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Sermon Series Lent 2008

Throughout Lent this year, at St Barnabas, we will be looking at the Bible through sermons, group studies and visiting speakers. We will be getting to grips with Godís Big Story for his world, our part in it, and how we can find in the scriptures all we need to live out our lives as Christian people in an increasingly secular and hostile society.

You will find here resource material on the Old and New Testaments, the Bible readings and themes for Sunday morningĎs sermons and the material we will be using for weekly group studies as these become available.

We hope you will find this material of help as you too study the scriptures and we pray that you will find in Godís Word, the "gift of life".

Sermon Notes

Ash Wednesday 06/02/08       Introduction to the Old Testament

Sunday 10/02/08           Genesis 12 v 1-9     The call of Abraham

Sunday 17/02/08           Jeremiah 23 v 1-8   Promise and renewal

Sunday 24/02/08           Mark 1 v 1-20         Jesusí ministry begins

Sunday 02/03/08           Luke 2 v 41-52        Godís plan for each one of us

Sunday 09/03/08           Acts 9 v 1-22           The conversion of Saul


Group Bible Study Notes

Week 1 - beginning 10/02/08    Exodus 19 v 1-15     God establishes His covenant with Israel

Week 2 - beginning 17/02/08    Psalm 110                 The enthronement of the king       

Week 3 - beginning 24/02/08    Matthew 4 v 1-11    The temptations of Christ

Week 4 - beginning 03/03/08    Romans 4                  Why Abraham was righteous before God?


Further Resources

Taking the Bible seriously isn't just for Lent, it should be for every day and there are lots of resources available to help you, especially Bible reading notes and commentaries (or books about particular books of the Bible). If you have never used any of these, why not try one of the following:


Bible reading notes

SCRIPTURE UNION (all dated and issued quarterly)

  • Daily Bread (also Large Print) 
  • Encounter with God

(Both the above also available electronically for laptop and/or PDA) 

  • Closer to God
  • WordAlive - Daily Bible reading and Prayers online and free - see 

(all dated and bi-monthly and available electronically)

  • Every Day with Jesus (also available in Large Print) 
  • Cover to Cover Everyday
  • Lucas on Life Everyday
  • Inspiring Women Everyday
  • Mettle (14-18years old)


  • New Daylight (also available in Large Print)
  • Guidelines
  • Day by Day with God




  • `The Bible Speaks Today' is the name of a series, with volumes covering many of the books of the Bible and some of its important themes. (Publisher: IVP)

  • '...for EVERYONE' is the name of a series of guides to the New Testament being written by Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham. (Publisher: SPCK.)
  • The People's Bible Commentary (Bible Reading Fellowship) 

  • The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Publisher: IVP) 

  • The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Publisher: IVP)


Other Reference resources that might help

The New Lion Handbook to the Bible                             David & Pat Alexander (Publisher: Lion Hudson)

Introducing the Old Testament
Introducing the New Testament                                      
John Drane (Publisher: Lion Hudson)

How to read the Bible for all its worth
How to read the Bible book by book   
                             Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart (Publisher: Zondervan)

Cover to Cover - Complete                                               Selwyn Hughes & Trevor Partridge (Publisher: CWR)

New Bible Dictionary                                                         I H Marshall (editor) (Publisher: IVP)















Sermon Notes


Ash Wednesday  -  Introduction to the Old Testament    

Guest Speaker: Martin Davie        Introduction to the Old Testament     (244 Kb pdf file)

[ Back to Summary ]



Sunday 10/2/08     Genesis 12 v 1-9 - The call of Abraham

Who are the main characters in the story?

God and a man from Haran, in what is now Turkey, called Abraham

Where does it come in the Bible?

After the story of the creation and the fall in Genesis 1-3 and the story of how the human race goes from bad to worse thereafter in Genesis 4-11.

How does it fit into Godís big story?

It marks a key turning point in the Old Testament and the Bible as a whole. After the fall, things have all gone badly for the human race, but with Abraham, Godís rescue plan kicks in. The call of Abraham marks the beginning of Godís creation of Israel, Godís chosen people and from Israel, humanly speaking, comes Jesus, the one in whom Godís rescue of humanity finally and definitively takes place.

What does the passage say to us today?

  • God doesnít give up on us but has a plan to save us.
  • God chooses unlikely people to be involved in his plan.
  • What we are called to do is to be willing to turn our back on the past, and everything that gives us security, and walk with God into a future that is unknown to us, but known to Him, trusting that He knows what He is doing.

Questions to ponder

If we havenít heard God speaking to us lately, is it because God has stopped talking or because we havenít made time to listen to Him?

What is the equivalent for you of Godís call to Abraham to give up everything he knew to move to an unknown land?

What excuses do you make to yourself for not obeying Godís call?

How convincing are they?

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Sunday 17/2/08     Jeremiah 23 v 1-8 - Promise, Renewal & Kingship

Who are the main characters in the story?

God - speaking through Jeremiah, a prophet of the Lord.

Where does it come in the Bible?

Jeremiah was a prophet in Judah, the southern kingdom that had its capital at Jerusalem and was ruled by the descendants of David. He was declaring God's message to the kings of Judah immediately before the fall of Jerusalem (586BC) when they were taken by Nebuchadnezzar to be in exile in Babylon.

How does it fit into God's big story?

These words from God make clear that his judgement, though terrible, was not to be his last word or final act in history.

In response to kings whose actions led to the scattering of God's people, he himself will act to gather people again under godly leadership -and will thereby fulfil his promises in the covenant with David.

What does the passage say to us today?

  • God's care and promise remain, even when we turn from him.
  • God will act himself in order to keep his promises.
  • God is concerned about our immediate and long-term relationship with him.

Questions to ponder

How do you respond to the sense of judgement in this passage, especially since ideas of judgement are unpopular in our present society?

Have you experienced God's actions to help you in practical ways?

Have you ever used these experiences to talk to other people about your Faith?

During this week, look out for the signs of God's actions. Look out for opportunities to share them with other people. How does it feel to talk to others like this?

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Sunday 24/2/08     Mark 1 v 1-20 - The birth, baptism and temptation of Jesus 
                                                     and the call of the first disciples

Who are the main characters in the story?

The prophecy of Isaiah                     John the Baptist
Jesus                                                 Satan
Simon, Andrew, James & John

Where does it come in the Bible?

The gospel according to Mark was probably the first gospel to be written between AD 55 and AD 65, perhaps by John Mark who accompanied Paul on his first missionary journeys (Acts 13 v 13).

How does it fit into God's big story?

The author of Mark's gospel sets the person and ministry of Jesus as being the whole purpose of time and creation.

The fast-paced narrative draws us into what will turn out to be "the greatest story ever told", beginning with a reassurance to the Jewish people that the prophecies of Isaiah have at last come true. The long-awaited Messiah who will save God's people is introduced in verse one as being no less than "the Son of God". In the original manuscripts of Mark's gospel there are no actual sightings of the risen Jesus, the story ends with the wonder of the empty tomb. In slightly later versions, Jesus' appearances to the disciples and His commissioning of them is recounted in just 11 verses.

This lack of emphasis on Jesus' post-resurrection ministry seems to indicate that the writer wanted to draw us into a face-to-face relationship with the human Jesus, experiencing him just as the twelve disciples first experienced him. By studying Mark's gospel we do not just hear about Jesus but we are able to get to know Him personally for ourselves, experiencing all of the confusion, mystery and, above all, joy that a relationship with Him brings.

What does the passage say to us today?

  • God does not abandon His people. In His own perfect timing He prepared the world to receive Jesus and through belief and trust in Him we will all receive eternal life.
  • God's plans for His world have always involved people - often the most unlikely of people. His plans for our world today involve us. We shouldn't be surprised and we shouldn't deny the many gifts that He has bestowed upon us to do His will.
  • Again in God's perfect timing, we are all being prepared to receive and to respond to Jesus. He will not call us until He has prepared us to go - but when He does call, it means that the time is right and we are to be ready to follow.

Questions to ponder

Mark's gospel introduces a sense of urgency and excitement.

  • What is it that makes the gospel message so urgent and exciting?

In our passage John the Baptist, Simon, Andrew, James and John responded to a calling that appears to us as being very clear, however, at the time they will no doubt have wrestled with all of the fears and temptations that we do.

  • Was their own situation really any different from ours?
  • If, like us, they faced fears and temptations what was it that made them willing to respond nonetheless to their call from Jesus?
  • When we are trying to explore our own sense of calling and purpose, do we seek help?
  • Do we ask for prayer for support, try to work things out for ourselves, or simply ignore God's call and think that we know ourselves better than He does?
  • If we are reluctant to seek help, or try to ignore God's call, what are the reasons for this?


[ Back to Summary ]



Sunday 09/03/08    Acts 9 v 1-22  -  The conversion of Saul


Who are the main characters in the story?

God, Saul and Ananias (and Barnabas - small role but crucial)

Where does it come in the Bible?

After the foundation of the church on the day of Pentecost.
As part of the spread of the Good News from Jerusalem, first to Judea and Samaria and then to the rest of the Roman world.

How does it fit into God's big story?

It marks a key turning point in the fulfillment of God's promise to bring the blessing of Abraham to all the nations (and not just the Jews).

It marks the coming to faith of one of the major players in God's plan: namely Paul, someone who was to be a significant leader in the Early Church and the writer of most of the New Testament.

What does the passage say to us today?

  • God doesn't give up on us but has a plan to save us.
  • God chooses unlikely people to be involved in his plan.
  • God expects those he calls to be obedient in responding. (See Ananias in Acts chapter 9 v 10-19)


Questions to ponder

Have you encountered the risen Jesus and let him change your life? If you have, why not tell your story to someone you know well this week?

What gifts and talents has God given you that he wants you to use in his service?

Do- you know the particular part God wants you to play in his plans at the moment? If so, what are you doing about it? If not, what could you do to find out?






Study Material for Weekly Home- group meetings


Week 1 - beginning 10/02/08      Study notes for Exodus 19 v 1-15     
                                                         God establishes His covenant with Israel


A     The book of Exodus has 3 main sections:

  1. Divine Redemption (chapters 1-18)
  2. Covenant at Sinai (chapters19-24)
  3. Divine Worship (chapters 25-40)

B     How does Exodus 19: 1-15 fit into the Ďbig pictureí of the Bible?

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy give a continuous account of the early dealings between God and his people, and are often referred to as the Pentateuch.

In Genesis, the main characters are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and by the end of the book, the people are working as slaves in Egypt.

As Exodus begins, the new leader (Moses) is born and, though one of the Hebrew people, is brought us in the household of Pharaohís daughter. Godís call to him to lead the people out of Egypt begins at the burning bush in Exodus chapter 3. After many difficulties with Pharaoh and the ten plagues, Moses leads the people out of Egypt and into the desert until they reach Sinai (Exodus chapter 19) and the terms of the covenant between God and his people become clearer.

Questions to think about and discuss

A     Understanding the context Ė The Old Testament resource booklet will help here

  1. What type of literature (genre) are we reading?
  2. How does the genre affect how we should approach and understand the passage?
  3. Are there particular links with other parts of the Bible that might help us think about this passage? [Your Bible may have useful footnotes or cross-references to help with this.]

B     Applying the message

  1. Can you identify:
    1. Parts that are clearly specifically relevant to the original context?
    2. Abiding principles relevant for us today?
  2. Can you identify 2 or 3 significant elements of Godís relationship with Moses and the people?
  3. How can we apply these principles (identified from question 2) in our own lives?
  4. What should I/we do now as a result of the thoughts that have been raised?


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Week 2 - beginning 17/02/08        Study Notes for Psalm 110

Background - General

The book of Psalms is Hebrew poetry which became the hymn/prayer book of the Jews.  As we see it now, it is the final stage in a process of collecting and selecting that spanned centuries, and probably took this form in the third century BC.

The whole book of Psalms is divided into five books  (Psalm 1 - 41, 42 - 72, 73 - 89, 90 - 106, 107 - 150), which may be shown in your own Bible.

The Psalms cover many aspects of human experience as well as praise of God and petitions for him to act. It is often said that, however we feel, there will be a psalm that expresses the same emotion and so encourages us to come to God ourselves with complete honesty.

Background Ė Specific

A important psalm that is appealed to again and again in the New Testament to affirm the identity of the Lord Jesus as being identical with the Lordship of God.

It also underlines the fact of his eternal priesthood, see verse 4, a point particularly stressed in Hebrews.

It also elaborates on the promise to King David (2 Samuel 7) that God would use a ruler from the Davidic line to exercise Godís Lordship in the world. (see also Isaiah 11 v 1-9)


Read Psalm 110

1. What are your first thoughts/questions? 
    Can you detect any shape or pattern that might help in understanding the psalm?

    NOTE: The psalm has two sections, v 1-3 & 4-7, each beginning with a statement about God (v 1 & v 4) which is
    expanded on in the following verses. So, verses 2 & 3 elaborate on verse 1 and verse 5, 6 & 7 elaborate on verse 4.

2. Does your Bible have any footnotes or cross-references that might help in understanding the psalm?

    NOTE: Look up the following references.

    Verse 1 is quoted in Matthew 22 v 44, Mark 12 v 36, Luke 20 v 42, Acts 2 v 34, Hebrews 1 v 13.
    Verse 4 is quoted in Hebrews 5 v 6, chapter 7 v 15-17 & v 21 and Melchizedek is also mentioned in Genesis 14 v 18
    where it is important to realise that he was both King and priest.

3. How is your initial understanding of the psalm deepened by looking at what the New Testament has to say about it?

4. How do the themes of the psalm fit in to the Ďbig pictureí of Godís dealings with his people?

5. How do you react to the vision of judgment in verses 5 and 6?
Does this trouble you? If so why?

[ Back to Summary ]




Week 3 - beginning 24/02/08        Study Notes for Matthew 4 v 1-11

Background - General

The New Testament begins with four accounts of Jesus' life and ministry; the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Both similarities and distinctive elements become clear when the accounts are compared, most obviously the similarities between Matthew, Mark and Luke and the distinctiveness in style and content of John.

Because of the similarities between the first three Gospels, they are known as the Synoptic Gospels (syn "together with"; optic "seeing"; thus "seeing together").

Matthew, the first of the Gospels, was written by the apostle Matthew who, before following Jesus, was a tax collector. (See Matthew 9 v 9-13, Mark 2 v 14-17, Luke 5 v 27-32, also Matthew 10 v 3, Mark 3 v 18, Luke 6 v 15, Acts 1 v 13) In their gospels, Mark and Luke refer to Matthew as Levi.

Matthew was written in Greek, for Greek-speaking readers, but has more quotations from and allusions to the Old Testament than any other New Testament writer. It seems clear that Matthew's specific purpose was to show to his Jewish readers how Jesus' life and ministry fulfilled Old Testament promises about the Messiah.

Mark 1 v 12-13 and Luke 4 v 1-13 also record Jesus being tempted.


Read Matthew 4 v 1-11

NOTE: The Greek word translated 'tempted' in verse 1 could also be translated 'tested', suggesting a slightly different way of thinking about this passage.

Questions to think about and discuss

  1. Setting the scene - questions to answer briefly
  • What type of literature are we reading?
  • What has happened in the previous chapter?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • Who initiates the encounter?
  • What are your first thoughts/reactions/questions?

2. What elements are repeated in the passage? What do think is important about them?

3. What do you notice about each of Jesus' responses? Where do they come from? (Your Bible may have footnotes to help you here.)

4. See if you can summarise the heart of each temptation. Why were these issues important at the beginning of Jesus' ministry?

5. Jesus was the Son of God. His answers show his priorities.

  • Why was it important for him to be tested?
  • What do you learn from his example?
  • What might you have to change or learn or begin to do in order to follow his example more closely?

6. Look at Deuteronomy 8 v 1-5; Hebrews 2 v 17-18; Hebrews 4 v 14-16. How do these verses shed light on Matthew 4 v 1-11?

Finally - What challenges and encouragements, arising from this study, do you want to remember and act on in the coming week?


[ Back to Summary ]




Week 4 - beginning 02/03/08        Study Notes for Romans 4 


Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 21 of them are letters, written by a number of different early church leaders during the second half of the first century AD. The authors aimed to provide some of the first Christians with teaching and encouragement about their faith in Jesus and how it should influence their thoughts and actions. Many of the letters deal with issues of particular concern to the original recipients but, as part of God's written word, they continue to provide guidance for us as 21st century disciples of Jesus.

The book of Romans is one of the letters written by the apostle Paul. It was probably written in 56 or 57AD and sent to the church in Rome whose members included people from both Gentile and Jewish backgrounds. In this letter, Paul is concerned to explain the central elements of Christian faith as applied to both Jews and Gentiles.

His major themes are summarised in chapter 1 verses 16 and 17 where we meet the word 'righteousness' that is central to much of Paul's argument. For both God and people, `righteousness' involves commitment to the covenant relationship between them, from which right actions (i.e. in accordance with covenant obligations) should flow.

Read Romans 4

Questions to think about and discuss

1. Setting the scene - questions to answer briefly

What type of literature are we reading? 
How might the type of literature influence the way we understand the passage? 
What are your first thoughts/reactions/questions?

2. Look briefly at chapters 1, 2 and 3 and identify Paul's main points. This should help you to understand chapter 4.

3. Why do you think it was important for the Roman Christians (both Jews and Gentiles), to think about Abraham's faith? What do you think is at the heart of Paul's argument in Romans 4?

4. Look at Genesis 15 v 1-6, especially verse 6. How does it help you understand Romans 4, especially verses 3 and 22?

5. How does Paul's teaching in Romans 4 help us understand? 

  • God's dealings with people?
  • our standing before God?
  • the source of our righteousness?
  • our responsibilities to God and to others people?

Finally - What challenges and encouragements, arising from this study, do you want to remember and act on in the coming week?


[ Back to Summary ]