Recap: This week’s Summer Playlist song is “Graves Into Gardens”by Elevation Worship. The song reminds us how God has us on a journey toward producing something good out of our struggles and trials. God can take every grave we face and turn it into a garden. We dove into the life of Joseph (Genesis 37-50) who faced many graves along the way to ultimately make the statement in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Scripture: Genesis 37-50
Icebreaker: What country would you travel to if you knew there was a chance you would have to stay there for up to a year?
- Have you ever known someone or read about someone who experienced horrific trauma and pain, and yet was still able to “see the good” and praise God through their personal tragedy? Why do you think some people turn toward God while others turn away?
- Maybe you have been through tough times, or maybe you’re in one now. How can you see God’s provision of grace when you were in the depth of the grave? Can you see God’s grace easier when you acknowledge how much worse your situation could be?
- Author Ann Voskamp wrote, “Be brave and do not pray for the hard thing to go away, but pray for a bravery that’s bigger than the hard thing.” What does that mean to you? How can we know a garden is coming, even though we are sitting in a grave?
- What is sanctification and how do Romans 5:2-5, Romans 12:1-2, Hebrews 5:7-8 speak to that? What do our trials truly do? What’s God’s aim?
- Read Hebrews 11:1-10,20. What does faith have to do with Joseph’s story and the “hall of faith” individuals? What did their faith look like?
- Read James 2:17. What does it mean to have a dead faith? What does a living faith do?
Digging Deeper (A Personal Study)
The story of Joseph is at its core a story of faith. But what is faith, really? If it is so important to God that Hebrews 11:2 says God’s approval was won by our ancestors with it, then how did they do it? What did they do to make it into the “hall of faith” of Hebrews 11? The Bible says that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith, but what does that mean and how did He do it?
First of all, let’s define the terms for correct context and depth. Faith in the book of Hebrews is usually the Greek word “pistis”: the “conviction of the truth of anything; in the New Testament of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) whether in God or in Christ”*. To break it down more, “conviction” comes from the word “convinced” which among its definitions includes “to bring to belief, or a course of action”*. So, in other words, Jesus authored and perfected our faith by acting on it; by making decisions based on “the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen” (Heb. 12:2; 11:1). The last three years of His life was a constant valley or trial, and yet He based all his actions and words on what He knew was coming – the saving of souls and His own glory seated next to God.
Joseph and all the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 have one thing in common that we can live out today, and that is where their eyes were set during their valleys. All of Joseph’s comments throughout his story reveal that his eyes were fixed on God no matter if he was in prison or working as second in command of Egypt. He acted on and spoke so much about God that Pharaoh said, ”Can we find anyone like this, a man who has God’s spirit in him?” (Gen. 41:38). Even on his deathbed, Joseph still walked in “pistis” asking his brothers to take his bones out of Egypt when God will lead their nation to the land He promised (Gen. 50:24-25).
Let’s go deeper though and look at the source of why all those individuals in Hebrews 11 had a fixed gaze. Before Jesus ever had the chance to ask, they answered the question, “Who do you say I am?” (Matt. 16:15). This question is answered when the rubber meets the road. Our actions, our language, and our mindsets reveal our answer when we get thrown into a pit. If we truly believe God is who He says He is, like Jesus and Joseph did, then what will happen between the grave and garden will be a testimony worth telling like Hebrews 11:33-34 does telling the adventures of the heroes. That testimony will be a customized tool to speak into others’ lives about the goodness of God and how they can trust in drawing closer to Him in their own pits. We each have to personally answer the question, “Who do you say Jesus is?”
Our application this week and onward is to really search our hearts and answer the question Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?”. Your honest answer to that question will reveal where there is room to grow in getting to know Jesus. Relationship is what ultimately builds trust. You can’t expect to trust someone to a level of saying they are your true all-in-all hope when you don’t know them. Abraham trusted God for the huge promise of making a nation out of him, but the source of that obedient faith was that God called Abraham His friend (Is. 41:8).
Listen: Together, listen to “Graves Into Gardens” by Elevation Worship [feat. Brandon Lake]. If possible, have the lyrics available. Close your eyes. Soak in the message.
Send Out: This week, pray that God reveals to you how His garden for you is forming. Write down daily what God is producing in you right now that is good.