Opening Questions and Prayer
What are some things you are hard hearted towards in life? (These can be silly like mosquitos, or learning new technology)
How would you define “hard hearted”?
What causes people to become hard hearted?
Spend some time asking the Lord to guide your discussion and to reveal to you those areas of your life where your heart is hard or becoming hardened.
Read Exodus 8:16-17
Exodus 8:16-17 (All verses are from the NLT unless noted otherwise)
16 So the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Raise your staff and strike the ground. The dust will turn into swarms of gnats throughout the land of Egypt.’” 17 So Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded them. When Aaron raised his hand and struck the ground with his staff, gnats infested the entire land, covering the Egyptians and their animals. All the dust in the land of Egypt turned into gnats.
Why doesn’t the Lord warn Pharaoh about the plague first as He did in the previous plagues?
What is the Lord trying to teach Pharaoh and the Egyptians through these plagues?
What is the Lord trying to teach you through the pandemic going on in our world right now?
How is the Lord softening your heart through the events going on in your life right now?
Read Exodus 8:18-19
18 Pharaoh’s magicians tried to do the same thing with their secret arts, but this time they failed. And the gnats covered everyone, people and animals alike.
19 “This is the finger of God!” the magicians exclaimed to Pharaoh. But Pharaoh’s heart remained hard. He wouldn’t listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted.
How did the magicians respond when they couldn’t reproduce this miracle?
How did Pharaoh respond to his magicians’ revelation?
Who is someone in your life that will tell you if your heart is becoming hard?
When you find yourself becoming hard hearted, what can you do to turn that over to the Lord?
Read Proverbs 10:17
People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray.
How did Pharaoh ignore correction?
What are some ways you ignore correction?
What is hard about accepting discipline?
What can you do this week to accept discipline?
Read Psalm 51
Psalm 51 For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.
5 For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6 But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.
7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice.
9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.
16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
18 Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit— with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.
What do you think the condition of David’s heart was like after he had an affair with Bathsheba, got her pregnant, then had her husband killed? (The account can be found in 2 Samuel 11-12:25)
What does this Psalm say about the condition of David’s heart after he was confronted with his sin?
When someone confronts you for sin and mistakes in your life, how do you respond?
How can you start practicing softening your heart towards the things of the Lord this week?
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Closing thoughts and prayer
Pharaoh’s continual refusal to follow God caused a path of destruction through the land of Egypt. Even some of his close advisors were telling him that these things were from God, yet he continued to be unrepentant and continue down the path he wanted.
In our own lives, it’s easy to do the same thing. There are destructive behaviors and thought patterns in our lives that we have just become comfortable with. We don’t want to repent because it will be tough as well as humbling. That’s where we can look to David and see how he handled being confronted with his sin. Psalm 51 is such an amazing picture of what it looks like to soften your heart to the things of the Lord. David had messed up big time, and for a while he had hardened his heart. But when faced with his sin, he repented and turned back to the Lord with a soft heart.
Take some time to pray and ask God to show you some areas in your life where you have a hard heart, or where your heart is becoming hard. Partner up with someone in the group and pray for each other for those things. Then pray for someone in your life that has hardened their heart to the things of the Lord. Pray that the Lord would soften their heart and give you an opportunity to talk with them this week. End your time thanking the Lord for softening your heart.
The first plague Aaron struck the water, and now he’s striking the ground. What would this have taught the people about who controlled the world?
In what ways could the parasitic gnats have been a reminder to the Egyptians about how they treated the Israelites as slaves?
Is there anyone in your life that you treat as less than you?
What are some ways God is using the events in your life to humble you in the way you treat others?
What is one thing you can do this week to treat others better than yourself?
Philippians 2:3 can help with that: Philippains 2:3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
Why were the magicians always trying to replicate the things of God?
What ways does the world try to replicate the things of God, His peace, goodness, compassion, without actually turning their life over to Him?
Why do some people want to just modify their own behavior instead of turning their heart over to God?
Whose job is it to change the heart?
What are the errors of trying to get people to just change their behavior?
Why is it more rewarding in the long run to focus on the heart change and allow the behavior to follow?
Read verses 10, 16-17 again. What had to happen for David to get to that point of repentance and softening his heart towards the things of the Lord?
If the prophet, Nathan, had not confronted David with his sin, what might have happened differently in David’s life?
Who is someone in your life that helps keep you on track with the things of the Lord so you don’t harden your heart toward Him?
Why does the Lord desire a broken and repentant heart over behavior change?
How does a broken and repentant heart over our sin lead to behavior change?
What is one way you can repent, turn away from sin and turn towards God, this week?
Who will help you with this?
Who in your life has hardened their hearts to the things of the Lord?
How can you talk to them this week, in a loving way, to help them repent and turn to the Lord?