March 22, 2015
Hebrews 11v1-6; 32-40
As Hebrews states, faith is the substance of anticipated things, the conviction about things not yet visible. Faith becomes a type of vision that we have about the future. As Christians, we have faith in Jesus that points towards a future free from wars, religion, countries, pain, sin, suffering, and death. However, it can be easy to become cynical and angry when facing unfixable situations. Yet, God calls us to have peace and gentleness. As Christians, to follow in faith, is to remember the story that we live in.
- What questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
- When you encounter difficult or painful situations, what story do you usually dwell in?
- When you hear the story of God that Paul portrays in this sermon, is it difficult to believe?
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
- How you live now is completely determined by your vision of the future. Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?
- As Christians, to follow in faith, is to remember the story that we live in. We imagine the world not as it is but as God says it will be. What is the Christian story? What do we imagine the future to be?
- Read Hebrews 11v32-38. The ‘interpretive key’ to this passage is the division in verse 35. How do the people at the top of the list differ from those on the bottom? Name some biblical characters or modern day examples of those on the top of the list (vv. 32-35a). Name some examples of those on the bottom of the list (vv. 35b-38).
- If your understanding of faith conceptually ends in verse 35a; if you understand faith as, “If you try hard enough and if you believe enough, you can overcome anything,” you are setting yourself up for disaster. Why?
Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.
- What is the better resurrection?
“The greatest challenge of the book of Hebrews is to cultivate such a deep and satisfying relationship with God that we rest in him whether living or dying, whether comfortable or miserable. The great challenge of the book of Hebrews is to cultivate the unshakeable confidence that God himself is better than anything life can give us or that death can take away from us.”
- What is the difference between trusting in God and trusting in your agenda for God? If you were to honestly analyze your prayer life which dynamic would be most apparent? How could that begin to change?
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved…In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
- To become a Christian is to receive the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is the “firstfruits” (down payment or first installment) of the future redemption of the universe come into your life. The real life changing dynamic of Christianity is an experience within oneself of the presence of the future.
- How can you and those close to you encourage each other to have faith in difficult situations?
God of hope, you gave your Son to free a lost world. You give your Spirit to comfort and encourage. You give us hope for a future free of pain, sorrow, and tears. You promise us a future with you. In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit, let us strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live holy and joyful lives, even as we watch for God’s new heaven and new earth, praying: Come, Lord Jesus!
Deny yourself the ability to access digital screens during non-work related meals, meetings, and gatherings each day this week.
Intentionally give full attention and eye contact to those you eat with and spend time with each day this week.
Remember to encourage group members to sign up to help at our fifth annual Eggs, Eggs Everywhere on April 4, 2015 (eggseggseverywhere.com).