RSS

Category Archives: Scripture reflections

All I Want is a New Beginning (discussion questions)

All I Want for Christmas Series Gfx_Web AdHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “All I Want for Christmas is a New Beginning,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was the second part of our series “All I Want for Christmas.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. As we continue our series, “All I Want for Christmas,” this weekend, we will study Isaiah 61:1-11. Whether on your own or with a small group, take a moment to begin with prayer, asking God to speak through your study of the Scripture. Next, read that Bible passage out loud.
  2. Background: In the 8th century B.C., the people of Israel and Judah were exiled from their homeland to Babylon. A good portion of the land, as well as the religious and political center of Jerusalem, lay in ruins. Scripture tells us that God exiled the people as punishment for their disobedience to Him as expressed in the covenant at Mount Sinai. The prophet Isaiah addresses these exiled people with a message of hope and new beginnings.
  3. Within Isaiah 40-66, there are four major ‘servant songs’ that speak of how a servant of the Lord, perhaps an individual or the people of Israel together, will suffer while also bringing a revelation of God to the world (see Isaiah 42:1-4; 49:1-9; 50:4-9; and 52:13-53:12). Isaiah 61:1-3, is often grouped with these as conveying a message from a servant-Messiah sent by God. Describe this servant-Messiah’s job and message as outlined in verses 1-3?
  4. How do you think Isaiah’s promise of such a figure would impact the Israelite people exiled in Babylon?
  5. In contrast to the destruction and plundering Israel had experienced, Isaiah speaks a strong message of restoration in verses 4-6. What are the elements of this message? How might this change Israel’s view of their losses, as well as their relationship with surrounding nations?
  6. In Isaiah 61:3 and 7, as well as 60:17, God promises to exchange a certain set of things for another set of things for His people. What sort of exchange does He promise and to what extent does it go?
  7. Where in your own life do you long for God to make such a great exchange? How might you pursue that today?
  8. What does verse 8 say about the character of God?
  9. Verses 10 & 11 describe a life powerfully transformed by God’s touch. What does it look like? Where have you experienced God’s touch in this way in your own life?
  10. In Luke 4:16-21, Jesus reads Isaiah 61 to launch His public ministry in Galilee. Read that section of Scripture aloud. How would you say that Jesus fulfills what we read in Isaiah 61:1-11?
  11. What is one thing you will take away from this study about new beginnings? If you are alone, share that with someone this week. If you are with a small group, take some time to discuss these things with one another. Close in prayer.
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 15, 2014 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

All I Want is Some Good News (discussion questions)

All I Want for Christmas Series Gfx_Web AdHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “All I Want for Christmas is Some Good News,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was the second part of our series “All I Want for Christmas.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. Name a time in your life when you received some good news right when you needed it. What was happening at that point? What was the good news?
  2. This weekend at Eastbrook, we continue our series “All I Want for Christmas” by looking at Isaiah 40:1-11. In preparation, ask God to speak to you through your study of the Scripture and then read that Bible passage aloud.
  3. Background: Isaiah was a prophet in the 8th century B.C., speaking to the people of Judah (southern part of Israel) during times of great pressure. Surrounding nations were threatening them, and eventually many were exiled into Babylon. The book of Isaiah is divided into two major sections. Chapters 1-39 speak to the judgment on God’s people and chapters 40-66 speak to the restoration God will eventually bring. Chapter 40 begins the second major section aimed at bringing hope for God’s people based on His direct and personal intervention.
  4. Isaiah 40:1-11 contains three sections built around ‘voices’ – or people – speaking into specific situations (see verses 1-2, 3-5, and 6-8). How would you summarize what the first voice is saying in verses 1-2? Why would this message be important in the midst of a difficult situation like the exile?
  5. The second ‘voice’ in verses 3-5 speaks about God’s personal intervention in a crooked and wild place. What is the significance of this message and why might it be good news in Isaiah’s time?
  6. Verse 5 highlights the glory of God revealed so all people will see it. This is one of the few Old Testament passages referenced by nearly all of the Gospel writers (see Matthew 3:1-3; Mark 1:1-3; Luke 3:4-6). If Isaiah was foretelling God’s future comfort, what are the Gospel writers trying to tell us by mentioning it?
  7. In verses 6-8, the third ‘voice’ tells the prophet to cry out. What is the message the prophet is given? Why would this be a meaningful announcement for a people exiled at the hands of another powerful nation?
  8. This passage culminates in verses 9-11, which focus on bringing good news that is centered in God’s revelation. What is the message here about God and why is it good news?
  9. In response to this study, consider the good news God has spoken to you. How has it changed you? Now consider the good news God brings in Jesus Christ for others. Who in your life most needs to hear the true message about Christ this season? What is God calling you into this year? If you are alone, write it down somewhere so you can think about it further this week. If you are with a small group, take some time to discuss these things with one another. Close in prayer.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Legacy of Faith (discussion questions)

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

Discussion Questions:

  1. Who is someone you know who has held onto faith in God over the long haul of life? What did that look like?
  2. This weekend at Eastbrook, we conclude the “Faith Life” series by looking at the end of Abraham’s life in Genesis 25:1-11 and the New Testament reflection on his life in Hebrews 11:8-19. In preparation for this study ask God to speak to you through your study of the Scripture, and then read both Bible passages aloud.
  3. Over these last few months, we have journeyed with Abraham from His original calling by God in Genesis 12 through many ups and downs to the conclusion of his life here in Genesis 25. What has caught your attention most over the last few weeks concerning the life of faith?
  4. In Hebrews 11:8-12 and 11:17-19, the phrase “by faith” introduces several instances of Abraham’s life of faith. How would you summarize each of these “by faith” statements about Abraham?
  5. In the midst of discussing Abraham’s specific life of faith, the writer of Hebrews addresses a very unique aspect of faith in 11:13-16. What would you say the writer is addressing and how does this relate to Abraham?
  6. What do you think it means to live by faith in such a way that we “long for a better country” (Hebrews 11:16)? Is this part of your life of faith or not? What do you think it would look like for you to live in this way?
  7. From what you read in Hebrews 11:19, how would you characterize Abraham’s view of God? Why do you think Abraham’s faith was so strong?
  8. As you reflect on this study, what do you want your legacy of faith to be? If you are alone, write it down somewhere so you can think about it further this week. If you are with a small group, take some time to discuss these things with one another. Close in prayer.
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 25, 2014 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

Tags: , , , , ,

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.]

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , ,

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.]

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.]

 
 

Tags: , , , ,

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

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

 
 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,808 other followers