Proverbs 17.22 – June 30, 2020

Proverbs 17:22

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

(Proverbs 17:22, NIV)

“It’s true and straight to the point.”

Thought Questions:

What reaction do you have towards those who have a cheerful heart? How do you respond to those who do NOT have such a heart?

In what ways have you seen a crushed spirit dry up bones?

How can you both have a cheerful heart this week and encourage others to do the same?

2 Timothy 3.16-17 – June 29, 2020

2 Timothy 3:16–17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:16–17, NIV)

“Reassurance that everything we see in the Bible is from God.”

Thought Questions:

Why does scripture being “God-breathed” give you comfort and assurance?

In what ways have you seen God’s word be useful for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training”?

In what ways does the word of God equip you for the work you are to do for God this week?

2 Timothy 1.7 – June 25, 2020

2 Timothy 1:7

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV)

Power. Love. Self-discipline. Do these describe your life in Christ?

Thought Questions:

Why do you think some people who believe in God do so with timidity? Why is it easy for us to shrink back, instead of speaking or acting in power, when it comes to our faith?

Do you feel like God has given you a sense of power when it comes to your faith? Why or why not? What might make you understand his power in you more?

What can you do today to act more in a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline?

2 Corinthians 4.4-11 – June 24, 2020

2 Corinthians 4:4–11

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”  made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. (2 Corinthians 4:4–11, NIV)

Where do you keep your treasure? Probably not a clay jar, yet God uses us, weak vessels that we are, for his glory.

Thought Questions:

Why do you think it so difficult for unbelievers to understand the good news of Jesus, especially when it seems to obvious to those who do believe?

In what ways have you seen God’s power do things in your life–through you–that you know could never have been done if it had just been your own power at work?

How does your life demonstrate Jesus Christ?

Psalm 121 – June 21, 2020

Psalm 121:1–8

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth. 

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep. 

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night. 

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

(Psalm 121:1–8, NIV)

“It is a promise of continual strength available to me from God.”

Thought Questions:

Where would you say you most often look for help when your life gets hard?

Why might it be easy for people to assume that the Lord slumbers or perhaps is not interested in the affairs of individuals? How would you answer those who make this claim?

In what ways have you seen the Lord watch over you?

2 Timothy 2.11-13 – June 18, 2020

2 Timothy 2:11–13

Here is a trustworthy saying: 

If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.

(2 Timothy 2:11–13, NIV)

Paul’s second letter to Timothy is in many ways his last will and testament, including trustworthy sayings for Paul’s young follower Timothy to remember.

Thought Questions:

Why does dying with Christ also mean living with him? In what ways do we often think these things complete opposites of one another?

What things do you find most challenging about enduring with Christ? What are ways that help you overcome the temptation to not continue to ensure?

How comforting is it to know that God’s love for you is based on his faithfulness, not ours?

Exodus 3.1-4.17 – June 17, 2020

Exodus 3:1–4.17

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
 (Exodus 3:1–10, NIV)

So how do you think you would have responded if you saw a bush that was on fire, yet did not burn up, then from the bush a voice spoke?

Thought Questions:

Moses was a sheep herder because he left his life as the adopted son of Pharaoh to get away from a role he did not want to be in any longer. How do you think he reacted to this sudden calling, interrupting his attempt to “get away” from it all?

In what ways does God call us to tasks he has for us today? In what ways do you think it would be easier to be called through a burning bush? In what ways do you think it would be more difficult?

If you read all of the story for today, you discover that Moses really did not want to perform the task God has for him, trying several times to get out of it. Why are we, like Moses, hesitant to fulfill the things God has called us to do? In what ways has God proven that following him is a trustworthy endeavor and not to be feared?

Acts 2.42-47 – June 14, 2020

Acts 2:42–47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42–47, NIV)

What a fantastic picture of what it looks like to be a part of a fellowship of believers!

Thought Questions:

As you look through the description of the early church, what aspects that are described match your own experience today? What are areas that look nothing like your life?

What does it look like to be devoted to one another in today’s church setting? How can we be more devoted to each other?

What specific ways can you make the description found here a part of your everyday church experience?

Matthew 7.24-29 – June 13, 2020

Matthew 7:24–29

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” 

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.  (Matthew 7:24–29, NIV)

Sing along! The wise man built his house upon the rock…

Thought Questions:

At what point do you become knowledgable enough to live out the words of God you have learned? In what ways do we sometimes want to know more before we begin to do more? Why do you think this is our tendency?

What challenges–rain, winds, storms–have you faced in your life and how has God proven to be your foundation?

How have you worked on building your foundation today?

Ezekiel 34.1-31 – June 12, 2020

Ezekiel 34:1–31

“ ‘I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety. 26 I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing.  I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. 27 The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. 28 They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. 29 I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. 30 Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them and that they, the Israelites, are my people, declares the Sovereign Lord. 31 You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’ ” (Ezekiel 34:25–31, NIV)

I am a sheep and the Lord is my shepherd.

Thought Questions:

If you read through the entire chapter of Ezekiel 34, you discover that the issue being addressed is the leaders of God’s people, the shepherds of his flock, are focused only on themselves, not on those they are supposed to lead. Why is it so easy for leaders to begin to be focused only on themselves? What do you do if you are one of their sheep?

What challenges do sheep face, both in real life but also when you think of followers of God as sheep, as well?

How does knowing that God is our shepherd allow us to focus more on living in peace, versus living in fear?