This week we look at the posture of Hope, or as the say in hebrew, waiting קָוָה
How would you define the word hope to someone?
How do you distinguish between hopefulness and wishfulness? Is this an important distinction? What do you think of these common phrases and how the words ‘hope’ and ‘wish’ are used;
When buying a gift for someone, “I really hope they like this!”
When blowing out a birthday candle, “Make a wish!”
Did you agree with Pastor Brennan’s observation, that we can never create a scenario on our own in which we need to have hope? Why do you agree or disagree?
Look at Psalm 42 together. Read the whole thing. How is the word ‘hope’ used in verses 5 and 11? Is the author using it any differently than how we’re used to using it? Does it help your understanding of hope as it’s used in this context to know that the hebrew word is also translated as ‘wait’?
Hebrews 11:1 says this, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” What do you think, is ‘hope’ here used in the same way as in Psalm 42? How so? Or, how is it used differently?
Read Romans 5:1-11 together. The word ‘hope’ is used 3 times very close together in this passage. According to Paul, how is hope produced? What in fact, is the object of our hope… or the consummation of our hope?
Look at your own life. What is it that you hope for? What do you place your hope in? Many of us have ‘hopes and dreams’ for our children, our future, etc. Is this hope or wishfulness? How do these hopes and dreams measure up to what Paul describes as hope?
Today, do you need to tell your soul to not be downcast, but that it should again hope in the Lord? The biggest trial though is waiting, but waiting on the Lord and hoping are the same thing. And we can only do this when we are sure of the one who controls the future. Jesus will not be shaken or deterred, he is our sure and living hope.
Read Roman 5:1-11 again. This is divine perspective and such a blessing to be reminded of.
As our series on sin, the struggle, and the solution continues, Pastor Brennan spoke of the sin of greed.
As you begin to dive into your discussion this week, launch off with reading through the account of Jesus conversation with the rich young ruler from Matt. 19:16-30
Together, discuss this rich young ruler. Who do you think he was and what motivated him?
Why did he ask Jesus about “what good deed” he must do? And why did Jesus respond the way he did, by saying only God is good and that there is no such thing as a good deed the way the man implies? (Hint: Isaiah 64:6) Most importantly, what was the object of this young ruler’s greed?
This next question is written to test your conviction and condemnation of the rich young ruler (love of stuff above Jesus, and love of moral perfection over relationship with Jesus). This should not be a question we answer quickly. And certainly, freedom is found in confession and not denial.
In his sermon Pastor Brennan discussed the 2 sides to greed. First, accumulating. Second, hording.
What are you greedy with, and why?
This was the diagram Pastor Brennan talked about in the service. Our sin-broken hearts tell us that we are only worth what we do. Walk through this together and explore what your actions tell you about who you believe God is. Remember, sin tells us that we’re the centre, the origin point, and that we do in order to become. Then that requires God to act because of who we are. This then dictates who God in fact is.
The Bible however tells us a different story.
Scripture forces us to first consider who God is, and because of who he is, he does. It is what God has done that establishes who we are (before we were ever even created according to Eph. 1:3-4.
Now walk through this together.
The last thing to do now is compare what it is you say you believe about God to what you said about your area of greed (although you can apply this to any and all areas of life). While we say that God is sovereign, what do our actions reveal about our true beliefs?
One of the most difficult parts of the for established Christians is confessing our greed of time and comfort which is challenged by Jesus’ call to evangelize and make disciples. If God is holy and sovereign, and he sent Jesus to atone for us, and our identity is established as his children and disciples, then we are sent by the Holy Spirit to go and be missionaries for him!
Encourage each other in this!
As a younger person, what non-biblical story most influenced how you look at the world? This could be a book, movie, music, etc.
What was its influence on you? Positive, negative, benign? Has it stuck with you until today?
On Sunday, Pastor Brennan described the conversation that the Apostle Paul had with the greek philosophers while he was in Athens. If you need a refresher, here are some wikipedia links, just for fun…
The focus of this study however is the substance of Paul’s speech in the Areopagus, or the high city, of Athens. This was the place where ideas and philosophies were discussed, and where Paul was brought to present his ‘new’ teaching. So keep your Bible opened to Acts 17:22-34
V22-23: What do these verses tell you about the way Paul approached new communities with an eye for ministry? Think about how he actually ended up with an invitation to speak in this prestigious group. What were his practices?
What application do your observations have for how you personally, and we as a church, approach our surrounding communities? Think practical, not just theoretical.
For example: Purely theoretical would be saying something like, “We should know what is important in our community.”
Practical would be something like this;
2 weeks ago Rhonda and I were out for a walk to pick up some groceries. While we sat in Starbucks we noticed a bunch of protestors with marijuana leaves on...everything. Why were they there? We went and spent some time talking with them, built connections, and came away with a deeper understanding of what is of the most importance to this unique (albeit misguided) subculture.
V24-27: Discuss the sovereignty of God. Why is this the theological point Paul begins with in his appeal to the greeks? What do these verses say about the place of God, his authority, his purposes, and our place in his plans? Given what we know of the Stoics and the Epicureans, why does Paul not discuss free will here?
V28: “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”
Here Paul quotes from the poets of the greeks themselves to prove his point. They were obviously interested in the answers to these questions, but without a solid view of what lies beyond the grave, their understanding was wide speculation at best. What does it mean to you, that YOU live, move, and have your being in Him?
V29-30: Paul moves from establishing who God is to what God requires, and the consequences for not meeting those requirements. Have you ever considered this aspect of the resurrection in your conversations with those who are not Christians? That the resurrection of Jesus, while it is hope for those who believe, it is judgement for those who reject him. How is it possible to discuss sin and judgement, lovingly, with those whom you are witnessing to? As Christians, we are quick to show love to others through service, but it is often difficult for us to understand how to show love to others through honestly about sin and its ultimate effect.
V32-34: The crowd was split 3 ways. Some rejected, some were interested, and some followed. Consider this result in light of what Jesus says in Luke 8:4-8
When you open your mouth and your life as a witness for Christ, what are you expecting as a result? It may feel discouraging, if it depends on you. But Paul says that it actually depends on God. As an encouragement, read what Paul writes in Romans 8:28-31
So it falls on us to be faithful witnesses, because the Holy Spirit has already gone ahead of us to prepare hearts and minds to receive the good news of Jesus. We don’t have to be perfect in ourselves, Jesus is the one who completes the requirements of God on our behalf.
This week we gather for an evening of corporate prayer and fasting. As a result, we have no questions to accompany the sermon.
However, if you listen through and would like to post some of your own questions to the comments section we'll be sure to engage!
Opener: What, in your home, acts as a memento? Why is it special to you? What is the memory it points to and how do it represent that?
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