Year of the Bible – Luke 4:1-13

Epiphany
“. . . If you are the Son of God,
tell this stone to become
bread.”
Luke 4:3

Luke 4:1-13

Trust in the Word

Epiphany starts with the baptism of Jesus. Jesus was baptized that he might take upon Himself our sins, and so that, through our baptism into Christ, we might receive from Him His perfect righteousness. God, therefore, is at peace with those who have been baptized into Christ. The righteousness of Christ has become our righteousness. We are holy because we have the holiness of Christ, not because we live sinless lives. We do not see our righteousness because it is RECKONED TO US. Therefore, we can only see and receive it by faith. When we have trials and tribulations in life, we always question if God has forgotten us, or has failed to protect us, or is punishing us. Only those who are perfectly righteous and know it can resist such temptation, for God cannot forget the righteous, God will not punish the righteous, God will always protect the righteous. To show us the power of faith and righteousness over Satan and temptation, the Holy Spirit took Jesus into the wilderness. Tempted for forty days, Jesus showed His perfect faith in operation. He trusted in God’s Word to sustain Him, even when God gave Him no bread to eat. Thus, He resisted the power of Satan and remained free from Satan’s destructive powers (in contrast to Adam – cf. Romans 6). He was very much LIKE Abraham, but He was far MORE than Abraham. Jesus never doubted, thus He was freed from the power of evil. This is the power and blessing given to the righteous by God. In baptism, God gives and seals to us all the same rights Christ had throughout His wilderness temptation. Christians are permitted to use their baptism and faith in God’s Word in the same way.

 

Luke Questions:

  1. What is the great exchange in baptism? We get Jesus’ ____________ and He gets our ___________.
  2. Is the baptized Christian holy?
  3. Explain the word “reckoned.”
  4. Where did Jesus go after He was baptized?
  5. What do we mean when we say that Jesus’ faith overcame Satan’s temptation?
Year of the Bible – Epiphany Week One | Thursday | Luke 4 – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Isaiah 14:1-17-14

Epiphany - Isaiah 14

 

 

How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn!

Isaiah 14:12

Isaiah 14:1-17:14 (14:1-2)

The Fallen Morning Star

God’s people were often taken into captivity because of their unbelief. They were dispossessed of the same land that God gave them through Abram. Why God got angry was not often clear to the Israelites. Israel often turned away from God. They did not know Him or His Word and promise. They had refused to listen to His Word. When He spoke to them through the prophets, they simply denied His commands and promises and mistreated the prophets. This does not mean that they were not religious. They prayed and worshipped someone called “God.” But they did not study His Word, they did not care about His Word and covenants. So, to wake them up, God sent them into captivity. God used their neighboring enemies to teach them a lesson, and though it was severe, it was also a lesson of love. Isaiah spoke God’s Word to the Israelites – a word of warning AND peace. Israel would be destroyed because she had broken faith and covenant with God. The destroyers of the Israelites, however, would themselves, in time, be destroyed and the people of God set free. The King of Babylon (the morning star) would be destroyed and forgotten. The Philistines and Moabites and Arabs would also get their day of judgment. In the future, Israel would be restored. God would turn away His anger, be reconciled to Israel and have compassion on His children. An unbelievable miracle, the miracles of all miracles, Isaiah predicted. But it could hardly be grasped because their hearts were not turned in faith to the Word. The day was coming when even the enemies of God’s people would join Israel in the worship and praise of the true and living God. Even the Gentiles would become righteous through faith. That is one of the great joys of the Epiphany season. The Gentiles will see and believe!

 

 

Questions – Isaiah 14

  1. What was the main reason for God sending His people into captivity?
  2. What commandment do we violate when we refuse to hear God’s Word?
  3. Explain how a person can be religious without really being a Christian.
  4. Describe Isaiah’s message of warning and peace?
  5. What happened to Israel’s enemies?
  6. What great event did Isaiah predict?
Year of the Bible – Epiphany Week One | Wednesday | Isaiah 14 – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Genesis 15:1-16:35

Epiphany - Week One - Genesis 15

 

 

“. . . but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.”

                        Genesis 15:4

Genesis 15:1-16:35 (15:1-6)

Abram and Sarai – (Trust/Justification)

Abram was afraid that he would not become a father. His fear was based upon two things. He wanted an heir from his own household. He also wanted to be the father (progenitor) of the Messiah. He had gotten very old. He seemed to have been filled with doubts. But God gave Him a promise. Abram would have descendants as numerous as the stars. Abram believed God and it was “reckoned to him” for righteousness. God “imputes” – declaring something to be what it is, so that through the power of His Word it becomes what God says it will be. That is how we become righteous before God. To help us understand imputation, God connects Abram’s righteousness to the ownership of Israel, the promised land. He “gave” the land to Abram. Notice how it became Abram’s land – even though he did not take it, even though no one else thought it was Abram’s, even though he would never fully experience it as his land. But it was his because God said it – His Word made it so!

Hagar and Ishmael: One wonders why Abram, at first very certain of God’s promise, started to “backslide”. He and Sarai became impatient and took matters into their own hands. Sarai’s Egyptian maid, Hagar, tried to have a “surrogate” child for Sarai, but she soon began to despise her mistress. Problems, huge and very long lasting problems (multi-generational – now reflected in Islam vs. Christianity, and between the Arab worlds and the west), came about because Abram and Sarai refused to rely on and trust in God’s Word. Today we are so often afraid to rely upon God’s promises because our reason and common sense get in the way. We need to remind ourselves daily that God’s Word and promise will never be taken from us, that as we walk in His paths, He will always shield and defend us.

Year of the Bible – Epiphany Week One | Tuesday | Genesis 15 – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Psalm 34

Epiphany - Week One - Psalm 34
 
 
 
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. Psalm 34:17
 

Psalm 34 (34:11-22)

As Epiphany comes near and we now turn our thoughts away from that sweet and glorious birth of Christ to the Lord’s first appearance at the River Jordan, the beginning of His ministry, we begin by meditating upon a series of comforting Psalms (34-41). Psalm 34 was written by David during the time that he was being pursued by King Saul. He fled to the city of the Philistines, but when his reputation as a great warrior became known, his life was in danger. In order to make himself seem harmless to the Philistines, David pretended to be insane. He drooled down his beard and made marks on the door whenever he was in their presence, so they let him go. After God delivered him from this danger, David wrote this psalm. It contains praise to God (Glorify the Lord with me v. 3) and his angel (v. 7); exhortations to Christian action based upon a trust in God (taste, see, fear, come). He calls the reader to turn away from a sinful life and to change (to repent). No matter how difficult life might be, David shows us, the Lord is always close and near to His beloved children and He hears their prayers. Just because a person is a child of God does not mean that he or she will not have trouble. Trouble comes even to the righteous. But God always hears, delivers, protects and redeems the “righteous” (v.17). 

 

Psalm Questions:

  1. In what way does the focus of Christmas change at Epiphany?
  2. What action was the beginning of the ministry of Jesus?
  3. Where had David been before he wrote this psalm?
  4. What got David out of trouble?
  5. Who got David out of trouble?
  6. What do you find most comforting about David’s psalm?
Year of the Bible – Epiphany Week One | Monday | Psalm 34 – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Christmas – Week 2

Christmas

Year of the Bible – Christmas 2

Since the full Year-of-the-Bible handouts conform with general confirmation instruction, daily devotionals are not available over Christmas. We encourage you to read the following passages in your daily studies.
Monday | Psalm 33
Tuesday | Genesis 8:13-14:24 (5:32-6:8)
Wednesday | Isaiah 13:6-22 (13:9-13)
Thursday | Mark 10:46-12:44 (12:35-44)
Friday | Luke 3:1-38 (3:1-18)
Saturday | Romans 3:1-4:25 (4:16-25)


Year of the Bible – Christmas – Week 1

Christmas

Year of the Bible – Christmas 1

Since the full Year-of-the-Bible handouts conform with general confirmation instruction, daily devotionals are not available over Christmas. We encourage you to read the following passages in your daily studies.
Monday | Psalm 26-32 (23)
Tuesday | Genesis 4:1-8:12 (4:1-16)
Wednesday | Isaiah 9;1-13-5 (12:1-6)
Thursday | Mark 8:27-10:45 (10:13-27)
Friday | Luke 2:1-52 (2:21-35)
Saturday | Romans 1:1-2:29 (2:17-29)


Year of the Bible – 1 Peter 1:1 – 5:14

Year of the Bible - Season of Advent - 1 Peter 1

 

 

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. – 1 Peter 1:23

1 Peter 1:1-5:14 (1:22-25)

Peter’s letter to the church, to new Christians scattered throughout the world, addresses them as “strangers in the world.” They had been regenerated, born anew, but they had to undergo suffering along with their newfound, glorious adoption into the family of God. Peter told them that God had a purpose in suffering: These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold . . . may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus is revealed. (1:7) Peter went on to explain that the sufferings of Christ had been predicted in the Bible. God’s way of destroying sin and evil is very different from man’s way. Only the Holy Spirit could reveal to us such a mystery. For some strange reason, sufferings are an instrument of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Peter urged them—and us—don’t conform your minds to the world, to its evil desires, but look to those things that God gives to protect and preserve while living in the world—look to the blood of the Lamb. If God’s Son suffered and was glorified, so also will all those who share in Christ be glorified. To that end, we Christians must separate ourselves from deceit and hypocrisy and crave God’s Word. We are to reflect upon our royal calling (2:9) and to distance ourselves from the ways of the evil world (Men will always think that our way of doing this is wrong and sinful – 2:11-12). Christians do not, because they are children of God, reject the authority of the world (governments, households, etc.). We must not seek methods and means of reprisal against evil. Justice will be done, for God will hear the prayers of the righteous and defend them (3:12). But God’s justice is sometimes quite slow because God patiently waits for men to repent—holding back punishment because He does not want to punish. And neither should we. So Christians should not be surprised when they experience “painful trials.” Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ . . .(4:12)

Questions – 1 Peter 1:1-5:14

  1. What does it mean to be a “stranger in the world?”
  2. If being a Christian, a child of God through faith, is so great, why do Christians experience tribulations?
  3. Why is there a relationship between Christians not taking justice into their own hands and Christians being obedient to governments?
  4. If God does not want to punish evil men, why does He punish?
  5. If God does punish evil men, why does He wait so long to do it?
  6. Why are we to be joyful when we experience painful trials on account of our faith?
Year of the Bible – Advent Week Three | Saturday | 1 Peter 1:1-5:14 – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Luke 1:26-38

Year of the Bible - Season of Advent - Luke 1

 

 

 

I am the Lord’s servant…May it be to me as you have said. – Luke 1:38

Luke 1:26-38
Paralleling the great story of the conception of John the Baptist, Luke takes us to Nazareth for even greater news. Gabriel appears a second time to a woman pledged in marriage, a woman pledged to a man of the house of David. At the words of the angel: The Lord is with you, Mary heard the unbelievable news that the Messiah was to be conceived within her womb. Wonder of wonders, He would reign over His father’s house and the house of Jacob (of all believers)—and His kingdom would never end. It would be eternal. Human reason cannot fathom or accept this announcement. It goes beyond laws of nature. It lies outside of the laws that govern creation and human life. But that is the point. Jesus was and always will be the Son of God, the eternal source of life, the Creator and Ruler of all things, visible and invisible. But that Creator, that Maker, that King of Kings and Lord of Lords would enter the womb of a woman and become a little, humble and lowly child. The Kingdom of God would be hidden to men’s eyes, but to the eyes of the humble ones, He would be seen and known as the Messiah. Mary’s lowliness came from knowing that she needed this Savior. She could not be righteous. Mary’s lowliness came from knowing that God had brought about this great deliverance through His mercy. God’s word of comfort to Mary is also of comfort to the lowly in faith who believe the Gospel: Nothing is impossible with God. (1:37)

Questions – Luke 1:26-38

  1. Where was Jesus conceived?
  2. Why was it important that Mary be a virgin?
  3. How was Jesus able to have the throne of David if he was not the natural son of Joseph?
  4. Why did Mary have to believe the incarnation by faith?
  5. Why is it not hard for us, as Christians, to believe that God could raise us from the dead?
Year of the Bible – Advent Week Three | Friday | Luke 1:26-38 – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Mark 5:37-8:21

Year of the Bible - Season of Advent - Mark 5

 

Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” – Mark 5:36 

Mark 5:37-8:21 (6:6b-13)
Jesus did not want anyone to know who He was. That may sound strange to us. If He were the Savior of the world, wouldn’t He want everyone to know about Him and His great miracles? Jesus did want men to believe in Him, but to believe in Him as a Savior from sin and eternal death, not merely as a Savior from human sickness and disease. In other words, people often got the wrong idea about who He was, so Jesus had to live a very humble and common life. Jesus came from Galilee and because He was so humble, the people of His hometown did not believe in Him. They had known Him as a common person from His youth. If someone were to be the Messiah, would He not be more glorious than Jesus had been? As a result of their unbelief, Jesus
could not do any miracles there . . . And he was amazed at their lack of faith (6:5). But that did not stop Jesus. He called his disciples and sent them out to destroy, through the preaching of His word, the power of Satan—to preach God’s grace, faith in God’s pardon. As He sent them, He commanded them to depend upon God’s Word to sustain them. He wanted them to anticipate the success of their preaching and rely upon God to provide for their daily needs. His preaching of the Gospel, the light of God shining in darkness, was the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies of Isaiah. Jesus did other SIGNS (miracles) to show that the favor of God rested upon Him: He feed five thousand people (and later, four thousand). He walked on water and controlled the forces of nature. He healed a deaf and mute man. These signs were intended to awaken faith and to lead men to trust in Him. Some did not. The Pharisees saw religion as an outward thing—acts and deeds of obedience, works of the law. They missed the more important part of a relationship with God: Faith, trust, reliance upon God and His Word. The SIGNS of God, therefore, did them no good. To give us an understanding of faith and how faith obtains God’s promises, we are privileged to study the story of the Syrophoenician woman (7:24-30). She did not come to Christ because she was worthy of His gifts—in fact, she saw herself as an unworthy dog at God’s table, begging for the scraps of His kindness. By faith she knew and trusted that Jesus was the sign of God’s will and desire to save her. As she trusted, trusted in His grace (in His righteousness as a gift to her through faith), she also received an answer to her prayers. It was to these types of persons that Jesus chose to reveal Himself. To the Pharisees, however, who were not approaching Jesus in the right way, Jesus refused to reveal Himself. “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.” (8:12)

Questions – Mark 5:37-8:21

  1. Why did Jesus not want His miracles to be widely known?
  2. Why did the people of Nazareth not believe in Jesus as the Messiah?
  3. Can you give examples today of people who follow Christ for the wrong reasons?
  4. How is the power of Satan destroyed?
  5. How are ministers of the Gospel supposed to earn their living?
  6. What kinds of signs did Jesus do to demonstrate that God was among men (Immanuel)?
  7. What is the purpose of a sign?
  8. How do you know that the Syrophoenician woman was coming to Jesus on the basis of His righteousness and not her own?
  9. What is faith and how does it realize God’s promises?
Year of the Bible – Advent Week Three | Thursday | Mark 5:37-8:21 – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Isaiah 4:2-5:30

Year of the Bible - Season of Advent - Isaiah 4

 

 

Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture; lambs will feed among the ruins of the rich. – Isaiah 5:17

Isaiah 4:2-5:30 (4:2-6)

Isaiah balances Law and Gospel in his proclamation to Israel. On the one hand, God, who had patiently sought the repentance of Israel, was going to destroy Israel for her proud arrogance, evil deeds, and stubborn unbelief. On the other hand, He was not going to forget her. A day would come when the “Branch”—a Messianic title—would appear to save her. Out of the stump of Jesse, the family of King David, a ruler would come and Zion would be cleansed of her sins. Then, Isaiah said, God’s judgment would purify the faith of Israel. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.(4:4) When the Messiah appeared, Isaiah promised, He would live and dwell among His people, protecting them from the storms of life. Then five woes—verdicts of condemnation— were pronounced by Isaiah against Israel: Woe to those who add house to house; Woe to those who rise early . . . to run after their drinks . . . Woe to those who draw sin with corks of deceit . . . Woe to those who call evil good and good evil . . . Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes. Isaiah presents us with the two-fold way that God judges evil: He declares condemnations upon evil men at the same time that He keeps and preserves the righteous from harm. But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will show himself holy by his righteousness. Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture; lambs will feed among the ruins of the rich. (5:16,17)

Questions – Isaiah 4:2-5:30

  1. What two great doctrines does Isaiah clearly distinguish and present?
  2. Which of these two doctrines promises to us that a Savior would be sent into the world to deliver us?
  3. What is the metaphoric name that Isaiah gives to the Savior and what does it mean?
  4. Why are we comforted when God issues judgments against our enemies?
  5. What is meant by the image of a lamb feeding among the ruins of the rich?
Year of the Bible – Advent Week Three | Wednesday |  Isaiah 4:2-5:30 – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Genesis 2:4-25

Year of the Bible - Season of Advent - Genesis 2

 

 

 

And they felt no shame. – Genesis 2:25

Genesis 2:4-25 (2:4-9, 15-25)

The telling of stories in the Hebrew Bible is circular – it usually tells the big story, then turns back and tells parts of the larger story in smaller stories, giving us greater detail. Beginning with 2:4, God, speaking through Moses, tells us how Adam and Eve were made, it tells us about the Garden of Eden and man’s purpose in being placed there, and it tells the story of the creation of woman from man – of Eve from Adam. Although the story is simple, it speaks theological volumes when we break it down into parts. How God went about forming man into His image is more clearly related. God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being. In every step, every action, God recalls how man is the image of God. We look to our own bodies for an example of what God is – just as we are “alive”, so God is a living being. As we “exist”, though we once did not exist, so God always has existed, always lived, always had qualities and attributes that were essentially and connected to His “being.” The text goes on to tell us that God “planted” a garden. Here now we see that God takes creation and cultivates it. God is a steward, a creator, but also a gardener, one who takes and produces fruit by giving care and attention to what he has cultivated. So also, being made in the image of God, we are to be stewards, cultivators of the earth, makers of gardens (that is, we have been given jobs, “vocations,” to which God has called us to do His work). We are to produce fruit through our stewardship. This is a reflection of God Himself, for He is the gardener that desires to produce the fruits of good works in us, works according to the commandments and flowing out of a love for God. Furthermore, the text tells us that there were rivers that flowed out of Eden. The changes that have come upon the earth in the flood probably wiped out all evidence of the Garden of Eden, but it was the source of four great rivers. This was the womb of mankind. And in that Garden God put two trees, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of one of those trees. Was God tempting man? Was God putting a stumbling block in front of man? A little closer look will reveal that God was actually giving Adam and Eve a device for knowing IF or WHEN they had sinned, a knowledge they would only need to have should they have sinned. In the beginning, pure innocence was enough. Innocence knows God and Truth without knowing evil, much like children can be innocent about sin, but at the same time know what IS good and right. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (representing the Law) was placed in the Garden of Eden should Adam and Eve fall into sin. God placed that tree in the garden and attached His command of Law to it so that sin, should it happen, would be compelled to violate the Law’s prohibition. In other words, had Adam and Eve sinned they would have eaten of the Tree and this would become the means for knowing that they had sinned. The original state of man, living in righteousness, innocence and blessedness was as natural as life itself. But since it was lost and this loss is passed down to the nature of all mankind, it was necessary for God to send His Son into the world as our Savior from guilt and the condemnation of the Law. God wants us to live in innocence once again. But how can this come to be? What was the promise?

Questions – Genesis 2:4-25

  1. What do we mean when we say the Bible tells stories in circles?
  2. Who wrote the Book of Genesis?
  3. What is meant when we say that man was made in the image of God?
  4. What does God want to do to us, like a farmer tending a garden?
  5. What did God forbid Adam and Eve to do?
  6. For what reason did God give them the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?
  7. What is the ideal “state” that God would have us be in, something we see in little children? Explain.
Year of the Bible – Advent Week Three | Tuesday | Genesis 2:4-25 – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Psalms 7-13

Year of the Bible - Season of Advent - Psalms 7-13

 

 

 

For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face. – Psalm 11:7

Psalms 7-13 (8)  

Psalm 8, a Messianic Psalm, marvels at the mysterious way that God goes about asserting His rule and power. In light of the wonders of what He made and rules, the psalmist ponders over the Messiah humbling Himself and entering our world with the lowly vesture of a man.

In Psalm 9 we are struck by the contrasting image (in comparison to Psalm 8) of the Lord as the ruler of nations who judges the world in righteousness, who powerfully delivers all who are persecuted for righteousness.

Psalm 10 The secret to prosperity, if we look at it from the perspective of the world, is to do evil. Goodness does not seem to pay. The wicked, who so often scorn God and His Word, seem to just get richer as they become more brutal. Oppressors seem to go unpunished. But not for long. God hears the cries of the oppressed and the meek and in time, He acts to defend the helpless who cry to Him. That is why this psalm praises Him while crying out for justice.

Psalm 11 Once again David cries out to God for protection and defense from his enemies. The wicked are like secret assassins, waiting in the shadows for a chance to kill, but God sees them because He rules the world from heaven. God knows the hearts of men and will treat them as they deserve.

Psalm 12 Desperation seems to overwhelm David. He looks for godly men around him and finds none. Flattery and deceit are in abundance, pride and arrogance abound. The only thing that is pure is the Word of God. David seems to make things seem very, very bad when he cries to God.

Psalm 13 David did the unthinkable. When things were so bad and nothing was going right for the king, David begins to praise God for His unfailing love. While in the throes of death, when his enemies seem to have completely won over him, David begins to praise God for His unfailing love.

Questions – Psalms 7-13 

  1. What is the mystery of the Messiah, according to Psalm 8?
  2. Does crime pay? Why or why not?
  3. Does God know everything?
  4. Is it OK for David to “push” God to act, knowing that God promises to act when truth and justice are taken from His people?
  5. Why should we praise God when things are bad?
Year of the Bible – Advent Week Three | Monday | Psalms 7-13  – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Colossians 1:1 – 4:18

Year of the Bible - Advent Week Two - Colossians 1

 

 

. . . clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience . . . and over all these virtues put on love. – Colossians 3:12,14

Colossians 1:1–4:18 (1:15–20)

The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Colossians in such a way that it could serve as a primer for Christian faith. The Word of God had been brought to them and the Holy Spirit had worked faith in their hearts, a faith that grew as the Word was studied more. Paul stated the Gospel in simple terms: . . . he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (1:13) Paul then went on to explain the mystery of Christ: He is the image of the invisible God . . . the firstborn of creation . . . creator of all things visible and invisible . . . before all things . . . the firstborn from the dead . . . the fullness of God. Prior to the coming of faith, the Colossians had been enemies of God. But through faith they had been reconciled to God— through Christ’s “body.” For this Gospel, the Apostle told them, he had been suffering. And they would too, if they separated themselves from the world and its way of thinking. At first, hardly a word is spoken by Paul about Christian living. Christian living is a meaningless subject without first coming to grasp the nature of Christian faith. What Christ has done FOR us is always first and above what he does THROUGH us. When we were baptized into Christ, we received all that we needed for life and salvation (2:9). We passed from death into life. The threats and condemnation of the law were cancelled. Now no one is permitted to judge God’s children in matters of law. Only after grasping these wonders of the faith are we ready to apply ourselves to the subject of Christian living, which Paul does in chapter three and beyond. The Christian is to put the sinful nature to death, casting it off like a dirty garment. We are to put on holy qualities, as though they were our clothing—but these clothes are the clothes of Christ himself: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (3:12) And we are to pray, with devotion, watchfulness and thankfulness (4:2-4), paying careful attention to how we act and behave with “outsiders.”

Questions – Colossians 1:1 – 4:18

  1. What do we mean when we say that faith “grows?”    
  2. Are there degrees of salvation?
  3. List some of the mysteries of the person of Christ?
  4. What is our status with God prior to or apart from faith?
  5. When (or in what way) are we reconciled to God through Christ’s body?
  6. Explain the ordering of faith and life.
  7. Why is no one permitted to judge our choice of food and drink—and for that matter, any matter of law?
  8. What metaphor does Paul use to describe our rejection of evil and our choosing of goodness?
  9. What kinds of things should we pray for?
  10. Why are Christians especially cautious about their conduct and behavior when dealing with non-Christians?
Year of the Bible – Advent Week Two | Saturday | Colossians 1:1 – 4:18 – © John W. Fiene


Year of the Bible – Luke 1:1-25

Year of the Bible - Advent Week Two - Luke 1

 

 

The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.” – Luke 1:19

Luke 1:1-25 (1:5-25)

A good prelude to the story of Christmas is the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. In order for God to clearly demonstrate to men that He was intervening in time and history for our salvation, God withheld from Elizabeth the privilege of conceiving and bearing children. Both she and her husband were advanced in years and were childless. This grieved her greatly. While doing pastoral service to God in the temple (Zechariah was a priest), the angel Gabriel revealed to Zechariah that His wife would come to bear a child—a very special child because He would precede the Messiah and prepare Israel to recognize Him. Zechariah was filled with doubt because he looked at the natural limitations of his age and the age of his wife. But because God’s Word had spoken the promise, this wonder came to be according to the Word of God. Our hearts are moved by the joy that was stored in the heart of Elizabeth as she kept this matter silent for five months. She believed that this did not happen through human means alone. Elizabeth revealed herself to be a woman of the light when she said, The Lord has done this for me. (1:25)

Questions – Luke 1:1 – 1:25

  1. What was the “cross” of Zechariah and Elizabeth?      
  2. Why did God permit them to have this cross?
  3. What was different about the way that Zechariah received the promise of God and the way that Elizabeth received it?
Year of the Bible – Advent Week Two | Friday | Luke 1:1-25 – © John W. Fiene