Bible Study notes

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Bible study notes for 

January  18th to 22nd

© ROOTS for Churches Ltd 2002-2020. Reproduced with permission.

The links between the lectionary readings for this week – Come, see, hear 

One way of thinking about the Christian life is to say that being a Christian is not about having the right ideas about God, but about having a genuine experience of God and then showing forth the fruits of that experience in your life. In other words, Christians are people who have been changed by an encounter they have had with God, much as the disciples are changed by their encounter with Jesus. Then, when we want others to know about our encounter or experience of God, we tell them, “Come and see.” We do not simply try to convince others with our ideas about God and our theological arguments; we simply introduce them to what we have experienced and invite them to see for themselves what a difference this makes.

This weeks readings talk of what it means to have an encounter with God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit and how that experience changes us.

The lesson from I Samuel, tells the well-known story of the calling of the boy Samuel. You’ll remember that Samuel is lying down in the temple when he hears a voice calling him, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel leaps up and runs to Eli in a nearby room and says, “Here I am, for you called me.” Eli tells the boy to go lie down again, for he did not call him. Samuel hears the same call three times, and continues to mistake the voice of the Lord for the voice of Eli, because “Samuel did not yet know the Lord,” we are told. But on the third time, Eli “perceives” (though his eyesight has grown dim) that the Lord is calling Samuel, so he tells the boy to go lie down again, and when he hears the voice again, he should say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (I Samuel 3:1-10) 

The reading from 1 Corinthians includes Paul’s teaching about our bodies being temples of the Holy Spirit. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:12-20) One connection to the first lesson is the idea of God speaking in the temple where Samuel is ministering with Eli, and God speaking in the temple of our own bodies.  

In the Gospel lesson, we have the calling of Philip and Nathanael. This passage comes at the conclusion of the first chapter of John’s Gospel. John the Baptist points out to his disciples who Jesus is, and two of them follow Jesus. When Jesus turns and sees them following him, he asks them, “What are you looking for?”- an important question we might all ponder for ourselves. When the two disciples ask Jesus where he is staying, Jesus responds by saying, “Come and see,” which of course is an invitation repeated in the passage above. One of the two disciples is Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, and Andrew goes and gets Peter to come along with them. There is a sense in these opening verses of people seeing and experiencing something that they want to tell others about. 

Ask yourselves these questions as you read

  1. What is this passage about?
  2. What do I hear God’s Spirit saying to me as I read?
  3. What change do I need to make in my life from what I have heard God say?

Take some time in prayer to prepare yourself to read and time in prayer and reflection after reading. 

 Loving God,
speak to us
through the words of the Bible;
speak to us
through the words of our friends,
that we may call others
to come and listen too.
Amen.

MondayJohn 1.35-42

The Gospels are not biographies of Jesus, nor do they tell us everything about him. The evangelists wrote these accounts so we can meet and learn about the Jesus they knew. In today’s reading John relates how Jesus met his first disciples. 

First John the Baptist describes Jesus as ‘the Lamb of God’ to two of his disciples. 

They are clearly interested to see what he meant by this because they then follow after Jesus. Jesus speaks to them and invites them to see the place where he is staying. We are told that this encounter takes place at four o’clock in the afternoon. They then spend the rest of the day getting to know more about him and his teaching.  

Andrew was clearly impressed because he loses no time in telling his brother Simon that they have found the Messiah. Andrew then takes Simon to meet Jesus. Simon’s encounter with Jesus is dramatic. Jesus takes one look at him, tells him who he is and then gives him a new name–Cephas or Peter. In Jesus’ time, as today, a new name means a new identity. Peter was changed by his first meeting with Jesus and immediately left his job as a fisherman behind (Matthew 4:18-22). But it was to take years of growing, loving and serving Jesus before he really became the rock on which Jesus was able to build his church. 

What can we learn from this passage about how people meet Jesus and become his disciples? 

John the Baptist and Andrew both knew who Jesus was and then introduced their friends to Jesus. 

How did you find Jesus? Was it through the help of other Christians? Can you describe it in a few words? 

Ask God to show you ways you can help your friends meet Jesus. 

Lord Jesus,
we are sorry when we do and say things
that turn others away from you instead of drawing them closer.
Help us to be like Philip and help our friends to hear you.

(pause)

Lord, please help me to understand more fully what it means to be your disciple. Help me to deepen my relationship with you and help me to do all that you ask me to. Amen

For further reading check out Working preacher.

Tuesday – 1 Samuel 3.1-10,(11-20) 

Samuel was named to remind everyone that he was an answer to his mother’s prayer for a child (1 Samuel 1.11) – his name means ‘The Lord heard’. In this story, however, it is Samuel who hears the Lord, but he doesn’t immediately understand what is going on. 

The powerful dynamic of two-way hearing takes a little while to be established between Samuel and the Lord, and communication is achieved only with advice from Eli, more experienced in the ways of God. 

Samuel’s call is complex. He lives the life of a priest, wearing priestly clothes (2.18) and even sleeping close to the ark of God (3.3). As a young boy, he is already close to God, in the traditional Israelite understanding of a priest as one who stands between God and the people. Now, for the first time, God also calls this young priest to be a prophet, one who speaks out God’s word truthfully and courageously. Through Samuel, many will hear God’s voice of rebuke or encouragement, and his closeness to God is essential for this ministry. 

In your time of prayer today say to God what Samuel said – speak Lord your servant is listening.

And spend some time silently listening.

 Dear God,
help us to help others
to come to you,
to see you,
and to hear you.
Amen.

For further reading check out Working preacher.

Wednesday – 1 Corinthians 6.12-20 

The church at Corinth had much to learn about authentic Christian living. Paul has just reminded them of the wonderful ways God has been at work in their lives: washed, sanctified, justified. Yet despite all this, they still get it wrong. They know that they are saved through faith in Jesus Christ, and that nothing else contributes to their salvation. So, in writing to Paul, they used the phrase ‘all things are lawful for me’. Paul agrees that they are saved through Christ alone, but stresses that ‘all things are lawful’ does not mean that ‘anything goes’. There are other factors to consider. What is appropriate for me? What might endanger my freedom? What behaviour would defile the presence of God in me? 

This final question leads to reflection on the particular problems raised by sins that involve the body. The presence of the Spirit within us makes us holy, and so it is wrong to corrupt our bodies. Paul concludes by emphasising that we praise God through our bodies, not just our words or thoughts. Our God, embodied in Jesus Christ, is glorified through our physicality.

Reflect on what it means to you that you have the Spirit in you.  That your body is a temple of the Spirit.

‘Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God?’ 1 Corinthians 6.19 

How is God calling you to use your body for his glory?

‘You do not belong to yourselves but to God; he bought you for a price. So use your bodies for God’s glory.’ 1 Corinthians 6.20 

 Father God, we thank you that we don’t have to earn your forgiveness. 

It is not based on how worthy we are.

We are forgiven through Christ Jesus. 

It is by grace that our sins are forgiven. 

Amen.

For further reading check out Working preacher.

Thursday – Psalm 139

This is a beautiful psalm of intimacy between an individual and the creator, who has written each one of us in his book, and knows everything about us. 

You have searched me and known me: the psalmist prayed to Yahweh, understanding that He had personal knowledge of him. Pagans often thought that their gods were hostile or indifferent to men and women; the psalmist knew that the true God cared enough to have searched and known each man and woman.

· It’s not just that God knows everything – He knows me.

· It’s not just that God is everywhere – He is everywhere with me.

· It’s not just that God created everything – He created me.

Take some time to reflect on what it means for God to know you inside and out…. 

 Creator God, how awesome you are!
Our lives were known to you before we came into being.
Marvellous Lord,
Everything we do, think and say – you know about.

Such infinite wonder!
Eternal, loving Lord,
Ever helping us to see and be more like you.

How awesome you are, glorious Lord.
Everywhere we go your hand is with us,
Always guiding and
Revealing your blessings – as we praise, listen and act. Amen.

For further reading check out Working preacher.

Friday – Reflect on the past week’s studies and thinking. 

 What have you learned? 

Where have you clearly heard the Holy Spirit speaking to you? 

What are you going to change in your life going ahead?

We thank you, God, for those times when we have sensed your presence, heard your voice, seen new insights – particularly when we have needed those things. Yet some of us, Lord, can’t remember ever hearing your voice.

Teach us how to make space, how to hear you and to recognise your presence with us, and how not to get in the way of others finding you.

We ask for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Saturday – PS and reflection on the week past and the week coming up

Read the passage that is the focus for this weeks service – Mark 1.14-20

Which verse stands out to you?

Ask God’s Spirit to speak to you as you reflect on this passage over the weekend.

Thank you, Lord, that you know us and can see our potential – for you know who we are created to be. 

We thank you for all the people you have placed in our lives – parents, teachers, guardians, friends, whoever they may be – people who have made a real difference. 

We thank you for the blessings of relationships, but most of all for our relationship with you.

Help us to bless others in your name. 

Thank you, Lord, that when we are hurt, confused or unsure about something or someone,
we can come to you – thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit’s wisdom and guidance.

Lord, our hearts are lifted by your presence in our lives. All glory to you with thanks and praise.
Amen.