Study Guide Introduction

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study guide discussion - Week of May 4th

Ever Wonder Why?!

Monday, May 4th 

The Warm-up: 

How do you discern who to believe when things aren’t going well? 

The Insights:  

This week we ask the question “how can I believe in a good and loving God with all of the illness and sickness around me?” With our current pandemic and social distancing lifestyle, this question is very timely. Today’s passage takes us deeper into Micah. In this passage, Micah called out “prophets” who used their influence to manipulate others for personal gain. As long as they were cared for, everything was fine. Those who neglected them were made enemies. The end result: They were silenced except for Micah who called them out! 

The Passage: Micah 3:5-8 

This is what the Lord says:  

“As for the prophets who lead my people astray,  

they proclaim ‘peace’ if they have something to eat,  

but prepare to wage war against anyone who refuses to feed them.  

Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness, without divination.  

The sun will set for the prophets, and the day will go dark for them.  

The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced.  

They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God.”  

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord 

and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. 

The Questions: 

  1. Think of a time when you encountered a believable message from someone who selfishly gained from it while creating pain and suffering in others. 
  2. What happened?
  3. What did you do about it? 
  4. As followers of Jesus, what do you think we are called to do when we see people preaching injustice?Page Break 

 

Tuesday, May 5th 

The Warm-up: 

What do you brag about? 

The Insights: 

The Apostle Paul had an interesting relationship with the Corinthian Church. At one point, he went off, bragging about all he was and had accomplished to reveal how ridiculous it was. He then followed it up by being vulnerable and exposing his hurts to reveal how God met him in the midst of it. It was God’s presence in his weakness Paul then bragged about. According to Paul, this was what was actually worth bragging about…  

The Passage: 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 

Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  

The Questions: 

  1. According to this passage, when is God’s power and grace perfected in our lives? 
  2. What do you think this means? 
  3. Was God responsible for Paul’s thorn? 
  4. What did God do instead of taking it away? 
  5. What impact did Paul’s “thorn” and God’s presence have on him? 
  6. How is God present in the “thorns” in your life?

 

Wednesday, May 6th 

The Warm-up: 

Where do illness, sickness and disease come from? 

The Insights: 

We blame illness, disease or sickness on many different things. In the scriptures, it was a common belief that it was God’s punishment for sinful behavior. Todays’ passage pushed back against this notion. According to Jesus, it wasn’t sin, nor was it God, but it happened so that God could work through him, on multiple levels. While we aren’t clear as to the reasons he was blind from birth, this passage makes it clear that when God meets us in the midst of our illness or disease, there is an impact that goes beyond us. 

The Passage: John 9:1-34 

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.  

His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.  

Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”  

But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”  

“How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.  

He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”  

“Where is this man?” they asked him.  

“I don’t know,” he said.  

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”  

Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”  

But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.  

Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”  

The man replied, “He is a prophet.”  

They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”  

“We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”  

A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”  

He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”  

Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”  

He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”  

Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”  

The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 

We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”  

To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.  

The Questions: 

  1. What did the healing of the Blind man by Jesus do for the man? 
  2. What impact did it have on others around him? 
  3. How are we “blinded” by our own presuppositions and beliefs? 
  4. How do God’s presence and work influence our blind spots? 
  5. How was the blind man healed beyond his sight? 
  6. In what ways are we healed beyond our primary “illness” when we become well? 

 

Thursday, May 7th 

The Warm-up: 

How important are friends and family when we are “unwell?” 

The Insights: 

Yesterday, we ready about a commonly held belief that illness was a punishment from God due to sin. Today we read about how our sin can sometimes result in illness, however, it is not punishment from God. Instead, it is God who cuts to the source of the problem in order to bring healing! Many times, it is also our friends and family’s support and help that bring us to a place where we can experience God’s healing! 

The Passage: Luke 5:17-26 

One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.  

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”  

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”  

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” 

The Questions: 

  1. According to the passage, why did Jesus forgive this man’s sins? 
  2. What were the paralyzed man’s friends willing to do so he could encounter Jesus? 
  3. What are we willing to do so that others can encounter Jesus? 
  4. How can our sins lead to illness or unhealth? 
  5. How can forgiveness physically heal? 

 

Friday, May 8th 

The Warm-up: 

How do you respond to your friends and family when they are sick, ill or suffering? 

The Insights: 

Today and tomorrow we will look into the story of Job. By today’s standards, Job had it all; homes, family, wealth and health. In addition, he was well liked and considered righteous by the standards of his time. However, in a moment, Job lost it all. His home was flattened, business and wealth lost, children died and his health took a serious downturn. The only one left was his wife who told him to “curse God and die!” Today’s passage zeroes in on Job’s friends. 

The Passages: Job 2:11-13 & 42:7-9 

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was  

After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. 

The Questions: 

  1. When were Job’s friends at their best?
  2. What happens when we move from presence to opinions and unwarranted advice? 
  3. How can we come alongside those who are sick and hurting right now in ways that bless them? 

 

Saturday, May 2nd 

The Warm-up: 

Where is God when we are sick, ill and hurting? 

The Insights: 

Why does God allow sickness and suffering? That question has been asked since humanity encountered the divine. Job was no exception. God responded to Job by reminding him that He not only created all things, but that He is present in and sustaining all things as well. Things that Job could not comprehend. In short, Job never got his question answered, however, he did encounter God in new and powerful ways. The end result was Job moved from knowing about God to experiencing and entering into a relationship with God. 

The Passages: Job 38:1-7 & 42:1-6 

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:  

“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?  

Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.  

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?  

Tell me, if you understand.  

Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!  

Who stretched a measuring line across it?  

On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—  

while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? 

 

Then Job replied to the Lord 

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  

You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’  

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.  

“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;  

I will question you, and you shall answer me.’  

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.  

Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” 

The Questions: 

  1. How did Job’s attitude change when he encountered God and realized God was with him in the midst of his suffering? 
  2. How is God present with us in our suffering? 
  3. Describe how your relationship with God changed in a time when you were sick, broken or hurting. 
  4. How is God present in our current pandemic? 
  5. How can we become better aware of and pursue God, knowing God is present and working in, through and around us?