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Past Fun, Fellowship, and Ministry at Troy First

By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         John 3:1-17     


Thoughts:         What queen saved her people?  What minor prophet forgave his unfaithful wife?  Who came to Jesus by night?


These were questions in a game called Bible Lotto, which my family played often.  It was indeed a quieter, simpler time.  We had only one telephone, which did not text or twitter or tweet; it did ot tell time or take pictures or reveal the identity of the caller.


But Esther and Hosea and Nicodemus were well-known answers to us.  I always pictured Nicodemus creeping stealthily through the dark streets of Jerusalem so that he could talk to Jesus privately.


Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews.  Perhaps Jesus expected him to understand his metaphor about being born again.  Did Nicodemus really not grasp Jesus’ meaning, or was he being deliberately obtuse?  Jesus chided him.  “Art thou master of Israel and knowest not these things?” 


Discussion:      What things do we know?  What things are needful?


Activity:            Read more about Nicodemus in John 19:38-42.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Acts 2:1-21


Thoughts:         What do we know about Peter?

1.  He was the son of Jonah and the brother of Andrew.

2.  He lived in Capernaum.

3.  He has been called the Big Fisherman.

4.  We know he was married, because he had a mother-in-law.

5.  He is named first in the lists of the disciples.

6.  He was the most loquacious disciple.

7.  He was one of the three disciples closest to Jesus.


Do we think of Peter as a scholar, able to quote minor prophets?  Well, no.  But in today’s reading, Peter reels off five verses from the second chapter of Joel.


This passage has a modern outlook:

“ … your sons and your daughters shall prophesy ….”


It has echoes of poetry:

“ … your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions ….”


And it closes with a wonderful promise:

“ … who so ever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”


Discussion:      How would a present-day audience react to Peter’s talk?


Activity:            Read the book of Joel – all three chapters.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Luke 24:44-53


Thoughts:         Our family spent several hours in church every week.  Sunday school, morning church service, M.Y.F. meeting, evening church, choir practice, prayer meeting – those all met every week of the year.  Nothing stopped for summer!


Then there were the dreaded revivals, which meant two full weeks of long services every night, conducted by frenetic, perspiring evangelists.  We children were not happy members of the audience.  We would never have chosen to be like the disciples who, with “great joy” were “continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.”


Discussion:      Should all church services continue throughout the summer?  Why or why not?


Activity:            Invite someone to a church service or church activity.  Remember, “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’.”

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Psalm 98


Thoughts:         Psalm 98 is titled simply “A Psalm” – the only psalm so designated in the King James Bible. 


Thirty-three psalms have no title.  Eighty-eight psalms are credited to David and/or the chief musician.  Asaph is named in the titles of seven psalms, the sons of Korah in three, Solomon in two, Ethan and Moses in one each.


So – simply “A Psalm.”  The main theme of psalm 98 is praise.  The people are told to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” with voice and harp and trumpet and cornet.


Nature is commanded to join the celebration, with the sea roaring, floods clapping their hands, and hills rejoicing.


Praise the Lord!


Discussion:      Why is Psalm 23 so memorable?


Activity:            Memorize you favorite psalm.  (Perhaps not Psalm 119!)

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         I John 4:7-21



                             “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us . . . . ”


And so we are assured of God’s love in these fifteen verses.  The word “beloved” is used two times; the archaic “loveth” occurs four times; the simple past tense “loved” also appears four times.  The word “love” is used nineteen times – seven times as a verb and twelve times as a noun.


And this is important why?  The repetition emphasizes the importance of this wonderfully comforting truth.  God loves us.  We don’t have to be successful or brilliant or beautiful.  God loves us.


Discussion:      If love is not returned, will it fade?  Why or why not?


Activity:            Read II Samuel 18, the story of a father’s love for his traitorous son.

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By: Sue Oleson
Scripture:         I John 3:16-24


Thoughts:         “I love you, Mother,” said little John. 

                             Then, forgetting his chores, his cap went on,

                             yelling and running as fast as he could,

                             leaving his mother to fetch the wood.


                             “I love you, Mother,” said little Nell. 

                             “No one could love you half so well.”

                             Then she fussed and pouted half the day,

                             ‘Til her mother rejoiced when she went to play.


                             “I love you, Mother,” said little Fan.

                             Today I’ll help you all I can.

                             How glad I am that school doesn’t keep!

                             Then she rocked the baby ‘til he fell asleep.


                             Then, stepping softly, she fetched the broom

                             And swept and dusted and tidied the room.


                             Three little children going to bed.

                             “I love you, Mother,” each one said.

                             Do you think the mother easily guessed

                             Which of them really loved her best?


Discussion:      What situations might make words more important than deeds?


Activity:            Show someone a special kindness.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         I John 3:1-7


Thoughts:         “It does not yet appear what we shall be.”  When you are young, everything is possible in the future.  Your pimples will disappear.  You will pass physics class.  You will wander through Scotland, snipping a sprig of heather, sipping tea in Glamis Castle, walking reverently through the library at Abbotsford.


When you are old, you feel as though what you will be has indeed appeared – along with wrinkles and aching knees.  Scotland is a wistful dream.  You sit by the fire and you reread old books and you listen to old music.  You don’t expect to become anyone, any more.


Yet John says we don’t know what we shall be.


Discussion:      What do you want to be?


Activity:            “I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,

                             No sudden rending of the veil of clay,

                             No angel visitant, no opening skies,

                             But take the dimness of my soul away.”


Do you know the hymn in which this verse appears?

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         John 20:1-18


Thoughts:         Years ago, sunrise services were not at the civilized hour of 8am.  They were literally scheduled for sunrise – like 5:48am, and they were held on an outcropping rock, high above a river.


Huddled together in the chilly dark, we watched as the sky in the east lightened, and ribbons of gold and rose barred the rising sun.  We listened to the story of mary Magdalene, hurrying to Jesus’ sepulcher while it was yet dark.


Mary’s lonely walk in the dark, her loving concern, her tears, her fervent desire to care for Jesus’ lacerated body were all rewarded when the risen Savior appeared to her and spoke her name.  “Mary.”  In those cold, early sunrise services, we could feel Jesus’ presence.  We could hear our own names.


Discussion:      If peter and John had lingered by Jesus’ sepulcher, would he have appeared to them?


Activity:            When you are introduced to someone, remember to repeat his/her name in your first reply.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         Mark 11:1-11



John:                  We’re getting near Jerusalem.

James:                It’s going to be terribly crowded.

Thomas:            I doubt if we’ll find a place to stay.

Philip:                Any of you guys have any relatives with big houses?

James the Less:    My Aunt Esther has an extra room.

Nathaniel:        Right – for 13 of us.

Jesus:                 Andrew – Thaddeus – I need you.

Andrew and Thaddeus:    Yes, Master?

Jesus:                 See that barn down the road?  You’ll find a colt outside, tied to the fence.  No one has ever ridden this colt.

Thaddeus:        Well, I don’t want to be the first.

Jesus:                 I want you to untie that colt and bring him to me.

Andrew:            Shouldn’t we ask the owner if ____________

Jesus:                 Just tell the owner the Lord has need of the colt, and he will understand.

Thaddeus:        Do you know the ____________

Jesus:                 Just go and bring the colt back to me.


Discussion:      What colt have you been reluctant to bring back?


Activity:            Send an Easter card to someone who lives alone.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         John 12:20-33


Thoughts:         Previous to this passage, Jesus had made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the day we celebrate as Palm Sunday.  This fulfilled the prophecy of Zehariah, a minor prophet.


“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! … behold, thy King cometh unto thee .. riding upon a colt the foal of an ass.”


And you can put this in your Jeopardy file:  Zechariah – Zachariar – Zaccheus was the most popular personal name in the bible. 


Of course the Pharisees were there during Jesus’ one brief shining moment, murmuring enviously, and there were Greeks who wanted to see Jesus. To these Greeks Jesus confided his fear of the coming days.  “Now is my soul troubled.”  To his Father, he prayed, “Father save me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour.”


Discussion:      What good may come from our suffering?


Activity:            Give a troubled soul balm, like the balm of Gilead which could heal the sinsick soul.

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