Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ohhs and Ahhs

Read Psalm 107

When I was a young married adult, I brought my husband to my parent’s home for Thanksgiving dinner. The home in which I grew up was stable and we had traditions we could count on, such as a big roasted turkey brought out at the table, uncarved, so we could all ohh and aww at the good-looking bird. Then my dad would do the honor of carving the turkey right at the table. With six children in the family – four which were boys – mom always purchased a large turkey, until this year. On this year, mom decided to try one of the “flaked and formed” turkeys which were popular, and they came inside an unattractive netting which looked even worse after cooking. Instead of the golden roasted brown plump roasted turkey, the flaked and formed turkey came apart in pieces, which looked kind of gray, as I recall. My mother neglected to inform my father of the change, and you should have seen his face when that turkey was presented at the family Thanksgiving table. We still laugh about the look on his face.

1. What is your funniest Thanksgiving memory?

There was a secular article in the newspaper that elaborated on the benefits of being thankful. The real gain, the article concluded, was not so much to the people who were thanked, but to the person who expressed the thankfulness. Yes, having a thankful attitude makes all the difference in the world in a person’s outlook and state of being. Psalm 107 will teach us not only to be thankful, but lets us know concretely that the object of our appreciation – the One to whom we are thankful has an impact on our lives beyond description.

2. Psalm 107:1 tells us to give thanks to whom, and what does this verse say about the character of God?

3. Of what does verse 2 remind us to be thankful? Have you been redeemed? Do you know that your sins have been forgiven, and do you have a personal relationship with God because of Jesus?

4. Verse two is significant because we often tend to list our material blessings first. We have relational blessings as well – our family, our church, our friends. But what kind of spiritual blessings have you received this year? Take time to list five spiritual blessings for which to thank the Lord. For example, “during the Easter program, I was reminded of how much Jesus went through for me.” Or, “this year I am less of an angry person because of the work God has done in my life.” What are your five? You may want to take a ten-minute break and think this through.

5. Re-read verses 4-9. Can you share a time when you were lost or homeless or hungry or thirsty? Did you call out to the Lord for help, and how did He answer that prayer?
6. Re-read verses 10-16. What has imprisoned you? Have you been in an actual jail or prison or has there been a habit, mindset, attitude or addiction that has imprisoned you for a
time? How did God deliver you? For what can you give Him praise?

7. Re-read verses 17-22. When have you been the most sick or what health issues do you currently battle? Or perhaps one of your loved ones has been ill. How did/does the Lord minister to you in a health crisis?

8. Re-read verses 23-38. Do you have a story of difficult travels or of surviving through a natural disaster such as a flood, and earthquake or a hurricane? What is your story and in what way did you see the hand of the Lord over that situation?

9. Re-read verses 39-43. Have you had financial or family troubles? How did going through these times shape and/or change you? What did you learn? Can you now give God praise for something you learned through these difficult times?

10. Now, think again of your many blessings. Let’s encourage each other to be a people who are thankful for our material, relational and spiritual blessings. What has this sermon, or this study brought to light, and how can you be more thankful for having learned these things?

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Happiest Day of Your Life

Read Psalm 100

What was the happiest day of your life?

While in the country of Israel, our Jewish guide, Sholomo (Hebrew for Solomon),  explained to us that in the Jewish wedding ceremony, the groom steps on a wine glass and smashes it with his right foot.  The reason this is done at this time is to remember, that on the happiest day of your life – to remember the mourning the Jewish person has in their heart for the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.  The point is that there is a tradition carried out for the purpose of remembering.  A study of the Bible reveals that we, as human beings, tend to forget – even the most important things.
1.        Read Deuteronomy  8:1-5.  What were the children of Israel to remember and for what purpose? 

2.       Read Deuteronomy 8:6-18.  What cautions are we given and what does this passage reveal about human nature?  What does this passage reveal about the character of God?

3.       Re-read Psalm 100.  Why do we need to remember to do these things? 

4.       What does it feel like when you are “taken for granted”?   How do you think God feels when we take Him for granted?

5.       What causes you to sing with Joy to the Lord? 

6.       What is the correlation between a thankful heart and joy?

7.        In what tangible ways do you acknowledge that the Lord is God in your life?  How does acting in obedience to God’s Word acknowledge that the Lord is God?  What does disobedience (knowing the right thing to do, yet  consistently ignore the Holy Spirit’s nudges) acknowledge?

8.       What does it mean to you to read in this Psalm that “He made us, and we are His?” 

9.       We are exhorted here, not only to be thankful but to enter His courts with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.  Commentator Matthew Henry tells us, “In all acts of religious worship, whether in secret or in our families, we come into God’s presence, and serve Him;  but it is in public worship especially, that we enter into His gates and into His courts”.   What is the difference, in your opinion, in private worship, and worship together with other believers in church?

10.   What does Psalm 100:5 proclaim about God?  What are some ways that you can help remind yourself or remind each other in this group about God’s goodness and faithfulness?

11.   What are some ways to communicate God’s goodness and faithfulness to the next generation?         

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Read Psalm 34:15-22.

1. What kind of shopper are you?

a. I try to not step foot in stores and if shopping is to be done I try to delegate that task to another in the family or perhaps shop online.

b. I only shop for tools or sporting goods.

c. I “conquer” when shopping. I find what I need quickly and get out of the store.

d. I do some shopping but it is really not ‘my thing.’

e. I enjoy shopping and trying to find the best buys.

f. Coupons, it’s definitely about coupons.

g. I like to shop until I drop. I believe in ‘retail therapy.’

2. When shopping, we make many choices. How do you make decisions when shopping? What kinds of things do you think about?

3. Read Psalm 1. Note how many choices the writer has explained in this Psalm. What are those choices?

4. What are the results of the choices made in Psalm 1 – for the “righteous”, and for the “wicked”?

5. According to Romans 3:10, who is righteous?

6. Read Romans 5:19 and Ephesians 2:8,9. Knowing that we all, at times, do this that are wrong and hurt the heart of God, how can we, as believers in Christ, be considered “righteous?”

7. Read Romans 1:17. By what does the righteous live?

8. What does Psalm 34:15 and 17 tell us about God’s character? What is promised, and to whom is the promise made?

9. Carefully read Psalm 34:18. What is this promise? In this context what does it mean that the “Lord is near?

10. The New Living Translation tells us that the Lord “rescues” those who are crushed in spirit. Have you experienced what it means to be “crushed in spirit” and have had the Lord “rescue” you? Can you share about this time and how your faith was impacted as a result?

11. What do these promises regarding the Lord helping the righteous pertain to your life? How does an increased understanding of God’s help and deliverance make a difference in your life?

12. If someone who is going through a difficult time this week shared their troubles with you, what would you draw from this study that would help them and give them hope? If this person was not a Christian, would you be able to share how to have a saving relationship with Christ? What words would you use? What Bible verses would you offer?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Got Compassion?

To Accompany Message:  Compassion For the Poor

Read Mark 14:7

1. In a couple of weeks we will celebrate Thanksgiving. Would you share your favorite memory or tradition connected with this holiday?

2. In a scene from a classic movie set in the thirties, some children from a poor family are given a gift by a charitable organization. The little girl opens the gift to find a doll. At first she is delighted until she lifts it from the box and finds that it’s face is broken, and she begins to cry. Can you share a memory from your most meager Christmas?

3. If there was a time when there was financial hardship in your life, how was your compassion for the poor increased by that experience?

4. We’re going to have you skipping all over the Bible. Please read Matthew 6:2-4. Why do you think the Lord instructed us to give in this way? From God’s perspective, as long as the poor are taken care of do you think the motivation of the giver matters? Why or why not?

5. Read Matthew 19:16-21. Jesus said to this young man, “if you want to be complete…” and then instructed him to sell his possessions and give to the poor. What quality in this young man’s heart was Jesus trying to correct? What was at the heart of His instruction to this young man? Read verse 22. What was this young man lacking?

6. In Mark 10:21 the Bible tells us that Jesus felt a love for the young man who was trying to please God by following the ten commandments, yet held back when it came to his possessions. What was the “one thing the young man lacked?”

7. Please read Luke 16:19-31. What, in a general sense, is the correlation between our money and our faith. In what financial state is it, humanly speaking, easier to trust in God? What affect does money tend to have our faith and why? What serious implication about belief is communicated in verse 31? To whom is this verse alluding?

8. Read Luke 21:1-4. Explain in your own words the kind of faith this widow possessed. What did Jesus want us to learn from this example?