Jul 24, 2022
Genesis 33-34 “Jacob Returns to Canaan”
Series: Apologetics
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  • Jul 24, 2022Genesis 33-34 “Jacob Returns to Canaan”
    Jul 24, 2022
    Genesis 33-34 “Jacob Returns to Canaan”
    Series: Apologetics
  • Jul 17, 2022Genesis 28-31 “Jacob’s Family Grows”
    Jul 17, 2022
    Genesis 28-31 “Jacob’s Family Grows”
    Series: Apologetics
  • Jun 26, 2022Genesis 24 “A Bride for Isaac”
    Jun 26, 2022
    Genesis 24 “A Bride for Isaac”
    Series: Apologetics
  • Jun 12, 2022Genesis 22:1-19 “Abraham’s Test”
    Jun 12, 2022
    Genesis 22:1-19 “Abraham’s Test”
    Series: Apologetics
    Scripture Passages: Genesis 22:1-19; Hebrews 11:17-19 Message Title: Abraham’s Test Thoughts for Reflection: One of the great refrains of the past 2 years has been the desire to “get back to normal”.  People all over the world pushed hard for the return to in-person events, all of the things that we knew before the pandemic shut-downs.  COVID-19 shook everything to its foundation and, if we’re honest, we didn’t like the discomfort that it brought.  Humans are creatures of habit, so the saying goes, and we pined for balance and equilibrium, for the known and the comfortable. Genesis 21 ends with Abraham settling into ‘normal’ life, having Isaac and, for the first time, really seeing the promises of God coming to be in his family.  “Some time later”, the Bible says, all of that changed and Abraham found himself in the middle of a very extreme test from God.  The big question at hand: “Does Abraham love God more than the present/future blessings promised by God?”  Abraham once again mounts the Roller Coaster of life following God’s call in faith, trusting that God would provide, just as He always does. Questions to take home:
    1. The Hebrew word for ‘test’ literally means “to evaluate a quality by stretching it to its limits”.  Have you ever felt like you were going through a test in your life?  What happened?  How did you respond?  What did God teach you through it?
    2. Can you imagine how Abraham must have felt on this three day journey to the place where he thought he would have to kill his son?  Read John 3:16 in this context.  Can you imagine how God must have felt, sending His Son knowing that He would suffer and die?
    3. Read John 21:15.  What is Jesus telling Peter to do here?  How does it relate to this narrative of Abraham’s test?  Read Matthew 28:18-20.  What is Jesus telling His disciples, followers, and us to do here?  How does it relate to this narrative of Abraham’s test?
  • May 15, 2022Genesis 13-14 “Abram & Lot”
    May 15, 2022
    Genesis 13-14 “Abram & Lot”
    Series: Apologetics
    Thoughts for Reflection:
    The first section of the book of Genesis chronicles God’s perfect creation of the universe and its subsequent spiral downward following the fall of humanity. Sin’s presence expands ever-outward, eventually infecting and affecting every aspect of the world and the results are disastrous. Yet, even in the midst of it, God is working out His plan of salvation and redemption, the fulfillment of the promise that He made in the Garden to Eve that her offspring would crush the serpent's head.
     
    When God calls Abram, it marks the beginning of a new movement of God in His redemptive plan. He will use a family and eventually a whole people/nation to eventually bring about His Messiah. Abram responds in obedience and worship, packing up his family and moving to Canaan. That, however, is not the end of Abram. As the “CALLED ONE”, God has chosen Abram to be the fulfillment of His redemptive plan, and now we follow Abram’s life as he tries, in obedience, to choose to trust and follow God.
     
    Questions to take home:
    1. Read Genesis 12:10-13:18. Contrast the way that Abram acts in Egypt to how he interacts with Lot. What is different? What are the effects of these decisions on Abram and on the people around him?
    2. Lot chooses a land that looks physically good but is woefully full of sin and the impact of that choice is seen for many chapters to come. What are some ways that we are faced with similar choices (benefits at the expense of morals, truths, etc.) in our lives, work, families, education, entertainment, etc. today?
    3. Consider Abram’s response to the victory that he has over the kings that took Lot and plundered the cities where he was living. How does this contrast to the decisions in question 1? How does it show Abram’s priorities and obedience? What can we learn from this?
  • Apr 24, 2022Romans 10 “How Can They Believe If They Have Not Heard?”
    Apr 24, 2022
    Romans 10 “How Can They Believe If They Have Not Heard?”
  • Apr 17, 20221 Corinthians 15:1-8 “Easter: Did it Happen? Does it Matter?”
    Apr 17, 2022
    1 Corinthians 15:1-8 “Easter: Did it Happen? Does it Matter?”
    Series: Apologetics
    Thoughts for Reflection:
    Easter is, without a doubt, the most important day of the Christian year and it marks the most important event in all of history. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross was a once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, effective for those who believe in Him and confess Him as their Lord and Savior. It is the Resurrection of Jesus, though, that confirms who Jesus, God’s one and only Son, our Savior, and confirms that His Sacrifice is worthy in God’s sight.
     
    The natural question that we all face though is fairly obvious: “Did it actually happen?” It isn’t everyday that we see people coming back from the dead… in fact it pretty much isn’t any day that we see that happening. So we are forced to grapple with this question and seek evidence for its happening. As Scripture says, “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” “But,” Scripture follows, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead!” Scripture says it, people testify to it, and history confirms it. Christ is RISEN!
     
    Questions to take home:
    1. Have you ever been presented with the question of whether Jesus Christ actually came back from the dead? Think about that for a minute. What would you say to someone who is questioning that?
    2. Read John 3:16-17. What does this say about Jesus’ mission in the world? How is this passage affirmed and confirmed by Jesus’ death? Why, then, is the Resurrection of Jesus so important?
    3. John 20:30-31 says that all of these things are written down so that you may believe. Romans 10:9-13 tell us what we need to do to be saved. If you were to die today and stand before God and He asked you “why should I let you into my heaven?”, what would your answer be? If you have questions or are unsure about how to answer this question, any of our Pastors or Elders would love to talk to you about it!
  • Apr 10, 2022Genesis 11:1-9 “Confusion: Dispersion at Babel”
    Apr 10, 2022
    Genesis 11:1-9 “Confusion: Dispersion at Babel”
    Series: Apologetics
    Thoughts for Reflection:
    Genesis 11 marks the end of the first section of the opening book of the Bible chronicling humanity’s spiral downward from paradise into a world filled with sin. The Tower of Babel is the final corruption is a series that has taken us from the effects of sin in individuals to family, leaders to society, and now finally even to religious practices. Even after the flood, sin’s presence and corrupting influence is like a metastatic cancer in the world leaving nothing uninfected.
     
    The story of Babel seems very distant from our contemporary context. Towering structures are a fact of life; fame and notoriety are things easily followed from anywhere in the world. We look at them and are quick to judge. Yet the sin of Babel is all too familiar. Pride and presumption are just as easy to fall to today as they were 4,000 years ago. Worse though, can be the religious and idolatrous notions of seeking to reduce and control God or, worse yet, to make a god of ourselves.
     
    Questions to take home:
    1. What do you think about when you hear the story of the Tower of Babel? Why do you think God took such a great interest in this work of humans? Why was their work so bad?
    2. Why do you think God chose the judgment that He did? What was it’s purpose? Do you think the judgment fits the crime?
    3. How do we participate in our own modern day “Babels”? What are some things in our lives that could act like the tower of Babel in our world? What might our response be to those things?
  • Mar 20, 2022Genesis 6-9 “The Worldwide Flood”
    Mar 20, 2022
    Genesis 6-9 “The Worldwide Flood”
    Series: Apologetics
    Thoughts for Reflection:
     
    Almost every culture in the world has, in their history, a story or myth about a worldwide flooding event. Many of them are very similar in nature, though the characters and severity do differ in a variety of ways. Yet, despite this near worldwide agreement of ancient tradition, the story of Noah’s flood has been met with more criticism than most others in the Bible. In fact, nearly 50% of Millennials think that Noah’s Ark is only a myth and did not actually happen. Sadly, this may be due, in large part, to the way we present and portray both the Ark and the Flood in silly drawings, toys, and fairytale-type stories.
     
    In our Apologetic study of the Bible, we have proceeded on the premise that the Bible is the Absolute Truth of God, the foundation for our faith and life. How then could we approach it as anything but the Truth? And if it is true, could it be possible that there is evidence to support it? The answer is, YES! More important, though, than this question, is what the story of Noah, the Flood, and God’s Goodness points us to as we consider its relationship to God’s greater work of Salvation through Jesus Christ.
     
    Questions to take home:
    • One of the questions that is commonly asked of the flood narrative is whether it was a local flood or a global flood event. Which one do you think it is? Why do you think that? As you read Genesis 6 and 7, what does the Bible say about the flood that God sent?
    • What does the flood teach us about the character of God? How does it better help us to understand the character of God?
    • The Ark is a beautiful picture of God’s grace, mercy, and salvation. How does the story of Noah’s Ark mirror the greater narrative of salvation history throughout the Bible?
  • Mar 6, 2022Genesis 6:5-22 “Catastrophe: The Flood”
    Mar 6, 2022
    Genesis 6:5-22 “Catastrophe: The Flood”
    Series: Apologetics
    Thoughts for Reflection:
     
    The story of Noah’s Ark is one that even those who have never stepped foot in the church have heard at least once in their lives. It is so familiar and yet rather… obscure. We know the details like a big wooden boat, animals coming two by two, and the rainbow at the end. But as we begin to look at the details of the story, we are plagued with questions and confusion about God’s character, judgment, and the reality of sin in the world.
     
    As we begin to look at the flood narrative, something we will be doing for the next month, we start by looking at the conditions and context in which this story takes place. We will also see the effect it has on God. Like a parent watching a child make a bad choice, so too is God grieved by the situation and moved to take action against the proliferation of sin in humanity and in the world. All of this, however, is seen in the greater story of redemptive history, pointing to the greater work to bring restoration to His once perfect creation.
     
    Questions to take home:
    • The story of Noah and the Flood runs parallel with the Story of creation. What connections do you see between these two narratives? Why do you think those connections are there and what do they communicate?
    • How do you understand God’s justice and mercy in this story? Do God’s actions seem justified given the amount of sin that the Bible says was present at that time? What new things about God have you learned from this?
    • Where do you see hints and foreshadowing of God’s redemptive work in this story? How do the contrasts between Noah and the people of His time speak to us? How has God called us to live within/among the worldliness of our day and age?
  • Feb 27, 2022Genesis 6:1-5; Romans 5:12-21 “The Hearts of Mankind”
    Feb 27, 2022
    Genesis 6:1-5; Romans 5:12-21 “The Hearts of Mankind”
    Series: Apologetics
    Thoughts for Reflection: The early chapters in Genesis document the creation, fall, and expansion of humanity on the earth. Along with the increase of the human population comes a marked increase of sin as well. From individuals, to family, and ultimately into the early society that existed, sin’s presence is everywhere and its effects are universally evident. Even as I write these words on Thursday, the evidence of sin in the world is seen all around us and will be seen even more in the days to come as countries are subject to violence and war. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul points out that sin is a reality, not just that we deal with, but that we are born into. Sin has been passed down from person to person from the time of Adam and Eve. It is an almost inescapable bondage against which we have but one Hope for freedom: Jesus Christ. His love for us, His sacrifice for sin, and the Grace of God the Father provide the Way to true freedom: Salvation by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Questions to take home: Read Psalm 51:5-6. Taking into consideration Romans 5:12-21, how would you describe your understanding of “original sin”? How does the world try to blind us to this truth? Read 1 Corinthians 15. Verses 21-22 make a connection between Jesus, Adam, and the condemnation of sin. How do these verses relate to the Romans 5 passage from today? How would you explain this connection to a non-believer? What are some of your go-to verses to remind you of hope in Jesus Christ? How do they speak to the presence of sin in our lives and in the world around us?
  • Feb 20, 2022Genesis 4:1-16 “Cain and Abel”
    Feb 20, 2022
    Genesis 4:1-16 “Cain and Abel”
    Series: Apologetics
    Thoughts for Reflection: Have you ever gone to a dinner party or gathering where you’re asked to bring a ‘dish to pass’? You put all sorts of time and effort into making something special and when you set your dish on the table, you see it: a bag of chips. Someone just brought a bag of chips; they didn’t even bother to put it in a bowl. There are a number of different feelings that this could conjure up from judgment to jealousy. None of these feelings, however, lead to a better enjoyment of your fellowship. Genesis 4 continues the story of the effects of sin in the world. The banishment of Adam & Eve from the Garden of Eden is not the end, but the beginning. It is the beginning of the spread of sin into the world with all of its chaotic, destructive, painful consequences. But it is also the continuation of God’s story of relationship, rescue, redemption and restoration, the revelation of God’s consistent wrath and judgment against sin as well as His continuing mercy and grace for His people despite their constant penchant for rebellion. Questions to take home: While sin shatters the Image of God in humanity, the roles and purposes that God gives Adam and Eve (and thus all humans) are not rescinded. How do we see these roles continuing in Genesis 4? How does that speak to our continued roles as Stewards of God’s creation today? Read Psalm 40, focus on verses 6-8. What is the main difference between the offerings of Cain and Abel? What do we learn from this narrative about our attitude and the orientation of our lives before God? Read James 1:13-15. How does sin’s pattern found here compare to what we see in Genesis 4? How does it help us understand our own patterns of sin and rebellion against God? Bonus Question: Read Romans 5:12-14. How would you describe “original sin”?
  • Feb 6, 2022Genesis 3:1-9 “Corruption: Sin Enters the World”
    Feb 6, 2022
    Genesis 3:1-9 “Corruption: Sin Enters the World”
    Series: Apologetics
    Thoughts for Reflection: The Garden of Eden is universally known as a metaphor for ‘paradise’. We can take the most idyllic settings that we can picture and start to get a small sense of the setting that God placed the first man and woman into. Genesis 1 and 2 give us an image of the ordering and proposing that God has done in the universe and in the lives of the first humans. Adam and Eve were given a mandate from God to be fulfilled, a picture of what it looks like to be stewards of God’s creation. One thing that doesn’t show up in the initial creation narrative, though, is the freedom that God gives the first humans. God doesn’t create them as automatons that do His bidding without question, He creates people with whom He desires relationship. In the same way, that Sabbath rest cannot be mandated, neither can a relationship be mandated. God creates humans out of His great love with the desire that they love Him back. Jesus shows us the way that we show God our love, by following His commands (John 14:15). Questions to take home: Imagine one of your favorite places in the whole world. What makes that place special? What are some of your favorite memories there? What do you think it was like living in the Garden of Eden? What is the essence of the lie that Satan tells Eve? Why do you think God created humans with free will given the possibility of sin? What is the first consequence if sin we see? What does God do to cover that consequence? Where do you see parallels to this and the story of Jesus?
  • Jan 30, 2022Matthew 12:1-14 “The Sacred and the Profane: Sabbath and Life Rhythms”
    Jan 30, 2022
    Matthew 12:1-14 “The Sacred and the Profane: Sabbath and Life Rhythms”
    Series: Apologetics
    Thoughts for Reflection: Last week, Pastor Jim talked through the Biblical definition of Sabbath, what it meant to the Israelites and how Jesus fulfills the Sabbath and draws it forward. Those who believe in Christ experience a new form of Sabbath in the way of Salvation from our sins. No longer do we need to try and work to earn God’s favor, we receive it, live into it, and rest in it as God’s gift of grace. One of the questions that was (and is) raised by a conversation about the Sabbath is “how does it apply to us today?” You don’t have to search very hard to find differing opinions on Sabbath practices. Jesus addresses this directly in His ministry, drawing on all of the Old Testament teachings from Creation to Sinai and beyond to show the Pharisees the true meaning behind Sabbath practices. We can learn from this as well, embracing the invitation of God to rest (trust) in Him and experience life and peace. Questions to take home: What were the Pharisees accusing Jesus’ disciples of? How has your experience with “Sabbath rules” been similar or different? What do Jesus’ words to the Pharisees tell you about God’s intention for the Sabbath? Both the Creation and Sinai narratives give heavy emphasis to the contrast between normal/common things and set apart/holy. Where do you see things in Genesis 1:1-2:3 & Exodus 20 that fit these categories? How does that impact your thinking about the Sabbath? About Humankind? About God? What do your rhythms of work and rest look like right now? What does your practice of the Sabbath look like, and what does it mean for your life? How might God be challenging you to embrace His invitation to rest (trust) in Him more?
  • Jan 16, 2022Genesis 1:26-31; 2:15; Psalm 8 “Stewards of God’s Creation”
    Jan 16, 2022
    Genesis 1:26-31; 2:15; Psalm 8 “Stewards of God’s Creation”
    Series: Apologetics
    Thoughts for Reflection: Last week we talked about how we bear the Image of God (imago Dei) in our lives and bodies and human beings.  God created humankind unique from everything else in creation.  This special status gives each human inherent dignity (worth) and calls us to affirm this in how we see and treat each other.  Imago Dei challenges all concepts and ideologies that would make another human somehow “less than” what we are including racism, sexism, discrimination, and any system or ideology that violates the sanctity of human life. In the Genesis 1 narrative, though, there is a second part to what Imago Dei means.  God created humankind in His image and then commissions them to Steward (subdue, rule, and work) the creation that He has created and then gives to them.  The intention of the command is to “care for” and “rule over” creation as God would.  Sadly, the topic of Christian Stewardship of God’s Creation has been skewed (or ignored) based on political ideology rather than taken seriously as a Biblical command and part of us bearing the Image of God. Questions to take home:
    1. What is the first thing that you think about when you hear language about “care for creation” or “environmentalism”?  What tendencies do you have toward this subject?  Why do you think that is?  How does Scripture challenge or affirm those thoughts and tendencies?
    2. How does the reality that we are called to steward God’s Creation change the way that you look at the world?  In what ways does it impact how you approach things in your life?  What are one or two changes that you could make to better care for God’s creation?
    3. HCC has a Statement of Faith and Beliefs (www.hopkinscommunitychurch.net/what-we-believe).  Take a moment to read the section on Christian Stewardship.  What do you find affirming here?  What things are surprising?  How does this statement help you understand what the Bible teaches?