people of hope

NOTE: Following is a copy of a discussion guide that could be used in a small group setting, such as MoSt Church‘s LIFE groups. These discussion guides work the same subjects and primary texts as the Sunday morning sermon. You’ll find these guides categorized each week under the category title LIFE group guides.

Aim

To raise our awareness and increase our sensitivity to the fact that as a community of faith, the church is a people possessed by God and that that fact should be obvious to all of the church and to all we encounter.

Scripture

“We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. We’ve done this since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all God’s people. You have this faith and love because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You previously heard about this hope through the true message, the good news, which has come to you. This message has been bearing fruit and growing among you since the day you heard and truly understood God’s grace, in the same way that it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world.” (Colossians 1:3-6 CEB)

Open

Icebreaker questions are intended to get all of us talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. What is something you hoped for mightily as a child that ultimately came to be?

2. What is one thing you have high hopes will happen within the next year?

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple directly with the sermon’s primary Scripture text.

1. How is Col. 1:4 an expression of the first and second great commandments (cf. Mark 12:28-31)?

2. Notice the triad of faith, hope, and love (Col. 1:4-6). How do these three work together?

3. What is the significance of the phrase “the hope reserved for you in heaven?” (Col. 1:5a)?

4. How is truly understanding God’s grace (Col. 1:6) linked to having a healthy understanding of the hope reserved for us in heaven (Col. 1:5)?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us through his word.

1. True hope comes from our encountering and embracing the true story of God (Col. 1:5b-6a). What are some of the false hopes you see people commonly build their lives around because of false narratives they have swallowed about God and life?

2. What roles would you say prayer and thanksgiving play in the care and feeding of your hope?

3. Francis of Assisi once said: “Preach the gospel wherever you go. When necessary, use words.” Remember a person from your past whose life, not their words, served as a strong witness to you of what it means to be a Christian. What was it about their faith that moved you?

4. How can a person develop eyes to see the message of hope bearing fruit among us as people of God (Col. 1:6)? That is, how can a person train their mind’s eye to look for such?

5. A great deal of our individual hope finds its roots in, and is either nurtured or starved by, the actions of others, the others within our faith community. For example, read Romans 12:10-18. Describe how you have seen the signs of true community described in this passage lived out in our church family.

6. Recall some of the spiritual gifts described in the NT (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Pet. 4:10-11; etc.). How does one of the gifts the Holy Spirit has given you enable you to share the reason you have Christian hope?

7. Imagine you’re engaged in conversation with a new Christian. You have the opportunity to plant a seed in them as to how they can best go about sharing their hope with others. What would you tell them? Similarly, what would you encourage them to avoid doing?

8. In your heart of hearts, what is your life’s great hope? Does this hope mesh well with the way you live?

this went thru my mind

Bible: * Is that really in the Bible? You just might be surprised to learn that sometimes what you believe is in there really isn’t. Does the Bible Really Say That? by Rubel Shelly * “Just read your Bible.” Well, it’s just not that simple. Long-time Christians sometimes forget this and so, unwittingly make it harder for newbies or seekers with their encouragement to “Just read your Bible.” What You Should Know Before Reading the Bible by Kristin M. Swenson is a good reminder as to how much is required of folks who open their Bible for the first time and read things for themselves. * The OT and Aprocrypha are now complete for the Common English Bible and are searchable on the CEB website. Come the middle of next week it will be on BibleGateway. Sing it with me: “I want my CEB.”

Geography: Down From Ararat and Hasan: Guardian of the Ark by Ben Witherington.

Generational studies: The Millenial generation, those born between 1980-2000, is of natural interest to many late Baby Boomers such as myself because our children are a part of it. Church leaders need to pay close attention to how Millenials (aka: Generation Y, Echo Boomers; Generation Next) think and relate because those who don’t understand how this generation is different will experience “failure to communicate.” Gabe Lyons’ work on the Millenials, The Next Christians, is being studied by one of our adult classes right now at MoSt Church (the 20’s and 30’s class). Thom & Jess Rainer’s work entitled The Millenials is downloadable right now for free (!) from Amazon if you have a Kindle. Rainer’s study focused on the early Millenials (1980-1991). You can read a two-part interview with the author by Trevin Wax entitled Here Come the Millennials! A Conversation with Jess Rainer here and here.

Humor: Rebelling Against Pew Pencils by Curtis Honeycutt as a guest post on Jon Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like site.

People & ministry: Trust me, they’re out there and here’s an article by a veteran preacher about ministry with them. Dealing With the Preacher-Eaters in the Pews by Joe McKeever.

Prayer: “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” How many times have you heard that? J.R. Daniel Kirk does a fine job of calling that statement out for what it is, a cop-out, in his post entitled That’s What Prayers Are For.