Study the Bible Together
August 10, 2023
The truth of Romans 8:28 is that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. This means that God is at work not only in the major parts of life we observe, but in all the hidden and minute details we don't see. In all these things, God fulfills His perfect plan to do good to us, whom He called according to His perfect purpose.
Moses had to learn that God would bless Him despite His own unworthiness. God would also bless Israel, as He promised, despite their unworthiness.
When it comes to life, we all have strengths and weaknesses. What is one of your biggest weaknesses? Do you think God could ever use that for good? How?
Read Exodus 2:16-25
16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came to draw water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Then some shepherds arrived and drove them away, but Moses came to their rescue and watered their flock.
18 When they returned to their father Reuel, he asked, “Why have you come back so quickly today?” 19 They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 20 “So where is he?” he asked his daughters. “Why then did you leave the man behind? Invite him to eat dinner.” 21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 She gave birth to a son whom he named Gershom, for he said, “I have been a resident alien in a foreign land.”
23 After a long time, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned because of their difficult labor, they cried out, and their cry for help because of the difficult labor ascended to God. 24 God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the Israelites, and God knew.
1. Look at verses 16-17. Moses meeting Reuel's daughters at the well is an echo of Abraham's servant finding a wife for Isaac at a well in Genesis 24 and Jacob finding Rachel at a well in Genesis 29. What are the reasons a well would be important to ancient people?
2. What does it say about Moses, in verse 17, that he not only "rescued" the 7 shepherd-daughters, but "watered their flock" as well?
3. In verses 18-22, Reuel, the father of the seven shepherd-daughters, asks them why they didn't invite Moses to dinner. Why do you think they didn't do this? And why do you think Reuel insists that they should?
4. In verse 22, Moses names his first son Gershom because it means being "a resident alien in a foreign land". Do you think Moses knew he was referencing to a promise of God made centuries before to Abram in Genesis 15:13? Think about his upbringing in Exodus 2:9-10. How might Moses have learned about this promise to Abram?
5. If you love God, you can know He has a plan for you and your life just as much as he did for Moses. What do you think are the 3 most important things God wants you to do for him in this life?
6. Now, try to think of three major promises in the Bible that God makes to all believers. If you can't think of any, do a Google search and find some. What are they?
7. The final section, verses 23-25, is about God fulfilling his promise to Abram in Genesis 15:14-21. What promise did He make?
8. Just like God responded to the Israelites' groaning, what does Philippians 4:6-7 make to us when we pray?
9. What promise does God fulfill when we confess Him as Lord in Romans 10:9?
10. What promises does God fulfill when we confess our sins to Him in 1 John 1:9?
August 3, 2023
Imagine you and all other Christians were enslaved by America to do hard labor. Imagine there was a new law made to kill the newborns of Christians to limit their numbers. At the same time, imagine you just got married when this all began. How much hope would you have for any children born to you and your spouse?
This week, we see that happen in the birth of Moses. Moses never had an easy life; but from the start, God used him to do amazing things in very difficult situations. The same can be true of us.
God always uses all things for our good and for His purpose, even when we are struggling with the difficulties of life.
As you look forward to the next school year, try to think of three difficulties you will go through. How do you think God may use you to shine His light in these difficult times?
Read Exodus 2:1-10
1. Verse 1 says that a man and a woman got married. What concerns from chapter 1 might have caused them to be too afraid to get married?
2. Why do you think they got married despite all the problems of chapter 1 going on around them?
3. Verse 2 is interesting. In the CSB, it says the mother who gave birth to Moses saw that he was "beautiful" or "healthy" (in the footnote). The Hebrew word used for Moses is that he was "good". Which translation do you think makes sense? Why?
4. How do you think Moses learned about this story before writing it down? Do you think verse 4 might show that this story came from the perspective of Moses' sister?
5. How do you think Moses' family would have responded to learning Pharaoh's daughter had found him?
6. Try to find all the times in Exodus 2:1-10 when Moses' parents would have had to trust God, not knowing the outcome of the situation?
7. Job 42:2, Psalm 33:11, Proverbs 19:21, Isaiah 46:9-10, and Romans 8:28 all have an important message. Look up each one and see if you can see how all of them are saying something similar. What is the main message?
8. What is something in your life today which is uncertain, troublesome, or causing you anxiety? Make a point of trusting God actively and praying to Him to guide your steps and make things turn out according to His will.
July 27, 2023
The story of Shiphrah and Puah shines God's light in a dark chapter. Pharaoh orders the killing of all male babies as they are born. These two midwives boldly defy his order. Then God showers them with blessing.
When we live for God, He blesses us.
If a Christian is resisting temptation and seeking to please God in all he or she does, can you think of 3 blessings you would expect that person to experience? Can you find any Bible verses to support your answer?
Read Exodus 1:15-22
15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives—the first, whose name was Shiphrah, and the second, whose name was Puah— 16 “When you help the Hebrew women give birth, observe them as they deliver. If the child is a son, kill him, but if it’s a daughter, she may live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live. 18 So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this and let the boys live?”
19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “The Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.”
20 So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied and became very numerous. 21 Since the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22 Pharaoh then commanded all his people, “You must throw every son born to the Hebrews into the Nile, but let every daughter live.”
1. God could have just said "two Hebrew midwives" in verse 15. Why do you think He decided to write their names in His word?
2. Why do you think Pharaoh wanted to kill only the sons in verse 16 and not the daughters as well? If you can't answer, see if you can read the rest of Exodus 1 to help you find the answer.
3. Verse 17 says the midwives "feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt had told them". What does the Bible mean when it says they "feared God"?
4. What would your response have been to the king's question in verse 18? Why?
5. Have you ever had someone in authority ask you to do something that went against your morals or beliefs? How did you respond?
6. Why do you think the midwives lied in verse 19, rather than telling the truth to the king of Egypt?
7. Look at verses 20-21, what does this teach about God's response to the midwives' behavior and speech?
8. Can you imagine a similar situation in our current day when an authority might insist that you do something that violates God's law? What might that be? How would you respond?
9. What kind of blessing would you hope to experience from God as you honored His will in a hard situation?
Once you finished answer the last question, look at Matthew 5:3-12 and see if any of your expectations for God's blessing line up with the promises of Jesus.
July 7, 2023
What do farmers and prophets have in common? They both have to labor patiently and wait for the results of their labor, which often don't come as expected. Farmers till the ground and sow seed and wait for the harvest. Prophets preach God’s word and then wait for the people to respond to God. Likewise, Christians have to live their lives for God without seeing the results until Christ's return.
God’s requires us to wait patiently for the outcome of His plan.
When was the last time you had to wait longer than you expected? How did you respond to the wait?
Read James 5:7-11
7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
1. What does verse 7 say we must be patient for? What do you think it will be like?
2. Have you ever planted a seed and waited it to grow into a plant? What aspects of a plant’s growth can we control? What aspects do we leave to God? How is this like spiritual life?
3. Notice James repeats the church’s main expectation in verse 8. Can you see it? Why do you think James would repeat this twice in two verses?
4. How does looking forward to Christ’s coming keep the church from “grumbling”, as verse 9 says?
5. What other expectations do churches and Christians become distracted with, rather than the coming of Jesus Christ?
6. Take a minute to think or study one of the main prophets in the Old Testament, Elijah. 1 Kings 19 describes a time Elijah had to be patient. What was the problem he was dealing with?
7. Another example James gives is Job. What problems did Job face in Job 1-2? How did God show mercy on him in Job 41?
8. How has God shown compassion and mercy to you? Try to think of things that are spiritual (things having to do with God), relational (things with other people), and even tangible (physical things).
9. Pray to God in thanks for His mercy to you. This can be one of the best ways to cultivate patience.
June 22, 2023
As a boy, I always looked forward to Summer vacation because it meant playing baseball, watching TV in the morning, and hanging out with my friends outside of school. As an adult Christian looking back on that, I realize God never factored into those plans.
It didn't occur to me to read the Bible or pray more with all that extra time. I had a selfish attitude that put my own wishes first. I really thought it was "my" Summer break. It's not that any of my desires were wrong; it's that my plans weren't made with God in mind.
Think about the next three months of your life. If you could ask God to change you in any way, and He would change you, what would you ask Him for?
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.
15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.
1. James 4 is all about attitude. In verses 1-12, God warns us about the consequence of an attitude focused on our desires. What attitude do verses 13-17 focus on?
2. What's wrong with the quote in verse 13?
3. Try to think of a time when things turned out completely differently than planned. What was it? How difficult was it for you to accept the change in plans?
4. A key concept in this section, which isn't specifically named, is humility. How do verses 14-15 cause us to think about our future with more humility?
5. Why do you think God wants us to say "If the Lord wills, we will do this or that"?
6. In verse 16, it says that leaving God out of your plans "is evil". Why do you think it's evil and not just "inadequate" or "not the best"? Why evil? What harm does it do?
7. When someone asks about our Summer plans, we often say things like, "Our family is going to Oregon in July to hang out in Ocean Shores for a week". How could you rephrase this in a way that obeys what James 4:15 says?
8. Verse 17 says "So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it." As you think ahead about the Summer, take a moment to pray and ask God to give you a desire to do the good things He calls you to do.
June 16, 2023
James begins chapter 4 with a question for his reader: "What is the source of wars and fights among you?"
Before we read the answer, think about that. What do you think causes strife in your home, at work, or church? This is an important exercise because our answers need to be aligned with God's answer. By examining our answer first, we can learn something about where we go wrong.
Some of us might blame our battles with others on things out of our control, like lack of money, poor weather, bad health, or the problems in our culture. It's easy to shift the blame away from ourselves. But God doesn't.
Our conflicts aren't created outside of us, but by sinful desires.
Try to think of the last time you had a conflict with someone else. What was the issue on the surface? Next, try to pinpoint the underlying reasons each of you made the issue into a conflict. What reasons may have caused you both to engage in the fight?
1 What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from your passions that wage war within you? 2 You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
4 You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God. 5 Or do you think it’s without reason that the Scripture says: The spirit he made to dwell in us envies intensely?
6 But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. 7 Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
11 Don’t criticize one another, brothers and sisters. Anyone who defames or judges a fellow believer defames and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
1. The first paragraph (1-3) examines the cause of our strife with others. James uses a variety of words to point out the problem: "passions within you", "desire", "wrong motives", "your pleasures". How do your inner desires bring you into conflict with others sometimes?
2. In the same section, James says "You do not have because you do not ask" (2) and "You ask and don't receive because you ask with wrong motives". James is saying it's dangerous to hold deep desires within ourselves without (a) examining them to see if they align with God's will and without (b) bringing to God in prayer.
What are the things you want most but don't have? Have you taken them to God in prayer? Have you examined them to see if they align with His word?
3. The second paragraph is a warning. If we don't count on God to satisfy our desires, how does it say we can become hostile to God?
4. All of us have turned to the world for satisfaction at times, rather than God. Paragraph 3 calls us to repent if we are doing so currently. Look through verses 6-10 and count the different steps James lays out for the process of repentance.
5. Has this passage brought any sins to your mind? If so, take a moment to pray to God in any ways that you need to.
6. Last, paragraph 4, commands us to avoid doing three serious sins against other believers: criticizing, defaming, and judging. These words are very important to understand. Let's conclude with a word study to help with these.
The words "criticizing" and "defaming" are taken from the Greek word "katalaleo", which means to speak ill of someone. We do this when we talk about others to point out their problems. "Judging", taken from the Greek "krino", a stronger word that means to determine a person as "guilty".
Now look again at this final paragraph. Why is it wrong for Christians to do this?
7. As we close, look back at verse 8, "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." Ultimately, God tells us to draw near to Him and let go of our wars with others. How does Psalm 1 teach us to draw near to God?
June 8, 2023
The Bible often uses "fruit" terminology to describe the actions of people or groups. Good fruit refers to actions that please God and reflect Jesus Christ. Bad fruit refers to sin.
The church can produce good or bad fruit. What makes the difference is whether its members seek Christ's will or their own. At the end of James 3, he warns church-goers of this and directs them back to God's wisdom if they have gone off-course. If they live by their own wisdom, they can make the church a chaotic disaster. If they follow Christ, the church can be a peaceful reflection of His love.
A church full of godly wisdom is shown by its harmony; a church full of worldly wisdom is shown by its sin and disorder.
Think of a time when you experienced the church showing Christ's love. In what way did the church reflect Christ to you?
Read James 3:13-18
13 Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.
1. Verse 13 says that a wise person will act "in the gentleness that comes from wisdom". How does wisdom cause someone to be gentle?
2. In verses 14-15, James warns about another kind of wisdom, one that is "earthly, unspiritual, and demonic". What does verse 14 say this kind of wisdom produces?
3. Now, verse 16 gets to the heart of the issue. If a church is full the second kind of demonic wisdom, what does James say this causes the church to be like?
4. Have you ever been in a church that seemed to be disordered (v 16)? Why do you think an orderly church is important to God?
5. Verse 17 gives us 7 fruits that wisdom produces. Which one would you like to have more of?
6. If you want more of that fruit, you need more wisdom. How does James 1:5 teach us we can get more wisdom?
7. The final evidence of a person having God's wisdom is that they cultivate peace (v 17). What are some of the ways in your life where there could be conflict? How can you bring peace in those situations? I encourage you to pray for the opportunity to do so.
June 1, 2023
In the Bible, the word "favor" describes the blessings someone can give another person, whether they are physical or spiritual gifts. But the Bible warns us that favor can be shown to others in a good way or a sinful way.
Showing favor in a good way means forgiving those who aren't worthy of it, as God does for all who sin against him. God shows favor to all human beings by letting the sun rise and shine on them every day, putting breath in their lungs, and giving them the basic essentials needed for life (Matthew 5:45). This kind of favor is called "grace", "mercy", and "blessing" in the Bible.
But favor can be used for evil, too. In the court of law, God forbids judges showing favor to one person over another (Leviticus 19:15). It is also wrong to honor the rich at the expense of the poor (Job 34:19). In the book of Acts and Galatians, showing favor on the basis of cultural or ethnic preference is a sin (Acts 10:34-35, 15:9; Galatians 2:1-14, 3:29). This kind of sinful favor is called "favoritism" in the Bible.
God expects us to show favor to others without favoritism, just like He does.
Favoritism can tempt anyone, believers included. Take a minute to consider and share what kinds of people you would be tempted to treat with greater favor. What kind of people might you also naturally want to ignore or give the least amount of favor to?
Read James 2:1-9
(1) My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. (2) For if someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor person dressed in filthy clothes also comes in, (3) if you look with favor on the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor person, “Stand over there,” or “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” (4) haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
(5) Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? (6) Yet you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the rich oppress you and drag you into court? (7) Don’t they blaspheme the good name that was invoked over you?
(8) Indeed, if you fulfill the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well. (9) If, however, you show favoritism, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
1. In verses 1-4, James describes the favoritism that he sees in the church gathering. What kind of people are being favored?
2. As you walk through the halls of the church or your school, what kind of people do you see being favored over others?
3. In verse 5, James points out how has God shown "favor" to people, rather than "favoritism". What has he done?
4. When James says "Don't the rich oppress you and drag you into court?", what do you think this might refer to? Look in James 5:4 for more information.
5. How does showing favoritism to the rich "blaspheme the good name" of God, as verse 7 says?
6. What point do you think James is making by finishing this section saying what he does in verses 8-9?
7. How can you show Christlike favor this week, instead of worldly favoritism?
May 10, 2023
At times, the Bible is underestimated as just a book of stories and claims which we can accept or reject. But this is what the Bible says about itself: "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12). Today we're going to look at three ways God uses the Bible to do surgery on our hearts.
Because our hearts are sinful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), God uses the Bible as His surgical tool to convict and change us.
The Bible is filled with teachings, stories, and prophecies. Think about all the Bible and try to pinpoint the part of it that's least attractive for you to study. What might it be for you? Is there something this preference might say about you?
In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. (James 1:18)
Therefore, laying aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in gentleness receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)
But become doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. (James 1:22) (LSB)
1. According to James 1:18, whose will brought us forth to become spiritually alive? Was it our will or His will?
2. The same verse says that He brought us forth "by the word of truth". What Bible verses are often crucial for salvation? Try to find or think of 5.
3. You are not born again merely to avoid hell. What does the second half of James 1:18 mean about God's purpose in saving you?
4. James 1:21 says that once we are saved, we must "in gentleness receive the implanted word". If you have already believed in Christ, what more does this verse expect you to receive?
5. How can even the hearts of Christians resist aspects of God's word?
6. Why do you think James tells us to receive God's word "in gentleness"? And what do you think is the opposite of this?
7. God brings us forth by His word to be His spiritual fruit. Then He commands us to receive His implanted word constantly as Christians. Last, He tells us to "be doers of the word, and not merely hearers".
Try to think a time when you were being more of a "hearer" than a "doer". What did that period of your life look like?
8. Are you a doer of His word now? If you are, take time to thank God for working on your heart. If not, ask Him to bring His word deeply into your heart and mind to change you from within.
April 27, 2023
In the last two youth group studies, we've read about trials in James 1. Trials are the hard times we go through. Did you know the Psalms also deal with trials? Today we'll look at Psalm 1 and its guidance for hard times.
Psalm 1 teaches that daily Bible reading has more benefit than mere knowledge.
How often do you read the Bible? How much time do you spend thinking about what you have read?
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the way of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of Yahweh,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not rise in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For Yahweh knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.
(taken from the Legacy Standard Bible)
1. If you seek to be blessed in life, verse 1 tells you a list of people to avoid. What are these people like?
2. If we want to be blessed, God tells us how often we should read the Bible and think about it. Look at verse 2. How often does He say we should?
3. How many ways would a tree planted next to a river be blessed?
4. If we stay away from the wrong people and invest our time meditating on God's word day and night, what result does verse 3 say there will be?
5. Notice the phrase "its leaf does not wither" in verse 3? Leaves wither in dry seasons, which are like the hard times that we go through. In what ways do you think regular Bible reading could help you through "dry seasons" when you experience pain or hardships?
6. The "blessed" who are like a tree beside a river in verse 3 have a much greater endurance than the "wicked" in verse 4. What is "chaff" and how does it respond to "the wind"?
7. As you conclude this study, notice the ultimate outcome of basing your life on God's word in verses 5-6. What is it?
I encourage you to turn to God in a prayer of thanks for guiding you to Him through His word. I also would encourage you to ask Him to keep you in His word consistently.
April 13, 2023
This week we begin discussing the book of James. In his little letter, he emphasizes humility repeatedly:
- "Let the brother of humble circumstances boast in his exaltation" (1:9)
- "Humbly receive the implanted word" (1:21)
- "God...gives grace to the humble" (4:6)
- "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you" (4:10)
On the other hand, James sternly rebukes pride:
- "Though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things." (3:5)
- "God opposes the proud" (4:6)
- "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you don't know what a day might bring." (4:14)
- "But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil." (4:16)
God blesses those who live humbly with Him.
What circumstances of life may tempt you to become boastful?
Read James 1:1-4
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: To the twelve tribes dispersed abroad. Greetings.
Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
1. Humility can be shown in how we identify ourselves. In verse 1, how does James describe himself and what does it mean?
2. James says he is writing "to the twelve tribes dispersed abroad". Deuteronomy 28 had warned Israel that God would punish its sin by dispersing its people throughout the nations. Look at Deuteronomy 28:47-48. What does it say about the attitude that would lead to this punishment?
3. How does humility naturally lead people to have gratitude in their hearts?
4. What do verses 2-4 say that God has in store for Christians?
5. When people talk about others having an attitude of "entitlement", what does this mean?
6. How can an attitude of entitlement keep us from "letting endurance have its full effect"?
7. What is God's ultimate goal in letting Christians go through hard times?
8. What do verses 2-4 imply about how much control God has over our lives and the entire world?
9. If trials don't feel joyous, how can you "consider" them to be a great joy?
March 16, 2023
Contentious speech is when we communicate with others as opponents. In the Bible, God uses verbs like "love", "edify", and "agree" to direct our relationships within His church. Godly contention is "contending together for the gospel" (Philippians 1:27) or "contending earnestly for the faith" (Jude 3) rather than contending within the church. When believers contend with each other, the work of sharing the gospel and guarding the faith suffers. This passage tells us how to avoid that.
Filter out any boastful, manipulative, or antagonistic speech from your moth
Look at the big idea. Explain which of those three categories might tempt you the most.
Read Proverbs 30:32-33
If you have been foolish by exalting yourself
or if you’ve been scheming,
put your hand over your mouth.
For the churning of milk produces butter,
and twisting a nose draws blood,
and stirring up anger produces strife.
1. This passage says it is foolish to "exalt yourself". What does it mean to exalt yourself? How do people do that? What are sneaky ways people try to get away with exalting themselves?
2. People can also be commit another kind of contentious speech: scheming. What is scheming? How is it different (and less foolish) than exalting yourself? Why is it still wrong?
3. One of the best attributes of Proverbs is its stunning illustrations. Find the illustrations it uses for contentious speech in this passage. What are they?
4. Have you ever been at a family gathering at a time when you knew certain topics would "stir the pot"? What topics were those at the time?
5. Do you like to "stir the pot" or do you like to "keep the peace"?
6. Churning milk produces butter because it separates the fat from the liquid. How is that like contentious speech?
7. "Put your hand over your mouth" is a figure of speech. What does it mean?
8. This proverb ends by rebuking speech that "produces strife". Instead of producing strife, what should we use our speech to produce among others in the church, the workplace, the school, and the home?
March 7, 2023
Proverbs often warns about the dangers of pride. Proud people boast about themselves and their knowledge, but they don't take advice from anyone. On the other hand, Proverbs extols the virtue of humility. What does a humble person think about? Here we see the answer in a proverb by Agur. He meditates on all the things he doesn't understand.
Wonder is not just daydreaming; it is humbly meditating on God's design of any aspect of His creation.
If you were given one day in a library of books containing all the information in the universe, what topic would you go to read about first? Why?
Read Proverbs 30:18-19
Three things are too wondrous for me;
four I can’t understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship at sea,
and the way of a man with a young woman.
1. This author knows what he doesn't understand and isn't ashamed of admitting it. What are some areas of academics or life which are difficult for you to understand?
2. Why is it hard for us to admit the things we aren't gifted in?
3. Beginning in verse 19, Agur says he can't understand "an eagle in the sky". What is distinct about the way eagles fly?
4. Second, he is in wonder about "the way of a snake on a rock". What is unique about snakes and how they move and lie on rocks?
5. Third, he wonders about "the way of a ship at sea". Think about the three topics he has mentioned so far. What is similar about all three?
6. The final thing Agur can't understand is "the way of a man with a young woman". God has designed men and women to naturally be attracted to each other and express romantic love in a marriage. What do you think is His underlying purpose for this attraction?
7. Sometimes we need to get away from normal life in order to let our minds wonder. What is one way you can switch off all your distractions and spend time with Him?
March 3, 2023
Proverbs 30 is a lesson on humility from an ancient wise man, Agur, to his two students Ithiel and Ucal. Agur teaches about humility, God's word, prosperity, and gossip in verses 2-10. After this, he speaks about a wicked, prideful generation in verses 11-14. We don't know who he is referring to specifically. But we can identify patterns in his description that may apply our own culture.
Pride is not an isolated attitude that can be kept within one's mind. When we don't guard against it, it spreads to all other aspects of our life and destroy us.
Before you read the text, imagine a society of the most prideful people of all time. Together, come up with three practices which might be common in this type of culture.
Read Proverbs 30:11-14
1. Find a definition of pride. Find a Bible verse that describes how God views it. Why do you think God views our pride this way?
2. Verse 11 begins with the speech of a proud generation. What is it? Why does pride cause us to speak this way?
3. Verse 12 describes the self-esteem of this generation. How do they think of themselves? What is the truth about them? Why does pride of this deceptive effect on people?
4. Verse 13 describes the appearance of this generation, the way they carry themselves. How do they appear?
5. What does 1 Peter 3:3-4 teach about how our humility should direct our appearance?
6. Verse 14 uses the poetic images of teeth and fangs to describe the appetite and behavior of a prideful generation. What are they doing to those around them?
7. How have you seen pride affect your mind, your speech, or your actions in the past?
8. What are some of the ways God drives out pride through His Son, His Spirit, and His Word?
February 23, 2023
As citizens of a nation that formed itself in pursuit of independence, we can always use a refresher course on how God wants us to depend on Him.
We can trust in human beings or God; but only He deserves our unconditional trust.
What was a time when you were in trouble and someone showed up who was willing and able to help you? Explain how it affected you.
Read Proverbs 29
(25) The fear of mankind is a snare,
but the one who trusts in the LORD is protected.
(26) Many desire a ruler’s favor,
but a person receives justice from the LORD.
1. Verse 25 refers to "the fear of mankind". What does that mean? What is a way you are tempted to fear other people?
2. God calls the fear of other people "a snare". How could the fear of others stop a person from living in obedience to God?
3. The second line of verse 25 offers us the alternative to fearing mankind: trusting in the Lord to protect us. Think about your present life and tell one way He has protected you.
4. Think about your weaknesses and fears. What is a fear that you could take to Him in prayer more often?
5. Verse 26 tell us the human beings who are often depended upon the most: our rulers. What are the main promises our political leaders give us? How often have you seen them deliver on these promises?
6. The end of this proverb teaches that justice comes from the LORD, Yahweh. What are some sins that come from people seeking justice apart from God?
7. What does the Bible teach about when and how God brings justice?
February 9, 2023
Proverbs teaches parents to discipline their children in order to cultivate godly character. It often emphasizes the importance of verbal correction from parents:
- Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction,
and don’t reject your mother’s teaching,
for they will be a garland of favor on your head
and pendants around your neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9)
- Listen, sons, to a father’s discipline,
and pay attention so that you may gain understanding (4:1)
- My son, keep your father’s command,
and don’t reject your mother’s teaching. (6:20)
- A wise son responds to his father’s discipline,
but a mocker doesn’t listen to rebuke. (13:1)
- A fool despises his father’s discipline,
but a person who accepts correction is sensible. (15:5)
- Listen to your father who gave you life,
and don’t despise your mother when she is old. (23:22)
Sometimes it also tells us the benefits of using a rod for discipline:
- The one who will not use the rod hates his son,
but the one who loves him disciplines him diligently. (13:24)
- Foolishness is bound to the heart of a youth;
a rod of discipline will separate it from him. (22:15)
- Don’t withhold discipline from a youth;
if you punish him with a rod, he will not die. (23:13)
- Punish him with a rod,
and you will rescue his life from Sheol. (Proverbs 23:13-14)
In between a verbal response and a physical response, there are any number of other ways of disciplining a child, such as withdrawing privileges or creating new boundaries on life at home. With all these options, it can be difficult for a parent to know what's best.
Parents can help their teenage children prepare for parenthood by talking through the process of discipline.
A rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a youth left to himself is a disgrace to his mother. (Proverbs 29:13)
This week, use this opportunity to talk through what you would do in these seven situations. I guarantee you and your conversation partner will have some strong opinions. But I expect you both may learn something in the process:
What should a parent do if...
- a child is told to stop playing video games at 4:30, but continues to play until 4:35.
- a child is supposed to turn out their lights at 9pm on a school night, but doesn't until 10.
- a child is not supposed to complain about dinner, but every bite, he says "Ugh, gross" under his breath.
- a teenage girl has a curfew of 10 PM to go hang out with her friends on Friday night. But she comes back at 10:30 PM and the next day, the parents hear that she was hanging out with...A BOY.
- a teenager learns that his mom was making pizza for her small group, but when it's cooling on the stove, he heats 3 of 8 slices. And when she confronts him, he says "But I was hungry!"
- a 5 year old is told not to play with mom's nail polish, but she does and ruins the whole counter by splattering nail polish everywhere.
- a 7 year old hits their sibling hard enough to leave a bruise on their arm.
January 26, 2023
God rewards parents with joy for raising wise children. Several proverbs emphasize this aspect of His design of the family:
- A wise son makes a father glad (10:1)
- A wise son makes a father glad (15:20)
- And the father of a wicked fool is not glad (17:21)
- My son, if your heart is wise, my own heart also will be glad (23:15)
- The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who begets a wise son will be glad in him. (23:24)
- Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her rejoice who gave birth to you. (23:25)
- Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad,
That I may respond with a word to him who reproaches me. (27:11)
God incentivizes parents to teach their children wisdom by promising them joy. On the other side, children who grow up to be evil-doers make life painful for parents.
Do you have a bad habit that can get on your parents' nerves? What is it? Do you think this habit is merely annoying them or could it bring real life consequences?
Read Proverbs 29:3
A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
but one who consorts with prostitutes destroys his wealth.
1. Our verse refers to those who "love wisdom". What behaviors show that someone loves wisdom?
2. When you were growing up, how did your parents reward your good behavior?
3. Did you ever see your wisdom bring joy to them? If so, what did it look like?
4. On the other hand, this verse warns that a sinful lifestyle "destroys" the wealth of parents. Read Luke 15:11-32 for an example of this warning.
5. Jesus' parable seems to be based on the proverb we are studying today. While this parable teaches how God receives a repentant sinner, what does it reveal about how God wants parents and children to relate with each other?
January 19, 2023
Proverbs is full of encouragement to work hard, make money, and accumulate enough to support yourself, your family, and those in need. But Proverbs also puts boundaries on the pursuit of money.
Specifically, Proverbs calls greed the "evil eye", which defines it as a lust, an unhealthy desire, for money. The evil eye isn't limited to the poor or the rich, but to all descendants of Adam and Eve. Proverbs tells us that this obsession with money leads us to try to make money quickly, which leads to losing money quickly.
Lust for money always has negative consequences.
What makes money so attractive to people? What do you personally think you could do to improve your life if you had more money?
Read Proverbs 28:20, 22, 25
(20) A faithful person will have many blessings, but one in a hurry to get rich will not go unpunished.
(22) A greedy one is in a hurry for wealth; he doesn’t know that poverty will come to him.
(25) A greedy person stirs up conflict, but whoever trusts in the Lord will prosper.
1. In verse 20, "faithful" could also be translated "steadfast" "trustworthy" or "honest". Why do you think such a person will gain "many blessings" in this life?
2. The person "in a hurry to get rich" is given as the opposite from the "faithful" person. In what ways are those in a hurry to get rich untrustworthy or unfaithful?
3. What kind of crimes do people commit to get money quickly?
4. In verse 22, the greedy person is predicted to have "poverty come to him". Do you know anyone who became poor as they sought after riches? What are some ways this could happen?
5. Humans are easily attracted to offers to make lots of money quickly. Why do these schemes often fail? Do you think they ever work?
6. Chapter 28's final warning about greed is in verse 25. What does it say greed causes? Why?
7. Has money ever brought caused a relational conflict in your life? Describe what do you think was at the root of the problem.
8. Reflect again on your answer to question 7. How might either person in this conflict have resolved it by having greater trust in God?
January 12, 2023
As we've studied Proverbs, we've noticed that God will often address a topic multiple times from different angles in a single chapter. This helps fill in our understanding much better than a single mention of that topic.
In chapter 28, verses 6 and 18 are clearly connected by their comparison of a person who "lives with integrity" with a person who "distorts right and wrong".
There are two responses to knowledge of God's law. We can embrace it in our heart or rebel against it and create our own rules for life.
Distorting right and wrong means deliberately altering God's moral framework to allow for sin. Which of God's laws do you think might be most distorted in America today? Why?
(28:6) Better the poor person who lives with integrity
than the rich one who distorts right and wrong.
(28:18) The one who lives with integrity will be helped,
but one who distorts right and wrong will suddenly fall.
1. In the Bible integrity is synonymous with "blamelessness" and "innocence". It's when you have a mind and lifestyle fully united with God's law. Can you think of a law of God that might be hard for your heart to fully unite with? Why do you think God gave us this law?
2. In verse 6, how do you think integrity could give a poor person a blessed life?
3. Have you known someone without much money who seemed to be a very happy, blessed person? Have you known a rich person whose life was miserable because they distorted God's law? Describe what you remember about either.
4. We know the greatest two commands of God: love God with everything and love others as yourself. What might be the two greatest commands guiding the life of someone who "distorts right and wrong"?
5. Verse 28 gives assurance that there will be "help" for the person with integrity. Do you think this help refers to God helping or other people helping? Or both? Why?
6. Give an example of a "sudden fall" for someone who lives a life distorting right and wrong.
7. In verses 6 and 28, why do you think God promises a "better" life and "help" for those who live with integrity, instead of a complete promise like "perfect joy" or "total fulfillment"?
8. In your own life, how have you seen God's blessing come to you as you lived with integrity?
December 29, 2022
Moral courage is the willingness to act based on what's right, regardless of the consequences. Those of us who grew up in public school may have heard teachers praise the moral courage of social leaders like Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela. But without knowing God and his moral law, teachers can only identify moral courage, they can't teach it. Proverbs 28 fills that gap. It teaches moral courage.
Moral courage starts with knowing God. Through His word, we can know Him, stand up for what's right, and endure any negative consequences we face.
Are you familiar with the history of the Anabaptists? Click here to watch a four minute video on the persecution they faced.
If you had lived in this place and time, and you had a small child, how would you have responded to the mandate discussed in the video?
Read Proverbs 28
(1) The wicked flee when no one is pursuing them,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
(28) When the wicked come to power, people hide,
but when they are destroyed, the righteous flourish.
1. Do you think of yourself as someone with moral courage? Why or why not?
2. Before we get into courage, verse 1 begins with cowardice. What do you think makes the wicked "flee" when no one pursues them?
3. The second half of verse 1 says that the "righteous" are bold like lions. What is the connection between a righteous lifestyle and a bold attitude toward adversity?
4. Verse 28 states the natural response of people to a wicked ruler. What is it?
5. The second half of verse 28 refers to the time when the wicked are "destroyed". Can you think of an example in history when the wicked were destroyed?
6. When do you think it is necessary to stand up to a wicked ruler? And when should you "hide"?
7. Note in the end of the second line that "the righteous" survive the wicked and flourish when they are gone. In what way are Christians "surviving" today and in what way will they "flourish" in the future?
8. Why do you think God allows some Christians to die for Christ and chooses to have others live through times of persecution?
9. If America started persecuting Christians tomorrow, how do you think it might happen?
When it comes to serving Him, God wants us to be as bold as lions. As we reflect on this, let's thank God for strengthening us through these verses so that we can be ready to stand for Jesus Christ no matter what the future brings.
December 22, 2022
Proverbs constantly warns us about sins, sinners, and sinning. But what should we do when we sin? Today we study the only Proverb that gives us the answer.
The Old and New Testaments have the same instruction for when we sin: turn from it and tell God.
Sin can be uncomfortable to confess. Instead of confessing it God, Christians often deal with sin in two flawed ways.
Some tend to dwell on it constantly, torturing themselves for it, trying to take on themselves the payment for sin. Others tend to ignore sin as if it isn't a big deal or it will resolve itself naturally.
Which of these two approaches is more tempting for you? Why?
The one who conceals his sins
will not prosper,
but whoever confesses and renounces them
will find mercy.
1. The word "conceal" is a word that also means "to dress" or "to cover". What are some ways we dress up our sins to conceal their true nature?
2. One motive to conceal sin, according to God, is to "prosper", to have success in life. Why doesn't concealing sin lead to prosperity?
3. Has someone ever confessed to you that they had wronged you? Try to remember what happened and how you felt in response.
4. God describes what He gives to those who confess their sins in the last word of the verse: mercy. The Hebrew word is rucham, which refers to a compassionate response motivated by love. Try to think of a time in your life when you were very aware that God had been compassionate to you. What happened?
5. God has two expectations of us. First, that we "confess" our sins. What are some difference between a genuine confession and a fake confession?
6. Second, God requires that we "renounce" our sin. Renouncing is letting it go and committing to a changed life. Why do you think God expects this as well as "confessing" our sins?
7. A clear parallel passage is 1 John 1:5-10. As you read this section, what role does Jesus play in God's process of restoring us from sin?
As you remember times God has been compassionate to you, let's thank Him for being such a merciful Father who completely forgives and restores us through Christ when we come clean with our sin.
December 15, 2022
The following verses are all taken from Proverbs 28, which speaks often about the poor. Poverty and wealth are major themes in the book of Proverbs. Some people become poor as a consequence of foolish living (Proverbs 6:10). But as we see today, some poor people have "integrity" and "discernment". One of the lessons of Proverbs is that every person is different and can't be judged merely on the state of their lives.
Righteousness isn't shown by income; but it may be shown in our response to those in need.
Try to think of someone you know who is or was poor. Do you think they had fallen on hard times and needed financial help? Or that they had lived irresponsibly and needed wisdom? Explain your answer.
Read from Proverbs 28
(3) A destitute leader who oppresses the poor
is like a driving rain that leaves no food.
(6) Better the poor person who lives with integrity
than the rich one who distorts right and wrong.
(8) Whoever increases his wealth through excessive interest
collects it for one who is kind to the poor.
(11) A rich person is wise in his own eyes,
but a poor one who has discernment sees through him.
(28) The one who gives to the poor will not be in need,
but one who turns his eyes away will receive many curses.
1. The "destitute leader" refers to a powerful man without much money who oppresses others who are weaker than he is. This oppression leaves everyone hungry. What does it say about humanity that we would oppress others to our own detriment?
2. How do you think a poor man with strength or influence might oppress weaker people?
3. What are some key ways poor people need to guard their integrity?
4. What are some key ways wealthy people need to guard their integrity?
5. Are you aware of any rich people who distort right and wrong today? Do you know any poor who live with integrity? If so, who are they?
6. In this verse, God teaches about the immorality of excessive interest. What is interest and how do you think it can become a path of sinful behavior?
7. What do you think causes ill-gotten gains to be "collected for one who is kind to the poor"? How could that happen?
8. What does it mean to be wise in your own eyes? Have you ever been that way? Tell how.
9. What is "discernment" and how does it empower someone to see through someone who is being fake?
10. The one who turns his eyes away from the poor doesn't want to help or even make eye contact with a poor person. Have you ever felt that way? What causes that?
If not, why do you think someone would?
11. Can you think of a time Jesus encouraged believers to care about the poor? What was it and how should we practice that teaching?
December 7, 2022
The Hebrew word "Torah" occurs 223 times in the Bible. It's an important word that's often translated "law". But it actually refers to all God's word, not just His law. Even today, Jews will refer to all the Jewish Scriptures as "The Torah". That's the same meaning Solomon had. Today we're using the Lexham English Bible translation, which translates Torah more literally, as "instruction" rather than "law".
In today's verses Solomon directs the reader to study of all of God's word. God uses history, letters, poetry, proverbs, and laws to shape us to become more like Christ. Many Christians face daily life unprepared because they neglect study of His word. As we will see, there are major consequences for this. But there are many benefits if we make it a priority.
When you get something new that requires assembly, do you like to read the instructions or ignore them? Explain your reason for this approach.
Read Proverbs 28:4, 7, 9
Those who forsake instruction will praise the wicked,
but they who guard instruction will struggle against them. (4)
He who keeps instruction is a child of understanding,
but the companion of gluttons will shame his father. (7)
He who turns his ear from listening to instruction,
even his prayer is an abomination. (9)
(Lexham English Bible)
1. The "wicked" are mentioned in verse 4. Before you can make sense of this verse, you need to know who they are. Read Psalm 1. What make someone "wicked" according to this Psalm?
2. Solomon says that those who forsake God's instruction "praise the wicked". Why would someone who neglects the Bible be likely to praise a wicked person?
3. The second half of verse 4 gives the opposite. It says that those who "guard instruction" "struggle against those who don't". What kinds of struggles do those who guard God's instruction have with others who don't?
4. Verse 7 teaches that keeping God's instruction makes a child of "understanding". How might a child who keeps God's word become more understanding over time?
5. Verse 7 creates a very strange comparison. "He who keeps instruction" is compared to what kind of person in the second half of the verse? What lesson do you think this is teaching?
6. What is a "companion of gluttons" and why would he bring shame on his father?
7. Verse 9 refers to those who "turn their ear from instruction". What goes on in the mind of someone who initially listens to instruction...but later turns away from it?
8. The word "abomination" means "corrupted" and "perverse". What kinds of prayers are "corrupted" and are an "abomination" to God?
9. Prayer and Bible study often go hand in hand. How can one lead to the other?
November 30, 2022
When I played sports, "conditioning" was worst part of practice. In wrestling, conditioning meant running around on a mat, running around the school, or weight-lifting. In basketball, conditioning meant moving side to side in defensive position until my legs were burning. These exercises aren't fun; but they are crucial to success.
At home, conditioning looks very different. It means eating healthy food, cleaning your room, vacuuming, doing dishes, laundry, yard work, plumbing, oil changes, and fix-it projects around the house.
God wants us to work hard to keep our property in good condition.
What chore do you find the least enjoyable? Which one do you like the most? Why is it better than others?
(23) Know well the condition of your flock,
and pay attention to your herds,
(24) for wealth is not forever;
not even a crown lasts for all time.
(25) When hay is removed and new growth appears
and the grain from the hills is gathered in,
(26) lambs will provide your clothing,
and goats, the price of a field;
(27) there will be enough goat’s milk for your food—
food for your household and nourishment for your female servants.
1. A flock of goats or cows would be crucial to the family of a farmer or a shepherd. But your family probably doesn't have a flock or a herd. Discuss and come up with 3 possessions your family has which meet similar needs.
2. Verse 23 says we should "pay attention" to the things our families depend on. What can go wrong with those three possessions you thought of? How do you pay attention to them to make sure they are working well?
3. Verse 24 says that wealth is not forever. Have you ever lost a significant amount of money because you were being careless with it? What happened?
4. Almost everything the Bible tells us to do is a reflection of the character and actions of God himself. What work does Hebrews 1:3 say Jesus is doing right now? According to Jesus in John 5:16-17, who else is working all the time?
5. In verses 25-26, why is it important for hay and grain to be gathered?
6. In this passage, what do sheep provide? What do goats provide?
7. This passage says we need to work hard, pay close attention to our possessions, and be good stewards of them. Read Proverbs 23:4-5. How are both passages true without contradicting each other?
8. Look closely at verse 27. What's the final reason for caring for your possessions? Who are you caring for by doing this?
9. Read Genesis 30:25-43. How does our passage apply to this story about Jacob?
November 16, 2022
Throughout Proverbs, we have teaching about our relationship with those those we know and those we don't. Neighbors are the people in our daily lives; strangers are those we have never seen before. God has a plan for both relationships.
Some years ago, I cleaned my gutters using my Little Giant ladder. Tired afterward, I left my ladder outside. A few days later it was gone. I felt surprised and guilty. Surprised, because I expected those who live near me to respect my property; guilty, because I knew I had been naive to expect that.
We can approach decision-making in a way that errs on the side of caution or on the side of hope. We can be pessimistic or optimistic. Which do you tend to be? Has your tendency ever resulted in something bad happening unintentionally? If so, what was it?
Read the Word
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth—
a stranger, and not your own lips. (27:2)
Don’t abandon your friend or your father’s friend,
and don’t go to your brother’s house in your time of calamity;
better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away. (27:10)
Take his garment,
for he has put up security for a stranger;
get collateral if it is for foreigners. (27:13)
If one blesses his neighbor
with a loud voice early in the morning,
it will be counted as a curse to him. (27:14)
Don't treat neighbors like strangers; don't treat strangers as neighbors.
1. Our first verse (2) tells us we should live in such a way that strangers should praise us. Have you ever been praised by a stranger? Tell when and what happened.
2. What kind of an attitude and lifestyle will lead to strangers praising us? What kind won't?
3. The ultimate purpose of our lives isn't to get praise from strangers. Turn to Matthew 5:16 and read it. What does this verse tell about the ultimate purpose of having a proper attitude and lifestyle?
4. In the second verse (10), it's understandable why God would tell us not to abandon our friends in a time of calamity. But why do you think God tells us to not abandon our father's friend?
5. Have you ever depended on a next-door-neighbor for help? What was the response?
6. The third verse (13) challenges our willingness to give a loan to a stranger. What is collateral and why is it beneficial in these kinds of situations?
7. Why does God expect us to be careful with how we loan money? Won't He just take care of us if we accidentally make a bad deal? Explain why you think what you do. Try to find a Bible verses that support your answer.
8. The final verse (14) tells about the way we bless our neighbor. A blessing can be as simple as "Have a good day" or as serious as "I pray that God will bless you and give you what you need to make it through your situation." Why do you think this verse warns us against blessing our neighbor "with a loud voice early in the morning"?
9. How does our tone of voice and timing of speech have an impact on its effectiveness?
November 9, 2022
If you try to find out what friendship is through Google, it recommends this quote, “A friend is one who overlooks your broken fence and admires the flowers in your garden.” This is a clever metaphor for friendship; but the Bible has a very different angle on this topic.
Today we are going to see that good friends don't ignore your broken fence. They tell you about it so you can have a good fence that keeps you and your garden safe.
Who is someone in your life that makes you want to be a better person? Share how you have changed because of this person's impact.
Read Proverbs 27:5, 6, 17
5 Better is reproof that is revealed than love that is hidden.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
17 Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
1. Verse 5 refers to a "reproof" which is the act of someone correcting or rebuking something that another has said or done. How is that loving?
2. Verse 5 contrasts a revealed reproof with "hidden love". What do you think "hidden love" is? How is that worse than an open rebuke?
3. Verse 6 seems to be a partner passage with verse 5. If so, how could a stern rebuke "bruise" another person?
4. Have you ever had a time when you had to tell a friend a truth that was painful? What was that like?
Verse 17 compares friendship to iron. How exactly does iron sharpen iron? When Solomon was alive (900s BC), the land of the Bible was in a period known as "Iron Age II". At the time, iron and steel were replacing bronze as the most effective metal for creating tools and weapons. The process of adding carbon to iron, or "carburizing" iron, made it stronger and kept it sharper than bronze. To do this requires four basic steps: 1) heating the iron, 2) submerging it in coals to harden it by gaining carbon, 3) pounding the hot metal with an iron hammer, and 4) quenching the iron in water or oil. Click here to view the same process as it is done today.
5. Knowing what you do about how iron is strengthened and sharpened, how do you think verse 17 can be compared to Christian friends making each other more mature in their faith in Christ?
6. In the background of all these verses is the reality that all people, even the closest of Christian friends, have sin in their lives (Romans 3:23). How has God used your friendships to help you get rid of sin in your life?
November 1, 2022
A "white lie" is defined as "a harmless or trivial lie, especially one told to avoid hurting someone's feelings." White lies are permitted in our society because sinful people don't prioritize truth as a core value. Flattery is affirming people by telling them what they want to hear. What makes flattery wrong is that it makes use of white lies, insincere or exaggerated praise, to affirm someone.
Why does the Bible warn us that falsehood and flattery are dangerous weapons in a person's mouth? Today we will examine this question.
We must always speak truthfully for our own sake and the sake of those to whom we speak.
At any time in your life, have you had someone tell you a difficult truth about yourself that no one else was willing to share with you? How did you react at first? How did you think through the way this comment should change your behavior?
Read Proverbs 26:28
A lying tongue hates those it crushes,
And a flattering mouth works ruin.
1. When are you most tempted to lie?
2. Notice first that the proverb teaches "A lying tongue hates." Lies result from hatred. This is a difficult concept. How might the lies we tell be produced by hatred in our hearts?
3. Second, the proverb teaches that a lying tongue "crushes". How might even a "white lie" end up crushing another person?
4. The next line of the proverb addresses flattery. The Hebrew word means "a smooth mouth". What are some situations in life when we are tempted to flatter others with smooth speech?
5. What are the effects of flattery? "A flattering mouth works ruin." Just like lying, flattery has a negative effective on the hearer. How could a flattering comment cause ruin for another person?
6. The Bible has a lot more to say about how to build others up in our speech. Find a verse that speaks about how to help others with our speech. Instead of lies and flattery, what good ways does the Bible tell us about how to speak?
7. 1 Thessalonians 3 and 4 refer to encouragement 6 times. Some time this week, take a couple minutes and read these chapters aloud. How do Paul and Timothy use encouragement to help this church?
8. What do you think is a key difference between flattery and encouragement?
October 26, 2022
Growing up in the church, I heard Christians talk about the future two different ways. Some spoke as if God had personally revealed all their future to them. Others seemed much less confident and would pepper their speech with phrases like "Lord willing" or "At least that's the plan."
Often, Christians and non-Christians sound the same when talking about the future. But God used King Solomon and, 900 years later, James, the brother of Jesus, to teach us how we should sound different from the world when we talk about our plans.
Read Proverbs 27:1 and James 4:13-17
"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth."
"Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows to do the right thing and does not do it, to him it is sin."
Christians need to trust in God for the future and speak in a way that shows others they are doing so.
Sometimes our plans get put on hold. Sometimes our schedules are completely different than what we expect. Think of the last time God gave you a day that didn't match your expectations at all. What happened? How well did you respond to it?
1. Look up the word "boast" for a dictionary definition. What does it say?
2. Use your answer to number one to make a definition for "boasting about tomorrow".
3. In James 4, God declares that boasting about tomorrow is "evil". Evil things harm people or disrespect God. What is evil about boasting about tomorrow?
4. Imagine a Christian who likes to brag to other people about the certainty of his or her plans for the future. How do you think this attitude might affect their daily Bible-reading and prayer time?
5. In James 4:15, God tells us "Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.'" Practically speaking, how should this verse change the way Christians talk?
6. Christians practice two good kinds of evangelism: passive and active. Active evangelism is when we tell an unbeliever the gospel and the other unbeliever knows we are trying to do so. Passive evangelism is when a Christian intentionally speaks truths in normal speech which identify some or all of the gospel without directly compelling an unbeliever to respond.
Try to come up with a phrase which a) you would actually say to an unbeliever, b) that acknowledges your dependance on God for the future, and c) that would help them to see that God alone controls the future.
7. I would encourage you and your discussion partner to take a moment to pray for God to sanctify our speech and use it to bring people to Christ by letting others know that He is at the center of our plans.
October 19, 2022
Most proverbs are single sentences that stand alone as a complete thought. Short proverbs have always been an excellent teaching device because readers can understand them immediately.
But near the end of Proverbs 26, Solomon teaches a concept using 3 verses instead of 1. Why the change? Because it's talking about a very weighty issue: hatred.
God wants us to be prepared to deal carefully with people who hate us.
Read Proverbs 26:24-26
(24) He who hates disguises it with his lips, but he sets up deceit within himself.
(25) When he makes his voice gracious, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart.
(26) Though his hatred covers itself with guile, his evil will be revealed in the assembly.
1. Have you ever thought that someone hated you? What made you think so? Share your experiences with each other.
2. Many people hide hatred so they don't lose the respect of others. Which human body part does verse 24 say we use to disguise hatred? What kinds of things do people say as they use their lips to disguise hatred?
3. The second part of verse 24 says that those who hate "set up deceit within himself". How could someone fool themselves into thinking they don't really hate someone whom they actually do hate?
4. Verse 25 warns us not to believe someone who speaks graciously to us, but is inwardly fostering hatred of us. What are some signals you might observe to see that someone's gracious speech is fake?
5. "There are seven abominations in his heart" is a way of showing that hate takes over our hearts and leads to other sins. 1 John teaches about two ways hatred leads to other sin in 1 John 3:15 and 1 John 4:20. What are the other sins that hatred causes?
6. What is God saying in verse 26? What do you think it means when it says "His evil will be revealed in the assembly"? If you're struggling to think of an answer, see Ecclesiastes 12:14 and Luke 12:1-3.
7. Use your Bible to see how Jesus wants Christians to deal with the temptation to hate others. How does Matthew 5:43-45 apply to the hatred a Christian may be tempted to feel? How does Matthew 6:14-15 apply as well?
8. Is there anyone you struggle with hatred for? If so, take the opportunity to pray for that person, pray for their forgiveness and for your love for them to grow so that it conforms to God's love for that person. Through the Holy Spirit moving our hearts to be like Christ, our hatred can be transformed into love.
October 11, 2021
Controlled speech is one of the main marks of wisdom. This week's study looks at three wise sayings in Proverbs 26:17-20. All three have to do with using caution with our speech.
When you speak cautiously, you avoid all kinds of problems in relationships with others.
Read the Passage
"A person who is passing by and meddles in a quarrel that’s not his is like one who grabs a dog by the ears.
Like a madman who throws flaming darts and deadly arrows,
so is the person who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”
Without wood, fire goes out;
without a gossip, conflict dies down." (26:17-20)
Have you ever blurted out something that you wish you could take back? Several years ago, I mocked the idea of working for a certain company in a conversation with two friends. Unbeknownst to me, one of the people in the room worked for that company. Needless to say, it was uncomfortable after that.
Try to share a time when you said something without knowing the damage it would cause.
1. The first proverb compares speech to pulling a dog's ears. Have you ever seen a dog grabbed by the ears? To understand this if you've never had a dog, just watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/InA2ebv4oow
2. Did you notice the dog's initial reaction to its ears being touched? What was it like?
3. Obviously, if the owner had grabbed the dog's ears, it would have been a more intense response. Now look again at Proverbs 26:17. How do you think the dog's reaction is similar to the one you'd get from jumping in on another group's argument? Why would people react this way to such an interjection?
4. Consider the next proverb: 26:18-19. Let's think first about the simile made in verse 18. What might happen if you lit arrows on fire and threw them anywhere you like? What kinds damage could be caused?
5. Now for a little brainstorming. What might be some of the negative effects of "teasing" someone in the way verse 19 talks about? How could that hurt the person or your relationship with them?
6. Last, let's look at verse 20. The Hebrew word used for "a gossip" is nirgan, which normally emphasizes someone who slanders others. Slander is grumbling or speaking negatively about someone else. Is slander something you have been tempted by lately? If so how? If not, why not?
7. This proverb says a slanderer is like wood and conflict is like a fire. Slander leads to conflict. What are some ways we can avoid slandering others if we think something or someone is wrong?
8. What are ways we can put out fires and reduce unnecessary conflict in our relationships?
October 4, 2022
In Proverbs, those who ignore God (1:7), His wisdom (8:5), His word (13:13), and His law (28:9) are called "fools".
How should Christians respond to fools? What should you do if one is bothering you? What if one wants to debate with you?
Proverbs 26:4-5 gives us two puzzling answers: "Don't answer a fool" (4) and "Answer a fool" (5). Though these verses seem paradoxical, they challenge us to think wisely before communicating with fools.
Wisdom customizes speech to respond to the other person's error.
Think of a time when you disagreed with a non-Christian about a spiritual issue. What was the issue? What were the main points you both made? Did you make any positive progress or did the discussion end in disagreement?
Read Proverbs 26:4-5
1. Talking about spiritual things with an unbeliever can be difficult. If you could have a re-do of that discussion, what might you choose to change about what you said or how you said it?
2. Read Proverbs 26:4. What danger does it warn us about when we speak to a fool "according to his foolishness"? How do you think this temptation take hold of us?
3. Now read Proverbs 26:5. What danger does it warn us about when we don't speak to a fool "according to his foolishness"?
4. In both verses, the word "according to" is used. But that phrase means two different things in these two different verses. What different meanings does it have in these two verses?
5. This video is a discussion between four people: two evangelical pastors and two political activists who are gay: https://youtu.be/tXEXqMzLX1Y. As you watch, try to identify the different approaches these pastors take to the debate.
6. What is similar about what the pastors believe? What is different about how they apply and communicate it?
7. In your view, which pastor was more effective at communicating the gospel? Why do you think he was more effective?
8. What can you learn from this interaction about how to speak about controversial issues with non-Christians?
September 20, 2022
If you want to teach an unfamiliar concept, compare it to a familiar experience. People have been using similes to teach for over 3,000 years (see Genesis 19:28, written in 1406 BC). Proverbs is filled with similes. Each verse we're reading this week is a simile.
Why are similes so effective? One study in 1993 found that metaphors take longer to process (1924 ms) than similes (1782 ms). Another study showed that metaphors and similes use more parts of the brain than literal sentences through "activation of sensorimotor areas of the brain in addition to semantic or linguistic areas". Similes let us understand concepts by using parts of our brain which deal with physical action.
All the similes we'll look at have to do with speech. Solomon's main goal is to help us understand the importance of care with our speech.
Read Proverbs 25:11-14
1. Look carefully at verses 25:11-13. Whom do these "good" types of speech benefit more, the speaker or the hearer?
2. How is verse 14 a "bad" use of speech? How does it affect the hearer?
3. Based on what you observed about good speech and bad speech from these four verses, try to make a rule about what godly speech must do.
4. Why do you think "clouds and wind without rain" (verse 14) were a bad thing to the original audience of this proverb? How are those things like someone boasting about a gift they fail to give?
5. Why do people boast about things they aren't going to do?
Read Proverbs 25:18-20
This second section sets out three severely sordid similes.
6. Have you ever had someone bear false testimony against you like verse 18 states? How was it like a club, sword, or sharp arrow?
7. Have you ever tried do something hard while you had a bad injury, as verse 19 states? Tell the story to the other person. How was that injury like "an unreliable person in a difficult time"?
8. Have you ever poured vinegar on baking soda? If you haven't, do it and as you watch, imagine how this would be like a person singing to you when you are feeling upset.
9. Based on these profound truths about speech, what is one way you can try to improve the way you talk with others?
September 13, 2022
Proverbs 25 begins by stating it is a collection of "proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, transcribed." This means that King Solomon had written Spirit-breathed wisdom that hadn't been publicized for 200 years. When King Hezekiah read it, he had it published for all to read. In verses 2-7, Solomon gave three rules for life in the royal courts that as relevant for our lives as they were for his.
Understanding God's design for human life brings us lasting influence on others.
1. Before we dig into God's rules, share with each other an important rule for leading other people that you have observed. Tell how you learned this rule. What difference will it make in the way people follow a leader? What happens when a leader ignores or doesn't learn this rule?
Read Proverbs 25:1-7
2. Verses 2-3 indicate that God gains glory by concealing matters from us. But that kings attain glory by searching matters out. Why do you think God wants us to be curious people who investigate things?
3. Life is full of confusing problems. What is something you are currently searching for answers about? Read Proverbs 2:1-6 for encouragement in your search.
4. Verse 3 is a reminder that we don't always understand the reasons motivating a king's decision. What are some reasons we don't always understand world leaders' choices?
5. Verse 4 uses an object lesson that is applied to our lives in verse 5. What's the similarity between dross in silver and wicked people in the presence of a king?
6. Can one of you name a wicked advisor to a king in the Bible? Can the other person think of a wicked advisor to a world leader in recent history or current events. Now compare the two. What similarities are there?
7. Our advisors help shape our decisions. Who are your three most trusted advisors?
8. Looking at verses 6-7, can you find a passage in the gospels where Jesus said almost the same thing?
9. Having a hard time? Give up? Look in Matthew 23, Mark 9, Luke 14, and Luke 18.
10. The idea of being self-demoting is so important to God that He repeats it multiple times. Why is it so important to Him?
11. Look at the three royal rules of Solomon's court. Pick the hardest one for you to follow. What's one way you can practice it this week?
Rule 1: Search for God's Wisdom (25:2-3)
Rule 2: Surround Yourself with God's People (25:4-5)
Rule 3: Stand with the Lowly (25:6-7)
Sept 7, 2022
Psalm 54 is a Maskil, likely a wisdom-oriented Psalm.
David gives an introductory note to this Psalm. It says it was written "When the Ziphites came and said to Saul, 'Is not David hiding himself among us?"
Who were the Ziphites? 1 Chronicles 2 teaches that they were a family from one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe of a Judah. Through his daughter-in-law, Tamar, Judah gave birth to a son, Perez. Perez gave birth to Hezron. Hezron fathered Caleb. Caleb was the other courageous spy with Joshua who agreed Israel should take the land from the Canaanites. Ziph was Caleb's grandson.
Now David was also a Judahite who was from Hezron. David came from Hezron's descendants through Ram, a brother of Caleb. This means that David and the people of Ziph were relatives who lived in the same region of southern Israel.
This is very important because when King Saul began to track down and try to kill David, the Bible tells us that David, "remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph" (1 Samuel 23:14). David was staying in a region he knew around people he expected to be loyal. But some Ziphites betrayed David and reported his presence to Saul (1 Samuel 23:15-19).
That betrayal was the basis of this Psalm. It teaches us how to respond to betrayal.
1. In confidence, share a time with the other person when you perceived that others may be betraying you.
Parents, if you are speaking with your child, I encourage you to find something important to you that your child can understand. Seeing your honesty will help them.
2. Share what kind of prayers you offer to God in these times. What do you ask Him for?
Read the Psalm
Questions for Discussion
3. The Psalm begins "Save me, O God, by your name". God's name is His reputation. In what way does it match God's reputation to help us when we are being attacked by others?
4. What is David's description of these betrayers in verse 3? Why is it important that David speak about their character in this way?
5. Note that, in verses 1, 2, and 4, David repeats his dependance on God for help. When people undergo personal attacks, we are often tempted to depend on something, including ourselves, substances like alcohol, medication, video games, or other people to provide relief. What alternatives to God tempt you?
6. What solution does the Psalmist seek for his problem in verse 6?
7. Verses 6-7 have a very different tone than the rest of the psalm. What do you think is going on in these last two verses?
August 23, 2022
Psalm 53 is a shocking Maskil Psalm. It's shocking in how it portrays people. It's shocking in how it portrays God. People will do terrible things to each other and God will bring terrible justice upon them. The Psalm is divided into two parts: the way of the wicked (1-4) and the demise of the wicked (5-6).
As the Psalmist considers the atrocities of the present and the past, he looks to God for rescue in the future.
Read the Psalm
Questions to Discuss
1. In verse 1-4, what behaviors can you find that are connected to the denial of God's existence? Why do you think this might be?
2. Can you think of times throughout history when terrible evils were committed by a person, party, or nation that denied God's existence? If you need help, here's a Wikipedia article about State Atheism.
3. The apostle Paul quotes Psalm 53:1-3 in Romans 3:10-12. In Romans 3:9, to whom does Paul apply Psalm 53?
4. In what way have all humans become "worthless" as the Psalm (and Romans 3) indicate?
5. In verses 5-6, how does the Psalmist describes the end of the wicked on judgment day?
6. Who do the wicked "encamp" against in verse 5?
7. Why do you think rejection of God would cause the wicked to attack those people?
8. The wicked are called those who "do not call upon God" in verse 4. Share some of the most important times in your present and past when you have called on God. Try to remember what you asked for. How did God answer your prayer?
9. Before God returns to rescue Israel, something needs to happen to most Jews. Read Zechariah 12:10. What does God do before He rescues Israel? What does Israel do?
August 17, 2022
Psalm 42 is a Maskil Psalm where the author asks, "Why are you in despair, O my soul?" The pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote a book about this condition, called "Spiritual Depression". An earlier writer, John of the Cross, referred to it as "The Dark Night of the Soul". It's a mindset nearly every Christian struggles with at some point. It consists of the loss of the spiritual joy we had in the past. In its place, we experience sadness, despair, and emptiness.
God inspired the Psalmist to write a prayer for this season of life. He wants us to learn how to take even our darkest times to Him.
When we are in a time of spiritual depression, Lloyd-Jones challenges us with this question, "Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?" The temptation of letting our emotions control our thoughts doesn't go away when we become Christians.
This Psalm teaches us how to respond to inner thoughts that disturb us.
Read the Psalm
Questions to Discuss
1. In verses 1-2, the Psalmist says he longs to "appear before God". This might refer to the Temple, where God was materially present in the form of a cloud. What might be happening that keeps the Psalmist away from worshipping there?
2. Like the Psalmist, sometimes we feel cut off from God. What kind of circumstances make you feel distant from God?
4. Verse 3 indicates something about the people around the Psalmist. What are they saying to him and what's the effect on him?
5. As the Psalmist looks back on better times, what does he remember in verse 5?
6. Look closely at verses 6-8. The Psalmist is trying to think through, and pray through, his pain. What kinds of things does he remember about God?
7. Again in verses 9-11, the Psalmist talks to God and then himself (just like 6-8). He asks why God has forgotten about him. Now, we know God knows everything. The Psalmist knew that just as much as we do. Why do you think God permits us to ask Him that question?
8. Self-talk is a concept well-known in modern psychology. Self-talk is asking yourself questions and reminding yourself of what's true. But centuries before modern psychology, God was telling us how to do this. Find the following self-talk moments in this Psalm:
- What questions does the Psalmist ask himself?
- What truths about God does the Psalmist remind himself of?
9. Each of us struggles with unique pain that only God can fix. What are the main truths about God that your heart needs to remember?
If you'd like to listen to Martyn Lloyd-Jones' sermon series on spiritual depression, click here to listen to it.
August 8, 2022
Psalm 56 is a Maskil Psalm that teaches wisdom about life following God. Its historical heading records that it was composed during David's retreat to the Philistine city of Gath (described in 1 Samuel 21:10-14). When Saul was chasing David, he was in such danger that he briefly fled to Goliath's hometown for safety.
Imprecatory psalms call for God's wrath to fall on God's enemies. Because of this, it takes careful consideration to properly apply them for use in the church.
In the Old Testament, God's enemies were groups who opposed Israel such as the Philistines, the Amalekites, and the Jebusites. In the New Testament, Jesus called God's enemies "the world". He taught that the world, deceived and led by Satan, hates Christ's followers because it hates Christ himself (John 15:18-19). This Psalm gives us a model for how to respond to the world's hatred.
Read the Psalm
Questions to Discuss
1. Do you think Christians in America experience persecution? Explain your reasoning.
2. Based on verses 1-2 and 5-7 what do you imagine David's daily experience in Gath was like?
3. Have you ever been oppressed or treated with suspicion because of your faith in Christ? If so, describe what happened.
4. Rather than fight back or flee to another city, how does David's respond to opposition in verses 3-4?
5. In verse 7, David prays, "God, bring down the nations in wrath." Why do you think it was ok for David to pray that way? Jesus teaches us to pray for our enemies and to do good to those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Is it possible to do this and also pray like David does here?
6. Find the two verses which are repeated in this Psalm. What can we learn from this about enduring oppression?
7. In the final two verses, David says, "You have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before God in the light of the living." How can this be true if he is still uncertain about whether he will survive in Gath?
8. What Biblical verses give you assurance when others may dislike, suspect, or attack you?
August 3, 2022
Psalm 32 is called a "Maskil". There are twelve other Maskil Psalms: 42, 44—45, 52—55, 74, 78, 88—89, and 142. We don't know what a Maskil is, but some suggest it's a "memory passage" or a "wisdom song".
Let's find some wisdom in this Maskil Psalm.
This Psalm is about the result of confession of sin and forgiveness: joy.
Read the Psalm together.
Opening Question for the Parent
What was a time when you apologized and experienced genuine forgiveness from someone else? Describe your feelings before and after.
1. Sometimes we don't want to recognize sin and apologize, to God or to others. What kind of thoughts or attitudes keep us from confessing our sin?
2. What reward for dealing with our sin does God promise us in the first two verses?
3. What consequence does God promise us for not dealing with sin in verses 3-4?
4. Verse 6 is interesting "Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to you immediately. When great floodwaters come, they will not reach him." Do you think this might be alluding to the Flood? If so, how does the story of the Flood teach us to deal with sin "immediately"?
5. Verse 7 is such a contrast with verse 6. In verse 6, people are threatened with judgment for not confessing sin quickly. But when we confess our sin, what does God promise us in verse 7?
6. Verses 8-9 sound similar to many Proverbs. What wisdom is being taught in verse 9? How does it apply to confessing sin?
7. Verses 10 and 11 contrast the benefits of confessing sin with the dangers of not confessing it. What are they?
8. As I think and write about this Psalm, I have had many sins come to mind. It caused me to end this with very personal question: what kind of sins are hardest for you to recognize and confess?
Whatever your answer is, if you are willing to deal with that sin quickly and sincerely, God will fill your life with greater joy as you experience his forgiveness and protection.
July 19, 2022
There's just one verse this week:
Complete your outdoor work, and prepare your field; afterward, build your house.
The first line is one idea stated two ways: outdoor work and preparing your field. It refers to field preparation so that crops can be grown. But the second line is different: building a house.
What does that teach us about this man? He doesn't have a house! So if you don't have a field or a house (but you do have land for both) which should you prepare first?
This is about prioritizing first things first.
When you had children, your life changed dramatically. Think of the way you used to live before kids; and think of how you lived after. Tell your child any specifics you can think of about how your time management and/or priorities shifted.
1. Summer break is a great opportunity to do things you want to do. How do you spend your time differently during summer vacation versus your time during the school year?
2. What does a person's field give them? (Hint: this guy is a farmer)
3. What does your house give you?
This proverb had to be written because people don't naturally prioritize correctly. So imagine you have to take a wild field and turn it into a field that you can grow and harvest crops on.
1. What work do you have to do to get that field ready for growing crops?
Hint: have you ever had a garden? The preparation issues are similar, but for acres rather than square feet.
2. What work do you have to do to build a house?
3. Take a guess on this one: why would someone rather build a house than prepare a field?
Try to think of something you put off, procrastinate, or ignore, but you know (either from life experience or God's word) that it is more important than you have made it. How can you prioritize it more effectively?
July 12, 2022
Wisdom is learned by experience; it can be ours or someone else's. In this passage, Solomon tells what he learned from someone else's failure:
I went by the field of a slacker
and by the vineyard of one lacking sense.
Thistles had come up everywhere,
weeds covered the ground,
and the stone wall was ruined.
I saw, and took it to heart;
I looked, and received instruction:
a little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the arms to rest,
and your poverty will come like a robber,
and your need, like a bandit.
Solomon is warning us about the long-term consequences of a lazy lifestyle.
We all have unique preferences for down-time which can change throughout our lives.
Currently, what's one of your favorite ways to relax?
What's the difference between healthy down-time and sinful laziness?
1. Try to think of a time when you procrastinated on an important task or over-indulged in recreation. Describe what happened.
2. Look at the last two lines: what does the Bible say laziness leads to? Have you personally witnessed an example of this for yourself or someone else? Tell the story if you can.
3. Solomon never actually sees the slacker; he sees his work. Look carefully at the passage and find a) what his crop is and b) what is threatening a good harvest.
4. The fifth line indicates his "wall was ruined". Do an internet search to find out what was the benefit of a stone wall for a vineyard. Any results?
5. Lines 8 and 9 describe classic lazy behaviors. What are they? Which one is your favorite?
6. As you take a break from school, try think of three summer goals you can enjoy:
a) for your mind - what's something you'd like to learn more about this Summer?
b) for your body - what's a way you want to stay active?
c) for your heart - what's a way you want to become more mature as a Christian?