Pray: To open your time together.
Read: Matthew 7: 24-27; Hebrews 11: 1-3 NLT & Romans 1:10-12 NLT
Consider: Some thoughts for your group
For the follower of Jesus, the connection between hope and faith is inextricable. In Matthew 7, Jesus uses the analogy of a house built on sand which is swept away when the storm comes versus a house built on a rock which is not moved by wind, rain, or floods. Notice that it is not a question of if the storm comes or not. The storm always comes. But one house is left standing on the other side of the flood and the other is swept away. What is it that roots us? Jesus says it is the faith of those who hear his words and believe them.
There are so many promises in the bible for those who believe its words. But often our lives do not fit cleanly in the lines between these verses. Our lives are messy and glorious. Our relationships are heartbreaking and healing. Our bodies are worn down and wonderous. Too much lost energy is given to the question “why do I hurt?” For the follower of Jesus, a better question is “what will I do with the hurt (and the joy) I’ve been given?” Enter faith that brings hope.
Faith is believing the testimonies and stories of those in the family of God who have gone before us, what Hebrews calls “the great cloud of witnesses”. Those who have anchored themselves to the Rock and lived to tell us what life is like on the other side of the storm. And what they tell us is that peace can live in the midst of a hurricane. That love is not moved by flood waters. That the sun breaks through the darkest clouds of pain and as those clouds are parted we see we have been standing on the rock the whole time.
We are a part of this greater story God is writing. That is why gathering in community is so important. We share our burdens and our dreams with each other and in this storytelling, we are reminded we are not alone and that new chapters are being written every day. With each new chapter our faith is rekindled, and our hope is awakened to what God is doing… yesterday, today, and forever.
- What are you hoping for this week? What have you lost hope for?
- Are you in a season of storms? What keeps you anchored to hope and faith? Are there experiences of your own, or other people’s stories who have encouraged you along the way? Share those stories with the group.
- Who needs your encouragement this week?
- In faith, what are you asking God to restore in your life?
So often we have small perspectives on the big picture of what God is doing in our life and in the world around us. Have you ever felt sure something was doomed or lost, only to discover a hidden treasure or an inexplicable joy? Let us stay curious and open hearted that we often see only a fraction of God’s story. What might He be teaching us in good times and bad?
Spend some time praying for one another for the week ahead. For those who are weighed down by the burden of this season of life, pray for God’s abiding presence to be near to them. For those who are living in hope and joy in this season, pray for gratitude and encouragement to move through them to those around them as a testimony of God’s steadfast love.