31
Aug
2011

Life Under the Cross

Sermon on Matthew 16:21-28 for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, on Jesus' rebuke of Peter, when Peter tried to turn Jesus away from the path that led to the suffering of cross. Jesus teaches Peter what life under the cross means.

Sermon Talking Points Read past sermons at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com Listen to audio at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com

1. What are two ways in which Christian life is a life lived “Under the Cross?” Why will we be misled if we think that God’s plan for the Christian would be to rescue them from all immediate pain and suffering? Give an example of a “greater good” that might be in store beyond a situation of temporary suffering.

2. Why was Peter’s rebuke of Jesus such a shock? Compare Matthew 16:16 and 16:22. What are more subtle ways that we might unconsciously “rebuke” God? How is this an idolatry of self, as well as being supremely arrogant? Cf. Satan’s “M.O.” Gen. 3:1

3. Why is it essential to understand that Jesus’ suffering on the cross happened by “Divine Necessity”? Acts 2:23-24; Isaiah 53:10-12. How does that change it from senseless and purposeless suffering, into God’s redemptive act?

4. Most often any apparent “purpose” for our sufferings is hidden from our eyes and mind. How does that “life under the cross” then cause us to rely on faith? Will we still be able to confess: “God is good in spite of all that is happening to me”? Job 1:21-22; 2:9-10; Romans 8:16-30

5. Our crosses are not redemptive—i.e. we don’t “earn salvation” by them. But how do they help us look to Christ? 2 Cor. 12:9. What do they remind us about the cost of our own sin, and the real cross that Christ bore?

6. How is the mission of the church always under the cross? How is following Christ the only way to find our lives, even if we lose them for His sake?

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22
Aug
2011

Your Attention, Please!

A sermon on Isaiah 51:1-6 for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, about how God calls our attention to the fact that the sinful world is broken and failing fast, but the righteousness and salvation of God are forever, and we are called to pursue God's righteousness by faith.

Sermon Talking Points Read past sermons at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com Listen to audio at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com

1. What events in life might compel us to turn to God’s Word for answers? What things have shaken the whole world recently? What does this tell us about the (im)permanence of the world? Isaiah 51:6; 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:22-25. Where should we put our trust and confidence instead?

2. Isaiah 51:4 talks about “a law” going out from God, His justice for the nations. “Law” here is in the original Hebrew “torah” which means more than just laws and commandments. It means “teaching” or “instruction,” inclusive of all of God’s Word—both law (commands) and gospel (promises & good news). Who would make this “teaching” go out, and serve as a light to the nations? See Matt. 12:18-21; Luke 2:32

3. How does the church bear this light to the nations? How is Jesus’ teaching the way to eternal life? John 6:68; 5:24; 14:6

4. What does it mean to pursue righteousness? Is. 51:1, 7. What are two different ways to pursue it, and which one leads to eternal life? Rom. 9:30-32.

5. Whose righteousness do we get by faith? What is the quality of this righteousness and salvation? Isaiah 51:6

6. How can the success (or apparent lack thereof) of the mission sometimes cause discouragement or doubt? How does the example of Abraham and Sarah remind us of how God is able to work when things seem barren or unsuccessful? Isaiah 51:1-2.

7. How is the church a sanctuary or oasis in the desert? A lighthouse? Who is the water? The Light? John 7:37-38; 8:12.

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15
Aug
2011

Mission and Mercy

Sermon on Matthew 15:21-28, the account of the Canaanite woman struggling with Jesus to obtain healing for her daughter, and how she persevered in this test of faith. The sermon explores her confidence in the merciful God, which is our confidence as well, and how God intended to join the foreigners to Him (See. Isaiah 56).

Sermon Talking Points Read past sermons at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com Listen to audio at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com

1. Describe the tension in the Gospel reading. After the series of apparent rebuffs, how might the disciples have expected the exchange to end? How does God sometimes “wrestle against us” with trials and difficulties? Genesis 32:22-32; 2 Cor. 12:7-10

2. How did the Canaanite woman cleverly catch Jesus in His words? How does it become clear that He was willing to be held captive by His own words?

3. What is the “mission trajectory” of God, that you can already see in the Old Testament? How does Isaiah 56:1-8 show God’s plan to join the foreigners and the outcasts to Him? Cf. Rom. 11

4. How does the woman show humility in approaching Jesus? What small right does she plead for? What right does Jesus in turn grant her? Psalm 51:17; 34:18

5. How did Jesus’ ministry incorporate care for both the body and soul? What was the word of mission, and what were the hands of mercy? What work is there for our hands and mouths in the mission and mercy of the church? Where are the opportunities to serve and to help? How can the word bring faith and hope to the lives of the broken and the outcast?

6. How is the forgiveness of sins and the life and salvation that Jesus won at the cross, more than mere “crumbs” and truly a feast to satisfy and content our souls? Psalm 63:1-8

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8
Aug
2011

Need to Hear

Sermon on Romans 10:5-17 for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost about how faith comes by hearing, and how we participate in the mission of God.

Sermon Talking Points Read past sermons at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com Listen to audio at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com

1. If we are spiritual beggars, and Christ is the one who has prepared a feast, what is our role in God’s mission? What is it that we have to share with others?

2. How do we “enrich ourselves” to be able to share with others? Rom. 10:12; 2 Cor. 8:9; Isaiah 55:1-2.

3. Why was it necessary and part of God’s plan that Christianity would become global? Matt. 28:19-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8; Col. 3:11; Joel 2:28-32

4. What is God’s method or means to create faith? Rom. 10:14-17. How does that get us involved in the mission of God?

5. Have you considered whether God is calling you to serve in the mission and ministry of His church, either as a pastor, teacher, deaconess, missionary, youth worker, or in another capacity? How can you support and encourage those who might be called? How can you support the work of the church in preparing such workers for the harvest?

6. How does having the “good message” make for a good messenger with “beautiful feet?” Rom. 10:15; Isaiah 52:7.

7. Summarize that “good news” or Gospel about Jesus Christ, and how you can tell it simply to another person. What has God done for us in Christ Jesus? Use the words of the Creed if you need help. Why is this a message to be cherished and to always hear with joy and expectation?

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1
Aug
2011

Beggars All

Sermon on Isaiah 55:1-5 for the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, on how Jesus satisfies our spiritual emptiness, hunger, and thirst.

Sermon Talking Points Read past sermons at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com Listen to audio at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com

1. Imagine yourself parched from a long trek through the hot desert, and discovering a fountain of cool, refreshing water. How would you feel? Imagine yourself a poor, starving beggar, being offered a feast of rich food for free. How would you react?

2. Why would we want to deny the fact that we are beggars? Why might we not want to carry that around as our identity? Who would we rather be seen as? What is the personality or identity that you try to “project” as a person? How do you want people to see you?

3. Why does Isaiah 55:2 expose our disguises and posturing as unable to fool God? Why can material things and earthly pleasures not truly satisfy the emptiness within us?

4. What is the source of the emptiness that we feel in our souls? Why is God the only person who can fill that emptiness and satisfy us? Reflect on this quote from St. Augustine: “You have made us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”

5. Apply Luther’s dying words to yourself: “We are beggars all, this is true.” What perspective does this bring?

6. What is the fountain of water to which we are invited to drink? What is the rich feast where we are invited to eat? John 4:10-15; 7:37-39; 6:47-69; Isaiah 25:6-9. What is the price of admission? Who paid for our place at the table? Consequently, we are beggars, invited to the feast!

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