Spiritual Disciplines: Bible Study {Week 1}

This week on the panel, we’ll hear from a variety of women, in different seasons of life share how they study the Bible. Prior to watching the video, complete Week 1 in the study (p.7-18). This will be the longest week of homework we have since bible study is the foundation for most of the other disciplines!

After you’ve watched the video, leave a comment below with one new insight you had from this week’s homework or the panel.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/118777229″>2015 02 03 – Women’s Bible Study Week 2</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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Spiritual Disciplines: Intro

I’m so glad you’ll be joining us these next 7 weeks to learn how to cultivate your love for God through different spiritual disciplines.

In this intro video, Katie and I share how this study came about as well as our greatest hope for this study-that we would love God more and understand the gospel in a deeper way, not just become more religious. Prior to watching this video, make sure you’ve done the homework for the intro week (p.4-5).

After you’ve watched the video, leave a comment below with thoughts or how you’re hoping to grow over these next few weeks!

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/118768022″>2015 01 27 – Women’s Bible Study Week 1</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

What Is the Gospel?

“A test”
“A road map for how to live your life”
“The books about Jesus”
“The Cross and Jesus dying for our sins”

All of these are responses I’ve received when I’ve asked the question, “what is the Gospel?”

How would you answer that? What is the Gospel?

 

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Image Credit: Harold Lloyd, Creative Commons

I can remember people telling me all of my life that I was a sinner, telling me Jesus died for me, and if I wanted to go to Heaven I needed to believe in Him. And none of that ever made sense to me. First of all, I wasn’t a sinner, I was a good person. Sure I did some “bad stuff,” but a sinner?? That’s a little harsh. Secondly, Jesus died for me? What does that even mean?

All I really knew of Christianity was some of my “Christian” friends telling my very best Jewish friend she was going to Hell because she didn’t believe in Jesus, and I personally didn’t want any part in that. So I sided with my Jewish friend and went to synagogue with her in 7th & 8th grade. That’s right you guys, I was practically Jewish for 2 years.

Then I started going to Christian church with my high school boyfriend’s family, and I think became a Christian then? I don’t really know because once I was introduced to cigarettes and booze, I left all that behind and ran to the party scene. And that was where I lived, a little bit Jewish, a little bit Christian, believed in God, was a good person (during the week), and sort of knew about Jesus. Until my father passed away suddenly and I realized this little made-up belief, and idea of being a good person and in control of my own life came crashing down in front of me.

Shortly after my father passed away, I was confronted with all of this God stuff once again. I knew deep within my heart I wasn’t in control of my life, my time on Earth, and neither was anyone else. But how can I know God? How can I know there is just one God? And what about Jesus? Why is everyone always telling me about Jesus? And in complete humility and honesty, I looked at my now-husband and asked him about God. I asked him about why people called me a sinner, why people told me about Jesus and asked:

“What does His death have to do with my life?”

I needed to make sense of this life, my life, and Jesus’s life. Because if what people were telling me was true, then His life and death have implication on my life.

So what is the Gospel?

Gospel literally means good news. The good news that Jesus lived the life we couldn’t live, and died the death we should have died.

In one word, the Gospel is . . . Jesus.

God created the world and everything in it (Gen. 1:1).
He set man on the earth, as His prize creation, and gave him a choice (Gen. 2:15-17).
Sin entered the world through the Deceiver, by tempting mankind to choose between trusting God at His word or eating the fruit of disobedience (Gen. 3:1-7).

Sin is simply trying to find satisfaction outside of God. It’s selfishness. It’s choosing our own way over God and His kind of life.

Adam and Eve ate the fruit of disobedience, and we do the same to this very day (Rom. 3:10-18, 23). When we sin, we break relationship with God. Something must be done in order to be brought back into right standing with God (righteousness) and inherit eternal life. A perfect sacrifice, a satisfactory payment, a fulfillment to the Law (Rom. 3:22-24, Matt. 5:17) must be made to inherit eternal life.

Religion and humanistic thinking tells us we can do enough good so that God will be pleased with us.
God tells us there is one way He is pleased with us . . .
Believing in His son (Acts 16:31).

In order to be brought into right relationship with God, a perfect sacrifice, a sufficient payment, must be made for our ransom. Jesus Christ paid for our sins with His perfect life by dying on the Cross.

His death was the satisfactory payment for our sin (1 John 2:1).

But it doesn’t just stop there. His death and His resurrection bring us new life (2 Cor. 5:17). The Gospel is what Jesus did for us on the cross, but it’s also the promise of new life. The Gospel is walking in the power of the Resurrection and living out our new life (Gal. 2:20).

The Gospel is Jesus.
The Gospel is hope.
The Gospel is grace and mercy new every day.

God
Man
Sin
Jesus
New Life

THAT is the Gospel.

Reading & Reflection

1. Read Romans 8. What words or phrases do you see repeated in the first 16 verses?

2. What is the difference between living in the flesh and living in the Spirit?

3. Do you struggle to believe Romans 8:1? Do you truly believe you’ve been forgiven of sin and God sees you as righteous? Spend some time reading the last few verses of chapter 8 and reminding yourself of God’s love.

 

I’m so excited to announce that we will begin a study of the book of Philippians beginning on Monday! Will you consider joining us??
Sign up here if you want to read along with us the month of August.

Am I a Legalist If I Don’t Drink?

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Early in May, a very famous worship pastor posted a picture of himself enjoying a beer poolside. It was innocent enough; he was just enjoying the warm weather, good friends, and a cold brew. I’ve seen stuff like this 1,000 times on Facebook and Instagram. Yet, for some reason it really bothered me, probably more than it should have.

I started thinking, “What was the point of that picture? Why did he make sure to capture the can of beer and post it on social media?”

It also kept making me ask myself the question “Am I a legalist if I don’t drink? Do I not fully understand freedom in Christ?”

I have been sober for nearly 8 years. Meaning, I don’t drink, at all, ever (except that one time I tried to impress my Italian in-laws by making vodka sauce for pasta, messed up the recipe, and didn’t cook out the vodka. That was accidental, I didn’t mean for my food to taste like a shot of Popov).

The last time I drank alcohol was at a wedding. I hadn’t been drinking as often (in college I drank just about every day for 5 years straight) so my tolerance was lower. I had several glasses of wine, got drunk and on the way home asked my husband to stop by a fast food place so I could eat. I never really eat fast food when I’m sober, but I’m drunk, I just want Del Taco or In-n-Out sooooo bad.

He said no. He didn’t want to stop there at midnight, so I could binge on a grilled cheese and fries. In my drunkenness I got angry and called him an “a*% hole” for not taking me there.

I woke up the next morning in complete shame and guilt. I was a Christian, involved in a bible study, my heart was sold out for the LORD, and I had just gotten drunk and called my husband an “a*% hole” the night before. And that was it for me. I knew I didn’t have a healthy, self-controlled relationship with booze.

Alcoholism runs on both sides of my family. I can remember as a child my uncle taking me to my friend’s house, and on the way he stopped to buy a bottle of vodka and told me “Now you can’t tell your mom and dad about this, okay?” He had been in lots of trouble for his drinking and wasn’t supposed to be drinking at all, and I saw from an early age the power of addiction. I visited another family member in the hospital after they had crashed their car into a tree as a result of drunk driving. The reality of what alcoholism can do was very real to me at an early age.

The first time I got drunk I was in 8th grade. I had a fake ID at age 17 and made some terrible choices from the time I was 17-22 that I would give anything to give back. Thankfully, by the power of Christ and the freedom in the Gospel, I don’t have to live in shame and guilt anymore. I know that Jesus has not only saved me and forgiven me of my sin, He gives me the power daily to no longer walk in bondage to that sin.

I say all of this, because I have noticed in the past couple of years this trend among Christians to post pictures of themselves drinking. Summer is approaching, beer will be flowing, drinks will be offered at parties, and I will feel more and more like the weaker brother every time I see those pictures go up on social media.

And I’m not really sure the point of all of this? Is posting a picture of your cocktail or beer really helpful?

I get it. You don’t want people to think you’re one of those “rule following, exclusive, legalistic Christians”.  Sadly, there have been Christians that have turned alcohol into a black and white issue, and said that all drinking is bad, etc. I’m not saying that. The bible doesn’t say that. If you don’t struggle with drunkenness, then having a glass of wine or a drink is a gift from the LORD to be enjoyed! “Do not get drunk with wine” (Ephesians 5:18) IS in Scripture. “Do not drink wine” is NOT in Scripture. Obeying His word is not legalism, adding to it is.

Drinking alcohol is not a sin. Being led astray or controlled by it is.

I’m grateful for the example my husband was to me early on when it came to alcohol. He was not controlled by it, in fact seeing that he could have just one drink and not get drunk or have a need for more, made me realize there was another way to live.

So again, I’m not saying not to drink, we keep alcohol in our house, serve wine to our guests at dinner, I just don’t partake. I’m just asking you to consider that there are people who have a very real struggle and addiction to alcohol, and to just be aware of that.

When you post that picture or status update of yourself holding a cold brew, is it helpful? Is it really about helping others walk in freedom?

Do you think about others who may stumble because of this?

Have you ever sat with someone in recovery and heard their story?

If you have freedom to drink alcohol, great! Enjoy it. But do you have to post about it?

And most of all, please don’t judge, criticize, tease or accuse of legalism those who have had to make the decision to stay sober. I hope there is wine in Heaven. It will be good! And I will be able to enjoy it because my sin nature will be gone, and I won’t have to struggle with getting drunk and cussing at my husband.

Some helpful verses on what the bible says about drinking and drunkenness:

Proverbs 20:11 Corinthians 6:9-11, Titus 2:3, Ephesians 5:15-21

For more of my journey read here:  From the Bars to the Pews

Other articles that are helpful when considering alcohol around people who are sober:

10 Things You Should Never Say to a Sober Person

Why I Gave Up Alcohol