The One & Only

Posted by Jim Murphy on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 @ 9:55 AM

The first two commandments—“You shall have no other gods before me” and “You shall not make for yourself an idol”— are two of the most often forgotten. They have nothing to do with ego—in fact, they have more to do with us. If our lives revolved around God, then all of the other commandments, such as stealing, lying, adultery, etc., wouldn’t be an issue. So what would your life look like if you had no other gods but God?

TENSION

REALITY: We put so many things at the center of our lives (boyfriends, girlfriends, sports, school, popularity, jobs, pain, struggle, etc.)
TRUTH: God and God only should be at the center of our lives.

TEXT

Exodus 20:3-5

TEACHING

  1. God First
    What’s more important to God than just simply doing a bunch of stuff and keeping a bunch of rules is God being center stage in your life. And if we’ll do this, keep God as our one and only, then the rest of these commandments almost take care of themselves; the rest of the commandments just fill in the details and the gaps. This commandment is like the umbrella all the other commandments fall under. It’s not just a rule that God happens to make the first commandment. It’s the starting place for anybody who wants to function in a relationship with their heavenly Father.
  2. God Only
    Every culture in the world up until that time had multiple gods. In fact, historically, it would have been unbelievable, unheard of even, that a nation would decide there’s just one god. God was saying: “Instead of having a god for healing, a god for farming and a god for relationships and love, I want to be your one-stop shop. I want to be the one Source, the one God you depend on for everything. If you’ve got war issues, you come to Me. If you’ve got illness issues, you come to Me. If you’ve got money issues, you come to Me. If you’ve got friendship problems, you come to me. If you’ve got family problems, you come to me. Whatever your issue is, I don’t want you to have multiple gods. I want to be your one and only—because I am the One and Only.”

HOPE: God and God only should be at the center of our lives.

SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS

  1. What are the first two commandments? Before today, did you know what these two commandments really meant? Sum up what they mean now in your own words.
  2. What’s the difference between God and a god? What are some examples of “little g” gods that people have today?
  3. What do you think it means to make God the center of your life? Take some time reflecting on the following questions.
    1. If God were really the center of your life, what would your family life look like?
    2. If God were really the center of your life, what would your academic life look like?
    3. If God were really the center of your life, what would your friendships look like?
    4. How are these answers different from what your life looks like right now?

CONVERSATIONS AT HOME

Most teens turn to other people for advice on how to deal with the different challenges in their lives. These people include their friends, their parents, their coaches, their mentors, their pastors, etc. However, we should all be redirecting our teens to consult God through prayer when facing these challenges. When your teen comes to you or when you discover a challenge, invite your teen into prayer with you in that spontaneous moment to seek God's guidance. Be sure to allow some silence during your prayer to actively listen for God's leading. Then talk about what impressions, or thoughts, or feelings have come out of that prayer as a result. Then encourage your teen to be confident that impression. "This is the Spirit of God's 'still small voice' leading you. You can trust it."

You are a Chosen and Changed Child of God

Posted by Jim Murphy on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 @ 9:47 AM

This week, Varisty dives into the purpose of being consecrated and living in holiness. Holiness goes beyond personal moral choices. Being holy is not just living a good life; rather, it is for the purpose of reflecting God to the world. Consecration is missional in nature. Our consecrated lives are not for our good but for the sake of others so that they may see God and give Him glory. And it all stems from the reality that we are CHOSEN by God and when we respond with  faith in Jesus Christ, we become the CHANGED CHILDREN of GOD.

TENSION

REALITY: We want to live life the way the world around us lives.
TRUTH: God has CHOSEN us and CHANGED us to live a CHILDREN OF GOD who are Set Apart for Christ from the world and sin.

TEXT

1 Peter 2:9-12

TEACHING

  1. We are CHOSEN to be Set Apart for Christ (1 Pet. 2:9)
    Peter applies various terms to the Church that had traditionally been reserved for the nation of Israel. Primary among these was the fact that the members of the Church had been chosen by God just as Israel had been chosen. He did not use these terms in order to communicate that the Church had replaced Israel but rather to show that the Church bore the purpose for which Israel had been called. This purpose was chiefly to declare the praises of God in the World.
  2. We are CHANGED to be Set Apart for Christ (1 Pet. 2:10)
    Many of Peter’s readers were Gentiles. That meant that they were not part of God’s chosen nation of Israel. Additionally, Peter’s readers were separated from God because of their sin—not because of their nationality. They didn’t deserve to be chosen by Him or to belong to Him. There was absolutely nothing that they could do to earn His favor. However, God was merciful, and when He chose them, they experienced a change in their life like nothing they’d experienced before. God changes our lives from the inside out.
  3. We are CHILDREN OF GOD who demonstrate Christ to the world (1 Pet. 2:11–12)
    Peter points out that because we are CHOSEN and CHANGED, we are, therefore, aliens and strangers in this world. We don’t belong to this world. We are no longer children of this world. Rather, we are CHILDREN OF GOD. Peter, then challenges his readers to abstain from evil desires and deeds for a reason that was a bit unexpected. He doesn’t desire solely for his readers to live good lives for their sake or even only for God’s sake. Rather, he desires for them to live such good lives that the nonbelievers around them would notice them and finally glorify God for the good that He was doing through them.

HOPE: God has CHOSEN us and CHANGED us to live a CHILDREN OF GOD who are Set Apart for Christ from the world and sin.

SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS

  1. How does knowing that you are a chosen people who belong to God affect the way that you see yourself? How does it affect the way that you see others?
  2. How does the mercy of God that we have experienced as His people change the way that we interact with those who have wronged us in some way?
  3. In what ways has your faith in God made you feel like a stranger or alien in this world?
  4. Describe a time in your life when something good that you did enabled you to let some-one know about God.

CONVERSATIONS AT HOME

The best way to reinforce this at home is to talk about choices as coming from our identity not as a matter of following rules.

  • "We choose ______ because of who we are as God's children."
  • "We choose not to ______ because God has changed us and given us a new life."
  • "We don't ______ because that's not who we are as Christians."
  • "We choose to _____ because that's how God designed us to live."

Change the way you talk about choices. Replace "performance based language" that is driven by legalistic rule following with "identity based language" that is driven by living out of who God has designed us to be––who Christ has made us to be.

Study the Bible

Posted by Jim Murphy on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 @ 9:33 AM

Many of know that we should read the Bible because “it’s the right thing to do.” However, few of us actually do it. Why? There are at least two main reasons. The first is that while we have been taught that it is important, many of us don’t really know why. The second is that when we sit down to actually study Scripture on our own, we have no idea what we're supposed to do. This week we try to help students in both areas.

TENSION


REALITY: Sin messes up the way we think, the way we feel, and the way we live.
TRUTH: Submitting to God’s Word restores the way we THINK, FEEL, and LIVE.

TEXT

Psalm 119:9-16

TEACHING

  1. Submitting to God’s Word restores the way we THINK
    (PRAY IT - Preparation & READ IT – Observation) 
Ps. 119:9–11
    When believers submit to God’s Word, they understand God’s desires for their lives. They are able to use His Word as a guard to make sure that their actions are in line with God’s standards. The writer of this psalm confessed aloud that he desired to never leave God’s commands but wanted to seek Him with his whole heart. This writer knew that without God’s Word, he had no guidelines to live in a way that was pleasing to God. In fact, he treasured God’s Word so much that he spent time and energy memorizing and meditating on it. He demonstrated his love for God when he devoted his life to His Word.
  2. Submitting to God’s Word restores the way we FEEL
    (KNOW IT – Interpretation) 
Ps. 119:12–15
    There is a contrast between what the world looks toward for contentment (such as “great riches” in v. 14) and what the Christian looks toward (the Lord Himself). Knowing God’s Word produces joy because when believers know God’s Word, they also come to know and deepen their relationship with Him. Therefore, even in times of struggle, His children find contentment in God alone, no matter what their circumstances are.
  3. Submitting to God’s Word restores the way we LIVE
    (DO IT – Life Application)
 Ps. 119:16
    The psalmist described his time in the Word as a “delight” (v. 16) that results in rejoicing (v. 14) and praise (v. 12). He declared that he would not forget God’s Word because he would not neglect it in his life. Consistently spending time in God’s Word will result in a heart that wants to obey God freely, not in begrudging submission. When God’s children drift away from spending time in His Word, they are not focused on Him, and their actions reflect an attitude of complacency and sinfulness.

HOPE: Submitting to God’s Word restores the way we THINK, FEEL, and LIVE.

SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS

  1. What is the acronym and what are the four steps that go with that acronym?
  2. Why is it so easy to disregard studying God’s Word when we get busy?
  3. What are some ways that you can begin to hide God’s Word in your heart?
  4. How can you begin to develop a habit of studying God’s Word?
  5. What are some tools that can help you to read and study God’s Word on a consistent basis?

Conversations at Home

Don't give up on finding a rhythm of study in your own life. It's so much easier to let the busy-ness of each day's schedule to replace your own reading of the word. Fight for it. Choose it. Don't give up and don't get down on yourself. A good friend once told me, "Success is simply starting over for the hundredth time." One great way to engage the word is to do it with your teen. We're sending home a resource for daily readings of the Word. Pick a track and go through it with your teen. Our Sunday morning classes (grades 6-9) all give students journals with daily readings. Do it together just before bed time in their room. The best conversations will come out at that time.

The Rules

Posted by Jim Murphy on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 @ 1:18 PM

To many, Christianity is about following a set of rules. And if you asked them “Why?” they would point to a single source—the Bible. Specifically, they would probably mention the Ten Commandments. But what most people miss is the whole context for that list. God established a relationship with the Israelites long before He even gave them the rules. He wanted them to know they were His people.

TENSION

TRUTH: God wants a good relationship with you.
REALITY: We do things that mess up that relationship.

TEXT

Exodus 20:1 (1-17) “I AM the Lord your God.”

TEACHING

Following the rules will never make God love us more. In fact, when you try to live them out, you begin to see just how much you need Him. With God, the relationship always comes before the rules. Always. That’s why he starts the 10 Commandments with “I AM the Lord your God.” It was to establish that He has a relationship with them, first. Then the rules were made to protect that relationship.

  1. Relationship First– Rules are never the starting point for a relationship with your heavenly Father. They never come first. If God gives you rules to follow, it’s because you’re already in—you already have the relationship. God knows that rules without a relationship always results in rebellion. It’s human nature and God knows that; He created human nature. He’s not so foolish as to say, “Here’s a bunch of rules. Do the best you can to follow them and I’ll decide, based on that, if I accept you or not.” Relationships just don’t work like that.
  2. Rules Second – The commandments are not conditions of God’s love; the commandments are confirmation of God’s love.” Because relationship always precedes rules with God. And the biggest thing to God came before the Ten Commandments, back when they were in Egypt. When God initiated this relationship, the number one thing for Him was simply, “Will you trust Me?”
  3. Rules Protect the Relationship – In any valuable relationship there are certain rules you have to follow. There are rules that protect a friendship. There are rules that protect a marriage. There are rules that protect a team. The relationship is the important thing but the rules help keep it important and keep it working.

HOPE: Following the rules protects your relationship with God.

SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS

  1. Would you describe yourself as a rule-follower, a rebel, or somewhere in between?
  2. Who are some people that give you rules? Why do they give you rules?
  3. Can you name all ten of the commandments?
  4. To whom did God initially give the Ten Commandments? In your own words, briefly explain the history of the Israelites.
  5. How did hearing that history today change the way you once viewed the Ten Commandments?

CONVERSATIONS AT HOME

Parents, I'd encourage you to ask yourself, "What more important to me? The rules or the relationship?" We'd all answer that question with "the relationship." But are you demonstrating that priority? Do you spend more energy getting your teen to follow the rules or more energy building a relationship with him or her? Do everything you can to build and keep your relationship with your teen. Then, establish household rules based on the value they have in protecting your relationship as opposed to simply "being good." When your teen breaks the rule, ask him or her how this impacts your relationship (e.g., breaking curfew breaks trust, etc.). Try having as many conversations about rules be rooted in the value they bring to protecting your family's relationship.

The content of this post is based on curriculum provided by Orange: XP3.

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These posts are from the weekly lessons at Wednesday night FUEL. They are designed to share with you an outline of the content of our discussions, the small group questions, and ideas for conversations at home. Feel free to use these for your own conversations or lessons.

Jim Murphy

Jim Murphy, Associate Pastor, NextGen MinistriesAssociate Pastor NextGen Ministries

218-751-3699 ext 14 jim@bemidjicovenant.com

 

Archives

The One & Only
The first two commandments—“You shall have no other gods before me” and “You
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This week, Varisty dives into the purpose of being consecrated and living in holiness. Holiness
Study the Bible
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The Rules
To many, Christianity is about following a set of rules. And if you asked them “Why?” th
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