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SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
In this week’s sermon, pastor Rich emphasizes again that Vineyard Columbus is a “both-and” church. Vineyard reaches out on one hand with the Gospel and a call to conversion and transformation, and with the other hand in practical love and mercy toward the poor and broken world around us. Integral to Jesus’ ministry was the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. For our church to reach out effectively with both “hands”, we need the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Do we long for more of Him? Do we cry out for the Spirit’s presence in our lives? Rich shared some powerful stories encouraging us how we can bring Good News for the poor, but we also need to regularly receive the Good News by making room for God in our lives. Part of this Good News is freedom, both-and freedom from material and spiritual oppression.
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.Can you think of a particular value you once had (or didn’t have) that was radically changed one you met Jesus, or encountered the Bible? Please Share.
2.Can anyone share a story from the last week or two where you were able to demonstrate the Gospel’s Good News to someone? Please share.
3.When was the last time you were amazed, or really “struck”, by what someone did as an act of love toward someone else? How did it make you feel? How did you see the Good News expressed within that act? Please share briefly.
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 Isaiah 58:
1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. 2 For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. 3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. 12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 14 then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
•As we read in verse 3, what are the people of Israel complaining about? According to them, why was God ignoring them? However, in verses 1 – 4, God asks Isaiah to speak loudly against the Israelites’ rebellion and sin. What was God referring to?
•Have you ever been in a place in your life in which you blame your circumstances on other people, but when you took a look into your own heart, you realized you were the one at fault? How does this compare to what the Israelites were doing? Have the things you value ever taken precedence over the things that God values? Briefly share.
•In verse 4 God says to the people of Israel: “You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high”. What is the change that God is asking for? Does that change come from religious activity or from a transformation of the mind and heart? Who is the source of this change in our life? Ask for someone in the group to share their experience in this transformation process.
•How many actions does God refer to in verses 6 through 7? Why is doing these things more pleasing to God than what the Israelites were doing? Briefly share.
•Why does God ask us to focus on others? Does God call us to be people that hoard his presence and his goodness and mercy just for ourselves? Or does he ask us to share him with others? Talk about your experiences of sharing God with others, whether through words or through actions.
•Have you ever “spent” yourself in behalf of anybody else? What do you think the author meant in verse 10 by using those words (“spend yourself”)? How then, should we live our lives?
•Go back to verse 2 and read it one more time. What is the missing element that displeases God in this description of the Israelites (action vs. only appearance)?
•Considering that God didn’t respond to the Israelites’ fasting because for them it was only about “appearance”, what should our attitude / heart be as we serve others and “spend ourselves” for them? Is there a danger in serving others for the wrong reasons?
•According to verse 8, what is the result of a life not only “spent” on God, but at the same time “spent” on others? What is the relationship between these two things? Briefly share.
•Read through verses 8 – 14. What would your life today look like if what is said in these verses were true of your life? What would your small group today look like, if this were true of your group? Of the Church? Briefly share.
3.Take verses 2, 6 and 7 from Isaiah 58, and put them together as God’s description of who he wants you to be. Fill in the blanks with your name or the name of your small group:
“For day after day ______ seeks me out; ______ is eager to know my ways, does what is right and has not forsaken my commands. ______ asks me for just decisions and is eager for me to come near him/her. ______ loosens the chains of injustice and unties the cords of the yoke, sets the oppressed free and breaks every yoke. ______ shares his/her food with the hungry and provides the poor wanderer with shelter – when he/she sees the naked, he/she clothes them, and he/she does not turn away from his/her own flesh and blood.”
In Rich’s sermon there were some exhortations to cry out for the Spirit, to make room for the Holy Spirit and for God to bring you freedom. Does that resonate with you? When was the last time you encountered the Holy Spirit in a real way that altered how you did life, or brought freedom and relief in a much needed area…invite the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to any area of oppression
Additional things to pray for as a group or individually:
•Pray that God would give vision to your group for how you can bring Good News to the poor around you. Ask that God would give something specific for your group.
•Ask for more of the Holy Spirit to reveal how you can bring Good News to people you see every day. Pray that your ears and hearts would be open to His leading as you live your normal life. What might He say? What might He want you to do or say?
Small Group Leaders, We Need Your Help!!!
For Lent this year, we are doing a sermon series entitled, “40 Days of Drawing Near to Jesus” where we will be studying the various spiritual disciplines found in the book of Luke, which we hope will help all of us draw near to Jesus. And for Easter weekend, we wanted to do something really special and have live cardboard testimonies as part of our worship time during our services.
If you don’t know what a cardboard testimony is, please click on this link to see an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvDDc5RB6FQ
Here is where we need your help. We are looking for about 100 people from our congregation who would be willing to share a cardboard testimony during our worship time in one of our Easter weekend services (25 people at each of our 4 services). We would like to ask if you would consider having your whole small group (or even just a few people) participate in this together. This would be a great opportunity for your small group to serve together in our church. And it would also be a chance to share the amazing Jesus stories of the people in your small group with our church.
We would like to encourage you to pray about this and talk with your small group and see if this is something that you might want to do together.
Here is one thing you can try: For worship time during your small group, show the video that I referenced above. And then you can ask people to share their own testimonies (just on a sheet of paper) during worship time. And if this is something that was meaningful for the group, you might ask if this is something that your whole group would do together on Easter (in front of 3000 people) to celebrate together what Jesus has done in our midst.
If your group is willing and able to help out in this way, can you please respond back to us at your earliest convenience and let us know how many people from your group will share a cardboard testimony on Easter? As noted above, we are looking for about 100 people.
We would appreciate it if you can respond back to us with the number of people from your small group who will be participating by 3/11/2011.
To respond, please contact Miriam Gray at 614-259-5235 or Miriam.Gray@vineyardcolumbus.org.