The Gospel Project Vol. VIII

Notes Journal

Volume VIII (Summer 2014)

Session 13 – “The Heart of the Matter”

I’ve changed the point titles and will be opening with a personal story about how Canadian “utility studs” were created to get around a tariff on imported 2×4 lumber. They were technically different (included a pre-drilled hole for wiring) and not subject to the tax, but were used for the same purpose as those subject to the tariff.

Opening Discussion: “What are the issues with attempts to “get around the law”?”

I. Religion accommodates a sinful heart (Matthew 15:1-6)

A. Tradition deals with ritual (process integrity)

B. With the Pharisees, tradition had become equal to scripture

C. Truth deals with reality (results oriented)

Discussion: “How can a focus on ritual lead to a judgmental attitude?”

II. Religion facilitates external obedience (Matthew 15:7-9)

A. Playing the role (Hypocrite)

B. “Commands of men” are “opinion heavy”

C. Authoritative instruction starts/ends with the scripture

Discussion: “How can a “checklist” mentality lead to problems? And to good?”

III. Religion misdiagnoses problems (Mathew 15:10-20)

A. Religion sets itself up as the Judge

B. Religion excels with formulas

C. Religion fails to ask the right questions

Discussion: “How does God judge differently than us? Where is our responsibility in it all?”

For the week: Take an honest look and think about what influences your habits most; tradition, scripture, peers, other?

_____________________________

Session 12 – “Jesus’ View of the Law”

I’m using the list of outdated laws from the book (including the explanation of the ice cream cone law) to set-up this question:

Opening Discussion: “The “ice cream cone law” sounds silly at first, but after hearing the explanation, what do we understand the big-picture reasoning to be?”

I. Jesus upheld the law (Matthew 5:17-20)

A. He affirmed the Laws given to Moses (not traditions of Elders)

B. He affirmed the Prophets who held to the Law

C. He clarified the “spirit of the Law” (5:21-30)

Discussion: “Why is it important that Jesus affirmed the Old Testament laws?”

II. Jesus fulfilled the law (Matthew 5:17-20)

A. From the beginning He modeled the Law (Luke 2:21, 39 etc.)

B. His humanity made the process real not superficial

C. He succeeded even in things we rationalize (Matthew 4:1-11)

Discussion: “What does Jesus’ endorsement of the Law say about sin?”

III. Our righteousness should surpass the Pharisees (Mathew 5:17-20)

A. Our righteousness comes from Christ (Philippians 3:8-9)

B. Our righteousness is not for show (Matthew 6:16)

C. Our righteousness should point people to Christ (Colossians 1:27-29)

Discussion: “How can our life in Christ surpass the Pharisees’ meticulous attention-to-detail?”

For the week: In your daily routine, consider where the “spirit of the Law” is still applicable, even if the specific Hebrew laws are not.

_______________________

Session 11 – “Do Not Covet”

For this lesson, I’m asking three questions about covetousness, “What is it?”, “What does is cause?” and “What is the antidote?”

Opening Discussion: “What are some modern objects of a covetous heart?”

I. Coveting is forbidden; what is it? (Deut. 5:21)

A. A desire to have or to want intensely…

B. Is rooted in a discontentment with God and His provision

Discussion: “How do we attempt to rationalize covetous desires?”

II. Coveting is forbidden; what does it cause? (Luke 12:13-21)

A. A loss of eternal perspective (focused on self-David example, 2 Sam. 11)

B. Broken relationships (Lost son parable Luke 15)

C. Ripple effects afterward (unintended consequences, David example continued)

Discussion: “How have you seen this play out in real-life examples?”

III. Coveting is forbidden; what’s the antidote? (Phil. 4:10-14)

A. Transformation (starting with salvation)

B. Decision/prayer to be content (as Paul mentions)

C. Growing gratitude and generosity

Discussion: “How are spiritual maturity and contentment connected?”

For the week: Think about the difference between being discontent and being righteously discontent. In other words, what areas should we “want more” and what areas should we be “satisfied”?

_______________________

Session 10 – “Do Not Lie”

This lesson has great components, but I’m organizing them a little different than written. My approach will be to start with the commandment, moving to personal truthfulness, then to corporate (the local church) truthfulness.

Opening Discussion: “Can you name any well-known people who were exposed as liars? What are some thoughts you had about them at that point?”

I. God forbids us to bear false witness (Deut. 5:20)

A. Stretching the truth (embellishment stuff)

B. White lies (“harmless” stuff)

C. Intentional deception (rotten scoundrel stuff)

Discussion: “How do we see examples of these in our daily life?”

II. We are to be people of truth: personally (John 1:14-18, 16:13)

As followers of Christ, we first must look to His personal model

A. Grace and truth go together

B. We are to be truthful with ourselves (real mirrors)

C. We are to be truthful with those close to us (an environment of truth)

Discussion: “What are some results from succeeding/failing in these areas?”

III. We are to be people of truth: corporately (Col. 3:9-10, Ephesians 4:14-15)

A. Church should be an environment of truth (and grace)

B. We should expect truthfulness from leaders

C. We should be truthful as members

Discussion: “As a church, what are some results from succeeding/failing in these areas?”

For the week: Consider your interaction with others and commit to modeling truth and grace (taking special note of the casual embellishment/white lie stuff)

____________________________

Session 9 – “Do Not Steal”

I like the opening illustration and plan to use it along with the points as written.

Opening Discussion: “Concerning the “file-sharing” issue, were the record labels/artists right or wrong? Why?”

I. God forbids us to take something that doesn’t belong to us (Deut. 5:19)

A. Stealing is self-centered

B. Stealing rejects God’s authority

Discussion: “How is wealth-redistribution programs/agendas connected to this?”

II. Stealing extends to dishonest dealings with others (Deut. 25:13-16)

A. When we’re in charge of others

B. Our own efforts at work

C. Paying taxes

D. Giving proper credit to others’ work/effort/skills

Discussion: “Have you ever witnessed problems in one of these areas? Ever had to make adjustments yourself in one of these areas?”

III. In Christ, we are given new hearts with a desire to give, not take (Luke 19:1-10)

Through transformation we can:

  • Recognize God’s generosity
  • Experience contentment (Phil. 4:11-12)
  • Live generously toward others

Discussion: “What are some things that can negatively influence these attitudes?”

For the week: Consider the places you are in a position of steward (work, money, relationships, etc.) and ask yourself if you’re doing/handling them “as to the Lord” (Col. 3:17 & 23).

______________________

Session 8 – “Do Not Commit Adultery”

Similar to session 7, this lesson seems simple, but complexity is under the surface. It’s not about cultural rationale, but what’s right/wrong according to God’s definition.

Opening Discussion: “What are some common elements and phrases found in wedding vows?”

I. Why does God forbid adultery? (Deut. 5:18)

A. It goes against the original design

B. It removes the option (for when trouble comes)

C. It does personal harm to others (the spouse(s), children)

Discussion: “How do these things illustrate God’s view of marriage?”

II. The consequences of breaking the commandment (Proverbs 6:20-29)

A. Slippery slope:

  • The spark
  • The fire
  • The ashes

B. Cheapening of the institution and sex

C. Personal loss to self and others

Discussion: “What are some ways you see a “cheapening” of sex and marriage?”

III. The solution to a lustful heart? (Matthew 5:27-30)

A. Heart transformation (forgiveness)

B. Healthy boundaries (media, relationships, etc.)

C. Correct understanding of real beauty (Proverbs 31:30)

Discussion: “What are some ways to identify and/or address weak spots?”

For the week: Thank the Lord each day for different specific things you’re grateful for regarding your spouse.

_______________________

Session 7 – “Do Not Murder”

Even though this lesson seems simple, there’s complexity under the surface. The pacifist will say, “All killing is wrong” and dodge the question, but the key is like all other moral questions; what’s right/wrong according to God’s definition?

Opening Discussion: “What factors should determine the value of a person’s life?”

I. What is murder? (Deut. 5:17, Genesis 9:6)

A. Killing versus murder (both end life)

B. Killing that isn’t murder

  • Self-Defense
  • Capital Punishment
  • Just War

Discussion: “How can we describe this in simple conversational terms?”

II. The source of murder (Matthew 5:21-22)

A. Motive behind the act

B. The end-goal isn’t pure

C. It’s an attack on God Himself (His image in us)

Discussion: “Why is it important to understand the motive aspect?”

III. What’s the solution for a murderous attitude? (1 John 3:10-15)

A. Forgiveness (receiving and giving)

B. Seeing life as the gift it is

C. Embracing the definition God has given (law/punishment, though it’s imperfect)

Discussion: “How do we get angry without sinning (Ephesians 4:26)?”

For the week: Look for ways to appreciate life and consider the fact that we are all made in the image of God (those redeemed and those still yet redeemable).

_______________________

Session 6 – “Honor Your Parents”

With a mixture of ideas abounding in our culture regarding family, this lesson is a great time to talk about some biblical principles concerning roles and respect. I’m going with the lesson points and including a 4th one (reflecting the bolded phrases on page 75 of the book).

Opening Discussion: “What images come to mind regarding parenthood (as a parent now or looking back as a child)?”

I. Respect the authority God has given to your parents (Deut. 5:16)

A. We’re honoring God when we honor our parents

B. Honorable obedience includes the attitude

C. Seeking and listening to their counsel is healthy respect

Discussion: “What are some blessings that come honoring our parents?”

II. Remember your responsibility to bring joy to those who gave you life (Proverbs 23:22-25)

A. Appreciate them when they’re older

B. Care for them as needed

C. Give thanks for them

Discussion: “How does/should the gospel impact the way we care for our parents?”

III. Remember to demonstrate honorable parenting

A. Teach them the way of the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

B. Discipline them (Proverbs 3:12-13, 13:24)

C. Provide for them (Matthew 7:9-11)

Discussion: “How does/should the gospel impact the way we parent?”

IV. Reflect the Savior who honored His mother and father perfectly (John 19:25-27)

A. He loved them

B. He was submissive to them (Luke 2:51)

C. He was concerned for His mother’s care

Discussion: “What can we learn from Christ’s example concerning His parents?”

For the week: Take a few moments to talk to your parents (if living) and let them know you love and appreciate them. Also, discuss with your children some of the “whys” of this lesson regarding your relationship with them.

______________________

Special Session – “Christian Citizens”

The discussion of government and politics in Bible study can be a minefield of opinion and emotion. My goal with this lesson is to stay close to the scripture for productive conversation. Otherwise, one opinion is going to be as good as another.

Opening Question: “How would you define the “proper role of government”?

I. Governments exist to steward God’s delegated authority (Romans 13:1-4)

A. To punish evil within

B. To protect from evil without

C. To promote what is good

Discussion: “What are some obstacles and hindrances that prevent a government from properly carrying out its role?”

II. Christians are called of God to live under governmental authority (Rom. 13:5-7)

A. Submission involves the will

B. Taxes are to be paid

C. Showing respect honors God (not necessarily the person receiving it)

Discussion: “How can honorable submission testify to your faith in Christ?”

III. Christian citizens are to be motivated by kingdom purposes (I Timothy 2:1-4)

A. Pray for leaders at all levels

B. Salvation is the primary goal

C. Obedience is subject to biblical truth

Discussion: “What issues of today may cause a believer to respectfully disobey their government?”

For the week: Commit to pray specifically regarding kingdom purpose for our leaders over the next 7 days (local, state and national)

______________________

Session 5 – “Living for the Weekend”

The more I’ve studied this lesson, the more I’m inclined to change the wording of the point titles. It’s a great lesson and I don’t disagree with the titles, but the key question for me is, “What is the Sabbath now?” To answer, I need to spend more time looking at the larger context, noting specifically Genesis (pre-Israel) and Acts (early church).

I. Sabbath means to “stop” or “cease” (Genesis 2:2, Deut. 5:13-14)

A. A rhythm God built in from the start (from the very first week)

B. For the Hebrews there was 7th year crop rest and Jubilee rest/reset (7×7 years)

C. Sleep is a built-in form of “cease”

D. “Selah” in the Psalms is a form of “cease”

Discussion: “Since we see a clear pattern of “cease” built-in from the start, what does it say about us when we have very little “cease” going on in our lives?”

II. Sabbath is a time set-apart (sanctified) (Genesis 2:3, Deut. 5:12)

A. God blessed the 7th day and declared it Holy (from the start)

B. Jesus’ teaching/resurrection (Sunday-The Lord’s Day) clarified the principle of “Sabbath” moving forward (Mark 2:23-24)

C. It’s a form of offering to the Lord (foregoing work opportunities)

Discussion: “Since the Sabbath has always been about a time set apart for worship, how should we view the day we generally practice it (Sunday)?”

III. Sabbath is a time to reflect (Deut. 5:15)

A. “Remembrance” is a major theme throughout the scriptures

B. The early church took advantage of both Sabbath and Sunday to reflect/discuss (Acts 15:21, 16:13, 18:4, Revelation 1:10)

C. Not legalism, but specific reflections and purpose (Hebrews 10:25, Romans 14:5-8)

Discussion: “Other than our time at church services, how does this apply?”
For the week: Observe the rhythm of your week and evaluate/pray about “cease”.

______________________

Session 4 – “God Must Be Honored”

I’m planning to use 4 points instead of 3 to separate the last one into forgiveness and mission. I’m going to start by writing various famous names on the board (one at a time) and get the groups reaction to each (to display the association of name-to-person).

I. God’s name is worthy of all honor (Deuteronomy 5:11)

A. God’s name is personal and represents His character

B. God’s name is precious (there is only one God)

Discussion: “Why is God so serious about the use of His name?”

II. God will not overlook blasphemy of His name (Leviticus 24:10-16. 23)

3 Categories of Misusing God’s Name

A. Using His name flippantly (careless)

B. Using His name untruthfully (misrepresenting Him)

C. Using His name hypocritically (actions not worthy of the Name)

Discussion: “What are some examples you’ve witnessed and how can we deepen our respect for God’s name?”

III. In Christ, we have forgiveness for blasphemy (1 Timothy 1:12-17)

A. Blasphemy isn’t necessarily verbal (as a Pharisee Paul didn’t curse God verbally)

B. We’re reconciled from enemy/blasphemers to God (Romans 5:10)

IV. We are to honor His name and make it known (Luke 11:2, Acts 4:12)

A. We’re to be mindful of wearing His name on our life (2 Corinthians 5:20)

B. We’re to help others know specifically what that means

Discussion:What are some specific ways we can properly honor God’s name in our daily life?”

For the week: Think about your name. If the people who know you best were asked what you’re name represented to them, how would they answer?”

______________________

Session 3 – “God Cannot Be Improved”

Recently, I visited an Ivy League university. It struck me how the language inscribed on the old statues were scripture passages and strong verbiage revealing times when God was feared by institution leaders. Today, the leaders of the very same university use a much more “progressive” tone in their description of God and His character.

Opening Discussion: “What’s the danger of relying more on personal feelings and experience to describe God, than the scriptures?”

I. God is jealous for our worship (Deut. 5:8-10)

A. God defines Himself (not the other way around) (Ex. 3:14)

B. Our preferences don’t change Him (He’s unchanging-Malachi 3:6)

C. God demands to be correctly worshipped (in spirit-John 4:24)

Discussion: “Based on verses 9-10, what can a careless and casual allegiance lead to?”

II. Idols are a distorted view of God (Exodus 32:1-4)

A. It’s an attempt to control

B. It’s an attempt to reflect human ideals

C. It’s an attempt to validate wrong behavior

Discussion: “Are there any parallels in modern Christianity that mirror this?”

III. Idolatry corrupts our behavior (Exodus 32:5-8)

A. We equate His holiness to the same level as ours

B. We move our desires to the forefront

C. We view our opinions as superior

Discussion: “How does our view of God affect our interaction with others?”

For the week: Consider your view of God. Is it based on scripture? Is it balanced between His many attributes? Pray for balance and how you communicate His message to others.

_______________________

Session 2 – “No Other Gods”

I like the idea of spending time developing discussion around the essential nature of the first commandment. I’ve tweaked the titles some to fit the way I’m presenting; starting off with this:

Opening Discussion: “In your life (or others you know), what are some examples of a bad choice that led to more bad choices?”

I. God declares his love through a covenant relationship (Deut. 5:1-6)

A. He was willing to be officially tied to them

B. He clarified His expectations

C. He made specific promises to them (Exodus 19:5)

Discussion: “What does God’s covenant with the Hebrews, teach us regarding His part of a relationship through Christ now?”

II. God deserves to have first place in our lives (Deut. 5:7)

A. He’s not number 1 ahead of others

B. It’s for our best to worship Him only

C. It’s more than “compartmental” obedience (Ezekiel 33:30-33)

Discussion: “Based on the Ezekiel 33:30-33 verses, what are some modern day examples of “hearing but not doing”?”

III. God defines worship worthiness (Deut. 5:22-31)

The Hebrews recognized God’s:

A. Majesty-through lightning, thunder, earthquakes (like the throne room)

B. Power-supernatural, powerful deliverance from Egypt

C. Holiness-there was immediate recognition of purity and perfection

Discussion: “When we pause to truly consider God’s worthiness, how does it affect our prayer and communication to Him?”

For the week: As you go, think about how you would engage someone in conversation who tries to live by the Ten Commandments instead of trusting Christ (and pray for opportunity to share with them).

______________________

Session 1 – “The Loving Lawgiver”

I didn’t prepare notes for this lesson, sorry.

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