New Testament Reading Guide – February 20-26, 2012

How do I use this reading guide?

Philippians 2:1-13

What is the life pattern that Christ left for us to follow? Where did Jesus begin? Where did he go? Where did God the Father take him in the end? What would it would like for you to follow that same life pattern (go back and look at verses 2-4)?

There is a mystery, a paradox, that runs through Paul’s letter to the Philippians concerning how we grow as a follower of Christ. On the one hand, our growth is a work of God …

Philippians 2:13 … it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Yet we also have some hard work to do as we follow Jesus …

Philippians 2:12 … continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

What does it look like for us to work out our salvation as God works in us?  What does God do?  What do we do?

Philippians 3:1-11

The question: “Do followers of Jesus need to be circumcised and follow the Jewish laws and traditions?” was a question that troubled the church in Paul’s day.  Many Jewish Christians argued forcefully that non-Jews who became Christians must also be made to follow Jewish customs. Paul argues against this teaching calling it “confidence in the flesh”.

Why did Paul have more reason that most Jews of his time to have “confidence in the flesh”? What is worth more to Paul than his Jewish identity and all his accomplishments? What is it that is a source of pride for you? What would it look like for you to let go of these things and instead base your self-worth on the fact that you belong to Jesus?

Hebrews 12:1-14

The book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish group of followers of Jesus who were undergoing a difficult time of persecution. Life was so hard for them, they were considering abandoning their faith in Jesus and returning to the safety of the Judaism they had been born into. This book was written to encourage them to cling to Jesus and to persevere in their new faith.

In chapter 11, the writer provided examples of persevering faith from their Jewish history and now in chapter 12 the writer starts to point us to Jesus. How can the example of Jesus encourage us to hold on to our faith even when life gets difficult?

How are we called to see the hardships that God allows in our lives? For the writer of Hebrews hardship = _____________? How does hardship mean that God still loves us? What is the purpose of struggle in our lives? What good can come of it?

While we struggle to hold on to our faith in the face of hardship, we are still called to go on the offensive. What are we to put our effort into? Why is living in peace so important?

Philippians 3:12-21

What does Paul do realizing that he is not yet been made perfect? What role does Paul play in his struggle to follow Jesus? What role does Christ play? What is the goal that Paul pursues? What does he let go of in order to pursue that goal?

Christianity is more than a set of beliefs for Paul. It is also a way of life. How does this way of life contrast to the world’s way of life? What is the primary citizenship of a Christian? What is a Christian’s hope? How does this new identity and new hope affect the way a Christian should live today? How would the Philippian Christians know what the Christian life looked like?

Philippians 4:1-9

Chapter 4 begins “therefore …” But therefore what and why? Here is what chapter 4 is responding to.

Philippians 3:20 Our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ … therefore … [chapter 4]

How are we to live on today with this promise as our tomorrow?  What are we to do and not do? List out the commands you see in verses 1-9.

Philippians 4:10-20

Paul is appreciative of the concern the Philippians gave him while he suffered.  Why doesn’t Paul need or demand their support? What has Paul learned as he followed Jesus? Why was the Philippian gift so important even though it wasn’t ‘needed’?

Hebrews 2:10-18

?How is it that we are brothers (that would include women) of Jesus? Why did Jesus become our brother, and share in our humanity “Abraham’s descendants” was a Jewish way of referring to God’s people. Through the coming of Jesus Christ, all those who put their faith in Him are considered to be descendents of Abraham and heirs to the promises that God had given him. For more on these promises see Genesis 12:1-3. What new role has Jesus taken on because he became a human being? In what two ways can Jesus now help us with our struggle with sin?

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