Interacting with the Sermon
Synopsis of the Sermon
This weekend, Pastor Rich taught on how to raise children with love and discipline. When trying to discern parenting techniques, Rich said that we should first look to the perfect and eternal parent, God. Rich reminded us that our God is a both-and God, and in the case of parenting, God parents with both love and discipline. God loves us by inviting us into relationship with Him and paying attention to us, but God also loves us by disciplining us and allowing us to experience pain and failure. The refining that comes from this can especially be seen, as Rich put it, in the “furnace of unanswered prayer.” Rich zoomed in on the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel chapter 1 and the evolution of her prayers for a son to illustrate this. Then Rich discussed the consequences that ensue in the lives of children who are not disciplined. First, children who are not disciplined don’t respect God. Because parents represent the authority of God to their children, if their children don’t respect them, they also won’t respect God. Second, child who are not disciplined don’t respect other. If a child has no limits with their parents, why should they have limits in the ways they treat anyone else? Third, children who are not disciplined don’t know they are loved. Often in today’s culture many shy away from discipline as often as they can because they think they are being unkind or harsh. Parents that lovingly discipline their children, however, teach their children that they care enough about them to discipline them, even if it is difficult at the moment.
In 5 minutes or less, briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.
Getting the Conversation Started
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
- What are one or two things from this weekend’s sermon that really stood out to you?
- If you are a parent, which expression do you find comes more naturally to you, expressions of love or expressions of discipline?
- What kind of parents did you have? If you had parents that did not shirked their responsibility to discipline you, did you see any of the consequences Rich pointed out (lack of respect for God, lack of respect for others, lack of knowledge that you are loved) in your own life?
Study Goal: God shows His love for us by disciplining us. In order to better imitate God’s parenting, we are going to study Deuteronomy 8:1-5, a passage where Moses details how the LORD disciplined Israel, His chosen people, by making them wander the desert for forty years, and why He did it. As we study this passage not only will we grow in our own ability to lovingly discipline as God does, but we will grow in our own awareness of God’s loving discipline in our own lives, and our thankfulness for it.
Context: Deuteronomy, while a large book, takes place in the blink of an eye. Deuteronomy consists of Moses’ last teachings to the Israelites before he died and before Israel, led by Joshua, began the conquest of the Canaan, the Promised Land. The Israelites, their forty years of wandering the desert being over, have arrived in Moab, a land east of the Jordan River (the river that was the eastern border of Canaan). Before Israel entered Canaan, however, Moses delivered the longest sermon in the Bible, now known as the book of Deuteronomy. In it he recaps the whole of Israel’s history, reads the entire law that God had given the Israelites, and calls Israel to flee from idolatry and practice covenant faithfulness to the LORD and the LORD only. After he finished, Moses climbed Mount Nebo, looked over the Jordan and saw the Promised Land, and died (Deut. 34:1-8). Today we are looking at Deuteronomy chapter 8:1-5, where Moses is recounting the forty years that the Israelites wandered in the desert as punishment for their unfaithfulness to God.
Read Deuteronomy 8:1-5
1Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. 2Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.
- (v.1) Why does Moses tell Israel to follow the commands he is relaying to them? (a. So that they might live in the Promised Land and increase there. I.E. So that the LORD would bless them!
- (v.2) What does Moses tell Israel to do in verse 2? (a. “Remember how the…”)
- (v.2) Why did the LORD send Israel into the desert to wander for forty years? (a. to humble them and test them in order to know their heart)
- (v.3) What did the LORD do to Israel in regards to food in verse 3? (a. Both caused them to hunger and fed them).
- (v.3) Why did the LORD do this? (a. to teach them that sustenance comes from the mouth of the LORD, and not from any other source)
- (v.4) Aside from food, what other needs did the LORD meet while they were in the desert? (a. clothes and healthy feet, I.E. Material and Physical)
- (v.5) The LORD’S discipline of us is likened to what in verse 5? (a. A man to his son. Feel free to use gender inclusive language such as, “a parent to their child.”)
- (v.2) Why is it important that the Israelites remember all that the LORD did when he disciplined them by sending them into the desert? (a. Various answers, some include, “to learn from how God disciplines their sin” and “to remember God’s purposes for them.”)
- (v.2) What do we learn about the nature of God’s discipline in verse 2? (a. God goes with us even when He disciplines us, he is always with us. Also, God does not discipline frivolously, He disciplines for a purpose.)
- (v.3) What do we learn about the nature of God’s discipline in verse 3? (a. God disciplines us to teach us that God is our sole provider. In His discipline he allows us to feel “hungry” so that we can learn that He alone will “feed” us.)
- (v.4) What do we learn about the nature of God’s discipline in verse 4? (a. God will not stop meeting our needs, even when He disciplines us.)
- (v.5) Reflect again on how verse 5 compares God’s discipline of us to how a “man disciplines his son.” When you discipline your children, does it line up with the nature of God’s discipline that we discussed in the last three questions? If you aren’t a parent, remember some of ways that God has disciplined you in your life. Looking back, can you see evidence of the nature of God’s discipline in those situations?
- Sometimes discipline is a taboo word in our culture. The idea of disciplining others (or certainly being disciplined ourselves) is unsavory. Having learned about the nature of God’s discipline, have your views on discipline, either as a parent or as God’s child, changed? How?
Below you’ll see some options for ministry time with your group. We always encourage you to reserve time in your group to pray for one another and wait on the Holy Spirit.
- If there are any parents in your group, pray for them that they learn how to balance love and discipline of their children as God does with us. Pray especially that they would have discernment to walk the ever important line of disciplining with love.
- Maybe someone in your group had a bad experience with discipline that bordered on or became abusive. Pray for them, asking that God would continue to bind that wound and speak His love into that person’s heart.
- If you are a family group, pray for your children. Pray that they would love discipline, especially the discipline of God. Someone read Proverbs 15:32 aloud and pray that verse over your children.