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INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
Pastor Rich preached a response to this belief – “God will grant financial success to all believers who have enough faith”. Pastor Rich asked – Is this belief true? Is that what God promises in the Bible? He went on to say, we do want to always affirm the goodness of God and God’s desire to be good to people. Expectant faith regarding God’s desire to answer our prayers is healthy and biblical. But often these messages become distorted, especially when preached to the poor. Instead, what is often quoted and preached is a “misunderstanding” of scripture. The result is that “the American dream” becomes the lens through which many prosperity preachers use to interpret the biblical promises and texts. Additionally, prosperity teachings alone turn God into a “vending machine”, vastly reducing any serious understanding of suffering. For biblical teachers, there are many warnings against using the Gospel for personal gain. For the church, we need to learn contentment, guard against covetousness, know the warnings concerning wealth, and embrace God’s purposes for money and possessions.
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.
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.
•What do you think of when you think of God’s goodness? What tangible effect does his blessing bring?
•What would you think if you saw a pastor driving an Escalade or S-class Mercedes? What other sorts of “oxy-morons” exist in the church today?
•What’s your philosophy on being content with/in life, yet not becoming complacent or immobile? How do you reconcile those two impulses?
Read Luke 16:10-31:
10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.
16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and people are forcing their way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.
18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
•Do you agree with the statement made by Jesus in verse 10? Why or why not? Have you ever seen it played out? Briefly share.
•In verse 11 we find a contrast between “worldly wealth” and “true riches”. What do you think each of those is? According to this verse, do “worldly riches” even belong to us? How should we treat them? Explain.
•What are your thoughts regarding verse 13? Have you ever experienced this in your own life? Jesus uses the word “serve” in this statement. Have you ever caught yourself “serving” money? What does that look like? How can we break away from being under the slavery of money? How is serving God different than serving money? Briefly share.
•In verse 18, Jesus addresses the issue of divorce, which at first sight seems to have nothing to do with the topic at hand. Why do you think Jesus does this? Is it possible that he’s comparing divorce and adultery to serving other idols instead of serving God? How do these things compare? Explain.
•What was the attitude of the rich man towards the beggar in the parable found in verses 19 through 31? According to the Scripture we’ve read, what should have been the rich man’s attitude instead? Is there such a thing as sins of omission? What are some things in our lives that we should be doing yet we aren’t? How do we compare to that rich man? What are the “riches” in our lives that we could be sharing? Briefly share.
•How do the things we do in this life have in impact on the next life? How then should we manage the “worldly riches” that are placed under our care? Briefly share. (Remind the group of Paul’s teaching of grace + faith ALONE = salvation, and not by works).
•Compare the result of the rich man’s life to that of Lazarus’. What does the rich man discover in verses 23 through 31? What does he ask of Abraham? What does this tell you of our responsibility in this life towards those around us? How can we serve God in regards to our interactions with the people that surround us? How can we be good managers of what God has given us? Briefly share.
Below you’ll see some options for ministry time with your group. We always encourage you to reserve time in your group to pray for one another and wait on the Holy Spirit.
•Take time to meditate on your responsibility as managers of God’s property. Are you being a good steward of your money, time, and possessions? What are some of the things we could be doing to become better stewards according to the understanding that we are to use our “worldly wealth” for God’s purposes? As a small group, how can we share this “wealth” with our community?
•Take time to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any idols or “masters” in your life that you need to turn away from. Confess them to your peers and ask for prayer to break their power over your life and to re-establish God as your only Master.
•Pray that God gives you more of His heart for those around you.