Away With Him – July 4, 2019

2 Kings 23.31-25.30; Acts 22.17-23.10; Psalm 2.1-12; Proverbs 18.13

Why are the Jewish people so furious at Paul’s statement that he was being sent to the Gentiles? To be honest, this was not a new idea–Paul did not suddenly have a new direction that the people of Israel had not already been given. In fact, Abraham, the father of the Jews, was told he would point all nations to God. When then was this so challenging for the Jewish people to accept? Why are notions contrary to our thoughts of power and status so hard for us to fully embrace?

Questions:

In what ways is this how you thought the kingdom of Israel would end? In what ways is it nothing like the ending you imagined?

Why did the high priest Ananias slap Paul? Did Paul really not know he was the high priest? Why do you think this?

How have you experienced joy in taking refuge in God?

How can you work to not spout off before you know the facts? (And perhaps even after you know them, as well?)

A Lament – July 3, 2019

2 Kings 22.3-23.30; Acts 21.37-22.16; Psalm 1.1-6; Proverbs 18.11-12

Josiah is a breath of fresh air in a collection of really bad kings. The more you read 2 Kings, the more certain you become of a disastrous outcome, only to find this king repenting and lamenting the wrong the people have done. While it ultimately is too little too late for the people of Israel, one has to appreciate the integrity of Josiah. How do you respond when you discover you were wrong and have now seen the right way to respond to God and his instructions?

Questions:

How often do you pause to reflect and renew your commitment to the covenant God has made to you? How can you make this a practice that helps grow your faith in him more?

How do you think Paul felt knowing he was chosen by God to know and live out the will of God?

What joys have you experienced from following God?

Why might the rich think of their wealth as a strong defense?

“If The People Will Follow My Commands…” – July 2, 2019

2 Kings 20.1-22.2; Acts 21.18-36; Psalm 150.1-6; Proverbs 18.9-10

If one were reading through the account of the Israelite kings, one might begin to question how a people called by God could face such difficult times. If these were God’s people, why were they punished? The writer of 2 Kings makes sure to answer that question for us: “If the Israelites will be careful to obey my commands … I will not send them into exile”. Obviously, they did NOT obey his commands. While we may see this clearly in hindsight, what do you think could have helped the people of Israel remember this more, perhaps even preventing their own downfall?

Questions:

Why do you think God decides to keep Hezekiah from dying, even though he knows the ultimate outcome of his people?

Why are people so quick to assume the worse about others, even when it is based on circumstantial evidence?

What better way might there be to end the book of Psalms than this psalm calling for everything that has breath to praise God? How have you praised him today?

Why is a lazy person as bad as someone who destroys things?

I Am Ready To Die – July 1, 2019

2 Kings 18.13-19.37; Acts 21.1-17; Psalm 149.1-9; Proverbs 18.8

Paul’s last visits with the people of Ephesus and Tyre are heart breaking because it is so obvious that Paul is headed for trouble. Paul says he will not see the people again and Agabus, a prophet, goes so far as to demonstrate the way in which Paul will be bound. Paul, however, is content with whatever trouble lies ahead, including his own death, if need be. How can we live a life that is content with whatever circumstances may be ahead of us, especially if they are negative?

Questions:

King Sennacherib’s question to Israel is a good one for us, as well: What are you trusting in that makes you so confident?

Do you think the believer’s prophecy that Paul should not go to Jerusalem is inconsistent with the direction God was leading Paul? Why or why not?

Why is the idea of praise in the mouth and a sword in the hand unexpected in this psalm?

Rumors are dainty morsels? Why is this so true?

Why Us? – June 30, 2019

2 Kings 17.1-18.12; Acts 20.1-38; Psalm 148.1-14; Proverbs 18.6-7

When you read through the Old Testament, you hear the people of God ask a repeated question: Why is all of this happening to us, Lord? Why are we being conquered and taken off into exile? Why do we not get to continue as a great nation, like we were when David was king? You also discover an answer, which we find in our reading today: “This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods.” Why do you think the people of Israel had such a hard time making a connection between the cause and the effect?

Questions:

Why do you think the lions ate the foreign settlers who did not worship God?

Paul’s work of sharing faith with others included encouraging them, going back through places he had been a following up with those who had believed his message. Why is this encouragement such an important part of a growing relationship with God?

How do all of the things mentioned in Psalm 148 praise God, including those things that do not have a voice? What does this tell us about what it means to praise God?

Do you think fools are really asking for a beating? In what ways is this true?

Who Are You? – June 29, 2019

2 Kings 15.1-16.20; Acts 19.13-41; Psalm 147.1-20; Proverbs 18.4-5

The Seven Sons of Sceva story has stuck with me ever since I heard a speaker say: “When you flee the beating naked, you know you have been whooped.” More important than the crazy image of these guys running away is the fact that they attempted to “borrow” or “hijack” (or whatever other term you might want to use) the name of Jesus. It would seem they are doing good–casting out evil spirits–but something about doing it in the name of Jesus was a problem. Could it have been they were using God’s power for their own purposes? In what ways do we use Jesus to attempt to accomplish our own objectives?

Questions:

Why do you think all of the kings of Israel were unable or unwilling to tear down the pagan shrines and altars?

What things would need to happen in your city in order for the name of the Lord to be feared?

What does the Lord delight in? How is your life delightful to him?

How are wise words like deep waters?

Talking Just To Talk – June 28, 2019

2 Kings 13.1-14.29; Acts 18.23-19.12; Psalm 146.1-10; Proverbs 18.2-3

We probably all have that friend who no matter what the topic or the situation in which it is brought up, always has something to say. Most of the time, they do not even move the conversation forward, they just need to get their own comment in, to feel like they have somehow participated in the discussion. How do we keep from being “that guy?”

Questions:

Is it surprising to you that God still remembers the covenant made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? What does this tell us about God and his promises?

How do we ensure we are creating 2nd generation disciples, that is, the people we share our faith with are doing the same with others?

In what ways do we put our confidence in powerful people, at times more than we do so in God?

Why do you think people would agree with the idea that doing wrong leads to disgrace? In what ways would they disagree with this statement?