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Category Archives: Scripture reflections

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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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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Generous Faith (discussion questions)

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

Discussion Questions:

  1. What do you think it looks like to be generous? When was a time you experienced the generosity of others in your life?
  2. This week, we continue the “Faith Life” series at Eastbrook by looking at the way Abraham responds to God’s goodness as displayed in Genesis, chapters 13 and 14. Ask God to speak to you before reading this portion of Scripture aloud.
  3. What is the cause of the conflict between Abraham and Lot in Genesis 13:5-7? (It is important to see here that God’s promises in Genesis 12:1-3 are already being fulfilled in abundance.)
  4. What do you find most remarkable about Abraham’s response to Lot, who is both younger than him and dependent upon his generosity, in Genesis 13:8-13?
  5. Following the separation between Abraham and Lot, God affirms His previous promises (see Genesis 12:1-3) to Abraham in Genesis 13:14-18. What do you think this meant to Abraham?
  6. In contrast to Abraham’s compromise in Genesis 12:10-20, chapter 13 is bookended by Abraham calling upon God at altars he has built (13:4, 18). Why do you think this is important given all that transpires in Genesis 13?
  7. When did you have to make a clear decision to rely upon God in the face of challenging circumstances? What happened?
  8. What were some of the risks that Abraham takes to assist his nephew, Lot, in Genesis 14:1-16?
  9. Contrast the response of the King of Sodom and Melchizedek, the King of Salem, in Genesis 14:17-24. What is God doing for Abraham in this section?
  10. These two chapters show Abraham stepping out in radical generosity toward Lot because of God’s generous goodness toward him. Take a moment to reflect on how you could extend generosity in some of your specific relationships this week. If you are alone, write down the names of people God is speaking to you about. Commit to pray for them and seek out ways to bless them this week. If you are with a small group, share together about those you sense God is asking you to be generous with this week. Pray for those people as you conclude your time with this study.

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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

God Calling (discussion questions)

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

Discussion Questions:

  1. When was a time that you most struggled to be obedient to God in your faith? How did you grow through it?
  2. We continue the “Faith Life” series at Eastbrook by looking at two episodes in Abraham’s life found in Genesis 12:10-20 and 20:1-18. Ask God to speak to you before reading those two portions of Scripture aloud.
  3. What is it that leads Abraham to begin traveling in both of these stories?
  4. As they travel into the land of Egypt (12:10) and the area around Gerar (20:2), what motivates Abraham to tell the half-truth about his relationship to Sarah? How do you think Sarah felt about this?
  5. Abraham specifically mentions his anxieties that “there is surely no fear of God in this place” (20:11). How does Abimelek actually act in response to God’s words (20:3-16)? How does the character of Abimelek and Abraham compare in this situation?
  6. Have you ever been surprised to find a God-fearing person, like Abimelek, in an unexpected place like? What happened?
  7. God protects Abraham and Sarah, even bringing greater blessing upon them (12:16; 20:14-16), despite the failure. Why would God do this?
  8. In Genesis 12:1-3 God speaks about the promise of a future and in Genesis 21 the child of promise, Isaac, is finally born. There is a lot of distance between God’s promise and actual fulfillment. What did the experience of waiting seem to do to Abraham and Sarah? How have you navigated seasons of waiting for God to act in your life?
 
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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God Calling (discussion questions)

Faith Life Series Gfx_4x3 TitleHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “God Calling,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was the first message in our series “Faith Life.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you define the word ‘faith’?
  2. We are beginning a new series at Eastbrook called “Faith Life,” in which we will explore what it really means to be a person of faith. We will follow the life of Abraham – called Abram at this point in our journey – in Genesis 11:27-25:12. This week, we are studying Genesis 11:27-12:9. Stop and ask God to speak to you before reading that portion of Scripture aloud.
  3. Abram’s journey begins in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) and moves toward present day Israel and Palestine. What do you observe about Abram’s family background and history from Genesis 11:27-32? What stands out to you? What is confusing to you?
  4. Genesis 12:1-3 is perhaps the most important passage in the entire Old Testament. Here, God speaks to Abram with a decisive command and specific promise. What is the decisive command God speaks to Abram in verse 1? What do you think this would have meant to Abram?
  5. When have you experienced God speaking to you decisively? What happened? How did you know it was God?
  6. In verses 2-3, God speaks seven promises of His overall covenant – or agreement – with Abram. What are those seven promises and what is their significance both for Abram now and for others later?
  7. How would you describe the response of Abram and others in verses 4-7? What is surprising and what is not surprising?
  8. One thing to note in verses 6-9 is that Abram journeys to “the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem.” This was a recognized center for pagan religion in the ancient near east. What does Abram do at this site? Why do you think Abram did this and what would it have communicated to others around him?
 
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Posted by on September 16, 2014 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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Vision Weekend (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my vision weekend message from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. Some of these questions are very specific to our church, but whether you attend Eastbrook or not, I think you will be challenged to think about where you are heading with God this year.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is your aim or vision for life?
  2. This weekend at Eastbrook we are talking about our vision for the year ahead. There are a lot of Scripture passages which we will look study, but it all begins with our vision of Jesus. Read Colossians 1:18-23 aloud after you have asked God to speak to you through this study.
  3. Colossians 1:18-20 provides one of the most powerful descriptions of Jesus within Paul’s letters. Take a few moments to list the descriptions of Jesus found in these verses. Based on these descriptions, what do we know about who Jesus is and His role in the universe and church?
  4. Moving from these words about Jesus, Paul goes on in Colossians 1:21-23 to describe what Jesus has done for us. Put into your own words what Paul is saying about Jesus’ actions for us.
  5. The vision of Jesus moves us toward having a specific vision for our particular church. We often talk about our vision at Eastbrook Church as living at the intersection between the Great Commandment (Mark 12:29-31) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Read those two passages aloud. What does it mean to you to live at the intersection of these two great statements of Jesus?
  6. This weekend, Pastor Matt talked about our vision and the six priorities we are working on as a church (see the sermon outline). He also mentioned going “deep” and “wide” with our faith. What is one thing God is speaking to you about these things for the year ahead? If you are alone, write it down. If you are with a small group, discuss these things with one another.

 [Next week we begin our series “Faith Life” following the life of Abraham in Genesis. To get a jumpstart on this series, consider reading Genesis 11:27-25:11.]

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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Connecting Together (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Connecting Together,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was the second part of our series “Together” on what it means to be the church.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you define the church in your own words?
  2. We continue our series “Together” this week by looking at what it means to be the church relationally. This week, we will spend time primarily in Acts 2:1-47 and Colossians 3:12-17. Stop to ask God to speak to you. Then, read Acts 2 and Colossians 3:12-17 aloud.
  3. Peter’s first sermon in the book of Acts is followed by a dramatic response from his hearers. How would you describe the response to Peter’s sermon initially (verse 38-41) and in the days following (verses 42-47)?
  4. The church is not something created by human beings. Based on what you see here, as well as what you know from other portions of Scripture, what would you say is the source of the church?
  5. What do you think that the everyday life of the early church looked like? How does our life as a church look similar or different today? What does that make you think about?
  6. Last week, we looked at Ephesians 2 and the vastly different people who were brought together in the church. In Colossians 3:12-17, Paul exhorts these vastly different people to live together in some very specific ways. Which of Paul’s exhortations jumps out most to you? Why?
  7. How might you grow in grace as a member of Christ’s church based on what you are encountering here in Colossians 3?
  8. What is one specific truth or point of application that God is speaking to you through this study, and how will you live that out this week? Write it down. If you are in a small group, share your thoughts with one another.
 
 

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