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Lesson 7: God’s Love

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In our lessons so far, you have learned these truths about your Father God.

  • Sovereignty: God is the sovereign ruler of His creation. He rules it with supreme authority and power.
  • Omnipotence, omnipresence, & omniscience: God’s power is more powerful than anything or anyone else in the entire universe. God’s presence is everywhere at the same time. God knows everything there is to know.
  • Holiness: God is holy. He is set apart from anything that is sinful or evil.
  • Justice: God always does what is morally right and fair.
  • Grace: God’s grace is His undeserved favor abundantly poured out on those who desperately need Him.
  • Goodness: God is good all the time — even in the tough times, in different ways for each person, and in what He allows or doesn’t allow into our lives.

Today, our lesson is about God’s LOVE—love for you and loving others through you.

Attribute #7: Love

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8 NIV)

1. How do you feel about that statement that God’s love is for you?

The Bible clearly declares that God is love. And, God’s love is described as a loyal love.

2. Read Psalm 103:8. What descriptions are associated with God’s love?

The NET Bible says that God “demonstrates great loyal love.” The Message translation uses the phrase “rich in love” to describe God’s love.

3. What comes to mind when you think of God “abounding in love” or “rich in love?”

4. Is that the way you walk around thinking about God?

5. Read 1 John 4:7-12.

  • How did God show His love to us (verse 9)?
  • What is characteristic of people who love God back? Why?

6. Read Romans 5:8. What did God’s love lead Him to do?

7. Read Ephesians 3:17-19.

  • What does Paul pray for believers to be (verse 17)?
  • What does Paul want believers to grasp and know about God’s love (verses 18-19)?

You are dearly loved. God wants you to know this with confidence.

8. Read Romans 8:38-39? What can separate us from God’s love?

9. So, how long will God’s love last for those who trust Christ?

God’s love is perfect. His love never changes. His love doesn’t end. It is so vast that it never runs out. God doesn’t stop loving. And, nothing can ever separate you from God’s love—not even you. Isn’t that good to know?

Although we may feel love as an emotion, love is really a choice. God chose to love us, not because of anything we have done, or will do, but simply as a choice of His grace toward us. And, because God loves us, He wants us to choose to love others as He does. Love is hard to define, but we can look at what God does to see what it looks like when He loves someone. One of the best ways to see that is to look at Jesus’ life.

This is what Jesus told His disciples, “Anyone who has seen me has seen God the Father.” When we read the life of Jesus in the Bible, we see that Jesus is the walking, talking, visible picture of who God is, what He does, and how He loves. How God loves people. Jesus was saying to His followers, “Want to know how to love? Look at me. Stay focused on me.”

Jesus had been with His disciples for 3 years, loving them as He was teaching them how to love others. Jesus gave a new command to His disciples the night before He died.

10. Read John 13:34-35.

  • What is the new command?
  • If we obey this command, what message do we give to those watching our lives?

Jesus loved His followers very much. Because Jesus was God, every time He loved His followers, He showed them that God’s love is patient, kind, forgiving, and considers what is best for the one being loved. To learn how to love God’s way, we need to stay focused on Jesus. Jesus shows us how much God loves us. We can see God’s love clearly when we look at Jesus’ life in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and see how Jesus interacted with people. Let’s look at just one chapter in Jesus’ life to see some examples of God’s love.

11. Read Mark 5:1-43.

  • How did Jesus demonstrate love to the demon-possessed man?
  • How did Jesus demonstrate love to the sick woman?
  • How did Jesus demonstrate love to the parents of the sick girl?
  • How did Jesus demonstrate love to the sick girl?

By faith, you can look to Jesus and watch what He did as He lived each day on earth. To love like Jesus loved, pray for Jesus to share His heart for people with you and to help you love others like He does. God’s love is patient, kind, forgiving and considers what is best for the one being loved. You can stay focused on Jesus so that you can learn how to love others with God’s love.

“Jesus Christ gave His life for you so He could give His life to you so He could live His life through you.” (Ian Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ)

Trusting Your Father God

1) Bible verse to learn:

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8 NIV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Ask your Father God to help you know and believe in your heart how very much God loves you. You are dearly loved. Are you willing to trust His love for you? Ask your Father God to help you learn how to love others as God does. Jesus will share His heart for people with you so you will want to love others as Jesus did.

3) Discover God the Father:

Spend a few minutes each day reading these prayers and reflecting on how each prayer reveals someone’s understanding of and trust in God. Get to know Him well—this One who loves you dearly.

  • Read John chapter 17. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Daniel chapter 9. Reflect on what you read.

Related Topics: Character of God, Women's Articles

Lesson 6: God’s Goodness

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In our lessons so far, you have learned these truths about your Father God.

  • God is the sovereign ruler of His creation. He rules it with supreme authority and power.
  • God’s power is more powerful than anything or anyone else in the entire universe. God’s presence is everywhere at the same time. God knows everything there is to know.
  • God is holy. He is set apart from anything that is sinful or evil.
  • God always does what is morally right and fair.
  • God’s grace is His undeserved favor abundantly poured out on those who desperately need Him.

Today, we will learn about God’s GOODNESS.

Attribute #6: Goodness

“You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.” (Psalm 119:68 NIV)

1. When I say that “you are a good person,” what do you think I’m talking about?

You might think of someone who never does anything wrong, who always does everything right. You might think of someone who is very kind and generous. Well, God is the ultimate one who is good, who “always does everything right and is always kind and generous.” Let’s talk about what that really means.

2. Think about it. Whenever you see movies or read books about Jesus, what color clothing is Jesus usually wearing?

Usually, Jesus is presented as wearing white. Now, He probably didn’t wear white. Men back then wore clothes that were dyed with colors or left a natural looking tan. And, remember they didn’t have washing machines so no one’s clothes would have stayed white for very long!

3. So, why do you think artists or movies almost always present Jesus wearing white clothes?

For one thing, you’ll know which one in the picture is Jesus because we don’t have any photos to know what He looked like. You always know the man in white is Jesus. Perhaps your answer to the above question was that white represents Jesus as being perfect because He never did any of the bad things called sin. That’s a reasonable answer. White would definitely represent His purity.

That white color also represents His goodness. One time when Jesus was on a mountain with Peter, James and John, something happened to His clothes.

4. Read Mark 9:2-8. Describe what happened.

Jesus’ clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could ever bleach them. This was to show His disciples that He really was God. Jesus is the God-man who never sinned. The color white represents His goodness. And, God is good all the time. Remember our lesson on God’s holiness?

That’s an important truth for you to know and trust. “God is good all the time.”

5. Read Psalm 119:68. What does this verse say about God?

The Bible says that everything about God is good—He is good in Himself, and what He does is good. That means God allows nothing to happen to His children—to those who love Him—that is not for their good. God gives to His children only that which is good. God is good all the time, and He is at work in our lives for good.

6. Read Romans 8:28. What is promised about God at work in our lives?

But, you might ask, what about the tough things that happen to us? Someone gets very sick, loses a job, or has to move far away from family and friends. Is God being good then? What must be the answer to that question? YES! Why? Because God is good all the time.

You need to know 3 truths about God’s goodness.

Truth #1: God is good even in the tough times.

Let me ask you some questions. As a child, did your parents or other authority ever make you do something that was hard to do? As an adult, have you ever tasked children or students with things that were hard to do, perhaps very hard, in order for them to learn a new skill? No doubt the answer to both questions is, “Yes, of course!”

Consider the parent/child relationship. Parents demonstrate love for their children even when they won’t let the children buy something they want. Parents are being good to their children when they won’t let them go someplace the children think they have to go or do. Right? Parents are good to their children even when they make them learn how to dress themselves, keep clean, brush their teeth, make their bed, and do their homework. All of those things can seem hard at times, and a child may not want to do them. But, the mom or dad knows that learning to do those things is all part of growing up to be a responsible adult one day.

Well, God also teaches His children through hard things He allows in our lives that help us grow up. Those tough experiences help us learn to trust Him. Tough times help us learn to give up trying to do things our own way—which may not be the best way—and start doing things God’s way—which is always the best way. Anything that draws us closer to God is good for us!

The Bible tells about 2 women named Naomi and Ruth who experienced some very tough times. Naomi is an older woman who had left her home in Bethlehem to travel with her husband and their two sons to a neighboring country called Moab. They did this to find food. The sons married girls from Moab. One of those girls was named Ruth. But, some bad things happened to the family.

7. Read Ruth 1:1-22. Name all the hurtful things Naomi and Ruth experienced.

Naomi’s husband died. Then, Naomi’s sons died. That means Ruth’s husband died. Both women were left alone. Naomi was very sad and decided to go back home to Bethlehem.

When Naomi and Ruth left Moab and moved back to Bethlehem, they had to trust God to provide food every day. That brought them both closer to God.

8. Read Ruth 2:1-20. What did Naomi declare about God in verse 20 in spite of all that she had experienced?

God had not stopped showing His kindness even in the tough times because God is good all the time. So, truth #1 is this: God is good even in the tough times.

Truth #2: God is good in different ways for each person.

God’s goodness may look different in my life than it does in your life. Have you or someone in your family been very sick? Or, have you moved away from home to a place far away? When that happened, you may have felt sad or scared. It’s hard to move, especially from a familiar place to some place new. Yet, because of moving, God’s goodness often gives you a new friend who is so happy to have you living near her. God was good to that person in a different way by moving you and providing a new friend.

Sometimes you can’t feel it or see it. Something looking bad for one person may be just what that person needs to get to know God in a very personal way. Or, it may be just what another person who is watching needs in order to know God in a personal way.

In the Bible story about Naomi and Ruth, Naomi and her family found food in Moab when they needed it. That was good. But, Ruth didn’t need food. She needed God. Her people in Moab didn’t know God. So, God sent Naomi to be a missionary to Ruth in Moab, to tell her about the true God so Ruth could believe in Him. God was being good to Ruth and Naomi in different ways.

9. Are you willing to recognize that God is good to you in a way that is different than how He is good to others?

Truth #2 is this: God is good in different ways for each person.

Truth #3: God is good in what He allows or doesn’t allow into our lives

In the story about Naomi and Ruth, Naomi’s sons both died as young men, but that doesn’t happen to everyone. Not everyone gets sick with cancer or has a car accident. Not every person moves far away from home. Throughout the Bible are many verses stating how God healed someone or protected someone in a dangerous situation. We don’t even know all the dangers God is protecting us from daily! We should thank Him all the time for doing that.

10. Are you ready to trust Him that what He does allow into your life is for your good?

Truth #3 is this: God blocks out more hard things in our lives than He allows to happen to us.

God is good all the time—even in the tough times, in different ways for each person, and in what He allows or doesn’t allow into our lives. Will you remember that?

Trusting Your Father God

1) Bible verse to learn:

“You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.” (Psalm 119:68 NIV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Remember that God is good all the time even in the tough times in life. Thank God for the many tough things He doesn’t allow into your life. As you talk to your Father God, are you willing to trust His goodness in the way He chooses to answer your prayer?

3) Discover God the Father:

Spend a few minutes each day reading these passages/prayers and reflecting on what you learn that reveals someone’s understanding of and trust in God. Get to know Him well—this One who loves you dearly.

  • Read Ruth chapters 3 & 4 to get the rest of the story. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Samuel chapter 1. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Samuel chapter 2. Reflect on what you read.

Related Topics: Character of God, Women's Articles

Lesson 8: God’s Joy

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In our lessons so far, you have learned these truths about your Father God.

  • God is the sovereign ruler of His creation. He rules it with supreme authority and power.
  • God’s power is more powerful than anything or anyone else in the entire universe. God’s presence is everywhere at the same time. God knows everything there is to know.
  • God is holy. He is set apart from anything that is sinful or evil.
  • God’s justice always does what is morally right and fair.
  • God’s grace is His undeserved favor abundantly poured out on those who desperately need Him.
  • God’s goodness is Him being good all the time — even in the tough times, in different ways for each person, and in what He allows or doesn’t allow into our lives.
  • God’s love is patient, kind, forgiving and considers what is best for the one being loved.

Today, our lesson is about God’s JOY.

Attribute #8: Joy

“… The joy of the Lord makes you strong.” (Nehemiah 8:10 NIRV)

1. When you hear the word “joy,” what comes to mind?

Most people define joy as a feeling of happiness when you are smiling and laughing a lot. And, they think that happiness comes from “good happenings.” Good happenings mean everything is going your way, turning out right. You have lots of money and are healthy and are very successful in work or school. Right?

But, what happens if things are not so good? Your family is stressed financially. You may be struggling in work or school. Your relationships are fraying. You or someone close to you is very sick. Can you really have joy then?

In the Bible, joy is a deep inner gladness regardless of circumstances going on around you. That means whether you are rich or poor, sick or healthy, successful or struggling, you can still have a feeling of gladness or pleasure deep down inside. Now, you may not feel like smiling on the outside, but you can still smile on the inside. Have you ever felt that way?

This kind of joy that I am describing is supernatural. It is part of the character of God and comes to us only from a relationship with Him through knowing Jesus Christ.

2. Read 1 Timothy 1:11. How does Paul describe God?

The word “blessed” used here by Paul can also be translated “happy.” So you can read the verse as “glorious good news of the happy God.” The glorious good news is the gospel—how we can trust in Jesus and receive God’s grace and forgiveness for our sins. God is happy, you could say He is joyful, to offer this good news to people. Our God is a joyful God.

In the lesson about God’s grace (Lesson 5), you saw Jesus teaching that our Father God was like the father of the prodigal son when he returned home. Do you remember how that father acted? He was happy to see his son, filled with love, running toward him, hugging and kissing him. He called for a great celebration. That’s joy.

3. Read Luke 15:1-7. Who is rejoicing and when?

4. Read Luke 15:8-10. Who is rejoicing and when?

God has joy whenever anyone comes to Him to have his or her sins forgiven. The Bible describes lots of rejoicing in heaven at that time (verses 7, 10).

The Bible also teaches that God finds great pleasure in His creation. Do you remember what God said about His creation at the end of each of the creation days? He said it was good. After day 6, He said it was very good. God wasn’t only giving His approval but was also revealing His pleasure. The Father God has joy in what His hands have made, especially His creatures. That includes you. You are one of His creatures.

Does that make you want to smile inside to think that God finds pleasure in you?

5. Read Zephaniah 3:17.

  • For God’s people who are trusting in Him, what is revealed about God’s joy?
  • Have you ever thought about God rejoicing over you through singing?

God’s joy finds great pleasure in His creation and His creatures, especially people who trust in Him.

Joy is something that God has. But, it’s also something that God gives. He is the source of joy, just as He is the source of love and grace as we have already studied. Jesus told His disciples they would have great joy coming from Him.

6. Read John 15:11. What does Jesus want for those who trust in Him?

Jesus, who was God, had God’s joy in Him. And, He promised to give His joy to His disciples so that it would be in them, also. Jesus didn’t promise this to just those who knew Him when He was on earth.

7. Read 1 Peter 1:8.

  • What does Peter write to all of us?
  • How does Peter describe the joy God gives to us?

Though you have not seen Him, the moment you believe in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you. And, He gives you God’s glorious, uncontainable joy.

There’s a song you may have sung that says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” That phrase comes from the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament.

8. Read Nehemiah 8:10. What does God’s joy do for us?

9. If God’s joy is the ability to smile on the inside even if things are going wrong on the outside, how could having that make you strong?

I have had a sign on my wall for over 40 years that reads, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” During those miserable, painful times, God’s joy inside of you assures you of His presence with you. Don’t you love that assurance?!

The joy of the Lord is God’s joy. He has it, and when He gives it to His people, it makes them strong. God’s joy in us gives us the courage to face tough times. God’s joy finds great pleasure in His creation and His creatures, especially people who trust in Him. His joy in us makes us strong.

10. Having God’s joy in us, we should delight in the things that God delights in. We can ask ourselves: “what pleases God, what gives Him joy?” How would you answer that?

When you have His joy, then you should take pleasure or delight in those same things. When you have the joy of the Lord, you rejoice in justice. You find pleasure in God and knowing Him, not in personal and selfish pleasures. You also find delight in studying His Word the Bible, in doing what pleases Him, and in praising God.

Some people think that when you are a Christian, you give up anything that gives you pleasure. That is not what the Bible says. It is not wrong for a Christian to have pleasure or to seek pleasure; it is only wrong to seek pleasure in the things that are selfish.

Christians filled with God’s joy should find many reasons to laugh and delight in life. We can serve God with delight. We can praise God and sing worship songs with delight. We can love our families and friends with delight.

And, our joy will be even greater in heaven when we are with Jesus and can have the delight of seeing Him with our own eyes.

Trusting Your Father God

1) Bible verse to learn:

“… The joy of the Lord makes you strong.” (Nehemiah 8:10 NIRV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Praise your Father God for who He is and for being a joyful God. Thank Him for finding pleasure in His creation and in His children, including you. Ask Him to help you find pleasure in knowing Him. Ask your Father God to reveal to you that which brings Him delight (such as love, loyalty, justice, obedience, His Word, and praising Him) so you can delight in that also. Your Father God gives you freedom to enjoy life whether or not everything is going your way

3) Discover God the Father:

Spend a few minutes each day reading these prayers and reflecting on how each prayer reveals someone’s understanding of and trust in God. Get to know Him well—this One who loves you dearly.

  • Read Acts 4:1-37. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Acts 10:1-48. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Acts 11:1-30. Reflect on what you read.

Related Topics: Character of God, Women's Articles

Grace Overflowing: An Overview of Paul’s Letters

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This Bible Study is part of the Graceful Beginnings Series of Bible studies specifically designed for anyone new to the Bible—whether you are a new Christian or you just feel insecure about understanding the Bible. The lessons are basic, introducing you to your God and His way of approaching life in simple terms that can be easily understood.

The Grace Overflowing to Your Life lessons will give you an overview of the thirteen letters of Paul found in the New Testament. These lessons do not cover each letter in detail, but you will learn a simple phrase describing how each letter presents Christ as the answer to specific needs we have and how He meets those needs in our lives as we trust in Him to do it. Grace overflowing to your life.

Related Topics: Women's Articles

Introduction

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The Graceful Beginnings Series of Bible studies are specifically designed for the new-to-the-Bible Christian—whether you are a new Christian or you just feel insecure about understanding the Bible. The lessons are basic, introducing you as an inexperienced Christian to your God and His way of approaching life in simple terms that can be easily understood.

Just as a newborn baby needs to know the love and trustworthiness of her parents, the new Christian needs to know and experience the love and trustworthiness of her God. Graceful Beginnings: New Believers Guide is the first study in the series, laying a good foundation of truth for you to grasp and apply to your life. The other studies in the series can be done in any order.

Some Bible Basics

Throughout these lessons, you will use a Bible to answer questions as you discover treasure about your life with Christ. The Bible is one book containing a collection of 66 books combined together for our benefit. It is divided into two main parts: The Old Testament and the New Testament.

The Old Testament tells the story of the beginning of the world and God’s promises to mankind given through the nation of Israel. It tells how the people of Israel obeyed and disobeyed God over many, many years. All the stories and messages in the Old Testament lead up to Jesus Christ’s coming to the earth.

The New Testament tells the story of Jesus Christ, the early Christians, and God’s promises to all those who believe in Jesus. You can think of the Old Testament as “before Christ” and the New Testament as “after Christ.”

Each book of the Bible is divided into chapters and verses within those chapters to make it easier to study. Bible references include the book name, chapter number and verse number(s). For example, Ephesians 2:8 refers to the New Testament book of Ephesians, the 2nd chapter, and verse 8 within that 2nd chapter. Printed Bibles have a “Table of Contents” in the front to help you locate books by page number. Bible apps also have a contents list by book and chapter.

The Bible verses highlighted at the beginning of each lesson in this study are from the New English Translation ® (NET®) unless otherwise indicated. You can use any version of the Bible to answer the questions, but using a more easy-to-read translation (NET, NIV, NIRV, NLT, ESV) will help you gain confidence in understanding what you are reading. You can find all these translations in Bible apps and online.

This study capitalizes certain pronouns referring to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit—He, Him, His, Himself—just to make the reading of the study information less confusing. Some Bible translations likewise capitalize those pronouns referring to God; others do not. It is simply a matter of preference, not a requirement.

Grace Overflowing

The Grace Overflowing lessons will give you an overview of the thirteen letters of Paul found in the New Testament. Paul was a very well-educated and devout Jew and the author of more of the New Testament than anyone else. Jesus chose him to be an apostle to non-Jews everywhere, to teach the message of God’s grace to them. And, Paul understood God’s grace overflowing to his life so well because he desperately needed it.

In the first letter he wrote to his close friend Timothy, Paul describes how he had experienced God’s grace overflowing to his life.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:12-17 NIV)

The Apostle Paul exclaimed that God’s grace is so abundant that it’s like a vessel overflowing or a stream overflowing a waterfall into a pool below. It covers and fills whatever is around and beneath it. The Apostle Paul looked at his own history, which was filled with horrid behavior, filled with what many would consider unforgivable deeds. You may have thought of your own life in that way.

Yet, God’s chose to extend His grace to Paul and show him mercy. Not just a little bit of grace. Abundant grace. Overflowing grace. Paul didn’t deserve anything but punishment and shame. God’s grace overcame that. God’s grace is His undeserved favor abundantly poured out on those who desperately need Him. It is God giving favor to someone, not because they are good enough to deserve it but because His love chooses to do so. God chooses to have His grace overflowing to every believer from the moment of salvation. And, we continue to receive God’s abundant grace throughout our lives on earth.

You received this grace overflowing to your life the moment you trusted in Jesus Christ. And, God’s grace is overflowing to your life every day because you are in Christ.

Paul’s life was changed from the inside out. He became a beacon of Christ’s life shining through his own life. Christ displayed Himself through Paul’s life because grace overflowed into his life. Paul understood God’s grace so well because he desperately needed it for life.

The New Testament contains 13 of Paul’s letters. Eight of these letters Paul wrote to churches that he had started or had strongly influenced. He wrote five letters specifically to individuals—pastors and church leaders. Through the Grace Overflowing lessons, you will become familiar with the people receiving each letter, the challenges they were facing (similar to our own), and the “grace-overflowing” solutions God gave to them (and to us) through Paul.

In his letters, Paul presents Christ as everything we need for life. Our God wants us to learn to live dependently on His Son as we live out our daily lives. Paul teaches us how to do this through his letters. These lessons do not cover each letter in detail, but you will learn a simple phrase describing how each letter presents Christ as the answer to specific needs we have and how He meets those needs in our lives as we trust in Him to do it.

Trust Him to meet your needs. His grace is overflowing to your life. True joy!

Living Dependently on Christ

At the end of each lesson, we will include three things to help you make a fresh start in the right direction: “Bible verse to learn,” “Response in prayer & praise,” and “Getting to know Him more” readings.

1) Bible verse to learn

To renew your thinking and make part of your life as you journey on this adventure. Memorizing Bible verses is not just something “to do.” You are planting God’s words to you in your mind. The Bible calls it “renewing your mind” with truth about who God is and who you are.

If your Bible is a different translation from the one given in Grace Overflowing, feel free to memorize the verse from your Bible rather than what is given. The point is to begin a habit of memorizing Scripture. You will be surprised at how soon it just flows from your mind.

2) Response in prayer & praise

This will help you begin regular conversation with your God who loves you dearly. You will be encouraged to talk to God about anything and everything. Tell Him what you are thinking and feeling. He is someone you can trust. You will be encouraged to praise God for who He is and what He does. Praise is appreciation of God and giving Him credit for who He is.

3) Getting to know Him more

This includes Bible reading of selected portions of Paul’s letters highlighting what it means to live as a Christian and experience God’s grace overflowing to your life. Spend a few minutes each day reading these wonderful letters and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

What You Will Learn

The thirteen lessons in Grace Overflowing will cover these truths for you to know:

  • Romans: Christ is our righteousness.

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 3:22 (NIV)

  • 1 Corinthians: Christ is the wisdom of God.

“But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:24 NET)

  • 2 Corinthians: Christ is our comforter.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV)

  • Galatians: Christ is our freedom from the law.

“My brothers and sisters, you were chosen to be free. But don't use your freedom as an excuse to live in sin. Instead, serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13 NIRV)

  • Ephesians: Christ is the powerful head of the church.

“God placed all things under Christ's rule. He appointed him to be ruler over everything for the church.” (Ephesians 1:22 NIRV)

  • Philippians: Christ is the supplier of every need.

“And my God will supply your every need according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NET)

  • Colossians: Christ is Lord over everything.

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16 NIV)

  • 1 & 2 Thessalonians: Christ is our returning Lord.

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NIV)

  • 1 Timothy: Christ is our mediator.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus…” (1 Timothy 2:5 NIV)

  • 2 Timothy: Christ is the giver of crowns.

“Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day—and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8 NET)

  • Titus: Christ is our blessed hope.

“That's how we should live as we wait for the blessed hope God has given us. We are waiting for Jesus Christ to appear in all his glory. He is our great God and Savior.” (Titus 2:13 NIRV)

  • Philemon: Christ is the renewer of hearts.

“Renew my heart. We know that Christ is the one who really renews it.” (Philemon 20b NIRV)

Experience God’s grace overflowing to your life every day because you are in Christ, who is the answer to your every spiritual need. With joy, live dependently on Him.

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1. Paul and His Letters

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“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1, 7 NIV)

Christ Is Everything We Need

1. If you want to say hello to a friend who lives far away, what methods would you likely use today?

You probably mentioned texting, Facebook, email, and/or phone call. Those are great ways to instantly communicate to someone you know and love. Fifty years ago, the only ways to talk to someone who lived far away was by phone call using a phone attached to the wall and by writing letters or sending a telegram. But, 150 years before that, letters were the only method you could use, knowing that your friend wouldn’t receive your letter for a week, maybe a month or more. How would you like that?

In the New Testament of our Bible are 13 letters written by a man named Paul. Once you know some of Paul’s story, then you’ll see why he wrote so many letters.

Paul was a real person who lived at the same time as Jesus and for many years afterwards. We have no indication that he had ever met Jesus before the Resurrection. Paul was a very well-educated and devout Jew. At first, he didn’t believe Jesus was the Son of God and fought against Christians, dragging them out of their homes and putting them in prison. Paul made it his mission to get rid of this group of believers in Jesus as the Messiah. The first Christians were known as “those belonging to the Way.” One day, while traveling from Jerusalem to Damascus (in Syria), Jesus confronted him about this misdirected “mission.”

2. Read Acts 9:1-14.

  • What happened to Paul while he was traveling?
  • What did Jesus say to Paul?
  • After that, what did Paul do for the next three days?

Paul believed the vision and changed from being an enemy who hated Jesus into a friend who loved Jesus. Right away, Jesus gave him a specific job to do.

3. Read Acts 9:15. What specific job did Jesus give to Paul? [Note: The Gentiles were all non-Jewish people.]

Several years after Paul trusted in Jesus as His Savior, he moved up to Antioch to pastor the church there with his friend Barnabas. While a group of church leaders was praying, the Holy Spirit told them to send Paul and Barnabas to faraway places to tell people about Jesus. Today, we would call Paul and Barnabas “missionaries.”

Paul made three different “Missionary Journeys” from Antioch to many different cities in the Roman Empire. As a young man, he was known by his Hebrew name “Saul.” But, as he traveled throughout the Roman Empire among non-Jewish people, he most often used his Roman name “Paul.”

In each city that Paul and his co-workers visited, people heard Paul’s message about Jesus and became Christians. They met together and formed a church in that city. Paul loved those people very much and wanted to hear how the young churches were doing. Someone would bring him news about the church members in a particular city then Paul would write them a letter, usually answering some questions they had or teaching them something they needed to know about living as Christians.

The Holy Spirit guided Paul to write those letters and preserved 13 of them for us to have in our Bibles. In fact, Paul authored more of the New Testament writings than anyone else. These letters are a gift to us 2000 years later.

The Journeys

Follow these brief overviews of Paul’s missionary journeys, including some highlights or important diversions.

First journey:

Paul and Barnabas started at Antioch and traveled by boat to Cyprus. A few months later, they traveled by boat then lots of walking to towns in the area of Galatia—Psidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe. Most of these people weren’t Jewish and worshipped other gods before believing in Jesus.

Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch where Paul wrote Galatians, the first letter to a church.

Second journey:

After some time in Antioch, Paul wanted to go back and visit his Galatian friends. He and his new partner Silas walked back to Derbe and Lystra where a teenager named Timothy joined the travelers. Paul wanted to visit other cities in that area, but the Holy Spirit sent him to Troas (along the west coast). At Troas, God gave Paul a dream about a man from Macedonia (northern Greece) saying, “Come over and help us.”

Paul obeyed the vision and sailed with his friends across the sea then walked to Philippi. They spent a few weeks in Philippi and 3 weeks in nearby Thessalonica. Paul went from there to Athens and then to Corinth where he spent two years and wrote First & Second Thessalonians before returning home to Antioch.

Third journey:

Back in Antioch, Paul wanted to go visiting again. He traveled through Galatia then to Ephesus where he stayed for 3 years. Then, he went to Thessalonica, Corinth, and back to Ephesus. Paul wrote First & Second Corinthians and the letter to the Romans during his third missionary journey. Paul ended this journey in Jerusalem to deliver some money that the Greek churches sent to help the poverty-stricken Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and Judea. Paul was arrested in Jerusalem.

First imprisonment:

From Jerusalem, Paul was transferred to Caesarea where he spent two years in confinement. When he appealed to Caesar to hear his case, he was transferred by boat to Rome for another 2 years of house arrest. While in Rome, Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.

Fourth journey time:

After Paul’s release from house arrest in Rome, he traveled with Timothy to Ephesus where he left Timothy to pastor the church there. Paul traveled with Titus to Crete and established churches there, leaving Titus as pastor. While Paul traveled back in the area of Macedonia, he wrote First Timothy and Titus to encourage and instruct the young pastors.

Second imprisonment:

Paul was arrested again and placed in a Roman dungeon where he wrote his last letter, Second Timothy. Paul was executed shortly thereafter (~67 AD).

The Letters

4. Find all thirteen letters in your print or digital Bible’s Table of Contents, beginning with Romans and ending with Philemon.

Years after Paul wrote his letters, these 13 were collected and organized in the New Testament by size and type. The first nine in the list were written to churches (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians). The last 4 letters were written to individual people (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon).

When we write a letter, we usually start it by saying “Dear friend” or Hello there.” At the end, we sign our names. Paul both greets the people and signs his name at the beginning of each letter.

5. In the verses below, look for the words Paul uses to identify himself. Notice the two words—grace and peace—that he uses in each one to greet the recipients.

  • Romans 1:1,7—
  • 1st Corinthians 1:1,3—
  • 2nd Corinthians 1:1-2—
  • Galatians 1:1-3—
  • Ephesians 1:1-2—
  • Philippians 1:1-2—
  • Colossians 1:1-2—
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:1—
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2—
  • 1 Timothy 1:1-2—
  • 2 Timothy 1:1-2—
  • Titus 1:1,4—
  • Philemon 1-3—

Paul identifies himself in several ways—as an apostle, a messenger sent by God, and a bondservant of Jesus Christ. In each of Paul’s greetings, you read the same two words: grace and peace.

Grace means “undeserved favor.” The Gentiles wished each other favor with the gods they worshiped so grace was a familiar word for them. Paul taught that Jesus’ death on the cross is God’s grace gift (His favor) who takes away our sin (wrong things we think and do). God gives us His grace every day so we have strength to live to please Him. Praise God for His grace overflowing to you!

The Jews wished each other “peace” (shalom). So peace was a familiar word for them. Paul taught that Jesus gives us peace with God by making us God’s friends because our sins are forgiven. Nothing can ever take our relationship with God away from us. This helps us to feel peaceful and blessed by God instead of worried about the eternal future. Praise God for His peace given to you!

Paul used both words in each letter to reach out to both the Jewish and Gentile Christians in the churches and to bring the two groups together in their common faith.

We have the same kinds of problems in our lives today as they did back then, and Christ is still the answer to our problems as well!

Through these lessons, you will become familiar with the people receiving each letter, the challenges they were facing (needs similar to your own), and the biblical solutions God gave to them (and us) through Paul.

Paul presents Jesus Christ as the answer to their need. We’ll see that we have the same kinds of problems in our lives today and that Christ is still the answer to our problems as well through His overflowing grace.

With each letter, you will learn a phrase describing how Christ is presented in that letter as the answer to a particular need.

6. Read Philippians 1:21. What does Paul declare about his life?

“To live is Christ” is how Paul described his own life. Jesus, God’s son who gave his life on the cross for our sins, is also known as Christ. Christ is the title for the one God promised to come and save the world.

He is both savior and king of planet Earth. In many places in the New Testament, He is also called the Lord Jesus Christ.

7. Read 1 Timothy 1:12-16. Rewrite verses 13-14, inserting your name and what characteristics defined your life before Christ.

8. Why did God show mercy to Paul and to you?

Paul’s life was changed from the inside out. He became a beacon of Christ’s life shining through his own life. Christ displayed Himself through Paul’s life because grace overflowed into his life. Paul understood God’s grace so well because he desperately needed it for life. He firmly believed this truth: Christ is everything we need for life.

Christ is everything you need for life. He is the answer to your specific needs and meets these needs in your life as you trust in Him to do it. Your life will also be changed from the inside out.

Christ’s life will shine through your life as you learn to live dependently on Him and His grace overflowing to your life.

Living Dependently on Christ

1) Bible verse to learn:

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1, 7)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

What are your biggest challenges in life? Ask Jesus to show you through these lessons how He is the answer to each one of those needs.

3) Getting to know Him more:

Spend a few minutes each day reading these passages and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy. This week you will be reading Acts chapters 9-15 to get a historical perspective on Paul’s life and writings.

  • Read Acts chapter 9. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Acts chapter 10. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Acts chapter 11. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Acts chapter 12. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Acts chapter 13. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Acts chapter 14. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Acts chapter 15. Reflect on what you read.

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2. The Letter to the Romans

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“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:22 NIV)

The Key Question

While growing up, were you better at playing a sport than your brother or sister was? Or, were you better at making good grades in school or more talented than a sibling? Did that make your parents love you more than them? If you were not as good at sports or grades, did they love you less? Hopefully, your answer is “no.” Good parents who truly love their children do so equally regardless of one’s ability or achievement. And, they take into account what each child needs and how their differences are expressed. Good parents can give equal love to their children while allowing them to do different things.

The key word for our lesson today is equal. The question to ask is: “How are we equal?” Some of Paul’s friends needed to know how they could be equal to other people in God’s eyes while still being different.

The People and Their Need

Today’s letter was written to a group of believers living in Rome, the largest city in the Roman Empire. The Romans were hardworking, highly organized people who built towns and roads throughout the Roman Empire. They were proud of their accomplishments, and Rome was the center of their world.

We do not know who started the church at Rome. After Jesus’ resurrection, Roman Jews visiting Jerusalem for Passover heard Peter preach the gospel in Acts 2:10 (“some visitors from Rome”) and believed. They may have gone back to Rome, shared the gospel with their friends, and started a church of Romans who believed. About 15 years later, Emperor Claudius got mad at the Jews and kicked them out of Rome. For their own safety, Christian Jews left town. At that time, Christianity was still considered part of the Jewish religion. That left mostly Gentiles (non-Jews) in the Roman church. They got used to not having the Jewish Christians around and might have even felt relieved not to have them.

The Jewish Christians had a tendency to think they were more righteous (better at worshipping God) than the Gentiles because the Bible was written by Jews and for Jews. Jesus was a Jew, and God had called the Jews His chosen people. After 5 years, it was safe for the Jews to come back to Rome. Suddenly, in the Roman church there were Jewish Christians again who still thought they were better than those who stayed behind. It was not a healthy situation.

While in Corinth on his 3rd missionary journey, Paul heard what was going on with the Roman church. Though Paul was a Roman citizen, he had not yet been to Rome. He did, however, know quite a few of the Roman Christians and was planning to visit them. The two groups needed to get along. So, he wrote a letter. We have that letter called “Romans.” It is a gift from God to us.

In his letter, Paul reminded both groups of Christians—those who had once been Jews and those from non-Jewish backgrounds—that they were equal before God. Neither was better than the other. Both had been equally guilty of sin.

By faith in Christ, both had been made equally right with God. Even today, Christ makes us all—from different countries and traditions—equally right and acceptable to God by our faith in Christ. Let’s find out what that means.

The Answer: Christ Is Our Righteousness

In Romans chapters 1, 2 and the first part of three, Paul writes that every person who has ever lived has sinned (done wrong things that displease God). Only Jesus never sinned.

1. Read Romans 3:9-12. Who is right with God (righteous) on their own or does anything good in God’s eyes on their own?

The phrase “to be right with God” means the same as the word “righteous.” When you are right with God or “righteous,” you are not separated from Him because of your sin. No one is right with God (righteous) or does anything good in God’s eyes on her own. That includes Jews as well as non-Jews.

2. Read Romans 3:19-20. “The Law” refers to the rules the Jewish people followed to please God.

  • Will following all the Jewish rules make anyone right with God?
  • Trying to follow rules makes us aware of what?

3. Read Romans 3:21-24 then read each verse one at a time and note what it says:

  • Verse 21—
  • Verse 22—
  • Verse 23—
  • Verse 24—

Jesus Christ, who is completely righteous because He never sinned, died for our sin on the cross. When we believe, He takes our sin away and gives us His righteousness. This makes us acceptable to God. “Justify/justified” means to be declared not guilty of sin. This works equally for every person. In Romans, Christ is our righteousness as described in Romans 3:22.

4. How do we get right with God—by following rules or by faith in Christ?

5. How do we get right with God—by our own traditions & way of doing things or by faith in Christ?

Christ is our righteousness. That’s how everyone’s Christian life begins.

6. So, if you put your trust in Christ to take away your sin, are you more or less right with God than…

  • Someone from China who is the top athlete in the world and is also a Christian?
  • Someone from Iraq who once worshiped the Muslim god but now worships Jesus?
  • Someone from central Africa who once worshiped the sun and moon?
  • Someone in professional ministry like Beth Moore, Jennie Allen, or Ann Voscamp?

The answer to the above questions is “neither.” Every believer is equally right with God and has equal righteousness from God. There is no distinction.

7. Are you confident that you can trust Him and His love for you to be equal to His love for the most famous Christian you know?

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, Christ is our righteousness. Once you are made right with God by faith in Christ, you receive Christ’s righteousness so that when God looks on you, He sees Christ in you. This is God’s grace-gift overflowing to you.

God loves all believers equally—regardless of your looks, your career, your family, or your talents. His love for you is perfect.

Living Dependently on Christ

1) Bible verse to learn:

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:22 NIV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Thank God for His free gift of Jesus. Thank God for sending His Holy Spirit to live in you to help you live a life that pleases your God. Thank Jesus for being your righteousness, making you right with God by faith so that you are loved equally by your God.

3) Getting to know Him more:

Spend a few minutes each day reading parts of this wonderful letter and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

  • Read Romans chapter 8. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Romans chapter 12. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Romans chapter 13. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Romans chapter 14. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Romans chapter 15. Reflect on what you read.

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3. The First Corinthians Letter

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Lesson 1 covered Romans. In Romans, you learned that Christ is our righteousness. Every believer is equally right with God and has equal righteousness from God. In this lesson, we will cover Christ as the wisdom of God as portrayed in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

“But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:24 NET)

The Key Question

Are people only considered smart if they did very well in school making top grades, or can they be considered smart in other ways? Do you know some really smart people who make bad decisions about how to behave, how to choose friends, or how to treat other people? When we learn information from books, we gain knowledge about the world around us.

When we take knowledge we have learned and make good decisions about how to use that in our lives, we gain what is called wisdom. Wisdom is applying what you know to make good decisions for your life.

The key word for our lesson today is wisdom. The question to ask is, “Where do we get wisdom?” Some of Paul’s friends needed to know the answer to that question.

The People and Their Need

On his second missionary journey, Paul spent a lot of time in Corinth, a big city in southern Greece. At least 500,000 Corinthians lived there. Many of them were very wealthy and thought they were smart because their businesses prospered so much. The Corinthians were Greeks who thought their Greek writings and philosophy were the best in the world—the wisest stuff. They loved listening to traveling teachers and great thinkers so they could learn the latest ideas. They thought that their great education could save them. Oh, they could talk Greek philosophy that made them sound very smart. But, they weren’t very smart in how they behaved. The Corinthians worshiped idols and were an immoral people, doing some very bad things and not caring who got hurt in the process.

Paul spent about 18 months teaching in Corinth, but not discussing philosophy like the other traveling teachers. Paul taught them that believing God’s plan for Jesus to die on the cross and to be raised to life again was true wisdom and the way to be saved. Many Corinthians believed and started a church there.

1. Read Acts 18:1-17. Describe some of Paul’s experiences in Corinth.

A couple of years later while Paul was in Ephesus on his third missionary journey, he learned that the Corinthians were having some problems living as God’s people. They were fighting with each other and were bragging about how much knowledge they had. They were just not behaving as they should. So, Paul wrote them a letter, discussing the truth about wisdom.

We have that letter called First Corinthians. It is a gift of God to us. Paul reminded them (and us) that God’s wisdom was better than human education, and Christ is the wisdom of God. Look to Him to find out how to live the best kind of life. Let’s see what Paul said.

The Answer: Christ Is the Wisdom of God

2. Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

  • What was the focus of Paul’s preaching to the Corinthians? [Note: “fear and trembling” was a common phrase describing humility.]
  • What reason did he give for not using the cleverest words to influence them (verse 5)?

In our world, we can be impressed with our own ideas. The Greeks were also impressed with their own ideas. But, God wisely planned that the world would not know Him through its own ideas or its own wisdom (Romans 1:20). It’s not education that separates someone from God. Sin separates humans from a holy God. We needed something to take away our sin problem so we could have a relationship with God. God’s plan was that His Son Jesus would die for our sins, rise again from the dead, and through faith in Him we would have forgiveness & a relationship with God. Christ is the wisdom of God. Paul stressed this in chapter 1.

3. Read 1 Corinthians 1:24-25.

  • What is wiser than human wisdom?
  • What is stronger than human strength?

Paul was referring to Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Greeks thought that a savior letting himself get killed was a foolish idea and a sign of weakness. Paul wrote a whole chapter (chapter 15) describing how the resurrection of Jesus from the dead was true and absolutely necessary for our faith.

Paul told the Corinthians that God’s plan was wiser and stronger than anything they could get from their own learning. Their learning could not make their sin go away. They needed to trust in Jesus who died for their sins and then became alive again by the power of God. In 1 Corinthians, Christ is the wisdom of God.

4. Read 1 Corinthians 1:26. Of what does Paul remind the Corinthians about themselves and their own situation in life?

5. Read 1 Corinthians 1:30-31. What makes us right with God—our faith in Jesus or how smart we are?

Later in his letter (8:1), Paul tells the Corinthians that knowledge can make people proud. Someone who has had a lot of education, who has advanced in her career, or who is very talented can tend to brag about herself.

6. What should we brag about if we must brag (verse 31)?

7. Read 1 Corinthians 1:30 again. What does Christ do for us?

Holiness means set apart from sin. Redemption means we are longer under the power of sin. Christ gives us everything we need to live our lives the way that God desires for us. We learn the wisdom of God in the Bible. With this knowledge, we must choose to want God’s wisdom and to apply it to our lives.

Remember that our definition of true wisdom is “applying what you know to make good decisions for your life.”

True wisdom means taking knowledge we have learned from Christ in the Bible about how to be holy and making good decisions about how to use that in our lives, while trusting in Christ’s power to help us do it.

Let’s see how this works in one area of our lives—choosing people to follow as friends or leaders.

8. Read 1 Corinthians 15:33. What advice is Paul giving?

Hanging out with the wrong people can lead to being influenced to sin by them. The Corinthians had a tendency to follow the wrong kind of leaders.

9. Who are the people with the most influence on you?

10. Considering each one who has influence on you…

  • Are they being led by Christ’s wisdom given to us in the Bible or by the world’s ideas of what is right?
  • Do they mostly brag about Christ’s work in their lives or themselves and their own effort?

Christ is the wisdom of God, greater than your human wisdom or strength. He will give you the wisdom to make good choices of friends who will not influence you to sin.

11. Do you have confidence in Christ as the wisdom and power of God?

Living Dependently on Christ

1) Bible verse to learn:

“But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:24 NET)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Thank God for His wisdom and plan to send Jesus to meet your need for wisdom in your life. Desire to please God with your life and choice of friends or influencers to follow. Ask Jesus to help you do this.

3) Getting to know Him more:

Spend a few minutes each day reading parts of this wonderful letter and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

  • Read 1 Corinthians 1. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Corinthians 2. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Corinthians 12. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Corinthians 13. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 1 Corinthians 15. Reflect on what you read.

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4. The Second Corinthians Letter

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In Lessons One and Two, we learned about Christ from Romans and 1 Corinthians.

  • In Romans, Christ is our righteousness. Every believer is equally right with God and has equal righteousness from God.
  • In 1 Corinthians: Christ is the wisdom of God, greater than any human wisdom or strength.

In this lesson, we will see Christ as our comforter.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV)

The Key Question

What makes you sad? When you are hurting deep inside or having a tough time, what helps you to feel better? Do you feel loved when someone gives you a hug while you are sad? What gives you comfort when you need it the most?

As you might guess, the key word for our lesson today is comfort. The question to ask is: “How does Christ give us comfort?” Some of Paul’s friends in Corinth needed to understand why God allows hurtful things in the lives of those He loves and how He gives comfort to ease the hurt.

The People and Their Need

On his second missionary journey, Paul spent a lot of time in the big city of Corinth in southern Greece, not far from Athens. From the last lesson, you learned that Greek people were especially interested in listening to traveling teachers so they could learn the latest ideas. As Greeks, the Corinthians loved getting knowledge and discussing ideas. But, they worshiped idols and were a very immoral people, doing some very bad things and not caring who got hurt in the process.

Paul spent a year and a half teaching about Jesus’ death and resurrection in Corinth. Quite a few Corinthians believed, and a church was formed.

A couple of years after Paul left Corinth, he heard about some misbehavior in the church there and wrote a letter to them during his third missionary journey to encourage them to do a better job of loving one another.

After Paul wrote that letter called First Corinthians (Lesson 3), some bad teachers crept into the church giving the Corinthians very wrong ideas about Jesus and even tried to turn the people against Paul. They said that God must not really be with Paul because Paul was going through some troubles such as getting beaten and thrown in jail. They said that God would never let hurtful things happen to someone He truly loved and who was living the right way.

Paul knew better. So, while he was in Macedonia, he wrote this letter we call Second Corinthians to the people living not only in the city of Corinth but also in the whole surrounding area of Achaia. It is a gift from God to us. In it, Paul says to them and to us that Christians who are loved by God will suffer some troubles in this world, but Christ is our comforter when we hurt.

The Answer: Christ Is Our Comforter

1. Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.

  • What does God do for us when we have trouble and why?
  • What does it mean to comfort someone or be a comforter for someone?

In 2 Corinthians, Christ is our comforter. We share in the comfort Christ gives us when we need it (verse 5). And verse 4 says that Christ comforts us in ALL our troubles. That includes those we cause because of wrong choices we make and those that just seem to happen to us. It also includes those that result from our living out our faith. Paul had experienced the comfort of Christ many times. Let’s see what he shares with the Corinthians.

2. Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-10.

  • What do you learn about the troubles Paul and his companions experienced?
  • What did Paul say is the purpose for God letting us go through hurtful times (verse 9)?

God wants us to learn to not depend on ourselves but to depend on God and His great power, which raised Jesus from the dead. He wants us to put our hope in Him and count on His work to deliver us when we are in the midst of troubles.

3. Read 2 Corinthians 1:11.

  • What can you do to help someone who is having trouble?
  • Why will many people give thanks?

4. Read 2 Corinthians 6:4-7. What good things did Paul learn through his troubles?

  • Good character displayed—
  • Difficulties experienced—

5. Who gives us the power to stand firm, to keep doing right, and to continue serving God?

That’s a key. None of us can endure troubles without depending on the Spirit’s power inside of us to help us get through it without wanting to do the wrong things. Or, even wanting to just quit. It’s God’s power in us that makes us strong during those times.

6. Read 2 Corinthians 12:8-10.

  • Three times, Paul asked for one of his troubles to be taken away. What was God’s answer to this man whom God loved dearly?
  • What was Paul’s response to God’s decision?
  • Explain what you think that means and how that might have brought comfort to Paul.

Let’s go back to our discussion at the beginning.

7. Is there anything in your life right now that is very tough, sad, or otherwise painful?

8. Do you believe that God loves you even though He allows you to go through that pain?

Remember that the best and most loving parents still must let their children hurt sometimes (cutting teeth, riding a bike, gaining and losing friends) in order for them to live as adults. God, who loves you even more than the best parents could every day, wants you to learn how to live as His child, depending on Him for the comfort and strength that flows from God’s grace for you.

Human parents raise their children to be less dependent on them and more independent. God raises His children to be less independent and more dependent on Him.

9. Do you want to do like Paul and depend on God’s power to help you do the right thing?

10. Will you let Christ be your comforter as you endure pain and suffering?

11. Read John 16:33. What does Jesus say that His followers will all experience?

Christians who are loved by God will suffer some troubles in this world, but Christ is our comforter when we hurt.

Consider those areas of your life where you are needing Christ’s comfort right now. Often God uses our Christian brothers and sisters to share Christ’s comfort with us.

12. With whom have you shared your pain? Have you allowed them to pray for you? To assist you? To give you comfort?

Living Dependently on Christ

1) Bible verse to learn:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Turn to Christ for comfort in your pain. Trust in the Holy Spirit’s power in you to give you strength to do what is right in the midst of your troubles. Thank God for His faithfulness and kindness to work in your life.

3) Getting to know Him more:

Spend a few minutes each day reading this wonderful letter and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

  • Read 2 Corinthians chapter 4. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 2 Corinthians chapter 5. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 2 Corinthians chapter 6. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 2 Corinthians chapter 11. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read 2 Corinthians chapter 12. Reflect on what you read.

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5. The Letter to the Galatians

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So far, we have learned about Christ from Romans, 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. Remember these truths about who Jesus Christ is and what He does for you.

  • In Romans, Christ is our righteousness. Every believer is equally right with God and has equal righteousness from God.
  • In 1 Corinthians: Christ is the wisdom of God, greater than any human wisdom or strength.
  • In 2 Corinthians: Christ is our comforter when we hurt.

In this lesson, we will look at Galatians.

“My brothers and sisters, you were chosen to be free. But don't use your freedom as an excuse to live in sin. Instead, serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13 NIRV)

The Key Question

Have you ever taken an art class or even thought about taking an art class? Let’s say you have an art teacher who says art begins with a blank sheet of paper and lots of different colors. Then, you can paint whatever your heart desires on the paper. That art teacher moves away. You get a new art teacher who says art should be done on a paper with a big square on it. Men can have 3 paint colors, and women can only have 2 colors. And, you have to keep whatever you paint inside the lines of the square. Would you like that? Which type of painting gives you more freedom and is more enjoyable?

The key word for our lesson today is freedom. The question to ask is, “Freedom to do what?” Some of Paul’s friends needed to know the answer to that question.

The People and Their Need

On his first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas visited four towns in an area called Galatia. It is in the center of modern Turkey. The people who lived there were called Galatians and were mostly Greeks and Romans who didn’t know God. Some Jews lived there as well. Whenever Paul visited a town, he’d go to the local synagogue, which was a small church building. Jews met there to worship God every Saturday like we do at churches in our towns. Greeks and Romans who wanted to worship God joined them there. As a traveling teacher, Paul was invited to speak to everyone at the synagogue meeting. So, he gave them the good news about Jesus.

In each town, a few Jews believed Paul’s message about Jesus, but it was mostly the Greeks and Romans who listened to Paul and trusted in Jesus to take away their sins. The new Christians started meeting together with Paul who taught them about Jesus and their new freedom to love and serve God because their sins were totally forgiven. This made the Jewish synagogue leaders jealous because the Greeks and Romans were becoming Christians instead of becoming Jews! So the Jewish leaders chased Paul out of every town. In one town, they tried to kill him by throwing large rocks at him. He was badly hurt, but thankfully he didn’t die. Bravely, Paul went back to each town, appointing leaders for the new churches. Then, he and Barnabas headed back to Antioch to report back to the church there and praise God together.

Back in Antioch, Paul heard that another teacher had gone to those Galatian towns and told the new Christians that God’s gift of Jesus was not enough to get rid of sin! The bad teacher said they also had to follow “the Law” of Moses in addition to believing in Jesus. Only by following the Law every day could anyone be truly forgiven by God for their sin. For example, you had to eat Jewish food. No ham or shrimp. You had to wash your dishes by the rules. Following that Law is like having to paint inside the square instead of all over the page. The people had become confused. So, Paul wrote them a letter and explained to them the freedom they had in Christ and how not to give up on it.

We have that letter called Galatians. It is a gift from God to us. Paul says to them and to us that in Christ, there is freedom. What kind of freedom? Let’s find out.

The Answer: Christ Is Our Freedom from the Law

1. Read Galatians 2:16. How do we become right with God and have our sins forgiven—by following a lot of special rules or by faith in Jesus only?

During the time of Moses (as described in the Old Testament books of Exodus and Leviticus), God gave the Jewish people many laws for their nation. These laws fit into three categories—religious (mostly for having sins forgiven), civil (how to run the government), and moral (how people should treat one another).

God gave those laws so people would realize how sinful we all are and that we all needed God’s mercy and help because no one could ever follow all of them all of the time. On God’s “test,” anything less than 100% is failing, and only Jesus has ever gotten 100!

God’s laws also taught His people what holiness is and how they could live their lives God’s way, just like the way a parent or guardian trains a child to become a responsible adult. The Law was just in charge until Christ came, but we are no longer under its control.

“So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.” (Galatians 3:24-25)

2. Suppose someone said to you, “You know, in order for you to have all your sins forgiven, you must attend church every week” or “In order to have all your sins forgiven, you have to take communion every week.” How would you answer?

Neither of those activities are bad for you. The point Paul was trying to make to the Galatians. If you’ve already been given eternal life there’s nothing more you need to do, no other rules you must follow just to be saved or to stay saved. And, Paul even says it is “foolish” to believe anything else!

3. Should you obey others if they tell you to do something that is different from what the Bible says?

In Galatians, Christ is our freedom from the law, freedom from having to follow extra rules just to maintain our salvation.

4. Read Galatians 5:1. What words did Paul use to describe what the bad teachers had done to the Galatians?

A yoke of slavery refers to chains and bondage. Paul told the Galatian Christians (5:1) that the bad teachers had put chains on them to make them slaves to the Jewish Law. Broken chains would make a good symbol for this freedom that Christ gives all believers.

5. When the Galatians got this letter, do you think they felt like those chains were now broken so they could be free again?

6. Read Galatians 5:13-15. Christ is our freedom from the law. Freedom is the key word.

  • What does verse 13 tell us about our freedom?
  • In verses 14-15, what should govern our freedom?

Thinking about artwork again. Even if you are given a blank piece of paper and lots of paint colors, you are still not free to do some things. You aren’t free to paint the floor or someone else’s paper. Those things would affect someone else negatively. In the same way, we are not free to do anything we want with our lives.

God still wants us to love one another, not kill anyone, not lie, not steal, not cheat, and not be hateful. Those rules about how to live are still good for us to follow.

7. Read Galatians 3:14. Once we are made right with God who comes to live inside us?

8. Read Galatians 5:16-21. What freedom does the Spirit give to us?

The term "flesh" (or "sinful nature") refers to that portion of ourselves through which sin assaults us. We don’t know what it is, but we know how it works—sending messages to the mind that are in conflict with the Spirit. The flesh does not improve or change its nature over time as long as we are in our bodies. At the moment of salvation, we are born again of the Spirit. Our bodies are not born again, and our souls (mind, emotions, and will) are not instantly transformed. While the flesh doesn’t improve, our choices can change over time as we learn to live by the Spirit.

There is a story about a little boy who was standing in his chair. His mother told him to sit down. The little boy sat down, but he told his mother that while he was sitting on the outside he was still standing up on the inside. Have you ever felt that way when someone made you do something you didn’t want to do, even if it was something good?

9. Do you think God wants you to be loving and kind to someone because you have to or because you want to do so?

God is more interested in your heart behavior. He wants you to choose to do the right things because your heart wants to do so, especially to love one another.

10. When is it hard to love someone or be kind to someone?

11. Who gives us the power to love someone or be kind to someone when it is hard?

The Holy Spirit works from the inside out. He gives us love that comes from our hearts not just because we are told to do so.

We can ask God’s Holy Spirit to help us love others, especially when it is hard. The Bible calls that bearing fruit. Let’s see what Paul says a person with the Holy Spirit living inside should be like—the kind of spiritual fruit you will bear.

12. Read Galatians 5:22-23. What kinds of “fruit” does the Holy Spirit produce?

These are not the only fruit the Holy Spirit produces. But, this fruit in our lives makes our lives more like Jesus’ life. Christ is our freedom from the law to have our sins forgiven. In Christ, we have freedom to love others and bear spiritual fruit from our hearts.

In Galatians, Christ is our freedom from the law of works to earn God’s acceptance. Salvation is based on faith in Christ alone not by works. Paul’s emphasis on freedom expressed in this letter fueled the Protestant Reformation, which helped to bring God’s grace and a love for God’s Word to millions around the world.

Living Dependently on Christ

1) Bible verse to learn:

“My brothers and sisters, you were chosen to be free. But don't use your freedom as an excuse to live in sin. Instead, serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13 NIRV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

What is your heart response to this gift of freedom God has given to you in Christ? Thank God for the gift of His Holy Spirit to lead your heart to do the right things. Ask Jesus to help you be more intentional to love someone or be kind to someone this week when it is hard to do so.

3) Getting to know Him more:

Spend a few minutes each day reading this wonderful letter and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

  • Read Galatians chapter 1. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Galatians chapter 2. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Galatians chapter 3. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Galatians chapter 4. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Galatians chapter 5. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Galatians chapter 6. Reflect on what you read.

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