In most English Bibles, the passage we studied this past Sunday is set in brackets. That’s because it’s missing from the oldest hand-written copies of John that we still have access to. Christian scholars have debated whether it’s authentic and should be in the Bible. I barely addressed that controversy on Sunday, so if you have more questions, here’s a helpful article on Why we Treat John 7:53-8:11 as Scripture.

The narrative itself is as a gripping one for sure and such a vivid display of Christ’s compassion, authority, and grace — grace that lifts guilt and covers shame. It has a lot to teach us, whether we feel humiliated because of our sin, or feel self-righteous and proud of ourselves. What a story! What a God!  

Here are four questions to help you respond to God’s Word.    Read the rest of this entry »

In John 7:37-39, Jesus issues a loving, sincere call to anyone and everyone who thirsts. He doesn’t even specify what kind of thirst. So, if you want quenching of any kind, this call is to you.

In the verses that follow, people respond in a variety of ways. Some believe him. Others seem open but confused. Some religious leaders aggressively reject Jesus. They even mock and belittle the confused crowd. But one leader named Nicodemus is unique. He seems intent on asking questions and further considering the claims of Christ. In fact, back in John 3, he “came to Jesus by night” to get answers.

This narrative presents us with a question: How am I responding to Jesus right now? Here are some reflection and discussion points to help you work through that question.

Read the rest of this entry »

Questions for Reflection & Discussion

1. Do you have any thoughts, questions, or takeaways from the series “Daniel: Living in Exile”? How can you respond to what God taught you in the first half of Daniel?

2. While living in exile, Daniel and his friends did not thoughtlessly assimilate, nor did they fearfully or self-righteously separate from the culture around them. Do you find yourself tending toward either one of these two options? Why do you think that is?

3. Chapter 6 shows us that Daniel pursued excellence, integrity, and dependence on God. What does it look like for you to pursue excellence, integrity, and dependence on God in your workplace? Are there changes you need to make to pursue these values?

4. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not human masters.” How can you apply this presently?

5. What pressures are there in your life that you need to be watchful and prayerful about because they could lead you to lose integrity?

6. “For Christians, the most typical sign of pride is the absence of prayer.” What do you think of this? Do you see a connection between pride and prayerlessness in your life?

7. Please read 1 Peter 2:9-12. One repeated theme in this series was that in order to live well in exile, we need to know who God is, and we need to know who we are as his people. Let’s ask the Lord to give us a deeply rooted understanding of both.

A Question for Private Reflection

Is there any area of your life where you are losing integrity? Are there ways that you’ve allowed yourself to become divided, so that you’re trying to maintain a respectable persona, even while you give yourself to hidden sin? If so, confess this to the Lord and find a trusted Christian friend to share with—someone who will pray for you and provide accountability that will help you to repent and pursue wholeness.

Questions for Reflection & Discussion

1. Were any questions raised for you by the message from Daniel 5?

2. Was anything in the message particularly convicting, encouraging, or otherwise helpful to you?

3. The Bible describes sin in different ways: it’s transgression of God’s Law; it’s worshiping idols instead of God. But Daniel 5 shows us yet another way to understand sin: it’s the misuse (or abuse) of something made by God and owned by God. To see this, we looked at the fall in Genesis 3 and David’s sin in 2 Samuel 11. How does defining sin as misuse/abuse help us to understand the offensiveness of sin?

4. What kind of misuses/abuses have you observed around you recently? What are you personally tempted to misuse/abuse?

5. The Bible assures humanity that there is a day of reckoning. People will have to answer for their abuses, and accounts will be settled. Is the promise of a day of reckoning encouraging? Frightening? Both? Why?

6. If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ, then in a very real sense, for you the day of reckoning is in the past. Christ, fully aware of all your abuses, paid your bill with his life. How should this shape the way you think about and address existing sin in your life now?

7. Let’s take time to thank Christ for facing the reckoning, reconciling the check, and reconciling us to God. Romans 5:8-11 can help you pray.