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Past Fun, Fellowship, and Ministry at Troy First

By: Sue Oleson

 

Scripture:         I John 4:7-21

 

Thoughts:        

                             “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

 

Thoughts:        

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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By: Sue Oleson

 

Scripture:         John 3:14-21

 

Thoughts:         If asked what their favorite Bible verse is, many people would reply, “John 3:16,” and they could quote it verbatim.

 

Fewer of us would know that this beloved and exquisite verse was part of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus.

 

Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin.  Only John records his nocturnal visit to Jesus.  Later, when the chief priests tried to arrest Jesus, Nicodemus defended him, asking, “Doth our law judge any man before it hear him, and know what he doeth?”

 

And finally, Nicodemus assisted Joseph of Arimathea in his burial of Jesus.  Nicodemus brought 100 pounds of mingled aloe and myrrh to anoint Jesus’ body. He helped Joseh wrap the body in fine linen and place it in Joseph’s garden tomb.

 

Discussion:      Nicodemus held a position of influence.  How do we use our influence?

 

Activity:            What symbolic mixture of aloe and myrrh do we have to comfort others?

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By: Sue Oleson

 

Scripture:         John 2:13-22

 

Thoughts:         Beginning teachers have been warned to be very firm and very grim.  No kindness, no leniency, no smiles for the first six weeks. 

 

Did Jesus feel the need to establish his authority?  Is this the reason that John tells us very early in his gospel about Jesus’ cleansing of the temple?

 

Sometimes Jesus’ disciples seem rather dense, but his actions in this passage remind them of a quotation from Psalms:  “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”

 

Discussion:      Jesus told the Jews – always present, always critical – “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  After Jesus’ resurrection, what did his disciples understand?

 

Activity:            John Calls the temple “a house of merchandise.”  Could our church be described this way?  Why or why not?

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By: Sue Oleson

 

Scripture:         Mark 8:31-38

 

Thoughts:         When Jesus told his disciples that he must die, Peter did not want to hear this.  Jesus rebuked him.

 

Perhaps Jesus longed to believe Peter, that surely none of this would happen.  Who wants to suffer?  Peter must be right.  These terrible things would not happen.  God would not permit them to happen.

 

But Jesus could not accept the comfort of peter’s sympathetic reassurance.  How hard it must have been for Jesus to exclaim, “Oh Peter, you don’t understand!  These things are not of men; they are of God.”

 

And so Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem.  He held fast to his faith in his Father and to his belief that he would come gain “in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

 

Discussion:      Why did Jesus tell his disciples (three times in mark) of his coming trial, suffering, death, and resurrection?

 

Activity:            Pray for wisdom and strength to give comfort to someone whose heart hurts.

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By: Sue Oleson

 

Scripture:         Mark 1:9-15

 

Thoughts:         Teachers of composition often encourage their students to include details in their writing.  Details add interest and color.  Either Mark never took that course, or he scorned its teaching.

 

These seven verses in the first chapter of Mark compress four significant events in the early days of Jesus’ ministry.

                             1)  Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist

                             2)  Jesus’ days of temptation in the wilderness

                             3)  John the Baptist’s imprisonment

                             4)  Jesus’ first statement in his ministry

 

This statement of 17 words included two facts:  (1) the time is fulfilled; (2) the kingdom of God is at hand.  It concluded with two directions:  (1) repent; (2) believe the gospel.

 

And so, straightway and immediately (two of Mark’s favorite words), we must repent and believe.

 

Discussion:      What is our core belief?

 

Activity:            Take to heart the repentant echo in our communion liturgy.  “Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father.  Forgive us all that is past….”

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