The Walk – “Relationship with Jesus is Rooted in the Gospel”

•January 31, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The Walk –  “Relationship with Jesus is Rooted in the Gospel”

The Walk

DAY 1

Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.
47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” – Luke 7:36-50

The story of Simon the Pharisee and the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume in Luke 7:36-50 is one of the classic stories from the life of Jesus. It beautifully reveals the dynamic at work in the heart of someone who follows Christ. It’s not what a lot of people think. Actor Bruce Willis was once quoted in USA Weekend. He said: “They [organized religion] used to hang the whole thing on one hook: If you don’t do these things, if you don’t act morally, you’re going to burn in hell.” I imagine that is close to what a lot of people think Christianity is about.

But what does the Bible actually teach? Look again at the story from Luke 7:36-50. Look at, and listen to, Jesus as portrayed in this story.

1. What is it that Jesus values most in the woman?

2. What does Jesus reveal about the relationship between love and forgiveness?

Looking at verses 41-42 what was different about the two men in the story Jesus tells? What did they both have in common?

Based on the question of Jesus in verse 42, what is the story really about?

One thing this story shows us is that Jesus wants us to follow him because of our love for him and that love for him comes from the grace he gives us in the gospel. 1 John 4:19 says: We love because he first loved us. Throughout this story what Jesus identifies in this woman is the same source of power or devotion for discipleship that we saw in the life of Peter in John 21. I wonder how well we understand that? How well do we understand the way in which what we call the gospel, the good news, not only gets us into a relationship with Jesus as our Savior but empowers us to live as followers of Jesus who follow him because of our love for him? Take a moment to pray today that God will help you to grasp the greatness of his forgiving grace so that you will respond to him with authentic love.

If you don’t already have a Bible in a good modern translation, buy one. I will mostly be using the New International Version (NIV) for this class but there are other good translations like the English Standard Version (ESV) also. If you can afford a good Study Bible you may find the notes very helpful. If you do not own a bible ask the church or whoever is doing this study with you to help you get one.

This week’s memory verse is John 1:12 – Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

Begin reading the Bible. The first assignment is to begin reading the gospel of John. Take your time, read at your own pace and don’t worry about what you don’t understand at first. Focus on what you do understand. Listen to the Scripture personally as if you are witnessing what is happening and John and Jesus are speaking to you about these things. Ask yourself “What am I to make of all of this? What does it mean to follow Jesus? Write down your questions, thoughts and insights as you read.
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The Walk: Week 5 – Day 5 – “Mission”

•February 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Week 5 – Day 5 – “Mission”

Following Jesus means living like Him in our personal character Following Jesus also means living like him in our spiritual disciplines. There is also something else that we have to include because it too is crucial to discipleship.

Following Jesus means living like him in our life mission.

We find it most clearly stated by Jesus after his death and resurrection when he first appeared to his disciples. In John 20:21 He says, “Peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” We are to lives like Jesus in that we also live for this mission of revealing God and bringing redemption. The word that has been used in recent years to describe what it means to take this seriously and to actually live it, is the word: “missional”. To be a missional church or to live a missional life is to live for the purpose of fulfilling this mission.

One scholar describes it this way: According to John, every Christian has been sent by Jesus with the gospel together in community to those in the surrounding culture for the sake of the king and his kingdom: “The Church is sent into the world to continue that which he came to do, in the power of the same Spirit, reconciling people to God.” (Leslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 230)

How clearly do you see your mission as a follower of Jesus? Christ did not die and rise again to redeem a people who would simply go their own way, work their jobs for themselves, waste their lives on Facebook, or You Tube, or at the gym, or in front of the TV, or pursue their hobbies for themselves, build their nest eggs for themselves and in the end live lives of self-centered emptiness. To follow Jesus means you completely reorient your reason for living. Jesus says, “as the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” You have been sent into the world to live, with this mission continually in mind. We are not all preachers or speakers but we are all called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

We are called, not to hide the light in us but to let it shine so that people will glorify God. We are all called as Paul told the Colossians to be wise in the way we relate to unbelievers and to make the most of every opportunity to speak and to share Christ with grace. We are all called as part of the body of Christ, the church, to work and serve together to reach people with the gospel. There are many ways to do that. What does that mean for you? The idea of being sent as Christ was sent includes many things and they are all important. It means being sent to reveal and share the love of God, to serve the poor, to help people who are hurting, to work for truth and justice and mercy, to embody Christ-like grace and truth in our lives. But it also includes sharing the gospel the message of redeeming grace that comes into our lives through faith in Christ. If we were to meet all the physical needs of people and fail to bring them the message of forgiveness and redemption and peace with God we do not fully represent Jesus and we do not fulfill our mission. Following Jesus means that living on this mission for God has to become part of your very identity and purpose daily. If you commit to live like Jesus, God will show you how and where to begin. Will you commit to live like Jesus?

What steps can you take at this season in your life to live your life on this mission that Jesus has given you? How can you begin to be more intentional about living your life on mission?

Someone showed me a somewhat humorous poster online this week. It’s a picture of Jesus wearing white robes sitting on a park bench next to a young man in jeans and a tee shirt. They are leaning toward each other talking. The caption has Jesus saying: “No, I’m not talking about twitter, I want you to literally follow me.” It seems clear when you read it in the Bible and yet the truth is we do seem slow
An old proverb says: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” You don’t have to know all the details of what it might mean to begin today with the next step. Tell Christ, you will follow him.

Continue reading the Bible. I want to keep the reading list for Scripture for this project relatively simple and easily assessable. If you finish John consider reading Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians or Luke. I’d recommend sticking to those books for the most part during “The Walk”. If you are really wanting to branch out consider asking the group or person you are doing The Walk with to make suggestions. The important thing is to try to be consistent in your reading. Write down your questions, thoughts and insights as you read. Don’t forget to review your memory verse from last week and this week.

The Walk: Week 5 – Day 4- “The Spiritual Disciplines of Jesus.”

•February 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

What following Jesus means, first, is living like Jesus in our personal character but there is something else that following Jesus has to mean for us. It is something that is often neglected but without which we can never effectively live like Jesus in our daily lives and challenges. When you look at the life of Jesus in the gospels you don’t just see his personal character or outward behavior but the spiritual disciplines underneath that character and behavior. That’s the second way in which we have to learn to live like him.

We sometimes we try to imitate Christ the way a little boy tries to imitate his favorite baseball player. The little boy wears his hats just the way his favorite player wears his. He steps up to the plate, plants his feet and holds his bat just the way his favorite player holds his. What the little boy doesn’t understand is that if he really wants to play like his favorite player he can’t just imitate what that player does on the field. He has to imitate what that player does off the field and before the game. He has to prepare in private for the performance he hopes to achieve in public. He has to spend time in the gym, on the track and in the batters cage. In the same way to follow Christ means not just that as we go out into the world that we try to show the love of Christ and the courage of Christ and the uncompromising truthfulness of Christ. It means all of that but much more. We have to practice the private disciplines by which he strengthened His relationship to God and prepared Himself for his public life. Jesus had incredible poise and power in public and with people because He took time to be alone with God.

There are two spiritual disciplines that seem foundational in the life of Jesus. Jesus filled his heart with Scripture and kept close to God through prayer.

Jesus filled his heart with Scripture, to follow him we must live like that. In Luke 11:28, Jesus said, “Blessed … are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Jesus didn’t just give that out as advice for others. He lived in light of that realty. The attitude of Jesus to the Bible shines through his words and his life everywhere once you look for it. It’s not just that every now and then he says, “Let me tell you what I think about the Bible”. It’s more like His doctrine or view of the Bible is on every page of his story and in every step of his life. He faces every danger, resists every temptation, resolves every argument, and expresses every joy with the Bible and often in the very words, phrases and verses of the Bible. What we have come to call The Golden Rule is Jesus quoting a verse from the book of Leviticus (19:18). His famous beatitudes are mostly quotes from the book of Psalms. As he is dying on the cross Jesus quotes a psalm to express his grief. In death people cling to what they value most in life. For Jesus Scripture is not just a book about God or a means of knowing right from wrong but a living and life-giving source of spiritual power and truth. Jesus immersed his life in the Scriptures, to follow him we must live like that.

Jesus kept close to God with prayer, to follow him we must live like that. Luke 5:15 says, Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Notice Jesus withdrew from people not just to be alone but to be with God and to speak with God in prayer. Prayer is just a personal conversation with God. Prayer is asking for his guidance and for his help. In prayer you surrender your will to His will and place your dependance on him. Jesus understood and taught that God’s power flows primarily to people who pray. He lived a life of prayer and told us to pray. To follow him you have to live like that.

Albert Einstein said, “Human beings dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible player”. I’m not sure what Einstein meant by that but I do know that when we look at the life of Jesus we see a man who lives, dances by a mysterious tune that comes from God. His life is immersed in the words of Scripture and empowered by his communion with God in prayer. The influence of God flows into and floods his life and he lives the way he lives in public because of the relationship he has with God in private.

What Spiritual disciplines or practices have been most helpful for you at this stage in your spiritual life?

What would you most like to work on?

What are the biggest obstacles you face in developing these disciplines and how might you plan to overcome those obstacles to follow Jesus in a life of prayer and Scripture reading?

To follow Jesus we also have to fill our hearts with Scripture and keep close to God in prayer. I know many of you read your Bible and pray daily. Keep doing that. Keep memorizing Scripture also. It is clear from the life of Jesus that he memorized Scripture so that he had it in his heart and on his lips. Take a scripture that speaks to your life now, print it out or write it down. Learn it by heart. If you never read your bible then look at Jesus, hear him calling you to follow him and start today. And pray. In prayer you declare your dependance on God and guard your communion with God just as Jesus did.

The Walk: Week 5 – Day 3 – “An inspiring example”.

•February 18, 2012 • 2 Comments

Week 5 – Day 3 – “An inspiring example”.

Once while doing some training for The Person of Jesus study we spent some time looking at a story about Jesus that focused on his compassion for a widow who had lost her son. It was amazing to look carefully at how Jesus saw this woman’s need and responded with such compassion. At the end we made a chart on the one side we wrote “Jesus” on the other side: “me”. Under Jesus we wrote things like: seeing clearly, compassionate, unhurried, patient, giving. Then we compared our lives. We wrote things like: Busy, distracted, impatient, self-focused and self-protective. I know that for me looking at Jesus I felt convicted but not crushed. I saw where I need to be more like him. But I was inspired, to want to choose that path and walk with him.

The reason you can look right at the example of Jesus and see how different you are than he is and yet not be condemned is because while Jesus is our example he is more than just an example. He is first of all our Savior. He lived his perfect life for us, and then he gave that life as a sacrifice for us. He does not save us by giving us an example to live up to but by dying for our sins on the cross and rising again as our Lord. We don’t and cannot earn our salvation by conforming our life to his example. We can never fully accomplish that perfection. We are saved by grace through trusting Jesus as our Savior. But when we receive Christ what has happened is we have been born again. We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Christ lives in us and now, because we belong to him, we are called by him, to live like him.

Review the two graphic illustrations we have used during the walk. As you do reflect on how the truths illustrated enable you to look at the example of Jesus and at your own life and be inspired to be like him instead of crushed by your short-comings.

The above illustration is too often what we do. The one that follows is what we need to do!

 

Then, here is the other graphic we have talked about in The Walk…

Write a brief statement that expresses in your own words the way in which the gospel, what Jesus has done for you by his grace, encourages you and empowers you to follow him as your example.

Continue reading the Bible. I want to keep the reading list for Scripture for this project relatively simple and easily assessable. If you finish John consider reading Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians or Luke. I’d recommend sticking to those books for the most part during “The Walk”. If you are really wanting to branch out  consider asking the group or person you are doing The Walk with to make suggestions. The important thing is to try to be consistent in your reading. Write down your questions, thoughts and insights as you read. Don’t forget to review your memory verse from last week and this week.

The Walk: Week 5 – Day 2 – “Character”

•February 17, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Week 5 – Day 2 – “Character”

Think about the passage we read earlier. In John 13 Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. This was an act of deep humility and care and servant-hood. Then he said this, verses 15-17: I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. He isn’t just talking about foot washing as a ritual but as a picture of a way of life. Verse 16: I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. There is no question that Jesus is saying: “imitate my lifestyle, live like I live.

But in what sense are we to live like Jesus? It’s clear that He doesn’t mean we should all wear robes and sandals or eat kosher, it’s deeper than that. He doesn’t mean we have to perform the same unique miracles or teach throngs of people, or make amazing personal claims like: I am the resurrection and the life, or I am the light of the world. It’s simpler than that. He is talking about your personal character, the way you live your life, the way you behave in this world.

Could it be that in one sense there is a danger in our worship of Jesus. He is worthy of our worship and we should worship him but the danger is that in worshipping him as God and Savior we so remove him from the way we view our lives and our human experience that we don’t consider him a viable or practical example of how we should live each day. But he is our example! He needs to be.

Take a moment to look at the following Scriptures. As you reflect on these Scriptures, jot down some of the ways in which you are to be like Jesus. But think about what it means and what it would look like. For instance if the verse says: “love the way Jesus loved” don’t just repeat that but prayerfully think about what it means. How did he love and therefore how should you love?

Jesus in John 13:34 says, ,A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Paul in Ephesians 5 says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her….”

Paul in Philippians 2:5 says, Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

Peter in 1 Peter 2:21 says, to this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

John, in 1 John 2:6 Talks about resisting sin and obeying God in love and says, Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Are there other ways of living like Jesus that come to mind? If so jot them down below.

Continue reading the Bible. I want to keep the reading list for Scripture for this project relatively simple and easily assessable. If you finish John consider reading Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians or Luke. I’d recommend sticking to those books for the most part during “The Walk”. If you are really wanting to branch out consider asking the group or person you are doing The Walk with to make suggestions. The important thing is to try to be consistent in your reading. Write down your questions, thoughts and insights as you read. Don’t forget to review your memory verse from last week and this week

The Walk – Week 5, Day 1 – “I have set you an example”

•February 17, 2012 • Leave a Comment

John 13:12-17 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

John 20:19-21 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Years ago when Connie and lived in Topeka Kansas we sometimes went to a park where there was a little cottage or a garden study. In that cottage, in 1896, a local pastor named Charles Sheldon had written a classic book titled: “In His Steps”. It was a book that challenged Christians to live their lives in the footsteps of Jesus. It is in that book that the question, “What would Jesus do?” first shows up. The question comes up when a poor man hanging around outside a church hears the people singing, All for Jesus, All for Jesus – All my being’s ransomed powers, All my thoughts, and all my doings,- all my days and all my hours. The poor man says he doesn’t get it. He says he sees so much suffering in the world and yet he hears these Christians in the nice clothes, living in nice houses, with money to spend on luxuries while all around there is so much need and so much suffering. It is in context that he asks the question, “What would Jesus do?” He is implying that Jesus would love and care for others.

In the 1990 that question was popularized through WWJD bracelets. And then, as is typical in a cynical culture, the question became a tool for marketing, as in campaigns that asked, What would Jesus buy or what would Jesus drive.” It was used to push the, “What would Jesus eat?” diet cookbook which claimed to be the ultimate diet for longer life. It shows up, somewhat tongue in cheek on a website named, What would Jesus listen to, a website that offers reviews on Christian electronic dance music. People just took it and ran with it and than adapted it! There’s an online blog called, What would Tyler Durden Do? That’s a reference to a character in the novel and then movie Fight Club. The expression pops up now in many different forms. What would Johnny Cash do? What would Lincoln do?

In the end this idea that people might actually pattern their lives after the example of Jesus and imitate him, and try to do what he would do in daily life get’s lost in what been turned into an ironic and light-hearted catch phrase that we don’t have to take seriously. We don’t need to try to revitalize or redeem the particular phrase; “What would Jesus do?” We don’t need to pass out bracelets either. But if we want to follow Jesus, we do have to take the reality of living like him and doing what he would do seriously. When Jesus calls us to follow him. He is calling us to live like him. He wants you to live the way he lived.

Look at John 13:15, and reflect on some of the ways Jesus is, or can be an example for you. Write them down below.

Look at John 20:21 and reflect on some of the ways you have been sent by the father just as the Father send Jesus. Write them down below.

Our memory verse this week is; John 20:21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Continue reading the Bible. I want to keep the reading list for Scripture for this project relatively simple and easily assessable. If you finish John consider reading Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians or Luke. I’d recommend sticking to those books for the most part during “The Walk”. If you are really wanting to branch out consider asking the group or person you are doing The Walk with to make suggestions. The important thing is to try to be consistent in your reading. Write down your questions, thoughts and insights as you read. Don’t forget to review your memory verse from last week and this week.

The Walk: Week 4 – Day 5, “Motives”

•February 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Week 4 – Day 5, “Motives”

The meaning of discipleship is to follow Christ with total commitment. Now, if that’s what it means to follow him, why would anyone do it? What’s the motivation for this life of discipleship? The answer to that question is just as clear in this passage. It is this: The motive for discipleship is found in the Christ who calls us to follow him. Notice that this teaching on following Jesus begins with Jesus asking the disciples a question: Who do you say I am? In verse 20 Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” Verse 21 says that immediately Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. There’s a reason for that. The Jewish people in Jesus days had misinterpreted the prophecies about his coming and had an unbalanced set of expectations about what he would do. They believed the Christ would primarily be a political leader who would save them from the Romans. For Jesus to be widely proclaimed as the Christ in that atmosphere would have almost certainly led to more misunderstanding than clarity. In verse 22 Jesus begins to explain what is actually going to happen. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Notice he said, the Son of Man must suffer, and be rejected and killed. Why did he have to suffer and die? Because he isn’t just a political savior. He is a Savior, who saves us from our sins by suffering and dying for us. His death is the necessary sacrifice for our salvation. His resurrection is the proof of our redemption. Our motive for following Him is based on the bigness and the beauty of who he is and what he has done! If he is the Christ of God who dies as our Savior and is raised from the dead as our Lord and offers us redemption and life and relationship with God, through faith in him, than it only makes sense that we would trust him and love him and therefore follow him.

We follow Christ because we trust him. Trust him when he says what he says in verse 24: For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. This one saying of Jesus is repeated in all four of the gospels. It shows up in different settings and at multiple times. It seems to be one of Jesus’ most often repeated sayings. Because it reveals his purpose in calling you to follow him it raises the issue of your trust in him. His purpose is that you will live more fully, and save your life, by living your life for him.

We follow Christ because we love him. There is something very personal about all of this. You see it in verse 24-25: For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. For what purpose? Jesus says you have to do it for me. Not only because you trust me but also because you love me. Where does that love come from? It comes from his love for us. If you believe in Him then believe this: You are the reason that he said, “I must suffer many things and be killed and rise again the third day.” What you could never earn or deserve, he freely gives you the moment you turn to him and trusts in him as your Savior. That first step of faith is crucial. It is the first step in a relationship with God and Christ. But it’s just the first step. It was never intended to be the only step. It’s the first step in a journey of discipleship in which as you live life with Christ and find life in Christ you commit to live life for him.

As we complete this week’s study on commitment: living life for Christ. Take a moment to write a summary paragraph. In your own words try to express how trust in Christ and love for Christ empowers of life of commitment to Christ.

Continue reading the Bible. Keep reading the gospel of John. If you are reading a lot and finish John consider reading Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians or Luke. Or ask the group or person you are doing The Walk with to make suggestions. The important thing is to try to be consistent in your reading. Write down your questions, thoughts and insights as you read. Don’t forget to review your memory verse from last week and this week.

 
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