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SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
In Genesis 27 we find a story of family mess, of deception and favoritism as Jacob tricks his father Isaac into giving him his blessing instead of giving it to his older brother and firstborn son Esau; but we also find a story of blessing, a story of God and his sovereignty and how God works through weakness and even through wickedness. However, if we want to experience the fullness of God’s blessing on our lives, we’ve got to walk in the path of faith and obedience of the Lord. At the same time, in this scripture we also find that this story ultimately points to the person of Jesus Christ and his work of salvation.
GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
1. Have you ever wanted for yourself something that someone else had? Do you struggle with trusting in God and his provision for your life?
2. Have you ever been the victim of favoritism? What impact did that experience have on you? On the other hand, have you ever experienced being the favorite? Were you able to notice the impact that experience had on those around you?
3. Take time to share experiences in which you’ve seen God’s plan for your life move forward despite of the wickedness of others.
INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
1. In 5 minutes or less. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.
2. Read Romans 1: 1-24:
1 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”
10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a mere human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for disposal of refuse?
22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?
• Why is Paul in great sorrow and unceasing anguish (v. 3)? What was God’s original plan for the people of Israel? (Gen. 12:1-3) Was all of Israel living under God’s plan?
• Why would some consider God failed in his plan (v. 6)? What’s the difference between “Israel” and all who are descended from Israel? Or between Abraham’s descendents and Abraham’s children (vv. 7-8)? Who is considered God’s people today? What does it mean to be children of the promise in the 21st century? Is God’s plan still at work today?
• In verses 11 and 12, we read that God had already promised Rebekah that the older of her sons would serve the younger, yet she still felt the need to cheat Isaac into blessing her younger son. Have you ever had to struggle with the tension of trusting God to keep his word and you taking matters into your own hands? Briefly share.
• In verse 16, the apostle Paul says that it does not depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. What do you think would happen if God’s blessing for our life did depend on our desire and effort? How does knowing that we are subject to his mercy affect the way you live your life? Does this statement have an impact on your relationship with Jesus? How?
• According to the apostle Paul, why does God allow wickedness in mankind? What is God’s response to that wickedness and evil (vv. 17, 22-23)? How should we then face the wickedness of this world? How can we believe in God’s sovereignty despite of that wickedness? How then does wickedness and evil become and instrument for God to reveal his mercy?
3. In his sermon, Rich says that the reason you are not an imposter when you come into God’s presence; the reason why you don’t have to tremble in fear about being found out; the reason why you can believe God for blessing on your life is that if you have trusted in Christ, Christ voluntarily clothes you with his clothing of righteousness, and now when you go into the presence of your father in heaven as you pray, your father in heaven smells the smell of Jesus on you. Your father in heaven says, “Ah, the smell of my son; the scent of his righteousness is on you.”
• Are there any areas in your life in which you still feel like an imposter when you enter into God’s presence? If so, take time to pray that God may speak his truth into your life and release freedom in your relationship with him.
• At the same time, pray for those who are having difficulties trusting in God’s sovereignty for their lives.