Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Friday, October 04, 2013

28 Stories - Study 4: The Heart of the Law


Fundamental: The Law of God


Bible Story
Jesus lifted a piece of bread to his mouth as he laughed at Bartholomew’s joke. “Yes, Bart,” Jesus said, “Martha’s food has many stories to tell.”
“If it lasts long enough!” Peter said as he stuffed two pieces into his mouth at once, one with each hand. The group of disciples laughed uproariously.
“Where’s the main course?” John quipped, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone!”
Martha spoke up from the kitchen, “Well John, You’re too young to be called a man—you can’t even grow a beard! So you can live on bread alone, boy!”
Guffaws, giggles and snorts of merriment swept around the room.
“Oh, Johnny boy, she got you!” Bart said.
John shook his head, smiling. What comeback could there be to such a well-timed quip? The room quieted as the men enjoyed the bread and water.
“Jesus,” John said after washing down another piece of bread, “Why are people always trying to catch you out? I mean, it’s one thing to have humorous stabs at each other in good fun. But, it seems you get attacked from every angle by people who don’t even know you.”
“People mock what they don’t understand,” Jesus replied.
“Like today,” John continued, “That law expert came out of his dungeon of scrolls and thought he was going to nail you to the wall with his question.”
“Ah yes,” Jesus answered, “He already knew the answer. They often do. It’s the unfaced questions of the heart which really need asking.”
“That’s why you like to answer with stories, isn’t it?” Bart interjected.
Jesus nodded but Peter answered, “That story today—about the Samaritan who outdid the Jewish leaders—you really sent that scholar running back to the safety of his books!”
Everyone laughed again. “It’s true!” Bart shouted over the din, “Jesus’ stories and questions put his critics on unsure footing! They either stumble away thunderstruck or just fade back into the crowd.”
“And hopefully they have been challenged to look at their hearts,” Jesus said seriously.
The disciples focused on their Master. They had learned to recognize a teaching moment as it approached.
“They all want to minimize their effort and maximize their results,” Jesus said. “And they are wise to do so. Life’s purpose can only be achieved if we remove that which hinders and focus on that which draws the Kingdom of God closer.”
Silence filled the room as the disciples chewed on this spiritual wisdom. Finally John spoke, “You told the expert in the Law to be like the Samaritan. Is that the one thing we all must do?”
“Love your neighbor,” Jesus said. “Yes, love wastefully. Sacrifice whatever it is that stands between you and your ability to help without hesitation.”
Bart said, “Is that why, last week, you challenged that rich kid to sell all his stuff, and give the money to the poor?”
“Yes,” Jesus said. “Imagine the lives he could bless by giving generously!”
We’ve left everything behind to follow you,” Peter said. “What reward is waiting for us in the Kingdom?”
“Peter, you can have a throne,” Jesus said with a laugh, “You all can.” He lifted a mug of water, toasting the roomful of disciples, “Thrones all round.”
The disciples laughed and cheered rowdily.
“But, that’s not the point,” John said thoughtfully, “Is it?”
Jesus’ was sipping from his cup. He raised His eyebrows in agreement. The room stilled, awaiting his response.
“What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?”


My Reflection
Imagine you were a disciple sitting in the room that day. How would you have responded to Jesus’ question?

How does Jesus’ teaching about the law challenge you?


My Story
Reflect on a time in your life when someone has loved you wastefully.

Consider a time when you had the opportunity to give generously to someone. Tell that story. What feelings went through you at each point in the encounter?


My Assurance
God longs to love you wastefully. He wants other people to know you are His. What promises do these verses make regarding God’s plan for those who choose to follow Him and His law?

Deuteronomy 28:9 ~ “If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do. Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord, and they will stand in awe of you.

Hebrews 8:8-10 ~ But when God found fault with the people, he said:
“The day is coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. They did not remain faithful to my covenant, so I turned my back on them,” says the Lord.
“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”


My Commitment
God loves you and invites you to live deeply embedded in His love. How do these verses challenge you? What do they invite you to do?

Psalm 48:8 ~ I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.

John 15:7-10 ~ But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

1 John 5:3 ~ Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.


My Outlook
God has a purpose for His Law in our hearts and our lives. What do these verses tell you about the interplay God expects between His law and His people? How does this cause you to see the world, the church and your place in both?

Matthew 5:17-19 ~ “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Ephesians 2:8-10 ~ God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.


My Response
The following statement is the 19th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?


The Law of God
The great principles of God’s law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ. They express God’s love, will, and purposes concerning human conduct and relationships and are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God’s covenant with His people and the standard in God’s judgment. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit they point out sin and awaken a sense of need for a Savior. Salvation is all of grace and not of works, but its fruitage is obedience to the Commandments. This obedience develops Christian character and results in a sense of well-being. It is an evidence of our love for the Lord and our concern for our fellow men. The obedience of faith demonstrates the power of Christ to transform lives, and therefore strengthens Christian witness.

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Bible Story
The story at the beginning of this lesson is based on Luke 10:25-42.