As we continued our journey with the Psalms of Ascent, “Ascend,” this past weekend at Eastbrook, I opened up Psalm 130 for us. I explored the mercy of God as part of our spiritual journey with God in terms of prayer, forgiveness, waiting, and hope. In the midst of that I brought in the story of Jonah, illuminating parallel verses in Ephesians and Jude, an excerpt from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and a reflection on the life of Viktor Frankl.
You can watch the message and follow along with the sermon outline below. You can access the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast. We also have a reading plan for this series, which you can participate with here.
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This coming weekend begins the season of Advent. Advent is a preparatory season of four weeks leading up to Christmas. It is a chance for us to wait in anticipation for the coming of Christ, both as a baby at Christmas and as the victorious king at His second coming. The term ‘advent’ derives from the Latin word adventus, which means arrival.
As a child, my family took the season of Advent seriously. Each evening, we would gather around an advent wreath to sing songs and read a brief devotional about preparation. Although I was more excited about lighting or snuffing the candles than the substance of the time, the way we stepped outside of our normal hurried lives to focus on Jesus’ coming made an impact on me.
This weekend, our family worked on decorating for Christmas. It’s always interesting to unpack the boxes of decorations and supplies that you only see once a year. “I forgot about this one!”, one of our kids said as they held a memorable ornament in their hands. Another of our boys laughed at a particularly interesting crèche set we have from another country. The anticipation is growing.Read More »
Here 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.”
- What was one of the most confusing situations of your life? How did your faith in God shape your response to that situation?
- 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.
- 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?
- What stands out to you about Hagar and Sarai’s behavior in verses 4-6? What stands out to you about Abram’s behavior?
- 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?
- 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.]
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.]
This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I launched a new series called “Beginning to Live.” The focus of this past weekend was faith and so my blog posts this week are all about faith.
Faith is something very challenging for us in our day. We live in a fast-paced culture intent on instant gratification. We think of an item that we want and we immediately search for it online. We find it at a good price. We purchase it with credit. We have it shipped to us within two to three days. When we receive that item, there are times when we no longer remember exactly why we wanted it in the first place.
We want what we want and we want it soon: a few hours, a few days, or hopefully not more than a week.
Look at these words about the faith of those from times past:
They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. (Hebrews 11:13)
They heard the promise, they believed it, and then they lived in light of it…but they did not often receive it within their days on earth. What a hard concept for us today.Read More »
For forty days the rain fell on the earth as Noah and his family watched aboard the ark. Slowly, the sin-cursed world was covered with water until nothing else was visible.
For 150 days after this, the ark surged over the waters of the earth. Dull views, the weary rocking back and forth on waves, and the tiresome work of caring for animals and the boat. And the waiting…
I imagine the waiting was perhaps most difficult for Noah and all on board. When would these rains and flooding end? When would God act to restore the earth? How many days would this animal barge float on the waves before land could be seen again? Are we there yet?
Waiting is perhaps one of the most difficult things in our lives. Waiting for results from a medical test. Waiting for a friend to come for the weekend. Waiting for a job during unemployment.
This ||40days|| journey is a journey of waiting. Our world was aching with unknown waiting when Jesus came upon earth as the Messiah. In this journey we rememberRead More »