Study Guide

Unfamiliar Necessities - Leaving

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READING 1: Matthew 28:18-20

8 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

READING 2: Acts 13:1-3

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

QUESTIONS

1. In just a few words, sum up what you think Jesus wants the Church to do in this life. Making it more personal, what does He want you to do in this life?

2. Jesus gives these instructions in Matthew not just to His disciples in AD 30 but to all His disciples in every age of the Church. What is the main thing He is asking us to do here? What evidence do you find for your answer in what Jesus says? Have you accounted for everything he says?

3. In Acts 13: 2a, Paul and Barnabas are called to embark on the first missionary journey. Who calls them? Were they expecting it do you think? What cost and what joy is there for their local church as they go?

4. In verse 2b, describe in your own words what God says here.

5. Reflecting on verse 2b, what work had God called them to? Whose work was it? Does God have work for you to do also or do you not count in the same way as these people in the Bible?

6. In Acts 13:2c, we read that the church sent them out. Taking into account what you have read in Matthew 28 already, what does this mean? What resources did they have? Who was going with them? And by what authority were they to speak and to suffer for the sake of Christ? Has God called you? Where has He called you to? What resources will you have and what companionship?

7. Pray for our whole church. We long to be faithful in these things and balance busy lives with the priorities of the Gospel.

2 Kings 23: 1-3 - Rediscovery of the Word

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2 Kings 23:1-3

Then the king sent, and all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem were gathered to him. And the king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.

 

Discussion Questions for Personal & Group Study-

1. Take a moment and read 2 Kings 23:1-3

2. Now, skim chapters 22-25. Describe what has taken place in these chapters.

3. What were Josiah’s immediate personal responses upon the rediscovery of the Word (22:11-19)?

4. What were Josiah’s public responses upon the rediscovery of the Word (23:1-27)?

5. As one continues reading in 2 Kings they will see that the response of the people was merely external. Their covenantal response to the Word was not genuine. Read 1 Samuel 15:22; Hosea 6:6; Psalm 51:16-17; Proverbs 21:3; Mark 13:33 & Amos 5:21-24

Take a moment to search your own heart. How is your personal response to the Words of God? 

6. When reading these texts in 2 Kings one has to wonder, “How did they lose the Word of God?” Now, it begs us to ask ourselves, “How have I personally ‘lost’ the Word of God?” What value does the Word have for you daily? 

7. As we come to the end of a series on 1 and 2 Kings we must ask ourselves, “If the Word of God is ‘profitable’ (2Timothy 3:16-17), then how has/is this series on 1 & 2 Kings profitable for its readers?”

2 Kings 18-20 - Hezekiah's Unlikely Recovery

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READING: 2 Kings 20:1-11

1 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Now, O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lordcame to him: “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord, and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David's sake.” And Isaiah said, “Bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover.” And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord on the third day?” And Isaiah said, “This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?”10 And Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps. Rather let the shadow go back ten steps.” 11 And Isaiah the prophet called to the Lord, and he brought the shadow back ten steps, by which it had gone down on the steps of Ahaz.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Do you believe that bad things shouldn’t happen to good people? If you do, you are in the majority, who (no matter the religion) have always treated the gods or god as a way to be insured against the tragedies of life. How is that different from Christianity?

  2. In chapter 18, the writer of 2 Kings tells us that a new king succeeeded to the throne of Judah. Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz (one of the most evil of Judah’s kings) but entirely different from him. Looking at 18: 3-8, list all the ways that Hezekiah was different from the kings that had gone before him. What does the writer mean that “he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD according to all that his father David had done” (3)?

  3. Later in the chapter, the Assyrian king, Sennacherib attacks the outlying cities of Judah and begins to threaten Hezekiah verbally. He sends out his emissary, Rabshakeh (18:19 ff), to undermine Hezekiah and the people’s confidence. Reading these verses, what is true and untrue in what Rabshekah says? What is a lie and what is a boast?

  4. What can we learn from this about the way that the Devil will seek to discourage us? Peter says that “your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Roaring lions are, by reputation, toothless, but what does Peter tell us we should do in 1 Peter 5:9?

  5. In chapter 19, Jerusalem is finally surrounded by Sennacherib’s massive army. What is it that Sennacherib has done to offend God? What does Hezekiah do in this light, and what happens? What can we learn from this and the later events of chapter 20 (when God heals Hezekiah’s disease) about what God can do when we find ourselves helpless and without any ability to save ourselves?

  6. Death stalks these last two chapters: first in the sudden death of 185,000 Assyrian troops besieging Jerusalem and then in the disease that afflicts Hezekiah. What hope do we have in Christ concerning the things that frighten us in this life and in the next? What sign has been given to us about the shadow of death at the Resurrection?

  7. Ask the Lord to give you joy and boldness in your faith because of Christ.

2 Kings 15-17 - It's All Over But The Crying

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READING: 2 Kings 17

Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land and came to Samaria, and for three years he besieged it.

In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced. And the people of Israel did secretly against the Lord their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. 10 They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, 11 and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the Lord carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger, 12 and they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this.” 13 Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”

14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them. 16 And they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. 17 And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. 18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.

19 Judah also did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced. 20 And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until he had cast them out of his sight.

QUESTIONS:

  1. How drawn are you to celebrity? Do you find yourselves attracted by the goings on of the rich and famous? Are you fascinated by the power of certain human beings?

  2. At this point in 2 Kings it is clear that the Bible is painfully honest about the disappointment that even the righteous kings of Israel were. Look back over chapters 15-17, list the patterns you see of human failure as the writer summarizes the careers of the kings?

  3. However, the writer of 2 Kings, probably the prophet Jeremiah, resists the idea that human activity is what rules the affairs of the world. Look at 2 Kings 17:7, what is he telling us about the real cause of Israel’s decline and fall?

  4. The context of 2 Kings 17 is the warning that God gave to Israel 500 years before this in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. There are consequences to human sin which play themselves out across sometimes long periods of time. As you look at your own family background, or even as you look at the history of the town or the nation you grew up in, what patterns of sin have you seen? 

  5. The horror of how far even the kings of Judah move very far from the worship of God to (see Ahaz’s sacrifice of his own son in the pagan temple of Molech in Jerusalem in 16:3), is balanced, however, by the repeated return of righteous kings despite even evil examples in fathers and families. The writer tells us that God promises repeatedly that He will not destroy Judah for the sake of David. Looking at your own sin, what hope do you gather from the Son of David, Jesus?  

  6. Jude tells us: “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). How would you encourage yourself in the faith of the Lord Jesus by applying God’s grace to Judah in 2 Kings and to your own life when you look at your own record of sins and wanderings?

  7. Martin Luther writes in one of his letters: "If we Truly believe that Christ is our Savior, we have a God of love, and to see God in faith is to look upon His friendly heart. So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: "I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God.  Where He is, there I shall be also."

    Mediate upon this, knowing that God will keep you to the end.

2 Kings 9-10: Jehu’s Mission from God

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1. How do others in the story respond to Jehu? Look at the Elisha’s instructions to the other prophet, the reactions of the other army commanders, the watchman with King Joram, the leaders of Samaria, etc. What might their reactions tell us about Jehu’s character or reputation?

2. Are all of Jehu’s actions in line with God’s command? If not, why might Jehu have deviated from God’s instruction?

3. Had you been present with Jehu, as Bidkar his aide was (9:25) and as Jehonadab was (10:15), how might you have advised or cautioned him?

4. How do you feel about all the violence in this story? How do you think the Scriptures intend for us to feel?

5. What does 10:32 tell us about God’s attitude toward Jehu’s reign?

6. What do we learn about God’s character in how He responds to Ahab and then how He responds to Jehu?

2 Kings 2:1-14 I Will Not Leave You

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2Kings 2:1-14

Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. And Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lordlives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.And the sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And he said, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.”

Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.”

Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” 10 And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” 11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more.

Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

1. Read 2 Kings 2:1-14 While you read it, think about it through the lens of passing the baton, as it were, to the next generation.

2. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is profitable for:

-Teaching/Doctrine

-Reproof

-Correction

-Training in Righteousness

3. Take some time to discuss what you see in each of these four categories from this portion of 2 Kings…Is there any teaching/doctrine about God or man to be learned…Is there any reproof or reprimand for the characters or for us…is there any type of correction for us in relation to the reproof…and is there any teaching about how we can continue in this or be trained in this righteousness?

4. How might the things you just discussed be applied to your every day life? How about to the life of the Stony Point Church?

5. Spend the remaining time praying for each other and for the application of God’s Word to your lives.

Elijah's Mountain Tops

1 Kings 18 & 19

  • How does God expose Baal as a false god with no power whatsoever?

  • Do the results of the day at Carmel change Jezebel’s heart?

  • What does the testimony of Obadiah suggest for those working in a pagan/worldly environment?

  • Why do you think Baal worship was an appealing option for the Israelites?

  • Can followers of Christ remain neutral when true worship of God is eroded or neglected?

  • Is it possible for the church to engage in Baal style worship? (trying to prove how good we are to entice him to act)

  • Read James 5:13-18 what can be learned about ourselves and praying from this text?

  • Was Elijah scared or just convinced that nothing would change with Jezebel in the house?

  • Why does Elijah want to die? Does God change his thinking on the matter?

1 Kings - Solomon's Folly - 1 Kings 9-11

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READING: 1 KINGS 9:1-9

1 As soon as Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and the king's house and all that Solomon desired to build, 2 the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3 And the Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. 4 And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, 5 then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ 6 But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 8 And this house will become a heap of ruins. Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ 9 Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the Lord has brought all this disaster on them.’”

1 KINGS 11

9 And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded. 11 Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. 12 Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son.

QUESTIONS

  1. (vv.1-2) Set the scene by describing what is happening here according to these first two verses.

  2. God is renewing a covenant with Solomon now that he has finished building the Temple. What are the conditions of the covenant: the ‘if’ and the ‘then’ conditions that he lays before Solomon?

  3. Why is this about David (9:4; 11:, 4, 13)? What lesson does David have for Solomon in the way Solomon should respond to God? Why do you think Solomon’s heart matters more to God than anything else he might do?

  4. How is the worship of other gods a factor in changing Solomon’s heart?

  5. Looking at your own life, are there things that are turning or at risk of turning your heart from the LORD? Does anyone else know about those things that are dangerous to your love for the LORD? Will you tell them?

  6. Jesus said that all Scripture testified to Him? Where do you see Him in these two chapters? How is relying on the work of Christ the proper treatment for a wavering heart?

  7. Ask God to learn from the example of Solomon, and to keep you honest with the LORD.

1 Kings - The Glory of Solomon - 1 Kings 6-8

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READING: 1 KINGS 8:6-21

Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles. And the poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the Holy Place before the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day. There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone that Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.

12 Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. 13 I have indeed built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever.” 14 Then the king turned around and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel stood. 15 And he said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his hand has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to David my father, saying, 16 ‘Since the day that I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there. But I chose David to be over my people Israel.’ 17 Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 18 But the Lord said to David my father, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. 19 Nevertheless, you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.’ 20 Now the Lord has fulfilled his promise that he made. For I have risen in the place of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and I have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 21 And there I have provided a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.”

QUESTIONS

  1. Have you ever been in a temple? What is special about a temple, what are the expectations for a temple that are different from any other place?

  2. What was special for Israel and Judah when it came to the building of a temple? Where had the presence of God been thought to be before this?

  3. Read 2 Samuel 7:1-17. Summarize in your own mind the conversation between God and David (through Nathan). What does David say he wants to do, and what does God explain that He actually wants? What does God say that He will do for David?

  4. Fast forward to the events of 1 Kings 8. What does Solomon claim here about the promise God made to his father? Might Solomon have been mistaken?

  5. Solomon quotes God as promising to David: “your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name” (19), but what did God actually say in 2 Samuel 7:12 and why is the difference relevant? (Check out Revelation 22:16)

  6. List all the advantages and promises that God actually makes in 2 Samuel 7 that show that Christ is our security and our joy.

  7. Hebrews 11 tells us of the people of faith that - “they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Praise God for His provision of a true home for us with Him. Pray for each other as we live in this place of poor substitutes.

1 Kings - The Glory of Solomon - 1 Kings 2-4

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READING: 1 KINGS 4: 20-34

20 Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea. They ate and drank and were happy. 21  Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.

22 Solomon's provision for one day was thirty cors of fine flour and sixty cors of meal, 23 ten fat oxen, and twenty pasture-fed cattle, a hundred sheep, besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fattened fowl. 24 For he had dominion over all the region west of the Euphrates from Tiphsah to Gaza, over all the kings west of the Euphrates. And he had peace on all sides around him. 25 And Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheba, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon. 26 Solomon also had 40,000stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen. 27 And those officers supplied provisions for King Solomon, and for all who came to King Solomon's table, each one in his month. They let nothing be lacking. 28 Barley also and straw for the horses and swift steeds they brought to the place where it was required, each according to his duty. 29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, 30 so that Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. 32 He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005.33 He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. 34 And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.

QUESTIONS

  1. What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘glory’?

  2. What kinds of glory are described in the Bible? Is glory ever given to human beings? If so, how does the glory given to men and women correspond with the glory of God?

  3. In Matthew 6:29, Jesus describes Solomon “in all his glory.” What glories were given to King Solomon? You can read how his first act as king was to execute three enemies. Wise or not, that may not surprise us about a human king, but is there a glory of the King of Kings even there (see Luke 19:11-27?

  4. In chapter 3, God asks Solomon what he desires, and Solomon asks for the gift of wisdom. What is the specific kind of wisdom that Solomon asks for? How does the gift that Solomon receives differ from merely human wisdom? If Solomon was the wisest man who lived before Jesus, describe or recall in your group a time when Jesus showed greater wisdom.

  5. We read in 1 Kings 4:20 that Judah and Israel were “as many as the sand by the sea. “ List the ways that God blessed Israel and Judah under Solomon’s reign in this golden age. Did prosperity, however, mean that there were spiritual dangers in Solomon’s life?

  6. Reflect on your own heart and life, are there areas where - as it was for Solomon - that you are ignorant, insensitive or deceived regarding areas where sin has control over your life? David’s prayer was that God show him “his secret sins” (Psalm 19:12). It is wise to have friends around you who can challenge you regarding things about your life that you cannot see; but you have to allow people in to see those things. Do you have such a friend who can challenge you? Solomon did not.

  7. Pray for yourself or your group that enjoying all the spiritual blessings we have in Christ, that we would help each other to walk in wisdom.

The Death of David - 1 Kings 2:1-12

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Reading: 1 Kings 2:1-2

When David's time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying,“I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man,and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn,that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’

“Moreover, you also know what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, how he dealt with the two commanders of the armies of Israel, Abner the son of Ner, and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed, avenging in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war, and putting the blood of war on the belt around his waist and on the sandals on his feet. Act therefore according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace. But deal loyally with the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table, for with such loyalty they met me when I fled from Absalom your brother. And there is also with you Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a grievous curse on the day when I went to Mahanaim. But when he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ Now therefore do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man. You will know what you ought to do to him, and you shall bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.”

10 Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David. 11 And the time that David reigned over Israel was forty years. He reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.

 

Questions for study and group discussion:

-Review the context from chapter one, then read 1 Kings 2:1-12

-What details do you learn from the context that inform 2:1-12?

-Read 2 Samuel 7:1-17. How does that text relate to what we see going on here in 1 Kings 2:1-12?

-Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. In that passage you see 4 specific categories in which Scripture is profitable: Doctrine(teaches us about God, about mankind, etc.), Reproof(tells us what is wrong), Correction(picks us up and tells us how to make what is wrong, right…makes us useful again), Instruction in Righteousness(teaches how to live God’s way).

-Take some time to really go through 1 Kings 2:1-12 using those 4 categories.

-What in this text and context is profitable for doctrine?

-What in this text and context is profitable for reproof?

-What in this text and context is profitable for correction?

-What in this text and context is profitable for instruction in righteousness?

-How does this text point us to Jesus?

-How does this text speak to us about God and His promises?

-Take the remainder of the time to pray for one another about the truths and practical application from this text.

Copy of Paradise Lost & Regained - Week Four: Life and Work

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READINGS: Genesis 3:17-19 and Ecclesiastes 2:18-26

Genesis 2

Genesis 3:17-19

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
    and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
    ‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
    in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
    and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.”

Ecclesiastes 2

18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. 24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

QUESTIONS:

1.    How would you define work? How important is your work to you? To what extent does your work define you?

2. In Genesis 3, God passes a merciful judgment on Adam and Eve. (It is merciful that God expels them from the Garden,because, as we discover, even the fruitlessness of work in a post-Fall world, and even death, will be better than an eternity of these things uninterrupted.) Looking at Genesis 2 and 3, what part was work to play in our original design? How will the work of men and women suffer in this broken world?

3. The Bible gives us in Ecclesiastes a sample of what work looks like many millennia later according to the wisdom of Solomon. What three things does Solomon tell us here that we tend to expect from our work? How do these false promises disappoint us?

4. Ultimately, the Bible gives an answer to the terrible contradiction of our experience of work and life: that we expect so much from something that fails to satisfy us or bring us value; yet someone else’s work does do those things. Looking at the work of Jesus as the mending of what Adam and Eve broke, how can you see that even the effects of the Fall are overcome by the Redemptive work of Jesus?

5. How will you find proper balance to your working life? How will you apply the Gospel to bring that balance?

6. Covenant with a friend, or with your group to address some aspects of your work that you are convicted need rebalancing. Ask God together to give a similar and growing conviction of His rest for you in Jesus.

7.

Paradise Lost & Regained - Week Two: Knowing Each Other - Male and Female

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READINGS: Genesis 2:18-25 and Ephesians 5:22-31

Genesis 2

Genesis 2:18–25

18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (ESV)

Ephesians 5

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christis the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wivesshould submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctifyher, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself insplendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same wayhusbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hatedhis own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

QUESTIONS:

1.    Think about, or discuss among your group: five basic assumptions about what makes a man and a woman different from one another (I think we can spare the obviously anatomical differences!) Now try the same with five things men and women have in common. Are these things innate or cultural?

2. Looking at the account in Genesis 2, what do we learn about the one thing that God says was not good that He had made in all of Creation? Why do you suppose then, reading the rest of the story, that God made it so?

3. Similarly, in verses 19-20, why was it necessary, do you think for Adam to be taken through the animal naming ceremony only to find that there was no one among the creatures suitable for him?

4. For both these past two negatives, it seems that God has a flair for the creative and the dramatic, pleasing surprise! What was Adam’s reaction to Eve? Can you find another such ecstatic reaction in all of the Bible? They are few and far between (Thomas’s reaction to the risen Jesus in John 20, or John’s reaction to the Lamb who could open the scrolls in Revelation 5 comes to mind) - but in what ways, despite the Fall, do we still benefit from God’s gift and blessing?

5. Both Genesis and Jesus in Matthew 19 affirm that the union of one man and one woman is God’s design that we should be ‘one flesh.’ Is this merely God’s way of permitting sexual union, or are deeper blessings in view here that other combinations or possibilities cannot possibly bring? How is the male-female union uniquely blessed and should be protected within marriage?

6. Discuss - time permitting, how you will translate these commandments from Paul in Ephesians 5 into the practical business of marriage: what is submission, when does submission becomes exploitation or abuse, how does a couple define roles within marriage, how are decisions to be made and why isn’t Paul more specific with his answers here?

7. Pray for yourself or for each other in the life circumstances God has given you as a man or as a woman. Ask that He will give you peace and faithfulness in the calling has given you, to: “know how to abound in any and every circumstance” (Phil. 4:12). Praise Him that in Christ we have retained and renewed our purpose to His glory!

Paradise Lost & Regained - Week One: Humanity and God

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READINGS: Genesis 2:1-9 and Romans 5:17-20

Genesis 2

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Romans 5

17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

QUESTIONS:

1.    What do you think of when you hear about the Garden of Eden? Is it a story, a myth, or a primitive explanation of the way humans came to be what they are? Or is it an historical account of events that really happened to the first two human beings?

2. What factors in these two readings give us reason to believe that the Genesis story is true? (Also, see Jesus’ comments in Matthew 19:4a.)

3. Take a look at Genesis 2:1-9 again. Make a list of the things that Adam and Eve experienced in knowing God that we have now either lost or experience very differently.

4. Ask yourself basic questions about your view of God, your sense of purpose as a human being, or your awareness of justice and fairness and God’s clear guidance, and you will have some sense of what the Fall has taken or obscured from us. Which of these three elements would you most want back to experience like Adam and Eve did?

5. Genesis 3 pictures the Fall of Humanity as being a catastrophe worse than any in human history. How would you explain to someone who was just hearing about the idea, why according to Christianity it is the worst thing that ever happened.

6. Yet the best thing that ever happened, happened because God responded extravagantly and in amazing love and generosity to human need after the Fall. What clues are there in Romans 5 that God’s answer for us in Jesus was a far better remedy and cure than simply that which was lost in the Garden?

7. It is worth reminding ourselves that God is sovereign despite what happened in the garden of Eden: that we are still made in His image (although it is now marred); that we are still His sons and daughters in creation, bearing His command to exercise dominion (although the Creation is not at odds with us); and that we are still recipients of the boundaries and consequences He set up at Creation and In Eden (although for so many human beings that dignity will mean that they are on the wrong side of His justice). Thank the LORD for what both these readings tell you about Him and praise Him for being doubly good to you.

"If you see the moon rising gently on your fields
If the wind blows softly on your face
If the sunset lingers while cathedral bells peal
And the moon has risen to her place

You can thank the Father for the things that He has done
And thank Him for the things He's yet to do
And if you find a love that's tender, if you find someone who's true
Thank the Lord, He's been doubly good to you

And if you look in the mirror at the end of a hard day
And you know in your heart you have not lied
And if you gave love freely, if you earned an honest wage
And if you've got Jesus by your side

You can thank the Father for the things that He has done
And thank Him for the things He's yet to do
And if you find a love that's tender, if you find someone who's true
Thank the Lord, He's been doubly good to you

You can thank the Father for the things that He has done
And thank Him for the things He's yet to do
And if you find a love that's tender, if you find someone who's true
Thank the Lord, He's been doubly good to you
Thank the Lord, He's been doubly good to you" 

Rich Mullins, from Amy Grant’s Album “Straight Ahead” 1984

Luke's Gospel: What Happened After That - Luke 24:13-53

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READING: Luke 24:13-52

24

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

QUESTIONS:

1.    What are the three things that Jesus does to show that He really has risen?

2. How much do Cleopas and his companion understand about who Jesus was and what has happened in Jerusalem?

3. How does Jesus go about correcting their misunderstanding and unbelief? What are the main things He teaches them about who He is and what He has done?

4. What source does Jesus use to persuade them? What has still to be opened? What does this teach us about how we will understand and believe what God has for us?

5. Back together in Jerusalem, Cleopas and the other disciple share about their experience on road to Emmaus. Then Jesus appears again to the whole company. Why did the disciples need to see Jesus, do you think, and not just hear about Him from the other disciples? What does this teach us about the origins of the Christian faith and their witness (see 1 John 1)?

6. Jesus describes the message of the Gospel and tells them they are to be His witnesses to the nations. What still remains to be done? Why does Jesus have them wait for it? If we take their experience as a template for the way are to also follow Christ, what must we wait for before we begin any work for God?

7. Pray for yourself and your group that whatever you are doing you would remember you can do nothing apart from Jesus and dependence upon His Spirit.

Luke's Gospel: The Death and Resurrection of Jesus - Luke 23:50-24:12

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READING: Luke 23:50-24:12

23

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

24 

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

QUESTIONS:

1.     Look for a definition of the English word “resurrection.” What does it literally mean?

2. Studying Luke 23:50-56 why is it important that we understand that Jesus had actually died?

3. What three evidences does Luke offer here that Jesus was actually and legally found to be dead according to the testimony of many credible witnesses?

4. What indication do we get from Luke’s account of the disciples’ expectation that Jesus would rise from the dead as He promised them He would?

5. What evidences does Luke tell us which show us that the women were surprised, Peter bewildered and the disciples locked in utter disbelief?

6. In what ways should their blindness and the fact that God opened their eyes (see 24:31) to the Scriptures, encourage us? What part did the disciples play in their own conversion? What must kind of things would you recommend someone who was seeking to know the risen Jesus Christ do to be sure of his resurrection from reading this text?

7. Praise God that the rescue has been totally accomplished! Take time to thank God individually or as a group for all the benefits that God has given you because the Lord Jesus was raised!

Luke's Gospel: Study in Luke 22: 14-30 - Steve Wozny

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READING: Luke 22: 14-30

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” 23 And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.

24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

QUESTIONS:

1.     Why are we oftentimes anxious for a plan or miracle to solve our problems (not that either is necessarily bad or sinful)?

2.     What alternative to a plan does the text show Jesus engaged in on the night he was betrayed?

3.     Why do you think Luke uses meals with Jesus as a framework for his Gospel?

4.     How is Jesus’ “earnest desire” to share the Passover indicative of his relentless love for you?

5.     Do you agree with the statement made, “I think that a majority of our problems can be solved simply by meditating on the love of God”?

6.     If it is biblically accurate to consider that the cup Jesus refers to throughout this passage is solely the Third Cup of the Seder, the “Cup of Blessing” – what implications are suggested about Jesus not drinking the Fourth Cup, “the Cup of Praise”?

7.     What do you owe God – and why can’t you pay?

8.     “Everything we do to make up happy is – in some crazy way – the desire to “Dwell in the House of the Lord forever at His table.” Do you agree? Why or why not?

9.     May the warning in vv. 21 & 22 apply to us? Compare Hebrews 3:12 and Hebrews 4:14-16.

10.  How do the thief’s last words to Jesus on the cross, “Remember me”, and Jesus words to remember Him in the Lord’s Supper square up?

 11.  Extra Credit:  What is the lesson about God illustrated in Jim Bouton’s line to end Ball Four, “A ballplayer spends a good piece of his life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.”

Luke's Gospel: Jesus Arrives On Their Doorstep - Luke 19:28-44

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READING: Luke 19:28-44

28 And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.”35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

QUESTIONS:

1 Read Luke 19:11-27. Why do you think Luke put the Parable of the Minas before his report of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. [Hint: look at 19:11]

2 As you read the story beginning in verse 28, how do you see Jesus giving indications to the crowd about the way the Kingdom of God was to come? Specifically, what’s up with the donkey?

3 If Jesus rode into Jerusalem in AD 30 in such a way, what does it suggest about the kinds of experience we should expect as His disciples in this life? Share with the group a way in which you have found or are currently finding this to be true in your own life.

4 Jesus permits the crowds of disciples, followers and those just caught up in the jubilation of the moment to worship Him. Why do you think He did so knowing that they were about to turn their backs on Him and kill Him (Luke 9:22)? Knowing that we have been equally faithless and saved entirely by His grace towards us, and saved completely at that - how can we take comfort in this eye of the storm worship experience Jesus gave these disciples?

5 In verses 41-44 Jesus sees Jerusalem and weeps over it. What does He see? Why does He weep? How should it both convict and encourage us as awe look at our own world today?

6 Finally, we read that despite what He saw of Jerusalem’s rejection of Him, He nevertheless went into the city to die for His people. Consider that as you praise and thank Him and express wonder at His great grace to each of us!

7 Reflect on this prayer as you close:

“Christ, thou hast bidden us pray for the coming of thy Father’s kingdom, in which his righteous will shall be done on earth. We have treasured thy words, but we have forgotten their meaning, and thy great hope has grown dim in thy Church. We bless thee for the inspired souls of all ages who saw afar the shining city of God, and by faith left the profit of the present to follow their vision. We rejoice that today the hope of these lonely hearts is becoming the clear faith of millions. Help us, O Lord, in the courage of faith to seize what has now come so near, that the glad day of God may dawn at last. As we have mastered Nature that we might gain wealth, help us now to master the social relations of mankind that we may gain justice and a world of brothers. For what shall it profit a nation if it gain numbers and riches, and lose the sense of the living God and the joy of human brotherhood?

Make us determined to live by truth and not lies, to found our common life on the eternal foundations of righteousness and love, and no longer to prop the tottering house of wrong by legalized cruelty and force. Help us to make the welfare of all the supreme law of our land, that so our commonwealth may be built strong and secure on the love of all its citizens. Cast down the throne of Mammon who ever grinds the life of men, and set up thy throne, O Christ, for thou didst die that men might live. Show thy erring children at last the way from the City of Destruction to the City of Love, and fulfill the longings of the prophets of humanity. Our Master, once more we make thy faith our prayer: “Thy kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth!”

Presented by Third Millennium Ministries at https://thirdmill.org/files/english/html/worship/ben.pray.html

(Taken from Prayers of the Social Awakening by Walter Rauschenbusch)

Luke's Gospel: The Proud and the Humble - Luke 18:1-17

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READING: Luke 18:1-17

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

QUESTIONS:

1 Read Luke 18:1-17. Understanding that Luke has arranged his material carefully, what theme do you think links all these different stories?

2 As a subset of that broader theme (or broader themes), read the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector again. What is its theme and how does it fit in in this chapter?

3. Who does Jesus tell this parable for the benefit of (verse 9)? Is there a possibility that Jesus means us to examine self-righteousness anywhere besides the character of the safe (for us) target of the Pharisee?

4. Contrast and compare the Pharisee and the tax collector in the story. What characteristics of self-righteousness does Jesus emphasize in the Pharisee? How are these same qualities missing in the tax collector?

5. Why should God have taken pity on the tax collector? Is there something about the tax collector or his behavior which justified God’s choice? What does this show you about the Gospel and God’s choice of you? If this (your answer) is true of God and the tax collector, can you also be sure of the same unchanging opinion by God?

6. The parable is a simple yet profound picture of human existence with these two men standing side by side before God, both of them loved by Him, but only one made right with Him. Wishing to avoid the self righteousness of the Pharisee what can you learn from the movements of the tax collector and God in this story? How should you deal with the person who has treated you with contempt?

7. Pray for yourselves as you consider the persisting presence of self-righteousness in your own life and attitudes. (Watch for it at times of vulnerability and roundedness when something upon which you have placed your value is being threatened (reputation, children, etc). George Whitefield in his published sermon The Method of Grace noted that self-righteousness is “the last idol to go.” ) How should you begin to take note of it and turn from it? What Bible truths or promises will you cling to about where your true value lies?

Luke's Gospel: Losing Face and Saving Faith - Luke 17:11-19

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READING: Luke 17:11-19

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.

QUESTIONS:

1 Read Leviticus 13-14 to discover the instructions Moses gave the priests in diagnosing leprosy or another defiling skin disease. As you read chapter 14, list the consequences for the person diagnosed with one of these skin conditions like leprosy.

2 Are we given any clues in the text as to why Jesus should come upon these people in this place? How significant to the story is it that He was traveling on the border of Samaria?

3 Why is it important that the lepers cried out to Jesus for mercy? What were they asking for?

4 Jesus responds by commanding all ten lepers to go and report to the priests? What is very odd about the timing as to when the command was given? How did the lepers show faith?

5 It seems that the nine lepers were physically healed but what more was available to them? How do you read this? What did they lose in not turning back to thank Jesus?

6 Looking at Leviticus 14 again what was necessary for the complete healing of those who had been certified as free from leprosy? How does the encounter with Jesus save even this Samaritan?

7 Reading this story again, list the ways again that this story is a parable to us of the life of faith, and the need to trust Jesus. What are you currently praying for or struggling with that needs God to respond as you trust Him in faith? Share it with the group if you can.