1 Samuel 8.9-9.27; John 6.22-42; Psalm 106.32-38; Proverbs 14.34-35
In what may be the most blatant act of disobedience in scripture, the people of Israel come to Samuel and request an earthly king. This hurts Samuel in a couple of ways. First, it is a rejection of Samuel as their leader. Second, and more importantly, it rejects God as their king. God knows this and tells Samuel: It is not you they are rejecting, but me. How bold do you have to be to reject the creator of the universe as your king? In what ways do we continue to ask for an earthly king, rather than allow God to be our king?
Even after God warns the people of what a king would do to them, they still request a king. What do you think it would have taken for the people of Israel to pause and reflect on what they were really getting in return?
What does Jesus mean when he says he is the bread of life?
How does God gather his people from among the wicked today?
How might godliness make our nation great today?
1 Samuel 5.1-7.17; John 6.1-21; Psalm 106.13-31; Proverbs 14.32-33
Jesus is setting Philip up. He knows there is no way Philip alone can feed all of these people. He actually did not have to resources to feed any of these people, yet Jesus still asks him. With the help of Jesus, however, it could be done. What will it take for you to have faith that you–with the help of Jesus–can accomplish things way beyond what you think you can do?
How do you think you would have reacted if you saw the idol of Dagon face down on the floor?
Why does Jesus always tell his followers to not be afraid in the most frightening situations?
Why do we so quickly forget what God has done for us?
How have you seen “disaster” not be a crushing blow to someone? How has their faith proven to be the difference?
1 Samuel 2.22-4.22; John 5.24-47; Psalm 106.1-12; Proverbs 14.30-31
Imagine if someone began to share with you some ideas that ran counter to how you thought and more importantly, what you had been taught your entire life. Would you be distrustful of him? And now imagine that not only was your thinking being called into question, but you were told that the teacher of these original ideas would show you how wrong you were in holding them. Sounds ludicrous, does’t it? Yet Jesus, by bringing Moses into his argument, does just that. Why did the Jewish people have such a hard time believing that Moses was pointing to Jesus as the Messiah?
Why do you think Eli refused to fully and appropriately address the issue of sinful behavior by his boys?
How have you seen scripture point to Jesus, especially the Old Testament, which is what Jesus would have been referencing here?
How does God’s everlasting love change how you live your own life?
Why does oppressing the poor insult God, our Maker?
1 Samuel 1.1-2.21; John 5.1-23; Psalm 105.37-45; Proverbs 14.28-39
We feel for Hannah. She was a woman who did not have children and was reminded of that fact by her “sister-wife” on a regular basis (who did have children, by the way). Not only that, she is accused by the priest of being drunk while she is praying, of all things. Hannah promises God that she will give a child born to her back to God in a very literal way. For us, this promise may seem somewhat rash, yet aren’t all of us who are parents called to do the same thing? We have our children for a short time and our responsibility is to raise them up in such a way so as to help them follow God. What have you done to give your children back to God?
How do you think Hannah felt about Peninnah? And do you think Peninnah was as big of a jerk as she sounds from our reading?
How much of a reassurance is it for you to hear that God is always working, even on his “days off?”
When has God provided for you even in what felt like the biggest time of wilderness wandering?
How does understanding help someone control his or her temper?
Ruth 2.1-4.22; John 4.43-54; Psalm 105.16-36; Proverbs 14.26-27
If I am going to believe in something you say, I really want some sort of proof that you will actually come through and do what you say you will. It’s the reason we have deposits and contracts and in days gone by, a handshake. What does is take to believe Jesus can do something in your life that you have never seen up to this point?
In what ways was Boaz devoted to God, but also Naomi and Ruth in the story of Ruth?
Why do you think it was unusual for a government official to bring a request to Jesus that he would heal his son?
Why is recounting the things God has done in our lives an important part of building our faith?
What are ways people try to find security in their lives besides fearing the Lord?
Judges 21.1-Ruth 1.22; John 4.4-42; Psalm 105.1-15; Proverbs 14.25
“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” What a powerful, yet terrible, statement. These are the people God had selected to be his chosen nation and yet look at them now! You cannot refuse to submit to a king and assume things will go well. What happens when you refuse to see God as your king and choose to do your own thing instead?
If your name was going to be a description of how you see yourself, what would your name be?
What does Jesus mean when he says we need to worship in spirit and in truth?
Tell someone today about God’s wonderful deeds.
Describe a time when someone said false things about you. How did you react and what was the result?
Judges 19.1-20.48; John 3.22-4.3; Psalm 104.24-35; Proverbs 14.22-24
One of the hardest things there is to do is rejoice in the successes of others, especially when their success is the success you may have been striving for. How do you think it felt to be John the Baptist and see his ministry suddenly affected by the coming of Jesus? What does John’s understanding about his role have to say about how we view our own role in sharing the Good News of Jesus?
What sort of reaction do you have when you read through today’s text from the book of Judges? Why is this the case and how do you think this helps you understand God?
What was the importance of the Pharisees knowing Jesus was gaining more followers than John?
How do you praise the Lord with everything that you are? Are they ways you can praise him more or in more areas of your life?
What has been the result of your plans to do good?
Judges 17.1-18.31; John 3.1-21; Psalm 104.1-23; Proverbs 14.20-21
Our world tends to work under the premise of if you want to be good at something, you learn a lot and work really hard and success comes. (If you have worked hard enough, that is.) Jesus tells Nicodemus that it doesn’t work that way in spiritual life. You may work hard at following Jesus, but it is the Holy Spirit that gives spiritual life. The emphasis therefore is: How well are you letting the Spiritual have control of your life in order to grow?
What sort of ending did you expect from the story of Micah, his idol, and his priests? How does this compare to how this story actually ends?
How does God sending his son Jesus to save the world match your thinking about God and his interaction with his people?
When we read a psalm like today’s, we are celebrating the sovereignty of God, who created all things. How does the truth of God being the creator shape how you view him and his love for you?
Have you ever belittled a neighbor?
Judges 15.1-16.31; John 2.1-25; Psalm 103.1-22; Proverbs 14.17-19
Throughout the gospel of John, Jesus is seen performing miraculous signs which reveal his glory to others. Why were these signs so important for Jesus to be known? What signs do we see from God today that help show his power and glory?
Why does Samson seem so bent on seeking vengeance for every wrong committed against him?
What do you think Jesus means when he tells his mother: My time has not yet come?
What does the psalmist say God has done that is worthy of praise? What would you say he has done?
Why is it bad to be short-tempered?
Judges 13.1-14.20; John 1.29-51; Psalm 102.1-28; Proverbs 14.15-16
Samson wants to take a Philistine wife. Everything about this seems like a really, really poor idea, which of course his parents try to point out to Samson. Everything except the fact that God is at work in this situation to bring about an attack on the Philistines. In what ways does this seem like a really odd way to work?
What was the significance of Samson being singled out as a Nazirite (something he does poorly, by the way)?
What does it mean for Jesus to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?
How does the psalmist contrast his life (and in a sense, our life as well) and the life of God?
The wise are cautious; the foolish plunge ahead. How have you seen this to be true in your life?