But I have this against you: you have let go of the love you had at first. (Revelation 2.4)
NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow (Dec. 8). This guide will enable your follow-up of the morning sermon.
To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.
Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of the sermon series, or this particular sermon in a series.
To call our attention, and our conscience, to some of our Lord’s direct charges to us.
These Scriptures form some of the foundation of the sermon. Underscored words are emphasized in the Greek text.
• Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. (Proverbs 18.12)
• The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23.11-12)
• “But look! My betrayer is with me; his hand is on this table. The Human One goes just as it has been determined. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays him.” They began to argue among themselves about which of them it could possibly be who would do this. An argument broke out among the disciples over which one of them should be regarded as the greatest. But Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles rule over their subjects, and those in authority over them are called ‘friends of the people.’ But that’s not the way it will be with you. Instead, the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant. So which one is greater, the one who is seated at the table or the one who serves at the table? Isn’t it the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22.21-27)
• … being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2.8)
• … all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. (1 Peter 5.4b-6)
These icebreaker questions are meant to help us all just start thinking, talking, and relating to the topic or texts. Discuss one.
1. Who is a humble cartoon character that comes to mind? A proud one?
2. How does it make you feel, or what is stirred within you, when you witness humility?
These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this morning’s sermon.
2. What specific age group did Peter have in view when he penned 1 Peter 5.4-6?
These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.
1. What does Christianity look like without humility?
2. Is it possible to be humble without living as a servant? Without humiliation? Explain.
3. How exactly does a Christian avoid becoming proud or living in prideful ways?
4. Like contentment, humility is learned. What can a believer do to learn humility?
5. Respect your limits, but do not devalue yourself/short-sell your abilities. Thoughts?
These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid you in living out today’s message in the coming days.
1. Live one day with this thought foremost in mind: “I am here to serve others.” Repeat.
2. Resurrect a servant-habit you’ve “retired” from. Serve in a way you never have before.
“Where did demand for Scripture surge last year? Try Syria, Iraq, and Laos, for starters.”
* “Here are the most common stereotypes that Christians have about Christianity that are wrong …”
* “I used to think that their error was so blatantly obvious that they could just be ignored. I was wrong. They are massively growing in popularity in the evangelical world and are seen as credible and helpful. Before I’m inundated with questioning emails I want to share why I distrust these two and think you should as well. So, don’t shoot me — at least not yet.”
Church decline: 7 Suggestions NOT To Do When the Church is in Decline
“The hardest lesson a church needs to learn in a period of decline, however, is not what they should do…but what they shouldn’t.”
Church leadership, church life, ministry & shepherding: Seven Ways Pastoring Has Changed in Thirty Years [required reading]
“… in thirty years pastoring has changed in ways we likely would have never predicted or imagined.”
Climate change, ecology, environment, global warming & pollution: Panel Says Global Warming Carries Risk of Deep Changes
“‘The reality is that the climate is changing,’ said James W. C. White, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Colorado Boulder who headed the committee on abrupt impacts of climate change. ‘It’s going to continue to happen, and it’s going to be part of everyday life for centuries to come — perhaps longer than that.’”
Consumerism, culture & Christmas: * The ‘War on Christmas’: On Ethnocentrism and Blasphemy; * Do Not Judge the Christmas Shopper
* “The worry about this trend, among some Christians, is that Christ–the Reason for the Season–is being removed from Christmas and the American consciousness. This is taken to be a sign of the increasing secularization of America and indicative of moral and spiritual decline. But this is nonsense.”
* “… while I think we need to push back–hard–on consumerism in our culture, we need to be very careful in judging the motives of any given shopper.”
Hatred & violence: The Science of Hatred
“What makes humans capable of horrific violence? Why do we deny atrocities in the face of overwhelming evidence?”
Justice, money, poor & poverty: * What Dave Ramsey Gets Wrong About Poverty by Rachel Held Evans [essential reading]; * Speaking of the Poor — It’s Not Their Fault!; * This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense [essential reading]; * My Journey Through Food Stamps
* “… while Ramsey may be a fine source of information on how to eliminate debt, his views on poverty are neither informed nor biblical. … People are poor for a lot of reasons, and choice is certainly a factor, but categorically blaming poverty on lack of faith or lack of initiative is not only uninformed, it’s unbiblical.”
* “For Christians, the issues of poverty should have nothing to do with being liberal or conservative. Poverty is a justice issue! The prophet Isaiah implores the people of God saying, ‘Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.’ (Isa 1:17) Part of doing right and seeking justice for the poor, is speaking correctly about the struggles and obstacles they face.”
* “… often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it’s rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.”
* “… I did what everyone else on food stamps does — I made the food stretch each month and found other ways to keep us eating.”
Bethsaida: A Bethsaida Lesson—Jesus Wants to Teach You Much More [required reading]
“For the faithful follower of Jesus, there is another danger beyond complacency. … We limit our understanding of Jesus when we require Him to act within the limitations of our understanding. … To deepen your understanding of Jesus, set your mind on God’s interests above your own.”
Golan Heights: Golan Heights Tour
“The Golan Heights, Israel’s mountainous north-eastern region, is one of the most beautiful areas of the country.”
Tel Al-Elealeh: The Moabite city of Elealeh
“After the Israelites occupied the area the city was given to the tribe of Reuben as part of their territory (Numbers 32:3, 37).”
Temple Mount: The Most Contested Real Estate on Earth? [essential reading; outstanding diagram!]
“Muslims call it the Noble Sanctuary. Jews and Christians call it the Temple Mount. Built atop Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, this 36-acre site is the place where seminal events in Islam, Judaism and Christianity are said to have taken place, and it has been a flash point of conflict for millenniums.”
1. What has Jesus done for all of creation and what does he do today?
2. What are common distractions and temptations to stop paying attention to God and to drift away from him?
3. What would tempt you to give up your faith in Christ?
4. If you gave up following Christ, what would you leave him to become? Why?
5. “Think right and good actions will follow.” Do right and your head will eventually come along.” Which is it? Explain.
6. What makes salvation in Christ so great?
7. Christ is your brother. What does that mean? To you personally?
8. If God is in control, why does pain and suffering continue on? What good could God possibly bring from it?
9. What makes people fearful of death? Are you afraid of death?
10. Engage this statement: “If you’re a devoted Christian, your life will not be full of pain or strewn with enormous difficulties.”
11. Paint a word picture for us as to what Christ looks like now in all his glory.
12. What does a priest do? What does Jesus, our high priest, do for us?
Every person who practices sin commits an act of rebellion, and sin is rebellion. (1 John 3.4)
This month, we wind up our year-long reading of the New Testament. We’ve read the NT at a deliberately leisurely pace of one chapter per day so as to take special note of what is specifically said about Jesus Christ. As we’ve read, we’ve memorized one verse about the Christ from each of the New Testament books; a “Christ verse.”
During the first 22 days of December we’ll read the letters of Paul that we know today as 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. Come the last week of this year (Dec. 23-31), we’ll reflect on all we’ve read this month. The Christ verses to memorize as we read through these letters in December are:
- “Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5.18)
- “May the Lord lead your hearts to express God’s love and Christ’s endurance.” (2 Thes. 3.5)
- “This saying is reliable and deserves full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’—and I’m the biggest sinner of all.” (1 Tim. 1.15)
- “… anyone who wants to live a holy life in Christ Jesus will be harassed.” (2 Tim. 3.12)
- “… we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2.13)
- “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” (Philemon 25)
Dec. 1 – 1 Thessalonians 1
Dec. 2 – 1 Thessalonians 2
Dec. 3 – 1 Thessalonians 3
Dec. 4 – 1 Thessalonians 4
Dec. 5 – 1 Thessalonians 5
Dec. 6 – 2 Thessalonians 1
Dec. 7 – 2 Thessalonians 2
Dec. 8 – 2 Thessalonians 3
Dec. 9 – 1 Timothy 1
Dec. 10 – 1 Timothy 2
Dec. 11 – 1 Timothy 3
Dec. 12 – 1 Timothy 4
Dec. 13 – 1 Timothy 5
Dec. 14 – 1 Timothy 6
Dec. 15 – 2 Timothy 1
Dec. 16 – 2 Timothy 2
Dec. 17 – 2 Timothy 3
Dec. 18 – 2 Timothy 4
Dec. 19 – Titus 1
Dec. 20 – Titus 2
Dec. 21 – Titus 3
Dec. 22 – Philemon
Dec. 23-31 – reflection
I pray your experience this year with this portion of God’s word has been a blessing to you in many, and powerful, ways. May we ever be students, and servants, of the word. Amen.