The Gospel Project Vol. VII

Notes Journal

Volume VII (Spring 2014)

Session 13 – “Washed Robes”

Based on the scripture chosen for this lesson, I’m approaching it a little different than the writer (especially points 2 & 3). My main question while preparing is, “How should glimpses of home in the future, affect our attitude here now?” This is how I’ll start:

Opening Discussion: “Have you ever been away from home in a different context and received a letter, call or text that jars you back to the realization of family connections, friendships and upbringing? In other words, the interaction contrasts the culture of “where you are” with “who you are”? How did it affect you?”

I. The slain Lamb is worthy of all worship (Revelation 5:6-10)

A. The only One (including OT/NT saints) worthy to take the scroll (Revelation 5:1-5)

B. The highest levels of creation humbly worship (v.8)

C. The prayers of all the saints are poured out as incense (v.8)

D. There is declaration of His majesty and victory (v.9)

Discussion: “What does this future picture teach us about our personal time with God now?”

II. The Lamb cleanses all who trust in Him (Revelation 7:9-17)

*Note: Although these verses speak of a very specific group in the future, we can connect the principles of Christ’s nature to current life

A. The redemption of Christ is available to all (John 3:16)

B. The main goal is for people to be redeemed (even up to the last moments) (v. 14)

C. His nature is a shepherding heart (love, protection and provision) (v.16-17)

Discussion: “Based on what you see in the passages so far, how would you describe Jesus to someone?”

III. The Lamb is preparing a city for those He cleanses (Revelation 22:12-17)

A. The word “quickly”, means “suddenly” (nature of the event more than timing)

B. Home will be empty of the lies, wrongs, and evil of this world (v.15)

C. The invitation is strong and passionate for all who will, “Come!” (v.17)

Discussion: “Do you sense the finality and urgency? What does that mean for us now as we live our lives?”

For the week: These verses reveal powerful images of Jesus and the events to come. This week, take a moment to prayerfully ponder the reality of what it means in the future and today while living as His disciple.

______________________

Session 12 – “Atonement-Driven Life”

In his commentary on Hebrews 10, Warren Wiersbe refers to verses 19-25 as a “three-fold invitation” (based on the “Let us” phrases). I really like the application value of the description, so I’ve chosen to go with them for the main points.

Opening Discussion: “When a person earns a diploma, he/she doesn’t have to walk in the ceremony to benefit from the new credentials. However, what does it mean to be a full participant in the ceremonies?”

I. Let us draw near… (Hebrews 10:19-22)

A. With boldness (confidence)

B. To the holiest place (once reserved for only a few)

C. In full assurance of faith (hearts sprinkled, not trusting in ritual)

Discussion: “If God invites us to be near, what does that say of His thoughts toward us?”

II. Let us hold fast… (Hebrews 10:23)

A. To something specific; hope specifically in Christ

B. In an unwavering manner (not hot/cold)

C. Relying on His faithfulness (not ours)

Discussion: “What difference does it make for a person to have hope for the future or not?”

III. Let us be concerned… (Hebrews 10:24-25)

A. Promote love and good works

B. Gathering together regularly

C. Encouraging each other

Discussion: “How do these instructions relate to personal responsibility in a church?”

For the week: Think about what it means for you to be a full participant in God’s work going on in your circle of influence.

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Session 11 – “The Bread of Life”

Opening Discussion: “Hunger is a powerful thing. What are some examples of the lengths people will go to satisfy hunger?”

I. The bread was God’s provision (John 6:22-40)

A. God gave manna freely (to the righteous and unrighteous) (v. 31-32, Ex.16)

B. Jesus gave bread freely (to everyone present, not just true followers) (John 6:5-13)

C. Both provisions were perishable (manna and bread)

Discussion: “What does this demonstrate about God’s character and what can we learn from it?”

II. The Bread is God’s provision (John 6:23-59)

A. Jesus offers Himself freely to all (v.40 & 47)

B. Jesus’ provision is imperishable (v.50-51)

C. Believing is the key ingredient (v.29, 40 & 47)

Discussion: “What does it mean to move from partaking of the free bread to partaking of the Giver of the bread?”

III. The Bread wasn’t received by everyone (John 6:60 & 66)

A. Some never crossed over to Capernaum to begin with

B. Some heard, but still misunderstood (v.60)

C. Many turned away after the teaching got more difficult (v.66)

Discussion: “What does the misunderstanding and/or turning away look like in our modern setting?”

For the week: Consider your spiritual appetite. What do you hunger for and are you satisfied?

_____________________

Session 10 – “Behold the Lamb!”

Opening Discussion: “There are many titles for Jesus; Savior, Lamb of God, Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Good Shepherd, The Vine, The Door, The Alpha and Omega and others. What is your favorite and why?”

I. Jesus is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29-30)

A. Sin of the world (not just Jews) (v.29)

B. Surpassed me (ranks higher) (v.30)

Discussion: “How was pride a potential problem for John? For others looking for the Messiah?”

II. Jesus is the Lamb who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (John 1:31-34)

A. Baptism with water (a getting serious as a Jew baptism) (v.33)

B. Baptism with the Holy Spirit (a changed heart/life baptism) (v.33)

Discussion: “What are the benefits of being baptized in Christ, compared to John’s baptism?”

III. Jesus is the Lamb who calls people to a life of discipleship (John 1:35-42)

A. Follow; to be a disciple (like Him) (v.37, 40)

B. Identity; a new name Cephas (Aramaic) Petros (Greek) (v. 42)

Discussion: “How should our identity in Christ affect daily choices?”

For the week: Pray for an opportunity to discuss with someone what it means to follow Jesus as a disciple (either sharing with a non-believer, or challenging/being challenged by another believer.

____________________

Session 9 – “Wounded for You”

4/23/14 – I’m choosing to start with verses 21-23 of 1 Peter and ending with verses 24-25 (looking at Isaiah passages in between). As I often do, I’ve tweaked the point titles and narrowed the amount of Isaiah texts I’ll actually read in class. To begin, I’ll use a brief discussion on Old Testament heroes to set up a later comparison/contrast with Jesus.

Opening Discussion: “Who are some heroes of the Old Testament? What were their strengths and weaknesses?”

I. The Servant suffered the consequences of sin (1Peter 2:21-23, Isaiah 53:3-6)

A. He suffered for us (v.21)
B. He committed no sin (v.22)
C. He did not reciprocate evil for evil (v.23)

Discussion: “What does the nature and level of punishment reveal to us about sin?”

II. The Servant achieved victory (Isaiah 53:10-12)

A. The LORD was pleased to crush Him (v.10)
B. He was counted among the rebels (transgressors-NKJV) (v.12)
C. My righteous Servant will justify many (v.11)

Discussion: “What’s the connection between “the LORD was pleased to crush Him” and Hebrews 12:2 “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross”?”

III. The Servant is our basis and model for service (1 Peter 2:24-25)

A. We are to die to sin and live for righteousness (v.24 while mentioning 2:1-20)
B. We are healed by His wounds (scars maybe, but healed nonetheless) (v.24)
C. We are to follow His model (v.21)

Discussion: “What can get in the way of “following His model” and how should we address it?”

For the week: From books to movies, “heroes” are numerous; as you encounter them, think about their comparison to Jesus’ model of a hero.

_____________________

Session 8 – “The Sign of Jonah”

4/20/14 – For Easter Sunday, I’m using the occasion to celebrate Christ’s resurrection by each one in the class sharing (in smaller discussion circles) a BRIEF (3-5 minute) testimony of how they came to Christ. After the testimony time, I’m leading an abbreviated lesson focused on the Matthew passage and Jonah 3:1-10.

Opening Discussion: “If you had to identify the main point of the Jonah story, what would it be?”

An evil and adulterous generation (Matt. 12:38-45, but describing the overall passage and context as follows)

A. The crowd is gathered and brings a possessed man to Jesus (v.22)
B. Could this be the Son of David (wrong expectations)? (v.23)
C. Pharisees respond with accusation, Jesus responds (v.25-30)
D. Jesus says blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable (unrepentant attitude) (v.31)
E. A tree is known by its fruit (v.33-37)
F. Read text: Matthew 12:38-45, and Jonah 3:1-10
G. Jesus’ message was consistent from the beginning, “Repent” (Matt. 4:17)

Closing Discussion: “What are the implications of Jesus saying to the group that the Ninevites will judge them? What are the implications for us?” (Referencing the testimony time and possible salvation opportunities)

____________________

Session 7 – “Look and Live!”

4/11/14 – I’m choosing to use a personal story/illustration as an opening, instead of the Pandora story. I’ll be using the same scripture passages, but have tweaked the titles.

I. Israel realized the scope of their sin and were saved (Numbers 21:4-9)

A. The accusations-

  • Moses brought them to die in the wilderness (not true)
  • There was no bread and water (not true)

B. The results of their sin (there are always consequences)

C. The Lord’s healing came individually

  • It involved two kinds of looking (ra’ah and nabat)
  • It moved from “we” v.7 to “me” v.9

Discussion: “What is significant about the Lord healing them individually?”

II. We must realize the scope of our sin to be saved (John 3:14-18)

A. We are already condemned (v.18)

B. The remedy reflects the problem (v.14)

C. Salvation requires a response (v.16)

D. All who respond are saved (v.16, 18)

Discussion: “Why is the cross so central to the gospel? What’s the danger of attempting to share a “gospel” without including the cross?”

III. Our mission is to help others realize and receive salvation (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)

A. We are ambassadors for Christ (on His mission)

B. It’s His message (we didn’t originate it)

C. The Sender wants a faithful envoy and a response from the recipient (whether we like them or not)

Discussion: “As an Ambassador, what is my primary function?”

For the week: Think about this question, “If we had to report our activities as an Ambassador each month, what would it describe?”

______________________

Session 6 – “Water from the Rock”

4/3/14 – Similar to the way Jesus moved conversations about the Law and Old Testament figures to conversations concerning the heart, Paul does the with the attitude of the Hebrews in the wilderness. With disgruntled spirits being an issue in our culture and churches, it’s very productive to talk about where that comes from. I’ve combined the Exodus passage to build a more cohesive thought around God’s character (and their questioning of it), and expanded the Corinthians text to include verses 7-14 in order to pick up the specific OT examples mentioned. I’ll start with this:

Opening Question: “What are some ways you would describe a person who is discontent?”

I. Israel questioned God’s character (Exodus 17:1-7)

A. What they had experienced so far

  • Powerful delivery from Egypt (plagues, death and wealth reduction)
  • Parting of the Red Sea (and destruction of Pharaoh’s army) (Ex.14)
  • Bitter water turned sweet (Ex. 15:22-27)
  • Manna each day for food (Ex. 16)

B. What they were saying

  • “Give us water to drink” (v.2)
  • “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us?” (v.3)

C. What God did

  • He answered
  • He called out the Elders
  • He instructed for the rod to be used (it reminded them of previous action)
  • He stood before them on the rock (in their midst, giving provision)
  • He showed mercy

Discussion: “Did the challenging circumstances cause a disgruntled attitude for the Hebrews or simply reveal what was already there? How about for us when we display discontent?”

II. Christ is our spiritual Rock of provision (1 Cor. 10:1-14)

A. Paul’s references to the group in the wilderness

  • They knew God’s provision (baptized with Moses, same food, etc.) (v.2-4)
  • Christ was the Rock (even then) (v.4)
  • God was not pleased with them (v.5)
  • The are examples to us v.6)
  • They became idolaters (v.7)
  • 23,000 dying after pagan immorality (v.8)
  • Serpents sent after complaints, many die (v.9)
  • 10 spies die by the plague (destroyer) (v.10)

B. Paul’s challenge

  • Christ is the Rock
  • Think clearly, be warned about temptation (v.12)
  • Remember their example (v.11)
  • Remember, God is faithful (v.13)
  • “Therefore”, flee idolatry (v.14)

Discussion: “We don’t struggle with the temptations to worship stone idols, but idolatry is still an issue. What do those challenges look like for us in modern culture? How do we successfully deal with it?”

For the week: Think and pray about the attitude you’re displaying this week. Look for a specific way to display one of thanks and contentment.

______________________

Session 5 – “Sacrifices (Part 2)”

3/26/14 – Like Part 1, I’m continuing with a two-part look at each point (Old Testament compared to New Testament). First, I plan to briefly recap the points from Session 4 and then mention that we’re moving toward 2 points involving confession. I’ve tweaked the point titles for this session (similar to last session) and I’ll spend more time in Leviticus 6:1-7, than 5:14-19.

Opening Question: “What are some symptoms of an unsettled conscience?”

I. Atonement enables purity (Leviticus 5:1-13)

A. Then (Old Testament)
– Bears guilt (even when unintentional) (v.2)
– Withheld evidence or testimony (v.1)
– Touching something unclean (v.2)
– Speaking rashly (v.4)

B. Now (New Testament)
– Daily confession (I John 1:7-10)
– Daily renewal (Romans 12:1-2)
– Daily preparation (Philippians 4:8)

Discussion: “What’s the difference between walking in “purity” and walking in “perfection”? How about when it involves other people’s impurity?”

II. Atonement enables a clear conscience (Leviticus 5:14-19, 6:1-7)

A. Then (Old Testament)
– Bears guilt (even when unintentional) (5:15)
– Sin toward Holy Things (5:15)
– Lying, stealing etc. (6:1-3)
– Restitution was required (6:4-5)

B. Now (New Testament)
– Be proactive (Romans 12:17-21)
– Make things right (Matthew 5:23-24)
– Experience peace (Hebrews 9:13-14)

Discussion: “How specifically does a clean/unclean conscience affect our relationship with the Lord and our service to Him?”

For the week: Spend some time praying through the question of, “Is there anything unsettled in my conscience and/or hindering me from service?”

Additional Resource: For an easy-to-use PDF grid comparing OT sacrifices to N T verses, click here

____________________

Session 4 – “Sacrifices (Part 1)”

3/19/14 – I’m approaching this lesson with a two-part focus under each point (Old Testament compared to New Testament) and I’ve tweaked the point titles. To set-up discussion on the “sweet-smelling aroma”, I’m starting off with a question on “smells” and the positive memories/thoughts they provoke:

Opening Question: “What are some of your favorite smells? (time allowed for response) What do they remind you of?”

I.  Atonement enables the removal of guilt (Leviticus 1:3-9)

A. Then (Old Testament)

      – Sin was present (atonement for him v.4)

      – Sin was transferred (laying hands on v. 4)

      – Sin was removed (burned completely v.9)

B. Now (New Testament) – (Hebrews 9:12)

      – Sin is present (Romans 3:23)

      – Sin is transferred (Hebrews 9:28)

      – Sin is removed (1 John 1:9)

Discussion: “In Ephesians 5:2, Paul describes Jesus’ sacrifice as “a sweet-smelling aroma”. How does that apply to “living out” your faith?”

II. Atonement enables thanksgiving and service (Leviticus 2:1-3)

A. Then (OT) – After the sin offering, a voluntary offering to express gratitude

      – The flour was fine quality

      – The frankincense represented prayer  

      – The oil represented the presence of the Holy Spirit   

B. Now (NT) – (Colossians 3:17)

      – Our gifts should be fine quality

      – Our gifts should be prayerful

      – Our gifts should include the presence/leading of the Holy Spirit

Discussion: “What do you think “doing all in the name of the Lord” specifically looks like in daily life?”

III. Atonement enables a relationship with God (Leviticus 3:1-5)

A. Then (OT)

      – “Peace” and “Fellowship” was with God

      – “Peace” and “Fellowship” included others (a feast)

B.  Now (NT) – (Ephesians 2:13)

      – “Peace” and “Fellowship” is with God

      – “Peace” and “Fellowship” includes others (an attitude of a daily feast)

Discussion: “What does a lifestyle of living “at peace with God” and “at peace with others” look like (Hint: Romans 12:1)?”

For the week: Think and pray about what kind of “aroma” your life presents to those near you and the level of thankfulness displayed.

Additional Resource: For an easy-to-use PDF grid comparing OT sacrifices to N T verses, click here

__________________

Session 3 – “When I See the Blood”

3/13/14 – With this lesson, I’m choosing to change the points to reflect the order of the scripture (starting with verse 1, instead of 12), while also combining verses 1-14 into the first point (I’ve also adjusted the point titles to reflect the change). Additionally, I’m starting with a discussion on judgment instead of blood:

Opening Question: “When you hear the phrase “The Judgment of God”, what do you think about?”

I.  God’s judgment requires blood (Exodus 12:1-14, Hebrews 9:22)

A. God gave clear direction for atonement (to be displayed publicly)

B. The lamb was observed for 4 days to insure no blemishes

C. The lamb’s death saved the people, not its mere presence

Discussion: “It was the presence of the blood that saved the people.  Where does faith fit into the picture?”

II. God’s judgment is absolute (Exodus 12:29-30)

A. Judgment on Egypt was pronounced years earlier (Genesis 15:14)

B. God’s judgment was carried out to the detail

C. Afterwards, there was no undoing the results

Discussion: “What does this story demonstrate about God’s promises?”

III. God’s judgment and provision extends to us (Ephesians 1:7-8)

A. We are all under judgment (Romans 3:23)

B. Jesus proved to be the perfect unblemished sacrifice (2 Corinthians 5:21)

C. God made a way for us to escape judgment (Romans 5:8)

Discussion: “What does the Passover story and Jesus’ work on the cross reveal to us about God’s righteousness and provision?”

For the week: Begin to think about who you can pray for and invite to church on Easter Sunday.

______________________

Session 2 – “The Lord Will Provide”

3/8/14 – Similar to the previous lesson’s discussion of shame, our efforts to earn God’s acceptance is an important subject to start with to set up the later questions. This is the one I’m using:

Opening Question: “What are some ways we attempt to make ourselves acceptable to God (before and after salvation)?”

I.  God requires sacrifice according to His standard (Gen. 22:1-6)

A. The purpose was to test and reveal (v.1, James 1:13)

B. It was personal and unique to Abraham

C. Other people were also involved and affected

Discussion: “How is testing similar/different compared to temptation?”

II. God makes provision for His standard to be met (Gen. 22:7-14)

A. Isaac asked, “Where’s the lamb?” based on experience (v.7)

B. Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide…” based on experience (v.8)

C. God provided what was needed at just the right time (v.13)

Discussion: “Since a sacrifice still needed to be made, what does God’s provision of the lamb represent to you?”

III. Faith is trusting God and His provision (Gen. 15:6, Heb. 11:17-19)

A. Abraham trusted God as a Person (Gen. 15:6)

B. Abraham followed God’s instructions (Heb. 11:17)

C. Abraham considered God to be in charge (Heb. 11:19)

Discussion: “Based on Hebrews 11:1, what are some ways that faith is/should be “evidenced” in our life?”

For the week: Consider John 3:16 fresh and new this week; and how it’s not only to communicate the Gospel, but a model and guide for us to love others.

___________________

Session 1 – “Garden Covering”

2/27/14 – I like the idea of pointing out the “atonement thread” running through the Bible, but I prefer to illustrate it by describing a tapestry (the unraveling sweater thing doesn’t work for me). I’ve tweaked the point titles and will be launching the conversation with the following question:

Opening Question: “What are the benefits of studying the Bible with a central/overall theme in mind?”

I. We were created without shame (Genesis 2:25)

A. There was innocence in their words and actions

B. There was a relationship with God

C. There was trust between people and toward God

Discussion: “What does this picture of the garden reveal about God’s original purpose for mankind?”

II. Our sin results in shame (Genesis 3:6-13, 3:23)

A. There is loss of innocence in words, actions and thoughts

B. There is a broken relationship with God

C. There is a lack of trust between people and toward God

Discussion: “In what ways do we still try to “hide and cover ourselves”, regarding God and people?”

III. In Christ we are without shame

A. God covered Adam & Eve’s shame (Genesis 3:21)

B. God covered Israel’s shame (Isaiah 54:4-5)

C. God covers our shame (Romans 10:9-13)

Discussion: “Since Jesus bore our sin and shame on the cross, what kind of relationship can we have with God through Christ?”

For the week: Think about the concept of ashamed/unashamed and how one can live an unashamed life before God (1 John 2:28)

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