devoted: hear, O Israel

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow, Oct. 21. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning entitled Devoted: Hear, O Israel. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture quotations below are from the Common English Bible (CEB)

Aim

To introduce and to explore what it means to devote our ears, our “hearing,” to God.

Word

• Israel, listen! Our God is the Lord! Only the Lord! (Deuteronomy 6.4)

• He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the sheep in his hands. If only you would listen to his voice right now! (Psalm 95.7; cf. Hebrews 3.7-11)

• Turn your ear toward wisdom, and stretch your mind toward understanding. (Proverbs 2.2)

• God said, “Go and say to this people: Listen intently, but don’t understand … Make the minds of this people dull. Make their ears deaf … so they can’t … hear with their ears, or understand with their minds, and turn, and be healed.” (Isaiah 6.9-10)

• This is why I speak to the crowds in parables: … although they hear, they don’t really hear or understand. (Matthew 13.13; cf. Mark 4.12; John 12.40; Acts 28.26-27)

• God’s children listen to God’s words. You don’t listen to me because you aren’t God’s children. (John 8.47)

• … faith comes from listening, but it’s listening by means of Christ’s message. (Romans 10.17)

• … we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all God’s people. (Colossians 1.4)

• Who was it who rebelled when they heard his voice? Wasn’t it all of those who were brought out of Egypt by Moses? (Hebrews 3.16-17)

• We have a lot to say about this topic, and it’s difficult to explain, because you have been lazy and you haven’t been listening. (Hebrews 5.11)

• Pay attention, you wealthy people! … Listen! Hear the cries of the wages of your field hands. (James 5.1,4)

• If you can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. (Revelation 2.7,11,17,29; 3.6,13,22)

Open

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

1. What sounds or words truly grate on your nerves? Or the opposite: what soothes your spirit?

2. Do you have a physical hearing deficiency? If so, tell us about it.

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. In Proverbs 2.2, “wisdom” is parallel to “understanding.” What is parallel to “your ear?”

2. Discuss Isaiah 6.9-10. What is being said here? Does God prevent some people from hearing him?

3. What is a factor that can make it difficult for one group of people to “hear” another? (James 5.1,4)

Reflect

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

1. Other than the texts listed here, what other texts (making reference to hearing) come to mind?

2. Why is hearing and listening so frequently mentioned in Scripture? What does this say about us?

3. We help each other hear God speak to us. Tell us of a time someone helped you truly and deeply hear, perhaps even for the first time, some important teaching of God.

4. What we hear about others sticks in our mind like glue (cf. Colossians 1.4). What would others say are some of the things they hear you communicate about most often, or most passionately? That is, what would others say you often, and zealously, put into their “ears?” Why?

5. What words do you think readily come to the minds of those who are yet to believe in our culture when they hear the word “Christ,” “church,” or “Church of Christ?” Why?

6. What can a person do to improve their deep listening to God? To others? What are you doing?

this went thru my mind

 

Age & technology: In Wi-Fi Intoxicated Manhattan, a Generation of Teetotalers

““The worst is not knowing what it is, not knowing how to get there, and knowing that everyone around you is completely hooked in.”

Americanism, faith, idolatry & nationalism: * Why Americanism and Christianity Will Never Be Reconcilable by Paul Smith; * How America Can Become Like Christ by Paul Smith

* “A word of warning here. Hard-core, dyed-in-the-wool, wrap the Bible in the American flag, ‘America first and always’ patriots are not going to like this post.”

* “One of the main problems I have with my fellow Christians in this country today is that we have surrendered our spiritual birthright for a pot of political stew. We equate patriotism with Christianity.”

Non-violence & pacifism: * Should Christians Really Only Use Non-Violent Resistance to Things Like War/Genocide? by Greg Boyd [required reading]; * From Soldier to Pacifist by Matt Young

* “There is no denying that it is easier to be a pacifist when your loved ones are not being slaughtered. But that doesn’t mean that only a person who is in the midst of having loved ones slaughtered can espouse pacifism – though it does mean that such a person must try, as much as possible, to imaginatively place themselves in a position where their loved ones are being slaughtered. … The thing is, Jesus advocated this pacifism in a context where his loved ones’ were being abused and even slaughtered!”

* “As a result of this new-found conviction, I was caught between a rock and a hard place. I wanted to follow what I believe are the clear teachings of Jesus, but I was also a Soldier. What could I do?!”

Husbands & marriage: 10 Things Husbands Should Never Do in their Marriage by Trey Morgan

“Never plop your fat rear-end down in a chair after work without first asking your wife if she needs some help with something.”

Money: How Should I Manage My Money? by Patrick Mead

“Is it better to help few now, or plan to help, and carry out helping, many later?  If later, what about the people that need help now and don’t get it, supposedly suffering or dying in the meantime?”

it’s time to be civil (2)

 

“I am convinced that, to a significant extent, life is what our relationships make it. … Good relationships make our lives good; bad relationships make our lives bad. We are usually happy (or unhappy) with others. Although at times we can be happy in spite of others, we are usually happy thanks to them, thanks to the good relationships we have with them. To learn how to be happy we must learn how to live well with others, and civility is a key to that. Through civility we develop thoughtfulness, foster effective self-expression and communication, and widen the range of our benign responses Civility allows us to connect successfully with others.”

Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni (St. Martin’s Press, 2002); p.6