Bible Readings for January 31 – February 6

Matthew 21

How does the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem compare to what you would expect from a conquering king coming into his kingdom?

How did the crowds know they were to welcome Jesus as a coming king?

How do you think you would respond if someone came into our church building and began disrupting things? Is there ever a time when you think this was normal or called for?

Matthew 22

Who do we typically invite to our banquets (both literal and metaphorical banquets)? What would those banquets look like if we invited the least expected folk to take part of them?

How do you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind? How do you love your neighbor? How can you do these things better?

Matthew 23

In a classic example of how NOT to win friends and influence people, Jesus pronounces seven woes on the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees. As you read through Jesus’ criticism of the religious leaders, what specific ideas do you have about how to not do these things yourself?

Matthew 24

Why do impressive buildings and other signs of opulence and power attract people’s attention away from Godly power and strength?

How fearful are you of your future and the end times when Jesus returns? In what ways do Jesus’ instructions give you hope and peace, even in the face of potential trouble and hardship?

Matthew 25

What things have you done (or will you do) today to continue to ensure you are ready and anticipating Jesus’ return?

How faithful of a servant are you with what God has entrusted to you?

What can you do “for the least of these” today?

Prayer for the week: “Lord, may we always sing your praises in anticipation of you coming again.”

Get a full 2021 Reading List HERE.

Bible Readings for January 24-30

Matthew 16

Jesus’ generation sought signs to prove he was the Messiah sent from God. What does our generation seek to prove God’s presence or value today?

Why do you think Peter went so quickly from saying that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God, to saying things that caused Jesus to call him Satan?

What actions demonstrate our commitment to denying ourselves and taking up our crosses?

Matthew 17

How are you listening to Jesus today?

What does it take to have faith “like a grain of mustard seed”?

Matthew 18

What aspects of a child demonstrate a kingdom mindset? Does this describe you?

What do you need to get rid of that is creating for you a temptation to sin, even if getting rid of it might been seen as very drastic?

How often are you willing to forgive someone who sins against you? What does it take to forgive without limit?

Matthew 19

Who are the people we push away from Jesus rather than encouraging them to come to him? How can we draw them to him?

Would your possessions have prevented you from seeking eternal life if you had been the rich man who came to Jesus? Why?

Matthew 20

Why is it human nature to resent those whom we feel like get more than they deserve? How can we reverse this trend?

In what ways do you assume you should receive a select place upon your arrival in heaven?

Prayer for the week: “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”

Get a full 2021 Reading List HERE.

Bible Readings for January 10-16

Matthew 6

Jesus mentions several practices (or spiritual disciplines) in this chapter that help us grow in our faith. Which of these disciplines do you regularly practice? How have they strengthened your faith?

In a world that provides plenty of fuel for a fire of anxiety, how do you heed Jesus’ words to not be anxious about anything?

Matthew 7

How are you putting the words of Jesus–both the words found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and the words of the gospels–into practice? What looks different in your life because you do what he says to do?

Matthew 8

What does this chapter tell you about the power Jesus possesses?

Matthew 9

How long did it take for you to decide to follow Jesus? What sort of person would cause you to simply get up and follow them, like Matthew did Jesus?

Are you praying for workers to be sent into the Lord’s harvest?

Matthew 10

How do you think you would have reacted to Jesus sending you out like “sheep amongst wolves?” In what ways do people continue to be afraid to rely on Jesus in the midst of trouble?

Get a full 2021 Reading List HERE.

Acts 9.1-9 – November 9, 2020

Acts 9.1–9

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. 
 (Acts 9.1–9, NIV)

While we know him as Paul, the one who wrote a large part of the New Testament, he wasn’t always the follower of Jesus we know of him. People change when they see Jesus!

Thought Questions:

What reasons did Saul have to threaten followers of Jesus?

How do you think Paul reacted when he heard Jesus ask: “Why are you persecuting me?”

How do you think your life would have changed if you had encountered Jesus in the same way Saul/Paul did?

Psalm 139.1-24 – November 6, 2020

Psalm 139.1-24

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

 (Psalm 139:1–6, 23-24, NIV)

Is there another passage in scripture that better communicate the intimacy of God’s knowledge of you? Feeling left out and all alone? This is the psalm for you!

Thought Questions:

Do you think of God searching you as a positive or negative thing? Why do you feel this is the case?

In what ways do you see people seeking to be fully known? In what ways do they look to their relationship with God to provide this, versus a relationship with other people or things?

Pray that God will search you today and as he does, respond to his prompting.

Colossians 1.24-29 – November 5, 2020

Colossians 1.24–29

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.  (Colossians 1.24–29, NIV)

Who gives you the power to do what you do?

Thought Questions:

How often do you think of gratitude or rejoicing when you are suffering? Why do you think Paul can react in this way?

What–or who–gives you hope?

Do you find sharing your faith with others an easy task or one that causes you to be fatigued? How can working through Christ’s power help you share your faith with others?

Matthew 5.3-12 – November 2, 2020

Matthew 5.3–12

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (Matthew 5.3–12, NIV)

“I like it because I strive to be a peacemaker and pure in heart.”

Thought Questions:

What do you think the people listening to Jesus were thinking when they heard him describe those who were part of the kingdom of heaven? In what ways did these groups NOT fit people’s expectations?

Which of these beatitudes connects the most with you? Why is this the case?

Why is it hard for us to seek a reward in heaven versus rewards here on this earth?

Genesis 15.1-21 – November 1, 2020

Genesis 15.1–21

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: 

“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield, 
your very great reward. ” 

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”
But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” 
 (Genesis 15.1–21, NIV)

God makes a promise to Abraham that he can and will keep, in spite of the obstacles that seem to be present.

Thought Questions:

In what ways do you think Abraham’s question to God in verse 2 is a valid one? When have you wrestled with the promises of God that seem contradictory to the actual situation at hand?

How do you think Abraham could believe God in spite of the circumstances? Why is this belief considered righteousness?

What can you do to more able to believe the promises of God that seem impossible?

Luke 14.25-35 – October 30, 2020

Luke 14.25–35

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
 (Luke 14.25–35, NIV)

The cost of discipleship is large … it is your entire life.

Thought Questions:

Why do we react against the idea that we should “hate our own life?” Does Jesus really want us to hate ourselves? If not, what is he meaning here?

How would the people hearing Jesus’ message reacted to the idea of “picking up a cross?”

How are you being salt in the world in which you live?