Thursday, March 21, 2019

Sermon Discussion Question: Numbers 16: “Being Consumed” (Chris Smith)

     Text review:

1) In a nutshell, what is this chapter in Numbers about?

2) Who are Korah, Dothan and Abiram? What charge do they bring against Moses?

3) What is Moses’ response to Korah and his followers?

4) What does Moses instruct Korah and his followers to do and why?

From the sermon:

1) What did Chris say was at the heart/root of Koran’s claim?

2) Do you remember a time in your life where you were not living out of gratitude? Reflect back on that time for a minute. How did NOT living out of gratitude impact your relationship with others, yourself and with God?

3) God mercifully provided a way for atonement. What did that atonement system look like in Numbers? (Hint: Aaron) Who do we look to now as our High Priest? Do we see Jesus as our High Priest in our lives?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Numbers 7-10: At the Head and Heart of the Trail (Feb. 17, 2019)

1. Why was it so important that the Israelites carry the Tabernacle into the wilderness with them? 

2. In chapter 7, the tribal chiefs bring their offerings for the dedication of the altar. 

  • Why is it significant that they each bring the same items? 
  • What is significant about the items they bring? 
  • If they aren't commanded to offer these gifts, why do they do it? 
  • Consider their actions in light of Puritan pastor, Richard Baxter's words about giving: “You lose no great advantage for heaven by becoming poor -- in pursuing one’s way, the lighter you travel, the better.” How does this challenge our own view of our wealth? 

3. In 7:89, God met with Moses in a specific place. Where was it? Why are these details important to our understanding of Who God is? (Cross-reference: Psalm 99:1-5)

4. In chapter 9, God reiterated the instruction to keep the Passover. Given that the Israelites are only one year removed from the events of the Passover in Egypt, why is this instruction necessary? What does this say about our own need to be reminded to 'feast before the Lord?'

5. In 9:15-22, we learn how God led the people in the wilderness with the glory cloud. Do you sometimes long for that kind of divine guidance? Give an example. Why does this form of guidance seem so compelling to us? How does God lead us now? Share with the group what you need God's guidance for today -- and pray with and for one another that He would graciously give it AND that you would follow!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Numbers for People Who Aren't Numbers People (An Overview): Numbers 1:1-3//Jan 27, 2019

(Optional: view this overview of Numbers by The Bible Project: Based on this video, is there one part of the book of Numbers you are especially excited to study more deeply?)

1. Read Numbers 1:1-3. What do these verses tell us about the context of the book? How does that context help us understand the content of the book?

2. In his commentary on Numbers, Ian Duguid writes that the "story of the book of Numbers is written to people whose lives are lived between the accomplishing of their redemption and its consummation, between the exodus and the Promised Land." Explain how, as Christians, we find ourselves in a similar situation. How might that common experience help us relate to this book?

3. Read Genesis 12:1-3. What are the three components of God's covenant promised to Abram and his descendants? Discuss how God delivered on this promise in Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus -- and into Numbers. Is God still delivering on that promise? How?

4. Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. What does Paul want us to learn from the wilderness wanderings described in Numbers? How should we respond to his warnings?

5. Despite the Israelite's unfaithfulness, God remains faithful time and again -- refusing to give up on the promise He made to Abraham. Is there a situation in your life, right now, that seems hopeless? How do you need to be reminded of God's faithfulness, even when life seems bleak and barren, like a wilderness?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Radical Dignity for our unborn neighbors (Jan 20, 2019)

1. Read Psalm 139 together, focusing on verses 13-16. What verbs does David use to describe God's creative activity in the womb? How do those verbs shape our understanding of when life begins? What other thoughts do you have about this passage?

2. CBS News recently reported that Iceland is "eliminating Down Syndrome." Is that an accurate description of what's happening? Why or why not? What is biblical response to this news report? View story here (warning: some may find content disturbing):

3. The Bible assumes continuity between embryonic people and the adults they grow up to be. As Princeton professor Robert George writes, “Christian believe that human embryos are, from the very beginning, human beings, sharing an identity with, though younger than, the older human beings they will grow up to become." Discuss this assertion in light of these biblical passages: Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 25:22, Luke 1:39-42. 

4. In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus calls His people to be "the salt of the earth." In the ancient world, salt was useful because its presence halted the decay in meat as well as helping the taste of just about anything. In the same way, as Christian "salt," God immerses us in our communities to both halt the evil of abortion and help those parents who make the courageous and righteous choice to keep their child. Pastor Lee's baby box is a wonderful example of this kind of balance, in which he is urging parents to keep their children and providing a way to care for those very children. Here's a short video about his ministry in Seoul: What is your reaction to this video? How can we, as a church, demonstrate this kind of "saltiness" when it comes to loving our unborn neighbors.

5. Read Mark 10:13-16. What was Jesus' view of "unwanted children?" What about "unwanted adults" (See the Samaritan women in John 4 and Zacchaeus in Luke 17). Why were these adults unwanted by their communities? How has God shown His love for the unwanted in your life? (see Colossians 1:21-23, Romans 5:6-11)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Radical Dignity: January 13, 2019: discussion questions

Note: these questions are based on the last two Sunday morning sermons, both addressing the topic of human dignity.

1. Read Genesis 1:26-28. How do these verses give us a foundation for treating every human being with radical dignity? In what ways does our culture fail to do this? 

2. Read Job 31:15. What is the logic of Job's argument? On what basis does he treat his servant fairly and compassionately? How should this inform our own view of others, particularly the poor?

3. Read James 3:8-10. How should our common image-bearers affect our speech?

4.  Novelist Walker Percy gets at this in his  book, Lost in the Cosmos, when he observes this: “Why is it that the look of another person looking at you is different from everything else in the Cosmos? That is to say, looking at lions or tigers or Saturn or the Ring Nebula or at an owl or at another person from the side -- [that’s all] one thing -- but finding yourself looking in the eyes of another person looking at you is something else. And why is it that one can look at a lion or a planet or an owl or at someone's finger as long as one pleases, but looking into the eyes of another person is, if prolonged past a second, a perilous affair?” Based on what you've discussed so far, how would you answer his question? 

5. Now apply this biblical view of human dignity to the racial and ethnic divisions in our country. What should be the Christian starting point in these discussions? How might that change the conversation about race? 

6. Read Revelation 7:9-12. How does John's vision of heaven affect you? Why? 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Isaiah 9:1-7. Grace for the Gloomy.

Discussion Question - Isaiah 9:1-7. Grace for the Gloomy.

1. Isaiah 9 presents a very gloomy world. It is not only a world in darkness (v. 2), but also a world where there is visible oppression (v. 4) and violence (v. 5). Is our world different? Why or why not?

2. Isaiah gives us permission to see that things are not the way they are supposed to be. However, there can be pressure to hide our brokenness and shy away from the gloom in the world. What are some of the ways that you have done this? 

3. Read Isaiah 9:2. What does Isaiah tell us will happen to this world in gloom? Who are the recipients of these promises?

4. Estonian artist Mati Karmin’s specialty is known for making unique furniture out of recycled naval mines. One of his pieces is a naval mine that has been recycled into a baby carriage. What are the connections between what Karmin has done and what Isaiah tells us will happen in the end of verses 4 and 5? Compare with Isaiah 2:4.

5. Isaiah envisions the day where there will be no more darkness, oppression, and violence. Instead there will be light, freedom, and peace. How does the season of Advent remind you of this?

6. Jesus is pushing through the world of gloom. He has planted the Garden of His Kingdom in this gloomy world and it has already begun to bloom. As we celebrate Advent, what hope does that give you?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Discussion Questions -- 3 John: Truth and Love

1. John is writing to a friend, Gaius, who is stuck in the middle of a church conflict led by Diotrephes, who doesn't respect John's authority. When you have found yourself stuck in similar situations, what has encouraged you the most? How does John encourage Gauis? [Hint: see verses 2 and 3]

2. Why are truth AND love both important to be a good encourager? 

3. Max DePree who said that  “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you.” How do we see John doing this? What are some practical ways you can become a better encourager in the same way?

4. In verse 9, John tells us that Diotrephes 'likes to put himself first.' Why is this such a destructive attitude? 

5. John Stott wrote about Diotrephes that "self-love vitiates all relationships." Do you agree? Why or why not? How can we overcome self-love to build each other up?

6. What is John's strategy for confronting Diotrephes? What do you notice him doing? 

7. John certainly remembered Jesus saying things like: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” In what ways do you hear these teachings echoed in John's own thoughts in verse 11? Are the specific situations right now that you need to apply that same teaching?