Thank you, thank you for the hard work you have put in this first week. Your comments have truly blown me away. You are thinking, digging deep and challenging me and each other to go deeper still with God in His Word. I love it. This is why I do what I do!! It makes my heart sing!!
Two quick things before we begin.
First, you will find that I have divided the questions into five days. One of our members suggested doing this, and I thought it was a great idea. You don’t have to do your homework by day, but it is available if it works better for you.
It’s time to get creative. One of our members, Heather Bleier, has graciously offered to help us create pictures of our names of God! So if you’re creative…listen up. If you’re not (like me), we will enjoy what ya’ll create! Create a picture of each name of God as we study it and use our key verse. For this week, create a picture using El Roi and our key verse from Genesis 16:13. Then e-mail your creation to Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org by Sunday evening; this will give her time to work. She will take your images and create a collage to share with us on the next week’s post! You’ll be able to download the picture to share wherever you’d like. Looking forward to seeing how El Roi inspires you this week. You can also create one for last week’s Elohim and Heather will create a collage with them as well. Below is the beautiful image Heather created for Elohim. Don’ you love it!!! I can’t wait to see what you create!
Let’s begin, sweet friends! Today we meet El Roi, The God Who Sees. Below find this week’s message. (I’m trying a new thing to help you access the video from your e-mail. To watch the video, click here).
Memory Verse: ”You are the God who sees me.” Genesis 16:13 (NIV)
Heavenly Father, El Roi, the God who sees, thank You that I am never alone…that there is no place that I can ever go that You will not be there with me. Thank You that when I stray, You see; when I am lost, You find;when I am hurt, You heal; when I am empty, You fill; when I am hungry, You feed; when I fail, You restore. I know You are around me all the time. Enable me to sense Your presence in the midst of my everyday life. Manifest Yourself to me as you did to Hagar, to Moses, and to Elijah. Open the eyes of my heart to receive abundant wisdom and knowledge as I learn another of Your magnificent names. Teach me Your character so I can know You better and trust You more. I ask all this in the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, my Lord, the Good Shepherd. Amen.
1. Read Genesis 16.
a. Sarai’s words in Genesis 16:2 reveal the bitterness that filled her heart. She didn’t see God coming through with His promise, so she made her own plan; what was it?
b. Have you had a time in your life where you lost sight of God’s promises? Share what it felt like during that time and what happened. What did you do?
c. Abram did as Sarai requested and Hagar became pregnant. How did Hagar respond? How did Sarai respond?
2. Sarai mistreated Hagar, and she ran away.
a. What happened in Genesis 16:7?
b. Who do you think the Angel of the Lord was?
c. What two questions did He ask?
3. How did Hagar answer?
4. The Angel gave Hagar 2 declarations. What were they?
a. What promise did he make to her?
b. To whom does God make this same promise in Genesis 17:20?
c. Read Genesis 25:12-18. What did God promise?
5. The Angel of the Lord revealed to Hagar that she would have a son and she was to name him Ishmael.
a. What reason did the Angel of the Lord give for that specific name?
b. Hagar expressed her gratitude by giving God a special name. What is that name (Genesis 16:13)?
c. What words did Hagar speak immediately after she gave this name to God?
6. Read Psalm 23. After reading this psalm, in your own words, what does a shepherd do for his sheep.
7. Psalm 23 teaches us many blessings David received from his Good Shepherd.
a. Spiritual nourishment. (Psalm 23:2a)
The shepherd takes his sheep to green pastures, pleasant places where they can receive nourishment and rest. They feel content and secure because they know their shepherd has led them there and is watching over them. Similarly, just as David knew what his sheep needed, God knew what he needed and God knows what we need.
*To whom do you turn or to what do you look in times of stress and anxiety (food, friends, alcohol, drugs, sleep, shopping, God)? How has what you have looked to worked for you?
* Read Psalm 139:7-12. How does this passage speak to what we are learning about El Roi? Does this comfort you and speak into your personal circumstances? If so, how?
b. Spiritual restoration. (Psalm 23:2b)
Just as David led his sheep to quiet waters for refreshment and restoration, so God does the same for us. We live in a world where nothing stops. Twenty-four hour news, shopping, television, e-mail and texting. Unless we intentionally create time for renewal and refreshment, it will not happen. El Roi is our only escape. He sees our weariness and longs to meet with us and quiet our hearts. He leads us to “Living Water.” Naps, days off from work, vacations are not enough. We need to take time to “be still.”
* Examine your day to day schedule, does it allow time for God “to make you lie down in green pastures” and “lead you beside quiet waters?”
*If not, what in your schedule needs to change to make this happen?
*Commit to take at least one step to make this happen and write a short prayer of commitment. After one week, journal what God has done in your heart and life in and through that one step.
(Continuing Question 7)
c. Paths of Righteousness.
David writes that our Good Shepherd guides us along “paths of righteousness,” some translations say “right paths.”
*Take a few minutes and define “right” paths and “wrong” paths. Examine your own life and share the path on which you find yourself most often and why (if you’re like me, you may find yourself on both paths depending on the day or circumstances).
*In your own words, share what you think David means by “paths of righteousness.”
*Why does God lead us along those paths? (Psalm 23:2b)
Even when we don’t understand the path God chooses for us, we can trust it is the “right ” path because we trust His name and the character His name represents. Pondering this truth makes me think of Mary, the mother of Jesus. When the angel Gabriel told Mary the path she was about to take…give birth to the Son of God…can you imagine what ran through her mind? She was a virgin. Everyone knew she was a virgin. But then her belly grew. She had to have worried: What would people think? What would they say? What would Joseph say? I’m certain this extraordinary path is not the path this ordinary girl thought her life would take. Yet it was the “path of righteousness” down which God led her.
*Read Luke 1:34-38. What was Mary’s answer?
*Why do you think Mary was able to so quickly put aside all that this surprising proclamation would mean and surrender her will to God’s?
* Is God taking you down a path of which you are unsure? Is something keeping you from saying yes to God? How do Psalm 23:3 and Mary’s story speak to your doubts and questions?
* Read Luke 1:45. What insight does this verse give about Mary? What does it speak to you?
In Psalm 23:4 David says, even when he walks through the darkest valley, he will not be afraid because God is with him. David knew this all to well because King Saul despised him and tried to kill him on numerous occasions. But God was always with him, protecting him and leading him to safety.
David wrote that “your rod and your staff comfort me.” The rod and staff are the equipment the shepherd used to protect his sheep. He wielded the rod to drive off wild animals and used the staff to guide the flock and to lift them back on the pathway when they fell off. The rod and staff in the hands of God comforted and gave assurance to David.
*Read Romans 8:35-38. How does this New Testament passage speak to this truth?
*Read 2 Corinthians 11:21-33.
Although we will never experience the depths of Paul’s suffering, we do suffer what sometimes seem to be unbearable trials. Paul writes these words to encourage us. Suffering has always been a part of the lives of God’s people. It’s not unique to us. And best of all, our God sees it! But no matter the suffering, big or small, temporary or enduring, it will never EVER separate us from El Roi. In fact, when seen through the lens of God’s Truth and His character, suffering actually has purpose. It moves us closer to the heart of God when we surrender it to Him. Our suffering works in and through us to conform us to the image of His Son and make us more like Him.
Today we meet Elijah, one of God’s greatest prophets.
8. For background to the story we will study today, please read 1 Kings 17. In this chapter, God commanded Elijah to warn King Ahab (the evil King of Israel) that a great drought was coming. After issuing the warning, God told Elijah to go into hiding. The drought came to pass. When the time was right, God told Elijah to present himself to King Ahab with another message.
a. Read 1 Kings 18:1. What was that message?
b. Read 1 Kings 18:17-40. What happened?
c. Read 1 Kings 18:45-46. How would you characterize Elijah after his victory at Mount Carmel?
After Elijah’s victory, a mighty rainstorm came. Ahab got home and told Jezebel (his wicked wife) everything Elijah had done, including how he killed all the prophets of Baal (the pagan God they worshiped).
d. What was Jezebel’s response in 1 Kings 19:2?
9. Read 1 Kings 19:3-5.
a. How would you characterize Elijah in this passage?
b. What caused the change?
El Roi did not leave Elijah fearful and alone in the wilderness. He did not abandon him because he lost his confidence…because he was weak, doubting his call. El Roi watched over Elijah and ministered to him in his time of need.
10. Read 1 Kings 19:4-9. God restored Elijah. What specifically did God do for Elijah?
He met his physical needs first and then his spiritual needs.
11. Read 1 Kings 19:11-12.
a. What happened in this passage?
b. What question did God ask Elijah again in verse 13b?
c. What was Elijah’s answer?
d. What is the significance of God speaking, not through the powerful forces of nature, but in a whisper?
12. Read each of the Old Testament verses below and share what each says about Jesus.
* Isaiah 40:11
* Ezekiel 34:11-16, 31 (read entire chapter if you have time)
* Zecharaiah 13:7 (Jesus quotes this verse in Matthew 26:31, predicting Peter’s denial)
New Testament writers speak of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd, the Great Shepherd of the Sheep, and the Shepherd of Your Souls. The Greek word used here is poimen and refers not merely to one who feeds sheep. This kind of shepherd refers to one who tends to all the needs of the flock and oversees them day and night.
13. Read each of the New Testament verses and share what each says about Jesus.
*John 10:2-18, 27-30
*1 Peter 2:25
*1 Peter 5:2-4
The middle eastern shepherd LED his sheep. He did not follow behind or walk alongside. He went before them to protect them because they were helpless and unable to defend themselves. He knew each sheep by name. I find it interesting that it was not uncommon for a shepherd to name his sheep. Quite often he named them according to their characteristics. And his sheep recognized his voice when he called their name. This was important because Jewish shepherds kept their sheep in two kinds of sheepfolds. In the country, they corralled them within a low walled structure that had one narrow entrance in the front. They guarded that entrance at night, literally laying their body across the doorway. But in town, there was a communal corral with a professional gatekeeper who kept watch over the sheep of many shepherds. When morning came, each shepherd came to gather his sheep. He opened the door and called them out. And though intermingled with other flocks, when they heard their shepherd’s voice, they came because they knew his voice.
Jesus works the same way, my friend. He willingly laid down His life for us. And as our Shepherd, He leads and protects us. He calls us and speaks to us by name. He knows us intimately.
In the darkest night of the soul. Down the most difficult paths we travel. El Roi, our Good Shepherd, sees us, protects us, walks with us, guides us and leads us.
14. How do we come to know God’s voice today since He is not literally walking among us?
15. Do you know the voice of the Good Shepherd?
16. If you know His voice, are you following His leading, listening to His direction? If not, why?
1. Read Genesis 16:12.
a. What do you learn about Ishmael and his descendants? These verses reveal the fulfillment of the promises made to Hagar and Abram concerning their son (Genesis 16:10, 12 and 17:20)
b. Read Genesis 37:12-28. What do you learn about the Ishmaelites? (Ishmailites = Midianites)
Take time to review your lesson and prayerfully answer theses two questions based on what you learned from God’s Word and what He has spoken to your heart through your time with Him.
* Who is El Roi?
* Why Should I Care?
Praying El Roi speaks to each one of you in very real and personal ways this week. Continue to leave your comments. They are such a blessing. We have only studied together one week, and we are learning so much from each other!!