What is our picture of Jesus?

We must examine the picture of Jesus that we have in our minds.

Many times, we have a sentimentalized picture of Jesus. It is a hallmark picture of Jesus that is not reflective of the Jesus of the Gospels. We idealize and romanticize the person and work of Jesus to the point where He is no longer connected with the real world in which we live.

Jesus is the eternal Son of God, but He was also the incarnate Messiah of God. He was a middle-eastern man who did not have a place to lay His head. He walked dusty roads. He ate, He grew tired, and He slept. He spent time with people, both the socially important and the socially unimportant. He loved parties and He loved upsetting peoples’ expectations.

And Jesus loved children. Not just sentimentalized children at their best, but everyday children at their worst and in the worst positions possible.

Jesus went to the blank spaces and invites His people to enter into the blank spaces of children with Him.

God does not need to call us to the comfortable spaces because we naturally go there. God does not need to call us into peace because that is the natural desire of every human heart. But God calls us into the uncomfortable, distressed blank spaces because His love cannot hold back.

I love the words of South African missiologist David Bosch: “Mission has its origin in the heart of God. God is a fountain of sending love. This is the deepest source of mission. It is impossible to penetrate deeper still; there is mission because God loves people.”[1]

So, because of God’s love, we are called into love.

Because God goes, we too must go.

Because God enters into blank spaces, so we too must enter into blank spaces.

[For more on this theme, access my message “God of the Little Ones.”]

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[1] David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1991), 392.

Worry and Faith (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Worry and Faith,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is part of our series “The Kingdom Life.” The text for this week is Luke 12:22-34.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When have you experienced the greatest worry in your life? How did you deal with it?
  2. This weekend we continue “The Kingdom Life” series by looking at Luke 12:22-34. After beginning your study in prayer, ask God to speak to you, and then read those passages aloud.
  3. This teaching from Jesus begins with a strong exhortation not to worry. What does Jesus say not to worry about in 12:22, 29?
  4. Jesus offers two examples from nature – the birds and the wildflowers – for His disciples. What do these two examples tell us about worry and faith?
  5. What does Jesus tell us about God’s thoughts and actions on our behalf in relation to our worries (12:24, 30-31)?
  6. How have you learned to give your worry to God? Take a moment to read Philippians 4:6-7. How does this illustrate the connection between prayer and worry?
  7. Jesus’ summary statement in 12:31 is well-known. What do you think it means?
  8. In 12:32-34, Jesus exhorts His disciples to not fear, but to do something else instead. What does He call them to do?
  9. What do you think it means to live as a reflection of Jesus’ words in 12:34?
  10. What is one way that God is speaking to you personally through this study? If you’re on your own, write it down and share it with someone later. If you are with a small group, discuss this together.

 


Daily Reading Plan

To encourage us together in our growth with God, we arranged a daily reading plan through this series. You can also join in with the daily devotional here. As you read each day, ask God to speak to you from His word.

Monday, May 8                     Luke 12:22-26
Tuesday, May 9                    Matthew 6:25-27
Wednesday, May 10             Psalm 147:1-11
Thursday, May 11                 Luke 12:27-34
Friday, May 12                      Matthew 6:28-34

Worry and Faith

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church we continued our series “The Kingdom Life” by exploring the topic of worry and faith. My message centered on Jesus’ words in Luke 12:22-34, giving some attention to John 20:19 and Philippians 4:6-7 as well.  Here’s my contention: if Jesus opens the doorway to God’s presence through the Cross and the Resurrection, then it is possible to move from a place of fear to fearlessness in our lives.

I started off with the results of the 3rd annual Survey of American Fears. I’m not sure what you’re most afraid of, but you might enjoy looking at the last few entries on the list of all fears Americans have.

You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

Also, you are welcome to join in with the daily reading plan for this series.

 

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Hearing God in the Darkness (discussion questions)

Featured Image -- 6321Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Hearing God in the Darkness,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the fifth part of our series, “Finding God in the Darkness,” from the book of Job. This week we looked at Job 38:1-42:6.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever felt completely out of your depth in a situation? What did you do to handle the situation? How did you respond?
  2. This weekend we continue our series, “Finding God in the Darkness,” this weekend by looking at Job 38:1-42:6. Whether you are on your own or with a small group, begin your study in prayer, and then read that portion of Job aloud.
  3. Background: After arguing with his three friends about his suffering and then hearing from young Elihu, Job finally meets God and has a conversation with Him about the suffering he has endured. God’s words with Job form two speeches found in 38:1-40:2 and 40:6-41:34.
  4. Both of God’s speeches indicate that God is speaking “out of the storm” (38:1; 42:6). The storm referred to here is usually a sign both of God’s power and judgment (see Psalm 29; Jeremiah 25:30:32; Nahum 1:3-6). Why do you think that God is speaking “out of the storm” to Job?
  5. The first speech (38:1-40:2) conveys God’s power in creating, sustaining and ordering all of creation. What are some of the main images or examples you see of God’s powerful hand in creation here?
  6. Job offers a brief response in 40:3-5. How would you characterize the tone of Job’s response?
  7. God’s second speech (40:6-41:34) shows God’s power over the most violent and unmanageable creatures we could see or imagine. While there has been much ink spilled over what specific animals “Behemoth” and “Leviathan” represent, the point of the passage is clear: no human – including Job – has power over this sort of creature (see 41:33-34). As you reflect on the power of God in the created world, what other natural aspects of creation cause humility in the hearts and minds of humans?
  8. Job has asked for a hearing with God (Job 9:33-35; 31:35), but when he finally has it, God takes Job into a different direction than he had hoped. God does not give Job a direct answer, but instead puts questions to Job (38:2-3). What does this tell us about encountering God?
  9. Job’s final response is humility and repentance before God (42:1-6). Why is Job humbled? If Job is blameless in God’s eyes at the beginning of the book (2:3), why do you think that Job chooses to repent? What is he repenting of?
  10. What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you through this study? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and then take extended time to pray about what you share. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.

Deep: Changed with God (discussion questions)

Jesus Changes Everything Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Deep: Changed with God,” which is the second part of our series “Jesus Changes Everything” at Eastbrook Church. This study walks through Philippians 2:12-13.

  1. When have you experienced the need for a total change in your life? What lead you to that place and what happened next?
  1. We continue our series, “Jesus Changes Everything,” by looking at two verses from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi found in Philippians 2:12-13. Begin your study in prayer, asking God to speak into your life, and then read Philippians 2:1-18 aloud.
  1. The Apostle Paul is writing from prison to the believers in Philippi about their life with God. He begins chapter 2 by expressing his desire for them to in unity as a community by relating to one another selflessly (2:1-4). Jesus is an obvious illustration of what this looks like (2:5-11). He then returns to his discussion of their life together as a community beginning in verse 12 with a call to obedience. Why do you think Paul begins this next section with the theme of obedience? To whom are they to be obedient? What does that obedience look like?
  1. Verse 12 continues with the call to “work out your salvation.” From Paul’s other writings we know that this does not mean “work for your salvation” (see Ephesians 2:1-10). What do you think this phrase means?
  1. Paul says that they are to work out their salvation “with fear and trembling.” What does fear and trembling have to do with this sort of work?
  1. With verse 13, Paul clarifies that, of course, we must rely on God to do this and to fulfill God’s purposes in our lives. How does the knowledge of God’s work in our lives encourage you in the process of growing with God?
  1. Last week, Pastor Mark Lynch talked from John 2 about how Jesus changed water into wine, and how that illustrates how Jesus changes everything about our lives. What is one area that you know you need God to change in your life? Take a moment to pray, simply expressing to God your desire to put that area of your life into His hands. Sit quietly and surrender every aspect of the situation, every person involved, every feeling you have, every timeline…Simply ask Him to take it all and transform you.\
  1. What is one specific way that you sense God is calling you to grow more deeply with Him these days? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about what you share together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.