Category Archives: Bible Study

April Devotional

May 2019 – The Price of Pride

Read Together:  He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.  The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.  Proverbs 15:32-33

The story is told of a frog who wanted to travel over the top of a tall mountain from a pond he’d grown up in and learned to hate to be a beautiful lake on the other side of the peak.  One day as the frog watched an eagle soar high above the clouds; the frog had a brilliant idea.  “If I could just get that eagle to hold a piece of string in his talons, I can hold the other end of the string in my mouth.  He could fly me to the other side.”  The eagle agreed to the frog’s plan.  Away they went, hundreds of feet above the Rocky Mountain slopes, soaring to the other side where the big, sparkling lake lay just a few hundred yards away.  As the frog hung on to the string by his teeth for the last minute of his ride, he heard someone below exclaim, “Wow, look at that.  What a great idea!  I wonder who thought of that.” 

The prideful frog couldn’t resist the opportunity to brag and opened his mouth to boast, “I diiiiiiid.  Splat!

Poor frog.  He just couldn’t resist telling people how smart he was.  Reminds me of myself sometimes and I want to kick myself for it.  How about you?  Is pride ever a problem?  If so, today’s devotion study may be just what the doctor ordered.

Discussion Starters:  When you’re complimented or commended for something you did well, how does it make you feel?  Who really deserves the credit for any good we do here on earth.

Lifeline:  Next time someone tells you what a great job you did, give the glory to God.  You’ll feel wonderful!

Reflections

Blessings Always, (Numbers 6:24-26)

Rev. Dr. Andrew L. Foster, III.

March Devotional from D.S.

March 2019 – A Gentle Tongue

Read Together: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  Proverbs 15:1

When Gideon headed into battle, he took with him only one hundred men-a meager group compared with the vast army of the Midianites they were up against.  But God was in control, and he caused the Midianites to turn against one another.  Gideon’s army simply sat back and watched as their enemy defeated themselves.  Not one of the one hundred men had to draw their sword.  As the remainder of the Midianite army fled, Gideon called warriors from the Israelite tribe of Ephraim for help in finishing the job.  They cut off the Midianites’ escape route, and Israel defeated its enemy.

But after the fighting stopped, the Ephraimites came to Gideon and angrily demanded to know why they had not been called in the first place to help in the battle.  “Why have you treated us like this?” they whined.  “And they criticized him sharply” (Judges 8:1).

It would have been easy for Gideon to respond harshly to their criticism.  When we feel attacked or criticized, its human nature to feel defensive and lash back at those who make us feel that way.

But responding harshly to strong words is a sure way to escalate a conflict.  Instead of adding fuel to the fire, Gideon chose to douse the flame with soothing, soft words:  “What have I accomplished compared to you?  Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer?  God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands.  What was I able to do compared to you?’  At this, their resentment against him subsided” (Judges 8:2-3).  Maybe people skills came naturally to Gideon.  Perhaps he know the only way to calm the Ephraimites’ anger was to give them credit for the positive things their participation had accomplished. Gideon wasn’t buttering them up or even weaseling his way out of a tight spot; he was merely being a good leader by acknowledging their frustration and their contribution to his success and dealing with their complaints.  He took the focus off of what he had accomplished without their help and showed them that he valued and appreciated them.

A kind response is much more effective than a harsh one.  Next time you’re tempted to let loose verbally and really give someone a piece of your mind, hold your tongue.  Speak gently and with kindness instead.  Make it your goal to soothe the conflict instead of inflaming it by defending yourself or retaliating.  You just might gain (or keep) a friend!

Discussion Starters: How do you deal with people who speak to you harshly?  Based on today’s proverb, how can you improve your reaction?  What steps will you take to make those improvements?

Lifeline:  Watch for ways you can deal kindly with others.  Bless those around you with kind words of encouragement

February “Devotion” discussion by D.S. Foster

February 2019 – Slow To Anger

Read Together:  “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.”  Proverbs 14:29

Playing in and coaching Division 1 college football as a defensive lineman didn’t exactly give me a passive personality.  Every time the center would snap the ball to the quarterback, I was tin the middle of a major gang war!  If I didn’t move quickly and take the fight to the offensive lineman who was trying to demolish me, I would get run over by a stampede of wild horses.  I learned to fight and to fight hard. 

That was on the football field!

Off the football field was a different story.  Last year I spoke at a college event at the University of Colorado where I built a 14-foot cross in front of several hundred college students and shared with them God’s amazing gift of love and grace.  Hundreds responded to the invitation and gave their hearts to Christ. But one student was outraged!  As I leaned against the side wall of the theater, listening to the band play praise and worship music, he approached me in a fury.  He got in my face and called me every dirty word ever written on a bathroom wall!

Yeah, I probably could have taken him to the floor. Yeah, he probably deserved it. Yeah, something inside of me would have enjoyed making him eat his words.  Yeah, once upon a time, years ago, I probably would have taken issue with him.  But when I left football and grew up a little, I left it all on the field.  Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for them.”  Jesus said, “Be slow to anger.”  Jesus said, “Be patient with people.”  Jesus said, “Vengeance belongs to God.”  As the students’ stormed out of the theater, I prayed for him and still pray for him today, that someday our paths will cross again-hopefully in heaven when his anger will be calmed forever.

Discussion Starters:  Name three people who “provoke you to anger.”  Compare how you want to react with how you really react.  Compare your reaction to the way God wants you to react?  In reality, why is God’s way best?  Why is it best to be “slow to anger?”  What does today’s verse mean when it says those who are slow to anger have “great understanding?”  What do they understand?

Lifeline:  Ask God to give you the understanding needed to keep your anger in check.

Reflections

Blessings Always, (Numbers 6:24-26)

Rev. Dr. Andrew L. Foster, III.

September Devotional from D.S. Foster

September 2018 – Bite Your Tongue

Read Together:  “He who goes about as a tale-bearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.”  Proverbs 11:13

The United States government has a branch called the Central Intelligence Agency, better known as the CIA.  This agency is responsible for conducting top secret missions of the United States. In order for anyone to become a CIA operative, they must undergo severe testing and training – everything from physical fitness and reaction time to IQ tests.  After four weeks of very intensive training, the applicants are unexpectedly tested.

These men and women are captured by those who they believe are the enemy.  They are interrogated intensely for days to see if they will reveal the secret of who they are. If they withstand this final test, they officially become a CIA operative.  If they reveal their secret, they will never have the opportunity to become an operative.  They have proven themselves to be untrustworthy – unable to keep a secret!

Proverbs tells us that a talebearer reveals secrets, but a trustworthy man conceals them.  A recruit’s grueling weeks of giving it everything he or she had to become a CIA operative are all in vain if that recruit is unable to keep a secret.  Just as a tiny spark can set an entire forest aflame, the book of James reminds, an untrustworthy tongue can spoil an entire friendship or bring intense hurt to a person we love.

Discussion Starters:  How do you feel when someone shares a secret with you?  Why is it difficult to trust someone who gossips?  Who are people you know you can trust?  Why?

Lifeline:  Ask God to help you think before you speak, to put a guard on your mouth.

Reflections

Blessings Always, (Numbers 6:24-26)

Rev. Dr. Andrew L. Foster, III.

“Bible Study” Fall 2017

The after church study group will be reading Robert Shchases’s  Five Practices of Fruitful Living,  starting Sunday the 29th with the introduction.  November 5 the study will be set aside for the fall work day but will continue through subsequent chapters for the rest of November.  Please join whether you’ve read the book or not.  There is always a fruitful discussion.

Thoughts for Sunday, the 4th

A TIME TO BLESS

The first verse of Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes declares: “To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

David Spangler asks: When is the time to bless? (p. 79)

For reflection: Think about all the times you encounter some form of blessing ie public occasions, worship, ceremonies etc.

When are the times you are most likely to encounter a formal blessing?

Blessings are asked at beginnings and endings, and at many points in between. Indeed, any time we feel a situation or a person needs the benefit of divine providence we ask for a blessing. This is how we normally understand a blessing in our culture. It’s an invocation of the presence and the power of the sacred upon a person’s life or upon the function of an object.”

BUT as much as a blessing is an invocation, it is also an act of discovering the part of us that moves in harmony on the dance floor of creation. In fact,

the art of blessing is not only about the act of blessing, but about an attitude towards the world, a way of seeing things that go beyond our ordinary perceptions.”

On Sunday we talked about somehow being in harmony with the greater mystery. We had difficulty naming it (which is as it should be!). Spangler uses the metaphorical language of flowing energy, of obstruction, and of openness.

Our tradition might use the term “grace” – the continual flowing of divine energy in our behalf.

Here are a couple of questions to ponder: Can you identify a time when you have felt yourself in “the flow” of blessing? of unexpected grace? (be careful not to censor your insight or understanding when something comes to mind).

As you recall, were you able to be in a state of openness – receptivity?

Did anything in you “obstruct” the flow? or were you able to receive and let it pass on through you in some way to its next “destination?” ie: can you identify a time when you were “blessed in order to be a blessing?’

The real power of blessing is that it awakens us to the power of spirit. A blessing is an energizing of our sense of the sacred: the more we attune ourselves to that presence, the more we live in its midst.”