Tag Archives: Simple Math

“Multiplication” Bible Study

Simple Math

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Big Idea: God multiplies small groups into big things

Background Information

            This chapter tells the story of the Northern Kingdom’s struggles against the nation of Aram during the reign of Ahab. Aram was a nation of city-states to the northeast of Israel in modern-day Syria. Ben-Hadad (which means Son of Baal) was king of the city-state of Aram-Damascus and the 32 kings that accompanied him were kings of vassal city-states. These (at least) 33 city-states (there could have been more) made up the nation of Aram.

The army of this nation of city-states numbered in the hundreds of thousands when they first attempted to lay siege to the Israelite capital of Samaria. Whereas, Ahab was only able muster an army of 7,000. Not only was the measly army able to resist the onslaught of Aram’s massive military, they drove them back to Damascus on multiple occasions. It was only because of the strength that God provided that they were able to accomplish this feat.

So often, in our own lives, we feel outnumbered and outgunned. We feel like we have no chance of making an impact in this world. But God turns small things into big things. Even if our influence is small, it has the potential to multiply. If we are able to influence one other person to follow Jesus, his kingdom is doubled. If those two people are able to influence one other person apiece, his kingdom is doubled again. Think of the impact that is possible when we focus on multiplication.

 

Reading Guide

Day 1: 1 Kings 20: 1 – 11

Day 2: 1 Kings 20: 12 – 22

Day 3: 1 Kings 20: 23 – 34

 

Questions for Discussion

  • Has there been a time in your life that you have felt like you are going up against an army of 100,000?
  • What did that feel like?
  • How does this story encourage you?
  • How can we use our small amount of influence to multiply Christ’s disciples?
  • What are some practical ways that we can influence others to imitate us as we imitate Jesus?

 

Action Step

Invite one person to life group next week.

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“Subtraction” Bible Study

Simple Math

Big Idea: Following God can feel lonely.

Introduction

            God calls us to do some crazy things sometimes. God called Elijah to go completely against the rest of his culture, even to the point of defying his government. Even though God called Elijah to do something crazy and dangerous, Elijah was faithful. And it seemed like God had led him straight into a trap. Elijah did exactly what God called him to do and then Jezebel threatened to kill him. So, Elijah fled and went to hide in a cave in the mountains.

Can you believe that? Elijah did what God wanted him to do and that is the thanks he got! Sometimes the exact thing happens to us when we follow Jesus. We do want God wants us to do and people react with hostility. They don’t like it because it upsets the status quo. They want us to do the same things that they are doing. And sometimes it can make us feel like we are all alone.

That is how Elijah felt in that cave. He felt like God had led him out on a limb where he was all by himself. But God reassured him that there were seven thousand people that were willing to stand alongside him. Willing to follow God and defy the status quo. Just like Elijah, God calls us to do things that tend to be counter-cultural and sometimes it seems dangerous and sometimes it seems lonely. But Elijah’s story can reassure us that following God is right, even though sometimes it can make us feel like we are all alone.

Reading Guide:

Day 1: 1 Kings 19: 1 – 7

Day 2: 1 Kings 19: 8 – 14

Day 3: 1 Kings 19: 15 – 21

 

Questions for Discussion:

  • In what ways is following God counter-cultural?
  • In what ways does following God feel lonely?
  • How can we as a group make it less lonely?
  • How does Elijah’s story inspire you to follow God in a society that doesn’t?
  • Why do you think that God appeared to Elijah in the whisper and not the other things?

 

Action Step

As a group come up with a way that you can serve as a group in the next month that will help to reassure you that you are not alone in following God.

“Addition” Bible Study

Simple Math

Big Idea: Taking a step toward Jesus requires faith.

Background Information

After Solomon died, the throne was disputed between his two sons. Because of this the kingdom was split into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. In the year 874 BC, Ahab took the throne of the northern kingdom after his father, Omri, died.  He reigned for 22 years in the city of Samaria, which became the capital of the northern kingdom. Ahab married a woman named Jezebel, who was from a different people-group called the Sidonians. This people-group did not worship the God of Israel, but instead, they worshipped Baal. Because of Jezebel’s influence, Ahab began to worship Baal and set up altars for Baal in Israel.

During the reign of Ahab, God rose up Elijah as a prophet to warn Ahab that his actions would bring about God’s wrath, in the form of a drought, upon Israel. After Elijah informed Ahab of this message from God, God directed Elijah to go hang out in a ravine. He told Elijah to get water from a brook and to eat bread that ravens would bring him. After the drought caused the brook to dry up, God directed Elijah to go find a widow to live with. In ancient times, widows were very poor because they were not allowed to have jobs or owning property. If a woman did not have a husband, she would have no way of growing crops for food or working for an income to buy food.

God directed Elijah to go ask a widow to provide him with food. The widow only had enough oil and flour to make one last meal for herself and her son, but she sacrificed it to feed Elijah. Because of the widow’s faith, God continually replenished the widow’s oil and flour. While Elijah was staying with the widow, her son died. But Elijah prayed to God and the boy was revived. Elijah stayed with the widow and her son for three years.

After three years, the story picks back up with God telling Elijah to go back to speak with Ahab.

 

Reading Guide

Day 1: 1 Kings 18: 1 – 15

Day 2: 1 Kings 18: 16 – 30

Day 3: 1 Kings 18: 31 – 45

God gave Elijah an instruction. Elijah followed the instruction. Then, God gave Elijah his next instruction. Often in our own lives, this is how God works. He asks us to take one step. The step that he asks us to take may seem ridiculous like asking a destitute widow for a bite to eat, but when we have faith and trust that God is leading us in the right direction, he does remarkable things through us.

 

Questions for Discussion

  • Summarize this story in your own words.
  • What do you think that Elijah was thinking when God asked him to do some of those things?
  • Do you feel like God is asking you to take a step to become more like him or to serve him in some way?
  • What are some barriers that keep you from taking that step?
  • What do you think that the end result of that step might be?

 

Action Step

Talk about what step that you think God might want you to take this week and then do it.

Simple Math Bible Study For Parents

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Background

Paul wrote the letter we now call Ephesians while he was imprisoned in Rome (Acts 28). This letter was intended to be a circular letter, not just meant for the church in the city of Ephesus but all of the churches in the surrounding area. Paul sent Tychicus as an emissary to deliver this letter, as well as the letters to Colossae and the slave-owner Philemon. It is likely that Paul sent Tychicus to deliver this letter to the church in Ephesus, which was a port city on the Aegean Sea, on his way to Colossae.

Tychicus most likely also took this letter north to the churches in Smyrna and Pergamum and then back southeast to Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia. These are the same seven churches that John sent the book of Revelation and they formed a circle around the western portion of the Roman province of Asia Minor. Tychichus would have continued on to the churches in Hierapolis, Laodicea, and Colossae (Col. 4:13) to deliver the letter of Colossians.

The primary reason that Paul wrote this letter was to refute an apparent disagreement in the churches that was creating factions and could have easily led to divisions and disfellowship among the believers. The crux of this disagreement was whether Gentiles had access to the inheritance of the nation of Israel bestowed on them through the Jewish Messiah, Jesus. Paul spent a large amount of time pastoring the church in Ephesus. This church was largely made up of Gentiles (people not of Jewish ethnicity). In fact, there were so many Gentiles converts in the city of Ephesus that it was cutting into the business of a man who made silver Artemis statues (Acts 19: 23 – 41).

This church also had some very high profile pastors. Paul started the church along with Priscilla and Aquila, whom he left there while he went to visit other churches. Later, Apollos pastored the church for a while until Paul came back. And after a while, Timothy and the apostle John both pastored this church. Sometime between the time that Paul left Ephesus for the last time (Acts 20) and when Paul was imprisoned in Rome (Acts 28), someone (or multiple someones) influenced the Jewish Christians in Ephesus and the surrounding cities to believe that Gentiles did not have access to the same inheritance through Jesus Christ that they did. And because of this teaching, Gentiles began to believe them. Paul wrote this letter to the Gentile Christians to encourage them that they did have access to Jesus Christ’s saving grace and the same inheritance as children of Abraham as the Jewish Christians.

Even though this letter was written to Christians two thousand years ago, it has valuable information that applies to people today. The first chapter is a beautiful description of the identity of a person who is in Christ. Some of the things that Paul says make up our identity in Christ are that we are blessed, chosen, holy, blameless, adopted into his family, redeemed, and lavished with grace. We are given wisdom, understanding and, best of all, the Holy Spirit. Paul tells those Gentile Christians and also us today that the Holy Spirit given to those, who put their hope in Christ, is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.

This Bible study takes excerpts from Ephesians to help you better understand our sermon series, but a thorough reading of the book is recommended because there are multiple themes running throughout this book including unity, maturity, servanthood, and self-sacrificing love that are beneficial to all Christians in every age.

Day 1 Reading: Eph 2: 1 – 10

            The book of Ephesians lays out the spiritual journey of the believer better than any other. The first section of the second chapter describes in detail the spiritual state of a non-believer. They are spiritually dead because of their sins and they serve the ways of the world. They continuously gratify the desires of their flesh and do virtually everything out of a selfish desire. This is the spiritual state that everyone, who has not experienced the life changing power of Christ, live in. The decisions that they make and the actions that they take are influenced by their flesh and by the world. Not only that, but the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Satan), works through their sinful ways.

However, he goes on to talk about what theologians call regeneration. We were dead, but now we are alive. We are made into a new creation. Our old self, full of selfish and worldly desires, is gone and we are recreated into a new self that desires the things of Christ (2 Cor 5: 16 – 18). We had a heart of stone apathetic toward the plight of anyone other than ourselves, but are given a heart of flesh wrought with compassion for our neighbor (Eze 36:26). Before, we really only did something good if it benefitted us in someway. However, now, God has crafted us into someone who does altruistic good works for the benefit others through self-sacrifice.

Day 2: Eph 4: 17 – 32

In this passage, Paul talks about not living like the rest of the world. The world tells us that we should do everything that we can to make ourselves feel good and to avoid suffering at all costs. The Christian life is about addition and subtraction. First, what do you need to add to your life to be more like Christ? A better way of saying that might be what is the next step that you need to take to become more like Christ? Some of you may have students that have not made the decision to follow Christ and Jesus is what they need to add to their life. This decision is the next step that they need to take. Others may have students that have made that decision and Jesus is calling them to add a dimension to their spiritual growth such as having a quiet time or praying more. For others, the next step is to serve in a ministry at church or in their community. For others, it may be leading one of their friends into a life-changing relationship with Christ.

Second, what do you need to subtract from your life to be more like Christ? For some students, it may be a sin they struggle with that pulls them away from their relationship with Christ. For others, it may be a friend or a group of friends that pulls them away. For others, it may be too many distractions like extra-curriculars or video games or television. These things may not be bad necessarily, but if your student is choosing them over their relationship with Christ, they may need to cut something out.

Day 3: Eph 6: 10 – 20

Here, Paul uses a military uniform as a metaphor for the Christian life. When we do not live the way the world lives, the world will get hostile toward us. But we can take heart that Christ will protect us with his truth and righteousness. When we speak truth and back it up with how we live, some will react with hostility, but to others we will be Christ’s ambassadors. Paul uses this metaphor in 2 Cor 5 as well. But how we live is a direct reflection of Jesus Christ. In other words, people will make a judgment about Jesus based on what we say and how we live.

When we speak truth and back it up by how we live, we will naturally make disciples. First, other people will imitate us, as we imitate Christ (1 Cor 11:1). Imitation will lead to replication and replication will lead to multiplication. After people imitate our discipleship for a while, they will begin to have their own relationship with Christ and become disciples theirselves. One disciple becomes two disciples. Two becomes four. Four becomes eight. Eight…sixteen and so forth. That is multiplication.

Simple Math Series Summary

Sermon Series: Simple Math

February 1/2: Addition

February 8/9: Subtraction

February 15/16: Multiplication

Sometimes when it comes to following Jesus, we can feel a lot like Michael Scott. Someone is trying to explain it to us, but we just aren’t getting it. It seems like some huge complex formula that just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes, the Bible seems like it is a foreign language and the Jesus-following life is so complicated.

This series is about breaking it down to a super simple formula. The Jesus-following life is really just Simple Math.

Sermon Descriptions

Addition: This week we are simply asking, “What do you need to add to your life to be more like Jesus?” God is in the business of transforming messed up sinners into people that are holy and righteous. And in order to become one step closer to reaching that end, he is calling us to take one step closer. What is that one step that God is calling you to take to become more like him?

Subtraction: This week we are asking the opposite question: “What do you need to subtract from your life to be more like Jesus?” In order for us to become more like Jesus, sometimes there are things in our life that need to be cut out. It could be friends that are bad influences, things that we do that God doesn’t approve of, or one of the hundreds of things that we stuff into our day that keep us too busy to have a relationship with Jesus.

Multiplication: When our lives begin to look more and more like Jesus, other people will begin to notice. Those people who want to know what it means to follow Jesus will look at our life and begin to imitate it. When they imitate us, they imitate Jesus. As they imitate Jesus, they become his disciple. This process of replicating disciples leads to the multiplication of disciples.

 

Around the Dinner Table

Throughout this series, we want to help you create opportunities for spiritual conversations with your student. We are providing a Reading Guide for you to go through with your students and a Bible study each week to talk over at the dinner table.

Here is the Reading Guide:

Addition:

Day 1: 1 Kings 18: 1 – 15

Day 2: 1 Kings 18: 16 – 30

Day 3: 1 Kings 18: 31 – 45

Subtraction:

Day 1: 1 Kings 19: 1 – 7

Day 2: 1 Kings 19: 8 – 14

Day 3: 1 Kings 19: 15 – 21

Multiplication

Day 1: 1 Kings 20: 1 – 11

Day 2: 1 Kings 20: 12 – 22

Day 3: 1 Kings 20: 23 – 34

 

Scripture Memorization

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2: 8 – 10

 

This Month’s Challenge:

Plan a Family Day. This could be going to a museum together or just spending time playing a board game. Do something all together as a family.