Thursday, February 11, 2016

Starting a Small Group Bible Study - Coffee House Conversations

          All over the land, Christian folks are meeting together in their favorite coffee places, sharing their faith and ideas, and studying Bible passages together. I’m writing a series of simple Bible study books for such groups called “Coffee House Conversations.” My hope is that these books will make it easy for committed Christians to organize regular groups of their church friends and other folks, for faith conversations and the sharing of their spiritual experiences.

          These books contain seven Bible studies each, which can be used by small groups or individuals for Sunday School, Coffee groups, or House meetings. The purpose of each study is to help participants share their faith, as well as their questions, ideas, and comments, in an amiable way.
         

          Each study should last between 45 to 60 minutes. Different people may lead and enable each study – the format is simple and easy to employ. Currently, I've written three study books, with the promise of more to come. You can view each book online by clicking the following links:


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Church devotion: Fools for Christ - 1 Corinthians 1:18

1 Corinthians 1:18     For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (NIV)

            There are some Christians today who believe that the Cross was accidental and not a part of God’s plan. They say that Christ’s message of love is what is important now, and that to pin our faith on being forgiven through Jesus’ agonizing death is to worship a God that is vindictive, violent, and vile.

            Paul would call them foolish and that they will end up perishing because they cannot accept the purpose of the Cross. I agree with Paul because if I accept that Christ’s death was purely accidental, then God is powerless and not worthy of worship. It would also mean that Jesus was just a foolish preacher who got caught up in his own rhetoric and deserved to be killed by the authorities. Christ would become just another was a self-centered religious simpleton instead of a selfless Savior.

            For those of us who accept the power of the Cross as being predestined by God, we embrace an understanding that we are sinners who need to be saved from our sins. We don’t ever want to be separated from God and we don’t want to be cast aside forever. We claim the power of the crucified Christ, whose body was broken for our mistakes and whose blood was shed for our transgressions. In other words, without the Cross there is no forgiveness, and without Christ being nailed to that Cross, there is no hope of life after death. We would rather be fools for Christ on this side of life than fools for all of eternity on the other side of death.

Question:        What does Christ’s Cross mean to me? How has it shaped my faith?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, You are the Savior of the world and the Redeemer of our souls. Your life was predestined by God to end in a sacrificial way. You accepted God’s will to be crucified, so that we can be forgiven of our sins and restored to God’s favor. Thank You for not abandoning us; thank You for loving us so much that You willingly sacrificed Your Life. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.


Today’s image is one of John’s new Lenten Cross drawings. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on this link: Cross.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Lent Devotions and readings - A 40 Day Journey of Renewal

My latest Lent devotional e-book has just been published on Amazon. It contains daily devotions, prayers, suggested Bible readings, and reflective questions for every day of Lent. It's a simple and beneficial way to keep Lent, in order to become prepared for Holy Week.

Click the link below to check out a copy. Other links for different countries can be found here:

In US http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BGREW2M

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Family Devotion - An Old Photograph

Romans 12:12      Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (NIV)

            I’m looking at an old photograph on my church desk. It’s a picture of my Mom in her early twenties. She has black raven colored hair, large beautiful eyes, and a lovely smile. She’s wearing pearl earrings, as well as a decorative Isle of Man brooch on her jacket collar. I think the photograph may have been taken on her honeymoon with my Dad because they went to the Isle of Man after their wedding.

            My Mom looks young and beautiful, happy and joyful. She’s just married the man she loves and both of them are on the threshold of a lifetime together. She has no idea of the hardships yet to come, but her face looks bright and hopeful. The years ahead will be bleak at times and our whole family will be scarred emotionally and mentally, but we will survive and become supportive of one another, even though we’re scattered and separated by thousands of miles.

            The photograph reminds me that my Mom was once young and strong, filled with hope and happy to be in love. That memory consoles me and takes away most of the pain and bitterness that I have carried for far too long. I know that my brothers and sisters, whom I dearly love, feel the same way.

            Despite her illnesses and deep depression, my Mom never lost her faith. She still prayed to God in her lucid moments and clung to her beliefs. This also comforts me because as I get nearer to the completion of my own life, I know that I shall see her again, just looking like she is in the photograph. This is what Christ has given us – a hope that perseveres and love that never ends.

Questions for reflection

Is there someone in my life that I look forward to seeing in God’s Kingdom? How does that hope affect my faith and relationships today?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, thank You for the faith that You have given us and the hopes that we share. We look forward to the day when we shall be with You in God’s Kingdom and reunited with all of our faithful loved ones. In Your Holy Name, we gratefully pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to make a comment or ask questions about today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.

Today’s image is one of John’s latest Lenten Cross drawings called ‘Lent Changes Everything.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click on this link: Lenten Cross.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Small group Bible Study - Enjoy Life by John Stuart

Many Christians are now regularly meeting in local coffee houses to study God's Word, share their faith, and discuss their spiritual ideas. I'm writing a series of light conversational Bible study books, which will enable small groups to meet for 45 -60 minutes each week, or even once per month, to build up their friendship, fellowship, and faith.

The theme of this first book is called "Enjoy Life." More conversational books will follow in the series.

This book contains seven Bible studies which can be used by small groups or individuals for Sunday School, Coffee groups, or house meetings. The purpose of each study is to help folks share their faith, as well as their questions, ideas, and comments in an amiable way.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Lent Devotions Books by John Stuart

Devotions for Lent are becoming more popular among Christians of all denominations. The following e-books contain 40 daily devotions for Lent and can be used individually, in a small group, or family setting. These Lenten devotional books are all available on Amazon. Just click on the boxes and you'll be taken to the home page for each Lent devotional book, with a description of its contents.


             


My latest Lenten devotional book, "A Path for Pilgrims,' will be published soon.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Church Meeting devotions: Divine Gift - Acts 13:39

Acts 13:39       Through Christ everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the Law of Moses. 

            One of the greatest gifts of Christianity is that people, even the wickedest among us, can be forgiven by God. This allows all of us to begin our lives again and make a new start. Many of us have past regrets and have made terrible mistakes. We carry the burden of our guilt within us, and sometimes even punish ourselves for being so foolish, corrupt, and sinful. To be human, is to be frequently wrong. To be forgiven, is to be set free from the past.

            Our beautiful world and wonderful planet is full of broken, guilty, and remorseful people. Much of the disappointments we experience or cause, are deeply rooted in our sinful nature. We all could be better people; we all could make better choices; we all could do better things with our lives.

            Christ gives us a gracious opportunity to begin again, no matter who we are, no matter what we’ve done; no matter what age we are, and no matter what hurt or damage we have caused. He sacrificed Himself for our sins and, as Paul preached long ago, ‘everyone who believes is set free from every sin.’

            Today, I rejoice in the eternal fact that I am forgiven. I hope that you can also receive and experience this greatest of all gifts from God. As the poet, Alexander Pope once wrote: ‘to err is human; to forgive, divine.’

Personal questions for reflection

What is currently my biggest regret? Have I truly asked Christ to forgive me?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, You are our Divine Savior and Gracious Lord. We know the wrong that we have done and the disappointments we have created. Forgive our past mistakes and foolish choices. Allow us the opportunity to begin again and to re-start our lives by being connected to You. In Your Holy Name, we gratefully and humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment or ask questions about today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.


Today’s image is one of John’s latest drawings called “Northern Delights.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on this link: Northern.