Opening Questions and Prayer
What is something you’ve had to trust God for recently?
How did your faith grow during that time?
Spend a moment in prayer asking the Lord to show you, through the Bible study, ways that you can love others and help them in their faith journey.
Read Exodus 23:1-9 NLT
1 “You must not pass along false rumors. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand. 2 “You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice. 3 And do not slant your testimony in favor of a person just because that person is poor. 4 “If you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey that has strayed away, take it back to its owner. 5 If you see that the donkey of someone who hates you has collapsed under its load, do not walk by. Instead, stop and help. 6 “In a lawsuit, you must not deny justice to the poor. 7 “Be sure never to charge anyone falsely with evil. Never sentence an innocent or blameless person to death, for I never declare a guilty person to be innocent. 8 “Take no bribes, for a bribe makes you ignore something that you clearly see. A bribe makes even a righteous person twist the truth. 9 “You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.
Why is God laying out these rules for the Israelites?
What do these rules teach us about God’s character?
How does God expect us to treat our enemies?
What is one way you could do good to someone you don’t get along with or agree with?
When will you do that this week?
How will living this way show love to everyone we come in contact with?
How will living this way deepen your relationship with God?
Read Exodus 23:10-12
10 “Plant and harvest your crops for six years, 11 but let the land be renewed and lie uncultivated during the seventh year. Then let the poor among you harvest whatever grows on its own. Leave the rest for wild animals to eat. The same applies to your vineyards and olive groves.
12 “You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but on the seventh day you must stop working. This gives your ox and your donkey a chance to rest. It also allows your slaves and the foreigners living among you to be refreshed.
Why did the Lord want the Israelites to take times of rest?
How did this rest benefit others?
Why does the Lord want us to take times of rest?
When is the last time you took time to actually rest?
What does it look like to rest in the Lord?
Read Exodus 23:13-19
13 “Pay close attention to all my instructions. You must not call on the name of any other gods. Do not even speak their names.
14 “Each year you must celebrate three festivals in my honor. 15 First, celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days the bread you eat must be made without yeast, just as I commanded you. Celebrate this festival annually at the appointed time in early spring, in the month of Abib, for that is the anniversary of your departure from Egypt. No one may appear before me without an offering.
16 “Second, celebrate the Festival of Harvest, when you bring me the first crops of your harvest.
“Finally, celebrate the Festival of the Final Harvest at the end of the harvest season, when you have harvested all the crops from your fields. 17 At these three times each year, every man in Israel must appear before the Sovereign, the Lord.18 “You must not offer the blood of my sacrificial offerings together with any baked goods containing yeast. And do not leave the fat from the festival offerings until the next morning.
19 “As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the Lord your God.
“You must not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.
Why would these celebrations and festivals help them remember the Lord’s faithfulness?
Are there any things you do to help you remember the Lord’s faithfulness in your life?
Why was it important for the Israelites to bring their first crops to the Lord?
Do you usually give God the best or what is left over?
Why does it take more faith to give to Him first?
Is there anything you are holding back on giving to the Lord?
How can you trust Him more this week in that area?
Read Exodus 23:20-24
20 “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. 21 Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. 22 But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you. 23 For my angel will go before you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, so you may live there. And I will destroy them completely. 24 You must not worship the gods of these nations or serve them in any way or imitate their evil practices. Instead, you must utterly destroy them and smash their sacred pillars.
Why was it important for the Israelites to not get caught up in the worship practices of the nations around them?
What are some things the world around us worships?
How do followers of Jesus sometimes get caught up in the things the world worships and says is worthy of our time, talent, and treasure?
What are some things in your life that you’ve allowed to take the number one spot in your life?
What can you do this week to get rid of that and put God back in His proper place at the center of your life?
Read Exodus 23:25-33
25 “You must serve only the Lord your God. If you do, I will bless you with food and water, and I will protect you from illness. 26 There will be no miscarriages or infertility in your land, and I will give you long, full lives.
27 “I will send my terror ahead of you and create panic among all the people whose lands you invade. I will make all your enemies turn and run. 28 I will send terror ahead of you to drive out the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites. 29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply and threaten you. 30 I will drive them out a little at a time until your population has increased enough to take possession of the land. 31 And I will fix your boundaries from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the eastern wilderness to the Euphrates River. I will hand over to you the people now living in the land, and you will drive them out ahead of you.
32 “Make no treaties with them or their gods. 33 They must not live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me. If you serve their gods, you will be caught in the trap of idolatry.”
What insight does this passage give into why God’s plans sometimes take longer than we want them to?
What is difficult about waiting on the Lord?
Is this passage saying that if you do everything the Lord wants, then life will be perfect?
Why or why not?
Why do some people think that trials in our lives mean that we have made God mad and He is punishing us?
Why is this false thinking?
How does God use those times of trial to grow and strengthen our faith?
What are some ways God is strengthening your faith now?
4 “If you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey that has strayed away, take it back to its owner. 5 If you see that the donkey of someone who hates you has collapsed under its load, do not walk by. Instead, stop and help.
Closing thoughts and prayer
In order to properly love others, we have to start with a right relationship with God. The more our faith increases in the Lord, the more our capacity to love others as Jesus loved others will grow. The world is a broken place and it is easier for those who follow Jesus to just retreat and huddle together and ignore the world. But Jesus calls us to go and love others for the sake of them experiencing His love and becoming part of the Kingdom of God.
Pray that the Lord would increase your faith. Pray that as your faith increases you would love others the way Jesus taught us to love.
Think of one person you can pray for this week who needs to experience good lovin’. Ask the Lord to give you opportunities to show them His love.