Who Is God? He is jealous.

Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Exodus 34:14)

Why is God’s name Jealous?

Because he wants the hearts of all people to love and worship him.

Why not use a different word?

Because God’s desire for us is strong, intense. No single word can accurately describe God–in fact, not even all of our words can fully describe him!

Isn’t jealously wrong?

Divine jealousy is different than human jealousy. We want that which doesn’t rightfully belong to us. As the sovereign creator, all things belong to God.

If everything belongs to God, why is he jealous?

In the jealousy of God, we find mystery: questions that have true answers which don’t “fit” together–from our limited point of view. God is in total control, but in his love for humanity, he gave us free will. We can choose to return God’s love and worship him. God is jealous for those who do not love him.

 

 

 

 

How to make an impact, a brief look at Romans 15:14

I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. (Romans 15:14)

Paul’s encouragement to the church in Rome is clear, easy to understand:

Goodness—Impacting others begins on the inside because it takes the integrity to consistently make good decisions. This doesn’t mean perfect, it means influencing others requires faithfulness.

Knowledge—You can’t help a person take a step forward if you don’t know what that step ought to be. The more you know, the more you can help because increased knowledge increases your potential to impact others. If you are good, but you lack knowledge, you will never be able to impart more than just the basic essentials of the faith. When you have both goodness and knowledge, people will see your wisdom through your good life.

Competence—Without skill, there can be no communication. Competence adds discernment to knowledge: It tells you what to say, when to say it, and how to say it best.

As it relates to instructing and impacting others: goodness gives you the authority, knowledge creates capacity, and competency gives you the ability to make a difference.

This teaching is simple. So simple that it seems self evident…until you think about all the crazy, broken ways we try to influence others. What is the World’s Way for making an impact? We exchange goodness for selfishness. Thoughtful knowledge is exchanged with clever catch phrases, cliches, or tweets. Rather than pursuing genuine skill and competence, we puff ourselves up to look like we are capable.

Let’s not be motivated by fear and insecurity and hunger for power. Instead lets pursue goodness and knowledge, and competence.

His Name is Jealous

“Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Exodus 34:14)

Jealously is the intense demand for exclusive possession and/or devotion. In the original language of the Old Testament (Hebrew), the word for “jealous” ranges in meaning from “be zealous for” to “be envious of.” Human jealously is not the same as God’s jealously. Our envy is focused on things that do not belong to us. As the creator of the universe, God’s jealously is for what is already his.

Finite language often falls short in it’s attempt to explain an infinite God. So it can be difficult to see God as jealous. However significance is clear: God is not indifferent about us, he loves us with an intensity that can be described as jealously.

God is calling us to worship him undiluted loyalty and faithfulness.

No Other Gods

Some thoughts for your personal reflection:

 

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:2-3)

1. In your own words, write a definition of worship.

2. Read Exodus 6:6–8.
What promises did God make to the Israelites? How did God help Israel?

3. Read Exodus 20:2-3.
In your opinion, why did God talk about Egypt before giving Israel the 10 commandments?

For you personally, in your own life, how has God worked powerfully for your benefit? How does thinking about God’s faithfulness impact the quality of our worship?

4. In your opinion, what are some common “gods” that people worship today? Why do you think people choose not to worship God?

5. For you personally: On whom do you rely? To where does your time, energy, and money go? Who are you trying to impress? Who or what is the center of your life?

6. Read Psalm 81:1-16. What does this Psalm teach us about how we ought to worship?

Fear, not Faith

32 [Jesus] said to [the demons], “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. (Matthew 8:32-34)

The event makes me wonder about the priorities of the townspeople. They valued unclean animals over the healing of a tormented man. If the owners of the pigs were Jews, eating pigs was forbidden. They pleaded with Jesus to leave because they feared further disruption in their lives. Who knows what other miracles of healing and teaching Jesus would have done for this town if he had been accepted in faith…

Fear is a natural and normal part of what it means to be human, for we neither know nor control the future. However, let us not let fear consume us to the point of pushing Jesus away. Fear should move us to the feet of Jesus so we might say, “Take from me what you will.”

A Personal Leadership Tune Up

The people we know deserve our best, so we ought to work on getting better. When we delay our personal growth, we aren’t just limiting our potential, we also have a weaker impact in the world around us.

When it comes to personal growth, we get to choose our own adventure: either we decide to have consistent check ups or we will eventually fall into certain catastrophe. If a car’s oil isn’t changed regularly, eventually the engine will break down and need to be replaced. Oil changes are easy to forget, but an catastrophe’s like an engine shutting down can’t be ignored.

The same is true with our personal and ministry relationships. When we make a big mess of our lives, it’s rarely a train wreck that happens in an instant. It’s more like a slow leak under the foundation…over time the constant drip drip drip slowly erodes the soil.

The following download offers a few questions to jump start your thinking so that you can discover a few tweaks to make now. Giving yourself a minor tune up will keep you on the road for the long haul.

 

Download A Personal Leadership Tune Up (word docx and adobe PDF)

Bible Study: Galatians 3:1-4:7

Getting Started with Galatians 3:1-4:7

Begin with prayer: Ask God to make your heart pure, soft, and undivided. Confess your sins so you can receive his mercy and grace. Humble yourself so you can hear his voice. Release your worries so you can rest in his presence.

First read: Read without pausing, to get an overall sense of the chapter.

Second read: Make a note of any words, phrases, or verses that are personally encouraging, convicting, and/or confusing. It is a good thing to approach Scripture with questions!

This chapter can be tedious! My encouragement is that you wade through the details slowly, soaking up what you can. Read this passage several times. Allow the text to speak for itself, do your best to identify your assumptions — and don’t let them cloud the meaning of the text. At the end of the journey, this passage teaches some of the most important, essential, foundational truths about the life of faith. Engaging this chapter may feel like a marathon, but the finish line is worth it!

Re-read 3:1-14.

[  ] Why does Paul call the Galatians foolish?

[  ] How would you describe Paul’s tone? Do you think it is too harsh? Why or why not?

[  ] Survey the basic structure of 3:1-14, noting the following:

[a] How many questions does Paul ask?
[b] How many times does Paul mention works of the law (or works)?
[c] How many times does Paul mention believe (or faith)?

[  ] Why does it matter that Christ was portrayed as crucified? How does that support the point that Paul is making?

[  ] Why does Paul bring up Abraham? Isn’t Abraham “old news,” without much relevance for a life of faith in Christ?

[  ] Re-read 3:10-14. In your opinion, what does it look like, practically, when a person relies on the law? In chapter 2, what did it look like when Peter “relied on the law?”

Re-read 3:15-22.

[  ] Which came first, God’s promises to Abraham or the Law? Why is the order significant?

[  ] Why was the law given? Why wasn’t the promise to Abraham enough for God to have a relationship with his people?

[  ] Since the Law reveals God’s will for his people, why doesn’t the Law “impart life?” Since the law doesn’t give life, why did God give his people the Law?

Re-read 3:23-4:7.

“The law was our guardian” — A guardian was a specific role in ancient times. Wealthy families would hire a tutor to prepare their children for adulthood. Paul uses this imagery to teach the primary role of the Law, which was to prepare us for what’s next: faith in Jesus.

[  ] Given the context of everything you’ve read so far in Galatians, how is 3:28 significant? Why is the unity of the church so important?

[  ] In 4:7, Paul tells us that we are no longer a slave. Based on this passage, what were we once a slave to? How does the text support your answer?

[  ] Take a moment to step back and look at the bigger picture. What does this passage teach about the following:

Jesus:

Works / Works of the Law:

Believing / Faith:

The Law:

Abraham:

The Spirit:

Bible Study: Galatians chapter 2

Getting Started with Galatians 2

Begin with prayer: Ask God to make your heart pure, soft, and undivided. Confess your sins so you can receive his mercy and grace. Humble yourself so you can hear his voice. Release your worries so you can rest in his presence.

First read: read without pausing, to get an overall sense of the chapter.

Second read: make a note of any words, phrases, or verses that are personally encouraging, convicting, and/or confusing. It is a good thing to approach Scripture with questions!

[ ] At the close of chapter one, Paul went to Syria and Cilica– two areas that were hundreds of miles North of Jerusalem. Chapter 2 picks up fourteen years later in Jerusalem. Create a summary of the events in this chapter by making a list of the people, places, and events.

Historical Background: Understanding Circumcision
Circumcision was a Jewish practice that began in Genesis 17 as a reminder of God’s covenant with his people. “Uncircumcised” was a term that referred to Gentiles, all non-Jews. In Acts 15, certain teachers made circumcision a requirement for salvation. Paul and Barnabas strongly disagreed with this teaching because it contradicted the biblical teaching of salvation by faith, a central theme in this letter. Jesus did all the work for our salvation on the cross, and we are called to believe in him. Salvation can’t be achieved by good works, it can only be received by faith in Jesus.

Re-read 2:1-10

[ ] How do you reconcile 2:2 (“I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain”) with 1:10 (“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God”)? If Paul wasn’t looking for approval from the leaders in Jerusalem, why did he go to them to see if he was preaching the right message?

[ ] Verse four speaks of false believers, what was their incorrect beliefs?

[ ] Isn’t belief a personal thing, meaning that it’s okay for anyone to believe what ever they want? Explain why you feel the way you do.

[ ] Paul will speak directly to the topic of freedom later in in this letter. Based on everything you’ve read so far, what does Paul mean by freedom?

[ ] In your opinion, how is integrity connected to influence? Is it important for a person’s words to be backed up by their actions? Does a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude work? Why or why not?

[ ] In verse 5, Paul writes, “We did not give in to them for a moment,” (meaning allow Titus to be circumcised), “so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.” The integrity of Paul (and Titus) was directly connected to their teaching. If they preached “salvation by faith,” but if their actions didn’t reflect this teaching, they would have no credibility with the Galatian believers. In your opinion, why are people tempted to take shortcuts with their integrity? In your own life, how would you rate your personal integrity?

[ ] Respond to this statement: “It’s only hypocrisy if you get caught.” Is that true or false? Why?

[ ] Paul was called to preach to the Gentiles (uncircumcised) and Peter was called to preach to the Jews (circumcised). In your opinion, why do you think this distinction existed? Shouldn’t Paul and Peter (and therefore, us) simply preach to everyone?

Re-read 2:11-21.

[ ] Paul said that Peter (Cephas) “stood condemned.” Why do you think Paul opposed him?

[ ] Do you think it Paul treated Peter (Cephas) fairly? Why did Paul confront him publicly? In what way was Peter a hypocrite?

[ ] Peter changed his behavior, becoming a hypocrite because he was afraid of what the Jews might think. Under what kinds of situations are you tempted to compromise your integrity?

[ ] In your opinion, what’s the big deal about salvation by works or by faith? Why does it matter that salvation is only found by faith in Jesus?

[ ] In your opinion, why is Paul making a big scene over this issue? Sine we are saved by faith, wouldn’t God just forgive Paul of his hypocrisy?

[ ] Justified means “made right with God.” Based on this chapter, how is a person justified? What words or phrases from the text support your answer?

[ ] In verse 17 Paul asks, “Does Christ promote sin?” (a) In your own words, how does Paul answer this question? (b) In your opinion, why does Paul raise this issue? Does this question even need to be asked?

[ ] This chapter highlights the power of influence:
> Paul retained his integrity to have a positive influence with the Galatians (2:5).
> Barnabas was negatively influenced by others and became a hypocrite
(a) Who has (or had) a big influence in your life? (b) Who are some people with whom you have influence?

[ ] What are some practical changes you might make to be a better influence on others?

 

 

What’s missing from this Bible study? Comment below.

Who is Jesus?

He is God

The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. Matthew 26:63-64

He became a person

The Word [Jesus] became flesh and made his dwelling among us. John 1:14

He taught with authority

They were amazed at his teaching, for he taught as one who had real authority– quite unlike the teachers of religious law. Mark 1:22

He healed the sick

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Matthew 4:23

He hung out with the outcasts

That night Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. The Pharisees were indignant. “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” they asked his disciples. Matthew 9:10-11

He got angry at the religious fakes

How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs– beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Matthew 23:27

He was persecuted unfairly

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward. Matthew 26:59-60

He was tempted in every way

. . . for he [Jesus] faced all of the same temptations we do . . . Hebrews 4:15

He never made a mistake

. . . he [Jesus] did not sin. Hebrews 4:15
But you know that he [Jesus] appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 1 John 3:5

He died, rose from the dead, and continues to live to this day

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, 1 Corinthians 15:20

He made it possible to have a relationship with God

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  John 3:16-17

He can sympathize with our struggles

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses . . . Hebrews 4:15

He Loves Us

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Ephesians 3:19

Three principles from Jesus for every mission

Jesus said:

These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” (Mark 6:8-11)

Every mission requires:

  • FAITH. We must rely on God to provide. With abundant resources, it is more difficult to trust God, but not impossible. Everything belongs to God.
  • FELLOWSHIP. We must trust others to receive mutual benefit. In this example from scripture, one person provides shelter and the other provides peace. We are better together, and we need others to pursue God’s calling in our lives.
  • INFLUENCE. We must make a difference by what we do. When the impact becomes minimal, the mission is finished.

One must be careful when interpreting narratives in scripture. On one hand, we cannot make everything into an allegory (“we must take a staff as a reminder that we lean upon God for strength.”) On the other hand, we cannot interpret the literal historical events as timeless princples (“No one doing the work of God can ever have an extra shirt…or money.”). Therefore we must take great care to make sure that other scriptures support our conclusions.

FAITH

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. (Deuteronomy 8:3-4)

FELLOWSHIP

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” (1 Corinthians 12:21)

 

INFLUENCE

Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (Matthew 7:6)

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:4-5)

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20)