not a flake; part of the flock (1)

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow, Sun., Apr. 15. This guide will enable your follow-up of the first sermon in a series of sermons on some of what it means to be a sheep in God’s flock (Not a Flake; Part of the Flock). The primary text for tomorrow morning’s sermon, and this discussion, is Ezekiel 34. You’ll find these LIFE group discussion guides categorized each week here on my site under the category title “LIFE group guides.”

Aim

To lay down a basic understanding of the life and role of a person who is one of God’s sheep.

Word

I myself will feed my flock and make them lie down. This is what the Lord God says. I will seek out the lost, bring back the strays, bind up the wounded, and strengthen the weak. But the fat and the strong I will destroy, because I will tend my sheep with justice.

As for you, my flock … I will judge between the rams and the bucks among the sheep and the goats. Is feeding in good pasture or drinking clear water such a trivial thing that you should trample and muddy what is left with your feet? But now my flock must feed on what your feet have trampled and drink water that your feet have muddied.

… I will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. You shove with shoulder and flank, and with your horns you ram all the weak sheep until you’ve scattered them outside. But I will rescue my flock so that they will never again be prey. I will even judge between the sheep! …

The nations will no longer prey on them, and wild animals will no longer devour them. They will live in safety, with no one to trouble them. …

They will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are my people. … You are my flock, the flock of my pasture. You are human, and I am your God. This is what the Lord God says. (Ezekiel 34.15-22,28,30-31 CEB)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. If you chose an animal to depict or represent the people of God, what would it be? Why?

2. Life in the church for me has been like dealing with a _____. [name an animal]

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. What positive benefits of sheep do you see stated or implied in Ezk. 34?

2. What negative traits or actions of sheep do you notice, implicit or explicit, in Ezk. 34?

3. How do sheep relate to each other in Ezk. 34? What human behavior is God pointing out?

4. What does God promise to do with his sheep in Ezk. 34?

Reflect

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

1. Why do you think God emphasized this metaphor of his people as being like sheep?

2. What characteristics of sheep do you readily perceive in Christ’s church?

3. What animal would you say the world tends to view Christ’s church as being like? Why?

4. What traits of sheep do you most easily recognize in yourself?

5. What qualities of sheep do you think others see in you?

6. For the sake of the other sheep in the flock, I resolve to be a better sheep of God by ______.

this went thru my mind

 

Complaining: * The Complaining Christian by K. Rex Butts; * Responding to the Complaining Christian by K. Rex Butts

* “… I do wonder how any Christian can contemplate the passion of Jesus and yet complain and manipulate.”

* “In some cases, some complaints are simply the frivolous wines of immaturity and are not worth responding to. So at first, it should be recognized that we need to exercise some discernment in knowing when and when not to respond as well as how to respond. When we do/must respond, here are a few suggestions I believe will greatly help both in the short and long term.”

Grief: What Good Grief Looks Like When a Daughter Dies by Ben Witherington

“The first point immediately confirmed in my heart was theological: God did not do this to my child.”

Leadership & ministry: Did You Know That Ministry Can Make You Feel as if You are Losing Your Mind? by Jim Martin

“Anxious leaders live in a constant state of reaction. For them, a good Sunday morning is when no one complains. Yet, is this the way God wants us to evaluate our assemblies? Somehow I can’t imagine Paul evaluating the church based on the reactions of people.”

Obedience, desire, & duty: C.S. Lewis on Why We Should Do (and read) the Things We Do

“A perfect man would never act from a sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and of other people), like a crutch, which is a substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times; but of course it’s idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (or own loves, tastes, habits etc) can do the journey on their own!”

Offensive & unoffensive: Offensive Jesus? by Michael Kimpan

“Jesus was not at all offensive to the disenfranchised, to the oppressed, to the despised and rejected. Jesus was not all that offensive to sinners. In fact, he was attractive to them. Sure, he was a stumbling block to many… and offended many as well. Namely, the religious.”

Reconciliation & forgiveness: David Lipscomb: Forgiveness and Unity After the Civil War by John Mark Hicks

“Forgiveness only takes one–I forgive my enemies. Reconcilation takes two–a mutual search for peace. But reconcilation cannot happen unless forgiveness comes first. That was true for Lipscomb postbellum and it is true for us post-September 11.”

Religiously unaffiliated: The Religiously Unaffiliated in America by Peter Berger

“At the core … the sharp rise in the number of Americans who declare themselves in surveys as being without religious affiliation. People who study religious statistics, and who also have a sense of humor (the two qualities are not necessarily contradictory), call this demographic ‘the nones’. … In the 1960s the “nones” comprised 5-7% of the population; by the mid-1990s they had grown to 12%; in 2011 the percentage was 19%. … the incidence of ‘nones’ is highest in the age group 30-49. … all ‘nones’ grew by about 18% between 2006 and 2011, but young ‘nones’ grew by about 90% …”

Teenagers: 5 Tips for a ‘First Contact’ With a Teenager by Doug Fields

“… that’s really where we want to be anyway… isn’t it? Getting them talking, so we can listen and learn more about them?”

The Sinner’s PrayerDavid Platt: The Sinner’s Prayer is Superstitious & Unbiblical by Matt Dabbs
[a 3 min. video excerpt of a sermon by David Platt]

“If you ask me what to do, let me point you to Peter, Jesus, and Paul rather than the opinions that are floating around today.”