1 King 18.16-46 – May 30, 2020

1 Kings 18:16–46

At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” (1 Kings 18:36–39, NIV)

It probably is not wise to challenge God to a contest of strength and might.

Thought Questions:

Given the situation and the odds seemingly stacked against Elijah, how do you think Elijah was feeling as he began this “contest?” Why do you think this is the case?

In what ways do you find yourself in a challenge and faced with long odds from people who ridicule or dismiss God and his power? How do you handle such situations?

While perhaps it was not fire coming down to consume a sacrifice, how have you seen God’s power demonstrated in your life?

Revelation 5.9-14 – May 29, 2020

Revelation 5:9–14

And they sang a new song, saying: 

“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.” 

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying: 

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!” 

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: 

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!” 

14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

(Revelation 5:9–14, NIV)

The ultimate time of praise and worship!

Thought Questions:

If you had an opportunity today to sit before God and tell him what you thought of him, what would you say?

What do the words of those speaking here tell us about God? Is this consistent with how you have thought about him?

How can you live today in such a way so as to give praise, honor, glory, and power to the Lamb?

Colossians 3.1-17 – May 28, 2020

Colossians 3:1–17

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
 (Colossians 3:1–17, NIV)

“Speaks of God’s will and guides for holy living”

Thought Questions:

What does it mean to set your heart and mind on things above? What specific actions would you say constitute these things?

Paul has a list of characteristics we should have as people who follow God. In what ways do you find these characteristics to be a part of your life? In what ways can you make them more of your life?

How has knowing God lead to peace in your life?

1 Thessalonians 4.1-18 – May 27, 2020

1 Thessalonians 4:1–18

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body  in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.  The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 
(1 Thessalonians 4:1–12, NIV)

“A healthy reminder to live pleasing to God.”

Thought Questions:

If you were going to list the ways you should live to live a life “pleasing to God,” what sort of things would you put on your list?

What specific actions can you do to day to demonstrate your love for one another?

How does your life win the respect of those who do not know God yet?

Ephesians 1.3-14 – May 26, 2020

Ephesians 1:3–14

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship  through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
 (Ephesians 1:3–14, NIV)

As you read through this passage, which is one long sentence in the Greek, note the number of times Paul uses words that have to do with being included. Do you think Paul is passionate about this fact?

Thought Questions:

What spiritual blessings do you have from being in Christ? In what ways do you use these blessings for his glory?

How is your outlook about your standing or worth changed knowing that God selected you to be his child? Why is being a child much better than being a stranger?

In what ways has the Holy Spirit not only guaranteed your inheritance, but also helped you live as if you really are a child of God’s? In what ways can you allow him to work even more in your life?

Galatians 5.19-21 – May 25, 2020

Galatians 5:19–21

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19–21, NIV)

As we strive to know what to do to live a Godly life, we also need to be sure we are aware of what NOT to do, as well.

Thought Questions:

Do you think the “acts of the flesh” are obvious? Are they obvious to the people around us? In what ways might we find them less than obvious?

As you look through the list Paul gives here, are any of them things you find others–or perhaps even yourself–doing often? Why do you think someone might do these, even when they know they should not?

How does inheriting the kingdom of God motivate you to live a more faithful life?

Exodus 14.14 – May 22, 2020

Exodus 14:14

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14, NIV)

Because we are creatures wired for flight or fight, simply being still seems an awfully hard way to go about accomplishing things, doesn’t it?

Thought Questions:

Why do you think humans spend so much of their time and energy trying to accomplish things … even when the odds are stacked against them?

What events have happened in your life that you knew you were the only hope for your rescue and even then, it didn’t look good? How did your attempts to defeat the obstacle in this event work out for you? How would it have worked better by letting God fight for you?

How is being still an admission of the power of God and your faith in him? What can you do to be still today?

Habakkuk 2.2-3 – May 21, 2020

Habakkuk 2:2–3

Then the Lord replied:
“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.
 (Habakkuk 2:2–3, NIV)

“This passage is a promise. A promise that the Lord knows and is. I will rejoice in the waiting for I know the ultimate is victory. Victory in the Lord’s time which is the perfect time. It doesn’t promise anything easy, but, it will certainly come.”

Thought Questions:

Think of something you had to wait for a long time to receive. Why was waiting so difficult?

In what ways does waiting become easier when you know the ultimate outcome? In what ways is waiting just as difficult as ever–or maybe even more so–when you know that outcome?

How can you better wait for the Lord to act in his time?

Romans 3.21-31 – May 20, 2020

Romans 3:21–31

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,  through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21–26, NIV)

We often quote Romans 3.23 (“All have sinned…”) but we need to remember the next verse: “And all are justified freely by his grace.”

Thought Questions:

What are the different ways you can identify that people try to justify themselves, that is, try to determine they are in good standing with God? Why do so many of these ways involve our own doing and our own power?

How does being justified freely by God’s grace through Jesus affect how you approach trying to live for God? In what ways does it make living for him easier?

How do you have faith in Jesus to redeem you, a redemption that comes from no effort of your own?

Genesis 37.1-11 – May 19, 2020

Genesis 37:1–11

Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.
This is the account of Jacob’s family line.
Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
 (Genesis 37:1–11, NIV)

“I enjoy seeing God’s presence in all of Joseph’s life journeys. It gives me much confidence in God’s love for me.”

Thought Questions:

As you read through the introduction of Joseph, what sort of life do you think he had growing up? What would you consider normal and what seems very different to young people growing up today?

What advantages and disadvantages do you think there was for Jospeh since his father loved him more than his other sons?

Despite Joseph’s rocky start, we are going to find out that God uses him for good. How have you found God to be a part of your growing up and in what ways has this helped you do good for him today?