I Can Do All Things… – October 3, 2019

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?

Questions:

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?

You Can Go Your Own Way – October 2, 2019

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?

Questions:

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?

What Jesus Has Done For Us – October 1, 2019

Isaiah 62.6-65.25; Philippians 2.19-3.4; Psalm 73.1-28; Proverbs 24.13-14

“We put no confidence in human effort.” Paul’s words tend to be difficult for us to fully accept. On the surface, we would agree with him: there is nothing we can do to gain salvation from God. We have heard this enough to recognize the truth in the statement, yet there is a part of us that tries to prove otherwise. We cannot stand the thought of not earning our way, of doing enough to be recognized. In what ways do you rely on Jesus and what he has done for you rather than trying to earn your standing with God through human efforts?

Questions:

What has God done beyond your expectations?

How have you rejoiced in the Lord today?

Describe a time you have been bitter, yet God still held on to you. How do you continue to remind yourself of his presence in your life?

In what ways have you found wisdom to be sweet as honey?

Why Have You Forsaken Me?

2017.04.09 - 1HBSMy God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me?
(Psalm 22.1)

Today’s passages:
Psalm 22.1-22
Isaiah 45.21-25
Philippians 2.5-11
Matthew 26.36-75

I wonder how many times Jesus asked himself the following question in the week leading up to his crucifixion: Why am I having to go through this?

Sometimes I think we have this assumption that Jesus spent his life going through the motions as if reading from a script.

“Let’s see… Today I am to go down to Galilee and heal some people when I get there. Oh yes, then tomorrow it looks like the schedule says I need to teach some people.”

I think taking such a view removes some of the significance that Jesus was divine, yet he was also fully human. I cannot explain how that happens, but I believe the humanity of Jesus caused him to not only be tempted in every way like we are (Hebrews 4.15) but to also have some control over the ways he lived his life. If this is true—and I think the gospels demonstrate that it is—then Jesus’ last week must have been one that was full of anxious anticipation. He knew what was to come and quite frankly, I am not sure he was excited about the consequences at hand.

If you know the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, you know that one of the seven last words he spoke was a quotation of Psalm 22.1, as seen above. He did not quote the entire psalm, just the first half of the first verse: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

One can take this in a couple of different ways. The first would be to assume the abandonment by God in the precise moment that Jesus died. There are all kinds of theological arguments made for such a view, each trying to point out that Jesus suffered while going through death for our salvation.

The second thought about this quote of Jesus is that when one would quote a portion of a psalm, that entire psalm would come into the minds of those who heard the quotation. If this is the case, then we cannot simply stop at the idea of abandonment, but must also include the psalmist’s words that God is “enthroned as the Holy One” (v. 3) and that the writer would “declare [God’s] name to [his] people.” (v. 22) This second view probably gets closer to what Jesus was expressing with his quote on the cross. This idea is further enhanced when we look at the Philippian passage from today’s reading.

Many of us are familiar with these verses, which many scholars believe was originally a song that Paul used within his letter. The gist of the song goes like this: Jesus was God (we read this truth expressed all throughout Scripture) yet, he did not hold on to his “godness.” Instead, he gave it up (literally: emptied himself) so that he could be a sacrifice for us. This was an act of obedience, by the way. We might assume that if we knew we were to be glorified after the fact (see verses 9-11), then it would be easy to give up the life we currently have for the moment. I believe—whatever Jesus knew about what was to come—he was willing to give up his life, even if there was no guarantee for something in the future.

Which brings us full circle to my original question. How many times have you asked yourself: Why do I have to go through this? It is easy for us to assume that our lives, once we have committed to following Jesus, suddenly become heavy with the responsibilities of being good and not sinning and the like. We can also swing to the other side of the pendulum and assume that because we follow Christ, our lives will be nothing but joy and pleasantries. If something goes wrong, we think that God must have abandoned us. Both ways of thinking are filled with the dangers of overgeneralization, as well as the possibilities of missing God at work.

Perhaps a better question to ask, then, is: How can I remain obedient to God regardless of the circumstances that present themselves to me throughout my day?

 

Questions:

•Would you say you spend your time more in the first part of Psalm 22 (the one lamenting God’s forsaking you) or the latter part (where you rejoice in the assembly, praising God)? Why is this the case? In what ways have you been able to find a balance between these two extremes?

•How do Isaiah’s words that deliverance comes “in the Lord alone” provide comfort for you? In what ways have you tried to find deliverance in other things besides God? How has God shown himself as the only one who provides you deliverance and strength?

•How have you been able to take on the same mindset as Christ in your relationships with one another?

•As you read through our reading from Matthew, what stands out to you, even if you have read these verses many times before? How do you see Christ’s humility displayed in these verses?

•How do you remain obedient to God regardless of the circumstances that present themselves to you throughout the day?