Interacting with the Sermon
Synopsis of the Sermon
Rich began a new sermon series titled “I Believe” as a commencement to the season of Lent- a tradition of the Christian church calendar going back to the early church. During the Lenten season, Christians historically take this time to prepare one’s self for Easter and for the Holy Week by fasting and performing other forms of abstinence such as 40-days of abstaining from coffee, social media, or even fasting from meals on certain days of the week. This is a season of “spiritual spring-cleaning” that by abstaining from one activity we subsequently are able to make space in our lives for more of God. In place of a weekly meal, we pray…in place of facebook, we read a Psalm…in place of our Saturday morning sleep-in, we serve at the Fruit of the Vine Food Pantry. You get the idea! This is an opportunity for our church to grow closer to Jesus as a whole!
This week’s sermon “I Believe in God” was titled after the first lines of the Apostle’s Creed that begins “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth…” Rich made the distinction between what it means to simply believe that God exists vs. to actually believe IN God. Believing in God means you trust that the God of the Bible is who He says He is, you trust Him with your life, and you are committed to Him. Today we are going to talk more about what it means to believe in God.
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?
- Describe a time when you trusted someone’s word and they came through for you. How did you learn from that process?
Study Goal: The purpose of this study is to be encouraged by the words of Jesus to believe in Him. By the end of this study, your group will have discussed what it means to trust and commit to Jesus and how to help one another overcome obstacles that may prevent you from fully committing to Christ as your Savior.
Context: Jesus enters the world during the time when Israel was still in exile, Roman’s occupied the land, and they were crying out to God for His final freedom. Israel was not flowing with milk and honey and the people were crying out to God for His final judgement and for a new heavens and a new earth. This is the setting where we find Jesus. John very openly admits to writing his account “so that you may believe” that Jesus is the Savior for not only the Jews but the entire world (John 20:31). But we find by this gospel that Jesus urges His followers to believe even when they do not fully understand or see the completion of His work during their lifetime. This passage we are about to read is at the height of turmoil in Jesus ministry- He is talking with His disciples one last time before His crucifixion.
Read John 14: 1-14
- (vs 1-4) Jesus begins this passage with “Do not let your hearts be troubled” and goes on to describe the plans He has. Why were the disciples’ hearts troubled? How were Jesus’ plans intended to soothe their fears?
- (vs. 5-10) First century Jews had a working understanding of who the “Father” was but depended on God’s law to guarantee their salvation. They also looked to the Christ to bring salvation from their current situation. How does Jesus explain and connect the relationship between God the Father and God the Son?
- (vs 11) Jesus urges the disciples twice to “believe” yet, they had been living with Jesus already for nearly 3-years, following Him from town to town and obeying His teachings. They had seen miracles performed- blind received sight, lame walked, and the dead were even brought to life! What deeper convictions is Jesus urging the disciples towards that they do not yet have already?
- (vs 12) Jesus clearly indicates that He will be going away “to the Father” for awhile but then goes on to state that He “will do” anything you ask for in His name? These words indicate that Jesus would still be alive and powerful even though He would be away from them. How would this new understanding of Jesus’ continued power and new understanding that He would continue living in relationship to not only the Father but also with them subsequently effect how they were to live their lives?
- Because 21st Century Christians believe that Jesus continues to have the same life, power, and relationship to the Father that He claimed to have 2,000 years ago, how ought this to effect the way we live our everyday lives?
Read John 20: 24-29
- Why might it have been hard for Thomas to believe the testimony of the other disciples?
- (vs 28) What did the resurrection prove about Jesus?
- (vs 29) Who Is Jesus referring to when He states, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
- People that try to reason themselves into believing in God often find it difficult without experiencing a relationship with God or having a Holy Spirit encounter with God. Just as Jesus showed his hands and side to Thomas, how might we Christians serve to reveal God and help others to believe in Him?
- We live in a world where God is still bringing His redemptive power and so, for so many things there is a “Now and Not Yet” tension. For somethings, we see God doing so much good now and for other things we have not yet seen Him fix yet, Jesus says we are blessed if we believe even if we have not yet seen. In what ways do you feel God is urging you to believe in areas where you have not yet seen?
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.
- The Vineyard Columbus Family is taking on the 40-Day “I Was a Stranger” Challenge during the Lenten season as a way of committing to pray for our immigrant neighbors and read scripture daily that explores God’s perspective on immigration. Consider committing to this as a small group.
- Some of your hearts strongly resonated to the suggestion of a “spiritual spring-cleaning.” Ask the Lord to speak to you on how you might fast during this season by putting Him in place of something else in your life.
- Some of us still struggling with completely trusting God with our whole lives -past, present, and future. If you struggle with trusting God fully, ask someone to pray for you.