Encourager’s Devotional Series – August Bible Study Answers

These are the answers to the August Bible Study that accompanies the August Devotional for the Encourager’s Devotional Series

Information

Read Hebrews 5:11-6:12.

The writer of Hebrews starts off this passage by saying he has much to explain. According to 5:11, it was hard for him to explain these things because the Christians he was writing to were no longer trying to “understand.”

5:12 says “by this time you ought to be teachers.”

Being a teacher does not mean you have to be in front of a classroom. Look up Deuteronomy 6:6-9 where the Lord told His people to be sure they teach their children His commands. When, where, and how was this teaching to occur?

when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up, use symbols as reminders, write them down and post them

Deuteronomy 6:20-25 further instructs the people on how to answer their children when they ask questions about what the laws of the Lord mean. Notice that they were to answer these questions by being able to tell the story of what God had done for his people. Compare this to 1 Peter 3:15 which tells us we are always to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

According to Hebrews 6:7-8, what danger do we face when we only “drink in the rain” and do not then use that nourishment to produce a crop?

the danger of being cursed and burned

Meditation

Reread and think on Hebrews 5:12. Pray about whether or not you are becoming the teacher you should be.

Reread and reflect on the questions from the devotion:

  • Am I more concerned about being fed, or about feeding others?
  • Am I involved in the church more for what I get out of it or for what I can give to it for others?

Record any thoughts or convictions you may have.

Application

rom12aThe picture above shows a “Report Card” I used with a Sunday School class. I’ve included it as an example of creating a way to do a self-evaluation from a scriptural text. I thought you might want to complete it on your own to reinforce the need to use the Word to evaluate our progress and indicate areas which might need improvement. You might want to make up your own “report card” for any passage of Scripture you want to live by and use as a measure of your spiritual growth. If you did, what texts might you chose (some possibilities are listed in the devotion)?

Go through the suggestions at the end of the devotion and note any that you might want to do. List any additional ideas you may have thought of on your own.

Dedication

What do you specifically want to do in response to this month’s devotion?

Advertisements

Encourager’s Devotional Series – August Bible Study

This Bible study is a follow-up to the August Devotional for the Encourager’s Devotional Series.

Information

Read Hebrews 5:11-6:12.

The writer of Hebrews starts off this passage by saying he has much to explain. According to 5:11, it was hard for him to explain these things because the Christians he was writing to were no longer trying to “__________________________________.”

5:12 says “by this time you ought to be _________________________________.”

Being a teacher does not mean you have to be in front of a classroom. Look up Deuteronomy 6:6-9 where the Lord told His people to be sure they teach their children His commands. When, where, and how was this teaching to occur?

Deuteronomy 6:20-25 further instructs the people on how to answer their children when they ask questions about what the laws of the Lord mean. Notice that they were to answer these questions by being able to tell the story of what God had done for his people. Compare this to 1 Peter 3:15 which tells us we are always to “be _________________________ to give an ___________________ to everyone who asks you to give the _________________ for the ___________ that you have.”

According to Hebrews 6:7-8, what danger do we face when we only “drink in the rain” and do not then use that nourishment to produce a crop?

Meditation

Reread and think on Hebrews 5:12. Pray about whether or not you are becoming the teacher you should be.

Reread and reflect on the questions from the devotion:

Am I more concerned about being fed, or about feeding others?

Am I involved in the church more for what I get out of it or for what I can give to it for others?

Record any thoughts or convictions you may have.

Application

rom12aThe picture above shows a “Report Card” I used with a Sunday School class. I’ve included it as an example of creating a way to do a self-evaluation from a scriptural text. Continue reading

More Good than Bad Happened in Ferguson August 9, 2015 (part 2)

As promised in my last post, here’s another example of good that happened in Ferguson on the one year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown.

Good in Ferguson

Peaceful demonstration of opposing viewpoints in Ferguson – August 9, 2015

It’s hard to see in the picture, so I circled it. But there was a group of protestors waving an upside down American flag. This solitary woman decided to do a little flag waving of her own – right side up. There are several reasons I think this is a great symbol of the good that occurred in Ferguson on the 9th:

  1. I think this woman was brave to voice an opposing viewpoint against the backdrop of a much larger and angrier group.
  2. This is what America is supposed to be about – the rights of individuals to express their views on either side of an issue.
  3. There was no violence by either party in the protest, but their points were clearly made.

As I post this, it is 11:57 pm and things are heating up again on West Florissant Avenue. Frozen water bottles have been thrown at police. Arrests have been made. And one portion of the crowd was maced by a police officer. I’m certain there is still good happening even in the midst of that chaos. As alderman Antonio French (who, by the way, is another person I believe is doing a lot of good) reported:

Continue to pray for those working for change while still promoting peace. Pray with me that things do not escalate tonight.

 

 

More Good than Bad Happened in Ferguson Yesterday (part 1)

Despite the turn of events last night, more good happened in Ferguson than bad yesterday. Of course, the good does not get as much media coverage. And what coverage it does get is not shared as quickly or thoroughly as the bad on social media. So, I dedicate this series of posts to the MANY who are striving to make Ferguson, and the rest of our nation, a better place. To those who are BEING the change they want to see.

Phil Berwick is someone I met last year. He has been helping to “repaint” the picture of Ferguson, and other areas of St. Louis, with his lovable character “Merferd.” He also moved to Ferguson this year to be more directly involved with the community there. Here are a few video clips, links, and pictures of Phil and his work.

Merferd in St. Louis

Bob’s Quality Market, a St. Louis landmark for 47 years. My first Merferd outside of the riot zone in St. Louis. I asked if I could paint what was on the poster on the far side of the building, which was a large blank white brick “canvas.” I told him that I knew he was Muslim, and I could just have Merferd saying “I love you,” without the “Jesus.” He told me, to keep Jesus name on the painting.

News channel 5 (KSDK) covered Phil and others who have moved into Ferguson and were active yesterday. You can view that video by clicking here.

And click here to see Phil painting a new Merferd during last night’s protests. As Phil explained, “You will hear [Phil and his wife, Theresa] wail during the painting. It was to drown out the cop hating soundtrack that was blasting from across the street on West Florissant Ave in Ferguson.”

Stay tuned for more posts in this series throughout the day and continue to pray for people like Phil and Theresa who are working for positive change. Also, pray that today’s events also have more positive than negative consequences.

August Encourager’s Devotion – Back to School or Time for Promotion?

We are in the eighth month of the Encourager’s Devotional Series. So, this might be a good time to ask a few questions: How are you doing in the goal to become a more encouraging person? What have you learned about the ministry of encouragement? What have you applied from what you’re learning?

August Encourager's Devotion

Do you remember how good it felt each time you graduated from one level of schooling to another? It was fun to think about all you had accomplished. And it was exciting, even if a little intimidating, to think of the new things ahead in the future. You were growing up!

It used to be (and still is in many cases) that churches had “Promotion Sunday” sometime in late August or early September to commemorate the passing of children from one level of Sunday School to the next. But for some reason, we stop thinking about being promoted after people are out of the “youth” category in the church. It’s as if simply by being an adult one no longer needs to think about advancing any further in their faith. As if advancing just comes naturally.

This is not the biblical picture, however. In Hebrews 5:11-6:12, certain Christians are told that they are still in elementary school in their spirituality. Meanwhile, in 1 Timothy 4:12, a younger person is said to have matured enough in the faith to be an example to the older Christians around him. So, “promotion” in God’s kingdom isn’t about age level, or even about how long you’ve been a Christian. It’s about how you are moving along and maturing in Christlikeness.

Hebrews 5:14 describes the maturing Christian as one who uses the meat of the Word of God. When was the last time you used the Word to check your level of progression? Have you taken texts like Romans 12, Galatians 5:22-28, or 2 Peter 1:5-11 as “report cards” and given yourself an evaluation on your spiritual progress?

Hebrews 6:1-2 also describes the “baby” Christian as one content to simply hear good lessons on “elementary” things like how to be saved, heaven and hell, and how to stay away from sin. Christianity is more than just being sure you don’t do all the bad things so you’re sure to go to heaven. It is about maturing in doing the right things, or producing fruit.

Some good questions to ask yourself regarding spiritual maturity might be:

  • Am I more concerned about being fed, or about feeding others?
  • Am I involved in the church more for what I get out of it or for what I can give to it for others?

Now, I know there must be balance. We all need to be fed, and we all benefit from being involved in the church. And the last thing I want to do is encourage any kind of legalistic, works-based religion. But somewhere along the way in our walk with the Lord, we must focus on becoming servants to others. We must become producers and not just consumers (Hebrews 6:7-8).

And that is exactly what this ministry is about. Be encouraged in your work of encouraging because …

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end.” (Hebrews 6:10,11 – NIV)

Suggestions for encouraging someone this month:

  • Perhaps you could be of assistance to a family that needs school supplies or clothing for their children as they head back to school. Or plan a school supplies drive at your church.
  • If your church does have promotion Sunday, send cards out to the children and/or to their parents.
  • Ask a Sunday School teacher if you could help throw a kick-off party in their class. Or, see if there’s some other way you could assist them.
  • Find someone who’s at the same level of spiritual maturity as yourself and see if they would like to become accountability partners with you. As accountability partners you would help each other evaluate where you are spiritually, help each other set goals for maturing, and then ask each other on a regular basis how you’re doing with your goals. Prayer for each other would also be a very important part of this relationship.
  • If you know a college student who’s going away from home, put them on your list to mail notes and packages. College students love mail and they are at a time in life when it’s very important to have connections to home and church families.

Purposely Not Meeting My Self-Imposed Writing Deadline

I once reblogged a great article entitled “The Rush To the End Syndrome.” That was a little over a year ago, so I guess I avoided the pitfall the article warned about – failing to create a strong ending to your story because of the impulse to just get the writing project done.

This week, however, I almost fell into the trap again. I had five days off work, so I was determined to finish up my book … well, finish up the complete first draft of the manuscript. I was so excited to be this close and couldn’t wait to dig in. But then … life interrupted. A surprise visit from out of town family. An unplanned guest one evening. A few hiccups that sent me down the rabbit hole of research – again.

Still, I was working my night owl super powers to the max (I can go with very little sleep for quite a few days) in an effort to meet my goal. After finding myself, for about the third time, contemplating ways to “condense” the final three scenes I went back to the article about rushing the end. I’m glad I did.

As another blogger who found the article helpful said, “We all suffer through the urge to tie it up at one point or another. Resist and you’ll have an ending worthy or your story.”

I’m banking on that as I readjust my goal. Thankfully, I have the same work schedule this coming week. Barring any life interruptions, I hope to have the complete first draft of the manuscript done by NEXT weekend.