Christ in the Psalms: when God seems distant

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (Sun., Jan. 15). This guide will enable your follow-up of the sermon that I’ll preach, God willing, that morning from Psalm 22. This is the first sermon in a series entitled The Christ in the Psalms and the Psalms in the Christ. You’ll find these LIFE group discussion guides categorized each week here on my site under the category title LIFE group guides.

Aim

To help us appreciate how Christ identifies with our pain and his perspective of it.

Word

My God, my God, why have you left me all alone? Why are you so far from saving me–so far from my anguished groans? My God, I cry out during the day, but you don’t answer; even at nighttime I don’t stop.

All who see me make fun of me – they gape, shaking their heads. “He committed himself to the LORD, so let God rescue him; let God deliver him because God likes him so much.” …

Please don’t be far from me, because trouble is near and there’s no one to help.

Many bulls surround me; mighty bulls from Bashan encircle me. … Dogs surround me; a pack of evil people circle me like a lion – oh, my poor hands and feet! I can count all my bones! Meanwhile, they just stare at me, watching me. They divvy up my garments among themselves; they cast lots for my clothes.

But you, LORD! Don’t be far away! You are my strength! Come quick and help me! Deliver me from the sword. Deliver my life from the power of the dog. Save me from the mouth of the lion. From the horns of the wild oxen you have answered me!

I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; I will praise you in the very center of the congregation! All of you who revere the LORD – praise him! … Because he didn’t despise or detest the suffering of the one who suffered – he didn’t hide his face from me. No, he listened when I cried out to him for help. …

Indeed, all the earth’s powerful will worship him; all who are descending to the dust will kneel before him; my being also lives for him. Future generations will serve him; generations to come will be told about my Lord. They will proclaim God’s righteousness to those not yet born, telling them what God has done. (Psalm 22:1-2,7-8,11-12,16-23a,24,29-31 CEB)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to get us all talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Tell us of a time you felt extremely alone and vulnerable, far removed from any help.

2. When people mistreat or abuse me, I tend to see them as a ______ (pick an animal).

Dig

These questions are intended to help us grapple with a Scripture related to the morning’s sermon.

1. This psalm ends (vs.22-31) very differently from the way it begins (vs.1-21)? How so?

2. Which verses in this psalm do you recognize as being alluded to in the NT? Where?

3. This psalm isn’t so much predictive of Christ as it is parallel to his experience. How?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us through his word.

1. When have you seen God as inconsistent or distant? How was this tension resolved?

2. Most painful: physical pain, people distancing themselves, or unanswered prayer?

3. Have you ever powerfully experienced the Lord’s deliverance? Tell us of God’s work!

4. What have you specifically done to express your gratitude over your rescue by God?

5. A fellow Christian going through an ordeal tells you, “God has left me.” How to reply?

6. Vs. 22 appears in Heb 2:12. What does it do for you to know Christ sings with you?

7. What helps you feel closer to God and assists your sense that God is close by?

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this went thru my mind

 

Church: *What People Experience in Churches (Barna report) * Study Says God-Connections at Church are “Rare” * Are You Remarkable? * Setting the Captives Free: Churches that Raided Slave Ships

Counseling: Why I Don’t Advise Pre-Martial Counseling Anymore

Facebook: Why Facebook Users Add And Remove Friends (infographic)

Faith & the Presidency: Jimmy Carter on his Faith-Filled Presidency

Giving & tithing: Paul was Post-Tithing

Islam: Ask a Muslim

Jesus & religion: * Jesus vs. Religion? * Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus

Leadership: * 10 Mistakes Leaders Should Avoid at All Costs * How to Keep Camels Out of Our Tent (required reading)

Marriage: 5 Ways to Build a Solid Foundation for Marriage

Media addiction & multitasking: Multitasking: This Is Your Brain On Media (infographic)

Prayer: The Biggest Problem About Prayer

Resolutions: 12 “Other” Life Resolutions/Habits to Consider

Starting the day: * Slay Your Dragons Before Breakfast (required reading) * The first thing you do when you sit down at the computer

Violence & the Bible: Kingdom Killing of Canaanites? Genocide and Joshua…