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Romans 5:5 1
5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Background

A wonderful change takes place in the sinner when they becomes a true believer. Whatever the sinners had been, they become different. Because of their faith in Jesus, the sinner makes peace with God. There is no other way we can have peace while under the guilt of sin.  Called justification, our guilt gives way to peace. This is through our Lord Jesus Christ; through Him as the great Peace-maker, the Mediator between God and man.

This is our happy state, a state of grace, something we are not born into. We could not have found it by ourselves but we were led into it, as pardoned offenders by Jesus Himself. This is the foundation upon which we build our hope to see the glory of God, Our hope should excite us, it should provide us patience as we suffer in this world because it is only temporary. Our hope is for a new world, a new order that will not disappoint, because it is sealed with the Holy Spirit as a Spirit of love and Christ’s own blood. Our hope, however, is also for this world now. We should be bold and proclaim our pride in Christ because we are saved. The living Christ is with each of us every day.

Items for Discussion

  • The Apostle Paul calls each Christian to be bold. How would you expect someone to act boldly?
  • Where is it that we still harbor the “shame” of our faith?  Give examples of how we do or do not boldly stand up for Christ.
  • When you walk into a church, how would you expect to visually see their “boldness” stand out and be visible?
  • When you see or hear about someone’s bold pride in their church, how does it make you feel?
  • Where is the line drawn between being bold, having pride and fostering arrogance?

 

Matthew 23:11-12
11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Background

The kingdom of God is an upside down world, a kingdom where the rules are the opposite of the world’s rules. Can you imagine what your work or home life would be if all of the rules changed?  Confusion is probably a good description and you would want someone to explain the new rules so that you could function.  Here (and elsewhere in this Gospel) Jesus explains the new rules, the rules of  His new kingdom. The new rules are the greatest are the servants and the servants are the greatest.

The emphasis in the verses with regard to roles and humility have to do with the end times. The Grand Reversal will be fulfilled completely when Jesus returns and the kingdom of God is fully revealed. However, we don’t have to wait for the Second Coming to begin life in the kingdom of heaven, a term that is synonymous with God’s kingdom in this Gospel. God’s kingdom is anyplace where God is king. We are part of God’s kingdom if we have made God king in our lives.

This last verse is particularly significant for our Gospel lesson today, because the scribes and Pharisees possessed no humility. Puffed up and pompous, they were like the camel who could not go through the eye of a needle or the rich person who found it difficult to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus calls us not to be like them, but to be humble servants.

Items for Discussion

  • What would the opposite of your role be in a new world order like Jesus is describing? Who is the highest in your world, who is the lowest and how do you think things would go after the switch?
  • How would you define humility in a new world order?
  • What does “exalted mean to you?
  • With respect to the following groups, how would you describe examples of what Jesus wants us to do?
    • Your Family
    • Your work
    • Your neighborhood
    • Your Church
  • Can you think of any other rules that would be opposite in God’s new world from our existing world?

Discussion Challenge

  • Churches are caught in a generational shift. How do you think a church should respond to each generation so that they feel they are “exalted?”
  • Design the perfect church for each and discuss how do reach each group through one single church?
    • The Veterans (also called the Traditionals or GI Generation), born between 1901-1926.
    • Mature/Silents (Korean and Vietnam War generation), born between 1927- 1945
    • The Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964.
    • Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980.
    • The Millennials (also called Generation Y or the Nexters), born between 1980 and 2000.
    • Generation Z (also called Boomlets) born after 2001.
  • Definitions for these groups can be found here https://www.marketingteacher.com/the-six-living-generations-in-america/

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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