Readings for 20th Sunday after Pentecost, 10/30/11:
Joshua 3:7-17, Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37, 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13, Matthew 23:1-12
- A new chapter for the people, and a new leader - God declares that God will be with Joshua as God was with Moses.
- How well do we handle leadership transitions in the church? So often we focus on the particular person instead of on the ways God is working through people in leadership.
- Another expression of God's presence being made known through strange things happening with water. How many times does water play a significant role in scripture stories? When/how has water played a role in your faith life? What does it mean for our faith when some in our world are without clean, drinkable water?
- Theme of the psalm: God's love is steadfast.
- Steadfast, according to dictionary.com is "Firmly fixed or established; fast fixed; firm. 2. Not fickle or wavering; constant; firm; resolute; unswerving; steady. God's love for us is constant and unwavering. Take comfort!
- Vs 36 - "And there he lets the hungry live." What a great vision of justice where the poor and least are given their own place and home and cared for.
- I ever have trouble with the way Paul describes the work he has done. Good work, for sure, but it would be so nice to hear about it from someone other than Paul!
- Paul urges them to hear his testimony as God's word, rather than human word. How confident are you that you speak God's word rather than your own? How can you be careful to let God speak through you, rather than try to conform God's words to your own thoughts?
- Who, in your life, has urged and encouraged you as Paul has tried to do with the Thessalonians?
- Phylacteries are the boxes that men would tie on to their heads and arms per Old Testament law. The boxes would contain words of scripture, such as, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart . . ."
- Do you think Jesus really means that we are never to call other humans teach, rabbi, father, or instructors? If he doesn't mean something literal, what is his point?
- What titles do you go by? What titles do you give to others? When have you felt it important to use titles?
- "They do not practice what they teach." This is a dangerous game for anyone in a position of authority. Do you practice what you teach? Does the church?
- What burdens do we as the church place on others? Do we burden others with moral standards that make it seem impossible to them to be "good enough" for God and the church?