John 6.16-24 – June 4, 2020

John 6:16–24

When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
 (John 6:16–24, NIV)

So just how afraid would you be if you saw someone approaching your boat out on the lake in the midst of a storm?

Thought Questions:

Why do you think Jesus did not initially join his disciples for their trip across the lake to Capernaum?

Does just telling someone not to be afraid prevent them from being afraid? Why or why not? What needs to be a component of that person’s statement to really prevent fear in others?

Why do you think John includes this statement about the crowds going to search for Jesus? In what ways does it change our perspective of him?

John 5.1-15 – June 3, 2020

John 5:1–15

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well. 
(John 5:1–15, NIV)

“Do you want to get well?” It seems like such an obvious question, but I wonder if at times, the answer we have gets too caught up in the way we assume that answer HAS to come into being. What would it be like to trust Jesus at his word?

Thought Questions:

Why do you think Jesus asked this man if he wanted to get well? And how do you see this man’s answer illuminating the reason for Jesus’ question?

Jesus, as he is prone to do, breaks the rules of the Jewish leaders and heals on the Sabbath. Why do you think Jesus did this, even though he himself was an obedient Jew? In what ways do we have our own rules about following God that prevent us from actually following Him?

Do you think this man stopped sinning, as he was instructed? Why or why not? Have you stopped sinning?

John 13.34-35 – May 7, 2020

John 13:34–35

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34–35, NIV)

Ever wonder where Paul got the idea of the importance of love, which he writes about in 1 Corinthians 13?

Thought Questions:

Would “Love one another” be considered a new command today? Why or why not?

Jesus says that when we understand the love he has for us, it changes the way we love others. In what ways have you seen this to be the case? Is it far to say if you do not love, you do not know Jesus’ love?

Why do Christians find it so easy to use almost anything except love to identify themselves as such? How can love more in order to identify ourselves more successfully as followers of Jesus?

John 6.35-40 – April 17, 2020

John 6:35–40

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:35–40, NIV)

What is it that you value or long for? What drives your ambition or is your motivation to live the way you do? What is the bread that you seek to fill the emptiness you have?

Thought Questions:

What does Jesus say is the key to receiving the bread of life he offers?

Why is belief in Jesus more difficult at times than relying on our own strength or power to accomplish our life’s goals/desires?

In what ways do you focus and increase your belief in Jesus as you seek to have eternal life?

John 6.1-15 – April 9, 2020

John 6:1–15

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
 (John 6:1–15, NIV)

Five loaves and 2 small fish? We might call it a snack — Jesus makes it a miraculous meal.

Thought Questions:

Why do you think Jesus chose to test Philip and why do you think he used this meal to do so?

How do you think Jesus’ disciples looked at him after he had done this miraculous feeding of such a large crowd?

We know how the crowds reacted: they wanted to make him their king. Why do we so often focus on the things we get or having our physical desires fulfilled before we are willing to look to Jesus as our redeemer and spiritual savior?

John 17.3 – March 21, 2020

John 17:3

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent (John 17:3, NIV)

In a world that seeks to live forever, it is nice to know how to find eternal life.

Thought Questions:

What are ways our world tries to live forever, or at least extend their life? How much time do you think people spend thinking about “life ever-after?”

How do we know God?

What does it say about God that he sent his son to us, versus hiding somewhere we we would have to try to find him?

John 16.33 – March 2, 2020

John 16.33

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33, NIV)

No one likes trouble in their life, but doesn’t it make it easier to know that the troubles we face have all been overcome?

Thought Questions:

Would you say your life is one of strife or peace? Why do you think this?

How comforting is it to know that “in this world, you will have trouble”? How comforting is it know that Jesus has overcome that trouble?

How does (or should) your life look more peaceful knowing these words of Jesus?

John 1.1-18 – February 20, 2020

John 1.1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and  is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
 (John 1:1–18, NIV)

God loves us so much, he had his son come down from heaven and moved into our neighborhood, where he built a house and lived with us to show us God, our Father.

Thought Questions:

We know about Jesus as a human who lived on earth, but how does his divinity affect how you view him and what he accomplished by coming to earth?

In what ways does Jesus’ humanity–his coming to live on earth–cause you to appreciate him all that much more? How do you think you would think of Jesus had he NOT come to earth?

How would you respond to people who say we have never seen God?

Restoration – June 2, 2019

2 Samuel 19.11-20.13; John 21.1-15; Psalm 120.1-7; Proverbs 16.16-17

Most people who study John 21 recognize the three-fold restoration of Peter after his (three time) denial of Jesus. Read through this chapter again and as you do, list the various emotions and reactions you think Peter may have been having as he encountered Jesus that day? What does this story tell us about God’s love for us even when we have messed up?

Questions:

David seems quick to spare the lives of individuals who have attacked or confronted him, even when his advisors seem to think he should do otherwise. How can we take on the attitude David had toward those who were against him?

What do you think you would have been doing if you were one of Jesus’ disciples and he was killed, raised again, and went back up into heaven? What’s next for you?

Have you ever felt far from God, perhaps even felt like you were in a different county you were so far away from him? How did you keep hope in God through these dark times?

What examples can you give from your own life that demonstrate the ways you have valued wisdom more than silver and gold?

Conflicted – June 1, 2019

2 Samuel 18.1-19.10; John 20.1-31; Psalm 119.153-176; Proverbs 16.14-15

We know from what scripture says about David that he was a man after God’s own heart. We also know he was a man of integrity, honoring God even when it seemed to not make sense. We also know David was not without his faults and his family suffered the consequences of David’s sinful actions. And in the story today, we discover his deep love for his son, in spite of his sons actions towards him. How difficult would it have been to be David and love deeply, yet also know his love was aimed toward someone seeking to take his own life? What would you have done were you in David’s shoes?

Questions:

An unnamed man had more honor for David’s kingship and his son than some of the heros of David’s life. Why do you think this man who refused to kill God’s son is never mentioned by name? Why should he have received a greater honor than he did?

Why does seeing make believing so much easier? How do we believe when most of the time, we cannot see that in which we believe?

How does following laws and regulations revive someone, rather than causing them to be under a burden? Is this how you view God’s regulations?

What might cause a king to become angry and a deadly threat?