Prayer as the Pathway to Unity (discussion questions)

EM07262015 16x9 TitleHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Prayer as the Pathway to Unity” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the fourth part of our series, “One Church.” This week we looked at John 17:20-26.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What do you think are the greatest hindrances to unity, no matter the setting?
  1. This weekend in our series, “One Church,” we are exploring John 17, with specific attention on verses 20-26. Take some time to pray, asking God to clearly speak to you; then read John 17 aloud.
  1. John 17 is sometimes called Jesus’ high priestly prayer. This is because we find Jesus directly talking with His Father in prayer about the heart of His ministry right before going to the sacrifice upon the Cross. What are some of the main things Jesus prays about in John 17?
  1. There are three major sections in Jesus’ prayer here: 1) Jesus’ prayer for true glory; 2) Jesus’ prayer for His disciples; and 3) Jesus’ prayer for future believers. When you consider Jesus’ prayer for the believers in the future – which includes us today – what does this make you think about or feel?
  1. Themes of unity abound in these few sentences of prayer. In verses 21 and 23 what would you say is the fundamental unity Jesus says is the basis for unity amongst believers? Why is this significant?
  1. What do you think Jesus means by saying, “I have given them the glory that you gave me” (17:22)? What sort of glory do we receive as disciples of Jesus?
  1. In verses 21 and 23, what Jesus says there will be certain results – or aftereffects – of believers entering into the unity Jesus prays about. What are those results?
  1. Have you ever experienced disunity in God’s people? Have you seen it impact the effectiveness or fruitfulness of God’s mission in the world? What happened? If applicable, how was this disunity resolved?
  1. What is one way in which you feel specifically impressed to pray for unity in your own life or the life of the church? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about these things together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone.

Prayer as the Pathway to Unity

EM07262015 16x9 TitleIt is great to talk about unity but how do we really achieve it?

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued our “One Church” series by exploring that question through Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17. In my message this weekend, “Prayer as the Pathway to Unity,” I specifically looked at John 17:20-26, where Jesus prays for the future believers, like us, to be one. My main point is that prayer is the pathway to unity and without prayer we will not achieve unity as believers.

You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here.

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One Church

One Church Series Gfx_Web Header

Jesus said, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:20-21). Recently, we began a new series at Eastbrook entitled “One Church.” This series is an invitation to celebrate unity in Jesus Christ as pastors from around the area share God’s word of God with us centered on themes of unity.

July 4/5 – “Maintaining the Unity of the Church” by Pastor Elie Hasbani of Ethnos Church

July 11/12 – “Jumping the Broom” by Bishop Walter Harvey of Parklawn Assembly of God

July 18/19 – “Conflict: The Cause. The Cure” by Pastor Jason Webb of Elmbrook Church

July 25/26 – “Prayer as the Pathway to Unity” by Pastor Erickson of Eastbrook Church

August 1/2 – “Unity Worth Fighting For” by Pastor Jim Caler of Eastbrook Church

You can follow along with the series via our web-site, our Vimeo page, our Facebook page, or by downloading the Eastbrook Church app.

It is Well (With My Soul)

horatio_spaffordThis past weekend, I mentioned the story of Horatio Spafford in the midst of concluding our series, “Turning to God in Troubling Times.”

Horatio G. Spafford was a successful lawyer in Chicago in the mid-19th century. As Kenneth Osbeck recounts,[1] “along with his financial success, [Horatio Spafford] always maintained a keen interest in Christian activities,” including a supportive relationship with Christian leaders of the time, such as D. L. Moody.

“Some months prior to the Chicago Fire of 1871, Spafford had invested heavily in real estate on the shore of Lake Michigan” [but unfortunately] “his holdings were wiped out by this disaster….[Knowing that] his wife and four daughters [needed a rest,] as well as wishing to assist [in an evangelistic campaign in Great Britain]…Spafford planned a European trip for his family in November of 1873. Due to unexpected last minute business developments, he had to remain in Chicago, but sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled….He expected to follow in a few days.Read More »

Singing the Songs of God’s Salvation (discussion questions)

TTGITT Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Singing the Songs of God’s Salvation,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the fifth and final part of our series, “Turning to God in Troubling Times,” from the book of Habakkuk. This week we looked at Habakkuk 3:1-19.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What sorts of things have lifted your spirits when you have gone through troubling times? Why?
  2. This weekend we conclude our series from the book of Habakkuk, “Turning to God in Troubling Times,” by studying Habakkuk 3:1-19. This closing prayer to God full of rich imagery and declarations of faith. Before you read the passage aloud, ask God to clearly speak to you.
  3. Verses 1-2 show a change of tone in Habakkuk from the previous two chapters. How would you describe Habakkuk’s tone in prayer before God in chapters 1 and 2 as compared with these first two verses of chapter 3?
  4. With verses 3-15, we see Habakkuk mingling together reflections on what God has done in the past and what He will do in the days to come. There are many references to the exodus of Israel from Egypt during Moses’ time in these verses. Take a moment to search out references to the Exodus that are found here, particularly in verses 3-7.
  5. Why do you think the Exodus imagery was important for Habakkuk in his day and time? What could it convey?
  6. Beginning in verse 8, Habakkuk depicts God as a warrior. What descriptors of God show His might and power as a warrior here in verses 8-15? Given the pending judgment God outlined in chapters 1 and 2, why might this picture of God speak powerfully to Habakkuk and his hearers?
  7. In the midst of these words about God’s past and future deliverance, Habakkuk mentions the ‘anointed one’ (Hebrew: messiah) in verse 13. Often the Messiah was a reference to a king or ruler. This is one of the clearest references to the Messiah as a person who will bring deliverance and will be delivered by God. Why would Habakkuk be looking for a Messiah in the circumstances of his day?
  8. With verse 16, we read Habakkuk’s final words in this psalm to God. The Hebrew word for ‘trembling’ appears twice in this verse (NIV: ‘my heart pounded’ and ‘my legs trembled’). Why do you think Habakkuk is trembling, even as he waits patiently?
  9. The last three verses (17-19) reveal a deep faith in troubling times. The fig tree, grapes, and olives are luxuries of the land, while the fields, sheep, and cattle are essentials for life in the land. What sort of faith declaration is Habakkuk making in light of what we read here?
  10. Have you endured a time of great trouble? How have you learned to rejoice and trust God in the midst of that season of life like Habakkuk?
  11. As we draw this series to a close, take a moment to reflect on some of the ways God has been speaking to you through Habakkuk’s message. If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.

[Next week we begin a series, “One Church,” focused on the unity we have in Jesus Christ. Prepare for next weeek by reading Ephesians 4.]