses make any sense if the father is not obeying verse 5?
Some things to remember about men and spiritual initiative:
- The human race fell spiritually because of ADAM’s sin not Eves. Romans 5:12
- Men (and boys) had to be circumcised to cleanse their whole family. Genesis 17:9-14.
- Men were sent to fight the Lord’s battles.
- The man is referred to as the “head of the wife” Ephesians 5:23, 24
- The husband is to wash his wife in the Word, Ephesians 5:25, 26
- Fathers are the primary guide and disciplinarian of their children, Proverbs 4:1-4 and Ephesians 6:4
Spiritual leadership of the home is vital!
Most qualified Biblical scholars would agree that the Bible encourages male leadership in the home but even this is inadequate if done in a worldly way.
- How did your father provide spiritual leadership in your home as a child? Would you change anything about his approach?
- Has the male in your home attempted to lead your family in a harsh/ demanding way? How did that work?
- What can you do to encourage godly male leadership in your home?
Share with your group the type of spiritual leadership you would like to offer your family and pray for God’s help to do that very thing.
What does it mean to believe?
There ought to be two questions on every unsaved heart:
- What does it mean to really believe in Jesus?
- How do I know that I have believed correctly?
Talk about “belief” in your group. What does it mean among your peers?
No one believes (has faith in) something unless they are truly convinced the belief is true. We are designed to believe something because we see it is good or has benefit. This requires us to make a decision about the Bible.
What is your belief about the Bible and what it says?
John 3 has awesome promises for those who believe in Jesus for salvation:
- John 3:3, 5 true believers both see and enter the kingdom of God. Have you ever met someone who claimed to believe in Jesus but didn’t have a clue about the kingdom of God?
- John 3:8 like the wind, true believers will find the Spirit taking them places they never imagined. An unusual example is Philip’s experience in Acts 8:39, 40.
- John 3:14, 15, 36 true believers receive _________ _________. This is more than the opposite of death. It is a quality of life only available through a relationship with God.
- John 3:21 true believers love the truth and grow into the light. The rebellion so prevalent in unbelievers fades into submission to God’s Word and will.
What have you learned today about true belief? How strong is your faith today?
The Gospel is clearly presented in two parts: 1. We have fallen short of God’s righteous requirements and, 2. Jesus came to save us from that dilemma by his life, death and resurrection. We tell people who have received Jesus’ gracious offer that they are now “the righteousness of God in Christ.”
All of this is true. We are washed clean, trusting Jesus and headed to heaven but it still doesn’t cause Jesus to trust us! He loves us intensely, but trust is developed over time. Read John 2:23-25.
- What signs had the people seen?
- What was the response of the people to these signs?
- Why wasn’t this belief enough for Jesus to trust them?
The Slow Growth of the Disciple
Very little in life (except getting saved) happens instantaneously. We all need time to develop into Christ-like followers of Jesus. This is why the 12 disciples needed 3.5 years with the best teacher in history! We are more like a slow growing plant than an overnight weed, Mark 4:26-29.
- Because of their close connection to Jesus, people expect a lot from disciples, Matthew 17:15, 16. Sometimes our faith just doesn’t measure up!
- Disciples are still human and make dumb mistakes, Matthew 16:23.
- For Jesus to give us even a little job to do is a sacred trust. We might botch it up and hurt the testimony of Christ, Philippians 4:2, 3.
Here’s what we can do:
- Acknowledge and celebrate signs and wonders but don’t make them a condition for believing, John 4:48.
- Remember we are human and everything we do will be flawed to some degree. Embrace that and move forward anyway. John Mark fled in fear from his missionary team but eventually became one of Paul’s closest helpers, 2 Timothy 4:11.
- Accept that our faith is growing daily. Our faith will get stronger as time passes, Romans 1:17 and Philippians 1:6.
- Stay faithful in the little tasks entrusted to us and Jesus will give us bigger things, Luke 16:10. His trust for us grows.
Humility in serving the King is the only safe attitude. This side of heaven we will do our best but occasionally fail. We grow slowly. That is just part of being human and Jesus loves us anyway.
Ice- breaker: tell the group about a recent time when you got to share your faith in Jesus.
The early disciples seemed to have one thing on their mind, Acts 1:6.
How did Jesus respond to them? Put it in your own words.
A witness (Marty’s in the Greek) is first “a spectator to anything”. We are most familiar with this use of the term from watching so many court room scenes on television! Martys (from which we get our word martyr) can also indicate someone who gave his life for the faith. We are called to be faithful witnesses to what Christ has done in our lives and, if necessary, even give our lives, Acts 22:20 for Stephen. In Revelation 1:5 Jesus is referred to as a faithful “martys” since he gave his life witnessing for the truth.
Acts 1:8 Is a final statement of mission much like Matthew 28:18-20. We have to decide if we are included in Jesus’ command or was it just for the early disciples. What do you think?
Being a witness is the beginning of the discipleship process. Ideally, our witness leads some to follow not only Jesus but us so we can impart ongoing teaching, 1 Corinthians 11:1.
Here are some things to remember:
1. Witnesses just share what has happened to them. If you had only two minutes to share a witness of your faith what outline would you follow?
2. A witness is not faithful if he or she embellishes the story. Exactly what happened to you is what the Holy Spirit will use to reach others.
3. A witness should be prepared to lead others into the same decision he or she made. Having the Romans Road to salvation memorized would get one prepared. Be bold but not overbearing when asking the contact to receive Jesus.
4. The Holy Spirit is the one who bears the fruit. Often we are just giving witness to plant a seed that will be watered and harvested in the future. 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7
5. There will always be an element of fear in witnessing for Christ because we are never sure of the response. As with any fear, we choose to overcome those anxious thoughts with faith and trust, 1 John 4:4. If we do get persecuted for our witness we are just being treated like Jesus and the prophets of old and, in this, we find great joy, Matthew 5:10-12.
Ready and Willing to Give
Discussion: Ask your group how they feel about giving. What principles guide each one in how to give?
It is my observation that those who don’t want to hear messages about giving are those who aren’t! We will deal with the proper reasons to give.
1. Obedience to the Scriptures
• The entire Old Testament is based on a sacrificial system that required you to come before God with something that cost you. 2 Samuel 24:24
• The NewTestament requires even more! Romans 12:1
• Jesus established the principle of putting the Kingdom first in Matthew 6:33. (Much like the first fruit principle of the O.T.) Surely putting the Kingdom first includes our money!
• The Apostle Paul uses the Old Testament support model (tithing) to instruct us how to support those in full time ministry 1 Corinthians 9:13 and 14.
2. A willing heart
• Describe a willing heart, ( from Hilarus meaning cheerful, joyous, prompt to do anything, 2 Corinthians 9:7. Have you given money out of compulsion?
• What is the difference between a willing heart and one that gives out of compulsion?
3. Joy of participation
• One reason for joy is finding purpose in your labor through giving to Kingdom projects, 1 Chronicles 29:9
• Another reason is reward, 2 Corinthians 9:8, 10, 11
Financial matters matter to God. He notices not only what we give but how we give it. Our giving is also measurable. Every year we get a statement of giving from the nonprofit organizations we support. Make it your goal to be astounded at tax time at what you gave with God’s help.
King Josiah Finds the Scriptures
2 Kings 22
Just about every believer gets slack in engaging the Scriptures. When we do, we lose the impact of a living and active message that is able to form us into Christ’s image. For Israel, in King Josiah’s day, losing connection with the Scriptures meant disaster.
Josiah’s Heart was always set on serving the Lord, verses 1 and 2. This is seen clearly in the following passages:
- Josiah ordered that the Temple be repaired. His concern for God’s house is in stark contrast to the kings before him, verses 3-6. Check 2 Kings 21:3-6
- Josiah reacted violently when he discovered how deeply Israel had fallen into sin, Verses 11-13. Check on some others who tore their robes: Genesis 37:29, 34, 35 and also 2 Samuel 13:18, 19. Clothing was a commodity in Biblical Times. Tearing it was a sign of great despair, mourning and repentance.
- Were all Jewish Kings affected by the discovery of God’s will this way? Hardly. See Jeremiah 36:4 and 24.
Think about it, disaster was headed toward Israel (even though no one knew it) 2 Kings 22:16 and 17. As foretold in Deuteronomy 29:22-26.
Josiah paying attention to the Scriptures at least temporarily delayed this disaster, verse 19.
We need to find the Scriptures too!
- What have you learned from this passage about paying constant attention to the Word?
- What would be the proper reaction when you find from reading the Scriptures that you have been in sin?
Sermon-Based Bible Study
I Believe in the Resurrection!
Intro: Discuss this quote from Pastor Timothy Keller:
“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”
― Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
Attacks against the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by unbelievers and Biblical responses:
- Jesus did not die on the cross but faked it or “swooned”. Mark 15:44, 45; John 19:32, 33
- Jesus died but the disciples stole the body to make it appear he rose from the dead. Two truths make this untenable:
- The disciples were in hiding, very afraid for their lives. It seems unlikely they would challenge trained soldiers for the sake of a hoax. John 20:19
- The soldiers faced death for allowing the seal on the tomb to be broken. These hardened men would have defended that seal at all costs. Matthew 27:66. (The Philippian jailer almost killed himself when he discovered the prison doors open, thinking the prisoners under his charge had escaped. He preferred suicide to the torture Roman soldiers received when they failed.)
What we believe about the Resurrection of Jesus:
- The resurrection is a literal fact. Jesus rose bodily from a horrible death and 3 days in a tomb. This is attested to by 4 historians: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
- After his resurrection Jesus appeared to enough witnesses to convince any jury, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.
- The resurrection proves God cares about every part of us: body, soul and spirit. Decay is not the final state of the believer, Psalm 16:8-11 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-54. The devil and sin are defeated through Christ. Not one ounce of our being will be ultimately destroyed.
- Both the existence of the New Testament and the church’s celebration gathering on Sunday instead of Saturday are effects of the resurrection.
- Most importantly, the resurrection of Jesus is proof that God the Father smiled on His Sons sacrifice, accepted it as ransom payment for our sin, forgave us completely and is open to a free and full relationship with us.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13, 14