November 24, 2019

Solomon

Peter Frere | 1 Kings 3:1-15, 1 Kings 11:1-12 

When God offered him anything he wanted, Solomon asked for - and was given - his legendary wisdom. Under his reign Israel achieved its greatest wealth and power, and Solomon fulfilled the task of building the temple. And yet... in just one generation the kingdom broke apart. In the end, says Peter, it took several centuries more for God's true kingdom to be established - a kingdom built not on power and wealth but on sacrifice and humility.

Discussion questions can be downloaded here.

Solomon answered, '... Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?' The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, 'Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.'

King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh's daughter... As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.

November 17, 2019

Lessons for life: Saul

Allan Bartlam | 1 Samuel 8:1-9, 1 Samuel 10:9-11, 1 Samuel 10:17-27 

It all started so well: Saul had everything he needed to serve as Israel's first king, but he made some serious mistakes along the way which led to disaster for him and the nation. Allan traces Saul's path from hero to zero and challenges us to take care of our own lives.

Discussion questions can be downloaded here.

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, 'You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have. But when they said, 'Give us a king to lead us,' this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: 'Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.'

As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul's heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying.

They ran and brought [Saul] out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. Samuel said to all the people, 'Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.' Then the people shouted, 'Long live the king!'

November 10, 2019

Finding freedom and peace

Bobbie Frere | 1 Peter 3:8-15a | Psalm 34:12-16 

We use words like "freedom" and "peace" a lot on Remembrance Sunday, and we are grateful for the absence of tyranny and war, at least in Britain and many other countries. Yet, Bobbie says, true freedom and peace in our lives mean so much more than that. There's a dangerous weapon that we all possess than can be turned to bring good to ourselves and everyone. 

Discussion questions can be downloaded here.

All of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

November 3, 2019

Deborah

Chris Chalmers | Judges 4:1-10 | Ephesians 1:15-19 

Leaders are expected to solve problems, and Deborah faced an especially tough one: her nation was being oppressed by an army that possessed iron chariots. But while the enemy had an advantage in technology, she, as a prophet, had God's voice to guide her and lead her people to victory. When we are confident of our place before God, says Chris, we are equipped to carry out any task to which he calls us.

Discussion questions can be downloaded here.

Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead. So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor... they cried to the Lord for help. Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.