Household Codes – September 28, 2019

Isaiah 54.1-57.14; Ephesians 6.1-24; Psalm 70.1-5; Proverbs 24.8

The writers of ancient literature would often times categorize people into grouping so as to give instruction to these specific collections of people. To fathers, one set of instructions; to the mothers, another, etc. Here is Ephesians, Paul does the same thing, giving instructions to the various members of the household (hence: household codes). How do you see these instructions applying to you and what “codes” or instructions are needed for your household?

Questions:

How are we just and fair to all, doing what is right and good? Why is this such a rare trait in today’s world?

Why is obeying parents such an often talked about topic in Scripture?

How have you found joy and gladness in your search for God?

How do we identify those who do evil as troublemakers?

Like a Lamb… – September 27, 2019

Isaiah 51.1-53.12; Ephesians 5.1-33; Psalm 69.19-36; Proverbs 24.7

This section of Isaiah (especially chapter 53) contains many references that we have heard before, most often as descriptions of Jesus and his sacrifice for us. As you read through this passage, how is your understanding of Jesus as a sacrifice for us changed or is strengthened, given the full context described by Isaiah?

Questions:

In what ways is the start of Isaiah 51 the Hebrew equivalent of The Lion King’s “Remember who you are”?

“Imitate God.” How is that even possible?

Have you ever felt like no one–no one–would show you pity? What did you do in that circumstance?

Why is wisdom too lofty for fools?

The Power of God – September 26, 2019

Isaiah 48.12-50.11; Ephesians 4.17-32; Psalm 69.1-18; Proverbs 24.5-6

For many of us, there is no question that God is Sovereign. We consider him the Almighty and no one or no thing has power over him. If that is the case, why do we often turn to our own devices or substitutes (the Bible would call these things idols) to provide us the power we think we need in difficult times in our lives? Why would we not just trust in the power of God?

Questions:

“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.” Do we think this? How do our actions demonstrate this to be true … or not?

How does the Spirit renew our thoughts or actions?

In what ways do we understand our prayers differently when we realize we are praying to the God of unfailing love?

In what ways are people who are wise mightier than those who are strong?

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?