The Appearance of Three Visitors (Genesis 18:1 – 15)

Scripture Text (click to open in a new window):

Genesis 18:1 – 15

Questions:

1. When did you laugh the hardest last week?

2. What is your favorite brand of humor? What political cartoonist do you like? What comic gets you laughing?

3. What would it do you good to laugh about right now? What keeps you from doing so?

4. Sarah seems to have given up on her desire to have a baby. Where in your life have you given up on your dream?

5. When in your life is laughter situational? Suppressed? Sadistic? Sarcastic? Sinful? Spiritual?

6. Where in your life is God telling you, “It’s never too late”? Or where is He saying, “It’s okay to laugh”? Or, “No need to rush around”? Or, “Why don’t you believe me?” What will you do about that this week?

7. What is the purpose of your faith?

  • to fulfill my dreams
  • to make me a stronger Christian
  • to glorify God
  • to encourage others
  • to prepare me for eternity
  • I’m not really sure
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Names and Circumcision As Signs of Covenant (Genesis 17)

Scripture Text (click to open in a new window):

Genesis 17

Questions:

1. If you could change your name, what name would you choose? Why?

2. Who always helps you to laugh? How?

3. What is the most serious contract you ever signed? How did you confirm it?

4. In the ancient world, a name conveyed the essence of a person. And giving a name conveyed rule or ownership. How might God’s view of Abraham differ from Abraham’s view of himself?

5. Who is your “Ishmael” – the one you want to live under God’s blessing?

6. If cutting off one’s foreskin is no longer required of God’s people, what is yet required? (see Galatians 5:6)

The Birth of Ishmael Through Hagar (Genesis 16)

Scripture Text (click to open in a new window):

Genesis 16

Questions:

1. How long did you (or would you) wait before having children? Why?

2. Of the three (Abram, Sarai and Hagar), whom do you like the most? The least? Why?

3. What in your life have you had to wait a long time for? Are you still waiting? How do you handle the wait?

4. In this family’s case, what (if anything) might justify the strategy of surrogate motherhood and “helping God”?

5. Describe a time when you took matters into your own hands. What will prevent you from doing that in the future?

6. It is quite possible Sarai and Hagar already had a good relationship. When have you lost a close friend?  Did your friendship blow up like this one, or did you gradually fade apart?

7. What are you feeling tempted to run from?

8. If God is “the God who sees” (v 13), how do you live your life knowing that God is aware of everything about you? (consider Psalm 139:1 – 12)

9. How does God comfort Hagar? Why does He insist that she submit to Sarai’s authority?

10.  In what ways does this story remind you of your marriage relationship? How often do you get into impulsive situations that cause conflict? How can you avoid the damage caused by acting on impulse?

It is noteworthy that in the centuries that follow, there will be conflict in the Middle East between the Arabs (descendants of Ishmael) and the Jews (descendants of Isaac).