LIFE group guide: eradicating the Easter error

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (April 20) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this sermon.

To consider some of what it means for us that God raised Jesus back to life.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

•  God raised him from the dead … (Acts 2.24)

•  … they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead … (Acts 13.29-31)

•  … believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. (Romans 4.24)

•  We were … buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6.4)

•  … he who raised Christ from the dead will … give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8.11)

•  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10.9)

•  … you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus … (1 Thessalonians 1.9-10)

•  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1.21)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. When I think of someone being “dead” I think of them being ___.”

2. When I think of someone being “alive” I think of them being ___.”

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. Which NT writer speaks by far and away most frequently of Jesus being “raised”?

2. Using the texts above, make a list of what believers do in light of Christ’s resurrection.

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. Which do you think of most often: Christ’s cross or his empty tomb? Why?

2. Could the Father have not raised the Son? Explain.

3. What is the greatest evidence, or witness to, Jesus having been resurrected?

4. “If the power of the God who raises the dead is working in me as a believer I can ___.”

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Mediate daily on God’s character and power as revealed in Christ’s resurrection.

2. Start each day: “God, I will let your life-giving power be shown thru me today by ___.”

eradicating the Easter error

 

Every year, at this time of year, I hear the same thing over and over and over again. In conversations with kin in Christ. Via bumper stickers. Through Facebook posts. On Christian radio. As a part of Christian literature and sermons. At church. I hear/see statements like these:

* “Jesus is Lord and he proved it when by his own power he rolled back the stone and walked out of that tomb.” [insert annoying sound of end-of-game buzzer here]

* “He couldn’t stay dead! He’s Jesus!” [insert quick, decisive buzzer sound]

* “He proved himself to be God by bringing himself back from the grave.” [I need more buzzer!]

* “He willed himself back to life for us.” [insert rapidly repeated sound of buzzer]

* “… Jesus resurrected himself …” [insert sound of never-ending buzzer, growing louder and louder]

Jesus came to life after he was dead. No, not resuscitation, resurrection. Awesome!

But, Jesus didn’t have anything thing to do with it. Listen to the way the Bible relates what happened:

God raised him from the dead … (Acts 2.24)

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. (Acts 2.32)

You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. (Acts 3.15)

… Jesus Christ of Nazareth … whom God raised from the dead … (Acts 4.10)

The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. (Acts 5.30)

God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. (Acts 10.40)

… they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead … (Acts 13.29-31)

God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. (Acts 13.34)

… the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. (Acts 13.37)

… believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. (Rom. 4.24)

We were … buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Rom. 6.4)

he who raised Christ from the dead will … give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Rom. 8.11)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom. 10.9)

By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. (1 Cor. 6.14)

… we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. (1 Cor. 15.15)

… we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus … (2 Cor. 4.14)

his incomparably great power … is … the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead … (Eph. 1.19-20)

God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus … (Eph. 2.6)

… buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. (Col. 2.12)

… you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus … (1 Thes. 1.9-10)

Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (1 Pet. 1.21)

The resurrection of Jesus? God our Father did it. That’s the point. And it’s a big deal. God did it.

And what difference does it make whether Jesus did it or the Father did it?

A lot. A whole lot.

To you. To the way you understand God. And to the way you live your life.

How so?

Rise up, come hear my sermon tomorrow morning at MoSt Church, and I’ll tell you.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Bible interpretation: My Problem With the Bible [essential reading]

“I have a problem with the Bible, but all is not lost. I just need to read it standing on my head. I need to change my perspective. If I can accept that the Bible is trying to lift up those who are unlike me, then perhaps I can read the Bible right.”

Church, language, race & worship: 5 Reasons People Avoid Visiting A Bilingual Service

“I still have people tell me: ‘I would visit the bilingual service, but I’m not bilingual.’ Explanations about how one only needs to know either one of the two languages used seem to fall on deaf ears.”

Discipleship, generosity, giving, minimalist, possessions & selflessness: 5 Practices Toward A More Radical Christian Life [essential reading]

“The older I get the more convinced I become that as rich Americans, you and I are at a tremendous disadvantage to experiencing the depths of the Kingdom Jesus came to inaugurate. … While I’ve traveled to more than 40 countries and spent nearly 8 years living outside the US, it has been my time in India (and more specifically my time in the slums and brothel areas) that has most motivated me to rid myself of American materialism so that I’m free to embrace the Kingdom Jesus spoke of.”

Free will & God: Open Theism Simplified

“Why would Open Theists think that God knows the future as partly composed of possibilities, and not only a future of settled facts in the mind of God?”

Immigration, love & racism: If People Excluded “Illegal Immigrants”, We Wouldn’t Have Jesus

“Under God’s law, Ruth was an ‘illegal’ and to be excluded– but thankfully, she was not. A man named Boaz comes along and becomes the hero of the story by ignoring a law that was ultimately unloving. Boaz marries Ruth, and they have a family. Like Jesus demonstrated by healing on the Sabbath, Boaz realized that it’s better to love than to obey the law. … We only have Jesus because someone loved an ‘illegal’ immigrant.”

Means & provision: If God Will Provide, Why Are My Means So Meager?

“Without a trust that God will provide, it will seem we work harder and get less.”

Tithing: * There’s More to Tithing Than 10%; * Tithing for New Covenant Believers–Yes or No?; * Why I Tithe – Part 1

* “Even if you give 10 percent faithfully, it doesn’t mean you’ll come away with the right perspective about the other 90 percent.”

* “God is pleased when our giving reflects our love for Him regardless of the percentage or amount.”

* “While I respect and understand differing perspectives. I believe the Bible teaches we are to offer God the first-fruits of our income. Gross, not net.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

20′s, choices, decisions & wisdom: 10 Ways to Ruin Your Life in Your 20s [essential reading; spot-on]

“No one ever plans to ruin their life. … but it does happen. It happens far too often. And it happens because of the choices we make, even though that is not a result that anyone would ever willingly choose. Most of those choices take place when people are relatively young—old enough to be making important decisions about their life, but young enough for those decisions to snowball and grow to have disastrous consequences. … How can we avoid making such mistakes? Below are 10 things people can do to ruin their lives while still in their 20s. It is a list of what not to do, or things to stop doing immediately if you don’t want to suffer the results.”

Beauty: The Race We’re All Losing

“If beauty is fleeting, why do we chase it? … Our clay will never turn into the beautiful clear glass we are wanting because it is meant to clay.”

Change, development, spiritual growth & spiritual maturity: Bearing Fruit in Old Age

“If I am the same person today I was ten years ago, I have stagnated.”

Church & spiritual health: * Pain, Relationships, and the Body of Christ [essential reading]; * 5 Church-Types to Probably Avoid

* “It’s easy to say that I’d like to start a new church that will ‘do things right.’ Or choose to withdraw from the gathered body all together, focusing on my relationship with God outside the confines of organized religion. So here are some tempering thoughts, presented in no particular order …”

* “With all of those caveats aside, I want to share 5 different sorts of churches that I personally would avoid if I were moving to a new city and were not a pastor of a church.”

Doubt & outreach: 3 Things to Remember in Discussion with Doubters

“Saying your church is a safe place for doubters doesn’t make it so. … Doubting is never just intellectual. … Strengthened faith should lead to the strengthening of other people.”

God, perception, understanding & worship: The Myth of Worshipping an Identical God

“… we worship our individual projection of God, not a perfectly identical God. And this projection is formed by hundreds, if not thousands, of individual experiences, lessons, traditions, people, and revelations we each have had. In a sense, our personal view of God is like a thumbprint. It’s that unique.”

Nonviolence: At Gunpoint

“Daniel told us he’d kill anyone who tried to come in and take his family away from him.”

Parenting: Teen Spirit

“Helicopter parenting has crippled American teenagers. Here’s how to fix it.”

Oral interpretation & Philemon: David Rhoads Performing Philemon [5 min. video; outstanding!]

“David Rhoads performing Philemon at SBL 2103 in Baltimore, MD.”

Teachers & teaching: What Can You Do?

“Do at least one thing really well, and that will mean doing at least a few other things barely adequately. As the saying goes, ‘If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly,’ and a lot of duties imposed upon many of us nowadays are worth doing … but just barely.

“If, instead, we try to do everything asked of us reasonably well–say, at a ‘B-’ level–we’ll feel ‘B-’ about it all. And exhausted in the process. And that’s a lousy way to live.

“Work at something, at least one thing, at an ‘A’ level. It might be small. It might not even be noticed by others. But you’ll know you did a great job of it, and the feeling of excellence you draw from that task will inspire you in the rest of what you do.

“Meanwhile, practice ‘prudent neglect’ of the stuff that doesn’t matter much.”

LIFE group guide: who gives? our giving God!

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Feb. 2) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. This sermon is the first in a four-part series entitled Giving.

To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this sermon series, or this particular sermon in a series.

To explore and emphasize the importance of our giving of our means.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this morning’s sermon.

• the Lord God … gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. (Ps. 84.11 NLT)

• Blessed be the name of God from age to age, for wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons, deposes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with him. (Dan. 2.20-22 NRSV)

• … as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. (John 5.21 RSV)

• Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age … (Gal. 1.3-4 NIV)

• … our great God and savior Jesus Christ … gave himself for us in order to rescue us from every kind of lawless behavior, and cleanse a special people for himself who are eager to do good actions. (Titus 2.13b-14 CEB)

• God is against the proud, but he gives grace to the humble. (1 Pet. 5.5 NCV; cf. Prov. 3.34)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. When I think of the qualities of God, I think of God as being ____________.”

2. “Whenever I gladly and freely give to meet a genuine need, I feel ____________.”

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this morning’s sermon.

1. Using only the Scripture texts above, what can we say we believe God has given?

2. Discuss Psalm 84.11. What does it mean? What does it not mean?

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. Why does God give his rebellious creation anything at all, and to what end? Where would his creation be without his constant giving?

2. “It’s hard for me to see God as “giving” whenever I see _____. I handle this by _____.”

3. Why does God often elect to give “through” people, partnering with them in blessing?

4. What does God’s gift of Christ to us say to you? Try to describe this indescribable gift.

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Make a list of all you recall God has given (i.e. – literally count your blessings) and pray.

2. Choose to read any five psalms from the book of Psalms. Note what God is said to have already given and/or is being asked to give, be it explicitly stated or implied.