Archive for May, 2012
The text for this lesson is Genesis 24:10–28.
- By moving Rebekah to selfless service (drawing countless gallons of water for a man and his camels), God identified an ancestor of the One who would serve us by His suffering and death.
- Law: In our sinfulness, we think only of our own convenience and pleasure.
- Gospel: Jesus’ selfless sacrifice of His life and death (Romans 8:32) gives us all we need and frees us to serve others gladly.
- Describe God’s activity in the process of selecting a wife for Isaac.
- What evidence does the servant receive that his mission to find a wife for Isaac is a success (Genesis 12: 17–20)? What is the servant’s response (Genesis 12:26–27)?
- God had promised many descendants to Abraham (Genesis 15:1–21), including the Savior. Isaac was the son through whom this would happen. The selection of a suitable wife was an important job for this servant. How did the servant love and serve his master, Abraham? How do we know that he trusted in the Lord?
- In what way or ways did the servant serve his master, Abraham?
- Both Abraham and his servant demonstrated faith that God would provide the help they needed for all details of life. Which act of faith most amazes you?
- Read Genesis 24:16–21. How did Rebekah love and serve Abraham’s servant? Why did Rebekah water the servant’s camels?
- How did God work through the humans in the Bible story to show His love?
- When you are asked to do something difficult, how do you respond? Who has done something very difficult for you?
- Read Martin Luther’s explanation of the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer. What is your daily bread? God works through the vocations of others to care for us. Give examples of how people are “daily bread.”
- Just as Rebekah welcomed the servant who had traveled a long distance to serve his master, Abraham, God gives us many people who serve us through hospitality—making us feel welcome and comfortable away from home. Who are some of these workers? How can you show God’s love to these people?
The text for this lesson is Revelation 21–22.
- Those who believe that salvation has been accomplished by the all-availing sacrifice of Jesus’ blood on the cross will bear the name of Christ written on their forehead in Holy Baptism and will have the right to the tree of life.
- Law: If I do not believe in Christ as my Savior, I will not enter the gates of heaven.
- Gospel: I am baptized and believe in Jesus, the Lamb of God; He has written my name in His Book of Life, and I shall be saved.
- Sometimes we consider our eternal home to be a celestial, otherworldly place. Read Revelation 21:2–3 again. From where does our eternal home come? Where is our eternal home going to be?
- Imagine a world without money. Our eternal home will be one in which God will “give from the spring of the water of life without payment” (v. 6). How would your world change if there were no need for money?
- When John is lifted up and given a vision of our eternal home, he sees the city walls and gates. The walls are built upon twelve foundations, “and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (v. 14). In the Creed, we confess a belief in “one holy Christian and apostolic Church” (LSB, p. 158). How do the twelve apostles even now form the foundation for the Church? In what sense is our church apostolic?
- We are accustomed to thinking about the church as God’s house. On our altars in our sanctuaries, God’s glory dwells in, with, and under the bread and wine. Revisit verses 22–27. How is our eternal home going to differ from our current state?
- It is often said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Read Revelation 22:4. Someday, we will get to see God face-to-face. If faith is the “conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1), then what will become of faith in heaven?
- John records an extensive list of those who will not be in the kingdom. These include “sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:15). Does this imply that those who do such deeds are not capable of entering heaven? Does this reject the idea that we are saved by faith alone?
- The Scriptures are God’s own story in His own words. How would you feel if someone came along and changed your story? How would you feel if someone spoke your story in different words? Look at verses 18–19. How does God feel about someone changing His story or His words?
- Read verses 20–21. These are the last words of the Bible. You have just read some of the most amazing promises that God makes anywhere in the Bible. There will be no more tears and no more pain. There will no longer be anything accursed. Jesus, our Lamb, will be our light. Would you give up this creation for the joys of the new creation? Can you say, “Come, Lord Jesus”?
The text for this lesson is Acts 27.
- As Christ was with Paul and his companions, so He is with me, holding me up, keeping me with Him in the ship of the Church, and casting all my sins into the depths of the sea.
- Law: In sinful despair, I let the pains of the present overtake me and no longer believe in God or trust His redemption or love.
- Gospel: Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever, rides out the storms of life with me, granting me hope in my future redemption.
This week’s podcast comes from our archives.
- Revisit Acts 27:1–8 again. Paul is on his way to Rome to be tried. He faces severe punishment if he is found guilty. Yet, there is no sign of mourning or fear. In fact, Paul befriends his captors. What kind of trust must Julius have in Paul to allow him to go see his friends before he leaves?
- In verse 10, Paul warns the crew that if they continue on their course, there will be a loss of ship, cargo, and life. Does this come to pass? Read verses 21–23. How does God show Paul that he was wrong? Which of the three objects—ship, cargo, or people—will God save? What might this show us that God values most?
- In verse 24, an angel of God delivers a marvelous promise to Paul. The angel says, “‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.” What does the angel mean when he tells Paul that God has granted all those who he sails with to Paul?
- Read verses 31–32. In the beginning of the journey, Paul warned the guards, but they did not listen. Now do the soldiers listen to Paul? Is this act of obedience a sign of faith?
5. In verse 34, Paul promises that God will not allow a single hair to perish from their heads. Yet God has not acted directly in any miraculous way to save the crew of the ship. Reflect for a minute upon the simple, normal ways in which God directs the ship. How might this challenge us in our own lives to reflect upon the way that God works?
- Food is so very important. It nourishes us, gives us strength, and helps us to do our daily work. Paul offers bread to everyone on the ship. They hadn’t eaten in two weeks. How does God feed us? In what ways can we find a comparison between Paul’s feeding of the 276 on the ship and Jesus’ feeding us through the Lord’s Supper? In what ways do they differ?
- Study verses 39–42. No matter what the sailors do, there is no winning in this situation. They are in trouble. During this time, the soldiers despair. What is their plan? How does their plan compare to God’s plan in verse 34?
- Read verses 43–44. Why does the centurion seek to save Paul? How does the centurion become an unwitting partner in God’s plan to save everyone on board the ship?
The text for this lesson is Acts 16:16–40.
- Just as God freed Paul and Silas from prison, granting them life out of death, so Christ by His crucifixion and resurrection frees me from the prison of my sins and grants me life eternal.
- Law: The world hates Christ and His followers and painfully rejects me because of Him.
- Gospel: The Spirit pours the peace of Christ into me, forgiving, strengthening, and sustaining me in Christ.
- Revisit Acts 16:16–20. Paul and Silas meet a woman with a spirit of divination, or a “Pythian” spirit. The word resembles our word python. What kind of imagery comes to mind when you think of a python spirit? The girl was specifically called a slave girl. How might her social status reflect her spiritual status? How might Paul and Silas offer her freedom?
- In Baptism, we receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38–39). In fact, our baptismal liturgy asks each candidate for Baptism to renounce the devil and all his ways (LSB, p. 270). How do the actions of the slave girl reflect our own sinful condition prior to Baptism, and how does her attitude after the exorcism serve as an example for our own lives as baptized children of God?
- The Gospel is “the power of God for salvation to all who believe,” and because of that, it has powerful enemies. These enemies are sometimes described as the world, the devil, and our own sinful flesh. Once Paul casts out a demon from the girl, how does the world react? Does he receive praise from the world for his kind act?
- Read Acts 16:25. What kept the disciples’ spirits up while they were in prison? Reflect upon sacred hymns. How does singing influence your faith?
- The earthquake is certainly a divine sign that God does not want to see His apostles in chains for the time being. The escape would have been so much easier for Paul and Silas if they had remained hidden and allowed the guard to fall on his sword. What motivates their desire to save the prison watchman?
- Paul and Silas save the guard’s life. This good work inspires the guard to ask for an even greater gift: the way to save his life for eternity. Our good works in no way factor into our own salvation. Nothing but faith saves. However, how can our good works encourage others to seek salvation?
- The guard asks, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul responds, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30–31). Each must believe for himself, but how can we use our vocations as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or children to help others in our households to believe?
- Why does Paul risk his freedom again by insisting upon a visit to Lydia before he leaves Philippi (v. 40)?
The text for this lesson is Acts 16:11–15.
- Just as God worked His miracle beside the river, clothing Lydia with Christ in Baptism, so God works His miracles in pulpits and fonts around the world today, destroying the work of Satan, ripping believers from the jaws of death, washing away sins in water tinged with Jesus’ blood, and clothing believers with His righteousness.
- Law: Full of pride and guided by my emotions and experiences, I look for God and His works where I think He is, instead of humbly following His Word.
- Gospel: Christ locates Himself and His saving gifts for me in specific places: His baptismal font, His pulpit, His altar—wherever His Word is spoken, sung, poured, eaten, or drunk.
- What does the “we” in Acts 16:11 mean? What do Luke 1:1–4 and Acts 1:1–2 tell us about these two books of the New Testament?
- Some scholars think the reason there was no Jewish synagogue in Philippi was that Jewish practice at the time required at least ten worshiping men in the community to establish one. In any case, at Philippi, the true faith of Old Testament Israel—with its hope for the Messiah’s coming—was being carried on primarily or exclusively by women who gathered regularly for prayer, Lydia being the most prominent (Acts 16:13–15). What similar theme is present in 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14–15?
- Often, a preacher uses the physical elements of his liturgical setting to illustrate themes (e.g., the font, altar, or crucifix). Paul delivered his sermon to the women at “the riverside” (Acts 16:13). How might Paul have connected their location at the riverside to draw out biblical themes in his message? See Genesis 2:9–10; Joshua 3:17; Mark 1:4–5, 9–11; John 7:37–39; 19:33–34; Revelation 22:1–2.
- As Paul preached the Gospel, “The Lord opened [Lydia’s] heart to pay attention to what was said” (Acts 16:14). After coming to faith, she was baptized (v. 15). How was Lydia converted? Did her human will play any role in her conversion? Why or why not? See John 3:5–6; 6:44, 63; Romans 10:17.
- The Lord opened Lydia’s heart so that she would believe the Gospel (Acts 16:14). According to Genesis 3:7, after the fall into sin, what have we opened by our own efforts? What are some things we must totally depend on God to open? See Luke 3:21–22; 24:44–49.
- Lydia was baptized after hearing the Word (Acts 16:15). Similarly, the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized after Philip “told him the good news about Jesus” (8:35). Based on these apostolic examples, Christians have customarily baptized adults only after they have received proper instruction in God’s Word and have professed their faith in the Gospel. What are some benefits given to those who are baptized? See Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3–4; Titus 3:4–7. Should rebaptism ever be performed?
- Lydia’s household was baptized (Acts 16:15). Were there infants or toddlers among those baptized? Why should Christians baptize infants? See Matthew 28:18–20; Acts 2:38–39; Luke 18:15–16; Matthew 18:1–6.
- One friend says to another, “I know that I am saved because I believe in Jesus.” The other friend replies, “I know that I am saved because I am baptized into Christ.” Which of these statements best articulates our Christian hope?
- In Acts 16:13, “on the Sabbath day,” Paul and his companions sought “a place of prayer” because they knew those faithful to the Old Testament would observe the Third Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). According to Colossians 2:16–17, were Paul and his companions still required to observe the literal requirement of that commandment? What does the Third Commandment mean for us? See Acts 2:42 and Hebrews 10:24–25.
- How would you characterize Lydia’s response to the Gospel in Acts 16:15? What are ways that we can follow her example? Also see Romans 12:13; 3 John 5–8; 1 Corinthians 9:14.