There is a story of when Francis of Assisi fasted on a mountain. So intense was he in his meditation that he began to see Jesus on a cross that stretched across the horizon. As he watched, he saw a sword of grief and pity pierce the heart of God. Slowly the vision began to fade and Francis looked down—only to find the marking of nails in his own hands. People say that he had those marks till the day he died.
- Regardless of whether this story is true or not, every true Christian longs to fully understand the magnitude of Calvary. Paul was no different. In his time, a master branded his slaves to show ownership. Some say that Paul had himself branded with marks of nails in his hands to show the world whom he belonged to. Assuming that this may be some true, what do you think Paul is saying in Galatians 6:11-18. How does Paul suggest that we glory in the cross of Christ?
- Augustine said, “God loves each of us as if there was only one of us to love.” John 3:16 tells us that God sent His Son to die for us because He loved the “world”—not a nation, not a people, but the whole world. In this context, why is it important that we accept salvation as a gift? Explain.
- One of the fundamental thoughts of the Jews was that a man must “earn” God’s favor. One of the fundamental thoughts of Christians is that all a man can do is take God at His word. Considering this BIG difference, why do you think Paul uses Abraham as the greatest example of faith (Romans 4:1-8)? What specific acts of Abraham qualifies him to be the Father of Faith?
- Thursday’s lesson tells us that “for many people, as they near the end of their lives they look back and see how vain, how futile, how useless their deeds, their works are for earning salvation with a holy God.” What are the elements of life that make us feel like we have to depend on ourselves more than anyone or anything else? What can we do to live a life that says “Jesus is in control”? In what ways does your spiritual life reflect who/what is in control?
- When traveling through China, Rosita Forbes found herself at the end of one day with no place to sleep. So she found shelter in a Chinese temple. In the middle of the night, she awoke to find moonlight streaming through the window. The shadows made the gods’ faces scary and unfriendly. What is it about our God that should make us unafraid of him? In what possible scenario would we be afraid of Him?
- We have all felt the rejection and pain of a broken promise. The Bible is full of promises that we can count on one hundred percent. Yet we are the ones who, in disobedience, step out of our covenant relationship. Having known the pain of a broken relationship, what can we do to ensure that we don’t take our covenant relationship casually?