SERMON SERIES: HALF TRUTHS
WEEK 1: EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON
(Seven Questions HMC study for the week of 26 June to 2 July 2017)
ICE BREAKER: Think back to a time these words were said to you. What emotions did they evoke in you? In your heart of hearts was it a helpful encounter given the circumstances?
Focus Scripture Passages: Deuteronomy 30:19-20a; Mark 12:1-12
OVERVIEW: We live in a world in which we experience cause and effect. “Everything happens for a reason” is a true saying if speaking in the context that actions come with consequences. However, we use it often in a response to suffering. In this case it can be very hurtful and in turn raises so many other questions. Let’s discover some helpful truths together…
- If “Everything Happens for a Reason”, Adam Hamilton raises some questions of responsibility:
- a) Personal – we can eliminate our personal responsibility for our actions because it was always part of God’s will?
- b) God’s – God is responsible for everyone’s actions, including every terrible thing that happens?
- c) Fatalism & Indifference – If it’s all part of God’s plan it was meant to be, we are powerless to change it?
What implications are suggested by each critique and do they make sense to you?
- A 4th critique is the shared belief in God’s Providence & Sovereignty – however we interpret these concepts in different ways. Some view God as a micromanager, intimately involved in every detail of the world. While others view God as having a hands off approach, like an absent landlord who created and stepped back. What is your view? Discuss with your group.
- John Calvin (1509 – 1564) taught predestination – God has predetermined everything that happens, even before we are born. John Wesley taught that God wills all humanity to be saved. Through Prevenient Grace (in which God goes before) God works in human beings to make it possible to respond to God’s love and mercy. We can choose to accept or reject this. Discuss your thoughts on these two theological standpoints.
- Adam Hamilton writes that “God remains sovereign but has given us the responsibility to rule over this planet on his behalf.” We are free to make the choices we do. In the parable of the tenants we see that humans are the tenants farming God’s earth. We are free to make choices understanding that we are responsible for those choices. How does this help you to understand the impact of choosing a path of choice?
- “I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, but sometimes there is a reason that things happen when we are attentive to God’s mission. I think God uses us and works through us as we exercise dominion in the world. When we engage ourselves in God’s rule, as we are meant to, we find joy…. God is neither the micromanager… nor the absent landlord. These ideas are both half truths. The deeper truth, I believe, lies somewhere in between.” What do you think is the ‘in-between’ place?
- Romans 8:28 reads, “We know that God works all things together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Is Paul saying that everything happens for a reason, or that it’s all part of God’s will or plan? Why or why not?
- TRUTH NUGGET: Terrible things happen from time to time. But even in the midst of these things God has a way of forcing good to come from tragedy or suffering when we trust him with it. As you look back on your life how have you seen painful experiences bring about something good and beautiful as you’ve trusted God? How have these experiences made you the person you are today?
Light a candle as a symbol of Christ’s presence in your midst.
Matthew 12:36 says: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgement.”
May our words this week build up not destroy, may we stay in a prayerful mode and mood; blessing as we go. Billy Graham once said “ Each of us has a tongue and a voice. These instruments of speech can be used destructively or employed constructively. “
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 says : We proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.
The above was written by Paul and reflects words of a “man”. Do we expect a man’s man to speak words of gentleness and use images of nursing mothers and children? Let’s put aside violence and fighting spirits and portray a kindred spirit – more like Paul and less like the hate of the world.
Please pray for :
- Aids pandemic
- The education system and the possible reduction of pass rate levels
- The Tanzanian quake – for the families affected by this tragedy
- Corruption in the police force
- The Hout bay protests
- Safety on our roads
Psalm 46:1. Proverbs 16:32