2 Kings 17.1-18.12; Acts 20.1-38; Psalm 148.1-14; Proverbs 18.6-7
When you read through the Old Testament, you hear the people of God ask a repeated question: Why is all of this happening to us, Lord? Why are we being conquered and taken off into exile? Why do we not get to continue as a great nation, like we were when David was king? You also discover an answer, which we find in our reading today: “This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods.” Why do you think the people of Israel had such a hard time making a connection between the cause and the effect?
Why do you think the lions ate the foreign settlers who did not worship God?
Paul’s work of sharing faith with others included encouraging them, going back through places he had been a following up with those who had believed his message. Why is this encouragement such an important part of a growing relationship with God?
How do all of the things mentioned in Psalm 148 praise God, including those things that do not have a voice? What does this tell us about what it means to praise God?
Do you think fools are really asking for a beating? In what ways is this true?
2 Kings 15.1-16.20; Acts 19.13-41; Psalm 147.1-20; Proverbs 18.4-5
The Seven Sons of Sceva story has stuck with me ever since I heard a speaker say: “When you flee the beating naked, you know you have been whooped.” More important than the crazy image of these guys running away is the fact that they attempted to “borrow” or “hijack” (or whatever other term you might want to use) the name of Jesus. It would seem they are doing good–casting out evil spirits–but something about doing it in the name of Jesus was a problem. Could it have been they were using God’s power for their own purposes? In what ways do we use Jesus to attempt to accomplish our own objectives?
Why do you think all of the kings of Israel were unable or unwilling to tear down the pagan shrines and altars?
What things would need to happen in your city in order for the name of the Lord to be feared?
What does the Lord delight in? How is your life delightful to him?
How are wise words like deep waters?
2 Kings 13.1-14.29; Acts 18.23-19.12; Psalm 146.1-10; Proverbs 18.2-3
We probably all have that friend who no matter what the topic or the situation in which it is brought up, always has something to say. Most of the time, they do not even move the conversation forward, they just need to get their own comment in, to feel like they have somehow participated in the discussion. How do we keep from being “that guy?”
Is it surprising to you that God still remembers the covenant made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? What does this tell us about God and his promises?
How do we ensure we are creating 2nd generation disciples, that is, the people we share our faith with are doing the same with others?
In what ways do we put our confidence in powerful people, at times more than we do so in God?
Why do you think people would agree with the idea that doing wrong leads to disgrace? In what ways would they disagree with this statement?
2 Kings 10.32-12.21; Acts 18.1-22; Psalm 145.1-21; Proverbs 18.1
All throughout Scripture we have examples of the people forgetting God from generation to generation. It does not take long for a people to forget their story, the place from which they came, without plenty of conversation with those who follow, reminding them of the importance of God. How have you told the next generation about God and your faith in him today?
What do you think was going through Joash’s mind as he is named king at the ripe old age of seven?
What can we learn about how to share the good news of Jesus with others when we discover that Paul worked as a tentmaker in addition to preaching the gospel?
What reasons can you share as to why the Lord is great and worthy of praise?
Is it true that unfriendly people think only of themselves? Why or why not?
2 Kings 9.14-10.31; Acts 17.1-34; Psalm 144.1-15; Proverbs 17.27-28
…and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Sounds much like our proverb for today, doesn’t it? Too often people spend much of their time talking and not enough time listening. How can your silence be used to demonstrate wisdom, versus your speaking revealing foolishness?
In what ways does wickedness prevent peace from happening?
Does discussing the latest ideas translate into following them? How can our discussions lead to a better sense of following Jesus?
Describe the picture you see here in the psalm when the writer says “open the heavens and come down.”
Who is that person in your life that has very few words to say, yet the words he or she does say are so, so powerful? How can you be more like this person?
2 Kings 8.1-9.13; Acts 16.16-40; Psalm 143.1-12; Proverbs 17.26
When you first read it, the prophecy of Elisha to Hazael makes no sense. King Ben-hadad will live, but he will die. OK Elisha, which is it? I wonder if Hazael knew down in his heart his plan, that he would be the one who fulfilled Elisha’s prophecy that Ban-hadad would recover, but also die? How do you think Elisha felt sharing this prophecy with the one who would make its disastrous end come to pass?
Why do you think the young prophet was to open the door and run for his life?
What customs were Paul and his companions teaching that were contrary to Jewish law? Why are rumors such a powerful weapon against those who advocate for something different than what we like?
How do you remember to follow God when he seems far, far away?
Who flogs people for being good? Why would they do such a thing?
2 Kings 6.1-7.20; Acts 15.36-16.15; Psalm 142.1-7; Proverbs 17.24-25
The story of the lepers exploring the camp of the Arameans is one of my most favorite stories in all of scripture. If you know anything about people with leprosy, you know how marginalized and outcast they were. No one would have given a second look to this group as they passed by outside the gates of the city. Yet, when these four discovered the deserted camp just waiting to be plundered … instead of keeping it to themselves (a logical thing to do), they shared it with those inside the city. You have been given the surprise gift of salvation, how well do you share it?
What is significant about the story of the floating ax head?
How do you think people would have described Timothy, given that he was someone Paul wanted to bring along on his missionary journey? What would it take for you to be described in a similar fashion?
Do you ever feel like your enemies are continually setting traps for you? What is your response to this feeling?
What does the proverb writer mean when he writes “a fool’s eyes wanders?”
2 Kings 4.18-5.27; Acts 15.1-35; Psalm 141.1-10; Proverbs 17.23
Naaman is an example of the danger of a prideful spirit. Asked to do one simple thing, it is all Naaman can do to actually do what he has been asked to do, even though he really has no choice but to follow the instructions he has been given if he wants to get well. How often does our pride prevent us from following God in sometimes simple ways? What things can we do to “get over ourselves?”
How do the stories of Elisha’s actions help solidify him as a prophet of God, doing great things for Him?
What are ways we make it difficult for those who do not know Jesus to follow him? How can we make it easier for them to do so?
Pray this prayer today: “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips.”
How can you work to prevent justice from being perverted?
2 Kings 3.1-4.17; Acts 14.8-28; Psalm 140.1-13; Proverbs 17.22
Why would the people Lystra have thought Paul and Barnabas were gods? Does this seem like a logical conclusion for them to make? In what ways do we assume people have power that we might celebrate, thinking it might be the power of God?
In what ways do we see God still loving his people even when they do not fully follow him?
If you had been stoned and left for dead, similar to Paul in today’s story, what would your next move have been? How does your move compare to what Paul actually did?
How often do we cry out: God rescue me from evil people? Why should we cry this more?
How has someone’s cheerful heart proven to be good medicine for you?
2 Kings 1.1-2.25; Acts 13.42-14.7; Psalm 139.1-24; Proverbs 17.19-21
Ahaziah needs some advice, but doesn’t know where to turn. He is injured and needs someone to tell him whether he will survive his injuries. Surely, any prophet would do, right? Why would Ahaziah not ask the prophet of God? Why do we, when we find ourselves in some sort of trouble, try to find any other solution rather than turn to God?
Perhaps it is not the most theologically significant story in the Bible, but there is something oddly satisfying about the story of Elisha and the bears, isn’t there? Why do you think the writer included this story?
How does God prove the power of our message to others?
Do you find God’s awareness of you, as described in today’s psalm, comforting or disconcerting? Why is this the case? How can we find more comfort in this truth?
Why do you think the writer of today’s proverb says that those who love to quarrel loves sin?