pausing this term in favour of Bible Notes to be used at home from Feb 11th to Easter – see below

We value reading and learning from the Bible since it is the foundation of our faith. Its teaching never goes out of date because God and people have not changed. In the Old Testament we read of how God made the world and tried to establish a relationship with us, which we kept breaking until we were almost completely out of touch with him. The prophets looked forward to a time when God would do something new to bring us back to God. This special agent or Messiah would be identified with God Himself.

In the New Testament we read of the coming to earth of this rescuer, Jesus. We read of his life, his teachings and miracles, his death and resurrection, God who became a man. We read then of what his disciples did in spreading the message about Jesus as rescuer. Paul and others write letters to encourage the early Christians in their relationships with the risen Jesus and with one another.

Our home groups last an hour and include prayers at the end. Sometimes the sessions are grouped by theme and sometimes we study a book. The emphasis is not on academic study but on finding out what the Bible is saying to us about how we should run our personal and church lives.

Mon 11 Feb – Fri 15 Feb         Luke 5.1-11

The Calling of the first disciples

We don’t know if Jesus grew up with these lads or had much prior contact with them. Luke places this after Jesus’ first sermon, where he announces his saving mission. Was Jesus simply recruiting and the fishermen happened to be there, or did he pre-plan this moment ? Did they simply listen to him in a certain way that Jesus noticed ?

MONDAY

People were pushing to hear him. What do you look forward to when coming to church ?

TUESDAY

The fishermen were shown God’s power by a catch of fish, something they could understand (payment from Jesus for boat hire too). When have you seen God’s power at work at home or at work or a prayer answered?

WEDNESDAY

At first they argued with Jesus; when it came to fishing, they knew best, but they did relent. Are you sometimes reluctant to follow the still small voice of Jesus inside you ? Do you recognise this voice ?

THURSDAY

The big catch got two other partners involved. Did Jesus select them or did they opt in ? When have you been surprised by someone you know showing an interest in the Christian faith ?

FRIDAY

Peter’s reaction is interesting. Do you ever feel like this ? Why ?

 

Mon 18 Feb – Fri 22 Feb                     Luke 5.12-16 and 17-26

Two healings

Leprosy was not only a serious condition, it made you unclean and so you were banned from human company and therefore from church; you became completely isolated except for the company of other lepers. No cure. The next passage (Wed-Fri) sees friends making a hole in a mud and sticks roof to lower their friend down to Jesus. That’s pretty desperate, given you are damaging someone else’s house

MONDAY                  Luke 5.12-16

How does the man approach Jesus ? What does it show about what he thought about him ? How do you pray of you have something wrong ?

TUESDAY

In what ways was Jesus’ instruction a challenge to the man ? What price   do we have to pay when we are healed ?

WEDNESDAY               Luke 5.17-26

Think about the faith of the friends. Why did they do what they did ? Can you think of friends with that kind of faith and love ? What would you do for your friends ?

THURSDAY

Would you have been surprised if Jesus had said what he said to you ? What is the link between forgiveness and healing ? Why did Jesus sat what he said ? How conscious are you of the healing power of his and others’ forgiveness ?

FRIDAY

As with the last passage, Jesus gets the man to do something hard. Why was it hard ? What did he lose ? Has a healing changed your life ?

Mon 25 Feb – Fri 1 March        Luke 6.1-11

More opposition           (this is a constant theme in Luke)

The Pharisees and Scribes were the religious experts, who made and monitored the religious rules – thankfully we have no equivalent ,but individuals can be very sure of what others should or shouldn’t do ! The incident refered to was a time when David was on the run from Saul and had nothing to eat, so was given the ‘communion’ bread to eat by a sympathetic priest. It was a life or death situation although a rule was technically broken.

MONDAY

When have you been put off by petty rules in church ? When are they a barrier to good ?

TUESDAY

How important is Sunday to you ? What on that day helps you to focus on God besides church ? If the principle beneath the rule is rest, how do you ensure you get regular rest and what do you do to rest ?

WEDNESDAY

Next Sunday the Pharisees were watching to see what Jesus would do. Are you aware of people watching you to see how you perform as a Christian ? Are you caught out ? What impresses others, if anything ?

THURSDAY

Why does Jesus put the man on the spot, especially when he knows he himself is in the spotlight ? Do you ever feel like this ?

FRIDAY

No touch, just a command but the result is dramatic for ALL to see. Somehow Jesus’ opponents do not see it. Have you experienced the work of God or an answered prayer being invisible to others you know ?

Mon 4 March – Fri 8 March            Luke 6.12-19 

Making disciples

I expect you’ve already noticed Jesus disappearing off to pray in other passages.  He does so before choosing his team, who become immediate apprentices. One name is different – Bartholomew is Nathaniel in John’s gospel. Some think that Levi in Luke 5.27-32 is Matthew. Others think he’s just another tax collector

MONDAY

What is significant about when and where he prayed ? When and where  do you and why ?

TUESDAY

What do you notice about the names ? Who did you recognise ? Why did he choose Judas ? When did you sense he had chosen or called you ?

ASH WEDNESDAY

V17 talks of a crowd of disciples. The Bible writers probably didn’t know    or remember who everybody was. Jesus sends out 72 in Luke 10. Do you feel close to Jesus or an outsider ? Do some Christians seem to be closer   to Jesus than others ? What is it about them ?

THURSDAY

Is there a link between hearing and healing ? Jesus clearly did a variety of healings. Are you always aware of what Jesus wants to heal you of ?

FRIDAY

Power went out of Jesus when the sick touched him. Do you get drained when you try to help other people ? How do you replenish your supplies ? What feeds you ? It doesn’t say definitely they all got healing from him.

Mon 11 March – Fri 15 March           Luke 6.20-26

The beatitudes

The beatitudes are blessings, pronouncing that various kinds of people, though on the back foot in life, are to be blessed or are blessed by God. These words are often read on Remembrance Sunday, presumably to underline the blessing of peace and victory after hardship.

MONDAY

In what way does the Kingdom of God belong to the poor ? In what ways are you poor ?

TUESDAY

What does it mean to hunger for something ? What are or have been the things you hunger for ? What of the things of God do you hunger for ?

WEDNESDAY

Weeping usually comes only for a time. It might seem impossible that there will be laughter again but it comes, even though we may feel guilty about it. What do you weep or mourn about in terms of the state of the country, the world, your family ?

THURSDAY

How can it be a blessing to be disliked ? What does this mean ? Have you been rejected, ridiculed or misunderstood for being a Christian ?

FRIDAY

After four blessings come the woes (the opposite of each of the qualities of Mon-Thurs).  What might be the things to be careful about if we are well off, popular, happy and well provided for ? What are the things that might or do take you away from serving or praying to God ?

Mon 18 March – Fri 22 March           Luke 6.27-42

How you treat those you don’t get on with

In Jewish culture, life was geared towards evening things up. If someone invites you to dinner, you invite them back. If someone gets you, you get them back. Jesus taught the way of giving and for-giving. We are to give just as our Father has given us a love we cannot possibly repay.

MONDAY                   Luke 6.27-31

Do you find it easy to pray for those who don’t like you or those you don’t like ? Is doing good to them harder ? Have you experienced this ?

TUESDAY

Do you let people hurt you twice ? Have friendships been lost because others do not give back to you what you have given ?

WEDNESDAY                Luke 6.32-36

What might it mean to be merciful to difficult people ? Should we expect anything back ? What do you give back to God for what he has given to   you ?

THURSDAY                    Luke 6.37-42

Judging is second nature to many of us. How is giving an opposite of that ? Have you experienced getting a lot back when you have given generously ?

FRIDAY

Have you ever felt critical towards another for a fault you have later seen you have too? What might be your blind spots or planks in the eye ? What is the point being made in verses 41 and 42 ?

Mon 25 March – Fri 29 March         Luke 7.1-10 and 11-17

Two extraordinary healings

Both healings of Jesus are witnessed by large crowds. It is as if their faith is taught by what happens. Notice that the key elements that prompted the miracle are quite different in each case

MONDAY       Luke 7.1-10

A Roman centurion would be a real outsider, someone not considered to have any interest in anything Jewish. What picture do we get of what this man is like ? What does this teach us about how people can come to find Jesus ?

TUESDAY

How does the soldier’s faith come across ? What does that teach you about how you should approach Jesus in prayer ? Why does Jesus answer him ?

WEDNESDAY         Luke 7.11-17

What was significant about the woman’s situation ? Have you ever been in desperate circumstances ? How does losing something or everything affect your openness to receive help ?

THURSDAY

Why does Jesus act here ?  Why does he address the boy who’s dead, instead of pray ‘Let him be healed’ ?  When might God have been talking to you when you were not alive enough spiritually to listen ? (Jesus did not touch him to heal him)

FRIDAY

How would you have reacted if you were in the crowd, seeing the miracle take place ? Have you ever been in or witnessed a situation that seemed hopeless, only for suddenly things to be changed ? How many situations have you written off, thinking things could never change ?

Mon 1 April – Fri 5 April        Luke 7.36-50

Contrasting attitudes

Jesus is invited to a meal not out of respect, but because they want to   catch him out or make fun of him. He is given none of the usual acts of hospitality, today’s equivalents of having your coat taken or given a drink. The attitude of the Pharisees is similar towards the woman who comes to anoint Jesus. The woman however greets Jesus extravagantly and with tears of gratitude for what he has done for her. The guests do not see this.

MONDAY

That jar of perfume cost her a lot; so did her running the gauntlet of the house guests and host. Think of when you were particularly generous to someone – why were you ? What are you grateful to God for ?

TUESDAY

The Pharisees just saw her as a bad woman. Think of someone who has pigeon-holed you because of something in the past or of someone else treated like that. Why do they ? Why do you ?

WEDNESDAY

What does the little story in vv41-43 have to say about why some people are more grateful and generous to God than others ? How aware are you  of God’s forgiveness of you ?

THURSDAY

Jesus rattles them by declaring her forgiven. Why are they so cross ? Who is Jesus making himself out to be by saying that ?

FRIDAY

When the service ends with ‘go in peace’ – how does that make you feel when you leave church ? How was it her faith that made her well ?

Mon 8 April – Fri 12 April       Luke 8.4-8, 11-15

The parable of the sower

This is the only parable in our readings and probably the best known. It is capable of taking on more than one interpretation so have an open mind as you read. Jesus may have a sower on the horizon to point to as he is teaching ! Farming analogies always have bearing fruit and harvest in mind i.e. spiritual growth and judgement.

MONDAY           Luke 8.4-8

Think of the four fates that befell the seed that was sown. What does this say about the sower and the amount of seed he uses ?

TUESDAY 

Who are the people who have ears to hear ? What does he mean ? Without the explanation of the arable to come, what do you take from these verses as a challenge to you ?

WEDNESDAY          Luke 8.11-15

So who are the categories of people now and what is the seed that the sower sows ? When you listen to sermons ore read the Bible, which one do you identify with ?

THURSDAY

Who can you pray for who has made it as far as the second stage in v13 and third stage in verses 14 ? Can you identify with these people ? How ?

FRIDAY

Sowers seed ground every year. The parable may remind us that what doesn’t grow one year may do so next time, but the opposite may be true. What qualities of God come out of this parable and what qualities of human nature ? If the word of God is seed, how will I read or listen differently to the Bible in future ?

Mon 15 April – Fri 19 April         Luke 9.18-36

The message and challenge of the cross

This passage is the centre of the gospel in Mark. Now that Jesus’ mission and destiny have been revealed, the cross, it’s downhill all the way to Jerusalem. The story passes from miracles to perseverance in the face of suffering, BUT  through suffering comes the glory of Easter Sunday

MONDAY                Luke 9.18-27

If someone asked you who exactly Jesus was (and many now don’t even know if he was a real person), how would you answer ? Who is he to you ? How does that affect how you live ?

TUESDAY

The idea of a suffering Messiah was unheard of. Surely Jesus could call armies of angels to zap the Romans and anyone else standing in the way   of the Kingdom of God, but suffering is the path we are called to if we    carry the cross. In what way do you carry a cross as a disciple of Christ ?

WEDNESDAY              Luke 9.28-36

How would you have felt to witness this scene ? What would the disciples have remembered afterwards ? Do you ever have any mountain top experiences to feed you later when you have come down into the darker valleys of life ?

MAUNDY THURSDAY

Why does Peter want to put up three shelters ? In what ways do we sometimes try and hang on to experiences and bring heaven to earth rather than bring earth (the world and its needs) to heaven ?

GOOD FRIDAY

The cloud & the voice represent God’s presence, yet a cloud is something you get lost in & can’t see in. How can we experience God in hiddenness ?