Doubting God’s Power (Isaiah 7:1-14)

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Interacting with the Sermon
Synopsis of the Sermon
      Insoo Kim preached this weekend on doubting (or rather, trusting) in God’s power. The passage from Isaiah begins with King Ahaz “trembling with fear” at impending attacks.  His first response in v. 3 is “to check the city’s water supply”. Insoo made the point – to whom do we go with our first response when we’re desperate, or in need, or afraid? If we believe we are more than mere flesh and blood, being spiritual beings at our core, why do we neglect that reality when in crisis? God reminds Ahaz in v. 7 to trust that God will do what he said he will do because He is Sovereign. When we’re in crisis, we need to recall that God is sovereign. And because our God is a relational God, He asks us to demonstrate our faith in Him and His sovereignty through our active trust. He’s always asking, “Do you trust me”? God’s sign to us of His faithfulness is offering his Son Jesus to us. Let’s not forget God’s sovereign plan through Jesus and that he’s with us to the end of this age.
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 are one or two things from this weekend’s sermon that really stood out to you?
  • What comfort(s) did you use as a child when you felt scared? Why?
  • Share an recent example where you knew you were seeking comfort or reassurance in something other than Jesus, and the Holy Spirit convicted your heart? Please share briefly.
Scripture Study
Study Goal: In his book Finding God, Dr. Larry Crab tries to pull the curtain back on what it means to truly live a life passionately and wholly for God. He’s says, ultimately finding God “means to face all of life, both good and bad, with a spirit of trust. We have a higher calling than finding joy in good things and working through bad things; we must reflect confidence in God in ALL our relationships and activities, in ALLour joys and sorrows. You know you are finding God when you believe that God is good no matter what happens”. The recipe for passionate living is not that complicated. I believe it’s laid out in Scripture, and the Holy Spirit is testifying to it in our lives – if we slow down and we listen. The main ingredient, the “stumbling block” as Crabb puts it, is our trust in God, our trust in His Goodness. He links our comprehension and embrace of God’s Goodness to how severe our trust is of Him.
Context: Look at verses 1 and 13. God uses Jeremiah to prophesy to Judah and Israel who have forsaken Jehovah. They claimed to worship Jehovah, but in practice they worshipped other gods. In the middle of Jeremiah telling Judah about the consequences for their sin, he relates a beautifully profound picture from God contrasting the reality of trusting in God or in His creation.
Read Jeremiah 17:5-8
            5 This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
    and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
    they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
    in a salt land where no one lives.
7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”
  • Begin by observing and considering the pictures – there are 2 plants.  What are their characteristics? What do both pictures have in common and what is different?
  • Which tree’s life is more appealing? Which tree’s pattern do we find ourselves choosing more?
  • Formulaic Christianity says “if I do the right thing God will bless, He’ll watch my back”. But what happens when “all hell breaks lose”? What happens when…
o   Unexplainable, bad things happen…
o   When hardships don’t get resolved
o   Unanswered prayers, years of waiting
o   When I feel threatened, insecure, needing love and not receiving it, no present relief from anger, bitterness, stress, tiredness, boredom…
o   Relationship challenges with your kids, spouse, family members, neighbors, or colleagues linger
o   When things are unfair, you get over-looked, you’re misunderstood, taken for granted, not recognized.
o   What are your responses? What is the alternative for you to trusting in God’s faithfulness and power?
  • v. 5 What are some examples of Trusting in creation, in flesh, In the things of the world? Describe what happens personally when your trust in God leaks?
  • V. 6 “Dwelling in parched places, in a salt land…” – has anyone lived there? Please share how you got there, and what drew you out?
  • Vv.7-8 What is the root’s source of life? How do they reach the stream? There is a reality that we play a part in the “trust” cycle – we need to reach out to the source for our life….Read John 15:1-4, how do you “remain in Christ”? How does that correlate to your active trust in God?
  • V. 8 “…when heat come”, not “…ifheat comes”.  Can you truly live worry free in a year of drought? How so? How have you made it through?
  • Close by reading Psalm 121 (Message version provided) Perhaps when completed – pray out as group in a Spirit of thankfulness for God’s faithfulness…
Psalm 121: A Pilgrim Song
 1-2 I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?
   No, my strength comes from God,
      who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

 3-4 He won’t let you stumble,
      your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
   Not on your life! Israel’s
      Guardian will never doze or sleep.

 5-6 God’s your Guardian,
      right at your side to protect you—
   Shielding you from sunstroke,
      sheltering you from moonstroke.

 7-8 God guards you from every evil,
      he guards your very life.
   He guards you when you leave and when you return,
      he guards you now, he guards you always.

Ministry Application
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.
·      If you’re finding yourself in the desert and feeling like the bush in the wasteland – try to share openly and honestly with a few others about where things are REALLY at.
o   How can you deepen your trust in God? Step 1 – Seek the Holy Spirit. He will focus our blurred vision of God as we pursue a deeper awareness of Christ and ourselves that can mobilize us into a state of spiritual alertness where we can grow in our eagerness to hear the voice of God. Hearing God speak can be one of the most faith building experiences we have. God sees you and knows where you’re at and longs to draw near – we just need to let Him in.
o   Step 2: Strive to recognize that God is good. Or at least good enough. In our own sinfulness we so often subvert God’s goodness, God’s way, for our own way, for own solutions, our own fallen methods. The moment we forget that God is good, we subvert HIS goodness and HIS plans and HIS ways for our own. We stop trusting in him and start trusting in ourselves or other created things. We need to break that cycle and learn to go to God first. When we believe he is good, we will seek Him more. When we seek him more, we’ll see that He’s faithful and, hopefully, those rhythms will increase and intensify.
o   Step 3: Practice Obedience; obedience to God shows that we submitted to his reign in our life and we trust that there is no other way to finding God, to finding peace, to finding love. Flee the enemy and cling to the cross. If there are place in your life where you need to align with God’s authority, confess it to another and seek prayer.
·      If you’re finding yourself in the desert, yet with “green leaves” – be committed to share with others and pray that you can grow in your trust of the Lord, despite what you’re going through. Seek God’s sovereign Hand to pull you out of the draught.
·      If you know of someone else who’s struggling, how might you encourage that person? Seek the Lord and be open to how He might lead you – practically and spiritually.