This week's Small Group Guide is composed of questions from this week's GPS Guide. The questions relate to the Scripture for that particular day. You can download the full week's GPS as a printable document for the context of each question below (in the printable version, the recommended small group questions are marked with a special bullet point).
Jesus read the first three verses of Isaiah 61 in his hometown synagogue and said he was the fulfillment of that promise (cf. Luke 4:16-21). His knowledge of the passage most likely extended to verse 11’s beautiful promise of God growing “righteousness and praise before all the nations.” Identify one or two ways you are aware of God accomplishing that, either in history or in your life experience today.
Isaiah emphasized his point with Hebrew wordplay. “In Isa 5:7 God looks for “justice” (mishpat), but finds “bloodshed” (mishpah). He seeks “righteousness” (tsedaqa), but gets “cries of distress” (tseaqa). Someone has suggested an English equivalent: ‘He sought equity, but found iniquity, a righteous nation, but instead, lamentation.’”* Have you seen people who began seeking God’s justice or righteousness, but instead produced bloodshed or distress? How can you avoid doing that?
Verse 9, as Jesus used it, was not mainly about eardrums. “In the Bible the ear is synonymous with the heart and mind as an organ of cognition (Prov 2:2; Is 6:9–10), and true hearing involves listening and understanding (Job 34:16).”* What has helped you tune your inner, spiritual “ears” to God’s voice? What helps you persist in seeking to understand God’s teachings, rather than just giving up?
Scholar N. T. Wright wrote, “What he has a problem with is the idea that anyone might play off him and Apollos against one another, within some personality contest based on the human standards of ‘wisdom’ and rhetoric…. Paul is just as cross about people putting him on a pedestal as he is about anybody else being there. There is only one pedestal in the kingdom of God, and only one person to be put on it. But it isn’t a statue to be put up as a monument in a town square. It is a cross; and the Messiah who hung and died on it passed judgment on all human fame, celebrity, popularity and reputation.”* What does it mean to keep Jesus on his cross at the center of your inner vineyard, and not any of Jesus’ human servants who help to water the vines?
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