Set Free - Leviticus 16:1-30

(Bring a backpack to class loaded with books so that it is somewhat heavy. Ask for a volunteer to wear it during class but say nothing about it until the closing. The longer we carry our heavy weight of sin the more difficult it becomes. If the person should take it off during the class then make the point at that time.)

 

We have been studying about sin and the sacrificial system God instituted to help the people come to terms with their sinfulness and the cost to restore our fellowship with Him after we’ve sinned.

1.      Do you think people today have a more lax view of sin than people one hundred years ago?

2.      Why do many people have a difficult time coming to terms with their sinfulness?

3.      When someone does realize they have sinned against God and yearn for the fellowship to be restored how is that person’s feelings described? (Guilt becomes overwhelming. Guilt is defined as “feeling responsible or regret for a perceived offense, real or imaginary.”)

Sometimes we may feel guilt for something that happened for which we had nothing to do with and were not responsible. But when we feel guilt brought on by God’s conviction in our heart that we have sinned against Him, that guilt is real!

4.      What can we use or do to clean a sin-stained heart and lift the burden of guilt?

God’s people in the Old Testament looked forward to “The” Sacrifice that would come in Jesus Christ. But in the mean time to cover their sin until it could we washed away by Jesus’ blood, God gave them the sacrificial system to teach them the heavy cost of sin and to point toward the perfect Sacrifice, the Messiah.

 

The function of the priests involved distinguishing “between the holy and the common, and the clean and the unclean” In chapters 11-15 of Leviticus God gave specific instructions regarding what is clean and what is unclean. The Lord set apart some animals as clean or acceptable to eat and designated others animals as unacceptable to eat. He then gave instructions to Moses and Aaron concerning uncleanness by contamination and the rites of purification. In chapter 16, God instituted the Day of Atonement. It was the 10th day of the 7th month on the Jewish calendar (Sept-Oct).

 

Preparing to Sacrifice! Read Leviticus 16:3-6

 

1.      How was Aaron to prepare himself according to God’s instructions? (Wash and put on linen garments, take a young bull for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering for himself and the priesthood, then take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering for the people.)

2.      Why so much preparation to enter the presence of God and make atonement for the people’s sin?

3.      What mind-set do you think Aaron had when Moses told him what he would need to do in order to be prepared to carry out the atonement sacrifices for the people? (In preparing to be high priest, Aaron undoubtedly felt the burden of his own sin, as well as the sins of the people.)

Like children who come in from playing outside and are unaware of how much dirt they have accumulated, we too have difficulty realizing our own sin stains. God’s Spirit lovingly, though not always gentle, makes us aware.

4.      How does realizing the need for purity before God cause you to think about Jesus’ extravagant provision for you?

5.      How do we rightly prepare ourselves to enter into God’s presence? (We discussed last week the issue about coming into our worship services flippantly. May we make a conscience effort to come to worship focused on God.)

6.      When we come to our worship service are we more interested in seeing friends or that we are about to have an encounter with the Living God?

7.      Is it more difficult to prepare the internal or the external when it comes to preparing to be in God’s presence?

8.      Is there a level of reverence our dress should project at church?

Just as Aaron prepared himself to enter God’s presence, God’s desire is that our hearts be ready and right with Him when we come to worship. Now let’s look at the sacrifice Aaron brought.

The Chosen Goat! Read Leviticus 16:7-10

 

The word “azazel” is the Hebrew word translated uninhabitable place.

1.      How does the picture of the two goats give us a visual reminder of God’s justice, grace and forgiveness? (One goat was slaughtered, the other had the sin of the people placed upon it and was let go in the wilderness to demonstrate God’s gracious removal of Israel’s guilt and sin.)

2.      In what way was the Day of Atonement a temporary fix to the guilt and sin of the people of Israel?

3.      In what way is Jesus’ death on the cross a permanent solution to our sin problem?

4.      How does Jesus’ death give a believer confidence and humility at the same time?

5.      How does one strike a proper balance between confidence and humility?

 

We can live confident that Jesus’ death on the cross means we no longer need to carry the guilt of sin. Now let’s read God’s words as He established the Day of Atonement for His people.

 

The Day of Atonement! Read Leviticus 16:29-30

 

1.      As we have talked about “atonement” these past few weeks what have you come to understand about atonement? Have you learned anything you were not aware of before? (God’s justice demands payment and the sacrifice for atonement was that payment time after time until Jesus came to be our final Sacrificial Lamb!)

2.      How did God require the Israelites to observe the Day of Atonement? (They were to practice Sabbath, withdrawing and resting from the daily occupations of mind and body. They were to practice reflection and self-denial, traditionally understood to mean refraining from doing anything to improve or please one’s self.

3.      What are the benefits of practicing regular reflection on God’s work in your life? (The Day of Atonement demonstrated God’s interest in the heart of people. Most important were the realizations and determinations brought about in the hearts of the people during this time.)

When our worship becomes rote, we can reset our gratitude and reverence for God when we spend time reflecting on the atonement Jesus accomplished for us. We have an opportunity every week to come together and celebrate with thankful hearts what God has done for us through the atoning sacrifice of His Son!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

(Turn to the person wearing the backpack and ask if they are ready to get rid of their burden.)

Ask them these questions:

1.      Did the backpack become more difficult over time?

2.      Did you look forward to the time it would come off?

This backpack represented the guilt of sin. The longer we carry it, the more uncomfortable it becomes.

3.      How can we get rid of our sin guilt? (Only through Jesus.)

4.      What could you say or do to help someone who is carrying the guilt of sin as a heavy burden?

Jesus paid for our sin one time for all with His blood. He is purifying His own as we walk with Him daily. He will do away with the presence of sin altogether in our future. What is present reality in heaven will be present on earth as well.

5.      In what ways are we too casual or too confident when it comes to approaching God?

6.      How might you prepare to humble yourself before God?

 

We will celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday! How about pausing to reflect on what God has done for you and your family!

Close in a prayer of thankfulness to God for providing everlasting atonement through His Son, Jesus!

Set Apart - Leviticus 8:1-10:7

(On a poster or white board write “Do’s” and “Don’ts” as headings.)

 

1.      Ask: What are some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” that people outside the church might think Christians should follow?

Sometimes people view religion as just a list of difficult rules that people attempt to follow.

2.      What expectations do non-Christians have about the way Christians should live?

3.      Do you think they expect Christians to act differently than they do?

4.      Do we as Christians fall into the same trap when we look at other Christians by expecting things of them we don’t expect of ourselves?

Today we will see how God’s people are called to live holy lives—not just to try to follow a list of do’s and don’ts. The Christians life is much more than a list of do’s and don’ts to follow. Our actions are to spring from a heart of gratitude for what God has done for us and what He wants to accomplish through us!

Having established a series of offerings in Leviticus chapters 1 through 6 and how those offerings were to be managed in chapters 6 & 7, chapter 8 establishes a priesthood to represent God’s people before Him and to represent Him before the people. Aaron and his sons were ordained into their priestly offices. Now in chapter 9 we have the first worship service in the tabernacle.

As we study Leviticus look for these key themes: The Holiness of God; The Need for Atonement; and The Need for Right Living.

 

Cleansed! Read Leviticus 9:15-21

 

1.      In the very act of making a “sin offering” what are we saying? (We are confessing we have sinned and we have a need for restoration of our fellowship with God.)

2.      Why is confession the first step for approaching God?

3.      What keeps people from being honest about their need for confession?

As we mentioned last week, the killing of an animal showed the cost of sin and by God accepting their offering, He was showing His people how their fellowship with Him is restored.

4.      As believers today, we do not need an earthly priest to help us approach God! Why is that the case? (See 1 Peter 2:9—We have direct access to the Father through Jesus. See Heb. 8:1—Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father. His work was finished. Aaron and his successors’ work was never finished. See Heb. 9:11-14 and 10:14.)

5.      Why was the priesthood set up by God? (To facilitate access to God for the people by way of God’s instructions through sacrifices, teaching the community about God, and worship—all pointing to Jesus as our ultimate High Priest.)

We are made right with God through the blood of Jesus.              Read Rom. 5:9; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:20; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 1:5.

We have been saved out of the darkness of this world to be a bright light shining back into that darkness that others might come to the Light, which is Jesus! Our lives should be such that others are drawn to Jesus just a bugs are drawn to light on a dark night!

 

We know that recognizing and confessing our sin is the first step toward God. Next we will see the blessing that Aaron offered for the people!

 

Blessing! Read Leviticus 9:22-24

 

We don’t know what happened when Moses and Aaron went into the Tent of Meetings and speculation is futile, but surely they communicated with God in some way. The fire of God symbolized the holiness of God and His purifying, cleansing power!

1.      What effect did God’s nearness and response to the sacrifice have on the people? (Their instance response was to worship and praise God. There was responsibility for the specific sin of the individual but also a great sense of relating to God as a community.)

I enjoy worshiping God alone but I love coming together as a church family worshiping God together.

2.      When have you been so moved as to figuratively fall on your face in worship to God?

3.      How would you describe their relationship with God at this point? (Being in God’s presence in worship brings about blessing and proper perspective in our lives.)

4.      Is there any significance to the order of the offerings: sin offering, burnt offering and the fellowship offering? (The order of these offerings illustrates that atonement comes before true relationship. God makes relationship with Him possible after we first respond to His way of atonement. Adjusting our hearts toward gratitude to God in our lives enhances our worship.)

5.      If you were asked to describe the blessings of living a holy life how would you respond?

 

1.      What happens when we try to design our own way to come to God?

 

Holy! Read Leviticus 10:1-3

 

2.      What was the problem with what Nadab and Abihu did? (We are not given specifics but there was obviously sin in their hearts. Perhaps it was pride that led them to offer unauthorized fire to the Lord in an offering God did not tell them to offer. Although we are not told specifically what the Scripture mean, Holy fire is fire from God and there is strong evidence that fire from the altar would be considered Holy Fire because of the blood sprinkled on the Altar.)

3.      In what ways do we face the same temptations as Nadab and Abihu?

4.      What truths were pressed deeply into Israel as a result of what happened to Nadab and Abihu? (God’s holiness is uncompromising. The Lord deserves every reverence people are capable of offering, and more. The purity of the Levitical priesthood and the prescribed sacrifices was preserved.)

5.      How does disobedience reflect a lack of faith in God? (Had Nadab and Abihu’s disobedient offering been done in ignorance, a sin offering would have reestablished their right relationship with God. Instead, their deliberate disobedience revealed their disrespect for God. Pride is a terrible sin!)

6.      When people stray away from God’s demands of holiness, what effect does it have on their lives and relationships—both with
God and others?

In Acts 8:18 Simon offered Peter and John money in Samaria to have the power that he saw when they prayed over the new believers and the Holy Spirit came upon the people.

            Arrogance takes many forms; even lack of reverence can be a form of arrogance. People don’t, and can’t, have the authority to choose or create a way that God can successfully be approached. Understanding or agreeing with the strategy of what God asks us to do isn’t a release from the expectation of obedience.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Read Hebrews 7:26-28!

 

1.      How would you summarize these three verses? (We can be thankful that Christ is the only holy, perfect priest we need and that through His sacrifice on the cross we have access to God.)

Confession of sin is the first step toward God. Believers can enjoy the blessing of being in God’s presence through worship of Him. God’s people are to live holy lives, reflecting Jesus’ character.

2.      How do you see Christians today minimize God’s expectation of their obedience?

3.      In what areas of your own life do you do this? (Isn’t it strange that we look at other people and call an act sin but excuse the same act in our own life!)

Read Psalm 139:23-24.

 

Ask God to show you where you need to get serious about obeying Him exactly.

 

Give God thanks for providing Christ as both a holy sacrifice and a High Priest so that you can have a relationship with Him!

Set Before God - Leviticus 1:1-3:17

1.      How would you describe the attitudes and actions of a person who is devoted to a particular entity, that is; a person, group or goal? (A person’s devotion is evident through their actions and level of commitment to the entity they worship. For example, I know people who are “committed” to sports and nothing gets in their way of attending or watching sporting events! Would that professing Christians were as committed to God!)

2.      Where is the focus of true worship of God? (True worship of God is not centered on the worshiper; it is focused on God, His holiness, His grace, His mercy, His provision, etc.)

God designed and put the tabernacle in place to create a space to be near His people and for them to be Him and sense His presence! Through their sacrificial offerings for their sin the people would be reconciled to God and have fellowship with Him.

 

Last week we saw the completion of the tabernacle. Now God gave Moses specifics about the sacrifices that were to be offered. While Exodus describes how God set His people free, Leviticus describes how His redeemed people are to live. Both books remind us that our great God is not only interested in our freedom (Exodus), but He is also interested in how we live once set free (Leviticus). What was true for the Israelites then is also true for us today. Once we are set free from the power of sin, God is interested in how we live!

 

Chapters 1-7 of Leviticus provided the manual of instructions for the five main offerings the Israelites were to bring to approach God, to have their sins covered, and to be at one with God and others.

They are: The Burnt Offering; The Grain Offering; The Fellowship Offering; The Sin Offering; and The Guilt Offering! We need to emphasize the fact that these sacrifices only “covered” their sin; only the blood of Jesus can wash away our sin!

 

The Burnt Offering! Read Leviticus 1:1-9

 

Notice that God is speaking to Moses at the Tabernacle now not on the mountain!

1.      What does the quality of the offering reveal about the one offering it?

2.      Why must the person bringing the sacrifice place their hands on the head of the animal before making the sacrifice? (Their sins were symbolically laid on the animal therefore the animal would die in his place.)

3.      How would you define the word “atonement”? (In the Old Testament, atonement refers to the process God established whereby humans could make an offering to God to restore fellowship with God. When a person knowingly or unknowingly sinned they were required to bring a sacrifice to God to restore their fellowship. One day each year the High Priest sacrificed an animal for his sin and the sins of the people. This was on the Day of Atonement [see Lev. 16]. He entered the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the blood on the Ark of the Covenant!)

There are two other words closely associated with “atonement”. They are “expiation” and “propitiation”.

Propitiation is appeasing an angry God because we have sinned.  (1 John 2:1-2)

Expiation is removing the barrier that sin creates.

Atonement, propitiation and expiation are all related to reconciliation.

Jesus atoned for our sin! He is the propitiation for our sin! Through His sacrifice on the cross expiation for our sin was accomplished and those who believe in Jesus have been reconciled back to God!

4.      Read Leviticus 16:30. What words describe any emotions this verse brings to you?

5.       How was God’s provision for the burnt offering to atone for sin and its protocols merciful and protective? (God made provision to deal with the people’s sin and allow relationship with Him to happen.)

6.      In what ways did God show grace to the people? (In His kindness God took the guesswork out of the people’s efforts to worship Him. He is never cruel.  We don’t have to wonder what we must do to be right with God! It is only through Jesus.)

7.      How would having to regularly kill an animal to atone for your sins affect the way you view your sins? (Atonement required dealing with the sin of every person in Israel individually and corporately.)

8.      Would it change the way you understand or relate to Jesus’ death on the cross? (The unblemished lamb was the standard for a worthy sacrifice, the most costly and valuable offering possible.)

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, as a payment for our sins, was once for all. Unlike the Old Testament sacrifices, His sacrifice would never need to be repeated.

 

With the burnt offering that atoned for the people’s sins, God showed that sin was a serious matter. An acceptable sacrifice was required to pay for the sin. Next we will look at a different offering—the grain offering

The Grain Offering! Read Leviticus 2:1-3

 

The Grain Offering could be brought any time to the Lord but the “First-fruits Offering” was a special kind of grain offering. This offering was, at least in part, how the priests were provided for!

1.      How is an offering an act of gratitude to God?

2.      How does offering our entire lives to God (Rom. 12:1-2) relate to our gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice for our sin?

3.      What are some things you are thankful to God for?

4.      How can we intentionally show gratitude to God through our words and actions?

5.      How does gratitude affect our worship? (In Psalm 100, thanksgiving and praise are woven together. A heart full of gratitude is sensitive to the Lord.)

Being grateful is an attractive quality. People want to be in community with someone who has a grateful spirit. Just as a complaining attitude can poison the atmosphere in the body of believers, gratitude can sweeten it. Gratitude to God affects our worship individually and corporately. After a leader has been in his or her position for a good amount of time the group begins to take on the outlook of their leader. Be a positive influence!

The grain offering was the people’s way of saying thanks to God for all of His provisions. The third and last offering we will explore today is the offering that represented peace with God—the fellowship offering.

The Fellowship Offering! Read Leviticus 3:1-5

 

After the portions that were to be offered to the Lord were burned the rest was roasted over the fire and the worshiper and the priests would eat it before the Lord to celebrate God’s blessings.

1.      How does the idea of the fellowship offering compliment the previous offerings for atonement and gratitude? (Through worship, God has taught His people multiple aspects of His character, including that we are all made in His image. True fellowship is possible when the relationship is on right terms and there is deep appreciation for the other.)

2.      How does the fellowship offering symbolize the relationship between the worshiper and God? (The fellowship offering demonstrated the intention of God dwelling with His people through the picture of a meal eaten together. Fellowship suggests safe company, time spent sharing, and joy in being together. This type of relationship with our Holy God is possible through Jesus!)

3.      This offering is sometime called the Peace Offering. How would you describe what it means to be at peace with God?

Today we enjoy the confidence and assurance of knowing that through our faith in Jesus, we can have peace and fellowship with God!

Summarize and Challenge!

1.      We don’t present burnt, grain, or fellowship offerings to God today, so how can we show Him our love and devotion?

2.      How do you remain mindful of Christ as the fulfillment of our atonement, devotion, and fellowship?

3.      How can we make Jesus the “Focal Point” in our lives so that everyone who looks at us will be drawn to Him?

Pray that we offer our best to God!

His Presence - Exodus 39:42-40:38

1.      What are some ways we like to celebrate when a big building project is completed? (Open House; Dedication Service; or a Commitment Service; etc.)

2.      How do you feel when a task has been completed with excellence?

We all enjoy the feeling of satisfaction that comes with the completion of a task. Especially a job that we have given our very best effort to get completed in a timely manner.

 

In today’s Bible passage, we will see the work on the tabernacle completed. As we read the Scripture look for what God did once the job was complete.

In Exodus 25-31 the Lord gave Moses specific instructions regarding building the tabernacle and its furnishings. He even told him the names of the skilled craftsmen who He wanted to lead out in the construction. Moses passed on the directions to Bezalel and Oholiab. They began the work as instructed. We learn in Ex. 36:4-7 that the people were so generous that they brought more than was needed so they were told to stop bringing their items.

 

Finished! Read Exodus 39:42-43

 

1.      How would you describe the kind of attitudes necessary for the Israelites to achieve this level of group obedience? (Ex. 36-39 describes the components that were fashioned, carved, woven, and overlaid with gold according to God’s exact instructions over many months.)

2.      What challenge do we find in their actions that we can apply to our lives? (Read Col. 3:17, 23)

3.      What were the benefits of Moses’ inspection and accountability? (Moses blessed the workers. The Hebrew term rendered blessed means “to empower someone or something for success.” Someone has defined the verb as “to impart the capacity to accomplish a designated purpose.”)

4.      How can we bless others in this same way?

5.      How can this passage encourage us to finish well the Christian work God has given us individually? (See 2 Tim. 4:7)

6.      How do past acts of obedience drive us to acts of obedience in the future?

Finishing well as a believer at the end of life requires consistently serving the Lord throughout life—a life of committed service!

 

The people of Israel could enjoy the satisfaction of finishing the work God had assigned. Next we’ll see God’s instructions to Moses regarding the setup of the tabernacle.

 

Assembly Required! Read Exodus 40:1-4

 

Note the clear, precise instructions God gave Moses.

1.      What do you think Moses learned from personally assembling the tabernacle? (We learn best by experience! Moses became intimately familiar with every aspect of the tabernacle by putting it together according to God’s directions. Every piece illustrated something about God’s unfolding plan to restore the human heart to Himself through the Messiah!)

2.      How would focusing the Israelites’ attention on the tabernacle help them understand and communicate with God? (Until now the Israelites understanding of God was somewhere out there or up there. Now God was actually residing in their midst, He was with them everywhere they went.)

3.      What were the dangers if Moses failed to assemble the tabernacle according to God’s directions? (Not only was it the items that gave a picture of God’s plan for a Messiah, the order in which they were placed was also important.)

4.      What are the dangers today of failing to follow God’s directions?

5.      What were the items in the Tabernacle and the significance of each item beginning with the altar of burnt offering?

·         Altar of burnt offering          Where the sacrifice was made

·         Bronze wash basin               For the priest to wash their hands and feet

·         Table of showbread             Jesus the Bread of life

·         Seven-pronged lampstand   Jesus the Light of the World

·         Altar of incense                     Represented Prayers of the

people

·         The Ark of the Covenant      The Mercy Seat-Dwelling Place

of God where the blood of the sacrificial lamb was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement.

God intended for the people to understand the significance of each item and apply the truth to Jesus when He came as the Messiah! The thick veil separating the Holy of holies was torn at Jesus’ death, opening the way for anyone to come through faith in Jesus into the presence of God! Jesus tried to help them understand by saying in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life.” And in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.” But just as it is in our world today, so many are blinded by Satan to the truths of God’s Word!

 

Moses finished his work of setting up the Tabernacle and God showed His approval!

Glory Shown! Read Exodus 40:34-35

 

It is difficult for us to understand exactly how God’s presence in the tabernacle prevented Moses from entering. God’s presence must have been terrifying and at the same time profoundly beautiful and breath taking to look upon!

1.      How would you compare the filling of the tabernacle by the glory of God to the filling of the Christian’s life by the Holy Spirit? (No one who witnessed the arrival of God’s glory could have remained ambivalent about Him. Believers can have reverent peace and joy knowing God’s presence is in their lives. Once the Holy Spirit fills a person they are never the same!)

2.      How does this biblical glimpse of God’s glory give us comfort and confidence as we look to the future? (The Israelites had a great experience here but they did not have God living inside them as we Christians do today. And even what we have is simply a glimpse of the glory we will experience one day.)

Having God’s presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit is reason for us to celebrate!

 

When God’s glory filled the tabernacle, He showed the Israelites His desire to be with His people. With the tabernacle completed, we will see how God led His people on their journey.

God Led! Read Exodus 40:36-38

 

1.      How do you think the visible cloud was a help or a comfort to the people of Israel at that time?

2.      In what ways are God’s Spirit and God’s Word a help and a comfort to us today?

3.      How might it change things if God’s presence were visible in your neighborhood? (Even all of the Israelites didn’t trust and obey Him even though they had the cloud.)

4.      Do you think the Israelites were ever confused as to whether God wanted them to move or stay? (Here is a key: they were watching to see what God was telling them.)

5.      Are we ever confused about what God wants us to do? Why, are we not listening, do we not hear His voice clearly?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      What do we need to do individually to be more confident in doing what God is leading us to accomplish? As a group?

2.      How can we grow to be more sensitive to hearing God’s voice and move when He moves?

3.      Is there a direct connection between obeying God’s leadership and enjoying His presence?

 

Pray that we would be more sensitive to hearing God speak to us and that we would be quick to obey!

Rebellion - Exodus 32:1-14

1.      What is one thing that would devastate you if you lost it?

2.      What is one thing that you think would bring you contentment if you gained it?

An “Idol” is an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship!

3.      Why did God give us the second of the Ten Commandments—“Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.”….? (Even if the idol was made as a representation of God Himself, we would soon be worshiping the idol rather than God whom the idol represented. It also removes an aspect of our faith when we need to “see” the One we worship!)

In our Scripture text today we will see how the Israelites grew restless, turned their hearts away from God, and turned toward worshiping an idol that was meant to represent God but became the object of worship to them.

            God had called Moses to go up on Mount Sinai and God was giving him instructions about how the Israelites were to behave and how to build the Tabernacle. Moses had been on the mountain 40 days. The people became impatient and Aaron was a very weak leader.

 

Rebellion! Read Exodus 32:1-4

 

1.      What led to the people’s rebellion against Aaron and ultimately God? (They were impatient, tired of waiting for Moses to return.)

2.      In what ways did the people rebel against God?

3.      In what ways did Aaron rebel? (There seemed to be no hesitations on Aaron’s part. As recorded in Ex. 24:9-11, Aaron and his two eldest sons had seen God along with Moses and 70 of Israel’s elders. One can’t help but wonder where these leaders were when the people lost faith in the Lord and pleaded with Aaron to make them a god.)

4.      What role does a person’s impatience play in idolatry? (When we become impatient with God we have a tendency to turn to something or someone to meet our need that only God can meet according to His perfect plan for us.)

5.      Ultimately what or whom are we worshiping when we make for ourselves an idol to worship? (When we worship what we have made with our own hands we control and in the end we are worshiping ourselves and our own desires!)

6.      What would you consider the greater influence—impatience, or the desire for a leader?

7.      What can we do to encourage each other toward greater patience in our relationship with God?

8.      How can we pray for pastors and other leaders who may feel immense pressure to give in to people’s demands? (The people’s rebellion was fierce enough to sway Aaron and to drive the faithful Israelites into silence.)

We need to examine ourselves to make sure our worship is directed toward God alone, actively pray for our leadership and stand faithfully against any rebellion toward God!

 

Sin Committed! Read Exodus 32:5-6

1.      What is the relationship between idolatry and foolishness? (See Isaiah 2:8; Isaiah 44:15-17)

2.      Why is it so hard for people who trust idols to see the foolishness of their actions? (Satan blinds their eyes.)

3.      Aaron announced a day of celebration and called it a festival of feast to the Lord, yet it involved idol worship. How can we avoid the trap of mixing dangerous false teachings or false practices with our worship of the true God?

4.      How was Aaron trying to “straddle the fence” and appease both the people and the worship of God? (Aaron had already been chosen as the high priest. God often uses people who seem the least qualified to fulfill His plan.)

Aaron set a bad example for his sons who later were consumed by fire from the altar for approaching God in a way that mocked His holiness—as they had seen their father do.

Aaron didn’t get a “free pass” either. He was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, but died in the wilderness with the rest of the disobedient generation.

 

The Israelites’ foolishness was on display as they offered sacrifices to their golden calf. God’s anger against their foolish rebellion was swift—He wanted to destroy the people.

God’s Anger! Read Exodus 32:7-10

 

1.      How did God describe His people in the passage? (Stiff-necked)

2.      What did God decide their punishment would be?

3.      Has there been a time when God would consider you “stiff-necked”?

Notice that God could still fulfill His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob if He started all over with Moses! Now let’s see the humility and heart of Moses!

 

Appeal for Grace! Read Exodus 32:11-14

 

1.      How would you characterize Moses’ relationship with God after reading his dialogue with Him in this passage? (The freedom Moses felt in approaching God with this prayer indicates a respectful, warm, confident, and trust-filled relationship. In Ex. 32:32 Moses said he was willing to give up his place in God’s kingdom if only the people could be forgiven.)

2.      What character attributes of God are revealed in verses 7-14? (These qualities among others are evident: God’s justice, righteous anger, righteous jealousy, responsiveness to people, desire to be in loving relationship with people, mercy, faithfulness, kindness, protectiveness, nearness, desire for the hearts of people to trust Him enough to be obedient, and grace.)

3.      How does God’s being faithful to His promises give us comfort today?

4.      What do we learn about God’s mercy in this passage? (It is Abundant!)

 

In the end, God’s grace shown through—the same grace He offers to us today, wanting all people to have the opportunity to repent!

See 2 Peter 3:9.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

We, as believers in Jesus, must stand against anything that is in rebellion against God and His Word. Any attempt to worship any person or object other than the one true God will lead to foolishness. Believers can intercede on behalf of the disobedient, asking for God to give them an opportunity to repent.

 

1.      Who/what we worship matters, and lip service to God is not authentic worship. How does your real worship affect your family, close friends, and community? (Be a bright beacon by living a life that is given in worship to your Savior and Lord Jesus. Worship isn’t one day a week, it is how you live your life every day before a lost world around you.)

2.      What are some practical ways we can help one another in guarding against idolatry and placing our trust or finding joy in things other than God? (Commit to pray for each other. When necessary, confront each other in a loving way.)

 

Personal Challenge: Memorize John 4:24—“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Spend time in prayer, worshiping God alone. Ask God to order the priorities of your heart as you worship Him. Ask Him to use the influence He has given you to draw people to worship Him.

 

Pray for Christians around the world as they worship God in spirit and in truth.

Pray for millions living in rebellion against God as they worship idols. Pray that they would have access to and respond to the gospel.

EQUIPPED - EXODUS 25:1-9; 31: 1-6

Describe a time you started a repair or a recipe and then realized you didn’t have the supplies to complete the task.  If you didn’t have the proper resources or you were not equipped the chances are the project didn’t turn out the way you had planned. This week we will see how God equipped and provided the resources for the Israelites and is still doing the same for His people today.

THE OFFERING     Read Exodus 25: 1-7

1.       Where did the items God asked the people to give for the building of the tabernacle come from?

2.       Why is it important that the people were not forced to give toward the tabernacle?

3.       What sacrifices are we called to make when giving to God?

4.       Why do we view possessions as our own?

THE PURPOSE      Read Exodus 25: 8-9

1.       How would you explain the idea of God dwelling with people?

2.       How is this different from the way people usually view God?

3.       What is the significance of following the exact pattern God laid out for the tabernacle?

4.       How does considering the tabernacle and all its aspects inform your understanding of believers as dwelling places for the Holy Spirit?

THE LEADERS      Read Exodus 31: 1-6

1.        In what specific ways did God gift Bezalel and Oholiab for the special tasks He instructed them to do?

2.       Why do you think wisdom was paired with the ability in God’s giving?

3.       How have you seen people respond to God in using God- given talents, abilities, and developed skills for kingdom work?

SUMMERIZE AND CHALLENGE

How would you describe the relationship between God’s provision in our lives and His request of us to give?

PERSONAL CHALLENGE

Evaluate your willingness to give God as He directs you.

Determine to look for and respond to the opportunities God gives you this week.

Commanded - Exodus 20:1-17

1.      What are some of your favorite games to play or watch? (I love to watch football, basketball and baseball.)

2.      Let’s consider football for a moment. What would a football game be without rules to play by and referees to enforce the rules? (Chaos! Complete disorder and confusion. It would not be enjoyable at all!)

The truth is without boundaries any endeavor will spiral downward to utter chaos.

3.      When was the first time you remember realizing standards and rules are in place for your good?

Our natural tendency is to dislike rules. God gave a code of commandments to be obeyed so we can clearly see our bent to sin. Our need for Christ stands out starkly when we begin to understand our sin and its consequences.

Because God’s character is trustworthy, His commands for us can be trusted also. Growth in our understanding of God’s holiness and loving grace facilitates obedience as we acknowledge His wisdom is far beyond ours and that He has our best in mind.  

 

In today’s Scripture passage, we will see that God has given us a clear standard for holy living.

God’s chosen people have reached Mount Sinai, where God first spoke to Moses!

 

The God of the Commandments! Read Exodus 20:1-2

 

1.      How do these verses make clear the basis for God’s authority to set the standard? (God’s identity, His character, and His actions all make His authority clear.)

The commandments God is about to give His people start with a strong assertion of God’s identity. Recognizing His authority was a problem for the Israelites, for the people of Jesus’ day, and for people today. Many misunderstand God’s forbearance as a lack of authority.

2.      Why is it important that God is the One who initiated the covenant at Sinai with His people? (God is the superior agent in this covenant He is about to establish with His people. God’s pattern in interacting with man is to approach and start the conversation. We wouldn’t be able to approach Him. He initiated the covenant with Abraham, with Moses at the burning bush, with the people at Sinai here, and with all people through His Son, Jesus. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…”—John 6:44a.)

“We are made in the image of God and He has made us to worship and serve Him. Sin inverts this truth. We define God in ways that meet our wants and desires. This is the root of all sins.”—Leaders Guide. We should ask ourselves the following question.

3.      Am I worshiping the God of the Bible? Or have I neglected to understand how God has identified Himself, replacing God with a diminished version of Him?

 

God is properly jealous to protect the integrity and uniqueness of His relationship with His people.

Relating To God! Read Exodus 20:3-11

 

1.      In your own words, how does verse 3 say we are to relate to God? (He is to be supreme in our lives! There is none other to be worshiped.)

2.      What is the meaning of verses 4-6 in your own words? (We are not to worship the created but the creator. Even if we designed a bust of Jesus and set it up to be something special, we would have a tendency to worship the item and not Jesus!)

3.      Read verse 7. What are some ways God’s name can be misused other than cursing? (“Let yes be yes and no be no!”—Matt. 5:37)

4.      Why should we set aside one day to rest?

5.      What are we allowed to do on the Sabbath?

6.      What boundaries do we need to put in place to create time for Sabbath each week for ourselves and for our families? (We were created with a need for Sabbath, which brings us space to rest, think, and relate to God and those close to us. The practice of Sabbath is life-giving.)

7.      How is keeping the first four commandments a way of demonstrating love for God?

8.      How are these commands a response to God’s identity as the One who delivered Israel?

9.      What are some of the best ways to honor and love God?

10.  Is it possible to keep the last six commandments without keeping the first four? (In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus uses the same formula—love God, love others! Understanding and submitting to God’s authority leads us to respect proper human authority.)

 

Relating to Society! Read Exodus 20:12-17

 

1.      How do we carry out the commandment to honor our parents?

2.      How does honoring our parents bring about the promise God gave here for doing so? (When respect and honor in the family breaks down it is not long before society begins to crumble. The home is the foundation for society so when the foundation falters the whole of society is affected.)

3.      When is killing not murder? (From the Leader’s Guide: Prohibition against murder did not apply to defending one’s home-Ex. 22:2; to the state’s execution of murderers-Gen. 9:6; to accidental killings-Deut. 19:5; or to a nation’s involvement in certain types of war, i.e. defending one’s homeland.)

4.      What do we learn from the last six commandments about our relationship with each other?

5.      What are practical ways we can show respect and dignity when we relate to others?

6.      Is there an issue not covered in this set of laws? If so, what?

7.      To what level do you agree that all other laws are based on these?

8.      How would you describe a society that fully followed these commands?

We demonstrate our love and commitment to God when we treat people with respect and dignity. The simplest way to live out the Ten Commandments is by loving God and loving others, just as Jesus boiled it down in Matthew 22:37-40!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      Do we give holy living the priority it should have in our lives today?

In order to be accepted by our God, who is holy, all we must do is perfectly obey all the commandments from birth to death! Or since we all know you can’t do that, you must confess and repent of your sin and accept by faith Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for your sin!

2.      What practical steps can we take to pursue holy living in the days ahead? (Stay in the Word of God daily. Stay connected to God’s people through worship and Bible study attendance. When tempted, ask God to help you through the indwelling Holy Spirit!)

3.      Are the Ten Commandments in the New Testament? See below!

·         No other gods.                       Matt. 4:10; 6:33

·         Make no idol                          Matt. 6:24

·         Don’t misuse God’s name    Matt. 5:33-37; 6:9; 23:16-22

·         Remember the Sabbath        Matt. 12:1-13; Mk. 2:23-27

·         Honor your parents             Mk. 7:9-13

·         Do not murder                      Matt. 5:21-24

·         Do not commit adultery       Matt. 5:27-30

·         Do not steal                           Matt. 5:40

·         Do not lie                               Matt. 5:37

·         Do not covet                          Lk. 12:15-34

 

Just this week we have seen once again the breakdown in our society. We have removed God from our homes, almost any public place, our schools, and our courts! The reason our society is crumbling before our very eyes is that we have removed the very foundation upon which a society must be built if it is to endure—The Word of God. Perhaps we need to pray the plea Daniel cried out to God in Daniel 9:4-19.

Read Daniel 9:4-19

Close in prayer!

Sufficient - Exodus 16:1-20

1.      When you think about the “good ol’ days” what comes to your mind?

2.      What do we tend to remember about the “good ol’ days”? (Generally only the good and not the difficulties or hard times.)

How soon we forget about the things we wanted to be different about our past. We remember the good things that we enjoyed.

In spite of their recent and miraculous freedom from slavery, God’s people began to grumble and complain that they weren’t provided for well enough. While their concerns were genuine and valid, they went about voicing them all wrong.

In our study today we will see ways God, through Moses, challenged their perspective, provided what they needed, and confronted their need to learn to trust Him more.

After crossing the Red Sea, God’s people began their journey to Sinai. They needed water and came upon a place called Marah that had water but it was bitter. God instructed Moses to cut a particular tree and throw it into the water. Moses did as instructed and the water became drinkable.

In our text today, they have depleted all the food they brought with them. Now the need for food became prominent.

It is almost as if the people were saying, “I know God provided deliverance and water, but this is different. How will our people numbering around two million be fed!

 

Questioning the Future! Read Exodus 16:1-3

 

It had been almost exactly one month since they had left Egypt. Now they were concerned about their food supplies.

1.      Why do we sometimes prefer the old to the new? (We don’t like change. We only remember the good not the bad.)

2.      How is accepting God’s provision for today an act of trust and faith?

3.      Is it true that “one bad apple will spoil the whole bunch”?

4.      How is that lived out when people are grumbling or complaining?

5.      How can pessimism or doubt spread through a congregation?

6.      How can we guard against letting doubt spread? (We must focus on the positive and encourage those who would be negative to focus on what is good and how God has provided in the past.)

7.      When we grumble and complain against the leadership God has placed over us who are we really complaining about?

8.      When they were back in Egypt what were they crying out to God about? (The bitterness of their slavery.)

As we have said, the people’s concerns were valid but the way they went about voicing them was all wrong. They had allowed fear and doubt to cloud their ability to correctly see the past, present, and future! Some complaints constituted acts of unbelief, disobedience, and rebellion against God’s authority. Trusting God is a choice, and not always the immediately easy choice in a given situation.

 

Now let’s see God’s response to the people’s concerns.

Questioning Their Obedience! Read Exodus 16:4-12

 

1.      In what way was God’s provision for them and His instructions a test? (If they didn’t fully trust God they would try to gather more than enough for just one day. By limiting how much they gathered they were demonstrating their trust in God that He would provide again tomorrow.)

2.      Why was it so important for the people to trust and obey God in these simple instructions regarding the food?

3.      Which is more challenging—to obey God in the simple things or to obey in the hard things?

4.      How is obedience without trust different from obedience with trust? (Obedience without trust is simply saying, “I don’t believe this will work but I’ll do it!”)

5.      How did God speak to Moses? (Ex. 33:11 says the Lord spoke to Moses “face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend.”)

6.      How does God speak to us? (His Word. Circumstances. His messengers—preachers, evangelists and teachers. What God says to us in other ways will never conflict with His Word!)

7.      What is God’s stated purpose in His response to their need in the wilderness?  (Verse 12. “Then you will know that I am Yahweh your God!” God’s desire to be in relationship with people is a distinguishing mark of His character throughout Scripture and human history. Every believer has a testimony that repeats this theme uniquely. He created us to be in relationship with Him!)

 

God’s desire is that we obey, and as we do this we strengthen our trust in Him. Now see how God’s provision matched the people’s needs perfectly.

 

Questioning the Provision! Read Exodus 16:13-18

 

1.      How would you describe the provisions God made for His people in this passage?

2.      Where did these quail come from at precisely the time God told them they would come? (These quail were a little smaller than the quail we are familiar with and were migratory birds. After flying across the Red Sea they were tired and settled down among the people of God. But that is not normal for a wild bird. Even if the quail were migratory they came at exactly the time God said they would come. The next time God provided quail for His people in the wilderness is recorded in Num. 11:31-32.)

3.      How can not knowing what something is or how it was provided cause a person to question that provision? (We must be careful when God makes provision for us that we don’t simply credit it to a coincidence that was coming to us anyhow and God didn’t provide it.)

4.      How can a person’s focus on what was provided get in the way of being thankful for that provision? (Do you think the people were thankful for the quail and manna? There is no indication in the rest of this chapter that the people paused to thank God for what He had done for them!)

5.      What role do expectations play in our ability to be satisfied? (We see in the Israelites the familiar tendency to trust the provisions rather than the Provider. Trusting the Provider more than we trust our provisions frees believers to worship God above all things and share generously.)

6.      Why can gratitude be hard to come by? (I’m afraid we have the attitude that we are entitled to the blessings God showers on us rather than being humbled that He would even acknowledge us and meet our needs.)

God’s encouragement to the people to obey, and requiring some effort on their part, didn’t mean God was indifferent to their hardship. In fact, God’s great love for them motivated Him to free, lead, and strengthen them.

Notice that whatever was gathered met their need. God alone gives eternal life, satisfying our deepest spiritual hunger.

7.      How much mercy and grace do you need? (God has an abundant supply!

 

Questioning the Next Meal! Read Exodus 16:19-20

 

1.      How did some of the people disobey God’s instructions and what happened?

2.      What happens when we disregard God’s instructions?

3.      Why do you think the people disobeyed this simple instruction from Moses?

4.      In what ways did the people’s lack of obedience reveal a lack of trust in God? (Saving manna to eat the next day demonstrated a lack of faith that God would provide for tomorrow!)

5.      Why are we tempted to hoard God’s provisions? (We feel most comfortable with a backup plan, just in case things don’t work out or God doesn’t come through like we think He will.  The stinky, rotten manna is a stark picture of the value of man’s back up plans when compared with God’s trustworthy guidance.)

6.      How does God’s daily provision foster dependence on and trust in God?

7.      The Israelites ate manna for 40 years in the wilderness but when they crossed over into Canaan at Gilgal the manna abruptly stopped. How have you found God more than sufficient to meet life’s necessities?

8.      How does the Model Prayer address our daily needs?

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      What lesson can we take away from this episode of the Israelites’ journey and their questioning in the wilderness? (We face the same kinds of decisions about whether to fully trust God to meet our daily needs.)

Questions to ponder:

2.      In what areas of your life do you have the most difficulty obeying God?

3.      How does that challenge relate to your willingness to trust God?

4.      For what do you need to trust God as the next step in your obedience to Him?

5.      God uses our spiritual family to meet our needs sometimes. How can you show appreciation to those God has worked through to meet your needs?

 

Look for opportunities to trust God more in your daily choices and plans.

 

Thank God for His perfect provision and ask Him to help you respond in obedience to Him in every aspect of your life!

Victory - Exodus 14:1-31

1.      Has there been a time in your life when you were following the Lord, only to find yourself “between a rock and a hard place?” (Teachers, be prepared to share from your own experience if no one else shares.)

2.      What did God teach you during that time?

The Israelites were trapped by the sea on one side and the Egyptian army on the other, with no visible means of escape. Yet they had followed God to the exact place He wanted them to be.

Suddenly the history of God’s faithfulness—even recent history—wasn’t enough to give them confidence in God’s plan and power. Fear and uncertainty became all consuming. God asked them to trust Him with the victory they couldn’t yet see.

As we consider the Israelites’ actions and attitudes let’s turn the spotlight on our attitudes and actions when God calls on us to trust Him in seemingly impossible situations! There are times when we are exactly where God wants us and yet there is no obvious solution to our situation. In those times we are forced to trust God as our only means to realize victory!

 

(If time permits, consider reading Exodus 14:1-12.)

Notice in Ex. 14:4 that all of this was so that God would receive glory.

1.      Do we desire deliverance from our circumstances so that God receive glory or so we can simply be freed from our difficulties and perhaps even receive recognition for ourselves?

The Setting! Read Exodus 14:13-18

 

2.      What fears and uncertainties did the Israelites have here? (God instructed His people not to fear, to stand firm, and to entrust the fight to Him before He told them specifically what He would do with the Egyptians or the Red Sea.)

3.      How did Moses express his faith in verses 13-14? (God had not yet told Moses how He would deliver the people but Moses knew He would deliver them.)

4.      What insight did verse 14 reveal about The Lord?

5.      What role did faith play in the situation the Israelites faced? (It was absolutely necessary for Moses to trust God as leader and for the people to trust both Moses and God.)

6.      Which of the fears the Israelites faced are familiar to you? (Scripture urges us again and again to not be afraid. We can find comfort in knowing God is victorious and able to deliver His people.)

Giving in to fear constricts perspective and prevents us from moving forward.

7.      What resources, habits, or convictions keep us equipped to go where God leads? (Eph. 6:10-20—Soldier prepared for battle.)

8.      What may we need to let go of or change to stay ready to respond to God’s leading? (Rich young ruler in Matt. 19:22.)

The wonderful truth is that we can entrust all our relationships and possessions safely to the Lord and find freedom!

 

Act 1: The Separation! Read Exodus 14:19-20

 

The indication here is that the “cloud” provided light for the Israelites and utter darkness for the Egyptians as it stood to separate them. No one doubted that God was the dominate power.

1.      What words would you use to fill in the blank in the following statement? The Cloud equals God’s __________! (Some possible responses: glory; guidance; protection; presence; etc.)

2.      How does the promise of God’s presence give hope?

3.      How does the promise of His presence impact a person’s faith?

4.      How might seeing God’s actions with your physical eyes impact your willingness to trust Him more deeply? (Jesus’ Disciple, Thomas, is a good example. But there were people who saw Jesus bring the dead to life that walked away without trusting Him.)

Authentic, healthy faith in the Lord cannot be based solely on an assured situational outcome. Many times God’s way is not what we envision!

  

Act 2: The Crossing! Read Exodus 14:21-22

 

1.      For Moses and the Israelites, sight followed obedience, not the other way around. Imagine stepping into perfectly dry ground between the walls of water. Was that an act of faith on the part of the people?

2.      How does this miraculous event help you understand freedom from sin? (Often God asks us to trust Him before the outcome becomes visible. Paul described anyone without Christ as slaves to sin in Romans 6:12-22. Being freed from slavery is a powerful image, demonstrating the hopelessness and destructive power of sin and the dilemma every person faces, and our desperate need for the help only Jesus can give.)

3.      What is the relationship between faith and obedience? (It is like the relationship between life and breath—there isn’t one without the other.)

Faith finds its expression through obedience!

 

Act 3: The Victory! Read Exodus 14:23-28

 

1.      What words or phrases in this passage point to the fact that God is paying attention and is at work?

2.      What are some other examples in Scripture that demonstrate the fact that God won the victory? (Jericho, Gideon, Elijah and the Baal worshipers, Jesus’ resurrection, Peter and John with the lame man at the Temple asking for alms.)

3.      How do you think witnessing God’s mighty power impacted the Israelites that day?

4.      How can witnessing a display of God’s power cause us to gain a deeper understanding of God?

5.      What do these verses teach about God’s judgment? (We don’t hear a lot today about God’s judgment. Being an enemy of God is serious business. The Egyptians rejected God, though He was gracious to give them warnings and opportunities to acknowledge Him as God above all others. All people are sinners and face God’s judgment without the intervening sacrifice of Jesus. His judgment is for eternity.)

6.      How are you moved to worship God in response to these verses? (We are often more comfortable with God as Suffering Servant than God as mighty Victor. He is both, and so much more. He is everything we have ever needed or will ever need Him to be!)

Israel had deeply feared their Egyptian overlords for hundreds of years. Seeing them overwhelmed by God’s power changed everything. God’s stated intention was for the Egyptians to know He was Yahweh. Knowing He is God is the beginning point to knowing Him. In Exodus 15 the Israelites expressed their praise in song.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

If time permits, read Exodus 14:29-31.

 

1.      How has this study enhanced your faith in God as Deliverer and Victor? (God knows how to deliver His people. He’s done it! Slavery to freedom; dead in sin to alive in Christ!)

God will never use His might in a way that is unjust. He is good. He wants us to seek Him and He will fight for us!

 

Reflecting on God’s saving of His people, how are you encouraged? Say a prayer of thanks to God for doing the work to save you from the sin to which you were once captive!

Liberation - Exodus 12:1-13

1.      What are some days we set aside to remember special events in our lives and the life of our nation? (Birthdays, Anniversaries, New Years Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Patriots Day/9-11, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day. The list almost seems endless.)

2.      What is the purpose of setting aside these days and what do we do on these days? (We set them aside to remember what happened on these various days. Some are joyous and some are solemn, but all call us to remember.)

In our Scripture text today, God commands His people to establish an observance to commemorate their liberation from Egyptian slavery. This was an observance they were to continue year after year. The Orthodox Jewish community still observes the Passover to this very day.

The last of the ten plagues God brought on Egypt was the most severe.  It would bring the death of the first born male of both people and animals. After which Pharaoh would beg Moses and Aaron to take the Israelites away!

 

Prepared! Read Exodus 12:1-5

 

1.      What message did God send His people by reordering their calendar according to their deliverance from Egypt? (This is a new beginning for them. God’s provision at Passover defined the identity of His people and illustrated His ways to all nations. God’s movement to deliver His people has unique centrality. It is the essential point upon which every other historical event balances. God’s salvation story with His people gives meaning to every experience and decision in our lives.)

2.      What was to be the characteristics of the lamb that was chosen for the sacrifice? (Without blemish., one year old male sheep or goat.  See Mal. 1:8)

3.      It is not referred to in this passage, but what did the lamb here point to in the future? (The perfect Lamb of God that would be the sacrifice for the sin of the entire world. Jesus’ blood was worth enough not only to cover every person’s sin but to pay the complete price.  See Rom. 3:25, Heb. 9:14.)

4.      How does preparation for a tradition or event add to the significance of the tradition or event?

5.      What preparations help you better see the significance of a practice like the Lord’s Supper?

 

Sacrificed! Read Exodus 12:6-7

 

1.      What do you think was the purpose of bringing the lamb in to live with you for four days? (Perhaps to be sure there was no blemish and the family would grow close to the lamb. It is truly a sacrifice if it is one we come to care for as we look after it.)

2.      Why was blood required rather than another type of sacrifice (grain, etc.)? (Slaughtering the best lamb required the people’s faith that God would do as He said. God began to teach His people the precept of blood as covering or payment for sin, rather than as a sacrificial offering of worship. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of this truth.)

3.      What was accomplished when God told His people to mark their doorposts and lintels with the blood, after all, didn’t God already know which houses belonged to His people? (In order for death to pass over, blood had to be specifically applied to their houses. This was another step of faith, and was very personal to every household.)

4.      How does the sacrificial lamb point to Jesus and how is the blood applied to us today? (We accept by faith what Jesus did for us at the cross and His blood cleanses our hearts of sin.)

 

God gave additional directions about how the sacrificed lamb was to be eaten.

Hurried! Read Exodus 12:8-11

 

1.      What words or phrases indicate they were to eat this meal in a hurry? (It was to be cooked quickly; eaten dressed for travel with shoes on and staff in hand. They were to eat it quickly. If they were to eat it dressed for travel surely they had packed everything they would take with them—though not specified.)

2.       Why was the bread to be unleavened bread? (There wasn’t time for yeast to be used to cause the bread to rise.)

3.      What did the bitter herbs represent? (The bitterness of their slavery in Egypt.)

Roasting the lamb was the quickest way to cook it thoroughly. Likewise, there should be an urgency about sharing the gospel and encouraging our lost friends and family to accept Jesus before it is too late.

4.      How does the manner in which the Israelites ate the sacrifice serve as a demonstration of faith in God?

5.      What does this teach us about obedience to God? (Obedience anticipates that God will act on His promise. Obedience to God at any time should be immediate! Failing to put the blood on the doorpost and lentel would have resulted in death.)

6.      Why do we think we have unlimited time to consider and obey what God is teaching us? (Though God is infinitely patient, our limitations as humans placed within time mean that opportunities to respond to God’s leading can pass out of reach. God’s call to obedience is always timely, urgent, and a call to trust Him enough to be actively ready.)

 

God then reminded Moses of what would happen during the Passover meal.

Delivered! Read Exodus 12:12-13

 

1.      God said “I will” three times in these verses. What did He say He would do? (“pass through the land…”; “execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt”; “pass over you.”)

All in one act God accomplished a tremendous demonstration of His power in a variety of ways.

2.      What is the significance of God using the phrase “I will?” (Yahweh was in control of the situation and could be trusted to keep His promises!)

3.      What does this passage teach us about God’s judgment and salvation?

4.      The Israelites would remember that day in history with an annual celebration. What are some ways believers today remember their liberation from sin through faith in Jesus? (I realize some of this seems so redundant but it is important that we remember and celebrate what Jesus has done for us. One excellent way is to participate in the observance of “The Lord’s Supper” at every opportunity.)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Just as the Israelites were helpless in their situation in Egypt we are powerless to free ourselves from slavery to sin. Only God can do that through Jesus. Freedom is available to all who will apply Jesus’ freely given blood to their life by faith in Him.

 

If you’ve already made that decision for Jesus consider the following:

-          On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your level of preparedness to do what God calls you to do and to go where God calls you to go.

-          Identify your reasons for rating yourself as you did.

-          What do your reasons reveal about your trust in God?

-          What action do you need to take to demonstrate complete trust in God?

 

Thank You, Father, for providing Your only Son as a sacrifice for our sin. May we have a renewed urgency for sharing the gospel with our lost family and friends.

Confrontation - Exodus 7:1-13

1.      What are some things that we can be stubborn about?

2.      Is stubbornness a positive or negative trait? (Most of us would view “stubbornness” as a negative trait, I think. The positive traits that are related to stubbornness are tenacity, persistence, determination, perseverance, etc.)

Stubborn is defined as “having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.”

Stubbornness can be very much related to pride and self-centeredness, all of which hinder our being obedient to God.

3.      What are some potential dangers of stubbornness?

4.      Think of a time when you have let stubbornness get the best of you. How did that experience open the door for you to learn about God and His power?

 

In today’s study we will discover how Pharaoh’s stubbornness became costly to his country. In fact, if we consider closely the impact of the ten plagues God brought on Egypt it was as if there had been a series of natural disasters, the totality of which makes tropical storm Harvey seem minor!

 

Strategy Explained! Read Exodus 7:1-5

 

1.      What promises did God make to Moses in these verses, some of which seem strange? (Pharaoh will not listen to you; I will harden Pharaoh’s heart; I will demonstrate many signs and wonders; I will bring my people out of Egypt.)

2.      Does it seem strange to you that God would “harden Pharaoh’s heart”? (There are passages were God says He hardened Pharaoh’s heart, times when Pharaoh hardened his heart and times when the Scripture simply says Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. As one writer put it, “This is a mystery that we must embrace with humility and faith.” “The mystery of the intersection of divine sovereignty and human responsibility.”)

Is it possible that Pharaoh’s stubbornness and pride became stronger every time God attempted to humble him? Just a thought.

3.      How important do you think it was for God to explain to Moses that Pharaoh would become more defiant?

4.      How could knowing the end result help Moses endure the defiance of Pharaoh? (Remember when God spoke to Moses from the bush He told Moses everything that was going to happen. It seems, at times, that Moses forgot.)

 

Simple Obedience! Read 7:6-7

 

1.      Why was Moses’ and Aaron’s exact obedience so important? (Our disobedience, including our partial obedience, confuses the messages from God that He asks us to convey to others. It gives us the false impression we have the right to pick and choose whether or not to obey Him.)

2.      How does simple and complete obedience demonstrate faith? (“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17 NIV. See Romans 6:16; 1 John 5:2)

3.      Why did God seem to go out of His way to be sure we knew how old Moses and Aaron were in this saga?

4.      Why do we sometimes discount our responsibility to obey God because of our age or experience? (Consider these examples in addition to Moses and Aaron—Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Hannah, Zechariah and Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, and so on! God called these and many others to obey and be used in astounding ways at an advanced age. He also used those with little or no experience like David, Samuel and Timothy. God chooses people based on His will, not our age or experience!)

5.      When have you used age or experience as an excuse to following God’s call on your life?

 

Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, knowing the stubbornness they were about to face.

Signs and Wonders! Read Exodus 7:8-13

 

1.      What was demonstrated by Aaron’s rod eating the others?

2.      What was Pharaoh’s response to this demonstration of power?

3.      How can God prepare us for an unexpected and difficult faith challenge? (We never know when we may face a challenging situation. As believers we must “put on the full armor of God” daily—Eph 6:11. We are urged to be ready to face opposition, and familiarity with God’s Word and His ways brings us confidence in God’s power in and through us.)

Use “The Ten Plagues” poster to review the plagues God brought on Egypt. When the final plague of the “Death Angel” was completed Egypt had been utterly destroyed and their valuables left with the Israelites.

4.      How does Pharaoh’s repeatedly going back on his word mirror characteristics of false repentance? (In the instances Pharaoh relented and promised to let the people go, His fear of God was shallow and short-lived. He seemed to want God’s favor when hardships were intense, but once relief came, Pharaoh showed he had no real interest in knowing God or yielding to Him.)

5.      What is the difference between false repentance and true repentance?

 

God’s heart has always been for all nations to know Him. The plagues He sent to Egypt had Israel’s deliverance as their motive. He also revealed His sovereign power clearly to every Egyptian. I’m not so sure that the Egyptians viewed Yahweh as only the God of the Israelites. We must communicate that God is for all nations and peoples. He is the only true God!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

God displays His power, reminding all peoples that He alone is worthy of worship.

Think of the slavery the Israelites endured in Egypt as a picture of the domain of sin in the world. God went to great lengths to bring His people out of slavery triumphantly and in full reliance on Him. They never could have achieved this on their own. In the same way, God has gone to incredible lengths to buy His people out of slavery to sin through His Son , Jesus.

1.      What are some of the powers of this world that hold people in captivity and keep them in the dark about Jesus and His power to deliver from bondage?

2.      What can we do to point people to the greater power of God?

 

When you pray, ask God to bring this image to life for you. Spend some time thinking about slavery to sin and the ultimate hopelessness of living without Christ.

Someone you know needs to be freed by Jesus. Pray for an opportunity to share what God has done to free you and that He is ready to free them as well.

Reluctance - Exodus 3:1-4:16

1.      Think of a time when you were completely out of your comfort zone. What fears did you have during those moments?

2.      What can cause a person to doubt his or her ability to accomplish a challenging task?

3.      How do your doubts feed your reluctance and hesitation to act?

God gives many strengths and talents to His people, but sometimes He calls us to act in areas where we feel the weakest or least confident. God desires that we remain obedient, trusting Him despite our reluctance or fear.

Though Moses feared public speaking, what people would think, and repercussions of facing his past, God promised to provide everything Moses needed, asking him to trust and obey.

Over the next three months we will examine significant passages in Exodus and Leviticus. Exodus presents to us the formative revolutionary event that brings a group of people into existence as a national political entity. The people of Israel become the fledgling Nation of Israel.

            In Exodus we see seven themes: Bondage; Deliverance; Sacrifice; Redemption; God’s Nature; The Law; and Continuation and Expectation.

            In Leviticus the following themes are developed: Holiness; Sacrifice; Ceremonial Purity; and Worship.

(Consider using the questionnaire about Moses to begin the lesson.)

Today we will see that God calls and empowers people to serve Him and His purposes.

 

The Approach! Read Exodus 3:1-6

 

1.      How did God get Moses’ attention? (Notice God took the initiative to reveal Himself to Moses.)

2.      How would you characterize Moses’ initial response when he observed the burning bush and realized it was something only God could do? (Moses’ first response of reverence and fear of the Lord made him attentive to further conversations with God.)

3.      How did God establish His identity? (Moses had surely been exposed to many impostor gods in his lifetime. God was very clear as to who He was.)

4.      What does this tell us about Moses’ knowledge of his ancestry?

5.      What does our response to God reveal about our view of God?

6.      What does our response to God reveal about our view of ourselves?

God showed Moses this was something bigger than just the present situation. God personally brought Moses into His plan to dwell with His people and bring them into a whole new way of life.

 

The Assignment! Read Exodus 3:7-10

 

1.      What did God reveal to Moses in verses 7-9? (God had heard the cry of His people in Egypt and had compassion on them. God was ready to act on behalf of His people.)

2.      How did God describe the land He was going to give to His people?

3.      What do these actions here reveal about God? (No matter how long it takes, God will fulfill His promises that He makes. He had promised Abraham that his descendents would possess the land of Canaan. They had been in Egypt 400 years!)

4.      How can this depiction of God in these verses comfort you in times of suffering and affliction?

5.      How do the cross and the resurrection of Jesus remind us that God has ultimately heard our cries?

6.      What did God tell Moses to do in this passage?

We see a pattern throughout Scripture of a sending God who asks people to trust and obey Him. God is at work in the past, present, and future to bring about His will. We can trust that when He invites us to respond to Him He is already preparing the person and working in the circumstances!

 

God told Moses what He would do and that He was going to use Moses to make it all happen. Moses offered some options.

 

The Authority! Read Exodus 3:11-14

 

1.      What do you think is the “real” question behind the questions Moses posed? (Who am I?—a nobody! Who are You?)

2.      Who did God say He was? (I AM! Not was or will be or has been, but I AM! The eternal God, Creator of all that exists and Sustainer of the universe! The Everlasting!)

3.      In a world filled with unreliable people and broken promises, how does God’s promise enable us to trust Him despite our challenges or circumstances?

4.      How did knowing God’s identity bring assurance to Moses?

5.      How does knowing God’s identity bring assurance to you?

 

Moses came up with every excuse you can think of to get out of what God was calling him to do. God gave him a couple of demonstrations to show the people so they would know God had sent him. His staff turned into a snake and back to a rod again. His hand became leprous and was clean again.

The Assurance! Read Exodus 4:13-16

 

1.      How would you paraphrase Moses’ last excuse in verse 13?

2.      Do you consider God’s response to be firm, diplomatic, conciliatory, or impatient?

3.      How do we push God to the limits when He tells us to do something?

4.      Numbers 12:3 tells us that Moses was the most humble man on earth. How is God’s power magnified through a person like Moses?

5.      How did God plan on demonstrating His power through Moses’ weaknesses?

6.      What does this passage teach about how God uses our weaknesses to accomplish His purposes?

7.      Aaron was on the way before Moses ever knew God was sending him to rescue his people. How does God meet our fears of obedience like He did with Moses?

8.      How do you see God affirming spiritual community in this passage?

God calls every believer to walk with Him in faith. What He asks us to do, He will empower us to complete and bring support. He relates to us individually and as a people.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      What role does God desire you to play in redeeming His people?

2.      What steps do you need to take to carry out the mission you know God has for you?

3.      What holds us back from surrender and obedience? The cost? The fear of failure? The fear of rejection? Risking the approval of others?

4.      What do our excuses reveal about our faith in God?

 

Take time to examine your life and what keeps you from consistent obedience. Habits don’t change on their own, so make a plan for obeying God when He calls!

The Longing - Psalm 42:1-11

1.      What are some things that make us feel depressed? (Weather; Health; Finances; Our weight; Disappointments; Poor economy; Loss of a job or promotion; Taxes; Difficult family situations; God’s silence; Combination of all the above.)

It is not a sin to have feelings of depression.

2.      Who are some people we label as “heroes of the faith” who experienced severe depression? (There are many examples in the Bible of Godly people going through times of depression. Moses, Jeremiah, David, Elijah, Job, even Jesus on the cross—and the list goes on.)

It is easy to find ourselves in circumstances that overwhelm us.

3.       What is the difference between being depressed and being in despair? (Depressed is a feeling of sadness or gloom; despair is a feeling of hopelessness.)

It is normal to have times when we feel down or depressed over our circumstances, but Christians are never without hope.

4.      What are some ways we contribute to our own depression or feelings of hopelessness? (Withdrawing from church; pulling away from Christian brothers and sisters; failure to feed on God’s Word; etc.)

Today’s study will show us how we can discover fresh hope, even in the midst of overwhelming circumstances.

5.      When life is overwhelming how can we find hope for joyful living?

Psalms 42 and 43 have the same theme and the refrain in 42:5 and 11is repeated in 43:5. Many scholars believe Psalm 42 and 43 were one psalm originally. The psalmist was in a state of depression and even seems, at times, to be in despair. But he preaches to himself about how to overcome these feelings.

 

Thirsty! Read Psalm 42:1-4

 

1.      What if you could come to church only three times a year? How do you think you would feel in the times between those visits? (Sometimes distance prevented even devout Jews from making the pilgrimage to the sanctuary in Jerusalem. We will read later about the Hermon Mountain Range in far northeast Israel. Perhaps the psalmist lived near there—a good distance from Jerusalem!)

2.      How did the psalmist describe his agony in these verses? (It is impossible to imagine someone being thirsty and not knowing they are thirsty. The problem isn’t knowing when you’re thirsty. The problem is knowing what will satisfy your thirst. 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by water. We can live only three days without water. The human body is 60% water. And we need 64 ounces of water daily. Water is essential to our existence physically and God is essential to our spiritual existence!)

3.      Have you ever been “dying of thirst,” what does it feel like? (See John 7:37-39)

4.      What kind of thirst is the psalmist experiencing? (Spiritual.)

5.      What is the one solution given in the psalm for satisfying thirst?

6.      What evidence do you see in our world today indicating that people know they are spiritually thirsty?

7.      With what do people attempt to satisfy their thirst?

8.      What does a thirst for God look like?

9.      How can believers create a thirst for God? (The life we live before others should look like a crystal clear stream of cold refreshing water that they too can drink from.)

10.  How do you feel when unbelievers say to you in your depression, “Where is your God?”?

In verse 4 the psalmist remembers the time when he led the procession as they went to the Temple to worship and longs for such a time!

 

At the same time the palmist was dying of thirst, he felt as though he was drowning in his depression and despair. Let’s look at how that is possible! Listen for words connected with water.

Drowning! Read Psalm 42:5-8

 

1.      What words are connected with water here? (Jordan River, streams from mountains, deep, waterfalls, breakers, billows.)

2.      How would you paraphrase verse 5? (The psalmist asked himself why he was so depressed. Then he gave himself the solution to his depression. But to know the solution and apply it to my life are two different things.)

3.      Why is it important to know why you are depressed? (Times of sadness can range from having the blues to clinical depression requiring professional help.)

4.      How can unresolved despair produce more despair?

5.      What role should a person’s faith play when it comes to facing a situation that could cause despair in life? (Trust in God no matter what. Remember He is in control and will be with us and comfort us. Seek what God is trying to teach us.)

6.      What reasons did the psalmist give for continuing? (Repeating truths about God and seeing God as our Rock are two of several ways to keep going despite adversity. Focusing on God even when you don’t feel like it is the beginning of the way out. “Put your hope in God;” “praise Him;” “His faithful love by day;” “His song in the night;” “a prayer to the God of my life.”)

7.      Placing our hope in God (v. 5), praising God(v.5), remembering God (v.6), and praying to God (v8) are all appropriate responses when we feel like we are drowning in despair. Of these four, which have come easier to you when you’ve dealt with discouragement?

8.      Which are easier said than done?

 

Just like in real life, the psalmist didn’t immediately bounce back from despair. Instead, he went from feeling like he was drowning to feeling crushed.

Crushed! Read Psalm 42:9-11

 

1.      What different reason for his depression does the psalmist reveal here? (Here he talks about predators and adversaries. Up to this point he hasn’t talked about the effect of other human beings on his emotional state.)

2.      We grew up hearing “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” Is that true?

It’s significant that verse 10 compares verbal taunts to the crushing of bones. Scripture acknowledges that words really can cause harm. We have all been hurt by someone’s words or actions.

3.      How does the promise of God’s presence serve as encouragement during hurtful times?

4.      How does His faithful presence function as proof of His future promises?

God understands and sympathizes with our troubles (Heb. 4:15). In fact, Jesus experienced many of the same problems we do while on earth.

5.      How does God use people to supply solutions to our troubles?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Just as humans need water more than anything other than oxygen to survive, we need regular time with God to quench our spirits, especially when we feel like we are drowning in discouragement.

 

Review your regular habits, especially your habit of spending time with God.

1.      What time of day is best for you?

2.      How can you schedule a daily time with God that will not get pushed aside by other obligations?

3.      What can you do to make sure you protect your daily time with God?

4.      How many of us have experience deep discouragement sometime this year? Month? Week? Now?

 

Let’s commit to pray for each other this week.

The Protector - Psalm 141:1-10

1.      When are we more likely to pray to God most fervently? (For most of us, it is when we are up against the wall, so to speak. We are in a desperate situation, trouble is upon us and we need help.)

2.      When you think of prayer what generally comes to your mind?

When I think of how I should pray, I most often think of the Model Prayer Jesus prayed in Matthew 6.

In our study today, David was in a difficult situation. He may have been fleeing from either King Saul or his own son, Absalom. But as we read his lament he seems concerned about being led into sin and asked God to keep him from this evil.

3.      Are you inclined to pray that God keep you from sin as well as protect you from your enemies?

As we look at Psalm 141, let’s try to figure out what or who is causing David the most distress!

 

The Plea! Read Psalm 141:1-2

 

1.      How would you describe David’s emotional state; Is he peaceful? Distressed? Calm? Anxious?

The word “Lord” used in verse 1 is the covenant name for God.

2.      How did David compare his prayers to what took place during worship in the Temple? (Prayers as incense and his praise to the evening offering.)

David had grown spiritually past his time in that he understood that he could approach God directly without a priest.

According to Exodus 30:7-8, offerings of incense were made in the morning and evening, and the raising of hands was a common practice in worship. It indicated both obedience and surrender.

3.      Why is an attitude of worship and surrender important when we are asking God to help us?

4.      Clearly, David was distressed and anxious when he went to God in prayer in this psalm. Why do we often treat prayer as a last option?

5.      What makes some people question whether God hears their prayers? (Maybe they haven’t maintained a close relationship with God during good times, so they wonder if God will hear then in their bad times.)

It is perfectly appropriate for us to ask God for help respectfully, but we don’t have to beg Him. He is persuaded by His love for us, not our fancy words or urgent pleadings. Tim Keller, (Pastor, theologian and Christian apologist) is quoted as saying, “We are more sinful than we ever dared believe…and more loved than we ever hoped!” But we certainly do not have the right to demand anything from God!

 

1.      How many of us need a “guard for our mouth”?

The Requests! Read Psalm 141:3-7

 

2.      Notice in verse 3, David asked for help with his speech, while in verse 4 he asked for protection from the wicked. How are these two requests connected?

3.      How do our words reveal our associations and relations?

4.      Many translations appear to interpret verse 5 as a faithful friend of David’s. How can we actually help each other obey God? (Because one Christian helping keep another in line with God’s Word is seldom done well or accepted well, many believers avoid this responsibility.)

5.      What excuses do we make for not helping a fellow believer in this area? (We say: “It’s not my business” or “They won’t listen anyway” or “They may say clean up your own life before you try to tell me how to live mine.”)

This is one reason we must live circumspect lives!

6.      Read verse 5. When have you seen a godly person who has exemplified this psalm for you? (We all need people who will tell us the truth, rather than reinforce what we want to hear. These people truly care, and this care brings us the direction and comfort we crave. If you listen and heed this friend, your relationship and fellowship will grow deeper!)

7.      Proverbs 27:6 says, “The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.” Neither this verse nor Psalm 141:5 mean abuse or cruelty. What do they mean?

By the end of verse 5, David has shifted from talking about his own desire for accountability to praying that the wicked would be held accountable for their wickedness. This is not a vindictive prayer, he is simply asking for God’s justice to be carried out.

8.      What imagery is used in verses 6-7? (It is a sad fact, but sometimes evil people will not listen until they have suffered the consequences for their sin. Verse 7 seems to describe the righteous suffering at the hands of the wicked. Sheol seems to indicate that some had to suffer to the point of death.)

The truth is wicked people hurt others. David rightly yearned for this wickedness to stop. God also yearns for wicked behavior to stop. He weeps when people hurt each other. As certain wicked influences move out of the picture, teachable people find it easier to hear and heed God’s instruction.

9.      Who are a few people to whom you look to help you live a godly life and avoid temptation? (Wife; family; close Christian friends; in general, other Christian friends; lost people I may be trying to share the gospel with around me.)

 

The Promise! Read Psalm 141:8-10

 

David has shifted back to focusing on himself rather than the wicked.

1.      Notice verse 9. What are some examples of wicked behaviors and the nets those behaviors create? (Sins that are often acceptable in church—gossip can come in many disguises, cliques, critical words, racial prejudice, economic bias, etc.)

2.      When do even Christians create nets of evil?

3.      Why do we fall into those nets?

4.      How would verse 5 help with this?

5.      How does keeping our focus on Jesus help us avoid the traps and dangers found in this world?

6.      What makes recognizing Satan’s traps so difficult?

7.      David lived approximately 3,000 years ago. How long will your influence last? (As far back as we can trace my lineage we have had preachers in my family. My great, great, great grandfather; my great, great grandfather; my great grandfather; and an uncle were all preachers. That’s a period of about 200 years. My prayer is that I will have some influence to pass the gospel on down through future generations also.)

8.      What habits, persons, or daily decisions make focusing on God easier? (Sin and temptations are constantly before us, finding areas of weakness we didn’t even realize we had. God’s Spirit will empower us to be faithful no matter what tries to ensnare us.)

We must take both the power of God and the persistence of temptation seriously!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Satan will make sure there are traps and snares all around us, trying to destroy our life and witness. But the Holy Spirit indwells each Christian and will give us the power to resist the devil’s temptations.  Staying focused on Jesus, staying in His Word daily and listening to trusted Christian friends will help us see the traps and avoid them.

 

1.      How can you help a brother or sister along the way?

2.      What prayer requests have been made over the past few weeks that you have seen God answer?

3.      How did He answer them?

4.      How does seeing God’s answer to prayers give you the confidence to approach Him with your needs?

5.      When you face pressures or persecution, does your anxiety increase, or does your prayers and trust in God increase?

 

Father, thank you that we can worship You privately and together; we can seek wisdom and counsel from other trusted Christians; and we can trust Your protection from our adversaries.

Help us to turn to You this week, Father, for strength in our spiritual lives.

 

The Cleansing - Psalm 32:1-11

1.      How many of you like movies or books with sequels?

2.      What are some of your favorite series? (“Rocky,” 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. “Taken,” 1, 2.)

Many scholars believe Psalm 32 is the sequel of Psalm 51. After David confessed his great sin and repented he experienced God’s gracious forgiveness and his joy returned. We referenced Psalm 32:3 in last week’s study of Psalm 51 showing their close connection.

3.      The Bible clearly teaches that we were created for fellowship with God and to bring glory to Him. What happens deep inside us when we are not fulfilling our intended purpose? (The joy that God intended for us to experience is not there and we may even become bitter and resentful.)

When we, as Christians, are out of fellowship with God because of sin in our lives we may become obsessed with the thought that no one knows. We may fool others but the one person we can’t seem to fool is ourselves. And certainly we can’t fool God!

Psalm 32 is a psalm that proclaims the joy that David experienced after confession and repentance of his great sin with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, Uriah. That same joy is available to us.

David stood before the Lord justified. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ.

 

The Contrast! Read Psalm 32:1-4

 

1.      How would you describe the tone of the psalmist in verses 1-2?

2.      What different words are used for sin in these verses? (Transgression—stepping over the line, rebellion; Sin—missing the mark or falling short; Iniquity—Corruption or crookedness; and Deceit—not trustworthy, dishonest scales.)

3.      How was the psalmist’s body affected by his unconfessed sin? (His bones became brittle, voice groaned, strength was drained.)

4.      How would you describe the impact unconfessed sin has on a Christian?

5.      How would you describe the contrast between verses 1-2 and verses 3-4?

6.      What are the dangers of refusing to confess or trying to ignore our transgressions?

7.      What keeps people from admitting a sin when the impact of doing so can be so freeing?

 

The Decision! Read Psalm 32:5

 

1.      What do you suppose gave David the courage to stop trying to hide his sin?

2.      What are some ways people try to deal with the guilt of sin other than confessing it to the Lord?

3.      In what ways have you personally learned the hard way that nothing besides confession will work?

4.      It took quite some time for David to come clean, and even then it was only after Nathan confronted him. Why does it often take people so long to ask forgiveness? (Sometimes we think time will ease the pain but it only gets worse.)

5.      What would it take for you to confront someone of their sin?

6.      What keeps us from confronting others of their sin?

In Psalm 51:13 David said he would teach others God’s ways. He made good on his promise here in Psalm 32.

7.      What benefits await those who confess their sins to God?

8.      Which benefit provides the greatest motivation for confessing?

9.      How is the guilt of our sin taken away? (It is almost impossible for us to believe that our guilt can be taken away. I have read many stories of prisoners saying, “There is no way God could forgive what I have done.” While some sins we classify as worse than others, sin is transgression against God’s law and the smallest sin still disqualifies us from being accepted by God. Jesus died for the worst serial killer and the one who simply told a “little white lie.”)

 

The Counsel! Read Psalm 32:6-9

 

The first word of counsel David gave was for people to pray to God when He could be found. In other words, pray before it’s too late. During Noah’s day there came a time when it was too late—when God closed to door of the ark time was up! Although the Lord is full of mercy and compassion, there is a limit to His patience, according to Romans 2:4; 1 Peter 3:19-20; and 2 Peter 3:9.

1.      What is the second word of counsel, according to Psalm 32:9?

2.      Acting like a stubborn mule may come naturally to some of us. What “bits” might God use to direct a person His way? (The misery that David has already mentioned plus others. Sometimes the guilt and the natural consequences of our sin will turn our head in the right direction!)

Many of us have probably been captivated by someone’s dramatic testimony of sin and forgiveness. You may have a dramatic conversion story yourself. But if we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves more interested in the lurid details of the past to the point that we glorify the sin over the forgiveness. In Psalm 32 and 51, David never brought up the details of his sin. Instead, he remained focused on God’s forgiveness.

3.      What principles should we follow when sharing our life experiences with others? (Stay focused on God’s saving grace, mercy and forgiveness. Confession should only be as public as the sin. If I have wronged one of my children, then I need to go to them with confession and ask for forgiveness not the whole community.)

4.      How can sharing lessons learned help both the one hearing and the one telling?

 

The Conclusion! Read Psalm 32:10-11

 

1.      How would you contrast the pains of the wicked with the joys of those who actually obey God?  (The old phrase “day and night” comes to my mind. Heartache and joy. Pain and relief. Frustration and satisfaction.)

2.      What are the root causes for these differences? (The wicked reap the harvest of being opposed to the will of God and it is impossible to have joy in that condition. Perhaps temporary happiness but it is only temporary!)

3.      What makes people assume the opposite is true—that joy comes to those who do whatever they want to do? (That is Satan’s lie!)

4.      When we, as Christians, confess our sin and God forgives, why do we sometimes not feel forgiven? (Ashamed of our actions. Know others know. Don’t feel worthy. Don’t believe God has truly forgiven. )

We must believe God, not our feelings! (1 John 1:9)

Those who respond to God’s offer of forgiveness not only find love and gladness; their behavior generates it for others. Think for a moment about the good created by lives surrendered to God’s will!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

As Christians, we must confess our sins to the Father or face the possibility of becoming spiritually despondent. We can find rest and mercy when we confess our sins to the Father. He desires nothing greater than to forgive us. We can encourage others in our spiritual life, teaching them from our experience. We should respond to God’s forgiveness with gratitude and joy!

 

The way we live out forgiveness is as important as the way we turn from sin! Teach others about God’s mercy, grace and forgiveness!

 

In the context of Psalm 32, the righteous ones who are upright in heart are people who have confessed their sin, received God’s forgiveness, enjoy God’s protection, walk according to God’s direction, and joyfully bear witness to the blessed life of being clean before God. Such a life is worth celebrating.

The Confession - Psalm 51:1-17

When I was about 10 years old I spent a Friday night with a cousin who lived in town. My family lived in the country. On Saturday morning we were typical boys looking for something to do. My cousin was three years older than me, although we were close to the same size. He suggested we go over to the black school in town. He said we could get in and get us a coke out of the machine there. Although I knew it was wrong, I went along because I thought he’s older and knows that we will not get into any trouble. Well we got caught by a janitor and he just made us leave. I was petrified that he would tell our parents or the cops and we’d be in big trouble. Nothing happened the rest of that day or on Sunday. On Sunday night the guilt became so heavy I had to tell my mother what we had done. She said we were wrong, of course, but that I shouldn’t ever do that again and she didn’t think I should worry about it anymore. (We didn’t get a coke either!)

The point here is: I had to confess before I received any release from my guilt. (I never spent the night with that cousin again.)

 

Guilt, like unconfessed sin, eats away at our very soul until we are completely consumed!

 

Psalm 51 is unlike any psalm we’ve studied so far in this unit. It is one of eight psalms of penitence, meaning it is an expression of repentance and a plea for God’s cleansing from sin.  This psalm is attributed to David, after Nathan confronted him with his greatest moral failure—adultery and murder!

 

(Relate the account of David’s act of adultery with Bathsheba and how David was responsible for Uriah’s death, and his confrontation with the prophet, Nathan, approximately 9 months after David’s sin.)

Guilty As Charged!

1.      Who was hurt by David’s sin? (God allowed the consequences of David’s sin to be carried out to the fullest.)

Read Psalm 51:1-5

2.      Why do you think David was so quick to confess and ask for God’s forgiveness after Nathan confronted him? (I personally believe David was eaten up with guilt. Every time he saw Bathsheba he was reminded of his rebellion against God.)

3.      Do we ever convince ourselves that we are above God’s Law, that it doesn’t apply in this circumstance and God will overlook it this time?

4.      What attributes of God does David appeal to in verse one? (Grace, faithful love and abundant compassion.)

5.      What different words are used in these five verses to refer to the wrong David had committed? (Rebellion and sin.)

6.      Is there a difference between “rebellion” and “sin”? If so, what? (Rebellion is a conscious decision to go against an established standard after considering the issue.)

7.      What words did David use in asking God to rid him of his guilt? (Blot out, wash away, and cleanse.)

8.      What does David’s use of these three different terms say about his desire for God’s forgiveness?

9.      Against whom had David sinned? (Bathsheba, Uriah, their family and of course God.)

10.  Why did David say he had sinned only against God? (Ultimately all sin is first and foremost against God, and He is the one we must answer to!)

11.  What does verse 5 indicate about how heavy David’s guilt was on his heart? (It was almost as if every act he had ever committed was sinful rebellion against God.)

12.  What are some ways people sugarcoat or rationalize sin to deal with their guilt?

13.  Why is it easier to point out the sin in others than deal with our own sin?

To justify our sin we compare ourselves with others and began to feel pretty good about ourselves. But God’s Word is the standard, not other people’s actions. Sin is what God says it is!

The “man after God’s own heart” had become miserable with guilt and longed for the fellowship with God to be restored. Psalm 32:3 “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.” NLT.

Listen for the desperation in David’s pleas in these verses!

Plea For Cleansing! Read Psalm 51:6-13

 

1.      What confession in verse 6 did David admit about God’s requirements of him? (Integrity in his heart.)

2.      What things did David ask of God in these verses? (There is request after request to expunge this indelible stain of sin from him. It is almost as if David had something on his hands and had washed them numerous times and could not get them clean! But that is only David’s guilty feelings. When God cleanses us through the blood of Jesus, we are clean.)

David asked for both forgiveness and a changed life. That is what repentance means—going in the opposite direction, a new life!

3.      What does a right relationship with God look like?

4.      What role does forgiveness play in cultivating our relationship with God?

The word “Create” in verse 10 is the same word used in Genesis 1 to describe God’s original act of creation, and it is used in the Old Testament exclusively to refer to God’s act of creation. No one else can give us a clean heart when we sin—only God can!

5.      How would you describe a forgiven heart? (The joy has returned!)

6.      What actions are required for a person to have a pure heart?

7.      What is the role of the Holy Spirit in revealing sin in our lives? (See John 16:8 and 1 Cor. 6:11. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. When we confess our sin Jesus’ blood washes the sin away and fellowship with God the Father is renewed.)

Verse 13 begins to show how God redeems our brokenness. David knew he would help other sinners return to God when he was restored. The next section of verses builds on this idea.

 

Deliverance Through Brokenness! Read Psalm 51:14-17

 

1.      What do you think David was thinking about in his plea in verse 14?

2.      What does David say pleases the Lord? (“A broken spirit and a broken and humbled heart.”)

3.      What are some things people do to try to appease God for their sin rather than confess it clearly? (Offerings, service, etc.)

The death of Jesus on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice for all sin—past, present and future. Nevertheless, God still seeks evidence of our sorrow and brokenness over sin, and until we repent and accept His cleansing for our sin, our relationship with God and our usefulness to Him will be hindered.

4.      How are remorse and repentance related?

5.      How are they different? (Remorse is simply feeling sorry for what you have done. Repentance is the heart felt desire to make a fundamental change in your heart to do what is right in God’s eyes from now forward.)

6.      Can you have one without the other?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

The only way to get rid of a foul odor is to get rid of what causes the odor. The only way to guard against stains is to eliminate those things that cause stains in the first place. Similarly, there are some sins we can avoid simply by removing the temptation to commit them.

Guilt is a good response to wrong doing or failing to do what’s right.

What is the difference between healthy guilt (from God) and false guilt (twisted by Satan)? (Sometimes, after we have confessed and repented of a sin, Satan keeps reminding us of what we did and tries to tell us that we really weren’t forgiven—that’s false guilt.

God’s Spirit convicts us of sin, produces fruit of the Spirit in us and creates a new heart in believers after we have confessed our sin and repented. Don’t let Satan tell you different!

 

Develop a habit of hearing God so accurately that you act upon guilt right away. Stop what’s wrong. Start what’s right.

Staying in God’s Word daily is the “how to” in this area of our lives!

 

Reread the entire psalm in closing!

 

His Faithfulness - Psalm 146:1-10

1.      Who are some people we place our trust in on a regular basis? (Doctor; Spouse; Close Friends; Other Drivers; etc.)

2.      What are some circumstances that cause us to feel betrayal? (Abused by a loved one; Cheated by a friend; Denied a promotion; Confidant breaks the silence; Betrayed by a spouse; Wrong medical diagnosis; etc.)

3.      How does experiencing betrayal in one relationship in our lives impact other relationships?

4.      What makes it so hard for people to move past what they perceived to be a betrayal?

5.      Do we ever feel that God has betrayed us?

When we place our trust in people, sooner or later we will be disappointed. Sometimes the betrayal by another person is intentional, sometimes not, but people will disappoint.

God is ever faithful to who He is and to His people. God truly feels with us, and He knows how to navigate us through life.

6.      What can cause us to get bitter and doubt the faithfulness of God in our circumstances? (See Eccl. 1:1-11. Here the writer had become “self-focused” and had lost his focus on God.)

 

Let’s see what the writer of Psalm 146 has to say about God’s faithfulness.

 

The Declaration! Read Psalm 146:1-2

 

1.      What one word describes for you the psalmist’s attitude toward praising God in these verses? (Give everyone an opportunity to voice their opinion.)

The word “Hallelujah” is a transliteration of a Hebrew word that literally means “Praise Yah”. Of course the implication of the last syllable is to finish the word “Yahweh.” One of my very favorite pieces of music is “The Hallelujah Chorus.” Take time to listen to it on “YouTube” this week. It will bless you.

The last five chapters in the book of Psalms all begin and end with “Hallelujah.”

The psalmist admonished his soul to praise the Lord and is determined to do so with his entire being.

2.      What does it mean to praise God with more than just your lips? (Praising God should be a lifestyle not an event.)

3.      What commitment have you made that is life-long—till you die?

Obviously, none of us have lived out our entire lives yet, and we don’t know the future. But the decision to praise the Lord is not dependent on present or future circumstances. The palmist made the declaration without knowing what his future held.

4.      Should circumstances impact our commitment to “sing to my God as long as I live?”

5.      Do people allow circumstances to have a negative impact on their praise offered to God? (Remember God is worthy of our praise because of who He is, not what He has done for us.)

6.      What are some of the challenges of praising the Lord all your life?

7.      In what ways does God show Himself faithful to believers today?

8.      What are some appropriate ways of declaring God’s faithfulness to us?

 

The Warning! Read Psalm 146:3-4

 

There is a great contrast between the first two verses and these two verses. When the psalmist warns us not to trust in man, we are led to think about God, who can save. When he wrote about man being mortal and finite, we can’t help but to contrast him to the immortal, infinite God.

1.      Why are people tempted to put their trust in human leaders instead of in God?

2.      What are the dangers of trusting in another person for one’s security and well-being?

3.      Do we tend to put our trust in “nobles? (Far too often we place our trust and hope in elected government leaders instead of God.)

4.      What do we believe people need most—government’s help, education’s help, financial help, or God’s help? (I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.” Ps. 62:1)

 

The psalmist not only warns us against trusting in people, he also gives us several reasons God alone is worthy of our trust!

The Worthy One! Read Psalm 146:5-9

 

1.      What are the ways listed here that God alone is worthy of our trust? (“Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. He remains faithful forever, executing justice for the exploited and giving food to the hungry.” Frees prisoners, Opens the eyes of the blind. Raises the oppressed. Loves the righteous. Protects foreigners, helps the fatherless and the widow. Frustrates the ways of the wicked. These statements are certainly true spiritually and sometimes He accomplishes these things in a literal way.)

God is our Creator, Protector and King!

2.      What in these verses, and in your experience, confirms God’s trustworthiness? (God stays true in every situation, wisely executing justice and extending grace fairly. God can be trusted to remain faithful forever.)

3.      How does the list in these verses affect the way we praise God?

4.      How should it affect the praise of all God’s people?

5.      The psalmist declared his intention to praise God all of his life even when he didn’t know what the future held. As you look at verses 7-9 which of these circumstances are positive, and which are undesirable?

Of all the different people described in these verses, only the righteous and the wicked are what anyone could choose to be. Yet, God shows Himself faithful to every group described in this passage. He is even faithful to the wicked, because He has already promised that wicked ways lead to perishing (Ps. 1:6).

 

The Reality! Read Psalm 146:10

 

1.      What does the first line of this verse mean to you?

2.      What does work look like when God is our king? (We live and work to honor and praise our King. It should be a joy.)

3.      What do actions in our home look like with Him as King? (If we are all obedient to the same King it should be a place where peace reigns and God is honored.)

4.      What does solving problems look like when He rules? (Problems should be turned over to God. Read Phil. 4:8-9)

5.      In what circumstance is God’s faithfulness most treasured: in times of prosperity or in times of despair?

6.      How can believers show that they belong to God’s kingdom?

7.      What responsibilities come with being part of God’s eternal kingdom?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      How is trusting God active rather than passive? (It is a conscious decision!)

2.      Notice in your Bible again that Psalms 146-150 begin and end with praising God. What can we learn from this?

3.      How would it make a difference in your day if you began and ended each day with praising God?

4.      What can we do to help others place their full trust in Christ?

 

If you said no words, what would your actions teach about God?

How accurate is your picture?

Change your actions in the coming week to show praise to, and for, God in different ways!

His Love! - Psalm 136:1-26

1.      When you are with one of your small children or a grandchild and someone gives them something, what do you remind the child to do? (Thank the person for giving to them.)

2.      What makes giving thanks so important?

3.      What does a person’s willingness to give thanks to God reveal about his or her understanding of God?

Today we are looking at Psalm 136. It was written to be read responsive or sung antiphonally. But before we do that I want to read the entire psalm leaving out the “responsive” part so we can get a clear picture of what the psalmist was thankful for as he wrote this beautiful song. (Read the Psalm leaving out the responsive portion.)

Now divide the class into two groups and read the entire psalm responsively to get the full impact of this beautiful psalm.

 

We do not know the date this psalm was written. It could have been just after the exodus from Egypt, during the time of the Judges or after the return from the Babylonian exile. The important truths to remember is this psalm gives thanks to God and recalls again and again His unfailing love for us.

 

In Creation! Read Psalm 136:1-5

 

            The Hebrew word chesed is the main word in the refrain of Psalm 136, meaning His love is eternal. It is used almost 250 times in the Old Testament and has no exact English translation. Various translations have rendered it “faithful love,” “mercy,” “steadfast love,” and “lovingkindness.” It conveys the idea of “covenant love,” a love that is based on God’s promise to His people. Rarely is chesed used in reference to people; it is almost always used in reference to God’s faithful love toward us.

 

1.      Notice the names used for God in these verses. What do they reveal about His character? (God is thoroughly and consistently good. His character is steadfast, powerful, reliable, true, and trustworthy from first to last.)

2.      His supremacy? (Other gods exist only in the imagination of people. There are people we call “lords” but God is supreme above all! See Psalm 135:15-18.)

3.      His power? (Our finite mind cannot fathom the extent of God’s creation—it is limitless! Scientists estimate the diameter of the known universe as over 90 billion light years. That is distance you would travel going 186,000 miles per second for 90 billion years.)

4.      What do they say about how we should worship Him?

5.      How might a wrong view of God affect our worship of God?

6.      Why is it important for Christians to believe God created everything out of nothing?

It is humbling to realize that everything God created is for His glory and our good!

 

In Conquest! Read Psalm 136:10-15

 

1.      How would you describe what God did for Israel as recorded in these verses?

2.      What kind of impact do you think these stories had on the original audience for this psalm?

The Israelites often sang or wrote of their release from slavery in Egypt (examples are: Ex. 15:4; Josh. 24:6; Neh. 9:9; Ps. 106; Heb. 11:29). Verses 16-22 of Psalm 136 go on to talk about victories the Lord gave Israel once they left Egypt. Sihon king of the Amorites and Og king of Basham were enemy kings the Israelites conquered before they got to the promised land (Num. 21:21-25). This victory is referenced multiple times throughout the rest of the Old Testament.

It is a humbling thought to realize God took a nation of slaves and molded them into a victorious nation!

3.      Why is the act of remembering what God has accomplished in your life and that of your ancestors an important spiritual discipline?

4.      Why is it easy to forget God’s blessings?

5.      What are some of the pitfalls that come from forgetting? (Taking God’s blessings and mighty acts for granted!)

 

The previous verses emphasized what the Israelites were to remember. These next few verses focus on what God remembered.

 

In Compassion! Read Psalm 136:23-26

 

1.      Since we know God doesn’t forget anything, what does verse 23 mean? (From our point of view is seems that God forgets us when we are going through a difficult situation for an extended period of time. Then when He delivers us it’s like he just remembered us and our circumstances. The truth is: He was with us all the time working out everything for His glory and our good!)

2.      What does verse 25 teach us?

 

The Israelites always go back to the miraculous deeds God performed in the forming of their nation and sustaining them over the centuries. We should do the same in our times of thanksgiving.

In Psalm 136 we learn that God reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and all of human history according to the purposes of His grace. Our appropriate response is thanksgiving!

 

3.      Why is giving thanks to God important for believers?

4.      How can you help others express their thankfulness to God?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

While the psalmist recognized the cosmic works of the Lord in creation, he spent more time thanking God for His personal care for His people.

We live in a hurting world.

 

What’s our role in providing love and resources, even though God is the ultimate provider?

As people made in God’s image, we are responsible to express His love, goodness, and mercy. He frequently works through people to meet the needs of others.

 

Evidently God led the psalmist to repeat the phrase “His love is eternal” for a reason! Perhaps it was to remind us of His great love for us and that we are to be at least one expression of that love for Him to those around us—after all we are created in His image!

God Revealed - Psalm 19:1-14

1.      How would you describe President Trump to someone who had never heard of him?

2.      How would you describe one of your grandparents to someone who did not know them?

3.      How would you describe your spouse to someone who had never met him or her?

4.      What are the different levels of relationship involved here? (One is general knowledge—information available to everyone. The second is special knowledge—available through a close relationship. The third is intimate knowledge—known only through a close, intimate relationship.)

God reveals Himself to us through His creation. We see such qualities as intentionality, orderliness, inventiveness, beauty, goodness, cleverness, uniqueness, steadiness and more.

5.      What do we know about our God who created both horses and zebras; badgers and beavers; robins and cardinals; cockatoos and buzzards—and the list could go on? (He is a creative God who loves variety!)

God reveals Himself through special revelation in His Word.

But God reveals Himself specifically through Jesus Christ.

Through each of these, beginning with His general revelation, we learn a little more about who God is and how He desires to relate to His creation.

The question each of us must answer is: How do we respond when God reveals Himself to us? In His general revelations do we ignore the evidence around us and proclaim God’s creation is simply a freak accident, a big bang that occurred from nothing and made something? In His special revelation do we ignore His Word and proclaim this doesn’t apply to me? In His specific revelation do we proclaim this as simply a fairytale made up by weak dreamers?

 

In Psalm 19, the psalmist described two ways God has given us to help us know Him better. We can learn about God by observing His creation, but He also reveals Himself through His Word.

Seen In Creation! Read Psalm 19:1-6

 

1.      What are the various ways creation is personified in these verses? (Declare; proclaims; pour out speech; communicate knowledge; their words; pitched a tent; rejoices.)

2.      Notice all the synonyms for “tell” in verses 1-2. What is the psalmist teaching us through these words?

3.      What do the heavens and sky proclaim about God? (The heavens declare the glory of God—the visible representation of the invisible. They also declare the work of God’s hands, communicate knowledge even without words.)

Glory refers to God’s manifested power and revealed character. God’s glory is the outshining, or the expression, of His character.

All people are accountable to God since He reveals Himself through His creation!

4.      How do you make sense of the apparent contradiction between verse 3 and 4?

Read Romans 1:19-23.

When our Astronauts made their first trip to orbit the moon they read from Genesis 1:1. After the first Russian Cosmonauts made his trip into space Nikita Khrushchev is quoted as saying “Gagarin flew into space, but didn’t see any god there.”

5.      What do the images in verses 4-6 teach us about God? (Consider one image at a time. Pitched a tent for the sun; groom coming from the bridal chamber; athlete running a course; rising from one end to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.)

God created nature. Nature is not God, so there is never a place to worship it. Nature reveals some of the glory of God, it is not God!

Also note that God created time, but He is not bound by it. God also created the physical laws that govern the universe but He is not bound by those laws!

6.      What conclusions can we draw about God by observing His creation? (God is great, mighty, powerful and supreme!)

7.      What misconceptions about God might people draw if they only depend upon what they see in creation? (God is withdrawn from us and is not interested in a relationship with His creation.)

We’ve looked at God’s general revelation to us now we will consider His special revelation to us.

Seen In His Word! Read Psalm 19:7-11

 

The name used for God in the first 6 verses is “Elohim”. The name used in verses 7-11 is “Yahweh,” which was God’s special, covenant name revealed to His people Israel. Most English Bibles render it Lord.

1.      “Instruction,” “testimony,” “precepts,” “command,” and “ordinances” are all synonyms for what? (God’s law.)

God’s Word provides people with an infallible guide for living in right relationship with God! The law in God’s Word is meant to free us, not place us in bondage. Contrary to what many people believe, a life of freedom comes only by being obedient to God’s instructions. He created us and knows what is best for us.

2.      How did the psalmist describe each of these synonyms for God’s law and the benefit of obedience from his perspective?

 

God’s Law               Described              Benefit Received

 

Instruction                 Perfect                        Renewing one’s life

Testimony                  Trustworthy              Making one wise

Precepts                     Right                           A Glad heart

Command                   Radiant                       Making eyes light up

Fear                            Pure                            Enduring forever

Ordinances                 Reliable/righteous    More desirable than

                                                                        gold/sweeter than

honey.

3.      Can we say that everything that is said here is true of Jesus? (Yes! Jesus is the Word made flesh! Therefore all of the truths here are true of Jesus!)

4.      What is the final conclusion the psalmist made about God’s Word in verse 11? (We are “warned by them” and “there is great reward in keeping them.”)

5.      How does God’s Word help us avoid dangers and traps?

6.      If we know there are benefits to keeping God’s Word, why do we so easily choose to disregard or disobey it?

7.      How does your life show that you treasure God’s Word?

Celebrated in His People! Read Psalm 19:12-14

 

1.      How does the focus shift here? (Isn’t this a normal, logical progression as we read God’s Word and allow it to penetrate our heart with its truth?)

2.      What happens in our lives as we read and meditate on God’s Word? (Sin is revealed for what it really is. As we apply God’s Word to our life hidden or unintentional sin is revealed. We become convicted of our intentional sin.)

3.      How do we deceive ourselves about our unintentional sins? (Both intentional and unintentional sins rule over us.)

4.      How do we deceive ourselves with intentional (willful) sin? (We think we choose freedom when we choose sin. Yet the result is always bondage to sin. The only true freedom is found in Christ!)

God’s Word will always lead us into a greater awareness of our own sinfulness. This isn’t necessarily meant to make us feel more guilty but to make us more like Jesus.

5.      What role does Scripture play in revealing our faults and sins?

6.      How does God use Scripture in our lives to correct us so we can better reflect His character?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      How can the truths described in verses 1-13 become realities in our lives? (Put verse 14 into action.)

2.      How can Psalm 19:14 serve as a daily prayer?

 

God’s Spirit will help us control our words, before they exit our lips.

We can’t control what thoughts enter our minds, but we can control what thought we entertain or eject.

Our words and our hearts determine the actions we choose.

 

Challenge: Every morning for the next seven days pray Psalm 19:14 and watch for the ways God answers!

 

Close by praying Psalm 19:14.

The Creator - Psalm 95:1-11

1.      What is your favorite hymn?

2.      What is your favorite hymn of praise?

3.      How would you describe the difference in the hymn “How Great Is Our God” and “Worthy of Worship”? (The first one is proclaiming God’s greatness to others, while the second hymn is addressed directly to God.)

Many of our favorite hymns proclaim God’s greatness, along with other descriptions of Him but are not addressed directly to Him. Not that these other hymns are not good but we need to sing hymns addressed directly to God as well. “Amazing Grace” is most likely the most favorite hymn of all time, but it is a hymn of testimony not praise to God, although it does cause people to praise Him. While hymns of proclamation are appropriate in our services, hymns of worship are addressed TO God, not ABOUT God!

            The subheading for Psalm 95 is “Worship and Warning.” This tells us that this psalm is a combination psalm that leads us to worship and cautions us to watch our attitude toward God!

“This psalm may have been composed for the Festival of Booths. This weeklong feast celebrated the ingathering of the harvest and commemorated Israel’s exodus out of Egyptian slavery. During this sacred holiday, the Israelites erected temporary living quarters to remind them of God’s providential care during the years when the nation wandered in the wilderness. Booths were not indications of privation and poverty but were symbols of protection and preservation. Living in booths for a week reminded Israel of God’s protection during a critical period of its history.” (From your Personal Study Guide, page 63)

In our text today we will address four of the six basic journalism questions: What? Who? How? And When?

 

What? Read Psalm 95:1-2

1.      How would you characterize these two verses, worship or call to worship?

2.      What does the psalmist specifically call for the people to do? (Shout joyfully; shout triumphantly; enter His presence with thanksgiving; shout triumphantly.)

3.      What causes believers to feel this way?

4.      Based on this passage, how would you define worship?

5.      What elements should be included in worship?

6.      What phrase does the psalmist use to describe God? (“The Rock of our salvation.”)

7.      How does verse 1 free you to sing to God whether you think you sing well or poorly? (Singing in the Bible is not a talent for a few but a command for all people. Many translations use the word “sing” rather than “shout” here, and one even encourages us to “make a joyful noise.”)

8.      What might shouting joyfully to the Lord look like in corporate worship? In privacy of your home or car?

Singing and shouting to God without right actions is not worship: read Amos 5:23-24.

True worship begins in the heart, not the lips!

 

Who? Read Psalm 95:3-5

 

1.      The answer to the question of who we are to worship should be obvious. How do these verses describe God?

2.      How do the descriptions that the psalmist used differ from how we might describe God?

Verse 4 teaches us that God is present at the deepest depths and the highest heights of creation. For the ancient Israelites, Mount Hermon would have been their highest reference point at 9,100 feet. The Dead Sea would have been the lowest point they knew at 1,400 feet below sea level and 120 miles away from each other. Today, our knowledge of the world is more expansive. We know that Mount Everest at 29,028 feet is the highest point on the planet, and the Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean (36,200 feet) is the lowest. But regardless of whether you are an ancient Israelite or you live today, God is present in every dimension of creation. He is there because He made it.

3.      Does our increased knowledge of our planet increase or diminish our worship of God?

4.      In what ways does the earth point to the greatness of God as Creator?

5.      How does the fact that God created you motivate you to worship Him? (We should be reminded that as our Creator, God knows our hearts and sees our actions and motivations infinitely more than we could ever understand.)

6.      How is worship more than a feeling? (We worship God for who He is not what He has done or will do! He is worthy of worship simply because of who He is!)

When we notice we’re worshiping something else, including our own opinion, we must deliberately redirect our affection to God. God’s Spirit in us will help us do this.

7.      How is obedience an act of worship? (It acknowledges God as our Sovereign Lord through our actions!)

 

How? Read Psalm 95:6-7a

 

1.      What attitude or character trait do you associate with kneeling and bowing down?

2.      Beyond physically bending our knees, how are we to show humility before God?

The psalmist further reinforced a posture of humility by comparing us to sheep.

3.      What do you remember about sheep from our study of Psalm 23?

4.      How is the image of sheep a fitting metaphor for the relationship between God and His people?

5.      What do you appreciate about being one of God’s sheep?

 

When? Read Psalm 95:7b-11

 

Summarize or read Exodus 17:1-7 where the people of Israel were without water and grumbled against God and Moses.

1.      Instead of grumbling and complaining against God because they had no water, what should have been their attitude? (First, thankfulness to God because He had delivered them from Egyptian slavery. Second, an attitude of faith that God would provide and excitement to see how He would provide.)

2.      Where was the people’s focus when they were without water? (Self! Instead of excitement about how God would provide.)

3.      Why is it so hard for us to maintain humility?

4.      What makes hardheartedness appealing? (Our sinful nature keeps our focus on “self”.)

5.      How is our worship of God influenced by our faith in God?

6.      What are the dangers of failing to worship God?

7.      How do we enter into God’s rest?

8.      What blocks us from entering His rest? (Lack of faith.)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

People were created to live in relationship with God and a natural outflow of that relationship would be to worship God.

What evidence do you see of this foundational need to worship?

 

We all worship something. The Spirit motivates believers to worship God through the fruits of the Spirit. These are obedient actions, not feelings.

Notice that the fruits of the Spirit are missing when a person worships self or possessions or any other entity.

 

Chorus to “Worthy of Worship”:

You are worthy, Father, Creator!

You are worthy, Savior, Sustainer.

You are worthy, worthy and wonderful;

Worthy of worship and praise.

 

Close with a prayer of praise!