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March 31, 2013–Treasure in Plain Sight

Contributed by Sylvia Alloway, Granada Hills, CA


Warm-up Question

Have you ever been wrong about someone? Have you ever rejected a person as odd, stupid, or untrustworthy and later discovered that you were mistaken? What was the situation? What happened?

Treasure in Plain Sight

shutterstock_12168025editThe white bowl with the pointy, leaf-like pattern shaped into it had sat on the mantle in a New York state home for several years. The family had paid three dollars for it at a tag sale. A belated curiosity about the trinket’s origin led the family to an assessor and a big surprise. Their humble little bowl was 1,000-year-old Chinese treasure, an example of “Ding” pottery from the Northern Song dynasty.

Given to the famous auction house Sotheby’s to sell, it was expected to fetch around $200,000. A bidding war among four art collectors resulted in a price ten times that much, $2.2 million.


Discussion Questions

  • There is an old saying: He knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. What does this mean? What is the difference between price and value?
  • Is there anything in your life that you value, even though it is not worth much money? What? Why?
  • Think about what people without Christ value, compared to what Christians value. Is there a difference? What is it?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, March 31, 2013 (Resurrection of Our Lord Easter Day)


Acts 10:34-43

1 Corinthians 15:19-26

Luke 24:1-12

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.


Gospel Reflection

There are two Bible stories that are so familiar to Christians that we hardly pay attention to the words when we hear them. One is the story of Jesus birth, the other is the story of his resurrection. These two miracles are the heart of Christianity, special occasions in the church. We give thanks, sing some songs, and go about our business.

But think about these words: “There were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night.”

Um, yeah. So?

Shepherds were considered unclean by upper class Jews. They were not invited into homes. They were not allowed to testify in court. They were outcasts. Yet, these despised people were the first to hear about Jesus’ birth. God valued them and their strong, simple faith. He entrusted them with the news of his Son’s arrival. Sure enough, they ran to tell anyone they could find that the Messiah was born.

In today’s lesson we read the familiar story of the women finding the empty tomb. Women, too, were outcasts, thought inferior to men. Women, too, could not testify in court, because they would not be believed. (Notice how the disciples react when they hear the women’s testimony.) Yet God again chooses outcasts as the first to behold the culmination of his great plan of salvation, the greatest event in the history of the world. Again he gives them a message to tell. He shows how much he values those whom the world rejects.

God does not choose people who think they are worth more than others to spread the news of his salvation. He values the humble, the willing, the faithful, as if they were million-dollar treasures. He paid for them, for us, a price immeasurably greater than money. He paid with his lifeblood.

Let us run and tell!

Discussion Questions

  • In today’s world humility is not considered a very valuable trait. Why is this so?
  • What is the value of humility? What can humble people accomplish that those who think they are great can’t?
  • Christians are often considered outcasts in the non-Christian world. How can we follow the example of the shepherds and the women in telling others the Good News?

Activity Suggestions

  •  Think of a way the class can tell the Good News of Christ’s resurrection. Do it.
  • Talk about what makes a person an outcast among young people. How we can value outcasts and not reject them as the world does?
  • Sing any resurrection song

Closing Prayer

God of the humble, Savior of the outcast, we ask for true humility. Convict us when we put someone down or leave someone out. May the joy of your salvation fill us so that others can see and know that there is hope in you. In Our Savior’s Holy Name, Amen.

January 26-February 1, 2011–More than Happy

Contributed by David Delaney, Salem, VA

Warm-up Question

If we move away from the word “blessed” for a minute and think of the word “happy” instead, what kinds of things come to mind when you imagine yourself as happy?  Think about experiences right now rather than a definition of the word.  Are you more likely to think of something you already occasionally do or experience or are you more likely to think of your future, a vision or goal for the good life?  If you and your group write all of these things down, do you see things in common or are you all over the map?  Do they tend to be things that give you immediate pleasure, recreation, and thrill, or things that turn you outward, relate to deeper meanings, or reorient your attitudes in a way that have longer value?  Do any of your experiences sound like anything in Matthew 5:1-12?

As we start to build an understanding of the meaning of the word “blessing” or “blessed,” what other words besides “happiness” and “happy” can you associate with those ideas?

More Than Happy

In mid-January an elderly couple won more than 300 million dollars in the Mega-Millions lottery, which they took in a lump sum rather than annual payments.   In an interview, they said they are determined not to go the way of so many other large lottery winners who have ended up on welfare after a few years because of reckless spending.  In spite of the plans they’ve announced to give a lot of their winnings away to charities and other major gifts, they have still already been inundated with hundreds requests for money and the simple task of responding to those requests has required a huge amount of time.

Not too many days after that lottery win, a woman in Tucson named Patricia Maisch probably saved more than a dozen lives by grabbing the extra gun clip from deranged killer Jared Lee Loughner in the middle of his January 8th shooting spree.   She has since been interviewed by more than two dozen news  organizations from around the world, including live television interviews.  She insists that she is not a hero, but this event has allowed her to speak out about gun violence, extreme political rhetoric, and the courage of those around her during the shooting.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you think that any of these people would describe themselves as “blessed”?
  • One couple had a dream come true – a huge amount of money dropped in their lap.  The other woman was unhurt in an incident in which 19 were shot and helped prevent the shooting of many others.  How does that help our emerging understanding of the being “blessed”?
  • What other examples can we think of where something that looks at first like a “blessing” might have another side to it, or on the other hand, something that sounds difficult and disruptive ends up providing a blessing we didn’t expect?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, January 30, 2011 (Fourth Sunday after Epiphany)

Micah 6:1-8

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Matthew 5:1-12

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Even though verse one of Matthew 5 suggests that Jesus is to be seen as the new Moses, the content of this set of teachings does not really parallel Exodus 19 and 20 very closely.  The commandment words in this chapter consist of things like “Rejoice and be glad!” and “Let your light so shine!”  As these chapters progress through what is called “the Sermon on the Mount,” they are more *descriptive* of what life following Jesus is like rather than *prescriptive* in the sense of dictating a set of do’s and don’t’s.   The call in 5:20 that the Christian’s righteousness must exceed that of the hyper-law-keeping Scribes and Pharisees is a strong clue that this righteousness of which Jesus speaks can only come as a gift from God and not from one’s own hard work and good behavior.

This attitude of receptivity and dependence on God’s grace that serves as the key to the entire Sermon on the Mount points back to our passage, where one wonders how it could ever be possible that the “poor in spirit” would be the very ones destined for heaven, or the meek would inherit the earth.  We are naturally suspicious of claims that showing mercy will elicit mercy from others, because our world does not appear to work that way.

This is what makes being a follower of Christ both the joy and the challenge that is described here.  To trust God for the fulfillment all of these promises is both our greatest unburdening (because it doesn’t depend on us!) and our greatest test (because such trust is an enormous risk!).

Discussion Questions

  • In verse one, Jesus goes up on a mountain to teach and invite his followers to a new kind of “law” for life.   Who does this remind us of from the Old Testament (answer = Moses) and what do we think the gospel writer wants us to understand about Jesus from this connection?
  • What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”?  Does our understanding of this phrase change if we paraphrase it as “those who know they need the spirit of God”?
  • What are some synonyms for “meek” ?  Some possibilities are “humble,” “gentle.”
  • It is possible to make two lists from the characteristics of the blessed in this passage:  one list contains the things that are more like life-experiences that happen *to* us – mournful, persecuted, slandered;  the other list contains things that have more to do with our attitudes and actions – meekness, mercy, purity in heart, peacemaking.  Some, like “poor in spirit” and “hungry for righteousness” could be both, because they can come from a natural humility or the experience of being deflated from our pride or self-righteousness.  What do we learn about following Jesus from this?  Is the blessed life an active and willful life, or passive and receptive, or both?
  • Return to the question of what “blessed” means.  Many translations of Matthew 5 actually use the word “happy,” which is one perfectly correct rendering of the Greek word makarios which appears here.  It may be, however, that “blessed” is still a better choice because it suggests that this condition of well-being is something that happens to a person  or comes as a gift rather than something that someone does to attain happiness or blessedness.  Which of these is the better way of describing the result of following Christ, trusting the gospel, and obeying Christ’s commands?
  • Some have noted that Matthew’s version of these “Beatitudes” differs from the list in Luke 6:20-31 particularly in that the Lukan list seems more deeply based in the actual experience of physical poverty, hunger, and persecution.   As if to emphasize the point, Luke also contains a list of warnings to those who have all of their needs currently met.  How literally should we take these descriptions of human conditions in Matthew 5 and Luke 6?  Can blessedness come from spiritual hunger just as much as physical hunger?
  • How do we imagine that these blessings become real in the lives of people who experience the hardships Jesus describes?  Is it simply a direct line from God to the individual?  Or do we who have experienced these things before or who are already equipped with the good news of the gospel and the means to relieve suffering play a role on God’s behalf in bringing blessing to others?
  • Some have been critical of these promises in Matthew because they can be seen as self-centered or unrelated to a community of relationships.   Yet if we take the example of verse 12, the blessing experienced by the prophets of Israel  even while they were being persecuted or killed was not simply a personal heavenly reward, but that the nation and the people heard the word of God, which – as the scriptures promise – is effective whether we see it or not!  Is it possible that the blessedness that is promised to *you* as someone who experiences these things really becomes a fuller blessing in the experience of those around you who share in it also?

Suggested Activity

On a sheet of paper that you will fold up and carry with you this week as a reminder, list the names of actual people you know to whom you can relate in a new way according to this list of promises from Jesus.   Is there someone in your life for whom you only have contempt or conflict?  How can you be “poor in spirit” in your conversations with them?  Do you know someone who is consumed by a lifestyle of destructive behavior or shallow thrill?  Can your “hunger and thirst for righteousness” provide a suggestion of another way to live?  Is there someone in your life who needs mercy and forgiveness from you or others?  Can you show mercy and forgiveness to that person, knowing that it may not be received or returned?   Are you afraid of the consequences of representing the love of God in Christ Jesus to others in word and/or deed?  Recall that the promise of verses 11 and 12 are not just that you have a heavenly consolation for your courage and trouble, but that there may be others nearby who have desperately needed to hear and see the witness of someone who believes that God’s grace can really make a difference.   Who in your life could benefit from that witness?

Let this list of people be your personal prayer list for the week and also your reminder that God’s promises for following Christ as described here in Matthew 5 are true!

Closing Prayer

Lord Jesus, giver of every blessing, we rejoice that the wisdom and promises you first shared with your disciples has come down to us and still remains true today.  Help us to come to you as your followers did in those days and to welcome your word with gladness, even as it calls us to repentance and service.   We lift before you for your blessings all those whose spirits call out for relief and righteousness, all who mourn the loss of loved ones, who feel disenfranchised and isolated, and whose fondest desire is that they could feel strong enough to show mercy and forgiveness in the face of persecution and hatred.  Give us, along with all your people, joy and gladness for the reward that is ours in your kingdom.

June 9-15, 2010–A Perfect Life?

Contributed by Stephanie Opsal,  West Des Moines, IA

Warm-up Question

What do you think it would be like to be a celebrity?

A Perfect Life?

Britney Spears is one of many booming pop stars who started high but experienced troubles later on.  Her fame began when she was a blonde, teenage pop singer, reaching the top of the U. S.  pop music charts by age 17.  Her music played a key role in reviving the “teen pop” icon in the late 1990s.  She has sold over 85 million albums.

Yet her shining appearance is not evidence of a perfect life.  She has lived through two divorces, little privacy, mental breakdowns, rehabilitation centers, and losing custody of her kids.  A recent article describes how she shaved her head in a public salon for attention or due to emotional disturbance.

A song I remember from her second major album, Oops!.. I Did It Again, featured a song called “Lucky”.  The lyrics of the song describe the struggles of life for all people, even a stylish Hollywood star named Lucky:

“And they say..
She’s so lucky, she’s a star.
But she cry cry cries in her lonely heart, thinking
If there’s nothing missing in my life
Then why do these tears come at night?”

By the look of it, Lucky has everything, but something is still missing in her life.  Even the most famous people experience everyday struggles like you and me, and sometimes immensely greater problems as well.  Many embarrassing details of Britney’s personal life are open to the public, but no other celebrity’s life is perfect either, even if you can’t always see behind the dazzling star image.

Discussion Questions

  • Who’s your favorite celebrity?  Why?
  • Did you ever want to be famous?  Why?  Do you think that life would be easy?  Describe the perks and drawbacks you think would be associated with a celebrity’s life.
  • If you had the choice right now to be a famous person or an everyday person, which life would you choose?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, June 13, 2010, (Third Sunday of Pentecost)

2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-15

Galatians 2:15-21

Luke 7:36-8:3

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Simon the Pharisee, whom Jesus visits in this week’s gospel reading, is a very law-abiding, righteous man who thinks highly of himself.  He feels very dignified before his guest, Jesus.  In contrast, the woman labeled “a sinner” kneels behind Jesus her Lord and weeps.  She gives him all that she can offer, pouring out costly perfume onto his feet and humbling herself completely.  What causes the difference in the responses of the Pharisee and the woman to Jesus?

The woman recognizes the reality of her sins and her true need for forgiveness.  She yearns for the grace and peace that only Jesus can offer.  The Pharisee, on the other hand, thinks he is following the Law perfectly and, thus, has no need for any forgiveness, let alone from this man Jesus who associates with sinners. 

So Jesus tells Simon a parable about two debtors, one owing 50 denarii and another owing 500 denarii.  Which one, Jesus asks Simon, will be more grateful when the creditor forgives both debts?  Simon gives what seems to be the obvious answer, “the one with the larger debt.”  But Simon’s great problem is that he is blind to his debt; he is not grateful because he does not think he owes anything.  He takes God’s forgiveness for granted.  He does not see that his pride is as serious a sin as anything this weeping woman has done.

Both Simon and the woman are in need of God’s forgiveness. The difference is that she knows her need and receives Jesus’ forgiveness, while the Pharisee, in his arrogant blindness, treats Jesus discourteously (he does not kiss him, wash his feet, or anoint his head with oil).  Simon receives little because he asks for little—and therefore shows little love in return.  The woman, acknowledging her need, receives the forgiveness she longs for. 

Jesus shows us that we are all in need of God’s forgiveness.  The Law helps us realize how much we sin, even when we’re being “good” like the Pharisee; it calls us to admit our need for grace.  Without Jesus’ perfect death for all sin and His resurrection from the dead, we would die forever. 

Sometimes we take this amazing gift for granted.  Because we hear about Jesus all the time, we incorrectly think that we would be “good enough” to make it into heaven on our own.  Like the Pharisee, we may look down on others who seem to be spectacularly sinful people.  In actuality, everyone is a sinner.  Britney Spears, a thief, your family members, a pastor, the president, you, and I are all sinners.  Our good actions are not enough to counteract our sinful mistakes in life.  In Britney Spears’ song, Lucky’s success doesn’t fulfill her; she is missing Jesus and His forgiveness in her life.  Like this humble woman, let us rejoice every day and give thanks to Jesus with all that we are.  Jesus forgives our every mistake.  By His sacrifice, he reunites us with a loving God.  What an awesome gift!

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think forgiveness and love go together?
  • Try to see yourself from the perspective of both the Pharisee and the woman.  Describe a situation where you thought your actions were fine only to discover you had been blind to a failing.  Describe another time when you admitted your sin to God and accepted His forgiveness.
  • Do you agree with the message of Jesus’ parable?  Does one forgiven a greater debt always feel greater gratitude?
  • Consider the ideas of “law” and “grace”.  Which one is harder for you to accept?  Some persons struggle more with noticing and admitting their  sin, thinking they have no need of forgiveness because, compared to many, they are pretty good.  Others are so burdened by guilt that they can not really accept forgiveness offered by God’s grace.   Where is your greatest challenge?

Activity Suggestions

  • Write a song or poem about something you learned from today’s gospel reading.  It can be directly about the story or more about a moral lesson, like the song “Lucky”.  If you want, your group could work together and perform the song.  If you prefer, you can draw a picture highlighting an aspect of the story.
  • At the end of our gospel reading in the first three verses of Luke chapter 8, some forgiven sinners accompany Jesus and His disciples as they go out to share the good news of Jesus’ forgiveness.  Tell at least one person this week why Jesus’ forgiveness is important to your life.

Closing Prayer

Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we praise you for your gift of forgiveness.  Help us to more deeply understand and appreciate this eternal gift you gave to all your people.  We thank you for the example of this weeping woman; may we give our lives to you as well.  We pray for all who struggle but place their hope in something less than you, O God.  Help them to see their sin and their need for the grace given through the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray.   Amen.

February 24-March 2, 2010–Accepting the Challenge

Contributed by Daniel Wiessner, Tacoma, Wash.

Warm-up Question

Have you ever done something that you knew was dangerous?  Why did you do it?  Some possibilities: peer pressure, standing up for a friend, pride in your own accomplishments, just for the thrill.

Accepting the Challenge

A number of sports carry hazards. (Football comes to mind.) This year’s Winter Olympics reminds us of the inherent dangers of a person traveling at 90 miles per hour. The luge track at the Whistler Sliding Center, in British Columbia, was touted as the fastest course around, but speed and a small misstep in practice proved fatal for Georgian Olympian, Nodar Kumaritashvili.

While the only other luge-related death in the Olympics was way back in 1964, Kumaritashvili’s death has raised the more general issue of athletes’ safety in professional sport competitions such as the Olympics.

Kumaritashvili had apparently expressed concerns about the safety of this particular track, but he, like his fellow sliders, took on the risk. In the same way, we all accept challenges which pose some sort of danger, be it social, emotional, or even the possibility of physical harm. Even with the risk, the goal of succeeding in our ventures drives our ambition to go for the gold.

Article source:

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you know anyone who has ever been hurt in a sport? Do you think the growing intensity of sports today makes them too dangerous?
  2. If the chances of serious injury (or even death!) from participating in your favorite leisure time activity increased 5%, would you still do it? 15%? 40%?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, February 28, 2010 (Second Sunday of Lent)

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Luke 13:31-35

Gospel Reflection

In the gospel lesson this week, Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem and begin the climax of the Gospel story.  The Pharisees are warning Jesus about Herod. This is the same Herod who, not long before, was responsible for the death of John the Baptist. Rather than turning tail, however, Jesus gave the messengers another message to deliver: Jesus was going to cure illness and cast out demons like he had been doing the whole time, and then “on the third day” (soon) he will finish his work. Finish his work? Jesus knew exactly what was coming. In the church year, this journey to Jerusalem marks the beginning of the season of Lent, and on Good Friday Jesus will give his life to pay for the sins of the whole world.

Athletes may train their entire lives with dreams of competing at the Olympic Games, despite the dangers of their craft. Similarly, Jesus’ life of selfless acts of saving and healing culminates with his trip to Jerusalem. In the same way that past hazards had not changed his message or direction, Jesus would not be swayed by warnings about a murderous Herod. Athletes risk life and limb for a shot at the gold; Jesus went to Jerusalem knowing that he would give himself as the ultimate sacrifice for us all.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some of your personal goals? What are you doing to reach them? What “dangers” are you facing in your pursuit of these goals?
  2. Have you ever walked into a situation knowing that it wasn’t going to end well, but also knowing that good was going to come out of it?


Activity Suggestion

Talk to someone you know and greatly respect. Ask what hurdles he or she crossed in order to accomplish major life goals.

Closing Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you for the talents you have given us, and our ability to meet life’s tough challenges head-on. Please watch us and keep us safe as we venture through this week. Amen.

January 20-26, 2010 – Some Trips Don’t Go as Planned

Contributed by Stephanie Opsal, West Des Moines


Have you ever felt hesitant to trust someone or something?




(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File, Yahoo Inc. Dec 23, 2009)

 A Nevada couple traveling home from Portland, Oregon faced an unpleasant surprise on their drive Christmas Day.  Their SUV’s handy GPS calculated their route based on the shortest distance, and they trusted it without factoring in current weather conditions.  John Rhoads and Starry Bush-Rhoads followed their navigation system south until the GPS guided them down Forest Service Road 28 near the town of Silver Lake.  Thirty-five miles down this remote road, they plowed ahead and got stuck in about a foot and a half of snow.

 After two and a half days, the couple was finally able to get a weak signal on their cell phone and reached a county sheriff.  Ironically, they had a GPS-enabled phone which sent their location to 911.  A Lake County deputy was able to tow their Toyota Sequoia out of the Winema-Fremont National Forest with a winch.  Both John and Starry made it home to Reno, Nevada safely.

 Fortunately, the Rhoads were well-prepared for their winter trek, carrying lots of warm clothes, food, water, and supplies.  With these goods, they managed the weekend in the snowy car without severe injury.  They realized that although their hi-tech GPS gave them direction, it was not foolproof and not to be relied on alone.


  • What electronic or technological devices do you use every day?
  • How would your life be different if you did not have any of those electronics or if an important device suddenly stopped working properly?  (For example, if your computer or phone stopped working or the electricity went out in the winter).
  • How might you put too much faith in these things?  (For example, a girl saved a bunch of pictures on her computer without also saving them to a memory card or disc, and she lost them when her computer crashed).
  • Have you ever gotten stuck in a snow storm?  What did you do?


SCRIPTURE TEXTS (NRSV) FOR SUNDAY, JANUARY 24, 2010 (3rd Sunday after Epiphany)

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

 For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

             Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

            1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

            Luke 4:14-21


The word “epiphany” means “to show”, “to make known”, or “to reveal.”   The Church celebrates the season of Epiphany remembering the Wise Men’s gifts to the newborn Christ child.  However, this event is much more than gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  The Wise Men or Magi were the first Gentiles to accept Jesus as Lord and King and, therefore, the first to “reveal” Jesus as the Christ to the world.  This holds huge significance.  The Wise Men “showed” that Jesus came not only for the Jews or a few chosen people, but also for all nations and races.  This is the first hint that Jesus would fulfill all that the Scriptures had prophesied.

 On the Third Sunday after Epiphany, our Gospel tells about Jesus reading Scripture in the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth.  He reads from the prophet Isaiah,

 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
      because he has anointed me
      to preach good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
      and recovery of sight for the blind,
   to release the oppressed,
      to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

 The Spirit of God is within Him as He speaks, and people stand amazed at the familiar things He is preaching.  Although they had probably heard this reading many times, this time it was different.  Jesus announced that this prophecy from years ago had been fulfilled on that very day.  As Christ stood in Nazareth that day he did much more than merely read the Scripture.  He began doing what it said: preaching good news to the poor and lowly, setting all people free, teaching the way to true life, giving sight to the blind and life to the broken.  He did all to “show” the glory of God and His presence there with them.  Jesus was a bright epiphany to those gathered in Nazareth, because He embodied the living truth of the Scriptures and proclaimed that God was with them.

 You too can place our hope in Jesus.  Hebrews 13:8 announces, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  Jesus will never break His promise to be there for you always.  He gives the only true plan and direction for your life which will never fail you. 

 All of our worldly guides, such as the Rhoad couple’s imperfect GPS or TV messages, can be faulty and lead us to stray onto a troubled path.  We dare not put all our trust in any material device in this world; these things were created by imperfect humans.  Thankfully, Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins makes us pure again and reconnects us to God.  God is faithful, listening to our every prayer and forgiving all our sins.  We can always trust Him to save us, fulfill His biblical promises to us, and guide our lives toward our final destination in heaven with Him.



  • What things about your day-to-day life show that you are a Christian?
  • How can you “make known” to others the truth that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord?  What are some ways that your actions or attitude could portray the love of Jesus?
  • Has anyone ever broken a promise to you?  Did that hurt you?  Have you ever broken a promise to anyone?
  • Have you ever felt hopeless?  How did you improve the situation?  When things went wrong, how did you find hope in Jesus?
  • God keeps every promise that He makes to us in the Bible.  What are some of God’s promises to us?



  • Brainstorm ideas of ways to show Jesus to your friends or to the community.  Even simple things, (such as smiling, forgiving, making cards, and helping even when you don’t get a reward for it), cause you to act like Christ and, therefore, show His presence to your neighbors.  Follow through with one of your ideas in the next week and let your group know how it goes.
  • Play a game with a Magic 8-Ball: Make a small group of people and take turns asking the Magic 8-Ball some important yes-or-no questions about your life.  Write down your responses.  Afterward, discuss how crazy your life would be if you believed all those answers and followed through with them, rather than trusting God’s guidance and promises for your life.

(If you don’t have a Magic 8-Ball, you could simply write “yes” and “no” on a bunch of little pieces of paper and draw them out of a bowl on each turn).


 Lord Jesus, thank you for revealing yourself to us in this 2010 season of Epiphany.  Help us to trust that you will lead each of us down paths which will not leave us stuck or broken.  Your will is perfect and pleasing, and we rejoice because you never break your promises.  Give us the strength to read more of your Word and a hunger to know you more, so we may, in turn, show your powerful, saving love to others.  Prepare our hearts to follow you alone, and grant that, rather than judging them, we may pray for those who do not yet know you.  Amen.