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

 

Affordable Care Acts / Obamacare: * Affordable Care Act and Health Coverage; * Obamacare: Your 12 Biggest Questions Answered

* “On next Tuesday, October 1, 2013, Americans without health insurance coverage will be able to enroll for coverage under provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The process is fairly simple. You can apply online at www.healthcare.gov.”

* “Will the new insurance exchanges make buying insurance on my own easier? … I’ve already got insurance at my job. Why does any of this matter to me? … I’ve been buying my own insurance for years. What changes? … Will the exchanges lower prices? … What about my premium? Up or down? … Can I still buy insurance off the exchange? … Will I really have to pay a fine if I opt out? … I keep hearing about subsidies. Who is eligible for one? … I’m retired. What do I need to do? … This all sounds pretty complicated. Do we have a logistical disaster in the making? … Could the government still pull the plug? … What happens if too many opt out?”

Arrogance & pride: Three Signs of Arrogance

“Now, of course, you might say, “Not me! No way I am even remotely an arrogant person.” Sometimes we think of people who act pompous and immediately conclude that we are certainly not arrogant. Yet, arrogance sometimes comes out in people who think they are … better … smarter … more important.”

Children, parenting & youth ministry: Anonymous Youth Pastor’s Letter to a Parent

“I need to get something off my chest. When I first came to this church, you told me how excited you were that I would be showing your kids what it means to love Jesus, be part of His Church, and grow as a Christian. You told me you were praying for me and that you had my back. You had high hopes for the youth ministry. I had high hopes too. But I must confess that I am frustrated right now because I feel like you’re working against me, not with me.”

Civility, internet, respect, rudeness, speech, thoughtlessness & words: ‘Popular Science’ Shuts Comments, Citing Internet ‘Trolls

“We’re all familiar with that deep, dark rabbit hole of Internet comment boards. A negative or critical comment sparks a firestorm of debate until the discussion erodes into a cavalcade of insults and personal attacks. Once you finally snap back to reality, you realize you’ve often strayed so far from the original story that it’s often difficult to find your way back.”

Death, heaven, resurrection, the intermediate state & transformation: NT Wright on the Intermediate State

“Going to heaven when you die’ is not held out in the New Testament as the main goal. The main goal is to be bodily raised into the transformed, glorious likeness of Jesus Christ.”

Deception, government, money, poor & wealthy: Interests of the Wealthy Elite and Myth of Government “Inefficiency”

“What is very much a biblical concern is that ‘the powerful dictate what they desire; thus they pervert justice’ (Micah 7:2-3). A government that deserves the support of people of faith is one that stands with the weak against the strong. Those responsible for governing who fail to do this are the very ones ‘who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right’ (Isaiah 10:1). The rich who use government to their own advantage also promote distrust of government that serves the broader legitimate interests of the population.

“It is to the advantage of the power and wealth elite to convince others that the government is wasteful, ineffective and untrustworthy. The mighty moneyed elite have pressed this message incessantly for decades. They have successfully mobilized their media and advertising power to shape the perceptions of many to the advantage of the few. And the push toward privatization has filled their pockets to overflowing.”

Education: Education Statistics: High School Diploma or Higher, by Percentage (Most Recent) by State [Texas comes in dead last]

“Percentage of population over 25 years old with a high school degree or higher.”

Jaffa: Tabitha’s (Dorcas) resurrection thru Peter

 

Jaffa-Joppa-Yafo-St-Peters-Church-tower

Posting continues here of one photo per day from my recent trip to Israel. My intent is to do so (with rare, brief intermissions) for the next several months. Read the text along with each day’s pic and by the end of this posting series you’ll have taken a bit of a trip to Israel yourself! The postings will generally follow the order of the trip’s actual itinerary.

If you’re familiar with the Bible, you likely recall the account of Peter raising Tabitha [aka: Dorcas] from the dead (Acts 9.36-42). What you might not recall is that this happened in Joffa (Joppa; Yofa) and what you might not know is that the traditional location of this happening is where St. Peter’s Church now stands in Jaffa.

LIFE group guide: the forgotten verse

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow night (April 14). This guide will enable your follow-up in our LIFE groups of my sermon tomorrow morning from Philippians 3.8-11: The Forgotten Verse. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below are from the CEB.

Aim

To examine familiar Scripture more closely, so as to correct common misunderstandings.

Word

… I consider everything a loss in comparison with the superior value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have lost everything for him, but what I lost I think of as sewer trash, so that I might gain Christ and be found in him. In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith. The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3.8b-11)

Open

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

1. Complete this sentence: “If someone went through my garbage bags each week, they’d likely be surprised as to just how much ________ I throw away.”

2. Tell us about one of your great “glory” moments in life, or, if you prefer, one of your experiences of profound “humiliation.” Be silly or serious, either one.

3. Tell us of some “good trade” you’ve made in life; a time you truly “traded up.”

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Compare different English translations of the phrase “sewer trash” (vs. 8). What other renderings do you find used?

2. What is a Christian’s righteousness, or if you please, where does it come from?

3. What does it mean to experience the power of Christ’s resurrection (vs. 10)?

4. What does it mean to participate in Christ’s sufferings (vs. 10)?

5. From this text, make a list of everything Paul experiences, or wants to experience, in Christ (vs. 8-11).

Reflect

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

1. What has following Christ cost you, that upon looking back, you’re glad you lost?

2. What does it mean to you to know that as a Christian, your righteousness is not really your own, but that of another, given to you?

3. Paul said he had a righteousness “that does not come from the Law” (vs. 9). In what ways have you attempted (or seen other Christians attempt) to “get your righteousness” from sources other than Christ himself?

4. Do you face anything that tempts you on a continual basis to renounce the superior value of Christ? That is, is there anything you sense tugging at you all the time to leave Christ and live life with it, and without him?

5. You’re talking with someone who is yet to believe and they say to you: “I often hear Christians talk about ‘knowing God’ or ‘knowing Christ.’ What does it mean to ‘know Jesus?’” How would you reply?

6. What consistently underscores in your mind the superior value of knowing Christ?

LIFE group guide: because he’s risen …

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow night (March 31). This guide will enable your follow-up in our LIFE groups of my sermon tomorrow morning: Because He’s Risen … Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below are from the CEB.

Aim

To ponder some of the implications for our life of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Word

• Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11.25-26)

• We proclaim to you the good news. What God promised to our ancestors, he has fulfilled for us … by raising up Jesus. … Therefore, brothers and sisters, know this: Through Jesus we proclaim forgiveness of sins to you. … through Jesus everyone who believes is put in right relationship with God. (Acts 14.32-33a,38a,39)

• Since we believe that Jesus died and rose, so we also believe that God will bring with him those who have died in Jesus. What we are saying is a message from the Lord: we who are alive and still around at the Lord’s coming definitely won’t go ahead of those who have died. This is because the Lord himself will come down from heaven with the signal of a shout by the head angel and a blast on God’s trumpet. First, those who are dead in Christ will rise. Then, we who are living and still around will be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet with the Lord in the air. That way we will always be with the Lord. So encourage each other with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4.13-18)

• May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! On account of his vast mercy, he has given us new birth. You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. You have a pure and enduring inheritance that cannot perish—an inheritance that is presently kept safe in heaven for you. Through his faithfulness, you are guarded by God’s power so that you can receive the salvation he is ready to reveal in the last time. … You are being made into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1.3-5; 2.5)

Open

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

1. What was Easter Sunday like for you when you were small? How was it spent?

2. What is one of the most difficult things you’ve come to believe in, or about, life?

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1.  Imagine the four texts above are meant to answer questions. What are the questions?

2. List the specific benefits named in the preceding texts due to Christ’s resurrection.

Reflect

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

1. When you think of Christ being resurrected, what first comes to your mind? Why?

2. Most people believe God is. So why is it hard to think he raised one from the dead?

3. What’s a question you continue to have related to the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

4. To you, what is the most persuasive evidence that Jesus is truly risen from the dead?

5. When does his resurrection have the greatest impact: now or in the future? Why?