True Heirs - Galatians 3:23-4:7

(If possible have a family who has adopted a child come give a short testimony about the experience.)

1.      What factors make an adoption hearing so joyful?

2.      How does the status of the child change with legal adoption, and why is that important?

As we will learn today we are all adopted into the family of God if we have trusted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He is not only our Lord, Savior and Creator of all that exists, but He is our elder Brother! No one is above another; we are all brothers and sisters in Christ! By the blood of Christ we are children of God who share in the blessings promised to Abraham and the salvation Jesus provides. God’s plan includes the promise given to Abraham, then the law given to Moses, and then the inheritance through Christ. The law did not abolish the promise of a Savior, and Christ’s coming did not abolish the law but fulfilled it.

 

As we study, look for different ways God describes a believer and the benefits tied to those descriptions!

 

An Old Guardian! Read Galatians 3:23-25

 

Paul used two metaphors in these verses to describe the law: a prison guard and a guardian. Both take away freedom. Both put us in position where we are trying to earn favor.  The prison guard keeps us detained, while the guardian instructs and disciplines, pointing us toward freedom. Sometimes a person is put in protective custody for the good of the individual. So there are some benefits to both.

 

1.      What do we learn from the law as a tutor? (The law shows us our need for a savior. When we compare ourselves to Christ, we see our need for Him!)

2.      How can we tell when we are ready to “graduate”? (Those who are not studying the law often don’t see a need for a savior. They think they are doing alright on their own. We never truly graduate. We always need the law to show us how wretched we are, how perfect Christ is, and how desperately we need to place our faith in Him!)

3.      What use is the law after we have recognized our need for Christ and have been saved? (As we grow in our understanding of the law, we grow in our understanding of our sins and Christ’s perfection. As we continue to study the law, we see more clearly where our hearts fail and where Christ triumphs. This should lead to a deeper love for Christ and His sacrifice!)

Paul then explained how faith in Christ defines our position in Christ.

 

A New Community! Read Galatians 3:26-28

 

1.      Read Romans 6:3-4! What is the purpose of baptism? (It is the outward symbol of a radical inward transformation! Paul did not show baptism to be necessary for salvation. Instead, he spoke of how baptism is an outward symbol of an inward change and that it unifies believers. See Eph. 4:4-6)

This picture of putting “on Christ like a garment” may be difficult for us to understand. Paul’s illustration of taking off old garments and putting on new garments reflects a spiritual reality. “In Roman culture, when a minor child became an adult he removed the child’s clothing and put on a style typically worn by adult males. He stripped off the old and replaced it with the new. Believers had stripped off the old clothing of the law and put on Jesus’ robes of righteousness!” Leaders Guide pg. 46

2.      Reflect on your salvation experience. Why were you baptized?

3.      What distinctions have been removed by the gospel? (All racial distinctions have been abolished. There are no social distinctions in Christ. There are no gender distinctions.)

To say there are no gender distinctions held potential for division in the family of God but there are distinctions as to what roles are assigned within the Body of Christ!

4.      What are some reasons some Christians might exclude certain people from their circle, including the church?

5.      How would you address that issue based on this passage?

We may wonder about what happens when the walls are broken down and we receive the grace and mercy of our Lord. Paul addresses this in the next few verses.

A New Position! Read Galatians 3:29-4:7

 

1.      What is the believer’s new status in verse 29?

2.      According to these verses what words or phrases might be used to describe a person’s life without Jesus? (Orphans, lost, and without any purpose.)

3.      How is our identity different after we have placed our faith in Christ? (List differences next to each word listed, i.e., slave to heir.)

In these verses Paul was describing how before Christ the Jews were children underneath the law, even though they shared in the same faith as Abraham. But when Christ came, He redeemed the children from slavery and adopted them as children of God.

4.      What are the implications of God being our “Abba”? (Paul says the Spirit in us cries out “Abba,” which is Aramaic for “Daddy.” Picture a young child who cries out “Daddy.” Paul wrote in Greek but used the Aramaic word for “Daddy.” Paul was pointing us to when Christ prayed in Gethsemane, “Abba, father”—Mark 14:36)

As His children, we can approach God with the same confidence as Christ does.

5.      How can you use the illustration of adoption in sharing the gospel with someone?

6.      Based upon Paul’s writing, he is describing the work of the Trinity in salvation. What roles do the Father, Son, and Spirit each play in salvation?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

What excites you most about being a cherished child of God? (I was chosen specifically by God Himself to be His child!)

We are co-heirs with Christ and free from the chains that previously enslaved us under the law!

How might you be living like a slave and not an heir? Choose to live in the freedom and security found in Christ!

 

True Life - Galatians 3:1-14

I love to watch “The Little Rascals”. It is not uncommon to see a scene where Spanky or Buckwheat or Alfalfa would do something and one of the other children would be blamed for it and even receive the punishment. Generally the real perpetrator would not confess but relish in the other person being punished.

1.      But what would make watching someone receive a severe punishment because of your mistake so difficult?

2.      How can knowing that someone else will be impacted by your actions serve as motivation?

In our passage today Paul is still talking to the Galatians about their stupidity of turning away from salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone. Here Paul uses the same tool the Judaizers used—Old Testament Scripture! Again Paul uses contrasts—the deficiency of the law and the sufficiency of faith! The Judaizers were practicing insanity, that is, doing the same thing again and again but expecting different results.

Paul uses three main points today: 1) The Holy Spirit confirms our salvation; 2) Abraham believed it; 3) The curse demands it.

 

(Divide the class into three groups. Assign each group one of the main points of the lesson. Ask them to search their portion of the Scripture text and answer the questions you provide them. Give them approximately 10 minutes to complete their work then call them back together to give their report.)

 

Group 1—The Spirit Confirms it! Galatians 3:1-5

 

Paul was using rhetorical questions to highlight the Galatians’ foolishness in returning to the law for righteousness apart from Christ. He was making them aware of how their faith was becoming legalism.

Having a part in one’s own salvation by works was, and is, appealing to new believers. We all have a tendency to want to achieve for ourselves. Until the Judaizers came they had never heard of the law.

1.      Search Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30. What do these two verses have to say about the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of the Christian? (They were “sealed by Him until the day of redemption.”  “In the early Church converts nearly always received the Holy Spirit in a visible way.… That experience (receiving the Holy Spirit) had happened to the Galatians and had happened, said Paul, not because they had obeyed the regulations of the law, because at that time they had never heard of the law.”—The Letter to the Galatians by Dr. William Barclay. The Scripture does not say these Christians had received the Spirit in a visible way but they certainly knew they had received the Holy Spirit.)

2.      Create one-sentence summaries of each verse in this section. (Summaries could include: Verse 1: Paul was correcting the Galatians on believing in the insufficiency of Christ’s death. Verse 2: Paul showed how the Spirit came by faith and not by the works of the law. Verse 3: Paul spoke of how the people were reverting to the law, which Jesus had saved them from.   4: Paul spoke of how their suffering for Christ was not to be in vain. Verse 5: Paul shared how the means for God’s work is not based in the law but in the Spirit.)

3.      What are the dangers of trusting in our own efforts for sanctification?

4.      If people are saved by faith, what pressures might cause them to start trusting in works after their salvation? (If they are new Christians a smooth talker might come in and tell them he wanted to help them grow deeper in their Christian walk by convincing them they had to follow a set of rules.)

Through these series of questions, Paul challenged the Galatians to look to their initial salvation experience and their continuing walk of sanctification.

5.      To what evidence could a person point as proof that he or she had received God’s forgiveness?

6.      What makes this assurance so important?

 

Group 2—Abraham Believed it! Galatians 3:6-9

 

1.      Read Gen. 12:1-3. What promise was given to Abraham in these verses?

2.      Read Gen. 15:2-5. What promise did God give Abraham in these verses that seemed impossible?

3.      Read Gen. 15:6. What was Abraham’s response to all that God had promised him in spite of how impossible it seemed? (All of this happened before the law was given and before he was circumcised. By faith alone Abraham was declared righteous!)

4.      Who was thought of as being sons of Abraham until this time by most people? (Only the Jews!)

5.      Who are the sons of Abraham according to these verses?

Justification by faith knows no prejudice!

6.      Why do some people consider themselves Christians because they are born into a Christian family?

7.      How do Paul’s words here instruct them?

8.      How does faith in Christ push us toward righteous living? (All who express genuine faith in Christ Jesus should therefore strive to be like Christ. This process is called sanctification, and is a lifelong endeavor!)

9.      Verse 9 points out how as believers we share the same faith as Abraham. What does that tell you about how God views the faith we express in Jesus Christ?

10.  Why is Jesus, not Abraham, the central figure in all of history?

 

Group 3—The Curse Demands it! Galatians 3:10-14

 

1.      Last week we talked about the purpose of the law. What did we discover? (To show us what sin is!)

2.      What does the law bring to us if we rely on it for salvation? (Curse.)

The purpose of the law was to show people their need of faith!

3.      How does the law itself point to the inadequacy to save? (Those who tried to keep the law were condemned by the very law they tried to keep because they could not keep it all.)

This necessitated a work of grace for salvation rather than human effort or achievement.

4.      Read v.13 then read 2 Cor. 5:21. What comparisons do you see in these verses?

There is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ our Lord! When we can admit our inability to follow the law completely, we can admit our need for a savior!

5.      What does trusting in Jesus produce in a person’s life? (“That the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith.”)

6.      Why was it important for Paul to remind his readers that Christ took on the curse? (Christ received the curse that we had earned. Our sins were imputed to Him. Our sins were taken away, but we also received Christ’s righteousness. It was imputed to us by God’s marvelous, matchless, amazing Grace!)

 

When we begin to learn and fully comprehend how our faith is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection, we find a reason to live for Him every day!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

When we begin to think of specific ways we can make a choice to live by faith and not by legalism, we are moving forward in our efforts to express love because of God’s grace not to earn grace!

When we look to good deeds or rule following for our sense of security, then we are not looking to the finished work of Christ!

Consider: How can we engage people who are trusting in things other than the grace of God and teach them about justification by faith?

 

Prayer.

Group 1—The Spirit Confirms it! Galatians 3:1-5

 

Paul was using rhetorical questions to highlight the Galatians’ foolishness in returning to the law for righteousness apart from Christ. He was making them aware of how their faith was becoming legalism.

Having a part in one’s own salvation by works was, and is, appealing to new believers. We all have a tendency to want to achieve for ourselves. Until the Judaizers came they had never heard of the law.

1.      Search Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30. What do these two verses have to say about the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of the Christian?

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.      Create one-sentence summaries of each verse in this section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.      What are the dangers of trusting in our own efforts for sanctification?

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.      If people are saved by faith, what pressures might cause them to start trusting in works after their salvation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through these series of questions, Paul challenged the Galatians to look to their initial salvation experience and their continuing walk of sanctification.

5.      To what evidence could a person point as proof that he or she had received God’s forgiveness?

 

 

 

 

6.      What makes this assurance so important?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Group 2—Abraham Believed it! Galatians 3:6-9

 

1.      Read Gen. 12:1-3. What promise was given to Abraham in these verses?

 

 

 

 

2.      Read Gen. 15:2-5. What promise did God give Abraham in these verses that seemed impossible?

 

 

 

 

3.      Read Gen. 15:6. What was Abraham’s response to all that God had promised him in spite of how impossible it seemed?

 

 

 

 

4.      Who was thought of as being sons of Abraham until this time by most people?

 

 

 

 

5.      Who are the sons of Abraham according to these verses?

Justification by faith knows no prejudice!

 

 

 

 

6.      Why do some people consider themselves Christians because they are born into a Christian family?

 

 

 

7.      How do Paul’s words here instruct them?

 

 

 

8.      How does faith in Christ push us toward righteous living?

 

 

 

 

9.      Verse 9 points out how as believers we share the same faith as Abraham. What does that tell you about how God views the faith we express in Jesus Christ?

 

 

 

 

10.  Why is Jesus, not Abraham, the central figure in all of history?

 

 

Group 3—The Curse Demands it! Galatians 3:10-14

 

1.      Last week we talked about the purpose of the law. What did we discover?

 

 

 

 

 

2.      What does the law bring to us if we rely on it for salvation?

The purpose of the law was to show people their need of faith!

 

 

 

 

 

3.      How does the law itself point to the inadequacy to save?

This necessitated a work of grace for salvation rather than human effort or achievement.

 

 

 

 

 

4.      Read v.13 then read 2 Cor. 5:21. What comparisons do you see in these verses?

There is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ our Lord! When we can admit our inability to follow the law completely, we can admit our need for a savior!

 

 

 

 

 

5.      What does trusting in Jesus produce in a person’s life?

 

 

 

 

 

6.      Why was it important for Paul to remind his readers that Christ took on the curse?

 

When we begin to learn and fully comprehend how our faith is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection, we find a reason to live for Him every day!

 

 

 

True Grace - Galatians 2:11-21

The focus of our study today is not only defining what grace means but understanding how it applies in our lives.

“Various requirements exist for inclusion into some groups. The military sets age requirements for recruits, along with physical restrictions. Lawyers must pass an exam to be admitted to the bar. Nurses and doctors must pass an exam to be able to practice medicine. Many organizations charge fees for membership. Inclusion into God’s family operates differently. The gospel of grace means God welcomes all people into His family. He excludes no person who responds to Him in faith.”—PSG pg 19

            Today’s study will cover “The Gospel Revealed.” From the end of our focal passage last week to our passage for today, Paul clarified his authority to speak as an apostle. He explained the origin of his apostolic commission in response to questions and accusations about the validity of his apostleship.

Read Gal. 2:1-10.

 

Have you ever been called out publicly for doing something you knew was wrong and yet for some reason you did it anyway? Let’s see what happened in our focal passage today.

 

Confronted by Truth! Read Galatians 2:11-14

 

It is evident that Paul and Peter shared the same mission, that is to go and share the gospel—Peter to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles. Paul stated, though, how there arose a disagreement between Paul and Peter. The issue at hand was that Peter associated with the Gentiles in Antioch; that is, until some Christian Jews came from Jerusalem to visit Peter. He then immediately disassociated with the Gentiles at a fellowship meal, evidently held at a church gathering. Paul basically revealed the hypocrisy that Peter demonstrated!

1.      What compelled Peter to separate from the Gentiles and eat at another table with only Jews?

2.      What in this passage leads us to believe that these Jews from Jerusalem were Judaizers? (Verse 12, “…from the circumcision party.” Although not stated, they thought they were more acceptable to God because they were Jews than the Gentiles who did not keep the law.)

3.      What factors might have made confronting Peter a difficult decision for Paul? (Peter was perhaps considered the main leader among the Jewish Christians. He had actually walked and talked with Jesus.)

4.      What had happened to Peter that should have been a lesson learned concerning accepting Gentiles just as Jews? (Peter’s experience in Acts 10 that records the conversion of Cornelius.)

5.      Why did Paul need to confront the situation with Peter, and do so publicly, rather than just ignore it? (Sin needs to be addressed at the same level it is committed. If it was public then address it publicly. There are no different classes of Christians. All people—Jews and Gentiles—are sinners in need of God’s saving grace!)

This issue was serious enough to gather the church and make sure that the truth of the gospel had a proper defense.

6.      What do you do when opposition arises among believers?

7.      How should we express boldness and love to address issues with confrontation rather than allowing them to slip by? (We speak the truth in love. We speak respecting the other person while speaking the truth about the falseness of their position.)

8.      What might have led some of the other Jews to join Peter and the Jews from Jerusalem? (Without thinking about how it looked they just wanted to visit with these fellow Jews. But, we must quickly say that does not seem to be the case based on what Paul says about the issue.)

9.      Are we ever guilty of this same sin without thinking? (When we walk into a room and our friends are in one area of the room and a new person or someone “different” is sitting alone in another part of the room, where do we sit?)

10.  How can a bias get in the way of us sharing the gospel?

Paul had a purpose in showing the people of Galatia the details of the confrontation with Peter. Let’s see where Paul goes with this!

Justified By Grace! Read Galatians 2:15-18

 

As we read these verses we might wonder, “What was the purpose of the law in the first place?” Read Romans 7:7 for that answer.

(Lecture briefly on Gal. 2:15-18.)

The Law is God’s standard. No one can meet it! See Psalm 143:2.

1.      How would you define “justification”? (“The action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God.”)

2.      How would you define justification by faith?

3.      What makes this so important to understand? (We can never achieve a right standing with God apart from faith in what Jesus did for me at Calvary. No amount of human effort can make us right with God!)

Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Jesus.

4.      How is this statement seen in Galatians 2?

5.      Why are people often resistant to the message of salvation by grace?

6.      What are some things people today attempt to add to Jesus for salvation? (Church attendance. Tithing. Serving—teaching, being a deacon, etc. Not doing some things like drinking, swearing, gambling, etc.)

7.      How do some people respond to knowing they are unable to earn salvation? (Freedom comes once we rest in the truth of Christ’s ultimate work on our behalf. This in unlike anything else we will experience in our lives, and it may seem difficult at times to accept this gift as entirely free with no strings attached.)

When we try to earn our salvation, even just a small part, we will find that all our efforts fall short. Recognizing this can lead to complete faith in and dependence on Christ. Faith is the opposite of independence. Faith accepts that we cannot do it, and we trust Christ to do it for us.

Can you imagine the freedom Paul must have felt when he finally realized his standing with God did not depend on his effort!

We do not receive grace because we obey; we obey because we have received grace. And there is a world of difference in the two!

 

Crucified with Christ! Read Galatians 2:19-21

Paul’s argument was for the gospel to be expressed by death to the law and living by faith in Christ!

Paul uses a lot of pairs in Galatians:

·         The gospel vs. false gospels

·         Law vs. freedom

·         Law vs. faith

·         Sons and heirs

·         Works vs. grace

·         Slave vs. free

·         Spirit vs. flesh

1.      What are some opposites if following the law versus faith? (Bondage and freedom. Condemned and justified.)

2.      What would be the point in Jesus’ death if people could be justified by their own efforts?

3.      How does “dying to the law” help you to “live for Christ”? (We die to trusting the law to save us or attempting to earn our salvation by following the law! We are free to be obedient to the leadership of the Holy Spirit with great joy!)

4.      In what sense were we crucified with Christ?

Later in his letter Paul will clarify the purpose of the law. Paul’s statement in verse 21 is used to explain the love and power of Christ’s death on the cross.

5.      Why does the gospel demand absolute trust in Jesus’ death on the cross? (That was the price paid for our freedom!)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

1.      How does the truth of the gospel impact how we treat others who are lost? Even our very faith is a gracious gift from God. Once we recognize this, we are free from the condemnation of the Law in our own lives, but we must also embrace this truth with regard to others!

2.      How does the truth of the gospel impact how we treat others who are already saved?

Spend some time in prayer this week, asking God to search your heart and open your eyes to areas where you are harboring biases toward others. Ask God to remove them from your heart.

The True Gospel - Galatians 1:1-10

Today we begin a study of the book of Galatians. This book was written to a group of churches in the province of Galatia. Paul had gone through southern part of this province on his first missionary journey. He established churches in Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.

The purpose of this letter was to remind the churches about the one true gospel. There was a group of people who came after Paul called the Judaizers. They brought doubt on Paul’s authority as an Apostle and his message about the gospel. They were teaching that what Paul said was true but not the whole truth. They were teaching that an individual who accepted Christ as his Savior also had to follow the Jewish Law to be a true Christian. Paul wrote this letter to expose the untruths of the gospel of grace plus law and to defend his apostleship as a calling and appointment from God Himself.

Reading the letters in the New Testament is much like listening to one side of a phone conversation. You don’t know what the person on the other end of the call is saying or the questions they may be asking, you only hear the answers being given. The letter was written most likely in the mid AD 40s. Most likely before the Jerusalem Council, out of which came a clarification of the true Gospel, that salvation came only by faith in Christ, period!  

The focus of our study today is defining the true gospel. As we approach the letter to churches in Galatia and understand its context, we can begin to recognize how diligent Paul was going to be to defend and apply the meaning of the true gospel to the people in these churches.

We find the following Major Themes in Galatians:

·         Paul defended his authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ.

·         Paul argued that salvation is solely by God’s grace through His Son Jesus Christ, received by faith.

·         The Christian life is one of freedom, directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Appointed by God, Himself! Read Galatians 1:1-2

 

Based on how Paul opened this letter, the Judiazers had brought into question Paul’s authority as an apostle. An apostle was generally defined as “one who had walked with Jesus while He was here on earth and was a witness to Jesus’ resurrection.

1.      When might a person need to set forth his or her credentials to speak authoritatively on a subject? (When it’s brought into question.)

2.      How might a believer introduce himself or herself to establish credibility as one who knows the truth about Jesus?

Not only did Paul speak about his credibility, but he also discussed how he was not alone in what he believed and affirmed. But, noticeably missing is any thanksgiving for or about the churches in Galatia, which was a part of several of Paul’s letters to other churches and individuals.

3.      How important is it for you and our church as a whole, to know what the Bible says about Jesus? (It is absolutely essential! I am shocked by the lack of knowledge of some church members concerning Jesus and the Bible in general. This shows they either don’t attend Bible study or they don’t pay attention when they do come.)

4.      What do you do as a body of believers to express these truths? (These truths are the power of God unto salvation! The world must hear these truths and we must be the messengers!)

5.       How was Paul’s calling different from the calling ministers receive today?

6.      How does this impact the authority of Paul’s teaching? (Paul, along with the other selected apostles, had the authority to write Scripture. Those who are called today have authority to proclaim what is already in Scripture!)

7.      In a sense all Christians are called. For what purposes does God call all believers? (We are first called to salvation by God’s grace. Secondly, we are called to follow a path of good works which God has prepared for us—Eph. 2:10. All believers are called to deliver the gospel to others!)

 

Paul continued his introduction to the church and began to make an exhortation to the people.

Through His Grace! Read Galatians 1:3-5

 

1.      What attributes of Jesus do we see here relative to the gospel? (“Gave Himself for our sin”; “rescue us from this present evil age”; “according to the will of our God and Father”.)

2.      What is the relationship of grace and peace to the gospel? (It is only by God’s mercy that He showered His grace upon us that by accepting His free gift we might have peace with God the Father!)

3.      How would you define the word “grace”? (God’s abundant, underserved favor. God’s Riches At Christ Expense! Mercy is not getting the punishment we deserve for our sin and grace is getting what we do not deserve—God’s forgiveness!)

4.      What are the dangers of embracing a religion, like the Galatians did, that is centered on legalism?

5.      How do we avoid falling into the same trap the Galatians succumbed to? (We realize and understand that our salvation is by grace alone through faith in Jesus. Certainly, we are to be obedient to God after accepting Jesus but it isn’t to earn our salvation, it is an act of obedience through our love for Jesus.)

6.       How do the statements in verse 4 reflect Jesus’ power and authority to save?

7.      What does it tell us about any message that focuses on man’s achievement versus the power of Jesus?

8.      How does verse 5 come into importance? (Our forever and ever God is permanent. Unlike the gods of this world, He is no temporary savior. God and His salvation endure throughout all time. We receive eternal benefit!)

 

As Paul demonstrated the grace, peace, and power of Jesus Christ, he began to condemn the people for their desire to embrace legalism in the application of the gospel. It is difficult for us to believe there is nothing we can do to earn what we receive from God!

 

Distorted by Some! Read Galatians 1:6-10

1.      How would you describe Paul’s tone here?

2.      Verse 7 speaks about the influences that were affecting the people of Galatia as they wanted to try to change the good news of Jesus. What might cause a person to turn away from following Jesus today? (A well polished speaker who can make the false gospel sound so very true. That is why it is so important for us to know what we believe and why we believe it.)

3.      Why did Paul emphasize that the gospel is grace through faith-based salvation and not works-based? (The Galatians were being presented a false gospel and if this false gospel was not immediately exposed and cast aside the spreading of the true gospel would be halted and the truth may have not ever reached us.)

Paul warned that if you change the gospel at all it is not gospel at all! The gospel is entirely grace. We either believe in a works-based salvation or a grace-based salvation.

4.      Verses 8-9 refer to a curse that is upon any person who tries to preach and cause others to embrace a message that distorts or denies the power of Jesus Christ. How does spending time in God’s Word as a group of believers help to protect the integrity and truth of the gospel in the church?

5.      How do we test teaching to make sure it is true? (We measure what is being taught by Scripture and Scripture alone!)

The message is more important than the messenger or delivery method!

6.      What impact should culture shifts have on the church’s teaching? (Scripture is the authority and should not bend. Our methods of delivery may change but the message is the same!)

7.      What truths can we learn from Paul about being bold when sharing the gospel? (We confront false teachings with courtesy and respect and do not waver from the truth!)

Just as Paul was concerned with safeguarding the faith for the churches in Galatia, we have the call as believers to guard the integrity of the gospel that is being shared.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

·         God appoints all believers to deliver His gospel message.

·         True peace comes only by the grace of God through faith in the sacrificial death of His Son.

·         Believers must safeguard their faith, resisting those who teach a salvation that comes through any means other than faith in Jesus!

 

1.      To whom has God appointed you to be a messenger of the gospel?

2.      How can you encourage class members to distinguish between the true gospel and the works-based gospel embraced by the Galatians?

3.      What similarities do you see between the perversions of the gospel in Paul’s day and in our day?

 

Pray.

Disciplined - 2 Samuel 24:1-25 (1 Chronicles 21:1-30)

1.      What are some things that get out of alignment from time to time and need to be adjusted? (Wheel adjustment; Attitude; Spiritual life; etc.)

2.      If we fail to get these things back in alignment there are consequences that we will face. Why do we often ignore consequences as we cling to sinful and/or unhealthy behaviors?

3.      How can God use the consequences to discipline us?

4.      What consequences have you experienced or seen that prompted a change in your behavior?

In our passage today David called for a census against God’s will, bringing severe consequences on him and his people.

In Exodus 30:11-16, God gave instructions about taking a census of Israel. The Law states when you take a census each man 20 years old or older must pay half a shekel as a ransom. Notice they were not told to take a census or how often to take a census. The money was used “for the service of the tent of meeting.”

            In the first nine verses of 2 Samuel 24 we find David decided to take a census of all of Israel. He summoned Joab and ordered him to conduct the census. Joab disagreed and tried to talk David out of taking the census but David would not relent, so the census was started.

            I was having a hard time with this passage, so I turned to Bob Beckel. He helped me understand it a little better. First Chronicles 21 also gives an account of this event. There we find Satan “incited David to count the people of Israel.” After David had the census taken he realized it was against God’s will so he asked for God’s forgiveness. We don’t really know why the census was wrong. Here God used Satan much as He had with Job to test him.

 

There are different ideas about what was wrong with David taking the census. Sometimes we want to “count” what we have because of a prideful attitude. Let’s see what happened.

Confession! Read 2 Samuel 24:10

 

1.      How would you describe what was going on in David’s heart?

2.      What did David’s actions indicate about his heart? (He wanted a right relationship with God; He knew something was wrong about taking the census!)

3.      What emotions might we experience when we recognize we’ve done wrong? (Shame, guilt, embarrassment, etc.)

4.      What does a reluctance to confess sin indicate about a person?

5.      What excuses do we use to justify our sins and avoid confession? (Moment of weakness; I’m only human; they deserved it; they would have done it to me; etc.)

6.      Why aren’t these valid excuses? (We are comparing our actions to the wrong “measuring stick.” God’s standards are what we need to measure ourselves by!)

7.      What will likely happen if we continue to postpone a confession? (Our fellowship with God will suffer greatly. Until we get things right with Him we will not have any peace.)

1 John 1:9.  “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 

God was at work in David’s heart that night and in the heart of the prophet Gad.

 

Consequences! Read 2 Samuel 24:11-15

 

1.      Why do you think the Lord gave David the choice over which consequence he and the nation would have to endure?

2.      Notice the last few words of verse 12, “I will do it to you.” Why do you think God said “to you” rather than “to Israel.”?

3.      What were the pros and cons of each choice? (Three years of famine? Three months of fleeing from your enemies? Three days of plague throughout the land?)

4.      Consider these sins: Sexual immorality; Alcoholism; Dishonesty; Drug abuse; Wide spread atheism; human trafficking; etc. What are the consequences of these sins on the individual, the community, the nation, the world?

5.      In what ways can we show compassion for those who struggle with such sins?

6.      I read some this week about the influenza outbreak of 1918-1919. The world wide death toll was somewhere between 20 million and 40 million—more than died in the Great War. There were reports of people dying within an hour of showing symptoms. If it possible that it was God’s judgment on us?

 

Compassion! Read 2 Samuel 24: 16-17

 

As the angel delivering the pestilence approached Jerusalem, God mercifully stopped the angel from proceeding.

1.      What attributes of God are evident in these verse?

2.      What is the importance of the threshing floor of Araunah? (This is the site were Abraham was prepared to offered Isaac as a sacrifice to God. It is the site where Solomon would build the great Temple to God! Perhaps part of the results God was orchestrating was the purchase of the site for the future Temple.)

3.       How do these verses show how David showed the qualities of a good king? (David’s heart was breaking because his people were suffering because of his sin. It is important for leaders to remember the people they lead must live with the consequences of their decisions!)

4.      How is experiencing compassion humbling?

5.      How do God’s holiness and compassion work together in this passage?

6.      What are some ways people respond to God’s compassion? (Hopefully with humility and worship. But there are always those who want to take advantage of God’s compassion.)

7.      How does humility give us the courage to change our behavior? (One aspect of humility is yielding our heart and obedience to God.)

8.      What makes a person too stubborn to heed discipline?

 

Contrition! Read 2 Samuel 24:18-25

The word “contrition” comes from an old French word meaning “to grind down,” but today it means “sincere remorse.”

1.      How does the original meaning relate to today’s meaning? (When we feel remorse, we feel like the lowest of the low or that we have been “ground down.”)

2.      How did David show contrition in these verses?

3.      How did Gad and Araunah contribute to David’s contrition?

4.      Why didn’t David take Araunah’s offer of free land and sacrificial animals?

5.      In what ways can we offer a sacrifice to God that cost us nothing? (“Well, this is something I don’t need so I’ll just give it to the church!” “I’ll just prepare Saturday night, I already know that passage of Scripture well enough.”)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

Spend some time this week asking God to reveal any sins you have failed to confess to Him or ignored. Thank Him for providing forgiveness through His Son.

List some ways God has demonstrated His compassion to you. Reflect how these acts of compassion impact your life.

1.      What changes in your life need to be made in light of receiving God’s compassion?

2.      How can we encourage each other to give our best to God at all times?

There is a song that puts the words of David here to music.

I Will Not Offer Anything That Cost Me Nothing!

I cannot come before my righteous holy Lord

And offer to Him worldly things I do not need

And hope He’s pleased.

For He wants me to give a heart that’s truly His,

An offering of highest price, a servant who the Lord can use.

I will not offer anything that cost me nothing

I’ll place before Him nothing less than my very best.

If I am called to sacrifice, it will be worthy of my Christ,

I will not offer anything that cost me nothing!

To serve Him is my goal, how could I withhold?

Whatever’s mine, He’s given me. It’s not my own, it’s His alone.

Whatever He requires, that is my desire.

Whatever He may need from me, I’ll pay the cost, gain or loss.

 

 

—Pray this will truly be our desire!—

 

Thankful - 2 Samuel 22:1-51

Write the word “THANKFUL” vertically down the left side of your board or a large sheet of paper. Ask the class the following:

1.      What words can you think of, starting with each letter here, that shows how thankfulness can change a life? (Tactful, Helpful, Agreeable, Nicer, Kneel in prayer, Forgiving, Understanding, Loving.)

2.      How will being thankful to God affect our relationship with Him?

3.      How would you describe a person without an attitude of thankfulness toward God? (Prideful, haughty, self-centered.)

God is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving for how He blesses us. In today’s study, we will see how David expressed his thankfulness to God.

 

Today’s text seems to have come from David early in his kingship. God had provided for him and protected him from a wide variety of dangers that could have easily taken David’s life. Especially early in David’s reign he seemed more in tune with God and continually gave God the praise for all of his successes. 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18 are very similar. We will look at just a few verses in our focal study today.

 

Holy! Read 2 Samuel 22:26-29

 

1.      What three virtues are mentioned here? (Faithfulness. Blameless. Pure.)

2.      How does God respond to human virtues? (Aren’t we drawing on God for strength to live with these virtues? Didn’t God demonstrate them to us before we lived them out in our lives?)

3.      What vices are listed here? (Crooked. Proud.)

4.      How does God respond to each of these vices here?

Much of God’s matching is due to our openness to Him. God does not force His goodness on us. He waits for us to welcome it!

5.      How does the way we live impact how God responds to us?

6.      What does God’s response reveal about God’s desire for His people?

7.      Look at verse 28. When have you seen this truth lived out today?

8.      Read verse 29. How can life be like finding yourself in a room with no light whatsoever?

9.      Is God more like a small flashlight or a large flood light?

10.  How is God like this big flood light in our lives?

11.  What darkness do you think David needed illumined?

12.  How did David use his “lamp”? (To show him where and how to get to where God wanted him to go.)

We are surrounded by darkness today, it is everywhere we look; drug abuse, sexual immorality, lack of civility, violence, terrorism, etc.)

13.  What is the “lamp” we should use to illumine the path for us? (Psalm 119:105. “Thy Word …”)

Notice that God doesn’t promise we will never have difficulties but that He will be with us through it all.

 

Shield! Read 2 Samuel 22:30-36

 

1.      What does David say he can do when God is with him? (Attack a barrier, leap over a wall, feet like the deer, secure on the heights.)

2.      What images of strength and protection can you find in these verses? (Shield, rock, refuge.)

3.      What does God do for David? (Makes way perfect, trains for war, bend bronze bow, give him salvation, exalts him.)

4.      Does this mean that David had some kind of superhuman powers? (Certainly not. He did, however, have whatever ability he needed to accomplish the task that was before him.)

5.      Why did God do all of these things for David? (David’s desire was to follow the will of God for his life. Although at times it was difficult God was with him and sustained him, even in battle.)

6.      To whom did David give credit for his successes?

7.      David described his salvation in terms of a shield. What other metaphors might be used to describe God’s salvation? (God is my firewall; God is my GPS.)

David expressed his reliance upon God, knowing that all David had accomplished was a result of God working through him. Salvation comes from God and God alone!

 

Eternal! Read 2 Samuel 22:50-51

 

1.      What does it mean to live a life that praises God? (Praising God is more than words and songs. It is a life lived in willing obedience to Him!)

2.      How does knowing the lengths God would go to for you affect your motivation and ability to praise Him?

We honor God when we love others and express our thankfulness to Him for all He has given us. If our attitude is one of humble thankfulness others will see it as we live out our lives!

3.      In what sense are we descendants of David? (We have placed our faith and trust in God also.)

Praise God, He shows His loyalty to us forever!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

·         We can trust God to be true to His holy character!

In what ways has God been faithful to you and how can you communicate God’s faithfulness to those around you?

·         Salvation comes from God and God alone!

How challenging is it in our world today to communicate the truth that salvation comes from God and Him alone?

·         Believers should offer praise to God for His salvation provided through His Son, Jesus!

Are we living our life so as to be an example to those around us of God’s saving grace?

 

Close with prayer, thanking God for His love and provision.

 

Resolved - 2 Samuel 21:1-14

1.      How many natural disasters can you list in one minute? Write them on your book or note pad. Ready? Go! (Share with the class as a whole after one minute.)

2.      Why do natural disasters occur? (Most natural disasters occur simply because we live in a fallen world. Generally speaking, they impact all people to some degree.)

3.      How does God provide during such disasters and how does God use them to bring about His will? (God is present with His people in the midst of these disasters. He uses them in a great variety of ways to touch people’s hearts and draw them to Him.)

God’s purpose is always to lead His people back to Him and to seek His favor.

4.      How can disasters we’ve seen today lead people back to God? (Sometimes when God is all we have left we realize God is all we ever really needed in the first place.)

Anytime we, as God’s people, encounter a difficult time in our life, whether it is widespread or only affecting me, we should seek God. He will provide direction and strength when we face the storms of life.

In today’s study, we will see how “God provides direction and strength when His people face trying times.”

 

In Joshua 9:1-27 a people group living in the Promised Land deceived Joshua and all of Israel into making a treaty with them. A key verse in this passage is verses 14 and 15, “Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions, but did not seek the Lord’s counsel. So Joshua established peace with them and made a treaty to let them live and the leaders of the community swore an oath to them.”

By the time Joshua discovered they had been deceived it was too late. But the Gibeonites did become servants to Israel. Some 400 years later while Saul was king of Israel, he decided to eradicate them. He was not totally successful but God brought judgment on Israel for not honoring the treaty Joshua had made with them.

 

The Cause! Read 2 Samuel 21:1-3

 

A famine that last one or two years may just be the cycle of nature but one that lasted three years was seen as God’s actions. You may recall Elijah and the three and half year drought God brought on Israel because of the sin of Jezebel.

 

1.      Why did Saul decide to carry out this annihilation of the Gibeonites? (His “zeal for Israel and Judah”.)

2.      Is zeal a good or bad characteristic to have? (Zeal is good if it isn’t misplaced zeal. Zeal for God and following His will is always good, but when we go off on our own without checking with God we almost always find ourselves in trouble.)

3.      How does a person know if a natural disaster is an act of God’s direct judgment or simply the result of living in a fallen world?

4.      What is the difference between a confrontation that leads to condemnation and a confrontation that leads to redemption? (The attitude of the one being confronted.)

5.      What’s good about going directly to the person who has been wronged to work toward reconciliation? (Honestly seeking a way to make things right can bring good to both the asker and the answerer. But the solutions can be complicated.)

It is important for us to remember that God defines what is right. Otherwise the strongest or most powerful will prevail, whether right or wrong.

6.      What can we learn from David’s approach to this problem?

David wanted to stop the famine. He also could have cared about mistreatment. We should continually ask God how our actions can make situations right for all concerned!

7.      Are you willing to do the right thing regardless of the cost?

 

The Request! Read 2 Samuel 21:4-6

 

1.       Was the request of the Gibeonites appropriate?

2.        Why was it important to honor this 400 year old covenant?

3.       Why was it still valid? (It wasn’t between two individuals; it was between the Gibeonites and the Israelites.)

4.       What factors should be considered when looking for a way to right a social wrong?

5.       What role should past promises play in those considerations? (What about the race issue our mistreatment of Native Americans in the past in our nation?)

6.       What makes a person act justly even when everyone around refuses to do so? Consider Vice versa?

 

Summarize verses 7-9.

 

The Resolution! Read 2 Samuel 21:10-14

1.       What did Rizpah do? Why? (According to the customs of that day she could not take the bodies. Part of the disgrace of hanging was that the bodies would not be given an honorable burial.)

2.       How long was she out there? (After approximately six months the Gibeonites evidently gave permission for the bodies to be taken and buried.)

3.       What did David do? Why?

4.       What obstacles did Rizpah have to overcome in the vigil she performed for her sons’ remains?

5.       What did you think she hoped to achieve through this vigil?

6.       When David learned about Rizpah’s vigil what did he do?

7.        Why did David help both sides: Saul’s family and the Gibeonite families?

8.       What advice would you give for helping two people who had been enemies for any reason? (Setting aside grievances is often necessary to allow room for respect and healing. If hatred is allowed to continue it festers in the person and destroys them, not the one they hated!)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.       How does God want you to right a wrong?

2.      How does God want you to prevent a wrong?

Our actions affect others, not just for the present but for generations to come.

Most of us Christians are good at giving right answers. When it comes to actually living according to God’s guidance, we’re not as consistent.

3.      How can we make our lives as true as our words?

Read Psalm 37:28

4.      What spiritual disciplines can you practice to better understand God’s justice?

5.      How will you practice that discipline over the next week/month?

 

Prayer: Thank God for His provision during trying times and that we will always trust God in difficult situations.

 

Averted - 2 Samuel 20:1-21

As I look around the room I see people with a variety of talents, skills and spiritual gifts. (Name a few.) God gives skills, talents and spiritual gifts to each of us. God uses the skills of people to accomplish His purposes.

1.      What is the purpose of the talents and skills we possess?

2.      Is the purpose different for everyone or the same? (God’s general purpose is the same—to bring glory to God and accomplish His will on earth. God’s specific purpose for each of us is carried out in different ways depending on the specific talent, skill or spiritual gift.)

 

Last week we saw how David reclaimed the throne and headed back to Jerusalem. Second Samuel 19 ended with anger and recrimination between the tribe of Judah and the ten northern tribes. There was a perception that David showed favoritism toward his own tribe, Judah, even though they were the last tribe to recognize David as king again. There was great discord between the tribes.

3.      What does maintaining a strong tribal identity lead to without a strong, unifying leader? (Chaos and division.)

In today’s study, a story about the rebellious Sheba, we will see how God uses people’s skills to accomplish His purposes. Listen specifically for the skills used by David, Joab, and the woman of Abel to resolve the situation.

Read 2 Samuel 19:43

Let’s see what happens in the midst of this chaos!

 

Division! Read 2 Samuel 20:1-2

 

1.      What words and actions reveal Sheba’s character? (He was Benjaminite, was known for wickedness.)

2.      People can use their skills for good or for evil. What skills did Sheba use and for what end? (He took advantage of the conflict and further divided the 10 northern tribes, named Israel, from the tribe of Judah.)

3.      What could have happened if he had used his skills for good? (He could have helped to unite all 12 tribes—the tribe not counted for is Levi—the priests.)

4.      How did sin play a role in Sheba’s actions? (Sheba became the voice of those who questioned the good work of God through His anointed one.)

5.      How did the past get in the way of the future?

6.      How can a person make sure that when a leader is questioned the concerns are legitimate and not based on a past bias?

Consider these statements: “We’ve never done it that way before.” “The way we used to do it worked so why should we change?”

7.      How can these statements lead to questioning God’s provision?

8.      How can they be a stumbling block to the future?

9.      How can the church address the issue of change in a positive fashion?

10.  How do we see some of these issues coming to the surface in our nation? (The race issue especially!)

11.  Why do people take advantage of conflict? (It is wise to consider the motives behind others’ actions. Sometimes we must question provisions and leaders. More often we must show trust in provisions and leaders.)

 

Read 2 Samuel 20:4-13 (Discuss briefly. I personally believe Joab had the best interest of the unified nation in his heart!)

 

Civil War! Read 2 Samuel 20:14-16

 

Although the passage does not expressly say this it seems the further Sheba went north the more support he lost. The city he finally stopped in was on the northern border of Israel.

1.      Why does a position or office of leadership not always guarantee a high degree of influence?

2.      Why does the situation seem dire for Abel? (A city under siege that has no force outside the walls to attack the enemy will be cut off from their water supply and food. They will slowly die or surrender to their enemy.)

3.      Why are we surprised that a woman is the spokesperson for the city? (We assume women had very little influence in ancient Israel but that is not the case in several situations.)

4.      How does a crisis bring out the best and worst advice?

5.      How can you tell the difference?

 

Wisdom Conquers! Read 2 Samuel 20:17-21

 

1.      Why would a “peaceful and faithful” person agree to throw the head of Sheba over the wall?

2.      What can we appreciate about the ways this woman used wisdom? (She halted violence, asked questions, requested that Joab listen to her, revealed her character, asked Joab about his intentions, listened to the problem, and accepted a proposed solution.)

When compromising take care not to compromise core values and beliefs.

3.      What skills are necessary to avert revolt in churches or other groups of believers? (Godly people who are willing to compromise on issues that are not biblical principles. We must stand firm on the Word of God but be willing to compromise on lesser issues to keep unity.)

4.      In an age of moral confusion and political polarization, why is it important to show wisdom, restraint, and the ability to compromise in the face of a crisis?

5.      How strong is the temptation to compromise on core principles at such a time? (Not much at all—IF you have already made the decision not to compromise your core principles before a crisis arises! The decision is already made!!)

6.      Is there a relationship between political polarization and a widespread decline in moral integrity?

7.      What about the racial issues our churches and nation faces?

 

Summarize and Challenge:

 

We are each gifted in different ways. Every person has gifts and abilities given to them by God. These gifts are typically given in seed form and we have to develop them through experience. However, the pressing question is not how we can recognize our capabilities, although that is an important issue. The greater question is, “To what end?” What is the ultimate purpose of our abilities?” PSG pg 91

 

God uses the skills of people to accomplish His purposes. We see Joab using his leadership and warrior skills. We see this woman using her leadership skills and negotiating skills.

 

1.      What are some potential problems in a family?

2.      What are some potential problems in a church?

3.      What are some potential problems in a community?

4.      How can I play an active part in being part of the solution and not the problem?

 

Pray, asking God to help us seek peace and godly compromise as needed in the conflicts we encounter daily.

 

Restored - 2 Samuel 19:1-15

   Last Sunday our lesson was from 2 Samuel 15 and we saw that another of David’s sons, Absalom, was the featured character. We saw Absalom orchestrate a pronouncement of himself as king. In so doing, he shows just how cunning, crafty and insubordinate he really was. When word of this attempted coup reached David, he and his loyal followers fled Jerusalem. David was forced to demonstrate trust in God as opposed to trusting in items, such as the ark, to worship God.

 

   Today’s lesson is “Restored” in 2 Samuel 19 and focuses on how David’s people lost trust in him and how he regained it. As we saw last week, Absalom’s insurrection against his dad, David, forced the king to flee from Jerusalem with his household and a contingent of loyal mercenary soldiers. 2 Samuel 18 is skipped in our lesson plans but it sets the scene for today’s lesson.

 

Read 2 Samuel 19:1-4 “Mourning”

   Why would David have been sad to lose a son who had caused so much pain and misery to the family?

   Who was Joab?

   Why did David’s troops have the right to celebrate and be joyful? They had fought bravely and won a decisive victory for their king. They had crushed the coup and killed the traitor, Absalom.

   Why might the soldiers have become confused? As we said, they had just won a decisive victory, killed the traitor and leader of the coup, all for their king. Their king was openly mourning as described in 2 Samuel 18:33 and essentially drained any pride of victory and enthusiasm from the troops.

   How did David’s troops respond to their king’s sadness?

   What are leader’s responsibilities to their people during complicated times? Leaders must wisely manage their own emotions as well as those of their people.

 

Read 2 Samuel 19:5-8 “Confrontation”

   What did Joab fear about David’s public mourning? He probably recognized that the people sympathized with David, but he knew the king’s continued mourning threatened to cause permanent damage to David’s rule.

   What two strong points did Joab make in verse 5?

   What was the significance of this battle that David was failing to recognize?

   What did Joab accuse David of doing? He accused David of loving Absalom more than any other family member. Joab let David know that it seemed as though David would have gladly sacrificed everyone else to keep Absalom alive.

   Not sure if Joab was aware, but what greater threat posed by Absalom’s rebellion did his indictment of David point to?

   Think about this criticism coming from a rough, battle hardened general. Why is it difficult for us to hear criticism from others, even when done in love and wisdom? We must learn to recognize wise counsel. The Holy Spirit will show us how to handle this criticism if we allow it to. I cannot help but wonder if our leaders today can handle this type of constructive criticism.

   What did the king do? He got up and went to the city gate to see the troops and people but I expect he had to swallow some pride first.

   Was this the first time someone confronted David about his actions? If time permits you might consider the Bible Skill on page 85 of the quarterly.

 

Read 2 Samuel 19:9-15 “Restoration”

   Why was there disunity among the people and arguing in the nation about what should be done? Absalom had been chosen king which means David was no longer king. Absalom was a dead traitor. If the people wanted David to be king again, the necessary steps would have to be taken. Wondering how vengeful David would be brought anxiety to many of the people. Others were still lamenting the loss of their own loved ones at the hands of David’s soldiers. Actually David was still in exile from his capitol city.

   How did David go about resolving the varying emotions among the people? He sent envoys to persuade the elders of Judah that all of the other Israelite tribes already had confirmed their loyalty to David. They were to appeal to the elders’ tribal pride and blood relationship to David. Next he replaced Joab with Amasa, a former commander in Absalom’s army during the coup attempt. Basically, as verse 14 says, “he won over all the men of Juda, and they unanimously sent word to the king: “Come back, you and all your servants.” Then David returned to Jerusalem.

 

   We can manage emotions in selfish ways or in ways that truly solve the problems behind the emotions. Look at the four actions David recorded in Psalm 37:3 to take when our emotions are strong. “Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.”

      

Summary: What actions will help us honor God while resolving problems?

·         Sometimes the discussions that happen before or after the meeting, at work or church, are as destructive as the talk within a solution meeting.

·         We must choose never to gossip or criticize on the side.

·         We must take our concerns directly to those who can solve the problem and be part of the solutions.

·         Together we are stronger. God created us to live in community and to solve problems that way.

 

Close in prayer asking God to help us establish trusting relationships with other Christians and to repair relationships that have been damaged by lack of trust.

Deposed - 2 Samuel 15:1-30

1.      Where do you find it most difficult to wait your turn? (Record answers on the board.)

2.      Why are we so impatient?

3.      When can impatience be dangerous?

4.      Think about a time when your impatience and/or ambition overrode good sense. What were the consequences? (Lead your class to suggest situations where impatience has widespread consequences.)

5.      Speaking of ambition, when is it good and true? (Beyond business or politics, we could include reaching people for Jesus, being good parents, becoming the best you can be in your field, championing your child’s accomplishments, exceeding today what you contributed yesterday, setting wise goals, making the most of your time, etc.)

6.      When is ambition selfish and hurtful? (When it is all about you and getting more or getting that promotion at all cost! Motive is the difference between good and bad ambition.)

7.      What are the dangers of failing to wait and taking on a task before we are really ready?

 

Today, we will discover how Absalom’s impatience and selfish ambition created problems for David, and the nation of Israel.

Read 2 Samuel 15:1-9.

1.      How did Absalom wrestle control away from David?

David had 19 sons who survived infancy and two that died in infancy. Absalom was third behind Amnon and Kileab. Amnon had been murdered, so there was only one other between Absalom and the throne. Patience was all Absalom needed to exercise!

2.      How was Absalom’s request to go to Hebron a cunning move on his part? (That was the capital initially and Absalom was born in Hebron. He had connections there.)

 

Entitlement! Read 2 Samuel 15:10-12

3.      What were Absalom’s actions here and how did they appear legitimate?

4.      How would you describe Absalom’s character?

5.      How were others unwittingly drawn into this conspiracy?

6.      Can you recall when you’ve been drawn into a situation which later proved different from what had been presented?

7.      What were the results?

8.      How can a person’s loyalty get in the way of the truth?

9.      What are the dangers of blind trust?

10.  How can we stop selfish ambition and self-inflation from growing in us?

11.  What questions could help? (How will this affect at least three people besides me and in what way? Where is the least little bit of selfishness in this action? How might I be justifying my self-interest with holy-sounding words? What fear am I easing? Is this truly what is best for all concerned?)

 

Consider these questions: Is it possible that David had been neglecting some of his duties as king? Had he secluded himself in the palace and was totally ignorant of what was happening?

Fright! Read 2 Samuel 15:13-16

 

1.      What was David afraid of here?

2.      Why were his servants so loyal? (Although David was a fearsome warrior he treated his subjects with generosity and dignity.)

3.      Was David’s response what you would expect of one described as a man “after God’s own heart”?

4.      What seemed to be David’s greatest concern in verse 14? (David seemed to be very concerned about the city of Jerusalem and the inhabitants.)

5.      What are some ways we can show loyalty to a friend encountering opposition?

6.      How does a person weigh the cost of being loyal against their own sense of security? (Are my actions demonstrating integrity and is it the moral action to take, regardless of the loss I might have to take?)

Flight! Read 2 Samuel 15:24-30

 

1.      Does it seem that David had any selfish ambition here? (Not to me. He did a prudent thing by asking the priest to keep him informed as to what was happening, but yielded himself to the will of God, whether it bring life or death!)

2.      Why do you think David sent the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem? (It wasn’t David’s ark; it represented God’s presence among His people, Israel!)

3.      What did David’s returning the ark to Jerusalem say about David’s relationship with God?

4.      How was this decision practical?

5.      How do you respond to the statement, “Faith and grief are not mutually exclusive”? (There are numerous places in the Bible where people were grieving deeply and yet had strong faith.)

6.      How did David show both faith and grief?

7.      Read Psalm 3. How would you describe the interaction of faith and grief in this Psalm?

8.      How can we grieve betrayal in life and still maintain trust in God?

9.      Where is the balance between “common sense” and faith? (We must admit that sometimes they seem to be in opposition. We must bathe our decisions in prayer seeking God’s guidance and have the courage to follow Him!)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

In the PSG Brett Selby makes the following statement on page 74: “Unfortunately the work of evil sometimes intimidates the people of God. The diversion of their focus from the power of God to the schemes of man brings fearfulness and anxiety.”

1.      How is this truth demonstrated in today’s study?

·         Selfish ambition leads to self-inflation of our abilities and entitlements.

·         Opposition becomes an opportunity for true friends to demonstrate their loyalty.

·         Believers must weigh the risks in the face of threats, trusting God for deliverance.

2.      Evaluate for a moment your life goals. What adjustments do you need to make to ensure all your goals are God-honoring?

3.      Can you name any sin that does not have its root in selfishness? (When we’re on the throne, we create destruction—no matter how we try to excuse it. When we move off the throne to truly show care for others, we give life—and find it.)

We experience the most fulfilling life when we spend our life for God and others! In giving we receive!

 

Close in prayer, asking God to help all of us to remain focused on God’s will and not be distracted by the devil’s schemes. Thank God for His protection when we’re surrounded and besieged by dangerous and evil situations.

 

David’s Sons

 

1.      Amnon

2.      Kileab

3.      Absalom

4.      Adonijah

5.      Shephatiah

6.      Ithream

7.      Shimea

8.      Shobab

9.      Nathan

10.  Solomon

11.  Ibhar

12.  Elishua

13.  Elpelet

14.  Nogah

15.  Nepheg

16.  Japhia

17.   Elishama

18.  Elada

19.  Eliphelet   Plus two unnamed who died in infancy.

 

Grieved - 2 Samuel 13:1-39

Use the word “FAMILY” as an acrostic. Have members identify words or phrases starting with each letter that describes God’s ideal for the family. (Examples: F—fidelity, faithfulness, forgiveness;               A—acceptance, assurance; M—motivating, molding, mercy; I—inspiring, integrity, in harmony; L—love, loyalty, lasting; Y—you before me, young and old cared for.)

(Draw a jagged line across the entire FAMILY acrostic as you state. God established the family for loving relationships; sin destroys relationships and families. That truth is sadly evident in David’s life!

1.      How much influence does family have on our spiritual lives?

2.      How can one’s spiritual life impact his or her family? (Just because the parents are strong Christians who are very involved in church and makes sure their children are exposed to church activities all the way through high school doesn’t mean the children will turn out to be strong Christians! Each individual must make their own choice. But at least the children were exposed to God’s Word and Christian principles!)

God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. God established the family for loving relationships; sin destroys them. Another way to say it is: Sin is the “Round Up” that keeps loving relationships in a family from blooming!

(Summarize 2 Samuel 13:1-14.)

 

Shattered! Read 2 Samuel 13:15-20

 

1.      Who in this saga was affected by the sins of David and Amnon? (The whole family! Sin is like a cancer eating away until it destroys all who are influenced by it.)

2.      How would you describe Amnon’s response after he took what he wanted? (What Amnon actually felt was lust not love and he nursed it until it became an act of sin instead of just thoughts.)

Sin always leads to grief because it fails to satisfy and deliver on the promises it makes! This may be the most graphic example!

3.      After the rape, which was traumatic and sinful enough, how did Amnon shatter Tamar even further?

Even though David probably would not have agreed for Amnon to marry his half sister, he could have at least sought to do so. His dismissal of Tamar meant her unmarried status would be permanent. How he referred to Tamar indicated his mockery and disrespect, meaning Amnon saw her as an object. He shattered Tamar’s purity, sense of safety, and dreams of having her own family!

Nothing shatters a person’s sense of identity and self-worth like that of being treated like an object. In loving relationships, people are treated as created in God’s image, and as persons, not things.

4.      How would you describe Tamar’s response? (The typical responses of assault victims are feelings of desolation, anger, fear and anxiety, shame, guilt, and isolation.)

5.      How might Absalom’s response have shattered Tamar as well?

6.      What actions could be taken to assist victims of abuse or other crimes to begin the recovery process? (Being there; listening; assuring them of your love, support, and unconditional acceptance; assuring them they are not to blame and have great worth; offering them the hope of restoration in Jesus; and offering practical help—making their homes more secure or going places with them, especially at night.)

7.      How do some excuse living together without being married? They may say: “A piece of paper can’t make a relationship.” Marriage is the foundation, but love must be built upon that foundation. We must marry people who’ve shown they will build love. To simply live together is saying “when I get tired of this relationship I’ll just move on.”)

 

Tamar wasn’t the only one shattered by Amnon’s sin; its devastating effects were far-reaching!

(Summarize 2 Samuel 13:21-30. Absalom kills Amnon.)

Devastated! Read 2 Samuel 13:31-36

 

1.      What words of Nathan do you think came flooding back into David’s mind as he heard this news?

2.      Jonadab, the cousin who helped Amnon plot the rape of Tamar, resurfaced. What did he do this time?

3.      Why did Jonadab give each report to the king? (People are motivated by a variety of reasons other than obedience to God.)

Amnon fed his lust, which led to his sin of rape. Absalom waited two long years before he acted on behalf of his sister. Absalom’s behavior may not have been rooted in revenge as much as wanting to help his sister.

4.      How did Absalom feeding his revenge lead to murder?

5.      What makes revenge such a powerful emotion?

6.      Why do you suppose the Bible listed many grieving over Amnon’s death but records little agony over the rape of Tamar?

7.      What situations have you witnessed in which a response to a sinful act brought greater evil and sin?

 

Separated! Read 2 Samuel 13:37-39

 

1.      David lost two sons: Amnon who died and Absalom who fled. What might have caused David to reach out to Absalom? (David had finally accepted the fact that Amnon was dead and it was time to move on. He also mourned for Absalom.)

2.      Does sin always lead to separation and broken relationships?

3.      What practical actions stop the cycle of revenge? (Revenge can lead to repeated sin, greater sin, and persistent conflict!)

4.      How would you have advised David to act amidst his family members’ cruelties? (Managing misbehavior of adult family members is tricky. Such situations are wrought with emotions and accusations.)

David most likely felt a certain amount of guilt for what was happening in his family. As time passed it seemed David’s influence in the kingdom and his family grew weaker! David’s seemingly loss of influence may be because knowledge of his own sin became common knowledge and people lost respect for him.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Lust, plotting rape, the act of rape, and refusing to punish rape are serous sins. Left untreated sin is like a cancer eating away, coming back in a different form but still just as devastating!

1.      How can believers effectively address the issue of sin? (As believers we have a responsibility to restore people who have been hurt by sin and to protect them from further wrong.)

2.      In families, what role should parents take when sin threatens family relationships? (Bathe the situation in prayer. In love, confront the issue with the family members involved.)

When family relationships are strained, first ask yourself how you have acted selfishly. Develop patterns of showing true interest, accountability, and forgiveness!

3.      How can we be a positive influence for change regarding the issue of sexual violence in our world?

 

Pray, asking God to give us peace and healing in our broken relationships!

 

Accountable - 2 Samuel 12:1-14

1.      Can you think of a time when you were a child and you were caught doing something wrong?

2.      How did you respond?

3.      What systems do we have in the workplace to hold us accountable for our time and resources? (Check in with time clocks. Set work hours and we are held accountable by our supervisor.)

4.      Can you have freedom without accountability? (Freedom can’t be separated from accountability. We may be free to do as we desire but we are not free from the consequences of our behavior!)

5.      What are the pros and cons to being held accountable for our actions?

6.      Should you dread or welcome an audit in your workplace?

Have you heard the old adage “An idle mind is the Devil’s workshop”? Today’s study is a great example of that old saying.

2 Samuel 8 is a chapter that gives a summary of the people group God used David to defeat during his reign as King of Israel. The events in some of the following chapters actually took place during that time period. Today’s study is one of those events that the writer tells us about that occurred during the events of that chapter. 2 Samuel 11 is the narrated event that led to the confrontation we find in chapter 12.

Read 2 Samuel 11:1

7.      What does this one verse tell us about David in this incident? (David neglected his responsibility of being out in the battle with his men!)

Neglecting our duty is many times the first step to disobedience.

(Tell the story from here about David’s sin with Bathsheba, her subsequent pregnancy and finally the murder of Uriah!)

Nathan the prophet, whom God used to deliver His gracious promise to David, was now sent to deliver a far different message. God was about to call David to account for his sins.

8.      If David was called a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22), then how can he have also created such deep pain through certain choices? (None of us are immune to sin!)

 

Nathan Confronts David! 2 Samuel 12:1-4

 

1.      Why would King David not think it odd that Nathan was telling him about such a great miscarriage of justice? (As King he was the “Supreme Court” for Israel.)

2.      If we take this story Nathan told at face value, what kind of emotions does it stir up in you?

3.      Why do we resist confrontation—anyone telling us that we’ve done wrongly or failed to do rightly? (People compliment us when they confront us. They show confidence that we can repent and do rightly, and they believe we have a future rather than just a past.)

Helpful confrontation might ask questions rather than make declarations. It listens. It truly loves rather than condescends.

4.      How did Nathan manage to confront David with his sin without him realizing it at this point in these verses?

5.      How do you think David had justified his own actions in his heart? (Though the situation may be complicated, we have a choice and “a way out” of sin—1 Cor. 10:13. See Num. 32:23)

6.      How might God confront a person today about his or her sin?

7.      Should we expect to be confronted in some way about our sin?

 

David Judges! Read 2 Samuel 12:5-6

 

Notice David did not pass the death penalty, he simply said, “This man deserves to die.” But he did give the punishment stated in the law-four lambs for that one must be paid!

David seems to be blind to his own sin at this point.

1.      Why is it so easy to see sin in others rather than ourselves?

2.      Who was David judging when he judged the rich man?

3.      What does David’s response to Nathan’s story reveal about himself?

4.      What does a person’s response to sin reveal about that person?

5.      Who do think was aware of David’s sins in 2 Samuel 11? (Everyone! People are not as ignorant about what is going on in our lives as we may think they are. In David’s case everyone in his household had to know or at least suspect something wasn’t just right. Joab had to know!)

6.      What is God’s role in justice? Our role? Society’s role? (Justice often comes through natural consequences. God warns us to avoid certain actions because of what happens when anyone does them. Some human pictures of justice match the Bible and some do not. But it is not our job to pass judgment on what God does or doesn’t do in this area.)

 

God Punishes! Read 2 Samuel 12:7-12

 

David may have thought he’s covered his sins well and gotten away with it. But Nathan made it clear his sin was not secret and carried consequences.

1.      What had God done for David?

2.      What was God willing to do for David?

Ultimately all sin is ingratitude toward the goodness of God!

Notice how God detailed David’s transgressions through Nathan. Not only had his sin not gone unnoticed to the people it had not gone unnoticed to God!

3.      Are sins ever really secret?

4.      To what examples can you point in support of your answer? (Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. Judah unknowingly slept with his former daughter-in-law, Tamar after her two husbands died and he had not planned to send another son to be her husband.)

5.      Is there a sin that hurts nobody? (Sin is never without ramifications. It may seem that no one knows but you know and God knows. Even if no one else knows, your sin comes between you and God!)

Nathan revealed that David was the rich man in the parable, having taken Bathsheba from Uriah and murdering Uriah.

6.       How does misbehaving show how we currently feel about God?

7.      How do the misdeeds of leaders affect those who follow them? (Leaders are to set the moral example for those who follow them. Nathan explained that the Lord would bring public disaster on David’s household.)

8.      Are sins ever really secret? (Sin is never secret or without ramifications!

9.      To what examples can you point in support of your answer?

 

David Responds!

 

1.      If you were reading this account for the first time, how would you expect David to respond?

Unlike many people, David responded to the confrontation of his sin with immediate and complete repentance rather than denials or excuses.

2.      Was God’s forgiveness immediate and complete? (Yes—BUT the consequences can be long lasting and very painful!

 

Read 2 Samuel 12:13-14

 

3.      What is the nature of repentance? (Changed behavior and taking responsibility are two indications of repentance.)

4.      How can we tell if repentance has really happened in someone’s heart?

David hurt many people with long-term consequences. He hurt God too.

Read Psalm 51

5.      What do we learn about repentance from Psalm 51? (Repentance looks at one’s self honestly and agrees with God about the gravity of sin; it acknowledges God is fully just and blameless in His judgment of sin; and recognizes that sin is great, but God’s grace is greater and so asks for forgiveness and restoration.)

Psalm 51:10 “God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Note that David didn’t pray for the consequences of his sin to be reversed, but for God’s grace to restore and transform him!

6.      In what ways could we draw on God’s grace while enduring the current consequences of sinful behavior?

7.      How can we tell if repentance has happened in ourselves?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      How possible is it to stop our foolishness before we do it? (When God finished creating mankind He said, “It is very good!” That includes all of our desires, but He also provided godly ways to satisfy all of our desires. When we try to satisfy them any other way we sin.)

2.      Do we need someone to point out our sins or can we listen to God on our own?  (Most of us need an accountability partner. Sometimes that might be our spouse to help us.)

3.      Do you believe that Christians should expect to be confronted about their sins?

4.      Do we recognize sin and understand that judgment accompanies it?

5.      Do we really believe that sin carries consequences and that it is never secret or without ramifications?

 

The wonderful news is this: when we sin if we confess our sin God is faithful and will forgive our sin and restore a right relationship between us and God! 

Read 1 John 1:9

 

Pray.

Valued - 2 Samuel 9:1-13

1.      Can you recall a time when you were extended an unexpected kindness?

2.      How did it make you feel? (Valued, loved, important to that person, humbled, I had dignity, etc.)

3.      What effect did it have on you past the immediate impact?

God made a promise to David in 2 Samuel 7 that we studied last week. Chapter 8 tells us how David conquered the Philistines, the Moabites, the Syrians of Zobah and Damascus, the Edomites, and the Ammonites. The empire of David and Solomon would never be equaled in Israel’s history! This was the fulfillment of God’s promise in Exodus 23:31—“I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates River. For I will place the inhabitants of the land under your control, and you will drive them out ahead of you.”

David recognized all his wealth and power resulted from God’s kindness to him. He honored God by extending that kindness to others and fulfilling promises he made to Jonathan!

            Our focal passage today emphasizes that God expects and empowers us to honor Him by making a difference in others’ lives by extending kindness to them!

 

Searched! Read 2 Samuel 9:1-5

 

It was rare for ancient kings to show kindness to a former king’s family, usually kings killed any perceived rival to their throne.

1.      Why did David want to show kindness to King Saul’s and Jonathan’s descendants? (David had made a promise to Jonathan that he would show kindness to his family.)

2.      What do you think Ziba was thinking when he was summoned to the king’s house? (King Herod told the Wise Men to come tell him where Jesus was so he could come worship him also. Falsehoods were rampant to protect one’s own interest!)

Lo-debar was on the east side of the Jordan River and was a Gentile city controlled by David.

3.      What are some pros and cons of the pop-culture mandate to practice “random acts of kindness”? (Motivation is the key. To show the kindness of God to others; to receive recognition )

Spontaneous acts of kindness are great but must not take the place of planned acts of kindness. We are not to wait for opportunities to be kind to drop in our laps, but put forth effort to find those who need kindness.

4.      Why was Mephibosheth in need of kindness? (Most likely he was living in fear of what David would do if he was found. He had no property and no obvious means of income, although he did have a family. He was most likely keeping a low profile so as not to be found.)

Mephibosheth was an outcast in every since of the word. Physical disability was cause for great shame in that culture. Mephibosheth didn’t even have a house of his own but was cared for by Machir as he hid in Lo-debar.

5.      What roadblocks might a person need to overcome to keep a promise? (It takes effort. The receiving party may not be receptive.  Motives may be questioned.)

6.      How do the potential roadblocks add to the value of the promise? (It takes a real effort to overcome obstacles which makes the kindness shown more valuable.)

7.      When you face obstacles to showing others kindness do you give up too easily and say, “Well, maybe it wasn’t meant to be”?

At least 20 years have passed since David made his promise to Jonathan. Mephibosheth has a family of his own. It’s never too late to extend kindness!

8.      How can a person show kindness to others in a way that ensures the praise for that act is attributed to God? (Do everything you can to make it anonymous!)

Kindness is not a feeling but a fruit of God’s Spirit. Kindness takes deliberate decision and purposeful action.

 

Extended! Read 2 Samuel 9:6-8

 

1.      What emotions might Mephibosheth have felt as he approached David? (Fear, anxiety, etc.)

He expressed his dire situation: “take an interest in a dead dog.”

2.      What are some principles for extending kindness we might draw from David? (Treat people with dignity, call them by name, speak kind words, and show unconditional love.)

Notice David didn’t put any conditions on his kindness.

3.      What factors contribute to people becoming angry or defensive as a response to kindness? (They might respond—“What makes you think I need your help?” Or “You think you’re better than me, don’t you!”)

4.      What was David’s two-fold restoration of Mephibosheth?

5.      What was significant about each? (By giving him the property that had belonged to Saul he was giving him a means of income to support his family. By telling him he would eat at the king’s table David was saying “You are like a son to me.”)

6.      How was the kindness of David like the kindness that God shows us?

7.      Notice how Mephibosheth responded! How does his response mirror the way we should respond to God? (Thankful and obedient as a servant to God.)

David didn’t just do a one-time nice thing for Mephibosheth to appease his conscience, but he also made plans to continue caring for him!

 

Planned! Read 2 Samuel 9:9-13

 

1.      Note Mephibosheth’s feet were not restored. What was restored? (Dignity, confidence, joy, a since of worth, etc.)

2.      What actions can we take today that would give another person dignity, confidence, and joy?

3.      How do the things David provided Mephibosheth compare to the things God provides us?

4.      What does God provide for His children?

5.      How can we celebrate God’s divine provisions? (Share them with others!)

Every person needs to contribute to the good of the community and be willing to accept help when they are in need!

 

 

Summary and Challenge!

1.      Some people say that their faith is a private matter. What do you think our focal passage today says about that?

2.      Why is faith an expression rather than something to have or to claim? (We show what we believe in our acts of kindness or lack of it. Read James 2:14-19.)

Read Psalm 40:10

3.      Am I following the example of the psalmist by spreading the good news about how God loves and redeems us?

 

Prayer.

Established - 2 Samuel 7:1-21

1.      We are going to start by thinking a little deeper today than we are accustomed to thinking. What would you like to accomplish in your lifetime?

2.      What would you like to be your lasting legacy?

3.      Do you agree or disagree with this statement on page 37 of your PSG and why? “We want to feel that our lives have made a difference.”

4.      What makes being remembered, in a positive way, by future generations so motivating?

5.      How can a person impact what future generations remember about him or her?

If we want to do something that will endure, we must join God in His work. When we join God in His work, then we find a lasting legacy marked for eternity.  If we have a positive impact on someone’s life and they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior we have a legacy that will last through eternity!

Today we will explore how to leave a lasting legacy from a pivotal event in David’s life.

 

Read 2 Samuel 7:1-7 to understand the context.

1.      When Nathan gave David the “red light” in this passage, whose opinion was he stating?

2.      How often do we go off “half cocked” with our own ideas without consulting God first?

 

Rest! Read 2 Samuel 7:8-11a

 

1.      Was what David initially wanted to do in his heart a bad desire? (No, it wasn’t. But it was not in God’s plan.)

2.      How many times is the word “I” used in these verses? (7)

3.      Who brought about all the wonderful things in Israel’s past and in David’s life? (Let there be no mistake, God has brought you to where you are!)

4.      What are some reasons God-centered lives leave lasting legacies?

Notice that David focused on what he wanted to do for God, while God focused on what He had done and would do for and through David.

While we should desire to live a life pleasing to God, there is nothing we can do to add to God’s glory, majesty or power! God needs nothing from us but He does desire a life of obedience!

5.      Read 2 Sam. 7:9. We’ve been challenged to commit this verse to memory. How can committing this verse to memory compel you to gratefully reflect on how God has worked in and through you?

6.      How can grateful God-centered reflection empower us to leave a lasting legacy?

7.      How has God gone ahead of you into a particular situation?

 

Rule! Read 2 Samuel 7:11b-17

 

1.      How did God promise to continue working for and through David? (David’s son, Solomon, will build the temple. Through David’s lineage the King of kings would come into the world. God would discipline his people ultimately by allowing Babylon to remove the last of David’s earthly descendants from the throne of Israel in 586 BC as discipline for disobedience.)

Many biblical promises had a literal, immediate fulfillment and will also have a spiritual, ultimate fulfillment.

From the time Joshua led Israel across the Jordan River there had been conflicts with the people who inhabited the land of Canaan. We don’t know exactly when this event occurred but it was somewhere in the middle of David’s 33 year reign, so it had been some 500 years since the days of Joshua.

2.      How would you describe the ultimate fulfillment of this verse?

3.      Look at verse 15. What else will endure forever?

4.      When is this verse most comforting to you?

5.      How should the affirmation of God’s covenant have impacted David’s life?

6.      How does God’s promise to David impact us today? (Hope eternal!)

7.      In one sense Jesus rules over the entire universe, but where does He rule specifically? (In the heart of a Christian!)

8.      Does He rule in your heart?

 

Rejoice over! Read 2 Samuel 7:18-21

 

1.      What are some adjectives you would use to characterize David in this passage? (Humble, overwhelmed, thankful, grateful, etc)

David appeared to be stunned at how God chose to bless him.

2.      When has God just stunned you speechless?

David understood that what God had done so far in his life didn’t even tax God’s great power—He was just getting started!

3.      How does what God has already done for us in the past secure what He will continue to do now and on into eternity? (We can trust our future to Him based on the evidence of His great love and presence with us in the past.)

God’s promise of an eternal throne to David was a revelation for mankind. God’s covenant with David in no way invalidated God’s covenant with Abraham, it simply gave more details of things to come.

4.      What is the relationship between humility and thankfulness?

5.      How do people’s attitudes about themselves impact their ability to express thankfulness to others? (If we do not have a heart of humility there is only one other choice and that is “pride”.)

6.      How can these verses help us voice our own prayer of thanks to God?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

·         It is only by having a humble spirit that we can thankfully reflect on how God has worked in and through our life!

·         Jesus’ rule will endure forever!

·         As believers, we should humbly thank God for His gracious blessings, the greatest being salvation He provided—to us free but very costly to Him!

 

We may not see the ultimate results of our obedience. We are to simply be obedient trusting God for the ultimate results—our legacy!

David could have gotten mad over this situation, had Nathan killed, and gone ahead with his own plans. Yet he humbly yielded to God’s will!

Is there an area of your life that you need to completely turn over to God’s will for your life?

 

Prayer.

Celebrated - 2 Samuel 5:9-6:19

1.      What are some ways your family celebrates Father’s Day? (Record responses on the board.)

2.      What are some ways your family celebrates Independence Day? (Record responses on the board.)

3.      What might be some wrong ways and right ways to celebrate these days?

4.      What are some ways you might celebrate or worship God this week?

5.      How does our worship take on physical demonstrations? (Raised hands, eyes closed, singing with deep passion, etc.)

It is one thing to express joy in God through a specific type of worship; it is another thing to demand that everyone embrace the type that we consider most appropriate.

6.      What factors go into a person’s worship preferences?

7.      Is a person’s worship preference more an expression of culture or personality?

Today we will read about how King David worshiped as the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem.

 

To refresh our memory a little, last week we learned about how Abner, the commander of Saul’s army, gave his allegiance to King David. He pledged to lead the northern tribes of Israel to follow David. Since then, Abner and Ish-bosheth were both assassinated.

In 2 Samuel 5:1-8 the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and anointed David king over all the tribes of Israel. Then Israel marched against Jerusalem, which was occupied by the Jebusites. The city of Jerusalem has had several names throughout history; among them are Salem, Jebus, Zion, City of David and Jerusalem.

Read 2 Samuel 5:6-8.

 

Recognized! Read 2 Samuel 5:9-12

 

1.      What are some reasons David had to celebrate?

2.      What are some reasons David chose Jerusalem as the capital? (It was more centrally located; it was on high ground, easier to defend.)

David’s daily work was to build the city and establish regional power.

God’s provisions indicated He was fulfilling His promises to David and accomplishing His plans for the sake of His people.

3.      Why should what God did for David cause us to celebrate as well? (In His provisions for David, God was fulfilling His purposes for our redemption through Jesus, who came from the line of David and was crucified and arose from the dead in the city of David.)

4.      Through what people and processes did God provide resources for accomplishing His plans for David?

5.      Through what people and processes has God done this for you?

6.      Compare David’s building program to the building program of a successful church. How is the physical structure a mark of God’s favor?

7.      How can it also pose a spiritual danger? (We become proud of our buildings and brag (in a spiritual way) about how much God has blessed us, just look at all of these beautiful buildings we have!)

Sometimes it is difficult for us to keep the focus on God and what He is doing. It is so tempting to say “Look what we have done!” when it is God and only God who deserves the praise!

 

Honored!

 

In the mean time, David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem; defeated the Philistines and made plans to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  The Ark was at Kirieth-Jearim, which was about 12.5 miles from Jerusalem. His first attempt ended in the death of Uzzah simply because they did not use the proper method to transport the Ark. When the oxen stumbled and the Ark tilted Uzzah reached out to steady it and God killed him immediately. So they left the Ark at the home of Obed-edom. God blessed him so much that after three months David decided to make a second attempt at bringing it to Jerusalem.

Read 2 Samuel 6:12-16

 

1.      What are some ways the people celebrated this great event?

This time he did his research and moved the Ark the way God had told them to move it. The Ark was to be carried with two poles and two priests on each pole!

2.      What elements are required by God for honorable worship? (Humility. Sacrifice. The expression of reverence and adoration.)

3.      Are any sacrifices required today when expressing worship?

4.      Why is obedience the most powerful way to worship God? Read Micah 6:8 (Our actions can appear to worship God while instead glorifying ourselves.)

5.      David took on the role of a priest. How did David conduct himself differently than some people might expect of a priest?

6.      Has your opinion of Michal changed as a result of this study?

7.      How can we avoid being critical of those who worship in ways that might make us uncomfortable?

8.      Why might we be far less likely to criticize others if we’re wholehearted participants rather than spectators during worship celebrations? (If we are wholehearted participants in worship, our focus will be on God not others!)

 

Celebrated! Read 2 Samuel 6:17-19

 

Notice that David continued to lead the people in worship as he “offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings in the Lord’s presence.” He also pronounced a blessing on all the people in the presence of the Lord of Hosts!

1.      The Ark symbolized the presence of God. How can we recognize the Lord’s presence in our world today?

2.      How should the awareness of God’s presence impact us?

3.      How is planning a part of honoring God?

4.      What would we miss if we limited celebrations to those that are spontaneous or emotional only? (Worship is an ongoing process of living our lives in honor of God, as well as commemorating special moments!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Every Christian has reasons to celebrate because our heavenly Father has declared our independence from sin and death through His Son, Jesus Christ. This is why in our worship we exalt and celebrate our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, for His love and His sacrificial death on the cross!

 

How can we express appreciation to God for the people He has placed in our life to encourage us?

 

This week, worship God at work, at home, and during special occasions, like Father’s Day.

How can we best honor our Heavenly Father today?

 

Prayer.

Crowned - 2 Samuel 3:1-21

Consider the following statement from the Personal Study Guide: Change rarely happens without some type of conflict and pain.

1.      Do you agree or disagree, and why? (Some changes are small and relatively pain free while other changes take us out of our comfort zone.)

2.      If change brings conflict and pain, why should we accept, and even work for, change? (Sometimes change is required in order to follow God’s will.)

When we read 1 Samuel 16 and see that David is anointed to be the next king of Israel we may immediately assume this will be an easy transition because it is obviously God’s will. Such is not the case. David’s life illustrated that the fulfillment of God’s purpose may not happen easily or automatically.

After King Saul’s death we see a very difficult and drawn out civil war where David becomes stronger and the northern tribes become weaker. Some of the bloodiest wars are civil wars that pit brother against brother! Saul’s commander of troops, Abner, garners more and more support while it becomes more evident to all that Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth is not prepared to be a king.

As the civil war wore on, Abner killed Asahel, Joab’s brother and later Joab murdered Abner.

3.      What do these changes reveal about human nature and God’s sovereignty? (It doesn’t matter what actions we take, God’s sovereign will is bound to be accomplished! We may resist what God is doing but it will be to no avail.)

(Read 2 Samuel 3:1-7 to set the context of the following verses.)

Taking a defeated king’s wife as his own was considered the final act of total dominance over the defeated king. We see this happen several times in Scripture. (Absalom taking David’s concubines.)

 

A New Ally! Read 2 Samuel 3:8-11

 

1.      What would you say is Abner’s level of confidence that he has the support of his troops?

Abner was expressing his commitment to see the entire nation unified under David’s rule.

2.      What do you see in Ish-bosheth’s nature that may have influenced Abner to change allegiances?

3.      Anger and fear are strong motivators. What role did these play in Abner’s actions?

4.      What role did they play in Ish-bosheth’s actions?

5.      In what ways do you see Ish-bosheth and Saul as being similar?

Abner may have switched allegiances because he didn’t want Israel to suffer under another paranoid, weak king. He also may have switched loyalties because human nature doesn’t like being accused and disrespected.

6.      Did Abner’s change of allegiance reveal hypocrisy or a change of heart? (I believe he truly had a change of heart, especially knowing that David had already been anointed as the next king by Samuel some 20 years or so earlier.)

Once again we see God’s sovereignty in Abner’s actions. God can change the heart of even the most devoted person. We can be assured that God’s purposes will be accomplished.

7.      How does a person who is confident in the fulfillment of God’s purposes live and respond differently to life’s challenges than someone who isn’t? (Those who have confidence in God’s sovereignty have peace in the midst of the challenges that God is in control.)

 

A Restored Relationship! Read 2 Samuel 3:12-16

 

1.      How could Abner send a proposal to make a covenant with David when he is just the commander of Israel’s army? (For all intents and purposes Abner was in control of Israel. Ish-bosheth was afraid of him; after all he was Saul’s cousin and had a great following among the Israelites.)

2.      To whom did David send his response to Abner’s proposed covenant and what was the non-negotiable term? (That Michal be returned to David as his wife was the stipulation. Michal’s return was to restore not just his relationship with her but a state of righteousness to the land. David’s family relationships certainly do not embody the New Testament ideal of marriage!)

Because human nature is sinful, relationships and righteous standards will be broken. Believers, like Abner and David, had to take decisive actions to restore relationships and righteousness, even when those changes are painful and difficult.

3.      What benefit might Abner’s covenant with David have brought to Abner? To David? What complicated their agreement?

4.      Which do you think is more difficult—seeking restoration or granting restoration? (One requires humility the other forgiveness—letting a wrong go unpunished!)

5.      What decisive actions can we take to restore righteous actions in our own behavior? (Determine—“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”)

As we look at David’s life, having multiple wives was culturally acceptable. But just because something may be culturally acceptable doesn’t mean it is in God’s plan for our lives! Although it was culturally acceptable, throughout 2 Samuel we will see the destruction this family structure created in David’s house!

 

A Consolidated Kingdom! Read 2 Samuel 3:17-21

 

1.      What changes in allegiances do these verses indicate had occurred?

2.      How did Abner use his influence to encourage others to follow God’s plan? (Saul and Abner were from the tribe of Benjamin and it was important that Abner have their allegiance!)

3.      In making crucial decisions in life, believers should always seek to base their actions on the affirmations made by God in His Word. How would that empower us to make and navigate difficult, but necessary, changes?

4.      What are some difficult changes we must make as individuals?      As a church?

God’s purposes will be fulfilled, and He honors leaders who are committed to His propose. God will fulfill His purposes with or without you. The ideal situation, for us and for God, is that we would allow Him to use us in fulfilling his purpose! We will be rightly blessed!

5.      How did David demonstrate his trust in God by patiently waiting for what God had promised?

6.      In what ways does David’s patient waiting on God’s blessing foreshadow Christ’s example?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      What did we learn from Abner and David about how to respectfully implement change so God’s purposes are fulfilled and Jesus reigns as King in lives, homes, and churches?

We, as believers, can use our influence to encourage others to follow God’s plan.

2.      Think for a moment: Who does your life influence?

3.      What difference does it make how you live?

4.      What hindrances are keeping you from using your influence to encourage others to follow God’s purpose?

5.      How can you minimize these hindrances and exert your influence more effectively in a positive way?

 

Pray, asking that God’s purposes will be accomplished through us as He shows us how to use our influence to guide others to follow His plan!

Respected - 2 Samuel 1:17—2:7

1.      Should all leaders be given respect? (If, because of a personal moral failure of some kind or a complete lack of integrity, we cannot respect the individual leader we are to respect the office or position they hold.)

2.      What are the dangers of failing to respect leaders? (If we believe that God is in complete control, and I do, we must respect leaders because God has allowed them to hold that position!)

3.      What makes a leader someone you respect? (For me, it is a leader who leads with integrity, has moral purity and seeks to follow God’s direction.)

When we are talking about God’s leaders, God has placed them in that position and when it’s time for them to go God will remove them. “Ultimately, respect for God’s leaders is a matter of the heart!”—Do we trust God?

Today we start our study in the book of 2 Samuel. First and Second Samuel along with First and Second Kings gives us the history of Israel from the time of the last Judge--Samuel, through the time Israel was ruled by kings; the split of the kingdom into north-Israel and south-Judah; the Assyrian’s defeat of the northern kingdom in 722 B. C.; and finally the fall of Judah to Babylon in 586 B.C.

First Samuel is the record of Samuel’s birth, Samuel’s time as a judge, the crowning of Saul as King and his roller coaster reign of the Israelites and finally, King Saul’s death on Mount Gilboa. Of course, David is introduced and Saul’s determination to eliminate David after the people praised him more than they did Saul after David killed Goliath, and somehow it had evidently became known that Samuel, under God’s direction, had anointed David to succeed Saul as king of Israel. Jealousy is a terrible thing to deal with!

            Second Samuel narrates the rule of King David over Israel. Almost all of David’s mighty accomplishments occurred in the first half of his 40 year reign. The Bathsheba affair was not the only exception to a great career as king of Israel. It was a sin that wounded David so badly that he never fully recovered, and it tore his family apart.

 

Key Themes in 2 Samuel:

·         The sovereignty of God!

·         The consequences of sin and God’s grace!

·         The covenant relationship with David that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ! The entire book hinges on chapter seven and God’s promise to establish the throne of David forever       (2 Sam. 7:11b-13).

 

(Summarize the events in 2 Sam. 1:1-16.)

Commemoration! Read 2 Samuel 1:17-27

 

1.      What was David’s response to the news of King Saul’s death? (Notice that David’s men followed his example by tearing their garments in grief as well.)

2.      What does David’s song reveal about David’s heart concerning King Saul and Jonathan? (Note that verse 26 must be understood in the context of the culture of that day. Even today in some cultures it is not uncommon for a man to hold another man’s hand while walking. The same is true of women in that culture. It seems strange to us and we even might place a negative connotation sexually to it in our culture. David is simply saying Jonathan was his best and most trusted friend. David’s very life was in Jonathan’s hands on many occasions.)

Showing honor to the valor of such soldiers is not the same thing as idealizing warfare. Sometimes we must fight to defend our freedom!

3.      Why might it be surprising that David didn’t celebrate Saul’s death?

4.      What did he recognize about Saul?

One principle for respecting leaders gleaned from David’s example is to focus on the positive aspects of the leader and speak positively about them to others.

Even when David was being pursued by Saul and his army he refused to raise his hand against the King. On at least two separate occasions David could have killed Saul and gave proof by cutting off a piece of his robe once and taking his weapon another time, as Saul slept.

5.      What do we reveal about our hearts when we speak disrespectfully about our leaders?

6.      Why will we show respect for human leaders when we honor Christ as Lord in our hearts?

7.      In what ways should a church celebrate its leaders, especially its pastors?

 

Because David respected God as his ultimate Leader, he respected Saul as leader and he demonstrated characteristics of a godly leader!

 

Coronation! Read 2 Samuel 2:1-4a

 

Note: More than 15 years had passed since Samuel anointed David as king, and seven more years would pass before David became king over all Israel, but David never rushed to claim what was rightfully his. He waited on God’s timing.

 

1.      In what ways do we typically respond when faced with a major decision?

2.      What are some examples of small and big decisions we discuss with God? (Relocating our family. Changing jobs. Taking a position in the church like teacher, deacon…literally anything.)

3.      In what ways does our response reveal in who or what we place our trust?

4.      How does David’s first seeking God’s guidance demonstrate David’s respect both for Saul and the leadership position God had given him?

Hebron is half way between Jerusalem and Beersheba and in the territory of Judah. God sending David back to his ancestral territory indicates He was working His plan of bringing the eternal King, Jesus Christ, out of Judah.

The next step in David’s becoming king over all of Israel was to be anointed king of Judah!

5.      In what ways are believers today set apart for God’s service? (For all Christians, baptism is the first step in obedience and an indication we yield our will to follow God’s will in our lives. We have ordination services for ministers and deacons. Some churches have a formal induction service for teachers, setting them aside for God’s service.)

6.      What is the difference between serving God in our life and being called to be a leader? (All believers must accept their anointed role as God’s servants, including leadership. If there are leaders then there must be followers. That is where most of us are. We must be effective followers before we can be effective leaders!)

7.      What makes it easy to obey God? (God’s decisions are perfect!)

 

Note that David did not push himself into the position that was rightfully his. He waited on God’s timing. It would take some time for the other tribes of Israel to recognize David as their king.

True humility in a godly leader shines like a bright beacon to others but is not seen by the leader!

 

Commendation! Read 2 Samuel 2:4b-7

 

1.      What characteristic of a godly leader do we see in these verses?

The men of Jabesh-Gilead honored King Saul’s memory and took a risk in retrieving the body!

2.      What are some appropriate ways to express loyalty and kindness to those who lead?

Godly leaders aren’t threatened by other leaders, past or present, but instead encourage people to respect all those God has placed in leadership. One of the most destructive elements in a church is jealousy among the staff. This can be on the pastoral staff or other servants in the church, teachers, deacons, directors, choir members—literally it can rear its ugly head anywhere and is very destructive!

3.      How can you tell David was sincere in his commendation as opposed to being politically motivated? (David took action rather than just speaking!)

Courageous and wise leaders are rare and valuable.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Think of leaders from your past and present.

Identify two leaders along with an action and a phrase that honors each.

No leader is perfect! If they don’t display the characteristics of a godly leader, don’t mock or criticize them; we pray for them and ask God to bless them and develop godly characteristics in their lives.

Instead of focusing on the negative, we focus on the positive qualities they do display and affirm them for those qualities.

 

Father, help us to be the followers and leaders You would have us be. Help us to stay focused on Your will and Your timing! Help us to appreciate the qualities You have given to other leaders around us. Help us not to be jealous of other’s gifts but to find the place You have for us to use our giftedness!

Giving Faithfully - 2 Corinthians 9:1-15

1.      Who is the most generous person you know? Not who gives the most?

2.      What is the difference between the most generous person and the person who gives the most? (Sometimes we label a person as generous who gives out of their surplus, but really their giving is no sacrifice at all!)

3.      Why might a person question someone being generous? (Their attitude. They seem to have so much left over. They talk about it.)

4.      What motivates people to be generous toward others? (Love.)

One doesn’t need to be rich to be generous, but one simply must be giving to be generous!

5.      When have you seen this to be true? (In Mark 12:41-44 many people were giving their offering in the temple. Among them was a widow who gave all she had and Jesus said she had given more than all of the others had given.)

I’m relatively certain that the most generous Christians give the way Jesus told us to give, so that others may not know they are giving at all!

6.      What is the difference in “Tithe” and “Offering”? (Our offering is over and above the tithe God said we are to give to support His kingdom’s work.)

The Lord sometimes can use money to expose the condition of our hearts. For many, riches and wealth are a hindrance to entering the kingdom of God!

The background for our focal passage today deals with the great financial need of the church in Jerusalem. Of course, most of the Christians in Jerusalem were converted Jews. Once they professed Christ as Savior many lost their employment and were ostracized by the Jewish community. The church there seemed to be in deep poverty. As Paul traveled on his missionary journeys he spread the news about how the church in Jerusalem was in such great need. Churches were challenged to give to help them.

Paul had come through Corinth a year or so before this letter was written. The church there had pledged to regularly put back an offering for the church in Jerusalem. It was getting close for the time for Paul and his companions to come collect the offering and take it to Jerusalem. In 2 Corinthians 8:1-7 Paul tells them that the churches in Macedonia insisted on sending an offering, even out of their “deep poverty”. The church at Corinth was a wealthy church in comparison. Paul didn’t want the church in Corinth to be embarrassed by their small gift, so he urged them to be faithful to their pledge to take up this offering.

There is a huge difference in giving out of one’s poverty and giving out of one’s surplus! From time to time a person or couple comes to a minister with the question: “How much should we give?” No one can answer that question for you. Guidelines can be given but how much you should give is between you and God!

 

Confidence Expressed! Read 2 Corinthians 9:1-5

 

1.      How did Paul express belief that they would resume their commitment to the offering he was collecting?

Notice that Paul was not criticizing them but encouraging them to keep a commitment they had made to participate in this offering.

2.      Do you think Paul had a responsibility to talk to them like this?

3.      What did Paul understand about the Corinthian believers’ attitude toward giving? (Paul seemed to believe they were willing to give, so he questioned whether he needed to send a reminder.)

4.      Do we ever need reminders about our responsibility in the area of stewardship?

Paul had just provided some practical guidelines on giving to the Corinthian church earlier in the letter (2 Cor. 8:11-15). He helped them understand what to do and what to expect.

5.      Why is it important for leaders to hold believers accountable for meeting the needs of others? (Sometimes we are unaware of the needs and we forget our responsibility in this area.)

6.      How might we be held accountable today? (Lessons like this. Sermons on giving and stewardship. Sometimes we simply need to open our eyes to the needs around us!)

7.      What would you say is the result when we give out of extortion or compulsion or pressure from someone? (It’s not “giving” then and there is no reward for it.)

 

Benefits Found! Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11

 

1.      What are the benefits of giving as God directs?

Paul described giving that is motivated by the gospel. His motivation was not receiving but rather the blessed act of giving itself.

2.      How would you explain the correlation Paul made between giving and sowing seed? (If the farmer had a poor crop and decided to use all of the grain to feed his family, there would be no crop the following year because there was no seed grain left for next year’s crop.)

3.      Is receiving back for what we give proper motivation for giving?

4.      Read Malachi 3:10. Does this verse mean that if we give money we will receive money in return, even more than we gave? (No! The blessings God gives may come in many forms but will always be more than we’ve given! Read 2 Cor. 9:10-11 again.)

5.      Read Palms 112:9. How do the words of the psalm support what Paul wrote concerning generous giving?

The PSG makes this doctrine statement about “Stewardship”: “Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer’s cause on earth.”

6.      How does that statement fit in with these verses we just read?

7.      For the cheerful giver, which comes first, the gift or the cheer?

8.      How is giving a source of cheer?

9.      How does a cheerful heart move a person to meet the needs of others?

Read Romans 12:6-8. Here again we are commanded to be generous in our giving!

There are more than 27 passages in the Bible that deal in some way with giving other than 2 Corinthians 8-9!

Paul prayed that God would multiply the money the Corinthians gave and increase the results of their ministry. One of the reasons God blesses believers is so that believers can bless others!

 

Adoration Gained! Read 2 Corinthians 9:12-15

 

1.      What is the outcome of giving to others under God’s direction? (You will be enriched; thanksgiving to God; supply the needs of the saints; overflows in many acts of thanksgiving to God; glorify God; confession of the gospel; recipients will have a deep affection for you.)

2.      How does giving reflect God’s grace? (God uses our gift to Him as a gracious act to meet someone else’s need!)

3.      How can giving be an act of worship?

4.      How can giving be a means of honoring God?

5.      How can the person receiving the gift honor God?

All Christian giving is carried out in light of God’s indescribable gift to us: his Son. Recite John 3:16.

6.      In what ways does God’s generosity in the gift of His Son challenge believers to meet the needs of others?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

1.      How is a believer showing their trust in God by using their resources to meet the needs of others?

2.      What should be our attitude toward giving to God? (Give from a willing heart, not grudgingly or out of obligation. This will often motivate others to give.)

3.      How does our giving impact the needs of people both inside and outside of the church?

4.      What are some appropriate ways for us to challenge each other to meet the needs of others in the community and to meet the needs of our church?

5.      What adjustments need to be made within our group based on our discussion?

Consider whether you give your tithes and offerings grudgingly or joyfully.

Understand that God will bless you based on the attitude of your heart and not on how much you give!

Close with prayer.

Bible passages that deal with giving:

 

Deut. 15:10; 16:17

1 Ch. 29:9; 29:14

Ps. 37:4, 21

Prov. 3:9, 27; 11:24-25; 18:16; 21:26; 22:9; 28:27; 31:9

Neh. 8:10

Mal. 3:8-10

Matt. 6:2-4; 10:8; 19:21

Mark 12:41-44

Luke 6:30, 38; 3:11

Acts 20:35

Romans 12:8

1 Cor. 13:3

Phil. 4:15-17

James 2:15-16

Becoming New - 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2

The world we live in is filled with all kinds of broken relationships.

1.      What are some broken relationships we see all around us? (Divorce; countries at war; companies suing each other; employer/employee;  children and parents; friendships; etc)

The closer the relationship, the greater the hurt if that relationship is broken!

2.      Can any broken relationship be fixed?

3.      How does the restoring of a once broken relationship change the people who were once at odds with each other?

The restoration of a broken relationship requires at least one of the parties involved to take a step toward the other, offering a solution to the problem.

God created us to relate to one another and to Him. Because of sin, our greatest need is to be reconciled to God. When we get our relationship with God fixed, our relationship with each other will improve as well.  Churches that reconcile fractured relationships will be more effective in proclaiming the gospel message!

            In our study today, we’ll see that Paul thought deeply about reconciliation and insisted that genuine reconciliation comes only through a right relationship with Jesus!

 

Read 2 Cor. 5:14-15. These verses leading up to our focal passage emphasize the driving force in Paul’s life and should be the driving force in our life.

 

Reborn! Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

 

1.      Paul explained that we are made different by the Holy Spirit. How should this change cause believers to regard one another? (We no longer look at the flesh or outward appearance of people. He wanted them to look at the heart. Our view should go from temporal to an eternal perspective.)

2.      Before Paul’s conversion, how did he view Jesus? (He viewed Jesus as a mere man of flesh and blood, but now he understood who Jesus was and knew Him as the Messiah!)

3.      How did Paul explain the transformation process that takes place in believers? (“New creation.” In other passages we are told we will be “born again.” When we accept what Jesus did for us on the cross we become a new creation—new on the inside.)

In this transformation, nothing changes on the outside, but our perspectives, deep prejudices, wills, and love of sin are changed. Only God can make this change!

4.      Christ is said to be in believers. Being united with Christ involves both aspects, revealing a complimentary relationship between our being in Christ and Him dwelling in us. What are the benefits of being united with Christ? (We have His power indwelling us, which helps us resist sin as well as empower us to live in right relationship to Him.)

Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus!

 

Reconciled! Read 2 Corinthians 5:18-21

 

Some form of the word “reconcile” is used five times in these verses.

1.      In your own words, how would you define “reconcile”?

Our author offered this definition: Reconciliation is the restoration of a relationship that has been broken or severed; it is the reunion of parties separated by the consequences of sin or wrong doing.

Note that God initiated reconciliation with humanity, taking all the actions necessary for that reconciliation to happen.

2.      How should being reconciled to God serve as motivation for serving Him?

3.      What does God initiating the reconciliation with us reveal about how God feels about humanity in general and you in particular?

4.      How should the love God demonstrates motivate us to serve Him?

5.      If we have accepted Jesus’ offer of reconciliation, according to verse 20 to what position have we been appointed? (Ambassador.)

6.      How does being reconciled to God qualify a person to be an ambassador for Christ to a lost world?(Heavenly ambassador.)

7.      What responsibilities does an ambassador carry and how do those responsibilities inform believers of God’s expectations for them?

Two definitions for an ambassador include (1) the highest-ranking representative of the president or leader to a specific nation or international organization abroad, or (2) a messenger or representative who tells or reveals truth.

8.      How do these definitions help you understand God’s expectations for believers?

9.      Whose message does an ambassador share with those he is sent to, his own message or the message from the One who appointed him? (We are sent to be ambassadors to a lost world by the One who loves them with a message of love and acceptance through the blood of His one and only Son.)

Our message is a message of reconciliation as a desperate appeal for people to return to God. The message should also include an explanation about the transformation that takes place in the lives and hearts of those who believe!

 

Ready! Read 2 Corinthians 6:1-2

 

1.      What warning did Paul extend to the Corinthian believers? (We are called to work alongside of Christ. He also made a strong appeal that they take their position with Christ seriously.)

2.      What are some reasons people may give for waiting to accept the gospel? (I don’t believe all that stuff. I’ll do it someday but I’m too busy now. I know too many professed Christians who don’t live like it. Like the King told Paul—some more convenient time. Any old excuse will do.)

Paul reminded the Christians that the time to share the good news of the gospel is now. He also reminded those who heard the good news that now is the time to respond and accept this offer of grace and mercy!

The message of reconciliation with God is too important to overlook or push off for another time.

3.      What can a believer do to emphasize to others the urgency for accepting Christ?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      What does this text teach us about the change that takes place in believers? (The Holy Spirit has changed our hearts, giving us new lives and new perspectives of the world. We no longer desire to participate in sinful activities.)

2.      How do some people seek to become reconciled with God on their own terms?

3.      What actions can we take to help others know that reconciliation with God only comes through faith in Jesus? (Be using the Word of God! See Hebrews 4:12!)

 

This week, take time to people watch. Your transformation and reconciliation should have changed the way you view others. As an ambassador for God and a coworker with Christ, take time to think about what Christ would say to the people around you.

Displaying the Gospel - 2 Corinthians 4:5-18

(Write the following statements on the board.)

·         Religious Liberty is on the decline in America.

·         American Christians face growing intolerance.

(Ask your class for a show of hands if they agree with the statements individually. Share the following with the class from the Leader’s Guide.)

“LifeWay Research surveyed Americans about their perceptions regarding religious liberty. Sixty percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement “Religious liberty is on the decline in America.” Almost two-thirds [63%] agreed with the statement, “American Christians face growing intolerance.” Religious liberty has become an increasingly contentious issue in American culture.”

 

1.      What actions should be taken in places where Christianity is actively persecuted or suppressed?

2.      Are we like the frog in the pot of tepid water, with the fire heating it up ever so slowly until we die without resistance?

Will we sit idly by while those who defy God’s values take control and make laws designed to silence God’s people!

      Christianity was not tolerated as a legal religion anywhere in the Roman Empire of the first century. False religions had infested the city of Corinth. When Paul wrote to encourage believers who faced persecution, he was dealing with a much more challenging cultural situation than most of us have faced up to this point. Amid these challenges, Paul focused on how God was shaping him and using him to share the gospel!

Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-4

The “god of this age” is Satan and his influence was and is strong!

 

Proclaim! Read 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

 

1.      What is Paul trying to make clear to his readers here? (He is not promoting himself but Jesus! He is simply a “slave” to Jesus.)

2.      Sharing the gospel with power is one of the principles Paul taught. What did he express as the essentials for sharing the gospel? (Paul explained that he did not talk about himself when he preached. The gospel message is exclusively about Jesus Christ; therefore Paul focused his message on Christ!

Paul did not want to rule over the Corinthian church. He saw himself as a servant of God and the church. Jesus is the One to whom everyone should submit.)

3.      How would you describe God’s illuminating work in the hearts of His people? (Jesus shines in the darkness of our hearts as we allow Him to live in us His light overcomes our darkness!)

Moses face shone brightly simple reflecting God’s glorious light and he had to wear a veil over his face, but Jesus’ face is shining brightly to overcome the darkness in our hearts. Christ alone is the One to proclaim.

Christians have the Holy Spirit living in them!

4.      How can we allow the “light” of God to be seen in us?

5.      Taking verse 5 and 6 together, what are the implications and consequences for proclaiming someone or something other than salvation in Christ alone? (We will live in darkness without God’s illuminating truth in Jesus!)

Heb. 1:3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature.” Jesus is “the image of God”!

* When Paul preached he did not say, “Look at me!”He said, “Look at Jesus Christ! And there you will see the glory of God come to earth in a form that a man can understand.”

 

Live! Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-15

 

1.      What “treasure” is Paul referring to in verse 7? (The indwelling Spirit of God! Along with the gospel that brings light to us.)

This “treasure” is valuable and costly, while “clay jars” are weak and common! The weakness of the vessel allows God’s extraordinary power to be shown and for others to realize the power came from God and not from us.

Read 2 Cor. 8-9. (Discuss each paradox.)

* After he has stated the great paradoxes of the Christian life Paul goes on to give the secret of his own life, the reason why he was able to do and to endure as he did.—He was well aware that if a man would share the life of Christ he must share his risks, that if a man wished to live with Christ he must be ready to die with Him. Paul knew and accepted the inexorable law of the Christian life—“No Cross, No Crown.” … When a man has the conviction that what is happening to him is happening literally for Christ’s sake he can face anything.

 

Reflect on the challenges or difficulties you may be facing. Write in the margin of you book “I am __________. Briefly describe your situation in the blank. Then complete the rest of the phrase “but not ________. Write the words that reflect God’s power.

Earlier this week I had to write several large checks and found myself complaining about it. I was reminded that I should be thanking God that the resources were there to cove these unexpected expenses. God had provided once again!

Read Gal. 2:19-20

2.      How is it that we must carry the death of Jesus in us so that the life of Jesus can be revealed in us? (The more of self we have living in us the less influence Christ has in us However, the more we die to self the brighter the light of Christ shines through us!

3.      What is the hope expressed in verses 14-15? (We have the hope of resurrection with Christ! We are not forsaken.)

4.      Why did Paul continue to preach the gospel of Christ despite the dangers? (For the sake of those who have not yet heard the Good News about eternal life in Christ!)

 

Paul didn’t dwell on death, but instead magnified life!

 

Focus! Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

1.      How did Paul contrast life on earth with eternal life in Heaven?

2.      How does the inner person get renewed daily?

3.      How does that daily renewal fuel and motivate the believer? (Read Lamentations 3:22-24.)

4.      How may Paul’s suffering cause some believers to be discouraged? (We must look at the whole picture. Paul’s sufferings did not cause him to become discouraged. He maintained his focus on the message of Christ no matter what else was happening to him.)

Paul believed that the sufferings he endured did not compare to the glory that lay ahead of him!

Paul encouraged other believers to focus on the “unseen,” which Paul said is “eternal,” and not on the “temporary,” which is what can be “seen”. Paul reminded them that focusing on the eternal would produce an incomparable reward in heaven!

5.      How does the glory reserved for us in the future serve as motivation in the now to be faithful and courageous in suffering?

 

We think of salvation completed in three distinct stages: Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification.  We can also think of it this way: God loves us so much He accepts us just as we are, but He loves us to much to leave us just as we are. Sanctification is the process of our earthly man dying and Christ living through us!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Recap of truths:

·         Christians are to exclusively proclaim Jesus as Savior!

·         All people can live victoriously through faith in the resurrected Jesus!

·         As Christians, we are to focus on things with eternal consequences!

 

Even though we are frail (jars of clay) we hold a great treasure (the gospel of Jesus). We are commanded to share this treasure. Though we are weak God’s power can impact others through us!

 

Pray thanking God for His grace and intrusting us with this great treasure! Pray we will be faithful in sharing it with others.

 

  *  The Daily Study Bible Series, The Letters to the Corinthians Revised Edition by William Barclay