A Den of Thieves – March 3, 2019

Leviticus 27.14 – Numbers 1.54; Mark 11.1-26; Psalm 46.1-11; Proverbs 10.23

What would it have been like to be in the temple the day Jesus turned over all of the tables? Do you think you would have talked about it later that day or for the next several? Do you think you would have understood why Jesus did this?

Questions:

How do we set apart the things we have–money and also possessions–for the Lord today?

In what ways is holding a grudge related to having faith?

Do we really believe that God is our refuge and strength? How can we live lives that show our assurance of this?

“Doing wrong is fun for a fool.” Does this describe you? How can you work to ensure it isn’t?

Doh! – March 2, 2019

Leviticus 25.47-27.13; Mark 10.32-52; Psalm 45.1-17; Proverbs 10.22

I always have wondered what James and John thought after Jesus’ instructions to the disciples about his death, followed up by their infamous question: Can we sit at your right and left when you are on your glorious throne? (I can just imagine this long, awkward pause from Jesus, who then says: “Really?”) You can’t tell me they do not spent the rest of the day saying to one another: “That was dumb. Really dumb.” I know, because I ask the same type of question far too often and at just the wrong time. How about you? Any questions do you wish you could take back?

Questions:

Ensuring that people have opportunity to be released for their bondage is a recurring theme throughout the book of Leviticus. How do we work to ensure people are free from their own bondage today?

Why do you think people wanted to quiet blind Bartimaeus?

In what ways would the psalmist be able to say of you: “You love justice and hate evil?”

Richness that comes from God does not have sorry attached to it. How have you seen richness apart from God produce sorrow?

Impossible – March 1, 2019

Leviticus 24.1-25.46; Mark 10.13-31; Psalm 44.9-26; Proverbs 10.20-21

Some days following God in the manner I would really like seems impossible. I don’t even think it has to do with how hard following God really is. In many ways, following him does not seem as hard as I make it out to be. Not following him really comes down to me not being able to do so because of my own weaknesses. Because of me, I am not sure really following God is possible. So I am glad to hear Jesus say: “Yes, for you this is probably impossible. For God, nothing is impossible.” I need to allow him to lead me more than I try to guide myself. You?

Questions:

Should we have a Year of Jubilee now? What advantages might there be in living out this practice in the world we live in?

What does it mean for the “Kingdom of God” to belong to a child? What does it mean for our own lives of faith?

Why might you cry out: “Wake up, Lord?” What sort of events in your life might cause you to think God had gone to sleep on you?

How have the words of the godly encouraged you? Who speaks these words for you? Thank them for their gift to you.

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?