Tag Archives: Spiritual Formation

5 LESSONS TO HELP YOU GROW IN YOUR FAITH

Learning To Ride A Bike

I remember as a young boy trying to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels. Many of the kids that lived in our neighborhood were older than I was and had already made the transition, and I didn’t want to feel like a little kid anymore.

I remember the frustration that I experienced when that bike would fall over. It seemed that I was never going to get it to stay up right so that I could ride more than a few feet. Then one day, just like magic, it happened.

I hopped on a boy’s bike that was older than I.  His bike was taller than mine. When I climbed on, my feet could not touch the ground. To get started, I put my left foot on the pedal and pushed with my right foot, sort of like starting out on a skate board. When the bike began to roll, I hopped up and put my right foot on the pedal and began pumping my legs.

I don’t know how it happened, but away I went.

A Parable Of Jesus

Jesus said something similar one day when he was teaching.

26 And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. 28 The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. 29 But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

– Mark 4:26-29  New American Standard Bible

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BUILDING ON THE RIGHT FOUNDATION

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

Matthew 7:24-27

Jesus contrasts two types of people. Those that hear Him and listen, and those that hear him and do not listen. One is wise, the other is a fool.

Jesus wants us to understand that obeying Him is a better foundation than disregarding what He says. From His point of view there is a greater stability to life if we live to His standards and within His boundaries. He uses the visual imagery of a building foundation to help us see this truth. Continue reading

BIBLE STUDY | MAKING YOUR FINAL OBSERVATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS

This concludes our brief journey through Mark 12:13-17.  We hope that you have benefited from what we have shared.  At this point each of you should be able to draw some conclusions about the text.  These conclusions should now be able to shape your journey of faith.

Below are the major takeaways that our group came up with.

Final Observations And Conclusions

  1. When reading through the entire book of Mark and the other gospel accounts, we find that the Pharisees confronted Jesus on several occasions.  The method of operation was to confront Him publicly with a trick question in hopes that He would disparage His reputation with either the Jewish people or the Roman government.  But Jesus always proved too crafty for such foolish deceptions.  He always answered is such a way that reframed the question and directed His audience to greater spiritual truths.
  2. The Pharisees and Herodians did not have much common ground.  In spite of this, they managed to come together and find unity around ensnaring Jesus.  Jesus was upsetting the balance of power for both of these groups and they preferred things stay the same.  The easiest way to maintain the status quo was to eliminate Jesus from the equation.
  3. The Pharisees were correct in their assessment that Jesus did not show partiality.  This seems to be one of the reasons they plotted against Him.  It was their partiality in society that they valued.  They were treated differently because of their position as religious leaders.  Jesus challenged their character and motives just as He would anyone else, even going so far as calling them hypocrites and vipers for the way they dishonored God’s truth.
  4. The Pharisees were amazed that Jesus did not entangle Himself in their carefully constructed web of deceit.  This would eventually lead to frustration and desperation, as they would abandon trying to trap Jesus in public and resort to seizing Him in secret.
  5. No matter our motives, Jesus is always pointing us towards a right understanding of God and a right relationship with God.
  6. The heart of what Jesus was communicating dealt with ownership.  Whether we accept or reject Jesus, we are all created in the image of God, and God wants us to willing give ourselves to Him.  First to be reconciled and then to live in obedience.  To do so, expresses an attitude of love towards our Heavenly Father and it keeps us from the consequences of sin.

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BIBLE STUDY | COMPILING YOUR RESEARCH

Below is the text that we have been working with over the past few weeks.

13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16 They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.

– Mark 12:13-17

Early on we discussed the importance of learning to ask questions in these two posts:  Part 1 & Part 2.  Then we talked about evaluating key words and phrases.  If you completed both of those exercises your work should look similar to what is below.

As we said in the beginning, not every question you answer will directly contribute to drawing conclusions about this passage of Scripture, but can and will lead to a deeper understanding of other Scriptures.  Your effort in study will not be wasted.

Work through the questions below.  Does this look similar to your work?  Are the answers in line with yours?

Look at your key words and phrases.  How do they inform the passage?  How do they add clarity or provoke questions?  Continue reading

BIBLE STUDY | LEARNING TO ASK QUESTIONS: PART 2

If all went well, you have between 15-20 questions that you have put together for Mark 12:13-17.  Below is the passage and a list of questions compiled by a group of students I recently helped walk through this exercise.

13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16 They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they [d]were amazed at Him.

Mark 12:13-17  (NASB)

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