SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
In the new sermon series, Advent: The Women In Jesus’ Past, we’re going to look at the lives of four of the women in the genealogy of Jesus: Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary.
In this week’s sermon, we found that Jesus is the Savior of Gentiles, not just Jews. He is the savior of the whole world, not just people of a certain race, a certain ethnicity, or a certain nationality. He is the Savior of the immoral, not just the moral. In addition to good people, Jesus also saves those with a past; those familiar with scandal; those that society has labeled. And Jesus is the Savior of women, not just men. Jesus came to save women from sin and also the oppression and abuse they’ve historically lived with in the world. The faith of Rahab overcame her past, enabled her to overcome her aloneness, and overcame the odds. Her faith believed in a God who is over the heavens and the earth. God was Lord over her life.
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. In follow-up to the sermon – were you challenged to consider any way you “put limits” on God? Especially as we enter the Advent Season, full of hope and expectation, is there any place you’ve become hardened and perhaps your hope or expectation of what God can do has diminished?
2. Can you think of an example of someone, or some group, overcoming insurmountable odds through their faith in God? Were there any set-backs along the way or perpetual smooth-sailing?
3. How would you describe our culture’s understanding of Faith? How would one build faith, or sustain faith? Is it consequential to doing life well?
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 4:17-25:
17As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
• (Context) In Romans 4:1-15 Paul challenges assumptions about Justification (right-standing before God) by using Abraham as the example. What is Paul’s argument against “works” as a valid path to justification (vs 2-8)? What is Paul’s argument against circumcision as a valid path to justification (vs 9-12)? What is Paul’s argument against the Law as a valid path to justification (vs 13-16)? What is the valid path?
• (vs 17a) Was Abraham meant to be the father of just one nation – the Jews (Read Gen 17:3-5)? Is it important to see yourself as part of the “family” of Abraham – brought into the covenant promise as heirs? How should a family act? What implication does this have for our church? What about your community or your circle of friends?
• (vs 17b) How is God described? Can you honestly say those words about God? Have you seen God act with this power in your life – resurrect dead things or create something from nothing?
• (vs 18) Use your own words to describe “against all hope”. Why was hoping hard for Abraham? Is hope linked to faith? In what, or whom, do we hope? How reliable is the person, or thing we trust?
• (vs 19) This hope linked to faith allowed Abraham to do what? Have you ever faced something seemingly impossible like Abraham, or are you currently facing a seemingly impossible situation right now? Please describe.
• (vs 20-21) Did doubt ever enter the equation (Gen 17:17)? What alternatives did Abraham have to God’s promises? Abraham didn’t “give in” to unbelief – what does that mean? Instead he strengthened himself in what way? Are we fully persuaded that God has the power to do what he promised – focusing on His qualities and not the “reality” around us? Living in this tension is Paul’s reason for Abraham being declared righteous.
• (vs 23-25) Who is the Abraham’s story for? Is God’s way for saving Abraham any different for us? Paul’s emphasis on the Gospel is for us – our experience of faith isn’t just to get us through a difficult situation, but is integral to the foundation of our relationship with God. Have you seen your relationship with God affected through experiences that test of your faith? Please describe.
3. Take some time at the end to examine yourselves (Ps 139). Is the Holy Spirit highlighting something in your life?
• From Rich’s sermon, are there any women who feel disqualified from the life and promises of God? Any way you feel unable to fully participate in God’s Kingdom purposes.
• Is there any way you’re limiting God? Is there a place in your life where you’re attempting to make-up for something you perceive God lacks?
• Do you fee like your faith is disconnected from any real hope? Has the reality of God’s power and sovereignty been replaced by something else or diminished in any way?
• Do you see yourself wavering in unbelief, as Abraham might have done? Paul indicates there are degrees of faith (vs 19-20) – weak and strong – do you need be strengthen through the touch of the Holy Spirit or deep reminder God’s promises?