Just How Bad Could It Hurt?

20170604 - 1HBSJust as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles or slaves or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
(1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

Today’s passages:
Psalm 33:12-22
Ezekiel 11:17-20
1 Corinthians 12:4-13
John 20:19-23

I do not know where I heard it or even if there is someone who can be identified as the author, but I heard someone once say: “Anyone who thinks there are inconsequential parts of the body has never stubbed their little toe.”

Think about it, is there anything that hurts worse, especially given the size of the offending object? You are walking through the house after everyone has gone to bed and you discover that the dresser sticks out from the wall more than you thought it did. Since it is late at night, you do not want to wake anyone up, yet between the noise of slamming your foot into the dresser and your muffled screams as you fall to the floor in agony (and perhaps your spouses laughing at the dramatics), everyone within three city blocks are probably awake at this point.

The next morning it still hurts and you try to walk without a noticeable limp, because it is your little toe, after all, but that little toe hurts beyond belief. NFL players sit out of professional football games due to “turf toe,” so the pain must be bad, right?

It is easy for us to forget the importance of the little things in our life. We spend so much time and energy trying to make a (big) name for ourselves and accomplish (great) things, the small joys we can find in simple things escape us.

This is true in church, too. We come to worship or Bible class and resign ourselves to sitting quietly in the pew because we know we are “not as important” as the preacher or the teacher. If we were asked to speak, we would just stumble around and be too embarrassed to say anything important or say it in a way that made a difference to someone else. We do not have the right gifts, or at least it seems at times certain gifts are important for a body of believers and other gifts, well, they are of the little toe variety.

Read carefully the words Paul pens to the Corinth church. Even if you have already read them, go ahead and read them again, start to finish. Now, in just a couple of words summarize what Paul stresses as important.

I don’t know what your words were, but as I read through this passage, I keep zeroing in on the idea of oneness or sameness. How many times does Paul use the word “same?” The emphasis Paul seems to be making here is even more than the little things (or gifts in this context) are important. All of our unique gifts and abilities—“big” or “small”—all come together in the sameness of God’s Spirit. It is the Spirit of God that takes the differences we all inevitably have and melds them together for the common good of one another. Your gift, my gift, his gift, her gift, all of them.

Next time you gather with your church family, look around the room. Look for who looks different, talks different, acts different, and maybe even believes some different things than you do. As you take inventory of everyone else, say a prayer of praise that God has called them—and you—together as his family, as his body.

 

Questions:

•“No king is saved by the size of his army.” How well do you think the people you know receive this passage from Psalms? What about the people who are our governing authorities? What is the point the psalmist is trying to make to us in this psalm? How can we better understand the power of God in comparison to our own power and might?

•In what ways do you feel you have an undivided heart? What are the things that divide you? Søren Kierkekgaard famously stated: “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” Similar to the undivided heart of Ezekiel 11, how do we will one thing? How does God help us be pure of heart?

•When you read through Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians, what role does the Spirit play within the body of Christ? Specifically, what does Paul say about the sameness of the Spirit in connection to the uniqueness each one of us have? How can you live today more in the understanding of the unifying actions of the Spirit?

•Jesus tells his disciples in John 20 that he is sending them out in the same way he was sent out. On what way was Jesus sent and how does this impact how you live a life of faith today? What did you do today that was the result of you being sent? What can you do as a result of that “sentness?”

Week of June 4 — Text List

The 1 Home Bible Study texts for the week of June 4 are as follows:

Psalm 33:12-22
Ezekiel 11:17-20
1 Corinthians 12:4-13
John 20:19-23

Daily Bible Reading Texts are:

June 5 – Psalm 44; Deuteronomy 11:13-19; 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2; Luke 17:1-10

June 6 – Psalm 48; Deuteronomy 12:1-12; 2 Corinthians 6:3-7:1; Luke 17:11-19

June 7 – Psalm 53; Deuteronomy 13:1-11; 2 Corinthians 7:2-16; Luke 17:20-37

June 8 – Psalm 8, 84; Deuteronomy 16:18-20, 17:14-20; 2 Cor. 8:1-16; Luke 18:1-8

June 9 – Psalm 54; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; 2 Corinthians 8:16-24; Luke 18:9-14

June 10 – Psalm 55; Deuteronomy 29:2-15; 2 Corinthians 9:1-15; Luke 18:15-30

 

Be Compassionate and Humble

20170521 - 1HBSWho is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?
(1 Peter 3.13)

Today’s passages:
Psalm 148
Isaiah 41.17-20
1 Peter 3.8-18
John 15.1-8

If you live long enough, you will probably make someone mad at you. (I know, for some of us, it didn’t take that long, did it?) You don’t mean to, it’s just that the tosses and turns of life at times rub people the wrong way and you end up on the wrong end of their ire.

My grandfather lived well beyond his 90th year and to my knowledge, he never had anyone who disliked him. (Obviously I am both biased and somewhat sheltered from all of the negatives, but when we rehearse family stories, a conflict with someone else is never a part of those stories.) You couldn’t. He was calm, kind, gentle, and always sought the best in others. He was so busy doing good, he really didn’t have time to rile people up and if he did, he was so busy doing good you wouldn’t have wanted to stop what he was doing.

I am sure I get more joy of thinking about my grandfather than you do, since you did not know him, so let me make this a little more personal for you. When you read Peter’s words: “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble,” who comes to mind?

And as you continue to read, who is a person who would never repay evil with evil?

Let me make this even more personal still: Are you a person of whom someone would say they always repay evil with a blessing, never an insult? That is easy to long for, yet I find it incredibly hard to do. We seem to be conditioned at an early age to hit back as soon as someone hits you first. (Ever hung out in an elementary or middle school cafeteria and listened to the banter?) If someone talks bad about you – true or not – we seem to understand it as a license to return the favor.

We could discuss all day long why we do this. It may be an act of protection, avoiding getting our feelings completely destroyed by someone else. It may be an act of aggression, trying to one up someone else so that every knows who’s “boss.” It may be that we are just mean.

Whatever the case, Peter says it’s wrong. Rather than try to fight back, we should be eager to do good. Who’s going to come after you if you are spending your time doing good for others? (Want to bring a “cut-down” session to a screeching halt? Agree with the insult and then say something nice. It’s not nearly as fun to argue with someone who agrees with you!)

Peter goes on to say: don’t be wishy washy or back down from answering people about why you have hope in the Lord, but when you answer them, do so with gentleness and respect. It is a rare but valuable commodity to be able to disagree with someone but do it in such a way that they feel loved and cared for in spite of their dissenting view. If we could figure out how to do this more, the world would be a better place.

 

Questions:

•When the psalmist calls on us to praise the Lord, he does so because we understand the Lord as the one who made us. Why does knowing that the world came from God change our perspective about how we view him? If God made the world and everything in it, why would we not want to praise (i.e.: give him the honor he deserves) him?

•In what ways has God given you water and caused rivers to flow when you need it most, when you were “on barren heights?”

•Most of us try to avoid suffering at all costs because we assume if we are suffering, we must be doing something wrong. Peter argues that if we suffer, we are simply following in the example that Jesus gave us. How do you feel about suffering and how it relates to living a life a faith in Jesus Christ?

•What does it mean to “remain in Jesus” and allow yourself to continue to be connected to the vine? What are some specific ways you can be connected to him today, tomorrow, and this week?

Week of May 21 — Text List

The 1 Home Bible Study texts for the week of April 9 are as follows:

Psalm 148
Isaiah 41:17-20
1 Peter 3:8-18
John 15:1-8

Daily Bible Reading Texts are:

May 22 – Psalm 80; Deuteronomy 8:1-10; James 1:1-15; Luke 9:18-27

May 23 – Psalm 78:1-39; Deuteronomy 8:11-20; James 1:16-27; Luke 11:1-13

May 24 – Psalm 119.97-120; James 5:13-18; Luke 12:22-31

May 25 – Psalm 24, 96; Ezekiel 1:1-28; Hebrews 2:5-18; Matthew 28:16-20

May 26 – Psalm 85, 86; Ezekiel 1:28-3:3; Hebrews 4:14-5:6; Luke 9:28-36

May 27 – Psalm 87, 90; Ezekiel 3:4-17; Hebrews 5:7-14; Luke 9:37-50

You Alone are the Lord

20170507 - 1HBS1You alone are the Lord.
(Nehemiah 9.6)

Today’s passages:
Psalm 23
Nehemiah 9.6-15
1 Peter 2.19-25
John 10.1-10

This week’s study is going to be a lesson in doing.

Sometimes we spend time in a lesson like this trying to squeeze out the truths of the passage, hoping for something we can readily use to help of live for God better. Other times we discover a passage like Nehemiah 9, which we almost have to ignore it to NOT see the ways this passage calls us to action.

Nehemiah 9.6-15 is interesting, because it is a praise of God right in the middle of a chapter containing a confession of sins to God. That seems almost contradictory. I think of times when I had to confess a wrong to my parents. I can never remember a single time I came into their presence shouting their praises. No, I spent more of my time timidly approaching them not saying anything for fear of some sort of wrath.

We learn some valuable insight about God in this passage. Whatever confession of our own wrongdoing we need to make is overshadowed by the greatness of God. (This is actually true whether we have a confession to make or not.)

So the Israelites confession goes something like this: God, you are great and you have done incredible things all throughout our life with you and God, we are sorry, but we forgot those things and thought we were great. We did our own thing, thinking it was somehow more important than what you called us to be or at the very least, we thought it would work out better for us. It didn’t and we repent.

So what if we reversed this pattern. What if, instead of forgetting about the greatness of God until after we had done our own thing, we spent all of our time reciting the great things God has done so that there would be no need to try to come up with a plan on our own? God’s plan and his goodness would be so ingrained in our daily lives that we had no room for anything else but him.

What if we spent a week trying to do that?

 

Exercises:

•Spend time everyday reading through Psalm 23. Remind yourself often that the Lord is your shepherd.

•Make a praise list for this week. Keep this list with you at all times and write down the things you see God doing in your life and in the lives of people you love. At the end of each day, spend time in prayer thanking him for what he has done that day.

•We often assume that because we follow God, everything in our life will be wonderful and if we find ourselves suffering, we must be doing something wrong. 1 Peter reminds us this is not the case. If you find yourself suffering this week, thank God for the opportunity to follow Christ’s example.

•As you go through these exercises, you may discover you are in conflict with how you want to live your life. Remember that Jesus is the good shepherd that his sheep follow him because they know his voice. Who’s voice are you listening to?

Week of May 7 — Text List

The 1 Home Bible Study texts for the week of April 9 are as follows:

Psalm 23
Nehemiah 9:6-15
1 Peter 2:19-25
John 10:1-10

Daily Bible Reading Texts are:

May 8 – Psalm 41, 52; Colossians 1:1-14; Luke 6:1-11
May 9 – Psalm 45; Colossians 1:15-23; Luke 6:12-26
May 10 – Psalm 119:49-72; Colossians 1:24-2:7; Luke 6:27-38
May 11 – Psalm 50; Colossians 2:8-23; Luke 6:39-49
May 12 – Psalm 51; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 7:1-17
May 13 – Psalm 138; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 7:18-35

Why Have You Forsaken Me?

2017.04.09 - 1HBSMy God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me?
(Psalm 22.1)

Today’s passages:
Psalm 22.1-22
Isaiah 45.21-25
Philippians 2.5-11
Matthew 26.36-75

I wonder how many times Jesus asked himself the following question in the week leading up to his crucifixion: Why am I having to go through this?

Sometimes I think we have this assumption that Jesus spent his life going through the motions as if reading from a script.

“Let’s see… Today I am to go down to Galilee and heal some people when I get there. Oh yes, then tomorrow it looks like the schedule says I need to teach some people.”

I think taking such a view removes some of the significance that Jesus was divine, yet he was also fully human. I cannot explain how that happens, but I believe the humanity of Jesus caused him to not only be tempted in every way like we are (Hebrews 4.15) but to also have some control over the ways he lived his life. If this is true—and I think the gospels demonstrate that it is—then Jesus’ last week must have been one that was full of anxious anticipation. He knew what was to come and quite frankly, I am not sure he was excited about the consequences at hand.

If you know the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, you know that one of the seven last words he spoke was a quotation of Psalm 22.1, as seen above. He did not quote the entire psalm, just the first half of the first verse: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

One can take this in a couple of different ways. The first would be to assume the abandonment by God in the precise moment that Jesus died. There are all kinds of theological arguments made for such a view, each trying to point out that Jesus suffered while going through death for our salvation.

The second thought about this quote of Jesus is that when one would quote a portion of a psalm, that entire psalm would come into the minds of those who heard the quotation. If this is the case, then we cannot simply stop at the idea of abandonment, but must also include the psalmist’s words that God is “enthroned as the Holy One” (v. 3) and that the writer would “declare [God’s] name to [his] people.” (v. 22) This second view probably gets closer to what Jesus was expressing with his quote on the cross. This idea is further enhanced when we look at the Philippian passage from today’s reading.

Many of us are familiar with these verses, which many scholars believe was originally a song that Paul used within his letter. The gist of the song goes like this: Jesus was God (we read this truth expressed all throughout Scripture) yet, he did not hold on to his “godness.” Instead, he gave it up (literally: emptied himself) so that he could be a sacrifice for us. This was an act of obedience, by the way. We might assume that if we knew we were to be glorified after the fact (see verses 9-11), then it would be easy to give up the life we currently have for the moment. I believe—whatever Jesus knew about what was to come—he was willing to give up his life, even if there was no guarantee for something in the future.

Which brings us full circle to my original question. How many times have you asked yourself: Why do I have to go through this? It is easy for us to assume that our lives, once we have committed to following Jesus, suddenly become heavy with the responsibilities of being good and not sinning and the like. We can also swing to the other side of the pendulum and assume that because we follow Christ, our lives will be nothing but joy and pleasantries. If something goes wrong, we think that God must have abandoned us. Both ways of thinking are filled with the dangers of overgeneralization, as well as the possibilities of missing God at work.

Perhaps a better question to ask, then, is: How can I remain obedient to God regardless of the circumstances that present themselves to me throughout my day?

 

Questions:

•Would you say you spend your time more in the first part of Psalm 22 (the one lamenting God’s forsaking you) or the latter part (where you rejoice in the assembly, praising God)? Why is this the case? In what ways have you been able to find a balance between these two extremes?

•How do Isaiah’s words that deliverance comes “in the Lord alone” provide comfort for you? In what ways have you tried to find deliverance in other things besides God? How has God shown himself as the only one who provides you deliverance and strength?

•How have you been able to take on the same mindset as Christ in your relationships with one another?

•As you read through our reading from Matthew, what stands out to you, even if you have read these verses many times before? How do you see Christ’s humility displayed in these verses?

•How do you remain obedient to God regardless of the circumstances that present themselves to you throughout the day?