Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. (Acts 9.1–9, NIV)
While we know him as Paul, the one who wrote a large part of the New Testament, he wasn’t always the follower of Jesus we know of him. People change when they see Jesus!
What reasons did Saul have to threaten followers of Jesus?
How do you think Paul reacted when he heard Jesus ask: “Why are you persecuting me?”
How do you think your life would have changed if you had encountered Jesus in the same way Saul/Paul did?
Ezekiel 39.1-40.27; James 2.18-3.18; Psalm 118.1-18; Proverbs 28.2
It slips up on even the best of us … one careless word spoken in haste, without thought. The end result, however, can be disastrous. Perhaps even life-changing. How have you seen a word spoken in haste change lives forever? How do you work to ensure you “tame” your tongue?
How does God’s blessings or punishment show his glory to other people?
In what ways is your faith so strong that good deeds are a result?
What reasons do you have to give thanks to the Lord?
How do wise and knowledgable leaders bring stability?
Ezekiel 35.1-36.38; James 1.1-18; Psalm 116.1-19; Proverbs 27.23-27
One of the biggest challenges any of us who follow Jesus faces is the struggle to reconcile how bad things happen to us, even when we are seeking to follow him as closely as possible. It would seem our lives would get better … and easier when we follow him. James writes when we face troubles, we should consider it joy. Say what!? What we discover is that as with most things, our faith grows when challenged and stretched. Facing troubles? Know you have an opportunity for growth!
Why would it be important for God to give the people of Israel–and us–a new heart and a new spirit?
When was the last time you asked God for wisdom?
How well do you realize that God hears you? Does your life demonstrate love for him as a result?
How well do you care for those you are able to influence and help follow God more?
Ezekiel 29.1-30.26; Hebrews 11.32-12.13; Psalm 112.1-10; Proverbs 27.17
Hebrews 11 and 12 are some of the most encouraging chapters in all of Scripture. Who doesn’t like the idea of the great men and women of faith cheering you on so that you run without any hinderance? The truth is that we have some of those same people in our lives today. While we certainly praise God for heroes of the Bible, we also need to praise him for those who encourage us every single day to follow him better. Who would make your “modern day” list of faith heroes?
Why would God return Egypt to its rightful place and restore it to its land? What does this say about God’s purposes for countries beyond the nation of Israel?
In what ways has your faith in God allowed you to do great things for him?
How has good come to you as a result of you lending money or operating your business in a fair manner?
How have friends sharpened you?
Ezekiel 21.1-22.31; Hebrews 10.1-17; Psalm 108.1-13; Proverbs 27.12
“I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” (Hebrews 10.17, quoting Jeremiah 31.34) How good is this news? For most of us, we are all too aware that while we forgive people, “remembering them no more” is rarely a reality. Take a moment to think what it means that all of the things you have done in the past are forgotten. Forgiveness from God is not in play today, but revisited tomorrow. Why would we NOT seek it?
Have you ever had a time when you tried to cover your sins, but they were so obvious, there was really no way of avoiding them being known? Knowing this, how does our passage from Hebrews mean even that much more to you?
Where would you be if Christ had not come to take away your sin, good for all time?
How do you demonstrate the confidence you have in God?
What dangers and precautions do you think the Proverb writer is referring to in today’s passage?