Sunday, February 22, 2009

Departing with Joy and Peace Isaiah 55:6-12

Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD'S renown,
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed."

Isaiah 55 speaks to the people of God in Babylonian Captivity. It anticipates an "exodus" from Babylon and an opportunity to go back home, thanks to the merciful action of Almighty God.

What is required of one who seeks the Lord?

What response from God will a seeker find?


What does God say about his will (his word)?

Why can they (and we) go out in joy and peace?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A New Thing Based on an Old Story

Isaiah 43:1-3, 14-21

But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead.

This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

"For your sake I will send to Babylon and bring down as fugitives all the Babylonians, in the ships in which they took pride. I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator, your King."

This is what the LORD says—he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise."

Isaiah 43 speaks of a time in the future when God’s people will return from Babylonian Captivity. Notice how the future is linked with the past, specifically God’s actions in the Exodus and crossing the Jordan.

Why should the people not fear?
What from the past are we to remember?
What from the past should we forget?
What does God want from his people?
What is the "new thing" that God wants to do in your life?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Psalm 114 - Sometimes it Causes Me to Tremble

When Israel came out of Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
The sea looked and fled,
the Jordan turned back;
the mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs.
Why was it, O sea, that you fled,
O Jordan, that you turned back,
you mountains, that you skipped like rams,
you hills, like lambs?
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool,
the hard rock into springs of water.

This Psalm is the second "of the ‘Hallel’ psalms (Ps. 113-118) which were sung regularly at all the great Israelite festivals. By the first century A.D. they were chanted around the table at the family celebration of the Passover, the first two psalms at the beginning and 115-118 at the end. Thus they were a feature of the Last Supper in the upper room."
– From Zondervan’s New International Bible Commentary

How does the Psalmist talk about God’s presence?

How do the people of God becomes his sanctuary (dwelling place)?

Why should the earth tremble at the presence of the Lord?

How can this Psalm help us understand who we are?

How do you tell the story of God?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Generation to Generation - Psalm 78

O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old— what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
They would not be like their forefathers—a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.

The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; they did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his law.
They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them.
He did miracles in the sight of their fathers in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan.
He divided the sea and led them through; he made the water stand firm like a wall. He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night.
He split the rocks in the desert and gave them water as abundant as the seas; he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers.

But they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the desert against the Most High.

How is the story to be told from generation to generation?

Why is the story to be told?

What happens if the story is not told?

Why do people rebel against God?

How do you tell the story of God?