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Bible Study: "Studies in Spiritual Resilience"


Series Introduction

We are moving through a profound season of political turmoil, a national racial reckoning, and the end stages of a pandemic. These calamities have brought disruption into the world, our communities, friendships, families, and our internal well-being. As we wonder how to feel our feelings and be resilient in a new normal, it helps to look to people who have gone before us into seasons of trouble.

This series of Bible studies are excerpts of letters from the first parents of Christian faith to communities of new Christians. All were experiencing trial, hardship, famine, persecution, and even plagues. May the Holy Spirit‘s voice through their ancient words mentor us as we hold our souls and each other.

Week 1 (Nov 3) - Romans 8:18–28           [Session Notes]

Vision and Objective:  You’re reading part of a letter written from a church planter named Paul to the church in Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire and full of people who had just become Christians. Thus the book is called, “Romans“. Paul was explaining the suffering of this world and how to live in it as God‘s children. The good news of Jesus‘ life, death, and resurrection allows people to become God‘s children and gives them God‘s Spirit living inside them.

Week 2 (Nov 10) - 1 Peter 5:1-11

Vision and Objective:  Peter is one of the first followers of Jesus (see Luke 5:1-11) and one of the first people to recognize him as God (see Matthew 16:13-20). In this letter, he’s encouraging those who feel separated from friends and experiencing suffering and persecution. He wants them to journey with courage towards Jesus, all which requires the true grace of God. In his own faith journey, Peter moved from faith in Jesus as a good teacher, to disillusionment, to recognizing Jesus as the one who leads him and saves him.

Week 3 (Nov 17) - Philippians 4:4-13

Vision and Objective:  Philippians is named for the people in the city (Philippi) that this letter was sent to. Philippi was a former army colony of Rome, composed mainly of retired soldiers and Roman citizens. Paul, the author of the letter, is in prison (most likely in Rome) and has received gifts and provisions from the Philippians via Epaphroditus who almost died on the journey to Paul. He writes this letter to thank the Philippians, encourage them, stop any false teaching and call them to unity in Christ.

Week 4 (Nov 24) - Isaiah 46:1-7

Vision and Objective:  This passage comes from the Old Testament, the scriptures Jesus would have grown up hearing and reading (for example, he reads from Isaiah in Luke 4:16-21). Isaiah is a prophet: someone who foretells truth more than foretells it, meaning he often is speaking the truth to power more than predicting the future. In this case, God is about to allow a large empire to take over Israel because Israel has worshiped other gods and abused the vulnerable in their society. Isaiah is bringing his message to the leaders of Israel to warn them and to call them to turn back to trusting God alone.

Week 5 (Dec 1) - John 11:21-27, 32-44

Vision and Objective:  This is a passage from the Gospel of John (“John” for short). The Gospels are four books at the beginning of the New Testament that combine ancient historical biography with persuasion to write eye witness accounts of Jesus. The first half of John is organized around seven signs that Jesus performs to show that he is sent from God. These signs all have deep connections to the Old Testament. In the OT, God met his people in profound ways. For example, when he rescued them from slavery in Egypt and they were in the desert, he fed them with mana, bread from heaven. So, it’s really significant that Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” It’s not just that he wants to feed his people and provide, he is helping those listening to see that his very life is what the manna miracle was pointing towards—he himself provides them with life.

Just like Jesus tying the manna miracle to himself when he says he’s the bread of life, Jesus is about to tie another promise of God—God’s biggest promise—to himself. The Jews believed that one day God would restore his good and perfect reign and bring the world to justice. This was called, “The Resurrection” and is at the heart of psalms like Psalm 16:9-10: “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.” The trust in God’s justice and faithfulness extended even to God’s power over the grave. Just like the manna miracle, though, the Jews couldn’t see the full scope of what God was up to, it was like they were looking through a dirty window, seeing some things, but missing the bigger thing

2021 Vestry Business ** 2022 Covenant Added **
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