Feb 16, 2020
Ephesians 1:17-20, 3:16-20 “Holy Spirit Power”
Each week, as we leave our corporate worship, we claim and remember that we go in and with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father, and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.  Last week we talked about what we mean when we think about the “presence” of the Holy Spirit, God literally living in us as our Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, and Teacher. Today, then, we turn our focus on the Holy Spirit towards His power.  There is a wide array of concepts and thoughts that come to mind when we talk about the Holy Spirit’s power.  We may range from a sort of Star Wars “force” type concept to images of Pentecostal worship services, from speaking in tongues to cessationist views that none of this exists anymore.  Scripture has much to say on this subject, bringing clarity on living each day in the power of the Holy Spirit. Questions to take home:
  1. What are some of your initial thoughts about the “power” of the Holy Spirit?  How were those notions confirmed or challenged by the Scripture passages in today’s message?  In what ways will this lead to a greater awareness of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life?
  2. Read Galatians 5:13-26.  What does this passage have to say about living in the power of the Holy Spirit?  What is your gut reaction to this passage as part of a conversation about the Holy Spirit’s power?  How do you feel this passage is speaking to you today?
  3. Read 1 Corinthians 2. What does this passage have to say about the power of the Holy Spirit in Paul’s life and ministry?  Reading this, how would you expect to see the Holy Spirit’s work in your own life and faith journey?

    The Power to...

    Believe - 1 Thessalonians 1:4 Hope - Ephesians 1:17-20; Romans 15:13 Trust - John 16:7 Peace - Romans 8:6 Live - Romans 8:9-13 Obey - Galatians 5:16-26 Know the Love of God - Ephesians 3:16-20 Understand Scripture - Luke 24:45-49 Witness - Luke 12:12, Romans 15:17-21
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  • Feb 16, 2020Ephesians 1:17-20, 3:16-20 “Holy Spirit Power”
    Feb 16, 2020
    Ephesians 1:17-20, 3:16-20 “Holy Spirit Power”
    Each week, as we leave our corporate worship, we claim and remember that we go in and with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father, and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.  Last week we talked about what we mean when we think about the “presence” of the Holy Spirit, God literally living in us as our Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, and Teacher. Today, then, we turn our focus on the Holy Spirit towards His power.  There is a wide array of concepts and thoughts that come to mind when we talk about the Holy Spirit’s power.  We may range from a sort of Star Wars “force” type concept to images of Pentecostal worship services, from speaking in tongues to cessationist views that none of this exists anymore.  Scripture has much to say on this subject, bringing clarity on living each day in the power of the Holy Spirit. Questions to take home:
    1. What are some of your initial thoughts about the “power” of the Holy Spirit?  How were those notions confirmed or challenged by the Scripture passages in today’s message?  In what ways will this lead to a greater awareness of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life?
    2. Read Galatians 5:13-26.  What does this passage have to say about living in the power of the Holy Spirit?  What is your gut reaction to this passage as part of a conversation about the Holy Spirit’s power?  How do you feel this passage is speaking to you today?
    3. Read 1 Corinthians 2. What does this passage have to say about the power of the Holy Spirit in Paul’s life and ministry?  Reading this, how would you expect to see the Holy Spirit’s work in your own life and faith journey?

      The Power to...

      Believe - 1 Thessalonians 1:4 Hope - Ephesians 1:17-20; Romans 15:13 Trust - John 16:7 Peace - Romans 8:6 Live - Romans 8:9-13 Obey - Galatians 5:16-26 Know the Love of God - Ephesians 3:16-20 Understand Scripture - Luke 24:45-49 Witness - Luke 12:12, Romans 15:17-21
  • Feb 9, 2020John 16:1-15 “The Advocate”
    Feb 9, 2020
    John 16:1-15 “The Advocate”
    When someone mentions the “Holy Spirit,” you probably have a preconceived notion of what, or who you understand the Spirit to be. Some people get really excited talking about the Holy Spirit, while others shy away, avoid, or even get suspicious about anything having to do with Him. We know a lot about God the Father, we are familiar with Jesus, God’s Son, but the Holy Spirit remains somewhat of a mystery to us. So what, or more appropriately, who is the Holy Spirit and do the things we ‘know’ about Him line up with what Scripture reveals? What is His role and how does He work in our lives? Do we need anything special to receive Him? We begin our exploration of the Person of the Holy Spirit in John 14 and 16 today as Jesus teaches His followers about the Spirit’s coming when He was gone.

    Questions to take home:

    1. How do you feel when someone talks about the Holy Spirit? Are your feelings positive or negative? Do you think those feelings have been shaped more by Scripture, experience, or tradition? What things might you need to let go of in this sermon series?
    2. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “the Advocate”. An advocate is someone who supports a person or cause. What do you think that this means for us? How does the Holy Spirit serve as our Advocate?
    3. Living a “Spirit-filled” life means more than just being a nice person. How do we try to live “Spirit-filled” in our own strength? Galatians 5:16-25 is one description of what it means to “walk by the Spirit”. Can you think of others? How might things need to be adjusted in your life to be more aligned with what Scripture says here?

    Scripture Passages References for names of the Holy Spirit:

    • Deposit, THE guarantee of our Inheritance - Ephesians 1:13-14
    • The Seal - 2 Corinthians 1:22
    • Advocate - John 14:26; 
    • Truth Testifier - 1 John 5:6
    • Truth Guide - John 16:13
    • The Helper - John 14:16-17, 15:26
    • Comforter - John 14:26
    • Teacher - 1 John 2:27
    • Knows the mind of God - 1 Corinthians 2:10-13
    • Intercessor - Romans 8:26-27 (more on this in a few weeks)
    • Convictor of sins - John 16:8-11
    • Sanctifier - Romans 15:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11
    • Glorifies Jesus: John 16:14
  • Feb 2, 2020Genesis 1:1-2; John 1:1-4 “Trinity Mystery”
    Feb 2, 2020
    Genesis 1:1-2; John 1:1-4 “Trinity Mystery”
    During the month of February, we are going to spend time focusing on the person of the Holy Spirit.  To do that well, however, we need to begin talking about the reality of our Triune God. One of the most important and most mysterious doctrines of the Christian Faith is that of the Trinity, that God exists as one God in three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While Scripture never explicitly uses the terms “trinity” or “triune,” there can be no doubt about the clarity of its teaching on the subject.  Yet But apart from gaining greater clarity on the nature of God’s existence, we may find ourselves asking why this is important, how it impacts us, and why, if it so important, is it still such a mystery to us. Questions to take home:
    1. Take a moment and go to “www.hopkinscommunitychurch.net/what-we-believe” and read the Athanasian Creed.  This creed is all about the Trinity. What things in there surprised you? What helped you? How does that help you gain clarity on this subject?
    2. How does it make you feel that the Bible never uses the word “trinity” to talk about God?  How does it make you feel that there is nothing in creation that can adequately describe or depict God’s triune existence?  How do you feel about this mystery?
    3. Ultimately our focus is turning to the Holy Spirit.  How familiar are you in your understanding of the Holy Spirit?  How does it make you feel that God has indwelled us with His Spirit?  Does it make you want to explore Him more? Spend some time praying that God will reveal Himself and His Spirit to you and to HCC in this next month.
  • Jan 26, 2020John 15:1-17 “Clear Vision: Where Are We Going?”
    Jan 26, 2020
    John 15:1-17 “Clear Vision: Where Are We Going?”
    There is a wide variety of words that we use to talk about the direction of our lives.  Sometimes we talk about it in terms of Vision and Mission; oftentimes Christians use the term “calling.”  We ask ourselves questions like “where am I supposed to go” or “what am I supposed to do.” These are, too often, life questions that we feel will affect our destiny and, if we’re not careful, possibly throw us out of God’s will for us. Scripture gives us the answers to these seemingly big questions with Jesus’ simple statement: “follow me.”  Elaborating on what this looks like, Jesus talks about the relationship believers are called to and abiding in Him.  Doing so, He says, will empower us to bear fruit, which is what we are called, by God, to do. Perhaps it is time for us to ask ourselves: “Who am I following?” Questions to take home:
    1. Reread John 15:1-17.  How does Jesus talk about “calling” in this passage?  What does He tell His followers to do? What are those actions meant to produce?  How does this impact how you think about and live the life of faith?
    2. At the beginning of this month, we witnessed several baptisms.  We were reminded of Jesus’ word in Matthew 28:18-20 to “go and make disciples.”  How is this passage informed by our Scripture passages from today?
    3. Today we are ordaining and installing Elders and Deacons.  Ordination is an acknowledgment of a specific calling, being “set apart” for a specific task.  Think about some of the Scripture passages we read today. How do they speak to this “calling” placed on their lives?  In what ways can we do our best to support and spur on our Elders and Deacons?
  • Jan 19, 2020Psalm 139 “Clear Vision: Where We Are”
    Jan 19, 2020
    Psalm 139 “Clear Vision: Where We Are”
    Our hope is that every person and family would accept this challenge as part of our commitment to the larger Kingdom initiative of our church and our classis.  We believe that developing a clear understanding of where we are will help individuals and families to gain traction and begin moving forward toward a deeper relationship with Jesus and gaining Momentum toward greater Kingdom impact in the community around us.

    HOW to calculate your Momentum Number?

    The Momentum number is calculated on a scale of 1 to 100. The larger scale provides a fuller range of responses than just a simple 1-10. For example:
    • 1 would be an extremely low score - no activity
    • 50 would be a middle range score - some activity - not a main focus 
    • 100 is an exceptional score - tremendous activity - high priority - extreme area of focus
    Because this is subjective - you will have to determine the number on your own or as a family.
    Here are some self-reflective questions for you to honestly ask of yourself and your family in order to self-determine your/their own MOMENTUM number:  Love (deep relationship, genuine care) On a scale of 1 to 100, how is the level of deep care, love, and community in your/your family’s life? Do you/your family practice the “one anothers” of scripture? Do people just recognize each other, or do they deeply care for one another? Jesus said his followers would be known by their love. How evident is that at your life/your family’s life? Scripture: Matthew 22:37-39; John 13:34-35; Galatians 5:22-23 Prayer (people knowing and caring for one another) On a scale of 1 to 100, how is the intensity, frequency, and priority of prayer in your life or the life of your family?  Is prayer a daily, constant, and/or consistent practice?  Do you pray for those in your family and do they pray for you?  Do you share and follow up on prayer requests, celebrating the work of God in other’s lives? Scripture: Matthew 6:9-13; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2 Evangelism (telling your story, sharing Jesus with others) On a scale of 1 to 100, how are you/your family doing at talking about their faith, actively attempting to share Christ with others, intentionally including Christ in your interactions with non-Christians in your life? Have you seen fruit (is there clear evidence) that people are exploring faith because of the way you/your family live, act, and speak?  Are you/your family active in serving those outside the church? Scripture: Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; Romans 1:16; 1 Peter 3:15 Discipleship (growing deeper in faith, committing to faith in community) On a scale of 1 to 100, are you/your family noticeably going after “discipleship” level growth (this is NOT just showing up to church!)? Do you/your family spend time reading the Bible, identifying and sharing ways that God is at work in you/your family’s life, and referring to themselves as disciples? Do you/your family have a growing head knowledge AND heart commitment AND a faith-in-action lifestyle? Would you/your family describe themselves as being in a strong season of spiritual growth? Scripture: Matthew 28:18-20; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Generosity/Stewardship (sharing of time, talent, and treasure to honor Christ and in service of those around you) On a scale of 1 to 100, are you/your family growing in an OUTWARD focused attitude?  Does your/your family’s attitude toward giving reflect the Biblical encouragement toward joy and generosity?  Do you live from a sense of scarcity or a sense of abundance? You can see it in the ‘serving’ they are doing inside and outside of your church. You can see it through commitment to tithing and through money given for special causes. You can feel it, as your church is actively pouring OUT. Scripture: Micah 3:10; Matthew 22:21; Luke 21:1-4; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Relational / Leadership Development On a scale of 1 to 100, are you/your family intentionally seeking out relationships to pour into, encourage, and strengthen?  Do you/your family have relationships that are intentionally pouring into, encouraging, and strengthening you?  Have or are you/your family seeking out ways to serve, learn, and take responsibility for ministries in your church?  How does your family encourage the children to learn and take responsibility for the various elements presented on this list? Scripture: Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:24-25; Romans 12:3-5 Sense of Unified Velocity (This isn’t just ‘amount of activity’ or ‘fast activity’ - it’s speed on purpose) Are you/your family aligned with God’s calling for you? Do you/your family have a vision or mission statement?  Are all the events and things in your life clearly going in that direction? Do they serve to advance the mission of your family?  Can people ‘feel it’ gaining velocity? Do parents talk about the direction of the family? Are there goals that you/your family are working toward?  Do your best to assign a number between 1 and 100 that captures your sense of Velocity as a church. Scripture: Psalm 32:8; Proverbs 29:18 Jeremiah 29:11; Isaiah 58:11 Priorities & Statistical Factors:    Look closely at all the statistics that represent you/your family’s priorities comparing them to what you know about the transformed life God calls you to in Scripture:  Time spent with children, family, spouse, friends, God.  Time spent in leisure/recreation, chores & duties, extras, etc.  Giving percentage of income (tithing).  Time spent working vs. resting (sabbath).  Think of these (and other things) in terms of what you desire and what God calls you to vs. what is reality for you.  Do they match up? Example:  
    • >50 if almost all the statistical data is trending in the wrong direction
    • 50-75 might be assigned if there is mixed statistical information
    • <75 if all (or almost all) of the statistical information is moving up.
    Scripture: Mark 2:27; John 17:15-17; 1 John 2:15-17; Ephesians 5:21-6:9
     
    HOW to calculate your Momentum Number   Momentum Factor: Love     (1-100)                                                           ____________ Prayer  (1-100)                                                           ____________ Evangelism (1-100)                                                    ____________ Discipleship (1-100)                                                   ____________ Generosity / Stewardship (1-100)                             ____________ Relational / Leadership Development (1-100)          ____________ Sense of Unified Velocity (1-100)                              ____________ Priorities / Statistical Factors (1-100)                       ____________   Total of All Factors =                                     ____________  (divided by 8) This year’s Momentum Number   =      ___________   What to do with the results? We believe the very process of asking these ministry specific questions will catalytically create stronger spiritual reflection, discussion, and prayer in your own walk with Jesus and within your family. We encourage everyone to share their final Momentum number with their spouse, family, and/or a close friend or accountability partner where appropriate.  Pray over this process individually and as a family, or with the person/people you shared this with and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal places when God is calling you to greater obedience and movement in your journey of faith. Save this worksheet somewhere.  We will return to this same thing in January of 2021 to both evaluate and celebrate what how God is moving in our lives!
  • Jan 5, 20202 Timothy 3:10-17 “Biblical Lenses: Seeing Clearing through Scripture”
    Jan 5, 2020
    2 Timothy 3:10-17 “Biblical Lenses: Seeing Clearing through Scripture”
    As we begin a new year and a new decade, we are embarking on a new series that will take place over the course of 2020.  This series is called “2020 Vision: Clarity on what Matters.” Over the course of this coming year, we will be looking at a wide variety of topics and zeroing in on what Scripture says about them, gaining clarity as to how God calls us to live out our faith. Scripture is the first and primary source that we turn to as we seek out the truth.  It is the Word of God and, as it says, is useful for teaching, rebuking, and training in righteousness.  As we begin this new year and this new series, we lay the groundwork for study, putting on our “spiritual glasses” so that we can see the world as God calls us to see it, through the lens of His Word. Questions to take home:
    1. What do you think of when we say that the Bible is “The Word of God”?  Where do you place it on a level of importance in your life? How does this phrase impact how you read the Bible?
    2. Re-read our Scripture passages for today.  What does the Bible say that we should be doing with it?  What are some of it’s uses? How do these passages impact your approach to Scripture and interaction with it?
    3. How would you define the word “truth”?  Do you think that truth is unchanging (static) or variable (fluid)?  Read these passages in John: 14:6, 8:32, 17:17, 16:13, 1:14 &17, 18:37.  How does this impact how you think about truth?
  • Dec 22, 2019Luke 2:8-12; John 1:14; 3:16; Luke 4:16-20; Matthew 25:31-46 “Love All”
    Dec 22, 2019
    Luke 2:8-12; John 1:14; 3:16; Luke 4:16-20; Matthew 25:31-46 “Love All”
    The angel declares to the shepherds, “unto you is born this day…” as they deliver the good news of Jesus’ birth.  Often, I think, we take the *you* of that very literally, remembering and celebrating that Jesus indeed came for us, His people.  Culture only serves to emphasize this reality, encouraging it with self-centered materialism and commercialism. Yet, the very fact that Jesus’ birth is announced to shepherds, the lowest of the low in society reminds us that Jesus came for “them” as well.  Looking further into Jesus’ life and ministry, we see very clearly that those we often forget, the least, last and lost of the world, the “them” people in our lives, are exactly who Jesus came to save.  After all, to God, we were on the outside at one point as well. We run the risk of uncoupling the bigger picture of God’s salvation plan for the world when we forget the true nature and meaning of Christmas and the Incarnation. Questions to take home:
    1. What are, or have been, some of your favorite ways to celebrate Christmas?  Who do they involve and what makes them special for you? Of these memories, how many involve people outside your normal family, friend, work, or church circles?
    2. Think about the contrast of people who were a part of the Christmas narrative.  What differences do you see here? How do these differences inform how we think about the “big picture” of Christmas and Jesus’ mission in the world?
    3. In your life, who are the “outsiders” that you find yourself associating with normally?  How could your Christmas celebrations or reflections include them? How can you follow Christ in His mission to bring “Good News of great joy for all people”?
  • Dec 15, 2019John 1:1-17; 3:16 “Give More”
    Dec 15, 2019
    John 1:1-17; 3:16 “Give More”
    One of the greatest stressors during the Christmas season is what (and how much) to give to other people.  Whether it is your kids, your parents, or the obligatory gifts to extended relatives that we barely have a relationship with, knowing what to get them can be daunting.  Sometimes, this task is so overwhelming that we simply shut down, defaulting to a meaningless (and often disposable) gift, given out of duty rather than in love. In the Advent season, we should look to the coming of Jesus as the center of our celebration.  Jesus’ own teachings, then, to follow His example ought to be what informs our giving. If we give gifts at Christmas because God “gave us the greatest gift of all,” what lessons can we learn by looking to His example.  God’s giving of Himself, the Incarnation of Jesus, wasn’t an act of obligation, it was a movement of love that should be the prime example for us to follow in our lives. Questions to take home:
    1. What is one of the best gifts you ever received?  What is one of the best gifts you ever gave? What was it that made those gifts so great?  How can your giving this season reflect that to others?
    2. How would you define the word “Incarnation”?  What does that mean for the world and how can we use that as an example and directive for our giving around Christmas?
    3. Where do you see yourself defaulting to duty-bound or obligatory gift-giving this season?  How are you communicating about your relationship or God’s love in those moments? What is one way you could “Give More” to that person (those people) this year?
  • Dec 8, 2019Matthew 6:19-24 “Spend Less”
    Dec 8, 2019
    Matthew 6:19-24 “Spend Less”

    Advent is a season of anticipation and expectation, an invitation into excited preparation of the coming of Jesus.  These descriptions amount to more than simply waiting for the day to come, Advent is an invitation to an intentional posture in our lives.  When we anticipate and expect something, we purposefully prepare for the encounter that is to come.

    Worshiping fully, keeping Jesus at the center of our Advent and Christmas focus then assumes that the other things with which fill our lives in this season will be secondary at least.  As we consider this, we must naturally turn our gaze toward the role our money takes and the direction it goes as we Worship Fully in this “season of giving.”  

    Questions to take home:

     
    1. How does the story of Jesus’ coming into the world challenge our cultural practices surrounding Christmas?  What contrasts do you see in the Biblical narrative? Do you see any ways that you can be more intentional in your use of money this season?

    2. Think about Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55 and Jesus’ reading in Luke 4:18-19.  How do these words speak into the materialism and consumerism that we fight against during the Christmas season?

    3. Have you ever taken into consideration whether the values that you (and/or your family) hold to reflect the type of spending that you do, particularly around the holiday season?  Do the companies that you purchase from hold similar values? How does Scripture challenge you in this respect during this Advent season?

  • Dec 1, 2019Isaiah 9:2-7 “Worship Fully”
    Dec 1, 2019
    Isaiah 9:2-7 “Worship Fully”
    Advent Conspiracy was founded on the radical idea that we can celebrate Christmas humbly, beautifully, and generously. Advent is the story of a wondrous moment when God entered our world to make things right. It is the greatest story ever told and it changes everything—including the way we celebrate Christmas.
     
    All themed slides, icons, and sermon titles from https://adventconspiracy.org
  • Nov 24, 2019Romans 15:1-13 “Final Thoughts”
    Nov 24, 2019
    Romans 15:1-13 “Final Thoughts”
    Series: Romans
    At the end of every paper is a conclusion, returning to the original thesis to either reaffirm or amend the author’s original thoughts and purpose for writing.  Before Paul begins his parting words, a more personal part of the letter, he too returns to his original premise for writing: that Jesus is the Son of God, confirmed in His Resurrection, and is Lord over the whole world, both of Jews and Gentiles. From the very beginning, Paul has been adamant about this point: the Gospel is for the Gentiles as well.  Here, at the end of his letter, he also reminds us that God’s love for the Gentiles isn’t some surprising twist in Scriptural writings, but has actually been the point all along.  From the promises to Abraham to songs of the Psalms, to the messages of Isaiah, each one foretold and celebrated that God’s mercies were and are for all people who believe! Questions to take home:
    1. Read Romans 15:1-6 again. Paul reveals the ultimate purpose of our acceptance of others, particularly those who may exercise their faith in Christ differently.  What do you think is the purpose of “bearing with” others, even in their “weaknesses”?  
    2. Read Ephesians 4:1-6.  Here Paul talks more about this notion of “bearing with” others and of unity.  How does this passage add clarity to Romans 15:1-6? Are there places in your life that you are/aren’t doing this?  How is the Spirit convicting you regarding this?
    3. Read Isaiah 2:1-5 and Romans 1:1-6.  As Paul draws together his thoughts in Romans 15, how do you see these two passages speaking into Paul’s conclusion?  As we transition into the Advent season, how do Paul’s words give you hope and peace?
  • Nov 17, 2019Romans 14:13-23 “Strength and Weakness: Part 2”
    Nov 17, 2019
    Romans 14:13-23 “Strength and Weakness: Part 2”
    Series: Romans
  • Nov 10, 2019Romans 14:1-12 “Strength and Weakness”
    Nov 10, 2019
    Romans 14:1-12 “Strength and Weakness”
    Series: Romans
    In every church from the very beginning, there have been people that have been in different places in their faith walk.  Truth be told, in Jesus’ ministry, we see Him interacting with people that were all over the map with regards to their maturity and understanding of faith.  From Pharisees to the woman at the well to Mary Magdelene the reformed prostitute, Jesus provides an example of love, acceptance, and even challenge in these relationships. Paul, with this in mind, applies Jesus’ teaching and example in the shadow of his own teaching on the command to continual (Agape) love (Romans 13:8) in the way that we interact with each other.  Specifically, he talks about how believers should interact with each other. Paul speaks at length about “Christian freedom,” how that freedom is governed by the command to love is precisely what he addresses here. Questions to take home:
    1. What are the images of “strong” and “weak” faith that Paul sets up here?  How does he describe them? Does any of that surprise you? How does it impact how you think about your own faith journey?
    2. Paul uses the example of “sacred days” in the exercise of faith, referring specifically to Jewish high holidays and feasts.  What do you think he is really getting at here? What “disputable matters” do we find ourselves quarreling over and how can we learn from this?
    3. One of Paul’s main points here is that “we belong to the Lord.”  What do you think he means by this? How does that impact how you think about your life and faith?  How does it change how you view others, particularly other believers?
  • Nov 3, 2019Romans 13:8-14 “Wake-up Time!”
    Nov 3, 2019
    Romans 13:8-14 “Wake-up Time!”
    Series: Romans
    Everyone has a particular way that they like to fall asleep.  Whether it’s pulling all the blankets over your head, reading a good book, or falling asleep in your chair watching TV, each one of us goes through the various motions of turning our brains off as we drift off to dreamland.  But how do you know when you are asleep? Realistically, though, we aren’t aware of our unconsciousness until you wake up. This is the essence of what Paul has been and currently is saying in his letter to the Romans.  Being “conformed to the pattern of this world” is much like being asleep. It looks “normal” and feels “normal” to the point that we may not even be aware of it.  Paul’s words here are like an alarm clock, jarring us awake to the realities of what a life surrendered to Christ looks like. Christ’s resurrection brought about the “morning” of new life and this is no time to sleep in! Questions to take home:
    1. Paul writes, “Owe nothing to anyone…” at the beginning of this section.  This one verse has carried with it multiple interpretations from everyday finances to forgiveness.  What are some ways that you would interpret Romans 13:8?
    2. Read 1 John 4:7-12.  Love is a word that, in our cultural context, has been infused with many meanings.  How does the Scriptural definition of love (“Agape” Love), as it is shown in Jesus, impact the way you read and apply this Romans passage?
    3. The imagery of darkness (night) and light (day) is not unique to Romans.  Read Isaiah 9:2, John 1:4-5, John 8:12 and 1 John 1:5-7. What does it mean to walk in the light, as in the daytime?  How are you doing that well? Where is the Spirit convicting you here?
  • Oct 27, 2019Romans 13:1-7 “God and Government”
    Oct 27, 2019
    Romans 13:1-7 “God and Government”
    Series: Romans
    From the perspective that we have as citizens of the United States of America, hearing Paul’s words at the beginning of Romans 13 doesn’t strike us as being too out of place.  Despite some of the disfunction, our government could hardly be compared to some of the dictatorships or other corrupt, abusive governments that exist in the world today. We are blessed to live with such freedoms and protections as we have here. It is no secret, however, that even the best governments in the world deal with corruption and acts in ways that are clearly outside of God’s desires.  Paul was writing in the midst of a corrupt government structure, not just to encourage Christians, but also to remind governments where their authority comes from.  We submit to governing authorities with an eye on the one and only, true source of all authority in heaven and earth. Questions to take home:
    1. Paul uses the word “subject” or, in other translations “submit” verse 1.  What does this word mean? Another place that this word is readily used is Ephesians 5:21-6:10.  How would you define the word “submission”? What is it’s implications in your life?
    2. Reread Romans 12:17-19.  How are verses 3-5 informed by the latter part of Romans 12?  Paul speaks of God using governments and authority as part of His judgment and wrath against sin.  How do you feel about this? Does it make you see things any different?
    3. Why do you think Paul felt it important to include verses six and seven with regard to taxes?  Read Matthew 22:15-22. What does Jesus have to say about this? Why do you think this is an important part of how we live out our faith in Christ?