Bible: Freedom that demands more than law

Feb 13, 2017 by

In our previous lessons, Lawyer Paul presented his case in a courtroom against the position that male Gentiles must be circumcised in order to join male Jews as full members of the New Community in Christ....

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Bible: Problems birthing a new community

Jan 30, 2017 by

Our February lessons are a long way from delighting in God’s creation through the Psalms, as we did last month. Centuries have gone by, and instead of “fire, hail, snow and frost,” we now confront parts...

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Bible: Delight in God’s handiwork

Jan 16, 2017 by

“Praise the Lord, sun and moon and all you shining stars!” Psalms 104 and 148 are different from the three psalms we have studied earlier in that they are entirely focused on the natural world, on...

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Bible: Overflowing pastures, joyful hills

Jan 2, 2017 by

No doubt some Sunday school attenders will brave ice or snow in order to discuss Psalm 65, where “valleys deck themselves with grain”! This should remind us that other Christians reading this lesson may be...

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Bible: Celebrate creation and Creator

Dec 19, 2016 by

“Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy!” Our texts for the five Sundays in January are psalms. The one theme that holds these five psalms together is praise for some aspect of creation —...

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Bible: Saviors and forerunners

Dec 5, 2016 by

The story announcing the birth of John the Baptist begins in Luke 1:5. Both Zechariah the priest and his wife, Elizabeth, lived “blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord.”...

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Bible: Two blessed mothers in Israel

Nov 21, 2016 by

What was Mary thinking, on what seemed like an ordinary day as she went about her household duties feeding the animals or spinning wool? How should a girl in everyday clothes and a dirty apron relate to a...

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Bible: Come, all who thirst

Nov 7, 2016 by

Water. The source of life. We need it to survive: to drink, to water the plants we eat. From our very beginnings we rely on liquid sustenance, growing strong while carried in our mothers’ bodies — a kind...

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Bible: Holy city: heaven on earth

Oct 24, 2016 by

Revelation 21 begin with the promise of newness: “a new heaven and a new earth,” according to John, who delivers these visions to us. The old earth has passed away. The sea — a symbolic source of...

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Bible: A Savior who knows our weakness

Oct 10, 2016 by

Heb. 4:14-5:10 discusses Jesus’ role as high priest, emphasizing his divinity as one who has “passed through the heavens.” This divine focus is also turned around, however: Jesus can sympathize with us,...

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Bible: The high priest and the foundation

Sep 26, 2016 by

Heb. 1:1-9 sets the tone for the entire letter to the Hebrews with its focus on Christ, the great high priest. God “has spoken to us by a Son,” the text says, “whom [God] appointed heir of all things,...

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Bible: A prophet with swagger

Sep 12, 2016 by

I like to listen to music when I work. My favorite Spotify playlist is called “Not Scared.” It’s a collection of songs by confident women artists, compiled by the magazine Rookie and designed to remind...

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Bible: We won’t weep forever

Aug 29, 2016 by

Isaiah is a prophetic book, and these passages revel in describing what is to come for God’s people, a time when the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the water covers the sea. Among so many...

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Bible: Boundary-shattering generosity

Aug 15, 2016 by

The key to understanding Paul’s wrestling with the “what about Israel?” question in the Book of Romans is to recognize that he concludes with a strong affirmation of God’s saving intentions. In their...

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God’s sovereign, healing love

Aug 1, 2016 by

Romans 8 concludes the first half of the letter with a powerful message that affirms the good news (gospel) of God’s sovereign mercy. Paul counters two competing “gos­pels” — the gospel of the Roman...

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Bible: Slaves to sin or righteousness?

Jul 18, 2016 by

One issue Paul confronts in Romans is “boasting” — the inclination to claim a special place in the universe due to one’s religious status. He writes about the people who boast in their relationship...

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Bible: Gospel of liberation from idols

Jul 4, 2016 by

Romans 3 famously contains a dense theological argument. Paul discusses the need for and provision of salvation in Jesus Christ. Paul has a simple purpose: That his readers, Jewish and Gentile Christians...

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Bible: No better than the Romans?

Jun 20, 2016 by

The impact of Paul’s letter to the Romans on Christian theology cannot be overstated — though different Christian traditions disagree profoundly on how to interpret and apply Romans. It is always worth...

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Bible: Judgment and a faithful remnant

Jun 6, 2016 by

In just three chapters, the Book of Zephaniah does an excellent job of capturing the essence of the Old Testament prophets. He offers a sharp critique of the kingdom of Judah, focusing on its leaders. And he...

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Bible: From corruption to reform

May 23, 2016 by

The prophet Zephaniah ministered in Judah about two generations after Isaiah and Micah. He may have been a direct descendant of King Hezekiah (1:1). However, by his time, Judah’s leaders had long forgotten...

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Bible: Salvation for a tax collector

May 9, 2016 by

Humility is a theme of all three of these stories in the Gospel of Luke. We might expect such a theme from the story of people bringing the little children to Jesus and Jesus’ saying, “Whoever does not...

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Bible: Jesus, the discomforter

Apr 25, 2016 by

Jesus certainly makes us uncomfortable in this selection from Luke 17. Verses 1-10 are a collection of Jesus’ sayings. First is a warning not to cause one of these “little ones” to stumble. “Little...

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Bible: Redeemed from the depths

Apr 11, 2016 by

You have to know something about pigs to understand these two passages from the Gospel of Luke. First-century Jews did not raise pigs; they did not eat pigs. Leviticus 11 has a list of unclean, or impure,...

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Bible: What you really believe, you will do

Mar 28, 2016 by

Faith is the main point of both of the stories: the healing of the Roman centurion’s slave and the forgiving of the woman who anoints Jesus’ feet. In both stories, faith is demonstrated by an unlikely...

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Bible: Faith under stress

Mar 14, 2016 by

We cannot always predict how we will act under stress. The Apostle Peter declares he will never desert Jesus but before morning has three times denied he even knows Jesus, the Galilean, who is on trial before...

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