Weekly Reading for April 17 – 23
Preparing for Next Week’s Message
Sermon Series: Heaven
Sermon Title: Heaven Is Costly
This reading plan will get your heart and mind set for the next message on April 24, 2016:
- SUNDAY: Romans 5-6,
- MONDAY: Romans 7-8,
- TUESDAY: Romans 9-10,
- WEDNESDAY: Matthew 16, Matthew 27,
- THURSDAY: 2 Corinthians 5, Galatians 3,
- FRIDAY: Ephesians 2-3,
- SATURDAY: 1 John 3-4,
Reflecting on the Most Recent Sermon
Sermon Series: Heaven
Sermon Title: Heaven Is Not the Only Option
Delivered On: April 17, 2016
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Memorize and Reflect
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. ([bible]Isaiah 11:9[/bible])
1. Where is an area I see hell’s destructive power at work in my own life (if helpful, think of vices like pride, lust, rage, greed)? Where is an area I see hell’s power at work in my family, city or world [in the sermon, Joshua used examples like adultery (family), sex-trafficking (city), and genocide (world)]—what specific areas stand out to you where you see sin’s destructive impact? Pray for God’s power to bring his holiness, justice, and resurrection victory to these specific areas. 2. What would it look like for God’s kingdom to come “in Monterey, as in heaven”? In my life and through our church? Dream big for God’s kingdom-bringing, sin-smashing power, banishing the things that lead to death and bringing the things that lead to life, in the transforming power of his Spirit. Pray into the specific areas that stand out to you for God’s kingdom to come, and ask God how he might be calling you to participate in his transformation for the world. 3. Are there places you’ve feared God might be hiding “skeletons in the closet”? Areas of your faith you’ve been afraid to go? Take confidence that at the center of the gospel is a God who is good through-and-through, and bring those questions and struggles to God in prayer. Bring also to God the questions or struggles you know friends and family are wrestling with. Ask God to reveal himself, and even if the answer doesn’t come immediately (for me, many of the paradigm shifts occurred over years with study and prayer), rest in God’s goodness for the things you don’t understand. If there are particular topics that really weigh heavy on your heart, consider combining your prayer with some study, reading what other thoughtful Christians have had to say on the topic (I’m sure Pastor Kevin or the guest speaker Joshua Butler (email@example.com) would be happy to recommend resources.
“Live It!” Challenge
“Getting the Hell out of Earth” - God is on a mission to "get the hell out of earth.” Where have you seen hell’s destructive power at work in your own life (if helpful, think of vices like: pride, lust, rage, greed)? Where is an area you’ve seen hell’s destructive power at work in your family, city or our world [in the sermon, Joshua used examples like adultery (family), sex-trafficking (city), and genocide (world)—what are areas that stand out to you?] [JB1] Where can you participate with God’s kingdom agenda to bring transformation into these areas? Commit to one particular practice this week to help bring either holiness into your personal life, or justice into Monterey or the world, in an area that stands out to you.
Small Group Discussion
What comes to mind when you think of our culture’s popular perception of hell? Can you think of specific places you’ve seen it show up? (Joshua mentioned Looney Tunes and Bill & Ted’s; can you think of other examples?) Why do you think people struggle with this topic? Have you wrestled with this topic or do you know someone who has? What does the character of God look like in the caricature?
Read: Colossians 1:19-20 and Ephesians 1:7-10
How do these passages describe God’s purposes for heaven and earth’s future? What is the biblical storyline of heaven and earth? (Hint: Joshua suggested there are three movements in this story, can you remember what they are?) How does this storyline contrast with the popular caricature storyline of heaven and earth?
Read: 2 Chronicles 28:1-4 and Jeremiah 32:30-35What was Gehenna, or the Valley of Hinnom, known for in the Old Testament? How does this Old Testament backdrop teach us about the nature of hell? Why is it’s location “outside the city” (rather than “underground”) significant?
Read: Isaiah 11:9 and Zechariah 2:4-5What is the purpose of hell? Joshua presented the idea that God’s purpose is not torture (as in the caricature), but protection, by containing the destructive power of unrepentant sin from invading his kingdom—like a “container for evil,” this is the punishment: if we reject God and his ways, God will keep our rebellion from invading his kingdom. What do you think of this? How does God’s motivating character in this picture contrast with the caricature?
Do you remember the “wedding analogy” Joshua used? What were the four options (the “Marry Me, Or…”)? If we stubbornly and persistently reject God and harden our heart against him, do you think God has a more merciful option available for our rejection of him and his kingdom—what is it?
In the gospel, we discover Jesus’ question to us is not, “Are you good enough to get into my kingdom?” but rather, “Will you let me heal you?” What do you think of Jesus’ posture towards us, and the extent God is willing to go, displayed at the cross, to bring us home?