This was our first ever, fully online service thanks to the covid-19 situation in the world. Along with this unprecedented outbreak, many people have been experiencing crushing anxiety and panic. At the very least, there has been some low level frustration at having so many good things cancelled!
But our message this week is one of hope in the midst of difficult questions and how God's law is evidence that he really cares about what we are truly focused on.
Pastor Brennan began with this question, "Why did God use Moses and not send Jesus to deliver his people out of Egypt?" Have you ever thought about this? Wouldn't Jesus have done a better job? Come to think of it, wouldn't he have done a better job than anyone who did anything throughout scripture? Why did he wait so long to come?
Has there been a time when you've felt God could have done a better job to step in to deal with your situation and suffering? How did this affect your faith? How have you worked through this with him?
If the point of God's activity is human focused then he seems to have done a pretty bad job most of the time. Yet he is all knowing, all powerful, all present, and all loving. So perhaps our perspective is just in need of an adjustment?
The law was intended to point the people to something beyond their present reality. It gave them something to look forward to, something to hope for. Read Deuteronomy 5:32-33 together. What is it drawing their attention to? Did they actually ever experience this? Why or why not?
Paul wrote in Romans 3:9-20 about the true nature of humanity and the effect of the law. How would you put these 2 things into your own words?
Read Romans 3:21-26 together. What did the law and the prophet bear witness to? What does this passage say about the timing of the coming of Christ? What does Paul note as the effect of the coming of Christ?
How do your answers to these questions spawn hope?
Finish your time together by reading through Hebrews 11:1-12:2. This is a long passage, but there is no better source of hope for us in difficult circumstances. God never promises us an easy life or one free of suffering. What he does promise is that our hope is secure in Christ!
How do you plan to let others see the hope you have in Jesus? How do you plan to serve, love, and fight against fear with truth? How can you support each other, as well as those in your immediate neighbourhood over the coming week?
After listening to Pastor Brennan's sermon on loving other with the gospel in our words, check out video #8 in our series and dig into the following questions with your group…
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Thoughtfully read the following excerpts from the Gospel Fluency Handbook together…
On the night Jesus was betrayed, he shared the Passover meal with his disciples. That meal commemorated the night when God struck down every firstborn son of Egypt while protecting his people from the same fate. Their protection came through the Passover lambs that were sacrificed and eaten inside homes where the doorposts had been covered with the lambs’ blood. This was the final straw for Pharaoh, and he finally let God’s people go. Ever after, the Passover was a remembrance meal of God’s redemption of Israel out of slavery.
At his last meal with his disciples before his death, Jesus showed how every Passover meal was pointing to him. And at this meal, Jesus changed the Passover to the Lord’s Supper as his meal. It became a meal at which we remember how he redeemed us out of slavery to sin and Satan by becoming the true and better sacrificial Lamb of God for us.
Jesus picked up the bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying: “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” Paul said, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). We should remember him regularly with the meal and practice proclaiming his death to each other through it.
Another helpful practice for both remembrance and growth in gospel proclamation is to speak the gospel through the elements to each other’s needs, hurts, and longings in small-group gatherings or missional-community meetings. I first tried this during a missional-community gathering at our home in January several years back. I explained to our group that I wanted each of them to share something they were struggling with; a desire they had that was yet to be met; or doubts or fears they might be experiencing. Then one of us would take the bread and the cup, and speak the truths of Jesus’ body given and blood shed for us to the need… We [went] around the circle: one after another, we confessed our need for a Savior, and one after another, we proclaimed the good news of Jesus to our very real needs. It was an incredibly joyous and tear-filled experience of grace!
I’ve led this same experience many times now with brand-new Christians as well as church leaders. It isn’t always the same experience. Some are not very fluent in the gospel and therefore struggle with how to speak it to specific needs. However, I let people know that’s okay when I start and that those in the group will help one another. I usually ask for someone to volunteer to share, and let the person to the right know he or she will be asked to speak the gospel to the need. I then say: “If you don’t know what to say, let us know and the rest of us will help. Over time, we will all get better at this.”
God has given us many ways to remember him and grow in proclaiming the gospel. They are around us all the time in what is called general revelation—creation and the rhythms of life within it. Our job is to learn to see the truths of God around us and speak the truths of the gospel into it. The meal—“the Jesus Supper”—is the one he told us to use to regularly remember him. It is also one of the most effective ways I have found to train us to do this in all the other places of life as well.
Start with the meal every week, then practice remembering Jesus at the others meals, and you will have twenty-two stops through your week in gospel remembrance and proclamation. If you do this, you will be well on your way to growing in gospel fluency with others!
Thanks to Saturate the World for major sections of this study.
While the war of the mind is a personal war for everyone, it doesn’t have to be an individual war. It’s helpful to know that the ultimate Helper—God the Spirit—and those in your close community are in the foxholes with you, fighting on the front lines for your holiness. In chapter eight of Gospel Fluency, Jeff Vanderstelt writes:
When I am teaching people how to fight with gospel truths, I introduce some cues to help them discover the aspect of the gospel they may need to press into. For instance, if someone is struggling with guilt or shame for what he been done, I encourage him to go to the cross where Jesus died and remember his words: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). We need the reminder that Jesus’s death paid for all our sin, past, present, and future. He atoned for our sin, removed our guilt, and covered our shame.
If someone is struggling to overcome sin, I might encourage her to remember and believe in the resurrection, where Jesus condemned sin’s power. He gives us the same power to overcome by the Spirit who raised him from the dead.
Some are dealing with feelings of inadequacy in their behavior and lean toward performance-based acceptance. If so, I direct them to remember Jesus’s life, perfectly lived in their place, and the Father’s words spoken over Jesus (words that are now ours in Jesus): “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).
Whatever the struggle, the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus gives life, hope, and power. And by faith in Christ, every attribute, characteristic, and blessing that belongs to Jesus is available to us because of our unity with him.
In essence, fighting with gospel truths is trusting in and putting on ourselves all that is true of Jesus, and therefore also true of us in Jesus.
This week’s group exercise puts that into practice as you consider going from “fruit to root” to “root to fruit” together. If your group is larger than six people, you might want to divide into groups of three or four to make sure everyone gets a chance to participate. We’ll encourage you to “let your group in”—especially if there are areas you’re having a hard time reconstructing right belief. It can feel shameful, but by God’s design you need each other in those areas especially!
First, looking at the Tree Diagrams and considering the four questions, have each person…
After each person shares, together as a group . . .
If you still have time, look together at Ephesians 6:10-18. List off the items of the armor of God that Paul talks about and discuss which is the most difficult for you to think about putting on. Dig into why this may be. How can you speak the gospel to each other and help to see Jesus as the one who has given this to you already. What do you need to begin believing about him in order to allow you to conquer this?!
Looking back over the sermon this week, discuss at least one or two of the following questions with your Life Group. As you discuss, remember your commitment to be honest, and to help each other “grow up in Christ” by “speaking truth in love” with each other (Eph. 4:1-16).
A key concept is this: “Language fluency requires immersion into a community of people who speak the language constantly. Gospel fluency requires immersion into a community of people so saturated with the gospel of Jesus Christ that they just can’t stop speaking the truths of Jesus wherever they go and in whatever situations they find themselves.”
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.
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