Numbers 32.1-33.39; Luke 4.31-5.11; Psalm 64.1-10; Proverbs 11.22
I often wonder what we would do if Jesus walked in the door today? While I certainly believe we have open access to a relationship with God, I have my suspicions that we would not walk over and give him a high five. Instead, like Simon, I think we would hit the floor, for we are sinful people. In the presence of deity, our sinfulness seems that much greater, doesn’t it? How are you addressing the sinfulness in your life as you come before God today?
A list of the places the Israelites had traveled can only mean the journey is drawing to a close. How do you think the Israelites feel, camped along the Jordan River overlooking the Promised Land?
What implications are there for our own ministry when we read that Jesus insisted that he had to go to other towns to preach?
Who are the enemies you seek protection from? How does your list compare to the enemies of the psalmist?
What can you say … have discretion. How have you seen a lack of discretion render someone helpless and pointless, like gold in a pig’s nose?
Numbers 30.1-31.54; Luke 4.1-30; Psalm 63.1-11; Proverbs 11.20-21
What is God obligated to do for you? I know, the question probably makes you uncomfortable. It’s a little too direct for our liking. Yet many of us have some sort of idea as to what following God will do for us. We have expectations about the role of Jesus in our lives, just like the Jewish people did about the Messiah. For many of them, they assumed they would receive great reward. Imagine their surprise when the Good News was for the poor, the captives, the blind, etc. How have you seen the Good News of Jesus impact those who need it most, versus those who have it all together?
Why was God so concerned about Israel fully defeating the Midianites?
What reasons might the people in Nazareth have given as to why they were so upset about Jesus’ mention of the widow of Zarephath?
How do you earnestly search for God?
What things do you do to keep your integrity intact?
Numbers 28.16-29.40; Luke 3.23-38; Psalm 62.1-12; Proverbs 11.18-19
One easy way to understand what God is saying in Psalm 62 when he writes “wait quietly” is to think of a child right before Christmas. They can hardly keep still, they are so excited. Everything in them is awash with movement, longing for that moment when they can open their presents. In fact, they may even go so far as to try and peek at the present or at the very least, shake it to so they can determine what is inside. This is NOT the picture of waiting on the Lord. How do you picture someone waiting quietly before God?
Why do you think the people of Israel needed this reminder (see Leviticus 23) about the ways the Feasts were to be performed?
Why is our lineage so important? Why was it important for Luke to include Jesus’ lineage?
How have you received honor because of following God?
In what ways has God brought you life?
Numbers 26.52-28.15; Luke 3.1-22; Psalm 61.1-8; Proverbs 11.16-17
As we continue to follow the story of God’s people Israel, we will soon discover that leadership is an important part of their successes or failures. I think it is significant that Moses, upon hearing he would die soon, is concerned that God give the people a new leader. How well do we plan for leaders of faith in our lives? How can we do a better job of this?
No one on the census of individuals we read yesterday was on the previous census taken before the people wandered the wilderness. Based on what you know about the story of Israel, what should we expect to happen next to the people?
What do John’s responses to the people’s questions of “What should we do…” tell you about what it means to follow Jesus?
How would God’s leading you to “the towering rock” look today? What situations are happening in your life where you need to allow him to lead you and provide you safety?
How have you shown kindness to someone today?
Numbers 26.1-51; Luke 2.36-52; Psalm 60.1-12; Proverbs 11.15
Someone I know, when talking about important decisions or struggles he is facing, admits that he often says to God: “This is a big one, Lord, you better let me handle it.” In what ways do you do the same? And how do we move to a place where we can say to God: “Please help us … human help is useless”?
What significance is there to the fact that we have a whole chapter recording a census of the people of Israel? How does this help us as we work to be better followers of Jesus?
We know Jesus was found at age 12 visiting with the teachers of the law (who were amazed at his understanding, by the way). What other events do you think Mary faced while raising the Son of God that caused her to have to pause and reflect on who her son really was?
How does God’s holiness help give you comfort to rely on his promises?
Why would putting up deposit for a stranger’s debt be a concern for people trying to follow God?
Numbers 24.1-25.18; Luke 2.1-35; Psalm 59.1-17; Proverbs 11.14
Have you ever had one of those “mountaintop” experiences? A moment when your faith and God’s glory seemed to connect in a way that exceeded your everyday ordinary moments? And you never wanted that moment or that experience to end, for fear that joy would go away? It is interesting that the shepherds, after hearing from the heavenly host and after checking out this new-born Messiah for themselves, simply go back to their flocks, praising God. How have you spent your ordinary day today full of praise for an extraordinary God?
Who are people in your life that are ones who hear the words of God and share them with you? How can you listen to them more?
How do you think you would have reacted to Simeon’s blessing had you been Mary or Joseph?
In what ways have you relied on the “unfailing love” of God to sustain you, especially when you were being attacked by your enemies?
Do you have many advisors, who lead you in the way of the Lord? Who else can you include in your list of Godly, wise leaders?
Numbers 22.21-23.30; Luke 1.57-80; Psalm 58.1-11; Proverbs 11.12-13
Let’s see if we can follow this story. Balaam’s donkey runs him into a wall and lays down beneath him. As a result, Balaam gets mad and beats the donkey, who wants to know why he is being beaten. Balaam replies to the talking donkey: “You made me look like a fool.” Balaam is having a conversation with a donkey. Who made who look like a fool?
Describe a time in your life when you felt powerless to do anything against the will of God – when you could only answer in a manner consistent with God’s message. What brought about this experience?
When Zecariah’s son John was born, Zechariah sings in praise because of the wonderful things God has done. What would your song today contain that describes the good things God has done in your life?
Have you ever wanted to cry out to God: Break off their fangs! What situation caused this and how did this situation resolve itself?
When have you been sensible and kept quiet?
Numbers 21.2-22.20; Luke 1.26-56; Psalm 57.1-11; Proverbs 11.9-11
The story of Balaam provides us an opportunity to better understand what it means to be a prophet for God. While I would not claim we have the same status as a prophet like him, I do think we each have an opportunity to speak words from God to others. When we do, are we going to speak the words they want to hear, or are we going to speak a true word from the Lord?
Would you consider yourself “powerless” to do anything against the will of the Lord? What would it take for us to be in a place where we feel this way?
How well do you think we would respond to the news Mary received? Are we willing to say: “I am the Lord’s servant?”
How does God fulfill his purposes in you?
When have you seen a city celebrate because of the godly succeeding?
Numbers 19.1-20.19; Luke 1.1-25; Psalm 56.1-13; Proverbs 11.8
Given the amount of frustration the people of Israel caused Moses, given their constant grumbling and complain, and given that Moses previously made water come out of a rock by striking it, don’t we have some sense of sympathy for Moses here? What would you have done? I’m not so sure I wouldn’t have done the same thing Moses did. Yet God expects our trust in him–in His goodness and his power. We do not have to demonstrate our own strength, but point to the power that resides in Him. Do we trust Him enough to allow Him to act on our behalf?
How important do you think it was for the role of the high priest to be “formally’ handed over to Eleazar? Why do you think this is the case?
This is the third beginning of the story of Jesus we have read. What is similar to the other stories? What is different?
Twice in Psalm 56 the psalmist writes: “I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?” Do you trust in God? What do you fear?
If the godly are rescued from trouble, why do we still have trouble? How do you think the writer of this proverb would have answered this question?
Numbers 16.41-18.32; Mark 16.1-20; Psalm 55.1-23; Proverbs 11.7
Your Bible probably mentions in a note or by using italicized typeface that verses 9-20 of Mark 16 are not in the most reliable of our Bible manuscripts. I think for some, the fact that the women come to the tomb, Jesus is not there, and they leave “trembling and bewildered, and … frightened” just seems like too strange of an ending. Yet, if you have been reading Mark’s gospel closely, it makes perfect sense. In a way, Mark is just identifying the reaction many of us would have had if we found ourselves in these women’s shoes. He also leaves us with an important question: These women ran in fear. What are you going to do?
So let me get this straight. The Lord punishes Israel for grumbling against Moses and Aaron, people are killed over their complaints, and then the very next morning … the people start to complain all over again. What’s wrong with these people?
What does the fact that the women brought spices to anoint Jesus tell us about their understanding of the situation at hand?
“Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you.” (Ps. 55.22) What burdens do you need to give God today?
What is the connection between wickedness and relying on our own strength?