Main Theme: Jesus, our Shepherd, leads us through the bad times as well as the good.
Compare: Psalm 23, with Isaiah 40:11, Jeremiah 23:3-4, Ezekiel 34:12, John 10:14-16, 1 Peter 2:25. Discuss the common threads of these passages.
Study: What do these verses teach us about how the Shepherd cares for His sheep?
Apply: Read Psalm 23:1. The Reina-Valera 1960 version of this passage reads, “Jehová es mi pastor.” How is God your pastor? How does knowing God is your pastor help you have healthy and balanced expectations from your human pastor?
Share: A friend asks if you have ever felt God’s presence leading you like a shepherd? What do you share with your friend?
Read Together: Psalm 23:1-4. Discuss the main idea of this passage.
Study: Where all does the Shepherd lead His sheep? Is it always in a desirable location?
Apply: When going through a dark valley, would you rather be led, followed, guided, pushed, or just left alone? Why?
Share: Your friend asks why Jesus would ever lead you into a dark valley? What do you tell your friend? See Mark 4:35-40.*
Read Together: Psalm 23:5. Discuss the main idea of this passage.
Study: what does it mean to be anointed with oil and have a feast provided for us in the midst of our enemies?
Apply: What types of enemies have you had in your life? How have you responded to those who have tried to hurt you or those you care for? How well did you follow Christ’s words to us in Matthew 5:44, or Paul’s in Romans 12:18-21?
Share: Your friend asks you how God has protected and even blessed you in the presence of your enemies? What do you tell your friend?
Read Together: Psalm 23:6. Discuss the main idea of this passage.
Apply: What picture do you get in your mind if you imagine goodness and unfailing love “pursuing” you? What do you think David meant to tell us about God by describing His care for us this way?
Share: After reading, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,” your friend asks if this includes the bad or even tragic days? If so, how could God’s love and goodness be with us on those days? What do you tell your friend?
* Please notice in this story, it is Jesus’ idea to cross the lake, knowing full well they would run into a storm.
Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me. Genesis 31:7 NKJV
I love how Jacob realized that, even though Laban had cheated him, Laban was not able to hurt him. In Genesis 33, when Jacob tries to repay what he has cheated Esau, Esau tells Jacob that he has plenty and does not need to be repaid. God took care of Jacob when Laban cheated Jacob, and God took care of Esau when Jacob cheated Esau.
But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” Genesis 33:9 NKJV
This is an important lesson on what our attitude should be towards those who have wronged us.
Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.” Wait for the Lord to handle the matter. Proverbs 20:22 NLT
A while back, after a friend had wrongfully taken money from me, I was reading,
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Romans 12:19 KJV
While I had read this many times before, this particular time I saw it in a new light. Yes, it is true that people will hang on their own gallows, Yet rather than just seeing those who have wronged us getting paid back for their wrong, I saw God was telling me, He would repay me what my friend had wrongfully taken.
In Philemon 1:17-18 NLT Paul is pleading for everyone to give Onesimus a second chance in the ministry. Paul tells them,
So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, PAUL, WRITE THIS WITH MY OWN HAND: I WILL REPAY IT. AND I WON’T MENTION THAT YOU OWE ME YOUR VERY SOUL!
Likewise I heard God telling me in Romans 12, “if your friend has robbed you, don’t worry. I will pay you back what they owe you. Don’t take it out on him. Leave him alone, and let Me make it right.”
That is exactly what happened. Right after I read Romans 12, another friend called who had bought some new furniture and wanted to give me their old furniture even thought it was still in excellent condition. God has continued to bless me in many other ways. God has more than paid me back for what my friend had stolen from me.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
Main Theme: God fulfills His promises despite our mistakes.
Read Together: Genesis 32:22-31 and Hosea 12:3-4. Define the main idea of these passages.
Study: What is the spiritual significance of this amazing story?
Apply: What has been your own experience as far as wrestling with God goes? What does it mean to do that, and why is it at times important that we have this kind of experience?
Share: A friend asks you, “If salvation is free, why did Jacob have to struggle with God to overcome?” What do you tell your friend? See also 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
Read Together: Genesis 33. Define the main idea of this passage.
Study: What connection is there between Jacob’s experience of seeing the face of God at Peniel and Jacob’s experience of seeing the face of his brother? What is the implication of this connection in regard to our relationship with God and our relationship with our “brothers,” whoever they may be?
Apply: What have you learned about grace by how others (besides the Lord) have forgiven you?
Share: Even though Jacob cheated Esau, God blessed Esau so much that when Jacob offered to repay him, Esau told Jacob he did not need anything from him. How has God blessed you even when others have cheated you? See Let God pay you Back.
Read Together: Genesis 34. Summarize this story.
Study: What happened to upset his plans for a peaceful existence?
Apply: Over and over we see deceit and deception, as well as acts of kindness and grace, in these accounts. What does this tell us about human nature?
Share: Your child asks, you, “This story is pretty gross! Why is it in the Bible?” What do you tell your child?
Read Together: Genesis 35. Define the main idea of this passage.
Study: What lessons can we take about true worship from what happened here?
Apply: What are subtle ways that idolatry can find its way into our hearts, and what can we do about it?
Share: Without mentioning any names to the class, can you think of a family in your church or community who could use some extra prayers this week? Can you remember to pray for this family during the week?
Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him [a]kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
2 And there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba. So when they had called him to David, the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”
He said, “At your service!”
3 Then the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?”
And Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet.”
4 So the king said to him, “Where is he?”
And Ziba said to the king, “Indeed he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar.”
5 Then King David sent and brought him out of the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, from Lo Debar.
6 Now when Mephibosheth[b] the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, “Mephibosheth?”
And he answered, “Here is your servant!”
7 So David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.”
8 Then he bowed himself, and said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?” 2 Samuel 9:1-8
Main Theme: Jacob deceives and then gets deceived, thus learning what goes around comes around.
Read Together: Genesis 25: 21-34. Discuss the main theme of this passage.
Study: What qualities of Jacob predispositioned him to be more worthy than Esau of Isaac’s blessings?
Apply: Jacob wanted something good, something of value, and that was admirable (especially compared to his brother’s attitude). Yet, he used deception and lies to get it. How can we avoid falling into a similar trap of doing bad so that “good” may come?
Share: Your friend says its okay to tell a white lie in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Do you agree with your friend? Why or why not?
Read Together: Genesis 29:20-30. Define the main idea of this passage.
Study: How and why does God allow for Laban’s deception? What lessons did Jacob learn?
Apply: How can we avoid justifying doing something bad so that good may come?
Share: Your friend asks if God let Jacob get deceived so that he would then realize and be convicted of his own lies. What do you tell your friend?
Read Together: Genesis 30:15-22. Summarize this passage.
Study: How are we to understand the meaning of what takes place here?
Apply: How does this story reveal that God’s purpose will be fulfilled despite human errors?
Share: Your friend asks why God was so good to Leah when Leah was deceptive? What do you share with your friend?
Read Together: Genesis 30:25-32. Define the main idea of this passage.
Study: What is going on here, and what kind of reasoning does Jacob use? What is Laban’s response?
Apply: Have you ever been cheated by an employer? How did you deal with it?
Share: Think of someone who would be encouraged by this week’s message. How can you share it with them this week?