Camel Hair and Locusts – February 15, 2019

Exodus 39.1-40.38; Mark 1.1-28; Psalm 35.1-16; Proverbs 9.11-12

If John the Baptist showed up at a worship service today, we probably would think he was some sort of kook … if we even let him stay. You have to ask yourself: What’s with the crazy outfit? Yet the people came from all of Judea to see him. They saw something in him–and his outfit–that perhaps we miss when we are focused on his outfit too much. Maybe a better question is this: What does it look like for someone to appear as a messenger for God in such a way that “all the people” want to hear the message?

Questions:

Why is it significant that the writer of Exodus says at least three different times in this section that Moses did “just as the Lord commanded him?”

All throughout the Bible, demons recognize and state who Jesus is: the Holy One of God. Do we recognize this?

Have you ever felt like the writer of today’s psalm? How do we seek God’s retribution on others in holy and healthy ways, versus vindictive and evil ways?

How have you experienced the benefit of Godly wisdom?

Just as he said… – February 14, 2019

Exodus 37.1-38.31; Matthew 28.1-20; Psalm 34.11-22; Proverbs 9.9-10

In hindsight, it seems so clear, doesn’t it? All of the things Jesus said about what would happen to him … his death … his resurrection … his being the sacrifice for us … they actually happened, just as he said. It makes you wonder: What sort of things has he told us that we have to be reminded of after the fact?

Questions:

When you read about all of the furnishings for the Tabernacle, what sort of sense do you get about the attitude of the people as they gather to worship? Have we lost some of this awe in our own worship? If so, how do we regain that sense of being overwhelmed by the presence of God?

How well does Matthew 28.18-20 serve as an organizing principle for how you live your life?

In what ways do you gain comfort from hearing that God is close to the brokenhearted? How have you experienced this in your own life?

How do you sense God as the foundation of all wisdom?

Simon – February 13, 2019

Exodus 35.10-36.38; Matthew 27.32-66; Psalm 34.1-10; Proverbs 9.7-8

Simon was a man who was in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time. I guess which it was all depends on your perspective. Right or wrong, Simon’s life was most likely never the same after this encounter with Jesus. How has your life been changed by an “accidental” encounter with Jesus?

Questions:

Why do you think the writer of the book of Exodus was so certain to detail the steps the builders undertook in constructing the Tabernacle? Why is following instructions so closely such an important thing to those who follow God?

Why do we, much like the people of Jesus’ day, find it so east to pile on and laugh at someone who has “failed?”

The psalmist says: “I will boast only in the Lord.” In whom do you boast?

Rebuking a mocker, according to the writer of the Proverbs is a wasted effort, leading to insults and pain. When then is it so easy for us to do this anyway?

Slow to Anger – February 12, 2019

Exodus 34.1-35.9; Matthew 27.15-31; Psalm 33.12-22; Proverbs 9.1-6

Angry people are no fun to be around. How often do we seek out someone who could be characterized by their rage against others, seeking to spend time just “hanging out and being angry?” We don’t, which is why it is such a comfort to read that God is a “God of compassion … slow to anger and filled with unfailing love.”

Questions:

Why was making a treaty with the people of the land the Israelites were to inhabit such a bad idea?

What purpose do you sense Matthew was trying to accomplish by describing the reactions to Jesus of both Pilate and his wife?

In what ways have you seen God watch over those who fear him?

The persona of wisdom is much like God and righteousness: it seeks the simple to give them wisdom, versus them having to have wisdom before they are accepted. How is this a word of comfort for you?

Lead Me! – February 11, 2019

Exodus 32.1-33.23; Matthew 26.69-27.14; Psalm 33.1-11; Proverbs 8.33-36

Days. Not months. Not years. Days Moses was gone and the people of Israel assume the worst, which for them would have been they have no one to lead them. Make us a God to lead us, they cry, we cannot bear to be without someone telling us what to do. Here’s a question: Just what exactly does it say about a people that in such a short span, they freak out without someone in a visible role to lead them? What does such action say about their understanding of God’s leadership? Can we say the same things about ourselves?

Questions:

Why do you think Moses’ request from God was that Moses be allowed to see God’s glorious presence?

What are ways we deny Jesus today?

The psalmist writes that, “we can trust everything [the Lord] does.” How do our lives demonstrate we believe this?

How does hating wisdom mean we love death?

Keep the Sabbath – February 10, 2019

Exodus 30.11-31.18; Matthew 26.47-68; Psalm 32.1-11; Proverbs 8.27.32

We are way too busy, as proven not only by our lack of “free time,” but also demonstrated by our overloaded calendars and underfunded saving accounts. (There is a reason someone once said: If you want to discover your true priorities, look at your checkbook and your calendar.) So there may not be a better time in history than now to hear to words of God in earnest: Remember to take time for Sabbath. It reminds you that I–not you, your schedule, or your ability to buy your way into contentment and peace–am your God. How are you taking Sabbath today?

Questions:

Exodus 30.15 is a great verse: The rich are not to pay more of a ransom payment than required, the poor are to pay no less. Why do you think such a principle would be important in this situation? How might it also be an important principle for us today?

What do we learn about the teachers of the law when we discover they came to arrest Jesus in the garden after the evening meal, rather than in the temple where, according to Jesus, they saw him every day?

Can you remember a time when you stopped trying to hide your sin and guilt, but rather confessed it? What was the result of that process for you?

How is there wisdom to be found in the creation of the world?

Never! – February 9, 2019

Exodus 29.1-30.10; Matthew 26.14-46; Psalm 31.19-24; Proverbs 8.14-26

Where do you fit in the story of Jesus’ disciples promising to never deny him? Are you Peter, front and center, making braggadocios claims of his allegiance? Or are you sort of like the extras of a movie, listed only with some description such as “2nd Person on the Street” or as Matthew puts it: “all the others vowed the same?” What does it take to be both front and center … and to actually refuse to deny Jesus as Lord?

Questions:

The sacrifices of the Old Testament were not a pretty picture–literally–and also seem so foreign to our faith today. What sort of understanding do you get about God when you read through this passage from Exodus?

When you hear the words of Peter (often times, not just this story!), you just want to say: Bless your heart. Why was Peter so good at quickly speaking up but not so good at following through? In what ways are you the same way?

Would you consider yourself “strong and courageous?” How does putting your faith in God help you be more that way?

If wisdom’s gifts are more precious than gold, do we seek them out? And if we do, once we get those gifts, how do we “spend” them?