The desert and the dry land will be glad … will burst into bloom, and rejoice with joy and singing. They will receive the glory of Lebanon, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the Lord’s glory, the splendor of our God. (Isaiah 35.1-2 CEB)
… renewing by the Holy Spirit … (Titus 3.5)
Then all the trees in the countryside will know that I, the Lord, bring down the tall tree and raise up the lowly tree, and make the green tree wither and the dry tree bloom. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it. (Ezekiel 17.24 CEB)
NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow night (March 24). This guide will enable your follow-up in our LIFE groups of my sermon tomorrow morning. This sermon is part three in a series that deals with some of the most commonly misunderstood and misused Scriptures. The series title is I Do No Think It Means What You Think It Means. This second sermon in the series deals with Proverbs 22.6 and is entitled “The ‘Where Did I Go Wrong?’ Verse.” Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below are from the CEB.
To examine familiar Scripture more closely, so as to correct our misunderstanding.
• … all the earth’s nations will be blessed because of him [Abraham]. I have formed a relationship with him so that he will oversee his children and his household after him. And they will keep to the Lord’s path, being moral and just so that the Lord can do for Abraham everything he said he would. (Genesis 18.18-19)
• Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength. These words that I am commanding you today must always be on your minds. Recite them to your children. Talk about them when you are sitting around your house and when you are out and about, when you are lying down and when you are getting up. (Deuteronomy 6.5-7)
• Listen, my people, to my teaching … I’ll declare riddles from days long gone—ones that we’ve heard and learned about, ones that our ancestors told us. … we’ll tell the next generation all about the praise due the Lord and his strength—the wondrous works God has done. (Psalm 78.1-4)
• Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won’t depart from it. (Proverbs 22.6)
• … parents, don’t provoke your children to anger, but raise them with discipline and instruction about the Lord. (Ephesians 6.4)
• I’m reminded of your authentic faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice. I’m sure that this faith is also inside you. … Since childhood you have known the holy scriptures that help you to be wise in a way that leads to salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 1.5; 3.15)
Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.
1. Tell us what you know of your genealogy or lineage of faith, or the lack thereof.
2. Name a Bible character who chose unbelief over their parents of faith. Or vice versa.
These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.
1. What’s the intended point of the last sentence of the Deut. 6.5-7 text? What’s the relationship of this sentence with the opening sentence of that passage?
2. Taken by itself, Proverbs 22.6 can sound like a promise. Why is it not a promise?
3. How could Christian parents “provoke” their “children to anger,” perhaps even over matters of faith (Eph. 6.4)? Let your answers arise from the rest of Ephesians 6.
These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.
1. Why do you have faith now at this point in your life? What are the biggest factors?
2. What are some huge points of influence at work today that are eroding away faith?
3. Which plays a bigger role in influencing youth: teaching truth or living truth? Why?
4. Think of someone who left faith, but came back. What did they say led to renewal?
5. What have you seen a church actually do to help parents raise kids of faith that worked?
Commission: Called and Commissioned by Rubel Shelly
“The idea of leaving God’s work in the hands of a few talented professionals just isn’t biblical or practical.”
“First-century rock drawings in the Sinai and more than 700 fifth-century B.C.E. canine skeletons … attest to the historical prominence of the Canaan dog, a pointy eared breed that has lived in Israel since Biblical time. … An online petition is raising awareness to protect Israel’s official breed, but a court decision could mark the end of an effort to sustain the ancient pedigree.”
Health: 4 Critical Gauges for Your Life and Work by Michael Nichols
“… a friend introduced me to 4 health gauges to assess my life and work – Physical, Mental, Spiritual, and Emotional. For more than 20 years, Bill Hybels has talked about these 4 gauges, but this was my first experience with them.”
“Fanning, shaped by evangelists associated with [Barton W.] Stone and mentored by Alexander Campbell … was David Lipscomb’s mentor. … Fanning was a unique theological combination of Stone and Campbell and this was the legacy he left to many leaders in Middle Tennessee. … Though … Middle Tennessee voted 88% for secession in June . In this climate, Fanning attempted to persuade his readers to choose peace.”
Parenting: Brainwashing our Kids with Religion by Jared Byas
“How do you teach your kids about Jesus but also teach them to think for themselves? … For our family, we have decided that we are Christians and that we will raise our children as Christians. But along with our personal beliefs and the Christian tradition, we will indoctrinate them with a Christian faith that (1) respects religious diversity, (2) respects Christian diversity, and (3) humbly accepts they might be wrong.”
Prejudice: Ethnocentrism & Politics by Richard Beck
“Ethnocentrism is a mental habit. It is a predisposition to divide the human world into in-groups and out-groups. It is a readiness to reduce society to us and them. Or rather, it is a readiness to reduce society to us versus them.”
Productivity: 5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day by Michael Hyatt
“Did you know those who take a midday siesta at least three times a week are 37 percent less likely to die of heart disease? Working men are 64 percent less likely!”
Questions: 7 Suggestions for Asking More Powerful Questions by Michael Hyatt
“If you are going to be a successful leader, you are going to have to learn how to ask good questions. Here are seven tips for taking this skill to the next level.”
Receptivity & success: When to Wipe Our Shoes: What Does “Receptive” Mean? by Dan Bouchelle
“Jesus gives us a number for what defines receptivity: one.”
Sabbatical: My Monthly Trip To The Monastery by Brian Jones
“I’ve found that if I don’t get away about once a month and “clear my head” by refocusing and reprioritizing what’s on my plate, I lose my mind.
Self-control & spiritual disciplines: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Lenten Disciplines by Rob Moll
“Neuroscience sheds light on how fasting and other spiritual disciplines work by training our subconscious mental processes. We think of ourselves as entirely the activity of our conscious thoughts. In reality, our brain has thousands of sub-conscious processes going on all the time.”
The tree of life: The Tree of Life by Richard Oster
“What one discovers is that nations of the Ancient Near East also had traditions about sacred trees, trees of life. … This reality does not “prove” that Israel’s understanding of the tree of life was borrowed from anyone else, but it does suggest at the least that the belief in the sacred tree was part of the religious lingua franca of both Israel and the Ancient Near East.”
Aging: Aging Well with Dr. Dan Blazer, Part 2: Successful Aging by Christine Scheller
“The perception of old age as a depressing season of life, however, is not confirmed in scientific studies of the elderly, Blazer concluded. Instead studies consistently show that only about 15 percent of older adults exhibit depressive symptoms.”
Application: How to Apply Scripture When It Does Not Speak Directly and Personally to You by Justin Taylor
“… we believe that ‘all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.’ But sometimes it is hard to see how.”
“Evernote Hello is based around the three fundamental ways that our brains actually remember people: (1) Faces – What do you look like?, (2) Time – When did we meet?, and (3) Context – Why did we meet and who else was there?”
Attitude: * How a Shift in Your Vocabulary Can Instantly Change Your Attitude by Michael Hyatt; * It’s Not That I Have To; It’s That I Get To by Chaplain Mike
“The first expression (i.e., I have to do it) is the language of duty. Nothing wrong with that. I am all for responsibility. But too often, we say it with a sigh, like it’s a sentence—or we are a victim. The second expression (i.e., I get to do it) is the language of privilege. It is as if we have been given a gift, and we are relishing the opportunity. This subtle shift may seem small, but it has had a big impact on my attitude. I am choosing the language of privilege every chance I get.”
Bible interpretation & study: * Why Studying the Bible Won’t (Necessarily) Change Your Life by Trevin Wax; * Paul’s Example on How to Deal with Silence in Scriptures by Matt Dabbs
“Bible study alone is not what transforms your life. Jesus transforms your life.”
Bible translation: An Evaluation of the 2011 Edition of the New International Version by Rodney J. Decker
“There is no one translation that is best in every situation.”
Church: Why Do People Stay? by Joe McKeever
“We have two kinds of people in our churches today: those who flit from church to church, never putting down roots or establishing relationships and finding their ministries, and those who will stay in a church regardless. It’s the second group that puzzles me.”
Christmas: * For Those Who are Hurting This Christmas Season by Thom Rainer; * Frankincense Comes From a Tree by Ferrell Jenkins; * Some Things You May Not Hear About Myrrh in a Sermon by Ferrell Jenkins
“In the midst of our own pain, we have the hope and promise of the gospel. May we ever be messengers of that gospel to those who are hurting and need to see that hope.”
Death: 10 Signs Death is Approaching by Paula Spencer Scott
“Not all dying symptoms show up in every person, but most people experience some combination of the following in the final days or hours …”
Heroes: Five Ways You Can Become An Everyday Hero by Michael Hyatt
“It’s easy to underestimate the power of one person’s influence. We think, What can I do? I am only one person. The truth is that each of us wields far more power than we could possibly imagine. However, most of us have never discovered this—or we have forgotten it.”
Iraq war: Iraq Ledger: War by the Numbers
“Coalition deaths totaled 4,803, of which 4,484 (93 percent) were American. The number of Americans wounded was 32,200. At least 463 non-Iraqi contractors were killed. Iraqi civilian deaths are estimated to total between 103,674 and 113,265. … the war resulted in 1.24 million internally displaced persons and more than 1.6 million refugees.”
Islam: How to Respond to Our All-American Muslim Neighbors by Margot Starbuck
“… pursue an authentic relationship with a person in your community who practices Islam. Now that would be radical.”
Loving one’s enemies: Hating Pixels: A Modern Day Reflection on the Sermon on the Mount by Richard Beck
“Might the souls of my liberal friends be hanging in the balance depending upon how they love (or fail to love) Sarah Palin? Might the souls of my conservative friends be hanging in the balance depending upon how they love (or fail to love) Barack Obama?”
Marriage: Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married – A Record Low (Pew Research)
“In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are.”
Moving forward: New Year: 4 Ways to Move Ahead Instead of Remaining Stuck by Jim Martin
“Maybe some of us do not grow, develop, or mature because we rarely address the reality of our lives. Maybe we have allowed ‘but’ to excuse our behavior. The following are 4 ways to move ahead into this New Year instead of remaining stuck.”
Politics: 48% – The Generations and Politics: Who Was Our Best President? (Pew Research)
“When asked which president has done the best job in their lifetime, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are the two most popular choices. Sizeable numbers in each of the four generational groups — including majorities of Millennials and Gen Xers — cite Clinton as either their first or second choice on the ‘best president’ question.”
Productivity: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less by Tony Schwartz
“… increased rest and renewal serve performance.”
Silence & solitude: Just Sit There by Peter Enns
“Why is it so hard to be alone?”
Women: Women and the Public Reading of Scripture by Scot McKnight
“Anyone who says reading Scripture is a teaching ministry is just making stuff up. Reading is reading and teaching is teaching, and preaching is preaching, and prophesying is prophesying, but reading is not teaching, preaching or prophesying. Women were prophets, women were apostles, women were teachers – this is all in the New Testament. That more than qualifies them for the public reading of Scripture.”
But even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, the person that we are on the inside is being renewed every day. (2 Corinthians 4:16 CEB)