Monthly Archives: February 2011

With The Word online Bible study–worry

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Matthew 6:24-34

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

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What pops out at you in these texts? Is there anything that makes you go “hmm….” or “huh?” or “hey!!!!” Are you reminded of any other stories–whether in the Bible, in literature/movies/music/TV, or in your own life? As you read, do you hear any music in your head?

Is it even possible to follow Jesus’ teaching here? What would a life lived completely without worry look like? How would we approach the everyday things, retirement, saving, housing, food, etc, differently if we lived this out literally?

This passage is about very every day things, not high falutin’ things — it’s about clothes, food, crops, water, housing, livelihoods. What does faith have to do with how we live our everyday lives?

How does this teaching square with the fact that sometimes we have to prepare, to care for both ourselves and others, and to be good stewards of the earth and of our church? What might this passage have to say about giving? About stewardship of our time, our talent, our money?

What do you hear as the good news in this text? What do you hear as a challenge? What might this passage have to say to our community today?

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With The Word online Bible study–love in action

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Matthew 5:38-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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What pops out at you in this text? Is there anything that makes you go “hmm….” or “huh?” or “hey!!!!” Are you reminded of any other stories–whether in the Bible, in literature/movies/music/TV, or in your own life? As you read, do you hear any music in your head?

When you think about turning the other cheek or going the extra mile or giving up all your clothes (and when you remember that is about resistance, showing the ridiculousness of the oppressive system), what modern equivalents come to mind? What does it mean in our 21st century America to turn the other cheek, to give your cloak (and so stand naked in the courtroom), to go the second mile?

It has been said (by Dr. Cornel West) that “justice is what love looks like in public.” What does that mean to you, especially in light of this command to love your enemies?

What do you hear as the good news in this text? What do you hear as a challenge? What might this passage have to say to our community today?

With The Word online Bible study–salt and light

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Matthew 5:13-20

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

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What pops out at you in this text? Is there anything that makes you go “hmm….” or “huh?” or “hey!!!!” Are you reminded of any other stories–whether in the Bible, in literature/movies/music/TV, or in your own life? As you read, do you hear any music in your head?

What does it mean to be salt, to be light, to be a city that can’t escape notice? The way this is written tells us that the disciples (and by extension, we) ARE salt, ARE light, ARE a city on a hill…not that we need to try harder to be these things, but that because of who Jesus is, because he has made it so, we are these things. We are to live this reality, not to make it a reality. How does that kind of reading change your understanding of your call to be salt and light in the world?

As good Reformed theologians, we know that when we let our light “shine before others, so that they may see your good works” we are not doing good works to earn God’s love — we do good works in response to God’s love. We don’t give of our time, talent, and money in order to get into heaven, we give because God has first given us everything we have and everything we are. So what do you think is the purpose of letting your light shine?

What do you hear as the good news in this text? What do you hear as a challenge? What might this passage have to say to our community today?