Monday, July 25, 2011

Urban Legends 04: Sin Legends Follow Up

Urban Legends About Sin:

Spiritual Maturity isn’t how much we know, but how much we obey.

1. I’m not a bad person. (I’m not that bad of a sinner.)
Unless we see ourselves as sinners, we won’t see our need for a saviour.

2. All sin is the same. 
Our obedience or disobedience influences: 
  • Rewards in heaven. 
  • Punishment in hell. 
  • Consequences on earth.

  • 3. I’ve already sinned, I might as well continue.

  • •The most miserable people in the world are not non-Christians, but Christians living in sin.
    • What are some “little sins” that we often minimize or excuse? 
    • Name some sins have that become culturally acceptable.

    1. 1. Which of the above spiritual myths have you believed about sin? Most of us have been educated way beyond our level of obedience. What truth do you know that you are not obeying?
    2. 2. We often accuse others of sin while excusing our own. What sins have you been excusing in your life? What sins are you quick to judge in others? How do our sins affect others in the Body of Christ? How is our witness to the world tarnished by our sins?
    3. 3. Think of some so-called “little” sins that we often minimize. How are these sins destructive to our lives and relationships? How do these “little” sins grieve God? Sin is progressive. How can “little” sins grow to overtake our lives?
    4. 4. When you accepted Christ into your life, did you see yourself as a good person or a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness? Why do we need to be aware of our sins? Besides forgiveness of our sins, what else did we receive when we trusted in Christ? How would believing that our old self died with Christ and that we are now a righteous, new creation (on the inside) free us to resist sin?
    1. For what sins do you need to repent? Agree with God about your sins and thank Him for His forgiveness. Ask God to give you a godly sorrow and a holy hatred of sin. Depend on the Holy Spirit to empower you to say “no” to the thoughts that tempt you to sin.

    2. Put into practice James 5:16. Guard against judging others by their particular struggle with sin and never share with others what is shared, confidentially.
    1. Read Romans 6:1-7, 11-14. 17-18.
    • Why does a forgiven, justified person desire not to sin? (6:2) What died with Christ and how does this change our relationship to sin? (6:7) What does it mean to be dead to sin? How are we now alive to God?
    • Why is the believer no longer enslaved to sin? Do you believe that you are dead to sin or do you still see yourself as a sinner (incapable of not sinning)? How can we keep from being enslaved to sin? (6:16)

  • 2. Read Ephesians 4:17-31.

    • In what way did Paul instruct the Ephesian believers to live differently than the Gentiles (non-believers)? Why do people without Christ sin? (18-19) How can believers live lives free of sin? Why is this so important?
    • As followers of Christ, what are we to “put off”? What are we to “put on”? How does Paul describe the new self? (22-24)
    • How can we be angry and yet, not sin? How does sin give the enemy an opportunity to harass us? (26-27)
    • Of the sins mentioned in verses 28-31, which do you struggle with? How do these sins affect your relationships and the cause of Christ? What Christ-like behaviour do you need to put on?
    3. Read Ephesians 5:8-21.
    • What does it mean to be a child of light? What are some differences between the life you once lived in darkness and your current life (in light)?
    • How do we expose the deeds of darkness in our life? What does this accomplish?
    • How do you know when your life is being controlled by (filled with) the Holy Spirit? What areas of your life are not under the control of the Holy Spirit?
    • If you were to make one phrase from this passage your focus for the rest of the year, what would it be?
    1 John 1:8-9; Isa. 64:6; 1 Tim. 3:1-10; Titus 1:5-9; John 16:7-8;19:11; Matt. 11:20-22; Luke 20:46-47; 1 Cor. 5:18-20; Rom. 3:11,23; 6:1-2, 6, 11. Rev. 3:19


    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Urban Legends 03: More Than You Can Handle

    The gift of too much teaches you to: 
    1. Put something down 
    2. Hand something off 
    3. Give something to God.


    Contrary to popular opinion, God wants us weak not strong. How does the world’s perspective of strength and weakness differ from God’s?

    1. Why is this spiritual myth so dangerous? Believing the myth, “God won’t give you more than you can handle” can lead us to what wrong conclusions? Share a personal example of how believing this myth has affected your life. How does this belief lead us to attempt to handle things by ourselves, rather than depend on Christ or share the load with others?

    2. In what area of your life do you feel God is giving you more than you can handle? Where in your life do you need to say “or” instead of “and”? To what request and to whom do you have the most difficulty saying “no”? What boundaries do you need to set in these relationships?

    3. Is God asking you to: 1) put something down 2) hand something off 3) give something to Him or 4) do something else? If you need to hand something off, who could share this burden with you? (see Numbers 11:17)

    4. When have you felt overwhelmed by life? Did this feeling lead you to 1) try harder 2) give up or 3) depend on God and/or others? Why is it beneficial to share our burdens with other believers? Why do you find it difficult to ask for help? Share a time when you handed something off to others. What was the result? What are you holding onto that needs to be given to God?

    5. In what ways were you taught that you need to be strong (in yourself)?
    Why are we afraid to disclose our weaknesses to others? What perceived weakness in yourself do you find difficult to accept? How is God using this to bring about brokenness and dependence on Him? How can you allow the Lord’s power to be perfected (accomplish it’s goal) through your weakness?

    1. Ask God to show you the specific things He wants you to put down. Practice
    thinking “ I can do ______ or _____” instead of “I can do _____ and ______.”

    2. Ask God to show you the areas in your life where you are relying on your own strength instead of His. Acknowledge this to God and surrender control of these areas to Him.

    3. Make a list of the weaknesses that make your life difficult. Each time you are reminded of one of these weaknesses, thank God for His grace and trust Christ to empower you in this area. Memorize Philippians 4:13.

    4. Spend some time this week giving your burdens to God. Ask Him to reveal His purpose for them in your life. Apply Psalm 55:22 and 1 Thess. 5:18.

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-14.
    Why did Paul refer to Israel’s history and what can we learn from it? (10:6,11) 

    Name some examples from Israel’s history when God allowed them to experience more than they could handle. 

    How did they respond and how does their response serve as an example for us today?

    What warning did Paul give the Corinthians? Why? (10:12) 

    What causes us to fall into sin? 

    What should we recall when we are tempted to yield to sin? How does God make a way of escape when we are tempted?

    How does the context for God’s promise in 10:13 shed light on it’s meaning? 

    How is this different the myth, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Put verse 13 into your own words and commit it to memory.

    2. Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
    Who was responsible for giving Paul a “thorn in the flesh”? 

    If Paul had not had this “thorn” how might his spiritual life have been affected? (12:7) 

    What did Paul ask God to do? 

    What did God reveal to Paul? 

    What is your “thorn in the flesh”? 

    What purpose does it serve? 

    How can trusting in God’s grace and power make a difference in this area?

    Why does God choose to heal some people of their weakness or disability and not others? 

    How should you respond if God chooses not to remove your “thorn in the flesh”? 

    How can you be content with your weaknesses?

    How does God remind us to rely on Him and not ourselves? 

    Why should we boast about our weaknesses? 

    How can you “boast in” the Lord when you feel overwhelmed or inadequate? 

    When confessing your weaknesses, be sure to boast in the Lord at the same time. Example: “I feel inadequate and overwhelmed when ________ but Christ is the strength of my life.”

    VERSES FOR FURTHER STUDY: Numbers 11:13-17; Exodus 18:17-23; 2 Cor.1:8-11, 3:4-6, 4:7-11; Psalm 55:22


    Sunday, July 17, 2011


    Giving isn't about the volume, it's about your heart. Jesus once commended a faithful woman who gave what was considered very little. But Jesus recognized it as being much.

    Luke 21:4 (New Living Translation)

    4 "For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has."

    God doesn't want us to give as a duty. We ought to give as we can.

    2 Corinthians 8:12 (NLT)

    12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don't have.

    Ultimately, giving benefits not just others, but us as well.

    Proverbs 11:25 (NLT)

    25 The generous will prosper;
    those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

    Life is about giving--not as a duty, but as a joy. And that joy overflows into all aspects of our lives.

    - g-ram

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Urban Legends 02: God Wants You To Be Happy

    God doesn’t want you happy . . . 
    1) When it causes you to sin. 
    2) When it is driven by circumstances.
    In the pursuit of happiness, the prodigal son became miserable.
    3) God wants you blessed
    If you pursue happiness, you’ll miss God. 
    If you pursue God, you’ll find blessings.

    Blessed: Spiritually prosperous— experiencing life-joy and satisfaction through God’s indwelling presence and matchless grace.

    How are most people trying to find happiness? 
    Name some pursuits (sins) that can create temporary “happiness”, but lead to 
    permanent sorrow.

    1. Talk about a time when you did the wrong thing because you thought it would make you happy. Complete the following sentence with the first thing that comes to mind: “I would be happier if only . . .” or “I could never be happy if . . .” 
    What do your answers reveal about your goals in life? 
    How can pursuing happiness lead to misery? 
    What is the difference between happiness and joy? 
    Are you seeking happiness in externals or a blessed life through your relationship with Christ?

    2. How do people attempt to use God for their own gain or profit? (Example: “If I do ___ for God, He will give me what I want.”) 
    What is wrong with basing your contentment or happiness on externals? 
    What does it mean to be “holy”? To be “blessed”? 
    How does being holy lead to a blessed life?

    3. How has the pursuit of happiness caused you to miss God? 
    How did it lead to sin? 
    In what ways are we blessed when we pursue God? (see Psalm 16:11 and John 15:11) 
    Why should the awareness of Christ’s presence in us and His promises to us bring us inner joy? 
    What has Jesus spoken to you that gave you great joy?

    4. Describe a time when your circumstances did not make you happy, but you still experienced God’s blessings. 
    How did God bless you, in spite of your less than optimum situation?
    The apostle Paul experienced many hardships as he followed Christ. What was the goal or focus of his life (see Phil. 3:8-10, 14)? 
    How would pursuing this goal lead to experiencing a blessed life?

    1. Have you believed the spiritual myth that God wants you happy? 
    Is there 
    anything you are doing today, against God’s will, in the pursuit of happiness? 

    If so, what attitudes or goals do you need to change in order to pursue God and experience a blessed life?

    2. It is easy to get distracted by worldly pursuits. 
    How will you stay focused on seeking God’s interests instead of chasing after happiness? How will you demonstrate, to others, God’s perspective of a blessed life?

    3. What worldly ideas do you need to reject? 
    What promises do you need to believe to experience the blessings that yours in Christ? How will you find your joy in God this week? (see Psalm 16:8-11, 37:4; Phil. 4:4)

    1. Read 1 Timothy 6:6-11 and Philippians 4:11-13.
    What brings us great gain? 
    What does it mean to be content? 
    With what are we to be content? 
    Why do some think that godliness is a means to financial gain?

    What about your life is making it difficult for you to be content? 
    What would it take for you to be content in your circumstances?

    How can you guard against placing too much stock in your personal possessions or circumstances?

    In what types of situations had Paul learned to be content? 
    Why was Paul able to handle any kind of circumstance? 
    What is the relationship between contentment and a blessed life?

    2. Read Matthew 5:3-10 (Amplified version).
    Who did Jesus say would experience a blessed life? 
    What does it mean to be blessed?
    What does it mean to be poor in spirit? How are those who mourn blessed? What will those who hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness receive? What
    does it mean to be filled? How are we blessed by having a pure heart? Why would seeing God result in
    blessing and joy?
    What is the reward for those who are merciful and peacemakers?
     Which of these kingdom attitudes needs to be developed more fully in your life? 
    What will that look like?

    2 Tim. 4:3-4; 1 Peter 1:15; 3:8-12; Prov.16:25; Eccl. 5:18-20; 2 Cor. 7:9-14; Psalm 16:5-11; 37:4-7; 112:1; Matt. 6:33; John 10:10,15:9-11; Rom. 14:17, 15:13; Eph.1:3-4; 1 Thess. 5:16-18


    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Enjoy the Good!

    Seen anything good lately? We're bringing the good right to you!

    Psalm 24:1 (New Living Translation)

    1 The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it.
    The world and all its people belong to him.

    From Genesis 1 (NLT)

    4 And God saw that the light was good....

    10 And God saw that it was good....

    12 And God saw that it was good....

    18 And God saw that it was good....

    21 And God saw that it was good....

    25 And God saw that it was good....

    31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!

    Matthew 5:16 (NLT)

    16 Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

    Look around you. God made life to be enjoyed. As the crowning point of creation, get out there. Go spread some good. And have a really good day

    - g-ram

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    Training To Excel

    You have to work hard and train to excel at something. There are those that train to run, to act, to type, to draw, to bike, to swim, and to play "Angry Birds". Paul talks about working to excel:

    2 Corinthians 8:7 (New Living Translation)

    7 Since you excel in so many ways--in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us--I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.

    So excel in your giving! Think of your giving as something to be developed. Something that takes creative thought, not simply something you mark off a list.

    - g-ram