Category Archives: Bible Study

The Hard Sayings of Jesus: Sermon Series

Inspired by the writings of Lloyd John Ogilvie, this sermon series examines some of the best-known sayings of Jesus, discusses what often confuses people about them, and offers insights into how they can be related to modern living.

Remember to turn on the volume for any video you play, by clicking on the speaker icon in the lower right corner of the frame. These videos are reposted from our Facebook page, where we post our weekly sermon videos.

You can also listen to them on our podcast.

November 11, 2018

All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford — she gave her all.

(Mark 12:44)

October 28, 2018

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.

(Matthew 28:19)

October 21, 2018

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Creator except through me.”

(John 14:6)

October 14, 2018

This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.

(Mark 10:31)

October 7, 2018

You find it easy enough to forecast the weather — why can’t you read the signs of the times? An evil and wanton generation is always wanting signs and wonders.

(Matthew 16:1-4)

September 23, 2018

That’s what I mean when I say, “Many get invited; only a few make it.”

(Matthew 22:14)

September 16, 2018

Count on it — there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

(Luke 15:7)

September 9, 2018

Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.

(Luke 11:1-4)

August 19, 2018

Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

(Luke 9:61)

August 5, 2018

And no one having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he says, “The old is better.”

(Luke 5:39)

July 29, 2018

I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.

(Mark 10:25)

July 22, 2018

They replied, “Are you serious? You want us to go spend a fortune on food for their supper?”

(Mark 6:37)

July 15, 2018

Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.

(John 6:56)

The Road to Freedom: Free to Come to the Table

Lenten Study for April 5, 2017. Part six of our weekly “Road to Freedom” series, culminating in “Freedom Sunday” on Easter. Here’s last week’s study.


On the first of the Days of Unleavened Bread, the day they prepare the Passover sacrifice, his disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations so you can eat the Passover meal?”

He directed two of his disciples, “Go into the city. A man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him. Ask the owner of whichever house he enters, ‘The Teacher wants to know, Where is my guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will show you a spacious second-story room, swept and ready. Prepare for us there.”

The disciples left, came to the city, found everything just as he had told them, and prepared the Passover meal.

After sunset he came with the Twelve. As they were at the supper table eating, Jesus said, “I have something hard but important to say to you: One of you is going to hand me over to the conspirators, one who at this moment is eating with me.”

Stunned, they started asking, one after another, “It isn’t me, is it?”

He said, “It’s one of the Twelve, one who eats with me out of the same bowl. In one sense, it turns out that the Son of Man is entering into a way of treachery well-marked by the Scriptures—no surprises here. In another sense, the man who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man—better never to have been born than do this!”

In the course of their meal, having taken and blessed the bread, he broke it and gave it to them. Then he said,

Take, this is my body.

Taking the chalice, he gave it to them, thanking God, and they all drank from it. He said,

This is my blood,
God’s new covenant,
Poured out for many people.

“I’ll not be drinking wine again until the new day when I drink it in the kingdom of God.”

They sang a hymn and then went directly to Mount Olives. Mark 14:12-26

Regarding this next item, I’m not at all pleased. I am getting the picture that when you meet together it brings out your worst side instead of your best! First, I get this report on your divisiveness, competing with and criticizing each other. I’m reluctant to believe it, but there it is. The best that can be said for it is that the testing process will bring truth into the open and confirm it.

And then I find that you bring your divisions to worship—you come together, and instead of eating the Lord’s Supper, you bring in a lot of food from the outside and make pigs of yourselves. Some are left out, and go home hungry. Others have to be carried out, too drunk to walk. I can’t believe it! Don’t you have your own homes to eat and drink in? Why would you stoop to desecrating God’s church? Why would you actually shame God’s poor? I never would have believed you would stoop to this. And I’m not going to stand by and say nothing.

Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said,

This is my body, broken for you.
Do this to remember me.

After supper, he did the same thing with the cup:

This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you.
Each time you drink this cup, remember me.

What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt. 1 Corinthians 11:17-26

The Road to Freedom: Free To Do The Work

Lenten Study for March 29, 2017. Part five of our weekly “Road to Freedom” series, culminating in “Freedom Sunday” on Easter. Here’s last week’s study.


When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me — you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:31-40

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously —
take God seriously. Micah 6:8

The Road to Freedom: Free to Define Your Relationship with God

Lenten Study for March 15, 2017. Part three of our weekly “Road to Freedom” series, culminating in “Freedom Sunday” on Easter. Here’s last week’s study.


The Pharisees, along with some religion scholars who had come from Jerusalem, gathered around him. They noticed that some of his disciples weren’t being careful with ritual washings before meals. The Pharisees—Jews in general, in fact—would never eat a meal without going through the motions of a ritual hand-washing, with an especially vigorous scrubbing if they had just come from the market (to say nothing of the scourings they’d give jugs and pots and pans).

The Pharisees and religion scholars asked, “Why do your disciples flout the rules, showing up at meals without washing their hands?”

Jesus answered, “Isaiah was right about frauds like you, hit the bull’s-eye in fact:

These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their heart isn’t in it.
They act like they are worshiping me,
but they don’t mean it.
They just use me as a cover
for teaching whatever suits their fancy,
Ditching God’s command
and taking up the latest fads.”

He went on, “Well, good for you. You get rid of God’s command so you won’t be inconvenienced in following the religious fashions! Moses said, ‘Respect your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.’ But you weasel out of that by saying that it’s perfectly acceptable to say to father or mother, ‘Gift! What I owed you I’ve given as a gift to God,’ thus relieving yourselves of obligation to father or mother. You scratch out God’s Word and scrawl a whim in its place. You do a lot of things like this.”

Jesus called the crowd together again and said, “Listen now, all of you—take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life; it’s what you vomit—that’s the real pollution.”

When he was back home after being with the crowd, his disciples said, “We don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”

Jesus said, “Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you see that what you swallow can’t contaminate you? It doesn’t enter your heart but your stomach, works its way through the intestines, and is finally flushed.” (That took care of dietary quibbling; Jesus was saying that all foods are fit to eat.)

He went on: “It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness—all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution.”

24-26 From there Jesus set out for the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house there where he didn’t think he would be found, but he couldn’t escape notice. He was barely inside when a woman who had a disturbed daughter heard where he was. She came and knelt at his feet, begging for help. The woman was Greek, Syro-Phoenician by birth. She asked him to cure her daughter.

He said, “Stand in line and take your turn. The children get fed first. If there’s any left over, the dogs get it.”

She said, “Of course, Master. But don’t dogs under the table get scraps dropped by the children?”

Jesus was impressed. “You’re right! On your way! Your daughter is no longer disturbed. The demonic affliction is gone.” She went home and found her daughter relaxed on the bed, the torment gone for good.

Then he left the region of Tyre, went through Sidon back to Galilee Lake and over to the district of the Ten Towns. Some people brought a man who could neither hear nor speak and asked Jesus to lay a healing hand on him. He took the man off by himself, put his fingers in the man’s ears and some spit on the man’s tongue. Then Jesus looked up in prayer, groaned mightily, and commanded, “Ephphatha!—Open up!” And it happened. The man’s hearing was clear and his speech plain—just like that.

Jesus urged them to keep it quiet, but they talked it up all the more, beside themselves with excitement. “He’s done it all and done it well. He gives hearing to the deaf, speech to the speechless.” Mark 7

The Road to Freedom: Free To Believe God Loves Me

Lenten Study for March 8, 2017. Part two of our weekly “Road to Freedom” series, culminating in “Freedom Sunday” on Easter. Here’s last week’s study.


By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story. Luke 15:1-3

Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’

“So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.

“That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.

“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’

“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.

“All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’

“The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’

“His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’” Luke 15:11-32

The Road to Freedom: Free to Follow Jesus, Free to be Me

Lenten Study for March 1, 2017. Part one of our weekly “Road to Freedom” series, culminating in “Freedom Sunday” on Easter.


Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking. John 14:1-4

All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud! Ephesians 3:12-13

Acts 15

How to Study the Bible: Philippians

How to Study the Bible: Here’s a great way to get started with self-guided bible study. In the congregation we’re using this method to study Philippians, and you’re welcome to follow along.

Here are some resources:

  • Our Bible Study Guide (downloads automatically after you click it).
  • The Word Hand (opens in a new window), a classic method for hearing, reading, studying, memorizing and meditating over a bible verse.
  • The full text of Philippians in a Word document  (downloads automatically after you click it) so you can print your own with wide enough margins to make notes.
  • The video (below) of my sermon “Accepting the Challenge”, where we kick off our congregation’s study of Philippians.

Vicar Alyce Keener

About Vicar Alyce Keener

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Alyce has been called in two directions from an early age: Teaching and God. She has been active in churches all her life, prays every day and studied at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. She has lived in Georgia since 1995.

What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality & Transgenderism?

What does the bible say about homosexuality & transgenderism? This bible study is designed to be used in small group, Sunday school and interactive bible study formats, to help people fully understand the verses used by scriptural literalists to condemn gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people.  The overarching thesis of the study is that these verses, when understood in their historical and cultural contexts, only describe exploitative and abusive forms of sexuality, not loving same-sex partnerships. Click here to get started.

This bible study was originally published by Open Door Communities and written by Micah and Katharine Royal, who hold the copyright for the information.  A special thanks to Micah and Katherine for allowing us to republish it here. In some parts of this study, where the authors reference handouts or online resources, we’ve attempted provided links to current online resources.  Please feel free to send us an email if you find a broken link. We’ve also made some minor edits for style and clarity.

Does God Discriminate Against Gay People?

Does God Discriminate Against Gay People?

Session 1 of Homosexuality & Transgenderism: A Bible Study.

Hook: Ask anyone willing to, to share about a time they experienced prejudice or discrimination of any type.

Ask: In what ways have you seen the bible used to support such action? Do you think that is a proper use or misuse of the people?

Explain: Today and in the next couple of weeks we are going to be looking at seeing if the bible teaches prejudice against homosexuals or homosexuality and discrimination against gays and lesbians. Many people today believe it does.

Explain that today you will simply be looking at the general question, “Does the Bible support discrimination and prejudice?” and in sessions that follow you will look at particular verses that deal with GLBT people.

Prejudice and Discrimination

When they have finished, ask: Does the Bible teach any form of discrimination or prejudice? Why or why not?

Have someone read Luke 4:18-19.

Explain that here we have Jesus’ mission in life.

Ask: Do his words suggest that he and his bible have the purpose of oppressing people based on their sexuality, race, or gender – or the purpose of setting people free from oppression?

Have someone read 1 Samuel 16:7.

Ask: According to this verse, does God judge people based on external qualities like height, economic class, sexual orientation or gender? By what characteristics does God judge a person? If this is the case, would God condone discrimination or prejudice?

Have someone read Acts 10:34-35.

Ask: Does God show favoritism based on externals like national origin, race, background, or sexual orientation, according to this verse?

Have someone read Galatians 3:27-29.

Ask: What does this verse say about how God views us? Do distinctions like gender, sexual orientation, race, and social status matter in God’s eyes?

Explain that each of these verses teaches us the basic principle of scripture that God does not discriminate. This means that God’s Word has to be misinterpreted for it to be applied in a way that discriminates against anyone or condones prejudice.

Confronting Bible Abuse

Ask: How is it then that people can use the bible as a tool of discrimination?

Have someone read 2 Peter 3:16.

Explain that here the scriptures describe how certain people will take hard to understand passages of scripture and distort their meaning for their own purposes.

One example of this is bible abuse, the ripping of select verses of scripture out of context in order to use them to support things they never were intended to – like the oppression of or discrimination of some other group of a minority group.

Ask: Is anyone familiar with other forms of bible abuse than misusing scripture to exclude GLBT people?

You may want to point out how scripture was misquoted to oppose the abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement, and basic human rights for women.

Close by quoting Romans 10:9-13. Explain that this verse shows us that God does not discriminate, though at times we as God’s followers might want to try to say God does, so we can remain in our comfort zones. All who call on the Lord in faith, trusting God as Savior and Lord, are counted by God as God’s beloved children, regardless of what human distinctions might divide them.

Hopefully these verses demonstrate to you that God is not a God of discrimination and prejudice, but a God who looks on the heart, counting as God’s own all who put their trust in God. In the next several sessions, we will look at verses that specifically deal with GLBT-related issues. But, in the meantime, be rest assured, God does not judge you for being gay, straight, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, male, female, or any other human distinction, but loves you for who you are.

Close in prayer.