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Acts Bible Study

Acts: Why the Book is Important

Acts 1:1-3

1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

Verse 1 Luke referred to his Gospel here as ‘my former book’. Acts is the second book in the history that Luke wrote. He wrote both books for Theophilus. This Greek name means ‘someone who loves God’. Perhaps Luke was using it to mean any Christian reader. But it is more likely that Theophilus was a real person. In Luke 1:3, Luke called him ‘most excellent’. Therefore, Theophilus might have been an important man that worked for the government.

Verse 2 Luke wrote that his Gospel was about everything that Jesus began to do. And it was about everything that Jesus began to teach. After he had returned to his Father, Jesus continued to do things. And he continued to teach. Luke’s second book describes these things. Jesus continued his work by his Holy Spirit, by means of his apostles. The Greek word ‘apostolos’ means a person with a message. That person (an apostle) had special authority from the person who had sent him. Therefore an apostle could act for the person who sent him. So, the apostles too would be leaders of Christians, as Jesus was their leader. Jesus chose his 12 disciples to be his apostles.

Verse 3 The disciples were sure that Jesus had overcome death. He had proved to them many times that he was still alive. His resurrection had really happened. It was true. This was the most important part in their message.

Jesus continued to teach them about his favorite subject. This was God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom had come by means of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Acts 1:4-8

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Verse 4 Jesus was eating with his disciples after his resurrection. He also did this on other occasions after the*resurrection (Luke 24:30-31, 42-43). This was not because he needed food. It was to prove that he was real.

In his Gospel, Luke recorded the Father’s (God’s) promise. The Father had promised that power from above would come to the disciples (Luke 24:49).

Verse 5 In this verse, Luke reminds us about John the Baptist’s words. John said this about Jesus: ‘He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and he will baptise you with fire’ (Luke 3:16).

Verse 6 The Jews were proud that God had chosen them as his people. They wanted other nations to know that they (the Jews) were important. The Jews seemed weak and the Romans ruled over them. The Jews wanted God to prove that they were superior. They wanted him to give them power over all the other nations. So, the disciples asked Jesus, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’

Verse 7 Jesus did not answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the disciples’ question. Instead, he said that this information belonged to the Father only. He did not want them to think about political power. He wanted them to preach the gospel. He wanted them to concentrate on that.

Verse 8 The power that they would receive was not power over other people. Instead, it was power from heaven. This power would make them able to continue Christ’s work on earth.

‘You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem. You will also be my witnesses in all Judea and Samaria, and all over the earth.’ A witness has seen something with his own eyes. Therefore, he knows that it is true. The Greek word for ‘witness’ is ‘martus’. It also means ‘*martyr’ (a person who is willing to die for his or her beliefs). A witness must be willing to die for Christ if this is necessary. In verse 8, Luke tells us what the whole book is about. In the first 7 chapters, he describes how the good news spread in Jerusalem. In Acts 8:11-11:18, he describes what happened in Judea and Samaria. In the last part, he describes how the gospel spread through the Gentile world.

Of course, the story did not end there. Today, Christians must continue to tell people in every nation about Jesus. God wants everyone in the world to hear the good news.

Luke is writing Acts as a continuation of his Gospel that recorded the life of Christ. Acts is to be a record of the acts of the apostles after Christ’s death and resurrection.

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Acts Bible Study

Acts: Introduction

We are about to embark on a study into the book of Acts. But before we delve into the book, we will be getting some background on the book.

The writer

Most people agree that Luke wrote Acts. Luke also wrote the Gospel of Luke. In Acts, he told how the good news about Jesus Christ spread to the world beyond Jerusalem.

Luke was a Gentile and he was a doctor (Colossians 4:14). He worked with Paul and he traveled with Paul (Philemon 1:24).

Luke was very careful about what he wrote. At the beginning of his Gospel, he wrote, ‘You have heard many things. I am writing this account so that you will know the truth about them’ (Luke 1:4). In Acts, he continued with this account.

Luke was traveling with Paul. Luke wrote about what happened during that time (Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-21:18; 27:1-28:16). In these verses, he used ‘we’ instead of ‘they’ or ‘he’. So, we know that Luke was there at those times.

After Luke had arrived in Jerusalem (Acts 21:17), he stayed in Judea. He stayed there for two years. Then he left to travel to Rome (Acts 27:1). He went to Rome with Paul. While Luke was in Judea, he probably spoke to other witnesses. They told him about the other events that he describes.

The purpose of the book

Luke had several reasons why he wrote Acts. People were telling false stories about Christians. They were afraid that Christians wanted to make trouble. Luke wanted the Roman rulers to know that this was not true. Christians helped other people. He wanted to show that to the rulers. It was good for the Roman government.

Luke wrote about many miracles. God gave to Christians the power to cure people, for example. Also, God rescued Peter from prison by a miracle. So, anyone who opposed the Christians was opposing God. He also wanted to show to the Jews that the Christian faith was not a separate religion. Instead, it made Judaism complete, because Jesus is the Messiah.

However, Luke had one main reason why he wrote this book. The good news about Jesus had traveled from Jerusalem to Rome. Luke wanted to record how that happened. Rome was the most important city in the world. Luke showed that the gospel was for all people in every nation. It was for Jews and it was also for Gentiles.

We can divide Acts into 6 parts. Each part ends with a report that more people were joining the church.

1. Acts 1:1-6:7

In the first part, Luke describes how the church grew in Jerusalem. This part ends like this: “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”

2. Acts 6:8-9:31

From this part, we learn how the good news reached Samaria because of Stephen’s death. This part ends like this: ‘Meanwhile, the church all over Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a peaceful period. The Holy Spirit made the church strong and he encouraged the Christians. They respected the Lord and more people joined the church.’

3. Acts 9:32-12:24

In this part, the writer tells us how Paul met Jesus. This happened on the road to Damascus. Damascus is a city in Syria. We learn how the gospel reached Antioch, the capital city in Syria. Also, we learn how Peter accepted Cornelius into the church. Cornelius was a Gentile. This part ends like this: ‘God’s message continued to grow and it continued to spread.’

4. Acts 12:25-16:5

In this part, Luke describes how the gospel spread through more countries. It ends like this: ‘So, the Christians became stronger in the faith and more people joined the churches daily.’

5. Acts 16:6-19:20

We learn from this part how the good news about Jesus reached Europe. Paul started a new church in Corinth, a city in Greece. He also started a new church in Ephesus. Ephesus was a very important city. It was in the same country that is called Turkey today. It is near Greece. This part ends like this: ‘In this manner, the Lord’s message continued to increase in power and it spread widely.’

6. Acts 19:21-28:31

In the final part, Luke tells us that Paul reached Rome. When it ends, Paul is in prison. There, ‘he preached boldly about God’s kingdom. He taught the facts about the Lord Jesus Christ and nobody tried to stop him.’

When Luke wrote Acts

When the book ends, Paul is in Rome. The Romans had arrested him. Luke does not say what happened to Paul next. So, many students think that Luke completed Acts very soon after this. Also, he said nothing about Nero. Nero was an Emperor. He killed many Christians in AD 64. Probably Luke had finished the book in AD 62. But we do not know the exact date.

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Bible Study Prayer

Prayer Journal

At church last night we talked about prayer and I mentioned writing things down. After church I was approached about prayer journaling, so I decided to write this for not only the wonderful church lady but everyone else as well.

A prayer journal can help you track your prayer requests, or let you express personal thoughts between you and God. It is also a great way to be more intentional with your prayers. A prayer journal may be just the thing to help you be more precise with your prayers or more thankful for answered prayers. Like any other type of personal journal, this will be for your eyes only, unless you choose to share it. That means you can be free and open to say whatever you want in it. This is your private time with the Lord. Let’s look at how to keep a prayer journal.

1. Begin with a prayer for guidance – One of the first things you can do when starting your prayer journal is to pray for guidance on how to start.

2. Find a great place to do your journaling – This should be a place that you feel comfortable in, and that will be free of distractions. There are no rules – it can be your yard, your bedroom, or your back porch. The point is just that you carve out a special place just for this, so you will be more dedicated and motivated to stick with your prayer journal.

3. Write down your prayer requests – It’s important that you also be very specific. You can put your personal prayer requests and requests you have for your family, as well as requests that are made at church, that you hear online, or that friends ask of you directly.

4. Write what you’re grateful for – Gratitude is a very important part of the process. Take time to acknowledge all the things God does for you, and what you are grateful for in your life.

5. When a prayer request comes off your list remember to thank God. – This ties in to being grateful. Always go back to your prayer journal and give thanks for how God has worked in your life.

How to Choose a Journal

When choosing your journal, pick something that feels good to you. Pick a book or journal that you will enjoy writing in regularly, that is comfortable for you, and that you like the physical appearance of, so you will be drawn to using it daily.

That’s really the only criteria.

As you can see, keeping a prayer journal doesn’t have to be super difficult. You can be as creative and as flexible as you want. You can purchase a pre-set prayer journal to give you structure and just fill in the blanks, or you can start with a blank journal or a printable journal and do it custom to your needs.

Truthfully, keeping a journal is not something I’ve been consistent at in the past. But it is something I love to do now on a regular basis. I think it is wonderful to be able to look back and see how God has answered my prayers and spoken to me through scripture. I know He does, but to go back pen point when I prayed and when God spoke to me is awesome.

Do you keep a prayer or Bible journal? What does your method look like?

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Bible Study Knowing God

God’s Love: Fixed Our Sin Problem

God solved the problem of sin through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice

     I think by now you understand how destructive sin is in our lives! It is pretty clear something had to be done about it, and that something had to come from God.  Beginning in Genesis 3:15, God revealed His loving plan to deliver people from their sin.

    In Exodus, God revealed to the Jews it was necessary for them to shed the blood of innocent animals to cover their sins. This is called atonement. In Leviticus, the ideas of expiation (to make amends for) and propitiation for our sin (to soothe or win over; appease) became clearly seen in the word atonement. The sacrificial blood was the means of atonement. Moses, who wrote Leviticus said, in Leviticus 17:11,

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’

Shedding of someone or something’s blood means taking the life from them, because life is in the blood.  It took death to pay for even one sin, so God chose sacrificial blood as payment for a person’s life.  This allowed us to have a substitute die for us.

     God knew animal sacrifices would never bring complete forgiveness for people’s sins, since the blood of animals had no power to take away their sinful nature, and intentional sins (Leviticus 4 and Numbers 15:22-31). The only blood that has the power to take away all of our sins is the blood of Jesus Christ.  This is because He is the One True God. 

     God accomplished reconciliation with us through the blood of Jesus.  This is because the punishment we deserved, Jesus took on Himself, when He shed His blood by dying on the cross.  He is our substitute.  He died in our place.  His sacrifice made amends for our sins and satisfied God’s just anger, so we could have our sins completely forgiven and be in a close relationship with God.   What sacrificial love!

  1. These animal sacrifices allowed people to be able to clearly see their need for the One and Only sufficient sacrifice for their sins, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Read Numbers 15:22-31, John 1:29, Hebrews 9:19-28 & 10:1-4, 10-20 and 1 John 2:1-2 & 4:9-10 and summarize what you learned about Jesus’ sacrifice for us.How does Jesus’ sacrifice show you He loves you?Take some time and thank God for solving your sin problem through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

     God’s Word tells us that He never changes, which means His sacrifice for our sins will always take away our sins.  Its effectiveness to completely take away our sins will never change because God and His promises are unchanging.  I know it is hard for us to understand Someone that never changes!  We live in a world, a society that seems to constantly change. One moment our government is talking about this law, and that we have to follow it. Then we hear they are doing something completely different. Your parents tell you one thing, and get upset when you do the thing they told you to do. Your friend told you he would meet you on Wednesday, but he didn’t show up, and never bothered to call.  Even your church leaders sometimes say one thing and end up doing another. I don’t know about you, but it certainly is hard on me to navigate through a world that is almost completely governed by whims of change.

     God knows how important it is to our psychological health to have security and to be able to trust. This makes sense because God created us to trust, in order that we will want to trust Him. The more we can truly trust people, the less our lives will be governed by fear, insecurity, worry, and anxiety.  If our environment is secure we have peace of mind.  If our environment is insecure it can cause great stress.  Now is a good time to learn about how we can trust God, because He is faithful and unchanging.

God is faithful-what He says, He does! He keeps His promises and is trustworthy!
God is unchangeable, immutable which means He is always the same

  • Read about God being unchangeable and faithful from Numbers 23:19, Malachi 3:6, 2 Timothy 2:13, Hebrews 13:8 and James 1:17. 
  • What does God being unchangeable and faithful mean to you? Use a Bible verse in your answer. (Examples:  When I am wondering about what I can trust in because everything always changes, shouldn’t I trust in the God Who is always the same? (Malachi 3:6) When no one is faithful to his word, I need to trust in God’s Word because He is always faithful. (James 1:17))
  • Because God is unchanging, His love for you will never change!  What does this mean to you? Have you ever loved someone but they were unfaithful to you?  How did it feel?  I hope you can feel secure in the knowledge God will never be unfaithful to you!

  • If you are a Christian you should be asking the Holy Spirit to keep you faithful.  We can be faithful by keeping God’s Word, and by saying and doing exactly what we mean. The world of psychology calls this congruence.  God calls it faithfulness. Read Matthew 23:23, Galatians 5:22-23 and James 5:12.  Now write a prayer asking God to help you be faithful.  If you are faithful, you will be as unchanging as you can be. 

  • End of the lesson application:    Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind one thing you learned from this lesson that He wants you to remember and make a part of your life.  Be quiet before God and wait on Him to tell you.   Write it down and ask Him to help you to do it! 

This is going to sound odd, but get a newspaper and skim over some headline news and circle each story that hints of sin.  Sin is anything that is not in God’s will.  The point of this activity is to give you a better understanding of sin’s grip on the world. (It would be a good thing to pray for the people in these articles, if you have time.) If you are doing this study in a group setting, bring the newspaper to class and share your insights on sin.

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Bible Study Knowing God

God’s Love: Separation By Sin

Adam’s and Eve’s rebellion against God brought death just as God said it would. Death doesn’t mean “extinction” as you might think, but more “a separation from” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Their fall into sin caused a separation with God, which is spiritual death. This break in relationship with God was immediately evidenced by Adam’s and Eve’s hiding from Him, and blaming Him and each other for their sin. (sound familiar? )

If you think about it, we seem to live in a world that highlights death. Just turn on our news, and you hear how full of senseless violence and death our world is. Human relationships, in general, seem to be drawn towards more separation rather than harmony and peace. Just read the statistics on divorce. Just study history, and it turns out to be a study on wars. Most bodies, on the average, have a few good decades, after which the effects of age and disease start becoming apparent. Just print “anti-aging” on something and it will sell. Just talk to anyone and they will have a health problem or know someone who does.

     God never wanted us to live this way! He created Adam and Eve to live in a world that was without death. He made them to have eternal life, but they chose eternal death. God wants us to have eternal life as well, but we choose eternal death too.  Did you know we choose death every time we sin, because the result of sin is death? 

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A world with no sin is a world without death. I know it doesn’t make any sense to me why Adam and Eve chose death over life, but we do the same. The wage of sin is death, but God is life.

God is the source of all life

  • Read about God being the source of life from John 1:1-4, 3:16-18, 14:6, Romans 6:23, 1 John 4:9-10, and Revelation 22:1.  
  • What does God being the source of life mean to you?

   
Why did death bring separation with God?   It’s because God is holy and can have nothing to do with sin. It is very important we remember God is holy, so let’s learn about God being holy.

God is holy which means He is completely separate from sin

  • Read about God’s holiness from Isaiah 6:1-5 & 43:3 & 59:1-2, and Revelation 4:8.
  • What does God being holy mean to you?
  • We can only be holy through a relationship with Jesus Christ, but never on our own.  Read 1 Peter 1:16, Ephesians 4:20-24, Romans 12:1-2, and Colossians 3:12-14.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to live a holy life!
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Bible Study Knowing God

God’s Love: We are Sinners

God’s Word teaches us that we all are sinners just like Adam and Eve.  This is because we are born with a nature that can only sin.  A sinner is someone who disobeys God. Romans 3:10-18 says,

…as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

King David said, in Psalm 51:5,

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

     It surely is reasonable to think that it is unfair that what Adam and Eve did thousands of years ago affects us today. The sad truth is, from Romans 3 – we all would have eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil! As a Christian, I would dare say, the number of times I sin in a day far outnumbers Eve’s sins in Genesis 3. Ouch!

 Even one sin can be life changing. Sin tends to take control and alter our lives for the worse. Remember one sin brought death and changed the entire human race (Romans 5:12). James 2:10 teaches us that if we obey God completely, then disobey Him just once, we are guilty of all sin before God.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

     For some reason, some people think God doesn’t see their sin if they hide it. I guess trying to hide our sin is part of our sinful nature because Adam and Eve tried it as well. Are you hiding from God like Adam and Eve were (minus the fig leaves)? The fact is, God knows when you sin whether you think so, or not.  He knows everything.  This is a good time for us to learn about how God knows everything, and how He is always present.

God is omniscient, in other words, He knows all things.
God is omnipresent, or He is always present.

     From Psalm 139 it is clear that God knows everything about us.  He knows every thought and motive we have (1 Corinthians 4:5).  God is always present no matter where we are or what we are doing. We can’t hide from God! He has seen you at your best, and He has seen you at your worst, and still He loves you so very much!

  • Read about God’s knowing all things and always being present from Exodus 32:1-9, Jeremiah 23:23-24, and Matthew 28:20.  Write down any insights and applications that the Spirit is giving you from these verses.
  • What does the knowledge that God is all knowing and always with you mean to you? Use a Bible verse in your answer. (Examples: When I am ashamed about what I’ve done, shouldn’t I call upon God who knows everything about me, but loves and forgives me anyway? (1 John 4:10)  When I am alone and afraid shouldn’t I seek after the God who is always with me? (Psalm 139:7))
  • Read Genesis 4 – this chapter shows us clearly that sin passed onto future generations along with its awful consequences.  How do you think Adam and Eve felt about what happened in this chapter?  Remember they were living with the knowledge that their sin would affect all future generations. 
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Bible Study Knowing God

God’s Love: Sin and Consequences

Genesis 2:16-17 New International Version (NIV)

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Genesis 3:1-15 New International Version (NIV)

The Fall

3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”

Since God created all of us in His image, we have a free will. This freedom gave us the choice to be in a relationship with God or not. He gave us a free will so we could freely choose to love and obey Him! Don’t you want people to choose to love you, not be made to? Sadly, Adam and Eve chose to use God’s incredible gift of freedom to disobey Him.

Their disobedience of His one command brought the concept of sin into our world and put us in bondage to it. Their choice also brought sin into world. (Let me remind you, before Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, there was only good in the world.) Have you ever thought about how very different things would be without sin in the world?

Their sin brought death into the world as God told them it would. Ephesians 2:1-3 explains that sin puts us in a state of death and rebellion towards God.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

     What saddens me the most, is that Adam and Eve chose to trust in or rely on themselves and the talking serpent, who was actually Satan (Revelation 12:9).  They did this instead of trusting in God, who had just created them to love them (Ephesians 1:4). Throughout history, many people have doubted God and His existence, but Adam and Eve had a face to face relationship with Him. There was absolutely no excuse for them to doubt God. You either trust in God, or you are trusting in yourself or something else, which is sin.  Satan is always at the root of not trusting God.

  1. Adam and Eve’s perfect relationship with God, who created and loved them, was shattered.  They were now in a state of death because they chose to be. They were now imprisoned by their sinful desires. They had rebelled against God and were now His enemies. They had lost their freedom of choice – whether to sin or not, because they were enslaved to sin.  (Our freedom of choice whether to sin or not, is given back to us through trusting in Jesus Christ.  This is because Jesus Christ redeems us from being enslaved to sin.) Read Romans 3:21-24, 5:6-12, 6:5-7, and Ephesians 2:1-7.

From Genesis 3:1-13, why did Adam and Eve choose to disobey God?  Remember Adam and Eve did not have a sinful nature until after they chose to disobey God.

From Genesis 1 and 2, what type of world did God want us to live in? From Genesis 3, what type of world did we end up with because of sin? How did Adam’s and Eve’s relationship with God change? How does God want our relationship towards Him to be?

Before we become Christians, there is no way we can completely obey God, because we are held captive by our sinful nature. When we become a Christian, we are set free from the power of our sinful nature so we can choose to obey God. However, as Christians we can still wrestle greatly with disobeying God because our sinful nature is still with us. If you are a Christian, what helps you to choose to obey God? If you are not a Christian, this would be a good time to become one!

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Bible Study faith Knowing God

God’s Love: Seen Through You

     Getting to know God’s characteristics will enable you to get to know Him better. Romans 1:20 teaches us that, God’s character, or who He is, is seen and understood by the things that He has made.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

     I would like to remind you, to look for God’s character in His creation.  If you have ever seen the movie, March of the Penguins, you saw the sacrificial love the penguins have for their young.  I thought, “Wow! What an example of God’s love.” 

     Let’s begin with the most important of God’s characteristics to us. It is His love. God’s love permeates who He is. God is sovereign, but His rule is acted out through His love. God is all-powerful, but every act of His power is done because of His love.  God’s act of creation was an act of love which resulted in life for all things.

God is love.

     “Agape” is the Greek word that best describes God;s love.  Agape means, unselfish love that is driven by what is best for the person loved, not by the person loving.  Agape love is a verb. ( a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence) In other words, it is an unselfish, unconditional, and sacrificial love.  I think we think God loves us out of duty not out of desire.  However, “agape” love suggests that the lover finds joy in acting on that love for something or someone.

     The Hebrew word that best describes God’s love is defined by the word “hesed”. This word is translated love, unfailing love, loving kindness, mercy, and loyalty.  It is used about 250 times in the Old Testament.  It means loyal, steadfast or faithful love.  It also stresses the idea of belonging together for those involved in the love relationship.  Both words make me think of the joy and the total commitment a bride and groom have for each other on their wedding day.  God has been waiting eagerly to love you!

  1. Read about God’s love from Jeremiah 31:3, Hosea 2:19-20, Zephaniah 3:17, Ephesians 1:4, 2:4-5, 3:17-19, 5:2, 5:23-32, and Revelations 19:7-9. Write down any insights and applications that the Spirit is giving you from these verses.



  2. What does God’s love mean to you? Use a Bible verse in your answer. (Example: When I feel unloved, I think about the fact that God loved me so much that He died for me. (Ephesians 5:2))



  3. Love should permeate everything we do.  God tells us and shows us how to love through His Word, with His Spirit.  We will never completely agape love anyone because it is a supernatural phenomenon coming from the God of love!  God does want to empower us to come as close to His love as humanly possible.  Take some time with God right now and ask Him to empower you to love someone you don’t particularly love, with His type of love.  Prayerfully thank Him for His love of you! 



     We see God’s power in creation.  Wouldn’t it have been quite thrilling to have seen God create the visible universe from things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:3)?  When I think God spoke the universe and our world into being without lifting a finger, I am dumbfounded with such power. Let’s take a look at God being all-powerful.

God is omnipotent which means all powerful, almighty.

     Many leaders throughout history have done awful and quite horrifying things because they have the power to do them.  Think of Hilter.  Just turn on the TV and you will hear how someone has misused his or her power.  No one or nothing can stop God from doing what He wants to do with His power.  Aren’t you so glad His power is permeated by His love?  If you doubt that His love leads His power, just think about His willingness to put His son under the control of sinful men and die from a man-made torture, death by crucifixion, out of His love for you.

  1. Read about God’s power from Psalm 62:11-12a, Daniel 4:34-35, and John 11:33– 45. Write down any insights and applications the Spirit is giving you from these verses.



  2. What does God’s power mean to you? Use a Bible verse in your answer. (Example:  When I am powerless to change my situation, I need to trust in God, who can turn death into life.  (John 11:43–44))



  3. No one in history has been all powerful like God except for Jesus Christ.  Some people would like to be all powerful, but thank God they are not.  Power does seem to corrupt sooner or later.  As Christians, God certainly won’t make us all powerful, but He does want us to have access to the power we need to live the right way, which is His way.  We get His power by being connected to Him through His Spirit (Acts 1:8). Personalize 2 Timothy 1:7 by writing the verse out and putting your name where the word “us” is.

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

Categories
Bible Study Knowing God

God’s Love: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

     Humans are the highlight of God’s creation.  God made us fearfully and wonderfully! King David in Psalm 8 writes about how surprised he is that God, the Creator of everything, would make us, mere humans, just a little lower than Himself.  David was amazed that God cares for us so much that He allows us to rule over His creation. David also seemed astonished that God would crown us with glory and majesty. (I can relate to what David is feeling. How about you?)  David says of God in Psalm 8:3-6,

When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him? Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, And dost crown him with glory and majesty! Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet.

     Some of you are not familiar with King David. King David reigned as King in Israel around 1000 B.C.  He was Israel’s most famous king and is called a man after God’s own heart.  King David wrote many of the Psalms. The Psalms are Hebrew poetry and were often used as songs of worship.  David was a man who truly enjoyed God. He would lift his voice in song to worship Him because he knew God loved him and he loved God.  When you are feeling down and out, it’s always a good idea to read a Psalm or two.

     Psalm 139 tells us that God made us wonderfully, which means we are amazingly constructed! As I look in the mirror or make a foolish comment, I certainly don’t think of myself as amazingly put together. Yet the truth is, whether or not we think or feel we are God’s amazing creation, we are!

     God’s Word even says God made us fearfully which means He made us awesomely.  Do you think or feel awesome?  I don’t most the time, but God thinks I am, so I am!  I do believe God thinks of us as His beloved wonder women (excuse my modernization).  Psalm 139:14 says,

I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well.

  1. Read Psalm 139:1-16 to give you some information on Who God is and how wonderfully He has made you.  Since God created you wonderfully and fearfully, what does this tell you?



  2. From a personal perspective, describe how wonderfully and fearfully God has made you. (To answer a question like this, I know for many of us women, it is hard to get past what we think is wrong with ourselves. However, ask God to force you to look past your perceived negatives, and ask Him to show you how awesomely and amazingly constructed He has made you. Remember, a lie of our society and of course of Satan, is how important looks are. God created us with much more than just looks. Believe me, since I am almost a half century old, I need to remember this fact.) Do you think since God created you, that He would automatically think of you as beautiful? Remember, He created you to love you forever! Prayerfully thank God for making you as He did!