Prayer Psalm: 37
Prayer Point: Every day we are confronted with stories and images of evil and injustice in the media. There is a temptation to slip into anger and fear. Psalm 37 calls us to a different path. “Do not fret … trust in the Lord … delight yourself in the Lord …” Notice all the things we are commanded to do and do not in the psalm. Pray for the faith to follow this path even though the world is a dangerous place.
Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a field with wheat and weeds. Why can’t the farmers pull the weeds before the harvest? What will happen to the wheat and the weeds after the harvest? Apply this story to the church. Should the church spend energy trying to ferret out people who are not true believers in Christ? Why or why not? Who will take care of that in the future?
1 Timothy 4:1-16
What challenges will the church face in the later times (the time between ascension and the return of Jesus)? Paul teaches Timothy that a gospel way of life is concerned with love, that is living in right relationships with God and with others (see 1 Timothy 1:5; 2:1-2; 2:8-9) What kind of the lifestyle do the false teachers teach (see 1 Timothy 4:2-3 and 1 Timothy 1:20)? How is it different from what Paul taught?
What is Timothy commanded to point out (see verses 4-6), avoid (see verse 7), and train himself to become (verses 7-8)? Where is he to put his hope? How should he handle the fact that he is a young leader in the church? What three things should he focus on? In what two ways should he teach the gospel way of life to the Ephesians? What two things should he watch closely and why?
This section opens with: “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.” (Proverbs 21:30 NIV) There is nothing I can add to that, but I can give you a biblical citation which will underscore that truth. Check out Acts 26:14 “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Here Paul was self-sent on a mission to Damascus to round up the followers of “the Way” to bring them back to Jerusalem. That was not, however, the Lord’s plan.
Verse 31 makes it clear that no matter how much one prepares (for anything) it is the LORD who will determine the outcome. The obvious demonstration of this is the encounter between David and Goliath. Gideon is another. He was commissioned to raise an army to go against a multi-national force. Alas Gideon’s army of 10,000 was much too much. The LORD knew that if Gideon had gone up against such a force and had prevailed, Gideon could then take credit for the victory whereas the victor would be the LORD. So the Lord, by various means, whittled the 10,000 man force to a mere 300 men. Care to guess who won? Care to guess who ended up with the credit? (Of course the questions are rhetorical.)
What is the subject of verse 1 of Chapter 22? (Good character and good reputation are more to be desired than riches.)
What is the main thing we most forget in verse 2? (Before God there is no favoritism either of race or economic status.)
What is the difference between the prudent and the simple in verse 3? (The prudent man can see danger whereas the simple apparently do not.)
According to verse 4 what bring wealth and honor and life? (Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life. Wealth can be defined in any number of ways other than in possessions. I have seen life in the direst of circumstances – quite apart from worldly wealth.)
Verses 5 and 6 go hand in hand. Both verses address rearing and training. The training in referred to in verse six yields its fruit in verse 5. How? (If one is properly trained or reared he will have been instructed against the ways of the wicked and thus will be better able to see the thorns and snares mentioned.)