Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35–39, NIV)
This may be one of the most cherished questions in all of Scripture: Who can separate us from the love of Christ? No one, of course!
Why do you think so many people have a hard time understand that God loves them, instead thinking God is “out to get them?”
What does it mean to be a conqueror? How does the love of God help us conquer?
In what ways do you assume something or someone can separate you from God’s love? How can you live differently now that you have read this passage?
The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24–26, NIV)
What is known as the “Priestly Blessing,” these words from God, to Moses, to the priests to give strength to the people. How important is such a blessing from God to you?
What does it mean to be “kept” by God? How does this help you face the challenges of today?
How important is it for you to know that God is the one to give you peace? In what ways have you seen his peace in your life?
How can you say a word of blessing to others, drawing them closer to God through that blessing?
We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20, NIV)
“God is our help & shield.”
Why is waiting such a difficult thing for us to do? How does having hope help that time of waiting become easier?
In what ways does the Lord give you hope?
Make a list of the ways God has been both your help and your shield.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (Mark 1:35–39, NIV)
Someone once said the greatest single argument in favor of prayer is this: Jesus prayed.
How does the start of Jesus’ day compare to the typical start of your day? In what ways might you make your day more like Jesus’?
What do you sense Simon’s thinking was in trying to find Jesus? What was most important to him? What was most important to Jesus?
How are prayer and “preaching” related? What might you pray to better help you share the message of Jesus with others?
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13–16, NIV)
Like salt and light, what ways are you bringing change into the world around you?
Why do people use salt? In what ways do you sense your life “seasons” those around you for God?
How have you seen a little bit of light, that is, just a small act of kindness or love for someone else, change them in big, powerful, and perhaps even unimaginable ways?
How can you shine your light on others today?
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9–14, NIV)
“Speaks of God’s will and guides for holy living”
Who prays for you that you would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will? Who do you pray this prayer for?
What reasons do you have to give “joyful thanks?”
How is your life different knowing that God has rescued you and brought you into his kingdom? In what ways do you share this with others?
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:1–8, NIV)
It is hard not to have a sense of awe and wonder when you read this chapter. How do you think you would have reacted to a calling like this?
What image do you have of God? How do you think a “face-to-face” encounter would be?
What does it mean for God to be holy? In what ways have you seen or experienced his holiness?
What sort of response do you make to God’s call for you to be a messenger for him? How can you respond with even more enthusiasm?
1 Peter 2.9-10
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9–10, NIV)
How does it feel to be chosen by God?
To be chosen by God to be holy means to be set apart for him. How does your understanding of his love for you change when you know he chose you for himself?
In what ways have you experienced the mercy of God? How can you show that mercy to others?
What praises can you declare to others today about God?
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:36–50, NIV)
How do we think about people who are “sinful?” Do we see people like Jesus does?
How do you think we would react if someone came into one of our times of worship whom we knew to be a “sinner?” Why do we tend to react in negative ways toward such people?
How have you been forgiven? How often do you stop to recognize–and thank God–for that forgiveness?
In what ways can we demonstrate love towards those who are seeking his forgiveness, even if they have lived lives outside of what we might consider “decent moral behavior?”
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29, NIV)
There is always a tension in this verse between what really qualifies as unwholesome if we are willing to compare it to the things that we say that help build people up.
What sort of things do you think Paul might be meaning here when he talks about “unwholesome” talk? How broad of a perspective do you think he means?
What sort of talk builds you up? How often do you talk this way to others?
What can you do to help others through the words you say to them?