Eternal Life – April 3, 2019

Deuteronomy 23.1-25.19; Luke 10.13-37; Psalm 75.1-10; Proverbs 12.12-14

When we read that an expert in the law tested Jesus by asking hm about eternal life, we are prone to ignore the significance of his question. It was just a test, we think. Yet if we are honest, isn’t it a question we ask often? We may not be so bold as to say it out loud, but I wonder how often we try to evaluate what is and isn’t a “requirement” for following Jesus. When you think about following Jesus, do you simply enumerate what it is you HAVE to do?

Questions:

In what ways do you live your life so as to leave excess (excess time, excess money, excess energy) for those who are on the outside or on the fringes?

How have you been neighborly today?

What gratitudes would you list today for which you are thankful to God?

Are you jealous of others or content with your own fruit? How do you focus on your own life, rather than worrying about others?

I Will Follow You – April 2, 2019

Deuteronomy 21.2-22.30; Luke 9.51-10.12; Psalm 74.1-23; Proverbs 12.11

When Jesus calls us to follow him, he calls us to give up everything for him. Our following of him does not include a little bit of Jesus mixed with a little bit of our past mixed with a little bit of those things we really want to do. To follow him means a 100% commitment to him. What sort of excuses do we have for not being totally committed to following Jesus? How do we eliminate these excuses from our lives?

Questions:

Now that you have read that anyone “hung on a tree is considered cursed by God,” do you understand the reaction people had to Jesus’ crucifixion? Why did an act considered cursed actually bring salvation?

Pray that the Lord will send workers into the fields for harvest.

What promises of God do you hold on to, especially when it seems like he has rejected you?

How have you found hard work to to pay off in “plenty of food,” yet chasing fantasies ending up with nothing?

Conversations – April 1, 2019

Deuteronomy 18.1-20.20; Luke 9.28-50; Psalm 73.1-28; Proverbs 12.10

Can you imagine what it would have felt like to be a fly on the wall in the midst of the conversation between Jesus, Moses, and Elijah? As Jesus prepares for his “exodus,” here he is visiting with some of the greatest leaders God’s people have ever known, who also had experienced their own exoduses of a sort. This is the kind of group that would make up your list of “If you could invite anyone to a dinner party…” folk. I wonder how we can surround ourselves with people who would be witnesses of God’s working in their own lives to help each of us live ours better. Who would be on your list, if you were having a conversation with these types of people?

Questions:

Describe a time when you faced an enemy or a situation that seemed far greater than your own abilities, yet were not afraid because of the presence of God with you.

Do you listen to Jesus?

Have you ever felt like the psalmist, distracted by those who seemed to be prosperous, yet also wicked? How did you resolve that tension?

In what ways do you agree with the writer of Proverbs, who says that our treatment of animals reflects our godly character? Have you ever thought about this connection before?

Bringing Gifts – March 31, 2019

Deuteronomy 16.1-17.20; Luke 9.7-27; Psalm 72.1-20; Proverbs 12.8-9

It is interesting that as Moses describes God’s instructions to the people, they are told that they must appear before the Lord, but must not come before him without a gift. The value of the gift is related to what the people possess, so this is not a sense of collecting a duty or tax. Instead, it is a reminder to the people of their thanksgiving to God for what he had done for them in bringing them out of Egypt. When you come before God today, what gifts do you bring?

Questions:

Why do you think it was the witness to the sin that was called upon to throw the first stone when stoning someone?

If you had been one of Jesus’ disciples, how do you think you would have reacted to the news that he was to be killed?

How fairly do you or do we treat the poor?

The writer of Proverbs contrasts the difference between the ordinary and the self-important. Which is most valued by our culture today? Which do you strive to be? Why?

Just Have Faith – March 30, 2019

Deuteronomy 13.1-15.23; Luke 8.40-9.6; Psalm 71.1-24; Proverbs 12.5-7

“Just have faith.” Seems simple enough. Unless you are in the midst of some sort of trial or struggle, then it seems fairly trite. “Just have faith.” How do we have faith when everything around us is falling apart, when all of the “normal” go-to response hold little value for us? What does it mean to simply have faith in the midst of such complicated circumstances?

Questions:

What sort of events in your life test your faith in God?

How do you think you would have reacted if you were the woman who had been healed by just a touch of Jesus?

Are you intentional about sharing your faith with the next generation? How can you be more so?

Have you ever felt as if wicked words were murderous to you? Have you ever used such wicked words? How can you ensure your words save lives?

Afraid! – March 29, 2019

Deuteronomy 11.1-12.32; Luke 8.22-39; Psalm 70.1-5; Proverbs 12.4

In the text from Luke’s gospel, we have two stories of fear. One demonstrates the fear of disciples who, according to Luke, “were in real danger.” Yet, Jesus questions if they had faith. In the other, the townspeople, upon seeing the demoniac healed, in his right mind, and sitting visiting with Jesus, are afraid of the power that had been demonstrated by Jesus. No real danger and probably no real reason to be afraid. Given these two stories, what do you think Luke is trying to teach us about fear here?

Questions:

Why was it so enticing for the Israelites to follow the worship and customs of the people in the land they were about to occupy? In what ways is this still true for us today?

How could Jesus nap in the midst of such a storm?

How have you found joy in your search for God?

How would you describe, using language of today, a “worthy wife?” How about a “disgraceful wife?” How do we keep on the right side of this contrast?

Requirements – March 28, 2019

Deuteronomy 9.1-10.22; Luke 8.4-21; Psalm 69.19-26; Proverbs 12.2-3

Every semester, college students file into their new courses and receive a syllabus. On that piece of paper, there is a list of things that student will be expected to do, the requirements for that specific course. Students who read the syllabus and follow the instructions listed on that paper will discover their semester goes much better than the students who simply toss the syllabus to the side without ever reading through it. The question for us is when the Lord tells us what he requires, do we listen and obey, or do we simply go on doing our own thing?

Questions:

What are ways that you assume your life is blessed by God because of how wonderful you are, instead of how wonderful he is? How can you flip that?

When you tell someone to do something, how do you know they have heard you? When God gives you instructions, how will he know you heard him?

Have you ever cried out like the psalmist did: If only one person would comfort me? How do we find comfort in God when it seems like no one around us will offer us any comfort?

How have you seen wickedness bring about instability in the lives of those who practice it?