Letters

We’ve talked about the letters these last couple of weeks, and we around to talk about 4 other letters tonight. The letters may seem like they don’t apply to us, but these were written to early Christians as guidance and empowerment to them in their early faith. I think these letters can still pertain to us when we look at them big picture wise, because especially in confirmation we are young in our faith as we continue to grow it.

1 Timothy 1:3-7

What would love from an impure heart, a bad conscience, or insincere faith look like?

  • Poor intentions. May be a misguided or manipulation love. Could be out of guilt or desperation to gain love or acceptance by God.

What does love from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith look like? Can you think of a time when you saw someone offer or act out of this kind of love?

  • Authentic service or love. Not looking for anything in return

We see love is greater than the law again. Why is this such a big deal?

  • Love neighbor as self or as Christ loved you.

There are things about the Bible that have been said so much, that we start to believe it though it isn’t true. Can you think of other examples?

  • This too, shall pass (Persian poetry) | cleanliness is next to godliness (the Talmud, oral Jewish law) | little drummer boy | God won’t give you more than you can handle (1 Cor. 1:13 Refers to temptation not burdens) | God help’s those who help themselves ( ancient Greek lit)

1 Timothy 4:12-15

What is Paul’s message to Timothy? (early 20’s)

  • Be an example and don’t let people down on you because you are young..

What gifts does Timothy have?

Have you ever felt this way?

  • You may not realize this but…I look young for my age. Being 27 there are many times where people think that I’m way younger than I am, but context is everything too. When people see my wedding ring or me with Henry they believe that I am older. This has been problematic in some roles that I’ve had because of how people look at me when I teach or lead classes. It’s like I’m playing dress up or a token…

Hebrews 10:19-25

What is our Christian walk supposed to look like?

  • The Christian life isn’t one that is meant to be lived alone. This even ties back into us as just humans. We all have a desire to be in a community and be accepted and safe.
  • Acts 2:40-43

James 2:14-17

Faith Changes us and transforms us. There is no way around that. What are some ways that faith has changed you? Works are a fruit of faith.

 

Many of the New Testament letters were written to encourage churches and individuals. If you were to write a letter of encouragement, to whom would you write it and what would you say?

Luke

Luke 2:41-52

This is the only story of Jesus childhood in the 4 gospels. Jesus is sitting and learning from the Rabbis. Jesus is asking questions, answering questions, and growing in his faith. It may be easy to read this and think Jesus is having an attitude with his parents, but this is far from it. Jesus was obedient to his parents when they said it was time to go. I’m sure this was quite the conversation Jesus parents lost him for 3 DAYS! 3 Days! That would be horrifying!

How would you feel if you were Jesus Parents?

What does this tell us about Jesus?

A disobedient pre-teen?

Humble Son of God?

Jesus even says “don’t you think I’d be doing my father’s business…”

What does this mean? Wasn’t his father a carpenter?

If you dad was God, the creator of the universe how would you feel? Would you have an ego?

How did Jesus use this power?

Psalm 131

What is humility?

Humility is knowing our relationship with God and where we stand.

What do you need to be humbled in?

What does it feel like to be known or understood by someone? What if they don’t understand seem to understand something that you’ve done or needed?

When I was applying for ministry jobs when I first got married, I applied a church that I did some work with when I was in high school for a youth ministry job. I had changed a lot and really come of out my shell between high school and when I was 24. That was a 6-8-year difference and time to change, grow, and mature. As I was interviewing they asked what part of ministry I was interested in; the logistical desk work or upfront interactions with students and leaders. I said that I love direct interaction with people. The interviewer was shocked…”you mean you really want to work with people, aren’t you quiet and shy.” I was more shy in high school, but when I came out of my shell and was secure in my identity this was opposite from who I was. It felt disheartening and like something I wasn’t called to since who I was, was not heard or understood. Thankfully God lead in a different direction.

Parables

Luke 8:9-10 What is a parable?

Parables are stories to illustrate and explain points, not to obscure them.

As we read parables, we can look for who the God, Jesus, and human characters are in these. This gives us a glimpse of God’s plan and love for us.

Parables can be broken down into some themes:

Kingdom of Haven

Luke 13:18-19 Mustard Seed

Mustard seed is the smallest seed, yet it grows into something that is huge. And it provides shelter. What does this mean for us? God’s kingdom keeps growing to make room for all of us!

Redemption

Luke 15:8-10 Lost Coin

Pharisees would not value a woman’s morals, though would care for the poor. They come from an educated class that would have much more than 10 coins. A coin was about 10 days wages.

The angels in heaven took great interest in God’s work, so they would be rejoicing for someone coming to faith or back to God. Searching for what was missing and then celebrating what was found with a feast by inviting neighbors. It’s so reassuring to know that God will seek us out and rejoice when we turn to Him, not matter what we’ve done.

Love and Forgiveness

Luke 10:30-37 Good Samaritan

Samaria was not a good place to be, people would not look fondly at having to travel through.

Two who were very well to do passed an injured person in an area where they would most need help.

The lowest of the lows (a Samaritan) stops and helps this person and sacrifices for their care.

Prayer

Luke 18:1-8 Unjust Judge

Widow is ultimate example of the oppressed

If the unjust judge who cared not for widows can give justice, how much more can a just judge of all the earth give?

Look what prayer can do and how God provides.

Even if the unjust judge is slow to listen God is quicker

Eschatological: what happens when we die, the final judgment of humanity

Luke 13:6-9 Barren Fig Tree

Jewish leaders believed that God would judge Israel every year to decide when he would be coming back for the final judgement.

Fig trees did not usually need manure, so with the vineyard worker doing all he could to save the tree they wondered if Israel repented in its ways if God would come back sooner

Owner of vineyard is God, the worker is Jesus

One last chance for hearers to express repentance and receive grace

Other

Luke 8:16-18 Lamp Under a Jar/Bushel

We have the light of Christ and we should not hide it. We need to share that light with others.

 

 

 

Matthew

For the next four weeks we will be going through the four Gospels. This may seem like we are going to be talking about the same story/good news for four meetings. Yes, the Gospels all talk about Jesus, but they also have their own flavor.  The difference is where things get interesting, which what we will be talking about.

Mark was the first Gospel written, and Matthew is based very closely to Mark. Yet, Matthew is twice as long as Mark. We will talk about this a little later.

To open our night together we talked about context through telling jokes (clean). Just think if we only heard the punchline to a joke without the lead up. Things may be confusing right? Of course! Or at the very least it wouldn’t be as funny or meaningful. How does this tie into Matthew?

Matthew was written to Jewish Christians, or people who have heard about Jesus, but never met Him or knew as much about Him as others. This time for the Jewish Christians was very difficult and confusing. They no longer had control of the temple due to it being destroyed. This rattled them to the core of their beliefs. Matthew was writing to reassure the Jewish people who God was still with them and Jesus was the fulfillment of prophecy.

Think About:

What if suddenly there was no church building, no central place to gather, worship, and learn about God? What would you do if this was your reality?

When Matthew wrote the Gospel, this was the reality of the people he was writing to.  Why does this matter?! Context matters to help give us a fuller understanding of what we are reading in the Bible.

Let’s look at some fulfillment of prophecy that Matthew is sharing with the Jewish people, who are waiting for their savior to come. Matthew 1:22-23 talks about a virgin giving birth to the savior. This was the fulfillment of prophecy from Isaiah 7:14.

Questions:

What does “God with us” mean to you today?

Why is it important for Matthew to relate to the Jewish people?

Now, lets look at Matthew 5:1-12. This is a section called the Beatitudes is an introduction to the Sermon on the Mount.

Questions:

Which Beatitude would you choose to live out?

There is so much more to Matthew and the life of Jesus that you can read. Each of the Gospels will take a different look at the life of Jesus, and have different perspectives. My hope is that as we go through the Gospels we will develop a fuller view of Jesus and learn more about what we believe as Christians.