What Would God Say?


What Would God Say?


When we think about the struggles of our daily life, have you ever just wanted God to whisper in your ear? To tell you why it hurts right now? To tell you which choice to make? To tell you how to handle your conflicted desires? To point the way to starting life over? To explain why He did or didn’t act in a situation? To make it clear what He would like you to do for Him? To give you permission to give up or energy to carry on?

God used to speak in some pretty plain ways in the days of the prophets. There were messages about repentance and warnings to let them know what was ahead. And there were many signs pointing to a coming Messiah. Hebrews is written to some people very familiar with the prophets and who had listened and followed the Messiah. But maybe because of persecution, or family pressures, or disappointment in life – they were thinking about going back to an old familiar way of life – a life without Jesus.

So relevant. Today there are those who decide just to try to live life without Jesus. Christians can fall into this trap – depending on themselves, neglecting the spiritual life, falling into worldly attitudes. What does God have to say about all of this?

Hebrews 1:1-2a Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.

God is telling us that today He is speaking to us by his Son, Jesus. Far from trying to live life without Him, we ought to be attuned to His voice. The letter to the Hebrews is all about why we should listen to Jesus. What Would God Say?

Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high

Jesus Knows The End of the Story, Don’t Worry.

Jesus is Creator and Heir of All Things (Hebrews 1:2)Everything that belongs to the Father belongs to the Son. 

John 1:3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.

Colossians 1:16  For in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.

The one who created the world will also be the one to redeem the world!

Jesus Will Tell You About Me. (1:3a)

Jesus is the Exact Imprint of God (Hebrews 1:3a  He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being…). 

AMP: The Son is the radiance and only expression of the glory of [our awesome] God [reflecting God’s Shekinah glory, the Light-being, the brilliant light of the divine], and the exact representation and perfect imprint of His [Father’s] essence…

He Reflects or ‘radiates’ God’s glory.  He is the Exact Imprint of God’s very being. The word refers to an exact reproduction. As a statue of a person. As a die or stamp or branding iron. He isn’t like the Father in certain respects, but is exactly like him.  John 14:9 “… Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. …”

Jesus is in Control, Hang On To Him. (1:3b)

Jesus Sustains All Things. (Hebrews 1:3b and he sustains all things by his powerful word.)

AMP:  and upholding and maintaining and propelling all things [the entire physical and spiritual universe] by His powerful word [carrying the universe along to its predetermined goal]. When He [Himself and no other] had [by offering Himself on the cross as a sacrifice for sin] accomplished purification from sins and established our freedom from guilt…

The early Christians did not think of God as creating the world, and then, as it were, leaving the world to itself. Somehow and somewhere they saw in life and in the world a power that was carrying the world and carrying each life on to a destined end.  (Barclay)

Jesus Can Cleanse Your Sin. Let Guilt Go. (1:3c)

Jesus Purifies From Sin. (Hebrews 1:3c When he had made purification for sins). By his sacrifice he paid the price of sin; by His continual presence He liberates from sin. (Barclay)

Listen to Jesus, He Is Your King (1:3d)

Jesus is Majestic (1:3d he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…)

AMP: He sat down [revealing His completed work] at the right hand of the Majesty on high [revealing His Divine authority],

Yes, Jesus is worthy … worthy of our trust, our lives, our worship, our hopes, from Creation to the Cross to the Throne … Listen to Jesus! Would someone so great, mighty, awesome, powerful … want to have anything to do with me? Would King Jesus really care about my problems and my faltering faith? Chapter 2:6-12 assures the soul who wonders…

Hebrews 2:6-10  But someone has testified somewhere, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them? You have made them for a little while lower than the angels;  you have crowned them with glory and honor,  subjecting all things under their feet.” Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Does Jesus Care?

He has viewed us kindly in spite of our shortcomings. (2:6 )

He has crowned us with glory and honor, though we may not see it now. (2:7-8)

He volunteered to become human and taste death so we could live. (2:9)  An act of grace – the gift we did not deserve. Jesus put himself at our level so he could bring us up to his level. (Barclay)

He became the Pioneer of our salvation (2:10)

F. F. Bruce: “He is the Savior who blazed the trail of salvation along which alone God’s “many sons” could be brought to glory … opened up by His death a new way by which man might reach the goal for which he was made. As His people’s representative and forerunner He has now entered into the presence of God to secure their entry there.”

He welcomed us into His Family (2:11-12).

Jesus, in all His power and majesty, came to lift up the weak and fallen. He crowns them and gives them grace. He proudly calls them family. You are never out of reach of the grace of God; never far away from your crown. This is why we should listen to Jesus and not give up. If God whispered something to you about life, he would tell you about Jesus.

Over the next few weeks we will try to grow in our understanding of Jesus, empowering us to turn to Him, to trust Him, and to ultimately live with Him forever.

LifeGroup Questions

  1. This past week 90-year-old Allen Ziegler celebrated his 90th birthday by sky-diving for the first time. (Video below).  We can admire his adventurous spirit in not wanting to give up on life even at age 90! What would you like to do to celebrate your 90th birthday?

2. The major theme of the letter to the Hebrews is to stay strong in faith and not give up. Read the following verses from Hebrews and talk about how each one is an encouragement to keep going even when it gets hard.

– Hebrews 2:1

– Hebrews 4:1

– Hebrews 6:1

– Hebrews 6:11

– Hebrews 10:22-23

– Hebrews 10:35-36

– Hebrews 12:1

3. First century Christians were in danger of giving up due to the drastic amounts of persecution. Jewish Christians especially had it hard as they were breaking free from Jewish legalities into the fullness of the gospel. How do you encourage people in hard times to hold strong?

4. Read Psalm 8 together. This is quoted in chapter 2:5 of our text today.  What kinds of things make David wonder why God would care for man?  Have you ever been in a place or a time when you wondered the same thing?

5. David begins and ends this Psalm with praise – exalting God, while at the same time acknowledging that God has exalted man. In what way has God exalted man? What does this tell us about taking care of the earth God has given to us?

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect “God’s planet” during a testy climate hearing last Tuesday. “It’s God’s planet,” Boxer declared at the hearing. “We’ve got to protect it. Regardless of your political leanings or opinion of the EPA, what responsibility do Christians have for taking care of our planet and what specific actions do you take to be ecologically responsible? (LINK)

6. A pop song from twenty years ago asked, ‘What if God was one of us?’ A provocative thought.  In this passage Jesus is shown coming to earth for a period of time to become one of us. Using your imagination, if Jesus were to come to earth today … where do you see Jesus spending his time? How do you think religious people would receive him? Would sinners be glad to be his friend? In what ways are our times similar / different from the first century days?

7.  Jesus says in verses 11-12 that he is not ashamed to call them ‘brothers and sisters’ in the congregation. How does this passage encourage us to love those that have “fallen” and/or encourage those who have “fallen”?

8. Spiritual exercise: How has God spoken to you through Jesus? Think about the ways you have obeyed his voice. Then spend some time thinking about the ways you’ve ignored his voice and talk to God about that. Maybe read through Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount, for ideas.


Sermon Extras That Didn’t Make the Cut….

The words of Hebrews were written to second-generation Christians – believers who were removed from the intensity, the intimacy, the passion of the early years of the movement. With the seductive pressures of a materialistic and violent world bearing down on them from ever side, these disciples had become burned out, discouraged, apathetic believers. Their lethargic faith resonates with the malaise we are experiencing in our own contemporary Christian world. … The electricity of Hebrews can reignite our faith, reminding us of the amazing grace of God’s very imprint in Jesus and in us, and assuring us that endurance through suffering – as well as joy – is the power of God in us for others. – Susan R. Andrews, Feasting on the Word

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C. S. Lewis

Danny Sidders Preaching Tonight!

Danny & Marianne Sidders


Tonight at Forsythe Church of Christ​ Danny Sidders will be preaching on Revival for a New Generation. Everyone’s invited, but especially bring your teenagers and college students. Danny will have a timely and impactful message. This may be the breakthrough you’ve been seeking in your own life. 6:00; pizza will follow!

Prayer Makes A Difference



When Prayer Makes A Difference      James 5:13-20

Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.  Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest. My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Tennyson wrote, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice rise like a fountain for me night and day.” We cannot read the Bible without being convicted that prayer is one of the most important elements of the Christian’s life. Prayer will always be a challenge and requires our greatest efforts. 

The Book of James is written by the brother of Jesus. He became one of the most important leaders of the early church in Jerusalem. He was one of the ‘three pillars’ of the church: James, Peter, and John. The book of James teaches us to live out the ‘Royal Law’ – as Jesus taught –‘Love Your Neighbor As Yourself’.

Prayer Makes A Difference When We Are Suffering (James 5:13)

James has been addressing suffering in this chapter (James 5:10-11). Suffering can be persecution, discouragement, or anything that takes our focus off of God and onto ourselves. The prophets, and Job, and James’ readers, and us – we all realize that saying a prayer does make suffering disappear. But it does make a difference. It can, as James says, focus our attention on the purpose, compassion and mercy of God. Prayer while suffering reminds us that we serve God, and not ourselves. Prayer while suffering reminds us that God is present and not far away. Prayer while suffering give voice to our struggles with anger, doubt, confusion, and grief. Prayer is dependence upon God, leaning on Him with the anguish of our soul.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.

Missionary Hudson Taylor was asked about a difficult period in his life. He said,
“What circumstances could have rendered the Word of God sweeter and the presence of God so real, the help of God so precious?”

Prayer Makes A Difference When We Are Happy (James 5:13b)

We’ve been praying in song this morning, singing God’s praises and we should. This is how Christians speak to one another!

Ephesians 5:19 -20 …Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

 Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Chris Tomlin sings, “How can I keep from singing Your praise? How can I ever say enough? How amazing is Your love! How can I keep from shouting Your name? I know I am loved by the King, And it makes my heart want to sing.

Prayer Makes A Difference When We Are Sick (James 5:14-15)

It is the natural thing to do to pray when we are sick. God is Present and Powerful. We pray asking Him for what we desire. We pray for His will to be done. Praying for the Sick is a matter of Intercession. James says:

*Gather Godly People – Let him call for the elders of the church

*Voice your heart’s desire to God – let them pray over him

*Demonstrate Faith in the Presence of Holy Spirit – anointing him with oil in name of Lord

*Expect God to Answer That Prayer of Faith – and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

We are challenged by this teaching when sickness continues.

*We can be challenged by the flesh – to think that God is not involved in matters of healing any longer. Not logical to just pray; we should rather seek medical help. Who says God isn’t working through the medical technologies to bring healing every day!

*We can be challenged by experience. We have prayed so much and so often for the sick and did not get the answer we desired. Yet we can forget that many times we have received healing!

*We can be challenged by the attempt to explain God’s Will. We are not told to tell God what to do. We are to yield to God’s will and ways.

*We can be challenged because we forget that even great Biblical people full of faith did not experience healing. (Paul’s thorn in the flesh; Lazarus; Jesus).

Praying when we are sick makes a difference because …

*We are placing the matter in the hands of an eternal and powerful God. Sometimes healing does not come in this life, but in the freedom of the next. Our most important healing is the healing of our sinful ways.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,  he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

*We understand that we are pilgrims and sojourners here and this is our temporary home.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So we continue to pray for one another … elders will pray … will anoint with oil when requested … and we will all pray together.

Prayer Makes A Difference in the Faith Community (James 5:16)

James has a heavy spiritual emphasis here as he talks about praying, confession, salvation, healing, righteousness. Ancient Jews believed that where there is sickness and suffering, there must be sin. Some sins do have consequences that lead to sickness and suffering. Certainly when there is a need for confession and it is avoided, sin has opportunity to grow. Confessing our sins to one another for prayer brings healing in relationships and in our own personal spirituality – enhancing humility. 

Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer. – John Bunyan

How neglected is confession of sin to one another, and how we cannot wonder that sin is left to fester and infect our spiritual lives.

Prayer Makes a Difference Because it Connects us to God’s Power. (James 5:17-18)

Elijah was a man just like us, in all our frailty and weakness. Do we find it hard to pray? So did he, but he prayed. Do we ever doubt? So did he, but he prayed. Do we ever get discouraged? So did he, but he prayed. Do we ever grow weary? So did he, but he prayed. Elijah didn’t make excuses, he prayed; so should we.

God is listening to our prayers. God is moving in answer of our prayers. God is in relationship with righteous men and women. God  isn’t depending on our perfection, but on His.

How many of us believe our prayers are never answered! Our first response is to say ‘this doesn’t work for me’. If we have that attitude we likely are not praying much. If we have that attitude we are not keeping record of our prayers. If we have that attitude we think God can only answer our prayers the way we want Him to!

Prayer Makes a Difference when we are suffering, cheerful, sick. Prayer makes a difference in our faith community and life together. Prayer makes a difference because it connects us to the power of God. Interestingly, James ends his epistle with these two verses:

James 5:19-20 My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

One of the ways we wander from the truth is to neglect the place of prayer in our lives. In this text, a fellow brother or sister brings us back … presumably through confession and prayer. Is there anyone today who has wandered from the truth and is willing to be brought back today through confession and prayer? Is there anyone here today praying often for those who have wandered away? Precious promise: saving the sinner’s soul from death and covering a multitude of sins.

LifeGroup Questions

1.  Tonight we have the opportunity to witness a rare event in the skies. The sky will be graced by a bright, big moon that will be encapsulated in a total lunar eclipse late Sunday evening into early Monday, according to NASA. The lunar combination is happening for the first time in 30 years. This eclipse is the fourth and final in the so called “blood moons,” a phrase that has become popular to describe the four lunar eclipses we have seen in 2014 and 2015. Scientifically this is known as a “lunar tetrad.” Another supermoon eclipse will not occur again until 2033. (LINK)

*Do you plan to try to see the ‘blood moon’ tonight?

*What’s the most exciting astrological event you’ve witnessed?

*Do you ascribe to the idea that lunar activity increases strange behavior (lunacy!)? (LINK)

“It is the very error of the moon. She comes more near the earth than she was wont. And makes men mad.” —William Shakespeare, Othello

*When you can see the night sky with great clarity, what does it make you think about God?

2. What is the typical response to suffering? If we are suffering, what should we pray for? Will God always take away the trial from us? What is the use of praying if God isn’t going to take away the trial? What does a prayerful attitude show about our heart?

3. One way to make joy complete is to express that joy in song. Isn’t it interesting that James doesn’t expect the “suffering” to sing, or the “cheerful” to act in a more “sober, solemn manner”? God understands our moods and temperaments and knows what we need in each given circumstance. This morning John mentioned Chris Tomlin’s song ‘How Can I Keep From Singing’. What’s a song that you can think of that expresses joyful faith? (Can be a hymn or a contemporary Christian song or a secular song to which you attach spiritual themes.)

4. One of the great challenges of prayer is ‘unanswered prayer’.  Read through the ‘unanswered prayer’ of Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. What can we gather about prayers that seem to be met with silence?

5. What does it mean to “confess” our sins to one another? Practically speaking, what should this look like? What are some dangers to avoid in confessing to others?

6. Apostle Paul recognizes different kinds of prayers and situations in 1 Timothy 2:1-4. Read through this passage and identify some different types of prayers. How can one make sure that they are exercising these various kinds of prayer in their lives? Do you think we should do so daily, weekly, monthly (i.e. purposefully)?

7. Anointing with Oil (literally “rubbing him with oil”) seems a bit mysterious to us. Some think it is just something from the first century, others see this as a signal that we are willing to do an act of faith in God. If you have been anointed with oil in prayer would you be willing to share about that experience? John MacArthur offers three alternative possibilities for this teaching:

*Possibly this is a reference to ceremonial anointing, an expression of prayer and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

* James may have had in mind medical treatment of believers physically bruised and battered by persecution. Oil in ancient times was used as healing ointment. There were a variety of oils used for healing a variety of sicknesses. Many today still use ‘essential oils’.

*Perhaps it is better to understand the anointing in a metaphorical sense of the elders’ encouraging, comforting, and strengthening the believer.

Which of those possibilities is most like your thoughts on the matter? Perhaps you know another possibility.

8. Why do people sometimes drift away from the Lord for long periods of time? What efforts do you think are most effective for reaching out to them? How can prayer play an important role in their return?

9. Would you be willing to share what one thing makes prayer most difficult for you? It may be a matter of prioritizing time; it may be that you allow your children to distract you; possibly you just like to stay in bed until it’s too late to have real time with God. These are common struggles. How can we make positive changes to overcome our prayer struggles?

10.  Spiritual Activity this week: Pray and ask God to give you insight as to what you can do this week to spend time in prayer each day, even if only 5 minutes of undistracted time (or whatever time would challenge you). Commit to at least four days in the upcoming week to find that time alone with God. As we have been taught by this passage today, if you need help – call on someone to pray for and with you about it.