In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:1–18, NIV)
God loves us so much, he had his son come down from heaven and moved into our neighborhood, where he built a house and lived with us to show us God, our Father.
We know about Jesus as a human who lived on earth, but how does his divinity affect how you view him and what he accomplished by coming to earth?
In what ways does Jesus’ humanity–his coming to live on earth–cause you to appreciate him all that much more? How do you think you would think of Jesus had he NOT come to earth?
How would you respond to people who say we have never seen God?
2 Samuel 19.11-20.13; John 21.1-15; Psalm 120.1-7; Proverbs 16.16-17
Most people who study John 21 recognize the three-fold restoration of Peter after his (three time) denial of Jesus. Read through this chapter again and as you do, list the various emotions and reactions you think Peter may have been having as he encountered Jesus that day? What does this story tell us about God’s love for us even when we have messed up?
David seems quick to spare the lives of individuals who have attacked or confronted him, even when his advisors seem to think he should do otherwise. How can we take on the attitude David had toward those who were against him?
What do you think you would have been doing if you were one of Jesus’ disciples and he was killed, raised again, and went back up into heaven? What’s next for you?
Have you ever felt far from God, perhaps even felt like you were in a different county you were so far away from him? How did you keep hope in God through these dark times?
What examples can you give from your own life that demonstrate the ways you have valued wisdom more than silver and gold?
2 Samuel 18.1-19.10; John 20.1-31; Psalm 119.153-176; Proverbs 16.14-15
We know from what scripture says about David that he was a man after God’s own heart. We also know he was a man of integrity, honoring God even when it seemed to not make sense. We also know David was not without his faults and his family suffered the consequences of David’s sinful actions. And in the story today, we discover his deep love for his son, in spite of his sons actions towards him. How difficult would it have been to be David and love deeply, yet also know his love was aimed toward someone seeking to take his own life? What would you have done were you in David’s shoes?
An unnamed man had more honor for David’s kingship and his son than some of the heros of David’s life. Why do you think this man who refused to kill God’s son is never mentioned by name? Why should he have received a greater honor than he did?
Why does seeing make believing so much easier? How do we believe when most of the time, we cannot see that in which we believe?
How does following laws and regulations revive someone, rather than causing them to be under a burden? Is this how you view God’s regulations?
What might cause a king to become angry and a deadly threat?
2 Samuel 17.1-29; John 19.23-42; Psalm 119.129-152; Proverbs 16.12-13
You have to pay careful attention to the story of David and Absalom and their advisors. Just about the time you think one advisor (in this case, Ahithophel) has the upper hand and is influencing Absalom, another comes in and changes the wanna-be king’s perspective (as is the case with Hushai). In the midst of the tension of who will actually end up with the most influence, remember that at the end of the day, it is God who is at work and his plans will prevail.
Why do you think Ahithophel had such a strong reaction to his advice not being followed?
Is there ever a time when it is appropriate to be a secret follower of Jesus? Why?
How have you found following God’s laws to be a simple thing to do? Do you find them more simple than complicated or vice versa? Why is this the case?
How do we show our love for people who speak honestly?
2 Samuel 15.23-16.23; John 18.25-19.22; Psalm 119.113-128; Proverbs 16.10-11
It is interesting to me that in the midst of a hurried trial to try Jesus for failure to follow the Jewish law, that the leaders of the Temple would suddenly exclaim: “We have no king but Caesar.” Let me get this straight: You want to kill someone for claiming to be the king instead of God, who is the only king, but you are willing to deny God as the only king and advocate Caesar as king … when it best suits your interests? What are other ways people “adjust” their allegiance to God when it benefits them?
What do you think you would have been anticipating to happen in the future as you watched David your king leave Jerusalem because of the threats made by Absalom?
If Pilate knew Jesus was innocent–which it appears he did–why do you think he allowed him to be treated so brutally?
What does it mean to fear the Lord? Why is trembling in fear before him a good thing?
How does the Lord’s demand for “accurate scales and balances” impact how you do your job?
2 Samuel 14.1-15.22; John 18.1-24; Psalm 119.97-112; Proverbs 16.8-9
One of the things that often happens to believers is a tendency to assume the effort to remain in Christ, to continue to follow him, is not nearly as significant as the effort to get to know him in the first place. While there may be some truth to this idea–first knowing is certainly a key hurdle to overcome–scripture is full of examples of followers of Jesus longing to continue in God’s word. What do you do regularly to continue to learn more about God’s instruction … and what can you do more?
Why do you think David did not put a stop to Absalom’s actions at the city gates? Do you think he even knew what his son was doing?
Why do you think the Roman soldiers and Temple guards drew back from Jesus when he confessed who he was?
How have God’s commands made you wise?
In what ways does God determine your steps?
2 Samuel 13.1-39; John 17.1-26; Psalm 119.81-96; Proverbs 16.6-7
John 17 is one of the most powerful chapters of Jesus’ sayings in all of scripture. Perhaps the most significant portion of this prayer of Jesus is his request that his disciples remain unified. For many, unity would not be one of the hallmarks of Christianity – disunity and divisiveness would probably be better seen as the calling card of many followers of Jesus. What can we do today to ensure that people see the unity of believers, not the opposite?
Why would David long to be reunited with Absalom, giving what he had done to David and his family?
How would you say that Jesus has been revealed to you?
Why is it significant that God’s faithfulness has continued from the time of the psalmist to today? How have you seen this faithfulness at work in your life?
“When people’s lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace.” What examples can you give of this being true?
2 Samuel 9.1-11.27; John 15.1-27; Psalm 119.49-64; Proverbs 15.33
Today we discover some of the highs and lows of David. First, he seeks out the descendants of Saul to show them kindness on behalf of Jonathan. This being in spite of how Saul treated him. Second, he commits sin with Bathsheba, but does so in the most despicable of ways, having her husband killed in battle. Given these stories of David, what do you learn about God and his love for his people? What do you learn about the ways sinful people follow a holy God?
How often do we assume the worse about someone’s actions, only to have it backfire and cause us problems?
What does it look like, practically speaking, to remain in Christ?
What promises of God do you remember and hold on to?
What does it mean to commit your actions to the Lord? What would be the contrast of this? Which do you do more and why?
1 Samuel 17.1-18.4; John 8.21-30; Psalm 111.1-10; Proverbs 15.11
To some, it may have looked like just a giant of a man trying to provoke an army into battle. To David, it looked like his God, the God to whom he was faithful and had been faithful to him, being ridiculed. To some, it may look like no big deal, just a little sin here or there. To others, it looks like complete disobedience to our God and Father. How can we be sure to discern the ways people are defiling God in their actions or inactions toward him?
What would it have taken for you to have the faith to stand up against Goliath?
As you read the gospel reading for today, do you think you would have had any understanding as to what Jesus was talking about? Why or why not?
Psalm 111 is an acrostic – each line starts with the successive letter of the alphabet. Write an acrostic of praise, from A to Z, to God.
How do you find reassurance in the fact that God knows the human heart? What fear might it cause you?
1 Samuel 15.1-16.23; John 8.1-20; Psalm 110.1-7; Proverbs 15.8-10
So how many of you parents had a moment of awareness as you read Saul describe to Samuel how well he obeyed. “I did EVERYTHING God asked me to … well, except for this and that and also that … but I still did what he asked!” Why did Saul have such a hard time grasping what obedience to God really looked like?
What is your reaction to hearing God say he was sorry he ever made Saul king?
What would you have done if you were in the place of Jesus and someone brought you a woman caught in adultery? Why do you think this is the case?
How would you describe a king or ruler who was a Godly person?
Does it surprise you that God detests the sacrifice of the wicked? What does this tell you about the importance of your heart as you “sacrifice” to him today?