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.)
“[Ezekiel’s] metaphor goes beyond the normal responsibilities of making sure that the sheep are protected and fed. Instead it focuses on the remedial duties, caring for the sick and finding the lost. These equate to the need for kings to bring about justice for alienated and disenfranchised people.”* What are some ways you individually, and your faith community, actively support and work for justice for alienated or disenfranchised people today?
There’s a tragic irony in this story. The “legal experts” could rattle off Micah’s prophecy about Bethlehem but didn’t seem to care about whether it actually meant anything for them. King Herod only cared out of political paranoia. Yet the guests from far away truly sought the new king. How can your worship and Bible study nurture a holy curiosity like the magi’s, not the settled, routine boredom of the scribes?
Against Assyria, Bethlehem (or even the whole kingdom of Judah) seemed insignificant. “Israel usually lived in the shadow of the world of nations that surrounded it, a divided, threatening, and depressing world. It was in no position to make a difference in that world. The prophecy makes astonishing promises to it. God will be the one who makes a difference.”* Have you ever seen God do something big through something that seemed little? Can you trust that in the end God’s kingdom is greater than any earthly power?
Pastor Bruce Milne wrote that “Shepherding is a hard, demanding and costly life, in contrast to the perception of most western Christians (excepting farmers!) influenced by memories of cuddly lambs…. The true shepherd is the good one who endangers himself if called upon.”** What did Jesus’ calling himself “the good shepherd” (to people who knew clearly what shepherding took) say about how he saw his mission?
* HarperCollins Christian Publishing. NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture (Kindle Locations 190424-190426). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
** Bruce Milne, The Message of John. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993, p. 149.
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