Hot Mess – Looking at You

 Our mess is what brings us together today. It is one of the few things that all humans have in common: life is messy! Yet, Christians seem to be quick to recognize someone else’s mess without remembering that our lives aren’t squeaky-clean either. In fact, one of the primary reasons people stop going to church is that Christians are so well known for pointing out other people’s messes. In other words, we’re known for judging people quickly and harshly.   This isn’t the kind of community for which Jesus came to earth, died and was resurrected! He offered us a different vision for community that is grounded in grace without sacrificing a moral standard to which we are held accountable. We’re all in the same boat- the boat of undeserved grace. Let God do the judging and allow His grace to produce the change that it is designed to produce.

Questions for discussion:

  • What do you think was the main point of Matt’s message?
  • Why do you think it is so easy (and sometimes satisfying) to point out other’s messes? How can we use these insights to be more compassionate?
  • Read Matthew 7:1-6. What does Jesus say must be done before we can remove the “speck?” How do we do this?
  • Read James 4:11-12. How does this change the way we think about being critical of the people around us? 

Do something about it:

Try something this week: when you see someone making a mess, instead of being critical/judgmental, whisper under your breath: I know a mess when I see one because I create messes too. Take this opportunity to either help this person directly, or to say a prayer for them.

Digging deeper:

Romans 7; Romans 8:1,2; Romans 3:10,23; James 4; Luke 6:41,42; James 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Ephesians 2:8,9; Hebrews 4:16

This Is Us – Heir Apparent

Every great story has a point that ties the beginning to the end. It is the part of the story that helps us understand the past and look forward to the future. The Bible story is a great example of this. We have seen how God, through covenants and interactions with key Old Testament characters, has communicated His desire to reestablish what was lost during the fall, in Eden. His plan to redeem mankind finds it definition in this newest and last covenant established by His son. The content of the covenant is the fulfillment of every prior covenant: people, place, presence, deliverance from sin and death, establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.   Christ, in becoming the new Adam, explains where we have been, where we are going, and who we are. Though the story is not over yet, God, through Jesus, has put all the pieces in place for a glorious future that includes the promise: And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.”

Questions for discussion:

  • What do you think was the main point of Matt’s message?
  • Read Jeremiah 31:31-34: In what ways does this Old Testament promise point to Jesus?
  • In what ways is Jesus a “prophet, priest and king” and how do these roles help to illustrate God’s redemptive plan?
  • How does gaining a better understanding of this New Covenant through Christ help us to gain a clearer picture of who we are in God’s eyes? 

Do something about it:

God, throughout the Old Testament, was providing demonstrations of His love and practical illustrations of His redemptive plan. Take a few moments to look up and reflect on the following scriptures. Use them as a reminder of how important you are to Him and an affirmation that He has a plan and that plan has always been for your good.

Digging deeper:

Jeremiah 31:31-34; Matthew 1:1-16; John 1:19-34; 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:24-26; Hebrews 1:1,2; Hebrews 9 ; Isaiah 53; Revelation 21:1-7

This Is Us – Golden Child

God’s reclamation and redemption plan continues. He has taken responsibility for His relationship with His creation by establishing covenants with Noah, Abraham and Moses. He has reestablished His plan of people, place and presence and is now seeking to make this plan more personal and more permanent. This next covenant with David establishes an everlasting Kingdom and a promise to never remove God’s “Hesed” (covenant faithfulness) from the lives of David’s offspring. It establishes the expectation of an eternal king on earth, the messiah, who will literally be “the son of God.” It is the final piece in God’s use of Old Testament covenants to illustrate the upcoming ultimate act of redemption.

Questions for discussion:

  • What do you think was the main point of Matt’s message?
  • What does God’s covenant with David and his descendants tell us about God’s redemptive plan?
  • Read 2 Samuel 7: In what ways does God’s promise to David reveal His ultimate plan, messianic plan?
  • How does gaining a better understanding of God’s covenant with David give us a clearer picture of who we are in God’s eyes?

 

Do something about it:

Reflect on how God’s progression of covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses and David illustrate God’s love and commitment to you personally. Does this give you confidence that God has, and has always had a plan to redeem you? Does this give you hope that, no matter what life has to offer God has your back? Look for an opportunity to share the “hope that is within you” with others who might need it.

Digging deeper:

2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 9:1-7; Matthew 1:1-16; 1 Peter 3:15

This Is Us – Adopted Son

The Exodus is the single most important event in the history of Israel (until Jesus’ birth), and the covenant God makes with Moses is a foreshadowing of what God ultimately has planned.  God’s interaction with His people during the Exodus provides insight into His ongoing redemptive work. This work finds its meaning and fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ.  For all of us who feel enslaved or in bondage to sin, the Exodus story offers the template by which God is working to free us.  God’s covenant with Moses at Sinai outlines a way of life that sets us apart. The Tabernacle provides us with a glimpse into how much God wants to be with His people.

 

Questions for discussion:

 

·         What do you think was the main point of Matt’s message?

 

·         What do God’s covenant with Moses and the Tabernacle tell us about God’s redemptive plan? 

 

·         Read Exodus 12. How do the details of the first Passover help us to better understand God’s relationship with mankind?

 

·         What is a “fictive kinship?” How does this term apply to your relationship with God?

 

·         How does gaining a better understanding of the way things were give us a clearer picture of who we are?

Do something about it:

When Moses left Egypt many of those who were with him, who had been enslaved their entire lives, wanted to go back. They preferred the familiar (slavery) to the promise of a new life, a new home, and a brand new, rekindled relationship with God. If this were just a pipe dream, or even a remote hope, you might be able to understand, but it was a promise directly from God. Are there places in your life where you have accepted being enslaved to a circumstance or situation because you feel that is your lot in life? Just as God used Moses to deliver His people from bondage during the Exodus, He is offering you the same deliverance through Jesus Christ.  Are you willing to accept God’s offer of freedom and abundant life? Jesus offers us the answer: “Ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened.”

Digging deeper:

Exodus 12, 19, and 25; Jeremiah 31:31-33; Matthew 7:7-11; Romans 6:5-7; 8:14,15,36; 1 Peter 2:9,10

 

This Is Us – Father Abraham

When we take time to dig deeper into God’s covenant with Abraham and his successors we cannot fail to understand the central role that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob play in Israel’s self-understanding and, by extension, our own self-understanding. God chooses Abraham, who responds in faith and perseveres it through trials and doubt until God delivers on His promise. In Abraham’s story, we begin to hear the rescue plan unfold in earnest. God begins to demonstrate His resolve by establishing His covenant with Abraham and expanding the plan to a family. The heart of that covenant is the promise of a home, a family in which we belong, and that God will show up. We begin to see God forging a path back to His original plan of: people, place and presence. Whether we realize it or not, this is what so many of us crave in our lives. We crave belonging in a family, a place we can call home and the security and blessing of being with someone we trust who will protect us and provide for us.

Questions for discussion:

  • What do you think was the main point of Marlin’s message?
  • Read Genesis 12:1-4: What lesson(s) do we learn from Abram’s interactions with God? What does this teach us about who God is?
    • How big a “step of faith” was this for Abram?
  • Who is this “Melchizidek” (Genesis 14:17-20) and why is He important to the future understanding of this story? 
  • Why do you think God changed Abram and Sarai’s names to Abraham and Sarah?
  • What does the story of Abraham and the covenant tell us about God’s plan for us?

 

Do something about it:

Look for opportunities that are right in front of you. Where is God calling you to step out in faith (like Abraham)? In what areas is He calling you to “just believe” in His ability to provide for and protect you? Use these opportunities to accept and claim the promises of the covenant that God has made with you and all who believe.

Digging deeper:

Genesis 12-17; Hebrews 7; Jeremiah 31:30-33; Luke 22:19,20; Genesis 17:1-16; 1 Peter 2:9

This Is Us – Our Crazy Uncle

 What comes to mind when you think of the story of Noah’s Ark? When we tell it as a children’s story we often focus on God’s saving of hundreds of animals and tend to not notice who the author of the flood was. When we read the story on its own, it can actually be a bit unnerving because it appears to portray God as a harsh, unforgiving taskmaster. One tends to seek a “feel good” aspect and ignore the possibility that a loving God would allow such a thing, and the other gives God no credit and seems to strip Him of all compassion and mercy. Might there be more to this story? When we take the time to dig deeper we find that there is an underlying narrative that helps illuminate God’s purpose in this story? The underlying narrative is of a God who loves mankind so much that He is unwilling to allow them to take His creation down the path to ultimate destruction. So what does God do? He allows us a redo by hitting the reset button.

Questions for discussion:

  • What do you think was the main point of Matt’s message?
  • Read Genesis 9:1-17: What lesson(s) do we learn from God’s interactions with Noah? What does this teach us about who God is?
  • What part does God’s role in the “flood story” play in who we are, today? 
  • How can knowing “who we were” help us to become a better “who we are?”

  

Do something about it:

All of our lives have clutter and things we rarely use in them (like the junk drawer). The unfortunate thing is that many of these things (activities, routines, grudges, etc.) take up space and time. Since Lent is a time to consider the concept of redemption, take a few moments to consider what in your life may need to be de-created and re-created according to God’s purpose and plan. Jesus offers us an opportunity for rebirth. Have you accepted His offer yet?

Digging deeper:

Genesis 9:1-17; John 3:1-16; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 1:3

This Is Us – Firstborn

How would you describe your family? When you look back at those family members who preceded you, does it provide some insight into why you are like you are? We are also part of a much larger family: The family of God. If we are truly interested in knowing who we are, we need to dig deeper and go further back. In truth, our family’s story can be summed up in six Bible stories. These stories illustrate God’s interaction with our most important ancestors.

The first chapter of this journey delves into God’s relationship with Adam and Eve. Our goal is to dive deep into this story and hear God’s supremely good intention for all humanity (people, place, and presence) and to recognize that our current brokenness is due to our unwillingness to live within the bounds He has established.

Questions for discussion:

  • What do you think was the main point of Matt’s message?
  • Read Genesis 2 & 3: What lesson(s) do we learn from God’s interactions with Adam and Eve? What does this teach us about who God is?
  • What part did the “fall” play in who we are, today?
  • How can knowing “who we were” help us to become a better “who we are?”

 

Do something about it:

Take some time during the next week to Read Genesis chapters 1-3, aloud. Read these chapters like they are a message directly from God to you. Listen closely to the covenant that God makes with humanity. Take a moment to reflect on what that means for you, personally.

Digging deeper:

Genesis chapters 1-3; Romans 5:12-18; Exodus 34:6,7; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 7:21-23