Study Guide Introduction

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Monday, May 25th

The Warm-up:

Pause, remember and celebrate those who have gone before you who have shaped and secured the life you love and enjoy.

The Insights:

Memorial Day! This week we pause and remember the great many who sacrificed for the freedom and life we have today. Today’s passage reminds us we are not alone. We can draw strength from and build upon the work of those who have gone before us! And, because of their example, we can run, focused on God with confidence as they did.

The Passage: Hebrews 12:1-3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

The Questions:

  • How does knowing we are not alone and are being cheered on (somehow in some way) by our forefathers help us get rid of things that trap us and hold us back?
  • What lessons have we learned (good and bad) from those who have gone before us?
  • What confidence can we gain from Jesus, the one who spearheads, perfects and removes (through His own actions) all obstacles to our faith?

 

Tuesday, May 26th

The Warm-up:

Why is mercy a key part of preventing people from being stuck or trapped?

The Insights:

God’s mercy is the foundation through which we are called to operate. We have been forgiven and received God’s grace expressed through love. God sacrificed to make this reality. We are then called to do the same. How? By offering ourselves just as Jesus did. The world lives for itself, but followers of Jesus live for others. This is how God’s kingdom advances and informs us!

The Passage: Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The Questions:

  • How have you benefitted from mercy (not getting what you deserve)?
    • How have you benefitted from others sacrificing for you?
  • How can we renew our minds to line up with God’s wavelength and movement?
  • How does “living differently” from the world allow us to see God’s will more clearly?

 

Wednesday, May 27th

The Warm-up:

Why is it so important for us not to forget our roots?

The Insights:

Many times in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) when God came to someone, God would associate with that person’s ancestors. There is something powerful about corporate memory, identity and divine intervention. God’s people remembered and somehow they gained hope and strength from the memories. God would leverage those memories so new divine encounters could be experienced and faith would move from memory to current reality.

The Passage: Exodus 3:1-6

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The Questions:

  • What did God use to gain Moses’ attention?
    • How does God get your attention?
  • Who did God appeal to in order to gain Moses’ respect?
  • Who in your past do you draw hope and strength from because of the divine encounters/interventions they experienced?

 

Thursday, May 28th

The Warm-up:

How have you built upon the successes and failures of those who have gone before you?

The Insights:

Sometimes, those who have gone before us don’t set a good example. In today’s passage, Moses was addressing the children of the former Israelite slaves from Egypt who failed to trust God after God had freed them. Moses was reminding them to trust God and follow God’s ways, especially since Moses would not be joining them. It was up to them to set the tone and corporate memory for the generations to come.

The Passage: Deuteronomy 5:1-21

Moses summoned all Israel and said:

Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. (At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The Questions:

  • How do you think you would feel if your elders had failed you and the one who led you in the right ways was leaving?
  • Why was it important for the Israelites to learn from their elders’ mistakes?
  • How have the 10 commandments created a solid foundation for civilization to build upon over the years?

 

Friday, May 29th

The Warm-up:

What do you want your legacy to be?

The Insights:

After Moses reviews God’s commands with the Israelites as they were about to enter into the promised land, he implores them to constantly talk about, review and share them. Why? Because it will go well with them as well as with their children and future generations. It starts with them!

The Passage: Deuteronomy 6:1-25

These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land. Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah. Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you.  Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors, thrusting out all your enemies before you, as the Lord said.

In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Before our eyes the Lord sent signs and wonders—great and terrible—on Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors. The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lordour God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”

The Questions:

  • What commands do you want to emulate and pass on to your children (as well as the entire next generation)?
  • What areas do you need to grow in and start doing in order to pass it on?
  • How have we seen success and failure in younger generations due to the way we live?
    • If you are the younger generation, what do you wish you would have learned from your elders?

 

Saturday, May 30th

The Warm-up:

Why is sacrifice the greatest expression of love?

The Insights:

Jesus, positive growth, sacrifice, staying power, love and friendship are all connected. When we remain in Jesus, we “bear fruit” which leads to all of the other things mentioned above. Many times, in order to produce more fruit, things need to be “sacrificed” or cut off to allow for new growth. Relationship are no different. Frequently, we need to let go of what we want in order for a relationship to grow beyond where it is.

The Passage: John 15:5-17

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

The Questions:

  • What selfish things are difficult for you to let go of in relationships?
    • What would happen if you replaced those with things that would bless the others involved in a relationship with you?
  • What have others given up for you?
  • What did their sacrifice do to your relationship?
  • How different would this pandemic be if the default mode of people was to put others before themselves?