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Jeremiah 33:14-16 | Week of November 30, 2015

November 30th, 2015

Chris Morton

Midweek Group Discussion Guide

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Welcome

Start by spending some unstructured time together. Eventually, transition to a welcome question, either general or specific.

  • General Question: What was the highlight of your past week? What was the roughest part?
  • Specific Question: What are you favorite and least favorite Advent/Christmas traditions?

Lectio Divina

Listen

  • Begin with a few moments of quiet or a prayer.
  • Facilitator: “During the first reading listen for specific words or phrases that grab your attention.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Meditate

  • Facilitator: “During the second reading meditate on the text, asking God what it means.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Share

  • Facilitator: “After the third reading, share out loud the word or phrase that came to you.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.
  • Take this moment to share your word or phrase.
  • If you have time to go through the discussion questions, do so now.

Savor

  • Facilitator: “During the fourth reading savor Let go of words, and ask God to reveal how the text might affect your life this week.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Jeremiah 33:14-16

‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

 “‘In those days and at that time

   I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;

    he will do what is just and right in the land.

In those days Judah will be saved

    and Jerusalem will live in safety.

This is the name by which it will be called:

    The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’

Discuss

Take your time to discuss the following questions. Make space to let everyone speak.

  1. What thoughts or emotions stir in you when you read this passage?
  2. Is there anything in the text you find discouraging or encouraging?
  3. What does this passage teach us about the nature of God?
  4. How might this affect the way you interact with the people who make up Austin Mustard Seed? How might this affect how you interact with neighbors (literal neighbors, coworkers, friends, etc.)
  5. What do you want to remember about this passage in the week to come?

Pray Together

Spend time praying together for hopes, dreams, joys and needs. Make sure at least one person records the prayers and sends them to the rest of the group.

Midweek Group Discussion Brief

Context

Jeremiah is the second longest book of prophecy in the Old Testament after Isaiah. We don’t find as many direct prophecies about the Messiah in Jeremiah as Isaiah, but we do find a number of images of what is to come with Jesus.

This particular passage comes in the middle of extended section of judgement, calling the people to turn back to God. This passage comes in the middle as a sudden promise that stands in strong contrast to the statements of judgment around it.

The promises of the righteous Branch from David’s line can be tied back to a promise made to David in 2 Samuel 7:12-16.

Notes

vs. 15

Branch was a commonly used metaphor for the one who would pick up some kind of royal position or lineage.

vs. 16

Righteousness was an important theme to describe the work of Jesus. In the first words spoken of Jesus as he begins his public ministry, he is described as the one who will fulfill all rightneousness.

Colossians 1:1-14 | Week of November 18, 2015

November 15th, 2015

Chris Morton

Midweek Group Discussion Guide

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Welcome

Start by spending some unstructured time together. Eventually, transition to a welcome question, either general or specific.

  • General Question: What was the highlight of your past week? What was the roughest part?
  • Specific Question: Who is someone you don’t see often but you respect a lot? Is there a way you could show them?

Lectio Divina

Listen

  • Begin with a few moments of quiet or a prayer.
  • Facilitator: “During the first reading listen for specific words or phrases that grab your attention.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Meditate

  • Facilitator: “During the second reading meditate on the text, asking God what it means.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Share

  • Facilitator: “After the third reading, share out loud the word or phrase that came to you.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.
  • Take this moment to share your word or phrase.
  • If you have time to go through the discussion questions, do so now.

Savor

  • Facilitator: “During the fourth reading savor Let go of words, and ask God to reveal how the text might affect your life this week.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Colossians 1:1-14

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant,who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Discuss

Take your time to discuss the following questions. Make space to let everyone speak.

  1. What thoughts or emotions stir in you when you read this passage?
  2. Is there anything in the text you find discouraging or encouraging?
  3. What does this passage teach us about the nature of God?
  4. How might this affect the way you interact with the people who make up Austin Mustard Seed? How might this affect how you interact with neighbors (literal neighbors, coworkers, friends, etc.)
  5. What do you want to remember about this passage in the week to come?

Pray Together

Spend time praying together for hopes, dreams, joys and needs. Make sure at least one person records the prayers and sends them to the rest of the group.

Mark 12:38-44 | Week of November 8, 2015

November 9th, 2015

Chris Morton

Midweek Group Discussion Guide

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Welcome 

Start by spending some unstructured time together. Eventually, transition to a welcome question, either general or specific.

  • General Question: What was the highlight of your past week? What was the roughest part?
  • Specific Question: What is one of the best gifts you have ever received?

Lectio Divina

Listen

  • Begin with a few moments of quiet or a prayer.
  • Facilitator: “During the first reading listen for specific words or phrases that grab your attention.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Meditate

  • Facilitator: “During the second reading meditate on the text, asking God what it means.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Share

  • Facilitator: “After the third reading, share out loud the word or phrase that came to you.” 
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.
  • Take this moment to share your word or phrase.
  • If you have time to go through the discussion questions, do so now.

Savor

  • Facilitator: “During the fourth reading savor Let go of words, and ask God to reveal how the text might affect your life this week.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Mark 12:38-44

38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Discuss

Take your time to discuss the following questions. Make space to let everyone speak.

  1. What thoughts or emotions stir in you when you read this passage?
  2. Is there anything in the text you find discouraging or encouraging?
  3. What does this passage teach us about the nature of God?
  4. How might this affect the way you interact with the people who make up Austin Mustard Seed? How might this affect how you interact with neighbors (literal neighbors, coworkers, friends, etc.)
  5. What do you want to remember about this passage in the week to come?

Pray Together

Spend time praying together for hopes, dreams, joys and needs. Make sure at least one person records the prayers and sends them to the rest of the group.

Prepare

Next Sunday we will learning from our guest speaker Bob Hyatt. The kids will continue in the lectionary with Mark 13:1-8. 

Midweek Group Discussion Briefing

Context

Mark has been telling about Jesus debates with the teachers of the law. This includes topics like taxes, marriage, the greatest command (love) and the identity of the Messiah.

Now Jesus is on the move. He is pictured walking through Jerusalem, talking to his disciples about the dangers of the teachers of the law and their prideful religiosity.

The scene takes place outside of the the Temple of Herod. Although it was the center of Jewish religious life, it was also a corrupt institution. Jesus sits down outside the temple, across from where donations were collected for various sacrifices. Some rabbinic authors describe a space outside the temple where shofars (a traditional Jewish trumpet) were used to collect donations.

Notes

v. 38-40—This is in line with other criticisms Jesus has for the teachers of the law in this and other gospels. However, the description about devouring widows houses in interesting in light of the coming section.

v. 41—If the assumption that they are dropping coins into a trumpet is true, you can imagine them clinking all the way down.

v.42—The two small coins or “mites” would have added up to less than the smallest Roman coin.

v. 44—By giving up “what she had to live on” she is choosing to rely on the “social security” of her day, synagogue food banks and begging.

Quotes

“I have done what was mine. May Christ teach you what is yours.”

St. Francis, at his death

“The rabbinic literature contains a similar account: a priest rejected the

offering of a handful of meal from a poor woman. That night in a dream

was commanded: “Do not despise her. It is as if she had offered her life. This account, like the evangelical narrative, serves to stress the qualitative difference between God’s perspective and man’s: “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks upon the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). There is, however, an added dimension to the evangelical narrative which is provided by its context in the gospel. The woman sacrifices what is necessary, all she had. It was this that the disciples needed to understand, for the call to the gospel is a call for absolute surrender to God and total trust in him.”

William Lane, The Gospel According to Mark

Mark 12:28-34 | Week of November 1, 2015

November 1st, 2015

Chris Morton

Click Here to Download

Welcome

Start by spending some unstructured time together. Eventually, transition to a welcome question, either general or specific.

  • General Question: What was the highlight of your past week? What was the roughest part?
  • Specific Question: Who is the most loving person you know?

Lectio Divina

Listen

  • Begin with a few moments of quiet or a prayer.
  • Facilitator: “During the first reading listen for specific words or phrases that grab your attention.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Meditate

  • Facilitator: “During the second reading meditate on the text, asking God what it means.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Share

  • Facilitator: “After the third reading, share out loud the word or phrase that came to you.” 
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.
  • Take this moment to share your word or phrase and go through the discussion questions.

Savor

  • Facilitator: “During the fourth reading savor Let go of words, and ask God to reveal how the text might affect your life this week.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Mark 12:28-34

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Discuss

Take your time to discuss the following questions. Make space to let everyone speak.

  1. What thoughts or emotions stir in you when you read this passage?
  2. Is there anything in the text you find discouraging or encouraging?
  3. What does this passage teach us about the nature of God?
  4. How might this affect the way you interact with the people who make up Austin Mustard Seed? How might this affect how you interact with neighbors (literal neighbors, coworkers, friends, etc.)
  5. What do you want to remember about this passage in the week to come?

Pray Together

Spend time praying together for hopes, dreams, joys and needs. Make sure at least one person records the prayers and sends them to the rest of the group.

Prepare

Next Sunday we will continue in the Lectionary and look at Mark 12:38-44.

Jeremiah 29:4-11 | Week of October 25, 2015

October 24th, 2015

Chris Morton

Midweek Group Discussion Guide

Click Here to Download

Welcome

Start by spending some unstructured time together. Eventually, transition to a welcome question, either general or specific.

General Question: What was the highlight of your past week? What was the roughest part?
Specific Question: Do you feel settled where you are (city, neighborhood, job, etc.)? Why or why

Lectio Divina

Listen

  • Begin with a few moments of quiet or a prayer.
  • Facilitator: “During the first reading listen for specific words or phrases that grab your attention.”
    Have one person read the passage aloud.

Meditate

  • Facilitator: “During the second reading meditate on the text, asking God what it means.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Share

  • Facilitator: “After the third reading, share out loud the word or phrase that came to you.”
    Have one person read the passage aloud.
  • Take this moment to share your word or phrase and go through the discussion questions.

Savor

  • Facilitator: “During the third reading savor Let go of words, and ask God to reveal how the text might affect your life this week.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Jeremiah 29:4-11

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.

10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Discuss

Take your time to discuss the following questions. Make space to let everyone speak.

  1. What thoughts or emotions stir in you when you read this passage?
  2. Is there anything in the text you find discouraging or encouraging?
  3. What does this passage teach us about the nature of God?
  4. How might this affect the way you interact with the people who make up Austin Mustard Seed? How might this affect how you interact with neighbors (literal neighbors, coworkers, friends, etc.)
  5. What do you want to remember about this passage in the week to come?

Pray Together

Spend time praying together for hopes, dreams, joys and needs. Make sure at least one person records the prayers and sends them to the rest of the group.

Prepare

Next Sunday we will return to the Lectionary and look at Mark 12:28-34.

 

Midweek Group Discussion Brief

Context

This passage ends in a verse that’s very common and well known. But when we see it in the scope of the full story, it adds layers of meaning to the verse itself — and maybe changes some of our modern understandings of it.

God had allowed the people had been taken away into exile in Babylon for not being faithful to their sacred covenant, though many still remained in the shambles of Jerusalem and surrounding areas.

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God had told them that they would be in exile for seventy years. However, another prophet, not speaking on God’s behalf, claimed that the exile would be very short. This prophet was proven to be wrong. This letter, was written shortly after as both an affirmation of the seventy years, and a reassurance that they would not be forgotten.

Notes

v. 2
Most of those originally taken into exile were those were certain skills seen to be beneficial for Babylon’s intention to build and expand.

vv. 5-6
Babylon was now to be regarded as their new home, and such activities were expressions of the divine will for those in exile. They were to settle down, as if in their own land, living life to the fullest possible extent.

v. 10
Seventy wasn’t usually intended to be literal as much as a regular ancient understanding of a period of divine consequence

Extras

Some quotes from the sermon:

Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it. — David Graeber

The expenditure of energy (manual or mental or both) in the service of others, which brings fulfillment to the worker, benefit to the community, and glory to God. — John Stott

In one way or another, Christian calling will always involve the care of God’s creation and people. This realigns us to the created world and to our neighbor, moving us from self-centered exploitation to self-sacrificing service and stewardship. — David Benner

This massive, unsettling insecurity is also a license to infuse our professional aspirations with our soul’s calling, to dig deep and listen to what thrills us as well as what we think might pay the bills. When we have nothing to lose, when we realize that nothing is certain, we are freer than ever to choose our own path. — Wes Moore

Thus, we could offer the following as a Christian definition of work: any necessary and meaningful task that God calls and gifts a person to do and which can be undertaken to the glory of God and for the edification and aid of human beings, being inspired by the Spirit and foreshadowing the realities of the new creation. — Ben Witherington

2 Peter 1:3-11 | Week of October 18, 2015

October 17th, 2015

Chris Morton

Midweek Group Discussion Guide

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Start by spending some unstructured time together. Eventually, transition to a welcome question, either general or specific.

  • General Question: What was the highlight of your past week? What was the roughest part?
  • Specific Question: Have you ever found your needs, whether physical, emotional, financial, etc., taken care of in away you weren’t expecting? Give an example.

Lectio Divina

Listen

  • Begin with a few moments of quiet or a prayer.
  • Facilitator: “During the first reading listen for specific words or phrases that grab your attention.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Meditate

  • Facilitator: “During the second reading meditate on the text, asking God what it means.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Share

  • Facilitator: “After the third reading, share out loud the word or phrase that came to you.” 
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.
  • Take this moment to share your word or phrase and go through the discussion questions.

Savor

  • Facilitator: “During the third reading savor Let go of words, and ask God to reveal how the text might affect your life this week.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

2 Peter 1:3-11

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters,[a] make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Discuss

Take your time to discuss the following questions. Make space to let everyone speak.

  1. What thoughts or emotions stir in you when you read this passage?
  2. Is there anything in the text you find discouraging or encouraging?
  3. What does this passage teach us about the nature of God?
  4. How might this affect the way you interact with the people who make up Austin Mustard Seed? How might this affect how you interact with neighbors (literal neighbors, coworkers, friends, etc.)
  5. What do you want to remember about this passage in the week to come?

Pray Together

Spend time praying together for hopes, dreams, joys and needs. Make sure at least one person records the prayers and sends them to the rest of the group.

Prepare

Next Sunday we continue our discussion of vocation.

Midweek Group Discussion Brief

Context

This passage comes at the very beginning of this letter. The author is Peter, one of Jesus 12 followers, a primary player in each of the gospels and the life of the early Church. Directly after this passage, Peter reminds his readers that he was a witness to the Transfiguration, the moment where Jesus was revealed as God’s son.

The letter as a whole encourages maturity, combats heretical teachings and reminds people of Jesus imminent return. This passage, therefore, serves as a sort of Transfiguration as well, reminding people who Jesus truly is, and the power he makes accessible for his followers.

Notes

3 – Peter is clear that Jesus has all-encompassing divine power, but it is important to him to point out the very personal result of that power: all immediate and eternal needs can be met through this power.

4 – The result of Jesus power in the lives of people is again very practical: the divine ability to move beyond base desires and participate in the divine life itself.

5-7 – Jesus power in the church does not result in instantaneous life transformation. Peter lays out a framework of maturity, whereby we move from basic faith to selfless love.

8 – The result of maturity is very practical: it enables an effective, productive Jesus-modeled life.

9 – Those who are not in the process of maturing find themselves continuing with the same struggles they did prior to their encounter with Jesus.

10-11 – The best way to overcome doubts and struggles is to work toward Jesus-like maturity. By doing so, one experiences security in the present and eternal life.

Colossians 1:15-24 | Week of October 11, 2015

October 10th, 2015

Chris Morton

Midweek Group Discussion Guide

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Welcome

Start by spending some unstructured time together. Eventually, transition to a welcome question, either general or specific.

General Question: What was the highlight of your past week? What was the roughest part?

Specific Question: Who is someone you know that acts like Jesus? Give an example.

Lectio Divina

Listen

Begin with a few moments of quiet or a prayer.

Facilitator: “During the first reading listen for specific words or phrases that grab your attention.”

Have one person read the passage aloud.

Meditate

Facilitator: “During the second reading meditate on the text, asking God what it means.”

Have one person read the passage aloud.

Share

Facilitator: “After the third reading, share out loud the word or phrase that came to you.” 

Have one person read the passage aloud.

Take this moment to share your word or phrase and go through the discussion questions.

Savor

Facilitator: “During the third reading savor Let go of words, and ask God to reveal how the text might affect your life this week.”

Have one person read the passage aloud.

Colossians 1:15-23

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Discuss

Take your time to discuss the following questions. Make space to let everyone speak.

What thoughts or emotions stir in you when you read this passage?

Is there anything in the text you find discouraging or encouraging?

What does this passage teach us about the nature of God?

How might this affect the way you interact with the people who make up Austin Mustard Seed? How might this affect how you interact with neighbors (literal neighbors, coworkers, friends, etc.)

What do you want to remember about this passage in the week to come?

Pray Together

Spend time praying together for hopes, dreams, joys and needs. Make sure at least one person records the prayers and sends them to the rest of the group.

Prepare

Next Sunday we continue our discussion of vocation.

– – – – – –

Midweek Group Discussion Briefing

Context

This passage serves as a key element to Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae as much of the rest of the letter draws back on these themes. Though many Bible have it in paragraph form, vs 15-20 would probably best be written as verse, and may even have been words from an early hymn. The passage is one of the most significant in the New Testament for stating the significance of Jesus’ role in creation and God’s ongoing work in history.

Notes

  • 15 – The term firstborn doesn’t necessarily mean Jesus was the first ‘birth’ of creation. It’s best to understand as saying Jesus is primary or supreme to all creation.
  • 16 – Not only was Jesus not the first ‘birth’ of creation, but Jesus was deeply involved in the work of creation itself.
  • 17 – Jesus didn’t just speak creation into existence, but still somehow is what holds it all together.
  • 18 – The shift here is that, just as Jesus is primary to all of creation, so is Jesus primary to the church.
  • 19 – The best way to understand the nature of God is to see who Jesus was as a human.
  • 21-23 – And just as Jesus was integral to the work of creation, so is Jesus integral to our reconciliation with God as broken people in need of redemption.

Extras

“The most obvious point that the poem makes is the parallel between creation and new creation; hence the emphasis that is placed on the fact that each was accomplished by means of the same agent. The Lord through whom you are redeemed (Paul is telling the Colossians) is none other than the one through whom you (and all the world) were created.” — NT Wright

The marvelous truth is, that being the Word, so far from being Himself contained by anything, He actually contained all things Himself. In creation He is present everywhere, yet is distinct in being from it; ordering, directing, giving life to all, containing all, yet is He Himself the Uncontained, existing solely in His Father. — Athanasius

Genesis 1:26-31 | Week of October 4, 2015

October 5th, 2015

Chris Morton

Midweek Group Discussion Guide

Click here to download

Welcome 

Start by spending some unstructured time together. Eventually, transition to a welcome question, either general or specific.

  • General Question: What was the highlight of your past week? What was the roughest part?
  • Specific Question: What was the worst job you ever had?

Lectio Divina

Listen

  • Begin with a few moments of quiet or a prayer.
  • Facilitator: “During the first reading listen for specific words or phrases that grab your attention.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Meditate

  • Facilitator: “During the second reading meditate on the text, asking God what it means.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Share

  • Facilitator: “After the third reading, share out loud the word or phrase that came to you.” 
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.
  • Take this moment to share your word or phrase and go through the discussion questions.

Savor

  • Facilitator: “During the third reading savor Let go of words, and ask God to reveal how the text might affect your life this week.”
  • Have one person read the passage aloud.

Genesis 1:26-31

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Discuss

Take your time to discuss the following questions. Make space to let everyone speak.

  1. What thoughts or emotions stir in you when you read this passage?
  2. Is there anything in the text you find discouraging or encouraging?
  3. What does this passage teach us about the nature of God?
  4. How might this affect the way you interact with the people who make up Austin Mustard Seed? How might this affect how you interact with neighbors (literal neighbors, coworkers, friends, etc.)
  5. What do you want to remember about this passage in the week to come?

Pray Together

Spend time praying together for hopes, dreams, joys and needs. Make sure at least one person records the prayers and sends them to the rest of the group.

_  _  _  _

 

Midweek Group Discussion Briefing

Context

Often, the first two chapters of Genesis are approached as if they offer some critical blueprint for how God went about doing the work of creation. But the ancient writers weren’t so interested in the exact details as they were describing God’s intent for creation.

In this passage, we see creation of humanity as those who bear God’s image. This means that humans are some kind of visible reflection of the nature and character of God. But this also carries some kind of understanding that humans represent God as they care for this creation they were placed in.

Notes

vs 26

Christians like to point out that Genesis seems to refer to some idea of the trinity here, as God says, “Let us…” Maybe we can carry that understanding as well, but the original understanding would have been that God was gathering all the host of heaven to watch as he brought into being the most important part of creation.

vs 28

Words like ‘subdue’ and ‘dominion’ have sometimes been understood to mean that humans can have their way with the earth. But a better understanding would be that of stewards, or partners, in the cultivation of this earth. We are those who are granted freedom to unfold this creation to its full potential.

vs 31

Unlike other days, this day ends with God recognizing it is ‘very good’ rather than just ‘good’. This should be understood not that humans were the very good part of creation, for we weren’t the only thing created that day. Rather, the ordering of humans as the stewards and partners as the final piece of creation is a very good thing.

Extras

Some quotes from the sermon:

A huge number of people wake up in the morning and think, I gotta do something else, or Three more days until the weekend. This is because we were created to rule on behalf of God, as his kings and queens, in partnership with the Creator, but instead we now rule for ourselves, looking out for number one, no matter the expense to the earth or its inhabitants. — John Mark Comer in Garden City

The creation of the world was the free outpouring of God’s powerful love. The one true God made a world that was other than himself, because that is what love delights to do. — NT Wright

But to confess that God is creator is to say more. It is to say that the free, transcendent God is generous and welcoming…The act of creation is a ‘fitting’ act of God. It fittingly expresses the true character of God, who is love. — Daniel Migliore

It was so much like God to create, to imagine possible worlds and then to actualize one of them. Creation is an act of imaginative love. — Cornelius Plantinga, Jr

Making a career of Nothing — wandering through malls, killing time, making small talk, watching television programs until we know their characters better than our own children — robs the community of our gifts and energies and shapes life into a yawn at the God and savior of the world. The person who will not bestir herself, the person who hands herself over to Nothing, in effect says to God: you have made nothing of interest and redeemed no one of consequence, including me. — Cornelius Plantinga, Jr

 

Matthew 7:24-29 | Week of September 27, 2015

September 26th, 2015

Chris Morton

Briefing

Context

Jesus is winding down the Sermon on the Mount. Much of what he has said up until point could be considered general ethical or religious teaching. He ends the sermon with the claim the he himself, not just his teaching, is a foundation a life can be built on.

Matthew points out that Jesus clearly has an effect on the crowd: they find him is compelling and authoritative in a way that other contemporary leaders were not.

Notes

“The locale of the sermon near the Sea of Galilee finds a natural setting for this parable. The alluvial sand ringing the seashore was hard on the surface during the hot summer months. But a wise builder would not be fooled by surface conditions. He would dig down sometimes ten feet below the surface sand to the bedrock and there establish the foundation for his house. When the winter rains came, causing the Jordan River pouring into the sea to overflow its banks, houses built on the alluvial sand surface would have an unstable foundation. But houses built on bedrock would be able to withstand the floods. Excavations in the late 1970s in the region uncovered basalt stone bedrock that was apparently used for the foundation of a building in antiquity.”

“But Matthew’s conclusion is ironic. Amazement at Jesus’ teachings does not indicate acceptance. The term “amazed” is the passive form of ekplesso, which in Matthew is not a description of faith. It indicates a variety of emotional responses but not a commitment to Jesus’ messianic ministry. The word is used to describe Jesus’ hometown’s unbelieving reaction to his ministry (13:58), his own disciples’ astonished response at the difficulty of a rich man being saved (19:25), and the crowds’ astonishment at Jesus’ teaching on mar- riage at the resurrection (22:33). Amazement is not the same as a commitment of faith. Only when a person accepts Jesus’ invitation and enters the kingdom of heaven does he or she become a disciple.”

Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew

“The challenge of Jesus is not simply to accept him or to believe in him (as if rational acceptance was his fundamental mission). The fundamental aim of the Sermon is to present Jesus and his kingdom vision for his kingdom people, and the only acceptable response to this Sermon is to embrace him, to accept the challenge; that means to do what he says. The Sermon is a Messianic Ethic from Above and Beyond, and it is designed for obedience by the messianic community. Ten times in 7:13-27 the word “do” or “practice” appears.The aim of the Sermon rhetorically was for Jesus to tell his disciples what he expected of his own and to get them to do what he said.”

“…So, we dare not reduce Christology to ethics. Instead, the Sermon calls us to lift ethics into Christology. What echoes down through the corridors of history when this Sermon is read or preached is that Jesus, in the closing passage, clasped those very words to himself “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine…”

To respond to the Sermon is not to respond to an ethical vision. To respond is to respond to Jesus. The proper response is to declare who he is by the way we live.”

Scot McKnight, Sermon on the Mount

“The Catholic Gnilka believes that our text can help the churches in the centuries-old problem of the relation of grace and works:

What saves? Christ’s grace or human doing? And Gnilka replies, 1:282 (emphases added), that according to Jesus here, ‘It is the Word of Christ [the rock] that saves man, not man’s doing. But [Christ’s] prior Word saves man only when he does it.’”

Dale Bruner quoting Joachim Gnilka

Welcome

Start by spending some unstructured time together. Eventually, transition to a welcome question, either general or specific.

General Question: What was the highlight of your past week? What was the roughest part?

Specific Question: What is your house or apartment you’ve ever lived?

Lectio Divina

Begin with a few moments of quiet or a prayer. Ask one person to read the directions for the first movement, then have one person read the text aloud. After a moment of silence, read the next direction and the text a second time. Repeat for all four movements.

  1. Listen for specific words or phrases that grab your attention.
  2. Meditate on the text, asking God what it means.
  3. Share out loud the word or phrase that came to you. You might take this moment to go through the discussion questions.
  4. Savor Let go of words, and ask God to reveal how the text might affect your life this week.

Matthew 7:13-23

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 

“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Discuss

Take your time to discuss the following questions. Make space to let everyone speak.

  1. What thoughts or emotions stir in you when you read this passage?
  2. Is there anything in the text you find discouraging or encouraging?
  3. What does this passage teach us about the nature of God?
  4. How might this affect the way you interact with the people who make up Austin Mustard Seed? How might this affect how you interact with neighbors (literal neighbors, coworkers, friends, etc.)
  5. What do you want to remember about this passage in the week to come?

Pray Together

Spend time praying together for hopes, dreams, joys and needs. Make sure at least one person records the prayers and sends them to the rest of the group.

Prepare

Next Sunday we will begin our discussion of vocation. Spend sometime this week thinking and praying about what you think vocation is, and what role it plays in your life.

Midweek Group Covenant Fall 2015

September 21st, 2015

Chris Morton

As a group, determine the purpose, goals, and mission of your midweek group.

Purpose

In your own words, why does your MWG exist?

Goals

List specifically what your group will do together over the next 10 weeks.

  • When and where does your group meet?
  • Who are the facilitators and co-facilitators of the group?
  • What will you do at a meeting?
  • How will you help each other further develop a relationship with God?
  • Both at official meetings and throughout the week, how will you further develop you relationships with each other?
  • How will you encourage each other or partner together to develop relationships with people outside of Austin Mustard Seed?

Covenant Mission Statement

Why does your group exist?

Fall 2015 MWG Covenant