The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”
26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:1–33, NIV)
What would you have done, when faced with following God’s commands in the face of seemingly giant odds stacked against you?
Why do you think God would have the people of Israel scout out a land he had already promised to give them?
Why is it easier to listen to the people who are negative than it is to listen to those who are calling you to be faithful?
If you were the people of Israel, how would you move forward at this point, based on what you have read?
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4.14, NIV)
“Esther truly saved the Jewish nation because of her courage.”
Why is it easier for us to remain silent, rather than speak up in the face of adversity?
What can we do to give ourselves more strength to speak up?
Describe a time when you felt as if you were at just the right place at just the right time to help someone in the name of the Lord? In what ways did you feel God at work in that moment?
Jeremiah 23.21-25.38; 2 Thessalonians 2.1-17; Psalm 84.1-12; Proverbs 25.15
For 23 years God sent his prophets to show Israel the ways they were traveling down the wrong path. 23 years. That seems like a long, long time. Why do you think the people could not understand what God was saying to them after 23 years? Why couldn’t they understand sooner?
Which group of people might one expect to be represented by the bad figs? The ones punished and sent into exile or the ones who remained and continued to live in Jerusalem? Why do you think this is the case?
Stand firm. Why can this be so difficult for us to do?
How have you seen a single day with God better than anything else you could experience?
In what ways can soft speech break bones?
Jeremiah 22.1-23.20; 2 Thessalonians 1.1-12; Psalm 82.1-8; Proverbs 25.9-10
Timely advice… valid criticism… trustworthy messengers. All simple moments, yet if we listen to them, able to bring us not only joy, but also good direction. When have you received timely advice that seemed like an apple of gold, a great treasure?
God asks his leaders to be fair-minded and just. Doesn’t seem too much to ask, does it? Then why do we often need to be reminded of this truth?
How is the name of Jesus honored through how you live?
When have you cried out to God, asking him not be silent? How did the situation resolve itself?
How disappointing are clouds that appear, yet bring no rain? Why does the proverb writer use this analogy?
Jeremiah 16.16-18.23; 1 Thessalonians 4.1-5.3; Psalm 81.1-16; Proverbs 25.6-8
We like to assume we know what is best for us and we are more than willing to tell God how he should act in our lives for that “best” to come to fruition. Unfortunately–at least from our way of thinking–God does not work that way. He is the potter and we are the clay. He, as the potter, has every right to form us in the way he deems best. (To even start over if he needs to!) And truth be known, his way really is better than our way of thinking. How how you wrestled with God’s acting on your life, only to discover that his way really was better?
In what ways do we attempt to create our own gods? How has that worked out for us?
What do we need to do to live in a way that please God?
How has God taken a load from your shoulders or a heavy task from your hands?
Why are we so prone to push our way in amongst great people rather than waiting for an invitation, as God suggests?
Jeremiah 14.11-16.15; 1 Thessalonians 2.9-3.13; Psalm 80.1-19; Proverbs 25.1-5
When one reads through the Old Testament, particularly the prophets such as Jeremiah, one is struck about harsh they tend to sound. God sounds really, really grumpy, doesn’t he? Yet a closer look reveals two things. First, there is grace scattered all the way throughout the prophets. God wants to restore his people. The second thing you see, related to the first, is that God wants his people to turn to him. Return to me and I will restore you, God says. How important is it for us to repent to God for our actions and attitudes that are contrary to Him?
How bad do you have to be if even Moses or Samuel cannot plead your case and get God to listen?
What sort of people would be considered your spiritual “pride and joy?” Describe the relationship you have with them.
Why is it only through God turning us to Himself that we are saved?
How can we go about removing the impurities of our life?
Jeremiah 4.19-6.15; Colossians 1.18-2.7; Psalm 77.1-20; Proverbs 24.23-25
One of the challenges those who follow Jesus face is an acceptance of the forgiveness we receive through Jesus’ reconciliation. We know ourselves too well to believe that we can be considered holy. (Does God even KNOW what I have done?) I think this is why all throughout Paul’s writings (a guy who knew what it was to do bad things, by the way) he reminds people: You stand before God without a single fault because of what Christ has done. How does such truth affect how you live for God?
Some people assume the God of the Old Testament (Really the same God, he just seems different!) had no grace, but a close reading shows that not to be the case. Where do you see the hope of forgiveness in today’s reading from Jeremiah?
How hard do you work to present others perfect or mature before God?
What do you do when you find yourself in deep trouble? Where do you turn?
In what ways do Christians today show favoritism?
Jeremiah 2.31-4.18; Colossians 1.1-17; Psalm 76.1-12; Proverbs 24.21-22
Watching a movie a second time is not nearly as exciting as seeing it the first time through, yet there is something exciting about being able to enjoy a movie because you know the outcome. Life can be the same way. If you know the outcome of your life, if you are confident in the hope you have, you have a much different perspective on your life. How is our confidence in the hope we have in God able to create a better lived life for us?
“Fickle Israel.” What did Israel do to gain such a moniker and how would you like to have to live that reputation down?
Pray Colossians 1.9-12 as your prayer for others today.
What vows do you make to the Lord and how do you work to keep them?
Why does disaster hit rebels suddenly? Why would we want to follow them in the first place?
Jeremiah 1.1-2.30; Philippians 4.1-23; Psalm 75.1-10; Proverbs 24.17-20
One of the most popular verses in scripture may also be one of the most misused. Philippians 4.13 is used to encourage us to do any sort of major task that we face, it is the pep-talk of pep-talks from Scripture. Yet if you go read the entire chapter, Paul is not writing about the major tasks he can accomplish, but rather the ways he can be content in any circumstance. How does your thinking change, and the actions that follow improve, when you know that any situation you face–good or bad–you can overcome it?
How cool is it to know that God knew you before you were even formed in the womb? How does this change your understanding of your value and worth?
Why is it so easy for people who belong to the Lord to get crossways with one another and why does Paul see unity as such an important aspects of being a part of God’s people?
In what ways are you thankful for God who is near.
Why is it so easy for us to rejoice when our enemies fall? Why would the proverb writer instruct us not to do so?
Isaiah 66.1-24; Philippians 3.5-21; Psalm 74.1-23; Proverbs 24.15-16
Fleetwood Mac were not the first to point out one can go their own ways; the prophet Isaiah wrote similar words back in his day. The challenge with Isaiah’s words are that even though you can chose your ways, the results will not be good. Look at what Isaiah writes. How do his words compare to your own results when you have tried to go at it on your own?
If everything on heaven and earth belongs to God, how should our actions reflect this?
Use Philippians 3.10-11 as your prayer for today.
Have you ever felt rejected by God? How did you respond?
Why does it only take one disaster to overthrow the wicked?