“Mountain Top” Experiences

Take a moment and reflect on a time when you encountered a “mountain top” experience of faith.  What was the context or circumstance of the experience? Were you participating in unhindered worship, passionate prayer, or an encouraging time of biblical study? How did the “mountain top” experience make you feel? Did you experience joy, happiness, confidence, or love?

We all desire “mountain top” experiences of faith.  When the experience ends, we leave feeling fulfilled, confident that we’ve experienced the God of our faith, and we can’t wait for the next “mountain top” experience to arrive.  But is our faith sustained by “mountain top” experiences? Does our faith only grow while we’re standing on the summit? Or is our faith mostly implemented while we walk through the valleys of life?

Read Matthew 17:1-9.

  1. Was this a “mountain top” experience for Peter, James, and John?
  2. What was Peter’s reaction to the experience?
  3. Did the disciples remain on the mountain with Jesus?

Jesus, the Woman, and Simon the Pharisee

In Luke 7: 41-42 Jesus tells a parable of a moneylender and two debtors. The parable states:

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred  a denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Read Luke 7:36-50.

  1. Who do the two debtors represent?
  2. Who does the moneylender represent?
  3. What does the debt of money represent?
  4. How are love and forgiveness related in this passage?

Vanity of Vanities

What is the purpose of life? This age old question results in a variety of answers. Examples of common answers are the pursuits of wealth, power, or knowledge. But what is the true purpose of life? Is life complete when we reach the “magic number” in our bank accounts, step into the CEO position at the company, or read all the classics?

Read Ecclesiastes 2 and Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

  1. What are the three things the king pursues in Ecclesiastes 2?
  2. Is the king satisfied after he pursues these things?
  3. What is the king’s final conclusion to the purpose of life in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14?

The Resurrection of Christ

This Sunday we will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  People will dress in their “Sunday’s Best,” attend church services, and learn about Jesus’ miraculous resurrection where He returned from the dead.  But why is faith in the Jesus’ resurrection important? Is the resurrection of Jesus necessary for the Christian faith?

Read 1 Corinthians 15.

  1. Are our sins still forgiven if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead?
  2. Do we still have eternal life with God if Jesus wasn’t resurrected?
  3. Based on the two previous questions, is faith in the resurrection of Jesus necessary for the Christian faith?

Loving Our Enemies

When we think about loving people, our minds quickly focus on friends, family, or both.  The fact that we think of love in terms of existing relationships reveals something significant about our perspective of love: We only love those who love us in return.  Is this how God calls us to love?

Read Matthew 5:43-48.

  1. What is the difference between God’s perspective of love, and our perspective of love?
  2. Who is our example for Godly love? What is the example Jesus teaches in this passage?
  3. Why is it important to love as God loves?
  4. Who enables us to love our enemies?

The Harmony of Comfort and Affliction

Inspired by the discussion of “when we worship,” this week we’ll learn why we worship God in affliction, trouble, or hardships.  Reasons to worship God during the “good times” are often in abundance, but is there an equal abundance of reasons to worship God in the “bad times?”

Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, and 2 Corinthians 4:17.

  1. What kind of afflictions [difficult circumstances] did Paul experience throughout his life and ministry?
  2. What was the purpose of these afflictions?
  3. Was Paul comforted by God? How?
  4. Did Paul worship God while he experienced affliction?
  5. What were Paul’s reasons for worshipping God during affliction?

When Do We Worship?

When do we worship? We defined “what” worship is, and we learned “how” to worship, but “when” does worship take place? Is worship only possible on Sunday mornings with music? Or can we worship through daily life?

Read Roman 12:1 and 1 Corinthians 10:31.

  1. Based on these verses, can worship occur throughout the week?
  2. Is worship only limited to “church” activities?
  3. What do you think “living sacrifice” from Romans 12:1, and “do it all” from 1 Corinthians 10:31 mean?

How Do We Worship?

The worship of God is essentially the expression of grateful and affectionate praise after experiencing the greatness of God’s nature [who He is] and promises [what He does].  Now that we know the “what” of worship, we need to determine the “how” of worship.

Read Psalm 95:1-2, Psalm 103:1, and John 4:23-24.

  1. According to these passages of Scripture, how do we worship?
  2. Is worship only an external expression?
  3. What do you think Jesus means when He says, “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth?”

What is Worship?

If I asked you to define worship, how would you respond?  During the next few weeks we will define worship by answering the questions:

  1. “What is worship?”
  2. “How do we worship?”
  3. “When do we worship?”

But before answering the “how” and “when,” we need to identify the correct object of Christian worship.

Read John 4:23-24, Acts 14:15, and Acts 17:22-27:

What is the true object of Christian worship?

Now read Psalm 95:1-6, Psalm 150:1-2, and Isaiah 12:5:

According to these passages of Scripture, we worship God for two reasons. What are they?

Peace: What Do We Do With It?

Before we end our series on peace, we need to answer the question, “What do we do with peace?” We know where peace is from, we know how to receive peace, and we know what kind of peace we experience. But what do we do with peace? Does the blessing of peace start and end with the individual Christian? Or are we called to make peace with the people around us?

Read Romans 12:16-18, Colossians 3:12-15, and Hebrews 12:14.

  1. What are we called to do with peace?
  2. How do we make peace?
  3. Who do we make peace with?