Online Bible Studies

Our Current (and past) Online Bible-Studies will be kept here.  Come back often for individual enrichment, or to gather material for your Bible Study Group.

Living a Jesus-Shaped Life (6 – sessions)

Preparation:

Herewith the first session (of 6 – for 40 days) of “A Jesus Shaped Life”
I include a booklet and the journal

Also, please watch this short video   https://youtu.be/ctSgW8_hmrc

Session 1:

I will share some thoughts based on last week’s video.  Perhaps this can be a discussion starter for this week. 

Also, checking in to see whether you did your homework as per the video – reading and reflecting on the Sermon on the Mount.

My thoughts:

How often do we ask “I’m alright, aren’t I?” There is no sin in doubting yourself, but all doubt fades when you recognise your own worth in Christ.  Think about these three aspects:

You are                 chosen by God (Ephesians 1),

affirmed by God (John 15: 14ff),

loved by God (John3:16-17, John 15L9, Romans 8: 28-33)

The Sermon on the Mount is a guide to the essential aspects of life

                Our calling

                Our relationships

                Our spiritual practices

                Our choices

Sermon on the mount (Matt 5-7) is also a guide to the resilient life, including

                Being Positive – amplifying being optimistic, hopeful, peaceful, joyful, thankful

                Managing negative emotions like

                bitterness, anger, contempt

                Having strong and good relationships

                Accomplishment and Meaning

As we let the Spirit grow us, as we decrease so that Christ may increase, our worth to others in the world will increase.  However, we do not need other peoples’ approval, we only need that of God, which we have.

Here’s this week’s video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPcffNqWzso&pp=ygUTYSBqZXN1cyBzaGFwZWQgbGlmZQ%3D%3D

Session 2:

I will share some thoughts based on last week’s video.  Perhaps this can be a discussion starter for this week. 

Reflect on the following:

Your Calling to a Jesus Shaped Life

You are salt and light (Matthew 5: 13-16) and you are Jesus’ change maker.  What are your feelings about this?  How do you feel about being chosen by Jesus?

What great thing do you think God has called you to?  Is this really what Jesus wants of you?  What small thing can you do, daily, to bring change to the world you move around in?

Jesus says that our actions are what make a difference (let your good deeds shine for all to see, so that everyone may praise your Father in Heaven – Matthew 5:16)

Serve where you are

We are gifted by God for our tasks

We need to serve in community through which our gifts will be activated

Still to be salt and light

Reflection:

Do you see yourself as more or less than Jesus sees you?

What practical acts can you do to reveal God to others?

As promised, the third video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0hVQcYFqlI

Session 3:

I will share some thoughts based on last week’s video.  Perhaps this can be a discussion starter for this week. 

Also, checking in to see whether you sis your homework as per the video – reading and reflecting on the Sermon on the Mount.

My thoughts:

Being made in the image of God means that we were created for connection, for relationship,to be accepted, to matter to someone, to love and be loved.

Resilience is bolstered by good, strong relationships. While we strive for strong relationships, according to Jesus (in the Sermon on the Mount) there are 4 forces that drive us apart:

                1. Anger that seeks to destroy, even if only by our words.

                2. Unfaithfulness (to God, spouse, future-spouse) and divorce

                3. False promises, or promises broken.

                4. Retaliation, do to others what they have done to you

Instead of            allowing relationships be broken by these 4, ratheer do:

                1. Seek reconciliation    

                2. Be radically faithful

                3. Don’t make oaths, be truthful, let yes be yes and no be no. 

                4. Love others (especially your enemy) and do to them what you would have them do to you.

For reflection:

a. Which of the four negative forces are you struggling with and need Jesus’ help with?

b. Which “enemy” is God calling you to love, and how are you to love them?

Here’s this week’s video: https://youtu.be/XjmnJH5hWhc

May you know God’s blessing as you grow to be more like Jesus

Session 4:

I will share some thoughts based on last week’s video.  Perhaps this can be a discussion starter for this week. 

Also, checking in to see whether you did your homework as per the video – reading and reflecting on the Sermon on the Mount.

My thoughts:

A Jesus Shaped Life (4) – Your Practices in a Jesus Shaped Life

Four Spiritual Practices that will strengthen us against life’s storms

                1. Giving to the poor

                2. Fasting

                3. Trusting God instead of worrying about our lives

                4. Prayer – including a model for prayer

(I recommend the book by Richard Foster “A Celebration of Discipline”)

The Lord’s prayer is central in the Sermon on the Mount.  As we pray the prayer, we are changed.  As we live the prayer, society is changed.

In God’s eyes we are identified as children of God – this identity before anything else.

Whose will are you praying will be done?  Your own life or God’s life?

The Lord’s prayer is more than an individual prayer, it is a prayer we can pray for others also.  In praying this prayer for another notice the power of this prayer, notice how the model leads us in prayer for others. 

A Challenge:  Pray the Lord’s prayer for your enemies.  Pry the Lord’s Prayer for our city’s leadership, that of KZN, or the country.  Pray for the leaders in church and the diocese especially.

For Reflection:

1. Pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly, pausing at each line to let God speak to you through the line.  Journal/write down what the LORD tells you, any action he directs you to.

2. Pray the Lord’s Prayer for someone in difficulty, someone who is struggling with life.

This week’s video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saZUl6pMQ4c

May God bless you as you learn and become more like Christ.

Session 5:

I will share some thoughts based on last week’s video.  Perhaps this can be a discussion starter for this week. 

Also, checking in to see whether you did your homework as per the video – reading and reflecting on the Sermon on the Mount.

My thoughts:

A Jesus Shaped Life (5) – Your Choices in a Jesus Shaped Life

Jesus talks about our choices in the Sermon on the Mount, starting with a paraphrase of Leviticus 19:18. 

Hillel the Elder (an earlier contemporary of Jesus) used this verse as a most important message of the Torah for his teachings. Once, he was challenged by a gentile who asked to be converted under the condition that the Torah be explained to him while he stood on one foot. Hillel accepted the challenge and said:

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”

Jesus also gives two options for life, the wide/broad road and the narrow road. This is a summary of Deuteronomy 30: 15 -20.  For me, v19b has a plea from God.  What do you make of the choices in Deuteronomy compared with the choices in the Sermon on the Mount?

Have I done enough to make God happy?  A question put to us recently, maybe in another form…”What else can we do to please God?” I’d love to hear your answers.  I’ll share mine further on.

Jesus says “Ask, Seek and Knock” – How often do you stay at the “Ask” and become frustrated that God is not answering your prayer?  The actions should follow – St Ignatius of Loyola was known for saying “pray as if everything depends on God, and work as if everything depends on you.” Here he combines God’s work with ours, showing how we need to test different things to “hear” God’s voice.

In answer to the question “What more…” there is essentially nothing more we ca do IF we love God (seen in our obedience to His commandments) and if we love the world as Christ loves us.  So check with yourself – How are you loving God and neighbour.  Is it all day?  Sometimes?  When I go to church?  Now and again at church? 

For Reflection:

1. What choice do you need to make right now?  How are you seeking God’s guidance for your life?

2. How are you putting action behind your prayer?

This week’s video: https://youtu.be/J2qGx3RsltU

Session 6:

I will share some thoughts based on last week’s video.  Perhaps this can be a discussion starter for this week. 

Also, checking in to see whether you did your homework as per the video – reading and reflecting on the Sermon on the Mount.

My thoughts:

A Jesus Shaped Life (6) – Your Resilient Life

How have you been disappointed in life?  What dream(s) have you had that have been shattered? 

Jesus tells us, several times, that “storms” in life will happen.  We are not guaranteed an easy pilgrimage. 

What builds resilience in our life so that we can meet these challenges in life?  What is your story within God’s story?  Telling the story helps overcome, work through suffering., while we wait for our HOPE to be fulfilled.

Resilience in life, living a life filled with hope, can only come through following Jesus.  We need to be obedient to Jesus and His teaching.

–  How is Jesus giving you hope today?

–  How can Jesus use your story to bless another person, or to minister to another person, today?

–  How is Jesus using our suffering to be of service to others?

For Reflection:

1. Read the WHOLE sermon on the mount daily for a month (you should have done so while going through the series).

2. What part of the sermon is God calling you to act on now?

I conclude with a lovely, contemporary, rendition of thee Magnificat (Song of Mary): https://youtu.be/7OLquO_-fNo

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