Monday, November 28, 2016

Deliverance Songs: Exodus 15:1-21

Re-read Exodus 15:1-21.

1) Compare Exodus 15:1-21 with Revelation 15:1-4. What similarities and differences do you observe?

2) What images in Exodus 15 stand out to you? What do those images communicate about God's character (His power, His faithfulness, etc.)? How do they encourage you? How do they inform your view of Jesus' powerful deliverance of us from our sin?

3) Are there circumstances in your life that make you feel defeated, despite Jesus' decisive victory over sin, Satan, and hell?

4) What are some of your favorite Christmas carols? Can you detect the theme of 'deliverance' in the lyrics?

5) Respond to this quote by Augustine: "Let us pine for the City where we are citizens. By pining, we are already there; we have already cast our hope, like an anchor, on that coast. I sing of somewhere else, not of here: for I sing with my heart, not my flesh." Does this sound like a Christmas exhortation to you? Why or why not? 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Gospel According to Titus

1) Take a moment to read Paul's letter to Titus. It will take you less than 10 minutes. Look and listen for key words, phrases, concepts that are repeated.

2) What key words, phrases, or concepts did you see that were repeated over and over?  

3) In Titus 3:3 Paul characterizes what we are like outside of Christ. One phrase he uses is "slaves to various passions and pleasures". What sorts of passions and pleasures enslave people today?

4) Paul writes in Titus 3:4 that God saved us "when the goodness and lovingkindness of God appeared". When did the goodness and lovingkindness of God appear?

5) Scripture tells us here (3:5) that God saved us not because of works, but according to his own mercy. Is this offensive to you, comforting to you or does it arouse something else in you? Why or Why not?

6) God saved us when we were enslaved, and he saved us, not according to what we could bring to the table, but according to the depth of his own mercy. How are we then to live in light of that (3:8)?

7) When we devote ourselves to good works are we earning favor from God? What is the result of devoting ourselves to good works (3:8)?

8) See Titus 2:14, 3:1, 3:14. What do these passages say about good works?

9) Followers of Jesus are often viewed by many as hypocritical, contentious, and oppressive. This may be not be the whole story, and it may not be fair. How can Paul's words, especially in Titus 3:1-8, help us address our neighbors perceptions of us?

10) When devoting ourselves to good works, are there any dangers or temptations we need to be on the lookout for? Where can we find help in this letter against those temptations?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Gospel According to Philemon

1) Read the letter to Philemon. Yes, the whole thing! 

2) What does Paul ask Philemon to consider regarding Onesimus? How does he do this? 

3) In what ways is Paul asking Philemon to be a credible witness?

4) In what ways is Paul asking Philemon to be a consistent witness? 

5) How is Paul instructing Philemon to be a compelling witness? 

6) How might Paul’s direction to Philemon appear counter-cultural

7) Drawing from Paul’s directions to Philemon, are there areas of your witness that need sharpening? Share some with your group.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Gospel According to Habakkuk...October 30, 2016

1) Read Habakkuk 3. As a reminder, Habakkuk has complained that God is ignoring the social sins he witnesses among God's people -- sins like violence, injustice, and immoral behavior. God replied that He will send the Babylonians to execute judgment on the people of God. In chapter 3, Habakkuk prays for God's strengthening as he waits for God to fulfill His promise.

2) Skimming chapters 1 and 2 (and from the summary above), what does our cultural moment have in common with Habakkuk's cultural moment? How might we relate to his frustration with God?

3) Notice that the first and last verse of this chapter indicate that this prayer was written to be sung. What is the significance of Habakkuk using poetry to re-narrate God's work of salvation? What does poetry require of us, as readers, that prose does not (at least, not as much)?

4) What did Ryan mean by the question, "Is salvation poetry to you?" How would you answer that question?

5) Ryan pointed out two words that help frame our thinking about suffering, as Christians: what were they? Why are those words important?

6) Have there been times in your life when the 'though' of life has been interrupted by the 'yet' of the Gospel? Share with the group. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Gospel According to Amos: Sermon Questions

Read Amos 7:7-9 and 9:11-15.

1. In what ways do you struggle with complacency in your life? What's the difference between contentment and complacency? How is complacency dangerous?

2. What plumb lines do we tend to use in assessing ourselves? How do these produce a false sense of assurance and feed our complacency?

3. What do you observe about Amos 9:11-15, specifically regarding the promise God makes to rebuild David's booth? Why a booth? How is that a significant prophecy about Jesus as David's greater son?

4. Name some ways that Amos 9:11-15 shapes your view of the Gospel, ie. what God 'built' for you through the work of Jesus? How might that combat our complacency with our sin? Our sanctification? Our stumbling blocks?

Monday, October 10, 2016

"The Day of Atonement and the Day Atonement Came" (The Gospel According to Leviticus) 10/9/16

The Gospel According To Leviticus (Leviticus 16:1-10, 29-34)
Dr. Jay Sklar

1) What were your general impressions and observations about the sermon on Sunday? 

2) Did the sermon affect your view of the book of Leviticus? If so, in what way? 

3) Dr. Sklar emphasized that the Day of Atonement was one of the ways “God, in His love, made a way to deal with our wrongs that we might be made right with Him.” In your words, how did this ceremony achieve that goal? [Hint: Dr. Sklar divided the ceremony into cleansing, removal, and one-more-time-for-good-measure]

4) Read Hebrews 10:11-25 and discuss how Leviticus 16 illuminates this passage. How does the Day of Atonement, as Dr. Sklar explained it, bring to life the benefits we have in Jesus? What fears does Jesus put to rest? What action does He invite us to take? 

5) What is one take-away from this sermon you would like to apply to your life this week? 

Monday, May 16, 2016

"Pursue(d)" - 1 Thessalonians 2:8 (May 15, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. What are some of the different messages that we're told in our world?
3. What is the message the Paul puts before the Thessalonians in this passage?
4. Why is easy for Christians to deviate from God's pursuit after become Christians and why is it important that we continue to hold to the Gospel?
5. With what manner are we to present the Gospel?
6. Who are the people and what are the circumstances in our lives that need us to live in a manner of compassion and commitment?

Sermon Outline:
1. The Message of Pursuit
   a. New life
   b. Continued life

2. The Manner of Pursuit
   a. Compassion
   b. Commitment

Monday, May 9, 2016

"Look and Rejoice" 1 Peter 1:3-12 (May 8, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. Think about the different instances of Peter's life, what do we know about him from those?
3. How does knowing Peter's life help us to see the amazing grace of God?
4. What does this passage tell us about the inheritance to come? What are other passages that help us to know about the eternity that awaits us?
5. How does knowing about this inheritance affect our lives today?
6. What are the various trials that Peter's audience, and he, faced? What are the one's you're experiencing?
7. How does this passage help you in the midst of those trials?

Sermon Outline:
1. Looking back to grace

2. Looking forward to inheritance

3. Looking through trials

4. Looking into God's salvation

Sunday, May 1, 2016

"Life in the Best Worst Place" - Genesis 50:15-26 (May 1, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. Think about the evils that have been done against you. What makes it so hard for us to say, "what others did for evil, God meant it for good?"
3. How have Christians, at times, used this verse in inappropriate ways?
4. How does this passage cause us to resist ignoring evil? How does Joseph acknowledge it?
5. Where have you seen God's goodness and his sovereignty at work in your life?
6. Ryan said, "Joseph isn't saying the spiritual people can figure out all the ways God is working, Joseph is saying we are to trust." Where are the places in your life that you need trust God?

Sermon Outline:
1. Realistic View of Evil

2. Resilient Trust in God
   A. The goodness of God
   B. The sovereignty of God

3. Radical Grace Toward Enemies

Sunday, April 24, 2016

"Life Goes On" - Genesis 49:28-50:14 (April 24, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. In v. 29 we're told that Jacob in his death would be "gathered to his people." Why is this a hopeful statement?
3. How do our lives reflect a greater concern for our present life than our future life? Why do we have this disproportion?
4. How does the everlasting life effect our present life?
5. Ryan referenced the end of A Mighty Fortress is Our God, the first hymn we sang, he commented on how the it ends, "His kingdom is forever." What makes this hard to see in our world? Why is this important to believe?
6. How can we live today in light of God's forever kingdom?

Sermon Outline:
1. For the dead

2. For the living

3. For the kingdom

Sunday, April 17, 2016

"Lord of the Future" - Genesis 49:1-28 (April 17, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. What are things in your future that take up your thoughts?
3. How do you generally respond to the uncertainties of the future?
4. What are the disappointments that the brothers would have experienced when hearing their blessings?
5. How do we see God's goodness over the future in this passage?
6. How does God's future promise benefit our present hope?

Sermon Outline:
1. Facing Profound Disaapointments
   a. Consequences
   b. Contrasts & Comparisons
   c. Uncertainties

2. Resting in Radical Hope
   a. Hope's source
   b. Hope's attitude
   c. Hope's promise

Monday, April 11, 2016

"Is it any surprise?" Genesis 47:29-48:22 (April 10, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. How do you feel about surprises? If you don't like them, why?
3. How does our culture of control hinder our ability to enjoy a surprise?
4. In this passage, where do we see portions of previous occasions repeating?
5. Why is Jacob's statement about God being his shepherd all his days, a surprising one?
6. How should we respond to the messes and mistakes of our lives?

Monday, March 28, 2016

"Jesus in the Wide Life of Day" - Matthew 27:55-28:10 (March 27, 2016)

1. What are the dark places you've walked through over he past year?
2. How do Jesus' friends respond to the dark place of Jesus' death?
3. Why wasn't showing dignity in the midst of Jesus' death enough?
4. What had the Romans done to keep the tomb from being opened? Why does this contribute to the historicity of the resurrection?
5. Why is it important that Jesus' resurrection was not that of a spirit but was bodily?
6. What impact on your life does Jesus' bodily resurrection have for you today?

Sermon Outline:
1. Death is confronted
   a. Dignified
   b. Say Goodbye

2. Death is defeated
   a. Empty tomb
   b. Transformed body

Monday, March 21, 2016

"Getting the Pageantry Right But the Person Wrong" - Matthew 21:1-11 (March 20, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. What are the symbols in this passage that point to who Jesus is?
3. What were the events surrounding Christ's entry and why were they significant?
4. What were the expectations that the crowd had for Jesus?
5. What expectations do you have for him?
6. What are the areas of your life that you experience anxiety and fear?
7. How does Jesus, in this passage encourage us to be people of courage?

Sermon Outline:
1. Pageantry
   a. Symbol
   b. Song

2. Person
   a. Symbol
   b. Song

Sunday, March 13, 2016

"The World Where You Live" - Genesis 45:16-46:27 (March 13, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. What are the things in your life or the world around you that are dulling the power of goodness to move?
3. How does Jacob's response to his sons reflect a need to be revived?
4. Ryan gave us two ways of looking at the world: 1) a world governed by God; 2) a world governed by chance. What are the implications of these two approaches? Which do we see playing out in our passage?
5. How are we to live as a result of believing everything is happening under God's rule?
6. Where in this passage does Jacob's observation convince him that Joseph is truly alive?
7. Where do you need to pay closer attention to see God at work (don't just think of the monumental things but also the ordinary)?
8. What is the assurance we have that God is governing all things?

Sermon Outline:
1. What sort of world do you live in?

2. How do you live in it?
   a. Making connections with people
   b. Paying attention
   c. Taking action

Monday, March 7, 2016

"The Proof is in the Pudding" - Genesis 44:1-45:15 (March 6, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. Why did Joseph test his brothers? Describe the similarities between this situation and the one they brothers found them in when they sold Joseph.
3. What were the ways that the brothers showed their true colors?
4. Knowing Judah's history, why is it surprising that he acts the way he does?
5. How does Joseph show his trust in God? How does he hold the brothers responsible but still trust God's work?
6. Where is a place in your life that you need to trust the Lord? Do you find yourself emphasizing man's responsibility over God's sovereign will? How can you grow in holding the two in tension?

Sermon Outline:

1. Tried

2. True
   a. Grief
   b. Confession
   c. Sacrifice

3. Trusting

Monday, February 29, 2016

"Being Changed" - Genesis 43 (February 28, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. What are the patterns that Jacob and Joseph have been in?
3. Where in this passage are there hints of Jacob being changed?
4. Like Jacob's grip on Benjamin, what are the things that you're holding tightly?
5. How does Joseph show his brother's mercy? Why would this have been so difficult?
6. What are the places in your life that you'd rather hold on to your anger or bitterness than show mercy and compassion?
7. Take some time and ask God to make your more merciful and more dependent upon him.

Sermon Outline:
1. Into Dependent People

2. Into Merciful People

Monday, February 22, 2016

"The Mission for Revival" - Acts 1:1-8 (February 21, 2016) *Guest Preacher Andres Garza

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. What are the two qualities of the message that the disciples were to proclaim?
3. What is repentance hard for us? What hinders our willingness to repent?
4. How do the disciples grow in their dependance upon God in this passage?
5. What is a situation in which you're waiting on the Lord? How do you see him using this to grow your dependence upon him?
6. What is the scope of God's mission?
7. What are some practical ways that you can participate in God's mission?

Sermon Outline:
1. The Mission's Instructions

2. The Mission's Power

3. The Mission's Scope

Sunday, February 14, 2016

"Where you go, there you are" - Genesis 42 (February 14, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. Joseph responded to his brothers with both anger and sadness, what are these emotions reveal about him?
3. Why do we often ignore our emotions? How can our emotions speak to our spiritual lives?
4. How is God orchestrating a confrontation between Joseph and his brothers?
5. Why does Joseph test his brothers?
6. How is God using this situation to bring healing to Joseph and his brothers?
7. Where is a place in your life that you need God to bring reconciliation?
8. How does the map and the motivation of this passage direct us in seeking reconciliation?

Sermon Outline:
1. We Hide Our Wounds
   a. Anger
   b. Sadness

2. God Heals Our Wounds
   a. Orchestration
   b. Confrontation
   c. Reconciliation

Monday, February 8, 2016

"Let my people go!" - Genesis 41 (February 7, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.

2. 13 years passed from the time he was sold into slavery to the moment he was freed by Pharaoh. Knowing what we know about the change in Joseph's life, how did God use that time in his life? What lessons did he teach him? What comfort can we draw from seeing that God did not waste those 13 years in Joseph's life? 

3. Read Galatians 5:1. What "freedom" is Paul talking about? What "slavery" is he referring to? 

4. What are some examples of how we live to prove ourselves? How does our justification by grace alone through faith in Christ alone free us to live to promote God's glory instead? 

5. How does our culture measure how we "make a mark" in the world? How does that differ from how God measures our mark in the world? 

6. Francis Schaeffer was fond of saying that, in God's economy, there are no little places and no people. How does Joseph's life reflect this truth? Has is that encouraging for you today?

Monday, February 1, 2016

"Dreaming in Prison" - Genesis 40 (January 31, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. What was a time when you felt alone and that God had forgotten you?
3. Read Psalm 13 (the Psalm our hymn was based off). How does David's words sit with you? Do they make you feel uncomfortable? Freeing? Not sure? Why?
4. Where does this passage offer reassurance to Joseph that God has not left him?
5. How does this help us to be assured of God's presence?
6. How, in this passage, do we see Joseph's kindness?
7. How is this a picture of what the church should be and where are there places where you can duplicate this kindness?
8. Where are the places you've seen God's remembrance / presence in your life?

Sermon Outline:
1. Our Reality

2. Our Reassurance
   a. A better revelation
   b. A better representative

3. Our Response
   a. Something to do
   b. Something to say

Sunday, January 24, 2016

"Time to Flourish" - Genesis 39 (January 24, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. What are some of the ways we see Joseph flourishing in this passage?
3. Joseph seeks the wellbeing of Potiphar - why would motivate him to help this non-Israelite to flourish?
4. Joseph is tempted by a variety of things, why were the options before him so tempting? What are the appealing things in your life that tempt you?
5. How does Joseph respond to temptation?
6. Why is Joseph's resistance and fleeing from temptation counter cultural? How does this differ with the dominant narrative of our culture?
7. It's easy for us to fall into the belief that God will love us because of our gifts / abilities. How does this passage remedy this thinking?
8. Where are the places that you need to know / believe that God is with you?

Sermon Outline:
1. In the Spotlight
   a. Achievement
   b. Attractiveness

2. In the Shadows
   a. Persecution
   b. Prison

Sunday, January 17, 2016

"The Scandal of Grace" - Genesis 38:11-30 (January 17, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. What are Judah's sins of commission and sins of omission?
3. Why didn't Judah look for the woman who had his signet, staff, and cord?
4. What are the things that we do to hide our sin?
5. How do you respond when your sins are found out?
6. How do we see God working in Judah's heart?
7. How does this story give you hope, faith, trust, etc. in your relationship with God?

Monday, January 11, 2016

"Learning to Lament" - Genesis 37:12-36 (January 10, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage loud.
2. Name some of the things we experience or observe that are worthy crying over.
3. What contributes to out lack of weeping / sadness over the brokenness of the world?
4. In the passage, how did the brothers respond to the evil they had just done? Do you find yourself responding to the news of evil like either of these?
5. Where do we have a clue of hope in this passage?
6. Where is a place in your life that you need to remember, "meanwhile..."?

Sermon Outline:
1. Learning to Cry

2. Learning to Hope

Monday, January 4, 2016

"Family Feud" - Genesis 37:1-11 (January 3, 2016)

1. Have someone read the passage aloud.
2. Where do we see sin being duplicated from previous generations in this passage?
3. Where do you see this in your own life?
4. How do we break the patterns of generational sin?
5. In what ways is God's providence displayed in this passage? Regarding the dreams, how do they reflect the certainty that they will come about?
6. Why is God's providential working important to us?
7. Where is an area of your life that you need to remember God is at work?

Sermon Outline:
1. The Passing Down of Sin
   a. The Father's Favorite
   b. The Brothers' Rivalry

2. The Providence of God
   a. Giving Dreams
   b. Shaping the Dreamer