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?

Psalm 125.2 – September 4, 2020

Psalm 125.2

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.

(Psalm 125.2, NIV)

“When we went to the Holy Land, as we were driving into Jerusalem, the song came to me–the Lord truly surrounds his people.”

Thought Questions:

In what ways is being surrounded by God a good thing? Why is this the case?

Jerusalem is literally surrounded by mountains, providing a barrier for protection from outside forces. In what ways has God provided a barrier of protection for you?

How is your faith strengthened knowing God protects you both now and forever?

Psalm 62.1-2 – September 3, 2020

Psalm 62:1–2

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

(Psalm 62:1–2, NIV)

“Each chapter of life, I use these scriptures to renew my mind & keep my sight set on Christ.”

Thought Questions:

Describe a time when you have fully felt rest in God, rest that impacted your entire being.

In what ways did you thank God or give him praise for being the one who brought you rest and salvation?

What are some practical ways we can rely on God to be our rock in a world that is anxious and stressful (and certainly not one in which we find rest)?

2 Samuel 7.1–29 – September 2, 2020

2 Samuel 7:1–29

After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”
Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”
But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:
“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” ’
“Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders  over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
“ ‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’ ”
17 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation. 

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:
“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human!
20 “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.
22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.
25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.
27 “Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”
 (2 Samuel 7:1–29, NIV)

Whom am I that you have brought me this far?

Thought Questions:

Why do you think David felt the need to build a house for the Lord? How disappointed do you think he was to not be able to do so?

How do you think you would have reacted to hear that your family would reign over God’s kingdom forever?

What does David’s reaction to God’s message to him tell us about his character and his heart? How does his reaction serve as a model for you and your response tot he things God has done for you?

1 Corinthians 10:11–13 – September 1, 2020

1 Corinthians 10:11–13

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.  (1 Corinthians 10:11–13, NIV)

They say history repeats itself. Are we willing to look back and avoid mistakes of previous generations?

Thought Questions:

What sort of spiritual advice–both positive and negative–have you received in your life? How have you applied these things to your own spiritual journey?

What are some ways we ensure we are standing firm, not assuming we have it all together and are not at risk from Satan’s attacks?

In what ways have you found God to provide a way out of temptations you have faced?

Household Codes – September 28, 2019

Isaiah 54.1-57.14; Ephesians 6.1-24; Psalm 70.1-5; Proverbs 24.8

The writers of ancient literature would often times categorize people into grouping so as to give instruction to these specific collections of people. To fathers, one set of instructions; to the mothers, another, etc. Here is Ephesians, Paul does the same thing, giving instructions to the various members of the household (hence: household codes). How do you see these instructions applying to you and what “codes” or instructions are needed for your household?

Questions:

How are we just and fair to all, doing what is right and good? Why is this such a rare trait in today’s world?

Why is obeying parents such an often talked about topic in Scripture?

How have you found joy and gladness in your search for God?

How do we identify those who do evil as troublemakers?

Like a Lamb… – September 27, 2019

Isaiah 51.1-53.12; Ephesians 5.1-33; Psalm 69.19-36; Proverbs 24.7

This section of Isaiah (especially chapter 53) contains many references that we have heard before, most often as descriptions of Jesus and his sacrifice for us. As you read through this passage, how is your understanding of Jesus as a sacrifice for us changed or is strengthened, given the full context described by Isaiah?

Questions:

In what ways is the start of Isaiah 51 the Hebrew equivalent of The Lion King’s “Remember who you are”?

“Imitate God.” How is that even possible?

Have you ever felt like no one–no one–would show you pity? What did you do in that circumstance?

Why is wisdom too lofty for fools?

The Power of God – September 26, 2019

Isaiah 48.12-50.11; Ephesians 4.17-32; Psalm 69.1-18; Proverbs 24.5-6

For many of us, there is no question that God is Sovereign. We consider him the Almighty and no one or no thing has power over him. If that is the case, why do we often turn to our own devices or substitutes (the Bible would call these things idols) to provide us the power we think we need in difficult times in our lives? Why would we not just trust in the power of God?

Questions:

“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.” Do we think this? How do our actions demonstrate this to be true … or not?

How does the Spirit renew our thoughts or actions?

In what ways do we understand our prayers differently when we realize we are praying to the God of unfailing love?

In what ways are people who are wise mightier than those who are strong?

A Gift – September 23, 2019

Isaiah 41.17-43.13; Ephesians 2.1-22; Psalm 67.1-7; Proverbs 23.29-35

We live in a world that rewards those who work hard. An independent spirit and the desire (and ability) to pull oneself up by one’s own bootstraps are at times idolized or celebrated as the ideal characteristics of good member of society. The problem is that when we begin to approach our faith and following God with this same attitude, we actually prevent ourselves from coming to him. Our salvation is God’s masterpiece. We can’t do enough to gain it, not can we create it for ourselves. We can only accept that God has given it to us. How do you celebrate the gift of God’s grace in your life?

Questions:

How often do you give credit to God for the things he has done, versus just assuming his good things are “life per normal?”

How difficult is it for you to understand you were dead to your sins, especially if your life has never been full of sin?

Today, may God be merciful and bless us. May his face smile with favor on us.

Summarize today’s reading from Proverbs in a sentence. Why do you think this issue was so important to the proverb writer?

Tower of Refuge – September 17, 2019

Isaiah 25.1-28.13; Galatians 3.10-22; Psalm 61.1-8; Proverbs 23.17-18

In a world that was filled with individuals or bands of people who would raid neighboring villages, a tower of refuge stood tall, a symbol of protection and security. All throughout scripture, but especially in this passage from Isaiah, we get a picture of God being the one who protects those who need such a refuge, people who have no other recourse. How has God been a tower of refuge for you when you needed it most?

Questions:

Why does it seem odd that Isaiah starts this reading with words of praise for the “wonderful things” God has done, yet all of the surrounding texts have spoken of doom and gloom?

Describe a time that you were aware you were a prisoner of sin, yet free through the power of Jesus.

How does it feel to be sheltered under God’s wings?

The proverb writer tells us not to envy sinners, but why is this so easy to do, at times? What can we do to help us NOT envy them?