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Author Archives: Matt Erickson

About Matt Erickson

Senior Pastor of Eastbrook Church, husband, father of three, music enthusiast, book lover, and life-long learner. Find out more here: http://mwerickson.wordpress.com/about/.

Listening to God in Prayer

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I spoke from Genesis 18:16-33 about the prayer of faith in a message entitled “Praying in the Midst of Promises and Problems.” One of the five types of prayer that I mentioned from that passage was the prayer of listening to God. One aspect of this passage from Abraham’s story in Genesis is that God reveals His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah.

When we pray, we often voice our needs to God but one important aspect of faith-filled prayer is listening to God. Listening to God enables us to enter into agreement with God and His purposes.

But one question all of us ask is: how do we listen to God?

davidpicDavid Bryant, a leader in prayer movements and prolific author on the topic of prayer, speaks to this in his book With Concerts of Prayer. In that book, Bryant encourages us to listen to God in four specific ways (page 200). I shared these in my message this past weekend and wanted to post them here so people could return to them:

  1. Study the Scriptures – Familiarize yourself with the mind, heart, and character of God through His inspired word. This is the foundation stone and basis for our life of prayer. When we listen to God in Scripture, what we pray for, the way we pray, and our expectations of the answers to prayer are brought into alignment with God.
  2. Be aware of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in your life – All who come to Jesus Christ by faith are now temples of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us and strengthens us for daily life with God. Because of this, we need to grow in awareness and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives. As we listen to the Holy Spirit in us, we begin to grow in awareness of how God is at work, which inspires our prayers.
  3. Learn what God is doing in the world today – Some of the most powerful movements of God happening today, are happening off the radar and in unexpected ways. When we pay attention to what God is doing around the world, it shapes not only how we live, but also how we pray. It lifts us into a greater awareness of what God is doing and how we can talk to Him about it.
  4. Talk to others about what you want to say to God – It is common to pray with others, but it is important to also talk to others about what we want to talk to God about. When we share our approach and thoughts about prayer with others, we also enter into a listening relationship that leads us closer to the heart of God with others.

A necessary tool for the journey of faith is a prayer that agrees with God through listening to His plans for all situations.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2014 in Discipleship, prayers

 

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Praying in the Midst of Promises and Problems (discussion questions)

Faith Life Series Gfx_4x3 TitleHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Praying in the Midst of Promises and Problems,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was the seventh part of our series “Faith Life.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you define ‘prayer’? Do you find it easy or hard to pray? Why?
  2. As we continue our “Faith Life” series on the life of Abraham this week, we will look at Genesis 18:16-33. Ask God to speak to you before your read this chapter of Genesis aloud.
  3. Earlier in Genesis 18, we find God meeting with Abraham and Sarah in the form of three travelers en route to Sodom and Gomorrah. Beginning in 18:16, two of the travelers continue on as God lingers to speak with Abraham. In verses 17-19, God reflects aloud to Himself about whether He should speak to Abraham about what is in store for Sodom and Gomorrah or not. What does God decide and why does He choose this?
  4. In verses 20 and 21, we find that an ‘outcry’ that has arisen against Sodom and Gomorrah to God. This outcry is likely the voices of the wronged rising up to God. What were the wrongs of Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis 13:13; 18:20-21; 19:1-14; Isaiah 1:10-17; 3:8-9; Jeremiah 23:13-14; Ezekiel 16:49-50)? What do you think it means that God hears this outcry?
  5. Abraham begins a bold conversation with God in verses 22-25 that almost seems like haggling or bargaining. Take note of the questions Abraham asks God in these verses. What is Abraham asking of God and how does that relate to God’s character?
  6. When have you entered into a time of prayer that felt like a sort of haggling of pleas with God? What happened?
  7. Through verses 25-32, it is interesting to note that Abraham is not merely pleading for Lot’s protection, but for entire cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. What does this teach us about the way we approach intercessory prayer?
  8. What is one way you could tangibly respond to what God is speaking to you about your own life of faith through this week’s study? If you are on your own, make a plan to put it into action. If you are with a group, take some time to discuss this with one another.

[Next week we will look at God’s fulfillment of His promises with the birth of Isaac and its impact upon Ishmael in Genesis 21:1-21.Read that passage ahead of time to prepare for the study.]

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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Praying in the Midst of Promises and Problems

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What does faith-filled prayer look like?

That was the central question I set out to answer this past weekend as I continued our “Faith Life” series at Eastbrook Church. Drawing upon Genesis 18:16-33, I outlined five types of faith-filled prayer that we see in this wonderfully entrancing dialogue between God and Abraham.

You can watch the video for the sermon and follow along with the sermon outline that is also included below.

You could listen to the message via our audio podcast here. You can access the entire series of messages from the “Faith Life” series here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Communication, Eastbrook

 

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Human Means for Divine Ends (discussion questions)

Faith Life Series Gfx_4x3 TitleHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Human Means for Divine End,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was the fifth part of our series “Faith Life.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. What was one of the most confusing situations of your life? How did your faith in God shape your response to that situation?
  2. This week, we will look at Genesis 16 as we continue our “Faith Life” series at Eastbrook. Ask God to speak to you before reading this chapter of Genesis aloud. In order to best understand this passage, please also read Genesis 12:1-3 and 15:1-5.
  3. In Abram’s day, it was not uncommon or unlawful for a maidservant to have a surrogate child for the matriarch of the household. This would provide for continuance of the family line and inheritance. However, given God’s promises in Genesis 12 and 15, what do you think is going on in Abram and Sarai’s lives from what we read in Genesis 16:1-3?
  4. What stands out to you about Hagar and Sarai’s behavior in verses 4-6? What stands out to you about Abram’s behavior?
  5. Have you ever experienced a time where you tried to participate in God’s plans but did not do it in God’s way? What happened in your life? How did you change?
  6. The second half of the chapter, beginning in verse 7, charts out God’s interaction with Hagar. Who is the ‘angel of the Lord’ and why do you think this is important in the passage? [You may also look at Exodus 3:2-3; 14:19-20; Judges 13:3-21; Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1:19-20.]
  7. Even though Hagar has run away because of Sarai’s mistreatment, God speaks powerful words to her. What stands out to you about God’s words to Hagar in the midst of her circumstances and about her child’s future?
  8. Hagar gives God the name El-Roi, which means both ‘the God who sees me’ and ‘the God I have seen’. Why is this significant for Hagar? What do you think it means for you that God both sees us and reveals Himself to us?
  9. What is one thing God is speaking to you about your own life of faith through this week’s study? If you are on your own, write it down somewhere so you can think about that during the week. If you are with a group, take some time to discuss this with one another.

[Next week we will look at Genesis 17:1-27, talking about the tangible signs of faith into which God called Abraham as we continue our “Faith Life” series.]

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2014 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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Human Means for Divine Ends

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I continued our “Faith Life” series this weekend at Eastbrook Church by looking at how impatience can lead us to take matters into our own hands. In Genesis 16, Abraham and Sarah struggle with their desire to make God’s promises become a reality by coming up with their own plans. Unfortunately, it leads to a cascading series of problems. Still, God shows His grace all through this situation. The central aim of this message was about waiting in faith on the Lord.

The outline and video file for the message are below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here. You can access the entire series of messages from the “Faith Life” series here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Posted by on October 13, 2014 in Communication, Eastbrook

 

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The Commitment of God (discussion questions)

Faith Life Series Gfx_4x3 TitleHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “The Commitment of God,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was the fourth part of our series “Faith Life.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. When did you experience someone going above and beyond your expectations of how they would support, help or love you?
  2. This week’s study takes us into a deep exploration of Genesis 15 as we continue the “Faith Life” series at Eastbrook. Ask God to speak to you before reading this chapter of Genesis aloud.
  3. In Genesis 15:1, God speaks a word of reassurance to Abram. What do you think the significance would be for this reassurance after what transpired in the previous chapter?
  4. In verses 2-6, we encounter a conversation between God and Abram about how God’s promises will be fulfilled given the fact that Abram and Sarai have no children. It culminates in Abram’s belief and God’s gracious gift to him in verse 6. What stands out to you about both God and Abram in these verses?
  5. In verses 2-3 and 8, Abram asks God probing questions about what is going on in his life. Do you think it is okay to ask God questions or wrestle with His promises? Why or why not?
  6. Verses 9-20 are rich with imagery and symbolism that can easily be lost upon us as 21st century people. The act of covenant-making in the ancient near east often involved very physical symbols, here seen in the divided animals, which conveyed responsibility in the agreement. When a party would walk in the midst of these physical symbols, it conveyed their obligation to fulfill the promises at risk of being ripped apart like the physical symbols. What does this tell you about what God is taking upon himself in this covenant-making situation?
  7. God tells Abram about things that he will never see within his lifetime, such as the enslavement of future generations (15:13-14) and his eventual death in peace (15:15). What does this tell us about God? Also, what might Abram have thought or felt in response to these words from God?
  8. This chapter reveals just to what extent God will go to sustain Abraham in his life of faith. What is one thing God is speaking to you about your own life of faith? If you are on your own, write it down somewhere so you can think about that during the week. If you are with a group, take some time to discuss this with one another.

[Next week we continue our “Faith Life” series by looking at Genesis 16:1-16. To prepare, read that passage in advance.]

 
 

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The Commitment of God

Faith Life Series Gfx_16x9 TitleWe have all seen or heard about dramatic commitments between people, but what happens when God commits to us as people?

This weekend at Eastbrook Church we continued our “Faith Life” series by looking at the commitment of God to Abraham in Genesis 15.  Of course, the question we have to ask is: ‘what does God’s commitment to Abraham here mean for us today?’ That led us onward to Romans 4:23-5:2, where Paul references Genesis 15 in relation to the hope found in Jesus Christ.

The outline and video file for the message are below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here. You can access the entire series of messages from the “Faith Life” series here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Posted by on October 5, 2014 in Communication, Eastbrook

 

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