LOVE THE LAND: LOVING THE LEAST

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1 when He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). God loves the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40). As Aaron said on Sunday, the heart of God beats for the poor, the disadvantaged, the weak, the oppressed, the broken, the hurting, the hungry, the estranged. If God’s heart beats for the least of these – does yours?

SCRIPTURE

1Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. 2For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. 3‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. 5Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 6Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: ‘Here am I’. Isaiah 58:1-9

GROUP QUESTIONS

When you see someone begging at an intersection or freeway off-ramp, what thoughts go through your mind? How do you feel toward that person? How do you typically respond?

Read Isaiah 58:1-9. What is the tone of this passage? What would cause God to use this tone?

List the things the Israelites are doing (verses 2-3a). Since the things they are doing are all good things, why does He say that the Israelites are in rebellion (verse 1)?

What injustices are denounced (verses 3b-4)? How are these injustices seen in our community, nation, and world today?

Read the following passages. What does each passage say about “loving the least”? What does this mean for you in today’s culture? Who are “the least”?

  • Psalm 82:3
  • Proverbs 31:8-9
  • Isaiah 1:17
  • Jeremiah 22:3
  • Zechariah 7:9-10
  • Micah 6:8

When discussing Isaiah 58, John Piper said, “Piety that does not produce a passion for God-exalting social justice and practical mercy is useless.” God’s heart beats for the least of these. Does yours?

APPLICATION

GROUP: Brainstorm – Consider the various needs the hurting and broken people have in your community. Make a list of tangible things you can do to “love the least”.

PERSONAL: Throughout the week, examine your motives for doing spiritual disciplines (Bible reading, fasting, praying…). Ask yourself the following questions; if you answer ‘yes’ to any of them, ask God to forgive you and to help you seek Him with your whole heart with the sole motivation to know Him more.

  • Do I secretly hope that others will look up to me because I am so spiritual?
  • Do I think that God will notice the sacrifices I make and will give me special attention?
  • Do I feel superior to those who do not seem as spiritually disciplined as I am?

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Matthew 25:34-46. What coming event does this passage describe?

List the actions Jesus will use as basis for His judgment. Since salvation is not a result of good works (Ephesians 2:8-9), why does Jesus use good works as the dividing line in this passage?

Would you change your attitude or actions towards the “least of these” if you viewed them as Jesus (Matthew 25:35-36)? Why or why not?

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LOVE THE LAND: WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

The story of the Good Samaritan is one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. Even in our culture, hospitals are named “Good Samaritan”, news stories feature people who act as “Good Samaritans”, and most of our states have “Good Samaritan Laws” which provide basic legal protection for those who assist a person who is injured or in danger. It’s a great story! But it’s more than that…Jesus told it to answer an important question many of us have: “Who is my neighbor?”

SCRIPTURE

25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26“What is written in the Law?” He replied. “How do you read it?” 27He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37

GROUP QUESTIONS

What was the kindest thing a stranger did for you? How did this make you feel?

Read Luke 10:25-37. What was the lawyer’s (expert in the law) question, and where did Jesus send him for the answer? What do his answers indicated about his knowledge of God’s commands?

Are you surprised with the answer to “what must I do to inherit eternal life”? If you were to be asked that question, would this be your response?

What does the follow-up question reveal about the lawyer’s heart?

On Sunday, Aaron stated that the lawyer was looking to do the bare minimum expected from him. How do you think God views those who do the “bare minimum”? Do you ever feel like you’re doing the “bare minimum”? If you do, why?

In Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, why do you think the priest and the Levite did not feel morally obligated to help? Is there ever a good reason to not help someone in need?

Jews and Samaritans did not get along. Though there are many complex reasons why, for the Jews it boiled down to prejudice: not only did the Samaritans have mixed ethnicity, they also had a mixed religion. Jesus’ use of a Samaritan as the one who helped (while two religious Jewish men passed by) would have been outrageous and offensive to the lawyer and any other Jewish people who were listening. Why would Jesus choose this character as the hero of the story?

APPLICATION

Who is your neighbor? Aaron challenged you to find this out by starting in your own neighborhood. What are the names of those who live around you? Where do they work? Do they have children? Start with just one family – have a conversation that ends with you inviting them to a meal in the next few weeks. Open your home and heart and listen to their story. BE a great neighbor.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

The Mosaic Law had love for God and neighbor at its center (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18). The Ten Commandments divide into two categories – how to love God, and how to love your neighbor. Read Exodus 20:1-17, and then fill out the chart below. List whether the commandment shows how to love God, or how to love your neighbor, and then write out as many ways to do this that come to mind. Consider Matthew 5:21-28 as you write your answers. (The first has been started as an example; please add your own answers.)

COMMAND GOD OR NEIGHBOR HOW I CAN DO THIS
 1. You shall have no other gods before Me GOD Submit to God

Trust in Him, not $

 

 

2. You shall not make idols.

 

3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.

 

4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

 

5. Honor your father and your mother.

 

6. You shall not murder.

 

7. You shall not commit adultery.

 

8. You shall not steal.

 

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

 

10. You shall not covet.

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LOVE THE LAND: PLAN A

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

From the beginning God chose His people to be the conduit of His grace to a broken world. God created all of us in His image; therefore, as image-bearers, we all have value. Satan attacked this image, distorting it, and sin entered the world, bringing with it pain, despair, hopelessness, and brokenness. But piece by piece, God pursues the broken. And when Christ-followers reflect the image of a loving, gracious God to those who are broken, we become a conduit of His grace into their lives. You are God’s PLAN A for showing grace to broken people.

SCRIPTURE 

1The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1-3

GROUP QUESTIONS

What was the most valuable thing you have ever broken? Were you able to mend it?

Read Genesis 12:1-3. What promises does God make to Abraham?

Read Galatians 3:7-9. Ultimately, how were “all peoples on earth” blessed through Abraham?

There is a Sunday school song with these lyrics: “Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham, I am one of them, and so are you, so let’s all praise the Lord….” Galatians 3 says that as a Christ-follower, you are a son or daughter of Abraham, and a recipient of the blessing in Genesis 12. And not just a recipient…as Abraham’s child, the world will be blessed through you. What impact does this have for how you view our broken world?

Satan continues to create brokenness by distorting the image of God in the same way he did in the Garden of Eden: “Did God really say….?” (Genesis 3:1). Discuss with your group some of the ways he seeks to do this now.

Read Matthew 25:34-40. God’s PLAN A is to work through His people. As Joe mentioned in his sermon, there is no PLAN B. What can you do to be a part of God’s PLAN A to minister “to the least of these”?

APPLICATION

“Grace is the glue that binds the broken.”

Consider ways that you can be a conduit of God’s grace to a broken world. Make a list of all the things that come to mind – random acts of kindness, supporting an orphan, caring for a widow, going on a mission trip, sharing your story with someone who doesn’t know Christ, etc. Allow the Spirit to lead you to pick at least one of these things to do this week.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

There are numerous covenants (agreements) mentioned in Scripture. Read through the passages below, and note what was promised through these covenants:

COVENANT SCRIPTURE PROMISES
Adamic Genesis 3:15-19  

 

 

Noahic Genesis 9:8-11  

 

 

Abrahamic Genesis 12:1-3  

 

 

Mosaic Deuteronomy 11  

 

 

Davidic 2 Samuel 7:8-16  

 

 

New Jeremiah 31:31-34  

 

 

Read Hebrews 8:7-13, which quotes from Jeremiah 31. List the demands of the old covenant and the benefits of the new covenant.

The author states that God “has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.” Why will the old covenant disappear?

What impact does this new covenant have on you?

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Leverage: Testimony

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Jehoram (also called Joram) was the king of Israel’s northern kingdom. He was the son of Ahab and Jezebel. For seven years there was a severe famine in the land. The Syrians (Arameans) were bent on conquering the northern kingdom, and laid siege to the city of Samaria (the capital of the northern kingdom). The famine and siege were so severe that people were eating their children (2 Kings 6:26-30). The situation was desperate. Yet salvation was there…but the city didn’t know it until four lepers decided to share their story. Salvation is here in our city…in these anxious times, how can you leverage your testimony for the glory of God?

SCRIPTURE

3Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? 4If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.” 5At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, 6for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” 7So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives. 8The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp, entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also. 9Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.” 2 Kings 7:3-9

GROUP QUESTIONS

What would your autobiography be titled?

Read 2 Kings 7:3-9. Why were the lepers outside the city (see Leviticus 13:46 and Numbers 5:1-3)?

What did the lepers decide to do? Have you ever been so desperate (spiritually or physically) that you knew you had to do something? What did you do?

When the lepers went to the camp, no one was there. God did a miraculous thing by causing the army to flee in the middle of the night. What was the response of the lepers? Are you surprised by this response? Why or why not?

Read Ephesians 2:1-9. What parallels do you see between Israel’s situation in 2 Kings 7 and your situation before knowing Christ? Between God’s salvation for Israel and your redemption?

How would you answer Aaron’s question from the sermon: “Do you ever find yourself hoarding certain things or certain gifts that God has given to you?”

The lepers eventually realized that they needed to share their story (2 Kings 7:9). In light of all that we have been given by God, why do we fail to tell our story?

APPLICATION

KNOW your story and SHARE your story.

1 Peter 3:15 says to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect….”

If you haven’t done so already, write out your testimony of how you came to know Christ. Divide your story into three parts: your life before Christ, how you met Him, and your life after receiving Christ. If you need help, visit https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/223026_14b0abd838f145d8948c20725e5c1c27.pdf for info on how to write your story.

Pray for an opportunity to share your story, and be bold to share your story when God answers your prayer.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read John 4:1-42. It was rare for a Rabbi to talk with a woman, let alone a Samaritan woman. What does this tell you about Jesus?

What do you think Jesus meant by “living water” (see also Isaiah 44:3-4; John 7:37-39)?

What do you learn about the woman’s life?

Once the woman started to understand who Jesus was, what did she do? What was the result? (See John 4:28-30, 39-42).

The first thing the woman did after meeting Jesus was to tell everyone about Him. Make a list of the people in your circle who don’t know Christ, and ask God to give you the opportunity to share your story with them.

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