Stay At Home Study Guide- Psalm 5

Background:
This is a Psalm of David

Passage Summary:

  • Psalms 5:1-2: Here we find a plea for God’s presence and activity in the midst of affliction, a plea that appeals to the care, compassion, and love of God

  • Psalm 5:3: 5:3a This is a personal affirmation that God does indeed hear David // 5:3b – “prepare a sacrifice” and “watch”: The faithful and expectant prayer is a “sacrifice” of worship to God; The one who has faith in the faithfulness of God waits and watches with expectancy for her deliverance

  • Psalms 5:4-6: These verses describe the righteousness of God, and they appeal to the justice of God in the face of evil

  • Psalms 5:7-8: These Psalms display the confidence of the righteous before God, a confidence which is always predicated on the “steadfast love” of God // In contrast to the wicked who persecute him, David prays that God would lead him down the path of righteousness

  • Psalms 5:9-10: This is a prayer for retributive justice

  • Psalms 5:11-12: 5:11 David hopes and prays that those who seek the Lord would

    experience his joy, care, and protection // The Psalm ends with an affirmation that God does indeed bless those who seek after his righteousness

    Discussion Questions:

    1. How important do you think it is to recognize the care and compassion of God when you pray? 2. What is the basis of our “expectancy” when we pray? What do you think is the difference between a healthy and unhealthy expectancy in prayer? 3. As Christians who are centered on the cross of Christ, how do you think we should balance justice and mercy in our prayer lives? 4. Based on the full witness of Scripture, do you think God hates evil people or evil habits, characteristics, and actions? 5. When you pray in the midst of difficulty, are you able to find confidence in God that is rooted in his love for you? 6. How can focusing on doing what is right in God’s eyes help us in times of persecution and hostility? 7. Do you believe that God is on your sidewhen you face different afflictions from unrighteous people? Do you believe that, at the end of the day, your righteousness (though not without sin) will be blessed by God?

    Cheat Sheet:

    (1) subjective answer // (2) the faithfulness of God and his provisions throughout our lives; healthy expectancy: believing that God will ultimately provide for you in his timing and his way; unhealthy expectancy: believing that God will provide for you in your timing and your way // (3) we pray for both—not just for justice or vengeance [Jesus commanded us to “love our enemies” and to “pray for those who persecute us”]; there is a time for justice and there is a time for mercy, but James declares that “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13) // (4) Jesus

commands his followers to love their enemies because God loves his enemies; God hates ungodly character not ungodly people // (5) subjective answer // (6) It centers us on what God thinks about us rather than what others think about us, and it gives us confidence that we are in the righteousness of God even when others might hate us // (7) subjective answers


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Stay At Home Study Guide- Heavenly Calling

Stay-At-Home Study Guide: Hebrews 3:1

Background Information:

  • The author of Hebrews is writing to a church community that had endured great persecution

  • The author is writing in order to encourage this community to persevere in the faith

  • More specificallyin the midst of their many trials and tribulations, in the midst of

    intense confusion and chaosthe author of Hebrews is calling his audience to focus on Christ, “the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).

    Key Verses:

  • Heb 10:32-34: Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

  • Hebrews 3:1: Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.

    Discussion Questions:

    1. What do you think it means to ground your identity in Christ? What does this entail? 2. How do you think focusing on Christ and grounding your identity in Christ help in times of crises and confusion? 3. How would you define our general heavenly calling? 4. How do we begin to put these things into practice right now?

    Cheat Sheet:

    (1) example: I am forgiven, reconciled to God, loved unconditionally, the apple of “God’s eye,” redeemed, adopted into the family of God, an inheritor of the everlasting, eternal gifts and benefits of God’s family, hidden in Christ, united with Christ, dead [to sin] and alive [to newness of life] in Christ, risen and exalted and glorified in Christ // (2) in the midst of temporal and fleeting trials and difficulties, it grounds us in something objective, absolute, unchanging, eternal, everlasting // (3) our calling is to be like Christ to endure suffering patiently, to carry our crosses, to persevere in faith and hope, to love people and love God, to forgive others in the same way that we have received forgiveness, to do the will of our Father in heaven and work for his pleasure alone, to promote justice, mercy, faithfulness, peace, and love in the midst of hostility, to preach the gospel, to make disciples, etc. // (4) subjective answer


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Stay At Home Study Guide- Feast of Tabernacles

Historical Background:

  • During the existence of the Jerusalem Temple, Sukkot” (the Feast of Tabernacles) was one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals on which the Israelites were commanded to perform a pilgrimage to the Temple.

  • A “sukkah” (a tabernacle) is the name of the temporary dwelling in which farmers would live during harvesting, a fact connected to the agricultural significance of the holiday. It is also intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus, when God provided for and protected his people. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and many people sleep there as well.

  • The holiday lasts seven days in Israel. The first day is a Sabbath-like
    holiday when work is forbidden. This is followed by intermediate days when certain work is permitted. The festival is closed with another Sabbath-like holiday
    called
    “Shemini Atzeret.”

  • During Sukkot, two important ceremonies took place: (1) The Hebrew people carried torches around the temple, illuminating bright candelabrum along the walls of the temple to demonstrate that the Messiah would be a light to the Gentiles. (2) The priest would draw water from the pool of Siloam and carry it to the temple where it was poured into a silver basin beside the altar. The priest would call upon the Lord to provide heavenly water in the form of rain for their supply. During this ceremony, the people looked forward to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Some records reference the day spoken of by the prophet Joel.

  • In the New Testament, Jesus attended the Feast of Tabernacles and spoke these words on the last and greatest day of the Feast: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him(John 7:37-38). The next morning, while the torches were still burning, Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12 NIV).

    Discussion Questions:

    1. Based on this information, how would you describe what this Feast represents? 2. Why do you think taking time to reflect on the meaning of this Feast is important? 3. How do you experience some of the values of this Feast in your own life? 4. Specifically, how do you experience rest and peace in your personal life, and how do you help to bring these values into the lives of others around you? 5. In a time of much hostility and division, what word/words can the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles speak to our society today? 6. What kind of rest do you ultimately hope for in the life to come? And how does this hope impact your life in the here and now?

    Scriptural Meditation:

Hebrews 4

Cheat Sheet:

(1) God’s deliverance, protection, provision, faithfulness, rest, peace; the promise of the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the promise of the fulfillment of the Christian hope // (2) subjective answer // (3) subjective answer // (4) subjective answer // (5) each of the values listed from question #1 are applicable // (6) our eternal hope should give us peace and assurance in the here and now, but it should also motivate us to participate with the missional impulse of the Spirit of God in order to promote all of these beautiful values in our world today


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Stay At Home Study Guide- Pentecost

 
  • The term “Pentecost” comes from the Greek Πεντηκοστή (Pentēkostē) meaning “fiftieth,” as it occurs 50 days after the Passover Festival

  • The Feast of Pentecost has many names in the Bible: “The Feast of Weeks,” “the Feast of Harvest,” and the “Latter Firstfruits”

  • It is one of Israel’s 3 major agricultural festivals and the 2nd great feast of the Jewish year

  • This was one of the three pilgrimage feasts, when all Jewish males were required to

    appear before the Lord in Jerusalem

  • Jews from all over the world came to the city to celebrate the festival

  • It was a joyous time of giving thanks and presenting offerings for the new grain and

    firstfruits of the summer wheat harvest in Israel

    • •

    Discussion Questions:

    1. In what ways do you think “new grain,” the Old Covenant, and baptism relate to the Christian understanding of the Day of Pentecost? 2. How would you describe the difference between the presence of the Spirit in the world before Pentecost and after? 3. What do you think was the significance of the utterances in other tongues during this event? And in what way does this remind you of the Spirit’s role in Jesus’ baptism? 4. What do you think were some of the main purposes of the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost? 5. In what ways does Peter’s sermon reflect and fulfill these purposes?

    Application Questions:

    1. How do you think these purposes are being fulfilled in our world today? 2. How do you personally experience the presence and activity of the Spirit? 3. In what ways are you participating with the Spirit in the mission of the church? 4. How do you think you can better cooperate with the Spirit in your personal life? 5. How do you think you can better participate in the mission of the church?

    Cheat Sheet: (1) a new community, a new covenant, and the fulfillment of baptism [the Spirit accomplishes the work that baptism symbolizes] // (2) in part vs. in full // (3) a miraculous sign demonstrating that the God of Israel was behind this “Jesus movement” and in this movement; the Spirit’s role at Jesus’ baptism: divine testification & approval of Jesus as Son of God, which commenced Jesus’ public ministry in the world // (4) to testify, to commission, to empower, to send out, to transform // (5) Peter, empowered by the Spirit and marked by the miraculous signs of the Spirit, preaches the gospel and calls people to discipleship through repentance & baptism


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Good Friday- Conclusion

Good Friday Meditations: Conclusion & Summary

After meditating on individual dimensions of the atonement, it might be wise to try to take a quick glimpse at the picture as a whole—as blurry and imperfect as that picture may be for us in the scope of time. It is immensely valuable to come up close to the canvas of the cross and resurrection, taking the time to contemplate the meaning of the particular facets of the redemptive work of Christ. It is also important, however, that we don’t lose the forest for the trees. For the atonement is a great synthesis. It is a magnificent wonder that demands to be appreciated for all of its glory, even though we will never comprehend its full meaning in this life.    
 
Summary of Models
 

Suffering Love: 

The atonement as divine solidarity and participation in human pain and suffering. The

God of love and compassion is compelled to embrace our pain—suffering with us and for us.

Selfless Substitution: 

The passion of Christ as the act of God standing in our place, absorbing our guilt,

and taking the natural consequences of our sins upon himself as our selfless substitute. 

Loving Sacrifice: 

The cross as a divine sacrifice and payment for the sins of the world. 

Union & Participation:

The atonement as the inauguration of a grace-infused process by which we are given the strength—mediated by the Spirit of God—to overcome the power of sin and corruption, so that we may become renewed in the image of Christ Jesus. 

Christus Victor: 

The redemptive work of Christ as the historical inauguration of the divine, eternal, cosmic victory over the powers of darkness. It is the commencement of the renewal and redemption of all human institutions and of creation as a whole.

Moral Influence:

The atonement gives us both the motivation and the example that we need to follow God.

Conclusion

The atonement of Christ, in its vast beauty and richness, speaks to all human beings at all times. Here, an answer can be found to every human problem and every temporal concern. For this God in Christ is the God of all people and the redeemer of all people. As this Paschal season nears its end, let us imitate and reflect the gratitude of the Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Roman church, meditating on his most memorable doxology: 

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
‘“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”’
 ‘“Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?“’
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Rom 11:33-36)


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Good Friday Meditations- Moral Influence

Good Friday Meditations: Moral Influence

Our final contemplation on the atonement of Christ deals with the problem of our lack of love for God and our lack of motivation to follow him. This model is focused on human feelings, desires, and affections. Jesus Christ himself directly connected affection to obedience: “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). The model of Moral Influence is often credited to a somewhat wonky medieval theologian by the name of Peter Abelard, but the main gist of this view is found all throughout Scripture.


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Good Friday Meditations- Christus Victor

Good Friday Meditations: Christus Victor

Today’s meditation on the atonement of Christ, like our first reflection in this series, confronts the universal problem of evil, pain, and suffering. Whereas our first model dealt with human suffering on a personal and individual level, our model today deals with suffering on a universal and cosmic level.The focus here is on both corporate evil (large-scale injustices, oppression, violence, coercion, greed, exploitation) and natural evil (disease, sickness, natural disasters, hostility in the animal kingdom). Christus Victor was the predominate model of the early church, and it is emphasized throughout the writings of the New Testament.

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Good Friday Meditations- Union & Participation

Good Friday Meditations: Union & Participation

Our fourth contemplative reflection upon the atonement of our Lord tackles the problem of universal human corruption. We have intentionally started with models that highlight the lavish grace of God so that we can then introspectively move towards the Christian call to a holy and righteous life in Christ. This is the sequence that is repeated in the various letters of the Apostle Paul. The model that we are meditating on today can be traced back to St. Irenaeus, who elaborated on the idea that Christ recapitulated all things in his work of redemption (Eph 1:10). 

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Good Friday Meditations- Loving Sacrifice

Good Friday Meditations: Loving Sacrifice

Our next Paschal reflection follows along the same path as our previous meditation. In fact, for some Christian traditions, this understanding of the atonement serves as an alternative, or replacement, for the model upon which we just reflected. Consequently, the human problem remains the same here: the universal experience of guilt. The sacrifice model is probably the most popular and most common conception of the atonement found throughout the history of the church, and it is the central theme of the book of Hebrews.  

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Good Friday Meditations – The Selfless Substitute

Good Friday Meditations: The Selfless Substitute

Our second contemplative reflection on the atonement of Christ revolves around the universal human experience of guilt. This model was popularized by the Protestant Reformers, but nascent forms of it can be seen in some of the Early Church Fathers—like in the writings of St. Augustine, for example. In Scripture, this view of Christ’s atoning work is most clearly presented in the book of Isaiah and the various epistles of Paul. 

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