Thursday, January 25, 2024

Psalm 121 - Group Discussion Guide

Introduction

Some call Psalms 121 "The Traveller's Psalm" as it is about God's protection as we journey. The subtitle "A Song of Ascent" refers to the pilgrimage Israelites took to Jerusalem for sacrifice and worship.

Some commentators suggest pilgrims would sing this psalm in their camp the night before they reached Jerusalem as they looked at the Holy City. The following psalm (Psalm 122:1-9) takes place within Jerusalem's walls.

Other commentators suggest that weary travellers would sing this song when they saw the hills of Judah in the distance, knowing Jerusalem was within reach. “I lift my eyes toward the mountains...”

Whatever the case, it is a song of hope to sing on life's journey.


Read Psalm 121:1-8 as a group

Q. Who is the "I" in this poem? Who is the "you?" 

A. While it could have been written to encourage a friend, Psalm 121 was probably a note from the psalmist to himself. We can certainly benefit from taking it as a personal message of encouragement in our lives! Let it speak to you like a hand-written message from a beloved relative.


Read Psalm 121:1 

When are you most likely to lift your eyes "up" to the Lord? (Prayer)

This is a song of protection. In the Hebrew text, only one word is used for what our versions translate variously as “watches over,” “preserves,” and “keeps.” That word (shamar) is used six times. It is found twice in the second stanza (vv. 3–4), once in the third stanza (v. 5), and three times in stanza four (once as “keep” and twice as “watch over,” vv. 7–8). How does God "shamar" you in your times of trouble?


Read Psalm 121:2

How does naming an attribute of God help during prayer? (Focus)

Which of God's attributes do you find most effective in focusing your attention on Him? (omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, love, forgiveness, creativity, mercy, etc)


Read Psalm 121:3

When have you especially felt God's protection in your life?


Read Psalm 121:4

How does combining "God is always awake and watching" with protection and prayer redefine it in your mind? (Since love is God's primary attribute, His power, presence and knowledge are reassuring not intimidating. God's attention is a blessing - not a curse!)


Read Psalm 121:5

What does it mean to you that God is a safe place "right by your side"?


Read Psalm 121:6

Obviously, God's people experience sunburn and exposure. In a spiritual sense, what does this verse mean to you? (You will be cared for day & night!)


Read Psalm 121:7

I am reminded of the children's book: "We're going on a bear hunt." Life happens. "We can't go over it. we can't go under it. We have to go through it." What difference does it make to know God is there, going through it with you?


Read Psalm 121:8

Most accidents happen within 10 kms of home because we lose focus on the tasks of travelling. Faith life tends to be the other way around. The young in faith tend to have vibrant evangelistic fervor and elderly people have a calm reassuring stalwart faith. On the spiritual journey, the middle tends to be the hardest. 

Why is this? What makes some moments more risky for our faith than others? (We often lose our faith-focus during the busiest and most stressful moments.)

What advice would you give someone to help them regain and maintain their faith? (Eyes on the prize! Fix your eyes on Jesus!)


Conclusion

Life is a journey without God or it is a journey with God. The choice is ours to make. The same road is travelled. Birth. Life. Death. But the company and the comfort are very different. 

So what is the disciple of Jesus to expect? Eugene Peterson gives this answer on pages 40 and 41 of his book "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction."

The Christian life is not a quiet escape to a garden where we can walk and talk uninterruptedly with our Lord; nor a fantasy trip to a heavenly city where we can compare blue ribbons and gold medals with others who have made it to the winners’ circle.… The Christian life is going to God. In going to God Christians travel the same ground that everyone else walks on, breathe the same air, drink the same water, shop in the same stores, read the same newspapers, are citizens under the same governments, pay the same prices for groceries and gasoline, fear the same dangers, are subject to the same pressures, get the same distresses, are buried in the same ground.

The difference is that each step we walk, each breath we breathe, we know we are preserved by God, we know we are accompanied by God, we know we are ruled by God; and therefore no matter what doubts we endure or what accidents we experience, the Lord will preserve us from evil, he will keep our life.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Logos 10 on the Boox Note Air 3C

 Bible Study has never been so easy on the eyes! And fun!!!!  



If you've ever wondered what it's like to use Logos Bible software on an e-ink tablet, here is the answer! Here's Android 12, Logos 10 and the Boox Note Air 3C at their Bible study best!

Buy a Boox Note Air 3C on Amazon using this link and it helps me a bit! https://amzn.to/48MGiza


if you don't have logos yet, here's $100 toward your first purchase! It helps me, too! So, thanks in anticipation!

This video was shot, edited and voiced over on a Google Pixel 8 Pro using:
Google Photos "edit" feature to cut the videos to the right length
Google Photos "highlight Video" option to compile the video
And LuminaFusion for the editing and voiceover
... all on the Pixel 8 Pro!

Grab a Pixel 8 Pro from Amazon using this link and I'll get a little kickback! 

Friday, January 12, 2024

Gospel Retellings

An Interactive Activity for 2024 Bush Camp


Instructions

1. Collect a verse from the front.
2. Read your passage as a group.
3. Prepare a creative way to present the meaning of the verse. Either find a metaphor from nature or plan a meaningful way to act out the verse.
4. When asked, come forward and present/perform your creative retelling and read the verse aloud.



Gospel Verses

1. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

2. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

3. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. (Acts 10:43)

4. He gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:14)

5. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.  (1 Peter 2:24)

6. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)

7. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

8. Through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the Law of Moses. (Acts 13:38-39)

9. God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor. 5:21)

10. Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Heb. 9:28)

Friday, January 05, 2024

Jesus Journey - Mark 2:13-3:6


Jesus Journey - Part 4
Mark 2:13-3:6 “Jesus and Conflict”
With Dave Edgren
Thank you: paypal.me/davedgren


Read Mark 2:13-17
Tax Collectors & Sinners VS Scribes & Pharisees
Groups: Unholy Group VS Holy Group
Tax Collectors & Sinners (Unholy Group)
Scribes & Pharisees (Holy Group)

We know who tax collectors are. We know who sinners are. But, it’s been a long time since we had people we call “Scribes and Pharisees” walking around us. Who were they?

Pharisees were conservative laity. They were synagogue members like you and I but better. Pharisees were people with jobs like you and me. But, they studied the Bible as much as they possibly could and obeyed the Biblical laws as closely as they possibly could. They were legalists and perfectionists. So, we do have them around us. You probably know a few. They just don’t call themselves Pharisees anymore.

Scribes were interpreters of the scriptures. They read the Law and the Prophets and then reinterpreted it for the time and culture in which they lived. Jeremiah is the first place in the Bible scribes are mentioned and he didn’t like them very much at all! He wrote, “How can you claim, ‘We are wise; the law of the LORD is with us’? In fact, the lying pen of scribes has produced falsehood.” (Jer 8:8)

Sometimes the scribes came up with retellings that didn’t ring true. Sometimes their interpretations didn’t satisfy the Pharisees. In their defence, they didn’t need to believe it or put it into practice. Scribes just liked playing with new ideas based on old texts. They didn’t apply all that they wrote. They were more interested in the process of reading the text and coming up with something new. You probably know some Scribes, too!

Mark says, literally, “The scribes WHO WERE Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors…” So, these are the best of the best - scribes who were Pharisees. These legalistic scribes wanted answers so they could write Jesus’ reasoning down - and then, hidden behind their pens in private, argue. Do you know anyone like that? “Why are you eating that? And with them! Oh, I can’t wait to get back to FaceBook!”

Question: The Holy Group (scribes who were Pharisees) asks, “Why eat with them? Holy goes with Holy. You are defiling yourself by your chosen crowd. Who you socialise with declares who you are.”

Answer: Jesus answers, “A doctor ‘socialises’ with the ‘sick’ and feeds the hungry.”

A Pharisee's food needed to be washed in a certain way. So did their hands. The food needed to be clean meat, as approved by their scriptures. If it was self-grown food, the Pharisee’s food needed to be tithed properly. Untithed food was ungodly because 10 per cent hadn’t been offered to God at the temple as an act of worship. And if it was purchased food, a Pharisee's food needed to come from proper sources - not places of idolatry. Eating with non-Pharisees was risky. You could be sinning without even knowing it! Every bite could be an act of worship to a foreign deity and thus a blasphemy to Yahweh, the one true God. Therefore, it is a sin - just to eat with outsiders.

Jesus shows that living for others is a better way than living for yourself. Identity comes from internal places not external appearances. Elsewhere, He said, “What goes in the mouth does not make a man unclean, but what comes out of the mouth.” Like saying, “I can’t eat with you because you are a sinner!”

Jesus called the oppressed to come out from under the thumb of their oppressors. Mathew was working for Rome as a tax collector. Collecting the fees of oppression from the hands of his own people. He was despised by both Jews and Romans.

Jesus came to “seek and save the lost”. He loved all because God is love. Jesus became ‘one with us’ - joining the oppressed in recreation, eating and conversation. He also healed them freely.

Matthew (Levi) was not a lonely friendless reject. Look around the room. Look at the many faces at the table. Yes, Jesus and his disciples are there. They are new. But also seated at the table are ‘many tax collectors’ - Matthew’s friends and workmates. They came to eat with Matthew and his new friends.

Jesus said, “I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus calls his followers ‘sinners’! Evidently, this is no barrier for Jesus or else he would have called them ‘people called away from sin’ or ‘needy people.’ Instead, he just calls them, ‘sinners.’ Jesus is comfortable just calling us ‘sinners”. He calls us as we are. “Follow me!” He says, “As you are!”

Jesus didn’t come for seekers. He came for tweakers. Jesus came to save those lost in sin, not those lost in religion. For the religious to access what Jesus brought - no matter how righteous they believe they are - first they must realise they are lost. Lost without Jesus. Just like the rest of us!

Jesus said, “The healthy will never call for a doctor.” Even if they are dead and rotting on the inside. “Only the sick need a doctor.”

And so, Jesus stands at the door and knocks.

Song:
The Saviour is waiting to enter your heart
Why don’t you let Him come in?

The Expositors Bible Commentary says:
“It would be true to say that this word of Jesus strikes the key note of the Gospel. The new thing in Christianity is not the doctrine that God saves Sinners. No Jew would have denied that. It is the assertion that God loves and saves them as sinners.”

This does not imply the righteous do not need Jesus. Rather, like the sick call for a doctor, only those who recognise they are sinners can receive a Savior. The scribes and the Pharisees need a Savior, too. Just as pride goeth before a fall, so self-inflated righteousness is a distinctly difficult place from which to admit one's own sinfulness. Humble yourself before God and He WILL lift you up. That’s why Jesus came!



Read: Mark 2:18-22
Jesus’ first parables - New wine, patching old clothes

Scribes VS Savior
Scribes took the Old Testament and changed it to save it.
Jesus took sinners and saved them - just as they were.

Mark 2:8 “People came and asked Him” - To the common people, Jesus looked like a religious leader. He taught like a Rabbi. But he was different. Who was he? Was he a prophet like John the Baptiser? Was he a “good Jew” like a Pharisee? Who was Jesus? People like you and me, wanted to know. If he was like John or like the religious leaders, why didn’t his disciples fast like the Jews?

Torah said to Fast one day a year - on the day of Atonement. (Leviticus 23:27)
Pharisees fasted twice a week! Monday and Thursday.
John the Baptist's disciples were likely fasting in mourning for John’s incarceration.

Jesus’ disciples were not fasting at all. They were eating whenever and wherever with whomever they wished.

“Why?” The people ask, “Why don’t your disciples fast?”

In his answer, Jesus foreshadows the cross for the first time in the book of Mark. He’s headed somewhere. “The time will come” (Mark 2:20)...

Jesus said the disciples ate freely because their bridegroom was with them. They will fast, when they are suffering. “When the groom will be taken away from them” (Mark 2:20) “Then they will fast.”

Can you feel the tightening of His heartstrings? I can. Jesus can see the day and it isn’t today. Not. Yet.

Then Jesus gives a couple of parables about Himself and His teaching. (Mark 2:21-22)

Jesus and His teaching were not a patch to be applied to Jewish tradition. Like the scribes would do with their pens. Jesus’ way would tear away from tradition.

Jesus and His teaching could not be stored in the wineskins of legalism. Like the Pharisees believed the Messiah would. Jesus' way would burst the seams of self-righteousness.

Neither legalism nor reinterpretation is fitting for the work Jesus came to do. In this short montage and the next section, Mark lists the things that could not contain Jesus: Fasting, eating with sinners, eating untithed, unwashed and unclean food, with unclean hands. Jesus pulls the rug from under much of their law-keeping and Torah abuse. So far in Mark: Demons, healing, diet, fasting, tithing, purity, sabbath - Jesus shouts, “NEW WINE IS PUT IN NEW WINESKINS!”

Why didn’t His disciples fast? Jesus answers, “I didn’t come to patch up the Torah like the scribes and Pharisees or to patch your spiritual garments like John’s baptism.

Jesus: "Fasting? Ridiculous! I didn’t come to introduce a new diet fad. I came to get this party started!"


Read Mark 2:23-3:6
Sabbath: Religion VS Theology

Key point: Mark 2:27-28
Sabbath was made for man (not the other way round)

In the Talmud, Rabbi Yonatan ben-Yosef said: ‘For it [Shabbat] is holy unto you’ (Exodus 31:14). That is, it is committed into your hands, not you into its hands!” (Yoma 85b)

A similar passage appears in the Mekhilta, Shabbata I:1, where the saying is attributed to Rabbi Shim‛on Ben-Menasya: “It may be, therefore, that Yeshua’s comment in v. 28, that the Son of Man is Lord of Shabbat, does not refer only to himself but to everyone, since Hebrew ben-adam (literally, “son of man”) can mean simply “man, person,” with no Messianic overtone: “people control Shabbat” and not the other way round.”


Jesus suggests: King David did it, his men did it, I do it, my men do it. You do it, too. ADMIT IT!

The Sabbath is yours to define. I heal on Sabbath because I can. What do you do on Sabbath for the good of others - because you can? Because that is how you glorify God on Sabbath!


Jesus clearly puts Sabbath in the Religion Department not the Theology Department.
- RC Sproul story: Religion VS Thelogy
https://www.ligonier.org/podcasts/ultimately-with-rc-sproul/what-is-the-difference-between-theology-and-religion


In this passage, Jesus clearly shows the Sabbath is a ‘son of man’ topic. It’s religion.
How you keep the Sabbath defines you, not God.
God does what God does - Sabbath or not!
What you do on Sabbath is between you and God.

This answer Got Jesus killed.

Jesus’ interpretation and illustration of what he meant by: “the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” made the Pharisees so angry they began plotting to kill Jesus.

When you tell legalists, “Your religion is bad theology” - They don’t like it. And they may try to kill you! Starting with your reputation.


Conclusion

Reflecting on our study today: How does Jesus deal with conflict?

Jesus shows them God by siding with sinners, eating with everyone, healing the sick and suffering and telling stories at every step of the journey!

Go and do likewise! It might get you killed, but you will never be bored!

Let’s pray.

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...