(Seven Questions HMC study for the week of 13th – 19th August 2018)
FOCUS SCRIPTURE PASSAGE/S: READ John 11:1-27
Some Context: Mary and Martha lived in Bethany. Previously Mary had anointed Jesus’ feet with oil. Now their brother Lazarus ill and they send for Jesus. Then he dies, and Jesus raises him from the dead. The story is not so much about Lazarus but about those who have to live with death, in this case Mary and Martha. This time in anyone’s life can leave us with the “Lord, if you had been there…” questions in our lives. Resurrection didn’t start with Jesus – it goes back as far as the book of Daniel (12:2) – it was a belief, and idea, held by the Pharisee’s of the day but not a reality. The Greek word for believe is ‘pisteuo’, which also means ‘trust.’ Resurrection has now become a reality – belief becomes a matter of trust.
1. Why do you think the raising of Lazarus caused so much alarm for the Jewish religious leaders, so much so that not only was Jesus a wanted man but so was Lazarus (see 12:9-11)?
2. Facing death, particularly for the first time, can raise many questions and fears. Share how such a time in your life impacted your understanding of God?
3. As with all the I AM sayings Jesus is in conversation with someone. Knowing what led him to Bethany and the conversation with Mary, what do you think Jesus wanted Mary to feel and know?
4. Read verses 25-26 again and this time replace the word ‘believe’ with ‘trust’. Does this give you a new insight? If so, what? – share your thoughts.
5. Karl Barth likens his relationship with God to a person who rings the bell in the village. If you lose your balance and fall into the abyss catching the rope will result in a loud gong shattering the silence of the still night – in times of desperation we can still reach out and discover the sureness of God’s presence. Have you ever put your trust in God in a way that feels like clinging to a rope?
6. Think about the difference between Lazarus and Jesus. Lazarus was brought back to this life. Jesus was raised to a resurrected life. What is the difference between resuscitation and resurrection to you?
7. In your faith journey have you experienced letting go or ‘death’ in order for God to give you new life? Share with our group.
Light a candle as a symbol of Christ’s presence in your midst.
At one point in time the nation of Israel wandered in the wilderness. They always carried the ARK with them. Before they moved it- they always prayed: “Rise up Oh Lord! Let Your enemies be scattered. Let those who hate you flee before You.” There were always dangers when they travelled and they needed God’s mercy. We still live in a hostile world and so we need God to go before us. What’s more important than physical safety is the guidance of God making our path straight for us.
• Pray that God goes before us in South Africa, that He will claim South Africa back, and remove evil and crime so that this Nation may be an example to the world of His miraculous power.
• Pray for all corruption to be rooted out, for a great light to shine on all the dark deeds so that they may no longer be hidden.
• Pray for an end to racism, pray that we will only see each other as God’s Children.
• Pray that Christians all over South Africa, will feel God’s spirit upon them and hear His voice of guidance as to how we can each play a roll, big or small, to build a Godly nation.
• Pray that our Church leaders will band together to speak out against injustice and work as one, across the divides of denomination, to be a Godly power for miraculous change in our Country.
(Seven Questions HMC study for the week of 6th – 12th August 2018)
FOCUS SCRIPTURE PASSAGE/S: READ John 14:1-14
Some Context: This verse has probably been the source of much controversy for centuries. On a first read it can imply intolerance and be used to invalidate other faith beliefs. We will journey together some more on this through the questions below. Let’s understand that Jesus was talking to his disciples – and not a great crowd that included people of other faiths or religions. They’d shared the last supper together and Jesus had just delivered some very hard news. Jesus is offering a picture of heaven in this passage.
1. This scripture is often used at a funeral or memorial service to offer comfort to the grieving family. “Rooms, dwelling places or mansions” – the word is the noun form of “abide” – think about last week’s message. Knowing the conversation that preceded Jesus saying these words, “I AM the way, the truth and the life” how does it shape your understanding of this I AM statement?
2. Some more context: Johns’ Gospel was written at a time of great tension between the Jews and the Christians. Christians has also become a target for persecution in Rome. Do you think John’s intention could be been used to help Christ-followers be certain and assured of their faith and connection to Christ? Why or why not?
3. The next part of verse 6 – “no one comes to the Father except through me” still appears to be an exclusive statement. Debates about what “makes Christianity Distinctive?” tend to rage on. CS Lewis offers an answer – “It’s grace” If we think of this in the light of our salvation does it change the way you think of this verse? How or why not?
4. The name Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) means “God is salvation.” What do you think of this statement: “Jesus is Jesus because he is the embodiment of a grand truth – God is Salvation. Jesus came to live out that truth and provide a way for us to experience it. That way is a way of grace and truth.”?
5. What do these words from John’s Gospel, that provide us with a pattern for living, mean for us today if we are to be embracing and accepting followers of Christ? If Jesus is our pattern for living, then how can we do this? What are ‘ways of being’ as a Christian that can be life-giving for us and others?
6. What is the difference between a church that focuses on helping people know Jesus versus a church that focuses on making people members? Which church is HMC and what part do you play?
7. The disciples made Jesus a way of life. How do you make Jesus a way of life in your ordinary living. What does it look like for you?
Light a candle as a symbol of Christ’s presence in your midst.
1 Samuel 3: 10 “Speak for your servant hears.” If we want to know the heart of God, we need to be “still’ and hear Him. If we want to know God’s will for our country, we need to be still and hear Him. He will then give us clear guidance for the way forward.
Mother Teresa once said: “Listen in silence, because if your heart is full of other things you cannot hear the voice of God. When you have listened to the voice of God in the stillness of your heart, then your heart is filled with God.”
• Give thanks for the rain in the Cape!!
• Pray for Wisdom and fairness in the land issue as 139 farms are expropriated, pray that food security for our nation is the most important factor in these decisions.
• Pray for our rangers in all our parks, as they risk their lives to protect our incredible heritage. Pray for their safety and pray for continued success in arresting poachers
• Pray for our education system, for teachers that are truly called to the profession
• Pray for Eskom. Pray against intimidation of workers, pray for a resolution to the current crises.
We have a new course starting tomorrow evening – TUESDAY 7 AUGUST – Reverend Peter Crundwell will be leading a new 5-week course called METHODISM ~ EMPIRE OF THE SPIRIT, where he will explore Methodism’s phenomenal growth around the world and some of the reasons for its wide-ranging appeal.
Meet in the hall, 5:30pm to 6:30pm. ALL WELCOME.