praying for a change (34)

 

So every single one of you who judge others is without any excuse. You condemn yourself when you judge another person because the one who is judging is doing the same things. We know that God’s judgment agrees with the truth, and his judgment is against those who do these kinds of things. If you judge those who do these kinds of things while you do the same things yourself, think about this: Do you believe that you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you have contempt for the riches of God’s generosity, tolerance, and patience? Don’t you realize that God’s kindness is supposed to lead you to change your heart and life? You are storing up wrath for yourself because of your stubbornness and your heart that refuses to change. (Romans 2.1-5a CEB)

God,

Thank you for clearly reminding me what you consider, and call, my unwillingness to change: stubbornness.

I don’t want to be known as stubborn by anyone, especially you.

I don’t want to become more and more of a stubborn person, but less and less, especially toward you.

I don’t want to be remembered as a stubborn person by anyone, especially you.

If I must be stubborn, God, help me to be stubborn in my remembrance of you.

Stubborn to remember your kindness, generosity, tolerance, and patience.

May my reflection on your kindness make me different from what I am.

Amen.

10 things for which you can thank God

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (Sun., Nov. 27). This guide will enable your follow-up of the sermon that I’ll preach from Romans 8, God willing, that morning on some of the things God does for us for which we should be grateful. You’ll find these LIFE group discussion guides categorized each week here on my site under the category title LIFE group guides.

Aim

To remind us of some of what God has done, is doing, and will do, for us.

Word

1. Now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (vs. 1)

2. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. (vs. 2)

3. The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your human bodies also, through his Spirit that lives in you. (vs. 11)

4. The Spirit comes to help our weakness. (vs. 26)

5. You received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. (vs. 15) We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ … (vs. 17)

6. God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. (vs. 28)

7. Those who God decided in advance would be conformed to his Son, he also called. Those whom he called, he also made righteous. Those whom he made righteous, he also glorified. (vs. 30)

8. If God … didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also freely give us all things with him? (vs. 31b-32)

9. It is Christ Jesus who also pleads our case for us. (vs. 34)

10. In all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. Nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created. (vs. 37-39) [Romans 8 CEB]

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to get us all talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. What is usually the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about God?

2. If you were to write one chapter in the Bible as to what God has done for us – as the apostle Paul did here in Rom. 8 – what one thing would you make sure was included?

Dig

These questions are intended to help us grapple with Scriptures related to this morning’s sermon.

1. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all referenced in Rom. 8. Where?

2. In which tense is God noted most often as working here: past, present, or future?

3. Discuss the meaning of conformed, called, righteous, and glorified (vs. 30).

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us through his word.

1. For what are you thankful to God? How does your list compare with Rom. 8?

2. What would you say you are most likely to tend to forget that God does for you?

3. Of all that God does for us, what do you find most difficult to comprehend? Why?

4. Of all that God does for us, what do you find most difficult to accept or believe? Why?

5. Of all that God does for us, what do you find easiest to believe or accept? Why?

6. “This week, Heavenly Father, I will seek to become more thankful that you _______.”

a worshiping people

NOTE: Following is a copy of a discussion guide that could be used in a small group setting, such as MoSt Church‘s LIFE groups. These discussion guides work the same subjects and primary texts as the Sunday morning sermon. You’ll find these guides categorized each week under the category title LIFE group guides.

Aim

People who belong to God are people who worship God in all they do.

Scripture

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. (Romans 12:1 TNIV)

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:26-27 TNIV)

What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. (1 Corinthians 14:26 TNIV)

Open
Icebreaker questions are intended to simply get us all talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Tell us of a funny happening “in church” that made you think, “Well, I hadn’t ever thought about that happening in worship before!”

2. Tell us of one specific moment when you sensed that you were deeply worshiping God.

Dig
These questions are meant to help us grapple directly with the sermon’s primary Scripture texts.

1. What words and/or phrases in Rom. 12:1 echo descriptions of worship in the Old Testament?

2. According to James 1:26-27, what three dimensions of life are engaged when you’re “doing religion right?”

3. What false narrative(s) about worship do you see directly challenged by 1 Cor. 14:26?

Reflect
These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us through his word.

1. Which is easier for you to grasp and express, worshiping God with your body or your spirit? Why?

2. What are some of the biggest misunderstandings about what it means to worship God and to practice true religion that you have had to overcome in your life thus far?

3. William Law, author of the Christian classic A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728), wrote in that work: “It is very observable that there is not one command in all the gospel for public worship … Whereas that religion or devotion which is to govern the ordinary actions of our life is to be found in almost every verse of Scripture.” Engage this quote.

4. What aspect(s) of gathered worship (i.e. – worship with other believers) do you find yourself most frequently coming back to, building upon, or just generally carrying with you into your worship of God when you’re not together with other believers (or not on Sunday “in the church house”)?

5. Have you ever encountered someone who claimed to be very religious, but who refused to worship with other believers? What did you say to them? What would you say to them now?

6. Two specific false narratives about gathered worship were discussed in the sermon. Name them and tell of how Scripture overthrows these bits of “bad code” in our thinking. Can you think of other false narratives about worship, whether individual or corporate, that Scripture challenges?

7. What is most striking or powerful to you about the Scripture’s teaching that worship encompasses your whole life and not just your life “at church on Sundays?” How does it affect the way you see God? Others? Yourself?

the Roman Empire & the NT (5)

… parts of the New Testament writings instruct followers of Jesus to pray for the emperor and to submit to governing authorities. Christians have often appealed to this instruction as though it were the only stance followers of Jesus are to exhibit toward a government. Come what may, so the argument goes, Christians must obey. This view encourages a willing submission, a quick trust, and an unquestioning acceptance of government policies and decisions. Often Romans 13 is understood to mean that God ordained whatever the government does and so it is to be accepted, not resisted. One consequence of this is that maintaining the social order or cooperation with it is seen to be the most important thing.

There is no denying that Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 are part of the Christian scriptures. Whether Romans 13 offers such an all-embracing and compliant approach to political matters is debatable … But one thing is not debatable. The New Testament writings do not offer only one strategy of compliance and submission to define how Christians might engage political matters. They do not endorse the current societal structure as unassailable. They do not make it sacred and untouchable as God-ordained. They do not endorse the status quo regardless of its wrongs. Some Christians have wrongly tried to assert such claims in the face of sinful relaities such as slavery, or misogyny, or racism. … early Christian writers willingly evaluated the Roman Empire and were not reluctant to declare it generally inconsistent with God’s purposes. They do not urge blind submission to it. Instead … they frequently urged strategies of opposition and challenge, of contesting and subversion. Our New testament writings challenge a “default position” of unswerving submission.

The issue, of course, is to know when to employ which strategy. When is compliance and when is resistance appropriate? That process of discernment is difficult. It involves, I would suggest, much prayer, study, thought, and debate.

The Roman Empire and the New Testament: An Essential Guide by Warren Carter (Abingdon Press, 2006), pp.139-140