Listen for the Message God Gives You in His Word
These are the readings for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost.
God’s Word for This Week
Preaching the message of God is not a popularity contest. The size of the crowd and the level of cheering is not what it is all about, but rather being faithful in speaking God’s Word to specific people and situations. That may ruffle feathers. The unwillingness of people to listen humbles God’s spokesmen. May we always pay close attention to God’s message, no matter how lowly the messenger who brings it.
Traditional First Lesson – Ezekiel 2:1-5
What did God call Ezekiel to do?
Ezekiel was to go to the Israelites who had rebelled against God. God had a specific people and a specific message on which he was to focus his life from this point on.
How would God measure Ezekiel’s effectiveness?
Popularity was not to be the deciding factor in determining his effectiveness. He continues to remind Ezekiel that he is going up against rebellious and stubborn people. His effectiveness will be gauged on his faithfulness in saying God’s words to them no matter how much opposition he gets from them.
Traditional Second Lesson – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Does a greater level of faith guarantee God will grant your prayer request?
Often well-intentioned Christians will say that someone’s situation didn’t get better because they didn’t have enough faith. Paul was surely a man of great faith. The Lord had revealed to him things others had never seen and heard. God is not a “genie in a bottle” to respond to our shortsighted requests in prayer. Ultimately God’s loving plans for us dictate his wise, caring response.
Why did God allow that specific struggle Paul was experiencing in his life to remain?
The Lord knew how sinful nature can pull us away from him (especially pride). The “thorn in the flesh” was God’s tool to keep Paul humble and to keep him connected to his real strength—the Lord. When we are “weak,” we despair of ourselves and finally give the task over to God. God’s power stands out more brilliantly with the miracles he accomplishes when we are “weak.”
Supplemental Second Lesson – 2 Timothy 3:10–4:5
As Paul writes these words to Timothy, he is in prison in Rome. He knows he is about to die. Paul does not say that only apostles will be persecuted or that only pastors and prominent Christians should expect persecution. What does Paul write in 3:12?
Paul says that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
What does Paul say about the Bible, our only source of strength in persecution? (See 2 Timothy 3:15-17.)
Paul says the Bible is holy, and it can make us wise for salvation (both that we need it desperately, and that we have it for free) through trusting in Christ Jesus. Paul says the whole Bible is God-breathed. It thoroughly equips us for every good work.
Was Timothy supposed to focus on church leadership with Paul about to die?
Timothy was not to focus on leadership. Paul had Timothy swear to preach the Word. Timothy was both to warn and correct others with God’s Word. He was to encourage others with it, using great patience and careful instruction.
Gospel – Mark 6:1-6
What obstacle did Jesus meet while preaching in his hometown?
The people of Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, remembered Jesus as a child and pictured him as a carpenter. Now he was a preacher? Since they were so familiar with him and his family, they were unwilling to see past the person and listen to what he preached.
What did the reaction to Jesus in Nazareth show?
The reaction of the people of Nazareth to Jesus showed their lack of faith. They were amazed at his wisdom and the miracles he did, but they let their reasoning get in the way. Instead, they should have seen Jesus’ wisdom and miracles as evidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, by believing they would have had life in his name (See John 20:30,31.)