Interacting with the Sermon
Synopsis of the Sermon
Andy began by telling everyone about his life in Central Asia and how the government would decide the prices and distribution of goods. Often it wasn’t fair and didn’t make sense and so two parallel economies developed. The parable of the Unrighteous Steward shows this kind of parallel economies. In most of Jesus’ teaching there are many paradoxes in his Kingdom such as “the greatest among you must become a slave.” In other words, many of the ways that God’s Kingdom operates is not the ways or values of our life here on earth. That can make us uncomfortable. Understanding parables like this one is very difficult and we should take our time to practice good interpretation of scripture. We need to take the time to interpret scripture in light of other scripture and also in light of the context of the scripture. (To go deeper with this, Wednesday (July 24, 2013) night at the church from 7-9pm Maggie Baxter is teaching a workshop on interpreting scripture.)
Andy then unpacks the parable for us and shows us how Jesus is encouraging “shrew” behavior, in other words, wise and creative behavior that promotes the economy of God’s Kingdom rather then this world’s kingdom. The economy of God’s Kingdom prioritizes relationships. It also prioritizes the least, the last and the lost. And God’s Kingdom prioritizes the coming Kingdom. And we are called to invest in this Kingdom. We are called to invest our time, talent and “treasure” – in other words our personal resources. We are called to invest shrewdly, or creatively and wisely which requires us to be intentional and thoughtful about how we are going to invest in God’s Kingdom. We are called to invest faithfully and with a view to our eternal home – which is In God’s Kingdom, fully come, here on earth.
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 were your thoughts/feelings about this parable before hearing Andy’s sermon? Was it confusing? Encouraging? Did you ever pay attention to it before now?
Context: Hebrews 11 is often called “the hall of faith” where the writer goes through several people in the Old Testament that exemplified faith. The writer of Hebrews begins, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (NRSV). Person after person is commended for their faith. Ultimately, all of these people from the Old Testament scriptures died before they saw the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises but that didn’t change the fact that they had radical faith.
Read Hebrews 11:1-16
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
Try to do this study beginning with breaking into small groups of 2-3 to do the first question. Have each mini group take a person. Or if your group is smaller, discuss each person in detail with the whole group. You want to take your time with this question and really pull out the reasons these men were commended for their faith. If your group really likes this activity, and have time, feel free to address the others later in the chapter in vv. 23-39. You can even have groups who take a specific person look back at scriptures concerning each of them. (Abel: Gen 4:1-16, Enoch: Gen 5:18-24, Noah: Gen 6-9, Abraham: Gen 12:1-9, 15, 17, 18:1-15 & 21:1-7)
- (VV. 1-12) Observation: Who were the people mentioned to have faith? Why was their faith commended? Review the details of each person mentioned. What does this teach me I need to desire if my life is to please God?
- (VV. 7-16) Observation/Interpretation: To what should faith in God pay attention, and what does it’s full expression involve? Where is the crowning fulfillment of our hopes to be enjoyed? (specifically look at vv. 10 &14-16)
- Application: How should such awareness affect my present outlook, action and attitude to life?
- Interpretation/Application: What are the ways faith is more challenging for us in our time and culture now? In what ways is faith easier for us then for those in the Old Testament or in the first century?
- Application: How can we in community inspire and encourage faith in each other?
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 wait on the Lord. Invite God to speak and ask for the ability to hear. Share in the group any thoughts, words, pictures, verses, etc. that people have had. Ask if the words apply to anyone specifically or if necessary ask if anyone in the group has an interpretation of the word. Pray for those that felt like the words were for them.
- Break into groups of two (coed, men with men and women with women this time, just in case) and share something in your life that you need faith for right now. Pray for the gift of faith for each other.