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.