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.]

Instant Faith?

ThumbnailThis 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 »

||40days|| week one: a journey like Noah

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 »

What is Faith?

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. (Hebrews 11:1-2)

All these people [Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah] were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners on earth. (Hebrews 11:13)

Faith. It’s a central element of Christianity. But what is it?

Ask around and so many people say things like: “At least I have faith…” or “I have faith that things will get better…” But what do they mean? What is the substance of their faith?

The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews defines the ancient understanding of faith: “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is a surety and certitude connected with an enduring hope related to unseen things.Read More »