Jan. 21-22, 2017 Talent and Treasure

January 21-22 Talent and Treasure

Look Back | Look Down

Begin your time by reviewing the Scriptures and the important points of the sermon taught in The Row.

Welcome to the third week of our series, Making Your Mark. This week, we’ll discuss a woman mentioned just once in Scripture. Her name is Nympha and here is the short verse about her:

Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house (Colossians 4.15).

Laodicea was a city just a short walk from Colossae. The church at Laodicea had similar roots to the church in Colossae. Paul may have never visited them, but knew them well through his friend Epaphras. In this short verse, Paul singles out Nympha, as this church meets in her home. Nympha gives us the opportunity to discuss what it means to hold our physical resources with open hands, leaving everything at God’s disposal.

Spend five minutes reading Colossians 4.15-16 aloud. Discuss what you notice in these verses. More in-depth questions will follow.

Look In | Look Around

In The Circle, consider together what God is asking you to do and encourage each other.

Open Hands.

Nympha is the person in this series we know the least about. We just know her name and one aspect of her life. It is believed Nympha opened her home so a church could use it in Laodicea. We don’t know how large the church was, but we do know that Nympha’s home was available for these people to gather together in. Based on this little information, what type of person do you think Nympha was? What would it be like to have your church meet in your home in the first century?

People like Nympha typically hold their material resources with open hands, leaving those resources for God to use. On a practical level, what’s the difference between living with open hands versus living with clenched fists?

Think about your home, vehicles, toys, and stuff valuable to you. What are some things you tend to hold with open hands? Which ones do you like to hold with a tighter grip? What does it truly mean to place our resources at God’s disposal?

The Warning.

Thirty years after Paul writes to the Colossians, the Apostle John writes a letter to the church of Laodicea. His letter is a bit different as he receives the words he pens from a vision from the resurrected Jesus. It’s one of seven letters recorded in the beginning chapters of the Book of Revelation. The words to Laodicea are harsh with no commendation or affirmation. Read Revelation 3.15-16. What seems to have happened in this church over the past three decades?

The warning to the church in Laodicea gives us an opportunity to wrestle with some possible dangers in our world. Discuss the following:

  • Financial stability is not always a friend to faith. Why?
  • As your income and purchasing power grow, there can grow with it an independence from God. How does this happen?
  • We can do wise things financially (start an emergency fund, do the debt snowball, we begin to invest regularly for retirement), but unguarded that may do nothing more for me than turn me into a wiser materialist. Do you agree? Explain.
  • Affluence does not lead to a heart warm toward God, but can lead toward independence from God. Just like Laodicea, we say to God: “Thanks a lot, but I’ve got it covered.” Has this ever happened with you?

The Model.

In contrast to Laodicea, Paul writes to Timothy, a younger pastor, in how we should view our wealth.

Read 1 Timothy 6.17-19. Contrasting with John’s words to the church in Laodicea, discuss the following:

  • Finances are for our enjoyment, but we are not to put our hope in them. How does this work?
  • I’m more likely to enjoy my stuff without putting my hope into it, if I routinely serve. Do you agree or disagree? Tell why.
  • Someone who systematically, humbly serves will think about and relate to wealth more sanely and biblically. How does serving impact our view of wealth?
  • Service is anti-arrogance training. How so?

The Invitation.

Look at Revelation 3.20 together. Jesus gives encouragement to the believers who have strayed from the faith because of their view of their wealth. His harsh words turn to an invitation. How do these words encourage you today? What does this say about Jesus?

Look Forward | Look Out

This coming week, spend time in The Chair with God and go engage the broken world around you.

In the Chair this week…

  • Write out 1 Timothy 6.17-18 on a 3×5 card. Commit to reading it several times this week.
  • Ask God to show you what you are holding too tightly. Pray with hands physically open as a sign of your willingness to place all you have at his disposal.