A Gift – September 23, 2019

Isaiah 41.17-43.13; Ephesians 2.1-22; Psalm 67.1-7; Proverbs 23.29-35

We live in a world that rewards those who work hard. An independent spirit and the desire (and ability) to pull oneself up by one’s own bootstraps are at times idolized or celebrated as the ideal characteristics of good member of society. The problem is that when we begin to approach our faith and following God with this same attitude, we actually prevent ourselves from coming to him. Our salvation is God’s masterpiece. We can’t do enough to gain it, not can we create it for ourselves. We can only accept that God has given it to us. How do you celebrate the gift of God’s grace in your life?

Questions:

How often do you give credit to God for the things he has done, versus just assuming his good things are “life per normal?”

How difficult is it for you to understand you were dead to your sins, especially if your life has never been full of sin?

Today, may God be merciful and bless us. May his face smile with favor on us.

Summarize today’s reading from Proverbs in a sentence. Why do you think this issue was so important to the proverb writer?

Tower of Refuge – September 17, 2019

Isaiah 25.1-28.13; Galatians 3.10-22; Psalm 61.1-8; Proverbs 23.17-18

In a world that was filled with individuals or bands of people who would raid neighboring villages, a tower of refuge stood tall, a symbol of protection and security. All throughout scripture, but especially in this passage from Isaiah, we get a picture of God being the one who protects those who need such a refuge, people who have no other recourse. How has God been a tower of refuge for you when you needed it most?

Questions:

Why does it seem odd that Isaiah starts this reading with words of praise for the “wonderful things” God has done, yet all of the surrounding texts have spoken of doom and gloom?

Describe a time that you were aware you were a prisoner of sin, yet free through the power of Jesus.

How does it feel to be sheltered under God’s wings?

The proverb writer tells us not to envy sinners, but why is this so easy to do, at times? What can we do to help us NOT envy them?

I’ve Been Crucified… – September 16, 2019

Isaiah 22.1-24.23; Galatians 2.17-3.9; Psalm 60.1-12; Proverbs 23.15-16

“I have been crucified and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2.20) How can you live in such a way as to claim this verse as your own?

Questions:

How often does our world fall apart around us, yet we never humble ourselves and ask God for his help? How can we be sure this is our first response, not the one that happens after all other options have been exhausted?

In what ways is it a word of comfort for you that the children of Abraham are not determined by biological link, but by belief in Christ?

What circumstances in your life cause you to cry out to God for rescue? How has God responded?

Celebrate a time when your child–either a biological child or a child of faith–showed a wise heart.

Faith or Works? – September 15, 2019

Isaiah 19.1-21.17; Galatians 2.1-16; Psalm 59.1-17; Proverbs 23.13-14

As Paul writes to the church in Galatia, one of their actions is the cause for him to write some of the strongest criticism we see in any of his writings: They are turning away from the gospel of Jesus Christ. It would appear that the main sticking point for Paul is the idea that one needs something more than Jesus in order find salvation in God. To Paul, any salvation you have to work for, that is, any salvation that requires certain actions to be considered an “insider” means that you have no need for Jesus. Obviously, this cannot be the case. Why was it so difficult for the Galatians to believe that their faith in Jesus Christ to redeem them was enough for salvation? Why is it at times difficult for us to do the same?

Questions:

How would you have liked to have been told by God to walk around naked and barefoot in order to communicate a message to His people? What is the most awkward manner of message delivering you have encountered?

Why do you think Paul spent as much time as he did explaining his “backstory” to the Galatian people?

What helps you “sing of God’s power” even in the midst of attacks from your enemies?

How does physical discipline save individuals from death?

Approved by God or Man? – September 14, 2019

Isaiah 15.1-18.7; Galatians 1.1-24; Psalm 58.1-11; Proverbs 23.12

For many of us, we have a strong desire to live lives that God wants us to live. Our desire is to please him and that remains our steadfast focus … until the pressures of living that life becomes crossways with the desires and approval of people around us. While we certainly do not WANT to seek man’s approval over God’s, it can be difficult for us to actually do so in the stress of “real life.” Why is this the case and what can we do to avoid seeking to please those around us more than God?

Questions:

Why does it take complete destruction of a nation or for people to hit rock bottom before they turn to their Creator?

Why do you think the letter to the Galatians lacks any sort of formal thanksgiving, which is a part of every other letter of Paul’s?

Do you know the meaning of the word “justice?” How does your life demonstrate that you do?

In what ways do you make sure you are committing yourself to receiving instruction from God?

Here am I, Send Me! – September 10, 2019

Isaiah 6.1-7.25; 2 Corinthians 11.16-33; Psalm 54.1-7; Proverbs 23.1-3

The calling of Isaiah is one of the incredible stories of the Old Testament prophets. What is most amazing is Isaiah’s response: In spite of his fear and uncertainty, he simply tells God to send him. How do you respond to God’s calling of you today?

Questions:

What sort of vision would God have to send you for you to pay attention to his calling of you?

How does Paul’s autobiography listed here give you an indication about his commitment to his task to share the good news with others? How does it affect how you view your own calling?

In what ways has God been your helper?

What is it advisable to not be a big eater when dining with a king?

Looking for the Wise – September 9, 2019

Isaiah 3.1-5.30; 2 Corinthians 11.1-15; Psalm 53.1-6; Proverbs 22.28-29

What do you think God would find if he looked down from heaven on the human race, seeking anyone who is wise? Would he find people who seek him? In what ways do you seek him?

Questions:

Why does the prophecy of Isaiah up to this point seem so destructive? Does this seem inconsistent with how you view God?

In what ways do people today put up with whatever anyone tells them?

Why would someone say there is no God?

What do you think the proverb writer means when he writes about “truly competent workers?”