Sunday, October 25, 2009

 

Blind Faith: Lessons from Bartimaeus, Mark 10:46-52

Hello all:

As noted before, I teach an Adult Bible Community at Thomas Road Baptist Church called the G.A.P. (for Graduates and Professionals), and each week I post the outlines and discussion questions from my lessons on the G.A.P. page on Facebook. A few weeks ago I started posting these notes on the blog too so as to keep it a bit more active. So, with that introduction, here is the outline and questions for our meeting on October 25. The lesson is on Mark 10:46-52. If you have any questions or would like to add a comment or two, that would be great!

A Story of Blind Faith
Lessons from Bartimaeus
Mark 10:46-52

Introduction
Questions
What do you think of when you hear the words “blind faith”?
Give an example of what you consider “blind faith”
How does “blind faith” compare to what the Bible depicts as faith?

Today’s Story
Mark chapter 10—several groups come to Jesus
1. Pharisees test him (vv. 1-9)
2. His own disciples question him (vv. 10-12)
3. Children came to be blessed/the disciples rebuke them (vv. 13-16)
4. Rich young ruler comes looking for approval (vv. 17-27)
5. Disciples come promoting themselves (vv. 28-45)
6. Bartimaeus comes in faith hoping for healing (vv. 46-52)

Faith focuses on what is important (like the children and Bartimaeus). In this story, faith focuses on three important items.

1. Faith Sees The Need
Mark 10:46-48

He was blind
Probably poor
Unable to work
Resorted to begging

He knew he was needy

He heard about Jesus and knew he needed something from him
His hearing prompted some kind of faith
What did he hear? He heard of Jesus' power and authority

He cried out for help—He was tenacious and persistent

The crowd didn’t like his actions, so he cried out louder

He was desperate to get to Jesus
How desperate are we? Where are we needing an encounter with Jesus?
Do we care what the crowd thinks, or are we going to get to Jesus no matter what?
What hinders us from coming to him and believing what the Bible says about him?

Faith focuses on what is important. Faith looks at the needs around it.

2. Faith Sees An Opportunity
Mark 10:49-50

Jesus stopped
He heard the cries of the desperate man
How tenacious are we in getting Jesus’ attention?

Jesus called
He invited the man to come
He expected a response
When Jesus calls, what hinders us from responding? Do we leave him waiting for us?

The crowd encouraged
The folks who wanted him to shut up now invite him to Jesus
What needs have we tried to silence?
Who do we need to encourage to come to Jesus?
Where are the desperate people in our world?

Bartimaeus responded
He threw off his old “work clothes” made especially for begging (perhaps in expectation of a new profession?). What do we need to throw aside to follow Jesus?

He jumped up (shows a strong desire to respond to Jesus’ call). How have we responded to his call? Have we jumped up, or are we slowly going after him?

Faith focuses on what is important. Faith sees Jesus' coming by as an opportunity to obtain salvation.

3. Faith Responds to Jesus
Mark 10:51-52

A question and a response
Jesus asks a question/Bartimaeus responds

The question is the same Jesus asks his disciples in Mark 10:36 when they asked for places of honor
What do you want me to do for you?

Bartimaeus answers humbly/respectfully (“Rabboni, let me regain my sight”)
The disciples did not (“Give us a place of honor”)
How do we respond when God asks what we want?
Does our response focus on the needs around us, or are we looking for a place of honor?

A command and a response
Jesus commands: “Go”
Bartimaeus responds: He follows Jesus
He is given what he requests, then he becomes a disciple

Faith focuses on what is important. Faith responds with obedience and discipleship

Discussion Questions
What did Bartimaeus hear about Jesus? How did that change his actions?
What have you heard about Jesus? How has it changed your actions?

How desperate are we for God’s attention? Where do we need an encounter with Jesus in our lives? Where are our needs?

Are we concerned with what others say, or are we going to get to Jesus no matter the cost?

What hinders us from coming to Jesus or believing what the Bible says about him?
What needs have we tried to silence?

Who needs our encouragement to come to Christ for help? Who is desperate in our world?

What do we need to throw aside to follow Jesus?

How have we responded to Jesus’ call? Have we jumped up, or are we slowly going after him?

What do you want Jesus to do for you?

Where is our focus?


Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

 

And then the plate broke . , .

Hey y'all:

Just a bit of rambling for you today because I'm in a bit of a introspective mood or something (yeah, I know I should be grading or writing or something "academic," but life is like that sometimes). Anyway, I started off the day with a pretty good mood, but it has been one of those days (for another example of this, read my past log "It's my birthday and O'Charley's forgot the appetizer again" at http://beyond-the-wardrobe.blogspot.com/2006_02_01_archive.html).

So, I got in the car, the CD player wouldn't work. Drove down the road in my neighborhood, almost got run over by "neighbors" who apparently do not know what a "Stop" sign is. On the highway got tailgated by a police car (yep, tailgated, thought he wanted in my backseat or something). Got to work and felt completely invisible . . . and then . . .

Some guys came into the office to hang pictures for a colleague. Little did I realize that they would be relentlessly pounding on my wall from the other side. In a few minutes, a commemorative plate of a Russian lacquer painting was vibrated off my shelf and broke.

Sigh

Now, before you all think I'm beginning to feel too sorry for myself (or before you think I'm fishing for "recognition"), let me just say . . .

It is really okay. Yeah, it smarts a bit, but it is okay.

I may not be the newest shiny toy, or the most popular person, or even the most recognized "whatever", but I know one thing is still true . . . God has not forgotten me.

He has written me on the palms of his hands; he gave his only unique, one of a kind Son so that I could be his child; he created a whole universe so I could be born as one among many whom he would love; and he knows my name.

As surely as God knows the stars by name, he knows each of us in his creation. None of us are overlooked. Oh, we may have times where we "feel" as though the world will survive without us, but the reality is a bit different. Each of us have a role to play in God's grand story to end all stories. We all are a part of the greatest thing ever.

Whether we choose to participate or not, we are all of us a part of what God is doing.

No, it won't fix my mood, but those words sure make me smile a bit.

I'm not alone . . . I haven't lost anything worth much . . . and God is still in control.

I admit, it isn't much of a "fix," but then again God never promised us that nothing bad would ever happen.

So, here I am, introspective and all. It's cold outside and a bit gloomy, kind of matching my current emotional state. And yet. . . and yet . . .

I'm smiling just a bit.

Why? Because I am convinced of better things. Because I know God's character. Because his Word never fails.

How inexpressible is his great gift towards us!

How surprising and overwhelming is his love!

I know the end of the story . . . it will be "happily ever after."

If a few plates or books get lost in the meanwhile, I'll figure out a way to deal with it.

If you are having a day like mine, let me know. I want to pray for you.

Life sucks sometimes, but God is good all the time.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

 

What's the Word? Hebrews 4:12-13

Hello all:

I teach an Adult Bible Community at Thomas Road Baptist Church (We meet in Campus North room 1880 Sunday mornings at 9:45 a.m.). Our group is the G.A.P. (for Graduates and Professionals), and each week I post the outlines and discussion questions from my lessons on the G.A.P. page on Facebook. I thought it might be a good thing to share these on the blog too so as to keep it a bit more active. So, with that introduction, here is the outline and questions for our meeting on October 11. The lesson is on Hebrews 4:12-13. If you have any questions or would like to add a comment or two, that would be great!

What’s the Word?
Hebrews 4:12-13

Introduction
Have you ever been promised something and not had it happen?

Has there ever been a time when someone failed to keep their word to you?
How did you respond?
What did you think of the person’s word from that point on?
Was their word “good” or not?

The Lion, The Witch, The Wardrobe
Edmond and the White Witch

A word is only as good as the character of the person who gives it

Today’s passage: Hebrews 4:12-13

Context
Hebrews chapter 3 and 4
Chapter 3: Hard hearts kept the Jews in the wilderness from God’s rest
Chapter 4: The Word they heard did not profit them because “it was not mixed with faith” (v. 2)
Hard, unbelieving hearts do not hear with faith
Soft, faithful hearts are open to correction from God’s Word

A word is only as good as the character of the person who gives it

To trust the Word we must trust God

To know the Word we must know God who spoke it (John 1)

What do we know from this passage? Two things:
1. The Power of the Word
2. The Person of the Word

The Power of the Word
Hebrews 4:12

Characteristics of the Word
It is alive
God’s Word is a life giving seed (1 Peter 1:23) that produces new birth (John 3:1-7)

It is active (energes)—Isaiah 55:11
God’s Word is good food and nourishment (1 Peter 2:2) and produces faith (Romans 10:17)

It is sharp (like a scapel, machaira)—Ephesians 6:17

It pierces (we become undone—cf. Is. 6:5)
God’s Word has a reflecting power to show us our sin (James 1:22-25; Romans 3:23)

It analyzes, exposes, critiques, judges, assesses
It counteracts the deceiving power of sin, God’s Word exposes sin
God’s Word will separate us from our sin (Psalm 119:11), or our sin will separate us from God’s Word (Isaiah 59:2)
God’s Word cleanses us from sin (Eph. 5:26; Psalm 51:2)

How do we respond to God’s Word?
Do we let it expose what needs to be removed, or do we ignore its warnings?

A word is only as good as the character who gives it

Do we trust God?

The Person of the Word
Hebrews 4:13

God’s Word is Part of God (Psalm 18:30)
It is God’s nature to speak (Genesis 1; Psalm 119)
It is God’s nature to speak truth (John 17:17)
God’s Word is an extension of God’s person (John 1:1-5, 18; Heb. 1:1-4)

What is God’s character?
He is omniscient
Nothing is hidden from him
Not even that sin you think you hid!

He sees all as it is
Everything is naked before his eyes
No motives or thoughts remain hidden
He is the ultimate Judge

Given what was said above
How do we respond to God’s character?
Do we try to “hide” like Adam and Eve? Do we try to cover up our “mistakes” so he won’t see?

Do we properly understand God’s character?
If not, how can we get to know him better?

We will be judged by what we do in response to God’s Word and God’s character
How will we measure up?
Proverbs 30:5

A word is only as good as the character who gives it

We need to know God’s character through God’s Word

Application
2 Timothy 3:16-17
2 Timothy 2:15
God’s Word is spoken (“breathed”) by him, and in it he reveals his unique character

We must study it in order to know and to understand who God is, what he has done, and what he expects of us

Studying God’s Word is a command, not an option

This week
Spend at least 30 minutes a day studying God’s Word (start with the Gospel of John or Psalm 119)
Spend time meditating on God and his character—spend time with him! Make an appointment and keep it
Act on what he says in his word: confess, repent, submit, tell someone else, memorize a passage—respond in a way that is obvious to others

How we respond to God’s Word reveals our character—what does your response say about you?

Questions
What is the Word of God? How can you know?

What is the capability of the Word of God?

In what sense is the Word of God living? Active? Or sharp like a sword?

How does God’s Word reveal these three characteristics to you?

How has God’s Word come alive, been active, or pierced you?

Why is your response to God’s Word important?

What is your response to God’s Word? Do others see it, or are you a “secret” disciple?

Has the Word of God failed when people reject it?

How does the Word of God help you through the wilderness times in your life?

How can you use the Word of God to help one another?

How does God see you? For what must you give account to God?


Thanks for reading!

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