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Bible Study Guide for Sunday January 31, 2021

January 28, 2021

● Deuteronomy 18:15-20

● Psalm 111

● 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

● Mark 1:21-28

Our Collect begins with the declaration, "God, you govern all things in heaven and on earth." No matter how you, individually, might interpret that statement, its bold assertion during this inauguration season could not be more dramatic. Certainly Moses, talking to the Israelites, saw clearly the need to listen to and obey prophets relaying God's messages. At the same time, he warned against the possibility of false prophets without providing much in the way of guidance as to how to discern the difference. Our scripture readings and guide two weeks ago provided valuable guidance regarding discernment, including a suggestion to ask for help from others (1 Sam 3:4-10). We are clearly called today, in America, to heed that advice to determine the difference between false and true prophecies from our civilian prophet-leaders. Part of that advice was to talk to others, those in our community and beyond, to build confidence in our discernments.

In our reading from Corinthians, we find Paul claiming "Knowledge puffs up," applying it directly to knowledge of specific religious practices regarding eating meat that came from a ritual sacrifice. But this, too, is relevant to our discernment process. When we "know" something with great certainty regarding how something should be viewed or done, we can be endangered by a puffiness that inhibits or even misleads our discernment. As Christians in America today, we are not particularly worried about eating meat sacrificed to idols. But influencers bombard us daily with ideas and attitudes that are potentially much more damaging than ill-gotten meat. We need to listen as Paul warns against puffery and suggests we maintain humility as we attempt to discern truths.

All of this brings us to the Capernaum synagogue and the issue of authority. Jesus clearly projected it in the way he instructed the members – enough to call out an unclean spirit in a dramatic healing. In our lives, as we attempt to follow Jesus we are recognizing His authority. But often we must respond to civilian leaders regarding matters of practical importance. In those cases, we must be guided by Matt 20:21, regarding to whom we render our wealth or obedience. When those secular matters involve moral issues, however, we need to discern the degree to which they are consistent with teachings of our ultimate authority, Jesus Christ. 

· In your own life, have you had a specific encounter with authority, either positive or negative, that had an impact on your life?

· Have you found yourself in a position of authority that brought you up short and demanded more of you than you had to offer, perhaps due to a lack of confidence in the leadership you were required to offer? How about as a parent?


Author: Chuck Medler


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