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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Day 5: Fish & Sea Creatures (Gen. 1:20-23)

Day 5: Fish & Sea Creatures (Gen. 1:20-23)
           
God gives abundant evidence for his existence and what he is like in the things he has made:
  1. Abundant evidence on Day 5
  2. What do people do with the evidence?
  3. Seeing and helping others see with new eyes
Summary: Creation is not only a theater designed to showcase the drama of redemption but a vast laboratory filled with evidence for us to investigate.  God created with great variety (displaying his infinite wisdom) and quantity (displaying his infinite power).  The evidence is thick. The question is what will people do with the evidence? We have closed both books on God and are therefore liable to his wrath and judgment.  But God provided a wrath-absorbing gift of grace when he sent Jesus to be received by faith.  When we receive him by faith, God no longer counts the abundant evidence of our rebellion against us and we get to live the rest of our lives enjoying peace with God and seeing (and helping others see) the world through new eyes.

Main Point:  God wants us to know that he created birds and sea creatures with great variety and quantity in order show us more about himself.

Discussion Questions:
  • Thinking about God's work in Gen. 1 in general and Day 5 in particular, how has God provided abundant evidence not only for his existence but also what he is like?   
  • What is the operating assumption that Christians should come with as they investigate the world?  Why is it so important to start with that assumption?
  • According Romans 1-2, what have people done with the abundant evidence God has provided with the result that they are liable to God's wrath?
  • How has God made a way for us to be justified even though the evidence is stacked against us? (Cf. Rom. 1:16-13; 3:21-26; 5:1)
Application Questions:
  • What ways am I closing God's books and resisting God's efforts to speak to my heart and lead me in his ways? 
  • What truths in the sermon did God help me see afresh or for the first time and who can I can help to see and be refreshed by these truths?  
Prayer Points:
  • Confess ways you've been resisting God's efforts to speak to your heart and lead you in his ways
  • Praise God for giving Jesus to us as a wrath-absorbing gift of grace so that we can be justified in his sight despite the overwhelming evidence against us
  • Praise God for giving us new eyes so that we can see the evidence and then learn and experience more of what it means to glorify and enjoy God
  • Ask to help us see and help others see his world with new eyes

Day 4: Lights: Sun, Moon, Stars (Gen. 1:14-19)

Day 3: Lights: Sun, Moon, Stars (Gen. 1:14-19)
           
Three Reasons God created the lights:
  1. To give us powerful reminders of his holiness
  2. To give us natural rhythms to reflect his holiness
  3. To light up the stage for God to personally display his holiness
Summary: God created the sun, moon, and stars with great purposes in mind.  God set them in the sky and ordered them to rule over day and night and thus serve as very physical reminders and tangible signs that witness to the fact that God is holy.  God used these same lights to help organize time and seasons thus providing natural rhythms to our lives as we seek to reflect his holiness.  But of course our lives are out of rhythm and we have not reflected his holiness; therefore, God came to the very stage that he lit up with these lights in order to personally display his Light in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. 

Main Point:  God wants us to know that he purposely created the lights by His powerful Word.

Discussion Questions:
  • What do the sun and the moon serve as tangible reminders of? (cf. 1 John 1:5)
  • How did the sun and the moon provide natural rhythms for the life of worship among the people of Israel?  What are some of the patterns of worship in the life of a new covenant believer?  
  • How did God personally display his holiness on the world's stage? (cf. 1 John 1:5; John 8:12; 12:36; cf. Psalm 8 and how it is quoted in Hebrews 2:5-11).
  • Why is it so hope-giving that there is a Light that will outlast and outshine the lights? (Isa. 60:19-20; 30:26; Rev. 21:23; 22:5)
  • Read & Discuss how the following texts both instruct us and give us hope: Matt: 5:14; Eph. 5:8; Phil. 2:15; Prov. 4:18; Matt. 13:43.
Application Questions:
  • What rhythms of worship am I utilizing and which ones am I neglecting?  How is this effecting my relationship with God and what changes should be made?
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for personally displaying his holiness by sending the Light into the world
  • Praise that we will shine like the sun in his kingdom soon and very soon
  • Ask God to help us consistently implement rhythms  that will help us reflect his holiness in our lives in a way that will cause us to shine the light of Christ brighter and brighter

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Day 3: Dry Land and Vegetation (Gen. 1:9-13)

Day 3: Dry Land and Vegetation (Gen. 1:9-13)
           
God's Work on Day 3:
  • The description of God causing the earth to appear and sprout on Day 3
  • The significance of God causing the earth to appear and sprout on Day 3  
Summary: On Day 2 God created the Sky by holding back the waters.  Now on Day 3 God is going to push aside the lower waters and raise the land from the deeps by the power of his Word.  But God doesn't there, he also causes the earth to sprout and flourish.  All of this took place on the 3rd Day.

Main Point:  God wants us to know that he caused the earth to appear then sprout with great variety and fruitfulness by his powerful Word.

Discussion Questions:
  • What does it tell us about God that he didn't just raise up the earth but he also caused it to sprout and flourish? 
  • What do we learn about seeds from 1:11-12? How does Paul pick up on this seed language in 1 Cor. 15:35-58?
  • What must happen before we bear fruit in our lives (see John 12:23-24; 32-33; 3:14-16; 6:44; John 15:1-5; cf. Phil. 1:9-11)?
Application Questions:
  • God is glorified in our fruitfulness.  What are areas in your life that you need God to prune you in order that you might bear more fruit for his glory?
  • How effect should the following fact have on you as a Christ follower: when you die, you will be planted into the ground like a weak seed but sprout gloriously at Christ's return when you are raised with an imperishable, immortal, spiritual body like Jesus?  
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for sending his Son to die and be planted in the grave like a seed so that through his powerful resurrection we might be raised with him to live fruitful lives for his glory
  • Praise God for the hope of the resurrection
  • Ask God to prune us and help us bear maximal fruit as we await the return of Christ

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Day 2: Sky to Separate the Waters (Gen. 1:6-8)

Day 2: Sky to Separate the Waters (Gen. 1:6-8)
           
God's Work on Day 2:
  • The description of God creating the expanse on Day 2 (God speaks, God makes, God names)
  • The significance of God creating the expanse on Day 2 
Summary: God's initial creation was characterized by barrenness and darkness.  The darkness problem was solved when the Light shined on Day 1.  But what about the barrenness problem, that is, the lingering fact that the earth was still "without form and void"? God's work on Day 2 was a massive preliminary step in solving the problem, for it was on Day 2 that God created the Sky by holding back the waters.  The description of God's work on Day 2 is powerful and the significance of this work is breathtaking. 

Main Point:  God wants us to know that he made the sky by holding back the waters by his Word.

Discussion Questions:
  • What is the most basic common denominator in God's work each day of the creation week? (see Gen. 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24-26).  How should the apostle John's description of the Word in John 1:1-5 shape who we think about God speaking throughout Genesis 1? (cf. Col. 1:16b and Heb. 1:1-3). 
  • Discuss this statement: "In the context of Genesis 1, God speaking is God making."  (cf. Ps. 33:6; 148:4-5; Heb. 11:3)   
  • What is the expanse? What are the waters below? What are the waters above?
  • Would there be any reason that God would stop holding back the waters? (6:5-8, 9-14a)
  • What would happen if God did release the waters? (see Gen. 6:17-22; 7:1, 4-5, 11-12, 20-24; 8:1-2; 20-22; 9:1, 8-17)
  • What should the release and holding back of these waters teach us in our day (see 2 Pet. 3:1-15)
Application Questions:
  • What would be a fitting, worshipful response to the fact that I was saved before God's coming judgment (fire) all because God is actively, mercifully and patiently holding back the waters?
  • How should God's patience in temporarily holding back his judgement on unbelievers shape the way that I live the Christian life and interact with unbelievers? 
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for his patience which accounts for how you and others were able to be saved
  • Praise God that you are not destined for wrath, but to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ
  • Ask God to help us, his people, live holy and godly lives as we await the return of Christ

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Day 1: Light Shines (Gen. 1:3-5)

OutlineDay 1: Light Shines (Gen. 1:3-5):
           
God's word is powerful: "and there was light"(v.3)
  • God's delight in the light (v.4a)
  • God's desire to distinguish light from Darkness (v.4b-5a)
  • God's will for light to overcome darkness (v.5b)
Summary: We have seen that the condition of God's initial creation was characterized by barrenness and darkness, an intentional foreshadowing of the condition of the human heart after the Fall.  But the reader's hope was already kindled when we heard that the Spirit of the eternal God was hovering over the problem.  With the stage set in vv.1-2, we see the remedy introduced in vv.3-5: Light shines in the darkness! 

Main Point:  God wants us to see how he delights in the light and desires that light to be clearly distinguished from the darkness.

Discussion Questions:
  • How does vv. 3-5 serve as the remedy to vv.1-2? 
  • How do John 1:1-5 and Hebrews 1:3 help us understand the light, God's delight in the light, and the relationship between light and darkness in Gen. 1:1-5? 
  • What does this mighty act of God in bringing light teach us about how God converts sinners? (see 2 Cor. 3:12-4-6, esp. 4:6)
  • Discuss this statement: "God desires light and darkness to be distinguished from one another."  What does this tell us about the character of God?
  • God called the light Day and the darkness Night.  The implication seems to be that God "labeled" light and darkness for us, that we might pay close attention to the labels.  What are some of the implications for us as we live as followers of Jesus (see. John 8:12; 1 John 1:5; Matt. 5:14-16; Rom. 13:12; Eph. 5:11; 1 Pet. 2:9; Col. 1:13)
Application Questions:
  • How should a proper understanding of Gen. 1:3-5 shape the way I understand what in means to be converted? 
  • Are there areas in my life where I am compromising with darkness, failing to follow the labels God has made to distinguish between what pleases him and what does not?
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for his holiness, the fact that he is light and in him there is no darkness at all
  • Praise God for working shining the light of his Son into the darkness of our hearts by the veil-removing work of the Holy Spirit
  • Confess ways in which you have failed to follow God's labels that are meant to set us apart from darkness and lead us in the way of light.  
  • Ask God to help us be holy as he is holy so that he might be glorified and unbelievers might come to see the glory of his Son and so be saved

Sunday, October 8, 2017

God's Creation Foreshadows God's Salvation (Gen. 1:1-2)

OutlineGod's Creation Foreshadows God's Salvation (Gen. 1:1-2): 
           
God created everything (1:1)
  • God set the stage: creation (1:2a)
  • God foreshadowed the story: salvation  (1:2b) 
Summary: With a big view of our eternal God fresh in our minds, we focus our attention on the fact that this eternal God created everything.  But we also note God's basic description of his initial creation: it was barren and dark.  This description seems to be very intentional on God's part. God must act again.  God must bring light and life.  And we shall see that the need of light and life was not just the physical need of the world God made but the spiritual need of the people God fashioned.

Main Point:  God created everything.  And God's initial work of creation is an intentional foreshadowing of God's eventual work of salvation.

Discussion Questions:
  • Why would God initially create the earth barren and dark?
  • What is the imagery of the Spirit hovering over the dark and barren earth meant to awaken in us as we read?  
  • What can we learn from the progression in the text from a dark and barren earth to the Spirit hovering to light leading to life and flourishing in the rest of Genesis 1? 
  • How does God's initial work of creation in Gen. 1:1-2 foreshadow God's eventual work of salvation? [Hint: Read Jeremiah's description of Israel's idolatry Jer. 4:23-26 that echoes the earth's initial condition in Gen. 1:2 along with his description of the heart change that is promised in the new covenant Jer. 21:31-34].  
  • What role does the Holy Spirit play in salvation? (see. Ezek. 36:25-27; John 3:1-8; 16:7-11; Titus 3:5)
Application Questions:
  • What encouragement and hope might you draw from Gen. 1:1-2 when you think about areas of unmet potential in your life?
  • What encouragement and hope might you draw from Gen. 1:1-2 when you think about the state of unbelievers in your spheres of influence? 
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for his wisdom in initially creating the earth in a way that would remind us of the condition of the human heart and the utter need for the Holy Spirit's transforming power
  • Praise God for the work of the Holy Spirit that has washed and renewed our hearts   
  • Acknowledge ways in which you've either minimized or been ignorant of the powerful working of the Holy Spirit, especially when it comes to the Spirit's work in salvation
  • Ask God to open our hears to see more clearly his mighty acts in creation and in salvation

Thursday, September 28, 2017

In the Beginning, God (Gen. 1:1a)

OutlineIn the Beginning, God (Gen. 1:1a): 
           
God is eternal:

  • Implication #1: God never had a beginning
  • Implication #2: God is not bound by time
  • Implication #3:God is not dependent on his creation
  • Conclusion question:  What was God doing before he created?
Summary: Before launching into the details of the creation account in Genesis 1, we linger to consider the massive assumption contained in the first four words of the Bible--God is eternal! This implies that God never had a beginning and that he is not bound by time.  It also implies that God is not at all dependent on his creation.  In the conclusion of this message we ask a very focused question: what was God doing before he created? Scripture gives us beautiful glimpses into this sublime reality and these glimpses help us to see that God created in order to fold us into the glory and love and delight that he, as the triune God, has been enjoying from all eternity. 

Main Point:  The eternal God created in order to fold a people into his eternal joy.

Discussion Questions:
  • What is it important to consider the eternality of God?
  • Why is it significant that God never had a beginning and that he is not bound by time?
  • What windows does the Bible give us into what God was doing before he created? (Hint: read John 17:5, 24 and Eph. 1:3-10)
  • Read and discuss the salvation promise of John 3:16 in light of the eternality of God
Application Questions:
  • What comfort can I find from the fact that God is eternal and that, through faith in Christ, God's eternal arms are under me at every moment? 
  • How might a more regular focus on God's eternal greatness and his plans to fold me into his eternal love help to shape the way I respond to the trials and difficulties of this life?  
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God as the Everlasting God, our eternal Creator
  • Praise God for his glorious plan to fold us into his eternal joy by saving us through the sacrifice of his own dear Son.  
  • Confess ways in which you've "put God in a box," forgetting his greatness and how utterly dependent we are on him for life and breath and everything. 
  • Ask God to help us to keep his eternality in mind as we consider his work of creation and salvation from Genesis 1-3.