Alumni Bible Study

A Bible study initially set up for alumni of the Senior Sunday School Class at the First United Methodist Church of Lufkin, Texas. It is our hope and our prayer that this study touches the hearts of those who participate and helps spread the love and grace of Our Lord and God. All who want to learn more about God are welcome

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Location: lufkin, Texas, United States

I am a Christian family man, Lay Pastor and writer from Deep East Texas. I love life, and I enjoy working with young people. I have published two books; "A Small Mind Among Tall Trees" and "God If You Are Not Too Busy, Can You Give Me a Hand". If you want to obtain a copy drop me an e-mail or go to or barnesand . I have been a salesman, cowman and athlete in my past. I still have a strong sense of humor and am not afraid to use it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

From: ryansorrellDate: Mon, 24 Mar 2008 08:08:01 -0500

Relax, Read and Reflect

Prayer- Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Labeling Ourselves

Romans 1:1 "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus…"

I Corinthians 1:1 "Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus…"

II Corinthians 1:1 "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…"

As a presidential front runner, Sen. Barack Obama is beginning to receive much scrutiny from the national press. He was recently asked by Terry Moran of ABC News if he considered himself a black man or an American first. "An American, absolutely," was the reply. Each of us can be described with many labels: man, woman, student, musician, Christian, athlete… the list of labels is almost endless. We are complex and multi-faceted, and as we move through life we're constantly shedding old labels and acquiring new ones.

How we prioritize to ourselves the labels that describe us is important. It sets the tone for what motivates us in our daily lives.

Paul, as he introduced himself in his letters of the New Testament, immediately described himself as "a servant" and "an apostle" of Christ Jesus.

Prayer- Lord, help us keep the labels that are most important about us first and foremost in our minds. We ask that you remind us how much we can receive if we strive to be "your servants" Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Matthew 7:24-27

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
The Wise and Foolish Builders
24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
We need to build our faith on a solid foundation, build on a slab (rock). How do we do this? We build our faith through prayer, worship, fellowship and study. All of these things build our faith and our relationship with Christ. They build them on a solid footing.
Building our faith is not a one time only deal. It requires time and commitment. When we start to cut corners, (skipping worship and fellowship, or stopping the study,) our foundation gets weaker. The storms of life WILL come, that is a truth. Life will batter you in many different ways, and your faith and your relationship will be tested. If you cut corners, you may find your faith crashing down around you. That leaves nothing to protect you from the storms.
Prayer- Lord, help us build and maintain a strong foundation. You are our rock, our firm foundation. Thanks for supporting us. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Viva Jesus!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Matthew 7:21-23

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
We all have seen people that proclaim a relationship with Christ with their lips, but do not back it up with their lives. Humanity has always had people that wanted to "show" they were holy by saying the right things, but never did the right deeds. Jesus is clear on this- He wants people to show the world Gods loves by their actions, not their words. Salvation comes from a true relationship with Christ. We must accept him into our hearts and use him in our lives. To quote that brilliant theologian, Coach Jimmy Johnson, "If you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk!"
Prayer- Lord, Help us form a true relationship with You. Give us the strength and patience to "walk the walk." Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Viva Jesus!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Matthew 7:15-20

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer, Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
A Tree and Its Fruit
15"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Jesus is getting revolutionary now. In His day false prophets were common. They told the people what they wanted to hear, as long as they were paid to do so. The words may have been what the people wanted, but the words were not bringing the people closer to God.
Have things changed? Not really. We all know of instances of false prophets. Some are cult leaders who brainwash their followers that the leaders are the new Messiah, sometimes leading their followers to tragic results. Some may be very flamboyant and charismatic people who bring a very thin message, but have a very thick bank statement.
So how can we tell who are false prophets? By the fruit they bear. Good trees bear good fruit. Bad trees are cut down and thrown into the fire. How do we taste the fruit to see if it is good? Do so through prayer and guidance from God. Look at what they say. If what they say is supported by God’s word, (all of it, not bits and pieces,) and people are truly coming to God, the fruit is good. If their word is designed to promote them and an agenda, they may be firewood.
Prayer- Lord, help us discern what is from You from what is for the world. Give us wisdom and courage. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Viva Jesus!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Matthew 7:13-14

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
The Narrow and Wide Gates
13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

The gate that leads towards God is called narrow by Jesus. Does that mean it is difficult to find? No, it is called narrow because there is only one way to enter it, and that is through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ! The "gate" in the open, has flashing "gate" signs all around it, but only a few will elect to go through it. Wow!
The wide gate, the gate away from God, has many ways to enter. The gate is wide, but really leads no where, but many will go through it. Look at this from Jesus’s time and perspective. The cities in those days had walls around them for protection, with several gates. The wider the gate, the more difficult it was to defend. To get to the most important parts of the city, you entered through a small but fortified gate. That is where you found the most security and protection. The wide gate lead to common and undefended areas. Now, this makes since, doesn’t it?
The narrow gate is open, and if we ask we all know where it is. What is stopping us from entering, and taking our family and friends with us? Nothing.
Prayer- Lord, We want to go down the road that leads to eternal life, eternal life with You. Thank you for opening the gate with your Son. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Viva Jesus!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Matthew 7:9-12

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
9"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
This lesson follows the one on asking and receiving. This is NOT about snake handling or getting stoned. In the examples Christ uses, the snake and rock are evil gifts, and where does evil come from?
God knows what is good and what is evil. Sometimes we pray for "snakes", but God knows they would not help us, so he gives us bread. It is easier, however, to learn what is good, ask for it, and God will grant it. That is when we are in best communion with our great and loving parent-God.
Prayer- God, we do not always ask for the best things for us. Thank you for being a patient and gracious Father. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Viva Jesus!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Matthew 7:6

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
6"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

Okay? We have all heard this passage, but what does this mean? Who would chunck pearls at pigs anyway? Jesus thought the same way.
In this case the pearls Jesus is referring to are the Holy teachings. Why should we waste our time entrusting holy teachings to unholy people? Pigs were unclean to the Jewish people, so that is why we have a comparison with pigs as unclean.
So we should not share the gospel with unholy people? That is not the message. Yes, you should share with anyone and everyone. But, we should do this with prayer and discernment. Prayer because we alone can not change a persons heart, but God can. Discernment so that we may keep the scriptures and teachings, the pearls, pure and untainted.
Prayer- Lord, Help us spread Your word without thinning it down. Your teachings are dear and holy, help us treat them as such. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Viva Jesus!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Matthew 7:7-8

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Ask, Seek, Knock
7"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Another familiar verse. As a salesman, I have heard this quoted many times by managers trying to motivate the sales force to go make calls. What is Jesus telling us here?
While this is very good advice for any path you are taking in life, this is a spiritual command. If we want to have a great relationship with God, we must pursue that relationship. Remember the three "F’s" while doing this. Faith, Focus, and Follow through. Do not let anything or anybody keep you from God, and you will be rewarded.
Like so much of Jesus’s radical teaching, this advice can make differences in all forms of our lives. Using the 3 F’s can help in study, in work and in personal relationships. Remember, keep God first, and the rest cam fall into place.
Prayer- Lord, Thank you for the reminder for us to never give up. If we ask, seek and knock we will be rewarded. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Viva Jesus!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Matthew 7:3-5

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open our heart and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

Jesus follows up with telling us not to criticize. Basically, He is telling us to look at ourselves and our flaws before we criticize others. The imagery here is fantastic. I have this mental picture of people with boards coming out of their faces.
We should always look at our own lives before we judge others. Again, Jesus is not saying do not interact, do not hold your brother accountable. We must do these things, but we must do them in Love. Part of the whole accountability thing is we should expect our friends to hold us up and tell us when we are messing up. None of us is perfect, but as a body of Christian believers we can strive to live as close to perfection as possible.
Prayer- Lord, Help us to live together as a positive community of believers. Help us to treat each other with love and respect, as you love and respect us. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Viva Jesus!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Matthew 7:1-2

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Judging Others
1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
This is Joy’s favorite verse in the Bible. It is one of these "golden" rules that if everyone followed, the world would be so much better.
This version says "judge", but a more contemporary version may say criticize. We are , after all, taught to keep each other accountable. Sometimes we must look at what we are doing and step in to help keep a friend from making a mistake. We can step in, out of love, and help.
Being critical is not done out of love. If we are critical, we will be criticized. Jesus is not just referring to what our human brothers and sisters will do. We will be critiqued by God, the same way we critique each other. I know I want to be critiqued fairly, and very leniently.
Prayer- Lord, Help us lift our brother up, not throw him down. Thank you for sending Jesus to show us how to judge, and how to love. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Viva Jesus!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Matthew 6:28-34

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

During one summer I spent in Austin, my friends and I went tubing down the Guadalupe River almost every weekend. By the third or fourth time we stopped being overly concerned when we approached rapids. When friends who did not go every weekend would start to get tense, we would start to chant "worry, worry, worry," in a condescending tone. We knew how to prepare and act in the faster water, and our friends should trust us.
This is what Jesus is telling us in these verses. It is good to prepare, to practice and to plan. But what good is worry? God will take care of us, but we have to put our lives in his hands. We have to have faith.
Again, re-read the last verse. Don’t worry about tomorrow, God has you covered.
Prayer- Lord, help us grow our faith. We put our lives in your hands, for we know that is the best place for them to be. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Viva Jesus!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Matthew 6:25-27

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer-Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Do Not Worry
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[

I can hear the chorus of that old classic "Don’t Worry-Be Happy" going through my mind. Jesus continues to be radical in his teaching by telling us not to worry.
Worry brings many ill effects to our lives. It can cause physical problems, emotional problems and spiritual problems. Worry can literally make us sick. The main problem with worry is that is comes between our lives and our faith in God. If we get focused on our worries, and the factors causing those worries, (food, shelter, clothing,) we elevate this over our relationship with our Lord. God will provide.
Jesus is not telling us to lay around and do nothing. God provides by giving us opportunities to help ourselves. Don’t worry, but work hard. Re-read last verse, (again.) That about sums it up!
Prayer- Lord, Help us keep our faith that you will provide. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Viva Jesus!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Matthew 6:22-24

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
22"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
I am really starting to value vision, because I am at an age where mine is starting to fade. I understand how so much of the daily living is so strongly related to how I see things. The better I see, the more I can do. Spiritual vision is the same way. The more we see the world through God, the more of God’s work we can do. When we take our eyes off God, or start to use other things to illuminate our lives, the less we can do.
Re-read verse 24. Jesus is very specific in this teaching. Part of using God for spiritual vision is it gives us the ability to reflect. Who is your master? What do you serve? Is your eye fixed on God’s light, or the glimmer of earthly gold? Is our spiritual vision beginning to fade as our physical vision is?, or are we using the correct lamp for light?
Prayer- Lord, help us keep our eyes on You and let us see things as you enlighten them for us. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Viva Jesus!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Matthew 6:19-21

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Treasures in Heaven
19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

This starts a revolutionary teaching on money. Money may make the world go around, but it doesn’t exchange well in Heaven. Jesus tells us not to store our treasures on earth, but in heaven. How can we don that?
Jesus is not referring to tithing, totally. He is not telling us to use heaven as a savings account for money. Heaven is not a time share. The treasures we are building in heaven are the things that will make heaven great. Good deeds, fellowship and love. Re-read the last verse. Where is your heart?
Prayer- Lord, help us build treasures where we can use them the longest. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Viva Jesus!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Matthew 6:16-18

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord- Open our hearts and open our minds and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
16"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Here we are in the middle of Lent, and we are learning how to fast. We do not fast much today, but in the world of Christ, the Jews were required to fast (no food) every year on the day of Atonement. Plus, the Pharisees fasted twice a week to show the people how holy they were.
Fasting is not easy. The holy people would sit and writhe in pain to show the rest of the folks what they were doing to be more holy. We may not fast much anymore, (although some do,) but we still know people who will tell you by word or deed how they are sacrificing to get close to God. By telling the world, they are now receiving their reward.
Jesus is not telling the people to stop fasting. He is telling us to do these things in communion with God, and no one else. Then, we will receive heavenly rewards.
Prayer- Lord, we want to be more Godly, we want to focus on you. Help us and be with us as we prepare. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Viva Jesus!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Matthew 6:14-15

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open our eyes and open our hearts and help us learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen
14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Forgiveness. What is forgiveness? Is it easy? Can we really forgive those who sin against us?
These two verses are some of the most important in the Gospel. They are direct and to the point. If you forgive your fellow man, God will forgive you. If you can’t-God won’t. (Notice this is not what we usually say when we recite the lords prayer, the Matthew version is a little different.)
Why such a cut and dry statement. Forgiveness is important, and Jesus knows that man will soon need to be forgiven. We are all sinners, we all need forgiveness. If we can not forgive we can not receive forgiveness. We have to practice to play. If we do not forgive we do not understand what forgiveness is; therefore we can not receive Gods forgiveness.
This is a big deal. This is part of the revolution. We have all been sinned against, so we all have a lot of targets for forgiveness. We can really practice. Has someone lied about you?, or dumped you? Instead of showing hate and anger, show forgiveness. After all, we all need lots of Gods forgiveness, so lets show we know how.
Prayer- Lord, Thank you for forgiving us, thank you for loving us. Thank you for giving us the ability to forgive as well as the opportunity. Go-Fight-Win. Amen
Viva Jesus!