Interacting with the Sermon
Synopsis of the Sermon
Rich talks about our destinies – whether or not they are determined by our lives growing up. We read in Proverbs 22:6, “Start children out in the way they should go and when they are old, they will not turn from it.” Many parents are confused by this verse when they seem to do whatever they can to raise their kids right and the kids still make bad choices. The opposite is true as well, often there are amazing men and women who have come from very bad families or had horribly traumatic childhoods. So what does the bible teach us about this proverb? This proverb is a picture of how things generally go – a principle. But it is not a promise. We see in 2 Chronicles that a very good king came from a very evil father. Ahaz did detestable things in the sight of God but his son was a good king who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” (2 Chron27:2)
Rich goes on to teach that our past does have an impact on us; the sins of our parents do cause patterns and wounds that we must heal from. Yet, we have this promise in Christ that those wounds and patterns do not have to be permanent. We can find healing by starting with God and asking Him into every area in our lives. Especially the parts of our lives that we have kept a secret from others. From there, we can pursue true cleansing as we allow God access and rest on the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. We don’t have to live out the script of our family or the script of our pasts. With God, we can have a hope and a future.
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 is your favorite urban legend? Why do you think these types of stories catch on so much?
Read Ezekiel 18 – It’s a whole chapter, so break it up. Reading the entire chapter will give some great perspective on the truths in this text.
- VV. 1-4 (observation) Two fundamental principles are stated in 18:4 in answer to the people’s complaint in 18:2. How would you express these in your own words? (Two principles: 1.Every single soul belongs to God whether they are sinners, repentant, believers or not. 2. Our futures are not determined based on the sins of our parents or sins that have been done to us.) (application) How is this good news for the people in our lives that know Christ and don’t know Him? Have you ever had the opportunity to share this hope with someone who doesn’t know Christ? How did you communicate the truth that they belong to God?
- VV. 5-20 (observation) Is each person responsible to God for his or her own acts alone? (interpretation) What is the purpose of the repetition in this passage? What does the pattern emphasize? (It is a direct confrontation to the idea that our futures are determined by the sins of our parents. It emphasizes that a life can turn around at any point)
- VV. 21-29 (observation) If a person turns from his or her past way of life, will that past effect God’s judgment on him or her? (interpretation) How does this passage reflect both God’s justice and mercy? (application) Read Romans 3:21-26. How has this truth played itself out in your life? If you know Christ, what was your own experience learning this truth? How did it effect the way you lived?
- VV. 30-32 (observation) What is the instruction of these verses? (interpretation) Why do you think the teaching in VV. 21-29 are followed immediately by these instructions? (application) What role does repentance play in a follower of Jesus’ life? Why don’t we live life in whatever way we choose and use repentance as our “get-out-of-jail-free card”?
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.
- (Option One) Take a few minutes to share that we believe God speaks today and can speak to us in pictures or words or verses or crossing thoughts and many other ways. Take a few minutes to wait in silence to allow God to speak and then open it up and ask the group if anyone things they heard something from God that they would like to share with the group. After sharing, break into groups of 2-3 and pray for each other in response to the words, or just in whatever way each individual needs.
This activity taken from Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton
- (Option Two) Try the spiritual practice of the Examen. You can do this in pairs or triads and share your experience with each other afterwards. The leader can walk the whole group through the steps slowly a few times beginning and ending with prayer or one person in the smaller group can direct the others.
- Spend a few moments in silence, becoming aware of God’s presence and love for you.
- Look back at the events of the last 24 hours (or 48 hours or week) and ask God to guide you in seeing what He wants you to see
- As you remember the events of that time period, ask God to show you where he was present with you, even if you weren’t aware of it.
- Ask God to show you the places where you are growing and changing. Thank him for the evidence of his work in your life
- Ask God to show you where you fell short of Christlikeness or where you missed an opportunity to respond to his prompting. Be careful not to succumb to shame or morbid introspection; instead, simply name your failure honestly, confess it to God and receive his forgiveness. (1 John 1:9)
- Finish by thanking God for his presence in your life.