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Category Archives: Scripture reflections

Sustaining the Good Life (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Sustaining the Good Life,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church, the second part of our two-part series on Psalm 23 entitled “The Good Life.” I am preaching from the English Standard Version during this series, so here is the text of Psalm 23 from the ESV:

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What was one of your most challenging times in life? What did it feel like to endure it? How did you make it through that time?
  2. This week we continue our journey into “The Good Life” from Psalm 23. As we explore what it means to live a Psalm 23 type of life all the time, this week we look at the challenging times of life. Psalm 23 is built around two strong images: God as our shepherd (verses 1-4) and God as our host or friend (verses 5-6). We will bring those two images together in our study this week. Whether you are alone or with a small group, begin by asking God to speak to you and then read Psalm 23 aloud.
  3. Verse 4 highlights the reality that even though God is our shepherd, we will still face dangers and hardship. What is the source of hope for the psalmist in the midst of hardship?
  4. The shepherd’s rod was a club of sorts for fighting off enemies. The shepherd’s staff was used for keeping sheep on the path or prying them out of crags or holes. What might these metaphors convey about our life with God?
  5. To be in the presence of enemies usually means to be fear-filled and hasty, but verse 5 offers a quite different situation. What does this verse tell us about God’s presence and power as our friend in the face of enemies?
  6. What enemies are surrounding you right now? How might your perspective or approach be changed by the truths of verse 5?
  7. In verse 6 we encounter the unending commitment of God (“all the days of my life”) and the pursuing kindness of God (“shall follow me”). What hope do these words bring you about your daily life and eternal life?
  8. What is one specific truth or point of application that God is speaking to you through this study, and how will you live that out this week? Write it down. If you are in a small group, share your thoughts with one another.
 
 

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Living the Good Life (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Living the Good Life,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church as part of our series on Psalm 23 entitled “The Good Life.” I am preaching from the English Standard Version during this series, so here is the text of Psalm 23 from the ESV:

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Discussion Questions:

  1. This week we begin two weeks looking at “The Good Life” through Psalm 23. We want to explore what it means to live a Psalm 23 type of life all the time. Whether you are alone or with a small group, begin by asking God to speak to you and then read Psalm 23 aloud.
  2. The image of the shepherd is commonly used of God in the Bible. Read some or all of the following passages, then consider what it means that the LORD (Yahweh) is your shepherd:
  • Genesis 49:24
  • Psalm 77:20; 78:52, 70-72; 79:13; 80:1
  • Isaiah 40:11
  • Micah 7:14
  • John 10:11
  • Hebrews 13:20
  1. What would you say is the difference in meaning between the phrases “God is a shepherd” and “the LORD is my shepherd”? What does that communicate to you about your relationship with God?
  2. Sheep require certain conditions for peace, comfort and provision. What is significant about God’s actions and provision in verses 2 and 3?
  3. The end of verse 3 offers perspective on what God’s ultimate aim is. How do you think God’s presence and provision for us might relate with it being “for His name’s sake”?
  4. We will continue to look at verse 4 next week, but it is sufficient to mention that God’s presence changes the encounters we have with dark and fearful valleys. When and how have you experienced God’s presence in dark times in life?
  5. One notable thing about Psalm 23 is that it is attributed to David who, as a great warrior king, was both powerful and strong. What is the meaning and significance of David putting himself in the place of a sheep with God as his shepherd? What does it look like for you to live that way in your life?
  6. What is one specific truth or point of application that God is speaking to you through this study, and how will you live that out this week? Write it down. If you are in a small group, share your thoughts with one another.
 
 

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Living at the Intersection (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Living at the Intersection,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church as part of our “Love Your Neighborhood” series.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What has been one of the most powerful ways you have experienced love from another person in your life? What happened? What did it mean to you?
  2. This week we continue our series, “Love Your Neighborhood,” by looking at two monumental teachings from Jesus known as the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. We will examine how these key teachings fit together. Whether you are alone or with a small group, begin by asking God to speak to you and then read both Matthew 22:34-40 and 28:18-20 aloud.
  3. In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus summarizes the entire law of Moses with a very simple statement. What is the essence of what Jesus says, and why would you say that this summarizes all of the Jewish law?
  4. Jesus’ interrogator was a Pharisee, one of the strictest adherents of the religion of Israel in Jesus’ time. It is likely that this interrogator was intending to trap Jesus. Why do you think Jesus’ response may have silenced Him?
  5. Matthew 28:18-20 is often referred to as the Great Commission. What would you say are the main elements of this brief teaching by Jesus to His disciples?
  6. How would you restate Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 22:34-40 and 28:18-20 in your own words? How might you combine them together into one unified statement?
  7. In your own life, would you say you err more on the side of letting your words or your deeds show Jesus? What’s a practical way you could represent Jesus more fully this week by adding deeds to your words, or words to your deeds?
  8. What is one specific truth or point of application that God is speaking to you through this study? Write it down. If you are in a small group, share your thoughts with one another.
 
 

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Resurrection Victory (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Resurrection Victory,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church, the final week of our series, “Resurrection Hope,” from 1 Corinthians 15, looking specifically at verses 50-58.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When you hear about the resurrection of the dead, what sort of things come into your mind?
  2. This week we conclude our series, “Resurrection Hope,” on 1 Corinthians 15. Whether you are alone or with a small group, begin by asking God to speak to you and then read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 aloud.
  3. Paul brings together the various parts of his discussion of resurrection here, drawing implications both for those who are alive at the time of Christ’s return and those who have already died. Paul states a basic principle in verse 50 that normal, human bodies cannot “inherit the kingdom of God.” Why do you think Paul begins with this principle?
  4. The phrase “kingdom of God” is common in the Bible, appearing eleven times in Paul’s letters, four of which are in 1 Corinthians. In general, the kingdom of God refers to the rule and reign of God entering into human existence. What is Paul referring to here in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58?
  5. In light of the reality that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” Paul says that we will all be changed (once in both verse 51 and 52). What sort of change is he talking about for both the living and for the dead at this time (see verses 42-44, 50-54)?
  6. What is Paul’s central, high point of celebration in verses 54-57?
  7. What do you eagerly anticipate at a personal level about the ultimate victory over death at Jesus’ final return?
  8. You might expect Paul to end with verse 57, but in verse 58 he turns the corner into our everyday lives here and now. What specific areas of our lives should be touched now by the hope of the resurrection? Which of these leaps out as most important in your life now?
  9. What is one thing God is speaking to you through this study? If you are alone, write it down. If you are with a small group, discuss these things with one another.
 

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Resurrection Bodies (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Resurrection Bodies,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church, which is a part of our series, “Resurrection Hope” from 1 Corinthians 15.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When you hear about the resurrection of the dead, what sort of things come into your mind?
  2. As we continue looking at 1 Corinthians 15 this weekend at Eastbrook, we are looking at what resurrection bodies are all about. Whether you are alone or with a small group, ask God to speak to you and then read 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 aloud.
  3. In verses 35-41, Paul offers two pictures of what physical resurrection is similar to in our everyday experience. What are the two pictures and what do they communicate to us about resurrection? What other pictures do you find helpful or getting a sense of what resurrection means?
  4. Paul summarizes the contrast between our current bodies and resurrection bodies in verses 42-44 with four word pairs. What are those word pairs and what do you think they mean?
  5. The NIV translates the last pair of words, “it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” This phrase has caused some misunderstanding in the western world, particularly in some translations which contrasts a physical body with a spiritual body. The first phrase, translated ‘natural body’, is derived from the word for ‘soul’ and reflects being animated by human nature here. The second phrase, translated ‘spiritual body’, is derived from the word for ‘spirit’ and reflects being animated by the Spirit of God. This is not a contrast between the physical and abstract spiritual, but a contrast between ordinary human nature and spiritually renewed human nature. What do you see as the significance of this?
  6. When you read verses 45-49, what sort of hope do you draw from these words?
  7. What is one thing God is speaking to you through this study? If you are alone, write it down. If you are with a small group, discuss these things with one another.

[Next week we continue our exploration of resurrection themes by looking at “Resurrection Victory” from 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.]

 

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