Daniel 1.1-21 – September 17, 2020

Daniel 1:1–21

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.
Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
21 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.
 (Daniel 1:1–21, NIV)

“It is hard to pick one, but I’m currently reading Daniel. That’s not necessarily why I chose it, but I love and am inspired by the faith and complete confidence Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had in God.”

Thought Questions:

How do you think you would have reacted if you had found yourself in the position of Daniel?

Daniel and friends had plenty of reasons to be bitter about being in exile or upset that he was being asked to go against what he believed. What gave Daniel the power to persevere in faith in spite of his circumstances?

How can you foster a dependence on God that proves faithful regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in?

2 Kings 6.16 – September 16, 2020

2 Kings 6:16

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  (2 Kings 6:16, NIV)

Just when you think you are completely outnumbered…

Thought Questions:

Describe a time when you felt completely outnumbered by your enemies. How did it feel and what sort of solution needed to happen in order to get out of the situation?

Describe a time when God proved his power and might in spite of what looked like long odds against you? How did he help you overcome the situation you were in ?

In what ways are we often blind to the power of God in our life? How can we see him better?

Genesis 37.12–36 – September 15, 2020

Genesis 37:12–36

Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”
“Very well,” he replied.
14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”
16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”
17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’ ” 

So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”
21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.
23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing—24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.
26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?”
31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”
33 He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”
34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.
36 Meanwhile, the Midianites  sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.
 (Genesis 37:12–36, NIV)

The first of many moments the life of Jospeh that seems to be a road block to his success. But will it really be such a hinderance for him?

Thought Questions:

If you were the brothers of Joseph, how do you think you would have treated him. (You have to be honest, he was sort of a brat, no?)

If you were hearing the story of Jospeh for the first time, how do you think you would have reacted to hearing that he was sold into slavery by his brothers? What odds would you give Jospeh for a long and prosperous life?

We know the rest of the story, but how do you think Jospeh felt toward his brothers at this point in this life? Do you think he had any idea of what was to come? Why do you think this is the case?

1 Kings 3.1-15 – September 14, 2020

1 Kings 3:1–15

Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the Lord, and the wall around Jerusalem. The people, however, were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the Lord. Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.
The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” 15 Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream.
He returned to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the Lord’s covenant and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then he gave a feast for all his court.
 (1 Kings 3:1–15, NIV)

Solomon was considered the wisest man on earth, but he didn’t get that way just by happenstance.

Thought Questions:

If you were able to ask God for one thing, knowing you would receive it, what would you ask for? In what ways does this question make us uncomfortable, almost as if we were treating God like a genie in a bottle?

What does it mean to have a discerning heart? How would such a heart be beneficial as you were attempting to live a Godly life?

How easy is it for you determine right from wrong? In what ways do you attempt to learn better the difference between these two?

Matthew 13.44-46 – September 13, 2020

Matthew 13:44–46

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.  (Matthew 13:44–46, NIV)

What do you value more than all of your possessions?

Thought Questions:

What do we understand about the kingdom of heaven when we discover a man sold everything he had to “purchase” it? How does a life of giving up everything compare to what are people often willing to give up to follow Jesus?

In what ways has seeking the kingdom of heaven cost you everything?

When you trade in everything you have for the kingdom of heaven, what do you have left?

1 Corinthians 6.12 – September 11, 2020

1 Corinthians 6:12

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.  (1 Corinthians 6:12, NIV)

 

“Reminder to me that just because its OK to have things, does not mean its helpful to me.”

Thought Questions:

In what ways does our culture condition us to believe everything is within our right to do or to have? Where does this idea come from?

What are things you can think of that you would consider good, but not necessarily beneficial?

How does focusing on following Jesus change your perspective of what you have a “right” to do or have?

1 Timothy 4.12 – September 10, 2020

1 Timothy 4:12

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.  (1 Timothy 4:12, NIV)

“It was the first verse that made me realize that I could do things and talk to people about Jesus. I had always thought that talking about God was for adults only. And to this day that verse helps me to pursue my dreams.”

Thought Questions:

What reasons do you have to think your ability to share the good news of Jesus with others in invalid or not important?

How have you seen a young person set an example for others in the way they lived their life?

How well do you set an example for others in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity … regardless of your age?

Psalm 34.1–22 – September 7, 2020

Psalm 34:1–22

I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together. 

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them. 

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

(Psalm 34:1–14, NIV)

Taste and see that the Lord is good!

Thought Questions:

What sort of actions would you describe as glorifying and extolling the Lord together? In what ways do you do these things and how can you do them more?

How has the Lord delivered you from all your fears?

Does it seem odd that we would describe seeking the Lord with the idea of “taste and see?” Why is this a perfect way to describe our desire to know him better?

Matthew 8:14–17 – September 6, 2020

Matthew 8:14–17

When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.
16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 

“He took up our infirmities
and bore our diseases.” 

(Matthew 8:14–17, NIV)

Jesus does not just care if we trust him or “do all the right things,” he cares about us and our illness and hurts.

Thought Questions:

What do you think prompted Jesus to heal Peter’s mother-in-law? How do you think Peter and his family responded?

One of the key things Jesus did during his earthly ministry is heal people. Why do you think healing others was so important to him? How do you think Jesus compared healing others with the need to follow him?

How do you feel knowing that Jesus cares about not just your spiritual health, but also your physical health?

Jeremiah 29.11 – September 5, 2020

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

“It shows me that my life is in God’s hands.”

Thought Questions:

As you think about your day, how does your planning change knowing that God knows you and wants good for you?

In what ways have you felt like you have prospered because of God being with you?

How has God given you hope?