October 2021 Bible Study: Seeds of Potential

By Major Shannon Murphy
Yuba/Sutter, CA Corps – Del Oro Division

Scripture References: John 15:16, Matthew 13:3-8, John 15:1-4

My oldest son is currently working his second season at a local pumpkin farm, Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm. This pumpkin farm began operations 49 years ago and is well known throughout the region. It is amazing to see the rows and rows of pumpkins, all different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm is famous for its oversized pumpkins. Earlier this summer I learned the amount of care and attention put into such a crop. For instance, to produce 100-to-200-pound show pumpkins, each plant needs 80 square feet of space to grow. Smaller variety pumpkins do not near this much space. Since a few seeds will fail to germinate and a few plants will die of various causes (rabbits and squirrels), farmers plant a seed every 3.5 ft in 12 ft rows. At a certain point, farmers must thin out the excess plants so larger pumpkins have enough room to grow reaching their full potential.

This process of producing a bumper pumpkin crop reminded me of how God works in the lives of His people.

God Designed Us With A Purpose

Read John 15:16
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

Similarly, to the farmer selecting which pumpkins to prepare for full maturity, God chose each one of us before we even were aware of it. He is taking the time to care and nurture us to grow according to His purpose for us. Our purpose is to produce fruit, lasting fruit. However, many times we might not want to let Him be in control of our lives. We struggle to allow the adequate amount water (the Holy Spirit), or fertilizer (His Word) penetrate us for growth.

  • Have you fully accepted that God has chosen you?
  • Are you fully trusting in God’s plan for your life? If not, what is causing you not to fully trust in God’s plan for you?

God Positions Us to Reach Our Full Potential

Read Matthew 13:3-8
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
In this scripture we are told of how the farmer scattered the seeds. We know the seeds were probably scattered by hand; however, they were not scattered carelessly. The seeds were probably expensive so the farmer would disburse with care and to the best of his ability.

In the first scene, we see the farmer scattered seed along a walking path or road. Some Bible translations say, “some seeds fell by the wayside.” We are not sure why he would sow seeds here. It could be this soil seemed to be just as good the rest of the field. It could have been soil that was good at one point but turned hard overtime.

In the second scene, we see the farmer scattered seed on the rocky place. This does not mean that it fell on rock, but into the ground where the rock was close to the surface. This would not have been seen by the farmer. When seed falls on this kind of soil there is miraculous growth of the seed. But because there is no depth of the soil so the roots cannot go down and all the strength goes into the stalk.

In the third scene, we see the farmer scattered seed and some fell was among the thorns. This soil was good; however, it was infested by weeds. This was also not visible to the farmer as the roots of the weeds and thorns filled the soil but had yet to emerge above ground. The seeds compete for soil as the thorns grow faster than the seeds and the new sprouts soon get choked by the thorns.

In the fourth scene, we see the farmer scattered seed on good soil. This soil is enriched with the proper hydration and nutrients for a healthy crop. However, the seed still must deal with all the hardships and storms before the crop becomes mature.

There are seasons in your life where you may feel out of place or in the wrong position. You may wonder if God got it wrong or if God was careless in His placement of you. But hold on to these truths: you are valued, and God is meticulous where He wants to you positioned. You may deal with seasons of drought or famine, but God positioned where you are for growth and maturing to your full potential.

  • Looking at your life today, what type of soil are you positioned in?
  • What steps do you need to take to be in the good soil?

God Prunes Us To Produce Fruit

Read John 15:1-4
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

The pumpkin farmer plant seeds near one another, every 3.5 feet in 12-foot rows. As the crops matures the fields quickly become crowded. Some plants are green and leafy but never produce fruit while others sprout pumpkins that are lackluster. So, to produce the best crop of beautiful, full-sized pumpkins, the farmer must conduct some pruning. He must thin out the excessive under producing plants.

There are seasons when life becomes overcrowded by useless and worthless things. If gone unchecked these things can easily stunt our growth and cut off our connection to the Father. God wants to prune and burn away the unnecessary and fruitless things in our lives. This pruning may include the difficult decision of cutting unhealthy relationships or removing negative influences in our lives. When we allow God to complete this process then we can produce the fruit intended for us.

  • What things or people do you need to remove from your life and why?

Note: Check out this month’s devotional, I See You. God Sees You. You Matter, and this month’s craft, Sand Jar Craft, which coordinates with this Bible study.

September Bible Study: The Art of Neighboring

By Major Ronda Gilger
Coeur d’Alene Kroc Center, ID – Northwest Division

“The Art of Neighboring” is a 4 part Bible Study series on how to love our neighbors. Rethink the ways that you actually engage with those around you. Let’s learn how to practically live out Jesus’ command to us! How poignant at this time in history to ask the question, “What if we took the words of Jesus seriously when he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.” What? We might be secretly thinking, “You don’t know my neighbor!” ‘I just can’t…I’m not brave enough…” But you can!  I’m cheering you on!

Set a time! *Watch with friends- in your small group, online or independently or maybe you’d rather host a watch party.  Lots of options.

Major Ronda Gilger shares this material in a way that is conversational and invites viewers to engage with the possibility of carrying out the Great Commission beginning in the spot where your feet are planted.

Resources:
Be sure to get the FREE student workbook and FREE Neighbor Toolkit. These are downloads that have been added for you!

Watch Videos 1-4 with your women or create an online format or watch party.  

Session 1: Rediscovering the Art of Neighboring – Little Things Make a Big Difference 


Session 2: The Time Barrier


Session 3: Overcoming Fear


Session 4: The Art of Receiving-Strategies

Before you meet, print the resources for your participants and invite them to go through some of the additional materials during the week. The foundational material has been shared with us by RightNow Media free of charge, and the COVID19 Neighboring toolkit gives additional ideas for safely interacting.

“The Art of Neighboring” complete-Book is available for purchase on Amazon.com
Authors Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon.  Jay and Dave have video shorts for teaching available through RightNow Media if you have a subscription.

November 2021 Bible Study: 10 Reasons to Praise the Lord

By Major Beth Desplancke
Territorial Women’s Ministries Program Secretary

Bible Study on 1 Chronicles 16:8-36

INTRODUCTION
It is November, and here in America we focus on the celebration of Thanksgiving, a time when we gather with family and friends and eat too much food and share what we are thankful for. The Bible tells us to be thankful, but it also tells us to praise God. What is the difference?

Author Mark Alan Williams explains the difference between thanksgiving and praise (https://www.markalanwilliams.net/post/2018/11/19/the-subtle-but-significant-difference-between-thanksgiving-and-praise/). He explains that “thanksgiving focuses on benefits bestowed to us… Whatever we are thankful for, we are grateful because of the blessing brought to US. The focus is on US… Praise focuses on the character of God and our love for Him. While thanksgiving focuses on blessings bestowed on us, praise focuses on God. We praise Him for His character, His attributes and His abilities.” The command to praise God appears approximately 250 times in the Bible. Praise should be a significant part of the believer’s life.

“10,000 Reasons” is a song by Matt Redman, about blessing the Lord through praise. The premise of the song is that we have so many things to praise the Lord for we couldn’t even begin to count them. Begin your time of Bible study by singing this son or watching the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtwIT8JjddM

In 1 Chronicles 16, God’s people are celebrating because they had just safely brought the ark of God, which represents God’s presence with His people, back to its rightful place. In this chapter, let’s discover not 10,000 reasons but 10 reasons to praise God today and every day. (Note attributes are based on the New Living Translation of 1 Chronicles 16)

  1. Praise God because He is Great, v. 8, 25.
    Great meant you did something well, or fantastic. God is great because He does everything well. Everything He does is fantastic! Remember that: everything He does is great, including what He does and is doing in your life right now. It may not feel great now, but eventually God will make it great.

    Another way to think about great is in size. When we say God is great, we can say He is big, enormous. He is great over everything He created. When you think of the billions of people in this world it is a great big number, but God is bigger than that number. When you think about the size of the universe, God is greater than that. What that means is God is bigger than anything or anyone we face. Any problem we have, any struggle we go through, any addiction we have, God is greater.
  2. Praise God because He does wonderful things, v. 9, 24.
    What God does is glorious and amazing. God doesn’t do anything half-heartedly or mediocre. All that He does is wonderful. Just take a look at creation – all the beauty He made. Did He have to create so many varieties of flowers in so many colors? No! did He have to create the sunset or sunrise to be so beautiful? Of course not.
    Everything He does is wonderful, glorious and amazing. The same is true in how He works in our lives. He is doing something wonderful, glorious, and amazing to make you the man He wants you to be. By bringing you here He is doing something amazing and wonderful in your life – you’ve just got to allow Him to work because at times it doesn’t always feel or even appear amazing or wonderful.
  3. Praise God because He is holy, v. 10, 19, 35.
    God is holy means He is without sin. He is perfect and everything He does is perfect. Think of it – He isn’t going to make a mistake in how He works in our lives. For example, because He is without sin means He isn’t going to blow His top and lose His temper because of something we do. He isn’t going to hold a grudge because of something we did. He is holy and perfect, and therefore, not a subject to the whims of misjudgments that would be made in sin. That means everything He does is perfect – the way He is working in your life is perfect. He isn’t punishing you because you got drunk too many times. He isn’t paying you back for your life of sin. He is holy and perfect and works perfectly in our lives to make us like Him – holy.
  4. Praise God He is Strong, v. 11, 27-28.
    Remember the song, “He’s got the whole world in His hands?” God is organizing, governing, and watching over the entire world. V. 30 says the world stands firm and cannot be shaken. This is due to God’s strength. He holds the universe in His hand. God is strong and powerful; He is stronger than anything in this world.

    We are weak but God is strong. In any problem or difficulty we face, God is strong enough to handle it. We think we can handle some on our own, but God is much stronger than we ever can be, so what is a challenge to us is nothing to a great big God, who is strong enough to bring order to the universe.
  5. Praise God because He is faithful, v. 15-22, 34.
    God is a promise keeping God. He is going to be faithful to all His promises. What promises does He make to us? The Bible is full of them. Here are just a few promises God has made, and He will be faithful to keep: He promises salvation (Romans 10:9), He promises forgiveness (1 John 1:9), He promises His presence (Hebrews13:5) and He promises us that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39)
  6. Praise God He is our Savior, v. 23, 35.
    He saves us. This is good news. This is great news! God is holy and without sin and because of His holiness He can’t be around sin. We are sinners – all of us. We could never be in the presence of God because of our sin. God decided to solve our problem of sin for us. He sent His perfect Son – Jesus Christ – to die in our place for our sins.
  7. Praise God He reigns, v. 31.
    To say God reigns is to acknowledge that God is King and He is the Ruler. God is ruler over all the earth. He is in control. Nothing will knock Him off His throne. We can trust God to reign according to His nature, which we’ve already mentioned.

    In The Salvation Army Songbook (21016 edition) song #16 says, God is still on the throne, and He will remember His own; though trials may press us and burdens distress us, He will never leave us alone. God is still on the throne, and He remembers His own. His promise is true, He will not forget you; God is still on the throne.
  8. Praise God He is our coming judge, v. 33.
    This is a two-fold praise. We can praise God that His Son is returning someday to take His children up with Him to heaven. This is exciting because this world isn’t all there is. God hasn’t forgotten about us. He will come again, someday, we just don’t know when. We have something better to look forward to.

    But why is He coming? He is coming to judge. He is coming to judge the righteous and the wicked. But if we have received Christ as our personal Savior, we need not fear our judgment. Romans 8:1 tells us now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. If we belong to Christ, we won’t be condemned!
    For those who haven’t received Christ as their personal Savior, the should fear judgment. If your name isn’t written in the Lambs Book of Life, you will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15) – which is hell.

    All of the things we have thought unfair when the wicked seemed to get away with doing wrong, will finally get what they deserved. Read Psalm 37;1-2, 37-38 to see what happens to the wicked.
  9. Praise God He is good, v. 34.
    God is good – all the time. All the time – God is good! Everything God does is out of His goodness. It may not seem good at the time, but if we remember that God’s very nature is good, and He has our best good in mind, when those unpleasant things come our way, we will remember it is all good! It doesn’t mean it always feels good, but we can trust that God is working good in your life in even the most unpleasant of circumstances.
  10. Praise God He is eternal, v. 36.
    God is everlasting. He’s the same today as He was yesterday and He’ll be the same tomorrow. God forever will be how He is described in this passage of Scripture. I’m not going to wake up one day and discover God is no longer there – because He is eternal. He has always been and always will be. I’m not going to wake up one day and discover God is different, for He is everlasting and forever He will be who He is. Things come and go, leaders change, rules change, circumstances change, but God is eternal and remains the same every day.

    CONCLUSION
    In the devotional book, Be Still and Know (© 2016 by Broadstreet Publishing), the reading for August 17 is entitled, “Continual Praise” and it says this:

    What would it look like to be people who praise God from the time we awaken each morning until the time we fall asleep each night? Not only would it be pleasing God as we worship him constantly, but we would also effect an incredible change in our personal outlook.

    Intentional, continual praise can only naturally result in intentional, continual joy. When we choose to look at each moment as a moment in which to be thankful and worshipful, then we will find in each moment, beauty, joy and satisfaction.

What a challenge, to be women of continual praise. Can you come up with a top-ten list of what to praise God for? Close your Bible study time with the song “Great Are You Lord,” by All Sons & Daughters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHJuzehKt8s.

Download the printable version of this Bible study.

Note: Check out this month’s devotional, The PERFECT Thanksgiving, and this month’s craft, Edible Thanksgiving Turkeys that coordinate with this Bible study.

December 2021 Bible Study: Seeking the King

By Mistie Lamb
Intermountain Division

Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We know that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th of course, but this is the time we set aside to celebrate His birth, his first physical appearance on earth. The miraculous birth of this small baby is the introduction to world of the one true King. His birth and the reaction of those we see in this bible passage are important reminders to us of how we should continue to seek Him even still. While there are many distractions especially in this special season, we are reminded in this passage of scripture that we can get back on track and that we will be rewarded by His very presence when we do. Let this season be an opportunity to seek Jesus, our King, above all else.

Matthew is the first of four gospels which opens the New Testament. Written by Matthew (Levi) shortly after Jesus walked the earth. Matthew was called by Jesus to be one of His disciples as he was busy collecting taxes (not the most honorable or favored career). Matthew wrote this account of Jesus’ time on earth in hopes of confirming to the Jewish Church that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah by showing the fulfillment of many, though not all, of the Old Testament prophecies. Chapter one begins with the lineage of Jesus and ends with His birth. Our study, Chapter 2, verses 1 – 12 leads us into the visit of the Magi and King Herod’s plot to destroy Jesus. This portion of Scripture speaks to us about two kings. The earthy ruler of the time, Herod, and the King of Kings, Jesus. Let’s follow along as these men, seek their King.

Read Matthew Chapter 2:1-12

Verses 1-6
The Magi, or wise men, arrive in Jerusalem and inquire as to where they can find the Messiah since they saw His star, and followed it to worship Him. However, when King Herod hears this news, we see he is troubled and asks where he, too, can find the Messiah.

Many people seek the Messiah, but not everyone has good intentions. King Herod knows of the prophesy and understands that Jesus is the rightful ruler. He is undoubtedly concerned. The Bible says he is “troubled” at the birth of the Messiah, and he is sure that Jesus will one day want to take possession of the throne while either he himself sits on it or his offspring. However, we also see these three wise men, travel a long distance, from the east, to find the Messiah. They have come to worship Him. One looks to destroy the Messiah and the others look to worship Him.

  1. What is your motive in seeking the King?
  2. What is the benefit of checking our motive? (see Proverbs 21:2, 1 Corinthians 16:14)
  3. What are some ways we can help others to seek Him?

Verses 7-12
In the second half of our study, we see that Herod is determined to find the Messiah. He calls the Magi to him to get more information about when exactly they first saw the star, then he sends them to go find Jesus and then report back to him, under the guise that he, too, wants to worship the Messiah. After leaving Herod, the wise men continue to follow the star, which brings them to the exact spot where Jesus is. When they come into the house, they fall to the ground to worship the true King and offer their gifts. God then warns them in a dream not to return to Herod but to go home via a different route.

I’m struck in this last passage by the Magi’s interaction with King Herod. It was not in their plans to take this detour on the way to seek the Messiah, yet they find themselves rerouted. Distracted by this earthly king, whose motive we know is not actually to worship Jesus, but to destroy Him. Nonetheless, they get back on track and eventually make it to Jesus. Their journey to seek the King does indeed end successfully. How many times in our own journey have we been re-routed, distracted, or waylaid by the enemy?

I often find that when I intentionally set aside time to worship or study or seek Jesus, that the distractions are at their strongest. However, we can be encouraged by the steadiness of the Magi, that if we get back on track, despite the detours, that we, too, will have our time to worship. God is not hiding from us. He put a large, bright star in the night sky pointing the wise men straight to Jesus. The second half of Hebrews 11:6 tells us that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Just as the Magi were rewarded by being in the very presence of the Messiah so, too, can we find this same reward.

  1. What are some distractions or detours that try to keep you from worshiping?
  2. What can you do to get quickly back on track after a distraction or detour, however long?
  3. What are the rewards of remaining faithful in our journey to seek the King? (See Matthew 6:31-33, Psalm 34:4)

There can be many distractions through the Christmas season. Parties to attend, gifts to buy and wrap, volunteering to be done, memories to be made, but we can see that even in the midst of distractions and detours, God is not hiding. In fact, we read in Luke 19:10 that Jesus came to seek and save the lost! Us!! So, as we go about celebrating this season of Jesus’ birth, let’s remember to be intentional seekers of Him. Let’s be reminded to check our motives as we do all the wonderful things that make this season so beautiful.

And finally, if we do find ourselves distracted, or re-routed, we can easily get back on track and find that our journey to seek Him will eventually lead to Him, and we can enjoy His goodness and presence.

Prayer
Lord, as we read these verses today, I ask that You speak to our hearts. Teach us the importance of seeking You and of doing so with a right heart. Help us to set aside the things that try to distract us and route us away from You and to focus on the true meaning of this season. We are so thankful, Jesus, that You willingly came as a baby and made the way for our redemption. We give You all the glory and honor as we worship You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Download the printable version of this Bible study

Note: Check out this month’s craft, Wise Men Seashell Ornament and this month’s devotional, A Gift of Significance that coordinates with this Bible study.

August Bible Study: Under the Son

By Lt. Taneya Garrett
Administrator for Program – Long Beach, CA ARC

Over the years I have met many women who feel like they can’t enjoy life with Jesus. What I’ve noticed is that they are so consumed and broken down by life and their situations, that by the time they remember or even realize that Jesus exist, they’re afraid of Him. Many women don’t realize their need of resting under the Son. They don’t realize that what they are missing is a life with Jesus. They are too worried about what they have done wrong in life, too busy worried about what they have to cook for dinner or if there is a clean shirt in the closet to wear to work the next day.

Ladies, Jesus doesn’t care what our houses look like or what are past sins are. He hasn’t come to condemn us, but rather to love us and help us to find rest under the Son. Just as Jesus said, take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:29). It’s amazing to me to think that there are women in this world who don’t have the comfort of knowing the Jesus I know. Jesus wants to love us, support us and be the comfort that we all need. It took me years to realize this and once I started living under the Son and His guidance, it become easier to handle the hard times. I was able to find comfort knowing that everything will be okay, under the Son. Below are a few examples of what could happen when we soak ourselves under the Son.

Comfort & Celebration Under the Son

Luke 22:14-16: When the hour had come, Jesus reclined at the table with His apostles. And He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before My suffering. For I tell you that I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

Some of our most noteworthy or important conversations take place when families and friends gather around a table. At mealtime, Jesus taught some of His most insightful lessons and developed the deepest relationships. He had many meals with His disciples, but none with the level of significance as the last one, particularly since it was also the Passover meal. On the eve of His betrayal, Jesus joined His disciples for the Passover feast. He could have gathered with them in fasting and austerity, but He didn’t. Instead, they feasted together, one last supper before the horror to come. That’s very significant.

This tells us that although Jesus knew that great suffering was to come, there was still and always will be time to spend under the Son. Jesus expressed His eagerness to have His last meal with His disciples. Jesus and the disciples had become a family. The disciples had left behind their very own families to learn from Jesus and this would be their last meal together, until they meet again in heaven. Although, Jesus knew that soon He would be killed, he wanted one last supper to fellowship and to celebrate with His disciples. Let this be a reminder when we gather with our families and friends giving thanks for the sacrifice Jesus made, we can find comfort knowing that Jesus celebrated, even knowing the days to come. Let this be a reminder that no matter what tomorrow brings, today we celebrate under the Son together.

Questions:

How does this passage speak to you? What is your “takeaway”?

How can you and your family find comfort and celebrate together under the Son?

Forgiveness Under the Son

Luke 7:36-50: When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.  As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”  Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

While dining at the house of a Pharisee, Jesus is met by a woman who bathes His feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. She spends her time kissing Jesus’ feet and anointing Him with her perfume. This once sinful woman understood what it means to sit under the Son. It makes me chuckle because the Pharisee sees this as shocking behavior. I believe this woman must have had a previous encounter with Jesus, where she was forgiven by Him and now, she is expressing loving gratitude for the forgiveness that Jesus gives. The words Jesus says to her rings in my ears, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Jesus didn’t care about this woman’s reputation as “a sinner.” Jesus cared that she had enough faith to come and rest under the Son to express the gratitude that she had for the forgiveness that He gave. This woman most likely spent her entire life longing for this forgiveness, and she was willing to give all she had to express her gratitude. Her mustard seed of faith came in the form of a tiny bottle of perfume. In today’s time that tiny bottle isn’t of much value, but back then it was of great value. Although, the Pharisee was shocked by the woman’s behavior, we should take a page out of her book. The Pharisee was judging her based on her old reputation. When he should have been resting under the Son, while he had the opportunity. The woman is not, in fact, who we as the readers might think she is at first glance. She is forgiven and she knows how to rest under the Son.

Questions:

How does this passage speak to you?

Have you found forgiveness under the Son?

Joy Under the Son

John 15:10-12:  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

The word joy is expressed in two ways in verse 11. The first is the joy of Jesus. An emotion, of great happiness and pleasure. Which we can find when we allow ourselves to find joy under the Son. When we have Jesus in our hearts and allow Him to work in our lives, things seem to be a little better. Jesus found joy doing the work of His Father. Jesus found love and joy under God and we should be able to do the same under the Son. Jesus is the example here. Jesus insists that His own obedience to the Father is the reason for his joy; and he promises that those who obey him will share the same joy indeed, that his very purpose in laying down such demands is that our joy may be complete. The second is, our joy. We can rejoice in gladness when we are made complete, when we learn to express love and joy under the Son. As we grow in our understanding of Jesus, we can express that love and joy to the people we encounter. Like Jesus insists that His own obedience to the Father is the reason for his joy; we too, as believers should follow in the example given to us. Under the Son is joy made complete in Jesus name.

Questions:

Does this passage speak to you? And why?

How are you finding joy under the Son?

Applications:
There are so many truths to be found under the Son because with Jesus anything is possible. I just think it takes time, sometimes for people understands this. It might be because we haven’t gotten the opportunity to meet and simply rest under the Son. Life is so busy with “to do” lists, and appointments for this or that. There’s too much laundry to do and dishes that have been stacked in the sink for days. We worry too much about everything that doesn’t matter, when we should be resting under the Son. We might say to ourselves; He’ll still be here tomorrow! How often do we allow ourselves to get caught up in that trap? Yes, it’s true, he will be here tomorrow, but, so will the dishes, the laundry and the “to do” list. Ladies, let’s be women who find everything we need today, under the Son.

Download the printable version of this Bible study.

Note: Also on our website is UNDER THE SON devotional and FUN IN THE SON/SUN games and activities that coordinate with this Bible study.

July Bible Study: Freedom in Christ

Bible Study on John 8:31-47
By Lisa Smith, Southwest Division

INTRODUCTION: One of my favorite holidays is the Fourth of July. It is a day filled with picnics in the park in the presence of friends and family, games, half melted ice cream and of course the spectacular fireworks display that fil the sky with a multitude of colors. However, those are not my favorite parts of this day- I love to celebrate that our country is free. We have freedom of speech, assembly, the press, and most of all freedom to worship our God openly and without fear of imprisonment – or even death.

As Americans, we are a free people, but as Christians we even more free. Through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, God gives us a freedom that is even greater than the freedoms we enjoy in the United States. In John’s Gospel chapter 8: 31-47, Jesus tells the Jews who believed He was God’s Son about what it means to be a free child of God.

31 “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him ‘If you continue in My word, then you are disciples of Mine.
32 and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free’”
33 “They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it you say You will become free?’”
34 “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin
35 ‘The slave does not remain at the house forever, but the son does remain forever’
36 “So of the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed’”

Jesus Himself is the Truth- this is because He is the source of truth. He is the only sinless person that ever walked this earth, so He is the standard of righteousness. He frees us from the consequences of sin. When we put our faith in Him and believe in what He did for us at Calvary, we are forgiven; we don’t have to worry about going to Hell – or that God’s going to “get us”. To have this gift of freedom in Christ is not rocket science, but a simple act of faith and trust. We don’t have to pass any tests or perform any physical feats, like some religions require. John 14: 6 tells us that Jesus is the Way, the truth, and the life. He is, in fact, the only way to God

Why do some people find it hard to believe that Jesus can truly make us free?

Why are many people not convinced that Jesus is the Truth- the only way to God the Father and chase false paths?


In verse 33, the Jews Jesus was addressing spoke of being Abraham’s seed and how that they had never been enslaved by any man. That is not exactly true- their ancestors had been in bondage to the Egyptians and the Babylonians, and at that moment, they were living under the tyranny of Rome. They were not a free people physically or spiritually. They claimed to be Abraham’s descendants, but they were reluctant to accept Jesus as the Messiah.

In verse 34, Jesus told them that everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin and that slaves do not remain in the house forever, but that sons do.

What did Jesus mean by that last statement?

Sin has a way of controlling us; it dominates our lives and dictates what we do or don’t do. However, if we allow Him, Jesus can break the chains; and help us to practice righteousness then we become true children of God.

I John 3:9-10, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this, the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious; anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother”

Think about a time when you were enslaved by sin. What was your life like? What changed when you made a decision for Jesus?

John 8:37 “‘I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill me, because My Word has no place in you”
38 “I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the tings which you heard from your father”
39 “They answered and said to Him ‘Abraham is our father’ Jesus said to them ‘If you Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham’
40 ‘But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do”
41’You are doing the deeds of your father’. They said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication, we have one Father: God.’
42 Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not come on My own initiative, but He sent me’
43 ‘Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word”
44 ‘You are of your father the devil. And you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand for the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies’
45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me’
46 ‘Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?
47 ‘He who is of God hears the words of God. For this reason you do not hear them because you are not of God’”

Jesus spoke some very powerful words in that last passage. The religious leaders were unable to understand what Jesus saying because they refused to listen. This refusal to listen played right into Satan’s hands – he used their pride and prejudices to keep them from taking Jesus’ words to heart.

How does Satan keep you from listening to Jesus? Or does he. Explain how or how not.

These leaders were clearly followers of the devil. More than likely, they didn’t realize this as they were so convinced that they were right and Jesus was wrong.

Can you think of any examples of this in today’s world?

Those who serve Satan can not be children of God. Read I John 5:1

Jesus can tell people the truth and there will be those who refuse to believe. Those people are not free; they are in bondage just as much as if they were bound and shackled. However, those who listen to Jesus and take His words to heart have they gift of freedom. This gift is not dependent on what country they live in, but on their faith in Jesus and willingness to let Him be Lord of their lives.

Download the printable version of this Bible study.

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