Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Great People of the Bible Week #8- David


When we think of David we think: shepherd, poet, giant-killer, ancestor of Jesus-- in short one of the greatest men in the Old Testament. But alongside that list stands another: betrayer, liar, adulterer, murderer. The first list gives qualities we all might like to have; the second, qualities that might be true of any one of us. The Bible makes no effort to hide David's failures. Yet he is remembered and respected for his heart for God. Knowing how much more we share in David's failures than in his greatness, we should be curious to find out what made God refer to David as "a man after my own heart", (Acts 13:22).

David, more than anything else, had an unchangeable belief in the faithful and forgiving nature of God. He was a man who lived with great zest. He sinned many times, but he was usually quick to confess. His confessions were from the heart, and his repentance was genuine. David experienced the joy of forgiveness even when he had to suffer the consequences of his sins.

Read 2 Samuel 11:1-15
-According to verse 1, where should David have been?
-How do David's actions (v.2) indicated a lack of anything constructive to do?
-What phrases in verses 2-4 show the progression of David's lust?
-How were David's emotion, mind, and will involved?
-What was the first consequence of David's sin?

Read 2 Samuel 11:6-27
-What steps did David take in attempting to cover up his sin?
-How did David respond to Joab's message?
-How was rationalizing Uriah's death a comfort to David?
-Why does one sin often lead to another?
-What evidence of sin's entrapment have you observed in your life?
-How can an understanding of sin's nature help you resist temptation?

Secure in his cover-up, David married Bathsheba and went about conducting the affairs of the state. Nearly one year passes between the end of chapter 11 and the beginning of chapter 12.

Read 2 Samuel 12:1-14
-How was the parable of the poor man's lamb appropriate for showing David his sin?
-Why was David's response so strong?
-How did his reaction to the story set him up for Nathan's rebuke?
-List the things that God had done and would do for David. (see verses 7 & 8)
-What was the root of David's sin?
-How did God's two judgments correspond to David's sins of adultery and murder?
-What was the tone and content of David's reply to God's judgment?
-What other emotions do you think David was feeling that are not recorded here?
-Why was his simple reply the best response (see 1 John 1:9)?

Read Psalm 32
-How does David describe the person who is blessed?
-This Psalm was written by David as a part of his struggle with God after the sins recorded in 2 Samuel 11. What did unconfessed sin do in David's life (verses 3 & 4)?
-What happened when David acknowledged his sin?
-What advice and promises are given to the godly (verses 6-10)?
-How does David express his renewed relationship with God?
-Is there some sin that is eating at you right now?
-Can you "shout for joy" right now?
-What can be done to help you "shout for joy"?

Next week = Elijah

*NOTE- Next week's study will not be posted until late on August 3rd or the morning of August 4th as I will not have access to a computer for about a week. May God richly bless you as you study His word!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Great People of the Bible Week #7- Ruth


This ancestor of David and Jesus submitted to the circumstances of her life by submitting to the God of circumstances-- a foreign God at first. She still models for us the transtition from an outsider to an insider.

The stories of several people in the Bible are woven together so closely that they are almost inseparable. We know more about thier relationship than we know about them as individuals. And in an age that worships individualism, their stories become helpful models of good relationships. Naomi and Ruth are beautiful examples of this blending of lives. Their cultures, family backgrounds, and ages were very different. As mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, they probably had as many opportunities for tension as for tederness. And yet they were bound to each other.

They shared deep sorrow, great affection for each other and and overriding commitment to the God of Israel. And yet as much as they depended on each other, they also gave each other freedom in the commitment to one another. Naomi was willing to let Ruth return to her family. Ruth was willing to leave her homeland to go to Israel. Naomi even arranged Ruth's marriage to Boaz although it would change their relationship. But all the while God was at the center of their intimate communication and mutual love for one another.

Read Ruth 1:1-5
-Describe the difficult circumstances of Naomi's stay in Moab.

Read Ruth 1:6-22
-What factors could have kept Ruth and Naomi apart?
-What was Ruth's response to Naomi's insistence that she return to her home?
-Why did Ruth's pledge mark a significant change in her life?

Read Ruth 2:1-23
-What did Ruth's willingness to glean demonstrate about her character?
-What does the passage indicate about Ruth's attitude as she went aout to glean?
-When Ruth showed surprise at Boaz's consideration of her, he indicated that he had heard of her from the townspeople. What reputation had Ruth attained? How?
-Boaz blessed Ruth because of "what she had done". Accoding to Boaz, in whom had Ruth trusted?
-How had she demonstrated that trust?
-What actions had she taken that made her a recipient of his blessing?
-Imagine Ruth and Naomi praying together after that first day's gleaning. What do you think they would thank God for?

Read Ruth 3:1-6
-What was Naomi's plan for Ruth?
-Why was it important for Ruth to be vulnerable to Boaz?
-Why might this have been a difficult plan for Ruth to accept?
-What was Ruth's reply to Naomi?
-What does this demonstrate about the relationship between Ruth and Naomi?

Read Ruth 3:7-18
-What was Boaz's response to Ruth?
-What did his blessing in verse 10 demonstrate about Ruth's priorities and about her obedience to God?

Look back at Naomi's prayer for Ruth in chapter 1:8-9 and Boaz's prayer for Ruth in 2:12.
-In what ways was God beginning to answer those prayers?

Read Ruth 4:1-22
-Both Ruth and Boaz are called by name in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus Christ(Matthew 1:5). How is the presence of Ruth (a non-Israelite) in the lineage of Chist an indication of (1) his purposes in coming to earth and (2) the plan of salvation?
-Ruth 4:13 reads; "Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer." In light of the offspring of Ruth and Boaz, how was this an appropriate blessing?
-Ruth's life demonstrates the principles of faithfulness, humility, obedience, and fruitfulness. How can Ruth be a model to us today in 2005?

Next Week = David

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Great People of the Bible Week #6- Deborah

Wise leaders are rare. They accomplish great amounts of work without direct involvement because they know how to work through other people. The are able to see the big picture that often escapes those directly involved, so they make good mediators, advisors, and planners. Deborah fits this description perfectly. She had all these leadership skills, and she had a remarkable relationship with God. The insight and confidance God gave this woman placed her in a unique position in the Old Testament. Deborah is among the outstanding women of history.

Her story shows that she was not power hungry. She wanted to serve God. Whenever praise came her way, she gave God the credit. She didn't deny or resist her position in the culture as a woman and wife, but she never allowed herself to be hindered by it either. He story shows that God can accomplish great things through people who hear his call.

Deborah's life challenges us in several ways. She reminds us of the need to be available both to God and to others. She encourages us to spend our efforts on what we can do rather than on worrying about what we can't do. Deborah challenges us to be wise leaders. She demonstrates what a person can accomplish when God is in control.

Deborah was one of the judges of Israel who led God's chosen people after the Exodus and before the establishment of the monarchy. Deborah was the only female judge of Israel. To get some backgroud read Judges 2:6-16, 18-19. This sets the stage for the cycle of the Judges. This period ends with the last judge, Samuel.

Read Judges 4:1-10
-At this time how formidable was Isrel's army?
-For how long had Israel been dominated?
-From verses 4 & 5 describe Deborah's various roles.
-What kind of credibility had she established among the people?
-According to Judges 2:16 & 18, by whom had Deborah been appointed?
-What gave a judge confidence? Why would this be important?
-What executive order did Deborah issue to Barak? By whose authority?
-Why was the military strategy significant?
-What gaurenteed outcome did she declare?
-What did Barak's initial response (v. 8) reveal about his attitude to Deborah?
-How might his reluctance have affected the military conquest for the people as a whole?
-After Barak marshelled his forces, what happened in the enemy camp?
-How effective was Barak's counter attack (v. 16)?
-Why did Sisera feel safe with Jael?
-Why is it significant that Barak was persuing Sisera?
-What do you think went through Barak's mind when he saw Sisera?
-How many of Deborah's predictions came true? How successful was her leadership?

Read Judges 5

This Song of Deborah celebrates Israel's victory. It has been preserved not only as a record of historical events, but as a beautiful expression of praise to God.

-What is it in leaders and all the people that brings praise to the Lord?
-How did Deborah describe God?
-How did Deborah describe herself?
-What added dimension does this title give to her character?
-What character qualities do you admire most in Deborah?
-Though our culture and lifestyle are different today, in what ways should contemporary Christians follow her example?

Have a great week everyone! If you are wondering how things are going for me in Mexico City, log on to my personal blog

Next Week = Ruth

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Great People of the Bible Week #5- Moses

Some people can't stay out of trouble. When conflict breaks out, they always manage to be nearby. Reaction is their favorite action. This was Moses. He seemed drawn to what needed to be righted. Throughout his life, he was at his finest and his worst responding to the conflicts around him. Even the burning bush experince was an illustration of his character. Having spotted the fire and seen that the bush did not burn, he had to investigate. Whether jumping into a fight to defend a Hebrew slave or trying to referee a struggle between two kinsmen, when Moses saw conflict, he reacted.

Over the years, however, an amazing thing happened to Moses' character. He didn't stop reacting, but rather learned to react correctly. The daily leading of some two million people in the desert was more than enough challenge for Moses' reacting ability. Much of the time he served as a buffer between God and the people. At one moment he had to respond to God's anger at the people's stubborness and forgetfulness. At another moment he had to react to the peoples bickering and complaining. At still another moment he had to react to their unjustified attacks on his character.

In Moses we see an outstanding personality shaped by God gave him confidence in his plan and He took Moses and molded him to do what God wanted him to be.

"I'd rather not get involved." That does not sound like the one who came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. But that was his first reaction. And God persuaded him to get involved.

Read Exodus 3:1-10
-What emotions might have come to Moses in this desolate place?
-What might the passage convey by the mysterious phenomenon of the burning bush?
-Many people feel that remote settings disorient them and make them feel detached from their roots or even from God. If this was Moses' feeling, how doe this message from God reassure him? Does he seem to feel reassured?

Read Exodus 3:11-15
-Moses begins a series of objections to the mission God has for him. There are two in this chapter and two in the next. Do you think the objection of verse 11 indicated modesty or cowardice? Does God answer to him provide any immediate assurance?
-Do you think self-confidence is determined by one's personality, circumstances, family upbringing, or something more? Are there clues in this passage to the confidence Moses had?
-How do verses 13-15 pull together past, present, and future in God's relationship to his people?

Read Exodus 3:16-22
-How does this scenario illustrate the faithful presence of the Lord that the earlier verses have implied?
-What characteristics of God are displayed in chapter 3? Describe each.

Read Exodus 4:1-9
-Moses third objection raises a problem with implementing God's plan. Would this problem occur today?
-The signs in verse 2-9 each confronted and Egyptian superstion: the snake was on Pharaoh's own crown, leprosy was considered a curse and the Nile River was regarded as almost divine. Moses would show that God's power triumphs easily over all human powers. Today you would have a different list of "sacred" superstitions and treasures. Make a list of the ones you think God might use today.
-Do you think Christians need evidence of God's reality today? Explain.

Read Exodus 4:10-17
-Objection #4. What this speach issue a real problem or simply a baseless worry by Moses?
-What is the link between our natural talents and the tasks God gives us? Do you think God matches our mission to our talent?
-If Moses were interviewed for the job of leading the Israelites out of Egypt, what would his strong and weak points be? Do you think he was a "natural" leader?
-Think of the hardest thing you believe God wants you do do. Does your experience match Moses'? Which gifts and talents do you think you need in order to take the next step in your own mission?

Next week-Deborah

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