Apr 1, 2018
John 20 “Paradigm Shift”
Series: #makethemost
It’s hard to imagine the thoughts and emotions that must have been going through the heads and hearts of Jesus followers between the time he died on Good Friday and Easter Morning when they first saw and heard the news that He was alive.  They went from having their whole world shattered to having to comprehend that something seemingly impossible had happened. Easter literally changes everything.  How we view the world, how we live out our faith, how we approach death; nothing is the same.  No longer does sin mark the paradigm of our existence and death have the final say over our lives.  No longer do we need to wonder or worry about things present of things future, because we have a marked assurance that God has laid all things at Jesus’ feet and every one of God’s promises find their “Yes” in Him. Questions to take home:
  1. John presents the image of Jesus walking in the garden, speaking to Mary.  Contrast this with the last time we saw God walking in a garden with His children (Genesis 3).  What has changed? How does this change impact the you/us?
  2. Thomas often gets a bad wrap in the Easter narrative, not being present at Jesus’ first appearance and doubting until he sees the Lord.  Sometimes we are like Thomas, though, too. Have there been times in your life when you doubted God? What were they and what did it take for you to believe?
  3. Easter seems to come and go in our lives much like every other holiday, with times of celebration and extra busyness, but no real impact on our everyday lives.  If Easter indeed changes everything for us, what is one practical impact it will have on your life this week?
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  • Apr 1, 2018John 20 “Paradigm Shift”
    Apr 1, 2018
    John 20 “Paradigm Shift”
    Series: #makethemost
    It’s hard to imagine the thoughts and emotions that must have been going through the heads and hearts of Jesus followers between the time he died on Good Friday and Easter Morning when they first saw and heard the news that He was alive.  They went from having their whole world shattered to having to comprehend that something seemingly impossible had happened. Easter literally changes everything.  How we view the world, how we live out our faith, how we approach death; nothing is the same.  No longer does sin mark the paradigm of our existence and death have the final say over our lives.  No longer do we need to wonder or worry about things present of things future, because we have a marked assurance that God has laid all things at Jesus’ feet and every one of God’s promises find their “Yes” in Him. Questions to take home:
    1. John presents the image of Jesus walking in the garden, speaking to Mary.  Contrast this with the last time we saw God walking in a garden with His children (Genesis 3).  What has changed? How does this change impact the you/us?
    2. Thomas often gets a bad wrap in the Easter narrative, not being present at Jesus’ first appearance and doubting until he sees the Lord.  Sometimes we are like Thomas, though, too. Have there been times in your life when you doubted God? What were they and what did it take for you to believe?
    3. Easter seems to come and go in our lives much like every other holiday, with times of celebration and extra busyness, but no real impact on our everyday lives.  If Easter indeed changes everything for us, what is one practical impact it will have on your life this week?
  • Mar 25, 2018Jonah; Luke 19:28-44 “Absurd Opportunities: Jonah”
    Mar 25, 2018
    Jonah; Luke 19:28-44 “Absurd Opportunities: Jonah”
    Series: #makethemost
    Jonah’s call to Nineveh must have seemed pretty absurd to him at that time.  Nineveh was the capital of Israel’s enemy, a city of outsiders that were not only outside of God’s promises to His people, but didn’t want to know God either.  In fact, they were downright hostile and the reality for Jonah is that God’s call was both crazy and dangerous. Today is Palm Sunday, the day we remember that God called another to go to a people who had rejected Him.  This mission would also be a dangerous one that would ultimately cost Him His life but, in doing so, would also open the way for repentance, salvation, and transformation for any that would come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Questions to take home:
    1. Has God ever called you to do something that felt uncomfortable?  What was it? How did you react at first? How did you ultimately respond to that call?
    2. Have you ever found yourself questioning the person or thing that God is calling you to?  What led to those questions? Where did you go to seek answers? What were they?
    3. What is one thing that God is calling you to right now?  How are you responding to that call? Does the story of Jonah or Jesus change the way you think about this?  How? What will you do about it?
  • Mar 18, 20181 John 2:3-11; Daniel 6 “Live Like Jesus”
    Mar 18, 2018
    1 John 2:3-11; Daniel 6 “Live Like Jesus”
    Series: #makethemost
    There has been an increasing push in our culture today toward “sameness” and conformity.  While some of the intended results are good, like equality across gender and racial lines, others have been somewhat less helpful or encouraging.  Especially in Christian circles, the push toward being relevant to today’s culture has left many worried and wondering what that looks like and, perhaps, what actually distinguishes the Church from the things around it. While responses to this cultural push have differed from church to church and denomination to denomination, Scripture offers us some clarity as to the sort of “counter-cultural” life we are called to.  This call pushes past arguments about style, direction, looks, and other surface-level things and gets to the heart of the issue: claiming life in Christ means living as Jesus lived. Questions to take home:
    1. In what ways do you see culture pushing Christians away from the teachings of the Bible?  What are some cultural movements that have helped to advance the Gospel in the world?
    2. How does “living as Jesus lived” look different than every day live in America?  How does this transform the way you look at your own life and the impact it has on those around you?
    3. Are there things in your life that have been distractions to living like Jesus lived for you?  What are they? What is one step you can take this week toward living a more Christ-like life and putting those distractions behind you?
  • Mar 4, 2018Matthew 28:16-20 “Peter: An Origin Story”
    Mar 4, 2018
    Matthew 28:16-20 “Peter: An Origin Story”
    Series: #makethemost
    Al Gemmen, missionary in Miami, Florida with InnerCHANGE Ministries.
  • Feb 12, 2018Judges 6-7 “Absurd Opportunities: Gideon”
    Feb 12, 2018
    Judges 6-7 “Absurd Opportunities: Gideon”
    Series: #makethemost
    The narrative of Gideon opens with God’s people wandering away from Him.  This is part of what is known as the “Judges cycle.”  God’s people wander, enemies oppress Israel, God’s people cry out, God sends a judge, and the judge helps to rescue them and lead them back to God.  In the book of Judges, this happens repeatedly. It’s easy to look at these stories and wonder at the foolishness of God’s people.  Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, their story is ours more often than we want to admit.  No matter what, though, God never leaves His people.  When they call out to Him, God always answers.  This truth is carried forward in Jesus Christ as well, the ultimate answer of God to His people’s cry for help in the midst of oppression.  Jesus came to set us free that we too might live for God! Questions to take home:
    1. Have you ever woken up and felt like you were lost, just wandering through life?  What was going on in your life at the time?  Did something change that caused you to wander away from God?
    2. God shows up to Gideon and calls him to lead His people, and yet Gideon questions and even tests God.  Have you ever experienced a calling that you questioned?  Do you feel like you have ever tested God?  What were the answers and how did you get them?
    3. Sometimes we are the leaders, other times we those who need to be led.  Is there a “Gideon” in your life that has helped to lead you back to God?  Has God called you to be a “Gideon” to someone in your life?  Who was that person?  Share this with someone!
  • Feb 4, 2018Numbers 13:26-33 “Absurd Opportunities: Israel”
    Feb 4, 2018
    Numbers 13:26-33 “Absurd Opportunities: Israel”
    Series: #makethemost
    Throughout our lives, we face big decisions, difficult situations, and struggles that seem overwhelming.  Sometimes these are giant things like changing jobs or moving, other times they might the immense prospect of just getting through a day, a week, or a season of life.  It can be easy for the promises of God to be clouded by doubts and fears. The people of Israel, after experiencing God’s presence and love at Mount Sinai, come to the edge of the land promised to them by God and look at the monumental task that is before them.  They too feel uncertain, fearful of what could happen if they fail.  Only a few look at the opportunity for both trust and faithfulness as lean on God’s promises and strength. Questions to take home: When has there been a time in your life where you faced a seemingly monumental decision?  How did you approach that moment?  What did you decide to do? Are there promises of God that you often find yourself turning to for strength and assurance?  What are they?  How do they impact your life from day to day? As a church, sometimes it feels like we are like the Israelites on the edge of the promised land.  Are there things that you see in our future that you are excited for?  That concern you?  What are they?  Which promises that God has for us give us strength and assurance to trust and be faithful to His vision and calling for us as a church?
  • Jan 28, 2018Exodus 2:1-10 “Absurd Opportunities: Moses”
    Jan 28, 2018
    Exodus 2:1-10 “Absurd Opportunities: Moses”
    Series: #makethemost
    All throughout Scripture water is symbolic of change.  It was out of water that God created all of creation and it was with water that he “started over” in the flood.  Moses was drawn from the water, giving him a new chance at life and the people of Israel passed through the waters of the Red Sea and the Jordan river, each representing a fundamental change in their identity. This morning, as we celebrate the sacrament of baptism, we recognize that we who are in Christ, have also passed through the waters.  Baptism is a symbol for us that there is something different about who we are, a fundamental change in our identity.  We are God’s people, called to new life in Jesus Christ, by faith, through grace.  While baptism itself does not save us, it reminds us once again that God’s salvation is for us! Questions to take home:
    1. When Moses was drawn out of the water, the whole trajectory of his life changed.  Have you ever experienced a moment in your life when you knew your future was changing?  What was that moment?  How did things change?  What impact did that have on you?
    2. God always equips us for the calling that He has for us.  Can you think of a time when you went through something that you didn’t understand but that came back to be helpful later on?  Would it change your perspective if we looked at every experience as a possible opportunity for being equipped?  How?
    3. Moses’ faithfulness to God’s call meant two things: confronting powers in the world and leading God’s people to freedom.  Are there things in your life that God is calling you to confront?  Are there people in your life that God is calling you to lead to freedom in Jesus Christ?  What and/or who are they?  What do you need to do to move toward it?
  • Jan 21, 2018Genesis 45:3-15 “Absurd Opportunities: Joseph”
    Jan 21, 2018
    Genesis 45:3-15 “Absurd Opportunities: Joseph”
    Series: #makethemost
    When bad things happen to us, it can be very hard to look at them as anything positive.  It is hard to have the perspective of opportunity when things are in the dump.  More often than not, it feels better, easier, and safer to give up, give in, and just walk away.  No matter what the situation, past or present, it is (let’s be honest) incredibly hard to see God at work. Scripture doesn’t promise us that our journey of faith will be a cakewalk.  It certainly doesn’t set up for us the idea that if we do all the right things, life will be easy and full of worldly wealth.  However, God does promise, all throughout Scripture, that He will never leave us, that He has great plans for us, and that He is working out all things for our salvation.  This promise doesn’t ensure that life won’t be hard at times, but it does assure than nothing we encounter is too difficult for Him to handle, is able to separate us from Him, or can take away the assurance of hope and salvation we have in Jesus Christ. Questions to take home:
    1. Can you think of a time in which it seemed like nothing was going your way?  How did you feel in the midst of that?  Where did you see (or not see) God at that time?
    2. “Hindsight is always 20/20,” or so goes the saying.  Looking back on this event now, would you react differently?  What work was God doing in the midst of this?  How have you grown from it?
    3. The narrative of Joseph is not just about personal growth, but about God’s faithfulness and the impact of obedience even seemingly hopeless situations.  How has God shown His faithfulness to you recently?  What is He calling you to be obedient to in your life right now?
  • Jan 14, 2018Genesis 12:1-4; 22:1-14 “Absurd Opportunities: Abraham”
    Jan 14, 2018
    Genesis 12:1-4; 22:1-14 “Absurd Opportunities: Abraham”
    Series: #makethemost
    Have you ever heard the phrase, “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”?  Sometimes, on long trips, we need to remind ourselves of this after seemingly endless hours in the car.  More often than not, we just want to be there!  We live in a culture of instant everything, long waits are not something we are accustomed to or we desire. God’s call to Abraham was the very beginning of a long journey, for both Him and the world.  While the destination was known, getting there was a lifelong voyage and commitment.  We too are on a journey of faith.  Sometimes the destination is readily clear to us, other times we feel like we are traveling in a fog.  Yet all the time God is at work, drawing us ever deeper in our relationship with Him and our life in Christ. Questions to take home:
    1. Have you experienced God’s call on your life?  Maybe it is general, like the call to faith and response of living in gratitude of our salvation; maybe it is specific, like a call to a specific ministry or person.  Where are you at in that call?
    2. There is a sort of joking prayer, “God give me patience and give it to me now!”  We laugh at this but have to admit a bit of truth in it too.  Do you find yourself wanting things immediately?  Is that true in your faith journey as well?  How do we combat this?  Does the narrative of Abraham speak to this?
    3. Sometimes we don’t know the ultimate destination of our calling; sometimes we see it very far off.  In either case, we know the journey will probably be longer than we would like.  What can we do to better experience and appreciate the journey?  What is God trying to teach you along the way?
  • Jan 7, 2018Genesis 6:9-7:5 “Absurd Opportunities: Noah”
    Jan 7, 2018
    Genesis 6:9-7:5 “Absurd Opportunities: Noah”
    Series: #makethemost
    Over the past several months, we have been we have included in our prayers a request that God provides us with opportunities to follow Him, both here in church and in the Hopkins community.  Last week we looked at Paul’s encouragement in the book of Ephesians to #makethemost of every opportunity.  We also talked about what it would look like to view every moment of our lives as a God-given opportunity. Today we are beginning a series of messages on some of the most well-known Bible stories.  Many of us have heard these stories since we were young and each of them provides an example of some God has called making to most of the opportunity God had presented them with.  Each of them followed God’s call and their obedience had a profound impact. Questions to take home:
    1. How has looking at every moment in life as an opportunity changed the way you look at your day to day schedule?  Have you seen new opportunities or different ways that God is working?  What is one major impact that this way of thinking has changed you?
    2. Have you ever had a “crazy idea” about something you felt you should do?  Were you excited or afraid?  Did you do it or avoid it?  What caused you to act how you did and are do you think it was the right action?
    3. Do you pray for things like patience, courage, strength, etc?  What opportunities has God placed in your life to be those things?  Have you taken those opportunities?  Why or why not, and what changes have you seen?
  • Dec 31, 2017Ephesians 5:8-20 “Make the Most”
    Dec 31, 2017
    Ephesians 5:8-20 “Make the Most”
    Series: #makethemost
    Every new year we spend time making resolutions about the new year.  We want the coming year to be better, more productive, healthier, and so much more.  We resolve to read more, learn more, or perhaps be more present in our relationships.  Yet typically, every new year is met with the same habits, actions, and inaction that the last year was full of. What is probably the saddest thing about this is it leads us to a life full of “defaults.”  We do what is “normal” and socially/culturally expected, making choices without consideration because it’s “what we always do” or “what everyone else is doing.”  It seems like we are just sleepwalking through life.  Scripture calls us to WAKE UP, urging us towards a greater awareness of our lives and the opportunities that God is placing before us. Questions to take home:
    1. What are some New Year’s resolutions that you are thinking of making for 2018?  Do you intend on keeping them or are they simply resolutions for the sake of resolutions?  How can you be more intentional about following through on them?
    2. Scripture calls us to “make the most of every opportunity; what does that mean to you?  Do you typically see the normal day to day things in your life as opportunities?  How can you #makethemost of the opportunities in your life each day?
    3. Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.”  St. Irenaeus once said “Man fully alive is the glory of God.”  Are abundant life and making the most of every opportunity linked?  How can you make this a daily part of your life and walk with Jesus Christ?