Culturally Fit; Jeremiah 28 & 29, June 15/16

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Jimmy’s Main Points

  • Lesson from History
  • Only Two Things Wrong
  • God’s Plan

Questions/Thoughts/Suggestions

  • What is your attitude towards culture?
  • What messages are you hearing?
  • What messages are you listening to?
  • Jimmy mentioned that Judah got ‘only two things wrong.’  The first was God’s timing.  The second was God’s intentions.  Spend some time thinking about times and areas in your life in which you ‘got these things wrong.’  Are you still there?  If you have moved past these things, how did you come to this place?
  • How are you doing in the settling down in Charlotte and seeking her welfare? (Jeremiah 29:4-7)
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Dealing with the Theology Nut and the Theology Novice in Your Small Group

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Good theology leads us to mission. Bad theology leads us to study the Bible and theology for its own sake, as just an academic exercise to win trivia or win a debate. Biblical theology, properly understood, is meant to lead us to an encounter with Jesus Christ so that we are then compelled by His love to be involved in the mission He has called us to.

 

Dealing with the Theology Nut and the Theology Novice in Your Small Group.

Loving Salvation; Isaiah 1:1-20, May 25/26

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This weekend we begin the final section of the Old Testament: “His Story, Our Story”. In the final section the prophets take center stage, 16 men writing 17 books (Jeremiah writes two) that we have subtitled – Telling the Truth. Our look begins with perhaps the greatest of these prophets Isaiah, whose name means God saves.
The passage reveals God’s heart-broken not over the state of the world but by his own people’s rebelliousness and their inability to see the problem. Yet in the midst of this dilemma they continue to put forth a form of worship. Bottom line to God is that form doesn’t matter, neither do the elements of worship, not until there is a repentance leading to a genuine change. This is where God steps in. The Holy God of love provides the answer to our deepest need. He refuses to cooperate with my agenda to feel satisfied instead offering me salvation because he loves me.
Jimmy’s Main Points:
  • God’s Broken Heart
  • Heart of Worship
  • Heartfelt Invitation

Questions/Thoughts/Suggestions

  • What images come to mind when you hear the word ‘prophet?’
  • The prophets bring a message from the holy God of love.  Why do you prefer a message from a nice God of love instead?
  • Read Isaiah 1:1-9.  Spend some time meditating on these words from a parental perspective.  Does it change the way you understand God’s relationship with his covenant people?
  • Jimmy said, “The biggest hindrance to our spiritual progress is the fact that we think we are healthy.”  Spend some time talking about this statement.  Do you agree or disagree?  Why or why not?
  • What does meritocracy in your relationship with God look like?
  • Read verses 10-15.  How does this description of satisfying and unsatisfying worship mesh with your understanding?
  • Jimmy ended with these words: “I need the gospel every day, because I need cleansing every day.”  Spend time as a group thinking about these words and using them as a springboard for your time of prayer.

Wise Sex; Song of Songs, May 18/19

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It seems that everyone in our culture is talking about sex.  Well, everyone except the Church.  And often when the Church does speak, it conveys messages about sex that are just as dangerous as the culture’s.  So this week, we’ll use the Song of Songs as a jumping off point to explore what the Bible really does say about sex.  First, we’ll see that sex is good, a gift from our Creator, and something to be enjoyed and even celebrated.  We’ll look at Genesis 1-2 and also read a number of passages from Song of Songs that celebrate sexual love.  Second, we’ll see that sex is broken.  In the middle of SoS, there is a tense moment when a relational conflict jeopardizes the sexual relationship.  While a sexual relationship is good and beautiful, it is also difficult.  And the greater something is, the more possibility for damage.  We’ll briefly explore some of the ways in which sex is broken (extramarital sex, pornography, sexual or relational lust) and the pain it can cause both partners.  Finally, we’ll bring some hope in two ways.  First, hope for our sexual relationship.  SoS doesn’t end in crisis – there is redemption, forgiveness, reuniting, and reconsummating.  But there is a deeper hope: even the best sex is only a pointer to a more foundational, and more satisfying, relationship – with God and his people.  We’ll end with this focus on Jesus, highlighted in the Wedding Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19).

Dave’s Main Points

  • The Goodness of Sex
  • The Brokenness of Sex
  • The Hope of Sex

Questions/Suggestions/Thoughts

  • We should not be ashamed to discuss what God was not ashamed to create.  What thoughts went through your mind when Dave quoted this statement?
  • Why is the book about sexual intimacy in the Wisdom literature of the Bible?
  • Everyone is talking about sex.  Spend some time evaluating where you, your spouse, friends, children hear about sex?
  • Is your biblical understanding of sex a moral code of do’s and don’ts?
  • Make sure each person understands sexual intimacy in light of the big story of Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation.
  • What words and feelings would use to describe the brokenness of sex?
  • Is sex the object of your worship or is it a means/pointer to the object of your worship?  What is the difference?
  • How should we walk with those who are struggling with sexual brokenness?
  • Notice that sexual intimacy begins with a wedding (Genesis 2:23-25) in the Bible and ends with a wedding (the consummation of the wedding of the Lamb and his bride in Revelation)!

Making Sense of It All; Ecclesiastes, May 11/12

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Jimmy‘s Main Points

  • Losing Proposition
  • Looking All Around
  • Living It Out

Questions/Thoughts/Suggestions

  • Discuss the following three statements Jimmy made in his sermon.  Do you agree or disagree with each?  What can you do in response to these statements?
  • We cover up emptiness with distraction.
  • We cover up loneliness with being social.
  • We cover up futility with activity.
  • The author of Ecclesiastes has issues with death (9:5f), do you?  How does Christ’s death and resurrection address this issue?  How should a follower of Christ view death (don’t give the expected Christian answer, remember Paul hated death and longed for its obliteration)?
  • The main word in the book of Ecclesiastes gives the sense of the transitory nature of life, even the elusiveness of life.  His one constant source of comfort is the reality of God.  Spend some time discussing this thought.
  • What do you treasure?  How do you treat the things you treasure?

The Way of Wisdom; Proverbs 8, May 4/5

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Ken’s Main Points

  • What Is It?
  • Why Does It Matter?
  • How Do I Get It?

Questions/Thoughts/Suggestions

  • What is your general understanding of the purpose of the book of Proverbs?
  • How have you used Proverbs in the spiritual formation of your life and/or children’s lives?
  • Identify the voices that you hear on a daily basis that conflict with the voice of Wisdom.
  • What is wisdom?  Why does it matter? How do you go about getting it?
  • How is wisdom related to moral knowledge?
  • In which areas of your life do you feel that you’ve applied wisdom consistently?  I which areas is it hardest to apply?
  • Ken was very clear that Wisdom is a type (shadow, pattern) of Christ, much like Isaac and ram in Genesis 22 are types of Christ.  What is the benefit of understanding Wisdom as she is presented in Proverbs 8 as a type of Christ?  What is/are the danger/s?
  • What did you think of the understanding of the Fear of the Lord to mean having a fear from the Lord so that we will not run away from him to anything for refuge, hope, joy or hope?  Ken illustrated this with the fear parents instill in their children concerning strangers.  Does this help you understand and apply the Fear of the Lord?

King of the Good Life; Psalm 2, April 20/21

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This weekend we followup last week’s introduction the Wisdom Literature in Psalm 1, with Psalm 2. Last week Dave opened things up by talking about two ways two live or “What is the good/blessed life, and how can I get in on it?” Psalm 2 talks about the rule of the Lord’s Anointed, or put another way “The King of the Blessed Life”. Christ is the Lord’s Anointed who is one with God. Therefore, the good life, the blessed life, is irrevocably and exclusively tied to God as king.

Psalm 2 begins by asking the question “Why do the nations conspire and the people plot in vain… against the Lord and against his anointed?” The Psalmist then moves to God’s response to those who conspire and plot: He points his anointed whom he has installed as king. Next the psalmist describes the authority given to his anointed king, his son: over the nations and earth, guiding and shaping them in God’s ways. Lastly the Psalmist warns us to serve, worship and love God’s anointed, his son. Let me know if you have any questions.

Cedric’s Main Points

▪   Chains & Shackles

▪   God’s Rebuke

▪   Wisdom and Warning

Questions/Thoughts/Suggestions

▪   When you think of the phrase ‘chained & shackled,’ what kinds of images and thoughts come to mind?

▪   How did Cedric’s point that the ‘chains & shackles’ are good things that used for our good (think yoke, unity, holiness)?

▪   Spend some time talking about the difference in the crucified, raised and ascended Christ.  What difference do these distinctions make in everyday life?  (focus on vss. 4-6)

▪   The psalmist talked of nations plotting against God.  Cedric stated that plotting is another way of saying self-reliance.  Spend some time comparing Psalm 1 & 2 and the connections between plotting/self-reliance & blessed life/God as King.

▪   Do you see the yoke of God as representing his holiness?

▪   God’s rebuke is pointing you to the ascended Christ on the throne.  Are you more self-reliant than a servant of the King?

▪   What kind of love do you have towards the ascended King Jesus?  Is it safe and platonic?  Or is it passionate and familial?

▪   Meditate on this prayer of the Puritans concerning the fullness of Christ: Help me to delight more in what I receive from Christ, more in that fullness which is in him, the fountain of all his glory.  Let me not thing to receive the Spirit from him as a thing apart from finding, drinking, being filled with him.  To this end, O God, do thou establish me in Christ, settle me, give me a being there, assure me with certainty that all this is mine, for this only will fill my heart with joy and peace.

Two Ways to Live; Psalm 1, April 13/14

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This weekend, we turn the page to a new section in God’s Story: the Wisdom Books.  Psalm 1 is an introductory Psalm meant to orient us to some basic principles about life.  It’s chief concern is addressed in its very first word: “Blessed.”  The question it raises for us is an important one: What is the good life (or the “blessed life”) and how can I get in on it?  What is the Way that leads to blessing?  And the rest of the Psalm seeks to answer this question.  There are two Ways. First, there’s the Way of the Mockers, who put themselves at the center of their own personal universe and pursue their own ultimate happiness above all else.  But what the Psalm tells us that this is actually a dead-end road that leads to our own undoing.  The other Way is to pursue the blessed life by pursuing something (or someone) else – the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord.  The basic principle is summed up in C.S. Lewis’ famous words, “Aim at Heaven and you’ll get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you’ll get neither.”

Dave’s Main Points

  • The Search for the Good Life
  • A Dead End
  • The Road That Leads to Life

Questions/Thoughts/Suggestions

  • Do you equate wisdom with knowledge or information?
  • Spend some time talking about the grey areas in life.
  • How do you understand the word ‘blessed’ as it refers to us?
  • Another way to ask this question, what do you consider the good life?
  • Our answer to this question determines what and how we live our life.
  • Why is self-reliance a dead-end road?
  • Talk about the progression in this Psalm.
  • Mockery think they have life figured out. Are you residing in this dangerous place?
  • What does it mean to delight in the Law of The Lord?
  • How does the Law of The Lord relate to wisdom?
  • The good life never comes from the direct pursuit of it, rather, the being blessed is a by-product of pursuing the right thing. This is profound, meditate on this and discuss as a group.
  • The Law is a delight because God is not an arbitrary law-maker. He gave us his law so we will experience the good life. As a group consider how Jesus brings together the Law and the good life.
  • Spend some time discussing the metaphor of a prospering and flourishing tree relates to you as a follower of Jesus.
  • The phrase ‘…yields its fruit in its season…’ reminds us of the truth that the good life includes times of flourishing and times of barrenness. Discuss how this helps us live out our lives wisely in the valleys and mountains.