Exodus 12.31-51 – July 17, 2020

Exodus 12:31–51

During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”
33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

50 All the Israelites did just what the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.  (Exodus 12:31-36, 50-51 , NIV)

Imagine if you had been one of the Hebrew people who say the power of God displayed and then got to realize the freedom for which you had longed for.

Thought Questions:

If you do not know the entire story of the Exodus from Egypt, be sure to read that chapters in the book of Exodus prior to today’s text. Knowing the whole story, why do you think it took Pharaoh so long to full recognize–and accept–God’s power?

If you had been one of the Hebrew people leaving Egypt that night, how do you think you would have thought of and treated God from day that forward? What, if anything, could have changed your mind from your dedication toward him?

Perhaps you have not been freed from a foreign country, but in what ways has God given you your own exodus, or leaving, from a situation that held you captive?

Psalm 136 – July 16, 2020

Psalm 136

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

(Psalm 136:1–3 , NIV)

God’s love endures forever.

Thought Questions:

Make a list of the things for which you are thankful to God today.

As you read through the Psalm 136 in its entirety, what things would you add to the author’s list?

How does God’s love impact your list of thanksgivings?

Luke 9.18-20 – July 15, 2020

Luke 9:18–20

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”
19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”
20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”
 (Luke 9:18–20 , NIV)

Peter’s confession of Jesus as God’s Messiah was what we might call a game-changer. This one who was sent by God was the one to redeem the world … even if the way he went about doing so did not look exactly like his followers expected.

Thought Questions:

If Jesus was going to ask the same question he did in verse 18 to us today, how would we answer: Who do the crowds say that I am?

Why do you think people had such a difficult time understanding who Jesus was? Why do they still have a difficult time doing so today?

What does it mean for Jesus to be God’s Messiah?

Hebrews 11.1 – July 14, 2020

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  (Hebrews 11:1 , NIV)

For many of us, we trust only that which we know with certainty. That’s what makes faith faith – it is being confident in God even though we cannot see him.

Thought Questions:

Finish this sentence: “I have faith that _______.” What sort of things did you use to fill in the blank? Why do you think you used these things?

If you could see God and all the things he is doing, do you think it would increase or decrease your faith? Why do you think this to be the case?

In what ways has God’s faith proven to be certain in your life?

Joel 2.28-32 – July 13, 2020

Joel 2:28–32

And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
30 I will show wonders in the heavens
and on the earth,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
32 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be deliverance,
as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
whom the Lord calls. 

 (Joel 2:28–32 , NIV)

We probably best know this prophecy as it appears in the book of Acts when Peter describes what is happening at Pentecost. Included in the pouring out of the Spirit is also the fact that those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Thought Questions:

How does the pouring out of the Holy Spirit help us to be called back to God? In what ways does the Spirit help us focus on God?

What does it mean to call upon the name of the Lord?

What ways do we try to save ourselves, versus allowing God to call us to himself and giving us the Spirit to help bring us to him?

Luke 5.17-26 – July 12, 2020

Luke 5:17–26

One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”  
(Luke 5:17–26 , NIV)

“I have always loved this story. What wonderful friends this man had. Friends that had faith that Jesus would heal him. Friends that went into action. It reminds me sometimes when our friends don’t have the strength to carry themselves we need to carry them in prayer and sometimes physically carry them. And hopefully we have friends that will do this for us.”

Thought Questions:

Think about a time when you were committed to do anything–anything–for a friend. What caused you to be focused on doing whatever was necessary for this friend, regardless the cost to you?

What could this paralyzed man offer his friends?

What remarkable things have you see God do today?

Proverbs 22.6 – July 11, 2020

Proverbs 22:6

Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
 (Proverbs 22:6 , NIV)

“So we can train up our children, so that they will come to know Christ.”

Thought Questions:

What things did you experience growing up that helped you know God better?

How can we be intentional about training children–both our own and children in faith–to know God?

If you had one key piece advice to give new parents on how to raise Godly children, what would that advice be?

Colossians 2.13-15 – July 10, 2020

Colossians 2:13–15

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  (Colossians 2:13–15 , NIV)

You have been made alive!

Thought Questions:

For many of us, we have never felt “dead” in our sins. In what ways does Paul mean for us to understand this “death in our sins?”

How often do you pause to reflect on the fact that God forgave your sins–you did not do some sort of hard work to eliminate or overcome them?

How does being made alive in Christ change how you live your life towards others? How does it help you share the good news of this change in your own life?

Isaiah 40.28-31 – July 9, 2020

Isaiah 40:28–31

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

(Isaiah 40:28–31 , NIV)

The Lord gives strength to those who are tired and weary!

Thought Questions:

How do you we proclaim that the Lord is everlasting and the Creator of the ends of the earth?

Are you tried and weary? In what ways is your weariness the result of things you have done versus things that have just happened in the world around you?

How have you found placing your hope in the Lord to give you strength?

Mark 4.35-41 – July 8, 2020

Mark 4:35–41

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” 
(Mark 4:35–41 , NIV)

It’s interesting that the power of Jesus to calm was what prompted his disciples to be frightened. We do not know what to make of amazing power, do we?

Thought Questions:

In what ways do we try to control the fears we face on a day-to-day basis? How do storms, literal storms, challenge our assumption that we can control things?

Why do you think Jesus was able to sleep during this storm? What causes you to have peace during the storms of your life?

What is the best response we can give to Jesus for his power to calm storms? How does this response compare or contrast to the response of the disciples?