BEFORE YOU GATHER
- Familiarize yourself with this Group Discussion Guide
- If you missed it, CLICK HERE to watch the weekend sermon
- Read Isaiah 10:1-4; Isaiah 58:6-12
- Get a feel for the Book of Isaiah as a whole by WATCHING THIS VIDEO
- Sit in prayerful silence with God for a while, and ask the Holy Spirit if there is anything that he wants you to share during your group’s time together.
ISAIAH DEVOTIONAL: PEOPLE OF THE PRESENT
Every week, enhanced content will be provided for those who want to take things beyond their group’s gathered time – to be used for personal enrichment.
When many people think about prophets and prophecy, what comes to mind is a biblical version of a weatherman, forecasting about the future. For modern Christians, this usually means predictions about how the world will end. But this wasn’t how the prophets in the Old Testament intended their words to be heard. In How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart write: “Less than 2 percent of Old Testament prophecy is messianic. Less than 5 percent specifically describes the new-covenant age. Less than 1 percent concerns events yet to come in our time.” This means that 92% of biblical prophecy wasn’t about the future; it was about the present. In other words, how we live in the present really matters to God. God’s heart is for what his people are doing right here and right now. And how are we to live in the present? With justice and compassion. Justice and compassion matter to God because they embody his character, and so God cares deeply about how his people are treating one another.
The Book of Isaiah provides a helpful “heart check up” for Christians, because it’s easy to live for the future, and neglect the present. It’s easy to live for God on Sunday, and neglect our neighbor on Monday. Our music playlists can be full of worship songs that we sing with passion and extravagance, we can wake up early to devote time to read our Bible, we can practice fasting in order to draw near to God, and all the while, we’ve been neglecting our responsibilities to care for the people around us who are created in God’s image.
In Isaiah 1:10-17, God makes it really clear that he could care less about our fasting and worship songs and early morning Bible devotions if we are neglecting our responsibilities to love our neighbor. So what can we do to remedy this? Read Isaiah 58, where God describes the kind of fasting that makes his heart glad; a life where we are engaged in the present, bringing justice and compassion to the people that God loves and gave his life to save. Today, what are some ordinary, everyday ways that you can partner with God to show his mercy and goodness to your neighbors, coworkers, and family?
Opening Prayer: (1-5 minutes)
In light of what God is saying through this week’s message, here’s some suggestions of how your group can invite God into your time together.
Open in prayer by thanking God for blessing us with such riches and resources as Americans. Pray that God would open our eyes and break our hearts for the poor and the outcasts in our community and world. Pray that God would move us to action to share our resources and defend the weak, and would transform us to be more and more like Jesus.
Quick Connection: (5 minutes)
Have everyone take 30 seconds each to share a phrase or a moment from this weekend’s message that is still resonating with them. You also have the option to say “Pass.”
Large Group Discussion: (30 minutes)
This weekend’s message came from Isaiah 10:1-4 and Isaiah 58:6-12. If everyone has a Bible, let’s go there together.
- Did you choose to sponsor a Compassion child? What led you to make that choice? Share about the child(ren) you chose and why.
- What are you doing this summer to distribute resources to those who have so much less than you?
- This weekend, we were reminded that how we treat people matters to God. Who is your neighbor, and how are you showing them that God really does love them?
- What are some ways that you are asking God to use you as a channel for his generous heart?
- Read Matthew 25:31-46. What does doing good have to do with your eternal future?
- The free gift of salvation in Jesus should transform everything about us, affecting not only what we stop doing, but also what we start doing. What are some areas in your life that have been transformed by what you have started/stopped doing in connection with your salvation?
CLOSING PRAYER (5-15 minutes):
In light of what God is saying through this week’s message, here’s some suggestions of what your group could talk about with God in prayer.
Pray that God would give you, as a group and as individuals, eyes to see what He sees in the Bay Area and the world. Pray that He would soften your hearts toward those in need, and give you a vision and direction for how you can care for them. Pray for God to align our hearts with His.