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.)
It seems likely that Israel used Psalm 24 to honor and celebrate Yahweh’s presence with them, especially at the Temple in Jerusalem. But phrasing it as an invitation also carried a reminder for all God’s people: “It also presupposes that one way or another it’s quite possible for the people of God to keep God out of its midst, as Revelation 3 indicates with its picture of Jesus standing outside the door of a church and knocking to see if he will be admitted.”* In what ways can you keep the door open for God in your own heart, and in the life of your congregation?
“Yahweh, the name of God in the OT, reveals a timeless being who is stable and also able to adapt—a powerful message to our ancestors-in-the-faith and to the faithful today. The Lord God has been for all time and will continue to be for all time, and the Lord God meets and provides for humanity in the moment.”** In what ways does trusting that your God has those qualities give you confidence to “find refuge” in God, particularly at life’s difficult times?
“It’s not even enough to name Jesus as Lord, or perform extraordinary activities (like throwing out demons or working miracles) in his name. What matters is that one put into practice in one’s life the true righteousness of which Jesus had spoken in Matthew 5:20.”*** How would you define the difference between showy outward “righteousness” and an inner as well as outer life that puts “true righteousness” into practice?
This week we’ve seen some of the ways God’s people honored God’s name, not as a kind of magic word, but rather as a sincere expression of Yahweh’s life-giving and life-changing power. And not long centuries later, but within a very few years, we see a similar desire to honor Jesus the Christ. Scholar Craig Keener wrote of the word “Christians” in Antioch: “The title seems a political nickname (resembling Pompeiians— members of Pompey’s party— and other titles of political parties). Those who believed that Christ was king could be accused of treason, and the title “Christians” became a legal charge (1 Peter 4:16), though it was soon embraced by Jesus’ followers as a welcome title.”**** It seems fitting to end our study of the third commandment by reflecting on Peter’s words: “honor God as you bear Christ’s name.” Identify one or two ways you wish to more fully honor God in your life as a “Christian.”
* John Goldingay, Psalms for Everyone, Part 1: Psalms 1–72. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013, p. 78.
** Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford, sidebar note “Name as Identity” in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 1032 OT.
*** Eugene Eung-Chun Park and Joel B. Green, study note on Matthew 7:21-23 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 18 NT.
**** Zondervan, NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook (Kindle Location 248892). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
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