Numbers 24.1-25.18; Luke 2.1-35; Psalm 59.1-17; Proverbs 11.14
Have you ever had one of those “mountaintop” experiences? A moment when your faith and God’s glory seemed to connect in a way that exceeded your everyday ordinary moments? And you never wanted that moment or that experience to end, for fear that joy would go away? It is interesting that the shepherds, after hearing from the heavenly host and after checking out this new-born Messiah for themselves, simply go back to their flocks, praising God. How have you spent your ordinary day today full of praise for an extraordinary God?
Who are people in your life that are ones who hear the words of God and share them with you? How can you listen to them more?
How do you think you would have reacted to Simeon’s blessing had you been Mary or Joseph?
In what ways have you relied on the “unfailing love” of God to sustain you, especially when you were being attacked by your enemies?
Do you have many advisors, who lead you in the way of the Lord? Who else can you include in your list of Godly, wise leaders?
Numbers 22.21-23.30; Luke 1.57-80; Psalm 58.1-11; Proverbs 11.12-13
Let’s see if we can follow this story. Balaam’s donkey runs him into a wall and lays down beneath him. As a result, Balaam gets mad and beats the donkey, who wants to know why he is being beaten. Balaam replies to the talking donkey: “You made me look like a fool.” Balaam is having a conversation with a donkey. Who made who look like a fool?
Describe a time in your life when you felt powerless to do anything against the will of God – when you could only answer in a manner consistent with God’s message. What brought about this experience?
When Zecariah’s son John was born, Zechariah sings in praise because of the wonderful things God has done. What would your song today contain that describes the good things God has done in your life?
Have you ever wanted to cry out to God: Break off their fangs! What situation caused this and how did this situation resolve itself?
When have you been sensible and kept quiet?
Numbers 21.2-22.20; Luke 1.26-56; Psalm 57.1-11; Proverbs 11.9-11
The story of Balaam provides us an opportunity to better understand what it means to be a prophet for God. While I would not claim we have the same status as a prophet like him, I do think we each have an opportunity to speak words from God to others. When we do, are we going to speak the words they want to hear, or are we going to speak a true word from the Lord?
Would you consider yourself “powerless” to do anything against the will of the Lord? What would it take for us to be in a place where we feel this way?
How well do you think we would respond to the news Mary received? Are we willing to say: “I am the Lord’s servant?”
How does God fulfill his purposes in you?
When have you seen a city celebrate because of the godly succeeding?
Numbers 19.1-20.19; Luke 1.1-25; Psalm 56.1-13; Proverbs 11.8
Given the amount of frustration the people of Israel caused Moses, given their constant grumbling and complain, and given that Moses previously made water come out of a rock by striking it, don’t we have some sense of sympathy for Moses here? What would you have done? I’m not so sure I wouldn’t have done the same thing Moses did. Yet God expects our trust in him–in His goodness and his power. We do not have to demonstrate our own strength, but point to the power that resides in Him. Do we trust Him enough to allow Him to act on our behalf?
How important do you think it was for the role of the high priest to be “formally’ handed over to Eleazar? Why do you think this is the case?
This is the third beginning of the story of Jesus we have read. What is similar to the other stories? What is different?
Twice in Psalm 56 the psalmist writes: “I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?” Do you trust in God? What do you fear?
If the godly are rescued from trouble, why do we still have trouble? How do you think the writer of this proverb would have answered this question?
Numbers 16.41-18.32; Mark 16.1-20; Psalm 55.1-23; Proverbs 11.7
Your Bible probably mentions in a note or by using italicized typeface that verses 9-20 of Mark 16 are not in the most reliable of our Bible manuscripts. I think for some, the fact that the women come to the tomb, Jesus is not there, and they leave “trembling and bewildered, and … frightened” just seems like too strange of an ending. Yet, if you have been reading Mark’s gospel closely, it makes perfect sense. In a way, Mark is just identifying the reaction many of us would have had if we found ourselves in these women’s shoes. He also leaves us with an important question: These women ran in fear. What are you going to do?
So let me get this straight. The Lord punishes Israel for grumbling against Moses and Aaron, people are killed over their complaints, and then the very next morning … the people start to complain all over again. What’s wrong with these people?
What does the fact that the women brought spices to anoint Jesus tell us about their understanding of the situation at hand?
“Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you.” (Ps. 55.22) What burdens do you need to give God today?
What is the connection between wickedness and relying on our own strength?
Numbers 15.17-16.40; Mark 15.1-47; Psalm 54.1-7; Proverbs 11.5-6
If you read Mark 15 carefully, you discover there were at least two people who knew Jesus’ true identity. In the midst of the accusations, the mocking, the jeering, two of the most unlikely suspects understand that the man they are witnessing is indeed the Son of God. Which brings the focus on us. Many reading this might claim to follow Jesus, but in the midst of the chaos of this life, do we stop and proclaim: Surely this man is the Son of God?
What things similar to the blue tassels of the Israelites might we use to help remind us of God who rescues us?
How bad would a group of people have to be that they preferred a known murderer to someone who brought life to others, instead of take it away?
In what ways have you been able to say: God is my helper?
What examples can you give of ambitious people who have been trapped by their desires to get ahead?
Numbers 14.1-15.16; Mark 14.53-72; Psalm 53.1-6; Proverbs 11.4
If you were accused of something you did not do, how much effort would you expend to prove you were not guilty? I can’t help but think I would say anything and everything that might help my cause and when people did not listen, I would say it again, only louder. Yet there is something incredibly powerful (truth be told, maybe even speaking louder than all the voices!) of someone accused, yet refusing to defend himself or herself from false accusations. Had you been a bystander during the “trial” of Jesus, how do you think you would have reacted to his silence?
Can you think of a time when you refused to listen to someone trying to persuade you to follow God in the midst of a trial or during a choice you had to make? How did not listening turn out for you?
How maddening would it have been for Jesus to have to sit and listen to the Jewish religious leaders try to find people whose stories would align, all the while seeing them not being able to do so?
If God looked down form heaven today to see if anyone was truly wise and followed him, what response do you think he would give? How does your life support or detract from that response?
Riches versus right living. Which would you prefer?