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?

The Smallest of All – March 27, 2019

Deuteronomy 7.1-8.20; Luke 7.36-8.3; Psalm 69.1-18; Proverbs 12.1

I love a good underdog story. Whether it be a sporting event or a love story, there is something exciting about the one who wins not being at all the one most prepared or equipped to do so. That is what is so exciting about the story of Israel. God uses the smallest of nations, not the largest or strongest or most trained or most equipped. If God can use the smallest nation to be his people–and do not miss it is God at work, not his people–what can he do with you?

Questions:

Describe a time in your life when you accomplished something great but know that it really was not you doing so, but God working in you.

What kind of people show up are your parties?

What events in your life causes you to cry out to God: “Save me!”?

Has there ever been a time in your life when you rejected correction, only to discover later that doing so was, in the words of Proverb writer, stupid? What did you learn about correction from this?

Compassion – March 26, 2019

Deuteronomy 5.1-6.25; Luke 7.11-35; Psalm 68.19-35; Proverbs 11.29-31

Truth be known, it was a random happenstance. Jesus and his disciples are entering a city and their path intersects the route of a funeral possession. This one may have had more emotion than others: the dead was the only son of a widow. She had no one. Jesus, as we know by now was common for him, had compassion for this woman. Yet he didn’t just feel sorrow for her. He did something. What is your response, your active response, when you have opportunity to have compassion on someone?

Questions:

How can you love the Lord your God today with more of your heart, your soul, and your strength?

When asked by John’s disciples, what criteria does Jesus use to show he is indeed the Messiah? Would this have been what you expected the Messiah to be doing?

What is shocking about the psalmist’s request that God smash the heads of his enemies?

How have you seen a small deed of good become something that became a large blessing, much like a tiny seed becomes a large tree?

Follow Him – March 25, 2019

Deuteronomy 4.1-49; Luke 6.39-7.10; Psalm 68.1-18; Proverbs 11.28

Good trees cannot bear bad fruit. Bad trees cannot bear good fruit. Good people produce good things from a good heart. People who call Jesus Lord do what he says to do. Make sense?

Questions:

What do you think when you read: “The Lord your God is a devouring fire; he is a jealous God”?

In what ways do we worry about the speck in other’s eyes when we have logs in our eyes today?

What gives you reason to rejoice today?

Why is it so easy for us to trust in money? In what ways is our world conditioned to assume this is the pattern people should follow? How do we show a different way of doing things?