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INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
In this week’s sermon Andrew Oswalt challenged us to take our ordinary ambitions and discontent and make them extraordinary by turning them over to God and becoming ambitious and restless for His Kingdom to come. He told the story of Abimelech and the people of Shechem, whose discontent and ungodly ambition lead to the killing of thousands of innocent people. Are we much different then Abimelech? Do we rely on our own instincts and abilities to pursue are own desires? Are we restless over our current circumstances? God desires us to be content in all circumstances. To hand over our ambitions and to take up the cause of Christ; Andrew reminded us that it is never to late to turn towards God and ask for His heart for the world.
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.
•Can you share something from Andrew’s sermon that had particular impact on you? Did you feel like you could identify with any of his challenges about discontentment or ungodly ambition?
•Think about less-than-desirable situations in your life where you do feel content.
Ask yourself: are you content, or are you only resigned to the way things are? Do
you believe God can still change the situation?
One point from the sermon was the discontentment of the people of Shechem and of Abimelek and the lack of truth and integrity in pursuit of their own ambitions. What if instead we were restless for the things that God was restless for? What if our hearts broke for the things that break God’s heart and not for the things that we can store up for our own? God wants us to have lives filled with the longings of His heart and to pursue those things with integrity and character. In this study we will discuss what it means to lay hold of contentment and rid our lives of discontentment.
Read Luke 12: 13-34 (***consider deleting the scripture text to reduce printing pages)
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[a]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
•Where did the rich man’s thoughts go in verse 17 when he was presented with a greater crop than he needed? Were his established riches enough for him? What would a “contented response” have looked like for this rich man?
•In verse 20, God appeals to the unavoidable nature of death to show how fragile our “ownership” of our possessions is. Note all the uses of “I” and “my” in verses 17-19 – how does the rich man’s wrong idea about him “owning” things feed his greed? Do you think discontentment arises when we attach a strong sense of personal ownership to our possessions? Why or why not?
•In verse 21, Jesus finds the rich man guilty of not being “rich toward God.” Notice here, Jesus does not actually decry being rich. Based on verses 22-28, where do we learn how to be “rich toward God?”
•Why is there a passage (vv. 22-34) about worry after a passage on coveting and greed (vv. 15-21)? What is the connection here? What is at the heart of greed?
•Imagine holding a beloved object in your hand. How does your hand hold that object if you’re following God and truly understanding Him? With an open hand, or with a closed hand? (vv. 29-30)
•Look at verse 32. What does Jesus seem most concerned that we have? What happens if we try to fit the kingdom of God inside of our pursuit of material things, and not the other way around, as Jesus commands in verse 31?
•Finally, note verse 34. Which item does this verse imply that we have the most control over – our heart or what we treasure? What does it mean to “treasure” something?
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.
•For ministry time, pray that God would grant the freedom and understanding
to seek His kingdom first over your “treasures.” Spend some time reflecting on
“treasures” by asking some questions and listening to the Lord in response.