Genesis 42.1-44.34 – February 15, 2020

Genesis 42.1-44.34

Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. 

“From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.” 

Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” 

10 “No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.” (Genesis 42:6–11, NIV)

The story of Joseph and his brothers is a joy to read … if you are reading from our perspective. I can imagine that the brothers of Jospeh found no joy in their circumstances, and we will discover, saw their situation go from bad to worse. I wonder if God ever looks at our story and chuckles, since he knows our stories from a better vantage point than our own?

Thought Questions:

What do you think was going through the minds of Joseph’s brothers as they faced obstacle after obstacle in their quest to get food from Egypt?

Knowing he would reveal himself to his brothers and take them in, why do you think Joseph spent as much time as he did “playing them along?”

How would the lives of the Israelite people been different if Jospeh’s brothers had been faithful to God’s laws? If Jospeh had NOT been faithful to them?

1 Peter 1.13-16 – February 14, 2020

1 Peter 1.13-16

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1.13-16, NIV)

It is crazy to think that we can be holy like God is holy. No matter how hard we try, it seems impossible. Yet, perhaps it isn’t through our effort that we are made holy in the first place.

Thought Questions:

List all of the images that come to mind when you think of someone who is alert and fully sober.

How holy would you claim you are? In what ways do these verses seem to ask us to do the impossible? If it were impossible, why would we be asked to do it?

How does the hope of God’s grace transform our ordinary lives into holy lives?

2 Corinthians 3.18 – February 13, 2020

2 Corinthians 3.18

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3.18, NIV)

What an amazing thought: We are being transformed into glory!

Thought Questions:

What aspects about God demonstrate his glory to you today? How have you taken a moment to reflect on God’s glory?

How well do you reflect the glory of God? In what ways is it reassuring to know you are being transformed his image … that you look more and more like him?

How does knowing that it is through God and his spirit that we are transformed change how you go about trying to be more like God? In what ways are you letting him transform you, versus you trying to do it all yourself?

2 Kings 6.8-17 – February 3, 2020

2 Kings 6.8-17

Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”
The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.
11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”
12 “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”
13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 
(2 Kings 6:8–17, NIV)

“Sometimes I need my eyes opened to see. Those that are with us are greater than those against us!”

Thought Questions:

What moments in your life have been “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” moments?

How did God open your eyes to see his working in those situations that seemed hopeless to you?

How does your day look different knowing you are surrounded by the Lord’s armies?

Acts 1.7-8 – February 2, 2020

Acts 1.7-8

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1.7-8, NIV)

We do not have to do this alone. Sometime you might need to wait on God, but he never sends you out without empowering you to go.

Thought Questions:

Why do you think people are so focused on when the end times will come? What might change if we knew the time of the end times? What would not change?

What things might you be able to do with the power of the Holy Spirit that you could never do on your own? How have you experienced the Holy Spirit guiding your life?

How can you be a witness of God today?

James 4.17 – February 1, 2020

James 4.17

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4.17, NIV)

“Submit yourself to God”

Thought Questions:

Where do you discover those things you are to do versus those things you are to not do? What set of criteria are you using to determine this?

Why do people so often do things they know they shouldn’t do? Why does the knowledge of what they SHOULD do not prevent them from doing it?

What things do you know you should be doing … but are not? How can you do those things today?

Cut It Off! – February 28, 2019

Leviticus 22.17-23.44; Mark 9.30-10.12; Psalm 44.1-8; Proverbs 10.19

Sin is often something we just assume is a part of our lives. We know we never act sinless, so just grow accustomed to having sinful behaviors be a part of what happens day in and day out. Too often, we do not even try to avoid it … we just accept it and the things that cause it. Jesus says this is not the best practice. We need to get rid of those things that create sin in and around is, even if it means a drastic change to accomplish this. How are you focused on ridding yourself of sin?

Questions:

Why does God give the Israelites festivals to observe throughout the year?

Why does Jesus want to keep his location a secret while he is teaching his disciples? What about his teaching topic would have been important for Jesus to have his disciple’s undivided attention?

What would your ancestors tell you about God at work in their lives? What will you tell your descendants?

“Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” Describe a time when you wish you would have kept this advice.

Be Holy – February 27, 2019

Leviticus 20.22-22.16; Mark 9.1-29; Psalm 43.1-5; Proverbs 10.18

“Be holy because I am holy” says God. What is your reaction when you hear this? To me, it seems near impossible–I know how non-holy I really am. But at the same time, there is a certain sense of desire that is ignited in me when I hear these words. God, I believe, would not ask us to be something we cannot be. He’s not setting us up for certain failure. So I trust that he can make me holy. In what ways has he been making you holy?

Questions:

God reminds us that we are to keep his decrees and put them into practice. What is the difference between understanding or assenting to the decrees of God and actually putting them into practice? How are you putting his decrees into practice?

How do you think you would have reacted had you been on the mountain and seen Jesus, Moses and Elijah all together? How does your reaction compare to Peter’s?

Discouraged? What are ways you can put your hope in God in spite of this discouragement?

While it is often our first reaction–to slander someone else so as to bring them down to our level–doing so makes you a fool. How is this the case?

If You Want to Follow Me – February 26, 2019

Leviticus 19.1-20.21; Mark 8.11-38; Psalm 42.1-11; Proverbs 10.17

Give up your own way. Take up your cross. Follow Jesus. Seems simple enough on paper, but are we willing to put it into practice?

Questions:

The people of Israel are told to not pick up grain on the edges of their fields in order to provide for those in need. What are ways we “leave the edges” for others who need it today? What are ways we can do that more?

Why is our first reaction to people who have different ideas often a concerted effort to invalidate their way of thinking?

What things in your life demonstrate your longing for God?

How have you seen ignoring correction cause you or someone you know to go astray?

Purified by the Blood – February 25, 2019

Leviticus 16.29-18.30; Mark 7.24-8.10; Psalm 41.1-13; Proverbs 10.15-16

You begin to understand the sacrifice of Jesus more when you read in Leviticus (of all places!) God say: “It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.” (16.11, NLT) How does this fact help change your perception about why Jesus had to give his blood for you? How does this change the value you place on this sacrifice, a life given for you?

Questions:

Both in Egypt (the land the people of Israel were leaving) and in Canaan (the land where the people were going), God’s people are told not to imitate the lifestyle of those who lived in those lands. What would God tell us about living in the world we now live, if he were re-writing this passage for us?

Why could Jesus not keep it a secret where he was staying, even when he tried?

How have you shown kindness to the poor and what joys have you discovered as a result of this action?

How do your earnings as a godly person enhance your life?