Reading List Theme 3: Sticking with God in Challenging Times

These readings begin to focus on Elijah, one of the greatest prophets of Israel. Some prophecies about Jesus said he would be like Elijah, and some people said Jesus was Elijah (Matt 16: 14). They both stood solidly for God and boldly challenged others to do so; they both traveled throughout the country for their ministry; they both did many miracles; they both miraculously ascended into heaven (2 Kings 2:11 / Luke 24:50); they both had conflict with the national leaders, because the leaders were corrupt. And in fact, Jesus met Elijah, as you’ll read in 3.3.

3.1: Prayer: always essential, James 5

> Prayer, humility, and a perspective toward eternity are keys to experiencing abundant life with Jesus.

> Let your response to this chapter be a prayer, guided by this chapter: repentance (v.1-5), perspective (v.7-8), patience (v.10-11), thankfulness (v.13), praise (v.13), prayer for healing (v.14).

3.2: Elijah and the widow, 1 Kings 17

> When was a time you could speak for God when no one else wanted to follow Him? Did you? Why or why not? (17:1-7)

> Have you ever had to REALLY trust God… like you didn’t even know where your next meal would come from? How well do you trust God in your everyday life? (17:8-16)

> Why is it a human response to find someone to blame when things go wrong? How do you handle such times (17:17-24)

3.3: Jesus and the 5000, Luke 9

> Jesus knew no boundaries when it came to what the Father could do. In what ways are you giving God too many boundaries?

> Many Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of experiencing the supernatural. How does this chapter impact you: what questions do you have? Skepticism? What would you like to experience more?

3.4: Elijah and the battle with the evil prophets, 1 Kings 18

> Elijah here has a powerful prayer in an impossible situation. How would you face such a situation?

> Have you ever prayed as hard as Elijah prays in 18:42-44? Do you think this may impact the results?

3.5: Jesus and the battle with the jewish leaders, Matthew 9

> What most impresses you about the way Jesus interacted with the six people he healed in this chapter?

> What was it that allowed these people to receive healing?

> Why did the leaders have a problem with Jesus? (v.3-6,11-13,34)

Bonus: 1 Samuel 17 – David stands up for his faith

> In this famous example of faith and boldness, we see in David the reason he was described as “a man after God’s heart” – he stood up for God when everyone else was afraid. His faith manifests differently, but it is like Elijah’s and Jesus’ faith. How could bold faith be manifest in your life?

3.6: Elijah hears God’s voice in a hard time, 1 Kings 19

> Elijah here is shown facing fear, yet still, God is there. Even when he was fearful and hopeless, Elijah still prayed, and God still answered. How do you need to trust God to meet you where you are?

> Elijah had to remove distractions to hear God. What do you need to remove?

> When he did hear God, he was given marching orders. Is there a task from God you are not pursuing?

3.7: Jesus hears God’s voice in a hard time, Matthew 3:13-4:23

> Jesus and Elijah both had 40 day experiences… what could God do if you fully surrendered 40 days?

> What can this passage teach you about spiritual warfare? (See Revelation 12:11)

> For both Elijah and Jesus, after the desert came some assignments. Where are you? If in a desert, are you willing to receive an assignment? Could finding a place to serve help pull you from the desert?

3.8: Paul & Peter hear God’s voice, Acts 9 & 10

> These chapters tell of two dramatic encounters when early church leaders heard God’s voice. These two encounters had a huge impact on the development of the early church. How do these stories impact you? How do they challenge the way you think about people and the way we as Christians pursue the kingdom of God?